This has been one of the most intensely watched elections in recent memory. People who normally don’t vote are registering. Young people are getting involved. Seniors, who are usually active in elections, are even more active this time around. Many in the media are coming out and openly supporting Obama. I think the reason has little to do with having out first bi-racial Presidential candidate or having a woman for Vice President, though that certainly plays into it (both candidates lack a strong economics or foreign affairs, but at least Palin is going for the number two spot on the ticket). People see two ongoing wars which are on going to nowhere and they want both over with now. True, the surge in Iraq is working but isn’t time for the Iraqi people to run their own government, and how long will we be propping up the government in Afghanistan? Shouldn’t they too be running their own show by now?
Yes, we all know the war on terror will continue, perhaps indefinitely, but how is it that we can track one cow in another country with mad cow disease right down to its stall and yet we can’t find a six foot Moslem terrorist with the face like a horse who needs dialysis? How many dialysis machines are there in the region that we can’t monitor? It almost seems like someone wants Bin Laden roaming around like the proverbial bogyman to frighten boys and girls into more military funding and tighter controls on freedom under the auspices of “national security”. But, who knows? Maybe I just don’t see the big picture.
Then there is illegal immigration and people refusing to speak English. Remember those? For months they made headlines, and nowadays nada (sorry, couldn’t resist). It’s still an issue to be sure. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that in 2006, there were 10.4 million illegals in America. The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals estimated that as many as 210,000 illegals could become homeowners. How you might ask?
The Internal Revenue Service started issuing Individual Tax Payer Identification Numbers so folks like illegals could file federal tax returns (and I suppose become eligible for Social Security benefits). Some government functionary decided that it would be a good idea to accept these ITPAI numbers on home mortgages applications rather than social security numbers. And that’s how you achieve the American Dream without really trying. Oh, by the way, did you know that an estimated 73,000 of the home loans are likely to go bad? Yelp, that’s according to the Latino Affairs for the Center for Responsible Lending. Want to guess who gets to pick up the tab on those?
Then there is the economy. What can I say? It stinks and most people are pointing their fingers at Bush (though this has been building for a long time and both parties are to blame). The bailout is estimated to have a one trillion dollar price tag. 80% of the American people said “no” to picking up the bill for greedy corporate executives and their mismanaged companies. Washington said “yes” to their lobbyists and hailed it as an example of bipartisan cooperation. All I could think of was that Washington needed to be turned back into the swamp land it started out as. At least I know the ticks and other bloodsuckers haven’t left.
This brings me to my predictions for the upcoming elections. I’m no prognosticator. Some are based on conversations, examining polls, and seeing what other folks are saying. Others are based strictly on my gut instinct after 30+ years in politics.
Election Predictions for November 4, 2008
President: Obama over McCain by 55% to become America’s first bi-racial President.
US Senate: McConnell over Lunsford by 51% in what may be McConnell’s last race.
3rd Congressional: John Yarmuth over Anne Northup by 60+%. Anne just needs to get it out of her system and move on. How about a shot for Metro Mayor? We need some fresh ideas there.
19th State Senate: Shaughnessy over Heleringer. Interesting race. Heleringer is a tough opponent.
35th State Senate: Angel over Albers. Not much to watch on this one. Denny should win handily.
37th State Senate: Hawkins over Clark in close race. This is Perry’s toughest race ever. Perry will beg and plead for “one more chance” in good ole boy fashion. He lost touch with the folks in SW Jefferson County a long time ago.
29th House: Bratcher over Sexton in close race. Kevin should win this without to much trouble.
33rd House: Crimm over Galbraith handily.
34th House: Marzian over Pitzer handily
43rd House: DeWeese over Watson handily
4th Supreme Court Dist: Abramson over Shake in close race. By the way, I’ve noticed an awful lot of Shake signs in right of ways along Old 3rd Street and in Fairdale. Shouldn’t someone wanting to be chief judge at least follow the law? Signs in the right of ways were, the last I heard, illegal.
30th Judicial/ 4th Div: Kemper over Cunningham. Kemper is a good guy for the job.
30th Judicial/2nd Div: Smith over Vandertoll
30th Judicial/30th Div: Bowles hands down.
30th Judicial/16th Div: David Holton over Kathy King in close race. David Holton is the right person at the right time for this job.
Metro 4th: Tandy over Owens handily
Metro 10th: King over Shepherd
Metro 12th: Blackwell over Witten. Witten is good candidate. I hope he’s back in the future.
Metro 14th: Bob Heuglin over Bob Henderson in close race. This is a case of “good” Bob over “bad” Bob. I hope the residents of 14 get this one right.
Metro 16th: Kelly Downard over Art Hoffman with 60+%. When this one comes on, it would a good time for a kitchen break.
Metro 24th: Madonna Flood over Weddle.
Metro 26th: Honaker over Ackerson in a tight race.
A Reader Needs Help
Few things tick me off faster than someone defenseless, like seniors, kids, or the handicapped, being picked on by a bully, regardless of whether that bully is an individual, corporation, or government. One of our readers, Scott Romano of Georgetown, Kentucky is a good example. He’s trying to get some help for this handicapped daughter. Below is a letter he recently wrote to 4th District Congressman Geoff Davis. Perhaps some of you can lead a hand to Scott by contacting Mr. Davis’ office on his behalf. I’m sure Scott would appreciate any other help you can offer. Here’s the letter:
September 25, 2008
Mr. Geoff Davis
Congressman, 4th District of Kentucky
Fort Mitchell, KY 41017
Dear Mr. Davis:
The purpose of this letter is to document our recent experience with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and request some changes in the laws in Kentucky regarding the services for handicapped residents of Kentucky.
I am the father of a profoundly mentally handicapped daughter, Lisa, who is now 24 years old. Lisa and I relocated from California to Kentucky after meeting a wonderful woman in 2007. Tina (my wife) and I were married in Georgetown, KY in May of this year.
I took full physical custody of Lisa about 5 years ago. One year later, her mother passed away leaving me as the sole caretaker. Before we left California, I had fought the state and county system there in order to get adequate services for Lisa. Three times we appeared before an administrative judge – three times the judge ruled in our favor stating on one occasion “this parent is doing everything he can to prevent institutionalization of his daughter.”
Before coming to Kentucky, we did some basic research and were able to locate an adult day care center in Georgetown (Active Day Center) that we toured in December. Finding this daycare was a tremendous blessing for us. While I settled down in Georgetown, my wife or I transported Lisa to and from her daycare. This transportation service was provided free in California without having to go to court.
Once I began working and commuting to Winchester, we requested basic transportation services for Lisa to and from her daycare (about 8 miles away). The Transportation Cabinet denied us. In the denial letter, they quoted from Kentucky Law as follows:
“A Medicaid-eligible recipient may receive non-emergency medical transportation services if the recipient meets the following conditions:
a. The recipient is traveling to or from a Medicaid-covered service…
b. The service is determined to be of a medical necessity; and
c. Free transportation which is appropriate for the recipient’s medical needs is not available or use of an appropriate and operational household vehicle is not available.”
907 KAR 3.066 section 3
We were denied because we have an operational car in our household! The Transportation Cabinet believes that it is our responsibility to transport our handicapped adult to a Medicaid-approved facility.
We then proceeded to an administrative hearing with a judge to decide. This hearing was held on August 11, 2008 in Georgetown at 9am. Present at this hearing was the Honorable Administrative Law Judge David Wicker, my wife and I and our daughter Lisa. The Transportation Cabinet failed to show up. At 9:45am, Judge Wicker issued a default judgment recommendation on behalf of Lisa. We thought that was the end of this issue and transportation would begin shortly.
However, Kentucky law provides for an appeal within 15 days. Much to our amazement, on the 15th day, we received a certified letter from Mr. Jeremy Thompson, Administrative Branch Manager with the Office of Transportation Delivery, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. This letter was an exception to the recommended dismissal issued by Judge Wicker. In this letter, Mr. Thompson states that they have further investigated our household and take exception to the possibility that we have two vehicles. By further investigation, Mr. Thompson means that someone from the transportation department drove to our house and wrote down all the car license numbers in our driveway or parked near our house. How scary is that? What country does Kentucky reside in?
On August 26th, we received a letter from Mr. Thompson stating that, in order to exclude any vehicles in our household, we would have to provide either:
1. A mechanics statement that our vehicle(s) are in operational. These statements would be valid for ONLY 30 days and that a maximum of 3 mechanic statements per vehicle may be submitted each year. (I guess after that, we push the car to her daycare and back.)
2. A statement from our employers or school (my wife is an on-call substitute teacher and taking college classes) listing work hours, school hours, and school schedule. This statement would have to be renewed every 3 months.
We absolutely refuse to jump though hoops for the Transportation Cabinet in order to secure basic transportation services for a profoundly mentally handicapped ADULT citizen of Kentucky; services that we believe are federally mandated by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
Today, I spoke to the Secretary’s Office for the Department of Health and Family Services and was advised that the Secretary has denied the exception appeal filed by the Transportation Cabinet. We have services. But for how long? If we replace one of our cars (both have in excess of 100,000 miles), will we be faced with another court hearing to deny services? When can we expect another “visit” from the Transportation Cabinet?
The Crux of Our Issue
Lisa is an adult. The federal government recognizes this. Why does the state of Kentucky consider her my responsibility? As a father, I love my daughter. All that I or any other parent of a mentally handicapped child asks is for some help. The truth of the matter is that, legally, I can turn Lisa over to the state of Kentucky and walk away. The state (and taxpayers) would have 100% responsibility for 24-hour/7 day a week care. Any idea how much that costs? On-line research puts the number at anywhere between $90 and $166 per day. Mentally Lisa is about 9 months to 1 year old. She is in diapers, cannot feed herself, and requires constant supervision so she does not hurt herself.
Today we read in the Georgetown newspaper, the News Graphic, where Kentucky lawmakers gave the head of a commission a raise of $62,000, bringing this “public servants” yearly pay to $195,000. And we cannot get basic transportation for our handicapped daughter. How is this fair? Perhaps, given the recent bribery issues with the Transportation Cabinet, I should have slid some Ben Franklin’s into someone’s hands. Is this the way Kentucky works?
Because we choose to NOT turn over our daughter to the state of Kentucky and allow the citizens and taxpayers of Kentucky to foot the entire expense of caring for Lisa 24/7, we are penalized. Now the entire burden falls upon us and we must battle the state of Kentucky for basic services.
The US Supreme Court ruled that unnecessary institutionalization of qualified individuals with disabilities is a form of discrimination under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and states (yes that includes Kentucky!) may not administer their public programs so that institutions are an individual’s only recourse (Rosebaum, 2005).
The more pressure Kentucky puts on our family – the closer Lisa is to institutionalization.
This “law” needs to be changed. It needs to be reworded to clarify that the Medicaid recipient UNDER 18 must meet those qualifications. When Lisa was under 18, the entire burden was on me and I accepted that. She was still an under-aged child. Once she turned 18, I thought the law was on our side. In some instances it was. In others, it has been a battle.
We need this law changed NOW before parents and caregivers like us are forced to turn our family members over to the state to care for.
I do not regret my decision to alter my life to care for my daughter. All we ask is that the state of Kentucky provide some assistance to assist us in preventing her from being institutionalized. As I stated in all my letters to the Transportation Cabinet, we are prepared to fight. To the bureaucrats, this is just a matter of money. They make a decision to deny services and they go home to their family. To us who are affected by these misguided decisions, we live with the consequences and realities of their decisions and wonder how we can survive the extra burdens placed on us.
The biggest fear of any parent of a mentally handicapped child is what happens to their child once they die. It is a thought that gives us nightmares and rips at our heart whenever we consider it. It is the reason why we push so hard, advocate so loudly, and fight so viscerally. We know that the services we receive now can lighten the load on us so that we can care for our handicapped child that much longer. This is a concern that the majority of parents never have to face.
On behalf of all the handicapped adults living in Kentucky and all the underage handicapped children who this current law will affect in the future, I ask that you do whatever is in your power to have this law rewritten to more reflect the reality faced by the parents of handicapped adults of Kentucky who choose to care for their handicapped child.
Mr. Davis, I truly hope that you will read this and take some action. I intend on sending a copy of this to the Governor, Senators, newspapers and a ton of people who blog on-line. The taxpayers of Kentucky need to know what their money is NOT being used for. There is no greater cause than to help those who cannot help themselves.
Scott Romano – father of Lisa Marie Romano
102 Lakeside Court
Georgetown, KY 40324
War in Iraq: George W. Bush
Accomplished? On May 1, President Bush triumphantly proclaimed the end of combat operations, and he did it with a theatrical flourish. Attired in a Navy flight suit, the former Air National Guard trainee (Bush had actually cut short his flight training to participate in a political campaign) landed ceremoniously on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln off San Diego. Bush emerged from the plane under a banner stretched across the carrier's super structure. "Mission Accomplished" the banner exulted. "We have difficult work to do in Iraq," the president said. "Parts of that country remain dangerous...The War on Terror continues." But, he went on, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
But a growing opposition thought otherwise. Rumsfeld had assured Bush that the war could be fought on the cheap. Once the productive Iraqi oil fields were up and running, they would more defray the costs of the war and the occupation. (As of spring 2008, Iraqi oil production was still below prewar output.) A streamlined military force brandishing high-tech equipment would be all that was needed. American forces could be reduced and hand off the job to Iraqis.
When Lieutenant General Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told Congress that "something in the order of several hundred thousand" military personnel would be needed, Rumsfeld was outraged. The Army's top officer was hounded into retirement. The Pentagon leadership pointedly refused to attend the customary retirement ceremony.
And Americans were dying. Bremer and the CPA, mostly made up of young and inexperienced recent college graduates but with impeccable political credentials, holed up in the heavily fortified and protected area of Baghdad, the Green Zone.
Beyond, chaos and danger reigned. Snipers picked off individual soldiers. Roads were sown with mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were designed to blow up and destroy the unprotected undercarriage of military vehicles when they passed over. Personnel carriers were only lightly armored, another money-saving policy. Besides, heavy armor was unnecessary, it was thought, with Iraq conquered and the population friendly. Troops took to fashioning their own armor from scrap metal or persuaded families back home to provide it to them.
The Bombing of a Shrine. When Baghdad fell, Saddam Hussein was nowhere to be found. As the coalition rounded up other former government leaders on their "Most Wanted" list, the supreme leader's whereabouts remained a mystery. Then, seven months after his statue fell in December 2003, a disheveled and filthy Hussein was discovered cowering in a tiny subterranean dugout -- a "spider hole," his captors called it -- near his birthplace of Tikrit. The all-powerful dictator who once had thirty-seven palaces was living in a few cubic feet underneath a mud hut. Bush immediately went on television to trumpet his capture, "I say to the Iraqi people, 'You will not have to live in fear of Saddam ever again.'" But elsewhere, there was little to crow about.
Even the commander of U.S. ground forces acknowledged that a "low-key, guerrilla-type war" was underway. Suicide bombers blew themselves up in marketplaces, city squares, offices, buses, and crowded streets, often taking as many as 100 fellow Iraqis with them. In one horrifying instance, 140 Shiites enjoying a Shia festival were blown up. Terrorist explosives reduced to rubble one of the most treasured shrines of Shia Islam, the Golden Mosque of Samarra with its gleaming dome, setting off a countrywide wave of violence between Sunnis and Shiites. Trying to quell the rising insurgency that was morphing into a civil war. U.S. troops fought pitched battles with Shiite militia in the teeming Sadr City district of Baghdad. A month later, they were fighting Sunni insurgents for the city of Falluja.
Misled by the Iraq National Congress's belief that Iraqis were united by their hatred of Hussein, American leaders had vastly underestimated the long standing enmity between the rival Muslim factions. Meanwhile Bremer had undertaken to exterminate root and branch all vestiges of Hussein rule. He outlawed Hussein's Baath party and barred all members from the government payroll, even low-level clerks and drivers who had joined the party simply to protect their jobs. "DeBaathification" eliminated much of the trained bureaucracy and brought normal government function to a standstill so that even mailing a letter became difficult.
Another Bremer edict disbanded the Iraqi army. Four hundred thousand angry trained soldiers were suddenly turned onto the streets with no jobs or income, to demonstrate or bitterly join the insurgency-where, at least, they would be fed.
The army was the only organization that could bring any kind of order to the country and perhaps stop the widespread looting, Bremer's predecessor, an appalled General Garner noted. "You can get rid of an army in a day, Jerry," he told Bremer. "It takes years to build one." (Bremer was to claim afterward that he didn't disband the army; it had simply "dissolved." And he said he took his action only after consulting the Pentagon.)
Despite these setbacks and growing antiwar sentiment, Bush was elected for a second term in 2004 and promised to prosecute the war until "victory." After the election, Powell went to the White House and submitted his resignation. He had, he insisted, always intended to serve only one term. Bush made no effort to keep him.
"We had a good and fulsome discussion," Powell said in a press briefing afterward. "We came to the mutual agreement that it would be appropriate for me to leave at this time." Washington interpreted that as diplomatic double speak for "We aired our disagreements in loud and angry voices."
Where are those WMDs? The bits of broken crockery that the "Pottery Barn Rule" had predicted continued to accumulate. David Kay, named to head a diligent search to find those hidden weapons of mass destruction, failed to turn up a single specimen after two years of looking. Nor could he uncover any evidence of any advanced plans to develop them. The best he could document were a few vials of anthrax powder kept in scientists' home refrigerators as souvenirs after the first Gulf War.
The aluminum tubes said to be designed for enriching and weaponizing uranium were actually for use in unforbidden short-range missiles. The deal to buy yellow-cake uranium from the African nation of Niger, mentioned by Bush in his State of the Union address, was a hoax. No evidence could be found of supposed meetings in Prague between Al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi diplomats.
Then came the revelation -- with graphic, almost stomach-turning photos -- that American soldiers had mistreated and tortured prisoners in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The Congressional cry to take the troops out grew to a roar. Democratic candidates swept the House and Senate in the 2006 elections. With Bush's popularity sinking to the low 20s in the polls, other Republicans stumbled over each other in haste to distance themselves from the president. Rumsfeld was finally fired, and the Iraq Study Group, an elite panel of Washington wisemen co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, normally a Bush acolyte, deemed the Iraq situation "grave and deteriorating."
Instead of withdrawing troops, however, a defiant Bush increased them. The "surge" of 30,000 reinforcements announced in 2007 was supposedly to allow the shaky, Shiite-controlled Iraqi government time and cover to solve contentious issues--such as sharing oil revenue and regional autonomy--and to train a viable army.
"As they stand up, we will stand down," Bush repeated, almost like a mantra. In the new army's first test of standing up, Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki ordered an attack on Shiite militias in the port city of Basra. More than 1,000 recruits deserted or fled the battlefield and had to be rescued by U.S. troops and airpower, with a ceasefire brokered by Iran.
Meanwhile, the country that Bush still insisted was the front fine in the "war on terror" lay in shambles, along with the lives of twenty-five million citizens. Except for the Kurdish-held north and the "Green Zone" headquarters of the coalition, no part of the embattled nation could be considered secure. (Later, in the spring of 2008, incessant rocket attacks shattered the supposed safety of the Green Zone.) Cities cleared of resistance by coalition offensives frequently fen back into chaos when the troops moved on. Historic Baghdad, the fabled city of flying carpets and Arabian Nights, was a nightmare of suicide bombing, IEDS, and ruins, with one million impoverished residents in 'Sadr City,' a Shiite enclave and a law unto itself.
More than one and a half million Iraqis, by official estimate, had fled, most of them huddled in squalid quarters in the unwelcoming cities of neighboring Jordan and Syria. Another estimated two million were displaced within the country, fleeing wrecked homes to crowd in with relatives or live in makeshift tent villages. Much of the educated population of what had once been the most developed country in the Middle East had decamped, including 12,000 of the country's 34,000 physicians. Living conditions for those remaining were abysmal. Whole neighborhoods were without adequate sewage or water.
In July 2007, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told Congress that most Iraqi cities had electricity only one to two hours a day. On the fifth anniversary of the war, the nation's electric grid was still producing less than 5,000 daily megawatts of power, less than when the war started. Iraqis faced a scorching summer when 11,000 megawatts would be the daily minimum. In oil-rich Iraq, oil to power generating plants was in short supply. The bulk of it was being shipped abroad, the Iraqi government's only source of revenue. And an estimated 35 percent of the population was unemployed.
The repeatedly fought-over city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, was a classic example of the war's devastation. Once a thriving city of 450,000, its surviving population was estimated in 2007 at fewer than 50,000. Eighty percent of the buildings had been damaged in the fighting; half of them were completely destroyed. Half of the homes were gone. Those that remained were largely without water, electricity, or sewage. There were no operating schools. Buildings had been stripped by looters, including floor tiles and window frames. Once Falluja had been known as "the city of mosques," with more than 200 glittering temples of worship. Only 60 remained intact.
The estimates of "collateral damage"-the Pentagon euphemism for civilian and noncombatant casualties-varied wildly. In 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Health gave a low figure of 151,000 Iraqis killed from war-related causes between February 2003 and June 2006. A survey published in the British medical journal Lancetestimated 600,000 "excess" deaths-those above the normal attrition of population-for the period 2003-2006. An Opinion Research Bureau report estimated the war had caused 946,000 to 1,033,000 violent deaths. In one survey, researchers asked individual Iraqis if they had a civilian relative or friend who had been a war casualty. Eighty percent of those interviewed said yes.
One unlamented casualty was Hussein. After a tumultuous trial marked by raucous shouting at the judges of the special tribunal, the onetime strong man was unceremoniously hanged for 'crimes against humanity' on December 30, 2006. Reactions predictably ranged from cheering to anger. And yet the fighting went on. And on.
In December 2005, Bush at last admitted that some intelligence on which the war had been fought was "wrong." But so what? Bush insisted that the war was worthwhile and the decision to bring down Hussein was "the right thing to do." He would have made the same decision even if he had known more. Powell, the obedient soldier, kept silent while writing his memoirs and giving motivational speeches. But in 2007, he finally apologized for the United Nations speech. "The intelligence I was given turned out to be inaccurate," he told Barbara Walters. "That will always remain a blot on my record."
The Historic Record. In 1971, Henry Kissinger asked Chinese foreign minister Zhou En-lai the historical impact of the French Revolution of 1789. "Too soon to tell," En-lai responded.
In the lame duck months of Bush's presidency, in the midst of an election campaign, and with his popularity ratings cratering, by En-lai's reckoning, it is at least 200 years too soon to assess Bush's impact on history, and especially the Iraq invasion.
But writers, historians, politicians, office-seekers, and the world are trying already to size up the eight Bush years. Some contend that Bush is simply "an amiable dunce" (as Clark Clifford dubbed Ronald Reagan), readily manipulated by Vice President Cheney, former Secretary Rumsfeld, and his political Svengali Karl Rove. They say Bush is a president out of the loop, whose priorities were cutting brush on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and getting a good night's sleep. Many Europeans share that view and believe Bush has destroyed the world's trust in the United States--trust that will take decades to rebuild. Others regard the Bush administration as visionary-the first to recognize an impending "clash of civilizations," and begin to prepare America for it. And meanwhile, to fight a preemptive war before the terrorist enemy got stronger.
How will the decision to invade Iraq be judged 50, 100, 200 years from now? How will Bush's record be written in the twenty-third century? Where is Zhou En-lai when we need him?
The above is an excerpt from the book Failures Of The Presidents: From The Whiskey Rebellion And War Of 1812 To The Bay Of Pigs And War In Iraq
by Thomas J. Craughwell with M. William Phelps
Published by Publisher; September 2008;$19.95US/$21.95CAN; 978-1-59233-299-1
Copyright © 2008 Author
Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of several books, most recently How the Barbarian Invasions Shaped the Modern World (Fair Winds Press, 2008) andStealing Lincoln's Body (Harvard University Press, 2007). He has written articles on history, religion, politics, and popular culture for the Wall Street Journal, American Spectator, and U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut.
Journalist, lecturer, and historian M. William Phelps is the author of eleven books, including his most recent, Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America’s First Spy (Thomas Dunne Books, 2008). He lives in Vernon, Connecticut.