Kentucky Blog

Because Kentucky Is Not Called the "REDgrass State"

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Importance of Gay Marriage

Apparently to the US Supreme Court gay marriage is not so important after all. Were it such a threat to our way of life or our democracy I'm sure the Justices would have taken it on. But this raises the question: what impact does Massachusetts' gay marriages have on Kentucky's obligation to recognize the marriage under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution?

None. Under the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law in 1996, the federal law defines marriage as male-female. Also, a caveat to the Full Faith and Credit Clause exists for marriage - one state need not recognize another state's marriage if to do so would offend a deeply held public policy. Perhaps a more fruitful protection of marriage as an institution would be working on getting Kentucky out of the group of states in the top 25% of divorce rates.

Medicinal Marijuana...Pass the Cheeto's

The US Supreme Court will be hearing a case to determine the legality of medicinal marijuana. Given that no one has ever been documented as dying from an overdose of marijuana, there is simply no logical argument to support a ban on medicinal marijuana. The old addage that medicinal use will lead to outright legalization is simply bogus and so idiotic that it barely warrants a discussion.

The same could be said of oxycontin or demoral, yet both are perfectly legal and lead to numerous deaths per year. Deaths caused from recreational usage. Marijuana is a natural herb with medicinal qualities whose only side effect seems to be that it makes the user crave carb loaded foods. Manufactured drugs such as Vioxx relieve pain, but, as in the case of Vioxx, are related to heart attacks and cardiac related deaths in over 139,000 Americans. If a person dying of cancer can drown their pain with a bottle of Jack Daniels, why should they not be able to smoke the pain away with a tightly rolled joint?

To date I have heard no Bible verse that would ban marijuana, so I am truly at a loss as to why there's an attempt to ban medicinal marijuana or why marijuana is even listed as a banned narcotic. For 2003, Kentucky ranked 11th nationally in alcohol related traffic fatalities, yet recreational alcohol is readily available. I'm willing to buy that marijuana is a "gateway" drug (though I'll disagree it's more of one than alcohol or super glue, for that matter), so can at least see the point of that argument, if not the merit.

But this is simply insufficient to ban marijuana from being prescribed by a medical doctor to his or her patient.

It's All in the Timing

Steve Pence follows my post last night with an op-ed piece today in the Courier-Journal regarding Gov. Fletcher's drug treatment program. Apparently Pence caught some flack from Fayette County Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson for suggesting that Kentucky treat some drug offenders for the habit rather than the crime. More accurately, Larson misconstrued the Governor's plan and characterized it as a plan to incarcerate fewer criminals.

The whole op-ed is short and worth the read if for no other reason than to put the debate in context. The problem with this debate is that people like Larson, perhaps seeking political gain, tries to derail the debate right from the start by re-categorizing the theories supporting the conclusion. There's nothing wrong with seeking political gain from someone's missteps, but this is hardly a misstep by the Governor. If Larson really wants to criticize the Governor, there are plenty of things that have been done wrong. A proper criticism vis-a-vis the drug plan may have been one along the lines of lack of funding.

The bottom line is that what the Governor is proposing is absolutely right, and deserves honest public debate, not petty sniping from a public official that should really know better. Who better to know the draining effects that incarcerating drug users has on our judicial system than a Commonwealth Attorney? Who better to validate the notion that drug users are more properly rehabilitated through medical treatment than prison? Larson would be serving his community if his criticisms were more substantive and furthered the debate, rather than tossing cheap potshots that are irrelevant to the issue.

I'll never be accused of coddling the Governor, and I'll have plenty of criticisms. But this site is about promoting good, sound public policy regardless of partisan benefit. Our elected officials would be wise to follow suit.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Defending the Defenders

The press has finally caught on to a cause of the disparity in the justice handed out to the wealthy versus that handed out to the poor. This article points out that public defenders take on an average of 489 new cases per year, and that stat doesn't take into account cases that roll over to the following year. What the article does not take into account, or explore, is not only how overworked public defenders are but how little they actually get paid. Some public defenders start out at as little as $28,000 per year, but may graduate law school with $50,000 in student loans or more.

David Williams may have a point that the system is gamed by those that can afford private counsel, but honestly if someone is charged with a serious crime and can afford private counsel, aren't they going to pay the price instead of taking the gamble? In reality that arguments holds little, if any merit, except perhaps as to habitual drug offenders who know how the system works in terms of standard plea deals, etc. The larger issue that should be addressed is what can be done to make the system more efficient.

Those in favor of amending the US Constitution on a whim would of course say take away the right to counsel. We'll ignore them for purposes of this discussion although at least one of our state's Representatives has shown disdain for our Constitution (Ron Lewis I'm talking about you - but I'm willing to accept that it could have been ignorance rather than a deliberate violation of your oath to "uphold the US Constitution).

In some respects I'm conservative, albeit mainly fiscally. So I'm skeptical that throwing more money at the system as the sole remedy is the way to go. I subscribe to Gov. Fletcher's plan to treat drug offenders for the addiction rather than the crime, however in that case you do have to fund it (the proposal, while novel, had no funding attached to it). Arguably drug use crimes should be treated as medical issues rather than criminal. Perhaps this change coupled with a slightly more reasonable increase in public defender budgeting could even out the case load.

Unfortunately Gov. Fletcher's eyes are bigger than his stomach, and the politically advantageous slogans of "no tax increases" or "revenue neutral tax code changes" are more appealing for his administration than good governance. If the people want something they have to be willing to pay for it. And to try and convince them they can have both what they want but a lower tax bill is just dishonest. Kentuckians are entitled to a faird debate, and an honest choice. I suspect that if they really knew where their tax dollars were going and the sacrifices that the few dollars a month they may be saving actually require, the people may just make a rational choice.

Sadly, the party that wants "to keep government out of people's lives" is taking away the people's ability to make choices for themselves through slick marketing ploys and sound bite politics. Even more sadly, the media lets them get away with it.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Gov. Fletcher, Former MD

When he recently signed a death warrant it prompted the KMA to look into revoking his medical license for violations of AMA guidelines. And it appears they are being pressed to do so.

State Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat, said of the governor: "It's curious he
will keep his no-new-taxes pledge but will violate his Hippocratic oath. I'm not
sure how he sleeps at night with this kind of decision."

It is a bit ironic. Teachers had to threaten a strike to maintain health care that was affordable on their salaries which are disproportionately less than the salaries of comparable teachers in every state surrounding Kentucky. We don't have a budget. People are losing health care insurance, and if Bush's tax plan passes more employees of small businesses will be losing theirs too. Poverty is growing. Medicaid is being cut. State college tuition has risen 13% and 10% in the past two years respectively, and state universities have had to slash budgets again.

So why did we spend $13.7 million on marketing?

Homeland Security and the Cable Guy

Gov. Fletcher has recently named 31 year old Keith Hall to head Kentucky's Department of Homeland Security. His qualifications? He was a lawyer in Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's law firm after graduating law school in 1999, then lobbied on behalf of the local cable company, Insight Communications, in New York from 2001 to 2003. He returned to Kentucky to work on Fletcher and Pence's transition team and was an aide in an office or two.

What does he know about homeland security? That Kentucky doesn't have too many appealing targets? I'll make a confession - I know Keith Hall, and actually liked the guy when I knew him. And I will add too, that when I first met him years ago he was a conservative, strict constructionist, and it appears he is still one today. Whatever you want to say about his qualifications to protect us from the al Qaeda that Jim Bunning was so worried about down in Paducah at the Quilter's Club, Hall was always a smart and energetic individual. He had a true George W. Bush styled mentality, and I don't mean that he was dishonest like GWB. I mean that he took a position and stood by it, for right or for wrong. And in law school, matching wits with a law professor that's argued against thousands of people that sat in that same chair Keith Hall sat in, sticking to your guns in the face of adversity is admirable. Although, as GWB has shown it can result in the death of thousands of civilians and over 1200 US Troops. I'm going out on a limb, but I did't get that sense about Keith. Despite his irrational positions, at least as I perceived them, he came across as a guy with a conscience, something I don't think GWB can have, and genuine intellect, something I know GWB doesn't have.

I don't agree with his politics, but I don't doubt his commitment to the job. Whether he turns the position into an effort to reward political backers remains to be seen. If he does, we'll be watching and reporting. If he doesn't, well then I imagine we'll be praising him for it. Either way, I really am glad Kentucky doesn't have too many prime terror targets.

Protector of the homeland indeed.

Cronyism Watch

Senate Leader David Williams' wife has tired of the lobbying gig since she found out she had to comply with ethics requirements, so now she wants to be a judge. Hmmmm, a lawyer that knew the law required her to register as a lobbyist, but flaunted it anyway wants to be a judge. Maybe her roll model is the guy that says the Geneva Convention is "quaint" and that torture at Abu Ghraib is justified (but presumably, and hopefully, reciprocal treatment to our soldiers would not be). Does the Kentucky Bar Association look into these kinds of things?

Conveniently the retiring judge did so two days after the deadline to allow his replacement to be chosen by voters. So now Fletcher gets to appoint the replacement.

Protector of the will of the people indeed.

If Anyone Calls Geoff Davis...

as I suggested below, maybe you could ask him too, if Tom DeLay helped him answer the AARP's pre-election survey. After all, he's already admitted he cheated off of someone on that test.

Commitment to education indeed.

DeLay's K Street Project

A good primer on DeLay's "K Street Project" is found here and it's a must read for the coming semester. It forms the basis for a lot of the current Republican methodology, and explains the nasty tone set by the majority in DC. Unfortunately, the effect is that there's a spill over into local politics, and we have seen that - most recently with the election of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and the Republican controlled Kentucky Senate.

David Williams doesn't have a K Street Project, and I'm not even sure there's a "K Street" in Kentucky. Nor does he have the infrastructure in place to command legions of lobbyists loyal to the Republican cause (I'm not counting his wife, who is so holy she's above the ethics guidelines set forth in Kentucky law). Quite frankly, I think David Williams takes a vitriolic tone because he sees the big boys in DC doing it. Now that he's Senate Majority Leader in the "minor leagues" I guess he just thinks that's how things are done.

Typical behavior for a guy accused of accepting sex as payment for legal services. The charges were referred to the Kentucky Bar Association because it allegedly happened while Wiliams was a private citizen, but I don't believe they will release their files on it. His exculpatory evidence? A surreptitious tape he made of her confessing nothing happened. If the tape was made before the allegations were, what provocation would Williams have had for obtaining a tape? Just to prove nothing happened, just in case she may claim otherwise?

This over cautiousness would indicate he should have a closet full of such tapes....just in case.

Defender of moral values indeed.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

DeLay's Dirty Money in Kentucky

Open Secrets lists the following Kentucky Representatives that have received dirty DeLay money in the recent reporting cycle:

Anne Northup (KY-3) - $10,000 ((502) 582-5129 )
Geoff Davis (KY-4, Representative elect in an open seat) - $10,000 (no contact info)

Also, Alice Forgy Kerry, representative wannabe, got $10,000.00 which she wasted against Ben Chandler.

Another site has this list of Kentucky Representatives that took money from Tom DeLay's PAC:
Rep. Anne M. Northup (KY-3) - $32,000
Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-1) - $13,014 ((800) 328-5629)
Rep. Ron Lewis (KY-2) - $2,144 (1-800-367-6676)
Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-5) - $6 (So the $160,000 Rogers raised for DeLay was a good return on DeLay's investment). ((800) 632-8588)

I'm assuming the second list covers a different time period, and don't vouch for the accuracy of the second list. Perhaps the Reps could answer whether they received the money and whether it was returned after DeLay received three ethics rebukes just before the election.

Both sites have Senator Jim Bunning receiving $10,000, but I doubt he recalls it. So it won't do much good to ask him to give it back.

Phone numbers are there for a reason. Feel free to call your Representative and ask them the following: Did you receive the money? Were you aware Mr. DeLay's associates were under investigation for possible campaign finance violations? If so, did you verify the money received was not tainted by the charges? If you did not verify this fact will you return the money which cannot be determined to have been raised legally? If you won't, why not? Would you keep money given to you that someone obtained by selling drugs? If you wouldn't keep that money but you will keep DeLay's money, what's the difference?

Kentucky voted for a marriage amendment so obviously "morals" and "values" are important to Kentuckians. As such it should be important to our Representatives, too.

Better Ways to Spend $160,000

In follow up to my Hal Rogers comments, I noticed this little snippet from his official website and bio:

Rogers' congressional district consists of 28 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky. It is one of the poorest in the country, and Rogers works tirelessly to bring jobs, better education and greater opportunities to the families who live in his district.

I really hope that none of the $160,000 raised by Rep. Rogers came from any residents in "one of the poorest [districts] in the country." And I hope, for the people of the 5th District of Kentucky, that Rep. Rogers spends more time actually bringing jobs and education to his constituents than raising money for the guy they call the "Bug Man."

Not to sound obsessed with DeLay or anything, but he is the guy that pushed the Judiciary Committee to expand the Clinton probe to campaign finance violations, and now three of his closest allies and several large corporate donors from Texas are facing indictment for illegal campaign finance violations. And God willing, the Bug Man may be on the block. Of course, it won't be the first time he should have been there. Other DeLay aides are being indicted at the request of the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs for bilking Indian clients out of millions of dollars, one of the beneficiaries being Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition.

Moral values indeed. As if Indians haven't given enough blood for the little space we so graciously gave them, now they're paying blood money. What does this have to do with Kentucky? Nothing until Rep. Rogers decided Tom DeLay was going to be his friend. People in the 5th District, take heed. This is the type of guy your Representative says "is being maligned as part of a political witch hunt."

Is breaking the law really a partisan issue? If anyone gets pulled over for speeding (which I am not advocating by the way), check the cop's political affiliation and make your defense all about it being a political witch hunt. Be sure to report back how well that worked out for you.

So much for the rule of law party.

All's Secure at Standiford Field

When John Ashcroft stepped down a couple days ago, he stated "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Funny thing is, I didn't hear anyone else claiming victory in the "war on terror." When the election was over I did notice the abrupt disappearance of those pesky terror warnings that kept getting issued everytime a bad pre-election poll came out against Bush, but I just figured their usefulness faded along with John Kerry.

So I will suppose that since we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan that the "war on terror" is ongoing.

Perhaps the most enlightening aspect of 9/11, was the dismal state of airport security. Israelis had perfected it long before 9/11 - of course, they've been dealing with hijackings long before bin Laden took hijackings to the next step which only Tom Clancy and Richard Clarke could have envisioned (contrary to Condi Rice's statement that no one could have imagined it). Despite opposition from key Republicans, the government took over airport security and "de-privatized" it. We know the current Republican leadership disdains all things government (except the raise they voted themselves last month....oh yeah, and the health insurance plan...and don't forget the "freedom" fries), but the common sense approach of setting uniform standards was a key victory for airport safety.

Americans suffered long lines sure, but we haven't suffered another terror attack in that manner, although Richard Reed came close. And certainly, much is left undone - for example the cargo holds of passenger jets are rarely screened for bombs, anthrax, locusts, or other such problematic substances. Well, no more long lines...that was so September 12, 2001. It's time to party like it's September 10, 2001. The push is on to "re-privatize" airport security. These are the same companies that stock Jimmy Buffet concerts and parking lots at football games with disinterested, untrained people - it's nothing more than putting a body in a position and hoping the presence of the fake plastic badge deters the terrorists.

And Kerry was accused of a September 10th mentality. There really seems to be no lengths some Congress members won't go to in order to reward financial supporters. Incidentally, I would applaud Hal Rogers' fiscal responsibility in his role as chair of the appropriations committee for airport transportation. He recognized the growing costs of added personnel and sought technological means of substituting for payroll. But if I praised him I'd then have to take it all back since he believes that Tom DeLay is the patron saint of morality (okay, he didn't actually say that, but come on - raising $160K from hard working Kentuckians for a guy that epitomizes dirty politics? Is that the cost of morality these days? And did the donors know what or who they were giving to? Granted, this was before the three ethics rebukes).

Astute readers of my blog will point out that the Israeli model is actually a privatized outfit of highly trained security personnel. And such an astute reader would be correct. However, they are highly trained security personnel, many ex-military, and are closely monitored by the government, in effect an extension of the government in terms of oversight. Their goal is security, not profits. Assuming for argument's sake that American companies can, or would, follow the Israeli model and put up a highly trained security force, how would they be paid? And what would be the limits on the compensation charged by the security company itself? Paid mercenaries in Iraq are making 3 to 4 times what a US soldier makes to drive a truck on the exact same route. That's all well and good until you recall that US tax dollars are paying for it.

So I ask, who pays the higher costs? You betchya, airlines, who then charge consumers. But the airlines are in need of constant bailouts! So maybe the government will pick up the tab, or a part of it. Consumers still pay, although the cost is spread to those that don't fly, which I might add would actually benefit me since I do fly several times a year. This presupposes of course that the "business model" of governance holds. You know, the model that says government has no place in telling businesses how much money they can or cannot make on the backs of taxpayers, and that over-charging tax payers is party of the "free market society."

Anne Northup Supports Indicted Politicians

On November 17 House Republicans in DC voted to change the Republican rule that said an indicted House Leader had to relinquish his or her post. The rule was enacted in 1994 by Republican caucus during the Gingrich era to showcase to the country that Republicans were the "party of values." It came after the Democratic leader was implicated in a check-kiting scheme.

Now that Tom DeLay is facing possible indictment for violating Texas campaign finance laws in the gerrymandering scheme, the Republicans change the rules. A handful of House Repubs balked and rejected the change, led by Chris Shays of Connecticut. So how did our fair Representative from the 2nd District come down on this? Anne Northup supports indicted politicians (no, DeLay has not been indicted, but if he were then Northup supports him, per my conversation with her office this morning):

Me: "I'm a constituent of Anne Northup's, and was just curious as to whether she supported the DeLay rule change yesterday?"

Response: "I believe she is in support of Tom DeLay."

My follow up: "So the Congresswoman supported the rule change that would protect him if indicted?"

Response: "Yes"

Me: "Great, that's all I needed to know. Have a great day!"

Response: "Well thank you, you do the same."

Protector of moral values and the rule of law indeed.

Call To Arms

As promised, this post will discuss the direction of the site. With Blogger and the "blogspot" we can set up multiple users (a/k/a "contributors") to this website. Not to be theocratic, but the site is intended to be constructive rather than merely vitriolic diatribes against local Republicans. Therefore, I will always be monitoring the posts and will reserve the right to cut off someone that isn't contributing to the message.

Contributors must be people with genuine insights into the Kentucky democratic process - journalists, lobbyists, future, former or present politicians, professors, or the like. For the record, I'm none of the above. However, as my wife says, I have an unhealthy obsession with everything politics, and read incessantly. I'm not an expert but I play one on the web. My posts are not intended to be authoritative, and will mostly represent opinion, or otherwise point out noteworthy news regarding our Kentucky politicians (there's one coming after this so you'll get the point).

Also, it would be advantageous and informative to have contributors from throughout the state. I'm in urban Louisville, grew up in rural Hardin County, and have a rough concept of issues facing both segments of Kentuckians. Unfortunately I have found it next to impossible to keep up with the goings on in many rural areas. Thus participation from all portions of Kentucky is essential to making this work.

The goal is to make Kentucky a better place for its citizens, but not by destroying those we disagree with. That is a popular strategy within the Karl Rove run Republican party, and was a favorite tactic of the 70's Democrats. We, whether right, left, or middle, should strive to fulfill our country's true democratic calling by making our politicians work for us by making our voices heard. Contrary to modern political dogma, that is best accomplished when the citizens unite around common themes that we support or from which we derive benefit. The bottom line is that Kentuckians do not need representation in DC that votes the party line - what's good for Republicans in the Dakotas is not necessarily good for Republicans in Kentucky. And the politics in DC don't belong in Frankfort (David Williams' recent attempted emulation of Tom DeLay is case in point).

The "comments" section to this post is a great place to indicate your interest in contributing to the site.

How We Will Affect/Effect Change

The purpose of this blog is to bring together voices from throughout the state of Kentucky to present views on politics, preferably local/state, and find commonality - a basis for working together to improve the tone of politics in Kentucky, and hopefully influence the electorate. To be honest, this will be a somewhat progressive site - I am a firm believer that Kentucky, and by extension the United States, cannot move forward while simultaneously moving backwards from the rest of the world.

To do so we run the risk of being left behind, and losing our relevance in the world. With the rising European alliance, America's superiority is becoming largely militaristic - meaning that without military might we would have nothing to offer in trade, but only offerings to be taken without trade. That is to say, China is the 21st century version (subscription only - free of charge though, and worth every penny) of the 20th century America. Europeans, and indeed the world, are embracing China's offerings, if not their politics. The truth is simply that China is changing public opinion by offering cheaper goods. A bit overly simplistic, but a basic premise nonetheless.

Republicans have run on platforms of isolationism - slurs against anything remotely "French", distaste for the United Nations' views on global interactions, and complete disdain for any country that doesn't whole heartedly support the war in Iraq. Of course, they immediately turn to France and Germany to aid Britain in talks with Iran to secure disarmament and discontinuing Iran's nuclear aspirations (a bit too late given that they may already have the bomb). The more disturbing aspect of the emergence of China as a global leader is that Asian countries have largely financed our debt over the past several years in the form of T-bills. The debt ceiliing was just raised, but what happens if Japan and China no longer purchase our debt?

Pat Buchanan, a man whom I will rarely agree with, puts forth the doomsday scenario, which if coming from a "liberal" would be labelled a "tin foil hat conspiracy," that essentially results in China cashing in their T-bills when the dollar hits an all time low. It's a run on American currency - currency that may exist in some metaphysical sense, but becomes valueless in the hands of consumers.

So what does all this have to do with Kentucky and this site's quest for change? Everything. Abortions and gay marriage, for all their glitzy appeal in catchy campaign slogans, don't really mean much on a global stage. For one, overturning Roe v. Wade sends the issue to the states to decide. Then the Christian right is fighting battles on 50 fronts instead of 1. And abortion happened to be legal in more states than not in 1973 when .Roe was decided. And come on, can't we give an exception for the life and health of the mother when we pass a partial birth abortion bill? That's all the courts want, and you will get your law. And besides, does the Bible really give us mortals the right to determine an unborn fetus' life is more important than that of its mother?

Anyway, gay marriage and abortion will rarely, if ever, affect the people's lives in Kentucky. Most have never seen a gay person unless they happen to catch Will & Grace. But every person in Kentucky needs health care, and everybody knows someone that has had to go without it. Now the Bush administration wants to scrap the tax deduction for small businesses providing health insurance. That will affect Kentuckians.

Thus this site is born. More on the format in a later post.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

How Did It Come to This?

Kentucky has voted for the Republican candidate five of the past seven presidential elections, with only the "morally bankrupt" Bill Clinton being the only Democrat worthy of Kentucky's electoral votes. As a general rule, in the past three decades Kentucky has trended red in federal elections and blue at the state level. However, that changed in 2003 when Ernie Fletcher was elected to take over for Paul Patton when Patton's final term expired.

By all accounts Fletcher ran a typical Washington D.C. Republican campaign - he ran against Patton even though the Democratic candidate was Ben Chandler, just as GW Bush ran against Clinton in 2000. The strategies were strikingly similar, and the public fell for it - after all, it was indeed time to clean up the mess in Frankfort (Washington) caused by Patton's (Clinton's) scurilous affairs, and to restore dignity and honor to the Governor's mansion (White House). Yes, that's right, Patton pulled a Clinton (albeit to a more "involved" degree than Clinton), carried on an affair, allegedly rewarded the trollop with political favors, and then purportedly pulled the rug out when the affair ended.

Anyway, Kentucky went red on the local level, took the state Senate, and left the Dems in control of the House (although with a dwindling margin). Just as at the federal level, under Republican rule the dialog has become rancorous and contentious, and "honor and dignity" have come to include calling political opponents "gay" and attempting to shut the Democrats out of every aspect of governance.

Kentucky is a diverse state with people from all economic sectors and practically every profession. Nationally, the reputation of a Kentuckian is that of a shoeless, toothless, tobacco spittin', tractor riding, inbred, redneck. In reality, Kentucky has produced some of the nation's great sports heroes, intellectual leaders, and even some entertainment types: Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, Louis D. Brandeis (US Supreme Court), Jefferson Davis (I'm not vouching for their political beliefs, but Davis was a historical leader, no matter what one may think of his politics), John Scopes (of Monkey Trial fame), John Harlan (US Supreme Court), Bob Edwards (NPR), Sue Grafton (author), Adlai Stevenson (VP under Cleveland), Ned Beatty, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Pee Wee Reese, Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, and the list goes on.

Kentuckians aren't dumb by design. So then why does a state that ranks 43rd in terms of college graduates, 33rd in terms of annual pay, 10th in mobile home ownership, and with a poverty rate of over 13%, elect a state government that cuts social programs for the poor like Legal Aid and Medicaid, and a President whose tax cuts have been shown by the US government to increase the gap between the rich and the poor? In fact, under George Bush, Kentucky's poverty has increased, more children are in poverty, unemployment has increased (in fact almost doubled), and average salaries have decreased.

Why does Kentucky vote against its interests? For all the Republican talk about government having no place in running the lives of its citizens, they have spent a lot of time outlawing gay marriage and trying to overrule Roe v. Wade, all the while gutting programs that would actually serve the people and lift them out of poverty. The sad fact is that with minimum wage stuck at the same rate it was 8 years ago, it is more beneficial to a single mother with no education to stay on welfare than go out an earn a wage. In fact, 59% of single mothers in Kentucky live in poverty - and by extension so do their children.

In the recent election, all the talk of "morals" and "values" had to do with gays. My morals tell me that children without healthcare or living in poverty, while the wealthiest Americans get tax breaks to buy more luxury goods, is wrong. My morals tell me that outlawing gay marriage while Kentucky ranks in the top fourth by rate of divorce is a bit hypocritical.

How do we change the thinking of Kentuckians, so that they demand and expect the government to work for them? Democrats don't have all the answers, but their answers aren't any worse than the Republicans, and sometimes they're a bit better. This site will try to answer those questions, and search for ways to move Kentucky forward.

Let the search begin....