Thursday, January 31, 2008

Storm Damage

The severe weather that hit Louisville Tuesday night has temporarily disrupted Bridget Bush's blogging. We are still investigating whether the results of the Florida primary played any role. In any event, she hopes to be writing again in the next day or so.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Real Heroes

I do not mean to be a sports curmudgeon on the eve of the Super Bowl, but this time of year I am always reminded of who the real superstars are. We idolize professional football players for their toughness and strength, but they are hardly remarkable in comparison to the men and women of our Armed Forces who risk their lives every day to protect us. Pro football players are essentially millionaires in tight pants that make their money by skillfully moving an oddly shaped ball around a field. They may sustain a few bumps and bruises in their play, but the outcome of their game is hardly meaningful or significant in the big scheme of things. Regardless of the outcome, after the game they will get into their Mercedes or Hummers and return to their penthouses for a bubble bath and a $50 steak. Our service men and women, on the other hand, sleep on uncomfortable cots, eat bad food and live with the chance of getting maimed or killed whenever they go to work. Let us enjoy the Super Bowl, but as we watch the millionaires in tight pants scurry about, let's not forget who the real superstars are.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Democrats Field Enough For A Second String

The Democratic contest for U.S. Senate will be even more exciting than we previously reported. The Secretary of State's web site discloses that eight Democratic candidates filed their papers to challenge Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. The three final walk-ons were James E. Rice, David Wylie and Kenneth Stepp.

McConnell does have an opponent in the Republican primary -- Daniel Essek. We would write something about him, but we are adhering to the Eleventh Commandment.

Eleventh Commandment Applies To Republicans Not Democrats

The filing deadline has come and gone. The biggest names who filed today are, of course, Anne Northup and Bruce Lunsford.

We now have enough for a basketball team among the Democratic contenders challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: Michael Cassaro, Greg Fischer, Andrew Horne, Lunsford and David Williams. There's no clear big man, and none is a scholarship player from what we can tell.

And in the race to challenge U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, we would imagine that Chris Thieneman is disappointed that Northup has decided to seek to regain her congressional seat. Hopefully Thieneman and Northup -- going forward at least -- will adhere to Ronald Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment": "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

As for the Democrats, any liberal theologan will tell you that the Commandments are not to be read literally, particularly when they are preached to the other party. So the players on the "Ditch Mitch" team should be free to foul as much as they would like during the Democratic primary. That contest should be a fun one to watch. We will have courtside seats -- as good as Lunsford's at U of L games.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another "Non-Partisan" Attack By The C-J

It's becoming difficult to distinguish between when The Courier-Journal engages in deceptive writing or just sloppy journalism. Pam Platt, in her column today , reprises what James Carroll did three weeks ago: take what is the liberal agenda of a Democratic front group to attack Republicans and report it as "non-partisan" fact.

Platt accepts without question a bogus report of the Center for Public Integrity entitled "Iraq -- The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War." According to Platt, the Center for Public Integrity is a "non-profit, non-partisan and independent journalism" organization. Platt also conducted an e-mail interview with Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, and didn't ask a single question to probe the funding sources for this group or to examine CPI's political agenda.

Either Platt is intentionally deceiving us -- not good for a columnist writing about supposed lies of the Bush administration -- or didn't do her homework.

As Hugh Hewitt explained when articles from The New York Times and the Associated Press first reported on CPI's "findings" last Wednesday (yes, the story is that old; it took the C-J four days to catch up with national media):

[T]he Center for Public Integrity hardly qualifies as "independent". It gets much of its funding from George Soros, who has thrown millions of dollars behind Democratic political candidates, and explicitly campaigned to defeat George Bush in 2004.

Nowhere in these articles do either news organization bother to inform their reader of the partisan nature of the CPI. Besides Soros, it gets financing from the Streisand Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Los Angeles Times Foundation. The FIJ [i.e., Fund For Independence in Journalism, which issued the report with CPI] shares most of its board members with the CPI, which hardly makes it a separate entity in terms of its political direction.

Dafydd at Big Lizards does a good job of pulling apart the supposed quotes that CPI used to blow some hot air into the limp "Bush lied" meme, but even the New York Times wasn't impressed.

In fact, there is nothing new in this site that hasn't already been picked apart by the blogosphere, and some of it discredited. It includes the debunked charge that Bush lied in the "sixteen words" of the 2003 State of the Union address. Joe Wilson's own report to the CIA and to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirmed that, at least according to Niger's Prime Minister, Iraq had sought to trade for uranium in 1999. The CPI site has the sixteen words posted as one of their false statements.

Let's boil this down. An organization funded by known political activists puts up a website with shopworn quotes taken mostly out of context and misrepresented -- and this somehow qualifies as news?

Apparently so for a C-J columnist when the story-line fits her bias -- noted elsewhere, including here and here -- and she doesn't do any objective reporting of the bona fides of the group creating the "news."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favorite Martian for Congress

Somebody needs to check the water in Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District for hallucinogens. First, a candidate who has been indicted for stealing money from a charity called "Feed God's Children," files to run against Republican Congressman Geoff Davis. (See post below). Now, Davis has another primary opponent, and this one claims to have seen extraterrestrials.

Pat Crowley reported that Davis has a second primary challenger, Warren Stone.

Stone claims that in 1979 a 40 foot flying saucer landed in his yard in Independence, Kentucky and space aliens emerged and took Stone for a ride. Stone reported his 90 minute "close encounter of the third kind" to UFO Evidence in 2006. Here's Stone's report:

I was asleep, then awakened by an electrical, scratchy buzzing sound in my ears. I sat upright in my bed, the sound got louder and louder, white flashes of light, too bright to imagine were flashing in my head, my eyes were closed. The sounds and light centralized within my brain,brighter, louder and then there was an explosion of light with a boom, and feeling as if a stick of dynamite exploded within my head. I was 28 years old, it was over, I looked down to see my wife asleep as if nothing happened. I had a severe headache immediately, but managed to fall asleep sometime later.

The next thing I knew I was in my front yard, I had just built a house in the center of 4 acres, several hundred feet from the road.The craft was round, shiny and bright. A hatch opened that formed a ramp down to the ground. The alien was a male human, long blond hair and very mild mannered, his name was Alan or Adam, I can't remember. There was a female with dark hair, but I didn't talk to her. He asked me if I would like to go for a ride, and I agreed. I could remember seeing my house from above, then all the houses in the area, then the blackness of space. Before I knew it we had returned. It felt strange to know how things looked from above because at that time I had never flown.

He explained the propulsion to me and showed me the two engines. They looked something like snails on their sides. they were about 8 feet in diameter and 3' tall. Each outward spiral was narrower then the preceding one. In the center was a generator, I believe that it was an ion generator. The flow of released energy spun outward and was compressed by the spirals where speed and pressure was increased. At the end of the spiral network the outlet manifold turned upward and rearward and connected to a propulsion plate. The plates were about 4' tall and 9' wide. These plates attracted the matter stream, collected energy, and in the center the polarity changed and created outward thrust. This is most of what I remember. I awakened and the entire propulsion system seemed as easy to comprehend as a slingshot would be to build.

In fairness to Stone, he is not the first politician to claim to have seen a UFO. Dennis Kucinich saw a UFO for about ten minutes, according to Shirley MacLaine. Kucinich learned the hard way that space aliens cannot vote. Now that Kucinich has bowed out of the Democratic presidential primary, perhaps he can serve as a campaign adviser to Stone.

Baggage of Epic Proportions

It's not so unusual for a second term incumbent like Republican Congressman Geoff Davis to face a primary challenge. But what's really extraordinary is that Davis's opponent would run notwithstanding his legal problems. Davis's opponent, G.E. Puckett, has been indicted for allegedly stealing from a charity called "Kentucky Charities United Inc., to Feed God's Children."

The Flemingsburg Gazette reported:

Puckett and two others were indicted by a Fleming County Grand Jury Jan. 4 for allegedly diverting charitable gambling funds.The paper reported that Puckett was charged for failing to deposit funds from the charity in the fall of 2006. He allegedly failed to deposit proceeds from bingo and pull-tabs and kept $1,065 for his own use, . . .

And yet Puckett persists in his campaign. Wow. Maybe Puckett should have taken the $ 500 candidate filing fee and donated it to the charity to Feed God's Children.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Equal Treatment, Please

Page One complains about a former Fletcher aide, Brett Hall, criticizing Congressman John Yarmuth's aide, Stuart Perelmuter for writing and starring in a local gay movie.

Page One had acknowledged previously that "the movie is questionable for someone in such a high-profile position of Press Secretary."

Now the blog argues:

It’s one thing to discuss Yarmuth’s perceived negatives in an election year but it’s an entirely different ball game when you begin attacking and lying about a candidate’s staff. Staff whom, we remind you, are not elected officials.

The problem with this line of reasoning, as applied by the Demo-blogs, is that it gives Democratic staffers a pass on scrutiny while holding Republican staffers to an entirely different -- and more rigorous -- standard. In short, it's viewpoint discrimination.

Case in point. Last Fall, we heard incessant complaints from the left about a staff member of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell who supposedly started an internet campaign to "slime" the Dem's Schip poster child, Graeme Frost. It later turned out that the aide, Don Stewart, had merely commented in an email about a story that had originated elsewhere days earlier and already had gone viral.

And though the chronology of events is quite clear for anyone who cares about the facts, some blogs keep trotting out the canard, months after they should have known better.

I agree with Page One that Perelmuter was entitled to pursue his acting career, and I could care less about the subject matter. But fairness -- the left is always demanding fairness -- requires that the same standard be applied to Republican staffers.

Bourbon Is Patriotic

What do the good people of New Hampshire have to do now that their primary is over? Why, have a shot of bourbon, of course.

After a recent tasting exercise, Ernesto Burden of the Nashua Telegraph concludes it is "fulfilling a patriotic duty" to imbibe the corn. He explains:

Bourbon is the official spirit of the United States. It is an intrinsically American political drink. FDR, the president who (thank heaven) repealed prohibition, is alleged to have mixed up Manhattans for Winston Churchill. Ulysses S. Grant was a bourbon drinker. There's a story, probably apocryphal, in which Grant's critics visit President Abraham Lincoln to accuse Grant of being a drunk. "I wish you'd find out what brand of whisky he drinks," Lincoln is said to have responded. "I'd like to send a barrel of it to all my generals." Lincoln himself had a license to sell liquor as a young man, and he was born in Kentucky, where his father worked at a distillery.

In addition to the patriotic benefits of drinking bourbon, I can confirm that moderate and responsible consumption of bourbon-based cocktails (such as and especially the Manhattan) can enhance debate and election-night return watching. Makes them into a sort of AFC playoffs party for the politics geek.

Duly noted.

Party Wreckers, Left and Right

Peggy Noonan has some harsh words for the president:

George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

I agree that Bush has hurt the Republican Party in many respects. But you have to give the man credit where credit is due: at least he got it right on the judges. Presidents come and go, but judges with life tenure tend to stick around.

Noonan also condemns what Bill Clinton is doing to the Democrats:

[T]he Clintons are tearing the party apart. It will not be the same after this. It will not be the same after its most famous leader, and probable ultimate victor, treated a proud and accomplished black man who is a U.S. senator as if he were nothing, a mere impediment to their plans.

Surprisingly, Noonan's thesis on Clinton is echoed by none other than Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich (via Instapundit):

I write this more out of sadness than anger. Bill Clinton’s ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife’s campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic party. While it may be that all is fair in love, war, and politics, it’s not fair – indeed, it’s demeaning – for a former President to say things that are patently untrue (such as Obama’s anti-war position is a “fairy tale”) or to insinuate that Obama is injecting race into the race when the former President is himself doing it.

Bill Clinton's comportment during his wife's campaign -- and his anger management problems -- gives rise to the question: how long has he been unhinged? Was he always this way, and the White House advance team just spared us the image?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Elixir of AARP

Does anybody not believe that AARP is really politicized? Check out the mass email I received from the AARP, that said in pertinent part:

With the budget taking precedent this session and talk around the halls centering on cuts, we need a strong alliance to get our message out, “NO CUTS TO HUMAN SERVICES! PUT PEOPLE FIRST!” We all need to get the message out to our consumers to make phone calls to the governor’s office NOW and up to next Tuesday, January 29th, the date of his budget speech. The governor needs to hear from us over and over again in the next 6 days. . . .

That seems well enough at first glance; who wouldn't support "putting people first"? But let's face it: some services probably need to be cut to balance a budget. (Oh wait; there are always the casinos.)

Here's the problem. The AARP's mass email campaign is being spread by my (and perhaps your, if you're over 50) membership fees. Note that no one asked for members' opinions on this matter before it was disseminated.

The board of AARP unilaterally makes these decisions on behalf of the membership without polling the members. I learned this when I called them on their blanket objection to privatizing social security last year or so. (I happened to like the possibility of being able to contribute to my own retirement and invest it as I see fit, while others could choose the traditional government plan.) When I called AARP and asked how they knew the membership was against the privatization of social security, I was told that they did not poll the members and the board felt that this was the best for all. That sort of paternalism is insulting.

But most members, perhaps, are lulled into complacency because the AARP keeps feeding the masses with the elixir of benefits, such as supplemental insurance, fee reductions on various services, and so on -- benefits that are available elsewhere.

I resent an organization purporting to speak for me, but without bothering to solicit my opinion before they act. My advice is to wait and see. Members should keep sending in their dues or donations, but don’t follow too closely to the rear end of the lemming in front of you. Remember the three-second rule.

New York Times Endorses Romney (Sort Of)

Any time The New York Times vilifies a Republican, there's a good bet that the object of the Old Grey Lady's scorn is a true conservative with a chance of getting elected and maybe accomplishing something.

So I read with interest the New York Times' attempted character assassination of Mitt Romney:

TAMPA, Fla. — At the end of the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire this month, when the Democrats joined the candidates on stage, Mitt Romney found himself momentarily alone as his counterparts mingled, looking around a bit stiffly for a companion.

The moment was emblematic of a broader reality that has helped shape the Republican contest and could take center stage again on Thursday at a debate in Florida. Within the small circle of contenders, Mr. Romney has become the most disliked.

The Times then characterized the other GOP candidates feelings' about Romney to include: "anger"; "visceral scorn"; "special animosity"; "ill will"; "resentment"; culminating in a "gang tackle."

Then the Times put in a plug for its favorite RINO, John McCain. "In stark contrast to Mr. Romney, Mr. McCain seems to be universally liked and respected by the other Republican contenders, even if they disagree with him."

If McCain were a real conservative, he would write a letter to the editor of the New York Times and demand that they retract that glowing compliment.

Ann Coulter said it best: "The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide. "

John McCain may well take the Times' praise and recycle it in campaign literature or ads. Conservatives will recognize that as akin to listing Satan as a character reference.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Poll Fischer Didn't Commission

We have a consensus on what factor compelled Greg Fischer to run for the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. According to 60 percent of readers who voted, Fischer's ego made him run. Tied for second place at four percent, readers thought that Fischer is running because he's bored or because he wants Senate Navy Bean Soup and can't buy it. In last place at two percent, Fischer is running out of a sense of noblesse oblige.

The Legacy From Dr. King's Dream That Liberals Ignore

David Hawpe of The Courier Journal complains today that the Democratic presidential nominees are "fighting about, of all things, race -- and the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell "wraps himself in the great civil rights leader's legacy, and nobody objects."

Hawpe apparently is upset about the following statement that McConnell issued to commemorate Dr. King's birthday:

"On Monday, we honor a man who dedicated his life to the principle that all men are created equal and who heroically gave his life in defense of this truth. More than half a century has passed since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began to call our nation back to its original promise, yet the majesty of his words, the power of his conviction and the courage of his vision continue to inspire. And as long as the battle against discrimination is fought, that legacy will endure. As we remember Dr. King, we recommit ourselves to the battles he fought against all hatred and prejudice. And we recall the words he wrote from an Alabama jail cell 45 years ago: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' "

Hawpe cannot accept the fact that McConnell would honor Dr. King. (Though query how Hawpe would have reacted if McConnell had ignored the holiday.) Hawpe proceeds to castigate McConnell's voting record as an "assault on King's hopes for America." Hawpe doesn't offer much of an argument in support of his thesis, and we fail to see any inconsistency between McConnell's record and Dr. King's dream. (Indeed, the Civil Rights legislation could never have been enacted in 1964 without the support of Republicans, given the opposition of Southern Democrats. )

There is sharp contrast, however, between Hawpe's views and Dr. King's likely position (had he lived long enough) on one issue: Roe v. Wade, which "celebrated" its 35th birthday yesterday.

Alveda King, a niece of Dr. King, has drawn on the legacy of that civil rights leader to call for Roe to be overruled. As the Claremont Institute explains:

For her, the same principle of equal rights that condemns all acts of unjust discrimination against persons because of their race also implicates abortion. Just as she in her youth she joined her justly famous uncle and her lesser-known father, Rev. A.D. King (who was also a martyr) in protesting racial injustice, now she sees as the most pressing issue the abortions of 45 million unborn children since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand in 1973.

Dr. King’s most arresting statement came in his "I Have A Dream" speech when called for people to be judged not by the color of their skin but "by the content of their character."

Alveda King, his niece, a minister and a former college professor, asks: "How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate."


Angela Minter, an African American who is director of the Louisville branch of the Sisters For Life organization, drew a similar parallel between the civil rights struggle and the pro-life movement at a rally held in Louisville yesterday. The C-J described her message:

Facing a crowd of about 150 shivering but enthusiastic supporters, Angela Minter drew a connection between Monday being the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and yesterday being the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions.

"I have a dream, too, and I think all of us share this dream," Minter said to those who attended the "Rally for Life" in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse yesterday afternoon. "I have a dream that the country will be called back to its moral senses."

McConnell, along with Senator Jim Bunning and his wife and Congressman Rep. Ron Lewis, attended a breakfast yesterday with Kentuckians who had travelled to D.C. to participate in the annual March for Life. The C-J's James Carroll reported from that gathering:

At a breakfast before the march, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said efforts by President Bush and like-minded lawmakers ensured that the anti-abortion agenda "has been preserved," though Democrats took control of Congress in 2006.

"It makes a difference who wins elections," he added. "It makes an awful lot of difference who appoints judges -- an awful lot of difference."


McConnell is right. The two greatest tragedies in our country -- slavery and abortion -- relied on similar reasoning and activist justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, first in the Dred Scott decision, and later in Roe.

It appears that none of McConnell's opponents attended a single reported event yesterday in support of the pro-life movement. Apparently, that is one aspect of Dr. King's legacy that they -- and David Hawpe -- would just as soon forget.

Mrs. William Clinton

The line of the night at the Democratic debate in South Carolina was when Barack said, in reference to Bill and Hillary, that "sometimes he wasn't sure who he was running against". Touchdown! Hillary Clinton is where she is only because she said "I do" to a young up-and-comer from Arkansas named Bill Clinton. It is time people start referring to Hillary by the name that gives honor to the man who brought her to the ball. She should properly be referred to as Mrs. William Clinton.

Fischer's First Stump Speech

Greg Fischer made his first campaign speech last night, and as he acknowledged, it was long and unpolished (but better than his announcement video).

A few points jumped out. He spoke with great nostalgia about growing up in the '60's, which he recalls as a time of "hope" and "no cynicism," when "there was a feeling that we could do anything in the country."

Childhood recollections don't often reflect reality. What's more troubling about Fischer's recollections, however, is that they don't reflect much knowledge of history. He completely forgets the Vietnam war, and the Democrats' rush to cut and run, and the shameful way in which they treated our troops upon return. He forgets the epidemic of drug use that "flowered" under Democrat control characterized by slack law enforcement and judges who believed in "rehabilitation" rather than punishment. He forgets the damage that the Great Society wrecked upon our economy and the families of the inner cities.

Fischer purports to catalogue Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's "values," in particular "greed." Apparently speaking from personal experience, Fischer states that "if you have enough money you can do whatever you please." (Like buying a U.S. Senate seat?)

He then goes on to state that McConnell is the "wealthiest Senator in the U.S. Senate." That statement is so far from the truth that it's laughable, so Fischer is quick to explain that McConnell's wealth is in terms of the money he has raised for his campaign. It's an awkward argument for Richie Rich -- especially coupled with Fischer's complaint that he is "tired of the obstacles for the average person to get involved."

Of course the biggest such obstacle is money. Again, that's no issue for Fischer because he can finance his campaign by writing a personal check. But it is a huge obstacle to anyone -- like McConnell -- who is not personally wealthy.

As a result of campaign finance "reform," someone like Fischer can spend as much of his own money as he wants to buy the primary. If the first amendment was unimpeded by campaign finance "reform," a candidate like Andrew Horne could simply call up George Soros and get a big ole contribution of thousands or millions. As a result of campaign finance "reform," we have less ideological diversity, not more.

This effect on the speech opportunities of potential candidates is one reason why McConnell has opposed "reform" measures like McCain-Feingold, or the Alien and Sedition Act of 2001.

Fischer benefits from a system that allows a rich guy to write a check to his personal campaign for one million dollars. In fairness, a competing candidate should be allowed to ask ten friends to donate $100,000. Instead, that candidate can only raise $25,000 from 10 friends. Nor can this be justified on the grounds that it forces candidates to speak to the middle-class, because self-funding millionaires can -- and do -- end run the system.

Indeed, Fischer concludes by boasting that he's "gonna have the financial resources to do this." Memo to Fischer: don't spend it all in the primary.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ronald Reagan and Sam Walton Are Laughing In Heaven

Tonight's Democratic presidential debate must have caused the Gipper and Mr. Sam to chuckle.

Barack Obama snarled that Hillary Clinton had served as a "corporate lawyer for anti-union Wal-Mart," reports the Associated Press. So Hillary fired back that Barack had represented "a Chicago slumlord."

Later in the debate, according to AP,

[a]s Obama tried to defend his recent comments about Republican ideas and Ronald Reagan, Clinton interrupted and said she has never criticized his remarks on Reagan.

"Your husband did," said Obama, who has accused the former president of misrepresenting his record.

"I'm here. He's not," she snapped.

"Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes," Obama said.

There you go again, Hillary and Barack. You are making the Republican candidates look better and better.

Horse Analogies (Cont.)

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, a Rudy Guiliani supporter, has recently "likened the nomination process to a horse race," reports MSNBC.com's Vick Zast -- an analogy that was already noted by this blogger last November. Zast continues:

Olson, of course, has suggested that the former mayor of New York City is mimetic of a talented 3-year-old colt that hasn’t yet competed in a race that suits his running style. Scarborough and many other political observers believe the race goes to the candidates fastest from the starting gate. Recent history, both in politics and horse racing, illustrates that they both can be right.

Zast also explains the similarities of the upcoming primaries to the Derby prep races:

For all practical purposes, the late March/early April stakes races for Kentucky Derby candidates are the same as Super Tuesday is for presidential aspirants. Win or do well in one of them and running in the Derby is a foregone conclusion. Flop at the end, without benefit of a fast start, and you’ll find yourself sitting on the sidelines.

This last set of preps, not the preps we are watching now, determines the Kentucky Derby field. It includes the Florida Derby (Gr.1) on March 29, the Santa Anita Derby (Gr.1) and Wood Memorial (Gr.1) on April 5, and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Gr.1) and Arkansas Derby (Gr.2) on April 12.

So, in other words, all we have seen thus far are caucuses and primaries that don't qualify as real races. What counts are the upcoming contests, such as the Florida Derby (where Giuliani will finally emerge from the starting gate), the California race (where John McCain, Mitt Romney and Giuliani will likely run neck-and-neck), the Arkansas Derby (which is Mike Huckabee's race to lose) . . . okay, the analogy breaks down eventually, but one gets the point.

Speaking of Huckabee (and also as predicted by this blogger last November), he remains well positioned to place at the Republican Convention -- that is, be named the Republican vice presidential nominee ("winning the silver", as Romney might say, but that would be mixing sports metaphors).

Doug Mead, writing at Newsmax.com, touts a potential Romney-Huckabee ticket as "a great team." Mead argues that "[t]here is no way either one will win in a general election without having the other one on the ticket. . . . Neither one can win without the other. They are joined at the hip. " Think of two horses that are both needed to pull the GOP wagon.

It might be worth placing an exacta bet on Romney-Huckabee, who may be ready to reconcile in order to win. But I'm not so confident in that prediction so as to rule out other exotic bets before the Republican nomination is decided.

Fischer "Fell Through The Cracks"

Greg Fischer finally was noticed by one national blog today. Swing State Project just discovered that Fischer's campaign kick-off announcement was "one of the stories that fell though the cracks over the past week or so." Oh, well.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Andrew, David, Greg and Michael Who?

The punches have started to fly between Senator wannabes on the Democratic side in Kentucky. But it's a lightweight fight, judging by the national media's response.

As the Washington Post's politics blog comments, "Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has run his typical brutally efficient campaign, scaring away top Democratic challengers . . . ." The Hill.com doesn't even know any Democrats are running against McConnell: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has piled criticism on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is facing re-election this year, even though a Democratic opponent has yet to emerge." (Emphasis added.) Four -- count 'em, four -- guys announce that they will run against McConnell, and not one of them shows up on the Beltway radar.

Five Thousand, Five Million -- It's All the Same to Fischer

Page One, the blog on which Andrew Horne announced his candidacy, has been bird-dogging Greg Fischer about apparent violations of federal campaign law. Even the Courier Journal noticed when the Republicans filed a complaint about Fischer's alleged violations. In fact, the violations appear to be even more egregious than Page One originally reported.

The issue turns on whether Fischer's campaign crossed the $ 5,000 threshold -- the point at which Fischer was required to declare his candidacy. As one might expect from a millionaire, Fischer did not pinch pennies in launching his campaign.

Page One notes that Fischer's spending -- before he announced -- necessarily included:

time used registering domain names, negotiating hosting contracts, working with web developers, recruiting staff, receiving and managing email. All activities which take a lot of time and would require quite a bit of reimbursement for employee wages on top of equipment usage. Also included in that $5,000 mark would be all travel expenses for Fischer’s trips to Washington, D.C. and around the state of Kentucky, as he’s apt to mention.

Actually, the list of expenses is even longer. Fischer obviously has used political consultants, such as his spokesperson Kim Gevedon. Those consultant fees count towards the $5,000 spending threshold.

Likewise for Fischer's website, which was designed by the Democrat web firm NGP Software. (Oddly, that's the same firm Andrew Horne uses -- what a conflict of interest). A web site like Fischer's costs approximately $7,500 to launch. In addition, Fischer's web page includes several custom elements, such as his logo and the flag picture, that would cost extra money.

Fischer's website also reflects the extensive use of professional photography, which is expensive in and of itself. In addition, the campaign would need to buy the copyright from the photographer, who typically retains it.

That tediously long video on Fischer's website, moreover, would have cost thousands of dollars to produce.

When all this is added together, it becomes clear that Fischer blew past the $5,000 threshold that triggered the requirement for him to file with the Secretary of the Senate and the FEC. Indeed, just the web site put him over the limit.

Once Fischer fell within the ambit of federal election law, he was precluded from accepting corporate donations. As Page One initially reported, Fischer began running his campaign using his corporation, Dant-Clayton, and its employees. That constitutes a corporate donation.

It's hard to square Fischer's violations of such basic rules with his promise to "fix Washington" with his business savvy and professionalism. So far, his candidacy looks pretty amateur.

Horne asks Nutroots for Help

Andrew Horne continues to demonstrate that he is not your average Democrat. Now he's turned for help -- money and bodies -- from the Daily Kos. For those who've never bothered to read it, the Daily Kos is the voice of the far-left fringe of what used to be the party of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. These so-called "netroots" are the voice of Democrats unhinged, including Moveon.org, Michael Moore and Howard Dean. Horne hasn't just appealed to the Nutroots for help, he's actually blogging for them.

First, Horne begs for money:

[S]ince there is no more tenacious force in politics today than the Netroots, I need your help to win.

Right now, the biggest problem facing our campaign is money. The DSCC wants to sit this race out, either by supporting a self-funder (because, when you’re running against a guy with as many big-money donors as McConnell, the first thing you want to do is trigger the Millionaire’s Amendment and raise his contribution limits!), or by simply ignoring this race and giving McConnell a pass.

Then Horne pleads for bodies:

Second thing we need is to organize our supporters. We’re facing one hell of a fight, and we need to marshal our strength and focus our energies if we’re going to succeed. To that end, I’ve brought on two Kossacks to help with that effort, Colin Bishopp and JR Lentini. The first thing they wanted me to do is ask those of you who want to help us beat McConnell to join our new Google Group, Netroots for Horne.

Horne acknowledges that he faces a primary, but miscounts the number of opponents: "We do have a challenger in the primary, and we’re going to have a difficult campaign in the general." (emphasis added).

No, Andrew, you have three opponents and counting.

Horne promised to blog on a regular basis. He has plenty of inspiration; he located his headquarters between a comic book store and a liquor store. If Horne starts pretending he has superhero powers, we'll know where he's getting his material.

The Other Fischer

Chess legend Bobby Fischer has died, and the LA Times has a thoughtfully-written overview of his life. It seems like the Cold War just ended, and yet one by one, all the characters who participated in it in their own unique way are dying: Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Boris Yeltsin and now Bobby Fischer.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mother of the Year -- Not

The Demo-blogs have been running a screed from a Paducah mother who pulled her child out of school to go protest Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

I can't help but feel sorry for the 12 year old girl, Heaven. At this point in her life, she probably thinks it's really cool to have a mother who lets her dye her hair pink and skip school.

Heaven's mother deserves some credit for teaching her daughter to get involved in the political process. Unfortunately, her mother taught Heaven all sorts of other lessons, and in that regard, she did her daughter a real disservice.

Heather Ryan, Heaven's mother, gave her daughter permission to break the law and become truant. Most of the mother's email describes how she and Heaven snuck around and hid, trying to corner McConnell.

The mother boasts of how she lied about their intentions: "McConnell's security team emerges from the museum, they look at us and I ask if Heaven can 'have her picture made with the Senator when he comes out' (I even adjusted my vocabulary for this one - having a 'picture made' seems to be a very Western Kentucky thing to say, so I went for it!)." So much for inculcating truthfulness.

This little girl will be old enough to drive in four years. It's no secret that children mimic the behavior their parents model. Yet this is how the mother drives with her daughter in the car: "Heaven and I drive the wrong way a half block up the one-way Broadway Avenue into the Maiden Alley and cut off his security staffer! SCORE! I ROCK! We swing a U-Turn into a parking spot in the alley and jump out of the squealing beast."

What kind of mother deliberately drives the wrong way up a one-way street with her child in the car? By her own description, she nearly caused an accident. This isn't parenting; it's wanton endangerment.

It's hard to raise polite children in the Age of Rap. Maybe it's always been hard. Parents therefore must be relentless about policing their children's manners, and again, it starts with setting a good example. Heaven's mother failed her. Heather Ryan tells us several times that she's a Navy vet, and on this point, she's credible -- this woman has a mouth like a sailor.

She didn't give Heaven much of a lesson in respecting one's elders. Thus her "question" for McConnell: "Heaven's screaming, 'Do you want my dad to die? Should I start training for war?'"

Here's the part of the story that Heather Ryan omitted: they screamed "I hope you die" to McConnell. Given that such a statement could be construed as a threat, the Secret Service agents showed remarkable restraint. According to the Cool Mom, "[t]he goon security man yells at my daughter, 'We won't have any of that!'" That's exactly what Heaven's mother should have said to her daughter.

Heather Ryan was so caught up in the moment of protesting that she forgot a central truth of parenting: 12-year-olds turn into teenagers. Why any mother of an almost teen would teach her child to skip school, sneak around, lie, swear, drive recklessly, defy authority and say "I hope you die!" to a United States Senator -- this mother better pray that she doesn't reap what she has sown.

Anti-War Groups Flounder as Surge Works

I never thought I'd see this in the Washington Post:

Limited and over-promoted as it was, the vote on the Baath Party legislation also provided a contrast to developments in Iraq a year ago, when a full-scale civil war between Sunnis and Shiites appeared to be unstoppable. To a large extent, the sectarian violence has subsided; most of the killings occurring now stem from the attempt of a reeling al-Qaeda to reassert itself. The worst mistake the United States could make would be to allow its frustration with Iraqi political leaders to cause it to abandon the military strategy that has delivered that progress. As long as Baghdad neighborhoods are continuing to recover, refugees are trickling home, and Sunni and Shiite militias are helping to keep the peace rather than hunting each other, the U.S. mission in Iraq will be serving a vital purpose.

When even theWashington Post says that America should not "abandon the military strategy that has delivered that progress" in Iraq, it should be obvious that the Democrats will not be able to run against the war this year.

Indeed, Greg Fischer's position on the war -- he wants to withdraw from Iraq “as safely and as soon as possible” -- parrots Mitch McConnell's views.

As a result of the success of the troop surge, those anti-war groups like Moveon.org are flailing about, looking for new issues and strategy and trying to remain relevant.

Moveon.org and roughly 20 other copy-cat groups met for a summit on K Street -- the same street where Democrats always accuse Republicans of selling out to lobbyists. Two things to note about their big pow wow. First, it shows the amount of coordination between Moveon.org and the other anti-war groups. Second, they are in disarray because the war has turned around.

There was a consensus that last year was not productive,” John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World, said of a meeting attended by a coalition of anti-war groups last week. “Our expectations were dashed.”

Guess which group attended the summit?

The meeting, held at an office on K Street, was attended by around 20 representatives of influential anti-war groups, including MoveOn.org and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, which spent $12 million last year opposing the war.

As set forth below, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is the group for which Andrew Horne's spokesman, Aniello Alioto, headed Iraq Summer.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Horne Taps Far-Left Fringe for Help

The press coverage of Greg Fischer's entry into the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate revealed more about his rival candidate, Andrew Horne, than Fischer.

It is well known that Horne has strong ties to left-wing groups like VoteVets and Moveon.org. Today's coverage revealed that Horne has cemented those ties by using, as his spokesman Aniello Alioto to comment on Fischer's candidacy.

Alioto served as Kentucky Field Director for Iraq Summer. That's the group that took the two-fold approach last summer: they stalked Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell with war protests and opposed the troop surge in Iraq. Iraq Summer was a project of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq , another group that opposed the troop surge and that is part of a coalition that includes Moveon.org and VoteVets.

The point of Iraq Summer -- which Horne's spokesman led -- was to put pressure on Congress and the president to end the surge before General David Petraeus reported the results of the surge to Congress in September.

That is, Iraq Summer, and the fringe elements with which it coordinated, tried to sabotage America's success in Iraq -- to tilt the results so that General Petraeus could not report good news to Congress and to the American people. Then, having failed to stop the surge, Moveon.org took out an ad in the New York Times to call General Petraeus "General Betray Us."

These groups have jumped from being mere supporters of Horne to seeing one of their activists serve on Horne's staff in a prominent position. That might earn Horne points among Democratic primary voters, but it will boomerang against him if he makes it to the general election.

Even the United Nations has recognized that the surge is working. By hiring Alioto to be his mouthpiece, Andrew Moveon.Horne has demonstrated that his views fall to the left of the United Nations. That places him well beyond the borders of Kentucky.

Obama Stonewalls FEC Nominees -- And Edwards' Matching Funds

As readers may recall, Senator Barack Obama is leading a pack of Democrats who oppose voting on confirmation of all of President Bush's four nominees to the Federal Election Commission at the same time. National media such as The Los Angeles Times have urged Obama to back down and support Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's plan for an up-or-down vote on all four nominees (two Democrat, two Republican) so that we can have a fully functioning FEC. But Obama continues to hamstring the process.

Why is Obama such a roadblock? Here is one answer: to prevent his opponent John Edwards from obtaining federal matching funds.

According to Bloomberg,

the Federal Election Commission doesn't have enough members to oversee what is expected to be the most expensive election in U.S. history. Down to just two of its six commissioners, the FEC can't assemble the quorum of four votes required to approve federal campaign funds, enact regulations, undertake fraud investigations or provide legal advice to candidates.

As a result, Bloomberg reports, "John Edwards, who is relying on federal money to help fund his presidential campaign, may not get any more."

Poor Edwards may have to put his own money where his mouth is. Not that this would be a bad outcome if the federal campaign finance laws did not provide otherwise. It is offensive that taxpayer money is used to subsidize the speech of presidential candidates. It is a classic case of no good deed going unpunished to have to earn money to pay taxes that, in turn, finance multi-millionaire Edwards' campaign for big government that will raise our taxes even more.

Congress should change the law so that federal funds are no longer used to finance presidential campaigns. Simply put, if a candidate cannot raise enough money to pay for his or her campaign expenses, then that candidate lacks the necessary support from the electorate and should not be elected president. Senator Hillary Clinton and Obama, for example, are not likely to seek federal matching funds (and the restrictions that go along with them) -- a fact that demonstrates that those two are the most viable candidates for president on the Democratic side.

But the problem of taxpayer subsidies for presidential campaigns cannot be fixed for this election cycle, and Edwards is legally entitled to the matching funds. It is a horrible conflict of interest for Obama to engage in legislative maneuvering that prevents his rival from obtaining federal matching funds that, under the law, are rightfully his to use in the campaign. Obama and his Democratic supporters in the Senate should put an end to their antics and vote for McConnell's plan so that the FEC can get back to work and -- as much as it pains me to write this -- Edwards can get his money.

Ditch Whom?

Greg Fischer finally announces he is running against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and DitchMitch says . . . nothing. Not a single word.

As the name suggests, DitchMitch exists solely to defeat McConnell. Its writers, for lack of a better word, are obsessed with defeating McConnell. They hold vigils outside McConnell's home and stalk him when he receives awards (and then make youtube videos of themselves: "Look Ma, I'm protesting!")

Yet when a millionaire candidate -- who could self-finance much of his campaign -- takes the plunge against McConnell, they greet the announcement with stony silence. Why? Because they're besotted with Andrew Moveon.Horne

Stop sulking, boys. Primaries are fun! If one more Dem runs against McConnell, then you'll have enough for a basketball team.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Impression of Fischer

Greg Fischer's campaign announcement looked like a spit and a promise. It was hastily thrown together, sloppy and devoid of any deep thought or new ideas. This millionaire candidate should definitely ask for his money back.

Everything about it was schlocky. Take the video announcement. The camera's depth of field made the books right behind him look fuzzy, not in an artsy way, but rather in a way that distracted me from wondering why the shot wasn't centered on his head.

Then there was his delivery. I believe Fischer when he boasts of having worked on the docks, and of having strong union ties. He says the docks were in Alaska -- and also says he's a Kentucky native -- and yet he sounds more like a Long Shore man from New Jersey. In fact, his announcement would make an excellent audition tape, should The Sopranos ever come back.

Of course, he didn't have much to work with. The writing was generally of a poor quality (lots of !!!) and showed an inattention to detail (such as the inability to use one disclaimer consistently). I knew that the Democrats have strong ties to Hollywood, but I didn't realize that the writer's strike would hurt their candidates so.

Throughout Fischer's video and press release, there is a recurring tension between his status as a millionaire and his desire to fit in with blue collar Democrats. Thus, we are told he worked on the docks "to help pay for college" (Vanderbilt). And then this: "following his college graduation, Greg used the money he earned in Alaska to backpack solo around the world for a year." That must have been some summer job.

We get hints that Fischer is a multiculturalist when he mentions his membership in organizations like "Center for Interfaith Relations" and the "World Conference of Religions for Peace." There will be plenty of time to learn more about these organizations and Fischer's ties to them. Note, however, that when a Democrat advocates a multicultural, interfaith approach to "world peace," it usually means that America should withdraw, disarm and send aid to our enemies.

On Fischer's blog, he uses his 17 year old son, George, to lay out the case for his dad. That's the only entry. And poor George's photo is cropped from the family portrait. Children of politicians have been known to give their parents a boost; take Amy Carter's lemonade stand. Sorry, George, but you really ought to stick to Facebook.

Fischer's announcement has underwhelmed the left, like this Demo-blog, which described Fischer as an "ice cube millionaire and Anne Northup supporter who thinks he can buy an election without having any grassroots support among Democrats and activists." And that's coming from his party.

Breaking: Fischer Announces

Greg Fischer has finally put an end to the speculation and announced that he will run for U.S. Senate. We await to learn whether he brings anything to the table besides his wallet. Check back for more.

Liberal Fascism

If you are searching for a great read, I have one. It is "Liberal Fascism - The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning", by Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg is columnist for the LA Times and a contributing editor to National Review. Goldberg's main thesis is that modern American Liberalism has its philosophical and intellectual roots in classical Fascism, and if you compare the philosophies side by side, their similarities are remarkable. The fascist label is typically fired from the Left towards the Right. This book proves that it has been going in the wrong direction.

An appendix to the book contains the 25 points of the Party Program of the Nazi Party, as proclaimed by Hitler. If you did not know the identity of this document, and aside from a few of the points and the style of the writing, it could be the party platform for the Democratic Party. The similarities are astounding...and chilling.

This book will drive liberals into an apoplectic state because it relies on their worst enemy, facts. The book has been meticulously and extensively researched, with over 50 pages of detailed footnotes. Goldberg's expansive and perceptive intellect is evidenced by his ability to pull in a broad range of historical figures and situations to support his thesis.

Goldberg makes it clear that today's fascism is a friendlier form than some of the fascistic movements of the past. This thought is well articulated in a quote from the dust jacket of the book: "The quintessential liberal fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore." Nonetheless, Goldberg makes it clear that the agenda of modern liberals will be every bit as detrimental to society as those of their fascist ancestors.

This book is not some rant of a wild-eyed radical, but a coolly and objectively written piece of solid scholarship. Goldberg has gifted us with a provocative thesis and a fascinating piece of political and intellectual history.

Run, Anne, Run!

It's unfortunate that Erwin Roberts has been called up to active military duty and will therefore have to put his plans to run for Congress on hold. We wish him and his family all the best as they await final word of his deployment, and thank him for his willingness to serve -- both in Congress and in the military.

But what a blessing that we have such a talented leader as Anne Northup available to jump in the void. She brings substantial experience and name ID as well as an ability to bring together broad segments of our community. She is a formidable campaigner.

Anne's political instincts were correct when she predicted last year that Ernie Fletcher could not be reelected. It stung to see her prophecy vindicated, because it stuck us with a Governor Beshear.

In a turn of events that I could never have forecast, however, things have worked out for the best. Preliminary polling shows that Anne Northup -- without having done a lick of campaigning -- would start the race essentially tied with John Yarmuth.

Yarmuth, moreover, has lost the one issue that propelled him into office: the perception that America could not win the war in Iraq. In addition, Yarmuth now has a real record, as opposed to his psychedelic musings from the Leo. Indeed, he is part of Nancy Pelosi's advisory group to help with "messaging" her "progressive" agenda.

Notwithstanding that Democrats have the registration edge in this district, Yarmuth is way to the left of many Kentucky Democrats and probably most independents. He has aligned himself with the Moveon.org fringe of his party: he refused to condemn the Moveon.org advertisement in the New York Times that called General David Petraeus -- a national hero -- General Betrayus.

He sponsors earmarks for Kentucky and then votes against them. He votes to honor Ramadan and Diwali, but not Christmas. These are votes that Anne Northup would never have made.

John Yarmuth is an embarrassment to this district, and Anne Northup is just the candidate to send him packing. If you know Anne or her family, urge her to run. Then write her a check.

ACLU Flush With New Privacy Rights

In case we needed a reminder that one of the single most important tasks of the president is to nominate competent judges, we get this story out of Minnesota via Drudge.

The ACLU has taken the position that Senator Larry Craig had a privacy right to engage in gay sex in the Minneapolis airport. In a brief to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the ACLU argued that Craig should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea, relying on a 38 year old Minnesota case that held that people who have sex in closed stalls in public restrooms "have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

What troubles me most about that decision is not the gay sex aspect. I don't really care about who Craig sleeps with, and would prefer to be spared the sordid details.

I do care about judges making up rights out of whole cloth. Last time I checked, the constitution contains no provisions relating to public restrooms (or, in the language of the Framers, to "necessaries").

The ACLU's reasoning assumes that Craig had a right to have sex in a place paid for, built, cleaned, and heated by the public -- in essence, that the public was somehow required to provide for a venue for Craig to have sex. That crosses the line from personal autonomy to a public subsidy.

So the question for voters becomes: which presidential candidate is most likely (or least likely) to appoint judges who will accept the ACLU's reasoning? For all his faults, President Bush has appointed the most brilliant strict constructionist judges of anyone in recent memory, including Ronald Reagan.

We need another president who will appoint more Alitos and Roberts. And we need enough Republican Senators to confirm those nominees.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wheaties Fail To Enhance Yarmuth's House Committee Performance

The votes are in on U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth's dumbest vote to date, as discussed below. But here's another trivia question: What is Yarmuth's dumbest question ever asked in a House committee hearing?

One possible winner came today, when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on which Yarmuth serves, held a hearing on illegal steroid use in Major League Baseball. (Query what illegal steroid use in Major League Baseball has to do with "Oversight and Government Reform", but we will let it slide because even Congressmen sometimes need a break from doing their real jobs.)

But if Yarmuth is going to talk baseball, at least he could say something intelligent about the game. Instead, he asked baseball commissioner Bud Selig and players' union president Don Fehr these penetrating questions:

YARMUTH: . . . So my question is do we really know enough to say that taking steroids or HGH improves a player's competitive position any more than chewing tobacco does, any more than chewing on sunflower seeds does, or anything else they might put in their body to relax them or to stimulate them?

I mean, I ate enough boxes of Wheaties as a kid. I know Wheaties don't do it. But do we have enough evidence to really make these type of determinations?


FEHR: I'm sorry, the question was directed to you.


SELIG: My answer to that would be yes. I think there is enough evidence that using performance-enhancing drugs gives a player an advantage.
. . . .

YARMUTH: Mr. Fehr, do you have the same conclusion?

FEHR: Yes. . . .

Well, duh! Yes, Congressman Yarmuth, steroids are performance-enhancing drugs, in case you didn't know that. And there you have it: John Yarmuth's major contribution to the Congressional record today.

Beshear Puts Lawmaker To Sleep

Not all listeners at last night's State of the Commonwealth speech were scratching their heads: at least one got some shuteye. (Thanks to Jim Pence for sharing this video.) In fairness to the dozer, it would have been hard for anyone to stay awake for all of that speech.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Still Scratching Their Heads In Frankfort

Former Secretary of State John Y. Brown III took umbrage with my characterization of his blog of December 11, 2007, regarding the inauguration of Governor Steve Beshear.

In a piece entitled "Democrats Scratch Their Heads", I wrote: "Today's the day when Kentucky Democrats should have been cheering Governor Beshear's inauguration, but instead some of them were left wondering what exactly the new administration was elected to do in office." Brown responded in a comment to my piece by arguing that Beshear's inaugural speech on "Kentucky’s Next Frontier" had somehow filled the void of Democratic ideas acknowledged in Brown's refreshingly honest piece:

I give Governor Beshear kudos for crisply articulating what he envisions Kentucky becoming under his leadership. From yesterday’s inaugural speech, Governor Beshear describes what he calls Kentucky’s Next Frontier:

A frontier of imaginative solutions;
A frontier for new technology and new industries;
A frontier that protects the environment, while creating opportunities;
A frontier that attracts entrepreneurs, tourists, retirees;
A frontier that keeps our own graduates right here at home.

Beshear apparently was borrowing from the rhetoric of JFK's "New Frontier" speech from the early 1960s. With all due respect, the Democrats really should offer something newer and more concrete than almost 50-year-old platitudes.

In his blog Brown had bluntly posed the conundrum of Democrats who are plumb out of ideas:

Republicans, it’s said, can put their core beliefs on a bumper sticker. Smaller government. Lower taxes. Family values. We can spend all day listing the deviations from these values, but give them their due: Republicans have done a better job defining themselves than we have done defining ourselves.

Brown went on to urge Democrats to answer: "How would you define the core principles of the Kentucky Democratic Party as we approach a new era of Democratic leadership?"

Governor Beshear has had a month now to think of an answer to Brown's question, and judging by his State of the Commonwealth address delivered this evening, he needs to think some more.
As Jill Johnson Keeney (one of the good journalists at The Courier-Journal) writes:

Well, Gov. Steve Beshear just delivered a report on the state of the commonwealth, and the only bold statement he made is this: "Frankly, the state of this commonwealth is not acceptable."

He told us he would never hesitate to express what he believes; he told us that it's time for leadership and bold action; and he told us that re-engineering Kentucky's economy from within must be among our highest priorities. And he said, "Ideas are the foundation of any new economy."


But he didn't offer one idea; he offered no new initiatives. That is amazing: In the State of the Commonwealth address, governors generally overpromise what they're going to do. Gov. Beshear promised nothing but to work on ethics reform and to only raise taxes as a last resort.

Keeney notes that even the Democrats were underwhelmed by Beshear's speech. "Several called the speech 'a little bland' or 'not much there,'" she reports. They must still be scratching their heads.

Poll Results: Yarmuth's Dumbest Vote

The readers have spoken, and decreed that Congressman John Yarmuth's dumbest vote to date was his refusal to condemn the Moveon.org ad, published in the New York Times, that called General David Petraeus "General Betray Us." That vote won by a margin of two to one over Yarmuth's runner-up for dumbest vote: his vote against funding the very earmarks that he had sponsored.

Yarmuth's votes to honor Ramadan, but only vote "present" regarding a resolution to honor Christmas, came in last. This surprised me.

The wide margin by which readers castigated Yarmuth for his "General Betray Us" vote -- essentially a big wet kiss to Moveon.org -- should worry Andrew Moveon.Horne.

More Fischer FEC Violations?

Greg Fischer, one of the rich guys who has been flirting with running for U.S. Senate, apparently continues to violate federal campaign law, even before he has made his candidacy official.

Page One reports that Fischer has been using one of his corporate underlings to buy up domain sites, which potentially constitutes an illegal corporate contribution, unless Fischer reimburses the corporation for the employee's time.

I can't say whether this constitutes an FEC violation. It is troubling, however, that a left-leaning blog has so characterized it. It would be better for the Commonwealth of Kentucky if Fischer could run a legal, competent campaign. That way we could beat him on the issues as opposed to discussing all the distractions he continues to create.

What change?

Hillary and Obama are talking alot about the need for change these days, but when you get behind their bombast and demagogy, you see that they are not talking about a change for the better. They are both all about finishing what FDR started in marching us toward the Nanny State, i.e., bigger government, higher taxes, nationalized social service programs, more entitlements, etc. They are not about positive change but about taking this country further down the road to the cul-de-sac of socialism. To accomplish their goals, the change Hillary and Obama are most interested in is a change of address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. God help us if either of them are calling for a moving van in January '09!

Edwards Can Model the Knickers

It's becoming all too apparent that John Edwards is hedging his bets, in case he can't pull off a win in South Carolina. What a treat to watch him explore other career paths.

There was that poignant moment in the New Hampshire debate when he leaned over to Obama, and batting his eye lashes, said "So, pick me, choose me, love me!" It was unclear whether he was begging to be Obama's running mate, or auditioning for Grey's Anatomy. (Senator McDreamy? I think not.)

But if Edwards doesn't get picked for Veep, he can always model for Brooks Brothers. Check out his photo shoot portfolio (via Instapundit).

To reiterate: real men don't wear knickers.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Memo That Won the Cold War

The Cold War ended so quickly that we didn't have much chance to savor the moment. The Washington Times has an excerpt of the State Department memorandum from the Reagan administration that laid out the strategy for ending the former Soviet Union and the Cold War.

Coincidentally, that controversial memo, known as NSDD-75, was written 25 years ago this week, primarily by Bill Clark and Richard Pipes.

Reagan's genius with respect to the Soviets was his rejection of detente and the policy of "containment" that Soviet Studies expert George Kennan had made the cornerstone of U.S.-Soviet relations since 1946. Containment, at its core, assumed that America could not win the Cold War, and should be grateful for anything short of nuclear annihilation.

Reagan was not content to "peacefully coexist" with the Soviets; he insisted that we could apply external pressure to change the very nature of the U.S.S.R..

His ability -- and courage -- to challenge the fundamental premises of American policy is what made Reagan one of our greatest presidents. It is also the characteristic that caused his rivals and enemies to dismiss him as a dim-witted actor.

The most critical portion of the Reagan NSC memo was also the most controversial. Indeed, the State Department wanted to drop it from the memo altogether:

the opening to NSDD-75 established two core "U.S. tasks:" First, "To contain and over time reverse Soviet expansionism ... . This will remain the primary focus of U.S. policy toward the U.S.S.R." And, second, "To promote, within the narrow limits available to us, the process of change in the Soviet Union toward a more pluralistic political and economic system in which the power of the privileged ruling elite is gradually reduced."

Fortunately, Reagan agreed with the National Security Council and the language remained. But it did not remain secret:

The directive resonated through the Soviet media. A piece by Grigori Dadyants in Sotsialisticheskaya Industriya stated, "Directive 75 speaks of changing the Soviet Union's domestic policy. In other words, the powers that be in Washington are threatening the course of world history, neither more nor less." Mr. Dadyants confidently assured his comrades that the grandiose "ideas of Reagan and Pipes" were "staggeringly naive."

Reagan was called "grandiose" and "staggeringly naive" by the Soviet press, but the New York Times and other U.S. intelligentsia said even worse. The New York Times, for example, called Reagan a "simpleton," and regularly complained about his refusal to agree to a nuclear freeze.

We know how this story ended, of course. Reagan did not just "threaten" to change the course of history; he changed it. And in the process Americans became safer and Russians became more free.

This is more than a history lesson, however. It's a reminder of what we need in a president, particularly when there are those who threaten America's very existence. Their tactics and philosophy differ, but the Islamofascists want us dead every bit as much as did the Politburo.

We need a president bold enough to revisit, challenge and if necessary reject the assumptions that have guided U.S. policy, just as Reagan jettisoned detente and containment. And we need a president who will not be dissuaded by the "conventional wisdom" at the New York Times. We need a president who is honest enough to acknowledge that we have enemies, and who will position America for a checkmate, even when the intelligentsia says, "we can't win; accept a draw."

C-J Take Note: LA Times Says "McConnell Has A Point" On FEC Nominations And That Obama Should Take A Hike From This Issue

Yet another national newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, weighs in today on the Democrats' stubborn refusal to confirm the Republicans' nominees to the Federal Election Commission. Like other national media the LA Times takes a far more balanced approach to the issue than does the provincial Courier-Journal.

As readers will recall, last Sunday the C-J's Jim Carroll wrote a slanted piece that tried to pin the blame on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for the U.S. Senate's failure to confirm the four nominations (two Democrat, two Republican) for FEC commissioners. Carroll quoted as "nonpartisan" an organization brimming with Democrats, Democracy 21, which accused McConnell of engaging in "obstructionism."

The motivation for the baseless charge of Democracy 21 and other Democratic front groups is that McConnell has insisted that the U.S. Senate confirm the two Republican nominees at the same time that it confirms the two Democrats -- thus preserving the tradition of deference to the other party's nominees to the FEC. Democrats would rather get their nominees confirmed, leave the Republican nominees (especially Hans A. von Spakovsky) in limbo, and thus control the FEC during this election year.

In an editorial the LA Times (certainly not a Republican mouthpiece) agrees with McConnell's position:

Finally, there's Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rejected a recent compromise offer from the Democratic leadership in which Von Spakovsky and the other nominees would get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. The Democrats have 51 votes, and McConnell countered with an offer to let all four nominations go forward, but with a threshold of 60 votes, guaranteeing that the Democrats couldn't get their nominees approved without giving in on Von Spakovsky. And so the stalemate continues.

McConnell has a point. The custom of cross-party deference on nominees deserves respect, President Bush has never interfered with Democratic FEC nominees, and Von Spakovsky should be judged chiefly on his FEC tenure. But tradition doesn't give anybody a right to a commission seat. It may be worth revisiting the way FEC seats are divvied up -- the current way seems designed to please sitting politicians rather than produce a vigorous regulatory body. In the meantime, however, we have a Federal Election Commission whether we really need one or not, and it shouldn't be broken in an election year.

The LA Times also criticizes Senator Barack Obama for serving as ring-leader for the Democratic circus in the Senate that is preventing confirmation of all four nominees:

By tradition, each party proposes its commissioners, the president nominates them and the Senate approves them, through consent rather than a formal vote. This fall, a group of Democratic senators, among them presidential candidate Barack Obama, placed a hold on Von Spakovsky's nomination. Republican senators shot back by holding up other FEC nominations, and the commission has been in limbo since existing terms ended in December.

. . . Whatever his philosophical objections to this nominee, it is at best unseemly for a presidential candidate [i.e., Obama] to hinder the federal body charged with regulating his own campaign. Three other Democrats already have holds on the nomination; Obama should remove himself from this matter.

So while the C-J blames the FEC impasse on McConnell, national media recognize that the Democrats, led by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- who has a conflict of interest on the issue -- are the real culprits.

But don't count on the C-J to print any retraction of Carroll's attack piece on McConnell. Neutral reporting of the facts would get in the way of the C-J 's "obstructionist" campaign theme.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Snake Oil Salesman

The Courier-Journal reports that Kentucky will have a $500 million deficit in our new budget. The story implies that the Fletcher administration left Steve Beshear with this deficit. OK, even if it is true (each administration proclaims it doesn't have enough money from the previous administration), should we not be happy that the money was appropriated to the constituents?

My high school math teachers always pointed out the amazing properties of math. I find it politically expedient (amazing) that we have a shortfall of $500 million dollars and if only we could get a casino, that will bring in $500 million dollars, the exact amount that we need. Really! That is almost magical (amazing) how it always works out mathematically!

So the sales pitch begins. Our new governor gets elected, promising to bring in casino gambling. Surprise, surprise: he gets in office, and within days realizes that we need money, and even if he fixes the shortfall, it cannot be done in a year -- but maybe two years. (Here's another mathematical equation: Legislators + solving budget crisis = two years to pass constitutional amendment on casinos.)

I also took history. The greatest axiom is "history repeats itself." Maybe we can take a lesson from our Kentucky Lottery and see how much money the state might make from casinos.

A visit to the Kentucky Lotto web site states that that 27.5 percent of the money spent on a lotto ticket goes to the Commonwealth, 60 percent of the ticket price goes to the winners -- who might be from out of state. In addition, 6.3 percent is paid to retailers and 6.2 percent goes to marketing and operating expenses.

Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

Something made me question these figures, so I made several calls to the Kentucky Lotto Headquarters and eventually spoke with Pam Jones. She told me that for every dollar a customer spends on a lottery ticket, half of it -- 50 percent -- goes to the MUSL (Multiple United States Lottery) Company. MUSL runs lottery systems for different states, and I suspect one would find it lobbies state legislators and pays for extensive advertising to promote the benefits of lotteries when they come up for votes.

Armed with this conveniently undisclosed information, we now know the above-quoted numbers are only exactly half of that for your dollar waged. So only 13.75 percent dividends go to the Commonwealth, only 30 percent goes to the winners, only 3.15 percent pays the retailers, and only 3.1 percent covers marketing -- while 50 percent leaves Kentucky. This is because we allow out-of-state people to organize the lottery. The lottery web page states that $1.4 billion has gone to the General Fund since 1989 (just under $8 million a year). But that also means that $1.4 billion has left our Commonwealth.

What might happen if we get casinos? Will they be run by state personnel or will they be run by big gambling concerns, that take half of our money out of state? Leaving aside for now the moral issue, are casinos mathematically wise?

What might be perceived as an easy fix could well prove to be very costly to the residents of the Bluegrass. I have an alternative solution that I will be post at another time.

Put Your Knickers in a Double Windsor Knot

I saw this on Instapundit and could not stop laughing. Check out this picture, and this.

I have several thoughts. First, this would never have passed muster in the Preppy Handbook -- no amount of madras can salvage this fashion crime. Second, I think it all began with the "man hug." Finally, I'm pretty sure that in Kentucky, if a man wears knickers, it is immediate grounds for divorce. Don't tell me you're "secure in your masculinity." If you wear knickers, your security is misplaced.

One more thought. Is Brooks Brothers outsourcing to the Chinese? It would fit the paradigm. They sold us poison pet food. They sold us lead-painted toys. And now they want our men to look like Little Lord Fauntleroy?

Friday, January 11, 2008

What change?

I was recently listening to an interview with a young marine and I was particularly struck by something he said. He was talking about why he had volunteered to serve in Iraq and one of the reasons was that he felt that it was America's job, and therefore his, to help spread freedom to the rest of the world.

That set me to thinking about the parallel between the characteristics of a successful individual and a successful nation. Truly successful individuals are those who looks beyond themselves to help others. Not until we put aside our selfishness and self centeredness can we truly be whole human beings.

This characteristic is also one that has been key reason for the success of our country. We have spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to spread freedom throughout the world. Freedom is America's distinctive competency. If we as a nation horde that freedom and cease the willingness to make those sacrifices necessary to guarantee it for others, we do so to our own detriment.

The Story the C-J Refuses to Cover

Somebody correct me if I've missed it. A few days ago, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign released new poll numbers that showed him with a 61 percent approval rating and double-digit leads over every conceivable candidate, with the exception of David Hawpe.

Yet I have not seen that story covered in the Courier-Journal, or the Lexington Herald-Leader, or on local television news. National journalists covered it. But the Kentucky dinosaur media ignore it. Sometimes, media bias becomes most evident by the absence of coverage.

Hillary Would Exempt Illegal Aliens With Ovaries

The heat of the Nevada sun is starting to impact Hillary. No, she hasn't cried, but she's advocating an immigration policy that guts the rule of law.

Take this exchange, as reported by a Nevada paper and linked by Drudge:

A man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal.

"No woman is illegal," Clinton said, to cheers.

This is absolute nonsense. It suggests that in addition to letting illegal aliens -- who happen to be women -- bear their "anchor" babies, we're going to give these women immunity for breaking the law.

It's hard to square Hillary's assertion that "No woman is illegal" with her supposed commitment to "strict but fair enforcement of our laws." Exempting a segment of the population from our immigration laws, based solely on their gender, does not sound fair. It sounds like sex discrimination.

Imagine if a male candidate promised to exempt men from the immigration laws. No secret service agent could protect that man from the wrath of Hillary and her feminist gal-pals.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Horne Puts Cart Before Horse

Andrew Moveon.Horne has announced that the grand opening of his campaign headquarters will be next Tuesday. But he has yet to file his candidacy with Kentucky's Secretary of State.

The official site for the Secretary of State indicates that the only candidates to file for U.S. Senate thus far are Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, David L. Williams and Michael Cassarao. Williams might be an "embarrassment," and Cassaro might be an "impossibility," as Page One described them, but at least they know how to get on the ballot.

Horne, and any of the rich-guy wannabe senators, have until January 29th to file. Oh, the suspense is just killing me.

Two Ugly Step-candidates Left Out

Page One reports that Andrew Moveon.Horne will appear in Northern Kentucky tonight -- without any of his primary opponents. The Kenton County Democratic Party, which is hosting the meet and greet, thinks that "Mr. Horne is currently the only Democrat who has officially filed to challenge Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in this fall’s general election."

In fact, as the post above shows, the Kenton County Democratic Party has it exactly backwards.

No doubt the ommission hurt the feelings of the other two actual candidates, whom Page One described as "perennial embarrassment David Lynn Williams and impossibility Michael Cassaro." This is what is known as adding insult onto injury.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

McConnell's Lead Increases to Double Digits

Both parties' presidential primaries continue to shock and amaze us. In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, however, the trajectory continues upward for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell's campaign released the results of a new poll conducted January 6th through January 8th by Voter/Consumer Research. The results show McConnell beating all candidates -- declared and rumored -- by double digits.

Check out McConnell's approval ratings: 61% approve of McConnell's job performance, and only 29% disapprove. Those are numbers that President Bush and the Congress as a whole must envy.

Here's how a McConnell match-up would look: if the election were held today, McConnell would win 52% to 37% over Bruce Lunsford -- a 15% margin; 53% to 35% over Charlie Owen -- an 18% margin; 54% to 32% over Greg Fischer -- a 22% margin; and 55% to 32% over Andrew Horne -- a 23% margin.

To reiterate for those Demo-blogs so besotted with Andrew Horne that they can't see straight: McConnell would beat Andrew Horne by 23 percent. To be sure, those numbers will narrow if Horne ever runs a real campaign. Nonetheless, that's a formidable gap to overcome.

In addition, Lunsford's numbers show that even though he has thrown good money after bad (more than $ 14 million) in his quest for higher office, his personal fortune can't buy him name ID; 64% still either do not know of Lunsford or have no opinion of him. Those are numbers that should give Charlie Owen and Greg Fischer pause as each contemplates running as the latest rich-guy wannabe senator.