Monday, December 26, 2016

News Notes For The New Year

1---Congrats to the UK football team for a winning season and an upcoming bowl game. Did you catch all the extra bonus money the coaches got for this?  Now, they worked hard and deserved some recognition, but did they work any harder than the players?  What money did the players get? Any bonus for them?
Is this to open the argument about whether college players should be paid?  Yes; don’t know where I stand on this, yet, but it’s an argument UK needs to hold.
2---speaking of coaches being paid, I know it’s a legal product and we all need one, but it just seems to me to be “unseemly” (for want of a better word) for Coach Cal to be pitching mattresses...or don’t you agree?
3---And Yes, living 3 months longer is important..but have you noticed that “big news” shared in very large letters on the top of buildings by a certain drug maker, hides the very small print that their drug increases life by 3 months on the average.
4---Have you noticed how quiet the pollsters have been since their defeat in the general elections..not even much soul searching, or where the mistakes were, or even promises to “do better." For another view on “the polls” read the obit for Louis Harris in the Sunday H-L, who can be considered the Father of modern polling, a term he disliked. Read why. (And congrats to the H-L for a most interesting year-end section of news pix of the year.)
5---Speaking of year-end, once again major news organizations are doing their lists of top stories of the year, before the year is over...running the risk of leaving out a major story happening, as it has, in the final days.
ABC ran its show on Dec. 20th, including the “hottest trends” of the past year. Now the “mainstream media” have been plenty critical of mixing news and entertainment (and correctly so) which some news programs and channels do. And NBC this Saturday will spend 2 hours looking back on the year’s “buzziest” stories. Sometimes “the media” is its own worse enemy.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forget The Protestors

Forget the party spokesmen, who have their own axe to grind.
Think about your own vote---and that of Kentucky’s.
Why do you keep putting up with letting your vote not count as much as one vote, say in California, or Texas, or New Jersey?  It doesn’t.
Nor does Kentucky’s. Our state is upstaged by many other states...or didn’t you notice how few national candidates visited our state during this year’s elections. (Coming in just to raise $$$$$ or landing at the Cincy airport, in N. Ky., doesn’t count.)
But aren’t our citizens’ votes just as good, and needed by the parties and their candidates just as much as other states???
There’s a simple...and complete answer...the Electoral College.
Set up by the Founding Fathers in an attempt to create a Meritocracy (where the office was supposed to seek the man and not vice versa) or at least in an attempt to keep down the rabble, (you and me), the “college” soon stopped working under its original purpose.
Electors were supposed to use their best, personal knowledge and judgment in the votes they cast.  But soon states required them to vote, by law, for whoever won the popular vote---absolutely opposite what the FF’s intended.
That approach is what we live under today...despite half a dozen elections (including the present one) where the leading candidate in votes did not win in the “college” and so lost. At last count HRC was 2.8 Million votes ahead, tho 27% of Republicans either don’t know that or don’t believe that. This is democracy?
Aye, there’s the rub. Because each party believes the College does or could favor them, they oppose a change.
PBS reported in the past 200 years there have been 700 proposals to amend the Electoral College, more than any other part of the constitution.
But only ONE change matters.
Either you believe your vote is just as good, no more and no less, than the vote of any other American citizen, regardless of where they live..or you don't.  The ONLY change that will live up to our democratic ideal "one person, one vote.” to get rid of that College totally and let the winner be declared by the popular vote across the country.
We’ve wasted over 200 years to make this change,
Let’s get started.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Media Mumbles...and Grumbles

Growing up in journalism, one of the first major things I was taught is...don’t get a name wrong. That was a major sin.
This week a Lexington TV station supered a well known UK player’s name as:  Crisco!
Isaiah is unusual, hard to spell for me, but Crisco?!!!!!!!!!
That capped a slew of bad spelling, typos, or what have you...such as “chld” for “child” and many more. The issue is not bad typing but who is proofreading? (The Herald-Leader gave up proof readers a long time ago, and its stories show that, too. I don’t care what the technical reason is, to have “is” hyphenated over two lines is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.)
Speaking of of our best anchors either wasn’t paying attention, or...when a major story ended with the field reporter doing a length “tag” to the story, the anchor repeated the entire closing tag we had just heard. This is bad writing, bad producing, and just plain not paying attention...and it happens often.
Grammar errors remain, in abundance...and not just on local TV...I see, hear them on network television, on AP copy, in major papers...maybe even a minor reason for not trusting the media, except that these same errors are made by public officials, and ordinary citizens being interviewed.  (Are you paying attention, high school English teachers?)
Such errors creep into our ads, broadcast or print...with even less excuse.
As my old college English teacher, Prof. Henry Higgins told me...English is a noble tongue.  Too bad so many people who use it as a tool in their daily occupation seem to be tongue tied.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, December 5, 2016

Let Me Tell You A True Story

Once upon a time, in a small town in a border state, there was a young boy who had a winter sore throat---nothing serious, his family dosed him with a mix of ginger ale and fruit juices, which he loved. But that was why on a snowy Sunday afternoon, he was in his second floor bedroom listening to a concert on CBS Radio.
Suddenly, an excited voice broke in, “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor!” and we were at war.
December 7th was my generation’s 9/11...and almost as many were killed that day as on 9/11...and in the years of war that followed, many millions more.
Looking back this week, on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, one still has questions.
Did FDR work to provoke the war?  Was a Kentucky admiral made the scapegoat of our lack of defenses at The Pearl?
Why didn’t the radar people know those Japanese Zeros were not our B-17s flying in from California? Did a midget sub really sink the Oklahoma?
On a larger scale, why did Italy, our ally in WWI become our Axis enemy in WWII?  (and how much of that was due to an ex-journalist named Mussolini---elected prime minister on a platform of making Italy great again, before he overthrew its democracy and became dictator...sorry about that, but it’s true, look it up.)
Today, with the passing years, history has changed again. Our Russian allies of WWII are “the enemy” while our foe, the Japanese are staunch friends. President Obama recently made the first trip to Hiroshima of a US president...and the Japanese prime minister has just announced he will be the first to visit Pearl Harbor.  Both visits should have have been made years ago.
What enemies now will be friends tomorrow?  What friends now won’t be in a decade?
Will a president elected by a faulty Electoral College system rise to greatness, or fail miserably and be impeached, as some experienced historians have suggested?
That small boy who heard the war begin in his sickroom has no way of knowing. He is certain of this---there were many heroes that day 75 years ago in a far-off American territory---they need to be remembered, and celebrated..and we need to remember what things we think are “true” today, may not be so in a very soon tomorrow.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump And Castro

As an old and experienced college and grad school protestor (always non-violent) I have been appalled at those violent protests against Mr. Trump.  This is not the way to make your point, and turns off people who might otherwise agree with you. It is impractical as well as hurtful.
Even worse, as a Portland, Oregon TV station reported, half the protestors arrested there had NOT voted.
A vote is your best protest.
And for you non-violent (and lazy) registered voters, all 46% of you who didn’t vote...shame on you.
That said, perhaps Mr. Trump, who always said the election was rigged, will decide not to accept the outcome of it. Fat chance!  About as fat as his tweets are factual. Now, citing no evidence, he says if it hadn’t been rigged, he would have won the popular vote, too.  Late returns, but STILL not all in!!!) show HRC over 2 million votes ahead...rigged, of course.
If you truly believe you won the popular vote, Mr. Trump, that’s a great argument for a constitutional amendment to end the Electoral College and just use that vote. I invited your support for such an amendment.
Now to Mr. Castro...
Few media stories I have seen so far point out that he overthrew a right-wing, military dictator, General Batista, backed by the US.  (Our country has an almost unblemished record for backing dictators thru out South America, when any even mildly liberal reformer rose against them.  I have never understood why---with our history.)
Castro was never the “agrarian reformer” he posed as at the start. But I am not convinced he would have gone as far left, into communism, as he did, had the US shown him any sort of recognition. You didn’t have to welcome Castro but we could have said of Batista “Good Riddance!”
But No...not in the administration of Ike and John Foster Dulles. No way.
There are lessons here..for the incoming President. He may not like Cuba now, but it is a far cry from the early days of Castro. Obama was right (as Nixon was) to begin an opening to improve relations with Cuba, as Nixon did with China. Perhaps Mr. Trump can draw that parallel..and just maybe his business dealings (and interests in more of the same) with both Communist nations will soften his campaign promise to undo what Obama has started.
American business is chomping at the bit to get back to Cuba; hopefully they can talk some sense into him.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 21, 2016


We must get rid of the electoral college.
Once again the person with the highest popular vote did not win. The last check I made showed HRC 1.2 MILLION   votes more than The Donald..but you know the result.
And whatever the reasons for the college 200 years ago, they are gone now.
Either one persons vote is as good, no more no less, than every other voter or it isn’t.  And under the College it isn’t.
There’s a move on to have a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case---allowing corporations, which the court majority held were “persons”—to put UN-limited money into campaigns, without having to account for it (even to stockholders apparently.) I support that, but what is more needed is an amendment ending the College and making one vote equal one vote.
A colleague says that would just mean 50 state challenges over “hanging chads.” I doubt it, but even if there were a few, they are worth it to allow the majority to feel it picked the chief executive, and were not bamboozled out of their choice by slick manipulations of key states.
This is not the first time  the majority winner didn’t become President, nor the 2nd, nor the 3rd. When will we get our democratic practices to match our democratic beliefs??
It’s way overdue, way overdue.  

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 14, 2016


Safe to say few Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) believed even if the Grand Old Party took over the Kentucky House—for the first time in 90 years—it would be by the huge majority it turned out to be.
How did they do it?
The “secret” seems to be to keep after local get the very best possible men and women to run locally.  Privately GOP leaders felt they had a few good local candidates last time (and they gained a few seats,) but this time they had more. The Donald’s coattails didn’t hurt...they helped...or at least the even more basic feeling “It’s time for a change!”
Add the anti-Washington feeling (a bit illogical since Republicans controlled Congress,) the (false) “war on coal” (and a lot of other false ads) millions poured into local races, for the first time, by out of state SuperPacs and it was going to be a hard time for Kentucky Democrats.
OK, the GOP now has its chance, controlling both house and the governor, so the ball---and responsibility—is in its court, and they should be held accountable in the future.
But, what do Kentucky Dems do?
Take a leaf from the GOP playbook and recruit the best possible local candidates, put forth a program/platform for Kentucky’s future (something too long missing from both parties)---which would concisely let them point out its differences from the national party, study the demographics of this election and launch programs to woo back the disaffected, don’t be afraid to take unpopular (but correct) stands, especially on coal’s future..while continuing to work to improve the commonwealth in every way possible---jobs, education, roads, environment and so on.
I strongly believe in the two-party system (or even more.) It was unfair to keep Republicans out of the House for 90 years, no party should have control for that long, but it will take hard work, more than history, to end the present one-party situation in Frankfort.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Turns out the story of the campaign was as old as our Republic, as old as Jefferson vs Hamilton, and if you have any doubts check the Kentucky map on the Herald-Leader’s front page.
2 counties went for HRC, Fayette and Jefferson, the rest, 118 counties,  are a sea of red. Yes, it was rural vs urban.
Of course there are other important demographics, but this was the big one. Yes, it reflects discontent with “Washington” tho the party that controls Congress didn’t seem to suffer much—and don’t they, too share the blame?
We had two candidates with the highest “unfavorable” ratings in history---but one of these
“unfavorables” had to win...and He did (surprising his own party and other GOP contenders who were already working on their race in 2020.)
And he won by campaigning against “the media” tho he is a product of the media...a tv reality show star and the beneficiary of more “free” media time thru news coverage than any candidate ever.
And, my colleagues in “the media” did a bad job.  CBS’ Major Garret pointing out (at last) all the clues reporters missed at those jammed Trump rallies.
As for “the polls” Ho Boy! Nate Silver was wrong, Larry Sabato was wrong, the Real Clear Politics survey of 20 polls turned up only one that had Trump winning. Alan Lichtman was American university professor who uses various indexes of news events to predict the winner and has been right since ‘88, without relying on polls.
Is the system rigged? Only in the sense that we still use an 18th century device, the Electoral College, to determine winners, which is at great odds with democracy’s hope for “one person, one vote.”  (And, BTW, the latest national returns show HRC winning more popular votes than Trump---but not winning. When will we bring 21st Century Democracy up to its promise?)
The President-elect made a good acceptance speech, promising to try to heal our divisions, and to be the President for all the people. As HRC said...we need to give him time to do this, and all pray that he can do it, for the sake of America and all of our futures.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Kentucky voters deserve more than just one debate between candidates for the important office of US Senator, but Republican Rand Paul has avoided all of them until the KET one last night.
And differences between Paul and Democrat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray surfaced with the first question..what’s the most important issue facing America. To Paul it’s our rising national debt; to Gray it’s job creation.
Later in the program both did stress national security so much one wondered just which issue was #1..and here disagreed also. Paul opposes parts of the Patriot Act, as interference in our liberties (and I agree) while Gray implied greater support. They disagreed on foreign aid—Paul would cut it, Gray was more favorable.  They disagreed on the terrorist threat, especially ISIS, but in their joint opposition, their strategy of opposition was quite different.
I have always thought Paul was very vulnerable on the facts of his campaign for President almost as soon as he reached Washington, and Gray has hit him heavily on taking much time away from representing his home state. When Gray asked if Paul would run again for President, Paul didn’t answer, but pointed out, currently, Gray is the one seeking two offices.
Paul spent many months away campaigning, and raising millions on his ill-fated attempt..and what was the result? He got TWO votes at the GOP convention, lowest of any candidate.  Paul counters he still voted 96% of the time in the Senate, a claim I find suspicious or only possible because so few votes were held  due to partisan roadblocks.
Paul opposes a minimum wage hike, Gray supports it.
Paul hit Gray’s record as mayor, especially over our downtown “hole in the ground,” but Gray was a critic of that project when a council member.
Paul tried to link Gray to HRC and her anti-coal views, but Gray pointed out Paul did not vote to fund a vital coal project..paying for retired miners pensions.
And so it went. They are sharply opposed candidates,
You don’t have to vote for either The Donald or HRC, but you should vote in our Senate race.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


‘Course she isn’t much of a politician, this being her first run for office, but the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper at last has dared to touch “the 3rd rail of Kentucky politics”: coal.
On her tv ads and in her recent KET debate with incumbent Republican Andy Barr, she has said that Coal, as we have known it, is over. And it is. It will never again employ hundreds of thousands (or even tens of thousands) of miners in Kentucky...and the sooner this state faces up to that and starts finding new jobs for unemployed miners the better.
(There is enuff guilt here to go around..natural gas competition, Wyoming, “clean coal” projects never supported by operators or the unions, etcetcetc)---but the industry, unions, et al keep denying the current state, and especially the future of King Coal instead of working on solutions that will re-employ miners.
And politicians, at every level and party, keep denying this and delaying solutions.
Ms. Kemper does not...she is not anti-coal, she is not a soldier in the  “war on coal,” she instead feels much more deeply for the miners and their families, and offers solutions.
Now, lest you think the debate was one-sided and she won, it wasn’t, and she didn’t. Barr, a lawyer, was the more skilled debater and made his points more clearly and more often.  But he also often accepted some of the foolish “facts” put out by the RNC. Ms. Kemper also made the debate a re-run of  the national Presidential debate, but also stated some independent positions at odds with her party. Nor did she hesitate to compliment Barr on some of his presentations, where he is knowledgeable after 2 terms in Congress.
He would overturn the Iran nuclear agreement, she would not.  He opposes raising the minimum wage, she is for raising it.  He would repeal Obamacare, she would amend it.  You get the differences.
So take your choice in this race, a microcosm of the national one.
I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, October 20, 2016


The third debate between HRC and The Donald is now history. Moderator Chris Wallace (Mike’s son) of Fox News did the best job yet, but even struggling mightily, it occasionally got out of hand. Wallace had specific areas he wanted them to discuss.
For about 30 minutes Trump behaved, then started interrupting and talking over Wallace, which made it difficult, if not impossible for the audience to understand
Viewers heard largely restatements of views well known, including Trump favors repeal of Roe v Wade, HRC does not.
A supposed discussion of immigration soon descended into views on Putin. during which Trump said he was NOT in favor of more nuclear nations, which may be a change in position.
On the economy both had tax plans which different groups of economists say are better.  And Clinton said her tax plan would not add one penny to the national debt which I very seriously doubt.
Trump laid into HRC for how the Clinton Foundation operated, a “pay for play” when she was Sec. of State, and she fired back about its many global good works, and that several probes had found no proof of his charges.
The BIG event of this brawl, according to most analysts was The Donald saying he would not promise to accept the results until election night...while VP Pence has said the opposite. Frankly, I'm
with Trump on this. He should wait. In 1886 we DID HAVE a rigged election, in 1960 there is evidence that skullduggery in Illinois, if caught, would have elected Nixon, but he chose not to challenge.  (AS for Bush v Gore, we wuz robbed!)
On foreign hot spots, the moderator's next topic, Trump claimed ISIS fighters have left Mosul, because the Obama government told them ahead of time we would attack that city, and that “Aleppo has fallen." HRC disagreed.
On entitlements, Trump would change much in the present plan (as Sen. Paul would have through privatization) while Clinton promised not to change benefits.  Take your choice,
Wallace said no closing statements had been agreed on, and asked each to say why they should be elected. HRC said her election would make us “stronger together”, and Trump said his would “Make America great again. Uh huh.
So the debates end for another season...and I hope the Committee on Presidential Debates has taken note of a lot of changes that need to be made. Frankly, one moderator seems best, maybe 2, and I would let them control the mike switches on both—that should end the incessant interruptions!
To paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, "These debates have been long; ditto ditto this song; but thank goodness they're both of them over!”
I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


HRC didn’t so much as win the 2nd debate as The Donald lost it.

After threatening to make Bill Clinton’s affairs a major deal, even bringing a few of his female accusers there for a last minute media event, he only lightly touched on that issue...and also only once went after Hillary on her e-mail issue, where she is vulnerable.

But that trigger one of the 2 Donald highlights...a threat that if elected he would name a special prosecutor in an attempt to “put you in jail.’  (This may not be legal, and as one critic remarked, would make us a "banana republic.”)

Later, out of the clear blue air he charged “you have hate in your heart.”

These two instances maybe are what led the Washington Post to call this debate “dark and  nasty” and led CBS’s veteran Bob Schieffer to say it was the “most disgusting” debate he had seen in 40 years of campaign coverage.

Trump also hit the coal issue, where HRC is weak, saying there was such a thing as “clean coal” (though the industry has done little to advance it), that he had a plan to put miners back to work (not spelled out) and we had “coal for a thousand years” (though the best estimate is only one-quarter of that.)

He continued to deny his support for the Iraq war, in the face of mounting evidence that he did.

Someday  critics will begin calling this approach what it is...not  “doubling down,” but The Big Lie of Josef Goebbels.

Perhaps the most important critique of the debate came when his disagreements with running mate Mike Pence surfaced, when GOP Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not vote for Trump…and when that wily old Kentucky politician, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, refused in Danville and Lexington talks Monday even to comment on the debate.

The election of HRC is by no means assured, but it took a big step ahead Sunday night, courtesy of Donald J. Trump.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


The veep debate was not what a lot of us expected.

Dem. Tim Kaine, largely praised as a gentle politician who easily worked both sides of the aisle with respect, came out early—swinging and often interrupting—to his detriment. I had not expected a student of the Joe Biden school of debate. Kaine calmed down later, but the damage was done.

The GOP’s Pence didn’t let this get under his skin—and faced with a horrible task: defending many of Trump’s indefensible positions—appeared largely calm. Dare I say he appeared (vice) presidential? As one of my fave analyst, PBS’ Mark Shields said; "don’t tell the top of the ticket.”

Pence also made one strategic point..he mentioned the “war on coal” five times. This may resonate in some key states that have coal mines, including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. While he also attacked HRC, justifiably, for possible conflicts of interest between her roles as Sec. of State and as an official of the Clinton Foundation, he didn’t hit her but once on her e-mail server issues.

Kaine consistently asked Pence to justify Trump’s many lies and distortions, which Pence tried to do, but in many cases could not—the facts are against them. When Kaine calmed down, he made a few good points and consistently raked The Donald over the coals for his tax return problems, of which there are many.  Pence wiggled, but the truth is out there.

The moderator, Elaine Quijano of CBS, was simply not up to the task of keeping order, though she did have some good questions.

I would vote a split decisions, with a nod towards Kaine on substance and debate points, and a nod towards Pence for being calm, cool and vice-presidential.

But why do I sweat any decision….the Republican National Committee inadvertently sent out a news release 90 minutes before the debate started declaring Pence the winner.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Hillary wore RED (state) dress; Donald wore BLUE (state) tie.

Here ended the surprises.

It was pretty much as predicted…HRC came well prepared with specifics (often too long answers) on her views and policies; The Donald was overly broad in his vision for America, backing off of specifics, even when asked several times for them by moderator Lester Holt, NBC News.

(Holt I think did a fairly good job under trying circumstances, only twice asking for proof of the candidates' statements, both times to Trump, and both times not getting it.)

The best political fact checker I know, the Washington Post, summarized this important aspect of the debate this way: "Her misstatements paled  in comparison to the list of Trump exaggerations and falsehoods.”

That included his support for the Iraq war (though he vehemently insisted there were 2 sources to support him and challenged the media to check them,) the “birther” controversy, the IRS audit,  and others.

HRC hit him hard on why he won’t release his tax returns (“what is he hiding? Maybe he paid no taxes” he did in several years of state returns. Trump’s response: “that just shows I’m smart”) Trump said he would “if she will release her 30 thousand DELETED e-mails.”  Kinda hard to do so Trump is safe here.

One surprise: other than that exchange he did not hit Sec. Clinton about her e-mail problems, which polls show is a big negative for her.

Overall impression, a broad one, real news, both repeated their basic positions, but I have a general feeling this one went to the lady. (Near the end Trump made the mistake of challenging her “stamina” for the job, when it appeared he was rather tired, this being his first 90 minute debate.)

At the start of each campaign “the media” tell us debates don’t matter. Then, in many of them, as events move along, suddenly “the media” realizes “this time” they “could” be important.  They are always important.

As Jason Robards opined in “All the President’s Men”, “only the future of the republic  is at stake.”

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, September 19, 2016


While I was watching UK win its first game, I was gritting my teeth because the SEC network crew/broadcast was so bad!

Let me confess that I never liked the idea of an SEC network, feeling it was just another way for the most cash rich conference of all to squeeze more money out of fans. I was especially afraid each local cable system would charge extra...and I wasn’t going to pay that, even if it meant not watching the Cats. (which, given their record that year wasn’t a bad decision.) But, bless you TWC, you didn’t and you deserve credit...just as UK doesn’t for hiking ticket prices.

Anyow ,the broadcast team last Saturday was badddd. So were their graphics, when they had them. (They lost the ability to show how much time remained to get the ball snapped, and other non-important items...with nary a mention that they had, the cause, or why they suddenly came back...but just for one team. This coming after the failure of the headphone system left viewers with many questions, all UNanswered.)

But back to our stellar broadcast crew.  Try these..."The pass was caught…it’s incomplete”   ???

Or Mark Stoops jawing with several officials for a lonnngg time without any explanation of why or what.

Or 2 crucial occasions when the clock didn’t start…with no explanations.

Or “The flag is down...on the ground.”  Darn if it wasn’t.

And those stupid commercials...OK, broadcast  crew has nothing to do with that, but:

Does anyone know why Chase Bank would use some small porker in its ads, or what that voice is saying as the white piglet ambles along, or when the last time was that you saw a pig, or any animal in a bank?

Then there’s the milk of magnesium lady, who appears on a plane, without TSA screening...or those 2 Drivetime harridans who yell at people (losing my business righht there!)..or the non-funny Dr. Pepper salesman who has outlived his time…I could go on and on...

Some Uk games are bad enuff; we shouldn’t have to settle for lousy broadcasts, and their stupid commercials.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, September 11, 2016


The tragedy of 9/11 is very fresh to most of us, and I wished we had learned more lessons from it than we have. Saw one list in the papers about “things you have probably forgotten” about those events.

Let me add one of my own.

The almost immediate desire of Congress to shield the airlines and others guilty of the most horrible breaches of security from being sued. Before the twin towers many different media had pointed out major lapses---showing how easy it was to smuggle arms, explosives, knives and box cutters (!) on board.  After each story the airlines promised to improve---but did not.  (Similar stories have run periodically since 2001, btw.)

Then came 9/11..and nearly 3000 people died. Remember the video tapes of the hijackers going easily thru security in Boston and other cities? I do. Congress did, but acting with enormous speed---which Washington can do when its interests (not ours) are threatened—it said the airlines couldn’t  be sued. Once again, Big Business, which had contributed to members of Congress in major ways---their identities often protected behind weak election laws (and now totally so by the Supreme Court’s infamous “Citizens United” decision) got its way…and the families of the victims never got their day in court—against U.S. firms..although Congress last week allowed them to sue Saudi Arabia because most of the hijackers came from there. (And we wonder why American Muslims feel threatened.)

There was another recent anniversary observed by the news media…of our bombing of Laos in the Vietnam war (never declared by Congress). More bombs fell in 2 years on this NEUTRAL nation that on Germany & Japan during WW2 combined. Some stories called the bombing “covert’ or “secret.” It was also illegal, Congress never declared war here either.

30% of the bombs failed to explode. An estimated 80 MILLION un-exploded bombs are there...many little “bomblets” which look like baseballs, and which have killed and maimed Laotian kids ever since.

On his visit there last week, Mr. Obama announced a tripling of aid funds to help find and defuse them. About time.

These are some of the things all Americans should remember about our past wars and why we should follow the Constitution and go to war legally and carefully.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I recently got one of those BIG flat screen sets…and I still can’t read the fine print at the bottom of some ads. How can they be legal? (I guess because in most cases they are reprinted, hopefully in larger type, in a sales agreement to be signed. Still…)

Thanks to the new set I did learn:

The lawyer in this ad is NOT licensed in Kentucky.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for this mattress  is 29%  (yes, the interest rate on the loan is that high; how can this be legal?)

Needed at closing: $3000.  (It may be $199 a month, but…)

Some Buicks cost more than some Mercedes.

You will be entered for a gift card worth “UP TO…$50.”  $50 seems hardly too much; what’s “up to?"  10, maybe?

Congrats to WKYT for airing the tenth anniversary memorial for flight 5191 live. This is what local stations should do more of. Full disclosure: KYT is my former  employer.

And even more congrats to KET which in a few weeks will observe the 40th year of Comment on Kentucky, one of the nation’s longest running public affairs shows. Thanks to KET, Mark Hebert and Chris Galligan a lot of former hosts (myself included) and panelists and staffers got together to thank Len Press, founder of KET, and Al Smith, host for 30 plus years, for the contributions this program has made to issue discussion in our state.

Then there was the network anchor who, referring to the arrest of 2 drunken pilots in Glasgow, Scotland—before their flight to the USA—called this a “trans-continental” flight. No, that would take it the wrong way, east across Europe.  Trans-oceanic is the word.

And, sadly, Charles Osgood will soon leave as host of the top news program on the air..Sunday Morning on CBS. I was a little unhappy when he took over for founder Charles Kuralt, but he proved me wrong and the show’s audience has increased. Good luck to CBS to find another “Charles” as good. May the third time be charm.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 22, 2016


1. Gov. Bevin has come up with $500,000 dollars and hired one of America’s most Republican law firms (though as all good firms do, they contribute to both parties) to probe possible law violations in Democratic Gov. Beshear’s administration. (The firm is Taft—yes That Taft from Ohio who ran for President--- Stettinius & Hollister.)

Where did this half million bucks come from..OK, from where did this money come? We were told Kentucky had a very, very tight state budget, and now, up pops all this money. Hope it wasn’t diverted from “widows and orphans.”

2. May I commend two articles in Sunday’s Herald-Leader to you. One is the history (very current history) of vote buying in Eastern Kentucky, by the Center for Investigative Reporting---practically “torn from the front pages" tho our local tv stations gave the latest (but not the last) federal trial very little coverage.

Second is Paul Prather’s religion column, headlined “Yes, it’s true: Evangelicals used to be Christianity’s liberals.” (Gasp.) And it is true. Much food for thought here, and in a second column to come later.

I have always believed Jesus was one of history’s great rebels. (A revolutionary for good.) And if you contrast his “platform” against that of the Roman “party”, he certainly was the Liberal of his time.

Do read them both.

3. A lot has been made in the media of the recent death of John McLaughlin, ex-Jesuit priest and founder/host of the “McLaughlin Group” on PBS. Other than the death of any person to his family and friends, I do not mourn his passing. His was the MOST UNCIVIL discussion program of public issues on the air, where discourtesy and impoliteness ruled..and trumped any discussion of merits or non merits. I once asked KET to take it off the air because it was contributing zero to public manners and understanding of issues. Not a chance was the reply; it’s our most popular program.  (Says a lot about Kentucky, doesn’t it?)

4. Finally, just as Kentucky says it may study reinstituting private prisons , the U.S. announces it will no longer use them. Why? They don’t work. (And that’s just one of several reasons I have in opposition, including that some private prison officials have been charged with bribery in order to get state contracts.)

The more things change,…..

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, August 14, 2016


But not the way he means it.

It’s even worse.

Your vote in Kentucky does NOT count as much as one person’s vote in  MANY other states.

All because of a quirk in our constitution that MAY have been OK 200 years ago, but not today.

It’s that “college”; the Electoral College.

Basically states get votes in the college equal to their house and Senate members. The House is supposedly based on population, but even updated every ten years, the proportion between the total in Congress and the college votes become not only out-of-whack, but the disproportion grows among the states.

There is NO ratio that even a super computer can set up that will ever allow 1 vote in Kentucky to be equal to one vote in every other state.  Solution: end the Electoral College and elect the president by popular vote. Then 1 vote in Rhode Island equals 1 vote in Nevada, and in all the rest, no more, no less.

Either you believe in one person, one vote or you don’t. I do. ALL other attempts to modify the “College’ will NOT provide for one person, one vote. It’s far past time to bring our ideal of democracy into our actual practice.

I'm just sayin'...

(To hear other views, maybe even express your own, watch “Kentucky Tonight” Monday 8/15 at 8pm on KET)

Sunday, August 7, 2016


“There is a mysterious cycle in Human Events.”  FDR  (Mitch belives that also, see his new book “The Long Game.”)

For years the GOP dominated our politics. Then, as FDR and Mitch know, the political pendulum swung to the Dems. Now, it may, or may not, swing back---tho the actions of the state Democratic party and leaderships are certainly giving the GOP every reason to believe it will happen.

Meanwhile, what needs to change is: Fancy Farm!

(GASP—you want to change a sacred Kentucky tradition?)

Dang right.

Have you listened to the UNcivil discourse from there?  (Watch KET Monday night at 8).

The catcalls, boos, even bull horns (til they were banned) try to drown out what the “other guy..or gal” is saying.  That is not the way America progresses. We need to hear all voices in order to decide on the best candidates and the best way to solve our most pressing issues.

I think Fancy Farm has woefully failed here…and will continue to do so.

It’s time for a new, non-partisan, civil Fancy Farm…and I nominate the Bluegrass as where it should be held. Whether centrally located, non partisan Lexington, or Centre College (which has considerable experience in these things,) or Father Jim and his experience in grabbing the big names (sorry he’s leaving but his Richmond church might easily outpace St Jerome’s, in time,) or area League of Women voters groups, or…various coalitions.

America needs something like this. Lord knows Kentucky needs something like a civil Fancy Farm. So let’s get an umbrella group formed, and maybe by the next Presidential election it will be cold craft beers and warm burgoo...and speeches people can hear…from here.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 31, 2016


1. PBS got its act together and did a better job of convention coverage, mainly because it solved its over-riding audio problems from RNC..but I’m still very unhappy the “mainstream” networks reduced their coverage to an hour at 10pm.

2. A leading pollster told a DC paper "Right now, the polls don’t mean a thing!” Much too much time til November..but I would point out the “Odds” not the polls with 2 major candidates are that  each has a 50/50 chance to win.  And that ought to give everyone, in either camp, the heebie-jeebies.

3. Gray lives matter.  Freddy Gray did NOT kill himself.   Baltimore should continue its probe, and maybe into its prosecutor’s office.

4. Any city with a local paper needs a columnist who chronicles its fables and Joe Creason and hundreds of others have proven. For Lexington, Don Edwards was that person. He died recently, and his wit and wisdom will be missed.

5. Don’t know what Don would think about his old paper being printed in Louisville, but I view it as an unmitigated news disaster. It may be fine for the bottom line, it will not be good for important evening news which will NOT be in next day’s paper. City council meetings, school board meetings, zoning hearings, etc. that last beyond 9pm (maybe 8pm) simply won’t appear the next day.

If only local broadcast media realized what a golden opportunity this is for them  (including one promoting “new” news at 11) to set up expanded city hall and school coverage; if only…

6. Lexington has become a city much  more friendly to bikes. Many cities, in the US and around the world, held Naked Bike Ride days recently.  Don would have loved that. Don’t think Lexington is quite ready for in London ( England, that is) both sexes took to the streets naked. In that UK, it is NOT against the law for women to be naked in public, only men.

7, Many people thru out Lexington were horrified at the cold blooded murder of a priest in a small Normandy town last week..because so many of us have been there, thanks to the Sister City program. What bothers me is that there are thousands of such churches thru out France, and other countries, and if terrorists wage war on them, there isn’t a police force in the world that can protect them all. If this is their new tactic, God help us.

8. If you have some spare time this week, Google “Charles Whitman.” See if you think we have learned much in the past 50 years.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 24, 2016


No, not the people running the show, but my colleagues in the media covering it.

I’ve reported on 14 conventions and this was not good…starting with the mainstream decision not to do major coverage in prime time.

NBC trumpeted “unsurpassed coverage”---all squeezed into one hour at 10pm, as did CBS/ABC.  So on the first day, with the floor fight over rules change, there was no over the air coverage then. (It was, I am told on “streaming”===NOT the same.)  Nor did they summarize this fight in the UN-coverage at 10.

CBS’s sage, Bob Schieffer (24th convention) was promoted once, and NEVER got on. He was brought on too late 2 other times and his good remarks were cut short.

But the really bad coverage belonged to PBS (trying to co-operate with NPR and not succeeding.) My basic watching was C-SPAN, because they focus on the podium and speakers and PBS, because I like Shields and Brooks.

Judy and Gwen were totally lost first night  It has been four years since their last convention, but…these are supposed to be pros. This type of coverage is not their long suit.

Sitting next to each other they complained they couldn’t hear each other because the noise from the floor. This is NOT new. And might have been helped by the right audio mix, but it wasn’t...even a day or so later. And it took til the final night to get the right headsets on guests---but not on Gwen and Judy. Was that because of hair and make-up issues?

And one of the NPR experts mis-identified a major senator.

As to the 3 major cable networks, I have come up with a rule. The amount of wisdom and important information offered is in inverse proportion to the number of panelists.  CNN loves 6-8 panelists. Good info gets lost.

Good to see Brian Williams back on MSNBC, which had similar panelists problems.

Well, the practice and rehearsal is over. Let’s hope coverage of the Dems' convention goes better.

After all, as Editor Jason Robards once opined on the Watergate coverage..”Only the future of the Republic is at stake!”

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

BEFORE ESTILL COUNTY GLOWS IN THE DARK: (which isn’t going to happen!!!)

But, the decision by the Attorney-General not to pursue criminal charges should be a warning to us all. (The county has filed civil charges.)

Kentucky has a law against the dumping of the type of nuclear wastes which were dumped, many tons so,  still in Estill County...that much is not in dispute.

So, either (1) the attorney-general is wrong, (2) the law is too weak to be enforced or win in court, or (3) it has been badly administered…by the state (and almost surely ignored by the waste disposal industry.)

You know darn well that industry knew what it was bringing to Kentucky, and also should have know that stuff was prohibited. The history of this industry is replete with violations in many states, of many types of materials—as well as infiltrated by mob sources from Long Guyland and New Joisie  (sorry Gov. Cuomo and Mr. Soprano).  But that type of situation exists only because state laws are weak and badly enforced.

Kentucky has a rich and lousy history here.  (Google Maxey Flats and especially a Courier-Journal editorial of June 2, 2015.

Estill Countians have a right to be upset---but so should all of us. (BTW, which came first...the landfill or the nearby county high school??)

For it continues to show, after Maxey Flats, we just haven’t learned.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 3, 2016


West Virginia holds the distinction of being the only recent state to send two governors to Democrat, one Republican. (Corruption is bi-partisan there.)

Kentucky has been lucky…for now.

I say that because I have just finished a book on my summer reading list...all about politics and corruption in our neighbor---and how one investigative reporter helped uncover it.

The book is “Afflicting the Comfortable” by the late Tom Stafford.  Tom was a colleague and competitor when I worked in West Virginia.

What the book brings out is what happens when fraud and kickbacks and corruption are considered commonplace, and how they affect many parts of society. Also, what happens when elected officials, especially governors don’t enforce high ethical standards and when legislatures don’t supervise state agencies spending millions of our dollars. (West Virginia’s experience in investments mirrors some of the problems of Kentucky’s retirement systems…many years earlier. Couldn’t we have learned???)

Guess not, the ethical controls put in place in this state since the BOPTROT scandal of the '90s have, over the years been done away bit piece-by-piece as lawmakers chafed under being “ethical.”

But he also points out problems with the media, which didn’t pursue all the clues to scandal there as they might have…and why the media today (and that includes our Kentucky media) is less likely to pursue such investigations.

The book is not without its faults and errors. What he considers ethical for reporters to do is not always what I would have them do, and so instructed my staff. But his book is important and an eye-opener. It should be required reading in Journalism schools, in ethical discussions and for those who seek to be members of an important, but vanishing tribe, investigative journalists.

It would also be cautionary reading for citizens who should demand much more of their elected officials, and those  same officials if they are going to do their jobs properly.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I honor Pat Summitt, most of us do.  Perhaps we should remember she was ready to come coach at UK, when UT offered to pay her moving expenses, estimated at $500, and UK declined.  The rest is history. (And we lost Bear Bryant similarly.)

To really honor Coach Summitt, how about more money for research into Alzheimer’s??

While the U.S. Flag Code is only advisory, and largely toothless for penalties, it does represent Congress’s considered judgment on how best to display and use Old Glory.

Among its prohibitions: using the flag in any form of advertising, using it in any way as an article of clothing, etc.

So take off all those bikinis that look like skimpy flags….and as for the NBA player with the flag emblazoned across his uniform’s  rump, that may be his idea of how to express Patriotism.

It is not mine.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Happens this week, and not in Kentucky, or even the US.  England will vote on whether to remain in the EU—the European Union of some 20 countries---or leave.

It’s still our 2nd most important election because of the impact it will have on the US, depending on how the vote goes. There have been background stories in our papers, but little on national TV, though you should start seeing coverage this week. (It appears the murder of young Jo Cox, an “MP”---member of Parliament—was related to the vote. Hers is an even sadder case than our own Gabby Giffords.)

For the best TV coverage of this issue, watch the 11pm BBC news on KET. By midnight Thursday, or early Friday, we should know the outcome.

And, btw, England is our Mother Country---many of our own democratic traditions originated there.  Several years ago, Scotland voted on whether to leave the UK or not; now there’s this important referendum. Why can’t the US do the same?  I know of no laws preventing it.

For a starter, how about adding one more decision to our November ballot…Yes or No:

Congress should return to the bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines it imposed years ago…and then let lapse.

That could write a new chapter for the nation that claims to be the world’s greatest democracy.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, June 5, 2016


In Louisville a proposal has been made to solve 2 problems…remove the statue of the Confederate soldier and replace it with one of Ali.


Better we put up a plaque at that downtown diner that refused him service when he came home from winning an Olympic gold medal...because he was black, and Louisville/Kentucky was segregated.

We need reminders of our past history, and what courageous blacks did to stir our consciences and get us to correct past wrongs. Ali is a fine example of that---maybe even The Greatest.

We need to remember him when he exercised the right of every American to protest unjust laws and when he took his stand against the Vietnam war—saying his religion forbade taking lives in war, that “no Viet Cong had ever called him nigger," and he didn’t want to go kill brown people in behalf of their white colonial oppressors. (And the more you know about French policy of its former colony the more you know he was right.)

He stood against war—always dangerous in our society (remember more recently the Dixie Chicks?) It took 3 years for the Supreme Court to decide Ali was right.  Meanwhile professional boxing (always a sleazy sport) blackballed him from fighting in his best years.

How do we look at the 'Nam war today? Or Iraq and those great WMDs?

That’s how to remember Ali…as the Conscience of our Nation (and our World.)  I think he’d like that...and as he also said "maybe how pretty I was.”

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 23, 2016


1—if my Democratic friends think they will have a cakewalk this fall, and HRC or Bernie, will waltz into 1600 Pa. Avenue, think again. Trump has been a masterful campaigner, bringing out many, many people to his rallies (as The Bern has) and that bodes well for the fall.  And even with prominent defections from his cause, party histories are, they kiss and make up before the vote.

2—But this is a  unique presidential year. Never have the polls shown so many people rejecting the 2 major party candidates as unworthy or with such high negatives; never.

3---That said, forget most of such polling. It is MUCH too early for polls to mean anything. (Remember in Iowa 13 polls in advance of its famous  caucus were all wrong!) Wait till mid-October.

4—Speaking of October, this may well be the year of the “October Surprise.” What would ISIS (or other terrorist groups) give to influence our elections by causing some major, tragic event this fall close to voting time. How would that influence the outcome?

5---A “dead heat” poll is not 43-46% with the margin of error (MOE) at 3%. That’s a close race, but not the dead head major media reported over the weekend. 46-46 is a dead heat.

6---But, for the first time we are seeing polls (see item #3 above) showing Trump ahead of HRC (but not Sanders) and this should give Dems some concern. (see item #1 above)

7—In short, keep your powder dry, don’t make any election bets  just yet, and…Stay Tuned.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


1---Something is wrong when, in an election for President, “in the world’s greatest democracy” the turnout is 21%. America MUST solve how to get more people to vote...and until a better idea comes along, I favor fining people who don’t vote...or taking away their driver’s license. (That oughta get ‘em.)

2—Yes “the system IS rigged” by those who have money against the rest of us. The Citizens United decision must be reversed, and if it takes a constitutional amendment to do so, let’s get started.

3---Let’s also get started on the most UNdemocratic part of our Constitution—the electoral college. Either you favor “one person, one vote” or you don’t. As long as the “college” exists, that is impossible. It needs to be eliminated.

4---And we need to start now to get Kentucky added to a growing list of states who reapportion themselves by some method other than letting the legislature do it.  Talk about conflict of interest! There are good ways, using people who are expert in  geography and population…and fairness. The next census isn’t that far away.

5—Did you notice the major media in Kentucky had no “polls” in their stories recently about our presidential primary? This follows the abject failure of the polls in recent state for governor and senator.  (Other states haven’t gotten the message...there were 13 polls in advance of the Iowa caucus; all wrong.)  But, stand by…someone will claim their polling approach is more accurate and this fall or next time, Kentucky media stories will be full of them.

6---Did you also notice how local media, especially broadcasters, did NOT bother to cover such minor elections as for Congress or Senate? They used to ride those campaign buses, show the candidates meeting the people in Gravel Switch and Salyersville—but apparently no more.

And we wonder why the turnout is so low???

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Full disclosure:

1—I have never smoked.

2—I support medical marijuana use.

3---I support Kentucky’s plans to cultivate industrial hemp (NOT the same as marijuana) as we used to do.


I would seriously restrict tobacco smoking as much as possible, including the statewide ban that failed in the last legislature, mainly because it is the most preventable cause of serious sicknesses.

I believe, and wait for scientific proof, that smoking marijuana has some similar health problems as tobacco.

BUT, that proof is lacking today.

Three states that have legalized marijuana have had traffic accidents among marijuana smokers DOUBLE in recent months.

A AAA researcher says there is today no consensus of what might be the equivalent for smoking marijuana of the .08 blood alcohol level for drinkers.

I think it’s out there…and the research goes on.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 2, 2016


I watch a lot of TV, mainly PBS, and see a lot of ads. (Yes, even PBS/KET have succumbed to running ads these days!  Drat.)

I don’t know which is worse..the medicine ads or the lawyer ads. I guess perhaps the lawyer ads about medicine.

If I never hear corticosteroid again it will be too soon..or “messy-feel-lee-oh-ma(ha!), if I could spell it.

And why there  so many drugs with made up names starting with X, but pronounced as  Z. Something wrong with Z?  Are Zeus and Zorro out of favor?

(There’ll always be an ad man, and a lawyer…but must we hear those voices telling us."Don't take X if you are allergic to it!”  I mean, give me a break.)

Those lawyer ads are going down hill. The Hammer used to have whimsical, funny ads…no more. The best of what’s left are the Morgan Family ads..even if they "Ulti-muttly” go to the dogs.

But the ads that defy all logic are on the Fox 10pm news..A commercial says.."This portion of the 10pm news is brought to you by Sam’s tattoo and vampire shop.”  Two minutes later comes another ad…”This portion of the 10pm news is brought to you by Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe.”  Which means what Sam has brought you is a couple of commercials, NOT the news.  Why Sam, why?

And so it goes…"ad” nauseum,."

I'm just sayin'