Sunday, April 24, 2016
This was my first Kentucky Republican Convention, and I'd highly recommend it to Republicans here who want to get more involved. It's a great cross-section of people of different backgrounds and ages who come together because of our love for liberty and our abhorrence of big government.
In contrast to many other states, our convention is well-run and efficient -- something conservatives value. State Chair Mac Brown, presiding over his first convention, managed to both keep the trains running on time and deal respectfully with malcontents and the inevitable snafus that happen in an undertaking this large.
The most tedious aspect was ascertaining the credentials of the approximately 500 state delegates, county by county. But one fact emerged from that process that we need to redress: sadly, there are still many counties in Kentucky that had no Republican representation whatsoever. Not a single delegate.
It's true that in our recent caucus, the party could not hold a caucus in 10 of the 120 counties due to lack of volunteers in that county. That we could hold caucuses in 110 counties is itself a remarkable feat. This dovetails with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell winning reelection by carrying some counties in Eastern Kentucky that he has never before carried -- a bucket list item for him. Most of these counties similarly voted for Gov. Matt Bevin.
For this change in voting patterns in Eastern Kentucky, we can thank President Barack Obama and his war on coal. He has been the best thing to ever happen to the Republican Party of Kentucky. Indeed, our registration has outpaced Democrats by a 13 to 1 margin during the Obama years.
Despite that improvement, some counties in Eastern Kentucky still do not have a GOP grassroots presence. But there are conservatives in those counties who voted Republican. Not many, but some.
And to those voters, there is an opportunity to get involved in the state party. Yesterday, for example, they could have been state delegates; that provides a chance to vote on the Kentucky Republican Party's platform as well as the delegates who will represent us at the national convention.
The party is welcoming to first-time voters, as my son and his friend both experienced as delegates. So to those high school seniors in Eastern Kentucky who want a path to prosperity and want to help change the direction of the Commonwealth and the nation, the Republican party is a place that will welcome your ideas and energy.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Here's my latest column from the Courier-Journal. This one seems to have struck a nerve; it was shared on FaceBook nearly two thousand times, and was sent to Dartmouth and at least one former member of its Board of Trustees:
The campus guardians of political correctness have eyed the Kentucky Derby and judged it offensive. At Dartmouth College, the Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority has canceled its Derby party after some Dartmouth students called it racist and elitist.
Last year, campus Black Lives Matter protested outside the invitation-only party. According to the Washington Times, “Protesters held signs declaring ‘black rage’ and repeated chants of ‘What is Derby? It’s the face of genocide,’ and ‘What is Derby? It’s the face of police brutality.’”
After consulting the protesters and the Dartmouth Afro-American society, the sorority recently voted to curtail the Derby theme for this year’s spring party. The sorority’s vice president explained her understanding that Derby is “related to pre-war southern culture.” She parroted the narrative that Derby connotes antebellum plantations.
However, as any Kentuckian with a Derby glass handy can confirm, the first Derby was not held until 1875 — a decade after the Civil War ended. And Kentucky never joined the Confederacy; it’s as much midwestern as southern.
For $69,000 a year to attend Dartmouth, one would expect students at this Ivy League school to know these basics of history and geography. Or at least to Google before making their protest signs.
There is a difference between a Klansman’s hood and a Derby hat. This simple distinction escapes the bullies of censorship and conformity who got the party canceled. Likewise for the sorority members who caved.
The protesters claim the Kentucky Derby is offensive. But the only offense here is to Louisvillians and others slandered as racists for celebrating this premier sports event.
Surely those students who found the party theme offensive could have declined the invitation. It wasn’t a mandatory event. And this has nothing to do with campuses as “safe places.” It’s about freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Plainly, the parents of these students never read them the story of Peter and the Wolf. Racial injustice occurs, as does genocide. But equating Derby with genocide has no basis in history, no basis in reality. The hysterical exaggeration at Dartmouth takes serious issues and treats them dishonestly. The allegations are so silly as to trivialize those issues the protesters seek to publicize.
CHECK OUT: All things Kentucky Derby
It’s true that some Kentuckians once, before the first Derby, owned slaves. But in Kentucky, our log cabins were more numerous and hold more significance than our plantations.
William Faulkner — who knew a thing or two about plantations — recognized this when he covered the Derby in 1955 for Sports Illustrated. He described Lincoln’s birthplace, the “ancient one-room cabin in which the babe first saw light.” He imagined Lincoln “speaking into the scene of his own nativity the simple and matchless prose with which he reminded us of our duties and responsibilities if we wished to continue as a nation.”
Faulkner also observed the important role that African-Americans played in the thoroughbred industry
Indeed, Oliver Lewis, an African-American jockey from Fayette County, won Derby No.1 on Aristides.
Of the first 28 Derby winners,15 were ridden by black jockeys. Regrettably, that changed over time as the Jim Crow laws caused many blacks to move north. The fact remains, however, that African-Americans are indispensable to the illustrious history of the Kentucky Derby. This is a historic accomplishment of which the Black Lives Matter group at Dartmouth should be proud. Instead of protesting Derby, they should celebrate it — as do the many black celebrities who come to Derby year after year.
Alas, the Dartmouth KDE’s are replacing the Derby party with a Woodstock party. Incredibly, they say Woodstock better represents their values. Apparently their history classes omitted mention of hard drug use, sexual promiscuity and the three people who died at Woodstock. Instead, these students think Woodstock was just about peace, love and music.
Yet in some ways, Woodstock’s an apt theme this year as two aging hippies wrestle for the Democrat presidential nomination. Bernie Sander’s wife slept in a tent at Woodstock; Hillary Clinton tried to earmark federal money for a Woodstock museum.
Ironically, Woodstock and Derby have more in common than the Dartmouth coeds might expect.
Hunter S. Thompson’s essay, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”, could describe Woodstock: The infield “will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It’s a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles.”
Now imagine replacing the mint juleps with LSD and heroin. What could go wrong?
Perhaps the Dartmouth KDEs didn’t mind dumping the Derby theme because they are on probation and the party would have to be dry: mint juleps without bourbon. Now that’s a legitimate reason to cancel a Derby party. Certainly a better reason than cowering before the political correctness vigilantes.