Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The "Vision Thing" - Please!

Republican Representative Brandon Smith has lost no time in laying down the gauntlet to his opponents in the race to determine who will be the nominee for State Treasurer. Dated 31 January, a letter has been sent from him to his collective opposition, Melinda Wheeler, lately of the Administrative Office of the Courts, and fellow Representatives Ken Upchurch and Lonnie Napier. Smith challenges his opponents to a debate in each congressional district and asks for an answer by noon on 01 February, or less than 24 hours after sending his letter. That seems a bit swift with regard to campaign schedules, finances, the establishing of positions, and the inevitable spin-exercises, but so be it.

There’s no preference at this time in this corner among the four. Smith makes the usual reference to an “honest, dignified, and respectful campaign that will focus on the issues critical to the future prosperity of Kentucky.” Sounds like the usual boilerplate, but that’s not unexpected. In the press release accompanying the letter, Smith says, “I have laid out a vision that includes a Kentucky Military Relief Fund, a financial management program, and a continuing education program for military personnel.”

One wonders why politicians are constantly talking about a “vision” when it would seem much more realistic to talk about a “program.” Maybe it’s because a vision is considered some vague thing that if not accomplished (preferably not even recognized) never was actually presented in the first place. Maybe Smith hasn’t made up his mind as to exactly what the vision is, but has made up his mind that an emphasis on benefits to the military is good campaign material and just right for a quick start. That’s not to say he isn’t vitally interested in the subject, just that he’s grabbing that approach before anyone else does.

Smith says, “I will be traveling the state over the next 100 days telling the voters about myself and my vision.” One yearns for something different from the past with regard to campaigns. The “vision” thing gets old after a while. Some talk about dreams. This is not a dream-world. Ah well…at least Smith didn’t mention waste and fraud. Neither he nor anyone else is about to cope with those things. They’ll be around as long as Frankfort is around. In the meantime, one hopes that Smith does not have a vision while he’s driving around in the next 100 days. That could be hazardous.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hillary's Iowa Village

It’s no coincidence, surely, that the book It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton has recently been reissued. The notoriety connected to her presidential candidacy guarantees further revenue from sale of the book, both for Ms. Clinton and the publisher. Its reissue should have republicans salivating, since the obvious inference to be drawn from the book is that the village (otherwise known as the state) should be primary in the rearing of children. This was the philosophy in the Soviet Union, as children were removed from their families and reared by the state. The result is obvious – a broken system populated and governed in large part by drunks.

Ms. Clinton revealed in Iowa over the weekend in the usual pandering by politicians to the population of that “caucus state” another attribute that will be interesting to watch. The commonly recognized term for this characteristic is “passing the buck.” This is in character for the writer of It Takes a Village, since it connotes the demand by the state of the parent – and surely any reasonable parent’s assent – to “pass the buck” with regard to child-raising…just let the state do that job.

In Davenport, Ms. Clinton had this to say: "This was his [Bush 43’s] decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy." She explained that he “took the authority that I and others gave him and he misused it, and I regret that deeply.” Hello!!! It may be that the lady was so intent on looking as masculine as possible in her pants-suit (was it yellow?) that she didn’t realize what she was saying, to wit, that she used the same information that the president had in casting her vote to give him the power to do anything he pleased.

So…it turns out that Ms. Clinton (the title Senator is not used since she will not be doing much senatoring in the near future as she concentrates on those inane town-meetings in Iowa and other places) in passing the buck to the president has actually passed it to herself, either never realizing that or figuring that Iowa’s “hawkeyes” would be too dumb to pick up on what she actually said…just like any hawk, recommending operating on instinct alone in destroying whatever it sees as necessary. It remains to be seen as to just who turns out to be dumb, the Iowans or the lady who bought New York fair and square and sight unseen, since she never had lived there.

It wasn’t reported that Ms. Clinton stamped her foot when she said this in the village of Davenport: "The president has said this is going to be left to his successor … I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it … and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office." SO THERE, George Bush…REALLY! Ms. Clinton bids fair to become the current version of Viet Jane Fonda, though she obviously lacks the “femme fatale” persona to grab the same amount of attention. On her recent foray into Iraq to assume the proper bona fides as a war-expert, Ms. Clinton perhaps should have gone to Shiite badman Moqtada al-Sadr and borrowed an armored camel for a ride through Baghdad. Egad!

Of course, Ms. Clinton does have a certain expertise in desert survival, gained in her 1999 trek through North Africa during which she camped out in the Moroccan desert with only her press corps, the porta-johns, a few hair-dressers, some portable showers, heavy-duty-tents/air-conditioners and the usual cadre of unhappy secret-service guys, most of them munching on dried dates while being spit-on by equally unhappy camels…all on the government dime as a parting shot at the White House. Did she actually make 75 or so foreign sashays during those eight years that hubby couldn’t catch bin Laden? Maybe she just can’t wait until Air Force One, complete with beauty salon, will be available again.

So…back to the village. One remembers the huge chart Senator Specter exhibited back about 1993 depicting the health-care plan wrought by Ms. Clinton and Ira Magaziner, with all those bureaucracies, agencies, institutions, forms, etc., taking the whole poster…with the patient in the bottom right-hand corner. THE VILLAGE! In his regular toe-to-toe with his detractors in Parliament the other day (one of the best shows on C-Span), Brit Prime Minister Blair answered a complaint that 15,000 people had been waiting six months or so for their surgeries (or whatever) by remarking that a few years ago the number was 300,000. This is the village in action.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, January 26, 2007

European Copouts - the Cost

Regardless of what happens in Iraq in the next few months, the effort there will have been worth it. The president’s plan for a “resurgence” may or may not work, but the marker has been made distinct to the world that this country – at least under current leadership – has both the will and the resources to not only protect itself locally (no terrorist attacks since 9/11), but to aggressively fight Islamic terrorism worldwide in order to keep its evil practitioners at bay. Ancillary to its success is the protection of the citizens/governments of other countries who/that are too cowardly (olde Europe, except Britain, for instance) or too lacking in resources to make the fight.

There will be a day of reckoning, and those who have refused to make the fight and share the loss of both blood and treasure may wish they had been pragmatic instead of self-serving. The consensus of the most highly developed intelligence services in the world determined that Saddam had WMD in 2002. In this corner, it is believed he moved the stuff out in the winter of 2002-03, probably to Syria. The developed nations had every reason to join in a coalition with Bush 43 to eradicate Saddam, just as they did in conjunction with both the UN and Bush 41 in 2001 to drive the butcher from Kuwait, from where he would have attacked the entire Arabian Peninsula – principally Saudi Arabia – and cornered the world’s oil market if not stopped.

The European nations may have thought they were too close to the Middle East Islamic cutthroats to take a chance on retaliation, but they would have been wise to join the USA and Britain in the Iraqi effort for that very reason – to keep terrorists at bay, no matter where they are, especially if they’re in the neighborhood. France, with an active troop-strength of 255,000 and slightly smaller than Texas, lies just across the Mediterranean Sea from Algeria (about 400-500 miles), with an active troop strength of 137,500. Already 10% Muslim, French whites’ birthrate can’t sustain whiteness while the Muslims easily out-breed them and are gradually taking over the country, constant rioting being another tool of choice – terrorism.

The government-mandated religion in Algeria is Sunni Muslim and 99% of Algerians are Sunnis, so the potential problem for France is horrendous, from both within the country and just across the pond. This being the case, the French, when push comes to shove – as it surely will – will look to the United States for help (claiming the best interests of the USA, of course), but may find that this government feels it owes them nothing – absolutely not a replay of World Wars I and II.

Spain, slightly larger than California, baled from Iraq after one bombing that involved only a fraction of the innocents killed in this country on 9/11. Apparently the Spanish have forgotten that the Muslims (Moors) conquered Spain in the mid-700s and were not completely driven out until 1492. The government of Morocco – just eight miles across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain – is officially Muslim (as well as 99% of the population) and boasts an active troop-strength of 200,800, compared to that of Spain, just over 147,000. If the Islamic terrorists succeed through fomenting their terrorism in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East, the terrorists in North Africa – Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, all officially Muslim by governmental fiat – will be emboldened to work their will across the Mediterranean.

Italy (slightly smaller than Montana), for instance, is only some 500 miles across the Mediterranean from Libya, though Sicily and Sardinia, also part of Italy, are less then 200 miles from Tunisia. Italy’s active-troop strength of 192,000 is 2.5 times that of Libya, but if Libya is joined by its neighbor, Tunisia (another 35,300 troops), as well as the huge forces of Algeria and Morocco, the war that could be waged between Italy and its southern neighbors across the pond would be horrific, especially since Islamic fanatics have no regard for human life and consider terrorism, the killing of women and children, as just part of the plan.

Germany, four percent Muslim now and owning a German birthrate under Germanic sustainability, would have done well to help in Iraq with its active-troop strength of 284,500, since once a Muslim takeover were to begin, Europe would be embroiled in a bloodbath of immense proportions. By the actions (actually inactions) of “Olde Europe” with regard to its minimal help in Afghanistan and virtually no help in Iraq, the Islamic butchers can be reasonably certain that the united States is all that stands between them and world domination, their well-documented goal.

The catch: America – especially under a democrat administration – would not be willing to pay any more blood and treasure, preferring to use its superior technology in warding the butchers off American soil (including nuclear of all kinds), preferring homeland defense to preemptive operations. In other words, the Europeans can eat cake. Hopefully, this will never happen, but the scenario is far from unrealistic.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Candidates Enhance Global Warming

With the recent entry in the presidential-2008-sweepstakes of Senators Obama, Clinton, Dodd, and Brownback, as well as Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the wannabe-lottery, already huge, has become a vast array of speechify/campaign-mongers fit to affect every facet of life on the planet. Senator Kerry has threatened to make the run again and has even campaigned in Syria recently, along with Senator Dodd, apparently hoping to influence the Muslim-vote in this country.

It’s being strongly rumored that former veep Al Gore is “exploring” (don’t they all?) the possibility of a run, and this calls attention to the important matter of global warming, Internet-inventor Gore’s self-proclaimed area of expertise. The culprit in global warming is an elevated presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the experts, who may or may not have a clue, since global-freezing and -warming have been going on, again according to the experts, for mega-millennia in numbers untold.

Carbon dioxide is generated in significant amounts in public speaking. This makes the large number of candidates a potential threat to the planet, since the speeches over the next two years by the prez wannabes will number in the multi-thousands. Whereas campaigns once lasted a few months in the pre-1970s era, they now actually never stop – think Senators Biden and McCain, for instance, or John Edwards, who have been speechifying for years. This indubitably accounts for an upsurge in the CO2 factor in especially the last two years. One only has to watch Al Gore explode a speech to understand that the amount of CO2 in his presentation could likely wither trees – which absorb carbon dioxide – besides drowning the first row in warm spit.

In this area, some candidates could be less threatening than others. This is from Karger AG, the International Journal of Phoniatrics ©2004: The results of dynamic measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2, in %) in exhaled air during speech are presented. … It was determined that the average concentration of CO2 in exhaled air while stuttering was 1/5 lower than the concentration of CO2 registered during fluent speaking. Since maybe 50-60 percent of speech output is made up of carbon dioxide, the importance of this matter is obvious, especially since the campaign speech itself is relatively innocuous/inane/insane – sound bites and fawning and hopeless promises – and thus not itself worth all the expectorating of CO2, while being extremely dangerous to the atmosphere.

A candidate’s IQ doesn’t matter, since in the warm-fuzzy political haze of the day intellect is out and a huge EQ (emotion quota) is all that matters socially/politically. Love is IN these days. To determine a candidate’s worth relative to his respect for the atmosphere, and thus every living thing, however, one would do well, as per the conclusions of the experts, to check his SQ (speech quotient). Obviously, the campaigner who stutters a bit (Bush?) is 20% more ecologically acceptable, while the smooth-talking political pro – think Kerry or Edwards or Cheney – can be downright dangerous to society.

Then, there’s the matter of those campaign meals, most of them free-loaded and – yes – likely to cause (gasp) flatulence. Ironically, the flatulence is usually more sensible (okay, pungent) than the spoken words. “It is unclear whether carbon dioxide is a direct or indirect product of bacterial metabolism, but CO2 can account for up to 50%-60% of the gas in flatus,” according to Healthgate Update of December 2000. Of course, flammable gases are also present, so it is wise not to “light up” when in a gathering of politicians.

It may seem indelicate to mention this subject but history has numerous anecdotal accounts of flatulence, including Hippocrates himself professing, “Passing gas is necessary to well-being.” The Roman Emperor Claudius equally decreed that “all Roman citizens shall be allowed to pass gas whenever necessary.” Unfortunately for flatulent Romans, however, Emperor Constantine later reversed this decision in a 315 BC edict. (eMedicineHealth)

So…the candidates are playing fast and loose with the environment – with life itself – when they inflict themselves upon an unsuspecting atmosphere/audience after ingesting the usual pot-luck suspects and fast food. Most people favor the environment with between one and four pints of flatulence a day, according to the experts, but candidates in full campaign mode may present a threat of incalculable proportions. It may be that Emperor Constantine had discovered global warming in old Rome during the Senate season and made the connection 1700 years ago between it and the campaign-meals/speeches of the wannabes, thus his ban and perhaps the reason environmentalists should threaten candidate throats here with their famous chain-saws.

In any case, as the election season wears on and additional wannabes insist on polluting the atmosphere with ever increasing amounts of CO2, by 2008 there might not be a glacier left at either pole and the eastern seaboard may be halfway up the Appalachian Mountains.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tax-Delinquent Nickolas

The saga of Mark Nickolas – or The Foundation for Kentucky’s Future, Inc., Mark Nickolas, Chairman – is interesting not just because of Nickolas’s dereliction in paying state income taxes until caught, but in the amounts as well as the Nickolas identity. Are Nickolas and the organization he chairs the same, or are they different and does he take a salary? Since the delinquent check for 2003 exhibited payment by the organization, did Ben Chandler and Jody Richards employ Nickolas as campaign manager that year or did they employ his organization?

If Nickolas worked for both Chandler and Richards in their losing campaigns in 2003 and paid only $1,048 (presumably including interest and late-filing penalties) in state taxes, was he working for peanuts or did he simply have an exorbitant amount of itemized deductions? After all, he paid $5,309 (about five times as much) in delinquent taxes for the next year, 2004, when apparently he was not working for Chandler and Richards in campaigns. His income – or that of the organization – was in such lowered conditions in 2005, apparently, that he paid no taxes, so what happened? Is Nickolas destitute?

There’s nothing wrong with being destitute, especially in a failed operation, but Nickolas manages to keep his blog “” in operation, openly soliciting contributions, of course (52 as of Jan. 14, with a goal of 200). While the FKF is a non-profit endeavor, does it need a fulltime employee to keep it up to speed? Is Nickolas working at something else, and was he doing that in 2005, for which year he paid no taxes? What are the purposes and/or the services of The Foundation for Kentucky’s Future, Inc.? Is Nickolas a paid lobbyist or political consultant and, if so, how would that affect his tax status? If the FKF accepts donations, is it a federal 501-C(3) tax-exempt organization, or does it fit another category, perhaps because of its obvious political activity?

Undoubtedly, there are other questions about Nickolas and the FKF. Perhaps the Lexington Herald-Leader would find it interesting to take a look at both, notwithstanding their sharing of Nickolas’s opposition against Governor Fletcher and the administration in Frankfort.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Prez-Wannabes' Silly Season

When viewing the political scene, one longs for the days prior to the 70s when presidential candidates were chosen during the party conventions and not as the result of campaigns that literally wear out the voters for up to four years with both the propaganda and the foppery attendant upon the primary endeavors and lead-pipe-cinch candidate lock-ins created therein. The trade-offs in the “smoke-filled rooms” were far superior to the popularity contests generally won by those with the most money to throw away, whether or not they have walking-around sense or are free of moral turpitude.

Consider the latest entry into the presidential sweepstakes – Senator Dodd of Connecticut. Even though the first primary is a year away and the changing of the guard a full two years away, Dodd is not even the first democrat to officially announce, merely the fifth, with a host of others, apparently, soon to either install “exploratory committees” (same as announcing but offering a bit of titillation) or officially “offer” themselves for the good of the country.

Some candidates appear too silly to be seriously considered by just the way they pull off their announcement. Dodd has represented Connecticut in Congress for some 31 years, the last 26 in the Senate. So, one would expect the senator to announce his candidacy in Connecticut, also the state of his birth, or in Willimantic, where he was born, or in East Haddam, where he lives, or in Hartford, the state capital, or at his office in Washington. So…he announced his candidacy to be president on “Imus in the Morning,” a television variety program of sorts purveyed by MSNBC, arguably a propaganda arm of the Democrat Party (think of the frenetic Chris Matthews). Go figure. At least he indicated that he was jumping into the fray without benefit of an “exploratory committee,” his own man, in other words. Imus – the I-Man – is considered cool, so maybe Dodd thought this method would endear him to the hip, sophisticated crowd.

The announcement gimmick can be even hokier. Millionaire lawyer John Edwards, former North Carolina senator and veep candidate in 2004, managed to find (maybe rent) a backyard somewhere in New Orleans to officially announce his candidacy the other day. New Orleans? What possible connection has John Edwards ever had with New Orleans, except maybe a class-action suit of some kind? Born in South Carolina and raised in North Carolina and living in the Raleigh (North Carolina capital) area, Edwards made his sports-shirt announcement from the mud of New Orleans – a sort of back-handed slap at his own state. Does he think the great unwashed throughout the land can’t see through that insult to one’s intelligence…just plain silliness? All Edwards needed to make the announcement sillier would have been the presence of NO Mayor Ray Nagin, whose incompetence caused practically all of the Katrina disaster, the trigger for Edwards’ childish attempt to somehow make capital of FEMA…at least one supposes. Who knows?

"My intention is to seek the nomination," [Senator Joe] Biden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." That quote was made in June 2005. June 2005? “Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware on Sunday became the fourth Democrat to formally announce plans to run for president next year. ‘I am running for president,’ Mr. Biden said toward the end of an appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ [Jan. 7] on NBC.” This quote is from the New York Times of 08 January 2007. So, rather than make his announcement from either Washington or Delaware, which he has represented since 1972, or even from Scranton, PA, where he was born, Senator Biden formally announced on a TV show.

There was a time when a candidate called a press conference in some official-looking place such as a state-house to announce his intention to save the country, but TV and talk-radio have changed all that. Maybe it’s the ratings-thing. Politicians’ press-conferences for any reason surely rate among the highest opportunities for boredom in the communications industry and therefore the lowest in audience participation. Senator Obama was caught on TV the other day wearing a Chicago Bears cap, so it seems perfectly reasonable for him to announce his candidacy at half-time this weekend when Chicago meets the New Orleans Saints in yet another NFL playoff game. Senator Edwards may be there, wearing a Saints cap and pulling for the Mississippi River Mudcats. He certainly didn’t do anything to help the Carolina Panthers, who merely broke even for the season.

Yeah…one longs for the days when the prima donnas and their supporters fought it out in the convention hallways or the nearest bars, not with sound bites and chartered jets to keep them constantly rousting the voters years in advance. But, of course, that beats working and senatoring [sic] and representing, not to mention the free food and appearing at those inane “townhalls” and “breakfast bars” to be hugged and lionized as the best thing since chunks were put into peanut butter.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Black-hawk Up - Grounds for Impeachment?

A strange thing happened the other day on the way to Kenya for some Al Qaeda types who were running for their lives from Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, having been expelled from that headquarters of Islamic butchers connected with Osama bin Laden (or whoever is running the be-headers these days). They looked overhead (at least very briefly) only to discover U.S. helicopter/C-130-gunship activity in their area, whereupon several of them were gunned down and never got to see the lights of Nairobi, after all. Ah…yes…Nairobi, where they bombed the U.S. Embassy in August 1998 and killed 224 innocent people.

Or…except for their misfortune, they might have continued on south to Tanzania, where they bombed the U.S. Embassy in its capital, Dar es Salaam, on that same glorious day in 1998, and in the process of both acts of treachery killed some 257 ordinary citizens and injured another 4,000 in the name of Allah. It was a day that has gone down as just another Al Qaeda/Islamic bloodletting, sort of like the 9/11 affair in New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Real beauties, these martyrs headed for the 72 virgins.

Whoa there! Did this U.S. activity constitute a military engagement in another country without either a by-your-leave from Senator “Buddy” Biden of the Foreign Affairs Committee or Ban Ki Moon, head honcho of the United Nations installed just a few days ago? Could it possibly have been like the Nixon incursion in Cambodia back in April 1970 that incurred the wrath of the righteous? Nixon said nothing until the invasion was already in progress. He was trying to save American lives.

Of course, John Kerry said he was in Cambodia at Christmas in 1968, only to discover that he actually didn’t know where he was but that he certainly wasn’t in Cambodia. This is what Kerry said on the floor of the Senate in 1986: "I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me." None of this was true, of course, and even the Washington Post wrote up the lie, notwithstanding how seared Kerry’s memory was.

Obviously, the U.S. action in Somalia was an incursion of sorts, but why no complaints from the democrats, who have made it abundantly clear lately that everyone should just sit around various tables in especially the Middle East, munch on dates and imbibe exotic beverages, and simply “talk out” a solution diplomatically to all the region’s problems, including the farther reaches of the horn of Africa? This is the position of John Kerry, the would-be president and former boat commander who was navigationally-challenged. Well…back in August 1998, according to CNN, President Clinton said, "there will be no sanctuary for terrorists," and said the U.S. strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a facility in Sudan are part of "a long, ongoing struggle between freedom and fanaticism."

Prez Clinton had actually fired off a few missiles without asking Congress and didn’t seem to hit anything much in Afghanistan but did manage to blow up what appeared to be a medicine factory in Sudan. So…how could any democrat fault President Bush for actually chasing down and neutralizing permanently a bunch of Islamic terrorists? For that matter, next-door-neighbor Ethiopia had already invaded Somalia to help the Somali army rout the Moslems, who had taken over the capital of Mogadishu, and the United States – again without UN approval – was aiding another country in fighting the constantly burgeoning Islamic terrorist threat.

Somalia is officially Sunni Muslim territory, but apparently all Somalis – maybe not even half – don’t like the bloodletting the Muslims use in governing, that being about their only method. The United States doesn’t like the fact that Somalia is a haven for Al Qaeda operatives and the location of training camps for the terrorists. Ethiopia, about 40% Christian (orthodox) and 50% Muslim, is not content to let these murderers run things next door, so their vested interest in what the United States is doing, and vice-versa, is obvious. President Bush has indicated that Al Qaeda terrorists will be hunted down, no matter where they go, and killed or captured.

So…why aren’t the democrats, now in the driver’s seat (they think), berating President Bush and calling for everything from hearings to impeachment because of the Somali action? Simple: even they, as hypocritical as they are, realize that national security is the top priority and that no president of either party (as Clinton has done) means to go down in history as having failed in that vital area.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, January 15, 2007

Grandmothers & Politics

Much has been made lately of the influx of women into the power centers of government, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It has been generally accepted that the ladies certainly have the brain-power and bring a badly needed modicum of integrity to bear on the serious problems the nation faces. The highest placed government figure is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Senator Clinton, as many would have it.

Even before taking office, Pelosi advertised the fact that she would see to it that her crony, John Murtha of AbScam fame (or infamy), would replace her as majority leader, notwithstanding the natural accession to that post of Steny Hoyer, the previous Whip. Her colleagues turned her around big-time on that decision. So…what was a poor girl to do? There was one area in her bailiwick to where smokers could repair on a hard day of legislating in order to indulge themselves and relieve the stress. Pelosi, by fiat of the Speakership, declared that very piece of the Capitol to be a no-smoking zone…so there, you smelly tobacco-heads…and take note, Hoyer, lest you get in her sights again! That’s leadership! Anyway, the House has a “twofer” in Pelosi, namely, a speaker and a nanny (or make that grand-nanny).

Then came the most glorious opportunity in years – the raising of the minimum wage. Pelosi was in her element, the grandmotherly emblem of all that’s right in this world…setting things straight for the wage-challenged downtrodden, relatively few of whom are household-supporters. There’s nothing wrong, however, with ratcheting up the minimum wage since it could be argued sensibly that a raise was long overdue, even though democrats last year sank such a bill. In the bargain, the increase was also mandated for U.S. Territories…a magnanimous gesture of caring.

This meant that the increase applied to Territories such as the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, those exotic paradises in the South Pacific. But whoa, there, ol’ pardner! American Samoa? Yeah…that’s right, a perfectly good, upstanding American outpost. A strange thing happened, however, while the minimum-wage bill was snaking its way through the maze of pits along the legislative zoo-paths. American Samoa was EXEMPTED from the minimum-wage requirement.

How come? Is there something unduly egregious about American Samoa that would cause such discrimination against American Samoan workers? Well, no…American Samoa is a perfectly respectable, law-abiding territory, though it rarely if ever furnishes a Major league baseball player. However, the huge food conglomerates Del Monte and Chicken-of-the-Sea employ nearly three-fourths of the work force on American Samoa (5,000 souls), and could not be expected to welcome a mandate trifling with their low wages. “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” as Gomer Pyle would say. The headquarters of both of these food-giants are located in California, Del Monte right in Pelosi’s home district of San Francisco. Enough said?

Actually, the fallout from this bit of legislative skullduggery provided the best show in town for the week. While Massachusetts’ own congressional icon, Barney Frank, was acting speaker, this shabby mess was brought to the House’s attention by a congressman who wondered (tongue-in-cheek) if American Samoa could also be exempt from the stem-cell legislation, whereupon (seen by this writer on a TV news-program) Congressman Frank waxed apoplectic, waving the huge gavel and nearly destroying the Speaker’s “sacred desk” with it while SHOUTING DOWN the offending congressman. Great theater! Laughter still reigns, especially since it has been brought out that the worthy congress-people hadn’t had time – or taken time – to read the bill. Well…of course! That was the whole point. Caught red-handed, Pelosi might have handled things differently, but she was conveniently AWOL.

Actually, the ladies will never descend to the level of the men in Congress vis-à-vis shenanigans of this sort (think Abramoff, Foley, Hastings, Jefferson for starters, recently), although Senator Boxer showcased her IQ (Insult Quota) when she got in a few licks against State Secretary Rice in Rice’s appearance before “Buddy” (his term of endearment for Attorney General Gonzales) Biden’s lynch-mob known as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – mainly that Rice, not being married and (gasp) not having children or even grandchildren (though Boxer noted that she had both), couldn’t understand the sacrifices involved by American GIs and their families. This sort of viciousness seemed to permeate that committee. Since Boxer thinks Rice is a senseless, insensitive robot, she obviously was exhibiting her other IQ by not understanding that she was insulting a rock. One wonders if Boxer thinks she should be on that particular committee, since she’s never dealt with heads of state (probably doesn’t play the piano, either), as Rice has/does.

But, then, there’s Hillary, perhaps the cleverest of the distaff, since she interprets polls better than anyone else and acts accordingly, not to mention that she bought New York fair and square. Of course, she was not smart enough to buy her home state of Illinois instead of New York, and so now she must face the Media’s new poster-boy, Barack Obama, who by his being such a “hunk” has captivated the soccer moms and little old ladies in blue hair – a large segment of the vote.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Carter-Clinton Baptist Clambake

Former presidents Carter and Clinton have joined forces in an effort to improve the "negative" image of Baptists in North America and to unite the majority of Baptists into a loose-knit network to address social ills, according to the Associated Baptist Press, based in Jacksonville, Fla., with bureaus in Washington and Dallas. They’re spearheading an effort aimed at a consortium of Baptist groups numbering about 20 million congregants. A convention of sorts to bring these people together is planned for Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 of 2008 in Atlanta.

According to the APB, some 80 Baptist leaders met recently at the Carter Presidential Center, so the projected meeting was apparently an outgrowth of that meeting. Also according to the APB, the organizations represented by meeting participants comprise about 20 million Baptists in North America, the event's organizers noted. That's more than the 16 million members claimed by the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist group in the world, whose leaders have moved sharply to the political and theological right in the last 25 years. Obviously, Southern Baptists, who financially support more than 10,000 missionaries about evenly divided between foreign and North American countries are considered the “enemy” with respect to the perceived negativity, assuming such negativity is actually an issue.

One wonders at the propriety of both the denominations and the leaders involved, especially since church-state separation is a First Amendment consideration. Both Carter and Clinton are political animals and have been at the top of the Democrat Party for many years. What is the motivation of either the pew-people or the politicians? Certainly, no Baptist denomination poses a threat to national security or governance, and one wonders why Carter and Clinton should be concerned about what non-Baptists think of Baptists…a purely religious matter.

Perhaps the APB put its finger on the matter, whether intentionally or not, in mentioning the political and theological right, thus making of the two entities a single consideration, each impacting the other. Millions of southerners – not just Southern Baptists – have left the traditional democrat fold in recent years, notwithstanding their overwhelmingly democrat registration, opting for republican leadership. Many southerners are members of Southern Baptist Churches, ergo, they have been code-named the Religious Right, or at least considered part of what many call a movement perceived to be radical in its conservative leaning.

In a meeting last April, according to APB, Carter said, “The most common opinion about Baptists is we cannot get along. … I have been grieved by the divisions of my own convention.” He obviously referred to the Southern Baptist Convention, though the APB categorized him as a “former Southern Baptist.” What neither Carter nor the APB mentioned is the fact that Baptists frequently disagree on everything from church polity to theology, and, in this case, Carter’s view has not prevailed in his denomination, ergo, his denomination is excoriated as negative. Cheap shot, in other words.

But why should 284,000,000 Americans (all but the Southern Baptists) care about what Southern Baptists or any Baptists are quarreling about, or whether or not they present a negative image – or any kind of image? Simple answer: they don’t care. So, What should one think about the Carter/Clinton “healing” effort? Well…the actual 2008-campaign season begins, coincidentally, next January, though some of the usual suspects are always in campaign mode, and a whole gaggle have already announced. Two caucuses and two primaries will take place that month, a critical one in South Carolina the day before the Carter/Clinton clambake.

What better time to “heal” the Baptists – translated make a push against the “religious right,” perceived to be peopled largely by Southern Baptists – than at the beginning of an election cycle? If religion pros had attempted to make this effort credible, particularly as an in-house effort, they might have been successful. But with Clinton and Carter, both proclaiming to be Baptists, pushing the buttons, gaining the lions’ share of the attention, and, coincidentally, being democrats, one has to wonder about motives, judgment, manipulation of sincere people of the cloth, and all the rest. For instance, Hillary Clinton is profoundly unpopular in the South. Could the Atlanta conclave conjured up by hubby Bill do her any harm?

Many have claimed that Southern Baptists have been manipulated by the republicans. Is it fair now to say that Baptists of all stripes are being manipulated by the democrats, just as they’ve manipulated African Americans for decades? It would seem so…unfortunately.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Harper and Education

Whether or not he’s successful in his race to edge out Governor Fletcher in the primary next May, Billy Harper is using the always-safe subject of education to put forth his candidacy. There’s nothing wrong with that since education affairs in this state have comprised a “too little, too late” matter for a while now. If Harper wants to take credit for the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, he needs to go slowly on the subject, since that wretched legislation, much of which has been rescinded, has hurt the schools immeasurably.

In the latest Harper release, the lament is that Kentucky’s math students’ scores in grades four and eight are far behind the averages of the nation. This comes fifteen years after KERA-1990, when the legislators combined a pork-barrel orgy with – of all things – mandating pedagogy, an area so far removed from their expertise that they became laughable. One of the results was K-3, with the predictable result of failing grades in reading by grade four. That part of the act was rescinded years ago, thankfully, with the result that readers in grades four and eight are average – not excellent or even proficient, but average. Actually, teachers had already begun disregarding K-3, in violation of the law, simply because it didn’t work. How much sense did it make to do away with one-room schools and then reintroduce the concept in grades K-3?

From the latest Harper release: “Billy Harper brought together business leaders, school administrators and teachers to come up with 52 recommendations to create the Harper Report to make Kentucky schools better. Among these are funding for full day kindergarten, requiring school councils to collaborate with superintendants [sic] on hiring principals and allowing for regular business review of educational standards. Billy Harper is also a strong advocate of giving parents authority over their children’s educational future.”

Full-day kindergarten is probably a bad idea. Five-year-olds are not ready for full-day effort, so funding it fulltime, if at all, has more to do with baby-sitting or childcare than anything else. This is not the business of public schools, though both parents in so many households work that the schools are stuck with the problem.

It seems silly to have to request that school councils allow elected superintendents to have a say in the hiring of principals. The school councils should have no say whatsoever; yet KERA mandated that school councils (principal, two parents, three teachers) have the final say on everything, including curriculum. This has been upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court. This created a pedagogic nightmare, and Harper – or anyone running for the office – would do well to promise the rescinding of school councils. The councils militate against standardization, both system-wide and statewide, meaning that students arrive in both middle schools and high schools with dissimilar backgrounds. A check of the scoring in both the middle schools and the high schools indicates much worse problems there than in the elementary schools.

Business review of educational standards? Perhaps there needs to be a business review of educational spending…but standards? That’s sort of like the legislature mandating pedagogy in 1990 – handling something for which it has no expertise. Parents already have as much authority over education as they can hope to have by electing their superintendents and school-boards. The fact that the superintendents are virtually powerless means that the parents are powerless, also. Indeed, especially in a release concerning education, one hopes that the misspelling of superintendent by the Harper staff (see above) was due simply to a typo.

Concerning a Harper program promoting attendance is this claim in the latest release: “Every participating middle school reports that the number of children in attendance per day has increased from five percent to 50 percent.” Taken literally, does this mean that the absentee rate was reduced from 95% of enrolment to 50%? Yes, it does, so, obviously, that’s not what the statement means. What it does mean is unclear.

This is not a liberal rant, but the thoughts of a conservative on how Harper would approach education. The programs of other candidates will also be scrutinized. Hopefully, someone will step forward – logically a conservative – and actually address the problem. An entire generation has passed through the school system since KERA was enacted, and that generation has been shortchanged in many ways.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Traffic Bottleneck a Hindrance

In a January 7 column in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., Leland Conway insisted that the “growth issue” be at the top of the city’s agenda for 2007. Accompanying the article was a picture of rush-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic on the part of Hwy. 27 that connects Lexington and Nicholasville. The traffic problem is compounded often when traffic is backed up for miles as the result of an accident.

To make matters worse, that section of highway has been in the process of commercial development for years and is now the location of far too many traffic lights. A good analogy is the same highway in its Somerset location (also four-lane), with almost 30 traffic lights (count ’em) in that town of only 12,000 citizens. Finally, a bypass (which is what the original #27 road was supposed to be) has been built around the east side of the town. Such a bypass is not possible for the Lexington-Nicholasville mess.

The column actually was about planning, something often discussed perhaps justifiably, but there are agencies in place, particularly planning/zoning, to take care of that – supposedly. The PDA program, a needless tax-collected giveaway (bribe) to people far beyond the service area for not developing their land, comes to mind, also. People owning nearly all properties contiguous to the service area have not availed themselves of PDA, for obvious reasons.

It seems apparent that no agency will be able to solve the transit problem on either #27 or #68, which turns into the South Broadway bottleneck. A child of the 1930s, I seem to remember a sort of trolley line that ran between Nicholasville and Lexington. It was so close to the highway that it could be seen from the highway occasionally. It was a feeder of sorts, like the rail systems commuters use in the largest cities, parking their cars in the suburbs and taking the train into the city. One wonders if such a line could not be fashioned again.

The Norfolk Southern Railway runs through the business sections of both Nicholasville and Lexington. In fact, it abuts the west side of the malls on Nicholasville Road and crosses South Broadway at Scott Street, practically adjacent to the UK campus. It’s single track between Nicholasville and Fayette Mall, but there might be enough roadway for a private track if the railroad would be willing to consider a commuter project. Railroads do not want passenger service, and such service would be impossible where single track is in place (about 40-50 freight trains a day through Lexington), but it might be worth a try.

It might be worth considering such a line away from the railroad. Commuters from Nicholasville, Wilmore, Danville, and places farther south (and there are many such commuters using both highways) could park at Nicholasville – parking areas part of the project, of course – and take the train. As it stands, the traffic problem, especially with the bottlenecks created by multi-lanes being squeezed into four-lane and two-lane streets is as much a consideration for orderly growth as where to locate entities anywhere in the county.

This may all have been examined before, but maybe a new look is in order now.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Domestic Partner" Rip-off - NO!

Joel Pett, award-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., is now offering a short vocal commentary each week on the paper’s Web site. The one introduced in the first week of the New Year comprised a bit of sarcasm relating to “domestic-partner” benefits, a subject being considered by the University of Kentucky governing board. The paper’s position is that such benefits should be enacted.

According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, a domestic partner is “either one of an unmarried heterosexual or homosexual cohabiting couple especially when considered as to eligibility for spousal benefits.” So, for university purposes, the domestic-partner issue has to do with cadging currently unauthorized perks from a citizen-owned institution the things legally authorized and officially documented only for spouses and families, principally those contingent upon the marriage contract.

On 02 November 2004, Amendment 233A was overwhelmingly approved by Kentucky voters and made a part of the Kentucky Constitution: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” In Kentucky, homosexuals may not legally be married to each other, thus the “partners” are not accorded standing accruing to spouses for consideration(s) provided by the state or institutions regulated or supported by it.

It would appear that no benefits are available for any individual not legally married to an eligible recipient, or a dependent not having family standing, as in the case of children in either homosexual households or heterosexual shack-ups. The law – actually carrying the weight of the Constitution – seems quite clear. Even if the institutions are self-insured and employees usually pay part of their health-insurance premiums, the state has the power to regulate them, and, of course, pours tens of millions of taxpayer/voter dollars into their support. The citizens have spoken in a landslide vote and this subject should be moot, since the regulation is already in place and it would seem that the university, as a Kentucky agency, has no power to change it. Private institutions can do as they please, and a couple of Kentucky colleges do the domestic-partner thing, as do some industries in Kentucky.

Outgoing Lexington, Ky., Mayor Teresa Isaac tried to impose the domestic-partner benefit on the taxpayers by executive order in 2003, but was turned back immediately by the governing Council. Her bizarre action was perpetrated by the claim of a homosexual city employee that his male partner (lover, whatever) should be entitled to the benefits of a wife. The partner was neither infirm nor unable to work and pay his own way…and certainly could never be a wife. All that notwithstanding, according to the law, he would not have been eligible for taxpayer benefits, anyway.

Perhaps the most egregious reason given for the domestic-partner perk (not counting the overarching one of political correctness) is that its inculcation is necessary to bring UK into research-university top-20 land; in other words, the brightest and the best brains are so overwhelmingly owned by homosexuals or those unwilling to make a marriage commitment that they must be cajoled and pampered into blessing the university with their superior abilities. What hogwash! This is a slap in the face of all those who manage to reach top-echelon status without the “advantage” of engaging in perverted behavior, whether homosexual or heterosexual.

The relentless drive toward political correctness, defined as anything anyone says it is and therefore susceptible to everything from the merely weird to the utterly gross, is the damnation of the so-called postmodern society. The glorification of perversion in all of its deviant sexual behaviors as well as the recognition of fornication as the mark of ultra-sophistication essentially defines current political correctness. It is a cancer upon the society. This effort represents a raid upon the public treasury, nothing more and nothing less.setstats Indeed, a whole new bureaucracy would be needed just to determine at any given time whose partner is whose partner, there being no legal documents to make an accounting.

This is a no-brainer, and the university should not burden the public with even a discussion of the matter.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Not often is it possible to see a state funeral and perhaps even less possible to see one as awe-inspiring as that of former president Gerald Ford, held in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on 02 January. It was an Episcopal service complete with the Liturgy, great music of the church, and spoken word, including the Scriptures, all conducted in a setting/decorum/professionalism that unmistakably remarked the connection obtaining between God and this nation. It was an exercise in solemnity appropriately celebrating a life and pointing to the eternality of the soul, as promised by God.

It’s ironic that at this particular time, when there’s such a constant uproar by a relative handful of people/institutions concerning the notion that the Judeo-Christian God should have no thread of any kind in the national fabric, that an occasion such as this comes along, fairly blazing forth and proclaiming in ultra-decibels the fact that, indeed, the God of the Holy Bible has provided the linchpin of the republic, grounded in both the message/guarantees of Holy Writ and the prescription it advances for obtaining and maintaining the best good of the individual, embodied in freedom, personal dignity, and the need to live by God-mandated principles. It’s not by accident that people who serve in high places make no secret of their dependence upon God.

I appreciated this service, especially since it reminded me that adhering to the precepts of and worshiping the God of the Bible does form the foundation of the nation, as the founders unmistakably realized. Hopefully, we will never take God out of our emblems or our national life.

There was some mention among the TV talking-heads during the days since Ford’s death that the nation faced a crisis serious enough to force it asunder upon the resignation of former president Nixon in 1974 and the accession of Ford to the presidency. There was even mention of the possibility of some sort of “palace coup.” This was so ridiculous as to make one laugh at either such misreading of the times or plain ignorance of the strength of the society and its laws. A nation that could withstand the trauma of the times leading to the Civil War and the war itself was not about to fold because of a silly burlary-cover-up.

There was, however, in Gerald Ford a calming influence that, while not needed to preserve the union, was needed to preserve a sense of national worth and will. The Vietnam War had sapped the nation of its vitality, not least because it had been poorly conducted, with all troops in the South disallowed, for instance, to fight on North Vietnamese territory (roughly north of the 17th parallel) and thus doomed to purely defensive warfare. This caused attrition with nothing to show for it, and thus the death of 58,000 valiant Americans. Gerald Ford, through no fault of his own, had to oversee the end of the war and feel all the sadness connected to it…but he did so and, as noted by Henry Kissinger in his eulogy, also looked out for the tens of thousands of refugees.

In May 1975, elements of the Khmer Rouge pirated a ship that was part of an American commercial fleet and kidnapped the crewman – Americans. Within hours Ford put into place a military force halfway around the world that in a relatively few more hours secured the release of the crewmen and put the world on notice – in the face of the Soviet and Chinese communists right in their own backyards during the height of the Cold War – that this nation would not be cowed, no matter the outcome of Vietnam. It was a replay of sorts of the Cuban crisis in 1962, when President Kennedy through both negotiation and using military strength backed down the Soviets. Ford, as Kennedy before him, acted in the interest of the nation and exhibited a leadership unmistakable in its will and strength. Folks such as the Taiwanese, South Koreans, and Japanese recognized the strength in Ford that had resided in the White House since World War II, the only factor worldwide that guaranteed their existence.

By contrast, President Carter in November 1979 did nothing to secure the release of the Americans taken hostage in Iran just months after the evil ayatollah Khomeini had taken control of the government. In July of that year, Carter delivered what became known as his “National Malaise” speech, though he did not use that term. Instead of performing in a manner dissipating that perceived “malaise,” he enhanced it by doing nothing until the following April, when he approved a “rescue mission” so doomed to fail that the nation was shamed. He should and could have acted as Ford acted, thus exhibiting leadership that would have given both pride and hope to the nation. The hostages languished for 14 months, until the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.

The consensus has always been that Ford’s pardoning of Nixon doomed his run for a term of his own in the White House in 1976, when Carter narrowly defeated him. One wonders how the nation might have been different. Though it was not then, the consensus now seems to be that Nixon’s pardon was absolutely the right thing for that time. Ford had to know when he effected the pardon that he was greatly diminishing his chances, but he did what he thought was right. History has proven that he was right.

Gerald Ford, former Great Depression warrior and World War II naval officer who distinguished himself in combat, belonged to what author Tom Brokaw called the “greatest generation.” As proven by his actions, he was a man of strength and integrity. As so graphically portrayed in his burial rites, he was a man of faith, and this is what undoubtedly informed his life.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark