Saturday, March 29, 2008

Enviro-Do-Gooders Can't Hold A Candle To NCAA Basketball

I thought my kids had been messing with the computer, but now I know who the real culprit is for that annoying black screen when I open up the Google home page. According to the Associated Press, "Internet search engine Google lent its support to Earth Hour by blackening its normally white home page and challenging visitors: 'We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn.'" And not only that:

From Rome's Colosseum to the Sydney Opera House, floodlit icons of civilization went dark Saturday for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the threat of climate change.

The environmental group WWF urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m. wherever they were.

Plllease! This is the most ridiculous "energy conservation" measure since President Jimmy Carter told us not to use any Christmas lights in the 1970s.

Sorry, but I will be watching the NCAA basketball tournament at 8 p.m. "Saving" the world from "climate change" will just have to wait until we go to bed victorious after the U of L - North Carolina game.

Update: Elephants in the Bluegrass will retain its "green" background for the duration of the blackout.

Update No. 2: Go Cards!

Update No. 3: The Tar Heels delivered the blackout of the Cards' season -- for both men and women. Oh well. It was a great season nonetheless. Thanks, Cardinals, and good luck to North Carolina for the remainder of the respective tournaments.

We Can Pick Our Own Good Causes

Kentuckians don't need the state government to designate which charity should be the object of our generosity. Consequently, neither of the charities seeking to get the $10 from "In God We Trust" license plates should win this debate. Let the drivers decide as a matter of individual conscience.

John Cheves has been following the legislation for Pol Watchers,

The Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday approved House Bill 207 and sent it to the full Senate. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, would let Kentucky motorists buy a specialty plate emblazoned with the words “In God We Trust.” Ten dollars from each plate would go to the state’s veterans’ trust fund.

Gooch's bill has drawn protests from a nonprofit group, Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK), that applied late last year to the Transportation Cabinet for its own “In God We Trust” plates to raise money for its anti-pornography efforts. ROCK alleges that lawmakers swiped its idea and now stand to divert millions of dollars in potential revenue.

Both sides of this debate implicitly assert that God would want that $10 donated to their charity. Helping veterans and fighting pornography -- both are worthy causes, competing for scarce dollars against other worthy causes.

The license plate about to be released, however, does not read: "God Loves Veterans!" or "God Hates Pornography!" though both sentiments may well be true. The disputed tag reads "In God We Trust." That's one God, but how and when and to what extent we trust Him varies greatly from person to person. State coercion or entanglement on matters of altruism and faith undermines respect for both state and charity.

So Kentucky should follow Indiana's lead and let drivers purchase the "In God We Trust" license plates for no additional charge. Then drivers can donate $10 or however much they want to whomever they want, as the Spirit leads them.

One Small Step for Kentucky Schools

Once and while, even in Frankfort, an issue comes along to which the answer is clear-cut even to to those who come from different political parties and philosophies. Buried beneath all the rancor of competing proposed budgets for Kentucky is such an issue.

The Senate's proposed budget includes language that would give schools flexibility in how to publish certain required information; the Senate version would allow schools to use the Internet to meet their public notice requirements.

Kentucky law requires schools to notify members of the public that they can review their school district's annual financial statement and school report cards of aggregate CATS test results. At present, schools must publish these legal notices in the newspaper with the largest circulation for the area.

For a small school district in proximity to a big newspaper, that is a very expensive -- and unfunded -- mandate. The Courier-Journal, for example, charges thousands of dollars to publish these notices.

The Senate proposes language that would let schools continue to publish in the newspaper, if they so choose, but also would allow publication via the Internet. The Kentucky School Board Association has urged the legislature to make this change for many years.

In the earliest days of the Internet, perhaps legislators justifiably could worry that not enough members of the public were on-line to satisfy the purpose of the notice requirements. That is no longer the case.

If anything, the success of the Internet has jeopardized traditional print media to the point where even Old School newspapers publish on-line. There's an irony: schools are forced to pay to appear in newspapers that then publish on-line, when the school could skip the newspaper as middleman and get the same result for free. Consequently, the current publication law enriches the newspaper industry to the detriment of our children.

Moreover, residents who want to review information about the local school are far more likely to click on the school district's web site than to get out magnifying glasses to read the legal notices in the newspaper.

This is not a hard call. If the Senate, the General Assembly and the Governor can at least agree on this small change, then at least this legislative session will have produced one good thing. It's not much, but it's better than nothing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Audacity of Bigotry

Mr. Wonderful has been unmasked. Barack Obama's association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is proof of one thing: Obama is a racist focused on the politics of division. By now we have all heard the sound clips of the Reverend Wright's vile and hateful language. Obama has of course tried to distance himself from the Reverend Wright, but his eloquent dissembling can't get him out of this one. The Reverend Wright wasn't just Barack's pastor, he performed his marriage, baptized his children and in Barack's own words, was his "spiritual advisor". A spiritual advisor is one of the most intimate and close of all human relationships. Barack knew exactly what Wright was preaching, and he endorsed it. Barack Obama is a very angry and hateful man. A Harvard education, a calm demeanor and an eloquent tongue tend to mask this, but his longstanding and close relationship with the Reverend Wright is proof of his deception.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Annoy the New York Times: Vote Four Onto the FEC

Last fall the New York Times said it would be "Back-Scratching Across the Aisle" for Democrats to confirm the two Republican nominees for the Federal Election Commission at the same time the two Democratic nominees are confirmed. We would call such a vote an act of goodwill and bipartisanship, given that one party traditionally does not hold the other party's FEC nominee hostage in the confirmation process, as the Democrats have done with Republican Hans von Spakovsky.

Yesterday the backscratching was between the Democrats and the Times, which applauded the Democrats' continued obstructionism on the FEC confirmation vote. Indeed, the Times tries to flip the issue, claiming that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is to blame for not having caved to Democrats who want to stack the FEC with their own people.

The Times also resorts to name calling, saying von Spakovsky is "a notorious partisan who built a record at the Justice Department as an aggressive G.O.P. booster undermining voting rights for minorities and the poor." The proof? "He was a major proponent of a noxious Georgia law requiring voters to have photo ID’s."

Whether a voter should be required to prove his identity with a driver's license or equivalent is, at a minimum, an issue on which reasonable minds can disagree. It should not disqualify someone from serving on the FEC.

The Democrats should stop being obstinate and allow the Republicans to seat their two choices for the FEC along with the Democrats' two picks. As the Times recognizes, the FEC has important business to do, including enforcement of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. All four nominees should be confirmed so the FEC can get to work.

Hillary Hopes Money Talks

Boston.com reports that "[t]he 20 Hillary Clinton supporters who sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter telling her to keep hands off the superdelegate fight warned ominously that they had been enthusiastic financial backers of the Democratic Party." And these were just ordinary mom-and-pops supporters: "the letter-signers, along with their spouses, have contributed $23.6 million to Democrats since 1999, the Center for Responsive Politics said." This is what should be called "pay to pray (she still has a chance) politics".

Let the Democrats Pick Their Own

Okay, all you turncoat Republicans: Stop trying to vote in the Democratic primary!

The Associated Press reports:

Thousands of Kentuckians have switched political parties over the past three months, apparently in hopes of voting in the Democratic presidential primary.

Problem is Secretary of State Trey Grayson says Kentucky law forbids people who switch parties after Dec. 31 from voting in the presidential primary.


Enough said.

Spitzer Cheated On His Call-Girl

Former Governor Elliot Spitzer was a regular customer of more than the Emperors [sic] Club VIP for his call girls; he "patronized Wicked Models, the Manhattan-based operation taken down Tuesday," according to the New York Post. (H/T: hotair.com)

The head of Wicked Models is Kristen "Billie" Davis, who made two million dollars last year pimping out prostitutes for $1,000 an hour. That's cheap compared to the $5,500 per hour that clients paid for some of the Emperors Club women.

The Post reports that Davis "'personally interfaced with Spitzer a number of times" since 2003 before she became a madam,'" according to a source close to Davis. (Interface? Is that the verb they're teaching in Health?)

Davis' client list allegedly includes 10,000 names.

Given that Davis has now been indicted for money laundering and promoting prostitution -- and faces the prospect of 15 years in jail -- we can expect to hear more about those 10,000 names. In an election year, no less. Men, the attorney-client, doctor-patient, pastor-penitent privileges do not apply; there is no hooker-John privilege.

McCain Campaign's Internet Link To Twenty-Something Voters

Sen. John McCain's 23-year-old daughter, Meghan, has started an Internet diary, http://www.mccainblogette.com/, which the Associated Press reports "offers an insider's view, offbeat and sometimes surprisingly intimate":

Meghan uses backstage images to spotlight her father's sense of humor: cracking up with former President Bush just before Bush endorses him and snapping tongs at the camera as he grills for journalists at home in Sedona, Ariz.

There is a photograph of her mother, Cindy, barefoot in pink polka-dotted pajamas, having her hair taken down the night McCain clinched the nomination in Dallas. Meghan also reveals that her mother, chairwoman of a family beer company, knows if a beer is fresh "depending on the taste."

Meghan decided to blog about the campaign, with help from a couple of friends, after graduating last year from Columbia University.

Her Web site mixes behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the campaign trail with iPod music playlists, designer fashion, even makeup tips.

It can be addictive, says Julie Barko Germany, director of the Institute for Politics and the Internet at George Washington University.

"It feels almost like picking up a copy of Us Weekly — real stars, they're just like us!" Germany said.

Meghan's web site may be just what the 71-year-old McCain needs to connect with twenty somethings. Perhaps Chelsea Clinton should do a similar makeover for her mom with the younger crowd.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bipartisan Baseball Blather

Congressman John Yarmuth and his Democratic colleagues on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have wasted a lot of taxpayer money investigating the "he said, he said" dispute between Roger Clemens and his alleged steroids and human growth hormone injector, Brian McNamee. The grandstanding (and it wasn't in a ballpark) has thus far produced an "18-page memo compiled by majority staff and released by chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, on Feb. 27," according to the Associated Press.

Now the AP reports that Republican committee members have joined in the tree killing, with a "109-page report" that purportedly "'seeks to dispel conclusions that may have resulted from an incomplete consideration of the full record' and contains details Rep. Tom Davis believes could challenge the credibility of McNamee."

Who cares? The House committee shouldn't have conducted the hearings in the first place. Both Clemens and McNamee ought to be able to raise the defense of "irrelevant to the work of Congress" if either of them is ever prosecuted for alleged misstatements in their testimony.

Congressman Davis has opted not to run for reelection this year. Too bad Yarmuth will not do the same. Anne Northup should promise that, once she defeats Yarmuth, she will not participate in similar silly games that masquerade as congressional work.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Family Ties

The Associated Press reports that "[r]esearchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society found some remarkable family connections for the three presidential candidates — Democratic rivals Obama and Clinton, and Republican John McCain."

It turns out that "Barack Obama is a distant cousin of actor Brad Pitt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is related to Pitt's girlfriend, Angelina Jolie." Does that make Barack and Hillary "dissing cousins"?

And not only that, there are other unexpected finds in the presidential candidates' respective genealogies:

Clinton, who is of French-Canadian descent on her mother's side, is also a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette. Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, can call six U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, his cousins. McCain is a sixth cousin of first lady Laura Bush.

The AP further elaborates on Obama's family ties:

Obama has a prolific presidential lineage that features Democrats and Republicans. His distant cousins include President George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman and James Madison. Other Obama cousins include Vice President Dick Cheney, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Civil War General Robert E. Lee.

It looks like Barack has the most blue-blood connections. In comparison, Hillary (whose only notable relations appear to be musicians) is a woman of the people.

Bourbon Politics

For those bored with the brawl between Barack and Hillary, here's a report on another important election-year contest just decided:

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) announced the 2008 winners. Buffalo Trace Distillery was named "Distillery of the Year." This is the first time in the competition's history an American distillery has taken home this honor. The SFWSC is the largest spirits competition in the United States with more than 800 products from 63 different countries participating in this year's event.

Congratulations to Mark Brown and company at Buffalo Trace!

CBS Debunks Hillary's Bosnia Tale

Of all the networks to accuse Hillary Clinton of making stuff up, CBS -- the "Clinton Broadcast Service" -- is the least likely. Yet it was CBS that pointed out that Clinton's tale of risking her neck to go to Bosnia -- under supposed sniper fire -- deviated far from reality.

CBS was able to impeach Clinton's account with actual videotape that the network shot when it accompanied the former First Lady to Bosnia (linked by Drudge). No snipers; just charming children.

Clinton's campaign is attempting to spin the Bosnia story as a simple mistake -- a lapse of memory that stems from Clinton visiting 80 foreign countries as First Lady.

Having made her experience an issue, and having boasted about her bravery in visiting combat zones, this exaggeration reminds the public that when it comes to factual accuracy, the Clintons are rely on a fuzzy truthiness that cannot survive the scrutiny of a YouTube election.

Monday, March 24, 2008

One More Convert For the Cause

Another former "progressive" has admitted the error of his ways. Playwright David Mamet wrote an essay for the Village Voice entitled, Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' in which he admits that his Utopian view of "progressivism" cannot be squared with his real life observations about human nature and government.

While writing a play about a conservative president and his "brain-dead liberal" speech writer, Mamet experienced a sort of political epiphany.

Mamet describes his former political orientation: "As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart."

The underlying assumption of this view, Mamet realized, is that "everything is always wrong." "But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country."

The assumption that "everything is always wrong," Mamet realized, could not be squared with that other tenet of liberalism -- that people are "basically good at heart."

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

Mamet notes that his observation of human nature as a playwright comports with the view of the Founding Fathers:

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

Thus the need for separation of powers and federalism.

After discovering that his old world view didn't work, Mamet realizes that he distrusts government generally. Not just George W. Bush -- whom he "considered a monster" -- but JFK, "a president whom I revered."

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

Mamet's newly realistic assessment of human nature causes him to reassess institutions such as the military, corporations and even the jury. These groups that he previously had considered inherently evil, it turns out are just "working groups" of ordinary people, not infalible but able to to produce a good result much of the time. Indeed, America itself is not nearly so bad as the rest of the world likes to pretend, Mamet concludes.

Mamet then starts reading conservative writers Thomas Sowell, Paul Johnson and Milton Friedman, and is stunned to find "I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism."

This conversion from youthful radical to mid-life conservative now puts Mamet in the company of such literary greats as Kingsley Amis, William Wordsworth and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

What a pity that we don't see the beautiful people of Hollywood undergoing a similar transformation. To be sure, most of these people transform themselves in mid-life. Mamet's metamorphosis, however, was deeper than Botox. Let's hope it is also longer-lasting.

Hillary's Not OK

How about them Cards! A 30-point win over the Sooners yesterday -- quite impressive.

Speaking of decimating Oklahoma, check out this spoof of Hillary singing a famous Broadway tune with new lyrics about her opponent:

Click here: Barack Obama: Walt Handelsman Animation

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

It's daunting to write anything about Easter; I can't add anything to St. John's words. The Anchoress, on the other hand, is a site that any person of faith should visit on a regular basis. Here's a link to her Easter posting.

I can't resist one political digression: it's snowing in Kentucky. We need a little global warming, right this very minute. That is, Al Gore has no future as a meteorologist.

Our best wishes for a blessed Easter.

Limousine Liberal

Why do these numbers not suprise us? The Courier-Journal's Jim Carroll reports that Congressman John Yarmuth "was more liberal on key votes last year than 69.7 percent of his House colleagues." Also, "Golf Digest has released its ratings of 'Washington's Top 200' in golf, and Yarmuth ranks first among members of Congress with a USGA Handicap Index of plus-0.5." Raising taxes and playing many rounds of golf are easily affordable for a multi-millionaire like Yarmuth.

Friday, March 21, 2008

NRCC Targets Yarmuth

As the Ditch Mitch movement runs out of steam, Kentucky Democrats' election-year strategy will need to shift from offense to defense to protect their most vulnerable member in the state's Washington, D.C. delegation. The Southern Political Report notes that Congressman John Yarmuth is on Republicans' target list for defeat in November:

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) has included five Southern congressional districts among its 24 targets for making US House gains in this fall’s elections. The five Democratic incumbents that the GOP will focus on in Dixie are Nick Lampson (TX 22), Tim Mahoney (FL 16), Jim Marshall (GA 8), Ciro Rodriguez (TX 23) and John Yarmuth (KY 3). All are freshmen, when incumbents are traditionally most vulnerable, except Marshall, who was elected in 2002.

Yarmuth's vulnerability is undoubtedly enhanced by the poor showing of both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama with Kentucky voters:

A SurveyUSA poll of Kentucky voters released March 19 shows John McCain leading both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by significant margins. McCain beat Obama 64% to 28%, a whopping 36-point margin, and beat Clinton by a still healthy 53% to 43%.

Doom and Gloom at Blue Grass Roots

The Demo-blogs grow more dispirited each day, as the election draws closer. Here's the latest prediction for Blue Grass Roots:

Bruce Lunsford has no chance at winning in the fall. Z-ee-ro. Greg Fischer has at least a small chance. I prefer a small chance at big change than no chance at no change.

The nagging question remains: Are Chuck Schumer and the national Democrats really so out of touch that they don't know that Lunsford is despised as a corrupt retread? Or are they so cheap that they don't care about Lunsford's chances, and just wanted an excuse to throw their money elsewhere?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bambi Legislation

"Buzzards could lose a bountiful food supply under a bill that's making its way through the Kentucky General Assembly," reports the Associated Press.

And we are not taking about the carcass that is the Governor's casino gambling initiative. No, the dead animals garnering the legislature's attention are deer:

The measure would change a law that essentially bars farmers who shoot crop-damaging deer from giving them to needy families.

With the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources issuing about 3,500 permits for landowners to shoot troublesome deer each year, buzzards and coyotes have had lots of rotting carcasses to dine on.

If state Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge, gets his way, those deer would be eaten by people.

Of course, if this legislation passes, expect a lawmaker in a future session to propose a commission to regulate the distribution of deer meat (see the next post), given that the price of dinner for buzzards and coyotes is bound to rise.

Got Milk? The Kentucky House Wants To Regulate It

Hey, Kentucky House members, what are you -- socialists or something? WKYT.com reports that House Bill 623, which would "create a state dairy commission and possibly regulate milk prices in Kentucky", has passed the House "by a vote of 90 to 5":

Bill sponsor Mitchel Denham, Jr. says the legislation would protect dairy farmers in his northern district, and in the long run could stabilize milk prices for consumers across the state. Denham says one of the reasons milk prices are on the rise, is because Kentucky imports so much milk from other states.

"We want to find why that is occurring, you know what can we do keep our dairy industry from evaporating," Denham said.

The bill calls for a study to determine whether price regulation is necessary.

We can answer that question without spending any taxpayer money on a commission: price regulation is not necessary. As anyone who lived through the crazy wage and price controls of President Richard Nixon (the pseudo-conservative who claimed "we are all Keynesians now"), price regulation doesn't work. It just leads to shortages of goods. The extreme example was the Soviet Union, where grocery stores were constantly bare of essential products.

We seriously doubt that price supports are truly necessary to "keep our dairy industry from evaporating", as Denham asserts. More likely his protectionist measure would simply prop up inefficient producers that should go into other more profitable lines of agriculture. That is what capitalism is all about, and why Denham's bill is directly contrary to a central tenet of free competition, which is to reward successful producers who help drive down the prices of goods for consumers.

And if milk prices are currently "on the rise", as Denham contends, then that increase will simply incentivize producers to supply more milk, which in turn will stabilize prices without the need for any government intervention. In short, we don't need the Kentucky legislature to pass a new law when the law of supply and demand already exists to redress Denham's concerns.

Thank goodness we have a Senate where Denham's hare-brained proposal hopefully will go to die.

Wright Takes Toll On Obama's Poll Numbers

There is no doubt the flap over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's outrageous statements has hurt his most famous parishioner's popularity.

In the new Gallup poll, Sen. Hillary Clinton has "a 49 percent to 42 percent edge over Obama" among Democratic voters. The Times (as in London) reports "a 13 point shift to the former First Lady in less than a fortnight."

And while in a poll of likely voters from both parties, Clinton is statistically tied with Sen. John McCain (actually McCain edged her 48 percent to 45 percent, but his lead was close to the margin of error), McCain is clearly ahead of Obama in a similar match-up (47 percent to 43 percent).

Osama Steals The Show

The weatherman should have predicted it: Osama bin Laden rained on the minuscule "Let's surrender to al Qaeda in Iraq" parades in Louisville and other cities yesterday. Even the left-leaning Guardian acknowledges that "[t]here were small protests in Washington yesterday but a promised mass demonstration failed to materialise." In Louisville, only "about 30 fellow anti-war demonstrators" showed up, reports the Courier-Journal.

Osama has this annoying habit of sticking his foot in anti-war protesters' mouths. As the Washington Post explains:

In a new audiotape released Wednesday, Osama bin Laden warned Europeans that they will face a "severe reckoning" for repeatedly publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in newspapers and magazines.

The five-minute speech was the second time in four months that bin Laden has delivered threats to European countries. He made only one oblique reference to President Bush -- calling him "your aggressive ally . . . who is about to depart the White House" -- and instead addressed his remarks to "the intelligent ones in the European Union."

The al-Qaeda leader criticized European countries for joining in military campaigns in Muslim lands. Although he lamented those actions, he suggested that the Muhammad cartoons were even more immoral and that retaliation was coming.

Thanks for reminding us, Osama, that cutting and running from Iraq won't solve our problems with al Qaeda. Indeed, even the "intelligent" Europeans who have withdrawn troops from Iraq -- to use Osama's terminology -- still face al Qaeda's wrath because they have the audacity to support freedom of speech. Osama reminds us all of how naive the anti-war protesters and politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are for believing that Americans can talk their way to peace with people who want to cut off our heads.

Osama really should keep his mouth shut so that the anti-war demonstrators can do their job. As President Bush noted yesterday:

"For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al-Qaida rallied Arab masses to drive America out. Instead, Iraq has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al-Qaida out. In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden ... And the significance of this development cannot be overstated."

* * * *

Speaking of Osama, Obama and Hillary, check out the new bumper sticker WorldNetDaily.com offers for sale: "Defeat Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Mama."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

These Bumper Stickers Are Great!

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign has unveiled a new series of bumper stickers that support those Kentucky teams playing in the NCAA tournament. Order yours here. I'm getting the "Cardinals for McConnell" bumper sticker.

Best of luck to everyone on their brackets.

Victims That Will Go Unnamed

Democracynow.org reports that Louisville will be one of a group of cities where Iraq war protesters plan to demonstrate today:

To mark this fifth anniversary of the invasion, hundreds of marches, sit-ins and other protests are planned around the country. In Washington, D.C., demonstrators plan to block the entrance to the Internal Revenue Service and to disrupt the offices of K Street lobbyists who represent military contractors and oil companies profiting from the war. In New York, protesters from the Granny Peace Brigade will hold a “knit-in” at the Times Square military recruitment center. In Chicago, a large rally and protest march is planned, while in Louisville, Kentucky, protesters will read aloud the names of some of the US troops killed in the war. And college students from New Jersey to North Dakota are planning walkouts across their campuses.

(emphasis added).

Don't count on the Louisville protesters reading any of the names of the 600,000 civilians and 500,000 soldiers who were Saddam Hussein's death victims before the U.S. military liberated Iraq. It would take too long to read all of those names, and besides, these protesters can't get too worked up about saving Iraqi lives. As a politician might say, that would be "off message".

The C-J "Clarifies" McConnell Misquote

Some newspapers, when they make a mistake, issue a correction or a retraction. When the Courier-Journal needed to clean up the mess it made yesterday -- attributing a quote to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell that actually came from a rival -- it issued a "clarification."

According to today's C-J, the story it ran yesterday "was unclear in its attribution of a statement by Dan Coleman, manger of Democrat Michael Cassaro's campaign." To the contrary, the story was very clear -- just factually incorrect. We need a dictionary to translate C-J speak: a "clarification" is a correction; "unclear" means flat out wrong.

The "clarification," incidentally, does not mention McConnell or in any way say to whom the quote was incorrectly attributed. Nor was McConnell's the only missing name. The "Human [sic] Festival playwright" (see post below) didn't even get a "clarification."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

To Err Is "Human" At The C-J

On a day when the Courier-Journal brags about its "high standards", it is ironic that the misquote from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is not the only misprint in that newspaper. Check out the picture on page E1 of writer Jennifer Haley, who is captioned as a "Human [sic] Festival playwright."

One of the perquisites of being Senate Republican Leader is that when the C-J misquotes you, the paper fixes it. Poor Ms. Haley did not get the same treatment. Alas, she remains merely "Human" in the C-J's online edition as well as in the earlier print version.

After the performance of Ms. Haley's work at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre, perhaps the C-J could hire her to proofread.

C-J's Bogus McConnell Quote

The Courier-Journal contains a piece by Joe Gerth on the U.S. Senate race that attributes a quote to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. The only problem is that McConnell did not say those words. In fact, the C-J neither sought nor received any quote regarding the AFL-CIO endorsement of W. Bruce Lunsford.

The printed version of the C-J erroneously quotes McConnell regarding Dr. Mike Cassaro, who is running in the Democratic primary to challenge McConnell:

"'Mike's campaign has been warmly received by the rank-and-file membership of most unions in Kentucky. We are continuing to work with a number of independent labor organizations,'said McConnell, the Senate minority leader, is seeking his fifth term."

To be sure, Cassaro is one of the weaker Democrats seeking to run against McConnell. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine McConnell commending Cassaro's campaign as "warmly received." And in fact, McConnell said no such thing.

The C-J's online edition attributes the quote to Dan Coleman, Cassaro's campaign manager -- though the C-J fails to mention that the online edition corrects a mistake that appeared in print. We wait with baited breath to see if the C-J will run a retraction.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Louisville School Goes On Lockdown

A private school in Louisville is on lock down after reports of a stranger entering the school. The school is located at 5400 Minor's Lane; Evangel Creative Learning Center, lists that same address.

Other schools in metro Louisville have raised their security level to be on the safe side until more information is forthcoming.

Sorry for the late update: This appears to have been a false alarm on the part of the school, thankfully. We've seen enough school shootings in recent years that schools react with an abundance of caution. Perhaps it is no longer possible for a school to over-react to the sighting of a stranger in its midst.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Obama's List of Goodies Too Audacious for Senate

Senator Barack Obama has promised, if elected president, to give so many new government entitlements that his audiences literally swoon in anticipation. Tonight, however, senators from both parties gagged at the price tag -- $ 300 billion a year in new taxes.

Republican Senator Wayne Allard, who is retiring, called Obama's bluff by offering an amendment to raise enough taxes to pay for everything that Obama has promised. The Allard amendment, according to Politico,

includes $1.4 trillion in spending over five years by proposing Obama's universal health care program ($65 billion a year), expanding the Army ($6.6 billion a year) and eliminating income taxes on lower income seniors ($10 billion a year).

The Senate rejected the Allard amendment 97-0; even Obama voted against it.

The proposed amendment calculated that it would cost $ 300 billion a year to pay for just 111 of Obama's new proposals. But that just scratches the surface: While campaigning, Obama has offered 188 new spending proposals -- 77 of which can't yet be quantified, but will likely add billions to the $300 billion price tag.

The numbers become surreal. In comparison, Obama's $300 billion extra in annual spending would cost more than the combined budgets of 42 states.

And Obama certainly leaves the Clinton administration in the dust. President Clinton increased taxes in 1993 by $240.6 billion over five years. At the time, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- an old school liberal -- called it "the largest tax increase in the history of public finance in the United States or the world." Obama, however, would spend more in one year than Clinton did in five.

The real point of the Allard amendment was to show who would pay for Obama's proposals. The short answer: just about everyone. The notion that Obama could raise taxes just on the top one percent of Americans is, as Bill Clinton might put it, a "fairy tale."

The only way Obama could fund his proposals on the backs of the top one percent of taxpayers is to raise their taxes by 57 percent. That's a $40,300 increase for a taxpayer who makes $365,000. The effect on our economy would be devastating, particularly if the country is in the midst of a recession.

A 57 percent tax hike, on anyone, is not realistic. Consequently, Congress would have to spread the cost of Obama's largess over a broader pool of taxpayers.

For example, Congress could raise taxes on the top five percent of taxpayers by 38 percent. Or it could increase the tax load of the top 10 percent by 32 percent. Or those taxpayers in the top quartile could see their taxes increase by 26 percent. Alternatively, Congress could raise taxes on the top 50 percent of taxpayers by 23 percent. Note that a taxpayer only needs to make $31,000 a year in adjusted gross income to fall into the top 5o percent.

Absent enormous spending cuts (which Obama has not suggested), therefore, Congress would have to raise taxes on middle class families and small businesses -- or else run up the deficit even further.

Moreover, the taxes needed to support an Obama spending spree wouldn't be applied in a vacuum; the new taxes would be in addition to what taxpayers will pay if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. (Democrats oppose extending the tax cuts, which amounts to a tax increase.)

All 97 senators who voted tonight understood that the Allard amendment was a rhetorical device. Yet it served a purpose that was long over due. Talk is cheap, and hope is free. But government handouts -- on the scale Obama promises -- will break us.

France Has Lost That Loving Feeling For U.S.

France's new Foreign Minister belongs to the Junior High School of diplomacy -- complete with narcissism, the back-biting, and an assumption that popularity is everything.

That's the only explanation for Bernard Kouchner's interview with the International Herald Tribune, via Drudge. Kouchner says that "whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States' battered image and standing overseas, but that "the magic is over." (Emphasis added.)

Kouchner is a left-wing appointee in a right-wing regime; this is a guy who wants to negotiate with Hamas, even though Hamas denies Israel's right to exist. Even given Kouchner's perspective, his comments are perplexing.

First, what magic died? The U.S. and France do not have the same close relationship as the U.S. and Britain, a relationship forged by a shared language, philosophy and common law tradition -- a relationship where there actually is some "magic."

France came to our aid during the American Revolution, and we have returned the favor (over and over). Our relationship of France is dysfunctional: France surrenders; the U.S. rescues France; France resents the U.S. and looks down its nose at our boorishness.

Second question for Kouchner: Assuming "the magic"once existed, when did it die? Seems like it's been dead for some time. I saw no magic when I studied in France as a junior in college. The French loathed Reagan and wanted the U.S. to capitulate to the former U.S.S.R. so France could get cheap gas. I wish I had a franc (or a Euro) for every time a Frenchman reminded me of America's treatment of our Indians. Or America's crime rate. Or how uncouth JFK was to put his feet upon his desk. Or how weird it is that we shower daily.

Final question: Why should America care if the "magic" with France has died? The compulsion to please other people can lead to some very self-destructive behavior. The same holds true for nations. It is not America's job, it is not our President's job, to make the French like us.

Kouchner's hint that France should somehow be given a say in America's selection of our next president offends our sovereignty. But for many like Kouchner, "a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene," sovereignty has no place in the Global Community.

FISA Can't Wait

It's been nearly two months since Congressional Democrats let the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expire. That gave terrorists two months to chat with each other on the phone without fear that anyone -- say the U.S. government -- was listening. Two months to plot God knows what.

Those conversations between terrorists have come and gone. Whatever they said, whatever they have planned, we cannot know. What's worse, while the terrorist's phone calls were secret, our lapse in intelligence was not; the whole world watched the Democrats go on vacation while FISA expired.

The issue that the Democrats seize, in an attempt to justify their failure to renew FISA, is whether those telecommunications companies that helped the U.S. government listen to the terrorists can be sued for their assistance. Democrats like to call that immunity.

There was a time when it was considered patriotic for citizens to assist the government during a a time of war. Americans voluntarily grew victory gardens and rolled bandages, simply to help the war effort. No one would have thought of suing the women and children who rolled the bandages if the military doctor who subsequently used them did so negligently. (Indeed, no one would have sued the doctor).

That was before the trial lawyers learned how much money they could make on contingency by convincing juries to return verdicts with punitive damages that bore no relation to the harm allegedly suffered.

Unlike the civilians who rolled the bandages in World War II, the telecommunications companies really had little choice but to help the government eavesdrop on terrorists. If it's unfair to penalize someone for voluntarily helping the government in the war effort, it is doubly wrong to penalize these companies that were, in essence, commandeered.

Not surprisingly, some individuals who were not terrorists were surveilled by mistake. Their loss of privacy pales in comparison to the loss of life on 9/11 and in the war against Islamofascism. If those people who were mistakenly wiretapped cannot bring a cause of action due to FISA, all they forgo is a little money (their trial lawyers are the ones who would really lose -- thus the lobbying effort against FISA).

When our government is prevented from eavesdropping on terrorists, in contrast, we lose the ability to foil future plots. This is not a hard issue. The Democrats' unspoken fear -- that they will lose big contributions from the trial lawyers -- is misplaced; to whom else can that lobby give? Not to Republicans, who want to cap punitive damages and reform tort law.

Eventually, the Democrats will cave on this issue. They need to stop delaying the inevitable, because every day they posture on FISA -- every day they vacation in recess -- gives al Qaeda a free pass to reach out and touch someone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ferraro Reprises Role That Rhymes With "Rich"

Sen. Hillary Clinton bid farewell a few hours ago to Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential candidate. The Associated Press reports that "Ferraro notified Clinton by letter" earlier today "that she would no longer serve on Clinton's finance committee as "Honorary New York Leadership Council Chair."

Ferraro's fall stemmed from her telling an interviewer: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

According to AP,

Obama has called Ferraro's comments "ridiculous" and his campaign aides have called on Clinton to denounce the statement.

"I think they were wrong-headed," he said at a Chicago news conference. "The notion that it is a great advantage to me to be an African American named Barack Obama and pursue the presidency, I think, is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public."

It was Barbara Bush, of course, who when asked how she would characterize Ferraro's style after her vice-presidential candidate debate against George H.W. Bush, famously remarked: "I can't say it, but it rhymes with rich." Barbara Bush later telephoned Ferraro to apologize for referring to her as a "witch." In hindsight, Barbara, maybe no apology was necessary. Truth can be an absolute defense, you know.

We Like Mike For NY Governor (Not US President)

With N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation earlier today, speculation now turns to which non-Democrat would be best positioned to run for the office in the '10 election. Newsday reports that, by an "overwhelming 73 percent to 22 percent margin", New York City voters want Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Republican turned Independent, to run. Let's hope he does.

If there is not a strong enough Republican to be elected, then Bloomberg would be a good second choice. Bloomberg also needs to get his mind off of running for President this year as an Independent. We don't need him to play a spoiler role a la Ross Perot in '92.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A "Celebration" Kentucky Can Do Without

We haven't heard much from Kentucky Democrats regarding the upcoming bicentennial of perhaps the most infamous member of their party born in our Commonwealth. The News-Enterprise reminds us:

While the bicentennial birthday buzz this year is about Abraham Lincoln, rival and fellow Kentuckian Jefferson Davis also has a 200th birthday coming up.

Plans are under way to recognize his June birthday — which, unlike Abe’s, really is the bicentennial this year.Davis, who as president of the Confederacy opposed Lincoln in the Civil War, was born June 3 in Christian County near Hopkinsville. Abe was born 199 years ago in what was then Hardin County.

Tim Bowman, a local historian and commander of the Gen. Ben Hardin Helm Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, laments: "I really feel it’s a shame that the state of Kentucky isn’t doing more for Davis.”

I'd say Kentucky is doing more than enough to "honor" the traitor. The only money that should be spent on the "celebration" should be for the movers to cart his statue from the state capitol rotunda to the dumpster.

The Blank Slate in Arkansas

Mike Huckabee wasn't playing coy when he said he would not run for U.S. Senate against one term incumbent, Mark Pryor. The filing deadline has come and gone and Huckabee will not be on the ballot. In fact, no Republican will be on the ballot.

Neither the Arkansas Republican Party nor the National Republican Senatorial Committee could find a single warm body to oppose Pryor. Even if said warm body had done no campaigning whatsoever, he or she would have won votes, lots of votes, in a state that is socially conservative and that George W. Bush carried twice.

At the one extreme, if the Kentucky Demo-blogs are to believed, we see Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Chuck Schumer throwing around his weight and micro-managing the choice of which Democrat will oppose Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Schumer, according to the Demo-blogs, showed little respect for the opinion of local Kentucky Democrats.

But in Arkansas we see the other extreme: a complete abdication of the most basic duty of the state and national party: to recruit candidates.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Elephants Gone Wild

A shocking report just received from overseas:

Security forces armed with loud hailers were deployed in eastern Sri Lanka Monday to drive away wild elephants blocking access to polling booths, police said.

Villagers in Wellaveli told the authorities that they were unable to vote at the first local elections in 14 years because a herd of elephants had blocked their polling booth, a police official in the area said.

"We sent a team of commandos in armoured personnel carriers and loud hailers and sirens to drive away the elephants," the official said. "The roads have now been cleared."

Surely those weren't elephants disrupting the democratic process. They must have been RINOs.

Update: The Washington Post confirms that the Sri Lankan elephants' obstruction of voting is "not a massive right-wing conspiracy."

Couch's Internet Bill Gets National Attention

Tim Couch's bill to fine anonymous internet comments has thrown Kentucky into the national spotlight, on a blog called Hotair. I haven't been so embarassed since Governor Fletcher nearly crashed his plane into the U.S. Capitol.

Hotair's article on Couch's bill reiterates the points we made earlier about the bill's blatant unconstitutionality.

More interesting are the comments (147 at last count). One person said the bill hearkened back to the Janet Reno Justice Department, and explained how normal libertarians became Ron Paul supporters. A number of comments noted that Couch is a Republican; this made some gleeful and others ashamed.

The majority of those who commented said that they would no longer post on blogs if required to give their name. Some said they feared retribution at work. Judging by the pen names -- which ranged from the sophomoric to the hilarious -- I'd bet that most simply enjoy using their noms de guerres.

Spitzer's Subliminal Advertising

The night before Valentine's Day, many husbands are busy shopping for chocolates or making dinner reservations for a romantic evening. New York Governor Elliot Spitzer enjoyed his rendezvous a night early, but not with his wife.

Spitzer, a Democrat, apparently visited a prostitute at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap of a prostitution ring known as the Empeorors [sic] Club VIP, where the most expensive women sold their bodies for $5,500 an hour.

Before becoming governor, Spitzer was Attorney General of New York. He made his reputation as a real law and order guy -- and even investigated a few prostitution rings.

Spitzer exploited his reformer-image in his commercials when he ran for governor. But that's not all he exploited. At least one of his commercials was, what -- Freudian? Prophetic? Pathetic?

One ad starts out stating that once and a while, someone comes along who "takes on Goliath, slays the proverbial lion." Turns out that Spitzer has more in common with David than slaying Goliath; David had a famous run-in with a prostitute named Bathsheba.

Then there's the reference to slaying the dragon, an allusion to St. George. We now know that Spitzer is no saint. But according to the New York Times, some prostitutes thought his name was George.

Spitzer's ads saved the best for last. His tag line: "Bring Some Passion Back to Albany."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Surely We Can Agree On These Things

You know bipartisanship has broken down in Frankfort when Democrats won't even agree with Republicans that the Corvette is Kentucky's favorite sports car, given that it is the only sports car manufactured in Commonwealth. As the Associated Press reports:

[W]hen state Rep. C.B. Embry Jr. introduced legislation two months ago to make the Kentucky-made Corvette the official state sports car, he expected it to speed through the General Assembly.

Instead, Embry's proposal has been stalled in a committee, badly in need of a jump-start. Embry, a Republican in the Democratic-controlled House, said the measure is languishing with a number of other bills being ignored by legislative leaders who say they're working on more pressing issues.

And it is not just the Corvette that has been slighted by Democratic obstructionism. According to AP, "[t]he Corvette legislation is among a group of 'feel-good bills' that state Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, chairman of the House Committee on State Government, says he doesn't plan to try to advance." These include proposals to "make cornhole the official state game, burgoo the official state dish, and Kentucky Fried Chicken the state's official picnic food."

Come on Democrats, can't we agree at least on Corvettes, cornhole, burgoo and KFC? Humor us Republicans. Surely something should be enacted to show for this legislative session other than the all-time Democratic favorite of raising our taxes.

Huckabee Says He Won't Run For Senate

Mike Huckabee still says that he won't run for U.S. Senate against Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). The deadline to file is tomorrow, March 10.

Huckabee has been mentioned as a possible VP nominee. He told The Hill, however, that he has "no indication" that the vice presidential slot is a possibility. “That’s Senator McCain’s decision.”

In the meantime, Huckabee plans to make some money by hitting the speaking circuit.

Official Preppy Postmortem For Buckley

Neglected in last week's homages to William F. Buckley, Jr. was mention of his entry in perhaps the most influential cultural reference book of the 1980s: The Official Preppy Handbook. Edited by Lisa Birnbach, TOPH was subtitled "Look, Muffy, a book for us." Unfortunately, we can provide no internet link because this classic was published 28 years ago and has fallen out of print. No revised edition has been published.

But that is no problem, for as TOPH advised: "Preppies wear clothes for twenty-five years and no one can tell the difference."

For those who grew up in that awful era of polyester and "Jimmy Carter battling the energy crisis in his cardigan sweater", The Official Preppy Handback came along just in the nick of time. TOPH was a how-to manual to revive classic American style in the year of Ronald Reagan's election to the presidency. Granted, the book's message was tongue in cheek, but it was mesmerizing, like Buckley's lockjaw accent, his studied deshabille and his way with a boat.

Which brings us to "The Prep Pantheon," on pages 196-97, which contained "An All-Time Great Alumni Association" of preppies. There were only 31 people on the list, which began with John Adams (the only Founding Father to make the cut), and included such luminaries as George Herbert Walker Bush (whose principal credential was that Reagan had called him "a Preppy, a Yalie, a sissy"), Katharine Hepburn ("Possess flawless Prep accent and full woodsy wardrobe"), Caroline Kennedy ("Her lacrosse game was ruthless, her brunch technique dazzling") and Cole Porter (for writing the Yale fight song).

Buckley's entry on this august list was thus: "St. Thomas More and St. John's, Beaumont (England), and Millbrook, Yale '50. Author, critic, publisher, television personality. Earned an immediate place in Prep Pantheon for his first book, God and Man at Yale. Would have made it anyway for his patrician demeanor, number 2 pencil, and amazing curling tongue."

Kentucky's only, somewhat tenuous, connection to the Prep Pantheon, as best as we can tell, is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent a year or so at Camp Zachary Taylor during World War I and whose Jay Gatsby character was inspired by a gangster he met at the Seelbach Bar in Louisville.

Buckley has now joined Fitzgerald in another Pantheon, but the legacy of their kind will never die. Indeed, TOPH included Indian Hills on its list of preppy suburbs and Louisville on its roster of 22 cities "where the preps are", and one suspects that would still be the case today. Now those are national rankings that probably won't be heard from the mayor's office.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Enemy of the Good

CATS or ACTs? That is a perplexing question for study in Frankfort, and it involves more than simply rearranging the letters.

Yesterday the Senate approved "a controversial bill" (as the Courier-Journal calls it) to replace CATS -- the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, used for student testing only in Kentucky -- with national testing developed by ACT Inc. Many Democrats are against the bill, but we can think of no good reason why they should be.

It should not be controversial that national testing is the best way to assess the performance of Kentucky students in relation to their counterparts in other states. It allows for the proverbial apples-to-apples comparison.

Moreover, anyone who has suffered through the Word versus Word Perfect debate knows the rebuttal to the argument made by proponents of CATS, who claim it is a better testing method than ACT. We all know that Word Perfect is better than Word, but because Microsoft did a better job of marketing to (or monopolizing, some one say) the market, most businesses today use Word instead of Word Perfect. It allows for compatibility, which is a form of goodness, a greater virtue than perfection.

So the answer to the question posed above is this: It doesn't matter whether CATS is better than ACT, or vice versa. ACT is the national standard, so for better or worse, it is a better way than CATS to learn whether Kentucky measures up to other states.

Global Warming Goes On Spring Break

Let's see, today is March 8, which means many good things. For instance, this evening (actually at 2 a.m. on Sunday) our clocks spring forward for daylight savings time, which hopefully translates into more play after work. And St. Patrick's Day is less than ten days away, or only six days if you are planning to celebrate early because of Holy Week. And, of course, Louisville will defeat Georgetown this afternoon to win the Big East Championship, a fitting beginning for March Madness.

All of these events would lead one arising from bed this morning to expect a bright, perhaps a little nippy, but definitely sunny and spring-like day. But no. The inconvenient truth as reported by the Courier-Journal is that:

The National Weather Service in Louisville says there is more snow coming. Today expect an additional 2 to 3 inches added to the approximately 8 to 10 inches already on the ground.

Oh well. Snow can be fun too. Enjoy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

SUSA Poll Shows Kentucky Still Red

A new SurveyUSA poll shows that regardless of which Democrat gets the presidential nomination, Kentucky prefers McCain.

The poll, linked by RedState, finds that at this point, Barack Obama would beat John McCain, by 280 to 258 electoral votes. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she would beat McCain by 276 to 262 electoral votes.

Kentucky, however, falls in McCain's column. In a match-up against Obama, McCain would win 54 to 33 percent of the vote. McCain likewise would beat Clinton by 50 to 41 percent of the Kentucky vote.

With months to go, those numbers undoubtedly will change. But for now, the presidential race -- against either Obama or Clinton --looks close in the electoral college. It is far from over for McCain.

In Kentucky, it's not so close; McCain enjoys a comfortable lead against both Obama and Clinton. That's significant not so much for Kentucky's eight electoral votes but rather for what McCain's coat tails can do to help GOP congressional candidates like Anne Northup.

Those Kentucky Super-delegates confront a dilemma. Obama is the weaker Democratic candidate in this commonwealth although the stronger candidate nationally. A Super-delegate like John Yarmuth -- who faces his own close election -- really has a conflict of interest on whom to support. If he wants to keep his job, Clinton is more likely to give him a coat-tail assist. Obama, on the other hand, has a better chance of winning the White House. Yarmuth already has endorsed Obama, but those Super-delegates have been known to switch donkeys.

David Hawpe, Queen-maker

The 2008 class of Leadership Louisville met with the Courier-Journal's editorial board yesterday and learned that all the editors present support Barack Obama -- except David Hawpe. (Jill Johnson Keeney was out of town.) Hawpe backs Hillary.

But Hawpe has veto power. So if the C-J endorses Hillary, we will know that Hawpe has exercised his prerogative as a Super-editor. And as late as the Democratic primary threatens to drag out, perhaps Hawpe's opinion actually will matter for once.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Can't Believe He's One of Ours

It's not often that I agree with the Herald-Leader's John Cheves and Page One, but both lead me to conclude that a bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden to ban anonymous web comments is one of the dumbest attempts of a pathetic legislative session.

The bill, according to Cheves,

would require anyone who contributes to a Web site to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that Web site. Their full name then would be used whenever they posted a comment.

Web site operators who violated the disclosure law would be fined $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

Couch admits that his bill might conflict with the first amendment's right to free speech. Consequently, he says that he won't "push it."

And he admits that it is unworkable and unenforceable. "The state can try to pass some rules, but I don't really think it would do anything."

The jurisdictional issues would be a full employment act for lawyers: the extra-territorial reach of a Kentucky statute. Just yesterday, this blog was read by people in Australia, France, Greece and the United Arab Emirates. Good luck trying to serve those readers with a summons, if they comment anonymously.

I prefer that people use their real names when commenting on blogs; it elevates a comment's credibility above the level of, say, graffiti. But that's a question of personal preference for the person making the comment or moderating the blog. Until Tim Couch and his colleagues in Frankfort can figure out how to run state government, they'd best not take on anything else, like running the Internet.

If speech on the Internet is actually dangerous, then Homeland Security can track down the author (unless Nancy Pelosi has her way). Couch's interview with Cheves, however, suggests that he is concerned about petty nastiness rather than terroristic threats. But short of enlisting the aid of Homeland Security (who has bigger fish to fry) how would Couch even find the commentators, given that they're anonymous?

Couch does not explain why he bothered to file a bill that he won't "push" because it's probably unconstitutional. What a waste of time and money, especially given the many genuine issues that Frankfort needs to address.

Not an Update but nonetheless: Even the Founding Fathers would be found liable under Couch's bill. The Federalist Papers, after all, were written anonymously, under the pen name "Publius." If Couch tried to limit the bill's application to just Internet speech rather than printed books, he'd simply compound its constitutional infirmities.
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Casinos are the Answer?

March 4th, Wave-TV’s Steve Lankford’s Hot Button call out to House Speaker Jodi Richards to get it together and get casinos on the ballet compelled me to write.

Let's see how this is going to help Kentucky. First some facts. THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS. So from all the funds generated by the casinos, the house (in this case the Sands Corporation) is going to take away the biggest portion of money. As any statistician will tell you, the odds are you are not going to win, and the casino stays ahead making money. THEY EVEN GET TO SET THE ODDS.

Now there are winners who take away money from the casino. Everyone I talk to tells me how much fun they had winning all the money. My friends are fortunate because they are the ones that win all the money. Of all my friends that enjoy games of chance, none of them ever mentions to me “how much fun they had losing their money to the casinos”. Again because they are the winners. I am a fortunate person indeed to have so many friends that can take advantage of the house odds. Does anyone have any friends that lose?

OK, I am told the winners will additionally spend their winnings in Kentucky but at the same time, I am told that our casinos will draw out of state visitors, so I will assume that out of state gamblers will be winning equally as well as our Kentuckians (Or are Kentuckians just better gamblers because of our rich history of gaming?) and I suppose that they will take their winnings back to the benefit of their state.

Lets look at Caesars as an example how casinos might operate in our state.
http://www.harrahs.com/casinos/caesars-indiana/hotel-casino/property-home.shtml?source=bkv4100017862
Caesar’s has a beautiful hotel for their guests. I assume they get to keep the profits of operating the hotel since they additionally have to “comp” the winners with luxury suites to keep them there an additional day so that the winners can break the house again or lose all of their reported winnings back to the house. I wonder how Kentucky hotels operators feel about more hotel competition coming into the state. I can only assume that the money generated on the casino hotels will also go to the Sands Corporation.

Well let’s assume that there is a big winner who is going to spend their money in our state. Well, not so fast, they still have to get out of the casino area first. Have you ever noticed the wonderful expensive restaurants that are in the casinos? Caesar's has two or three bars. Come to think of it I haven’t observed any Indiana restaurants or bars operating of out Caesar's. I wonder how restaurateurs and bar keepers of our commonwealth feel about this competition of their industry. Will local businesses be invited to occupy the casinos? I bet not.

Another curiosity is the number of luxury stores that are in casinos. As I walk through Caesar's I notice there are jeweler stores that sell very expensive jewelry to the big winners. You don’t even have to leave the casino to spend your money. Which also means it doesn’t make it to our state's businesses. They also sell inexpensive jewelry, I guess for the small winners. They even have a store where nothing is over 10 dollars. Since I don’t see any local Indiana jewelers operation in Caesars. I presume Caesars owns these jewelry stores and this is just an additional way to get their money back? So one can understand that casinos are well engineered and crafted to get all the winnings back from the gamer.

A long, long time ago, horse racing came to Kentucky and established a great tradition. Churchill Downs pays a tax that goes to the treasures of Kentucky, and because of the long tradition, they have been paying into the coffers for a long time. In 1988 Kentucky decided we still did not have enough money and brought the lottery to Kentucky. Since 1988 the lottery has expanded into several additional games, adding pull tabs and increasing the number of lotteries to two a week. Once again I will assume because we still did not have enough money.
http://www.kylottery.com/apps/player/about_us/history.html?id=about_us

(To better understand the lottery the reader can read my earlier blog on the KY Lottery. Saturday January 12th. Snake Oil Salesmen.)

Now once again there is not enough money in Kentucky and they want to institute casinos. I wonder if we might ask the legislators to just be fiscally responsible. An alternative is to live within our means. Is there a lesson here? I hope so. If we don’t quit living beyond the state's means, I don’t know where our commonwealth can go next to raise money? Well maybe prostitution or drugs could be the next options?

Will Huckabee Run for Senate?

Mike Huckabee withdrew from the race last night with great dignity and in a nick of time -- to run for U.S. Senator from Arkansas. As we wrote last month, the deadline is March 10th.

Incumbent Senator Mark Pryor would not be an easy opponent, but Huckabee now has a nationwide base of supporters from which to raise funds. A little time in the Senate, moreover, would give Huckabee the background in foreign affairs that he so woefully lacked, and therefore would position him to run for president in 2012.

One last compliment to the Huckabee campaign (I know I haven't given many). Janet Huckabee comported herself as a lady throughout the race. She stayed in the background and never embarrassed her husband. And though this couple had quite a romantic courtship -- high school sweethearts -- they kept it private, perhaps the best indicia of its genuineness.

In an age where candidates make out with their spouses on the convention stage or trot out their spouses as co-presidents and honorary members of the Cabinet, Janet Huckabee showed a refreshing restraint and humility. We wish the Huckabees all the best and hope he does run for Senate. Republicans could use the seat.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

McConnell: 7th Most Powerful Senator

The Courier-Journal is reporting that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has been ranked the 7th most powerful member of the Senate.

Regardless of one's party affiliation, this is very, very good news for Kentucky. And it should only solidify McConnell's already imposing lead in his bid for reelection; Kentuckians would be crazy to forgo the amount of seniority with which McConnell represents our commonwealth.

Note the breakdown of different aspects of Senate power:

McConnell is ranked third most powerful in the Senate based on his position, 17th most powerful based on influence, 31st most powerful based on legislation, and 61st based on earmarks.

This last number -- McConnnell ranks 61st in earmarks -- must be a great relief for David Hawpe. Unable to find anything else to criticize McConnell about, Hawpe has become a born-again fiscal conservative who dislikes earmarks (at least when McConnell procures them).

Note that McConnell was ranked as more powerful than John McCain or Hillary Clinton.

Kentucky's members of the House of Representatives did not do so well; the highest ranked was Ben Chandler, D-6th District, at No. 134. The only way to improve those numbers is to send Anne Northup back to Congress -- to replace John Yarmuth, who ranked a lowly 384.

Fuzzy Filibuster Math

Democratic charges that Republicans "obstruct" progress on legislation use the sort of math that wouldn't pass muster under No Child Left Behind.

For example, the Democrats count 37 votes on cloture -- the procedure to end debate -- as a filibuster when it is just the opposite. And according to the Senatorial Committee, they count unanimous cloture votes as Republican filibusters, even though such votes are bipartisan. So much for the spirit of unity.

Even more bizarre, Democrats count Democratic filibusters as Republican filibusters. Who knew that Alice in Wonderland was the new Democratic whip?

If Democrats are so troubled about cloture motions, then they should really speak to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid; his party has filed for cloture 80 times. That's a record. Congratulations, Harry, by your own definition, your Democratic majority is the most "obstructionist" majority in history.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Federalist Society & Religious Liberty

The Federalist Society is holding a seminar Friday, March 14 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. It's called "The Things That Are Not Caesar's: Religious Organizations as a Check on the Authoritarian Pretensions of the State." Rsvp here.

Thankfully, the excellent panel does not include the Archbishop of Canterbury. This seminar would be particularly helpful to those readers interested in intra-church disputes and the ensuing litigation over church property.

National Dems Tell Fischer to Play Nice

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's spokesman, Matt Miller, warned Greg Fischer to stop attacking other Democratic candidates, such as Bruce Lunsford.

Fischer's campaign confirmed remarks that Fischer made Saturday at the Kentucky Democratic State Central Executive Committee in Frankfort, as reported on Kypolitics.org.

Fischer took a shot at Senator Chuck Schumer and the DSCC for interfering in the Kentucky primary for U.S. Senate --interference on behalf of Lunsford, that is. Suffice to say that in the unlikely event that Fischer is elected, he will not be known as one of the Senate's best orators:

"Because there’s powers in Washington D.C. - you know, led by Chuck Schumer, and you all are hearing this just as well as I am – that he’s trying to manipulate this election in Kentucky.”

Then Fischer attacked Lunsford, stating at least three times that the Democrats should nominate someone with a "clean record."

“It’s clear to anyone who follows politics in the state Kentucky that the Senator from New York and his folks are trying to force upon the voters of Kentucky a failed candidate who has more baggage than Samsonite. We need a fresh candidate with a clean record who offers bold ideas and new solutions.”

"More baggage than Samsonite" -- this is Fischer, the bored rich guy who wants to be Senator, attempting to sound like a man of the people by pretending that he uses Samsonite instead of Louis Vuitton or whatever.

His point that Lunsford has a dirty record, however, is correct. Indeed it's starting to look like Lunsford engaged in some legal gymnastics to buy his two million dollar Phoenix mansion by using his Chicago address -- and now substituting his Kentucky address. The poor rich guy has so many properties he doesn't know where he lives.

Since he has the property in Illinois and Arizona, Lunsford might as well try to run for either John McCain's or Barack Obama's Senate seat. Then maybe he could dupe voters who have not heard the name Vencor. If elected, Lunsford could contribute a unique perspective on the housing market, given all that he has done to stimulate it.

Update: Lunsford's loan documents contain a rider that allows him to use the Phoenix mansion as a second home.

Hillobama Become Virtual Paper Dolls

Yes, the youth have become fixated on this presidential election in new and bizarre ways. Take my kids. Like many parents, I peek over their shoulders to see what Internet sites they're visiting -- only to find out they were playing games called "Dress Up Hillary" and "Dress Up Barack."

These computer games -- like old-fashioned paper dolls -- start out with Hillary or Barack in their undies. (Barack wears tightie whities; Hillary wears Grandma underwear.) The gamer then dresses the candidate from head to toe.

Hillary's options hearken back to her Gloria Steinem stage, and also include a poodle skirt, and an I Heart NY shirt. There is an ugly yellow blouse, but no black pant suit to complete the bumble bee look. As the game creators describe the choices,

Will Hillary have bare feet, or bear feet? You decide what she wears for her next big speech. Are you going to make her a voice to be reckoned with, or a complete idiot?

Barack's game includes the prediction, "Today he's a game, tomorrow he's a trivia question." Men's clothing doesn't lend itself to caricature to the same extent as women's, so in Barack's game, the emphasis is on hair and accessories: cornrows; an Afro; dreadlocks; some bling and a Black Panther hat. His white tribal outfit and turban are not among the options.

Like the candidates themselves, the games come with approval ratings. The 2.7 million people who have played Dress Up Hillary give her a 27 percent approval rating; a whopping 73 percent of players disapprove. The 1.4 million people who have played Dress Up Barack give him a 57 percent approval rating. It's unclear to whether the gamer is rating the game or the candidate.

The gamers can post comments, and some of them are harsh with respect to Hillary. The most recent comment said, "ok this was funny because Hilary looked fat and I don't like her!!!!!!" The chubbiness of the Hillary doll is a recurring theme in the comments.

Barack's comments generally digressed from the candidate; most of the players complained about a seemingly unrelated chain mail about a girl name Sarah, whose ghost comes up your bathroom drain if you don't forward the email.

In a year when the professionals look foolish every time they make a prediction, the youth who play the Dress Up games seem to have identified new ventures for the Democratic candidates, if they don't make it to the White House. Hillary can become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and Barack can star in a remake of Ghost Busters.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lunsford Rated As Only A "Tier II" Challenger To McConnell

Bruinkid of Swing State Project has announced new Senate race rankings, and by the looks of it, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't have much to worry about, at least not yet.

With Bruce Lunsford listed as McConnell's likely opponent, the match-up is listed in "Tier II", which consists of "races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point." "Tier I", in contrast, "are the races where there is a serious challenger to the incumbent (or at least the incumbent's party, in cases of retirement), where the party holding the seat has a real shot of switching."

Bruinkid notes that "the Democratic establishment seems to have coalesced around wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford, who's lost several primaries before, and ticked off a lot of Democrats by endorsing Fletcher over Ben Chandler (D) for Governor back in 2003 after losing the primary to Chandler." Bruinkid adds that "[t]he blogs" -- that, is the Demo-blogs -- "are, ah, less than pleased."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

C-J Speaks Ill Of The Dead, Who Had Better Manners

Today's Courier-Journal gives us a display of what can be charitably described as the editor's ill-bred manners. The C-J shows a picture of William F. Buckley, Jr. wearing a black mask "in 1966 at Truman Capote's famous black and white ball," accompanied by a letter to the editor calling Mr. Buckley a "monster" with "the legacy of pretentious snobbery, bigotry, homophobia and nastiness." Another letter writer asserts that Mr. Buckley

did nothing but expound hedonistic self- gratification, with a political agenda for maintaining the status quo at the expense of less fortunate fellow human beings.

He did this with clever tongue-in-cheek hypocrisy, which was sickening to all idealistic folk who care about fairness and justice.

There is such a sharp contrast in style between the C-J and Mr. Buckley, and clearly the latter comes out looking better. A piece by Eric Konigsberg of the New York Times provides insight:

Mr. Buckley’s manners were classy, if not perfect. He insisted on addressing his guests as “Mr.” Or “Mrs.,” though he once accidentally called Mrs. Thatcher “Margaret” because he thought she’d called him “Bill.” (When, upon reading a transcript of the episode, he realized she had been referring to a bill of legislation, he was extremely embarrassed, said Richard Brookhiser, a conservative writer and a frequent guest on the program.)

Mr. [Michael] Kinsley said, “He was extremely charming and kind; he never took his ideological battles into the personal realm.”