Thursday, May 29, 2008

Something's missing

We looked and looked at Gov. Beshear's executive order's alterations to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. Something seemed to be missing, and it took us a couple of days before we could finally figure it out.

There's no prohibition against a gubernatorial candidate accepting the benefits from ads run by a bogus 527 outfit, ripping the incumbent governor over ethics while all the while it's a front for a pro-gambling coalition.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Boogity Boogity Boogity -- Let's go racing at taxpayers' expense

Owensboro native and three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip begins each Fox telecast of a stock car race with the phrase "Boogity Boogity Boogity, let's go racing boys!"

Gov. Steve Beshear is taking Ol' DW's advice and is going to boogity on down to North Carolina this weekend at taxpayers' expense to lobby for a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

Beshear didn't waste any time making political hay out of today's announcement that Kentucky Speedway has been sold to Speedway Motorsports Inc. SMI owns several racetracks where NASCAR holds Sprint Cup races, most notably Atlanta, Bristol and Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

Kentucky NASCAR fans have long wanted one of the races in the top touring series to be held at Kentucky Speedway. The speedway even sued NASCAR in an unsuccessful attempt to have the sanctioning body hold a race there.

Now, with the purchase of Kentucky Speedway by SMI, rumors are rampant that SMI chair Bruton Smith will be moving a race from his New Hampshire track to Kentucky.

The deal was announced informally this morning by Jerry Carroll and the formal announcement is to come in Charlotte, the site of this weekend's Coca-Cola 600.

This afternoon, Beshear's press office issued a statement in which Beshear essentially tries to take some credit for the sale.

But here's the kicker: "To make sure we don't lose any momentum, I will be traveling to North Carolina for the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend to visit with Bruton and get specific about how we will work together to bring a Sprint Cup race to Kentucky Speedway."

Beshear may be trying to take some credit for the sale, and no doubt he will do the same if a Cup race comes to Kentucky, but he'll be doing so at the expense of the truth (which is common for this inept governor).

Waltrip has long been involved with the speedway, and a statue representing him after he won the 1989 Daytona 500 stands in front of the gift shop. Waltrip is also a conservative Republican who supported Ernie Fletcher, recorded commercials for him and other Republican politicians, and has been rumored to be giving thought to moving back to Kentucky and running for governor someday.

Waltrip's efforts have done more to promote the speedway than anything Beshear's done, yet he'll be right out in front if there ever is a big announcement that a Cup race is coming to Sparta.

And in the name of economic development, we (meaning the taxpayers of Kentucky, not just the proprietors of this blog) will be paying for Beshear to attend one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year.

Boogity Boogity Boogity, indeed.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dear Steve Beshear: The election's over (part 83)

Continuing to show a lack of class, Gov. Beshear again rubbed salt in the wounds of Ernie Fletcher and state Republicans today by giving Billy Harper a seat on the state Board of Education.

Harper, you'll remember, was one of the two opponents Fletcher faced in last year's GOP gubernatorial candidate. Harper and ex-Congresswoman Anne Northup combined to cause Fletcher to spend a good portion of his campaign war chest that would have otherwise gone toward an incumbent combatting the attacks from the Democrats in the fall, and they certainly helped soften him up for Beshear in the fall.

Yes, Harper's been involved in education initiatives in the past, and yes, he's probably qualified to sit on that board, but his appointment can't be viewed as anything other than adding insult to injury to Ernie Fletcher, if not an outright payback for Harper's help in Beshear's victory over Fletcher last fall.

Through his words and deeds, Beshear continues to make himself look small and undignified in his constant digs at the previous governor. Ernie Fletcher doesn't care; he's probably enjoying life more as a private citizen than he did the last 10 years as a prominent political figure in Kentucky. But Republicans should care, and Fletcher supporters like us have long memories and we won't forget.

You won, Beshear. You're not running against Ernie Fletcher anymore. Be a gracious winner and act like one while you're at it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The bugs are coming, the bugs are coming!

We've seen no mention of this anywhere in the state's media, but it should be noted that this moth will mark the emergence of the brood of 17-year cicadas last seen around these parts in 1991.

Seventeen years ago, they began emerging about this time in May and were pretty much gone by the first of June. While they were here, the hills and valleys resonated with their song that quickly became omnipresent and annoying -- much like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama and their surrogates will be during the next two weeks.

Let us know when the cicadas start emerging in your area.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Democrats' disgusting comments linking Derby, Dem presidential race

Not long after the tragic ending of Saturday's Kentucky Derby, some Democrat/liberal bloggers began making comparisons between the Derby and the Democrat presidential race.

The brown one won. The filly came in second and had to be euthanized.

We find these comments to be truly disgusting and abhorrent. Those who made them should be truly ashamed of themselves.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Obama can thank a Kentuckian for his viability as a presidential candidate

If Barack Obama is elected president, Kentucky will have played a direct role in that historic election.

Even if Hillary Clinton wins this month's Democrat primary; even if John McCain wins Kentucky this fall and gets our state's electoral votes, Kentucky will have had a direct role in Obama's rise to the presidency.

For if not for the allegations made by a Kentuckian in an Illinois divorce case, Obama might never have been elected to the U.S. Senate and thus be in a position to run for the presidency.

Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 and is just past the midway point of his first term. Prior to that he had been a state legislator in Illinois.

During the 2004 election, Obama was originally pitted against Republican opponent Jack Ryan. However, Ryan dropped out of the race after allegations made against him by his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, in their divorce case were made public against the wishes of both parties and despite a previous court order sealing them.

Jeri Ryan was an Army brat, born in Germany, whose family eventually settled in McCracken County. She graduated from Lone Oak High School near Paducah and went to Northwestern University in Illinois. Her marriage to Jack Ryan lasted only a few years, and when they divorced she made some salacious allegations against him. Those divorce records were sealed at the request of both Ryans and at the order of a judge.

Those divorce records became a point of contention in the Ryan-Obama Senate race, and a judge eventually ordered them released over the objections of Jeri and Jack Ryan and contrary to the initial judge's order sealing them. The divorce records proved embarrassing to Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the Senate race amidst pressure from the Illinois GOP apparatus. The Illinois party eventually recruited Alan Keyes to move there and take Ryan's place on the ballot, and Keyes was later trounced by Obama in the general election.

If not for Jeri Ryan's explosive (and some say possibly untrue) allegations against her ex-husband in their divorce case, and if those records had remain sealed as the Ryans had wished, then Barack Obama may never have been elected to the United States Senate. He would have remained, in the words of talk show host and Landmark Legal Foundation guru Mark Levin, "a back-bencher in the Illinois state legislature" and would not have the stature of a U.S. senator to be a viable presidential candidate.

So, no matter how Kentucky votes in the primary or general elections, if Obama is elected president, then the state -- or at least someone from here -- will have played a major role in that landmark event.

If Obama wins, he owes Lone Oak High graduate Jeri Ryan big-time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Fraud investigation in the Transportation Cabinet

Late last month, an investigator from the Transportation Cabinet's Office of Inspector General and a detective from the Kentucky State Police spent a couple of days interviewing Department of Highways employees at one of the cabinet's district offices. The purpose of the interviews was to investigate claims of timesheet fraud by employees at one of the county highway garages in that district.

(We aren't going to divulge the location of the interviews or the county in question, but there's a whopper of a clue in the next sentence if you know how to figure it out).

The details of the scheme go like this: After regular working hours, an employee in that county was calling the central dispatch office to report hazards in the roadway, such as rockslides or fallen trees. The dispatcher would relate the information to highway department officials, who in turn would notify the employees who were "on call" to go deal with the problem and remove the fallen tree, clear the rockslide, or whatever was reported.

The problem is, the hazards were non-existent. There were no problems with the roads. The calls were designed to get the state employees out to earn some overtime pay without having to do any real work, other than answer the call, find no obstructions in the road, and return home.

The scheme was uncovered accidentally, when an employee not involved in the fraud tried to enter some timesheet records into the state's computer payroll system. The system picked up on some discrepancies and threw up a red flag, which was noticed by officials who referred the matter to higher-ups once it became apparent what was going on.

No charges have yet been filed, no indictments have yet been returned, and to our knowledge no employees have yet been disciplined or fired. But there are some nervous people in the county involved, as some serious jail time could result.

This situation has been mentioned in passing on some of the other blogs in Kentucky, and at least one big-city newspaper reporter knows of it, but to date nothing has been reported. We think there's a reason for this.

You see, in the county in question, the ratio of Democrat state employees to Republican state workers is 3:1. That means that 75 percent of the state employees are registered Democrats, which logically means that the vast majority of workers involved in the fraud are also Democrats. State highway garages have been one of the most popular places for Democrat patronage hiring practices the past three decades.

This scandal isn't going to strike at the heart of management, the Fletcher administration, or Republicans. It's going to affect the products of the Democrat patronage system, who got their jobs mainly through political considerations and not because of their qualifications. Since it doesn't involve Republicans to a large degree, it's not of interest to the state's media.

This should be of interest to all Kentucky taxpayers, who have long suffered from the abuses of the entrenched Democrat interests in state government. Perhaps some conscientious media outlet will see this and shine a light on a deep, dark secret of state government where the cobwebs have accumulated for years.

Crit Luallen's new PR firm

Being avid consumers of news, we've noticed something recently.

Each time state Auditor of Public Accounts Crit Luallen releases an audit critical of some aspect of state government (particularly anything relating to the Fletcher administration) it merits huge headlines and a treasure trove of column inches in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

There are other, bigger stories out there that the H-L could be covering, but they're passing them up in order to give Luallen plenty of earned media.

It makes us wonder: For what purpose is the Herald-Leader pimping Luallen? (And yes, we use that term intentionally.) Why are they so interested in promoting her and what she's doing? Why not tout, instead, something that another official is doing -- perhaps some of Trey Grayson's civic education or presidential primary reform initiatives?

Comments, speculation and idle gossip welcome.

What has changed in five years for Dems?

In the waning days of the 2003 Democrat gubernatorial primary, Ben Chandler unleashed the political equivalent of a nuke on the campaign of Bruce Lunsford.

Lunsford, a former nursing home executive, found himself on the business end of a nasty personal attack ad from the Chandler camp. Lunsford was basically accused of personally abusing patients and of kicking them out of his nursing homes.

The commercial stung. It was the nastiest personal attack ad we've ever seen in Kentucky politics. Not having time to respond with a television ad of his own, Lunsford instead dropped out of the race, endorsed Chandler's remaining primary opponent Jody Richards, and eventually endorsed Chandler's Republican opponent in the general election.

(We can't say that we blame Lunsford for endorsing Ernie Fletcher over Chandler. If we were Lunsford, we'd probably have beaten the crap out of Chandler and then urinated on his bloody carcass when we were finished.)

Other than Lunsford himself, and a few media analyses that called the ad unfair, no one raised a stink about it. The ad did its job: It chased Chandler's closest opponent from the race, although Chandler got a scare when the bump from Lunsford's endorsement of Richards sent the anti-Chandler vote to the House speaker and he came within a whisker of beating Chandler.

Fast forward five years to 2008, when Lunsford is running for the Democrat nomination for United States senator. One of his opponents, Louisville-area businessman Greg Fischer, launches the same type of attack on Lunsford, using the same type of information, as Chandler did in '03.

What happens? Four prominent Democrats write a nasty letter to Fischer, demanding that he cease and desist and cautioning that such personal attacks are harmful to their party.

Where were these prima donnas five years ago? Why weren't they complaining about Chandler's attacks on Lunsford?

The letter's signatories include Congressman John Yarmuth, Auditor Crit Luallen, Attorney General Little Jackie Conway and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo. Conspicuously absent from signing the letter, apart from Gov. Steve Beshear, is Congressman Ben Chandler.

Why wouldn't he join his fellow Democrat congressman in condemning the personal attacks against Lunsford? Could it be that if he condemned the exact same thing he did five years ago would be ... gasp ... hypocritical?

Hypocrisy among Democrats is one thing that has certainly remained constant over the past five years, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Same as it ever was in Transportation

During the last year of Ernie Fletcher's term as governor, the Transportation Cabinet made some significant improvements in efficiency and cost savings.

Key among them were two initiatives. One was a ban on most employees driving state vehicles to and from work. The other was a near-total ban on the use of the Internet for non-business purposes.

These two moves saved thousands of dollars.

In less than six months in office, in a time of a supposed budget crisis, Steve Beshear's administration has undone both of these efficiency initiatives.

Under new vehicle use policies implemented by former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, the number of employees allowed to drive state vehicles to and from the state's 12 district highway offices was vastly reduced. Only county foremen and the district's safety officer were allowed to commute to work in state vehicles, and that was because of the nature of their jobs. Previously, employees such as branch managers, maintenance engineers and even the highly-paid chief district engineers drove their assigned state vehicles to and from work instead of their personal vehicles.

Now, when gas prices have reached an all-time high, current Secretary Joe Prather has reversed course. Many highway department employees once again are driving to and from work in state vehicles, with taxpayers paying for gas and for vehicle wear-and-tear.

Where's the cost savings in that?

Last summer, Transportation implemented a very strict Internet usage policy that was tougher than the statewide standard enforced by the Commonwealth Office of Technology. While the enterprise-wide policy discourages, but does not prohibit, occasional use of the Internet for personal business such as banking or online shopping, Transportation's policy banned it completely. This was done in an effort to increase efficiency in the workplace.

Yesterday, Prather rescinded Transportation's policy and instead decreed that henceforth, Transportation will follow the COT policy in effect for all state agencies. That act, combined with the repeal of the ban on visiting political blogs, means that once again, state employees can read up on political gossip or order stuff from without fear of punishment.

But they shouldn't get too overconfident. The COT policy still specifically prohibits, among other things, eBaying, posting to blogs or expressing political opinions over the state network. That stuff will have to wait until they get home.

Another good reason to vote GOP

Need yet another good reason to vote for Republicans?

How about the future of one of Kentucky's great traditions?

Yesterday was the Great Steamboat Race, one of the best events of Kentucky Derby week. If the Democrats get their way, it'll be the last Great Steamboat Race.

The race pits the Belle of Louisville against the Cincinnati-based Delta Queen. The Delta Queen has been operating under an exemption from a federal safety law prohibiting wooden boats from carrying overnight passengers.

That exemption may be coming to its end, though, and that would be a shame.

When the Democrats took over both houses of Congress in 2006, the committee chairs changed. A Minnesota Democrat, Jim Oberstar, took over as chair of the House transportation committee. He opposes a continued exemption and has already killed one effort to extend the current exemption, which ends in November.

This wouldn't have happened had the Republicans kept control of the House.

So voters in Louisville and central Kentucky take note: A vote for re-electing John Yarmuth or Ben Chandler is, in effect, a vote to kill the Great Steamboat Race. A Republican majority in the House would result in a new Transportation chair, which no doubt would result in a continuation of the Delta Queen's exemption.

This is just one more example of why Democrats are out of touch with Kentucky, with Kentuckians, and with our values and traditions.

Save the Great Steamboat Race. Boot Yarmuth and Chandler out of Congress.