Friday, March 07, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

More on Conway's dereliction of duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Beshear does his duty; Conway chooses ideology over responsibility


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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