Tuesday, April 29, 2008

C-J Fails to Print Letter from University Presidents

The presidents of three of Kentucky's largest universities wrote a letter to the Courier-Journal to rebut David Hawpe's nonsensical assertion that Mitch McConnell caused Kentucky colleges to raise tuition. It's an important rejoinder from three people who address Hawpe's subject with knowledge and authority. Yet the C-J failed to print the letter in hard-copy; it only ran in the on-line edition.

The letter comes from James Ramsey, president of University of Louisville, Gary A. Ransdell, president of Western Kentucky University, and James C. Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University. When three of the highest-ranking educators in the Commonwealth speak with one voice on an issue,most would call whatever they have to say newsworthy. But not the C-J.

This is the consequence of a the C-J's monopoly status: when it decides to go after a candidate, it fails to give its subscribers the opposing view. The paper tries to inoculate itself from a charge of bias by printing the university presidents' letter in the online edition, where only a small fraction of its subscribers will read it.

This blog previously addressed the merits of Hawpe's arguments that McConnell, a U.S. Senator, could cause tuition to raise at Kentucky colleges. McConnell likewise has responded to Hawpe's accusations.

Because the C-J will not keep the online edition available for the entire election season -- and because it failed to print the letter in its hard copy -- I will reprint it in its entirety:

Sen. Mitch McConnell has used his seniority and considerable influence in the United States Senate to move Kentucky's universities forward in extraordinary ways that allow us to serve Kentuckians and improve the quality of life for our commonwealth's citizens.
In David Hawpe's recent column "Give Mitch McConnell Credit Where Credit is Due," he cites a number of examples of federal funds earmarked for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Northern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University. We would argue that federal dollars are going to be spent, and we much prefer to have them spent at Kentucky's universities where we know best how to solve real-life problems that plague Kentuckians than at universities that will never touch the lives of Kentuckians.


At the University of Louisville, the Cardiac Innovation Institute – a groundbreaking research center designed to bring together the best minds in the field to improve the quality of life for heart failure patients -- was made possible because of the work of Sen. McConnell. He also helped secure federal dollars to expand Uof L's library that has earned it the distinction of being one of the Top 100 Research Libraries in America for our students, faculty, and the Louisville community. In Owensboro, federal dollars obtained by Sen. McConnell were used to start a Uof L partnership with the Owensboro Cancer Research Project to use tobacco plants to create cancer drugs.

Sen. McConnell has secured nearly $60 million for WKU over the last 10 years. WKU's Rural Mobile Health Unit, purchased and equipped with federal funds obtained by Sen. McConnell, takes students and faculty into surrounding communities to provide needed dental and health care services to school children while at the same time giving WKU students valuable real-life work experience. Federal funds have also been used at WKU for energy research, environmental initiatives, intervention programs for at-risk youth, and much, much more.
At Northern Kentucky University, Sen. McConnell has directed important funding for Kentucky math and science improvement, informatics and economic development initiatives – all a part of the university's talent development business plan designed to escalate Northern Kentucky's contribution to Kentucky's economic progress.


To lose the critical federal funding that Sen. McConnell directs to Kentucky's universities would be devastating. Those federal funds not only benefit our universities, but they directly impact Kentuckians who badly need the services and programs these funds support.
So together we thank Sen. McConnell for what he has done to help us advance higher education in Kentucky. He certainly does deserve proper credit, and we'll continue to thank him when an opportunity is presented.


James Ramsey is president of University of Louisville, Gary A. Ransdell is president of Western Kentucky University, and James C. Votruba is president of Northern Kentucky University.

Hawpe and his cronies at the C-J are entitled to their (mistaken) views. But by failing actually to print the university presidents' letter, they have crossed the line from partisan to deceitful. They manage to print letters from numerous cranks every day; surely a direct response from some of the Commonwealth's most esteemed educators warrants the same courtesy.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

WSJ on Kentucky Bourbon & Steaks

Kentucky made the Wall Street Journal twice today. The first article gives campaign advice, should Hillary and Barry decide to knock back a little Bourbon the next time they come begging for Kentucky votes. Eric Felten, who writes a regular column on cocktails, praises Buffalo Trace (good call) and Evan Williams Black Label.

It's not a bad column for a non-Kentuckian. But Mr. Felten seems confused about the origin of Bourbon, and attributes the start of the product in Kentucky to Evan Williams. He may have been one of the first, but he was not the first.

A Baptist preacher named Elijah Craig actually brought both the Baptist faith and Bourbon to Kentucky, in one of the most unlikely partnerships ever. His legacy lives on not only in the Elijah Craig Bourbon, still available, but in the historical marker located across the street from Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse. That brings me to WSJ- Kentucky connection number two.

The WSJ's second article is on "power tables where the business elite are eating" and features Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse. The print edition neglects to mention that exciting Derby-night moment when Jeff Ruby asked O.J. Simpson to leave, as the restaurant patrons applauded. The online version corrects that omission. My faith in the Journal is restored.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

McConnell Paducah Ad is No Exaggeration

Mark Hebert's blog highlights opposition to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign ad regarding the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant. McConnell notes that he secured legislation that saves lives and compensates workers exposed to plutonium. Hebert's source implies, in essence, that McConnell was part of a governmental conspiracy to delude the workers, and did nothing to help them until the scandal went public.

There are two problems with Hebert treating McConnell's critic as credible. First, the critic has a well-documented political agenda: he wants McConnell to lose. Second, the critic, a former worker at the plant, is wrong on the merits.

Hebert relies on Mark Donham as the source of "another side of the story" of the Paducah plant featured in McConnell's ad. Hebert describes Donham as "a former plant worker who quit serving on a committee that was looking at problems in the plant." But Donham is much more than that; he is actively working to defeat McConnell's reelection bid.

To that end, Donham runs a web site, where he has made comments like,

It's time for a Democrat to get the hounds out and track down McConnell's record. Fans of Kentucky politics know exactly what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the Dems have any good dog handlers. We'll see. But I'm not sure that political newcomers, even well financed, can mount a successful challenge to the well entrenched McConnell.

Donham is entitled to his opinion, and to advocate for or against whatever candidate he chooses. To pretend the man is just another former worker, however -- without disclosing his political bias -- places his critique of McConnell in a false light.

On the merits, Donham essentially argues that McConnell knew that the Paducah workers had been improperly exposed to plutonium and yet did nothing. Donham writes:

During the decade between 1988 and 1998, McConnell did little or nothing to speak out for local residents and workers. In fact, DOE continually lied to local citizens about the presence of plutonium at the facility.

What Donham forgets is that the citizens of Paducah were not the only ones kept in the dark about the plutonium. Until the Washington Post broke the story in 1999, Kentucky's Congressional delegation did not know about the plutonium exposure.

Contemporaneous press accounts make this clear. Take the Paducah Sun's front page story from August 10, 1999, in which not just McConnell but Congressman Ed Whitfield and former U.S. Senator Wendall Ford "expressed shock and concern over the reports, confirmed Monday by the Department of Energy" that the Paducah workers had been exposed to plutonium.

DOE, under the Clinton administration, did not confirm the reports until 1999. The Sun -- the hometown paper on this issue -- notes that the Washington Post story was the "first allegation of plutonium use at the plant" and that "Employees, the public and members of Congress" had been told otherwise.

DOE and its contractors, Martin Marrietta and Lockheed Martin, had withheld information not just from the Paducah workers but from Congress. The plutonium use became public knowledge when former workers sued the contractors under the False Claims Act for lying to the government. Thereafter, Washington Post obtained and disclosed documents that had been sealed in the litigation.

Consequently, the plutonium exposure was news to the Kentucky delegation. Even Wendell Ford, who sat on the Senate Energy Committee for 18 years, was never told of the plutonium. As Ford told the Sun,

If they had ever mentioned plutonium and Paducah in the same breath, my antenna would have gone up. If plutonium was used at the plant, I should have known about it and if I had known about it, I would have attempted to correct it, and let the employees know."

Donham, in his screed against McConnell, never mentions Ford, even given the former Senator's role on the Energy Committee. But then again, Ford is not a Republican running for reelection.

After the Kentucky delegation learned of the plutonium exposure, McConnell immediately called for Congressional hearings to investigate. From this point on, McConnell authored numerous bills to help the Paducah workers. This is a record of achievement of which he is justifiably proud. It makes for a powerful ad to remind those of us who don't live in Paducah and didn't follow the issue just what he accomplished.

Even Leon Owens, the president of the local AFL-CIO chapter for chemical and energy workers, called McConnell's efforts to "address the economic, health and environmental concerns of the workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant" and its community "steadfast and consistent."

Leon wrote McConnell in July of 2002 to thank McConnell for assisting the workers in myriad ways, including construction of two plants to convert radioactive waste, as well as mobile medical screening equipment to detect lung cancer when it is most treatable. As Leon put it, McConnell's "efforts in the United States Senate are helping save the lives of Paducah plant workers who were put in harm's way."

That is, six years ago a union leader made the same point that McConnell makes in his TV ad.

At a time when DOE's cleanup budget remained flat, cleanup funding for Paducah tripled, as a direct result of McConnell's ability to procure earmarks.

McConnell also co-sponsored worker's compensation legislation tailored to atomic weapons workers. The law allows such workers who contract certain cancers to automatically get a lump sum payment -- without having to prove that their job caused their cancer. As Owens noted, that legislation would have died in conference committee without McConnell's "very aggressive" leadership on the issue.

Donham's invective against McConnell does not change the accuracy of the campaign ad. The more interesting question is, who will play McConnell in the movie?

Fear and Loathing on the Demo-blogs

Can somebody please move the primary to October? I don't want the fun to end. Take the ongoing debate on the Demo-blogs about who would be the Biggest Loser as the Democratic nominee to face Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Jake from Page One describes the purpose of the Democratic nominee:

I have always said Mitch can't be beaten in November. But Bruce can make him spend his mountain of cash in Kentucky instead of in five other states electing five other right-wing shills. (Emphasis added.)

Ben Carter from Bluegrass Roots, in contrast, is so captivated by Greg Fischer he doesn't seem to care that Fischer's approval rating has not even broken into double digits.

We agree that Bruce’s chances are zero, but simply disagree about Greg’s chances. I think he has a chance, you don’t. . . . I think it also explains the ultimate source of our disagreement: while you are in search of a candidate who can lose least bad, I am looking for the candidate with the best chance of winning. I believe that candidate is Greg Fischer. (Emphasis added.)

The Rural Democrat reported the cat fight and concluded:

I will throw a little shock grenade in on this fight and say BOTH blogs are disconnected from Kentucky politics.

Not quite. Both agree that if Lunsford is the nominee -- which he will be -- McConnell wins.

Pictures Deconstruct Thousands Of Words

In his letter to the editor, printed in today's Courier-Journal, Steve Seger points out what many of us noticed on yesterday's C-J Forum pages: photo editorializing run amok. But whereas my reaction was simply to roll my eyes and think, "nothing's going to change at the C-J, so why write about it?", Seger mustered the energy to respond, so good for him. Kudos also to the C-J for allowing the letter to see the light of day. Here it is:

Despite repeated complaints from readers, your editorial page staff continues to print majestic leadership-inspired photos of Democrats and buffoonish pictures of Republicans. The latest example was Wednesday with Barack Obama, jaw firmly set, sterm [sic -- The C-J still needs to hire a proofreader] eyes agaze, peering into the future no doubt.

Beneath that was a shot of John McCain, probably a still taken from a video, looking like he was about to burp up his lunch. Surely you don't think this kind of thing is going to make a conservative reader suddenly switch sentiments? More likely the inmates are running the asylum down at the good old C-J. What a shame.

Segar's letter neglected to mention the most unflattering and unfair photo juxtaposition of all in yesterday's paper: a picture of President Bush doing the boogie with a New Orleans jazz band above a picture of rubble from Hurricane Katrina. The sophomoric caption that the C-J gave to that montage was "Disaster Relief? Heckuva job, Georgie."

Given the C-J's editorial staff's photo antics yesterday, perhaps their depiction of the three Stooges in today's edition is meant to be a self-portrait.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peanut Diplomacy

Former President Jimmy Carter issued a "liar, liar, pants on fire" statement today, in an apparent effort to salvage what's left of his shattered reputation as a diplomat. According to the Associated Press, Carter "accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip."

Regardless of what the State Department did or didn't say to the former President before his trip, one would think that Carter's own common sense would have told him that a meeting with Hamas terrorists dedicated to the destruction of Israel would not be a very smart move. It really shouldn't have been a surprise for Carter to learn that, after his visit, Hamas would disavow any intention suggested by Carter that the group make peace with Israel. Just as it shouldn't have come to any surprise to Carter when his coddling of the U.S.S.R. ended in the Soviets' invasion of Afghanistan.

As one commentator put it: "He came, he saw, he Cartered."

Fischer Responds (Heaven Help the Man)

This is what is known as the pot calling the kettle black. Greg Fischer -- who failed to file his financial disclosure form on time -- complains that Bruce Lunsford hasn't filed his form. In fact, Lunsford filed early (see post below).

So Team Fischer responds by shooting off an email criticizing Lunsford. I can't improve on Jake's take from Page One:

What does the Fischer campaign do hours after a story about Bruce’s disclosure being made public? They send out an email blast claiming that his report is missing. For real.

“Lunsford—in his third attempt at a political post, with an office staffed with Washington handlers—should know how to complete financial reports and where to send them,” said Fischer political director Kim Geveden. We’re just curious what has happened,” he said.

Seriously. Something stupid like this comes out of that campaign EVERY DAY. It never ends.


We're left wondering if Fischer actually pays his campaign staff to sabotage him, or whether Lunsford picks up the tab for all this hilarity.

Lunsford Discloses Huge Assets; Where's Fischer's Form?

W. Bruce Lunsford has filed his candidate financial disclosure report with the United States Senate Office of Public Records. It's a glimpse into the world of the rich who want to be famous. Greg Fischer, in contrast, appears to have missed the April 20th deadline, in yet another violation of the laws governing candidates for federal office.

We anxiously await to see whether Fischer's disclosure form was lost in the mail. As a candidate for federal office who does not file annually, the Ethics in Government Act required Fischer to file his financial disclosure form 30 days before the primary, that is, April 20th. If Fischer fails to file the form, he is subject to a fine or even referral to the Department of Justice.

It's just one form out of many that candidates must file, and yet it reveals the difference between the two men, or at least their campaigns.

Lunsford signed and dated his form April 17, 2008 (three days early) and took no chances on it arriving late; he sent it via UPS Next Day Air -- in which he has invested.

At this point, nothing jumps out from Lunsford's form except that he is very, very rich. The diversity of his investments is also striking. The man owns interests in everything from the frivolous -- races horses, film-making companies, amusement parks --to more conventional assets -- real estate, mutual funds and health care-related companies.

Whereas many of us have one mortgage, Lunsford has many, scattered around the country. And whereas many of us have mutual funds or savings accounts, Lunsford has interests in limited liability corporations and limited partnerships -- just page after page of assets. That includes many funds with Goldman Sachs; these appear to be the sort limited to high net worth individuals.

Not to incite any class warfare, but as I place my $ 2 bet on the Derby, I will think of Lunsford, who valued his thoroughbred horses at between $5 million to $ 25 million. That's a lot of horse flesh.

Fischer, on the other hand, is the horse who couldn't get loaded into the starting gate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Harry Reid's Hypocrisy

Harry Reid took to the Senate floor this morning and oozed his usual unctuousness: “I will never come to the Senate or anyplace else and denigrate my job and those of my 99 colleagues.”

Right. Reid is getting on in years, but still he must recall those many occasions in the not so distant past when he did denigrate not only his Senate colleagues but the very institution in which they serve.

Like on December 18, 2005, when Reid called the Republican-led Senate: “the most corrupt Congress in the history of this country."

Former Senator Bill Frist led Republicans at the time. Most Republicans would agree that current Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been much more effective at out-foxing Reid than was Frist. Nonetheless, Frist is widely regarded as a decent man who loves is country. So Reid's description of Frist rings particularly hollow. According to Reid, Frist had "no institutional integrity.”

Reid's disdain for the Senate and his colleagues has been a recurring them of his oratory. Like on on September 18, 2006, when Reid declared: "This Congress has failed.”

Or two days later, when Reid characterized the greatest deliberative body in the world as the “Do-Nothing Congress:”

Then on December 4, 2007 Reid described his Republican opponents as “49 puppets he [President Bush] has here in the Senate.” (Doubtless President Bush read that description and thought, "I wish!")

It seems that no one told Reid that the Democrats' theme for this election cycle is "post-partisan." To the contrary, Reid's vitriol is hyper-partisan. Reid's comments, moreover, suggest that his tenure as Democratic Senate Leader will be short-lived, should Barack Obama actually manage to win the White House, because Reid has yet to master the platitudes of "hope" and "change" that now pass for policy among "progressives."

Reid conducts himself as if he was still battling the mafia in the Nevada Gaming Commission. Memo to Reid: you can stop checking for car bombs. And you can stop throwing rhetorical bombs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

McConnell Responds to Hawpe

For non-Louisville readers, here's Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's response to David Hawpe's bizarre C-J column, in which Hawpe blamed McConnell for tution increases passed by the state General Assembly.

The C-J doesn't keep it's online edition up very long, so I'll play archivist and excerpt my favorite McConnell line:

Anybody with a basic understanding of civics knows that as Kentucky's senior senator in Washington, D.C., I have nothing to do with a state budget that is negotiated between the governor and the legislature in Frankfort. And the idea that one comment from me could escalate tuition rates across the state is even more ludicrous.

McConnell did a better job than I putting into concrete terms the vast good that comes from the millions of federal dollars that he directs to Kentucky:

U of L is at the forefront of medical research to fight heart disease and cancer. UK is expanding access to dental care in many rural parts of the state. WKU scientists help small communities provide safe drinking water and prevent wastewater from damaging our streams and rivers. And teaching programs at Northern Kentucky University help improve math and science instruction for Kentucky students.

The many Kentuckians whose lives have been improved by these efforts probably don't scoff at my efforts the way David Hawpe does, and would be happy to see me continue to bring home university funding to benefit our state. So I will.

It is beyond dispute that Bruce Lunford, as Freshman senator, could not bring this kind of money back to Kentucky (in the unlikely event that he were elected). Lunsford's TV ads not only acknowledge but underscore McConnell's seniority.

So the question for Lunsford becomes, is he willing to dip into his vast personal fortune to pay for those millions of dollars in earmarks that Kentucky would lose if it elects Lunsford?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Deconstructing Hawpe

David Hawpe continues to shock and amaze us in with his campaign to send Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell packing.

This week, Hawpe complained that Kentucky colleges are losing money, due to the"General Assembly following those no-new-tax instructions that McConnell gave his fellow Republicans back in 2000, when they took over the state Senate." It follows, in Hawpian illogic, that "the state's universities should be sending out press releases announcing how many millions they have lost, thanks to Sen. Mitch McConnell."

The "General Assembly [is] following those no-new tax instructions" from McConnell? Who knew that McConnell is so powerful that he controls even House Speaker Jody Richards and his Democratic minions. Talk about conspiracy theories.

But back to Hawpe's "reasoning." Hawpe is mad that Kentucky colleges are raising tuition; he calls this the "McConnell tuition hike." If the state legislature had been more generous, Hawpe argues, tuition would not go up. Maybe.

Even if Hawpe's assumption is correct, however, colleges should pass their increased costs on to their consumers -- the students. That's fairer and more efficient than financing higher education based on how much poor people smoke, for example.

Yes, that means that students will have to take out loans. But any student who is unwilling to invest in himself is not mature enough to be going to college in the first place. A student who is literally invested in his education, in contrast, is more likely to make it to class -- and to graduate on time.

Hawpe bemoans the cuts in spending that he attributes to the Republicans' (and Democrats') refusal to tax. Businesses, however, cut spending all the time. And any business that doesn't do so fast enough doesn't stay in business -- unless the government bails it. Moreover, raising taxes makes it harder to convince businesses to relocate to Kentucky.

The most bizarre aspect of Hawpe's rant is that he implicitly criticizes McConnell for doing too well, for bringing too much research money to Kentucky colleges, though he does so with the back-handed compliment to McConnell: "Give credit where it's due."

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, earmarks for colleges have increased since the Democrats took control of Congress (though they campaigned to end earmarks). Even Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have won earmarks to support colleges in their states. McConnell just does it better.

Here's a sampling why McConnell deserves not only credit but our thanks and our vote. The University of Louisville this year ranks 11th in terms of earmarks, according to Higher Education, with total of $21.2 in federal grants. Note that five years ago, before McConnell became Republican Leader, U of L ranked 36th, with $12.6 million. Seniority matters. Any state that replaces a Senate party leader with a Freshman will lose millions of dollars as a direct result.

McConnell took care of University of Kentucky, too. This year, UK ranked 14th in the earmark contest, netting $17.6 in federal money. That's up from 43rd ($11.5) in 2003.

Many other Kentucky institutions of higher learning received federal money. So much so, that Higher Education ranks Kentucky second in the nation for "academic pork": $165 million. There's no way that the Kentucky General Assembly would give our colleges that amount of money, no matter how much it hiked taxes.

As for Hawpe and anyone else who is bitter about not being taxed enough, you are free to write a check to the Commonwealth or your favorite school.

We do owe Hawpe a thank you, of sorts. He is the nearest thing that McConnell has to a real opponent, and the election would be tedious without a little opposition.

Earthquake Hits Kentucky

What a way to wake up. At 5:35 a.m. my dog began barking; I told him it was thunder and to relax. Immediately thereafter my ten year old started screaming "Mom! Somebody help me!" After I checked on him, his fifteen year old brother told me that his bed had been shaking.

I did not feel the quake although I thought I heard something. When I saw that the sky was clear, I thought that perhaps it had been a train crash. WHAS 11 and Drudge are now reporting that it was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake. I know that Kentucky is on a fault line, but I really never expected to experience even a tremor.

I'm not bitter, I don't carry a gun and I don't hate immigrants. But I'm clinging to my faith (which is much more powerful than mere "religion"). At 5:35 I was reminded that it's blessing to start this day safe and healthy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

No Dem Left Behind

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid's has miscalculated again -- literally. Reid demonstrated his need for remedial math help Tuesday on the Senate floor. Roll Call describes Reid,

accompanied by a large made-for-C-SPAN sign propped up on an easel declaring that Republicans have mounted 65 filibusters this year. But wait — wasn't it just a while back that Reid was complaining of 72 GOP-led filibusters? Yep, it was. Back on Feb. 29, Reid was on the floor with a similar sign decrying 72 Republican f-bombs.

Roll Call has an explanation for Reid's conflicting numbers: "in the past month and a half, Republicans have launched negative-seven filibusters."

Democrats are fuming that Republicans caught Reid padding the numbers. According to Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, "Republicans have found another way to waste valuable Senate time: semantics." Not "semantics," just plain old subtraction.

In any event, it was Reid who decided to strut around the Senate floor with his error-ridden poster. If Reid bothered to keep his numbers straight, there would be no need to correct him.

Meanwhile, Josh Holmes, a spokesman for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told Roll Call "we plan to consult the Senate historian to see if negative-seven filibusters is a record of some kind."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Greg Fischer Violates FEC Law (Again)

Greg Fischer appears to have violated Federal Election law yet again. Fischer, who wants to run as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, has released a television ad that appears to clearly violate FEC rules.

Federal candidates are required to state in their TV ads that the candidate approved the ad's message. Fischer's tag line, at the end of his ad, does not follow the FEC rules.

The FEC gives the candidate two options to indicate he approved the TV ad, but Fischer still failed to comply with either alternative.

Fischer could have met the FEC requirements by simply appearing on camera and stating that he approved the ad. But he did not. Or he could have said the words as a voice over, that is Fischer takes responsibility for the ad on the audio track while the camera shows a shot of Fischer kissing babies or whatever. He didn't bother to follow that prong of the rule, either.

Likewise, Fischer's ad violates the requirement that the disclaimer appear in writing at the ad, with enough color contrast that voters can notice it, for at least four seconds. Fischer does include a written disclaimer, but it flashes by almost as quickly as the subliminal messages in the Beatles's music he plays in the background.

Fischer's campaign has a history of sloppy compliance with campaign law. He conducted campaign business using a corporate email account -- essentially an illegal corporate contribution. He used corporate underlings to register domain sites for his campaign. And he exceeded the $5000 spending limit without declaring his candidacy.

Given that Fischer enjoys a paltry six percent approval rating in the polls, maybe it makes no difference.

Update: Fischer's approval rating has inched up to nine percent. Perhaps he's waiting to obey the election laws until he breaks into double digits.

Murtha's Aged Views

Congressman John Murtha, last seen complaining about how long U.S. forces have been in Iraq, cackled today about how long Senator John McCain has been on the earth. According to the Associated Press, Murtha said earlier today "that Republican Sen. John McCain is too old to be president." The AP reports:

Murtha is 75, four years older than McCain. He says they are nearly the same age, and the rigors and stress of running the country is too much for guys their age.

"I've served with seven presidents," Murtha told a union audience. "When they come in, they all make mistakes. They all get older."

"This one guy running is about as old as me," he said, drawing laughter and applause. "Let me tell you something, it's no old man's job."

That Murtha may feel like he's long in the tooth is hardly a reason not to vote for McCain. If anything, Murtha's cheap remarks -- "nonsense attacks," McCain's campaign called them -- are an indictment of the Congressman's continued fitness for office. By his own implicit admission, it's time for voters to retire Murtha.

Kentucky's Lethal Injection Statute Is Constitutional

By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court just upheld against constitutional challenge Kentucky's method for execution of death row prisoners by lethal injection. However, as the Associated Press reports, the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, "did leave open subsequent challenges to lethal injection practices if a state refused to adopt an alternative method that significantly reduced the risk of severe pain." The Court's opinion in the case, Baze v. Rees, is available here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two Different Responses to Tax Day

Even for those who are filing an income tax extension, today marks the one time of the year for voters to ask themselves whether they can spend their paychecks better than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

John McCain, to his credit, understands that Americans are taxed too much, and that the very complexity of calculating the tax owed is a huge economic drain; the federal tax rules now exceed 66,000 pages. Consequently, McCain has proposed simplifying the tax system to two rates (as well as suspending the federal gas tax for the summer). This move to tax simplification and tax reduction is sweeping Eastern Europe, including Russia, where countries have enacted low, flat rates with few deductions or exemptions.

Instead of discussing how to reform the tax code, however, Democrats mark April 15th by attempting to link the cost of the war to credit shortfalls in our domestic economy. Even the Washington Post disputes that connection:

"You should support the war or oppose the war, which I do and have done from the start, on the merits of the war itself," said Martin N. Baily, a former chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. But, he added, "the current problems the United States is facing have very little to do with the war in Iraq."

One other point to keep in mind as we file with the IRS: Democrats want to repeal the Bush tax cuts; their budget so states. That would result in the largest tax hike in American history -- $1.2 trillion. For a middle-class family of four with two children earning $60,000, that would translate to a tax increase of nearly $2,000 — a 70 percent increase in their taxes, according to OMB director Jim Nussle.

Barack Obama may be an insufferable snob with a racist pastor, and Hillary Clinton may win an award for the biggest whoppers and the slimiest husband. But their voting records are indistinguishable. Either one of them would raise taxes considerably, not just on the super-rich but on the middle-class.

A vote for John McCain is a vote for lower taxes than we'd suffer under an Obama or Clinton administration. Pity that election day doesn't fall on April 15th.

Brett Guthrie Raises Big Bucks

State Senator Brett Guthrie raised more than $400,000 last quarter in his bid to replace Congressman Ron Lewis, who is retiring as Representative of the Second Congressional District.

Guthrie's campaign says that his FEC report "showed his campaign with $353,596.25 cash-on-hand. According to press accounts, that figure is more than the combined amount raised by both Democrats seeking their party’s nomination."

Guthrie's ability to raise that much money last quarter is all the more impressive given that because he filed January 29, he had could solicit contributions for only two of the three months in the quarter.

His campaign, according to Guthrie, will focus on on "lower taxes, affordable health care, and a national security policy that keeps us on offense against terrorists and protects our homeland.”

Friday, April 4, 2008

Gone Fishing

And kayaking and snorkeling and walking on the beach. See you next week!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

General (and Future VP?) Colin Powell Is Coming To Town

Lost in the hullabaloo of Democratic presidential candidates and surrogates in Kentucky as of late is that a potential Republican vice presidential candidate will be here tomorrow. General Colin Powell is scheduled to speak at a Global Issues Forum presented by the World Affairs Council. The event will be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, starting at 6 p.m. Sorry, but you will need purchase a ticket (assuming any are still available) to attend.

Speculation continues to abound as to whether Powell is on McCain's short list and, more importantly, whether Powell would agree if McCain asked him to run as number two on the ticket. Mort Kondracke on a Fox News program last Saturday opined that McCain "should offer the Vice-Presidency to Colin Powell, who may well not take it." In a similar vein presidential historian Douglas Brinkley reportedly called Powell "the most reassuring person Senator McCain could pick" for his running mate. But others throw cold water on the idea. For example, the critique from Atlantic Online posted earlier today: "And for those who like to traffic in the Colin Powell speculation, remember two things: one – he disagrees with Sen. McCain about the way forward in Iraq. And two, he is 70 years old."

The Associated Press also reports today:

Sen. John McCain disclosed Wednesday he is in the "embryonic stages" of selecting a vice presidential running mate and hopes to unveil his choice before the Republican National Convention to avoid the type of problems that plagued Dan Quayle's debut two decades ago.

"It's every name imaginable" he said of his list-in-the-making, about 20 in all.

He disclosed none of them and declined even to identify the individuals he has approached to supervise the vetting.

If he isn't one of the undisclosed persons supervising the vetting, Powell is undoubtedly one of those 20 names. Tomorrow's event may be a good opportunity to gauge the General's current enthusiasm for remaining on that list.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lunsford Lead "Insurmountable"

WHAS 11's Mark Hebert is characterizing Bruce Lunsford's lead in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as "virtually insurmountable."

A new Survey USA/WHAS poll shows that among candidates in the Democratic primary, Lunsford leads with 42 percent among likely Democratic voters. Next comes "perennial candidate" David Lynn Williams, who at 11 percent, is trading on the name ID of the President of the Kentucky Senate, also named David Williams. Lunsford's millionaire opponent, Greg Fischer, trails at six percent, and pain physician Michael Cassaro is supported by four percent of those polled.

The approval rating of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, holds steady at 52 percent -- the same as last month.

We now wait to see whether Senator Pat Leahy -- or Senator Chuck Schumer -- will start demanding Fischer et al. to drop out of the race, "for the good of the party."