Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Power of Eminent Domain - When?

There’s a place for government action that sometimes impinges upon the rights of citizens, one such being the exercising of the “power of eminent domain,” the taking of property with appropriate remuneration to the owner for the purpose of establishing facilities for the common welfare thereon or therewith. Such facilities could include such things as roads, buildings, and parks. This action is perfectly legal, subject to an offended party’s access to the courts, and not infrequently exercised.

The “Kelo Case” in Connecticut last year brought the subject front and center, however, when a municipality exercised its eminent-domain power to take property not for public use, but for use by private concerns in the interest of profitability to the entrepreneurs and tax-enhancement for the government. The matter made its way to the Supreme Court, which amazingly ruled in favor of the city of New London, thus requiring the owner involved to give up the personal property. Without question, the interests of the businesspeople involved, as well as those of the government, will be more than well-served – they will be grandly enhanced; however, where does that leave the property owner? There are other such cases in the works now, one of them outlined in the Fox-News Hannity-Colmes program the other evening.

An unusually interesting eminent-domain case has been an on-and-off-and-on matter in Lexington, Ky., since 2003. Notwithstanding that probably 95% of all municipalities in the nation own (either built or bought) and operate their water companies, this city (280,000 population) did not build its own water-supply company years ago and has never owned it. It’s owned by the Kentucky-American Water Company, which was purchased a few years ago by RWE, a German outfit that operates water companies in many places.

Suddenly, there was panic in some quarters – especially among some of the city’s best-heeled citizens – engendered, at least allegedly, by the fact that a German company had immediately become enabled to somehow cut off the city’s water supply on a whim – or as an act of…whatever – and that something had to be done. These folks set up an organization for the purpose of seeing that the city become the owner of the water company – even through the power-of-eminent-domain route, if necessary. A handful of them even “loaned” something like $750,000 to the city to cover the costs of instigating action, and a property-appraisal firm was employed. The water company made it clear that its facility was not for sale and in subsequent negotiations even offered some prime land (a beautiful park leased by the city at a dollar a year) to the city.

The kicker in all this has to do with the electricity required to operate the water company. Its supplier, Kentucky Utilities, was sold a while back to Louisville Gas and Electric, the company furnishing power to Louisville, Ky., which in turn was sold to a company in Great Britain. In 2000, LG&E was acquired by Powergen plc of the U.K. Then in 2002, Powergen plc was acquired by E.ON, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany. So…not only the water supply in Lexington is controlled by a German company, but so is the power supply. Yet, the folks agitating for water-company ownership offer no exception at all to the German-ownership of the power supply, even though not a gallon could be pumped from the Kentucky River or purified without the use of electricity.

This brings back the question of ownership of the water company. In March 2003, a city consultant said Kentucky-American was worth between $157.7 million and $352.8 million. The council authorized the mayor to negotiate with the company. She learned again that the water company was not for sale. In July 2003, the City Council voted to move forward with condemnation proceedings against Kentucky-American, and the city filed a petition for condemnation in Fayette Circuit Court. In November 2004, four anti-condemnation candidates were elected to the council, swinging the majority against condemnation, and the Council nullified condemnation, after close to a million dollars had already been spent on the effort.

The agitators for local control conducted a successful petition drive to have the question placed on the ballot for a referendum by the voters. On June 17, 2005, Council sent the ordinance restarting condemnation to the Fayette County Clerk, who declared that a condemnation vote would be held Nov. 8, 2005. The water company, of course, filed suit, and on August 26, 2005, Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark ruled that the citizen-initiated petition process was legal and set the election for November. The water company filed suit with the Court of Appeals to stop the election and was successful, but in May 2006 dropped the suit, allowing for the ballot to put the question in November. The consensus is that it takes about seven years and millions of dollars to complete the process upon which the voters will embark if they vote for condemnation. Of course, the water company may have decided that the ballot process is flawed and an adverse outcome can be held up in court for years.

There may still be questions, since Kentucky American Water provides water and related services to more than 310,000 people in 10 Central Kentucky counties. Do these people have a say in the process? If this becomes a question, it could go all the way to the Supreme Court, as did the Kelo case. The city has no system for operating water delivery to its citizens and those in the other counties, but in the event of a city takeover, how will those users in other counties be affected? Who or which institutions stand to profit? Under private ownership, the company is responsible to the Public Services Commission for the setting of rates, etc. Under municipal ownership, the city apparently will need to set up a water district, in which case what will be its parameters?

The most important question, however, is simply that of the “taking.” The water company is probably among the best in the state and is owned by investors. There is no complaint about its performance, and its rates are not out of line. Indeed, it must apply to the state’s Public Services Commission for a rate-change. The city is not equipped to run the company, has no legitimate reason for acquiring it…unless there’s a financial angle, the city becoming the private investor similar to the private entrepreneurs in the Kelo matter. Therein probably lies the rub, especially since the city, as in other areas, could well mismanage and cause deterioration to a system (and thus enhanced financial burden to the taxpayers) that is topnotch now. Used logically and in the public interest, exercising the power of eminent domain is necessary; however, if it is used to take that which belongs to one person or agency just to bring profits – either public or private – to another, a line would seem to have been crossed.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


There’s no greater act of humaneness than the giving of one’s life to enhance or preserve the welfare of another. The observance of Memorial Day has from its official beginning been – and remains – the exclamation point attached to that thought. It grew out of this country’s darkest days, the 1860s, when Americans fought each other in a deadly civil war for causes in which they believed. During the Civil War, 1861-65, an average of 340 Americans died each day, more than the average of any war before or since, even World Wars I and II, during which the average number of American deaths per day was 320, over a period of 4.5 years of actual combined combat. These are mind-boggling facts, as are the facts regarding any armed conflict, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

One need only to be just cursorily aware of the conditions under which most of the people of the world live in order to appreciate both the freedom and the lifestyle maintained in this country primarily by its military strength and the will of its people to support it. In a most profound way, notwithstanding the statements of the fainthearted to the contrary, peace is the absence of war, and the absence of war on these shores is guaranteed by those who keep it at bay through their willingness to make the sacrifices inherent in peace-keeping.

Unfortunately, peacekeeping sometimes means disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace means inevitably that lives will be lost as brave warriors “lay it all on the line”…and lose it. In this season, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice are honored, and rightly so. The tragedy, however, does not end on the battlefield. No…it reaches into the homes and the families of those left behind when a loved one makes that ultimate sacrifice. The playing of “Taps” at the grave of a fallen warrior denotes the ending of a life in the service of the country, but in a real sense those plaintive notes signal the beginning of heartache for those who are reminded daily of the empty chair, the times around the table, the singing of the hymns, the everyday things of life no longer shared with that special someone or that beloved family.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington is, in a way at least, the paradigm of many national cemeteries across the country, as well as U.S. cemeteries in nations throughout the world. Some are exclusively dedicated to the graves of GIs who have given all; others form small parts of local cemeteries; some are also inclusive of family members of those who died in service to their country. All are reminders that freedom is never free, but must be claimed and secured by whatever means necessary in every generation. Unfortunately, maintaining this security nearly always requires that some make the ultimate sacrifice. Thus, Arlington is the reminder.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Herald-Leader Gone Ape!

Christian Patterson is a “guest columnist” for the Lexington Herald-Leader. In his column of 18 May, he asked the question, “How do we want the world to see our state?” Presumably he figures that the folks in Niger (literacy rate – 17.6%) are waiting with bated breath to see how the folks in what Patterson seems to think is a back-woodsy state are getting along these days. However, he mentions some of the native Kentuckians who bid fair to make the state’s reputation soar in the eyes of the world – folks like Tara Conner, recently crowned “Miss USA” (gasp, the most notable news lately, according to Patterson); Heather French Henry, Miss America a while back; George Clooney and his father, Nick Clooney, recently spotted touring Darfur with cameras whirring like mad; and actress Ashley Judd.

All of those folks have been very successful in their chosen fields, and, mentioned as they are with such things as the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Horse Park, give Kentucky an aura, in Patterson’s view apparently, that actually approaches the attributes of a halo. Either now or at one time or another those folks have been or are in the entertainment field, thus possessing high profiles that say what, exactly, about Kentucky? Nothing. Every state in the union has produced entertainers, and most of the states don’t let the rest of the states forget it, as if entertainment somehow is made of the stuff of progress.

This is not a pejorative picturing of entertainers and entertainment, integral and important elements in the society. They serve a useful purpose, even if only in terms of recreation and publicity. Clooney called attention to Darfur and presumably will allocate considerable sums of his wealth to that benighted region, a la Bill Gates and his millions in behalf of doing something about AIDS. If he doesn’t, he should just shut up, pack the cameras, and head back to Tinseltown.

Absent from Patterson’s screed was mention of coal miners who risk life and limb to make a grimy-faced living deep underground, where most folks would fear to tread, or other workers who take it a day at a time but make their lives work. Most egregiously, he didn’t mention the 45 GIs from Kentucky who have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is what the world should see in Kentucky, the graves of those who in just recent years have gone beyond the superficial level of entertaining or the practical level of just making a living to put their lives on the line for people like Patterson, who is enamored of celebrity but apparently devoid of the ability to discern what’s important and who makes it that way.

After a few paragraphs of this incidental and totally unimportant fluff, Patterson got to the meat of his column…quote: When a college in Kentucky expels a student merely for being gay, the message sent to the nation is narrow-minded intolerance for any person who is not a straight, white, conservative, Christian-right, Republican-voting American. It’s easy to see from where Patterson has slunk (under some rock) – using the hate-speech route he employs magnificently – to where he is going, namely, to the socio-political minefield he thinks he has laid out for those he hates, the straight, white, conservative, Christian-right, Republican-voting Americans. He didn’t bother with tact…he just attacked straight-on like the generic brand of buffoon who paints with a brush wide enough to exclude most everyone from being tagged as human beings…except himself, of course, perhaps a homosexual, liberal, atheistic, Green-oriented, non-voting person of color, who is what? Certainly not an American, since he has outlawed them and identified himself as none of the above!

Patterson refers to the fact that a homosexual attending the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., a Baptist school where, as stated in its student-handbook, homosexual behavior is not tolerated and can lead to expulsion, outed himself on two Web-sites on one or both of which were pictures of young men kissing each other and a description of his “dating life.” The young man had already suggested on the Web that he would likely be transferring, but by his action gained the 15 minutes of fame that eventuated in media opportunities as far away as New York, where he could spread the “darkness” of his benighted state, stuck as it was in the throes of virtual barbarism, Neanderthal-mentality, nihilism, and most any other vile ism.

Patterson probably hates the entire military, too, since homosexuals, when they are outed, either by themselves or in some other way, are discharged immediately. This means he considers the leaders, from the president as the commander-in-chief right on down through the Department of Defense and each service to the lowest ranks as straight, white, conservative, Christian-right, Republican-voting Americans, and therefore insufferable bigots who make the whole nation, especially including Kentucky, into one mass of homophobio/religio/racists To Patterson, apparently, sexual perversion ought to be a drawing card for the state. Where the Herald-Leader scrounges up these “reality-challenged” purveyors of non-thought is a mystery.

Patterson continues: When I spent a semester studying in England, the only reference that most Londoners had for this state was Kentucky Fried Chicken. Many thought of us as eating nothing but KFC. Is that supposed to prove something? Is he trying to say that Londoners are so dumb that they can’t read geography books…or that they don’t give a fig about Kentucky, which is the way most Kentuckians probably feel about London? Perhaps. Laughable!

In explaining how to make Kentucky appear great, Patterson had this to say: I did so by educating them on famous Kentuckians such as Muhammad Ali, who is the most recognizable public figure in the world… . The most recognized public figure in the world? Egad! Kentucky is to be judged on the basis of a resident who made his living literally trying to beat out other people’s brains? That’s what boxing is all about – the destruction of man’s main organ, the brain, that differentiates him from the beast and turns him into a bloody pulp. If he dies in the process…so what! That which is called murder out in the alley is called sport in the ring…and this is what Patterson says should point folks to Kentucky. The Herald-Leader is known for its celebration of this kind of garbage as well as its putdown of straight, white, conservative, Christian-right, Republican-voting Americans. More’s the pity.

So…Patterson thinks the winner of a beauty contest is the most notable news lately in Kentucky. Rubbish! The most notable news lately has to do with the nine Kentuckians killed in the war on terror in April and May, one of them, Sgt. Robert Ehney, buried just the other day in Lexington. One could hope that people with some common sense can see why Kentucky is a good place, not least among the reasons being those 45 graves, monuments to greatness. Patterson should get a life. Better…he should slink back under the rock, mouthing his hate speech as he crawls among his own.

And so it goes

Jim Clark

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Libya Connection

Diplomatic relations have been reestablished between this country and Libya. This is due in large part to the fact that Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi [other possible spellings], who has run the country since 1969 (military coup…what else?), decided to throw in the towel in 2003 vis-à-vis the race for nuclear weapons, probably having seen what was happening in Iraq and deciding it would be better to join the USA than fight it. Also, the Libyan government in 2003 finally got around to paying the survivors of those killed in the crash in Scotland of PanAm #103 in 1988 (triggered by terrorist operatives from Libya), thus making instant multimillionaires out of them. Gaddafi’s government also agreed in 2003 to pay compensation to the survivors of those killed in a flight over Niger in 1989 as the result of the work of Libyan agents.

The move is a wise one for this country, strategically and economically. According to Mbendi, a South African news organization located in Capetown, Libya has proven reserves of 29.5 billion barrels of oil and a production capacity of 1.4 million barrels per day. Italy, Germany, Spain and France account for 74% of Libya’s exports. Libya also has the problem of needing new technology to get its oil out of the ground – technology already used in this country. The Libyan economy is based on oil, the manipulation of which accounts for 75-90 percent of its state revenues. Particularly at this time of highway robbery in the oil market, allowing U.S. corporations to enter the country and do what’s necessary, thereby helping both countries immensely, makes good sense, especially since the eco-freaks in this country delay every homegrown opportunity to produce more oil by scaring the bejabbers out of the population (and a constantly freaked-out Congress) with the scare tactics associated with “killing the world.”

In addition to the oil factor, there is the matter of friendly terms with a nation situated perfectly vis-à-vis national security for both this country and Libya. Located directly across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy and about halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Suez Canal, Tripoli, the Libyan capital, is the ideal calling station for U.S. Naval ships. Other Libyan seaports could also be an important factor. In time, there may be an opportunity, if deemed important enough, for establishing air bases, though Gaddafi probably thinks most days about the time President Reagan had his palace bombed with the intention of getting rid of the man. This was in answer to various terrorist activities carried out by Gaddafi, and in particular for an attack by Libyan planes on American naval forces in international waters in 1981. There were other attacks by Libya on American forces, as well…sort of like the “Barbary pirates” affair that was short-circuited by President Jefferson in 1803-05, when he raised a navy that tore up the pirates’ dollhouse and prepared an army that was ready also to invade North Africa with troops.

This is also important with regard to the other nations in the Mediterranean/Middle East area that are watching Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. These include the other North African nations, such as Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco, as well as Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon, all within striking distance of Iran, an announced nuclear wannabe and whose president has vowed to erase Israel entirely. Could anyone believe this madman would actually stop with Israel? Saudi Arabia finances terrorism routinely and Syria probably is in possession of Saddam’s WMD. Libya abuts Sudan, where the extremist Muslim government there has been participating in genocide in South-Sudan and the Darfur region for years. So…whether their governments express it or not, the people in these countries – Moslems all, at least nearly – should be happy to see a stabilizing presence like the United States in their pond. They will express their hatred of this country openly (as all good Moslems must do), but be thankful inwardly. They will also look at what’s happened in Afghanistan and Iraq and realize that “holy war” will be answered with hellish results produced by a nation in which life is considered sacred and the slaughtering of innocents intolerable.

Sadly, this reestablishment had hardly been announced on the 15th before NPR had located someone (probably one of the new millionaires) affected by the Lockerbie, Scotland, crash to appear on its All Things Considered late-afternoon news program to vent his rage nearly 18 years after the fact because Gaddafi hadn’t formally apologized for the crash, as if that would change anything. This bit of media-foolishness has been in operation with respect to the survivors (many of them also instant millionaires, courtesy of the U.S. government) of the 9/11 victims every time that subject has been broached, such as about every day during the Moussaoui hearings recently concluded. Much, if not most, of the time, they vent against the administration for allowing 9/11 to happen, notwithstanding the fact that Bush had been in office less than nine months and that the Attorney General’s office during the Clinton administration had effectively gutted any connection the FBI might have had with the CIA, thus perhaps leading to the culprits before the fact.

This is not to say that these folks are not entitled to their outrage…they certainly are. But, everyone has to move on, and the constant carping, especially in light of this government’s determined stand to set things as right as possible, has now become unseemly. Almost as many Americans have been killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq actions as were killed on 9/11, but there isn’t a constant stream of their survivors paraded on camera and/or in print every day to exhibit outrage. They are seen, certainly, but nearly always as supportive of the country, even though their lost ones died as a result of choice to serve and take risk rather than by accident, i.e., simply being in the right place at the wrong time.

It is to be hoped that the constant whining and caterwauling by a media that is openly and consistently hostile to the administration will be accorded the heed it deserves – none. All the propagandists in both the media and the democrat party should be put on notice that the nation’s security comes first, even at some sacrifice. Actually, this notice has been given, the polls showing that two-thirds of the population approves of the latest-exposed surveillance plans put in operation in 2001 and that 51% approve of the president’s overall handling of terrorist surveillance. Even Congress realized this in its renewing of the Patriot Act a few months ago. Notwithstanding all the grandstanding that may take place over the Libya connection, let the nation move on and profit from that link to a former enemy.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark.

Friday, May 12, 2006

General Hayden and the CIA

There’s been the usual brouhaha in Washington since the nomination by the president of General Michael Hayden to be the CIA director – the reason: (gasp) Hayden is in the military. Notwithstanding the fact that six of the 19 CIA directors who have served since the establishment of the agency in 1946 have been members of the military, the oohs and aahs by democrats in the main but some republicans, as well, have been occasioned by the thinking that the CIA is a civilian agency and should not be run by a military person. Carrying this logic further, one might conclude that the Department of Defense is a military agency and should not be run by a civilian, but it is always headed by a civilian, Donald Rumsfeld currently, and the thought that the DoD would ever be run by a GI is…well, unthinkable. So…go figure. Obviously, if it’s okay for a civilian to run the DoD, it’s just as okay for the CIA to be run by a military person…probably better that way, since the two agencies are entwined strategically in the matter of protecting the country.

Hayden comes with credentials that could hardly be equaled, much less surpassed by anyone in the nation, in or out of government. Even though his military career in the Air Force has been in the field of intelligence, he has functioned in the civilian side, as well. Indeed, he has served as the director of the National Security Agency, one of the most important jobs, civilian or otherwise, in the nation. Ironically, when he was nominated last year for the job of Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, he was introduced to the Intelligence Committee in the Senate by Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski, a member of the committee then and now. This is a part of a press release from the senator’s office of 14 April 2005:

“General Hayden’s most impressive accomplishment is his leadership of NSA at a critical time in the Agency’s history. His tenure there has been transformational. He inherited an agency that needed to be changed: from analogue to digital and from Cold War orientation to looking at multiple threats, and that change needed to happen at breathtaking speed. General Hayden led NSA through serious technological crisis in 2000, he streamlined the organization and made it more responsive, he looked for the best people and the best ideas while recognizing the value of his employees and turning to private sector when necessary to get cutting edge technology.

“At the NSA, General Hayden has adapted strategy to keep pace with rapid advances in global communications, demystified the Agency without declassifying activities, provided a more public face for NSA mission and built support among American people. Members of this committee are well aware of the historic accomplishments of NSA and the future challenges the agency must confront, including: exploding volume of global communication and increasing sophistication of our enemies’ ability to deny us information.”

These two paragraphs are only part of a description by Mikulski that made Hayden practically an oracle in the intelligence community. She ran down a list of his achievements in postings/operations throughout this country and the world that gave notice of a person eminently well qualified to head any intelligence operation. She ended the press release with this sentence: “I heartily endorse the nomination of Lt. Gen. Hayden as Principal Deputy DNI.” Therein may lie the rub. Mikulski is doubtlessly caught on the horns of a dilemma. As a democrat member of the Intelligence Committee, headed by Republican Pat Roberts, with Democrat Jay Rockefeller as ranking member for the democrats, she must make up her mind if what she said a year ago still stands. She sits with democrats Carl Levin, who can be expected to be against anyone nominated by the president; Diane Feinstein, no friend of the administration; and pit bull Russ Feingold, whose most recent claim to fame was his silly attempt to get the Senate to censure the president. Some senators on the Judiciary Committee didn’t even show up for the hearing on the censure resolution…the rest, except Chairman Specter and to a lesser extent Vice Chairman Leahy, stayed only the few minutes necessary to get in on the act.

Feingold’s latest gripe has to do with the “foreign-end wiretap-program” that was largely engineered by Hayden while he was at NSA and explained to the ranking members of the Senate and House committees on intelligence, as the program progressed…without any exceptions taken to it at any time. This quote appeared in a release from Feingold’s office earlier this year: “The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law and then misleading the country about its existence and its legality. The President’s actions, as well as his misleading statements to both Congress and the public about the program, demand a serious response. If Congress does not censure the President, we will be tacitly condoning his actions, and undermining both the separation of powers and the rule of law.” Since Rockefeller was in on those briefings, one wonders if Feingold thinks the ranking member’s elevator doesn’t reach the top floor. Ah…well, Feingold and Feinstein also sit on the Judiciary Committee and recently watched as they and their democrat colleagues failed to stop either John Roberts or Sam Alito being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The hearings on the Hayden nomination should be interesting, not least because the wiretapping issue was front and center in the hearings regarding Alito earlier this year. The program was probed to death at that time, though its detractors constantly rail that it’s somehow illegal. Actually, it’s an “inside the beltway issue,” anyway. Most Americans, if they’re aware of this effort, in the first place, seem to give it little thought, realizing that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear…even if a mistake is made. So far, no one has stepped forward to allege such mistake, though the program has been in place for some time. As the architect of this new method of surveillance, critical now when time is a vital issue militating against the red tape required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in monitoring calls suspected to involve vital information relative to public saftety, Hayden is the ideal choice to head the CIA.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Yet Another Attack by Herald-Leader on UC

The Lexington Herald-Leader renewed its attack upon the University of the Cumberlands in its issue of 07 May, featuring another condemnatory “news” article on the front page above the fold, with headlines designed to draw attention to “reporter” Frank Lockwood’s latest diatribe against the school, located in Williamsburg, Ky. UC administrators expelled student Jason Johnson in early April after Johnson had “outed” himself on two Web sites as a homosexual, presenting pictures of men kissing each other and even describing his “dating life,” or some such thing. Apparently, he had already decided to transfer to another school and may not have figured that UC would expel him so near the end of the school-year.

Homosexual behavior is prohibited at the school, along with other behaviors such as drinking, fornication, etc. Johnson knew this, of course, so his “outing” of himself served a purpose perhaps known only to himself, though it opened the opportunity for that “15 minutes of fame” thing. The account was carried by newspapers and TV throughout the country. The school receives some of its funding from the Kentucky Baptist Convention and holds to traditional Baptist beliefs, makes no apologies for its stands, and has not backed away from its position in the Johnson matter, though it allowed him to send in the course work necessary for him to receive credit for his studies.

On seven out of nine consecutive days during a period in April, the paper placed accounts relating to the school on the front page above the fold with huge headlines accompanied by reams of space on both the front page and inside the “A” section, along with huge pictures. It also provided free advertising in its “news” section of a “protest rally” to be held 19 April near the school’s campus and drawing people from throughout the state, supposedly to make the issue an operation of practically unparalleled protest-grandness. Indeed, Williamsburg officials were so concerned that they called in law-enforcement elements from the surrounding area in preparation for what was feared to be an unruly anxious-to-be-arrested group of dissidents. The rally fizzled completely, and it seemed that there was about one officer for each protestor.

The initial thrust of the Lockwood hatchet-piece had to do with the fact that the school actually takes charge of its student publication, thus allowing young minds to do the writing and older minds to do the editing and furnishing the judgment of what will and will not see print. The paper is owned by the school, of course, is a learning activity, and is subject to the regulation of the proper school officials. The students do not own the paper, just as they do not own the classrooms or any other equipment furnished by the school and operated by the proper staff/faculty. They participate in the journalistic activity as learners, not teachers. Part of the learning process has to do with encouraging thought and incentives by students, but tempering everything with maturity and experience furnished by professors/administrators, such things also observed by the students.

Lockwood brings in the usual suspect organization expected to criticize the school, the American Association of University Professors, which last year described a "climate of fear" among faculty. According to Lockwood, AAUP investigators said professors appear to "enjoy academic freedom in their classes in teaching their subjects" but that faculty members "do not feel free to address topics of college concern in any forum." Therein lies the gripe. The school expects excellence on the part of teachers in the classroom, but expects education and not campus politics to disrupt the process of learning. This would be a good rule at any school. By extension, of course, the students are also not expected to run the school. The AAUP became involved at the request of a professor who had resigned after it was discovered he had established a Web site unrelated to the school but used as a vehicle for criticizing the school. In the fallout, two professors were actually involved and the AAUP, which has no connection with the school, attempted unsuccessfully to represent them. The entire report is available on the Internet.

The newspaper may be rankled because UC President Jim Taylor apparently doesn’t care a fig about what it thinks…or what anybody else or most institutions think. Lockwood and his employer should realize that UC is a Baptist-related school and as such is quite different from state institutions. Chapel attendance is compulsory at UC, whether the student likes it or not. The education effort is couched within the framework of faith, and there are rules to be obeyed, even to the matters of dress and hair-style. Dorm-rooms are susceptible to examination at any time and there are strict rules concerning behavior in the dorms. The newspaper sees this as another damnable “diversity issue,” but apparently can’t understand the difference between public and private institutions.

Even with regard to governmental institutions, the case precipitating this latest H-L attack is a case in point with respect to the military and homosexual behavior. Here is a DOD document from 1998: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) April 1998: On February 28, 1994, after extensive hearings in Congress, the enactment of a federal statute, and coordination with Congressional Oversight Committees, the Department of Defense instituted its current policy on homosexual conduct in the military. As required by the federal statute (10 U.S.C. § 654), the DoD policy provides that engaging in homosexual conduct is grounds for discharge from the military. Congress expressly found that service by those who have a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct creates an unacceptable risk to morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion, and that the long-standing prohibition of homosexual conduct therefore continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service. The reasons given for foreclosing homosexual behavior in the military apply at UC, with the added reason that such behavior is expressly and stringently condemned in the Holy Bible.

According to Lockwood, one-third of the freshman class leaves the school at the end of that first year. Obviously, the two-thirds who remain know precisely what to expect. Since both they and the administrators/staff/teachers know precisely what to expect, they can count on being on the same page. This gives a no-nonsense cohesion to the educational process that makes it superior to that which obtains at many, if not most, schools namely, that rules and regulations mean something, that there’s a premium to be placed on morality, and that the faith is important. People who can’t live with that are invited to go elsewhere. Actually, Lockwood’s article probably is the best advertising the school could possibly hope for.

As for placing UC on the front page in order to castigate and ridicule it yet again, worth noticing is the fact that the main front-page-above-the-fold story occupying the 04 issue of the Herald-Leader was an inordinately important account regarding the juicy pickup in business for strippers during Derby Week in Louisville…complete with a huge cheesecake picture of two almost-clothed entrepreneurs. Now, THAT’S NEWS! Perhaps the editors at the paper need some professionals to look over their shoulders and do a bit of censoring. That kind of stuff might be expected from a staff made up of high school sophomore boys.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Darfur & the Europeans (Wimps?)

The USA is the country the rest of the world loves to hate. While it’s busy ridding the world of butchers like Saddam and bin Laden, there’s little doubt that all the UN delegates are blaming the good ol’ USA for not “doing something” about Darfur. Without question, the Muslim-controlled government of Sudan is perpetrating genocide on those in the Darfur region just as it did against the southern Sudanese, mostly Christians and animists, a few years ago. This is another example of why the civilized people in this world must band together and neutralize any government anywhere that is controlled by the maniacal imams and their “super-religious” henchmen, known euphemistically as government officials.

There’s a catch. As much as the leaders in this country, as well as many of its citizens, want to “do something” about Darfur, the USA is already “doing something” to neutralize the Islamic insanity that drives these efforts at genocide. It’s putting its military in harm’s way every day, as it has since October 2001, in an effort to stop the butchers, while other members of the UN, gliding along and watching the show, are sitting on their big, fat behinds and patting themselves on their respective fat backs for having the good sense not to get into the fight. In other words, the UN is made up mostly of wimps whose self-interest is their only interest.

And the wimpishness has to stop. This country, with troops serving second and third tours overseas, is stretched too far already. It, along with Britain, has done more than its share. If the EU countries, especially Germany and France, had had the guts back in 2001 and later in 2003 to join the effort to take out the Islamic madmen, things would be much different today. Instead, France, for instance, was actually breaking the sanctions against Iraq and doing business with the evil Saddam. Kofi Annan’s outfit at the UN, including his son, was on the take…maybe he was in on the action, too. Who knows? There’s nothing like a juicy kickback to help one make decisions. But the chickens have come home to roost.

How serious are the leaders of countries such as Germany and France, the Old World countries whose people consider themselves the most civilized in the world? Are they ready to put their money where their usually open mouths are? They’d better be ready because the Islamic madmen have their eyes on Old Europe, and, indeed, those countries become more Muslim every day. In fact, they are apt to cower the general populations on most any day, as has been proven recently especially in France by the riots.

Germany has 284,500 active troops. France has some 259,000 active troops. Together, these countries are capable of putting over half a million troops into action any time they see fit, though they will caterwaul about being unable to “do something” until the UN decides what to do. This will happen roughly…never. Not like the old days when they had to police their colonies, these countries don’t need many of their troops anywhere but at home. So…why not “do something” about Darfur, using the troops already trained to go there, kick the Islamic butchers back into their caves, and set the people free?

Is there precedent for this? Indeed there is. When the UN wouldn’t go along in ridding the world of Saddam, leaving that entirely to the Americans and Brits and a handful of other nations with contingents too small to be of much significance (no matter how earnest), this country and its coalition partners took on the job on their own. So…the Germans and the French and the rest of the Europeans – who have decided they can get along very well together, even using the same money – can now take advantage of the opportunity presented by their togetherness to “do something” about Darfur, and in the bargain “do something” for the whole world, namely get rid of another bunch of governmental thugs.

They can do this with a minimum of expense, especially when considered in light of the tremendous financial outlays made by this country in behalf of making the world a lot safer. Whereas this country has had to send its military nearly halfway around the world to make the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, Europe only has to cross the Mediterranean and Libya to get to Darfur and make the fight anywhere in Sudan. With their sophisticated weaponry and technology, they could and would sweep the Sudanese murderers away with hardly any threat to their own forces. Sudan has 104,800 active troops. Throw in most of the 53,000 troops from the Netherlands, 194,000 from Italy and 150,700 from Spain. These form the number of active troops those countries boast. So, counting the French and Germans, there are well over 900,000 active troops available in just those five European countries. Surely the Europeans could come up with half that number, 450,000 or so, to take on the small Sudanese army,

primitive by comparison.

What’s so hard about this scenario? Nothing. All it needs to make it work are some hardheaded leaders in Europe who actually care enough. One would think that the knowledge of Adolf Hitler and the Germans causing the deaths of 11,000,000 civilians – ordinary people – before and during World War II would be enough to remind Europe that civilized people can and should exercise their civility in order to help the most vulnerable. Will they do it? Not likely. Don’t bet the farm. They’ll caterwaul that the USA isn’t “doing something,” and then they’ll return to their TV sets. From this corner comes the hope that this will not be the case and the hope of being proven wrong.

Some might wonder why fellow UN suspects Russia (1,212,700 active troops), and China (2,255,000 active troops) are not included in the effort to “do something” in Sudan/Darfur. And then, there’s North Korea with 1,106,000 troops for grand total of 4,573,700 military guys to bring peace to Darfur…from communist countries. Bit of a problem with this: Since there’s oil in Sudan, the leaders of these communist nations, by definition, could collude to simply take over all of Sudan or choose up sides and fight it out to get that oil. Either way, the message for the rest of the world would not be good.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, May 01, 2006

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse?

There’s a certain sadness connected to how one views the work of the people he helps elect to the legislature, whether on the local, state, or national level. The legislature and governor have just finished their biennial 3-month session, and already the governor is planning for a special, expensive session to take up small-business matters that should have been easily handled in the regular session just ended. The biennial short-session will be conducted next January, so why not simply wait until then? Well…only one month is not enough to handle just the rhetoric and regional bickering that necessarily accompany a session, let alone actually handle a matter of importance.

One is reminded of the failure of subsequent legislatures to straighten out the mess of mid-90s legislatures that, with the collusion of governors, managed to run all but one of the health insurance companies out of the state. There was the famous (or infamous) special session called just before Christmas a few years ago when the legislators met and made speeches to each other for a couple of weeks or so, collected their Christmas present from the governor (pay and per diem and anything else not nailed down), and departed to buy gifts with their ill-gotten gain while lots of fellow citizens still didn’t have health insurance and lots more worried about heating their houses.

Last year, the Muhammad Ali Center, a $54 million facility designed to glorify the boxer – indeed, to beatify the man, at least in Islamic terms, was dedicated in Louisville. The state of Kentucky, using taxpayer funds, ponied-up $10 million for the project, state officials, elected and otherwise, thus establishing their approval of Ali as a far-greater-than-life personage who supposedly has brought inordinate respect to the state, known by some wags as the land of beautiful horses and fast women, perhaps not too inaccurate a hedonistic description, considering its coupling with this garish Louisville monstrosity honoring a man who made his living by attempting to turn other men’s brains into jelly through administering to them great pain.

State funds: $10,000,000! How much in health resources could that amount buy? Ali’s family just sold 80% of the swag to be made off of his name for a paltry $5 million to a company specializing in exploiting celebrity. In 2004, in the city-budget of Louisville was an expenditure of $80,000 to be used in creating a statue of Ali, whose name also appears on what used to be historic Walnut Street but now is Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The people’s money wasted by officials duly elected to do the business of governing…disgusting!

The governor and legislature combined this year to manage a waste of some $75 million for helping to build a new gymnasium in Louisville, notwithstanding the fact that Freedom Hall is in perfectly good shape and seats well over 19,000 people for basketball games. Rupp Arena in Lexington seats about 23,000, so what’s the big deal? At the University of Kentucky, a new practice gym at about $30 million and said to be built only with private funds, has been finished, thereby taking up a lot of parking spaces on a campus where the parking situation is critical. Thirty- million in private funds? Does that include UK athletic department funds that might have been spent on academic enterprises that will help ALL students instead of a handful who can run fast or jump high?

In the midst of this wastefulness, the legislature, though the budget was ready for action in plenty of time to override any line-item-veto by the governor, chose to act only when there would not be sufficient time to do so. After all, this IS an election year. So…the governor was left to work his will and he made some substantial cuts, some guaranteed to cause fury, such as at the University of Louisville, where academic concerns – not that gym – were of great importance. Much needed funds for improving the dams on the Kentucky River and thereby easing the water-shortage problems in times of drought for places such as Lexington, with its population of 280,000 or so, were vetoed by the governor. It was okay to throw away $75 million in Louisville, where there’s plenty of water in the Ohio River, but not okay to spend some $15 million where it is drastically needed. Go figure. The beauty of it all for the legislature was that it left the governor swinging in the wind, and has to take no blame for the pet pork that got dropped. Only…some of it was not pork.

Wimps…that’s about as good a term as any for legislators who either have self-interest at heart or simply lack the courage to stand for making correct common-sense judgments.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark