Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"

It's ironic that just as Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan "Skippy" Miller is trying to take credit for posting government expenditures to the internet, the agency that runs the money-losing KAPT program he championed is sitting on that program's actuarial report.

What's wrong, guys? Something you don't want us to see?


Below is a screen shot taken at 10:48 pm Tuesday night on the KAPT web site showing no 2008 actuarial report. It will be interesting to see how fast this gets updated and how bad the news is.

Let there be spending transparency

The Beshear administration will post a website next Monday morning related to the E-Transparency effort. Glad they have finally gotten this far and they deserve credit for making this happen.

The more transparent government activities are, the better the public is served. Nice job, guys. Now do it right.

This isn't helping

You'd think the campaign staff, or the Senate staff, or the party staff, or some random dude running down the street with his hair on fire could come up with something better than this:
"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said it was time for all lawmakers to "act like grown-ups, if you will, and get this done for all of the people." He predicted a bill would pass this week, although the House, not the Senate, is the focus of the dispute."

Got this from the AP.

Wonder how that little crack will poll...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Picking up steam: no bailouts for junkies

An interesting comment on a Bluegrass Policy Blog post about drug abusers in Kentucky drawing welfare benefits:
"I have worked in law enforcement and you would be AMAZED at the number of drug users who are in line to get their money every month, whose numerous trips to the ER looking for drugs or trips to jail are paid for by you, whose children are supported by the state (who often have numerous special needs because the mother was on drugs while she was pregnant). While they spend time getting high, in jail,or in government funded rehabs the taxpayers are supporting them, their family members/friends are using the food stamps and SSI checks to do what they like. They sell the benefit cards to others to get money to get the drugs. Cut them off, make them accountable and responsible for themselves...stop enabling the abuse of taxpayer funds and government programs."

You can read the whole post here.

Kentucky candidates vote no on bailout

It says something that everyone with an opponent in the Kentucky House delegation voted against the bank bail out.

Chandler, Davis, Whitfield, and Yarmuth voted against. Rogers and Lewis voted for it.

Sen. Brett Guthrie might need to talk about Lewis' yes vote.

George W. Bush, stabilizer-in-chief

No, Mr. President, it isn't for every American.

President Bush is pushing the bank bailout bill this morning. He said "Every member of Congress and every American should keep in mind that a vote for this bill is a vote to prevent economic damage to you and your community."

That isn't exactly true. If you bought a house in the last few years ignoring all the talk about a real estate bubble and now want to sell, this bailout's for you. If you got an adjustable rate mortgage when rates where at a historic low, this bailout's for you. If you underwrote or sold mortgages to people who shouldn't legitimately have gotten a mortgage, this bailout's for you. If you are a politician who wants to take credit for "doing something," especially if you stood in the way of preventing this nonsense back when we tried to fix it, this bailout's for you.

This bailout isn't for the rest of us, Mr. President. If it were, you guys would just do away with the mark-to-market rules and let us get on with our business. A crisis of confidence in a free economy has a great way of working itself out. Kind of like how a big sale at the mall clears the shelves.

No, Mr. President. The vote, the stability, and the bailout aren't for the rest of us. We just get to pay for them.

Stop nursing care for newspapers

Very soon, Kentuckians across the Commonwealth will become keenly aware of the need to reduce government spending. When that happens, we need to work up support for prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds to print government announcements in newspapers.

Notices of hearings, meetings, auctions, etc. can all be placed on the internet for much less money than we are now spending. And the ferocity with which newspaper publishers defend this largesse is quite telling. It's time for the long, slow, expensive bailout of newspapers in the state to end.

Then we need to stop bailing out junkies, labor unions, and corporate welfare recipients.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do you know what a muni is?

At least for a while, the federal government may get away with bailing out holders of bad mortgages because it can print money.

The state of Kentucky has no such luck. And the difference may start to matter here pretty soon.

While the municipal bond market meltdown hasn't gotten much attention yet, it will. And then we will have some serious decisions to make.

The Bluegrass Institute weighs in.

Smaller government, transparency, pension reform

Speaking Saturday in Stamping Ground, Sen. Damon Thayer discussed key issues not getting enough attention elsewhere including the "fiscal trainwreck heading down the tracks here in the Commonwealth" in unfunded public employee benefits:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ten minutes to understanding the meltdown

All is well in Community Organizer Nation

One little-noted detail about the current "financial meltdown" is that the rabble-rousing continues unabated without any community organizers actually having to worry about missing a meal.

Regardless of any of his other sins, Phil Gramm was still right when he said we have become a nation of whiners. How else would you describe a people who have been bellyaching about a recession through eight years of economic growth and now are lobbying for sidewalk expansions to fit the coming soup lines in the Great Depression of 2008?

Joe Klein's debate postmortem for Time includes this: "McCain seemed more prudent and thoughtful than he has since he uttered the most important line of the campaign so far, "the fundamentals of the economy are good.""

The fact is that the fundamentals of the economy are good. Refutations of this hard fact always quickly devolve into bogus statistics about those without health insurance, utter nonsense about the poor getting poorer while the rich get richer, or the latest craze, blaming everyone's problems on laissez-faire capitalism.

We will know the economic fundamentals of the United States are no longer good when community organizers can't find work as community organizers. They certainly have to have an appreciation of these good economic fundamentals on the weekends, when they enjoy the comfort of the homes and the company of their families, as they rest up from a busy week of complaining about how horrible America is.

The mortgage mess is the exact opposite of a failure of the market. Making bad loans and putting them on the books as good loans is a distortion that had to be worked out eventually. This bill (notice the co-sponsors) would have helped a lot, but too few people were listening way back then.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A snag in the Jim Newberry set-up

Judge Jennifer Coffman issued an eight page order yesterday in the Fayette jail employees' class action lawsuit against the city of Lexington. It appears she has some questions about the questionable deal attorneys for both sides worked out.
"The critical question of concern to the Court is not whether the
defendant should settle; rather, in its role of protecting the
interests of the plaintiff-employees, the Court is concerned with
whether it is legitimately in the best interests of the plaintiffs to

And this:
"The likelihood of fraud or collusion behind the settlement."

In other words, hold on to your hats, Lexington taxpayers. You are going to need them after Mayor Jim Newberry and his lawyer friends get finished cleaning out your wallets.

A preliminary settlement hearing is scheduled for 1pm on September 30 at the Federal Courthouse in Lexington.

"That's not political, it's nooze, baby!"

Since when is it newsworthy that Rep. Ben Chandler is endorsing a fellow Democrat running for Congress?

And don't tell me it is because Chandler is a "conservative" Dem and that the Blue Dog label means something.

Remember this? How about this?

Grover Norquist to the rescue

Americans for Tax Reform is making plans to come to Frankfort to publicly express opposition to Gov. Steve Beshear's internet meddling.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Beshear gets national attention

In a week of disasters in Washington D.C., Gov. Steve Beshear brought some unwanted attention home to Kentucky.

Beshear's plan to seize internet gambling websites has raised the ire of Americans for Tax Reform.
"A ruling issued last week in Kentucky by the Franklin County Circuit Court orders the seizure of over 140 internet gaming websites. The lawsuit, supported by Gov. Beshear, was filed by Justice and Public Safety Cabinet J. Michael Brown. A forfeiture hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 26."
"“This ruling, aside from being unconstitutional, represents an egregious example of government intrusion on free enterprise. The court’s decision unjustifiably hampers the freedom of Kentuckians,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This Orwellian attempt by Gov. Beshear to censor the internet sets a dangerous precedent that should deeply concern all Kentuckians, not just the thousands of law abiding adults in Kentucky that enjoy poker.”"

Nice job, Governor.

Why re-electing Mitch McConnell matters

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't need any more power.

Jody Richards' golden butt-kicking

House Speaker Jody Richards is trying to get Education Commissioner Jon Draud's job so he can bow out "gracefully" rather than face a challenge from Rep. Greg Stumbo for the Speaker's chair.

This would complete a circle, with both men taking full advantage of Kentucky's rigged public employee pension system for politicians.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Al Gore: "take down" those coal plants

Al Gore has gone off the deep end again, calling for "civil disobedience" and urging young people to "take down" coal plants.

This comes right on the heels of VP candidate Joe Biden saying basically the same thing.

Obama is the real Herbert Hoover

Thanks to the Club for Growth for passing along this video of an interview that lines up both sides of the bailout debate pretty well. About halfway through, the hapless Sen. Chuck Schumer says Sen. Jim Demint sounds like "Herbert Hoover in 1929." If the interviewer knew her history she would have stopped him on that. Hoover was a big-government Republican who rammed through tariffs that choked off trade and massive tax increases that killed growth.

Sounds a lot like our guy Barry.

Kentucky's financial bailout plan emerges

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time to speak up

Sen. Mitch McConnell, you may remember, was for the amnesty bill before he heard from us. Now that he is basically on the same side of the welfare-for-pinstripes scheme as Rep. Barney Frank, he should hear from us again.

You'll either love this or hate it

An enterprising new Kentucky website is selling Sarah Palin bumper stickers for the best price available anywhere.
"Now we want to show our support for her and make a lot of liberals mad while we drive to work. We urge you to show your support for Gov Palin by putting the Palin crosshairs on your vehicle."

Check it out here.

Grayson rips Obama/Biden coal plan

Secretary of State Trey Grayson called on Kentucky Democrats Gov. Steve Beshear, Bruce Lunsford, and Sen. David Boswell to take sides for or against the coal industry.

Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden has chosen his side. He is against it.

Grayson said:
"Recently, the Obama-Biden ticket showed its true colors as it relates to the future of coal in our country. Sen. Biden said at a campaign rally in Ohio that in an Obama-Biden administration there would apparently be 'no coal plants here in America.' This bait and switch is similar to Senator Obama's support of clean coal legislation that Senator Bunning and he co-sponsored in the Senate. Obama eventually voted against the legislation."

"Governor Beshear, Bruce Lunsford, and State Senator David Boswell, who either represent coal producing counties or are running to do so, should renouce these reckless and uninformed beliefs of the Obama-Biden ticket, particularly on the eve of Senator Biden's visit to Kentucky. During these difficult economic times, we should be doing more to spur Kentucky's economy, not trying to extinguish it."

Homework help for Ron Bishop

Authorities are looking into reports that Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop is waiting for someone named Libby Mills to finish writing his response to a devastating but unreleased management review performed by city auditors.

Lexington taxpayers are still paying for Bishop to drive a city car home to Louisville every day.

Mayor Jim Newberry had no comment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yeah, there is another side to this argument

The Lexington Herald Leader has a column this morning about Congressional earmarks in which they couldn't find anyone who is against the redistributive nature of pulling so much money of private hands that politicians get to build their political careers on pulling some of back and deciding who gets it.

Bruce Lunsford had a chance to really score points on Sen. Mitch McConnell, but he punted:
"Lunsford couldn't cite a McConnell-secured earmark for Kentucky with which to quibble."

Republicans give fiscal conservatives precious little to support on this front but the "we can pour out the slop better than they can" approach is certainly not a winner.

The Club for Growth of Kentucky has a very interesting take on this. If tax revenues are high enough to fund bovine flatulence studies and the mating habits of hummingbirds, think how much more productive that money would be in what is left of our private sector.

Give taxpayers a seat at the table

Congress battling over the shape of the $700 billion bailout means some want to add in executive pay restrictions and large-scale mortgage renegotiations for troubled homeowners.

While my opposition to limiting CEO pay is melting as the promise of more federal taxpayer bailouts makes more CEOs de facto government employees, I don't see much sense in propping up the last vestiges of the housing bubble by continuing to compensate those who can't afford their mortgages.

If anyone in Washington D.C. is interested in treating taxpayers as more than ATMs, they would repeal automatic deduction of payroll taxes. Let's go back to having Americans make their own tax payments. Congress should make this a part of the bailout bill.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wow, that was quick!

More than a month ago, you read here that the Fayette County Detention Center had fired the four indicted and suspended officers in the inmate abuse scandal. There were more details provided here last week.

The Lexington Herald Leader is on the case today, talking to the union president I got the same information from in mid-August.

What's odd is that the four indicted former officers appealing to get their jobs back even merits a news story now. All this amounts to is the defendants trying to keep themselves busy before their November 12 pre-trial conference by acting like they aren't going to prison.

What the Herald Leader should be reporting on is why Cpl. John Vest, who the city has been trying to malign for two years, still has his badge, ID card, uniforms, and keys to the jail but isn't allowed back to work. His slander and civil rights violation lawsuit is getting stronger every day.

Another issue Mayor Jim Newberry ignores

Increased federal enforcement of immigration laws will have an impact on Lexington and other areas of Kentucky sooner or later. Given security concerns about the World Equestrian Games in 2010, it might be sooner.

And it could get ugly.

Tears -- and sand -- in their ears

Just wondering if the Fannie Mae debacle might have some of the "There is no crisis in Social Security" crowd rethinking their not-so-long-ago positions.

Perhaps I'm not the only one:
"But the Fannie fiasco matters for a less-obvious reason. There are other accidents waiting to happen in the social entitlements whose costs also will jeopardize U.S. long-term growth. Social Security and Fannie aren't often spoken of in the same breath – as programs go, we associate Social Security with the swinging-and-60-plus crowd, not the Swinging '60s."

"What Social Security and Fannie have in common is that both have lived important segments of their lives off-budget. Tax increases are likely to pay for Fannie and Freddie. These increases will remind voters that being off-budget doesn't mean a program won't eventually penalize the taxpayer. Burned by Fannie, voters may get ready for entitlement reform."

It's past time to stop the whining against Social Security reform and get on with it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Funny money at Fayette jail no laughing matter

Sources with information about the City of Lexington's internal auditing say that a damaging report about Don Leach, former Administrative Officer at the Fayette jail, will be released as soon as Monday.

At issue is financial improprieties related to Leach's consulting business and misuse of city property.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the final audit report is not likely to include information about Director Ron Bishop and Edye Dabney.

Other than being indicative of very poor judgement by officials at the jail and the city, this mess appears to be unrelated to the criminal abuse of inmates at the Lexington jail.

David Boswell is running the wrong way

The Republican Party of Kentucky is having a field day with a fundraiser for 2nd district congressional candidate Sen. David Boswell going to Washington D.C. for a fundraiser with California Congressman George Miller.

"David Boswell raised so little money in Kentucky that he’s been forced to turn to Nancy Pelosi’s closest friends to bail him out. There is no doubt where his loyalty would be in Congress,” said Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson.

Rep. Miller has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President and scores 0% on tax issues and 21% on responsible spending. He also rates an F from the National Rifle Association and a 100% from the ACLU.

Thanks Nancy, Ben, and John

The U.S. House of Representatives last night gave the advantage on energy production back to Republicans.
"House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today put the Democrats in charge of Congress on notice that the House GOP will not stop fighting until a comprehensive energy reform bill is signed into law. Boehner’s speech comes a day after House Democrats rejected a bipartisan plan – authored by Reps. John Peterson (R-PA) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) – to take the first critical steps toward lower energy costs. Democrats instead passed yet another sham “no energy” bill, continuing Speaker’s Pelosi’s stated purpose of attempting to give vulnerable Democrats political cover by encouraging them to tell their constituents they will vote for real energy reform without actually doing so."

Now the sham bill goes to the Senate where Sen. Mitch McConnell gets to be the hero by killing it. And even if that doesn't work, it is sure to get a veto from President Bush.

Your vacation is over, boys and girls. Time to get to work. And all that really means now is to get yourselves out of the way so Americans can produce their own energy.

Rep. Ben Chandler and Rep. John Yarmuth, both of Kentucky's Dems, voted for the sham.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Newt's tri-partisan big ideas

Newt Gingrich is putting together an event September 27 to explore ways to fix what ails the country. Could be interesting.

Go here for more.

Crass politicization aside, casinos still dead

Sen. Jack Westwood has decided he now wants a vote on casinos.

Maybe it will get him a few votes or campaign contributions, but it still won't get Gov. Steve Beshear any casinos.

If you want more money, guys, repeal prevailing wage and certificate of need.

New media staying on top of stories that matter

If you have been reading this site for information about the Fayette County Detention Center scandals that you can't get elsewhere, then you may also want to read Page One Kentucky for details about a big financial scandal at the University of Louisville that others have been strangely incurious about.

Hey McCain, tell us about this!

If Sen. Barack Obama were to win this November and bring a Democratic Congress with him to Washington D.C., we know government involvement in healthcare would increase.

A state constitutional amendment ballot initiative in Sen. John McCain's home state of Arizona, however, would limit the expansion of government-run health programs and infringements on individual rights.

Here it is:

Free market reforms to the healthcare industry aren't even on the table, really, because so much of the national conversation is about increasing the role of government. A policy such as this one from Arizona could allow states to get serious about looking at ways to make the system work better instead of just more expensive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Can we get a running mate for Mitch McConnell?

From Polwatchers:
"McConnell's campaign manager Justin Brasell also countered that McConnell has "voted 29 times against congressional pay raises and ten times since 1996 for minimum wage increases.""


I will say this, though: before you get all wobbly on the Senate Minority Leader, watch the video below of his opponent Bruce Lunsford a couple of times and you will be okay.

Let's stick Obama's campaign in a closet to die

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kentucky reform works when it is evidence-based

Kentucky has gotten some well-deserved, if minor, kudos for responding to reality and doing away with most of its 1994 flirtation with HillaryCare.
"The coverage guarantee is not a new concept. But it has had a troubled history in several states that tried it for people seeking coverage through the insurance market. Some states, such as Kentucky and South Dakota, eventually dropped the guarantee after insurers left. In the few states where guaranteed coverage continues, monthly premiums generally are much higher for younger, healthier people than in nearby states."

Too bad we are not yet ready to take a similar approach to what the real world is telling us about our two decades-old educational reforms.

"Grossly excessive" Steve Beshear pandering

Fortunately, it appears the hurricane winds weren't enough to cause a gasoline supply disruption for Kentucky.

But we got enough hot air from Gov. Steve Beshear to last us for a long time. The way our "price gouging" law is written only encourages him and politicians like him to go around calling gasoline suppliers dirty names.

The standard for violation of the Kentucky "price gouging" statute is too vague for anyone but a trial attorney or a politician trying to boost his approval ratings to appreciate. The bill subjects anyone to prosecution for selling goods and services during a called emergency for a price that is "grossly in excess" of the normal price.

In fact, the law is so vague Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway might just fine retailers around the state until they pile up the extra $500 million they want to tax you for.

Does anyone need to be reminded who those extra costs will be passed along to?

It would be much cheaper for all of us to simply repeal this awful law.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kathy Stein: rape is in the eye of the beholder

I thought I had heard it all when Gov. Steve Beshear said that Kentucky gasoline retailers were trying to eat us, but now he says they want to have forcible sexual relations with us first.

My question is: which gas stations is he talking about, and which stations are non-violent? I really want to know.

And as much as I love a good non-apology apology, I have to wonder how many milliseconds it would take for a Republican to be crucified for making similar comments and then apologizing only "if I offended anyone."

And the best part is seeing Rep. Kathy Stein ride in to the rescue.

"Reactions to Beshear’s initial comment varied. State Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, called Beshear’s analogy of rape “tough, but perhaps appropriate.”"

"“Sometimes situations call for brutally descriptive language,” Stein said in an interview yesterday."

Stein's opponent in this November's Senate race should ask Stein to tone down the rhetoric about sexual crime she now condones. I'd like to hear more about Stein's philosophy of the state's role in price regulation. And perhaps she could suggest a less invasive sexual crime for her ridiculous analogies.

Or maybe she could tell us that if high gas prices are rape, what sexual crime is it when bad public policy causes gasoline supplies to dry up?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Did you 'seethe' this?

Here is a video to get the Panic-crats really upset.

Senator Mitch McConnell spoke in Lexington today, pointing out the wasted opportunities in the Congress these last two years. He mentioned the dozens of meaningless Iraq votes taken since Democrats took control in the 2006 election. He criticized them for "continuing the 2006 election" instead of working toward resolution of problems like unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't be surprised if stations run out of gas

Economically literate Kentuckians are really missing the boat if they pass up the opportunity to ridicule Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway for jumping on the gasoline price controls express today.

Here is my shot at them.

And then there is the timeless classic from Dr. Walter Williams:
"Economic ignorance, misconceptions and superstition drive us toward totalitarianism because they make us more willing to hand over greater control of our lives to politicians. That results in a diminution of our liberties. Think back to the gasoline price controls during the 1970s."

"The price controls caused shortages. To deal with the shortages, restrictions were imposed on purchases. Then national highway speed limits were enacted. Then there were more calls for smaller and less crashworthy cars. With the recent gasoline supply shocks, we didn't experience the shortages, long lines and closed gas stations seen during the 1970s. Why?"

"Prices were allowed to perform their allocative function -- get people to use less gas and get suppliers to supply more. Economic ignorance is to politicians what idle hands are to the devil. Both provide the workshop for the creation of evil."

The current "gouging law" is the worst kind of price control. If the law merely said $8.01 a gallon is too much, that would be one thing. But the current law merely prohibits setting a price at a level "grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration and unrelated to any increased cost to the seller." That's no law; that's an open invitation to the government to make up the rules as it goes.

Busted: ABC's Charlie Gibson

If you had a vague feeling watching Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin that he went much easier on Sen. Barack Obama, you would be right.

Thoughtful critique of Gov. Sarah Palin

Hey, didn't you used to be Pamela Anderson?

Taking over the world one wiki at a time

The Bluegrass Institute has a new project you may be interested in. FreedomKentucky is now online. It's a wiki, which means that readers can also be writers and editors. There are already entries about education, spending transparency, CentrePointe, and Kentucky's wasteful prevailing wage policies.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fayette jail mess takes another ugly turn

One month ago, you read here that Fayette County Detention Center's four indicted prisoner abuse scandal employees were being terminated.

The hammer has fallen on them.

Letters dated August 27, 2008 went out to Kristine Lafoe, Anthony Estep, John McQueen, and Clarence McCoy informing them that their employment with the jail had ended August 25 and that they had until September 7 to turn in all their equipment or face a civil lawsuit from the city of Lexington.

Mayor Jim Newberry still isn't talking and Director Ron Bishop is, inexplicably, still employed.

Meanwhile, the man whose testimony shined the light on the whole thing despite official efforts to shut him up and run him off, continues to twist in the wind. Cpl. John Vest, the whistleblower, still has not been either terminated or reassigned. He remains on unpaid leave.

Joe Biden isn't qualified for pre-algebra

12 minus 5 equals 7, right? I mean, if you have 12 toes -- bear with me here -- and a wild cannibal from Kenya came along and ate five of them -- just kidding! -- you would only have seven left, wouldn't you?

But you didn't start off with twelve toes. And that's Sen. Joe Biden's problem. When Joe says Sen. John McCain's healthcare plan would raise your taxes, he shows very, very poor math skills.

In Joe's example, a person making $50,000 a year with $12,000 in employer-provided health benefits would have $62,000 taxable income under McCain's plan. Then, Joe says, McCain's $5000 tax credit would leave $7000 subject to taxation and would, therefore, represent a tax increase.

The problem with this is that a taxpayer under these circumstances is in the 15% tax bracket. So the federal tax due on the $12,000 would be only $1800. The $5000 tax credit would more than make up for the taxable health benefits.

Again 12-5=7. But that wasn't the question for Joe. It was 18-50=-32, if you follow me.

And this guy wants to be a heartbeat away from leadership of the free world. Ha!

Cutting through Big Ed's crap

This is why we need blogs.

Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes provides some valuable perspective on the Kentucky Department of Education/mainstream media spin about this week's release of CATS scores:
"In both reading and science, the percentage meeting the EXPLORE benchmark went down this year while CATS proficiency rates increased. In middle school math, while the percent reaching the benchmark went up slightly, the rise in the CATS proficiency rate was much larger."

"The differences in proficiency rates from 2006-07 to 2007-08 increased for all subjects, indicating that CATS scoring for middle schools got even easier this year."

As the Kentucky's mainstream media crumbles, independent researchers like Innes will take on an even more important role in holding government entities like Big Education accountable.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are terrorists cornering Kentucky's cig market?

Kentucky's media can't report on Budget Director Mary Lassiter's August revenue report because that would mean telling you revenues continue to climb.

But if they did, you might find out Kentucky's cigarette tax revenues are down 22% from last August. That means Kentuckians are either smoking less or they have used Gov. Steve Beshear's repeated threats to raise taxes as motivation to go ahead and find a terrorist black market cigarette dealer.

Either way, this suggests that raising the cigarette tax further may not be the best idea.

Educrats and media sycophants hold pep rally

The Courier Journal and Herald Leader traded in their notepads and pens for pom poms when the Kentucky Department of Education released its CATS results yesterday.

And I'm embarrassed for the pinheads at the Prichard Committee for "Academic Excellence" for not being too embarrassed to put this silly video on their web site.

They are doing THIS on September 11?!?

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's Destination 2040 isn't getting any of the attention it deserves.

Maybe this will help --

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More shark-jumping at Main and Midland

As an email recipient of the Lexington Herald Leader's daily missives, I've gotten used to seeing recycled blog stories headlined as "Breaking News," but this is ridiculous.

In this morning's AM Newsletter, mixed right in with various news stories, is a rambling, pointless opinion column from Merlene Davis about Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter.

It gets better. Look at how they labeled this silliness. Is there any doubt this "mistake" wouldn't happen if someone were opining about Barack Obama's family?

End the war, stop the lies, save our kids!

No, not that war. This war.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Better than every Guv but Mark Sanford

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey says Gov. Sarah Palin is better on fiscal issues than every state executive in the nation except South Carolina's Mark Sanford.

Here is a good interview, in which Toomey explain's Palin's tax increase on oil companies "part of the motivation for that tax increase was to undo the corrupting influence that had gotten them to that point" and changing her position on The Bridge to Nowhere "clearly she’s the one who made the decision to put the kibosh on the bridge."

You can read the whole thing here.

Hey, is that Michelle Obama?

Sen. Barack Obama's radical views on abortion match those of a Planned Parenthood video they put out three years ago that is a little, uh, outside the mainstream. And I mean that in the sense that drowning people in anal lubricant, blowing them up, decapitating them, and promoting abortion as a way to save billions of dollars in social spending are a little outside the mainstream.

Incredibly, the video is still available:

How's that pension reform going, Governor?

At the last State Government Committee meeting in Frankfort, Sen. Julian Carroll asked Budget Director Mary Lassiter how much of the General Fund budget is going to public employee retirement costs. The answer is a shocker.

In a letter to Sen. Carroll dated September 2, Lassiter said:
"For Fiscal Year 2009, the enacted Budget of the Commonwealth for the Executive Branch provides approximately $628 million from the General Fund, or 7.1% of General Fund appropriations for retirement costs."

And we are spending all that money on a woefully underfunded system, with bad cash management practices that is only going to get more underfunded despite our efforts to pour billions more dollars into it over the next two decades.

Is anyone else ready to seriously cut back on public employee benefits to fall more in line with those of the private sector workers picking up the tab? So far, "reform" has been a total bust.

Hey Obama, fifty-seven days left!

That is, of course, one day for every state. Right, Barry?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Obama botches abortion apology

You can always tell a politician is worried when he starts going out to "clarify" earlier comments that have hurt him in the polls. So it was interesting to hear Sen. Barack Obama go on the "This Week" television program today to apologize for dismissing the abortion issue as "above my paygrade" last month.

"All I meant to communicate was that I don’t presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions," Obama said.

"Theological questions?" Barry?

Supporting the abortion-on-demand business of Planned Parenthood and left-wing extremists across the country is no theological question. Nor is it the purview of nine people on any court. Defining murder is at least a political issue and politicians like Obama should stop trying to hide behind slippery language. He should explain his wretched record on the subject.

Do they really think they can ignore Sarah Palin?

The Louisville Courier Journal is on a tirade about health insurance in America. And yet they managed to write a whole article about it without checking with the most popular governor -- and most famous politician -- in the nation.

She could help them. Of course, that is assuming they really want to solve the problem and aren't just pushing an agenda.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What do you think about this?

Why Kentucky casinos will never pass

According the Lexington Herald Leader, Gov. Steve Beshear and former Gov. Brereton Jones have decided to gird up their loins and try again to bring casinos to Kentucky.
"“Gov. Beshear and Gov. Jones have been friends for a long time. And they have always shared a commitment to working together in the best interests of Kentucky and, particularly, the state’s signature industry – the equine industry,” Jay Blanton, Beshear’s communications director, said in a statement."

It will never work, other than for raising campaign contributions from the horse industry, left-wing groups and New Jersey mobsters.

At issue in Kentucky is a never-ending struggle between those who think they can use casino money to save the horse industry and those who think that bringing in casinos will allow us to continue to overspend without consequences.

I'm glad to see that Steve and Brereton have gotten over their little spat from earlier in the year, but let's not pretend that this is anything more than party-building rhetoric.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Palin needs to talk to her KY chairman

Gov. Sarah Palin is drawing attention to state over regulation of healthcare services and one of the most important ways to bring those costs down. Kentucky Senate President David Williams, state campaign chairman of McCain/Palin, hasn't gotten the memo:

Kentucky needs to get straight on the laws of supply and demand and then repeal the wasteful certificate of need process.

Public appearance time

I'll be out of pocket for a while this morning as I speak about free trade to a group of supporters -- and, apparently, some protesters -- at Thiel Audio in Lexington.

Come on by at 9 AM if you can.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Burying good health insurance news

Buying insurance for something consumers can afford to pay out of pocket is always an expensive proposition. Think about it: which would cost more, an insurance company processing and paying a claim you have the money for in your pocket, or you reaching in your pocket and paying for it yourself?

So it was good to hear from the Mercer consulting firm that 19% of companies surveyed will begin in 2009 to offer consumer-directed health plans that encourage employees to watch health costs by letting them pocket savings.

Interesting that the Lexington Herald Leader didn't mention this key fact until the thirteenth paragraph of a fourteen paragraph story that started with the headline "Study: Workers to pay more for health care."

I'm surprised the AP story didn't end with some nonsense about 50 million Americans dying in the street for lack of health insurance.

Barack Obama, what is a community organizer?

Community-organizer-in-chief Barack Obama may not want to talk specifics about what exactly a community organizer is and does. But his campaign manager does.

Sort of.

Apparently it has to do with responding, or failing, or ... something. (click to read)

When your best ideas are socialized medicine, empowering union bosses, and keeping women in court and out of the workplace, you may want to avoid specifics about your life's work.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What's with all the optimism?

Survey USA put out the chart below showing poll numbers in fifteen states of people mostly predicting economic doom and gloom. Oddly, no other state had a higher percentage than Kentucky of people taking the Phil Gramm approach.

EKU professor lost in the woods

When it comes to tracking government-related nonsense, one fertile field is that populated by education bloggers who live inside the system.

Such is the case sometimes with Richard Day, an Eastern Kentucky University education professor.

In a post yesterday, he reprinted a Kentucky Department of Education press release and headlined it "Draud Touts Progress under KERA."

The press release is riddled with factual errors. Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes already pointed several of them out on the Bluegrass Policy Blog.

But when Mr. Innes tried to point these errors out again and engage in a reasoned discourse, Dr. Day responded with this:
"Arguing specific data points in the face of the larger picture might be seen as an attempt to focus on a tree while ignoring the forest."

Unfortunately, that is an all-too-typical response one gets when daring to call Kentucky's education establishment on the carpet for their incompetence and the arrogant way in which they try to cover it up.

A "moral obligation" to increase welfare fraud?

Gov. Steve Beshear announced yesterday to the Herald Leader editorial board that his latest great idea is to make it easier for people to sign up for the KCHIP health insurance entitlement.
"His administration estimates that the changes could encourage the parents of the 67,000 children who are eligible but not enrolled to participate in the federally sponsored program."

""To me, it is a moral obligation for Kentucky to provide adequate health care for its children," Beshear said."

Given that anyone can now qualify for KCHIP by showing up with two pay stubs to "prove" a low income, I'm not sure how excited we should be about a plan to advertise the program more heavily and reduce recipient accountability in hopes of further inflating health insurance costs with our own money.

Beshear has now put out a press release also.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More misuse of federal grants in Kentucky

If you followed the Page One Kentucky coverage of the Robert Felner scandal at the University of Louisville, then you can certainly understand that the mainstream media in Lexington will be very slow to cover the federal investigation of former Fayette County Detention Center administrator Don Leach for also pocketing grant money.

Biggest illegal alien bust in the country

What do you think about this?

Just a teeny, tiny tax increase on the other guy

Anyone who believes the people pushing for a cigarette tax increase to educate our children, build roads, improve the economy, keep social workers safe, and encourage people to stop smoking will be satisfied with that one little sin tax probably also believe Sen. Barack Obama is really going to fund trillions of dollars in new programs without raising taxes on everyone.

Most conservative GOP platform ever

In an on-the-record conference call this morning, Secretary of State Trey Grayson called the 2008 Republican Party Platform the most conservative ever written.

A couple of bright spots I noticed quickly glancing at the platform was urging for private accounts to preserve Social Security and urging, in the event of passage of a national sales tax like the FairTax, a simultaneous repeal of the 16th Amendment, which allowed the federal government to levy a permanent income tax.

In other news, the platform discusses "global warming," but uses the term "climate change."

Here is the platform.

A Senate vote for lower taxes, transparency

State Senate candidate Chuck Ellinger is running against Rep. Kathy Stein, who wants to make bullets illegal in Kentucky.

Ellinger has already been promised a spot on the powerful Senate Appropriations and Revenue Cabinet, while Stein, now thankfully the former House Judiciary Chair, would be reduced to making easy-to-ignore floor speeches.

By the way, I'd like to point out here a major advantage to tracking the legislature through Kentucky Votes. The above reference to HB 715 will always stay up as an example of Rep. Stein's radical anti-Second Amendment stance. At the LRC site, this evidence has been scrubbed just because Stein asked for it to be.

Please sign up for email updates at Kentucky Votes to track the action in Frankfort.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Incest pays in Lexington

On Thurday September 4, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Coffman will announce a settlement in a class action lawsuit between employees of the Fayette County Detention Center and the City of Lexington.

But the fix is already in.

Jail employees got caught in the middle of an incestuous relationship between the attorneys who run the city and the attorneys of Miller, Griffin & Marks who represented the jail employees.

The attorneys are all going to get paid, as usual, but it appears the employees are going to come up short with a surprisingly low settlement.

It's worth mentioning at this point that the biggest ongoing civil lawsuit against the city related to mismanagement of the jail is taking place in Jessamine County.

Educating ourselves into oblivion at $4000 a pop

Now that I have two children in college, I sure don't want Sen. Barack Obama making higher education "more affordable" as he promises to do.

In an outstanding post on Jay P. Greene's Blog entitled "Obama's Higher Education Plan: Throw Money Now, Ask Questions Later?" about Obama's proposed $4000 "gift" to every college student, Mathew Ladner gets to the heart of the matter:
"The Congress has been chasing its own tail on "college affordability" for decades -- providing more and more subsidies, watching costs go up and up, begin process again. Einstein's definition of insanity certainly comes to mind."

"Sadly, the Obama plan would simply add more fuel to the fire and leave our very serious higher education problems unaddressed. We need to take a long, hard look at higher education, not simply throw more money at the problem."

With with lower academic standards gaining acceptance at our institutions of higher education and no check on higher costs, much of what we are going to see is colleges growing larger on borrowed taxpayer money turning out less-educated graduates and charging much higher fees for the whole mess.

Better to spend more on merit-based aid, less on need-based aid, and watch education results and consumer value appreciate.