Friday, November 30, 2007

Flying Pigs and Other Miracles

Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) is the Dems' favorite poster-vet -- their go-to guy whenever they want to demoralize our troops or embolden our enemies. So it was nothing less than astonishing when Murtha said "I think the 'surge' is working." Murtha made his remarks after returning from a fact-finding trip to Iraq.

Murtha's about-face on the surge complicates House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's continuing attempts to tie funding for our troops to withdrawal deadlines. Maybe now, the Democrats will finally pass a spending bill that the president can sign -- before our troops start to suffer.

An unrelated miracle took place at Papa John's Stadium last night, where the Cards came from behind to beat Rutgers 41-38. Senior Art Carmody kicked the winning field goal, and thus became the highest scoring kicker in the history of college football.

For those fair weather fans who left early -- slipping out of the stadium like Jim King leaving a McConnell fundraiser -- it is a bittersweet victory.

Are Giuliani's Friends Attacking The Wrong Man?

The Log Cabin Republicans and Republican Majority for Choice are taking one-two punches at Mitt Romney in new advertisements to be aired in New Hampshire. Giuliani's allies apparently believe they will help their candidate by going negative. Perhaps so, but by softening up Romney, they may be unwittingly aiding a potentially more formidable foe -- Mike Huckabee.

In radio ads the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights advocacy group, don't criticize Romney for what is their real beef -- his opposition to same-sex marriage -- but rather what they call "Mitt flops" on tax issues. In contrast, the Republican Majority for Choice does not hide its agenda. The pro-choice group criticizes Romney for changing his position on abortion -- which he again acknowledged in last Wednesday's CNN YouTube GOP debate -- thus continuing with the flip-flop theme.

The Log Cabin Republicans should consider what Huckabee had to say about them at the debate. When Anderson Cooper asked Huckabee whether he "would . . . allow support from the Log Cabin Republicans," Huckabee answered: "You know, in my position in this entire election, I need the support of anybody and everybody I can get. . . I disagree with them [i.e., the gay rights advocates], strongly disagree with them on the idea of same-sex marriage, but in a democracy we can have disagreements over some policies and still agree on the greater things that make us Republicans. So would I accept their support? Of course. Would I change my position on same-sex marriage? No, I wouldn't. But if they're willing to support me, I'll be their president. I'll be anybody's president, but I'll be true to my convictions, and I think that's what Americans look for -- not someone they're going to agree with on everything, but somebody who at least has some convictions, sticks with them, and explains them, and can at least have respect for people who have different ones."

As for his stand on abortion, Huckabee's commercial during the debate said it all: "Fair doesn't just influence me. It really defines me. I don't have to wake up every day wondering what do I need to believe? Let us never sacrifice our principles for anybody's politics. Not now, not ever. I believe life begins at conception. We believe in some things. We stand by those things. We live or die by those things."

Those are no-compromise yet adroitly articulated positions coming from a candidate who, according to John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics.com, "has a real shot to be the Republican nominee." Giuliani's friends may need to rethink their media buys.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Left Plays "Gotcha!" With Jim King

You would have thought the guy had been caught sneaking out of a bordello, the way the left blogosphere is jumping all over Democratic Metro Councilman Jim King.

A group of anti-war protesters spotted King slinking out of a Mitch McConnell fundraiser, held at the Louisville home of Larry Bisig. King apparently was so startled to confront the protesters -- good Dems, one and all -- that he refused to explain how he came to be at the McConnell fundraiser.

Now we learn, by King's own admission, that he crashed the event. That's right, he wasn't invited and he didn't pay the requisite donation.

With their typical coarseness, the "progressive" bloggers attacked King. Some used profanity. Others urged readers to jam the phone lines at Jim King's office.

King responded with what lawyers and mothers of teenagers call a post-hoc rationalization. He now claims, to WHAS 11 Mark Hebert, that he discussed rerouting the airport's flight path with the senator, and that's why he went to the McConnell event.

In fact, King did not discuss the airport with McConnell at the fundraiser, according to two sources. King, however, did promise McConnell to support the senator's bid for reelection in '08.

King also asserts that he'd been trying to raise the airport issue with McConnell for two years, but McConnell's office has no record of King seeking a meeting with the Republican Leader. Maybe King was unable to place an outgoing call due to his supporters on the left jamming his phone lines.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Huckabee Answers Gore's Question

Some may recall that when Al Gore ran for President he wore one of those wristbands inscribed with the initials "WWJD", which stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" Tonight, at the CNN YouTube GOP debate, Mike Huckabee gave an answer to Gore.

When pressed by Anderson Cooper to say whether Jesus would have supported the death penalty, Huckabee responded, "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do."

By the way, of all the candidates on stage, Rudy Giuliani laughed and clapped the most upon hearing Huckabee's answer.

The Whooping Crane's Been Found!

The missing whooping crane has been found near Scottsburg Indiana, thank God! He's been slumming with some sand hill cranes. Thank you to all who kept on the look out for the little guy. WHAS 11 has the breaking story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'd Rather Watch a Superbowl Ad

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid has taken brevity to a new level: today he convened the Senate for another "pro-forma session." Guess how long it lasted? Not 30 hours, not 30 minutes: the whole charade took 30 seconds.

It's a rerun of what Reid has done all Thanksgiving break to keep the president from making a recess appointment. Though the constitution specifically empowers the president to make recess appointments, the Democrats continue to stonewall his authority.

Once again, the Democrats remind us that when it comes to the constitution, they are extraordinarily imaginative at creating new rights out of whole cloth. But they cannot or will not read and comprehend the plain meaning of words, like those found in article II, section 2 clause 3: "The President shall have power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session."

Harry Reid's mini-sessions are an end-run around this constitutional provision. They are also anti-majoritarian -- just more sour grapes at the Democrats' inability to win the White House.

And for a bunch of pseudo-environmentalists even to turn on the lights on Capitol Hill for a thirty-second session. Al Gore should really investigate how Harry Reid's "leadership" of the Senate exacerbates global warming.

More On Huckabee's Vice Presidential Prospects

An earlier post on this blog predicted that Mike Huckabee will be number two on the ticket if either Giuliani or Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination. Today, the New York Sun supports this prediction, at least with respect to a Giuliani-Huckabee pairing.

According the Sun, Giuliani and Huckabee have "avoided direct conflict, exchanging more compliments than criticism." The Sun reports certain political analysts' view that "[a]s an affable Southerner with a solidly conservative record on social issues, Mr. Huckabee could provide precisely the kind of geographic and political balance needed for a ticket topped by an occasionally abrasive New Yorker who supports abortion rights."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Zogby Interactive's Latest National Poll

The numbers look good these days for any of the major Republican presidential candidates against the likely Democratic nominee. Zogby Interactive's latest nationwide poll found that Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee each lead Hillary Clinton "by three to five percentage points in the direct matches," according to Reuters.

Zogby's findings undercut the latest Kentucky poll conducted by Survey USA, which found Hillary to be ahead of every Republican candidate in Presidential head-to-head contests. If Zogby is correct that Hillary is behind in the national polling, then it is hard to fathom that a poll showing her leading in Kentucky would be very accurate.

Survey USA also found that Barack Obama trailed Giuliani by 14, McCain by 22 and Romney by 1 in the Bluegrass. Zogby, in contrast, polled Obama and John Edwards both with "narrow leads" nationwide over the Republicans, according to Reuters.

Avian Amber Alert

Here's a chance to blow apart the liberal premise that conservatives hate endangered animals (in addition to small children and library books). A rare missing bird needs your help; all you have to do is go for a walk and hopefully find him.

If you didn't catch WHAS 11's remarkable piece on the whooping cranes, check it out. This breed is down to one last flock in the wild. Conservationists have bred a new flock and are attempting to help it migrate for the first time from Wisconsin to Florida. A man uses a motorized hang glider to show the birds the way south.

This new flock consists of 17, but as it passed through Kentucky on day 44 of the migration, one of the birds went missing. I am certain that I saw that missing crane Friday afternoon at the lake by Springhill Garden Drive.

We noticed the bird because it looked so out of place -- like a Florida crane in a Kentucky pond, all alone. We joked that maybe one of our neighbors had built a tropical aviary and left a window open.

Then last night we heard about the migration project and the missing crane. I called number for the project and was told that the bird got lost on Friday. I went back to the pond this morning and sadly, he was gone.

But he may be close by, and that's where you come in. Walk around your neighborhood, and pay close attention to the birds near creeks, ponds and standing water from the all the rain. You'll know if you see him. Then call the migration project at 1-800-675-2618. If you have your cell phone with you, take a picture.

I've never bought in to the liberal notion that we need government agencies, funding or legislation to make us care for our environment. We take care of the earth and its inhabitants as good stewards, and because we have a duty to protect the weak (whether it's a fetus or a whooping crane).

Noah didn't build the ark in obediance to or with any aid from FEMA. His ark did include a pair of whooping cranes, and now one of their descendents needs our help. Spread the word!

Does The Ditch-Mitch Team Have Any Starter?

Like UK quarterback Andre Woodson in the fourth overtime against LSU, the liberal Kentucky bloggers "had the ball knocked loose" last week. But it was worse for the Ditch-Mitch team, which started fumbling even before they took to the playing field.

The left-wing blogosphere can't agree on who their starting quarterback should be, and the bench is brawling with name-calling that is usually hurled at Republican office holders.

Liberal bloggers known more for personal fouls than yardage gains can be downright nasty when they turn on each other. Nasty, as in Louisville-fans-booing-Steve-Kragthorpe-at-the-Syracuse-game nasty.

The Yale Man, Matt Gunterman, perhaps stung by his school's walloping by Harvard, laments "that some people with power and influence in Democratic circles in the state and national party and the state and national blogosphere are lining up behind State Auditor Crit Luallen (D) in an attempt to muscle out other potential candidates from a Democratic primary, namely Attorney General Greg Stumbo (D) and Lt. Col. Andrew Horne (D)."

He proceeds to call a few Luallen supporters "a**holes" and complain that "national bloggers Kos of Daily Kos and Jonathan Singer of MyDD, simultaneously chose to highlight the draft movement for Crit Luallen while entirely ignoring the far more official candidacy of Greg Stumbo and the strong grassroots movement to draft Andrew Horne."

Then the Yale Man lambastes a Georgetown student, Liz Fossett, who created a website to encourage Luallen to run. Fossett allegedly "participat[ed] in a trolling operation that targeted the comments sections of neutral or non-Crit aligned blogs using the handles Kim, Katie, and Kati." The Yale Man writes that "[t]he principle [sic] targets of" Fossett's "trash talking were Andrew Horne and Joe Sonka of BlueGrassRoots and DitchMitchKY, who was accused of being a 'bought' blogger."

According to the Yale Man, "[w]hen confronted with the evidence of the trolling efforts, Ms. Fossett wrote a mea culpa of sorts in a diary at BlueGrassRoots. While Ms. Fossett admits that the various inflammatory comments did come from a single IP address that is a computer in her family’s home in northern Kentucky, she denies that she wrote the comments. Instead, it is her contention that other people in this household participated in the digital flogging." The Yale Man finds "this scenario difficult to believe."

For her part, Fossett acknowledges "[t]he campaign for Senate has yet to begin and already we have fumbled a bit." Her "technique," as she describes it, "got a little messy a few days ago."

Fossett concedes that "[i]mplying that Bluegrass Roots, or any other blog that is so open to the people, might be 'bought' is a silly complaint and untrue." Then she calls on the Left-Wing bloggers to move "beyond the hurtful words . . . [so] we can all focus on the goal to Ditch Mitch in 2008!"

More power to the Georgetown undergraduate if she can get the Yale Man to clean his mouth, but don't count on it. When these so-called "progressives" lack good arguments or game plans, all they have left to rely upon are simply expletives.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Recess For Do-Nothing Democrats

After a year of doing so little while in control of Congress, Democrats couldn't stand for the President to do anything either. So Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid made "the unprecedented decision to keep the Senate in pro-forma sessions during the holiday break," reports the Las Vegas Sun.

The purpose for keeping the turkeys in Washington was to prevent any recess presidential appointments -- including the naming of Kentuckian James Holsinger, M.D., as Surgeon General.

The Las Vegas Sun quotes a spokesman for Republican Leader Mitch McConnell as saying "Democrats would get as much done in the pro-forma 'as they have all month - nothing.'"

Indeed, as Jack Kelly of RealClearPolitics.com observes, "[t]he Democratic Congress has done virtually nothing except to try (and fail) to pass measures to cripple the war effort and to hamstring efforts to surveil terrorists," and "[v]oters have noticed" by making "[t]he current Congress . . . the most unpopular in the history of polling." For the latest polling numbers, see the post immediately below.

McConnell Remains More Popular Than Democrats

The Yale Man, Matt Gunterman, is clicking his heels about the latest Survey USA poll showing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's approval rating at 44%. But before he becomes too frenzied, here are some other numbers for perspective.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid's latest approval rating in his home state of Nevada: 39%.

Approval rating for Democratic-"led" Congress, according to the average of recent nationwide polls: 22.5% -- half of McConnell's approval rating.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bet On Mike Huckabee To Place

With the Iowa Republican presidential caucus a little over a month away (January 3, 2008), the remaining campaign period resembles Derby week: a crowded field of entries; jockeying for the best post position; and fear and loathing of the favorite.

Here's a betting tip, based on the latest Iowa poll numbers: Mike Huckabee to place, and not just in Iowa. Look for Huckabee to be the Republican vice presidential nominee.

In the ABC/Washington Post poll of the Iowa Republican caucus, conducted November 14-18, Mitt Romney held onto first place with 28% -- virtually unchanged from the last poll. But the real news is that Huckabee has surged into second place, with an astounding 24%. Next was Fred Thompson, with 15%, followed by Rudy Giuliani, who remains in fourth with 13%.

These numbers suggest Huckabee's dark horse candidacy remains viable, but a more likely outcome would be for him to be picked as second on the Republican ticket.

Despite their recent campaign attacks, Romney and Huckabee remain on good terms. Though they may seem an unlikely exacta, these candidates became friends while Governors of Massachusetts and Arkansas, respectively, and worked together closely as members of the Republican Governors Association. They have more in common than their respective campaigns may let on, and at the end of the day, a Baptist Southerner would bring nice balance to a ticket headed by a Mormon Northeasterner.

A similar argument could be made for the pairing of Huckabee with Giuliani, a Roman Catholic New Yorker.

And what if Thompson, the Tennessee Presbyterian, were to win the Republican nomination? Though having a Protestant Arkansan and Tennessean on the same presidential ticket may seem redundant, recall that this combination worked well for the Democrats in 1992 and 1996.

But don't count on that scenario happening because Thompson, with sinking poll numbers, has faded even before the stretch. The same can be said for John McCain, who polled only 6% in the latest Iowa count.

The only Republican presidential candidate making a move is Huckabee, and though he remains a long shot for the presidential nomination, Huckabee may be best horse to ride if one wants to support a Republican presidential candidate with the best chance of being somewhere on the ballot in November 2008.

Blessed Thanksgiving

Political correctness has undercut the meaning of Thanksgiving for some small children and historically-challenged adults. As a result, there is some confusion about to whom the Pilgrims gave thanks that First Thanksgiving.

Though the Pilgrims invited the Indians (or Native Americans, if you prefer) to their feast, in gratitude for the Indians' kindness, the point of the feast was to worship and thank the Lord -- not the Indians.

George Washington understood that distinction and amplified it in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. Our first president reminded us that "it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

America's exceptionalism is a direct blessing that flows from the faith of Washington and many of our other Founders.

In addition to gutting the reason for our most sacred holidays, political correctness also teaches us that we should dismiss the Founding Fathers as a bunch of "dead white guys." And any time a public official refers to the Lord, we are warned that the "religious right" stands ready to impose a theocracy.

Washington's Proclamation reminds us, however, that we are a country founded upon Judeo-Christian values. The Pilgrims sought freedom of religion -- not freedom from religion.

Our first president's directive speaks to us as forcefully today as it did to our new country in 1789: we are to give thanks to the "great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be."

Scientific Progress That Worries "Progressives"

Liberals like to call themselves "progressives", but they are notably against making progress in certain areas. Like winning the war in Iraq. Heaven forbid, or President Bush's popularity rating would improve. Or the Strategic Defense Initiative, which liberals pooh-poohed as "Star Wars" when President Reagan introduced the concept in the 1980s. Leftists hated SDI because they knew that advancement by the U.S. in that field would undermine their long-favored policy of appeasement towards the Soviets.

A more recent liberal pet peeve has been the ongoing scientific research into alternatives for embryonic stem cell research. Progress on this front would, of course, take away the false Democratic talking point that the sick are being denied new medical cures because the Republicans keep insisting on protecting embryonic life. For folks who like to claim they are more "scientific" than, say, the Creation Museum, these "progressives" have advanced a rather ironic agenda that is decidedly against scientific progress in the use of non-embryonic cells.

Today there is only bad news for the anti-embryo crowd. According to the Associated Press, scientists have reported in the journals Science and Cell "that they had coaxed regular human cells into mimicking the disease-fighting potential of embryonic stem cells - without destroying budding human life." AP comments that this "breakthrough in stem cell research could give President Bush and his anti-abortion allies a political I-told-you-so in a debate Democrats have long been planning to use in next year's elections."

AP reports this comment from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: "Maybe we can all now reach agreement on what has been an all-too-divisive issue and advance this promising research through the power of federal funds." So Dr. Cassaro, Esq., what do you think?

Monday, November 19, 2007

GOP: Beware of Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Given the name of this blog, I couldn't resist:

"Wildlife experts in northeastern India are experimenting with a new weapon to prevent marauding elephants from destroying homes and crops and trampling people in villages close to their habitat -- super-hot chilies."

Click here for details. If the Democratic National Convention hosts a chili cook-off, you'll know why.

Joe Sonka's Grim Commentary Lacks Grounding

Earth to DitchMitch.com blogger Joe Sonka: It was a joke, it was only a joke.

Sonka has gone apoplectic over Senator Mitch McConnell's description of himself as the "grim reaper" for bad liberal legislation that meets its death in the U.S. Senate. McConnell made the quip at last week's Federalist Society national convention to a roomful of laughs.

Sonka's reaction was: "I made a vow after I read that quote last night. I will devote every last second, every last amount of energy I have, every last drop of my blood, my very last breath, to making sure that Mitch McConnell does not serve another term in the US Senate."

Apparently it was Michael Moore who worked Sonka into his lather. Sonka reports that he had "just finished watching SiCKO" when he read an email account of McConnell's speech.

Sonka has a Michael Moore-like approach to facts: he invents them. First, he makes the curious argument that people will die if SCHIP is not enacted into law, and says McConnell is to blame. Sonka, however, fails to explain why circumstances are so dire for people with incomes that are four hundred percent (400%) above the poverty line -- the portion of the middle class that SCHIP would cover if Democrats expand it.

Sonka then asserts the whopper that "18,000 people die every year simply because they do not have health insurance." Perhaps Sonka should ask Dennis Kucinich where in the universe that statistic can be found. We will never know because the only authority Sonka cites for that number is himself.

But Sonka's creativity reaches its peak with an argument in which he implies that military and civilian casualties in Iraq have increased since Saddam Hussein was deposed and again, McConnell is to blame. Sonka turns a completely blind eye to the people who are the culprits for the vast majority of violent deaths in Iraq since Saddam: Al-Qaeda.

Perhaps Sonka needs a primer on the organization that directed the 9/11 attacks and is responsible for numerous atrocities in Iraq and around the world. Iraqi deaths from Al-Qaeda have dramatically abated since the U.S. troop surge. But like the Khmer Rouge, Al-Qaeda can be counted on to turn Iraq into killing fields if the United States abandons Iraq as it did Southeast Asia in the 1970s.

Sonka must also be unaware of the number of people who died under Saddam Hussein's regime: 600,000 civilian executions and another 500,000 military deaths -- a figure that far dwarfs the losses since Saddam was driven from power.

Sonka can say whatever he wants to criticize American involvement in Iraq, but he is flatly wrong to claim that killing in Iraq has gone up since Saddam was deposed. Nor should Sonka make the false claim that deaths in Iraqi would be lower if the U.S. military beat a retreat.

The repercussions if Sonka and his like caused America to claim defeat in Iraq would be devastating for the people of Iraq and the United States. And that's no joking matter.

U.S. Senate Race

The Kentucky race for Mitch McConnell's U.S. Senate seat continues to draw national press, as Democrats fantasize that Ernie Fletcher may be contagious.

Two points to note from the AP article: University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said McConnell remains the favorite in next year's race. "My money's on McConnell and always is because he has so much money," Sabato said. "He's the minority leader, and he's as wily as anybody in politics."

* * *

"I'm a bigger target, but I'm a pretty big boy," McConnell said. "And I'll tell you this, as I've said before, they throw a pebble at me, I'm going to throw a boulder back." Read the full article, here.

And as for those web rumors that McConnell is going to endorse Rudy Giuliani, Jefferson Poole is correct -- McConnell is not endorsing any presidential candidate.

Whoops, They Did it Again

It's a recurring pattern. The Lexington-Herald's John Cheves writes an "investigative" piece, accusing Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of some impropriety. McConnell writes an op-ed to set the record straight. The Herald-Leader, however, doesn't print the McConnell letter without first redacting information that might undermine the paper's credibility.

Earlier this month, the Herald-Leader delayed printing and then excised a chunk of a McConnell op-ed. McConnell had questioned the impartiality of Cheves, who had written an article complaining about a Congressional earmark to a Louisville defense contractor, BAE. (See John David Dyche's column and related coverage).

Cheves is now "investigating" federal funding of a financial data retention site at the University of Kentucky, though his real focus is McConnell's motive for securing the funding. The senator wrote to address Cheves's innuendo.

The Herald-Leader printed McConnell's response -- but once again, only in part. The paper did not warn readers that it had redacted a large portion of the senator's response, let alone explain why.

If McConnell censored the Herald-Leader, First Amendment advocates would protest the prior restraint. But when a liberal paper censors a conservative, it's business as usual.

Here's the portion of McConnell's letter that the Herald-Leader failed to print, according to an anonymous source:

If readers knew that Mr. Cheves worked as a staffer to a liberal Democratic Senator in Washington, D.C., until just two months ago, they would understand his partisan slant.

Before working for a Democrat, Mr. Cheves wrote a series of one-sided articles funded by a liberal special-interest group. When word of the shady funding leaked last year, the Herald-Leader’s owner, the McClatchy Co., embarrassingly—but correctly—made the paper refund the group’s money.

Bob Steele, who teaches journalism at the respected Poynter Institute, called the Herald-Leader’s actions “ethically problematic.”

A number of people interviewed by Mr. Cheves for those articles dispute his description of their discussions. Wendy Baldwin, formerly of UK, called Mr. Cheves’s characterization of their conversation “very misleading.” A former Treasury Department official interviewed by Mr. Cheves said he “certainly misrepresented what we told him. In fact, he lied.”

I sat with Mr. Cheves for hours of one-on-one interviews for those articles and refuted every one of his charges. My staff provided documentation backing up my positions. Not surprisingly, Mr. Cheves’s stories included virtually none of my side of the story.

Instead, they merely repeat the preconceived conclusions that he and the liberal special-interest group funding his attacks have clung to for so long.


Interestingly, the Courier-Journal gave the Herald-Leader an opportunity to respond to John David Dyche's column about the first redacted op-ed. The C-J printed the Herald-Leader's response as a sidebar to the column, the same day.

One liberal paper offered another an advance opportunity to rebut a charge of bias. It was easier for the Herald-Leader to get its response published in the C-J than it is for Kentucky's senior senator to get his letter printed in the Herald-Leader-- that is, without the Lizzie Borden-like editing.

The Herald-Leader's response to the C-J stated that when Cheves worked for a liberal Democrat senator until recently, his "work was not political in nature." The paper noted that Cheves was paid by a fellowship from a "non-partisan group that has run a congressional fellowship program for more than 50 years."

If Cheves's fellowship was so above-board -- so prestigious, even -- then why does the Herald-Leader keep chopping references to it from McConnell's letters to the editor?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Justice Thomas Meets the Bush Boys

It's not often that our children get to meet an honest-to-God hero, but today they met such a man, Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States, who spoke to the national convention of the Federalist Society.

In his remarks, Justice Thomas discussed his memoir, My Grandfather's Son, and the many Americans he has met as he travels around the country to sign the book. He then took questions from the audience. Granted, this group of conservative lawyers was a friendly crowd, so the standing ovation and applause came as no surprise. Justice Thomas, however, interspersed numerous one-liners with commentary on everything from the confirmation process to natural rights jurisprudence to his marriage.

"He's really funny," my ten-year old, Eric, observed. "I didn't expect him to make everyone laugh." Christian, my 12-year old, was struck by the Justice's "patience and persistence" in overcoming adversity.

Following the q & a, we asked Justice Thomas to sign our copies of his memoir. After he signed Eric's copy, Eric said, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course," Justice Thomas replied, ignoring the several hundred people in line to have their books signed.

"If you could change one part of the Constitution, what part would you change?" Eric asked.

Justice Thomas stopped signing books and reflected on the question. Then he said, "I don't think I'd change any of it. How about you -- what would you change?" he asked.

Eric considered that and said, "I don't think I'd change anything, either."

"Then we agree," Justice Thomas said, "that we have a pretty good Constitution just the way it is, right? And you know, it's shorter than the warranty for your watch."

Then Justice Thomas gave Eric an assignment: "I want you to go and look up the constitution for the European Union and see if it's longer than our Constitution. Then you write and tell me, OK?"

Eric agreed to do so, shook the Justice's hand and said good bye. As he was leaving, Justice Thomas stopped signing the next book and said to Eric, "You won't forget?"

His aide took me aside and said that the Justice was sincere about wanting to hear from Eric.

The whole exchange underscored a point that Justice Thomas had made in his remarks. He loves to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds, but he especially enjoys questions from children. "Some of their questions are so innocent, it just gets you thinking," he said.

As my kids observed, this powerful jurist is funny, patient and persistent. Despite all liberal smears to the contrary, he is exceedingly bright. Liberal reviews of his memoir describe him as a bitter, angry man, but we saw none of that. He demonstrated a cheerfulness and the peace that comes from knowing that even adversity cannot destroy hope.

The characteristic that has always struck me about Justice Thomas is his tremendous humility. Like him or not, he is one of the most important people in the country. And yet he listened to my little boy's question, really listened without any condescension -- nothing but kindness and courtesy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Repeal the AMT -- Once and For All

Time is running out for Congress to fix the mess it has made with the Alternative Minimum Tax. This tax was designed to prevent the super rich from paying no taxes whatsoever. When it was enacted in 1969, it only applied to 155 families.

But Congress forgot to index the tax for inflation. Consequently, it applies to more and more families each year. In essence, this "stealth tax" allows Congress to raise our taxes automatically, without even voting on issue.

If Congress fails to act, 25 million Americans will be subject to the tax for 2007. That's up from 3.5 million for 2006. In Kentucky, the AMT will hit 174,000 taxpayers.

Year after year Congress has enacted "patches" to prevent the AMT from sweeping middle class families into its grasp. Instead of applying an annual band-aid, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Congress to repeal the AMT altogether.

But the Democratically "led" Congress has stonewalled on reform so long that the IRS has said that it won't be able to process tax refunds in a timely manner.

Instead of passing out cute buttons that say "Article 1," John Yarmuth needs to prod his cohorts in the House to fix the AMT, by repealing it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Get Your Clinton Library Card

Hillary argues that the vast experience she acquired as co-president justifies a vote to send her back to the White House with Bill as First Laddie. But she won't release the papers that discuss her experience. Tell Hillary that we want to see what she's hiding in the Clinton Library.

Kentucky Senate Race in Human Events

Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) offers a little down home sense to contradict the mainstream media's hypothesis that Senator Mitch McConnell is vulnerable in '08. Thayer's piece on how Kentuckians perceive the Republican Senate Leader appears in President Ronald Reagan's favorite publication, Human Events.

Giuliani Leads Clinton In The Bluegrass

Lost in the Democrats' ballyhoos of last week's election were some poll numbers that show Kentucky is likely to remain Republican in the '08 presidential election, at least if Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton are the nominees. The latest Rasmussen poll in the Bluegrass, conducted November 1, shows Giuliani defeating Clinton 47% to 41%. His lead was outside the margin of error (+/- 4.5 %).

The percentage of surveyed voters who viewed Hillary unfavorably was an even worse number for her -- 47%, compared to Rudy's 38%. His favorable rating was 54%; hers, 48%.

The same survey found Fred Thompson in a statistical dead heat with Clinton, 44% versus 43%. The poll apparently did not study the match-up between Mitt Romney and Clinton or between a Republican and any of the other Democratic contenders.

Hillary Clinton's latest poll numbers in Kentucky are less than the highest percentage that Bill Clinton achieved in the Commonwealth -- 45.84%, in the 1996 election. (In 1992, Clinton received 44.55%.) For Democrats who are still spinning Steve Beshear's victory last week, the sober fact remains that not a single Democratic presidential nominee has garnered more than 50% of Kentucky voters in a general election since the days of Jimmy Carter.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Doctor-Lawyer Opposes McConnell

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has an actual opponent, undoubtedly the first of several. Dr. Michael G. Cassaro, Esq. of Prospect, announced that he will run for McConnell's seat. (If elected, would we call him the Honorable Senator Dr. Cassaro, Esq.? Good thing we colonists renounced titles.)

Cassaro, according to WHAS 11 Mark Hebert, practices medicine with a specialty in pain management, but was also educated as an engineer and an attorney (though he is not listed in the Louisville Bar Association 2007 Directory).

Perhaps, given that he is a physician, Cassaro can discuss the issue of healthcare with a little more thoughtfulness than the left has shown in the senate race thus far.

Take the issue of the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Republicans, including McConnell, agreed to renew the program to give free health insurance for poor children who don't qualify for Medicaid.

The Democrats insisted that the program be increased to cover more children -- those whose family income is well above the poverty line. Under the Democrats' proposed expansion, for example, a family of four with an $84,000 income in New York would qualify for SCHIP. The president correctly vetoed the program as expanded, and McConnell supported the president when the Democrats tried to override the veto.

In response, the Democrats ran ads against McConnell, asserting, in essence, that he hates children (even though he is the father of three girls).

It's the same logic that we saw with the proposed Louisville Library Tax: if you oppose the tax, that means you hate books. But the voters didn't fall for it.

Republicans don't hate small children (or books). To the contrary, as Susan Estrich complained, while promoting her book on the Laura Ingraham show, conservatives buy more books than liberals. And one of the unintended consequences of the Democrats' assault on families and fetuses is that Republicans bear more children than Democrats.

No, McConnell and Republicans agree that poor children need access to affordable healthcare. The issue, however, is how best to accomplish that goal. That's why the Republican leader has urged the Democrats to renew the coverage for those children previously covered -- for whom there is bipartisan support. Instead, the Democrats risk coverage for the neediest children while trying to expand the program.

Legislators draw lines to allocate scarce resources. So the real issue in the SCHIP debate is how far up from the poverty line we draw the line -- three hundred percent, or as the Democrats have demanded, four hundred percent above the poverty line -- or further?

Truthfully, many Democrats don't want to draw a line, any line, because that necessarily means leaving children out, thereby forcing their parents to hold down jobs and buy health insurance. That's why the SCHIP debate, at its core, is about universal health insurance.

Oregon voters recently confronted a ballot initiative that would have imposed universal health care for children, to be funded by cigarette taxes -- virtually the identical plan that Democrats have pushed in Congress. Though more liberal than the average Kentuckian, Oregon voters rejected the plan by a margin of three to two. Notwithstanding the negative advertising funded by out of state interest groups, McConnell 's approach of renewing SCHIP but holding the line on its expansion comports with the values of Kentucky voters.

Why would the Democrats expand SCHIP when we have not yet solved how to fund Social Security? Like building an addition when you can't pay your mortgage, it's just profligate. But Democrats know that the surest way to guarantee an entitlement's permanency is to give the middle class a piece of it. And that is exactly what the SCHIP expansion would do, at least incrementally.

So the question for Dr. Cassaro, Esq., to address when he formally announces his candidacy today, is whether he is ready to practice medicine for the government, if the senate gig doesn't work out. Maybe that's why he hedged his bets and went to law school.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Forget Ft. Lauderdale: Kentucky Is Where The Boys Are

Talk about a cultural experience. "I saw naked people who'd been having sex but got up to answer the door," reported back a Columbia College coed who canvassed on behalf of Governor-elect Steve Beshear last weekend. "Wow, your sex must really suck if you get up halfway through it to answer the door."

Where's a privacy penumbra when you need it? Yet another group of Ivy League students is out to drum up Kentucky Democrats to vote. Move on over DitchMitch.com blogger Matt Gunterman.

According to the student newspaper Columbia Daily Spectator, these "rowdy Columbia Democrats" used their fall break "in the way intended by its 1968 architects" -- "to engage in the electoral process." Groooovy.

(For those too young to remember the 1960s and thus perhaps do not understand the title above, click here.)

Why are Columbia College Democrats so concerned about Kentucky politics? Columbia College senior J.D. Porter, a writer for the Columbia Daily Spectator, summed it up nicely yesterday: "Here at Columbia, as at most top universities, we enjoy belittling conservative beliefs. Even the professors are in on it, and conservatives often find their beliefs directly challenged by academic trickery, like thinking about things, and facts." Might he be auditioning for a job at the Courier-Journal?

"I'm not sure we've had a group together like Columbia University," said Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Mongiardo, who apparently either doesn't mind or doesn't recognize their condescension. "They've been incredible."

So this is what the Beshear-Mongiardo ticket meant when they pledged to promote "adventure tourism."

The Columbia Daily Spectator is so proud of the Columbia College Democrats that it has devoted an entire blogging section to their travels, slide show and all.

The Columbians reportedly may return in '08 to campaign against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. It's time to tighten border security.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thank a Vet

Here are several ways to thank the men and women of our military as we approach Veteran's Day.

You can send an letter to thank a current member of the service. Click here, and don't worry; this is not a fundraiser -- simply a way to say "thanks." And you can wish a Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps: today is the 232nd anniversary of its founding.

In Louisville, you can thank vets who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq in person. This is also a great opportunity to get their unfiltered perspective on the war. This rally will be held at Eastwood Community Center, which is located at 16300 Eastwood Cutoff Road, Louisville KY 40245 at 3:00 P.M. November 10, 2007. (HT: Blue Grass, Red State).

Be forewarned, however, Moveon.org and some other nutroots are trying to crash this opportunity to honor our troops.

Call PETA: Cheves Beats Dead Horse

Lexington Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves is shocked, shocked that a Democratically "led" Congress ignored his unending series of hit pieces against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Late last night, both houses agreed to keep an earmark for BAE, a defense contractor that builds naval weapons in Louisville. Cheves did not indicate whether he will urge President Bush to veto the bill.

Despite the vast amount of ink that Cheves has spilled rerunning the same allegations, there is much that he has not written. Cheves has still not disclosed that his paper returned money when Cheves was caught in a pay for play scandal, in which left-wing groups funded him to "investigate" McConnell. Nor has he disclosed to readers that until recently, he worked for one of the most liberal members of the Senate.

Cheves also gets it wrong on a few other points. BAE, a British company, is accused of bribing the Saudi prince 19 years before it acquired its Louisville facility. BAE's alleged bribe involved an Army contract. But its Louisville plant is the Old Naval Ordnance. Apparently to Cheves, the branches of the military are fungible; he should test that theory by interviewing some real servicemen.

His accusation that McConnell somehow exempted BAE from the procurement process is wrong. BAE has won competitively bid contracts for the naval guns, and the work funded by the earmark is in the Navy's internal, long-term budget.

This is not just about Louisville jobs; this is about national security. The earmark funds the gun system that keeps our Navy safe on the Persian Gulf if (or when) the terrorists try to repeat the attack that they launched on the U.S.S. Cole.

We can't stop building these guns just because of an unrelated -- and still unproven -- allegation. That defies common sense and Congressional precedent: Congress continued to approve earmarks to Boeing, even after some of its officials plead guilty to malfeasance. We need to supply our troops with the best available technology, and that includes the naval guns made in Louisville.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

McConnell Unveils 1st Ad of '08 Campaign

The '08 Senate race begins in earnest with a new 60 second TV ad by incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell. It makes an important point: McConnell is only the second senator from Kentucky to lead his party in the Senate. That gives our commonwealth vastly more representation in Washington than we would be entitled to just by virtue of our population. We'd be insane to squander this opportunity to get things done that benefit Kentucky, and our country. Click here to preview the ad.

Across the Country, Voters Say "No" to Democrat Taxes

The overwhelming defeat of the occupational tax to fund the Louisville library system reflects voter hostility to similar Democrat plans to raise taxes around the country -- regardless of how laudable the rationale for the tax increase.

In Louisville, the library tax lost by a two to one margin, despite major plugging by Democratic Mayor Jerry Abramson and the reliably liberal Courier-Journal. The defeat of the library tax, however, was not a Louisville phenomenon but rather part of a national trend.

Nearby Indianapolis has a new Republican major, as well as a Republican majority on the city council. Mayor-elect Greg Ballard was outspent but nonetheless defeated the Democrat incumbent who had raised income taxes. The .65 percent income tax increase was devoted to law enforcement -- like libraries, a worthy goal. But the tax hike came at a time when voters were struggling to pay higher tax bills, following a state-ordered reassessment.

Washington state, not usually known as a Republican stronghold, also rejected a ballot initiative to impose higher taxes. Proposition 1 would have made Washington history as the biggest transportation tax proposal ever. The rationale: to improve traffic congestion in the Seattle area. Anyone who has ever driven in Seattle knows that traffic there is a nightmare. So the problem with the ballot initiative was the means -- higher taxes -- rather than the objective.

To protect themselves from future increases, moreover, Washington voters passed a ballot initiative that would require either voter approval or a two-thirds vote of each house to increase taxes.

Oregon voters voted down a 84.5 per pack tax increase for cigarettes -- even though the tax money was supposed to fund children's health insurance. The margin was not even close: 60 to 40. As in Louisville, voters saw through the plea to raise taxes "for the kids."

In Ohio, a bellwether state for the presidential race, Hamilton County residents rejected a proposed sales tax increase plan to fund the county jail. Now that doesn't mean that Ohio voters want criminals roaming their streets; these voters have simply drawn in a line in the sand against new taxes.

Note that all of the foregoing tax proposals were tied to projects that a majority of voters might be inclined to support, if funded in a fiscally responsible way. The voters distinguished between the goal -- libraries, mass transit, children's health insurance, law enforcement, and new jails -- and the means: an unending and ever-escalating tax burden.

The voters have given Republican candidates for '08 a clear road map to election: no new taxes. That's not just a formula to win; it's how to govern.

Stumbo Stumbles on Election Law Compliance

Soon to be Former-Attorney General Greg Stumbo has spent the last four years playing "gotcha" whenever Governor Ernie Fletcher violated any provision of the law, no matter how small. But Stumbo can't seem to adhere to the same high standard that he has demanded of others.

As Captain's Quarters notes, Stumbo failed to file required forms with the Federal Election Commission that would have disclosed Stumbo's individual donors. This would have told us, for instance, whether Stumbo is drawing money from out of state (Barbara Streisand, can you spare a dime?)

Stumbo said he's "on pace" to raise $200,000 to test the waters for a senate bid. Voters are entitled know the identity of his donors. So far, however, it appears that Stumbo has not filed the required updates.

Stumbo promised "to push for election laws that protect citizens from corruption and hidden influence," and yet has not complied with exisging laws. Former FEC Chair Brad Smith, discussing Stumbo's failure to file, notes that "as is so often the case, those in apparent violation have long lobbied for more complex, more burdensome laws."

Stumbo, moreover, brought this reporting requirement upon himself when he filed papers with the FEC last July to announce an exploratory committee for Mitch McConnell's U.S. Senate seat. If Stumbo can't or won't file the FEC quarterly reports, maybe he ought to explore a new line of employment -- in the private sector.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Richie Farmer, Library Tax Foes Outpoll Beshear

Newsweek's Howard Fineman (formerly of the Courier-Journal) begins his analysis of yesterday's election with the question, "Is the Bluegrass State turning Blue?" He suggests that Steve Beshear's victory over Governor Ernie Fletcher may be a harbinger of success for the Democratic nominee in next year's presidential election.

In support of his thesis, Fineman cites this example: "A generation ago, in 1967, a lawyer from southern Kentucky named Louie B. Nunn became the first Republican since World War II to be elected governor of the state. A year later Richard Nixon won the White House. " Fineman asks whether history may be about to repeat itself with party roles reversed.

Not likely. For one thing, although Beshear's margin of victory was impressive, the candidate who garnered the most votes in a statewide contest yesterday was not Beshear or any other Democrat. It was a Republican: Richie Farmer, for Agriculture Commissioner.

Farmer received 644,789 votes compared to Beshear's 619,557 votes. That hardly suggests that Kentucky will turn blue in next year's election. The Republicans' advantage is potentially even greater than this comparision suggests, given that Beshear benefited from a divided Republican party primary in the governor's race.

Fineman also points to Republican Anne Northup's loss of her congressional seat to John Yarmuth last year as evidence of the Commonwealth's move to the left. What he fails to consider, however, is that this Congressional district encompasses Jefferson County -- historically one of the most liberal counties in Kentucky. Yet even in that Democratic hot-bed, more voters cast their ballots in favor of the conservative opposition to the library tax (143,350 votes) than voted for Beshear (141,462 votes).

In fact, only one third of Jefferson County voters supported the Democratic position on the library tax. In the words of Democratic Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, he and others who campaigned for the tax got "a thumping."

To the extent that yesterday's results can be extrapolated for '08, Fineman has misread the tobacco leaves.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Not So Bad, All in All

We knew that Democrats would reclaim the Governor's Mansion, and the margin (59-41 percent) confirmed the polls. But there was considerable good news despite this loss.

At the outset, Beshear forgot his coat tails. As a result, enough Kentuckians split their tickets to reelect Secretary of State Trey Grayson (57-43 percent) and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer (64-38 percent). Notwithstanding an historic win for the office of governor, two Republicans still carried the state with comfortable margins. The lesson: Kentucky is still a right of center state, as long as the candidate appears to be competent.

As to competency, it was not the hiring scandal that sunk Fletcher. It was when he caused the Capitol to be evacuated by flying his plane too close on the way to Ronald Reagan's funeral. That was "game over" for the Fletcher administration. No, the governor didn't personally fly his official plane. But every time his campaign reminded us that he was a former fighter pilot for the Air Force, the image of staffers running from the Capitol sprang to mind.

But back to the good news. There was the library tax in Jefferson County -- the most liberal part of the Commonwealth. Voters rejected that tax 68-32 percent, even after a relentless ad campaign, that included celebrity commercials and the Courier-Journal's longest-running endorsement series. This was a serious slap in the face for the C-J and the liberal elites who litter its pages.

Several implications flow from the library tax defeat. First, even the last liberal holdout in Kentucky rejects the "progressive" prescription of improving all aspects of life by tossing taxpayers' money at the issue. Beshear must understand that Kentuckians voted against Fletcher but not in favor of Beshear (or a Democratic agenda). He has no mandate. None.

Second, no matter how much the "progressives" tried to obfuscate their endgame -- including a three paragraph referendum that neglected to mention the word "tax" -- Kentucky voters saw through the smoke. At the end of the workday, Kentucky workers prefer to spend their hard-earned money as they see fit, rather than delegate that task to Frankfort -- or Washington.

What this means for 2008: a Republican who is a fiscal conservative with a record of competence is exactly the sort of candidate whom Kentucky is inclined to elect at this point in history. That bodes well for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, and as for the presidential candidate, time (and your comments and votes) will tell.

Locally, it is time for Metro Councilman Hal Heiner to push for library construction funded by bonds. He deserves credit for pointing out that we can improve our county's infrastructure without resorting to a tax and for offering an alternative plan. If Heiner can deliver on this issue, we should draft him to run for Metro Mayor.

Did Cheves's Dog Eat McConnell's Op-Ed?

When it comes to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, the Lexington Herald-Leader has dropped all pretense of impartiality or even professionalism.

Take, for example, how the Herald-Leader handled a letter to the editor that Senator McConnell submitted to it. The paper gave McConnell's letter to its reporter to use in a story and yet failed to print McConnell's letter. That is, the Herald-Leader allowed its reporter to rebut McConnell without letting readers see the actual letter.

It all started when reporter John Cheves attacked McConnell on Saturday, October 27th for an earmark to fund defense industry jobs in Kentucky. BAE, the British company slated to build the armaments, is under investigation for bribing the prince of Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, October 29th, McConnell sent by email a letter to the editor to respond to Cheves's accusations; Cheves had implied that the BAE earmark was a payback for its campaign contributions to McConnell. These were serious insinuations to which the senator was entitled to respond.

One would expect the Herald-Leader to print McConnell's response, and to do so quickly. Days passed, however, and still the Herald-Leader did not print McConnell's letter. That was not an innocent omission; it turns out that the paper gave the letter to Cheves.

Consequently, on Friday, November 2, the paper printed a follow-up by Cheves. Incredibly, Cheves quoted a snippet of the text of McConnell's letter -- and yet the paper still refused to print the letter itself. This was not an editorial oversight. To the contrary, the Herald-Leader wrote an editorial to accompany Cheves' follow-up.

In his follow-up, Cheves whined that "McConnell's office did not return repeated calls for comment." But McConnell had already commented at length in his letter to the editor -- the same letter that the Herald-Leader was hiding from its readers.

Finally, one week after McConnell emailed his letter, the Herald-Leader printed a redacted version of it on Monday, November 5. The paper did not have the fairness or courtesy to notify McConnell of the substantive changes it made to the senator's op-ed without his permission.

It's instructive to compare the version that the paper published with the original, unedited version of McConnell's letter. Plainly, the Lexington-Herald did not edit the Senator out of a concern for clarity or grammar. The paper deleted all reference, context and background on Cheves:

Reporter John Cheves, the man who did a series of lengthy articles last year attacking me, is at it again. Shortly before those stories appeared in the Herald-Leader, it came to light that the research had been funded by a liberal, out-of-state special-interest group. Once that news broke, the owners of the Herald Leader insisted that the paper return the funds that had been provided to the reporter. Now, the same reporter who was tarnished by the out-of-state special-interest funding, and who recently returned from spending the last year on the staff of one of the most liberal United States senators. . . .

No wonder the Herald-Leader did not want its readers to learn of Cheves's role as a Democratic Senate staffer, or his history of pay for play journalism to attack McConnell. Cheves is not just an author of a series of stories about McConnell: Cheves is the story.

Cheves and his paper delayed McConnell's response for an entire week, without explanation. But the reason -- or at least the consequence -- is clear: that delay bought time for "non-partisan" groups to organize opposition to the BAE earmark.

BAE workers in Kentucky, meanwhile, are left wondering how long they will have jobs -- even though BAE has not even been indicted for anything, and is not alleged to have done anything improper regarding its Kentucky facility. If all it takes to get an earmark dropped is an unproven allegation of impropriety anywhere in the world, then all workers for government contractors should be worried for their jobs.

Monday, November 5, 2007

When You Go to Vote, Don't Forget to Wear Shoes

"Kentucky Republicans tend not to be the brightest bulbs or outside-the-box thinkers. " So pontificates DitchMitchKy.com blogger Matt Gunterman. In the words of Thurston Howell III, "he must be a Yale man, Lovie."

Gunterman, who says he is "a doctoral student in the history of medicine and teaching fellow" at Bill and Hillary's Alma mater, can hardly restrain himself from singing "Boola, Boola" given the Democrats' prospects in tomorrow's election. (Speaking of restraint, or the lack thereof, Gunterman today wrote a bizarre piece about Governor Fletcher and Robbie Rudolph that takes political, or should we say Freudian, projecting to a new level.)

Gunterman also reports that "Soon-To-Be Gov. Steve Beshear can transform how the world sees Kentucky and how Kentuckians see themselves." Gunterman should do his part first by scrubbing his blog, where expletives and name-calling substitute for facts and logic. (You may need to disable your parental control settings to access the link, given the profanity.)

Yesterday Gunterman's colleague, Shawn Dixon, criticized singer Pat Boone's phone message endorsing Governor Fletcher, complaining that we don't need "California friends calling us to talk about Kentucky values." Note that Dixon claims he "will matriculate this fall in the JD program at New York University School of Law, where he has been awarded the prestigious AnBryce Scholarship." (Congrats!)

Thank goodness these philosopher kings have deigned to enlighten us Kentucky rubes from their perches in Greenwich Village and New Haven.

For local flavor, their comrade Jim Pence's offering boils down to "Liar, liar, pants on fire," and various You Tube videos, one of which features a hillbilly with a shotgun offering dim-witted sexual innuendo about Republicans. (Is this a hate crime?)

If this level of argument is the best that Kentucky liberals -- a/k/a "progressives" -- can muster, then conservatives should take heart, even though elephants may seem to be endangered species in the Bluegrass tomorrow.

The Library Tax is Not a Done Deal

The momentum on the library tax seems to have shifted over the weekend. Previously, the tenor of the pro-tax ad campaign made it somewhat embarrassing to oppose this tax, at least publicly. The pro-taxers had cleverly defined the issue in a way that suggested that only illiterate Grinches could oppose the tax.

But as more and local celebrities -- like Denny Crum and Rick Pitino -- voiced their support, the citizenry became enraged. We may love our coaches, and happily pay them their humongous salaries. But if these guys want to give money to the library they need to donate. We pay them the big bucks, so they can spend their money as they please -- and we'd like to spend our money as we see fit. We didn't hire them to make fiscal policy.

And Mayor Jerry Abramson, whom many Republicans supported, has revealed himself to be a flip-flopper. He promised us that he could merge county and city governments with such cost-savings that we'd get new libraries without new taxes. Jerry's about-face may be the biggest factor that draws fiscal conservatives to the polls tomorrow.

People began grumbling about the tax over the weekend, and now the emails in opposition to it are going viral. (Readers, if you post your comment to this blog, I can share it. If you send it to my email, I can't).

New Poll Shows Dems Should Stop Licking Their Chops

Not a single vote has been cast (other than by absentees) in this year's elections, and Democrats are already spinning the anticipated results. They assume that a loss for Governor Ernie Fletcher spells defeat for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell when he seeks reelection next year.

A Rasmusson Poll, however, flatly contradicts the Democrats' electoral fantasies. This was no push poll: Rasmusson is an independent pollster, and one of the most respected in the business.

Even at a time when public approval of Congress has sunk to an historic low, McConnell's favorable rating among Kentucky voters is quite high: 56 percent. Moreover, nearly one out of every three Kentucky voters views McConnell very favorably. That's alot of highly motivated voters to post yard signs and bumpers stickers -- and to donate.

Rasmusson notes that McConnell has been targeted with a number of negative TV ads recently. And though 59 percent of Kentuckians would like to bring our troops home within the year, McConnell's negative rating is only 36 percent.

Here are the numbers against two of McConnell's likely opponents. If McConnell faced Attorney General Greg Stumbo today, McConnell would win (48 to 41 percent). Against State Auditor Crit Luallen, McConnell would be reelected, 49 to 39 percent.

Rasmusson noted that "given the difficult political environment for Republicans both nationally and in Kentucky, McConnell’s numbers aren’t all that bad."

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Lex. Herald-Leader Took Money for Cheves to "Investigate" Mitch

This comes from the Washington Post -- not typically known as part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. The unnamed reporter it discusses is John Cheves, who recently implied that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was taking bribes from a British defense company. When Cheves writes about conflicts of interest and the undue influence of money, he certainly does so with experience.

Tainted Series?
Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader yesterday launched an investigative series on Sen. Mitch McConnell pushing legislation for his affluent donors -- an effort originally paid for by a foundation that has financed several liberal groups that oppose the Republican lawmaker.
The paper's parent firm, McClatchy Co., decided last week to repay the $35,000 grant, which underwrote six months of salary and expenses for a Herald-Leader reporter on leave. The grant came from the respected Center for Investigative Reporting, which was passing on money provided by the St. Louis-based Deer Creek Foundation.
Deer Creek has funded a variety of liberal groups, including New York University law school's Brennan Center for Justice, which represented opponents of McConnell in a campaign-finance lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court.
"It's like the NRA funding a report about Sarah Brady," the gun-control advocate, says McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. "You've got to be somewhat leery about the objectivity."
McClatchy Vice President Howard Weaver says his company, which inherited the situation after buying the Herald-Leader, does not believe in such grants. "As a matter of practice, if we want some journalism done in our newsrooms, we pay for it," Weaver says. "But I've heard enough politicians explain why they gave back a campaign contribution to know it's not a perfect remedy."
Dan Noyes, acting director of the reporting center, says he paid for the series because the money went to the reporter, not the newspaper. Noyes sees no conflict because his group has an "arm's length relationship" with Deer Creek, and he says its $300,000 grant will fund campaign finance probes of both Democrats and Republicans.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Vote No on the Library Tax

If I hear another moving testimonial about how much some residents of Jefferson County love to read and how dearly they value the library as an institution, I may be ill. In the Courier-Journal's ongoing series, "What the Library Means to Me," we were subjected to myriad rationales as to why those guest columnists want their money go to the library.

Here's a thought: they can make a donation. All that money that the pro-library tax activists are spending on television advertising would make a nice contribution, for starters.

Some of the most beautiful libraries in the country attest to the generosity of Andrew Carnegie. Louisville's corporate base steps up and funds Thunder Over Louisville and much more. Why not the library?

The library is a worthy cause, to be sure. But donations, by definition, must be voluntary; when a patron is compelled to donate, through taxation, it's no longer a generous impulse. It's confiscatory, and that undermines personal liberty.

This tax suffers from other flaws. There is no reason why it should last forever. When the construction is complete, the tax's justification ceases to exist -- which is why a bond is a better mechanism to fund the libraries' construction than a tax.

Then there is the amount: $40 million a year -- in perpetuity. This will free up money that the Metro Council already budgeted for the library, but no one will say how these newly available funds will be spent. (How about a tax rebate to offset our tax increase!)

I'm glad that tax proponents enjoyed snuggling with Mom and reading Good Night Moon. It still doesn't follow that they know how to spend my money better than I do. If only they'd read Milton Friedman.

Hit Piece On Old Naval Ordnance Misses Mark

It's one thing to dislike Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell or his record; it's quite another thing to impugn this public servant's integrity without any basis in fact.

But that is exactly what Lexington-Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves has done in his latest hit piece on the Senator. Essentially, Cheves complains about Senator McConnell including an earmark of federal funds that a British company, BAE, will use to build munitions at the Old Naval Ordnance in Louisville.

The Justice Department is investigating allegations that BAE bribed the Prince of Saudi Arabia. BAE, like many other companies, has donated to Senator McConnell's campaigns. It also made a donation to the McConnell Institute at the University of Louisville.

From these facts, Cheves implies that BAE has bribed McConnell. Of course, Cheves didn't make his accusation that succinctly. He didn't need to: his friends in the left-wing blogosphere took this non-story to its illogical and unsubstantiated conclusion.

First, a little perspective on the author. Cheves would have his readers believe that he is a detached and impartial observer of Senator McConnell and politics generally; he ran his piece as a news story, not a column or an editorial.

He didn't tell his readers that he recently worked in the office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). He should disclose where he is coming from politically, just like this blog identifies its leanings in the first word of its name.

Nor did he provide any context for the so-called "ethics watchdog," Melanie Sloan, whom Cheves quotes to criticize McConnell. Sloan is executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a left-wing litigation group, funded by George Soros's Open Society Institute and Barbara Streisand. Supposedly bipartisan and tax-exempt, CREW nonetheless has a long history of targeting Republicans.

Cheves' intellectual dishonesty (and that of other liberal activists posing as journalists) is why newspaper circulation is plummeting.

Now as to the merits of Cheves' allegations, note that Senator McConnell's big sin is to use his considerable influence and seniority to steer federal money to Kentucky to support local jobs. McConnell's ability to protect Kentucky bases and share of defense appropriations -- good Kentucky jobs -- is exactly why voters keep electing him, again, and again, and again.

As a practical matter, if McConnell did not include the earmark, one of his colleagues would, and those jobs would just go to another state.

In any event, the earmarks do not go directly to the company, but rather to the Department of Defense as a line item in its budget.

As for the allegations that BAE has bribed public officials, recall that this is a British company accused of bribing a Saudi prince. Liberals who claim the United States has no moral hegemony over other countries have yet to explain why it is our government's business to regulate the affairs of a foreign company in a foreign country.

BAE has not been indicted, let alone convicted. Even if BAE is found to have bribed the Saudi prince, however, that proves nothing with respect to McConnell. That's why courts tend to exclude such evidence; it's inflammatory, and yet irrelevant.

A word on the BAE's contributions to McConnell. What Cheves fails to mention is that BAE donates to many politicians, on both sides of the aisle -- including Ted Kennedy and Congressman John Murtha.

Regarding the BAE contribution to the McConnell Center at University of Louisville, Cheves ignores that it is a truly non-partisan institute that gives scholarships based on merit, not political persuasion or loyalty.

Cheves apparently missed the McConnell Center's most recent speaker: Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid. Senator Ted Kennedy has spoken at the McConnell Center, as well, and has even given internships in his Senate office to McConnell scholars -- the same students whose scholarships are funded, in small part, by the BAE contribution.