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.

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.