, Corbin, KY


July 7, 2014

‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

CORBIN — Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

I ran into Clarence Yancey at the Alison Lundergan Grimes rally at U of L last Sunday. Yancey is a Louisville West End Democratic activist who still uses the once popular political strategy of handing out sample ballots with his picks in the predominantly African-American precincts in the West End.

Yancey has been active in politics for more than 50 years and he can drive surprisingly high turnout in those West End precincts where his endorsed candidates almost always win. So, he seemed a logical person to ask how Rand Paul’s outreach to African-Americans, is playing in the West End.

Yancey has a delightful way of agreeing with himself, often ending his sentences with “Uh hummm.”

Paul “did us a favor. He came in and started a rally about Republicans,” Yancey said. ”But all he did was make the Democrats mad and drive them to come out to vote Democratic, uh hummm.”

Oh, and Yancey told me he’s working hard for Grimes, citing his friendship with her father, Jerry Lundergan. So I won’t be surprised if Grimes rolls up big margins in the West End this fall, uh hummm. She’ll need them to have any chance against Mitch McConnell.

Later in the week, I ran into Grimes’ backers state Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, and Rep. John Short, D-Hindman. It’s no surprise Democrats support a Democrat but they are coal district Democrats so I asked them how Grimes will do in their districts.

“I don’t know how she’ll do with the operators,” Short said. “But, in my district, she’s going to do fine with the miners. I think she’ll win Knott and Magoffin.”

Everyone has something to say about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, affirming privately held corporations’ right to, uh, abstain from providing contraceptive coverage for employees. I think I’ll just say no to getting into a debate about sex, women’s rights and contraceptives.

But I wonder how a majority of justices can contend that corporations are no different than individuals under the law. If that’s the case, then why do we even need them? And if they are entitled to the same privileges as an individual, shouldn’t they bear the same liability for their actions?

I’ll also stay out of any debate about same-sex marriage. But I was amused by Gov. Steve Beshear’s argument that restricting marriage to a man and woman is necessary for “ensuring humanity’s continued existence,” an argument Judge John Heyburn II called “illogical and even bewildering.” Maybe Beshear knows something about the out-of-wedlock birth rate that’s escaped the judge and the rest of us.

Independence Day and the Fourth of July always produce statements from politicians about the country’s blessings and our gratitude for the Founding Fathers. But the Fourth always makes me wonder: which founding fathers?

Some, like Washington and Franklin, were present when the Declaration was written in 1776 and again 11 years later when the Constitution was birthed. But others, like Thomas Jefferson and Sam Adams, were there for the first but absent from the second.

Most people forget — if they even knew in the first place — that we operated for a decade under the Articles of Confederation. A quick read of the Articles makes clear that before ratification of the Constitution, the United States of America were (as in plural) an alliance of 13 sovereign states.

It was through the second document that the United States is (singular) made one country. Either way, Happy Independence Day.

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