Thursday, July 31, 2008

365. End of July Clearance

Temperature 90 degrees. No real change although there has been rain yesterday and overnight.

*****

This will be the last entry for a few days while I’m on the road to Fancy Farm and other points West. For those of you who want up-to-the-minute live-blogging and other such late-breaking news for the next few days from out in the Purchase, you will have to seek it elsewhere. I’m not that technologically advanced, nor do I intend to be anytime soon. I am, however, trying to learn how to get the pictures out of my new phone and into the blog – if that makes any of you any happier.

Tomorrow marks several birthdays and I’d like to get those mentioned right away. Most importantly, tomorrow would have been my grandmother’s 96th birthday. Vivian “Tommie” Hockensmith, who raised me and my brother, died at the age of 59 in 1976. My middle name of Thomas is for both her and her husband, my grandfather, both of whom shared that as a middle name. The Thomas in his name came from his grandfather of the same name, Daniel Thomas Hockensmith – that in her name, oddly enough, came from her aunt Therese Thomas Lewis, whose married name I have forgotten. She lived in the Covington area and her husband, as I’ve been told, was a furniture salesman. The Thomas in my name lives on in my second oldest nephew, Kevin Thomas Noble, who is seven.

Tomorrow is also the birthday of two “Young Democrat” friends, both of whom, like me, are no longer Young Democrats. Mary-John Celletti celebrates tomorrow as does Dale Emmons. He is older than she, and both are older than me – if that really matters. I’ve written before of Mary-John, her car Winston, and perhaps of her son and his father, Chris, who was a friend of mine in Lexington back in the 1980s, who I most recently chatted with in Lexington at the Democratic Party State Convention. He was a delegate from Union County, his family’s home county to which he returned from Lexington and later Louisville. Dale Emmons, originally of Fleming County and now a Richmond resident, is one of Kentucky’s leading political advisers and I value his insight and interest in Kentucky and the Kentucky Democratic Party. Chances are I will see one or both of these birthday kids sometime this weekend at the events in the West.

There has been some talk that our presumptive Democratic nominee for president, United States Senator Barack Obama, may or may not drop in on the festivities at Fancy Farm. It would be the first presidential candidate visit to the picnic since George Wallace – quite a change I might add. Gore was there as the #2 guy in 1992. And it would be quite a challenge for both the Obama campaign to come into an area and a state where they fared poorly and are expected to fare poorly this fall. Go where they don’t expect you – maybe where you shouldn’t be, at least in some people’s minds.

I remember in 2000 when I was driving the Democratic Party’s 3rd Congressional District candidate Eleanor Jordan from one event to the next. She was Kentucky’s first African-American candidate for Congress to my knowledge. There was usually never any concern about where we were going or who we might see while trekking here and there across Jefferson County, in which all of the Third Congressional District of Kentucky might be found. I remember one such visit to a county park in the far extremes of the district where one might say she wouldn’t be expected – maybe where she shouldn’t be. Go we went nonetheless to this particular event, and upon arrival, rather than work the easy crowd, which wasn’t going to be easy anyway, instead she marched over to a group of motorcycle riders and made her plea of support. She surprised them and they surprised her, with questions and comments, and it turned into a memorable, and perhaps profitable afternoon. In the ensuing election that fall against then-Congresswoman Anne Northup, Eleanor Jordan managed to get within one vote of the incumbent in the district’s then-southwesternmost precinct, which I think was A131, not very far from the park where she made her entreaty with the bikers.

As it turns out, Senator Obama’s campaign has decided it would rather spend time with the estimated 10,000 conventioneers attending the National Urban League convention in Orlando, Florida than however many will be gathered at the Saint Jerome Catholic Picnic in the western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm in Graves County. As a side note, Senator McCain will also be in Orlando for the same event. Over on another blog (actually on two other blogs), a writer has posted an entry taking the Senator – that is our Senator Obama, not their Senator McCain - to task for choosing this obviously easier venue as part of his weekend’s itinerary. The blogs are Bluegrass Roots (www.bluegrassroots.org) and Watching Those We Choose (www.proctoringcongress.blogspot.com). The entry is posted by Yellow Dog, a frequent contributor to Kentucky’s political blogs, although as far as I know, I do not know who Yellow Dog is.

The comments which follow Yellow Dog’s posting seems to be supportive of her/his disapproval of Senator Obama’s decision. One of those comments offers a different take – mine. Below I will print Yellow Dog’s original entry in its entirety, followed by my contrarion response. I’d be interested in what my readers think on these takes.


Obama in Kentucky: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, by Yellow Dog

For a minute, it looked like rising unemployment in Kentucky would give Barack Obama's presidential campaign a boost here, but by then he'd blown that opportunity by choosing a speech in Orlando over charming the Midwest at Fancy Farm.
Kentucky's unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in June, up from 6.2 percent in May. It's now almost a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 5.5 percent. More specifically, since June 2007, unemployment has gone up in 108 of Kentucky's 112 counties. The eight counties with the highest unemployment - 9.9 to 11.8 percent - are all in Eastern Kentucky, the exact region where Obama received the fewest votes in the May primary. Obama has a huge opportunity there to make an economic case for his candidacy.

Come to Kentucky, Barack. Look us in the eye and tell us that you're going to reverse the screw-the-middle-class policies of the last seven years. Tell us how you're going to wean us off our dependence on coal industry jobs while you wean the nation off its dependence on coal-burning energy. You say you've got a 50-state strategy. Kentucky is a state that's yours for the asking.

But you have to ask.



Here is my response:

I wouldn't go as far to say that Kentucky is Senator Obama's simply for the asking. It will be difficult for Senator Obama to carry Kentucky for a number of reasons - which isn't to say that me and you and a whole bunch of others wont be out there doing every thing we can to make sure he does. Still, it is a high hill to climb.
But we should attempt the climb nonetheless and I agree there are opportunities for Senator Obama here in the Commonwealth and sooner or later someone in his camp should take notice. Going to Fancy Farm seems like a nice idea - it is certainly important to those of us who are known to be state and local political hacks. But that may be the problem for Senator Obama in coming there.

Fancy Farm is the ideal place for Kentucky's candidates and their supporters to put some degrees of separation between them. The very geography of the place, so removed as everything in the Jackson Purchase seems to be from the rest of the state, makes the entire event (including all the other satellite functions) special, but special for Kentuckians, and really only special for those of us who make the trip or know someone who does.

You point out in your post the eight counties in the Commonwealth with the highest unemployment are all in the east. For these folks, a trip by Senator Obama to Fancy Farm - 400 miles away - means little. It is a showcase opportunity to be seen with other politicians, Democratic and Republican, the Lunsfords with the McConnells, the Ryans with the Whitfields, and all of it overshadowed by the busloads of people brought in just for the show and little more. No one, or very few, go to Fancy Farm to actually listen to the candidates with the idea that what they say might change their minds. We go because we are partisan supporters of our candidates - and the food is damn good if you aren't a vegetarian, which I am not.

I've written before on several different blogs, including my own, that if Senator Obama is to come to Kentucky, it is my belief he should make a trip along the eastern borders of Commonwealth. An ideal route would be US 23, through Boyd, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Lawrence, Letcher, and Pike counties. I hesitate to call it a "Poverty Tour" but that is what LBJ called it in 1964, and what Bobby Kennedy called it in 1968, and what John Edwards called it last year. With the unemployment stats you cited, Senator Obama's visit needs to be as far away from the festive and gluttonous activities associated with Fancy Farm if it is to have a real impact on him, so that he can have a real impact on the Commonwealth once he wins the presidency in November, which I am hoping, praying, and working to see that he does.

Senator Obama needs to see the real problems faced by real Americans - real Kentuckians, in places like Inez and Lick Branch, and Whitesburg and Hazard, not the bullhorns and placards which so dominate the Fancy Farm Picnic. I hope he takes the time to do so.


*****

Let me know what you think.

See you in a few days. Stay out of the heat.

A final thought. The hit-counter is likely to go over the 20,000 mark in my absence during the next few days. I'll expound upon that when I return, but, in the interim, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

364. Pretty Damn Hot

Temperature 91 degrees - this at 8:26 pm. It was up to 94 earlier.

Today is the hottest day on record in Louisville and elsewhere in the state, from back in 1930, when the temperature here reached 107 degrees. It was even hotter in Shelbyville - 112 degrees - and even hotter in Bowling Green - 113. I haven't been through Bowling Green since last summer when my friend and I took the long way to Fancy Farm, staying on I-65 past E' Town and crossing the Commonwealth along the bottom of the state on US 68/KY 80. Later this week, I'll likely avoid Bowling Green and stick to the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway to make the long journey into Kentucky's western reserves. Today's hot weather is probably just a hint at what the weather will be like in Graves County come Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm when the politicians start adding to the hot air. The current forecasted temperature for Saturday afternoon in Fancy Farm is 96 degrees, where it is currently a very warm 88 degrees.

The summer I got (with my father's help) my first home, in Camp Taylor in Louisville in 1983, it was 105 - actually the weekend I moved in. And I had failed to have the electricity turned on. I camped out on the carport, aided in breathing by a huge cafeteria fan my brand new next door neighbor, the late J. F. Rice, who went by Jeff, lent me, along with the electricity from his garage to power it. Jeff was a great neighbor. I had gone to high school with his daughter and was also somehow - how I forget - friends with his son-in-law Scott.

On a different note, someone asked me about something I left unclear in the previous entry on KY 248. The question was "is the beginning of the road still a narrow zig-zaggedy path, or was it straightened out in the new parkway?" It is newer, straighter, and wider, with the old KY 248 up on the left bank to the west of the new roadway. Happy to clear that up.

That's all for now. We'll probably have one more entry before leaving for Fancy Farm, then a short break afterward. Enjoy the outdoor sauna. It will be Winter before we know it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

KY 248 East to KY 555 South - the Heartland Parkway

On several occasions in the past I've taken people (my mom, friends) on the evolving highway known as KY 248. I may have written of this before. KY 248 used to begin as a very narrow two-lane highway jutting to the north off US 62 just west of Anderson County's Western Elementary, a few miles east of the old community of Sparrow. From there it continued north in a zigzagging way past the New Liberty Baptist Church. As one proceded north, and then west toward Taylorsville, along the northern edge of Taylorsville Lake, the road widened first to a full-fledged two-lane road, then even wider, ultimately as a very wide four lane divided highway with wide shoulders, left turn lanes, and emergency lanes. The road joins KY 44 West and proceeds into Taylorsville at the Spencer County High School.

For several years, the State Transportation Department has been planning a fill-in road, filling in the gap just south of where KY 248 begins, down to where KY 555 ends, previously just north of the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway. Over the past several years, I've watched the road develop off to the south edge of US 62 in the area sometimes called Love Ridge, near where the Nelson, Anderson, and Washington county lines meet. This morning, trekking out and about, I found that the new parkway is completed between the two points. South of US 62 it is known as KY 555, while north of US 62 it retains the KY 248 name.

This new road provides a second route from Louisville to Springfield, should anyone want to go. Previously, getting to Springfield (or further, say to Lebanon or Campbellsville and Green River Lake) from Louisville required first getting to Bardstown (probably taking I-65 to KY 245), then following US 150 over to Springfield. Now there is an alternate route through Kentucky's Heartland. This would be getting almost to Taylorsville first (probably along KY 155), then turning east on KY 248. Having made the turn at the Spencer County High School, one could conceivably never make another turn on to another road and end up at Lake Cumberland State Park, by following KY 248 to KY 555, which then becomes KY 55, which after passing through Springfield, Lebanon, and Campbellsville, eventually makes it way to Jamestown - well, just west of Jamestown - at its intersection with US 127. I was so excited about the prospect of taking a different route to Cumberland Lake, that I mentioned all of this to my mother while I was there to cut grass today.

Concerned, she asked me if I had been to Jamestown this morning. Truthfully, I would have liked to have answered yes, but, again, truthfully, I could only claim to have gotten as far from Louisville as the Willisburg exit of the BG Parkway (at KY 555) before turning back.

But the trip wasn't for naught. I stopped by several cemeteries on today's trip - all of which I had visited before. I started in Jefferson County at Rest Haven where I visited the burial site of Dottie Priddy who passed away a few weeks ago. While there, I also visited my friend Rob's grave. From there they were the Little Union Cemetery on Little Union Road in Spencer County, Saint Michael's Church cemetery straddling the Spencer-Nelson county line on KY 48, the Fairfield Cemetery further along on the same road, the Maple Grove - Bloomfield Cemetery just north of Bloomfield on KY 55, where Clark Hockensmith, who was one of Quantrell's Raiders during the Civil War, is supposed to have been buried after being killed over in Wakefield (I've never found Clark's grave, but I do continue to look), and the old Bethlehem Church cemetery within the confines of the Taylorsville Lake Wildlife Management Area on Old Briar Ridge Road in Spencer County. Lots of similar family names in all of these, but no one in my family tree that I recognized. But, I always look, and sometimes I find.

It was a nice Sunday drive. Given that, I do not have a report of today's lectionary readings. Today's readings were names and dates, births and deaths.

Have a good week.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

362. Usually I try to abide by the rule of if you have nothing to say then don't. But I wanted to write something.

Temperature 90 degrees. Same weather expected all week.

First, I'm typing without the aid of my glasses, so this will be brief and may contain typos, especially if the letters in the typo are close together on the keyboard. Since typo is a back-formation from typewriter, which is not what most of us use to type on anymore, will typo get morphed into a keypo, a possible back-formation from keyboard?

In local political news, the Metro Democratic Club will be featuring Mollie Binghams' new film Meeting Resistance at its next meeting on the second Wednesday of August. The screening will be free, held in the late afternoon, at the Highlands Post American Legion Hall on Bardstown Road opposite Assumption High School. Stay tuned for more information on this event.

Next, last night a large group of volunteers, interns, and others from the Lunsford for Senate campaign and the Yarmuth for Congress campaign gathered for some sasparillas [Jerry Kleier, that's for you, RIP], among other things, on Baxter Avenue. Thankfully Wanda Mitchell Smith was also there so I wasn't the oldest person in attendance, which happens more and more these days. She pointed that out to me so I am comfortable in saying that to you. Lisa Tanner, I think, was the next oldest who was younger than me and we show up at a lot of places together which keeps me at least a decade younger. (Of course, I always carry that college ID picture of me taken from the summer of 1980 when I had a more-than-full head of dark, long, black curly hair, weighed about 135 pounds if I had boots on, and was still kinda good looking - maybe. I know some of you have seen it). Besides Wanda, her husband, me, and Lisa, everyone else was - well they all were damned young, or so it seemed - actually all of them in their 20s somewhere. A few of them called me Uncle Jeff and at least one donned upon me the title of Professor. Among those in attendance was Nathan Dickerson, who has been a part of Lunsford's campaign from early on, who is leaving to go manage Kathy Stein's race for the 13th Senate District seat being vacated by Ernesto Scorsone in Fayette County. Everyone, including Nathan, seemed to be having a good time. There is a lot of momentum here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 in each of these campaigns. Yarmuth is working harder than ever in his race and incumbency helps a lot, which should bode well for both Lunsford and Obama, at least in Jefferson County.

Lastly, by this time next week I will have finally made a road trip. Woohoo. Preparations are being made for the annual trek to the West to the tiny town of Fancy Farm, Kentucky, which has an estimated population of 1800 or so, and is home to Saint Jerome Catholic Church, where since 1880 a Summer Picnic has been held, and since the 1950s, the picnic has been held on the first Saturday of August. We'll be in Gilbertsville the night before for supper and then some partying in the Executive Cabins. Saturday morning is a Country Ham breakfast in Mayfield, with the picnic itself starting around lunch time. Since I covered the picnic last year in my postings, and they aren't much different from one year to the next, feel free to channel through the archives for last year's report.

Tomorrow starts a new week. Make it a good one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Memoriam

Joseph Robert "Rob" Spears.
Born December 13, 1973, Louisville, Kentucky.
Died July 24, 1991, Louisville, Kentucky.
I miss you, Rob.

May his soul and the souls of all who have left from this life Rest In Peace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

360. It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Last night, between 10pm and 11pm, I sat on my back porch and watched the free light show offered up by Mother Nature. The rain had ended and what remained was a quite spectacular show of all types of lightning - field, streaks, and occasionally an entire sky of light and fire and surreal power. On those occasions when the entire realm it seems was showered in bright and electrifying light, I scanned (as quickly as possible) for the open spaces through which one can possibly see beyond this world, if indeed those open spaces are there and one can actually see to through them.

I've always been fascinated by the idea that there are portals here and there where it might be possible to escape over to another world, again assuming there is one out there. Not another world in the sense that somewhere in the myriad of galaxies and milky ways that there might be another "earth" where an orb has been placed just far enough away from or close enough to a star the likes of our "sun" so as to provide life as we know it here. The portals I speak of are entries into another realm that may be neither here nor there, but is very much as this place, while possibly being an entirely different one.

Opportunities to cross over usually (allegedly) happen at special places and at special times, places like Easter Island or the Mayan Temples in Mexico, or Stonehenge, and times like the changing of the seasons, the solstices and equinoxes (a favorite subject of this blog), or the other cardinal points of a calendar, which fall between these abovementioned more familiar ones, being May Day (or May Eve), All Hallows Day (or the more familiar night before, Hallowe'en), Mid Winter's Day on February 1, or Lughnasadh, or La Lunasa, coming up at the close of this month. A familiar reference to such a time is found in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii, where Hamlet speaks

"Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood, And do such bitter business as the day Would quake to look on."
They may be when people are at that final wayfaring point in their lives, ready to shuffle off their mortal coil and move over to the next adventure. There have been books written and shows made of the tales of such folks who believed they've been over to the other side, wherever that other side may be.

Then there are also the fictional accounts of otherworldly places, places such as Glastonbury Tor in England, made real for me, already an ardent follower and believer in the Arthurian Cycle, in the book The Mists of Avalon, a 1982 tome by Marion Zimmer Bradley whose bookcover is at right, which is one of my favorite reads, although I have not revisited its pages on many years. The phenomena allowing such cross overs are usually to be found in nature. Every now and then we read of some religious person seeing the face of Christ or of Mary as the clouds are parting on a beautiful morning. Or they occur on those occasions which could play as the setting of any one of those old stories starting with the words "It was a dark and stormy night . . . "

As you may recall, last night was one of those, as a strong thunderstorm raced through Louisville between 9:30 and 10:00 with winds gusting up to about 25 mph, lowering the temperature to around 73 degrees, and then moving on to other places.

Before the storm, I had left off having coffee along Bardstown Road with my friend and a friend of his, a young lady named Rikki who is making her way in the next couple of weeks to the University of Tennessee for her second year, where she is to study French and World Business. Her trip to Knoxville will take her first to Lexington, then Pittsburgh, the District of Columbia, and finally southward to Knox County, Tennessee, home of the Volunteers. She had summered in Paris - theirs, not ours - where among other things she studied American ex-patriot writers, giving me the chance to ask her if she had "had a coffee along the Left Bank?" to which she answered "yes." She had in fact studied and written about Ernest Hemingway, including the reading of The Sun Also Rises, which is featured from time-to-time here in the postings along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. As I reported later to my friend (who was her friend), she was charming and I was charmed. When I was twenty, most of the young women I knew had never summered in Paris - not even ours - nor were they studying anything other than English or History, if anything at all. There were a few exceptions - one of them went on to become a middle school principal and another became a Chamber of Commerce type, while still yet a third to no one's surprise simply married an older rich doctor of Indian or Pakistani descent, which was rather more unusual then than it seems to be now.

Our little kaffeeklatsch ended as the rain started and I made my way home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

359. It should be an exciting week . . .

Change is in the air. This week should be exciting for political hacks in Jefferson County. And planning for Fancy Farm just adds to the mix.

Friday, July 18, 2008

358. From One Branch to Another - and Who Will Follow?

My how time flies when you are working, walking precincts, stopping in the hospital, watching a ball game at Slugger Field, and sweating in the heat. I've done all of those things this week, but one can be eliminated for the time being - stopping in the hospital. My dad has been discharged and is at home and doing better, which is a good thing. Other than some cute nurses to look at now and then - his report and my observation (of him, not them), his recent stay in the hospital wasn't all that pleasant. But I'm glad he is home and he seems to be as well, and as his spirits are improved by the familiar surroundings, hopefully his health will follow.

The temperature when I left the office at 5pm was 94 degrees at Standiford Field, which meant it was closer to 97 or 98 downtown in the asphalt empire governed over by His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. It has since receded back to 92 - not much of a retreat. Other than some random clouds here and there, and a full moon, not much change is expected weatherwise anytime soon here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

But, change is in the air, at least politically in Kentucky's two most populous counties. Here in Jefferson County, my long time boss and even longer-time friend Irv Maze, at right, is expected to make some moves soon ending his partisan political career, and possibly making a lateral move to the judicial branch taking a seat on the Jefferson Circuit Bench. Irv has been Jefferson County Attorney since his election to that post in 1998. He succeeded Mike Conliffe, who had succeeded J. Bruce Miller, my former employer. Irv and Mike worked under Bruce who was County Attorney from 1969 to 1985. Irv was originally elected to the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee the same year I was, in 1980. He was elected Chair of the 46th LD; I was elected Vice Chair of the 45th. I was elected by a wide margin; his election was very close, challenged at the local level, appealed to the State Central Committee, and decided in a recount of the weighted votes, where he won by a few thousanths of a percentage point.

Fayette County is going through a partisan-to-judicial conversion as well, one which has created some electoral opportunities in their legislative delegation. Longtime State Senator Ernesto Scorsone has withdrawn as a candidate for reelection to the 13th Senate District, a position he has held for ten years, and filed for a Circuit Court post. That created a vacancy on the ballot for the 13th Senate. Longtime State Representative Kathy Stein has been chosen by the appropriate people in the 13th Senate District to be the Democratic Party's nominee. She will have to remove her name as a candidate for State Representative in the 75th House seat, which affords the appropriate people in the 75th House District the chance to nominate a replacement candidate. I have a strong opinion as to who the appropriate people in the 75th House District might be, and I will be curiously watching to see how this position is filled. On several occasions while a member of the State Central Committee, I proposed an Amendment to the State Party By-Laws which would address and clarify who the appropriate people might be in such a situation, but my proposal was never heard, most recently due to the early adjournment of a meeting which had ran longer than anticipated.

Aside from how the replacement candidate for the 75th is chosen, I am genuinely interested in these legislator changes. The legislators currently representing the 13th Senate and 75th House districts are two of the most progressive and conscientious people in Frankfort, or for that matter, anywhere in the Commonwealth, and I am proud to call them my friends. They have served not only their own constituencies well, but also have been great assets to the people of Kentucky as a whole. Their work protecting those who are regularly underrepresented - or misrepresented - or unrepresented - has been noted by many and has in itself ennobled the work of the General Assembly, in an era when so much coming out of Frankfort is less-than-satisfactory at best. (Senator Scorsone and Representative Stein are shown above with 77th District Representative Jesse Crenshaw).


The spring Ernesto Scorsone first ran for the legislature, if I recall it correctly, I was living part-time in Louisville and part-time in Lexington. I was doing work for the University of Kentucky Student Government Association, then being led by David Bradford - again speculation, not to be represented as factual - it may have been Tim Freudenberg at that point. Anyway, within our circle of SGA hangers-on was Claude R. "Buddy" Vaughan, whose father, as I remember, was Ernesto's primary opponent for the 75th House seat. Although I didn't know Ernesto or Mr. Vaughan, I think I remember campaigning for Mr. Vaughan at Buddy's behest in the Chevy Chase neighborhood and out toward Morton Junior High School (now Morton Middle) - which, unrelated, is one of the most handsome school buildings anywhere, but not quite as impressive as Jefferson County's duPont Manual High School. At least, that's what I remember. 1984 remains a cloudy, cobweb-filled year in the crevices of what is left of my memory, which is somewhat diminished from its former capacity. Maybe all this happened, maybe it didn't. But, I digress.

Ernesto won that primary and went on to serve in the House of Representatives for a decade, at which point he moved over to the Senate, defeating Republican Mitchell Meade in that first election in 1996. Kathy Stein took Ernesto's place in the House, defeating Pete Palumbo the same year. Both have worked hard not only in front of the camera, but much more so behind the cameras, in committee meetings, Democratic caucusses, and countless other encounters, making sure that certain legislation either did or didn't make it to the House or Senate floor, and making sure that if such legislation did make to the full body, that all parties and positions were well-represented in the deliberations. Each has moved up in power and prestige; each has done a lot of work and a lot of good, much of which goes unreported or underreported. Representative Stein is currently serving in the very powerful role of Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

I do not blame Senator Scorsone for his wanting to move from one role to another, especially given the so-called "leader" of his chamber is State Senator David Williams, Republican of Russell Springs, or Burkesville, or somewhere associated with the number 666. Nor do I begrudge Representative Stein the opportunity to serve in the Kentucky Senate, presently home to only one Democratic female, 35th District Senator Denise Harper Angel of Jefferson County. The Senate needs and will benefit from Stein's presence in that chamber. But, I am concerned that her voice there will be, at least in the beginning, not quite as strong, perhaps (though doubtfully) not quite as effective, as it is in the lower chamber. And I am concerned that whoever the appropriate people mentioned above choose as a replacement candidate in the 75th, that that person will not be as effective as Stein currently is in her leadership role in the House. I know that time will lend favor and power to Stein in the Senate as well as to her replacement in the House. And I am hopeful that it doesn't take too long for the favor and power to find itself and whoever is serving in these positions.

I can only wish both of these able and amiable leaders the best in their new roles in Fayette County. And to my friend Irv Maze in Jefferson County, the same.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

357. Busy Day

First, I had some comments and some email on matters of importance to me and I appreciate them very much.

Friday night, as I said I would, I visited the wake of Tyrone Richie, who died on Monday. The Kingdom Land Baptist Church is a very small building. It was completely filled with lots and lots of other young people who appeared to be close to 18, as Tyrone was, along with lots of other people of all ages, as was 11th Street for a block up and down both sides of the road. At the viewing, I met his cousin and his mother and expressed sincere sympathy with tear-filled eyes. Young people simply shouldn't die such horrible deaths, or for that matter at all. Life is completely ahead of them and the potentiality - for anyone - is great. I will keep Tyrone and his family in my prayers.

I've reported my father's illness. He seemed better today and I told him so. His color was better, his voice was stronger and we picked up our political conversation close to where we left it off - except he had watched most of the Sunday morning Spinmeisters and had some opinions on all of them. He asked me how much gas was - still $4.09 at 7th and Algonquin - $4.29 closer to me at Broadway and Baxter. He is in favor of drilling for more oil in America, but the Democratic argument of the oil companies having 68,000,000 acres under lease that they haven't drilled on appeals to him more than drilling in ANWR or going to any foreign countries. But he also recognizes that either of those plans does little right away and thinks it is rather shortsighted to campaign on them. Even more to him appealing is the idea of hydrogen power, or nuclear power. We agree on nuclear power - it is one of those issues where my position can get me thrown out of my liberal-elite-latte drinking circles. (For the record, as some of you know, I drink my coffee black and strong). I have a few non liberal beliefs but we'll let that go for now. Dad isn't sure that Obama has a real plan to end the War, which he opposes, and he is absolutely certain McCain doesn't. He also thinks McCain is a fool to keep Phil Gramm around, given that neither one of them is apparently "very strong on the economy." While I was there they came in [they being light blue for a nurse, flowerdy-patterns for staff, and purple for an aide] and took a bunch of vital stats, all of which were remarkably better than yesterday's. So, he is doing better and may be going home later in the week. That's a good thing.

Today's Bible readings were all about sowing and reaping. From Isaiah, the well known words of the rain and snow falling upon the earth making it fertile; in the Psalms the response was "The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest." The Second Reading came from Romans although I didn't think it fit in well with the others. It was about creation, but human creation, which is a lot more complicated that sowing seeds and waiting for rain and later a harvest. Or is it? The Gospel of Saint Matthew provided the Parable of the Sower. In today's world, where there are fewer and fewer individual sowers as most of us rely on companies like Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill as our personal farmers, this parable's meaning may not be personal enough. We must all in our lives prepare the rich soil which produces fruit. That could mean our circle of friends, the work we do, the people we help or harm, and they way we treat our terrestrial home, Earth.

From the Scriptures, I turned to Shakespeare. A garden-party fundraiser was held today at the Landward House for the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, commonly known as Shakespeare in the Park. Chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and brats, along with other picnic foods were offered while listening to a bluegrass band called Relic - four guys on guitar, banjo, mandolin, and bass. They were really good. I'm not a country-music fan, but I love me some real banjo-picking bluegrass. They threw in a few blues tunes, and two or three other standards, but it seemed more like Renfro Valley or Pineville than 4th Street and Magnolia Avenue along the Left Bank of the Ohio river near Milepost 606. The Landward House, by the way, is a 22-room three story Italianate mansion built for the Reverend Stuart Robinson in the 1880s.

As I said earlier, I also visited Dad today, and from there, at about 8:00 pm, ventured to Mom's for more yardwork. Visiting Mom usually entails yardwork. Fortunately she doesn't share Dad's political opinions. She's a rather non-political retired state employee who has always been a Democrat and will almost always vote for the Democrat, knowing that such a vote is almost always the best one she can make. She was for Hillary early on but switched to Obama about two weeks before Kentucky's Primary. She never told me why. As she is basically a quiet conservative Baptist Democrat, it is probably best I not ask for an elaboration. She can't vote for Yarmuth though. She is in one of Jefferson County's twelve precincts which were drawn into the Second Congressional District in the 1990 Reapportionment of the Congress. Prior to that time, she was in the Fourth. David Boswell will get her vote in that race.

So, this week's first day is past. Onward to the prize before us - another week to work, pay taxes, spend our earnings, and enjoy our friends. Woohoo!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

356. Saturday Evening Post

My blog of late, when I've entered a post at all, has tended to be more diary than blog, which was not the intention when we began back in January of last year. Gas was a hell of a lot cheaper then and travels were a hell of a lot further then, even if they still were pretty much restricted to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State of Indiana. Today's cheapest gas here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 was seen at the corner of Seventh Street Road and Algonquin Parkway on the former City of Louisville's southwest side where the posted price was $4.09. Most places are closer to $4.20 than $4.10.

There are several others issues occupying my plate presently, not the least of which is the health of my father, which has been sharply declining since late May or early June. He has been hospitalized twice in the last two weeks, currently on his third day in the Transitional Care Unit at Norton's. He has an irregular heart beat, bad sugar, and there is a great concern about how much blood is getting through how much of his body, and apparently it isn't nearly enough. I've just left his hospital room where he is still healthy enough to complain about Barack Obama, John McCain, and most anyone else on this fall's ballot. Although he voted against him twice, he saw former President Clinton on C-Span today from his hospital bed, and like many Americans, both those who did or didn't vote for him, found himself wishing ol' Bill was back in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, instead of the current occupant or either of the possible future occupants. Dad might have voted for Hillary this fall - it is certain he will not vote for Obama. As an old establishment Republican who several years back switched to an Independent, in protest of the Republican planned and led War in Iraq, he's come a long way, but voting for Obama is simply a road too far. I'll take his vote for John Yarmuth's reelection, which he has promised. This will be only the second time in his voting career, dating to 1957, that he has voted for a Democrat. The first time was John's first election in 2006.

Earlier in the day, I trekked out to the Metro Democratic Club's Summer Picnic, held in an idyllic setting along Ormsby Lane at the Lyndon Elks Lodge Park. Ormsby Lane, one of several streets in Louisville by that name, is one of the county's oldest roads, connecting La Grange Road (or New La Grange Road, as it is called by the Metro) with Old Whipps Mill Road, the old road which ventures off to the northeast of US 60 at the old Eight Mile House, an historic toll house (shown at left in an 1886 photo) still standing on the northside of that intersection. The toll house in mentioned in Karl Kron's book "Ten Thousand Miles on a Bike" published in New York in 1887. The Elks Lodge Park is about 3/4 mile east of the toll house. The land in this area was originally owned by Col. William Christian, statesman and military officer from the pre-Revolutionary days of the Republic. He was married to Patrick Henry's sister and located in Jefferson County when it was still a part of Virginia in 1785. His estate was "across the street" from Alexander Bullitt's Oxmoor Farm and his daughter later married Mr. Bullitt, who would become Kentucky's first lieutenant governor. It is a point of trivia that Bullitt did not serve under Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's first governor. The office of lieutenant governor wasn't created until 1800, eight years after statehood was achieved. Bullitt's service in the number two role was under James Garrard, who was Kentucky's 2nd governor, serving two consecutive terms, the last governor to do so until Paul Patton's re-election in 1999, 199 years later. But I digress.

Today's picnic featured a softball game between the Metro Council Democrats and the Jefferson County Legislative Democrats. But, since neither of those groups had enough people present to field a team, the day was saved by the First District Metro Councilwoman Judy Green, who brought along her children and foster children, enough to fill out the rosters of both sides. Congressman John Yarmuth served in the #1 position for both sides, fielding a few balls hit straight ahead, and making a spectacular out by tagging a runner at home plate, although the runner (one of Judy's sons) got the best of the congressman who took a tumble to the ground. Elected officials, in addition to Green, filling out the rosters were Jefferson County Judge/Executive Ken Herndon, State Senator Denise Harper Angel, State Senator Perry Clark (who coached), State Representative Joni Jenkins, and Metro Councilman David Tandy. While Metro Councilwoman Vicki Welch didn't play, her husband, Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Matt Welch did. The final score was 8-1 in favor of the legislature, although I think Judy's family scored all the runs on both sides. For the record, there were two errors on the Council's shortstop, played by Tandy, and one of the Legislative shortstop, played by Herndon. Although the Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair wasn't in attendance, the State Democratic Party Chair was, accompanied by her regular date, my dear friend Dan Borsch. It was explained to me they spent the week out of town in Michigan, celebrating Dan's 32nd birthday. After the game, a three-inning thriller, barbecue, potato salad, slaw, and desserts were served. Another typical Summer-Saturday meal.

There were concerns throughout the day about rain, but none came until just a few minutes ago. The Summer Picnic was an excellent diversion for what would have otherwise been a mundane, hot, and muggy July Saturday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

355. Seven/Eleven, briefly

I took the day off. Stopped in Walgreen's. Mrs. Atkins was behind the counter working. I haven't seen her since the Walgreen's on 4th downtown closed in 2005. She is still working and still doing well. Her husband Warren is not, and is in a nursing home. I've known them for over 20 years. While in line, my old neighbor Roger Bradford came in. Just the other night I remarked to another friend I hadn't seen Roger in months - but then I was reminded I did see him Primary Election Night. Still, I always enjoy meeting up with him, whether by chance or plan. While still in the store, Hazel Hartley showed up. Hazel and her husband Darryl have been great friends for fifteen years. Her husband is visiting his sister in Tulsa and she reported that gave her some free space to clean up the house. I've never been in their house that is wasn't spotless. So, it has been a good morning to have played hookie.

Tonight's plans are somber. A high school co-op student who worked in the Jefferson County Attorney's Office earlier this year and last summer was killed in an automobile accident in Frankfort, Indiana on Monday. We had become good friends during his work in the office. I will be visiting his wake at Kingdom Land Baptist Church, which is located at the corner of 7th and 11th streets in the Park Hill neighborhood. Visitation at 7th and 11th on 7/11. Life is odd at times. And sad, very sad.

Rest in Peace, Tyrone. Born 12/31/1989, Died 7/7/2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

354. Happy Fifth of July

Today is the 5th of July, the day my grandfather Noble passed away in 1987. He was 80. Today also marks the birthday of my friend Dan Borsch, who is somewhere near 31, although I am just guessing. Happy Birthday Dan.

Yesterday, of course, was the Fourth of July, the 232nd birthday of the Republic. I began the morning as I have for years, gathering with other local Democrats (although not too many this year) for the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party's Annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence. This event was started many years ago and is held in front of the World War II Memorial on the Court House lawn at Fifth and Jefferson streets.

The weather this year was ominous with clouds all around and rain here and there. Although an alternate site had been arranged, it was decided that we would proceed at the original location.

Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Tim Longmeyer opened with brief and appropriate remarks. The Declaration was divided up into five parts and the reading commenced. Congressman John Yarmuth began, followed by Jefferson County PVA Tony Lindauer, followed by me, followed by Jeff Derouen who serves as Chief of Staff for Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo and is a resident of Okolona in Jefferson County. The final reader was Party Chair Tim Longmeyer. The event was closed with a singing of the National Anthem, led by Tony Lindauer. I've always enjoyed this event, whether the crowd was large or small - today's was small.

Later in the day, I trekked the 12 or 13 miles which separate me from my mother's house, where, knowing I had a day off from work, she has a list of things-to-do, some of which I got done. I'll do more today, and probably more tomorrow. We eventually had a typical July 4th meal of Hot Dogs and Macaroni Salad.

As I left her house in far southern (and suburban) Jefferson County, I made my way through several different subdivisions (Rowland Park, Woodcreek, Timber Glen, and Briar Cliff) on my course to I-65. Following I-65, I exitted at Jackson Street, coursing through the (urban) neighborhoods of Shelby Park, Smoketown, and my own, which at one time was called Clarksdale, but it usually referred to now as the East Market Street district. In any event, it occurred to me as I was crossing all these ethnic, racial, social, economic, and geographic divides, that all of us tend to celebrate this one day a year the same way.

While we may do Christmas different based on religious or family traditions, and birthdays are either celebrated wildly or sometimes not at all (two days ago a friend told me she was celebrating the 21st Anniversary of her 31st birthday), and Thanksgiving may mean travelling to grandmas or reservations at the Galt House, the Fourth of July is typically done the same by everyone who celebrates it - food, family, and fireworks. Maybe we owe the fireworks thing to Francis Scott Key, who penned the words "the rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air." Even with all the rain and fog and mist, there were plenty of both last night here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Chances are you had the same experience.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Worth Reading Again




The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

The Archives at Milepost 606

Personal

Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, 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.