Monday, August 31, 2009

532. California's Tenth Congressional District - and John Yarmuth's Town Hall Announcement

I've been on the phone making calls to a bunch of people with area codes starting with 925 and 510. They are undecided voters in the Tenth Congressional District of California, an area to the north and east of San Francisco, covering several counties in the low hills out beyond Oakland and stretching over to the suburbs of Sacramento. I'm supporting a young man named Anthony Woods. Here are some talking points from the phone call sheet:

FROM OUR COMMUNITY: Anthony Woods was born and raised in Fairfield---the son of a single mom who worked as a housekeeper. Anthony Woods knows our community and the challenges we’re facing, while his opponents are Sacramento politicians who are squabbling over a job promotion while our state is on the verge of bankruptcy.

• A FIGHTER FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE: Anthony Woods understands our broken healthcare system first hand, because he’s lived the uncertainty of being without health insurance for most of his life. Anthony Woods won’t just vote for Universal Healthcare--he’ll lead the fight for a plan that covers everyone and reduces costs by including a public option in Congress.

• A 21st CENTURY ECONOMY NEEDS A 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE: Like a growing number of Americans, Anthony Woods grew up without the resources to attend college. He earned a Congressional Appointment to West Point, and through his service to our country, went on to earn his Master’s Degree from Harvard. Anthony understands that to keep America strong and restore our sagging economy, we need to invest in a 21st century workforce. That’s why he’s proposed a National College affordability program, which rewards each year of national service with a year of higher education.

• A LEADER WHO KNOWS THE MILITARY AND A CHAMPION FOR VETERANS: Anthony Woods is the only candidate in this race who knows our military. Woods served two tours in Iraq, earned the Bronze Star for his actions in combat, and brought every soldier under his command home alive. He will fight for the real benchmarks and timelines we need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the resources we need to ensure our veterans get the care they have earned and deserve when they come home.

• ON EQUALITY, WOODS STANDS ON CONVICTION, NOT POLITICAL CONVENIENCE: Woods’ military career was cut short when he stepped forward to challenge the failed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy—a policy that is weakening our military, and endangering our security at a cost of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars. Anthony Woods will fight for the equality of all Americans, because he has lived this battle first hand.


It is the last one which got my attention. Mr. Woods, who I think is 28 or 29, won a congressional appointment/scholarship to West Point where he excelled. He then went to Harvard for a Master's Degree, where he likewise excelled. He then entered the service of the United States, again excelling at everything he did, making two tours of duty in Iraq and earning the Bronze Star.

But, he is gay. And the United States Army discharged him. And, that simply is wrong. Here is a young man contributing to the defense of our nation and its principles, serving two tours of duty in Iraq, only to be "let go."

Tomorrow his name appears on the ballot in the Special Election called by the Governor of California to fill the seat which was vacated by former Congresswoman Elaine Tauscher, who has gone to work for the president. I'm supporting Mr. Woods, even from two thousand miles away here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Very few members of the Congress have his academic credentials. Even fewer have his military credentials. The Congress needs someone like Mr. Woods and I am hopeful for a win tomorrow in California's Tenth Congressional District.


Much closer to home, Congressman John Yarmuth's office put out its press release for their Town Hall meeting on Wednesday. It is copied below.

Congressman John Yarmuth

Representing Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District



August 31, 2009 MEDIA CONTACT

Trey Pollard 502.582.5129
Advisory: Yarmuth to Hold Health Care Town Hall Meeting this Wednesday

(Louisville, KY) On Wednesday, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) will host a traditional town hall meeting on health care reform for constituents of Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District.

The event will be moderated by radio talk show host Francene Cucinello, of 84 WHAS’ “The Francene Show” and will take place at Central High School, 1130 West Chestnut Street. Priority will be given to Louisville residents who will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. This will be followed by individuals who are not residents of the 3rd Congressional District (subject to room capacity).

Congressman Yarmuth’s district work period schedule has been focused on meetings with doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and other health care providers, small business owners and representatives from large corporations, health insurance representatives, individual consumers and a range of other groups interested in the health care reform. In addition, over 15,000 Louisvillians participated in the Congressman’s three tele-town hall meetings.

Members of the media interested in attending to town hall must RSVP to Congressman Yarmuth’s office by 6pm on Tuesday, September 1. To RSVP, please include “RSVP” in the subject line of an email to and list your name and media outlet.

Who: Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3)

84 WHAS’ Francene

Constituents of the 3rd Congressional District

When: 6:30pm, September 2, 2009

Doors open at 5pm

Where: Central High School, 1130 West Chestnut Street

United States House of Representatives
435 Cannon House Office Building • Washington, DC 20515
202.225-5401 phone • 202.225.5776 fax

531. Two more unrelated thoughts: Italics and the Weather

Somehow, I've been invaded by the Italics, not to be confused with any Italians who may have also visited at one time or another. A great deal of my blog is now showing up in italics. I'm not sure why. Since I'm not sure how it got that way, I'm not quite sure how to make it go away. I've tried to correct it, but to no avail. Maybe it will correct itself. It has been my experience that most things in life, whether small or large, tend to eventually correct themselves - or go away.

Hopefully the weather will not correct itself. The end of August is supposed to be like the rest of August, which is why President Bush did in August 2001 what the French famously do each year, which is to take the month off. But this August has been a most enjoyable experience, like being in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, a place I visited more than a few times as a teenager. This morning the temperature was 53 degrees when I woke up. The high is forecast to be 77. I can live that with for rest of the month, which is to say today. So long, August 2009, it has been a pleasure.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why? Where? What? and Who? Four Unrelated Items


My friend Tim Havrilek has an entry on his blog, a blog which covers politics in west Kentucky. The Underground Rooster has been mentioned before here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Tim would be considered a conservative Democrat here in Louisville and I am confident he calls himself one. But he is also a passionate and compassionate Democrat and his passion and compassion are more than just political catchwords. We have known of each other for over a generation.

(The old Trigg County Courthouse is shown at left. I believe it has been torn down). His most recent entry has a "To Kill A Mockingbird" air to it. It concerns the local trial of a man accused and convicted of Disturbing the Peace in Trigg County, Kentucky. If you are not familiar with Trigg County, it lays upon the Tennessee state line in near-far western Kentucky. Those of you who make the trek to Fancy Farm each August end up about fifty miles west of the county, which like the community of Fancy Farm is bisected by KY80. Fully one-third of the county is part of the Kentucky and Tennesee's famous Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Trigg is a beautiful county with shores of both Kentucky and Barkley lakes. The population is about 13,000 and the county seat is Cadiz.

The beauty of Trigg County ends there as far the current entry of the Underground Rooster is concerned. The story is about a Mr. Latham, use of the word bullshit and the possible use of an invective epithet as a result of Mr. Latham wearing an Obama t-shirt in a recent parade. I invite you to go read the story and form your own opinion. As I stated in the comments section of the entry, it is situations like this which cause people like me to join the ACLU. After reading the entry one question which will come to mind is Why?



I spent part of the afternoon today getting new brakes put on my little car, a facsimile of which is shown at left. In the near future, other work due to be done is an oil-change and at least two new tires. Earlier this year I drove the car to Washington DC and I am planning to make that trip again in early October. This time I will drive the reverse route of that taken by me and my two fellow travellers when the occasion then was the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. This next trip will be a much less structured, which hopefully means a little more relaxed. While I had the time of my life in the cold frozen tundra of January in Washington and would do it all again for President Obama, this trip has no specific agenda other than to see a few friends and, naturally, to do a little politicking. Later in the year, between Christmas and New Year's, it is my hope to take my mother to see her cousins in Chattanooga; and continue from there south with my friend to Homestead, Florida, where he can visit his daugther's maternal grandmother; and for me to go alone from there even further south to Key West and Duval Street for some end of 2009/beginning of 2010 fun.



What ever happened to Global Warming? No, I'm not falling off the liberal bandwagon and abandoning belief in the scientific fact of global warming. But one has to question the legimitacy of such an idea here in Louisville where Julys and Augusts are typically unbearable, with temperatures and humidity levels both usually in the 90s for way-too-many days. July was the most agreeable July we've ever had in Louisville, and other than a flood on August 4th, this month has been pleasurable as well. What will September and October bring? Sooner or later we have to have a few days of Summer. My 49th birthday in a few weeks will officially kick off Autumn, so there isn't much time left.



While watching Senator Kennedy's funeral, did anyone other than me see the possible third-generation family member to whom a torch - The Torch - might someday be passed? Although he is yet a teenager, John Bouvier Kennedy "Jack" Schlossberg, the son of presidential-daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, could be in line sooner or later. He was seen in the funeral as one of the readers during the Prayers of the People part of the Mass. Assuming he is 16 today, he would be eligible for the presidency in 2028 and if not then in 2032. I'll be 67 in the former and 71 in the latter. There's nothing wrong with planning ahead.

From left to right, that's Rose, Caroline, Tatiana, and Jack Schlossberg at last year's Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

529. Somber Occasion

Today is one of those days that, admittedly, I need a TV. The last time was last summer for the political conventions and the Olympics, and before that the deaths of presidents Ford and Reagan. Today I am here watching, with absolute fascination, the funeral of the late United States Senator Edward Moore Kennedy.

The family has not arrived and when they do that entire right side of the church will fill up with scores, probably hundreds of Kennedy family members. Kennedy's other family, his political one in Washington, is present in force. And this is where my fascination comes in.

Sitting in the front pew is President Obama. And for the last several minutes he and former president Bill Clinton have been engaged in some conversation, longer than just a hello - several minutes. Also there are former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and all their wives. And it is a testament to our government that they are all interacting, I'm sure catching up not only on their experiences with the former senator, but also their experiences with each other.

Earlier there was a shot of President Clinton with his arm around his vice president Al Gore. I was thinking back to the distance Gore put between his campaign for president and Clinton in 1999 and 2000. But that's politics. And this isn't really government - this is statesmanship - and I apologize for that sexist term; it is one of the few we PC people haven't found an equivalent for.

The family - America's Royalty - is now preceding into the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, faces we've all seen all our lives, watching these nieces and nephews grow up into citizens of the world, many in politics, some in private civic matters, and a hand full in trouble now and then.

The moderators are talking about which of the Kennedy offspring might want to seek this seat, should that opportunity arise. I am of an age to know that the torch was to have been passed to someone my age; someone who like so many Kennedy family members had his life cut short, although it was arguably and inadvertently by his own actions. How much different would life had been if JFK, Jr. - John-John - was still with us, here to have been a candidate for president in 2000? President Kennedy's son was two months younger than me and he was always someone I knew would one day give my generation its own version of Camelot. He was to have been the first candidate for president I voted for who was younger than me. But that wasn't to be and I would not have that vote to cast until eight years later.

I'm too young to remember President Kennedy. In papers I wrote in college, I often took the stance that he was more style than substance - that in his heart he knew what should have been done, but that the country was not ready for the type of changes that were needed. I barely remember Bobby Kennedy; I do remember his death and funeral. In my later studies I learned about his campaign for president and, if you look through some blog entries last year, I offered on several occcasions that I believed candidate Obama should have taken a US23 poverty tour through the edges of Appalachia in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. But he didn't. But I do remember Senator Ted Kennedy. I mentioned a few days ago I supported him in the 1980 primaries, the first in which I was old enough to vote for president. And I will miss him.

The hearse has arrived carrying his body and the Mass is about to begin, so I will quit here.

God Bless You, Mr. Kennedy. Rest In Peace. +

Thursday, August 27, 2009

528. Yarmuth at the Metro

The Metro Democratic Club played host to Congressman John Yarmuth last night in a meeting at the American Legion Highland Post on Bardstown Road. The regular membership crowd was swelled to 241 people as we were joined by the Jefferson County Democratic Party Executive Committee, about 30 members of organized Labor, and maybe 20 dissidents whose presence was noted by not felt. There were no problems whatsoever.

The congressman was introduced by State Senator Perry Clark, who played an important role in Yarmuth's first election in 2006. Bruce Maples moderated the Q&A period, throwing Yarmuth everything from softballs to curveballs and the congressman answered each one thoroughly. He was on the hot-spot for just over an hour. It was an impressive bit of work and I called the congressman afterward and let him know.

Although the Metro Club's meetings are open to anyone to attend, this was at core a Democratic Club meeting. Congressman Yarmuth began with a memorial salute to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who is to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. And there were congratulations announced on the election of Robin Webb as the newest Democratic state senator in Frankfort, in a seat previously held by a Republican. But for the most part of an hour and a quarter, this was America in its "little-d" democratic best, with a congressman at the front of 241 people, explaining just what the Congress has been doing for the last eight months. And Congressman Yarmuth earned his keep.

The Metro Democratic Club's next meeting is two weeks away on September 9. The guest speaker will be Kyle Cox, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Democratic Party. Doors open at 6 with the program commencing at 6:30. Also, between now and then, Congressman Yarmuth will be conducting his own open-to-the-public and in-person Town Hall meeting, the only member of the eight-person Kentucky Congressional Delegation in either party to do so. His meeting will be September 2, 2009 at Central High School. You can get more details on Yarmuth's Town Hall by calling his Louisville office at 502-582-5129.

[Edited at 8:05 pm, 08/27/2009]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I received a call from my friend Tim Havrilek in west Kentucky at 1:59 am informing me of the death of United States Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. We had a brief talk about the late senator, one of the great leaders and people of my world. He had been senator since I was just over one year of age.

I suppose I could have gotten up and blogged at the time about the loss but I didn't. I stayed in bed realizing there was very little I could say that someone else wouldn't. I did not know the senator although I met him twice in the 1980s, once here in Louisville at a Kentucky Democratic Party fundraiser at the old Timothy's Restaurant on E. Broadway, and another time at a National Young Democrats event, either in Washington or Philadelphia. I supported him in the 1980 Presidential Primary, my first-ever presidential election. I still have a t-shirt from that campaign, silver lettering on a black shirt which reads "America doesn't need more Peanut Butter," a reference to his peanut-growing opponent, then-President Jimmy Carter.

Still, early this morning there is so much to say and much will be. I am at a loss to write further.

Rest In Peace, Senator Kennedy. You did good and great work for many, many people. May your soul and the souls of all those who have departed find eternal peace. +

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

526. Thank Goodness for Carter County - and Lewis too. Lewis, really?

I don't claim to know much about Carter County. I've been there a few times. The county seat is Grayson and the main north-south street is KY1/KY7, and KY9 and KY2 aren't too far away to the north, just beyond the intersection with I64. And, Grayson is bigger than you think it is. And there is some connection between the person for whom the city of Grayson is named and that for whom the county of Carter is named. I think both are for William Grayson Carter. Further there is a connection also to the person for whom the county of Grayson is named, William Grayson, who is William Grayson Carter's grandfather. That's honestly the extent of my fuzzy knowledge of Carter County.

What I do know is that Carter County resident Robin Webb owes a great deal of her election today to the good folks of her home county. She won the county 3105 to 1955, an 1150 vote margin. She won her entire district by only 282 votes. She also carried Robertson County, Kentucky's smallest county both in size and voters, where she won 168 to 142. The 18th Senate District has six counties. She lost the other four; sizably in Greenup County, the home of her Republican opponent.

Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Mason, and Robertson all boast Democratic registration of from nearly 2/1 in Carter to almost 6/1 in Robertson. Nonetheless, she lost three of those five. In the other county in the 18th, Lewis, with the courthouse at Vanceburg, there are 2472 registered Democrats and 6994 registered Republicans. But did Lewis have a blowout victory for the GOP candidate? No, there the loss for Robin was 1072 to 1184. That's pretty respectable for a county with such lobsided registration.

So, here's to the voters of Carter County and Lewis too. Today they elected a new Democratic State Senator in the 18th District, my friend Robin Webb. And while Robin's win doesn't tilt the scales entirely to a friendlier Senate, it does tend to lead us a little more down our path that their's.

Robin Webb (D) - 8684
Dr. Jack Ditty (R) - 8402
Guy Gibbons (I) - 952

The turnout was 23.6%.

The truth is we have our work cut out for us next November when this seat is back on the ballot.

525. A Little Help From My Friends

I want to acknowledge the help I received yesterday staffing the Kentucky Democratic Party booth at the State Fair. I always take a day then ask around for volunteers. Yesterday I was there was 9 to 6, but with the help of my friends, we staffed it from 9 to 9.

I began the morning with Michael Meeks, with whom I serve on the KDP State Central Committee, and Bud Andrews, who is an employee of the State Party. Michael is a lobbyist and lives in the Buechel area. Then came Anne Lindauer, a retired school teacher and librarian, and a resident of the Highlands. Next were two vacationing employees of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell's office - Allison Amon of Fern Creek and Allison Kern, who lives in the Belmar area right across from the Fairgrounds. Allison Amon also serves on the KDP committee and is the Jefferson County Democratic Party Vice Chair. Akeel Zaheer, a resident of the Strathmore area, was there for most of the afternoon, as was Ben Basil, now a 2nd year law student at U of L. I met Ben in the 2006 Yarmuth campaign. Among other things, he was one of the best canvass organizers I've ever seen. Also working in the afternoon was Deborah Lawther, who serves as the 48th LD Vicec Chair. She tried to sell me some Shaklee products to while away the hours, but I didn't bite - just yet. Jim Stammermann, who lives in the Hikes Point area came along in the evening, as did Matt Erwin, a campaign organizer I met last year. I do not know where Matt and his girlfriend reside. Lindsay Dickinson, now an MD, along with her mother Sandra, arrived for the evening, at which point I had to leave. I was also expecting later in the evening some time from Queenie Averette, from Louisville's West End and also a member of the State Party, as well as a contingent from the Bullitt County Democratic Party led by Debbie Stinson. Thanks again to all of you.

I would say something about the booth itself, or the lack of the booth itself, but I'm trying to figure out a way to do so without being critical and my wordsmithing skills haven't yet found those words. Hopefully by next year we will have located the big booth we own and go back to a more workable booth.

In a different part of the state, today is Election Day for my friend Robin Webb. As I did yesterday, she is today looking for a little help from her friends in the 18th Senate District, a six-county collection of voters in northeastern Kentucky. Good luck to her and the voters of her district.

[Edited at 8:04 pm, 08/27/2009]

Saturday, August 22, 2009

524. Tri-State Adventure

Admittedly, about 92% of the adventure was in one state, the good ol' Commonwealth of Kentucky.

My friend Montero and I took off to the east today to support the candidacy of my friend Robin Webb as she seeks the office of 18th District State Senator in northeastern Kentucky.

Heading east on I64, we journeyed through exurban Shelby County, past the Capital City and County along the banks of the Kentucky River, up the hills to the lush Bluegrass of central Kentucky, and up a little more into the western foothills of the eastern Kentucky mountains, through the velvetty green fields of Bath County (which always remind me of Ireland), and into the mountains of Rowan, Carter, and Greenup counties. We ventured off I64 and onto KY67 which took us over to US23 in Greenup County. Our first destination was a rally held at the Raceland/Worthington High School Auditorium in southern Greenup County on the old US23, called Greenup Avenue at that point.

Although six governor were supposed to have appeared, only four actually did. Kentucky governors Julian Carroll ('74-'79), John Young Brown ('79-'83), Brereton Jones ('91-'95), and Paul Patton ('95-'03) sat to the right side of the stage and each gave a speech, and amazingly they weren't all the same speech. Governor Brown touted the accomplishments of his administration, as well as those of his father and son, both of whom have served in elective office. [An aside, I remember old Mr. Brown from his race for Congress in the 1980s - I think he ran 10th. And I signed the filing papers for John the III in his race for Secretary of State in 1995]. Governor Jones was next who gave a speech appropriate for a horseman supporting a horsewoman in her bid for office. This race has a lot to do with passage of slots at racetracks around the Commonwealth, although none of those tracks are in the 18th Senate District. Governor Carroll, who now serves in the Senate, got up and said he was going to do something different, then proceeded to do what he usually does - he preached. He called it testifying. He may as well have been in a pulpit. But, he closed his sermonette by saying that the pulpit was no place for politics. For a conservative Democrat, he gave a very liberal sounding speech on the separation of church and state. Knowing that other than Lisa Tanner, I was probably the most liberal guy in the room, I was concerned on what he might have to say. As it turned out, I was about ready to yell, "Give 'em Hell Julian" as I wholly approved of his overtly religious and political message. Closing the quartet was Governor Paul Patton, the only one who is a native of the District, being originally from adjoining Lawrence County. Patton talked about the historic opportunity the voters in the 18th District have and one they should take very seriously on Tuesday the 25th which is Election Day.

The candidate herself then appeared and gave a lengthy and sometimes emotional speech giving encouragement to those in the room that now was the time to help change the State Senate and by doing so changing the Commonwealth. Governor Carroll then came back to mic to give us the charge of working the next four days to ensure a victory in the race. Onward Christians Soldiers, Marching As To War indeed.

Montero and I then travelled a few miles north (downriver) to Robin's HQ in downtown Greenup city, a sleepy little courthouse town on the banks of the O-Hi-O. We were given a precinct to walk several miles further north in the community of South Shore, which also lay along the O-Hi-O. South Shore is a gritty little burg of maybe 900 souls, most of whom vote Republican on federal races and Democrat on local ones - like so many other Kentuckians. The polling place for the Fullerton #1 precinct we were walking is the Youth Center of the First Church of God on Main Street. And the truth is, the polling place is within walking distance of most of the 900 people who make up the little town. We had split the precinct up with two other groups and knocking it out didn't take much. Hopefully, more than a handful of these folks will go vote on Tuesday.

Special Elections are notorious for low turnouts. As such, they are very unpredictable - they can go either way. Thus the importance of touching every voter possible, and the more times the better as the election approaches. My young friend Chad Aull (who will likely be a statewide candidate himself someday and one I will support) is running the campaign from Grayson in Carter County. Lisa Tanner, from here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 is up there coordinating the GOTV effort. Their work should be success.

After walking our assigned precinct, we reverted to tourists, travelling back down (south) on US23 and crossing over the O-Hi-O into the state of O-Hi-O at the city of Ironton, Ohio. Ironton is an old long drawn-out affair of a rust-belt town on the riverbank which appears to have had somewhat better days many days ago - maybe. On the Ohio side of the river, we followed US52 East (actually south) out of Ohio, back across the Ohio, and into Huntington, West Virginia, just to say we did. Now headed west on US60 in W. Huntington, we came into the town of Ceredo, where US60 is called "C" Street, and from there into Kenova - Ken-O-Va , get it - where US60 runs along Oak Street. Eventually we crossed out of West Virginia, over the Big Sandy River, and into Catlettsburg, Kentucky at 35th and Louisa streets. A short drive south on Louisa returned us to I64, which in turn returned us to Louisville.

Good luck to Robin on her election on the 25th. Polls are open from 6am to 6pm.

Vote early; vote often.

523. Political Roadtrip

Making a small journey across to the northeastern side of Kentucky, a side I'm not familiar with. In checking my list, the last time I was in Greenup County (as well as Elliott County) was the summer of 1987, campaigning for then-gubernatiorial candidate Wallace Wilkinson. We won.

Today me and a friend are headed to Raceland High School in Greenup County for a rally, then to Carter County to walk a precinct. All this is for Robin Webb, a candidate for the 18th District Senate seat which will be decided in a Special Election on Tuesday. Robin and I are the same age and we've known each other for 3/5ths of our respective lives. A long time ago, when we were both young Democrats, we were members of the Kentucky Young Democrats. Now we're just young at heart Democrats.

She is currently a member of Kentucky's House of Representatives and is seeking to move to the so-called Upper House which meets at the opposite end of the capital in Frankfort. We need her and a few other Democrats in that chamber, presently lorded over and controlled by Republican Senator David Williams, known not so affectionately as the Bully from Burkesville.

Just as the last entry talked about change in the country, we also need change in our Commonwealth - on so many levels. One place to start is the General Assembly. One day to start is Tuesday.

You can visit Robin's webpage at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

522. Barry, We Won.

I'm a little upset with my president. And, let's be honest, I like my president a lot. But I don't like this backpeddling and reconciliation over healthcare. I voted for Obama in 2008 for the same reason I voted for John Yarmuth in 2006 - I voted for Change. One of the things that needs changing, perhaps the greatest one once we put the Civil War behind us, is fixing healthcare. I support single payer, I support HR676. I expect my congressman and my president to do the same. After all, we control the Senate, we control the House, and a 48 year old skinny black man with a funny name lives with his wife and children at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW as the CEO of our Republic.

Barry, we won. Press on.

Monday, August 17, 2009

521. Hawpe's Departure

David Hawpe is one of my favorite writers. Yesterday the Courier-Journal published one last piece of wisdom from one of the last pieces of wisdomhood the place yet holds. In it he writes of coming to the C-J building as a kid to be on the old Hayloft Hoedown, a locally produced show from a bygone era of local television. I can relate. I went to the same building (or maybe to the new WHAS building on Chestnut Street) as a kid celebrating my birthday with Randy and Cactus on T-Bar-V Ranchtime nearly a generation later in the waning days of the related program.

David is an unabashed liberal with enough true grit from places like Powell Avenue in Louisville to working the old Hazard bureau of the Courier-Journal, back in the "Once Great" days of a paper that is no more. Hawpe's charges and challenges have been insightful, engaging, and last but certainly not least, entertaining. He is one of the last vestiges of the heralded paper formerly owned by three different generations of the Bingham family, Louisville's closest candidate as a royal family.

I do not personally know Mr. Hawpe, although we have met on several occasions. We've also exchanged emails from time-to-time, as I know he has done with my father more than once. My emails were generally supportive; those of my father's certainly were not. In 2002 Hawpe sat across the large interview table from me, along with three others in the editorial department and four other candidates, when I ran for Metro Council. When the discussion came to how each of us felt about Merger, Mr. Hawpe allowed that they already knew where I stood and had copies of my several letters in opposition to that move, including one called "Assimilation, Not Merger." Someday I will reprint it here; it had a certain prescience which can be appreciated now these seven years later. But, I digress.

A few weeks ago when his retirement was leaked out, I sent him a congratulatory note. I wish him well. Our city, state, and region has been well served by him as it once was well served by his former employer.

Thanks, Mr. Hawpe. Happy Trails, my friend.

Friday, August 14, 2009

520. Name Badges

I've never been much for name badges. For whatever reason, they've always made me a little uncomfortable. They are a sort of advertising and, despite my political involvement, advertising is not something I like at all. And I find them ostentatious if nothing else, as if to say "lookee here, see who I am." That's just not something I like to do. As many of you know, at most any given event, I can be found, whether it be a political assembly, a classroom, restaurant, or church, in the back of the room - and fairly close to an escape route - a door.

From such a vantage point, all the intracacies of the social networking of a gathering can be viewed and judged - or not, depending on one's frame of mind. If I want to know who someone is, I have two choices. Ask around or ask the person themself. That is one place name badges make for awkwardness. Let us suppose you are in a room and there is a person of interest to you. It feels kind of odd walking up to them, peering at their name badge, then saying, "oh, so you are Joe So-and-So!" Well, of course they are, that's what their badge says. It just seems silly to me.

Over the years, there have been many occasions where I've been requested to don a name badge, but quite a bit fewer where I've actually done so. Particularly at political events - fundraisers for certain - everyone is asked to put a little badge on, usually trimmed in red or blue, telling everyone who you are. Sometimes you get one color or another to distinguish you as a member of one group from someone with another color who, ergo, belongs to a different group. Only the organizers know that the red-badged people must be talked to while the blue-badged people may be as they are optional - or vice versa.

After avoiding wearing any badges for seven years (when I last ran for public office), this year I've found myself with three. One of those identifies me as Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club. They [those amazing people who are in every group] want us to wear the badges during the meeting so people will know who we are. Anyone who has attended a Metro Democratic Club meeting for last several years can easily pick me out. I'm the guy off to the side with the checkbook, the receipt book, and the membership forms. It would appear that I am the treasurer, but I should wear my badge to put aside all doubt. I must remember to wear it to our next meeting on August 26th.

Upon my arrival in January as a staff member at the Louisville Metro Council, something I addressed in an entry about that time, to serve as a Legislative Aide to Councilman Brent Ackerson, Democrat of the 26th District, I was presented with a badge telling me and whoever else wished to read it that, indeed, I was the Legislative Aide to Councilman Brent Ackerson. Councilman Ackerson, Brent the Democrat as opposed to Councilman Ackerson, Jon the Republican, has requested that I wear it at events out in the district, a not-too-unreasonable request given that I am fairly new to that area of town. So it is that I can be seen from time-to-time with the Metro Council badge. Incidentally, the Metro Council badge looks remarkably like the Metro Democratic Club badge, the former including my middle initial, the latter without it. Both are gold badges with black lettering and each includes in some form a Fleur De Lis, the official symbol and flower of our government here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

Recently, as in a few days ago, I received a badge in the mail from the Kentucky Democratic Party. This one can be used to identify me as a State-At-Large member of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, a position I hold by virtue of a series of events last summer which began with my alleged election as a 3rd District Committeeman. This badge I will definitely wear at the next State Central Committee meeting in the hopes that the new chair of the Party, Chairman Moore, will have something more than "hello" to say to me. Certainly his predecessor, Chairwoman Moore, had a lot to say to me. There are reasons I want the Chair to know who I am when I am speaking. Some of you may recall that much of my interest in serving on the Committee was to address some weaknesses in the state Party By-Laws, weaknesses I sought (unsuccessfully) to change in my previous term, and for which I ran again so as to address them again. Maybe if the Chair knows it is me speaking, he will hear me out. Or then again, maybe I'll just leave the badge at home and act like I'm somebody else. I might have a better chance that way.

Thanks for reading. If I were to be wearing a badge right now, it would read "Jeff Noble, Blogger, Louisville, Kentucky."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

519. Our Place In The Sun

My last entry mentioned two very different places within our Republic, New York City and Alaska. Often when I mention places like that, visitors will show up from those locales to see what I was saying about their fair city, state, or nation. From time to time, I check my list of visitors to see who they are, where they are, and what they are reading here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I've reported on these before, but it has been a long time since doing so.

To my surprise, no one from either place stopped by for a look-see. Although my readership is very small compared to some other local blogs, I can usually count on such a visit. What I did find were the cities, towns, and villages of some recent visitors, with a few new places I've never noticed before.

Among the last 100 visitors came folks from Sycamore, FL; Calvert City, KY; Howell, NJ; and Lees Summit, MO. Also, some place called Tunnelton, WV which lists as the service provider the West Virginia Educational Network and Seattle, WA, listing showing the provider as the University of Washington. I visited their webpage which is, for the time being, boasting that researchers from that school have determined that comets hitting the earth are very likely not the cause of our planet's previous mass extinctions. Yet another theory I was taught in school debunked. What's next - that Utica, Kentucky isn't the center of social activity as I learned from a dormmate my freshman year of college? But, I digress.

I had visitors from five foreign countries although one of those entries comes with an asterisk. Whenever Waterloo, Ontario shows up in my list, it is invariably a particular friend of mine in Washington, DC checking a blackberry. Whether this visit was that person or not I do not know. But I have tested that hypothesis and proven it to be true. Other foreigners have arrived from Herzberg, GERMANY; Dubai, UAR; Theux Liege, BELGIUM (twice); and Casablanca, MOROCCO. My Casablanca reader linked to my comments on the passing of Michael Jackson. Whoever it was, "here's looking at you, kid!"

Finally, back here at home, a comment on our place it the sun, literally. If you went outside today, you felt it - that is the sun. For the first time in forty-four days, Louisville's temperature made it into the 90s, something it didn't do for entire month of July, the first July on record that went 90-less. Earlier today the high reached 91, four degrees above the average high temperature of 87. The low this morning was 73, also four degrees higher than normal. The record high for this date was two years ago when the temperature was 102. The record low was 53 in 1989.

Let's hope this upcoming week is less eventful, at least weatherwise, than the previous one.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

518. Tough or Nuts?

The picture above is of Jack Conway, my friend and Kentucky's attorney general. It was taken with the Columbia University College Democrats in New York City. In the picture he seems like a normal-enough guy. I've hesitated to join in the chorus of people who've questioned Jack's self-identifying language at last week's Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County. I've known Jack since we were introduced by Denis Fleming one morning at Lynn's Paradise Cafe on Barret Avenue back in 1996. I've always supported Jack in his campaigns and this year is no different. And over the years, I've called him a few names here and there but I've never called him a tough son-of-a-bitch. That's just never been my interpretation of Jack Conway. So I was going to say something.

Then, yesterday, I saw former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the TV set talking about President Obama having "death panels" to deal with healthcare and I realized that it must be ok for Jack to call himself a tough son-of-a-bitch, even if most of us have never thought of him that way. At least he isn't plain fucking nuts like Governor Palin.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

517. Who's afraid of a little rain?

We didn't have a little rain. We had six inches in seventy-five minutes, bringing massive flooding to nearly all parts of the city and county. I've been told southwest Jefferson was spared. West Louisville, Old Louisville, and downtown seemed to have been hit the hardest, but all parts were hit hard. The picture at left shows the height of the water on 4th Street at the Main Library. That's two bookmobiles mostly submerged, along with one car to the left completely submerged. The Library's lower level, housing tens of thousands of books, suffered great damage.

My damage was less. It was a loss of books, an antique chair which belonged to my grandmother's aunt, a table, and some incidental stuff sitting on the floor in the garage. Based on the water lines on the wall, the water there rose sixteen inches. In the cellar of the house, the damage was more severe, at least as far as cost. The water heater is messed up but fixable. The furnace is messed up and apparently not fixable. Down there the water apparently rose to thirty inches.

Then there was the attempted drive into work. As a habit, I drive in along Witherspoon Street, which is two block closer to the river, and thus downhill, than my street. But there are a few dips along N. Shelby Street along the way which in dry weather aren't really noticeable. I drove through one of them realizing about 1/3 the way through that my little low-lying Chevy Aveo probably wasn't designed for water-bogging. Emerging on the other side of that little dip it then dawned on me all the water was headed, along with me, downhill to Witherspoon Street. I got as close as I could, which is to say close enough to see Witherspoon Street had become Witherspoon River. I turned around and tried to go back the way I came. The water had risen and my access across "the little dip" was no more. I cut through the Allied Concrete company lot over to N. Campbell Street hoping to somehow go south instead of north. To no avail. I sat at the intersection of N. Campbell and Water streets for about forty-five minutes, watching the water rising all around, although I was perched on a slight rise and did not feel to be in danger.

The problem is I am very claustrophobic. While the interior of my Aveo is much larger than you might imagine from a little puddle-jumper of a car, there was to be no puddle-jumping today as the water on all sides continued to rise with me on an little island in the midst. In all my years of driving, I don't ever remembering panicking. I've driven in some odd and rough places, and more than a few tough places, but I've never panicked. I like to think I've never been lost, although my mother would argue that point due to a drive one day in northern Garrard County. Never lost, and never before scared. But I recognised that I was about to be so, scared, but not lost as I was sitting there within 500 feet of my home. I could see my towering Locust tree, the highest tree in Butchertown. But I could not have walked there if I wanted, and I wanted. I could feel the effects of claustrophobia.

I decided to drive down the sidewalk on the east side of Campbell, alongside an industrial building. The Aveo might be big-inside, but it is still a puddle-jumper, or in this case, not much wide than a little red wagon on the sidewalk. I made it along the building, coming down off the curb onto Geiger Street thus avoiding the panic that I came very close to not-thus-avoiding.

You always hear the warnings about not driving into rushing/running waters, as they are always deeper than you think. I now know exactly where, within 500 feet of my house, those waters can absolutely run deep.

Monday, August 3, 2009

516. Briefly . . . .

Very briefly:

The ennui has passed.

I've penned another entry but am having second thoughts about posting it.

Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" plays a part of the entry I've written but not posted.

I'm still for Jack Conway despite the abovementioned tune going through my head over and over.

I'm glad I didn't go to Fancy Farm; I might have said something.

Stay tuned.

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.