Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Like compromising with a grizzly bear

Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean's political organization is trying to sneak socialized medicine through in America by offering to allow American "the freedom to choose" between their private plan and a government plan like Medicare.

Don't take the bait. This will look great until the expanded Medicare program figures out that covering the only sickest people is too expensive. When the government program gets a politically unstoppable constituency built up, they will come after everyone else.

Obamanation pays its taxes

The Tax Foundation has out a new report showing that, if you count the projected budget deficit, Americans will spend more time working to pay taxes than ever before.

Tax Freedom Day is May 29.

By the way, Tax Freedom Day without the deficit is April 13. This is earlier than last year because incomes -- and tax receipts -- are down. That does us no good, of course, because spending keeps going up.

Kentucky's Tax Freedom Day is this Friday, April 3. It's also earlier than last year. It also doesn't help anything.

Lowering dependency on government isn't on the agenda, but that would help a lot.

Picking two points and hammering them home

The Kentucky Club for Growth's Andy Hightower has a great way of putting things:
"It's the most irresponsible thing our leadership regularly practices, and it's apparently killing people."
He's talking about, of course, the $30 billion public employee benefits disaster in Frankfort. There are really two points that matter in this discussion: that benefits are too high for government employees and that even that would be okay if we had properly funded them for the last few decades.

Andy jumps all over both of them right here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kentucky American Water still running strong

If former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac had her way in taking over Lexington's private water company, the April 7 Public Service Commission rate hearing at Bryan Station High School wouldn't be scheduled.

Instead, the city would ram through any rate increase it wanted in addition to making interest payments it couldn't afford to buy the company.

Kentucky American had requested an $18.5 million annual rate increase. Instead, they are now applying for a $10.3 million increase.

McConnell sounding more like Bunning

Sen. Mitch McConnell had this to say today about the continuing bailout mess:

"In spite of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars and many promises to reform the way they do business, it’s clear that management, unions and investors have not yet produced viable plans that would allow the companies to survive without massive infusions of taxpayer dollars. This is a disappointment: How many times do the taxpayers have to provide bailout money on the promise of reform?"
"We are now told these two companies are getting their last check from the taxpayers, and that if they don't finally come up with truly viable plans then they'll be forced into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, we've heard this before, from both this and the previous administrations."

Paper gears up for April Fool's Day Massacre

Two days before Kentucky's cigarette taxes go up, the Lexington Herald Leader just had to send a reporter out to learn the obvious about people changing their buying behaviors ahead of the April 1 increase.

Of course, they didn't manage to find anyone who will be shipping cigarettes in from Missouri. They darn sure didn't talk to any taxpayers who are concerned that these increases won't be enough and that something other than just more tax increases, more reckless borrowing, and more pension raids might help.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Will David Williams betray us again?

Last fall when the Louisville Courier Journal ran a news story about how the Senate was warming to the idea of raising taxes, it was pretty easy to be skeptical. After all, Sen. David Williams and the Republican majority had spoken clearly about their opposition.

We all know how that worked out.

So, when the CJ reported on Sunday -- without quoting anyone -- that legislators are coming around to House Speaker Greg Stumbo's side on expanding government with casino gambling, it was tough not to imagine that Williams is going squishy again.

In fact, I'd almost bet on it.

Conway not so hot on Mongiardo

Lieutenant Dan Goes to Washington?
By Leland Conway
So Lieutenant Dan (Lt. Governor, Dr. Daniel Mongiardo) wants to become the Jr. Senator from Kentucky? Let’s examine this proposal for a moment.

Lieutenant Dan was one of the first major Kentucky politicians to endorse President Obama who lost the state of Kentucky by a nearly 20 point margin in the presidential election. Contrary to left wing media fabrications, Obama did not lose Kentucky because we are racist, but because we were smart enough to recognize that the platform upon which Obama ran was dangerous to our economic future and contradictory to our system of values.

When Governor Steve Beshear endorsed Lieutenant Dan for Senate last week, he said that Mongiardo’s priorities "mirror the priorities being articulated by the Obama administration at this defining hour for our country." The implications of this statement are staggering.
First and foremost there is the economy. President Barack Obama’s economic policies, which include cap and trade will do nothing less than obliterate the Kentucky economy. Our state gets over 70% of its energy from coal. We’re not a very business friendly state, which the current governor has done nothing to fix, but one of the few advantages we still have over lower taxing neighbor states is cheap energy. Coal produced energy is also one of our largest exports. Many of the liberals from western states who condemn us for our use of “dirty coal”, actually enjoy the fruits of our labor.

President Obama plans to introduce cap and trade legislation to save the planet from mythical global warming. Actually, this is the largest wealth confiscation in global history. Obama is on the record as saying that “energy prices will skyrocket.” His Vice President Joe Biden has said, “There’s no such thing as clean coal” and “No more coal fired plants in America…build them in China if they want to build them.” What does this say about the Kentucky economy? Prepare to be laid waste to.

Another important issue to Kentuckians is values. Obama not only supported, but fought for legislation in the Illinois State House that would terminate the lives of babies who survived abortion procedures. Maybe that’s ok in Chicago, but In Kentucky we consider life to be pretty important. Religious arguments aside, Life is an American value. That’s why the founding fathers listed it first when they said we all had the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Kentuckians are also a member of that now infamous group that President Obama said “clings to our guns and our God…” As a member of this group, I am not ashamed. But Obama has displayed his antagonism toward gun owners clearly. While saying on the campaign trail that he favors the second amendment for “hunting purposes” he has also been a stalwart supporter of anti-gun legislation throughout his entire political career.

People in the main stream media are catching on to Barack Obama now. One Main Stream report pointed out that he has broken no less than fourteen major campaign promises in the two months since taking office.

These reports are wrong. He’s not breaking promises, he’s keeping them. Only the promises he’s keeping are the ones he made to his more radical left wing supporters long before he became known to the rest of America. What we are seeing now is the real character of the left wing extremist who we’ve elected to “change America.”

With that in mind, and given that Lieutenant Dan would “mirror the priorities being articulated by the Obama administration...” we must ask if it is possible then for him to truly mirror the priorities of his constituents?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Next up: Madison County Tea Party

The Bluegrass Institute is helping put together a Tea Party in Richmond on Saturday, April 11 from 4 pm to 6 pm in front of Wallingford Broadcasting at 128 Big Hill Avenue.

Friday, March 27, 2009

They don't want you to know about health freedom

A Lexington attorney representing plaintiffs seeking only to opt out of the federal Medicare program is getting more national attention online as his case heats up:
"Why, though, would someone choose to forgo health coverage for which one has already paid? Opting out of Medicare may be legal, but is it smart? Mr Brown explained that there are many reasons why someone might choose to decline it, including the desire to make one's own health care decisions without government intervention. Folks see what's happening in England, for example, and want no part of that."

Kent Masterson Brown got a lot of attention locally as a speaker at the Kentucky Tea Party.

You may have read about this case first last fall in the Bluegrass Policy Blog, but the state's two largest newspapers have slept through the story.

Obama kiss of death smooches Mongiardo

Gov. Steve Beshear endorsed Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo's candidacy for U.S. Senate Friday afternoon, saying that Mongiardo's priorities "mirror the priorities being articulated by the Obama administration at this defining hour for our country."

That should go over well here, Governor.

Bush killed Nessie!

Some guy on ABC's Good Morning America just suggested that global warming killed the Loch Ness Monster.

Yeah, I thought that would do it.

If only we had passed an economy-killing environmental tax years earlier, Nessie would surely still be alive.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bunning: Audit the Federal Reserve

Sen. Jim Bunning joined Sen. Russ Feingold and Sen. Bernie Sanders in sponsoring a budget amendment to force an audit of the Federal Reserve. The amendment would also require the Fed to say who it lends money to:
"The Federal Reserve has been printing money that the United States government doesn’t have the backing for and handing it out to banks with no accountability to the American taxpayers. I have asked the Fed repeatedly to disclose who is benefitting from all this printed money, but have yet to receive an answer."

Broke, stoned, and moving to Kentucky?

West Virginia is considering drug testing welfare recipients.

Kentucky's previous efforts to do the same have failed in the House of Representatives.

Republicans and, oh, just all the facts

The Herald Leader and Courier Journal have been wailing for weeks on their news and editorial pages about the successful effort to end CATS testing, so it is no surprise to see them continue that today as Gov. Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 1 into law.

But it is disappointing to see the many problems with CATS that have been repeatedly and thoroughly documented by the Bluegrass Institute for several years dismissed by reporter Beth Musgrave like this:
No doubt that as the Kentucky mainstream media rolls out continued coverage of this story they will quote heavily education bureaucrats and people like the Prichard Committee who have making up excuses (and worse) for CATS non-stop over the years.

A newspaperman ponders economics

Alan Mutter, former editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, doesn't see the need to go along with Sen. Benjamin Cardin's (D-MD) plan to convert newspapers to non-profit status:
"While it was a nice gesture for the Democrat from Maryland to suggest a Newspaper Revitalization Act to enable non-profit ownership, he might as well try to repeal the laws of economics or gravity, instead. Regardless of whether a paper is owned by a non-profit organization or an unreconstructed capitalist, it has to take in more money than it spends – or it will perish. The form of ownership doesn’t change this fundamental truth."

Okay. Now that we have established that, can we somehow get past this silly idea that newspapers are the very glue holding our free society together?

Maybe then we can have a serious discussion about ending the practice of forcing taxpayers in Kentucky to fund newspapers here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good week for blogs, bad one for MSM

A day after bloggers clobbered the Lexington Herald Leader for trying to ignore the Kentucky Tea Party, little known Member of Parliament Daniel Hannan has the most watched video on YouTube.

For the uninitiated, that is a very big deal.
"How did it happen, in the absence of any media coverage? The answer is that political reporters no longer get to decide what’s news."

It's worth a few minutes to learn more about this tipping point. Read it here.

Is he a Blue Dog or an Obama Puppy?

Congressman Ben Chandler's silence about President Barack Obama's $3.6 trillion budget speaks volumes even though he has not made his position clear.

Put down the Kool-Aid, Congressman. Maybe it's time for someone to send him some tea.

Some needed perspective on CATS

The Louisville Courier Journal editorial board has never bothered to address the many problems with Kentucky's CATS school testing, mercifully laid to rest this spring. They were too busy calling teachers "lazy" and dreaming up more ways to slap at the Bluegrass Institute without actually printing the name.

Here's their latest from Wednesday's editorial page:
"That's more than one can say for the odd alliance of (1) Republicans who have opposed the Kentucky Education Reform Act since its passage; (2) reflexive right-wing opponents of public schools, and (3) teacher groups that find KERA too demanding."

Their latest approach is to complain about the three year period in which Kentucky transitions from inflated, discredited CATS testing to a something (anything) better.

Fortunately, Bluegrass Institute's education analyst Richard Innes explains why the three years is probably a good idea:
"Right now, relying on our teachers to carry the ball for a short period of time seems like a much better path to take than following the outdated and misguided CATS path for another three years. Apparently, our legislators agree, because they overwhelmingly passed the bill to revise our assessment program in both houses despite the tantrums a few are throwing in the print media."

Innes' four page report is available here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A case study in common sense

A Kentucky Department of Insurance press release described the circumstances behind a guilty plea for insurance fraud. Seems a 70 year old woman hit another car with her car, left the scene, and then reported in her insurance claim that she hit a concrete post.

In Barack Obama-land, her auto insurer would be forced to keep her and would be prohibited from increasing her premiums.

Next time should be different

News consumer backlash against very limited mainstream media coverage of the Kentucky Tea Party may have gotten the attention of some local journalists, if WKYT's report this evening on a "follow-up" event coming April 18 is any indication.

Will anyone really believe this?

In his Tuesday night press conference opening remarks, President Barack Obama will say the following:
"At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It’s with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest."

"That’s what clean energy jobs and businesses will do. That’s what a highly-skilled workforce will do. That’s what an efficient health care system that controls costs and entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid will do. That’s why this budget is inseparable from this recovery – because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity."

What do you think about that?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hidden microphone at jail still works

Fayette jail Director Ron Bishop is trying desperately to fire Cpl. Marla Gaines before the FBI frog-marches her out of the facility in front of the tv cameras.

Will he get her out on time? Inquiring minds also want to know if she will be defended by the Communications Workers of America or Mary Sharp at the Fraternal Order of Police.

Herald Leader's bad, bad day

I'm not about to celebrate the dozens of firings today at the Lexington Herald Leader. Those are real people who had nothing to do with their parent company borrowing itself into oblivion, but they were forced to pay the price anyway.

But the paper deserves all kinds of scorn for ignoring the Kentucky Tea Party on Saturday. And they deserve all kinds of ridicule for writing the story two days late.

And columnist Tom Eblen's Facebook status is worth a look:


You've been heard

Kentuckians who called The Lexington Herald Leader to complain about the lack of coverage of the Kentucky Tea Party over the weekend got action this afternoon when the paper posted a story online by reporter Jack Brammer titled "Tea Party protest draws big crowd in Lexington."

The story mentions Bluegrass Institute's "Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day" coming up on April 18 at Applebee's Park in Lexington from 11 am to 2 pm. For details on that event, contact Kelly Smith at ksmith@freedomkentucky.com.

Beshear promotes socialized medicine pals

President Barack Obama, Rep. Ben Chandler, and Rep. John Yarmuth teamed up in February to expand government health insurance liabilities.

Today, Gov. Steve Beshear has teamed up with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation for "Cover the uninsured week."

"In light of the recent economic downturn, it is more critical than ever that families are enrolled (in government health plans)," said Gov. Beshear.

Kentucky Kernel shows up when HL sleeps

Thanks to University of Kentucky student reporter Sean Patterson for his effort to cover Saturday's Kentucky Tea Party:

"David Adams, a writer for the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions and the master of ceremonies at the rally, said he didn’t think President Obama’s spending has been different from his predecessor’s."

""That’s where this movement is different," Adams said. “George Bush did the same thing to us for eight years. This goes way beyond Democrat and Republican.""

You can read the rest of the story by clicking here. And for the record, Sean asked me how many people I thought were there and I told him I didn't have any idea. It was a big crowd full of highly energized people and terrific speakers.

Update: I'm told that reader complaints to the Lexington Herald Leader about their lack of coverage have been coming in pretty fast all day. The official response seems to be something along the lines of either not knowing that the event was happening or that they are working on a larger story about the movement after there have been a few events.

The response from lefty blogs has been, essentially, that Ayn Rand wrote too many words.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Media still trying to ignore Kent Brown

Kentucky Tea Party participants have been discussing today how the Lexington Herald Leader could justify ignoring a nonpartisan political rally with over 1000 participants on an otherwise uneventful Saturday.

This reminded me of last October when the paper also ignored the filing of a lawsuit with national implications involving trillions of dollars and the freedoms of millions of Americans. The suit was filed by Lexington attorney Kent Masterson Brown, who was also a speaker at the Tea Party.

Curious about the lawsuit, filed by the same local man who beat back HillaryCare in the 1990's? That's what blogs are for: (Click here.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jim Bunning in Richmond

Sen. Jim Bunning delivered a wide-ranging speech to the Madison County GOP Lincoln Dinner Saturday evening.

He spoke about excessive borrowing and spending, monetary policy, energy, abortion, taxes, and gun rights.

It's worth noting that Bunning didn't read his speech as he has several others this year.

Very good move.

Tea Party #1

Thanks to all the people who made Saturday's event a very good one. Lots more to come!

We're not mad, yet

On my way to the Kentucky Tea Party in Lexington. Should be a fun event, but the key is that it is early in the game. We are just building up a head of steam for the road ahead.

Please, come join us. But if you can't today, don't worry. Straightening out our government is going to take a long time. We will be doing a lot more of these.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Herald Leader still mourning CATS

The Lexington Herald Leader's move to allow reader comments on articles has added an interesting element to their web site. I have been a fairly frequent commenter and posted the following after another editorial longing for the good old days when those who pointed out the waste of CATS testing couldn't get House Democrats to read the research.

Since the Herald Leader has shown a disturbing tendency to erase my comments lately, I thought I would snag this one while it is still online.

Erasing comments like this is, of course, considered very bad form for a blog.

Here is a link to the most comprehensive Bluegrass Institute report on CATS.

Dr. Rand Paul in Lexington

Dr. Rand Paul spoke in Lexington Thursday night about a possible run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. He repeated that he would become a candidate only if Sen. Jim Bunning does not run.

Based on his comments, Paul considers state Senate President David Williams to be his main opposition. Last month's tax increases and pension raid in Frankfort, therefore, would play a large role in that race.

"David Williams has just recently done something that I think is very wrong for Republicans to do," Paul said. "He's gone along with the Democrats in raising taxes. He basically accepts their argument that there is a shortfall."

Rand thoughtfully addressed a split in the Republican party between small government advocates and party leaders.

"A lot of us are new," Paul said. "Some of us are Libertarians, independent, Democratic, or just cynical and haven't voted in a long time. We're new to the party. If they don't want us, they will shrink. They are losing ground. They need us. So we need to convince them of that. But some of it is us, too. We have to convince them in a nice and friendly way. They were afraid we were going to take over. We weren't; we didn't have the numbers to do that. We still need to go, we need to be nice to these people, and shake their hands. But we do need to transcend what we were. We need to be bigger."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rocky Adkins: let me decide

Gov. Steve Beshear, as an outspoken advocate of expanding state government with the promise of casino revenues, supports putting the expanded gambling question on the ballot to merely "let the people decide."

So it was noteworthy recently in Paducah when Beshear said passing a nuclear energy bill wouldn't cause nuclear power plants to be built in Kentucky. He said passing the bill would only "allow us to begin to have the discussion" about nuclear energy.

House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, like Beshear, favors more communication about casinos, but, unlike Beshear, he objects to having "the discussion" about nuclear energy.

What could possibly account for Adkins' unwillingness to have a simple conversation with his fellow Kentuckians?

Caleb Smith has the latest on the nuclear debate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rand Paul in Lexington

Dr. Rand Paul says he will run for the U.S. Senate only if Sen. Jim Bunning does not. Nevertheless, he is campaigning enough to fuel speculation that he is up to something.

Paul will speak in Lexington Thursday night at The Inn on Broadway at 6:30 pm. He will also be a guest on the Leland Conway Show at 9:05 am on 630 WLAP AM or on the internet at wlap.com.

Media bias, laziness generate confusion

Lexington Herald Leader education reporter Jim Warren is at it again, taking dictation from Big Ed bureaucrats in a "news" story.

Today, it's Fayette Superintendent Stu Silberman and Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross trying to take control of the transition away from CATS and to a legitimate student testing program.

It's amazing Warren could write such a long story about "confusion" in the aftermath of CATS without talking to anyone who could shed some light.

I guess if he had, they would need to write a different headline.

The newspaper bailouts are coming

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should soon start hearings about "saving" the nation's newspapers. If a very thin study about democracy in northern Kentucky is any indication, the coming newspaper bailouts should be a very effective focal point for grassroots opponents of tax/bailout/stimulus policies.

Two Princeton University economists looked at a tiny amount of election data and news coverage of the tiny Kentucky Post and quickly -- and repeatedly -- concluded that the existence of newspapers reduces incumbent advantages, motivates citizens to run for office, and enhances voter turnout:

"News coverage potentially inuences election outcomes in many ways. By revealing incumbents' misdeeds or making it easier for challengers to get their message out, a newspaper may reduce incumbent advantage. Newspaper stories could also raise interest in politics, inspiring more people to vote or run for office."

"The Cincinnati Post was a relatively small newspaper, with circulation of only 27,000 when it closed. Nonetheless, its absence appears to have made local elections less competitive along several dimensions: incumbent advantage, voter turnout and the number of candidates for office."

Expect this study to get a lot more attention than it deserves in the march toward making you pay more for propaganda you already rejected.

As an alternative, we might consider spending less on welfare for newspapers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Education researcher not breathing easy yet

Conscientious teachers and education officials across Kentucky were relieved to see the long-awaited demise of discredited and wasteful CATS testing last week. Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes, however, urged caution Tuesday as we seek a new testing program.

"We need to insure the new assessments are more resistant to the sort of inflation-to-make-educators-look-good problems that ultimately undermined CATS' credibility," Innes said.

Innes remains skeptical of the Department of Education's desires to cover its own tracks and bend the rules.

"We found out in the past that the department is capable of going off on its own despite the provisions in law. The department dramatically proved that when it illegally dropped norm reference testing in elementary schools and when it consistently ignored a provision to create a longitudinal assessment to track student performance over time. That provision was in the 1998 legislation that created CATS, by the way. It’s a decade later, and it never happened," Innes said.

The rest of his comments are available here.

What will you add to Kentucky Tea Party?

The Kentucky Tea Party, presented by News Radio 630 WLAP, The Kentucky Club for Growth, The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions and ConservativeEdge.com, will be this Saturday, March 21 at noon, at the Fayette County Courthouse.

Leland Conway, host of the Pulse of Lexington, 9am-Noon, M-F on News Radio 630 WLAP said:
“Washington, Frankfort, Lexington government…they are all completely out of touch with the common citizen. Americans know intuitively that government expansion and increased spending is not the answer to our economic problems. The only money that government has is money it has taken from productive citizens. Well, we citizens are not in the mood to have any more of our money taken from us and we’re going to send that message on Saturday.”

David Adams of the Bluegrass Institute said:
"You can't just wait around for Kentucky taxpayers to realize too late that years of overspending and over borrowing practices have destroyed the state. We need a smaller, more efficient government that gets out of the business of deciding winners and losers and sticks to the Constitution. And we need that now."

Andy Hightower, Executive Director of the Kentucky Club for Growth spoke about the event:
“The Pursuit of Happiness is no longer regarded by our leadership as an inalienable right; instead they think it’s provided by government subsidy. It’s time to remind folks in Washington and Frankfort that national success follows from individual success, not government direction.”

A special feature of the Kentucky Tea Party will an open mic opportunity to make your opinion heard. Selected speakers will be featured on WLAP radio.

"Teresa Isaac? Never heard of her"

The Lexington Herald Leader continues its efforts this morning to keep Lexington politicians' feet out of the fire in the ongoing inmate beating scandal at the Lexington jail.

In a story about the 2005 death of inmate Gerald Cornett, reporter Michelle Ku talked to the wrong Lexington mayor.

Mayor Jim Newberry's spokeswoman's silence is interesting given her boss' official efforts to silence jail whistleblower Cpl. John Vest, but he wasn't even in office when these events took place.

His opponent in the upcoming 2010 election was.

When the federal investigation of inmate abuse at the Fayette County Detention Center became publicly known, Mayor Isaac famously quipped:

"I've reviewed the same records they've reviewed, there's absolutely nothing in there that would amount to a civil rights violation and I've been a civil rights attorney for 25 years so I think I would know."

If we want to get closer to the truth, we should make the 2010 election between these two about who has handled the jail mess worse. That would be an interesting discussion.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fighting back in Lexington

The Kentucky Progress blog is a proud sponsor of this Saturday's Kentucky Tea Party in Lexington. In the spirit of our brave forefathers who stood up to an unreasonable government to protect their freedoms, we will join together for one of what will be many such events until we generate change we can afford.

Please join us.

These things always happen in threes

Over the weekend I got a kick out of the Courier Journal referring to Bluegrass Institute as merely "right-wing think-tank" again. Then the Herald Leader struck with their "conservate enemies" bit.

This morning, though, I'm on the floor laughing at CJ columnist Joe Gerth pulling a complete quote off this site and hoping no one notices as he sources only "a conservative blog."

Stick with your "dare not speak their names" approach, guys. It's obviously working.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Herald Leader's sour grape whine

The Lexington Herald Leader's editorial board is even more upset than the Courier Journal was about the end of a disastrous episode in education "reform."

"As it stands, cynics can justifiably conclude that Beshear and House Democrats, under new Speaker Greg Stumbo, caved to the worst impulses of both the teachers union and conservative enemies of public schools."

Thanks for the big laugh and free mention for the Bluegrass Institute, guys!

I take it the Herald Leader would prefer corrupted, unusable testing data, relentless happy-talk from the Prichard Committee, and spin that the phony CATS testing was somehow better than any alternative. In fact, they said as much:

Getting off the CATS gravy train is hardly a three-year pass. Discontinuing a test that has become totally meaningless has no downside. Finding something worse would be a real chore. Choosing from among many options that allow specific, usable results to pinpoint how any teacher is performing and any student is learning provides an easy win for taxpayers, parents, and students.

Bad day for the bureaucracy, though. And the editorial writers who have sided with them for so long are just chapped that everyone who pays attention to this stuff knows they got their heads handed to them.

The Kentucky Department of Education bears close scrutiny in this transition phase, of course. Stay tuned. We'll be watching them.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fourth District Lincoln Dinner

Rumors that Sen. Jim Bunning would use this hometown event to drop out of his bid for re-election proved untrue.

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Senate President David Williams didn't come to Hebron tonight. There were really no fireworks.

Heard lots of applause for several mentions from the podium about the end of CATS testing and lots of grumbling in the crowd about Republicans caving in on tax increases.

Where is the Kentucky GOP going?

Six weeks ago, the Kentucky Republican Party was still about not raising taxes. Now that is over. So, what's next?

A discussion about the Georgia Republican Party may present a good starting point for Kentucky Republicans to try to do more than hang on to power for one politician:
"You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the dynamics in play throughout Georgia. The Republican Party, having only fully taken over the state four years ago, is already in a rut. Having failed to keep innovating and advancing a conservative agenda, they have become establishmentarians determined to hold on to the status quo, much as Georgia Democrats did before losing power."

Friday, March 13, 2009

About time for Beshear to change his tune

Good to see the legislature come around today and kill off the wasteful and counterproductive CATS testing program in Kentucky's public schools.

Even better to have Gov. Steve Beshear see the light:
"This legislation will create a new system for statewide accountability and assessment that will, for the first time, measure individual student progress over an extended period of time. That is critically important."
No kidding. We've been trying to tell him that for years.
Beshear should have stopped listening to the Kentucky Department of Education a long time ago.

I thought Obama was from Kenya

Looks like our daring Attorney General is on the case of an international, too good to be true money scam.

Now he tells us.

My only question: who even gets off the couch to collect a measly $2.5 million when President Barack Obama and friends are offering so much more?

More evidence of Kentucky spending problems

The Rockefeller Institute of Government compiled a list of state economic and and budget data showing Kentucky was one of only twelve states in the nation with increasing tax revenues in the last quarter of 2008.

We were also one of sixteen states with the worst job loss rates during the same period.

Big-government states Michigan and North Carolina were the only others at the top of these two lists. Perhaps if we worked on growing our state with policies that attract businesses interested in more than corporate welfare and worried less about growing government, we wouldn't be in quite the mess we are in.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The reason for all the tax protests

The Kentucky Tea Party will be Saturday March 21, at noon, at the Fayette County Courthouse.

If you want to know why this is necessary, you need only look to Thursday's words from President Barack Obama:
“I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it, or because I’m a glutton for punishment,” Obama said. “I’m doing so because they are fundamental to our economic growth and to ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future.”

If he really thinks going deeper into debt propping up discredited government policies and destructive business practices is the key to preventing "more crises," then it is critically important that Obama be stopped as soon as possible. Mass protests like The Kentucky Tea Party will help organize opposition and embolden citizens to step forward as solid candidates to get us back on a path to fiscal sanity.

Buzzing the Capitol with E-Health gimmick

I'm starting to think Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo's answer to any question is to force medical providers to post their records electronically. Unfortunately for us, President Barack Obama likes that plan. Or, at least, he wants to prop it up as an $80 billion a year downpayment on his universal healthcare system. (More about that here.)

Gov. Ernie Fletcher was skewered in the media when the plane he was flying in malfunctioned and scared the U.S. Capitol crowd gathered for Ronald Reagan's funeral. Mongiardo deserves at least as much grief for this:

Obama's plan to spend this promised $80 billion a year in illusory gains amounts to yet another tax increase we can't afford. Mongiardo may not be flying the plane, but he should have to give more substance than the current rhetoric before wasting more of our time and resources on his political ambitions.

Education Department still doesn't get it

Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes has been exposing the Kentucky Department of Education's data manipulation for years. His efforts have provided much of the muscle behind the effort to straighten out student testing.

Last night, he got them again. Good job, Mr. Innes!

Anyone really interested in making public education better in Kentucky would do very well to pay attention to Richard Innes.

UPDATE: Here's more on the bad education data.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who's the "mouthy drunk" now?

On October 20, 2000, Senate President David Williams called Governor Paul Patton a "mouthy drunk" after Patton quoted Williams saying "I want to build big roads. I want to build roads you can see from the moon." Further, the Associated Press said at the time Williams was telling voters in several Senate elections "to keep the Senate under Republican control to block Patton from reviving a gas-tax increase."

My, how times have changed.

Fresh off securing tax hikes last month on cigarettes and alcohol and performing a raid on the state employee health fund, Williams now apparently has a different view of the value of keeping the Senate in Republican hands. No word on what that is, though.

The Senate is expected to pass an increase in the gasoline tax tomorrow, just like Gov. Steve Beshear wants.

Here is another interesting Patton quote from the October 2000 story:

""David Williams' credibility is nonexistent," the governor said."
""He has deceived his own members. He has deceived me. He has deceived the people in his own district.... It is not honorable and our government cannot function
progressively as long as the Senate is led by an individual who won't do what he
says he'll do.""

At recent public appearances, Williams has been fueling speculation that he could be a candidate for U.S. Senate next year.

Because Kentucky isn't finished messing up

House Speaker Greg Stumbo wants to sneak in a budget committee meeting tomorrow about saving the state from its overspending ways with video lottery terminals.

“Given the rapidly declining state of our budget, and the fact that our signature horse industry is facing tough challenges from gaming in other states," Stumbo said," "I believe this option will only become more attractive in the months ahead. Tomorrow’s meeting will provide important information to the public.”

The committee meets Thursday at 10 am. It is clear that no one is going to shrink government down to an affordable level. We will, instead, bank on these half-baked ideas that never work.

Last chance to do something this session

The House Education Committee meets today at noon in Frankfort to take up improvements to the way Kentucky assesses its public schools' efforts.

After the many disappointments of this current General Assembly (here, here, here, here, and here are a few examples), doing something good on SB 1 would be a very pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Violence over government waste in Jersey?

As Kentuckians breath a sigh of relief from the quick death of a proposed secretive bureaucracy designed to "protect" us from government waste, New Jersey legislators are hyperventilating because they don't have one.

There is an ominous tone to this that is new:

The most panicked part of the story comes later with a Republican Assembly member predicting blood in the streets:

"The amount of pressure that's going to be put on you in leading this process is probably more than you've ever had in your life," Assemblyman Joseph R. Malone (R-Burlington) told Boxer. "The accountability and obligation -- that you have to ensure that these funds are properly being spent -- is going to be something that will be looked at every minute, every day for probably the rest of your career. I am very concerned that if we fail the people this time, there's going to be riots."

As the national Tea Party movement comes to Kentucky, small-government activists will have to be very sure not to give the big-government types an excuse to crack down on us.

A $646 billion (expletive deleted)

Sen. Jim Bunning got a lot of attention Tuesday morning for his choice of words, so some of his other comments escaped media notice.

Bunning also said President Barack Obama's massive $646 billion (Obama's estimate) cap-and-tax system doesn't have enough Democratic votes to pass Congress. He explained that most people realize imposing huge new taxes on everyone's energy use over the next decade would be bad for the economy.

That's (expletive deleted) good news!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Building a better Wiki

In case you haven't had enough revisionist history, you could try posting something critical about Pres. Barack Obama on Wikipedia and count the seconds until it is mysteriously removed.

Or if you are a Kentuckian who cares about preserving freedom, you will be a lot more satisfied reading and contributing information to the Freedom Kentucky wiki.

Bailing out bad Kentucky diets

One indication of what is wrong with Kentucky government comes from a Department for Public Health press release out today. Excerpted below, the release says the state employs "numerous nutrition and dietary professionals" who all, apparently, do pretty much the same thing:

So, if you are keeping score at home, we have a small army of nutrition and dietary professionals combined with increasing taxes to change dietary habits versus the moral hazard of a Medicaid program that is wide open for anyone who is poor enough.

Once again, the moral hazard wins.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Squeezing the wrong people

Gov. Steve Beshear and his friends at The Lexington Herald Leader have made a lot of noise the last few months about everything being "on the table" on the way the balancing our state's bloated, out-of-balance budget.

It has never been true.

They are still squawking about building the state's future one bogus diploma at a time, but can't see far enough to save commonsense dollars on prevailing wage repeal or by straightening out the MUNIS accounting system.

Sounds more like anything except raising taxes and clinging to the status quo is very much "off the table."

Here is the latest from the Herald Leader. What a waste...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

David Williams gets fliered up

The 5th district GOP Lincoln dinner was fairly uneventful until after the program ended. One attendee came to the press table with a flier which had been placed on the windshield of every car in the parking lot.

The article contained copies of two Lexington Herald Leader stories about tax increases in which Senate President David Williams expressed his desire to raise taxes and his confidence that the Senate would play along, regardless of the state of economy.

The headline on the flier read "David Williams Not Only Voted to Raise Your Taxes, He Led the Effort."

That's when the fun started.

Williams stood at the front door showing the flier to people leaving the event and was heard explaining to several of them that this was evidence of Jim Bunning's "desperation."

It has been a month since Williams and the Senate went along with the tax increases and the $50 million raid on the public employee health fund. He can't possibly be surprised that this is being used against him.

If you are upset now, Senator Williams, this is going to be a very difficult year for you.

Sen. Mitch McConnell speaks

Sen. Mitch McConnell spread the praise around lavishly tonight at the 5th District Lincoln Day Dinner. He lauded Rep. Hal Rogers as the longest-serving member of Congress in Kentucky's history.

"I think our Senate President David Williams has done a fabulous job," McConnell said.

Of Secretary of State Trey Grayson, he said "we're going to hear a lot from him in the future."

The closest he got to mentioning Sen. Jim Bunning came at the end of his speech when he said "both of our Senators are Republicans and we intend to keep it that way."

Rand Paul questions budget "shortfall"

(The following is a guest column from Dr. Rand Paul. I added some links.)

What Budget Shortfall?

When Republicans act like Democrats, who is the taxpayer to trust? Recently, Senate Republican President David Williams has agreed to go along with the Democrats and raise taxes.

Williams apparently drank the Democrat Koolaid and accepts their argument that Kentucky has a budget shortfall. One would think with all the years Williams has spent in Frankfort he would understand the gamesmanship involved in budget numbers.
Budget numbers are chewed, crunched and passed around according to each partisan’s political agenda. So, Governor Beshear and his fellow Democrats cry long and hard that we have a $456 million budget shortfall.

But do we really?

The government’s own statistics show that even in this recession this year’s tax receipts are exceeding last year’s receipts. So where do they get the so-called shortfall?

The Kentucky Budget is short only in “projected” revenue: what the politicians “want” to spend, their “proposed” budget. This year’s revenues continue to exceed last year’s revenue. Let me repeat. Kentucky has more money coming in this year than last. This fact cannot be overstated.

Yet, even if we had a shortfall, where is the opposition? Where is the voice that once called for spending reductions not tax increases? Where is the voice that argues that raising taxes, any taxes, in a recession is a mistake?

We need to have two parties in Kentucky. We need to hear opposing arguments. David William’s capitulation on the budget simply gives up the fight and shows that perhaps there is not that much difference between the political parties. Or that Senator Williams is perhaps carrying water for the wrong team.

Rand Paul
Kentucky Taxpayers United

Bunning speaks to 5th district

Sen. Jim Bunning warned a friendly crowd at the 5th district Republican Lincoln dinner that President Obama is trying to pay back the people who helped Democrats take control of the federal government by passing "card check" legislation.

Bunning said new debt in the "stimulus" and "bailout" plans won't help the economy and that he will continue to oppose those policies and promote lower taxes and smaller government.

Reporters from Lexington Herald Leader, Louisville Courier Journal, Associated Press, and CNHI News Service who came here for fireworks or gaffes didn't get much.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Kentucky tax protests almost ready

Dealing with the city of Lexington to set up tax protests has proven to be pretty cumbersome. Big shock, right?

Now it looks like we will have all the details hammered down on at least the March event by Monday. Stay tuned...

Who is Stumbo using now?

House Speaker Greg Stumbo was still selling the idea that the tax increases enacted last month are simply "user fees" at a news conference Friday.

What will he call the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority scheme the Kentucky Club for Growth uncovered? Check it out here.

These guys never stop.

The kiss of death for GOP candidates

The New York Times jumped on the bandwagon to criticize Sen. Jim Bunning today. But National Public Radio got to the heart of the matter regarding a potential GOP challenge from the left in a blog post:
"But is Williams the right guy to save the GOP? Williams was instrumental in working out a deal with Beshear to raise taxes, not the kind of thing that would attract conservatives to your cause. Right-wing chatter suggests that there's no way they would abandon Bunning for someone whose record on taxes was so questionable."

It should be pretty clear by now that efforts to move the Republican party leftward haven't done much for the country.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Will David Williams apologize?

Listeners to Leland Conway's radio show on WLAP 630 AM in Lexington know Senate President David Williams wants to make an appearance and that Leland put it to a vote on his web site.

Looks like the ball is in Williams' court. If he apologizes for raising taxes, listeners say, let him on the show.

Can anyone in the Senate President's office really be surprised that things are working out like this?

It's about time to ask members of our federal delegation if they support Williams' tax-raising and pension raiding efforts.

Kentucky tea partiers, unite!

Michelle Malkin reports the U.S. Senate stopped the progress of President Obama's $410 billion pork-laden spending bill tonight. Majority Leader Harry Reid fell one vote short of the 60 required to call a vote.

Here's Michelle's advice:
"The delay buys time not just for lawmakers, but for constituents to mobilize and make their voices heard."
"Tea Party people, activate! Time to melt the phones — not just of Republicans, but of those liberal and moderate Democrats on the fence."

At least two Kentucky tax protests are being planned. Should have details Friday. Stay tuned...

Trouble in bailout paradise?

Just as the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the $75 billion mortgage bailout today -- and no, you can't have any -- General Motors is admitting that their bailout didn't work and they need $30 billion more or they are done.

How surprised are we supposed to be when all those bailed out governors and mayors come back and beg for more?

Vanity alert

If you understand how Google rules the world, then you may think this is pretty cool:

Busy day today with several meetings but, thanks to Verizon Wireless, I'll be updating the blogs. If you're in Lexington tonight, come on by the Fayette County Republican Party HQ tonight at 7:00. I'll be there for the Young Republicans meeting.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Kentucky's beer-goggled tax hikers

The Kentucky General Assembly is soaking taxpayers so fast some legislators are making a mess of their voting records.

Andy Hightower at the Kentucky Club for Growth points out that eleven House members stood up to the booze tax increase but then turned around and caved on a technology tax hike.

"We can't really guess the motivation for this divide, except that one issue (beer) has a large lobby that organized beer trucks to drive around the Capitol and dump bourbon on the Capitol lawn, and the other (IT businesses) is just a collection of small businesses entrepreneurs that did not put on a show," Hightower said.

More here.

More useless and misleading government info

The Lexington Herald Leader and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) have teamed up to provide more useless and misleading government information in order to promote another one of their solutions. The following clip is from the paper's Bluegrass Politics blog:

The Bluegrass Institute has repeatedly blown the whistle on KDE's phony dropout rate numbers. That didn't stop the Herald Leader from repeating them here without attribution.

And what's this "can expect to earn a salary" stuff? The reporter is quoting here average salary figures. Thanks for the sloppy reporting. And the numbers are useless in making the case for or against the subject of the article, HB 189, which would force students to stay in high school until age 18.

Maybe this dumb idea will be more effective than Kentucky's no pass, no drive law, but I doubt it. In any event, making the case with junk numbers doesn't help anyone but those who make their living off keeping Kentuckians in the dark.

The Bluegrass Institute's education analyst Richard Innes has more here.

Following orders at Lexington jail

Fayette County jail Director Ron Bishop sent Assistant Director of Operations James Kammer to dig through federal whistleblower John Vest's training records yesterday.

It is unclear whether Bishop was looking for information for the upcoming criminal trial or his upcoming civil trial. Could be for a new criminal trial against Bishop that hasn't been initiated yet. More on that later.

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry has no comment.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Doesn't KY media care about solutions at all?

Kentucky's mainstream media has been mostly silent about the state's endless trail of wasteful economic development tax scams, pension raids, and union schemes. And they have made it easier for Frankfort politicians to ignore almost every kind of free market, small government solution to our most persistent problems.

But this is ridiculous.

A new group, Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, is promoting a commonsense prevailing wage exemption for school building projects and is being actively ignored by the pundits when the need for money-saving ideas couldn't be more clear.

Just watch: when the media can be bothered to respond at all to Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, they will focus on the organization's connections to the Gov. Ernie Fletcher Administration rather than engage anyone in a discussion of the issues.


Kudos, however, to Elephants in the Bluegrass and Kentucky Politics for telling the story.

Bubba Bailout advances

After making us endure their endless whining about needing more of our money, raising our taxes, and raiding the employee health fund, you might think Frankfort legislators would be almost finished ripping us off with their half-baked schemes.

Of course, you'd be wrong.

Gov. Steve Beshear should laugh less and do more explaining about why we need to give tens of millions of dollars to someone to build his business up in a way that he already said he was going to do on his own.

Do you really enjoy wasting our money that much, Governor?

Are we all Orwellian economists now?

I love that the Obama Administration has started this morning labeling high questionable press releases "FACT SHEET." (Click the image below to read it.)

Feel better yet?

Highlighted in this press release is the assertion that Spendulus "is expected to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year."

Of course, there will be no way to prove or disprove this unless several million of us will give Obama and Congress credit for "saving" our jobs.

What's really funny is that they used "the same economic model" to make up a number of road jobs created or "saved."

What a mess...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Possible Senate candidate coming to Lexington

Dr. Rand Paul, a Bowling Green physician and the son of Congressman Ron Paul, will speak about his possible campaign for U.S. Senate on Thursday, March 19 at The Inn on Broadway in Lexington.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm and is open to the public.

Dr. Paul said last week he isn't interested in running against Sen. Jim Bunning next year, but would enter the race if Bunning dropped out.

What will Mitch do, this time?

The last time Sen. Mitch McConnell had a choice of who to help in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat representing Pennsylvania in 2004, he chose Sen. Arlen Specter over Congressman Pat Toomey. Specter won then and cast the deciding vote this year in favor of the Mother of All Bailouts.

Toomey is the President of the national Club for Growth and a very strong fiscal conservative.

Now it appears Toomey is gearing up for a 2010 run at Specter. At least that is what he suggested to a Pennsylvania talk radio audience this morning, saying a run was "back on the table." Toomey added:
“Senator Specter cast the deciding vote on the very worrisome stimulus bill, when he could have negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama for more productive tax cuts and less wasteful spending.”
Should Toomey file to run, it will be interesting to see who Mitch supports.

Not enough pig in AIG's poke

Amazing that we are giving another $30 billion to AIG when they can't repay the first $150 billion.

My favorite is the "as needed" part.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Debunking more Big Ed spin

Last fall, Kentucky's education bureaucrats beat their chests about Kentucky ACT scores while Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes quietly suggested they were taking credit for success that wasn't theirs.

Now we know Innes was right. Click here to read the latest.