Friday, February 9, 2007

Wanted: A Governor For Kentucky

Ultimately, they refrained from protesting. However, where was the Governor? Where was his executive leadership? The Kansas church assembling was not a first amendment issue. Simply stated, the governor has a responsibility. Said duty is the elimination of any organization whose soul purpose is pain infliction.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

The Westboro Baptist Church will not protest at tomorrow’s funeral for 10 people who perished in a Bardstown house fire this week. Rock station WLRS, which broadcasts on 104.3 and 105.1 FM in Louisville, let one of Westboro’s members air the church’s views of an angry God from 3 to 4 p.m. today in exchange for canceling the protest.

Church members had planned to express their belief that the deaths were God’s punishment for a nation that condones homosexuality. They have protested at other funerals, including those of soldiers killed in Iraq. Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton called the deal "good news."

"There was a lot of anxiety, a lot of disbelief … and there was a lot of anger that a group like that would choose a funeral for 10 people who died innocently in a fire," he said. As for the radio station that coordinated the deal: "We owe them a debt of thanks," Heaton said.

The WLRS disc jockey who uses only the name Mo said he called the church to offer the deal while he was driving home from work Thursday night. Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro pastor Fred Phelps said members would not renege on the deal. "We gave our word," she said a few minutes after getting off the air.

The on-air session, interspersed with a few commercials and some of the station’s usual music, was heated. One of the songs the station played in between the two portions of the conversation was Green Day's "American Idiot," a hard-charging, post-punk anthem that takes aim at Americans who buy into false ideals, hysteria and "the redneck agenda."

Anne’s Priorities? Wishful Flushing

Anne Northup’s priority? “To get control of the budget.”

How? By sponsoring another world toilet summit?

Meager Anne

From Kentucky Pachyderm 2:

Someone must have told disloyal Republican Anne Northup that her "Fletcher can't win" primary election strategy leaves something to be desired. It seems she's now out trying to articulate positions, particularly on economic development -- that is if you can consider her "a different approach for each of our 120 counties" statement as a legitimate goal.

The only problem is that Northup's experience is severely limited when it comes to Kentucky geography. During her years in Congress, and before that as a state legislator, Northup only represented PART of ONE county, and that county is atypical of most of Kentucky. A large chunk of Jefferson County isn't even in the 3rd District. And even though Northup enlisted disloyal Republican Jeff Hoover, from the GOP-dominated 5th District, to be her running mate, we have to wonder how well she'll relate to the people and the varied needs of Kentucky.

During his three years as governor, Ernie Fletcher has worked for the entire Commonwealth. By now he has visited most, if not all, of the state's counties. But on top of that, Fletcher trumps Northup in relevant legislative experience, too. While he served in Congress, Fletcher represented a varied district in terms of geography and socioeconomics. His territory included Kentucky's second largest city, the state capital of Frankfort, growing communities like Scott and Clark and Madison counties, rural areas like Bourbon and Garrard counties, and even a couple of poorer Appalachian counties like Estill and Powell.

He has more familiarity and experience with a number of communities and issues than does Northup, whose turf and scope is quite limited in comparison. Fletcher's congressional district, probably more than any other, represented all phases of Kentucky life. From rural to urban, small town to big city, agrarian to industrial, prosperous to impoverished, flat to mountainous, you can find everything that makes Kentucky what it is in the 6th District. The governor's own background makes him better able to relate to Kentuckians of all social standings. Raised in humble surroundings in Montgomery County by working-class parents with Appalachian roots, Fletcher graduated from high school in Lexington.

And there's no disputing his resume is the most impressive we've ever seen of any candidate for public office in Kentucky in decades. When life experiences and worldviews are carefully considered, it's obvious Fletcher has a huge advantage over Northup. Someone who's only represented a small corner of Kentucky versus someone who's represented everything that makes Kentucky what it is -- to us, the choice is an easy one. This is another case where Fletcher's qualifications stand head and shoulders above everyone else's.

Fair-weather Fletcher

Fletcher’s true colors? Republican red… when he is already bleeding.

From Blue Grass, Red State:

Whether to commend Gov. Ernie Fletcher for the State of the Commonwealth speech he gave Tuesday night or criticize him depends largely on how one views it.

Republicans claim they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Fletcher claims he’s produced surplus from deficit through fiscal restraint. It is not a year the General Assembly must pass a budget, and lawmakers have promised not to open up the budget in this session. But there was Fletcher, calling for nearly $200 million of new spending, not only restoring projects he vetoed last spring, but urging lawmakers to approve $91 million in new projects.

He said he’s produced this (projected) surplus without raising taxes. But any way he slices the argument, the Alternative Minimum Tax was an increase – it created new taxes for small businesses and it produced more revenue.

As Republican House Leader Jeff Hoover – who is Anne Northup’s running mate on a ticket challenging Fletcher – put it: “If people didn’t think it’s an election year before the speech, they certainly do now.”

On the other hand, Fletcher offered some progressive spending proposals. Never mind Fletcher is again claiming credit for some ideas which lawmakers – from both parties – originally proposed. It’s difficult to argue against vaccines against cancer, more tuition assistance for needy college students, more money to improve math and science education and proposals for social worker safety. Or those juicy capital projects.

Fletcher is endlessly criticized for a failure to understand the nature and power of his office (mea culpa). Well, it looks like he’s catching on – three years into his administration. The spending proposals will please constituencies important to lawmakers, especially Democratic legislators like Speaker Jody Richards who has his own gubernatorial campaign to consider. If lawmakers give in and abandon their pledge of “budget discipline,” candidate Fletcher will take credit. If they don’t, he’ll tell voters he tried.

The speech didn’t contain an apology for the “mistakes” of his administration’s hiring practices which led to an insurgency in his own party and remains a political albatross in his quest for re-election. Reportedly, a draft of the speech contained one, but if so, it was dropped from the final version.

Of course it was a campaign speech. Whether one liked it depends largely on whether one wants Fletcher re-elected.

Speaking of campaigns, Northup this week changed campaign managers only three weeks after she announced her candidacy. That doesn’t seem to match her reputation for running well oiled campaigns.

And proving Fletcher still has much to learn about gubernatorial politics, there were stories this week he called a couple of his county contacts – for the first time in three years. And being surprised they support Northup.

Canoodling With the Enemy

From Pol Watchers:

For the second time this month, political rivals Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Attorney General Greg Stumbo put aside their differences to support legislation. On Feb. 1, the two men, who have clashed over an investigation of state hiring practices, teamed up at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda to back anti-drug legislation.

They have been political enemies because of Stumbo's office's work with a special Franklin County grand jury in investigating allegations that the Fletcher administration abused the state merit system that protects rank-and-file workers from political influence. Fletcher was charged with three criminal misdemeanors, but Stumbo and he later reached an agreement to dismiss them.

Fletcher, a Republican who is seeking re-election, has maintained that the investigation was politically motivated. Stumbo, a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor with gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Lunsfor has said that was not the case.

Today, Fletcher and Stumbo were in the Rotunda to support tax credits for landowners who place conservations easements on their properties to provide public access to hunters. In front of a large group of sports enthusiasts wearing bright orange hunting caps, Fletcher recognized Stumbo and voiced his appreciation for Stumbo's support of the legislation.

Asked later by a reporter exactly whom is he backing in the Republican primary for governor, Stumbo smiled and only said of the question, "Tacky, tacky."

Harper Signs Where Others Have Broken

From Lexington Herald-Leader:

Paducah businessman Billy Harper, a Republican candidate for governor, signed a national anti-tax group's pledge not to raise levies if elected governor, earning him praise from Grover Norquist.

Norquist, the controversial small-government advocate and president of Americans for Tax Reform, applauded Harper for adding his name to the list of more than 50 Kentucky officials who have signed the pledge -- a promise that has come back to haunt many of them, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

The Americans for Tax Reform group last spring slammed Fletcher and 46 legislators -- including Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover, who is running as the lieutenant governor candidate with former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup against Fletcher. ATR railed against the budget, which those lawmakers and Fletcher approved, for including fee increases and a record amount of debt for bonds to cover construction projects.

The pledge for gubernatorial candidates, which is for life, requires the signer to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."

ATR, today, noted in its press release that Fletcher approved the budget with tax increases. It also said that Northup signed a pledge while she served in Congress for 10 years but hasn't signed onto the gubernatorial promise list.

Harper has built his campaign largely on two issues: a promise to get businesses more involved in the education system and the elimination of a tax on small businesses that Fletcher's 2005 tax code change plan created. That Alternative Minimum Calculation hurts businesses because it charges a tax bill even for companies that lose money in a year, Harper says. He wants to repeal it, which would cost the state at least $120 million a year in revenue.

Meanwhile, fiscally conservative groups have been critical of Fletcher this week after his State of the Commonwealth Address Tuesday night.

"This governor was using taxpayer time on KET and valuable time of lawmakers to give a campaign stump speech," said Jim Waters, director of policy and communications at the Bluegrass Institute, a free market think tank in Bowling Green. "He really tried to buy votes. All he talked about was spending, and this isn’t even a budget year."

Fletcher told reporters this year that his funding proposals for programs -- such as $25 million for tuition assistance and $5 million for helping uninsured women receive vaccinations against cervical cancer -- are urgent.

Annie Will Take Your Guns

Here is the rating from the 106th Congress wherein Anne Northup rates a zero on the protection of the Second Amendment. During this Congress Anne matched gun grabbers like Nancy Pelosi and Maxine "murky" Waters vote for vote. Governor Fletcher was in the U.S. Congress then and scored a very respectable 83%. Here are the issues and here are the votes. Prove it to yourself.

Federal Vote Scorecard - 106th Congress, Second Session House of Representatives 106th Congress, Second Session
Vote Descriptions:

1. Stopping the BATF from enforcing the Clinton and Wesson pact (07/20/2000, Roll Call No. 427) 07/20/2000 -- On July 20, 2000, Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) forced a vote on an amendment that would have forbidden the Treasury Department-- and the BATF specifically-- from enforcing the Clinton & Wesson pact. The implementation of the agreement primarily relies upon the establishment of an Oversight Commission (which will include a representative of the BATF). Rep. Hostettler's amendment would have prevented the use of taxpayer monies to fund that commission--an anti-gun agency that has never been authorized by Congress. The amendment to H.R. 4871 failed by a vote of 214-204. A vote in favor of the amendment is rated as a "+".

2. Cutting off enforcement of the Clinton and Wesson pact (06/26/2000, Roll Call No. 324) 06/26/2000 -- On June 26, 2000, Rep. Hostettler forced a vote on an amendment to H.R. 4690. The Hostettler provision would have forbidden the Justice Department from in any way enforcing the Clinton & Wesson pact -- an agreement that applies to ALL firearms sold by Smith & Wesson dealers, not just guns that are manufactured by the gun maker. The amendment failed by a vote of 201-196. A vote in favor of the amendment is rated as a "+".

3. Reining in HUD's gun control agenda (06/21/2000, Roll Call No. 306) 06/21/2000 -- On June 21, 2000, Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) forced a vote on the VA-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 4635) to curb the administration's ability to bring more communities into the federal agreement with Smith & Wesson. Because of the Hostettler amendment, the Clinton administration will not be able to issue press releases or have its lawyers help the coalition of state and local governments (the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition) that are conspiring against the gun industry. The amendment passed by a vote of 218-207. A vote in favor of the amendment is rated as a "+".

4. Denying enforcement of S&W sell-out (06/21/2000, Roll Call No. 308) 06/21/2000 -- On June 21, 2000, Rep. Hostettler forced a vote on an amendment to H.R. 4635 that would have forbidden HUD outright from enforcing the gun control agreement that was signed in March by the Clinton administration and Smith & Wesson. The agreement applies to ALL firearms sold by Smith & Wesson dealers, not just guns that are manufactured by S&W. The amendment failed by a vote of 219-206. A vote in favor of the amendment is rated as a "+".

5. Conyers motion to instruct (04/11/2000, Roll Call No. 118) 04/11/2000 -- Anti-gun motion to instruct. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) offered a non-binding motion to instruct House-Senate negotiators to bring the anti-gun juvenile bill out of a conference committee. The motion passed 406-22 on April 11, 2000. The motion asks the House-Senate conferees to produce a bill that contains some Project Exile type provisions, as well as the bulk of the gun restrictions that were in the original juvenile bill -- things such as a ban on private sales of firearms at gun shows (that are not subjected to registration background checks), anti-safety trigger lock provisions, an import ban on politically incorrect ammo clips, a young adult ban on possessing certain semi-automatic firearms, etc. A vote against the motion is rated as a "+".

6. Lofgren anti-gun motion to instruct (03/15/2000, Roll Call No. 50) 03/15/2000 -- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) brought a Motion to Instruct on March 15, 2000. While this motion urged the juvenile crime bill conferees to begin meeting within two weeks, it is non-binding and can be completely ignored. The measure passed 218-205. A vote against the Motion to Instruct is rated as a "+".

Kentucky Representatives 1 2 3 4 5 6 Score

1. Edward Whitfield (R-KY) + NV + + - + 80% 2.

Ron Lewis (R-KY) + + + + - + 83%

3. Anne Northup (R-KY) - - - - - - 0%

4. Ken Lucas (D-KY) + + + + - + 83%

5. Harold Rogers (R-KY) + + + + - + 83%

6. Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) + + + + - + 83% Says It Right

Was it getting cross-wired on the fly-around schedule the day after she announced for governor? When her plane arrived two hours late for campaign stops? Or, was it the Larue County Lincoln Day Dinner where she got a tepid reception from the dozen or so party faithful who attended?

Maybe it was Saturday night's RPK Lincoln Day Dinner where she totally blew her speech and with it the golden opportunity to put Gov. Ernie Fletcher on the run? No one in the Anne Northup camp has been happy lately.

The Lady from Louisville apparently went looking for a head to sever, and her manager, Cam Savage was the one. Too bad.

He's a strong political operative. And, tell us again who gave - or rather, read that speech? Don't know what to say about her new manager, Michael Clingaman, who left his job at the RPK to work with consultant Ted Jackson to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

One sure thing: He'll need an asbestos suit.

Bipolar Position

Can someone scream persecution and cuddle with their persecutor?
From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

A bill that combines proposals by the Fletcher administration and Attorney General Greg Stumbo to fight the use of illegal drugs was approved 37-0 by by the Senate today. Senate Bill 88 is intended to combat illegal online orders of prescription drugs by requiring an in-person exam by a medical professional.

Currently, a patient can order prescription drugs by answering medical questions online or by phone. Stumbo said another key part of the bill would make it a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison, for others besides pharmacists to be involved in an illegal shipment of prescription drugs. He said the provision will help prosecute brokers of illegal online drug purchases.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, also would make it possible to track purchases of pseudoephedrine — the main ingredient in methamphetamine — through an online link of all 12,000 pharmacies in the state. SB 88 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then later in the day by the full Senate. It now goes to the House.
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