Monday, August 19, 2019

May I Point Out

In every community where mass shootings have taken place, certain things are common. One is the belief "that such a thing would never happen here. We're just not that type of place."  Reporters hear it over and over, even as the lists mount up of all those places "where such a thing could never happen."

Perhaps the final proof came recently at that Garlic festival in Gilroy, California. Here the mass shooter drove 600 miles from his home to that little festival town to work his evil. No strong bonds or reason why he drove there have surfaced, so we are left with the inescapable conclusion these evil doers don't care what place they pick, so long as they think they will be able to kill, kill, kill.

Let that sink in. No place is immune. Not even Lexington.  So, before the next place where the mayor or police chief will tell a reporter, "we never thought it could happen here," let's get the President and the NRA on board, and get some practical gun controls enacted. The NRA says its doesn't want guns in the hands of people with mental problems, but it also opposes expanded background checks, and some "red flag" laws. This does not compute. To keep guns from people with mental problems, some type of background checks are needed. Let's hope the President, and those polls showing 80% of all Americans supported expanded gun controls, may finally convince Congress to do its duty. And soon.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is under pressure to call the Senate back sooner than the planned schedule for home town electioneering, but has said he won't. If the guns of Gilroy, and Dayton, and El Paso aren't enough, how about: US-Iran relations, with the potential  for war, or those new N. Korean missiles, or serious troubles in Hong Kong which could bring in Chinese troops, or worse, the deteriorating relations over Kashmir by India and Pakistan, BOTH nations with nuclear weapons, far more serious than either Iran and North Korea. Or, more directly here at home, Wall Street laying an egg.

But members want to seek votes, and that seems more important than say, war. Shows you where their priorities are. Perhaps, as I have long supported, if House members had 4 years terms, half elected every two years, we might be able to keep Congress in session longer, instead of taking SEVEN weeks off when all those serious problems listed above are festering.

Perhaps, if members of Congress had up close and personal experience  with a mass shooter in their home, they would be more understanding of why the rest of us want something done.   But, of course, they have---they've just forgotten.  65 years ago this year, four "nationalists" entered the House visitors gallery and after a few minutes, brought hidden semi-automatic weapons from under their clothes and fired all their bullets into the House chamber below. 5 Congressmen were injured, only one seriously. All recovered. All the nationalists were grabbed since they were out of bullets, tried, convicted, and given long prison terms. What saved Congress was those semi-automatic weapons were pistols with limited magazines. Can you imagine what would have happened had they used high capacity magazines, as was done in ElPaso, Dayton, Las Vegas etcetcetc? (BTW, those "nationalists" were Puerto Rican "nationalists" seeking total independence of that island from the US. Their movement still exists but has few followers there.)
 
Congress reacted, by essentially tightening security in its chambers, hiring more cops, but doing little about the gun problems.  It's time for a change, before history tragically is relived even in a "place where nothing like this could happen."

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 5, 2019

Emerson Was Right

"An institution is but the lengthened shadow of one man."

The American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote that almost 200 years ago, and he was right then, and now, when we apply it to O. Leonard Press or as most people knew him - Len Press, founder of KET, who died last week at 97.

It was his vision, his energy, and his wife Lil, that together created, championed, and stamped the role that KET plays in the lives of many Kentuckians. This state would be so much poorer without KET, not just for its basic work providing educational classes for schools at all levels, but for its rebroadcast of PBS programming, as well as its own news and public affairs efforts headed by its legislative coverage, programs such as Comment on Kentucky, Kentucky Tonight, and special events such as the past weekend's live coverage of Fancy Farm.

Len wrote a book about how KET came to be, and as usual, paid tribute to many others who helped him in major ways along that journey; all true, (none more so than his wife, Lil, whose own vision sparked the Governors' Scholarship program,) but it was Len whose ideas and dogged determination made it all come together and work.

He told about this in his book "The KET Story." Read it if you want to know more, and know that the KET story is an unfinished one. As education evolves, as TV programming changes, as American society goes through many changes, KET is the institution that lets the rest of us keep up with change, and make decisions on what's best for our futures.

Len Press gave us that institution--and that chance to make wise decisions. He didn't agree with all the changes that KET has made since he left as the head man; to him the "E" in KET was the important dimension, but his legacy is we have great help in our own education, and our own ---and Kentucky's future.

What a "shadow" he has left behind.  Hopefully we will be smart enough to support it and keep it going for many tomorrows.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 29, 2019

Frustration: Or How Not To Get In Touch With Your Elected Official

Back in the day, it used to be so easy; you called your US official, a bright young staffer came on the line, you made your request, and you usually got an answer--and quickly.
Not so in these days of so MANY communication devices.

Let me explain:

Last week the US Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report on Russian interference in our 2016 elections, including reports on such interference in EVERY state, including Kentucky. I have written frequently about the need for better election security in Kentucky, so here was, hopefully, some facts on the matter I could cite in a blog urging local and state representatives to get on the ball.

So I decided to get a copy of the report:

First stop, my phone directory, to look up the district office number for Senator Paul. Putting on my reading glasses, because the type is small, I finally located his office number and called it.  That number no longer works, because Paul has given up his office in Lexington. (Thanks, Senator) So I called his Washington main office. Got a recorded voice asking me to leave a recording and they would get back to me. I needed to have a more definite report, because my blog deadline was already overdue, so I declined. 

Then I called his one state office in Bowling Green, where a sweet young thing said they couldn't tell me whether they could get me a copy or not, but if I called their field representative in LEXINGTON, she might be able to help. Got her number (somewhat incorrect) and after 2 attempts  on a very bad phone line left a message; and am awaiting a reply.

But, deadlines loom, so I tried calling the LEXINGTON office of Sen. McConnell. Got an instant recording saying if I heard that everyone was busy talking to someone else, so please leave a message. Now I remembered all those stories about how tough it is to reach the Senator; hadn't realized it also applied to his local office as well. (Not to be negative, but does anyone get through on their first try?) I declined to leave a recording.


Now, I went back to the current phone directory to look up the office of Congressman Andy Barr. Most helpful, they had a listing for our local congressman; but his name was Ben Chandler. (Lost to Barr six years ago, still UNcorrected) No number also.

Now, off to the internet, googling Barr. Not much more helpful, a lot of listing for him, but NOT his local offices, so I went to his DC listing, and there was the Lexington listing as well. Called the local number. Very helpful young man answered, for the first time, actually took down my request for a copy of the Senate report and asked me to hold while he checked. A minute or so later he came back on..sorry to tell me  they could NOT help me get a copy of any Senate report, apparently only House reports. I thanked him for his efforts.

I can tell you from many years of political reporting this type of runaround would not have happened "back in the day." What's going on here with requests from constituents?
As of now I have resolved not to call the offices of that Senate committee in DC or the GPO (Govt. Printing Office) to get this report. Maybe the lady field representative of Paul's will come through in time.

But I still don't have a topic for this week's blog.
 
Or, do I???

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Special Session, Special Counsel, Special Numbers

Gov. Bevin is right to lay the stress he has on fixing our incredible pension crisis, although perhaps not to the exclusion of some lesser state problems; and of course reasonable people can argue over the best ways out. The crisis, decades in the making by lack of attention by many governors and the legislature, will not be solved overnight. His basic reforms, passed at the regular session show that. As they wend their way thru a major court test, he had to call a special session to correct some of the problems of the first bill...that's  now done..probably to face another court test filed by his fall opponent, Attorney-General Andy Beshear. We can only hope the courts will decide by the time of the November election, so voters may have the chance to make comparisons, or surely by the time of the regular session in January when other changes will most likely have to be made, and we may know if the corrections made in this week's special session are, in fact, corrections. Stay tuned, it's a complicated mess, but one that must be faced.


Special Counsel Robert Mueller tried to stress several things at his marathon testimonies this week. Let's hope at least one penetrated the skulls of legislators--and citizens: The Russians DID try to influence our 2016 presidential elections, and are at it AGAIN. And they are being joined, he feels, by China and Iran, maybe more. America is also NOT ready to meet those election challenges, either nationally or locally. Congress MUST face up to this but it is also a challenge that needs to be met in Lexington and Frankfort. Example: Lexington's election machines do NOT have a paper record and are thus subject to tampering that may not be discernible. And for all the political arguments over Sec. of State Grimes' powers, our state election process is not secure either. The next legislative session is probably our last chance to get our voting house in order and secure, if it isn't already too late. We need to thank Counsel Mueller for this crucial reminder.


Ever since Dr. David Roselle, an eminent mathematician, left the UK presidency, our flagship institution has suffered from some "number" problems. For the second time, UK has admitted many more students than it has rooms; despite years of cookie-cutter construction of such rooms through contracts with private builders, not itself. Can't UK count? Apparently not--and parents and citizens paying for UK need to know more about why not.  Meanwhile it has been reported that Dr. Eli Capilouto, our current UK president, is the 4th highest paid college head for public universities, over a million dollars a year in pay, benefits, etc. He's a good man, is doing well basically, but somehow this just doesn't seem right. We are not North Carolina, or Texas, or Michigan, or California and our financial resources are much more strained. Between "lifetime" contracts for a coach and this report, our priorities seem to be out of whack. Next thing you know, UK supporters will be yelling "We're number one!"

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Kentucky Politics: Rumors And Reports

For some time there have been rumors that Democrat Amy McGrath, the ex-Marine jet pilot who ran a good but losing race against Congressman Andy Barr, would announce her candidacy for the US Senate seat now held by Mitch McConnell. Then came reports, from a New York talk show not a Kentucky news source, that someone named Amy McGrath was doing just that. Only it couldn't have been the old Amy McGrath.

This new Democratic candidate, unlike the first who had proclaimed her progressive beliefs, endorsed some of the Trump policies. Arrgh! And to make matters worse, this new McGrath said if she had been in Mitch's seat she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court. Well, the national sisterhood jumped all over her on that, along with about everyone else--including the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer (who supposedly had urged the old McGrath to run,) and soon whoever this new McGrath was took it all back. Double arrgh!

So now who is this person? And who else, real or otherwise, might seek to oppose Mitch, who definitely needs opposing, even in his own party--an unlikely event.
Let us wait and see while other Dems consider jumping into what all know would be a very tough, uphill race. The state's lone Democrat in Congress, John Yarmuth of Louisville, would be a good one. A certain lawyer, masquerading as a sports figure, might be another, as would House minority leader Rocky Adkins, though he doesn't seem so inclined.

But meanwhile we have to consider what Dems do with a candidate who won many's affections by her straight talk running for Congress, and who now seems willing to throw all that political gold away trying to be all things to all people just to win.
Don't know who this new Amy McGrath really is, but her party, and Kentucky, could use the old---and real---one back.


I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 1, 2019

I Smell A Rat, A Judicial Rat

And at the Supreme Court, too.

Its decision last week NOT to make a decision in 2 cases (more later) of obvious partisan gerrymandering (drawing election district lines to favor your party alone, screwing the other party and all voters) smells to high heaven of the worse kind of decision making by the high court (as bad as the decision on Florida voting ---more later--that may have cost Al Gore the presidency.)

The Chief Justice asked a legitimate question; how much partisan gerrymandering is OK? Where can the lines be drawn? And then totally surrendered his job of deciding such questions and gave up but, of course, by a 5-4 vote including the 2 new conservative judges. The court is there to make such decisions, tough or not. It has done so many times before. In the famous Florida vote case it was ultimately ruling on those famous "hanging chads," remember? Was this a Gore vote or a Bush vote? Hold the chad up to the light and try to ascertain the voter's intention. It did just that in its decision. Only the most important and powerful job in the world was at stake, yet somehow, it was able to make a decision.

But not in the current gerrymandering cases. I smell a rat.  The court had before it cases from 2 states, one where the GOP dominated state legislature had redrawn previous election district lines to favor them, and a second case where a Democrat controlled state legislature had done the same thing. What a great opportunity to reaffirm an old American tradition of one person, one vote, and say: a pox on both your houses! This is wrong no matter who does it, and when.

But this Golden Opportunity was too much for the Republican dominated Supreme Court to pass up. Indeed, I strongly suspect it waited for two cases from two states, each controlled by one party, to opt out and say  "it's too tough for us to decide." Judges  have been deciding tough cases ever since King Solomon and the 2 mothers who each wanted the same baby. But this time, with 2 cases where the gerrymandering was so apparent (and so partisan) the court gave up.

Could it be because the court knows the GOP controls many more state legislatures right now than Democrats? And with a new census but a few years away, NOT deciding gives the GOP even more of a chance to draw lines to favor it, on the state level and on the federal level (read, more gridlock in Washington.)

But the court can say, well, we had 2 cases, one from each party, that were blatantly corrupt, but we just couldn't decide where to draw the line without jepordizing FUTURE  cases that MIGHT come before us.  Meadow Muffins!

Is there any way we can garnish their salaries for failure to do the job to which they were NOT elected?


I'm just sayin'...


Monday, June 24, 2019

Congress, Again And Again

Remember a few weeks ago, a spate of stories about how Congress had bills before it to act on all those anoying robo-calls many of us get? I thought about a blog topic then along the lines of "what took you so long?" How many YEARS has this problem existed and it's only now that our Congress gets around to it?  BTW, nothing definite yet--from the body that is supposed to represent us.

Jon Stewart was right, also, to call Congress out for not acting on aid for the First Responders who have suffered grievious medical problems from their work in lower Manhattan during 9/11. He complained, rightly, their benefits were expiring soon and Congress had no timetable to taking up extending them. Our Mitch smugly replied that Congress often acts at the last minute-but it would take action here. Meanwhile, a few more 9/11 victims have died, and their families are up in the air in many cases because "congress often acts at the last minute." This important matter has been called to its attention and for the senate leader and others, to take more time than is needed, is inefficient, impractical, inhumane and ought to be remember when next he--and several others-run for office.


But Stewart also missed a major point, one that rankles me a lot, and shows another side. Congress acted VERY swiftly after 9/11 to pass a bill EXEMPTING those airlines who carried the terrorists from being sued by the families of the dead passengers. Congress can act quickly when it wants to and it wanted to let American, United, et al off the hook, and also not let defense lawyers circling to sue from getting their cases heard. Forget the facts that the TSA/FAA and airlines were monumentally negligent here; as news story after story, and actually tapes of the terrorists getting thru screenings proved beyond doubt--oh, and overlook the airline industries political contributions as well. These sad parts of the "First Responders' "  is still with us, and will be for some  time I suspect.


Congress is a century late, some tell us, facing another issue: "reparations for slavery." This may become a hot button issue in the campaign, but it shouldn't. There are just too many unknowns and intangibles here, such as who today should get reparations for all those dead people we did greatly harm then?  Do we even know--for certain? It's a bad idea, and it's out of place. IF we wanted to pay such reparations today, let us begin with the people we really injured much earlier, even before the first slave arrived in Virginia. I'm talking about the American Indians, or Native Americans if you prefer (I don't) or better, what Canada calls the "First Nation." If we are going to do reparations, we need to start there, and work our way up to a more present time.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thanks NA$A, Thanks for Nothing

NA$A, our national space agency, announced recently it would partner with private firms to send civilians to visit, and stay, at the International Space Station, in orbit around the world.  The cost wouldn't be cheap, possibly as much as $58 million for a month's stay.
 
This is all so much stellar crap.

Millions of us paid our taxes for decades to allow NA$A to build the space station, and now our public agency wants to limit those who go there just to millionaires?
I propose instead, Congress require NA$A to hold a lottery for seats and stays, free to the winners. Anyone who paid federal taxes during the decades of the 60s thru now, could have their names entered. (I would exclude the top executives of General Dynamic, Boeing, Thiokol, General Electric, Lockheed, and all the other major NA$A contractors who got Billions from us taxpayers for space projects, but whose corporations paid zip/zero/nada/nothing in federal income taxes during many of those years (a sad fact that continues to this day, thanks to Congress's indifference to these lobbying giants with deep pockets for political contributions.)


But Congress could restrict how NA$A handles the proposed space visits; and it should.

Now, that would be a lottery worth winning.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Local Media Thoughts

Lee Cruse screwed up. So did LEX 18. His first mistake was in not reading over his copy before reading it on air. His second was in not understanding the story he was reading. Which, BTW, concerned a British broadcaster who came up with a pix of Harry & Meghan and their new baby, an African chimp. Lee thought that was funny. His station, properly, didn't. When Cruse recognized his mistake he apologized, several times, as he should have. LEX took him off the air to consider what to do. Then they fired him. After 20 years of presumably good and loyal service, one mistake and you're out. That's a load of meadow muffins. Or, to use an old Brit expression, the punishment doesn't ft the crime. It was announced by the current GM, from the previous owners, but probably is the decision of the new owners, Scripps Howard. That bodes no good for their new tenure as owners of the #2 TV station in town.

Speaking of TV, two notes regarding our local Fox affiliate. Co-Anchor Erica Abe has left us. She will be missed. Besides doing a creditable job as anchor, she is off to Harvard to study for an MA in foreign relations. We wish her well; that fields needs all the educated people it can get--and we will miss her.  And you shouldn't miss the Fox 56 10 pm news on Wednesdays, for sure. Erica's longtime anchor, Marvin Bartlett remains, and on Wednesday nights treats us to his weekly feature "Spirit of the Blue Grass." It's the closest thing we have to a Kuralt-type feature report, and--week in and week out--is well worth your watching. Wish more local stations would do the same.
 
WKYT's Sam Dick did do an excellent in-depth report last week on "the Boys from Kentucky,"and how a school class was following them from childhood to their deaths in Normandy after D Day. The student scholars dug up things the GI's families didn't even know, all presented in an emotional and excellent report---which we also need more of locally.

Then there's our leading morning newspapers, the Herald-Leader.  Some days it's quite good. Some days it doesn't know what day it is. Such as last Saturday's paper which arrived on my doorstep listed as "Early Sunday Edition." I expected next day's paper to arrive as "Early Monday edition," but it didn't.  Thank Heavens. The H-L doesn't even put dates on its inside pages (which its staff as well as readers have complained to management about and have gotten no explanation for this more than aggravating omission.) If you feel, as I do, that this is silly as well as aggravating, please let them know.

And you might also let President Eli Capilouto know it's about time our flagship university stopped trying to keep its dirty linen (or what it thinks may be its dirty linen) from us. Recently UK lost another in a long line of Freedom of Information cases. It has won very few of these, while trying to keep from us vital (?) stats on sex assaults on campus, incompetent profs firing settlements, you know-little things like that. Hard to teach citizenship and leadership when you don't follow the law yourselves.


I'm just sayin'...


Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Tale Of Two Holidays

It's ironic..our two recent holidays.

OK, election day really isn't a "holiday"...yet, tho there are several proposals, in states and Congress, for making it one; in an attempt to encourage voting.  Sadly, too many people take a "holiday" from voting...but that ought to be considered along with other ideas to increase voting.
 
Australia voted recently, where voting is MANDATORY. It apparently works, and I would point out both Australia and the US have England and the British traditions in common.

The other holiday of course was Memorial Day, when we pay tribute to those who gave their lives that we can continue living in a free country, and so far that includes the freedom to ignore elections (and later complain about our public officials!)

Kentuckians turned out for the first holiday by 20%. We consider ourselves a patriotic people; don't we see the irony here?
 
Ironic...and pathetic.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Election Musings

OK, it's over, and no real surprise it will be Beshear vs Bevin this fall.
That despite a surprisingly strong challenge to the governor from Robert Goforth, and a similar one to the attorney general from Rocky Adkins. If Goforth pledged his support to Bevin, it was pretty lukewarm. Rocky made it clear that if asked, he will help and with his E. Kentucky base that could be important. So also may be the fact  that 395,000 voted in the Democratic primary, versus 259,000 in the GOP. (Statewide they are very close in registration figures.)


But, as veteran political reporter Al Cross pointed out on KET despite Bevin's very low popularity he has 3 major things going for him which could make him a potent candidate this fall: power of incumbency (true, but the last GOP incumbent, Ernie Fletcher, lost); a booming economy (even truer, remember that famous Democratic consultant's maxim.."it's the economy, stupid"), and Trump's popularity in Kentucky (also true, but the vultures are hovering over our Teflon-president and each week comes new anti-Trump revelations. How much popularity he still has in November is anybody's guess.  (And I remember as Watergate hovered over Nixon, who assured us he was not a crook, which he was, he was re-elected.)

As Cross also correctly observed, the major media, print and broadcast, did not spend as much time or talent covering this primary. What will they do this fall?
You could almost hear him saying, "Gosh I wish we had had some independent polls this Spring." Will the media author their own, again, this fall? IF so, will they be any better than in the past, where their track record is poor.Stay tuned.

And stay tuned to KET, which had far & away the most comprehensive coverage--carrying all but one major speech, victory or concession, live, and whose display of the returns was clearer and better than either 27's or 18's. Anchor Renee Shaw didn't mind letting viewers in on behind the scenes chitchat--talking on air to the control room, and telling viewers KET was staying on longer than had been scheduled, while the commercial stations went back to their entertainment schedule.

The only thing one can say that was good about the 19% voter turnout was that it was "better" than the 12.5% prediction. But 19% is shameful in our democracy, and the legislature needs to work on this. There have been a lot of suggestions (some good and some baddd; I plan a blog later on this) but  let's start with a law requiring primary candidates to state their party in all their ads! (Remember this is a PARTY primary, not a PEOPLES' election-that's in November.) To have a party election but not tell the public what party you are in is illogical, immoral and fattening, and should also be illegal. The vast majority of candidates in both major parties did NOT do so, which is truly ridiculous as ridiculous as our 19% turnout.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Theory & Practice

Our democracy says "no man is above the law."

In practice, it doesn't always seem to work out that way.
(Watch what happens to all in the college admissions scandal.)

Case in point: President Trump.

Since his inauguration I have counted at least a half dozen cases, little known laws, where he is, including declassifying security documents;  accepting certain gifts, etc--some things maybe small, some rather large and important.

Now comes the Mueller report.

It has become increasingly apparent that Mueller (and his team) really feel Mr. Trump DID obstruct justice---in the dozen or so verified instances they cite.  ( Over 500 current and former US prosecutors, of both parties, also think so, as they indicated in a letter to Congress.)  So why no recommendation to indict him?

Because of a long standing Justice Department policy (not a law, just a memo within the DOJ) that you can't indict a sitting president. This has never been taken to the courts to decide (as it properly should have been long before now.) Mr. Mueller has been portrayed as a strict believer in the rule of law. What a great opportunity to get a court decision on this VERY important point.

So, what is it:

A policy memo from some forgotten past DOJ lawyer

or

"No man is above the law."


I'm just sayin'...


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Your Freedom...And Mine!

This past May third was World Press Freedom Day, declared  by the UN to call attention to the importance of press freedom for all of us. You probably didn't hear about it in your local news media; I didn't. Local journalists tend to ignore these things, even a lot of First Amendment stories--too busy with pickpockets in Lancaster, or celebrity divorces (which is their perfect right to report while "free.")

Some people think the First Amendment is just for reporters.  No, we may exercise that part of the amendment more than others, but we do so for you. Not just journalists practice freedom of religion, assembly, petition, etc. also you do too.


They're still killing reporters everywhere, including a young lady journalist shot "by accident" in the latest outbreak of "The Troubles" in N. Ireland.
And in Myanmar (once Burma) 2 Reuters reports were released after 7 years in jail. They were charged with possessing government documents after two policemen invited them to lunch, passed them a sealed document, and before they could even open it, were arrested. 
It sure sounds like a set-up to me, especially after the pair had been reporting on Burma's own Holocaust against a Muslim sect for which they won a Pulitzer prize. So far as I know, the police pair were never charged.

We journalists have had our share of real characters in our business. I was mentored by one of them, hired a few of them, and got to know a great Kentucky journalist through his writings. Celebrate press freedom this week by reading an account of his recent death; it's in the Wednesday, May 8th edition of the  Louisville Courier Journal, and it's a wonderful read--reminding all of us of our goal of "comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable" (rather than coming up with some new business plan for these trying days.)  Google: "Filiatreau, a former Courier Journal writer and editor, dies"


And please feel free to pass it on to friends and anyone who might enjoy it as a reminder of the importance of journalism these days---and always.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Politics And Wars

In over 40 years of covering politics, only once have I been present when someone announced they would run for President.

It was after midnight, in a small meeting room, at the end of the GOP national convention years ago. I was News Director for a small TV station in Fort Wayne, but our progressive company (owned as it happened by "Jock" Whitney, a prominent Republican, and brother-in-law of the president of CBS) sent a news team to both parties' national convention.  Our job was not to cover the race for President---we left that to CBS---but how our local delegates were taking it all in.

As it happened the best known member of our delegation was the mayor of Indianapolis, Richard Lugar---also known as "Nixon's favorite mayor."  Lugar had made a name for himself running Indianapolis well, and for his progressive views. He had been mentioned as a possible veep running mate, but that didn't happen. With Nixon safely nominated, the weary delegates---and reporters--were back at the delegation hotel ready for bed or booze, when word spread Lugar was holding an unusual midnight news conference in a hotel meeting room. My photographer and I raced there, and set up for whatever was to happen. Lugar came in, went to the podium and to our amazement told us that when Nixon's term was over, it was his intention to run for President. Til then he would continue  as Mayor, but start building a national base for his expected run. He just wanted his fellow  Hoosiers to know what his plans were. 


That was my introduction to Richard Lugar, who did run for President later, and got nowhere. Then he ran for the US Senate, won, and began a 36 year term, becoming one of its ablest members, an acknowledged expert on foreign affairs (this from a sometime isolationist state,) who didn't hesitate to "reach across the aisle" to another able Hoosier expert on foreign affairs, Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, and later Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. Together they crafted some of the best, bi-partisan foreign policy laws in recent history. (The Nunn-Lugar approach to trying to find and control rogue atomic weapons is still basic US policy, if not exactly front burner in the current GOP administration.)

After 6 terms, Sen. Lugar lost, surprisingly in a primary battle to a Tea Party Republican who in turn lost to a moderate Democrat.  Senator Lugar died last week, honored by those who knew him from both parties and who honored his work for his country, above his party. He was one of the finest statesmen I have known and covered, a younger man in the mold of John Sherman Cooper.

We, (and by we I mean) America needs more public officials such as Richard Lugar, who worked to keep America out of wars, we seem to so casually enter today, all then while ignoring the Constitution.   



And speaking of war, and its often hidden costs, many which only pop up years late:.
A UN report has already told us we (US and allies) killed more civilians in the last few years of fighting in Afghanistan than enemy combatants, and the same holds true of our proxy allies in Yemen--more innocents, especially children, have died in "coalition" bombing than fighters. (Pres. Trump just vetoed a bill to get us out of Yemen, one of the very few times recently Congress has stood up to the President--and for the Constitution---a veto which will probably hold, unfortunately.)

And, remember Raqqa--the Northern Syria town that was IS headquarters? An independent study reports more than 1600 civilians were killed in the US-led coalition's months of bombing that finally "liberated" that city.


As to other, often hidden costs, one more good Kentucky boy is home, finally identified following his death at Pearl Harbor, and on the West Coast, a much younger veteran, suffering from what we once called "shell shock" drove his car into a group of people waiting at a bus stop, under the delusion they were IS-type supporters from his not-so-long-ago combat.


Dick Lugar probably wouldn't have had any answers for that one, but I know he would have tried.


I'm just sayin'...




Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Surprise!

I am very surprised that the election this spring has been so quiet. Not at all typical for Kentucky. Is this the lull before the storm? Before a slew of negative ads choke the airways?


I hope not. Adam Edelen's ads, so far, have been refreshing and interesting. But the lack of outside polling makes political reporters think he is running 2nd to A/G Andy Beshear and might "go negative" in an attempt to catch up.


Again, I hope not. Doing that, IMHO, would destroy some of the (almost) outsider nature of his candidacy.


Rocky Adkins is probably the most qualified of the 3 major guv candidates for Dems..due to his long legislative tenure. But he is mired in the belief he is a "regional" candidate..from East Ky.



Beshear has his name, his dad, His family, and his time as A/G. Much of that time, when he sued Bevin, he won; and that includes some major Bevin policies being overturned. He still labors under a feeling that many of his suits are for political purposes and not out of fundamental beliefs, no matter what he says in his ads. I still regret, for example, he did not join other A/G's in suing the inventor of 3D printing of guns, which he could have, and didn't, and there are more of these types of suits he might have filed, but didn't.


Will Bevin survive Robert Goforth Ike Lawrence and William Woods? Probably. And that will set the stage for a very interesting fall election. As of now, Bevin is, unlike most incumbent guvs, not a shoo-in to win. Too much alienation of teachers, even members of his own party, etc. to assume that.


There should be some good debates coming up on KET especially. Depending on how the candidates do, especially the 3 top Dems, could well determine their primary winner.  Debates can be important.


AND ONE LAST THOUGHT:  The Constitution says a president may be impeached only for treason, bribery, high crimes or misdemeanors.  As of last September, the fact checkers at the Washington Post determined Mr. Trump had lied to the American people 5000 times. (I don't know what the total is now.) Lying may not be a "high crime"...but surely it is a "misdemeanor."

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

More News Notes

CBS's UNMASTERFUL COVERAGE:

By mid afternoon Sunday we knew Tiger had won, but CBS didn't end coverage (which had started early due to impending severe storms, wiping out the best news magazine show on the air, Sunday Morning) it kept on repeating, repeating, and still repeating what had happened right up to 7pm, the original time it was supposed to end. To say this was overkill, even for the "historic" nature of Tiger's victory, is to put it mildly.


I hope local stations throughout the South, where storms and tornadoes killed at least 8 people, cut away and ran local news and weather coverage. Probably not, unfortunately, and yup, P.O'ed golf fans in Atlanta, sent death threats (death threats!!!) to the affiliate that did cut away to let viewers know of tornadoes in the area.    It's just too easy today to use social media to send such crap; I hope local police are after these thugs.


CRAPPY NEW POLITICS:

At least twice recently, national media have announced that Joe Zilch, a largely unheard of local official, had said he was running for President. Then, 2 weeks later, he announces his "formal" bid for President. Oh, No Buster! You used to get only one go round here; a one time announcement to seek the White house should be it. I am appalled at the Main Stream Media / AKA MSM doing this.


Years ago, when I was news director of a top radio station in South Carolina, it was customary you got ONE such announcement. I remember the mayor of a major town calling our station for a phone interview in which he said he would make his official announcement of running for the US Senate  the following week. Oh No, we told him, this is it; and it was. The wire services picked up the phone announcement, and that, as I remember it, was it.


It should be that way now. Besides, we have way too many people who think they are qualified to be President (probably because Trump has shown us that any egotistical, unqualified person can have such a dream.)  Hopefully the MSM will think better of its current policy of letting candidates call the shots and apply a little political birth control.


LAST WEEK:

I wrote of the silliness potentially fatal silliness of parents and others who refuse to be vaccinated, or let their kids be vaccinated, on supposedly "religious" grounds.  To wit this AP story and its headline in the Courier-Journal: "Madagascar's measles kill 1200."  It could happen here; remember WWI's "Spanish Flu"? It killed tens of thousands in the US, far more than died in combat.


SPEAKING OF HEADLINES:

A sad one recently from South Carolina, where I spent 3 happy years covering politics almost the "damndest" as here in KY. Long time US Senator, and former governor, "Fritz" Hollings died. He was colorful, "good copy" able, intelligent, but a true son of the South who was able to grow with the times, to learn and practice new things, who moved away from segregation and bettered his state---and country--for it. He ran for president once too.  By experience he was more qualified than many of his opponents, but he had no chance in those days. He taught me a lot about politics. I considered him a friend and I will miss him.  With more like Fritz, South Carolina, the South---and America--would be better off.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Your Freedom...To Kill Others!

Which is exactly what those who refuse to get vaccinated are claiming---the freedom to kill others.


Coating it in the argument of "religious beliefs" doesn't hold water. I know a church denomination which once held, as a tenet of its faith, the right to enslave people of a different color. (Was that really so long ago?) Religion has its limits.



Today, claiming "faith" as a reason to be UNreasonable may be fashionable in some areas, even sincerely believed (and often on sincerely false evidence.) Did you see the news story recently that over half of the vaccination posts on Facebook were wrong?  (Just one more argument I have to urge my friends to give up Facebook.)


It is not a coincidence that areas of the US where anti-vaccination beliefs were strongest are those areas which have seen a resurgence of measles; a malady once extinct in the US (though still a major health problem in other parts of the world.)  If I lived next to a family whose kids were not vaccinated I would tell health & school officials about them, and I would confront them as a parent, and tell them if my kids come down with what yours get, be prepared to be hauled into court.


When I was growing up, measles  was a really scary thing, especially for boys.  The word was then a bad case could make a young male impotent, forever.  Don't know if that is true today, but it was not a little worrisome then.


We have come so far in ending a disease that once killed  and maimed it would be a great shame to cause needless deaths; all in the name of  religion, which ought to be an enhancer of all our  lives.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Legislative Review

Midway through the now concluded session a  conservative Republican friend of mine commented her party seemed determined to do some baddd things.  First, sending lawsuits it thought it might lose off to “friendly” judges elsewhere in the state, then burying information on its actions by changing open records law so no one could find out, and taking other steps which just seemed untraditional in America and Kentucky.  "What are they afraid of?” she asked.
 
What indeed?
 
Fortunately both of the cited bills failed, but not through lack of trying. To me that also indicates a  lack of faith in voters, and a “robust discussion of public issues.”
 
Governor Bevin seemed to echo those legislative actions. When the ridiculous concealed carry law passed (over the strong objections of law enforcement groups,) and a citizen raised objections with him, he basically told her to "move to another state if you don’t like what we’re doing.”
 
Geez.  Would he tell that to the CEO of Braidy Industries or any other firm he seeks to bring here?  And by the way, the Braidy deal remains mired in trouble, and you and I have invested in it. Are we going to be on the hook for its failure, as we apparently are for the Kentucky Wired project---which no one in the legislature seems interested in getting to the bottom of its problems?
 
Meanwhile, good bills-as usual, failed. I am thinking of medical marijuana, or changing our outmoded wine purchase laws, two of my own interests I admit, along with cutting the ridiculously high salary of a Bevin friend as IT czar
 
Yet, having said all this, I think the legislature itself needs modernizing. It should (1) hold annual sessions of sixty days, (2) be able to call itself into special session when needed, (3) have more research and support for bill drafting by the LRC—among other things - along with more open committee sessions to block more “sewage” bills at the 11th hour.
 
If it comes to a choice between an executive turned dictator (often in secret,) or a legislature making bad choices (after open debate) I pick the latter; as much more in our historic tradition.
 
i'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Pardon Me, But...

While I wait for a lot more of the Mueller report to be released (and by the way I do realize that  grand jury testimony cannot be released by law,) let me jump ahead, and back a bit.
 
A big part of our government is based on 3 equal branches of it: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each has its role to play; has checks (in most cases) on the other-and these checks and balances have made our Democracy what it is.
 
The President’s “pardon power” in a dictatorial aberration and should be eliminated or greatly modified.
 
Example A:  as of now the judicial system can spend years and millions investigating a suspected criminal, getting an indictment, preparing for trial, and then in the blink of an eye, the president issues a pardon and all is forgiven, legally and for the record. That not only is not fair, it is an outright and total break of our system of 3 equal branches and checks and balances.
 
This can (and I suspect—has) happened.
 
Many presidents have been criticized for the way they used the pardon process. Clinton’s pardons, in some cases, didn’t pass the smell test. Prominent people (and party donors) got off.  Bush & Obama were also criticized for some of their pardons.  Many presidents have.
 
It’s long past time for a change, and all those lawyers in Congress know it. The president probably ought to have some power to pardon, but NOT until AFTER the judicial system has done its job; not til after someone has been convicted (and probably not til after the appeals process has concluded.) To let a president pardon sooner makes a mockery of our system of justice.
 
It isn’t what Trump might do, or what Clinton did. It’s the practice of democracy at stake, and to coin a phrase:
 
It’s time for a change.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, March 18, 2019

Abolish The FAA

This is not a new thought; I have stated my belief that this is the worst of all federal agencies (and that’s saying a lot) but the preliminary indications are that, once again, the FAA has failed in its mission to protect the flying public.
 
400 graves in Ethophia and Indonesia attest to that.
 
If those 2 Max 8 planes had been US carriers, and the deaths were that of Americans what do you think the public reaction would have been?
 
The FAA has consistently sided with plane makers over the public; often even siding with the Boeings and Uniteds against the National Transportation Safety Board, even when the agency had shown a clear failure of plane or pilot—and people died. NTSB findings go to the FAA, which—under the law—does not have to follow them or even study them. (That should have changed a long, long time ago; but hasn’t - a signal of the political and administrative power of carriers and manufacturers within the agency, instead of its mission to protect the public.)
 
It’s not news that the FAA turned over to Boeing the decision that its new automated safety system was, in fact, safe. It is the prime suspect in the 2 crashes. The FAA, as usual, pleads lack of staff or labs to investigate all these things  (true, and Congress shares much blame here,) but if they don’t, why approve such crucial items as new planes come on line?
 
As they say, the “culture” of this agency is bad, wrong, and I suspect beyond redemption. It should go; let some new agency take over, and give more power to the NTSB in this field.
 
#####################
 
A political thought, or two.
 
Ever heard of “FDR’s Court packing plan?” Google it.  Isn’t Trump's “packing” the court with litmus test conservatives about the same? Yet FDR’s plan failed; looks like the President’s may succeed, and all without comment (or even stories of explanation) from the “liberal” media.
 
There are too many Democratic candidates running for president (many of whom are, IMHO, unqualified.) There are too few Republican candidates running for President.  A spirited party primary is good for Democracy.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Thoughts On Recent News Items

Another Kentucky soldier, killed in war has come home to be honored—and placed at rest. This time, he died at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7th, 1941.
Modern science finally identified him---68 years later. Wars have a way of doing that. Bet I could ask a lot of people on the streets of Lexington when the bombing of Pearl Harbor took place and few would know. We hurry into war, often on bad or even spurious reasons. Seldom do we later repent, except briefly when a good Kentucky boy finally comes home.
(Will we lose more in Niger, Yemen, Syria, Somalia—and places Congress still has not declared us at war—and have their bodies finally come back years from now? Only time will tell.)
And speaking of time. It’s now Daylight Saving TIme. It comes too soon and lasts too long. The European Union just decided to end moving clocks forward and back each year. They haven’t decided which time will be “it” year ‘round, but a timely change is on the way. Maybe we should reconsider it also.
We lost two outstanding Kentuckians recently.       
   
I knew them both, slightly and more professionally than personally.  Ewell Balltrip was what every small town editor should be—devoted to his community, both small (Harlan) and large (the mountains.) He stuck up for both, but when he felt coal miners were wrong, he said so, and  made it stick. The New York Times recognized his talent and put him to work in their organization for many years, but he came home to the hills, ending his life with even more service to Eastern Kentucky. Later this month he will be inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Too bad it took so long for him to be so honored.
James Archambeault has left his mark in many a Commonwealth home and school and office. His pictures, colorful and outstanding of many places in our state grace them, as he graced us with his talent. A fixture at the annual Kentucky Book Fair, I always went to his table to see what new book or calendar he had out. His work has brightened our lives and we will miss him. (Is there a professional Photographers’ Hall of Fame?)
Did you catch WKYT’s recent hour program on the Wildcats? Excellent; congrats to all involved, and please don’t think this is just carping, but why is it we often get such good programs on sports events and people, but not on the issues facing our state? Yes, they are costly and undoubtedly easier for stations to sell to sponsors, but there are public spirited sponsors out there (Toyota, Alltech to mention a few.) So why haven’t we had similar documentaries on: our pension debacle (PBS Frontline thought enough of this to spent most of an hour here, and the Herald Leader’s John Cheeves was one of their “experts.” Can’t he also be the same thing for 27 or 18 or 36 or KET?) Or on serious problems facing rural hospitals (Ditto: Frontline and PBS have explored this issue in Kentucky, but no doc from local stations. Or what REALLY happened at the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire? A provocative book has been out for a half dozen years but no TV expose---yet.  Or: what really happened to kill Kentucky Central?   
Meanwhile our legislature rolls on; probably racking up one of the most dismal session records in modern times. More on that soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Voting Legislation Needed NOW!

If you are tired of seeing the bigger states rule our national elections (and I am); if you are even more tired of the Electoral  College, which allows the winner of the popular vote to lose  (and I definetly am—and you should be too, regardless of your party) then please join me in urging our legislature to adopt NOW the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
 
Right now your vote, as a Kentuckian, isn’t the same as votes in surrounding states. Rather than being their equal, your vote could be more (but much likely less) than each voter there; and that’s not fair, not just, and not our democracy. It should be one person = one vote; no more, no less.
 
The proposed Compact allows for that, and gets around the “College.” The Constitution allows states to control how they divide their electoral votes. Most are winner take all. Some divide proportionately to how their citizens vote. The compact says each state's vote would go to whoever wins the national popular vote---if states with 270 electoral votes (a majority join). Right now 13 states with 181 electoral votes have joined. Kentucky should too, and reaffirm our belief in one person = one vote. Please urge your state representatives and senators to adopt the compact.
 
And while we’re on voting, which many complain is too cumbersome a process, registration, voting, etc., Kentucky should consider adopting AVR or Automatic Voter Registration. Simply put, if a citizen goes to any state office/agency for any matter, and isnt registered, there are forms and a person in that office who can register them there and then. Can’t force them to vote, but at least they are now ready to exercise the most important rite, or right - both most certainly apply, of American citizenship.
 
And, once again, Kentucky should be working NOW on redrawing voting lines after the 2020 census. Over a dozen states use a non-partisan commission of experts to draw these lines, and either that’s it, or the legislature can overrule them by an extraordinary vote, for example two-thirds.  No more gerrymandering, no more long drawn out, expensive, time consuming cases in the courts; do it right, do it scientifically with population and geographic experts and be done with it.
 
The problems in our Secretary of State’s office are minor compared to what important changes adopting these 3 approaches would make.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 25, 2019

News Thoughts

1. Happy to see “Green Book” defy the odds and win the Oscar as Best Picture, despite carping from some that it is a “black picture for white folks.”  Any film that reminds us about how racist we were, even into the 1960s—and even in towns such as Lexington, where the locals thought otherwise, is worth an award.
 
BTW, when the buzz started about this flick I remembered seeing a copy of the Green book (a friend described it as “the AAA tour guide for black people”, telling them where they could sleep and eat in otherwise segregated areas) at the Lexington main public library. So I called the reference room to see if my memory was right. Maybe yes, maybe no, but they had no copy then, nor did the UK library. I find this extraordinary. Maybe now that the film has won, both libraries will see the necessity to obtain a copy.
 
2. Our legislature has gone from conservative to reactionary; and not just the least in arguments over abortion. It seems it can’t wait for Roe v Wade to be overturned, wanting our state to be first in line with new birth restrictions. (I do not like abortion. I like even less letting any administration have a say in whether a woman should give birth or not. It should be up to her and her religious beliefs. Remember: a government that can tell you you must have this baby is also a government that can tell you you must not have this baby, or have we forgotten, so soon, that China tried just that, and recently.)
 
Or the kowtowing to the utility industry which, as the CJ pointed out, spent several hundreds of thousands to get the rules changed (in the middle of the game) so they could pay homeowners less than what they promised to pay them originally.
 
Or keeping on spending millions on Kentucky Wired, long after the project has gone way over budget and way behind schedule, without finding out who screwed up the deal so badly that it may end up costing you and me millions.
 
Meanwhile it hasn’t done anything to insure our ballots can’t be hacked, or improving our elections (ex: the governor of WV changed from Dem to GOP a year after he was elected; a fraud upon Mountain State voters.) This has happened here, just not at such a high level. Why aren’t we prepared for that happening with a law that says what to do if it does? (not an easy question to answer, but one that needs to be raised.)
 
Meanwhile, still no constitutional amendment to let the legislature call itself into session, making it the UNequal of our 3 branches of government.
 
3. WKYT is the local top tv station, especially in news. A good part of the reason may be it has the only investigative reporter, Miranda Combs, and has won top regional awards for its work. That hasn’t always been the case, but LEX 18 bowed out sometime back.  Perhaps the new owners will see the light and give KYT some competition here; we would all benefit from that. Til then, channel 27 keeps on doing good work in several areas Miranda has probed.
 
Not so the way 27 handled its “news coverage” of the recent sport & boat show at Heritage Hall. Newscast after newscast just before and during the show carried thinly disguised promotions for it, passed off as legit news stories. They weren’t, and 27 never acknowledged its sponsorship of that show in those “reports.” This gets worse each year. Last year when I objected to this as both bad journalism and unethical. (Viewers had a right to know of the station’s sponsorship of the event,) the then manager agreed with me, and station sponsorship was acknowledged on following reports. Not so this year; wonder how bad it will be in 2020?
 
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

If Timing Is Everything Our Legislature's Grade Is A D-Minus

Over 40 years in broadcasting has taught me that “Timing is everything” is a good maxim, one that works there, and seems also to work in other aspects of life, including civic activities.
 
So the Kentucky state senate’s passage of an NRA-sponsored bill to allow guns to be carried concealed, without a permit and without training (as now)—on the very anniversary of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting  that killed so many—seems more than just callous, it seems ignorant and unnecessary.
 
Kentucky parents from our own Marshall HS shooting, more on that later, had testified earlier of the anguish they felt over the loss of their children –yet the Senate seemed to ignore those same feelings by parents in another state.  More than just bad “timing.”
 
And it got worse. One senator, an NRA supporter and former cop, argued that to end permits and especially to end training programs for those carrying concealed weapons was bad practice and flew in the face of experience.
 
Before the week was out came the shooting at a factory in Aurora, Illinois. It turned out the fired worker not only had his deadly weapon illegally (another example of failed state background checks), but  this was only found out when he applied for a permit for concealed carry. Will this now happen here, if the senate/NRA bill becomes law?
 
All of which would seem to indicate our state senate doesn’t give a hoot about our own tragic shooting at Marshall High. Yes, a study group afterwards had come up with an omnibus school safety bill, but it had 2 major faults. One, it was brought up during the 30 day session when no funding can ordinarily be passed to implement the bill, and two, it contained nothing about guns and their crucial impact on school safety.  Bad “timing.” (and head in sand.)
 
Our general assembly needs to consider a constitutional amendment to allow it to call itself into session; not, as now, where only the governor can do that. (He just did, with disastrous results; nothing accomplished on pension reform, and a lot of money spent for naught.)
 
Some other legislative issues bear serious study. Ex-speaker Hoover’s bill to require candidates for statewide office to make public their income taxes is a good idea and should pass. Yes, it may cause some good candidates not to run, but the overall idea is excellent.
 
Two, the GOP’s bill to slap Democrat Grimes handling of voter data in her Sec. of State office ought to pass also. A study by the Herald-Leader shows she probably had access to data she didn’t need, and for political purposes—though she denies it. This example, coming on the heels of the Republican candidate for governor in Georgia (also their Secretary of State) being charged with using his office to purge voting roles of people most likely to vote for his opponent---and winning a very narrow race—shows safeguards are needed in these officies that control voting rules and data.
 
That “timing” is right, so to are (finally,) bills to protect small water districts from collapse; though woefully late. How many years has it been since news media stories have shown the dismal, unsafe state of drinking water in many areas of Kentucky. But, better late than never.
 
Kentucky needs either to have annual 60 day sessions –or give lawmakers the power to call special sessions—or both. An amendment can’t get on the ballot too soon.  Til then, their “timing” score is D-minus. 
 
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Once More A Rush To Judgment

In many ways, Virginia is Kentucky’s Mother Country. So many of our early settlers (and elected officials such as Henry Clay) came from there; so many of our counties were carved from Virginia land, we inherited much from that Commonwealth.
 
Let’s hope that does not include its rush to judgment.
 
Once again, accusations are being taken by the populace (and alas, by the professional media which should know better) as final judgments. They are not. (And this after the recent CovCath example.)
 
Let me take their Lt. Governor first. He has been charged with rape by at least one accuser. Rape is a crime, but we all know it often takes years for this crime to become public; in some cases, past the time such charges may count as a crime. Whatever the case here, judicial authorities should investigate and if the accusations prove credible, file a case against this man. If not, drop them. In the meantime, he should not resign; for in this case of “she said, he said” the way to try to discover the truth is in the courts, not the media. That’s not our job. Yes it will take time; justice usually does, but a rush to judgment, running the risk of getting it wrong, is worse.
 
Now to Virginia’s governor.  I don’t know what possessed him to say, first, he was one of those men either in blackface or Klan robes in his yearbook picture, but he soon took it back and said he was not either one. Who knows for sure? Not me. Maybe you can look beneath the robe or makeup and know, with 100% certainty, but I can not. In the meantime here is a man who has been a doctor, led the fight for civil rights and better health care in his state (and who is a member of a largely African-American church BTW!) and I will give him the “presumption of innocence” until I know more.
 
This UNAmerican rush to judgment must end. It demeans all of us, and our democratic institutions.
 
Would that John Dingle’s final words to his countrymen (which you need to read) might have touched on this, too.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

We All Do It But...

Jump to conclusions that is.

Seems to be human nature, but that’s no excuse for trained journalists to do so.
 
Yes, I’m talking about the “CovCath” students in DC.
 
When I first saw the smiling young man standing so close to the drum-beating elderly man, my reaction was: who is he? Why is he smiling, but saying nothing? Who is the drum beater and why is he beating his drum?  Who are all those noisy people in the background and where is all this going on?
 
These are the questions reporters should ask, and many did, but a little late. Meanwhile people everywhere seem to have jumped to their own conclusions about those answers and gone on social media to tell the rest of us what the “answers” were, when, in fact, they didn’t know---either. (One lady blogger in San Francisco, telling the world she actually lived in Brazil, had a lot to say---mostly wrong...but she somehow got on the news.)
 
And now the media messed things up even more.  Not having trained journalists at the scene, we fell back on reporting the video as interpreted by social media reports, from people, not there as well. It took awhile, several days in fact to get things straightened out, at least some semblance of “the truth” all of which was not helped one whit by a statement put out by the Catholic diocese in Covington whose officials hadn’t been there either.
 
To the media’s (belated) credit, when complaints came in, and experienced minds prevailed, interviews with the participants got the “real” story (whatever that turns out to be) going, and a better approximation of what actually happened.
 
The media often quotes social media, many times it has to since no journalist was there at the time, but it needs to make very clear the “attribution” of those reports and views. (That’s  an old J school maxim, but often overlooked these days---to all of our disservice.)
 
Local case in point. Monday when Adam Edelen filed for governor (after Bevin had finally filed Friday) one local anchor reported "and the field is set over on the GOP side,too.”)  I fired off an e-mail to her saying "Not til 4:01pm tomorrow,” which was the filing deadline, and, sure enough some guy neither she nor I had heard of did file against Bevin.
 
My message is clear: resist all those jumps to conclusions, evaluate the source of the information, give it some time...things do tend to get corrected, it’s just that we can screw things up early on.
 
Remember, we’re all only human.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, January 21, 2019

Some Words In Praise Of CBS's Sunday Morning

“Here begins something new.”
Charles Kuralt spoke those words as he began CBS’s “Sunday Morning:, the best news program on the air; yes, better than 60 Minutes, or Frontline or Nova (and that’ saying a lot!)---certainly the best news program on commercial networks or cable.
I don’t remember if there were news magazine shows before Sunday Morning, perhaps so, but it has outlasted and bested them all...and next Sunday will observe its 40th year on the air.It’s worth a watch, week in and week out, regularly, and certainly on the occasion of this upcoming anniversary program.
Kuralt, and his producer Robert Northshield's idea was a Sunday newspaper on television, with feature stories, opinion columns, hard news reports, coverage of the arts, and more; the things you get in a good Sunday edition, only on TV. It has succeeded wildly. Some programs are better than others, but I can’t remember ever seeing a bad one, and I’ve seen many of them.
They have special, themed programs too, as do Sunday papers, especially in their special sections. Few could eclipse when Kuralt took the program live to Moscow, when famed Russian expatriate, Vladimir Horowitz, went home after many years to play a concert. What a concert it was!  You can still buy CDs and DVD's of it. Other themed programs have been on Design and Money and Food. (And my favorite, the end of each year’s look back at the people we lost along the way.)
Staples of the program are an Almanac, a detailed backgound cover story on some current news topic, outstanding coverage of the arts, and the piece that ends the program, a natural sound only nature report, which may be bugling elks at mating season, or our own Red River gorge.
After 40 years, Sunday Morning is still “something new” and always something outstanding.  Do watch Sundays at 9, when the trumpet sounds.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Happy Ratification Day!

Today, Monday, Jan. 14th is our Ratification Day; the day the Continental Congress approved the Treaty of Paris with Great Britan, ending the Revolutionary War, and legally establishing the 13 colonies as the United States of America.  Not the same as July 4th, but a much more significant day in our history than the attention it isn’t given.
So how far have we come this “greatest nation in the world?”
Well, let’s remember our democracy in 1784, a truly radical experiment, was a work in progress.
Each MAN was created equal, we told the world, thanks to Tom Paine and John Adams, and Tom Jefferson, and it was “man.”  Women didn’t vote. Blacks, even “3/5ths” of them didn’t vote. Not all white men voted; in many states/colonies you had to have “property” to vote.  “Indentured servants” (remember them?) didn’t vote. Sharecroppers didn’t vote, and, I hate to remind you, in some colonies certain religions couldn’t vote. (Those notorious Quakers among others, those quiet, most peaceful people you could find, yup, no voting for them.)
Well, OK, property requirements to vote soon fell away; so did religious tests. but it took 150 years for women to get the vote. (And by one male vote, BTW, in the last state to ratify, Tennessee.) Looking back from our wisdom of today, how in the world did that happen?  150 years!!!
And, I submit, blacks still are not 100% free to vote given the restrictions imposed by some states still, though not always Southern. And by attempts, by both parties, to gerrymander every election district they can get away with.
And as to Hispanics (the “black man” of today,) they are often found fighting to secure the vote.
(I won’t even go into what we did to American-born, Japanese citizens during WW2.)

And BTW, every person who fought for the Colonies in our Revolutionary War---every single one of them---was an immigrant. Please think about that when you hear calls to shut our borders, or make entry much more difficult, to those fleeing oppression or who seek a new life in our land---as those who fought in 1776 so often did.
All of this by way of both saluting Ratification Day, and reminding us that America is still a work in progress; a work that calls us to keep trying to live up to what the Declaration of Independence promised.
We could start by eliminating the Electoral college, which makes one Kentuckian’s vote NOT equal to the vote cast next door in Ohio, or Indiana, or Tennessee. We could demand the House (and especially the Senate) reform their  rules so that one man, even if he is a Kentuckian, can  not block new laws by refusing to bring them up for a vote. (Remember, before that one man was a Kentuckian, he was a Nevadan, and he will be again.)
We can overturn the Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court which said that MONEY is free speech, and that while I am not a corporation, a corporation is me, a person entitled to the freedoms of every American citizen, including spending secret billions to elect people as our last few elections have actually done.
Yes, on this Ratification Day, we Americans have a lot to be thankful for, and a very lot to do to truly make this “a more perfect union” and the “greatest country in the world.”
Let’s have at it!



Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Some Thoughts At The Start Of The Year

After the ill-considered (and UNnecessarily expensive special session) the legislature is back in town for its 30 day session. Since regular sessions are less costly than special sessions---and better equipped to handle any issue—it is past time for another Constitutional amendment.  The legislature should be given the power (only the governor has it now) to call itself back into session, and it should not limit itself to 30 days every other year, but have “regular” sessions each year.
 
It should plan now for the 2020 elections but establishing a nonpartisan commission to handle drawing of state and federal election districts, with their results to stand unless overturned by an extraordinary majority of both chambers.
 
Another Constitutional amendment needed; eliminating the “dueling” provisions which makes Kentucky the laughing-stock of the nation every four years.
 
Every session some items come up which are important, which need to be taken care of, and which few thought of beforehand. Case in point: a report this week from a  national humane group that Kentucky ranks dead last in laws caring for our pets. Did you know that veterinarians are FORBIDDEN to report cases of suspected animal cruelty? Why on earth would we have such a law? What group would lobby for it? Why would lawmakers pass it? Get rid of this one right away!
 
Gossip—I stress gossip—says Bevin may not run again, possibly awaiting a call from Trump for a DC office. If he waits until the last minute to file, his party, and all of us voters, would be behind the 8 ball. It’s good someone has filed, but changes in the filing law are needed, including moving the date back closer the primary.
 
Meanwhile a major candidate, Adam Edelen, has filed for the Democratic governor's race. But the state’s largest paper, the Courier-Journal, didn’t cover his announcement, even though he has a prominent Louisville man as running mate, using a small Associated Press story instead.  This is bad journalism, and unfair to the candidate and voters. The Herald-Leader did a major article, and a 2nd one on the Lt. Governor candidate.
 
Yet both papers, AP, and most media do NOT cover properly or fully the “perennial” candidates, such as Geoff Young (mentioned but not his running mate)—even though they are legal candidates and could win.
 
Primary candidates should be required to state their party affiliation in their ads, which many did NOT do in this year’s election.
 
And so on and on it goes.  Frankfort has much to do this year (did I mention pensions, funding schools, roads??) Annual sessions would be one way to make Kentucky a more modern state, one able to handle its problems more effectively.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Some Thoughts At Year's End

There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
 
2018 seems to have brought to an end the use of a phrase which never was true where aerial bombing was concerned, "surgical strike.” An official survey by the US reported that in the 4 years the US has been involved in such bombing in Syria, a MINIMUM of 1100 innocent civilians were killed. Almost everyone connected to this survey believes the real number is higher but the US now admits to such killings, which to me are murders, pure and simple. We had no reason to enter the war, under Obama, or continue it—so far—under Trump. No Congressional Declaration of War, as the Constitution requires, for just one example. Now we admit one of the gravest errors of that decision. For all of us who didn’t object, for our Kentucky Congressional delegation—which didn’t oppose it---this is just one of the consequences; and blood on all our hands.
 
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
 
Congrats to the UK football team for its bowl win.  All season long our achilles heel has been pass defense, and it nearly cost us this game.  All season long, Stoops has not been good at time management, as it is called, especially near game’s end. This time he did it right and it saved his hind quarters.  (They will debate the field goal vs going-for-it for years at Penn State).  BTW, let’s not forget what that win also means for Coach Stoops; I think his contract calls for a $250,000 bonus, maybe more.
 
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
 
Kentucky law required people to register in a party to vote in the most important election of all—the primary. I know the reasoning, but why then do we allow candidates to run campaign spots withOUT indicating which party they belong to??? In the run-up to the November election I saw one, maybe two spots of the zillion on tv that listed the candidate’s party. One or the other of these situations should change.
 
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
 
Of the many despicable things Pres. trump has tweeted about recently the most despicable (as well as false) was to blame the Democrats for the deaths of the two children who died in government custody at the border. The policy of separating kids from parents is a recent—and Trump administration policy—as outgoing Chief of State Kelly admitted in a recent news story, blaming it on A/G Sessions. Both parties, historically, have much to answer for as to our truly bad immigration laws, but this one’s father is The Donald.
 
There is no excuse for any reason at any time for any person or party to shut down the government.
 
Doesn’t anyone proof read any more?  TV Guide informed us this week that last Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes program was being hosted by Lester Holt. It wasn’t and the longtime NBC evening news anchor may have been even more surprised than anyone at CBS.
 
There is no excuse......
 
I'm just sayin'...