This issue used to be called Loserville. But we at LEO mellowed in our older age and renamed it Louneyville. Mostly, we’d like to think we do not live in a city of losers. But who among us is not a bit loony? And as any journalist will tell you, the truth is always loonier than
fiction. Our next president will be a reality-TV star who wears a toupee made from albino chinchilla and who creeps on his own daughter, revels in being a tax dodger and has insulted just about every group of people in America?
Even without Donald Trump’s visit to Louisville this year, we found plenty of local, loony, unbelievable stories for us to place on our tee and chip shot into the sand trap of snark and commentary. Most of what you will read is meant in good fun and salted with a sarcasm.
But we also felt that some of the most-serious issues facing Louisville needed to be raised in the high relief with a clear recitation of the facts and calls for action, so that even our elected officials could understand them.
We hope you enjoy, or hate, this latest issue of Louneyville and let us know if you do — but especially if you don’t.
UofL basketball scandal is settled, sort of
Remember that great 2015-16 UofL basketball team that beat two Final Four teams, was ranked in the top 15 and had two graduate seniors transfer so they could make an NCAA tournament run? Remember their amazing March run?
Oh! That’s right… The school was under a self-imposed ban on postseason play because of a sex scandal involving strippers and players and recruits who were no longer with the team.
Well, I guess they had to do it, right? I mean… isn’t that what you do to save the program and avoid even worse penalties from the NCAA infractions committee? So it’s over right? Everything is settled, and…
Oh! That’s right… nope!
UofL has received a notice of rule violations, and can expect the next sneaker to drop in a few months. Maybe then it will be over…?
Here’s the thing: Something terrible, egregious and possibly criminal occurred in UofL dorms involving a coach, some players and recruits. There absolutely should be individuals held accountable and the program penalized.
Was it right to punish innocent players? No.
Somehow, the NCAA has been allowed to devise a system where self-flagellation for self-preservation is expected. In the crudest sense, the NCAA is getting itself off watching UofL crush the hearts of two innocent graduate students, with the possibility of future mercy.
Now that all of the investigating is complete, and the NCAA notifies us of what we already knew, the next step in the process: public humiliation! The NCAA would like to watch the UofL interim-president, Athletics Director Tom Jurich and Coach Rick Pitino spend the next several months doing the dance of defending themselves from further punishment. (That may not be the official process, as stated, but it’s effectively what’s going to take place.)
So, after crushing two innocent young men and UofL fans last season, the NCAA would like to continue to torture Louisville fans and players who had nothing to do with the violations.
The university could put an end to this by accepting the violations as described by the NCAA after the investigations. Sure, in doing so they would be leaving Pitino to defend himself and jeopardize an overly draconian additional punishment — so it’s understandable that they would want to drag it out. But enough is enough. It is time for the university to put this dark age behind it, and begin a renaissance-of-sorts. After all, it’s still an institution of higher learning… right? •
Bevinland — a world of Bevin boards and Bevin laws
Oh Governor Griswold … how many lawsuits? One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six… Seven! Seven lawsuits! Coincidentally, that’s the same number of state boards and commissions Gov. Matt Griswold Bevin reorganized in his first year in office.
The most prominent was probably the sudden (almost) resolution that Bevin brought to the embattled UofL Board of Trustees, when he unilaterally disbanded its 20 members. (A close-second would be when he had armed state troopers threaten to arrest the chairman of the retirement systems board.)
Now, to be fair, Bevin was right when he said, “The board as it exists right now is not particularly functional.” This was one reason former President James Ramsey resigned as president of the university and the UofL Foundation. Beyond that, this was just another abuse-of-power by the same governor who claimed a “mandate” after receiving support from just 16 percent of registered voters (won the election 52 to 43 percent).
The result of Bevin’s big-footing was worth all of the stress though. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd blocked Bevin’s order, saying it “is devoid of any legal or factual precedent for a governor to abolish and recreate an entire board of trustees of a public university.” Shepherd then delivered a legal smackdown to Bevin: “The governor’s unilateral action raises profound issues regarding the statutes on governance of public universities and the separation of powers under the Kentucky Constitution.”
But this lawless, reckless reorganizer-in-chief refused to take one judge’s ruling as the final decision. Bevin — who has no legal education but still likes to play lawyer when explaining his unconstitutional actions — continued to argue that his new, illegally-appointed board can meet and act. He also took a his shot at Shepherd, saying, “Franklin Circuit Court is sadly not what it ought to be as it relates to jurisprudence and the actual upholding of the law as written. And so everyone knows that.”
Because “everybody knows that” is a legal argument in Bevinland.
The good news is we can probably expect the governor to slow his rapid ascent to Controversial Hall of Fame. No, not because he’ll mature into the role of the office. It is because he’s running out of boards and commissions to disband… and Democratic lawmakers to threaten… and infrastructure projects to cancel… and news-media editors to block. •
Louneyville spits in Mother Nature’s eye — again
In the age of climate change, with record breaking temperatures and natural disasters, you’d have to be a complete loon not to take environmental issues seriously. But in LOUneyville, we who live here decided instead to give Mother Nature two big middle fingers.
The first one shot up in April, when we decided to continue with our annual redneck tradition of blowing up shit down by the river (also known as Thunder Over Louisville). In addition to the litter from hundreds of thousands in attendance, the gallons of airplane fuel burned so patriots can feel good about our overpriced death machines, we also fired off about 50,000 firework shells.
Shells that, which LEO reported in 2012 article, “require toxic heavy metals and sulfur-coal compounds,” that fall into the river after exploding. Giving our mercury-filled fish plenty to nibble on. The resulting smoke cloud, like all smoke clouds, is filled with unhealthy particles. The Fourth of July celebrations of both 2010 and 2014 were enough to cause Louisville to exceed federal 24-hour air quality standards, so just imagine if Thunder comes close to, or exceeds, those standards for a short time.
But don’t hurt your brain thinking about all of those harmful particles swirling around in our already-terrible air, just look at the pretty lights!
We slowly raised our middle finger a second time by continuing to neglect our city’s tree canopy. A canopy that is losing about 54,000 trees a year, according to a study commissioned by Louisville Metro. A canopy that could, if protected, contribute to improved air quality, heat reduction and less storm-water runoff, thereby lessening sewage overflows.
But instead of doing the sane thing and tackling this issue by enacting laws that require, or reward, property owners to grow more trees, leaders at Metro Council have proposed only one ordinance that protects the trees of public rights of ways and leaves the rest up to voluntary efforts (because that always works).
And because this is LOUneyville, our city’s chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville Inc., (which previously complained about the negative effects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on our precious coal plants), is already planning to oppose any ordinance that emphasizes “new rules.”
Expect more bullshit opposition like this in the future, because in Donald Trump’s America, nothing can impede the economic benefits of business. Especially things like healthy workers, clean air and green spaces.
In times like these, it’s hard to stay sane. •
Lack of leadership kills
The Wal-Mart project in West Louisville failed. The FoodPort project in Russell failed. Now the city has gaps, like a Kentucky smile, with no new jobs, no more access to a grocery store and less credibility as Possibility City.
But who is to blame?
Mayor Greg Fischer and Wal-Mart would tell you it is the activists who filed a lawsuit to force Wal-Mart to follow city rules for construction on a major urban thoroughfare, such as building up to the street. The activists would tell you they were willing to compromise, and the city failed to negotiate.
So who is the blame for the loss of Wal-Mart?
All of them. But especially Wal-Mart, for not wanting to follow city rules, even though it has built stores in other cities that placed them on the street with parking in the back. And Fischer for failing to marshal the leadership — or whatever was necessary — to reach a compromise, and the activists and their lawyers for not working hard enough to push through that compromise.
Now, a state lawmaker has filed a bill to hinder such lawsuits from delaying projects to death. That sounds plain wrong, if not unconstituional, although with a Republican legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin, anything wrong is possible.
Resident Cassia Herron, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The Courier-Journal, “The project failed from the jump due to the lack of transparency and true community engagement.” She probably is right.
Community opposition also presaged failure of FoodPort, a $25-million project at 30th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. After public claims of environmental racism, FoodPort scrapped plans for a methane plant. And then a major tenant backed out. The city tried to provide more money. It just didn’t work out. And it is sad. Fischer had told residents it would “change the look and feel of Russell forever,” with hundreds of permanent and construction jobs.
When LEO this summer asked an architect, a councilwoman, an urban planner and a community activist what should come of the FoodPort site, the list was long: green space, more food-related activity including a year-round market, housing, industry and jobs, among other proposals.
And for the Wal-Mart site, a petition is going around to build the long-awaited Veterans Affairs Medical Center there, instead of on Brownsboro Road. Another group is petitioning Wal-Mart to reconsider building at the site, all which seems unlikely to happen.
But wait — isn’t this Possibility City?
Get on it, Mr. Mayor. •
Courier-Journal — we are waiting
We at LEO have watched ruefully as the ranks of our fellow news-media brethren at The Courier-Journal have withered under the scalpel of layoffs and misdirection. Nothing is gained by even The CJ’s competitors if the state’s largest news-gathering operation is weakened.
But another round of layoffs there this year took out the newspaper’s photo editor and at least one other editor (they call them coaches or some such now), and Executive Editor Neil Budde was axed after a Gannett executive reportedly told the staff too many mistakes were making it into print. The paper eliminated its feature sections on Mondays and Tuesdays. Certainly, the paper still has exceptionally strong reporters, but the product is palpably less.
Perhaps most distressing for Louisville was the elimination of The CJ’s strong editorial voice, under the direction of Pam Platt (who now contributes to LEO), and the diverse assemblage of national opinion-piece writers (say what you will CJ-haters, but the paper ran a balance of conservative and liberal views every day). The city is left with one page a day on weekdays, with the rare editorial.
Which brings us to WDRB General Manager Bill Lamb.
Lamb and LEO provide the last two consistent sources of editorial perspective in the city, although perhaps new leadership at The CJ will change that. Love him or hate him, Lamb is clear about what he thinks. Even when he is wrong, which he was this summer when he took on LEO Executive Editor Aaron Yarmuth over an editorial regarding the Kentucky Farm Bureau.
The resulting dust-up underscored why Louisville needs clear, authoritative editorial voices to help promote discussion and provide leadership.
Yarmuth had taken the Farm Bureau to task because, he wrote, “it still hates gays.”
“The insurance company, and its lobbying arm, which proclaims to be the ‘Voice of Kentucky Agriculture,’ continues to promote discrimination and oppression, targeting the LGBTQ community, women’s reproductive rights, teachers and organized labor … among others,” he wrote.
Lamb objected to, in his words: “I guess you would call it — an editorial…”
“You know, I find Mr. Yamuth’s position to be intolerant. We don’t all share the same values, nor should we. And just because people believe to their core that marriage is between a man and a woman, that doesn’t mean they hate anyone,” he wrote. “If the gay community wants more tolerance and acceptance, then they need to respect other people’s core values and stop screaming that anyone who doesn’t support every aspect of the gay agenda is a hater.”
Yarmuth wrote a rebuttal, sketching out for readers the fault lines that define the argument over gay marriage and LGBTQ rights.
“The idea that the ‘gay community’ must earn more tolerance and acceptance is truly offensive. And what your and the bureau’s point of view fails to recognize is that it is hateful and hurtful toward a large segment of Americans. You suggest/put a requirement on gay-acceptance and tolerance. Tolerance. How about we try the other way around? How about the Farm Bureau, and you, start respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the LGBTQ community, and all Americans, regardless of the ones you choose to ignore, and then you can have their respect. That’s what I think.”
Now, Courier-Journal, how about getting back into the discussion — any discussion? •
Bucks over bullets, Louisville’s gun problem
Count’m — 118 homicides in Jefferson County, eight past the record set in 1971.
One would think city officials and civic leaders would be talking about how easy it is to get guns here. But the people talking most about guns, it seems, are those who attended the National Rifle Association’s convention in May and a cocktail fundraiser later for city bigwigs.
It is easy to see why city officials liked hosting the NRA, even as guns claimed its citizens’ lives. About 80,000 people attended, dumping an estimated $53 million into the local economy.
And again, no one seemed to talk about guns when two people were fatally shot and five were injured Thanksgiving Day, just some 200 yards away from Mayor Greg Fischer during the annual Juice Bowl football game in Shawnee Park. The Courier-Journal reported that a source said people pulled out guns to retaliate after the first shot was fired.
City leaders just keep trotting out all manner of social services programs while pressuring police Chief Steve Conrad to somehow intuit when shooters will fire their guns. Conrad has conceded he is unsure whether more officers can stem the violence, but the city plans to hire more.
And again, no one is talking about guns.
The unfortunate fact is that Louisville cannot regulate guns without state approval. Fischer had said he would push the state to give cities more control, but “we’re not going to chase after windmills over things that aren’t going to happen.”
Attica Scott, the first African-American woman in almost 20 years elected to the state Legislature, called out Fischer for not trying harder. “You have folks talking [about] the trauma of gun violence and our mayor won’t even try to address the issue at the state level,” she said.
So given that, who could be shocked when Louisville’s top business and civic leaders, including the former chairman of Greater Louisville Inc., gathered to sip cocktails, “celebrate, preserve and protect our Second Amendment freedoms” and raise money for the NRA.
“Maybe they’ll come up with an innovative plan to stop gun violence that doesn’t include arming every man, woman and child,” said LEO founder U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville.
Attorney Ed Glasscock, chairman emeritus of Frost Brown Todd, a featured guest at the soirée, told The Courier-Journal that he did not own a gun or belong to the NRA, but the hosts “are very good clients of ours and friends.”
Keep counting them Benjamins — and shooting deaths. •
Record homicide rate means we all are losers
As the city raced this fall toward a new homicide record, the Metro Council and police announced they planned to buy a gunshot detector, despite questions about whether they lead to prosecutions or stop gun violence.
What did police Chief Steve Conrad say about the purchase?
“It would be irresponsible for us to continue doing what we were doing the same way we’ve been doing given what we’re seeing,” he told The Courier-Journal. “This is a recognition of our need to try to do what we can, change what we can, to better serve this community…”
Change. If this doesn’t work, try that. If that doesn’t work, try this. This is a result of the city looking for answers without considering all of the questions. Mayor Greg Fischer now says he is dedicating surplus money to hire more officers and “interrupters,” who will work in neighborhoods to stop violence.
This is all good. But no one talking much about how easy it is to buy guns.
In June, Fischer, speaking at a rally organized by LEO founder U.S. Rep, John Yarmuth, called for the state to allow cities to regulate their own gun laws. But we have seen no movement. Earlier, he had said he would not push the state to allow local gun laws because “we’re not going to chase after windmills over things that aren’t going to happen.”
And then on Thanksgiving Day, a gunfight killed two and injured five in Shawnee Park just a couple of hundred yards away from Fischer. People pulled out guns and began shooting once the first shot was fired. Later, the chief bemoaned that no number of officers could have stopped the shootout.
He is right.
So who are the losers here? We all are. We are losers because, through all of this hubbub, no one is talking enough about making it less easy to buy guns in Louisville, even if that means pushing the state legislature and failing again and again. Where would the LGTBQ commnity be with marriage equality if it and its allies had quit pushing because winning seemed impossible?
But, mostly, we are losers because we obviously lack the tolerance, discretion and emotional maturity to own guns
Here is what LEO was told in September by police Lt. Emily McKinley, head of the Homicide Unit: “Without a change in society as a whole, and in the younger generation, and how we see each other, and without being a little more kind to each other, a little more forgiving and tolerant, I don’t know if violence in society as a whole would decrease.”
“Policing alone cannot combat the increase in the homicides. If you think about it, the police are the community, and the community is the police. If only one aspect of that is working, we are going to fail … It’s going to take some people standing up for what’s right, and a lot of times that’s a little scary.”
OK, let’s get scared. •
GOP state government, a runaway train
If there is anything good about the Republican takeover of the state House of Representatives — no longer the South’s last Democratic chamber — it is that Kentucky’s state budget will not be hobbled together in some late-night session minutes before the deadline.
Unfortunately, it will be a purely-Republican budget, as will the bills signed into law for the near future. We in Louisville and Lexington will be held captive on this calamitous ride on a runaway train while Gov. Matt Bevin pushes on the throttle.
Democrats alone will be powerless to block legislation. In the past, we could always count on the stalwart House to stop the insanity of the Senate. And even if, by dint of Kentucky’s reddish-blue legislators, a piece of odious legislation managed to squeak through, we had a Democratic governor with a sharp veto pen.
But this last election gave the GOP unbridled power, even a super majority in the House.
So yes, there is a lot to worry about.
We hope the presumptive House speaker, Jeff Hoover, is smart enough to keep the state away from that controversial social issue that sank North Carolina, a bathroom bill. Hoover told The Courier-Journal that the business of the legislature for the 2017 session will be — business.
“Our focus is going to be on policy that drives Kentucky economically, that makes Kentucky a better place to live, and to work, and to attract business and create jobs,” Hoover said.
It is a short, 30-day session, fortunately. But there still is enough time to enact some painful laws.
That means, if you belong to a union — tough luck. The right-to-work bill, aka a union-busting bill, that the House has consistently blocked will now pass through the legislature like rice through a goose. Kentucky is the only Southern state without such a law, which would ban companies from requiring workers to join a union.
If you are a construction worker — tough luck. A GOP legislature likely will repeal or weaken the prevailing-wage law, which sets rates required to be paid by all contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects expected to cost more than $250,000.
If you work in a public school or have kids there — tough luck. The GOP plans to end the common-core standards and allow charter schools. These schools will drain money from public schools.
And then there are all of those executive orders that Gov. Matt Bevin issued like he was spitting watermelon seeds. Such as his reorganization of the UofL Board of Trustees. The GOP-controlled legislature will have the power to make them official when it convenes next year.
It is landing that hurts, not the fall.•
Trump makes city hate again
Back in March, during Donald Trump’s rally in Louisville, whenever he saw a protestor at the Kentucky International Convention Center, he would stop speaking and yell, “Get’em outta’ here!”
Naturally, every time this led to people putting their hands on other people, when they had no business putting their hands on anyone. In one notable case that got national coverage, an older white man, pushed a young black woman for about 50 feet.
While the other instances generally involved people getting their signs grabbed, or being told to go home, the pushing of the black woman was one of the first (of several) instances of violence at a Trump rally. To refresh your memory, it was sandwiched between a reporter being choke-slammed and another dude getting sucker punched. It was clearly a profoundly-irresponsible and immature way for Trump to handle the protestors, who, at their worst, were merely hurting his fragile ego.
Dan Canon, one of a team of civil rights lawyers who took the marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, perphaps summed it up best. “What’s not difficult to tell, is that she’s being assaulted and the assaults appear to have been incited by Mr. Trump in the first place,” the Louisville lawyer told WLKY. “What you have on the video is not people acting in self defense: It’s essentially a white mob shoving a black woman out and assaulting her, basically.” •
Confederate statue removal exposed sewer of racism
In the end, maybe moving Louisville’s Confederate Monument really was about providing a turning lane for the brandy-new Speed Art Museum, but debate over the relocation exposed ugly racial divisions in the city.
Who knew there is a group called Sons of Confederate Veterans? And who would want to admit he or she belonged to a group that celebrated, or at least memorialized, people who supported slavery?
Regardless, these dutiful sons were among plaintiffs who tried — unsuccessfully, ultimately — to stop the city from removing the 1895 memorial for Confederate War dead from its perch on Third Street in front of UofL. After the city prevailed in court, the statue was disassembled and now is being relocated to Brandenburg, Kentucky, some 40 miles from Louisville, where Mayor Greg Fischer noted that “it is close enough to visit.”
Ah, sure, Mr. Mayor. Be right over…
But to be fair to Fischer, it was he and former UofL President James Ramsey who finally made the decision to move the memorial after many years of demands to do so. The cynics at LEO suspect Ramsey’s involvement was his last, desperate attempt to make a case for staying on as president, but that is another story.
Credit must be given to Ricky Jones, a LEO contributor and chairman of the UofL Department of Pan-African Studies who re-energized the relocation campaign when he wrote a Courier-Journal column, making an impassioned, elegant argument for removing the statue. Among his points, he said the Confederate battle flag, statues and other symbols of the Confederacy “are representations of hate, emptied-out ideas of racial superiority, inhumanity and devilishness.”
Upon announcing the fate of the statue, Fischer and Ramsey proclaimed that its relocation would continue the “march toward greater racial harmony for Louisville.”
In reality, however, it lifted the lid on a sewer of fetid racist debate that even those defending the Confederate sons could not stand. Their attorneys asked to drop one of the clients, Everett Corley, a defeated Republican congressional candidate after he called Jones “the black Rasputin” and “a damn dirty black bastard” on Facebook, first reported by Insider Louisville.
Jones said such remarks and attacks were common in the weeks after his column. He wrote in The CJ that an emailer had told him: “You can’t change or hide history. F– you. F– your momma. F– your dog!” Another said, “In my world, you’d be back to picking cotton where you belong. Your [sic] about as qualified to be a professor as my dog. Day will come when all you low level bums are back on the plantation. GO TRUMP!!!!!”
Compassionate City, indeed. •
Blocked road project, recorded phone call and lies, a Bevin legacy
The Nazis must have been certain they were going to win, because why else would they keep such precise records of their horrific deeds? Richard Nixon infamously kept tapes of his meetings in the Oval Office, and his stooges tried to install bugs in the Watergate Hotel.
Former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, the first Republic governor since 1971, was undone by a collection of emails and memos tying his administration to state job-hiring hijinks.
And now Kentucky’s latest GOP governor, Matt Bevin, has been recorded on the phone issuing a veiled threat to a lawmaker who refused to switch his party from Democrat to Republican.
“I want to make sure you understand, uh, where, where things are in my mind, and the decisions that I’m going to make, uh, in the days ahead, the weeks ahead, months ahead,” Bevin told state Rep. Russ Meyer of Nicholasville. “I want you to be very aware of what the impact of those decisions will be as it relates to you, your seat, your district, etc., uh, just so that we have all the cards on the table.”
Not long after, Bevin’s administration canceled an $11-million road project in Meyer’s district.
At the time, Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto (who went to work on President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign) told The Courier-Journal that Meyer was playing politics and, actually, former Gov. Steve Beshear was to blame for the project’s demise.
But this was not the only time Bevin was accused of bullying a lawmaker in an effort to get him to switch parties.
Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, told the CNHI News Service that Bevin threatened him, allegedly saying that if he did not join the GOP, “I’ll do everything in my power to get you beat and take you down.” And then voters in Sinnette’s district began receiving recorded phone calls implying Sinnette supports abortion and asking them to pressure him to switch parties. Sinnette opposes abortion.
Regarding Meyer, the Republicans and Bevin were unable to take his seat in the last election. But they defeated House Speaker Greg Stumbo — who was leading an investigation into Meyer’s allegations. That probe is likely to die when the 2017 legislative session starts and Stumbo leaves office.
For his part, Bevin called Meyer a “habitual liar” and said: “Lying is lying, and it should be called out.”
Unless the proof is in the tape. •
Amiri King and the troll nation, a new America
When LEO stripped Amiri King in October of first places in the Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Comedian and Best Blog because he condoned Donald Trump’s pussy-grabbing comment and joked about violence toward minorities, we expected some blow-back.
What we did not count on were King’s millions of YouTube and Facebook troll-bots deluging our social media pages and website with thousands of the most vile, misguided and ridiculous posts.
As if they were all reading from the same alt-right (what we call alt-Reich) playbook, the majority of commenters focused on whether we at LEO are “libtards,” “carry a purse,” could make them “sammiches” and understood the First Amendment and freedom of the press. More about that later.
Ostensibly, it all was highly amusing, boosted clicks on our website, increased likes on our Facebook page and proved to our core readers that LEO will not be a platform for people who support violence, regardless of whether they vote for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or Michail Maus.
But from the 5,000-foot view, we were disturbed and disheartened by what we saw. We began to understand that the nature and virulence of the attacks on LEO were reflections of the much larger issue: Discourse in America has sunk to a new low level, at least during modern times. You must remember, an aide to Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a hermaphrodite, to which Adams’ campaign replied that Jefferson was “a mean-spirited low-lived fellow.”
But at least in contemporary times, one can argue that President-elect Trump’s unrestrained use of ad hominem attacks and shotgun-style insults has emboldened people to act like him (“‘We have some bad hombres, and we’re going to get them out’”), or one might say that Trump is simply an example of the problem, like a pimple caused by an infection. Either way, the response was illuminating and brought home to us in Louisville, a majority-blue burg, what we can expect for the next four years, if not longer.
Can the country revert? Can uncivil discourse become civil again?
Regarding the specifics of attacks on LEO, they also exposed perhaps a more profound problem facing America: an anti-intellectual, anti-science movement in which credibility of once-trust institutions has been eroded and replaced with whoever speaks loudest and with fewest syllables. Fake news, propaganda and outright lying by candidates is the norm. Most troubling, however, is the lack of understanding of core principles of American democracy. For example, LEO was accused of having violated the First Amendment right to free speech by revoking King’s awards.
The First Amendment exists so that government cannot abridge free speech. A newspaper is under no obligation to print vitriol or anything, really. We at LEO granted King’s trolls the freedom of speech to post on our Facebook page and website, and we did not remove a single comment. We could do that because, well — freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press. •
Bevin uses Twitter, YouTube and selfies as bully pulpit
Before there was President-elect Donald Trump, Kentucky had its own unprepared, unqualified, unpredictable, self-righteous head of state, Matt Bevin — who also tweets like a teenager.
It makes sense, though, that these two self-aggrandizing, self-important, social media-lites, who love to hear themselves talk are taking their vanity straight to the people, with selfies, YouTube videos and 140-character-platforms.
Why go to the bully pulpit when you can bully from right here on your phone?
Bevin’s affinity for tweeting selfies from around the state is reminiscent of “Where’s Waldo” — a lost explorer, surrounded by lunatics and chaos… but there he is, waving at the camera.
Here is a rundown of Waldo’s… er, Bevin’s year online:
Videos: Bevin kicked off his first legislative session by making a video, lying that House Democrats were not working… when they were doing their job just across the street.
Recently, Bevin has been producing Trump-esque videos from behind the boss’ desk, delivering inspirational messages about Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree in the Capitol Rotunda (pointing out that this will be a Christmas tree, and no other holidays will be included in the arbor celebration.) Bevin ended up skipping the tree ceremony because he was at a Trump thank-you rally in Cincinnati.
Selfies: The vanity of the selfie-obsessed governor is impossible to ignore. For Bevin detractors, the self-snapped smirk reinforces our preconceptions: Some are actually funny, and some are infuriating, but, above all, they’re crazy! They are exactly what we would expect from someone who does not know what he is doing, while being certain he is right. They reflect his view of the world that is zealously mid-20th century, Judeo-Christian-oriented and intentionally ignorant of science, opposing views and facts.
For his base supporters, I’m not sure what they see in these selfies. My experience with selfies is that only parents and spouses find them adorable, and that’s usually because you’re holding a grandchild or the family pet. Bevin’s creepy grin is too close to the camera to be the reassuring face his supporters are looking for from their governor.
Twitter: Ah… the special Matt Griswold Bevin gift that keeps giving is his use of the Twitter machine. Instead of rising above the social media clamor and being a statesman, Bevin has made Twitter their bully-pulpit of choice. Like Trump, he has used Twitter to impart important and not-important information with no risk of being asked a question. This has included: responding to rulings in lawsuits against him, criticizing football referees, defending stripping away Medicaid for 440,000 Kentuckians, smearing Democrats and disseminating propaganda.
If it seems as though Bevin has grown into his position — stopped tweeting and started governing — you’ve probably just been blocked … because he will never… stop… tweeting.
Any time, day or night, Bevin haunts the Commonwealth with his 140-character quips and comments. •
Gov. matt Bevin, make Kentucky Judeo-Christian again
Doubling down on the vile, blurred church and state lines that landed Kentucky national attention with Kim Davis last year, Gov. Matt Bevin this summer engineered tax incentives of as much as $18 million for the Ark Encounter — a “life-sized” replica of Noah’s biblical ship.
But, before we get to Bevin’s role in how your future tax dollars will be spent on the replica of a wooden ship with animatronic dinosaurs, a little backstory: The project was well underway by the time Bevin was elected, dating back to 2010, when then-Gov. Steve Beshear and the state government initially embraced the incentives. After the prospective park ran into financial trouble and came back to the state with a smaller project, Bob Stewart, secretary of Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, rejected the Ark Park’s application in 2014, claiming the once-seemingly-secular idea had veered too much toward religious propaganda. That’s when Answers in Genesis, the operator of the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, filed a federal lawsuit, and U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled in favor of the park, saying that “…allowing (Answers in Genesis) to participate along with secular applicants cannot be viewed as acting with the predominant purpose of advancing religion.”
This opened the door for Bevin: In April, he replaced four members of the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, which approved the incentives a week later.
So, here we are, reimbursing the cost of building a massive wooden ship that is based on a literal interpretation of a Christian parable, while being told there’s no breach between church and state. Instead of arguing, we’ll just end on two quotes, the first one from Answers in Genesis overlord Ken Ham, and then from Bevin.
“The reason we are building the ark is not as an entertainment center,” Ham told the New York Times in June. “I mean it’s not like a Disney or Universal, just for anyone to go and have fun. It’s a religious purpose. It’s because we’re Christians and we want to get the Christian message out.”
And from Bevin:
“… [W]e’re going to start to reward the types of things that we know the cornerstone of a good, civilized society and a successful society are based on,” Bevin told a Courier Journal reporter on the night the Republicans swept the State House. “We’re going to return to the true Judeo-Christian principles that this nation was founded on. We’re not going to be apologetic for the values that made this state and this nation great.” •