Wednesday, April 26, 2006

All-Out War on the Baptists

Apparently it’s official now. The Lexington Herald-Leader has declared war on the Baptists, and is making daily skirmishes its modus operandi, although it’s tilting at windmills since there’s no high-profile opposition to answer its ravings. It began about 08 April at which time the paper started a run of seven front-page-above-the-fold articles out of nine front pages (six consecutively), complete with huge pictorial displays and equally huge interior sections of the (A) section, devoted to the expulsion by the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., of a student who “outed” himself as homosexual on two Web sites (including details about his “dating life” and pictures of young men kissing each other). The editorialists also had a field day(s) in excoriating the school. In the regulations governing the student body and spelled out in the student’s handbook is the school policy making homosexual behavior cause for expulsion, as well as fornication, adultery, drinking on campus, etc.

Students have doubtlessly participated in a number of prohibited behaviors, but apparently have not gone on the Internet and been either dumb enough to describe their transgressions or in-your-face enough to flaunt them. The expelled student had also expressed the virtual hope on the Web that he would be expelled because he wanted to get away from the school – obviously with good reason. It was an ego trip of immense proportions, since it almost cost him a complete semester’s credit. The paper has made this into a matter so serious as to practically demand Congressional notice, notwithstanding that at least 200 institutions of higher learning in the country have a similar provision governing students, and afforded the space in its “news” accounts to advertise a grand protest of some kind at the school for 19 April, for which the local constabulary recruited law enforcement from around the countryside, expecting disruption on an equally grand scale. The paper said “about 50” showed up, meaning that maybe 35 did…probably about one demonstrator per officer. Certainly, no significant contingent of the UC 1,700-member student body attended.

On 23 April, the paper shifted its focus a bit and went back to front-page-above-the-fold tactics. The college deal had lost its steam, so “reporter/editorialist” John Stamper did a number focusing on the fact that the state had become somehow unwelcoming to the brightest and best brains in the land – those, of course, belonging to homosexuals. The reason (gasp), according to local businessman Alan Hawse as quoted by Stamper: "Bigotry is bad for business and having a governor who is obviously bigoted is fundamentally incompatible with business.” Governor Fletcher recently corrected the requirements of the state hiring plan to its original code involving equal opportunity with respect to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sex and age and re-conformed it to federal and state laws. Immediate past governor Paul Patton had by executive order amended the prevailing order by adding as protected classifications sexual-orientation and gender-identity. The order was never actually followed, since to fulfill it an application would have to include the opportunity for an applicant to designate himself/herself as a homosexual or lesbian. Just plain common sense! The front-page article was a huge red herring – actually slander upon the governor – and was beneath contempt on the part of both the paper and the businessman, whose picture was also prominently displayed above the fold.

The focus re-shifted to the Op-Ed page on 24 April, this time by publishing a column by a University of Kentucky student who attempted to apologize on behalf of UC, ostensibly for its administration’s un-Christian action, at least in his view as one not even remotely connected to the situation – another unprofessional, rather silly bit of folderol by the paper…another act of war on the Baptists. Also in the Op-Ed section of the 24th was a column by Christian Gilgor, the executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, headquartered in the state capital to advance the homosexual agenda. Citing Kinsey’s statistics, Gilgor claimed 10 percent, or some 400,000 Kentuckians, are homosexual, a claim so absurd as to be laughable. This is the organization represented at the Easter egg-roll at the governor’s mansion by homosexuals and/or their sympathizers wearing some sort of leis or necklaces designed to flaunt their homosexuality as “normal parents.”

The thrust of the column had to do with the fact that the legislature recently voted $10,000,000 of coal-severance taxes (not general-fund monies) to be granted to UC for the purpose of setting up a college of pharmacy, there being only one in the entire state at a time when the state is short by some 400-500 pharmacists. The Alliance is planning a legal challenge. Governor Fletcher did not line-item-veto the allocation, but posited his approval upon whether or not the grant is constitutional. The courts will probably decide the issue.

So…the war is declared against both the Baptists and the governor, who happens also to be an ordained minister as well as a former fighter-pilot, state legislator, and U.S. Congressman. If what has happened in the last two weeks or so is any indication of what the paper, as far-left as a paper can get, has in store, the war, especially against the Baptists, will be practically a daily undertaking, complete with front-page coverage, pictures, etc. The H-L has already proven its ruthlessness and elitist demeanor by attacking Southland Christian Church, Lexington’s largest church, last December, the governor’s prayer breakfast a short while later, and the University of the Cumberlands and the governor currently. Its agenda is inordinately homosexually oriented, notwithstanding the public’s rejection of that lifestyle, as indicated graphically in 2004, when same-sex marriage was outlawed constitutionally by voter referendum, as well as benefits to shack-up couples and their families. Individual companies can do what they like, but they will put their money where their mouths are, not the monies of the state.

Note: The student issue was front-page-above-the-fold again on the 25th in connection with the news that the governor did not veto the pharmacy-college funding for UC, but let it stand on the condition that the courts rule it constitutional or not. The student’s remark: "I think (Fletcher) chose to fund bigotry and discrimination rather than to promote equality throughout Kentucky." Each individual provides his own definition of bigotry, but the term is thrown around loosely. The KFA, ACLU, and the Kentucky Equality Association (a pro-homosexual outfit) have already announced their decision to challenge the funding.

Note: So, after the governor had done what any reasonable governor would have done, this is what editorialist/columnist/blogger Larry Keeling had to say in the H-L on the 26th with respect to the governor’s savings-veto activity: “Not that controversial $11 million for the University of the Cumberlands, either. Two lawyers on your staff disagree about the constitutionality of that one, so toss it over to the state courts. Heaven forbid that, after hearing both sides of an issue, a governor would make a decision and actually lead.” Keeling would have done the same thing, especially if the money had been awarded to any institution for an effort to secure the right of men to marry men and women to marry women. He’s well on the record for this, despite the unconstitutional element involved. The war goes on against those deadly Baptists.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cumberland/Herald-Leader Wrapup

Finally, the saga concerning the student expelled from the University of the Cumberlands, because of his flaunting his homosexuality by describing his “dating life” on two Web-sites, is over, and the Lexington Herald-Leader, which adopted this affair as a cause celebre has had to move onto other areas of supposed discontent/abuse/discrimination/exclusion/racism/whatever for its ridicule and bashing. It bashed Southland Christian Church last December, ridiculed the governor’s prayer breakfast earlier this year, and then tried to make some sort of cockamamie issue out of this business, which might have warranted a small space a couple of times in the regional-news (B)-segment of the paper. UC receives some funding from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, whose churches number nearly 800,000 members in just this state, and so, ipso facto, the school was ripe for degrading on the twin axes-to-grind subjects of church-state and discrimination, since a proposed pharmacy college at UC had been voted funds in the just-ended legislative session.

On seven days of a nine-day period, the paper made the subject front-page-above-the-fold stuff, positioned in the area devoted to the most important news of the world. This says something about the managerial mentality and professionalism attached to this publication. In addition to the huge front-page segments, pictures, and headlines, the paper dedicated a huge plethora of columns and pictures to the subject on its interior pages, all in the front (A) “news, editorial, op-ed” section. In the process, it furnished free-of-charge in the supposed “news accounts” the information that a protest drawing people from all over the state would be held at UC, Williamsburg, Ky., on the nineteenth. On the evening TV news accounts of that “protest effort,” there seemed to be more interviews with law enforcement people, standing around sort of slack-jawed and obviously wondering why they were there, than with the participants. The paper said “about 50” showed up, so there might have been 35-40 actual participants. There are 1,700 students at the school, so it might be correctly assumed that their apathy was evident.

It should be remembered that neither the churches nor most believers nor the school have any argument with homosexuals per se. They are welcome in most churches. It is homosexual behavior that is intolerable. It is and has been plainly stated in the school handbook that homosexuality is grounds for expulsion, though it is understood that this applies to behavior. The same is true in the military, from which homosexuals are immediately discharged when they “come out.” A student’s public bragging about his fornication/adultery would also eventuate in his expulsion, since that practice is also prohibited, so homosexuals are not indiscriminately pointed out for punishment.

The misfortunes of the expelled student are over, at last. The University of the Cumberlands has relented and will give him his grades upon his handing in his work. This is good…also a good way of not having to spend money fighting the inevitable lawsuit. The important protest to which the paper had given significant free advertising came a cropper. Obviously, even though the Lexington Herald-Leader had made this a front-page-above-the-fold issue seven days out of nine and the student had been treated to celebrity status locally and nationally, the affair was not even up to ho-hum standards. The expelled student’s “boyfriend” was there at the protest and was pictured on the front page on the 20th…yep, above the fold just like he’s the king, holding the microphone and giving the word.
The good news for the school is that there actually is no problem with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, its executive director clarifying that issue as quoted in the paper of the 20th. Besides citing the rules, he indicated that in his seven years on the job his agency has never rejected a school’s application because of its sexual orientation policies. The governor, an ordained minister, can line-item-veto the funding, and there’s tremendous pressure on him to do so. However, the university in Lexington has a no-alcohol/drinking-on-the-campus rule, so it seems okay for a school to have a no-homosexual-activity rule, too, and the academic accrediting agencies seem to agree, so the pharmacy agency, by definition, shouldn’t be bothered by such a rule. The religion question certainly has nothing to do with pharmacy or any other area of study, especially since the students are not required to have a specific religious preference and, indeed, may be atheists if they choose.

Editorialist/blogger Larry Keeling had this in the paper on the 21st: All Fletcher has to do is read Section 189 of the state constitution, which says, "No portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school." What Keeling doesn’t mention is the fact that UC is not owned by any sectarian agency, church, or denomination. It is operated by a board of trustees and financed by tuition fees, grants, gifts, etc., the same as most institutions. It receives some funding from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, but is not operated by that entity. A case can probably be made either way, and the issue may wind up in the courts if the governor allows the $10,000,000 to be allocated, notwithstanding his certain approval of $75,000,000 to build a basketball showplace for the University of Louisville, something that is totally irrelevant to education and society, especially when compared to a college of pharmacy in a state that has only one presently.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, April 16, 2006

School, Trashed by H-L, Stands on Principle

At this writing, 15 April, the Lexington Herald-Leader has for six consecutive days presented on the front page above the fold accounts of the ouster of student Jason Johnson from the University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Ky., the reason having to do with his flaunting of his homosexuality by documenting details of his “dating life” on two personal Web-sites. The handbook of the school includes the requirement that the encouragement of or actual participation in homosexual behavior is not allowed and that to violate the requirement disposes a student to expulsion. Johnson, age 20, with apparently the full knowledge of what he was doing vis-à-vis the requirement, automatically disenfranchised himself as a student. On his site, he had already noted his intention to leave the school, but probably not in the way his leaving took place. One can only wonder at his motivation, but it is significant that his family engaged a lawyer immediately, notwithstanding his obvious and self-admitted violation of school regulations.

On the 14th, according to the newspaper, Johnson was in New York doing interviews, probably with the usual suspects in the mainstream media, the purpose being, of course, to ridicule the school and especially those evangelicals of Baptist persuasion. UC receives some funding, a very small percentage of its income, from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, a consortium of churches involving 790,030 members in Kentucky, which channels support from those churches to the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination second only to the Roman Catholic church in size and probably the denomination most hated by the liberal establishment, both governmental and by the so-called mainline churches, which have struggled with the homosexual problem for years and in the process steadily lost members. The school will survive without the Baptist support, but the stand taken is on principles it happens to share with most Baptists….as well as a lot of other people, especially in the voting public.

It’s doubtful that any single event in the paper’s history (including wars and pestilences of every kind) has been covered with this much obvious overkill, a news item that might have made the first page of the state-news section of most city newspapers, and then only once. In today’s issue, on the 15th, the paper devoted a huge segment of the front page and nearly all the news-area of page four to this matter. Buried on page five with a small headline was the fact that two soldiers had been killed in the Iraq War. Enormous sections of both the front pages above the fold and interior pages have been devoted to this matter throughout the six-day period (as well as editorial trashing of the school), the subject of sodomy being more important that actual life-and-death news.

One looks for a reason for this obvious advancing of an agenda designed to destroy, if possible, an institution of higher learning that caters particularly to disadvantaged students in the Appalachian area of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee and awards scholarships that are hard to believe in the process, 95% of the 1,700 students receiving aid almost commensurate with the cost of tuition, on average. The paper is a part of the Knight-Ridder empire that has just been sold, is inordinately liberal, and, as such, could be expected to hate anything it might construe as part of the so-called “religious right.” Therein lies the reason. Johnson means nothing to the paper. He’s merely a tool to be used in the propagation of its effort to discredit the Baptists and all other evangelicals.

How successful will the paper be? Most likely, it has completely misunderstood the public, especially parents sending their offspring to school. The attention the school has received from both the local paper and the TV interviews nationally will comprise an enormous amount of publicity the school could never have concocted otherwise. States have been giving the absolute back of the hand to demands of homosexuals in referendum after referendum in recent years. The citizens of Kentucky, for instance and despite concurring laws already on the books, voted an amendment to the State Constitution only months ago absolutely outlawing marriages between homosexuals, also a way of saying to the homosexual/lesbian community that its demands will not be met. Earlier this week, the governor of Kentucky removed from state-hiring-practices procedures a “special protection” clause for homosexuals, letting the protection of people on the basis of gender and ethnicity do the job. Homosexuals have reacted loudly, considering themselves a category defined by something as obvious as race, when they are just men and women, like everyone else, and should be hired/fired on those bases, not as some sort of special people deserving special treatment.

It should be remembered that neither the churches nor most believers have any argument with homosexuals per se. They are welcome in most churches. It is homosexual behavior that is intolerable. This is not just a biblical matter, though homosexual practices are prodigiously condemned in scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, Jesus himself used the episode of the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, actual historical places driven by homosexual populations and destroyed by God, to describe the outlook facing those who did not respond to his ministry. However, those who do not believe the Bible have only to contemplate homosexual practices to be repelled by such behavior. The military, by law, can and does immediately discharge any serviceperson known to practice homosexual behavior. It is an abomination, and the nation that countenances it as normal has only to consider what the nation would become if the small percentage of homosexuals could be exchanged for that of heterosexuals. Imagine a nation probably 98-99 percent homosexual – another Sodom or Gomorrah…and, of course, a veritable hell on earth. Unnatural behavior on a large scale leads to chaos, exploitation of the most vulnerable, and, of course, unspeakable disease.

The protesters will be on the UC campus, it is reported, on Wednesday, 19 April. There are hundreds of institutions of higher learning in this country that do not countenance homosexual behavior, one close to Lexington being Asbury College, a strong nationally respected school with strong connections to the United Methodist Church. The administration at UC has made it plain that it stands on Christian principle. It offers quality education and will continue to be a good school, this affair doing it far more good than harm.

Note: On the seventh day, the 16th, the Herald-Leader left Johnson off the front page and put him in the lead and only editorial, even though the paper had already editorialized Johnson and his self-inflicted predicament earlier. Look out Baptists, the paper means to demonize and de-denominationalize [sic] you.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lexington Herald-Leader Strikes Again

There it was in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 08 April – front page above the fold, left corner, bold headline – Baptist School Ousts Gay Student. The paper ridiculed Southside Christian Church, the largest congregation in the city, back in December because services were not held on Christmas Day, a Sunday (paper technically wrong), and proceeded earlier this year to trash the governor’s prayer breakfast because the breakfast didn’t suit the H-L, its editors presumably considering themselves more religiously acclimated than the governor, an ordained minister, and all the others who took part in the annual affair, none of whom were ministers.

The University of the Cumberlands (formerly Cumberland College) in Williamsburg, Ky., expelled Jason Johnson, a self-declared homosexual, on either the sixth or the seventh, according to the paper, which also noted that by the time the paper was printed on the eighth the young man had engaged a lawyer. Johnson had outed himself on his personal Internet Web page. The university is not a Baptist school; rather, it is an institution sharing the philosophy of and receiving funds from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which shares the philosophy of and helps support the Southern Baptist Convention. This is doubtlessly the reason the paper played the account on the front page, as it did in the other cases. The mainstream media, of which the H-L, is a far left outlet, despises most religious entities but reserves a special hatred for Southern Baptists, considered by many to be an integral part of the so-called “religious right.” The account might have been appropriate for the state-news section of the paper, but it most likely received front page attention because of the term Baptist…too good an opportunity to pass up to savage the school and the Baptists all at the same time.

The university policy that was violated by Johnson is stated thusly: "Any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw from the University of the Cumberlands." Johnson, apparently just three weeks before the end of the semester and for reasons known only to himself, brought the rule down on himself, forcing the school to either uphold its requirement or render it useless. Moreover, Johnson knew when he went to the university that the homosexual lifestyle was not acceptable. UC President Jim Taylor issued this statement: "At the University of the Cumberlands, we hold students to a higher standard. Students know the rules before they come to this institution. We've followed our policies and procedures in keeping with our traditional denominational beliefs. University of the Cumberlands isn't for everyone. We tell prospective students about our high standards before they come. We are different by design, and are non-apologetic about our Christian beliefs."

Regardless of what one believes about homosexuality, it needs to be remembered that UC is a private school and is not required to accept/retain students it deems as not belonging there. This does not mean that other homosexual students are not at the school. There may be a few homosexuals there, just as in the case of the military, in which they also are officially not welcome but may serve as long as they do not divulge their sexual preference. This is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that President Clinton tried to reverse as almost his first official act after assuming the office, only to discover that not even he could change things, so strong was/is the aversion to homosexuals in uniform.

In the view of most Southern Baptists, homosexual behavior is an abomination that they deem defined as such in the Holy Bible throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Hatred is not the issue. The practice of sexual perversions is the issue. While government agencies (except the military) have been legislated locally and nationally into making homosexuals a protected group in a number of ways such as in housing, employment, etc., private entities can still make their own rules. Though they have been pressured almost beyond endurance, even the Boy Scouts have held their ground with respect to this issue. However, legal actions can produce amazing benefits. Johnson already has a lawyer, causing one to wonder if some sort of suit was not envisioned before his action, the obvious aim being to gain monetarily.

During the Patton administration in Kentucky, the state engaged an agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention to care for young people and children whose lives had been disrupted in one way or another, their living at home no longer possible. When it was discovered that a KBC employee was a lesbian who had outed herself in some sort of public exhibition, she was fired, and the liberal outcry was that the KBC had violated her civil rights and could therefore no longer be engaged in the displaced-child program. Governor Patton stood firm in declaring that there would be no change. Actually, regardless of how he felt, the state had no provision for the service to the children. The employee was fired and the system remained. The same is true for UC, with an enrolment of over 1,700 students and where tuition and fees amount to $12,658; room and board: $5,526. Nearly 95% of the students receive some type of financial aid, with an average amount awarded per student at $12,797.

The school, a junior college until the 1960s when it became a four-year college, has long been associated with the mountainous Appalachian region, peopled by thousands of students who can’t afford expensive educations. Besides having the usual departments, it is unusual in that it has an accredited Pharmacy college. The campus spans approximately 70 acres and includes 32 buildings and 2 sports-field complexes. Former governor Bert Combs was a student at the school in the 1920s, stoking furnaces to pay for his education there.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Georgia Attacker

Broadcast recently on WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, herewith is posted a statement so profound in its implications that it should be transmitted around the world so that it will be known internationally that the police in Washington, D.C., are expected to perform at levels of law enforcement far superior to any that can be imagined elsewhere: "It is ... a shame that while I conduct the country's business, I have to stop and call the police to tell them that I've changed my hairstyle so that I'm not harassed at work." This statement (or was it part of a “working memorandum” from somewhere?) was made recently by Cynthia McKinney, U.S. congressperson or congress-madam or congresswoman or congress-coed from the Fourth District of Georgia. The occasion that triggered the remark was the physical stopping of Ms. McKinney by a policeman as she was illegally bypassing a metal detector in a Washington office-building after being warned three times to cease and desist, shape up, and do the right thing by emptying her purse of all metal and doing her duty. She responded by whacking the policeman with her cell phone – a nice shot to his chest that ought to be worth a cool million in a civil suit on the grounds of mental suffering, emotional trauma, a bruised sternum, and a crushed pack of expensive cigarettes

In a press conference after the affair had been made public, Ms. McKinney appeared with “Yellow Bird” Harry Bellefonte and actor Danny Glover, who have recently returned from a love-in with Venezuelan Head-Honcho Hugo Chavez, where Bellefonte proclaimed to one and all that President Bush is the greatest terrorist and tyrant in the world. Why it was important for these gentlemen to appear at the PR clambake is not known, but one wonders why McKinney didn’t wait long enough for the arrival of the Right Reverend Honorable Louis Farrakhan (known familiarly as “Calypso Louie”), and the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to join the group, a gathering apparently formed to turn the policeman into some sort of “ogre-under-the-bridge” type ready to burst upon the scene and destroy congressional females who haven’t reported a change in hairstyle. In any case, with Louie and Harry to furnish some spirituals with a “banana boat” beat and the reverends to offer sermons, there could have been a revival of gigantic proportions coupled with a Hate-Bush rally that would have gladdened the likes of Kim Jong Il in North Korea and Saddam kneeling on his prayer rug in the International Airport Hilton in Baghdad.

According to the Washington Post, McKinney said this in a radio interview following 9/11: “We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. . . . What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? . . . What do they have to hide?” Maybe this explains the whole thing. The policeman was white, as is George Bush, so the natural conclusion to be drawn is that the policeman had planned all along to attack her, an innocent black woman, but grabbed her arm instead of flying an airplane into her, thus not ending her life then and there. If he had used a box-cutter on her carotid artery, she would never have had to worry about her coif again, but he probably was not a Moslem on his way to the 72 virgins and so had not been taught the niceties of murder, mass or otherwise.

Said the congress-lady, "This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman." So…did that policeman make a move on the lady right there in a public hallway in full view of at least two witnesses (both subpoenaed to appear before a grand-jury circus) and probably some video cameras? Could it be that the new hairstyle simply whipped up an intense passion that he simply couldn’t handle? On the other hand, according to CNN, Ms. McKinney also said that the issue behind her confrontation with the Capitol Police officer was "racial profiling." So…which was it – passion or profiling…or both? In a draft of a statement McKinney did not release, she said the officer "body-blocked" her during the incident. Body-blocking? The only place where such as that is appropriate is either in the National Football League or a marine boot camp, so McKinney might at least have had the good grace to land on her derriere (satisfying the objective of a body-block) instead of trying to put the policeman on his.

According to CNN, McKinney and her attorneys insist that Capitol Police officers should be trained to recognize all 535 members of Congress on sight. As for the members of Congress, many, if not most, don’t even recognize each other…but apparently the lady from Georgia expected to be recognized immediately, never mind that Washington is about 60% black (at least in 2000), so she doesn’t actually stand out in a crowd there. One wonders how many guys – white or black – take much notice of a woman’s hairdo (her figure maybe, but her hair?); however, apparently McKinney thinks that a change in hairdo is absolutely unmistakable and subject to instant internalizing by the male-policeman mind. She HAD changed her hairdo – sort of looked like the lady who arranged it might have plugged it into a wall-socket, judging from her appearance on TV and her pictures in the papers. Of course, it could have just been a windy day or she might have collided with an 18-wheeler. Putting it kindly, her hair was standing on end and actually WAS noticeable; however, even noticeable hair has to go through the detector when its wearer is not wearing her ID badge.

The episode of McKinney will no doubt lead to the establishing of a new agency in the D.C. Police Department or the Courts or the Congress to deal with the problem. The rumor is that Senators Kennedy and Durbin are suggesting a Court Hair-Adjustment Oversight System (CHAOS, for short) to be responsible to the Judiciary Committee in its capacity relative to overseeing everything that happens in Washington.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Censure as Farce

I made it a point to catch a good bit of the “censure hearings” at one time or another on C-Span. This was the famous hearing held on 31 March before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, pursuant to an approved resolution introduced by Democrat Senator Russell Feingold in behalf of securing an official censure of the president, accruing to the alleged illegality of the so-called “secret” activities of the National Security Agency. For a number of years, agents of the agency have monitored communications originating in other countries and directed to known or suspected Islamic operatives (cell groups) operating in this nation as terrorists…actually potential terrorists, since there have been no other attacks in this country since 9/11, notwithstanding the constant drumbeat that more are on the way.

It was planned that the judiciary Committee, made up of 10 republicans and eight democrats, would discuss the issue with a panel of five legal experts, at least in theory. This is what happened, but only after a fashion, since only three of the democrats and five of the republicans on the committee took part – eight out of 18. After doing their thing with the panel, the senators, with the exception of chairman Specter, ranking member Leahy, and Hatch, seemed to be absent most of the rest of the time. Even Feingold, who was probably there most of the time, was not there all the time, according to reports. In other words, the hearing was not consensually important enough to even attend, much less take part. Actually, Feingold had only two co-sponsors to his censure request, in the first place – Senators Boxer and Harkin, probably two of the most far-left politicians ever to inhabit the Capitol.

Of the panel, John Dean, former official in the Nixon administration (Nixon’s counsel) who served four months in prison for his part in the “Watergate Affair,” probably received the most abrasive treatment. He claimed that the NSA surveillance-program was a more serious threat to the nation than the Watergate matter – about as far-fetched as a claim could be, but, then, he has authored a book (April 2004) entitled Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush and so could have had a vested interest financially in appearing at Feingold’s request. Quite a number of books by people unhappy with Bush have been published since he took office in 2001. Strangely, Dean almost talked out of both sides of his mouth. When confronted with stringent questioning by Senator Graham, he claimed that the White House cover-up was explained by Nixon to be on the basis of national security, rather than the protection of those guilty of a crime. This flew in the face of Feingold’s effort, since Bush has claimed the surveillance-program to be in the same interest – national security.

The usually glib, soft-spoken Leahy, known in Washington irreverently as Senator “Leaky” Leahy because of his well-documented leaks of even classified documents, lost his cool this time around, the only time I’ve seen that. Panelist John Schmidt, a democrat and former Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, spoke apparently without notes and excoriated Senator Feingold to a degree leaving nothing to the imagination (and in the process with seeming pleasure took an exquisite swipe at Dean), to which performance Leahy responded with his voice ever rising until he was virtually at the edge of hysteria. This was marvelous theater; Schmidt had simply destroyed any claim that the NSA methodology could be considered illegal, laying out a step-by-step approach so logical as to be breathtaking but ending, in the final analysis, with the fact that the president, under the Constitution, had virtually unlimited powers to exert in protecting the nation. Viewers of the hearing – or any others – when placing themselves under the gun, as is the case of the president with regard to national security, can identify with this, as long as there is a guarantee that no citizen’s actual rights are violated…though, even in some cases in which they are, such as when presidents have suspended the writ of habeas corpus, an action taken by both Lincoln in the 1860s and Roosevelt in the 1940s.

Specter and Graham were interested in the matter as an effort to discover at what point the president or the Congress steps over the line with respect to sharing (or not sharing) power. This had little to do with national security, and Specter said at the beginning that he thought the censure motion was without merit. Graham, exhibiting some passion himself in excoriating Dean, told the former Nixon aide that he considered the two affairs (Watergate and the NSA surveillance) to be a comparison between apples and oranges. This same power-sharing theme was front and center in the recent hearings concerning Roberts and Alito, nominees to the Supreme Court. Feingold, at least ostensibly, staked his claim on the right of a citizen – any citizen apparently – not to have his privacy violated. His approach might be vitiated, however, by the fact that he may have in mind a run for the democratic nomination with respect to the presidential election in 2008. How better to establish a high-profile position than to take on the president…on any matter? His colleague on the committee, Senator Biden, announced months ago for the job, but saw fit to avoid this hearing altogether…so, which man, if either, made the right choice?

Also on the panel of experts were Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and international consultant, Robert F. Turner of the Center for National Security Law, and Lee Casey, a Washington lawyer. The most surprising was Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration whom many may remember as the skinny lawyer that appeared frequently on TV. He came across as so aghast at the very idea that the surveillance program was in place that he simply “protesteth too much.” In other words, he sounded phony. Casey and Turner, the latter almost belligerently, blew off any notion that the program violated anything. Indeed, as was noted often, the program was known not only to the judges responsible for adjudicating acts in light of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but was periodically spelled out to the appropriate members of Congress, none of whom in either party had voiced objections.

Besides being totally unwanted by senators in either party, the hearing, if anything, established rather firmly the fact the president has been totally within his powers in subscribing to the NSA surveillance activity, and that its exposure has been detrimental to the “war on terror.” This last is the tragedy connected to the whole nine yards. As for Feingold, he simply may not understand that the average Joe feels he has nothing to fear because he has nothing to hide, even if his privacy may accidentally be invaded, as it can be all the time, anyway, by computer hackers, credit-card companies, etc. If Feingold was laying down a marker for a presidential run, he certainly gained the support of the lunatic fringe – the Leahy/Howard Dean crowd, for instance – but he most likely lost those in both parties who are susceptible to being reasonable.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark