Thursday, November 29, 2007

Head-start...or Is It?

In a recent editorial in the Washington Post, there was a bit of hand-wringing posturing regarding the Head-start program in the public schools, not that there’s even a slight chance that it will not be continued. Both the House and Senate have overwhelmingly voted to renew the program, and the prexy would be crazy not to sign on. Though it has been noted in other years that the children who attend Head-start and those not attending read at the same level by the third grade or so, if not before, this entitlement is here to stay.

Here is an excerpt from the University of Chicago News Office of 28 April 2005: “The 1940 Census is the first source of national data on educational attainment, and Neal points out that the black-white education gap among young adults fell steadily from 1940 to 1990. In 1990, however, black-white convergence in educational attainment stopped. ‘Among men and women ages 26 to 30 in 2000, the black-white educational attainment gap is slightly larger than the corresponding gap in 1990,’ he said.” Derek Neal was a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the author of a chapter, “Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?” to be published later that year in the Handbook of Economics of Education.

Head-start came on line in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program, so it had nothing to do with black children’s education prior to that time and for a time, at least, after that year, when there was a narrowing of the education gap vis-à-vis black and white youngsters. By contrast, those in the age-group mentioned – or at least thousands of them – were products of Head-start and represented a reversal of the trend. The question has to be raised, then, with regard to the effectiveness of Head-start, since the generations initiated into it seemed to do less well by young-adulthood than those preceding it.

It is well documented that earning power is directly tied to the extent of education achieved by the earner. This is part of an Associated Press article of 13 November 2007 that was also used by NPR and MSNBC: “In 2004, a typical black family had an income that was 58 percent of a typical white family's. In 1974, median black incomes were 63 percent of those of whites.” This represents a loss in earning power in the 30-year period of 8%, during the entire time Head-start was in operation. While one can’t necessarily blame Head-start for this circumstance, the question has to be raised regarding how effective its long-term value is.

Shelby Steele, a respected African-American educator and fellow at the Hoover Institution, said this in a 1999 speech: “Steve and Abigail Thernstrom, in their book America in Black and White, say the following: In 1981, white students whose parents had only a grade school education had higher SAT scores than blacks whose parents had graduate degrees. In 1995, nothing had changed. Blacks from families in the top income bracket of $70,000 and up were still behind whites in the lowest income bracket on both the verbal and the math sections of the SAT.” What part did Head-start play or not play, since it was on-line during this period?

Steele continued: “We would have expected that rising educational levels and the great expansion of the black middle class would have narrowed this gap, but they have had very little effect. In the SAT exam, for example, there was a slight narrowing of the gap throughout the 1980s, but it slowed to a stop in 1991 and, since then, the gap between whites and blacks in SAT scores has actually expanded.” High school graduates of 1983 would have constituted the children who might have begun head-start in 1965 (or more likely, 1966, or whenever the program was fully implemented), with graduates in succeeding years also Head-starters. Should it have been or be expected that this situation would not be the case if Head-start had been successful?

In a May 2006 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, staff writer Edward Guthmann said, “In fact, Steele argues, black oppression ended with the racial reforms of the 1960s. ‘Blacks live in a bubble because nobody ever tells us the truth. No one says, 'You're making too many excuses. Your kids can do better and ought to do better than they do now, and you ought to be more responsible about that.'" One wonders if Steele has fingered the problem and the solution.

This is neither a criticism of Head-start nor an endorsement. It is merely a suggestion that a hard look at the program is in order somewhere down the line. It’s too late for that now, of course, and too politically incorrect, in any case. Head-start probably does very little academically as a long-term matter, but it most likely does some good nutritionally and in helping most youngsters socially. The notion that it should be extended to four-year-olds is too off the wall even to consider. The schools cost enough now, without the inordinately labor-intensive addition of what would amount to operating child-care centers.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Annapolis without Ahmadinejad

President Bush, concerning the Middle East clambake at Annapolis, Md., announced that both sides, Israel and the Palestinians, who have yet to create a nation, have agreed to a joint document that commits them to work toward a treaty by the end of 2008, assuming, of course, that there is such a state as Palestine to enter into a treaty. The meeting is/was attended by the Arab League and most Middle East countries, including Syria.

How many times has such a statement from a high-ranking American official been made? The subject is so ho-hum that it hardly receives more than the usual yawn, though it is perhaps the most important matter affecting all the nations of the world, not just the nearly 50 represented at Annapolis. Conspicuously absent from Annapolis is a representative from the Middle East’s most corrupting and threatening nation – Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that participation in the meeting is a sign of political ignorance on the part of some politicians.

In the previous offering in this space, the point was made that nothing the United Nations does or purports to do has a chance for success – at least matters that require enforcement – unless the United States takes on the responsibility for such actions. This is abundantly true in the case of Annapolis. This meeting should be held at UN headquarters, with the whole panoply of member-nation representatives looking on. Instead, it’s held at Annapolis, just as the “peace meeting” for the Balkans was held in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995.

The so-called UN peace-missions in Africa are a laugh (actually a disgrace), the peace-keepers often participating in the looting of the land and the raping of the women in the manner of the oppressors, from whom they are supposed to be protecting the vulnerable. The primary reason: No U.S. troops are involved. They’re trying to bring a semblance of order in Afghanistan and Iraq, and paying a much higher price in both treasure and blood than they would in Africa. By contrast, U.S. GIs are involved in the former Yugoslavia (although in NATO operations), and there is a modicum of peace there, just as there is in South Korea, where the American presence has been extant since 1950 and counting.

Ahmadinejad knows the situation. Iran, which has vowed the absolute obliteration of Israel, understands that all that stands between it and achieving that goal is the United States. No other nation, despite Israel’s standing as a democratic member-nation of the UN, would make an effort in other than verbal denunciations to stay Iran’s pursuit of its goal, though the Israelis likely would win the day, as they always have with respect to armed conflict throughout the region. In this case, however, there can be no doubt that nuclear war would be the outcome, meaning a world conflagration of unimaginable dimensions. The UN would be powerless, so it would just be worldwide dog-eat-dog until the last dog stood atop the pile.

The presence of Syria at the meeting is anathema to Ahmadinejad, since he must send his minions and supplies to Hamas through Syria, though even that didn’t work in 2006, when the Israelis destroyed southern Lebanon fighting Ahmadinejad’s proxy warriors. The Syrians are interested in two things: getting back the Golan Heights taken by Israel in 1967 and trying to foreclose another Israeli air-strike against Syrian objectives, like the recent one in October, following which there was no Syrian response.

Little will be accomplished vis-à-vis peace between Israelis and Palestinians until the main threat to the process – Iran – is neutralized. If Syria begins to look out after its own interests, thus no longer kowtowing to Iran, a start will be made, but Ahmadinejad may scare Assad into a turnaround. Even though France has made menacing sounds toward Iran, it is still the U.S. that guarantees the fragile stability regarding the Israeli-Palestinian circumstance. Whether by diplomacy or force, Iran must be neutralized if any lasting accord is to be realized.

As for Annapolis, it can’t hurt anything. Indeed, some good might be realized, especially since the economic plight of the Israelis is so much better than that of the Palestinians, who view this disparity up close and personal every day. Sooner or later, they’re bound to understand that creating a viable, stable existence is far superior to waging – or expecting some other nation to wage – a pseudo-religious jihad practically guaranteeing their own destruction.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, November 26, 2007

Education Czar Stuck with KERA

Current legislator John Draud is the new public-education czar in Kentucky, though, no matter his credentials, which are substantial, at age 69 he seems rather old to take on the job. This has nothing to do with brainpower, but with the energy required to grasp and maintain solid leadership over the system. His legislative experience can work either way – for good or ill – in his approach to the job, depending on his legislative enemies and friends.

Governor-elect Beshear has already put in his two-cents-worth in attempting to “counsel” the state board in behalf of spending more tens of thousands uselessly in some sort of national search, notwithstanding the fiasco just initiated by the last “search” conglomeration, perhaps better described as a “big con.” The fact that Draud is a republican and has been well advertised in the current job-search didn’t have anything to do with Mr. Beshear’s “counsel,” of course.

Year 2014 is the target for having all the students operating on the proficiency level, at least with respect to the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, a questionable standard at best, especially since it can be routinely changed. That year is the end of the 25-year window of opportunity (actually mandate) provided in the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990. According to Kentucky Board of Education chairman Joe Brothers, a high percentage of elementary students (actually their schools) are on track for proficiency rating by 2014, but by only 25% and 12% of middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, respectively. This is after 16 years of KERA, obviously a system so failed as to be practically criminal.

Draud, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, has said he wouldn’t have taken the job if he thought this goal of proficiency was unattainable, but qualified that position by remarking its attainment as a “very, very difficult challenge.” Having been in education for a long time, he knows better than most people that it is virtually unattainable under KERA, structured as a social-engineering program with building self-esteem as a primary, if not the most important, objective.

Draud hopes to enlist the state Chamber of Commerce in an effort to convince people of the urgency to address the education problem. This is ho-hum stuff. First, he needs to see that KERA is totally dismantled, especially with regard to the school-based councils. He needs to prepare immediately to confront the legislature in its “long” meeting next year, though that body will need more than three months to address anything more complicated than how to figure the next enhancement of legislative perks.

According to the L-H, Draud said, “We can’t do it [sense of urgency] just with teachers and administrators and school superintendents.” The fact is that if anything is done it will be done by those folks, and that the key to success is parental involvement and ridding the schools of curricula that is unnecessary and time-consuming. Putting some discipline back into the system is vital, one element of which is flunking students who don’t pass, as well as making it easier for students who lack enough work ethic for success to be discharged from the system. Allotting state money to local systems on the basis of enrolment instead of attendance is a good place to start in meeting this suggestion.

The element of academic proficiency as an individual school matter is too unrealistic to consider, particularly when self-esteem is the objective. Demographics and the breakdown of high moral standards in the students’ homes already damn the schools, and until KERA is banished and parents get off the hippy-dippy 60s-70s “anything goes” craze, in which they came of age and which has damned a whole generation and a half, little will be accomplished.

At $220,000 a year to start ($230,000 the first year) plus all the perks that go with the job, Draud will be expected to do great things. His problem is that he must depend on somebody(ies) else for everything, and so his main task is to try to whip the system in shape much as a platoon sergeant would…no ifs, ands, or buts…just results.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The U.S. as U.N.-Guarantor

It’s official…New York Mayor Bloomberg, while he apparently can’t make the United Nations honchos fix their building, can make them look bad by disallowing schoolchildren to tour the world headquarters. The reason: it’s a firetrap. In a recent letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the mayor said only about 20% of 866 violations discovered by the Fire Department in January have been fixed. Senator Schumer lodged complaints well over a year ago.

Or…take the latest humongous snafu by UN operatives, namely the overestimating of the number of AIDS cases in the world by 21%. Instead of some 40 million throughout the world, as the UN has claimed, it now admits to some 33 million as an accurate estimate. This reinforces the notion that the UN-sponsored IPCC report claiming that people are warming the earth to death is so much rubbish, and many highly respected scientists are onto that fraud. The fact that this country is said by the UN to be the villain in global warming is so incredible as to defy all reason.

The apparent unwillingness or inability to carry out what should be a simple task – like installing smoke detectors – is just too much for the world’s deliberative body to handle. The fact that a city mayor could exert the needed pressure to force something to be done is indicative of the relationship that exists between this country and the United Nations, namely, that the U.S. must be or is the guarantor (or enforcer) of anything the U.N. undertakes. Now, somehow the UN expects this country to guarantee world-cooling. Egad!

Flash back to the Korean Conflict of 1950-53, fought only three years after the UN came into existence and only five years after the end of World War II, when the whole world was trying to get back on its collective feet. Though 16 nations joined the battle to save South Korea under the auspices of the United Nations (only 12 0f them as combatants), 90% of all the military personnel and materiel was furnished by the U.S. Some 37,000 U.S. GIs died in the war, while thousands more went missing in action or were taken prisoner. None of the other UN members in the fight suffered anything like the number of those casualties, except, of course, the South Koreans.

Since the end of that conflict, South Korea, Ban Ki-Moon’s nation, has existed primarily because U.S. troops – not UN troops – have remained in that country to patrol the 38th parallel, with more than 30,000 still there and the end of that circumstance not in sight. Left to the UN to do the job, South Korea would have been inundated by both the North Koreans and the Chinese and would have long since disappeared. The U.S., not the UN, is the guarantor of freedom for South Korea to not only be free but to prosper, and it’s worth noting that a permanent member of the Security Council, China, was the aggressor in 1950, the murderer of thousands of Americans in its invasion of Korea.

In the Dayton Accords meeting concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1995, NATO was given the authority by the UN to carry out the agreement. What a laugh! The agreement was not signed at the UN headquarters, but in Dayton, Ohio, a way of indicating that the U.S., the main player in NATO, would guarantee the peace, such as it was.

Later, in 1999, when the Serbs tried a bit of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, nearly half the planes used to bomb Yugoslavia were furnished by the U.S., though this was supposedly also a NATO action. Even though the entire Yugoslavian mess was in the backyard of the European Union and far removed from the U.S., Milosevic and his thugs in both actions in the 90s would have run roughshod over the territory if the U.S. had not been the guarantor of the peace and the return of thousands of Kosovars to their habitat. The U.S. president during this time was Bill Clinton.

Perhaps the best recent example of UN-inability to guarantee anything was in the actions of President George H.W. Bush in 1990-91. Bush said in August 1990 that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait “would not stand,” but it was not until November that the UN finally came up with “authorization” for doing what Bush was already preparing, throwing Saddam out of Kuwait.

The U.S. had more than 500,000 troops in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, while the non-U.S. coalition forces equaled roughly 160,000, or 24 percent, of all forces. In other words, the U.S. was and still is the guarantor of the existence of all the countries on the Arabian Peninsula, principally Saudi Arabia. If the UN, instead of Bush, had made the play, Saddam would have been sitting comfortably in Riyadh today, setting the price of oil on a daily basis. The Saudi princes would have been pushing up daisies.

And this is where the rubber hits the road. If the UN had made an effort – particularly in the Security Council, of which France, England, China, Russia and the U.S. are permanent members – to shut down Saddam in 2003, the U.S., Brits, and the handful of other nations interested in stopping Saddam, the greatest threat to world stability, would not have had to nearly wreck their militaries (the U.S. and England, anyway) in the effort to neutralize that butcher. As it is, this nation stands virtually alone in its insistence that terrorism “will not stand,” and backs up its own stand with trillions in treasure and some 3,875 lives (93% of Coalition deaths) in Iraq, not to mention the wounded.

There are those who wail about the U.S. attempting to be the world’s policeman, but they’re so dumb that they don’t recognize that this country – not the innocuous United Nations – is the guarantor of whatever is good and decent in this world. Maybe…just maybe…Ban Ki-Moon and his gaggle of freeloading apparatchiks in New York will at least fix their building, which should have been built on the islands called St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks, in the first place, located at the Equator and halfway between South America and Africa. In that warm latitude, it would have been vacant most of the time, and the world would have been better off.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, November 22, 2007

DNC Memorandum #27

From the Iowa Office of Dr. Howard Dean, chairperson

***Concerning the last debate, the lady who was obviously nervous and had to back up a few times in her question about Social Security, thus causing considerable repetition, had not been coached, and the question was not planted by the Clinton campaign. CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer has vehemently denied that he prompted the lady five times, but only gave her a word or two occasionally, and Senator Clinton has denied ever planting questions and has assured the DNC, the public, and all ships at sea that she will not do it again.

***Also concerning the debate, the chairperson wishes to thank all his Iowan friends for their applause when he was introduced with the candidates at the beginning of the debate. It was a teachable moment and reminded of 2004, when the “Dean Dragoons,” made up mostly of college students, were welcomed into the state for what amounted to a blitzkrieg of beneficence in the name of the chairperson, who was eminently qualified to stop all wars, bring everlasting peace, and lead the nation into perpetual prosperity. For the current campaign, it is suggested that workers desist from wearing rings in noses, tongues, ears, navels, lips, eyebrows, love-handles, and the unmentionable body parts. Iowans hold to tradition and appreciate metal in the body only if it’s in the form of shrapnel incurred on a field of honor (not defined as a college dorm or crack-house or frat party). Also, please cover all tattoos while in Iowa, even if this means wearing scuba-diving outfits with only the eyes showing. In addition, remember that the Dean Scream introduced at the end of the Iowa voting in 2004 is patented – ©Howard Dean – and may not be used without permission. Permission has been granted to special ops forces for use in harassing the enemy, but may not be used when muezzins are calling Muslims to prayer (scary enough on its own – little joke there to point up the importance of the prayers and the Muslim vote).

***As Senator Obama has requested, a white paper is being drawn up explaining that his position is the same as that of John F. Kennedy in 1960, when his Catholicism was an issue in some areas. The reason has to do with this statement from his church’s self-identification site: We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. The paper will indicate that the senator is in no way under the control of the church or its pastor, and that he did not contribute the bongos to the church’s praise/worship/whatever band. It will also prove that the Garden of Eden was not at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Staffers may feel free, however, to accuse republican Romney of having this prior-loyalty difficulty (cult stuff), but please refrain from saying he is under the control of Joseph Smith, who has long been dead. Since announcing a while back that he is a Baptist, Senator McCain can be ridiculed as John the Baptist, but do not – repeat – do NOT mention his former description as Episcopalian, since that points to his leaving the denomination that’s conflicted about men marrying men, not a good subject for discussion politically. The chairperson also left the Episcopalians, but, if asked, please say it was over a bike path, not funny marriages (for the politically-correct vote).

***It has come to my attention that some staffers have been heard snickering around the water fountain about Michael Moore’s abandonment of his “Hillary Project,” a film entitled Cinderhilla and the Seven Dwarves. There has never been such an effort, and the fact that the media have officially dropped Gravel as a contender for the democrat nomination is not the reason for this circumstance; moreover, Moore has said he would not do it again. The fact that Senator Kucinich had threatened a lawsuit and noted that he was as tall as Michael Dukakis was in 1988 had nothing to do with the non-film, in the first place. The non-point of the non-film had to do with the non-overwhelming non-lead that Senator Clinton had in the polls. The rumor that Senator Obama said that Senator Clinton always had to look up to him should be de-bunked, since political correctness forecloses anatomical comments, much less anatomical slurs. Play down Senator Clinton’s remark in the last debate about the greatness of the country being shown by the fact that a woman, a Latino, and an African American are vying to be top banana. This was discriminatory and pointed to class warfare, according to Senator Biden, who called her remark fluffernutter, while former senator Edwards has threatened a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men, otherwise known as WASPs.

***It has come to my attention that an inordinate number of requests for transfers have been submitted, most of them for locations in South Carolina and southward from there. The DNC realizes that it is already snowing here in Iowa and that the usual miserable sleet and snow conditions are current in New Hampshire, but most of these requests will be denied for obvious reasons. A number of requests have been turned in by recent college graduates, mostly geography majors from Harvard and Yale, for the Bahamas and a few for Bimini, and those requests will absolutely be denied for obvious reasons. Those who will be moving on to New Hampshire (located between Vermont and Maine, for the grads) in a few days are advised to never mention the misery of New Hampshire winters as they canvass neighborhoods, since some of the citizens of that state have been known to shoot first and then answer the pollsters.”

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Sky Is Falling!" - Boy Columnist

Boy Columnist, otherwise known as Lexington Herald-Leader editorialist Larry Keeling, threw one of his patented temper tantrums in the 18 November issue, this time about a recent Interim Legislative Committee meeting in which Chairman Jim Gooch mispronounced viscount and therefore committed the unpardonable sin during a meeting regarding global warming, which BC figured was stacked with non-scientists to cavalierly pooh-pooh the notion that humanoids are actually changing the climate. BC’s point of reference for all things pointing toward the falling of the sky was the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The fact that the IPCC is an outgrowth of a United Nations action should be warning that whatever it claims will be anti-American and most likely structured to garner cash from this country. It is in the process of distributing information that condemns mankind for its callous disregard of the earth and all of its processes, thus leading to the total loss of nations, millions of people, and (gasp) endangered species of one kind or another.

The IPCC’s main spokesperson, with whom it has just shared the Nobel Peace Prize, is Al Gore, probably the highest-profile non-scientist in the world right now. The Nobel-awarders have not explained how either Gore or the IPCC have saved peace in the world, but then the prize has often had nothing to do with peace, as witness its presentation in recent years to the late Yassir Arafat, perhaps the world’s best-known terrorist a few years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev, onetime head of the Soviet Union and therefore head honcho of the KGB, and Jimmy Carter, who makes it a routine practice to speak ill of this country when he travels to other countries.

The IPCC report is a political document, not a scientific instrument. The film An Inconvenient Truth, much ballyhooed by Gore, its star, and Hollywood, can be shown in England’s public schools only if the teacher explains to the students that (1) It is a political movie, not a scientific one; (2) It contains nine errors; and (3) The teacher point out the errors to the students. In addition, there is a huge segment of the scientific community that is having none of the greenhouse-gas theory as it relates to human contribution to the slight global warming in progress, such warming absolutely nothing new in the climate-cycles that have always been present.

The climate experts claim that there have been four “ice-ages” in the world’s history, one of them featuring a glacier reaching into northern Kentucky and actually carving out the Ohio River as part of its process of expansion and subsequent melting back toward the North Pole. Since there apparently were no developed nations – at least according to current standards – during those mega-millennia years ago, any action by mankind had nothing to do with either the cooling or the warming that took place.

This is from the San Jose Mercury News of 16 November: “New satellite imaging has revealed that hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced the largest single forestry disaster on record in America - an essentially unreported ecological catastrophe that killed or severely damaged some 320 million trees in Mississippi and Louisiana. The die-off, caused initially by wind and later by the pooling of stagnant water, was so massive that researchers say it will add significantly to the greenhouse gas buildup - ultimately putting as much carbon from dying vegetation into the air as the rest of the American forest takes out in a year of photosynthesis.

In other words, natural phenomena have infinitely greater impact on climate than anything mere man can do. A good site to visit, especially since it has a great article on the last 112 years of Kentucky climate, is Boy Columnist is swallowing the propaganda put out by the doomsayers, but that part of the scientific community calling attention to the sun vis-à-vis its current relationship to earth is bound to gain ground. This seems to be the raison d’etre for the slight warming taking place, not anything that man can control, except as a local matter.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Las Vegas Shoot-out

It took CNN’s Wolf Blitzer a few minutes to bring it under control, but the near-shouting-match that developed among candidates Clinton, Obama, and Edwards at the beginning of the latest debate, held in Las Vegas on 15 November, was great theater, especially in a state that went republican in the last two presidential elections. The seven combatants (Gravel apparently permanently eased out by the media-types) managed to give the administration a few licks along the way, but each mostly attempted to show that her/his opponents, if not clearly unfit, were at least not as fit, respectively, as her/him for the job, the upshot logically being that each was declared somewhat unfit…period.

The most engaging and pleasant surprise came in the “question” period when Senator Dodd launched into a conversation in fluent Spanish with a questioner, both enjoying the exchange, with Dodd explaining to the audience that he had done a tour in the Peace Corps long ago in the Dominican Republic. The most amazing statement was made by Governor Richardson when he reckoned that human rights trumped national security if push should come to shove. He was turned around almost immediately on that weird assertion by Dodd. Obama handled the subject by hemming and hawing, as he did regarding the issuing of driver-licenses to illegal immigrants.

As usual, Richardson and Representative Kucinich were included in the discussion quite a while after the three front-runners (at least as accounted in Iowa) had hogged the spotlight for the first considerable segment of time. This was probably because the moderators chose to focus on them, perhaps with their own agenda, but it was unfair, especially since the frontrunners showed no more expertise than the rest. Indeed, it was galling when Senator Clinton spoke of her 35 years of experience. She was elected in New York in 2000 (having bought herself a Senate-seat in the manner of Robert Kennedy back in the 60s), so she’s had seven years of experience in government, compared to the multiple decades of some of the others. The fact that she happened to be the wife of an office-holder in Arkansas and the U.S. counts for nothing.

Senator Biden stayed a bit above the fray, as usual, and provided a bit of humor along the way, such as when he answered the question of whether or not he would support the democrat nominee in the general election by saying “Hell no…not these people” (or something like that) before laughing through an affirmation that he would. This reminded of his characterization earlier this year in an interview that anything John Edwards said was “fluffernutter.” Actually, Biden showed a better grasp of the issues and problems than any of the others, with the possible exception of Dodd.

The demeanors of the candidates change with each session, but the substance varies very little. There was some mudslinging this time around and there will be more. Obama and Edwards have obviously decided that they have the proper tools for attacking Clinton – flip-flopping (outright lying) and a flawed health plan, respectively. The positions on the war on terror and what to do about Pakistan were wildly different among the candidates, with Richardson and Kucinich on the “let’s get the troops home by yesterday never mind the fallout,” side and the others holding varying views about how to sensibly get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama, Kucinich, and Richardson seemed to think or have espoused the theory before that this country can just call a peace conference among all the Muslim nations and end all the problems. Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Syria’s Assad must laugh themselves silly when they hear that. Biden, Dodd, and Clinton, with varying views, take a more realistic position that solving the Middle East mess is not that easy. Edwards and the others had “plans” (not detailed, of course) to do things, but one is distracted anyway by noticing his haircut and trying to figure out how it could ever have cost $400 to fashion it.

There was much huffing and puffing about Pakistan and Musharraf’s “emergency suspension of the Constitution” (led to Richardson’s obvious gaffe), but one of the candidates (believe it was Biden) finally noted the vitally important fact that Pakistan is the route into Afghanistan, thus making the deserting of Musharraf a moot point, not to mention the nuclear ramifications if the Islamic fascists get their collective finger on the button. I think it was Edwards who mentioned that Musharraf has not done the necessary military thing against the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, where Osama is probably hiding in luxury, but he may not realize that those mountains are nothing like the ones in western North Carolina.

Blitzer (and perhaps most of the attendees) seemed to be Hillary-supporters. One wonders who hands out the tickets to these affairs. She was probably glad since Tim Russert had driven her to the wall in the last clambake, held in Philadelphia. The gender subject was much in evidence, and Clinton always seems to bask in the glow. The two candidates who by far seemed to be the most competent were Biden and Dodd, and the democrats could do well to have them both on the ticket, despite the failure of the two senators – Kerry and Edwards – in 2004.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, November 15, 2007

PDR...Let Sweet Graft Descend!

The lead editorial of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., of 14 November was a gushing mishmash of praise for the Purchase of Development Rights program (otherwise known as “PDR rip-off”) currently in place in Fayette County. The editorialist remarked the fact that 20,165 acres have now been saved from those wooly developers of stores, houses, and other demons designed for (drum-roll!) dollars and desirability, never mind that both the Planning/Zoning Commission and the urban/county government have the responsibility for seeing that such violations of the human condition are denied/controlled.

The Urban-County government, accountable to ALL the taxpayers, has now spent $21.6 million in a very short time (PDR passed in 2000) to bribe property owners not to “develop” their land, notwithstanding the fact that they can’t do anything, in the first place, that’s against the planning-zoning requirements as enforced by – yep, you guessed it – the Urban-County government. This means that this obvious and pernicious duplication and overlap of responsibilities awards the “haves,” those folks owning valuable rural land at the expense of the “have-nots,” those folks who live in town and are stuck with nothing to “develop,” thus making them ineligible for the bribe.

This is the penultimate example of redistribution of wealth, though in reverse to the way generally conceived, i.e., money flowing from the wealthy to the poor. In this case, the wealthy (landowners) are collecting from those poor, unlucky folks who can be “had,” whether they like it or not, since their representatives (or at least the majority) have voted to sell them out. Mayor Newberry, the employee of ALL the people, has EARMARKED (he should be in Congress) a cool $2 million PDR-bribe for this year for a handful of people, most of whom are so far from the service area that they couldn’t – at least without enormous bribes to various commissioners – convince P-Z and the UCG that they should be allowed to build whatever wherever.

The editorialist lamented the fact that this cool $2 million is not near enough money for this year, since there are now (gasp) 49 PDR-applicants (count ’em) on the waiting list to collect the graft, their poor farms the objects of an unmitigated insult of non-acceptance. Even worse, there will be more applicants in January, according to the editorial, comprising another group forlornly neglected by their government in the matter of redistributing the wealth. Of course, the feds have kicked in to the tune of $26.9 million (EARMARKS), meaning that Lexingtonians have been taxed twice for the good old local PDR.

So…what’s a mayor to do, especially since mayors are more beholden to the money-people (landowners, for instance…hint, hint) than anybody else in the matter of elections? The editorialist suggested that the mayor and council members must start thinking now…NOW…about how to increase PDR funding for the next budget and (of course, more importantly) long-term financing at this “right moment” to invest in “our”…that’s “OUR” region’s future. OUR? Obviously, the editorialist was on something…maybe five pints of Jack Daniels in preparation for the midnight deadline for editorials.

The kicker, of course, lies in the fact that only three…that’s THREE…PDR properties (out of 176, or 1.7%) abut the service area and would thus be, though only at the pleasure of P-Z and UCG, eligible for development. Nearly all the other PDR-bribed properties (some 173 or so, or 98.3%) are so far away from the service area that they would never be developed anyway…unless, of course, the right palms might be crossed. So…what better to do than someday have to cross the appropriate palms with a bit of incentive than take the largesse today, right now…with no sweat? It’s called PDR…and it stinks. The average John Doe citizen-types wonder about the incentives involved in approving this kind of rip-off.

The supreme irony lies in the fact that these farms are already actual developments (horse-farms or dairy-farms, for instance, not to mention tobacco), the upshot being that PDR-bribes go to developers, not non-developers. That’s government…at its worst…for OUR region.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Don't Desert Musharraf

I checked-in on Fox News a few afternoons ago and witnessed Fox newsman Shepard Smith just about lose it over the fact that Pakistan President Musharraf had declared a national state of emergency, thus depriving the citizens of Pakistan their rights and even threatening the rights of U.S. citizens. I couldn’t believe he mentioned Musharraf’s actions as a threat to this country, but I heard/saw it with my own ears and eyes. The performance was reminiscent of his and Geraldo’s hysterics in New Orleans after Katrina had gone through in 2005.

This is not a criticism of the good work that Fox News carries out, only a reminder that this nation has to make do with what happens anywhere…on the ground, not with what it wishes to be the case. Sitting in a studio some 9,000 or so miles from Pakistan and talking to a reporter is not exactly the same as being on the ground in Pakistan and seeing things first-hand. At least, Smith had actually, finally gone to New Orleans, which makes one wonder what kind of tantrum he might throw if he were in Pakistan now, probably damning Musharraf for not inculcating U.S.-style democracy no later than yesterday.

A major part of Musharraf’s problems is occasioned by Benazir Bhutto, who was prime minister of Pakistan 1988-90 and 1993-96. She and her husband have been fighting criminal charges since her government was tossed in 1996. Her younger brother, who opposed her positions while he was in the Pakistan parliament in the 1990s, was assassinated while she was prime minister in 1996. Ms. Bhutto ended her “tortured” 8-year exile in England and the United Arab Emirates recently. In her return, a bomb apparently meant for her went off in the wrong place and over a hundred other Pakistanis died. This is the kind of chaos she’s inflicting on a country already steeped in catastrophe.

The daughter of Bhutto’s murdered brother, Fatima Bhutto, wrote the following as published in the Los Angeles Times on 14 November: “It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as ‘Mr. 10%,’ have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.” Actually, a Swiss court convicted Bhutto and her husband of money-laundering in 2003. These are not beautiful people.

What Smith and others who believe that American-style democracy will work everywhere don’t understand is that…well, it won’t work in perhaps most of the third world. The Middle East is a hotbed of theocracies – rule by the imams and the ayatollahs and the devil take the hindmost. Until the Islamic fanatics are denied the opportunity to run governments, there will be no democracies in the Middle East, including Iraq and Pakistan. Since the Muslims are an essentially uneducated people, and since both education and integrity (at least to some degree) are vital in supporting a democracy, representative government is not possible for them. This is true, also, throughout Africa.

Add in the ingredient of fanatical Islamic fundamentalism as it relates to the populations in general, meaning their acquiescence to the teachings of the imams as derived from the Koran, a document put together and dictated by an illiterate in the sixth century, and the recipe for democracy is poisoned. Musharraf is faced with this poison and either takes drastic steps to keep it from killing his country or taking the heat for doing what he has said he believes the average Pakistani desires, even though it’s unattractive to people like Smith and Hillary Clinton…or Joe Biden, who, according to USN&WR, said, “We need to get on the right side of history,” i.e., with respect to focusing on Musharraf “too much.” Playing politics with something as important as Pakistan’s survival and friendship is beneath contempt.

As noted in the PBS program Frontline: “A madrassa is an Islamic religious school. Many of the Taliban were educated in Saudi-financed madrassas in Pakistan that teach Wahhabism, a particularly austere and rigid form of Islam which is rooted in Saudi Arabia.” Therein lies a major reason for not bailing on Musharraf, not to mention that Afghanistan (Taliban Country) is landlocked, meaning that supplies to American troops there go through Pakistan. The notion that the crooked Bhutto should be supported by this country is outrageous on its face. Once she gained power, how long would it be before the jihadists actually took over from her, with its collective finger on Pakistan’s nuclear button?

There’s more at stake than just a declaration of emergency in Pakistan, especially with the Taliban in that nation’s western mountains getting stronger and undoubtedly supporting and hiding Osama bin Laden. Regardless of Musharraf’s motives, which there’s little reason for anyone in this country to criticize, he is the only horse that can win this race. In the constant crosshairs of assassins, he may have to use the army to root out the Muslim thugs…something Bhutto is not likely to try. To desert him would be tantamount to consigning thousands to death…even another 9/11.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blowing SMOKE!

Not surprisingly, the Lexington Herald-Leader has discovered a poll indicating that 60% of 500 “likely voters” favor an increase in the cigarette tax. The poll was conducted by – SURPRISE – a “coalition of health advocacy groups.” The actual story is not about the 60%, but how that group could possibly have not come up with a number more like 95% in favor of “Read my burned-out-lips…huge new taxes (okay…75 cents).” Anyway, this startling news made it to the front page above the fold on 13 November.

No reason was given for the assertion that the poll was taken among “likely voters,” even though the “likely voters” don’t structure Kentucky’s tax system. No breakdown was given on the basis of whether or not the respondents smoked or abstained. One might even wonder about a poll taken among 500 “likely voters” since there are some 2,840,000 registered voters in Kentucky, meaning that the sample covered .018% of them, or one out of every 5,680, roughly the entire population of Central City.

This is not a brief for smoking. Everybody knows by now that smoking causes a pronounced health-risk. I quit 50 years ago. The usual elements were presented with regard to this poll – dedication to a program to reduce tobacco use, especially among kids, and the funding of education, Medicaid, and other health needs. This is blowing smoke (no pun intended), since the money raised will go into the general fund, there to be divided and wasted among the projects favored by the lawmakers…in short, a significant tax increase discriminatorily levied and questionably spent.

The last increase voted by the legislature (2005) to “discourage” smoking (just 27 cents a pack) and save people from themselves brought into the general fund $158.9 million in 2006…and that ain’t to be sneezed at. The new tax would bring in at least three times as much, as all smokers underwent a new program of saving themselves from themselves, and most would rearrange their budgets to suit the nicotine need. Medicaid might or might not get a boost, but so what. Smokers, on average, die at least seven years younger than non-smokers, so maybe the cigarette tax ought to be lowered in the interest of getting people onto cigarettes and therefore off Medicaid sooner.

Or, perhaps the “cigarette principle” could be used in behalf of climate change. Raise the price of gasoline by a dollar a gallon and therefore cut down on driving, which would mean less air pollution (Carbon monoxide’s a killer, doncha know?), which would make Algore, the greatest peace-monger since Yassir Arafat, a very happy camper. Or, place a tax on all ice cream that isn’t low-fat so folks will stay obese-free and therefore off Medicaid with everything from gout to knee failure. Just like with cigarettes, the ice-creamers would rearrange their budgets and – VOILA! – a huge increase in TAXES…with thinness gone the way of the world.

Why not just outlaw cigarettes anywhere in the state? That won’t happen because the alcohol crowd will see to it that the bubbly flows, never mind that it causes an exponential degree more misery in the state than cigarettes or anything else. Maybe a local option law would be in order, as is the case with alcoholic beverages? Alcohol is perfectly legal but cities and counties can outlaw its sale if they so desire. Why not try that?

Nah! The legislature has no stomach for taking responsibility and attacking the problem realistically by cutting waste. The lawmakers are interested in enhancing state revenue (called raising taxes in other days) the easiest way possible, and that’s to pick out a fairly vulnerable group and put the monkey on its back – this time, the smokers…again, in just two years. If not the smokers…well then…get the casinos up and running as soon as possible and let the suckers bring in the lucre…wait, make that bring in the revenue.

The governor is against further taxing the smokers, he says, but the budget, according to the Constitution, is supposed to be fashioned in the House. It’ll be interesting to see if he actually means “no new taxes” or might just say, “Well, I tried, but… .”

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Congressional Civil War Mocks Veterans Day

In the lead-in to Veterans Day, one looks around the world and compares the good fortune of this nation in having had both the human and material resources to allow its citizens a modicum of freedom and prosperity unrealized in most places. This circumstance accrues to representative governing on all levels and, of course, the military, both of which make entrepreneurship and labor work.

Currently, this country is feeling the financial pinch of the war on terror, a conflict not soon to end, though perhaps in the process of being significantly ameliorated. The focus is on the military at present because this is the entity that protects the entire process of self-government; it’s the machine that stands between freedom/civility and utter chaos/anarchy. The “rulers of darkness,” as Paul the Apostle would have it, driven either by an amoral ethic or a fanatic obeisance to the writings of an essentially illiterate Arab of the sixth century, or both, would murder everyone in the world who is not Muslim.

Born of the Armistice-signing of World War I and carried on through other conflicts, principally World War II but other actions as well such as Korea and Vietnam, Veterans Day remarks the extent to which this country will go to maintain its freedom…sufficient blood and treasure, no matter the cost. Conceived by greed within the womb of British rule and birthed through the pains of the Revolution, the nation has not yet grown into maturity, though it has aged magnificently through struggle.

Each generation has had to make its fight, either with itself, as in the Civil War, or with others, such as Germany, Japan, Italy, and the usual communist countries such as the Soviet Union (mostly by mutually assured destruction), in order to maintain its uniqueness as a successful republic. Today, the threat does not come from other nations in the traditional way, i.e., war fought between armed nations, or the threat of it; rather, it accrues to governments that use terror as the weapon of choice, obviously directed not primarily at military operatives, but in a far more cowardly way toward the butchering of the most vulnerable non-combatants – women, children, old people – in the interest of bringing entire nations to their knees out of abject fear, such as in Sudan and Somalia presently.

Perhaps the greater danger in the U.S. today has to do with the current generation having another fight with itself, this time a sort of partisanship carried to an intolerable degree. At a time when things seem to be improving in Iraq, the U.S. House a few weeks ago – in the full knowledge of the fallout it was about to create – passed a nonsensical resolution virtually guaranteeing the alienation of this country’s most stable and valuable middle-eastern ally, Turkey. The question must be asked as to why this action was taken, especially since causing that alienation might have meant cutting off the valuable supply routes in Turkey servicing American troops in Iraq.

Was the action taken precisely to slow down directly the improvements in Iraq, thus, though unintentionally or not, creating further danger/injury/death, indirectly, to American GIs? If so, the reprehensibility is obvious, and those who passed that silly resolution (since abandoned) should be held accountable for little short of a war crime. Since it’s hard to believe the majority of House members were irrevocably dumb and totally unaware of the world situation, one wonders about their motivation. Do political opportunists trump loyalists? In 2008, about the only issue the democrats can agree on is the badness of the war, thus, if things are looking up concerning that matter things will be looking down for election successes.

The problem of congressional subversion is compounded by its quite obvious preoccupation with administration-destruction, dragging its feet while mired in trivialities at the time it can’t even pass a budget. Michael Mukasey, after seemingly endless inanities purveyed by democrats on Senator “Leaky” Leahy’s Judiciary Committee concerning water-boarding – as if any candidate would express an opinion before-the-fact – was finally confirmed. Leahy commented that torture was torture and murder was murder in comparing the two, apparently lacking the good sense to recognize that the outcome of water-boarding is not even injury, let alone death, while the outcome of murder is the final solution.

Meanwhile, as an example of supporting the nation a few weeks ago in its fight against terrorism, the democrats on Senator Biden’s Foreign Affairs Committee practically told the world that the top U.S. commander, Gen. Petraeus, was either untrustworthy or perhaps woefully incompetent. Senator Clinton, not a member but running for the presidency, was allowed into the hearing to call the general a liar to his face. This is the kind of stuff guaranteed to make the battle harder and cost more lives. With Biden and Clinton running for the presidency, as well as fellow committee members Obama and Dodd, also democrat president-wannabes, what does the world think?

Yes, the nation is battling with itself right now, as particularly evidenced in the Congress. Surely, the rank-and-file know what’s at stake. The congressional Civil War is unfortunate, and opportunists trump loyalists there. Sad. Every lawmaker should watch a tape of the crashes and/or crash sites of 9/11 every day before she/he goes into the office. Just maybe – though don’t count on it – they might then get things in the proper perspective if they haven’t already.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mideast Madness...Menacing!

It’s been interesting to watch the news concerning the events accruing to matters concerning valued allies of the U.S. in the Middle East, Turkey and Pakistan. The Turks are tired of a renegade bunch of Kurds in northern Iraq attacking Turks and then retiring to their sanctuary, obviously beyond reach. So…the Turks have decided that an invasion of North Iraq might be necessary to put a stop to this stuff. U.S. honchos are necessarily upset about this since there’s already enough turmoil in Iraq without the addition of another party at the dance.

Nitwits, mostly democrats, in the U.S. House came up with the bright idea a few weeks ago of officially labeling a bloodbath of Armenians as genocide committed by Turks around 1915, a sanguinary exercise denounced at the time by the U.S., though the term genocide might not have been used. If genocide did occur – and both sides have their claims – it’s not up to the U.S. House and ultimately the Congress to declare it, and the declaration wouldn’t be worth the paper required to produce such a document, in any case. It would be the same a hundred years after the fact as Congress calling the Holocaust in Europe genocide by Germans…60-70 years after the fact.

Naturally, the Turks resented this action and threatened to foreclose the vital U.S. supply routes that are used in Turkey to service the U.S. military in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. This would be a terrible blow. This government, however, has inveighed heavily against the Turks lining up at the Iraq border and threatening to add even more chaos to the Iraqi situation.

In the meantime, Benazir Bhutto, former head of the Pakistani government and off in exile for some ten years, decided to make a comeback, whereupon some keystone-kop naysayers to that comeback celebrated it by managing explosions aimed at assassinating her but actually killing more than a hundred other Pakistanis. Bhutto’s father had once been the head honcho but he was hanged by the military types that took the government away from him. The Islamic fundamentalist movement is her sworn enemy and also the sworn enemy of Pervez Musharraf, current military/civil leader who constantly dodges assassins and has just proclaimed a “state of emergency” (martial law?), though elections had been scheduled for January.

The U.S. has announced great dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs regarding Musharraf and his actions, even though its main supply route for servicing the military fighting the Taliban (al Qaeda) in Afghanistan lies in Pakistan, which, to add fuel to the fire, possesses nuclear capability. Indeed, the consensus regarding al Qaeda butcher/honcho bin Laden is that he’s hiding somewhere in the mountains of western Pakistan and should, therefore, have been dealt with by now, whether by capture or death.

So…for this country, what to do? It has managed to alienate both its allies, almost exclusively Muslim, at the very time it needs them desperately, though the silly business regarding the genocide thing has been dropped in a Congress already suffering approval rates at about the same as those of the mainstream media and maybe half that of the president. Clearly, this country needs the good graces of both nations.

The Turkey problem has been temporarily solved, though Speaker Pelosi (multitudes of Armenians in California) might bring it up again, especially if it will slow down the war against terror. Heading into an election year with things looking up in Iraq could be bad for democrats, who have been whining and moaning about losing the war for months now and may actually be realizing that Americans are more interested in someone who will fight to guarantee the nation’s security than in their defeatist attitude.

This country has pumped $10 billion into Pakistan since late 2001, thus actually buying cooperation, though Musharraf needs help to ward off fanatics who, if gaining power, will have their finger on the nuclear button. President Bush has adopted the “romance philosophy” of the guy who simply “loves the one he’s near when he isn’t near the one he loves.” He said on 5 November that he hopes Musharraf will “give up the uniform” (just be president) and that elections should be held as soon as possible.

Those are the right words. As all presidents find out sooner or later, the fact is that this nation does business with whatever government is running things in other countries, thus dealing with what’s in place when not able to deal with what it would choose to be in place (that romance theory). He needs to talk less about American-type democracy (elections in Pakistan, for instance) and face the fact that in Iraq and Pakistan and other Muslim nations theocracy is still too strong and even suits the masses more than democracy does. In any case, leave Musharraf alone…an iron hand is needed now to keep nuclear capability out of the Islamofascists’ grasp.

At all costs, the friendship of Turkey and Pakistan must be held inviolable.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, November 02, 2007

"LEAKY" & the Gang Strike Again!

The current flap in the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the president’s attorney general nominee, Michael Mukasey, is marked more by the pusillanimous conduct of the committee democrats than anything else. Only one of the ten democrats ever served in the military – Kennedy, back in the 50s. Headed by Senator “Leaky” Leahy, the democrats are positing their approval/disapproval on the subject of water-boarding, an interrogation technique about which everyone has an opinion with reference to torture.

The democrats want Mukasey to say that water-boarding is torture, and Mukasey simply says he doesn’t know if it is or not. The matter has nothing to do with the Justice Department unless and until a specific case regarding it must be handled. Providing an opinion beforehand is something that the democrats – or at least most them, as lawyers – would not do, but they hassle Mukasey for not doing that. That is a pusillanimous copout, since the senators could easily introduce a bill in Congress to specifically outlaw water-boarding, and be done with it. It would pass in the democrat-controlled Congress and the president would then sign or not, and the matter would go to the courts, as it should.

Water-boarding neither kills nor even injures a subject of an interrogation. It is scary, but CIA operatives undergo the procedure themselves as part of their training. So do military personnel who stand a considerable risk of capture. Mukasey has written the committee to the effect that the interrogation technique is “over the line” and “repugnant” on “a personal basis,” but added that he would need the “actual facts and circumstances” to strike a “legal opinion.”

At a time when Muslim jihad-mongers are willing to lop off heads or commit all sorts of other trauma, such as hanging burned and mutilated bodies from a bridge superstructure (American Blackwater employees in Iraq), the matter needs to be judged not a propos a military/Geneva Convention protocol but from one relating to animalistic cruelty. Al Qaeda operatives are not part of an army, do not wear uniforms, and mutilate/assassinate non-combatants (women and children in the marketplace or office-workers in the WTC and elsewhere in the U.S. on 9/11) as their main method of “fighting” for a cause. They deserve to be hanged, after a thoroughgoing flogging or a bit of bone-breaking, so water-boarding them is an act of mercy. Sadistic animals are routinely put to death in this country, but the lawmakers have qualms about the tender mercies vis-à-vis terrorist assassins who blow innocent people apart.

The democrats on the committee aren’t interested in protecting the precious rights of the terrorists not to be treated the same way as their innocent victims. They’re interested in bogging down the administration and are hell-bent on using every procedure available. Holding Mukasey’s nomination hostage is just like Kennedy’s committee currently holding hostage the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to be surgeon general, ostensibly unsatisfied with his views regarding homosexuals, but actually just thumbing the president’s eye. Holsinger once stated the obvious, to wit, that anal and oral sex can be gangbusters to one’s health, terribly politically incorrect, of course. The big thing in the hallowed chambers of the Congress now is the “investigation/hearing” as modus operandi for hamstringing any progress in governing, and this will be the case through the elections next year.

As things get better in Iraq – though this is by no means guaranteed despite the current upswing – the democrats will try harder to undermine the administration. The elections may well turn on whether or not the president has been right about the Middle East, and currently he seems to be vindicated by the “surge” and the new strategies in place there. Voters will recognize results, just as they already are bored to tears with the whining of Senate Majority Leader Reid and the “I’m great because I’m a grand-mom” approach by Speaker Pelosi, as if men don’t give a fig about children and everyone else.

The president said the other day that Mukasey doesn’t even know if water-boarding is being carried out (classified information); that he doesn’t want to offer an opinion that could legally jeopardize U.S. interrogators; and doesn’t want the terrorists to know what may or may not be done with them when the little darlings are caught. That should be good enough for “Leaky” and the gang (sounds like a rock group), and they should pass the nomination out and let the chips fall where they may, but do they have the intestinal fortitude? Nah.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lexington Herald-Leader...Good/Bad/Slow Days

The Lexington Herald-Leader, like most people, has good days and bad days…or slow days, such as the one the other day when Merlene Davis, its resident race-monger, took her usual monthly or so shot at the University of Kentucky when faced with a deadline and nothing of substance to offer. She used as an example a very successful black man, Syracuse University professor Boyce Watkins, to commit her stuff vicariously…at least one supposes. He was here recently to grind her axe, notwithstanding that he graduated from UK with a triple major and later got a Masters, despite having to look after a child he fathered as he escaped high school…or did he (look after the child, that is)?

Davis didn’t mention who paid for his education, but it seems likely that he didn’t, at least for all of it or even most of it. Davis said this: “Watkins recently took a step forward in his personal life when he asked Romana Lavalas to marry him on a radio program heard by millions of listeners.” Watkins said this: “He [Bill O’Reilly] reminds me of the goofy conservatives I used to debate on the UK campus. I owe them a lot, since they prepared me for the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world. So, on those grounds, I would have to say that proposing marriage was harder, especially since I did it in front of 11 million people.” One doubts that the new bride is the mother of the child mentioned above and wonders at the bona fides to register success of someone who treats marriage cavalierly enough to make a mockery of it on the radio. It was on YouTube, too, of course…EGAD! How shallow does it get?

Obviously hoping for a newspaper award of some kind, the paper recently did a front-page-above-the-fold series devoted to a druggie who managed in a very short time to bear five children, most certainly also drug-addicted, with the last one by her stepfather…a little bit of titillation via the step-incest route (called by some just “sleeping with whoever’s available”). If memory serves, she was in jail in the last accounting. The government or some other agency will, of course, raise the children. This is news? One gathers that it was supposed to be the usual tearjerker, with pity and gasps all around, perhaps designed for the “family” section. It was just nauseating.

The paper did well in an editorial recently, reminding folks that basketball is not the end-all and be-all of existence, even in Kentucky. After spending millions of dollars in 2004 in bringing Rupp Arena “into the 21st century,” the city fathers/mothers seem interested now in just assigning the arena to some sort of conference space and building a brand new Rupp across the street on a badly needed parking lot…just $200 million worth, not counting the usual cost overruns probably amounting to another $100 mil or so. Kudos to the paper for slamming this idea for what it is – nonsense on a huge scale. It reminds of the time a few years ago when the solons actually voted at least once to close Vine Street at Broadway! How do these people get elected?

A nadir of sorts was reached in the 31 October edition, when the front-page-above-the-fold “breaking-news space” was devoted to the fact that people are more likely to divorce at the five-year mark of marriage than at other times – sort of a “five-year itch” thing. The paper gave lots of reasons, but one suspects that, with the work forces gender-integrated all across the board now, the actual reason is simply the “fooling around” thing.

The nadir was enhanced exponentially in the fact that in the same edition an account remarking that the October American-death rate in Iraq (36 as of 30 October) was the lowest since March 2006 was relegated to page 14 and given a paltry 102 words. This could mean that the strategy being used now by the U.S. is working, mainly that more areas of the country are now being protected by Iraqis trained by the U.S., not to mention the Baghdad protocol (surge). This is bad news for those who adamantly have opposed the Iraqi action…thus, page 14.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark