Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nepotism in Camelot

Kentucky Democrats have their panties in a wad over the fact that Sen. Jim Bunning paid his daughter a paltry annual salary from his campaign account to take care of his financial reports. They think this is terrible.

We take this opportunity to remind them that Democrat icon and martyred hero John F. Kennedy chose his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to be the attorney general of the United States.

What's more egregious: A senator hiring his daughter with private funds to do a decidedly non-glamorous task at a very pedestrian salary, or a president picking his brother for one of the top-level posts in the federal government?

Phrase it that way, and we'd be willing to bet the Democrats would say the latter. But add the correct party labels to the examples, and the Democrat critics of Bunning will change their minds faster than Jody Richards changes committee assignments after a vote goes sour.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The storm before the calm

This week's fireworks in the House of Representatives concerning the casino gambling amendment made for great drama and big headlines, but in the end it's all anti-climactic.

Given all the dissent and hard feelings in the house, and the battles between the casino interests and the equine interests, this bill will be lucky to pass the House by the required margin to get the amendment on the ballot.

And even if it does, it will go nowhere in the Senate.

The fireworks are pretty now, but the grand finale is going to be a real dud.

McCain continues to alienate his base (Or, what's in a given full name?)

They don't get much more conservative than Bill Cunningham.

"Willie," from his outpost at sister radio stations WLW and WKRC in Cincinnati, is a well-known voice across much of Kentucky and nationally as well. He's opinionated, outspoken and blunt. He tells it like it is.

But as he is wont to do, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has alienated yet another powerful member of the national conservative movement.

In case you haven't heard, Cunningham was warming up the crowd in the Queen City earlier this week in preparation for an appearance by McCain. During that time, he referred to Democrat candidate Barack Hussein Obama by his full name.

Shades of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, James Earl Jones, Martha Layne Collins, David Lee Roth and John Will Stacy! What an unspeakable abomination to use the same name that someone's mother gave them!

Speaking at a press conference after the public appearance, McCain condemned the supposed "disparaging remarks" that were supposedly made about Obama.

John Ed Pearce, the late liberal dinosaur Kentucky columnist, rolled over in his grave at the thoughts of a liberal Republican saying that using someone's full name was a disparaging remark. And Larry Dale Keeling missed the obvious opportunity for a pertinent column.

In the blink of an eye, McCain ticked off another conservative. Cunningham, who had shown his support for McCain just hours earlier, stated publicly (or publically, as Steve Beshear's press office prefers to misspell it) that he had withdrawn his support for McCain and would be backing Hillary Rodham Clinton for the presidency.

Let's see. That's two loyal, outspoken conservative media voices who have been so put off or offended by McCain that they've actually moved to support Hillary. Ann Coulter is doing so for policy reasons, but for Willie, it's personal.

McCain had no business coming down on Cunningham, a popular figure throughout the midwest. And if Obama's middle name is that much of an issue, maybe he should change it from "Hussein" to something like "James" or "Robert."

At least Cunningham didn't call him "Osama Obama," like Ted Kennedy (D-Chappaquiddick) did once upon a time.

Thank you, Sen. McCain, for giving conservatives another reason to oppose you. Keep alienating your base and you may be headed for a McGovern or Mondale-style beatdown.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crit Luallen, highway engineer?

Crit Luallen...

State auditor, former cabinet secretary, erstwhile Senate candidate, cancer survivor, highway engineer.

Highway engineer?

Well, it appears that way, given that Luallen's office issued a report scalding the Transportation Cabinet over its bridge inspection program.

New Transportation spokesman Chuck Wolfe was diplomatic in his response to Luallen, but he has to be. After all, a spokesman for the Democrat governor's Transportation Cabinet can't be too critical of the Democrat auditor. Party loyalty among the Party Of The Ass and all, you know.

But had this audit been released while Ernie Fletcher was still governor, we know exactly how former Transportation spokesman Doug Hogan should have responded:

"When Ms. Luallen gets her P.E. certification, then she'll be qualified to critique our bridge inspection program. Until then she should just stick to accounting matters."

But since Mr. Hogan is no longer with the cabinet, we'll say it for him but less diplomatically:

"Critter, you are unqualified to do anything more than count dollars, and you're marginally qualified to do that. So shut up and go back to hiding your party cronies' financial tricks while picking on every elected Republican official out in the state with your partisan-motivated audits. The only thing you know about a bridge is what you learned from playing cards."

"Don't blame me, I voted for Ernie..."

The above sentiment, posted by an anonymous commenter on in response to a thread on the casino gambling amendment, pretty well sums up the current mess in Frankfort, which has already been dubbed "Slot-Trot" by a few wags in the conservative Bluegrass blogosphere and the Republican Party of Kentucky.

For had the majority of voters in last fall's gubernatorial election opted to re-elect Ernie Fletcher, we wouldn't be on the cusp of the biggest political scandal to hit the commonwealth since BOPTROT in the early 1990s.

Had Fletcher been re-elected, there would have been no push from the Governor's Office to pass a casino gambling amendment. There would be no breakdown in the Democrat leadership in the House of Representatives. There wouldn't be a battle between the out-of-state (with one powerful in-state exception) casino interests and the horse racing/farming/breeding activists that has apparently turned into a bidding war that's caught the eye of the feds and threatens to bog down the entire legislative process.

Apparently inspired by a flippant comment made by Louisville TV journalist Mark Hebert about some Democrats in the House suggesting that the horse interests show the same level of financial support in their re-election bids this year that they did for Steve Beshear in last year's gubernatorial race, the news broke fast and furiously on blogs right and left Monday that federal agents had been spotted all over Frankfort.

We find delicious irony in this. Once federal investigations get going, they usually follow the evidence wherever it leads and the result is often a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and faster as it goes. And we suspect this one may actually roll uphill, directly toward the back office on the first floor of the Capitol.

Lots of questions have already been raised about the contributions made by gambling interests, including Kentucky's own Bill Yung, toward a special interest group devoted to getting Beshear elected. The group attacked Fletcher relentlessly on the subject of ethics, which was really just a front for the pro-casino interests that wanted Fletcher out and the friendly Beshear in.

Since the House Democrats apparently didn't get what they wanted from the horse industry, they are pushing a casino amendment that makes no guarantees as to the number of casinos that will be operated by equine interests. Could this be their way of taking revenge after the extortionist efforts failed?

We have no doubt that once the federal investigation gets into full swing, the G-men will be taking a look at Beshear as well as the legislators. And we'd find it deliciously ironic that an ethics investigation might be Beshear's downfall, stemming from his relationship with a group that funded ads that constantly pounded Fletcher on the subject of ethics.

The things Fletcher and his administration were accused of were nothing compared to what's being alleged now. The truth, and everyone in Kentucky knows it whether or not they will admit it, is that the Democrats have done far worse and much, much more during their years in power in terms of patronage hiring. Yet no one in the Fletcher administration was ever accused of extorting anyone in exchange for votes or favors.

Kentucky voters were warned about Beshear's squirrelly ethics. His actions regarding personnel violations in state government while he was attorney general, his conduct in the Kentucky Central affair, and his penchant for bringing old-style party hacks back into his administration was a dead giveaway that something like this could happen. The horse interests and casino interests appear to be in an all-out bidding war for the favors of government officials that lends itself to a hearty "See, I told you so" from thousands of Republicans and Fletcher backers across the state.

Kentucky is about to be shamed once again. This was both preventable and predictable, but voters in this state put fewer than two dozen highway department personnel actions above the best interests of the commonwealth and its people.

Friday, February 22, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Did personnel investigation figure illegally contribute to Beshear?

(We have had information on this matter for a couple of weeks, but had not done anything with it. But when we saw a reference to this matter in an anonymous post on Brett Hall's blog, we decided to go ahead with this story to clear up the matter since some questions were raised on Hall's blog.)

Did one of the key figures involved in the personnel investigation that doomed Ernie Fletcher's gubernatorial administration make illegal contributions to Steve Beshear's campaign by funneling money to Beshear through his elderly mother?

There is evidence to indicate that this is the case.

The individual in question is a state employee from rural Kentucky whose name figured prominently in news stories about the merit system hiring probe that dominated Kentucky news from the spring of 2005 until Fletcher lost his re-election bid to Beshear in November of last year. We know his identity but are not revealing it at this time.

On Aug. 14, 2007, this employee contributed the maximum of $1,000 to Beshear's general election campaign.

About a month later, on Sept. 19, the employee's mother made a $500 contribution to Beshear. A few weeks later, on Oct. 3, she made another $500 contribution to Beshear, bringing her total to the statutorily allowable maximum of $1,00.

The lady in question lives with her son, is a very elderly widow, and is a lifelong Republican who, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance's searchable database, had never before made a political contribution.

Although we are not aware of any KREF or criminal investigations regarding this matter, we certainly believe that it looks suspicious and merits investigation by someone, either an official entity or by the press. The media made a big deal of shadow contributions made to Ernie Fletcher, Anne Northup and Steve Henry by the daughter of a highway construction contractor employee. Why shouldn't a similar big deal be made about shadow contributions made by the mother of one of Ernie Fletcher's harshest critics and a prominent figure in the personnel probe?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How quaint -- A day set aside to honor murderers

Don't believe us? Read this letter in the Courier-Journal and see for yourself.

A national day of appreciation for murderers. What'll they think of next?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dear Courier-Journal: Ernie Fletcher isn't governor anymore

It seems someone forgot to tell the Courier-Journal that Ernie Fletcher isn't governor anymore and they can quit beating up on him.

In a "scoop" of less than monumental proportions today, the Louisville Birdcage Liner & Puppy Training Pad reports the the Pikeville hospital that recently hired Fletcher as a consultant received a large Medicaid settlement in October.

Immediately assuming the worst, the C-J sent hitman and hitwoman Tom Loftus and Debbie Yetter out to do another character assassination piece on the former governor.

What a colossal waste of time and ink. There is absolutely nothing fishy going on here.

For one thing, the payment was made in October, nearly a full month before the November election in which Fletcher lost his bid for another term.

And something else: In December, shortly before leaving office, Fletcher interviewed for a job out-of-state, long before the Pikeville consulting job was offered.

But perhaps the most telling fact in this matter is who defended Fletcher.

Masten Childers II spoke on behalf of Pikeville Medical Center and said he personally negotiated the settlement with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and that the governor's office had nothing to do with it.

Childers is one of the most partisan Democrat hacks you'll find east of I-75. He was a high-ranking official in Brereton Jones' administration, having served as secretary of the Cabinet for Human Resources during Jones' term. Childers would have no reason whatsoever to defend Ernie Fletcher if what he says isn't the truth.

Instead of continuing to beat a former governor, perhaps the C-J should turn its' reporters crack investigative skills on all the wrongdoing and fishy actions being taken in the current administration. Should Mr. Loftus or Ms. Yetter wish to contact us, we can give them probably a half-dozen leads that will lead to great stories if they only desire to look and do a little digging.

We'll check our e-mail ( tomorrow but we don't expect a request for leads.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Voters' remorse? Beshear supporters expressing disappointment

Brett Hall over at has done an excellent job at cataloging some of the critical comments some legislators of Gov. Beshear's own party have been throwing his way.

But is Beshear losing support among the rank and file voters who supported him? Is one of his key constituencies already abandoning him, or at least losing faith?

We keep hearing from or about state employees, some of whom were among Beshear's loudest advocates (or perhaps more correctly, among Gov. Fletcher's harshest critics) and were actually financial contributors to his campaign, that they're unhappy with the new governor.

On everything from policy to personnel decisions, people who voted for Beshear are expressing dissatisfaction. While not quite to the point of saying they wish they'd voted for Fletcher, it probably wouldn't take much -- especially when the majority of state employees realize that they won't be getting as much cash in their paychecks when they get their raise in the current administration as opposed to what they got under Fletcher.

We understand, too, that some of the personnel promises (re: promotions) made to certain employees haven't come through, further angering them. Never mind that these are blatant violations of the same merit system laws Beshear promised to obey, his campaign made promises to a lot of merit employees in exchange for their support and those promises are looking more hollow every day.

We're also hearing that the governor is losing support from a number of local officials, including Democrat county judges who think this administration is not being responsive to their needs. The recent decision not to support financial relief for county jails angered many county judges and jailers, most of them Democrats, who supported their party's nominee in November.

Beshear's administration has gotten off to a rocky start through a series of missteps that were totally avoidable -- and should have been avoided based on their assurances that they'd learned from the Fletcher administration what they shouldn't be doing. If the governor and his henchmen continue alienating some of their key supporters, and a recent Survey USA poll shows that to be exactly what's happening, Beshear could find himself without the confidence of the state's populace and all of his initiatives could be in danger with his administration not even a quarter of the way into his first year.

And it couldn't happen to a more deserving person.

Beshear's road plan screws rural areas

A casual perusal of the new road plan unveiled late Thursday by the Beshear administration shows that rural areas come out on the short end of the stick.

Indeed, many projects in rural areas that have been backed by past governors of Beshear's own party have been omitted. Most of these projects were still in the preliminary stages (design and right-of-way appraisal) and were a long way from actual construction, but anyone familiar with the road-building process knows that it's a lengthy journey from conceptualization to the first blast of dynamite or the first roar of a bulldozer.

Even though Democrat governors like Jones and Patton had pushed many of these projects, it's probably no coincidence that many of these projects are in Republican counties and in areas that have been long neglected by the state and need a shot in the arm for economic development and highway safety.

Some of the omitted projects are in the districts of key Republican senators, such as Robert Stivers and Tom Jensen, and the legislature has not had the chance to weigh in on Beshear's proposal. We have no doubt that many projects, included in past plans but omitted from this one, will be re-inserted. And when local county judges and the voters learn that projects their communities have been depending on for years -- and many for which state money has already been spent on preliminaries -- have been cancelled, changes will have to be made.

The excuses used for this gutting of the rural areas' road projects are that Lexington needs highway improvements for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and Louisville needs money for the Ohio River bridges project. Rural areas are already voicing resentment that they have to sacrifice to placate Lexington and a bunch of once-in-a-lifetime visitors from Europe.

And as for the Louisville bridges, we agree that an East End bridge is needed. The lack of one is a glaring gap in the interstate system as it now exists. But we don't understand why there is a need for legislation enabling local tolling authorities. Why can't the state build the bridge and connector routes using the same tolling mechanism used to build the Mountain, Blue Grass, Western Kentucky and other parkways? Surely that ability is still in place and hasn't been rescinded since the tolls were taken off the last two Kentucky turnpikes (Audubon and Green River) a couple of years ago.

Reaction to Beshear's highway plan has been muted because less than 24 hours later, he unveiled his casino gambling proposal. But we predict that when rural officials and residents learn just how many road projects have been cancelled in their areas, there'll be a public outcry.

And with good reason. Many rural officials and voters expressed a fear that after finally having some attention paid to them in the years that Ernie Fletcher was governor, they'd be neglected again if Beshear won. Their fears have come to pass. Beshear won, Fletcher lost, and the malignant neglect has already begun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good riddance! Richardson stepping down as Jefferson GOP chair

In the wake of the recent controversy over his remarks that Republican voters aren't qualified to select their party's nominees, Jefferson County GOP Chairman Jack Richardson IV has announced that he plans to step down from that position when elections are held this spring. Supposedly, Richardson made this decision a year ago but is just now making it public.

To that we say "Good riddance!"

Richardson's comments on Francene Cucinello's WHAS-AM radio show regarding the party's involvement in selecting and dissuading candidates to run for office in Republican primaries were outrageous. (Don't take our word for it; go to PageOne Kentucky and listen for yourself). Richardson basically said that the party leaders, not the voters, are the only ones who can be counted on to make the right choices in choosing a nominee for a general election race. That got our ire up, but truth be told, Richardson's been a disgrace for a lot longer.

Richardson basically took Greg Stumbo's side, and the side of Stumbo's fellow Democrats, in the battle against Ernie Fletcher. The Courier-Journal story cited above provides a reminder of this. Instead of calling a press conference to blast Fletcher, why didn't Richardson call a press conference to blast Stumbo and Crit Luallen? Why would the Republican party chairman in the state's most-populous county take the side of the party that's trying to take his own party's governor down?

We've been critical of Richardson the past few weeks, but he does deserve credit for placing challengers at the polls in 2003 in Jefferson County, to combat some of the vote fraud that may believe (with good reason) handed Paul Patton the 1995 election over Larry Forgy.

However, on balance, it's best that Richardson go, and we're only too glad to help show him the door. The next GOP chair in Louisville, whomever he or she may be, needs to understand two things. First is that the Republicans in Jefferson County tell you what to do, not vice versa. Second is that when the Democrats launch a partisan attack on one of your teammates, you defend your teammate, you don't join the assault against them.

A victory for Everydog

Permit us to diverge from the serious discussion of political matters to a bit of whimsy.

Could anything stir the soul more than a beagle hound winning "Best of Show" at the Westminster Kennel Club's annual event?

No frilly, fluffy poodles. No exotic breeds with names you can't pronounce. No fancy dogs with long, flowing hair.

A beagle. The kind of dog you keep in the backyard. The kind of dog you go hunting with. Snoopy. A dog that's popular with young and old, male and female, city and country.

This wasn't just any beagle, either. Uno was full of personality as he stole the show in Madison Square Garden, baying and barking even after he'd made his tour and the other contestants were strutting their stuff. He'd already set a precedent by becoming the first beagle ever to win the hound category at Westminster, and he even managed to top that accomplishment.

Dog shows aren't popularity contests. Contestants are judged against breed standards and the winners are typically those dogs whose physical characteristics most closely match what the breed should look like. Kinda like a canine swimsuit competition, if you will. But Uno, like most beagles, just oozed personality during his moment in the spotlight.

Many of us have no clue what those breeds are when they show up on our television every year when Westminster comes on. Truth be told, the dogs most of us have are mixed-breeds, rescued as strays or picked out of the "free puppies" box at the neighbor's farm. But we all know beagles. We either have them or we know someone who does. Not everyone has a poodle or a bichon frise. But we can all identify with a beagle hound.

The beagle is Everydog; the canine boy or girl next door. And in a world dominated by fancy, for once, blue collar wins. Hats off to Uno, a dog for the masses!

A wild two weeks in Kentucky politics

Things have been happening at a fast and furious pace on the Kentucky political scene the past two weeks.

We've had fireworks in the 2nd and 3rd District congressional races, high drama among the Democrats in the U.S. Senate race, an eye-opening special election for Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's old seat, and dissent in the ranks of both party structures. Add to that the ongoing General Assembly session and its attendant drama, and it's easy to see why it's been hard to keep up with all the comings and goings.

Here are some quick thoughts on some of the recent doings:

2nd District Race:

We're not going to pile on outgoing Congressman Ron Lewis, like many have. He was under absolutely no obligation to inform anyone of his plans. It's a free country and anyone can file to run for office. His decision to retire was unexpected and we don't have a problem with how it was handled. The subsequent decision by his chief of staff Daniel London to withdraw from the race has paved the way for Brett Guthrie to be the nominee, and he'll be a great candidate to run against whichever candidate the Democrats nominate, Reid Haire or David Boswell.

3rd District Race:

We've touched on the Chris Thieneman situation, in which he claims he was forced out by Jefferson County Republican leaders to give former Rep. Anne Northup a clear shot at the nomination. We and others have been very critical of Jefferson County GOP Chair Jack Richardson IV not for his role in Thieneman's decision, but for his statements that party leaders are better qualified to select the nominee than are party voters. We're pleased to hear that Richardson is stepping down as county chair in the state's largest county and we hope that Jefferson Countians will pick a loyal Republican for their chair, one who puts the interests of the party and its voters first and foremost ahead of narrow interests. Northup has a great chance to take her seat back from John Yarmuth and while we still haven't forgiven her for her challenge of Gov. Fletcher, we hope she wins.

Democratic Senate Race:

Bruce Lunsford got into the race, supposedly at the urging of high-power national Democrats and Gov. Steve Beshear. Unexpectedly, Andrew Horne -- the choice of the most liberal of Kentucky Democrats-- got out of the race. He hasn't stated why, but speculation is he was forced out by Beshear or other Democrat leaders. Many Democrats in Kentucky are still upset at Lunsford because he endorsed Ernie Fletcher over Ben Chandler in the 2003 governor's race after Lunsford dropped out, but they forget that Lunsford had a very good personal reason for doing so. He was the target of one of the most vicious and unfair personal attack ads launched by the Chandler campaign, and it would be stretching the bounds of reality to think he should suffer such a slander without retaliating. The most leftist of Democrats thought Horne would be a formidable challenger to Mitch McConnell, but they were kidding themselves. Horne was a weak, one-issue candidate whose backing came primarily from the the Democratic fringe, and he was little-known outside of Louisville. Democrats seem to be conceding the fall race to McConnell, but the truth is Horne was never much of a threat.

30th District Race:

A number of factors were in play here to push Republican State Rep. Brandon Smith into the Senate seat formerly held by the Democrat lieutenant governor. Many Democrats in the district were unhappy that the governor and lieutenant governor preferred Scott Alexander as the nominee, but the reality was that Roger Noe (the former state representative from Harlan County who openly coveted the nomination) was not a viable candidate and could not have won election in the district. The outcome was embarrassing for the Beshear/Mongiardo team and the Democrat leadership in Kentucky, and probably means that casino gambling is a moot point as the legislative session moves along.

Speaking of the legislative session, it's disturbing to see bad public policy coming out of the General Assembly faster than the Kentucky Wildcats missed shots and made turnovers against Vanderbilt last night. But it's harder to determine which is happening at a quicker pace, bad legislation being passed or the Beshear administration screwing up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Moonbats gather at the JFK Bridge, plan mass jump at noon

That loud collective wailing sound you heard late yesterday was the collective reaction of Kentucky's far-left fringe at the news that Andrew Horne had dropped out of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Horne, a former Marine and lawyer from Louisville, was the favorite candidate of the lefty kooks who felt he stood the best chance of beating Sen. Mitch McConnell this fall.

We never understood the loons' attraction to Horne, whose best qualification seemed to be that he lost the only other political race he ever attempted, a run in last year's 3rd District House primary where he lost to John Yarmuth.

Kentucky's moonbats, who show themselves at their idiotic best on the Web sites BluegrassRoots and Ditch Mitch, scoffed at the candidacy of Greg Fischer, were outraged when Bruce Lunsford got into the race, and dismiss outright the chances of the other hopefuls who've filed. Somehow they seemed to think that Horne was the best candidate to put up against McConnell.

Now they're wandering in the political desert and seem to be on the verge of mass suicide. They seem resigned to a Lunsford win and can't decide whether or not to support him in the fall.

Those of us in the conservative movement who are agonizing over the Republican Party's inevitable nomination of John McCain for the presidency can now take solace that the committed moonbats in Kentucky are facing a similar dilemma in the U.S. Senate race.

The only difference is that McCain has always been a viable candidate and his appeal is universally understood. A few on the left have made Horne into some sort of larger-than-life mythical figure and those of us with both feet on the ground just can't understand his popularity among the raving liberal lunatics.

At any rate, it's fun to watch the reaction to this news by those on the left.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Second page for Little Jackie Conway

Looks like once again, the Beshear administration has stumbled on a personnel matter.

This time, it appears that the geniuses now in charge of our state illegally fired a serviceman who was also an employee of the governor's office, and are now trying to justify that act by making suspicious after-the-fact maneuvers.

Sound familiar? It should. This was the same way the new administration handled the questionable raises given by former State Treasurer (and current Finance and Administration secretary) Jonathan Miller to his gal pal and former Treasury "girl Friday" Brooke Parker. They backdated some ACE awards, in total disregard for laws specifying the amount and frequency of ACEs.

Our new attorney general, Little Jackie Conway, who pledged to enforce the laws, has been MIA on the Miller-Parker situation.

Now we're paging Little Jackie Conway again. You need to investigate the situation surrounding Eric Landis' termination. We're not counting on it, though, since you and Beshear share that little (D) after your names.

But there's a silver lining in this cloud. Landis' employment situation is also governed by federal laws, which also appear to have been broken in this regard. A federal investigation is not out of the question here. Conway can save face by getting ahead of the feds on this, but if he doesn't, not only will he be further exposed as the partisan hack he is, but he'll be embarrassed because he let the feds beat him to the punch.

This is now the third high-profile personnel blunder made by the Beshear administration. The Miller-Parker situation, the Landis affair, and the PSC firings all got play in the press. We're aware of several other missteps that have not yet seen the light of day -- yet being the operative word.

Not good for a man who was elected primarily because of personnel decisions made by his predecessor, and for a man who promised to obey personnel laws if voted into office. But as we have said many times before, Beshear's record on staffing issues, dating back to his term as attorney general, is one of disdain for the state's personnel laws and policies. Why should anyone be surprised at the latest turn of events?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's official: We will have a liberal president

With the withdrawal of Mitt Romney from the Republican presidential race, the country is now doomed to having a liberal president for the next four years.

No matter whether it's John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, we will not have a conservative in the White House.

We will not be supporting, endorsing nor voting for John McCain this fall. We subscribe to the Rush Limbaugh theory that if the country is going to go to hell, we don't want to see someone with an R after their name get the blame. Better for the Democrats to take the shots for the policy failings that will invariably occur.

Therefore, we're now officially on the hunt for a third-party conservative candidate whom we can endorse and vote for. Hopefully there will be a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot this fall. We know a conservative third-party candidate will have no chance of winning, but we are not willing to sacrifice our principles and our honor by supporting McCain. That's not what conservatism is all about. We prefer to stand on principle and regroup for 2012.

We are truly saddened by this development. In our eyes, the Republicans are nominating the worst possible candidate. We'd almost prefer Ron Paul to John McCain. We don't relish seeing this fall's race for the presidency by two liberals.

More on Jack Richardson IV: He can't even follow his own rules

The saga surrounding Jefferson County Republican Chairman Jack Richardson IV keeps getting more interesting -- and more maddening.

Two weeks ago, WHAS radio host Francene Cucinello rightfully raked Richardson over the coals for his statements that party leaders, not party voters, should choose candidates for primary elections in an effort to put the best possible people forward.

Their dust-up was part of the fallout from the withdrawal of Chris Thieneman from the 3rd District congressional GOP primary field. Thieneman has alleged that he got heavy pressure from operatives of Anne Northup and Mitch McConnell to drop his bid.

Thieneman originally said he was going to endorse incumbent Democrat John Yarmuth and change his registration to Democrat. He's since backed off the latter claim but still plans to support Yarmuth, probably in retaliation for what he considers to be the party's strong-arm tactics against him.

But wait, there's more.

In his announcement last week that he's dropping out of the GOP race, Thieneman fired a few more shots across Richardson's bow. Some of them were direct hits.

Thieneman spent some time on the Jefferson County GOP executive committee and says he can't believe some of the things he was privy to during that time.

"You had to say that you swore to support every Republican no matter what," Thieneman says Richardson required.

Hmmm. Seems Richardson can't even follow his own rules. We remember that for the last two years, Richardson basically took former Democrat Attorney General Greg Stumbo's side against Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Richardson showed his own party's governor no love nor support, opting instead to bash Fletcher at every opportunity given him when a Courier-Journal reporter called Richardson for comment.

This just serves as another reminder as to why Richardson is not good for the Republican Party. Not in his home county and not in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He needs to be replaced as chair of the party in the state's most-populous county and Louisville Republicans will have that option this spring. We hope they'll avail themselves of the opportunity and choose a real, loyal Republican to lead them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Jack Richardson IV should be ashamed of himself

Lost in much of the hoopla over last week's political campaign filing deadlines (particularly Bruce Lunsford's entry into the Democratic Senate primary and Ron Lewis' exit from the Republican 2nd District Congressional primary) was the situation in Louisville's 3rd District GOP race.

Former Rep. Anne Northup decided to make a bid for her old seat after GOP candidate Erwin Roberts backed out, citing the impending call-up of his Army Reserve unit.

But prior to Northup's entry into the race, Louisvillian Chris Thieneman jumped into the fray. After Northup announced, Thieneman alleges, he got heavy pressure from operatives for Northup and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to drop out of the race and yield the right-of-way to Annie-Come-Lately, who wasn't even going to attempt the race until Roberts withdrew.

While we're troubled by Thieneman's allegations, we're even more bothered by what Jefferson County Republican Chairman Jack Richardson IV had to say about the party's involvement in discouraging candidates to run for office.

About the only place this has received any coverage is in the left-wing blog PageOne Kentucky, which gave a good account of an on-air conversation Richardson had with Francene Cucinello on WHAS-AM.

Richardson's comments can only be interpreted one way: Rank-and-file Republican voters don't know what they are doing, and it's up to the party hierarchy to select candidates. GOP voters shouldn't have a full field of choices in a primary election; they should only be able to choose from the candidates preferred by the party's leaders.

Of course, Richardson has a track record of being full of himself. He took Greg Stumbo's side when the Democrats led an all-out assault against Ernie Fletcher, Kentucky's first Republican governor in three decades. Richardson never publicly sided with Fletcher, instead offering criticisms that sounded more like they might come out of the mouth of Stumbo or Ben Chandler than the Republican party chairman in the state's largest county.

Richardson is a disgrace to the Republican Party. Francene is right. Elections -- even primaries -- should be decided by We The People, not They The Party Officials. Besides, if Northup wanted to run for her old seat back, she could have announced her candidacy months ago instead of waiting until Roberts had withdrawn and Thieneman had stepped up. Perhaps if Northup had made her intentions known earlier, Thieneman would have never filed and none of this would have happened.

(While we're still very upset with Northup's treatment of Fletcher, we hope she wins her old seat back and kicks John Yarmuth out of Congress. She was a good representative and it's be great to have her back in Congress and Yarmuth out).

If you're a Republican in Jefferson County and you're angry and insulted about Richardson's shameful and disgusting statements and conduct, you can do something about it. This is the year that the party reorganizes on local, district and state levels. This spring, you will have the opportunity remove Richardson as county party chairman. It would be in the party's best interests to do just that.

The truth about teachers' salaries

You may have already read or heard something about how Kentucky public school teachers won't be getting a raise under the budget Gov. Beshear announced last week. If you haven't, you probably will soon as the budget moves through the General Assembly.

While the budge may include no new state money for teacher salaries, the assertion that teachers aren't getting raises is blatantly false. That clever soundbite, used by the KEA and others to garner sympathy for teachers, is based on the general public's ignorance at how teachers' salaries are structured.

The reality is that in nearly every school district in Kentucky, teachers get raises every year as they gain experience.

The way teachers' salary schedules are devised, there is an increase in pay each year as teachers gain experience. Those increases are usually bigger in "milestone" years, such as between the fourth and fifth year when a teacher becomes tenured, or in years that end in 5 or 0. There are also differences in pay for teachers holding bachelor's degrees (Rank III), master's degrees (Rank II) or Rank I certification.

A teacher who does nothing other than work another year will automatically get a raise. Let's assume that a fifth-year teacher earns $35,000. Even if he or she does not earn a master's or Rank I, or take on any extracurricular duties for extra pay, he or she will get a raise simply by working another year, to the sixth-year level, which may be $36,200. That's a $1,200 annual pay raise even without any additional money being pumped into salaries by the state.

As teachers gain experience, they automatically get raises every year. That's unlike state employees, who if they don't get a promotion only get the annual increment alloted by the General Assembly. State workers don't get a raise for each year of experience the way teachers do. And while there may be educational incentives available for state employees, they don't automatically move into another pay grade by earning a master's or Rank I.

An influx of money for teacher salaries by the legislature would actually mean that teachers would get TWO raises in a year -- the "step" raise they automatically get for another year of experience, plus whatever percentage raise each experience level gets from the state.

So don't be fooled when you hear that teachers aren't getting a raise this year. It's simply not true.

(Teacher salary schedules are matters of public record and if you want to see for yourself, simply ask your public school district for a copy of their salary schedules, which are adopted by the school board every year in a public meeting).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bluegrass Fraud'em Fund

And now the truth comes out.

The Bluegrass Freedom Fund, which relentlessly blistered Ernie Fletcher over the merit system hiring investigation, was really a front for the gambling interests that want to bring casino gambling to the Bluegrass State.

They had no interest whatsoever in "restoring" ethics to state government. They merely wanted to remove a key obstacle to the pot of gold they see at the end of the rainbow in Kentucky.

Had the personnel probe not happened, the Bluegrass Fraud'em Fund would have found something else with which to bash Fletcher over the head. Had he followed in the Patton/Clinton mold, he'd have been incessantly criticized for being an unfaithful husband. If nothing else, they'd have ripped him because the state airplane's transponder malfunctioned when Fletcher flew to D.C. for Reagan's funeral.

It's become obvious that the major pro-casino forces in this state have to resort to stealth maneuvers to get their message out. Had the Fraud'em Fund based its campaign on gambling, the success would have been marginal. And there have been other groups that have presented themselves to Kentuckians via a Trojan horse (pun intended).

The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) kept its true identity under wraps at the start, introducing itself to the public with the "Horses Work" ads and gaining the support of the horse show and pleasure riding constituencies in Kentucky before unveiling a pro-casino platform.

Eventually, the truth comes out, but usually long after the damage has been done. If voters had known that the Bluegrass Fraud'em Fund was really a front for casino interests and the goal was to take out an anti-casino governor at any cost, perhaps they'd have paid less attention to what the Fraud'em Fund was saying and more attention to why they were saying it.

Disgusting. As we've become fond of saying, it's going to be a long four years.

Friday, February 01, 2008

GOP presidential endorsement: Mitt Romney

To be quite honest, we never intended to make this endorsement, and we did not intend to make an endorsement at this time.

However, with the rise of Sen. John McCain's stock and with Super Tuesday coming up, we feel we have no choice but to offer our endorsement to the former Massachusetts governor and Olympics chairman, Mitt Romney, for the Republican presidential nomination.

We are truly fearful that the nation will have to choose between two liberals in this fall's election. That will be disastrous for the country.

Romney wasn't our first choice for this endorsement. The truth is there is not a single true, pure conservative in the GOP race. All have faults and points in their past that keep them from claiming the Reagan mantel. However, we examined the pluses and minuses of each of the legitimate contenders and had come to a consensus to endorse Rudy Giuliani. Yes, the former New York City mayor has his shortcomings, particularly on social issues, but he is a strong law-and-order and fiscal conservative, and we took him at his word that he would appoint Supreme Court justices and federal court judges in the mold of Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts. Plus, Giuliani lived the Sept. 11 experience like no other politician and he has the most valid reasons for wanting to prevent a similar, subsequent attack.

But with Giuliani dropping out this week (and disappointingly supporting McCain), we have no choice but to throw our endorsement to Romney.

John McCain is not a conservative. In fact, we're not even sure he's a Republican. His support of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law was a boon to Democrats. That law makes it harder for Republicans to get their messages out and gives a louder voice to the liberal media. (Is anyone surprised that the most liberal newspapers are endorsing McCain)?

Most conservatives oppose loose borders and giving amnesty to illegal aliens, but that's what McCain wants.

He opposed the Bush tax cuts.

He wants to treat captured terrorists with kid gloves.

And so on.

We honor McCain's military service and especially his time as a prisoner of war during Vietnam. But at the time when this nation needs a strong conservative leader, he is exactly the opposite of what we need, yet Republicans are rushing headlong to coronate him.

Quite frankly, it disgusts us to see Republicans, who are supposed to be conservatives, flocking to this RINO who has abandoned so many of our core principles. We cannot believe that he appears to be on the fast track to nomination. And we seriously have a hard time figuring out who'd be worse for the country as president, McCain or Hillaryobama.

Rush Limbaugh had a novel thought last week: If the country is going to go to hell over the next four years, it might as well be under a Democrat so the Republicans don't get the blame.

Our support for Romney comes almost by default. There are certain aspects about his record that give pause. But he is not McCain, and definitely is not as liberal as McCain, and right now that's the best things he has going for him.

We haven't been impressed at all with Mike Huckabee, so we didn't give him much thought, and Ron Paul is an absolute kook and hardly a true conservative (due to his lack of support for national security and defense), so he never got a second look. We had high hopes for Fred Thompson, but learning of his support for McCain-Feingold turned us against him even before he bowed out. So we choose Romney pretty much by default as the anti-McCain.

If you have Republican friends or relatives in any of the Super Tuesday states, please contact them and tell them to vote for Mitt Romney. We must nominate a conservative and keep the liberal RINO senator from Arizona from being our nominee.

Perry school superintendent cleared of child porn allegations

Last year, we reported that John Paul Amis, superintendent of Perry County Schools, was under a cloud of suspicion for allegedly having pornography on his school computer. Others intimated that the porn was actually child porn. Amis, who hails from the same hometown as Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, was a member of new Gov. Steve Beshear's transition team for the Education Cabinet.

In the interests of fairness, we report that Amis has been cleared of these allegations when a sitting grand jury in Hazard returned a "no true bill" after investigating the allegations.

You can read the news about the investigation and the grand jury's decision at if you like. Registration may be required.

Hypocrisy on parade -- or should that be, hypocrisy in flight?

Hardly two months into his term, which he won largely on the basis of basing his campaign on ethics, Steve Beshear is doing exactly the same things he accused Ernie Fletcher of doing and said he would not do.

Beshear has been mixing official and campaign events and flying to them on the state airplane. This is something he roundly criticized Fletcher for and promised he would not do.

His latest dual-purpose trip was to Harlan County, where he announced a Homeland Security grant. However, we know his real purpose there was to try to mend some fences in a community where the locals are angry that their native son, Roger Noe, was not the Beshear administration's favored candidate in the special election to replace Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo in the state Senate.

The Democrats are fractured in Harlan and Noe seems on the verge of leading a revolt, as evidenced by his much-publicized letter to the editor in area papers last week. Hence Beshear's trip down there yesterday, along with a late-night press release announcing that he is recommending approval of a grant for Bell County. Beshear is trying to shore up support for Scott Alexander, the Democrat nominee.

And what did we hear incessantly the past four years? That Fletcher was rewarding his political cronies and contributors with appointments?

Yesterday, Beshear appointed John Paul Chappell to a district judgeship. Chappell had previoiusly contributed financially to Alexander's campaign. While the contribution was minimal ($200) and noted and respected Republican blogger Jonathan Gay (Cyberhillbilly) speaks highly of Chappell's integrity, there is an appearance of something fishy and Beshear's campaign was all about perception instead of reality. (The reality being that the Fletcher administration did NOT do all those things they were accused of.)

People who voted for Beshear, expecting some great mystical ethical figure who would live up to his promises, were badly fooled. So far, Beshear has proven that he would have to look up, way up, to even see the bottom of the ethics barrel.

More proof that Beshear, like most Kentucky Democrats, is a hypocrite and the people of Kentucky have been bamboozled again.