Thursday, December 20, 2012

756. Solstice

Thursday, and possibly the world if pop culture has it right, comes to an end.

Finished the Yarmuth mailing and, with Michael, delivered it to the Post Office. Then had a pleasant meal at North End where neither of us apparently thought enough of it to "check-in" with the other.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days, the Winter Solstice, the feasts of Saturnalia and Yuletide, and in Wales Lá an Dreoilín. It has been borrowed by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ and is a common marker for a new year. On some calendars it is Midwinter or even the mid-year, especially for students.

The shortest day, the longest night.

So, celebrate and enjoy - here's to Best Wishes for Earth's next journey around the Sun. AMEN.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

P7. Prayers

The seventh in a series of Prayers of the People, written for the Episcopal Church of the Advent.  See Entry #736 for a full explanation.



Reader:  As we journey forward through the Lenten season, let us pray for the world and all those in need, responding to O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

For the people of your creation throughout the world, and for those who are blinded by the real and unreal issues of our time, and for those who have seen and believed, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

For all the leaders of the world, in this special season, may they use their powers and resources for moderation in our use of fossil fuels which pollute our environment, diverting our limited resources from those in need, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

For our national leaders, especially our President Barack and our military personnel, we seek the success of their goals and their safe return home from Libya, Afghanistan, and other sites of deployment, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

For ourselves to be shepherded through our decisions affecting our environment; bringing light to the creation and use of new technologies; bringing acceptance of the need to reuse, recycle, and reclaim; and exposing the unfruitful works of darkness to find all that is good and right and true, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

For the needs of your church in the Anglican Communion for the Diocese of Multan, Pakistan; in the Diocese of Kentucky for the Kentucky Council of Churches, and in the Highland Community Ministries for Immanuel United Church of Christ, and for our Presiding Bishop Katharine, our Rector Tim, our Deacon Eva, and for all those who minister in our Parish, and for those on Advent’s prayer list [names go here], in fervent hope that all these know you as their shepherd, and that goodness and mercy shall abide with us forever, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

We pray for the dying and the deceased in our family and parish, for [names go here].  Give the living your peace and consolation, and the dead a home in the Church Eternal, we pray O Lord Our Shepherd, Shine On Us!

Presider:  O God of our Earth, our temporal home, give us the light and wisdom to awake and protect our planet, to sustain it in our days and for all the days to come we pray, and to one day hear the call of Sleeper, awake!, Rise from the dead, and let Christ will shine upon you.  Amen.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

755. I was wrong - he did much better

The presidential race has finally officially ended with the posting of Florida's Electoral College votes under the Obama column, an apparent win of 55,000 votes.  This brings the president's tally to 332 to 206.  A landslide, although not of the proportion of his first win against Senator John McCain.  Those numbers were 365-173.  In 2008, then-Senator Obama garnered 69,297,997 votes to McCain's 59,597,52.  Those numbers are higher than the turnout this year which presently show the president with 61,715,465 to Governor Romney's 58,507, 338.  By either tally - the popular vote or the Electoral College, the one that counts, the 44th President of the United States has been re-elected.  Thanks Be To God.

Now, to be honest, that 332-206 tally is well above my prediction - or predictions.  One prediction had the president winning on the slimmest of margins - 270 to 268.  Then I went out on a limb and made it 271-267.  Wow was I wrong.  But, that's ok.  I erred on the side that Governor Romney did - that he would win the Independents - and he did.  What neither of us foresaw was the return to the polls of women and minorities for the president, and in particular Latinos, who wander in and out of both parties and political ideologies like the revolving door of a Wal-Mart.  Latinos voted for the president's re-election by 71%.  My guess is the Republican Party's hardlines on immigration have much to do with the swing in this body of voters.  Women voters were all over the board in the pre-election polling.  Prominent faux-pas by Republican candidates for the United States Senate helped many candidates up and down the tickets.  Women as a group had a great day with 10 new women, 9 Democrats and 1 Republican, joining the most exclusive club on earth.  When the polls closed, the president had also fared well with this decisive group of voters, receiving 55% of their ballots.

Young voters did not vote for the president in the numbers they did in 2008, but he still won the under-30 crowd, and especially in the swing states, where he improved his margins with the youth vote, of which he received 69%.

In the end, it was the swing states which won for the president.  This time they swung left with one exception, North Carolina.

My guess is the 2016 race will be much easier for the Democrats.  By that time both North Carolina and Texas will have become considerably "bluer" in political complexion.  Winning the Electoral College gets much easier if you can allocate early on the 38 votes from the Lone Star State or the 15 from North Carolina.

One more note - Kentucky.  Kentucky got redder.  In 2008 John McCain won Kentucky with 57.4% to Obama's 41.2.  Romney improved on that number getting 61% to the president's 38%.  In  some counties, the results defy reason.  Leslie County in southeastern Kentucky led the state percentage-wise for Governor Romney with  90% of the vote, 4439 to 433 - wow!  Other counties with high percentages for Romney were Owsley (87), Jackson (86), Clay (84), and several others (81).  The president carried only four counties in the Commonwealth, down from eight in 2008.  Only Jefferson gave him more than 50% with a tally of 186164 to 148415.  The other three winning for Obama were Fayette - 49 to 48%, Franklin - a near tie of 49% with the president besting Romney by 190 votes, and the always reliably Democratic Elliott County, where it was 49% to 47%.  Would these numbers were bluer.  Alas and alack.

Well, on to 2016.  At this point, I'm supporting Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland - but it's early.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

754. A wild guess

A few days back I posted my Electoral College prediction for next Tuesday's election.  That has the president winning the college vote 270 to 268 - a win is a win.

Today's entry is my prediction for the race between Congressman John Yarmuth and his Republican opponent. 

I've shared this with a few people including the congressman in a phone text sent on November 1.  There is an error in the percentages, pointed out by my friend Stuart Perelmuter, as they do not take into account any votes received by the third candidate in the race, another man whose name I cannot recall, or any write-ins.  So much for precision.

Here are my predictions for the two standard-bearers.

John Yarmuth - 211430
His Republican Opponent - 150103

Like I said, a wild guess.  We'll see.

Three more days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

753. A Constitutional discussion on Facebook

 What follows is a discussion copied from my Facebook page, one which followed a post I made about the silence of certain folks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
 First, some identification of those involved in the discussion, in order of appearance, other than me.
Thomas A. "Tony" McAdam is an attorney in downtown Louisville.  Tony and I have been friends many years.  We also disagree in large degrees as to the administration of the Republic and other issues of national concern.
Bob Layton is an attorney and Democratic Party activist in Fayette County.
Tyler Hess is in his young 20s and is an environmental activist and student of sustainable agriculture.
Dorothy Howard is a Facebook friend, the older sister of a women with whom I attended elementary and high school, and a Democrat.
Jeremy Tyler is a 25 year old libertarian/Republican supporter of Ron Paul.  He is an Econ/PoliSci graduate of the University of Louisville.
Will Cox is an attorney in Madisonville where he recently served a term as Mayor and before that as Councilman.
 Ken Stammerman is a retired State Department official, a 1965 graduate of Bellarmine College who has recently undertaken lay studies at nearby Saint Meinrad School of Theology.
Read through the arguments and comment if you wish.
  -- Jeff
My original post -- 
The small government and anti-government libertarian and Tea Party folks are noticeably quiet today. The only person we've heard from was, all of people, Bush's FEMA Director Mike "Helluva Job" Brown, who criticized President Obama for responding too quickly to Sandy, something no one accused Bush or Brown of doing with Katrina. An interesting quietude of their part.

Thomas A. McAdam James Madison is the acknowledged father of the constitution. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia. James Madison wrote disapprovingly, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." I will gladly contribute from my meager treasure to aid the sufferers of this storm, but I think it is clear that the constitution does not allow the federal government to coerce citizens into paying for disaster relief. It is not a question of compassion. It is a question of the rule of law. Either we support and defend our constitution, or we don't. And if we don't, God help us.

Jeff Noble Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 - The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

Bob Layton Now, Jeff. If you're going to actually quote the Constitution to those who say they're defenders of the Constitution, it's just going to cause all kinds of problems. Next you'll be expecting them to actually read the Constitution they're defending!

Tyler Hess I'm definitely fine with not supporting the Constitution Tom. I don't support it on its unacknowledgement of the rights of more than half of this country. Written by elitist white men, it is a document that is old and putrid for use in the 21st century. I am for a society based on moral interdependence of social human beings, rather than an abstract wrinkly racist piece of paper.

Dorothy Howard Yep! Jeff, I wish more folks would read the whole constitution. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I am so sick and tired of people who claim they love their country and all the time go around hating on the best aspects of our country...

Thomas A. McAdam James Madison advocated for the ratification of the Constitution in The Federalist and at the Virginia ratifying convention upon a narrow construction of the clause, asserting that spending must be at least tangentially tied to one of the other specifically enumerated powers, such as regulating interstate or foreign commerce, or providing for the military, as the General Welfare Clause is not a specific grant of power, but a statement of purpose qualifying the power to tax.

Thomas A. McAdam In fairness, I should add that in the last 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has tended to agree with Jeff's broad interpretation of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1. More's the pity.

Jeff Noble Hat tip.

Dorothy Howard Well....Thomas, when you are mugged don't call those tax funded police, when your house is on fire don't call those tax funded firemen, when you fly on an airplane don't expect the tax funded air traffic controllers to keep you out of harms way, etc.

Thomas A. McAdam And, I am sorry Tyler does not support our constitution. That is his right, but I'm not sure he can call himself a loyal American if he refuses to protect and defend the constitution.

Thomas A. McAdam Dorothy unwittingly confabulates the police powers of the states (health, welfare, safety & morals) with those limited and enumerated powers of the federal government. My argument is that the national government does not have the constitutional authority to provide disaster relief. Clearly, the states have that authority.

Jeff Noble Tyler, while I agree with you that the document was written by the hands and minds of privileged white men in the 18th Century, by design it is a flexible instrument. It is why, as Mr. McAdam points out above, recent interpretations are different from what may have been acceptable in the 1780s. That judicial review is not implicit in the Constitution left open the question of how to defend the Constitution. That was answered by the Court itself in 1803 in Marbury v. Madison. Since that day, the Constitution has been a breathing, living document able to be interpreted by the women and men serving on the Court in contemporary times, whenever those times may be. What is acceptable and Constitutional today may be overturned in 1, 5, or 30 years. The design works, albeit sometimes too slow and at other times too fast. The Republic has not lasted 237 years by clinging to an inoperable and unchangeable Constitution. It has survived by being changeable.

Dorothy Howard  Perhaps....but one could also argue that providing disaster releif is providing for the common defense.

Jeremy Tyler I'm never sure when I say that something is not constitutional, why it is that people resort to bringing up police and fireman, as if that has anything to do with the constitution other than it being something that the state handles. 

Democratic President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill in 1887 that would have provided seed for farmers in drought-stricken Texas. In his veto message he stated: 

"I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people." 

He also said that aid from Washington only "encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character." He then offered money from himself personally to help the farmers.  

Jeff Noble . . . or the general welfare.

Dorothy Howard So shall we do away with the FBI, Secret Service, ATF, Border Patrol, etc?

Jeff Noble It can be safely assumed, based on their statements in this thread, that McAdam and Jeremy differ with the Court's 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison.

Thomas A. McAdam Not everything we may want the government to provide for us is authorized by our constitution. We can alter it, of course (and have done so many times), but if we abandon it, we do so at our peril. The constitution not only insures our rights and freedom, but it protects us from a tyrannical and oppressive government. If we destroy its limitations, we also lose its protections. We are either a nation of laws, or a nation of men. Which would you prefer?

Jeff Noble That's from the Jaycee creed. I remember it. The answer is a hybrid. We are a nation of laws written and agreed to by men and women.

Will Cox So "Brownie" is criticizing the President for moving TOO quickly??? Really?? You can't make that stuff up ...

Thomas A. McAdam I respect Jeff's view of constitutional history, but I must warn against the "living and breathing" metaphor. The framers had recent experience with tyranny, and intended the constitution to be amendable, but otherwise immutable. In my lifetime, the courts have stretched the constitution to discover a "right of privacy" that allows a woman to kill her unborn child ("emanations from a penumbra"), and have allowed governments to seize private property for private (not public) use. Stretched to the point of breaking. As Thomas Moore said, in A Man For All Seasons: "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

Jeremy Tyler If you look at many of the constitutional conventions when the constitution was going through to process to be ratified, many of the people that were skeptical were assured over and over again by the federalists that the necessary clause, interstate commerce clause, and general welfare clause was not to be broadly interpreted and were only to be applied by the specific powers that were enumerated to the Federal government. Even then the skeptics demanded the Bill of rights to be passed for further security. 

Jeff, yes you're right. I never cared much for John Marshall. 

Dorothy, some of those departments could be argued for defense. But I also think some of those cause more insecurity than security. I also could see a argument where those would not be allowed when following the constitution, especially considering some of the trouble some departments have caused.

Jeremy Tyler Jeff and Thomas on the comment about being governed by men. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” James Madison, Federalist Paper 51.

Ken Stammerman We are a community, living under a living Constitution that means what the Supreme Court says it means, taking the broad principles written into it by the founders and reinterpreting them in a world the founders could never have imagined. With wise judges named to the bench, the Executive can both be empowered to innovate on matters unthought of centuries ago, and limited in its ability to intrude on citizens' rights in ways unimaginable in those days. The Legislature should have the wisdom to consent or reject justices who will respect personal freedoms while not tying the executive in a straitjacket of limitations on government action suitable to a nation of a landed aristocracy and yeomen farmers. The Constitution has been amended to remove provisions in the original, which saw a nation, for example, allowing human bondage and limiting suffrage by wealth and gender. As well, it expanded the power of the Executive to tax via the income tax. But in a fast-paced modern world, the ambiguities written into the Constitution by, for example, the 14th Amendment and the commerce clause, allow the flexibility for the Court to move faster than the amendment process would ever have allowed in outlawing Jim Crow or permitting the economic policies of the New Deal. And that is as it should be.

Thomas A. McAdam How fortunate Jeff is, to have so many clever and articulate friends. A seeker of wisdom and truth could ask for nothing more.

Thomas A. McAdam Actually, I find myself in agreement with Ken's summary of constitutional evolution. Must check my meds.

Jeff Noble True. I was just thinking the same thing as to our clever and articulate friends. And, importantly, the two Tyler's in this discussion, Jeremy Tyler and Tyler Hess, are young men, among the next generation of women and men to whom our collective futures are entrusted. We are fortunate for their concern and interest, irrespective of whether we agree with their positions. While I am throwing accolades at Tyler's and our future, I'd be remiss not to include another one, Tyler Montell.

Thomas A. McAdam I find a certain amount of comfort in Jeff's observation that the future of our republic, after all, just might be in good hands. My generation has not been so successful. Good luck, guys!

Friday, October 26, 2012

752. 270-268.

I've been playing with these Electoral College maps all summer. All of my predictions have had the president being re-elected with either 270, 271, or 272 Electoral College votes. I've decided this is my final map and the president wins with 270.

I have him winning California, Connecticut, Delaware, D. C., Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. And he may not win the popular vote. Thoughts?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

751. On the passing of Melanie Denise Lewis


We buried Melanie today.  She was 40.  Melanie was the mother of two of my three nieces and two of my three nephews.  She and my brother had an off-again, on-again relationship for nearly twenty years.  It wasn't all pretty and it wasn't all bad.  Melanie had demons like all of us and the cause of her death at such a young age may have been related to one of those demons.  Ultimately it was a stroke which ended her young life.

Over the years, Melanie was sometimes quiet around me but never rude.  I can attest that she was a good cook.  For a few years, she and my brother lived in my home - and I never went hungry.  Later, when they lived on Harlan Avenue, I was often treated to a plate of fried chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes, greens, and lots of other good cooking.  I never turned it down; it was always good.

But I know she caused problems for my brother over the years.  For most of the last ten years, he has raised the youngest three of their children on his own.  While she wasn't present in the house, she was never far off, never more than a few blocks away.  She saw her children on a regular basis, including the day before she fell ill with the stroke.

It is never good when a parent has to bury their child as Melanie's mother, Vera, did today.  Nor can it be good that my youngest nieces and nephews, ages 9, 11, 13, and 17 today laid their mother to rest.  It was very sad.  While there are lots of reasons to wish this day had never happened, she is now at peace.

May her soul and the souls of all the departed rest - rest in peace.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

750. Biden v. Ryan, briefly

That was a very good debate. And, to be honest, the congressman presented well. But his good presentation presented very little in the way of real plans or real reforms. I'm reminded of something my high school English teacher, Brenda Risner, wrote in my senior year book, taken from Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" comparing Substance versus Superficiality. The substance in this debate, time and time again, came from the Vice President. Yes, I am biased, but clearly Biden won this very well contested discussion. The president must be proud and confident, but also feeling a little upstaged by his Second-In-Command. Way to go, Joe!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

749. Reflections

It has been not quite a month since I've written.  The entries are getting further apart than I have ever intended.  Two, maybe three, things are driving this - my general ennui about much of everything and not feeling well at all, something that has been going on since well before the last entry.  And then there is Facebook, an instant gratification vehicle for writers in search of an audience, something all writers are in search of or we wouldn't be writing.

So, let this entry serve as a catch-up of things, and a reflection of those things.  I had prepared but not posted a different entry #749 entitled "Charlotte on a whim."  Its purpose was to explain how I came about attending the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the first few days after Labor Day.  That entry, if posted, would have included a discussion about the drive to and from the destination, which took me, briefly, from Louisville to Lexington to Knoxville to Asheville to Charlotte.  The return trip was similar but, in keeping with the well-established rules, not exactly the same path.

While the entire visit was fun, there were highlights.  I got to meet, for the second time, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, whom I had met the first time in 2010 not long after his election.  But his role in national politics has risen considerably since that first meeting at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio.  Naturally, indulging in Facebook-instant gratification, I posted a picture of the handsome young mayor taken in front of the Capital Lounge, an upscale eatery at 2nd and Tryon streets in downtown Charlotte.  Hanging out with my congressman, John Yarmuth, I got to meet a few members of the House and one member of the Senate, Al Franken of Minnesota, and, again, there is a Facebook pic.  It was all a happy event.

My return home and subsequent weeks were fairly uneventful leading up to what would be yet another birthday on September 23rd, my 52nd.  As many of my seven faithful readers know, I do like to celebrate birthdays, or birthweeks, or even birthmonths if I can get away with it.  That had been my plan.


Earlier today I drove out to Evergreen Cemetery, a well-established tract of land just south of the Watterson Expressway along the eastside of Preston Highway, first established about 100 years ago.  My purpose was to find the grave of a dear friend, Curtis Lee Heckel, who was buried Monday.  I had attended his visitation on Sunday but could not make the funeral the next day.  Curtis, who was 24, died in an automobile accident very early Wednesday morning, September 19th.  The accident occurred on IN60 near Carrwood Road just outside the town of Borden, Indiana in northern Clark County.  One other person was killed and two others were injured.

All the happiness of the previous month evaporated in an instant with his death.  I had seen him about seven hours prior to his death at the downtown McDonald's at 2nd and Broadway.  He was with the other three persons who were still with him the next morning.  While he wasn't driving, it was his car which crossed the center line headed eastbound (back toward Louisville) and was struck by two different oncoming vehicles.  I visited the site Friday afternoon looking, darkly, for mementos, one of which had a connection between the two of us which I located in the weeds along the roadside.

I had not visited a crash site in over 21 years.  The last one was located at the intersection of Standiford Lane and Preston Highway, immediately in front of Evergreen Cemetery where Curt has been laid to rest.  That was for another friend, Rob Spears, killed in an automobile accident early on a Wednesday morning, July 24, 1991.  I have never forgotten Rob in all of these years and often visit his gravesite at Rest Haven Cemetery in southcentral Jefferson County.

The bend in the road where Curt lost his life is one I have seen many times over the years, including once with Rob 22 years ago.  My brother lived in Borden for a while and I visited him several times.  On one of those occasions, Rob, at my brother's request, drove my brother's 1986 Firebird back to my house from Kevin's mobile home.  Another friend, Keith Dickerson, lived in Borden off and on for a while as he worked the farmlands up on top of Saint John Hill, home to the various orchards of the intermingled Stumler and Huber families.  Again, I made the trek back and forth several time between here and there.  I always notice the highway sign on westbound (but technically northbound) IN60, right after IN111 comes to an end at Bennettsville.  It reads "Borden 9, Salem 23."  Those two numbers represent my birthday.  A small thing, but the sign remains.  I noticed it again as I went to see the site where Curt died.  I will miss him.  I still miss Rob.  Rest In Peace, Curtis Lee Heckel.  Good night, sweet prince.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

748. A Tale of Two Pauls

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

So begins a magnum opus of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.  You may have, as I did, read (all or) part of it in high school or college literature.  It is, like most Dickensian works, a meandering tale with a heavy dose of woe, set against the national backdrop of the time, in this case the French Revolution.  The two cities are London - where things are mostly good, and Paris - where things aren't.

Using a bit of blogospheric license, I've adapted that title to this entry concerning the present Republican Party.  And using the preamble of the book above, it is clear that the GOP is encountering - or, perhaps, enduring, the best and worst of times.  There is certainly some truth to the final phrase, "the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

The hyperbole from both sides of the aisle is flowing freely this week.  As a Democrat, I'll choose to be critical of the Republicans at this time.  I may take up some criticism of my own Party, which certainly has its own problems, at a later date.  The operative word in the previous sentence is may.  It is my blog; I may not.

Yesterday the Republicans formally nominated their favored son, Mitt Romney, as their nominee - how deep the favor runs is thought by many to be "not very."  The truth is he isn't.  The Republican Party, whose tent has grown in some degree and shrunk in another, now seems to have two favored sons, neither of whom is their nominee for president.  One of them was, or perhaps still is, a candidate for president, while the other is presently seeking - at the same time - two federal offices, one of congressman, the other as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate.  The former celebrated his 77th birthday last week; the latter, if he is elected vice president, would turn 43 the week after his inauguration.

The irony is that the younger of the two has the strong support of the majority of the old line of the Party, thus ensuring his place on the ticket.  The base for the older, however, is a mostly younger, more independent and libertarian crowd, and in a few other respects far out of lockstep with the national Party, something they learned last night isn't encouraged now or in the future as the convention approved rule changes making it harder for non-traditional candidates to amass delegates, something their hero did to the tune of 190 votes.

The question is this - as the national Republican Party recedes more deeply into the most conservative of corners of the political prism, it does seal the support of many across a broad spectrum of ideologies within the Party, pushing those with less conservative and more moderate views into a camp and creed where they may find comfort in this campaign against this particular Commander-In-Chief, but one wonders if they can keep them content for the next quadrennial contest.

Then there is the other camp.  It is college-age in general and on board because of a personality, one which has been around since I was their age, capturing imaginations for the future, but also one which has pushed not necessarily to the right but toward the apolitical, or even the fringes, dare I say, of the anarchic.  I know a few in this camp.  I recently queried one, a recently married 24 year old with a degree in Economics and History, as to his identification with the Republican Party.  His response was, in part, "I don't give two shits about the Republican Party . . . . "  My belief is he isn't the only one in his current camp who feels this way.  Another friend, who two years ago left the Democratic Party, has recently told me he may return.

It isn't that these young folks - people who will be running the Republic one day - are anymore comfortable in my Party than they are in their current one; it is rather my Party has a wide enough berth in its beliefs and its adherence or non-adherence to those beliefs that they may be more comfortable.  (I will add here that I am very aware of some in my Party who are just as intolerant of the Republicans and other conservatives and they seem to be of us.  That isn't part of the plan but it is a reality which must be admitted to.)

Thus, as the Republican nominee and his running mate make their way out of Tampa amid the pomp and circumstance of a national convention and into the nitty-gritty of the last seventy days of a campaign, it remains to be seen if theirs will be a tale of the two Pauls, or if one is jettisoned along the way, along with its cadre of young and enthusiastic supporters.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . . . ."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

746. Lunatics At Large

Some of my seven faithful readers may recall this entry's name as that of a play written by James Reach in 1936 and performed at least once here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 by the thespian troupe in the Class of 1976 at my high school alma mater, Sallie Phillips Durrett High School, in its erstwhile location on Preston Highway.  It was a grand play complete with a butler who may (or may not) have been the murderer.  But this entry isn't about that.

This entry is about the word itself, lunatics, with an etymology related to the moon, from the old Latin word luna.  It is also related to other "l" words such as lumen, lux, and light.  Those who are followers or worshippers of the moon, or specifically moonlight, have been known to be called lunatics, although not in the best of light.  Ha!  Last night as I sat with friends enjoying a sarsaparilla at one of those Baxter Avenue shebeens (although this one was licensed), we discussed the upcoming phase of the moon, the full moon.  But, first, something else.

Tomorrow, August 1, is a holiday of sorts in the pagan world, and extended into the non-pagan world, especially in the British Isles.  It is Lammas Day, a feast of the first wheat harvest.  The word itself is a contraction of sorts, on Loaf and Mass, thus the wheat harvest yielded a loaf of bread, something for which to be thankful.  Another bit of trivia related to the day is that one of the Bard's most famous characters was born on Lammas Day Eve, which is today.  Do you know who she was?

Tomorrow also marks a full moon, the "full sturgeon moon" at least in America, so named for the fish which are abundantly caught during the month, especially in the Great Lakes of the great midwest.  Having a full moon on August 1 will also afford one of those moons we've all heard of but may not really know what they are.  "Once in a blue moon!"  You've heard the expression, no doubt, meaning "not very often."  The name has come to be applied to the third of four full moons within a quarter of the lunar year.  In lay terms, that is usually interpreted as a second full moon in any given month.  August 31 will bring us a second full moon for the month of August, a blue moon according to the legend.

To begin a month and end a month with full moons is certainly something to be celebrated, notwithstanding the pagan celebration of Lammas Day, also tomorrow.

Need something more to celebrate, at least on August 1?  My maternal grandmother, Vivian "Tommie" Hockensmith, was born on this date in 1916.  She died in 1976.  Another dear friend of most of my life, Mary-John Celletti, will also be celebrating the anniversary of her nativity tomorrow.  I know the year of her birth, but, alas, I'll keep it to myself for now. 

Happy Lammas Eve!  Celebrate. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

745. Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District, St. Louis, New Hampshire, and Iowa

Clearly, there is a thread of wanderlust in my postings - wandering through county highways and rural backroads, and the occasional longer trip to Washington, DC at 606 miles in 9 hours and 23 minutes, or to Kentucky's annual summer political event, Fancy Farm, which at 237 miles sometimes seems to be even farther and takes longer.  But my seven faithful readers know that most of journeys are within the borders of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, my native state, my resides state (to use an adjective mostly found in reference to where one normally attends classes in the Jefferson County Public Schools system).

There have been a few times in my life that I've thought about leaving Kentucky but I've always found a reason (or excuse) to stay, putting off dreams, short-changing new opportunities at the expense of a comfortable surrounding not too far away from Mom's house.  That isn't, however, the advice I offer to my friends, especially my younger friends.  My advice to them has always been to go and see and do things elsewhere, outside your comfort zone, and perhaps outside the comfort zone of others.  Outside of reading about new and different places in a book as a good education, the better one is to go experience those things for yourself firsthand.

Back in the winter months, a dear friend of mine did just that, charting for himself a political path that has taken him to New England, South Carolina, and Nevada in a presidential campaign thought by some to be quixotic; and then later in Texas and, notably, Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District not working for a campaign but rather for one of those SuperPACs we've all come to know and hate.  He began this journey just shy of his 23rd birthday with my strong encouragement.  And while I have not been pleased with the political ramifications of his work - we don't agree on politics - I am impressed with his ambition and happy for his future that he has undertaken such wandering.  He has also learned that notoriety, something you gain by doing and being different and especially if your doing and being is successful as his has been, works both ways, something they don't teach you in college.  I've been on him for some time to finish college, but I am acutely aware that he is getting a great education through his current travels.

Another friend, 23 earlier this year, has for the summer only, as he will be commencing law school next month, taken a similar jaunt, this one to Saint Louis - specifically Webster Groves, 270 miles almost due west of Louisville along I-64.  He, too, is engaged in political work, in this case for the reelection of the 44th President of the United States, an effort I strongly support.  Missouri, where he is working, was hoping to have a more active role in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, a role it has played in the past but is doing less so this time around.  Saint Louis was one of the cities in the running for this year's Democratic National Convention but lost out to Charlotte, North Carolina, a city located in one of the nine infamous swing states, where most if not all of the remaining 2012 campaign for president will decided.  Similarly, Washington University in Saint Louis, which has been a national debate site for two decades, finds itself debate-less in this cycle.  Still, the work my friend is engaged in is far bigger than the 2012 presidential election.  It will gain for him an insight into life and work and friends and opportunities in a new place, as well as memories for a lifetime.  And, there has to be some satisfaction in being able to say "I was a staffer in the president's re-election campaign."  Very few political types, at any level, will ever be able to utter those words.

Yet another friend who just turned 32, someone I've known about eight years, a native of Spencer County and graduate of the University of Kentucky, has left the warm and stormy weather here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 for the cooler and more comfortable climes of New Hampshire.  Unlike the previous two in this essay, I'm not too clear for whom or what he is working in the state and I had no role in his plan.  New Hampshire is an interesting state politically, although like Missouri, getting less so.  Geographically, the western and southwestern parts of the state lean Democratic and the northern and southeastern parts Republican.  It looks to be a Red State this November if present polling is correct.  Governor Romney's candidacy is bolstered by that of Ovide Lamontagne, the Republican candidate for governor, who is far better known to the electorate than others (in any party) seeking the governor's office.  Maybe my friend is there to address that - I really do not know.  He has worked in presidential and other federal campaigns all across the country over the years.  What I do know is that he is on his way to another adventure.

Finally, another friend, in his early 40s, is packing up an old Jeep van, one he just bought three days ago, and is preparing a drive to Ames, Iowa.  Ames, Iowa and Washington, DC are nearly the exact same distance from Louisville, but the similarity ends there.  Ames is dead center in the state, located about 30 miles north of the capital at Des Moines.  It is a college town, home to Iowa State University.  And it tends to be a swing-city politically, but unlike all the other places above, swings, if at all, just slightly to the Democrats.  Ames is also, since the 2010 Congressional redistricting, now in Iowa's 4th Congressional District.  Iowa lost a district in that process and the "new 4th" while drastically changed is still largely a safe Republican district.  Running for re-election to the Congress from that district is the current 5th District Congressman Steve King.  Chances are, if you are one of my regular readers, Congressman King has at one time or another, and in all likelihood on several different occasions, offended you.  Pick a subject, any subject, and he has made offensive remarks on the matter.  My friend is going there to work for a SuperPAC, one which seeks to end Congressman King's congressional career.  My best wishes to them and my friend on that assignment.  One person they might find as a friend in this campaign, maybe, is a name, maybe, familiar to readers of the Courtier-Journal and Louisville Times, Michael Gartner.  Mr. Gartner served as the first post-Bingham years editor of the Once Great Newspaper, but has since returned to his home state in his retirement years.  There he serves on the Iowa Board of Regents overseeing most of the state's higher educational institutions, is part-owner of a baseball team - always a good sign, and also operates an alternative weekly called Cityview, a la LEO, in Des Moines.  My guess is they don't like Steve King either.

The whole point of this post is not only to keep you informed on some of the movements of certain friends, but also to encourage my readers (and, hopefully me, too) to reach out, take chances, do and see and experience what you can while you can when you can.  For these four friends, the what, while, and when is now.

Happy Trails. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

744. Rest In Peace, Rob

Twenty-one years.

Rob Spears, 1973-1991.

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

Friday, July 13, 2012

743. A little more Louisville street trivia

This one may be too easy.  Curtis Morrison thought the last one was easy and quickly responded with an incorrect answer.

There are, to my knowledge, four answers to the following question.

Louisville is well known for streets which change names here and there.  We've previously written about such changes.  Most of the street name changes are at an intersection with some other street or, perhaps, a railroad.  Examples are Frankfort Avenue to Shelbyville Road (at Breckenridge Lane or Meridian Avenue), Breckenridge Lane to Chenoweth Lane (at Frankfort Avenue/Shelbyville Road), Baxter Avenue to Newburg Road (at Shady Lane) and Newburg Road to Buechel Bank Road (at Shepherdsville Road), Mt. Holly Road to West Manslick Road (at Fairdale Road), East Manslick Road to South Park Road (at Preston Highway), and Preston Street to Preston Highway (at Clark's Lane).  There are many others.  Some other of the name changes are the effects of road realignments.  Examples here include Saint Andrews Church Road to Greenwood Road (at Dixie Highway), 7th Street Road to Manslick Road and its companion, Berry Boulevard to 7th Street Road, Hill Street to Burnett Avenue (at Preston Street), and River Road to Bingham Way, technically an entirely new intersection that didn't exist before the realignment (and closure) of River Road from 1st Street to Preston Street.

Today's little quiz has four answers, or so I believe.  Here is the question:  Which streets change names in between intersections, that is in the course of the road after having intersected one street and before having intersected another?  the middle of a block, between two other street intersection, but not at an intersection.  One of these four sets of street names arguably doesn't fit because there should be a street where the name changes, it just doesn't exist.  Technically, the fourth one isn't really a name change.

So, what are the three (and arguably four) sets of names?  And, don't pull a Curtis and make a quick guess, unless you know you are right.  Although, to be fair, Curtis should get one of these right off the bat.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

742. A little Louisville street trivia

There is only one answer to the question "which Louisville street intersects the following numbered streets in the following order - 4th, 5th, 9th, 7th?"  What is it?

P6. The sixth in a series of Prayers of the People

(The sixth in a series.  See entry #736 for an explanation)



O Holy God, we seek your guidance for ourselves and our world, praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

We pray for the people of the whole world, and for their leaders.  We pray for those involved with the conflicts and resolutions of northern Africa and the Middle East.  We pray for our own government leaders, for our president Barack, and for the members of our legislatures in Washington, Frankfort, and downtown at City Hall.  Guide these women and men to whom is entrusted our health, our mutual covenants, our planned and unplanned futures, praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

We pray for the entirety of your creation, for those who believe and those who wonder.  We pray for your church and its leaders and ministers, its people and its programs.  In the Anglican Communion, we pray for The Church of Wales.  In the Diocese of Kentucky, we pray for Christ Church, Bowling Green.  In the Highland Community Ministries, we pray for Douglass Boulevard Church of Christ.  For the inter- and intra- connectiveness of these ministers and their missions, we seek the understanding and ability for their successes; praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

We pray for the people of Advent Parish, for our rector Tim, our deacon Eva, our musicians and choir and their leader Bryan, and for all involved in the outreach and other programs of our church.  We pray for our neighbors along Baxter Avenue and Broadway, and for those we know and those who pass by, and especially for those we'll never know.  Understanding that one measure of the health and wealth of a community is the efforts, achievements, and successes of the least of its people, we ask your leading hand upon all these in our midst, praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

We pray for all those in need: for the unemployed and underemployed, for the unrepresented, the unheard, and the unbelievers.  We also pray for those in need of healing, of comfort, of peace.  We pray especially for those who appear on our prayer-list, for [names go here].  Here we may add aloud or in silence our ouwn needs and prayers.  Praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

Finally we pray for those who have died and those they've left behind, including [Advent deceased names go here], knowing that while their physical bodies are no longer with us, that their successes and failings and family and friends remain as part of their mark on this earth, and that together with them we will one day live in eternity, praying Lord of all people, Hear Us!

Celebrant:  O God of Grace and Mercy, you have created for us the foundation by which to make our lives good and great.  Be with this congregation as we work to fulfill your commandments to go the extra mile, offer alms to the beggar, and to be charitable in every way with all those around us, in order to be perfect as your Son was perfect.  Amen.

741. My Local Lunch Post which originally appeared at

My friend Cindy Lamb writes for various media around town including  A few days ago she asked if I would write a column for her Friday post, called TGIF Local Lunch Post.  I did and she printed it.  I've reprinted it below.

TGIF Local Lunch Post – Dining Guest Jeff Noble Reflects and Recommends

July 6, 2012
My friend Jeff Noble steps up to the plate this week to offer some dining suggestions as well as taking us on a nostalgic tour of Louisville establishments gone by.
While still buoyant with the spirit of Independence Day, I thought it would be fitting to invite someone who is passionate about the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the city of Louisville. Jeff is known as a tireless volunteer and serves his community and local government with both traditional and progressive values.

He works as a legislative aide to Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson (D-26) and serves as a political advisor to many local Democratic campaigns, most recently Fischer for Mayor and, since 2006, Yarmuth for Congress. His blog, “Ohio River, Left Bank, MP 606″ is  subtitled  "Musings of a political, social, cultural, religious and/or historical nature…" and is worth a visit. Jeff lives in Butchertown and is known for taking a fine cigar out for a long walk.
I asked him to recall some of his culinary memories of Louisville as well as current  favorite hangs for the midday meal. Enjoy this stroll! I’m sure many readers will find they have a lot in common with our guest.

“As someone who doesn’t cook at all – except an occasional pot of chili – I do a lot of eating out.  Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I learned the pleasures of bar food from my grandfather, Dan Hockensmith.  He believed the best food in any town could be had at the local VFW or American Legion.  We often ate chili at the Okolona or Frankfort VFW halls.  Today, my favorite bowl of chili comes from The Rush Inn, a little tavern at the corner of Brownsboro Road and Mellwood Avenue.  The bar is locally owned and operated by Jeff, although I do not know his last name.  The chili is a little peppery with the distinction of being made with pasta instead of noodles.  I don’t like noodles in my chili, but I do love the peppery pasta-chili at The Rush Inn, usually with a grilled cheese sandwich and a can of sarsaparilla.

Another thing we did was visit the few ethnic restaurants that dotted the landscape.  There weren’t many that I remember.  Codispoti’s was an Italian eatery on Preston Highway, just south of Fern Valley Road, back when both roads were two lanes wide.  The Lotus, an Oriental place, was on Dixie Highway around Nobel Place north of Shively.  The building is still there, a concrete block structure on the west side of the road.  Today’s map is covered with the tastes of the world.  While I am partial to Middle Eastern and Indian foods, my newest favorite non-American cuisine is found at the Vietnam Kitchen on S. 3rd Street, in what could be described as Louisville’s Vietnamese neighborhood.  I’m partial to curries of any kind and they have one, #F9 on the menu, a chicken curry with potatoes, onions, green beans, and broccoli that is out of this world.

Typically when out with friends, my menu choices turn to seafood.  Back in the old days, good seafood was to be had at the now defunct Cape Codder on St. Rita Drive in Okolona, or maybe Kingfish, downtown on 4th or out Upper River Road in a location which I have lost in my memory.  Both locations have been gone for decades, the downtown one moving from 4th over to 6th only to be torn down again to make way for the Ali Center.  The Upper River Road location has moved across the street and closer to town next to the Water Tower.  My favorite fish sandwich until recently was at Third Avenue Café.  This neat little place, with Elvis at the door, closed last year without notice.  I’m still looking for Louisville’s best fish sandwich.

Finally, sweets.  My other grandfather, U. G. Noble, operated bakeries in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, one on Colorado Avenue and the other on Poplar Level Road.  The last Noble’s Bakery closed in 1972.  Back then there were lots of family ran bakeries with old-fashioned doughnuts.  Patterson’s in Highview, Okolona, Plehn’s in St. Matthews, Heitzman’s in Schnitzelburg, Kraus’ downtown on 4th, and others including Klein’s on Preston at Lynn Street.  Old Mrs. Klein died in 2004 and the bakery is now called Nord’s, and features all the same old-fashioned baked goods I knew growing up.  It is my favorite local bakery and with a Sunergos Coffee shop immediately next door, the duo make for a ‘fine dining’ experience.”


Thanks for joining us on this Noble  journey and kudos to you all for feeding the local economy! Visit TGIF Local Lunch Post on Facebook to share restaurant news or recipes. Take care, stay cool, and have a great weekend!

Thanks, Cindy.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

740. Facebook exchange on Socialism

I posted this cartoon to my Facebook page earlier today which prompted a question from Mrs. Risner, known to my seven faithful readers as one of my favorite and most influential teachers in high school.   Mrs. Risner and I did not agree politically when I had her in 10th and 12th grades and nothing has changed.  She was the first real Republican I ever knew, other than my father.  She was a Reagan supporter in 1976 when he challenged the appointed incumbent Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination for president.

Below is her question and my response:

Brenda Risner Okay, Jeff, how do you and the cartoonist define socialism? While you're at it, give me the left's definition of facism and of communism. I really do want to know.

Jeff Noble
Mrs. Risner, first, I cannot speak for the cartoonist. Now, let's face it - the sign on the left is correct - "Obamacare is Socialism." Socialism, in some form, has formed the basis for what had been the most successful years of our Republic, often called the Greatest Century, although it was really only about 70 years. From the mid 1930s to about fifteen years ago, through various forms of socialism, America became the light shining on the hill to which Ronald Reagan famously referred. Because of high employment and high taxes - broad participation on the income side, America could afford Medicare and Social Security to seniors; Medicaid, Unemployment, and food stamps to the poor; farm subsidies and electrification to rural communities; and community block development grants and revenue sharing (both programs introduced by Nixon) to urban areas - broad participation on the outgo side. This is the best of Socialism if such a thing exists. Then, starting with California's Proposition 13 in 1978 and followed by Reagan's edict that government was not the solution but the problem, we began to turn our backs on our fellow Americans in favor of rugged individualism and entrepreneurship. We evolved away from "We, the People," certainly a socialist idea, into one of greed and me-ism, of government and control by the rich and the few, a form, ironically (a word I learned in your class), of communism. Corporations in search for profits moved their operations out of the country, taking away jobs and tax revenues. Simultaneously, we began undoing our tax system with lower and lower taxes to where today we are at our lowest overall tax levels since before the Great Depression. The result is we no longer are and no longer can be Reagan's light shining on the hill because we aren't interested in paying for it. We've traded a form of socialism - economic participation by and for the many - in for communism - economic participation by and for the few. If one were to align the political parties along side forms of socialism and communism, my party would (and has) fallen into the former category while your party has, since Reagan, fallen into the latter. Reagan, of course, provides another irony. As the hero of the right, his borrow-and-spend policies have largely been forgotten. Admittedly his borrowing-and-spending led to the downfall of communism in Europe and Asia, but it also has led to a different kind here in the states. He wasn't worried about those borrow-and-spend policies since in his mind the end justified the means, and perhaps it did. But rather than delve into an exercise of "rugged individualism" to correct his deficit worries, he left that to Tip O'Neil and the Democratic congress while he was in office as well as to "Read My Lips"" Bush, who ultimately paid the political price for Reagan's failed economic policies. My side of the aisle can accept its role in the successful use of socialism in this country as it worked from Roosevelt to about 1992. Can your side of the aisle accept the greed and centralization of capital it has fostered, a form of communism, power over the many by the few, in the same manner?
Your thoughts are appreciated in the Comments section below.

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.