Tuesday, March 20, 2007

RINO & Blue Blooded Weekend?

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will attend the Kentucky Derby and visit Lexington-area horse farms during the weekend of May 5, according to The Sunday Times of London.
Perhaps Queen Anne and Queen Elizabeth can jointly attend the Derby.

Answering Insipid Questions

From Blue Grass, Red State:

The ad could win an Oscar for Best 60 Second Film, but it's a pretty weak political ad. The very fact that Fletch is even running an ad right now is a sign that he is in serious trouble.

1) Do you think Fletch would put ads up without running polls to determine if the ads were necessary?

Politics is polls. Plans are not enacted sans justification.

2) Do you think Fletch would put ads up without running polls to determine which media markets were the most vital to hit at this time?

See my first response.

3) If Fletch ran internal polls and the results indicated that Fletch was in a great position, as some "conservative" bloggers would have us believe, why wouldn't Fletch tell everybody about the great poll results? Good poll numbers for Fletch simply do not exist, and they will not ever again, unless he decides to run for re-election eight years from now, which is his best bet for getting re-elected.

Leaking internals screams desperation. No politician leaks internals. Oh wait, Anne Northup leaked hers.

'The system failed this little girl'

Where is our Governor’s outrage? Why is he not demanding answers?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

There were plenty of chances to save blond, 10-year-old Michaela Watkins. Grieving relatives said yesterday that social workers and police had visited the home to investigate complaints against her father and stepmother, Patrick and Joy Watkins, now charged with criminal abuse in her death.

They and an advocate for Kentucky children say the Watkinses should never have gotten custody of Michaela to begin with. Michaela was found dead at her Winchester apartment Sunday afternoon. Witnesses told police that she had been dead for at least 45 minutes before emergency workers were called, court records show. "The system failed this little girl," said Michaela's grandmother by marriage, Audrey Stokley, who said she had complained to social workers about Patrick Watkins. "They should have checked closer to see what we were talking about instead of saying, 'Well, it's fine.'"

Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials said yesterday they are launching an internal investigation into the case, as is customary when a child dies while being monitored by state social workers. The Cabinet decides case by case whether to release details about what led up to a child's death. But Cabinet Undersecretary Tom Emberton Jr. said he would not release details about the cabinet's contact with Michaela because of the police investigation and in an effort to protect the confidentiality of her three siblings, who have been removed from the home.

Governor’s Lead… Don’t They?

This story is tragic. Immediately, Governor Fletcher should showcase leadership. He should become involved.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The bidding for the black pony started at $500, then took a nosedive. There were no takers at $300, $200, even $100. With a high bid of just $75, the auctioneer gave the seller the choice of taking the animal off the auction block. But the seller said no. "I can't feed a horse," the man said. "I can't even feed myself."

Kentucky, the horse capital of the world, famous for its sleek thoroughbreds, is being overrun with thousands of horses no one wants - some of them perfectly healthy, but many of them starving, broken-down nags. Other parts of the country are overwhelmed, too. The reason: growing opposition in the U.S. to the slaughter of horses for human consumption overseas. With new laws making it difficult to send horses off to the slaughterhouse when they are no longer suitable for racing or work, auction houses are glutted with horses they can barely sell, and rescue organizations have run out of room.

Some owners who cannot get rid of their horses are letting them starve; others are turning them loose in the countryside. Some people who live near the strip mines in the mountains of impoverished eastern Kentucky say that while horses have long been left to roam free there, the number now may be in the thousands, and they are seeing herds three times bigger than they did just five years ago. "There's horses over there that's lame, that's blind," said Doug Kidd, who owns 30 horses in Lackey, Ky. "They're taking them over there for a graveyard because they have nowhere to move them."

It is legal in all states for owners to shoot their unwanted horses, and some Web sites offer instructions on doing it with little pain. But some horse owners do not have the stomach for that. At the same time, it can cost as much as $150 for a veterinarian to put a horse down. And disposing of the carcass can be costly, too. Some counties in Kentucky, relying on a mix of private and public funding, will pick up and dispose of a dead horse for a nominal fee.

The cost is much higher other places, and many places ban the burying of horses altogether because of pollution fears. Sending horses off to the glue factory is not an option anymore. Adhesives are mostly synthetic formulations nowadays, according to Lawrence Sloan, president of the Adhesive and Sealant Council. And because of public opposition, horse meat is no longer turned into dog food either, said Chris Heyde of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.

Eventually, anti-slaughter groups insist, the market will sort itself out, and owners will breed their horses less often, meaning fewer unwanted horses. Nelson Francis, who raises gaited horses, a rare, brawny breed found in the Appalachian mountains, said the prices they command are getting so low, he might have to turn some loose. He houses about 57 of them, double his typical number. "I can't absorb the price," Francis said. "You try to hang on until the price changes, but it looks like it's not going to change. ... What do I do? I've got good quality horses I can't market because of the has-been horse."

"Kill buyers" used to pay pennies a pound for unwanted horses, then pack them into crowded trucks bound for slaughterhouses that would ship the horse meat to Europe and Asia.

However, public opposition to the eating of horse meat has caused the number of horses slaughtered each year by American companies to drop from over 300,000 in 1990 to around 90,000 in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only one U.S. slaughterhouse - in Illinois - still butchers horses for human consumption.

"What do you do with them all?" said Lori Neagle, executive director of the new Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Lexington. "What do you do with 90,000 head of horses? That's something that has to be addressed. It'll be interesting to see if people financially can do the right thing or if they will leave their horses to starve."

Federal law prohibits the use of double-decker trucks for transporting horses to slaughter. Many members of Congress have also been pushing a national ban on the butchering of horses for human consumption.

While California is the only state that has expressly banned horse slaughter, in a 1989 ballot initiative, similar measures are under consideration elsewhere, including Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Illinois. Connecticut has made it illegal to sell horse meat in public places, and many states have tightened up the labeling and transportation requirements governing horses bound for slaughter. A federal court ruled recently that Texas must start to enforce its long-ignored 1949 ban on the transportation and possession of horse meat. That put a stop to horse slaughter at the two slaughterhouses in Texas that engaged in the practice. While the market price for horses has plummeted, the cost of food, lodging and veterinary care has not.

Kathy Schwartz, director of Lisbon, Md.-based Days End Farm Horse Rescue, which adopts abused and neglected horses, said that rescue operations that choose not to euthanize horses are generally full. "We had one horse we brought in that was a rack of bones - in pain both from starvation and parasite infestation and injury," Schwartz said. "His owner thought life was better than going to slaughter. Well, life is - if you're going to feed it and take care of it."

Lobbyist Ban… Where’s the Screaming?

Lobbyist contributions forbidden? Two questions… Why was this not existing law? Anyone doubt Fletcher and Northup were screaming when ruling occurred?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The three gubernatorial slates that contain state legislators may be at a disadvantage in raising campaign funds, due to a ruling today from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The panel unanimously voted that lobbyists cannot contribute to a gubernatorial slate that contains a legislator. The action was a response to a question to the commission on whether a non-legislative member of a gubernatorial slate can request a lobbyist to contribute to the campaign. The panel did not make public who raised the question. George Troutman, chairman of the commission, said a slate that disagrees with the panel's ruling could take the issue to Franklin Circuit Court. He said any affected slate that already has received money from a lobbyist would have to return it.

Three legislators are running on gubernatorial slates this year. House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, is running as lieutenant governor candidate with former U.S. Rep.Anne Northup, Democratic House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green is a candidate for governor and Sen. Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard is the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear. Rep. David Osborne, a Republican from Oldham County, has proposed a measure in this year's legislative session that would allow legislators running for office to accept contributions from lobbyists as well as another proposal that would ban all candidates from taking lobbyists' money. He suggested that provision as an amendment to a Senate campaign finance bill that has been stalled in the House.

Osborne, who is backing Northup and Hoover's ticket against Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Paducah businessman Billy Harper, said he hasn't spoken to any of the lawmakers running for state office about his proposals. Currently, legislators are barred from taking campaign contributions from lobbyists who are paid to urge lawmakers to pass or oppose certain proposals. That means even state legislators who are running for another state office, such as governor, attorney general or treasurer, cannot take checks from lobbyists. But their opponents who aren't legislators can. The ethics ruling today means the law also applies to the slate.

All Hail Octavius Northup

Brutus abhorred Caesar. Brutus and conspirators murdered Caesar. Brutus did not assume leadership. Caesar’s inexperienced nephew Octavious ascended and ruled Rome.
Steve Pence betrayed Ernie Fletcher. Pence endorsed Anne Northup. Pence desires Northup as Governor. Those who forget history….

Greatest Headline Ever

Fletcher's first ad seeks sympathy
Ryan Alessi: Lexington Herald-Leader
The first TV commercial for Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election bid compares the governor's handling of political problems to a boy who ignores bullies in the school yard. The 60-second spot, called "Stride," begins airing today statewide on cable and on network TV affiliates in Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green. The total cost of the commercials, which are twice as long as the standard campaign spots, is $450,000, said Fletcher's campaign manager, Marty Ryall.

A New Ad For Victory?

Governor Fletcher’s ad was pathetic. However, the ad was hardly Michael Dukakis. Concerning Cyber Hillbilly. Try making your point in paragraph one, as opposed to paragraph five.

From Cyber Hillbilly:

The great Florentine political philosopher Machiavelli once said "it’s better to be feared than loved." In recent years, the lesson in that admonition has been heeded by Kentucky’s most successful politicians. David Williams is called "King David."

And while the media doesn’t mean it as a compliment, he’s the most successful and the toughest operator in Kentucky legislative politics in decades. Senator Mitch McConnell is occasionally called the "Darth Vader" of Kentucky politics. But the only Republicans silly enough to criticize his stellar accomplishments are those who, politically speaking, have little or no future. Then there’s Paul Patton. Folks today laugh about the "Love Gov."

But they forget that this strong leader took on Greg Stumbo twice, both times over issues of overriding importance. Both times powerful special interests were arrayed on Stumbo’s side. Yet Patton managed to defeat him each time. The current Governor would-- likely begrudgingly—have to admit that besting the Gentleman from Floyd is no easy task. You’d think that Governor Fletcher’s reelection team would be mindful of these lessons. But the only lesson the Governor seems to be heeding is another one from Paul Patton; and this one decidedly negative.

For a while, Paul Patton was regarded as one of the toughest and meanest operators in Frankfort. Then, following his tearful breakdown on statewide news, he became the laughingstock of the Commonwealth and the butt of late night comedians’ jokes. In point of fact, when he was tough as nails, he was at the pinnacle of power; once he became a laughingstock, he was finished. That’s what’s so difficult to understand about the most recent Fletcher ad.

Making your candidate look like the smartest kid in the room and someone who refuses to fight back against his hectoring opponents is not necessarily a message that will resonate among Kentuckians; particularly those on the right. More importantly, it flies in the face of what Kentucky voters have come to expect of their political leaders. Brains are important, no doubt… but so is political brawn.

Biting Legislation

Pension, spending bills may die

The House and Senate adjourned last night without resolving their differences over a state pension bailout and spending proposals. Yesterday was the last scheduled day of the session for passing bills, though lawmakers will return for two days later this month to consider any measures that Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoes.

We elected them. Apparently, decision skills are not required.

Horse Park projects stall

The House and Senate deadlocked last night over proposed changes to the state budget and state retirement systems, leaving any resolution until they reconvene March 26 for two final days of work. Major money matters left hanging were $38 million for improvements at the Kentucky Horse Park, $9 million to relocate a runway at Blue Grass Airport and $25 million, if needed, for south-central Kentucky communities dealing with the repair of a leaky Wolf Creek Dam.

Once again, decision skills optional.

Measure sent to governor ‘very strong,’ sponsor says

A toughened mine-safety bill designed to stave off incidents like the May explosion that killed five Harlan County miners won unanimous legislative approval yesterday and will soon become law.

Very strong measure? Excellent. Our Governor is very weak.

Fletcher hasn't decided on horse sales bill

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has not decided whether to sign a bill aimed at heightening integrity in horse sales, his spokeswoman said today. House Bill 367, sent to Fletcher by the legislature on Monday, amends a law created last year that requires an agent representing both a buyer and a seller to disclose the position before many sales.

Obviously, Fletcher would have qualms concerning raising integrity.

Ky. House blocks pro-private measure

The long-running sports controversy between public and private high schools has landed in the Kentucky state legislature, with the public schools winning a round. Last night the House of Representatives rejected a measure aimed at heading off the public schools' latest attempt to address what they see as private schools' unfair advantage in sports.

Private schools can recruit. Public schools cannot. Why would this produce an advantage?
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