In case you need a break from Senators and their bathroom sex…

Good entertainment. If you haven’t had a chance, listen to the radio “debate” between Fletcher and Beshear. If we’re basing things on courtesy and manners displayed in this radio show alone? Neither of these gentleman have any. Endless blabbering after repeated requests to stop were ignored. And ignored. And ignored. [WKYX]

When giants attack. Attorney General Greg Stumbo is on the right side of the nightmarish Monsanto-Delta & Pine merger. Monstanto, the world’s largest producer of pesticides and genetically engineered seed, is best known for using their GRE plants to obliterate the crops of legitimate farmers– permanently infecting the food chain. Oh– and they tried to patent the pig. [Legal Newsline]

Gaming the System. Humana breaks the law, pays $500,000 fine for misleading customers, using unlicensed agents. Imagine it– a health insurance giant skirting the law and paying a fine. Just the cost of doing business, right? [Business First]

Meanwhile, the number of individuals without health insurance nationwide is skyrocketing. (14% of Kentuckians lack coverage) The Census Bureau released figures showing the number of those without insurance rose from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million in 2006. That means– based on numbers two years old– nearly 16% of the population doesn’t have health coverage. People covered by employer-based health insurance fell 1.5% and the number of uninsured children rose 700,000 to 8.7 million in the same 2005-2006 period of time. [Business First, H-L]

We didn’t know Seattle had Republicans! A waitress (server, to be politically correct) helped anonymously pen a facetious blog complaint against Stefan Sharkansky. Apparently, he lets his kids run rampant and is a horrible tipper. Sounds like a familiar former Democratic Lt. Governor of Kentucky, if you ask us! [Consumerist]

Taking it to their doorsteps. War protesters rally against Sen. Mitch McConnell tonight. Thousands in Kentucky are expected to take part in National Take a Stand Day, holding a rally and a march to McConnell’s home in Louisville. [WLKY]

Slipping by the Wayside

Is anyone following this? Attorneys for the fen-phen case in Kentucky stole $46million from their clients. Now they’re whining about being in jail. Maybe we could give this money to Peabody. [C-J]

No friend of the working man? Organized labor takes a jab at Fletcher. [AFL-CIO]

Blue dog or Bush dog? Ben Chandler gets added to the list after voting in favor of warrantless wiretapping. [DemocratsDotCom]

From the Wasted Opportunity Dept. Gallup Poll shows that for the first time since 1974, the Congressional approval rating has hit rock bottom. Only 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Staggering 76% disapprove. And Nancy Pelosi eats babies. [Gallup]

Doling out dollars. Fletcher spends nearly $2million in Perry County for road paving (they call it asphalt rehabilitation). Which stretch of road, you wonder? Why, the Hal Rogers Parkway. Project is scheduled for completion on October 15. [KY]

Keeping them poor and sick. In case you didn’t know: Kentucky children who already don’t have health care will never get it. [WaPo]

New Medicaid Big Dog

Shawn Crouch - Kentucky Medicaid CommissionerKentucky gets a new Meidcaid commissioner. Everything is puppies and rainbows.

Shawn Crouch, formerly chief of staff of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, starts the new job on September 1. This after serving only 15 months in the CHFS job. Taking a quick peek at a Powerpoint presentation Crouch presented last month in Los Angeles, we learn he sings Fletcher’s praises and applauds his “visionary” health reform initiatives.

Trouble is Crouch may be a health insurance industry lackey. He’s worked for CHA and is credited for pushing the state into using a benefits administrator (aka putting an insurance company in the middle of things: allowing the insurance company to make a profit while limiting medications available to patients) for Medicaid pharmacy benefits.

What will become of Medicaid? Is this a good move?

Where there’s smoke…

For as long as there have been politicians in Kentucky, there’s been a powerful lobbying faction working for tobacco farmers. Tobacco farmers have prospered, tobacco interests have profited, and tobacco users have been dying for decades.

Smoker - KentuckyCigarette sales flourish in Kentucky, which ranks first or second in every study ranking states by per capita rates for lung cancer and other smoking-related deaths. Two years ago, Kentucky’s legislature passed an increase on cigarette taxes, lifting the state out of last place by boosting the tax from three cents to 30 cents.

The adversity faced by tobacco interests has never been stronger than it is today, and their ability to hold politicians accountable to them is wavering. Earlier this month, a pair of Kentucky congressmen voted for a 45-cent national tax on cigarettes in Congress. Ben Chandler, whose district represents many of those farmers, apparently felt the virtues of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act outweighed the risks at home of voting against big tobacco.

Read more

Exclusive: Michael Kelley to face Geoff Davis in KY-4

Davis not looking like such a shoo-in anymore?

Page One has learned there is a challenger for 4th District Congressman Geoff Davis (R), something that may surprise readers of the Kentucky Enquirer. In his Sunday column, Pat Crowley wrote that no candidate has stepped forward to face Rep. Davis in 2008. Specifically, “Kentucky Democrats struggle to even name any potential challengers to Davis.” We like Pat’s reporting, but we’ve learned Dr. Michael Kelley of Oldham County filed for 2008 candidacy just a few weeks ago, and is set to face Rep. Davis come the fall.

Side Note: Crowley reports Heather French Henry is the only name to surface as a potential challenger, despite, well, many factors. Sources say Henry has repeatedly informed Democratic Party insiders that she will not run for U.S. Congress for career-related reasons and, honestly, why would someone with as solid a career as the former Miss America give that up to run for office?

Our sources say Kelley will not be a candidate just for candidacy’s sake— he won’t be the sacrificial lamb— that he’ll have support similar to that of Ken Lucas in 2006. If you remember the horde of commercials purchased on behalf of Lucas (and the $1.5Million the FEC says he raised that year) you realize this could potentially be big bucks— and aid— for Kelley.

According to a contact at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “Kelley will garner strong support from the state and national party because he’s not a career politician. He’s not your average hack from Halliburton. He has a simple plan that hits home with the voters and he connects with people on a personal level that career-types like Davis cannot.”

Kelley FamilyPage One sat down with Kelley earlier this month. We’d like to share a portion of the interview with more to come later in the year.

Michael Kelley, 41, is a family man and lifelong Kentuckian. He’s been married to his wife, Gretchen, for eleven years and they have four children together. Three daughters and one son, ages 5, 6, 9, and 10. He is a self-described country physician who graduated from the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine in 1993. In 1997 he joined a small medical practice and as a direct result has become concerned about the flaws in the American health care system. Dr. Kelley is also strongly opposed to Republican-led efforts to prolong the war in Iraq.

The cornerstones of Michael’s plan, which will be released in coming weeks, are as follows:

Read more