Wednesday, January 27, 2010

592. Obama

I'm starting this post at 11:20 pm which is well past my bedtime. It isn't always that a powerful forty-eight year old mixed race intellectual native Hawaiian male keeps me up to this hour, but it was worth it.

Earlier this afternoon I received in my email a survey from the ACLU, one of several organizations which I have tried to regularly support over the years. (Full disclosure - I haven't renewed for this year but will this weekend). The survey asked six questions on rating the president's first year in office. I did not give him the best of grades. I gave him a fair on one, poor on four, and no comment on the final question.

After tonight's speech, I am at least a little more hopeful that the second year will be better than the first. Of course, that wouldn't take a hell of a lot of work - the first one has been relatively disastrous.

In tonight's State of the Union address, the president properly pointed out that his part of the problem is but one year of a bad nine year cycle. He pointed out where the surplus was in 2000 and where the deficit was in 2009 at his inauguration. He did not have to state the obvious - George W. Bush was the 44th best president the Republic had ever endured. He led us into two wars, lowered taxes in a time of economic uncertainty, provided less and less regulation to the markets, and more and more tax breaks to the rich. The Federal economy all but failed and led to a failing response around the world. Amazing how one man and his political party's beliefs could nearly bring down the most advanced society on the planet in history. But, it happened.

The good news is we have lived through it. But we are not out of the tunnel and in-house (or in-Republic) politics is not making it easier. The president boldly (and historically) called out the very partisan 5-4 United States Supreme Court on their decision last week to allow foreign corporations the unbridled ability to take over our political system through an influx of dollars. He boldly pointed out that the bullies on the right side of aisle were just that - bullies whose lack of patriotism has been and will continue to destroy our country simply because they aren't in charge. And Mitch McConnell smiled and giggled. What a jerk. [I seriously considered dropping the f-bomb in that last sentence right before the word jerk].

The president offered several conservative markers by which his first year could be defined - tax cuts, help for businesses large and small, and proposed new investments in nuclear power, clean coal, and offshore drilling. And the Republicans in the House chamber responded without applause and instead offered hushed occasional sneers, again led by Mitch. They are embarassing. The current Republican Party is the most antithetical, unpatriotic gathering of men and women ever assembled as members of Congress. Most of them should be tried for treason.

As I stated at the top of the post, I am not happy with the lack of progress the president made in his first year. I'm greatly disappointed. And I do not place the entire blame on Senator McConnell and his group of schoolhouse bullies whose favorite word seems to be no. Blame can be rightfully shared with the president and Rahm Emanuel, and more rightfully shared by Harry Reid and the less-than-willing group of Sixty (until last week) that he led less-than-successfully during the past year. The one group in Washington which seems to be doing the people's business is the United States House of Representatives. Good for them.

The president's message tonight offered some renewed hope for 2010 - hope badly needed. He himself must get the work and hope started - by Executive Order if necessary, and he issued one within the context of his speech.

In the end, he closed by borrowing - if only briefly - from Teddy Kennedy's 1980 speech at the Democratic National Convention. On August 12, 1980, the late senator closed his address with "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Tonight the president closed with the phrase "We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more."

Hope Springs Eternal.

Thanks Be To God.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

591. Religious wandering at an end

My Six Faithful Readers, and perhaps a few others of you, will know that for many years, about six and half, I've been betwixt and between church homes. Sometime in the summer of 2003, I conscientiously made a decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church and see if God would call me into a new church home or if I'd be left wandering in the wilderness for the last forty years of my life, as, apparently, he allowed some of his earlier followers to do, notably Moses.

It has been an interesting and educational journey. Almost all of it was spent in other churches here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I wandered in and out of a few other Catholic churches. St. Boniface is an historic old church downtown in the Clarksdale neighborhood. I have worshipped there in the past at noontime. St. Williams at 13th and Oak streets is a far-left version of the Catholic church, so far left that I wasn't sure what denomination it was. I went a few times to a mega-church in northern Bullitt County, Little Flock Baptist, just to see if there was any appeal - either to a Baptist church (since I had belonged to one as a teenager) or to a mega-church. Neither aspect worked. Certain friends recommended the United Church of Christ, long before anyone knew that was the denomination to which a little-known-at-the-time Illinois State Senator named Barack Obama belonged. St. John's United Church of Christ, downtown on E. Market Street, is a beautiful old cathedral looking building and I did enjoy my visits there.

But one of my strong beliefs is the idea known in some churches as Apostolic Succession, which is the continuation of an earlier bishop laying his (and now her) hands on ordaining the next generation of bishops, down through the ages, to the current time. Such a belief pretty much tied me to the Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican churches. The truth is it is unclear if such a succession is true all the way back to Jesus' turning over the keys to the church to Peter, as written in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Chapter 16, Verses 18 and 19. There does seem to be an unbroken and verifiable line since the 4th century, which is a pretty long time. If tradition holds that it has been thus for seventeen centuries, I can accept on faith that it was also thus for the first four.

So my guidelines were narrowed by this requirement. I had visited three different Episcopal churches - as the Anglican church in America is called - during my wandering: Calvary on 4th Street, Christ Church Cathedral downtown on 2nd Street, and Advent on Baxter Avenue at the top of Broadway. The Cathedral has been modernised in much the same way as the Catholic Cathderal on 5th Street has. Calvary remains a very traditional looking church. It is located in the immediate area of the very small Spalding University, my collegiate alma mater, and I visited there several times and had friends who were members there. But it was my visits to Advent which got my attention. The first visit was in 2004.

Advent is a very small parish in a very old church, perched at the top of the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood, adjacent to the Original Highlands, and on the very eastern edge of what one might call downtown. It is pictured below. It has also been a struggling parish on the brink of closing a few times. In my visits there, the people were always cordial and welcoming. I guess when there are only twenty-five or so at a Mass, the sight of a new face got their attention. They went through several interim rectors while I was going through several interim church homes. But I found myself always going back to that one little church where I felt welcomed and where I felt comfortable with an ancient style of worship, celebrating the Eucharist, listening to readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospels each and every Sunday. Sometime in very late 2008, I realized that this was a place I could worship not just as a visitor, but as a member. Last February, I requested to be included in whatever classes were necessary for membership and instruction. But even before my formal reception in the church, I have become an active participant. I've attended special services, participated in some outreach programs, bought a ticket to the big fundraiser (part of any church's calendar), and found myself in the rotation of reading the Prayers of the People, part of each Sunday's serivce.

Today, all the searching ends and, by an anceint and simple ceremony, I will be officially "received" into the Episcopal Church of the Advent by Bishop Ted Gulick, the Bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky. I will be joining four or five others who will become members in their own way, either "received" as I am, or confirmed. The service and mass is at 10:30 this morning with a reception to follow. I am pleased.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

590. Decisions, Decisions, and Decisions.

I've not written for a while. Much has changed. I've gotten older this week. No, I didn't have a birthday - that is in September - September 23rd for those who have their calendars handy. It is on a Thursday this year and I will, in fact, be getting older then. It will be my 50th. Damn.

Earlier this week, my little brother turned 48. That made me old enough. Tomorrow my mother will be 70. Seventy. That makes both of us older. Double Damn. My mother, who is probably my best friend and has been for most of my life, was born in Frankfort at the old Kings Daughters Hospital downtown on Steele Street, on January 22, 1940. She is the only child of her late parents, Vivian "Tommie" Lewis and Daniel Thomas Hockensmith. She lives in the house her father built in 1957 off South Park Road in southern Jefferson County, along with my ailing (but doing better) father (whom she divorced in 1964 but takes good care of him nonetheless) as well as my niece Lindsey, who helps a lot, and Lindsey's boyfriend Matt. That home has always housed a variety of relatives and would-be relatives, and including Dad, once-were relatives (at least in her book). So, tommorrow we celebrate. Happy 70th Mom.

But it is perilous times in which we are celebrating. A year ago I was celebrating in grand fashion with friends the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president. We travelled to the Federal city to enjoy the festivities, and we did have a great time. But the year has not been good in as many respects as one would like. We're still at war, something a lot of us thought we'd be getting out of. Instead we're just shifting over, albeit to a more logical foe, the Afghans. We've started and not finished more than a few legislative battles including the elephant in the room, health care. It will likely go unfinished now that the voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have deprived the Democrats of a magical 60th vote in the United States Senate. And, proving they are the strongest arm of the Republic, today the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote (sound familiar), has decided that corporations have First Amendments rights, including those involving donations to political campaigns. (A note here - unlike most of my liberal brethren, I have always sided with Mitch McConnell on this matter, known in legal circles as Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 case on the matter which was revisited in another case, McConnell v. FEC in 2003, and now this one, known as Citizens United v. FEC). With today's ruling, striking down parts of the McCain/Feingold law, we will return to the pre-Theodore Roosevelt/Bill Taft days of an America where unrestrained capitalism is king and absolute power will corrupt absolutely. It has not been a good week for the American Republic.

I had intended to go further here but I've just this moment received a text-message telling me of the passing of a family friend, "Aunt Rosie" Krill. Aunt Rosie wasn't my aunt - rather she was the aunt of my friend Sherry. My guess is Aunt Rosie is in her 90s. She was quite a character. Her brother, Pete Habeeb (also deceased), once operated the old Min's Cafe on Story Avenue. I worked for Pete as a night manager there in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Aunt Rosie worked many years at Min's. Her sons operate the Colonnade Restaurant here in town. I'll quit here. Rest In Peace Aunt Rosie. May your soul and the souls of all the departed Rest In Peace.

Thanks Be To God.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

589. Slow Getting Started

As some of you know, I have that map on my wall - the one of Kentucky -with counties outlined in red or green or black indicating my visits to a county in a given year. The 2009 map still hangs, as-yet-unreplaced by a 2010 map. Until last night, on the 15th of the month, I had not made it out of Jefferson County. Shame!

Fortunately, I had scheduled to have dinner with Chris Hartman last night. When making those plans, it was my intention to do so at Third Avenue Cafe in Old Louisville. However, he was in Frankfort (and remains so today) organizing a summit for people interested in the ACLU, the (Louisville) Fairness Campaign, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, the Lexington Fairness group, and the Human Relations Commission of Kentucky. They are meeting today, with approximately 100 registrants thus far, at the Paul Sawyier Library - actually the new Paul Sawyier Library - on Wapping Street in Frankfort. So I agreed to meet in Frankfort. Frankfort is one of my favorite places on the planet.

So, we were going to meet for a glass of wine at Capital Cellars, a wine bar/retail store at Broadway and Lewis Street. I've been meaning to go in there for some time as it is just a few doors over from my favorite Frankfort coffeeshop, the Kentucky Coffeetree Coffeeshop. Alas, the wine bar was packed in all corners and Chris had informed me he was bringing five friends to our little dinner.

We wandered across Broadway, which involves also crossing an R. J. Corman railroad line, the old line connecting Frankfort to Louisville and Lexington. Across the street is Gibby's, a bustling family restaurant which specializes in Italian food among other things. It, too, was packed, but we - the six of us - managed to squeeze into a booth designed for four. Well, five of them did. Being the oldest, I pulled rank and sat in a chair provided at the end of the booth.

After an hour and half dinner of spaghetti or chili or hotbrowns or the Fort Hill sandwich, we proceded over to the motel where most of the registrants for the summit appeared to be staying and put together informational booklets for today's session, something I'm not attending.

The point here is I finally got out of Jefferson County. Albeit, I only travelled the fifty-five miles up and down I-64, something I do on a very regular basis. But still it was liberating to get out of the home county for the first time in a new year. So, sometime next week I'll affix a new calendar to the wall in my office and file away the old one with all the others. And in a heavy line I will outline the counties of Jefferson, Shelby, and Franklin, thus beginning the 32nd year of such records.

Thanks Be To God.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

588. An Ethics Discussion

The Metro Democratic Club, Louisville's largest Democratic club, will meet tonight, its regular meeting night, for a discussion of Ethics. Specifically, two Democratic members of the Louisville Metro Council, Councilwoman Marianne Butler and Councilman Brent Ackerson (who is my boss) will be addressing the club on the Ethics proposals before the Metro Council for consideration. You will note I used the word proposals as there are two. One is sponsored by Republican Councilman Ken Fleming and probably has the support of 9 of the 10 Republicans on the Council. The other is co-sponsored by Councilwoman Butler and Councilman Jon Ackerson, the latter of whom is a Republican (and father of the Democratic councilman Brent Ackerson). The latter ordinance is probably supported by the 15 Democrats, the Democratic Councilman Ackerson and the Republican Councilman Ackerson. The discussion will center on where the council is on resolving the differences between the two proposed ordinances and when we can expect passage. This should make for an interesting evening.

The club meets at the American Legion Hall on Bardstown Road, three blocks north of the Watterson. Doors open at 6, discussion begins at 6:30.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Night Fun with Kentucky's Counties. "And then there were 55."

During most every session of the General Assembly, someone laments the fact that Kentucky has 120 counties, although we can only afford about 75 of them. Commissions are formed, arguments are made, and nothing ever happens - and nothing ever will. Over time, I've often thought about how I would arrange the counties if given the chance. Since I'm never going to be given the chance - and it is my blog, I have, here below, came up with a list of Kentucky's new arrangement of counties, a total of 55 counties of varying shapes and sizes. I've tried to accomodate geographical similarities as well as transportation alignments. I've ignored politics.

It isn't all pretty - there are two in particular which I do not care for, but they went where they could only go. I've also proposed which present county seats would remain as the county seats in the newly formed counties. In that regard, I've moved two county seats altogether (marked with an (*) in the lists below) for reasons which make sense if you look at them on a map. (For the record, I've kept Eddyville as a county seat which means, that if my plan were approved, this new county would be the fourth different county Eddyville has served as the seat of government).

I've also applied new names altogether to most of the new counties. There are a few names I'm not happy with but I've done the best I can. So listed below are my 55 counties, some of which you'll recognise since they aren't changed from the present. These tend to be the population centers. There are fourteen of them. At the end, the new counties are listed alphabetically (along with their proposed county seats), since that is the way most of us are used to seeing them.

It is all fantasy. Do you think Georgia or Texas ever worry about their number of counties? Let me know what you think.


1. Mississippi County: composed of the former counties of Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, and Hickman, named for the Mississippi River. County Seat: Wickliffe.
2. McCracken County: unchanged. County Seat: Paducah.
3. Mayfield County: composed of the former counties of Calloway and Graves, named for Mayfield Creek. County Seat: Mayfield.
4. Grand Rivers County: composed of the former counties of Livingston and Marshall, named for the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. County Seat: Benton.
5. Barkley County: composed of the former counties of Caldwell, Lyon, and Trigg, named for former Vice President Alben Barkley. County Seat: Eddyville.
6. Tradewater County: composed of the former counties of Crittenden, Union, and Webster. County Seat: Morganfield.
7. Henderson County: unchanged. County Seat: Henderson.
8. Daviess County: unchanged. County Seat: Owensboro.
9. Pond River County: composed of the former counties of Hopkins and McLean, named for the Pond River. County Seat: Madisonville.
10. Christian County: unchanged. County Seat: Hopkinsville.
11. Jefferson Davis County: composed of the former counties of Logan and Todd, named for Jefferson Davis. County Seat: Russellville.
12. Paradise County: composed of the former counties of Muhlenberg and Ohio, named for the town on the Green River. County Seat: Greenville.
13. Warren County: unchanged. County Seat: Bowling Green.
14. Three Rivers County: composed of the former counties of Butler, Edmonson, and Grayson, named for the Green, Nolin, and Rough rivers. County Seat: Leitchfield.
15. Breckinridge County: composed of the former counties of Breckinridge, Hancock, and Meade, named for the historic Breckinridge family in Kentucky. County Seat: Hardinsburg.
16. Tennessee County: composed of the former counties of Allen, Monroe, and Simpson, named for the bordering state. County Seat: Scottsville.
17. Barren County: composed of the former counties of Barren and Metcalfe, named for the former Barren County. County Seat: Glasgow.
18. Hardin County: unchanged. County Seat: Elizabethtown.
19. Salt River County: composed of the former counties of Bullitt and Spencer, named for the Salt River. County Seat: Mount Washington (*)
20. Jefferson County: unchanged. County Seat: Louisville.
21. Abraham Lincoln County: composed of the former counties of Hart and Larue, named for President Abraham Lincoln. County Seat: Munfordville.
22. Nelson County: unchanged. County Seat: Bardstown.
23. Isaac Shelby County: composed of the former counties of Henry and Shelby, named for Governor Isaac Shelby. County Seat: Shelbyville.
24. Oldham County: composed of the former counties of Oldham and Trimble. County Seat: LaGrange.
25. Franklin County: composed of the former counties of Anderson and Franklin. County Seat: Frankfort.
26. Eagle County: composed of the former counties of Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, and Owen. County Seat: Owenton.
27. Boone County: unchanged. County Seat: Burlington.
28. Kenton County: unchanged. County Seat: Independence.
29. Campbell County: unchanged. County Seat: Alexandria.
30. Green River County: composed of the former counties of Adair, Green, and Taylor. County Seat: Campbellsville.
31. Washington County: composed of the former counties of Marion and Washington, named for President George Washington. County Seat: Springfield.
32. Kentucky County: composed of the former counties of Boyle and Mercer, named for the roles Harrodsburg and Danville played in the founding of the county and later state of Kentucky. County Seat: Harrodsburg.
33. Fayette County: unchanged. County Seat: Lexington.
34. Herrington County: composed of the former counties of Garrard and Jessamine, named for Herrington Lake. County Seat: Lancaster.
35. Midway County: composed of the former counties of Scott and Woodford, named for the community of Midway. County Seat: Georgetown.
36. Kincaid County: composed of the former counties of Bracken, Pendleton, and Robertson, named for Kincaid Lake. County Seat: Falmouth
37. Hinkston County: composed of the former counties of Bourbon, Harrison, and Nicholas, named for Hinkston Creek. County Seat: Cynthiana.
38. Cumberland River County: composed of the former counties of Clinton, Cumberland, and Wayne, named for the Cumberland River. County Seat: Monticello.
39. Lake Cumberland County: composed of the former counties of Pulaski and Russell, named for Lake Cumberland. County Seat: Somerset.
40. William Whitley County: composed of the former counties of Casey, Lincoln, and Rockcastle, named for pioneer William Whitley. County Seat: Crab Orchard (*)
41. Boonesborough County: composed of the former counties of Estill and Madison, named for the pioneer Fort Boonesborough. County Seat: Richmond.
42. Cumberland Falls County: composed of the former counties of Knox, McCreary, and Whitley, named for the Cumberland Falls. County Seat: Williamsburg.
43. Wilderness County: composed of the former counties of Clay, Jackson, Laurel, and Owsley, named for the Wilderness Road. County Seat: London.
44. George Rogers Clark County: composed of the former counties of Clark and Montgomery. County Seat: Winchester.
45. Limestone County: composed of the former counties of Bath, Fleming, and Mason, named for the historic name of Maysville. County Seat: Flemingsburg.
46. Natural Bridge County: composed of the former counties of Lee, Menifee, Powell, and Wolfe, named for the geological formation. County Seat: Campton.
47. Tygarts County: composed of the former counties of Carter, Greenup, and Lewis, named for Tygarts Creek. County Seat: Grayson.
48. Pike County: unchanged. County Seat: Pikeville.
49. Pine Mountain County: composed of the former counties of Bell, Harlan, and Leslie, named for the mountain ridge. County Seat: Harlan.
50. Breathitt County: composed of the former counties of Breathitt and Perry, named for the historic Breathitt family. County Seat: Hazard
51. Carr Creek County: composed of the former counties of Knott and Letcher, named for Carr Creek. County Seat: Whitesburg.
52. Floyd County: composed of the former counties of Floyd and Magoffin. County Seat: Prestonsburg.
53. Boyd County: unchanged. County Seat: Catlettsburg.
54. Big Sandy County: composed of the former counties of Johnson, Martin, and Lawrence, named for the Big Sandy River. County Seat: Paintsville.
55. Cave Run County: composed of the former counties of Elliott, Morgan, and Rowan, named for the Cave Run Lake. County Seat: Sandy Hook.

1 Abraham Lincoln County, Munfordville
2 Barkley County, Eddyville
3 Barren County, Glasgow
4 Big Sandy County, Paintsville
5 Boone County, Burlington (unchanged)
6 Boonesborough County, Richmond
7 Boyd County, Catlettsburg (unchanged)
8 Breathitt County, Hazard
9 Breckinridge County, Hardinsburg
10 Campbell County, Newport (unchanged)
11 Carr Creek County, Whitesburg
12 Cave Run County, Sandy Hook
13 Christian County, Hopkinsville (unchanged)
14 Cumberland Falls County, Williamsburg
15 Cumberland River County, Monticello
16 Daviess County, Owensboro (unchanged)
17 Eagle County, Owenton
18 Fayette County, Lexington (unchanged)
19 Floyd County, Prestonsburg
20 Franklin County, Frankfort
21 George Rogers Clark County, Winchester
22 Grand Rivers County, Benton
23 Green River County, Campbellsville
24 Hardin Coumty, Elizabethtown (unchanged)
25 Henderson County, Henderson (unchanged)
26 Herrington County, Lancaster
27 Hinkston County, Cynthiana
28 Isaac Shelby County, Shelbyville
29 Jefferson County, Louisville (unchanged)
30 Jefferson Davis County, Russellville
31 Kenton County, Independence (unchanged)
32 Kentucky County, Harrodsburg
33 Kinkaid County, Falmouth
34 Lake Cumberland County, Somerset
35 Limestone County, Flemingsburg
36 Mayfield County, Mayfield
37 McCracken County, Paducah (unchanged)
38 Midway County, Georgetown
39 Mississippi County, Wickliffe
40 Natural Bridge County, Campton
41 Nelson County, Bardstown (unchanged)
42 Paradise County, Greenville
43 Pike County, Pikeville (unchanged)
44 Pine Mountain County, Harlan
45 Pond River County, Madisonville
46 Oldham County, La Grange
47 Salt River County, Mount Washington (*)
48 Tennessee County, Scottsville
49 Three Rivers County, Leitchfield
50 Tradewater County, Morganfield
51 Tygarts County, Grayson
52 Warren County, Bowling Green (unchanged)
53 Washington County, Springfield
54 Wilderness County, London
55 William Whitley County, Crab Orchard (*)

[The blog was edited on 02/13/2012 to add the map which was designed by Michael Garton. I am very happy he took the time to do this.]

586. Sarah

Sarah. You remember her - she used to be John McCain's running mate; she also used to be governor of Alaska; and, Levi Johnston's girlfriend's mother. Now she is coming to Kentucky - to Louisville no less to some affair at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which, like Louisville's once great newspaper, is only a shadow of its former role as being predominant in its field.

Former Governor Palin is coming to town on April 16th. Interesting date. April 16th happens to be the last day of the next reporting period for Kentucky candidates to file reports with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. They are due at 11:59 pm that night.

My guess is one or another of the local and state Republican candidates will make an attempt to capitalise (in more ways than one) on the former governor's appearance here in the Commonwealth. There seems to be a civil war of sorts going on on that side of the political aisle. Both Bill Johnson and Rand Paul claim to be the "real" conservative in the race - which means both are claiming that not only is the other an imposter, but that Trey Grayson isn't even being considered as a part of the scenario in "who can out-conservative the other" when it comes to being a good Kentucky Republican. Locally, the person who would have most likely called on the former governor for some credibility-cash, Marilyn Parker, recently withdrew from her quixotic race against Congressman Yarmuth. Maybe Chris Theinemann sees an opening here - who knows.

I just don't think the former governor coming to town on what happens to be the last day of a reporting period is a coincidence. In politics, nothing is coincidental. Some things are mistakes, but most things are as coordinated and choreographed as a well planned Loews and Lerner musical. I'm sure the former governor's visit will be a grand exercise in theater - and fundraising. Oh yeah, she's selling a book, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

585. Snow

I promised I'd comment on either the governor's State of the Commonwealth address or the weather. The weather is much more pleasant. Not pleasant in temperature, just subject matter.

My six faithful readers know that I like the snow. It is snowing now although the flakes are very powdery and I don't think we're going to see any epic snowfall. As is the norm, Jefferson County Public Schools remained opened while all our surrounding counties closed. We are getting just enough to empty the shelves at Kroger.

When I went early this morning to the store at Second and Breckinridge streets, there was no wheat bread, no skim milk, and no hamburger. So, I have white bread, 2% milk, and ground chuck instead. We'll have a hot time in the kitchen tonight cooking up a pot of chili - the one thing I know how to cook - that should last through the forecasted cold weather for the next few days.

One more note - my brother came over last night with a blowtorch and an aircompressor, and after some work in my cellar, restored running water to my house after a three day absence.

Life is good. Thanks Be To God.

[The picture at the top was taken this morning by Mike Slaton at Louisville's Joe Creason Park, on Trevilian way between Illinois Avenue and Newburg Road]

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

584. We're an incestuous bunch

So to speak.

I'm speaking of blogs and their readers. I'm both a blog writer and a blog reader. And like many of you, I jump from one blog to the next, coursing through about 20 different ones that I read most everyday. You may not read that many, but based on statistics gathered by my people-countering meters (shown in the right-side column), many of you come here from one blog and then leave here for another.

So it was yesterday when I had my highest page-visit number since right after Barack Obama's historic election and John Yarmuth's record-setting re-election in November 2008. Maybe it was the handsome photo of the Queen's grandson. Maybe not.

A total of 165 people stopped by the blog and at least 28 of them read more than one page. Honestly, as long as my six faithful readers keep reading, I'm happy. But, I'm glad to have the rest that came by yesterday. Hopefully, they (you) will come back. Today's posting is simply about the visits. Tomorrow's will probably be about snow - and maybe what the governor does or doesn't say tonight in his State of the Commonwealth address, likely to be an exercise is dark tragedy.

I must acknowledge the primary reason I got all the visitors yesterday. Jacob Payne, who writes PageOneKentucky, included a link to my blog in his morning posting, making reference to my entry on the lieutenant governor question. It was the very last bullet of his multi-bulleted entry which proves that people do in fact read all the way to the end. Or maybe they just read the first two or three and the last two or three. In any event, 87 of the 165 visits yesterday, came directly from PageOneKentucky and that link in his blog.

Among them were visits from Squier Knapp & Dunn Media in DC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bluegrass Healthcare Systems, three different state universities here in Kentucky, and more than a few people who work for an entity whose website ends in I had visits from some new places - Baltimore, MD; Dexter, MO; Memphis, TN; Labelle, FL; Medford, MA; Ogden, UT; and Bothell, WA. And, as I said, alot came over from one blog, then left to yet another blog. As I said, we can be very incestuous.

Monday, January 4, 2010

583. Who might be Kentucky's next Prince of Wales?

The current Prince of Wales is Charles, eldest son of the reiging Queen of England, Elizabeth II. Since 1301, that title has, for the most part, been bestowed on the "next in line" to the British throne. Great Britain's "next" Prince of Wales will presumably be the eldest son of Prince Charles, His Royal Highness Prince William (at right), who I understand goes by the nickname of Wills.

In Kentucky, we do not have "heirs to the throne." We do have lines of succession for our highest office, that of governor. Earlier today, blogger Jacob Payne posted an entry over at PageOneKentucky raising the question of who would succeed Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo should he be elected to the office of United States Senate, an office he is this year seeking for the second time. It is a purely academic question.

I'm not sure why Mr. Payne raises the question. He, like me, is supporting Jack Conway against the sitting lieutenant governor in that race and maybe he was trying to send up a warning flag - "if you elect Dan Mongiardo, Kentucky's Constitution says his successor as lieutenant governor will be David Williams." David Williams, the Republican state senator who serves as President of the State Senate, is generally regarded in very poor terms amongst Kentucky's Democrats and more than a few of Kentucky's Republicans. He isn't quite Darth Vader as former Vice President Big Dick Cheney has came to be known, but he is the greatest legislative stumbling block to Kentucky progress to be found anywhere in the Commonwealth. He (arguably) is a resident of Burkesville, Kentucky, an idyllic little town in a sweeping curve of the Cumberland River, in a county named for the river, at the intersection of KY61 and KY90. Mr. Payne correctly cites to two sections of Kentucky's adopted-in-1891 Constitution which might lead one to believe that Senator Willams could possibly become Lieutenant Governor Williams should Lieutenant Governor Mongiardo become United States Senator Mongiardo. Let me assure that while the second idea is a distinct possibility, the first is not.

Mr. Payne's posting offered me an opportunity to respond with a lesson on Kentucky's governors who have served without a lieutenant governor, and in doing so, answering Mr. Payne's purely academic question of who might be Kentucky's next Prince of Wales. I've copied below my response (which is of course my work) from Mr. Payne's blog. It is a short history lesson on vacancies in the office of Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. I'm sure this is something you may have learned in an 8th grade Core class in that section on Kentucky History. Hopefully, it answers the question Mr. Payne asks. My (corrected) response is:

Our state has not, to my knowledge, ever provided for the filling of the office of lieutenant governor should it become vacant, with the exception of one short period of time in 1834 and/or 1835.

I’m not sure why it happened then if indeed it actually did, but the person who is sometimes referred to as the lieutenant governor during that time, James Guthrie of Louisville (at left), was actually President of the State Senate. Nonetheless, his name sometimes appears as one of Kentucky’s lieutenant governors.

The last acknowleged “appointment” of a lieutenant governor (and as far as I can tell the only time such an event has happened) occurs after 1868 when John Larue Helm (for whom Larue County may have been named) died and Lt. Gov. John Stevenson succeeded to the governor’s office. Stevenson served almost the entire term without a lieutenant governor. In 1871, Stevenson was appointed to the U. S. Senate, leaving both top offices vacant. Preston Leslie (for whom Leslie County was named and who was later appointed the Territorial Governor of Montana), was already running for governor at the time, and was also the President of the Senate. Under the terms of the Constitution, just as you cite to above at Section 85 of the present Constitution, the President of the Senate does not succeed to the #2 spot, but rather in the absence of a #2, to the #1 spot. Leslie (above right) was then elected to a term in his own right.

Since that time, several men have served as governor during periods where there was no lieutenant governor. The most recent was in 1975. Governor Wendell Ford was elected to the United States Senate in the last year of his term and his lieutenant governor, Julian Carroll, served out the term without a lieutenant governor.

This same scenario was repeated in earlier times: in 1950-51 when Lawrence Wetherby (one of several Jefferson Countians to serve as governor) served out for the former governor/new senator Earle Clements; in 1939 it was Keen Johnson for A. B. “Happy” Chandler; in 1919 it was James Black for A. O. Stanley; and in 1900-01 it was J. C. W. Beckham for the assassinated (and perhaps questionably elected and seated) William Goebel, the only governor of any state ever assassinated.

All of these men ran for governor in the subsequently next election, and with the exception of Black, all were elected. Black lost to Ed Morrow.

So, we needn’t be concerned about who will be lieutenant governor should the current one get elected to the senate. If that happens, we should only worry about the current governor finishing the term so as to avoid the possibility of the Burkesville Bully ascending to the top spot.

There are lots of things to worry about in Frankfort these days. Who is in the succession line isn’t one of them.

Act IV

Today marks the Third Anniversary of the blog, meaning we are entering the fourth year of postings, page visits, and comments. Thus, Act IV. The blog was started on this date in 2007. This is the 582nd posting. According to the "Labels" section, 264 of these posts - or 45.36% - have related to politics or politicians, clearly the topic which holds much of my interest. But, as you know there are other interests - history, my home town of Louisville (the 42nd largest city in the Republic), travel, the weather, and people in general. As a writer, I enjoy covering all of these topics, often together. And the therapy is great.

It should prove to be an interesting year. In my own personal life, I'm finally - after a near-six year quest and struggle - moving my "letter" from one religious denomination to another, something I last did in 1979 when I was 18. I also have some plans to straighten out my home life and my home itself which is in dire need of a lot of work. Once the Primary is over, I plan a trip to Puerto Rico. I've actually already made some of the arrangements for that. Later in the summer, I hope to get back to Washington DC. At some point in 2010, I would like to see the Pacific Ocean, maybe from a dock in San Diego. And this is the year in which, God willing, I will celebrate my 50th birthday. I need to start doing things before I get older. That means 2010.

As stated, all this is after the Primary. Louisvillians tend to build their Spring/Summer plans around dates either before or after the Derby. Political hacks like me schedule things either after the Primary, before Fancy Farm, or after the November elections. Once you get into the habit, it is hard to get out of it. Speaking of Fancy Farm, I intend to return this year. The United States Senate races feature basically boring candidates on both sides of the aisle. We'll see how they handle Fancy Farm. The exceptions to the boring status are Rand Paul for the Republicans and Darlene Price for the Democrats. I've indicated in the past my support of Jack Conway, the current Attorney General. I hope he gives me some good reason for me to keep that support current - something he hasn't done of late. In any event, Fancy Farm will be a good time not because of this year's Senate race but because next year's elections are for the Statewide offices. Eyes and ears will be focussed on who might "primary" the governor, and of much greater interest, for what office will the very non-political, Republican, term-limited, Ag Commissioner Richie Farmer file in 2011? He could easily move into Trey Grayson's Secretary of State spot as Trey, too, is term-limited. But there is a widespread undercurrent that Richie - and let's face it, any politician who is immediately known simply by their first name is already in a good spot - will run for the top job - Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth. If so, his road to the Executive Mansion will likely start in Graves County the first Saturday in August. Again because of term limits, Democrats will have an opportunity to win back the Ag Comm seat as well as the Secretary of State position. And the Auditor's Office will be empty as well for the same reasons - term limits. A note here - Crit Luallen, the current Auditor, who I will admit I took some time warming up to, has been an exceptional State Auditor of Public Accounts. She should be looking higher. We'll see who has the biggest RVs and hospitality rooms down at Kentucky Dam Village on the Friday night before Fancy Farm on Saturday.

There is also a mayor's race here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I'm supporting and working for Greg Fischer. His Democratic opponents so far are Jim King and David Tandy, both members of the Metro Council, and Tyler Allen, a Louisville area businessman who has spearheaded the efforts against construction of a second downtown Interstate bridge, efforts I wholeheartedly support. My old friend Burrell Farmsley has also filed and he will be working his campaign by talking to voters in parts of town usually not reached by conventional methods. I know how Burrell works as we worked side-by-side on a special project during the '06 campaign for John Yarmuth. It is rumored a woman may enter the race as early as tomorrow. She has been on my radar screen for some time and I know she has spoken with people in recent days concerning a staffing-up should she decide to enter the race. I believe there is ample political capacity still out there for such a candidacy - perhaps even for two additional candidacies. All will have until the end of the month to file.

One seat being quietly vacated is that of the Jefferson County Judge/Executive, a post which since Merger (2003) has been sans potfolio. Ken Herndon is the two-term holder of that position, but he has said he will not seek reelection. Ken has quietly held the position as a courtesy to His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro as well as to the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party. He has stirred no waves in his administration of the office, a place where mischief could have easily been manufactured. The mayor has failed to ackowledge that service on the part of Mr. Herndon. Herndon has indicated he is abandoning the post in preparation for a second run for the Metro Council in 2012.

Aside from politics, somewhere in the next year will be roadtrips along Kentucky's backroads. I will make a point of getting to Lawrence and Elliott counties - that is for certain. I'll try to make a few Civil War reenactments as well. There are several all around the state, from Sacremento to Richmond to Munfordville to the big one - Perryville. And I will continue my genealogical research which usually yields answers to questions I've never raised and fails to respond to those I have. But, that makes it worthwhile.

So stick around. Keep visiting. 2010 will surely be better than 2009. Let's face it - for a lot of people 2009 was a disaster.

Thanks for reading.

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.