Friday, March 24, 2017

Pass Repeal and Replace Already


This bill may well be a merde burger. But Republicans have had seven years to get their act together on what the replacement for Obamacare will look like. Does anyone seriously believe that another month will make for a better product?

People across the political spectrum are unhappy with the bill -- which leads me to conclude it's probably pretty good. If just the Freedom Caucus was upset with it, I'd be more worried. However, moderates and liberals don't like it either. If everyone's mad, that's probably a reflection of the fact that it is a decent compromise.

We know it cannot be any worse than what it seeks to replace.

There are limits to what can be done in the reconciliation process. The trade-off to getting to pass the bill with just 51 votes is that the legislation cannot be as comprehensive as legislation that is passed in ordinary process (non-reconciliation) and thereby requires 60 votes. That's just the reality.

Further, the shortcomings of this bill need not be permanent. Much better to use it as a start and make necessary changes seriatim, in short, focused bills that the publican can understand and support.

I worry that if Republicans do not pass repeal and replace quickly, all the promises and campaign pledges of the past seven years will doom the party. We are out of time on this as a party.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Rocks Freedom Hall


I attended last night's Trump rally at Louisville's Freedom Hall, along with 15,000 of my closest friends. I must admit that I was shocked at the turnout -- which forced organizers to open up extra seating and yet still couldn't hold all the people in line.

The energy was amazing.  After all the progressive bitterness over the results of the election, it was refreshing to be with people who were happy with the outcome and optimistic about the future.

Perhaps that's why the crowd was so polite, even as we waited for hours for the rally to begin and then for at least an hour to exit the parking lot. There was just a lot more good will than one usually sees with a crowd this size.

I was struck by the number of women. We're constantly told that women don't like Republicans generally and President Donald Trump in particular. And yet women came in droves. What the pollsters tend to not report is that the so-called gender gap favors Republicans when marital status is considered:  married women are much more conservative than single women.  Indeed, many (perhaps most) of the the women I saw at the rally appeared to be with their husband. A whole new twist on date night!

The warm-up prior to Trump's arrival underscored the strength of the Republican bench in Kentucky.  Rep. Jonathan Shell served as emcee. Shell was in charge of candidate recruitment -- the key to Republicans winning the Kentucky House for the first time in 92 years. Shell demonstrated last night that he can also give a good speech.

Likewise for Sen. Ralph Alvarado. He was a fitting speaker choice for last night, given his speech at the Republican National Convention and his expertise on Obamacare from the perspective of a primary care physician. He did not disappoint.

Gov. Matt Bevin got a standing O as soon as he walked into Freedom Hall with his big, beautiful family. During Bevin's speech, it is easy to imaging him running for president and doing quite well.

Lt. Gov. Jenean always inspires. I noticed Bevin smiling with pride as she spoke. One line that spoke to me from her speech was when she explained how she grew up in Michigan but came to Kentucky, and said "the long answer is God and the short answer is God,"  or words to that effect.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on hand to welcome the president. Kentucky would not have become a red state without his leadership. What a transformation he has wrought.

After the warm-up portion ended and the crowd awaited Trump, someone started doing The Wave.  I've never, ever seen that at a political rally. But it was a good idea and a fun way to pass the time and keep the energy up.

Trump's speech covered a plethora of policies and focused less on health care than I expected. He was very gracious regarding Sen. Rand Paul -- a smart move, since this crowd loves Rand.

Trump received a huge ovation for his promise of tax cuts. Interestingly, Trump said that those tax cuts would have to wait until after Obamacare was repealed and replaced. That was brilliant strategically; it makes anyone who delays repeal and replace look like they are delaying Americans' tax cuts.

Clearly, Trump enjoys rallies and seems to have a fondness for Kentucky. Last night demonstrated that the feeling is mutual.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Looks Like Crony Capitalism



After Walmart grew tired of frivolous lawsuits and gave up on plans to open a new store in West Louisville, Rep. Jerry Miller said he would introduce legislation to force those who bring such suits to post a bond for the appeal. It was a terrific response to a ploy by elitists whose litigation deprived a community of desperately needed jobs.

Miller followed through with HB 72 to require the posting of a bond for appeals to the Kentucky Court of Appeals from the Circuit Court. It would apply to those who lost at trial.

The bill, which passed the House, does not apply to churches. That makes sense. Churches don't have the where with all to post a bond, and are not the source of frivolous litigation.

Now, in the Senate, Sen. Damon Thayer has added an exception to the bond requirement for litigation challenging the "creation, operation, or expansion of a landfill."

That is, the amendment would allow enviro-wackos (or competitors of a landfill company) to sue landfill companies without posting a bond. It's an odd exception and clearly an example of the government picking winners and losers:  crony capitalism by definition.

Thayer needs to explain the amendment; give taxpayers the back story.

The Senate needs to pass the bill without Thayer's amendment.

Singling out an industry for different treatment under the rule of law is not the way to convey that Kentucky is "open for business."


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Was Trump Tower Bugged?


It would not particularly surprise me, in light of what the Obama administration did to former CBS reporter Sheryl Attkisson. And in light of the IRS targeting "enemies."

What makes me most suspicious is the non-denial denials from Obama's spokesman we heard over the weekend. The language was parsed with a delicacy we have not seen since Bill Clinton opined on the meaning of "is."

We all get that the President of the United States does not have subpoena power by himself. That has to come from a court -- in this case, the FISA Court. It insults the intelligence of the American people to hide behind this technicality.

The FISA Court does not issue subpoenas on its own impulse, or as we say in the law sua sponte. Someone has to apply for the order. And if that person or entity is part of the federal executive branch, than the buck stops with whoever was president at the time: Obama.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Papaw Beshear Responds to POTUS


I was driving and therefore listened to, rather than saw, former KY Gov. Steve Beshear give the Democratic Response to President Trump's joint address to Congress.

Thankfully, Beshear did not use that hokey twang he has tortured us with every times he presented the Kentucky Derby trophy as governor.

It wasn't a terrible speech. But Beshear was a really odd choice -- a reflection of how weak the Democrats' bench is these days. Or as one person put it on Twitter, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer decided to give a younger kid a chance, so they tapped 72-year old Beshear.

Those of us in Kentucky knew that Beshear's rosy description of Obamacare here was beyond alternative facts: it was an alternate reality.

All those people that Beshear put on Obamacare are on Medicaid -- not the "young invincibles" that Obamacare required to ostensibly pay for itself.

And the vaunted "Kynect" that Beshear boasted about  -- just a state version of the national exchange  and web site. To be sure, Beshear did a better job of it than the federal government, but only because the federal roll out was a disaster. Moreover, Beshear spent scarce money creating something he did not need to create, because Kentucky could have used the federal exchange. Indeed, that's what is happening now that Gov. Matt Bevin has abolished Kynect.

So it was a lot of smoke and mirrors.

I had to laugh that Beshear hosted a FaceBook live chat with his son, KY Attorney General Andy Beshear. Apparently this is to help groom Andy to take on Matt Bevin for governor. Good luck with that.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Elected Officials Should Show Up to the Town Halls



I was disappointed that Sen. Marco Rubio announced that he will not attend town halls because the left will show up and scream at him.

It doesn't matter. Suck it up and go; it's part of the job. Not going looks cowardly.

Sen. Tim Scott gives a better example of how to handle the town halls:  show up, but be smart. Lay some ground rules. Scott prohibited the use of signs and asked for questions to be written. Scott is relentlessly polite even to those who seek to vilify him. Eventually, he either wears people down or wins them over.

I think it's also reasonable for the town halls to be limited to actual constituents who live in the district rather than astroturf that's been brought in from outside.

It's important for Republicans to understand, however, that not all of these protesters are paid astroturf. Some are voters who are still irate that their side lost. It would be a mistake to not recognize that this mindset extends, for example, to leftists here in Jefferson County.

Republicans better get cracking on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, or else they will start to see protests at town halls -- from the right.


ICYMI: My C-J Column on "Blue Lives Matter" Bill


Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal, and apologies for the format - I will try to fix later.

The Kentucky House last week demonstrated that sometimes the best intentions can lead to bad and unnecessary laws. Take House Bill 14, a bill to extend Kentucky’s hate crime law to first responders: police, firefighters and EMTs.
Currently, Kentucky’s hate crime statute provides for a judge to impose stiffer sentences for offenses committed against a person or property because of the victim’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national origin. But not yet first responders.
First responders risk their lives to keep us safe. The overwhelming majority are people of integrity — legitimate heroes. They deserve our respect and gratitude. The desire to pass legislation that honors them is understandable.

Louisiana was the first state in the country to enact a “blue lives matter” amendment to its hate crime statute after police officers were ambushed there. House Bill 14 sponsor Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville), however, resists that label as divisive

The bill passed 77-13 with one abstention from Rep. Phil Moffett (R-Louisville). And on On this issue, Moffett is spot on.

Moffett wrote on Facebook that he opposed the bill “not because I have any level of disregard for first responders. I appreciate them all. Their service is absolutely necessary, and during protracted periods of time, unappreciated.

“I abstained because hate crimes are unconstitutional in my opinion. Hate is thought. Making certain thoughts a crime is antithetical to personal liberty and freedom. If we can’t think freely, can we really speak freely? I don’t believe so.”Moffett also pointed out the difficulty of applying the law consistently and the impossibility of measuring hate. He stated his preference that all hate crimes be taken off the books

Moffett also pointed out the difficulty of applying the law consistently and the impossibility of measuring hate. He stated his preference that all hate crimes be taken off the booksFirst responders protect us from violence to our person or property so that we can live our lives peacefully and free to pursue our own particular vision of happiness, so long as it’s lawful.

Equal protection under the law, moreover, requires first responders treat the public with neither favoritism nor discrimination.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Too Bad About Michael Flynn



I'm glad that Michael Flynn resigned quickly. Once it became clear that he had given wrong information to Vice President Mike Pence, it was inevitable that he had to go.

Hopefully it ends here.

And for all those Dems who are chomping at the impeachment bit -- do they not understand that Pence is even more conservative than President Trump?  Indeed, he's more conservative than just about anyone. Someone should warn the Dems to be careful what they wish for.

It's kind of like when the Dems were salivating, first for Trump to run, and second for him to win the Republican nomination. How'd that work out for ya?