Saturday, December 31, 2005

God and the Nation in 2006

Here is a recent paragraph by the resident political blogger of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Boy Columnist (aka Larry Keeling): "I feel this is what the Lord wanted me to do," Carroll Rousey, who put up a display that includes the Ten Commandments in the Mercer County Courthouse and who has been asking businesses and other organizations to hang the Decalogue as well, told the Herald-Leader. Yet three judges in the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said in an opinion issued this week, "The Mercer County display ... lacks a ... sectarian pedigree" and that "the predominant purpose of the 'Foundations' display is secular" in concluding that "the reasonable person" would find the display to be a government endorsement of religion. Now, I know what is meant by the saying about justice being blind (underline mine). BC was obviously perturbed by this state of affairs, although he did not bother to explain any of the facts that bore on the matter in this particular situation. He might have done well to include them, but, then, that might have been anathema to his opinion. It is doubtful that his degree of wisdom surpasses that of the 6th Circuit.

To get a perspective on how far the nation has moved from one standing on Christian principles to where the nation is today, one might consider this quote from William Howard Taft, president from 1909 to 1917, less than a hundred years ago. Now no man can study the movement of modern civilization from an impartial standpoint and not realize that Christianity and the spread of Christianity are the only basis for hope of modern civilization in the growth of popular self-government. The spirit of Christianity is pure democracy. It is the equality of man before God, equality of man before the law, which is as I understand it the most godlike manifestation that man has been able to make. … And therefore when it becomes the Christian duty of a nation to assist another nation, the Constitution authorizes it, because it is part of national well-being.

This is what Abraham Lincoln had to say at his second inaugural in 1865: Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

This is what George Washington had to say in his inaugural speech as his first act as president in 1789: It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act of my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

These quotes speak for themselves with regard to the relationship each of their originators felt existed between the nation and God. In their current attempt to dislodge from the national persona any connection of it with God, those who insist that the nation has no foundation in the precepts of Holy Scripture, including the Decalogue, expect to be taken more seriously than Washington, Lincoln, and Taft. This is folly on their part.

One has only to look at “Old Europe,” where the worship of God and attention to biblical injunctions have almost totally disappeared to see where this nation is heading if it continues to be bedeviled by those who would even take “Merry Christmas” from the national rhetoric. A pox on their houses! Only as the populace attempts to adhere to the injunctions of Holy Scripture (not the Koran, either) can it expect to survive. More specifically, it is the Christian concept that obtains, both on its own and as derived from the Judeo foundation. This has nothing to do with an abridgement of the 1st Amendment, certainly does not prescribe or foreclose an establishment of religion, and, on merit, simply identifies an ethic that can work. As the nation continues to slip into a moral quagmire, identified easily on either the Evening News or the garbage offered by the TV industry, its people will do well to pay attention to Taft, Lincoln, and Washington…and even to the 6th Circuit.

As a new year begins, it is well to consider whether the self-appointed keepers of the national conscience ensconced in their pitiful mental-caves of pseudo-sophisticated-ultra-liberalism housing the “if it feels good, do it” ethic will prevail, or if, on the other hand, the sober tenets of the faith are to be the standard.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Intelligent Design vis-a-vis Public Schools

In a recent blog, Boy Columnist, also known as Larry Keeling and resident guru of the Lexington Herald-Leader, made this mention: U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III nailed it in the Dover, Pa., "intelligent design" case. Creationism by any other name still isn't science. Notwithstanding the claim of a number of respected scientists that there is ample evidence to support the Intelligent Design concept, BC has a point in noting the judge’s statement.

Those who demand that ID be “taught” in public schools may do well to concede that it needs to be handled in classes that deal more with the abstract than with the tangible, i.e., that ID is more readily understood as a “belief” than as a proven concept. Since philosophy, as such, is not usually a public-school subject, and with good reason, there is little opportunity for the discussion of ID. Perhaps it could be part of the sociology/psychology/history curriculum or as part of any classes dealing with the arts – music, poetry, painting – particularly since a huge segment, probably the largest body of works in the arts, has been conceived within the context of spiritual convictions, Christian, Jewish, and otherwise.

On merit alone, Intelligent Design can stand quite solidly. Anyone with walking-around-sense can look at his surroundings and understand ID. Or, anyone who has sat in a physics or chemistry class can hardly escape noticing the intricate design of the planet and its inhabitants, organic and otherwise. Quite aside from this is the fact that scientists held in high repute insist that ID is for real and offer cogent arguments proving it. While there is no argument against the theory of evolution or the fact of it, with respect to things non-human, it has never been established scientifically or otherwise that human beings have evolved from a lower form of life. The “AHA! GOTCHA!” pronouncements that routinely come from the anthropologists who claim to be getting closer to it never eventuate in noting the discovery of that elusive “missing link” that is vital to connecting the long-tailed apes that can eat tree-bark quite well, thank you, with the no-tailed homo sapiens, who gag upon a bit of grass.

Actually, no one who has ever lived – or who has bothered to remark it, in any case – has had a clue as to the actual science or method of the beginnings of things. The “Big Bangers” are silent now, since the Big Bang theory just doesn’t cut it. Neither does any other. For the believer in the God of the Holy Scriptures, there is good reason that no one will ever discover the beginnings, namely that to do so would equate a mere human with God. Such a person could create his/her own universe, a possibility too remote even to reflect upon. For the atheist, there’s no problem, since he/she is interested only in the “scientific process,” if any at all, a process that can titillate at best, but never deliver the eternal answer.

Will anyone ever discover the actual nature of the beginnings? Of course not, but ALL theories should be presented in some form during the educational process, no matter how reasonable-seeming or how silly.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, December 23, 2005

Another Davis Dipsy-Do

One of the resident “Bushwhackers” at the Lexington Herald-Leader is Merlene Davis, who…well…doesn’t like WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), especially of the male variety, of which the prez is one, by his own account. Ms. Davis was in an obvious fit of perturbation while writing a recent column, snippets of which are noted below in black type, with a few Muckraker remarks in red.

How safe do you feel? “Depends on where you are – Nicholasville Road or Fort Campbell. Considering no terrorist attacks in this country for more than four years, the USA is not too bad a place. Ask the folks in Spain and England and Indonesia and Holland and Sudan and Somalia and Lebanon and Zimbabwe and Kenya. Only two million have been murdered by Islamic butchers in Sudan lately, though, so maybe folk there are safer than all of us, huh?”

In a news conference Monday, President Bush said he authorized more than 30 incidents of warrantless domestic wiretaps, but only against "those with known links to Al-Qaida," so America would be safe. “So what!”

"I intend to do so so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of enemies wanting to kill American citizens," he said. “So what!”

The fact that there is a longstanding process in place through which the president could have asked for and gotten the wiretaps doesn't seem to matter. “Do you ever read anything besides the Herald-Leader…or even that? The reasons he gave, particularly concerning the time element and the latest technology involved, were instructive to people who read/listen.”

Sidestepping due process doesn't diminish civil liberties, Bush said. It keeps us all safe. “Yeah…but due process is in the eye of the beholder. The fact that some folk disagree with the prez doesn’t mean he’s wrong. It just means that elections are coming up next year. Even at that, the folk in Congress didn’t let the Patriot Act die.”

He said that as president, he had the right to authorize the eavesdropping to prevent another terrorist attack like the one on Sept. 11, 2001. “Yeah…that’s exactly how Slick Willie let the FBI/CIA catch old Aldrich Ames, perhaps the most egregious traitor in American history. You figure the big guy (with his Mardi Gras beads…remember how you liked them) threatened your safety when he did that?”

What more do we have to give up for our safety's sake? The freedoms we boast of in America, the rights we claim places like Afghanistan and Iraq do not have, are slowly but surely disappearing. “Such as? Okay…granted…there are speed limits on Lexington streets, so you might be picked up (without a warrant) if you’re tooling along too fast, with your mind on a little, typical ‘hate piece’ for the paper instead of on the road. Try e-mailing a tidbit about the nerve gas at the munitions depot over near Richmond, though, and VOILA!!!…a warrantless snatching of your hard drive!!!! Or somebody recording your cell-phone info about how to make a meatloaf. Oh…to be in Afghanistan instead of this awful monarchy ruled by King George XLIII.”

And it's not surreptitious. We're giving them up willingly. “Exactly what’s not surreptitious? Anyway, if something’s given up willingly, it can’t, by definition, be given up surreptitiously, unless, of course, it’s like a situation right off the Oval Office with an intern. Chalk one up for yourself. Everyone’s in on the act, watching everything being given up…un-surreptitiously, that is.”

We want to give up the rights this country's founders placed in our Constitution because we think it will help us return to the old days when we had nothing to fear. “Exactly what ‘old days’ do you have in mind? Try 1941-45, when FDR suspended habeas corpus – horrors, he was returning us to the ‘old days,’ maybe? Or, there was Lincoln and his suspension of habeas corpus. Didn’t he even declare martial law? And there was that Emancipation Proclamation. Egad…how could he do such a thing? That definitely was un-Constitutional.”

Those days are gone, folks. And with the shortcuts the White House is taking, when will we stop fearing terrorists and start fearing our government? “Do I have to make a choice between the ghost of Mohammad Atta (look him up if you’ve forgotten) in case he’s still hovering around the WTC? I haven’t noticed much fear around here of the federalistas, but folk that run the IRS can be scary. If you’re worried, be sure to have plenty of lights around your house so that no square inch of property is not covered, and be sure your gun permit (surely you have one) is in good order. Folk in Afghanistan – that paradise – all have guns, and folk in Iraq have sharp knives in case a quick beheading (preferably of a white anglo-saxon Protestant male-factor) is in order.”

When it was revealed that the United States has conducted kidnappings of suspected terrorists and whisked them to secret torture chambers, there was a little grumbling, but not as much as you would think. “I’m surprised you heard any grumbling. The whisking of suspected terrorists is not much of a worry around these parts. Actually, suspected terrorists are usually arrested, not kidnapped. Kidnapping is an Al Qaeda thing…remember Daniel Pearl?”

That was overseas, we said. That doesn't happen here. “Yeah! You want torture? Try the Holocaust camps. Try the Japanese coal mines in WWII, where American GIs were enslaved. Try the Bataan Death March. Try Hanoi, where John McCain lived for a while. Think Malmedy almost exactly 61 years ago – nearly 80 American POWs gunned down or clubbed to death. Yeah…that was overseas. And, you’re right…it doesn’t happen here. The guys on Death Rows and child-molesters deserve to be horse-whipped every day, but that doesn’t happen here.”

When some of the detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were asking for their civil rights, we Americans closed our ears. “They don’t have any civil rights. They gave them up when they shot at American GIs. The Americans in German stalags gave up their civil rights when they shot at Germans in WWII. By contrast, Tookie Williams, a cold-blooded murderer of four people and initiator of the murderous Crips, exercised his ‘civil rights’ for over 20 years before getting what he deserved. The same is true for any white man who has gone the same route.”

The end justified the means, we said. “Precisely what ‘end’ do you have in mind? And precisely to what ‘means’ do you refer?”

With these new circumventions of our laws, with us doing things we accuse terrorists of doing, what distinguishes us from them? “That is a truly incredible question. For starters, have you heard of any beheadings in the Fayette County jail lately?”

Bush authorized the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance of e-mails and phone calls of folks on our home soil without first getting a court warrant. “So……”

Did he have a change of heart, once his actions were revealed? “Ya got me.”

No. “Aw…you knew all the time.” Bush criticized the leak that led to the eavesdropping report in The New York Times a week ago, instead of being critical of the spying he had authorized. “You gotta hand it to him. He can be stubborn. It’s easy for you, with no responsibility for any life-or-death decisions on a daily – or any – basis to say that, but try putting yourself in his place.”

Kill the messenger. “Hey…that’s not a bad idea for how to handle the New York Times. You stumbled headlong into a truth. Hopefully, that won’t ruin your appetite, but being attacked by a truth can be traumatic, especially if you’re not accustomed to being confronted by the truth.”

Where are our minds, people? “Good question! Start by trying to determine where yours is.” Surely we can get at the terrorists without handing over our civil liberties to do so. Surely. “Yeah! An M-16 comes readily to mind for getting at terrorists, but only with the proper permit, of course. SURELY!!!”

Even though the White House said the president has a right to do such things, the Times said the spy program was reined in when the administration learned the story was about to come out. “Wonder why? How many of your e-mail messages would you like the public to see? How would such disclosure affect your credibility, not to mention your methods, the noting of which might compromise your ability to get the ‘news.’ Get it? In WWII, there was a saying: ‘Loose lips sink ships.’”

Benjamin Franklin is widely quoted as saying, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." “Have you determined the difference between ‘liberty’ and ‘essential liberty?’ If not, think about it. Franklin must have. Also, think about how much of your liberty of any kind you’ve given up. Was it essential or not? Or, have you given up none? If you haven’t, you’re either on another planet or somewhere under a rock.”

We Americans are giving up a lot to feel safe. “I haven’t noticed all that much. Name some of the ‘lot’ in a future column. Now, those in the military…that’s another matter.”

And yet, how much safer do you feel? “With this president, very safe. With Kerry or Gore…egad, what a thought!”

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Boy Columnist & BushBerry Jam

Boy Columnist, aka as Larry Dale Keeling, of Lexington Herald-Leader fame, is showing symptoms of ingesting too much BushBerry Jam, or at least getting it all over his hands and allowing it, like mustard gas in WWI, to infiltrate his system through the skin and head straight for his brain. In California, there are rules and regulations for handling bushberries, in which are categorized as members: the Blackberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, and Raspberry genuses. One either obeys these requirements or suffers the consequences, among which can be a certain withering process. Boy Columnist has been infatuated with – and perhaps afflicted by – Blackberry Jam, with respect to the guv in Frankfort. From this bushberry alone, his brain may already be devolving into a state of disrepair.

In a recent blog, BC wrote: Last week wasn't one of Dubya's better ones. He was forced to cry "Uncle!" on torture, got sand kicked in his face on the unpatriotic Patriot Act, got outed for approving warrantless domestic spying and was portrayed by Newsweek as being in a bubble with no connection to the outside — i.e., real — world. I see Bush resorted to the politician's typical knee-jerk reaction when caught doing something naughty. Oh dear! A statement of this degree of angst and profound discomfiture is a certain indication that BC is dangerously close to the most serious symptom of BushBerry-Jam incursion, known as Bushwhacked Literary Angst that Homogenizes Erratic Rantings, referred to as a matter of convenience by its acronym, BLATHER, otherwise defined dictionary-wise as “to talk foolishly at length.” To spare BC the length aspect of the definition, the rest of his scream will go unprinted here.

The result of all the terrible things mentioned by BC as contributing to the president’s not having a “better” week has been a pronounced spike upward in his job approval ratings, so if the president cried “Uncle” it seems not to have been heard anywhere except in BushBerry land, where Boy Columnist has his ear to the ground (where there was no sound) and his hand in the BushBerry jar…the brain-withering process hopefully just in early stages. As for the torture question, maybe one out of 10,000,000 citizens takes it seriously and, whether magnanimous or not, couldn’t care less. The BlueBerry (another Bushberry) Jam that BC and the other democrats have been inflicting upon themselves by whining about torture is mere campaign fodder for 2006 – those poor terrorists whose only crime has been killing 3,000 civilians on 9/11 simply must be fed sirloin goat and not have their prayer-rugs pointed in the wrong direction by mischievous Marines.

Now…about that sand kicked in Dubya’s face. The Patriot Act will be passed. The minority of senators opposing it by exercising filibuster will have to answer to their constituents, who will be reminded on a daily basis by the administration of just who they are and what’s at stake…as well as the fact that no further terrorist attacks have emanated from bin Laden or Saddam or Saud or the Iranian president or the Syrian thug or any other Islamic idiot-despot preaching “Paradise for the hara-kiri disemboweled Martyrs.” BC doesn’t realize what the folks in California know, namely, that brains turn to sand when afflicted by those pernicious Bushberries.

About that warrantless domestic spying!!! The prexy has said he didn’t do it and won’t do it again. That should be good enough for everyone, but just in case it isn’t, he seems to have his position perfectly hedged, i.e., that the appropriate members (including high-profile democrats) of Congress have been in on things right from the start, not that anybody’s liberty was ever threatened, in the first place. These guys do not want the publicity of a hearing. More to the point, Bush made it emphatically clear in the press conference that the methods have been legal, and, more importantly, that nothing will change. Pathetic figures like Senator Rockefeller, who seems to be claiming that he just didn’t understand what he was being told, is either exhibiting a unique ignorance or figures that the politics are on his side. Actually, who cares? It’s common knowledge that warrants for quarantine have been sworn out for people suffering from inhaling the fumes of BushBerry Jam, so BC had better be on guard, especially since lawnmower fumes, by his own admission, render him…well…sort of out of it.

Withering of BC’s brain caused by too much BushBerry Jam may be more serious than first thought, considering this statement from the 16 May 2005 issue of Newsweek: Newsweek apologized yesterday for an inaccurate report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died. The august Newsweek actually published an account of a Koran(s) being flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo, but didn’t say how (kinda hard all at once) and didn’t even present any documents or other evidence supporting a claim so ridiculous as to be laughed to scorn…but at least 15 people died because of this gaffe and no telling how many more were injured seriously. So, Newsweek apologizes. It should have to pay millions to the families of those affected by its LIE…but everyone is directed not to hold the breath until that happens. So…when Newsweek says that Bush is in a bubble – and BC of BushBerry affliction believes it – one may assume that Newsweek is in a bubble…completely isolated, along with its admirer, Boy Columnist, from what’s happening anywhere.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, December 16, 2005

VOILA! The Missing Fax!

Wonders never cease, and nothing succeeds like the hiring of an attorney at $240 per hour to do most anything that has to be done, no matter how bizarre the circumstances or the behavior of those involved in same. Just the other day, it was announced that a lawyer had set out to retrieve the collegiate eligibility of a University of Kentucky player who, by all accounts and just plain common sense, had forfeited his amateur status, even to the point of allowing a sports agency to represent him and accepting more than $7,000 from National Basketball Association teams (strictly professional) as expense money ostensibly for tryouts that would enable him to escape the rigors of the classroom and introduce him to the millions of dollars that folks like LeBron James could claim right out of high school.

Notwithstanding the initial NCAA ruling that the player had forfeited his college career, the organization then allowed that…well… he could sit out a year and return for two more seasons, then all of a sudden decided that he could just get back in the game on January 10 next. And what did the $240-per-hour lawyer accomplish? Strangely, it seems that he did nothing lawyerly…or that he did nothing at all, even though it was announced that up to $10,000 could be spent on his services.

Reminiscent of an event that helped precipitate the last major basketball scandal at UK, in the late 1980s, a long lost document, a fax from the player to the coach, was simply delivered to the coach’s house (not his office) by someone he didn’t name. He seemed to remember losing a file on a plane somewhere along the line that possibly included the long lost fax from the player, but then, according to him, “he threw papers everywhere,” as noted in the Lexington Herald-Leader. In the other incident some 15 or so years ago that cost an assistant UK coach a great deal, $1,000 was somehow detected hanging out of an envelope (FedEx?) headed for the father of a player the assistant coach was trying to recruit in California. H-m-m-m.

The long lost fax in the instant matter was dated 09 May 2005 and included the player’s claim that he meant to “test the waters” for the NBA draft but not get an agent, thus destroying his eligibility. Does anyone believe a college freshman or sophomore jock would use the phrase “test the waters?” This is laughable. A copy appeared in the paper, with some lines blacked out. He proceeded then to work directly through an agent. So…was he ignorant of the rules? Well, all the documents just delivered to the NCAA have not and will not be made public, despite their being the critical evidence allegedly exonerating the player. The nagging question, of course, has to do with what happened to the original from which the fax was copied and sent along to the coach. Surely the player or his family or somebody who might have helped with the project kept the original, just plain common sense and ordinary practice in the handling of important documents. It could have been made available to the NCAA or the university at any time in the process, along with information about the originating machine and possible witnesses, including the recipient (perhaps a secretary) at UK. If such information wasn’t advanced, why wasn’t it?

This is not a big deal and there’s no angst in this corner…but it stinks, and the university doesn’t need any more of this kind of stuff. As for Morris, the player, here’s wishing him good luck. The fact that this affair could be considered fishy shouldn’t matter, since collegiate sports is riddled with corruption…common knowledge often categorized in the media. Now…could one wonder if Dan Rather was engaged by that lawyer to…nah, a Texas Air National Guard typewriter probably wouldn’t do, even if it happened to be a modern model.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Herald-Leader Scorches Southland

The local newspaper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, has taken great delight in recent days in pointing to the fact that Southland Christian Church, central-Kentucky’s largest of any denomination, has cancelled its services on Christmas, which falls on Sunday this year, notwithstanding that the church will hold one service on Friday and three services on Saturday. The main explanation given by the church was that it felt that everyone should have the day to spend with family, etc. The paper’s cartoonist ridiculed the church, perhaps because of the flap that’s made, at least supposedly, by evangelicals every year over the attempt of various entities to disallow use of the term Christ in any way at all, or at least in public places as well as in private stores – sort of like the use of God on coins or buildings or whatever. The cartoonist perhaps had in mind remarking the hypocrisy of making the argument and then trivializing it by not having church on Sunday once in all the many years between those that have Christmas on a Sunday.

Actually, there’s probably a much more significant reason for the paper’s ridicule of the church, and it can be demonstrated by this quote from the editorial of 13 December: He (the pastor) also recounted how the babe in the manger grew up to clash with “misguided” zealots who valued “religion over relationships.” This could be construed as a step toward a defense of gay marriage or support for legal benefits for unmarried couples, surprising from the Southland pulpit. The judgmental have now discovered how it feels to be judged. This is a cheap shot of the lowest magnitude, particularly because Southland, as is the case in nearly all churches, has never, does not now, and will never support the marriage of men to each other or women to each other, as perverse/perverted a circumstance as can be imagined. The paper, of course, knew this, but apparently saw this ridiculous statement as a surefire way to cut the church off at the knees and make it a laughingstock, since the paper’s stance is well-known on this matter.

This attempt to vilify the church merely made the paper look silly, since most folks view homosexual marriage as too off-the-wall even to consider, and by a vast majority ruled out this circumstance last year in amending the state’s Constitution to make sure such marriages are never recognized in Kentucky. The amendment also forestalled legal benefits for unmarried couples. Is it any wonder that the public regards the press as virtually without credibility? The paper is a Knight-Ridder property, with a liberal bent so pronounced and unrealistic as to make itself a laughingstock among people who have at least walking-around sense.

Significantly, the “misguided zealots” to which the editorialist referred were of perhaps two kinds: (1) Insurrectionist-oriented Jews who were looking for a deliverer from the Romans and whose activities had nothing to do with homosexuality or live-in arrangements at Jerusalem. They just wanted to be free. (2) Religious fundamentalists who insisted on rigid adherence to the laws of the Old Testament, which categorically condemned and disallowed homosexual behavior. Think Sodom and Gomorrah in this area. However, in the New Testament dispensation, the prohibition of homosexual behavior was/is as thoroughly disallowed as in the Old, and even Jesus referred to the awfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah, thereby establishing his stance. Apparently, those at the paper have little or no knowledge of the Bible, so perhaps they should make no statements concerning religion, or, at least, Christianity. Certainly, the pastor at Southland was castigated with intent and contempt, but the paper discredited itself in the process, on the basis of sheer ignorance if nothing else.

This ignorance is pointedly remarked in the paper’s statement noted above alluding to judgmentalism, to which it feels it apparently has a right, but to which the church hasn’t. How strange and paradoxical! The paper’s editorialists – as well, now, as its reporters – participate in judging other people/institutions on a daily basis, but reckon that the church has never been judged, when anyone with half-sense knows that the paper has not just judged the church or other churches for the first time. Of all institutions in the nation, the church knows perhaps better than any other what it’s like to be judged, since it is judged and vilified, especially by the so-called liberal media, on a daily basis. So, the H-L’s judgment of the church at this time of year is, if anything, nothing new…indeed, something to be expected. Judgment is something exercised on a daily basis by everyone, and it’s a perfectly normal business. This is so elementary as to be…well…laughable in the extreme when considering the paper’s mention of “the judgmental being judged,” as if it has just happened to Southland for the first time.

There is a darker underlying element at work here, however, i.e., that Southland represents to the paper the Christian mindset, which is anathema to the “enlightened,” notably those in the editorial department and the “mainstream media” in general. Even worse, Southland represents to the paper the “religious right,” whose voters more and more vote republican. This, more than anything noted above, lies at the root of the criticism of the church regarding Christmas. The people at the paper couldn’t care less about Southland, its people, or anything connected to the church, but they see conservatism gradually taking hold and ruling out the socialistic/hedonistic positions they advance. In a nutshell, that’s the whole ballgame.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Unfair PDR Shakedown!

A fabulously interesting combination of oxymoron and conundrum appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on its editorial page of 11 December. There was an article at least inferentially extolling the virtues of the Purchase of Development Rights program alongside a map regarding that program that essentially nullifies any argument in favor of it. The writer attempted to make the point that valuable farmland must be protected, i.e., that the Urban Service Area must not be expanded and that the Urban Service Area “holes” should be filled with people first, presumably whether they like the locations of those “holes” or not. The current in-place method for accomplishing this is seen as taxpayers’ money is used to bribe the landowner in the interest of his promising, in exchange for cash, not to “develop” his property (PDR program in action), no matter how far from the urban-service-center of the county it is located, i.e., no matter how silly it would be for the landowner even to consider “developing” the land (houses, shopping areas, businesses, etc.).

On the map that appeared with the article was the location of the Urban Service Area, the locations of the PDR properties with “rights” already bought by taxpayers, who are lucky to own a house and lot anywhere in the Urban Service Area, and the few Rural Activity Centers such as Spindletop and Avon. In the mix is the fact that there is a Planning-Zoning Commission empowered to decide what gets built (or torn down) where, as well as how either will be done, and the Urban-County Council, which makes the final decisions. The rule of thumb, of course, is that developments of any significant size be considered worthy only if they are contiguous to the Urban Service Area.

Therein lies the oxymoron. According to the map, in the 128,000 acres outside the Urban Service Area, there is only one PDR-program property (with maybe one other tiny parcel), with its rights of development forfeited for cash, contiguous to the Urban Service Area. The other PDR properties are scattered far and wide throughout the county. In other words, these landowners took taxpayer money to promise they would be good guys and not try to burden the county with more buildings and asphalt, knowing full well – as did the solons who voted for this outrageous boondoggle of a plan – that the P-Z Commission and Urban-County Council would turn thumbs down on a request for development, anyway, or at least absent the “appropriate” incentives. Indeed, most of the PDR properties are relatively nowhere near the Urban Service Area and therefore could be considered totally ineligible for development for decades, if ever, so their owners have taken the cash and laughed all the way to the bank. The folks who own land abutting the Urban Service Area have elected sensibly not to be PDR freeloaders for the obvious reason that their land is situated perfectly for development, whether it’s classified as super-valuable farmland (including “horse-farms,” with which the writer of the article seemed most concerned) or not.

The conundrum: Why was the PDR program ever inculcated, in the first place, especially since at least two agencies already control development? It amounts to taking money directly from one set of taxpayers and handing it over to another set of taxpayers, most of whom already own valuable land and are better off than the citizens who cough up the cash, whether distributed from Frankfort or Lexington or anywhere else in the state. There certainly is no reasonable answer, so one has to wonder what the incentives were. The possibilities are not pretty and are left to the reader to contemplate.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, December 10, 2005

GOTH & the Athletic Director

Just when the sordid LOTA/GOTH (Lady Of The Afternoon/God Of The Hardwood) interlude vis-à-vis basketball affairs at the University of Kentucky had apparently been laid to a well-deserved rest not long ago (no rape, just hanky-panky), the other GOTH episode, which should have ended months ago, kept wending its way along and persists unto this good day, the GOTH in this case being one Randolph Morris, a UK player who announced last spring that he would stand for the National Basketball Association draft, but made the tragic(?) mistake of going about it in the wrong way, i.e., verbally aligning himself with an agent-institution of some kind, which without doubt represented him with regard to various NBA teams, thus placing his amateur status in jeopardy/termination – whichever. Alas, the player had judged himself to be better than he was and was totally neglected by all NBA teams. What to do?…Why…just go back to UK and continue on his merry slam-dunking path to the NBA.

Not so fast was the word from the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and therein lay the rub. The NCAA ruled him ineligible, using as proof such things as Morris’s acceptance of more than $7,300 from NBA teams – or at least in services such as air fare provided by those teams – in violation of NCAA rules. The university – actually mostly the athletic director, Mitch Barnhart – has fought tooth-and-nail to have Morris reinstated, but to no avail with regard to any participation during the current season. Magnanimously, however, the NCAA reckoned Morris could play a couple more years after sitting out this season. Not so fast has been Barnhart’s attitude – as a lawyer is being paid $240 per hour to get things turned around – exhibited by his seeming not to realize that a weaker verdict would open the entire university system to unspeakable abuse by its “scholarship” athletes.

Okay…the team needs – or at least Barnhart and the coach seem to think it needs – this tall guy in a bad way…actually, it does. Winning in basketball is everything at UK, all the other sports merely trifles in comparison. But, could Athletic Director Barnhart have other considerations in mind? After all, his take is only about a half-million big ones a year, with the UK president threatening to overtake him in terms of salary, though Barnhart, as per his contract, will begin collecting another $120,000 if he is at the university 30 June 2006 – a distinct given. This money is being saved for him at the rate of $30,000 per year…to help out with the groceries.

Another reason Barnhart may be uptight about Morris has to do with another sugar-stick of his contract, to wit, another $25,000 if the basketball team (even the women’s team) just makes the NCAA tournament (64 teams) – another given. This means that Barnhart has collected an additional $75,000 for 2003-04-05. If either team makes the “final four,” Barnhart gets another $25,000, so the AD may be more than just interested in poor Morris’s education. Barnhart also gets $50,000 a year in something called “discretionary incentives,” such incentives, if any, being determined by the UK president – okay, hard to believe, but it’s in the contract. For instance, if the prexy thinks Barnhart’s fight for Morris’s eligibility is a worthy incentive – VOILA! Oh yes, if any other team – perhaps the golf team or tennis team – makes an appearance in an NCAA tournament, Barnhart gets another $5,000, to which another $5,000 is added if a national title is won. Lowly professors, with or without tenure, can just eat cake.

The real bonanza would occur, of course, if the football team made it to either the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, or Orange bowl, since Barnhart would collect a cool $100,000 for such an appearance, win or lose. That isn’t likely to happen, BUT, he gets another $30,000 if the football team makes it to any bowl, no matter how far down the pecking order of validity, apparently. Get this: Barnhart was required to pay Oregon State $100,000 for jumping ship there to come to UK. Contracts mean almost nothing in the world of sports, where integrity is said to be so important. The UK Athletic Association furnished the dough, but Barnhart doesn’t have to pay it back (principal or interest) if he stays at UK for five years – through 2007.

So…it’s easy to see why the AD, instead of seeing athletes ply their trade, may see dollar marks in action when they run, jump, pass, dunk, slam-dunk, throw, catch, tackle, trash-talk…yeah, get the picture. Morris means a lot to Barnhart, and you can take that to the bank. Oh yes, UK also furnishes Barnhart two cars, but he probably drives only one at a time. It took quite a few months AFTER Barnhart arrived on the scene to work out his “contract,” and one can see why. Now…if the football team could just make it to the Crabapple Bowl! Oh well…maybe the AD can yet make a killing, since the women’s basketball team is undefeated at this writing (8-0), while the men stand at 6-3 while Morris is the subject of yet another appeal by the $240-per-hour lawyer, whose total take is expected to be up to $10,000, win or lose. Only in Kentucky!

The struggling taxpayer looks at all this unmitigated waste…and wishes Morris well.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Whither Sportsmanship...and Why?

I rarely watch much of sporting events anymore, since they’ve been thoroughly compromised by the television industry, with the help of universities, coaches, athletic directors, league honchos – in short, anybody inordinately interested in huge profits, which, of course, is just about everybody. Football games seem virtually endless, not least because of, for instance, the using of extended periods to simply place the ball after a punt, an action that might require 15 seconds. Coaches don’t have to worry about timeout-strategy anymore, since play is stopped periodically so everything from soap to lingerie can be hustled to the viewing public on TV while the in-house viewers can just sit in the stands and freeze, stare at the sky, girl-watch or whatever. I’m likely to depart the TV scene during the first “referee’s timeout” when watching a basketball game. I can check a couple hours later and see the finish.

I stayed with much of the annual Army-Navy game last week, though. The distortions caused by TV were noticeable, though perhaps not as time-consuming, since neither team is considered anywhere near number one and therefore not worth the spending of valuable advertisement dollars for appealing to an expected smaller viewer audience, as compared to that with regard to a game including USC or Texas. The thing that caught my attention more than most anything else was the demeanor of the players. Navy does have a fine team this year and trounced Army, but that wasn’t what was so remarkable. Actually, it’s what I didn’t see that made the game remarkable and differentiated it from all other football and other games, either collegiate or professional. I didn’t see the usual hot-dogging, egotistical, duck-walking, breast-beating, chest-thumping, teasing, taunting, trash-talking, skipping, end-zone-dance- frenzied histrionics (or their equivalent) that have now become a major component in all sports, except perhaps baseball and golf.

The athletes played the game as gentlemen once did, playing hard but observing impeccable behavior and a respectful attitude toward the opposition. They played as team members and, with few, if any, exceptions did not draw attention to themselves individually. They did not grandstand – they just played the game. They didn’t appear to trash-talk…they did no end-zone celebrations fit for a vaudeville show or perhaps a circus, maybe even the chimp-zone of a zoo. They didn’t taunt and tease. They conducted themselves in a manner one would expect of highly disciplined and unselfishly oriented cadets in the military academies, where respect and hard work are both demanded and earned and humility is a virtue, perhaps enhanced by the young men’s relative certainty that they might soon be facing life-and-death situations, things the hot-doggers can’t even imagine.

In any case, high school and college coaches should take a page from the academies and require that players conduct themselves with decency and mutual respect, cut out the hey-look-at-me histrionics and learn how gentlemen approach sports. Unfortunately, this isn’t likely to happen. With respect to the professional leagues, disgusting behavior is all just a part of the entertainment – bad taste, to be sure – but entertainment nevertheless, and part of the hype. It’s disgusting, but it’s here to stay.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, December 01, 2005

LOTA/GOTH Finale...maybe

The saga of lady of the afternoon (LOTA) and god of the hardwood (GOTH) has finally been closed…maybe, since strange things can happen, especially when sex is involved and criminal conduct is claimed by a lady to have been committed upon her by a gentleman, never mind the circumstances. Last April, LOTA, a married mother of three, accused GOTH, a University of Kentucky basketball player just finishing his senior year, of rape that she said occurred in his dormitory room, claiming she had been somehow drugged and violated, notwithstanding her voluntary presence in the room in the middle of the afternoon. It’s doubtful that there has ever been a happening with stranger twists and turns than this one, the event having been documented in newspapers and even in this space. Probably, some sports publications have picked up on it, as well, since GOTH was a player of some repute, though not an All-American and not taken in the NBA draft.

The District Court judge threw out the case some time ago, after it had been once closed and then re-opened, and the commonwealth’s attorney refused to prosecute GOTH when the woman’s complaint was later dumped in his lap. For some reason, LOTA engaged attorneys in the matter, never mind that she had to depend on prosecutors to make the case, since a crime had been alleged. GOTH was forced to engage legal counsel in order to protect himself, even though he apparently had committed no crime, though, through his attorney, he admitted that he and LOTA had engaged in consensual sex in the afternoon of an April day.

The alleged evidence a crime had been committed, as outlined in the Lexington Herald-Leader on numerous occasions (in fact, strangely, LOTA had even participated in an interview with the paper), was, to be magnanimous, totally non-existent. It seems that LOTA chased GOTH (143 phone calls to him in 3 months, for instance) and had even gone to lunch with him, at which time, according to his side of the story, she sort of “came on strong” to him. One of GOTH’s teammates even snapped a picture of LOTA and GOTH outside the dorm after the alleged rape had just happened, when one might have expected her to be yelling and screaming for the police, though she might have claimed to be incapacitated because of being drugged. Who knows? GOTH said he did not drug LOTA and did not see her ingest any drugs.

This whole sordid affair, besides being strange, points up the fact that an innocent person can be harmed simply upon a he said/she said matter, and egregiously so, since the media are more than willing to divulge the identity of the accused, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, while concealing that of the accuser, who, as apparently in this case, had motives that were – to say the least – suspect. GOTH said he thought LOTA brought the charge in order for her husband not to find out she had cheated on the marriage. Who knows? One wonders, of course, if LOTA had visions of suing UK for damages accruing to its not protecting females in a men’s dorm on an April afternoon. A civil case would have been folly without an initial conviction of rape.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark