Friday, May 28, 2010

New #624. On The Road

I've been travelling a little and will be posting more upon my return. I've not yet graduated to the sophistication of making entries from the lowly telephone. I have learned how to take pictures with it, which I've been doing a lot of the last few days. With a little ingenuity, I'll get them from the little screen on the phone to the screen on your computer - but not tonight.

I've been on a several day tour now in its third day.

Day One took me across the Commonwealth from Louisville to Catlettsburg along I-64, noticing as I always do the especial beauty of Bath County whose hills are a different color green - a little lighter and brighter - than the rest of the countryside. It is something that has always appealed to my viewing interest. At US23, I exitted the roadway and drove north up to the city of Ashland with its downtown nestled along the main street, with short side streets emanating up into the hillsides built with big and little homes, and other streets reaching across the several-tracked CSX railroad yard and down to the Ohio River. I went as far as about 16th Street, then up the hill and a left to Lexington Avenue and alongside Central Park, and finally back south eventually to the interstate.

Crossing over into West Virginia, I made my way to that state's capital city again exitting off the highway and down into town. West Virginia's capital at Charleston, with its beautiful gold-domed seat of government, is a very large series of connecting buildings set in a park, all facing down to the Kanahwa River which courses through the entire town.

From Charleston, I took the West Virginia Turnpike (I64-I77) southward, my favorite route in West Virginia, arriving a darktime in the coal industry town of Beckley, home to Congressman Nick Rahall, one of a line of men and women by that family name who have played a role in the town for many, many years. Beckley, the county seat of Raleigh County, sits on top of a hill. I stayed overnight at the Budget Inn on Heber Street, the only motel left in the downtown area - all the others have moved out along the by-pass on what it known as Eisenhower Boulevard. Very early the next morning, I walked the streets of downtown Beckley, all of which seem to feature a hillside. One doesn't go far without going down hill at some point. Beckley has a yellow bricked United States Courthouse Building, along with its limestone Raleigh County court house, which, if I remember correctly, was built in the late 1930s. I have pictures and will add them at some point.

Day Two took me eastward across the mountains along I-64. As I have always done in this stretch of roadway, I dropped off onto the "old road" (US60) and travelled through the village of White Sulphur Springs, with its famous resort, very little of which can be seen from the village's main street, called Main Street. Most of the resort sits behind a two-mile long green wood fence which wouldn't pass code regulations back along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. I made it back to I-64, stopping along the way at a one-lane wide town which had a Sunoco station, as I was beginning to run low on fuel. The town's name was Collinsburg as I recall, and eventually the roadway climbed back up to I-64.

Once in Virginia, I again took the old road, again US60, down into and through the towns of Lexington and Buena Vista and back up again, where I left US60 and spent about 50 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a two-lane wide peaceful, even lonely ride, along the ridge, headed northwards toward Charlottesville, and maintained by the National Parks Service. For those fifty miles, I encountered only a few other vehicles, mostly motorcycles, a few bike-riders, and a few hikers. The elevation at one point reaches 3294 feet above sea level. For comparison, the highest point in Jefferson County is 902 feet (sometimes listed as 888 feet) at South Park Hill out near I-65 and the Bullitt County border. The courthouse in downtown Louisville is 462 feet, marked by a geological survey marker down along the left bottom of the front steps facing out toward the Thomas Jefferson statue and Jefferson Street itself. But, I digress.

My venture once off the Blue Ridge Parkway was along US250 down the hill eventually arriving in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia. I drove a little around town and through the college campus, finding my way out of town on US29, my route, for the most part a four-lane divided full access highway from here to my first major destination, our Nation's Capital, from which I am now writing. Ok, I'm not exactly in DC at this point, but rather at a motel out by the Dulles Airport in Sterling, Virginia, about 23 miles from downtown. Each of my travels from the motel into DC have taken about an hour. Northern Virginia is full of four-lane highways which seem to go on for miles and miles, but few of them take you into DC.

Yesterday I did some sightseeing as well as some business-seeing while in the District of Columbia, but did very little else. My evening plans were changed around some and I eventually made it back to the motel for the night, just in time for a big thunder-and-lightning party which dropped quite a bit of rain. I watched it all from my third-floor window.

Day Three (today) was mostly spent inside the buildings of our federal government. I went on tours, walked through all the connecting tunnels, and, at the invitation of my favorite congressman, my congressman John Yarmuth, climbed the 370-or-so steps to the top - the very top - of the Capital Dome - actually to a platform on top of the dome. Again, at some point, I'll communicate this with pictures. It was a most exhilirating view. On a clear day, as today was, you can see for miles and miles. I thought about President Abraham Lincoln, whose presence here is felt, looking into the hills to the northeast towards Hyattsville and Bladensburg and seeing the cannon-smoke during the War Between the States. Looking westward to the hills in northern Virginia, again I could almost hear the sounds of gunfire over in Manassas knowing the troops of the Army of Northern Virginia planned their takeover of the United States government from places which I could now see atop the nation's most famous legislative building. Although I had toured the entire facility, and got to sit in on some of the Jobs Bill-Extension of Unemployment Benefits debate where the Democrats were for it and the Republicans were, as is their wont, strictly saying no, it was from up here on top the building that, being able to see the entire metropolis, well into Virginia and Maryland, and perhaps to the northwest into West Virginia, that I got a full sense of the history of the place. The entire trip could have ended there and been a great success.

Of course, once finished with that "full sense of history" I had to come back, literally, down to earth along those same 370-or-so steps, one at a time, slowly and steadily. Back in the real world, I met briefly with Congressman Yarmuth who related the story of a 19th century Kentucky congressman killed by a Courier-Journal reporter on one of the interior stairwells. I'm not familiar with the story and will do some research on it upon my return to Louisville. I also met a young reporter outside the House Chambers who is a graduate of Louisville Male High School and reminded him that before the building in which he attended Male was Male, it was Durrett, from which I graduated 32 years ago next week, long before he was born. While we were talking the bells went off and John quickly ducked into some room marked "Members Only" to cast a vote, one in a series of seventeen votes expected for the day. For the record, there are lots of rooms in the capitol marked "Members Only."

After the afternoon of touring inside, I walked outside and down onto The National Mall, which is being prepared for Memorial Day festivites, with the city being filled up with tourists, especially Vietnam Veterans on motorcycles - thousands of them everywhere. There will be concerts on the front lawn of the Capital and a huge motorcycle parade on Sunday beginning at Arlington Cemetery winding through the District and ending at the Lincoln Memorial.

I'll miss it. I'll be leaving tomorrow for New York. But, before leaving, my dear friend Preston will be arriving for a few days stay in Fairfax for some educational purpose and we are going to meet for a coffee.

One other note - while out for a walk today along New Jersey Avenue SE, I ran into one of my old bosses and dear friends, Denis Fleming. Denis has served for many years as Chief-of-Staff to Kentucky's Sixth District Congressman Albert B. Chandler, III. I've not seen Denis in years and we quickly caught up with each others' lives during the interim. We had a pleasurable discussion about the passage of the Don't Ask-Don't Tell legislation, which had passed the House last night, carrying not surprisingly the support of my congressman, but certainly a little suprisingly, the support of his boss.

That's all for now.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend and Happy Birthday to my #3 nephew Elijah Gene Noble, who will be 7 tomorrow.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Entry 624A has been removed

623. A Statement from Congressman John Yarmuth

From the Desk of Congressman John Yarmuth

May 20, 2010

Statement on Senate Candidate Rand Paul's Comments on Civil Rights Act

The comments by Senate candidate Rand Paul opposing the Civil Rights Act are simply appalling, and make it abundantly clear that he has no place holding public office in Kentucky in the 21st century. Our Commonwealth was the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to establish a Commission on Human Rights dedicated to ending discrimination and we have worked hard to show the nation that Jim Crow laws are a distant part of our history.

Rejecting the fundamental provision of the Civil Rights Act is a rejection of the foundational promise of America that all men and women should be treated equally -- a promise for which many Americans have lost their lives.

Leading is not hypothetical debating; its about solving real problems. It is the job of a Member of Congress to represent the needs of every one of their constituents, not to allow businesses to segregate or discriminate against them.

Rand Paul has already embarrassed Kentuckians in the eyes of the world. The Commonwealth deserves better because we are better - and I call on Mitch McConnell and my other colleagues in the Kentucky Congressional Delegation to join me in condemning his despicable views.

Monday, May 17, 2010

622. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow; and a set of predictions just for fun

Kentucky's longest political season in recent memory will come to an end tomorrow night at 7:00 PM after the polls close in the Central Time Zone. Garnering national attention for Kentucky are the two Parties' races for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jim Bunning. One might argue that the seat was mentally vacated years ago; Bunning hasn't been much in the way of a thousands points of light or any other scale. By any measurement, he has been fairly useless to the good citizens of the Commonwealth.

On the Dark Side of the Aisle, Secretary of State C. M. "Trey" Grayson is expected to lose to newcomer Rand Paul, a doctor of some sort from Bowling Greeen who has courted the so-called tea-party voters. Some are calling the Republican Primary a referendum of sorts on Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., the man who built the Kentucky Republican Party from scratch in the mid-1980s into a powerhouse full of young wolves, wolves apparently willing to turn now on their creator. It is a great story line.

Running as Democrats are two statewide office holders, Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard, who ran as part of Governor Steve Beshear's slate in 2007 and Attorney General Jack Conway, a Louisvillian who ran for Congress in 2002. As I did in 2002, I am supporting Conway for a number of reasons. One big one is his age. I believe he is 39 or 40. His chief opponent is 49, to be 50 on the 4th of July. I'll support either of them this fall, but I believe it would be better for Kentucky in the long haul - meaning fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five years from now - to elect the younger of the two, so as to create some senior status for a Kentucky senator. The United States Senate pays close attention to seniority; were it not for Mitch McConnell's long-term service, Kentucky would barely show up on the US Senate radar. Other than some campaign finance law, McConnell does a poor job of representing my values in DC. But he does bring highly needed dollars back to the state. We need to elect someone who can build a level of seniority as Mitch has. In that case, Jack has a ten-year advantage over Mongiardo. I'm also supporting Conway for a number of other reasons, and at least one of them has nothing to do with him, but rather is tied closely to his opponent and a certain piece of legislation he sponsored and supported in 2004.

Jack's race hasn't been ran as nicely as I would have liked. However, under the recent guidance of Jonathan Drobis, he has made up considerable ground and is now closing in on a win. I am hopeful he does win and for him to do so will require quite an effort tomorrow, especially here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

Another race I am following should be an easy one, that of my former boss, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell. Mike is a wonderful guy, someone I've known for nearly thirty years. He was appointed to the post mid-term to serve out Irv Maze's time, after Irv moved over to the Circuit Bench. Mike shouldn't have much trouble, but one should never take a race for granted, and he hasn't.

Finally, the race I am closely involved with, in a professional way, is that of Greg Fischer, candidate for Mayor, for whom I have worked as a strategist and researcher. According to all the polls, including those of his opponents, Greg is set to win tomorrow's Primary. I think the polls are right, but I also think they may have Greg's lead slightly overstated and his opponents' support slightly understated. The latest poll showed Greg with 42%, leading his second-place opponent by a 2-1 margin, and the third-place guy by more than a 3-1 margin.

What follows are my predictions - just for fun - on who will run 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro's 26 council districts. This is kind of like picking the 1st and 2nd round in the NCAA tournament. It is mostly just a big guess. But, like March Madness, it is fun. So, here goes. Wait - one final thought in case you don't want to read through all of this. Here are my final percentages for tomorrow's balloting, hoping of course that the polls are right and I am wrong: Fischer - 36; King - 24; Tandy - 18; Allen - 13; all others 9. Now for the breakdowns, again by Council District.

1st MCD - Tandy, King, Marshall
2nd MCD - King, Tandy, Fischer
3rd MCD - Tandy, Fischer, King
4th MCD - Tandy, Fischer, Allen
5th MCD - Tandy, King, Marshall
6th MCD - Fischer, Tandy, Allen
7th MCD - Fischer, Tandy, Allen
8th MCD - Fischer, Allen, Tandy
9th MCD - Fischer, Allen, King
10th MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
11th MCD - Fischer, Tandy, King
12th MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
13th MCD - Fischer, King, Tandy
14th MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
15th MCD - King, Tandy, Fischer
16th MCD - Fischer, Tandy, King
17th MCD - Fischer, King, Tandy
18th MCD - Fischer, King, Tandy
19th MCD - Fischer, King, Tandy
20th MCD - Fischer, King, Tandy
21st MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
22nd MCD - Fischer, Tandy, King
23rd MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
24th MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
25th MCD - King, Fischer, Tandy
26th MCD - Fischer, Tandy, King

We'll see.

The polls are open from 6am to 6pm. Vote early; Vote often.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

621. First, the Wendell Ford Dinner; then later, some plagiarism from Barefoot and Progressive

Last night was the regular renewal of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party's Annual Wendell Ford Dinner, honoring the former legislator, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and United States Senator, Wendell H. Ford, the 85 year old godfather of Kentucky politics. The event was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel, the renewed and bejeweled former Executive West, on Phillips Lane at Freedom Way. After a singing of the National Anthem by Lisa Tanner and a prayer by the Reverend Dale Josey - I didn't know he was a reverend until tonight - the evening's ritual of drinking, dining, and speaking began. With no "headline" name on the dais - in fact no dais at all, the night was a series of annual awards given for various achievements followed by a series of speeches by six of the gentlemen whose names will appear on the May 18th Democratic Primary ballot followed by a few more speeches. I attended the dinner with my friend Jessie Phelps and we were seated with current and former staffers of Third District Congressman John Yarmuth.

The first up was Greg Fischer, the man I am supporting to succeed Jerry Abramson as Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. Greg, 52, is an innovative entrepreneur, a successful businessman, husband to a doctor, and father to four children. Greg gave a variation of his stump speech, focussing on inclusion, intergrity, and innovation. These are the values that have drawn me to his campaign and I am confident we have engaged in the type of positive, upbeat effort that voters appreciate, something which is apparent from the high numbers he has in all the polls, including those of his opponents.

Next to speak was Councilman Jim King, in his late 50s, a banker, CPA, and community activist who has served on the Metro Council since his election in 2004. He, in fact, was elected to a seat which I had considered running for and really wanted to having waited for 24 years on Cyril Allgeier's retirement, but decided against it after a lengthy meeting with Jim in December 2003. Jim outlined his accomplishments on the Council, covering the legislation he has passed, especially that of ethics reform and labor union protections. He also spoke of his role in the Democratic leadership of the Metro Council and said he wore as a badge of courage [I believe he meant honor] the Republican votes cast against him when he ran for president of the Council. In his speech he mentioned his wife Debbie, who is a friend of mine, as well as his media adviser Larry O'Bryan. He also had good words to say for his opponents (including those not present), acknowledging that it will take all of them together as they [likely] face Hal Heiner this November.

The third speaker was David Tandy, about 38, a bulk of a man who formerly played football while in college at Vanderbilt. Tandy is my Louisville Metro councilman; he is a most pleasant fellow. We also serve together on the State Democratic Party Executive Committee, where he serves a second role as State Party Treasurer. An attorney, he is a native of Owensboro (which worked to his advantage last night as Senator Ford is also from there). Tandy is married and has three young children. And it could easily be said, he gave quite a speech. Strong, powerful, and dreamy, it focussed on what Louisville could and should be in the future. He has used the "Why Not?" mantra attributed to Bobby Kennedy throughout most of his campaign, and in fact, that same mantra was invoked by the Rev. Josey in his Invocation earlier in the evening. Josey is a staffer for the Tandy campaign. Tandy's speech was reminescent of the kind Wendell Ford once regularly gave, especially up on the platform on the first Saturday of August down in Fancy Farm. And Tandy more than once in his speech referenced the work he did in Senator Ford's senatorial office. He certainly had everyone's attention in a very good way.

Tandy was followed by Tyler Allen, who I suppose is about 40. Tyler is well known as the leader of the 8664 group (of which I am a longtime member and supporter as demonstrated by the 8664 sticker on my car). This group opposes the construction of a new Spaghetti Junction downtown and advocates for a levelled I-64 through town and a new East End Bridge connecting I-265 in Jefferson County, Kentucky with IN-265 in Clark County, Indiana. My candidate for mayor and I disagree on this matter. Following Tandy's revivalistic sermon did not serve Allen well, who seemed smaller than he actually is. Allen is a successful businessman, married and has two or three young children. Allen approaches the mayor's race from an entirely different perspective in his opinion - that of an outsider looking in. While the polls indicate his support is small, it is of an activist type nature, people not easily swayed from their candidate.

The other four Democratic candidates for mayor were not present.

The next series of speeches were offered by the two candidates seeking to succeed Jim Bunning as the junior senator from Kentucky. Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo spoke first. Dan will be 50 on July 4th. He is married and is a recent father. He talked a lot about his earlier run, in 2004, where he came within a whisker of defeating Bunning, who, thankfully, is retiring. I had spoken to the lieutenant governor earlier when he visited our table, telling him of my familiarity with the property he owns on Louisville Road in Frankfort, property which has become an issue in the campaign. It is located very near the Game Farm , also on Louisville Road and backs up to lands which run off Pea Ridge Road to the north. My grandmother, Vivian "Tommie" Lewis Hockensmith was born and raised back in that area. Much of my family farmed acres of land owned by a long-since gone distant cousin, Taylor Collins. [For the record, I presently have another cousin named Taylor Collins, a student at Wake Forest University, although, to my knowledge, I have never met him]. Yet another distant cousin, Irvine Carroll Moore, once operated the old Whippoorwill Springs Golf Course in this area, although his land is now part of the Capital City Airport. But, I digress.

Governor Mongiardo was followed by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. I am supporting Conway, just as I have in all of his races. Jack will be 40 (I think) on July 5th. He is also recently married and a new father. Jack covered his accomplishments as Attorney General, and hopes to carry those accomplishments as a base for his work as a United States Senator. Although I support Jack, I've been sorely disappointed in his absolute adherance to Kentucky's Death Penalty laws, laws which I believe are inhumane. The night before he was elected into office me and my friend Jessie addressed that matter with him, She, like me, opposes the law as well. She asked me why Jack didn't make it over to our table and I reminded her of our pre-election discussion with him on the matter. Jack's speeches always seem a bit too serious for me to be honest.

Next up was my favortite congressman, my congressman John Yarmuth. John gave one of his typical, broadbased speeches, extolling at length the virtues of the Democratic Party. He covered all the points, all the legislation, all the good and great reasons that many of us, from all parts of the political spectrum, join together under the big tent as Democrats. John left nothing out and he was right on every point. And, at its base, that joining together is a great belief in the WE, as opposed to the ME. We - Democrats - believe we are all in this together, all better off because of each other, all partly responsible not only for ourselves but for each other. It is a fundamental difference with the ME generation fostered by Ronald Reagan, whose extreme nationalism - and at times jingoism - will someday be recorded as the beginning of the end of the Great American Empire. Reagan destroyed some of the collective fabric which joined Americans together as "we the people." But, again, I digress. But I will come back to John's speech later in the "plagiarism" part of this entry.

It was a long night, but the best was saved for last. Congressman Yarmuth had the honor of introducing the Guest of Honor, Wendell Ford. The eighty-five year old statesman quickly and forcefully made his way to the podium. And while many thought David Tandy's speech was a barnburner (and it was), Tandy's only served as the junior associate to that of his very seasoned mentor. Ford gave a strong speech on unity and hope - hope for a Democratic State Senate in Kentucky, hope for a Democratic Senator from Kentucky in Washington this fall, and hope for the demise of the powers of Mitch McConnell. His raised his voiced, waved his arms, and brought everyone to their feet in an ecstasy of support. He went on for several minutes, all to the enjoyment of everyone there. It was vintage and classic Wendell Ford and for those present was a special treat.

I've known Wendell Ford all my life. I remember him coming to Okolona when he was a candidate for governor. He and his running mate, Julian Carroll, who was also present tonight, walked in a parade from the old "B" District Democratic Headquarters, opposite the old Okolona Elementary (where the present Okolona Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library now sits) down to the old Okolona Little League ballpark, now the site of the Home Depot at Preston Highway and Blue Lick Road. I participated in that parade, probably at the behest of my grandmother mentioned earlier in this entry. That was in 1971. I've enjoyed nearly all of the almost forty years of politics since then.

The night closed with the crowd joining in the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, led by Jefferson County PVA Tony Lindauer.


The title of this entry mentions plagiarism. I try not to plagiarise and when I do I always acknoweldge it. Back in March, entry #603 covered, inter alia, a Facebook discussion on the role of a liberal activist government - the type of government I believe in, the type of government I believe was fostered by many of the Founding Fathers. Entry #603 was mostly a back-and-forth between my young friend Preston Bates (with whom I've not spoken in some time) on the right side of the issue (although he claimed libertarian interests) - along with a few supporters of his, and a few of us older and allegedly wiser liberals on the left. It was a great discussion. I'm not sure who won, or if anyone won.

Earlier today I was reading one of my favorite blogs,, a Lexington-based politically progressive and often irreverent take on central Kentucky. A writer, pseudonominally known to readers as Ronnie Cottonpants, offered a commentary today which mimicked the arguments and beliefs Ken Herndon, Bruce Maples, and I used in our dialogue with Preston, as well as mimicking the speech given by Congressman Yarmuth last night. Mr. Cottonpants' entry is aimed at libertarianism and the Rand Paul campaign, but along the way he states many of the creeds many of us on the left firmly hold.

As I said, their writing is far more irreverent than mine and the commentary below contains language I normally do not commit to writing. But it is commentary worth reading and with which I wholly agree. Thus, below is copied Ronnie Cottonpants entry from Thursday. Any comments will be appreciated.


Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Sense

A liberal mind requires faith in humanity combined with a generous portion of self-loathing. A conservative mind requires a love of America and a hatred of Americans. A Tea Partier's mind requires the sort of bitterness and paranoia that can only be cultivated through seven months of in-utero binge drinking. Finally, a libertarian's mind requires an equal amount common sense and insanity.

I say that because I think I really get Libertarians. Honestly. Not in the condescending way that atheists think they "get" Christians, or how insufferable pricks say they "get" jazz. Some of my favorite people in the world are Libertarians. My friends, my cousins, they all tell me that the government has no business in our day to day affairs. While their tone and level of interest often changes, they are united by one common-sense principle: they don't want anyone taking their pot.

And why should they? Our drug laws in this country are insane. I wholeheartedly support a "Get Your Laws Off of My Mellow" policy. The same applies to marriage laws. Gays (some of those Americans Republicans pretend don't make up America) should be allowed to marry whoever they want without government interference. Will gay marriage lead to legalized polygamy? Who gives a shit? I stand with my Libertarian brethren on both drugs and marriage: we have the inalienable right to fuck ourselves and fuck others as we so choose.

But Libertarians are insane as well. Many of them have a philosophy that goes no deeper than Ronald Reagan's famous quote, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" For one, it's decidedly untrue--much scarier nine words, "I am from the government and you have AIDS"--but, worse, it's built on an old and harmful lie. That is the lie of "None of my business."

Does it matter if your neighbor dies broke and alone? On the surface, it's none of your business. But to believe that his success or failure has no bearing on your success or failure requires such a monomaniacal delusion that insanity seems too kind a word for it. Why is it when one store goes broke, other stores around it go broke as well? Is it because when people are out of work, there's less money to spend? Or is it because, Who cares, it's none of my business? When schools go broke, what happens to the students? If you said, private interests will take care of them, then open your eyes and describe your sphincter, because you're head's in your ass. In a community (and like it or not, that's what you live in) you rise and fall with others.

Of course, if the government didn't exist, what would take it's place? Private business, of course, which has to answer to the will of the marketplace. Does it matter if your hospital has a Pepsi sign on it or your policeman give you Wal-Mart coupons along with your speeding ticket? That depends if you believe that private companies have your best interests at heart. When executives refer to their "bottom lines" are they talking about the health and safety of their communities?

Given what the private banks have done, what BP has done, what the Massey Mines have done all in the last few months, no serious person can argue that private companies left to their own devices will work for communities rather than for themselves. I'm familiar with the argument that "A few bad apples don't spoil the bunch," but aren't the stakes too high for that type of thinking? If you eat a bad apple, you throw it away and get a new apple: if your mine collapses on your head because it was too expensive to make it safer then you're dead.

That's my problem with the Libertarian philosophy, but unfortunately, my problem with Libertarians (at least the ones making all the noise in Kentucky) runs a little deeper. I have to ask, what does it say about Libertarians when they're proven right and won't claim victory? They say that the government can't be trusted, that it is mad with power, and that the real goal is to grab you without reason and put you away. Last week, with the passage of the Arizona immigration law, their worst fears were confirmed. What have the Libertarians said about it? Not a peep. Is that because it's none of their business, or is it because it doesn't effect white people?

I'd love to think the Rand Paul voters are sensible and insane, but the longer this silence stretches on, the more they come across as craven and bigoted.


One more comment on the Wendell Ford Dinner. I spoke briefly at the end of the night with former Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Jennifer Moore about her prospects for a statewide candidacy in 2011 and offered my support should she make such a run.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

620. The Sun Shines Bright on My Old Kentucky Rail

When I woke up this morning it was, as forecasted, raining. The National Weather Service had forecast a very wet Derby Day although they did not forecast a rainy Derby. Throughout the day the forecasters watched the radar stretching back to the southwest from Louisville to Owensboro and Evansville and into northern Missouri. As the storms moved throughout the day, everyone was holding out for the sun to shine on Churchill Downs for the 136th Kentucky Derby, which was scheduled to go to the post at 6:28 pm.

I remember Derby Day 1977. I was at the track in my jeans and a Durrett High School t-shirt. The race went off an hour earlier in those days. It had been a mostly sunny day but clouds did gather to a drizzling point sometime around 4. An older gentleman, probably around 40, joined me as I stood along the old Paddock fence line. He asked me if I thought it would clear up for the Derby and I assured him it would - based on what I have no idea. Everything I knew about weatherforecasting I had just learned the year before in Mr. Shield's 10th grade Science Class. It did, in fact, clear up and my new friend rewarded my forecasting skills with a very nice afternoon, seeing horse racing's second most recent Triple Crown champion win the first leg of that three-legged series - Seattle Slew. Seattle Slew was foaled on February 15, 1974; won the Derby on May 7, 1977; and died twenty-five years later on May 7, 2002; and remains my favorite Derby winner.

Today's weather was unlike that day in 1977. It rained all day - 1.62 inches as of this writing. But, miraculously, the rain abated about 5:30 pm. The Churchill Downs race crew furiously went to work getting as much water off the track ahead of the big race, although the track was still muddy when the Derby was ran. Then, as the horses were being led to the Starting Gate, sometime around 6:25 pm, here came the Sun in all its glory. A round of applause went up from the nearly 156,000 people in attendance. It was the first time all day the sun had peered through the clouds. As the twenty horses were loaded into the gate, the sun came out full and broad, shining bright on Kentucky.

The race went off at 6:32 pm. For the second time in two years, and the third time in four years, a Louisville-based jockey, Calvin Borel, rode the Derby winner. Super Saver ran the race in 2:04 and 2/5, a slow time on a muddy track. Borel had won two races earlier in the day, riding the inside rail in each of those victories. And that is how he won the 136th Kentucky Derby, riding the rail, running ahead of Ice Box and Paddy O'Prado.

I had bets on Noble's Promise, Stately Victor, Jackson Bend, and Homeboykris, the latter just for fun. They placed 5th, 8th, 12th, and 15th respectively. Continuing the trend of most of today's winners, Super Saver made for a decent return on a $2.00 bet, paying $18.00, $8.00, and $6.00.

Thus another name is etched into the annals of Louisville and Horseracing history - Super Saver. And Calvin Borel's stock climbs in like manner. Happy Derby.

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.