Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
As many of my longtime seven faithful readers know, I have a pet peeve about incorrect or ill-designed streetname signs. It has been a problem in Louisville since about 1986, with the dismissal of a former streetname sign worker in the Signs and Markings office of the former Louisville City government. Since that time, I've watched as Louisville's streetname signs have changed sizes, shapes, and degrees of accuracy over the years, usually not for the better. I have complained and complained to former members of the Board of Aldermen and former Directors of Public Works, all to no avail. I gave up officially complaining about six years ago.
But this entry isn't about the former City of Louisville, or the former County of Jefferson, or their successor-government, Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, although I have much to say on the same subject as it pertains to Louisville Metro, but not in this entry.
This entry concerns streetname signs you may have recently noticed in and around the University of Louisville campus. They are new and bigger than most of our standard signs, and they are red- and black-lettered in honor of the school's colors. They display the streetname and street-type designation (in an abbreviated form) as well as a direction where appropriate, and a block number. To my knowledge, they have all the streetnames correct. And, to my knowledge they have all the abbreviated designations correct although it took me a minute to figure out that OVPS means Overpass, as in the Denny Crum Overpass, which is co-signed with the inordinately long 100 block of Central Avenue, which runs about four blocks long all the way over to Crittenden Drive. The only longer 100 block of any street in Jefferson County is that of the Outer Loop, where the 100 block runs for about two miles from Third Street Road eastward to the Northern Ditch. But, I digress.
This discussion is about the block numbers U of L has posted on these beautiful new signs. The signs, I am told, were erected as part of a beautifying effort, perhaps to lure a professional fraternity designation to the school, perhaps not. If I were trying to beautify the campus, the least I would do is check the addresses to make sure that the new signs had correct block numbers. About 1/4 of all the new signs U of L has erected in this program are incorrect, which doesn't say much for our local college.
Several months ago I brought this to the attention of Dr. James Ramsey, the University's president, by pointing out several of these errors via his Facebook page. Dr. Ramsey responded that such matters were handled "somewhat below his level" and that he would look into it. Because of the respect I have had for Dr. Ramsey dating back to his budget days in state government, as well as the good work he has done during his U of L tenure, I expected something as simple as correcting a few streetname block numbers would be an easy task. Especially on a college campus where pizzas and Chinese food, and perhaps other commodities are regularly delivered, one would think such correct signage would be a given. These signs should and could also be helpful to police, fire, and EMS personnel in times of emergency, except these, which are incorrect, could possibly delay life saving assistance because the University apparently doesn't deem public safety an important enough issue to correct the signs.
I understand that Dr. Ramsey doesn't deal with correcting streetname block numbers. I was only bringing it to his attention. I believed him when he said others would look into the matter. Either they've ignored his assignment or he never made it. None of the incorrect signs I addressed to Dr. Ramsey several months ago have been corrected. Since that time, more incorrect signs have been erected. How diffiuclt can it be to ascertain a correct block number? Obviously, too difficult for the U of L sign erecting crew.
This afternoon me and a friend drove out 4th Street observing the dammge from this afternoon's powerful storms. There, in front of the Bettie Johnson Hall dorms, which are clearly marked with the address of 401 W. Cardinal Boulevard is a brand new streetname sign, directly in front of the building proudly, but incorrectly, proclaiming that section of road to be 300 W CARDINAL BLVD.
Such errors are uncalled for and should be addressed and corrected.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Remembering my paternal grandmother today. Grace Irene Noble, the daughter of Isaac "Ike" Lee and Lorraine "Gussie" Schlenck Lee Hall died thirty-five years ago on this date. She was born January 8, 1915, married to U. G. Noble in 1933, and had three sons, Donald - born in 1936 and died in 2005, my dad Urban "Gene" - born in 1939, and Vincent "Chris" - born in 1953. She was grandmother to me and my brother Kevin, and sister to the late Mary Hiner. Rest in peace.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
696. The ups and downs of getting to and from Fancy Farm, Kentucky - the second of two unrelated entries
This will be a boring entry for most of my seven faithful readers. It is an exercise in geographic names, inspired by Dr. Tom Owen and, unrelated, some Facebook postings I made yesterday and Friday during my trek to and from west Kentucky.
At least twice, most recently on two tours of Jefferson County with then-candidate and later the elected Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, Tom Owen has announced at the crest of certain hills that "we were now leaving the Pond Creek watershed and entering the Pennsylvania Run Creek watershed." That may not have been the exact words to one of them, but then again it might have been at that crest along the Outer Loop between Okolona and Highview, in front of the old abandoned Hi-Li Swim Club property. According to Dr. Owen, and I agree, knowing your watersheds is an important part of knowing your community. I'm sure Mayor Fischer came to agree whilst on these two trips, if he didn't already before Dr. Owen's discussion. As a note, the states of Virginia and Tennessee, and perhaps others, mark their major watershed divisions along their Eisenhower Interstate System Highways.
The second inspriration for this boring entry which is to follow rises out of several Facebook updates made when crossing Kentucky's waterways to and from Fancy Farm, the first of which, I believe, was "Crossing the Cumberland." The first one would have been "Crossing the Green" but I had no signal at that point along the Western Kentucky Parkway.
So, what follows are not the watersheds, a la Dr. Owen, but the names of the creeks, forks, rivers, and other bodies of water crossed along my weekend journey of just over five hundred miles. As I said, it will be boring to most - just a litany of names. I'd appreciate, though, any comments you might have on any of them. I'll list them by county in the order they were crossed. As a note, my journey began in South Louisville around 3rd Street and the Watterson Expressway.
Southern Ditch (Pond Creek)
Blue Lick Creek
alongside Paradise Lake
Rolling Fork of Salt River
West Rhudes Creek
alongside Boiling Spring
Laurel Branch of Bear Creek
South Fork of Caney Creek
Brown's Branch of Caney Creek
Dogwalk Branch of Indian Camp Creek
North Prong of Indian Camp Creek
Wild Branch of Sixes Creek
Hickory Konb Fork of Muddy Creek
Little Cypress Creek (two crossings)
alongside Long Pond
Flat Creek Ditch
alongside Bold Duck Spring
Lambs Creek Ditch
North Fork of the Tradewater River
East Fork of the Tradewater River
alongside Beshear Spring
East Fork of the Flynn Fork of the Tradewater River
Little John Creek
Bloodyshin Branch of Cypress Creek
East Fork of the Clarks River
Bowie Branch of Soldier Creek
Dry Branch of Soldier Creek
alongside Hale Spring
West Fork of the Clarks River
Moss Branch of the West Fork of the Clarks River
Ray Branch of Panther Creek
Pryor Branch of Panther Creek
West Fork of Mayfield Creek
----- Arrival at Fancy Farm in Graves County
----- Departing from Fancy Farm in Graves County
West Fork of Mayfield Creek
alongside Little Mayfield Creek
Minnow Branch of Watson Creek
Sand Lick Branch of the West Fork of the Clarks River
West Fork of the Clarks River
East Fork of the Clarks River
Little Jonathan Creek
The Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River
Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River
Stillhouse Branch of the Little River
Steele Branch of the Sinking Fork of the Little River
Sinking fork of the Little River
North Fork of the Little River
South Fork of the Little River
West Fork of the Red River
Dry Fork of Whippoorwill Creek (two crossings)
Town Branch of the Mud River
alongside Hancock Lake
Big Branch of Renfrow Creek
East Prong of the Indian Camp Creek
Honey Fork of Welch's Creek
- Returning to the WK Parkway and Jefferson County in reverse order from above.
Any comments? Any one have any stories, particularly of the smaller waterways? Just curious. Thanks for reading. Happy sailing.
I've been going to Fancy Farm off-an-on since I was about 18 - mostly on. Most everyone is attracted to the tiny little town in far-western Kentucky because of the political histrionics displayed by the candidates who are, for the most part, less histrionically inclined in most other situations. The Tea Party-Republican candidate for Secretary of State may be an exception to that generalisation - he seems to be histrionically inclined at all times.
Besides the politics there is, of course, the food. I've written about this in years past. One should not engage in the fun and frolic of Fancy Farm if one is watching their weight or waistline. Beginning on Thursday, perhaps earlier, and continuing through to at least Saturday evening, there is no excuse to be hungry as there are events galore where food is to be had in plenty, sometimes for a few pieces of silver, and often for no silver at all. Clearly this year's food-extravanga was the Alison Lundergan Grimes party on Executive Drive late on Friday night after the Marshall County Bean Dinner.
The other reason to go, the most important, is the chance to see, chat, hug, eat, and otherwise engage and be entertained by friends, and even political opponents from across the Commonwealth, sometimes friends you only see once a year.
All of these reasons sufficed for me to make it down to this year's picnic. But, I have to admit, as many of you know, I also go simply for the drive. My Facebook friends are aware from my posts over on that medium that I've not enjoyed this summer as well as I should have, due to a number of complications which have mostly had me mentally fatigued. Those have continued into this first week of August, so the ride itself, which, according to Google, should be 236 miles each way, is one of my compelling reasons to make the journey. By the way, it has never taken me only 236 miles to get there, and it has certainly never taken me only 236 miles to return, as I have that rule about never going-and-coming the same way. Other than the 88 miles between here and Caneyville along I-65 and the WK Parkway, I adhered to that rule.
So the trip began, as stated, along 65 South and the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway, the standard route to anywhere in the western part of Kentucky, the exception being Western Kentucky University, which is either misnamed or mislocated, as it is clearly not in western Kentucky, but more in southern Kentucky. Poignantly, as I passed Exit #107 at Leitchfiled, I thought of my friend Rob. His girlfriend's grandparents had a place at the lake on Nolin, a place the three of us often sojourned to, or, in some cases, a place I went to gather him up when she was staying for the week, but he had to return to Louisville for work or school. KY259 south was the beginning of the path one took, and still may take, to find Conoloway and the Just family getaway located there.
I continued westward on the WK, though not the entire length, as I usually depart for the "old road" a few miles before the 137 mile parkway comes to an end at Interstate 24. A side note, the WK is almost the exact same length from Elizabethtown to Eddyville, or start to finish, as I-65 is from the Tennessee line to the Indiana line. My departure from the parkway was at Princeton. I was tempted to leave the road a few miles earlier at the Dawson Springs exit, #24, so as to venture through the ancestral hometown of Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear. But, I didn't. I drove into and through Princeotn, meaning to continue south on KY293, past the Caldwell Chapel and through the town of Saratoga, as I wanted to at least see, if not drive up into, the Mineral Mounds State Park, a place I've never visited.
Somehow, I missed the turn or, perhaps, made an incorrect turn, and instead found myself on US62, westbound, a road I've travelled many times. It was just as well, as I also wanted to say hello to a friend who lives in Eddyville, and this road, as well as the other one I didn't take, eventually led just past his house on Lake Barkley Drive, which is actually in Kuttawa, or even Old Kuttawa, a few miles west of Eddyville. We visited long enough for him to have a beer and me a glass of Sweet Tea. He was undecided on whether he would make it "all the way over to Fancy Farm" as he put it. Thus, I departed.
My overnight accomodations were at the Days Inn-Calvert City, a place I've overnighted before fairly successfully. I arrived amidst a heavy downpour of rain. Getting there from Old Kuttawa requires crossing the Cumberland and the Tennessee from the Pennyrile area of Kentucky into the Purchase area of Kentucky, each name representing a geographical area with non-geographic names. Sometime we'll go into that - I've explained "The Purchase" in a previous entry. Crossing the Cumberland and crossing the Tennessee inspired the entry I intend to write following this one, the second of two unrelated entries, as noted in the title.
I will note that crossing the Tennessee isn't nearly as inspirational on the new bridge as it was on the old bridge, where you were actually atop the Kentucky Dam with the wide and wonderful waters of Kentucky Lake clearly in view immediately to the left, or southern side of the highway/dam. The new road and bridge is just north of there and to be honest, I could not even tell you if the bridge is beautiful or not as I was looking over at the backside of the dam, where you could plainly see the water level of the lake versus the water level of the river, well below the dam. Interesting, but not inspiring.
The first stop of the night was the Marshall County Bean Dinner, an annual fundraiser for the Marshall County Democratic Party, where they confer awards on their friends and reward the rest of us with an interesting dinner of bean soup (which was excellent), cornbread (sweet and not-sweet), watermelon, banana-pepper salad, and iced tea (again, sweet and not-sweet), along with a barrage of speakers warming up for tomorrow's big day, all presided over by the tall and handsome Will Coursey, who represents the area in the General Assembly in Frankfort. There is also a silent auction quietly going on over on the tables along the wall. I entered several bids but each was outbid. At the dinner I sat with my friend Kathy Jo Stubblefield, a retired school teacher from Calloway County, one county south of where we were. It was good to catch up with Kathy Jo.
Later that night, it is tradition to attend parties in the Executive Cabins, located a bit west of the lodge where the dinner is held. It was my intention to visit at least two parties in these cabins - not cabins at all as each has three or four bedrooms. I only made it to one. But before I got there, I did my traditional foot-dipping. I have a tradition of sticking at least my feet, if not more of my body, into the great bodies of water which I cross in my travels. From Executive Drive, I wandered down to the marina, shed my shoes and socks, and wandered on a boat dock about twelve feet out into the waters of if not the Tennessee River, at least the Kentucky Lake, formed by the damming of the river.
From this ceremonial event, I began my night at the Alison Lundergan Grimes cabin and party, a place I really never got away from for the rest of the night. Most of these parties have finger foods, some barbecue, maybe hamburgers and hotdogs, and most anything you may wish to drink, from diet Dr. Pepper to little mason jars of white lightning brought from unnamed friends and unnamed places, and beer.
But, Alison Grimes has as her father Jerry Lundergan, a well-known Lexington caterer and politcian, and a dear friend of mine. And Jerry doesn't do anything by halves and this cabin lawn party was no expecption. Food was a buffet of breakfast food - bacon, sausages, biscuits and gravy, fruit, strip steaks, scrambled eggs, hashed brown potatoes, and salsa. All you can eat. I ate a lot. Music was provded by a young foursome of kids singing rock-a-billy songs at the start - an interesting cover of Blue Moon of Kentucky - and later morphed into some jazz and fusion, and even later was just a jam session of sorts. The crowd kept growing and growing and I estimated it about 150 when a large tour bus arrived from ACFSME, swelling the numbers. Later in the night I counted, at one point, 250 - easily the largest of these afterparties anywhere in the area and at anytime in my memory. If Alison spoke, I don't remember, this despite the fact that I was only drinking Sierra Mists. I finally made my way over to her and lamented that I was tired and it was time for me to leave. And so I did.
There are usually two stops on Saturday morning, both involving food and both in Mayfield, the county seat of Graves County, with Fancy Farm located a few miles to the west. The earlier one is the annual Graves County Democratic Party Breakfast, another fundraiser, held at the Mayfield High School on the east side of the city. Somehow, I managed to missed it as I had slept in with the rain falling and a late night the night before. I enjoyed the extra hour or so of doing nothing.
I did eventually arise and took a circuitous route toward Mayfield, stopping first in the Marshall County seat of Benton, where the clock-steepled court house sits atop a high hill at the corner of 11th and Main Streets. Directly across the court square on the back side of the court house is the Marshall County Republican Party headquarters. While the local government is decidedly Democratic, under the long-time control of Coumty Judge/Executive Mike Miller, the county's federal votes nearly always go to the Republican Party. I'm hopeful that the new and young blood I've seen at Party events will reverse that trend, which at this point isn't a trend, simply a fact.
I left Benton along KY58 to the south which just west of the Brewers community joins up with the old route of KY80, Kentucky's southern parkway. There is a new KY80 in town and this old section, from Brewers west to Mayfield is now, simply, KY58. The old KY80 to the east at Aurora, is now KY402. My destination in Mayfield was the Fayette County Democratic Party Breakfast, a free event, held at a banquet hall on the northeast side of the city. I began the event with a State Party By-Laws discussion with George Mills, a Lexington atrorney and one of the co-hosts of the event. There for the food was a polite table of shrimp, sausage filled mushroom caps, bacon-wrapped potatoes, fruit, and a variety of drinks, including an orange juice with a little punch to it, something I wasn't expecting but didn't mind. I was joined by my friend Elizabeth Sawyer, of Louisville, and recently appointed as the new Executive Director of Emerge Kentucky. We sat and listened to speeches by First Lady Jane Beshear, former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, the current Secretary of State Elaine Walker, and all the Democratic nominees for the statewide offices, again, all prepping for the speeches later in the day, all probably repeating the speeches they had given an hour earlier at the Graves County Breakfast, and may give yet again at the Chamber of Commerce Brunch, before trekking the thirteen miles westward on KY80 to the village of Fancy Farm, the parish of Saint Jerome, and the reason for the entire trip.
Ok, I didn't go west on KY80, because I knew when I left, I'd be driving eastward back towards Mayfield. I left Mayfield a few miles to the north, then west on KY121, a long diagonally-running highway which crosses the Purchase from Wickliffe in the west in Ballard County, and ending at Fort Heiman in the east on the Calloway County line with Henry County, Tennessee - although much of it between Mayfield and Murray has been replaced by the new KY80. More on that later,
KY121 heads northwest and is crossed by KY339, the road from Lone Oak in McCracken County to near Cooksville in Graves County. About halfway along that route is our destination city, or village, Fancy Farm. The event, for the uninformed, as actually a political speaking encapsulated by a typical summer Catholic festival, in this case, the Saint Jerome Catholic Picnic. So, along with the speechifying are games of chance (pulltabs), bingo, and lots of food - and really good food, most especially mutton and pork sandwiches which can be lathered with the ubiquitous contents of Fancy Farm's own bar-be-cue sauce which are everywhere to be found. The best deal of the day, although for the first time in many years one I did not take part in, is the all-you-can-eat dinner in the Knights of Columbus hall located in the rear of the church grounds. You can read about this in previous years' entries.
The speaking began with a prayer from Owensboro Bishop Bill Medley, afterwhich political histrionics ruled the day. I won't go into them here. I usually begin my departure shortly after the speeches begin. Along my way out, I spotted my friend Greg Anderson of Murray and we chatted briefly promising to keep in touch, a promise I hope we both keep. My favorite line of the afrernoon wasn't all that rude or smartaleck, although many were, especially from the Dark Side of the Aisle. It came from the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Richie Farmer, who needs no other introduction. Of his Democratic opponent, former Louisville mayor Jrry Abramson, he said "Jerry has been mayor of Louisville for 316 years." Well, it wasn't that long, but it was a long time, from 1986 to 2011, saving four short years under Dave Armstrong, who was Louisville's best mayor in decades.
Most of the rest of the speaking was barbs and theatrics, although I was quietly shocked by the Republican Secretary of State's suggestions that homeless American citizens should be denied the right to vote. No American citizen who isn't otherwise barred from voting should be openly denied the right to vote. For a candidate for Secretary of State, the office in charge of elections, to call for a denial of the right to vote to otherwise eligible American citizens is unfathomable, perhaps even treasonous. We have penalties for treason. Denial of the right to vote should not be a penalty for homelessness. I have stronly supported my friend Alison Lundergan Grimes since she began her campaign for Secretary of State. If anyone hasn't yet found a reason to support her, I would suggest that the stance of denying American citizens the right to vote due to homeslessness is a good reason not to support her opponent. His speech made me livid and I really didn't hear much after that. So, I left.
One more note before I leave the picnic grounds. I had noticed several - many - people, young and old, walking around with little puppies. While that's something I expect on Bardstown Road, it seemed oddly out of place there. Eventually, I stopped a teenager, a sophomore at Graves County High School so his t-shirt read, and asked about the puppies. He informed me that the local Humane Society had made available for adoption about 100 puppies which would otherwise be euthanized in the near future. He also informed me that all the puppies, including the one in his protective arms, were adopted. While I am not a "dog person" and have not followed as closely as perhaps I should have the discord surrounding the Louisville Metro Animal Service, I found this work in Graves County to be the best news of the day.
One more note - for the first itme in memory it wasn't unbearably hot and there was a vry brisk, if warm, wind, something never before experienced. So, the weather was unusualy cooperative.
As planned, I left Fancy Farm along KY80 east back to Mayfield. For the past several years, the Commonwealth has been constructing a new fourlane KY80 between Mayfield, Murray, and the old one at Kenlake State Park. It is now finished and I wanted to drive it for no other reason than I hadn't heretofore. The new highway from Mayfield to Murray largely follows the route of KY121. From Murray eastward, it follows just north of KY94, which it generally replaces. It rejoins its former self at Aurora with the intersection of US68, where eastward, my direction, one crosses the Eggner Ferry Bridge over the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake into Trigg County and the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. The highway through the eight miles of vacant land in this former TVA reserve has also been rebuilt and greatly widened. Just before leaving the area, I stopped at Elbow Bay, a bay of Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River, and repeated the tradition of foot-dipping in the great waters. This task completed, I ventured across the Henry R. Lawrence Memorial Bridge, through Canton, past Lake Barkley State Park, and into downtown Cadiz.
Downtown Cadiz sits atop a long hill at the top of which are two opposing court houses, old and new. The old one appears to be me to be an old bank. While I do not remember this for certain, I believe the new building was buit on the site of a much older court house. Maybe, maybe not. I stayed on the mutti-plexed US68/KY80 through the business community of Montgomery at the intersection with I-24, and then into Christian County, where the town of Gracey sits off to the south along the old highway route. Were it not for Hopkinsville sitting right in the middle of it, Us68/KY80 in Christian County is essentially a long straight four-lane highway, leaving Christian and entering Todd at the village of Fairview, again off to the south along the old route, and at the state historic site of an obelisk honoring the birthplace of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate State of America, those elements in rebellion to the United States from 1861 to 1865, although it seems in some corners, the Old South has yet to give up the ghost. My dear friend Preston Bates once called me as he was visitng this site. As a measure of friendship, I pulled up into the park and returned his call. I had taken his; he didn't mine.
Us68/KY80 continues its rarely curving passage through Todd County, past the town of Elkton, again off to the south, which serves as the county seat. The road is known through here as the Jefferson Davis Highway. Down into Miller Vally past Daysville, we cross out of Todd and into Logan. THe road turns decidedly northeasterly as you head into the county seat of Russellville. At Russellville, I left US68/KY80 and took in its place the northeasterly route of KY79. To be honest, I do not ever remembering travelling this road before between Russellville and Morgantown, so this was to be a small adventure. It is a fairly good two lane road up and down the hills and valleys of northern Logan County, past Hancock Lake, and through Chandler's Chapel, through Costelow and as you come up a hill past two bald knobs - curious looking and worth doing some research upon - into Butler County. At the top of the hill is the rural crossroads hamlet of, appropriately, Davis Crossroads, with rolling hills to the east and a valley to the west. Again, this was all virgin territory for me, so I was taking extensive mental notes. The still up-and-down pattern continued almost to the route's junction with US231, just south of 231's intersection with the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway, itself just south of the county seat at Morgantown.
I've always thought the court house at Morgantown looked like an Ivy League college campus building built in the early part of the 20th century. It is brick, not very tall, and long - ranch-like in design, with an expansive yard all around. It may be because the building is not so imposing that the grounds seems to be so expansive. Its college-like atmosphere was calming for me, as I seem to be more content when I am on a college campus, whether real or otherwise, as is the case here. The main road out of town turns westward and down a hill before veering northward across the Green River and into the mostly residential area known as Aberdeen. No, I did no foot-dipping at Aberdeen, Kentucky, although I have at Aberdeen, Ohio, but into a different waterway. But, I digress.
At Aberdeen, I stayed with KY79 toward Caneyville as opposed to US231 toward Beaver Dam and Ohio County, the county of my new young Democratic friend Tim Morris, a a native of Horse Branch, which sits along the Paducah and Louisville Railway at its junction with another railway off to the north. KY79 continues the up-and-down pattern through the communities of Flenor, Welcome, and Welch's Creek, all hardly noticeable, and crossing into far southwestern Grayson County just shy of Dog Creek. A couple more miles steadily up a very slight hill brings you to KY79's intersection with the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. As I said at the beginning, this last 88 miles are simply the reversal of the first 88 and I won't bore you, as I'm sure I have so far, with any more narrative.
The short version would be "it was a nice long drive with plenty to eat, but now I'm back home." Thanks Be To God.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Yesterday, in my response to Ed Martin as to Congressman Yarmuth's work on the debt ceiling resolution, I offered the following, "If John [Yarmuth] didn't call for cuts associated with tax increases, and not just the elimination of loopholes, then I, too, share your displeasure in his actions."
Well, there is no displeasure for me to share with Mr. Martin's disapproval of Congressman Yarmuth's actions. John voted NO on the matter and did so because of a lack of tax increases, particularly on those who can best afford it. Good work, Congressman. You were sent to Washington to listen to your constituents and vote in their best interests and in the best interests of the Republic. Yesterday's NO vote was an instance of serving those sometimes opposing interests.
Here is the text released yesterday by the congressman's office explaining his correct NO vote.
Yarmuth: Statement on Vote on Budget Control Act(Washington, DC) Tonight, Congressman John Yarmuth released the following statement in response to his NO vote on the Budget Control Act:
“Tonight, I chose to stand up for what the American people have demanded.
Throughout this politically-induced crisis, my constituents have been loud and clear: any plan to reduce our debt must protect Medicare and require millionaires, billionaires, and big oil companies to share in the sacrifice.
This plan asks nothing of the wealthy few and will inevitably lead to cuts in Medicare, education, and the investments we need to create jobs and get our economy back on track.”
Monday, August 1, 2011
"Really," you ask. "Isn't that a little uppity?" Who the hell cares what Jeff Noble has to say about the debt crisis? What makes him an expert? All good questions.
Let me offer two phenomena from the past, one a one-time occurence, the other an annual event here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.
When I was 19 years old, the Winter Olympics featured an American team in hockey whose star was Mike Eruzione, the team's captain, in their wins over the Soviet Union and Finland. Everyone I knew that winter became an expert on hockey. We all seemed to know the stats, who the left wings were, and why the Soviets were so good yet still fell to the Americans. It was a good feeling. The truth is I don't know a thing about hockey, have no idea who the stars were then or are now, but I remember the Miracle on Ice and Mike Eruzione and the American hockey gold medalists. Why? Because that's how popular culture works.
If you spend more than one year in Louisville, for at least one week or so every year in late April or early May, you will find yourself and everyone else making comments about "the latest star filly and her workout last week in the Bluegrass," or yet another fine stallion whose "lineage includes Northern Dancer" so he is a sure winner. We all become horse racing fanatics and experts for a few fleetings moments, perhaps only two minutes, prepping for the annual renewal of America's longest running horserace held on one track, the Kentucky Derby, the mile-and-a-quarter run for the roses begun in 1875. We participate in "pots" at work, send bets out to the track on Wednesday and Thursday, because even Oaks Day is getting too crowded, and we all watch in anticipation for the call late in the afternoon on the First Saturday in May, Louisville's local holiday.
So is it any surprise that the talk of the town, or to borrow the title of an NPR program, the talk of the nation, is "how do you feel about the debt ceiling stuff?" We all seem to have an opinion. Those of us who live and work and play in politics - a motley crew - get asked probably more often about such matters than the general populace, but sometimes a matter grabs the collective attention of the Republic and requires all of us to participate - or at least to pretend to do so.
Well, I have a confession. July was a particularly bad month for me in a number of ways - friends out-of-work, parents hospitalized, and the damned unrelenting heat. I have felt rather Hamlet-like, to be honest, losing interest in a number of things which normally interest me. Recall the words of Prince Hamlet, late in Act II, in a discussion with Ros and Guil, the famous "What a piece of work is man" soliloquy, to wit -
I have of late--
but wherefore I know not--
lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises;
and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that
this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory,
this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,
why, it appears no other thing to me
than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man!
how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty!
in form and moving how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
man delights not me: no, nor woman neither,
though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Now, to be sure, I'm not as deep in the morass as was Horatio's dear friend Hamlet. I've just been bored and stressed about a number of things and the debt ceiling crisis was not one of them.
Yet, I've been asked several times in the last seventy-two hours my opinion on the resolution allegedly being hammered out in the Federal City 606 miles northeast of here. My brother has asked, a woman at work who I had not seen in two months has asked, a mechanic friend who works on Poplar Level Road has asked, even a lady I didn't know inquired of both me and my friend Preston Bates our opinion as we were sharing a drink at the Bristol on Bardstown Road yesterday. She went as far as to share her 83 year old mother's opinion on the matter showing us on her phone an email she had received from dear ol' Mom. It seems we all have something to offer. Like the 1980 fanfare over the American Hockey team, everyone either wants to know your opinion or wants to share their own. It is natural and I am faulting no one. I believe - deeply believe - that most Americans mean well, even some of those with whom I share few political values.
Below is an exchange of thoughts in a chat box between me and Ed Martin, someone with whom I share some, though not many, political values. Mr. Martin and I have had quite a few exchanges of thoughts and ideas on how the Republic is and isn't properly ran. I find him for more knowledgeable than many on the subject of Economics, several classes of which I took whilst a student at the various institutions of higher learning I attended back when I was into higher learning. He cites a number of articles here and there, most more libertarian than my usual fare of reading, but many very articulate in matters related to the fiscal operation of our Republic and the World. He talks about a lot more subjects but it is his political and economic views which have caught my attention.
Many of you may remember Mr. Martin in his appearance on the KET debate during the 2010 Third Congressional District campaign. He was the independent candidate, largely a national libertarian although he didn't identify as such, against the incumbent, my friend and representative in Washington, Congressman John Yarmuth, and the Republican challenger, a UPS pilot who tried to blame his loss of work in the mid 1990s on Yarmuth's political policies, policies Yarmuth could have only begun to enact with his swearing in in 2007, over a decade later. [As a side note, Congressman Yarmuth's congressional career began the same day as did this blog]. But, I digress.
Mr. Martin is something of a social liberal, and certainly libertariansitic and fiscally conservative. He also seems to be far more intelligent than many who have wandered into the Secretary of State's office and filed for a national office, including our recently elected junior United States Senator from Kentucky. I've learned all this by following him on Facebook, where he makes his opinions widely known on a wide number of topics. I would not want to be his political handler without some abbreviation of those postings, worthy as they might be. The truth is I've learned a lot from reading them. He and the aforementioned Preston share many values; Preston and I discuss a lot of those ourselves, irrespective of Ed, and disagree on much of it. Ed and I haven't discussed as much - it is mostly me reading whatever it is he has to say - and he says a lot. One large difference is that I believe, and I may be wrong, that Ed believes there is some legitimate function for government, however large or small that it might be. Preston, at least lately, doesn't conceive of a proper role for government at all, a discussion he and I have had several times. But, again, I digress.
Below is a short exchange between Ed and me earlier today on the matter at hand, the ubiquitous debt ceiling discussion. It expresses his frustration to the present situation and my response in a rather concise way, far more concise than this stream-of-consciousness entry you've been reading thus far - assuming you are still reading. I might add that Ed and I have been very informally engaged in a dialogue cocerning him affiliating with one or the other of the major political parties.
Here is today's exchange --
Edward Martin -- Given the lack of imagination and innovation, I'd say the dems (in particular) need someone like me...more than ever. Their performance in DC was pathetic...I'm sorry to say that includes Yarmuth.
Me --- This email deserves a thoughtful response but I am not up to it at this point. I must confess I grew weary of the debt ceiling stuff and, as if an abbreviated season of Lent were upon us, gave it up for the last 40 hours or so. I have no idea what they finally did, but I am sure whatever it was, I am not happy about it. You and I disagree on the size and role of government so I doubt there could be a solution pleasing to both of us. If John [Yarmuth] didn't call for cuts associated with tax increases, and not just the elimination of loopholes, then I, too, share your displeasure in his actions. But, again being honest, I didn't follow the closing hours and, unlike you, I'm not intelligent enough to get my head around the big picture. A final thought - as you know - and apparently have been saying for some time - we did not get here overnight or over the course of a single 60% completed presidential administration. Should we honestly expect the problem to be resolved by a single action of a single Congress? I think not. I do know that some of what was voted on concerns matters in the future, specifically beyond the 2012 election. While that is certainly a good political move, it is also, probably, a good practical move. The American public will respond to this at the polls in November '12. I believe it should properly take the actions of three or four Congresses to correct the failures of the last thirty-five years. I'm beginning to think that other than Clinton our last good president fiscally, domestically, and in foreign policy was Richard Nixon.
The main idea I wish to leave you with is contained above in the line, "Should we honestly expect the problem to be resolved by a single action of a single Congress?" I think not.
So, now that you've read mine, do you have a statement on the Debt Ceiling Resolution?
After four and half years, I am adding a blog roll. These are some blogs which I visit from time-to-time, some more than others. I'll include a single sentence about each one. Most of my seven faithful readers are probably familiar with the ones I've added so far, but there will be others. Take a walk on the wild side and visit those you don't recongnise.
Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 95th birthday. Her name was Vivian "Tommie" Lewis Hockensmith (08/01/1916 - 02/18/1976).
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- Jeff Noble
- Louisville, Kentucky, United States
- Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.