Wednesday, December 26, 2018

What Do People Expect From Their Government?

It’s not always the same. Take Indonesians, for example, since the latest tsunami may be on our minds, as the death toll rises to 420 and keeps on going. (Bad enough, but minor compared to the huge one in 2004 that killed 230,000 people there.) Since the ‘04 tsunami, the government had promised its people a more extensive and better system for detecting such waves, and the events that cause them. But in more detailed news reports over the weekend it came out that the new system, installed by 2012, was NOT working, and no alarm sounded. Why???  One official blamed “vandalism and budget shortfalls.”
So the government of Indonesia, (one of the most earthquake, volcano, and tsunami-prone places on earth,) played fast & loose with its peoples' lives, placing a higher priority on who-knows-what over lives and safety of the people it was sworn to help and defend.
(In Kentucky, as elsewhere, “budget shortfalls” - debts and deficits in reality - are the excuses given for just about everything that doesn’t get done, including small items like retirement funding, contractual promises made state workers, who do so much for the rest of us.)
What do the American people expect from our government?
A lot more than national defense (not the same thing as so-called border security)---mail delivered daily, roads maintained, faulty medicines and food kept off the market, debts (such as Social Security and Medicare) paid on time, after all WE paid into those plans in a contract with our government to get it back later, veterans taken care of properly (I won’t even deign to go into this promise which has been so badly kept for years,) but just the same, we citizens have done our part (or we were fined and jailed), now our government MUST (ethically and legally) do the same.
There is NO excuse for ANY reason, at ANY time, for any PERSON or PARTY to shut down our government.
(And, BTW, all those “continuing resolution” stopgap measures, temporary funding bills need to remind us that Congress itself used to pass a budget by July 1st., (and when it found it could not,) kicked the can down the road to a new deadline of October 1st., (and for the last few years, found out it can’t do that either.)  Let’s remember these things when the next election comes ‘round.
In the meantime: There is NO excuse for ANY reason, at ANY time, for any PERSON OR PARTY, to shut down our government.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, December 17, 2018

Kentucky Pensions And President Trump

Our supreme court spoke last week on one of its biggest cases in years (gracefully waiting until after the November elections) and ruled the Bevin-GOP attempt to revise our broken state pension system was illegal.  No surprises here as it was obvious to anyone who understood the English language the legislature had violated its own rules as well as the state Constitution; in the way it passed the “reform” bill.
What was a surprise: the unanimous decision against the Bevin- GOP approach. Unanimous. Judges of both parties and of varying judicial views all held the way it was done was wrong. (Implications for other bills---and there are many—passed the same way will probably be raised soon and cause new cases.)
Another minor surprise, the court did NOT go into the pension reform itself, as many had hoped, but ruled narrowly, as courts are inclined to do, that the method used was wrong.  Unfortunately this means IF a new legislature gets it right this time, a later case—sure to be filed—(with more expense and delay) would be needed to get our worst-in-the-nation-pension system changed. The court could have saved us all a lot of grief if it had gone into the reforms themselves.
Of course Gov. Bevin and his legislative allies were disappointed. They had worked long and hard to make changes, but they had also been warned they were going about it the wrong way.
So what was their reaction?
Just as President Trump’s—when he gets a court ruling he doesn’t like—blame the judges.
Bevin, who is not a lawyer, might (might) be excused, though he should, as every citizen should, understand the Rule of Law. But for top GOP legislative leaders to react by suggesting “we need to rein in the judges” is really discouraging. They know better and their words are just one more GOP attempt to damage our system of governing; words and actions echoed by at least 2 other state legislatures under GOP control that voted recently to strip powers from governors when the elections brought in a Democrat. This shows bad faith in our system, and likely will be overturned, in time, at considerable cost to those states who don’t have extra money lying around these days.
More and more our governor and state government seems to be becoming little Donalds.
It’ discouraging to see the President constantly disparaging our system of checks and balances, of three branches of government—each with its role to play, to make America work. With each new disparagement our Democracy falters, at a time we can least afford it. Elected officials have a responsibility to improve our system, not actively work to tear it down. I hope our voters will remember.
One last word: there is no excuse, ever, at any time and for any reason, for any party or person to shut down our government.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Admonitions For The Holidays

1---Be careful when you read the ingredients of holiday goodies.   
     I like bourbon balls, often buy them this time of year. Recently I bought some from a major candy maker, who used a well known distillery’s bourbon. Didn’t care for taste, so idly checked the ingredients list. There were 10 major ingredients listed (but some of the ten were actually products with 5-8 ingredients themselves.  Sugar was the main one..followed by “invert sugar” as number 2. Included in the 10 were four other major ingredients which included some form of sugar in their formulation.)  Water was the fourth highest in use ingredient. Bourbon was the 8th ingredient listed---or put another way, 3rd from the bottom as the smallest amount contained in this candy.
Maybe we should call them “Sugar Balls.” Or “Bourbon flavored Sugar Balls” since sugar made up 40-plus% of the candy, by weight.
2---Those Xmas commercials.
Each season there are a few really thoughtful, interesting and unusual commercials on the air. Often its those of the Budweiser Clydesdales; but so far this year, a Meijer’s commercial is primo - the one about the little dog locked out of the house during present wrapping—and what happens next.  Check it out. (Liked the dog-centered Mercedes spot also for a few airings, but I could look at the Meijer’s spot many times.)
3---Now if I could just get area radio stations to play my all-time fave Xmas “commercial.”—one that was banned by some stations when it first came out 60 years ago. To find out why, and cheer the sentiment contained therein, Google “Stan Freberg’s Green Christmas.”  Just “Green Christmas” won’t do, that’s  a popular song by some other group. You can find just the lyrics, or on some websites, including Youtube, hear it played by his acting company. Well worth it.
I'm just sayin...Happy Christmas to all—and to all a Good Night.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bush 41 And Bevin

Former President George H.W. Bush visited Kentucky a number of times, and as a journalist I was privileged to meet with him as part of a small group of broadcast reporters interviewing him. He impressed me with his sincerity, pleasantness and civility---in person and as hallmarks of his administration.  Reagan talked of “compassionate conservatism” but didn’t really delivery it; Bush did.
His “Thousand points of light” program was just one example. Trump has disparaged it, but it was truly nothing more than the old idea of volunteerism for America, helping your neighbor as a tradition on our nation. The Bush family, as the Kennedys and others, exemplified this in the extreme. They had profited by being Americans and felt an obligation to give something back.  You might disagree with their policies but not their desire to serve. (Several Kentucky communities were honored for their work by this program.)
Bush probably was a one term president because he broke a promise not to raise taxes. Yet, at that time, it was probably the right thing to do. But the Old Guard in the GOP never forgave him, and with a fractured party, Clinton won.
Today’s GOP is not the party of Pres. Bush; I wish it were. It was, as he put it, a “kinder, gentler” type of administration, which we lack today, both nationally and in Kentucky.
Gov. Bevin keeps trying to change the Medicaid rules so people must do some work  (or even Bush-type volunteering) to keep their benefits. Lawsuits stopping his first attempt here kept Kentucky from being the first in the nation with such a project. But appeals to DC have led them to tweak the program, in an effort to avoid the lawsuit they lost, and now Bevin is trying again.  But the same objections by opponents still apply: in many parts of Kentucky, especially Eastern Kentucky, there just aren’t the jobs—or even the opportunities to pursue volunteer projects—to meet the requirements so people will lose their benefits.       
One has to believe this is what the governor really wants. (Hardly either compassionate conservatism or a kinder, gentler approach.)  And now we have some proof. When the first lawsuit delayed our program; new lawsuits have been promised and other states went ahead. One in Alabama, was the subject of a recent report on the PBS Newshour. Surprise! In those areas of that state, where, as in our state, jobs are scarce, people could not qualify under the new work-volunteer rules and they lost their benefits. Many, as the report showed, have sunk into greater poverty, and much poorer health—much poorer.
Can we not learn from this?
Can Gov. Bevin not learn, and in the spirit of our former president, end this charade and return his party to Mr. Bush’s approach? It would serve many Kentuckians much better than these proposed new work rules; and, by the way, it’s much better politics.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Why Not?

A/G Beshear (and that’s also candidate Beshear) has urged lawmakers again to consider legalizing casinos and sports betting in Kentucky as a way to finance our pension problems.
Why Not?
We have a lottery already, with its funds dedicated to education, so why not more of the same with funds dedicated to the pension problem?
Bevin and the GOP majority in the legislature is the easy answer, but it makes little sense. We already have legal betting in the successful state lottery. We need the money, though let’s admit it won’t solve the pension problem, it can get us started—and in a big way.  Opposition by conservative “family” groups, also, but see my argument # 1, we already have a successful lottery.
The GOP, the party of Business, seems content to let a lot of business leave Kentucky and go to Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and other surrounding states that have, or may soon have, casinos, sports betting, etc., draining this money from our state and our business. That is shortsighted in the extreme. And bad politics.
Gov. Bevin says its time to take a new look at solving state problems, especially the one he has hung his hat on—pensions. He won’t Like the Beshears (dad also proposed the same thing when he was governor) getting any credit here, but what is best for our state: credit in a campaign or solving a festering problem that is only getting worse?
I'm just sayin'

Monday, November 19, 2018

Election Thoughts - Past And Future

Almost every election, reporters interview someone who didn’t vote and the reason why is often “my vote won’t count.”
EVERY election, the one just past being no exception, races ARE decided by one vote; both this time on the federal level as well as local. Yup, someone’s headed to Congress because one person voted.  And here in Kentucky, we had one race end in a tie, decided by a coin flip.
Enuff of history, and the miserable turnout, about 46%, let’s talk about all the problems the US had; from not enough ballots, to jammed machines, to one polling place that didn’t exist (it was foreclosed on and padlocked before the election!) to not enough machines causing long lines, to not enough election workers showing up, to machines with NO paper trail in 3 states (and thus no way to check on fraud or human errors!) to some political chicanery but no real evidence of fraud.
That said, why aren’t our elections better run???
After the”hanging chad” debacle of 2000, Washington promised us help. We got some more money (not sufficient) and some new electronic machines (not always easy to operate and again, some without a paper trail---such as right here in Fayette County!!!) and as I write almost 2 weeks later, some races still have not been called, and I don’t mean just Florida.
BTW, we have a small race here next year for governor. And the nation has one in two years for the top job.
What can be done?  A lot, and while Washington must help with more $$$, and some UNIFORM voting rules for federal races, let’s talk about the Commonwealth.
1---get rid of all machines that do not have a paper trail. The Herald-Leader reports that means FayCo..and the city seems to have some surplus funds which could solve this problem (plus grant money from state and US sources.)  Let’s do it! And if we can’t get simpler machines with paper trails by next year, let’s go back to paper ballots, read by machines, instead.
2---pass legislation that whenever the Secretary of State is a candidate, he/she must turn over the duties of overseeing elections to someone else. Let’s not have the disgrace of what happened in Georgia happen here. We have been warned; let’s get ahead of the curve.
3—take a good hard look at early voting..which has some advantages, but also some drawbacks. Do NOT go in for mail ballots as some states have, which I suspect is too open to fraud. Do consider in person voting over several days or even shifts or longer hours—and gear up for that.
4---consider AVR, as several states already have. Basically Automatic Voting Registration is where if you go to any state office for any matter, you are or can be registered to vote then and there.
5---plan NOW for a non- or bi-partisan commission of experts who will draw the lines for all state/federal voting districts when the new census figures come out, more and more states are going this way, Kentucky needs to as well.
and, above all,
6---join the movement to end the Electoral College and elect the President by popular vote. Then, one Kentucky vote will no longer mean less than a vote in Tenn., or Ohio, or Indiana.  ALL votes will be equal!
I'm just sayin'...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Free Advice For Amy McGrath

Years ago, as a young reporter, I interviewed James F. Byrnes, once the “assistant president” to FDR and a former Secretary of State, a name now largely forgotten.
One of the things he told me I have never forgotten:  “Free advice is the commodity in greatest supply—and least in demand.”
Nevertheless, I will now offer some to Mrs. McGrath:
DON’T run for governor.
I know your campaign manager, (a professional here as I am not) wants you to (and maybe increase his employment,) but don't.
Right now you are a new, fresh, and exciting face on the body politic, and a loser after an excellent, hard fought campaign against an incumbent, backed by a popular President, (at least here in these parts.) Many will suggest “strike while the iron is hot” and, yes, there are a lot of not-so-exciting Democrats in the wings ready to run. But, many did question why you ran, fresh out of service without much current experience in state issues and policies.  Take your time. Go to Pennyrile and Paducah; go to Harlan and Bowling Green; meet the people there---out of your home district. Tour the Commonwealth. Get better known throughout our state.
You’ve already antagonized the Gray clan, no need to take on the Beshears. Or the Lundergans.
Besides who really wants to take up the issue of our state pension debacle. Let someone else continue to screw it up.
Wait a while.
Come back in ‘20...and take on the Big Dawg!
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Congressional Debate And Marsy's Law

Taking a page from Democrat guru James Carville’s playbook, mild mannered incumbent Andy Barr became an attack dog from the start of KET’s 6th District debate Monday, charging squeaky clean newcomer Amy McGrath with being just as “dirty” as he was; if that meant running attack ads.
So the 2 top candidates went back and forth on TV ads, and their sources, and who was “more positive” while the issues got less time (and the Libertarian candidate, Frank Harris, got less time, as he noted—while making some very cogent points.  Go to his website for more, he urged voters.)
When Andy & Amy did debate, it was a mixed bag. House Republicans tried over 30 times to repeal Obamacare, but finally realized it was more popular than they thought, and came up with a new “scheme” (and that’s what it is, not a plan) to “improve” it.  Hopefully voters will see through that.
The two did debate extensively the Trump tax cuts (which a vast majority of economists feel will aid only the top richest people, not the famed “middle class” and lower.) McGrath insisted the bill will come due in 3 years, while Harris correctly pointed out its toll on the rising national debt, once a mantra of the GOP, but apparently no more.
The 2 disagreed over veterans as well.  Barr supporting vouchers for vets to go to any private MD. McGrath countered that, as with a lot of bills in Congress, those vouchers were not funded. Barr interrupted to say they were. I haven’t had time to check CQ here, hopefully one of our local media will do so and let us know.
Barr insisted McGrath’s plans would cost trillions, she denied it; Harris said a pox on both your parties; that's what causes the national debt to rise and a chief reason I left the GOP!  Barr said he tried to hold down the debt by supporting spending cuts but was in the minority of his party. Amy countered that Mitch and others will now support cutting social security, medicare & aid, and all those programs Dems hold dear, and Andy fired back “scare tactics.”  (We shall see, remember this night, folks.)
McGrath opposes Trump’s tariffs, as bad for farmers; Barr supported the China tariffs saying we have been ripped off, Harris quietly disagreed and brought up our foreign policy problems, saying its not terrorism but resources (especially oil) that got the US into “our longest war” in Afghanistan, and how would Americans like it if Russia had bases in Canada and Mexico, as the US had around the world.
It was after all, only 3 people and an hour, so maybe we shouldn’t have expected some thoughts about poverty, dark money, the electoral college, election security, etc. etc. etc., but we do thank KET for at least this one opportunity to see 3 of the 4-5 candidates in action.
Now then....on to Marsy's Law:
I am going to vote against the proposed amendment to the state constitution. It’s supposed to guarantee victims’ rights in the justice system, but please read the jumbled, extremely vague description of the amendment which will be on your ballot before deciding, and see if you think that wording really conveys trying to help crime victims. If you read the even more jumbled and vague full wording of the amendment you might wonder even more.
How all those lawyers in the legislature could come up with such ridiculous wording is beyond my comprehension.  It is, to use a phrase that has killed many a bill in other states’ legislatures I have covered "a lawyers bill” and I predict it will lead to many unnecessary, expensive lawsuits, without accomplishing its stated aims. Besides, opponents claim, many of the supposedly “new” rights for victims are already in our constitution.
Marsy's Law is a bad attempt to do a good thing. We should start over after it’s rejected.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Debates And "Conventional Wisdom"

The People, (that would be you & I,) want our elected officials to come before us and discuss the issues of our lives. One good way to do that is through debates.  This is not just “conventional wisdom,”polls have shown over and over such debates are supported by a majority of voters.
Candidates, on the other hand, often try to avoid them. Why?
In politics, the “conventional wisdom” is that if you are ahead in the polls, you don’t need them (often fearing a gaffe that will cause you problems), and if you are behind, you call on your opponent to do so, hoping a good appearance will jazz up your faltering campaign.)
In the 6th district race for congress, we have seen such “conventional wisdom” supposedly vindicated,---and turned on its head.
For years I have maintained one of the major reasons Ben Chandler finally lost to Andy Barr was his refusal to debate.  Barr, who lost his first race against Chandler, kept after him to debate, and people were turned off when he wouldn’t.  Barr promised to debate if elected, but he didn’t. He shied away from such debates in his next two races (where “conventional wisdom” said he was way ahead of lesser Democratic opponents.)
But this year is different. Amy McGrath is a strong candidate, But she has agreed to only 1 debate, on KET next week. Some reports have said that Barr is running behind. He did recently call for more debates, most unlike the old Barr. (“Conventional wisdom” fed on reports he was running behind McGrath.) Most newcomers, such as McGrath would be delighted to get the free exposure on KET (and also requested by the League of Women Voters and the area’s #1 TV station, WKYT) but she has turned all such offers down—so far. “Conventional wisdom” may be in news reports her internal polls say she is ahead and, afraid of a bad debate showing, is turning all these requests down.
McGrath, however, has based her entire campaign on being the newcomer, the outsider, the independent, and not “the politician”—but here she is discarding all of that part of her image and –if those news reports are right---going along with the “conventional wisdom” of her hired political handlers—and is thumbing her nose at what she knows the People (you and I) want, which is a lot more than just one debate.
It is, I think, a major mistake, and she would be advised to rethink all this, and accept a few more debates in the closing days of this very crucial campaign.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 15, 2018

Our President Has Come And Gone

Leaving behind a pumped up “base” (who came here from many states, which I admit, surprised me.) More especially a pumped up campaign for Congressman Andy Barr; and the usual amount of half-truths and mis-statements along with his campaign rhetoric.
He said coal jobs were up. Not exactly. The latest report shows an almost 1% rise in the nation, and an almost 1% drop in Kentucky—an almost 5% drop since he was elected on a pledge to bring such jobs back to Kentucky.
Speakers get carried away; political speakers are often the worst offenders. He knows Democrats across the country are not “the party of crime” any more than they are “soft” on Communism, or against Motherhood. And as for letting in the brutes of MS-13, if you know who they are thank the MSM (main stream media) and its “fake” news for telling you.
Barr was probably delighted Mr. Trump claimed Barr’s opponent, Amy McGrath, was for “open borders” though she has run too many tv spots denying that. It is NOT the same thing to oppose the stupid “Wall” (and it is, ask the President—of Mexico---or the teenagers who keep climbing over its prototypes—if spending 20 plus Billions is a good idea.)
Now was she “chosen by Nancy Pelosi..and the radical Democratic mob?” That mob picked and backed Lexington Mayor Jim Gray who ran against McGrath.
But, hey, Presidents and campaign speakers are supposed to play fast and loose with the truth; it’s just that we reporters (and you citizens) keep hoping for something better, keep hoping for party reps who will “talk sense to the American people.” It’s difficult for we voters to make good decisions on the critical issues facing the USA if either party’s reps won’t do that.  (I haven’t yet spotted any such errors in the short tv clips I saw on Joe Biden’s fish fry appearance, or quotes in the papers, but if I do, I’ll pass them along.  No party has a monopoly on truth, nor is it free from errors.
Now then, inquiring minds want to know:  who paid for the expense of bringing Air Force One in for this entirely campaign visit?  I hope it was the RNC or RPK or Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, but I don’t know, and I hope my colleagues in the media will find out for all of us. It would be totally unfair (and illegal as well) if we taxpayers shared such costs.
Speaking of media here, congrats to WKYT for airing the Trump speech - at considerable cost - but a great example of operating “in the public interest” as they are licensed to do. And special congrats to its reporter Miranda Combs for getting an exclusive interview with the President, and not asking “softball” questions.  (I assume WEKU-FM also aired the speech in full, as they should have, if not I was watching tv, shame on you.)
Finally, I hope all those who spent such time and energy and money to come to Richmond to hear the President will turn out and vote on election day.  Applauding wildly at such rallies seems easy, but somehow going to the polls seems much harder these days. I wish I knew why.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Both Deals Suspect - And You And I Might Pay

An important report from the state auditor recently casts great doubt on the wisdom of the “Kentucky Wired” project; a very ambitious plan to provide high speed broadband service to all parts of the state, but especially to E. Ky. It was put forward by Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, and Congressman Hal Rogers, a Republican. It was to cost the state nominally, but somehow (no one really knows exactly how) has greatly increased in cost, and somehow (no one seems to know exactly how) we taxpayers may be on the hook for the increase.
At the same time, media reports indicate one of the guv’s fave projects, an aluminum mill near Ashland is also in some financial straits; not all the private financing has come forth. (does this sound like CentrePoint on a state basis?)  Backers of the plan says “don’t worry, the money will be there.  But doubts remain—even if this hadn’t come out about the time of the auditor’s report.
What a wonderful chance for a new probe into both projects; not by the Attorney General (son of guv Beshear) but by the auditor, an independent counsel, some legislative group, so we taxpayers can know just what is going on.
As the A/G just named a special counsel to probe Sec. of State Grimes' election activities (also needed,) let him excuse himself from these two ventures and name another special counsel.
We need to get to the bottom---and quickly—before you and I assume another billion (yes billion) or so new debt we and the Commonwealth just can not handle.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Lengthened Shadow

Emerson was right. You remember old Ralph Waldo’s famous saying; "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”
The institution is KET, observing the 50th anniversary of going on the air this month.   
The “one man” is Len Press, who conceived the idea of KET and after many hardships got it going.  Len would be the first to say he didn’t do it alone, and his book points out the many people all over Kentucky, and in DC who had his dream and reality.  But still, this month as we celebrate KET, we must celebrate Len Press (and his wife Lil, very much also involved in KET’s history).
I hope you see the 50th birthday program which KET will be airing a lot, even if you don’t read his book.  KET is so much more than the PBS schedule in prime time many of us confuse with KET. So much more. It—and Len’s—prime mission was to bring education to those who didn’t have it, and who badly needed it.  While other states (and KET, too) have drifted from his primary goal, it is, please remember, Kentucky EDUCATIONAL Television.
I hope 50 years from now we will still have KET. If so, it will be on the frontiers of whatever good broadcasting is about. But I am not entirely hopeful. The legislature has squeezed its budget badly. Good, veteran staffers have been laid off, programs have been cancelled or cut back; more than KET will admit, and these days we need it more than ever.
But so many people realize its worth, and hopefully will continue to do so, that 50 years from now, there will be another shadow, another Len Press to guide it into another uncertain future, and for that, and for what KET has achieved in its first half-century, we may all be very, very proud.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, September 17, 2018

This Blog Is Not Anonymous

It’s bad enough when the public gets it wrong, worse when journalists get it wrong, and very, very bad when journalists get it wrong and cause the public to get it wrong.
I’m talking about the recent famous “anonymous” Op Ed piece in the New York times where a “senior member” of the Trump administration confessed they were deliberately opposing some acts the President wanted to take “for the good of the country”
This Op Ed was NOT “anonymous," as many news stories reported.
There are at least 2 types of so-called “anonymous” stories—and I have dealt with both in my career.
1—is the truly and totally anonymous story that comes into the newsroom from out of nowhere. It claims certain newsworthy things have or will happen and asks us to cover them. It cites no or little evidence for the claim and gives no indication who has sent in this news tip. That is a truly anonymous story, and gives reporters a hard time.  If the claim is about something significant should we use it; but how do we go about verifying that it is, that the claim is accurate and the “source” is creditable?  In most cases these tips/claims can be tossed out on their face.  Once in a while they are worth investigating to see if there is anything  truthfully there.
2---the other type of so called “anonymous” story, and this was true in the Times cases, is where the source IS KNOWN to the reporter, but insists on remaining anonymous, which in a country with a First Amendment is their right. What to do, if you are an ethical journalist, especially if the claim is about an important public issue? You can try to talk them out of their insistence, which is what finally happened in the recent story in the Washington Post about the woman now claiming Judge Kavanaugh sexually abused her. Or you can keep investigating the source’s claim, and if you can’t convince them to “go public” wrestle mightily with whether the claim is so newsworthy and the source so creditable that you go ahead and print it, keeping the source’s name out of it, as ethics require.
It’s not an easy decision to make and we reporters have had many an argument over what is the “right” course here.  Some decide one way; the Times decided another.
Which also means, since the newsroom and the editorial board room at the Times are two very separate entities, that the newsroom now has the ethical responsibility to try to uncover who the Op Ed writer is..and if they succeed, will that story be pushed?? (That one will go all the way up to the publisher for a decision, and one that will be further complicated by rumors the Wall Street Journal or CBS has unearthed the writer and is about to report same.)  Who said Journalism was easy?
We---the collective we of the US 4th Estate—has done a bad job explaining what I see as 2 very different definitions of “anonymous” here.
May I suggest, in the future, these be differentiated as “anonymous” in case 1, and “from a source known to us but who insists on not being named” in case 2.  That will help the public decide what faith, if any, to put on the story.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It's The New Fall Season

For political commercials on TV, of course.
And what do we have so far?
Disappointing attack ads from our 6th district Congressman Andy Barr. He could have started on a much higher note, but chose instead to “go negative” not as much as those semi-anonymous groups supporting him, but nevertheless...
We haven’t had polls for a while, thank heavens, after their grossly inaccurate performance in ‘16. But along comes the New York Times with a type of polling few people had heard about here, and no one trusts---not with a MOE (Margin of Error) of 9%. 4% is considered acceptable by those who know, I am told.
As usual even on my big TV set, you can’t read the tiny print at the bottom as to what group is sponsoring these ads; (wonder if Congress which makes the rules planned it this way?)  Along with making it difficult to find out much information as to who these groups are, and whether they are in touch with the candidate they back, a No No against federal law. But then, who polices these ads?  Who tries to find out if there is illegal collusion?  I think it’s the Federal Election Commission; an agency starved by Congress for funds and staff and are you beginning to see a plan here which works for both parties, of course, but against the people?
So, locally it’s been left up to the news media to probe these ads;a re they correct or misleading?  But local TV stations—which rake in plenty of money from such ads-- haven’t done this for years, and newspapers are starved for staff these days and usually don’t any more; an abdication of responsibility, but...
I was unhappy with some of my Congressman’s ads until I realized most of the really bad ones were coming from supporting groups, not Mr. Barr himself. But one ad, currently running by him, is wrong in saying Mrs. McGrath supports a single payer health care system (which she does) it calls such a system “Socialism.”  It isn’t.  Many countries around the world have such a system or its variations, and these nations run the gamut from left to right.
In fact the US is one of, if not the last, major Western nation not to have such a system, and it is worth being debated in the 6th district campaign; but on the basis of facts, not red flag (“Socialism!!!) errors.
I do hope Mr. Barr will give in—as he hasn’t in past races—and hold more than one debate. The citizens of his district are worth more than just one.
As for Mrs. McG, it’s about time she stopped running fuzzy, warm ads of bare bottomed kids, and cooking grandmas; most of us now know who she is and her military background, but where does she stand on more issues for our district than just health care, important as that is???
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There's Blood On My Hands; And Yours Too

Twice in the last two weeks a Saudi Arabian air strike in Yemen has hit a school bus full of kids (killing over 30) and a school (killing a half dozen more.)
The US is supplying the Saudis with intelligence, supplies, bombs, refueling, money, training...all the things necessary to fight a war; and get it wrong.  When the first bombing happened, the Saudis claimed their target was a military one. After a world outcry, and a UN call for an “independent” investigation, the Saudis said they would conduct their own.  (see fox guarding hen house) They have been silent since the 2nd bombing a week later. 
The US also has military personnel on the ground in Yemen, to aid the Saudis, which means sooner or later, there will be American casualties in this conflict where we have taken sides. In my book, that’s war, and we are involved.  Not that the Trump administration or the Pentagon told the American people we were involved in another war. That leaked out because reporters ferreted it out, which is our job.
Not that Congress approved our being involved in another war, which is their job under the Constitution. As it was in Niger, where the American people (and most of Congress) found out about our war there only when 4 US troops died in an ambush and the Pentagon couldn’t cover it up.
As an American citizen whose elected representatives keep ignoring the Constitution’s war clause, and secretly involving us in wars (and proxy wars) all over the world, these senseless air strikes that kill innocent bystanders make me feel as it I have blood on my hands.  I hope you feel the same.
What can we do?
Well for one, there’s a 6th district Congressional race going on now. Rep. Barr and challenger McGrath should both be asked about the ignoring of the war powers clause of the Constitution, and what they will do when one of them next takes the oath to uphold, support, and defend the Constitution...
So help me God.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Few News Media Notes

Many of us reacted with horror at last week’s grand jury report on Catholic priests' sexual abuse cases in Pennsylvania. Not so the state’s largest paper. The Courier-Journal had ZIP about this in its edition next day. Lexington TV stations seem to ignore the fact  that one of the bishops involved, the Harrisburg one, had moved there from Lexington. It took days to get local church reaction, and when they did, 27 & Fox carried reports listing his name as Richard Gainer, not Ronald.
More horror from the murders of a young pregnant wife and her two daughters in Colorado. The husband became a suspect but before he was charged, during his “perp walk” a reporter shouted “why did you kill your wife?” America seems to forget one of our cardinal principles is the presumption of innocence, and this is why. When I was a local TV news director had this happened, my staff would have had what one reporter called “a come to Jesus” session with me. “Did you kill your wife?” is OK; the other is not. What a difference one word makes, but that’s what journalism is all about. I was amazed that CBS used the offending report on its evening newscast---hardly "original reporting.”
My compliments to all area stations who won regional Emmy awards, but especially to Miranda Combs for her investigative report on a sleazy local auto dealer who was defrauding its customers. The state took action against him only after her reports aired.
For years newspapers have sought a “business plan” that would stave off their shrinking readership. I have one: put the main news on the front page. My fave Lexington morning rag put the conviction of Manafort, and Cohen’s guilty pleas on page 6!
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 13, 2018

Immigration Policy & The Wall

These two topics, to my surprise, have been raised as the first policy issues in the 6th District Congressional campaign, so let’s take a look.
A little history first:
In the modern political period our immigration policy started going wrong when LBJ’s conservative Texas Democrats, (soon to become Republicans) insisted on cheap farm labor, and when enough Americans couldn’t be found, turned their eyes from the law and insisted on opening the gates to illegal Mexican workers. Ronald Reagan’s GOP businessmen in California soon followed suit to get farm workers there, and not to be outdone, Democrats soon embraced LaRaza & Caesar Chavez; all seeking foreign workers for jobs Americans didn’t want or wouldn’t take, and the rush for more and more immigrants swelled.
Those “illegals” that were apprehended at our borders, by an understaffed Border Patrol soon jammed the immigration courts, also understaffed, and the insidious (and illegal) policy of “Catch & Release” began. Those arrested were told to go away, anywhere, don’t bother us, but come back when we seek you for a court hearing at a very unspecified date; oh, and don’t bother to check with us as to where you live.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, from many countries, but mainly Latin America, poured into the US, found jobs, sent for and raised families, became productive citizens, and even applied for legal citizenship. But many others did not.
Presidents of both parties turned a blind eye to these law violations; so did Congress.
In good economic times, no bother. In bad times, a lot of bother. Along comes the Recession of 2007-8-9-etc and suddenly there was a lot of bother. Rule of law advocates objected; far right nationalists objected; any candidate of any party out of office in that district objected, and then along came The Donald.
His first speech, announcing his candidacy, denounced illegal Mexicans as “rapists..thugs..criminals..and I’m sure some good people”..and it went down into the Swamp from there. Elected, in part on a pledge to clean up the Swamp, our President has, properly, denounced the Catch & Release approach and, as a cornerstone of his platform, insisted on building a Border Wall (“and, folks, Mexico is gonna pay for it.”)  Mexico, as any sovereign nation would, strenuously objected to paying for any project being built in another country over which it had no control.
Congressman Andy Barr supports the ($20 Billion) Wall for security reasons. Democrat challenger Amy McGrath has called it “stupid." So far as the Wall is concerned, it is stupid, especially when we see 3 teenagers, stand on each others’ shoulders, scale the wall—even at its new height, or where it juts 50’ out into the Pacific, swim around it. Or tunnel under it, or find new ways to get through. (Or instead of paying smugglers thousands to get them into the US, pay several hundred for a plane ticket to Canada and walk across “the world’s longest, undefended border” which ICE says is becoming more and more the route of choice.)
And, BTW, the estimate of $20 Billion is the major part of the cost of our still UNdeclared war in Afghanistan—(see Notes on Due Process in last week’s blog)--money that could be used to take care of the veterans of that war, and those of Iraq, Korea, the Gulf War, etc., or maybe to improve Americans’ health or roads instead. Mexico is NOT going to pay for any American wall, and as an American taxpayer I don’t wish to either.
As to Catch & Release, the Trump administration has used this very policy itself. When federal courts insisted on an accounting of the ill-advised policy of separating families at the border, among the very early statistics Homeland Security reported to the court were a group of parents brought before immigration courts and then released into the USA without any restrictions on them and without any forwarding address given to the courts!!!    
Catch & Release Lives.  This, and the stupidity (not security) of the Border Wall is what we need to be debating, in hopes we might finally arrive at better, legal, and even humane immigration laws.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 6, 2018


Due Process   noun  “ fair treatment thru the normal judicial system”
At a time when almost all state agencies are crying for funds, when schools are desperately needing more money, when thousands have been denied dental and medical care for lack of funds, the Bevin administration has extended a contract with an Indiana law firm to keep investigating the former administration of Democratic Governor Steve Beshear.
Previously Bevin allocated $500,000 for this probe;  now, a year later and with NO report so far from the firm, an extension for another $500,000 has been granted---that’s a million dollars that could have been spent on much more needy projects elsewhere.
We are indebted to the Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer for breaking this story. It also points out Bevin’s reason for spending this was an extension of a no-bid contract on the last day of the Beshear term to a N.C. firm which has the husband of Beshear’s executive cabinet secretary as a consultant. I don’t think that act passes the smell test; but it apparently did follow state contract procedures—or due process.
Brammer’s story points out the original contract did also (though its wisdom is surely subject to argument.) The recent extension apparently passed muster of a state group by being disguised as something else.  Former Gov. Carroll, a member of that group missed objecting because the new title seems to have been cooked up to hide what it was; if so, that’s not due process.
I would argue the state needed that money elsewhere; and the Feds maintain an Office of Public Integrity, which would have investigated the Beshear extension IF Bevin had enough evidence to warrant it. Maybe he doesn’t; maybe the only way he could get this probe started was to spend vital money here. But whatinhell is that law firm doing to spend a half million in one year investigating one contract---and no report???  Miranda Combs at Channel 27 or Tom Loftus at the CJ would have had a report in jig time at far less cost if they were on the case, and I suspect even the Feds could have, too.
Meanwhile in Tennessee, it took 3 and one half years, due process was followed and 2 former UT footballer players have been ACQUITTED of aggravated rape charges stemming from an off campus party. UT suspended the 2 when the accusations were made, and it took all this time for the judicial system to find them innocent. They never played for Tennessee again. They may have their reputations made whole but the slow grinding justice system probably robbed them of any chance for a pro career.
Now then, just suppose...suppose---in 3.5 years, Harvey Weinstein is found innocent?  Or Charlie Rose, or Garrison Keillor?
Just suppose.
And that is why, slow or not, due process is an important American tradition.   Too bad non-judicial groups (yes, #MeToo and UT) don’t believe in it.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Punishment Does Not Fit The Crime - Unless You Want To Burn Papa John At The Stake

So, enough already!

He confessed to using the “N” word, pressured into it he says, and what has happened to him?
Lost his positions with the firm he founded (in a broom closet) and built into 4500 stores globally (and all the jobs that went with them); had his name taken off the stadium at the school he loves—UofL, resigned from their board, --- all this in his home town of Louisville, and had been the object of universal disgust (his fair name and reputation) everywhere.
Worse, he has seen UK pile on, taking his name off a major building there, ending its financial relation with him and his foundation.
Now Papa John is well off—financially; several times a millionaire, many homes, private chopper, etcetec—all of which he earned by his hard work (and better ingredients) now lost in the blink of an eye.  Money yes, but what of one’s lost forever?
This is more than “let he without sin cast the first stone,"  but it is that, and jealousy, and much much more..including entirely too many columns of calumny in the C-J and elsewhere....but...let’s move on folks (and my colleagues in journalism)...there are more important news items, and things to be learned here.
For one, how to get a commercial name off a public stadium.  I have made no secrecy of my distaste  for Kroger Field. Before the UofL board realizes it now could rename Cardinal Stadium Commonwealth Stadium, is there any sexual or racial dirt we can get on a top Kroger executive and retain that time honored name here?
And two, the really important racial news of the past week is that the feds have reopened Emmett Till’s murder case—at last. If you don’t know the details here, please Google. The feds have pretty well known for years who killed this young black boy (as they did in the church bombing in Birmingham that killed the 4 young black girls,) but proving it was another matter. The Justice Department says “new information” caused the reopening. Let’s hope this does lead to justice in this most unfortunate case, and one far more important than one where the “N” word slipped out in a semi-private  conversation.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 9, 2018

If I Were A Betting Man (I'm Not, But...)

1. A/G Beshear has ruled that blocking protesters entrance to our Capitol was illegal. This opinion does not have the force of law (as his opinions do in other areas) but they are guidance to state officials and agencies. KSP & the Governor’s office may have the final say here. Now that Beshear is officially running for governor (surprise!), I would hope Gov. Bevin would accept the A/G’s opinion, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
2. Even more so I wouldn’t bet the guv would accept the court’s opinion in another case. Franklin Circuit Judge Shepherd (the one he called a “hack”) has ruled the state must pay the Courier-Journal $33K in legal fees because it illegally withheld public records as to stockholders in a joint state-private firm, Braidy Industries. The court upheld A/G Beshear’s opinion that the state could not do this—because public money was involved. Now the guv has a right to appeal this decision. I hope he won’t—you & I have a right to know how OUR money is being invested—but I wouldn’t bet on it.
3. Because Kentucky (and many other states) allow nursing homes to report on their staffing problems voluntarily (that means UNverified by a public agency) we haven’t known if the homes followed state law requiring minimum levels of staffing. That’s important for the well-being and health of our loved ones. But  now we know. The NY Times citing data gathered under the Affordable Care act (Obamacare) shows many homes violated staffing laws, thus providing inadequate care.  I would hope state legislators would follow up next year and require such data to be made public here. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Instead, watch for the nursing home industry to lobby Congress to remove that provision of Obamacare so we won’t know of their less-than-adequate care of our family members.
4. Largely overlooked by the media when the Supreme Court upheld the latest version of the Trump discriminatory travel ban (thank you Judge Gorsuch and Mitch) was a footnote saying the 1944 decision UPHOLDING the wartime internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry of that same Supreme Court was probably wrong. News reports conflict but PBS’s able court reporter said the court couldn’t bring itself to go all the way.  Downright shame. This modern Dred Scott decision has been law for much too long. I want to bet this one will eventually be overturned, but with the upcoming conservative court planned by Pres. Trump, that may not happen...either.
Elections have consequences.
Whatever your views, your failure to vote has even more.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 2, 2018

Purple Fingers And The Fourth of July

But First:

Item One:

Gov. Bevin isn’t doing too well in the courts. He has lost 3 major decisions so far, and this past week a big one in federal court, which held that he/Ky. could not require medicaid recipients to work in order to continue their benefits.
The guv has apparently learned, tho. He didn’t refer to that federal judge as a “hack” or “stupid” as he has certain state judges. Federal judges can be a little testy when called such names, and have been known to throw the authors into the pokey.
But, properly, the guv has asked a state judge to reconsider his ruling tossing out the legislature’s pension overhaul. This was needed because the judge, as courts often do, ruled on very narrow grounds...and the state needs clarity on provisions not covered in the ruling, especially whether the new law violates the state’s “inviolable contract” with state workers. Good call, guv, needed...please just don’t keep calling judges names when they rule against you.    
Item Two:
 You’ve probably been seeing a lot of public service announcement about not texting and driving, not using cell phones and driving, and so on...but now, “progress” folks; "streaming” (video, not just audio) is becoming more and more installed in cars. BUT, only 2 states ban video use while driving. One would think all those state PSAs on mere texting would have led them to (finally) get ahead of the tech curve, and have bans in place when video also came. But no. And for you Detroit, did we really need this???
Item Three:
America’s Independence Day comes this week.  As I reflect on our freedoms, and revere the First Amendment (“Je suis Capital Gazette”), there is one area where I depart. You can’t force (or shouldn’t) people to talk—free speech; or go to church; or force them to come to a meeting; and so can force them to vote (or pay a helluva penalty)..and this is where I diverge from the usual view of freedom. I think voting is so essential in a democracy it must be required of all citizens. Or face a major fine; or jail time with repeated offenses. Yup, I’re outta your mind Ken, that’s not freedom  Maybe so. Is a 10% turnout in an election in a democracy freedom? In many other countries, including some with poverty, little education, civil wars, people have waited days (yes days) to vote...not hours; they have slogged thru war zones to vote, and faced incredible hardships to exercise this most fundamental right, when so many of us ignore it. They got purple dye on their fingers to show they had voted in many of these countries—and in many of these countries, armed partisans of one side or the other lopped off those purple fingers in retaliation.
But these cruel acts are not limited to the Third World.  Mexico voted Sunday on a new president. Not that any of our local media has called your attention to it.  Or that 130 candidates or potential candidates for offices in Mexico  in that election were murdered; yes, killed because they ran for office, mainly local offices. Crime gangs killed many, thus deciding the outcome of that election by bullets not ballots.
We MUST do something to increase voter turnout here...our democracy is at stake. I think it should be required. You come up with a better that works....please let us all know!

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

His Marbles; Their Rules Of Law, And My Little Red Hen

Well, if you don’t get your own way in politics, pick up your marbles and go home. Forget how important the issue is, and how many people it affects!
That was the easy read of Senate majority leader Damon Thayer’s C-J interview, after a court struck down the pension overhaul bill. He has NO interest in passing any new reforms and doubts other lawmakers do either. But without some reforms, even Thayer admitted those pensions systems will “collapse.”
Overlooked was the bill passed with several major violations of his senate’s rules—which was why the court overturned it. (The court didn’t cite some other glaring violations of Senate rules, which to my mind were even more important—and which Senate members deliberately overlooked to vote passage.)
I hope Sen. Thayer reconsiders, picks up his marbles and returns to the arena (as his fellow Republican Teddy Roosevelt would have done.) He, and members of both parties are needed to get us out of this mess, should the ruling be upheld on appeal. After all it has been 20 years of neglect by both governors and legislatures that has caused this crisis—and neither has been given enough credit for that!!!—so the responsibility is theirs to get us out of this morass.
Meanwhile, the Rule of Law is under attack by both our guv and our President.  Gov. Bevin, a businessman, simply doesn’t understand the Rule of Law. If you submit your case to the courts, which he did, you must abide by the outcome. What he has done so far is to criticize the judge for his ruling—twice. Guv, that will get you nowhere, and doesn’t move the civic debate along. We need solutions not epithets.
In the meantime, the H-L had a MOST interesting story that relates to the pension debacle. Seems some of the hedge funds we have invested millions in, want to be dropped from our retirement system pension plans. Why??  Oh boy, listen to this. Because the legislature passed a law calling for more scrutiny of them. And one of its provisions is that such funds must operate under professional codes of ethics. One code key provision is that such funds must put clients/customers (such as the Ky. pension system) first. These codes were largely written by investment professionals—not Ky. lawmakers. But hedge funds have always been on the edge of the investment industry’s dubious morality (and should be IMHO outlawed for years of scandals) and they are fighting any move that might threaten its excessive profits and commissions or hold them to a simply code of conduct.
(IMHO-2, the entire Ky. pension program should be investigated. I strongly suspect wrongdoing, influence peddling, fraud and curvature of the spine. Where is the A/G, KSP/LRC/any special legislative commission here?  Maybe journalists will have to do it, and these days with limited staff and budget that will be a problem.)
Pres. Trump takes the Guv. Bevin approach. He has been so burned on the totally wrong, and UNnecessary separation of families at the border, he wants them deported without trial or following our laws. (See Rule of Law comments above.) His administration was and is totally unprepared to handle the situation. Parents were held by one agency, kids in another and there not only is no Master List, but the computers of the 2 agencies can’t “talk” to each other. As the military said it had space to house the kids—hopefully not in cages—hundreds of them were bussed to NYC for confinement. This makes no sense.
Neither does the little Red Hen reaction. That’s the name of a very small Virginia restaurant where the owner refused to serve the White House press secretary and her friends recently. The owner said she acted at the request of her staff because of the cruel way the Trump administration was handling the family situation on our Southern border.
Such a refusal of service is wrong; and would never be upheld in court.
If a restaurant can refuse customers based on their politics, why not on their religion?  Or race?  Or sexual orientation? The owner said she consulted with her staff, many of whom are gay, and they all supported the refusal. If I were a LBGT(and sometimes Q) organization I would rally outside that restaurant to protest the denial, or have such groups forgotten what a short time ago it was that they were subject to the same discrimination.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Signs And Portents???

I am a sign follower. I believe in signs and I think most of us should follow what they say, especially when issued by some public authority.  (Even when fire trucks say “stay back 500 feet”) in letters that can’t be read beyond 15 feet, I follow that.)
But, when official signs aren’t correct, and no one in authority tries  to correct them, I demur...and I think this is especially bad because it leads other people to not follow them, and that breeds ignoring signs, which in turn could get us in trouble.
Case in point: construction signs (of which there are a great many these days around Lexington and Kentucky. It’s that season.) My kids drove me to Lou-ah-vul Saturday for Father’s Day. For 15 plus miles along I-64 near Shelbyville there were signs forcing drivers into one lane, there were two signs that said “Working when lights are flashing.” They were flashing. There was NO work for the entire stretch. A needless slowing down and unsafe funneling of heavy traffic into one lane.
Later that day when we came back, someone had realized the error, and had taken the simple act of turning off the flashing light signs and turning the rest over on their face.
This example happens all too often...needlessly. It’s so simple to turn signs over when the workday is done.
A major corruption trial was held in Lexington the last few days.  But neither the city’s leading tv station (WKYT) nor the city’s leading morning newspaper (!) covered it. The AP thought enough of it to send its state capital reporter to do so and when the verdict was in, the paper published the AP report; don’t know what 27 did.  Both were busy covering another major case, the murder of a local Marine. Can’t they cover 2 major trials at a time?  If the answer is “No”, readers and viewers are in for a bad time.
27 also didn’t cover the Poor People’s protest at the state Capitol the first time they were barred from entry; but has made up for this lapse in good coverage ever since. This story has legs (a journalism term meaning  a story of some substance and needs to be followed up.) The Guv apparently has realized this and held out an olive branch, but the group is, at last report, still being allowed in, just like the animals in the old nursery rhyme "two by two."  KSP says several of the group have messed up in the past and they were worried the entire group might do so. This is guilt by association, and has no place in our Commonwealth.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Comment: Foreign And Domestic

I blinked, was there a summit??? 
Well, we had been warned this one was unlike any other advance agreement on a closing statement, little prep time, two leaders who had never met each other, etc. (and $20M of Singapore’s cash for such short security.)  5 handshakes, one long lunch, much time lost in translation, 2 offers for a visit and more info in tweets than in the official document.
PBS’s summary: “lofty goals, with few details on how to reach them.”
That said, and I agree, it still was needed, for it gave the world new hope for peace (always remembering what a short time ago it was that the world was braced for missiles and war.)
Peace was the winner, and that is truly important. Human rights was the loser.  (North Korea’s record is one of the worst) and that is truly tragic.
(BTW, one Lexington TV station, six hours after the summit ended, was running headlines calling attention to the meeting about to be held, at the bottom of the screen during its newscast.)
Turning to domestic items:  American Democracy suffered setbacks.  The Supreme Court, 5-4, said Ohio, which has the strictest voter purging laws in the nation, could throw people off the rolls if they failed to vote for 6 years, and failed to respond to a letter.  “Not our place to set these laws for local races” the court indicated  in leaving this matter up to the states.
(I wonder how much Ohio has spent on purging voters, and bringing the case to the courts..and how much good might have been done trying to find ways to up voter turnout?)
Meanwhile, Indiana, also next door, took the opposite tack. A federal judge there blocked the state from purging voters because they might also be voting in another state!  (This makes no sense to me. Ohio’s might well be too strict, but voting twice is a crime—except of course in some parts of Kentucky and my home state of West Virginia.)
The Ohio decision may make the Indiana ruling "moot," but what we need to be doing, with great urgency, is to find ways to get many more people to vote, legally.
That serious challenge needs to be taken up by the next Kentucky General Assembly.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pastor Paul & Senator Mitch (and other news notes)

Pastor Paul Prather in Sunday’s Herald Leader called the NFL’s ruling against players’ kneeling during the national anthem “unpatriotic.” And so it is. As Prather writes the players have said many times they are not disrespecting the flag or anthem, but rather calling attention to systemic racism in America and especially police violence against black people. (And so that is, too.)
I don’t know what Sen. Mitch McConnell thinks about all this, but have we forgotten when, many years ago, he upheld the burning of the flag as a legit means of dissent? Didn’t like it he said; he would never do was a legal form of protest.
Burning our flag seems a much worse matter, to me, than kneeling for our (largely unsingable) national anthem.
Some people never learn Dept:   “Israel plans 2500 new West Bank settler homes”  (accompanied by more protests, more deaths, more bad feelings between the 2 peoples who MUST end up sharing their land.) This headline could just as easily read “Hamas calls upon its followers to sacrifice themselves needlessly at nearest border.”
Some people never learn Dept. Part 2: The Catholic archdiocese of St (!) Paul in Minneapolis will pay $210 million to settle over 400 cases of sexual abuse by priests. Second largest US verdict in these disgraceful cases.
US involved in a new war, once again no declaration as Constitution requires:
This time it’s Yemen, where US troops have suddenly shown up...and prompting the GOP-controlled House to call for a probe of reports that US servicemen or intelligence officials have tortured Yemeni detainees. (Well that was fast...took many months during the Iraq war.)  Last time the House got exercised was when it finally learned (thru news reports) US service people were in Niger---and 4 of them had been killed while on a “safe” mission.
And to be fair:
President Trump has signed into law a bill allowing terminally ill people to apply for (and maybe even get quicker) experimental drugs that might, might just save their lives. Congress took its good sweet time in finally doing this, it  was long overdue, but at least this bi-partisan, non-partisan idea passed. For signing it, also a good idea, Thank You, Mr. President.
Have a good Memorial Day?
36 people in Chicago didn’t; they were shot over that “holy-day”, 7 dying.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Your Banker Is Wrong

At least the Ky. Bankers Association had the good sense to wait until after the primary to endorse all the GOP members of our delegation in Washington. They made it clear in newspaper ads thanking all those who voted for Senate Bill 2155. (Democrat Yarmuth didn’t; he remembers a few things such as the S&L scandal, the Countrywide Mortgage scandal, the 2007-8 recession brought on by Wall Street.)
Now the ads proclaim "Ky’s community banks can finally get back to serving their local businesses and consumers with financial products tailored to local needs, especially as they relate to HOME MORTGAGES.”
Meadow Muffins!
Nothing in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street (& big bank) reform act of 2010—brought on by greed & fraud & criminal behavior by parts of the mortgage industry—prevented Ky. banks from making local, home mortgages. Zip. IF they wanted to.
But our banks wanted more. So they lobbied Congress to exempt “small” banks (with ONLY Fifty million in capitalization, etc.) from that bill, and also rolled back many of the minimal regulations it imposed.
So, sometime down the road we will have another financial industry scandal. Wells Fargo may just be a preview.
You will probably hear more on this during the 6th District campaign for Congress this fall. Listen and make up your own mind who is right here, because the lines are sharply drawn on this issue between Andy Barr and Amy McGrath.
Now then on another matter:
A Kentucky development this past week proved that "you can not be too conservative in our politics these days.”
Rep. Hal Rogers, a conservative 19 term Republican serving Eastern Ky. (and doing that well IMHO) drew the ire of the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers for voting for the $1.3 trillion budget bill. So they are going to run ads against him.  (Great idea as it just may make that part of Ky. “green” as Rogers wins his 20th term.)
But the moral is clear:  you just can’t be conservative enough..someone out there, beyond Ky. most likely, with zillions of money will mount a campaign against you these days.
I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Primary Shocker

I’ve covered Kentucky elections for over 40 years and I can’t think of one that was a greater shocker than this week’s primary; on all levels and for all parties.
Let me take them one by one:
CONGRESS: Oh how I wish Jim Gray had run again for mayor, as I said before he announced he wouldn’t. Oh how I wish Amy McGrath had run for congress against another incumbent from her old home town.
Did the Emmons family of political consultants stub their toes badly with their last minute TV ad questioning Mrs. McGrath’s lack of residence??? That will be debated for years, or at least until the next race (I think Yes)
Did I hear Andy Barr say he was “eager for debates?”  That will be a change. I felt his lack of debating in two races was enough to cost him his job—as it did Ben Chandler once upon a time. We will see if he finally follows through.
STATE HOUSE:  The Jonathan Shell loss to a first time candidate is the shocker-in-chief. His opponent, a teacher, is NOT a KEA member, and may even be more conservative than Shell. No matter. As House majority leader, and rising GOP star, this is a real blow to GOP control of each chamber, no matter what happens in November. And while it does show the current political muscle of teachers, the real question is: how long can they flex that muscle? Stay tuned.
MAYOR:  The real winner here was the Lexington Herald-Leader, which endorsed the 2 winning candidates out of a much larger field. Seeing that the losers included a former mayor and a veteran councilman (who had the best and earliest TV ads) that’s a bit surprising (and probably puzzling to political scientists and reporters such as myself.  Kevin Stinnett's ads were the ONLY ones that really spelled out a platform; these are the issues, here is what I would do.) The others were: I’m experienced, trust me. While Linda Gorton and Ronnie Bastin have experience, both have been out of the public eye for some time.  I was surprised, but it will be a good race in the fall; and civil, and in the end voters will win.
(To my friends at the Herald-Leader, just remember all the past times when your recommendations weren’t followed by the voters.)
THE PARTIES: When are you going to either allow Kentucky to have open primaries (that is, allowing we who would prefer to register independent to vote in either party’s primary) or REQUIRE that candidates MUST show their party ID in their ads?? When Shell ran his TV ads without listing himself as a Republican he was in good company (most candidates of any party didn’t) and this is a FRAUD upon voters. How can these 2 major parties maintain that fiction if they won’t require party ID?
THE PRIMARY: I believe most years this is the more important race of the two. I also believe we should be allowed to vote in either party’s race regardless of how we are registered. I believe party ID should be required in campaign ads. I believe we should vote for as many people in the primary as go forward to November – if 2 go to the fall, we should be allowed to vote for 2 if the field be larger.   
A FINAL WORD: The Grand OLD Party should re-evaluate its positions on a number of issues; remembering that once upon a time, not so long ago, Kentucky had 70 years of one party rule (MUCH too long)—so consider some changes, or...   
And to the Democrats, temper your enthusiasm. It was a lousy turnout—23%. You & the GOP need to consider bi-partisan measures to get more voters to the polls. Finally, your party failed to put up candidates for CONGRESS in 3 of our 6 districts, that’s half, and may not in a fourth. Some statewide party, that.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In Re: Common Sense NJ & KY

Only took 9 years, speedy by US Supreme Court standards, but by a 6-3 vote the court has held that states, not the federal government, are entitled to make rules regarding sports betting.  The case was filed by New Jersey.
Savor that BBN.
Savor that you state government officials eager for new revenues.
Savor that you anti-gambling people because you have every right to insist that some of these new monies be used to treat those afflicted with gambling; if states are smart enough and not too greedy.
Yes, there are arguments against, including the one just cited, and others that it will ruin those “amateur” sports. (Here in BBN we laugh. Remember those years we had the “best team money could buy.” Or the $$$ that fell out of the FedEx package, or the point shaving scandal, or the shoe scandal we haven’t heard the end of yet, or the “Breaking Cardinal Rules” book...or...Or...OR!)
When the recent legislature passed new taxes on services, there were the usual, considered arguments against, especially in areas that border other states. Would the new 6% tax on small animal vet care, for example,  cause people to go across state lines to get help for Fido and avoid paying a higher price?
These are legit concerns, but each time raised I wonder why we keep swallowing that gnat, while avoiding the camel? The money Kentucky loses to almost all the states around us, currently going to their casinos, betting parlors (and soon their sports betting emporiums) makes the 6% services tax a dwarf problem; and it will happen.
Gov. Bevin was one of 3 governors who signed the legal brief in this case. Bully for him! And bully for Kentucky IF we seize this opportunity, PLAN for its introduction properly, making sure those who shouldn’t gamble are taken care of (and their kids!) we can start meeting some of the social needs (and pension reforms) we have needed to do for some time.
Let the debate---and planning begin---ask your candidate for the legislature where they stand NOW.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 7, 2018

One Step Forward, But Two Steps Back

Bless His Heart, our guv vetoes some things he  needed too, and didn’t others..for which Thanks. Because the GOP controlled legislature couldn’t get its act together (as many Dem controlled legislatures before them) the guv was able to veto some things that can not be overridden.  He could have been a “dog in the manger” and vetoed the necessary “clean up language” for the important budget and pension bills..where his early vetoes were overridden, but he did not. (This is another lesson for both parties..don’t wait til the last minute to put hundred page bills before each chamber when no one can read them and catch mistakes.)

Our governor did veto the “incumbent protection bill” which would have moved the filing date from late January to early January. But don’t hold your breath. Now the legislature will just past this lousy idea early enough next year to allow for an overide..unless you voters complain to all the candidates during this year’s elections.

The Courier-Journal also reported recently on the latest on the guv’ new home near Anchorage. He claimed it was worth $1.6M when he apparently bought it from a friend who does business with the state..and made that price stick. That was last year; this year the PVA has valued the house&grounds at $2.9M, up a “mere” $1.6M.  Stay tuned, you haven’t heard the last of this cozy deal yet.

(Since Lexington media have not covered this new wrinkle well..check out the CJ story “Bevin’s home worth $2.9M” on 4/28.)

Another major story not covered well by local media, if at all, was the Peabody award (broadcasting’s highest) to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Louisville Public Media for their 5-part series on church leader (?) and state lawmaker Dan Johnson---who had lived a life of fraud and deceit—and who committed suicide shortly after the series started.  That was a sad ending, but the two groups stressed the necessity of holding elected officials accountable with the facts.

(You can also check the CJ’s story “Peabody Award honors local public media series” on May 1)

Investigatory journalism is one of the prices the media pays for protections of the First Amendment. All too few of our present day media seem willing to pay this price. WKYT (NB-my old station) is the only tv here doing it; The Herald-Leader does so occasionally, but not as much as in the past..and the Kentucky Kernel as well. But here student newspapers are facing serious odds to continue, often because of financial pressures brought on by public budgetary problems. I don’t believe the UK administration, or most state legislators would lose any sleep if the Kernel, and other student papers, just disappeared...and that would be a real pity. They are the training grounds for future mainstream they were for Kuralt, Murrow, and so many others.

You may also have notice, despite lousy local coverage, ISIS bombs in Afghanistan killed 9 journalists recently. It is not a field for the faint of heart.

We certainly make our share of mistakes. The annual White House Correspondents Dinner was one of them. I was glad to see the first woman of color named to be the head “roaster” altho I had not heard of Michelle Wolf before. Now I don’t care if I hear of her again. Even with the President a no show, it’s just not necessary to trot out frequent use of the “F” word. Your points and your humor don’t need that. I would not urge the WHCD to even consider censoring its guest roaster, but maybe a little more research would be appropriate in future years.

I'm just sayin'...