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


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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Eliminating an election cycle: A good idea but a terrible approach

Two decades ago, Kentucky effectively got rid of "off-year" elections by extending the terms of local officeholders by one year in a one-off deal to combine local elections with the congressional midterm races. Now, local politicians run for county judge-executive, sheriff and other local offices when members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Kentucky General Assembly (all representatives and half of the senators) are elected. This eliminated an election cycle, saving state and local governments some money. The "off-year" election traditionally drew the lowest voter turnout numbers, and by adding local races to the legislative contests, interest increased in those elections.

Now, something similar is being considered to eliminate yet another election cycle in the Bluegrass. A bill is currently under consideration in the General Assembly to lengthen the terms of statewide offices from four to five years for one time only, to make them coincide with the presidential election.

That's an idea we have supported for years, but this particular proposal has a fatal flaw. When the election for a five-year term for county offices took place in 1993, everyone knew that the people elected then would be serving an extra year for that term. The proposal currently under consideration for statewide offices would extend the current terms, making statewide elections occur in tandem with the 2016 presidential race.

There's no way we could support anything that would result in Steve Beshear staying in office one minute longer than is currently scheduled. Having him as governor an extra year would be disastrous.

Would knowing in 2011 that Beshear would be serving for five years have made a difference in the election outcome? It's highly doubtful, given the weaknesses of the David Williams-Richie Farmer ticket that have become apparent in hindsight. But we think people would have wanted to know that the people they were voting for would be serving five years instead of four.

Democrats offered an objection to this measure that we didn't expect. They think that electing Kentucky's governor on the same ballot as the president will hurt their chances, since Kentucky tends to vote Republican in federal races. While that may be true, it could work the other way. Kentuckians tend to pay more attention to the governor's race than any federal races, so perhaps having the gubernatorial election on the ballot would help the Democrats' presidential and congressional candidates.

Or, maybe the next state terms could be shortened to three years to have them coincide with the midterm elections. That would also serve to eliminate an election cycle and would let voters know well in advance how long their next governor's term would be.

Another advantage would be that an incoming governor would be taking office in the middle of a biennium. A state budget would already be in place, and the new governor wouldn't be faced with putting together an administration and developing a budget at the same time, which is currently the case. Having a year under his or her belt would give the governor plenty of time to become familiar with the state's financial situation.

If the five-year term is applied to the winners of the 2015 statewide races, making the next gubernatorial election coincide with the 2020 presidential election, we're all for it. If a single three-year term is the preferred solution, we're on board with that too. We just can't support a scenario that lengthens the current terms to eliminate an election cycle. The voters didn't vote for that, and we're not sure the state could survive another year of Steve Beshear.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Decision time for Conway and Beshear: Obey the law or listen to the radical left?

Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway have some tough decisions to make.

Do they carry out the will of the majority of the members of both houses of the General Assembly and the wishes of the people as expressed at the ballot box?

And more importantly, do they follow their sworn legal duty to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky?

Or do they listen to the power brokers and deep pockets in their party and the loud radical voices on the left, trying to transform this country into something it was never meant to be?

This dilemma comes courtesy of last week's court ruling holding that Kentucky cannot refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, along with a new lawsuit seeking to completely overturn the definition of marriage as enshrined in the state's Constitution.

Our position is that we oppose the redefinition of marriage, whether it's between two people of the same sex, or one person and several members of the opposite sex. Marriage by definition is between one man and one woman. We don't oppose civil unions between two people of the same sex, but we don't think those unions should be called marriages.

We also think there are much better solutions to the problems that same-sex couples claim they have than allowing them to wed. For instance, the court case that resulted in parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act being invalidated stemmed from a dispute over the inheritance tax. We think the best way to solve that is not to allow gay couples to wed to enjoy a spousal exemption, but to eliminate the death tax entirely.

But this isn't about gay marriage. It's about the duty incumbent upon Kentucky's highest elected officials to carry out the law, whether or not they and their supporters agree with the law.

California's Proposition 8 lost a court challenge not on the merits, but because state officials in The Land of Fruits and Nuts refused to defend the law as they were duty-bound to do. A third party attempted to defend Prop 8 in court, but the Supreme Court ruled that the third party did not have standing. Because California's governor and attorney general put their personal beliefs over their sworn duties, the will of the people was overturned.

This, then, is where Beshear and Conway find themselves. Yes, they are liberals. They are probably more liberal than the average Kentucky Democrat. But for as much as they have denounced -- Beshear especially -- the national leftist agenda on some specific issues, they are still liberal Democrats before all else. Will they pay attention to Kentuckians or will they heed the wishes of their puppet masters in D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere?

For Beshear, there is probably little political risk in thumbing his nose at Kentuckians and doing what national party leaders would prefer. Recent speculation about Beshear being a good running mate for the 2016 Democrat presidential nominee notwithstanding, Beshear has pretty much declared that this is the end of the road for him politically. He probably won't be facing Bluegrass voters again, so he's free to dismiss them as a constituent bloc.

But what of Conway? He's said to be considering a run for governor year after next. And therein lies his conflict. If he refuses to defend Kentucky's Constitution, as he has sworn an oath to do, and appeal the court decision, he risks alienating the majority of Kentuckians who are against redefining marriage. But he earns the gratitude of national Democrat movers and shakers and the radicals in his party. Should he do his duty, he risks alienating liberal donors in the big coastal cities.

We feel the decision is simple. Beshear and Conway should ignore the wishes of national Democrats, and quite probably their own personal feelings, and do their sworn duty. If they don't, they should be impeached and removed from office. The question is, do they have the courage and the integrity to do what's right? Will they fulfill the duties required of them? Are they willing to endure the criticisms of the radicals to obey the law?

Or will they put the interests of national Democrats above those of the majority of Kentuckians of both parties? Will thin skins trump legal responsibilities? Will they leave the voters of this state hanging with no one to represent their interests and directives?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jack Conway: Contender or pretender?

It seems odd that Kentuckians are talking more about an upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary than they are the Democrat primary, but that's been the case for the past several months as interest builds as to which candidates will vie for the nomination until 2015.

That is, until recently, when a profile of Attorney General Jack Conway indicated that he'll be announcing his candidacy within a few months.

Even though the national spotlight is on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election bid, it's the governor's race that is the big prize in Kentucky politics. Back when Kentucky governors were not allowed to succeed themselves, speculation began about who'd be running in four years almost as soon as the new Democrat-in-charge was inaugurated in December.

While lots has been said and written about the potential Republican primary, the Democrat contest has been largely ignored.

The Conway profile piece, written by new Lexington Herald-Leader political reporter Sam Youngman, states that should he run, he'd be the front-runner based on name recognition from his failed campaign for U.S. senator against Rand Paul more than three years ago.

We're not sure that's the case.

So far, the most frequently mentioned potential Democrat candidate is Adam Edelen, elected state auditor in 2011 after serving in Gov. Steve Beshear's administration. Many well-connected political observers and liberal pundits consider Edelen to be the lead dog in the pack of mutts who'll likely be running for governor on the Democrat side. He's said to already have the support of many of the party's influential backers and rich donors. He'll probably have Beshear's backing, and as previously mentioned here, current Agriculture Commissioner and possible Republican gubernatorial nominee Jamie Comer hand-delivered him his biggest accomplishment as auditor.

Conway's in his second term as attorney general and has no noteworthy achievements on which to hang his hat. He ran a terrible campaign against Paul (remember the Aqua Buddha ad that backfired on him?) and he has some serious issues dogging him in his hometown of Louisville concerning his brother's involvement in a drug case. Look up "empty suit" in a dictionary of Kentucky politicians and if Conway's picture doesn't show up first, he'll be up front in the list of Democrats who define that term.

"Little Jackie Conway," as we like to call him for his lightweight political stature, is a protege of Crit Luallen, longtime Democrat operative and former state auditor who is also said to be considering a run for governor. Both Conway and Luallen say they'll make their decisions on running independently of one another, so it will be interesting what one of them does if the other comes out first.

Another oft-mentioned potential candidate is former Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who's had some of the worst luck of any Kentucky Democrat we can think of in recent years. Mongiardo, a former state senator from Hazard, was picked as Beshear's running mate to provide some eastern Kentucky balance to the western Kentucky native/Bluegrass area resident. As soon as they were inaugurated, Mongiardo became the forgotten man in Beshear's administration. When Mongiardo decided to run for the U.S. Senate, Beshear didn't even save a place for him on his re-election ticket. Saying he needed to raise money for the 2011 campaign, Beshear replaced Mongiardo with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. (Interestingly enough, despite Abramson's declaration that he won't be running for governor or any other office, he's been infinitely more visible in Beshear's administration than Mongiardo was). And to add injury to insult, although Beshear said publicly that he supported Mongiardo over Conway, it's well-known that the governor worked behind the scenes to aid Conway's campaign over Mongiardo.

Conway might get a boost from the anti-Beshear forces who are still active within the state party. The political marriage between longtime enemies Beshear and Jerry Lundergan is very much one of convenience because Beshear hates Mitch McConnell and knows he has to partner with Lundergan to boost Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign. Once this year's U.S. Senate race is over, Beshear and Lundergan are free to go their separate ways, and probably will. If Beshear backs Edelen, as is expected, will Lundergan go for Conway?

And what would the entry of Luallen, Mongiardo or possibly Greg Stumbo do to shake up the dynamics of the race?

At any rate, we're not sold on the idea of Conway becoming the instant front-runner if or when he decides to run. He does have more experience in statewide elective office than Edelen, but both he and Edelen were successful the last time they went before the Kentucky electorate.

It will be interesting to watch how Kentucky's Democrats tip-toe around Lundergan Grimes' candidacy as they pursue their own interests in the holy grail of political office in the state. We've said before that there's no office in the Bluegrass State that Democrats want to control more than that of governor, and they'll sacrifice a potential Senate victory to keep the Governor's Mansion under their control. But for now, we're not ready to concede the Democrat primary to the pretty boy sitting attorney general.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A quick update

We want to update a recent story with some news about an election filing.

The public official referenced in the story filed for re-election to their current office, rather than the higher office they were rumored to be seeking. The incumbent in that higher office also filed for re-election. We're told the incumbent wants to serve one more term and then will retire, after which the lower-level official who is Steve Beshear's patronage person in that particular community will seek the higher office.

We're not ready to say we were wrong in what we reported, but perhaps just a few years premature. The use of patronage to line up votes is still going on, our sources tell us.

Steve Beshear wants to raise your taxes

There aren't a lot of surprises in the tax revisions announced yesterday by Gov. Steve Beshear. For many Kentuckians, taxes will go up, while certain special interests will see tax breaks.

Beshear's tax plan seeks to impose the sales tax on services such as automobile repairs and tanning bed visits, increases taxes on some retirement benefits/pensions, does away with the "married filing separately on combined return" income tax status that usually results in lower taxes and/or higher refunds, eliminates the state's modest individual income tax credit and increases taxes on cigarettes.

Meanwhile, some alcoholic beverage taxes are lowered and the horse industry gets undeserved tax breaks. There's a small reduction in individual income tax rates, but that won't be noticed by the average taxpayer. The slight decrease in the corporate income tax rate won't do anything to attract jobs to Kentucky.

And he's pushing for allowing a local option sales tax, which is really what this state needs so our sales taxes can be a hodgepodge of rates from locality to locality like Tennessee. The Volunteer State's lack of a state income tax is greatly offset by its outrageously high and varied sales taxes. You should pay the same sales tax no matter where you buy something, be it Nashville or Pigeon Forge.

In short, Beshear's tax plan is a joke. Just like he is. This plan should get a bipartisan panning and be sent back to the overflowing sewer from which it originated.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign's war on women

Just because most Republicans and conservatives believe it's wrong to kill babies, they have been pegged by the American Left and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media as waging a "war on women."

That might have some semblance of truth to it if conservatives opposed only the aborting of female babies and not male babies, but since they oppose killing of babies of both sexes, it's absurd to claim that conservatives hate women and are against them.

The left is busy trying to tarnish Mitch McConnell because his campaigns have been financially supported by those associated with the company that was victim of the accidental chemical spill in West Virginia. Do they really want to go there? Because if they do, they invalidate all their attempts to appeal to female voters in the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the presumptive Democrat nominee for the senate seat, has been trying to position herself as the candidate best able to cater to so-called women's issues. And not just because of her genitalia, either. She's been busy speaking to female-dominated groups and reciting that tired old line about the GOP's "war on women."

That line didn't make sense when the Democrats used it against Mitt Romney just because he admitted to recruiting qualified women to fill positions in his administration when he was governor of Massachusetts, and it doesn't make sense now, especially considering from where Lundergan Grimes is getting much of her support.

One of her biggest boosters in Kentucky is Greg Stumbo, current Kentucky house speaker and former attorney general. It really shouldn't be necessary to remind Kentucky voters of his history, but we'll do so anyway.

It's well-known in Kentucky political circles that Stumbo fathered a child out of wedlock years ago with a woman other than his wife. For years he failed to pay child support to the mother of his child. When she finally decided to claim child support, Stumbo filed a lawsuit against her for harassment, claiming she was only seeking child support to damage him politically.

(Note to Stumbo: The only liberating that will happen in Kentucky is when the Republicans take over the Kentucky House of Representatives and liberate this state from the control of you and your party. We would have said "leadership" but you and the Democrats are about as far away from being leaders as Peyton Manning was from being a Super Bowl winner).

If you listen to Lundergan Grimes' corrupt father, Jerry, you'll constantly hear him talk about how he so close to President Bill Clinton and how Clinton will come to Kentucky to campaign for Grimes once the primary is out of the way and his daughter is running against either McConnell or Matt Bevin.

Do we really need to go down the Clinton path again? The man who bit the lip of one of his non-consenting sexual partners and then told her to put some ice on it and the swelling would go down? The man who exposed himself to a low-level state employee when he was governor of Arkansas and told her to kiss it, then when she didn't give him oral sex she was retaliated against at work? The man who had a sexual relationship with an intern in the White House then lied about it during testimony in a sexual harassment lawsuit? Paula Jones? Monica Lewinsky? Gennifer Flowers? Kathleen Willey? Juanita Broaddrick?

To us, it sounds like Lundergan Grimes' strongest supporters are the ones waging a war on women. Her campaign may wish to rethink soliciting the blessing of such female-hostile Democrats like Stumbo and Clinton if they want her to be taken seriously as being the leading candidate on women's issues. She can't claim to be a pro-female politician if the likes of Stumbo and Clinton are cheering her on.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Comer's karma (Or, the sad case of Richie Farmer)

Today, Richie Farmer learned how long he'll be spending behind bars as a result of his actions during his two terms as Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture. Farmer's defense attorney sought a prison sentence of 21 months after he pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from his abuse of office. Prosecutors wanted, and got, a 27-month sentence, saying they needed to send a message to deter other elected officials from acting as Farmer did.

What's laughable about that is the thoughts that the things Farmer is alleged to have done haven't been done in the past, or aren't being done now. Does anyone believe that Kentucky's Democrats, who've had a virtual stranglehold on statewide offices for decades, aren't using the system for their own benefit? Can it be said with a straight face that Democrats don't hire their buddies for do-nothing state jobs, as it's claimed Farmer did?

But that's beside the point. We certainly don't condone Farmer's actions, since we're supporters of honest and ethical and frugal government, but it didn't have to be this way.

If it can be said that Farmer used his term for his own personal benefit, then it can also be said that Jamie Comer, Farmer's successor, has used Farmer for his own political benefit.

Comer had a number of options concerning his predecessor's term when he took office at the end of 2011. He chose the option that would guarantee the biggest headlines and all but assured that Farmer would be sacrificed.

Comer, a Republican, didn't have to ask newly elected Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen, a Democrat, to investigate Farmer's tenure. That could have been handled internally within the agriculture department. Comer could have a face-to-face meeting with Farmer and asked him to reimburse the department for improper expenditures. Instead, Comer chose to grandstand, even going so far as to say he'd asked the blessing of Kentucky's prominent Republicans before proceeding.

To say that Edelen's term as auditor has been uninspiring would be an understatement. Although he hasn't shown the tendency to use his office to punish Republicans, as Crit Luallen frequently did, he doesn't have a major accomplishment on which to pin a run for higher office, the way Luallen did with her scrutiny of the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties -- with the notable exception of the Farmer audit. That's been Edelen's only significant "win" and Jamie Comer gave it to him gift-wrapped.

The short term result of the audit was that Comer comes across as a bipartisan reformer and someone who wanted to clean up state government. A Republican and a Democrat shared the state to announce that a bunch of waste, fraud and abuse had been uncovered and someone was going to pay a price for it.

But to use a phrase we're fond of repeating, Comer may have been too smart by half in how he handled Farmer's term. By being so eager to send Farmer to prison, he may have torpedoed his own political future.

By all accounts, Comer and Edelen are the front-runners for their parties' respective gubernatorial nominations in the 2015 race. Attorney General Jack Conway's desires notwithstanding, Edelen seems to be getting most of the early support from the state's prominent Democrats. This is despite his relative and inexperience and lack of accomplishments.

Oh wait, did we say lack of accomplishments? He does have the one aforementioned feather in his cap -- the Farmer audit which was given to him gift-wrapped by the man he'll be trying to beat in 2015.

When Comer runs for governor, as he is expected to do, he'll be running as the sitting agriculture commissioner. Edelen's lone accomplishment will be his audit that resulted in the agriculture commissioner going to prison. And that's what he will trumpet. He uncovered waste and abuse in the Department of Agriculture. He won't mention Richie Farmer's name. He'll just talk about the wrongdoing in the agriculture department. And who's the present ag commissioner? Kentucky's Democrat voters, who are often too dumb to know the issues (sorry if that offends anyone, but it's the truth), will think Edelen's talking about Comer's administration. And that's just the way Edelen will want it.

That will be karma in action. Comer's candidacy may end up being shot down by his own zeal to build up his reputation. And it would be ironic and well-deserved.

We say again: We do not condone what Richie Farmer did. But it didn't have to be this way. Jamie Comer sacrificed Farmer on the altar of political ambition. And it may very well come back to bite Comer because he handed his opponent his biggest accomplishment that he can use to confuse Kentucky's low-information Democrats.

There's a lesson to be learned here. Short-term gain can sometimes equal long-term pain. And what can seem politically advantageous can end up being harmful to your ambitions.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Kentucky Democrats take patronage to a whole new level

As was well-documented here at the time, one of the unspoken goals of Ernie Fletcher's administration was to put an end to the political patronage that had plagued the hiring of state employees during previous Democrat governors.

A study commissioned by Fletcher's Department of Personnel (demoted from a Cabinet during his term but promoted back to Cabinet status under the current administration) showed that, in many cases, the political affiliation of state employees was inversely proportional to the party registration of the general public. In some counties where Republicans enjoyed a 3-1 advantage in voter registration, the state workforce was 3-1 Democrat.

It was this kind of blatant political patronage that the Fletcher administration tried to end, but we all know how that ended up. Democrats didn't like the fact that they could no longer hand out state jobs as rewards for party loyalty, so they trumped up an investigation and the result was Fletcher's loss to Gov. Steve Beshear in 2007.

Beshear campaigned on the premise of cleaning up state government, but we all know that Democrats have no intention of doing things properly. His administration has put some window dressing on the hiring process for merit system state employees, but the truth is that it's as if Fletcher's term never existed. The state is back to its old longstanding tricks of hiring loyal Democrats for jobs that are supposed to be filled on merit and independent of politics. Input from party officials and Democratic local elected officials and legislators is still a primary consideration when a vacancy is filed or an employee is promoted.

Even though political patronage is a way of life for state government when the Democrats run it, we've heard of an especially egregious example that puts the past abuses to shame and reaches a whole new level of improper.

We know of one elected official who also serves as one of Beshear's contact people. This official was Beshear's campaign chair in their home county. This official's spouse was given a job and is in charge of personnel decisions for a state office.

The aforementioned elected official has their sights set on higher office; one that would cover multiple counties instead of just one locality. The spouse is using their state position to help. It's been said that the personnel administrator is making decisions on who gets hired by extracting promises from applicants that they and their families will support the spouse's bid for higher office.

This certainly would be a hard allegation to prove, as denials would fly faster than snowflakes in the winter wind if the perpetrators were publicly confronted. Still, this has been reported by multiple sources so there must be something to it.

We've known about this for awhile but weren't motivated to come out of our recent hibernation to post it. With the filing deadline for elected offices approaching by the end of this month, we felt it necessary to bring this to the public's attention. It should be noted at this time that the candidate in question has not yet filed for the higher office.

Still, this is representative of Kentucky Democrats' attitudes about political patronage in state merit system hiring. To them, black is white and up is down. In DemoWorld, an attempt to restore fairness in personnel decisions is itself political patronage. Their solution to end patronage is to actually reinstitute patronage.

It just goes to prove that some things never change.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Jump-starting the 2015 governor's race a good idea for state's GOP

Much has been said and written about Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer's recent hissy fit thrown during a supposedly nonpartisan speech in Somerset.

You've probably heard or read about it by now if you follow Kentucky politics. Comer made some crazy statements about not being controlled by the party's bosses, State Rep. Chris Girdler sent out a column about Comer's comments to the state's newspapers, and Comer offered a nonresponsive response that was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Analysis of Comer's statements can wait for another day. But for now, it's time to address the underlying issue behind his Pulaski County meltdown: That it would be beneficial for Kentucky Republicans to get an early start on the 2015 gubernatorial election because it would help decrease the chances of a Democrat winning next year's U.S. Senate race.

By virtue of him being the only Republican statewide officeholder, Comer is generally believed to be the frontrunner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A number of other Republicans are either said to be considering running, or are frequently mentioned as possible candidates. We have some reservations about most all of those who have been named as potential contenders. There's plenty of time to examine each candidate or possible candidate, but now is not that time.

However, we think getting the gubernatorial race started now is an excellent idea and is one that all Kentucky Republicans should embrace, even the recalcitrant Comer.

While it's true that Kentucky's federal delegation has a decidedly-GOP flavor, and the Bluegrass State is really a Redgrass State because we've voted for the Republican nominee in the last four presidential elections, the fact is that the Democrats still control this state. They have all the important statewide offices, and even when Ernie Fletcher was governor, the other state offices in the GOP column (secretary of state and ag commissioner) were minor. The Democrats had the offices of auditor, attorney general and treasurer, and they certainly used those offices to partisan advantage. They also control the state House of Representatives and most local governments across the state, save for the south-central counties in the Old Fifth District and some of the northern Ohio River counties. They also still command a 60-40 advantage in voter registration, although the Republicans have closed that gap in recent years.

If you asked Kentucky's Democrat power bosses which office they'd prefer to hold, governor or United States senator, they'd choose governor every time. After all, the governor's office is the platform from where they reward supporters with jobs and appointments, and contributors with state contracts. A Democrat governor in Frankfort wields more power than a Democrat senator as one of 100 in Washington, D.C.

In this specific Senate race, although Mitch McConnell is a prized scalp that the Party of the Ass would love to claim, defeating him might not be as big of a victory as the Dems might hope. It's very likely that blowback from Obamacare will result in the Republicans taking control of the Senate next year, even if McConnell loses his individual election. And the favored Democrat candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has baggage. Her father, former state party chair and corrupt state legislator Jerry Lundergan, has enemies within the KDP (most notably Gov. Steve Beshear), and despite the expressed hatred for McConnell, her support within the party is more tepid than Democrats will admit.

So, having an announced Republican candidate for governor prior to next year's Senate election would be a win-win for the GOP.  While the national media will still continue to focus on McConnell's re-election bid, state media would start paying attention to the governor's race. Any GOP candidate could begin to campaign against the Democrat mismanagement that has hurt this state for decades, even with no candidate to run against. And since the Democrats covet the Governor's Mansion more than a Senate seat, their candidates would necessarily have to start coming forward lest a GOP candidate successfully define them at the beginning of the race. This would certainly dry up attention and money for Lundergan Grimes.

Surely, a Gov. Comer would prefer to deal with McConnell or Matt Bevin than a Sen. Lundergan Grimes. One would hope he'd realize the wisdom of diverting resources from her campaign. We certainly do.

It appears that at least one candidate will be announcing early next year that he's running for governor. Whether Comer thinks this forces his hand or not, and despite what he may be saying about other Kentucky Republicans, this is better for everybody in the long run, including Comer himself, whether he realizes it or not.

We think this is sound political strategy and we hope it comes to pass.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A stopped clock can even find an acorn every now and then

We've been very critical of Gov. Steve Beshear over the years, and for very good measure, but he finally did something right.

He got Kathy Stein out of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Stein was one of the most out-of-touch members of the state Senate, and of the House before that, that we can ever remember the Commonwealth producing. (Well, actually she is a native of southwestern Virginia). She'd be more at home representing San Francisco or New York City or Chicago than Kentucky. She was too liberal even for the left-leaning area of Lexington that she did represent.

But now she's gone, appointed by Beshear to a family court judicial position to replace a judge who resigned after impeachment proceedings were filed against her in the General Assembly. This situation, with links, can be investigated at, which would seem to be an interesting story in its own right.

For now, though, we celebrate the departure of Stein from the General Assembly. No longer can she negatively impact Kentucky and Kentucky values all across the state.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

While we were gone...

A lot has happened while we were not posting, both in our lives personally and professionally, and in Kentucky politics.

First, the personal notes.

One of our collaborators has died, and we mourn his passing. He was a disabled veteran and a retired schoolteacher who stayed on top of the news and continued to express strong opinions until he was physically unable to do so. His mind never wavered, but his body gave out on him. He had some harsh words for the state of today's educational system, and it's because of him that we have been critical of Kentucky's so-called education reforms and also have been strong supporters of America's military. He was a father, brother, son and mentor and he is missed each day.

Another collaborator has changed jobs. Yet another lost her job. One retired from his job. Three of us lost our health insurance coverage under Obamacare -- if you like your policy, you can't keep it -- and have been stuck with more expensive policies with higher out-of-pocket costs. A couple of us moved. It hasn't been an uneventful couple of years with the K-Pac family.

And in Kentucky politics?

Jamie Comer and Adam Edelen tag-teamed Richie Farmer. David Williams took the same sweetheart deal from Steve Beshear that he criticized Beshear for offering to other Senate Republicans. Kentucky Democrats tried to gerrymander the 6th Congressional District to save Ben Chandler's job, and even that didn't work as Chandler lost to Andy Barr. Mitch McConnell has continued to side with Democrats instead of the base of his own party, to the point that he has a legitimate primary challenger for the first time in recent memory. Rand Paul has won some grudging respect from us for standing up for conservative values. And Democrats continue to use the power of their positions to single out Republicans for prosecution and persecution.

In short, nothing much new under the sun.

The topography of the Kentucky blogosphere has changed as well. A number of blogs from both sides of the aisle are dormant, return 404 errors or have just vanished into the ether. Comment boards on many Kentucky media sites now use Facebook log-ins or other tools designed to quash anonymity. Still other bloggers threaten to out anonymous posters if they question the party line. (That's not something we have the desire to do, even if we had the capability to do so, which we don't).

Yahoo ate our e-mail address, so any messages that may have come in the last several months are gone like Trey Grayson out of the state. But we've continued to hear things about the goings-on in state government and will be exposing them in the weeks and days ahead. Our new e-mail address is and we welcome tips.

Quite frankly, we have many of the same concerns that caused us to give berth to this platform. Too many Republicans seem more interested in concentrating their own power instead of working for the good of the state and nation. They're too eager to side with Democrats and abandon the loyal ones in their own association, and are worried more about process than principles. McConnell, for one, has done nothing to regain our trust or affection, and he's taking others down with him. (We're looking at you, Hal Rogers and Brett Guthrie). Around these parts, it's open season on RINOs. One of our collaborators said just this morning that he'd unfriended a Facebook acquaintance he's known for years because she is mad at her party's base over the government shutdown; nevermind the fact that Republicans made at least four offers in compromise to the Democrats but Harry Reid would have none of it.

If you're a liberal Democrat or a liberal Republican, you're an enemy to the well-being of Kentucky and the nation. And we'll definitely be calling you out on it, in addition to continuing to spotlight the stupid stuff state government does to keep its masters happy.

There's a palpable anger among grassroots Republicans and TEA Party supporters. We're angry at the Democrats for ruining the country and angry at the RINOs for being their accomplices. And we plan to be an outlet for some of that anger in our little corner of the world we call Kentucky.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Is this thing on?

After an extended period of dormancy, we're trying to revive this blog. Unfortunately, our email address ( has been deactivated and the steps Yahoo now requires to set up a new email account are ones we don't want to take. (Give them a cell phone number? Seriously? Not everyone has a cell phone, hard as that may be to believe).

Anyway, we hope to be back opining about the sad state of conservatism among the establishment Republicans. if this post is visible, it means we're on the way back. We may not be able to have email but that's a small price to pay for trying to do our small part to make Republicans conservative again and not Democrats-lite.

God bless Ted Cruz and Andy Barr!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

What might have been...

In a better world, newly inaugurated Gov. Steve Pence would be giving his first State of the Commonwealth address tonight in Frankfort.

However, due to a combination of politically-motivated investigations and Pence's own wrong-headed decisions, that's not happening. Instead, Gov. Steve Beshear is kicking off a second term that promises to be as bad as, if not worse, than his first term.

There's really no need to rehash Greg Stumbo's partisan attacks against the 2003-2007 term of Gov. Ernie Fletcher, except to note Pence's disloyal and cowardly behavior as the personnel probe progressed. And it's also important to note that Pence was not Fletcher (and Sen. Mitch McConnell's) first choice as a lieutenant governor running mate, but he appeared to be a much more solid choice than McConnell's original designee, Hunter Bates.

Lt. Gov. Pence had it right when he uttered his infamous "indict a ham sandwich" remark. Or at least it would seem so; that he recognized that the charges were baseless and were sparked not by any real desire to punish wrongdoing, but to drum a Republican out of the Governor's Office because the Fletcher administration (gasp and egads!) dared to reverse a decades-long trend of hiring Democrats for merit system jobs.

A former federal prosecutor, Pence seemed to grasp exactly what was going on as the special grand jury rolled on. But appearances were deceiving. Once Fletcher took the wind out of the investigation's sails by issuing pardons, and calling for the resignations of those he felt had made non-criminal mistakes in the hiring process, Pence retreated from the administration. He refused Fletcher's request to resign, then ended up supporting Fletcher's opponents in the 2007 primary and general elections when Fletcher wisely chose someone else to be his running mate in his failed re-election campaign.

Had the former prosecutor been out front explaining why the investigation was trumped-up and the pardons were appropriate, perhaps things would have been different. His credibility on the matter would have been impeccable. He might have helped to blunt the political damage Stumbo's persecution caused, could have completed a second term as lieutenant governor, and may have successfully won a term of his own as governor. Instead, he's relegated to representing Rick Pitino in the infamous Porcini's matter.

But we all know what happened. Beshear beat Fletcher in 2007, completely mishandled the surplus the Fletcher administration left in the state government treasury, and has in general been a failure as governor the past four years. Despite the ascendancy of the Republican Party in Kentucky over the past decade or so, no truly viable candidates stepped forth to challenge Beshear's re-election bid. Senate President David Williams, soiled by years of unfair and unanswered attacks from the state's liberal media, put up a respectable challenge, but the damage done to his persona via relentless criticisms from the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal proved to be too much to overcome. The seeming self-destruction of Richie Farmer didn't help. Farmer was generally regarded to have done an excellent job as agriculture commissioner, and his status as a legendary Kentucky Wildcat basketball player was supposed to be an asset. A series of political blunders and the unfortunate timing of his wife's filing for divorce tarnished Williams' choice for a running mate.

Williams also wasn't helped by attacks by a few self-promoting and self-proclaimed Tea Party participants. Funding was going to be a problem for Williams in the general election as it was; the Phil Moffett candidacy and its backing by the likes of loudmouths David Adams and Mica Sims forced Williams to spend money in the primary that would have been better spent in the general election.

So now, with Beshear back in office for another four years, Kentucky has little to look forward too. He came into office poor-mouthing and no doubt he'll continue to do so. He's bought into the wrongheaded notion that the only way to rejuvenate the horse racing industry in Kentucky is to allow the tracks to run casinos, so he'll finally make a concerted effort to pay back those who bankrolled his 2007 win. He fails to see the need for comprehensive tax reform. He turns a blind eye to some of the wasteful spending of Kentucky's "educracy" every time he exempts education from a budget cut. There just simply is no reason for optimism that this state will move forward, especially when you see the cast of supporting characters that has been assembled in the background, both in appointive positions and the lower-level elected positions. And don't forget that snake-in-the-grass Stumbo is still in charge of the House. We can only pray that Williams and the Senate Republicans can stand firm against the worst of the Democrats' initiatives.

As we watch "World's Dumbest" or "Dog The Bounty Hunter" or "Law & Order" reruns, or anything other than Beshear's lies and false promises tonight, we'll take a moment -- but not much more than that -- to wonder just what Steve Pence is doing and thinking. Had he merely done the right thing, there's a better-than-average chance that he could have been making that speech tonight.