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Kentucky editorial roundup

August 7, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

Aug. 5

The State-Journal on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s message during a political event:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had an eventful weekend. After being heckled by Democrats at the state’s annual political grilling event, Fancy Farm, on Saturday, the 77-year-old fractured his shoulder in a fall on the patio at his Louisville home Sunday.

Though the six-term senator was medically treated and released following the stumble and is said to be working from home, it may take longer for McConnell’s ego to recover from the insults hurled by the Dems in the political picnic crowd, who peppered his speech with chants of “Moscow Mitch.” The term was coined after the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper” blocked election security legislation aimed at protecting the political system against foreign attack.

Many in the crowd were clad in bright red T-shirts emblazoned in yellow with an image of McConnell wearing a Cossack hat with an elephant marked with the hammer and sickle symbols and the words “Just say Nyet to Moscow Mitch.”

In fact, apparel, buttons, mugs, stickers and other items with the slogan have provided quite a windfall for the Democratic Party. In a four-day period, from Wednesday through Saturday, the party netted more than $350,000 in sales from the merchandise.

For his part, McConnell, who has closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump heading into the 2020 election and is usually on the offensive of such pointed attacks, mostly avoided the election security issue during his stump speech. Instead, he took aim at the Green New Deal and Medicaid for All proposals being pushed by some Democrats, inserted the word “socialist” as often as possible and referred to himself in the third person.

“Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are never going to let that happen. That’s why I call myself the ‘Grim Reaper.’ I’m killing their socialist agenda,” he said.

Earlier in the day at the GOP breakfast, McConnell boasted about the efforts made to stymie Russian interference in U.S. elections and stated he is “absolutely confident we’re going to have a secure election in 2020,” adding the 2018 election was “extraordinary successful.”

For state and national Democrats, a successful 2020 election would include the dethroning of both the “Grim Reaper” and Trump. Republicans have much at stake in reelecting both. Time will tell if McConnell’s bet to cling to the president’s coattails will pay off with a seventh term.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com/

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Aug. 2

The Bowling Green Daily News on displaying “In God We Trust” at Kentucky schools:

Our national motto, “In God We Trust,” is something that we should be proud of and not be ashamed to display.

It appears on our currency, on license plates in Kentucky, on two state flags, in courthouses, in the legislative chambers in Frankfort and in the congressional chambers in our nation’s capital.

We have no problem with this being displayed on our currency, on cars, courthouses or in state and federal buildings. Buildings that display “In God We Trust” are simply displaying a phrase whose official use dates to the 1800s and was adopted as the national motto in 1956. Supporters of displaying the motto are not trying to ram religion down people’s throats, as some groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and others would have you believe.

We are very proud that the Kentucky legislature and the majority of our area legislators voted this past session to require that all public schools display the national motto in prominent places before classes begin — except state Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, who voted against the bill. According to House Bill 46, which was introduced early this year and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin in March, local school boards shall require elementary and secondary schools to display the motto “in a prominent location in the school.”

The display can take the form of, but isn’t limited to, a mounted plaque or student artwork, for example. The “prominent location,” as defined by the legislation, refers to a school entryway, cafeteria or common area “where students are likely to see the national motto.”

We’re glad that kids will who will be starting school ... will actually be able to walk under or near where our national motto will be posted. Both city and county schools have been preparing to get the signs and have said that they will have them posted by the start of school.

Kentucky isn’t the only state to have passed such a law. At least a half-dozen states passed “In God We Trust” bills last year, and 10 more have introduced or passed the legislation so far in 2019.

Critics have argued the measures violate the First Amendment.

We couldn’t disagree more. The state legislature passed this bill not only because it is our national motto, but also because it in fact does represent free speech. Placing “In God We Trust” in our state’s public schools is a form of free speech and not an endorsement of a religion, plain and simple.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Aug. 1

The Louisville Courier Journal on U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s comments about U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar:

Dear Sen. Rand Paul,

Hello from your constituents in Kentucky, the state that ranks ninth in the nation for the number of refugee arrivals. You may remember we’re the commonwealth proudly known for feeding and clothing people from war-torn areas, providing health care, education and the path to citizenship.

You should know this, of course, because Bowling Green, the city you’ve called home for more than 25 years, is one of the primary cities in Kentucky where refugees resettle.

That’s why we’re so distressed — and frankly, puzzled — about what you said in a recent Breitbart interview about being willing to pay for a plane ticket to send Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota back to her native Somalia so she can learn to be “grateful” to America for taking her in when she was a child.

What?

Like many Americans — including President Donald Trump — Rep. Omar (who gained her American citizenship in 2000) made the “mistake” of criticizing some aspects of her country and questioning some of its policies. Isn’t that something you’ve done repeatedly over the years, Senator?

Over your career, we recall you slamming the Environmental Protection Agency, questioning parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and railing against U.S. foreign aid and even military involvement in conflicts overseas.

As a member of Congress elected by the voters — an accomplishment shared by Rep. Omar, by the way — you have criticized the Federal Reserve, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the war in Afghanistan and even the Supreme Court.

On the Affordable Care Act, you said, “Just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”

But you were born in Pittsburgh, so we guess that makes it OK. There’s no need for us to question your patriotism or send you back to your ancestral home, right?

President Trump started this absurd controversy on July 14 when he tweeted that ”‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen,” referring to Rep. Omar and three other Democrats — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” instead of criticizing the United States.

We can’t ignore the irony. Didn’t the former reality TV star land in the White House after vehemently slamming American policies, dissing respected politicians on both sides of the political aisle and trumpeting a campaign slogan that screamed, “Make America Great Again?”

But apparently Rep. Omar and the other three congresswomen singled out by Trump — even those diverse women born in America — aren’t truly Americans.

Is that how you see it, Senator?

We believe it must be because instead of calling out Trump’s comments as being un-American, you sided with him and even offered money to help send Rep. Omar back to Somalia. Regretfully, it appears you, too, have decided only those born here in this nation of immigrants get to be “real Americans” with full rights, privileges and a platform to question decisions made by our government.

First Amendment, be damned.

Or, maybe those principles apply only to certain immigrants who come to America from other countries, say Melania Trump or Elaine Chao.

Sen. Paul, we discussed your reckless remarks with folks around the state, including with some of your constituents who have resettled in Kentucky. One is Farhan Abdi, director of the Somali Community Center in Louisville. He’s disturbed by what he heard.

Your words seem to say, “If you are not born here and came from another country, you don’t have the right to talk about our politics, you don’t have the right to speak up for your people,” he said.

Abdi came to Louisville from Somali 11 years ago and is now a U.S. citizen. He says it’s not right to call people ungrateful for speaking out about issues in our country.

We’re being told, “Be quiet, like a baby,” Abdi said.

Sen. Paul, you say that Rep. Omar called America a “terrible country.” Did you actually read her New York Times op-ed column?

We did, and here’s what she said:

“The America we arrived in was different from the one my grandfather had hoped to find. The land of opportunity he imagined was in fact full of challenges. People identified me in ways that were foreign to me: immigrant, black. I learned that these identities carried stigmas, and I experienced prejudice as a visibly Muslim woman. But the beauty of this country is not that our democracy is perfect. It’s that embedded in our Constitution and democratic institutions are the tools to make it better,” she wrote.

And this:

“The proudest moments in our history — from the Emancipation Proclamation to the civil rights movement to the struggle against fascism — have come when we fight to protect and expand basic democratic rights. Today, democracy is under attack once again. It’s time to respond with the kind of conviction that has made America great before.”

She hardly sounds like someone who is “about as ungrateful as you can get.”

She sounds like an American.

Let us remind you of your response.

“Well, she came here and we fed her, we clothed her, she got welfare, she got (schooling), she got health care, and then, lo and behold, she has the honor of actually winning a seat in Congress, and she says we’re a terrible country? I think that’s about as ungrateful as you can get. And so — I’m willing to contribute to buy her a ticket to go visit Somalia . and I think she can look and maybe learn a little bit about the disaster that is Somalia — that has no capitalism, has no God-given rights guaranteed in a constitution, and has about seven different tribes that have been fighting each other for the last 40 years.

“And then, maybe after she’s visited Somalia for a while, she might come back and appreciate America more.”

Those aren’t the words of someone who embraces a libertarian point of view, Sen. Paul. Sounds more like an authoritarian to us.

America belongs to all U.S. citizens — whether we were born in Pittsburgh or Mogadishu. You have no greater right to it than Rep. Omar, one of two Muslim women in the House.

In fact, Abdi says it’s you, Sen. Paul, who should be grateful. You should appreciate that so many people from different countries have settled in Kentucky and elsewhere in the nation, bringing so many interesting cultures to our land.

“We are working hard,” Abdi said. “We are doing the best we can to make this state and this country better.”

So, here’s our offer, Senator: We stand ready to buy you a ticket to come visit Abdi and others at the Somali Community Center here in Louisville. We will invite Rep. Omar, too.

And perhaps then we can have a reasoned, productive conversation with constituents in Kentucky about our country’s biggest challenges and those issues that unite all Americans.

That would be far better than the destructive and irresponsible sound bites you offered to a far-right media source to curry favor with President Trump.

We look forward to seeing you both.

Online: https://www.courier-journal.com/

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