Wednesday, December 31, 2008

427. End of Year Rambling

2008 comes to an end in a few hours, thankfully. The thankfully is both good and bad, as is always the case. Was 2008 bad? There were mistakes here and there and I had to do some work to keep a seat on the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee. There were campaigns with liars as their chiefs (or chiefettes) and others with calm, collected, and honest leadership. I met and worked with a Harvard Law School graduate who was a former College Democrats Executive Director who worried and fussed over every thing and led our first term congressman here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 to a second term in the 111th Congress, winning the race by receiving more votes than any other partisan candidate ever on a Jefferson County ballot. That was, thankfully, a good thing. 2008 brings (almost) an end to the eight years of a junta-led federal government, a government stolen from the voters by Katherine Harris and others in Florida and five members of a nine member panel with offices at #1 First Street NE in Washington, DC. 2008, thankfully, saw the election of an biracial president younger than me by eleven months, born in a state which was admitted to the Union just under two years before his birth. That was a good thing. 2008 also saw the collapse of the Republic's financial system, a collapse brought on by over-eager tax-cutters dating back to the late 1970s, whose political mantra has been to reduce government to a point that it would eventually disappear. They've caused weak-backed politicians to vote to cut taxes over and over, especially taxes on corporations. Most of the tax dollars that used to go into reinvestment in the governments now goes into overseas jobs which cost less to fund and mean more money in the pockets of the top brass of those same corporation. Thankfully this new young biracial president has an interest in building and rebuilding America's infrastructure, the way FDR did in the 1930s, the way Eisenhower planned in the 1950s, and with a zeal hopefully equal to that of JFK whose determination led America to the Moon within a ten year window. If only we had local officials with the same determination.

We'll leave that for 2009.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

426. Five Gold Rings

Earlier this evening a friend and I were tooling around town when he - my friend, who is an atheist - noted the number of Christmas lights still burning in windows and yards. I remarked we were only on the fifth day of the season, a remark met with a polite but obvious smirk. "What do you mean, the fifth day?" I answered, "Haven't you ever heard the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and all the associated gifts?" I knew he had - he is a musician himself, and sang in the choir as a kid at both Ballard High School and Bates Memorial Baptist Church. He said he did, but never really knew there was a whole season devoted to Christmas, other than the marketing one "as seen on TV."

For Christians who follow the liturgical calendar, we are on the Fifth Day of Christmas, the one with the Five Gold Rings, which apparently did not refer to any rings on your fingers, but rather to the ring-necked pheasants popular with the nobility and royalty. There are, of course, twelve different days of gifts, from the first day's "partridge in a pear tree," to the twelfth's "twelve lords a leaping." The song first appeared in print as a poem in a British children's book in 1780, but probably dates back to a century earlier from France. In any event, we have seven more days of Christmas left, both in the song and in the season. Then comes Epiphany on January 6th. Very early in the blog, in the third entry, was a posting called Epiphany, although the text of that post was more about our local form of government than anything else.

Until the 6th of January, continue to enjoy the Christmas season, even if, for whatever reason, you do not celebrate the Twelve Days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

425. Annual Pilgrimage

Today was the day I returned to my roots. I tend to do it every year around this time, as do many other folks. It's one of those annual pilgrimages - mine to the malls for Christmas shopping - specifically Jefferson Mall, in Okolona, whence I came - my hometown, if you will.

As a rule - a strong rule - I do not shop at malls. Other than taking someone else to one, I avoid them. I try to shop locally, which for me means inside the Watterson Expressway, or more emphatically, inside Eastern Parkway. The exception to this shopping inside of Eastern Parkway is to do shopping in the little towns and burgs I encounter in my back road travels. Back in September during a visit to a Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee meeting in Auburn, Kentucky, I stopped along the way back shopping at the North Visitors Center of the Land Between the Lakes for some t-shirts. Elsewhere on that trip, I stopped again at a flea market just outside of Henderson along US 60.

Or I like to go to bookstores. Through the year, my tendency is to stop in Carmichael's on Bardstown Road or Poor Richard's in Frankfort on Broadway. Out in the state, I've shopped this year at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, the Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, the Kentucky Horse Park north of Lexington on Iron Works Pike, and at Lonnie Napier's Clothing Store on the square in downtown Lancaster.

But, there comes a day that whatever hasn't been bought for Mom and Dad and Kevin and the kids, and the handful of others I usually do a gift for, must be bought. For me, that day is today. And for me, when in need I travel to suburbia along Outer Loop at Jefferson Mall. Frankly, it is an alien world of moms and dads and teenagers and grandparents waiting in line for the kids to see Santa, who was stationed just outside the Sears (still there after all these years) at the eastern end of the mall. I had already planned to go there to buy some things for someone very special in my life - me. I am in need of some new dress shirts and the S&K Mens Store, where I like to shop, had sent me a 60% off coupon.

As it turns out, I would going out that day today anyway, taking my father home, which is to say to my mother's, from Norton Hospital, where he has been for a few days. Mom still lives in the house I grew up in which is not far from Jefferson Mall. I can clearly remember when Jefferson Mall wasn't there and Outer Loop was a common country lane, two lanes wide, from start to end - Third Street Road to Fegenbush Lane. Have you ever checked out the 100 block of Outer Loop? Without question, it is the longest numbered block in Louisville, running from 3rd Street Road to a little east of New Cut Road, a distance of more than a mile. In theory, that should be eleven or twelve blocks, and not just one. But, I digress.

Jefferson Mall's address is 4801 Outer Loop. It sits in what used to be a corn and soybean field, a part of the farm whose homestead still sets on the north side of the road, opposite Robbs Lane. The farm ran from just east of Carol Avenue/Schooler Avenue to just past Robbs Lane, and north to the old Egypt Lane right-of-way, which has been closed since even before the mall was built.

That happened in the 1970s and it has provided employment for a number of people I knew growing up, including me and my mother. In the 1980s, I worked at the Tinder Box Cigar Shop, owned by Norman Igar. The entrance to his walk-in humidor was marked with the appellation Igar's cIgars. Cute. I've also watched nearly every acre of space between the mall back to Preston Highway be developed. There are current plans to develop the land east of the mall, the only large parcel of land left in Okolona generally untouched by development.

When I worked in the mall, it was arranged somewhat differently, and there was no humongous food court, a place where today perhaps one thousand of God's souls were enjoying food fit for very few if any. And there were no mid-aisle kiosks, or kiosques, as I have seen it otherwise spelled. Today, the central aisle is filled to the max with these small free-standing heralds of economic activity. I saw my young Pakistani friend from the old Dad's Food Market on East Broadway operating one of these. He is a college student who aspires to be a doctor, and I asked him how the schooling was going. He reported it is rough but he is progressing, a good thing.

Many of the store names have changed or they have simply disappeared. The mall was originally anchored by Stewart's and Penney's and Shillito's and Sears [with no apostrophe as it was once Sears and Roebuck's], if I remember correctly. Stewart's became Bacon's which became Hess's and a slew of other names, one starting with an L, before it disappeared altogether. At the original western entrance was an Orange Julius place. Now, I'll be honest, I hadn't thought about Orange Juliuses in years until about a week ago when in a walk over to the Henry Clay Hotel downtown, one of my fellow travellers mentioned she remembered coming downtown to have an Orange Julius, somewhere down closer to Fourth and Broadway. Admittedly, she is older than me and I do not remember the store in question. But, I do remember Orange Juliuses to be had at Jefferson Mall in the 1980s and 1990s. And since she mentioned it the other day, I've been wanting one, but not enough to seek one out. Well, there is still a place there to get one, although I was so excited about seeing the display, I have no idea what the place is actually called. Then, I realized just how long ago it has been since I've had an Orange Julius at Jefferson Mall. And proving I am getting to be an old man, I told the server behind the counter a story which began with the words, "You're not old enough to know this but . . . " Any story which begins with those words is usually told only for the gratification of the story-teller as opposed to the young listener. Today's episode was no different. He just looked at me as I explained where the Orange Julius store used to be. It occurred to me that since he was probably 16 or 17, it is entirely possible that even his parents are too young to remember the old location. Nonetheless I rambled on as he prepared the concoction, pouring the powder and the ice in the blender, whizzing it around for a minute, and serving it up in a cup. That made the whole pilgrimage worthwhile.

In fact, that may have been the reason for the pilgrimage. People tend to go on these religious pilgrimages because it is something they and their parents have done for years - a tradition. Often they go without knowing what good - or bad - will come of the journey. If they find some inner light or raison d'etre, so be it. That is a big deal and very important to them. For me, on a much lighter and personally fulfilling note, returning to the burbs and hitting the mall had a purpose - finding an Orange Julius and remembering the way Jefferson Mall used to be back in the old days.

That's all for now - I still have a few things to go buy.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

424. Tis the Season

Happy Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish but some people I know are - my friend Jessie, my first boss in Okolona Mr. Klein, another boss at Jefferson Mall from back in 1980s Norman Igar, Jacob Payne over at PageOne, and several others, such as my congressman and his PR guy, my dear friend Stuart. Hanukkah, an eight day celebration also known as the Festival of Lights, began at Sundown several hours ago earlier this evening.

Today, of course, was the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, and thus the first day of Winter. Mother Nature responded here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 with an influx of cold air and strong winds. It is currently 10 degees with the mercury expected to fall a little more before Sunrise tomorrow.

For most of today, as well as yesterday, I was moving furniture - both mine and my friend Morgan's. We both chose the coldest and shortest day of the season for a lot of work, for which, frankly, I am getting too far old. My move was about six blocks; his was closer to 50 miles. He had rented a U-Haul trailer in which we moved the larger pieces of each of our collections of furniture. We have just finished in the last few minutes. We've both vowed that this will be our last move.

This move of mine is one the three big changes I have been preparing for the last few weeks. The second of these is a change in jobs. It has been announced over at City Hall that I will be joining the Metro Council as a Legislative Aide to the newly elected Democratic 26th District Councilman, Brent Ackerson. Brent and I will assume our new roles on January 5. Brent is the first councilmember since merger who was elected to a district previously held by a member of the other Party, in this case Republican Ellen Call.

The third big change is one I've not quite settled on yet, and it appears that my self-imposed deadline of making a decision on this matter by December 31, 2008 will not be met. It was a deadline I set back in the summer of 2003. But, I have been regularly attending the Episcopal Church of the Advent, participating in activities and making a weekly contribution to the collection. This week, as part of Advent's decoration of the church for Christmas, I donated a Pointsettia in memory of my friend Rob Spears. And I expect I'll be attending Mass there late on Christmas Eve. But, I'm still on the fencepost.

Last week the Mass included a Receiving Service for adults previously baptised or confirmed, who were moving their church home to the Episcopal Church and specifically to the Episcopal Church of the Advent. There were four "receivees" accepted by the Bishop, the Very Reverend Ted Gulick, who was present (as required) for such a service. I outted myself to several people there admitting this was something I had been pondering but had not committed to. As regularly as I have been attending, some were surprised I am not already a member, if not at Advent, then at least at some Episcopal Church. But, not yet.

Finally, 'tis the season. Christmas is upon us, a time of renewal, hope, joy, emergence, and redemption. For the first time in much of my life, people are actually into the religious aspects of the season. We are living in an era of gloom and doom, ill-winded economic forecasts, and layoffs and cutbacks and furloughs and pay reductions. It has given most of us pause - a time to reflect - meaning to look back or again, but more importantly, a time to look forward, to the Christmas Season, and to 2009 and the changes on the way for our Republic.

Thanks Be To God.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

423. Some Fun. Copied from another blog.

The instructions are to copy and paste the list in your own blog and color all of the things YOU have done. Things you haven't done will be in black. Since I don't know how to do colors, the things I have done will be in regular Roman letters; those I haven't will be in italics. I'll make comments along the way.

1. Started my own blog - you are reading it.
2. Slept under the stars - several times, including during the blackout from Hurrican Ike.
3. Played in a band - unless you count elementary school.
4. Visited Hawaii - the one state I've missed.
5. Watched a meteor shower - at Cherokee Park, on the golf course. By the way, there was a meteor shower last night.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity - not many times, but thankfully more than once.
7. Been to Disneyland/world - Once, to Disney World.
8. Climbed a mountain - Mount Greylock, North Adams, Massachusetts. But the one I really want to climb is Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welch.
9. Held a praying mantis - lots when I was younger.
10. Sung a solo - At Prestonia Elementary School, in the 5th grade, singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. It wasn't supposed to be a solo. No one else knew the words.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - yes, when I was 5, with my mother and my Aunt Jean Moore, back when you could go al the way up to the top of the torch.
18. Grown my own vegetables - regularly.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train - I really want to do this sometime.
21. Had a pillow fight. No comment.
22. Hitchhiked - back in the late 1970s.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - no comment.
24. Built a snow fort - I can only remember doing this once, in 1966 or 1967 as a very young boy.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping. Several times, most memorably in Benson Creek behind the North Benson Baptist Church.
27. Run a Marathon (yeah, right!)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse - yes, at 2:00 one afternoon here in Louisville in the 1990s.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - regularly.
31. Hit a home run (Little League) - I did try, but no.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - but I was little and can;t honestly say I remember it.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - every time I go to Frankfort.
35. Seen an Amish community - there are several south of Louisville.
36. Taught myself a new language - I've tried with some success to learn Arabic thanks to my friend Sattar Al-Soddoun.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - When, Lord when?
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - not interested.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - at Saint Therese's Summer Picnic.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - I want to, though.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - more than once.
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted - sort of. Not painted but drawn by charcoal and by a caricaturist. The latter was my late Uncle Don, who regularly drew all of us.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain - this brings back unprintable memories.
53. Played in the mud - we had crawdads and snakes in my back yard growing up, so yes.
54. Gone to a drive-in - the old Preston when I was kid.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - if my political consultancy counts.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen - at the Fransciscan Shelter House on Preston Street.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - regularly.
65. Gone sky diving. You know, Dottie Priddy did that once.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - regularly.
68. Flown in a helicopter (hot air balloon?) - both, the latter in Frankfort.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - several.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - yes, and I will again on January 19 or 20.
71. Eaten caviar - yes, once, and no more.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square - twice, but need to again.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job - at least twice.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - several.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - once, with my brother at the wheel (so to speak).
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car - actually a truck, my old 2002 Ranger, which now belongs to my friend Morgan.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper - a few times.
85. Read the entire Bible - more than once.
86. Visited the White House - once, but plan to again someday.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox - when I was a kid.
89. Saved someone’s life. I could only hope.
90. Sat on a jury - once.
91. Met someone famous - several, including the president-elect.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one - see the previous entry.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit - a few here and there.
98. Owned a cell phone - isn't this a little too common a question?
99. Been stung by a bee - and nearly died.
100. Ridden an elephant - no, but I have ridden a horse.

Are you as bored today as I am?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

422. Happy Birthday Rob

December 13, 2008 would have been the 35th birthday of my friend Rob. Rob died in a motorcycle wreck on July 24, 1991, at the age of 17, or 17 1/2. It has been about 17 1/2 years since his passing. I often think of him. He has now been gone for as long as he was alive.

Happy Birthday Rob.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

421. Trivial Answers, and a highway

Ok, I'm a little pissed that no one bothered to fill out any of my trivia answers. Maybe no one is really reading. So, I am giving you part of it - the trivial part.

The answers are:
a) one who has never held public office -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD
b) one who has ran as both a Democrat and a Republican -- JOHN YARMUTH
c) one who has been elected in all three branches in two different governments -- IRV MAZE (County Commissioner (legislative), County Attorney (executive), Circuit Judge (state judicial))
d) two who have served in both the state and the federal legislatures -- ANNE NORTHUP (State House, Federal House) and BARACK OBAMA (State Senate, Federal Senate)
f) two who have ran for the old Louisville Board of Aldermen -- JERRY ABRAMSON and JOHN YARMUTH
g) two blacks -- DENISE CLAYTON and BARACK OBAMA
h) two who have ran for Jefferson County Commissioner -- IRV MAZE and JOHN YARMUTH
i) two originally from Okolona -- this one is a mistake I think. If it isn't, the answers are IRV MAZE and DAVID STENGEL, but I think Stengel would be the 11th highest vote-getter. Has to be my mistake because I know a few of these who've probably never been to Okolona.
k) two who have ran as Republicans -- JOHN YARMUTH and ANNE NORTHUP
l) two who presently serve in the only office to which they’ve ever been elected -- SHERIFF JOHN AUBREY and CONGRESSMAN JOHN YARMUTH
m) two sitting judges -- DENISE CLAYTON and IRV MAZE
n) two who commonly go by their middle names -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD and F. DANIEL MONGIARDO
o) three who won Jefferson County but lost the rest of the state -- W. BRUCE LUNSFORD (2008), F. DANIEL MONGIARDO (2004), and BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA (2008)
p) three whose first name begins with the letter J -- JOHN AUBREY, JOHN YARMUTH, and JERRY ABRAMSON
r) eight presently in office -- This one is wrong. It should say seven who are in office. Lunsford is the odd-man out, but I had originally included Obama, failing to remember that he had resigned his now very controversial United States Senate seat.
s) eight Kentuckians (although at least two of them were born in other states) -- All but PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA, who was born in Hawaii. IRV MAZE was born in Indiana.
t) and one is listed twice, but for two different offices -- IRV MAZE, as County Attorney and at the top of the list as Circuit Judge.

Thanks for playing anyway.


Unrelated, today being entry #421, I could have written about one of Kentucky's forgotten US highways, US421, which meanders across the Commonwealth in a northcentral to southeast direction in anything but a straight line. From Louisville, the closest points to intercept it are in Trimble County at US42 in Bedford, or in Franklin County down along Wilkinson Boulevard in one of Kentucky's original settlements, Leestown, which was later made a part of Frankfort.

But, I didn't. I gave you some trivia instead.


I'll be back soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

420. A Trivia Quiz to keep you busy while I am away.

Here is a quick entry of some political trivia.

Question: Who (what candidate) in any race is the top vote-getter in Jefferson County?

Question: Who (what candidate) in a partisan race is the top vote-getter running in all the precincts in Jefferson County?

Question: Who (what candidate) in a partisan race is the top vote-getter running in all or part of Jefferson County?

Below are some numbers. They represent the highest vote totals for one person in a race in all or part of Jefferson County. To whom do you think they belong?

1. 229,293 - __________________
2. 222,527 - __________________
3. 203,843 - __________________
4. 198,541 - __________________
5. 197,736 - __________________
6. 196,435 - __________________
7. 195,564 - __________________
8. 173,258 - __________________
9. 171,601 - __________________
10. 170,384 - __________________

Here are a bunch of hints.

The answers include:
a) one who has never held public office,
b) one who has ran as both a Democrat and a Republican,
c) one who has been elected in all three branches in two different governments,
d) two who have served in both the state and the federal legislatures,
e) two women,
f) two who have ran for the old Louisville Board of Aldermen,
g) two blacks,
h) two who have ran for Jefferson County Commissioner,
i) two originally from Okolona,
j) two Jews,
k) two who have ran as Republicans,
l) two who presently serve in the only office to which they’ve ever been elected,
m) two sitting judges,
n) two who commonly go by their middle names,
o) three who won Jefferson County but lost the rest of the state,
p) three whose first name begins with the letter J,
q) five attorneys,
r) eight presently in office,
s) eight Kentuckians (although at least two of them were born in other states),
t) and one is listed twice, but for two different offices.

Finally, the eldest of these elected officials is more than 22 years older than the youngest.

Even if you can’t match up the numbers, at least give me the names. And don't cheat. All the answers are easy to find.


See you in a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

419. Thanksgiving; our 40,000th visitor; Time for a Holiday

Last night I attended a Thanksgiving Dinner Party hosted by Lisa Tanner and Lauren Ingram, two local Democratic Party activists. The party was mostly attended by folks younger than me, some much younger. Fortunately, Brooke Pardue and her husband, as well as Senator Perry Clark, also attended, so I wasn’t the oldest one there, which is often the case. For many years at Democratic Party events I was the youngest person present – back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Fortunately, that has all changed and younger Democrats are taking over the Party and that is a good thing for the future of the Commonwealth and the Republic. A long wave of conservatism, conceived in the 1950s and 60s, and brought to fruition in the 70s and 80s, has finally begun to subside. The political pendulum has begun a swing to our direction. Thanks Be To God.

A Thanksgiving blessing was offered at the dinner by Will Carle, a young Louisville Democrat working in the governor’s office in Frankfort. Will is one of my favorite people and has a long political future ahead of him. As an aside, Will’s father, Ed, and I work in side-by-side offices. In saying Grace, Will gave thanks for the gains we have all made in the last year, prayed for those less fortunate, and sought guidance for the future. It was an excellent prayer.

The food had been prepared by Lauren and Lisa and others. I was directed to bring a particular item, which I did. I also brought along my friend Keith. We ate and drank (ginger ale for me), listened to music, and told stories. It was a very good night and a very good beginning for the upcoming holiday season.

During the next several weeks, I will be moving six blocks north, from a nice townhouse which I love, to an older house that needs works and attention. I am regretting the leave from where I am but am also looking forward to the challenge of redoing the new house, one built in the 1890s in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, north of E. Main Street, just over a mile east of the Jefferson County Court House. Preparing for the move, and then coming to live in the house, are appropriate activities at this time of year, known in the Liturgical Calendar as Advent, a word ultimately loosely defined as an arrival, derived from the Latin, venire, to come. It has come to mean in modern English a time of new beginning.

Lots of us go through times of reflection and change. Often these thoughts, observations, and recollections take place during these darker and shorter days, as we are experiencing now. We are in the season where the nights are longer than the days and will remain so until the longest night, a few days before Christmas, at which point begins a lengthening of the hours of daylight. It is an excellent time for reflection and decision.

This year was to be a year of decision for me on a very important topic, a decision I haven’t completely made but anticipate I will in the next few weeks. In 2003 I proposed to myself the idea of switching religions, although I did not know to which religion I would eventually go. I set as a deadline for this decision the end of this year giving me a period of a little over five years to make such a move. I have been a member of the Roman Catholic Church since May, 1979 when I was 18 years old. My father claims that I’ve always been Catholic since I was baptized as such on October 9, 1960, a few days after my birth. But I date my membership to that day in May when I was formally received, confirmed, and took my First Communion at Holy Family Catholic Church on Poplar Level Road, a place I have loved and worked hard for, at numerous events, picnics, bingos, and where I still lector at the 8:30 mass four months out of the year. It is likely that formal association will end in the next few weeks. I believe my move will be to the Episcopal faith, one that is very closely related to Roman Catholicism, but also one which is also very different. I haven’t completely decided, but I am very close. It has been and is a difficult decision for me. I’ve written about it several times during the life of the blog.

So I have this religious decision to make - and I am changing residences. I’ve also been offered a different job. The times they’re a’ changing. Change can be good, even when it is feared, whether the fear is founded in reality or not. Maybe it is middle-aged nerves giving way, knowing that when my birthday rolls around in the upcoming year, it will be my last before I hit 50. That startles me even now, twenty-two months ahead of the occasion.

Thus it is the blog is going on a needed respite, one I’ve been working toward for some time. To the 40,000th visitor, who arrived at 12:39 p.m. today all the way from somewhere in Germany, thank you for stopping by here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. And to the 39,999 previous visitors, thank you too. I very much appreciate your visits.

Enjoy yourselves during the break. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Merry Christmas to those of you for whom, like me, that is important.

Here are some familiar words from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3.

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace.

Until the next entry, let this be a time of peace. See you around New Year’s.

-- Jeff

Sunday, November 23, 2008

418. An Brief Answer to H. B. Elkins and some thoughts on a Chair.

Mr. H. B. Elkins visited here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 in the last twenty-four hours or so. Google his name and you will come up with "highway pages." His pages are some of my favorite reading material. Here is a link to one of them: Go visit it and you will understand why I like it - you may not, but regular readers will understand why I do. I have been known to lift a picture here and there from his pages. He has some excellent photos of Kentucky (and other state's) highway signs.

In his recent visit, he mentions the southern route to our nation's capital along I-77 and I-64 through southcentral West Virginia, tolls and all, as an alternate route since I am concerned about January snow up in western Maryland along Interstate 68. I appreciate his visit and his suggestion. As many of you know, I have a rule, loosely interpreted and followed (remember, I am liberal and we tend to loosely interpret and follow a number of rules), which says where at all possible routes to and from a destination should be along differing roads. Longtime readers may recall an early entry called Twelve Ways to Frankfort, or something like that.

For our trip to DC, we are planning a return along this southern course. I've been that way before. When leaving DC, if time allows, I'd like to at least drive past Charlottesville and pay homage to Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, and perhaps glance over a look at the University of Virginia. One of my travelling companions is a graduate of Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College, in Lynchburg. She and the rest of us are hopeful to pass by her Alma Mater as well. So, it is our intention to use Mr. Elkins' suggestion on our way back to the Commonwealth. Mr. Elkins is always free to visit and make further suggestions, even political ones if he so chooses.

I mentioned before the twelve roads to Frankfort. It is true that there are at least twelve ways to get there from here in Jefferson County. Leaving Frankfort seems to be more difficult for some. One person can't seem to get away despite everyone's belief that she was in fact leaving, either by invitation or of her accord, yesterday. It seems she will leaving of her own accord on her own schedule. The Kentucky Democratic Party Chair, Louisville attorney Jennifer Moore, has announced in this morning's Courier-Journal (in an interview conducted several days ago), something she failed to mention yesterday when the Party was "in General Assembly," that is that she is planning to resign her post sometime soon. For anyone who has been reading, this comes as no surprise - Jacob Payne has been writing about this for several months as an a priori fait accompli, something which is on the face of it is not entirely the case.

It is no secret I have had difficulties with the KDP under Jennifer's leadership. I haven't kept that from doing my work for my Party and its candidates. During yesterday's meeting of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, a body on which I have a vote thanks to people like Jacob Payne and John Sommers voicing there opinions, Jennifer took the time to thank me, along with Lisa Tanner, for the excellent results in Congressman Yarmuth's recent victory, our second in as many tries over Anne Northup. I appreciate the Chair doing so. The Chair and I worked together, with many others, on Election Day, in the Kentucky Democratic Party "war room," fielding calls from across the Commonwealth covering a wide variety of issues. I enjoy the work and I enjoy Jennifer's friendship. I suspect one day she will be a candidate for statewide office and it is possible that I will seriously consider supporting her.

I'm saying all this because I genuinely like our Chair, despite my concerns about some of the outcomes of this month's elections. Someone must take the blame for losses in three Senate races, two House races in west Kentucky, as well as our losses in the Second Congressional District and the United States Senate race. Some of it can be placed on the so-called Coordinated Campaign and the person hired not by Jennifer and the KDP but rather by the Democratic National Senatorial Committee. Others can rightfully say that some of our candidates didn't broadly differ from their's and people chose not to go with a new horse. While the rest of the Republic voted for change, Kentucky did not. A lot of people want to place the blame on President-elect Barack Obama. I don't accept that although I know his presence at the top of the ticket inexplicably remains a problem for some of Kentucky's voters. But people like Senator Joey Pendleton and State Representative-elect Martha Jane King managed to work around whatever problems some of the voters in Todd, Logan, and Christian counties (none the most liberal of places) may have had with the president-elect. Ultimately, even if they are (or aren't) responsible, the buck stops at the top of the chain with the Chair.

Wisely, the Chair has announced her imminent departure. Left unsaid was whether or not the Vice Chair and the Executive Director, as well as any of her appointees (treasurer, counsel, secretary) will follow her lead. I do not know our new secretary but find no reason why she should leave. The treasurer has a vote elsewhere on the committee, so he is not leaving. Legal counsels tend to come and go with the changing of the Chair.

Whatever happens, there is a great deal of work for the Party to do in preparation for 2010. While we may not have won all the races we should have in 2008, we have added to our institutional knowledge, we have benefitted from the Party's work with "the Voter File," and we have a team in place whose work carries on irrespective of those who sit in the seats of the mighty after they have departed therefrom. For the State Central Committee, our work goes on, our hopes and dreams endure, and looking ahead to a change in Frankfort is nothing - nothing at all - in comparison to the change America wanted, needed, deserved, and delivered to itself (notwthstanding Kentucky's vote tally) in the election of Barack Obama.

Thanks Be To God.

Friday, November 21, 2008

417. Death Penalty Revisited

Back on January 20 of this year, I entered a post explaining my opposition to the Death Penalty. Kentucky observes capital punishment for certain crimes. My involvement with and oppostion to the Death Penalty is explained in that entry as well as one on April 16.

Marco Chapman is scheduled to be executed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky later tonight for the murders of Cody and Chelbi Sharon, children of a woman he raped and brutally stabbed. He also attempted to kill another sister, Courtney. There is nothing good about the story of Marco Chapman. There is probably nothing good about Marco Chapman. Punishing him by death will not reverse the crimes he committed. He deserves, as punishment, to live a long life of incarceration, with three meals a day and only so much medical attention as to keep him naturally alive. This should be his punishment for the horrible crimes he committed - not death, but the deprivation of life, a deprivation of the living of a life of any comfort or convenience, of any meaning or measure. His acts took the lives of others. The Commonwealth should reward him not with death, but with the worst of lives, wholly and fully incarcerated, with no parole or probation, no visits, no friends, no family, in short no life.

I oppose the taking of anyone's life in my name by the Commonwealth. I strongly support the idea of Life without Parole as a more deserving sentence.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

416. In Passing

Many of my recollections from childhood center of holidays and eating. As we enter this year's holiday season, one person from those memories has now slipped into the irretrievable past, a place where also resides most of those others who fill the holiday scenes of my childhood.

I took my mother across the river to Clarksville, Indiana today to attend the funeral services for her uncle, Paul Smith, who died Sunday at the age of 82. Uncle Paul was born in and, like my grandfather Hockensmith's younger sister Mildred whom he later married, was raised in the little town of Bethlehem, which is about 29 miles upstream along the Right Bank of the Ohio in Clark County, Indiana. I've written of Bethlehem before in an entry on July 27, 2007.

From Bethlehem, Uncle Paul and Aunt Mildred moved to Clarksville where they have remained since. Memories of Uncle Paul center on Thanksgiving or Christmas parties, held either at our house in southern Jefferson County or their's in Clarksville. One of my earliest memories, probably from when I was 4 or 5, was Uncle Paul coming into our kitchen, before the addition of the Family Room in `1968, with a pie in each hand, pies made by my Aunt Mildred. Or, when we celebrated at their house, their kitchen, along the back side of the house, was always filled with food of all kinds. In addition to Uncle Paul and Aunt Mildred were their children, Mike and Paula, and later Mike and Paula's children, which numbered four. Now, there are great-grandchildren, none of whom I know, but many of whom I saw today in the tiny Chapman Funeral Home on Harrison Avenue in Old Clarksville.

I will always remember Uncle Paul with a smile - he was a very pleasant man, at least for those few hours a year when my family visited his family in the dark of Winter.

Uncle Paul Smith, Rest In Peace. May his soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace.


Today is the birthday of a friend of mine, Darryl Wilkins, husband of Hazel Hartley, friends since the mid 1990s. You may have seen Darryl on the tee-vee this political season. He was the United States Navy Veteran featured in one of Congressman John Yarmuth's campaign commercials. Happy Birthday, Darryl.

Today would have been my grandfather Noble's 102nd birthday. He died in July, 1987.


Finally, at the close of the workday, Louisville had its first real snow shower. It didn't stick, it didn't last, and its all gone now. But, it made for a pretty sight as the sun descended over the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

All is good. Pray for my Aunt Mildred and her family.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

415. Do I really want to be in the middle of 4,000,000 people outside in January?

Me and three friends, two females and a male, are planning a road trip to Washington DC - in January - specifically on the 20th. All of us are political, all of us are politically engaged, and we all want to be a part of history, to use a well-used cliche.

So off we will leave on Sunday or Monday in a car. It's basically a ten hour drive from here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 to there along the Left Bank of the Potomac River right at Milepost 96. Hopefully we won't encounter any snow along the way in West Virginia or the Marylanbd panhandle.

Once there, we'll make our way to our lodgings, which as of yet are not wholly determined, although we have a few good leads. What to do with the car will be a problem, as many roads in and out of the city will be closed off. The DC area is bracing for a four-million-person invasion, four times the amount of any previous inaugural - this in addition to the nearly 600,000 people who live in the District itself, many of whom will likely turn out in this historic event.

Now, more than a few people know that I tend to be claustrophobic, whether a room is big or small. At meetings and others places, I tend to stand in the back, close to an exit. At church, I sit two pews from the back on the left. The church has two doors back there, one in the middle and one on the left. Where it is I'll be standing amidst these 4,000,000 plus souls is something I haven't determined.

It might be on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, pretty far removed from where the 44th President of the United States of America will take the Oath of Office. Or, I might cross over to the eastern side of the Capitol, in the Capitol Hill section of town out toward Lincoln Park. Or maybe on top of one of the vaults in the Old Congressional Cemetery, over at 18th and E streets, SE, one of my favorite places and far removed from everything where I can imagine John Philip Sousa leading a march playing the Stars and Stripes Forever. Sousa is buried in the cemetery, as are some other interesting folks from American history, including Matthew Brady, J. Edgar Hoover, and Vice President Elbridge Gerry, who gave us the political word "gerrymander."

Wherever I am, it will be cold and I will be content that I did my part in helping to write another page in the annals of American history.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Churchill Downs, Snow, 2nd and Main, 413 again

Yesterday I went out to Churchill Downs for a few races at the invitation of a friend. We hung out in a hospitality room sponsored by Sellersburg Metals. Food and drink were plenteous, delicious, and complimentary. I bet in three races, all Exacta Box bets, and won the first two of the three. We were ensconsed in a room up on the Sixth Floor in the Jockey Club Suites, where if you walk out on the end balcony, you can actually look down on the Twin Spires. We were in the part of the facility that appears to be ready for conversion to a casino and hotel as soon as Frankfort (or the voters) say it is ok.

I did walk out on the balcony and was greeted with a chilling wind from the northeast, and for the first time this season, some glorious flakes of snow. Snow fell in Louisville yesterday and again this morning. There was no accumulation nor is any expected, but I am sure that Kroger is prepared for the onslaught of customers in absolute need of a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

I myself went to the Kroger early this morning, driving down Main to Third. At Second and Main, the former LG&E site, future home of the Louisville Arena, is cleared. Except for I-64, there is a clear shot of the Ohio River, as well as the Colgate Clock, Clarksville, and Jeffersonville, across the way in Indiana. This is the only point anywhere along Main Street where the river is visible, and this, of course, is only temporary. It is, with a little imagination, possible to look down the hill from Main to river and envision the ribver passing by as did the early settlers along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. In the original layout of Louisville, the first street south of the river was Main. Washington Street is, frankly, an alley serving the northside of the buildings along Main. Witherspoon Street is a creation of the last twenty years. Water Street and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad formery occupied the lowest reaches between Main and River Road. Louisville's riverfront has been entirely transformed in my lifetime, especially that part east of 2nd Street, a transformation still underway from downtown upstream to Beargrass Creek. But, for right now, the sight to see is the arena site, where the river is in view as it was in the beginning - well except for I-64. Imagine how niceit would be to have our riverfront back - without the intrusion of I-64.

Finally, the numbering of the entries is off by one. This one should be numbered 413 and the next one should be 414, assuming all the previous entries are numbered correctly, taking into account a few which were deleted for sundry reasons back in the summer.

Winter is on the way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

413. Veterans Day

I have often written of the United States veterans in my life, most specifically of my grandfather Dan Hockensmith. I have a great deal of respect for those who don the uniform of any branch of the military of our Republic, irrespective of whatever else they have or haven't done with their lives. I count among the several failures of my forty-eight plus years of not doing a stint of service when I was younger. I could have used the discipline. A few of my high school friends left from Broadbent Arena on graduation day in 1978 and went and signed up for Uncle Sam. Two of them made a career of it, retiring after twenty years of service at the age of 38, ten years ago. At my 30th high school reunion a few weeks ago I caught up with two more classmates who eventually made their way into the service and both are still serving in some capacity and I think that is a great and noble thing.

So, as if there is a soundtrack attached to the blog, which there probably could be but isn't, below you will find the lyrics to several service hymns or anthems. I can play all of them on the piano and do so from time to time. Although my piano is in my mother's living room, and thus not here, I may try to find one tomorrow to tickle out a few of these songs. If you know them, sing along. If not, take the time to learn them. At the end is a link to a United States Navy Band website where you can listen to all of them and much more.


The United States Navy - Anchors Away

Stand Navy out to sea
Fight our battle cry
We’ll never change our course
So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y
Roll out the T.N.T.
Anchors Aweigh
Sail on to victory and
Sink their bones to Davy Jones hooray!

Yo ho there shipmate
Take the fighting to the far off sea
Hear the wailing of the wild banshees
All hands, fire brands Let’s blast them as we go, so

Anchors Aweigh my boys
Anchors Aweigh
It is farewell to foreign shores (or farewell to college joys,)
We sail at break of day day day day
Through our last night on shore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!

Heave a ho there sailor
Everybody drink up while you may
Heave a ho there sailor
For your gonna sail a break of day
Drink away, Drink away,
For you sail at break of day, hey!

Anchors Aweigh my boys
Anchors Aweigh
Farewell to college joys
We sail at break of day day day day
Through our last night on shore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home!

The United States Army - The Army Goes Rolling Along

Over hill, over dale
We have hit the dusty trail,
And the Caissons go rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
Counter march and right about,
And the Army goes rolling along.

For it's hi! hi! hee!
In the field artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
And where e'er you go,
You will always know
That the Army goes rolling along.

First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army's on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (Two, Three)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

The United States Marines - The Marine's Hymn

From the halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From the dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And have never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

The United States Air Force - The Air Force Song

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one hell of a roar!*
We live in fame or go down in flame.
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on.
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

The United States Coast Guard - Semper Paratus

From Aztec Shore to Arctic Zone,
To Europe and Far East,
The Flag is carried by our ships
In times of war and peace;
And never have we struck it yet,
In spite of foemen's might,
Who cheered our crews and cheered again
For showing how to fight.

We're always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be,
"Semper Paratus" is our guide,
Our fame, our glory, too.
To fight to save or fight and die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.

And finally, for my grandfather, a member of the United States Navy 114th Construction Batallion Maintenance Unit - We're The Seabees of the Navy

We're the Seabees of the Navy
We can build and we can fight
We'll pave the way to victory
And guard it day and night

And we promise that we remember
The "Seventh of December"
We're the Seabees of the Navy
Bees of the Seven Seas

The Navy wanted men
That's where we came in
Mister Brown and Mister Jones
The Owens, the Cohens and Flynn

The Navy wanted more
Of Uncle Sammy's kin
So we all joined up
And brother we're in to win

(Unofficial third verse)

We're the Seabees of the Navy
The "Can Do" Bees in green
In war or peace you'll find us
ready on the scene.

And no matter what our mission
we'll uphold our proud tradition
We're the Seabees of the Navy
Bees of the Seven Seas.


Happy Veterans Day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

412. One more election entry. Turnout a problem.

As I did two years ago, I participated in a very active way in the election of John Yarmuth, only this time it was his reelection. And he was, in fact, reelected, by a count of 203771 to 139489, defeating his latest opponent, the same woman he defeated the first time, former State Representative and Congresswoman Anne Meagher Northup.

Two years ago, I predicted John's total vote count to within 600 votes. If I hadn't been caught up in a frenzy, I would have done so again this year. On Saturday, October 25, at 4:41 pm, in response to a text I had received from Dan Geldon who was the campaign manager asking if I still felt we were going to win, I responded back with a text-message which read "203000+." Had I stuck to my intuition and not to my emotions, I would have called the election within 771 votes, not far removed from my 2006 forecast. But, I didn't.

In an email I sent to a number of people both in the campaign and out of it, I made a prediction. The text of that email reads,

"220913. I said 200000 back in February. This number sort of scares me - in a good way. I'm predicting an overall turnout in Jefferson County (including the twelve precincts in the 2nd) of 379281, which is 75.929%."

My problem was the turnout. I predicted almost 76% turnout. The turnout in the congressional race was 343260 voters, or 70.3%, considerably lower than my prediction. For the record, John got 59.4% of the vote that actually turned out. Had I predicted a proper turnout of 70.3%, that would have given John a vote count of 203896, which would have been just 125 votes off. But, I didn't.

So, next year - and that means 2010, I'll try again. I seem to have the congressman's percentage of vote well figured. I just need to work on the turnout.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

411. Still on Cloud Nine

America, America, God shed his grace on thee.

God was good to America and the world last Tuesday. He gave us good weather to go vote in, a good man for whom to cast the vote, the good sense to cast it the right way, and finally, a good feeling about being an American again, something many of us have not felt since the installation of George W. Bush as president in January 2001.

I am still having difficulty speaking about the race to friends without calling up tears of joy, choked-up words, and an internal feeling that, for the moment, all is right with the world. Is is possible for a single day's election to conjure up such emotions? The answer of course is emphatically Yes.

As President Kennedy described in his Inaugural Address nearly forty-eight years ago, "the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . . . . unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world." The last eight years did see an unraveling of the human rights advances made both before and after Kennedy. They continue today under the mockery of a War of Terror, one we have been waging since September 11, 2001. They continue under the Executive Orders which have issued forth from the president's office, but only after proper vetting from the vice president.

All that will, hopefully, begin to change come January 20, 2009, the day President-elect Obama gets to drop the present "-elect" from his title. That's about 70 or so days from now. Leading up to the election, and for some dating back to November 2000 or November 2004, people have been keeping track of time by a reverse calendar which had been counting down the days of the GWB presidency. However, since Tuesday's election, that negative way of reading the calendar has been changed. Now, for most of us, the target date is no longer the day Bush leaves, but more importantly, the day Obama takes to the platform and repeats the Constitutionally mandated Oath of Office of the President of the United States, found in Article II, Section 1, Article 8 -

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Hope and help are on the way. As for me, I am still on Cloud Nine.
Thanks be to God.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

410. Thursday Thoughts

It is early-morning - no sun has risen over the eastern skies as yet. I'm still more than a little awestruck by my fellow American citizens' actions on Tuesday. Awestruck in a good way. We elected Barack Obama to be the 44th President. It will take me a few entries to come down from the mountaintop.

It was difficult yesterday to get through a conversation about anything without tearing up with joy. I closed my blog entry early yesterday morning saying how good it was and is to be an American. I cannot tell you how many times I heard that refrain during the course of the day. I've always cynically said the biggest advantage of a democracy is that people get to vote, while its greatest weakness is that people get to vote. But, now and then, the choice isn't a lesser of two evils. Tuesday was like that. People got to vote and they voted for change in a big way. I could actually hear in the back of my head President Ronald Reagan talking about the "shining city on the hill," a phrase he used in his "going away speech." For me to quote Reagan in a good way is evidence of how good I am feeling about America right now. President-elect John F. Kennedy had used similar phrasing a generation earlier in a speech eleven days before taking office in 1961, borrowing from the Reverend John Winthrop's sermon in 1630 to the Puritans en route across the ocean to the New World. Its source is ultimately from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Chapter Five, a part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Another thought on Tuesday night. I was with the Yarmuth after-party after the Democratic Party celebration at the Marriott on Tuesday night. We sang some fun songs making fun of a few things from the congressman's first two years in office, followed by America The Beautiful and closing with My Old Kentucky Home. Then Senator John McCain gave his concession speech on the Tee-Vee, as Jacob Payne would say. The room got very quiet and attentive and applauded him afterward. It was a very serious and moving speech, one that began to restore the image of the once-very popular Republican from Arizona. Senator McCain's speech was a class-act without reservation.

Then came President-elect Obama's speech at midnight to 150,000 people waiting in Grant Park in Chicago and another 500,000 throughout the streets of Chicago. Like nearly every single aspect of the Obama campaign, it was flawless. Just flawless, David Plouffe thank you very much. And awesome, and inspiring, and serious, and hopeful. We are in for a serious and intelligent presidency. And at this point in the history of our Republic, we need nothing less than greatness. Of the four candidates running for the top two offices, none of the other three could have offered such hope and determination as President-elect Obama did in his victory speech. [And to even think that Governor Palin should even be considered in such thought is ridiculous, but I didn't choose to bring her onto the national stage. That Senator McCain did was proof enough he wasn't prepared to make the good and necessary decisions to lead our country back to its position of hegemony on the world stage and peace and prosperity at home]. The question now is how will President Obama improve upon that speech when it is time for his inaugural on January 20th?

Perhaps it is his audacity of hope that leads me to know I shant worry. It will all be good.

Thanks Be To God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can. What a difference a day makes.

President-Elect Barack Obama.
President-Elect Barack Obama.
Yes We Can. Yes We Did.

My spell-check still doesn't recognise either his first or last name. They both have red lines underneath them, along with the "s" I use to spell recognise. Spell-check wants me to use a "z" in that word. Interestingly, of the three names the next president uses, spell-check has no problem with his middle name, Hussein.

President-Elect Barack Obama.

The record will show he did not carry Kentucky in his historic win, losing by nearly 300,000 votes out of about 1,790,000 cast. Still, he won Jefferson, Fayette, and Henderson counties, two urban counties and another with a sizable urban population. But he also won Hancock, Elliott, Menifee, Wolfe, and Rowan. Rowan has a university which may have helped. Wolfe and Menifee, along with Rowan, are in eastern Kentucky. Hancock is on the left bank of the Ohio River a few counties downriver from Jefferson. I've been thinking for years that Hancock, along with Breckinridge and Meade, would be returning from their Reagan-Democratic wandering in the wilderness. Hancock has.

While these are the only counties President-elect Obama won, he also barely lost a few. Bath County in northeastern Kentucky needed fifteen more votes for an Obama win. Floyd failed by 212. Franklin by 145. Knott, 448. Magoffin, 330. Marion, 247; Robertson 83 (of course Robertson is Kentucky's smallest county, both in size at just about 100 square miles, and population, at about 2300 people, and only 984 people cast a ballot for president); and Union, needing just 335 more votes for a win for President-elect Obama. Nothing the Obama campaign could have done would have overcome the 300,000 vote deficit, but there are things which could have been done to make the gap smaller, but that didn't happen. I had longed for Vice President-elect Biden to do a poverty type tour along the US23/US52 corridor in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Obama carried two of those states, although it isn't likely his victory came from the foothills of Appalachia. In the end, Kentucky never played a role in this year's presidential election. But, that's okay as other states did their part overcoming the shortfall here in the Bluegrass.

I'm still awed by the words President-elect Barack Obama.

I'm a Democrat and yesterday was a great day to be a Democrat. Today, it is an even better day to be an American.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow is Election Day

This will be the last post until after tomorrow's very historic election. Tomorrow, voters across the country will have the opportunity to write a brand new chapter in the history books of our great Republic. Tomorrow not only will we be able to begin the correction of eight years of diminished civil rights and government abuses, but we will also afford ourselves, the electorate of America, a shot at redemption.

The first year I was eligible to vote for president was 1980. My choices were the Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter, the challenger Ronald Reagan, and a third party choice, Republican Congressman John Anderson of Illinois (at left) running as an independent. I cast my ballot that year in Dottie Priddy's garage, home to precinct C-84, later called B-127, and now called H-148. I voted for John Anderson. Ronald Reagan went on to become a beloved leader of the neo-conservative movement in the country, running the Republic into debt of a deeper depth than theretofore ever achieved. He was re-elected in 1984 and brought with him several new members of the Senate, including Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., the then-Jefferson County Judge/Executive. For the next ten years, Republicans slowly but surely moved the country from left to right, from moderate to conservative, and from a secular nation to one infused with religion at every level. In 1994, what they hadn't already taken control of, they then did. Thus, from the time I was 19 until I was 33, our country was in the hands of the oppostion, people with whom I disagreed on a number of issues.

The off-year federal elections in 1996 saw the defeat of Democratic Congressman Mike Ward by then-State Representative Anne Northup of Kentucky's 32nd House District. It was the first time since 1971 that Louisville had not been represented by a Democrat in Congress. Mrs. Northup had been a moderate in the Kentucky House, but spent the next ten years aligning herself ever more and more to the right, a re-alignment which never waivered until one night in 2006 when she called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, a call she made about three months too late. Thus, from the time I was 35 until I was 46, Louisville's resident members of Congress were two Republicans, Mitch McConnell and Anne Northup, each disciples of the non-elected executive selected by the United States Supreme Court to serve as Commander-In-Chief in the debacle of 2000.

George W. Bush has led our country into war, into debt, and into isolation with the rest of the planet. He has almost single handedly destroyed the integrity and pride of the United States of America. He had been aided and abetted in this travesty by his Vice President, Dick Cheney, a former congressman and Secretary of Defense from Wyoming. He has further been aided and abetted by voters all across the country who reelected him in 2004, or more properly elected him for the first time, as it is totally unprovable that he was ever elected the first time.

Thus, since I was a young man, other than the eight years under the centrist Bill Clinton, America has been governed by people who believe liberalism is a bad thing, people who believe government is a bad thing, and people who in their hearts believe governance is a bad thing, given their absolute abhorrence of taxes and the good they do. I have often wondered in these last 28 years if I would ever live to see a restoration of the America which disappeared in the 1970s, a restoration of the liberation theology, of brother- and sisterhood, of giving of oneself for the good of the whole, of people who believed in the words of the president elected the year of my birth when he said on January 20, 1961, "And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Another lesser known line from that speech, President Kennedy's Inaugural, was "The world is very different now. For man holds in his hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life." For the last eight years specifically, and for the last 28 years generally, our country has focussed on the latter power of abolishing human life, abolishing the soul of America, rather than focussing on the former, our country's ability to eliminate poverty and the manifold problems stemming from it. There is much work left to do. Some of the poverty President Kennedy knew of in 1961 still exists; for the last two decades we have often heard that the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer. We have created more poverty by reducing our government, yielding to the bitching and moaning of the Grover Norquists and Howard Jarvises of the world whose only interest was and is themsleves with no concern for the greater good.

America is greater than Grover Norquist, Howard Jarvis, Newt Gingrich, and Ronald Reagan. In the congressional races of 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2006, I worked very hard to unseat our congresswoman, working in various capacities in the campaigns of Chris Gorman, Eleanor Jordan, Jack Conway, and John Yarmuth. In 2006, we began to prove America's resolve at reclaiming our heritage by returning control of the House and Senate to the Democrats while here at home electing Democrat John Yarmuth, a well-known liberal Democrat to represent the Third Congressional District of Kentucky in the 110th Congress. This blog began the day the 110th was called into session by our new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

So, we know we are better than the 28 years of yesterdays I've wandered through in my adult political life. And tomorrow we can prove it. Yes we can! Si, se puede!

Tomorrow, Let's Elect Barack Obama President of the United States.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

407. There is a poll down there two entries back . . . .

Be sure to scroll down two entries back and vote in the poll.

406. All Souls Day

In the litany of Saints Days observed by Catholics, Episcopalians, and others, today is All Souls Day, a day set aside to remember our loved ones who have gone on to whatever reward they are entitled according to their faith. One name for the celebration is the Feast of the Faithfully Departed. Some Spanish speaking countries, especially Mexico, observe it as the Day of the Dead, or en Espanol (and I know I need a little tilde over the "n") El Dia de Los Muertos.

It is the religious equivalent to the secular holiday once known as Decoration Day and now generally known as Memorial Day observed in May. The celebration today combines with All Saints Day, which was yesterday, for several days of feasting, remembering all the saints and sinners who have played roles in our lives.

On this day, as we approach Tuesday's election, I'm reminded that like the saying "There are no atheists in foxholes," there is also no politics in cemeteries. Of the people for whom their memory is special, for some of them, I know their politics; for others I do not. One of my first entries was a discussion of my great-grandmother Rachel Brawner Lewis. I do not know what her politics were. She was a farmer-wife in Franklin County where most people then as now were Democrats. I do know her daughter, my grandmother, was a Democratic die-hard, although I'm not sure where she would fit in today's Democratic Party. My grandfather was a Union carpenter and boss. He was decidedly Democratic.

My other grandparents were small business owners and fairly non-political as far as I know. I have no idea how either of them were registered or if they were faithful voters. My belief is they were probably Republicans. Their son, my Uncle Don, who died in 2005, was an avowed liberal who as a Louisville Alderman in the 1960s marched for civil rights and voted for Open Housing reforms, reforms which got him voted out of office. He later found faults with the sometimes less-than-liberal Democratic Party of which he was a member. My (great) Uncle Bob, who died earlier this year, like most of his brothers, was a Democrat. Uncle Bob was Sheriff of Franklin County.

I mentioned my grandmother the Democratic activist. It was she, along with Mildred Shumate, Dottie Priddy, and Carolyn Beauchamp, all deceased, all Democrats, who involved me in Okolona and Fairdale politics when I was not yet ten years old. Again, though, their Democratic Party was not quite the left-leaning Party we now enjoy; it was closer to the old Dixiecrats in the south. My grandmother was a Hubert Humphrey supporter and before she died in February, 1976, predicted Jimmy Carter's nomination and election later that year.

I've had four close friends die over time. None were political as they were all rather young at the time of their deaths. Of Eric, Rob, another Rob, and Gary, Eric was a patrician Republican. He was a great guy. His father, who was an alderman, and his paternal grandmother, were active in local Republican politics. When I ran for a seat on the Jefferson Fiscal Court in 1985, Eric's grandmother was a proud supporter and allowed me to post my yardsign in her yard, the only Republican sign I had in H-123, a precinct since obliterated by the expansion of Standiford Field. The first Rob mentioned above was Jewish actor who left Louisville to go away to college and never returned, except to be interred at Cave Hill at too young of an age. We kept in touch when he left town, but he never disclosed any political beliefs of any kind. The second Rob, a very dear friend, would have undoubetedly been a Democrat, but a moderate one at best. He died before turning 18. He attended several political events with me and was interested in the presidential race which was scheduled for the year after he died. Finally Gary was an older guy, a small businessman who operated restaurants, but he didn't participate in politics to my knowledge. He was from Spencer County originally which was a decidedly conservative Democratic county until Reagan came along, when it started turning shades of red, which it is still doing.

So, on this All Souls Day ahead of the election, I'll send up a prayer to those who have moved on. How they would vote, I have no idea. And since there really isn't any politics in graveyards (anymore), it really doesn't matter.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Extra Time To Think; Something to Think About

Tonight, actually early in the morning at 2:00, we get an extra hour. We get to do the hour from 1:00 am to 2:00 am over again. That gives us more time to think about Tuesday's election. As we head into the new week, a week of grand and historic importance, what are the issues that you think should have been addressed more during the current presidential race - by either Party or candidate.

Here is the poll:

We'll see how/if you respond.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

403. Rednecks for Barack

I got an email from one of my Shelby County cousins, one of those “you might be a redneck if” analyses. At the end, there is a line that explains “if you got this email from me, it is because I believe that you, like me, have just enough Redneck in you to have the same beliefs as those talked about in this email.”

My Shelby and Franklin county cousins, which are numerous, think of me and my brother as city kids, as we are from Louisville, and they are from places like Waddy, Graefensburg, Bridgeport, Bagdad, Choateville, and North Benson. Then my friends from Louisville keep a wary eye on me, given that they are from Louisville, while I am from Okolona, South Park, or even Fairdale. It’s all relative. The particular cousin who sent me this is just a few days older than me. And we are affiliated with the same political party. So it stands to reason we have similar views.

One of the lines in her “you might be a redneck if” analyses reads “You know what you believe and you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.” I’ve been accused of such thinking for most of my life, so I guess I qualify. But in the litany of “you might be’s” are several others and I’d like to comment on them, vis-à-vis the upcoming election. I think this is important since one of the reasons these emails are being passed about may be political.

So, first I’ll list the “you might be” as received in the email followed by my comments.

You might be a Red Neck if it never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase “One Nation, Under God.” This is an easy one. I’m not offended at all by that statement. I’ve written many times about my beliefs in God, God as creator, God in general. I also know that phrase is officially fairly recent in America’s history. The idea originated with the Knights of Columbus in 1951. After attending a sermon delivered by the Rev. George McPherson at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. on February 7, 1954, President Eisenhower agreed to take up the cause. The picture at right was taken that day. A bill adding these words was signed by the president on Flag Day, 1954.

You might be a Red Neck if you’ve never protested about seeing The Ten Commandments in public places. This one is different. I’ve never personally protested. I do belong to the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, both of which do protest such things. I have a problem with state-sponsored support of religion. I take it seriously. When I was a candidate for the Metro Council, one of the questions I was often asked was how or if I would support so-called “faith-based” programs for the needy. My response was I wouldn’t. Giving money to churches is not something a government should do, under whatever auspices. I do believe in government sponsored welfare of needy individuals; I do not believe in government sponsored welfare for churches, who then determine who is and isn’t needy. So, by extension, I have a problem with The Ten Commandments as an official government posting or in an official government placement. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-Ten Commandments. Nor does it mean I’m anti- people who support The Ten Commandments, of which I am one.

You might be a Red Neck if you still say Christmas instead of Winter Festival. Like Barack Obama, I am Christian. I do still say Christmas, and I never use an “X” as in abbreviation such as “X-mas.” I also keep track of solstices and equinoxes, and full, waxing, waning, and new moons, which probably makes me suspect.

You might be a Red Neck if you bow your head when someone prays. Another easy one. I pray and I believe in prayer. And I bow my head when I do or when someone else does. I've prayed for any number of things including the current presidency. I've prayed for successes in plans and help with the weather. I've prayed for good health and good jobs, both for me and others. At least once a week I pray the Lord's Prayer, which includes the line "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Take note of that measurement, asking for forgiveness in the measure which we personally dole it out.

You might be a Red Neck if you stand and place your hand over your heart when you someone plays the National Anthem. Another gimme. And I love to go to baseball games and do it with a whole bunch of other people at the same time. I even tend to do so when it is played on TV. One of the greatest feelings in the world, literally in the world, is when Americans win medals at the Olympics and the whole world gets to hear my national anthem.

You might be a Red Neck if you treat our Armed Forces veterans with great respect and always have. I was raised by my maternal grandfather, a World War Two United States Navy veteran. He served in Europe and the Pacific. When I learned to play the piano as a kid, he made sure I learned all the service branch-hymns so I could play them for his buddies up at the Okolona VFW Post 8639 on the old piano in the original hall. I still play them. I still respect him, his friends, and those who have gone on to serve in his place since he is no longer here. Just last week I went on Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s website where he has a program where you sign up to get a button saying you are voting for a Veteran. I signed up, listed my grandfather and his service in the 114th Battalion of the Seabees, WW2. I got my button in the mail and will wear it Election Day.

You might be a Red Neck if you’ve never burned an American Flag not intend to. Well, I have properly burned one, actually several, to dispose of them. But I’ve never burned one myself. But, like our hopefully outgoing United States Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., I support our United States Constitutional right to do so. And I oppose a Constitutional Amendment to change that right, thereby abridging one’s freedom of speech.

You might be a Red Neck if you know what you believe and you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who is listening. That’s what I am doing here!

You might be a Red Neck if you respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same. I’ve only fulfilled one-half of this obligation as I have no kids. But, I’ve tried not to impose my beliefs on my nieces and nephews, even though I have helped in their raising from time-to-time. And I say “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am” to most everyone as a rule, irrespective of their age.

You might be a Red Neck if you’d give your last dollar to a friend. I’ve been down to my last dollar a few times, so I’ve had that opportunity, but I’ve never actually had to give it away. But, I think I would. Others, many others, have been helpful to me. And, as Saint Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, in Chapter 13, “And now faith, hope, and charity abide, these three; and the greatest of these is charity.” Charity is often translated as love in this passage, and the same holds true. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. He didn’t put any limitations on it. There were no suggestions that we limit our love to our spouses, significant others, children, or the people next door; nor to Americans, or English-speakers, or our softball friends; nor to UK supporters, left-handeds, or fraternity brothers.

On the whole, as I stated at the beginning, I qualify for the "you might be a Red Neck if." Now, does the fact that I am fairly liberal, like the idea of spreading the wealth, believe in a program of Universal Healthcare, and am committed to voting for Barack Obama next week nullify that?

I think not.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

402. Bus #402

I suppose you thought you'd be reading a political entry this close to the election. If not for the entry number, you probably would. But, now and then an entry number appeals to my memory for a trip into the crevices of my personal past. 402 is such a number.

I began elementary school at Blue Lick Elementary School in September, 1966, the year Blue Lick Elementary School opened on the road by the same name, on a field about one mile south of Blue Lick Road's intersection with South Park Road. In those days, kindergarten was optional, so one's first year of school was First grade, a logical name. I went to Blue Lick for two years. My mother had actually enrolled me at the old South Park Elementary School on National Turnpike over in Fairdale in anticipation of Blue Lick's fall opening.

Where I lived was just - just - over a mile from the school which, under school board policy at the time, required a bus route. The kids who lived on my street had a very short ride on the bus as we were the closest to the school. As such, we were the last stop to be picked up in the mornings and nearly the first stop to be let off in the afternoon. The one difference in the two routes - going and coming - was Old South Park Road. The logical sequence of stops in the afternoon should have placed us as the first off in the afternoon. But because Old South Park's western intersection with South Park was (at that time) essentially a fork or a "V", the route followed Old South Park the same way going and coming. Driving west on Old South Park allowed for a wider turn back to the east on South Park. This intersection is obliterated today by the relocation of both of these roads due to the construction of the Gene Snyder Freeway in the 1980s. Both roads were relocated slightly to the north. (As an addendum, back then there were two other "Old South Park Roads" further to the west. One of those is entirely gone, while the other is now referred to as South Park Court. Where South Park Court now meets South Park Road is where the original South Park village was located). But, I digress.

The bus route from Blue Lick School to my stop consisted of three streets - Blue Lick, South Park, and Old South Park. Before the opening of Blake Elementary School a few blocks to the north, kids from the subdivisions on either side of Blue Lick south of Fishpool Creek (which is just south of Foreman Lane) were assigned to Blue Lick Elementary. It was up and down Blue Lick to get these kids that my bus travelled before the detour west along South Park and Old South Park. Kids north of Fishpool Creek went to Okolona Elementary School, as did those east along South Park east of the creek. To the west, over I-65, kids on the north side of South Park went to Minor's Lane Elementary School, while those on the south side went to Fairdale Elementary School, and later Coral Ridge Elementary School. There were no Jefferson County schools to the south. Once into Bullitt County, another mile south of the school, on the east side of Blue Lick was the Overdale School district, while the west side was served by Brooks Elementary.

And, the bus I rode through all of First and Second grades was #402. Someday, I may write about the methodology of school bus numbering in the Jefferson County Public School System. For now, I'm just thinking about the fun I had on Bus #402.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

401. KFTC's Voter Guide

In an entry on October 23, 2007, after receiving my Kentuckians For The Commonwealth Voter Guide, I commented on some specific answers given by a Republican candidate in last fall's election, naming that entry "Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due." This year's guide offers yet another opportunity for me to mention a Republican whose views on immigration I find enlightened and appropriate.

As I said last year, as a member of the governing body of the Kentucky Democratic Party, I have an obligation to vote for and help elect Democrats throughout the commonwealth. The Sixth Congressional District, which at one time began just a few miles east of Louisville at the Shelby County line, but now doesn't do so until just past the 48 Mile Marker on Interstate 64 upon entry into Franklin County, pits the incumbent Democratic Congressman Albert Benjamin "Ben" Chandler III against Republican Jon Larson, who, quite frankly, I did not know was running until receipt of my KFTC Voter Guide.

To be honest, Ben has suddenly grown more Democratic this year, endearing him to a wider swath of voters than may have been enchanted by him back in 2003 when he was a candidate for governor. This is most noted in his early endorsement of United States Senator Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary earlier in the year. Ben's Republican opponent has the proverbial snowball's chance in Hell of being elected. That gives Ben the freedom to make endorsements like Barack Obama and Mr. Larson the freedom to part with his Party on issues like immigration.

The following is the KFTC's question and candidate Larson's answer on the subject of immigration.

KFTC: Undocumented immigrants are a growing part of Kentucky’s workforce, culture, and communities as they are for many states across the US. This has caused friction in many areas. Some Kentuckians think that undocumented workers are problematic because they take jobs and government services needed by citizens. Other Kentuckians say that immigrant communities make substantial positive contributions to our state and that their needs are just as important as citizens’ needs – and furthermore our economy couldn’t function without them. What is your stance on immigration and undocumented workers?

MR. LARSON: Too many Republican politicians have publicized impractical anti-“illegal” immigrant proposals. In contrast, I want to express a few common-sense reasons why our government should offer amnesty (non-quota, non-“touchback” paths to citizenship, with immediate issuance of easily renewable federal identification cards). As a true conservative, an anti-bureaucrat, valuing financial welfare for other Americans, I must state the obvious: There is no realistic way to detain and deport more than seven million undocumented Hispanic workers and their dependents.

Our immigration laws are like a discouraging maze, fostered by years of racial (“Chinese exclusion”) and anti-Southern and Easter European, anti-Irishmen, and lately anti-Hispanic prejudices. America is the “Land of Immigrants,” but we have allowed the tired, hungry and poor of the world to become disappointed by our bureaucratic roadblocks. Historically, Liberty (Ellis) Island did not send immigrants back to their birth countries to wait 5-14 years, to be solicited to pay bribes, just so they could legally re-enter our “Home of the Free.” We should never be afraid to welcome fresh blood into our National melting pot.

Please understand that the negative publicity unreasonably frightens immigrants and irritates our American-born Hispanic citizens, discouraging border cooperation. Many hard working and admirably productive undocumented immigrants have been financially victimized, some raped (and more than 450 have dies, some horrifically) along our Southern border. These same individuals, still fearing deportation, cannot obtain basic identification documents, to their disadvantage and our ultimate loss (of insurance and safety protections).

Turn these people into 100% tax payers who can use their ID’s to bank, cash checks, shop and purchase medical and automobile insurance.


Let me add that I concur with Mr. Larson's response.

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.