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'...