Saturday, December 30, 2006

American Culture - Crudity!

In a Meet The Press interview on 24 December, crudity was remarked as something that graphically and unfortunately impacts American life. Moderator Tim Russert was interviewing Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. Upon reflection, one can discover many ways this is portrayed by folks who are constant objects of media attention, and, of course, how it reflects upon the media itself – sensation trumping facts in considering what’s newsworthy.

This crudity is exemplified in the ongoing imbroglio engaged in by Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell, two rich (at least as consensually surmised) brats who have called each other “pimp” and “dummy” respectively. Trump, known for casinos and the feminine meat-market called Miss Universe, recently publicized his supposed intention to “fire” a Miss Universe contestant for not behaving herself, including sleeping around, drunkenness, etc. The media was full of pictures of the woman apparently French-kissing another woman and later posturing for the public in caterwauling her appreciation to Trump (smirking behind her in the “press conference”) for keeping her on the “job” and letting her truck on down to rehab, the better to appear nude in a more sophisticated demeanor. Trump advertises his Miss Universe candidates virtually nude as they writhe much as the trollops fronting the houses of ill fame in the movies, thus enhancing his identification as crudity-personified.

O’Donnell, whose claim to fame is her lesbianism (fat, too, according to Trump) is on a TV program apparently sort of overseen by Barbara Walters (okay, I’ve never seen more than a total of five minutes of it), in which women vent their spleens over this and that. I saw the short clip recently in which O’Donnell was holding a pathetic drunk on her lap (what there is of it) while he mouthed trashy talk…very uplifting stuff. Her crudity is enhanced by that of the audience – mostly women addicted to moronic morning-shows – who obviously enjoy the titillation and male-bashing or oohing and ahhing over the “hunks.” Trump and O’Donnell probably have a thing going – whether intentionally or not in the beginning – and see money in it, so they snipe on at each other and laugh all the way to the bank. Law-suits? Ridiculous! They would end the fun and finance.

Crudity on the political scene is obvious in author Bob Woodward’s latest “mother of all scoops,” trotting out an embargoed tape (not to be shown, by direction of Gerald Ford, until he was dead) of his interview in 2004 with the former president before the deceased’s body was cold. The big scoop: that Ford disagreed with Bush’s decision to invade Iraq…hot stuff. Of course, it’s been noted that Ford apparently supported the action in 2003, so Woodward, in his panicky haste to hurt President Bush, also made Ford look bad, not just because of the reversal in position but also because of the obvious intent to not go on the record when it mattered. Of course, who knows what actually happened in 2004? Woodward’s claim to have interviewed former CIA chief Casey on his death-bed has been thoroughly debunked by the people who knew the facts. To be crude enough – not just Woodward but the entire media establishment – to do this at precisely the time Ford lies in state and the nation mourns says it all…about the media and its hacks.

The crudity is seen on the sports scene…in spades. The teasing, taunting, trash-talking, tattoos, fights, and celebratory gyrations resembling those of baboons by multimillionaire ballplayers for just doing what they’re paid to do has become sickening. This disgusting conduct has filtered down to college and even middle-school level, as young athletes ape the pros – veritable buffoons – as role models. Coaches are too tied to money-in-baskets to do anything, and referees don’t dare cross them. The shallow-heads who run television and athletic departments have decided that obscenity is what the public likes, so that’s what the athletes are paid to deliver – garbage. The Janet Jackson and Mick Jagger obscenities that marked Super-bowl halftimes in 2004 and 2006 say it all.

Crudity on a grand scale is already revved up – again in the world of politics. Whereas once the summer party-conventions served as vehicles to inform the nation and cough up candidates, now the hate-filled primary-spectaculars, with their venomous TV ads and knuckle-headed speeches (sound-bites glued together with inanities) go on and on and on and on, with the campaigners convinced that the general public is too dumb to see through any of it. Picture John Edwards making his big announcement for the presidency the other day (practically two whole years in advance) from some backyard in New Orleans, notwithstanding that he is a North Carolinian who once served his state as a U.S senator. Why New Orleans instead of Raleigh? Obviously, Edwards thought he was making a statement about…maybe FEMA, the president…who knows? Such an exercise in pathetic posturing marks him as crude and condescending to the Joes and Janes who he must think have no brains at all, and he can’t see how he misreads the public...not as gullible as he thinks.

Crudity has always been around, but probably took off during the late 60s, when the flower children and hippies made being trashy fashionable. Being out of one’s head became the norm, with hophead O’Leary the guru. Rings in all places – lips, ears, navels, tongues, noses – are considered cool, with tattoos, known as “body art,” the ultimate accomplishment in being with it, and the more the better. Where once only drunken sailors got tattoos, now even college students – especially athletes – are walking-around canvases of obscenity/porn/whatever. “Rap,” endemic to the African-American youth, has crossed over to become a staple in the white community, its obscene lyrics (kill the m-fs, cops, anybody else handy, as well as its mind-deadening throbbing beat) amounting to some sort of rite of passage. It’s sort of reversion to the jungle, the tribal mentality.

Even churches/church-members have gotten into the act, so fearful of losing influence or members or potential members that they consider political correctness (translated anything that feels good is good) the bellwether of worship and mission, devoid of significant constraints. The liturgy has either been abandoned or so inflicted with blunt-forced, groovy trauma that it means little. An entire generation is now ignorant of the great music of the church, and the church and society have become one, despite Christ’s teaching that the believer is salt – briny salt, not sugar-coated, warm-fuzzy “togetherness” at all costs. Whole denominations have accepted behavioral perversions as normal, either de jure or de facto theologically, thus attaining a crudity that threatens the fundamental unit of society – the family.

Where will it end? When will it end? Will the nation be able to stand its driving force or lurch into a sort of nihilism? Ah…crudity, thy name is American “culture!” Disgusting!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

God and Nation

The recent Fox-presented tour of Washington monuments by Newt Gingrich, with respect to the things they teach concerning the determinations of the Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc.) as well as Lincoln, and the Meet The Press (24 December, NBC-TV) interview conducted by moderator Tim Russert of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and Rick Warren, pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in California, became a conjoining of sorts for me currently in attempting to get an understanding of how God figured into the forming of this nation.

All three men are authors of recent books concerning God and nation: Gingrich, Rediscovering God in America; Meacham, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation; Warren, The Purpose Driven Life. Gingrich is a highly respected historian, Meacham a gifted editor/writer, and Warren a scholar and spiritual leader. All could be accounted as intellectuals, with both breadth of knowledge and experience to bring to the subject of God and Nation.

Gingrich, a historian’s historian, easily moved through the tour, noting that God – in so many words – was more taken as granted than anything else by the Founders and the citizens as Creator of the universe and therefore the nation as well as everything else, and was what might be called the consensually recognized “power behind the throne,” except that in this case, God was adjudged the “power behind the republic.” Lamenting that in the last 30 years the drive for “political correctness” has included the effort to get God out of the picture, Gingrich points to God and even Moses as linchpins of a nation both depending on its God for guidance and strength and positioning God and society as complementary, not intertwined or adversarial.

As an example of how extremists prey upon society, using the subject of “diversity as god,” Gingrich noted that the statue of President Franklin Roosevelt, originally posturing him (crippled by polio) as he always wished – on his feet – had to be changed in order to show him in his wheel-chair, which was virtually never seen in his long presidency. Even the reporters didn’t allude to it. As an example of the importance of God to the Founders, Gingrich had the cameras pan to the very apex of the Washington Monument, wherein inscribed are the words “Laus Deo,” Latin for “Praise Be To God.”

Meacham noted that Madison was said to have heard the cries of Baptist ministers in his Virginia as they were tortured by representatives of the state’s official church, the Anglican Church of England, and was fervently motivated to see that the First Amendment changed all that. The fact that George Washington simply added, “So help me God” to the oath of office was discussed, implying that Washington had a profound dependence upon God for success. Warren noted that Lincoln’s second inaugural address was actually a sermon. When Russert brought up the subject of an atheist’s rights being impinged by references to God, Warren reminded him that atheists were responsible for the millions upon millions of deaths in the 20th century – people like Stalin, Mao, Hitler (probable occultist). He could have mentioned Pol Pot and Saddam.

Interestingly, the clip of Roosevelt addressing this nation on D-Day, June 6, 1944, was played, and it was remarked that Roosevelt made no mention of anything military – the address had to do with prayer for those who would face the slaughter that would accompany the battles to end the European phase of World War II in 1945. Meacham remarked that there was no sectarianism in the minds of the Founders – no reference to Jesus, for instance, but the very definite observance of the Judeo-Christian God as integral to the founding of the nation. He also noted that legislating God out of the psyche of the nation would be impossible, since it is far too deeply rooted there.

Russert said this: “It is interesting, Jon Meacham, in 2004, those voters who said they went to church services at least once a week, more than once a week, excuse me, voted for George Bush over John Kerry 64 to 35. Those who never went to church voted for Kerry 62 to 36. There is a divide.” Then he noted, “Hillary Clinton has just hired a religious, spiritual adviser for her campaign.” His point was obvious, whether he intended it to be or not, though he continued with this: “Democrats recognizing that you have to at least demonstrate to religious people in the country that you have a basic understanding that faith is part of, or central to, many peoples’ lives.”

There can be no doubt on the basis of history itself, as well as on the conclusions reached by the scholars who interpret it, that God is central to the American experience and indispensable if the nation is to survive.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Newspaper's Angst vis-a-vis Church

Note: The following is a Muckraker column of December 2005, and is reprinted here as a reminder of the angst much of the “mainstream media” felt/feels for the church. Earlier this year, the paper was sold by former owner Knight-Ridder to McClatchy, but the editorial stance was not affected.

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wannabe Fantasy - Kerry?

According to the Boston Globe, “Senator John F. Kerry said [20 December] that President Bashar Assad of Syria expressed a willingness to work with the United States to bring stability to Iraq, and said Assad personally offered assistance that Kerry plans to convey to the Bush administration.” Can this guy ever understand that, particularly with his record of consorting (or is that cavorting) with the enemy, his word is worth about as much as a cuspidor of warm spit?

He apparently didn’t notice what Assad pulled on the Reverend Rick Warren recently, when he duped the California preacher (in Syria with cameras in tow, naturally) into making statements (or not making them, depending on one’s take) about things Syrian. This played well in the Middle East press, but was bad for this country. There may be folks out there who think Warren, a fantastic church-builder, has bona fides in areas international. There may be folks out there who think Kerry (and his sidekick on the trip, Connecticut Senator Dodd) speak for this country. They don’t, and their gallivanting among the enemies of both civility and this country makes them appear as ridiculous as the Keystone Kops in full chase-mode while stumbling over each other.

Both these guys are said to be president wannabes though neither has a ghost of a chance – not saying much since their main opposition (at least according to the mainstream media) comes from Queen Hillary and a media-project in progress, Senator Obama – and maybe figure that one of them can parlay this exotic “diplomatic breakthrough” with Assad, errand-boy for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, into something spectacular enough to make folks forget their considerable political baggage.

Kerry, it might be remembered, tossed his medals or ribbons from his Purple-Heart-laden Vietnam activity (maybe one-half day of duty lost in total as the result of wounds three times in four months) over some fence in Washington back in 1970-71. While still an officer in the Naval Reserve, he met with North Vietnamese apparatchiks in France (a legal no-no) back in those wild days of protest, then testified before Senator Fulbright’s Committee about the terrible atrocities visited by the Americans upon the Vietnamese populace. Kerry’s exact words in 1971: “So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America …”.

Further according to the Boston Globe, “Kerry said his meeting gave him and Dodd a chance to express the ‘unanimity of Democrats’ about the need for an independent Lebanon, free of Syrian interference. In a joint statement, the senators said they laid out a series of steps the Assad government must take to improve its standing in the eyes of the United States.” Imagine that! Interpreted, Kerry meant that the elections gave him (as party leader, at least in his own light as a presidential contender in 2004) the power to set policy, now that the democrats have a one-vote majority in the Senate…aided and abetted, of course, by Dodd, perhaps the stalking horse.

What these guys actually did was show Assad and Ahmadinejad and the other Middle East power-brokers that this nation is bereft of resolve, when actually it isn’t. They consciously made an effort to undermine President Bush, and the notion that they “laid out a series of steps the Assad government must take to improve its standing in the eyes of the United States” is so foolish as to make one wonder what they were drinking. Assad probably nodded his head like a good sixth-grader should, had his secretary of state (or whatever passes for that spot in Syria) note all the “steps,” and then joined him in gales of laughter when the honorable senators had gone on their way.

It’s amazing what can happen after an election, especially when the wannabes are out in full force establishing their bona fides and whipping the big givers into a state of financial frenzy. If Kerry announces, his candidacy will be DOA when he drags his family before the cameras at the witching hour of oratorical solemnity to say the nation needs him. His recent remark about the troops being ignorant so-and-so’s sealed his doom, although he already has enough baggage to weight him down irretrievably. Maybe Dodd can come to the rescue and save the nation with his own candidacy.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trump and the Bump-and-Grind

There it was, on the front page above the fold of my morning paper in big headlines: ‘I will not let you down’. Egad…this must be serious, one would think, especially since the banner was accompanied by a picture of a weeping young woman and more pictures and copy, all of which took up half the front page. Well over half of page 8, with another huge picture, was devoted to the subject, giving it an importance surely equal to that of the Iraq War. A state-trooper’s death in the line of duty took a small corner of the front page, but, after all, the loss of a life couldn’t compare with the loss of a tiara…could it?

Well, of course! This was just the latest installment of the “riveting” Tara Connor/Donald Trump saga (his picture also on the front page above the fold), remarking the latest bit of sleaze by the nation’s top gambler and female cheesecake entrepreneur and featuring the latest attraction in his feminine meat market. Trump brought the current Miss USA, Tara Connor, the so-called country-girl from small Russell Springs, Ky., (population 2,500), to New York as part of his magnificent menagerie of mannequins and then threatened to throw her out of the clambake because she brought reproach upon the good name of Miss Universe (but more importantly, The Donald).

One wonders, of course, what the actual facts of the matter are. Trump has had the young lady appear quite publicly in some…well…exotic poses with less than one percent of her body covered – apparently his idea of art/entertainment/education/example – and then accused her, after presenting her as a tramp, of acting like one…sort of a Trump-Tramp. The inevitable happened, of course, as Trump knew it would. The networks, especially TV, grabbed the story and pictures hook, line, and sinker and awarded the Donald with more free publicity than he could ever have hoped for.

What this says for the “NEWS” media is that it has capitulated to what it deems the psyche of the American public, to wit, SLEAZE JIVES, BABY! The morning shows are never seen by this corner unless there’s a war on, but the word is that this “happening” has been aces-high (Trump-speak for a real lollapalooza) concerning the attention it’s been awarded. It’s even been given premier treatment on the high-profile Talking-Head shows on both radio and TV, including – especially including – Cable…O’Reilly, for goodness’ sake!

Well…maybe the media folks have sold the public a little short. Most people see through this stuff – okay, hopefully. Still, when one considers what CBS did with Dan Rather’s Air Guard typewriter-fraud account, it may be that the verdict is not gullibility…maybe it’s just plain incompetence…or worse, collusion (gasp) with the Donald. There’s money to be made out there…and how could a juicier way be found than to put a virtually naked gal on the boob (uh-oh) tube, accuse her of sleeping around, drinking hard liquor, doing drugs, and – oh yes – not being a good role model for all those innocent little high-school sophomores…even fourth-graders?

The whole thing is sickening, of course. The “Miss Universe” concept (nudity for sale!) demeans women, making them appear to be what they insist they’re not – sex objects. The members of the meat market CHOOSE to be just that – sex objects. That’s what Trump chooses them to be, and manipulating and exploiting them as sex objects is to him, apparently, a fine way to make a buck. Otherwise, he would have his goddesses appear fully clothed, playing their violins, quoting a bit of – if not scripture – at least part of the Gettysburg Address, and imploring all young girls to be just like them…the godesses. How many bucks would that bring in?

Okay…one way to find out is to institute a Mr. (or Master or Whatever) Universe program and see how many shekels that will supply. The guys come out in their jock straps, assume a delightful pose, groin (egad!) make that grin at the audience – okay, the old bump-and-grind – and drink nothing harder than Kool-Aid. Their bump-and-grind, compared to that of the Misses, might energize the audience to a show of enthusiasm roughly equivalent to that of a black bear in hibernation. The Trump/Connor saga will go on, of course – just too good to pass up…the shekel-count, that is.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The Lexington Herald-Leader, monopoly newspaper of Lexington, Ky., has instituted a new feature – or at least a new feature for its December 6 online edition…an oral commentary by the paper’s editorial cartoonist, Joel Pett, a bright guy who is recognized nationally. Besides his work just being seen, his work can now be heard in Pett-speak. In his commentary of the sixth he took as his subject a putdown of former president Ronald Reagan, remarking the plethora of structures named in his honor and suggesting that the only reasonable dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial would be to inscribe it with Reagan’s name…sort of like the official change of the name of Washington’s National Airport to Reagan International, or something like that – perfectly reasonable.

He ticked off some matters handled during the Reagan years as reasons for this action. He mentioned the Iran-Contra affair as sarcastic proof that Reagan is entitled. The evidence determined otherwise but one hopes Reagan knew all about it since it was not a bad idea and carried out during the Cold War when all bets were off vis-à-vis international trustworthiness, especially in dealings with tin-horn dictators in the home hemisphere and duplicitous Middle Eastern ayatollahs and other monsters elsewhere.

It was during the Iran-Contra hearing that Democrat Senator “Leaky” Leahy was kicked out of the clambake because of his ramblings of classified secrets to the proper liberal ears, thus establishing further reason for the public to hold Congress to an approval rating somewhere in the vicinity of 20% today…sort of beneath contempt. Pett didn’t mention Leahy, of course. He also didn’t mention Lt. Col. Oliver North, who does very well today and is still the guy the Leahy-clones love to hate.

Pett was compelled to mention that Reagan did not have an African American in his cabinet, but conveniently avoided mentioning that he appointed the first woman in history to the Supreme Court. He ridiculed Reagan’s “Star Wars” plan (SDI – Strategic Defense Initiative), but failed to mention that the Soviet Union folded soon after SDI was introduced (still in the works, too), meaning that the entire world was eminently safer then than at any time since the late 1940s. He compared Reagan with President Kennedy, Reagan asking the public if it was better off than it had been, while Kennedy asked what one could do for the country. The relevance of or the comparison of either of these statements with the other defies any effort to understand.

Pett claimed Reagan urged office-seekers to hate the government and therefore run for office. Pett thinks, then, that Reagan served two terms as California governor and two terms as president because he hated the government, apparently exponentially since both offices were top jobs and consequently exacted a huge amount of hate on the part of the top banana. Go figure.

Pett accused Reagan of “busting” the Air-Traffic Controllers Union. What he didn’t mention was that the controller signed a sworn affidavit upon his employment that he would never strike, and that according to federal law he was not allowed to strike, just as soldiers are not allowed to strike. As head of the executive branch, Reagan was bound by his oath of office to uphold the nation’s laws, so he had no choice. The strikers were given 48 hours (two full days) to get back to work and about 30% of them responded. The other 11,350 or so strikers were fired and never rehired. Through intensive planning by the administration, the air industry, even in the short term, was minimally affected. Commentary is one thing, but this part of Pett’s screed was “yellow journalism” at its most vitriolic and disingenuous level.

Reagan was against the Voting Rights Act, according to Pett, though Reagan was never in Congress and so never voted on this legislation. On July 2, 1964, Democratic President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after former Klansman Robert Byrd's (Democrat senator from West Virginia) 14-hour filibuster and the votes of 22 other Senate Democrats (in an overwhelmingly democrat-controlled Congress) failed to defeat the measure. Illinois Republican Everett Dirksen, with 26 GOP senators and 44 Democrats voted to invoke cloture, allowing the bill's passage. According to John Fonte in the January 9, 2003, National Review, 82 percent of Republicans voted for passage, but only 66 percent of Democrats did. On June 29, 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So much for Pett’s hatchet job on this subject.

One wonders why this diatribe – at least why now? The paper is about as liberal as papers get, so a hatchet job on most any republican is always in order…nothing unusual about that. Reagan was born in February 1911 and died in June 2004, so those dates don’t call for a special notice in December. He was almost killed by an assassin, but that was in March 1981. The Grenada invasion took place in October 1983, so that’s not significant…unless, of course, it’s because all the Americans were not off that island until about mid-December. Maybe that fact triggered this presentation by the cartoonist-turned-online-commentator. Surely he doesn’t blame Reagan for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 65 years ago and just missed the date by one day. Only the shadow knows.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Whither Kentucky Education?

Perhaps it was by design that the Lexington Herald-Leader, monopoly newspaper in Lexington, Ky., ran two articles on 27 November by education-establishment pooh-bahs, one by Richard Day, a former high-school principle and the other by Robert F. Sexton, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an independent, nonpartisan group of volunteers dedicated to improving education in Kentucky, founded in 1980 in behalf of improving higher education and reconfigured in 1983 to affect all education, according to its self-identification.

The usual statements were made in the articles about improvements made in recent years, the need to do better, the need to close the learning gap between blacks and whites, and a warning that districts are not progressing rapidly enough to meet by 2014 the goals set by the legislature in 1990 (Kentucky Education Reform Act). Day did mention that home atmosphere plays an important part (as he knows, the MOST important part) in a student’s achievements, but placed prodigious blame on Presidents Reagan and Bush for somehow torpedoing educational effort.

Therein lay the main complaint in both articles, to wit, that stingy conservatives have waylaid education both nationally and locally by not adequately funding it. Embodying the largest tax increase in Kentucky’s history (also incorporating an inordinately huge “pork” component), the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 was meant to “fix” Kentucky’s education system once and for all, its main thrust being that all students realize self-esteem and be proficient in their subjects by 2014.

The 1990 legislature bought into the “outcomes-based” concept and attempted mistakenly to mandate pedagogy, thus seriously damaging KERA, but subsequent legislatures have dismantled much of the Act, though it is still terribly flawed. For instance, while testing is standardized throughout the state, each school council has almost absolute authority over everything, including curriculum, meaning there is no standardization with regard to subject matter or treatment.

Results are mixed. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Kentucky 4th- and 8th-graders, respectively, rank 16th and 19th nationally in reading for 2005. According to the NAEP, they rank 45th and 40th, respectively, in math, making them average in reading and terribly poor in math, after 15 years of KERA.

According to the Kentucky Performance Reports provided by the Kentucky Board of Education, 27.45% of high school seniors in 2006 were proficient in total writing-trend data, a drop from 2005, while 4.6% were ranked as distinguished. Regarding on-demand writing-trend data, only 13.23% were proficient and less than one percent distinguished, a drop in scores of 30% from 2005. It has been clear for years that achievement levels drop significantly as students progress through the grades, middle school level being a quagmire.

According to the state Council on Postsecondary Education, 53% of freshmen at Kentucky universities and colleges had to take one or more remedial courses in 2004. These students were part of a whole generation of KERA-educated classes. Remediation is a term referencing the fact that students had to take courses involving what they should have learned in public schools. Indeed, 25% had to take a course in reading. In a recent year, 40% of the graduates of Kentucky State University who planned to teach could not even pass the “teacher’s test,” and therefore were automatically barred from immediate teaching positions.

The student-per-teacher ratio nationally is 15.5-1. In Kentucky it’s 16.1-1, 33rd in the nation and not a significant difference. The statistics can be interpreted many ways, depending often on the desired outcome. Kentucky was 37th in per-pupil spending in 2003, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 37th in ACT scores (20.6) in 2006, according to the ACT Institute, which pegs the national average at 21.1. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, per-pupil spending in 2005 was $7,513, up from $6,661 in 2003, an increase of 13% in two years.

Clearly, the state is doing well financially by the education establishment; but just as clearly, the system, if not broken, is badly bent. The answer likely is not in finances and most likely is not because of poor teachers, notwithstanding the inevitable handful of incompetents in every system. It perhaps is time to step back and look at the “outcomes-based” approach adopted in 1990, as reconfigured several times since. Plainly, the KERA goals will not even be approximated at the current achievement-rate, though some schools/systems will far exceed them…but they most likely would have, anyway.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, November 19, 2006

COMMENT Commentators

In the Al Smith KET clambake COMMENT ON KENTUCKY (which I almost never miss) on 17 November, the consensus among the news-worthies (Hebert, Cross, Ellison, Bartleson) was that the democrats are up a tree without a ladder in the matter of fielding a credible candidate in the 2007 gubernatorial circus, since they seemed to think that State Auditor Crit Luallen and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, who have respectfully declined to run, were the best bets. A lot of names were thrown around – former governors Carroll and Jones (old guys), Terry McBrayer (another old guy one of the panelists said would split the party), Attorney General Stumbo, Congressman Chandler.

Former lieutenant governor Steve Henry was mentioned and probably made the most poignant pronouncement via a video presentation in which he called Jones the worst governor in the state’s history…or something like that. He brought up the health insurance fiasco during the Jones administration that eventuated in nearly all health insurance companies simply pulling up stakes and leaving the state. Jones had help from the legislature, of course, but a number of legislators, including Speaker Blandford, were being trucked off to the big house during his tenure (though Jones was not involved in their shenanigans) and many of the remaining solons might have been too worried about “other shoes dropping” to get their minds on the business at hand. If memory serves, Jones and gang tried to force the companies to take customers they wouldn’t risk…and so it goes…and so they left.

The panelists mentioned the difficulties facing the republicans, also, sort of writing off Governor Fletcher’s chances and giving the most attention to Billy Harper of Paducah, who has the money to buy the seat, the voters willing, of course. There’s an attractive “Harper for Governor” Web site, on which Harper states that he’s in the race for good. The panel said a lot of good things about Harper, not least among which were mentions of things he quietly does to help a lot of people. Nobody could seem to remember anything about Harper’s running mate, a man named Wilson, and I couldn’t (or at least didn’t) find any information about him on the Web site.

There was concrete consensus that Ben Chandler could walk away with the prize with one hand tied behind his back, a chance he would never have again. They were probably right on that, given the troubles Fletcher has had. TV newsman Mark Hebert gave a vivid description of the grand jury’s report concerning the merit business – a scathing bit of stuff, though one wonders how much of the material was jurors-generated and how much was Stumbo-generated.

Stumbo is on the record as being interested in running if Fletcher should become unpopular, a condition he’s tried in spades to bring to pregnant fruition. In a COMMENT program last year, after all the merit stuff hit the wall, the panelists sort of shrugged it off – old hands, at that, who’d been around a while – as just the same stuff democrats had been doing for decades. They and a lot of the rest of us got fooled when the matter that should have gone the ethics/personnel route wound up like solid gold in the AG’s office. What was perfectly okay for the good-old-boy democrats simply wouldn’t do for the nasty republicans.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Kelo," SCOTUS and the Water Company

In its “Kelo Decision” of 2005 approving the right of a local government to condemn a private citizen’s property (power of eminent domain) in order to give it to a private group for purposes having nothing to do with a public enterprise, the Supreme Court (pre-Roberts and pre-Alito) opened a Pandora’s Box of problems accented most recently in Lexington, Ky., by a referendum vote overwhelmingly defeating a resolution occasioned by a petition drive to allow the local governing body to exercise eminent domain with regard to the company that provides the delivery of water to the city and surrounding counties. The citizens said a resounding “NO” to the proposition.

The system, owned by Kentucky-American Water Company and in place for 118 years, was sold in 2002 to RWE AG, a German industrial giant that bought the entire AWC system of more than 800 local systems in the United States and Canada. A group of distinguished, moneyed citizens, including a former governor, a former Lexington mayor, and prominent business folks, didn’t like that idea and formed an organization to either force a sale of the local company to the city or institute eminent domain, whichever became necessary. RWE made it plain that the system was not for sale.

That was also an election year and the successful mayor-candidate campaigned on the issue, favoring the “whichever became necessary.” The governing body went along with the idea, but there was no ready cash to instigate the proper proceedings. Enter the prominent citizens with a “loan” of $750,000 to start things, and the council, exercising terrible judgment, accepted it. The city lawyers went to work and about $1.3 million was used up in a hurry.

In the 2004 council-elections, things changed, the result being that the process was officially stopped by a majority against the “taking.” It needs to be mentioned that none of the water could be delivered without electricity, and that the company delivering electricity to the city was also foreign-owned then (by a British concern), and today is owned by or part of another German giant, E.ON, headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s hard to imagine such an example of “getting the cart before the horse,” but that’s what happened.

The aforementioned prominent citizens and others exercised successfully their right to petition for a referendum on the matter, but it could not be on a ballot in 2005, since that wasn’t an election year. It was resoundingly defeated in the latest elections, even though RWE plans to sell the entire system next year, but not in a piece-meal manner. If and when the system is sold, the performance of the new owner can be evaluated. Under the present management, the system has been operated quite satisfactorily, so performance has never been an issue.

Nothing could be plainer than the Fifth Amendment: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The keyword is PUBLIC! In the New London, Conn., 5/4-decision (Kelo), the SCOTUS opened the door for any covey of corrupt politicians or other officials to take private property in behalf of those private entrepreneurs who claim that the taking is in the best interests of the community, in this case (Kelo) allowing for construction that will eventuate in much higher property taxes – that being for the good of the “public.” A fifth-grader can see through this.

Notwithstanding its fallacy, the Lexington group did not even have the Kelo argument, since the water rates were/are not inordinate and, in any case, are statutorily governed by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Taking the company would have induced the opposite effect, in any case, since properties, worth millions, would be deleted from the tax rolls, thus hugely affecting tax-receipts collected by the city. In the bargain, the city now faces the payoff of the $750,000, plus interest, no doubt, but it would have taken millions of dollars over at least seven years to effect condemnation and then fight the appeals.

If there had been a public need for the property at issue in Kelo, such as the building of a highway, there would have been Constitutional grounds for condemnation. The same is true of Lexington. Perhaps the main lesson to be learned in this matter is that the Supreme Court, while it is now more constructionist than before Roberts/Alito, should be composed of justices who understand property rights.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Democrats Jockey for Top Spot

The Kentucky governor’s race in 2007 becomes more interesting as the days go by, at least for the democrats. With the pronouncements of Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and State Auditor Crit Luallen that they will not make the race, attention is naturally turned to Attorney General Stumbo, who is definitely interested, and Congressman Ben Chandler, who has chosen to sit on the fence and either view the carnage caused by all the democrat wannabes engaging in internecine cannibalism or dispel it by simply announcing that he wants the job and won’t even have to buy it.

Former lieutenant governor Steve Henry is officially in the hunt, but it remains to be seen for how long. He, like some others, carries a bit of baggage. Having to settle out of court with the feds in a tax matter involving a lot of money gained either fraudulently and by design or, as he says, through a clerical error (take your choice) is not good advertising. Strangely, according to information in the Lexington Herald-Leader, he says his wife, a former Miss America, will work in his administration for $1 a year. That conjures up the vision of the Bill-and-Hillary two-for-one disaster in 1992, so Henry might do well to run for the office and let his wife do what good wives do, part of which is to let hubby do his thing and not be foisted off on the public as a campaign tool (or fool?).

The three wannabes with the best name-recognition are former governors Brereton Jones and Julian Carroll and Lexington lawyer and 1979 governor-wannabe Terry McBrayer. These guys will be ages 68, 75, and 70, respectively, next year, so they might have a bit of an energy problem, for starters. The guy with all the money and who has run unsuccessfully in other races, Louisville businessman Charlie Owen, could be a factor, though he will be 68 in 2007.

Jones’ tenure will be remembered by many as the one in which 15 legislators and six others were convicted of a number of crimes as a result of a federal probe into Frankfort shenanigans, though Jones was never implicated. He’s remembered for the “DeZarn” fiasco, in which his adjutant general, Robert DeZarn, was trucked off to the big house for 15 months for perjury accruing to testimony concerning solicitation of campaign funds for Jones among National Guard officers, many of whom were relieved of their duties later. He’s also remembered for the fact that all but one health-insurance companies left the state during his tenure, though maybe the following administration of Paul Patton, as well as the inept legislatures, had a hand in the carnage. His protracted campaign to recoup the campaign funds he loaned himself is legend.

Carroll’s tenure was loaded with bumps. His right-hand man, a former legislator and state party chairman, served three years in a federal pen for workmen’s-compensation-insurance shenanigans, and Carroll himself was under federal investigation while in office. This is what Carroll said last November, “I’m assuming a position of leadership in the party as a result of being reelected to the Kentucky State Senate.” (In that process, he defeated incumbent Governor Fletcher’s brother, though an alert democrat orangutan would beat a republican human genius in the state-capital district where that happened, without even swinging from limb to limb to campaign.) So…was that another way of announcing a 2007 candidacy, or do pigs have wings?

So…is it back to Stumbo and possibly Henry? Stumbo carries heavy baggage, not least because of all those years he was majority leader in the House and sort of ran the show (lots of enemies). He’s also had serious patrimony problems, being the father of a child without being married to the mother, who has given him fits concerning child-support payments. All those years ago he was apprehended drunk in his stopped pickup, but seems to have noted that his “designated driver” had disappeared…or something like that. Then, there’s the matter of unrelenting pressure on the present administration over what in other administrations has occasioned only a blip, a bit of correction (committee stuff), and ’nuff said treatment.

Perhaps Chandler will declare himself soon. After all, filing for the May primary must be done before the end of January. This makes the election cycle months too long, but it will give the hopefuls all the time they need to tell the public how unfit for office all their fellow democrat/opponents are.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, November 03, 2006

Changing Demographics - Good...Bad?

Seventy-five percent of the U.S. population is white today but by 2050 it will be hardly more than 50%, according to the experts, with Hispanics the second largest minority group, and African Americans third. Not long after, whites will become a pronounced comparative minority. This is precisely the same situation that obtains in Europe with respect to a demographic shift of significant proportions.

Item: The Associated Press reported Sunday, October 29, that marauding youths in Clichy-Sous-Bois, France, torched hundreds of vehicles on Friday night and Saturday in observing the first anniversary of the riots of 2005 that began there, spread throughout the country, and lasted for three weeks, ostensibly set off by the accidental deaths of two Muslim teens. Three public buses and 277 vehicles were burned in other locations throughout the country in the latest violence, but Interior Ministry officials described the night as relatively calm, since up to 100 cars are torched by youths in “troubled neighborhoods” on an average night.

The riots in 2005 took the form mostly of burning autos and buildings. Some 9,000 cars were destroyed in France alone, for instance, but during that period Muslim riots spread to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, and even Switzerland. Much of Europe is becoming “Islamicized,” mostly by low-income immigrants or progeny of immigrants who have formed an economic underclass that is becoming more militant even while governments try to find work for its members. Germany, for instance, invited Turks to come and work there after World War II, owing to a manpower shortage, and expected their “guests” to leave eventually. They didn’t, but, instead, became fruitful and multiplied.

According to a Brookings Institute reading of 2003,Today, the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent.” According to a BI report of January this year, France experienced a “birth boom” in 2005, meaning that the Muslim problem is intensifying there. Therein lies the framework for a Europe rapidly departing its “Western Civilization” roots and replacing them with the Islamic influence, often driving a fanaticism that is fueling death and destruction on an unprecedented scale today throughout the world.

In both France and Germany, the birth rates accruing to “European” babies are not high enough to sustain even a “European” population holding its own. Instead, the countries are moving toward a Middle East culture that by most standards today is inferior to that of Western Civilization, at least as traditionally conceived with respect to the technology area. As for the arts, culture is a regional matter, while in the realm of the spiritual/religious Judaism and Christianity mark Western Civilization. Muslims worship Allah, an invention of Mohammed in the sixth century.

There is a lesson here. The birth rate in the United States is hardly sustainable with respect to the nature of the founding (European) families, mostly conceived of as Caucasian (white), the predominant identity of the settlers and earliest immigrant-settlers and thus the product of Western Civilization, defined as a term used to refer to the cultures of the people of European origin and their descendants.

According to the Population Resource Center in its May 2000 report, “Hispanics have the highest fertility rate of any U.S. minority, with the average Hispanic woman giving birth to three children in her lifetime. The African-American fertility rate is 2.2 lifetime births per woman. Non-Hispanic whites have the lowest fertility rate of 1.8, about 14 percent below the "replacement rate" of 2.1. Little has changed.

What is to be extrapolated, if anything, from these observations? The keywords in academia and the liberal community today are diversity and multiculturalism. Interpreted, this means the glorification of groups that have emerged from backgrounds totally different from that of Western Civilization. Is this what America needs, in light of the position it has carved out in this world? Certainly not! The beginning point is the selective barring of Muslims from immigration. The continuing point is the sealing of the southern border and the deporting of all illegal aliens. This has nothing to do with prejudice, bigotry, discrimination or anything else. It’s just plain common sense, and the sooner the country gets with it the better off it will be.

Besides the population factor, the salient threat in both England and France is that Muslims born in those countries are committing terrorist acts against the citizens of those countries – in France the ones noted above and in England the recent bombings of trains and a bus. Islamic fanaticism feeds on hate and impels its terrorist adherents to do violence against the innocents who simply live next door, no matter who they are. William B. Milam, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, stated in 2001 that there were seven million Muslims in America. Listed in the National Council of Churches 2005 yearbook is the figure 4,657,000. The constant question facing this country has to do with whether or not some U.S.-born Muslims, either individually or in small “sleeper” cells, are attempting to emulate their counterparts in Europe.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Newspaper as Political Assassin

It’s not uncommon for candidates for public office to begin campaigning as much as two years in advance of an election. Witness the folks already on the trail regarding the presidential shootout in 2008. John Kerry actually has never stopped campaigning since he lost the prize in 2004, speaking stentorily (and ever so boringly) from the mountain at every opportunity. Of course, Johnny-Boy/Buddy Biden has been at it since 1988. John McCain seems to stop by his office or the Senate chamber only between his appearances on various TV outlets. Throw in Ecologist First Class Gore, Queen Hillary, Dr. Frist, newcomer Obama (breathless appearance on Meet the Press recently – an absolute Tim-Russert-scoop-deluxe), top litigator Edwards and various and sundry other wannabes and there’s quite a crowd.

The strangest two-year effort regarding an office-holder – but in reverse – has just occurred in Lexington, Ky., however. The city’s monopoly newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, has just finished publishing a four-part, front-page-above-the-fold Pulitzer wannabe entitled – in bold headlines – The McConnell Machine. Multi-pages were devoted to this obvious effort at establishing a two-year head-start on what is obviously the paper’s main agenda, to wit, the defeat of Kentucky Senator (Senate Majority Whip) Mitch McConnell in the senate race of 2008.

This effort, as explained by the paper, was the brainchild of former editor Marilyn Thompson, whose greatest journalistic effort to date was the sort of “outing” of the late Senator Strom Thurmond as the father of an illegitimate, mixed-race child (gasp) way, way back when, never mind that this was one of those “open secrets” in the Beltway (no gasp there). Ms. Thompson had a slight problem when she hatched the McConnell hatchet job – not enough cash to sic a reporter on the expose full-time for six months to do a comprehensive number on the senator.

So…she applied to something called the Center for Investigative Reporting and actually received a grant of some $37,000 or so to support one of the paper’s own reporters, who apparently sort of took a leave of absence from the dull routine of castigating republican office-holders in general and switched to an attempted political assassination of one, in particular. That’s a bona fide head-start on 2008.

In the meantime, the paper (Knight-Ridder property) was sold to McClatchy Newspapers, the head honcho(s) of which took a dim view of this shenanigan. After a review by McClatchy, the company determined that reporting by staff members should be paid for by the newspaper. Well…of course, but that’s so…well…so boringly ethical. The money was returned to the CIR so it could carry out further political assassinations for papers of the L-H-L ilk, meaning “take the money and run!”

The reporter used up the six months (what a life!) and heaved and huffed and puffed and delivered himself of four segments with the titles “Price tag politics,” “Foreign aid wins friends,” “Two for the money,” and “A lucrative connection.” It was iterated and reiterated that McConnell had gained no money illegally, had gained no money for himself, and had done nothing wrong. This, of course, had the unintended consequence of proving the depth of honesty the senator possesses, but apparently no one at the paper realized this. Ms. Thompson might have caught on, except that she moved on during the process to become national investigations editor (what else?) for the Los Angeles Times, presumably to use her talents in such endeavors as engaging the Center for Investigative Reporting to do the heavy lifting.

In the process, McConnell’s wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, was dragged along apparently to indicate the sinister side of McConnell’s nepotistic machinations, notwithstanding that Chao was appointed to her job by the president, not her husband. McConnell does for the entire party (raise funds) what most senators do primarily just for themselves. Unlike the Clinton/Gore amateurish and illegal approaches (the Lincoln bedroom sales, the poverty-stricken nuns, Johnny Chung, for instance), McConnell does things above-board. He’s a professional, untouchable, as the paper has discovered no doubt to its chagrin, and eminently successful…in an ethical sort of way, which would naturally be hard for the Lexington Herald-Leader to understand.

In any case, the paper might grab a Nobel for its efforts, that institution’s hatred of this country (except for that virtual denizen of integrity – Jimmy Carter) being well documented. After all, Yasser Arafat rated a Nobel, proving that even an orangutan could qualify.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ramadan as Slaughter

Every culture has its periods of emphasis on one thing or another, especially those having to do with religion. There are no month-long observances in this country, although there are seasonal time-blocks devoted to getting ready for specific observances. Currently, the country is already beset by planning and buying related to Christmas, still two months away. For a few days, Thanksgiving will be front and center next month as families and other groups have reunions and express appreciation to God for their blessings.

Perhaps the nearest thing in this country to an extended time-frame devoted to a specific religious observance is that of the Lenten season, lasting 40 days and leading up to “Holy Week,” including “Maundy Thursday,” “Good Friday” and “Easter,” the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. There’s no intensive change from the routine during this time, though some celebrants forego the use or practice of something considered to be either of great value or great pleasure. Actually, many jokes are made regarding the practice, since the notion of sacrifice is not all that popular. In any case, this season is one of solemnity and personal/institutional emulation of Christ’s care and love for others.

Not so everywhere. Muslims finished their month-long observance of Ramadan on 21 October. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran “was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation.” It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.

During Ramadan, Muslims, in fasting throughout the day and taking body-nourishment only at night deny themselves for high-flown purposes, and there can be no doubt that millions of them take the observance quite seriously. They celebrate the end of the season with a sort of holiday and then return to the usual routine.

In Iraq, Muslims celebrated this Ramadan by the wholesale killing of each other and anyone else available, giving the lie to the meaning of the observance, turning it into a bloodletting of immense proportions – hundreds of people slaughtered simply because they were in the wrong place at the right time or vice versa, depending on the viewpoint. In October to date, they have also killed between 70 and 80 American GIs, who thought they were liberating a people who would care for each other, set up a government, and generally institute a society that would be the antithesis of what they endured under Saddam.

Instead of taking advantage of the liberation to do good, terrorists (all Muslims of one stripe or another) have planted bombs on bicycles in order to kill their own people in the marketplace; planted huge bombs in cars in order to blow up police stations and kill Iraqi policemen by the score; shot or mortared anyone thought to be a peacemaker of some sort. In short, Muslims have wreaked havoc upon Muslims – in the name of Allah (God) – at the very time when they should have been discovering ways to get along with each other…in order to follow what the imams say is the Muslim way, that of doing good.

Ramadan has been a time when it seems that some Muslims are even more obliged and gratified to kill other Muslims than they are to kill Americans. Saddam, at least, was not all that religious. He killed for very personal reasons, i.e., to control the populace and fill up many banks with money in his name – manifold hundreds of millions, much of which was spent to build those 40 palatial residences scattered throughout the country. He feigned obeisance to the alleged peace-emphasizing Quran when it suited his purposes…or did he?

Suppose the Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, and Jews all decided to break out their M-16s during Lent the next time around, put together some “dirty bombs,” and celebrate the “peace that passeth all understanding” for 40 days and nights by annihilating each other in the public square, in churches and synagogues, on school playgrounds, etc. That, apparently, would be the Osama/Zawahiri/Saddam observance of Lent. God help us.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, October 19, 2006

300 Million, Western Civilization...and Oblivion?

The nation was 125 years old before its population reached 100 million, but gained its next 100 million in only 52 years and its next 100 million in less than 40 years. Its center of population was in Maryland in 1790, Kentucky in 1880 and Missouri by 2000. By 2050 there will be well over 400 million citizens, less than half of them Caucasian for the first time in history. Counting the some 55 million people potentially accruing to the 47 million abortions since 1973 and the potential offspring of the earliest aborted fetuses, the population might have been 355 million. Life expectancy at birth was 47 years in 1900, 68 in 1950, and about 78 today, but anyone making it to 76 can expect another 12 years, on average.

The demographics are simple enough and the reasons, though not the methods, for the phenomenal changes are not complicated. Life expectancy at birth in the African nations of Swaziland and Zimbabwe is only 33 and 39, respectively. Their people are time-warped back to the Middle Ages, when life expectancy in Medieval Britain was 33 years. By contrast, Europeans developed a “Western Civilization” that carried over to this country.

This doesn’t mean that everything regarding Western Civilization has always been civilized, defined as “characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint.” Slavery, the backbone of the economy of the entire world for millennia right into the 20th century, could hardly be reckoned as a product of civilization, though the ending of it can. Saudi Arabia (not Western-oriented) did not officially end slavery until 1962, but that was only100 years later than the U.S. Germany’s perpetration of 11 million deaths in the total holocaust of the 1930s-40s is another case in point.

The keystone of Western Civilization lies in its emphasis upon individualism, education, curiosity, and the understanding that anarchy is anathema to survival, or at least “quality” survival, whether thwarted by the abuses of monarchy/dictatorship or simple communal mayhem – every man for himself. These characteristics were embodied in Martin Luther, perhaps the father of the Reformation and certainly the driving force in successfully establishing that the individual stands on his own feet before God and man, his obeisance to the former fashioning his relationship with the latter.

The arts and sciences as developed in Western Civilization, tempered with the importance of recognizing the Judeo-Christian God as the Supreme Being defining the “way to live and let live,” have afforded this nation the dominant position it maintains among all the nations. Painting, music, writing have flourished in an atmosphere of freedom secured by technologies used to both enhance the quality of life and protect the citizens against danger from both within and beyond the nation’s borders.

The relatively well-educated products of Western Civilization who came here were searching for a place to live and maintain a society. Their counterparts went to South America concurrently but just searching for a place to do business. The differences between North and Central/South America connote the result. Though the neighbors to the south, blessed with abundant natural resources but sadly lacking educational opportunities and leadership, are making progress in pulling themselves into the 21st century, they are light-years behind the U.S. For instance, the GDP of Brazil, the same size as the “lower 48,” owns a GDP of $1.5 trillion ($8,100 per capita), while the U.S. GDP is $11.8 trillion ($40,100 per capita). The colonizers left a dark continent eventually, but stable governments are sadly absent throughout the region and conducted mostly by despots, while poverty is extensively pervasive.

The colonizers of the U.S. stayed the course and invited the world into its “melting pot” of humanity, with successes virtually too amazing to believe. A strange paradox is obvious, however. There are now those, particularly in academia and in mainstream religious denominations, who constantly try to lay a “guilt-trip” on the nation for the very success it has enjoyed. Inherent and most important in the progress of the nation have been unity of purpose, one official language (English), and the nuclear family as the basic unit of society.

For the last three decades, the notion of unity has been degraded by the elitists in favor of multiculturalism and diversity. In other words, the people’s differences with each other have been deemed more important than their similarities, one outgrowth – among many – of this approach being the insistence upon Multilanguage, notwithstanding either its silliness or obtuseness with regard to practical considerations and as a unifying concept.

This approach destroys the effectiveness of the tenets of Western Civilization, since by definition multiculturalism advances other forces as equal when, in effect, they are not. This is not to disparage other cultures; rather, it is to insist that the approaches of other cultures have not produced the results endemic to this nation. For example, African music has contributed to posterity little more than rhythm and simple instruments and harmonies with virtually nothing written, while musicians in the countries of Western Civilization have produced instruments of every description and everything from simple ditties to complicated symphonies to majestic church music, with elaborate methods of producing written notation and text.

Technically, the American Indian had not even made use, at least extensively, of the simple wheel when the first settlers arrived, having remained primitive when people in other parts of the world, principally those of Western Civilization, had been inventing everything from printing to sailing vessels to guns. Again, this is not to disparage the culture, intelligence, or lifestyle of people; rather, it is simply to state the obvious.

Since the 1960s-70s, the era of “if it feels good, do it,” the family has been under attack, to the detriment of the society and even to the extent of states having to pass constitutional amendments forbidding the “marriage” of a man to a man, as if such a thing is possible in the natural order of things. In 1921, the number of divorces was 13% of the number of marriages and in 1960 the figure was about 25%. Today, the number of marriages and divorces are equal at 50%. The behavior leading to this sad state of affairs belies the “characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint” description of civilization.

Since the 1980s, the hippy-dippy, flower-children generation of the 60s-70s and their offspring have been operating the nation’s institutions as its social fabric – the family – has disintegrated. Not even the magic of Western Civilization will hold together a society marked by coarseness even as it is availed of the brightest brains in the world, such coarseness defined by men and women unable to form inviolable commitments to each other and their children.

It is the element of Western Civilization that has made this country what it is. If those who are in the process of rewriting history to make this nation the devil of the ages and multiculturalism the new foundation undergirding the society are successful, the United States will pass into the oblivion that overtook other great civilizations, such as Rome and Greece, which also rotted from within.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Domestic Partner" Con Game

The trustees of the University of Kentucky are facing the domestic-partners-benefits question having to do with whether or not to extend to unmarried “partners” and their alleged dependents the same rights and privileges accorded only to eligible employees and their families/dependents. According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate, 11th Edition, a domestic partner is “either one of an unmarried heterosexual or homosexual cohabiting couple especially when considered as to eligibility for spousal benefits.” So, for university purposes, the domestic-partner issue has to do with cadging unauthorized perks from a citizen-owned institution the things legally authorized and officially documented only for spouses and families, principally those contingent upon the marriage contract.

On 02 November 2004, Amendment 233A was overwhelmingly approved by the voters and made a part of the Kentucky Constitution: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized”.

In Kentucky, homosexuals may not legally be married to each other, thus the “partners” are not accorded standing accruing to spouses for consideration(s) provided by the state or institutions regulated or supported by it. It would appear that no benefits are available for any individual not legally married to an eligible recipient, or a dependent not having family standing, as in the case of children in either homosexual households or heterosexual shack-ups. The law – actually carrying the weight of the Constitution – seems quite clear.

Even if the institutions are self-insured and employees usually pay part of their health-insurance premiums, the state has the power to regulate them. A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. UK, a land-grant institution, is subject to governance by the legislature, which has the last word as to how the higher-education institutions (indeed all publicly supported institutions) will be operated, notwithstanding the responsibilities of respective trustee/governing boards.

Kentucky law – actually Constitutional mandate – does not even recognize an undocumented relationship, the obvious conclusion consequently being that no public institution may do so for any purpose, including those concerning financial matters. The taxpayers of the state pay the freight, as do the parents of most students, and these taxpayers have spoken in a landslide vote extending the ironclad fist of the Constitution. This is true for all other states where this is an issue. Private institutions can do as they please, and a couple of Kentucky colleges do the domestic-partner thing, as do some industries in Kentucky.

Lexington, Ky., Mayor Teresa Isaac tried to impose the domestic-partner benefit on Fayette Countians by executive order in 2003, but was turned back immediately by the governing Council. Her bizarre action was perpetrated by the claim of a homosexual city employee that his partner (lover, whatever) should be entitled to the benefits of a wife. The partner was neither infirm nor unable to work and pay his own way…and certainly could never be a wife.

Those who insist that this domestic-partner issue is related only to a religious belief – therefore not a matter with which government can be concerned since it automatically becomes a church-state issue – are widely off-base. It’s a social issue, first and foremost, since it derives from what can inarguably be called the “natural order of things.” Letting down the bars on this “natural order” is tantamount to condoning perversions on a grand scale. One has only to look at nations such as the Netherlands, where both same-sex marriage and “consensual incest” are legal, to see the result. What’s next – legalized bigamy…tripartite marriages…harems…all supported by the state?setstats

Perhaps the most egregious reason given for the domestic-partner perk (not counting the overarching one of political correctness) is that its inculcation is necessary to bring UK into research-university top-20 land; in other words, the brightest and the best brains are so overwhelmingly owned by homosexuals or those unwilling to make a marriage commitment that they must be cajoled and pampered into blessing the university with their superior abilities. What hogwash! The basic unit in the society is the family, already under enough attack without an institution of higher learning condoning its anathema. Even if the perk were legal, on the basis of plain common sense it would be intolerable.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Speaker Hastert - Political Scapegoat

The latest scandal in the Congress has to do with Florida Congressman Mark Foley’s lewd e-mails to pages who have served in the House of Representatives. Apparently Foley never touched one of the pages, all boys, but his e-mails have certainly marked him, a homosexual and at least a potential pedophile, as unfit to either serve in the Congress or be in the presence of young people.

This is an election year and so the opposition has its long knives out, strangely aiming a stab-in-the-back for Republican House Speaker Hastert, accusing him of not protecting the pages, even though Foley never touched them and Hastert claims to have learned of the e-mails only recently. How have other speakers fared when similar situations have arisen? Consider the cases of Illinois republican Dan Crane and Massachusetts democrat Gerry Studds. Crane had sex with a 17-year-old female page and was never reelected; Studds had sex with a 17-year-old male page and was subsequently reelected five times.

The difference between the Crane and Studds cases (1983) was caused by demographics and the same outcome would be the same today regarding the same circumstances. Folks in Illinois took a dim view of Crane’s actions, while Studds’ lurid act of perversion was perfectly acceptable to folks in Massachusetts, in which marriage between homosexuals was legalized in 2004. In 1983, Studds, the homosexual who had violated a 17-year-old boy, actually mooned (virtually, of course – turned his back on) the House when he was being censured.

Stephen Gobie ran a homosexual prostitution ring from Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank’s home. In 1987, the Washington Post broke the story. An attempt to expel Frank, himself a homosexual, from the House of Representatives failed on a vote of 390-38, but he was censured with a vote of 408-18. Frank's political career has survived and he still serves in the House of Representatives, in line to chair the House Financial Services Committee if the democrats recapture the House in November. The speaker in 1983 and 1987, Democrat Tip O’Neill Jr., kept his office.

In 1974, Democrat Wilbur Mills, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was caught up in his affair with stripper Fanne Fox, billed as the “Argentine Firecracker.” While out with Mills, Fox, with two black eyes, was found thrashing around in the Tidal Basin on the Mall in Washington, while Mills had scratches and broken glasses. Both were drunk. The speaker at both times, Democrat Carl Albert, stayed right in place.

Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supported California Congressman Gary Condit’s candidacy five or so years ago for reelection despite his affair with an intern, Chandra Levy, who was later murdered. In California, where homosexual marriage was approved by the legislature last year, that’s not a problem for Pelosi – another case of demographics. The democrat House leader, presiding over landslide-size majorities, was not expected to resign in any of these cases, so the drive against Hastert is purely political. He was not hounded to resign in the Condit affair, either. Foley apparently didn’t touch anyone, but Crane, Studds, Mills, Frank, and Condit did.

In October 1964, just weeks before he faced reelection, President Lyndon B. Johnson was told that his close friend and most trusted aide and father of six, Walter Jenkins, had been arrested on a sex charge, caught with another man in a YMCA toilet. Jenkins, of course, resigned. Even though Jenkins had high governmental clearance at a time when such was never granted to a homosexual because of the possibility of blackmail, Johnson’s opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater, did not make an issue of the matter, another way of not holding one man responsible for another man’s behavior.

The quintessential example of sexual perfidy in government, of course, was provided by former president Bill Clinton, who apparently had a great time dallying with intern Monica Lewinski and others, even coughing up $800,000 to Paula Jones and her lawyers to settle a lurid suit out of court. Besides the well-publicized hands-on violations/perversions, one wonders how a phone-sex conversation would compare to an e-mail. Clinton was impeached in 1998, not for the sexual misconduct, perverted and otherwise, but for perjury and obstruction of justice in his attempted cover-up. The Senate did not think the matter serious enough for removal, so the democrat rush to judgment regarding Hastert is not even small potatoes, though unbelievably hypocritical, even by Washington standards.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Military Madness

The recent brouhaha caused by the allegation that female members of the National Guard unit headquartered in Danville, Ky., had posed nude or seminude for pictures while handling military equipment remarks the detrimental effect that militant feminism and the idiotic obsession with unisex philosophy has had on the nation’s military. While it remains an imposing fighting force, it is beset with social-engineering problems that have unnecessarily weakened it.

As noted in the Heritage Foundation publication of November 6, 1997, “the Army's initial experiment with gender-integrated training lasted from 1977 to 1982. The experiment ended after it became apparent that male recruits were not being challenged sufficiently and women were suffering too many stress fractures.” Also noted in the article: “President Clinton's assistant secretary of the Navy, Barbara Pope, has averred that ‘We are in the process of weeding out the white male as the norm. We're about changing the culture.’”

Therein lies the problem. The notion that men and women are exactly alike and would therefore function with equal success – except in Pope’s view implying the superiority of the “female norm” – was totally discounted by 1982 in the gender-integrated boot camps, but the lesson was totally ignored during the Clinton administration, when they were again integrated sex-wise. According to the New York Times of March 17, 1998, “Defense Sec.William S. Cohen rejects recommendation of special panel that armed forces segregate men and women for much of basic training … .” Neither Clinton nor Cohen had served in the military, but that didn’t mean that they had to lack plain, common sense.

Also on the social side, Clinton’s first Defense Secretary, Les Aspin, had to deal with the thorny question of servicewomen in combat. In April 1993, he announced that the services were to allow women to compete for assignments in combat aircraft; the Navy was to open additional ships to women and draft a proposal for Congress to remove existing legislative barriers to the assignment of women to combat vessels; and the Army and Marine Corps were to look for opportunities for women to serve in such components as field artillery and air defense. This was social engineering at its wackiest. The Marines, in obvious disobedience to this day, have not even allowed gender-integrated boot camps, but the Army, Air Force, and Navy have hewed the line.

Social engineering was a Clinton specialty with regard to the military, which he famously admitted loathing. During the 1992 campaign, he promised that homosexuals would be acceptable in the military in his administration. When he exercised the executive order to implement this promise, among his first acts as president, he ran into an unyielding cadre of commanders, who said “Enough!” The order was rescinded and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach was adopted, a relatively meaningless face-saving device. Military morale tanked during the 1990s.

This is not to say that there’s no place for women in the armed services. Indeed, whereas in 1973 the services were 2.5% distaff, women made up 15.2% in 2004, but the nude-picture fiasco, as well as the Abu Ghraib pictures involving women troops doing unseemly things along with their male partners in obscenity, might not have happened, obviously, if the sex-mixing had been foreclosed. The point: gender-integration in operating units practically screams for dysfunctional outcomes. Gender-segregation practically guarantees that this sort of morale-destructive lewdness will not occur.

The more serious matter has to do with the efficiency of the fighting force. The military is designed to break things and kill people, objectives that through millennia men have proven themselves to do quite sanguinarily, whether in the right or wrong. This is because they are emotionally equipped for the task and strong enough to carry it out. Assuming enough sense to function, if either the will or strength to win is absent the fight is lost. Collectively, women lack the strength, though not the intelligence, to be good fighters. They also lack the “killer instinct,” as chauvinistic as that sounds.

The seriousness is exponentially multiplied when the genders attempt to function together in combat, especially guerrilla warfare in which the enemy is all around – no front lines. Men, on whom the burden actually lies, instinctively protect their female colleagues at a time when their job is killing the enemy. Women, collectively lacking the strength and the will to be killers, become part of the burden.

War is not an exercise in social engineering, and no GI, male or female, should be used as a pawn in the damnable political-correctness game. In any case, men (vast majority in Congress, the military, and the administration) who will place women in a position to be abused in their own service and/or captured and face the brutality of torture, gang-rape, and merciless death by an enemy are flawed creatures, undeserving of their positions.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark