Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pardon Who?

I just finished calling the Attorney General's office*, and I urge all of you to do the same. Fletcher has chosen to give a blanket pardon to any and all of his aides for their involvement in the hiring irregularities. In my opinion, the governor has gotten the cart before the horse on this one. His pardons make every accused wrongdoer look guilty. Perhaps they are guilty. The major Republican response to improper hiring by the Governor's office has been to spout the childish argument that "The Democrats did it too."

It is a tired argument. Every Kentuckian knows that the mess in Frankfort is pervasive. Fletcher ran on a platform largely of being the man to bring honesty and integrity back into state government in the wake of Paul Patton's pardons of Democratic Aides. Kentucky elected him because of Patton's corruption. Now we must hold him accountable for his actions.

He has the right to pardon any aide. However, it is time for the Attorney General to recall all those who have been pardoned and let them testify again. With blanket immunity, they cannot take the 5th. They are in no danger and therefore compelled to tell the truth, the whole truth, about what our governor orchestrated and how deep the corruption runs. We should know who was involved and we should hold Fletcher personally responsible. After all, the Republican Governor represents the party that has made "Personal Responsibility" their theme. I, for one, cannot pardon the Governor for failing to accept the weight of that responsibility for himself and his staff.

* To contact the Attorney General, call 502-696-5300 and tell the operator that you want to leave a message for the attorney general.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Senator McConnell on Iraq

Our senior United States Senator Mitch McConnell spoke to voters in Pike County on Monday night. Despite the fact that support for the war in Iraq and for President Bush has been steadily eroding, Senator McConnell doesn’t waver in his opinion that the US is on the right track. He is aware that most American's don't agree with him, but does he care? McConnell views the war as "an important conflict being fought for the right reasons." According to the senator: "On the whole, it's been a very successful enterprise."

"Enterprise" is indeed the right word to apply to the reasons for and consequences of this ongoing war. The battle has been a major boon to oil interests and defense contractors. In the meantime, the war on terror has done more to recruit new terrorists than any previous action. We cannot continue to produce enemies faster than we can kill them. We cannot afford to throw a new generation of young people into a war fast becoming a repeat of Vietnam. Nor can we afford to have our national debt pushed to record highs, taking much-needed dollars away from programs that would truly make America stronger.

McConnell is right in saying that it all began on September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of September 11, a wounded nation placed faith in the government to protect and defend the citizenry. But our faith has been misplaced in trusting this government. The al Qaeda attack was rightly viewed as an act of war. But although the Sept. 11 commission reported in 2004 that it had found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, McConnell explicitly linked the war in Iraq to the terrorist attacks on America.

Although he admitted that weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq, McConnell insisted, "We know they used to have them - in fact, he [Saddam Hussein] used them on his own people."

McConnell, who has visited Afghanistan three times, and Iraq twice, said he has often heard soldiers complain that the media does not report all the good things they are doing, instead focusing on the more than 1,800 American soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens killed in the conflict.

"In 18 of the 22 provinces (in Iraq), life is much, much better," McConnell said. He also insisted that the accusations of abuse in Guantanamo Bay were inflated. He maintains that prisoners there are living more comfortably than American soldiers in war zones. According to McConnell America "is not involved in a systemic mistreatment of prisoners."

I would like to believe him. Unfortunately, the record of lies and misrepresentations the Washington establishment has built makes belief impossible. All I can do is remind others and myself that McConnell is the second ranking Republican in the senate and well known for his support of the party. His credibility is indelibly stained by their lies.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Fletcher "Blackberry Jam" Fiasco

Our Boy Gov keeps getting deeper in the so-called "Blackberry Jam." Among the "mistakes" Fletcher seems to have made is sending email messages over his Blackberry (hence the name for the jam he has gotten himself into). If your head is like mine and spinning from all the charges flying around Frankfort you might want to take a couple of aspirin while I spread this jam out a little more evenly.

Back when he was running for Governor, Ernie Fletcher told us he wanted to improve the working environment for state employees. The idealistic young candidate thought that once he finished improving things in Frankfort the merit system would work so smoothly that nobody would need a state employees union.

Wow! 2003 was a long time ago, wasn't it? Of course, he was just a naive candidate back then not the champion of justice, freedom, and the American way he has blossomed into since attaining office...Oh wait! I am confusing him with Superman. Maybe it is the secret entrance that he put into the governor's office so he could dash around doing his good work undetected that confused me.

At least he is right about one thing. This is turning into a sad story. The Gov is drowning in boiling blackberry jam as indictments drop into the pot. Dan Duren, the Transportation Cabinet's commissioner for administrative services was charged on July 19 for "witness tampering." This added a felony charge to the 13 misdemeanor counts of political discrimination, criminal conspiracy and official misconduct related to the abuses in hiring. Duren, Sec. Bill Nighbert and deputy Sec. Jim Adams were the first to face misdemeanor counts. July 19 added arraignments for, State Republican Chairman Darrell Brock, Jr., and Basil Turbyfill, the Governor's personal advisor.

Meanwhile, Larry Forgy spent July 19 trying and failing to get Judge Joseph Hood to stop Attorney General Greg Stumbo's inquiry into the Fletcher administrations hiring practices. Forgy claimed that Stumbo's investigation had a "chilling effect" on his ability to make job recommendations to the administration. Gee, imagine a little thing like indictments slowing down efforts to get your pals a job. I don't know about you but I have to wonder what he was putting into those letters of recommendation he was writing.

On July 21, the gov sunk a little further into the goo when he first admitted that he had indeed "forced" the resignation of Keith Hall, Kentucky's director of homeland security. That was followed up with an admission that he would "consider" pardoning cronies who were convicted in this mess.

My headache is coming back and I didn't even get into the charges and counter charges flying at the July 15 meeting of the state Personnel Board. For the sake of not writing all day let me just say it was ugly and you can read a very good account in the Herald Leader including the emails that gave the name to our state fiasco. For a governor who rode into office on the white horse of reform Fletcher has managed to turn it and his future a dirty purple as blackberry stains keep spreading.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"My God, what have we done?"

Today, while our country is discussing the right and wrong of foreign policy in wartime, the shocked utterance of American bomber co-pilot, Capt. Robert Lewis should ring loud and clear in our minds. Lewis, from the cockpit of the Enola Gay, watched the cloud rising from a bomb his crew had dropped on Hiroshima and cried, "My God, what have we done?"

Can "WE" as a nation, as human beings, ever be allowed to forget what we have done? In an hour, over 100,000 people died, including twenty-three American prisoners of war. Twenty-two died from the bomb, the unfortunate survivor of the explosion was dragged from the prison and slaughtered because he was one of "US." In a short time, most of those who joined slaughter of that lone soldier, venting their rage against America, died of radiation poisoning. Before the radiation passed another 100,000 had died.

We cannot forget, nor can we allow the world to forget, what happened on Aug. 6, 1945. We cannot forget that others were working on building the same kind of bombs. We cannot forget that they succeeded in building and testing weapons more terrible than the one we used. Most of all, we cannot ignore that fact that one day someone may unleash one of these on us as we did on the Japanese. The Cold War, the nuclear weapons, the fear of a generation were born in an act of war so devastating that the entire Earth is endangered.

We citizens of the last Superpower live in the shadow of Hiroshima. A shadow cast by the knowledge that "what we have done" is blot out the sun and rain blackness upon the world. The mushroom cloud has not passed. It hovers above us every time another "weapon of mass destruction" is created. It lingers in our consciousness so near the surface that our leaders can use our fear to drag us into new wars by claiming someone might use "weapons of mass destruction" against us. Our fear of ourselves has become the cornerstone of how we approach others. While we cannot lift the shadow of the bomb from our collective consciousness, we can, and must, lift the level of our actions out of the mushroom cloud of fear. We can stop creating new rage against America, but only if we look at our flaws as carefully as we look at those we see others.