Friday, August 31, 2007

175. Holiday Weekend; The Bible on Foreigners

What happened to summer? When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that we weren't just heading into a weekend, but the last weekend (unofficially) of summer - that we have one of those four-day weekends congress created nearly forty years ago as a favor to businesses who felt holidays in the middle of the week were costly. Chances are, in this one instance, they were correct. Everybody won. The act, by the way, was called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and was approved in the final summer of President Lyndon Johnson's term, but did not take effect until January 1, 1971, technically the first day of the new decade.

Of course, summer doesn't really end this weekend. That will not happen for another three weeks upon the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox early in the morning - 5:51 am to be exact - on the 23rd of September, one of those important days in my life - not the Autumnal Equinox, but the 23rd, although the two regularly coincide.

I've always thought that calendars were laid out somewhat inappropriately. This weekend is really sort of like New Years in that summer is over, kids are back in school, and vacations are put aside for many people until next summer. New Years leads to a mid year celebration - what we call Christmas and New Years - in about three months. Five months later, on the weekend we call Memorial Day, the year comes to an end and three months of summer are spent in a variety of ways. Just my thinking. Far be it from me to try to change the calendar. The current calendar follows closely to the course of the sun in the northern hemisphere. As the days start to lengthen after the Winter Solstice (around December 21), the year begins. The halfway point arrives around June 23rd, the shortest night - we've discussed this before. Of course, since I was born in September, I feel that month should be at the start of the year. After all, that's how Janaury got where it is. A Roman King, Numa Pompilius, decided that March 1 - New Year's Day at the time, came too late. So he added two months ahead of it. January is named for Janus or Ianarius, the god of the door, as it is the doorway to the year.

September, which starts tomorrow, was originally the 7th month, hence the septem in the name, septem being a Latin root for seven. The addition of January and February moved it to its present standing as the ninth month. October, November, and December follow this same naming pattern. But as for today, we are still in August - albeit the very end of August. I recall that today is the 47th birthday of a friend of mine from my freshman year at UK, Rick Lusardo. I haven't seen him in many years.

Last night, as a sort of final summer engagement, I attended the Annual ACLU of Kentucky Bill of Rights Dinner. The guest speaker was columnist Clarence Page, who addressed a crowd of about 400, considerably less than previous years' dinners, in one of the ballrooms of the Kentucky Convention Center downtown. He quoted a variety of historical personages, as well as his wife and his son, to communicate the message that we can all use what talents we have to do the best job we can do as America forges ahead in the current century. It wasn't necessarily stellar, but it was comforting. And the food was good too. A salad with a vinaigrette dressing, a passel of veggies wrapped in what I think was the very thinly peeled cucumber, a chicken breast on rice, over which I poured more of the vinaigrette dressing, and then a dessert cup of chocolate mousse, with the cup itself being edible. The dessert was basically chocolate flavored butter I think. I ate it all, of course. Although the coffee arrived very late, it was very good. I exchanged stories with Henry Curtis who was seated next to me. Mr. Curtis is an attorney and board member of the Kentucky Commission on Human Relations, formerly of Frankfort, but presently living in Louisville. It was a very pleasant evening. Upon departing, I stopped in the Champions Lounge of the Marriott at 3rd and Jefferson and watched some of the whipping U of L was giving Murray State in Louisville's home-season opener. They won 73-10 before a crowd of 42,185, some of whom would have otherwise been enjoying the chocolate mousse with me after Mr. Page's speech at the ACLU dinner.

This weekend (which is where this entry started) Louisville is having a Worldfest Celebration on the Belvedere running through tomorrow night. The celebration highlight will be a "parade of cultures" tomorrow at noon. Louisville boasts large numbers of foreign nationals, from a variety of countries. While many are scattered throughout the area, the neighborhoods along Southside Drive and out in Okolona along McCawley Road, are home to many immigrants concentrated in small areas. At some point I will write a diatribe on how we as a population tend to treat different foreign minorities differently, the difference mostly based on skin color. But not today. I will leave you with this thought, taken from the Bible, specifically from a book which is oft quoted by right wingers when speaking on another of their favorite subjects, gays. This passage discusses aliens.

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:33-34
Similar verses appear in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and the Prophet Jeremiah. Notice the use of the word citizen in the second sentence, thus assuring us that when the writer used the word alien, he (or she) was referring to foreigners. This is one of those inconvenient passages for the fundamentalists. If they believe the whole Bible as they say they do, then illegal immigration should not be a problem. But, do they?

By the way, about 600 people (current foreign nationals) will become U.S. citizens later this morning. U.S. District Judge Edward Johnstone will preside over the naturalization ceremony at the Kentucky Center. Thank you, America. Hope remains.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

IT - Internet Tests

A few days back I took two of these personality tests on the internet. The first describes me as more religious than atheist, while the second calls me a "neo-pagan."

***** ***** *****

Test #1 claims to tell me all about myself. Here are Test #1 Results (a few of which I've deleted to protect the guilty):

Personality: You are more emotional than logical, more concerned about others than concerned about self, more religious than atheist, more loner than dependent, more lazy than workaholic, more rebel than traditional, more artistic mind than engineering mind, more idealist than cynical, more leader than follower, and more introverted than extroverted.

As for specific personality traits, you are religious (87%), romantic (71%), intellectual (70%).

Young Professional 70%
Old Geezer 67%
Hippie 58%

Life Experience
Sex 65%
Substances 30%
Travel 35%

Your political views would best be described as Socialist, whom you agree with around 100% of the time.

Your attitude toward life best associates you with . You reportedly make 17% more money than the U.S. average.

If your life was a movie, it would be rated R.
By the way, your hottness rank is 48%, hotter than 12% of other test takers.

***** ***** *****

Test #2 claims to place me in a specific religion or belief, based on my answers. Test #2 Results:

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (96%)
3. Mahayana Buddhism (95%)
4. Hinduism (94%)
5. Unitarian Universalism (90%)
6. Jainism (89%)
7. Bahá'í Faith (89%)
8. Reform Judaism (88%)
9. Sikhism (82%)
10. New Age (78%)
11. Orthodox Judaism (78%)
12. Islam (66%)
13. Theravada Buddhism (65%)
14. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
15. Taoism (58%)
16. New Thought (56%)
17. Scientology (53%)
18. Orthodox Quaker (51%)
19. Secular Humanism (43%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (43%)
21. Jehovah's Witness (40%)
22. Seventh Day Adventist (37%)
23. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (35%)
24. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (27%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (23%)
26. Roman Catholic (23%)
27. Nontheist (19%)


So I'm even less of a Catholic (23%), the church I am currently a member of, based on my answers, than I am of a Southern Baptist (27%), the church in which I was baptized in 1974. I'm not sure what to make of this. I'll keep on seeking where I need to be.

I can see myself in the analyses of both tests, but it is interesting to find the deviation with regard to religion - from 87% religious to a neo-pagan.

173. Uncle Jeff

My mother has more than a few times relayed the story to me of some advice her mother rendered as she was carrying around me in her womb, just a few weeks under 47 years ago. The most important advice her mother gave her was this, "A lot of folks will be telling you how to raise this kid, especially people who have never had children, who seem to know more about it than anyone. For those who are parents, listen to them. For those who aren't, ignore them. They don't have any idea what they are talking about."

Most of you know I have no children; as such I have tried my best not to tell those who do the dos and donts of child-upbringing. Truthfully it has not been much of a problem. A number of my friends, both married and single, are also gleefully childless. And from my perspective, grandparents and aunts and uncles, at least at certain times, seem to enjoy children a lot more than parents. I have often written of my six (known and acknowledged) nieces and nephews - three of each - as well as the five or six half- and step- sisters and brothers of those six, all of whom I serve in some capacity, either great or small, as Uncle Jeff, a role I cherish.

Last evening was one of those evenings my presence was needed to pick up the youngest three of my brother's children from their school, Cochran Elementary. Aubreana is 8, Kevin is 6, and Elijah is 4. The time for me to pick them up coincided with the time I was to be travelling out 7th Street Road toward the old Carpenters' Hall on Dixie Highway for a big Democratic Party dinner and rally, billed as an Appreciation event for those active in the Party. So, off the four of us went to the Union Hall, which was packed to the gills with about 600 folks, all hankering for the food which was prominently displayed in serving dishes along the center of the hall.

I have not been in the Carpenters' Hall much in the years since my grandfather Dan Hockensmith passed away in 1983. My last visit there (as I recall) was with Eleanor Jordan campaigning there in 2000 for Congress. During the last two decades of my grandfather's life, he was an officer of the union, Local 64, serving as either Business Agent or President. Those last two decades of his life pretty much coincided with the first two decades of the lives of me and my brother.

My brother and I spent endless hours in the place as meetings were held, strikes were planned, or union jobs were posted for the men to seek out for their weekly wages. I can remember roaming through, but not understanding, all the tools and machines which were located in the Apprentice School, later named for Ted Pitts, at the rear of the property. I can also remember doing some genealogical research on my grandfather's family, as his father had also been a member of the union when its headquarters was located downtown on Washington Street. My grandfather help design and construct the building we went to last night, and every time I pass it I think of him and all the times he spent there.

But, last night, I was trying to control three little children in a hall full of people, with a band playing, a lot of singing, dancing (notably my old boss in the County Clerk's office from the Summer of 1979, Barbara Aubrey, and her beau), politicking, and all sorts of other activities taking place, all of which the three of them wanted to be a part of, although they really had no idea what it was all about. They drank their lemonade, ate their potatoes and green beans and ham, with a roll and a piece of cake (which Kevin reported was not all that good). They got their picture taken - repeatedly - by Mike Ridge, a photographer in the Yarmuth campaign, and generally had a good time running around, with me about three feet behind them trying to keep all of them in sight. Eventually they met most everyone running for office, but the only one they remembered by the time we got home was "Jack" as they reported to their father, who responded "Jack who?"

This whole scenario took about an hour and a half. It was fun but exhaustive. I have no idea how working parents find the time to do anything other than handling their kids. That must be doubly or triply exhaustive. Taking your three youngest nieces and nephews out for a few hours to do anything gives one a great appreciation for whatever job your brother may be doing in the raising of his children. I've now and then over the twenty years he has been a father - although pretty rarely to be honest - offered criticism to him, to which he has on each offering responded, "Jeff, you don't have any idea what you are talking about. You've never had kids." With those words, he proved our grandmother's sage advice to our mother from the Summer of 1960 about those of us who are childless about making suggestions to those of you who aren't when she said, "ignore them. They don't have any idea what they are talking about."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

172. Gonzales leaves the Executive Branch; the Legislative Branch comes to Southwest Jefferson County

Gosh. Where to start?

Gonzales has left!

Like Governor Ernie Fletcher, former (as of September 17) United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was a man way in over his head. Unfortunately, he had the strong support of another man with the same problem, the president. That's the good news. But, like President Richard Nixon's famous quip of 1962 (which six short years later turned about to be false), we won't have Gonzales to kick around anymore. Silver linings and clouds are typically connected.

Here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepoint 606, our congressman is making good on a promise to open the South End's first congressional district office, to be inaugurated today in the Southwest Government Center on Dixie Highway. The government center itself, located due east of Milepoint 619 on the Ohio River, is a reminder of the days when attention was regularly being paid to both the south and southwest sides of the county.

That end of town was represented by folks such as Dottie Priddy, Jim Dunn, Archie Romines, Al Bennett, Bill Quinlan, and Tom Mobley in Frankfort. In the days before Merger, southwest Jefferson County was represented on the old Jefferson Fiscal Court by Glenn McDonald and later Darryl Owens. Our County Judge was Louis J. "Todd" Hollenbach, III, father of the current Democratic candidate for State Treasurer, and our County Attorney was my former boss J. Bruce Miller. All of these folks were Democrats.

In those days, due to a tax-raising referendum passed by the voters in 1970, much was accomplished for the area. The floodwalls and levees along Mill Creek and further out Dixie Highway on Pond Creek were built, as was the Southwest Hospital, the Southwest Campus of Jefferson Community College, and the Southwest Government Center where Congressman Yarmuth is today adding a congressional district office. In 1977, Judge Hollenbach lost to a newcomer, Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., who had previously ran and lost a race for State Representative. McConnell won the judge's race, and to his credit, he too paid some attention to the area. He spent large sums of money getting the Riverport up and running and added thousands of acres to the Jefferson Memorial Forest, land upon the knobs between I-65 and Dixie Highway, which form part of the inner rim of the Knobs/Muldraugh's Hills section of Kentucky's geological map.

Over the years, Reagan Democrats allowed a few Republicans to be elected in this area - some moderates such as Lindy Casebier and Bill Lile and others more idelogically to the right such as Doug Hawkins and Danny Seum - Seum starting out as a libertarian-leaning Democrat. But, overall, the area has remained under Democratic control, both in Louisville and in Frankfort. And with the election of John Yarmuth last year, in Washington, DC as well. A large group of folks came together to help elect John, swaying more than a few of those Reagan Democrats back into the Democratic column. Of course, George Bush, the Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney also helped John's election. And while he didn't win the South End, his numbers proved he has a large number of friends in that area. Metro Council members Vicki Welch, Dan Johnson, Bob Henderson, Rick Blackwell, Mary Woolridge, and Judy Green, along with State Representatives Joni Jenkins, Ron Weston, Tim Firkins, and Charlie Miller all helped in their individual constituencies. Foremost among the elected officials in this area was the help provided by Democratic State Senator Perry Clark. He worked and walked the area for John, and talked up the South End with radio commercials. And, in the end we won, as did the people of this part of Kentucky's Third District.

At the beginning of this entry I asked "where to start?" Now, I've decided on where to end. Here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Preoccupation ending soon

Dad will be going home today. While he is not well, he is ok. Blogging will probably resume tomorrow.

There are a few things I want to address soon: 1) Comments from the State Fair, especially on casinos; 2) Congressman Yarmuth making good on a campaign promise to open the South End's first Congressional Office; and 3) Alberto Gonzales' departure from Cheney and Company.

Perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Temporarily Preoccupied

My father has fallen ill and entered the hospital, so I will be away for a day or two - hopefully no more.

Friday, August 24, 2007

169. Friday Blues

Justice Bill McAnulty has passed away. He was a friend I have known, respected, and supported politically for many years. I last saw him this year on the Saturday before the Primary at the Joni Jenkins Breakfast at the PRP Firehouse on Greenwood Road. At the party at Congressman Yarmuth's house this past Wednesday, I spoke briefly with Jessica Loving about him. Mac was a great guy. May his soul and the souls of All who have passed from this life Rest In Peace.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

168. The Energy Give-Away in Frankfort and thanks to the Ten Who Voted No

The other day while visiting the Kentucky State Fair, as opposed to the day on which I volunteered, I stopped by the booth sponsored by the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. In their booth they had postcards people could sign to send to State Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Jody Richards. The card to Williams called for an easing of voting restrictions on felons who have completed their sentence, a controversial measure which I tend to support. The card to Speaker Richards called for a NO vote on the Special Session's giveaway to Peabody Energy, a Saint Louis based company, widely known in Kentucky as Peabody Coal, which has proposed to think about maybe at some undetermined point in the future investing up to $3,000,000,000.00 in a plant here in the Commonwealth. A lot of dominoes will have to fall before such plant might be built, the first one being a $300,000,000.00 tax incentive approved by the legislature and signed by the governor - such a plan to be approved in a Special Session of the General Assembly so called by the Governor of the Commonwealth. I signed the cards to each of them - yes on felons being regranted the privelege of voting, and no on the Peabody tax giveaway. On the card to the Speaker, I crossed out the formal salutation and manually wrote over it "Dear Jody."

I've complained both here on the blog and in person to several legislators, including the Speaker, that I do not think the Democrats in Kentucky's House of Representatives have handled their summer's legislative duties very well. I've disagreed constitutionally over how they've handled the governor's Special Session calls, saying to anyone who would listen that I believe they had a constitutional duty to act upon the legislation constitutionally presented by the governor in the call, irrespective of whether the legislation presented is purely political, as the governor's has been.

In the two sessions called so far by our incredibly-less-than-credible-or-ethical governor, the House Democrats have chosen paths which are seemingly just as less-than-credible. In the first session, they simply refused to do what they are hired to do, which is to go in and vote up or down on the legislation at hand, whether in its introductory form or as amended. The Senate did vote in the first one while the House simply adjourned.

Now the governor has called a second Special Session and the legislators have this time gone to Frankfort and at least taken votes on the matter presented by the governor, the matter as described above being an incentives package for an energy company, as if energy companies need tax breaks and business incentives. Yesterday, the House voted 87-10 to give Peabody Energy up to $300,000,000.00 in tax incentives, or breaks. To be sure, there are other measures in the bill, all of which could have waited for a regular session, not that regular sessions are orchestrated and choreographed any better than a Special one. But wait we did not.

So, the bill having passed the House will go now to the Senate where it will easily pass and then be signed into law by Governor Fletcher. The House members have acted irresponsibly.

But, I wish here to give credit where credit is due. Ten members of the House, two Republicans and eight Democrats, voted against the measure. Good for them. One of them is among those to whom I have complained about this summer's actions. Another is one who just last Friday I commended her for continuing to be the conscience of the House. Three more are Democrats in whose districts I have lived over the years, including the person who currently represents me. Another of the group is the Dean of the House and one of the very truest of compassionate souls on the planet. The others I do not personally know but here I wish to commend them all. They are Louisville Democrats Jim Wayne of the Preston Highway corridor, Tom Burch of Buechel, Mary Lou Marzian of the Highlands, Tom Riner representing downtown (where I live), and Reginald Meeks representing Old Louisville, Parkland, and Clifton; also Lexington Democrats Ruth Ann Palumbo and Kathy Stein; and Owingsville Democrat Carolyn Belcher. The Republicans are David Floyd of Bardstown and Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon. Again thanks to all of you.

Here is some insight on Peabody Energy, lifted directly from their webpage:

Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) is the world's largest private-sector coal company, with 2006 sales of 248 million tons and $5.3 billion in revenues. Our coal products fuel approximately 10 percent of all U.S. electricity generation and more than 2 percent of worldwide electricity. We serve global coal demand from electricity generators and steelmakers, and we're growing to serve new global customers and emerging "Btu Conversion" markets.

Peabody is known in Kentucky in part because of well-known lines from a John Prine song anyone in Kentucky has heard (or sung) at some point in their lives, "And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where paradise lay? Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking, Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away." It is the plant many of us have seen off to the left as one drives west on the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway, crossing over the Green River bridge into Muhlenberg County.

By the way, there are rumors out there that Governor Fletcher isn't through. He still wants the domestic-partnership insurance battle to happen and will likely call a Third Special Session closer to the election. He is simply pitiful and must be defeated.


Below are the complete lyrics to Prine's song:

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

167. Visitor Number 4000

Last night around 8:12 pm, someone, I do know not whom, entered into a Google search bar the words "what number tarc runs on 7th street and what is its route" and one of the responses Google gave them was a link to an entry on this blog from March 11 which talked about numbers - addresses, highways, zip codes, and specifically the number 60 - that entry happened to be entry #60 and the number 60 is one of those which are important to me for personal reasons. Whoever that person was, they were tabulated by the appointed bean counters in the etherworld as hit number 4000 here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Since they did not find the answer to their question in entry #60, here it is. Tarc busses travelling along 7th Street are on one of the following routes, depending upon the time of day and where along 7th Street (or Seventh Street Road) you might be: #6-Sixth Street, #50-Dixie Express, #54-Manslick Express, #63-Crums Lane, and #99-UPS/West Louisville. That viewer also took a look at entry #127 which, as so many entries here do, also had to do with numbers - highway numbers such as US 127, a major north-south artery through central Kentucky, but that entry was specifically one of several about and my support of that project to rid downtown Louisville of a raised 23-lane wide highway obstructing the view and use of our riverfront. There is another entry somewhere in the archives specifically about Seventh Street and Seventh Street Road and the various other names one encounters while driving along that thoroughfare. But, hit #4000 didn't go there for whatever reason.

Suffice it to say I am pleased to have reached (and crossed) another milestone of sorts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

166. A Walk at the Fair

Late last night I took a ride on Mr. Ferris' invention - the Ferris Wheel. After a day volunteering at the State Democratic Party booth in the South Hall of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center - except they dropped the "Fair" part of the name some time ago in an attempt to upscale their identity, my friend Jessie said she would like to ride the Ferris Wheel. It is probably the only ride that I like to ride - I'm pretty much a scaredy-cat on the others - I could attribute it to age but I had the same concerns as a teenager. I tend to stick to Ferris Wheels, bumper cars, and maybe a Water Ride of some sort.

So, sometime around 9:30 pm, we made our way across the Fair's Center Drive, full of Army tanks, popcorn and pizza vendors, and a few music halls, one of which was advertising the group RUOK?. RUOK? is (or maybe was) a rock group made up of guys I knew in high school and college. Drummer Jerry Rubeieau (I never relly knew how to spell it, but it is pronounced roo-bee-oh), Guitarist Tony Schnell, and a lead singer named Kirk something, were all the rage along Preston Highway in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I even rented an apartment from them for a while in the old Camp Taylor Hotel building on Reservoir Avenue. But, how quickly I digress.

We walked over to the entrance to Kentucky Kingdom and wound our way along the wooden plank paths to the big Ferris Wheel, called the Giant Wheel at Kentucky Kingdom - there is a smaller one over in the Midway. For a small fee, she and I climbed into the gondola (one of forty on the 150 foot tall wheel) and got to ride around and around six and one half times, taking in the sights that can be seen from atop the circling machine; to the north the city's skyline, especially the Aegon Building, which is Louisville's tallest; to the east the Kaden Tower and the lights around all the Watterson City towers; to the west the variety of blinking lights which sit atop the variety of LG&E steam-stacks up and down the Ohio River, along with the arched facade of the Caesers Casino Hotel, opposite Cane Run Road on the Indiana side of the river; the view to the south is for the most part overwhelmed by all the lights from Louisville International Airport, the international airport from which you can fly to any destination in the world if you are in a box with a UPS sticker, but otherwise can only go to Montreal, PQ directly.

After the six and a half spins on the Ferris Wheel, we walked over to the old-fashioned Midway, which for some reason didn't seem as crowded or as "county-fair-ish" as I remember it from the past. The Midway was filled mostly with teenage couples, although few of them seemed to be riding the rides or shooting baskets in exchange for stuffed animals. And through it all, rock music was being played at much-too-high a level, pealing out tunes I have never heard, just as I am sure some adults felt when they went through the Midway when I was a teenager.

Maybe RUOK? was there somewhere in my mind, playing the latest hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It was a nice way to end the night.

Monday, August 20, 2007

165. Monday Edition - this is the generic name for when the comments are generic.

Some notes.

The Transportation Cabinet has erected some more of the Dr. M. L. King, Jr. Expressway signs along the through lanes on I-65. The way I wrote it is the way they've listed it on the signs. I know in Chattanooga, where there has been an MLK Highway since the 1970s, that's the way they sign it, the MLK, so that is what people tend to call it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the Traffic Reporters in the media to start calling it something other than 65. Of course, the older folks among us will remember when it was more generally known as the "North-South Expressway" in the city and the "Kentucky Turnpike" between the Watterson and Elizabethtown.

I'm working the State Fair today in the State Democratic Party booth. I'm getting help from a variety of people - some from the Yarmuth campaign, some from the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, and a few others including MaDonna White, a former candidate for Secretary of State, and Vicki Welch, the Metro Council member from the 13th District, which includes Fairdale.

That's all for now. Happy August 20th. Congressman Yarmuth returns to Louisville today for the remainder of the August break.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

164. On Secret Bunkers

Briefly - there will be more later - at yesterday's Democratic Party party in Frankfort, a person came up to me and said he knew the location of the Secret Bunker from which, like today, I occassionally post. I use the line as a sort of running joke when posting on some weekend mornings from my favorite place to get a cup of coffee and gather intelligence of both a geographic and cultural sort. Dan Borsch, the person identifying the same, deduced it from clues dropped here and there, although it wasn't something I was trying to hide. But it occurred to me that we should recommend Dan to the president in his search for Osama Ben Laden - that is assuming we are still searching for Ben Laden, the man who is credited with the attacks of September 11th. Are we still? Or are our military forces busy in places whose wealth is not found in the secret bunkers of religious zealots, carried too far and which must be corrected. Rather, are we engaged in the plains and deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan - and soon to be Iran in all likelihood - because beneath the surface of their sovereign lands lays a precious commodity which we want, and are willing to go to war and incur substantial loss of life - nearly 3800 Americans thus far - in order to get it?

Unrelated, but on a more positive note, my oldest nephew Jacob turns 18 today. Happy birthday Jacob.

Friday, August 17, 2007

163. From the hills of Clay County to Interstate 65

Last night at 5:30, the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 got a good thunder and lightning storm, with high winds and heavy rain. I watched it all from my back porch. I live about 1 and 1/4 miles due east of the Jefferson County Court House downtown on Jefferson Street, the building the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government likes to call Metro Hall. There were quite a few lightning strikes which appeared to me to be right in the area of the Court House. I was secretly hoping the strikes were finding their ways to the two remaining Magnolia trees which have not yet been removed from the Court House lawn. Two Magnolias were removed earlier in the year as part of the overall renovation of the Court House exterior and grounds. Maybe they are waiting until the Heat Attack has passed. We are in a string of 15+ days where the official temperature has been 95 degrees or hotter. Yesterday the temperature rose to 105 degrees, a record for the day and just two degrees shy of Louisville's all time high record of 107 degrees, last reached in 1939.

But, upon later arrival downtown, the Magnolias were still there, adding a degree of Southern-ness to our Court House lawn, with leaves swaying and falling, but falling due to the heat rather than the storm. We have been fortunate that no lives have been lost to the heat, although in one recent death the heat is thought to have played a part.

In other news, the Democratic Party's slate of statewide candidates is scheduled to have a get-together this afternoon in Frankfort, with State Party members and County Chairs making up the crowd. I will be there. I am wondering if our candidate for Agriculture Commissioner will be there, or if he is still tied up in the bureaucratic red tape in Glasgow, where the City doesn't like the way he maintains his property. His is the one office we are most likely to lose, losing to the incumbent Richie Farmer, a guard for the University of Kentucky's 1988 to 1992 basketball teams, who hails from Manchester in Clay County, and who will celebrating his 38th birthday on the 25th. There have been rumors, started mostly by people who hope the rumors come to fruition, as opposed to have been started by anyone with any official knowledge of same, that Commissioner Farmer might switched parties and become a Democrat, so as to keep his electabilty on the positive side. If he were to do that, he would be in a certain minority at least back home, where he was once proclaimed Mr. Basketball for Kentucky in his senior year of high school. Clay County, which has twenty precincts, has 1,864 Democrats; 228 Independents; and 13,279 Republicans. Would the locals ever forgive him? "Cawood, will Richie play "D" tonight?" Of course if Richie is waiting like so many others for Congressman Hal Rogers to retire, then maybe he should keep his current Party ID. But, I digress - a little.

For the untravelled among you, not that you are interested, but simply that I like talking about Kentucky's cities and towns, and it is my blog, Manchester, the seat of government of Clay County, lies along US 421, on the Goose Creek Fork of the South Fork of the Kentucky River, just north of the US 421 intersection with the Hal Rogers Parkway, formerly the Daniel Boone Parkway.

There are still more than a few people who are upset with former Governor Paul Patton's decision to have the Daniel Boone Parkway renamed for Congressman Hal Rogers, who has served the southeastern part of Kentucky, through which the highway runs, since his election in 1980. The road used to be a toll-road, as many of Kentucky's early four-lanes were. Through the efforts of the congressman, the bonds which were used to finance the construction of the road were paid off by the Federal government at Rogers' insistence, and the tolls lifted. That, at least, is the official reason given for renaming the highway. It is similar to the argument that was made two decades ago in deciding to rename the Jefferson Freeway (KY 841/I-265) for then-Congressman Gene Snyder, as it ran through a populous part of his old Fourth Congressional District, and his efforts provided a great deal of the money to see it completed, along with those of former Highway Commissioner Frank Metts and former Governor John Young Brown, Jr.

While we are on the subject of naming highways, I noticed yesterday the new signage hanging over the southbounds lanes of I-65 as one enters Kentucky from the north proclaiming the road the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Expressway. I wrote earlier this year about the efforts the local Metro Council took to not do this, by passing the buck of what to name for the civil rights leader to others - anyone, and the people to whom it was passed was the General Assembly. The Metro Council breathed a sigh a relief when the legislature took up the cause. The assignment of Dr. King's name to I-65 only applies in Jefferson County. Upon leaving the Metro, much smaller signs (hopefully to be replaced) have been erected at each county line calling the raod the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Highway, an appropriate name given the interstate pretty much bisects the areas associated with Lincoln's family during their time in the Commonwealth.

That's all for now. Today's high temperature is expected to be a relatively cool 94 degrees.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

162 - Despite the heat, the pass-off from Kelly to Kurtz is good.

Yesterday, for the first time in eight years, Louisville's temperature climbed to 103 degrees. Also yesterday, for the first time in twenty-five years, Louisville switched Archbishops. The shepherd's staff, overseeing the Archdiocese of Louisville, was passed from Thomas Kelly to Joseph Kurtz, during the installation ceremony of the latter as the Fourth Archbishop and Ninth Bishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville. A representative of Pope Bendict XVI was present in the ceremonies, held at the Louisville Gardens, the old Armory, on Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Approximately 4500 people were inside the Gardens to celebrate the event, while the temperature outside soared to 103 degrees, setting a new record for August 15th.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

161. Glimmer of Hope

It was only the briefest of comments coming from the Commander-In-Chief, who tends to stray from original meanings if his comments get too lengthy. At the announcement of Rasputin's - Karl Rove's - departure from the White House payroll, the president uttered some sweet words. After saying it was time for Rasputin to move on, he said "I won't be far behind." Hopefully that is a reference to January 20, 2009, the date of the next regularly scheduled transition from one presidency to another and a date which has more than a few of us quite anxious. Anxious in part because finally redemption will have drawn - but also in part because we are all aware that Bush, Cheney, and their entire criminal conspiracy just may not leave. So when those few words came forth yesterday, "I won't be far behind," I was elated. At least Geroge realizes that all fairy tales, whether good or bad, and this one is bad, do come to an end. Now if we could just hear those same words from Darth Vader, life will be even sweeter, and the Republic will be safe.

Monday, August 13, 2007

160. Strada Cattolica

Anyone who has read my profile - or knows me to any extent - is aware I am Catholic, albeit one with some concerns about the direction and leadership of same, both here in the Archdiocese of Louisville as well as the seat of government for the church at the Vatican City. Nonetheless I am and continue to be a communicant with Holy Mother The Church, the one true universal and catholic church, the Roman Catholic Church - a Papist!

Yesterday, and for the remaining Sundays in August, I am a lector at the 8:30 am masses, one of the things I do on a regular rotating basis for my church. I also call Bingo, serve as emcee at the Summer Picnic, and volunteer at the Altar Sodality parties. This all the while I am looking into other faith practices and beliefs. I've attended a few times masses, or services, at churches of the Episcopal and United Church of Christ faiths. But, in my wanderings, I am usually drawn back to my home parish and the familiar family I have there, a place I've been a member of since 1979, a place I can call home.

This week will be a week of history in the Louisville Catholic church. We are getting a new archbishop, the fourth archbishop and also the ninth bishop of Louisville, the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz. Archbishop Kurtz will be formally installed in a service on Wednesday, August 15th, which is also a feast day in the church, a holy day of obligation in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus, which marks her Assumption into heaven, a doctrine made a part of Catholic dogma only fifty-seven years ago under Pope Pius XII, but based on a belief that has been in circulation since the 400s. Archbishop Kurtz succeeds Archbishop Thomas Kelly who was installed as bishop exactly twenty-five years ago, just a few short years after my formal membership in the Roman Catholic Church. Like many who have "become" Catholic in the last two generations, I have known one pope and one archbishop, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Kelly. Of course, John Paul has crossed over and we (or I) am still adjusting to Pope Benedict XVI (B16 as the irreverents call him). Now another adjustment comes as we move from Archbishop Kelly to Archbishop Kurtz.

So yesterday at mass I noticed in the back of the church some reading materials, one of which spoke of the new archbishop, while another was a collection of information on the previous eight men who have served as head of the Catholic Church in Louisville, as well as general information on the first priests which served what came to be the Archdiocese of Louisville. Among them were Fr. Maurice Whelan and Fr. William de Rohan, but neither stayed long. Twenty-six-year-old Fr. Stephen Badin came later followed by Fr. Charles Nerinckx and the Dominican friars, who made their first American foundation in Washington County in 1805. These are the people who established Catholicism in Kentucky.

On April 8, 1808, Pope Pius VII subdivided the Diocese of Baltimore into four dioceses, one of which was west of the Allegheny mountains, covering all of the area from the Great Lakes (and New France) on the north to the southern reaches of the fledgling United States of America, and as far west as the Mississippi River. [An aside - lots of boundaries of the unknown reaches of the United States in the early days were delineated by the mountains and the Mississippi. Kentucky and Tennessee are the only two states which touch both extremeties]. To head this new far-reaching diocese, the Diocese of Bardstown, the Pope named as its first bishop Fr. Benedict Joseph Flaget, who was an exile from France.

Bishop Flaget arrived in Kentucky in 1811 and made his home in a rural area south of Bardstown, on a farm owned by the Thomas Howard family, which came to be known as the Saint Thomas Plantation. Also among the literature in the back of the church was some literature on the restoration of Bishop Flaget's log cabin. I decided if time permitted I would do a history drive sometime today, since I had no grass-cutting duties out at my mother's given that the grass, like me, is somewhat intolerant of Louisville's recent weather. I really had no idea where I'd be going, just that I would be going somewhere sometime today (which was yesterday, Sunday).

My history trip took me south to the Boston exit off I-65, where one can go a few miles west on KY 61 to the town of Lebanon Junction, or to the east toward Boston and US 62, the road from Hodgenville to Bardstown. I followed through Boston to KY 52, taking it east toward Nelsonville, but before reaching there ramping up onto the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway east. I followed the BG to the US 31E exit to the south, which takes one to the Saint Thomas Plantation area of Nelson County, which is not quite a mile off the highway to the east.

I went back and visited the old church, built in 1816. As you approach the church there is a concrete walkway with enscribed stones indicating some history. One of those stones was marked with words indicating the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth established Nazareth Academy here in 1814. I am a graduate of a successor to that school, Spalding University. I have coffee mugs, as well as a diploma, with the old Spalding University emblems, all of which have the 1814 date prominently marked. I was touched by the sense of personal history for me, a graduate of a school which has its roots here in the soil and grounds and buildings of a place nearly 200 years old and in the middle of nowhere even yet, after two hundred years of development as a school, county, state, and country. When these folks planted these roots here in Kentucky, this was "the west." The expedition of Lewis and Clark has just been finished a decade earlier. Kentucky had been a state a little over twenty years and James Madison was president of the country. The history, especially my small connection to it, rather overwhelmed me.

As is custom, before I left the area, I visited the small cemetery, where locals have been buried for as long as the church has been standing, recognizing a few names here and there.

I left Saint Thomas and returned to US 31E south out through Balltown (off to the side on the old road) and Culvertown to KY 247, the Monks Road, the road to Gethsemani and the Trappist Monastery, where Thomas Merton (Brother Louis) found fame as a writer with his Seven Storey Mountain. I stopped briefly at the monastery's cemetery with both ancient and modern gravemarkers. I continued on KY 247 with idea of looking up and old friend (Jamey Graham), who lives in New Hope, but I wasn't quite sure how to get there from where I was, and a cardinal rule of these trips is to never consult a map. Honestly, how lost can one ever be when one is within one hundred miles of one's home, which I was. So instead I stayed on KY 247 south to Howardstown, the hometown of a girl I knew in college (from my days of enrollment at Bellarmine). This was the furthest I had strayed from Louisville this day, a point about sixty-five miles south of the Left Bank of the Ohio River at Milepost 606.

From Howardstown, I went west on KY 84 across the Rolling Fork (of Salt River) and into LaRue County, the birthplace of our nation's sixteenth president. If you go by the courthouse in Hodgenville, you will find that LaRue County is supposed to be Helm County, named for Governor John LaRue Helm, but it isn't. It was also proposed to have been named Slaughter County for Governor Gabriel Slaughter, but it isn't named that either. There is some disagreement as to why it is LaRue County. The leg of KY 84 I was travelling on comes to an end at what was once called White City at its intersection with US 31E. I turned right (north) on this original road between Louisville and Nashville (which was built in part by allocations made under a Kentucky politician named John LaRue Helm). Not too far north, on the left side of the highway, the Knob Creek Farm, the 228 acre farm once owned and occupied by Thomas Lincoln and his family, including his son Abraham, who years later would say that his earliest recollections in life were of the Knob Creek place in Kentucky. It was added to the National Park system in 2001, purchased from the LaRue County Fiscal Court, but operates only as a picnic and hiking area. There are three buildings on the site, two of which are historic in nature but are presently unused. Up on top of the hill to the right is the Redman Cemetery, where a brother of President Lincoln is buried.

Leaving Knob Creek, I continued northeast on US 31E to Athertonville, shortly afterwhich crossing back over the Rolling Fork, one is back into Nelson County. I followed 31E all the way back to Bardstown, a really beautiful little city located at the intersection of US 31E, US 62, and US 150, about forty miles southeast of Louisville, where I took a walking tour around the old court square and a few residential blocks. On my walk, I noticed an old marker in front of the Presbyterian Church describing the life of a Reverend Templin, the first Presbyterian minister in these parts. The original road leading west out of Bardstown headed toward Clermont and Shepherdsville is called Templin Avenue, I assume for this religious pioneer.

I took that road from Bardstown, which makes its way to KY 245 and back to I-65 and thus back home, completing my little historical tour, which with the finding of Saint Thomas and its connections to Spalding (and me), was more than I had planned on.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Edition

Note: Blogging from an undisclosed location in Germantown, somewhere along East Oak Street between the railroad tracks and Beargrass Creek.

1. Tomorrow school starts for my nieces and nephews who are still in school. I spent part of the morning with the three youngest, along with their father (my brother) and their grandmother (my mother). We had a sort of Christmas morning affair with new backpacks, clothes, pencils, note pads, crayons, and snacks. Aubreana, Kevin, and Elijah are in the 3rd grade,1st grade, and Head Start at Gavin H. Cochran Elementary in Old Louisville. I have one older niece who will be starting 5th grade at Crosby Middle School tomorrow.

2. Friday was Corporate - specifically Banking - Welfare Day. My friend Ken Herndon has used the line in the past that politicians like Anne Northup, Dick Cheney, and others really do support government welfare, just not for poor folks. Friday came proof. With the banking industry struggling under the effects of its own lending programs and on the verge of collapse, and after a falling off along Wall Street for three consecutive days, the Federal Reserve dipped into the federal reserves and bailed the banks out to the tune of $38,000,000,00.00 - that 38 with a Big B after it. That's Welfare for the Wealthy.

3. I didn't acknowlege Barry Bonds' history making last week and I am still deciding if I am going to or not. Meanwhile, keep on swinging A-Rod.

4. I also didn't acknowledge the 100 degree plus weather we've been having mostly because it is rather unpleasant for an overweight middle aged blogger with high blood pressure. Am I whining? Yes.

5. The Kentucky Department of Transportation has announced that the Kennedy Bridge painting is going to be completed by September 2008. For those of you from the last generation, the bridge painting has been going on since Moses parted the Red Sea. Well, not quite. The current repainting project, the first since the 1970s, was started when Paul Patton was governor in 1999. Don't hold your breath. Besides, how many states have an overhanging canopy on their bridges to welcome people in?

Tha't all for now. As I said, no new pics due to the location of the posting.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

158. In my email-box

I promise I didn't know about this when I posted this morning. I suggested the big-names were coming back to Kentucky.

Here is an invite which just arrived from the ether-world --

You are cordially invited to join

Senator Barack Obama


Bluegrass for Barack

a fundraiser benefiting
Obama for America

Sunday, August 26, 2007
5:30 PM

located at

Heritage Hall at the
Lexington Convention Center
432 West Vine Street
Lexington, Kentucky

Guest: $25
(minimum contribution)


For more information, please contact Roz Skozen at (312) 819-2783 or


157. When will the voting begin? Will the campaigns ever end?

Later on today (it may be happening right now), officials from New Hampshire and South Carolina are announcing they are moving their Primary dates up a little sooner. It is entirely possible that some of the ballots for the office whose term commences on January 20, 2009 [the day of redemption, will it ever arrive?] might be cast in 2007 - that is to say later this year, probably in December. When will the lunacy stop? I've listed below, as best I can, the states with their Primary or Caucus dates, as well as the potential number of delegates those events represent, a number which is subject to change. The announcements today will likely invalidate this chart.

The current schedule starts in about six months with the Iowa caucus. Four other states plan events in January. Then comes February 5th, being dubbed any number of things, the best of which is National Primary Day. Looking way down the list, Kentucky and Oregon share a May 20, 2008 Primary date, with only three others to follow to complete the season, Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota.

This entry is not to suggest we join the pack and have our Primary some time next month, or even to join on the February 5th free-for-all. In fact, I think all those states, districts, and territories, whose primaries or caucusses [ cauci? ] do not fall on either February 5th or March 4th, a slightly smaller but still substantial day for collecting delegates, should band together and have a late summer day, perhaps on May 20th, or even later. I know the presidential sweepstakes this cycle has been going on way-too-long already, and I am proposing to extend it, but - let's be honest - will any of these states see much attention from anyone once February 5th has passed? Other than their roles in fundraising, these lesser states (such as Kentucky) play little part in the election of a president. Should they?

We are fortunate here in the Commonwealth that some of the top-brass of movers and shakers are involved early in at least two of the Democratic campaigns. Senator Barack Obama has already been to Louisville twice and will probably return. Matthew Barzun and Carolyn Tandy, two Louisville operatives, play deep roles in his campaigns and they have allowed an Obama presence here that otherwise may not have happened. Similarly, Jerry Lundergan is close to both Senator Hillary Clinton and her ex-president husband. Both of them, as well as their campaign leaders, have been to Kentucky more than once, and are expected to return.

There is also a somewhat underground campaign supporting Congressman Dennis Kucinich in Louisville, as is his campaign most everywhere else. Chris Dodd has ties to Louisville through his education in the Brandeis School of Law, and Bill Richardson at least knows Kentucky is on the map given one of his staffers in Nevada is a local, Taylor Coots of Taylorsville. But, will all of these early meets and greets, touches from candidates and their staffs [pronounced stavs], and personal ties to the Commonwealth really mean anything once February 5th rolls past?

I think not.

Election dates are controlled by the legislature and administered by the Secretary of State. As of this writing, I can not say I have the greatest confidence in the legislature, who are as we speak, trying to come to terms on another Special Legislative Session, hoping to avoid a repeat of the abortion they performed on the one Governor Fletcher called in July. Our Republican Secretary of State is embroiled in what WHAS reporter Mark Hebert called a pissing match with our Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo over voting machines; given the subject matter, the match should be more than just one of pissing - the integrity of voting machines and the ability of a paper trail are paramount to free and honest elections.

In the past, the Secretary of State has proposed changes to the presidential primary and caucus season which are worthy of investigation. Secretary Grayson appeared before a congressional committee earlier this year outlining his plan to divide the country into four geographic regions and proposes a rotating regional primary plan, one which will hopefully be adopted before the 2012 campaigns begin - which given that the 2008 election day is November 4, 2008, the next campaign will dutifully start on November 5, 2008.

Secretary Grayson's plan proposes primaries and caucusses no earlier than March, which seems wise to me. April, May, and June dates would follow, with the states participating on a rotating basis. Over a period of sixteen years (which if this were to begin in 2012 would be by 2028, when I will be 67), every region will have been first at least once.

As Secretary Grayson has said, "the current system is broke and needs to be fixed." Actions such as the ones being taken today in New Hampshire and South Carolina are only adding to the problem. You can read more about Secretary Grayson's proposal at his website,, or at the website for the National Association of Secretaries of State which is

What's your take on this?

***** ***** *****

Note: This list is in all likelihood inaccurate at press time.

January 14, 2008 Iowa caucus 56
January 19, 2008 Nevada caucus 33
January 22, 2008 New Hampshire primary 30
January 29, 2008 South Carolina primary 54
January 29, 2008 Florida primary 210

All February 5, 2008
Alabama primary 60
Alaska caucus 18
Arizona primary 67
Arkansas primary 47
California primary 441
Colorado caucus 71
Delaware primary 23
Georgia primary 104
Idaho primary 23
Illinois primary 185
Missouri primary 88
New Jersey primary 127
New Mexico caucus 38
New York primary 280
North Dakota caucus 21
Oklahoma primary 47
Tennessee primary 85
Utah primary 29

February 9, 2008 Lousiana primary 68
February 9, 2008 Michigan caucus 157
February 9 2008 Nebraska[16] caucus 31
February 9, 2008 Washington caucus 97
February 10, 2008 Maine caucus 34
February 12, 2008 District of Columbia primary 37
February 12, 2008 Maryland primary 99
February 12, 2008 Virginia primary 103
February 19, 2008 Wisconsin primary 92
February 26, 2008 Hawaii primary 29

March, 2008 American Samoa primary 9 - exact date not set
March, 2008 Democrats Abroad primary 11 - exact date not set
March, 2008 Guam primary 8 - exact date not set
March, 2008 U.S. Virgin Islands primary 9 - exact date not set
March, 2008 Wyoming primary 18 - exact date not set

March 4, 2008 Connecticut primary 61
March 4, 2008 Massachusetts primary 121
March 4, 2008 Minnesota primary 88
March 4, 2008 Ohio primary 161
March 4, 2008 Rhode Island primary 32
March 4, 2008 Texas primary 228
March 4, 2008 Ohio primary 23
March 8, 2008 Kansas primary 40
March 11, 2008 Mississippi primary 36

April 22, 2008 Pennsylvania primary 181

May 6, 2008 Indiana primary 79
May 6, 2008 North Carolina primary 110
May 13, 2008 West Virginia primary 37
May 20, 2008 Kentucky primary 55
May 20, 2008 Oregon primary 79

June 1, 2008 Puerto Rico primary 58
June 3, 2008 Montana primary 23
June 3, 2008 South Dakota primary 22

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

156. Fancy Farm and more - The Final Part

With the exception of Paducah, all of Kentucky's larger cities lay to the east of Fancy Farm. Given that most of the ten to fifteen thousand souls attending the speech-making part of the picnic are from somewhere other than Fancy Farm, whose unofficial population is set at somewhere around 600, most of those are arriving from the east, along the final segment of Kentucky's Southern Corridor, KY 80, which makes an eight mile journey west from Mayfield's intersection with the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway over to Fancy Farm. As such, and given that I can be something of a contrarion, I usually approach from the north as I did last weekend. My travelling friend and I left from Paducah along US 45 out past the Mount Kenton Cemetery where former US Vice President Alben Barkley lays buried in a grave, whose marker does not identify his distinction as the former McCracken County Attorney, McCracken County Judge, seven-term First District Congressman, five elections as United States Senator, and Vice President of the United States of America. (One of the elections to the Senate came after he had served his vice presidential term). Once past the cemetery, we then passed through the community of Lone Oak, and then off to the south-southwest along KY 339 toward Fancy Farm. Having earlier passed Vice President Barkley's final resting place, along this route we also pass through the hamlet of Loews where he was born. Eventually KY 339 arrives as the north-south artery in Fancy Farm, with the Saint Jerome Catholic Church coming into view on the the left.

Saint Jerome is the reason for the picnic. Fancy Farm is a predominantly Catholic village in Graves County, in a predominantly non-Catholic area about one mile east of the Carlisle-Graves county line. The picnic itself officially dates to 1880, but may be older. It is held as a fundraiser for the parish which serves the Fancy Farm area. At one time Saint Jerome was a seat of education for the community but the parish school has long since closed. There is a school operated by the Graves County Public Schools which now serves the area. Over the years, local controversies have always been a part of the Fancy Farm experience, whether is was pig fams, chicken farms, local zoning proposals, or - as is the case this year - whether or not to merge the Fancy Farm and Loews elementaries into one new and bigger school. The locals oppose it not wanting to lose their last bit of community identification. Governor Fletcher weighed into the matter over the weekend saying he supported delaying the decision until more information could be gathered. As someone whose elementary and high school alma maters have both been closed, I understand the locals being upset. But I've also seen the new and better usage of the buildings which housed my former schools as part of an ongoing and improved education process for the next several generations of students and, in retrospect, my opposition to the closures was more for me than for the future. But, I digress.

Arriving in Fancy Farm from the north allows one to easily find a parking space on the one paved civic parking lot, on the northwest corner of KY 80 and KY 339, across from the church. The picnic itself takes place on the acreage of the old school, which is around the corner and across the street from the church. The old school and its auxiliary buildings are at the front of the lot, which is where the speech-taking used to take place, on the stump of an old tree which has since died and been memorialized. To the rear of the school is the large outdoor Bingo hall, which throughout the day was a continual host to about 500 patrons playing Bingo at any given time. Like any picnic, there were other booths where one could play games of chance including a dunking booth operated by some 5th, 6th, and 7th graders taking turns being dunked - probably hoping so given that the temperature for most of the afternoon hovered at just below 100 degrees. More than a few adults tried to volunteer to be dunked, but to no avail.

Beyond the picnic proper is the large pavilion built in this decade where perhaps 1000 can be seated on bleachers, while the politicians themselves take their places on the grandstand. Looking toward the grandstand, the Republicans tend to set on the right and the Democrats on the left - an appropriate arrangement. Along the far right side of the picnic grounds are the outdoor kitchens where literally thousands of pounds of pork, beef, and mutton are cooking, and have been for a day and a half. The outdoor kitchens run on for about the equivalent of a city block. On the far left side of the pavilion is the parking lot for the RVs, motor homes, and tents of the various campaigns. Moving on behind the pavilion is the large meeting hall of the Knights of Columbus Council #1418, built in 1992. (This KofC Council was chatered in 1906). And, as stated in a previous entry, this is the heart and soul of the picnic, which is the dinner offered for sale, this year costing $9 for an adult and $4 for a child.

The dinner line starts at 11:00 am and from its beginning is long. We stood in line, in 99 degree weather, for nearly forty-five minutes. The line never shortens and the food inside is why. If you ever go to the Fancy Farm Picnic, take the time to stand in line. The dinner consists of a buffet line serving green beans, black eyed peas, limas, corn, tomatoes, onions, slaw, beef, mutton, pork, and fried chicken. Drinks are brought to your table by the locals. Bread and butter are already on the tables. Afterwards, any number of dessert offerings can be picked up from another table. It is, without question, quite an extravaganza, not for the faint of heart or stomach, nor is it any place for a vegetarian or a vegan. Fortunatety, when it comes to food I am none of the above, which is obvious from my more than ample frame.

After dinner comes the speaking. By now, most everyone in the mainstream media has given their takes on the speeches and so I wont except briefly. I will say that even though he is not a Democrat, I have always enjoyed Mitch McConnell's speeches, a cadence of one line which draws people in followed by a second which offers them a zinger. It is a practiced effect he has used for years, and while he seemed off his usual rhythym, he nonetheless delivered the same again. But he was also distracted, something that I've never noticed before. He is off his usual game and that in itself is significant.

Senator McConnells' speech was followed by the governor's - a rehashing of the usual themes used against Democrats built around God and guns. Fletcher left out any attacks on gays, the final third of the Republican Party's typical rants. Steve Beshear followed with an outline against the governor and his corrupted years in office. And from there down the tickets, one side traded barbs with the other. I was most impressed with Jack Conway, but then I am a fan and supporter of his. The speeches go on and on, some short, some long, some interesting, but mostly not. The longest speech (you might say) of the day was not delivered by a politician, but rather a clergyman. The whole event was opened with an Invocation delivered by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, the Most Reverend John J. McRaith. I was standing with four people (all of whom were unsuccessful candidates in the May Primary, whose names will go unpublished for this part of the story) during Father's blessing, which went on and on and on and on and on and on. There were several points where I thought he was concluding the prayer, but I was wrong, as he was only concluding one of the many paragraphs in his prayer. If there were any people thinking of converting because some Baptist prayer-ers tend to be long-winded, the Bishop put to rest any thoughts that Catholic prayers, like some of its masses, tend to be short. Usually at the conclusion of a prayer (of any sort), there is a collective Amen. Not so with the Bishop as most people had stopped listening before he had stopped praying. The Bishop's lengthy prayer was followed by three verses of My Old Kentucky Home.

And so the speeches went. Honestly, I did not listen to all of them and sooner or later, determined the time had came to depart the picnic for some more of a road trip.

Leaving Fancy Farm, we travelled west along KY 80 through the towns of Milburn and Arlington and into the town of Columbus (in Hickman County) where we visited the Columbus-Belmont State Park, of which I've previously written several entries ago. Leaving from there, we cruised along KY 58 to Clinton in Hickman County, then followed US 51 back through Bardwell for yet another search for the Court House, another unsuccessful search. I've since been told where it is and how I missed it. From Bardwell, we continued north to Wickliffe along US 51, finding US 60's western entry into the Commonwealth, along which we rode through Barlow, LaCenter, and back into McCracken County and Paducah, where we put up for the night. Although it was our plan to have a night on the town in Paducah, neither of us were up to after a long day in the sun and heat, and so it was off to bed for night.

[I'll point out here the d'enouement of this entry is fast approaching].

Sunday morning found us preparing for the return trip to the Left Bank of the Ohio river near Milepoint 606. We met some friends for a lunch at the Catfish Haven restaurant on US 641 in Draffenville in Marshall County. The place came highly recommended but frankly, I was not impressed. But, I did eat everything on my plate, including two slabs of catfish. Dinner came with bowls of navy beans, hush puppies, and some very good slightly sweet slaw.

We eventually left the Jackson Purchase region, crossing back over the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on I-24 headed for the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway and Elizabethtown. But - not before one last tourist stop. My fellow traveller wanted to tour the Adsmore House in Princeton, an anti-bellum estate home on North Jefferson Street, formerly owned by the Smith and Garrett families, powerful merchants of Princeton. The last surviving member of the family, the unmarried and childless Katharine Garrett willed the home to the Princeton Library which operates it as a living museum.

In the front left parlor of the home is the century old piano of Robert Garrett, a former resident. When the tour guide asked "Is there a piano player in the group?" I stepped forward. I do not willingly pass up pianos unplayed. She allowed me to take the bench and I played a few verses of "Shall We Gather At The River," a traditional Baptist hymn written by Robert Lowry. So, now I can say I've played the Adsmore Museum!

This was the last stop on our weekend trip to Fancy Farm and the Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky. It was a long weekend and a good break from life in Louisville.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

155. More of the Fancy Trip - Part Two

People tend to think the Fancy Farm experience is solely about politics - imagine that. And, to an extent, a rather large extent, it is. But the soul of the trip is about food as, truthfully, much in life is. One should plan on eating a lot of food and consuming a lot of liquids during the Fancy Farm experience. I always plan on it and my plans are typically over-executed.

From the Marshall County Bean Dinner, it is a few short blocks to the Executive Cottages. The phrase Executive Cottages (or Cabins) is well known to anyone in statewide politics. It only means one place - the cabins alongside Kentucky Lake at the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park. This year, just like last year, the State Democratic Party had reserved #316, which is almost to the end of Executive Drive, off to the right of the Boat Docks. Eddie Jacobs, who works for Steve Beshear, had invited most everyone in Gilbertsville to come by for some hospitality. And there was plenty of hospitality to go around, from pork and mutton barbecue to mushrooms to slaw, and whatever one wished to wash it down. I was drinking lemonade when the announcement came that the Margaritas were ready. There was a time when I would have jumped in line, but then there was a time when I would have done a lot of things I no longer do. I enjoyed some conversation with Eddie and others, including Ken Herndon, who is running for the Metro Council back here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. My friend Will Carle and I talked about his role in the Jack Conway for Attorney General race, as well as some upcoming races. Cathy Allgood Murphy, a lobbyist for the AARP was having a good time - frankly it was hard not to. Eventually, the combination of a bean soup supper added to by more than my share of barbecued pork took its toll. The fact that it was still in the low 90s long after the sun had sunk in the west didn't help. At some point I retired to a short night's rest, as tomorrow (Saturday) was scheduled to begin quite early.

Fancy Farm Day begins in Mayfield, the county seat of Graves County. The Democrats break bread together at the Mayfield High School on Douthitt Street, on the southeast side of the city, at what is called the Graves County Democratic Breakfast. Simultaneously, the Republicans are doing the same at the Graves County High School, which is located alongside the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway at KY 121. Now and then, if one's Friday night lasted way too long, long enough to cloud the mind somewhat the next morning, then one breaks one's fast in the presence of folks from the otherside of the aisle.

The breakfast is a great affair. Country Ham (which admittedly is not my favorite), bacon, biscuits with sausage gravy, grits, tomatoes, melons, and coffee or tea or orange juice. Predictably, I overate. I sat with Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson, and a few others including George Boyd, Bill Ryan, and Steve Horner, formerly of the Louisville-Jefferson County Revenue Commission, on which I served as a commissioner for several years. Harry Johnson, a veteran aide in several races over the years, known since the Ed Hatchett race in 1995 as the man to go to to get yard signs up everywhere, stopped by for a chat as well. Harry is always looking for the next contract. Morgan McGarvey, who I've mentioned before, was there as an aide to Jack Conway. He reported he has finished law school, taken the Bar, and has been hired by the firm of Frost Brown Todd. This morning he was carrying coffee for Conway. Someday Morgan will be the candidate and not the aide.

The breakfast affords the candidates an opportunity to try out a speech, one they can use later in the day at Fancy Farm. All the statewide candidates speak, and then the local magistrates, judges, and councilmembers from Mayfield and Graves County address the crowd. Incidentally, I attended the breakfast alone, as my travelling companion chose to sleep in - or to sleep off a long Friday night.

Being alone, after the breakfast I got the chance to do some driving - a road trip within a road trip. I tend to visit court houses and cemeteries and this trip was no exception. I trekked over to the court house towns of Clinton in Hickman County, Bardwell in Carlisle County, and Wickliffe in Ballard County, where earlier in the week Jack Conway had held a Sportmen's Breakfast which included some skeet shooting - or at least that is what Will Carle reported to me. I ended up in Paducah, the county seat of McCracken County, which is in some ways just a smaller version of Louisville, a town born and bred along a river whose expansion in the 19th century was tied to the Illinois Central Railroad, now mostly part of the Paducah and Louisville Railway System. In the 20th century, Paducah became home to the Atomic Age with federal energy plants being built on its outskirts in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, Paducah's theme is Arts, Rhythm, and Rivers, as it lies at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers.

Let me return to Bardwell for a moment. I drove through Bardwell along US 51 both Saturday and Sunday. I could not find the Court House. I have been there before, at least twice. But, to no avail. If anyone reading can tell me where it is and how I missed it, please let me know.

I collected up my friend and we made our way for Fancy Farm.

To be continued.

Monday, August 6, 2007

154. 237 miles each way - but I drove 723. This is Part One.

Google's directions for the trip from Louisville to Fancy Farm are pretty simple - 65 South to the WK West to I-24 West to the Purchase South to KY 80 West. 237 miles. I have a rule that in my road trips I try to follow. I actually have several but one of them is not to take the same route coming and going. I've written before of the twelve ways to get from Louisville to Frankfort.

I've been going down to Fancy Farm for many years and have seen many changes. And on many of those trips, especially the early ones, I was not in command of the route or the vehicle. Often I was with family, friends, a group such as the Young Democrats or the All Wool and a Yard Wide Democratic Club, or along as an aide in a campaign. My current boss reminded me his last time there was in 1983 and that I was there as well, the summer of politicking spent with the Martha Layne Collins campaign for governor.

I remember being there the year Al Gore came by as a candidate for Vice President. The history lessons tell us that Alben Barkley, born just a few miles north of Fancy Farm along KY 339 in the community of Loews, was a regular during his terms of office in McCracken County, later as a United States Congressman and Senator, as well as Vice President. I can remember the 1995 campaign for governor when Robin Engle was leading a group supporting Larry Forgy for governor, with not just signs, but also bullhorns and airhorns. The era of incivility was in place, ushered in under the direction of United States Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr.

During most of the last ten years, I've driven myself, usually with one or two friends. I've taken my mother, my oldest niece and nephew, and a few others, including one year when my rider was an immigrant from Cuba and we drove a prized possession, a 1968 Cherry Red Mustang convertible (which since March of 2000 has sat in my mother's garage), which on the way back broke down in Irvington, Kentucky, where we had to put up for the night in what was then a motel (and now serves as a string of apartments), waiting for the "79 Auto Parts" place to open the next day in order to replace something that had to do with the alternator. (It might occur to you that Irvington does not fall upon the normal path from Fancy Farm to Louisville). The Mustang made its last trip, political or otherwise, in the 2000 Saint Patrick's Day Parade, transporting - up to a point - Eleanor Jordan, then a candidate for Congress, and Mary Lou Marzian, running for re-election as the 34th District State Representative. They had to walk the last few blocks sans Mustang in the rain. But, I digress.

Having gone to Fancy Farm so many times, I try to find different ways to get there. Other than the trip which ended in Irvington, I usually stick to normal directions upon the return. This year's trip there took me and my travelling companion south toward Bowling Green. I commented upon passing the turn-off to the WK West in Elizabethtown how elated I was not to be exiting at that point. [An aside: under my normal rules of spelling, that word exiting should have two Ts just as travelling has 2 Ls. However, I didn't like the way it looked].

We stayed south on I-65 to the Smith's Grove exit, where I departed from the highway and the schedule to look at a Bed and Breakfast which I've seen advertized for sale on the internet. Taking KY 101 north into the little town, I eventually found the Cave Springs Bed and Breakfast and drove into the driveway, but didn't stay - just looked. There is a cave on the property, hence the name.

From there we returned to Smith's Grove, following KY 101 north to its intersection with southbound US 31W which led into Bowling Green, home of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. My friend had never been there so we took a little tour around the campus, which it seems to me is in a perpetual state of construction. I can never remember being there that some major construction was not underway. After passing a new football stadium and the venerable Ed Diddle Arena basketball stadium, we found our way to US 68-KY 80, and made our way west along what I call Kentucky's Southern Corridor.

Southwest of Bowling Green, one finds the village of South Union and a Shaker Village along the side of the old highway. From there we followed into Russellville in Logan County, the site of a convention at which the delegates thereto voted to join the Confederate States of America during the War Between The States, which some might think is still being waged in some parts along Kentucky's Southern Corridor.

From Russellville west to Elkton along a new and widened Us 68 - KY 80, one passes off to the side the communities of Whippoorwill, Gordonsville, and Daysville. Eventually, the old highway darts off to the left, a straight line concete highway carrying you into the town square of Elkton, where the old Court House has been converted to a museum, and there doesn't seem to be a new court house. We stopped into the Elkton City Hall, also on the square, and were directed one block south, then one block east to a low lying building which looked to have been built in the 1950s, which is presently serving as a Court House. Elkton is at the intersection of KY 80 and KY 181.

West of Elkton, it doesn't take long for the fifth tallest monument in the United States, a 351 foot tall concrete obelisk, to come into view. Like Elkton, the Jefferson Davis Monument is on the old highway, appropriately called the Jefferson Davis Highway. It is located in the tiny village of Fairview, which rests at the Todd - Christian county line. The president of the Confederate States of America, like the president of the United States of America serving during the Civil War, was born in Kentucky; Davis born about seven months prior to Lincoln.

From Fairview, the next city on the trip is Hopkinsville, which is a lot bigger than many think. We drove through downtown and looked, but did not stop, at Farrell's Snappy Service, a culinary fixture since the 1940s, serving their specialty, Hamburgers, sort of like upscale White Castles, from a location right in downtown Hopkinsville.

We left Hopkinsville to the northwest along KY 91 which takes you into Princeton, which was the site of our first Fancy Farm-related event, a garden party at the home of State Representative Mike Cherry, on South Jefferson Street. The Party was a fundraiser for the local Democratic Party and included both local and state speakers. The food and drink was excellent, but minimal. Representative Cherry's house is an interstingly designed house with octogonal rooms and a nautical theme reflecting his service in the United States Navy.

South Jefferson Street in Princeton serves as KY 293, a significant number for me for reasons which will go unstated here, and so we took KY 293 southwest out of town, intersecting with I-24 West a short way later, which took us to US 62, which we used to cross over the Cumberland River a little below Barkley Dam (and Lake) and across the Kentucky Dam (and Lake) and the Tennessee River into the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park at Gilbertsville, where later on Friday evening the Marshall County Bean Dinner was held with a packed house getting their fill of bean soup, cornbread, tomatoes, onions, and coffee or tea - for a price. The food was good and Judge Mike Miller, Marshall's County Judge Executive, gave a good speech revving up the Democrats in attendance.

To be continued.

153. How much longer will we be the United States of America?

I will write about Fancy Farm later. Besides, I am supposed to comment on it at the Metro Democratic Club's meeting tomorrow night. I need to collect my thoughts into some coherent stream of words and ideas, and avoid the usual stream of consciousness style I've been accused on employing when speaking and writing. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day. Etc. Etc. [Shakespeare, Mitchell].

I've been out for a few days, during which, among others things, the bridge on I-35W collapsed in Minnesota. Thoughts and prayers and offers of condolences are extended to those involved and their families.

I can't get past the fact that in this blog I have written more than once about the failures of our government to properly fund itself - a response to the anti-tax propoganda put forth quite successfully during the last 30 years, especially influenced by the leadership of Ronald Reagan (who did in fact raise taxes substantially) and Grover Norquist, whose famous mantra is that he wants to reduce the government to nothing. It is because of the ideals promoted by people like these two, and the politicians who follow them without much thought as to the long term and eventual consequences, that bridges fall sixty feet into a river below.

Our governments - at all levels - have failed to serve the public by making smaller and smaller budget allocations to our ever expanding infrastructure, thus making the Republic less safe with every budget that cuts infrastructure support, especially those which siumltaneously support a war overseas.

It is a very unpleasant thought that accidents such as the I-35W collapse may have been avoided if only politicians were willing to say we need more money to pay for these things, as opposed to caving in to the sentiment that all government spending is intrinsically bad. It isn't. Whenever you hear a politician speak the phrase that she or he supports "No New Taxes," tell them in advance that they will be personally responsible for any injuries or deaths related to an incident such as the one forced upon the drivers in Minneapolis.

At what point will the United States become a land of E Pluribus Unum again, as opposed to the Me-Only and to Hell with You attitude cast upon us, willingly and wittingly, by the Grover Norquists of the world? Once we were a beacon to other countries, the city shining on a hill, as President Reagan used to say. Once we espoused the notions set forth in Emma Lazarus' poem, so much so that we engraved her words into the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

The more prevalent attitude of this country today is the one Joseph and Mary found when looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem - "There's No Room Here For You."


Sunday, August 5, 2007

152. More to Come, but right now I'm tired.

Stay tuned. Report on Fancy Farm will follow soon. My trip, once I got to the western end of the state, began at the home of State Representative Mike Cherry in Princeton and ended at the Adsmore Historic Home, also in Princeton. But there were lots of stops in between. Right now, though, I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

151. Happy Birthday Mamaw

Today would have been my grandmother's 91st birthday were she living. Vivian "Tommie" Hockensmith died of a heart attack at the age of 59 back in 1976. Later that same year my other grandmother, Grace Noble, whose birthday is January 8th, also died - she was 61. While the death dates are important, the birthdates provide an easy way of being remembered - 8/1 and 1/8.

My grandmother whose birthday is today is largely responsible for my interest in reading, writing, politics, and most everything else. In was in her house that I was raised. She was a politician, organizer, rather outspoken, and a little ahead of her time on some thoughts. Steve Beshear wouldn't have his gambling issue if my grandmother had gotten her way in politics back in the early 1960s. Her proposal then was to dedicate a portion of downtown Louisville to gambling. The district would have been from 3rd to 9th streets and from the river south to Chestnut. Had her idea succeeded, it is possible Louisville's grand hotels along 4th Street would not have fallen into disrepair, as they did in the 1970s and early 1980s. There would, in fact, have been more of them, with casinos attached. We may not have had the procession of names for the "pedestrian mall" created when 4th Street was closed in the 1970s. Remember 4th Street, then the River City Mall, then the 4th Street Mall, then 4th Avenue, and finally a return to sanity and roots back to 4th Street.

I'm not saying I would have agreed with all her ideas. She was, perhaps, as progressive as a Dixiecrat could have been for her time. She was looking forward to Jimmy Carter getting elected president when she died, although at the time Carter was not widely known or supported. She had supported Henry Jackson in 1972 but once McGovern took the nomination, she followed suit. She took me to hear Mrs. McGovern speak when that campaign made at stop in Louisville at what would become my high school alma mater. She liked Johnson and Humphrey, but both was a wee bit too liberal for her.

I've only recently learned that she spent some time working for a real estate office while living in Providence, Rhode Island while her husband was away in WW2. My mother was then a small child. They also lived in New York City and briefly somewhere on Long Island, waiting for his return from across the pond. When he did eventually come home, they settled in Louisville, despite very strong family ties to Frankfort, where she was born and raised, having attended Second Street School and joining the Choateville Christian Church. She never worked after my grandfather's return from the war. They lived on W. Bloom Street, where the Cardinal Hall dorm is presently. Later they lived on Southern Parkway while building a new house out in the middle of no-where, into which they moved in the summer of 1958, the house in which my brother and I were raised. My mother still lives there.

Upon her death, she was buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens, outside of Frankfort, on Versailles Road. May her soul and the souls of all those who have left this place Rest In Place.


The blog is taking a four-to-six day break. I'll be in Fancy Farm Saturday for the annual political picnic, and otherwise enjoying a short vacation.

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.