Thursday, March 30, 2006

Apologists Hurt the Black Man

In her column of 28 March in the Lexington Herald-leader, Merlene Davis remarked that a recent news account (Herald-Leader, 20 March) dealt with the fact that the plight of black men in the U.S. is worsening. This is what she said, “The story out of Baltimore said ‘data paints the most alarming picture yet of ravaged lives and, the scholars say, of a deepening national calamity that has received too little attention.’ On March 22, there was no follow-up, no outrage, no one incensed that in this nation an entire group of people is dying just as assuredly as if they had contracted bird flu. No one seems to care.”

It’s hard to imagine a statement like that, in the first place, but it’s even harder to imagine one so broad, as if black men could fall off the face of the earth, and no one would bother to see where they landed. She’s right in calling attention to the matter, outlined by Erik Eckholm of the New York Times News Service, but blatantly wrong in accusing everyone – except perhaps her – in not being outraged, either from the standpoint of compassion or one of disgust. Eckholm called attention to an amazing phenomenon concerning black men, namely, that in the country’s inner cities he is an exception if he graduates from high school, legal work is scarcer than ever, and incarceration rates are climbing even as urban crime rates decline.

Davis offered this quote: "I see the syndrome occurring, yes," said David Cozart, community involvement manager at LexLinc, a non-profit organization that coordinates services for low-income Lexington residents that lead to self-sufficiency. "It is the cyclical phenomena of fatherlessness." This is Davis’s interpretation of what Cozart meant: “What he's saying is that because this nation began severing black fathers from black children back in slavery, then continued that amputation with welfare regulations, we now have multiple generations of black men who don't understand true manhood.”

And therein lies much of the reason that the situation is as bad as it is, namely, that black males of today are incessantly indoctrinated by people like Davis, who have huge audiences, with the notion that they are the victims of slavery that ended 140 years ago, and that the white men of that era and the government of this era are responsible for the fact that black men are disadvantaged and don’t understand “true manhood,” though she didn’t explain how “true manhood” differed from any other kind of manhood. Victims, of course, are to be pitied and cared for, as well as understood, so they’re not expected to do anything for themselves.

Davis misstates the situation when she talks about this nation severing black fathers from black children as a continuing matter dating from the 1860s. It’s true that the obvious consequence of the behavior of black men who don’t finish school is that they will not get good jobs and thus are faced with the option of either working at what they can do, no matter how unskilled or low-paid, or turning to crime for sustenance and/or drugs for continual highs, a perpetual form of escapism from facing life. By their mid-30s, six in ten black men who have dropped out of school have spent time in prison. By this time, they also have either deserted families or sired thousands of children without benefit of marriage, the latter involving much the greater proportion. In other words, the concept of traditional family has been almost completely ignored, the result being the enormously high number of households headed by black women, with fathers who are totally undocumented and therefore totally without responsibility for their own offspring.

It has not always been that way, Davis’s inference to the contrary notwithstanding, not to mention her denigrating of black men who for years before 1960 looked after their families. A good method of approaching the reality is to look at the illegitimacy rate, since single women with illegitimate children are left to themselves, with a huge amount of help from the government, to conduct their fatherless families. In 1960, the rate of illegitimacy among blacks was 23.6% of births, meaning that 75% of black families could be assumed to be headed by a man and wife. Now, that rate is 70%, probably much higher in places like New Orleans, the logical conclusion being that currently only 30% of families are headed by both parents. So, there has been a long period of time since the Civil War when black men have known what Davis would probably call “true manhood.” There’s no blame to be placed on the society or black men for black-family disruption, since, comparatively at least, there was no significant disruption prior to 1960.

Perhaps Davis is at her misleading, distorting best in blaming “welfare regulations” for the problem, when she would be accurate in blaming “welfare entitlements.” By 1970, after the welfare enactments of the 60s, that illegitimacy rate had climbed to 37.5% (increase of 59%), as people realized that government checks were out there for the taking. The number increased another 32% by 1975, thus more than doubling in 15 years, and plateaued more or less in the 90s, reaching 70% by 1995. Whites have also gotten into the act, with illegitimacy rates increasing from 3 percent in 1960 to 28.5% in 2002 and probably 30% by now, for a probable increase of 900%. Disgusting!

If Davis wants the public to take notice of the problem, she needs to quit blaming the public for a bad situation obviously brought about by the best intentions of the public, through its lawmakers, to gain for blacks, men and women, perks that their forbears could only dream of. Notwithstanding all the contradictions to the contrary, quota systems, for instance, have been in place for decades, actually bringing about “reverse discrimination” and lawsuits resulting from it.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, at yearend 2004 there were 3,218 black-male-sentenced prison inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,220 Hispanic-male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males and 463 white-male inmates per 100,000 white males. Even assuming a degree of societal impact causing the black-male problem, is it reasonable to simply accept as normal the fact that black men are headed to prison in numbers seven times more than that of white men or almost three times more than that of Hispanic men? No. Their problem, by far in the main, can no longer be laid to racial profiling, bad childhoods (although admittedly there’s a generational component), or much of anything short of the willingness to get by, no matter how and no matter who gets hurt, especially their illegitimate offspring. With a country trying to cope with eleven million illegal immigrants, millions of them simply wanting to work, this hugely inordinate group of black men either sit in jail or roam the streets. Until Davis can convince her own community that it must get its act together, she is simply blowing in the wind. Actually, she needs to get some kind of message to black women, who themselves share equally in this abysmal circumstance. It takes two to tango…also to raise a family.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Prez and the Press

I caught most of President Bush’s now famous (or infamous) press conference of the 21st on TV, and watched as he managed to parry and feint admirably with an obviously overwhelmingly hostile collection of media folks. Though the activity lasted nearly an hour, with a number of subjects discussed, the recently sold Knight-Ridder newspaper in my city, the ultra-liberal Lexington Herald-Leader fashioned its big-bold headline the next morning thusly: “Bush: U.S. in Iraq past ’09, emphasizing an almost off-the-cuff remark the president made about the complete recall of U.S. troops from Iraq being the business of another president of each country.

The amazing thing about this headline was that it didn’t feature columnist Helen Thomas’s opening remark in which she accused Bush of “wanting to go to war” and demanding to know why. It was a smart-aleck, grandstanding performance, but the president was gracious in his response. Thomas had not been called upon for a question for three years, apparently, so that might have had something to do with her testiness and the president’s ease. One can only wonder what the lady thought the prez might have had in mind as the result of 9/11…perhaps a tea party with Osama to discuss the naughtiness of wrecking airplanes. For accusing the president of wantonness in wanting to cause American bloodshed, she should be banned from further conferences. Hers was an unconscionable show of both disrespect and stupidity.

The most amusing thing about the conference was that the president managed to gently make the point that Americans see the Iraqi War in terms of how the media report it, and that this means that the preponderance of opinion contributing to low president-oriented poll-numbers (though he pays no attention to them) is negative. This has set off a firestorm in the media. The subject was taken up on 21 March on the Lehrer News Hour, the PBS public-information program. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a nonpartisan research organization that studies the news and entertainment media, and also a professor of journalism at George Mason University, said, “certainly the network coverage -- shows that there's two to one or three to one negative tilt in coverage of Bush's foreign policy, coverage of Iraq; so the coverage is negative and critical.” Though crudely done, Thomas provided the perfect example of what Lichter meant.

The paper’s allusion to the matter of troops in Iraq for a while yet, as if that’s something that simply could not be expected or tolerated, was so laughable as to upstage anything Jay Leno might caricature. The fact is that a total of 195,172 American GIs (as of 30 June 2005 and not counting any at all in Iraq) are present throughout the world in 29 countries. They entered South Korea in 1950, for instance, and as of 30 June 2005 there were 32,744 American GIs still there. They entered Japan in 1945, and some 35,300 or so are still there. Amazingly, there are only 69,400 or so in Germany – yep, been there since 1945. Sixty-one years and counting does seem a bit long for U.S. troops on foreign soil, especially with no end in sight, but to the local paper the notion that GIs might be in Iraq for a time beyond the current three years may seem too wild to consider. GIs are not occupiers in those countries…they are in them at the expressed invitation of those countries, as is the case regarding the desire of the Iraqi government newly in place. Indeed, after World War II, some 300,000 GIs populated Germany for more than 40 years, until the Soviet Union disintegrated, thus losing status as a threat to the entire free world. Even Italy and Britain have large contingents of GIs in-country – some 12,250 and 11,100, respectively.

What are those troops doing in South Korea or Japan? Obviously, they serve a military purpose – helping defeat any enemy that would arise. Actually, they exist more as cannon fodder in their present numbers. North Korea has a military consisting of 1.1 million troops on active duty, with a whopping 4.7 million in reserve capacity. South Korea’s active outfit is hardly more than half the North’s, though its reserves number 4.5 million. Japan, however, is comparatively unprotected militarily, numbering only 240,000 on active duty, with a paltry 44,000 in reserve. North Korea has already expressed its belligerence, threatening to have (or already having – who knows) atomic weaponry, and has fired missiles across Japan. The problem for Kim Jong Il, the little bloodthirsty tyrant/madman who rules North Korea, is that a move on either South Korea or Japan would be a move on U.S. forces as well, since American GIs would come under attack. They form the deterrent that stabilizes the region, since even the little Asian-Napoleon has more sense than to invite certain U.S. retaliation if he made a move, at least assuming someone like Bush is president. What a Clinton-type (either one) or a Kerry-type might do is anyone’s guess.

On NBC’s Meet the Press of 19 March, Pennsylvania Congressman Murtha proclaimed to moderator Tim Russert that Bush should fire all the folks responsible for the war effort and that defense Secretary Rumsfeld should resign. In the press conference, Bush made it abundantly clear that no such things would happen. I believe Rumsfeld has mentioned before that he has offered his resignation, but that it was not accepted, and Bush went out of his way to express confidence in his secretary, not for just his conduct of the war but also for his management of the retooling of the military for the kind of operations now necessary in a world in which terrorism is the main battering ram for subduing populations.

Predictably, the question of the terrorist surveillance program (wiretapping stuff on only foreign-originated calls to suspected terrorists in this country) was brought up, ostensibly the reason for Wisconsin Senator Feingold’s recent censure motion that went nowhere and embarrassed his party. The president rather adroitly handled the matter by reminding everyone that nobody in the Democrat Party had stood up and called for getting rid of it. He didn’t mention that Feingold might have been grandstanding in an effort to jumpstart a move for the presidency in 2008, but he indicated that demurring democrats ought to take their message to the people about getting rid of the program and even gave this as a quote they could use: “Vote for me. I promise we’re not going to have a terrorist surveillance program.”

The prez had the good grace to admit that mistakes are sometimes made, pointing out the surplus of trailers in Arkansas and that time was lost in figuring a way to get at the terrorist problem in Iraq; however, the conference was a tour de force for Bush at a time when he needs to talk straight to the “mainstream” media folks whose numero-uno agenda-item involves hurting the administration as much as possible in a time of mortal conflict.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Athletic Director Deluxe

There was no joy in Mudville (otherwise known as Lexington) on the 19th, when the University of Kentucky lost out in the NCAA basketball circus (so defined since there shouldn’t be more than 16 teams to start with, instead of 64) but there was not necessarily grief on the part of the Athletics Director – at least regarding the finances of it all and disregarding “what might have been” – since the Cats increased his good fortune even in defeat, though they could have enhanced it much more by making it to the magical Final Four. Parenthetically, Mitch Barnhart, who became the AD in 2002, originally signed a seven-year contract, but a clause in it called for him to receive a fully guaranteed five-year rollover at the end of the first three years. That rollover guarantee was made good last September. His base salary of $375,000 ($275,000 base plus $100,000 as TV/Radio Package) per year plus substantial incentives remains the same. Though he arrived on the scene some six or so months before, his original contract was not settled until January 2003 – apparently a lot of dickering going on over a few months.

By virtue of the fact that the Cats barely made it into the initial 64-team lineup (seeded eighth), AD Barnhart collected a cool $25,000 bonus on the spot, since his contract, as outlined in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 16 January 2003, stipulates a $25,000-windfall if either the men’s or women’s basketball team makes the final field. Depending on the interpretation, Barnhart could collect another $25,000 because the women’s team also made the glorious NCAA tournament, as befits any school trying for top-twenty academic status. If either of the two teams had made it to the Olympian heights of the Final Four, Barnhart would have collected another $25,000, win or lose. Neither will be in the Final Four, unfortunately. So…since the Cats (men) also made the 64-team-cutoff in 2003-05, the AD picked up another cool $75,000 for that. This means at least another $100,000 (maybe $125,000, counting the women) made off the backs of the basketball players alone since 2003. Not bad.

Actually, all that stuff is chickenfeed when compared to what the AD could knock down if the football team would just get on the ball. If it could just make any post-season bowl appearance – no matter how lowly – Barnhart would collect $30,000 on the spot. The big enchilada, though, would come his way – $100,000 – if the football Cats made it into either the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, or Orange Bowl, whether they won…or lost by eight touchdowns. About all a team has to do to get to a bowl is win seven games (maybe just six would do), so the AD has to get the troops motivated if his bank account is to remain worthy. So, by this summer, presumably, Barnhart will have drawn $1.6 million in salary and basketball bonuses that are known about…in four years. This doesn’t count the $5,000 he gets if any other team makes it into an NCAA tournament, and another $5,000 if it actually wins. Counting gymnastics, golf, probably cheerleading, volley ball, swimming, baseball, no telling what else, some bonuses may have amounted to a good pot by now, also…but just chickenfeed and unknown in this corner. Actually, the women’s swim/dive team participated in the NCAA championships in Athens, Georgia, last week, so, presumably another $5,000 in Barnhart land.

According to Barnhart’s contract, UK has been setting aside $30,000 annually, which Barnhart could begin collecting on 30 June this year. It’s not known here how the collecting will take place, but apparently that’s another $120,000 as of now to sweeten the old bank account. It’s called “longevity pay.” One supposes this feature was “rolled over” in the contract extension. So that the AD will not be unduly burdened with transportation problems, UK also furnishes him with two cars for business and personal use. In addition, he’s entitled to $50,000 in “discretionary incentives” as defined by UK President Todd. It’s not known here if he’s collected on this feature.

Barnhart is entitled to yet another $100,000+. As is often the case in sports operations, Barnhart skipped out on his contract with Oregon State to come to UK, but was required to pay OSU that amount for the privilege. To ease his pain, UK agreed to “loan” him that amount for five years at a “commercially reasonable” rate. However, if Barnhart stays five years (2007), the whole loan plus interest is forgiven. At four percent compounded annually, that works out to about $121,665 that Barnhart will never have to repay. What a contract…plus the extension!

This sounds zany…and it is. While UK stretches for top-20 status as a research institution, this is the kind of stuff that demoralizes, especially when faculty and staff are hard-pressed to make ends meet. In the 90s, UK paid football coach Bill Curry $600,000 to quit; a few years later UK paid football coach Hal Mumme $1,000,000 to quit and threw in a coupla cars for a while. In 1999, the football coach at the University of Louisville, Ron Cooper, was paid a cool $1,000,000 to quit. When athletic departments can get away with this kind of irresponsibility, one wonders at the tuition increases placed on students who must borrow money to stay in school and then spend years paying off the loans.

Top-20? Not likely as long as the priorities are where they are. Notwithstanding the fact that UK won two NCAA basketball championships in the 90s, plus all kinds of other conferences/tournaments in other years while practicing in Memorial Coliseum, a new practice gym costing multi-millions (some even kicked in by the state) is now being built so the team can be “great.” Imagine the scholarships and tuition decreases that could be made with that kind of dough. Disgusting!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Whither the Mainstream Newspapers?

The Knight-Ridder newspaper empire has been sold to a smaller outfit that plans to sell 12 of the assets and keep 20, among which is the Lexington Herald-Leader. As a result, one could have hoped that there might be more fairness in the paper than exists now, with respect to balance vis-à-vis the liberal, moderate, conservative, libertarian positions, but the word is that there will be little change in Lexington.

One could even hope that the paper might be returned to the journalistic traditions of a few decades ago, and actually take on the appearance of a serious document put together by news reporters on the news side and commentators, editorialists on the opinion side. That isn’t likely to happen, either. Now, as the news (always bylined, something never done before in the newspaper heyday) is delivered on pages once reserved for news, it is “reported” within the concomitant analysis of the reporter. This is done, ostensibly (or so one gathers), so that the ignorant public not only will know what the news is, but will also know what it means…or at least what the editors with their own agenda attempt to make it mean.

The TV people have fallen into the same agenda-driven operation. Check out the evening news “shows” on ABC, CBS, and ABC to see how the news is filtered through the political or other network agendas…in other words, remember Dan Rather. Just as in the case of newspapers, these “news outlets” are losing viewers, not least because many people check the blogs, radio talk-shows and independent sheets of one kind or another to find out the facts that the mainstreamers are loath to expose because the facts often destroy their liberal agendas.

On the front page of the 12 March edition of the Herald-Leader appeared an account concerning former UK- basketball-star-turned-evangelist Cameron Mills. This might have been worth a few column inches in the Features or Religion section, but it was given about two-thirds of the front page and another three-fourths of a later page in the same front section, with a total of six pictures. It was bylined by Frank Lockwood, who helped the paper ridicule Southland Christian Church over the Christmas non-service and the governor’s recent prayer breakfast because it was allegedly somehow discriminatory at best or insensitive at worst. This is not a slam at Mills, but it’s worth noting that Lockwood brought out some facts that certainly didn’t do the decent and obviously devout Mills any good…plus the fact that it wasn’t front-page news.

In the edition of 07 March, columnist Merlene Davis was allowed to cite what she obviously considered an item concerning racism in Connecticut. She told one side of an episode, gave no corroborating sources or even the initial source leading to her screed, and was careful not to offer the “other side.” In her offering of 14 March, she claimed that there had not been enough discussion in the Urban-County Council of the camera-traffic-light matter before the vote was taken. The vote was 13-2 against. How much discussion is needed in light of a consensus as overwhelming as that? She expressed the view that the vote represented bullying. These are examples of the depths to which the paper has devolved.

One longs for the days when there were two newspapers in Lexington, as well as in Louisville. There were even two independent dailies in Danville, the small town where this writer grew up. The papers were independent and represented competition and, no doubt, poignantly differing editorial stances. Now, the monopoly in both large cities (Louisville Courier-Journal, H-L), where the papers have belonged to the huge Gannett and Knight-Ridder chains, respectively, for years is disintegrating as subscribers take a walk and the papers are forced into meaningful cost-cutting. Worth noting, both papers are ultra-liberal in a state that becomes more conservative each year in a nation that is behaving likewise.

It’s simply too bad that there isn’t balance in the state’s largest print media, but the fact that there isn’t is beginning to tell.

And so it goes

Jim Clark

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Professor Cooney and the Ports

The anti-administration bias on most college and university campuses is evidenced in a column in the Danville Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Ky., by Centre College professor Brian Cooney. Cooney begins his screed with this profound statement: “The political storm over the Bush administration's contract with Dubai Ports International to manage six large American ports is a striking example of poetic justice.” The contract does not call for DPI to manage anything other than the operations at the ports, poetic justice notwithstanding. DPI will not be responsible for security. According to a Homeland Security official speaking recently on C-Span, every incoming container is scanned and the small percent of questionable ones are unloaded for searching. On average, this takes about five hours. James Zogby of the Christian Science Monitor wrote recently, “Regardless of what company owns the management of some of our ports, the security issues remain in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security.” Eighty percent of west coast ports are operated by foreign companies now, as are 50 percent of east-coast ports.

Cooney continues, “Bush has spent years whipping up a national mood of dread and anger against a vaguely defined enemy whose name is ‘terror.’” It would be hard to imagine a more simplistic or misguided statement than this. If Clinton had been whipping up such dread and anger during the 90s, there might not have been a 9/11 (a terrorist episode, for Cooney’s benefit), which happened just eight months into Bush’s presidency. Since then, no one has had to whip up any dread or anger, since just a fair amount of walking-around-sense is all one needs to identify “terror,” which is anything but vague. One wonders about the number of students who keep a straight face in Cooney’s classes and then snicker behind his back if he comes up with this stuff in class. One wonders what Cooney would have labeled 9/11 – perhaps a bit of justifiable suicide/homicide against evil Americans?

Cooney continues, “Having effectively terrorized the American people with the threat of Islamic terrorism, the Bush administration still saw no problem with turning over the management of major U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Obviously, Cooney can recognize terrorism that is not vague…it’s put out there by Bush who threatens to use Islamic terrorism, i.e., beheadings, suicide/homicide bombings, roadside bombs, or maybe choosing up sides with the Californians and throwing Avian-flu chicken beaks. Cooney doesn’t bother to explain that this was a business deal, not something that was under the purview of Congress, but under the purview of appropriate government agencies, such investigation having gone on for months. The management of the ports had simply been purchased from a British company that had been operating the ports. It was a business deal, and it was announced as early as last October in the Wall Street Journal. It’s big news now because this is an election year…so, what was on the back-burner last October (totally unrecognized by Congress?) has now been relegated to the front burner.

Cooney continues, “Also, the president has said that he already knows there is no security risk ("People don't need to worry"). This is a president who knows what he believes and sticks with it.” The president made it clear after 9/11 that there would be a long war against the terrorists. He knows that and sticks with it. What Cooney doesn’t mention is the fact that there have been no further attacks on American soil for these 4.5 years since 9/11. This didn’t just happen, and it’s almost unbelievable, but the fact is that the government has been active in ferreting out would-be plots and those who hatch them on their way to the 72 virgins Mohammed promised about 1500 years ago.

More Cooney: “After all, early reports of this deal emerged while the White House was preoccupied with damage control over the vice president shooting a hunting companion in the face. This comes after Cooney has just explained that the administration didn’t handle the port thing very well. Mentioning the accidental shooting is what might be expected of Screamin’ Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton or a Chuck Schumer foaming at the mouth or any other airhead, but not of the distinguished Stodgill Professor of Philosophy at Centre College, on the scene for some 25 or so years. Damage control? What damage control? There was an accidental shooting. Happens every day. The beltway and other mainstream media got upset because some small-time newspaper (in their eyes) in Texas got the scoop, so they made the shooting into an international event threatening the very stability of the U.S. government…and everyone with enough sense to get in out of the rain has been laughing at the media ever since. But Cooney got sucked in…laughable.

More Cooney: “As many commentators have pointed out, the most serious problem with our port security is not the Dubai contract. Well…how about that? Should one think that Cooney set out to make an argument and then completely destroy it himself? Maybe this is the way that philosophers do their job. Strange. He goes on to cite massive under-funding of security functions…the usual demand of the liberal – throw more money and people at the problem, but doesn’t mention that things have been quiet here since September 2001, using the massive amounts of money already thrown at the problem, much of it wasted.

Predictable Cooney: “He allowed bin Laden to escape, and he quickly withdrew personnel and resources in preparation for the invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Cooney may call living in a cave with the water dripping on his prayer rug, and climbing up and down mountains as some sort of escape, but he will get an argument from anyone who’s ever lived that way. Nor has it made the butcher happy that his top dogs have been ferreted out and clapped in irons or shot, making him practically a non-player in the current Islamic game of “Bloodbath, Anyone?” Too, new revelations have been extant lately about the connections of Saddam and Iraq with Al Queda.

Finally, the actual reason for Cooney’s column, in his words: “The combination of massive tax cuts for the rich and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on Iraq has left us without the resources to secure our homeland against another terrorist catastrophe.” The obvious fact that the nation still stands indicates that it has the resources to secure the homeland. This will not change. The liberal reaction to every problem is to raise taxes, especially on the wealthy, however defined. Economists know better than to resort to this approach, but philosophers living in the abstract are not expected to understand. Cooney is for incentive-killing socialism…reduce all people to the lowest common denominator. This is not the American way.

Cooney at his most outlandish: “Bush's ‘war on terror’ has been mostly rhetoric - an excuse for invading Iraq and an election slogan to distract us from the damage he is causing at home and abroad.” Travel to Afghanistan and ask anyone whether rhetoric or war on terror carried the day there. Travel to Iraq to see whether rhetoric or war is being waged there. Rhetoric was the watchword of the 90s. War (action) is Bush’s watchword. Sadly, Cooney deludes himself into thinking this world is Camelot. It isn’t. Nations don’t play by the rules, notwithstanding anything connected with the UN, a paper tiger. With many nations, there are no rules.

This material has appeared here before, but it’s worth repeating – for Professor Cooney, of course: “This country is intricately involved in military affairs with the UAE. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace has characterized the military relationship as “superb,” explaining that this country uses UAE ports and airfields for logistical support and for the training of U.S. Air Force pilots, according to As expected, the DOD doesn’t discuss the details of anything…it can’t because some bureaucrat or, more likely, a member of Congress like Senator “Leaky” Leahy or Senator Rockefeller would spread it to the New York Times or the Washington Post so fast that Al Jazeera would pick it up before the morning dailies in this country. Both “spy planes” and unmanned surveillance aircraft have been based in UAE, as well as the huge KC-10 refueling planes that are so critical in keeping fighter-bombers in the air for extended periods. Jebel Ali, the largest manmade harbor in the world, has become a favorite port of Navy ships in the Gulf, and is the most frequented port outside of the United States. This port has become a familiar stop for carrier battle groups while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz, separating UAE from Iran, at its narrowest is 21 miles wide, having two 1-mile-wide channels for marine traffic separated by a 2-mile-wide buffer zone, and is the only sea passage to the open ocean for large areas of the petroleum-exporting Persian Gulf states. This fact alone makes UAE one of the most strategic areas of the world, ergo, the fact that it is patently friendly to the United States cannot be overestimated. The only other friendly state in the Middle East is Kuwait, which exists only because Bush 41 kicked Saddam out in 1991. Indeed, those in power in every state on the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia and UAE, are in power only because of the Gulf War; otherwise, Saddam and his 400,000-man army would have swept the entire peninsula practically without opposition, since the states thereon could not have even barely withstood the onslaught of the fourth-largest army in the world at that time.

The UAE, almost exactly the size of South Carolina, understands all too well what it means to have the United States as a friend. Just 32,000 square miles in size and with a population of only some 2.5 million, it is one-third the size of England and North Ireland, which have a population of 60.5 million. Or, just 21 miles from UAE is Iran, 20 times larger than UAE with a population of over 68 million. These facts practically dictate that UAE be the closest friend possible to this country, especially with the treacherous bin Laden Wahabism driving the Saudi government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an absolute idiot, calling the shots in Iran and expecting to have a nuclear device soon, which he has proclaimed his concrete determination to use against Israel. Only a fool would believe that he would stop there.”

As common sense overtakes the fanatical emphasis on the November elections, perhaps the Congresspersons will learn enough to allow them to make correct decisions regarding DPI, regardless of which way they jump. Only then will the people have been served.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Racism...or Was It?

In her column in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 07 March, Merlene Davis described what appears to have been an overt incident involving racism in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Ms. Davis provided no recognizable source for her information, such as the Associated Press or some other newspaper or media outlet, but apparently considered her source to be accurate.

According to Davis, two African-American nuns (though not in uniform) were denied service by a white waitress in a restaurant in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, on 25 February. The restaurant was described as busy, but apparently with only one waitress on duty. One of the nuns claimed that the waitress simply refused to serve her when they inquired as to why it was taking so long to order. Davis remarked that this information came from a television report, but didn’t indicate what report or where it originated or if she saw the report.

The upshot of the matter was that the police were called, showed up, and asked the women to leave, explaining that they had received a call “saying the waitress had been threatened.” One of the nuns said, according to Davis, “And we basically said that’s not true.” No meaning was given for the term “basically.”

Predictably (and perhaps justifiably), the Sisters of Notre Dame, the order in which the nuns are members, contacted the headquarters of Ramada Inn, in whose facility the restaurant was located, and lodged a complaint. According to Davis, the Connecticut NAACP “has waded into the battle” and “the nuns want a full investigation and a public apology.” Davis didn’t define the nature of the battle or identify the entities involved in it.

The purpose of these words is not to say that racism was not in evidence or that the nuns were not mistreated. Rather, it is attempted here to point out the fact that only one side of this affair has been advanced. Was the waitress purposely refusing to serve the nuns or any other customers? Was she simply overworked? Surely she served African Americans as a routine matter. One out of every ten persons in Connecticut is black. Were the nuns being surly, critical, condescending, patronizing? What did the waitress have to say about what happened? Why did she feel threatened? What did the police have to say, other than why they had received the complaint? After all, expelling two women from a restaurant is not something they do every day. What did the restaurant’s manager have to say? Ms. Davis quoted the nuns extensively throughout her article. The reader knows what they had to say, but knows nothing about what the others said or saw. What television station aired this account?

This is the kind of stuff that causes people to have so little confidence in the media. If Ms. Davis has access to “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would have it, she should present it, whether it proves the nuns right (presumably her position) or wrong. She passed judgment from afar, quaintly describing the nuns as “angels” and “agents of God.” One wonders.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Katrina Redux...Reduxed!

The recent – although it’s been a never absent flap-maker since last August – resurgence of calumny, finger-pointing, and name-calling connected to the Katrina-thing has been mistakenly seized upon by democrats and other liberals as a vehicle to further damage the presidency. Much has been made of the “tapes” that have purportedly convicted the president of negligence even to the point of not contacting God and having Him stop the hurricane, in the first place; however, the tapes have simply verified that the president was aware from the get-go, even though he was on vacation, of what was happening in the hurricane area. More to the point, besides the fact that the tapes clearly have him on the record as being consistently briefed, he could do no more than anyone else, namely, plainly tell the people to “get out of Dodge",” wait and see what happened, and then react/respond.

The tapes are so damaging to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Blanco, both being stalwart democrats, that the last thing the liberal media and the party hacks should want to do is even bring up the subject of Katrina. Nagin either completely misunderstood the head honcho of the Weather Service when he was told by that worthy to get his people out of the city (he had plenty of time), or he was so incompetent that he either didn’t know the evacuation plan (if there actually was one) or simply lacked whatever it took to get action connected with the plan. Plainly, he had not seen to the provisioning of the Dome, meaning that the people stranded there had nothing because he had provided nothing for them.

Actually, with respect to Nagin and the governor, who simply couldn’t or wouldn’t make up her mind for a crucial day with respect to the allowing of federal help (causing the obvious consequences), it seems apparent that neither knew the role FEMA was designed to play, or just didn’t make any effort to cooperate. As most everyone knows, the local and state establishments are responsible for the first response to any catastrophe, with FEMA then joining in the effort to handle it. In the case of Katrina, the response, when it actually mattered, i.e., early in the matter, was non-existent. This left FEMA with the responsibility of being the first responder, which it obviously was not either empowered or physically equipped to handle. This shows up most clearly in the lack of evacuation for which the mayor, especially, was responsible, with respect to New Orleans, and the governor, with respect to all areas.

The easiest way to see what went wrong is simply to make a comparison with the actions taken by Nagin and Blanco to those taken by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the first responders of Florida communities with respect to the myriad hurricanes that have lashed Florida. The people on the ground took their responsibilities seriously, knew what they were supposed to do, and went about the business of handling the situations. By contrast, Nagin and Blanco didn’t seem to have a clue, except that when in doubt they should criticize the federal government, no matter how many people it has saved from deaths that could have been avoided without placing other lives in jeopardy by simply carrying out the proper and assigned procedures.

Look at the difference(s) between the actions of Mississippi Governor Barbour and those (inactions) of Nagin and Blanco. Barbour’s position seems to be that, with the government’s help, those adversely affected in his state will forgo the whining and just get things back together. Though it didn’t affect as many people in Mississippi as in New Orleans, Katrina created a physical devastation just as bad as that of New Orleans, with the exception that the waters receded more rapidly. A house lost in New Orleans is no more a calamity than a house lost anywhere else.

Very soon after the devastation of Katrina came the warnings relative to another terrible hurricane – Rita. Even though there was considerable disruption as a result, the folks in and around Houston saw to the evacuation with a vengeance. There was inconvenience, of course, but the saving of lives is what mattered in Texas, and this philosophy paid off. Sadly, Houston is now being somewhat ravaged because of its huge intake of citizens who finally fled New Orleans, but, with the help of FEMA, it is facing the challenge of evacuees who will become permanent residents, along with all the problems concerning such things as public safety, schools, welfare, etc.

Ironically, the knight in shining armor in all this mess turns out to be the much maligned former FEMA chairman Michael Brown. I watched on C-Span some of the House hearings (totally boycotted by democrats on the committee) as the republicans attempted to take Brown to the woodshed, but now have egg on their respective faces in light of the recent developments, not to mention the Senate hearings, some of which I watched. Though with a checkered past, Mr. Brown actually did well during the Katrina incident, just as he had done for more than two years while hurricanes absolutely devastated Florida and other places. Bush was right when he congratulated Brown and sort of wimpy when he forced his resignation.

More to the point and certainly within the thinking of the president, no one in his/her wildest imagination or worst nightmares could have foreseen what happened in New Orleans. Nothing like that had ever happened before, and certainly nothing as catastrophic to a gaggle of local and state officials so unprepared as to be, for all practical purposes, criminally negligent. Though fraud and waste have taken place – as is the case in every catastrophe, along with the constant grumbling – where could one hope to see a nation take care of its own like this one has, with respect to Katrina? Rent is still being paid for evacuees even at gouging prices. Trailer homes have been provided, even where other folks have demonstrated they’re not welcome, even in New Orleans. Outlays of cash have been made, often unfortunately as well documented, to people who have wasted it. All the entitlements, from food stamps to medical care, have been provided. School systems have responded to what actually are crises for them. The list goes on and on.

The most outrageous claims that have been made, however, have been whined by politicians who by some unreasonable stretch of the imagination have tried to prove that the nation, ostensibly because it couldn’t handle Katrina, is not capable of protecting against terrorist attacks…this, even in the sure knowledge that the nation has not suffered another attack in the 4.5 years since 9/11. These hacks prove that they could each design a college course labeled “Wishy Washy 101.” The only requirement for designing the course – stupidity!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Judicial Shenanigans?

In a strict party-line vote, with no legislator wandering from the path, the vote in the Kentucky Senate on 02 March was one vote shy of the three-fifths needed in order to place an amendment on the ballot next November curtailing some of the powers of judges. If the same circumstance, i.e., a strictly partisan approach, were to prevail in the House, as it surely would, the amendment possibility wouldn’t have been active, anyway. Limiting the power of the courts in this fashion would not seem likely, in any case, since the U.S. Supreme Court would probably rule it unconstitutional. The practical proof of this is seen in the fact that the SCOTUS itself had the power to decide the 2000 presidential election, and there could hardly be a power greater than that.

This doesn’t alter the fact that judges and courts often DO wield too much power. Indeed, the SCOTUS itself in its recent eminent-domain ruling allowing property to be taken from one private citizen and given to another citizen(s) is proof that a court can go strangely awry. In that case, the SCOTUS was the court of last resort, meaning that the poor citizen involved, on a thin 5-4 ruling, could just eat cake. The crux of the proposed amendment initiative in Kentucky lay in the fact that republican lawmakers felt that the courts exert too much power with regard to messing with state statutes and responsibilities. The battle among the branches of government is never-ending, and it sometimes seems a wonder that government works at all…but it does. Senator Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is in a snit currently deriving from his contention that the president exerts too much power, thus relegating the Congress – especially the Senate, of course – to subservient status.

Perhaps the most egregious behavior by a judge in recent memory in Kentucky was not that of a state judge but a federal judge, and it hearkens back to the 70s. Here is a timeline excerpted from the Louisville Courier-Journal of 04 September 2005 – 1974: Directed by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Judge James Gordon orders the Louisville and Jefferson County school systems to desegregate. A plan for merging the two school systems is adopted; 1975-76: The merged school system implements Gordon's desegregation plan, which requires busing. Students are bused according to the first initial of their last name and their grade level. Under the plan, black students are to be bused up to 10 of their 12 years in school and white students two of their 12 years.

1978: Gordon ends the court's active supervision of the desegregation plan but leaves some parts of the desegregation decree in place. The school district decides to continue busing; 1984: The desegregation plan for middle and high schools is switched to a system of zones and satellite areas so most students can go to schools based on where they live. Racial guidelines: elementaries, 23 percent to 43 percent African American; middle schools, 22 percent to 42 percent; high schools, 16 percent to 36 percent. 1992: Widespread busing is replaced by Project Renaissance, a program designed to desegregate elementary schools by giving parents a choice of schools. Racial guidelines for elementaries: 15 percent to 50 percent African American; middle schools, 16 percent to 46 percent; high schools, 12 percent to 42 percent. 2000: [Judge] Heyburn dissolves Gordon's original decree, bans the use of racial quotas at Central High School and orders the school board to redesign its admission procedures at its other magnet schools before the 2002-03 school year. Throughout this period there were other judicially oriented actions.

In other words, the affair sort of came full circle. It was begun because of recommendations made in what was called the Equality of Education Opportunity report, an effort funded by the U.S. government and headed by James S. Coleman at Johns Hopkins University in 1966. It ended, for all practical purposes, because it didn’t work. This is an excerpt from the Johns Hopkins Magazine, April 2000: “As a work of sociology, the Coleman Report was full of subtleties and caveats, but the mass media and makers of policy focused on one prediction--that black children who attended integrated schools would have higher test scores if a majority of their classmates were white.” Coleman moved to the University of Chicago in 1973, and declared busing a failure because of “white flight” in 1975, barely 10 years after its introduction.

Here were two large separate school systems with elected school-boards, superintendents, and the usual bureaucracies, all mandated by state law. A federal judge, in almost the twinkling of an eye, totally disemboweled both systems and within an impossible timeframe demanded that they reinvent themselves as one system, all state law to the contrary notwithstanding, although he apparently did all or most of the reinventing. Imagine the confusion, expense, and damage done all around. This has nothing to do with race, except that in the long run everyone – students, especially – were hurt. For instance, instead of spending tax monies on educational materials, better qualified and better paid personnel, and reducing the student-teacher ratio, the system was forced to buy enough buses and hire enough drivers to carry out a plan that in ten years would be declared a failure by its own inventor.

Even worse, it established quotas and demanded that the students it was supposed to help were required to make the greatest sacrifice, at least in terms of the time, wear, and tear wasted in riding school buses, two years as opposed to ten. Nor was any thought given to the fact that people would react by moving to areas they considered far more desirable – all that at considerable expense and disruption. Even Coleman’s reason for the failure hardly washes, to wit, that white flight was the cause. If as much attention had been ordered with respect to the actual handling of academics in all the schools, the result would have been improvement all around. The judge could have watched the operation and stepped in to demand systemic improvement through proven methods, rather than completely disrupt the system. In the end, probably everyone suffered. This is a perfect example of judicial activism gone haywire, no matter how well-intentioned it might have been.

The three branches of government are necessary, but when either integrity or ignorance rears its ugly head, government suffers. The BopTrot scandal of the 90s marked the treachery of Kentucky legislators. The activism of judges, perhaps caused most often by incompetence, causes unfairness to sometimes prevail. The bad decisions of the executive, whether politically or ignorantly motivated, are hard to reverse. In the end, the courts have the responsibility and authority to put things right. When it comes to judicial decisions regarding the mechanics of government, judges should be very careful. When they overwhelmingly become corrupt, incompetent, or lazy, the state is at risk.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Price Propaganda?

A column appeared 02 March in the Lexington Herald-Leader by guest columnist Kimberly M. HayDen. Parts of it are excerpted below, with some italicized/color remarks.
I'd like to personally thank President Bush for insisting on Western-style democracy in the Middle East. Now Hamas is in control of the Palestinian Authority, and the United States gets the smug satisfaction of refusing to deal with Hamas even though it is a democratically elected political party. It has been made abundantly clear that the government will be recognized whenever it recognizes Israel as a state, just as Egypt has, for instance. This country gives a significant amount of U.S. taxpayer money to Egypt annually and has official relations with other Middle East nations.

The people have spoken, and we don't like it. Of course we don’t like it. Hamas is fueled by people such as the woman well publicized in the media recently (you may have noticed) who sent three of her sons to their homicides/suicides and is ready to send three more in order to kill people who just happen to be eating dinner in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was elected to a seat in the new Hamas government. Thankfully, you don’t like it. More’s the pity toward anyone who does.

It would be no surprise if war with Iran were next on Bush's agenda. The administration certainly seems hellbent on creating an atmosphere of fear that would justify military action. Iran is more than likely years away from having the ability to create nuclear weapons, but that won't deter our fearless leader. Perhaps you consider yourself more astute than the experts who appear in the media consistently to say that Iran is CLOSE to establishing the nuclear-bomb threat. The Europeans have been negotiating with Iran for at least two years and are as responsible as this country, not to mention the Irani idiots, for any fear. It may become necessary to neutralize the Iranis, since the current leader has publicly insisted that he intends to wipe out Israel with the bomb. He would not stop there. The only people Muslims love to kill more than Americans are other Muslims. Saddam meant to take the whole Arabian Peninsula, but was stopped in Kuwait, you may remember, by Bush 41. As for Bush’s agenda, it has already been well documented that the military option is on the table.

Even if he attempts some sort of diplomatic -- oh, never mind. That would never happen. Diplomacy has been underway for years, in case you haven’t noticed. Currently, the administration has been and is letting the Europeans carry the water. If he can't get support for invading Iran, he'll do it anyway. He will have no problem getting support, just as he gained support for the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Americans with walking-around-sense understand the threat driven by Islamic militants, and whole governments are driven by those fanatics.Maybe he'll let Israel start the war for him. Israel will do as it pleases, just as it did in 1981 when it wiped out Saddam’s nuclear facility in one afternoon with one loss of life, thus saving Israel and perhaps the whole Middle East. Or perhaps he'll just continue to antagonize Iran until its leaders figure they have nothing else to lose and bomb Israel, which Iranian leaders are itching to do. That should get the party started. Bush has not antagonized Iran. He has merely spoken truth. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated flatly that he is “itching” to get it on, as you say, and only this country stands in the way.

The Middle East is so inflamed and approaching anarchy that it is just a matter of time before the whole place explodes. Well said. In fact, the Middle East has always been inflamed and always either in anarchy or on its way there. If people there can riot over some cartoons, imagine what they would do if they really get mad. Yes, just imagine! Over here, a degrading cartoon of Christ or God is expected somewhere on a practically daily basis. No one goes down to the local mall and begins killing people because of that. That should tell you why it is important to neutralize Iran or any nation with the “cartoon mentality.”

The deal for a United Arab Emirates company to take over several U.S. ports sounds like a great idea. Putting a country with ties to extremist and terrorist groups in charge -- marvelous. You are terribly ill-informed if you believe a UAE company is taking over anything. Keep watching the news and perhaps you will understand the facts concerning the ports. If you continue to speak without knowing the facts, people will snicker.

And isn't the Iraq war going just smashingly? It's amazing that Americans continue to support this horrible fiasco. You probably wouldn’t remember, but Americans supported WW I and II (1917-18, 1941-45) when an average of 320 GIs died every single day through 4.5 solid years of actual combat. The deaths in the current conflict amount to one weeks’s total in those wars. Americans supported some eight or so years of the Vietnam Conflict (1964-72, approx.) when an average of 20 per day died and the Korean Conflict (1950-53) when an average of 34 died per day. Never sell Americans short when it comes to protecting their turf. I just don't understand why the average American citizen isn't more upset about the way things are going. Nothing is getting better; everything is getting worse. You don’t understand, especially in light of the above, simply because you don’t intend to understand or simply haven’t the gravitas for using facts to create understanding.

Everybody got all worked up about former President Bill Clinton's sex life. But why was making whoopee with some chubby chick more horrible than being responsible for the deaths of thousands? It was while Bill Clinton was making whoopee enjoying his sex life with some chubby chick that the current situation developed and eventuated in the deaths of thousands. Remember 9/11. Go back and read the histories of the 90s and maybe you’ll understand. Some keywords: WTC-93; Khobar Towers; USS Cole; Kenyan embassy; Tanzanian embassy; Sudan; Somalia.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark