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Monday, July 31, 2006

Taking aim at Fletcher's critics.

Larry Forgy, one of the Gov.'s staunchest and usually-to-be-counted-on supporters, has taken direct aim at the Gov's critics, most notably the Lexington Herlad-Leader. In the letter, Forgy points out what he called "wrongs" committed by the paper and "corrects" the record thus: (1) Fletcher was not responsible for the budget fiasco of 2004; (2) Jim Host's gripe was not fletcher's fault; (3) Mike Duncan, not Marshall Hughes or Dave Disponnett, were initially responsible for personnel decisions; (4) Host, Billy Reed, Mike Duncan and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's loyalties "left Fletcher in the desert"; (5) Selective quotations of those on the "out" shows bias; (6) Jack Richardson is "mr. dial-a-quote"; and, (7) Fletcher is more electable than David Williams.
You can continue to read the rest of the article by clicking "aim" above. Suffice it to say that Larry Forgy "has come true" for Fletcher once again, whether or not you are persuaded by his various arguments.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bush signs bill to protect children from perverts. Amen to that!

Today is a good day, indeed. The President has just signed a bill into law that holds perverts responsible for their actions against children. Among the many positive things the new law provides, it: requires convicted child molesters to be listed on a national Internet database and face a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts; creates the national child abuse registry, requiring investigators to do background checks on prospective adoptive and foster parents; establishes a comprehensive federal DNA database of material collected from convicted molesters, and procedures for the routine DNA collection and comparison to the database when someone has been convicted of such an offense; provides federal funding for states to track pedophiles using global positioning devices; allows victims of child abuse to sue their molesters; and imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of: (30 years for raping a child; 10-year penalty for sex trafficking offenses involving children and for coercing child prostitution); and increases minimum sentences for molesters who travel between states.
WOW. Sounds like someone FINALLY wised up and decided to take care of our children. Our children DESERVED BETTER from us and, before NOW, we had FAILED them.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

**** Harper plans to challenge Fletcher for Republican nod. ****

Billy Harper, a Paducah businessman, who was a statewide campaign finance chair or money man for Fletcher's 2003 gubernatorial race and who raised $5 million for the campaign, says he may challenge Fletcher for the Republican nod. Read the story here. The Paducah Sun has the entire story.
"I want to give voters another alternative." With all that's gone on [with Fletcher's legal troubles and questions about his re-electability being openly questioned by many in the Republican party], I think Kentuckians need an option, and I'm willing to be that option," Harper said.
My observation is that if he runs, and if Fletcher's political misfortunes continue to rise, Billy Harper will bring following assets to his candidacy that will bode well for him: (1) A knack for raising the kind of money that will be needed in an expensive race; (2) domicile in Western Kentucky, where Fletcher's disapproval rating is the highest; (3) success as a businessman to help cut "unbridled" spending; (4) an unabashed boldness and an early start, when others have been rather coy in expressing their future plans; and, (5) a welcome (?) new (and yes, untested) face. Stay tuned.


Senate does right, bans interstate bids to violate parental notification laws.

The U. S. Senate has passed an abortion notification bill that will make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to have an abortion, in violation of states' parental notification laws.
You can read the story.
The Senate version will have to be reconciled with the House version before the bill is sent to the President for signing into law.
As I have already stated on the subject, parental notification laws are very proper means for parents to know about the well-being of their minor children, particularly when it involves such a potentially life-threatning procedure as an abortion. Hence, persons who would lure a minor out of state, inorder for that minor child to violate her parent's right to know an abortion is looming on the horizon, deserve our rightful condemnation and legal sanction.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

** Stumbo names unindicted co-conspirators, adds details to indictment. **

In a latest filing, AG Stumbo has added further details to the indictment and named those who he says are the Gov.'s unindicted co-conspirators.
Read details and unindicted co-conspirators.
Here are new details added to the indictment: Attached to the court filing was a May 7, 2004, report from Willard Hansford, a field representative for the governor's local outreach office.
In it, Hansford said, "Constituents are ready to fill vacant merit positions and replace Democrats in both merit and non-merit positions." In addition to these details, ... Stumbo's office also listed "other known but unindicted persons who conspired" with Fletcher. They included Stan Cave, Fletcher's chief of staff; Jim Host, former commerce secretary for Fletcher; Ralph Hacker, a former adviser; Marc Williams, deputy transportation secretary; and Roy Mundy, a state Transportation Cabinet official who formerly was an official with Kentucky American Water.
For a complete list of the unindicted, please see page 19.
Oh, and if you are wondering how Stumbo can name these individuals when the Supreme Court ruled that their names must be kept secret since they cannot be indicted after the Gov.'s blanket pardons, well ... the Gov.'s legal team, as a part of their discovery requests, asked that they be named! Yep, I'm NOT making it up!!


Monday, July 24, 2006

Is Bush violating the constitutional separation of powers?

The ABA is accusing President Bush of violating the constituion by "his penchant for writing exceptions to laws he has just signed [into law]", and Senator Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has threatened to take Bush to court over the matter.
Read the ABA story.
Here is an excerpt:
The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI director and former federal appeals court judge, said the president has overstepped his authority in attaching challenges to hundreds of new laws. The attachments, known as bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.
"This report raises serious concerns crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine, and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our democracy for more than two centuries."

It seems to me that it is NOT what the President attaches to the bills before they become law that matter. Rather, it is what he does AFTERWARDS in regards to the questioned attachments that matter. As long as he fulfills his constitutional duties to "take care that the "unvetoed" laws are faithfully executed", then one has NO reason to question his bill-statements now, does one? If, however, he chooses to NOT veto bills but instead signs them into law, but refuses to enforce them, then he's got SERIOUS constitutional problems. The dereliction(s) of constitutional presidential duty to "faithfully execute the laws" may become an impeachable offense.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

***** BUSH to NAACP: Racism persists. *****

President Bush spoke to the meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP). This is the first time that the President has addressed the group since he was elected President over 5 years ago.
You can read the news report. You can also see the video.
In one of the MOST candid and truthful statements of all time ever uttered by anyone, the President stated: "I understand that racism still lingers in America,". "It's a lot easier to change a law [the Voting Rights Act, which the Senate has just renewed, 98 to 0, and which the President has vowed to sign] than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party." ... "I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African-American community," Bush said. "For too long, my party wrote off the African-American vote, and many African-Americans wrote off the Republican Party."

Yes, indeed, Mr. President. Yes, indeed. And the tragedy is NOT only happening on the federal level, either. You ought to see the tragedy that is taking place in the states, too, such as in Kentucky -- the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln!

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Monday, July 17, 2006

*** Fletcher seeks indictments dismissals, alleges selective prosecution! ***

The Courier-Journal is reporting that the Gov.'s lawyers have filed a motion asking the Franklin district court to dismiss indictments against him because he is being selectively prosecuted by Stumbo.
Read it in the Courier-Journal.
Here are excerpts:
Gov. Ernie Fletcher shouldn't be prosecuted for violating Kentucky's merit-protection law, his lawyers say, because Democrats have broken it repeatedly for 45 years without being punished. ... [Their 96 page motion] cites decades of alleged political discrimination by Democratic administrations ... [that went un]prosecuted [until Fletcher].
... legal scholars and lawyers say that "selective prosecution" arguments virtually always fail, in part because courts grant wide latitude to prosecutors -- including the freedom to change their priorities.
"If we acknowledge that crimes were committed, does the law require us to do nothing because nothing had been done in the past?" asked a former Jefferson County commonwealth's attorney. ... Fletcher's lawyers cite these reasons why the charges should be thrown out:
(1) the argument advanced last month by Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph Lambert that the governor, like the president of the United States, may be immune from prosecution while in office.
Lambert, a Republican, defended his comments by citing the work of "highly regarded legal scholars," including Laurence Tribe of Harvard and Edwin Chemerinsky of Duke.
But both told The Courier-Journal that governors don't enjoy the same immunity as presidents.
Tribe called the comparison "an altogether misleading analogy" and said "it would clearly be a misuse of the views I expressed on this subject."
(2) ... [Fletcher's] lawyers say that even if he did [break the laws], it would violate the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection under the law" if he were to be prosecuted when others weren't, ... cit[ing] 65 instances since 1972 in which the state Personnel Board found that merit workers had been discriminated against -- but none in which anyone was prosecuted by the attorney general. ...
Fletcher's legal team also says "incontrovertible data" proves that Democratic Party control of state government has resulted in disproportionate numbers of registered Democrats in merit jobs.
... Attorney General Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, said last year that any imbalance is irrelevant to whether Fletcher violated the law. ... Fletcher's legal team say prosecution should be barred under a 1966 decision in Hecks case, wherein Kentucky's high court threw out Sunday "blue law" charges against a new department store in Ashland upon Heck's showing that no other merchants had been charged with breaking that law in 25 years.
"Heck's arrival in Ashland is the equivalent of Fletcher arriving in Frankfort," and "The same type of powers-that-be whose status quo were threatened" in Ashland "came to the fore in Frankfort", the motion stated.
Legal experts say the brief provides a fascinating history of patronage in Kentucky. But Indiana University law professor Craig Bradley and veteran Frankfort lawyer Guthrie True say the selective-prosecution argument likely will fail. For one thing, they said, Fletcher undercut it by pardoning the others charged with similar crimes; if not for that, the prosecution of Fletcher wouldn't seem so selective. Experts, including University of Kentucky law professor William Fortune and former federal prosecutor Kent Wicker, also said the Ashland case is different because the same prosecutor kept charging Heck's but let other merchants go unpunished.
"Stumbo can't be blamed for what former AGs didn't do,"
Fortune said. Wicker said: "Priorities change and certain types of crimes become more important to prosecute. Prosecutors are allowed to change their priorities."
Wicker and Bradley also said prosecutors are allowed to decide whom to prosecute, as long as their decision isn't based on a defendant's race, sex or other protected characteristic. "I am not sure Republicans are a protected class," Wicker said.
(3) Given the attorney general's interest in potentially running for governor, he should have stepped down, the motion says. "Any other objective prosecutor would have disengaged himself and his office from any legitimate investigation." Stumbo had said after Fletcher's indictment that he wouldn't run for governor as long as his office was still prosecuting the case, but he didn't rule out a 2007 campaign altogether, Fletcher's lawyers said. Special Judge David Melcher has since ruled that Stumbo must step down from the prosecution, though his assistants may stay. .
(4) The Fletcher team says no criminal acts in the alleged conspiracy came within a year of the governor's May 11 indictment, as required under the one-year statute of limitations for prosecuting misdemeanors. The only alleged misconduct within the year -- the firing of Transportation Cabinet Deputy Inspector General Mike Duncan on May 13, 2005 -- does not count, Fletcher's lawyers say, because he was on probation at the time... . Wicker, a former federal prosecutor, disputed that and said an "overt act" in a conspiracy charge does not have to be a crime.
(5) Fletcher's lawyers say the merit law doesn't adequately spell out who is the alleged law-breaker, since it says "no person shall be appointed or promoted to or demoted or in any way discriminated against" in merit jobs because of their political affiliation. "By saying 'no person shall be appointed' rather than 'no person shall appoint,' the statute is directed at those people affected by the decisions, not the decision-makers," Fletcher's motion contends. "While such loose language might be sufficient for civil cases before the Personnel Board … it is insufficient for a criminal statute." Russell Weaver, who teaches criminal procedure at the University of Louisville, said the courts do require criminal laws to be more specific, but added, "It sounds like a losing argument to me."

I must say the motion makes some very invalid and valid points:
The first point about the immunity of the Gov. from prosecution is a DUD. It makes the Gov. above the law. That was what the Founding Fathers fought against when they severed all political and other ties with King George!
The second point about selective prosecution is also a DUD. Bradley, True and Wicker's arguments EFFECTIVELY dispose of point number two.
The third point has already being rendered moot by the special judge's actions in getting rid of Stumbo. So that one is NOW a DUD, too.
The fourth point regarding conspiracy and the tolling of time depends on when the alleged conspiracy ended. An active conspiracy is still prosecutable long after any "overt" acts giving rise to the conspiracy charge had ceased. So depending on when the alleged conspiracy ceased, this point may also prove to be a DUD -- or not.
The fifth point is a little more troubling to me. The Gov.'s motion raises a VERY good argument. Like the Gov.'s motion seems to question, I too question why the legislature would address the law to the recipient of the "meritless" job favor, if the legislature wanted to criminally punish the person responsible for the illegal act!? One thing is for sure: the legislature wants to dispossess the "meritless" employee of his/her illgotten favor. What else follows is debatable. The legislative history will, undoubtably, shed some light on this issue, and I do NOT have the legislative history at hand. In any event, the law is in other respects constitutional (and NOT vague or overbroad). I am NOT calling it yet on this fifth point since its resolution can go either way, depending on which way the legislative history resolves it!
Nonetheless, it is IMPORTANT that we NOT forget that Republicans pledged to be better than Democrats, and NOT to simply emulate them!!


**** To know Pence is NOT to dislike him! ****

Here is another report of the Republican Party of Kentucky sponsored poll -- this one to do with Lt. Governor, Steve Pence.
Read it here.
Here are excerpts:
One of the interesting subplots revealed in new Republican polling data was the contrast between respondents' views of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence.
In the poll conducted for the Kentucky GOP by a Washington-based firm, the two men were viewed favorably by roughly the same percentage of people -- 38 percent for Pence, 36 percent for Fletcher.
But 57 percent said they didn't have a positive impression of Fletcher, while just 22 percent thought of Pence unfavorably.
Pence's biggest weakness was that 28 percent of those surveyed did not know who he was, compared with just 2 percent who didn't know Fletcher.
... Respondents also said they'd be far less likely to vote against legislative candidates who brought Pence to campaign for them than someone who stood next to Fletcher.
So how did two men who ran on the same ticket end up on such different paths?
Perhaps much of it stems from Pence's gradual divorce from Fletcher's handling of the state hiring investigation.
Pence was the most prominent administration official who didn't show up to Fletcher's public pardoning of his aides last August, sending a subtle signal of disapproval with that move.
Then, on May 31, Pence announced he wouldn't run for re-election with Fletcher in 2007.
Fletcher then asked Pence to step down as lieutenant governor, but Pence refused.
"That leaves Pence the ability to say, 'Hey, I'm my own guy and not part of the inside circle,'" Eastern Kentucky University political science professor Joe Gershtenson said last month.
"That certainly works to the lieutenant governor's advantage given the troubles that the governor has been experiencing," added Gershtenson, who also is director of the Center for Kentucky History and Politics at EKU.
Some Republicans had privately speculated that Pence's departure from the ticket, but refusal to resign, might backfire on him.
But another question in the poll, which was conducted by Washington-based pollster Jan R. van Lohuizen, examined that very issue.
Respondents were asked to pick whether they agreed with Pence, "who says the people of Kentucky elected him to be their lieutenant governor and he owes it to the people to serve out his term," or with Fletcher, "who says Steve Pence should step down now so the government can move forward with new energy."
Sixty-two percent sided with Pence while 25 percent agreed with the governor.
"I don't think the public knows Steve Pence very well," said Fletcher's chief of staff, Stan Cave, when asked why respondents seemed to have a better view of Pence.
"He has not been under the same barrage from the liberal media and press that the governor has been," he said.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

*** Republican party of Kentucky sponsored poll is "devastating" for Fletcher! ***

A poll sponsored by the Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) has some very bad news for the Gov. Read the story here.
Here are excerpts:
A Republican Party-commissioned poll shows that more than two-thirds of respondents want someone other than Ernie Fletcher to be governor, and said that even his acquittal or dismissal of legal charges wouldn't help their views of the state's embattled chief executive.
The Washington-based pollster Jan R. van Lohuizen, who has done work for the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Fletcher, described the results in a memo as "devastating" for the Republican governor.
Of the 500 respondents from across the state, 69 percent said they wanted to give someone else a chance to be governor, while just 25 percent thought Fletcher deserved re-election.
Only 38 percent approved of Fletcher's job performance, while 56 percent disapproved.
And 44 percent blamed Fletcher primarily "for scandals in Frankfort." Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who has led the probe into the Fletcher administration's hiring practices, was blamed by 14 percent.
... The poll results ... were distributed to Republican officials in Frankfort, including Fletcher, as well as the GOP members of the congressional delegation and the Republican Party chairmen of each of the six congressional districts. Questions were asked between June 25 and 29. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Fletcher's chief of staff, Stan Cave, noted that the poll numbers showed a 10 percent increase in approval from a poll conducted last month by an independent tracking group, SurveyUSA. ( ***** UPDATE: See the latest July SurveyUSA poll results here. For a breakdown of the SurveyUSA poll, click here. The Gov.'s disapproval rating is 66%, with 30% approving. This is even worse news for the Gov. than the Republican poll shows. Among the respondents, the Gov. fared worse among women (over 70% disapproval) and in Western Ky (70% disaproval). Notice that his disapproval rating has also risen among Republicans, too! :End UPDATE *****)
"Given that the administration has been under a constant barrage for two years from a liberal press and that we've done nothing to combat that with paid media, it is remarkable that the governor has a 38 percent approval rating," Cave said in an interview before repeating a similar line about the "liberal media" 11 more times.
But perhaps the worst news for Fletcher is that shedding his legal troubles might not even help his re-election bid in 2007.
Cave has said publicly that he expects the charges to be dismissed, which could allow the governor to turn his political fortunes around.
But those asked by the pollsters didn't think so.
Sixty-five percent said that if Fletcher were acquitted it would "make no difference." Sixteen percent said they'd view Fletcher more favorably, while another 16 percent said they'd have a less favorable impression of him.
Even of the Republicans polled, a slightly higher percentage said an acquittal wouldn't change anything.
Virtually the same numbers also held true in the poll when people were asked about the charges being dismissed by the courts. This time, 60 percent said it wouldn't matter, while 14 percent thought it would help and 23 percent said it would hurt their view of him.
Cave said he would throw out the results from the dismissal question because it's "counter-intuitive" that so many people would have a less favorable opinion of Fletcher than they did before. "I think that is proof that those polled did not understand that question," he said. "You can't make sense out of that answer." (But see a very EFFECTIVE rebuttal here!), and read the pollster's different interpretation: "It is less about whether the governor is guilty or innocent, acquitted or not, it is more about ending the political theatre as quickly as possible," van Lohuizen wrote. "Combined with the very high percent of voters who say they would vote to give someone else a chance to do better, this is very bad news indeed," he concluded in the memo addressed to Republican Party Chairman Darrell Brock.
... Republican Senate President David Williams said the week before these poll numbers were released that Fletcher needs to weigh empirical evidence.
"He's an adult. He can read the polls. And he can make his own decisions," he said. "And if someone wants to stand forward and challenge him in a primary, that will determine whether he can win."

Are the odds indeed dwindling?


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Our democracy is for sale. Is Sen. Hillary Clinton leading the way?

I am one of those few out there who decry the current political atmosphere which shows clearly that our democracy is for sale. No wonder many voters are turned off by it and tune out the electoral process altogether. I am sure some will disagree with me, and argue instead that campaign contributions represent free speech. But where free speech ends and corruption via influence peddling begins ought to be VERY clear.

Check out Senator Clinton's war chest.

No one can argue, with a straight face, that when campaign contributors pour money into a political campaign that they are NOT making an economic investment that they hope to yeild future dividends when these contributors receive special favors.
If it were Christmas time one could, possibly, make a claim that campaign contributors are like the three wise men bearing gifts in a celebratory mood for the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.

But elections take place well before Christmas!

The unfortunate by-product of such a democracy as we are now embracing is that it is NOT what our Founders envisioned. Hence, we not only debase what they fought and died for - a truly representative government but NOT one bought and paid for -, but we end up with the best candidates (and elected officials) that money can buy. And, the best and brightest of our fellow citizens shun public service because they refuse to be so corrupted by money. What is worst is that many people will swear that this malady has crept into ALL forms of our government, including our judiciary.

Now, you may ask why I point out the danger with the judiciary. It is because the judiciary is supposed to protect us from the excesses of the other branches of government, and when the rule of law takes a back seat to influence peddling, we might as well trash our BELOVED constitution!!

GOD save us ALL.


** Kudos to Congressman Geoff Davis. **

If you remember last week the U. S. house took the honorable route and voted to renew the Voting Rights Act which I reported here. Well, I never reported on the breakdown of the votes by our House delegation and I should have.
Well, here is the breakdown as reported by the Courier-Journal.
It turns out that Northern Kentucky Congressman, Geoff Davis, came out on top on this one, refusing to join a few of his misguided House Republicans colleagues in voting for various amendments that would have greatly watered down the Act.
So Kudos to Geoff Davis.
You can read the article for yourself to find out why he deserves kudos and the others fared WORSE on this issue.


Friday, July 14, 2006

***** Since Kelo, 'No property is safe.' *****

In view of the STILL ongoing battle in many jurisdictions, including Kentucky, to prevent government abuse of its Eminent Domain power, I thought I post my column , which previously appeared in the Courier-Journal soon after the KELO case was WRONGLY decided by the U. S Supreme Court, on my new blog site, so as to alert those who may NOT understand what is going on with this issue.
Here is my column in its entirety. Enjoy:

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."

Our Founding Father, John Adams, spoke these words to an infant nation reeling from the scars of the tyranny of King George.

In Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court makes it clear our property is no longer sacred. The decision, which allowed local governments to constitutionally seize our private property for economic development, is an occasion to reflect on Adams' words.

Kelo can now join dubious others, like Dred Scott. Scott can be remembered as a decision that helped instigate the Civil War. Then, the Court wrongly invalidated the Missouri Compromise in order to deny Scott, a slave, his unalienable right to liberty.

Kelo has now wrongly invalidated the "People's Compromise" (by which we ceded our unalienable property right to our government for compensated public uses, such as for road or highway construction) in order to deny us that liberty.

While our Constitution requires a public "use" to seize private property, Kelo required only a public "purpose."
Understandably, this judicial legislating prompted Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to proclaim that no private property is safe.
Until a conservative majority of the Court rights this wrong, we must continually have liberty proclaimed throughout our land, and elect judges and legislators who will protect our property rights -- not covet them.

Attorney at Law
Bowling Green, Ky. 42102


Court hands victory to Fletcher; dismisses Nighbert's indictment.

In a win for Fletcher and a defeat for Stumbo, the Franklin Circuit Judge handling the merit system investigation has dismissed (without prejudice) the Grand Jury indictment of Transportation Cabinet Secretary, Bill Nighbert.
Read the story here.
The court found that the conduct, which formed the basis for the now dismissed indictment, was partially covered by the Gov.'s blanket pardons. The Court also, by dismissing the indictment without prejudice, left open the possibility that the Grand Jury can issue a re-indictment in the case, but ONLY for post pardon offenses.

But on a more important note without being overly critical, it seems to me that the issue is so elementary and its import so obvious that Stumbo should have known NOT to seek an indictment based on conduct covered by the indictment. I recall, maybe I am wrong in stating this, Stumbo's office assuring us that the indictment was based on facts that post date the blanket pardons. If so, did Stumbo's office mislead us then, and more importantly, have Stumbo's people mislead the Grand Jurors?


An update from Mark Hebert on Fletcher's smoking ban "boo-boo".

By Mark Hebert: Governor Fletcher was smoking mad after his, and his administration's, poor performance at a news conference to announce a smoking ban in all state buildings.
Sources tell me Fletcher had a post news conference pow-wow with his top staff, ripping them for being unprepared and failing to have answers to the most basic questions from reporters. Fletcher was rightfully embarrassed.For those of you who haven't heard, the smoking ban presser devolved quickly, almost as soon as reporters started asking questions. Does this ban impact the Capitol Annex cafeteria? Fletcher says "yes", then Jim Abbott of the Finance Cabinet steps to the mic, and says "no".
Fletcher was then huddling with staff and sending others out of the room to try and track down the basic information he (and they) should have had before the news conference. More basic questions and a bunch of "we're not sures" later, reporters were left scratching their heads about the practical impact of the smoking ban. It was another embarrassment for Fletcher and he rightfully took some of it out on his staff, according to what sources are telling me. I've only seen Fletcher get really mad a couple of times, and that was at me, so I don't know how he handles subordinates. But he does have a healthy temper behind the casual demeanor. Although the smoking ban stories were largely positive, because that was the true news of the day, the performance at the news conference left many reporters saying "just another screw up by the Fletcher administration".

Check out my "oh, brother" original post below. However, this "boo-boo" MUST NOT distract from the positives of what the Gov. has done to save people in state government buildings from death by passive smoking.


**** AP Poll numbers portend Republican mid-term elections disasters. ****

The Associated Press, AP, is reporting on the results of its latest polls which show that Americans are itching to vote and give Democrats mid-term elections euphoria.
Read the story here.
Here are excerpts:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans are in jeopardy of losing their grip on Congress in November. With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll (of adults had a margin of error of 3 percentage points and the survey of registered voters had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points) found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.
Further complicating the GOP outlook to turn things around is a solid percentage of liberals, moderates and even conservatives who say they'll vote Democratic. The party out of power also holds the edge among persuadable voters, a prospect that doesn't bode well for the Republicans.
... The AP-Ipsos survey asked 789 registered voters if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats were favored 51 percent to 40 percent. ...
One bright spot for the GOP is that Republicans hold an advantage over Democrats on issues such as foreign policy and fighting terrorism - 43 percent to 33 percent - and a smaller edge on handling Iraq - 36 percent to 32 percent.

As many of you know, I'm NOT a big fan of polls. I understand very well how polls can be used by miscreants to manipulate and change public opinion towards a favored position, person or group. I am particularly skeptical of these "self-serving" polls, and disdain them. However, there are polls that just attempt to guage public opinion, without influencing it, and this AP poll appears to be one of them.
So what does the AP poll REALLY tell us? It is this: (1) that Republicans are in danger of losing control of Congress IF, and ONLY IF (a big IF, mind you), the Democrats can get their act together and nationalize the elections; and (2) that Republicans can keep their control of Congress, if (and this is a small if) they make foreign policy and fighting terrorism the issues. Need I say more?

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

House votes to renew Voting Rights Act, defeats amendments.

The U. S. House of Representatives today, in a long overdue and bold legislative act, voted UNANIMOUSLY, 390-33, to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another 25 years.
The Act, which supporters demanded citing a few examples that show a continued need for the Act's protection, was passed over the objections of distractors who claimed certain provisions were unneeded.
The distractors claimed that southern states were not being given credit for changes they had made since the 1960s. That controversy centered on two issues -- extra scrutiny for mostly southern states with a legacy of voting discrimination against minorities and a requirement to provide bilingual ballots to citizens with poor English.

While I am NOT too keen on the requirement for bilingual ballots (since it is my belief that immigrants need to learn basic english for their own survival in their adoptive American motherland), I, like many minorities who continue to fight the legacy of evil Jim Crow, expect the Senate to quickly emulate the House's galantary and approve the Act's renewal.
(UPDATE: Senate overwhelmingly approves the bill and sends it to the President who has signed it into law).

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Spin, talking points replace honest debate.

Here is a very insightful column by Jerry Shaw, a Contributing Columnist. The column makes for a very interesting reading and, most importantly, it is BRUTALLY honest -- a characteristic that is sorely lacking in this day and age, particularly when it comes to the political arena.

Tell me what you think by posting your comments below. Now for the column:

Political discourse in this country is fast becoming an oxymoron. Liberals and conservatives have lost the ability to debate and the ability to compromise.
Control of our government has become a trophy. It is the ultimate pot at the end of the rainbow. Winning has become the most important thing in politics and our culture.
Politicians mold any argument around their parties' ideology. They create catch-phrases or talking points to explain or attack the other party. Party leaders and the people who make up the party's base chant these incessantly.
About 30 percent of voters make up the Democrats' base. Many of these folks are liberals, defined by conservatives as godless or non-Christians, members of rather wacky religions (i.e. Scientology), lovers of big government, environmentalist whackos, college professors and educators in general. The rest seem to consist of most African-American voters, union members and the poor who vote.
About 30 percent of voters make up the Republican base. These folks tend to be very conservative, defined by liberals as intolerant Christians, most wealthy businessmen, the upper-middle class, middle-class business owners and blindly patriotic Southerners.
Neither of these lists is official nor all-inclusive. That leaves the 40 percent of us who fall into the "swing vote" category. We listen to both sides and decide for ourselves which candidate makes the most sense. We bristle at the attack ads, knowing the truth is somewhere in the middle.
In political circles we would be wafflers, still listening to both sides of an issue before making up our minds. If "wafflers" is not the word of the day, we may be labeled unprincipled -- we don't examine things through conservative or liberal filters first -- and we don't need to thank the various talking heads sent out to chant the talking points for that day.
We don't vote straight tickets, and we are hard to predict.
Pick any current political issue and then tune into CNN, Fox, KET, local TV stations, or local or national talk radio. You will hear the same old catchwords and phrases used by both parties. Usage depends on which side has the moral high ground on that particular day.
Democrats and Republicans no longer debate issues. They label behavior and ideas. They attempt to divert attention from the issues. It's the result of too many lawyers in politics.
Look at just three typical political phrases being thrown around lately by TV and radio talkers when a politician has been caught red-handed.
"It's a witch hunt." Translation: He is probably guilty, and the opposing party is playing it up in the press. Draw negative attention to the other side by questioning their motives. Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Attorney General Greg Stumbo know a little something about that spin.
"It's politically motivated." Translation: He is guilty, but he is being persecuted/prosecuted only because of his political beliefs. Please disregard the evidence and focus on the motive for this investigation. Please disregard our side's motive. Divert! Divert! Divert! In case folks in charge in Frankfort are wondering, most of us understand that anything involving politicians is political.
"They did it, too." Translation: Yes, let us revert to our childhood days on the playground. If we can't argue the merits, let's drag our opponents down with us. We said we would clean up Frankfort. We meant we would clean out all those nasty Democrats in Frankfort.
Was that unclear?
Where is Henry Clay when you need him?

... And where is Abraham Lincoln when the Commonwealth and the nation desperately need him?


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Haliburton's contract up for renewal ...

... evokes the "oh, boy! Here we go, again!!" response from me.

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Saddam goes on hunger strike.

Saddam and cronies go on hunger strike, which begs the ultimate question: why should anyone care if "the butcher of Bagdad" wants to starve himself to death? Would he NOT be doling out his own medicine ... to himself, considering he did the same thing to many of his country men, women and children?

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Northup family.

This site, its operator and readers join the rest of the Commonwealth and the country in expressing heartfelt condolences to Congresswoman, Anne Northup, and her family on the untimely death of Joshua Northup. May Joshua's soul rest in peace.


**** Dead man walking? ****

Interesting words used to describe the Gov.'s political life. It surely appears that even U. S. Sen. Bunning, who until now was a staunch supporter of the Gov.'s is, like State Sen. David Williams, wavering in that support.
Read the story here.
Here are excerpts:
WASHINGTON -- Just 10 months ago, U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted that Gov. Ernie Fletcher would be nominated for a second term in 2007 and noted, "I think that would be best for the party."
But Tuesday, Bunning refused to say whether he would support Fletcher for re-election.
The Southgate Republican said he has "watched with interest what's going on back in Kentucky," but added that, for now, he has been focusing on this year's federal elections.
Fletcher's approval rating has fallen below 30 percent in some polls, making him one of the most unpopular governors in the country and raising questions in Republican circles about whether he can be re-elected.
"Top Republicans in Kentucky are coming to the realization that Ernie Fletcher is a dead man walking," Baranowski said. "It seems like the governor is perhaps the last person to recognize that."
For his part, Bunning dodged questions Tuesday about whether Fletcher can win another term, saying he would have a better idea after this year's federal elections in November.
Asked if he thought Fletcher would draw an opponent in the Republican primary, Bunning recalled that there were several other candidates in the primary when he ran for governor back in 1983. "So the chances of everybody being primaried in the governor's race are pretty good," he said.

My observation is that these are NOT the comforting words of a staunch supporter!


Oh, brother!

This latest one leaves one scratching one's head, doesn't it?


David Hawpe takes on critics of Liberal New York Times ... and slams Liberal KY blogger.

David Hawpe, Courier-Journal editorial page Editor, in his column today takes issue with the attacks on the New York Times piece regarding Bush's clandenstine(?) monitoring of financial transactions of "terror" groups. He also takes issue with Bluegrassreports blog operator for taking the Gov. to court for banning certain blogs, etc. on state computers.
Read it here.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with Mr. Hawpe on the twin issues presented, the gist of this post is that David Hawpe stands on principles which he believes and defends the same (without first deciding if the offender is liberal or conservative). This is an admirable trait found in Mr. Hawpe that many do NOT have.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Steve Pence exercises prosecutorial restraint. By Derek Combs.

A reader, Derek Combs, former Chair of the Young Republican Federation and a former Chair of the Republican Party from Mt. Sterling, sent me this article that he wanted published on this site. Anyone who wants to have any articles published here can email it to me. Here is Derek's post. Tell him what you think about it by commenting below::

An Editorial Article in a recent issue of the Lexington Herald Leader (July 2, 2006 Sunday Paper) prompted me to write this article. I was somewhat surprised by the article, as it was presented. The article was entitled: FRIGHTENING MISUSE OF FEDERAL POWER. It should have been entitled, "Federal Prosecutor Exercises Prosecutorial Restraint" or it could have been entitled, "Steve Henry Pleas Guilty to Federal Charges" or it could just as easily have been titled:"Frightening Misuse of the First Amendment".
The article as it appeared in the Herald Leader was very much a "Puff Piece" for Steve Henry and an attack piece on Mr. Steve Pence.
The bottom line facts are these:
First, Steve Henry entered the agreement with the United States five months after Mr. Pence left the United States Attorney's Office. It is an unfathomable stretch to allege that this case was "Politically" motivated. Why? Because Steve Pence recommended AGAINST CRIMINAL PROSECUTION Or Criminal Indictment. The civil matter was settled by another US Attorney months after Pence left office and it had the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice. Now, Mr. Henry denied any intent to defraud. However, he did acknowledge that he received payments from Medicaid and Medicare to which he was not entitled and for services that he neither performed nor supervised. Mr. Henry not only paid a restitution, but agreed to pay a penalty which was twice the amount of the loss. Those are the facts. Now, here is my article:

Steve Pence Exercises Prosecutorial Restraint.
Steve Pence is married to Ruth Ann Cox. Ruth Ann is a partner in the law firm of Pedley, Zielke, Gordinier & Pence in Louisville. Ruth Ann earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with Highest Honors in political science from the University of Louisville and her Juris Doctor from the Brandeis School of Law. She was admitted to practice law in Kentucky in 1984 and in Texas in 1993. Ruth Ann worked for several years in private practice and as the head of legal services for a public company before returning to private practice where she remains today. Ruth Ann is a member of the Metropolitan Republican Women’s Club in Louisville where she served as secretary for two years and president for two years. She is a member of and teaches Sunday School at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Louisville. She is also a devoted runner.
Steve Pence is an accomplished former Federal Prosecutor and accomplished attorney in his own right. Steve Pence gives money to good causes and favors free speech as well as individual constitutional rights.
If this guy could be unfairly targeted by local paper editorials, what do you think could happen to you?
That question can't be tossed aside because Pence is also the Lieutenant Governor and clearly could be a candidate for some future office.
In 2002, it came to the attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office that Mr. Steve Henry, in wreckless disregard of the truth, falsely submitted or caused to be submitted a substantial number of claims for payment to the Medicare and Medicaid Programs. It also came to the Federal Governments attention that between October 1996 and February 2001, Dr. Henry billed and caused others to bill Medicare and Medicaid for surgeries when he was not present or immediately available for these surgeries. The Government concluded that it had certain administrative claims against Dr. Henry for engaging in the covered conduct. The full details of the United States' case were set out in a complaint, a full copy of which is available.
Despite all of the evidence that mounted against Dr. Steve Henry, then-U.S. Attorney Steve Pence recommended against criminal prosecution. Mr. Pence did acknowledge that Dr. Henry's misconduct was serious, systematic and showed a wide-spread pattern by Dr. Henry.
With all of this information and evidence in hand, Steve Pence recommended against criminal prosecution. Mr. Pence chose not to ask for a criminal indictment because the matter was best handled civilly.
Henry admitted that he and/or his office was guilty of the charges by settling with the U.S. Government. He not only paid resititution but agreed to pay a penalty which was twice the amount of the loss.
Years after this action, no one has mentioned any misconduct on Mr. Pence's part...until the Herald Leaders Editorial on July 2nd, 2006.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader: "One person who worked in the same area as Henry has been indicted. In late May, a woman who supervised the billing operations during the time of Henry's questionable billings, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud for embezzling more than $74,000. She faces up to 60 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. Last week, the office of U.S. Attorney David Huber in Louisville issued a written statement in response to questions about these two cases and declined further comment. The statement said Huber's office is "satisfied that there is no connection" between the cases.
I would think that Steve Pence could rightly conclude that the Herald Leaders Editorial may have exacted some political damage to him personally. I'm sure the Herald Leader would claim that to be absolutely false.
Whatever the motive, it seems clear that Pence was singled out by the Lexington Herald Leader and accused publicly with very little reason.
That is scary.
It's not scary because it might affect Pence's political career. It's scary because it could happen to anyone.
Free Speech and Freedom of the Press is a wonderful, elegant right of the American People, powerful enough to protect our rights even from the government itself. It is wrong and dangerous to misuse.


After U. S. Supreme Court's smackdown, Bush changes mind and visits Geneva.

After the U. S. Supreme Court handed President Bush a smackdown, by denying his request to find that his executive privilege allowed him to bypass Congress and set up military tribunals to try Gitmo detainees in secrecy, the President has now discovered Geneva -- yep, the Geneva Conventions.
Read the story here.

I commend President Bush for taking the actions he has taken in this regard, though it took the Supreme Court's "poke in the eye" to get his attention. It is hoped that the President will also reach out to Congress to get authorization to set up these tribunals, as he should have done in the first place, since the Presidency is NOT a Monarchy.

Clearly to me, Congress is the MORE representative of the people than is the President, and the President's gitmo detention and trials actions SHOULD emanate from the people themselves, through their duly elected representatives in Congress.

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Fletcher makes the right move; bans smoking in state buildings.

Considering all the bad press the Gov. has been receiving for his bad political moves, and considering the Surgeon General's damning report of the ills of second-hand cigarette smoking, the Gov. is right to ban smoking in all government buildings controlled by the executive branch.

Here is a press release from the Gov.'s office:

Executive Order will take effect August 1
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher signed an executive order today to prohibit smoking in state offices and common areas occupied by the executive branch beginning Aug. 1. State government joins a growing list of Kentucky businesses, organizations and cities to enact smoking bans, following the passage of House Bill 55 by the 2006 Kentucky General Assembly.
Officials from the Health and Family Services and Finance and Administration Cabinets, the Kentucky League of Cities, tobacco control advocacy groups and representatives from state universities joined Governor Fletcher to show support for the ban. The move comes on the heels of HB 55, which takes effect July 12 and gives the executive branch, local governments and universities the authority to prohibit smoking in government-owned buildings across the state.
“This is an unprecedented step toward creating healthier work environments for thousands of state employees, as well as many members of the general public, who will no longer be exposed to secondhand smoke at state offices,” said Governor Fletcher. “Kentucky ranks first among the states in the rate of adults who smoke and has the second highest percentage of pregnant women who smoke. This is an important first step in combating the harmful effects of smoking.” "I would like to thank Representative Nunn and his colleagues in the 2006 General Assembly for allowing state and local governments and universities the authority to institute restrictions on smoking at the facilities they own,” Governor Fletcher added.
Rep. Steve Nunn (R-Glasgow) said, “This bill was a collaborative effort among the Governor’s Office, the Finance Cabinet, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties. It is an important bill for all those involved and public health in general.”
Smoke-free policies are considered crucial steps in reducing the amount of exposure to secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and reducing smoking rates. In late June, the United States Surgeon General issued a report on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, including premature disease and death in nonsmoking kids and adults.
“Smoking is a principal cause for lung disease and heart disease and has been associated with numerous types of cancer,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of the Department for Public Health and acting undersecretary for health for CHFS. “Our tobacco prevention and cessation program strongly advocates smoking bans on a local level. I’m glad to see state government follow in the footsteps of other entities around the state and the nation that have already taken this important step.”
According to DPH, tobacco use accounts for 7,691 deaths a year in Kentucky and 400,000 deaths nationwide. Kentucky has the highest smoking rate in the country and the second highest prevalence of pregnant women who smoke.
“In the new global world in which our communities must make their way, citizens must increasingly make the important decisions that will lead to a high quality of life, including cost efficient government for citizens — both those already there and those who are increasingly attracted to our beautiful commonwealth,” said Sylvia Lovely, CEO of the Kentucky League of Cities. “House Bill 55 provides a mechanism that enables those governments who represent the citizens of tomorrow to make these important decisions.”
Finance and Administration and CHFS will lead efforts to ensure the smoking ban is put into effect beginning Aug. 1. Additional prevention and cessation programs designed to encourage employee wellness will continue.
Since April, state employees have had access to a new smoking cessation benefit through the state health insurance plan. The benefit covers up to three months of nicotine replacement therapy for employees using the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line or attending a Cooper/Clayton tobacco session class (offered at local health departments). State employees can learn more about this benefit at the Personnel Cabinet's Wellness Works Web site at
For help quitting, call toll free (800)-QUITNOW or the tobacco coordinator in your local health department.

So from me I say: breathe free or die. That's the reality!


Is Senator Lieberman getting ready to BOLT from the Democratic party?

One wonders if U. S. Senator Lieberman from Connecticut, Joseph Leiberman, is getting ready to bolt from the Democratic party.
Read the story here.
The essence of the news is that he has filed paperwork yesterday that will allow him to collect signatures to petition his way onto the November ballot if he loses an August primary.
Lieberman also filed papers with the secretary of the state's office Monday to create a new party called Connecticut for Lieberman.
The three-term senator faces a tough Aug. 8 primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. Lieberman, criticized by fellow Democrats for his support of the war in Iraq and a perceived closeness with President Bush, is popular among many unaffiliated and Republican voters in Connecticut.

One wonders if Senator Lieberman will become the next Independent?

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Kentucky Court of Appeals rules mostly in favor of Fletcher.

The special Franklin County grand jury investigating personnel actions in Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration cannot issue indictments against anyone covered by his pardons, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.
The appellate court also said the grand jury may issue a general report of its investigation, but it cannot name or identify any pardoned or unindicted person ... and must be issued under seal and cannot be made public until notice is given to parties involved and any hearing, if requested, is held.
He has previously issued a broad pardon for those who have been indicted by the grand jury, excluding himself, for allegedly basing hiring decisions for state merit jobs on political affiliation rather than qualifications. Yesterday's court ruling said all post-pardon indictments should be dismissed.
Sheryl Snyder, a Louisville attorney representing Fletcher, said the ruling "brings to a conclusion the attorney general's efforts to negate the amnesty". Vicki Glass, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office, said in a statement that "A grand Jury report will be issued following a review by the Circuit Court," [and] "The Court of Appeals has again confirmed that the governor's pardon has no effect whatsoever on the grand jury's investigation of post pardon criminal conduct and no impact on the criminal prosecution of the governor." She said Stumbo's office has no plans to appeal yesterday's ruling.

To those who may not know it, the Court's ruling means that the 14 sealed indictments must be dismissed and the Grand Jury's report must be sealed, temporarily, until the Circuit Court reviews it to ensure conformity with the Supreme Court's earlier ruling sanctioning the Gov.'s power to pardon those already indicted.

Stay tuned for further news reports as they become available.

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Forcing faith is what Dictators do!

Here is the link to my article that was published in the Courier-Journal. It is published below in its entirety.

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." -- Justice Robert Jackson in Virginia Board of Education v Barnette (1943).

As a citizen and Patriot who immigrated to America alone as a teen over 26 years ago, I, too, love my country and would not burn its flag. However, those like Heather French Henry who insist on a constitutional amendment to punish the misguided few flag burners are elevating form (the symbolic flag) over substance (the Constitution) and attempting to use a constitutional "missile" to crush offensive flag-burning "gnats."

We must, therefore, heed the Court's admonition about forcing faith. Only dictatorships and oppressive regimes, such as Saddam Hussein's former Iraqi regime and North Korea, delight in doing so. And we ought not to join their ignominious company!

So while I admire Mrs. Henry's "activism" on the flag burning issue, as reported in the Courier-Journal article of June 30, entitled Henry recounts record, reasons for her activism, I must disagree with some of her comments:

(1) Contrary to her assertions contained in her letter to Editor, the U. S. Supreme Court did not "re-interpret the Constitution's definition of speech … to fit their political agenda." There was never a previous interpretation by the Court regarding flag burning as it relates to the first amendment to “re-interpret”, and the Court's members, who do not have to run for office, have no political agenda.
(2) The 14th Amendment corrected the Court in the Dred Scott case to give to black people protection mentioned by the drafters of the Constitution. There is no corollary mention of the flag by those same drafters.
(3) Mrs. Henry’s quotation of Abraham Lincoln recognized the revocability of Supreme Court opinions. This merely suggests that pro-amendment folks need to convince the Court to change its mind on this issue, rather than to seek constitutional amendment.
(4) It is illegal to burn the dollar (which incidentally is a more widely recognized American symbol around the world than our flag!) because it is government property. A flag belongs to its owner who purchased the same.
(5) Reciting the pledge of allegiance is not a binding contract; consideration may be lacking if not inadequate. Rather, the act is based on faith.

Thus, there is no reason to question the priorities of our leaders, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, as Henry does, when they vote to protect our Constitution from those who would use it for political expediency in an election year.