Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Back to the future

When Jamie Comer recently announced that he would be announcing that he'll be announcing his run for governor in next year's race, Ronnie Ellis' coverage of the pre-pre-announcement announcement mentioned something that haunted Kentucky's last Republican governor, and will no doubt be an elephant in the room should either Comer or Hal Heiner emerge victorious next November.

Ellis speculates that Comer will make his preliminary announcement at Fancy Farm and his formal announcement in his hometown of Tompkinsville, the seat of Monroe County in the heart of Kentucky's GOP-leaning Old 5th congressional district.

The columnist takes a trip down memory lane and mentions 2003 Republican nominee Ernie Fletcher getting questions while campaigning in Tompkinsville about why state government discriminated against Republicans in hiring for state civil service jobs, and what he would do about it.

In recalling that episode, Ellis mentions a fact the Democrats would prefer we forget. So much so that they have scrubbed all public references to a study commissioned during the Fletcher administration that confirmed how under previous Democrat governors, the state had favored Democrats over Republicans in hiring for jobs that are supposed to be free of political influence.

The story mentions that while voter registration runs 7.5-1 in favor of Republicans in Monroe County, employment at the local state highway garage favored Democrats by nearly twice that margin, 13-1. And as a report issued by a state-appointed commission revealed, that phenomenon was repeated in virtually every county with a GOP majority.

We don't need to recount what happened during the Fletcher administration. That's a matter of history, even if that history has been totally distorted by the Democrat sympathizers in the Kentucky press. It's a fact that Democrats played games with patronage hiring, yet cried foul when Republicans tried to end that process. It's a fact that hiring managers spoke in code, saying applicants had to be "the right religion" to be considered for a job, or their political operatives outright told Republicans that they'd have to change their registration if they hoped to be hired. It's a fact that mid-level managers in the state bureaucracy continued to run a patronage system in the Fletcher administration, basing their hiring decisions on the wishes of the local Democrat power brokers instead of appointees within their own departments.

We don't believe in quota systems, but we have no trouble seeing how something fishy was up, not only just in Monroe County but all across the Old 5th and in other Republican counties. As the persecution of the Fletcher administration dragged on, his Department of Personnel produced research showing how the registration of state employees was heavily skewed toward the Democrats even in counties where Republicans dominated the total voter registration rolls.

After Steve Beshear took over, all references to that Blue Ribbon Commission's report were scrubbed from Personnel's website and other state records. We'd bet that if you wrote the Personnel Cabinet today and made an open records request for those documents, you'd be told the state no longer is in possession of them.

Ending the political discrimination against hiring in state government was a major concern for Fletcher's constituency. Had he not addressed their desires, his term would have been even more hampered because of the support he would have lost from within his own party.

And that's something that Heiner and Comer need to take into consideration. Democrats are back to their old ways, playing politics with hiring in the Beshear administration. They talk a good game about how they're playing by the book, but the results pretty much speak for themselves. Any inroads the Fletcher people had made into reversing the political discrimination against Republicans have been lost.

If a Republican wins the governor's race next fall, which many believe to be very likely, there will be intense pressure once again to stop the Democrats' patronage system. If the governor does not respond, it will come at a price in political capital. Perhaps the governor's appointees will handle it better than did some of Fletcher's people -- never forget that Dan Druen was basically placed in his job by Mitch McConnell -- but a Republican governor will have to ensure that Democrats are no longer favored in state hiring decisions for merit system jobs.

When Ellis goes back to Tompkinsville, perhaps he can inquire again as to the percentage of Democrats to Republicans in the state highway "barn." And perhaps his brethren in the statewide press will ask how a county with vastly more Republicans than Democrats has so few Republicans who are qualified and capable to drive graders or flag traffic.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Jamie Comer's growing problem with inaccurate gas pumps in Kentucky

When Jamie Comer runs for governor, he's going to do so primarily on his record as agriculture commissioner over the past three years.

His primary accomplishment was getting fellow Republican Richie Farmer thrown in prison, but among the other feats he'll tout, undoubtedly one of them will be the sale of the state's fuel testing laboratory.

It's interesting that something fuel-related will be listed among his positives, since there's an emerging situation regarding fuel sales in Kentucky that could turn out to be a real negative where Comer's political aspirations are concerned.

One of the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture is to inspect gasoline pumps at filling stations across Kentucky. We're getting reports from several sources that there's a growing problem with the accuracy of gas pumps in the state.

At some retailers, gas pumps are recording sales of gasoline that actually do not occur. The pump starts running and recording gallons and cents before any fuel is dispensed. Videos showing this happening are starting to pop up on the Web and on social media.

We first heard of this happening in the southeastern Kentucky mountains, in the Hazard area. As soon as the customer swiped a card at the pump and removed the nozzle, a few cents ticked off before the first drop of gas was pumped. We then started hearing about other instances of this occurring in that area, and even saw proof on a Facebook video.

Yet another instance took place in the northern Kentucky area, near Florence. The customer shot video as the pump slowly ran up from 7 to 10 cents while the nozzle was resting on the back of the truck, with no one touching it.

Gas prices are a sensitive subject as it is, and this won't help matters. And it certainly won't help Comer, whose name is in big letters on those state inspection stickers that adorn every gas pump in the commonwealth.

We know that the stickers proclaim that testing and maintenance to ensure accuracy is the responsibility of the owner, but we also know that when people feel like they're being cheated, they often turn to the government for help. And when the name of a prominent elected official who is seeking the state's top position adorns the machine that cheated them, they'll likely assign blame to him instead of calling out to him to fix the problem. It's quite likely that they'll ask Attorney General Jack Conway, who's running for governor himself, to intervene. And Conway will waste no time laying this scandal at Comer's feet as he attempts to ingratiate himself with voters who have already seen through his pathetic attempts to control the rampant price-fixing among gas station owners.

Of course, it's in the stations' best interests to fix the faulty pumps immediately, lest they start losing customers as word spreads about which businesses are charging people for gasoline they don't actually purchase. Public pressure will no doubt force their hands.

We haven't seen any media coverage of this situation yet, although as the "shares" continue to grow on social media, they can't ignore it for long. Neither can Comer, who needs to get out in front of this problem as soon as possible lest it come back to haunt his gubernatorial aspirations and cast a pall on what has otherwise been considered by many, even a hostile press, as an effective tenure in statewide elective office.

Hal Heiner's campaign might want to start scouring the Internet for these videos for future use if Comer continues to allow these inaccurate pumps to stay in operation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another reason we'll never understand Democrats (or, the delusions of Ed Marksberry)

We've followed the quixotic U.S. Senate campaign of Ed Marksberry, from the day he announced his candidacy to his withdrawal from the Democrat primary amid allegations that Alison Lundergan Grimes' people tried to buy him out of the race, and finally to this week's announcement that he's abandoning his attempt to get on the ballot as an independent.

Marksberry is even more liberal than Lundergan Grimes, and he makes no bones about it. His chief complaint about Lundergan Grimes is that she's too conservative, and that she's pandering to Kentuckians in an attempt to unseat Mitch McConnell.

He declared that he has no plans to support Lundergan Grimes in the November election.

Marksberry says his health is one reason that he's been unable to get enough signatures on his petition to appear on the ballot, but we have to wonder if his problem is mental, rather than physical.

Does he really think that if elected, Lundergan Grimes will vote as a conservative? Is he really crazy enough to believe that she will promote a pro-coal, pro-growth, pro-family agenda in the Senate?

Lundergan Grimes comes from a political family. She knows that no matter her true beliefs, there are certain things she has to say in order to get elected in Kentucky. Marksberry never had a change to win because he holds so many anti-Kentucky positions, and he voices his opinions. Lundergan Grimes will certainly be no champion for the Bluegrass State, but at least she knows she can't say so publicly. She has a real shot to win, but only if she masks her real intentions. If she does win, she will do whatever President Obama and Harry Reid want her to do, regardless of whether or not it hurts Kentucky and its residents.

Marksberry doesn't understand that. He seems proud to hold positions at odds from the majority of the state's inhabitants. It's one thing to believe that, but it's another thing to try to get elected on those beliefs. There's not a dime's worth of difference in Lundergan Grimes and Marksberry.

We have to admit, it would have been entertaining to see Marksberry on the same stage as Lundergan Grimes, accusing her of being too conservative. At least she knows she can't win if she embraces the Obama agenda. Marksberry would probably run up and give him a big wet kiss if he showed up in Kentucky.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sen. Brandon Smith couldn't see what he was saying

It's probably fitting that the first time we ever heard the phrase,"He had his tongue wrapped around his eyeteeth so he couldn't see what he was saying," it was uttered by a native of Perry County.

Because something similar happened a couple of weeks ago to State Sen. Brandon Smith, a Republican from Hazard, that earned him national ridicule and scorn from liberals who don't know any better.

Smith was speaking to an interim General Assembly committee meeting on the Obama administration's war on coal. We're not going to repeat his comment here; it's easy enough to find by looking at practically any liberal blog or news source.

As usual, the libs focused on the words that were used and not the intent behind them. While we agree that Smith probably could have made his point a little better, we know what he was trying to say: That the temperature on Mars is subject to similar fluctuations as what have been noted on Earth, but Mars doesn't have a human population to cause the changes the way the liberal "climate change" disciples claim we do. He was saying that Mars experiences the same thing that happens here, so it's a totally natural phenomenon.

Liberals are funny creatures. Well, they would be funny if they weren't ruining our nation. They change the language to fit their beliefs. For years, they preached "global warming" but when people began to see through that, the mantra became "climate change." As more meteorologists and climatologists start questioning the global warming gospel, defenders of the faith become more rabid in their defense. Liberal-leaning newspapers refuse to publish letters to the editor questioning the absolute truth that the planet is getting hotter and people are causing it. Never mind that much of the "research" was faked; just Google "East Anglia" + "climate change" for proof.

Kentucky is suffering greatly from the war on coal. Between tightening of EPA regulations and restrictions on mining permits, the coal business and supporting industries are struggling. Coal's enemies are quick to blame inexpensive natural gas as the reason for coal's decline, but that's disingenuous. Besides, fracking has enemies, too, and sooner or later the natural gas market will collapse as the government clamps down on its production.

Bluegrass politicians of both parties generally defend the coal business, to varying degrees, but as usual, the Democrats speak with forked tongue. Greg Stumbo recently made headlines and drew the wrath of national party bigwigs when he made reference to the Obama administration's "dumb-assed" policies. But someone needs to tell the deadbeat dad who lives in Lexington but still claims to reside in Floyd County that it's his party that's leading the war on coal.

And who is Stumbo supporting in the U.S. Senate race? Fellow Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, of course. Does anyone believe she will be a voice for Kentucky's coal miners and coal industry if she's elected? She will vote exactly as Harry Reid and President Obama direct. She will get permission to vote against their agenda only if they already have enough votes and can afford to let her represent her home state instead of the Washington elites and the radicals on both coasts. Stumbo may talk a good game, but he's not fooling anybody with any sense. If he really cared about coal miners and the coal industry and the economy of the mountains, he wouldn't be a Democrat.

But back to Smith. As far as we know, no media outlet ever reached out to him to allow him to explain or clarify his comments. He did tweet out a clarification of his statement, but it got very little play except to be ridiculed by one of those woeful Kentucky liberal bloggers that makes us want to vomit. The libs in the press were perfectly happy to let his words stand for themselves, without any context. A few pundits were able to interpret what he meant, us included, but the vast majority were happy to have a verbal gaffe from a Republican to use as an example of how clueless conservatives are about "climate change" and what a real threat it represents.

When two-thirds of the people in the mountains of Kentucky are unemployed and destitute, and when electricity rates are so high that we're driven back technologically to the turn of the 20th Century, none of this will matter. Liberals will have won their war on coal, but the real victims will be the people of the Old 7th District who still remain loyal to the party of Carl D. Perkins, even though that party left their interests behind decades ago.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Shoeless Steve Beshear

Say it ain't so.

The text of yesterday's federal court ruling by Judge John Heyburn in striking down Kentucky's state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage gives credence to a theory we've heard mentioned that Gov. Steve Beshear only went through the motions in appealing the ruling, and did not put a true effort into the appeal.

Many were amused when the state's private lawyers offered up the laughable argument that same-sex marriage needed to be banned because only opposite-sex couples can have children and thus keep up the state's birth rate and economy.

"These arguments are not those of serious people," Heyburn's ruling stated.

If you need a refresher course, here's a brief one. When Heyburn ruled several months ago that the state could not refuse to accept same-sex marriages performed in other states, Attorney General Jack Conway refused to appeal the ruling. In short, he failed to do his sworn duty. Beshear, however, pushed forward an appeal by the state using private counsel, doing his required duty.

No one really believes that Beshear is opposed to same-sex marriage. Many suspected that although Beshear was going through the motions in pursing the appeal, his heart really wasn't in it. He is a Democrat, after all, and Democrats in general support same-sex marriage. That suspicion got stronger when the attorneys put forth that procreation argument. And that argument was what the judge referenced his ruling yesterday on the question of Kentucky performing gay marriages on its own.

To sum it up, Beshear deliberately threw the appeal. He did his duty as required, but he did not make a serious effort. If this was baseball, he'd be Shoeless Joe Jackson and his legal team would be the Chicago Black Sox.

Although Beshear has announced that the state will appeal yesterday's ruling as well, we don't expect a serious or sincere effort. There are all sorts of arguments that could be made in opposition to the redefinition of marriage -- which is the prism through which we view this issue -- or to the state's regulation of who can and cannot engage in certain types of conduct or activities. (You can legally marry without parental permission at age 18, but you have to be 21 to drink a beer to celebrate that marriage?)

Liberals and those who want to redefine marriage to suit their desires are aghast at the state's appeal, saying it's a waste of taxpayer money in what will ultimately be a losing effort. And they're partly right. If the state's contracted attorneys continue to make laughable arguments, it is a waste of money. Not so if they do it earnestly and correctly.

Say it ain't so, indeed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

No rooster-fighting drama next year? Dems' gubernatorial race may be over before it begins

Given the tenor of many of the past several open primaries for the gubernatorial nomination on the Democrats' side, we were looking forward to another rock-em sock-em campaign next winter and spring.

But are we -- and the rest of Kentucky's political aficionados -- going to be deprived of the drama and vitriol in 2015? Early signs say the Democrats may be trying to consolidate support early behind one candidate, eliminating a down and dirty primary.

So far, only one Democrat, Attorney General Jack Conway, has announced his candidacy. Two oft-mentioned candidates, former Auditor Crit Luallen and current Auditor Adam Edelen, have said they won't be running.

Even though a few other prominent Democrats are said to be considering entering the race, they seem to be waiting until after this year's U.S. Senate race between Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell is over before announcing.

In the meantime, a number of influential party bosses have already thrown their support to Conway. In addition to Luallen, who was Conway's mentor as well as Edelen's, former governor and senator Wendell Ford and John Yarmuth, the only Democrat in Kentucky's congressional delegation, have announced early endorsements of Conway even though no one else is running.

Are they trying to clear the field to avoid a divisive primary in an election year in which a Republican is thought to have a better-than-average chance of winning?

Who knows, but we're afraid they're going to bring down the curtain on some certain political drama.

We've been watching Kentucky politics for decades now. We have faint memories of John Y. Brown's late entry and whirlwind campaign in 1979, but the first race we really paid attention to was in 1983, the close contest between Martha Layne Collins, former Louisville Mayor Harvey Sloane and eastern Kentucky's Dr. Grady Stumbo.

Four years later, a particularly nasty campaign between Brown and then-Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear opened the door for businessman Wallace Wilkinson to win in a crowded field that also included Stumbo as well as former Gov. Julian Carroll. Wilkinson's signature issue was the creation of the state lottery, and his campaign brought national prominence to a consultant named James Carville.

In 1991, the fireworks weren't quite as loud or bright as Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones, a former Republican from West Virginia, moved up the ladder. The oddest part about that campaign was the presence of Wilkinson's wife, Martha, in the race because Jones and Wilkinson had not enjoyed a good working relationship. Martha Wilkinson dropped out about three weeks before the primary, and the race was not a headline-grabber.

The 1995 primary wasn't full of animosity, either. Paul Patton was the first candidate to run on a slate (he chose Dr. Steve Henry from Louisville) and was the first governor who was eligible to succeed himself. He wasn't challenged for renomination and cruised to victory in the general election. We still believe that Mitch McConnell made a deal with him about not pushing a Republican candidate against Patton in 1999 if Patton would not run against him for re-election to the Senate.

So it wasn't until 2003 that there was another Democrat primary, and it was probably the nastiest one we've ever seen. Attorney General Ben Chandler was the front-runner, but was under siege from Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford. Less than a week before the election, Chandler launched a television ad featuring a woman who attempted to personally blame Lunsford for the death of her mother at one of the nursing homes Lunsford owned. Lunsford didn't have time to release a counter ad, so he dropped out of the race and endorsed House Speaker Jody Richards. When Chandler beat Richards, Lunsford ended up endorsing Republican nominee Ernie Fletcher because he was so angry over Chandler's dirty trick.

With Fletcher winning in 2003, Democrats had to regroup, and the open primary of 2007 was mostly devoid of rancor. Beshear was running against a group that included Henry and Lunsford, but both of them brought baggage to their campaigns. State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, who also had plenty of personal baggage that was well-known to political insiders but not by the general public, dropped out of the running and endorsed Beshear. Richards was back in the race, and his loss probably sealed his fate as House speaker.

We were really hoping for a repeat of 2003 or 1987 in next year's race. We really wanted to see a blood-letting among the Democrats. That's beginning to look increasingly unlikely.

By the time the U.S. Senate race is decided, so many prominent Democrats may have jumped on the Conway bandwagon that speculative candidates like Dan Mongiardo or Greg Stumbo may have nowhere to turn to for support or financial donations. It may be the Republicans who are treated to a hostile campaign if (when) Jamie Comer jumps in against Hal Heiner.

We'll continue to hope for an explosive Democrat gubernatorial race, but the odds are looking slimmer. That's too bad, because catfighting among the donkeys and roosters is always highly entertaining.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fauxcahontas coming to Kentucky, business owners who did build that prepare to be insulted

Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts who is sometimes mentioned as the next person most likely to break Hillary Clinton's heart by stealing the Democrats' presidential nomination away from her, is best known for two things.

One is her false claim of being an Indian and using that to advance her career and referring to herself as Harvard Law School's first minority female. That has led to her being not-so-flatteringly being dubbed as "Fauxcahontas" by conservative commentators. Just Google the term and you'll see what we mean. As should be expected, Twitchy amply captured a sampling of the well-deserved mocking.

Her other claim to fame is being the first person to ever advance "you didn't build that" as a way to diminish the accomplishments of American business owners. That concept and phrase got more play when President Obama uttered it at campaign event in Virginia during his re-election bid, but Warren was the first person to, in so many words, say that those who have succeeded owe their success more to socialistic government policies than to their own knowledge, hard work and perseverance.

That narrative won't play well in Kentucky, where so many people have struggled to create, own and operate businesses in spite of the government, not because of it.

So when Warren said she planned to come to Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes against Mitch McConnell, it's no wonder the McConnell campaign cheered.

We can almost hear Brer Rabbit hollering, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch."

We can't imagine Fauxcahontas' appearance garnering much support for Lundergan Grimes, or for Elisabeth Jensen, who's running against Andy Barr in the Sixth Congressional District. Many Kentuckians already feel that the government puts too many burdens on them and inhibits their ability to conduct business or earn a living. Being lectured by someone who thinks that they don't deserve the credit for their success is probably not something they want to endure.

If Warren does come to Kentucky to campaign for Lundergan Grimes, we think she should pick either Richmond or Mt. Sterling as her rally locations. Because in both towns, the high schools have the nickname "Indians" for their athletic teams. For Fauxcahontas, those would be fitting venues.

Maybe some of the local business owners can greet her by holding up signs saying, "Yes, we DID build that."

This is just more proof that Lundergan Grimes and her campaign are more in line with liberal national Democrats than they are with Kentucky, Kentuckians and Bluegrass values.

Master of puppets, Reid's pulling her strings

With apologies to Metallica's James Hetfield, who recently admitted to leaning conservative-to-libertarian in his political beliefs, we can't help but have the title track from the band's third album, "Master of Puppets," go through our heads as we dissect Alison Lundergan Grimes' recent exhibit of saying one thing in Kentucky and doing another in Washington, D.C.

Because Lundergan Grimes knows how important coal mining and coal-fired electricity production is to the state's economy, she's positioning herself to Kentucky voters as a defender of the coal industry. This is in stark contrast to the national leaders of her political party, most notably Senate President Harry Reid and President Obama, who can no longer be accused of not running a war on coal after an EPA bureaucrat got caught using that phrase to describe the federal government's position.

In fact, Lundergan Grimes said that she planned to discuss coal's importance to Kentucky with Reid at a D.C. fundraiser for her a couple of weeks ago.

Except she didn't. A recording of her remarks shows that not once did she mention coal when she was in the room with Reid and his cronies. The Lundergan Grimes people claim that instead, she discussed the matter with Reid in a private conversation, but evidence indicates that no face-to-face meeting occurred, and neither did a phone conversation. What makes this even more fascinating was that the story was broken not by any conservative outlet, but the left-leaning Politico, which one would think would be sympathetic to her campaign and not interested in reporting news that will hurt her chances of being elected.

It's obvious that Lundergan Grimes thinks Kentuckians are dumb enough to believe she will be an independent voice for our state and its interests if she is elected to the Senate. No one with an ounce of intelligence believes that. She will do exactly as instructed by Obama, Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the out-of-touch leaders of the national Democrat Party unless the matter can pass without her vote. Then, and only then, will she be given dispensation to vote against the Democrats and with Kentucky. One only has to look at former Congressman Ben Chandler's votes on cap-and-trade and Obamacare to see how that works.

The story gets more interesting. One of Kentucky's most disgusting liberal pundits, who formerly operated a blog out of Lexington but now blogs for a leftist Louisville outfit, has been doing a guest gig for a couple of national outlets recently. He's claiming that the recording was made by a Mitch McConnell operative who infiltrated the fundraiser, and is crying foul about it.

This coming from the same category of people who cheered when Jimmy "Thank God for Obama, now I'm no longer the worst president in American history" Carter's grandson recorded Mitt Romey's truthful remarks about 47 percent of Americans being lost to Republican candidates because they're takers, not taxpayers? There's a reason we hold this particular Louisville blogger in so much disregard.

A pro-Republican PAC has seized on Lundergan Grimes' lies and has produced a commercial on the subject, and it's getting heavy rotation on television. This, while her campaign has placed a media buy in community newspapers, extolling her virtues as a nonpartisan, independent voice for Kentucky and Kentuckians.

No one's buying that. We admit to not being the biggest fans of Mitch McConnell, but for the most part we think he's supported policies that are good for Kentucky.  It's painfully obvious that Lundergan Grimes will be under the control of the most liberal politicians D.C. has to offer. She will do what they say and vote how they say, irregardless if it hurts her home state. She should change her name to "Mary," short for "marionette," since she will belong to Reid and Obama and Pelosi and will be their puppet if she's elected to the Senate.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Edelen drops a bombshell

To the surprise of most political observers in Kentucky, Adam Edelen announced this week that he would not run for governor next year, instead choosing to run for re-election as auditor.

This came as a shock to many, us included, because not only was Edelen expected to run for governor, he was seen by many as the front-runner.

His decision leaves Attorney General Jack Conway as the only announced Democrat candidate for the governor's race.

It was really no surprise when Crit Luallen announced she wasn't going to run. We believe she loves the attention and speculation and the courtship more than she really wants to lead the state. But all signs pointed toward Edelen running, setting the state for a contest between two Luallen proteges.

We don't expect Conway to have a free pass for his party's nomination. Greg Stumbo continues to be mentioned as a candidate, although he keeps saying he won't have a decision until after this fall's Senate race. Former Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's name keeps coming up as well.

Of the announced or perspective Democrat candidates, Mongiardo has the least amount of baggage. Conway has issues dealing with his brother's involvement in a Louisville drug case. Plus, he's getting a lot of grief from one liberal Kentucky blogger over his inaction in a controversy involving the school board and superintendent in Montgomery County. And Stumbo's problems are well-documented, and we'll be glad to repeat them again and again should he jump into the race.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Edelen's announcement is Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer, who still hasn't committed to a run on the Republican side. We've previously documented how Comer handed Edelen a campaign issue that would have been very effective against a Comer candidacy. With Edelen out of the picture, that will no longer be the case.

While Comer continues to sit on the sidelines, the only announced Republican in the race, Hal Heiner, is already out running ads and establishing an Internet and social media presence in an attempt to introduce himself to voters outside the Louisville area. While Comer has the weight of his office available to travel the state and appear at public events, Heiner has to resort to paid advertising to build name recognition. He starts out behind Comer in that regard, but he may be able to close the gap, especially if Comer continues to wait to declare his candidacy.

We recently heard the name of former Congressman and 2003 gubernatorial candidate Ben Chandler mentioned. This is the same candidate whose district was gerrymandered to help him win re-election two years ago but was still unable to beat back a challenge from Andy Barr. He's also the same person who basically said he was glad he lost the governor's race because of all the headaches it brought Ernie Fletcher when dealing with various budgetary issues. To date, Chandler still holds the record for the dirtiest campaign ad we've ever seen, when he ran a blatantly misleading ad against Bruce Lunsford in the waning days of the 2003 primary.

But for now, it's Conway and Heiner and a whole bunch of speculative candidates. Heiner's hit the ground running while Conway's been very quiet. Mitch McConnell vs. Alison Lundergan Grimes notwithstanding, we expect the campaign for governor to heat up later this year.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wonder what Jim Bunning thinks about this?

On matters of policy, we always were bigger fans of Jim Bunning as a U.S. senator from Kentucky than we were of Mitch McConnell. Bunning usually staked out a more conservative position on many issues, and there were many times when Bunning canceled out Mitch's vote when McConnell sided with the liberals on certain things.

Politically, however, Bunning ran aground on the same rocky shore as McConnell did when they both failed to support Gov. Ernie Fletcher, first when he came under attack from Democrats when he tried to end years of hiring abuses in state government, and then when he ran for re-election in 2007.

In fact, many believe Bunning carried much of McConnell's water during the 2007 gubernatorial election. While McConnell never made any public statements, many believe he was responsible for recruiting former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup to run against Fletcher in the Republican primary. On the other hand, Bunning actively endorsed and supported Northup against Fletcher.

Three years later, Bunning got a taste of his own medicine. When he launched his re-election bid in advance of the 2010 Senate race, McConnell turned against Bunning. He urged his donors not to contribute to Bunning's campaign, and put the weight of his political machine behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson, a former Democrat, had won election to statewide office in 2003 by riding the coattails of Fletcher, then won re-election in 2007 against a lightweight Democrat opponent.

We all know how that ended up. Bunning was forced from the race, and his preferred candidate (Rand Paul) toppled McConnell's hand-picked candidate (Grayson), then Paul rolled to victory in the fall.

McConnell never explained why he turned against Bunning. But he certainly made it known that he did not support the incumbent's re-election in 2010.

Why do we bring this up now? Because McConnell has gone from working against an incumbent from his own party in his own state four years ago to working for an incumbent in another state this year.

Mississippi's Thad Cochran lost his primary to challenger Chris McDaniel a few weeks ago, but Mississippi law requires a runoff because McDaniel did not cross a certain percentage threshold. Cochran is an establishment moderate Republican -- the type we and others not so affectionately call RINOs -- and McDaniel is a more conservative Republican who enjoys the support of TEA Party backers. McConnell has gone all-in for Cochran, hosting fund-raisers and trying to put the full weight of his apparatus behind the incumbent.

There were whispered rumors about Bunning's mental abilities in 2010, but the same comments about Cochran are not a whisper, but a roar. News story after news story seves to raise the question about his sharpness. Last week's episode surrounding a weird comment Cochran made about inappropriate acts with farm animals is probably the most bizarre thing we've heard in awhile.

We'd certainly love to know what Bunning thinks about all this, as he watches his former colleague do a 180 from four years ago. And we'd love to hear McConnell explain this, as well.

Perhaps some small-town newspaper editor with a political agenda can ask McConnell about this matter when he shows up for a town hall meeting this summer. Somebody needs to get Mitch on the record about this blatant episode of hypocrisy and betrayal.

Monday, May 19, 2014

No good options in tomorrow's GOP Senate primary

We really wish there were better options among the Republicans challenging Mitch McConnell in the primary election for the U.S. Senate race.

Some had high hopes for Matt Bevin in his bid to unseat the incumbent who has angered so many conservatives through his capitulation to the three-headed monster of Obama/Reid/Pelosi, but Bevin's campaign never really gained the traction it needed to topple such a powerful sitting senator and tenacious politician.

McConnell lost favor with us eight or nine years ago for reasons of politics, not policy. We went from being ardent supporters of his in 2002 to refusing to support or vote for him in 2008. And nothing that's happened policy-wise in those intervening years has won us back to his side. His capitulation on the debt ceiling vote a few weeks ago encapsulated our opposition to McConnell in a nutshell. His vote against the increase on the Senate floor was inconsequential. The cloture vote was where the real battle was, and McConnell chose the side of the liberals instead of taking the conservative position.

We had really hoped for a viable alternative to emerge, and many had hoped Bevin would be that candidate, but it just wasn't meant to be. Red herrings like MIT, cockfighting and bailouts have taken away from a real and substantive discussion of McConnell's shortcomings as a conservative who is supposed to be leading the opposition to destructive liberal policies, not agreeing with them and pow-wowing with the enemy to pass them.

There are logical explanations for Bevin's MIT/resume and bailout situations, but we're not going to go into them at this time, and it would make no difference to his detractors anyway.

Bevin's gotten the most publicity of the four challengers to McConnell's throne, but there are three other candidates who are virtually unknown to the electorate. One, Shawna Sterling, wrote a rambling letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader responding to their endorsement of McConnell, claiming that someone had threatened to take her children should she file to run.

One of our collaborators has decided to sit tomorrow's primary out, saying she can't vote for any of the potential nominees and she has no use for McConnell. The rest of us plan to vote for Bevin, all the while knowing that he has no shot at upsetting McConnell.

What about the fall? While none of us could ever bring ourselves to vote for the lightweight candidate the Democrats are going to put forth, neither can we in good conscience support McConnell. In fact, we would laugh uproariously should the Republicans take back the Senate, as many expect, only to see McConnell lose his re-election bid and not get to be Senate president like he's dreaming about. Not that having another Republican besides McConnell as Senate president would be anything to write home about. Unfortunately for American, there are more McConnells and McCains in the GOP wing of the Senate than there are Cruzes and Lees and Rubios. We can't really see much difference between a leadership team of McConnell and Boehner than we do a Reid/Pelosi pairing, because we have no confidence in the leadership of the Republican Party to stand on conservative principles and in opposition to the Obama agenda.

McConnell famously said his goal was to make Obama a one-term president. He failed there, so his new goal should be to stymie Obama's harmful policies. He may talk a good game about Obamacare and the War on Coal, but when the rubber meets the road, what has he done? Capitulate, like he did on the debt ceiling vote and the votes for various of Obama's appointees.

We don't necessarily endorse Matt Bevin, but we cannot in good conscience as conservatives support Mitch McConnell. For all the credit he gets as being the godfather of the modern Republican Party in Kentucky, we haven't and will never forgive him for some of the things he's done to prominent GOP officeholders in Kentucky. Couple that with his abandonment of conservative policies at key moments when important issues are on the table, and we see no good reason to ever support him again.

Bevin may be a flawed candidate, but McConnell is a defective conservative and a broken senator. We liked the McConnell of 1984, or even 2002, much better than the McConnell of today.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Who didn't see this coming?

To absolutely no one's surprise, Attorney General Jack Conway -- not so affectionately known around here as Little Jackie Conway -- announced earlier this week that he intends to run for governor next year.

In doing so, he became the first Democrat to violate the party's wishes that no one begin their 2015 campaign until this year's U.S. Senate race is finished, to avoid stepping on Alison Lundergan Grimes' toes, attention and fund-raising.

He also became the first of the two Crit Luallen acolytes currently holding statewide office in Frankfort to make his announcement. Now it's time to wait and see how long the other Crit disciple, Auditor Adam Edelen, will wait. With Luallen's decision not to run now official, it would seem that it's open season on the governor's race, even as the potential candidates try to tread lightly around Jerry Lundergan's daughter.

Yet another rumored candidate who puts the "ass" in the Party of the Ass, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, still claims to want to wait until after the November election before making a decision. His chances of winning the primary are slim anyway, and they'll evaporate if he waits that long before naming a running mate and starting to raise money.

Speaking of running mates, we're not sure what to make of Conway's choice of Rep. Sannie Overly as his partner on the ticket. For the past several years, Democrats have tried to make Overly the next big thing in Kentucky politics, but we can't see why. She doesn't have an outstanding legislative record to stand on despite being the first female ever appointed to a state party legislative leadership post. We don't see a lot of substance to her. Rep. Stan Lee might call her "an empty dress," much as he did Lundergan Grimes, but he'd be raked over the coals for it despite it being a fairly accurate assessment. So we'll go with "empty pantsuit" instead. It's less sexist and still entirely appropriate.

Maybe Conway wanted a pretty face on his ticket in case he wins and has to face Hal Heiner, who also has an attractive female as his running mate (KC Crosbie).

We're already hearing some speculation about what kind of campaign will occur when Conway and Edelen square off. One of Kentucky's leading liberal Democrat bloggers is suggesting that Edelen will use the fact that his office has referred several audits to Conway for prosecution, but Conway has not acted.

Who made Edelen the sole arbiter of what's legal and illegal? There is such a thing as prosecutorial discretion. That's what allowed Stumbo, when was attorney general, to pursue the Ernie Fletcher administration with such zeal over personnel decisions despite no governor ever being prosecuted for things like that in state history despite the Democrats' record for actual patronage abuses that were much worse than any of the fictional allegations that were wrongly made about Fletcher's term. It's up to Conway to decide what to prosecute and what to leave alone.

Honestly, we don't see much of anything in either Conway or Edelen that inspires any confidence that they'd be good governors. Their party affiliation automatically disqualifies them because of the Democrats' history in running the state. They'd appoint the same old people to positions of power, ensuring no progress in making government run more efficiently and effectively. Edelen doesn't have any big-time audits under his belt of the type that made headlines for Luallen. Conway hasn't run any major investigations or prosecutions. Both are unimpressive Democrats who got where they are through Kentucky's good-old-boy network.

It will be interesting to see how Conway's decision to not participate in the defense of Kentucky's same-sex marriage amendment plays out. Will Edelen point out that Conway had a duty to defend the state constitution despite his personal feelings? It's generally felt that Conway's decision might help in a primary but hurt him in the general election. Edelen has an avenue to use Conway's decision in his campaign if he wants.

And what of Stumbo? His "wait until November" stance might be a smokescreen to see what happens with the House of Representatives this fall. Republicans really believe they have a chance to gain the majority in that body. If that happened under Stumbo's leadership as speaker, he could be mortally wounded in the statewide political game.

On the Republican side, Heiner's campaign has been awfully quiet after being first into the race. He's not making as much noise as he needs to if he's going to combat the name recognition that expected opponent Jamie Comer already has. There are rumors of at least one other candidate getting into that race, but so far nothing's come to pass.

As we've said before, if Kentucky Democrats have to choose between governor and U.S. senator, they will choose the former every time. Running state politics is where they exercise their power to dole out jobs and contracts. If they have to sacrifice Lundergan Grimes to hold onto Frankfort, they will. And even a Lundergan Grimes victory over the GOP nominee won't mean much if, as expected, the Republicans take back the Senate. It just means some other Republican besides Mitch McConnell will be majority leader.

We expect Edelen to join Conway in the race within the next couple of months, but both to lie low for awhile to pay lip service to the idea of not competing with Lundergan Grimes for political air. Then the two lightweights will begin sniping at one another.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Crit's big announcement trumped by the wait for another big announcement

So, Crit Luallen finally made it known yesterday that she doesn't plan to run for governor next year.

A few politicos in Frankfort and around the state were breathlessly awaiting her decision.

Everyone else in Kentucky, save for diehard Cardinals fans in Louisville, is more interested in whether or not the Harrison twins will return for their sophomore year at UK.

We can almost guarantee that the Harrisons' decision will generate more and bigger headlines than Luallen's decision.

Now Adam Edelen and Jack Conway and Greg Stumbo and the rest of the Democrats who lust after the Governor's Mansion can feel free to run without having to genuflect to the queen of Kentucky's Party of the Ass. Nevermind that Crit becomes more irrelevant with each passing day. She's been the shadow looming over the rest of the braying donkeys who want to continue to steer the commonwealth in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, even with the departures of Julius Randle and James Young, the Wildcats look to be loaded next year, especially in the frontcourt. Some very good guards are coming in, and Dominique Hawkins has shown flashed of potential of being able to play with the McDonald's All-Americans, so even without the twins, UK appears to be poised for another special season. But given the way the Harrison twins progressed over the year, especially in the post-season, if they return, the future certainly looks bright for the Wildcats.

Much brighter than the state's future if one of the Democrats gets elected governor, that's for sure.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Media's a little late to the party on food stamp fraud, but we welcome them now

Four years ago, we pointed out a problem that was only being discussed in whispered tones elsewhere: People buying large amounts of soft drinks with their food stamp benefits (SNAP cards), then reselling those soft drinks for cash, which is most often used to buy drugs.

Four years later, this subject has finally hit the mainstream news. WKYT-TV in Lexington has been reporting on something it calls the "Pop Train," generating all sorts of conversation about the situation.

We're glad to see some news coverage on this subject. It's been a sore spot for a lot of hard-working, tax-paying Kentuckians for a long time. We're also glad to see the state investigating this fraud. We're just not happy that people have been complaining about it for a long time, but those complaints were ignored by state officials until the story became big news.

We welcome this exposure of the fraudulent use of tax dollars. But remember, we told you about it long before the mainstream media did.

More on Conway's dereliction of duty

The more we think about Jack Conway's refusal to defend Kentucky law and the state constitution from a legal challenge, the more we think that not only has he committed an impeachable offense, he has committed legal malpractice as well.

Everyone knows that attorneys are required to give their clients the most zealous representation possible. Even an attorney who knows his client is guilty is obligated to try to get the client acquitted of criminal charges. If the attorney knows deep down that the case is lost, he's still required to try to win it unless the client agrees to a plea deal.

So, even if Conway is convinced an appeal of the federal court ruling on same-sex marriage would lose, he's still obligated to defend that position, especially since the defendant (Gov. Steve Beshear) wanted to pursue the appeal.

This situation now begs another question. If Conway is so convinced that the appeal will be unsuccessful and he personally cannot go through with it, then why did he defend the state in the first place? Have his feelings on the matter changed since the lawsuit was first filed? Or did he suddenly feel the need to pander to the liberal wing of his own party?

Most people who have commented on this story on various media forums since it first broke have praised Conway for his principled stance, criticized Gov. Steve Beshear's pursuit of the appeal as promoting discrimination, and so forth and so on. These people are clueless. Beshear is not supporting bigotry. He no doubt holds the same personal belief on the subject as does Conway. He's a liberal Democrat, after all. But at least he realizes that his personal feelings are unimportant in this matter. He realizes he has an obligation to fulfill his oath of office.

As could be predicted, most media outlets in the state took Conway's side. This isn't surprising. The Lexington Herald-Leader basically has an "end justifies the means" outlook when it comes to liberal policies, as evidenced by their opinion earlier this year that the Supreme Court shouldn't reverse President Obama's illegal recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board because that would overturn an NLRB decision with which they agreed. They aren't bothered by Conway's failure to do what he's required to do if it corresponds to their leftist agenda. That's why we were pleasantly surprised when the Bowling Green Daily News basically came to the same conclusion we did.

We think impeachment of Jack Conway is an appropriate response to his dereliction of duty. We know that's an impossible result, given the political makeup of the House of Representatives. The more we think about it, the more we think disbarment might also be appropriate. That's even less likely to happen, but we're beginning to believe it should.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Beshear does his duty; Conway chooses ideology over responsibility

Wow.

That's about all we can say after the bombshells dropped Tuesday morning by Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway.

After Conway decided to abdicate his duty and responsibility and announced that he would not appeal the recent federal court decision on same-sex marriage, Beshear stepped in and said the state would hire outside counsel counsel to pursue the appeal.

We've been highly critical of Beshear since before he was elected. We generally don't agree with his agenda. He's been ineffective in defending Kentucky's interests against the national leaders of his party, including President Obama. He's failed to generate support for his projects and initiatives, most notably casino gambling in Kentucky. And lately, he's been Obama's biggest ally in promoting Obamacare. Since he's said he is not going to run for any more elected offices, he had nothing to lose by not pursuing the appeal.

We believe he's done the right thing in appealing the court ruling, not because of the subject matter of the court case, but because of the duty incumbent on state officials to uphold and defend state laws and the state constitution. We as citizens don't get to pick and choose which laws we obey. Elected officials, therefore, shouldn't get to choose which of their duties they carry out.

The language of Beshear's statement leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of taking a stand on the subject, or declaring his duty-bound obligations, he said he wants clarification and wants to give Kentucky a seat at the table when this matter is finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. That's disingenuous and evasive, especially since the governor said he'd have no more comment on the matter and would basically be in hiding from the press for the rest of the day.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, he's doing the right thing. He is upholding the oath he swore twice and is doing what he's duty-bound to do. As harsh as we've been with him over the years, we commend him for this.

Conway, however? He has failed to do his duty. His decision means that the state will have to spend taxpayer dollars to hire the outside counsel to pursue the appeal (unless the governor directs his general counsel to handle the matter,which would be a viable option). He's also in violation of his oath of office, no matter what rationalization he's offered or what cover U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has provided.

Little Jackie Conway should either resign or be impeached. He is not fit to hold his office.

Politically, Conway's decision is also questionable if he chooses to run for governor next year. Same-sex marriage is still not supported by the majority of Kentuckians, and this matter will no doubt bring conservatives to the polls. Conway and his biggest gubernatorial rival, Auditor Adam Edelen, both seem to be in agreement on this issue and in line with the national liberal wing of their party, so the issue most likely won't be a factor in the Democrat primary. But expect it to come up in the general election.

As we said previously, this isn't about the subject of same-sex marriage itself. It's about elected officials carrying out their duties. In this case, Beshear has done so but Conway has not. We really expected it to be the other way around. Beshear, with nothing to lose politically, would have been free to pander to his party's national liberal base; while Conway, who plans to face the statewide electorate this year, would seemingly want to think about angering the state's conservative majority, especially conservative Democrats who make up the majority of that party's registration in Kentucky. Instead, the opposite happened.

We congratulate Gov. Beshear for honoring his oath, and we condemn Conway in the strongest possible terms for abandoning his sworn duty. We hope he pays a price for his misdeed.