Tag: Politics

60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The last Tuesday in August 1956 was quite like today: A presidential race geared up for the final, post-Labor Day push, amid boiling Mideast tensions and questions about one candidate’s health. Hot and humid, Louisville distracted itself with celebrity news: a very rich New York socialite with a blue-chip name had just married husband No. 3; years later, her son would become a famous TV news anchor dubbed the “Silver Fox.” And contract talks between a major local manufacturer and thousands of employees were the business story of the day. These were the headlines on The Courier-Journal’s front page that Aug. 28, 1956.

CJ front page August 28 1956
The Courier-Journal front page, Aug 28, 1956.

An editor’s playful headline, “Sweat-ery,” summed up what readers should expect that day: temperatures in the 90s, news to make them wince when many employers still didn’t have air conditioning. But the workplace differed in far worse ways.

Companies openly discriminated on the basis of gender and race. The help-wanted classifieds section for women included Curl’s Tavern on Brook Street, offering $30 a week ($265 in today’s dollars) for short-order cooks; applicants had to be white. Kleins Restaurant on Broadway needed a cook, too — but “colored,” adding: “apply at rear.”

White and colored clerks wanted
Help-wanted ads reflected 1956 segregated Louisville.

That summer’s presidential race was a rematch between the Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower, 65, and the long-shot Democratic nominee he’d beaten four years before: Adlai Stevenson, 56, and a former Illinois governor. Their dueling campaigns argued over whether the economy was adding jobs fast enough. But the greater concern was the crisis in Egypt, where new President Gamal Abdel Nasser had just nationalized the Suez Canal.

Eisenhower and Stevenson
Eisenhower and Stevenson.

Eisenhower, a retired five-star general, was heading back to Washington after a West Coast golfing vacation in Pebble Beach, Calif., with his wife Mamie; it was a pleasure trip, but also meant to project good health after a heart attack he’d suffered the year before.

The gossipy news? It was about Gloria Vanderbilt, born into one of the nation’s wealthiest families, and still known as the “poor little rich girl” because she’d been the subject of a high-profile custody battle between her mother and an aunt over a $4 million trust fund ($67 million in today’s dollars). She was 10 years old at the time.

Vanderbilt and Lumet
Just married: Vanderbilt and Lumet.

In a photograph on the CJ’s front page, the 32-year-old socialite posed for photographers with her new husband, the director Sidney Lumet; they’d wed the previous day. The marriage lasted 11 years until they divorced, and she married husband No. 4 — her last: Wyatt Emory Cooper. They would have two sons. The second, born when she was 43, was named Anderson Hays Cooper. (Her first son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, committed suicide at 23 by jumping from the ledge of the family’s 14th-floor apartment on Manhattan’s posh upper East Side, as Vanderbilt watched in horror, pleading for him to stop.)

The big business news was a strike Continue reading “60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer”

Gaining on Clinton among Ky. donors, Trump raised $360K last month

Trump and Clinton
Trump bests Clinton.

GOP White House nominee Donald Trump’s take last month was more than 2½ times that of the $136,926 received by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to new data from the Federal Election Commission cited today by WFPL.

“Despite Trump’s summer surge,” the station says, “he still trails far behind Clinton in netting Kentucky’s dollars. Clinton raised more than $921,409 through the end of July, compared to Trump’s $545,940.”

26 years ago today: McConnell accused of exaggerating his record; Humana bans smoking — and an infant girl named Jennifer Lawrence is born

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

CJ front page August 15 1990
26 years ago today.

On Aug. 15, 1990, The Courier-Journal delivered a 52-page paper chock-a-block with news. President George H.W. Bush was rounding up support for an embargo against Iraq, retaliating for its invasion of Kuwait less than two weeks before. Sen. Mitch McConnell, still in his first term, was on the hot seat in his re-election campaign. Kentucky’s powerful tobacco industry still didn’t accept the dangers of smoking. And comedian Bob Hope and his pet poodle were in town. It was a humid Wednesday, with temperatures heading for 86 degrees. The news:

“U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is extolling his 5½-year record with a wide range of radio commercials — at least two of which exaggerate the impact of his work,” CJ political writer Al Cross wrote in a page-one story. “Those two ads say McConnell worked out the financial problems of Big Rivers Electric Corp., and saved the Kentucky construction industry by casting the deciding vote against a presidential veto of a highway bill.”

The record, including statements from company and government officials, contradicted McConnell’s account, Cross said. But the Louisville Republican vigorously defended the commercials, saying they weren’t inaccurate or misleading. At the time, McConnell faced Democratic nominee Harvey Sloane, the former Louisville mayor and  county judge-executive.

Humana building
Humana Tower
Humana nixes smoking

Citing concerns about deaths linked to passive smoking, Humana said it would ban smoking at its corporate headquarters downtown and in all division offices starting Feb. 1, 1991. The health insurance giant’s decision came after a June report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that about 3,800 lung-cancer related deaths per year among non-smokers are caused by secondhand cigarette smoke. Humana estimated only 1 in 7 employeees smoked, a decrease of about 35% from several years before.

The story noted that “the tobacco industry, which has never agreed that smoking is a hazard even to smokers themselves, has attacked the EPA findings as unsubstantiated.”

Comedian Bob Hope signed copies of his new book, “Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me,” at the W.K. Stewart Booksellers in the Holiday Manor Shopping Center. The 87-year-old stayed at the Galt House with his wife Dolores and their poodle Baxter.

Bacons logoThat day’s CJ carried three full-page ads for Louisville-based Bacon’s Department Store, and four full pages of business news, including 2½ pages of stock listings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had closed the day before at nearly 2,748 points.

ValuMarket was selling half-gallon cartons of Sealtest ice cream for $1.98. TWA offered roundtrip tickets to New York City for $158.

And unknown to most everyone reading that day’s paper, Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born to Gary Lawrence, a construction worker, and his wife Karen, a children’s camp manager.

Postscript

Iraq is Continue reading “26 years ago today: McConnell accused of exaggerating his record; Humana bans smoking — and an infant girl named Jennifer Lawrence is born”

Hillbilly legacy: Is the cellphone to blame for turning Kentucky from blue to red?

Hillbilly Elegy book jacketIn “Hillbilly Elegy,” according to a new book review in The New York Times, author J.D. Vance offers “a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans.”

Vance, 31, now a Silicon Valley investor, knows hillbilly Kentucky. He was reared 136 miles northeast of Louisville, in Middletown, Ohio, a now-decaying steel town filled with Kentucky transplants, including his own family from Breathitt County.

“Economic insecurity, he’s convinced, accounts for only a small part of his community’s problems; the much larger issue is hillbilly culture itself,” the Times says. “Though proud of it in many ways, he’s also convinced that it ‘increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.’”

The review continues: “His frustration with the non-working white poor is especially acute. He recalls being a cashier at a Middletown grocery store and watching resentfully as his neighbors, who had creatively gamed the welfare system, jabbered on their cellphones as they were going through the checkout line. He could not afford a cellphone.”

J.D. Vance
Vance

Vance writes: “Political scientists have spent millions of words trying to explain how Appalachia and the South went from staunchly Democratic to staunchly Republican in less than a generation.” He suspects those cellphones have a lot to do with it. “I could never understand why our lives felt like a struggle while those living off of government largess enjoyed trinkets that I only dreamed about.”


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis; 264 pages. Harper. $27.99.

CJ owner Gannett files suit to get court records on Donald Trump’s divorce from Ivana to see if she accused him of rape

Joined by The New York Times, Gannett Co. argues in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court today that the rape allegation — which Trump has denied — is of public interest in the GOP presidential campaign of the twice-divorced and thrice-married New York billionaire, according to the New York Daily News.

The filing notes that a 1993 biography of Trump reported that Ivana Trump — his first wife — told friends her husband had “raped” her in 1989 during a fit of rage. Trump and the former  Czech model Ivana Zelníčková married in 1977 and divorced 14 years later in 1991. By 1995, they’d patched things up enough to star in a Pizza Hut commercial where they joked about their divorce settlement:

Gannett bought The Courier-Journal from the Bingham family in July 1986 for $300 million. With the CJ and USA Today, Gannett now owns 110 dailies across the U.S. and the U.K. Adjusted for inflation, $300 million would be equivalent to $660 million in today’s dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

Photo, top: While that photograph is undated, Ivana Trump’s hair screams 1980s; more hairstyles from that era.

Opinion: Paul no friend of coal industry, or its beleaguered miners; ‘he hasn’t done a single thing’

That’s according to John Winn Miller, a retired journalist, screenwriter and movie producer who took on Sen. Rand Paul in an op-ed piece in this morning’s Courier-Journal.

“Paul pretends to be a friend by railing against big government and the mythical ‘war on coal,'” Miller writes. “But actions speak louder than words. The reality: he hasn’t done a single thing or passed a single bill to help the coal industry, distressed coal counties or out-of-work miners.”

And he cites several examples where the senator’s actions went against the industry’s interests. Miller says Paul:

  • offered an amendment to waive some environmental regulations and wage requirements in high unemployment areas. In other words, screw the coal miners and the health of people living in Eastern Kentucky. It was overwhelmingly rejected (33-64) in the Republican-dominated Senate.
  • supports the Keystone Pipeline and competing industries like cheap natural gas from fracking that — along with the growth of green energy — have far more to do with the demise of coal production than environmental regulations.

Miller’s contention the Republican senator hasn’t helped the industry comes despite the fact it’s been one of his biggest financial backers, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks Federal Election Commission data. In 2015-16, mining companies donated $129,250 of the total $9.5 million he took in, according to the center. The top 10 sources where industries were identified:

Rand Paul industry contributions 2015-16

Paul, an ophthalmologist, got the most support from health professionals: $471,241, or nearly 5% of all.

Coal on the way out

Miller writes: “The reality that Paul won’t admit is that coal production in Kentucky has been declining for decades –- long before President Barack Obama. It is the marketplace and the global shift to clean energy that is killing coal. Even China is starting to reduce coal mining and use.”

Indeed, statewide last year, Kentucky had only 9,493 coal mining jobs, a 46% decline from 17,670 as recently as 2008, according to the latest data from the Energy and Environment Cabinet. Mine operators produced 61.4 million tons, nearly half as much as the 121.2 million in 2008.

Jim Gray
Gray

Paul, who’s in his first Senate term, is up for re-election in November; he’s facing Democratic challenger Jim Gray of Lexington, the candidate Miller says is the only one “with a real, four-point plan to help the coal industry and revitalize coal-dependent counties as well as the ability to work with both parties.”

The Center for Responsive Politics hasn’t Continue reading “Opinion: Paul no friend of coal industry, or its beleaguered miners; ‘he hasn’t done a single thing’”