Monday, July 30, 2007


The old cat-and-mouse game is alive and well in Washington, where it crops up as a daily feature in the Congress. Whereas the cat usually depends on superior speed and size to waste the mouse, the Washington version depends on perjury – or the threat of perjury – as the weapon of choice used by either a congressional committee or committee chairman using a battery of lawyers, gofers, aides, researchers, informants, media types, and probably rest-room attendants and chauffeurs to furnish the muscle (information). The ultimate ammunition for the weapon of choice includes the subpoena and the "contempt of congress" missiles designed to either imprison bureaucrats or scare them into submission. The motive is always the same – REVENGE – and the instructive term is GOTCHA.

The most recent high-profile c&m exercise was the sham investigation conducted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent some multi-years ostensibly trying to hang the leaker of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity/name, all the while knowing who the leaker was – Deputy State Secretary Richard Armitage (by his own admission), who apparently was given immunity from the get-go so that Fitzgerald could hang a perjury charge – or any charge – on somebody in the administration, preferably Vice President Cheney, with presidential aide Karl Rove as a second choice. Rove appeared before Fitzgerald or his grand jury FIVE times in Fitzgerald's effort to hang a perjury charge on him, but Fitzgerald finally did the best he could – successfully engineered a perjury conviction on "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's right-hand man. The perjury – if indeed such was proven – had nothing to do with Valerie Plame, and President Bush rightly commuted Libby's sentence.

Senator "Leaky" Leahy, grand inquisitor of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Congressman John Conyers, his counterpart in the House, are hot on the heels of anybody connected to the White House. Leahy has awarded subpoenas so far to Harriet Myers and Sara Taylor, former administration officials, and Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings, current White House aides. All kinds of documents have been subpoenaed, and President Bush has declared "executive privilege" with respect to everything. Taylor appeared before the LEAK's kangaroo court, claimed executive-privilege directives had been sent her by the White House, and generally gave the city's best-known congressional leaker the back of her hand.

Conyers is trying to get contempt charges passed by the House for Bush's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, along with Myers and RNC chairman Robert Duncan. Seen in this corner on C-Span the other day was a recital – in a committee meeting dedicated to fashioning contempt charges – by minority ranking member Lamar Smith of the claims of executive privilege, pardons, etc., by other presidents, especially Bill Clinton, that made contempt charges against anyone in the current administration ludicrous. Smith made it a point to mention that Clinton's executive privilege claims (or at least some of them) had to do with his and/or his wife's personal conduct (not to see the light of day), while Bush's have to do with governmental matters, as should be the case.

All of this has to do with the firing of eight or nine federal prosecutors, who serve at the pleasure of the president. A weird performance came from Senator Specter in the Taylor hearing. For reasons known only to himself, Specter mentioned that president Clinton fired all U.S. attorneys on one day, and that he could do so legally without giving any reason whatsoever. He then said that the question at hand had to do with the firing of U.S. attorneys for an "improper reason." How crazy can it get? If a president can fire a U.S. attorney for no reason, why does any reason matter – proper or improper? The reason for the hearings in this case is simple REVENGE. Neither the LEAK nor his partners in mischief give a fig about the prosecutors, who are probably earning much more now than when they were U.S. property. It's all about getting even.

Meanwhile, the LEAK and his gang had Attorney General Gonzales in for a bit of torture the other day, this time in yet another attempt at getting Gonzales to have a lapse of memory and commit perjury, a la Libby. On C-Span, this stuff is the best show in town. The LEAK and cohorts, among whom are Senators Biden, yet again a president wannabe, Durbin, Feingold, and Schumer, who badgered Gonzales, strongly intimating that he is a deceiver and should resign no later than yesterday. Gonzales takes it all in stride, being acutely accustomed to this frequent bloodletting, and tries to convince the senators of things that happened in 2004. That's the key to perjury possibilities – going far enough back in time to elicit "false" sworn testimony, thus causing someone to impeach himself just because he can't (or won't) remember. The LEAK has given Gonzales a chance to "revise" (i.e., un-swear, incredibly) his testimony…so stay tuned to the best show of the summer.

But the prize of the week for congressional posturing goes to Senator Feingold, who is about to submit – as he did last year – a resolution of censure with regard to the president. Censure as a noun is defined as: "a judgment involving condemnation." As a verb it's defined as: "to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy." Censuring happens not to come within the purview of the Congress, and most of the solons wish Feingold would stuff it. But, the fate of the nation is in the hands of a president deserving some sort of condemnation for acts upon which he is blameworthy, according to the good senator, who believes – certainly in this case – that the pot should call the kettle black. The LEAK surely will not go for this because it would remark his own inability to keep his own mouthing under control.

In a few more days the nation will be safer than now, since the lawmakers will – like the French – take August off, not returning until after Labor Day. Senators will slowly but only temporarily recover from their angst, and Schumer may stop frothing at the mouth by the ides of August. As for Feingold, that may take longer.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Baptist Covenant - Unraveling?

The New Baptist Covenant, a conglomeration of some 31 Baptist denominations in the U.S.A. and Canada, was conceived of and instituted earlier this year by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom claim to be Baptists, with Carter having been active in the Southern Baptist Convention until the 90s and still a Sunday School teacher in his home church. A convocation of the NBC is planned for next January in Atlanta. Among the speakers are Carter, Clinton, Bill Moyers, Al Gore, and Marian Wright Edelman, as well as a number from the religious community. Although it seems cast as a mini-democrat convention, republican senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley are also slated to speak, their only bona fides, one presumes, being that they're Baptists, though one also wonders about the "token" thing.

The themes for the plenary sessions of the convocation are: Unity in Seeking Peace with Justice; Unity in Bringing Good News to the Poor; Unity in Respecting Diversity; Unity in Welcoming the Stranger, and Unity in Setting the Captive Free. A bothersome snag has just been introduced into this mix of high-flown "unities," to wit, the information that Baptist denominations that are "welcoming" and "affirming" to homosexuals are not invited to the party. These terms generally mean the approval/sanctioning of such things as ordination to ministry of homosexuals and same-sex marriages.

Two of the uninvited denominations are The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. Members of the two bodies, however, can participate as individuals. A third denomination that is not participating is The Alliance of Baptists, currently consisting of over 120 congregations. Its head office is in Washington D.C. At its annual meeting in April 2004 in Dayton, Ohio, the Alliance adopted a "Statement on Same Sex Marriage" which: (1) Supports equality in marriage for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples throughout the U.S.; (2) Opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment which would restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Former president Carter is indelibly on the record as supporting state-sanctioned civil unions for gay couples. The Federal Marriage Amendment may never be enacted, but a multitude of states have already made such an amendment part of their state constitutions. So…since the NBC is actually a Carter clambake (Clinton describes himself as merely a cheerleader, whatever that means), how does this new gaggle of Baptists address the "Unity in Respecting Diversity" theme?

Carter and Clinton are part of the left in the Democrat Party, and the party (at least the left fringe) is practically mesmerized either by homosexuals or the homosexual vote. In his hearing the other day before Senator Ted Kennedy's Health Committee, Bush's nominee for the surgeon general post, Dr. James S. Holsinger, was lambasted at the very outset by Kennedy over a paper Holsinger wrote in 1991 for the United Methodists describing the harmful physical effects of male homosexual behavior. Three members of the committee, Senators Clinton, Obama, and Dodd, didn't show up for the hearing, but Obama and Dodd, without benefit of even examining Holsinger, had already publicly denounced him as a homophobe, real or potential.

The overwhelming consensus among Baptists is that homosexual behavior is totally unacceptable, sinful. They believe this because the Holy Bible is unmistakable in its absolute denunciation of homosexual practices, actually lumped in with those of such other perversions as bestiality. Homosexuality is excoriated in scripture just the same as fornication and adultery, sins of the worst kind with regard to family and its place in society, not to mention in the sight of God.

Carter, of course, knows this as a life-long Baptist and Bible scholar but has attempted – for whatever purpose – to form an organization of people who in the main absolutely disagree with him on this matter, an extremely important one that goes straight to the heart of the primary unit in society – the family. One wonders, then, what his actual purpose is in forming the NBC. He is also bound to know that the so-called "mainline" denominations have been wilting on the vine for decades trying to accommodate homosexuals in an official way, welcoming them already in worship and even membership but being terribly conflicted over ordination and same-sex unions, since scripture undeniably militates against both.

Against this backdrop is the pronouncement – probably his first – of far-left John Edwards, a self-described Methodist raised as a Southern Baptist, when he announced for the presidency last December, namely, that upon taking office, he would immediately mandate homosexual-acceptance in the military, something Bill Clinton tried as virtually his first official act in 1993, only to be turned around by the military itself. One wonders if Carter, using a religious group, is attempting to advance and gain respect for what is predominantly a democrat issue and among the most divisive, at that, especially in the South. This would be "pure" politics.

The NBC may be in for a bit of rough going, since most Baptist ministers probably are not looking forward to facing their congregations while admitting to having led them into an organizational/doctrinal quagmire involving one of the sorest – if not the sorest – problems in both denomination and the country itself currently. Indeed, homosexuals have taken on an importance far outweighing their position in the society, demanding to be pampered and pandered to even by folks who consider their behavior abominable and them, because of it, as, at least potentially, self-destructive.

So…the question remains regarding the New Baptist Covenant: "What's it all about…actually?"

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

KERA Comes Home

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader lead-editorial of 22 July, the "big whoosh you hear is the air rushing out of education reform." The editorialist then went on to condemn the current administration for much of the trouble, even though Governor Fletcher had nothing to do with the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, which has proven to be the penultimate vacuum, never having contained any "air" from the beginning that could now "whoosh." Largely a pork-barrel project damned by political perverseness in promulgating pernicious pedagogy, the Act was a curse from the beginning, based on the "outcomes education" concept, the quintessential goal being self-esteem, the be-all and end-all of education endeavor, with ignorance no hindrance to one's being "somebody."

Legislatures since the 90s have slowly discombobulated the Act, getting rid of such features as "reward money" for teachers already being paid to do their best. The teachers and administrators in many districts just falsified the records, copped the cash and felt no pain. The legislators decided in 1990 to combine kindergarten through 3rd-grade with the silly notion, apparently, that the third-graders could help the 5-year-olds learn. As a result, reading scores plummeted and teachers simply violated this silliness well before that part of the Act was – yep – un-legislated. Only 60% of fourth-graders read at grade level now. Imagine all those decades in the attempt to get rid of all one-room schools, and then having legislators reintroduce them! Go figure.

The paper was tough on the governor, but this is what one of the enactors of KERA, Walter Baker, was quoted as saying: "We've lost the kind of commitment and determination we had in 1990 with KERA and in 1997 with House Bill 1" (higher education legislation). Neither commitment nor determination has been a factor, since trying to support or advance the unsupportable always predisposes toward failure. The entire Act, especially the feature called "School-based or Site-based Council," should have been consigned to the trash-heap long ago.

KERA was demonstrably flawed from the beginning, a monster created as the result of primarily east-Kentucky school districts screaming for more state money in light of their being unwilling to do what other districts did – secure additional local funding. As a result – when the boondoggles were handed out – the districts whose citizens had cared enough to ante-up extra cash to have excellent systems were given the back of the state's financial hand, while millions went to other districts, with the result that education in much of east-Kentucky (allowing for the individual cream that always rises to the top) remains woefully bad, among the worst in the state, if not the nation. The tests prove this in spades. Adding buildings does not an education-system make.

The educational downward spiral has been in effect ever since the 90s, during the early part of which a gaggle of lawmakers (pedagogical geniuses?), including the House Speaker, were trucked off to jail. Except for the last three years, a democrat has been governor since 1971, and the House has been held by democrats forever. Blaming Governor Fletcher for any education problem is blowing smoke in billows sufficient to envelop the whole state in intense smog. The problem is the system, and until the entire philosophy of education has been changed, the problem will get worse, no matter who the governor is.

As it is, local superintendents are little more than overpaid bean-counters, without even the power to hire their own principals or install a standardized curriculum, i.e., if anyone remembers what that term means. Many, if not most, school-board positions are uncontested because local boards can do little more than hire a superintendent occasionally, a measure of their impotence, while absorbing blame from all sides for problems they can't fix. The KEA has one of the most powerful lobbies in the state and thus has a hammer-lock on everything…a recipe for disaster, since vested interests usually deep-six any endeavor.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hillbillies as Scenery

It would be interesting to have a look at the playbooks of the campaign managers of the democrat president wannabes (republicans, too, for that matter). One would expect the usual stuff – so-called "town meetings" in small New Hampshire villages, where boredom trumps some silly voter wailing about the children starving under the current administration; a photo-op of the candidate sitting on the floor of some first-grade schoolroom reading something from "Dick and Jane" (or maybe in today's liberated society, "How Dick Makes Out with Jane") and exhibiting physical pain in the process; or in some forsaken barnyard milking a cow, sitting amidst the stuff of campaigns.

The manager of John Edwards' campaign is a plagiarizer, just as guilty as Joe Biden was in 1988 in stealing that Irishman's speech while…yep…running for prexy. He's taken a page from the managers of Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, and Bill Clinton, probably among others. Already noted for his "Bobby Kennedy" haircut (last priced at $1,350 – $400 for the snipping and the rest for his barber's transportation), Edwards has further emulated the man who made buying a New York Senate seat while living somewhere else fashionable…the latest is Senator Clinton, she of the yellow pant-suit and the stentorian tones of John Kerry.

He's made the trek to east-Kentucky ostensibly to call attention to the poverty problem, but actually as a campaign ploy, since everybody knows about east-Kentucky poverty already, just by reading the newspaper and viewing the TV commentators, slack-jawed at realizing that some people drive pick-ups that are 30 years old, dip RedMan and make themselves into pre-atrophied-lung machines by smoking unfiltered Marlboros – the old cigarettes-before-food-for-the-kids thing.

Lyndon Johnson did the east-Kentucky barn-dance 'way back in campaign-year 1964, ostensibly pushing some sort of "poverty program," but, as everyone knew, just creating a nearly magical series of photo-ops. What catches the eye more stunningly than a row of falling-down shacks on a dusty road leading to Paintsville? Okay, the prexy patting the heads of little children on rickety porches while moseying as fast as possible to somewhere – anywhere – the AC is working.

Robert Kennedy's campaign guy opted for Prestonsburg in the election year of 1968. He added a visit to a – get this – one-room schoolhouse (Vortex, Ky.), certainly among the last in the nation, complete with coal-stove, metal non-asbestos-covered chimney (gasp – a definite fire-hazard) and a general atmosphere of February coolness, not the "hip" kind. The school had five students, all members of the same family – quite a statement…but Kennedy conducted a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower and Poverty there…all those suits and ties and those five poor kids. Cruelty!

Like Edwards now, Clinton did the one-year-before-the-election-thing for soul-mate and vice president Al Gore in 1999, not long after his impeachment by the House and merciful deliverance by the Senate. He showed up in the dog days of July and assaulted Tyner, Annville and Hazard with a loosened tie, sweat, and that "I feel your pain" look that most folks didn't catch, since they were having a big time, a lot of them (especially imbibers of spirits) feeling no pain at all, with the men just fantasizing about Monica. Also in the crowd was Jesse Jackson, maybe to advertise a boycott of all coal operators who didn't kick in a million or so for his organization, Rainbow-Push. Great theater!

Having launched himself on this trip from a backyard in New Orleans, his announcement venue of last winter (instead of the state that sent him to the Senate), Edwards added a new wrinkle by listening to tales of prescription drug-abuse apparently endemic only to Kentucky…what a laugh! Even though the makers of the most villainous drug, OxyContin (actually a miraculous pain-killer), have just paid over $600 million in fines (a millionaire liability-lawyer's daydream of glory that Edwards can appreciate), Edwards might have suggested that folks just say "no," or does he think east-Kentuckians are too dumb for that solution?

Edwards started out, with New Orleans as the backdrop, by blaming the government for not rebuilding the city in less than two years, a doomed crime-ridden cesspool residing right on the Gulf of Mexico – but at least six feet below it – and under the level of Lake Pontchartrain, with 23-foot levees that the Right Honorable, Reverend, Doctor, Imam Louis Farrakhan claimed the U.S. Government dynamited in 2005 to kill all the black folk. He then used Whitesburg and Prestonsburg in Kentucky as the backdrop for his "Bobby Kennedy Act." Now, it's back to that hovel in North Carolina – some two-thirds of an acre under roof. Shades of fellow millionaires Johnson, Kennedy and Clinton – cynicism and opportunism carried to the depths!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Infamous 1991 Document

The paper prepared for a United Methodist group in 1991 by Dr. James Holsinger, titled "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality," should be "must" reading for every high school class in which the subject of sex is discussed. One entire page of the seven-page treatise is necessary to remark the entire bibliography for this well-researched paper, accounting for its brevity and the fact that it's informational rather than empirical. This paper is the one that democratic senators on the Kennedy-chaired Health Committee used to batter the doctor in his recent hearing, strangely eliciting from him little by way of argument.

I've read the paper, and it brought back memories of the instructions and movies regarding sexually transmitted diseases mandated by the U.S. Navy for its sailors' knowledge and/or attendance. Holsinger, citing numerous sources and statistics, did a masterful job of boiling down massive amounts of information into succinct and easily understood terminology.

Holsinger is a distinguished professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and has held other important posts in the Health field, including head of the Health Department of Kentucky and chancellor of the UK medical school. The local newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, about as far left as a monopoly newspaper can get (and that is very far), has a dim view of Holsinger and ran a Washington Post (even farther left) editorial in its 20 July issue, in which the editorialist categorized Holsinger's paper as "prurient," rather than the scientific instrument it is. It seems doubtful that the editorialist had read the paper.

Even though plain common sense dictates that the jamming of an instrument – any instrument – into the rectum can be extremely harmful, not just in the destruction of tissue but in the spreading of various diseases in a very sensitive area, Dr. Holsinger outlined the makeup of bodily orifices from the biological and physiological standpoint, as well as the ease/violence with which they are violated physically, and also outlined how male and female reproductive organs complement each other, while male organs do just the opposite.

Dr. Holsinger not only remarked the complementary characteristics of the male and female organs, thus remarking the non-complementary characteristics of male and male organs, but took notice of the fact that the human body does not possess a cloaca, defined as "SEWER; the common chamber into which the intestinal and urogenital tracts discharge especially in monotreme mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and elasmobranch fishes." Obviously, using an organ designed for discharging excrement as a receptacle for receiving something from the urinary tract is not only unhealthy and unnatural, but is an assault upon the senses, not to mention common decency.

The same could be said for oral sex, another homosexual practice, though Holsinger was not asked to discuss that. The mouth is designed for, among other things, the intake of food and drink, but not the intake of a substance from the urinary tract, not to mention the impurities and diseases contained therein or the exposure to an instrument used to discharge bodily detritus. The human has no cloaca, thus no sewer for the mixing of substances necessary to discharge, thus the mixing of substances from the intestinal tract and the urinary tract are not to be intermingled as in either oral or anal sex, if, indeed, either is actual sex. Dr. Holsinger's point is well-taken here.

Moral decadence is always a signal remarking the weakening of the national fabric. As homosexual behavior or other deviations such as pedophilia and incest (even adultery and fornication) gain respect in the society, a fatal flaw is introduced. Dr. Holsinger pointed out part of that flaw, should be congratulated for it, and should be the next surgeon general, but only if he sticks by his paper. Kennedy's committee is almost certain not to report him out for a full vote, even though the surgeon general position has been vacant for a year, no matter what Holsinger does or does not do. For some strange reason, the solons seem to think the small homosexual-vote is important…or they (at least the democrats) think homosexuality is perfectly normal and the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unless he is willing to reject his own facts possibly just to get the position (unthinkable, from this man), Holsinger might get the vote, but don't bet the farm.

In the meantime, the suggestion is herein made that everyone read Holsinger's paper of 1991. It's an eye-opener. Ted Kennedy hates it and tried to trivialize it, so that should be another good reason.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oversight vs. Executive Privilege

Much is made these days in the Congress of the Congress's oversight responsibilities, especially regarding its oversight of the executive branch. Indeed, the main occupation – and certain preoccupation – in the various Senate and House committees seem to be issuing threats and subpoenas (or threat of subpoenas) to various members of the administration, especially those in the executive branch, including the Justice Department. The president often advances the "executive privilege" reason for not having members of his organization appear before the committees, and seems perfectly willing for the matter to go to the courts.

Heading the list of committee chairmen with respect to jerking in members of the administration for a bit of grueling "testimony" is Senator "Leaky" Leahy, head honcho of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Over in the House, the chief investigator seems to be Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a strange title that seems to indicate that the government is in constant need of reform. Leahy has just had "executive privilege" thrown in his face by former White House aide Sara Taylor, and Waxman has her scheduled for a dose of the same later this month. Taylor chose to respond to either a request or subpoena and submit to Leahy's questioning, structured to either get her to divulge privileged information which she had been directed not to make available, or trick her into committing perjury.

The Congress has done virtually nothing since becoming controlled by the democrats in January, who seem unable to decide what to do about anything, except argue about the war against terrorism, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Podunk Junction. The democrat solons can't even agree with each other. The recent all-nighter, complete with dormitories, was the penultimate pajama party, since everyone knew it was just a game. It represented the height of silliness, since the hard-working solons should not expect to sleep a wink when they consider the nation's business so grave as to require around-the-clock legislating. The republicans would have been well-served to have just slept-in at home and showed up for the morning vote, the nature of which was known before the pillow-throwing began.

The oversight thing seems to be a red herring anyway. The powers of Congress are spelled out in Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution. Oversight of the executive branch is not listed among those powers. The powers of the president are listed in Article II, and oversight of the Congress is not listed among them, although the president has the power to convene and dismiss Congress "on extraordinary Occasions." It would appear that the founders did not mean for either branch to put the arm on the other, but if they did, the nod would go to the president, not those characters trying at the present time to hang somebody, preferably Rove or Gonzales, but, absent that possibility, at least the custodian of the White House toilets.

This is the beginning of Section 1 of Article III of the Constitution: "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." This is part of Section 2 of Article III of the Constitution: "The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States… ." So…if Congress or any member of same has a grievance with the president/executive branch, it should be handled in the courts, and vice versa.

The alternative, of course, lies in the impeachment process, spelled out in Article I, Section 3. If Senator Leahy, for instance, can prevail upon House Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues to successfully pass a president-impeachment resolution (only a simple majority-vote needed) out of the House (as the House republicans did concerning Bill Clinton in 1998), he can then attempt to get 67 Senators to vote for conviction, which can only amount to removal from office. Even though Slick Willie was guilty of perjury, he was never indicted for same after he left office, so he walked.

Both Leahy and ranking committee member Arlen Specter routinely express often that they've been prosecutors…easy to believe in this last instance with Taylor. The prosecutor goes after the little fish, hoping to intimidate or gather information with which to leverage the little fish into their respective palms. Leahy couldn't nail Gonzales or Rove, so he went after Taylor and Harriet Miers, former White House counsel. Neither ladies is now in government, and Miers essentially told Leahy to take a hike. The reason: executive privilege, i.e., the insistence that Congress has no authority to investigate the other branches of government. Otherwise, the separation of powers would not be extant.

This seems simple enough – okay, too simple – maybe there's been a law passed that indicates otherwise. If not and Congress does not cease and desist in its silliness, the president should inform his staff to immediately exert its oversight of the Congress and start sending out subpoenas, perhaps starting with Senate Majority Leader Reid, on the grounds of treasonous speech – subversive activity – regarding the Iraq War. That would be a hoot – Reid and 15 lawyers appearing before Bush and Cheney!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jodie & the St. Louis Blues

I heard on the radio some time this evening (maybe PBS) that Jodie Richards is leaving for St. Louis to find out if Mr. Peabody actually plans to steal all of Kentucky just like he stole Muhlenberg County (at least according to John Prine). The announcer said that Jodie had reserved seats on the plane (or Conestoga wagon or whatever) for Fletcher and Williams despite the fact that neither had accepted his invitation to make the scene with him.

Apparently, Jodie means to find out if the Peabody gang is serious about blasting away all the mountains in the East and digging up all the landfills in the West so that he can have a reason to call or not call his fellow House mischief-makers back for some deal-making if possible or some Beshear-campaigning if not. Of course, he'll find out that the Peabody earth-killers can't give him an answer because he can't offer them a proposition, a circumstance he made possible by taking his black diamonds and going home.

Of course, Jodie could strike a deal, but that sort of reminds of the time that a former Danville mayor instructed the city engineer to draw up the proper papers some years ago and proceeded to buy a farm in the name of the city. The deal never came off, of course, because the mayor didn't have the authority to do that. The mayor created a weird situation, but Jodie would be matching him for…lunacy…if he made any concrete overtures to Peabody, although that isn't likely to happen, since flatlanders have grave concerns about the places where they don't live.

Anyhow, revenue and jobs and job-benefits accruing to the state and its people from the mining and gasification of coal are small potatoes when compared to the gazillions of greenbacks to be gained from the gambling when Beshear and his bevy of croupiers and card-sharks constitutionalize the casinos of commonwealth conservation. Stay tuned…this is better entertainment than a "Leaky" Leahy-run congressional hearing (wackiness and mouth-frothing senate-slanders) and is especially appreciated in a long, hot summer.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Entertainment - Congressional Hearings!

I'm not a bona fide "hearings junkie," but occasionally I check in on C-Span or online to see what's happening in various congressional committees. This can be highly entertaining and can spice up this hot, drought-ridden summer, at least in Kentucky. It's hard to imagine – in light of such barefaced exposure – why some of the solons or presidential candidates are not more careful in what they say and in how they appear.

I checked in on the Senate hearing for Dr. Holsinger (surgeon general nominee) on Thursday. In his opening remarks, Chairman Ted Kennedy tore into Holsinger like a wild man and stopped just short of announcing to the world that Holsinger is a liar and a bigot. In the process, he made it clear that the only thing that mattered in Holsinger's job was homosexuality – not surprising from the senator from a state where men may marry each other.

I checked in also on the Senate Judiciary hearing chaired by Senator "Leaky" Leahy on Wednesday, the person on the hot seat being Sara Taylor, former White House honcho handling "political affairs." The lady, who does not work at the White House now but was told in a written directive from the White House not to answer questions subject to executive privilege, had been subpoenaed and was there to testify. Leahy, who was at least once forced to resign from some committee because he blabbed classified material (happened more than once, at least with sensitive matters such as the Achille Lauro thing) to the press or somebody, tore into her in his usual mouth-frothing way, obviously attempting to intimidate her. His habit is to accuse a witness of not answering his question right after the witness has answered his question. Go figure.

The democrat-controlled Congress has done virtually nothing since becoming the majority in January but hold hearings in an effort to hang somebody – apparently anybody – in the Bush administration. Besides Leahy, Congressman Waxman seems to spend all day in hearings. So far, no luck. The worst thorn in the democrat flesh is the inability to get rid of Rove or Gonzales, and so now just any lower hireling is fair game, thus poor 30-something Ms. Taylor, whom Leahy or some other committee clown(s) (choose one on his committee – Biden, Durbin, Shumer, Feingold, among others) seem to have as the main goal tricking someone – anyone – into some form of perjury.

There were some funny things in both hearings. Senator Mikulski (who may hate all men) appeared as a large frog about to clomp on a poor, defenseless Junebug, this one being Holsinger, whom she let it be known from the outset was deaf and dumb with respect to sexual harassment (are these committee-folks obsessed with sex and deviancy?). Senator Murray seemed to want Holsinger to approve fornication in the high schools (that condom/abstinence/hormone-uprising thing), but he disappointed her and said he would mention (gasp) condoms.

The weirdest performance of the day came from Senator Specter in the Taylor hearing. For reasons known only to himself, Specter mentioned that president Clinton fired all U.S. attorneys on one day, and that he could do so legally without giving any reason whatsoever. He then said that the question at hand had to do with the firing of U.S. attorneys for an "improper reason." How crazy can it get? If a president can fire a U.S. attorney for no reason, why does any reason matter – proper or improper? To his credit, Specter pointed out that if the "executive privilege" question went to the courts, a decision would not be rendered for at least two years. By that time, nobody will remember anything, the administration will gone, and "Leaky and the gang" will still be frothing at the mouth for nothing.

To contemplate the ignorance of some of these solons, consider Kennedy's reference to a hearing the day before in which three former surgeons-general regaled the committee with accounts of White House interference on the part of a number of presidents, but especially George Bush (the Carmona thing). The committee person demanded to know what Holsinger, if put upon by the White House, would do. He said he would attempt to educate the White House, but that, absent success, he would resign. That's the answer the questioner was forcing and dreading, but apparently it had not dawned upon Kennedy that none of the other surgeons-general had resigned in protest, meaning that what they had to say was suspect or that they were too opportunistic and self-serving to do what Holsinger said he would do, i.e., the honorable thing. So, Kennedy deep-sixed the very men he was holding up as paradigms for withstanding White house pressure. Strange.

Any time things get slow, just check in on the hearings. The self-serving speeches, posturing, campaigning, and general nuttiness will be entertaining, if not very enlightening. I'm still laughing at the memory of dropped-jaw Senators Kennedy, Biden, Schumer, Feingold, and Durbin sitting behind those piles of documents, with aides feeding them words to say and notes to read, in the Roberts and Alito SCOTUS hearings, while their targets had not even a notepad.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Stumbo/UK D-P Fiasco

One had only to look at page A9 in the Lexington Herald-Leader of 08 July to get an idea as to where Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo might have found the beautiful plan he presented to the University of Kentucky honchos for the purpose of making legal the obviously Constitutionally-illegal granting of "domestic partner" benefits to UK employees. Coincidentally, his take seems to be about the same as that of Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the appellate court has ruled the city's d-p arrangement illegal. It most likely will rule the new Kalamazoo plan illegal, too, as will the courts in Kentucky.

By extension, of course, all those d-p perks, if allowed at UK, would be available to all workers employed by the state of Kentucky (thus "busting" the budget), since they enjoy the same privileges as the UK folks, all of them being employees of the state. Last year, however, a federal appellate court in Nebraska upheld an amendment that prevented d-p benefits for government employees in that state. Many states have passed so-called "marriage amendments" to their constitutions in recent years, especially in light of actions of such states as Massachusetts, where men may marry men, as absurd as that is. Indeed, in the Lexington Herald-Leader section of marriage announcements a few days ago, there was a picture of two men – along with honeymoon mention – who had just gone to Canada and married each other.

The problem is an old-fashioned one, even in light of divorce rates, blended families, wholesale abortions…the whole nine yards. People still place a premium on marriage, even though they don't keep their vows a good part of the time. They're not ready yet for two people to simply have the right to say they're married or have the right to the specific entitlements accruing to married couples without placing their signatures on the dotted line and documenting their responsibility, as well as the rights, attendant upon the marriage commitment. This is especially important with regard to children.

In the Stumbo plan outlined a few days ago in the paper, about all two folks have to do – but never in writing or any sworn document such as an affidavit – is affirm that they've been shacked-up for a year and jointly own a car and a dog. The partner can then wander around most anywhere while collecting all the perks.

The significance of Stumbo's actions is alarming. He could have circulated his opinion long before the University of Louisville inaugurated this illegal windfall last January, placing that university in the position of possible lawbreaking. He could have done the same before the UK action. The amendment governing the matter was passed overwhelmingly in 2004, but virtually since becoming attorney general in 2004, Stumbo has had his name in the election pot for this year – as a governor candidate. He was careful to remain quiet.

Stumbo settled, finally, for the second spot but on the drastically wrong millionaire's ticket. Having suffered defeat in May, as well as ruling out the a-g spot by not running again, he became free of political entanglements and could therefore make the lame-duck ruling about the d-p thing. This sort of thing represents hypocrisy/cynicism/opportunism/dishonesty and outright malfeasance carried to a new level of sordidness. That the state's top law enforcement official would stoop to this level of self-serving is beyond the pale.

A newer low was achieved when Stumbo then carried to the university his "new" plan that would skirt the requirements of the Constitution…making use of a perceived loophole, which, supposedly, he found. He might have gotten away with this with respect to an ordinary legislative foul-up in structuring a law, but he will not get away with it vis-à-vis the very direct and unmistakable language of the "marriage amendment" passed by all the people in a statewide referendum and made concrete-hard as a Constitutional matter. The only people to be more thoroughly criticized are on the boards governing the universities. Their elitism in this instance is simply galling, and their insistence that homosexuals (brightest and best) simply must be attracted to deal with impressionable young people is appalling.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, July 07, 2007

To Obstruct or Not To Obstruct -- Richards

It's sad to see the current trivialization of the governmental process in Kentucky. Governor Fletcher may or may not be right in calling a special session to handle the possible tax-break issue for potential installers of fuel-from-coal-processing plants. Speaker Richards may or may not be right in his assessment of the need for a special legislative session to do now what it could do in the regular session in January. The sadness derives from each side claiming the other to be functioning entirely within the "political" process, with an eye toward the November balloting, instead of "doing the people's business," as the legislators so often mouth, turning the phrase into a hackneyed cliché.

Taking their marbles and going home, the democrats in the House they control – thus shutting down business – displayed the schoolyard mentality of the fourth-grader. The republican-controlled senate operates as usual…but within a vacuum of sorts. This is from the Louisville Courier-Journal of 22 June: "There's no promise that if we pass these incentives that anybody will come," House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, told reporters after Fletcher's remarks. "We don't have any real details, and I don't think our members are inclined to want to come to a special session right now."

There's also no promise that "anyone will not come," although it seems obvious enough that the incentives may be the deciding factor. It seems perfectly obvious, too, that if the tax-breaks are enacted and "no one comes," there's no harm done. In this scenario, the state's not out any money (except for the session), but there could be great good accomplished (think Toyota, not chicken plants) if the desired plants (except as assessed by the Green-Peace crowd) should come. This seems so elementary that the obvious conclusion is that Richards doesn't want the governor to receive credit for a good thing – in other words, politics as usual, besides being an insult to one's intelligence.

There's also the matter of ending the session, which Richards seems to think he's done. Article 41 of the Constitution would seem to indicate that he can't do that, though there will be the inevitable argument about what is meant by "General Assembly," i.e., does "special session" fit the definition of "General Assembly." Anytime the legislature is called to order, it would seem to automatically become the "General Assembly." If not, exactly what is it? Richards would have looked much smarter if he had simply participated, brought about the defeat of the governor's proposition, as well as anything else proposed (the "domestic partners" issue, for example, which will be settled in the courts anyway), and then packed up and gone home.

Richards has a problem. If he gets his way and the industries are lost, he gets the blame. Perhaps that doesn't matter to him. He's been around a long time, is in line for a fine pension, and knows definitely by now that he will not be governor. If this scenario plays, Fletcher profits while the state loses, but his chances of success in November probably will not be affected much either way, though Beshear is essentially a one-issue campaigner – casinos at all cost – while a lot of Kentuckians take a dim view of more gambling and the guaranteed corruption it engenders.

In Washington, Congress will do essentially nothing until the election is over next year – except bluster and bluff and hold multitudes of hearings in an effort to hang Karl Rove and Cheney or anyone else it can trick into perjury. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers is apparently gearing up for hearings on pardons, commutations, whatever, although he may have second thoughts when considering the Clinton record regarding these things. In Frankfort, everything is on hold until the expected blessed event takes place for the democrats in November, while Fletcher tries to govern and campaign and Beshear is campaigning while counting the money to be made in the casino trade. Both places stink.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, July 02, 2007

Religious Left Finds a Home

One of the newest interest groups at work in the nation now is called the New Baptist Covenant, but it should be labeled the New Religious Left. Its innovative progenitors are former presidents and current politicians Carter and Clinton, not theologians or ministers as might be expected in an organization with such a name. The NBC was hatched earlier this year, with Mercer University President Bill Underwood as its "religious" partner, by some 80 or so representatives of Baptist denominations throughout the nation, and boasts 31 affiliated groups, along with five Baptist media outlets, with a total membership estimated at about 20 million congregants. Interestingly, the largest Baptist denomination by far, the Southern Baptist Convention with 16.3 million members, was not invited.

The NBC is reminiscent of something called the Clergy Leadership Network, brought on line about a year before the elections of 2004 in Washington, D.C., with its stated objective being the defeat of George Bush. It was registered not as a tax-exempt organization – though made up of clergy representing tax-exempt churches – but as a PAC, just like, a convenient dodge in case anyone should make a huge outcry concerning its obvious deviousness and violation of church-and-state connections. Its head honcho was former National Council of Churches official Albert Pennybacker, with Jesse Jackson and James Dunn among the members of its governing board, the latter a total puzzlement in that he had served as the head of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, a tax-exempt organization, for 18 years.

For all practical purposes, the Clergy Leadership Network had as its only goal the defeat of Bush, another way of remarking the defeat of the so-called religious right, considered by the CLN as one of his main bases. The NBC is a reincarnation of the CLN, except that it is made up of only Baptist organizations, at least at this point, with its main objective to be political, as in the case of the CLN, regardless of the objectives it has announced as themes for its first convocation next January, to wit, "Unity in Seeking Peace with Justice; Unity in Bringing Good News to the Poor; Unity in Respecting Diversity; Unity in Welcoming the Stranger; Unity in Setting the Captive Free."

The first three of the themes are the usual boilerplate pronouncements that accrue to political correctness. Peace, justice, care for the poor, and especially diversity are terms that have become hackneyed in this country, since the citizenry does pretty well by all the folks involved in the appropriate, allegedly disadvantaged groups through the auspices of both church and state and recognizing that many of the ills addressed are self-inflicted and that many of the resulting self-victims don't welcome help. The last two themes are puzzling, but perhaps further NBC information will describe the identities of the stranger to be welcomed and the captive to be set free in the freest and most generous nation in the world.

The keyword in the themes is "unity." As reported recently by Associated Baptist Press, Bill Leonard, a Baptist historian who is dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School, said, "Probably not since 1845 has this kind of effort [NBC] been made to bring together Baptists black and white … and of diverse theological and regional backgrounds, and that means it is terribly historic." Race, of course, is also at the center of the effort, at least as far as the well-intentioned participating religionists are concerned, as they continue to try to apologize for a slavery for which they were/are not responsible.

Leonard, a highly respected historian and an excellent speaker, knows quite well that Baptists have never agreed on many issues – certainly the theological and social ones – from time immemorial, much less just since 1845. Carter knows this up close and personal, having left the Southern Baptist Convention a few years ago because he DISAGREED with those in SBC leadership on theological issues. For instance, the SBC is absolutely intolerant of same-sex unions, but Van Gower, writing for Southern Voice in December 2004 said this: "Former President Jimmy Carter confirmed this week that he supports state-sanctioned civil unions for gay couples, in response to a letter from two veteran Atlanta gay rights activists and questions from Southern Voice." As NBC participants learn more about Carter, they may have second thoughts, since Baptists – virtually all of them – view homosexual marriage and behavior as abominations.

Cooperation among Baptist groups can happen any time they desire (and they don't actually fire m-16s at each other anyway)…but they happily go their own ways most of the time, and the NBC won't change a thing, as Carter and Leonard certainly know. The race question is a red herring. The SBC passed a resolution apologizing for slavery in 1995, and the appropriate black Baptist leaders scorned it out of hand. Carter and Leonard, of course, were/are well aware of this. So, assuming Carter knows the "themes" are blatantly boilerplate, that race is not an issue and certainly understands that his views have not prevailed in the SBC, exactly what is the NBC all about?

Remark this quote from the National Catholic Reporter of 10 March 2004 regarding the "527 PACs": "So, rather than international financier George Soros or Progressive Insurance president Peter Lewis pouring their fortunes directly into the Democratic Party's coffers, they provide funding to such nobly named groups as Americans Coming Together (which received $10 million from Soros and $10 million from Lewis). … The Clergy Leadership Network, an interfaith 527 launched late last year, makes no apologies for its efforts. To get started, the group received nearly $50,000 from Americans Coming Together."

Despite the infusion of cash by high-profile atheist George Soros, the CLN seems to have fizzled, so there is the need to begin a new Religious Left, ergo, the Carter/Clinton New Baptist Covenant and its unwitting though well-intentioned partners. For Carter, the NBC also represents an opportunity to "get even" with the Southern Baptists, who obviously did not recognize his sagacity in theological matters. That he could harbor such a malicious intent is not hard to imagine, considering the description of Tony Blair, outgoing British prime Minister, he recently furnished while in England, to wit, "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient."

He brought personal animus and vitriol to a new, low level in those remarks about Blair, such attributes easily applied to the Southern Baptists, whom many acclaim to form the paradigm for the "religious right." In a meeting in April 2006, according to Associated Baptist Press, 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.”

For Clinton, whose conduct has brought disgrace to both the presidency and the church, the political ramifications are transparent. His wife wants her turn at the Oval Office but is anathema to southerners in general and conservative, southern Christians in particular in both political parties. The NBC is staging its first convocation of Baptists next January at the same time three black Baptist denominations are having their conventions…in Atlanta. What a coincidence, especially since this is the time the presidential primaries are off and winging it!

Make no mistake. Notwithstanding the high-flown rhetoric and big names attached to the NBC, it is a political animal. Former Arkansas governor and ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, also a president wannabe, had agreed a while back to participate in the NBC January clambake, but not long afterward said this, "While I continue to have great respect for President Carter as a fellow Christian believer and Baptist, I’m deeply disappointed by the unusually harsh comments made in my state this past weekend regarding President Bush, and feel that it represents an unprecedented personal attack on a sitting president by a former president which is unbecoming the office as well as unbecoming to one whose conference [New Baptist Covenant] is supposed to be about civility and bringing people together. … I feel it would be best for me to decline the invitation and to not appear to be giving approval to what could be a political, rather than spiritual agenda." That pretty well sums it up.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark