A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lewis Donohew: Ultimate irony, the armies that carried off Baalbeck’s treasures actually saved them

“Over there was the childhood home of Danny Thomas,” the driver told me as our car climbed through Lebanon’s Shouf Mountains on our way from Beirut to visit the famous ancient ruin of Baalbeck. This was a dangerous time, not as much as it would be later, but dangerous enough that I was warned to be cautious about what I said and did. So I didn’t contradict my chauffeur, but Danny Thomas didn’t...

Lewis Donohue: Republican party has gotten just what it has asked for — and has McConnell to thank

“For they sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind.” — Hosea 8:7 As it becomes more and more apparent that Donald Trump will become the presidential nominee of the Republican party in this year’s comedic dance, the party’s leadership is in a panic. How do they stop this blustering, boastful,...

Lewis Donohew: Far right media separate the public from more legitimate sources of information

It was one of those conversations you hear between people who rely on Fox commentators or Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others for their understanding of the world—one that is uninformed but vehemently defended. It shifted across several topics, frequently including the economy and how it was supporting “losers” who weren’t willing to work. Finally, I could stand it no longer. “Do you really...

Lewis Donohew: It seems as if religion may promote both the development of civilization and conflict

Why do so many people seem to assume it is their duty to enforce what they interpret as the shalts and shalt nots of their religion? In the interpretation of ancient scrolls by scholars of various religions leanings, certain acts are said to be “against God’s law.” But how many of these “wrongdoings” are supposed to be punished by ordinary people? Isn’t there supposed to be a “judgment...

Lewis Donohew: Rejecting scientific findings doesn’t really alter the facts; is this the year for change?

Throughout history, new scientific theories and discoveries have been greeted with skepticism and opposition, despite overwhelming data to support them. In the end, science always wins. Not that it is always right the first time. But if an explanation of a phenomenon is not right, it is dropped or amended over time to make it right. Consider three of the most prominent examples. When the development...

Lewis Donohew: First Amendment does not give clerks the right to refuse to give licenses

Following the recent Supreme Court ruling permitting same-sex marriage, the controversy that arose in some of our Kentucky counties involving the First Amendment has raised an emotion-laden question. The clerks state their religious beliefs won’t let them issue marriage licenses to these couples and claim having to do this would violate their religious freedom. Would it?   This caused me to...

Lewis Donohew: Blunt speaking Sanders emerging as a reasonable alternative

When you hear him talk you can begin to understand why Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing such huge crowds for his appearances. There is none of that political mumbo-jumbo and party line fakery like some of the comments on the nuclear agreement with Iran. Just a frankness, sometimes even a bluntness, that to some extent hits all sides.   He doesn’t say the Affordable...

Lewis Donohew: Bankruptcy judge Joe Lee's influence will continue despite his passing

Many years ago I came to know Joe Lee—who was to become a noted U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky—as a fellow student at UK. I came to know him better when he recruited me to join a fraternity in which he was an officer and he became my sponsor, or “big brother.”   Joe Lee Joe was a former high school quarterback and later a veteran before coming to UK, making...

Lewis Donohew: Fox News' views on the Brian Williams saga are hypocritical at best

Brian Williams’ story that he had been on a helicopter forced down by hostile fire in Iraq (for which he has now apologized and been put on unpaid leave for six months), generated this comment from a Fox News analyst:   “The admission raises serious questions about his credibility in a business that values that quality above all else.”   When you stop laughing, I’d like to point out...

Lewis Donohew: Old line about theory and practice may insult us eggheads but isn't true

Back in the days when I still thought I knew how cars worked (and my cars often didn’t) I knew a couple of things I could do to diagnose the problems. Sometimes I got it right, but if I didn’t I was lost and had to call a mechanic. The mechanic understood how the whole thing worked. If he did this, then this would happen.   That’s also true of theories. It explains how something works...

Lewis Donohew: As long as trusty Suburban keeps on keeping on, we’ll postpone goodbyes

Now in its 20th year, our Chevy Suburban has traveled 254,000 miles, and a mechanic we trust thinks it will be good for another 150,000. It still looks, runs and rides great, including long trips loaded with gear for our snowbird stays. We think of it as a member of the family, and it will be a sad day when we tell it goodbye.   The fates have delivered us six children who all live in different...

Lewis Donohew: Learning to be more accepting, even of my impatient friends

“Where are you going?” I recently asked a friend. An innocuous question, I thought, but one that led to an unexpected—and to me somewhat irritating—reply.   He didn’t answer my question, but instead asked: “Do you think I should be staying here and helping you work?”   No, that’s not what I was thinking. I just wanted to know where he was headed. If it was to lunch I planned...

Lewis Donohew: Good for news media to do interpretation stories, but need to get it right

A couple of newspaper stories I’ve read lately – one about tobacco sales and the other about cash home sales – left me feeling somewhat uneasy about the state of reporting.   The one about tobacco implied that farmers who have continued to grow it after “the buyout” a few years back will face a tough situation, now that the last of the checks supporting the compensation for...

Lewis Donohew: Appalachia, it seems, is on the move and taking root in Central Kentucky

I was surprised to learn recently that Appalachia has added several thousand new residents, one of whom is me.   I haven’t learned when this addition occurred, but the latest boundary lines definitely include my Montgomery County and my Mt. Sterling vineyard and farm. We barely made it. It appears that those drawing the new boundary lines found their line so close to ours that they flipped a...

Lewis Donohew: Same drug cost me under $3 last year, $72 this year and $720 for Medicare

One year ago I went on Medicare and it has been enlightening to see why it is a subject of controversy. One recent event in particular grabbed my attention and led my wife and me onto a path of discovery.   Last year, I had a 90-day prescription filled at a large company called Express Scripts for $2.31. This year, the same company billed me $72 for the same quantity of the same prescription....

Lewis Donohew: Family pilgrimage through Cumberland Gap definitely worth the wait

In my college years, I traveled by car through Cumberland Gap—the route to the west for hundreds of thousands of pioneers—a few times as a member of a baseball team heading to Harrogate, Tennessee, to play Lincoln Memorial University. After the gap was restored to its previous condition as a trail, I started thinking about a pilgrimage in which I would go through it on foot.   Early in America’s...

Lewis Donohew: Not many options for our Kentucky wine grapes after drastic winter

After the last freeze of the long winter, this spring the vineyard looked pretty much the same as it had always looked—bare, newly pruned vines draped along supporting wires, waiting for the sunshine and rain to bring them to life.   (Photo from UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment) As the days grew warmer, buds burst on the vidal blanc and leaves started to emerge. But on the vinifera...

Lewis Donohew: What makes the Supreme Court think we need more money in politics?

(Photo from Denver Library)   The new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing even more money to be injected into political races sets up a major test of massive paid-for persuasion versus rational discussion of issues.   In other words, will the pouring of huge amounts of cash into campaigns — even more than we’ve experienced already, if you can imagine that — permit such a bombardment...

Lewis Donohew: Politicians chip away at a cornerstone of democracy – public education

An early 20th-century one-room schoolhouse in rural America (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)   One of the cornerstones of democracy — public education — has been under attack from multiple sources for many years now and it’s beginning to show. In comparison with other advanced countries, our students aren’t doing as well.   We can point to a lot of possible reasons, such as declining...

Lewis Donohew: If Congress tackles tax code, as hoped, two-class country might be avoided

It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. It is a time of riches. It is a time of deprivation.   For many, it is a time of unemployment and fear of economic chaos and, magnified by wild rumors and claims of plots, conspiracies, unholy collaborations and extreme practices, a time for buying guns.   Among the signs this country is moving toward a troubled two-class society is upscale...