Monday, December 18, 2017

Has Ashley Judd Gone Hollywood On Us?

I have admired Ashley Judd for years...not because she is from Kentucky, or a UK grad, or a BBN supporter, not even for her good looks and acting talent, but because she came from modest circumstances and has truly made something of herself, while giving back to her home, her country—and even on the international level where she is a activist working to end AIDS and human trafficking for various UN and other agencies.
So, it came as something of a shock when she spoke recently at UK and barred radio & tv stations from covering her address. To my knowledge she had never imposed such a ban in her several previous talks at UK. Why would she now impose such a ban, and why would UK even agree to it???
Several weeks of digging leave me very unsatisfied...but UK says its PR people received this request from her representatives, not Judd herself. Surprisingly, for people in the media relations business, they didn’t ask why? So we don’t know why someone whose career has been promoted by all the media, both at home in Kentucky and around the world, would try to cut out some of the media, especially TV, from covering an important step in her career.
Even more, why would UK agree to such a ban? It can’t help its relations with local media, and, IMHO, it is probably illegal. I have some memories, which at my age should be treated carefully, that there are some court cases that say a PUBLIC institution may not bar any of the media from covering a PUBLIC event, which this was, without violating the First Amendment.  I have been googling this,  but so far haven’t come up with anything definitive.
Private schools may be different, so are private individuals...but she is not. She is a “public person” as the courts have defined in previous cases.
So I am left I am on other points-- why would UK say it would go along? I think it needs to answer this to Kentuckians, and to local media. Why would Ashley Judd even ask for it? I think she, not her representatives, need to answer this question also.
Even more, why have local media not protested? That includes the Herald-Leader, which as students were, was allowed to record her talk “for note taking purposes only.” What’s the difference from that (which print reporters learned long ago---from broadcasters---was important for getting a better and more accurate story) and letting radio reporters actually cover her talk?   BTW, the H-L has a “news partner,” a local TV station, so why not object and uphold the First Amendment? The silence from local media is deafening it has been from the local chapter of the SPJ—the Society of Professional Journalists. Maybe they don’t think her one fall from grace is important. Time magazine would disagree; it named her as one of its “persons” of the year for her work in bringing out sexual harassment claims, and bringing down a group of alleged perpetrators.
Once anyone gets away with such bans, which I do believe violates the First Amendment, other violations become that much easier—and we are all the losers here.  Let’s hope, on her next visit to UK, she has a better view of our history—as she works to improve America, and the world.
And let’s hope all the local media live up to their responsibilities to that First Amendment as well.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, December 10, 2017


We know the President is a tweeter—his campaign tweets changed the course of US politics, and he continued tweeting as our Chief Executive; many of them at odds with what he tweeted during the campaign. Was that (1) inconsistency (2) change of mind (3) typical politician’s breaking promises, or (4) something else?
But thru all of this, Mr. Trump maintained the tweets were his own. Indeed his # (hashtag) “REALDonaldTrump" emphasized and reinforced this. Reporters questioning White House officials were assured all these bearing that hashtag were from the President, even though some appeared rather outlandish to many of us.
Now, we have been told otherwise.
Which raises more questions about our President.
It seems one such tweet was actually written by Mr. Trump’s lawyer instead; though it was put out as coming from #REALDonaldTrump.  It was an attempt to get the President off the hook in a probe Congress and the Special Prosecutor are conducting into possible Russian meddling in our elections.
While this admission didn’t get much media attention recently, I think it’s very significant, and so do some federal courts.  One hearing into his travel ban on majority Muslim countries has caused his administration big trouble. Trump maintains in court that his ban is not religiously oriented, but an attempt to ban people from “terrorist nations” from coming here and threatening our security. (Despite the fact that no terrorist plots in the US have come from people from most of these nations.)
But Mr. Trumps tweets say otherwise, and this has been cited in court. A majority of the 4th US Circuit court cited his tweets about Muslims as indicating the ban’s real motives were religiously based, and that would mean a possible violation of the First Amendment; and an end to the bans, unless the Supreme Court decided otherwise.
So his tweets have gotten the President in trouble, BUT suppose the offending tweets were NOT written by him (as he claims) but by someone else in the White house, as his lawyer has claimed already in another case???
Who can we poor citizens believe?: a President who has been a model of inconsistency, saying one thing on the campaign trail and the opposite in office?? OR his lawyer, or some other White house official, whose job it is to make the Boss look good???
More importantly, can we now take any tweet coming from #RealDonaldTrump ever again as coming from our President?
“Fake News” has been succeeded by “Fake Tweets.”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Washington & Frankfort: Some Thoughts

In Frankfort recently we have seen the sexual harassment tragedies bring down a good man, Republican House speaker Jeff Hoover, a stunning blow to many of us. But while the end result of this is still not known, there are some things we can comment on.  Whatever money was paid to settle his case, it did not come from public funds although we have only the assurances of state officials here. Since we do not know from where it came, we are taking this on faith.
In Washington, where  at least one previous House speaker, also a Republican, Dennis Hastert, was forced to resign in another sexual case, such settlements may well have been paid from public funds...that is money from you and me, and there is NO public accounting of this. (Which may well violate the Constitution, more later.)
Since 1997 Congress has paid out at least $15 million to settle similar cases, the latest being that of Mich. Democrat John Conyers, who at 88 is the longest serving member of the present House. All such settlements against what member and how much are kept secret and are paid by a special fund in the Treasury set up by Congress in 1995; and on the OK of just 2 members, the chair and ranking member (the top GOP and Democratic member) of the committee where the offending member has his chief committee seat.  So 2 people can spend taxpayer funds. (And you thought there had to be a vote by the full Congress!!)
Other than the secrecy involved Congress takes care of its own even before the nation, and certainly before us citizens...this probably violates a section of the Constitution which says the Treasury shall pay the Nation’s(??) debts, when approved by Congress (??) and “from time to time” shall make “a public accounting.”
Of course “from time to time” could mean 100 years from now; much as Senator McConnell argued the Senate did not have to take up President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court within any definite time, and indeed waited a year before Trump was elected so a more conservative choice would come before the Senate. (Most Constitutional scholars, as well as myself think Mitch was dead wrong.) One person should not have been able to effectively amend the Constitution, which he did.
If you think this was wrong, here is a burning issue: public money being paid, in secret, to settle the private violations of the law—then mark your calendars to raise it when Kentucky Congressmen, including local Rep. Andy Barr, and his Democratic challenger come before you next year.
In the meantime, there is a proposed 28th amendment to the Constitution going around. If passed it would prevent Congress from exempting itself from the same laws that govern the rest of us...and that, too, is an issue to lay before candidates for Congress, as well as state House & Senate members, who can—and should—petition Congress to pass it.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Surely You Have Also Noticed

How many more shootings there are...and in more neighborhoods; and with more shots fired, and with more innocent bystanders killed or wounded?
So, are you going to continue to say it won’t happen here, or to me...until the bullet labeled “To Whom It May Concern” arrives? 
Doesn’t  that tragic Texas church shooting freeze the blood in you?
Please, don’t give up for there are things that we can do. There is even a small, bi-partisan movement in the Senate to make some changes.
Without going into a 2nd Amendment debate, isn’t there some minimum steps we can agree on: such as:
Close the gun show loopholes, which isn’t fair to local gun store owners.
Mentally impaired people should not be allowed to buy such weapons. And the national registry for such people must be made fool proof. It wasn’t in the Texas case. Ditto convicted felons, those on the terrorist watch list, etc.
Statistics on shooting incidents must be collected; they aren’t now. So those on all sides of this argument can have facts, not opinions.
But, bottom line, get rid of the old argument which isn’t true that "guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It takes both.
Then we can come up with practical, non- 2nd amendment views that put BOTH guns and people into our discussions and come up with common sense answers to stop this bloody, senseless, “job-killing” carnage.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Once More Into That Breach

More and more women come forth to charge men in authority or power with behaving like idiots, or bastards towards them. Even former President Bush, at 90, has been charged with “groping” and recently, too!
And why don’t men understand why they were so reluctant to make these charges public for years? (which not only works against these women, and fails to warn other women, but may let some truly slimy characters like Roy Moore in Alabama get off.)  If they had just had the courage to go public some years ago how much better it would have been?
But, can these women be believed, even now?
Some of them, absolutely.
A few of them, No Way!
Do I believe some of them are using this mass event to get publicity for faded careers, or spark a lawsuit (perhaps for money) or to call attention to themselves?  Yes, I do.
The problem is: how do you tell into which category any individual woman falls?
Thru the courts or some judicial process, that’s how...not by rushing to call a news conference to join the List.  Don’t get me wrong...little of this would have come out without the news media, which we in Kentucky know better than most in the startling case of ex-House Speaker Hoover.
One person may lie, others may repeat it, making the first charge their own against some prominent person.  It’s still a lie.  Truth is not subject to math.
The way to get to the bottom of this is to file charges, not just make them, and let the courts do their job. Women may have been unable to get justice 30 years ago, but that time hopefully is long gone. (And yes, some form of the judicial process should be at work in Mr. Hoover’s case so the citizens of Kentucky get the full facts and can make an informed judgment.)
Bless you Louie C.K. for your “coming out” and admission of wrongdoing. For the rest, the courts are probably the best, and only answer.
Until then, may I repeat:  Presumption of innocence is the absolute foundation of American Justice, and that Justice is ill-served if we jump to conclusions early on. Accusations are not justice. While these sad cases will probably continue for some time, please bear that in mind.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 6, 2017

In Praise Of Print

Several of my newspaper colleagues, and some J- school teachers and historians I know, consider newspapers are past their prime, dinosaurs of the past in a digital age, and wonder why they haven’t gone that way, too.
Kentuckians had a good example of why over this past week.
The Speaker of the Kentucky House, after days of swearing “No Way!” resigned suddenly, just four days after the Courier-Journal published a story that he had engaged in sexual harassment of his staff. Long time statehouse reporters were stunned. This is the Kentucky equivalent of the Speaker of Congress (3rd in line for the Presidency) doing the same...which has also happened because the media had published stories neither party wanted published.
Who does hold public officials, and our political parties accountable?  The Press, and—let me say it as a long time broadcast journalist, mainly the print media.  (Is Watergate so far away in our recent memory?)
The same week the C-J did all of us a public service, I was about to write a blog praising Paul Prather and Tom Eblen, columnists for our Herald-Leader.
Mr. Prather’s weekly column on religion should be must reading for any of us who consider ourselves “religious," and not just “Christians.” He has reminded me of lessons from my early Sunday School, and put them in today’s context in a marvelous way, illuminating and down-to-earth. You do NOT have to agree to come away from reading him with a sense of reaffirmation of the good that most of us aspire to, whether we achieve it in our daily lives or not.
Tom’s recent column made more sense, for me, of the “supply side” economics arguments, which is at the heart of many a current issue in Washington that affects our daily lives...and that also includes burning issues here; the pension argument, proposals for overhauling Kentucky’s antiquated tax code  (as well as the nation’s,) and more. Economics may be “the dismal science” but it pervades many issues in DC and Frankfort, and his column was a real service to any of us who want to be good citizens and take part in our civic life.
I hear much talk that to save our newspapers they must come up with a new, modern “business plan.” No, they must find a way to continue their traditional role of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”  This the C-J and H-L have just done, and we are all the better for it.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Friendship Abides

A delegation from France was in Lexington over the weekend, not to buy race horses, or try to sell us something from there, but just out of friendship for America and Lexington.
These were students, businessmen and women, teachers, reporters, civil servants, retirees---similar to Lexington delegations which have gone to France, too---for the past SIXTY years.
All part of the Sister Cities program, founded by President Eisenhower.  Lexington was the 2nd city to join that program, and we had the good luck to be “twined” with Deauville---a seaside resort in France’s horse country. It worked so well that we became “twined” (which is what the Europeans call the program) with other cities in horse areas around the world—in Ireland, England, and Japan.  (Studies are under way for new sister cities in Spain and South America as the program grows.) The city staffs and funds an office to manage this program (which also includes sending high school and college exchange students to study abroad in our sister cities.)
Adults, such as my late wife and I, paid our own way in the city organized, economical group trips there...and local Sister City committees showed off those areas, had us stay in their homes, and get to know them much better and more personally than many commercial tours.
That may be at the heart of the program. We met a fine couple in Deauville and ended up touring “their France” for several weeks. They stayed with us when here. Fine, close, and lasting friendships followed...and exist to this day. I had not seen some of my French friends for ten years, but when invited to lunch with them by my longtime councilmember, Bill Farmer who now heads the council committee overseeing this program, it was as if we had only parted the week before.
If such a program interests you, or your children  (I really regret that mine have never taken part in this endeavor) get in touch with the Sister City office at city  hall.
In this world of so many conflicts, bringing people of different cultures and history together is important...for once you get to know them, as 60 years of Lexington’s relations with Deauville, France proves...
Friendship Abides!
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 23, 2017

We Are All "Downstream"

As I write this only 10% of Puerto Rico has had power restored...and this a month after the island was hit by a strong hurricane. While some of Puerto Rico’s problems restoring power are unique to its geography and economy, the absolute need to get power back on quickly after a natural emergency is well known. Almost all other relief efforts to save lives depend on power. It is a given in our modern society.

And so the drive to get the lights back on means getting poles back upright, downed lines restrung, generators working again, etc.etc.etc..and quickly.  Which overlooks any problems that area had with power lines before the disaster struck---the overwhelming need is to get power restored quickly.

Had the lines been underground far less damage would have been done; far less power would have been lost, and restoration would have been done faster.
But we forget all this in the immediate pressure to restore power.

What is needed is to resurvey what might have occurred had the lines been buried...and IF, as I strongly suspect, things would have been MUCH better with most lines buried, we need to invest in doing that before the next disaster hits.

This is NOT just a problem for Puerto Rico. I can think of at least 3 cases in Lexington---in recent years-- where similar natural events occurred, costing us power, where restoration, at considerable expense, was NOT followed by burying the lines...and that cost all of us power outrages again, and again.  Yes, burying lines is more expensive than restoring the traditional above ground poles—for the utility. But what about the overall costs to homeowners and business and government that future outages entailed, when lines aren’t buried after the first disaster? Those costs never seem to be factored in.

I am  willing to bet that the total costs of restoring power traditionally in those 3 recent events exceeds the costs of burying lines...but no one seems interested in figuring our whether my “bet” is right or not.
Well, someone should.

We are all “downstream” when power goes out...and we need to be interested in the fastest, best way to get the lights back on, not just quickly but for the long run.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Few Discordant Notes

Over a decade ago, when flag burning was the popular form of protest by some groups, a US senator stood up for their right to do this. Didn’t agree with them, but he opposed a flag desecration law, saying the burnings were a constitutionally-protected form of protest.
That senator was Mitch McConnell.
I thought of that Sunday when I attended the 25th anniversary concert of the Lexington Brass Band, who always opens its first concert of the season by playing the National Anthem.  This year they used a lousy new arrangement of that old song, but I and the audience had no problem standing. No one took a knee, but I thought about how much more of a protest was burning the flag, rather than not standing for it. How much we have changed—and not necessarily for the good.
(BTW, there was no flag visible at the Opera House, so most of us faced the conductor with a hand over our heart. While we had been encouraged to sing, few did. It’s bad enough, and hard enough for most people to sing the regular arrangement, let alone a new one we didn’t know. Here’s for making the much more singable “America” our anthem instead.)
And speaking of changes, not for the good...what has happened to the presumption of innocence???
Harvey Weinstein is but the latest (and not the last) to be lashed by this truly UN-democratic change in our national attitude. Yes, a number of women have made serious allegations of reprehensible conduct against him. Yes, he has acknowledged some “bad conduct” but nothing criminal. And our criminal system requires people to be charged with a crime (he hasn’t been) and then convicted (he hasn’t been) before we, the public, visit retribution upon the now CONVICTED person.
That didn’t stop the firm he founded from firing him, nor did it stop the Academy that hands out the Oscars from throwing him off its board.  This may be great PR for those two entities, but it is a blow against the principles of freedom we were taught make America great.
If he’s guilty, and its provable, it will come out. There is no need to rush to judgment, destroying historical rights in the process.
And speaking of a rush to judgment, The NCAA took several years, and an admission by North Carolina that it did, in fact, offer fraudulent courses for 20 years without proper “institutional control.” That usually means severe penalties from the NCAA. Not this time. Why? By some convoluted logic the NCAA held that while...yes, many athletes were allowed, even encouraged to take this easy course, since the general student body was also allowed to take it, this meant there was no special treatment given the jocks!
The NCAA will rue the decision in years to come. Now, colleges are free—yes free free free to favor jocks, just as long as they also favor run-of-the-mill students as well. More NCAA penalties are going to fall, as they will be built on the quicksand of this latest Tar Heel decision.
(If UK is smart, for example, it will make sure some “regular” freshmen students stay in the ornate Joe Craft lodge, as well as all the new “one and done-ers.” The NCAA said the lodge just for jocks was illegal years ago; this new decision seems to allow UK a fighting chance to get its luxurious dorm for jocks reinstated—another perk for Coach Cal to load up his team with “one and done” stars...while the national championship banner stays away from Rupp Arena for another year.)
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Swords Into Plowshares

We have had a lot of damaging weather activity all over our world recently...hurricanes in the Gulf, earthquakes in Mexico, cyclones (that killed many more than all our storms) in SE Asia, mudslides in Europe and China, volcanoes in Indonesia and elsewhere...yet each time the medical and humanitarian relief efforts have to be organized anew; as if these events weren’t going to happen.
But they are, and will continue to happen. Why aren’t we (the human race) better—and more consistently —prepared?
Whatever happened to the SS Hope?  Remember the world’s first, peacetime floating hospital—that went where it was needed, whether the outbreak of some disease, or just aiding people in poor areas, or sailing to where a disaster had occurred?  She was retired in ‘74, and not replaced. Why not?
We know these natural disasters will continue to happen, along with outbreaks of new disasters (Ebola, Zika, etc.) Why isn't the world prepared for them?
We have many ships in mothballs or dry docks that could be SS Hopes...only a lot more, and stationed around the world so no matter where a natural or man-made disaster threatened, they could get there quickly; with experienced disaster staffs, supplies that are needed quickly, and begin setting up the recovery efforts—calling in more aid when needed...all with experienced hands who can quickly evaluate the situation and let the world know what was needed, how much, how soon.
Let the UN or various regional organizations set up such ships, as well as ground forces—trained, and ready from past efforts to move when disaster strikes. Let contracts be made with all nations to co-ordinate these efforts with those of national relief agencies in each country so red tape can be cut ahead of time when the disaster strikes.
Surely the examples of the past few months strongly indicate the need for such an approach; as well as the fact that such pre-existing capabilities would be more efficient than recreating recovery efforts each disaster anew, with a lot of attendant waste.
Surely mankind can see, and establish, these permanent agencies for universal help, and soon.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 2, 2017

DON’T WE EVER LEARN, (part number AK 47)

Once again America is rocked by a tragedy caused by guns...innocent people dying needlessly.
The media must and will ask the NRA for comment, and, I suspect, we will be told again that “guns don’t cause deaths, people cause deaths,” and there is certainly preliminary evidence that another deranged person is responsible.
But this deranged person had 10 rifles with him, according to early reports. 10. All legally bought I’m sure. Probably all the AK-47 types that were once outlawed...until the “sunset provision” of that law expired and our chicken-livered Congress refused to extend it.
Look, folks, it takes, a finger to pull the trigger, and two, a trigger to pull.  It is much easier to legislate guns than to legislate intentions, especially of people with no police record, or incidence of mental health problems. (assuming the state where the mental health problem occurred even passed on that information to the appropriate agencies, which they often don’t.)
So to head off Las Vegas 2 (and Columbine 2, and Virginia Tech 2, and...) we need federal legislation. Bring back the ban on assault weapons, extra large magazines, end the gun show loop hole, improve mental health reporting...and several other practical items we can do, without violating the 2nd amendment—and which must be done now before Las Vegas 2, etc. etc. do they WILL.
Ask Congressman Andy Barr (and those who may run against him) and Senators Paul and McConnell how much longer they will kowtow to the NRA, while country music fans die because of their lack of backbone.  Ask them NOW.
A word or nine about the PBS Series on Viet Nam...(about which more at a later date.) I watched it all, learned some new things, learned the depth of Nixon’s law breaking and treasonous conduct...all the time seeing parallels between ‘Nam and what we continue to do in Afghanistan...our “longest war” (which like ’Nam was never declared by a Congress that failed to live up to its oath to support the Constitution.)
While the series was on, I came across this quote from Stephen Vincent Benet (author of John Brown’s Body and The Devil and Daniel Webster—both worth your reading).
Here it is...(you should have included it, Ken Burns)... "We thought because we had power, we had wisdom.”
I'm just sayin...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Was I Wrong????

Very early on in the Donald Trump Jr. Russian story, a former reporter of mine asked me if there was anything to his meeting with a Russian lady lawyer. I replied “I don’t think so. It seems like normal checking for dirt on the other party.”
Boy, was I wrong.
At that point, she was just a lawyer who happened to be Russian, offering information on possible misdeeds by HRC and the DNC.
But soon it turned out the info she offered allegedly came from “official” Russian government sources. Whoa! It is against the law for foreign governments to meddle in our elections. (Even though the US has officially meddled in many elections in other countries - in at least one case, Chile, causing the death of a democratically elected president.) Thus, Jr. should have informed the FBI of this approach. He did not.  (Even though he said the material she offered was not verified, several election watch dog groups have filed complaints that this amounted to an illegal election contribution. We shall have to watch to see how this turns out.)
BUT, when the news stories began about his meeting that’s when the FIT hit the SHAN.
One, he should have reported it.
Two, when he did, he didn’t tell all...especially as to how many attended. Since some of these turned out to be high ranking officials of the Trump campaign (One later fired for not disclosing HIS Russian connections) suspicions began piling up.
Three, his remarkable release of e-mails not only confirm his possible law violation, but other items which could be illegal, immoral, or fattening.
Four, Jr. then appeared on Fox and in his interview said he had told all, there was nothing more not revealed. 
Others. not previously listed, had attended the meeting, including a former Russian army man who may, or may not have been connected to Soviet intelligence...and at the minimum appears to have violated US rules for lobbying for a foreign government.   
This is EXACTLY what caused Gen. Mattis to be fired from his impending security post, what got Paul Manafort fired as campaign  chairman, what got Atty-Gen. Sessions to recuse himself from the FBI situation, etc. etc. etc.
(BTW, son in law Jared Kushner, who does hold an official government position—as Jr. does not—also “failed to reveal” his many, many Soviet contacts, which was required on his security clearance form and may cause Pres. Trump even more trouble in the end.
If I heard a PBS news report correctly, there have now been over 100 Russian contacts by various Trump administration people that were NOT revealed, contrary to law, until reporters ferreted them out. (So much for the press and its role in trying to keep government honest and the people informed.)
Out in the “heartland” of America this means zilch, if a CBS report is to be believed...Trump supporters are much more concerned about jobs and don’t think Jr.’s (and son-in-law’s) misbehavior amounts to much.)
We shall see.
It is fair to this point in this whole unsavory business, it seems to hold much greater potential for impeachment than at the same time in Whitewater (remember that?) where impeachment was threatened against Pres. Clinton and the Lewinsky affair, where it actually happened. It is also far more serious---the election of a President versus sex among consenting adults or an unproven possible land fraud.
As fabled NYC Mayor LaGuardia once said..”I don’t often make a mistake, but when I do, it’s a beaut!”
I'm just sayin'

Monday, July 10, 2017

Getting Your Vote Counted

While a lot of attention has been focused on reports of Russian (or other) hacking attempts to interfere in our elections, the root cause for such concern should not be the attempts—but what could be wrong with our voting system that encourages such attempts:
A recent study from the Brennan Center for Justice points out two major ways in which hackers could succeed...aging voting machines and voter registration using outdated software. It listed 3 ways in which states can move to keep voting safe.
One, check voter registration systems regularly and upgrade if needed.
Two, replace old electronic voting machines that don’t have a paper trail—which allows independent checks for accuracy.
Three, audit votes. Only half the states do this, and often not well enough to catch ballot errors.
Congress and the states need to spend more money to see that these 3 things are done, done soon, and done sufficiently.
But there’s more...and these ideas were not in the Brennan report.
One..the BIG one..eliminate the Electoral College.  It stands to reason if hackers want to influence a close election, concentrating on one big, but vulnerable state’s voting system offers a much greater chance of success than if we switch to "one person, one vote”—where the winner is determined by the total national vote—and where hackers would have to influence many, many more votes in many states to have a chance for success.
Two...require states to set the district lines for Congressional and legislative seats by independent commissions and NOT by state legislatures. About 20 states do this now, Kentucky needs to join them...and with the next census looming, needs to set up such a commission right away. The Herald-Leader twice showed this approach works by coming up with Congressional districts far more equal  and far less “gerrymandered” than what the legislature did.
If we truly want to stop hackers, and ensure that every vote counts we need to improve our democracy as well as our software.   
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Few Thoughts About July Fourth

Which we celebrate as the day we declared our independence from England—although the Continental  Congress actually voted that historic approval on July 2nd---the 4th was the date they signed their names to the formal document after it was officially inscribed for the members.
So while we enjoy this most important day for us, let it be noted a lot of our history isn’t accurate and even more Americans aren’t truly familiar with it.
Take “Yankee Doodle”—a song our troops sang as they slowly, thru great hardship, won the Revolution against the greatest army in the world. It was actually a song originated by the Brits, in derision of the Yanks, and as for “macaroni”—as in “stuck a feather in his cap and called it...” that word referred to a gay person in those days, a further insult to the Minutemen.
(all this from a fascinating article in the Sunday NY Times. If you wish to read more, and I hope you will, see “That Diss song known as Yankee Doodle.”
Another Sunday Times article by the well known English actor Stephen Frye argues our usual view of “Mad King George” as a tyrant isn’t right at all. We often overlook that many in the British Parliament supported the “Colonies” or that our famed Bill of Rights came, in large measure, from that body’s Bill of Rights of 1689---a century before our own.
We Americans are often woefully ignorant of our own history, or our friends and neighbors. A Canadian TV special, in 2001, asked Americans a lot of questions that often exposed our ignorance of our Northern neighbor. No, Canadians do not get rid of their elders by putting them to die on ice floes (!!). Nor does Canada have a “national igloo” as a symbol, as one of our presidential candidates indicated. And when some of us were asked whether the US “should be bombing Saskatchewan," we replied  “absolutely”—confusing that Canadian province with---who knows what foreign land.  (But then, in several wars the US has sought to invade Canada, most notably the War of 1812, when many Kentuckians found themselves fighting north of our borders.)   
So on this 4th of July holiday, let me hope my fellow citizens will “highly resolve” to learn a lot more about our world today, for ignorance is not bliss in 2017, and may well lead to wars that are as unnecessary as they are unproductive.
May the “world’s greatest country” truly understand its own history, and share our “blessings of liberty and freedom” with all the peace.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

In Liberating Strife

Even that non policy wonk, Pres. Trump admits  he didn’t know “health care could be so complicated.”
But it is, except (see later)...for all the double-speak or “political speak” going on.
Prime example...Sen McConnell saying The GOP agrees “on the need to strengthen Medicaid.” He then offered his party’s bill which would do just the opposite. It would eventually end the Medicaid expansion under Pres. Obama, and in years to come most likely force people off the program.
This revelation inspired a Forum column in the Sunday C-J by longtime political reporter Al Cross under the headline “McConnell will cause many to suffer” and a full page ad in that same issue by a Blue Chip list of health care providers---doctors, nurses, social workers, etc..imploring him to “stop the mad rush to pass this bill.” (drafted in secrecy, with no women senators involved.)  They want a chance for ALL of us “to weigh in on this bill so that we might be a part of redesigning a health care system that works for the benefit of all.”  Mitch wants to pass the GOP version before the July 4th recess, which is this week. I don’t think he’ll make it, but as so many others point out “he is a master of the Senate."
Actually there is a far less complicated way to handle health care for ALL Americans; join the rest of the world in declaring health care a “modern right of citizenship," pass a “Single Payer” bill, which is far less complicated and provides decent health care for every citizen. Naturally, conservatives in both parties will cry  “Socialism” but it works in a lot of countries, most of whom are our fellow capitalists.   
The Swiss, a conservative, peaceful nation, have had enough of the climate debate. They know the world IS getting warmer, that 100,000 weather observers all over the globe tell us their observations prove it. So the Swiss have started putting special white blankets on some of their scenic (tourism producing, job producing) glaciers to stop them from melting.
Yes, the world IS getting warmer. There is NO argument here.  Why is another matter?  Maybe fossil fuels, maybe auto exhausts, maybe rampant consumerism, maybe Chinese hacking...but...this is where we should be having our debate...NOT denying climate change is taking place. It is. Now let’s figure out what to do about it.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

So Much News; So Little Time

Let’s look on the bright side of the shooting this week at GOP congressmen practicing for their annual charity baseball game:
So far only 1 serious injury, the House GOP Whip, (I pray for his recovery)...with the nut case shooter dead.
Other good news:  House members are re-examining their relations with each other “across the aisle” 
with the leaders saying this could lead to better, less vitriolic understandings in the future. It’s about time.
Also we learned much more about Congressional “security," even more important than “jobs” to elected officials, it seems. I didn’t know the whip has his own, private security detail (which you & I pay for!) or that the capital police force numbers 2200 people. It’s leader recently asked for $33 million more to hire 72 new officers. With this shooting, he’ll probably get it. (Again, you & I will pay for this.)
But if the major reaction of Congress is “security” and not an examination of how this mental case got his weapons (legally bought we are told,) Congress will have failed again...and the fact that, this time, someone shot at them...then the lessons of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, etcetcetcetc will be lost again. There ARE common sense things that Congress can do without seeming to capitulate, as usual, to the NRA:  (1) better record keeping on mental health cases and passing of this information on to ALL who need it, (2) close the gun show loophole, which adversely affects mom and pop gun stores, (3) outlaw AK47s, which we DID once, and expanded magazines so that nut cases don’t out duel the cops. Remember one congressman said the capital police had handguns while “he had a rifle..not a fair fight.”
OK, Congress, make it “fairer!”
Finally, the NCAA reported on the sex scandal at Louisville...and boy, did it drop the hammer (with much more yet to come, possibly.) UofL will appeal, which as one sports reporter said was silly...because they had already admitted to all the NCAA charged violations.  And while Rick keeps saying he knew nothing about all the shenanigans which went on over 3 years, the NCAA said he should have—and so should the university. It’s sad—but it could be worse. If the NCAA decides it is worse, and orders Louisville to vacate its national title...then the litigation will really boil over (which Kentuckians will pay for.)—all because one guy and one madam screwed a good school.
But then, maybe Rick’s charmed life will end...maybe
Meanwhile..yes I will say it again..WHEN will the NCAA rule on North Carolina; an even worse case of lack of “institutional control” that went on for much longer.
Gov. Bevin has asked for suggestions and comments from Kentuckians...which is both right and practical...but, as the CJ reported Sunday, he has blocked, so far, as many as 600 people from using his social media to contact him. His office said it was for “obscene or off-topic comments.”  Somehow I doubt that. It may just be one more example of thin-skinned public officials, including The Donald, from not wanting to receive criticism.
The Knight First Amendment Institute says this “suppresses speech. Your Twitter account is a designated public forum”..(which you&I pay for) just as are open city council and school board meetings.
Governor, please support free speech and set a better example for all Kentuckians...and yes, this is a way you can reaffirm our traditions...which that nut in Alexandria tried to kill.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jobs Is A Four Letter Word

Some thoughts on jobs from a news perspective:
It’s the most important word in our politics—at least in campaigning. And especially with Republicans, at home (Frankfort) and abroad (Washington).
Gov. Bevin keeps stressing it...and for the well being of most Americans I guess they should...although sometimes I wonder about the emphasis they place.
For example, our guv issued a news release on 15 jobs coming to E. Ky. with an aviation facility last week. I remember years ago a new fast food chain restaurant opening in Lexington with 65-120 jobs involved. I was surprised; maybe you are too.
It’s good to know the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Frankfort. Kent Downey died this of several who went to jail in the '90's during the BOPTROT scandal. He ran whores out of his state office for legislators and others. And we learned this week also of a new whistleblower case there...a woman who charged she was fired when she reported two state employees were selling adult toys out of their office in the state capital.  The more things change....
Speaking of BOPTROT, both parties in succeeding legislatures have systematically undone all the improvements made after that scandal...and the courts seem determined to undo even more. The recent decision allowing lobbyists free range to BUY, yes BUY legislators is exactly what BOPTROT changes were designed to end. If lawmakers truly want to operate ethically, they MUST move to meet these court decisions with new laws.
Off the subject of jobs, but I cannot end this week without writing of my utter amazement that there is a guy named Alex Jones (“InfoWars” whatever that is) who believes the killing of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook is a hoax, that it never happened!
Talk about “false news” or “alternative facts!”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thoughts On Recent News Stories

1.Bevin calls for Prayer Patrols...So far the governor’s only action to end violence in Lou-ah-vul was to call a meeting in the troubled west end and urge these. (He tried to keep the news media from the meeting but found out he couldn’t in that building.)
I believe in the power of prayer. It can’t hurt, and it may help.
But as a former Notre Dame football coach wisely said “Prayers work better when the players are bigger.” And this is,  as Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug program “Just Say No” was, truly a band aid.
Especially since it’s the governor’s party (here and in Washington) that allows so many guns on the street...with few background checks, bad rules against the mentally ill getting guns, the gun show exemption, larger magazines, etcetcetc.  Let’s pray our legislators realize their responsibility to end gun violence.
(And if you doubt that, as the Texas legislature ended a rancorous session, one GOP lawmaker  told a Democratic opponent he would “shoot him in self defense.”  Austin, as Frankfort, allows lawmakers to carry guns into sessions.)
2. America’s “longest war” (Afghanistan) took a horrible turn when insurgent bombs killed 90 in the capital, not far from the Presidential Palace. (Our White House.) Just one of such blasts recently. This while our president considers sending more American troops there...while corruption remains strong, tribal rivalries grow, local militia run many areas, etcetc.
(BTW, the US under Trump continues our policy of being one of, if not the largest seller of arms around the world. He inked a $350 Billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on his trip there...just what the war torn Middle East needs. He argued this was a jobs creator back here. Maybe so, but it is sure to create jobs there...morticians, casketmakers, grave diggers, white helmets, etc.)
3. As we observed Memorial Day—if we observed it, instead of seeing it as another 3 day was pointed out that there are still EIGHTY thousand US service members missing in action from WW2 on. That does not include the missing from WW1...and, perhaps, that “police action," officially, known as the Korean War. A thought to remember when next Congress or the President sends us into has already been threatened in the first hundred days of this new administration and Congress.
4. Coal continued to terms of annual production---and JOBS---in the latest official figures. (SUR-prize.)
5. Jim Bunning died...a staunch conservative (and better baseball player) who represented Kentucky for many years in Washington. In KET’s tribute to him on “Comment on Kentucky” our fine public broadcast service couldn’t find a way to use a picture of him on its air.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Events Past And Future Past: This Memorial Day

PAST: This Memorial Day weekend is the 40th anniversary of the worst fire in Kentucky history, maybe our worst such tragedy ever...the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire which took 165 lives.  That’s 165 people dying in one fire.
A book issued 2-3 years ago by a northern Kentucky researcher makes, IMHO, a compelling case that the N. Ky-Cincy Mafia torched the place, causing these deaths...which is not the accepted cause. (A now disbarred lawyer convinced several courts it was faulty electrical wiring, and won multi-million dollar verdicts.)
Before all the witnesses and officials involved in this (including former Gov. Julian Carroll) die, we should have a major, new probe into this tragedy. Why the major Kentucky-Cincy media haven’t done this is beyond me. Maybe the Louisville center for news investigation, and KET, and others can get this started. It needs to be done...for all those who died needlessly, and for the possibility it was, in fact, one helluva coverup by state and local officials.
FUTURE: Sunday’s H-L had a fine story on progress to reopen the old Fayette County courthouse...hopefully by the end of this year. Many of the new approaches, new tenants and their plans are excellent—and are based on tourism and our heritage, such as race horses.
But I think we are missing a sure we have for several years not trying to recapture our place in bourbon: its history and tourism, a place we have surrendered, needlessly, to Louisville.  (Why should the Bourbon Trail start there? After all, Bourbon County is here.) And the bourbon business is good, growing greatly in the last few years. And so have Kentucky wineries, many located within the greater Lexington area.
Years ago I visited a major wine growing area in California. A much smaller town than Lexington there had a fine, downtown wine center...which maps, info, and tastings of nearby wineries. Why can’t we do that here? For wine and bourbon?  That would tie into local restaurants and so many other things.
BTW, one major problem I didn’t see addressed in the HL story---parking. Our renovated courthouse and its shops and tenants will bring many more visitors (cars). Are we ready for that? Where are we going to put them?
One final thought, which I will elaborate on in time: TBHA!
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Gwen Ifill, Or Thoughts On The Media - Local and National

A recent NY Times article on Judy Woodward, and how she is handling the PBS NewsHour after the death of her longtime  co-host Gwen Ifill, reminded me of just how good Gwen was, and how well those two worked together.
PBS has launched the obligatory “nationwide search” for her replacement, who might even be (horrors!) a man, but no answers so far...and so Judy soldiers on.
Several men on the staff have received expanded roles; some have done well, some haven’t.
This past week, with Judy off and MAJOR news breaking, John Yang struggled in the anchor role and didn’t do well—possibly the failure of his producer. 2 examples: shortly after the latest (but not the last) Trump catastrophe broke, Yang asked an obscure senator what he thought...but the senator hadn’t heard the news and wisely said he couldn’t comment. (Mark that man down as a comer!) Later Yang mispronounced the name of a guest, a Washington Post reporter (what would public tv’s top newsprogram do without newspaper reporters???) Granted, the guy had a 4 syllable name, but that’s hardly an excuse.
CBS had a top reporter in Iran for its important Presidential elections. As I heard it, she said the contest would come down to between “a populist and the incumbent.”  No; the incumbent was the populist and was staving off a hardline conservative....and thankfully, he won
When news breaks on weekends...and it often does...I have said before the major networks' weekend anchors are often NOT up to the job. If this is where they break-in future weekday anchors, we are in trouble.
Turning locally, and some good news...on Wednesdays the Fox 10pm news highlights  “Spirit of the BlueGrass.” These feature reports by Marvin Bartlett have been excellent...and should remind all the other Lexington stations, especially Channel 27, why each needs their own “local Charles Kuralt”
And then there was the 11pm sports segment last Saturday, which after giving us a detailed report on the Transy women's softball game—as the 3rd story, went to a break, and returned with the story of an upset horse race victory, some small race called The Preakness, which merely ended, for another year, all hopes for a Triple Crown winner.
Ah so, judgments, judgments.
I'm just sayin'..

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thoughts On Some Recent News Stories

Someone in Washington is lying.
Please. OK, cynics (I am not one) believe someone is always lying in Washington...but..the recent “news” out of the White house on the Comey firing triggered, over several days, from the Pres, V-P, press secretary, deputy press secretary, and assorted etc...the most extensive series of lies I’ve ever heard (and I was around covering Watergate, the 5 O’clock Follies during the ‘Nam war, and others.)
Who can the American people believe?
And if not outright lies, then mistakes of gigantic proportions—which amount to the same thing.
Now we know what “fake news” really is.
And that’s sad, because we should be able to trust our elected leaders most of the time, and the FBI Director is a major official of our government.
Did you see the sports story from Colorado where a Colorado State football player was arrested and charged with stealing from a teammate?  What he stole were diamond bracelets and Rolex watches.
And just how did the teammate get such items?  Are we missing a bigger story here?
And when will the NCAA issue its report on the UofL scandal...years since it began..and the North Carolina report, even years longer since the NCAA began that important investigation?
Then there’s the latest (but far from the last) case of international hacking...where major firms are being held for ransom because of a flaw in the Windows software—that the firm fixed in mid March.
Right, the hackers used a flaw that was fixed 6 weeks ago...after Windows keeps telling its customer to install antivirus software, always keep your fixes up to date and back up your files.
All of this should NOT have Disney, Nissan, Renault, Britain’s National health System, and firms large and small...if they had just followed both common sense and good business practice and what computers firms have urged them to do for years.
Major banks, department stores, etc. have been guilty of this—and suffered (No, we the customers have suffered) the consequences for years.
When is someone going to file a major, global class action suit against these firms for such gross negligence?
Where are you Morgan and Morgan when we need you?
Talk about a case “for the people!”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Once Upon A Time In Lexington

Long, long go. Times were bad. In fact it was the Great Depression of the 30s. Every section of Society felt it. Universities such as UK, were no exception.
Faculty were let go. Classes were cancelled. Maintenance was put off. Fees were raised.
It was a truly difficult time and some feared the Commonwealth’s Flagship School just might go under...others had in other states.
Ways were sought out of UK’s financial problems...appeals to alumni (suffering similarly); appeals to donors (ditto); sales of what could be sold (few buyers); and especially requests for aid from local businesses who had profited over the years from UK’s being in Lexington...but none came forward. No one knew when the Great Depression might end and so were unable or unwilling to help.
Athletic Director Barney Mitchell canvassed his friends and supporters over the years especially. The football program had a promising new coach; the basketball team was on the verge of greatness with an experienced winner—both and the nascent SEC were facing a bleak future.
When all seemed darkest, help arrived. A well known and long established local business secretly went to Mitchell with an offer. It was one of the few in Lexington that seemed Depression-proof. Mitchell hesitated, even though he knew UK students had long been customers of the business; even faculty and staff used its services. Some UK students even worked there. But...but should the University cross into new territory and the controversy it was certain to arouse?? No one else in the SEC had ever done this before. It was sure to cause a great outcry.
But, as things seemed to grow worse, the AD hesitated no longer. He talked with the President and they debated the wisdom of the move for hours. Finally both could see no other way out of the school’s financial problems. The President  directed the AD to announce this radical move.
Before a small gathering, 2 radio stations and both local papers, Mitchell stood before a lectern making his announcement:
“Stoll Field”, he said, “is to be return for a generous contribution which we direly need...for our students, for faculty and staff, and our future.”
“Hereafter, it will be known”...he paused, and slowly said "as Belle Brezing Field.”
(I'm just sayin' ...)

Monday, May 1, 2017

When One Vote Really Matters

I would hope that even the strongest advocate for the death penalty (I am not one) would have been appalled by Arkansas’ brutal plan to execute a dozen inmates in as many days recently...all because its supply of illegal(!) lethal drugs was about to run out.
Thanks to many problems, they only got to kill four...starting with one who denied his guilt and ending with one who convulsed a dozen times before dying—contrary to what the drugs were supposed to produce.
And all of this came about starting with a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court allowing Arkansas to go ahead.
Who cast that one deciding vote for death?
Guess who?
Right, Judge Gorsuch, newest member of the court—which had deadlocked 4-4 when the vacant seat hadn’t been filled.
Thanks, Mitch.
Speaking of matters legal...if you or I sold the same item to two different people, we could be charged with fraud.
Not the airlines.  
Thanks to Congress, they are entitled to sell the same seat to two (or more) people without violating the law...which is total crap.
The recent incident with United and the Kentucky doctor has prompted 2 airlines, so far, that say they will no longer “overbook”—that is sell the same seat two or more times.
Bully for them...may many more follow.
And let’s get to the “seat” of the problem...and get Congress to amend the law that allows them to do this.  We ought to be able to agree on simple justice and what would be right in every other business but aviation...and to get Rep. Andy Barr to support this change without yelling at him at his next (??) town hall meeting.
BTW, whatever happened to that old Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights?
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Thoughts On Recent News Stories

1-Conservative columnist Ann Coulter and I don’t agree often, but I just knew –when I wrote last week about how today’s students do not understand free speech and what it means---and used the Berkeley campus at Cal as my main example, that she would be next. Sure enough, students there threatened a riot if she was allowed to speak. The university buckled, then relented and said she could talk at another time and place. Ms. Coulter demurred, and may sue...and UC still doesn’t understand what Free Speech or Academic Freedom means.
You may get a better idea from 2 recent books: "Free Speech: 10 Principles for a connected World," by Timothy Ash; Yale U press, and even more so from “The Soul of the First Amendment," Floyd Abrams, also Yale Press. Mr. Abrams, a long time Free Speech stalwart, was also the counsel for the big corporations who won the Citizens United case...a rare fall from grace—but that’s my opinion, and that’s what the First Amendment is all about.
2—America is not the only country having problems with these issues—the individual vs. Society. Australia, a country entirely descended from immigrants, (except of  course for the original inhabitants who the newcomers pushed out) is about to revise its test for new citizens in a way  designed to keep immigrants out, especially Muslims.
Vice-president Pence just visited Australia, as part of his Pacific tour, assuring the PM there of our support---on foreign policy matters, but given the President’s views on such things, maybe on immigration, too.
3—on that same official state tour, Mrs. Pence got off Air Force 2 in Seoul wearing leggings. Some of you may remember that  before United Airlines dragged a Kentucky doctor off a plane for Louisville, it had turned away two young ladies who showed up for boarding wearing leggings.  Somehow I think Mrs. Pence would not have had any trouble.
4—And, as some wiser person said years ago, “the Past is always with us.”  Western Kentucky University's student government voted for reparations due to slavery and for “full and free access for all black people” and other groups. Is this carrying Political Correctness too far??? President Gary Ransdell said WKU will not follow the student resolution, but then he’s retiring soon.  Look for this topic to come up again and elsewhere in Kentucky.
5—Speaking of Kentucky’s history, some Lexington tv newswriter last week wrote of “the fictitious” Colonel Sanders.” Dead he may be, but “fictitious,"no. ...but it got on the air. One wonders how?
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Political Correctness Vs. The First Amendment - Or Whatever Happened To Free Speech?

Back in my college days, centuries ago, I was involved in a number of liberal activities...but none compared to those wild eyed radicals at Berkeley and the University of California.
They were truly wild, and they claimed credit for starting the “Free Speech” movement on college campuses.
I’m not sure that was right because ever since universities arose, about the 13th century, the entire idea was to investigate all things, discuss all things, wonder about all things...and not let political, social, or financial pressures from governments, churches, donors, or the schools themselves thwart free inquiry. One must hear from ALL sides of an issue before answers---“truth”—could be found.
What a turnaround recently!  At Berkeley, students rioted, yes rioted, in opposition to an avowed conservative speaker, and in the name of PC and free speech. What crap. And this has been followed at many schools across the nation, including UK and elsewhere in Kentucky. Now we hear such “liberal” schools as Berea and Centre may have opposition to graduation speakers on the same grounds...we don’t want to hear their views.  Hardly academic freedom.
And not very “politically correct” when one considers the views of our Founding Fathers.
I stand with Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia who said in a case involving some people suspected of the serious crime of treason,"Let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.”
That is true “free speech;”that is true “political correctness.”
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 10, 2017

The President Is Wrong; Senator Paul Is Right

Suppose North Korea fired a missile at our navy ships in the Sea of Japan; suppose a Russian sub off the East Coast fired a misile at Fort Dedrick, Md, where we culture and make nerve gases and germ warfare agents.
Wouldn’t we consider those acts of war?
In the same way, our firing missiles at Syrian matter what our justifiable outrage over nerve gas attacks on civilians—is an act of war by the US against another nation.
And the Constitution clearly and emphatically spells out how we declare war...ONLY by an act of Congress, not by another executive order by a president...who, like every member of Congress took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Congress has failed in its oath, and legal obligation here for years, but when will it stop and when will “law and order” be restored???
Mr. Trump’s illegal act could lead to much worse consequences...such as more US “boots on the ground.”  Do we really want that?
Besides, it didn’t considerable cost to the taxpayers.  $60 million in Tomahawk missiles fired off, and within 24 hours the same airfield was up and running with Syrian and Russian jets taking off and bombing more Syrian citizens opposed to Assad.
Our “feel good” action may well come back to haunt us. Surprisingly, Russia has objected in terms far less than warlike and should be given some credit---for now. And Senator Paul’s quixotic foreign policy ideas were  right again...and even more so his plea to observe the Constitution.
Support of our Constitution should never be partisan.  I hope many of you will object to Rep. Barr and Sen. McConnell before the President gets the idea he can go further with his illegal foreign policy ventures...and the specter of atomic war once again threatens the it truly did not so long ago.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, March 27, 2017

While We Were Watching March Madness

The Madness that is War was going on in many parts of the world...with the danger of more US involvement growing.
In one of the worse cases, a “coalition” air strike on Mosul, Iraq’s 2nd largest city, reportedly killed as many as 100 civilians, not involved in taking the town back from ISIS. At first the US said this was a “coalition” event, but later confirmed it was made by US planes...and opened a probe into the civilian deaths and what happened. (Fortunately the original report did not call this a “surgical strike.”)
So, once again, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, (not to mention the ancient history in Vietnam), for all our best intentions to avoid “collateral damage” (read  “we killed innocents,”) these tragedies repeat.
They will likely repeat again as the Trump administration has indicated it will send more US troops to Iraq—and even Syria. Obama started this but said they would be support troops and not engage in combat. But one US serviceman has been killed already, because his support position apparently wasn’t far enough from the fighting. And military officials said that if our support people were fired on, they of course would, and should, fire back.
Meanwhile, the NY TImes reminded us that we are THREE YEARS into fighting ISIS and Congress has not followed the Constitution by “ passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight.”  Which, as a believer that only Congress may declare war—as the Constitution clearly indicates—makes our effort in Iraq & Syria illegal, as well as immoral.
And, by the way, Pres. Trump has indicated he will take such a hard line on North Korea that our new Sec. of State said “all options are on the table,” including a first strike by the US against them!
Please keep your eyes on these unfolding  events, and let our senators and representatives know your feelings.
And oh yes, during March Madness, that shyster lawyer Eric Conn pled guilty to fraud...but his hundreds of Kentucky clients still face financial ruin and personal tragedy until their disability benefits, which he screwed up, get straightened out. Our federal and state representatives and agencies have done all too little to help these unfortunate people.  You might let them know your views here, as well.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kentuckians Cried Out; Our Legislature Responded

The theory, in a representative democracy such as ours, is that the people elect representatives who will be concerned about their wishes and needs. (The theory also is if they don’t, they may be turned out of office...may be.)
So how has our first GOP-controlled legislature in a century done under our theory.
On some things, very least if one assumes the majority did want, as it voted, the state GOP program (which is not necessarily the same as the Trump-program---whatever that is today---which may have driven more Kentuckians to vote Republican than the state GOP’s platform.)
On others, well let me offer some thoughts:
1—Many citizens, especially those in eastern Kentucky have complained for years about over-loaded coal truck on narrow roads, never designed for such loads..and the breakdown of those roads, increasing costs of maintenance (where maintained), and accidents, often fatal, caused.
What did our new legislature do?
Raise the load limit for some trucks hauling specific items by 50%. raised the fee on same, and setting up a study of same. I hope people in E. Ky. will watch this one carefully.
2—Lots of us, myself included, are tired of politics by the “Golden Rule”—he who has the gold makes the rules. We want the effect of money in politics to be more tightly controlled, with much more reporting of who gives how much to whom?
Our legislature doubled the amount people and corporations may now give. I don’t remember any of us rallying at the Capitol for this, but it remains to be seen how this will play out.
3—Kentucky has had a moratorium for years on building nuclear power plants, but our representatives in Frankfort ended that. (Obviously they didn’t have any testimony in committee about Chernobyl.) Their theory was we need more power options as coal declines. Maybe so, but I don’t remember any bills designed to help make coal “cleaner” as its advocates (and myself) contend it can be...which should also help coal regain markets.
I am aware KET aired a very interesting program recently on new ways to generate atomic power claimed to be safer, cleaner, and cheaper.
Maybe so; but for now color me both skeptical and wanting to keep UN-proven nuke power out of my home state.
4—It’s hard not to agree that mine inspections work to make coal mining safer. One way to keep coal keeping our lights on is by making that industry safer.  Yet our ladies and gentlemen in Frankfort cut the number of state required inspections in half. Maybe their theory is that The Donald, who says he wants to bring back coal and increase jobs, will do it for us. I have my doubts but a few more inspector jobs won’t help this basic Kentucky industry’s employment very much.
I’m sure our GOP legislative members can, and will cite legislation they consider beneficial to the Bluegrass state, but, on balance, let us not forget there is, arguably, another side.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Random News Thoughts

1---Based on the news stories I’ve seen from Frankfort, I am amazed at the quiet surrounding a bill proposing to allow any governor to take over, dismiss, and name members of all the public university and college boards of trustees. Even more the quiet from the present boards and presidents at this unprecedented power grab. If you think the Southern accreditation board was just threatening the University of Louisville with loss of accreditation because of Bevin’s shenanagins here...wait til you see its reaction if the bill passes.
Of course, it will be the students hurt most---and faculty.
Lots of silence from the legislature on this topic recently---as the session nears an end. That worries me, too.
2---Thank you Wikileaks—again!  Now we know the CIA  (and our government) have the capability to spy on us thru our smart phones, our smart tvs (!) even our baby crib monitors. Who’da thunk it? But tis, sadly, true..and while the CIA loftily reminds us, by law, it can only use these tools to spy outside the country...does anyone seriously doubt they would  (and have in a few cases, if memory serves) use these at home against American citizens.
All in the name of “national security”—protecting our freedoms. When does our freedom to be let alone, and to enjoy free speech in our homes become more important than some bureaucrats’ idea of “security?”
3---Hope you saw CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night. A very revealing report on one man from Africa arrested, sent to GITMO, tortured (very badly), and whose “confession” then kept him there 14 years...until his legal council (initiated by his own handwritten request for freedom) got him off and the US finally agreed he was not a terrorist, not a threat to our “security”  (there’s that misapplied idea again), and he was sent home.  He wrote a book. “Guantanamo Diary” on his GITMO experience we probably all should read.
When will the US—especially Congress—realize GITMO is our Holocaust, and end it—totally and forever???
4---and now for something completely different...Just delighted to see Dom Hawkins named to SEC all-tourney team. Richly deserved for a guy who stuck it out for 4 years---while Coach Cal was touting his idea of “one and done.”   
Dickie V has the right idea when he talks about “senior leadership” and Dom is a great example of that.
Go Cats!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We All Know

“It is easier to campaign than to govern.”
“The devil is in the details.”
Listening to the President’s speech to Congress this week (will there be a later State of the Union address??) I was encouraged. I thought this was one of his best talks and was encouraged both by its tone and by some of the plans he outlined.
(I pray for each new president, whether I voted for him/her or not. I want each to succeed because that’s the best way for America to succeed.)
But a lot of the good vibes given off by his talk were dissipated later when he told a White House meeting “who knew health care was so complicated.”
Almost everyone, Mr. President, where have you been?
It bears out one of the points made last fall on Shields & Brooks on PBS. I think it was the conservative Brooks who said “Mr. Trump seems to be constitutionally UNcurious.”  This following some debate over Roe v Wade, which has been a public issue for decades..and yet, campaigner Trump seemed ignorant of the issues here, and their importance to many people.
And so now, it seems, with health care.
House Republicans in the past 4 years have tried over 50 votes to repeal Obamacare—and not once, when challenged by the “loyal opposition” did they come up with an alternative. It was just Repeal, Repeal, Repeal. Maybe they realized how very complex our national health care system is....and wanted no part of getting involved with that.
Whatever; the nation IS involved now..and the new administration. Repeal, replace, when, in what order, how---these are important questions for the new administration...and it is not unfair to say  that some citizens’ LIVES hang on the decisions made.
Good luck, Mr. T---and you, too Gov. B.
Only a little less than “the fate of the Republic”  (and your party) may be hanging on your answers.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Truth Is Out There

(somewhere..covered up by errors and mistakes)
The New York Times Sunday took a full page ad containing just 7 words:
“Truth. It’s more important now than ever.”
I agree...and to try to help area citizens understand better, our local SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) chapter held a public meeting last week to point out differences between fake news and the real thing. The H-L did an advance story, but I saw none of the actual meeting, and only  1 tv station covered it so far as I know.
We in the media are often our own worse enemy..and that’s especially true when we report stories full of grammatical errors and, worse, factual errors. Neither helps our mission to seek the truth and present it to readers, viewers, and listeners.
For example, one day last week, between the hours of 5:30 and 7pm I caught the following:
Lexington tv station---a good report on a Special Olympian about to go “halfway around the world” to compete—in Austria. Austria is about 6 thousand miles from Kentucky; halfway around the world is over 12 thousand miles.
The NBC Nightly News, reporting on tax reform plans spelled it “Refeorm.”
CBS in a report on Trump’s approval rating used a poll with a FIVE percentage point margin of error. That means a possible ten percentage point swing, large enough to invalidate the findings.
ABC’s evening news promoted 3 upcoming stories, ALL listed as “next.”  Only one story can be “next.”
The PBS NewsHour had a sponsor telling us “it’s 2016!”
Earlier one of our local stations presented two field reporters who told us “ I seen...”
And on an ESPN halftime report, one of its commentators reported (Joe) “run the court” well.
You may think some of these errors are minor; I don’t. If reporters don’t have much concern to use correct English, why should we think they have any concern for correct facts????
Without correct facts, there is no Truth.
And Truth, as I hope we all agree "is more important now than ever.”
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Water Water Everywhere - (And Not A Drop To Drink!)

Why is it not possible to mine coal and NOT pollute nearby streams???   
Trump has moved to end EPA rules forbidding this, which leaves me puzzled.
Coal is a major engineering process...and I refuse to believe it cannot be done without endangering the lives of those living nearby by dangerously polluting their water supplies.
How important water is to all of us was re-emphasized this week by boil water advisories in Richmond and Nicholasville—temporary ones. But people in Eastern Kentucky have lived for years with bad tasting, foul smelling, discolored water as their norm. In many cases this is due to coal mines polluting their streams.
What profit a man to have a job if it causes his family to become ill?
I’m sure there are overreaching EPA an interesting column in my fave morning Lexington paper pointed out.  BUT, surely there is a common sense way to allow mining without endangering that most precious commodity of water...and reasonable people mought to be able to find it.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Not Ideology, Just Common Sense

You can support the 2nd amendment (as I do, tho I disagree with the top court’s interpretation) and still not want to see any more school shootings such as Columbine Virginia Tech, Newtown...and how many others?
So current moves to take back mental health checks (involved in many shootings, remember Virginia Tech,) or drop the requirement for background checks, or training programs in gun use and safety (especially handguns) are not just wrong...they run contrary to common sense.
You don’t have to get involved in AK-47 issues, or ammo sizes or muzzle lengths to know that the issues listed above CAN—and should—be in our laws WITHOUT any dangers to the 2nd amendment.
Get real, gun lovers—or prepare for more stupid, unnecessary school shootings and more children dying.
And as for Wall Street, some years ago I interviewed  CBS News’s economics reporter, asking him what made Wall Street run. “Fear and Greed,” he shot back immediately.
Have we forgotten the Savings and Loan scandal, the mortgage frauds, the banks' involvement in our last recession (only 8 years ago) and several others...all foisted on Main Street by the Fear & Greed---mainly Greed on the part of those Big Banks, and some not so big?
Attempts to cut back on consumer protections, to allow banks free range in areas they really shouldn’t be in, more freedom for hedge funds and derivatives (these are but legalized gambling on a national scale) and the “fiduciary issue...which requires people who sell you retirement plans to put you first, not their commissions...these are now under attack.   (Did you see the cartoon in my fave Lexington morning paper recently?  The salesman says to his customer,"this last paragraph simply provides that I can’t lose any money, and you can lose lots and lots of money.”  That’s the fiduciary issue at work...and it will be foisted on us if the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress has its way.
I'm just sayin'...
These run, IMHO, contrary to common sense....and good politics!.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rat On, Governor!

When the British army, then the most powerful in the world, surrendered to a “rag-tag group of rebels” at Yorktown (with considerable assistance from France,) Cornwallis’ army band played “The World Turned Upside Down.”
That was my reaction to a major pronouncement by Gov. Bevin in his “State of the Commonwealth” speech this week.
In calling for special sessions to deal with pension reform---and tax reform—he said:
”Bring the sacred cows out of the barn. Some will be returned to the barn, some will become hamburger.”
When asked that meant on KET, long time political reporter Al Cross said “It means taxes are going up.”
This from a conservative, Tea Party governor!   And he swept away 20 years of  tax reform studies by Democrats, all of whom proclaimed they must be “revenue neutral”  (some taxes up, some down but no hike in taxes overall)—and all of which went nowhere.
He’s right...and, unfortunately, got a cautious reaction by House and Senate GOP leaders. This may be our best chance to update an old, very complex tax system; where we exempt more than we take in...not a good basis for a modern state.
Gov. Bevin also called for an overhaul of our foster care system, by some measures the worst in the nation, and long needed. (If done, this will be a major contribution to our state by the Courier-Journal, and C-J reporter Deborah Yetter whose series have chronicled major problems which have resulted in child deaths (yes, deaths) needlessly.
There have been calls for these before, but this just may give Kentucky its best hope for arriving in the 20th century---if not the 21st.
Tho the governor’s speech ended a few minutes after 8pm, my C-J arrived with nary a line about it, no story at all, not a nary. What gives here? Betcha if it had been a UofL basketball game, over at 8, we would have seen a story.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, January 30, 2017

No Grand Pronouncements This Week

Just a few little notes to consider.
I have taken our state’s 2 major papers for years, both as a journalist and as a citizen.  I believe they are trying to do their best in trying times, but some things just don’t make sense to me.
For example. The comics are among the most often read parts of any paper, yet Sunday the Herald-Leader published NEXT Sunday’s comics!  How could this happen?  Surely someone there reads them, and should have spotted the error.
Now what? Does the H-L publish this past Sunday’s comics next week, or repeat them?
And how could the C-J have a full page color shot of Willis and the final UK-KU score, but NO story in the Lexington edition? The H-L had many and, presumably it is printed (at the C-J’s Louisville plant!) after the C-J’s own edition.
Ever since our local paper made its bargain with the Devil to give up local printing and go to Louisville, many stories (tho not as many as I had feared) have been delayed 24 hours into the next day’s edition.  (Even as that they often beat local tv newscasts on major stories, especially from certain “beats” such as courts, which our tv stations generally don’t cover.)
I have a great newspaper carrier, and he often leaves me a note that not enuff C-Js were delivered to Lexington so I don’t get one this day.
The C-J knows how many subscribers it has here..why would it not send enuff papers, or...why does it deliberately shortchange them?  90% of the time when I don’t get a paper, I can drive to the nearest vending machine or store and get one.
And why is it my clear  plastic wrappers let rain in, but the blue ones don’t seem to?  Why not use the blue wrappers all the time?
And why is the H-L threatening legal action if our city council passes a law forcing papers to be placed on our porches, out of snow and rain?  That’s the way it was for years and years. You’re all heart down there on Midland Avenue.
Finally, in the hopes of helping all of you who don’t understand the arguments about fake news and similar things, maybe this example will help:
Fact: the world is round.
Alternate fact: the world is flat.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Never Pick A Fight

With someone who buys ink by the barrel.
An old news maxim that you can’t win fighting “the media."
Trump hasn’t learned this yet, and may not, but let’s hope he and his press minions sober up.
Case in point: attendance at the inauguration.
Aerial photos and other evidence show conclusively his was far less than Obama’s but new White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted the “truth” was out there, and The Donald  won.
Professional  journalists do NOT estimate crowds---ever. They get someone else, more qualified to do so and attribute the size to them. Most DC events are overseen by the National Park Service, and crowd estimates usually come from them...NOT individual reporters.
Spicer should know this...he may not be long for this world.
To the rest of you...viewers, listeners, readers, this advice:
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!!!
I'm just sayin'...