This blog site is dedicated to those of us who are interested in seeking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about events that impact our lives. The site is NOT a Republican or Democratic site. Therefore, there will be NO "spinning" of the facts or "slanting" of the news to favor or disfavor any person, party or group. All of my comments and opinions will flow naturally and be logically supported.
WASHINGTON — I have this strange feeling that we are about to be badly misled about the political climate in this country. We are going to look at the returns on the biggest Republican victory in 16 years and think that it spells doom for the Democrats and a shift to the right in our politics. And we will be wrong.
The size of the Republican gain will be exaggerated by the severity of their losses in the preceding elections. They will pick up many seats in the House, perhaps 50 or so, because they lost so many in 2006 and 2008.
A more realistic way of gauging their strength will be to ask about the size of their majority. And it is likely to be minuscule. If it reaches double digits, Republicans will have done very well. More likely, Ohio's John Boehner will be elected speaker by a handful of votes.
Moreover, it appears increasingly likely that Republicans will have to share control of Congress with a Democratic Senate. For the first time in eight decades, a shift in control of the House may not be accompanied by a similar shift in the Senate. The mandate that is being given the GOP is of the most provisional sort.
What this means to me is that the voters are withholding any real verdict on their party preference. The polling says that the ratings they give the parties individually have rarely been weaker. Large majorities of Republicans express doubts about the GOP. And large majorities of Democrats about their own party.
Why the suspended judgment? Just look at the landscape. Neither party can claim success on the most urgent task, providing an economic blueprint that allows people to lead their lives with confidence. The stewardship of George W. Bush and the Republicans was a disaster. The Democrats and Barack Obama have been only marginally more successful.
Who in either party has put forward explanations of economic forces that make sense to most voters? No one. The steadiest voice has come from an unelected official, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. And the bearded academic is hardly a pop figure. He disdains both political parties and most politicians.
Congress is notably devoid of economic giants. When debates take place in the Senate, the Democratic side is often led by a lame duck, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who decided early this year not to seek re-election. On the Republican side, Bob Bennett of Utah, perhaps the GOP's most credentialed and experienced spokesman, was knocked off in a state party room-sized convention and has not been replaced.
In the House, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has assumed the role of analyst and provocateur. But no one on the Democratic bench has taken up his challenge, so it is a dialogue of the deaf at this point.
What is true of the economic debate is equally the case when it comes to other issues. Neither party regularly presents compelling spokesmen making articulate arguments.
The public rightly senses that the campaign rhetoric is shopworn, gauzy stuff, not substantial enough for the wear and tear of the real world.
With the recent exodus of three key White House economic figures — the budget director, the chief economist and the overall economics coordinator — there is a temporary gap in the executive branch as well.
No wonder the voters are uncertain. So are the policymakers.
David S. Broder is a columnist with The Washington Post. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Barring a huge upset, Republicans will take control of at least one house of Congress next week. How worried should we be by that prospect? Divided We Fail. By Paul Krugman
Not very, say some pundits. After all, the last time Republicans controlled Congress while a Democrat lived in the White House was the period from the beginning of 1995 to the end of 2000. And people remember that era as a good time, a time of rapid job creation and responsible budgets. Can we hope for a similar experience now?
No, we can’t. This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.
Start with the politics.
In the late-1990s, Republicans and Democrats were able to work together on some issues. President Obama seems to believe that the same thing can happen again today. In a recent interview with National Journal, he sounded a conciliatory note, saying that Democrats need to have an “appropriate sense of humility,” and that he would “spend more time building consensus.” Good luck with that.
After all, that era of partial cooperation in the 1990s came only after Republicans had tried all-out confrontation, actually shutting down the federal government in an effort to force President Bill Clinton to give in to their demands for big cuts in Medicare.
Now, the government shutdown ended up hurting Republicans politically, and some observers seem to assume that memories of that experience will deter the G.O.P. from being too confrontational this time around. But the lesson current Republicans seem to have drawn from 1995 isn’t that they were too confrontational, it’s that they weren’t confrontational enough.
Another recent interview by National Journal, this one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has received a lot of attention thanks to a headline-grabbing quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: “We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.” So this time around, he implied, they’ll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama.
True, Mr. McConnell did say that he might be willing to work with Mr. Obama in certain circumstances — namely, if he’s willing to do a “Clintonian back flip,” taking positions that would find more support among Republicans than in his own party. Of course, this would actually hurt Mr. Obama’s chances of re-election — but that’s the point.
We might add that should any Republicans in Congress find themselves considering the possibility of acting in a statesmanlike, bipartisan manner, they’ll surely reconsider after looking over their shoulder at the Tea Party-types, who will jump on them if they show any signs of being reasonable. The role of the Tea Party is one reason smart observers expect another government shutdown, probably as early as next spring.
Beyond the politics, the crucial difference between the 1990s and now is the state of the economy.
When Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, the U.S. economy had strong fundamentals. Household debt was much lower than it is today. Business investment was surging, in large part thanks to the new opportunities created by information technology — opportunities that were much broader than the follies of the dot-com bubble.
In this favorable environment, economic management was mainly a matter of putting the brakes on the boom, so as to keep the economy from overheating and head off potential inflation. And this was a job the Federal Reserve could do on its own by raising interest rates, without any help from Congress.
Today’s situation is completely different. The economy, weighed down by the debt that households ran up during the Bush-era bubble, is in dire straits; deflation, not inflation, is the clear and present danger. And it’s not at all clear that the Fed has the tools to head off this danger. Right now we very much need active policies on the part of the federal government to get us out of our economic trap.
But we won’t get those policies if Republicans control the House. In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.
So if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Bigger Than Beck? Huge Crowd Attends Restore Sanity Rally.
Read more below:
Bigger than Beck? Huge crowd attends Restore Sanity rally Steven Thomma and David Lightman - McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Three days before hotly contested national elections, a pair of comedians drew tens of thousands to the National Mall on Saturday with a blend of jokes and music meant to counter some of the anger and fear they see in the country.
Hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Central network, the event was called the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, with barbs pointed at popular culture, politicians and especially cable TV news - all meant to coax Americans back to a more civil way of disagreeing.
"This is not...to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do," Stewart said as he turned serious in his closing remarks. "But we live now in hard times, not end times. We can have animus and not be enemies."
He lambasted the cable TV news mentality that amplifies outrageous statements, stokes fear and seeks out confrontation, singling out the left-wing media for equating Tea Partiers with racists and the right-wing media for "the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims."
"The press can hold its magnifying class up to our problems," he said. "Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire...The press is our immune system. If they overreact to everything we get sicker."
The message struck a chord with the large throng of people; the National Park Service no longer provides official estimates of crowds, but the National Mall was densely packed with many tens of thousands of people.
"It's the first time a message like this has resonated with me," said Jonathan Dugan, 37, a product engineer who flew from San Francisco to stand on the mall on a sunny fall afternoon. "We need to get people to talk to each other in a meaningful way."
Philip Salvador, 20, yearned for a day when Americans were unified against a foreign enemy, rather then divided in often bitter opposition to one another. "We need the Soviet Bloc back," said the college student from Washington D.C. "It's a better way to keep fear alive."
The rally took on a festive air, with many wearing costumes and carrying irreverent signs. Among the signs: "Give please a chance," "Stir Peanut Butter, Not Anger" and "Does this sign make my butt look big?"
The O'Jays sang their '70s hit, "Love Train." Actor Sam Waterston read a satiric poem about a man who refused to be scared, who would not share "the panic over Hispanics," and ended up killed by a bear.
Other entertainers included Sheryl Crow, Ozzy Osbourne, the Roots, and actor Don Novello portraying Father Guido Sarducci, a character from Saturday Night Live in the 1970s and 1980s.
With its blend of music and jokes, the rally appeared to tap into a growing trend in which entertainment and popular culture blend with politics, particularly for younger Americans.
One out of 10 Americans now get their latest headlines straight from Stewart's Daily Show, according to a summer poll by the non-partisan Pew Research Center.
While there was no official crowd estimate, Stewart mocked the tendency of Washington rallies to claim huge audiences. "We have over 10 million people," he said to laughs.
No one was safe from Stewart's barbs, with video clips of anchors from Fox News as well as CNN, with shouting women on a Real Housewives program, and with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., yelling, "You Lie" during President Barack Obama's health-care speech to Congress in September 2009, and Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., saying that Republicans want the elderly to "die quickly."
If the stage was politically neutral, members of the audience leaned left - with Sarah Palin and Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell top targets.
Mark Foley, 44, an insurance worker from Hartford, Conn., held up a sign with a picture of Palin and the words, "keep fear alive."
"Some folks hoping for President Palin are hoping to keep fear alive," Foley said. "But so are people against her because it helps their cause."
"Look at Christine O'Donnell," said William Cutter, 50, an advertising executive from Washington. "She has come to represent the joke that is this election. She's abundantly unqualified. Jon Stewart has hit a nerve with the American public. No one speaks to the middle."
Liberal groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America worked to tap the crowd for support. President Barack Obama's political operation, Organizing for America, held a "Phone Bank to Restore Sanity" afterward to try to drum up support in Tuesday's elections.
The crowd was a mix of all ages, and included lots of people over 50 who vividly remembered when the same Mall was filled with people protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s or urging a nuclear freeze in the 1980s.
Most claimed that the quest for civility, not partisan advantage, ruled the day.
"I'm really concerned that we're not agreeing on anything," said Jean Mathisen, 63, who runs a seniors fraud-prevention program in Seattle.
Reminded that the country was bitterly divided over Vietnam and civil rights during her youth, she said, "I felt that back then, at least a lot of people wanted to work together."
Carol Schutz, 65, a St. Louis activist, seconded that thought. "I'm really fed up with people fighting each other instead of trying to accomplish something," she said.
The over-50 crowd came from all over. Ken Russell, 57, and three friends got up at 4 a.m. and drove to the rally from Bergen County, New Jersey, near New York City.
Mike Freebery, 53, a Wilmington, Del., lawyer and his wife, Donna, a legal assistant, offered a bipartisan spoof of the Delaware U.S. Senate candidates. Mike came as a bearded Marxist, a takeoff on Delaware Democrat Chris Coons' brief college-age dalliance with Marxism, and his wife was dressed as a witch, a reference to Republican Christine O'Donnell's youthful encounter with witchcraft.
The point, they said, was that neither event should be discussed so much. "People take this kind of politics so seriously. It's ridiculous," said Mike Freebery.
The younger crowd tended to be somewhat flashier — people came dressed as bananas, one woman's body was covered in strategic places with only police tape and Brian Taubeneck, 20, of Salem, Mass., was dressed as a big, white round birth control pill. His cause: Trying to get the government to give women free birth control.
Katie Blackman, 26, a Washington, D.C. animal welfare worker, held a sign saying, "We may disagree, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler."
Judith Sanders, 57, a Fredericksburg, Va., book seller, had a sign demanding "No more unqualified candidates. Show us your grades in U.S. government."
Lilnda McTiernan, 40, a Highland, N.Y. teacher, was particularly appalled at the incident earlier this week where supporters of Kentucky Republican candidate Rand Paul stomped a liberal activist to the ground.
"That was terrible," she said. "I don't think there's any reason for physical violence."
Nobody's “side” wins every election. The pendulum swings, sometimes in directions some of us like, sometimes in directions others prefer. This is shaping up as a gloomy year for voters of a progressive bent, and pollsters and analysts predict that many of them will be too discouraged to vote. That would be a mistake.
Some races remain very close and could be decided by turnout. In others, even the backers of losing candidates can make their voices heard, if they speak in big enough numbers. In any event, there are lots of questions and issues which progressive and moderate independent voters should consider important, think about — and, on Tuesday, express an opinion on them. They include:
Do voters want Washington effectively to sit on its hands about the economy? Republican and tea party bombast about the deficit and spending is irrelevant to the current dilemma. Both pose long-term challenges that will have to be addressed forcefully in better times, but the deficit, the national debt and the bailout and stimulus programs of the Bush and Obama administrations have one thing in common — none of them is responsible for the economic crisis of 2008 or for its lingering impact. A GOP-dominated Congress that plays to the tea party — by focusing (likely more with words than deeds, at that) on the deficit and discretionary spending — will be one that takes no meaningful action to bolster the economy or reduce unemployment.
Most Republican candidates and the tea party contend that the stimulus and bailout bills did no good. Does that view withstand any fair-minded assessment of the facts? Every congressman in the country, including conservative Republicans, can point to jobs in his or her district that the stimulus made possible. The nation's key financial institutions teetered, but they did not collapse — and drag the world into depression. The auto companies are recovering. Would their demise have served national purposes better? Nonpartisan economic studies project that the unemployment rate would have reached 16 percent without the stimulus spending and auto bailout. Would that have been preferable to the present situation?
Republican strategists, the tea party and “hate radio” insist that President Obama foisted an unpopular health care reform on a hostile public that was taken by surprise. Actually, as a presidential candidate in 2008, Mr. Obama stressed his commitment to health care reform and swept to victory. The plan that passed was similar to ones advocated in the past by Republicans. (Liberal Democrats wanted a government-run “public option” that was not enacted.) Do voters really want to return to insurance companies the right to deny or cancel coverage for pre-existing conditions? Do they really want tens of millions of Americans to be unable to afford or find insurance? Would it really be better to repeal this year's historic legislation — as pledged by many Republicans, who most assuredly would not replace it with some other form of genuine reform — than to improve its cost-control mechanisms and address other shortcomings?
Burden of warming
Much is made by Republicans and tea party demagogues of the burdens we are leaving to future generations. They are talking of government debt. But what of leaving them a world facing potentially disastrous climate change? Do Americans really want a government dominated by people who — for economic, ideological or religious reasons — deny the overwhelming body of science that makes clear that such change is occurring?
Finally, certain key American constituencies should think one last time about what is being said in this campaign and consider whether they want to condone it with their silence.
Do African-American voters, for example, want to accept passively the unprecedented trashing of the country's first black president by hate-mongers as a “socialist,” “communist,” “Nazi” or “Muslim terrorist”? Were they not appalled by how long Kentucky's GOP Senate candidate, Rand Paul, contended that businesses should be allowed to practice racial discrimination? Women degraded
Do women notice that the first female speaker of the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi, is personally vilified in ways none of her modern male predecessors has been? How do they feel about their local Republican congressional candidate, Todd Lally, saying that he doesn't believe women still face discrimination and harassment in the workplace?
What can be on the minds of gay groups that advocate staying home on Election Day to punish Mr. Obama for not yet repealing the military's “don't ask, don't tell” policy? In Louisville, such a boycott would aid Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner, who voted against the “Fairness” ordinance barring anti-gay discrimination and contributed $20,000 of his own money to the campaign to attach a prohibition of gay marriage to the Kentucky Constitution.
Again, this is likely to be a year of more setbacks than triumphs for candidates and voters with such concerns. But these are battles that will continue. Being heard, now and beyond, is critically important to the prospects for long-range success. When the polls open Tuesday, the time to speak up will have arrived.
The statement: “(Rand) Paul would eliminate laws that provide: mine safety, environmental protections, a minimum wage, food safety, toy safety and child labor protections.”
— The Kentucky Democratic Party, in a mailing against Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee
The ruling: False
The facts: Paul has said many times that his general philosophy is that federal power should be rolled back in a wide range of areas, and he does favor eliminating some federal agencies. He has called for abolishing the U.S. Department of Education, for instance, which sends more than $400 million annually to Kentucky.
He has questioned the proper role of the federal government in regulating environmental protection, coal-mine safety and other issues. On mining, he said safety oversight would be better if regulations were written and enforced at the local and state levels — something several local officials said was unrealistic.
However, Paul has not called for an end to federal oversight of mine safety or environmental protection. Asked specifically in a May interview on ABC’s Good Morning America if he favored repealing the minimum wage, he said no.
The claim that he would do away with food-safety laws is based on a charge that he wants to kill off the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which Paul says is not true.
The Herald-Leader could find no mention in its archives or on the Internet of Paul taking a stance on toy safety or child labor protections. The state Democratic Party could not immediately cite a source for those claims.
In the ad, the party provided no citations to back up any of its claims.
Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner acknowledged Thursday that he neglected to inform The Courier-Journal during interviews about his private life that he married and divorced in the 1970s before marrying his current wife of 33 years.
The Courier-Journal conducted multiple interviews with Heiner in preparation for a profile story that was published on the front page of Sunday's newspaper. He told The Courier-Journal that he married his high school sweetheart, but he didn't mention his previous marriage because he said it might be “painful” to his ex-wife's family, including her second husband and children.
Heiner married Beth Napier in 1971, at age 19.
The couple divorced in 1975. Napier is now deceased.
“One of the reasons was whether it would be somehow painful to a widower and their children,” Heiner said Thursday. “Second, items that are three or four decades old, and are of no real consequence, don't seem relevant to anything that's happening today.”
An acquaintance of Heiner contacted The Courier-Journal Thursday, expressing disappointment that the story did not mention Napier.
Heiner said he and his wife, Sheila, met during religious studies while he attended Atherton High School, dated and broke up before graduation. He began dating Napier after high school and they married while he was attending Purdue University.
Heiner said he began dating Sheila shortly after the divorce and they married in July 1977.
The Courier-Journal was unable to obtain a copy of Heiner's divorce file Thursday.
Reporter Dan Klepal can be reached at (502) 582-4475
Editor's comment: I guess the CJ is scared that their boy Greg Fisher is gonna lose to Hal Heiner and panic has set in, forcing them to attempt a "LATE HIT" on Hal. Well, it won't work. Sorry, guys and gals.
Following the uproar over Democrat Jack Conway’s ad criticizing his opponent’s college antics and questioning his religious faith, Republican Rand Paul has taken a 12-point lead in Kentucky’s bitter U.S. Senate race.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state, taken Wednesday night, shows Paul with 53% support to Conway’s 41%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and four percent (4%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
After narrowing somewhat last week, the race moves back to where it’s been for most of the year. As a result, it’s moving back from Leans Republican to Solid Republican in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings. In 12 surveys prior to last week, Paul had led by seven to 15 points each time, earning 46% to 59% of the vote. Conway, Kentucky’s current attorney general, picked up 34% to 42% support in those same surveys.
The candidates held their final debate on Monday night, and Democrats are now trying to capitalize on a violent incident outside the debate involving a Paul supporter and an liberal activist. Former President Clinton is scheduled to come to the state on Monday to campaign for Conway.
The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Kentucky was conducted on October 27, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Rand Paul: Law 'properly' bans businesses from discriminating By Bill Estep
The landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act "properly provides" that no business should be able to discriminate against minorities, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul said Thursday, bringing greater clarity to his position on a controversial issue.
Paul's statement, provided to the Herald-Leader, goes beyond what he told the newspaper in response to a questionnaire two weeks ago.
In that statement, Paul condemned discrimination and said businesses should not engage in such conduct, but did not answer the question of whether businesses should be allowed to discriminate.
The question has dogged Paul in his race against Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway since the day after he won the Republican primary.
While answering questions that day on National Public Radio and MSNBC, Paul made statements that many people took to mean he believed the 1964 federal law infringed on property rights by barring discrimination at private businesses.
When the Herald-Leader sought clarification Thursday on whether Paul believes private businesses should be barred from refusing service to minorities, he released this statement through his campaign manager:
"Yes, I believe that the1964 Civil Rights Act properly provides that no business should be able to discriminate. I have said repeatedly that I abhor discrimination, that it was a stain upon our nation, and that the situation required the remedy of legislation to end the problem."
Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said Paul had said the same thing publicly before, but did not provide a specific example.
In an earlier, written answer to the newspaper on the same question, Paul said: "Discrimination is wrong and I do not think private businesses, individuals, or the government should discriminate."
Three other candidates were very clear in their initial responses on whether private businesses should be allowed to discriminate against minorities.
"No," Conway said. "My opponent's ugly opposition to fundamental provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act — prohibiting discrimination by private businesses — has no place in our society."
"Absolutely not," said 6th District U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, a Democrat. "The Supreme Court has spoken strongly on this matter, and it is settled. We have come so far since the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, we shouldn't move backward."
Chandler's Republican opponent, Lexington lawyer Andy Barr, said, "Absolutely not. I fully support the Civil Rights Act's prohibition on racial discrimination."
Social-justice activists had said they were concerned that Paul, in his first response, did not say directly that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate.
Saying businesses should not discriminate is not the same as saying they should not be allowed to do so, several said.
"You should not do child labor versus you cannot" would be a similar concept, said Richard Mitchell, a long-time board member of the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice.
Racism persists in America and some businesses would bar minority customers if allowed, said Reginald Thomas, former chair of the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice.
"We saw what our society was like 50 years ago when there was not that kind of prohibition," Thomas said.
Mitchell said he thinks Paul's subsequent statement shows he agrees the civil rights law is legitimate.
"I think the guy wants to be elected," he said.
Controversy has smoldered — and at times flared — during the general election over Paul's stance on discrimination by businesses.
Paul said in a MSNBC interview on May 19 that he abhors racism and that he was "absolutely in favor" of the parts of the law that bar discrimination by government entities.
But he also said that one part of the act "deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would've tried to modify that."
Paul did not say yes or no that day when pressed on whether private businesses should be allowed to refuse service to African-Americans or others, but rather gave an analogy about free speech.
"Should we limit racists from speaking?" Paul said. "I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way, in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires ..."
Two days later, Paul clarified that he would have voted for the civil-rights act if he were in the U.S. Senate at the time.
Paul's comments on MSNBC were consistent with a 2002 letter he wrote about housing laws, in which he said private entities should not be barred from discriminating.
"Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered," Paul wrote. "A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination — even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."
Paul's comments in May caused such a furor that the Republican-controlled state Senate felt compelled to pass a resolution in support of the federal Civil Rights Act, 46 years after it was passed.
The issue has come up several times since.
On Monday, for instance, a Democratic county party officer who called in during a televised debate between Paula and Conway alleged that Paul thinks "it would be up to the lunch counter owners to determine who might be served."
The question raised memories of an ugly time in the South when African-Americans were refused service at privately-owned establishments, and beaten or arrested for trying to integrate them.
However, Paul insisted during the debate that his position on the civil rights act has been misconstrued, and that he had never said he believed in anything remotely resembling segregated lunch counters.
Thomas, former chair of the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice, which helps people with complaints of discrimination, said he takes Paul at his word that he is not a racist.
But not everyone is so honestly motivated, he and others said.
William Cofield of Frankfort, president of the Kentucky chapter of the NAACP, recalled Lester Maddox, who closed his Atlanta restaurant in the mid-1960s rather than serve African-Americans — reportedly wielding an ax handle at one point to turn away activists — and later won a term as governor of Georgia.
"There would be other Lester Maddoxes around" without the civil-rights act, Cofield said.
Thomas said he has heard an argument that pressure from good people would prevent discrimination by business owners, but pointed out that didn't hold true in the South for a long time before the 1964 law.
"What's changed about human nature in the last 50 years?" he said.
The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, found that since the last Bluegrass Poll earlier this month, women have begun moving to Paul, wiping out what had been a big advantage among them for Conway.
That, along with overwhelming support from people who back the tea party movement, has turned a tenuous two-point edge into a 52-43 lead for Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist.
Paul leads in all but a few demographic groups, and his margin puts him in position to win in a landslide, which is generally considered to be 10 percentage points or more, if voters continue the trend in his direction.
Paul and Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, are running to replace U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican who didn’t seek a 3rd term.
Editor's note: Wanna read more? Follow this link. Check out the pie chart, and the poll's demographics below also:
Editor's comment: I'm tickled to read that jack CONway is a "COOKED GOOSE"!
"More Than Just Regularly Scheduled Elections On The Ballot".
COMMONWEALTHOF KENTUCKY OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OFSTATE RE: More Than Just Regularly Scheduled Elections on the Ballot DATE: October 27, 2010
Some voters will have more decisions to make for election day on November 2, 2010. A number of counties will see races for the unexpired terms of judicial offices and Commonwealth’s Attorneys, as well as some local referenda questions on their ballot, in addition to regularly scheduled elections.
“A large number of Kentucky voters will have races for unexpired terms and local referenda questions on the ballot when they head to the polls on November 2, 2010,” stated Secretary Grayson. “Voters should prepare for this election by determining the races for which they are eligible to cast a ballot and by researching the candidates and local issues that will be on the ballot.”
Voters can access sample ballots online or via their county clerk to determine which races will be on the ballot.
Most notably, a large number of unexpired-term judicial races will be on the ballot in 2010, including:
CIRCUIT “FAMILY”JUDGES (unexpired term)
County of: Kenton Circuit Judge 16th Judicial Circuit 5th Division
County of: Campbell Circuit Judge 17th Judicial Circuit 3rd Division
Counties of: Clark & Madison Circuit Judge 25th Judicial Circuit 3rd Division
Before Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, minority voter suppression schemes were quite common, especially in the segregated South. Potential voters were threatened with bodily harm and sometimes death. There were threats of being fired or evicted. When those tactics didn't work, “uppity” minorities were required to take literacy tests, which besides being unconstitutional were laughable since the exams were sometimes administered by people who couldn't have read the answers with guns to their heads.
Over time, overt voter intimidation gave away to subtle efforts; for example, politically motivated registrars purging the voting rolls, with special emphasis on eliminating minorities, and on Election Days, minority voters often showing up only to be told that their polling places had been moved, or that — oops! — there weren't enough ballots to accommodate the crowds.
In 2003, here in Jefferson County, there was a strong odor of a minority voter suppression effort when the local Republican Party announced plans to station 59 vote challengers at the polls in predominantly black neighborhoods on Election Day to cut down on fraud. Actually, it was a national Republican campaign strategy that year. NAACP president Raoul Cunningham remembers and said that next Tuesday, “We will have ‘election protection teams' assembled to make sure every vote cast is counted and everyone registered and eligible is allowed to vote. Several local attorneys are part of the Louisville team and will be prepared to appear before the Board of Elections and courts.”
Another minority voter suppression tactic was evident more recently in Nevada, where Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid is in a nip-and-tuck race with challenger Sharron Angle, a tea party darling. There a group named “Latinos for Reform,” a Republican 527 organization, paid $80,000 for an ad, since pulled, that urged Latinos, “Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message you can no longer be taken for granted. Don't vote.” Them refers to such purported enemies of Latino interests as President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Their faces are flashed throughout the ad. No mention in the ad of Sharron Angle, who has said or implied a lot of very interesting things about Latinos on the campaign trail. (2 of 2)
Latinos for Reform have also been active in Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, promoting the idea to potential Latino voters that “Obama puts African Americans before Latinos and Africa before Latin America.”
Pitting minorities against one another almost never is to the benefit of minority political interests.
Meanwhile, if you're a potential voter, minority or not, who is discouraged and disgusted by all the nasty political attacks ads in this election season, I must reiterate that this is one of the legacies of George W. Bush, who before exiting the White House in early 2009, was able to fashion a U.S. Supreme Court, led by his handpicked Chief Justice John Roberts, that is activist to its core. Last January, the Court opened yet wider the spigot for big, anonymous political donations. It's pure coincidence (sure it is) that the major beneficiaries of the Roberts Court, at least in this cycle, are Republican and tea party candidates. It's also pure coincidence that Bush's own henchman Karl Rove has emerged as the king of anonymous political donations. He help to create and advises American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two groups that are leading the pack in soliciting anonymous donations that are then repackaged to finance fierce political attack ads.
Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which The New York Times noted shares strategies and “a nondescript office suite just blocks from the White House” with the Rove-advised groups, put it starkly. He said, “We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races; now it's sniper time.”
In other words, this is war, which means that, disgusted or not by all the negativity, none of us can afford to sit out this midterm election. Get out to the polls on Tuesday even if it pours down rain, because elections really do have consequences.
Betty Winston Bayé is a Courier-Journal columnist and editorial writer whose column appears on Thursdays. Read her online atcourier-journal.com/opinion.
The nasty race for Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat got even nastier this week, hitting what can only be hoped is rock bottom.
It happened when several of Rand Paul's supporters wrestled a MoveOn.org activist to the ground on Monday evening before the last debate between the Republican Dr. Paul and Democrat Jack Conway and, once she was supine against a concrete curb, stomped on her.
Take a good, hard look, Kentucky, at the shot seen 'round the world, because this is what people are seeing of us: Men throwing a woman to the ground and then stomping her.
While some look at that picture as emblematic of what conservative policy changes promised by tea party candidates such as Rand Paul will do to women, should he and others like him be elected, this disgraceful event deserves to be condemned just on its face value.
Kicking someone when they're down is not acceptable behavior, not even when the person on the receiving end is regarded as an outside agitator trying to get too close to a candidate, not even during highly charged campaigns that have already stretched the bounds of civility.
Dr. Paul's supporters looked like thugs in the video, because they were acting like thugs.
Dr. Paul's staff “disassociated” his campaign from the man seen doing the stomping, who had been Bourbon County coordinator for the candidate (his name appeared in a newspaper ad the same day as the fallout from the video-captured stomp went viral). Dr. Paul's campaign issued a statement saying that aggression or violence would not be tolerated “whatever the perceived provocation.” (They declined, however, to return the stomper's campaign contributions of $1,950. What's with that?)
As for the stomper, who has now been served with a criminal summons for the disturbance, incredibly he told a Lexington television reporter that police were really at fault, that his foot work could be chalked up to his bad back and that the woman he stomped should apologize to him.
The Lexington fracas is troubling by itself, but when coupled with another upset involving another tea party senatorial candidate earlier this week, it begs voters to pay even more attention.
On Sunday, a day before the Lexington takedown, an online news editor was handcuffed and detained by security guards hired by Joe Miller, Alaska's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after the editor trailed the candidate with a video camera in a public school where a town hall meeting had been held. The editor's apparent offense was being too pushy with his questions and writing for a liberal blog. Police let him go.
Kicking someone you don't agree with?
Cuffing someone who asks your candidate questions?
Is this what the freedom-loving tea party is about?
Rand Paul volunteer assaulter Pezzano missing: Sexual battery charges possible
Mike Pezzano, the Ran Paul volunteer who tackled and threw down Lauren Valle. Pezzano was also seen to be grabbing the breast of Valle as she was being pinned down. Grabbing the breast of Valle could bring the possibility of sexual battery charges.
... to AP and did an interview with a Kentucky TV news program, the other assault suspect Mike Pezzano has kept a lower profile. Kentucky police are considering charges against at least two more Rand Paul supporters caught on tape wrestling Lauren Valle to the ground while Tim Profitt stomped on her head.
"At this point, the investigation is still ongoing," Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said. "We're looking into other individuals who may have been involved in the assault and could get charged." Though Pezzano has not been identified by Lexington police, evidence that has surfaced in Tea Party blogs have positively identified him as the person who dragged Valle to the ground while holding her by her left breast as she was forcibly restrained.
Rand Paul volunteer Mike Pezzano is nowhere to be found and is presumed hiding or quietly trying to find a really good criminal defense lawyer. Pezzano has been positively identified by anonymous Tea Party activists who published his pictures online in the same plaid shirt worn by Valle's attacker. Mike Pezzano's picture was anonymously distributed by Tea Party activists who were offended by his assault of activist Lauren Velle
Lisa Graas blog
Mike Pezzano's picture was anonymously distributed by Tea Party activists who were offended by his assault of activist Lauren Valle
In the widely distributed video published by the Associated Press, Pezzano is seen tacking and pushing Valle down to the ground as he was grabbing her left breast. Look at 0.09 second frame.
Grabbing Valle's breast as she was being pushed down is significant as it can be grounds for sexual battery in addition to fourth degree assault.
A frame by frame review of the assault by Pezzano clearly shows him grabbing Valle's left breast as he forcibly restrains her. Valle provides no resistance as she is brought down and instinctively assumes a fetal position trying to protect herself.
The video evidence and the high profile nature of the assault is compelling and could force the hand of Lexington police and prosecutors to upgrade charges from fourth degree assault to sexual battery. In the case of head stomper Tim Profitt, Valle's resulting concussion also brings a strong possibility of an upgrade from fourth degree assault to felony assault.
A Talking Points Memo reader who claims to have been a former Fayette County prosecutor wrote:
The Lexington-Fayette police department, which is evidently conducting the investigation, is very professional and non-political. They can charge under KY law without consulting either Larson or Roberts, but as a practical matter I am certain there is consultation going on. In this still frame, it is clear that Pezzano grabs Valle's breast as he forcibly restrained. The act of touching Valle's breast in the act of restraining her brings the possibility of sexual battery in addition to fourth degree assault.
In this still frame, it is clear that Pezzano grabs Valle's breast as he forcibly restrained. The act of touching Valle's breast in the act of restraining her brings the possibility of sexual battery in addition to fourth degree assault.
I worked with Larson 30+ years ago but have not spoken to him in many years. Larson is elected as a Democrat, BUT he is totally non-partisan in how he makes decisions on prosecutions. Larry Roberts, likewise, is elected as a Democrat; although I met him many years ago, I cannot say that I know him. He also has a reputation within the legal community of being of the highest personal integrity and makes decisions on prosecutions strictly on the merits and on a totally non-partisan basis.
Although both men are elected Democrats, politics will not have anything to do with any decision either may make in this case. I should also state that there is no question that these are tough, hard-nosed prosecutors.
Based upon the video and assuming there is no exculpatory evidence not on the video, the perpetrator(s) would be well advised to get a first rate criminal attorney and start plea bargaining and hope they can do some time on a misdemeanor in the Fayette County jail. If the report is correct that the victim suffered a concussion, then a felony prosecution is very a distinct possibility. No competent defense attorney wants to cross examine that video.
There is no doubt that civil charges will be filed by Valle in addition to criminal charges that will be filed by Lexington.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Five months after the primary, former mayoral candidate Chris Thieneman endorsed fellow Republican Hal Heiner Monday, but not without some drama.
Thieneman said he knows that Heiner hasn't bargained for endorsements because Heiner rejected Thieneman's initial endorsement offer when it had strings attached.
Amid questions of whether Democrat Greg Fischer traded influence over a Metro agency in exchange for the endorsement of former independent candidate Jackie Green, Fischer subsequently has called Heiner a liar and hypocrite and accused him of doing the same thing to procure the endorsement of former Democratic primary mayoral candidate Tyler Allen.
With Heiner not apprised in advance of Thieneman's endorsement, and after a GOP primary in which Thieneman characterized Heiner as a "career politician" insider whose commercial property in Southern Indiana represented a conflict of interest, it was not initially clear if Thieneman had come to praise Heiner, or to bury him.
"We met and we discussed my endorsement," Thieneman began.
The developer and South End advocate then revealed that he attempted to leverage his 30 percent Republican primary support and strength in the South End, where he won a third of the precincts.
"So I asked Hal, I said 'Hal - do you think you could find a position for me to where I could represent the South End in the areas that they've always been neglected?' And when I talked to Hal about that, he said - 'Chris I understand where you're coming from, I appreciate what you are standing for in the South End,' but he said, 'I can't do that.'
Thieneman says Heiner explained that such a deal would be unethical and contrary to Heiner's platform of open, honest government.
"I would love to have your endorsement," Thieneman recalled Heiner saying shortly after the primary, "but if it means that I have to give you anything, then it's best that i don't."
Since then, Theinemen was still dropping his name as a potential deputy mayor. But said he came forward now as a rebuke to Greg Fischer's allegation.
"After the Greg Fischer and Jackie Green endorsement scandal, I felt like I couldn't be on the sidelines anymore," Thienman said.
In a statement, Fischer implied that Heiner was involved in Thieneman's endorsement, despite both Thieneman and Heiner's campaign saying otherwise.
"This is what candidates who are behind in races do - they try to distract voters," Fischer said, "Louisville deserve better than that. I'll remain focused on the real issues - creating jobs, putting people back to work, investing in neighborhoods and improving our schools."
Thieneman said he thinks Fischer is unfairly sullying Heiner's name in an attempt to cloud the controversy over the Green endorsement, which Thieneman said "is the kind of thing that could throw this election into courts for years to come."
"From first hand experience, (Heiner) is not that kind of man," Thieneman said, "I had to stand up even though how it may make me look. But no matter how my intentions were good, and he said, 'Chris, no. I'm not going to do it no matter how good your intentions are.'"
"This man is what the city needs. He's the most honest , forthright politician that this community could have as the next mayor of Louisville," Thieneman continued.
He said since the primary, his respect grew for Heiner, but that he kept his support for Heiner private because of the nature of his original offer.
"So today, I am offering my endorsement as Republican mayoral primary runner up to Hal Heiner with no strings attached," Thieneman said inside a Dixie Highway fitness club in a strip center Thieneman developed, "and (I am) encouraging my fellow South End and supporters across the county that Hal Heiner is best."
The Heiner campaign said it welcomes anyone and everyone's support.
Asked about his previous criticism of Heiner during the primary, Thieneman said he has had to take a fresh look at his primary opponent.
"Hal is very quiet and I took that quietness as meaning that he wasn't doing anything about it," Theineman explained.
"The more I was around him I said, you know, he's not quiet because he's not doing anything, he's quiet because he's thinking."
Another former Republican primary opponent, Jonathan Robertson, also reiterated his endorsement for Heiner at the news conference, saying Heiner was receptive and respectful" when Robertson offered ideas
Meet Your New Louisville Metro Mayor, Hal Heiner. Don't Forget To Go Vote For Him To Make Sure.
Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Down six points one month ago in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, Republican Hal Heiner has catapulted past Democrat Greg Fischer and now leads Fischer by seven points. It is a dramatic 13 point swing with only six days until the election.
Heiner would become the first Republican elected to lead the county since Rebecca Jackson was County Judge - and the first Republican mayor in 40 years. "As people are getting down here to the end and making their final decisions on who to support," Heiner responded, "it seems they are embracing our campaign."
Fischer was unfazed. "We like our momentum. We like our energy. We feel good," Fischer said. Both campaigns suggest that the race is still neck and neck, but Heiner welcomed the first WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll to show him in the lead. Three months ago, he and Fischer were tied at 45%, the closest Heiner had previously been to claiming the lead. "We've seen over the past month a very positive swing toward our campaign," Heiner said, "So even without this particular poll, (we are) feeling very encouraged."
Fischer countered by referring to a poll conducted last week by Insight Cable's CN2 channel which had Fischer up by nine points. "We've been saying this is going to be a tight race and we've got a great field team. Wwe plan on closing strong. We plan on winning," Fischer said.
Heiner appears to be capitalizing on what has been described as a national enthusiasm gap - with Democrats demoralized and Republicans energized. Louisville Mayor More enthusiastic voters Heiner (R) 61% Fischer (D) 38% Undecided 2% Margin of Sampling Error: ± 4%
Among voters who describe themselves as more enthusastic this year compared to prior elections, Heiner leads by 23 points. Louisville Mayor Less enthusiastic voters Heiner (R) 39% Fischer (D) 58% Undecided 8% Margin of Sampling Error: ± 4%
Among voters who are less enthusastic compared to prior elections, Fischer leads by 19. "In Jefferson County, I don't feel that landslide aganinst Democrats," Fischer said, "I feel great enthusiasm amongst Democrats. We have good candidates here in Jefferson County. I'm predicting we're going to have a big turnout as well and that's going to lead us to victory.
And Heiner, despite the national GOP trend, is deemphasizing the "R" behind his name, saying his platform reflects his leadership. "It wasn't based on a party ideology, but rather how can we move this community forward," Heiner said.
Heiner's recent campaign ads have focused on the allegation that Fischer traded influence in city hall in exchange for Jackie Green's endorsement. Heiner, however, says the issue is "not a prime factor" in his surge. "One of those areas I felt the citizens needed to hear the facts and then make a decision on their own," Heiner explained, "In our platform right from the start, one of our main platform points was open accountable governement."
Fischer pointed to Wednesday's Louisville Courier-Journal's endorsement of his candidacy and previous editorials that absolved him of unethical behavior in the Green controversy. An "Ad Watch" feature in the newspaper on Tuesday, however, concluded that "there was a deal between Green and Fischer, but the question of whether Fischer offered anything of substance remains open." "People understand our position on that," Fischer said, "and I believe people rejected that as well. A lot of comments I've gotten is people see that I'm inclusive, bring people to the table and I think that's what people want in the next mayor."
Regardless of the factors, this poll at least confirms one thing - that Greg Fischer - considered the favorite entering the race - is fighting for his political life and Hal Heiner is primed for an upset. Some local Democrats have complained about the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll this election cycle - saying the number of people who are identifying themselves as Republican does not fit voting history.
Voters Party Identification September 26 poll Republican 34% Democrat 57% Independent 9% Margin of Sampling Error: +/-4.1% In last month's poll which Fischer led by six, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 23 points.
Voters Party Identification October 27 poll Republican 38% Democrat 52% Independent 9% Margin of Sampling Error: +/-4.1%
In today's poll which shows a dramatic swing toward Heiner, Democrats hold only a 14 point advantage among the people who were polled. "They just go up and down," Fischer said when asked about the party breakdown, "so, we can't control that. We can control what we are doing and we like where we're at, we like our message. We're going to win."
"Even using those numbers," Heiner countered, "and applying them to the statistics from this poll, still shows a tremendous surge in our campaign." Meanwhile, several influential Democrats have shared their concerns that missteps in the Senate campaign of Democrat Jack Conway - namely the Aqua Buddha ad controversy - have dismayed Louisville Democrats who may feel less motivated to vote at all on Tuesday.
"I hear as many people who are encouraged as opposed to what you are calling," Fischer responded, "So I think there is going to be a big turnout for that. Certanly going to help me as well. So I'm not worried about that." Heiner also dismissed a possible Conway effect. "I think this mayor's race is an important enough race by itself that people will come out and choose who they feel like Louisville - who can get Louisville to make up some ground that we've lost in the last decade," Heiner said.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Richie Farmer's Department of Agriculture bought eight more new vehicles this month, bringing to 27 the number purchased this year at a cost of about $621,000 during tight budgetary times for the state.
State procurement officials in the Finance and Administration Cabinet recently approved the purchase of the eight vehicles, costing about $176,000.
But it rejected department requests to buy two more, saying those it sought to replace were not old enough, or have enough mileage, to meet regulatory requirements.
The 27 new vehicles bought this year include a $35,340 Chevy Suburban purchased earlier this year for use by Farmer.
Overall, records show, the department has a fleet of 188 vehicles. They have been separate from the rest of the state fleet since 2007, when Farmer had his agency take control of managing and maintaining its vehicles.
The move saved the Department of Agriculture large fees that the Finance Cabinet charges to oversee vehicles of other agencies, said department spokesman Bill Clary.
The new-vehicle purchases contrast with the Beshear administration's effort to cut such spending because of the tight state budget.
But Clary said the Agriculture Department believes its approach of trading in vehicles before they have high mileage is at least as economical because it saves on maintenance costs and results in a higher price when the old vehicle is sold at auction.
“There are certain points in (a vehicle's) lifespan where maintenance costs start to spike,” Clary said. “What we try to do is try to surplus them out before those maintenance costs reach those points.”
It’s an approach favored by car rental companies, he said, adding: “Driving a vehicle until the wheels come off is — what's the cliché? — penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
Clary said he was unable to contact Farmer, the agriculture commissioner, for comment Wednesday.
The department this month asked state procurement officials in the Finance and Administration Cabinet for permission to buy 10 vehicles: six Ford Escapes (a compact SUV), three Ford F250 four-wheel-drive pickup trucks and a Dodge 5500 cab and chassis at a cost of no more than $245,000.
The new vehicles were to replace an equal number of 2005 to 2008 models with between 86,978 and 109,458 miles on them, Farmer’s department said.
A Finance Cabinet committee that reviews such requests approved the replacement of eight vehicles. The other two were rejected because a state regulation requires a vehicle to have at least 90,000 miles or be at least five years old before it can be replaced.
The request form sent by the Agriculture Department to the Finance Cabinet said the new vehicles would be used “in various programs transporting employees statewide to complete job duties.”
Clary said none of the vehicles would be used by Farmer, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor next year on a ticket with Senate President David Williams of Burkesville.
The eight vehicles being replaced have an average mileage of 98,448. That contrasts with another bulk purchase of similar vehicles this month by the Beshear administration's Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction for use by the department's seven electrical inspectors.
The housing department's new vehicles would replace 1992-2002 models with an average of 227,000 miles on them. The request for this purchase said the old vehicles often broke down and “frequently leave the inspectors stranded on the roadside causing delays in the inspection process which delays economic development.”
The Agriculture Department’s responsibilities include the regulation and promotion of agriculture, as well as the inspection of carnival rides and gas pumps. The department has about 300 employees and an annual budget of about $30 million.
Clary said the vast majority of its vehicles are used by inspectors and other employees for work in all of the state's 120 counties.
Records provided by the Agriculture Department show that all but 17 of its 188 vehicles are 2007 models or newer. More than half have fewer than 50,000 miles, and only four have more than 100,000 miles.
Cindy Lanham, a spokeswoman for the Finance Cabinet, said that 1,584 of the state's fleet of 4,665 vehicles, or 34 percent, have more than 100,000 miles. Lanham said 2,620 of the state vehicles, or 56 percent, are at least five years old.
Lanham also said that so far this year, including those ordered but not yet delivered, the Beshear administration has purchased 231 vehicles for about $5.1 million to replace about 5 percent of the fleet.
The Agriculture Department's 27 new vehicles this year represents about 14 percent of its fleet.
The Beshear administration has had to limit spending across the executive branch because of major revenue shortfalls in in each of the last three fiscal years. Budgets of nearly all state agencies have been cut, state workers have been ordered to take six days of unpaid leave this year and some political appointees have been laid off.
Jefferson Circuit Court judges meet each month to address issues facing the court. But don't bother asking for minutes of those sessions.
Same for the salaries of the staff of the Kentucky Bar Association, or the Kentucky Officer of Bar Admissions, which decides who gets to practice law in Kentucky.
More than a year after the Kentucky Supreme Court said it would consider an open-records policy for the state's judicial branch, the proposed measure has been dropped.
A spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts issued a statement last week saying that because the judiciary already operates “in an open, transparent manner ... we do not think it is essential for the Judicial Branch to pursue a written open-records policy at this time.”
But when The Courier-Journal this month asked three judicial branch agencies for the kinds of records routinely released by the rest of state government — including salary information and minutes of the judges' meetings — the requests were denied.
The newspaper reported in March 2009 that, according to Katie Shepherd, chief of staff for Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., his office planned to propose new open-records rules for the judiciary later in the year, for possible adoption by year's end.
Minton said in an interview last week that he allowed the proposed open-records policy to die after he was able to get judicial branch's expenditures and contracts posted on the state's “OpenDoor” website, which provides such information for all state government.
“I felt like we had accomplished a huge undertaking, and I haven't thought a lot more about what else is needed,” he said.
State and local court agencies were included in the Kentucky Open Records Act when the General Assembly enacted it in 1976, but two years later the state Supreme Court ruled that one branch of government couldn't tell another what to do with its own records.
As a result, while court cases are open, the press and public have no right to inspect or copy administrative records of the courts or its agencies.
In a prepared statement issued last week, Leigh Ann Hiatt, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the “judicial branch operates under the general, unwritten policy of conducting business in an open, transparent manner.”
The statement also said that “given our belief that good government depends on transparency and that our current process is operating effectively, we do not think it is essential for the Judicial Branch to pursue an open-records policy at this time.”
State policies vastly differ
But Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for the Kentucky Press Association as well as The Courier-Journal, said the absence of written rules means news organizations must depend on the whim of the AOC, circuit court clerks and other judicial agencies.
It also means there are no time limits in which such agencies must respond to requests and no avenues of appeal.
“Any time any government agency says ‘trust me,' it raises a red flag,” Fleischaker said.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition at the University of Missouri School of Journalism said that opening records of judicial agencies is important to citizens, not just reporters. Yet, there is a great disparity among the states on what kinds of records are made available, said David Wolfgang, a research assistant there.
In Indiana, the state Supreme Court has a rule spelling out access to court and administrative records in the judicial branch, and it says they are open unless there is a specific law or rule exempting them, said public information officer Kathryn Dolan.
Although Supreme Courts in several states, including Kentucky, have ruled that open-records acts don't apply to the courts, Florida's high court has adopted a rule specifically saying the same principles apply to every judicial branch, including those entities that regulate lawyers and judges.
In Kentucky, the state's OpenDoor site (http://opendoor.ky.gov) details spending by the executive and judicial branch. It shows, for example, that last year the judiciary spent $146,744,173 on salaries, $9,137 to repair its copy machines and $30,989 on robes for judges.
But while the site lists specific executive-branch salaries, none are listed for the judicial branch. A news release issued by the Administrative Office of the Courts on Dec. 21, 2009, said those salaries would be added in the “upcoming months,” but Hiatt said that has been delayed because of a computer-programming issue.
A test of openness
To test the court officials contention that Kentucky's court systems operates “in an open, transparent manner, the newspaper last week requested minutes of the monthly meetings of Jefferson Circuit Court judges; staff salaries for the Kentucky Bar Association and the Kentucky office of Bar Admissions; and records showing how much the KBA had paid an outside lawyer in 2008 to investigate allegations against one of its former presidents, as well as a copy of the lawyer's report.
Denying the newspaper's request for the minutes, chief Jefferson court administrator Carla Kreitman said in an e-mail that the judges discuss legal and personnel issues during the sessions and consider “this deliberative process so critical to the integrity of judicial operations that it demands protection from public disclosure.”
KBA director John Meyers cited the Supreme Court's 1978 decision exempting judicial branch agencies from the Open Records Act in denying the request for KBA payroll information, as well as how much it paid Lexington lawyer Robert F. Houlihan Jr., to investigate allegations against then-bar president Barbara Bonar, as well as a copy of his report.
Minton, asked why the state bar association doesn't abide by the spirit of openness spelled out in the AOC's statement, said he tries not to “meddle” in KBA's decisions because it has its own board.
Bonnie Kittinger, director and general counsel of the Office of Bar Admissions, a judicial branch agency responsible for deciding who is admitted to practice law in Kentucky, provided the newspaper with the bar exam pass rates for each of Kentucky's three law schools, as requested, but said, “I would prefer not to share salary information.”
Poor Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice is having to relive the past, but hopefully he will pull through it By KATHLEEN PARKER
NEW YORK — In 1991, the world divided itself in two camps: those who believed Anita Hill and those who didn’t. I fell somewhere in the middle: She may have told the truth, but so what?
On bended knee, give thanks if you are too young to remember. A brief summary: Hill testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas that he had sexually harassed her by verbally sharing his enjoyment of porn films and his sexual proficiency.
Yes, yawn if you must. This was scandalous, of course, because ... well, I’m still not certain. You see, in order to be scandalized, one must be deeply sensitive to the mention of anything sexual. Indeed, in this case, one needed to be scandalized for an indefinite period of time.
Hill’s testimony came several years after the alleged harassment while she worked for Thomas at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In other words, she didn’t protest at the time of these conversations, which were boorish, assuming they happened as she described. Or were they merely lame attempts at humor?
The context has never been clear. In any case, other options available to Hill included telling Thomas to get over himself. Or, at the very least, assuming deep offense, complaining to a higher authority. She did neither, apparently. In fact, nothing was mentioned until Thomas was nominated to the highest court. Would an African-American nominee of the liberal persuasion have been subjected to the same kind of interrogation? Only as precedent to riot.
Clarence Thomas’ “offense” had nothing to do with whether he did or did not say something off-color to a subordinate. Rather, his offense was being a conservative black man who had the audacity, among other things, to suggest that affirmative action ultimately might do harm to those it was intended to help.
Fast forward: Now we are revisiting the Thomas hearings, sadly owing to the poor judgment of his own wife, Ginni. As all surely know, she recently called Anita Hill and left a voice mail suggesting that Hill apologize for what she did.
This jaw-droppingly odd lapse has prompted an unwelcome and sordid review of the past and a deluge of theories to explain Ginni Thomas’ action.
For one, the same day of the phone call, a story ran on the front page of The New York Times about Ginni Thomas’ new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, which aims to organize the tea party movement. She was trying to monetize the moment.
Let’s put a pause on nonsense and concede that the Thomas affair remains a painful memory and maybe, just maybe, the justice’s wife needs resolution.
Meanwhile, a new player has emerged in the drama: Lillian McEwen, a former Thomas girlfriend from way back, has decided that now is the time to set the record straight. Coincidentally, McEwen is shopping her memoir.
Monday night, McEwen sat down with Larry King on CNN (where I work) to share her own sexual past with Thomas and her belief that Hill told the truth. She told The Washington Post (where I am a columnist) that Thomas was “obsessed with porn.”
McEwen said she didn’t mind the porn, she was just bored by it. She also told King that Thomas, who quit drinking while they were together, became ambitious and obsessed with physical fitness.
Thomas’ history of drinking is no secret to anyone who bothered to read his memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son.” He is brutally honest about his transformation from an angry boy abandoned by his alcoholic father, his upbringing by his grandfather and the nuns at his little Catholic school, and his battle with his own demons and lonely rages to become a thoughtful man deeply respected by fellow members of the court. As Supreme Court analyst Jan Greenburg wrote in “Supreme Conflict,” Thomas is the quiet force on the bench that brings others to change their minds.
Only the heartless would not be moved by Thomas’ description of lying at home in a fetal curl, suffering the public humiliation of his hearing, and recognizing that the only route to survival was humility.
“It had long since become clear to me that this battle was at bottom spiritual, not political,” he wrote, “and so my attention shifted from politics to the inward reality of my spiritual life.”
The proud Thomas said during those hearings that he was the victim of a high-tech lynching.
Let’s hope he has enough spiritual reserve to survive this second lynching - and a big enough heart to forgive poor Ginni.
Character assassination is the most accurate way we know to describe Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Jack Conway’s attack ads that appear to question Republican Candidate Rand Paul’s religious faith.
We opined earlier this year that Jack Conway was very anxious to deflect attention away from his support of some of the initiatives of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.
Who would have guessed back then that Conway would have stooped to a level this despicable to achieve this goal?
Conway’s ad has created a firestorm in the commonwealth and has attracted national attention, most of which has been unfavorable to Conway. Conway’s ad has gotten bad reviews from both sides of the political spectrum.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., characterized the ad as “dangerous.”
Conway’s ad was called “disgusting” by Mike Huckabee, a former Republican candidate for president.
In an interview earlier this week with Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Conway told Matthews that he was not questioning Paul’s faith.
Matthews was having none of that. “I think it questions his faith,” he told Conway.
Even worse, the underlying intent of the ad may have been to convey the message that only Christians need apply for elective office.
Attorney General Conway should realize more than most that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion is there to protect nonbelievers as well as Christians and those of other religious persuasions.
For the record, Dr. Paul is a practicing Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, which makes Conway’s ad even more odious.
During the campaign, Conway has gone to great lengths to put distance between himself and the trio of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.
But when attorneys general in many other states filed suit challenging the constitutionally questionable provision of “Obamacare” requiring all Americans to buy health care with that provision to be enforced by thousands of new IRS agents, Conway chose not to join them.
This failure to act dramatizes the differences between Jack Conway and Dr. Paul.
Conway would tend to favor an ever more intrusive and more costly federal government while Paul would not.
Paul’s view of the role of government is likely closer to the view of a majority of Kentuckians than Conway’s.
For this reason and because our attorney general would stoop so low as to question another’s religious faith in order to be elected, our endorsement goes to Dr. Rand Paul.
"Thuggish Behavior Stains Kentucky". And I *SIGH*.
Thuggish behavior stains Kentucky
The ugliness outside a U.S. Senate debate in Lexington Monday night was not a mere act of incivility. It was a violent assault.
It was the kind of thuggish intimidation you expect against a political protestor in Tehran today or a civil-rights marcher in Birmingham in 1963. It has no place in an American election today or ever.
Rand Paul supporters knocked down an anti-Paul activist who was trying to get her picture taken with Paul as he and Attorney General Jack Conway arrived at KET for their last debate.
A man identified as a Paul campaign volunteer from Bourbon County used his foot to push the woman's head into the concrete. Video of the assault is being watched around the world.
The Paul campaign condemned the attack, disassociated itself from the volunteer who stomped the woman's head and called on activists "on both sides" to avoid "physical altercations of any kind."
The problem with the Paul statement is that only one side, his side, resorted to violence.
We keep hearing this is the year of the angry voter. But what motivates people to physically assault a woman who's carrying a political sign they don't like?
Certainly not respect for the Constitution, which enshrines the right of all citizens to express their opinions without fear. Not a belief in the rule of law. Not common decency.
Some members of Paul's Tea Party issue paranoid warnings that President Barack Obama and Democrats are totalitarians out to impose Marxist control over our country.