Friday, December 29, 2006

The Butcher of Baghdad is dead!

Now, liberals, tell us the war in Iraq hasn't been worth it.

Without this war, Saddam would still be alive, in power, and massacring his own countrymen.

May he burn in hell for eternity for his misdeeds, and God Bless America for bringing him down.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

When loose cannons misfire...

Dan Druen is back in the news again.

When the Executive Branch Ethics Commission tagged the former Transportation Cabinet administrator last week for his starring role in the merit system investigation, the one-time villain became the darling of the state's Democrat-sympathizing media for uttering the equivalent of four little words: "Fletcher told me to."

Instantly, Druen went from zero to hero in the eyes of the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal. They see Druen as leading the charge to take Gov. Ernie Fletcher down, and just in time for the 2007 gubernatorial election.

In their zeal to pound Fletcher, and the resulting lionizing of Druen for this brief fleeting moment, the state's liberal media and the slobbering Fletcher-hating Democrats are overlooking one key fact:

Dan Druen is in major CYA mode. No way does the originator and architect of the infamous "hit list" want to own up to his own transgressions. Nosiree. He wants to topple the administration that put its trust in him for a sensitive position, and whose trust he betrayed.

At the height of the investigation, when indictments were flowing like beer at a New Year's Eve kegger, two critical pieces of information -- long since vanished from public consumption.-- emerged. One was a huge profile that the Herald-Leader did on Druen. It almost -- almost -- made him a sympathetic figure. The other was a transcript of an interview the attorney general's office conducted with Druen, leaked in typical unprofessional Stumbo/Crawford-Sutherland fashion, right before Fletcher issued his pardons.

Taken, read and digested together, they leave no doubt that Druen was the "brains" behind the hit list. In Stumbo-speak, he was the daddy, but like Stumbo, he denies his parentage and refuses to pay support despite the DNA signature. And what's more, to mirror Stumbo, he flings baseless counter-allegations when confronted with his progeny.

If Druen was acting on orders from Fletcher, why did the two never meet until well into Fletcher's term, and then in a social setting rather than on official business?

Dan Druen has done enough damage to Ernie Fletcher and Kentucky Republicans. His refusal to take his medicine can only cause more trouble. Remember that the only felony indictment to come out of the merit system investigation itself was against Druen for allegedly shredding documents, and he never implicated the governor in that. It's obvious the shredding was done on Druen's own initiative. If the governor had been responsible, there's no doubt the biased grand jury would have indicted him for that as well as the three misdemeanors.

Druen needs to shut up before he causes more problems and digs a deeper hole for himself and Kentucky's GOP. This loose cannon needs to be taken out of service. Hide the powder and the cannonballs and keep them away from him.

If Druen wants to do everyone a favor, he'll depart Kentucky post-haste, never to return except to visit relatives on an infrequent basis. We'd be better off he he went back to Virginia and took up his former trade of furneral director. Obviously it was something he was good at. He may have already killed the governor's re-election chances.

On the passing of President Ford...

We wish to note the passing of former President Gerald R. Ford.

Mr. Ford is unique in that he did not seek the presidency. Instead, the presidency sought him.

He was a noble and dignified man who did things in an honorable fashion.

His pardoning of President Nixon was the right thing to do, but it came at a terrible political cost to himself. Sometimes the right thing is not the politically expedient thing to do, and Mr. Ford found that out in 1976.

(There is a lesson there about pardons being the right thing to do for the current crop of Kentucky Democrats but they're too dense to get it).

We mourn the loss of this man who was there when history and his nation called upon him.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What does Mark Nickolas have to fear or hide concerning his tax-exempt status?

We thought we'd share this e-mail we got from a reader. Being frequent visitors to ourselves, we are familiar with the touchy nature of this subject:

Dear Kentucky Pachyderm,

I wanted to let you know about this since of all the conservative blogs in the state, yours seems to be the most hard-hitting, pull-no-punches site.

As you may know, Mark Nickolas runs his Bluegrass Report blog as part of a tax-exempt foundation he claims to have set up called Foundation For Kentucky's Future. He says he has set it up as as a 501(c)4 organization. Occasionally a reader who appears to be well-versed in taxation law will call Nickolas' tax-exempt status into question because of his blatant partisan political activity. Sometimes those comments are deleted.

He has a thread going now where he looks back at his predictions for this year and looking ahead to next year. I posted a prediction about how someone will finally successfully challenge his tax status. That comment was deleted from the thread. I tried to post a comment about how my original comment was deleted and found that I was blocked from commenting. So I logged off my ISP and logged back in (changing my IP address by doing so) and posted that this had happened. THEN, I find that my post about doing that has been deleted! What the (expletive deleted since we don't allow that type of language here) is with him? Obviously he is afraid of someone challenging his tax status.

I think that some attention should be called to this. What is Mark Nickolas hiding and why is he afraid of people commenting about his 501(c)4? Is he afraid of getting in trouble with the feds?

I know that Al Cross and some reporters read his blog but I don't expect them to investigate a Fellow Traveler on the left. I sure wish some savvy tax attorney would ask the right questions of the right people and take him down for tax fraud. Here he is, he can't even win a governor's race in a Democrat state like Kentucky with a good candidate like Ben Chandler, and yet he comes in here from California and tries to tell us how we should run our state.

Please help me in getting this message out, and Merry Christmas to you!

Name Withheld On Request

Like we said, we are familiar with the challenges that have been posted on Nickolas' blog to his tax status and we are well aware of his partisan activities like Even now we see him trying to take out his own party's state chairman and doing his best to talk up candidacies of Greg Stumbo and Steve Beshear and running down the candidacy of Steve Henry.

So ... are there any conservative tax lawyers who want to take this and run with it?

What, exactly, is Mark Nickolas so afraid of concerning his tax-exempt status that he even deletes comments from his blog when the subject comes up? We'd love to know.

Thanks, anonymous reader, and Merry Christmas to your and yours!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ben Chandler Wastes Tax Dollars Advertising Outside His District

We have received reports from readers of the Lexington Herald-Leader outside the 6th District that Ben Chandler has a four-page, full-color insert in today's paper (Friday, Dec. 21).

Since the Herald-Leader zones its inserts to various circulation areas, we have to wonder why, exactly, Chandler is advertising and sending a constituent survey to people who live outside his district.

Had he opted to run for governor, we'd view this very cynically. As it is, we only view it with a medium amount of cynicism.

Too bad we can't get Congress to investigate this waste of tax dollars before the Pelosi Brigade charges into Washington, D.C.

Stumbo Learns Hard Lesson: Choices Have Consequences

Shortly after Ernie Fletcher shocked the commonwealth and frustrated the state's Democrat-sympathizing major newspapers by winning the 2003 governor's race, those papers started trying to identify Democrats that might try to unseat Fletcher in four years.

Naturally, they turned to the Democrats who were elected to statewide office, including one who has long been known to covet the Governor's Mansion.

Greg Stumbo, the former legislator from Floyd County who was elected attorney general, said he had no plans to run for governor unless Fletcher became "wildly unpopular."

Several months later, when Transportation Cabinet employee Doug Doerting came to Stumbo with supposed evidence of wrongdoing in merit system personnel decisions, Stumbo had several options.

He could have referred Doerting to the Personnel Board and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, the two state agencies that traditionally had handled such claims.

Or, he could have turned over the evidence to the Franklin County attorney, who generally is the official with the authority and ability to investigate misdemeanors.

Instead, Stumbo chose the option that was guaranteed to benefit him the most politically. By having his office take on the investigation, Stumbo himself became the vehicle by which Fletcher became "wildly unpopular," thus opening the door for Stumbo's run.

Actions have consequences, though, as Stumbo is finding out. By choosing what he thought was the most politically beneficial course, he may have inadvertently torpedoed his bid for governor.

The ethics commission was right to rule that a potential conflict of interest existed if Stumbo ran for Fletcher's office while the investigation was ongoing.

And the commission is right to raise the point that one of Stumbo's main campaign platforms -- that Fletcher was indicted for violating the state's civil service laws -- came about only because Stumbo's office investigated, even if Stumbo did eventually drop the charges with prejudice.

From the start, the pundits have claimed that Stumbo politically outmaneuvered Fletcher and his advisers regarding the investigation. That may be true. Fletcher himself admits that he's not politically minded, and many of his supporters say his strong point is policy, not politics. (We agree with that assessment).

But this time, Stumbo may have maneuvered himself into a corner. He is already crying about his civil rights being abridged by not being allowed to run for office, but he won't get very far if he presses that case. Lots of people are precluded from running for specific offices. Merit employees can't run for partisan positions. School superintendents can't run for county judge. Dana Stephenson and Hunter Bates had compelling arguments regarding their residency and eligibility to run for office. And felons can't run for anything.

Was Stumbo too smart by half this time? Already his investigation is seen as a political power play. Even the Courier-Journal made a half-hearted reference to it earlier this week in an editorial.

All along, the pundits have said he was a step ahead of Fletcher. This time, he may have tripped up.

Actions and choices have consequences, Mr. Stumbo. You're learning that lesson the hard way. Come back in five years, when Fletcher won't be on the ballot, and run then. The merit system investigation won't be an issue then. But your status as a former deadbeat dad will still very much be a factor in your campaign.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Does Mike Duncan regret appealing his firing now?

Kentucky's merit system probationary guidelines are quite clear. Within the first six months of your employment, you can be terminated for any reason -- or no reason at all. The law allows no right of appeal.

But once you hit the six-month mark, you are protected by the merit system and cannot be fired except for cause. And even then, you have the right to appeal to the Personnel Board and then through the state court system if you so desire.

When Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert dismissed Michael Duncan before his probationary period was complete, Nighbert told Duncan's immediate supervisor that the firing was not appealable. But Duncan appealed anyway, and his case became one of the focal points of Attorney General Greg Stumbo's persecution of Ernie Fletcher.

After yesterday's Personnel Board hearing in Duncan's case, he probably wishes he would have listened to what Nighbert said.

During Nighbert's testimony, the former Williamsburg mayor laid out a strong case for why he opted to dismiss Duncan, who had a sensitive position as an investigator with Transportation's Office of Inspector General. Two of the reasons related directly to his work as an investigator at a time when the Fletcher team was trying to clean up the mess in Transportation that had been left by the Patton administration and years of sloppy work by politically-connected Democrats who had been hired in the previous Democratic administrations.

One reason concerned Nighbert's familiarity with Duncan as an investigator into drug problems in Williamsburg when Nighbert was mayor and Duncan worked for then-AG Ben Chandler. Nighbert felt Duncan had not done a thorough job.

And one reason was the fact that Duncan had had an affair with a subordinate. Nighbert said that was in the back of his mind and indicated to him that Duncan was oftentimes not possessive of good judgment.

The affair was not common knowledge prior to Duncan's Personnel Board hearing. But after yesterday, the whole state knows about it. Way to go, Mike Duncan.

Nighbert's testimony should be more than enough to prompt a recommendation from the hearing officer that Duncan's dismissal stand as called on the field. His reasoning would be more than sufficient to let Duncan go if he had obtained status as a protected merit employee. But put that track record together with Duncan's status as a probationary employee, and it's a no-brainer.

So it appears that Duncan has gained nothing and has instead shamed himself in front of the whole state.

And as an added bonus, Nighbert's testimony guts much of what was alleged as criminal behavior by Fletcher in the three indictments returned against him.

So Nighbert is vindicated, Fletcher is too, Duncan is embarassed and the grand jury's credibility takes a hit. Mark Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006 down as a very good day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Did Doug Doerting Improperly Obtain Evidence Used To Start Merit Hiring Probe?

Does anyone remember how the merit system investigation got started?

Former Transportation Cabinet employee Doug Doerting turned over a bunch of e-mail messages to the attorney general's office, claiming that those messages were evidence of rampant violations of Kentucky's civil service laws prohibiting personnel decisions from being based on political reasons. This came after Doerting had shopped his "evidence" around to a number of other investigative offices and agencies, including Auditor Crit Luallen's office. No one was interested in what Doerting had until he went to Stumbo. Those allegations found a receptive home in the office of a partisan hack, with a chief prosecutor who had himself been a supporter of and contributor to Ben Chandler in his run against Ernie Fletcher.

But how, exactly, did Doerting come to be in possession of that "evidence?" Did he do so legitimately? Or perhaps illegally?

It's widely known that one of Doerting's duties at Transportation was looking into improper use of state computers. In other words, he was the "porn police." Since Transportation had been rocked by accusations during the Patton administration that employees were surfing porn sites on state time and saving the images on their computers, state government instituted a crackdown before Patton's term ended.

Sources have indicated that Doerting was one of the most unpopular people in the Transportation Cabinet. His heavy-handed approach to enforcement made him few friends. But no one is friendless. Everyone has a few pals, and we figure Doerting was no exception.

Even if a state employee has access to certain records, laws and policies regulate and limit that access. Revenue employees, for example, are not allowed to view tax documents except for official business reasons. That prevents, for example, an examiner or auditor or file clerk from pulling up Tubby Smith's income tax return to see how much the UK coach is paid (or overpaid, as some like to claim.)

We are wondering how, exactly, Doerting came up with the e-mails he turned over to Stumbo.

Was he a part of the e-mail chain and thus a legitimate recipient of the messages, and free to do whatever he wanted with them?

Was he not an original recipient, but instead obtained them as part of his official duties and then used them in an unauthorized and prohibited manner by passing them along to Stumbo?

Or did he obtain them improperly or illegally through his powers of computer access? If so, did he do this of his own volition or was he tipped off or otherwise encouraged to do so? Did one of his friends -- the few friends alluded to earlier -- ask him to do it?

These are still more questions about the investigation that the mainstream media never bothered to ask. This information would certainly have a bearing on the legitimacy of the entire investigation that followed.

Even if the media had asked, Doerting wouldn't have been the person to whom the question should be posed. He has already shown an uncanny ability to lie. Remember that when he was commenting for the fawning puff pieces the newspapers wrote about him early on, he stated that he did not get involved in politics, yet he later became active in a Franklin County judicial race.

In its zeal to bring down the first Republican governor in a generation, the press has played right along with the persecution and the governor's enemies. Never has scrutiny been placed on the investigators or the way the investigation was conducted.

We're pleased to hold everyone involved -- Doerting, Stumbo, the persecution team and the grand jury -- accountable and to demand answers. They probably will not be forthcoming, but at least we can put the questions out there in the public to help cast doubt on the procedure and the results. Because there's too much that needs to be questioned, and the institutions with the means to ask questions and get answers have abdicated their responsibility in the name of a politically motivated crusade.

Congratulations to Kenny Bishop!!!!!

We've known Kenny Bishop for years. The talents of his family's old singing group are not secrets to anyone familiar with gospel music. His tireless support of the Fletcher administration and his work during the campaign endeared him to many, who prior to that knew him only through his music.

To be nominated for a Grammy is a high honor. But to be nominated along with superstars like Alan Jackson and Randy Travis is taking it to another level.

We are very proud of Kenny and we congratulate him on this Grammy nomination. We certainly hope he'll be the winner when the awards are announced.

Kenny is yet another shining example of the integrity of the people the Fletcher administration has brought to state government.

We do wonder, though, how long it'll be before the media are trying to tear him down too, the way they've done Vince Fields and Daniel Groves and Cory Meadows and Bill Nighbert and Tim Hazlette.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

GOP Loyalists' Anger With Stumbo Becoming Obvious

While the developments in the governor's race continue to astound -- Jim Bunning becoming the latest prominent GOPer to refuse to endorse the incumbent governor who was once a colleague of his in Congress is the latest example -- the way things are shaking out in one particular downticket race shows that unlike many of the state's top GOPers, rank-and-file Republicans are not afraid to show their displeasure with the current attorney general.

We believe that if prominent Republicans had spent more time being critical of Greg Stumbo's persecution of Ernie Fletcher while it was ongoing and less time crying about how the investigation has hurt the party's chances of keeping the governor's office, much of the damage could have been blunted. We've believed this all along and will continue to say so. Mitch McConnell, Hal Rogers, David Williams and others have done their party an extreme disservice by remaining silent. We just wish that once, Williams or someone with a reputation for bluntness would have been quoted calling Stumbo "a son of a b*tch" or "a deadbeat dad." Even those types of comments would have helped. But none of our top Republicans had the decency or the guts to go after the problem. They chose to sit back, withhold comment, and then whine about their party's situation after Stumbo had done his thing.

However, it's encouraging to see so much interest from other Republicans in taking out Stumbo and paying him back for what he did to Fletcher.

Already one candidate, Tim Coleman, a commonwealth's attorney from the western part of the state, has declared his candidacy. But several other names are being tossed around and we are certainly glad to see this much interest from quality candidates.

Brian Goettl, the Jessamine County attorney who's an integral part of the Conservative Edge blog, is exploring a run.

So, too, is State Rep. Stan Lee from Lexington, a devout conservative and one of the true bright lights in the Kentucky GOP and the House of Representatives.

Erwin Roberts, former Personnel Cabinet secretary in the Fletcher administration, has also publicly said he'd like a crack at Stumbo. That would be sweet, especially since Roberts was a target of the persecution.

And at one time, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence said the AG's office was one thing he was considering after taking himself off Fletcher's re-election slate. We've been angry with Pence, along with the other GOP leaders mentioned earlier, for not being supportive of Fletcher or aggressive enough in his condemnation of Stumbo, but Pence could atone for this sin by running to be the nominee to give Stumbo the defeat he so richly deserves.

If we as Republicans get a primary field with even as few as two of these fine candidates, we will have done better than in 2003. For reasons that will never be explained, GOP primary voters stuck the party with the flawed Jack Wood over Tim Feeley as the candidate to run against Stumbo. And when a flawed Republican faces off against a flawed Democrat in Kentucky, given this state's voter registration patterns, the Democrat will usually win.

No Greg Stumbo, no merit system persecution, no questions about Fletcher's re-electability. It's as simple as that.

So while Bunning, McConnell, Ted Jackson and Jack Richardson continue to try to torpedo Fletcher from within the party, a group of thoughful, intelligent, promising candidates is emerging to take aim at the real problem, Greg Stumbo. The Republicans in this state would do well to channel the anger at Stumbo into a hard-hitting effort to do away with him in the political sense.

We'd have no problems supporting any of these candidates should they become the party's nominee.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Stumbo will give up the AG's spot for a run for governor or as the lieutenant governor candidate on someone else's slate. And in that case, the irony of possibly having a Republican attorney general to investigate an administration with Stumbo as part of it would be the ultimate revenge.

Paybacks are hell, Greg Stumbo. Don't you ever, ever, ever forget that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Desegregate neighborhoods, not schools

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a school desegregation case involving the Jefferson County school system.

We have always been in favor of neighborhood schools wherever possible. In rural counties where economies of scale require consolidating schools, this is not always possible. The result is a long bus ride for many students in communities where elementary schools once existed but had to be closed due to economic constraints or the conditions of the aging buildings (many of which date back to WPA days).

But it makes no sense for a child in Jefferson County to pass three schools on a bus to get to a school that needs to be desegregated in a bow to the almighty god of "Diversity."

If "Diversity" is such a grand and noble goal, then communities should be investing in diversifying their neighborhoods. They need to make predominantly black neighborhoods more appealing to whites, and vice versa. Don't make our children pay for your social experiments. Kids learn best in neighborhood schools, where they can attend class with their neighbors and learn from people they may run into on the street or in the grocery store.

We'd love nothing more than to see a return to neighborhood schools, and then put an emphasis on improving poor and neglected facilities while encouraging communities to foster voluntary desegregation and diversification through residency.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Welcome to Brett Hall and

We'd like to extend a welcome -- a laurel and hearty handshake, if you will -- to former Fletcher administration spokesman Brett Hall, who's entered the blogosphere with his entry.

We've met Hall on several occasions. He's an intelligent and insightful man and a clever political strategist. Unfortunately, his penchant for telling the truth and his use of blue language led to his dismissal from the governor's office.

He describes his blog as an alternative to Mark Nickolas' site, but without the personal attacks. Now politics is personal and can get very personal sometimes, but those personal shots need to be grounded in truth. We won't be timid about taking personal shots at well-deserving losers like Greg Stumbo, but there's truth behind those shots. Too often Nickolas rushes into "print" with only innuendo. false allegations, unsubstantiated rumors and the like. And he allows libelous comments to be posted and remain on his site. If was a newspaper, and the comments section was a "Sound Off" or "Speak Your Piece" type of forum for anonymous called-in comments, he'd probably already be facing half a dozen libel suits.

Already, the Hall-bashing has begun on Nickolas' blog. Someone referred to him as a foul-mouthed Yankee. Not true. While Jersey may have been his latest outpost prior to coming to the Bluegrass, Hall's originally from Texas. They have a tendency for shooting straight down there. Hence Hall's very true comment that some in the GOP hierarchy are not supportive of Gov. Fletcher and his re-election bid.

Hall appears to be a loyal friend and passionate defender of Ernie Fletcher. He had high words of praise for the governor after he was let go as spokesman. Our embattled governor needs this type of support. He deserves it. He's earned it, particularly in the face of persecution by Stumbo and the Democrats and tacit endorsement of the Democrats' tactics by key GOP leaders in this state. We need more Brett Halls and fewer Jack Richardsons and Ted Jacksons and Billy Harpers.

So welcome, Brett and We're glad you're here. Keep telling it like it is!