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 summit...no 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 it...BUT..it 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'...