Berry Craig: Washington’s biggest ever birthday bash in Louisville?

Nobody from the Louisville Courier-Journal hoisted the Stars and Stripes ceremoniously at the old Jefferson County courthouse on Washington’s birthday.

“With Kentucky firmly entrenched in the Union, I don’t feel the need to raise the flag,” said Joel Christopher, the C-J’s executive editor.

Nonetheless, on Feb. 22, 1861, two of the Falls City’s most famous newspaper editors teamed up to hoist the Red, White and Blue in honor of the Union and its first president.

George D. Prentice and John H. Harney ran Old Glory up the rooftop flagpole to signal that “Kentucky is true and loyal, and by the blessing of Heaven and under the precepts of Washington, she will be the last State to leave the Confederacy,” the Louisville Journal reported.

By “Confederacy,” the Journal meant the Union. Kentucky rejected secession.

Prentice was the Journal’s editor. His seated stone statue is a landmark in front of the Louisville Free Public Library, 301 York St.

Harney was editor at the long gone Louisville Democrat.

Louisville was a unionist bastion during the Civil War. Prentice’s paper was the state’s most influential pro-Union organ. The Democrat, the Journal’s erstwhile rival, was also staunchly anti-Confederate.

No fewer than 50,000 people gathered to cheer the ceremonial flag raising at the multi-columned stone courthouse, according to the Journal and Democrat of Feb. 23. The 1837-vintage building at 527 W. Jefferson St. became Louisville Metro Hall after the city and county governments merged.

Local unionists were probably ready to whoop it up on Washington’s birthday in 1861. The Union-majority General Assembly recessed on Feb. 11 after refusing to put Kentucky out of the old Union and into the new Confederate States of America.

“Hurrah for our last Legislature!” the Democrat exulted on Feb. 14. “They have acted nobly in the present crisis.”

The Journal described the courthouse festivities as “an exhibition of loyalty” unprecedented in the history of Louisville, population 68,000 in 1860. “‘From early morn till dewy eve’ salvos of artillery were firings salutes; from all the houses of our prominent citizens flags of all sizes were displayed, and it was curious to observe how the home constructed banners crowded their fields to bring in every star of the thirty-four in the constellation.”

By Feb. 22, seven southern slave states had seceded. Kentucky was one of eight slave states still loyal.

Too, flag festooned farm wagons rolled into Louisville for the birthday celebration. “Enthusiastic patriots” crooned “Hail Columbia” acapella and chorused “The Star Spangled Banner” to music provided by “Haupt’s fine band.”

Smartly-uniformed Kentucky State Guard companies drilled and paraded under the watchful eye of Inspector Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, who commanded the militia.

Companies included the “Hunt Guards,” led by Capt. Clarence J. Prentice, son of the Journal chief.

The throng “continued to swell and increase until the hour appointed for the grand ceremonial of the day, and each heart seemed hushed in anxiety for the moment to arrive,” the Journal recounted.

At 2:30 p.m., Maj. William E. Woodruff of the hometown “Independent Zouaves” and Capt. David C. Stone’s Louisville Battery lined up in front of the courthouse.  The Zouaves fired three musket volleys; the Rev. Dr. James Craik of the Episcopal Church said a prayer and James Speed delivered a passionate Union speech.

“We have come together this day with a two-fold purpose—one to celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of Washington, the other to erect over this public building the flag of our country, the cherished emblem of our nationality,” explained Speed, a friend of President Abraham Lincoln.

Speed proceeded to read from Washington’s Farewell Address. (Farmington, the Speed family’s antebellum brick home at 3033 Bardstown Rd. is a museum.)

After Speed’s remarks, Prentice and Harney “assisted by four ladies,” climbed onto the roof and unfurled the huge flag. “The glorious banner streamed to the breeze of as lovely a vernal day as Providence ever breathed upon the earth,” the Journal said.

“As the gorgeous folds were unlocked the flag dipped toward the Northwest, as if to salute Illinois, then to the Northeast in comity to Ohio, and finally settled down pointed from due South to North to our brethren of Indiana.”

Below, “such an acclaim of hands and hearts it has never been our good fortune to hear before. From every roof-top, from the windows of the Court-house, Engine-houses, and private residences rose up the glad shout as the mother flag flashed upon the sight.”

The Journal also noted that the Stars and Stripes were also fluttering over the offices of the Journal, the Democrat and the Anziger, a staunchly unionist German-language paper.

From the start of the war in April, 1861, to its end four years later, Kentucky—and Louisville—furnished many more men to the North than to the South. Woodruff and Stone volunteered for the Union army.

But Buckner, from Hart County, became a Confederate general. Prentice was a Rebel cavalry officer.

Like many Kentucky families, the Prentices were divided. George stuck by the Union, though his wife, Harriette, was a Rebel sympathizer. Clarence’s kid brother, William Courtland Prentice, also joined the Confederate cavalry.

William Courtland was mortally wounded in battle; Clarence survived the war.

Apparently, Old Glory didn’t grace Walter N. Haldeman’s Louisville Courier on Feb. 22, 1861. Rabidly secessionist, Haldeman battled Prentice and Harney word-for-word until September, 1861, when federal authorities closed the Courier as treasonous.

Haldeman fled Louisville to avoid arrest. He published his paper behind Confederate lines in Bowling Green and elsewhere in the South but came home after the war and restarted the Courier.

In 1868, he bought out the Journal and the Democrat. The new paper was the Courier-Journal.

At any rate, Haldeman’s Courier of Feb. 23 put the crowd size at 30,000, adding that many people crossed the Ohio River from New Albany and Jeffersonville, Ind. The paper said the flag raising was in honor of Washington, “that great and good man, and should not be accepted, as we fear it will in the North, as unconditional submission to a Union of injustice and inequality.”

But “a more imposing demonstration has never been witnessed in Louisville,” the Courier conceded.

On the other hand, the Democrat was fulsome in its praise of the program. “The natal day of George Washington was chosen with peculiar aptitude for the elevation of the national ensign upon our magnificent Court-house, and every citizen, no matter what were his former political associations, who still remained loyal to the flag of his country, could not be but filled with patriotic emotions.”

Added Christopher: “As a native-born Wisconsinite, though, I was pleased to see two newspaper editors led the pro-Union event. Conversely, I was disappointed to read the Courier’s editor was a secessionist.”

— Berry Craig is an emeritus profess or history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and the author of six books on Kentucky history including True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo and Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase.

Berry Craig: A “Moral Monday” for Kentucky?

Daniel Boone trudged many wilderness miles from North Carolina to help found Kentucky.

Should the Kentucky Democratic Party’s slog from the political wilderness start from where Dan’l departed?

In charting the KDP’s uncertain future, party brass might look to the Tar Heel State for some guidance, suggests Daniel Lowry. He’s the KDP communications director.

“North Carolina was in the same boat we’re in. The Republican governor, House and Senate started wreaking havoc and started hurting the people. The people stood up for what was morally right. They started having protests.”

The protests morphed into “Moral Monday.” The grassroots, multi-racial, multi-issue progressive movement played a big role in tea party Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s defeat by moderately conservative Democrat Roy Cooper.

Moral Monday is nonpartisan. But many Democrats embraced it.

Anyway, after election day, Lowry erased the white marker board in his office at KDP headquarters in Frankfort. He grabbed a blue felt tip pen and wrote, “LET’S TALK ABOUT A MORAL AGENDA.”

The symbolism is hard to miss. Having wiped his slate clean, the Georgetown resident is ready for the KDP to start fresh.

So is Daniel Hurt, 23, one of the youngest members of the KDP Executive Committee. The western Kentuckian from Grand Rivers is all in for a Kentucky version of Moral Monday.

Hurt, who also chairs the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee, points out that Moral Monday has deep roots in North Carolina’s faith community.

The movement’s leader is the Rev. William Barber, who is also president of the state NAACP.

“I am a member of a mainline Protestant church and I believe that you prove yourself through your actions,” said Hurt, a Methodist. “One of the best ways to do that is with public service, whether it’s in government or in the community. For example, you can advocate for universal health care and for social programs to help the less fortunate. These programs, these ideas, sure, are public policy areas, but they are appropriate ways of displaying your faith through action. People hear a lot of talk, but what is really important is that we put those words into actions.”

Meanwhile, there seems little the Democrats can do to stop the hard-right GOP juggernaut when the General Assembly convenes next month.

The Republicans hold a 27-11 Senate majority. Their House edge is 64-36. Thus, Lowry and Hurt concede that the Democrats’ comeback trail is likely to be rocky, steep and lengthy.

But a Moral Monday-like grassroots movement might be sprouting in Murray, where Hurt is a senior political science major at Murray State University.

A “March for Equality and Social Justice” is set for Jan. 21 to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington. Organizers include university faculty, students, union members, retirees, clergy and others.

The march, according to the group, “is a celebration of the principles of democracy, a demonstration of solidarity with the disenfranchised, and a demand of our government/leaders that they uphold the United States Constitution and be accountable to those principles of equality and justice for all.”

More information about the march is available from Peter Murphy via email at and Sarah Gutwirth at

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Berry Craig: Citizen Know Nothing

Dangerous immigrants loyal to an “inflated … despot” are endangering our country.

Determined to force their “false religion” and its “anti-Christian” law on America, these fanatical foreigners are “a foe to the very principles we embody in our laws, a foe to all we hold most dear.” They are “the chief source of crime in this country” to boot.

All that bigoted baloney might sound like a Donald Trump stump speech. But it’s stock Know-Nothing boilerplate from the 1850s.

The president-elect resurrected the hate and fear-mongering legacy of the Know-Nothings, a white, Protestant nativist party that made a big splash in my native Kentucky in the mid-19th century.

“Trump is using the same demagogic tactics,” said Duane Bolin, a Murray, Ky., State University historian and author. “The Know-Nothings appealed to nativism and fear, and Trump does that so well, too.”

The Know-Nothings were officially the American Party. Members were called “Know-Nothings” because they were supposed to reply — like Sgt. Schultz on “Hogan’s Heroes” — “I know nothing” to an inquiry about the party from a possibly hostile newspaper reporter or any suspicious stranger.

While neo-Know-Nothing Trump focuses his xenophobia on Muslims and Hispanics, Catholic German and Irish immigrants were the chief objects of Know-Nothing disaffection. Party members pledged “Eternal hostility to Foreign and Roman Catholic influence!”

The American Party swept Kentucky, my home state, on election day in 1855, when a nativist riot in Louisville left at least 19 men dead, according to the Kentucky Encyclopedia.

Know-Nothing mobs rampaged through German and Irish immigrant neighborhoods in the Falls City, murdering, beating, burning and looting. The violence went down in history as “Bloody Monday.”

Know-Nothings took control of city governments in Louisville, Lexington and Covington. The state elected a Know-Nothing governor, Charles S. Morehead. Know-Nothings captured both houses of the General Assembly and claimed six of the state’s 10 U.S. House seats, the encyclopedia says.

History, the subject I taught in a western Kentucky community college for two dozen years, records that seven other states elected Know-Nothing governors in 1855. Beyond Kentucky, 37 more Know-Nothings were elected to Congress, and five got U.S. Senate seats. Several mayors and dozens of city officials and state legislators belonged to the party.

Trump won nearly 63 percent of the Kentucky vote. He lost only two of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties—Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington).

The immigrant-bashing Trump will become the country’s 19th Republican president. Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, denounced Know-Nothing anti-immigrant bilge in no uncertain terms.

Trump is more proof, as if proof were needed, that the GOP of “Lincoln and Liberty, too,” is all but gone.

“I am not a Know-Nothing,” Abraham Lincoln declared in a famous 1855 letter to his friend, Joshua F. Speed of Louisville. “That is certain. How could I be?

“How can any one who abhors the oppression of Negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’”

The future Great Emancipator added, “We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

Ultimately, the Know-Nothings faded away and ended up on the trash heap of history, where they belong. There’s plenty of room for Trump, a big fan of Vladimir Putin-ruled Russia, in history’s landfill, too.

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Berry Craig: “We’re Fighting the Last Battle of the Civil War”

berry-craig-mugshot-for-pam-plattHistory books say the Civil War effectively ended on April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va.

“We’re fighting the last battle of the Civil War,” Rob Reiner said the other night on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

The director, producer, “All in the Family” immortal and liberal political activist was speaking metaphorically of Donald Trump’s election.

Trump detractors, and at least one defender, have compared the president-elect to George Wallace, Alabama’s segregationist governor who carried five former Confederate states when he ran for president in 1968.

Trump, too, sounds like Democrat Franklin Pierce, who was elected president in 1852. Anti-slavery Republicans slammed Pierce, a New Hampshire Democrat, as a craven “Doughface,” a Northerner who happily carried water for the pro-slavery, white supremacist South.

Anyway, more than a few Confederate battle flags fluttered above Trump yard signs and flapped at Trump rallies in Dixie and in border states like Kentucky, where I was born, reared and still live.

Trump pandered to bigotry harder than any presidential hopeful since Wallace, who won a quintet of  Kentucky counties 48 years ago: Bullitt, Christian, Fulton, Hickman and Todd. They went for Trump, as did all but two of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties–Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington).

Trump “is a classic American scaremonger tapping into recurrent white American anxieties,” wrote Slate’s Jamelle Bouie. “And while Trump has borrowed his ‘silent majority’ rhetoric from Richard Nixon, the man he most resembles is that era’s id, a demagogue who fed on the fear and anxiety of the 1960s and ’70s—George Wallace.”

Bouie added that Wallace-like, Trump “is an eruption of the ugliest forces in American life, at turns authoritarian, like the Louisiana populist Huey Long, or outright fascistic, like the Second Ku Klux Klan. And like all of the above, he’s brought the background prejudice of American life to the forefront of our politics, and opened the door to even worse rhetoric and action.”

A Wallace ally and a Wallace daughter also detect parallels between Wallace and Trump.

“It’s just a replay,” Charlie Snider, one of Wallace’s most trusted political aides, said to NPR’s Debbie Elliott. “We’re looking at a modern-day George Wallace.”

Snider backed Trump. Before the election, NPR reported that Peggy Wallace Kennedy, who supported Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, believed that Trump “is exploiting voters’ worst instincts, the way her late father once did. ‘They both were able to adopt the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters that feel alienated from government.'”

“It is very disturbing to think that the first African American president is followed by someone who is supported by the Ku Klux Klan,” Reiner said.

Pro-Trump “white nationalists” are “hanging on for dear life,” he added. They are “threatened by the idea that the country is moving away from them and is becoming more diverse.”

John Hennen, a retired Morehead, Ky., State University history professor, agrees with Reiner. So does David Nickell, a sociology and philosophy professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, where I taught history for two dozen years.

Hennen said the Fourth Estate, for whatever reason, largely downplayed racism as a significant factor in Trump’s appeal to whites. “The media mostly papered over it. ‘Oh, no, no,’ they said. ‘His supporters are misunderstood, they’re desperate—they’re not racists.’”

Not all Trump voters are racists, Hennen acknowledged. “But the people who were really serious about correcting what is structurally wrong with the economy supported Bernie Sanders,” who Clinton bested for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Nickell said the Trump movement mainly was fueled by “a backlash against changing demographics and cultural trends in society at large.”

That backlash was racially-tinged, according to Nickell. He said that the birther movement, which Trump eagerly embraced and promoted–plus claims that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim–were “ways of saying he is an ‘other,’ and not one of us.”

Hennen agreed that the racist roots of the Trump campaign go “all the way back to when he helped lead the crusade to prove that Obama was a foreigner.”

Hennen, Nickell and Reiner recognize that many Americans believed—or wanted to believe—that Obama’s election meant white America had shed its racist roots, that the country was post-racial.

“If anything, [the Trump campaign] brought out what had been an undercurrent of racism all along,” Nickell said. “It brought it back to the surface.”

Trump denies he is a racist. “I’ve never met anybody who admitted he was a racist,” Nickell said. “I don’t really care if he is a racist personally, but racist groups embraced him,” Hennen said.

An official Ku Klux Klan newspaper backed Trump. Ex-Klan leader David Duke, who is still a pro-Nazi white supremacist, supported Trump’s candidacy. Duke called Trump’s election “one of the most exciting nights of my life.”

The white supremacists are still whooping it up –some giving Nazi-style salutes–over Trump’s win, though Trump has said he rejects them, the Klan, Duke and the whole hatemongering “alt-right.”

After the election, Trump told a group of New York Times editors and reporters, “I don’t want to energize the [alt-right], and I disavow the group,” wrote The Washington Post’s Olivia Nuzzi.

She added that “when Clinton delivered her speech about the alt-right in August, Trump responded not by disavowing the movement but by labeling her a bigot. And outside his post-election comments to the Times, Trump hasn’t specifically addressed the alt-right. He has never asked its members to stop photoshopping Jewish journalists into gas chambers in his honor.

“What’s more, he has often seemed to wink in their direction by deploying their rhetoric, with his talk of opposing ‘globalism,’ his repeated retweets of alt-right Twitter accounts and his use of imagery — such as a Star of David illustration — that originated on Nazi websites.”

Meanwhile, this retired reporter-turned-history prof is still hoping some TV talking head or newspaper scribe will yet ask Trump why he thinks so many racists–sexists, misogynists, anti-Semites and nativists, too–were attracted to his candidacy. If a journalist has popped that question, I missed it.

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Berry Craig: Some thoughts to warm Democrats as our winter of discontent approaches

berry-craig-mugshot-for-pam-plattKevin Wheatley of cn2 reported that Kentucky Democratic Party bigwigs did “a lot of soul-searching” at their election post-mortem in Frankfort Saturday.

Time will tell if the KDP Executive Committee and other party leaders find anything that might dull the Bluegrass State’s brighter-than-ever Republican Red hue.

Like most Kentuckians who belong to a union, I’m a Democrat. I’ve never missed an election since my first one in 1968, when I voted for Hubert H. Humphrey for president. I voted for every Democratic White House hopeful since, right through to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’ve never voted for a Republican at any level. Yep, I’m one of a vanishing breed in the Bluegrass State: a “yellow dog” Democrat.

I was born, reared and still live in Mayfield, about as far west as Kentucky goes. I belong to another endangered species: my politics lean decidedly left.

I am not a party insider; almost none of the party brass know me from Adam. I’m as far from KDP leadership as Mayfield is from Frankfort—261.4 miles, according to Google. But nobody is rooting harder for a Democratic comeback in Frankfort and Washington than I am.

Meanwhile, here’s a quote that might make KDP HQ a little less gloomy as the days shorten and the winter of our discontent approaches: “It is just at this point, when things look darkest for the Democrats, that you can count on the Republicans to do something that will save the day–that is, it will save the day for us.”

President Harry S. Truman said that in a speech in 1948, the year he was elected to his own term.

Anyway, I’m ready to wager that a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump will be sorry by the time the red buds bloom in Kentucky. I’m betting King Leer will prove to be the colossal fraud we tried to warn John and Jane Q Citizen that he is.

The country just might be awash in a tsunami of buyer’s remorse. Some of the flood might even inundate Kentucky, which he of the Tang-hued mane won “bigly.”

Besides smashing unions, Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s Trump, and his right-wing Republican legislature are all set to take a meat axe to public education and turn state government from a watchdog on behalf of workers, consumers and the environment, into a lapdog for polluters, sharpies and other well-heeled folks of “the public be damned” persuasion.

Kentuckians might not take kindly to any of that.

Anyway, HST also mused that “the Republicans think they have been so successful with their campaign of smears and character assassination that they have the Democrats on the run.”

Here’s where it really starts to get good: “We are getting a lot of suggestions to the effect that we ought to water down our platform and abandon parts of our program. These, my friends, are Trojan horse suggestions. I have been in politics for over 30 years, and I know what I am talking about, and I believe I know something about the business. One thing I am sure of: never, never throw away a winning program. This is so elementary that I suspect the people handing out this advice are not really well-wishers of the Democratic Party.”

Give ‘em Hell Harry was really on a roll: “Now, we can always rely on the Republicans to help us in an election year, but we can’t count on them to do the whole job for us. We have got to go out and do some of it ourselves, if we expect to win. The first rule in my book is that we have to stick by the liberal principles of the Democratic Party. We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don’t need to try it.”

He warned: “I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the Fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign. [Italics mine].

No doubt if Truman were alive, he would take Trump to task for shamefully pandering to prejudice: racism, sexism, misogyny, nativism and religious bigotry. “There is another thing we must stand firm on,” Truman said. “That is our pledge on the issue of civil rights. No citizen of this great country ought to be discriminated against because of his race, religion, or national origin. That is the essence of the American ideal and the American Constitution.”

So here’s this rank-and-filer’s plea to the KDP powers-that-be: It’s time to resurrect the party of FDR, HST and Lyndon B. Johnson–and Alben Barkley, Carl Perkins, Ned Breathitt and Wilson Wyatt.

Okay, charge me with living in the past. I am a retired community college history prof who writes books about Kentucky history.

But I’m ready for the KDP to return to its liberal–there, I said it–roots.

I’m ready for the leaders of my party to shout from the rooftops that nothing has done more for working stiffs and the least among us than activist social democratic government — as mirrored in FDR’s New Deal, HST’s Fair Deal and LBJ’s Great Society—in tandem with strong, free trade unions.

It’s time for Democrats to brag on Democratic successes like:

–Social Security and Medicare. GOP claims that they’re going broke are baloney and just an excuse to privatize or get rid of both programs, which most Republicans have fought tooth-and-nail all along.

— laws that guarantee workers the right to have a union, that establish a minimum wage and that provide unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The Republicans claimed all such was “creeping communism” and undermined the “free enterprise system”—meaning free of unions and of government stepping in to protect us from those FDR called “the malefactors of great wealth.”

— laws that mandate equal pay for equal work, protect the environment and protect worker safety and health on the job– more “radical” stuff, according to the GOP. (“What is right has always been called radical by those with a stake in what is wrong,” said an old McGovern for president poster of mine.)

— laws that prevent discrimination based on race, age, gender and sexual orientation. The Republicans long ago surrendered to the Democrats their historic role as the party of Lincoln, liberty and civil rights. The GOP is, especially in Kentucky and states farther south, what the Democrats in Dixie and the borderland used to be: mostly the white folks’ party.

In short, FDR, HST, LBJ, The Veep, Perkins, Breathitt and Wyatt were my kind of Democrats–Democrats who had faith in the notion that “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves.” The quote is often attributed to FDR, but Abraham Lincoln–he and FDR are my two favorite presidents–said it first.

Go ahead. Argue that Democrats who think like I do are unelectable beyond “liberal Louisville” and maybe parts of Lexington. (Jefferson and Fayette were the only counties that Clinton won.) But in Kentucky, Nov. 8 was more proof, as if proof were needed, that trying to out-Republican the Republicans, notably on the social issues, doesn’t work.

In another ’48 speech, Truman said,  “Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home — but not for housing. They are strong for labor — but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor a minimum wage — the smaller the minimum wage the better.

“They endorse educational opportunity for all — but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine — for people who can afford them.  They approve of Social Security benefits — so much so that they took them away from almost a million people….They consider electric power a great blessing — but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.

“They say TVA is wonderful — but we ought never to try it again….They think the American standard of living is a fine thing — so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.

“Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way — there is another way — the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party.”

in 2018, I’d love to hear more Kentucky Democrats sound more like the Man from Missouri on the stump from Sassafras Ridge to the banks of the Big Sandy and from Covington to the Black Jack Jog. Think it won’t fly outside the Falls City and the capital of the Big Blue Nation? Why not give it a try anyway? After all, where has Republican Lite gotten the Democrats in our state?

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Benham Sims: For the Love of a Teacher

TCarrhe person who has had the most profound impact on my life was a teacher. He is now battling stage four cancer and so many students who were touched by him are reaching out.

I was terribly shy in High School, my parents marriage was breaking up, it remains an ugly and profoundly sad period of my life. I was an at risk kid, but I had a special teacher who encouraged me.

This is what I wrote on his Facebook page:

As I was driving to work, I was thinking of the many lessons I learned in your class. I finally realized that the most important gift a teacher can provide is not knowledge or even wisdom, it is confidence. In reading the many posts of former students, I was struck by the love and shared belief that you profoundly changed the course of our lives because of the confidence you instilled in each of us.

Mr Carr, I was a shy, insecure, teenager when I met you. Now at 54, I can attest that my life has been full. I graduated college and law school including winning the scholarship for outstanding oral advocate;), tried cases, saved lives, won awards, written laws, presided over, prosecuted, and defended thousands of cases, served as a Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, and attended two National Democratic Conventions. I am married to a special woman, and the father of two wonderful young men. I have great friends who I love beyond words and have work that gives my life meaning.

I may not have achieved all my dreams but if anyone would have told me when I started Riverview-this was my future-I would have laughed and then cowered in fear. From a terrified teen whose shaking hands caused the papers to rustle so loud that other kids looked away in embarrassment with my first speech to a lawyer who values inappropriate ties, cufflinks, loud socks, humor and kindness over all other human attributes.

Your teaching showed us what we could be…..if we but tried. The love flowing to you now is only surpassed by the realization of how many lives you forever altered. Ron we love you, for the most basic of reasons, you showed your love and faith in us first.

My most prized possession are his words in my yearbook….can you even imagine what kind of teacher-what kind of person he must be to write something this kind to a strYearbookuggling young man. It has been 35 years and it still chokes me up. To my beloved friend and teacher:
Ron Carr

Clive Pohl: The Living Building Challenge: Visionary from the Start

Designers and builders have long looked to rating systems for “how-to” guidance on green building. From the early days of the current environmental movement they were intended to serve as recipes for improved performance and environmental stewardship. Looking back at the earliest iterations we see a snapshot in time that describes a tension between our desire to improve and the relentless influence of market forces.

Variation in the early standards were a reflection of their author’s priorities. Some were heavily influenced by corporate interests who professed a commitment to sound environmental practices – until it impacted their bottom line. Some positioned themselves just ahead of the marketplace in a mission to gently lead economic transformation while others, in recognition of a rising carbon count, ignored economic constraints and advocated for a leap toward true sustainability. They embraced the notion that a “sustainable” marriage would never be good enough. Perceived as too expensive these standards were mostly ignored.

Though they all sought popular embrace it was, of course, impossible for one standard to provide universal satisfaction. After all, much of the construction industry held fast to the notion that a market economy is America’s only true core value.

As the aughts became the teens the plight of the polar ice caps entered mainstream consciousness, catastrophic weather patterns became increasingly commonplace, and our complicity in climate change more widely accepted. Jurisdictions around the country began to embrace legislation requiring credible compliance, building codes were rewritten to reflect increased urgency, and an army of skeptics (from architects and engineers to general contractors and their subs) had no choice but to hook up to the bandwagon. Even reluctant manufacturers began to recognize the value in environmental branding and compliant materials became increasingly affordable. The marketplace was transforming.

Rating systems, too, evolved to reflect this new economic paradigm and while consensus remains a distant target it is safe to say that they are becoming increasingly alike. They are, in fact, learning from and moving toward the most ambitious and visionary standard, the one that never allowed economic forces to dictate: the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Launched in 2006 the uncompromising principles described by the LBC attract the curiosity of the others with a gravitational pull commensurate to the ever-widening recognition that we have run out of time to simply reduce our environmental impact. In fact, the extent of our past misdeeds demand that we must, as quickly as possible, learn how to build environments that surpass sustainability by replenishing and recharging our resources. Anything less would be like approving spousal abuse as long as it is “occasional”.

Utilizing the metaphor of a flower the LBC posits that buildings should, like flowers, be rooted in place, harvest all of their energy and water on site, be entirely pollution free, and support the larger community through equity and inspiration. These are principles that were inconceivable to the earliest rating system authors and, yet, they represent a target that has been certifiably attained by 25 industry leaders with many more closing in.

Organized by seven “Petals” and 20 subset “Imperatives” the LBC standard further expands the definition of minimum requirement by going beyond the usual standards. It insists that our built environment should

  1. Give Back. Net POSITIVE water, energy and waste means that these buildings are providing energy and water for others and putting waste back into productive use.
  2. Reconnect. Biophilic design principles seek to right a long standing imbalance  by encouraging daily connection with nature. We spend 90% of our lives indoors. Even our neighbor’s access to nature cannot be impeded.
  3. Inspire. Recognizing the value of both sides of the brain the standard encourages an embrace of design elements solely for human delight – alongside the analytics that ensure efficient performance.
  4. Respect. By creating built environments that uphold the dignity of all members of society regardless of their physical or economic capacity the LBC aims to harness the power of transparency as a force for social change. Some LBC programs worthy of further exploration: the JUST Program for social justice, the DECLARE Label for chemical toxin transparency and the new Equitable Offset Program which accumulates funds to provide renewable energy infrastructure for charitable enterprises.

Beyond continued advocacy one can only give thanks to visionaries like co-creator Jason McLennan who chose to see beyond the allure of the almighty dollar and to believe that humanity can, if so informed, live in a “socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative” manner. While this is clearly easier said than done, the way is being paved and the rest of must simply face the right direction and place one foot in front of the other.

David Host: Kentucky’s Unnecessary Trauma

David HostKentucky county clerk Kim Davis sits in jail today because Governor Steve Beshear and his staff appear to have overlooked a 76-word statute.

I do not condone Ms. Davis’ apparently willful violation of a federal court order. Nor do I agree with her stated position that she has a constitutional right to ignore any of her duties as a public official. Nevertheless, a cursory review of KRS §402.080 – the Kentucky law which authorizes county clerks to issue marriage licenses – shows that Ms. Davis possesses no power to issue marriage licenses to anyone. Indeed, it appears reasonably clear that none of

Kentucky’s 120 county clerks have that authority until the Kentucky legislature amends the statute to contain gender-neutral language.

The text of KRS §402.080 states as follows:

“Marriage license required — Who may issue.

“No marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the county in which the

female resides at the time, unless the female is eighteen (18) years of age or over or a widow, and the license is issued on her

application in person or by writing signed by her, in which case it may be issued by any county clerk.”

Under the express terms of KRS §402.080, “the female” must apply for a marriage license before a county clerk “shall” issue a marriage license; and the statute further declares that “[n]o marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor.” Although the U.S. Supreme Court did not strike down this statute directly two months ago, KRS §402.080 is certainly unconstitutional within the meaning of its decision. Thus, it appears that Kentucky has operated without a valid marriage statute since the date of the Court’s decision.

Although I remain a dedicated member of the “loyal opposition,” I believe that Steve Beshear is an able and honorable man who has served as one of my native state’s better governors during my lifetime. In general, he has thoughtfully put the interests of Kentuckians ahead of any other agenda – which is why I have been surprised and disappointed by his decisions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

The fundamental impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling was to strike down as unconstitutional any state marriage law which expressly restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. Yet, the Court does not have the authority to reach into any state and write a replacement statute. Thus, each state had an obligation to immediately review its marriage statutes to determine if action by that state’s legislature might be necessary to implement the Court’s ruling.

Some states might have already had gender-neutral marriage laws on their books prior to efforts in recent years (through additional statutes or state constitutional amendments) to expressly define marriage as between persons of the opposite sex. In those states, no legislation was necessary for the Court’s ruling to go into effect immediately. In states like Kentucky, however – where the Court’s decision invalidated the core statute which authorizes marriage – legislative action seems essential in order to preserve anyone’s right to marry. As Governor Beshear has rejected bipartisan requests to call the Kentucky legislature into special session, a serious question exists whether any person has received a legally valid marriage license in Kentucky during the last two months.

As Kentucky’s chief executive, Governor Beshear’s critical responsibility following the Court’s ruling was to assess its specific impact upon Kentucky’s marriage laws, and determine what steps were necessary to bring those laws into compliance. Instead, he immediately instructed Kentucky’s county clerks – 120 independently elected constitutional officers – that they must begin issuing marriage licenses on a gender neutral basis, even though it seems that Kentucky law no longer authorizes them to issue any marriage licenses.

I respect the fact that having engaged in a good-faith effort to defend Kentucky’s existing marriage laws (to the extent that he hired outside counsel when Kentucky’s attorney generalrefused to proceed with an appeal), Governor Beshear wants to move beyond this issue. I further understand his concerns about the cost to Kentucky taxpayers of calling a special legislative session – particularly when that special session is almost certain to feature lengthy and acrimonious debate regarding how to implement a U.S. Supreme Court decision with which a significant majority of Kentuckians appear to disagree.

Yet, I cannot perceive how Governor Beshear has any choice under the existing state of Kentucky law. Moreover, a special session would allow the legislature to formulate “conscientious objector” provisions which excuse county clerks whose religious beliefs prevent them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Perhaps most important, this measure would end the trauma associated with Kim Davis and the stance she has felt compelled to take.

At some point, the absence of immediate corrective legislation could cost Kentuckians far more than the expenses associated with a special legislative session.


Eli Mitchell: Harvard Football Doesn’t Stop

eli mitchellHarvard’s football players have been challenged for over 100 years to balance not only academic excellence, but excellence on the field as well. Even during the summer, over 40 players stay in Cambridge to work out and either attend summer school or work a full-time job.

“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication,” said senior defensive back Sean Ahern. “It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”

Most upperclassmen are working a 9 to 5 job during the summer, while underclassmen take summer courses to help ease the load during the school year.

“You have to be better at time management during the season, because you have all this time that is technically free but it’s really not,” Ahern said.

Weekdays begin at 5:15 am with workouts run by Strength and Conditioning Coach James Frazier and the training staff, according to Ahern. These workouts include a lift, agilities, and conditioning exercises.  Head Coach Tim Murphy and all of the position coaches are not allowed to be at summer workouts due to NCAA rules.

Ahern said that he thinks “it’s a good thing; whatever we want to put in is what we are going to get out. We usually put in a lot of work.” The team’s senior leaders additionally organize workouts in the afternoon. Ahern said he believes that the work being put in now will pay off come September 19th, when Harvard will begin their season playing the University of Rhode Island.

The summer is not much different when you’re not on campus as a Harvard football player, with working and working out still a player’s top priorities. Jacob Mayes, a sophomore linebacker from Memphis, Tennessee stayed at home for the summer session. His days are spent much like they would be if he was at Harvard, working out and working a full time job.

Mayes has focused his time on recovering from a back injury, with a goal of being healthy when the players are expected to report back on August 19. Mayes looks forward to reuniting with his teammates in Cambridge. “All the times in the locker room are just the best, being around everyone,” he said.

Ahern will be looking to replicate his standout junior season, although he didn’t set any specific goals for the summer other than “getting in the best shape possible.” He was awarded first team all Ivy League for his play during Harvard’s undefeated 2014 season, along with 37 solo tackles and with two pass breakups.

“There’s nothing more special than Harvard-Yale especially last year, with college gameday, that was the pinnacle of my football career,” he said.

“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”

Eli Mitchell: Patrick Towles – the Key to Kentucky’s Success

eli mitchellThroughout the year, Mark Stoops has been adamant that the quarterback competition is still ongoing. The competition features redshirt freshman Drew Barker and redshirt junior Patrick Towles. Throughout UK’s fifteen spring practices both quarterbacks took reps with the first and second teams. Coach Stoops has admitted that Towles has the advantage over Barker but would still not name him the starting quarterback. If Stoops wants to see improvement in SEC play, he needs to name Patrick Towles the starting quarterback.

Patrick Towles comes from legendary Highlands High School where he started for three years and won three state championships along with Mr. Football honors his senior year. During his freshman season at Kentucky he played in five games completing 19 of 40 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. He had some impressive moments but when Stoops arrived in Lexington the following season Towles was redshirted. Towles was devastated like most people would be, but he decided to make the most of it. The following spring he showed the staff that he had developed into an SEC caliber quarterback. He was named the starter in fall camp over Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.

Towles had some impressive moments during Kentucky’s 2014 season, he threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. He showed his leadership in big games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. Some of his decision making against Louisville was questionable but after another year of maturing, Towles is ready for the next step. With playmakers all around him, it should be easy for Towles to put up big numbers this season. Look for Garret Johnson, Dorian Baker, and Ryan Timmons to fill bigger roles. If Coach Stoops and staff want to improve their record from last year they need to rally around Patrick Towles because of his maturity and leadership.

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show