Wednesday, November 25, 2020

First, Take No Bribe

 

450,000 Americans DEAD!

NO, that is NOT a VIRUS report; (though it may be if we don't behave ourselves.)

It's the number who have died from legal and illegal use of opioid drugs in recent years.

The figures came out of a federal court settlement this week against one of the main makers of such drugs, Purdue Pharma. The firm finally admitted to various criminal charges against it. One of which was bribing doctors, through "speakers fees" into prescribing more oxy than needed for more illnesses than needed.

But, just as it is against the law to offer a bribe, so is it against the law to solicit or accept one. Let's hope the US authorities will (1) go after the doctors who accepted these bribes, and (2) publish a list of who they are so all may know.

And local news media, especially in Kentucky so hard hit by opioid problems, should keep after the US until it does, filing FOI (Freedom of Information ) requests until they get this data. And doing lots of stories based on it.

450,00 victims, many Kentuckians, deserve no less.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Such A Simple Thing

 

So, why has it taken our democracy so long, and yet, we have NOT achieved it?

 

Your vote is just as good as mine, no more, no less.

 

To make mine just as good as yours (no more, no less) I have to grant you the very same right.

 

One Tennessee vote equals one Kentucky vote.

 

One New York or California vote equals one Kentucky vote (no more, no less.)

 

One Louisville vote equals one Lexington vote, and so on.

 

But, that's not the way it is, and all because of the Electoral College.

 

Why is Kentucky a "flyover" state?

 

Because we only have 8 EC votes.

 

But if the President were elected by popular vote, as he or she should be, Kentucky's 3 million votes would mean something very different from our eight EC votes. And BOTH parties should realize this as a matter of practical politics.

 

Even if it weren't true that my vote and yours should be equal, as today they are not. The next legislature should start the ball rolling towards ending the EC, no matter who wins the election, for in 4 years it could be the "other" party who wins the popular vote, but loses the EC.

 

There is also an interstate compact around, which Kentucky should ratify, allowing for popular votes to be used, instead of EC votes in determining who is President. It's a new thought, maybe of dubious legality, but worth looking into, and far, far better than the present system where your vote means so much more than mine.

 

It isn't fair.

 

It isn't Democracy.

 

It isn't America.

 

I'm just sayin...

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

VOTE "NO" ON BOTH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

 

Years ago, when I was covering the West Virginia legislature (the 3rd of 6 I have covered,) I remember a debate on putting a constitutional amendment to the peoples' vote. What to call it on the printed ballot? The "Good Law Enforcement Amendment" its proponents said, and it may well have appeared that way. I remember much guffawing on the House floor over that because the real purpose was to lengthen the terms of county sheriffs, whose state association was behind it.

 

I cite this because the Ky. Supreme Court saw thru the last attempt to pull something like this in Kentucky with "Marsy's Law." Voters approved it in 2018 when it appeared on ballots as something that would have given guarantees of victim's rights in court proceedings. That was an emotional phrase, and clearly designed as such. It passed, but objections were raised and in a unanimous decision our state's high court overturned the vote; something courts very rarely do, saying the state constitution required not a "terse phrase' describing the amendment to be put on the ballot but the entire wording. If you read the involved, complex legalese the legislature adopted--and I did--you would have had second thoughts.  

 

Even more so, perhaps, when you realized, as the Herald-Leader pointed out recently, this was the result of a California billionaire, who lost a family member to crime, bank rolling the amendment in many states. That is his right, and it may not take away from its purpose if I point out, as the H-L did not, that the California backer is also a convicted felon himself---stock fraud, later dropped, and serious drug charges, where his money got him out of prison time in return for community service and $1M donated to treatment programs.

 

Be that as it may, my objection to the old 536 word amendment, now grown to 614 words, which I don't plan to read, is that this subject is NOT one to be in our constitution, the fundamental law of the commonwealth, but should be handled as are other justice system issues by regular statutory law, and as a matter of fact, Kentucky already has such a victims' rights law, passed in 1986. More should be done for victims, but this is not the way to do it.

 

Now to the "Good Law Enforcement" amendment...okay, Amendment 2, it seeks to require district judges, our lowest courts, to get more experience before they can run for the post. Good idea. But the carrot for this is that their four year term would be expanded to eight years. Same for county prosecutors. Backers say high court judges have eight year terms, and this would make matters uniform. Opponents, myself included, think eight years is too long before the people get a chance to vote on how the judge is doing. If you want to make them uniform, drop the higher courts to four, or maybe even six, but not 8.

 

So, may I recommend to you all, vote early, by mail  and vote "NO" on the amendments.

 

BTW, the legislature has decided to put just two amendments at a time before the voters. Here are the two they missed:

 

PRIMO---allowing the legislature to call itself into session. it will never be an equal partner to the Executive branch until ti has this power, as only the governor does now. Illogical.

 

SECUNDO--Eliminating the archaic anti-dueling oath from the constitution, the one that makes Ky. a laughing stock every four years. If we pull down some Civil War monument, why not end this provision which goes way, way, way back to before the Revolution! It has no place in a 21st century constitution. Neither do the new, verbose Marsy's law, or an attempt to give county politicians a free ride at our expense.

 

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

THOUGHTS ABOUT 9/11 & THE CONVENTIONS, MAYBE MORE

 

 1:

 

What Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima were to my generation, 9/11 is to several current generations. But there needs to be context.

 

What bugs me  is first, the almost total lack of news reporting about the 75th anniversary of The Bomb and the end of WW2. OK, then what bugs me about 9/11 is the way Congress reacted--passing a law saying those airlines that carried the baddies could NOT be sued. This after both government agencies and many news reports showed how bad airline security was. Once again, Congress acted on behalf of Big Biz not individual citizens. Surprise!

 

Even today TSA and news reports still show such security is not what it should be. If The legacy airlines go under, good riddance. New, hopefully better ones, will arise.

 

2:

 

As to the conventions and the campaign it seems to boil down to this: Trump wants to reopen the country, saying the need to get the economy rolling again takes precedence over virus fighting. Biden feels the nation must first tackle the virus before the economy can rise on a firm foundation and reopening things will make matters worse.

 

Logic and common sense favor Biden here.  Every time we reopen  cases spike, and people die...people who are customers as well as workers. We need to make customers and workers safe before anything else. That Maine wedding was a major case in point. Over one hundred people caught the virus from attending in, and seven died. But, NONE of the seven had attended the wedding!

 

In this connection I will say again that we asked much of the Greatest Generation; their lives among other things, and all we are asking of college students today is to wear masks and stay apart. They have NOT responded, at UK as elsewhere, and I am bitterly disappointed. I thought better of my fellow Kentuckians; I was wrong.

 

Parents, teachers, administrators, bar & restaurant owners, etc..it's a tough world out there. But dying is a lot tougher than 30% capacity, or an early last call or virtual learning, or no fans in the stands. It's LIFE we are talking about. Gender reveal (another idiotic practice which caused one of the major California fires) and LIFE trumps (no pun intended) dying. Most of what our gov asks can be done without dying. Inconvenience, yes. Dying, No.

 

Let's get our priorities straight.

 

I'm just sayin'...

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

ET TU, PARTY ANIMALS?

 

I wrote a recent blog about how I would not want to be a parent these days, facing tough decisions for my kids about going back to school, virtually or in person. That was primarily for secondary schools. But now I see that parents face the same tough choices on the college level.

 

I can't imagine kids going off to college, especially as freshmen, without they and their parents having a talk about the virus, and the importance of masks and distancing and NOT going off, right away, to mass parties. But, that is exactly what happened in far too many schools, from North Carolina to Notre Dame (yes, Notre Dame!!)

 

It used to be that some publications touted college for their reputation  as "party schools."  Much easier to do that now, just tally up the virus cases and make your list!

 

Sad, very, very sad.  Parents and students (and I guess moi) should have known better. For college officials maybe a lesser excuse. But they soon learned and cracked down, in most cases. We can not afford to lose a generation of (hopefully) the "best and brightest" to beer bashes without masks and distancing. If that is your reason for going to college, drop out, go home, get a job; go back to college when you have a little more wisdom and concern for your fellow students.

 

It isn't too much to ask of parents, and school officials..and above all, young people that they give up a party or two for the sake of LIFE.


Apparently we will not have a new version of the "Greatest Generation" this time; not at least from all the recent news reports. Sad. Very, very sad.

-------------

 

A note about our President before the next blog which may look back on the two conventions:

 

Mr. Trump deserves a lot of credit for his brokering of the new peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This has the potential to be a game changer in the history of the Middle East and I pray it may work out that way.

 

At the same time, I must point out there is something very, very wrong in US foreign relations when we can work to improve relations 6,000 miles away but can't do that 60 miles away from our shores. Yes, US relations with Cuba are a disgrace and we need to restore such relations. We don't have to like the Cuban regime to do so. We don't like Russia or China or Belarus, but we maintain official  diplomatic relations, and we should do so with Cuba. In my opinion, that would work out to show more Cubans the benefits of democracy than not having such relations.

 

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Controversial (I'm Counting On It) Thoughts On Schools And The Pandemic

One thing I am glad I am not today; a parent of a school age child.


I would be hard pressed to make good decisions about whether to send my kids to school, given all that's going on today, and which seems to change every other week.


A few figures to put all this in perspective:


The world's 3 most populous nations are: China: 1.4 Billion, India 1.3 Billion, and the US at 330 million.


The world's 3  nations with the greatest number of virus cases, per WHO: US-4, 582, 000,  India 1, 804,000, South Africa 511, 500.


Something is sadly wrong here.


The nation which claims the best health system in the world, the best doctors, hospitals, medical research, etc.etc.etc. has the highest number of virus cases. It should not be that way.


And it is affecting all our lives in so many ways; not the least of which is the next generation, getting ready now for fall schools, and their parents.


I'm afraid I would be going to school board meetings and rattling the superintendent's cage asking "what in hell are you doing?" Sending Kids back to school, maybe late, when we have no vaccine, no real understanding of what this virus does to kids, what sanitation methods work and what don't.  I mean, look at pro sports; every time they think they have an answer, they're wrong, and you want to risk our future?


Sorry educators.  Call off the next school year.  That's right, call it off!


Not all kids have the hardware for virtual learning, nor do school systems. It's unfair to educate one part of a class and not all of them. And virtual learning isn't as good as in-person learning. And we just don't know enough to avoid all the risks inherent in in-person learning right now.


Yes, I know this raises a LOT of problems, paying educators for not teaching (can't we find good, socially redeeming work for one year for these great, trained people???)  Family problems will be immense, as I said, I'm glad I'm not a school parent these days, easy for me to say and not have to "do."


But, right now, with the knowledge we have, and the way the national administration is handling the crisis, I say better we not start schools than do so and run risk after risk after risk.


OK, beat up on me.


Put this year behind us.  Just drop it out of our calendar (There's lots of research that kids do better learning when they are older, anyhow.)


I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Random Thoughts And A Plea

Over the weekend I saw a man object to wearing a mask. "I'm not going to wear a mask," he said on a network newscast, "to make some one else comfortable."

Comfortable?
 

How about alive?


And maybe even keeping you alive?


What is this nonsense about wearing a mask violates my Constitutional rights? Where in the Constitution? How? (and sending federal troops to keep down protesters doesn't?) And I mean NON-violent protesters! How in hell setting fire to a courthouse door in Portland aids Black Lives Matter and respects the memory of George Floyd escapes me!


As a journalist I have been worried about this for some time, and as an old college activist, I have worried over the so called "Hong Kong pro-democracy movement." We need a better, more accurate phrase in the media to describe them. Yes they were fighting the good cause, but their tactics were deplorable. Violence, arson, looting, all in a Good Cause.  Meadow Muffins!


And, at times, these bad acts have infected Louisville, Lexington, and other cities. Breonna Taylor's family has  deplored the violence on her behalf, that should be enough.
And all this while John Lewis was being memorialized in Selma and Washington and Atlanta as "a peaceful warrior for Justice."


Let the NON violent protests continue until America lives up to her lofty origins for all, and respect the unbroken line that stretches from John Lewis to Dr. King to Ghandi and so many in history---to Jesus.

I'm just sayin'...