Saturday, March 31, 2007


Most people refer to this time of year as being the “Easter Season,” but in this corner the preferred term is “Resurrection Celebration,” though the element of crucifixion is as vital to the observance as the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Such torture and death as that accomplished through the crucifying of a human being is certainly nothing to celebrate.

According to the Venerable Bede, the name Easter is derived from the pagan spring festival of the Anglo- Saxon goddess Eostre, and many folk customs associated with Easter (for example, Easter eggs) are of pagan origin. Even though Easter in the Christian community also incorporates Judeo-Christian elements (Passover, sacrifice, resurrection), the term “resurrection” is preferred in this corner, thus completely discounting any secular or pagan significance.

Strangely, those of the ilk availing themselves often of the services available at the ACLU locations, while having hissy fits and even physical upheavals over anything alluding to Christ at Christmas, seem not to care that the cross is displayed throughout the countryside during Resurrection, and people are (gasp) even allowed to parade it upon public streets in their various rituals connected to the work of Christ. Indeed, the cross is prominently displayed as part of the insignia worn by military chaplains. How can this possibly be, when such a thing could be claimed by the ACLU to be the recognition of an establishment of religion?

After all, the presence of a nativity crèche in the public square at Christmastime is routinely disallowed by city governments and even disallowed by school-boards, lest students be traumatized by observing the birth of a person connected to religion. Yet, something signifying an entity as bloody as a rugged cross, as much a part of religious observance as anything else, is worn by military officers on their shirt collars and uniform-jackets. Why is this?

One wonders if perhaps the reason is simply that in springtime folks are into the warm weather or off on the ritual spring-break or cleaning house or getting ready for the prom or mesmerized by the NCAA “Final Four” in the never-ending basketball season or lots of other things and are just too busy to be bothered by protesting the display of the cross, which is just as emblematic of an establishment of religion as a nativity scene. Or, could it be that the term “Christ” is not mentioned vis-à-vis the cross, at least in the same way it is with regard to Christmas, and protesters just can’t get any leverage because of that? Or, could it be that they’re so dumb they don’t realize the importance of the cross and that it’s even connected to religion?

Christmas involves attention-grabbing ostentation – slathered with much joy and merry-making – that just screams for protesters to answer ostentatiously, while Resurrection is clouded by quietness and a certain solemnity that hushes even those who are avid in trying for 15 minutes of fame. Being raucous about the birth of a baby is easy, but being disrespectful of the death of a saint is another matter, and yet the two extremes are of a piece with respect to what they represent.

Perhaps part of the answer is found in what the cross represents, as well as the subsequent resurrection, particularly at this time. In the suicides of the Muslim bombers is seen the element of sacrifice, just as it is seen in the death of Christ, actually a suicide as well, since he had the power and the option to negate the cross. But the Muslim bomber dies in an attempt to cause others to die, therefore actually being a suicide/homicide bomber, much as the Japanese Kamikaze pilots in World War II. By contrast, Christ, making no effort to save himself or kill others, died in the effort to give life – more abundantly, as he said, on this earth, and eternally, as he said, beyond the grave.

Mohammed, the creator of Islam and the doctrine of “killing infidels, with Paradise as personal reward,” is accounted by Muslims as the prophet of Allah and delivered the Koran, the Islamic holy book, in the process hijacking much of Holy Writ…but when Mohammed died, he stayed dead. On the third day after his death on the cross, Christ arose from the tomb – alive, defeating death and making eternal life available to all. That says it all.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stumbo's Revenge...Backfiring?

The enormity of Kentucky Attorney General Stumbo’s profligacy in his sordid but botched hatchet job on Governor Fletcher in the so-called “merit scandal” affair is brought home on a daily basis as he cavorts around the state campaigning for the Lunsford/Stumbo gubernatorial ticket. Obviously, Lunsford brings the money to the effort, but what does Stumbo bring? Nothing.

As has been pointed out here before, Stumbo went on the record years ago in stating that he would be interested in the governor’s chair if Fletcher ever became “wildly unpopular.” Strangely, instead of running for that position or even running to succeed himself, he’s the number two guy headed for almost certain political oblivion if the L/S combine fails to make it…as it most likely will. The fact that he, instead of allowing a personnel matter to go before the proper agencies, decided to make the governor become “wildly unpopular” by chasing it through his office speaks volumes for itself. Almost the only “crimes” committed were misdemeanors.

As did Patton, Jones, and Wilkinson before him, Stumbo probably hopes to vault from the number two spot to the top spot, though one wonders, assuming an L/S victory, when Lunsford might be ready to let that happen – four years from now or eight? He’s smart in using Lunsford’s money to do this, whereas the others had to buy their own way in. Wilkinson introduced the new wrinkle of getting back his ante with interest. Jones spent what seemed like his entire term getting back his investment, the procuring of part of which eventuated in a supporter going to the Big House.

Both of Governor Fletcher’s opponents in the Primary began their campaigns on the premise that Fletcher, because of the “merit mess” and the pardons, is unelectable. Northup hammers at this constantly. Harper, who also is buying his way in, seems less strident. The fact is, however, that as Kentuckians take the time to consider seriously what happened with respect to the attempted Stumbo massacre of Fletcher they may take a different view of the pardons, perhaps comparing Stumbo’s actions as AG with those of Ben Chandler as AG with regard to the vote-buying mess in 1995.

In Fletcher’s case, the merit matter should have gone before the proper agencies (personnel, ethics) and, in any case, involved virtually nothing other than misdemeanors. In Patton’s case (the 1995 election), the voting irregularities involved felonies and fitted directly within the purview of the AG’s office. Absent the pardons, Fletcher and his people would have been drained dry in lawyers’ fees for simple misdemeanors, and most folks understand that this was probably what Stumbo was interested in, perhaps as payback for both the democrat loss of the state senate years ago and the governorship in 2003.

Patton effected the four pardons connected to his problem (two union leaders and two state officials) to undo probable trials that might have involved him somewhere along the way with felonies. In fact, they probably would have; otherwise, he could have left the four alleged miscreants hanging in the wind. Conventional wisdom is that the Louisville vote was definitely tainted in 1995.

So…is it fair of Northup and Harper to insist that the governor, who has certainly done no worse in office than other governors and maybe even much better than most recent ones, to premise their campaigns on Fletcher’s un-electability? After all, Lieutenant Governor Pence bailed last June as a second-term guy, though, as a former prosecutor, he might be given some slack in his possible perception of the pardons as just plain wrong, no matter the circumstances. If this is the case, it is nevertheless worth noting that the power to pardon is written into the state constitution so that grievances of little or at least minor consequence or grievances obviously advanced through design can be redressed.

The difference between the pardons granted by Fletcher and Patton is obvious. A former Tennessee governor went to the penitentiary for selling pardons, so the pardon can be misused. In the news lately has been the pardons granted by Bill Clinton on the request of two of Hillary Clinton’s brothers, one involving a “loan” of $100,000 that’s never been repaid in seven years and the other in the amount of $400,000. In Fletcher’s case, since an easily recognizable attempt to “use” the system for political purposes is the issue, the pardons were permissible and the governor should not be judged on their basis. He should be judged only on his performance.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Congressional Laugh-In

One has to laugh when contemplating the uproar democrats in Congress are trying to unleash over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. The same goes for the current non-uproar over the “outing” of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert status in the CIA, a status, as it turns out, that never existed officially, and certainly not even tacitly for the number of years she’s been manning a desk at Langley, where all employees are quite un-covert as they drive into the parking lot and later shop at the malls…out in plain view.

The democrats promised a veritable plethora of investigations (euphemism for “witch-hunts”) when they took office in January, and they have been hard at it ever since – give them credit for trying! The problem is that they constantly “ride off in all directions at once.” For instance, Senate Minority Leader McConnell recited a list of the latest “war” resolutions promulgated by democrats – seems there were about 40 of them. They all are designed to just “do something” before the elections next year, lest there be some success in the war on terror, thus making the republicans look too good. Majority Leader Reid could get only 48 votes for the latest. What a laugh!

In Kentucky back in the late 80s and early 90s, federal investigators were tearing up the Kentucky Legislature and by 1993 had packed off to the Big House a large percentage of the solons, nearly all of whom were democrats, including the House Speaker. The current lieutenant governor, Steve Pence, was the lead federal prosecutor in that activity, part of which was known as the BopTrot scandal. Enter the Clinton administration in 1993. Of the 93 federal prosecutors nationwide, Clinton saw to it that 92 of them got the boot – in one day. It is more than just likely that a number of Kentucky legislators breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Obviously, the democrats must have a death-wish in causing this subject to be plastered all over the media. Even the New York Times and Washington Post can’t make this stink go away. But…the hearings in these matters give the stuffed shirts – senators and representatives – their 15 minutes to make the usual speeches and appear as statesmen…or statespersons or statesladies or whatever. The word is that the eight prosecutors, who can be legally fired at any time, were prosecuting folks the White House didn’t want prosecuted. That may or may not be true, but the mass firings in 1993 were probably precipitated, at least partly, by the fact that a prosecutor was getting too close to Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, a darling of the democrats, so that prosecutor and all the others were just creamed. Soon after, Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, precipitated the massacre at Waco, not a laughing matter. Four federal agents and more than 70 members of the Branch Davidian cult died needlessly, but Reno contaminated the AG office for eight years. The irony is that Rosty went to the Big House anyway.

The Plame affair is both laughable and lamentable, not to mention slimy. Richard Armitage, a deputy in Colin Powell’s State Department, revealed Plame’s identity in 2003 to journalist Robert Novak and probably to journalist Bob Woodward. Powell, the FBI, and at least one other in government knew all this in 2003, as the investigation into who leaked Plame’s non-covert status to the media was carried out by Prosecutor Fitzgerald. Bush assistant Karl Rove testified five times before the grand Jury over a matter already settled. Finally, “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, was supposedly caught up in perjury over a matter already settled, and which had nothing to do with the “outing” of Plame, who had been working that desk un-covertly for five years. Laughable!

Also laughable in its predictability is the bill being pressed in the House by Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., chairman of the armed services oversight and investigations subcommittee, that would prohibit the military from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, and specifically authorize anyone separated for homosexuality, bisexuality or homosexual conduct to be allowed back into the military if he/she wishes. As virtually his first act in office in 1993 and with overwhelming majorities of democrats in both the House and Senate, Bill Clinton tried this same stuff, with the upshot being the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mess, under which well over 11,000 homosexuals have been discharged since 1994. Republicans have owned Congress since then, so the subject has been moot. Now, with just thin majorities, the democrats, who seem to be mesmerized by the homosexual community, are trying the same stuff again. This is laughable but regrettable, since the military needs no more disruption than it already is experiencing with the war on terrorism.

And so it goes with the laugh-in in Congress. One wonders if it will ever get down to serious business. The Senate’s main preoccupation currently, after a democratic Congress did nothing about Reno’s Waco massacre in 1993, is the attempt to force out Attorney General Gonzales for doing what the usual routine embodies, no matter which party is in power – ho-hum. Play it again, Sam.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Prichard Committee Nonsense

The extent of bankruptcy in the thinking of people connected with education in Kentucky was exhibited in an op-ed piece of 08 March in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., by Robert F. Sexton, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Indeed, one wonders if Ed Prichard, a respected pragmatist in whose honor the committee is named, wouldn’t wonder at Sexton’s latest suggestion if he were still alive.

Sexton suggests that public-school teachers of mathematics and science (actually just physics and chemistry) should be paid significantly more than other teachers because the best mathematician- and scientist-graduates when leaving college opt for higher-paying careers in fields other than teaching. This is the old and predictable political ploy used to solve any problem, to wit, throw money at it. The State Senate has already approved such a bill.

Even though it’s doubtful that the Prichard Committee has ever been worth much more than warm spit in affecting the state’s education system, this latest pronouncement predictably carries weight with a legislature no different from that of 1990 that heaved, strained and vomited up the Kentucky Education Reform Act, complete with enormous pork-barrel attachments necessary to its passage. Much of it has been rescinded, and there’s absolutely no indication that KERA has effected a system any better than the one it replaced. In fact, education is worse off, not least because the legislators attempted to enact pedagogy, about the same as a third-grader designing college courses.

Under KERA, Sexton’s philosophy was enacted in the “rewards system,” the doling out to teachers and administrators of bonuses when their students achieved the proper test grades. In the worst schools (usually demographically and not intellectually hatched), no teachers received rewards, while in the already good schools teachers were happy to be given windfalls for simply doing what they were hired to do. The predictable upshot: widespread cheating (stealing) on the part of both teachers and administrators. The losers: students. This system has been rescinded or drastically reconfigured, so naturally it is being urged again. Amazing!

Whether or not he realizes it, Sexton is suggesting that subjects having to do with the arts or other science subjects such as biology, anatomy, and botany are so unimportant that the teachers of these subjects can be nincompoops, with no sweat. The latest figures (2004) indicate that 53% of the freshmen in Kentucky universities and related enterprises needed remedial work just to be students: math, 44%; English, 32%; reading, 25%, for instance. A student needs only to score above 17 (out of a perfect 36, almost like tossing a coin for the answer) in order to escape remedial work, so this is an indication of how awful the public school system is currently. Even worse, new standards will probably be established soon that will drive the remedial rate even higher.

Sexton blames the Kentucky Education Association for road-blocking his currently misguided approach, while agreeing that there’s no proof that it will work. He simply says that the present salary system doesn’t work but offers no proof of that, either, simply insisting that compensation helps attract talent. Go figure. That’s a known fact in practically any enterprise, so what he’s actually saying is that education should be reformed into tracks (actually systems) that provide schools for technocrats and all other schools for everyone else, a virtual impossibility in other than private terms.

The KEA presents a whole set of problems but it’s right on this one. Under the Senate bill, a chemistry teacher could make up to $10,000 more per year than the biology teacher next-door, with the governing factor being the student’s test scores and economic status. This is another way of encouraging the teacher to “teach to the test,” not to the subject. How Sexton could not see this is amazing. It’s already been tried and proven to fail.

The root of this problem lies in KERA, and until the last vestiges of this enactment are erased – especially the school-based councils – the system is doomed, and so is Kentucky education. When the legislature signed-on to “outcomes-based” pedagogy in 1990 (self-esteem as the most important of all educational endeavors), it essentially mandated mediocrity academically, with diversity and multiculturalism being the be-all and end-all of education endeavor and making it into an experiment (failed, at that) in social engineering. The Prichard Committee needs its collective head examined, and its director needs to face the fact that KERA, far from being an educational success, has damned an entire school generation and is nothing more than the result of a miserably failed fad.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Academic Lunacy

In a recent op-ed piece in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., David Fenrick, a doctoral candidate and teacher at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky., reacted to a previous column regarding the movie Amazing Grace, released a few days ago. Here are some of his remarks, along with some responses from this writer.

Fenrick: First, Wilberforce waged a battle against the political, economic and religious abuses of the empire [British, early 1800s] of his day. Today, the United States is the empire: the most politically, economically and culturally powerful nation in the world and, some would argue, in human history.

“For a seminary professor to make a statement this dishonest is to brand him as either a prolific liar, profoundly mentally challenged, or simply to have pulled a ‘Rip Van Winkle’ for his entire life. This country, except for a handful of military bases on various islands mostly, has absolutely no land-grabs to show for its overwhelming victories in World Wars I and II or any other military actions such as Kuwait and Korea. It administers no colonies and its protectorates remain in their relationship of their own volition. It definitely is not an empire even remotely to be compared to those of England, France, Spain, Netherlands, etc., that held people captive in other centuries and right up to the end of World War II. There’s nothing wrong with being the best as long as in the process a nation is not among the worst ethically. Think Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China and Saudi Arabia, for instance.”

Fenrick: In this regard, Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandus K. Gandhi would certainly not stand with President Bush's call to "stay the course." They would be leading the people who oppose the abuse of power and the use of violent force for self-serving political and economic ends.

“This is unbelievably out of whack. Each one of the men mentioned eminently, tenaciously ‘stayed the course’ they set for themselves. Gandhi was even willing to starve himself for his cause. MLK probably gave his life. They were relentless in their demonstration of personal sacrifice in ‘leading the people who oppose the abuse of power and the use of violent force for self-serving political and economic ends.’ This is precisely what President Bush is doing as he understands the malevolence of Islamic fundamentalism and the intentions of its spiritual and governmental leaders to subdue all the peoples of the world. This country makes no claims to any Afghani or Iraqi real estate or other elements, such as oil, and is ready to get out of those hell-holes as soon as possible. Certainly, Bush has nothing to gain, but the people of the world who understand the Muslim aims – regardless of what they might say – appreciate the fact this nation is laying its blood and treasure on the line. Think Sudan/Somalia currently. To assume what Wilberforce, King and Gandhi might have done today, given circumstances entirely different from those that were connected with their causes, time, and place is arrogance multiplied exponentially. Each operated within his own country, and none of them faced an enemy driven by ‘spiritual’ nonsense drilled into their mostly uneducated heads by monsters who do have a lot to gain on the backs of others or through their blood. Blowing up women and children in the marketplace is something that only people incapable of parley/diplomacy do.”

Fenrick: Wilberforce, King and Gandhi proclaimed and practiced non-violent protest as a means to awaken oppressors to their injustices and to bring about social transformation. All three spoke against the use of military force to achieve political ends, no matter how righteous they seem.

“This is not an unexpected diatribe from the ‘halls of ivy’ or the ‘ivory towers’ that pass for institutions of higher learning in this country. What would Fenrick have done in 1941 – sit on a pillow by the dock at Pearl Harbor, a la Gandhi, while the bloody Japanese thugs blew the whole island away and then raped the U.S. just as they had already raped Korea, China, and Southeast Asia? Would Wilberforce have sent no boats to Dunkirk, favoring a parley with Hitler, while British soldiers were slaughtered by the thousands? Would King have gone to jail and meditated, rather than throwing Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991? Fenrick is a ‘better red than dead’ guy, so thank God this country is not led by folks like him. Fenrick obviously thinks his heroes had the answer to everything. They lived in another time and place, and he certainly has no clue about the here and now.”

Fenrick: Now, as in Wilberforce's day, the powerful men of the empire fight the voices of peace and justice and oppose those who boldly and bravely speak out against the brutal tyranny of economic and political abuse of power.

“The ‘brutal tyranny of economic and political abuse of power’ resides presently with the powerful men of empire connected to the nations absolutely enslaving and keeping ignorant their populaces in governments controlled by Islamic monsters and their civil-servant toadies. They do not fight for peace and justice, but for world domination at the behest of their ‘holy book,’ cobbled together by Mohammed, an ordinary cultist of the seventh century. This nation speaks out – walks the talk – against these blood-letters who brainwash innocent people into becoming homicide/suicide bombers, much as the hated Kamikaze pilots hoodwinked by the Japanese in World War II and killers of thousands of Americans simply fighting for freedom.”

Fenrick: And just as in Wilberforce's day, labels such as "unpatriotic" and "subversive" are attached to the courageous people who stand up to tyranny and injustice, and whose calls for justice offend the rich, comfortable and powerful who profit from the suffering of millions.

“Well…hardly. Those labels are attached to folks like Fenrick because they’re either too dumb or self-righteous or wimpish to face the world as it is, rather than as how they wish it to be. The profiteers from this country’s current actions are all of its people, who hopefully will again live in a modicum of peace when the Islamic threat is nullified and they don’t have to worry about a simple thing like getting on an airplane.”

Fenrick: Second, while Wilberforce, John Wesley and many other Christian reformers fought for God's justice and an end to the slave trade, their fight cannot be compared to the military conflict in the Middle East.

“Fenrick recognizes the 9/11 episode as some sort of ‘police problem,’ the attitude, essentially, of Bill Clinton, as the Muslims blew up Americans – even in embassies – here and there throughout the world, and even now blow up their own kind, such as women and children in the marketplace, to achieve their ends, fueled entirely by terrorism. Democracy may or may not work in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the benighted Middle East, but it won’t be for lack of this nation’s trying. In any case, the Ayatollahs and their ‘hit men’ will be kept from these shores. That’s what actually matters.”

Fenrick: Wilberforce, Wesley and King clearly understood the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who rejected the power of the sword, cautioned that "those who live by the sword will die by the sword" and told a representative of the empire of his day that "my kingdom is not of this world."

“Fenrick needs to re-read Luke 22:35,36, wherein Christ in the ‘Last Supper’ episode told the disciples in no uncertain terms to arm themselves (secure swords), even if they had to sell clothing in order to do so. He even emphasized the point by reminding them of the difference between this command and an earlier one, when he had sent them out on a mission without even an extra pair of shoes or any money. Those who live by the sword – the aggressors – WILL die by the sword, but those who protect themselves, as Jesus admonished his followers to do, will live for another day. Fenrick does not understand the difference between aggression (Muslims) and defense (Coalition forces). Fenrick apparently has no sense of either the scripture or history. This is a shame, especially on a campus, where he can influence often naïve young people.”

Fenrick: The "kingdom of the cross" and the "kingdom of the sword" are diametrically opposed to each other.

“There obviously is no such thing – at least in scripture – as the ‘kingdom of the cross.’ There were many kingdoms of the sword, and Jesus was enslaved in one such, a subject of the Romans. He had sense enough to realize that a hunger strike would not free him or his people from the Romans. For all of Gandhi’s actions, India did not become free of England until AFTER World War II, though the Brits gave India a Constitution in 1935. The American colonists, however, took a much more sanguinary approach to England in the 1700s, and one wonders if Fenrick disapproves of the way his freedom was won. Gandhi’s approach wouldn’t have been worth warm spit in the colonies in 1776, just as it would have been worth nothing in India in 1776.”

Fenrick: Respect and admiration for the United States have decreased into near extinction as we have sought over the last six years to impose the tyranny of our will on the people of the world.

“This statement borders on treason. This country acted in 2001 as the direct result of state-sponsored terrorism on American soil and began rooting it out in Afghanistan. This fight will continue for years and has nothing to do with ‘the tyranny of our will,’ whatever that is. There will be war in both Afghanistan and Iraq when the U.S. leaves, but at least Muslims will be fighting Muslims and not Americans, as was the case on 9/11 and in many other instances in especially the ’90s, when the Clinton administration was absolutely clueless and/or lacked the will to do anything. With regard to this nation’s will, Fenrick doesn’t understand that the U.S. could own vast portions of the world if it had the will to do so, most of it without even firing a shot. The U.S. could take over all the oil in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, for instance, if it wanted – without firing a shot, and no nation would rise up in opposition. This is not an aggressor nation, but God help us if leadership with Fenrick’s mentality should ever take office because it then would be defenseless. As for respect and admiration – who cares?”

Though hard to believe, Fenrick is only one of tens of thousands of academics who spout his drivel on a daily basis. He’s either another Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado nutcase afflicted with “cranial vacuum syndrome,” or just a hater of this country.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Obama/Clinton/Edwards Bloody Another Sunday

The trivializing of the elective process was exponentially enhanced over the weekend as Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, senators who should have more gumption, participated in “dueling churches” in Selma, Alabama. Endeavoring to “out-black” each other, with Clinton at a physical disadvantage except for author Toni Morrison’s label of Hillary’s husband as the “first black president,” they intentionally made African Americans into a political football to be tossed, tumbled, fumbled, and generally manipulated. Neither of them had the bona fides to be preaching in black churches…or in any churches.

The gullibility of blacks is taken for granted in this episode reported by the AP: “U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, who introduced Obama at a breakfast, and said blacks can tell their grandchildren they can be anything if Obama is inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, 2009. ‘The moment that he is standing there will mean that we have a country that is free,’ said Davis, D-Ala.” Davis is black but can’t seem to understand that his own success has already proven that the “country is free,” whatever that means, and has forgotten or never known that Obama is not the first African American elected to the Senate. In modern history, for instance, Edward Brooke, an African-American republican, served in the Senate in 1967-79.

Clinton credited the Civil Rights Movement for giving her the right to run for office, but didn’t mention that there are 90 women in Congress now and that they’ve been eligible to run for Congress for a long time. One wonders how long folks like Clinton will insist that women are a minority (like blacks) in a country in which more than half the population is female. The day was given over to recognizing “Bloody Sunday” of the 60s, so that was the tie-in. Clinton hadn’t even meant to make the scene until she learned that Obama would be in ’bama, then reckoned as how she would become a lay preacher for the day.

The televised clips showed the whole thing as the circus that it was. Obama, said by rival Senator Biden to be articulate, morphed into a Jesse Jackson speech-wise, easily sliding into such figures as saying “moveMENT” instead of “MOVEment,” as he ordinarily would. Clinton took on the “thunder from the mountain” style of John Kerry. Both came off looking as artificial as two clowns at a rodeo. Obama, easing into what he perceives as Alabama vernacular, came off as condescending, while Clinton just sounded silly. When she gets into her groove, most men shudder and appreciate that her fish-wifey brashness belongs to somebody else. When she raises her voice, she sounds like the “old woman” out in the kitchen railing at the dozen children who are her constant plague.

Perhaps Obama’s strangest stretch in remarking his bona fides in the “victimization-via-slavery” category was noting that the British called his grandfather a “houseboy” in Kenya. He had to so something, since his lineage is not blessed with the cruelties of plantation owners in Alabama. Clinton is stuck with a privileged upbringing in Illinois, but, of course, is married to that “first black president.” Obama also had a privileged upbringing, even including part of his education in Islamic schools. One wonders which god he will discuss when he visits Dearborn, Michigan, if ever, home of a large Muslim community. Will he orate in a mosque, for instance?

Most “experts” seem to think the whole ballgame will be over by next January, and that the only thing worth accomplishing now is the gathering of many greenbacks in order to fuel the campaigns with the mega-millions needed to fly around the country, make speeches others are paid to write, sling mud at the appropriate times and people, etc.

John McCain announced his candidacy on the Letterman show, an indication of how trivial the whole thing is. But he had to match – perhaps, he thought – Senator Dodd, who made that same earth-shaking announcement on the “Imus in the Morning” clambake, uttering his wisdom amongst the Imus vulgarities. Perhaps Al Sharpton will announce on the Oprah Winfrey or Montel Williams sob-fest and claim genuine bona fides connected to the (gasp) recent claim that a Strom Thurmond distant relative owned one of his forbears. Good grief!

Meanwhile, John Edwards was out in Berkeley, California, over the weekend, where the AP had this to say: “Democratic presidential contender John Edwards on Sunday called a janitors' campaign for better wages at the University of California, Berkeley, a continuation of the civil rights struggle that began in the 1960s.” Egad! It was “Bloody Sunday” alright, with the truth absolutely being slaughtered by these three “front-runners.”

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, March 02, 2007

St. Julian the Dragon-Killer

So…State Senator and former governor Julian Carroll thinks Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence should resign account of disloyalty to Governor Fletcher. Pence says he was elected and certainly will not resign, while Carroll thinks he was “picked” and not elected and should even refund his salary at least back to June of last year. If memory serves, Pence’s name was on the ballot in 2003, so it would seem he actually was elected. If Fletcher should become incapacitated again or die, Pence could hardly be expected to give up the job he would then have. Neither would Carroll under the same circumstances.

This is what Carroll said about Fletcher in 2005: "He turns out to be the biggest deceiver that we've had in the governor's office in my lifetime. Rather than a believer, he's truly a deceiver." Carroll also said this: "Certainly the General Assembly should hold hearings on whether or not his conduct in the granting of these pardons is conduct that rises to the level of consideration for impeachment." Never happened, of course.

Back when Carroll was governor, the lieutenant governor ran separately, as Carroll did in 1971 when he was elected lieutenant governor and former governor/senator Wendell Ford was elected governor. So, the governor had to be on the lookout then, lest a political enemy (or friend, for that matter) in the second spot do damage when the head honcho was out of state, something allowed by law. In fact, in those days the lieutenant governor could even be a member of the “other” party, as was the case 1967-71 when Republican Louie Nunn was governor and Democrat Wendell Ford was lieutenant governor.

In fact, when Carroll was governor and decided to leave the state at one time in 1978, Lieutenant Governor Thelma Stovall convened the legislature and rammed through a tax-cap law that prohibits taxing agencies from automatically raising taxes by more than something like four percent without benefit of facing a referendum. She also vetoed the passage of the legislature’s action in voting down the so-called federal Equal Rights Amendment. Her veto was overridden, however…but the tax-cap stood.

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

There were rumblings last year about a possible Carroll run for the governor’s seat again. This is what Bill Bartleman of the Paducah Sun wrote in May 2006: “If he ran statewide, opponents would open Carroll’s political closet and remind voters of the massive five-year federal investigation of his administration that resulted in numerous accusations, but only one indictment of a close political adviser. While Carroll can defend himself since he was never charged or indicted, questions about cronyism and possible borderline activity would make plentiful campaign fodder.”

Lieutenant Governor Carroll ascended to the governorship in 1974 when Governor Ford resigned to take the Senate seat vacated by Republican Senator Marlowe Cook, whom Ford had just defeated in his own Senate bid. Cook stepped down early, thereby giving Ford extra seniority, a magnanimous gesture. There had to be a deal, of course, with Carroll agreeing to appoint Ford to the Senate, after Ford’s resignation from the governorship, in order to take Ford’s place. This also gave Carroll a leg up on the gubernatorial election in 1975, which he easily won.

Concerning his statements about Pence’s disloyalty, etc., Carroll said: “It was something I felt needed to be done. Someone needed to address this. Quite frankly, I thought I had the credentials to do it.” What a joke, notwithstanding Pence’s strange behavior. He took flight from the ticket last summer while Governor Fletcher was out of state. He should realize more than anyone else – as a former prosecutor – that the Merit matter should have gone the usual “Ethics Committee” route, not through the attorney general’s office.

A-G Stumbo had already proclaimed long ago his considering to run for the governorship if Fletcher became “unpopular,” then proceeded to guarantee that he would become unpopular. Stumbo is settling for second chair, assuming success – actually a long-shot at this point. If he couldn’t be supportive by telling it like it is, Pence should have at least shut up and certainly not started actively campaigning against the governor…perhaps with another state job in sight if Northup should be successful – an even longer long-shot.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark