Thursday, April 26, 2007

UK and the "Domestic Partners"

The trustees of the University of Kentucky have just voted to make the “Domestic Partner” benefits available to its employees, including staff along with the faculty and administration. Since the university is a state-authorized and state-supported institution, i.e, licensed and funded in largest part by the taxpayers, it is subject to the laws of the state as derived from the State Constitution. This places it in the same category as all other state agencies, the obvious conclusion to be drawn being that the tens of thousands of employees in those agencies may expect to receive the same treatment, if it is legal.

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, the domestic-partner issue has to do with cadging currently unauthorized perks from a citizen-owned institution/agency those 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 (about 3 to 1) 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. The same is true for non-married cohabitating couples, known more familiarly as “shack-ups.”

The constitutional amendment actually was unnecessary since state statute already made the same requirement, but the legislators, acting upon the overwhelming insistence of their constituencies, felt there would be no hassle with regard to the provisions of the statute if it was made incontrovertible through making it constitutionally inviolable. The trustees of both the University of Louisville, which began this perk in January, and the University of Kentucky have chosen to place their institutions above the law, a sort of in-your-face, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum of arrogance fashioned to let the citizenry (the great unwashed) understand its inferiority vis-à-vis the enlightened elite and its inability to exert its will upon that self-appointed elite.

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. 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.

Since the university is striving to become known as a bona fide “research” institution on a par with the best of them, it would naturally look to the data to enforce its position vis-à-vis the “brightest and best.” Thus far, it has produced no data that even addresses the subject of superiority/inferiority with regard to sexual preference or non-marital status as applied to academic/research employee-capabilities. This being the case, it identifies itself as sub-top-twenty in the sense that it makes its regulations without benefit of information, either qualitative or quantitative. The ridiculousness of this is palpable.

Detractors are often accused of a stance involving religion and the Bible’s clear-cut denunciation of homosexual behavior and fornication/adultery. This is not the case. The statements here concern cold, hard facts having nothing to do with religion. This is purely a civil matter addressed legislatively and at the ballot box. It can be said (and should be), however, that the traditional family unit is the backbone of the society, and that the teachers of young people should reflect that obvious, well-documented fact, not destroy it. By any standard, homosexual behavior, besides being aberrant, is also unacceptable as a matter of health, emotional and physical. Couples unwilling to reflect family as worthy of commitment thereby state that mutual manipulation, rather than commitment solidified by the marriage contract, present the wrong model. In any case, the citizens should not condone their antisocial behavior and reward them in any way, especially with taxpayer funds already categorized constitutionally.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Facing of Death

One wonders why today’s generation has such a problem with death, especially death of one considered “too young” or “too good” or “too anything.” The recent deaths at Virginia Tech bring the subject front and center again as similar instances of massacres in the past are replayed in the media, with the same exasperation regarding the necessity to bring about “closure,” usually by finding someone or some institution to blame.

This is not to disparage the grief expressed by a whole nation’s citizens in the VT matter, not to mention those directly affected such as parents and other relatives of the dead, but to remark that the notion that death and unhappiness seem unacceptable to the “now” generation. This is graphically seen every night in the newscasts as the media keeps count of the ones who have fallen in the war on terror and talk-show hosts such as John McLaughlin present a morbid accounting every Friday night, complete with humongous fatality-estimates regarding Iraqi civilians, the intention apparently being to account this nation as one big murderer.

A young man – probably deranged, though no one will ever know – took the lives of 32 people for no reason, since no reason for what he did is possible. He did it because he decided to do it. That explanation doesn’t bring comfort to parents, just as parents are not comforted when a drunk driver – for no reason – kills their child. Those killed happened to be in a killing field, whether at a university or on a highway, through no fault of their own. Some years ago, a drunk in northern Kentucky driving the wrong way on a four-lane highway slammed head-on into a church bus returning youngsters from a day at an amusement park and managed to kill 27 people and horribly burn others, while he was hardly affected. They happened to be in a killing field that night…no reason to die…but they did.

In 1982, there were 26,173 people killed in traffic deaths caused by drunk-drivers. That was 72 per day or well over twice the number killed at VT. In 2005, the traffic-deaths caused by drunks totaled 16,885, or 46 per day. Strangely, there was no outpouring of grief over drunks-induced traffic deaths on any day, and John McLaughlin did not bother to keep score, though they were caused by insensitive people with absolutely no reason to kill, the same as the circumstance at VT. Yet, there is an ongoing reaction in Blacksburg, Virginia, that will go on for weeks and then be revisited for years, just as the Columbine killings a few years ago.

The religious fundamentalist will say that death occurs just the way and at just the time God decided before he created the world, yet cautions people against doing bad things that could lead to their deaths. That’s his way of not taking any responsibility for anything that happens, without understanding the obvious contradiction. The atheist says, “no God, no reason, no reality, no nothing,” but rails against Christians for believing something, as if that should make a difference to them since it changes nothing. Others, whether religious or not, state the obvious, namely, that mankind has free will and has a lot to say about death, taxes, and everything else. These people mourn with a reason, but realize that answers will not be found to the killing fields anywhere this side of death itself, assuming another opportunity on the other side to discover the answers.

None of this is to say that there shouldn’t be grief when a loved one dies, or that there will ever be “closure” in the sense of understanding the mystical, the unknowable. During the1,642 actual days of combat in World Wars I and II (4.5 years), an average of 320 Americans died every day…10 times the number at VT on just one day out of decades in Blacksburg. Back home, people understood as well as they could. The deaths resulted from actions taken by German leaders who were unbelievably wicked or crazy or both…no reason for the killing fields, just as at Blacksburg, assuming the young killer was mad, seemingly the case as proven posthumously by his own account, or just plain evil.

During the Korean Conflict in 1950-53, an average of 35 Americans died every day for 1,095 days. In the long nightmare of Vietnam (7.5 years), 21 GIs died every day…2,737 days. Think of the Civil War – 340 dead per day for 1,460 days. The deaths happened to people from all over the country and were the results of madness and evil, but there was no racking, continuing vigil or ceremony in the capital, Washington, D.C., on those days…just the facing of the fact.

The counselors descended on VT in Blacksburg, as they do in any town at a high school when a student has been killed in a car wreck, an accident. This didn’t used to happen. The notion seems operative that young people or all people just have to have help in “getting through it,” as if death isn’t as much a part of life as life itself – an absolute even more certain than life. Surely this generation is not so fragile that its members cannot accept death – no matter the horrific circumstances and lack of reason – as a matter of course and, without a lot of folks weeping, hugging, and encouraging them to be upset, just dry their tears, attend or tend to the rites, and get on with their lives.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Democrat Debate

The democrat “debate,” actually a bit of campaigning, just as was the republican “debate” a week before, that took place on KET-TV 16 April featured seven candidates questioned by two newsman for two hours. I listened to the first hour but very little of the second, figuring, on the basis of the repetition already displayed, that it would be mostly a rehash, though I did get in on some of the gasoline-tax discussion. Gatewood Galbraith made his pitch to the common folks – the moms and pops – and promised leadership to rescue the party. He had the guts and the gumption to expose KERA for the sham that it is, blasted “no child left behind,” and insisted that education must be better funded, citing a decrease of eight points from a few years ago.

House Speaker Jody Richards promised to bring vision, plan, leadership, and integrity to the office. He decried the system of hiring and firing every four years that has been in place as a matter of course, apparently not realizing that he was slamming his own party in no uncertain terms. He didn’t explain why a “merit bill” was not passed this year, but slammed Senate President Williams in the pension matter. He spoke of importing drugs from Canada for seniors and lavished praise upon KERA while slamming NCLB. He was not for differentials in teachers’ pay but claimed they should all get a raise. His strangest suggestion had to do with establishing a “Principal Academy,” apparently not familiar with what principals went through in both classes and huge notebooks soon after the passage of KERA in 1990.

Otis Hensley didn’t say much, but made it clear that he is against legalizing any more gambling enterprises, that the legislature should get rid of KERA, and that teachers should be paid uniformly.

Bruce Lunsford did for this session what fellow millionaire Billy Harper did in the republican session, namely, extol the value of having a businessman in the governor’s chair. He made no opening speech, preferring a moment of silence for those in the Virginia Tech tragedy. Strange. Gatewood accused him of not knowing which party he’s in, and that was the best line of the evening. Lunsford promised to make jobs, said he is not against raising cigarette taxes, praised KERA and slammed the legislature for hurting it.

Steve Beshear acknowledged the administration as the “amateur hour” or something like that and extolled his experience as legislator, attorney general, and lieutenant governor. He said he would surround himself with the best people and strengthen the merit system. He slammed the pardons, mentioning four years, which was strange, since that took in part of the Patton era, in which a democrat governor pardoned four men charged with felonies. Maybe he meant to do that. He was for no new taxes, but expressed support for more gambling. He said gaming proceeds are needed for funding education, but did not mention that this was supposed, at one time at least, to be the purpose of the lottery. That didn’t happen, of course.

Jonathan Miller was the self-appointed pit bull, making much of his opportunities, a la Northup a week earlier, to hurl invective at Governor Fletcher. He said there needed to be less conversation and more action. He accused Fletcher of criminally assaulting the merit system, made the strongest outcry for more gambling (in this case, in behalf of funds for health care), and declared that KERA must be changed, including installing all-day kindergarten.

Steve Henry was the best speaker and called attention to himself as a husband, father, and physician. He made pitches for help for the veterans and mentioned that Governor Patton’s great cabinet was 40% republican, probably not realizing the boost he was giving the wrong side. He seemed to be making the point that he could manage a non-partisan government. He spoke of health-saving-plans and favored all-day kindergarten.

Probably all but Hensley would like to see increased gambling come to the state. The consensus was that education is in bad shape, and some of the candidates actually put their fingers on the problem – KERA, probably the worst legislation of the last century. The consensus was that more money needs to be thrown at education, the usual fix-all whenever the problem is mentioned. One hopes that some day a candidate will simply declare that a disciplined, standardized, structured statewide program of education must be brought on line and that not even that will solve the problem until parents consider realistically the importance of education and discipline their children in behalf of their accomplishing learning.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus - "Send in the Clowns!"

Americans usually respond to adverse circumstances by going overboard, such as in the cases of death, wounding (both physically and verbally administered), or even in routine events such as winning an important game or election. Upon reflection, people often realize just how “overboard” they’ve been in their reactions to a given circumstance but understand that emotions/actions cannot be reconfigured, no matter how silly they sometimes make people appear.

As the dust settles with regard to the recent “Imus debacle,” there’s reason to take a look at some of the circumstances surrounding it. At the outset, it needs saying that what Imus said (referencing a small group of women athletes as “nappy-headed hos”) was beyond the pale. The fact that it was no surprise coming from an entertainer whose milieu is that of a “shock-jock” doesn’t mitigate the fact that Imus went too far, but he’s paid to insult, does it quite routinely no matter the objects of his attention, ranging all the way from the unknown to the highest-profile folks in the world. The head honchos at NBC/CBS have been a part of his gig for many years and reaped mega-millions on his back. Only those without an understanding of his genre would pay his remark a second thought.

Actually, the highest-profile people seek out the Imus-attack, especially if they’re in the entertainment field, peddling a book, or running for election. Senator Chris Dodd, for instance, announced his presidential candidacy on the Imus show earlier this year, genially accepting any barbs, no doubt realizing them to be worth their weight in gold – free publicity at a time when presidential politics is a mega-million-dollar industry. That’s called manipulation.

The Imus show has not been watched in this corner, the total time spent on it probably not more than an hour in total, but a revisit of the speech Imus gave at the Radio/TV Correspondents annual clambake in March 1996 indicates just how crude, vulgar, and obscene he can be. Notwithstanding that, the very people he lambasted at that meeting are the types who gladly visit his program, coming back for more of the same. They enjoy the world of the “shock-jock” and don’t mind being a part of it. Some of them – politicians especially – think nothing of Imus’s barbs, since they think nothing of publicly calling the president or anyone else a liar whenever it suits their fancy…a sort of “no-guilt-by-association” thing.

Leading the pack of wolves after Imus’s carcass are The Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev Jesse Jackson, each of whom has a syndicated radio program, Sharpton’s handled by some of the same outfits that handle the Imus thing. If he had said about a group of white women athletes that they are “honky whores,” nothing much would have been said about it. He might have experienced a bit of criticism, but most folks would have said that he was “just being old Rev. Al” – just another “shock-jock” doing his thing. The truth is, however, that in the politically correct climate of today, racist remarks are considered racist only if they are uttered by white people. This is the lesson to be learned from the Imus thing.

The Rev. Sharpton, a well-documented liar, has castigated Imus to a fare-thee-well, but he libeled more than one law/justice department worker in the Tawana Brawley dustup in 1987-88, then actually ran for president after that, notwithstanding having to pony up cash for his vicious attack on those folks that emanated from a complete hoax. His remarks/actions at any time, no matter how inflammatory, are not racist because he isn’t white.

According to NBC5/WMAQTV, Chicago, 09 April: "NBC must choose between Imus and the rest of us," said The Rev. Jesse Jackson as he protested with 50 others outside Chicago's NBC Tower Monday. "The rest of us are going to organize a boycott until they make a choice." The Rev. Jackson is well documented as having made one of his female workers into a “nappy-headed ho” himself, then used funds from his tax-exempt Rainbow Coalition treasure-trove of cash to buy her and their illegitimate child (determined by DNA, of course), as reported in, January 24, 2001, a $365,000 house; and for her somewhere between $3,000 and $10,000 a month to live on; $20,000 for moving expenses; and $15,000 in advance for “consulting.” Jackson can call Imus anything he likes or attempt to have him fired because, not being white, he is never being racist, not even when he called Jews “hymies” and New York “Hymietown.” He has run for president twice – beats working.

Imus’s fellow entrepreneurs and handlers are deserting him now, shutting down his TV show on MSNBC and his radio show on CBS – actually putting him out of business. His friends – though acceding to his “shock-jock” antics for many years and happily being a part of them – are deserting him in droves. Some might call this sort of going overboard. It is…and particularly so because his high-profile detractors – the revolting reverends, Sharpton and Jackson – are so slathered in sleaze themselves that they should crawl back under the rocks and shut up now. Those high-profile politicians and celebs who have used Imus through the years to advance their endeavors surely see themselves as the hypocrites they are.

Here is the delicious irony, as noted on MSNBC on 12 April: The news came down in the middle of Imus’ Radiothon, which has raised more than $40 million since 1990. The Radiothon had raised more than $1.3 million Thursday before Imus learned that he lost his job. The event benefited Tomorrows Children’s Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch. Disgusting!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Republicans Debate/Campaign

The debate – not actually, just more campaigning – that took place on KET among the republican gubernatorial hopefuls on 09 April was not an exercise that would “captivate” an audience, certainly, but it served a useful purpose in that it provided the vehicle for allowing a voter to remark the differences in the candidates. Latitude was taken with the facts in some instances by Governor Fletcher and former Congresswoman Anne Northup, but this is always expected. Businessman Billy Harper played it pretty straight. The interrogators were Bill Bartleman of the Paducah Sun and Patrick Crowley of the Kentucky Enquirer.

As expected, there probably are few differences among the three with respect to the issues. None approved of casino gambling and made that plain. All three spoke at length about education but produced little more than clichés about the need to make it better. The issue that should have been discussed was the suggestion made recently by some entity and endorsed strongly by the Lexington Herald-Leader that math and science teachers should be paid more than other teachers, since Kentucky students lag behind those in most other states in these study-areas. None seemed to have an answer to the “testing” problem.

None of the three saw fit to mention that Kentucky lags behind in education after 16 years of being operated under the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, a nightmarish mixture of pork with pedagogy all tied up in the largest tax increase in the state’s history at that time. None even mentioned that legislatures through the years have rescinded much of the act but have done nothing to improve education. None of the candidates had anything new to say regarding the subject, but all agreed that something has to be done.

The loaded question came early in the evening when the question was asked as to whether or not the candidates believed any fellow-candidate had misbehaved. This was the cue for Ms. Northup to lash out at the governor in no uncertain terms, citing the particulars of the “merit scandal,” noting that blanket pardons had been granted, and lamenting that the facts would never be known since no trials had been or would ever be held.

Governor Fletcher insisted, as he has all along, that the effort by Attorney General Greg Stumbo in that matter was a “witch-hunt,” proven by the fact that Stumbo has entered the gubernatorial sweepstakes as the number-two guy on a democrat ticket. Stumbo, of course, long ago stated publicly that he would consider a candidacy if Fletcher became “wildly unpopular.” He was probably wise in going the lieutenant governor route to get the top job, since he hasn’t looked all that good in the merit thing himself. Also, he can ride on millionaire Bruce Lunsford’s financial coattails, thus dodging the pesky business of fund-raising.

Northup brought up the usual “blacktop gimmick” used in every race by a wannabe to color the incumbent as a con man bribing voters by building roads in their sections during election times. Using the golden opportunity she handed him, Fletcher listed some of those projects, even emphasizing one in deep-democrat country in the western end of the state. Harper is a contractor, part of whose business is building roads, so he predictably didn’t harp on the subject. In fact, he stayed away from mudslinging, leaving that up to Northup, who made a pretty good effort at it.

Crowley, strangely, seemed to try to make the case for casino gambling, throwing out the suggestion that the revenue it would generate would be worth going that route. The numbers batted around differed by the hundreds of millions. Northup and Harper turned him aside completely, though Fletcher repeated his position that if the legislature enacted a casino amendment-proposition to be put on the ballot, he would not stand in the way, letting the citizens decide. He made it plain he would not be for it.

The most grating thing in the nearly hour-long program was Northup’s constant use of the terms “leadership” and “plan.” She used these terms sort of as a mantra, no matter the subject, making it plain that Fletcher had damaged the party and, at least inferentially, could not hope to be elected, and that he is a man without a plan, apparently for most everything. Harper played it cool on the subject, though, if memory serves, Fletcher’s “not-a-chance” was perhaps the primary reason he gave last year for his getting in the race.

Stridency best describes Northup’s performance. The target of her barbs was Fletcher, though she presented no “plans” in the process. Harper was kind of laid back and harped constantly that his being a businessman was the reason he should be elected. Fletcher was upbeat and able to tick off a number of accomplishments during his administration, not the least of which has been turning a sizeable deficit into a sizeable surplus in three years time. He also made it a point to mention how he has helped Louisville, Northup’s home-base.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark