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A long time coming
Mark Foley: SICK SICK SICK!!!
Looks Like Lamont Levels Lieberman?
Oil Prices in the tank
Clinton Reams Rummy
A long time...
Chandler/Abramson in '07?
A new poll
Just about everybody who's anybody in Kentucky politics goes to the the legendary Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County. The picnic is a fund raiser for St. Jerome's Perish Catholic. With 19,000 pounds of BBQ, it should be a fine event. Check out the AP story by Joe Biesk Fancy Farm
Personnel investigation may take center stage at Fancy Farm
FRANKFORT, Ky. - There aren't any scheduled statewide elections this year, but the 125th Fancy Farm picnic Saturday is still likely to draw a large political crowd.
And the attorney general's investigation into the hiring practices of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration is likely to be the buzz.
"We expect that to be a hot and spicy issue at the barbecue," said Mark Wilson, one of the event's organizers.
The annual picnic in Graves County is a fund-raiser for St. Jerome's Parish, a Catholic church settled in the far western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm. Aside from politics, the picnic is also known for its bingo and barbecue.
Over the years, the annual event has evolved into perhaps Kentucky's premier grass-roots political event, providing politicians with a captive audience. Most candidates seeking a statewide office stop by for a shot to woo the crowd.
"It's steeped in a whole lot of tradition," Wilson said in a telephone interview. "This is kind of a must-do."
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Attorney General Greg Stumbo are both expected to attend, Wilson said. Fletcher's office did not confirm his attendance, and the governor was noncommittal when asked last week.
Other elected officials expected to attend include: Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Auditor Crit Luallen, Treasurer Jonathan Miller, House Speaker Jody Richards and U.S. Rep Ed Whitfield, Wilson said. Some local politicians, state judicial candidates and others are also planning to show, he said.
This year's picnic should draw at least 10,000 people, said state Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray, this year's master of ceremonies.
If past years are an indication, the political speeches could get fiery. And, Stumbo's investigation could stoke the flames.
The probe centers on whether the administration based Merit System personnel decisions on politics, rather than qualifications. The system, which has been in place since 1960, was designed to protect rank-and-file state employees from political influence.
A special grand jury in Franklin County has indicted eight current or former members of Fletcher's administration with misdemeanors stemming from the investigation. One of the eight has also been indicted on a felony count of alleged witness tampering.
Fletcher has called the investigation politically motivated and said he thought it marked the start of the 2007 governor's race. Stumbo has denied the claims, and maintained he's just doing his job.
"There's quite a bit of talk about it from the folks down here," Wilson said. "I expect it will be a pretty hot issue."
Steven Elder, 25, who owns and operates a Web site, http://www.fancyfarm.net, said he's probably attended more than 20 Fancy Farm picnics. Elder agreed the personnel investigation would likely take center stage on Saturday.
"I think that will be a hot topic," Elder said.
In previous years, heckling from the crowd has gotten, well, more than spirited. But organizers have asked Democrat and Republican party officials to keep the banter civil, Wilson said.
If not, there's always the local sheriff and his deputies to keep things in order, he said.
"We all want to have fun and be entertaining, but we're monitoring that very closely," Wilson said. "We would ask both parties to try to control that internally. If not we will control it."
Then again, for those not interested in heckling politicians, there's always the bingo, and 19,000 pounds of barbecued meat to think about. That's 9,500 pounds of barbecued mutton and 9,500 pounds of barbecued pork.
It's a big event, folks into the politics should check it out.
posted by Stithmeister @ 3:41 PM
It looks like the merit system investigation continues to get much worse as the grand jury moves on to other cabinets besides the transportation cabinet. Tom Loftus and Mark Pitsch put together a good article in the Courier Journal. Take a look!
Grand jury subpoenas 7 in various cabinets
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The special grand jury investigating hiring in the Transportation Cabinet has subpoenaed at least seven personnel officials from other areas of state government.
And at least one official was directed to bring documents related to the "Governor's Personnel Initiative," Gov. Ernie Fletcher's effort to train someone in each cabinet on state and federal personnel laws.
Sheryl Snyder, a lawyer who represents the governor's office, said during a Franklin Circuit Court hearing yesterday that subpoenas were served Thursday and yesterday to approximately seven people from various cabinets.
Snyder declined after the hearing to identify the officials or the records that were subpoenaed.
So far, the grand jury has focused on the Transportation Cabinet, and some Personnel Cabinet officials and records have been subpoenaed. The grand jury is investigating whether civil service jobs were filled on the basis of politics, not merit.
Spokesmen for four of the remaining seven cabinets -- Finance and Administration, Education, Commerce and Economic Development -- confirmed yesterday that their personnel officers were subpoenaed.
Spokesmen for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet declined to comment. The Health and Family Services Cabinet spokesman could not be reached.
Fletcher's spokeswoman, Carla Blanton, said, "I don't have any comment on whether or not the investigation is expanding."
The investigation began in May with a 276-page complaint delivered to the attorney general's office by the then-assistant personnel director for the Transportation Cabinet.
The complaint alleged widespread violations of the civil service law known as the merit system. It bans politics from being considered in decisions to hire or fire rank-and-file state employees.
So far, eight current or former Fletcher administration officials have been indicted on misdemeanor charges, and one of them also is facing a felony charge of witness tampering. All have denied wrongdoing.
The felony charge could bring penalties of one to five years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
Charges of political discrimination, criminal conspiracy and violating the rights of executive branch employees could result in penalties of 30 days to six months in jail, forfeiture of office, and a five-year ban on state employment for each count. Penalties for official misconduct include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $500 on each count.
Scott Crawford-Sutherland, the prosecutor working with the grand jury, said in an interview yesterday that records previously filed by investigators indicated that the investigation had expanded beyond the Transportation Cabinet.
Crawford-Sutherland said six witnesses have been called to the grand jury Monday, and another nine Wednesday. He would not identify them or comment further.
John Farris, deputy secretary of the Finance Cabinet, said its chief of staff, Tim LeDonne, received a subpoena yesterday.
Farris said the subpoena asked LeDonne to bring records related to meetings and communications about hiring workers in the merit system. He also read part of the subpoena that directed LeDonne to bring "copies of all documents or writings, electronic or hard copy, reflecting contacts, communications meetings, discussions or appointments related -- - directly or indirectly -- to your participation to the Governor's Personnel Initiative."
Blanton said she did not know why investigators would be interested in the personnel initiative, which occurred last year or earlier this year.
"Basically, it set up training for a point person in each cabinet on a variety of issues such as merit system laws, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) regulations, training opportunities available to employees -- the whole gamut of personnel issues," Blanton said.
In another development yesterday, court records of administration e-mails showed for the first time that officials in Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's office consulted Fletcher's office on personnel issues.
The e-mails were filed in Franklin Circuit Court as part of an affidavit supporting a search warrant executed yesterday on the Governor's Office of Local Development.
Kentucky Bureau of Investigation agents seized two laptop computers used by Mary Krol, formerly the Louisville representative for Fletcher's Local Initiatives for a New Kentucky office who also worked in Fletcher's office in early 2004.
In one e-mail, Randy Embry, a former aide to Pence, wrote April 5, 2004, to Krol seeking help in getting a woman a state merit job. Embry noted that despite being a registered Democrat, the woman worked on Fletcher's campaign and helped the Pence celebration on election night.
It isn't known whether the woman got a job. Her name was not in a June 2 Personnel Cabinet database of state workers.
Krol, now with the state Republican Party, was not in her office yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Embry also couldn't be reached for comment.
Pence and his top aides were in Eastern Kentucky yesterday and couldn't be reached.
The e-mails also show that Krol corresponded with Dick Murgatroyd, former deputy transportation secretary and now Fletcher's deputy chief of staff, about merit hiring issues.
Murgatroyd is one of those who have been indicted in the investigation, and has denied any wrongdoing.
He is not accepting interview requests, Blanton said.
You know, this getting pretty rough. Fletcher's people have been getting in real trouble and now the emails start to lead back to Fletcher's office. If, by chance, criminal investigations are handed down against say both the governor and the lt. governor what happens then? Because it would seem just about the entire administration, including the governor, the lt governor and all their picked people might be in on this and one wonders when it becomes time to try to remove them from office. What type of measure are in place to remove the governor from office and if both of them were to be removed, who would take over. I think this would be a major loss to the national Republican part would something like that happen but I just can't help but think this might be the direction things are going in. What do you think?
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:11 PM
I knew Bolton would end up at the UN without the Senate's OK. It look like Bush will put him in as a recess apppointmen. You know it's that John Bolton lacks the intelligence. I feel like he's got that. I'd say he's got the administrative know how to do it as well. By alllcounts though, the man is a first rate ass. He's a jerk and he doesn't deserve the job. Colin Powell didn't trust him, Condie Rice doesn't want him in her State Department so send to the UN, an organization he doesn't even believe in. Here's the full story from the AP, written by Jennifer Loven with Ron Fournier and Anne Gearan contributing.
Officials: Bush Plans to Install Bolton
WASHINGTON - President Bush intends to announce next week that he is going around Congress to install embattled nominee John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, senior administration officials said Friday.
Bush has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007.
An end run around the Senate confirmation process would certainly annoy senators — particularly Democrats — at a time when Bush's nomination of John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. It also could hamper Bolton at the United Nations, by sending him there as a short-timer without the Senate's backing.
"There's just too much unanswered about Bolton and I think the president would make a truly serious mistake if he makes a recess appointment," Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the president had not made the announcement and Congress wasn't yet in recess, said Bush planned to exercise that authority before he leaves Washington on Tuesday for his ranch. The House recessed on Thursday and the Senate's break was scheduled to begin later Friday.
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan gave the strongest indication yet that Bush planned to do so, noting that the U.N. General Assembly has its annual meeting in mid-September.
"It's important that we get our permanent representative in place," he said. "This is a critical time and it's important to continue moving forward on comprehensive reform."
Bush counselor Dan Bartlett said the president had not made a decision on whether to make a recess appointment.
"He retains that right to do, but he will continue to work with the Senate as long as he can," Barlett said. "But he has not made a decision."
Bolton's nomination, announced in March by the president, was controversial from the start and has been stalled in the Senate by Democrats.
Critics say Bolton, who has been accused of mistreating subordinates and has been openly skeptical about the United Nations, would be ill-suited to the sensitive diplomatic task at the world body. The White House says the former undersecretary of state for arms control, who has long been one of Bush's most conservative foreign policy advisers, is exactly the man to whip the United Nations into shape.
This week, critics raised a fresh concern, saying Bolton had neglected to tell Congress he had been interviewed in a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The State Department said Thursday that Bolton was interviewed in 2003 by the department inspector general. The office was conducting a joint investigation with the CIA into allegations that Iraq attempted to buy nuclear materials from Niger. Bolton had earlier submitted a questionnaire to the Senate in which he had said he had not testified to a grand jury or been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over the past five years.
Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee (news, bio, voting record) said he would vote against Bolton — if given the chance — and would oppose a recess appointment if it is accurate that Bolton's form was originally incorrect. "Any intimidation of the facts, or suppression of information getting to the public which led us to the war, absolutely should preclude him from a recess appointment," said Chafee, of Rhode Island.
Also Friday, 35 Democratic senators and one independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, sent a letter to Bush urging against a recess appointment. "Sending someone to the United Nations who has not been confirmed by the United States Senate and now who has admitted to not being truthful on a document so important that it requires a sworn affidavit is going to set our efforts back in many ways," the letter said.
So, it appears Bolton lied to the Senate, flat out. Isn't there some law against that? He harasses people, he abuses to his subordinates AND he lies the U.S. Senate and he gets caught at it. It's a give politicians lie. The only thing more unforgivable than lieing is getting caught at it. Maybe I was wrong, maybe he's not that competent and I should question his intelligence.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:39 PM
Bob Hill over at the Courier Journal wrote a troubling column today. It's regarding a recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation about health statistics in children.
The report made Kentucky look pretty sorry. Health and welfare for children in Kentucky dropped from 39th to 42nd, the lowest ratings in 16 years. Yep... that's pretty sorry.
Hill discussed the fact that all the political infighting in Frankfort over jobs was downright disgusting considering the state of children in Kentucky and he's absolutely right. Kentucky is legendary for a lot of things and many of them are good, many aren't so good. We've got the sweetest whiskey, the most beautiful scenery in the world, a culture of music and art and history. We've also got a history of political corruption and graft (regardless of party), poverty, poor education, poor nutrition and not being able to take care of your children. What's up with Kentucky and its people?
I'm sitting listening to Bluegrass music and since I live in Harrodsburg, I'm keenly aware of our state's history. I'm sure Daniel Boone would've wanted to this land he put so much effort into to be known for something more than an inability to take care of its children. I think Kentucky's legislature and its leaders in Frankfort must, nout just out of necessity but out of moral duty, take care of our nation. For those folks in this state who call themselves Christian, and there are many of them, it's about damned time you started holding our leader's feet to the fire and make them do something about it. I can't think of anything more un-Christian than letting children suffer and/or die, especially when all our leaders are bickering like the children they need to save.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:21 PM
I write frequently about politics and it's something I'm terribly interested in. The reason I'm so interested in it because I maintain a fairly youthful idealism. I'm actually listening to music from Camelot right now. The reason I right is to offer hope and support and prayer even to what happens tomorrow morning at Kennedy Space Center in about 12 hours. The Space Shuttle Discovery will blast off tomorrow for its first mission since the destruction of the Columbia.
Some may think I'm full of it but I think NASA and the space program is one of the most important things in our country and the world. Some may argue it's a bloated buracratic entity that takes entirely too much money. That might be true but the payoff is worth it. NASA has had disasters in recent years but the program must continues. I rarely agree with Bush on much of anything but I agreed with him when he spoke after the Columbia disaster. The program will go on, must go on. It's the future of American and the world.
The space program represents the very concept America was founded on: Hope, dreams and imagination and the concept that there's something better out there. Exploration is probably the strongest drive in human nature, it's the drive for knowledge, to see what's just over that hill. When man ate from the probverbial tree of knowledge, it me him aware of himself but it also made him aware of everything else and gave him the drive to go further and further. Man crossed the never-ending oceans and the vast lands. As the space shuttle program begins to wind down and other ships move in to replace the shuttle either through NASA or some private means, humans must dream and imagine and this what this is.
Thanks to all the astronauts who've gone before and God's speed to those who lift off in the morning. We pray for your safe return. The hopes of the world ride on your shoulders and strong shoulders those are indeed.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:11 PM
For my readers, I'm sorry my posts have been scarce recently. I've been kind of busy the last couple of days but I will endeavor to put up more content and I will work to improve my site for peoples. I'd like to possibly put a forum together in the future but still working on the details. I'm also curious to see if anyone actually listened to my podcast. Let me know if anyone has listened to the first one. I'm going to do another one today I think. I might try to work them a couple of times a week. Hopefully folks will find them interesting. Anyway, lets see what we've got:
First, there's a Vermont Republican running for Congress named Dennis Morrisseau. The 62-year old out of West Pawlet, Vt. I have to say I think I like because the man has got some serious stones. The central point of his campaign them is the impeachment of one President George W. Bush. I applaud him for his gumption, I think it's political suicide but I like him. Especially if he wins. The full story is in the Rutland Herald
The House of Representatives passed the Patriot Act through with 14 of the 16 provision intact. It was mostly partisan lines but a few Democrats voted in favor of it. Unfortunately, our own Ben Chandler voted for it in what I think is a phenemonally boneheaded move. This legislation is design specifically to eat away out our bill of rights protections. These provisions allow the government check out our financial records, our library records and even our medical records. They can do the roving wire taps and all this is done through a "secret judge?" What hell is that? When do we have "secret judges" in this country?
There's a version in the Senate that's certainly much better than the House version but the point I guess is that the bill is making it through at all. Now this is the judicial committee version that we want supported. There's version coming out of the Senate Intelligence committee that keeps all 16 provision and adds something new. We don't want that one for sure. I don't think there's any chance of the thing not going through at all but we can hope that the Senate version prevails over the version coming out of the House. Did I mention that the House limited debate on the thing to less than a day and half the amendments to the thing didn't even get a mention.
Finally, our own delightful governor Ernie Fletcher's follies seem to be cascading continually. His staff has been indicted on numerous misdemeanor charges and even felony charges. The Lt. Governor continues to whine because he though that thing could be resolved and swept under the table. Now we have full blown scandal with CRIMINAL investigations. This is on a track now and it's not going to stop until a trial because if pleas are worked out then some members of Fletcher's staff will have to take the hit. It's turned into the no-win scenario and I think we might see some Republican alternatives for governor in 2007. I don't think Ernie could win it because he's lost complete control of the agenda and while the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page defends him, your average Kentuckian doesn't read the WSJ. It was nice knowing you Ernie. Now you know why it'll be another 30 years before a Republican governor will be elected again.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:54 AM
A brilliant stroke of genius by the federal government made it through a few months ago. It's called the Real ID system. As much as I like him, it was a boneheaded move by Congressman Chandler to go with this legislation. It was passed pretty strongly but it's a nightmare issue now. They say it's not a national id system but that's exactly what it is.
The RealID is nothing more than national ID system. no matter how much they deny it, it is and it's going to cost. The states are being forced, without any form of subsidization at all to swallow this load of bull. The Arkansas governor, a Republican said it's going to triple or quadruple our cost for drivers license. It already costs $20 in KY. What happens when it hits $60 or $80? A lot more people will go without a license I'd say.
New Mexico and states like them will be in a real predicament. They already give license to illegal immigrents and while some may say that's wrong in and of itself, according to the governor, it does document them so they know where they are and it allows them to get insurance so others aren't forced to pay for their problems.
It's absolutely insane. The federal government is going to make the states pay for one more way for them to keep tabs on us. Remember you heard it hear when someone asks you "your papers pleasee?"
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:28 AM
President Bush was doing classic "John Kerry" waffling today first with Karl Rove and then with India. After saying he would get rid of member of the administration who leaked a CIA operative's name, he backed up a bit and changed that to "if they leaked someone's name 'illegally'".
OK... you knew it was coming. He's not going to put part of his own posse in the pen if he can help. He's loyal to his friends. The problem he's got though was there's a perception among many the administration is doing so first rate waffling.
Most sane people knew good and well he wasn't going to fire Karl Rove short of video evidence he went into Wal-Mart with .50 caliber machine gun and proceeded to mow down the entire store in a bloody mess. Even then, the trial would have to convict him first. It's just frustrating to see them not be open and forthright on the whole situation.
A recent article BusinessWeek's website called How CEOs Would Handle Rove provides some interesting insight. Toward the end of the article, there's a statement that's most appropriate, "Sometimes the perception of a cover-up can be as damaging as the facts at issue."
Right now, regardless of what Karl Rove did or didn't do, the perception is there that he did do something wrong and there's a reporter in jail who sure as hell thinks something wrong is happening. But, the person most adept to deal with this and do all the things to move the agenda in another direction remains Karl Rove.
I imagine one of my PR professors would have something to say about this if he could talk about it.
The other thing the administration did a 180 on was its India policy regarding nuclear power. President Bush said the U.S. would be more than happy to help our old buddies in India work out the kinks in a nuclear power plant. It seems odd on the surface, after all the hell we've been giving Iran for their nuclear power strategy but one, we know India has nukes. It's no secret. Two, it's a power thing, no really, it is. Another country besides China that drinks a lot of oil is India.
This might cut down their consumption fossil fuels, making Bush look like an environmental good guy, a little bit. India's environmental problems are absolutely horrendous. Their great river Ganges is incredibly polluted and since the river a part of their religion, a new power source like nuclear power might help begin to clean up some of the mess. It would also provide lots of power for a nation with a billion people, which brings me to my next point.
Good relations with the only nation on earth with nearly the same population as China. China increasingly challenges America's absolute dominance as the lone superpower in the world. While the U.S. and China are bound in many ways, there are many problems too. India will be an excellent foil to the China's growing dominance in the region.
That's all for the moment. Good evening.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:05 PM
I took my first crack at a podcast this evening. It's the last entry on here really but my voice is astounding so I'd encourage folks to listen and offer their suggestions. If there are any topics folks want me to cover, feel free to ask. I'll do some research. I'd like to gain some interview in the future and put them up but I think it would probably be a little while before I can do that. I think I'd probably need to pick up a digital recorder too. Anyway, the link is on the side but I've include it here too.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:13 PM
Right now, a bitter battle goes on in Washington and in the media. Reporters and Democrats are calling for the head of Karl Rove on pike posted in front of the west wing. One could wonder how the White House could defend Karl Rove in such a situation. What many forget is they don't have too. Karl Rove's best defense isn't President Bush, it's himself.
President Bush began his climb up the political latter shortly after his father lost the White House back in 1992. Bush decided he wanted the job and didn't screw around. He beat a very strong Texas governor in Anne Richards and after looking good in Texas and some extraordinary polishing; he went after the big dogs in D.C. The man who washed him and cleaned him up was Karl Rove.
Karl Rove was Bush's chief strategist back in during his run as governor of Texas and during both his campaigns for president. He's Bush's deputy chief of staff. All the nasty little things that surface through various groups during Bush's campaigns were Rove's doing.
Senator John Kerry's military problems got all the talk they did because of Rove. Questioning Senator John McCain's patriotism and mental stability were hatched from the brain of Rove too. His Texas tactics were equally as evil or brilliant depending how you look at it. He did get his job done, which was to get George Walker Bush into the governor's mansion and then the White House.
When political issues come up, Rove's the man they talk too. Right now to shake heat off of him, the GOP is attacking Joseph Wilson IV, a former diplomat. An editorial once said what Rove does when he's on the defensive is he attacks and he attacks hard. He's doing it again. If things go as planned, Wilson won't be able to sell lemonade on street corners.
When all this first broke back in 2003 and then subsequent federal investigation, this turned into a freedom of the press issue so reporters wouldn't reveal their sources. Novak, who printed the story, stayed quiet and low key for the most part and Matt Cooper and Judith Miller wouldn't back down though. But even that battle, while being fought for the last couple of years had almost died until the going to jail stuff came up.
Time magazine gave in and turned over the notes. Then Rove's lawyer signed a waiver for Cooper saying he could talk and boy did he. Rove's name shows up all over the leak. So now what? The way things look, a federal law may not even have been broken. Bush said before that no one in the White House would do this sort of thing. Well, they did. So they can't talk now because of the investigation. OK… sure, the press has to take that because they've got no other choice.
The administration is keeping quiet right now because politically, anything they might say could damage them. Rove knows this quite well so he advises calm and quiet. Rove will handle this himself, like Darth Vader flying out to meet the X-Wing pilots.
Rove will use many of his skills with reporters and the media. He will do some quality work and PR damage control to totally deflect the issue from him, the White House and the administration in its entirety. It wouldn't surprise me when this is done if Wilson didn't end up in the hoosegow somehow. Mark my words though, nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen to Karl Rove.
As a student of history and a political watcher, I appreciate a good political flimflam. There have been many others but in recent years, this one has been quite good. Watch what happens. Rove will calmly work his magic and regain control of the agenda here by a bit of wedging probably, like with that traitor, Joe Wilson, and the liberal media plotting its vengeance for the damage to some of its own. It's already started too. Check out the GOP website and some others. I always heard a PhD. meant piled higher and deeper. If that's the case Rove should have about 50 of them. I don't like him I guess but I do have a sneaking admiration for Karl Rove because he is incredibly good at what he does. Yep, he doesn't need anyone to defend. He can do it all by himself. Remember, Darth Vader survived and fought again.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:18 PM
Fletchers follies all pleaded not guilty in their arraignments today and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, was there to cheer them on, calling the event a political farce and a media circus.
David Williams wouldn't know anything about political farces at all. He bares no credit in the fiasco that's given Louisville's 37th district no representation because the candidate the Republicans picked was ineligible to run. The sad thing is they won't have representation for the upcoming turn either. It's pretty sad really.
But back to the topic at hand. The charges for the defendants center around merit law violations. I might add Fletcher wants to change the merit system so they can bring an even more diverse cronyism system into the state of Kentucky and they can award all the jobs to political supporters.
Dick Murgatroyd, Fletcher's deputy chief of staff, transportation dude Bill Nighbert, dept. trans. dude, Jim Adams, Dan Druen, the cabinet's admin. serv. comm. and Cory Meadows, the exec. dir. of the trans. enhancement program all have been indicted and pleaded not guilty.
Murg was charged on 19 misdemeanor counts of conspiracy, political discrimination and violating the rights of state merit employees.
When Ernie Fletcher came into office, he promised to clean up waste, fraud and abuse in Frankfort. You don't do that but working the same system that was there before in your favor. That's just more of the same. It's becoming painfully clear that Fletcher obviously had no intention of cleaing it up, they just wanted to integrate the Republican into the government so they could maintain control. I got news for you, if this is the way it's going to happen, it'll be another 30 years before they win the Frankfort again.
I'm not a fan of AG Stumbo, but indictments aren't handed out by grand juries if there's not some substance to the charges. There has to be something there. The problem is if all these folks are convicted, they can't hold a job with the state for quite some time. I hope for the state of Kentucky, non of this is true but I feel in my gut that it is. It makes Kentucky look bad, just like the Patton scandal made us look bad and just like Boptrot made us look bad. According to Mark Nickolas blog, even Mitch McConnell is looking for someone to replace Ernie in 2007.
One other thing Ernie and his follies seem to have missed. Frankfort isn't Washington and it doesn't work that way. They need to learn that because really, it's probably already too late.
There are some great stories on the matter in both the Herald Leader and the Courier Journal. I've put links to them here.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:38 PM
The CCA got their prison one way or the other. After Democrats fought visciously to keep the new prison built up in Elliott County under the control of Kentuckians, the administration proceeded to award the Floyd County "purchasable" prison to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). John Cheves had a nice story in the Herald Leader today.
The facts: CCA donated $200,000 to Republicans including Mitch McConnell, Congressman Hal Rogers and our very own governor, Ernie Fletcher.
The contract will be worth $7.9 million dollars and... this is the best part, the current commissioner in charge of the Corrections Dept. in Ky. is John Rees, a former vice president of CCA.
I wonder if there was a conflict of interest there?
Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson said in the Cheves' article "I'm always concerned about putting a prison population in the hands of a for-profit corporation, when you start thinking about the inmates' food, health care and safety."
I've talked to Robin Webb before and she's thoughtful, intelligent and knows what she's doing. She's a member of the House budget subcommittee that handles prisons.
Here's John Cheves' entire article:
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:20 PM
This was my own take on the current Karl Rove scandal. I didn't editorialize much.
Presidents who get a second term are few generally. In recent decades though, Second term presidents usually end up with more than standard political conflicts and lame duck behavior. The second term usually provides a full-blown, nation-threatening scandal of epic proportions. Now Bush might just have his in the form of Karl Rove.
The honorable President Bush, who, not even a year into his second term, may have the makings of a good, nasty scandal that involves the media, high-ranking administration officials, Constitutional conundrums, war and the CIA.
The incident began (sort of) back in 2003 when noted conservative columnist Bob Novak published the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Ms. Plame was also the wife of diplomat Joseph Wilson IV, who had been critical of the Bush administration when he wouldn't support the administrations bogus claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to by fissionable materials from Niger.
At the time a couple of other reporters, named Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, got the same information Novak did but only he chose to report it. Chaos ensued with the possible violation of federal law as the CIA operative's life was in danger, national security, etc. A federal investigation resulted and even then, Karl Rove's name had been surfaces as a possible leak. Karl Rove was Bush's chief campaign strategist and deputy chief of staff in the White House.
Rove repeatedly denied the allegations and the Bush administration maintained that no one in their administration could do such a thing. They maintained that if someone did, they wouldn't be working in the administration. Now, the administration isn't saying much about this "criminal investigation".
The investigation came down to two reporters, Cooper and Miller, who didn't want to reveal their sources. Time magazine handed over the notes Cooper had put together, basically against his wishes. Miller and the Times didn't budge. Last week, Cooper said he'd received express personal permission from his source to reveal himself. Miller said she didn't receive that same permission.
Cooper revealed that his source was Karl Rove, although Time magazine, his employer has said they won't reveal the information in the notes and the magazine won't publicly confirm Rove. Miller currently rots in jail and will stay there probably until the probe is over.
Then, the semantics come into play. Apparently, Rove himself may not have been the individual who actually talked to the reporters. It might have come via his attorney. So naturally, Rove didn't rat out anyone did he? If Rove did leak the information, either directly or indirectly, as has been suggested, he could be brought up on federal charges.
But it doesn't end there folks. Part of the reason for the probe is that there may not have been a violation of the law to begin with, in which case, Rove's actions, assuming he did what he may have been accused of, might have been merely a case of immoral, unethical behavior, which as most cynics know means absolutely nothing in politics.
Second term scandals have certainly happened before and presidential scandals in history have a long and colorful history dating back to when Thomas Jefferson accused John Adams of attempting to marry off his child into the family of King George III of England.
Lyndon Johnson had Vietnam. It was his first full term but he had completed Kennedy's first term and didn't run for a second. Vietnam wrecked Johnson and most of his positive accomplishments played second fiddle to the war.
Richard Nixon is synonymous with White House scandal perhaps more than any president in history. The break-in of the Watergate Hotel during the 1972 presidential campaign still has scars on this nation.
Republican deity President Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra. The hearings were on television and names like Oliver North and Fawn Hall became household names. Ronald Reagan's selling of weapons to our enemies, namely Iran and also Saddam Hussein (who wasn't an enemy then) will forever taint Reagan's presidency after the administration claimed they didn't deal with terrorists.
The Bill Clinton sex scandals happened during his second and President Clinton was actually impeached for committing perjury. Clinton was in the middle of sexual harassment suit with Paula Jones when the Monica Lewinsky issue came up. Clinton's interpretation of various sexual acts led to the Republican controlled Congress going after Clinton like rabid dogs.
The media, war, high level officials, the CIA, it's all here. If an indictment is handed down against Karl Rove, then this is going to drag out for a while, will certainly scar Bush's legacy and in a term already chock full of crunchy bits, this would certainly add even more. The only crucial element missing would seem to be a juicy sex portion of this. I wonder if Karl Rove plays Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:25 AM
This morning on the way to work, I'm still not completely awake. It's a little muggy out and I head toward Lexington for my job. I turn on NPR and London's been bombed? WHAT? A new Al Quaeda group is claiming responsibility? DAMN IT! The G8 are meeting in Gleneagles Scotland to talk about world poverty and and global warming. The group wanted to make a statement and they did.
Londoners have been through these things before. The IRA have been haunting Britain for years and there are still more than a few who remember the blitz. I believe Al Quaeda needs to study their history. The English "never surrender". The went ape on Argentina over the Falklands, what do you think they'll do to people who attack their main island? I wasn't a bit supporter of the war in general but I also hate to see people get attacked. I sort of feel sorry for Al Quaeda now too. Because there are two parts to the old saying. The first was "the sun never sets on the British empire". Their enemies came up with another part of it and those enemies who were responsible for the attack would do well to take note. The second half is "because God doesn't trust and Englishman in the dark." Al Quaeda is going to find out why.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:15 PM
I hope folks approve of the new look. I like it pretty well.
Some things of note lately. Lexington had an excellent July 4 celebration.
My current home town of Harrodsburg had their fireworks display on Saturday out at Anderson-Dean Park. It was spectacule.
I'd also like to mention Harrodsburg now has a drive-in. The Twin Hill Drive-In opened a couple of weeks ago and the look to be doing well. They're opened 7 nights at week for at least a while. My wife and I have been once. We wouldn've been more if it weren't for the heat.
Also, keep your eye on SCOTUS. Rehnquist may step down next, perhaps is soon. His battle wit the big C is leaving the distinguished judge rather worn I think. Some talk is that the current Attorney General of the U.S. may end up on the bench. He served in the Texas Supreme Court. No one knows quite yet.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:00 PM
I've changed the look to my blog. I hope folks find it likable. My buddy David Salas did the coding for me. He's a computer student at UK. He's got one more term left at that fine state institution.
Thanks again. More comments on the state of affair on the affairs of state coming later today.
posted by Stithmeister @ 2:24 PM
This is my editorial on the SCOTUS wars. The company I work for does mostly business and tech news but I get to throw something in every now and then. I hope you enjoy.
The lines are being drawn as the U.S. prepares for an epic battle over the next Supreme Court nomination. The ideological battle looks to have all the makings of a classic political spectacle of the highest order.
This past Friday, Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor ended her distinguished 24 years of service to the highest court in the land. She was appointed by Ronald Reagan and passed the Senate on a 99-0 vote. She's been considered a moderate conservative throughout her tenure and has been in middle ground in a number of crucial decisions during her time.
Since she made this announcement, literally thousands of stories from all over the world have appeared discussing the issue of who will fill the empty seat. At this point, speculation is rampant and insanity is not far behind.
In addition to all the stories, all the television news networks, bloggers, and podcasters everywhere offer their notions and thoughts on what this new justice should be like. Various advocacy groups of all types will throw in their thoughts to the mix to sway the president and the Senate one way or the other.
Many are calling for moderation, others to get rid of activist judges, and others still saying the judges aren't activist enough. Some will want states' rightists, others want religious conservatives and many more will want liberals or some other ideology.
Right now, there's been no word on embedded journalists on the front lines of this war though. Not sure if Geraldo Rivera will be giving map info drawn into the sand? One can probably assume though that journalists will be attached to the various military units involved, like the Democratic Senatorial Caucus and medical marijuana advocacy groups. This fight is surely to be one of the nastiest battles in the modern era. One hopes politicians will observe the rules of no dueling.
In any event, the media will be there to cover it for the next few months. Millions of stories from across the globe, pundits from across the living room and everywhere else will dominate political talk and discussion like no other in the weeks ahead. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) even suggested holding hearings during the recess in August to get the process moving.
As the stories and commentaries continue to be written and we all get mad because Bush doesn't nominate who we thought was the best choice for the job, we will be saturated with this information (we already are) in anticipation of who it might be, the hearings themselves, the Senate vote (and the ensuing filibuster), and then why all this did or did not work. With any luck, all this will get done on the first try. And then Chief Justice Rehnquist starts and we go through it again.
posted by Stithmeister @ 1:24 PM
Right now, the state of Kentucky has some state supreme court issues and while that's certainly relevant to Kentucky, this pales in comparison to the political war brewing in Washington as I type. Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement on Friday and that story has dominate the news since that letter was announced.
The distinguished jurist set many firsts, the most prominent of which was the first female Supreme Court justice in our nations history. Reagan made the appointment back in 1981 and many court watchers felt she's played a crucial role on the court ever since.
Her leanings were decidedly conservative with some moderate views. She was a staunch federalist, much to the dismay of Chief Justice Rehnquist, a former classmate from Stanford Law School. Her most famous decision in favor of the federal government has come during the abortion debate and she's constantly said the states don't have the right to regulate abortion. But at the same time, she dissented in the most recent Raich V Gonzales, which is the medical marijuan case.
While her history is certainly admirable, her somewhat unexpected retirement from the court, which ends one of the longest runs of SCOTUS ever at over 10 years together, the box just opens makes for political war in Washington and all are coming out to fight. Various ideological groups are sharpening their spears and their tongues as one of the great senatoral battles of the 21st century is about to commence. What will happen is uncertain but this is certainly going to be a lot uglier than making sausage that's for sure.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:04 AM
It would seem much of the problem the governor is having right now regarding the jobs is everybody wanted their efforts rewarded immediately. I guess old Ernie owed a lot of favors and all of them wanted nice cushy state jobs. Don't know how to play the game there governor? Or is that none of your supporters know how to play the game.
It would seem that the plans for the Republican Party in Ky. were to replace most all of the Democrats in non-merit state jobs, at least in the ones they could control. Unfortunately, all those folks were ready for their rewards immediately and now that all the pigs ... er ... uh elephants can't feed at the trough at the same time in the same spot as was the case apparently, then they may be back on a road of not feeding at all. In a number of these emails and other correspondance, some people were even asking for the same jobs.
It looks like old Ernie may be up to his ears in all this graft, better know in today's vernacular as waste, fraud, and abuse. The governor promised to get rid of it and unfortunately, all the things he was looking to improve upon, he's making worse.
posted by Stithmeister @ 4:26 PM
I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.
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