Friday, July 29, 2005

Make the Guv Walk!

At first blush, it appeared that the main editorial on July 29 in the Lexington Herald-Leader would cover something besides the so-called “hiring scandal” in Frankfort. The subject was the unthinkable notion that the state needs to significantly upgrade its fleet of aircraft, never mind that in a news article of the day before there ran an account in the H-L of the state’s fleet, averaging between 32 and 34 years in age. Alas, in the next-to-last paragraph – right out of the blue, as they say – the editorialist threw in this line: “That hiring scandal's not going away, Governor.” That’s all…no connection with any part of the subject at hand. That line constituted the whole paragraph. So…maybe the hiring thing is losing a bit of its sting, and the paper is, albeit somewhat behind the curve, beginning to realize that most folks read about the terrible scandal, yawn, mumble something about business as usual and let it go at that.

The paper can’t seem to understand that the air fleet is getting a bit long in the tooth. Indeed, it’s doubtful that anyone on the editorial staff drives a car that’s even 20 years old (on solid ground), much less one as old as the 34-year-old plane (10,000 feet up) that, because of faulty equipment, was flown into restricted Washington, D.C., airspace last year. More’s the pity for the Transportation Department, since its plane is 39 years old, probably older than some of the editorialists.

The editorialist heaved and groaned and did the usual resuscitation maneuver in order to come up with this profound truth: “Voters might get the idea that the perks and patronage that come with being governor matter more to you [Fletcher] than the responsibilities.” So…for no discernible reason, the writer goes right back to the point that actually drives the paper’s editorialists/philosophy, to wit, that a republican won the guv’s seat in 2003. It’s the same mentality as that of Senators Durbin, Kennedy, Schumer, Biden and their ilk with regard to the Roberts SCOTUS nomination – sheer hatred of Bush and resolve to hurt him because he won again in 2004. Disgusting! They couldn’t care less about Roberts or the SCOTUS…they just hate Bush at all costs. The H-L, as well as the Louisville Courier-Journal, just hate Fletcher at all costs.

The editorialist threw in the usual red herring – education, never mind that under democrat governors and legislatures (republican senate, however, since ’98) in the 90s right through 2003, education improvement didn’t happen under the Education Reform Act of 1990; indeed, education has been tanking in the state since then, no matter how much money has been thrown at it. Fletcher inherited a state in virtual bankruptcy and has refused to throw dollars at that which obviously is not working. Until the state Department of Education is relieved of the social-engineering baggage and idiotic entities cursed into existence in 1990, such as the Family and Youth Service Centers and the School-based Councils, throwing more money at the system is foolish. The F&YSCs drain millions from the system for social services not connected to education, while the SBCs have helped throw districts into academic chaos.

As for the planes…what’s wrong with securing a new plane that, considering the extant situation with regard to the age of the fleet, could be expected to require minimum maintenance in the short term but last for at least 25 years, long-term? A lot of people would call it smart business-sense to make that kind of investment. Considering the barrels of pork that the legislature routinely uses to grease the skids for anything that slides through Frankfort, this is chicken-feed…but it makes great cannon fodder for sharp editorialists with a quite recognizable agenda, namely, get even with Fletcher and the repubs in the state senate for just breathing.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Exceptions: Dr. Clark's Positions

It’s always dangerous to naysay anything a famous or highly respected person has supported vocally and/or financially or affirmed in other ways, but no one is perfect, and, in any case, no one is above being criticized, whether or not the critic is right. The recent accolades upon his death, as well as many of the same through decades of his service to the citizens of Kentucky, have been richly deserved by historian Dr. Thomas Clark, so nothing here is designed in any way to denigrate the person or accomplishments of this great Kentucky asset.

There’s no argument with the documents, such as histories or other writings having to do with factual material, that have been delivered by Dr. Clark. A reliable researcher and chronicler of events, he has always had impeccable credentials. There can be exceptions taken to some of the conclusions he has made with regard to his studies, however. The three noted here are: (1) his consistent call for a constitutional convention to rewrite the Kentucky Constitution, last rewritten in 1891 as the fourth installment, the previous ones dating 1792, 1799, and 1850; (2) his unmitigated support for the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990; and (3) More recently, his support, both vocal and financial (loan to the Urban-County Council), for Lexington’s acquisition of the water company that serves Lexington, Ky., and surrounding counties, even to the point of condemning it under “eminent domain” laws.

Perhaps the best argument against the rewriting of the State Constitution is simply that the U.S. Constitution has stood ever since it was enacted officially in March 1789. It has been amended 27 times, of course, the first 10 amendments (Bill of Rights) enacted in 1791, and the last 17 since 1795, for an average of just over one addition every twelve years since 1795. It’s probable that this argument of “credibility accruing to longevity” has been accepted by most Kentuckians since the current Constitution has stood for 114 years.

With the rapid improvement in communications over the last century, politics and political efforts by individuals and political parties have come more and more under the scrutiny of the people, who, having seen the artificiality of much of what passes for efforts at both achieving and maintaining the reins of government, have become wary of monumental changes, such as a complete rewrite of the state’s document of governance, particularly as they’ve seen the effectiveness of the amendment process, the latest such example being the absolute definition in November 2004 of what does and does not constitute a marriage.

Given the bitter partisanship that has marked Kentucky politics throughout recent memory, but especially in the last 6-8 years, the notion that fairness and balance could be achieved in a constitutional rewrite is silly in the extreme. In at least three recent legislative sessions, lawmakers could not or would not even pass a budget, leaving the governor to run the state as he saw fit (such action on his part actually unconstitutional). They would never be able to handle anything as complicated as re-doing the Constitution, even if they had no vested interests, an impossibility.

The Education Reform Act of 1990 was probably the worst legislation of the century, the incorporation of the “outcomes-based/self-esteem” approach that was DOA on arrival, as already proved elsewhere. In an August 2003 speech at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Dr. Clark said, “I can think of nothing that had the potential, has the potential, and will have the potential of turning this state around more than the passage of House Bill 940 (the Ed. Reform Act of 1990).” In an article a year ago in The Kentucky Post, Dr. Clark said, “Tragically, there have ever been the blighting incidents of fiscal ‘shortfalls,’ which have thrown governmental operation into retreat. By contrast, there have been great landmark advances, as revealed in the history of public transportation and in the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.”

To their credit, legislators have already dismantled much of this disastrous approach to education, and in the process have indicated the total lack of competence of the legislature in 1990 in matters of pedagogy, a subject they shouldn’t have touched with the proverbial 10-foot pole. Indeed, in 15 years, the state education bureaucracy has not even developed a viable system of accountability – testing, in other words. By the late 90s, elementary teachers/principals had already deserted the K-3 approach, leaving the legislature little choice in eating crow and axing that KERA provision. The eight hugely expensive Regional Service Centers have been dismantled, one gathers, with no detrimental effects.

Also dismantled has been the Rewards System – perhaps the most egregious of all – that was set up to pay bonuses to teachers/administrators for merely doing their jobs. All that this unbelievable outrage ever achieved was widespread cheating on the part of school personnel in order to reap the rewards they saw other teachers receiving. In many of the schools, reward money was never a possibility simply because of the demographics, so teachers in those schools were always slated to be left out in the cold, and they knew it, thus the cheating. The saddest part of the whole mess was that the students knew precisely what was going on.

The average ACT score in the nation in 2003-04 was 20.9. Kentucky’s score was 20.3, and the scores in only ten states were lower than Kentucky’s. This circumstance obtains after 15 years of KERA, the system that was supposed to make Kentucky a bellwether state in education. By comparison, Utah, which spent $4,899 per pupil in 2002 while Kentucky spent $6,523 per pupil, had an ACT score of 21.5, or six percent more than Kentucky’s. In 2003, 72% of Kentucky’s 4th-graders scored above the basic level in national math tests, while the Utah figure was 79%. The reading scores were virtually identical, 65 and 66, respectively. For 8th-graders, the figures for Kentucky and Utah in the math tests, respectively, were 66% and 72% while the reading scores were, again, virtually identical, 78 and 76, respectively. In three of the four areas, Utah outdid Kentucky, but spent 33% less across the board. These figures come from the U.S. Dept. of Education. In Kentucky, it appears that 23% of 10th-graders, according to the results of the 2004 tests, read at the Proficient level – not very good.

Kentucky’s expenditure per pupil was below the national average of $7,731, but that average was artificial in that in the District of Columbia, in which is located the worst school system in the nation, the expenditure per pupil was $13,330, thus pumping up the average. In New York, the per pupil figure was $11,218, but the New York City system, one of the largest in the nation and a huge drain on its state finances, is among the worst in the nation. KERA is patently a failure, and it is expected that the legislature will see the wisdom of rescinding that part which mandates school-based councils and puts the power of standardization, the purse, and the curriculum back where they belong, as responsibilities of the school-boards and the appropriate agencies.

Dr. Clark’s position with respect to the city’s acquisition of the water company was puzzling not least because of the inconsistency of that stand with that which apparently obtained regarding the other utilities such as electricity, gas, and communications. This was particularly puzzling regarding the electricity utility in that the company providing that commodity was/is foreign owned, as was/is the water company, and, without the service of which not a teaspoon of water could be pumped from the Kentucky River, purified, and delivered throughout the area. One would expect an advocate of local ownership of the water-service company to also insist upon local ownership of the suppliers of electricity, gas, and phone/communication service, since these, too, have directly to do with the quality of life and, in some cases, even survival. Yet, Dr. Clark did not give evidence of pushing for these changes.

Nor was his position one that would be expected of an advocate for the main element endemic to having personal property, maintaining productivity, and private enterprise in general. His insistence that education be given priority surely had as one of its reasons the simple fact that educated people can be successful entrepreneurs, own businesses, pay taxes, do skilled work for others, and contribute to the welfare of the state. The city’s purchase of the water company would not be a problem for most people, including Dr. Clark. The condemnation of it, however, is another matter, never mind that a sum of money would be exchanged. The crux of the matter lies in whether or not for any reason a government should cannibalize an operation performing adequately and fairly and even regulated by the state, thereby changing the nature of that facility from one of private enterprise to one of socialism. A historian should look upon this type of governance as oppressive.

In summary, People can have honest differences about these three things. Most of the state’s citizens, disagreeing with Dr. Clark by simply noticing the chaos in both the administrative and legislative processes now and for the last 20 years, probably look askance at a constitutional convention, realizing that exponential mischief could be achieved in such an undertaking. For example, it was a terrible mistake for the legislature to undertake either the administration of or the pedagogy connected with the education system. It simply lacked competence for these things. Prior to that, the lawmakers, at the urging of the then-governor, ran all but one of the suppliers of medical insurance out of the state. It is a given that vested interests and not the welfare of the state would drive the lawmakers’ efforts at changing the Constitution.

While being a uniquely gifted historian, Dr. Clark perhaps didn’t have the background for recognizing the pitfalls many saw in outcomes-based education, with self-esteem perhaps being the linchpin of the whole mess. Using the schools as vehicles for social change is as wrong as using the military for that purpose. It is a matter of record that much of the reform act was pork, the element that greased the skids for its passage, and the best school systems, far from being rewarded, were shortchanged as huge outlays of cash went to systems in counties where taxes were levied and collected haphazardly at best, those very systems that engineered the court decisions leading disastrously to KERA. Strangely, even as he saw the system being dismantled, Dr. Clark continued to support it.

With regard to the water-company condemnation, Dr. Clark joined a sort of elite, generally wealthy group giving as a reason for their efforts the need to cadge the company’s profits for the citizens rather than for the company’s stockholders. This elitism would probably show up in the other two areas mentioned here, as well, driving a mind-set generally accorded to the majority of faculty members of universities throughout the nation, the area of endeavor in which Dr. Clark was engaged. It’s the “Big Brother” approach that is anathema to individualism, and is the opposite of what this nation is about.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Boy Columnist and His Flog

Here is a direct quote from Boy Columnist (Keeling) in the Lexington Herald-Leader of July 20: By the way, as someone who loves to play golf (although the backward spelling of the word more accurately describes my game), let me say that I do not begrudge Boy Governor one moment of the mid-week hours he has spent on the links lately. I just wish I was fortunate enough to have a job that demanded as little of my time as his apparently does.

Well now! Especially since the subject of his columns has been the same for months now, it would seem that two columns a week should not be too taxing. After all, Brammer, Cheves, and Alessi do the research, and Boy Columnist can check the TV for further facts from Stottlemyer and Peel. He can also listen to Al Smith’s Comment on Kentucky every Friday or Sunday on KET to further be elucidated, unless, of course, his “flog” takes up too much time for that.

Admittedly, BC also has a commitment to the L-H editorial board, known as the Giddy Gang, made up of eight people; therefore, he is at least one-eighth responsible for what that entails, not that anyone probably knows, since even the head honchos get in on the act once in a while with a screed about something or other usually having to do with things or people such as the Great Satan, otherwise known as Karl Rove, or something more important, like the new license plates or the fact that downtown is being ignored by the general public. Sometimes the editorials make sense, like the one about the plates not being needed at this time; sometimes the offerings are too off the wall to be taken seriously, such as when the editorialists in 2001 extolled the closing of the second-most important street in town – Vine, or, more recently, cannibalizing the water company, a private enterprise just as is the newspaper. Go figure.

In any case, Boy Columnist and the GG should be aware of any possible trauma that could be occasioned by overwork, especially with reference to BC, who, besides his editorial-writing, has to deliver those two columns on the same subject every week. Since the subject is the same, BC must figure a new way to approach it each time, and that could mean a mind-bending effort trending even toward physical impairment, especially since things are slow in the summer anyway. It would be mean-spirited to suggest that BC can’t think of anything else to write about, so it’s easier to just assume that he’s been assigned to write about the same thing twice a week by the powers-that-be and let it go at that.

Added to the problem could be possible mental strain brought on, as BC described it in a recent rant, by the exhaust fumes from his lawnmower. It may well be that the L-H should spring for the fee required to have BC’s lawn mowed by a third party, the better to save his strength, with the added factor that failing to do so might put the paper at risk from a BC lawsuit premised upon mental damage and physical fatigue due to the fact that he is both too underpaid to afford grass-cutting relief and too overworked in having to write about the same thing twice a week in columns while sometimes having to write editorially about it yet again, at least on one day out of eight. One might suggest that columns could be at least sketched in BC’s mind while he’s either mowing or flogging, but there’s that awful exhaust on the one hand and the total mental and physical concentration required for a score even as bad as 100 on the other.

Since everyone is writing a book baring all these days, BC perhaps should consider a tell-all book about the Giddy Gang…or maybe the Giggly Gaggle…whatever. In the diversity-sensitive, multiculturally humane, politically correct society of today, especially as espoused by the very hallowed Herald-Leader itself, he could be the penultimate whistle-blower, accusing the paper of traumatizing an overworked, lawnmower-damaged (to the paper’s certain knowledge) employee to such an extent that he has become permanently flog-impaired. What a deal!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Muslim Problem - WWIII

The USA is in World War III, which, besides being a conflict between nations and/or groups of nations, is based on wildly differing “religious” philosophies, the coveted territories being both tangible and mental. While perhaps not deriving completely from the “Crusades” affairs of centuries ago, WWIII comes close. The main difference is in the ability of nations to do very quickly now what demanded years in the long ago. Those who try to connect the USA with the Crusades do so in error because this country did not become a nation for centuries after the bloody battles of the long ago. The Muslims love to cite the fact that we are the reincarnation of the Great Satan of those times, but reasonable people, including the Muslims, know better.

Despite all protestations to the contrary by peace-loving Muslims, whether real or imagined, pagan Islam premises as its evangelizing tool the physical overcoming of infidels – better still, their deaths. This is being cruelly carried out through much of the world today, particularly that part including the Middle East, North Africa, and the western Pacific between latitudes 10 degrees north and south. Africa and Asia are critical. In terms of religion, Muslims and Christians are about evenly divided in Africa. In Asia, Muslims outnumber Christians by 2.6 to 1. Worldwide, there are 2.1 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims. The number for Christians is misleading, however, since the number of Christians who actually practice their faith is much smaller than noted. For instance, Christianity in Europe is totally dead and not a prominent issue in this country, notwithstanding all the ballyhoo to the contrary. Muslims have little choice. They practice, or else.

It seems improbable that there will be large land-armies again. There will have to be enough personnel to maintain occupancy for relatively short periods, such as in Iraq. That period of occupancy, despite what anyone says about “staying the course,” should be greatly shortened after the beginning of 2006, if not before. The sooner the USA leaves now, the sooner the Iraqis will settle all their issues, one way or another, and they may not go for an America-style democracy. If so, so be it. They are not now a world threat, as was the case under Saddam. People in this country do not think in either global or historic terms, so the lessons of other periods and wars are lost on them. People in this country can’t find the wherewithal to face less than three deaths a day in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, so they have no capacity for understanding how the nation could have stood for losing between 320 and 330 Americans a day during the 4.5 actual years of combat in WW I and II. In Vietnam, the number was 20 deaths per day (using the figure of 8 years), and in the Korean conflict 34 Americans died each day over a three-year period. Rumsfeld knows that a draft is not acceptable any time soon. Besides, it’s only in the army that recruitment goals have not been met this year. Once the caterwauling has stopped, enlistments will pick up, young people being what they are.

The Muslims intend to “drive us into the sea.” They have said as much, and their holy writ demands it. The best weapon is the one that looms largest – the ability to completely wipe out any nation’s military capability. This can be done with current weaponry. Removing the threat of Islam is all that matters. The nations such as Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which countenance terrorist activity, either de jour or de facto, need to understand that we can and will destroy every military installation and utility network they have, always hoping for the minimum amount of collateral damage. In 1992, the USA was still geared up for war, right after Kuwait…quite strong. When the WTC was bombed the first time, in 1993, the hammer should have fallen, probably on Egypt, from where it was easily and quickly proven the destructive impulse had come. This would have meant no more aid and the unmistakable message that Egypt would stamp out its terrorism program or see all of its military installations, as well as other facilities, blown into ashes. That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen when the African embassies were bombed in 1998, or at other times in the 90s when Americans were butchered, but by that time the military was not an important tool of government. Now, the military is by far the most important aspect of government.

Bush said in 2000 that the USA would not indulge in nation-building. He went back on his word in Iraq, but is finding out that Muslims do not nation-build the way Americans do. Americans do it by law. Muslims do it by the sword. In any case they, relatively uneducated and totally ignorant of democracy, cannot do in 24 months or so what it took this nation years to do, despite its fairly well educated population. It seems clear that the USA will not occupy another country. It doesn’t actually occupy Afghanistan with some 17,000 or so troops (that figure not available, actually, though compared to 40,000 in both South Korea and Japan), and America will not occupy Iraq. The notion that it would ever occupy China or India is too wild to comprehend. Destruction of infrastructure is the key that will scare nations into clamping down on their terrorists. The USA must be overwhelmingly superior in the technology of destruction…breaking things, killing people…but land wars are out.

In the meantime, not one person of Middle-East descent or from any Middle-East country or known to be an adherent of Islam from anywhere should be allowed to enter this country any time soon, even temporarily, and all who are still here illegally should be shipped out ASAP, as has happened to many already. There are enough Muslims here now, augmented by African-American Muslims. It was seen on 9/11 what Muslims who lived and were trained in America can and will do, as well as in the Muslim bloodthirstiness in Madrid and in the American Embassy bombings in Africa. It was seen just this week what Muslims born and educated in England will do to innocent people, particularly as ambassadors of Islam in their own country and brainwashed to the extent that they will blow themselves up in order to draw blood. They are the same as the kamikaze pilots in the Pacific in WWII (to whom Japanese Emperor Hirohito was god, in whose name, therefore, one should commit suicide/homicide), and how many of them are living right now in this country (to whom Allah is god, in whose name, therefore, one should kill)? Those who are taught self-immolation as glorification in the killing of the most vulnerable are both uncivilized and taught by the uncivilized. If it is determined that a mosque is the center of terrorist activity (as often seems the case (witness London and the “shoe-bomber”), the mosque should be shut down, notwithstanding all the caterwauling by the politically correct. That would not be an abridgment of religious freedom, but an act of self-defense.

Those who blame American and coalition forces for bringing on terrorist attacks because of the Iraqi war are blowing smoke. Three thousand Americans were brutally murdered on Sept. 11, 2001, and that was long before the Iraqi war, as was all the butchering of the 90s. Those who blame USA support for Israel for the carnage are also loony-tunes. The Islam-induced terror derives from the incessant drive of militant Muslims to own the world, as was the case with the Soviet Union during 1945-90. Whether driven by pagan worship or hedonistic greed, the result is the same – butchering in the name of a godless ideology. For the majority of Muslims, who desire peace, these statements seem harsh, but if they will not take control of their own fellow-worshipers and stop the bloodletting, then so be it.

Though USA society is gradually rotting from the inside out in its obsession with entertainment, obesity, sex, perversion, and political correctness accruing to the notion that “anything goes if it feels good and the state should guarantee it,” it is not yet ready for the taking. It may implode at some point, but it wont be brought to its knees by a bunch of monsters who think a couple of beheadings is just an afternoon of fun.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Farrakhan in Lexington

One could try, but might find it impossible to handle this conundrum: Representatives of Minister Farrakhan were in town on the 12th whipping up support for something called the Millions More rally to be foisted off on the nation’s capital Oct. 14-16. Farrakhan is the head honcho of something called the NATION OF ISLAM. Should anything more be said? Imagine: at a time when people all over the world are murdering other people in the name of ISLAM’s Allah (god) in places such as restaurants, commuter trains, and on other forms of public transportation, not to mention those warriors of god who perpetrated 9/11 and murdered 3,000 Americans in cold blood, the term ISLAM (religious setting of Allah) is actually used as a tool encouraging support for anything.

MILLIONS MORE is the sequel to the MILLION-MAN MARCH of 1995, also in D.C., which the National Park Service said was attended by 400,000 people. Obviously, most of the attendees were African-American men, the group for whom the one-day affair was designed. The Nation of Islam spearheaded this event, to which men traveled from all over the nation, some bringing their sons with them. Minister Louis Farrakhan, born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933, in Bronx, N.Y., embarked on a "World Friendship Tour" a few months after the 1995 event, visiting radical Muslim regimes in Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria, where he hobnobbed with the likes of Moamar Qaddafi, at that time a sworn enemy of the United States.

Jeff Fort was once the leader of the Black P Stone Nation gang (sometimes known as El Rukn, Arabic for "The Foundation"). Here is an excerpt by William Grigg in the NEW AMERICAN of December 2002: In 1987, while serving a federal prison term in Texas, Fort learned that "Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan had received $5 million from the Libyan government," notes a 1997 Justice Department report. Accordingly, "Fort developed a plan to perform acts of terrorism within the United States in return for an annual payment of $1 million from Libya. In telephone conversations from inside prison, Fort discussed destroying a federal building, blowing up an airplane, killing a Milwaukee alderman, and committing a ‘killing here and there’ with his fellow gang members. Fort instructed gang members to meet with representatives from the Libyan government, which the gang members did on two occasions. Fort also instructed the gang members to purchase a hand-held rocket launcher, which they also did." According to USA Today of November 7, 2004, as of Dec. 31, 2003, about 44% of all prison inmates were black, while only 12.3% of the population is African American. In a 1994 speech, Farrakhan referred to Hitler as a very great man. So much for Minister Farrakhan, and this is but the tip of the iceberg. He purports to be prominent in MILLIONS MORE, but his presence alone is enough to warn off those whose intentions are noble.

It is interesting that women will be invited to the October occasion, unlike the situation in 1995. This may not be designed to increase the size of the crowd, but one wonders. Concerning Louis Farrakhan, about as anti-American as one can get, CNN’s Charles Bierbauer had this to say on October 17, 1995: Minister Louis Farrakhan called for "a million sober, disciplined, committed, dedicated, inspired black men to meet in Washington on a day of atonement." The African-American community -- and much of the white -- found the idea admirable. So…what was the fallout from this memorable gathering designed for African-American men to atone for their sins, become committed and sober, and dedicated to whatever? Maybe the women who have been invited this year would be especially interested in this. In the process, of course, they would be forced to face the possibility that their possible/probable dereliction in the past with respect to discipline, dedication, and atonement would be called into account. After all, it takes two to tango.

Whereas in 1970 59% of black children lived with both parents, by 1994 that statistic had dropped to 33%, cause for the actually interested participants in the 1995 march to be alarmed and consequently seriously hoping to reverse the trend. Four years later, in a 1999 study reported by the Urban Institute, 6.5% of poor black children lived with both parents, while only 3.1% of poor black infants lived with both parents. The 1995 event might hopefully have helped with the matter of illegitimate births in the black community, which stood at 69.9% then, up from 37.5% in 1970. However, in 2002, the figure was only slightly lower at 68.2%, but may be higher today. Percentage-wise, the statistics are far more condemnatory concerning white illegitimacy, the number of births out of wedlock in the white community standing at 5.5% in 1970, but rising to 28.5% by 2002, for an unbelievable 418% increase, whereas in the black community the increase was by 82%. Something actually serious akin to MILLIONS MORE wouldn’t hurt the white men/women in the country (if actually effective – highly doubtful), but that’s not likely to happen, social mores being what they are today, marriage becoming more of either an interesting anachronism or something with which to dally since divorce is so easy…and who gives a damn about the children anyway?

The 1995 affair was addressed by some speakers who either at that time or later gave the lie to the whole effort. A speaker and the chief organizer of the march was Ben Chavis, the former executive director of the NAACP who was kicked out of that office amid sexual-harassment charges before 1995. With his background, what was he doing by even being there? Marion Barry, former D.C. mayor who had served a prison term on drug charges (caught on FBI videotape smoking crack well before the march) was a speaker – why? Congressman Charlie Rangel was a speaker and, though not being slammed here for anything in 1995, made the statement last month comparing the Iraq War with the Holocaust – the Holocaust, with its 6 million Jews and 5 million others murdered? Rangel introduced a bill in 2003 mandating a draft for military service. Will he be back for MILLIONS MORE?

Perhaps the most egregious of all as a speaker or even as a man was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who three years after the march helped conceive a child as a result of an affair with a Rainbow/Push staffer. From funds of his organization, which is tax-exempt, she was given $40,000 to relocate to California, with $3,000 a month as income, and furnished a whopping $365,000 to buy a house. At the time, he was some sort of spiritual adviser to then-President Clinton, who was up to his neck (literally) in the Monica Lewinski Affair, semen on the blue dress and all the other sordidness connected to that mess. This was the stamp left on the MILLION-MAN MARCH.

Anyone (certainly any Christian) who connects himself/herself to MILLIONS MORE, unless Minister Farrakhan removes himself entirely from it, will be sullied. Part of the belief system of his sect is acceptance of the Koran, upon the basis of which Muslims turn themselves or others into suicide/homicide murderers of innocent women and children. If speakers of the caliber of those mentioned here – and there are bound to be some rappers, devotees of rape and police-killing, in the interest of attracting the young – show up at Farrakhan’s party, the stamp of ten years ago will remain ingrained. In any case, just as the MILLION-MAN MARCH seems to have amounted to nothing, MILLIONS MORE will follow in its train. Atonement and commitment are individual matters not effected or affected by large celebrations of the human condition, whether as is or as should be.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, July 10, 2005

LOTA Redux

The saga of the lady of the afternoon (hereinafter referred to as LOTA) is on again after having been interdicted by LOTA herself. Readers of MUCKRAKER of June 20 or the Lexington Herald-Leader may remember the details. If not, that article is in the Archives for perusal and may even be interesting to those who haven’t been aware of this strange happening. The other player in the affair is a god of the hardwood (hereinafter referred to as GOTH, naturally, with all the potential meaning involved), who dallied with LOTA on an April afternoon in a university dormitory housing mostly the august and much revered basketball players. She called the hanky panky rape some 24-36 hours after the fact, while GOTH called it consensual – through his lawyer, of course. Later after making her charge, she stopped cooperating, so, without a victim, the matter was ended. GOTH, a high-profile player, was named, of course, especially in Sports Pages all over the land, but LOTA, a 29-year-old mom, was spared that notoriety, at least in the city of its circumstances, the better to protect her good name, even though the local daily knew it early on and actually contacted the woman a few times, even to the point of writing her a letter.

It has already been determined that GOTH’s coach was contacted by the police chief, not unusual in high-profile cases, according to the chief, and anything having to do with a UK basketball player is so high-profile that mere things like terrorist attacks pale into insignificance by comparison. According to the Herald-Leader of July 8, the university president didn’t know the coach had been involved in conversations with LOTA, according to a spokesman for the prexy. The plot thickens. According to the H-L, LOTA told the paper that she and her attorney had been involved in – negotiations – with GOTH, GOTH’s attorney, and the coach.

NEGOTIATIONS??? Precisely how does a rape victim and her attorney negotiate with her attacker and her attacker’s coach and her attacker’s attorney? If a crime has been committed – and now the lady has turned in a formal complaint – who’s supposed to negotiate what and with what and with whom – if anyone? Seems the “negotiations” ended when it was determined that LOTA didn’t have the “date rape” drug in her system, though she had complained about strange stuff she ingested on that afternoon. LOTA told the paper she did not want money from the player (probably a dry well there, anyway – no Kobe Bryant deep pockets), but that she asked the coach and GOTH for increased security at the dormitory and counseling for GOTH, and that GOTH’s representatives (presumably the coach and GOTH’s lawyer) were agreeable. Does that mean a rape charge was traded for two things that amounted to nothing? In any case, GOTH has been out in California sweating out the NBA draft since then, but may be somewhere else now.

Now, LOTA has new attorneys. Why does a rape victim need attorneys? Isn’t it the job of the local commonwealth’s attorney to prosecute rape cases? She has produced for the paper records showing she had other drugs in her system, ingested unknowingly by her, of course, on that fateful afternoon. This apparently is the new evidence upon which the case can be restarted. GOTH’s attorney provided LOTA proof that GOTH is not HIV-positive…at least one bright spot in this quagmire. So…the case is in the hands of the county attorney, and the prosecutors will try to sort things out. This won’t be easy, since, as the H-L reported on July 10, LOTA has a history of drug use, at one time had problems with an estranged boyfriend, the father of her daughter, and statements have been made to police by a man who said LOTA was smoking marijuana the evening before the April afternoon.

The university prexy found out about the whole mess from the athletic director on the day the story broke back in April. What happened during the eight days between the event and the reporting of it? Negotiations? So, who told the athletic director…and when? At present, both the prexy and the AD are out of town, and one is left wondering exactly what has happened and when…if anybody cares to say anything. The coach apparently doesn’t respond to the newspaper’s calls. Keep listening. This is cruder than any soap opera.

The whole mess represents tragedy for everyone involved, as well as the university, which, because of the well-publicized peccadilloes of a number of its athletes for decades, has had enough grief. LOTA has lawyers, so is she thinking of, by either going the court-system route (civil action) or the possibly consequent easier way of negotiations, sweating some cash out of the university? A rape conviction was not necessary in the Kobe Bryant case in order for the alleged victim to effect an out-of-court settlement with Bryant, but O.J. Simpson lost the civil case after being acquitted in the criminal action. Where does all this leave the university president and the athletic director (better than a half-a-million-a-year guy) and the coach (never mind the inflated 7-figure income statistics for him in Kentucky, where basketball trumps everything and the coach is considered just next to Michael the Archangel)?

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whither the Church?

While the family is the most important unit in the social fabric of a nation, it’s axiomatic that the most stabilizing institution in any country is the church, and for purposes of this essay the collective branches of the Judeo-Christian church. In this country, the church has always stood as a bulwark against the encroachment of social ills, not as an arm of government, certainly, but as a primary influence in the lives of the citizens who run the socio-economic machine and determine the mandates and parameters of government. As the nation slips and slides toward more and more coarseness (denoted in such things as TV entertainment, inordinate obsession with sports, intolerable weakening of education systems, deplorable antics of politicians, an “anything goes” attitude about sex), it would be expected that the church would put on the brakes and then reverse the trends. This is not happening.

On Independence Day in Atlanta, the governing body of the United Church of Christ officially sanctioned the marriage of men to each other and the wedding of women to each other, thus approving as perfectly normal the consequent homosexual practices regarded as unnatural, unseemly, and sinful in holy scriptures and, on merit and by definition, perverted as a common-sense matter. Though hard to believe in the raucous atmosphere of today, there once were “sodomy laws” (fairly recently declared unconstitutional by the Supremes), and, though they were virtually unenforceable, they at least made a statement, to wit, that perversion was not acceptable even in private. The UCC, disregarding its own scriptural foundation, has done spiritually what the SCOTUS did legally, a far worse violation of the being made in God’s image. Thus, the UCC joined the slipping and the sliding, rather than dig in its heels.

Not all churches/denominations have been willing to join in the journey to oblivion, a la the licentious journeying of other social orders throughout history. Was it the Romans who thought pedophilia a perfectly normal pastime? The so-called evangelical groups and Roman Catholics have dug in their heels and are roundly and consistently criticized by the sophisticates, both secular and sacred, for their insensitivity to the fact that no one’s psyche should be disrupted by an absolute; rather, they insist that all things come in shades of gray or that everything is relative or that there is no such thing as perversion per se, since all is in the mind of the practitioner of whatever.

The evangelical groups, while not racking up huge increases in membership, are at least not losing members, though they tend to adopt “worldly” standards and methods (rock bands, alternate worship styles, casualness, etc.) in an effort to hang on at a time when secularism increases in intensity, and churchgoers seem more interested in entertainment and feeling good than in serious worship and sacrifice. Not so with the “mainliners,” the old-line Protestant groups that were once the bedrock of U.S. Christianity. In their constant bickering especially about homosexual marriages and ordination of homosexuals to church offices, they have leaned toward political correctness to the point that they face the total loss of spiritual correctness, turning on their respective heads the centuries-long and time-tested doctrines that have obtained during the time the church has been strong. As a result, while many evangelical groups have sort of stagnated at worst, the mainline denominations have been losing membership consistently for years, even as the population has grown.

During 1996-2004, the UCC has lost 13% of its membership while it has catered to political correctness. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and the Episcopal Church have lost, respectively, 11, 4, 8, and 8 percent of their memberships while all of them have argued over the homosexual question and seem increasingly to lean toward doing what the UCC has officially done. Indeed, the Episcopal Church, a part of the Anglican worldwide community, probably would already have done what the UCC has done, absent the ferocious opposition of fellow communicants in Third World countries. The nadir was reached recently when an openly, practicing homosexual was ordained a bishop in New Hampshire. The average loss in membership 1996-2004 of the five mainline denominations noted here is nine percent, the obvious conclusion to be drawn simply that they are withering on the vine.

At least in part, this explains why the so-called religious right (evangelical folks) is so much in the news and so venomously attacked by those who claim it forms a threat to the well-being of the nation, i.e., that it opposes the “anything goes” insistence declared by the sophisticates to be politically, and therefore spiritually, correct. These evangelicals form a large voting bloc, not just in the South but throughout the nation, and, of course, are logically found predominately to be conservative voters (therefore republican-oriented), never mind their party affiliations. They see the movement in the mainline churches as not just disruptive of sacred canon, but as totally destructive of it. Since destruction of what they consider their personal moral compass is operative, they go toward the church-think that most nearly comports with their think.

Despite all the noise about the marvelous superiority of those who recognize diversity, multiculturalism, political correctness, and “entering the real world” as infinitely more to be desired than the stodginess they see connected with traditional Christian principles, reasonable people are loath to embrace or have forced upon them as normal and desired what amounts to pernicious perversion, no matter from the church, government, PACs, or any other entity. The UCC has laid down its marker, and it appears that its fellow denominations mentioned above are about to deploy the same marker. More’s the pity as their actual worth and work are sacrificed on the altar of conceived expediency, when the marker laid down by Jesus Christ had to do with sacrifice and a hard swim up the stream…another way of saying “digging in one’s heels.”

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, July 02, 2005

To Abort or Not to Abort

Abortion is generally accounted by its advocates as a form of birth control and the legal exercise of a woman to engage her privacy rights. There’s no argument with this, especially the former, though it would appear that a prospective father or boy friend who has furnished half the wherewithal for the pregnancy and who is reluctant to see the fetus aborted should have something to say in the matter. Since most abortions flow from fornication rather than fatherhood, however, there actually is no argument with the latter, either, though it should be noted that the abortion represents a convenience for both the stud and the pregnant woman and therefore has little to do with a conscious effort at birth control, privacy, or anything else.

Since an abortion is the killing of something (person, embryo, fetus, mere tissue) that’s alive, it’s sort of the same as one’s having a healthy appendix removed, for instance, simply getting rid of something that’s alive and well but nevertheless could become an inconvenience. Regardless of what the social engineers say, however, this procedure can grow into something more than just a method for inducing convenience, and, more to the point, its acceptance in any civilized nation as a perfectly normal happenstance reflects a coarseness that bodes ill for the most important and strongest institution endemic to any civilized society – the family defined as one woman and one man with or without children, legally documented, and subject to the laws pertaining to marriage (by definition establishing the gender requirement).

Currently, abortion advocates are wringing their hands and wailing to the skies over the resignation from the Supreme Court of Associate Justice O’Connor, since she has been the swing voter in many Court decisions, not the least important of which have had to do with the abortion matter, its unlimited license codified in the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973. Their fear is that President Bush will nominate someone who looks with a jaundiced eye at abortion and will seek to, if not overturn it, at least weaken it. Anti-abortion advocates, of course, hope he will do just that.

Those who believe abortion is just a routine correcting of a physical problem such as gall-bladder surgery obviously believe a fetus is not a human being; otherwise, aborting it would amount to murder. Legally, they’re right. However, if they can agree that abortion is not a good thing in and of itself (and most would), they would do well to consider how constraints on abortion might curtail the use of a procedure that is not good. As it stands now, a girl/woman can engage freely in unprotected sex knowing that she can have the relatively simple and painless abortion if she “gets caught.” If the law were made more restrictive, she at least might consider protection, which might also guard against STDs…an actual plus all around even though it emanates from an abortion law. This is not even to consider the psychological ramifications of what amounts to killing an eventual human being.

In any case, Roe/Wade will not soon be overturned, if ever. Since the only thing worse than an abortion (the interdiction of a potential life) perhaps is the bearing of an unwanted child, the law may be useful, not for the convenience of the pregnant woman or her paramour, but for the welfare of a child brought into a world where he/she may well be unloved, abused, malnourished, poorly educated, and dealt a losing hand all around. People who are willing to destroy a fetus are not fit to be parents, and a child should not be subjected to their upbringing, or, more likely, their non-upbringing. The media is saturated daily with accounts of the miseries of children who would have been better off aborted.

Absent Roe/Wade, there would be about 44 million more Americans today plus a few million of the offspring of those who would have been born…say between 1973 and 1983…maybe 50 million or so altogether. What would that have meant to the country? This is an interesting question.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark