Kentucky Blog

Because Kentucky Is Not Called the "REDgrass State"

Monday, June 27, 2005

Preparing For War

Rawstory is pushing revelations that the US and Britain stepped up bombings in Iraq prior to the outbreak of war, and asserts this was in effect an illegal war (thus a usurpation of Congress' war powers). For my part, I think Kevin Drum is exactly right - like Bush or not, Congress has not been too keen on handcuffing the President's commander-in-chief role over the past 40 years (despite the War Powers Act Drum talks about).

People ought to get their pretty little heads around the fact that the point is not that Bush/Blair were fighting an illegal war in the Fall of 2002; the point is that they were goading Hussein into provoking a war, a war they had already planned to enter into, all while telling the American and British people that diplomacy was their first goal.

It's about the lies that led us to war, and it's yet another piece in the overall puzzle - one which will hopefully lead us one day to the enlightenment of why we are really in Iraq.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jerry Lundergan, Boy Genius

I've never been the head of a major political party. And most likely I never will be. Guys named "Pete" rarely make a name for themselves in the world (with notable exceptions such as Pete Sampras, Pete Townsend, or Pete(r) Sellers). But if I were the head of a major political party, I would not say this in the midst of the other team's blossoming scandals:
"There is a bunch of inexperienced advisers to the governor who have decided to run the merit system their way, not the right way, not the legal way," Lundergan said. "They have taken the protection out of the system so badly that they can punish people based on who has the wrong bumper stickers."

You see that? Poor, poor Ernie. He just got screwed by a bunch of young idiots. Over here at Democrat HQ, we sure feel sorry for the guy. He needs to purge those young pups - take 'em back to the woodshed for gawd's sakes - and then all will be right. Giving big Ernie slack in the noose he's tied for himself seems to ignore the "Sadie" email account along with the "Saddie wants a 'hit list'" emails ("Sadie" being Fletcher's dog, and also being the name on an extra email account he set up). Of course, it does fit in with Lundergan's goal to "Republicanize" the Democratic party -and wants my money in the process.

The fact is that all signs point to the notion that Fletcher knew what was happening. And if he didn't then that makes him inept, incompetent, and aloof. The choices are either that Fletcher is an idiot or he's involved. (For my part, I think Fletcher is anything but an idiot.)

2006 is going to be another piss poor year for the Dems if they can't get some better message control.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Why Does Italy Hate America and Love Terrorists?

Uh oh.

In a blow to the Bush Administration policy of turning prisoners over to other countries for torture, 13 CIA agents are in a bit of trouble:

An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for allegedly helping deport an imam to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, an Italian official familiar with the investigation said Friday.

The agents are suspected in the seizure of an Egyptian-born imam identified as Abu Omar on the streets of Milan in February 2003, according to the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. ...

Prosecutors believe the agents seized Omar as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, according to reports Friday in newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno.


And another six are being investigated.

There appears to be a mass of evidence against Abu Omar to begin with, and the Judge that issued the arrest warrant for the CIA agents was giving Italian investigators what they wanted in terms of surveillance and search authority. This goes to show that the stupidity of torture isn't limited to the unfortunate collateral damage of torturing innocent people - it's also recognized as a violation of international law and national sovereignty of the countries from which suspects are kidnapped.

Not to mention it interfered with what could have been a successfully prosecuted case over two years ago.

Open Letter to Rep. Northup and Senators Bunning and McConnell

Dear Rep. Northup, Senator Bunning, and Senator McConnell:

According to an article in the New York Times ("Rove Criticizes Liberals on 9/11," June 23, 2005) presidential advisor Karl Rove stated, in Manhattan, that liberals in want our troops to die.

As a liberal and a Democrat, I find this deeply offensive. This sort of rhetoric is divisive and hateful, and our country does not need this during wartime, especially now that the honesty and integrity of the White House, President George W. Bush, and various Department of Defense officials is subject to honest question and debate with the revelation of the so-called "Downing Street Memos."

Having friends and family that have served this nation at times of war dating back to World War II, and in every conflict since, I resent the allegation that I want any of our troops to come to harm. In making such statements Mr. Rove is trampling the Constitutional protections of free speech and open debate in questioning the acts and motivations of our government - the core principles of our democracy that separate our system of government from fascism, communism, monarchy, and totalitarianism. We may have bona fide disagreements on politics and policy, but this debasement and degradation of my basic humanity for those political beliefs is atrocious and unbecoming of any public official, and especially one who speaks for the President of the United States - who is ostensibly the President for all Americans.

In a word it is un-American and constitutes a direct affront to the ideals and high aspirations espoused by our Founding Fathers. Rather, the President should vigorously pursue Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, and who remains at large nearly four years after the vicious attack his organization made on our soil. As Porter Goss has recently indicated he has a very good idea of bin Laden’s whereabouts, and given that President Bush has vowed to not distinguish between terrorists and the governments that harbor them, it would seem a more worthwhile to attack them than fellow Americans. However, because Scott McClellan has defended Mr. Rove’s remarks on behalf of the White House, and Ken Mehlman has supported the statements on behalf of the entire Republican National Committee, it appears that Karl Rove, the RNC, and President Bush are more interested in attacking and conquering Democrats and liberals than terrorists.

As a constituent of yours, I would like to know if you agree with Mr. Rove's statements, and if you, too, believe that as a liberal that I want any of our men or women in the armed services to come to harm. If you are dismissive of my inquiry given my political leanings, then perhaps you will answer the Families of September 11. Or the members of our military who are appalled by Mr. Rove's statements. Or the 49% of Americans that voted for a candidate other than George Bush in the 2004 election. Mr. Rove's comments are an insult to half our nation's population, and likely the same to the 57% of Americans that now oppose the war in Iraq.

Mr. Rove, the RNC, and President George Bush are now attacking Americans.

So I am asking: Does Karl Rove speak for you like he speaks for our President?

Sincerely yours,

Pete

PS. / Update: Kristen Breitweiser posits an interesting question, and also would like some answers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Saving the Bluegrass

One thing that has always bugged me about being a Kentuckian, is that everyone outside of Kentucky always asks me first:

Did I get my shoes at the state border while leaving the state?, and next:

Do I get free Kentucky Fried Chicken as a resident?; and finally:

Do people really get naked in the Derby Infield?

Few people have a genuine appreciation for the sheer natural beauty of our state, from the rolling pastures to densely wooded forests, Kentucky has one of the most gorgeous landscapes in our nation. Of course, the conditions that make Daniel Boone Forest so lush also lends itself to the potency of some of the strongest marijuana in the nation, too. But that's a different blog post altogether.

I understand people outside of Kentucky thinking first of Yellowstone or Glacier National Forest when they talk of "getting out" or "backpacking" - although it's no less frustrating. Having spent many a night in Daniel Boone and the rest of the Gorge area, as well as other parks in Virginia, New Hampshire, Tennessee, North Carolina, and elsewhere, I can honestly say Kentucky gives no ground to those folks (except we don't have a Dollywood, so I guess we're a little behind).

I do, however, take issue with people inside Kentucky not appreciating our landscape. That's why it is with great joy that I see that the Bluegrass has finally been recognized for its beauty, but saddened that it had to become one of only eight U.S. sites listed as an "endangered" site to get noticed. It's also disheartening that it took folks outside of Kentucky to point out to us that we are paving over our heritage.

Compliance

When fame and fortune beckon, 'tis best to heed its call.

In fact, total compliance is best.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Missing the Forest

It's really cute that Anne Northup is "bucking the party line" by supporting the reimportation of prescription drugs at reduced prices. It makes great theatre since her little amendment will get stripped out of the bill without ever seeing the light of day, as appears to be almost certainly the case.

While her cheap theatrics will undoubtedly appease some among the elderly, to most thinking Kentuckians (and Americans for that matter) reimportation really ignores the larger issue - why does America produce most of the newest medicinal innovations yet our citizens pay some of the highest prices in the world? Why is America the only government that doesn't use its collective bargaining power to help reduce drug prices in the first place?

There's a reason drugs are cheaper in Canada. It's called price controls. And obviously it works.

The Next Wedge

Gay bashing worked so well in 2004, that it seems it will continue in 2006 or 2008. Saturday I got word from political types that a ban on gay marriage will be on the ballot in Kentucky in '06 or '08. The only thing to be determined was in which year would it be the most beneficial to turn out the chicken littles that are so narrow minded that they honestly believe gays represent the greatest threat to Kentucky, America, "traditional" marriage, The Left Behind series, American Idol, Toby Keith, and the second coming of Jesus.

It's not a guarantee (I didn't get it direct from Mitch McConnell or Anne Northup), but the thinking is that this will be the next wedge issue in the state. Since our education system is top notch I really can't think of anything better to discuss during an election cycle.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Long Live The Last Sane Ralph Long

Ralph Long makes an important point in this post:

In spite of the Larry Forgy lawsuit, and other attempted diversions, making a recommendation for a state job is not the issue. Larry Forgy can recommend anyone he wants, Greg Stumbo can do the same, and even Ralph Long can make a recommendation.

The issue is what happens after, what does the person making the hiring decision do with the recommendation.


So often lately this investigation has been improperly castigated as "partisan" or the like. That's a convenient smokescreen from Fletcher and Co., but it's troubling to see that same charge raised in comments over at Bluegrass Roots (not by the editors, but commenters) or in the Op/Ed letters to the editor of any given newspaper. Official misconduct is not a partisan issue. It's one thing to defend the administration for misguided policy decisions, but it seems clear that this is an instance where smoke equals fire.

I'm not presuming that because I'm a lefty. I'm presuming that because it seems true. And partly it seems true because of the administration's response to the whole thing - Fletcher played it just right in the beginning by admitting that some corners may have been cut, or that hiring parties may not have been properly trained. It was simply idiotic to change the tune and circle wagons, putting up obstacles at every turn.

The whole argument that "this is how it's always been" or "Democrats did it too" is just nonsense. Sure, it's always been this way. And yes, Democrats did it too. But it doesn't make it right now, nor was it right then. I didn't blog during Patton's years, but if I had you would have heard more vitriol than you hear now. [As an aside, the pain that Republicans felt during Patton's years (pre-Senate majority), and the inability to investigate infractions is much how Democrats in D.C. feel now with the discovery of the Downing Street Memos.]

I'm a Democrat, but that doesn't mean I will swallow corruption and incompetence just to toe the party line. Because above all I'm a tax paying Kentuckian, and every time this crap happens it wastes my money. And it's just sad to see Republicans (the champions of small government) actually defending this crap. Oh, they don't defend it by saying "what, is that wrong?" No, they defend it by saying "I expect indictments and hope the offending parties go to jail, but let's face it - Democrats always did it, and now they want to act like saints, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Besides being an indirect defense, it just makes the speaker sound insincere and a bit ethically and morally, if not intellectually, flexible - and not in a good way.

And let's be very clear. As Ralph stated, the investigation is not about recommendations. People need to quit saying that because it just makes them sound stupid. Recommendations are part of the territory, and it's part of being in control of administrative agencies. In other words it's somewhat of a perk. Whether it's right or wrong that a Fletcher recommendation should carry more weight than a Ralph Long recommendation, is not really debatable - the standard is whether it breaks the law. A "recommendation" without an administrative nudge is just a recommendation. A "recommendation" with the Fletcher "wink, wink, nod, nod" is not just a recommendation, and becomes somewhat on par with that old relationship known as "friends with benefits." It's really not complicated to distinguish being "friends" and being "friends with benefits." And it's really not hard to distinguish between "recommendation" and "recommendation with consequences."

Given that framework, giving letters of recommendation to fill open posts which are open through naturally occurring attrition are one thing.

It's quite another to create an open post through overtly partisan adverse employee action. It doesn't much matter if the guy on the road crew is a Democrat or Republican. But when you fire a Democrat on the road crew on trumped up employment infractions, as happened to Brian Roy in the parks department, to create space for a Republican donor or activist, then "recommendation" has crossed the line to something the AG's office ought to investigate

And like Ralph says, that's what this is all about.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Random Thoughts on Privatizating Social Security

The thing that the Ohio investment scandals involving bad investments of a couple hundred million dollars in tax payer funds (or rather the loss of a couple hundred million) ought to tell us is this: privatizing social security is a dangerous move, but not just for the reasons most often stated. So far, Ohio Republicans have lost millions on a taxpayer investment into "rare coins" (managed by a big time Republican donor with ties to all top Ohio GOP and Bush/Rove); a couple hundred million with an investment firm with Republican ties (those ties are described here); and now a couple more million with a Maryland investment firm even after its owner was accused of fraud (in the loss of $40 million) and who is now convicted of various crimes related to it.

Sure, the stock market has the potential for higher rates of return over time, and for purposes of this simplistic post I'll ignore the inherent problems with the current plans being floated (start here and take the red pill, or see this post where I actually support reform with system wide investments, a position I'm now reconsidering). The problem isn't really with the stock market though, or the bona fide risks that an investor faces when placing their money with an honest, straight laced investment broker.

The problem is that the government (read: whoever the current party in power is at the time with the ability to do so) tends to reward its supporters, whether deserving or not (see Fletcher's current JOBTROT woes as an example). This includes unscrupulous investment brokers akin to what we're seeing in Ohio. Like the Republicans are fond of saying - you can't trust the government. And while they mean you can't trust them not to spend the social security surplus, it also means you can't trust them to give your social security to honest people. Maybe one day we'll be blessed with public officials that have an honest to goodness belief they work for us. I'm not counting on it, largely because we've grown accustomed to it and simply accept their shenanigans as "politics as usual." Reading any blog comments or message boards proves this.

My point is that when the government issues those "worthless IOU's" Bush is talking about in exchange for a loan from the surplus, those IOUs (a/k/a treasury bonds) happen to be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. "Full faith & credit" is found in a little place I like to call the US Constitution, which is a little thing I like to call the intellectual and aspirational foundation of our country. Just as I don't care for Bush pissing on my country's full faith and credit, I don't care for the thought that my tax dollars would be placed with someone for investment who will piss on my investment.

No, I don't suggest all investments be in t-bills, that's just stupid. But Social Security isn't an investment. It's insurance. I think it's great if you don't need Social Security and have money to invest in rare coins or with a broker that boasts a negative $40 million dollar profit (i.e. a loss). But the funny thing about a $215 million loss by the state of Ohio with MDL Investments is that once the money's gone it's gone. It's now somebody else's money. Or no one's money. But it surely ain't the taxpayers' money.

Extrapolate that. The current SS surplus is $1.4 trillion (ignoring the annual $160 billion addition to the surplus) and let's say it's squandered on a beautiful collection of faux art (Rembrandt-esque, if you will). And let's say it loses 71.5% of its value (just like MDL did to Ohio's investments). That leaves $399 billion.

Another way to look at $399 billion? It's less than the defense budget for the United States.

It also looks like this: $399,000,000,000.

And the loss looks like this: $1,001,000,000,000.

Might I suggest an alternative investment be a game of chance? I play a mean hand of blackjack, and can anyone besides me imagine the comps you'd get in Vegas if you were tossing that kind of cabbage around? Oh yeah, we could shore up Social Security too (almost forgot that part).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

All God's Children Got the Blues

Yes, I'm a blues fan (as noted earlier, I drove a total of 11 hours round trip to see a grand total of 16 hours worth of blues music in Chicago). And yes, I abhor the heat and humidity of a Kentucky summer. Unfortunately, blues is a summertime sport - it's best enjoyed in the heat of the day, while drenched in sweat and bourbon, with your head bobbing side to side with the beat.

It doesn't get much better than Chicago or Memphis for the blues (unless you're more of a Louisiana/Zydeco blues fan, in which case New Orleans and the Bayou are your raison d' etre), but it is possible to catch great blues local. And it doesn't get much more local than Henderson, Kentucky for the WC Handy Blues Festival this week (click the "about" button on their website to read about who WC was - what they don't mention is that the annual "WC Handy Awards" are among the most coveted for blues performers, and are the blues equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize).

The performers this year are top notch - and one of my favorites, Larry McCray, can pick the strings of a guitar like Republican fundraisers pick dollars from donors' pockets - the shit is smooth. While in Chicago I caught him two nights at the Kingston Mines (watch out for drunk college guys that think blues music gives them special powers of dance), and the blues is the funk.

Point is, if you're in the area check it out. It's free. And believe it or not, Republicans like the blues too. One good reason for us all to just get along.

Update: Didn't want to short change the other performers by just pointing out McCray, so I'll note that Billy Branch and Little Milton are both top notch blues artists, too. And in reviewing the schedule they've actually broken the festival down by style...in other words one night's Zydeco style, another nights jam style (think later Bo Diddley type), and so on.

Spinning the Indictment Wheel

Three officials are indicted (as of today, there may be more to come) in JOBTROT, and among the three is one Dan Druen. Besides being a young pup, Druen is one of the three "youngsters" that Republican donors have been looking to protect through a donations to a legal defense fund (all "non-political" donations of course, lest they run afoul of the gift restrictions - Ralph Long takes us to school and shows us why this is a load of crap).

As Ryan Alessi at the Lexington Herald points out, there's a couple others that need protecting, and as I pointed out the donors better get to them before the AG's office does (in the form of plea deals, etc.). Based on Druen's indictment one has to infer that he's not made a deal with Stumbo or the rest of the AG's office (if he did make a deal that included an indictment he needs to find new legal counsel).

That leaves two more possibilities in the "low lying fruit" category - Vince and Corey Meadows. Both seem to be in a position to burn top level officials, but press reports put Meadows at the top of the list. My money stays on Meadows to cut a deal and do the right thing. None of the players are worth putting one's integrity or future on the line.

And the mystery around Keith Hall's abrupt resignation from Homeland Security takes a new twist, as he appears before the grand jury for less than five minutes - mostly likely pleading the Fifth Amendment. Keith's a "true believer" (i.e., one who, no matter what evidence faced with, will never accept, much less acknowledge, that his "team" may not have been playing on the up and up - in other words he simply sees himself governed by a different set of rules...and ends justifying the means sort of existence if you will), so no one ought to look for him to Henry Hill his way out of anything. Seeing as how he was in charge of board and commission appointments he may want to take off the blinders.

And a mystery commenter has more on the voluntariness of Mr. Hall's resignation (related to this post from yesterday)...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bye Bye Keith, We Hardly Knew Ya

Keith Hall resigns the Homeland Security post to pursue other endeavors.

No indication he was involved in any of the JOBTROT stuff, but I note with interest the difference between the Lexington Herald's coverage of this and that of the Courier Journal. Ryan Alessi's article in the Herald contains this little nugget:
When initially contacted by a reporter yesterday about Hall's departure, Carla Blanton, the governor's communications director, said, "It was a decision that the lieutenant governor made."

And you guessed it, the print edition (and internet edition for that matter) of the CJ's article does not. Perhaps not intentional, in fact most likely not. Most likely it's just lack of journalistic inquiry - or the CJ's political correspondents don't have the juice to get a return call from Fletcher spokespeople. Either way, Ryan Alessi and the Herald have been all over this thing like stink on...well you know.

So to save the Republicans the trouble, I'll ask "why does Ryan Alessi and the Herald hate Kentucky, America, our military, Fox News, Tim Russert, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan (and all actors that have portrayed him in movies about his life), Anne Coulter, and [insert your own name here]"?

Eating the Young

Apropos to my post about Corey Meadows, it appears the race is on between the AG's office and Kentucky Republican Party to determine where the loyalties of the low lying fruit in the AG's investigation will fall.

The AG is ostensibly seeking their disloyalty with offers of immunity and the Republican Party is buying it with high priced lawyers and a bottomless well of defense funds. I'm not actually surprised that one or more haven't been cut loose yet to take the fall - the Republican M.O. is to circle wagons until it blows over or is forgotten by the American public. Because as the Bible states, the Republicans can do no wrong.

So who gets "the deal" from the AG? Who has the info damning to Fletcher? Will that party deal? Or will their loyalty - and thus their morality - be up for sale?

My money's still on Meadows. And I'm betting his ethics are a little stronger than those of the rest of the parties involved.

Chicago

As an aside, I highly recommend a weekend in Chicago. Accommodations are pricey, that's why I say "weekend" instead of "week," but the city is rivaled only by New York City in this area of the country in terms of potential activities to satisfy all tastes.

I was there for the annual Blues Festival that ran from Thursday to Sunday (headlined on Saturday by Chicago legend Buddy Guy) and hit a couple blues clubs - my recommendations are Blue Chicago (either of the two locations on Clark St. - one admission covers both clubs), Kingston Mines (a more collegiate crowd, thus a bit more rowdy - but the bouncers are Michael Clarke Duncan sized, so will protect you from spastic, non-coordinated drunk college boys), and of course Buddy Guy's Legends.

If you're not into blues (in which case you must be tone deaf), check out the museums (including the awesomely grotesque Body Worlds exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry) or the sports.

Most importantly, get out of your environment and live in someone else's for a while. It would do all Americans good to live the lives of other folks, whether it be city folk in the country (and I don't mean Simple Life style) or vice versa. Our politicians are pitting us against each other based on blue state/red state, Democrat and Republican. In fact, we're not all that different and it's encumbent on us each to find ways of remembering that.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Judicial Nominations

Fletcher is set to appoint a justice to the Kentucky Supreme Court, and among the three candidates are his general counsel John Roach (also named in JOBTROT) and Roger Crittenden, the judge that's hearing the JOBTROT litigation in Frankfort.

The appointment is laregly a token since Kentucky elects their Supreme Court Justices to serve certain districts - a truly screwed up way of electing justices since their rulings affect all Kentuckians. Anyway, the successful appointee is subject to replacement at some later date by general election.

I would think outside the box and nominate Court of Appeals Judge William McAnulty or Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sara W. Combs. Having been married to Bert Combs may hurt Judge Comb's chances - Republicans don't forget those sorts of things.

Keeping Bad Company

Corey Meadows is a name no one would have ever heard of prior to JOBTROT. He's a young lawyer, having just graduated from U of L's law school in 2002. He spent some time with the Jefferson County Public Defenders office, and by all accounts is a likeable, honest individual that practiced within the confines of the law and worked hard for his indigent clients.

Now he's embroiled in Fletcher's JOBTROT mess. Meadows was put in charge of LINK, Fletcher's "outreach office" which was apparently nothing more than a clearing house for political hirees. Meadows also drafted what may be one of the most damning emails if Fletcher is implicated:

"Have we found out anything about the jobs Brock requested......Madisonville/Owensboro.......Frankfort/Georgetown.......Richmond/Berea? EF is being updated tomorrow. Please advise," said a Sept. 19, 2004, e-mail from LINK's then-deputy director Cory Meadows to the former Transportation Cabinet deputy secretary Dick Murgatroyd.

I don't know Meadows well, but sources indicate he was a small time guy who got dazzled by the bright lights and big city when he was hired by Fletcher to work at the LINK office. I'm no fan of the Nuremburg defense, but word is that Meadows followed orders and is caught up in something he had no idea may have been wrong.

The first thing they teach you in law school is that ignorance is never a defense, and that's true. What's also true is that Meadows, by the accounts related to me, has no special ties or loyalty to the Fletcher Crew. That coupled with youthful indiscretions (hell, it worked for the president's pre-age 40 coke habit), should position him to plea bargain - assuming he cares about the whole misdemeanor conviction, loss of law license, jail time thing.

Meadows is the lowest level guy (in terms of connections) yet to be named, and his lack of any fundraising or familial ties are also his biggest liability. Is there any doubt that Meadows' rope will be the first one cut? And it may have already happened, and no one caught it:
Fletcher said he did not know what role Meadows had played in merit hiring.

Much different than the staunch defense of Murgatroyd within the same article, no?
"It really saddens me to see that -- the focus on Dick Murgatroyd," Fletcher
said. "Dick doesn't have a dishonest or illegal bone in his body."

Meadows was an idiot, for sure, but it should be more criminal if the AG's investigation nets only a young, ambitious, albeit foolish, lawyer who left a poverty wage job with aspirations to "move up."

Again, I don't know Meadows. But he's the tip of the iceberg, and there's little question that given half a chance his elders will hang him out to dry. But then again, he got moved out to the Transporation Cabinet from the LINK office, so maybe they are going to take care of him....

The most prevalent rumor is that Meadows was merely the gatekeeper - in other words, his name went on emails but the messages therein came from higher up. I for one find it hard to believe that a young Meadows would be given that kind of authority, especially given how tightly controlled the Fletcher machine has tried to be.

Who will get to Meadows first?

When All Else Fails, Change the Rules

Astonishing.

With the Kentucky legislature out of session and unable to change the rules to bail out Fletcher, Murgatroyd, et al (and unlikely to be successful unless they burn down the House anyway), the Republicans are trying to change the rules the old fashion way...by going to court:

Republican Larry Forgy, a Lexington attorney who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1995, is asking the federal court to block Attorney General Greg Stumbo’s investigation of hiring practices in Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration. Forgy, saying he was acting independently, filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court, challenging the constitutionality of the state merit-system law that says no state job action for classified service positions can be based on politics.

The law violates his rights to freedom of speech and due process of law, said Forgy, who wrote a letter of recommendation for a job action to former deputy Transportation Secretary Dick Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd now is Fletcher’s deputy chief of staff.


"Acting independently" is code word for "plausible deniability" and only a braindead half wit would believe it. Besides being entirely meritless - nothing in the plain meaning of the merit system laws prohibits a letter of recommendation - the clear purpose of this lawsuit is to further delay the investigation and getting past the statute of limitations (piggy backing on the Fletcher administration's prior efforts). Since Forgy is a lawyer, perhaps someone at the Kentucky Bar Association will remind him and his attorneys about Rule 11 which states in relevant part:
The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certification by him that he has read the pleading, motion or other paper; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. [emphasis added]

While the court enforces Rule 11, the KBA enforces violations of the ethics code, such as this little beauty:
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
...
(b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;....

So here's the deal: Forgy is still a heavy hitter in the Republican party (despite his loser status in prior races), no one can dispute that. How deep, I don't know, but a couple of well placed sources could reveal it to someone like Al Cross. If Forgy was using political connections to get someone a job, and told that "someone" he could do so given those political connections, then he's per se violated two of the three violations mentioned above (the first being "improper influence" the second being criminal under the merit system).

I'm not on the AG's payroll, although could stand to get a pay increase if they want to buy me, but I'd be asking the individual named in Forgy's letter exactly what Forgy promised and how he promised to deliver it. Which brings us back to Rule 11. Forgy's lawsuit seems to be a preemptive strike against a potential criminal conviction, or at the very least unethical influence peddling.

If he's using it to influence improperly other litigation, Forgy may need to brush up on his used car salesmanship techniques.

Just a thought.

Out of the Witness Protection Program

In a stunning revelation not witnessed since Henry Hill broke his witness protection program induced silence, The Last Sane Man has revealed his secret identity. I'm trusting he will continue to use his super powers for good despite the revelation. This is not a trend - my name is Pete and I'm sticking with that for the time being.

Anyway, Ralph f/k/a The Last Sane Man directs us to an article in the Courier-Journal where it appears that Dick Murgatroyd has hired Jack Smith to represent him in JOBTROT. As I've said, Smith is a hell of a lawyer, although he's generally been on the Democrats' side (no doubt because they generally held power these past 30 years, and thus were in the position to abuse it or be accused thereof). The downside of course is that hiring someone of Smith's caliber is abit akin to hiring the late, great Johnnie Cochran - it pretty much solidifies the notion of guilt, rightly or wrongly.

Facing criminal penalties truly makes strange political bedfellows.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Can We End Our Fascination With McConnell?

The Iraq Debacle May death totals skyrocketed, and military insiders paint a dire picture of the Iraq Blunder, all while the military's capacity to wage war is waning and recruiting woes are becoming incapacitating.

But Mitch McConnell still looks through his rose colored glasses:
Sen. Mitch McConnell returned from his third trip to Iraq believing "all the
trends are in the right direction," as the country works to create a permanent
government.

At what point - how many American GI deaths or maimings, how many Iraqi civilian deaths, how much stolen money, how many newly created terrorists, how many more lost military recruits - can we, as a country, and without regard to party affiliation, have a serious discussion about that the hell we are doing in Iraq, and how the hell we're going to get our men and women out? The line that "well, we're there so we have to do this, or do that" is just bullshit, and it's a copout whether it comes from George Bush or Howard Dean. Our soldiers are dying every day and our "leaders" don't have a fucking clue what they're doing. Since both sides voted for this damn war, both sides owe our soldiers the duty to figure it out.

Bush and company have decimated our military. As Americans it is our duty to question our leaders, not to undermine our war efforts but to protect the men and women who are fighting in a foreign land in a war that no one planned for. Our men and women are dying, and Iraqis are dying - how much more patriotic can you get then by standing up and demanding some fucking answers?

It's now clear that Bush lied us into war with the revelation of the Downing Street Memo. He simply should have no credibility, and as such the voice of the people - being the majority of Americans that no longer think this war is worth fighting - should be heard and answered.

Our sons and daughters are dying, and those that would use deceit for their ideological ends, and then with the help of those that follow these pied pipers mindlessly would quash the voice of dissent, the voice of the majority that would question our leaders and make them accountable to us - the people - have the blood of our heroes on their hands.

Niceties are at an end. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, and conservative pundits and bloggers like Anne Coulter, Bob Novak, Powerline, Andrew Sullivan - you sent our soldiers to war on lies and many have died. You sent them without the proper armor and many have died. You sent them in insufficient numbers, despite all advice to the contrary, and many of them have died. There is simply no distinction left between those that planted the IEDs or fired the weapons that have killed and maimed our soldiers and the callous fools that send the soldiers there in the first place.

You are nothing different than the murderous thugs you purport to fight. The blood of our fallen soldiers is on your hands. And you owe us some answers. You owe it to the families of the dead. You owe it to soldiers still living today that may not be so lucky tomorrow.

Stacking the Deck, Part 2

Somehow I missed this when putting up my earlier post:
The man Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed yesterday to the state Ethics Commission is identified in a state worker's complaint as the governor's office contact in Laurel County for hiring civil service employees.

That same commission is in the midst of investigating the complaint, which alleges the Fletcher administration hired transportation workers on the basis of politics and not merit, a violation of state law.

If voters don't punish this conduct at the polls, then all is truly lost.

Is Tom Handy unethical? The facts don't seem to indicate that. Is Tom Handy capable of impartiality? Perhaps. If Tom Handy and the Personnel Board absolve Fletcher and his posse will it be an untainted absolution? No. Beyond partisanship, Kentuckians have a right to believe our government is transparent and that our public servants are working with integrity. When questions are raised about that integrity it does absolutely nothing to vindicate the alleged wrongdoers if the process creates more appearances of impropriety.

Fletcher just keeps screwing himself with these partisan plays, and screwing us in the process by giving us more and more reasons to doubt the validity of our government's dealings. This is pathetic behavior for any public official - but is perfectly understandable when one finally comes to the realization that current Republican agenda consists of nothing more than creating accountability requirements for all of us vis-a-vis the government all the while alleviating their accountability to us.

In a word: corrupt.

Jefferson County's Loss

Former Jefferson Count A District Commissioner Russ Maple (pre-city/county merger) died from injuries in a car collision last night. I happened through the scene (or rather around it, due to police/ambulance activity) an hour or so after it occurred but didn't realize the severity of it. Anyway, Russ was a good commissioner, and was well like across party lines in the county (I've always felt local politics is a foolish place to parade national party loyalty).

He didn't hold any current office but was still active in the community. His presence will be missed, and his wife remains in critical condition - please keep her in your thoughts, and if you're the praying type then perhaps keep her there too.

If You Can't Beat the Dealer, Stack the Deck

This is just priceless:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher yesterday named one of his major campaign fund-raisers to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, giving himself a majority on a board investigating allegations of Republican political influence in his administration's merit-system hiring....

Handy hosted a Sept. 13, 2003, event that raised $116,000 for Fletcher's gubernatorial campaign, according to campaign-finance reports. He gave $1,000 of his own money. In 1995, Handy was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, under gubernatorial nominee Larry Forgy. Forgy is one of the Republican political leaders whose recommendations for state job candidates are at the center of investigations by the ethics board, Attorney General Greg Stumbo and the state Personnel Board....

A page straight out of the old Republican play book. I've yet to see any sputtering from right wing hacks that justify this crap. It's one thing to support your man, but like an old law professor used to say "you cannot changes the facts" (but then he went on to explain that 1 + 1 really equalled zero, but that's another story). Face it, your poster boy is getting bogged down in his administration's own ineptitude. Perhaps it's cause no one in the Republican party knew what being in the governor's mansion was like, but it's looking more and more like the door was opened for a mad grasp for full power and it was simply too much temptation for these people to pass up.

Either way you slice it the political strategery is downright pathetic.