Monday, April 30, 2007

91. Seward, Cheney, Rice, and Bush - and McConnell and Reid

About 630 days of the junta known as the George W. Bush administration are left in the schedule. We can only hope. I have mentioned before my concerns that in the name of "homeland security" the president and his dogs, Dick Cheney and Dr. Condoleeza Rice, may declare they simply aren't leaving come January 20, 2009, the day the junta's occupation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW is supposed to end. Here is some reading matter, historical fiction, on the subject.

As [he] rocked slowly back and forth in the hammock, he thought, longingly, of sending a detachment of troops to surround the Capitol while Congress was in session. There would be a mass arrest. He himself would speak to the assembled members of the two houses. He was seated in the Speaker's Chair, and smoking a cigar as the terrified members of the Congress stood before him, guns trained on them from soldiers in the gallery. Naturally, he would address them pleasantly; he might even make a joke or two. Then he would explain how no state could support, in time of war, the luxury of such a large, unwieldy, and often unpatriotic group of men [and women]. Therefore it was with true sorrow that he was dissolving the legislative branch of government. Most of the members would be allowed to return home. Unfortunately there were a number who would be obliged to stand trial for treasonable activities. [Some] would be given the opportunity to defend themselves before a military court. But should [they] and the other Jacobins be found guilty, they would of course, be hanged - in the front of the Capitol.

The above is some fiction from one of my favorite writers, writing some of the only fiction I read. The passage is from Gore Vidal's 1984 (of course) bestseller Lincoln. The book is a fictional history laced with actual history surrounding the presidential term of Abraham Lincoln. So, one should understand the above words were written during a time of civil war. But could you not hear the current president, or his vice president or secretary of state, making the same declaration as above, as part of an address on the everpresent Homeland Security Department - again recollections of another novel, 1984. In Vidal's work these words are spoken by Lincoln's Secretary of State William Seward. Seward had wanted to be president himself and the words above indicate he may have rather wanted to be dictator - although we must remember, here they are fiction. Nonetheless, his power in the Lincoln administration was well known and included the arrest and imprisonment of those, especially newspaper editors, who did not fully support the administration's execution of the war. Sound familiar?

The war Seward supported of course was America's own civil war, not one on the other side of the globe. But the tactics and language seem to be related. Just last week Cheney attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for making "uninformed and misleading" statements and for orchestrating Democrats' "blind opposition" to the Bush administration's latest policy in Iraq. I would not call the Senator's words misleading and the deaths of (as of this writing) 3,351 of America's women and men in uniform is certainly part of the information upon which Senator Reid and the Democrats in Congress (Seward's latter day Jacobins) relied when passing the latest bill to be sent to the president with the necessary funding for our troops overseas, funding the president nonetheless plans to veto given it contains a pullout provision beginning October 1st. I agree with Senator Reid - the president is in a state of denial.

And just as America was at war with itself back in Secretary Seward's day, so it is again, but this time it isn't one region against another (although that is not far off). This time it is the governees against the governors. More and more Americans are expressing their discontent with the direction of the country and, given the election results from last November (when John Yarmuth defeated Anne Northup here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606), more and more Americans are willing to throw out of office those who continue to blindly support the president and his war of occupation in Iraq. Among his chief supporters is Kentucky's Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., the Senate Minority Leader.

The chatter between Kentuckians this fall will be about our new governor, whoever he may be. But soon, very soon, that chatter must be overtaken by new words of support for the election of someone other than Mitch McConnell in the 2008 election.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

90. Weekend Rambling

I've spent this entire weekend basically doing nothing. And it was a beautiful weekend to do so. Although there were political events on the calendar Friday night, one in Oldham County, the other at George Stinson's up on Longview Lane, I attended neither. Instead I did nothing. I should point out that Friday was the birthday - the 60th birthday no less - of one of my favorite people, Hazel Hartley. I called her late in the day, spoke briefly with her husband Darryl, then gave her her birthday wishes. I've known Hazel and Darryl for about thirteen years after having first met them at a Christmas Party in one of the years that Ken Herndon was unsuccessfully running for office, something I helped him do several times before I helped him run successfully several times.

Saturday's calendar had nothing on it, so again, that's exactly what I did - nothing. Late in the day, I took a drive out Dixie Highway towards Radcliff. I've been helping a friend who is working for Willie Neal, a candidate for Family Court Judge in Hardin County and I wanted to see what sort of signs had gone up. A few have supporting someone named Hatfield, but only a few. From 31W, I headed east over to I-65 on the Joe Prather Highway. I know Senator Prather, for whom the road is named, having worked in the LRC back when he was in the State Senate. As I recall, Joe was a resident of Vine Grove. The last time I saw him was in a little diner on the northwest corner of the town square in downtown Elizabethtown.

I took I-65 north, but just a little, up to the Lebanon Junction exit, where I followed KY 61 (called South Preston Highway in this part of Bullitt County) over to Nelson County (where it is called Boston Road) and US 62, where the very small community of Boston is situated, a very small town with no stop lights, but it does have two liquor stores and two funeral homes - I wonder if there is a connection.

I followed US 62 northeast into Bardstown, taking a look at the new part of the road west of town where, just past the Airport (Samuels Field), the road formerly went deep into a valley to cross Withrow Creek, before emerging up and widening as you come into Bardstown proper. Withrow Creek on the west and Rowan Creek on the east are branches of the Beech Fork of the Rolling Fork of Salt River, which winds in "S" curves from the west and toward the south of Kentucky's home of My Old Kentucky Home.

Leaving Bardstown I took KY 245, a old, old trail (ancient would be an honest word to use here) which more or less follows the Harrodsburg-Louisville branch of the Wilderness Road, itself following old buffalo paths in search of salt licks. Many of us learned about these old roads and salt licks back when they taught Kentucky History in the 8th grade in Kentucky's public schools. Along the way, one passes the original area of Clermont Springs, the seven-generation home of Jim Beam Whiskey (named for the founder's grandson, James Beauregard Beam), still made right along the north side of the highway in southern Bullitt County - another Jim Beam plant was passed earlier on the road from Lebanon Junction to Boston.

KY 245 will take you back to either I-65 or to KY 61, which in Jefferson County we call Preston Highway for the most part. In downtown Louisville, northbound KY 61 runs along Jackson Street - southbound along Preston Street. The northern terminus of the highway is found at the Louisville Slugger Baseball Park along East Main Street.

Today being Sunday, I attended the church of my choice. There used to be little reminders in Saturday's and Sunday's papers telling people to do just that. As it was a beautiful morning, I walked the six or so blocks from my home up what was really known at one time as Phoenix Hill along East Broadway to the Episcopal Church of the Advent at Baxter Avenue and Cherokee Road. Today's readings and sermon focussed on Jesus' role as the Good Shepherd. The discussion centered on not the various names by which we know Jesus, but rather by the various names by which He knows us, whether as friend, parent, child, caregiver, or any other type of ministry, irrespective of any involvement with an organized church or religion. Although I am not a fan of the current "interim" rector, today's message was interesting.

After church I did my weekly chores at "Mom's house," chores I've been doing more or less every weekend since I was ten or eleven years old, including the two or three years I lived in either Lexington or Frankfort. My mother lives in a house built in the mid 1950s by her father and his friends. As two of my brother's children have also been raised there, a total of four generations from the same family have so far occupied the 2160 square feet home sitting upon just under 6/10th of an acre just off South Park Road in southern Jefferson County.

Life goes on, and even when you have nothing to do, you usually end up doing quite a few things.

Friday, April 27, 2007

89. America's struggle with the Franchise.

Walking from where I get off the TARC* this morning over to where I work, I pass through Louisville's town square, called Jefferson Square. This is the public space across from the building the Mayor of Louisville - Jefferson County Metro calls Metro Hall but everyone else calls the Courthouse, or some the Old Courthouse. The Jefferson County Clerk's Office has erected in the park an art display, showing the work of elementary, middle, and high school students based on the theme of voting. Whether intended or not, many include in their art work the idea that voting is a right (and while none carry that further, the implication therefrom is that is it not just a privelege). As far as federal elections are concerned (other than that of the president and vice president, which are controlled by an admixture of state and federal law), I agree - it is a right, but one the control of which has been handed off to the states under the first phrase making up Article 1, Section IV of the United States Constitution. As far as State and Local elections are concerned, the subject is not addressed in the Constitution, and thus is left to the states, under the Tenth Amendment.

So, the idea of voting as a right is a two-pronged event, one involving federal races and the other involving state and local races. Thus, the idea of restoring voting rights to those from whom they have been taken for various reasons, is also a two-pronged process, involving both the federal legislature as well as those of the 50 states allegedly united as one in these United States of America. For a moment, I want to discuss the state and local process.

Nearly all the states will not allow a person convicted of a felony the right to vote while incarcerated. In many of the states, that right is resumed upon completion of a sentence. In a few others, some time must elaspe free of further convictions for the right to be restored, or some other restrictions must be met. In only two states, Kentucky, and our parent commonwealth, Virginia, are felons disenfranchised for their lifetimes in all categories. The civil right to vote in those two states may only be restored by an Executive Pardon from the governor. The 48 remaining states, as well as the District of Columbia, all have less restrictive laws in this regard.

As to the federal elections of members of both houses of Congress, you may have caught my reference to the first phrase of Article 1, Section 4, where the Constitution relegates to the states the laws governing by whom senators and representatives are elected. The second phrase of Article 1, Section IV, allows that "the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators." Of course, it is unlikely that the Congress would of their own will wander into the frying pan represented by such a move. But they should. The highest ideal of a democracy, the style of government underlying our republic, is universal suffrage. It is an ideal with which the United States has struggled. In our early days, dating from the 1789 ratification of the Constitution, the right to vote was severely restricted to only a few people, nearly all white, wholly all male, and mostly property holders. In fact, a law in 1807 specifically denied the right to vote to women.

By 1830 most states had abolished the need to hold property as a prerequisite to vote. Kentucky took a step forward in the 1830s, allowing suffrage for the widows of males who had the right the vote.

Forty years later the Fifteenth Amendment gave black males the right to vote, but many states - and not just in the South - found ways to keep blacks from voting, either by literacy tests or grandfather clauses - some of which lasted until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, delivered to Congress and signed into law by Lyndon Baines Johnson abolishing all such obstacles. It was one of several civil rights laws passed under LBJ, who rather than Bill Clinton, could and should be afforded the sobriquet, "the first black president."

Wyoming was the first state that allowed full voting rights to women, in 1889. In 1924, that state elected the first female governor in the history of the Republic, something Kentucky has done only once, and 59 later than Wyoming. Women were granted the franchise nationwide by the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, although not without a fight, a fight sometimes headed by those same females being denied the right to vote.

Next came the question of allowing Native Americans, whose land we came to occupy, the right to participate in elections. Congress first addressed the issue in 1924, but the matter wasn't resolved in full until 1962 when New Mexico became the last state granting Native Americans full participation.

In 1961, residents of Washington, D.C., were given the right to vote in federal elections, but their voting representation in the Congress has not yet been granted, and is a current topic of discussion 46 years later in the current legislative session.

As stated above, the 1960s under President Lyndon Johnson brought many changes to voting patterns, positive gains mostly for African Americans and directly addressing the continuing problems mostly in the South. The Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 and ther Open Housing Act of 1968 are just two of many progressive accomplishments made on the domestic front in this decade. Were it not for a foreign war with no seemingly end or purpose, Johnson's administration would have been one of the most successful in the history of the Republic.

But, it didn't end there. Under President Nixon (who was looking for new voters in his bid for re-election) the Twenty-Sixth Amendment gave voters between the ages of 18 and 21 the right to vote in federal elections, a move some states had already allowed in state and local elections.

Later in the 1970s, Congress amended the earlier Voting Rights Act to enable poor speakers of English to participate in the political process, giving permission for some states to print their ballots both in English and in other languages. In the early 1990s, led by Kentucky's United States Senator Wendell Ford, the Congress enacted what has come to be known as the Motor Voter bill, increasing the number of folks registered with the intention of increasing the number of folks participating in the electoral process.

Obviously, the idea of suffrage, or extending the franchise, is an evolving idea. There have been many changes as enumerated above. They will continue to more as our experiment in a democratic-republican form of government moves along its timeline, now in its 231st year. One of those changes should be the restoration of the civil right to vote to those who have completed the sentences placed upon them for their wilful disobeyance of the law. Once such a debt to society has been paid, their account should be marked "paid in full" and their right to participate in our experiment in governance restored, thus moving the Republic one step closer to a higher form of democracy.

Hopefully in the future, we'll be able to address the problem of getting people who have the right to vote to actually do so. But that is a discussion for another day.

By the way, later on today in the public space across from the Court House, a celebration of the Arts will be held with displays and vendors and food, mostly attended by some school age kids, as well as the Sixth and Jefferson civic community. Across the street, on the sidewalk between the Court House and City Hall, some protesters will be marching military style, complete with an anthem of their own, protesting some of the pay practices of a drywall company hired to renovate some of the offices of the Fiscal Court building.

Ain't Democracy great!

* TARC: Transit Authority of River City, since 1974, Louisville's publically owned mass-transit system, serving Louisville, Jeffersonville, and New Albany, as well as parts of their respective outlying counties.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

88. Some quick thoughts on voting by quotas

Sorry about the lack of posting. It would be nice to say it wasn't for a lack of trying - but it was. Trying to find something of interest everyday or every other day, or as it is becoming my habit, just now and then, is proving difficult, though not overwhelming.

The only thing going on of interest (at least to me) is the governor's race is finally making it to the radar screens of folks other than hacks like me. A friend of mine pointed out to me, in a very light-hearted way, that by supporting John Yarmuth last year and Jonathan Miller this year, I am supporting a person of Jewish heritage for two years in a row. I've not really given that much thought, although I have privately acknoweldged to myself that in this support two years in a row, such thoughts are only numerations - lists of who I am for and not for - and not some sort of quota system. I've never voted for or against someone based on their religious practices (or lack thereof), nor do I ever plan to make that part of my decision. The only quota system I have used in personal voting was that of age - and maybe good looks.

In a race where I had no clear choice - or where I didn't really care, as a rule, I've opted for the youngest candidate, especially one that might be younger than me. For many years, that had never posed a problem as few candidates were ever younger than me. As age, but not yet maturity, has set in, my choices are more abundant. One of the reasons in the back of my mind for leaning toward Barack Obama for president - other than he is a well qualified man, is also that he is younger than me by 10 months or so. I'm both looking forward to and regretting the casting of a ballot for a presidential candidate younger than me. Looking forward because in all of history, there has always been a next generation upon whom the hopes for all future successes rest. Regretfully as it is a sign that the time is fast arriving not only to be supportive of these younger candidates, but that they will in fact be winning and governing and I will be moving on to the status of actually being older.

One of the first speeches I learned, mostly at the insistence of my grandmother, was John Kennedy's Inaugural Address, given just four months after my birth. Like me and Obama, when my grandmother (who was not Catholic and didn't really like Catholics) supported Kennedy, one of the reasons she told me was that he was the first person she could vote for president who was younger than her and she felt it was important to put the country in younger hands. Like me and Obama, Kennedy was 10 months younger than she. She was 44 and he 43 at the time of his election; I am 46, Obama will be 46 in August. Keep in mind, the outgoing president, General Eisenhower (as he was called by the generation immerdiately following World War Two), was (at that time) the oldest man ever to serve in the office. Kennedy, of course, was the youngest ever elected (although not the youngest to ever serve; that would be Theodore Roosevelt).

Many people remember, some not all that successfully, the quote from his inaugural, "[A]sk not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." There are a few other very good lines in that speech, but they have been glossed over in favor of this one above. The very next lines following the above quote was, "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." It is far more encompassing for the world as a whole and to me a greater line. But one which has always stuck in my head was very early in the speech when the president said, "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . . . "

It always seemed to me to be a slap in the face of not only President Eisenhower, but also many older Americans. I've always felt there was probably a better way to have expressed the same sentiment, but I've never figured out what it was. As I am more and more voting for younger and younger candidates, I am in a way passing that torch along, but am also acknowleding that the torch must indeed be passed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

87. Crossing (the) Kentucky in 551.3 miles

Although none of it was really planned, several of the last few entries have been seemingly tied together, the string connecting them being US 460. Maybe it is because my internet friend Nick Stump has prompted my attention toward the Appalachians, or it may be another friend, Barry Norris, who several years ago picked up roots from his Highlands home and relocated to Lee County - for whatever reason, I had been pining to do an eastern Kentucky loop and this weekend was the weekend to do it.

As promised, my destination was Pikeville, home of the Hillbilly Days festival where I would see some friends and walk the parade route, and for that reason, almost as an afterthought, I took along one of my "Jeff Noble, Democrat for Council" tee-shirts, left over from the unsuccesful run in 2002. As it turned out, taking the tee along was a moment of serendipity [serendipity is a word I learned from Ken Herndon - it kinda means unplanned but useful timing]. The only reason I have the shirts was that Ken was running someone else's campaign in 2002 and due to a mistake, he had a credit coming to him from a screenprinter, and chose the tee-shirts as his contribution to my campaign. But, I digress.

I did go to Pikeville to the festival, but it turned out only to be a stop along the way. My trek began very early Saturday morning, as I had to be in West Liberty by 9:00 am, and that is a three hour drive. As I entered the on-bound ramp to eastbound I-64, I punched the trip odometer down to zero. I went to visit a friend, who is also a cousin to my youngest four nieces and nephews, who is, well, living (so to speak) in West Liberty. I had not seen him in two years, and given the circumstances, he was in good spirits and looked well for the wear. Euphemistically, his present residence is a State-operated Bed and Three Squares operation and he is scheduled to be there for the foreseeable future. We talked about books and writers - Machiavelli and Shakespeare among them. To say the least, I was pleasantly intrigued and impressed by the conversation. My friend is a 22 year old middle school dropout. His reading list rivals that of many much-better educated friends, and his knowledge of what he has read is well retained. While I left feeling sorry for his state, it is one of his own doing. And, as I said, he seemed well, both physically and mentally, and that is a good thing.

I left West Liberty where the main street, called Main Street, is numbered as US 460. US 460 takes you from there to Salyersville in Magoffin County. In Magoffin, it is called Maple Street for a few blocks and Church Street for a few more. Beyond Salyersville, I joined KY 114, known as either the Mountain Parkway or the Mountain Parkway Extension. By the way, Magoffin County was named for Kentucky's governor at the outbreak of the Civil War. Beriah Magoffin is said in some histories to have tried to keep Kentucky neutral while in others he was said to have Southern sympathies. When the General Assembly chose to remain in the Union, but officially remain neutral in the war (how does one do that?), Magoffin made off to Russellville, mentioned a few entries ago as "southern" in more ways than one. It was in Russellville that Magoffin presided over the Confederate Convention for Kentucky, which in fact set up an extra-constitutional government for Kentucky as part of the Confederate States of America. But Kentucky never seceded. And I'm off topic.

KY 114 takes you around the southwest bottom of Prestonsburg, home of one of the current candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Greg Stumbo, who is also the current Attorney General of the Commonwealth. At this point, a right turn returns me to US 460 (again) along with US 23, better known as Kentucky's Country Music Highway, which proceeds as a divided four-lane highway towards our destination, Pikeville.

Along the way KY 80 joins the road from the west side, and further yet, US 119 joins from the east side. As one enters Pikeville, all four numbers are "multiplexed" on the road. The main street, a former railroad bed, is called Hambley Boulevard, a new circular road which circumnavigates parallel to the old Big Sandy riverbed, before it was re-routed in a geo-engineering extavanganza several years back, the second largest earth moving project in this hemisphere; the Panama Canal ranks first. The so-called "Cut-Through" project was the brain-child of the late Dr. William Hambley, former mayor of Pikeville, for whom the new main street along the old railroad bed was named. The project was first conceived in the 1960s and started in earnest in 1973. Finally costing about $60,000,000.00, it was dedicated on October 2, 1987. There are lots of things in Pikeville named for Mayor Hambley who served in that capacity for 29 years. He died in 1996.

The purpose of the trip was to politic, see friends, and walk in the parade. I did all that, donning my "Noble for Council" tee-shirt for everyone to see. I chatted with Bruce Lunsford, running for governor with the aforementioned Greg Stumbo, as well as their campaign manager Dale Emmons. I also saw Todd Hollenbach, who is a candidate for State Treasurer. I introduced myself to David Neville of Pleasureville, who is a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner. We are probably kin of some sort, as he knows a number of my family members, most prominently my cousin Rick Sharp, and others who live along the sideroads in eastern Shelby and western Franklin counties.

The parade began near the City Park, where there has been erected an historical marker denoting the place where James Garfield, later to be president, was made a brigadier general for his services. A few entries back, we discussed his monument in front of the United States Capital. And then here he was in Pikeville.

After the parade, I left town and travelled south along the same four-numbered highway. Eventually US 460 and KY 80 left off to the east, going over to the Breaks Interstate Park, and eventually to Blacksburg, Virginia. Thus, leaving only US 23/119 to make the climb toward the ridge that separates Kentucky from Virginia I dorve on. One mile before the crossing, at Pound Gap, US 119 goes off to the southwest and this is the route I needed to take, but I had not ever been to Pound Gap although I have known about it all my life. Pound Gap, where US 23 crosses from Letcher County, Kentucky into Wise County, Virigina, has played a role in Kentucky's history from long before Daniel Boone made his way into the state. It is known that Christopher Gist came through here around 1751. Gist served as a guide for George Washington and later for Daniel Boone. His name is associated with the early exploration of most of Kentucky, including here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606. In 1861 and 1862, there were civil war battles here (and in other places in Letcher and Pike counties) with James Garfield leading the Union forces and Humphrey Marshall leading the Confederacy. Marshall was the grandson of a Kentucky Secretary of State and United States Senator by the same name. This Marshall served as a Congressman from Kentucky in both the Union and Confederate governments, although not at the same times. A memorial on the Virginia side marks the site, and both states have erected historical markers telling the stories of Garfield and Marshall at Pound Gap, which sits some 2500 feet above sea level. It is an impressive drive and an impressive dirve. To celebrate, I stopped at the gas station at the top, where there is a broad view toward the southeast where you can literally, like Pete Townshend wrote for The Who, "see for miles and miles and miles and miles."

After the view, I turned around and headed back down US 23 to the turn of of US 119 and headed southwest to Whitesburg, the county seat of Letcher County. Many years ago, I was known to have said that the Letcher County Court House was the ugliest in the Commonwealth, with its alternating blue and white panels. That is no longer the case, as the building has been updated and the blue/white panel combination is no more, replaced with a nice brick veneer. In Whitesburg, our path left US 119, which follows along the southeastern border of Kentucky on down to the Cumberland Gap. Instead, I went north on KY 15, which is an excellent four-lane highway, one of the best in the state, and headed for Hazard, the county seat of Perry County, where the Fiscal Court is presided over by Denny Ray Noble, who is not known to be a relative of mine. The family name Noble is one of the more prominent ones in this part of the state, even moreso over in Breathitt County. I'd like to say that I took a look at the new Perry County Judicial Center, which I know from having read it is next door to the old Court House, but, alas, I got sort of lost and never did see the Court House, although I did venture around the city quite a bit, trying to find my way to either KY 80 or KY 15 or the Hal Rogers Parkway, all of which are prominent streets in Hazard and none of which were making themselves present.

I did eventually find KY 15 and headed northwest to Breathitt County and its county seat of Jackson. Again, Noble is one of the more prominent names here, and as I entered the county, coming down the hill in the first mile, I spied a semi-trailer with the name "Noble" emblazoned across it. As I got closer, not only did it say "Noble" - it said "Jeff Noble, Democrat for Magistrate." Pulling off the four lane KY 15 at the house, I saw it was attached to a garage called "Jeff's Body Shop." An older woman came out and we introduced ourselves, she as Mrs. Glenn Noble and mother of Jeff Noble (who had won his race), and me as Jeff Noble (who did not win mine). The other Jeff Noble was down in Tennessee at a fishing tournament so I missed him. She and I spoke for a few minutes and before departing, I changed shirts and gave her my "Jeff Noble, Democrat for Council" shirt as a memento - a serendipitous moment.

I followed KY 15 into Jackson and then out of there I turned briefly on KY 30 which goes to Booneville but then very shortly thereafter I saw the KY 52 sign, and after a half-second of thought, took it. Here's why. A search. I knew that KY 52 was the road into Ravenna and Irvine, at this point still two counties away. Many years ago, I was on one of these trips and I saw two churches, small white frame buildings, side-by-side and identical, alongside a railroad and a creek. For whatever reason that day, I did not investigate to see why two identical churches would be built as next door neighbors and I've always regreeted that. It was a curious sight. In my mind, these churches were in Ravenna, but I've never been sure of that and until this trip had never been back in that area to see. So, for that reason alone, off of KY 30 and onto KY 52 I turned. This road runs along a railroad track and crosses over different forks of the Kentucky River as it proceeds westward into Lee County (where Barry Norris moved) and Beattyville. Along this route I passed through what is marked on maps as Airedale but which the locals call Saint Helen's from the church (or formerly, churches as the Presbyterian one recently burned leaving only the Christian Church) nearby. Several entries ago, talking about post offices and how some get their names, we blogged about this Saint Helen's, the not-so-wide place in the road along side the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River, which caused Shively in Jefferson County to be called Shively and not Saint Helen's, the name everyone originally knew it by.

I continued on the winding and narrow KY 52 leaving Beattyville and Lee County, crossing over a ridge, where the bright afternoon sun made for a beautiful picture against the valley, as the road straightens out and settles down along side the old L & N Railroad yard and the Kentucky River. I searched and searched for the two little churches but to no avail. Ravenna turns into Irvine without much notice, and Irvine itself, the county seat of Estill County, is a town with wide streets set into the right side of the road, while the railroad yard and the river constitute the left side. At the main intersection, I turned left (across the Kentucky River) as KY 52 heads to Richmond in Madison County.

At this point, KY 52 becomes a four lane highway and eventually joins the US 25/421 By-Pass around Richmond to the east and north, along the way passing through the town of Waco, which is off to the right. I looked over at Waco to see if there were two identical churches side-by-side, still unsuccessfully pursuing the missing location. It occurred to me at that point that the KY 52 I was driving on was not the one I drove on the last time I was in the area. Sooner or later, I need to go back through there and find those churches. Not knowing their circumstances has bothered me for years.

Finally, this current road takes you to I-75, where going north gets you to Lexington and I-64, and thus west to the point of beginning. Upon my departure from I-64 at the Mellwood Avenue exit, the trip odometer read 551.3. It was a good trip.

Friday, April 20, 2007

86. Gonzales needs to go.

Not much to say today - the weather is too nice to think about words. In the news, always better than whatever fiction the New York Times Sunday magazine is pushing, the Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, went before a Senate panel yesterday, only to have senators call his tesitmony "a stretch," "removed from the actual events," and "actions which can only be corrected by [his] resignation." And that was his friends on the Republican side, including one from the Republic of Texas. Of course the president, in his usual hightened state of mental alertness, gave Gonzales one of those "attaboys" like the one he gave to "Brownie" after the Katrina disaster. Bush's second Attorney General, the grandson of perhaps three illegal immigrants, is by far better than his first, John Ashcroft, who is the only man in the history of the Republic to ever lose a United States Senate race to a dead man. One of the reasons he is better isn't all the mistakes he has made, however, it is his obvious lightweight abilities to fully execute the office. Where Ashcroft was heavy handed and deeply ideological, using the beliefs of his church, the Assemblies of God, as a touchstone, Gonzales, who is quietly a Catholic (but is not totally against abortion), is simply just a lightweight, not up to the task of being the Republic's 80th Attorney General. Gonzales was swore into office on February 3, 2005. It is now time for Gonzales to go back to Texas.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

85. From Frankfort to Pikeville

Frankly, it was a good idea. After the gubernatorial filing deadline, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Jerry Lundergan had all seven candidates for governor and lieutenant governor into his office to sign what he called a "Unity Pledge." The pledge was to run a clean race, refrain from attacking each other, and to support whoever eventually wins the Democratic Primary, whether on May 22, or in the sometime-later Run-Off (itself an example of the legislature failing to come to grips with local governments' economic realities, forcing about 40% of the costs of the run-off, by some estimated at $3,000,000.00, onto the 120 County Clerks and Fiscal Courts across the Commonwealth).

So, at a debate in Frankfort last night, the guy I am supporting, Jonathan Miller, decided to violate the pledge. He went after W. Bruce Lunsford and his so-called "Blueprint," a blueprint that apparently wasn't his, but rather was that of Jim Davis, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in Florida in 2006. Miller accused his opponent of plagiarism. There is strong evidence supporting Miller's accusation given that more than a few of the paragraphs in Lunsford's "Blueprint" are copied, word-for-word, comma-for-comma, from Davis'. Joe Biden had a problem like this once although I don't think he built his entire presidential camapign around someone else's work, as apparently Lunsford has done.

The question has become if the ideas are good ideas which have not been tried in Kentucky, but should be assuming they have merit, shouldn't it be okay for a politician to introduce those same ideas into the discussion? I think the answer to that is yes, it is okay to introduce those ideas. Rewrite them as your own, in your own words, or copy them verbatim (as Lunsford did) and then cite to a source, such as the "Jim Davis' 2006 Campaign for Governor of Florida," or something like that (as Lunsford did not). Of course, we do not know the merits of such a plan as Mr. Davis never became Governor Davis. As such, they are only ideas (or blueprints) whose mettle is yet untested - unless of course Mr. Davis lifted them from some successful gubernatorial campaign in yet another state, where they have indeed been tried and determined successful.

Truthfully, many of those of us who were there the day the Chair rolled the Unity Pledge out, with all fourteen in attendance at one point or another, were not quite sure such a commitment could be met, but the intentions were noble if nothing else. Of course, as the Chair has a number of detractors across the state, at least amongst the politically active, some of those doubted the true intentions of the Chair from the beginning, saying he was only trying to protect those who might be favorable toward him a new administration. They would be Lunsford, Henry, or Richards, all of whom have baggage in some peoples' eyes, some more than others. I'll add here that Henry and Richards are both friends of mine, Henry especially so. Whether this is the case or not, I think the Chair's idea was a good one, especially the part about Democrats coming together in the fall to support the Democratic nominee in their race against the Republican nominee, who at this point, will likely be the incumbent Ernie Fletcher, who when elected in 2003 was the first Republican since Louie B. Nunn was elected in 1967 to make it to the Governor's Mansion.

For the record, it is my intent to do this fall what the Chair asked of the candidates - that is to support whoever the nominee is, even if it is Otis "Bullman" Hensley, who is it most unlikely to be.

Changing gears, kind of, this weekend I will be going down into Otis "Bullman" Hensley's territory, to Pikeville (one of the proverbial four corners of the Commonwealth, most often heard in the expression "From Maysville to Mayfield and Pikeville to Paducah"), stopping in West Liberty along the way to see a friend. Pikeville hosts the Hillbilly Days Festival at several venues, including Main Street (the same Main Street written about in the last entry, where US 23, US 119, US 460, and KY 80 all share the roadway) for the 31st year, dating back to my senior year of high school at Durrett. I've been a few times over the years and am looking forward to it, although I will only be there on Saturday for the end of it. It starts today in the City Park and runs through Saturday evening. The big event is the parade at 2pm on Saturday, which starts at the Library on the south side of the winding town and ends at the Social Security office on the northside. It is a pretty sure bet that all those at last night's debate in Frankfort will be found somewhere along the parade route Saturday in Pikeville.

Thankfully, the Primary - at least the pre Run-Off Primary - is about 5 weeks away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

84. The road to Blacksburg from Louisville

In the immediate past entry on Sunday, I mentioned the deadly tornadoes of April 3, 1974, and the 31 people killed by the storm in Brandenburg, Kentucky. I also mentioned the meandering Indiana State Road 62. In talking about SR 62, I did not mention that it was formerly co-numbered (or multiplexed) with US 460, starting along West Main Street and the Corydon Pike in New Albany then heading to the Illinois state line. Heading east from New Albany, US 460 continued to follow the old route of IN 62 through Spring Street into Clarksville and Jeffersonville, crossing over into Louisville on the Clark Memorial (or Second Street) Bridge. From downtown, it followed Main and Story up to Frankfort Avenue, where, along with US 60, it headed east to Frankfort along the route known since the 1800s as the Midland Trail. Since the opening of Interstate 64, from Frankfort west to Saint Louis, Missouri, the US 460 designation was dropped between those two cities.

The current western terminus of US 460 is in Frankfort at the intersection of East Main Street and Versailles Road, near the Elkhorn Middle School. From there east, US 460 is basically a narrow winding two-lane court house road, connecting the various county seats such as Georgetown, West Liberty, and Salyersville to Pikeville. In the area around Pikeville, it shares the (at this point four-lane) road with several other highway numbers including the long southern route across the Commonwealth of KY 80, Kentucky's lengthiest highway route.

Southeast of Pikeville, it heads to the Kentucky/Virginia State line, around the north and east sides of the Breaks Interstate Park, where Virginia Republican George Allen managed, in one word (Macaca), to lose his race for the United States Senate to Democrat Jim Webb. That last section in Kentucky is undergoing an incredible rebuilding, with some of the new road literally up on stilts while other parts have dramatically widened the valleys below into four lanes with sidelanes, center medians, and service roads.

Upon entering Virginia, US 460 is for the most part a four line divided highway. As in Kentucky, it moves through the mountainous county seat villages like Grundy and Tazewell. Briefly, it crosses north, riding along a high ridge, into Bluefield, West Virginia. Upon crossing south back into Virginia, it crosses the Brush Mountains before heading down into Radford, a small college town in the New River valley. Between Radford, and the next largest city, Roanoke, following northeast and downstream along the New River, lays the town of Blacksburg, Virginia, population about 39,000, of whom about 24,000 are students at the Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State College, much better known as Virginia Tech.

The news from Virginia Tech is inexplicably sad and tragic. Yesterday, the lives of 32 (maybe 33) people were lost at the hands of at least one gunman, a nineteen year old who took his own life in the massacre. There is nothing more I can add here. I've taken you on the trip to Blacksburg. Where it leads from here I do not know. Despite knowing no one there or even remotely associated with either the college or its surrounding community, I am deeply saddened, as most people are. I do not handle such tragedies well. I try to envelope them in territory which is more familiar. I've been to Blacksburg and to the college, although not in a long time. I have no words except those of consolation and sorrow. May the Souls of those departed Rest In Peace. And for those who remain, only prayers of support can be offered. And they are.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

83. The Short Square Route

Spring seems to have finally sprung today. The temperature has climbed into the low 50s after some cold winds, heavy rains, and more than a few hailstones in the last week. They say it is snowing bigtime in New England, a late and rare 'noreaster that has made its way across the country, leaving a lot of snow and considerable damage in its path.

Today also marks the birthday of my friend Anthony Chandler, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville. I haven't seen Fr. Chandler in the last few years. He was pastor of my church in the 1990s when we undertook to build our new building, a monstrous cathedral of a place set along Poplar Level Road in the Camp Taylor neighborhood. Starting today, and for the next five months and a week, Father and I are the same age. Alas, come September, I will age another year. I suppose it is always good to have a birthday. Those who don't have birthdays - well they don't have birthdays. That isn't good. I always remember a line spoken to me at the visitation of Jim Reddington's father. Jim, who has since died himself, was a big burly guy, a rough and tumble politician. People were remarking that his father "was better off where he is now." Jim's response was, "Well, everytime he went on a vacation, I got a postcard saying, 'Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.' " Jim said he hadn't yet received one of those, so he wasn't sure if the old man was better off or not. Not the most respectful comment said over the body of your deceased father, but also not out of character for Jim Reddington. Jim himself is buried in Calvary Cemetery, where my uncle Don is also interred, and where someday my father will be laid to rest.

On a brighter note, as the weather improves, I will once again be taking to the roadways to visit old haunts and find some new ones. I had planned to do some politically related travelling this weekend (to Elizabethtown and Madisonville) but didn't. As a consolation, I made one of my "short" tours last night, a square-like route I've made many times mostly as a form of relaxation. The trips heads out of Louisville west on I-64 to Corydon, a quaint little burg about 20 miles away in that direction. Corydon was home to the late Governor of Indiana, Frank O' Bannon, who operated the town newspaper before his entry into politics. After his death, a nearby state park, Wyandotte Woods, was renamed in his memory. It is home to the first capital of Indiana, a structure still standing along the main north-south street in the town, appropriately called Capital Avenue, and numbered in Indiana's highway system as State Road 337. For one block, between Walnut and Chestnut streets, Capital Avenue also carries the designation of State Road 62, a meandering highway which runs along the southern border of Indiana, from Dillsboro in the east to the Wabash River west of Evansville, where it crosses over into Illinois. SR 62 in the Louisville area now runs along I-265 between E. Tenth Street in Jeffersonville west to I-64 in Floyds Knobs. At one time the eastbound route proceded down the hill along I-64 from Edwardsville into New Albany, where the sign for Exit #123 still reads "East _____" with the blank representing where the old "62" sign used to be. But, I digress.

After reaching Corydon on my short square-shaped drive, I head south along IN 135, a very well built and wide highway connecting Corydon toward the south with KY 79, a highway previously discussed several entries back which ends in the southern (in more ways than one) Kentucky town of Russellville. Along IN 135, one passes the Squire Boone Caverns, which are about three miles east off of the highway. Boone is the brother of Daniel Boone. Upon his death in 1815, Squire Boone was buried in the cave, on land where he made his final home. Rumors persist that Boone's remains were at a later date removed from the cave and reburied on the farm of his youngest son, Enoch Boone, which was located on property that is now a part of the Fort Knox Military Reservation in Kentucky.

South of here, the road rides down toward Mauckport, a very small hamlet along the northern bank of the Ohio River. You have to depart IN 135 and go down the hill along IN 11 to get to Mauckport, which at one time was a thriving riverport, but today is probably home to no more than 75 people at the most. The bridge crossing from Mauckport, Indiana in Harrison County into Brandenburg, Kentucky in Meade County, where IN 135 becomes KY 79, is named for Matthew E. Welch, a governor of Indiana who served in the 1960s. Entering Kentucky, one is already at a considerable altitude above the river below. At the top of the hill, the highway intersects KY 228, although the intersection is not lit at all and is very poorly marked. To the left, 228 leads into Brandenburg. To the right, 228 follows the bends of the Ohio River to the community of Battletown and further to an area known as Big Bend. I have relations on my father's mother's mother's side (the Antle and Prince families) who have kinfolk buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery along Big Bend Road. A little known piece of trivia concerns this extended shoreline of the Ohio River, which serves as the northern border of the entire county. At fifty-six miles, Meade County has more river shoreline than any other county in the Commonwealth.

As I said above, the city of Brandenburg is located to the east of KY 79 along KY 228. One of the most breathtaking views of the Ohio river is along this route, called Lawrence Street at this point. The town itself once had its business district along Main Street, which ends at the river, literally going several feet out into the water. It is the only "Main Street" in the state which ends in the river. Main Street itself, along with the Court House and most of the business district, was wiped out in the April 3, 1974 tornadoes, which hit many cities in the south including Louisville. But tiny Brandenburg was hardest hit, losing 31 lives in the storm. May their souls Rest In Peace.

Leaving Brandenburg, one heads east along KY 1638, the road to Muldraugh. Along the way, the Doe Run Inn, an old historic roadhouse and restaurant is a few miles to the south. A few miles to the north is the 2000 plus acre Otter Creek Park, a property owned by the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Parks Department. Muldraugh itself is a long narrow town just outside of Fort Knox on Dixie Highway, numbered as US 31W-US 60. Going north down the hill from Muldraugh to West Point, one enters into Hardin County. West Point is an old river town. Up on the hill to the east of West Point is the earthworks of the old Fort Duffield, a lookout point during the Civil War, constructed by Union forces to protect Louisville, about 25 miles north of here. Hardin County and Jefferson County are divided by the Salt River, which empties into the Ohio at this point. There is a sign as one crosses the river proclaiming "Welcome to Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, 16th largest city on America." The next sign one sees in a mileage sign, saying "Louisville, 27." There is something wrong with this picture.

The trip back home is mostly non-descript. Dixie Highway, of course, will take you all the way to Broadway, should you choose that route. I usually depart it and travel the Snyder Freeway back to I-65, and I-65 back to the real Louisville, not the imaginary Louisville-Jefferson County Metro one enters upon crossing the Salt River at West Point.

Friday, April 13, 2007

82. Candidates and Clubs - and a Look Forward to 2008

Okay, I will admit it. I've been seriously slacking. I apologize. While I've been taking it easy, the Kentucky Governor's race seems to have seriously gotten underway. Debates are being held, commercials are running, and no one has any true idea who might be the Democratic Party's nominee when the dust settles. On the Republican side, it seems Governor Fletcher will have an easier-than-expected time getting his Party's nomination.

As you can tell from the pictures in the side panel, I am supporting Kentucky's two-term State Treasurer Jonathan Miller and his running mate, long-time Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze. Their campaign is beginning to take off as they have now launched their third television spot, the first one being generally panned, the second one considerably better. I've not yet seen the third, but I understand it began airing today. And I may as well add here I am also supporting some folks in the down-ballot races. I've included a picture of MaDonna White, the Daymar College professor who is seeking the office of Secretary of State. I hope you will go to her website and learn more about her. I stated early on that I was for Crit Luallen, who is unopposed in her campaign for re-election as Kentucky State Auditor. My long-time friend Jack Conway is running for Attorney General, after having given some thought to some other offices. Jack's campaign is staffed by several friends (Will Carle and Morgan McGarvey come to mind) who I know will work to make sure he is elected to that post; I also know (and know that Will and Morgan also know) that in politics nothing should be taken for granted. Four years ago, the Republicans took Tim Feeley - a good man - for granted, assuming he would be nominated as their candidate for Attorney General. He wasn't; Jack Wood of Valley Station was. This time Wood is running as a Democrat. Democratic primary voters should look toward Todd Hollenbach or Mike Weaver in this race. Todd is a friend of long standing, back to when we were teenagers and his election as State Treasurer would be a plus for Kentucky. As to the Commissioner of Agriculture race, I know as much about that as, say, Richie Farmer does. Not a whole lot. I do know the Neville guy from Pleasureville has been making appearances around the state, and listening to him, using "agriculture-type words," I am pretty sure I'll be filling in the little oval next to his name when I go to vote a month and a nine days from now.

I found out today that when I do go vote, it will not be where I expected it to be. As some of you know, I moved back at the turn of the year and duly re-registered at my new address. I received a card from the Jefferson County Clerk's Office stating my poll was at the Cabel Baptist Church on S. Wenzel Street. I found out today that it has been moved and I will now be voting at the Phoenix Place Apartments Clubhouse, which is far more convenient for me. I called the County Clerk's office to ask if they were going to notify the voters in the precinct of this change and was told that yes, we would be notifed by mail at some point soon. I hope they do it before May 22nd. Having said that, I will say that while our Jefferson County Clerk is a Republican, I know her to be a very nice person and it is my belief that elections in Jefferson County are efficiently ran and the votes are counted in a most honest manner. Both political parties are represented by true public servants in that office and we are very fortunate for the job they do.

But, back to the governor's race - sort of. Last night I hosted, along with Patrick Mulvihill and Lisa Tanner, a small (and very successful, according to those in the know) fundraiser for the Miller-Maze ticket. The event was held at the All Wool and A Yard Wide Democratic Club in Schnitzelburg on Hickory Street. I've been a member of that particular club for many years. If you want a flavor of how old-style city Democratic Clubs were, you can get no better picture than the All Wool Club. To my knowledge, it is the only club in Louisville with its own building, a two-story property it has owned for several generations. The club also owns the residence next door and uses the rent income for its political and charitable purposes. Many years ago, the Mose Green Democratic Club (another interesting name) had its own hall in the Crescent Hill area at the corner of Lindsay and Hite avenues. I can remember back in the mid 1980s when I ran for a seat on the Jefferson County Fiscal Court campaigning at the old Mose Green. The Mose Green was most well known for its annual Saint Patrick's Day Ball, which attracted hundreds of people. The ball fizzled out in the early 1980s.

As a little kid, my grandmother would take me to the Grassroots Democratic Club, which in the 1960s and 1970s met at the Silver Palms Club on Third Street Road, just a little north of where the Outer Loop ends. The club was some sort of private operation, an inexpensive country club of sorts, housed in a big Bedford stone house if my memory recalls it correctly. In the back yard was a huge swimming pool which I can remember playing in as a kid. The only other pool I ever played in was at the Nelson Hornbeck Park on Fairdale Road in Fairdale. It was there I took swimming lessons and learned how to do a cannonball, but that is another story. The leaders of the Grassroots back then were Eugene Drago and Al Bennett. Others from the area were Archie Romines, Lloyd somebody (who lived on Mason Lane in Fairdale), and some other women from Fairdale, Auburndale, and other parts of southwestern Jefferson County. The Silver Palms Club is no longer in existence, while the Grassroots Club lives on, now meeting at the Dixie Bowl in Valley Station. Messrs. Drago and Bennett are still active, still working hard to elect Democrats and their presence in the Valley Station/Stonestreet Road area was helpful last year in John Yarmuth's race for Congress. Both provided insights and, importantly, yard sign locations in the southwestern part of the county, locations which showed some of the more timid of voters from that part of the county that it was okay to be for Yarmuth.

The next Democratic club in my history was the old 45th Democratic Club, later renamed the Heart of Okolona club, and later still the Heart of Jefferson Club. Control of the club was wrested back and forth between the two factions which long controlled Okolona, with Bill "Fibber" McGee, Ed Louden, and Mitch from the Thomas Rock Quarry on one side, and Dottie Priddy, Carolyn Beauchamp, Mildred Shumate, and my grandmother Tommie Hockensmith, on the other. That was back before the Republicans had made any inroads in the area, inroads I might add which have in the last three or four years become less travelled as Okolona's working class voting population has moved back toward the center, and some even a little left. The Club met at the old Okolona Women's Club, then located on the old Neblett property, behind the old Okolona Fire House, on Blue Lick Road. The old firehouse now serves as the Wilderness Road Senior Citizens Center; the old Women's Club building, along with the old Okolona Little League surrounding it, were all town down to make way for the new Home Depot, on Preston Highway, just past Blue Lick Road. I served as Recording Secretary of the club when I was 19. It was the same year I ran and won a seat on the Louisville-Jefferson Democratic Party Executive Committee.

I mentioned that race in my introductory speech of Irv Maze last night at the All Wool Club. Irv also won a seat that year on the County Executive Committee, his race being won by 6/1000ths of a vote, back when LD races were hotly contested. I have a feeling they will be again in 2008, but in that, I digress. My speech was preceded by one from Pat Mulvihill, one of the assistant County Attorneys with whom I work. I've known Patrick since he was 11 or 12 years old and a little league ballplayer at the Germantown Little League, which plays down in the bottomland south of and owned by the Xaverian Brothers and their institute of secondary education, Saint Xavier High School on Poplar Level Road. In one of the first political races in which I took a leadership role, Patrick was then the son of our opponent, former Alderwoman Mary Margaret Mulvihill, who served in that capacity for six years before being defeated by Cyril Allgeier by 37 votes in the 1981 Democratic Primary, in Allgeier's third try against her for the office. I learned a lot in that race from leaders in both campaigns, although I didn't always admit to it. Over the years, Mary Margaret and I weren't close politically, although her views ideologically were much closer to mine than were Allgeier's, who I helped to elect to ten consecutive terms as alderman and one on the new so-called Merged government of Louisville and Jefferson County, the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. Ironically, in his last run for office, Mary Margaret was again his opponent. She and I had to a degree made up in those later years, and in 2000, she and Patrick, and their supporters and mine, helped elect me as Chair of the 35th LD and Mary Margaret as Vice Chair. Patrick now serves as 35th LD Chair.

In another instance of supporters of previous year's opponents working together, the third host of this party last night at the All Wool and A Yard Wide Democratic Club was Lisa Tanner. Lisa is a relative newcomer to Louisville politics. She emerged from the 2004 presidential race and in 2006 played a prominent role in the Primary effort of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne in his race against John Yarmuth, who I supported, and for whom I later worked. Lisa went from Horne's campaign to the broader role of being one of the leaders of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party's efforts last fall of identifying voters and their issues and the subsequent follow-up of getting those supportive of our Party to the polls on Election Day. If you've attended any Party events in Louisville in the last year, you may have also heard her strong rendention of the Star Spangled Banner. She currently serves as president of the Louisville Young Democrats and is getting active in the 35th LD structure, where, again, I once served as Chair and Patrick currently serves in that same role.

I write all this about old opponents being new friends to make the point that in politics, especially Party politics, one must be concerned about which bridges one chooses to burn during a campaign cycle and which ones one chooses to maintain. At the end of my work in the Yarmuth campaign, my ablest worker, Ben Basil, asked me what political secret I might impart to him as he begins what promises to be a long career in political work. My answer was simple. Don't burn bridges, don't hold grudges. Always move on to the next cycle. There will be folks against you this year who you will need next year. Be happy about it. It isn't advice I always followed myself and I now honestly wish I had of. But it is advice. Other than the quadrennial layoff of elections in the year following a presidential race, Kentucky's calendar promises an election every six months. Some years there are more than that. In 2006, not only did we have a Primary and a General, but we also had Special Elections in Louisville's South End to fill vacancies in a House seat and a Senate seat. Those Special Elections were precursors to our successes in the fall.

Once we get through this Primary, and it's nearly inevitable runoff in late June, it is imperative that Democrats stand together by our duly chosen nominees as we move toward November. Winning in November 2007 is the best avenue we can take to insert and assert Kentucky's role in strengthening the Democratic Party's control of the United States House and Senate, and the ultimate prize of winning the White House.

Winning this November will make it a little more possible to do what some think is the impossible - defeating Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader of the United States Senate in next November's election. There has been discussion about who might seek such an office. Names are mentioned here and there, prominent among them the current 6th District member of Congress, A. B. "Ben" Chandler, III. But I think Ben's abdicacy of the House seat is unlikely. Some people look to the current crop of candidates seeking either the #1 or #2 spot this year. Let's look at that briefly.

One of the reasons I've felt Attorney General Greg Stumbo signed on with Bruce Lunsford was the opportunity it afforded him to campaign for either U. S. Senator Jim Bunning's seat or Congressman Harold Rogers House seat - and to do all that electioneering, especially in the 5th CD, on Bruce Lunsford's dime - or dollar, as it is. It isn't such a bad strategy. Congressman Rogers can not be nearly as happy in a House (thankfully) controlled by Democrats, especially with Congressman Yarmuth nudging Congressman Chandler a little more to the left than he has previously been - Rogers may be thinking the time has come to call it a game, especially if the Democrats follow their 2006 successes with a 2007 gubernatorial seat in Kentucky. I think Stumbo would be a shoe-in for the 5th CD, whether he is a sitting lieutenant governor or not. As such, Greg isn't likely to be a candidate against Senator McConnell. As to when, if ever, Senator Bunning determines to call it a game is up in the air. The junior senator seems determined to continue his ever-decreasing role in America's legislative affairs, but hopefully he will give it up sooner rather than later, and hopefully before 2010, when his term is next up.

But on McConnell. It goes without saying that defeating Senator McConnell will be neither easy nor cheap. As Senate Minority Leader he is so completely tied to the president and his policies, that he must be considered vulnerable, even in Kentucky where Bush still has pockets of support. Whoever the Democrats run has to start with enough money to get the DSCC's attention. I can not think of too many Democrats with the personally-deep pockets to do that, other than Charlie Owen, or maybe Bruce Lunsford, or to a lesser extent Steve Henry. I don't think the aforementioned Lieutenant Colonel Horne, whose name has been mentioned as a potential McConnell opponent, has this sort of cache of cash available, but I could be wrong. Excluding Horne then, of the three, the possibility exists that one of them might be governor, while one or two of them might have just lost a Primary and/or the General Election, or both. That leaves the very affable and quite wealthy Mr. Owen.

I am hopeful that Charlie decides to make this race and decides soon. But, if he does, he will have to commit early to his campaign some huge amount of his personal wealth if he is to down-the-line be in the position to raise additionally huge sums of money both within and beyond the Commonwealth's borders. No one likes to have people tell them how to spend their money, but if Owen wants to run, that has to happen.

I am not aware if Owen is a liberal, a progressive, a libertarian, a conservative, or a strictly law and order ideologue. I do know this. The bottom line is he is a Democrat and Mitch McConnell isn't, and at this point that is enough.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

81. Proposed trips along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Two days ago the president called on the Congress to come to his terms on immigration, something more than a few are not willing to do, but more are willing than in the last Congress, when it was controlled by members of the president's own Party. Yesterday, the president switched gears again and returned the discussion to the War in Iraq, the one he is personally losing, calling on members of the Congress to join him at the White House to discuss moving along his proposals to fund the current situation. His invitation comes with the proviso there will be no negotiation; that is to say he will not entertain the inclusion of a pullout date as part of this invitation. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, said his terms are not good enough.

Nonetheless it is likely whoever the president invited over for a chat will make the trek northwestwardly along Pennsylvania Avenue down from the Hill along the sixteen-plus blocks, then up a very slight rise to the Executive Mansion. Ironically, one of the first points of interest the delegation will pass on the way to chat with the president about War is the Peace Monument, which sits out in the front yard of the Capitol building at First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on the northwest side. It has been out there since 1878, originally erected as a memorial to the Navy casualties of the United States Civil War, sometimes still referred to in the south as the War of Northern Aggression. There are monuments to presidents Garfield and Grant in the same area of the Capital's front yard, to the right, or south (as you are facing the Hill) of the Peace Monument.

President Garfield's is in the southwest side of the Peace Park. Early in the Civil War, President Garfield was a member of the Ohio Vounteer Infantry, which saw action here in the Commonwealth in late 1861 and early 1862, marching his batallions against the Confederacy along what is now US 23 between Catlettsburg and Prestonsburg, with battles in Paintsville and Prestonsburg taking place before the Confederate troops withdrew back toward Virginia. Garfield was promoted to Brigadier General because of his efforts in Kentucky.

The monument for President Grant, as I recall, is down at the bottom of the hill, dramatically and directly in front of the Capitol building; I suppose, technically it is on The Mall. It is of a later date than the other two. We discussed in an earlier blog-entry President Grant's involvement in southwestern Kentucky as part of his duties in the Civil War. Grant was already a Brigadier General when he led forces at the Battle of Belmont along the Mississippi River, opposite of Columbus, where KY 80 dead ends into the river. While it was not a great victory, it was one of the first in his career (November 7, 1861), and one which caught President Abraham Lincoln's eye. We all know Grant went on to lead the entire United States Army and was, like Garfield, later elected president by a country which has had a history of rewarding its war leaders with the country's top post.

Of course, there will never be a monument erected to the current Commander-In-Chief, whose military exploits never got him outside of Texas or Alabama, and then only to campaign for a friend of his then-Congressman father. To be fair, I think neither Speaker Pelosi nor Senator Reid have military credentials of their own, either.

In the next few months, there are likely to be several trips up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, although more are expected from the Congress northwest than from the White House southeast, as the president - and most of his administration - have adopted a no-compromise stance on most everything, a rather arrogant way of using one's political capital. Eventually, the parties from the two ends of Washington's central axis of power must fund the troops in Iraq, with or without a pull-out date. That is not only a political reality, but a moral one, given that we put them there in the first place by the original war vote now several years ago. The president knows he has the upper hand in this matter. But he must also realize that future appropriations may be in jeopardy if he does not arrive at some degree of compromise, one where both the administration and the Congress can save face and move on to the next stage of governing the Republic. Neither truly wants the Constitutional showdown waiting in the wings, as both have problems from their positions. The president can not legally spend any money not authorized by a vote of the Congress, outside of some internal movement of money from one already-existing appropriation to another. Those caches will run out sooner rather than later. At the other end, while the Congress can pay for a war, it does not have the power to conduct one. The title Commander-In-Chief applies to one and only one person, and in this case, his name is George W. Bush.

How long must we wait? In all honesty, probably through another cycle of federal elections. That means January, 2009. That is also the month President Bush is scheduled to vacate both the Oval Office and the bully pulpit he has been occupying since his first election, by a 5 to 4 vote, back in 2001. My father and I have had a comical but grave discussion about the possibility of Bush declaring he isn't willing to leave, due to some dire circumstances in which such a change-of-command might put the Republic. He may declare he can't leave - there may even be some provision somewhere in the not-fully-read but hastily-passed Patriot Act allowing him to remain under some special section having to do with a country at war with no end in sight. It isn't beyond the imagination in the current state of affairs. The president believes that he is the sole controller of the government. Until we the people voted last November, that statement was the de facto truth. But the elections of people like John Yarmuth and Baron Hill, and others across the nation changed that. Until a few more changes are made in the country's representation both in the House and the Senate, we still have our work cut out for us.

So, the journeys begin and will continue, up and down the grandest boulevard in the nation, Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Six hundred forty-nine days remain in the term of the current junta controlling the residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D. C. Redemption draweth nigh.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

80. Ramblings along a wall.

Shortly after the 43rd best president America ever had delivered his State of the Union address in January, I blogged about him going where a lot of pundits thought he wouldn't in the speech - to the Iraq War and foreign policy in general. The president wandered into troubled waters, explaining his cause to an American public bent on doubting the validity of our purposes in Iraq, unsure that the president has any sort of real plan of either victory or withdrawal, and unwilling to accept whatever it is he might have to say on the matter. Nonetheless he made his case and in my blog writing, I gave him due credit for having done so, all the time not having any faith in the case he was making.

Today he wanders in again, this time a return to immigration, another topic on which he is further removed from the American public than many in his Party, or for that matter, many in mine. But on the subject of immigration, the president and I have some limited areas of agreement. We both agree that the current system is broke and needs fixing. We both agree on a guest-worker program. We both agree we must find some workable way to enrol those already here as Americans, although I am far more committed to this than he is. He is probably more keenly aware than I am that a number of latinos have moved their political pursuasions somewhat toward the center and away from the Republican Party. On the whole, many latinos remain socially conservative and relgiously active, either in the Iglesia Catolica or in the newer Iglesia Baptista Evangelica, the evangelistic fundamentalist Baptist sect which in recent years have reached out to latinos in great numbers. Despite their social and religious conservatism, latinos are voting in greater number on the Left Side of the Aisle as opposed to the Dark Side.

The president sees a new policy on immigration, among other things, as a political tool to pull latinos back into the Republican political fold. I see immigration policy as a manifestation of the true practice of Christianity to reach out to those less fortunate, the idea of "love thy neighbor," to do for those who are the least among us as we would do unto Christ. Well, that is one idea. My practice of acceptance of latinos and others of foreign blood isn't honestly based in Christian compassion, but it does help that Jesus and I agree on the need to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us." The religious aspect is only one part of my belief that the border separating Mexico from the United States should be simply that, a border, not a Wall. I do not believe in walls.

On this matter, the president has in recent days swung back to the right. He is stepping up border patrols and intends to do so even more. Over the weekend an article ran in the Courier-Journal about Kentucky National Guard troops doing their duty patrolling the Wall at Nogales. One person spoke of it as pretecting against the invasion of our country, as if these Mexicans crossing over into our Republic looking for work have the same malicious intent as the terroristic followers of Osama Ben Laden did in bringing about the events of September 11. I understand the man is just doing his job, but the equation of one to another left me both sad and upset. The truth is, these folks are for the most part willing economic refugees who have found the "Well that Never Runs Dry" in America, in part because they will work for wages below what most Americans are willing to accept. Now, whose fault is that? Right now, today, there are Mexicans installing the roof at a location near to where I live. I wandered by there yesterday afternoon and spoke to one of those who was on the ground, as opposed to up on the roof. In my best really-bad Spanish, I said hello, asked him about his work and wished him well. He was happy to have someone to speak to other than one of the three others in his work crew. I learned he was 23, had been in Louisville about three months, and had been working all this year on various roofing projects. I said good bye. I do not know if he is here legally or not. I do not know if he is using a fake social security card or not - although if he is, and if he is also illegal, he is in a way helping to support a system he will never be able to draw from, unlike the president and the Congress who draw from that bank of money all the time, usually without notice or care of the legitimate American taxpayers who have paid into it. And mostly what I know is that he is working on that particular job because someone else isn't willing to. That's how he has the job. It is available.

Ok. At this point I am going to stop. I am getting all worked up. I'll revisit this subject again - it is important to me. How important is it to you?

Monday, April 9, 2007

79. Land of the Free and Home of the Brave? Are we brave enough for a Rebellion?

One of the litmus tests I have for people I will wholeheartedly support for office, as opposed to those I just prefer, are politicians who make a point of not saying they can do whatever it is they want to do without raising taxes. The beneficiaries of my greatest support are those who leave open the door that a time may arise for a need of additional revenue; revenue enhancement was the euphemism used by President Reagan. Anyone who gives in to the notion that a government serving more and more people can function on less and less money is simply following the current whims of a generation raised in the post-Proposition 13/Ronald Reagan era which presupposes without adequate information that, as the Great Communicator proclaimed on the day he first took office as Commander-In-Chief, "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Having such a litmus test in these times greatly reduces the number of folks I can wholeheartedly support, as very few politicans will admit to such a belief. But one can always hope. Optimism is a great virtue.

So, is government always the problem? Is there a proper role for government, and is there a proper role for a government which expands as the population it serves expands? For those who believe President Reagan's admonishment of government as the problem, I beg to differ. And to beg to differ requires to further beg that the government operating of reduced funds while serving a larger populace is not a better government. A government operating on the idea that "that government which governs best governs least," given us by Thomas Paine, doesn't necessarily mean such a government should be reduced to as little spending as possible. Paine's thought differs from the former president in that Paine does not call the government a problem, but rather suggests that it work to get its job done more efficiently. But Paine also gave us a lesser known quote on the same subject, "Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it."

Support of the government from those reaping benefits can only happen through appropriate taxation. That is a strong statement such that taxes are not the overpowering evils that Grover Norquist, Harold Jarvis, Paul Gann, and others make them out to be. I understand that for many of these folks, one of their concerns about an overabundant treasury is that some of the money will be ill-spent or even not spent at all and rather will end up in the pockets of those for whom it was not intended (often those empowered with the direction of particular programs). I do not fault them for such a supposition as we all know these things have happened and are likely to again. But such misdeeds by agents of the government does not remove the burden of the government to promote, as the Preamble of the United States Constituiton so states, the "general welfare of the people," as well as to "insure doemstic tranquility." These are not suggestions; these are absolute directives from the so-called Rule Book of our Republic.

What then qualifies as ensuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare of the people? Is it the interstate highway system which connects all of us to each other geophysically? Is it the women and men who serve in the armed forces of our Republic, defending our freedoms at home and abroad? Is it the idea that Americans deserve clean water to drink and clean air to breathe? Is it a National Parks System providing for needed respites from everyday life? Is it a government of laws which helps businesses to prosper and thus help find good and enjoyable employment for our citizens? It is all of these things, of course. But it is also the idea that all of us (a plurality of beings) have responsibility for the country as a whole (a singular entity); "E Pluribus Unum," the national motto which in Latin reads, "Out of many, one."

This national motto was adopted in 1776 and again in 1782. It served as the official primary motto of the country until 1956 when "In God We Trust" superceded it in the United States Code. It remains an offical motto, just not the official motto. We have two other mottoes, "Annuit Coeptis" and "Novus Ordo Sedorum," both also adopted in 1782 with "E Pluribus Unum." They are translated, respectively, as "The beginning is approved" and "A New Order of the Ages." The "E Pluribus Unum" motto pointed to the melting pot of the thirteen original colonies and to make such a point has a total of thirteen letter making one statement. In those earliest of days most of the colonists were all white northern Europeans. But they came from different faiths, different cultures, both rural and urban, and more than a few criminals. In this new place, they were one, "Americans." That the states joined together in federation indicated they were willing to live under a federal system of laws, laws to be passed by a Congress with two types of representation, the House being elected with respect to the population of a district against the whole of the entire country thereby acknowledging that each person was of equal stature vis-a-vis each other, and a Senate elected with respect to the number of states in the whole acknowledging that each state, from the smallest to the greatest, was also of an equal stature vis-a-vis each other.

Do we as a nation still subscribe to that idea? I've always found it interesting that in English, the unoffical but predominant language of our country, the abbreviation for our country is [sometimes written] as US. In other languages, the abbreviation would be EE-UU, for Etats-Unis or Estados Unidos. I find "US" circumstantially auspicious. We all know the word "us" to mean a group of more than one which includes ourself. We, the people. It should be hoped that the "US" would consider all its people a part of the "us" that makes "US." But we don't. We have divisions as all large groups of people naturally do. We create divisions between men and women in the workplace, between young and old in how we care for people, between rich and poor in housing conditions, between the employed and those who aren't in healthcare, and between any numbers of peoples by the promotion of one religious set of beliefs over another in the form of federally supportive "faith based initiatives." We also allow states to pass laws which contravene the Constitutional guarantee in the full faith and credit clause. And while the United States government has no official language, 26 of the 50 states (as well as the US Virgin Islands) have adopted English as their sole offical language. Hawaii officially recognized two languages, English and Hawaiian, while several states have both English and Spanish as de facto languages, although not official ones. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, officially recognizes both Spanish and English.

The point here is that we are losing the "us" part of the "US." We are becoming a nation wherein each person is sovereign unto themself. We are moving from "E Pluribus Unum" to "E Unum Pluribus." But, there is hope. Hope always springs eternal. Our founding fathers provided for the potential overthrow of a majority of the congress every four years. It is amazing to think that a group of people, voters, can by their participation in the government change the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate every other November. We did it last year. By every fourth November, they can additionally change a second-third of the Senate and the Commander-In-Chief. Such a change would, over time, also change the third branch of government as deaths and retirements take their toll on the Supreme Court. Where other governments of the world sometimes require actual revolutions and blood-in-the-streets overthrows, ours is designed to have one built in every four to six years. We don't always have one every four to six years, but the potential is there. We did have one in 2006. Before that we had one (for the Republicans) in 1994. They do happen and they must continue to happen if our government is to evolve with the population it serves. We (that is "us") began such a revolution last November. It hasn't fully produced the changes many of us sought because the revolution is incomplete. It requires a second round, a round which will be held in 2008. Those of us who believe our government needs excessive change, starting with the removal of our troops from Iraq and encompassing a return to the rights and priveleges of the people as outlined in the United States Constitution, must be vigilant in seeing that the second round occurs to our satisfaction.

Last week I attended a meeting where Congressman Yarmuth orated on how the new Congress is attempting to address War in Iraq and the ending of America's occupation thereof. He urged patience. The Congress has sent its war-spending package to a committee to reconcile the House and Senate differences, whereupon once reconciled, the bill will be sent to the president, who has already promised a veto. Eventually a spending bill will be passed without the requisite removal of the troops because we simply do not have the votes to force the president to do that. What we do have the votes for are future appropriations. Sooner or later, a question of the Congress' Constitutional authority to conduct a war by virtue of it powers of appropriation will rise. The former, the conduct of a war, it lacks; the latter, the provision of money to conduct such a war, it has. This will be a summer of both education and conflict in the District of Columbia. It will be a very good test of the underpinning of our democratic republican form of government. We will survive it as we have survived other Constitutional crises, dating back to the earliest of our history.

But it will all be made easier by additional participation in the most basic of our country's built-in abilities of self-governance, the election of its officers to the House and Senate and the Presidency. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. That sentence is also from Reagan's first inaugural speech over twenty-six years ago. Right now the elite group controlling the government, as opposed to the government "of, by, and for the people," are those who vote every time there is an opportunity. And while their collective minds have moved to the left, there is (as my elementary schools teachers invariably reported on my report cards) "room for additional improvement."

I urge you to be involved in elections. Seek out those who pass your own individual litmus tests. We all have them to some degree. And be prepared not just for this election in 2007, but the federal one coming up in 2008. Always be vigilant. Every federal election is a potential overthrow of the government. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison dated January 30, 1787, before either of them became president, suggested,

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

We've all heard or read this quote before, but rarely do we hear the whole thing. The last line on the sound health of government is our charge. To keep the government healthy, a little rebellion in the form of voting some of the "ins" out is a good thing. (They'll have an "R" behind their names). Be sure to do your part.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

78. Making the old rounds. Happy Easter.

I've lost some of the passion - reached a small plataeu of sorts, one which I've not found the words or feelings to overcome. Life here on the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606 has been in a bit of stasis as old seasons end and new ones begin.

Foremost in a lot of Kentuckians' minds might be the governor's race. Might be. The truth is more Kentuckians are probably waiting for Billy Donovan's decision than are paying attention to whatever Otis "Bullman" Hensley and Billy Harper have been talking about. Actually, I am sure of that last statement, as those are the bottom rungs in their respective political parties, Democratic and Republican. I haven't read anything from Harper lately, who is badly trailing the governor and Mrs. Northup, the defeated Congresswoman from Louisville, who is also badly trailing the governor, one poll having her nine points down from Ernie. On the Democratic side, where I cast my lot, the candidate I am supporting, State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, at 39 the youngest of the Democratic Seven, is not doing nearly as well as I would have hoped at this point, a short six weeks and five days from the election. A recent poll shows him twelve points shy of the co-leaders. As this is a Primary nomination, I am hopeful that efforts are forthcoming from Miller's campaign to reach out to the older and more traditional voters who show up every time there is an election. I am one of those.

Down the ballot, I am supporting MaDonna White in her race for Secretary of State. She is a college professor in Louisville and is one of my co-alumni, as we both are graduates of Durrett High School, formerly located in the building which since 1991 has housed Louisville Male High School. Here is a link to MaDonna's webpage where you can read more about her and volunteer to retake this constitutional office currently in the hands of the Dark Side of the Aisle.

MaDonna has some very good ideas intended to make the coming of the age of 18, where one can finally cast a ballot in November, as important for young people as is the magic numbers of 16 and 21, one for the acquisition of a driver's license, the other for the ability to flash that license and gain entry into a establishment which engages in the sale of liquor.

On the latter matter, many of those same 21-year olds, if they followed in the footsteps of those of us who went before them, have probably already entered such a place, and chances are pretty good they have already purchased their first "rum and cola" or whatever the drink de rigueur happen to be this week. As a pre-21 year old, I had a few regular hangouts, one on Preston Highway and the other on Poplar Level Road. As both establishments are now out of business and, with regard to the Poplar Level Road location, the proprietors have gone on to their eternal rewards, I can admit that, yes, I had a few beers before I was legally allowed to flash that driver's license for real. Back in those days, it was a practice in many places to give you a free beer on your 21st birthday. The day that occurred for me, I was in the hospital. Upon release from there, I took my hospital discharge papers and made the rounds, cashing in on the generosity of several of Louisville's barkeeps.

I started downtown with Mike at the old Decanter Lounge on Market Street, where the Cowger Garage is now. From there I went on down to the see Mama Zena at the old Zena's, also on Market, but now located on Main. Alas, Mama Zena is no longer with us. Over to Swan and Breckinridge, Big Jim Gravatte ran Gravatte's, where the real deal was a bowl of Chili. Then out to the Shelby Park neighborhood at Camp Street and East Ormsby and the Ormsby Cafe (or was it Mary's?), ran my Mary Meier, where one drank beer in an eight ounce glass. (As an aside, somewhere in my last-Election night revelry, while drinking Old Forester bourbon out of the same style of glass, I recall remembering doing the same at Mary's all those years ago). Mary is still alive; I saw her during the Lenten Fish Fry at Holy Family a few weeks ago. From Shelby Park, I headed over to Schnitzelburg, a subdivision of Germantown. I went to see Tony (now a postal carrier) at Check's Cafe in Germantown; then down Hickory Street to The Old Hickory where a Pinochle game was eternally being played in the front corner and Jim "Pop" Reddington was usually winning. My dad is a pinochle player, but he hung out over on Taylor Boulevard somewhere. Leaving the Old Hickory, one could stop in Flabby's and Huelsman's, both still operating along Hickory Street. Across from Hulesman's Cafe, at Hickory and Ash, is the All Wool and a Yard Wide Democratic Club, which is actually meeting tonight. They used to have summer Chicken Fries on Fridays in the summer. Next Thursday, I'll be having a "Beer and Brats, Hot Dogs and Cokes" fundraiser there ($25) for the Miller-Maze campaign, starting at 5:30 in the afternoon. But, I digress.

On out Poplar Level Road, I'd stop in Tim Tam, the old one not the current one, and play a game of pool. The pool table in the old bar was located right in the front room on Clark's Lane. The bar has since moved a few doors to the west, and the pool tables (now several) are located in the back. Over to Preston Street, I'd go in town a bit to the B&B Lounge, just north of the corner of S. Preston Street and E. Brandeis Avenue. Ed Garvey, Whitey Phelps, Dumps Miller, and Danny Meyer were all the old timers, usually engaged in a discussion of politics, and they were always willing to allow a young kid in on the conversation. I've tried to replicate that practice, always encouraging those younger than me to participate in the process, as someday they will be in charge, and truthfully, the sooner the better. Mr. Garvey was the Democratic Chair of the Board of Elections. Dumps was a state senator and his nephew Danny Meyer was first an alderman from the old City's Eighth Ward, and later a state senator in the old 38th District.

I'd leave the B&B and head out Preston Highway. First, there was Moore's Cafe, now gone. It was a huge place and the specialty was rolled oysters. Mazzoni's wasn't the only place in town with that tradition. If I remember right, Florence was the woman's name who made them. Spike and Beulah DuVall hung out in there. She was the secretary to the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation and he was a union leader. Both are gone. Further out Preston was Dattilos on the left and Kelly's Ice House a little off the road on the right. Dattilos had a bumper pool table and a foos-ball table. The Ice House was a tiny place where the beer bottles were shoved into mounds and mounds of crushed ice, the best way to keep beer cold. The game of the house at the Ice House was Uno, which was played atop a large horizontal box freezer. Down in the back, sometimes a skillet of chicken or fish might be fried up but there was no cost, only a donation to the cook, who actually cooked it on a skillet on an old barbecue grill outside. Quite a few of the guys I went to high school with hung out in there.

My trip was drawing to a close. My final stop was Four Sisters, a cafe located at Poplar Level Road and Mercer Avenue, next door to Holy Family Church. It was a combination restaurant on one side with a full service liquor store on the other. Originally ran by Mr. Joe Kayrouz, by the time I was of age, it was ran by his son Eddie, and daughters Hortense and Margaret. Hortense ran the liquor store, Eddie was the bartender, and Margaret was the cook. Margaret also kept the bar's money intake safely inside her amply sized bra where no one was about to get to it. The two other sisters (both still living) are Jemella and Mary. This was my hangout for many years, both before and after my 21st birthday. Many nights Eddie would leave a group of us playing cards and helping ourselves to beer by saying "I'm going upstairs (where he, Hortense, and Margaret all lived, as none had ever married) and going to bed." We'd leave our empty beer bottles on the counter along with the appropriate amount of money, and lock the back door on our way out.

Those were all fun times. But season's change. Today, the Louisville Bats open Baseball here at Slugger Field in Louisville, the city where the National Amateur Baseball Federation was founded over 90 years ago. Today is also Holy Thursday, the day Christians celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the institution of the Washing of Feet, and that of the Eucharist. Tomorrow is Good Friday, leading to Easter on Sunday. I do not anticipate making any entries between now and Monday. Happy Easter to those of you for whom that matters. Happy Spring Break to everyone else.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.