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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Patrick J. Buchanan: Is Notre Dame Still Catholic?

Is Notre Dame Still Catholic?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

By inviting Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins has polarized the Catholic community nationwide -- and raised a question. What does it mean to be a Catholic university in post-Christian America?

Are there truths about faith and morality that are closed to debate at Notre Dame? Or is Notre Dame like London's Hyde Park, where all ideas and all advocates get a hearing?

To Catholics, abortion is the killing of an unborn child, a premeditated breach of God's Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill." The case is closed for all time. Any who participate in an abortion are excommunicated. Catholic politicians from Nancy Pelosi to Joe Biden who support a "woman's right to choose" have been denounced from pulpits and denied Communion.

Obama, however, is the most pro-abortion president ever. On his third day in office, by executive order, he repealed the Bush prohibition against using tax dollars to fund agencies abroad that perform abortions.

He supports partial-birth abortion, where a baby's soft skull is sliced open with scissors in the birth canal and its brains sucked out to ease its passage, a procedure Sen. Pat Moynihan said "comes as close to infanticide as anything I have seen in our judiciary."

In the Illinois legislature, Obama helped block the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill to save the lives of infant survivors of abortion. He voted to allow doctors and nurses to let these tiny babies die of neglect and be tossed out with the medical waste.

Barack is committed to signing the Freedom of Choice Act, which would repeal every federal and state restriction on abortion. He has smoothed the path for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Notre Dame, a university that teaches that all innocent human life is sacred, will thus honor a leader determined to ensure that a woman's right to destroy her unborn child in the womb remains unrestricted.

There is thus a direct clash between what Notre Dame professes to stand for and what Notre Dame is doing.

Says Ralph McInerny, a philosophy professor since 1955: "By inviting Barack Obama to be the 2009 commencement speaker, Notre Dame has forfeited its right to call itself a Catholic University.... (T)his is a deliberate thumbing of the collective nose at the Roman Catholic Church to which Notre Dame purports to be faithful.

"Faithful? Tell it to Julian the Apostate."

McInerny calls Father Jenkins' invitation to Obama worse than the "usual effort of the university to get into warm contact with the power figures of the day. It is an unequivocal abandonment of any pretense at being a Catholic university."

An honorary degree, writes Catholic author George Weigel, is a statement that here is a man we should admire and emulate. But how can a Catholic university say that about a man who means to appoint Supreme Court justices who will keep constitutional and legal the systematic slaughter of the unborn that has taken 50 million lives in 35 years?

Can Father Jenkins not see the contradiction here that renders Notre Dame a morally incoherent institution?

Diocesan Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend has told Father Jenkins he will not be attending commencement because of Obama's support of embryonic stem cell research.

Said the bishop, "While claiming to separate policies from science, (Obama) has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life."

Pope Benedict has yet to be heard from. But on his visit to the United States, he declared that any appeal to academic freedom "to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission."

Does not honoring the most visible pro-abortion advocate in America "betray the identity and mission" of Notre Dame?

Father Jenkins says the invitation "should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life."

But what Notre Dame is saying with this invitation is that Obama's 100 percent support for policies and programs that bring death to more than a million unborn children every year is no disqualification to being honored by a university dedicated to Our Lady who carried to term the Son of God.

Chris Carrington, a political science major, regards the opposition to Obama's appearance as un-Catholic: "To not allow someone here because of their beliefs would seem a little hypocritical and contradictory to what the mission of the university and church should be."

The obtuse Carrington has stumbled on the relevant question: Is Notre Dame still a repository, teacher and exemplar of eternal truths about God and Man, right and wrong, whose mission is to convey and defend those truths in a hostile world?

Or has Notre Dame joined the secularists in their endless scavenger hunt to seek and find truth in the marketplace of ideas?

Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."


This Is Not Funny Anymore: Another Of POTUS Barack Obama's Nominees, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Pays Overdue Taxes.

Read more.

Laugh, if you want -- but I'm NOT.

Update: Watch Video:

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Some Question Whether UK Has Done The Neccesary Background Check And Ask: Is [John] Calipari The Right Guy For UK [Basketball]?

Read more here, or excerpts below:

An open letter to University of Kentucky President Lee Todd:

Re: What appears to be the impending hiring by UK of John Calipari as its men's basketball coach.

The present athletics administration at the University of Kentucky has never seemed especially adept at conducting thorough background checks on major coaching hires.

In 2002, Kentucky found itself on NCAA probation in football. Yet UK went out and hired a new football coach (Rich Brooks) without even checking to see whether that coach had a history of NCAA violations in his past (he did).

Then, in 2007, Kentucky was seeking to fill its men's basketball head coaching position. Which only happens to be one of the most high-profile jobs in all of American sports.

In filling this vital public relations-oriented job, UK's background check failed to identify that it was offering the position to a prickly introvert (Billy Gillispie) prone to extreme mood swings.

Given the past performance, Dr. Todd, you'll forgive me for being skeptical that the background check UK will run on John Calipari will actually ask the questions that need to be raised.

So, Dr. Todd, let's address some of the questions you better have asked of Calipari before giving him the keys to our state's signature college sports program.

Question One: Who is William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley and what role does he play in Calipari's recruiting?

The short answer is that Wesley is a behind-the-scenes figure believed in recent years to have "steered" high-profile recruits Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans to Memphis.

Wesley's ties to Calipari go back to the recruitment of former Memphis star Dajuan Wagner (the son of former Louisville player Milt Wagner). Wesley was Dajuan's godfather. ...

Now, maybe there is nothing wrong with this relationship. Or maybe "Worldwide Wes" and his tie with Calipari are the next big recruiting scandal waiting to explode.

With your legacy at UK at stake, Dr. Todd, are you sure that's a risk worth running?

Question Two: What kind of discipline exists inside a John Calipari-run program?

You'll recall in 2002, Dr. Todd, all the local angst that was created during the Team Turmoil season.

That season, Kentucky had two players get in a fight (over a girl, apparently) on the team plane and two underage UK players get busted for trying to use fake IDs to get into a local club.

It all had the locals in a tizzy.

Well, compared to what's gone on among the players at Memphis, that kind of stuff seems quaint.

Question Three: What exactly is the relationship between Calipari-coached players and agents?

As is well known, Calipari's 1996 Final Four team at Massachusetts was forced by the NCAA to "vacate" its tournament results because star center Marcus Camby was being paid by an agent.

Calipari's sympathizers always point out that the coach was not found personally culpable in the UMass scandal.

Which is true.

But wouldn't you think a coach who had been "victimized" by such a scenario would be especially vigilant that another such case not happen on his watch? ...

But, Dr. Todd, you might want to ask yourself if there is a pattern at work.

In fact, you might want to ask Calipari why the Memphis Commercial Appeal asked in that same Nov., 21, 2006, column why a man "with known connections to agents" was "regularly showing up at practices" during the 2005-06 Memphis season.

We'll end, Dr. Todd, with some questions you ought to be asking yourself.

Like what is the all-fire hurry in this coaching search? After Billy Donovan said no the last time, you rushed and made a colossal hiring mistake.

Now, you are flirting with hiring a coach whose background screams out for a thorough investigation, and it appears you are closing the deal in three days.


Dr. Todd, you talked often about being the president who was going to end UK's cycle of one major sports scandal a decade.

Is the hire you are about to make consistent with that goal?

Kentucky's choice isn't hire John Calipari or never win big again.

There are several coaches who I believe are available right now — Sean Miller; Travis Ford; maybe Thad Matta or even the best coach in the country, Tom Izzo — who are capable of winning at Kentucky at the level UK wants to win.

No, Dr. Todd, the question here is whether Kentucky is back to trying to win at all costs or whether it is going to try to win with honor.

If it's the latter, Dr. Todd, can you really hire John Calipari?

Editor's comment: These are very valid questions (with valid comments) that deserve answers before a new Coach (like John Calipari) is hired for UK Basketball.


Protect Yourself From The "Conficker" Computer Worm. Read More.

Read more here.

You may also want to read this.

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Senator Jim Bunning Says His Fundraising Is "Lousy", Unwittingly Invites Comparisons. Read More.

Read more here.

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Breaking News: Memphis Coach, John Calipari, Is Coming To Kentucky To Replace Billy Gillispie. Read More.

Read more here.

My thoughts?

He seems to be a likely winning Coach (since that's all UK fans are looking for), and he would rather be foolish to turn down all that money -- $35 million over 8 years.

Now he just has to make sure that the contract is SIGNED!


Talking About Bankruptcy, Sun-Times Media, The Parent Company Of The Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper, Has Filed For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Read more here.

Many other newspapers have followed the same path.

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BREAKING NEWS: Frederick A. Henderson, Interim Chief Executive Of General Motors: Bankruptcy Is "More Probable" Than Ever. Watch Video.

Go here to watch the GM video, and watch the news video below:

Update: General Motors stock falls almost 30% to $1.94 a share, even as the stock market rose overall.

(Hat tip to E*

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And More On UK And John Calipari Impending Marriage: Another Rushed Hiring Decision?

Another rushed hiring decision?

A turnover-filled season ended with one final turnover for the University of Kentucky Wildcats — a turnover at the top of the men's basketball program.

No, Billy Gillispie never "fit" at UK. He never "got it" in regard to the very public demands on the occupant of arguably the most public job in the commonwealth. And that speaks volumes about the vetting process that preceded his hiring two years ago.

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. are familiar with what it takes to "nurture" Big Blue Nation, as Todd described it Friday. Considering Gillispie's failures in this regard, it's only logical to assume that a little legwork would have made it clear in 2007 that he would not fit the job.

Frankly, the whole Gillispie era at UK has been handled as sloppily as the Cats often handled the ball this season. Who, after all, lets a coach work for two years without a contract?

That suggests a lack of control at the top.

Two years ago, Barnhart — and since the buck stops at the top, Todd — spent more time looking at Gillispie's record for quick turnarounds of programs than they did looking at the man himself. News reports on Monday suggest the search for Gillispie's successor is being handled with similar haste.

You have to wonder: Why the rush? Why risk missing potential signs of trouble ahead? Why not take the time to do due diligence and get it right?

Messy partings with coaches are distracting at any time. Messy partings with coaches that can cost a university up to $6 million during times of economic distress and cutbacks in academic budgeting are extremely distracting, no matter what pot that $6 million comes from.

Mixing sports analogies, in a friendly game of golf, an errant drive off the first tee might earn you a mulligan, a second tee shot that counts as the first stroke of your round. But even in a friendly game of golf, you rarely ever get more than one mulligan per round.

In the hiring of basketball coaches, Barnhart has used his mulligan.

And by virtue of where that buck stops, Todd has, too.


More On UK And John Calipari Impending Marriage: Win At Any Cost?

Win at any cost?

Forget the historic and ongoing Frankfort budget crisis, the jeopardy into which statewide school accountability has been thrust, and all the other important issues left unresolved by the 2009 General Assembly. Let's talk about something that really matters to the people of the state -- replacing the University of Kentucky's basketball coach.

That's a joke, but most Kentuckians won't get it. They're busy discussing the possible choice of Memphis coach John Calipari.

Billy Gillispie just didn't win enough games. Had he done that, he wouldn't be packing his bags. In a state where the reputation of the flagship university's basketball program was, for decades, the only thing with respect to which the general citizenry could make happy national comparisons, hoops still matter most -- and wins matter most of all.

But beyond that, Mr. Gillispie also didn't seem to know how to deal with the media. And he didn't seem to understand the care and feeding of UK faithful, from Pikeville to Paducah. Nor did he seem to have the right relationship with his bosses, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd. Worst of all, at times he appeared willing to blame his players for failures in which he shared.

Mr. Barnhart, who can be admired for picking football coach Rich Brooks and supporting him through bad times, made a hasty choice in Mr. Gillispie. UK turned red-faced after being turned down a couple of times. The AD deserves as much blame for the resulting mess as the coach he selected.

It's important that it not happen again. UK must get this one right, and right isn't just sizzling seasons and tournament titles. The unreasonable expectations of Big Blue Nation (it wasn't even satisfied with success like Joe Hall's or class like Tubby Smith's) must not force another error. The worst mistake of all would be naming someone whose ethics would buckle under Big Blue Nation's demands.


Is Kentucky Courting Trouble With Memphis Coach John Calipari? Read More.

Read more here, and you be the judge.


OK, Here's Your Laugh For The Day.


ESPN: John Capilari Is "Sitting On An 8 Year, $35 Million Deal From Kentucky", That Will Make Him Highest Paid Coach. Watch Video.


Monday, March 30, 2009

POTUS Barack Obama Denies Bailout To General Motors And Chrysler, Gives Them 60 Days And 30 Days To Come Up With Better Plans. Watch Video Below.

It's Monday, So We Want Our Redbox Promo Code, Right? wELL, hERE yOU gO. eNJOY.

Here is your code below:




BREAKING NEWS: It Appears Memphis Coach, John Calipari, Has Been Picked To Replace Billy Gillispie At University Of Kentucky (UK); NO Deal Yet.

Read more here.

Stay tuned for more updates.


We Need To Laugh.


Words To Live By.

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

-- James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 21 January 1792


Sunday, March 29, 2009

John McCain Is NOT Sold On SILLY Sarah Failin'. Watch Video.

"Eternal Vigilance Is The Price Of Freedom."

Nation makes racial strides, but hate groups are growing
By Leonard Pitts

There are now 926 hate groups in this country.

Take a second and consider that number. It represents an increase of more than 50 percent since 2000. And by "hate groups," I don't mean guys in their bathrobes who go online and pretend their followers are legion. No, I mean actual Klan cells, neo-Nazi sects, gay-bashing "churches," cliques of black separatists, white nationalists, nativists, racist skinheads and other merchants of venom who meet, plot and recruit in all 48 contiguous states. (Alaska and Hawaii have no known hate groups.) Nine hundred twenty-six of them. The number is a record.

We learn all this from the Southern Poverty Law Center ( in Montgomery, Ala., which has, since its founding in 1971, become a leading authority on the business of hate. According to the latest issue of Intelligence Report, the SPLC's quarterly magazine, that business is booming.

And maybe you wonder how this can be. How can hate enjoy such phenomenal growth in a nation where a Jew serves as senator from Connecticut, a Muslim serves as representative from Minnesota, a Hispanic is governor of New Mexico and a black man is President? The answer is that we are a nation where a Jew serves as senator from Connecticut, a Muslim serves as representative from Minnesota, a Hispanic is governor of New Mexico and a black man is President. Because if those things strike you as signs of progress, well, they are signs of apocalypse to those who believe only white, male Christians are fit to lead.

But that's not the only reason for the increase. SPLC also cites the debate over illegal immigration that has dominated much of this decade. Though former President Bush offered thoughtful, moderate leadership on the issue, he was drowned out by demagogic extremists competing to see which could most effectively scapegoat undocumented workers. They, too, bear responsibility here.

Finally, there is the economy. When things get tough, people become more receptive to the idea that their miseries are all the fault of some alien other. So the stock market, too, is implicated. Hate rises when the Dow falls.

I imagine the SPLC findings land like cold water in the faces of those who took Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency as proof that the nation was finally cured of the sickness of hate. The truth, I'm afraid, is more nuanced than that.

Maybe it helps to think in terms of alcoholism, a disease that can, with treatment, be contained, controlled, put into remission -- but never cured. Even when you've got years of sobriety under your belt, the germ of it lurks in your bloodstream. Which is why alcoholics do not call themselves cured. Rather, they say they are recovering.

Hate is something like that, a fact some of us have never quite understood. Such folks are convinced there is a goal line out there somewhere, which, once crossed, will allow the nation to declare itself cured. And once cured, we'll never have to grapple with hatred again.

But it doesn't work that way.

In a nation so deeply riven by culture, race and religion, there is always a temptation to hate somebody, to blame some group of others for the job you lost, the crime committed against you, the fear and uncertainty you feel. There is a simplicity and a seductiveness to it that are all too easily mistaken for righteousness.

So there is no "cure" for a nation's hate. There is only an ongoing process of getting better, not unlike the alcoholic who must daily earn his sobriety anew. This explosion of hate is a reminder of what happens when we forget that, when we are undeservedly sanguine about how enlightened we've become.

It is said that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Well, that's the going rate for tolerance, too.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His e-mail address is

I imagine the SPLC findings land like cold water in the faces of those who took Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency as proof that the nation was finally cured of the sickness of hate. The truth, I'm afraid, is more nuanced than that.

Maybe it helps to think in terms of alcoholism, a disease that can, with treatment, be contained, controlled, put into remission -- but never cured. Even when you've got years of sobriety under your belt, the germ of it lurks in your bloodstream. Which is why alcoholics do not call themselves cured. Rather, they say they are recovering.

Hate is something like that, a fact some of us have never quite understood. Such folks are convinced there is a goal line out there somewhere, which, once crossed, will allow the nation to declare itself cured. And once cured, we'll never have to grapple with hatred again.

But it doesn't work that way.

In a nation so deeply riven by culture, race and religion, there is always a temptation to hate somebody, to blame some group of others for the job you lost, the crime committed against you, the fear and uncertainty you feel. There is a simplicity and a seductiveness to it that are all too easily mistaken for righteousness.

So there is no "cure" for a nation's hate. There is only an ongoing process of getting better, not unlike the alcoholic who must daily earn his sobriety anew. This explosion of hate is a reminder of what happens when we forget that, when we are undeservedly sanguine about how enlightened we've become.

It is said that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Well, that's the going rate for tolerance, too.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His e-mail address is

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Breaking News: POTUS Barack Obama's Administration Pushes General Motors CEO, Rick Wagoner, "Off A Cliff".

Read more from the Politico folks.

I guess when heads have to roll, as in this case, in order to resuscitate a dying automaker (General Motors), where else should one start but with the head, as in GM CEO, Rick Wagoner!

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There Is BIG Trouble For BIG Joe (Biden). Read More.

Yes, read more here.

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Jimmy Cliff, For Your listening Pleasure. Enjoy.

You can get it, if you really want:


Give a little, take a little:

The harder they come, the harder they fall:

I can see clearly now:

Many rivers to cross:

By the rivers of Babylon:


And Yet Another View: "Legislature Failed In Key Areas".

Legislature failed in key areas
By Al Cross

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The General Assembly has gone through several phases in the last 40 years. It has entered another, as shown by Thursday's one-day-early end of a session that lawmakers said was unusually productive and harmonious -- but ended with some important business unfinished.

The good news about early adjournment was that it confirmed the end of a highly partisan phase that began when Republicans took control of the Senate in 2000. The partisanship had ebbed in recent years, but this time, it was rarely visible.

The bad news is that as the legislature builds collegiality and reasserts its independence from the Governor, it is again proving that it can be highly self-serving and unaccountable -- and repeatedly resists relatively minor measures that could open the door to more accountability and transparency.

The major bills left behind would have offered new economic-development incentives and created a way to build the new Louisville bridges. Lawmakers should have suspended the rules as usual and dealt with those issues Thursday and Friday, the days reserved for consideration of gubernatorial vetoes. But as some mentioned Thursday, Gov. Steve Beshear can put those into a special session that will likely be needed to deal with worsening budget problems.

The House's primary public rationale for sticking to the rules was that it wanted to restore what those in Congress call "regular order," after a 2008 session that didn't meet the adjournment deadline and spawned a lawsuit. Some House Democrats also feared that Republican Senate President David Williams would put them in another of his procedural boxes and give them the choice of looking bad or passing a bill they disliked.

That would have spoiled lawmakers' good feeling about the session, and the good reviews they apparently got from constituents -- even after raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol -- for "coming together with an open hand and not a closed fist," as Williams put it in a KET interview with other leaders.

The fear of a final-day foul-up was probably outdated. Williams, interested in running for the U.S. Senate next year or perhaps governor in 2011, was no longer the Bully from Burkesville, but the Cool Cat from Cumberland County. He worked out differences with Beshear. Iin new House Speaker Greg Stumbo he had a Democratic adversary who matched his legislative experience and skill, and as the session drew to a close they showered praise on each other.

"Senator Williams was wonderful to work with," Stumbo said on Lexington's WKYT-TV. "He gets a bum rap a lot of times. He is a progressive thinker." On KET, Williams handed out compliments to several House Democrats.

Editor's comment: "The House's primary public rationale for sticking to the rules was that it wanted to restore what those in Congress call "regular order," after a 2008 session that didn't meet the adjournment deadline and spawned a lawsuit."

I think that rules MUST mean what they say, otherwise they need to be done away with. So I applaud Greg Stumbo for insisting that [House] rules mean what they say, though I wish the General Assembly could have accomplished more, rather than "doodle" their way through, and leave many worthy tasks unaccomplished!

To continue reading, click here.


Another View: Looking Back.

Looking back

It's understandable that Speaker Greg Stumbo wants to claim things went better in this session of the Kentucky General Assembly. And in some ways they actually did.

The chaotic end of the previous legislative meeting was an embarrassment, and Mr. Stumbo campaigned for the speaker's job in part by pledging to adopt reasonable operating rules, then follow them. No more last-minute procedural scams. No more clocks that suddenly stop.

So it's difficult to criticize Mr. Stumbo for refusing to change the rules in order to give last-minute attention to such important measures as extra funding for prosecutors and public defenders, new approaches to economic development incentives and a system to oversee mega-projects like the two new Ohio River bridges and the Spaghetti Junction redo at Louisville. But why were these issues still unresolved, late in the session? There was no reason any of them had to be last-minute quandaries.

The Speaker says his chamber was transparent, but the public doesn't know how or why Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark's personal pique was rewarded -- with leadership's decision to sit on the mega-project bill.

Stumbo publicity claims his first outing as speaker "has widely been called one of the most successful legislative sessions in recent memory." By whom? Those who wanted a paltry, inadequate cigarette tax increase and no broad revenue reform? Those who wanted to abandon state school accountability for three years, sabotage emphasis on writing and narrow the scope of Kentucky's historic education reform? Those who wanted to put critical projects like the Ohio River bridges and Spaghetti Junction fix on hold?

"This has been a highly productive time," Mr. Stumbo insists. Such a claim is absurd, unless one is content with sidetracking bad legislation, including threats to mine safety and social issue mischief.

The best thing one can say about this session is that it might be transitional. Better luck, and work, next time.


"Session Was Marked By Achievements, Cooperation."

Session was marked by achievements, cooperation
By Tom Loftus

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The 2009 Kentucky General Assembly session ended Thursday with what was, compared with recent years, a gentlemanly disagreement over whether to go home or press on, perhaps to the wee hours, and finish work on a handful of bills.

The House, controlled by Democrats, decided to follow its rules and adjourn -- thus thwarting the Republican-controlled Senate's desire to continue working.

The small dust-up somewhat obscured the fact that lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear had accomplished the session's defining task in February -- passing legislation to balance the budget that included tax increases on cigarettes and store sales of beer, wine and liquor.

And merely by adjourning during daylight (a day early, in fact), the General Assembly surely improved an image tarnished by the bedlam of the 2008 session, when lawmakers had to stop the legislative clocks and work past midnight on the final day.

In short, this year's session had its share of accomplishments.

"It was a very productive session if you look at the last two or three sessions (and) what was accomplished," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "You've got to credit House and Senate members and the governor's office for working together."

In addition to passing the politically tough tax bill, lawmakers acted to keep the gas tax at its current level, preventing it from falling along with gas prices. And that allowed lawmakers -- with the help of federal stimulus funds -- to pay for a strong road construction plan.

They also scrapped the controversial Commonwealth Accountability Testing System for public schools and ordered a new test and accountability system to be phased in over a three-year period. And they launched a program to offer an intensive, secured treatment program for drug offenders as an alternative to prison -- a way to help deal with the soaring inmate population.

"There was a remarkable amount of substantive work accomplished for a so-called short session, particularly when you think of how difficult the circumstances were as we began," said Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, who has pushed for the education and drug-treatment bills for years.

A spirit of cooperation among the House, Senate and governor contrasted sharply with the distrust that ruled recent sessions. And cooperation lasted until nearly the end, when it finally collapsed in Thursday's disagreement between the House and Senate over whether to consider some bills.

Major players attributed the results partly to the financial crisis -- a projected $456 million revenue shortfall -- that forced action to balance the budget and partly to the fact that Beshear, a rookie with an unrealistic agenda last year, had a year of experience under his belt.

"I inherited a situation in Frankfort that had been here for years in terms of partisan gridlock," Beshear, a Democrat, said in an interview Friday. To break that, he said, "I had to build trust and build relationships -- individual relationships with legislators. And that takes time."

The key accomplishment of the session was the budget-balancing legislation, which included politically tough votes to double the state's 30-cent-per-pack cigarette tax and put the 6 percent sales tax on package sales of alcoholic beverages.

Lawmakers approved it in February so the taxes could be imposed soon enough to help state revenues this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Beshear emphasized that the budget-balancing plan avoided cuts in basic school funding and other programs to protect public safety and the needy.

Scores of other bills passed, but the session ended without lawmakers using their two final days to pass several key bills -- including one to create an authority that could authorize tolls to fund the Louisville bridges project.

Also ignored at the end was a bill to expand types of tax breaks and incentives the state could offer to attract and retain jobs.

The reason was that the House decided to stick to its rules and consider only gubernatorial vetoes on the last two days.

Stumbo said House members from both parties strongly supported the decision.

"The last session (in 2008) left a terrible taste in everybody's mouth," Stumbo said. "They wanted to make a statement: 'We're not going to do business that way.' "

But Kelly said the few significant bills still pending had been debated at length and could have been negotiated to passage in the final two days without confusion or late hours.

"It's hard for me to say I was disappointed in anything in this session," he said. "But it will certainly be a disappointment if there is an economic development opportunity that we lose" because the incentives bill did not pass.

Likewise, after touting the accomplishments, Beshear said of the session's conclusion, "I'm disappointed we weren't able to do more. Several important bills were left on the table despite broad support in both chambers."

Whether cooperation or confrontation will dominate future relations is likely to be known soon.

State revenues are likely to fall far short of budgeted requirements in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Beshear may have to call a special legislative session as soon as June to tackle that problem.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Business Beats Card Check—For Now".

Business Beats Card Check—For Now
But can Corporate America stay united?

The business community is dancing a victory jig over Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's announcement that he'll provide the crucial vote to stop Big Labor's top priority, the "card check" bill. Fair enough, though the real test of corporate America is yet to come.

Arlen Specter.

Mr. Specter has been in the hot seat, the one Republican who had previously voted to debate card check -- legislation that would eliminate secret ballots in union elections. Up for re-election next year in a big union state, he was under intense pressure to again help his labor allies by giving Democrats the filibuster-breaking vote.

He might have done it, too. Instead, the business community managed something it has not managed in years: unity. Hundreds of companies, industry groups and organizations made clear that should he support the bill, an unwavering business front would expend all its resources to elect a different Republican in next year's primary.

They were able to back up that threat in part because they'd successfully turned what had been a dry question of labor law into an emotional, grass-roots issue. For more than a year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups have doggedly run ads and held events to explain card check to voters. Surveys show that the more Americans know about the bill's antidemocratic provisions, the more they hate it.

That public awareness had allowed Club for Growth President Pat Toomey -- who in 2004 narrowly lost a primary to Mr. Specter -- to start beating the senator with card check in anticipation of a rematch. A Quinnipiac poll this week showed the senator trailing Mr. Toomey 27% to 41% in a matchup. The conservative base is angry over Mr. Specter's vote for the Obama stimulus, but card check wasn't helping.

Meanwhile, the bill's introduction in Congress set off a frenzy for Mr. Specter's vote, and unions became so desperate that Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George publicly crowed that he had promised to change Democrats into Republicans for the primary to help Mr. Specter win. Faced with the possibility that he might now be accused of being bought off, Mr. Specter finally wrote off the legislation.

In theory, his decision to join his 40 GOP colleagues in a filibuster kills the bill. In reality, the business community just moved into a far more dangerous phase. Big Labor spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats and get card check; it won't give up. And the unions know the corporate world has a history of fracturing.

All of which explains why, in the past weeks, the new talking point is "compromise." The union goal is to gin up support for a watered-down version of "card check," one that nervous Senate Democrats such as Arkansas's Blanche Lincoln or Colorado's Michael Bennet (both up for election) -- as well as a Republican or two -- would feel comfortable putting on the floor for debate. Once the unions fly past a filibuster, they could then "fix" the bill back to the way they like it.

To make this strategy work, the unions need some in the business community to provide political cover to Senate supporters. Democrats took their first stab at this late last week, when news leaked that the CEOs of three companies -- Whole Foods, Starbucks and Costco -- were breaking with the rest of the business world to support some sort of compromise, although the details were vague.

The point man was former Clinton counsel Lanny Davis, who remains tight with this White House. The objective was to present a "bipartisan" plan, lure other nervous businesses into discussions, and thus inspire a string of defections.

To corporate America's credit, it didn't take the bait. Instead the anti-card-check forces united to publicly scream "no compromise." At the same time, left-leaning blogs, congressmen and unions themselves began bashing the group for agreeing to negotiate. By the time the chastened group actually held its press call, it wasn't embracing a compromise so much as a general set of principles -- which helpfully included support for the secret ballot.

"Talk of a compromise at this stage is like giving away runs in the ninth inning," says Rhonda Bentz of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

In recent years, standard operating procedure has been for the business world to split apart in pursuit of self-interest or to get cold feet. Card check has so far been an exception, but the pressure will only increase. Left-leaning labor lawyers and lobbyists keep whispering in their corporate clients' ears that card check will indeed pass, and that they'd better cut a deal while they can. Senate Democrats are testing the waters with their home-state business communities, looking to horse trade other goodies in return for card-check indulgence.

These tactics have worked in the past. But the lesson of card check so far is that, united, the business world still wields extraordinary clout. So extraordinary that it has managed to bottle up Big Labor's top priority in a town now run exclusively by labor's Democratic patrons. Business's continued unity, or lack of it, will decide what happens next.

Write to


"Obamanomics Isn't About Big Government".

Obamanomics Isn't About Big Government
The president's focus is on improving human capital.

Twenty-eight years ago, Ronald Reagan used the severe economic downturn of 1980-82 to implement an economic philosophy that not only gave force and meaning to a wide range of initiatives but also offered a way back to sustained economic growth. Is there a similarly powerful animating idea behind Obamanomics?

I believe there is -- and it's not a return to big government.

The expansive and expensive forays of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board into Wall Street notwithstanding, President Barack Obama's 10-year budget (whose projections may prove wildly optimistic if the economy fails to rebound by early next year) presents a remarkably conservative picture. In 10 years, taxes are expected to fall to around 19% of GDP, a lower level than the late 1990s. Spending is expected to drop to around 22.5% of GDP, about where it was under Ronald Reagan -- including nondefense discretionary spending at about 3.6% of GDP, its lowest since data on this were first collected in 1962.

The real distinction between Obamanomics and Reaganomics involves government's role in achieving growth and broad-based prosperity. The animating idea of Reaganomics was that the economy grows best from the top down. Lower taxes on the wealthy prompts them to work harder and invest more. When they do so, everyone benefits. Neither Reagan nor the apostles of supply-side economics explicitly promised that such benefits would "trickle down" to everyone else but this was broadly understood to be the justification.

Reaganomics surely marked the beginning of one of the longest bull markets in American history and generated enormous gains at the top. But its benefits were not widely shared. After the Reagan tax cuts, growth in the median wage slowed, adjusted for inflation. After George W. Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the median wage dropped. Meanwhile, an increasing share of total income went to the top 1% of income earners. In 1980, before Reagan took office, the highest-paid 1% took home 9% of total national income. By 2007, before the economy melted down, the richest 1% was taking home 22%.

Obamanomics, by contrast, holds that an economy grows best from the bottom up. The president proposes to increase taxes on the highest 2% of income earners starting in 2011. Those tax increases will fund more Pell grants allowing lower-income children to attend college, better pay for teachers that show they're worth it, broader access to health care, improved infrastructure, and more basic research. These and related expenditures are designed to help Americans become more productive. You might think of it as "trickle up" economics.

The key is public investment. Reaganomics did not view any public spending as an investment in the future except when it came to spending on the military. Hence, since 1980, federal spending on education, job training, infrastructure and basic research and development (apart from defense-related R&D) have all shrunk as a proportion of GDP. And apart from a modest expansion of health insurance available to poor children, there has been no significant attempt to make health insurance broadly affordable to Americans.

Obamanomics is premised on the central importance of public investments in the productivity of Americans. The logic is straightforward. Capital no longer remains within the borders of a nation where it is saved. It moves to wherever around the globe it can get the best return. Some of it flows as highly liquid investments that slosh across borders at the slightest provocation, as we're witnessing in the current financial crisis. But much takes the form of direct investments in new plants and equipment, telecommunications systems, laboratories, offices and -- most important of all -- jobs. Such capital goes to nations that can deliver high returns either because labor is cheap and taxes and regulations low or because labor is highly productive: well educated, healthy and supported by modern infrastructure.

In this way, every nation faces an implicit choice of whether its strategic advantage will lie in low costs or high productivity. For the better part of the last three decades America's job strategy has tended toward the former. But this inevitably exerts downward pressure on the real wages of a larger and larger portion of our population.

Only those Americans whose parents can afford to give them a high-quality private education and health care, and who can situate themselves in locations with excellent infrastructures of telecommunication, transportation, public health and safety, have been able to link up with global capital on more positive terms. But not even they are entirely secure economically, because they face growing shortages of talented people they can rely on within easy reach, and can't entirely avoid the disadvantages of a deteriorating public infrastructure, such as ever more congested roads and airports.

Obamanomics recognizes that the only resource uniquely rooted in a national economy is its people -- their skills, insights, capacities to collaborate, and the transportation and communication systems that link them together. Public investment is the key to attracting long-term private investment so that a nation's people can prosper.

Bill Clinton understood this but failed to do much about America's deteriorating public investments because he came to office during an economic expansion, when the major worry was excessive government spending leading to inflation. Mr. Obama comes to office during the biggest downturn since the Great Depression, and his plan represents the largest commitment to public investment in 30 years.

Regulation, done correctly, is also a form of public investment because it enables consumers and investors to be confident about what they're receiving, and ensures that the side-effects of trades don't harm the public. Reaganomics assumed that deregulated markets always function better. They do in many respects. But when they don't, all hell can break loose, retarding economic growth.

Energy markets were deregulated and we wound up with Enron. Food and drug safety has been neglected, resulting in contaminated products that have endangered consumers and threatened whole industries. Financial markets were deregulated and we now have a global meltdown. Obamanomics, by contrast, views appropriate regulation as an essential precondition for sustainable growth.

Under Reaganomics, government was the problem. It can still be a problem. But a central tenet of Obamanomics is that there are even bigger problems out there which cannot be solved without government. By building the economy from the bottom up, enhancing public investment, and instituting reasonable regulation, Obamanomics marks a reversal of the economic philosophy that has dominated America since 1981.

Mr. Reich is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.


"Mr. Obama's Surge".

Mr. Obama's Surge
He'll need some of Bush's fortitude to resist the crossfire from left and right.

President Obama unveiled his strategy for the war in Afghanistan yesterday, and there is much to like in it. Our main question -- and, we suspect, the world's -- is whether the new Commander in Chief is really prepared to devote the resources and political capital that his plan will need to succeed.

Such fortitude is essential because this new Afghan-Pakistan campaign will be both long and expensive. The President's claim yesterday that "the situation is increasingly perilous" overstates the immediate trouble; Afghanistan has nowhere near the level of violence that consumed Iraq in 2006 before President Bush's surge. But denying the "Afpak" border as a safe haven for al Qaeda and the worst Taliban elements will tax the patience of an already war-weary American public.

All the more so because Mr. Obama himself has spent so much time questioning America's antiterrorist mission abroad. While he tried, during the campaign, to distinguish Iraq (Bush's war) from Afghanistan (the good war), the truth is that they are both exercises in counterinsurgency and nation building. The irony is that both tasks are arguably easier in Iraq, because of its denser population and history of a stronger central government.

Mr. Obama barely mentioned foreign policy in his recent address to Congress. And with his vast domestic agenda, the temptation of political adviser David Axelrod will be to have Mr. Obama give this one speech and drop the subject. That is a good way to discover a year from now that he has opponents emerging on both his left and right in Congress.

The left is already restless, with Les Gelb now writing that "We can't defeat the Taliban" and we should thus gradually withdraw. That is the same Les Gelb who was Vice President Joe Biden's strategic partner in writing in 2006 that the surge was doomed and Iraq had to be partitioned. Mr. Biden was reportedly an internal skeptic about Mr. Obama's new strategy.

On the right, many Republicans will also begin to question the mission, much as Tom DeLay opposed Bill Clinton on the Balkans. Mr. Obama could help here if he could manage to bring himself to speak well of our success in Iraq. The Baghdad surge shows the U.S. can learn from its mistakes and prevail in a long counterinsurgency, and a President should celebrate that achievement.

Yet Mr. Obama kept falling back yesterday on his campaign trope that Afghanistan would be going well now if not for the detour in Iraq. It's more accurate to say that Afghanistan got markedly worse after Pakistan's government cut its 2006 deal in Waziristan that created a Taliban sanctuary. Mr. Obama is not going to sustain GOP support by continuing to campaign against George W. Bush.

For all of those political caveats, we believe the war is winnable. And Mr. Obama's strategy takes some important steps. The most significant is to reclaim the battle from NATO, which never really wanted the job. The U.S. will create a new command in Southern Afghanistan, where U.S. and Afghan troops will apply the lessons of Iraq. The irony here is that Mr. Obama is asserting U.S. primacy from the failing "multilateralism" of the Bush Administration, which made the mistake of assuming Europeans really believed in the fight. In the end, as usual, the 60,000 or so Yanks will have to do the bloodiest fighting and the Germans can man the supply lines out of harm's way.

Another step forward is the commitment of 4,000 more GIs to train and expand the Afghan army to 134,000 troops by 2011. We agree with strategists who say the ultimate goal should be 250,000 or more -- making the army a major employer and source of national unity. But Mr. Obama is right to say that Afghans will eventually have to learn to defend their own country.

Mr. Obama made much yesterday of an allegedly new willingness to engage elements of the Taliban. This is hardly as revolutionary as it sounds, since U.S. troops did something similar in Anbar Province in Iraq. It makes sense to try to peel away tribal chiefs and others who may be "Taliban" only because they are paid to be, or afraid not to be. But over time this will only work if the U.S. and Afghans can persuade these Taliban-for-hire that the allies can provide security against al Qaeda and the real Taliban.

Also mark us down as skeptics about his new call for "benchmarks" for the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments. As we learned in Iraq, benchmarks can measure the wrong things amid larger progress, and they also make it easier for Congress to find fault. No doubt both Kabul and Islamabad can do more as allies, but the best way to ensure that is with a broad, sustained U.S. commitment, not with what sound like orders from Washington.

Perhaps the best news in yesterday's speech is that Mr. Obama has now taken ownership of this war. One lesson he can learn from Iraq is that -- as hard as the fighting may get and as vociferous as the opposition at home may become -- Mr. Obama now has an obligation to stay the course until our soldiers can return home in victory and with honor.


"New York Has a Referendum on [POTUS Barack] Obama"

New York Has a Referendum on Obama
The special House election upstate could have far-reaching consequences.

Hudson, N.Y.

With so many contradictory polls out there, it's useful information when actual voters cast ballots. That's why this coming Tuesday's special House election in New York's Hudson River Valley is important.

It will be the first gauge of President Barack Obama's early days, and as the National Journal reports "it's his stimulus package that's the focus of the debate here." The furor over the bonuses given out by American International Group (AIG), which a loophole in the stimulus bill allowed, has only heightened the attention that the race is getting both in New York and in Washington where officials in both parties are hoping for a win.

The vacancy in New York's 20th congressional district -- which stretches north from Poughkeepsie to Lake Placid -- was created when Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate seat. Traditionally the district has been represented by Republicans, but like most of the Northeast it has been lurching left. Last November, Barack Obama carried the district, and Ms. Gillibrand won 62% against a former New York secretary of state who spent $6 million against her.

To replace Ms. Gillibrand, Democrats put up a fresh face, the kind of candidate that helped Rahm Emanuel take back the House for Democrats in 2006. Scott Murphy is a Harvard-educated venture capitalist who only moved into the area three years ago from Missouri. Using perfect Rahm-speak, he says he'll join the moderate Blue Dog Democrats if elected.

Republicans are running Jim Tedisco, who now heads his party in the state Assembly after 26 years in Albany. Mr. Tedisco won notoriety last year after blocking drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants and having then Gov. Eliot Spitzer call him up on the phone to declare he was "a f---- steamroller and I will roll over you and anybody else."

The battle lines between Mr. Murphy and Mr. Tedisco were drawn after the federal stimulus bill passed last month. The Democrat wrapped himself around it, saying in ads "he knows we need the president's economic recovery plan." Mr. Tedisco hesitated, giving rambling nonanswers as to whether he would have backed it.

Then the AIG bonus uproar hit. Mr. Tedisco declared he opposed the stimulus bill and pounced on the fact that Mr. Murphy won't say if he read the plan before he backed it. Mr. Murphy shot back during a debate this week: "My opponent couldn't tell us what he thought for 30 days. I don't know if he was waiting for a poll."

Mr. Tedisco admits he "made a mistake" in not making his position known, but he is now in full-throated opposition. Mr. Murphy responds by contrasting his private-sector experience with the "career Albany politician" he paints Mr. Tedisco as. His ads slam the Republican for accepting legislative perks.

Recent softening in approval of Mr. Obama's policies gives Mr. Tedisco real hope. But as a legislator he is inevitably linked to a discredited state government that has seen both parties fail the voters. "He's a machine politician at a time when people are looking for reform," says K.T. McFarland, who ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2006 only to be elbowed aside by party regulars. She thinks Mr. Tedisco will win, but mostly because of voters' desire to send a message about "Obama overreach."

Mr. Tedisco is certainly playing it safe with voter anger. He would have voted for the bill to impose a 90% tax rate on AIG executives who got bonuses because "when you have the public so upset you have to act." He was handed a gift last week when Mr. Murphy made a rare misstep by telling a radio station he opposed the death penalty, even for terrorists.

Both parties are dramatically lowering expectations in the race. Democratic Rep. Steve Israel touts the district's conservative heritage and says a loss here would be a "huge setback" for the GOP.

Even Republicans note a brand new Siena College poll of the race that shows Mr. Obama with 65% approval in the district. It also shows the Democrat now leads by four points. Mr. Murphy has 84% of Democrats behind him, while Mr. Tedisco should worry he has only 64% of Republicans behind him.

All this makes the president's low-key involvement curious. A Democratic consultant close to the race bitterly complained to that the Democratic National Committee isn't having Mr. Obama do more than send out an email message of support for Mr. Murphy and perhaps tape robocalls. "Is the DNC only going to promote the president's agenda?" he complained.

With the race so close, get-out-the vote efforts by outside groups will be key. Mr. Murphy has received more than $315,000 from the Service Employees International Union, while Mr. Tedisco is heavily backed by conservative groups. A former special-education teacher, Mr. Tedisco is getting last-minute volunteer help from home-schooling parents.

But the president is hanging back in the game. Should Republicans win, he will try to chalk it up as no big surprise. If Democrats prevail, you can bet the White House will herald it as evidence of grass-roots support for its agenda. What's strange is how little confidence the White House seems to have in a Democratic candidate tailor-made for a district Barack Obama carried just five months ago.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for


POTUS Barack Obama's New Afghanistan War Strategy. Watch Video.

University Of Kentucky's Billy Gillispie Then (2 Years Ago), And Billy Gillispie NOW. Watch Videos.

Billy G.'s final press conference:


Maybe Kentucky Should Have Hired Billy Gillepsie As UK Track Coach. Watch The Video And Laugh.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Something Else Happened In Kentucky Besides Billy Gillespie's Firing, Let Me See .. Em ... . Oh, Dan Mongiardo Got Steve Beshear's Endorsement.

Read more here.

Talk about bad timing on a day full of Billy Gillespie news.

Would this endorsement chill other Democratic prospects?

Maybe, but it tells me that Ben Chandler has passed on it.

Stay tuned.


Lexington Herald Leader Editorial: Hold Beshear To His Promise.

Hold Beshear to his promise

Sometimes progress in Frankfort is so slow it's like watching paint dry: All but invisible to the naked eye.

We think — we hope — that kind of slow progress is what we witnessed when Gov. Steve Beshear promised to push for stronger consumer protections against the payday loan industry during next year's legislature.

We can't applaud with much confidence, though, because, even as he declared war on what amounts to modern-day loan sharks in bright, shiny offices, he also signed a bill protecting the sharks from their own kind.

An amendment to the bill Beshear signed will prohibit new payday lending companies from opening in Kentucky for 10 years. The moratorium was slipped in by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who couldn't say who wanted it or why, only that "the industry" was behind it. (Ah, the mysteries when nine industry lobbyists are working their magic.)

Beshear cautioned that freezing market share for the existing lenders by excluding competitors is probably unconstitutional and could face a legal challenge.

But he signed the bill anyway because it also creates a database that will identify borrowers who have more than two loans at a time or more than $500 worth of loans. The law prohibits this, but without the database there's no way to enforce it.

The industry wanted the database and predicts that it will reduce loans by as much as 30 percent.

Advocates for consumers and low-income people say the database does nothing to protect consumers, who will still be able to dig themselves into insurmountable debt, and that the only real solution is limiting the interest that can be charged.

Lenders insist they can afford to make the one-time, high-risk loans only by charging high interest and fees. But many borrowers fall into a cycle of borrowing to cover the last loan and end up perpetually signing over a substantial chunk of their incomes with no hope of ever digging out and no alternative but bankruptcy.

Fifteen states, including Ohio, have limited the amount of interest payday lenders can charge. Congress capped it at 36 percent annually for military families.

Beshear says he will push for a 36 percent cap.

Such a cap ended payday lending in North Carolina.

So, why, if the governor is serious, bother with the database?

The state Department of Financial Affairs wants it, for one thing.

And in Ohio payday lenders found a loophole that has let them to stay in business despite a 28 percent cap approved by voters last year. So, the database may come in handy, even if Beshear gets something through the legislature.

There's also always a chance that even with the governor's backing, real progress will take more than one session.

All in all, though, if Beshear is serious about protecting Kentuckians from payday lenders, he would have made a more emphatic statement by vetoing this bill.

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"John Hope Franklin (1915-2009): An Appreciation".

John Hope Franklin (1915-2009): An Appreciation
He lived what he taught
By Walter Dellinger

John Hope Franklin, who died this week at 94, was one of the most remarkable Americans of the 20th Century. He was the master of the great American story of that century, the story of race. Franklin wrote it, he taught it, and he lived it.

For seven years, he and I taught constitutional history together at Duke, and I never ceased to marvel at how he managed both to embody this history and yet recount it with an extraordinarily candid honesty. Our students would fall into the deepest hush while he recounted his experiences researching his epic 1947 work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (reprinted scores of times since, and still widely read), in segregated libraries at Southern universities and Southern state libraries. He would describe the various Jim Crow rules he was required to navigate -- a separate table from white patrons, a prohibition on being waited on by white female librarians and similar indignities -- without a trace of bitterness.

After the acclaim for From Slavery to Freedom and his other writings brought him a place on the Howard University faculty while he was still in his 30s, Franklin thought he had achieved the final academic appointment of his life. He believed that a scholar who was a man of color could aspire to teach nowhere else. History proved him wrong. In 1956, when Brooklyn College made him the first African American to be appointed to chair an academic department at a predominantly white institution, The New York Times reported the story on its front page.

Franklin never compromised on principle. Well, almost never. He told and retold the story of a decision he made as a young teen-ager in Tulsa to see a performance by a star of the Metropolitan Opera. His parents strongly disapproved of his decision, since it entailed sitting in a segregated balcony. He later wrote, "I am not altogether proud of going to Convention Hall, and there are times, even now, while enjoying a symphony or an opera, when I reproach myself for having yielded to the indignity of racial segregation."

He worked on a crucial brief for Brown v. Board of Education, he marched in Selma, he lectured all over the world and he taught all of America to see through his uncompromising eye. But it was not just what he did but how he did it that marked his greatness. He understood that the public good was not merely a set of substantive outcomes; it is also defined by how we go about reconciling our competing visions of that public good. It is about how we view one another when we peer across the great divides of policy, preference, political party and personhood. John Hope Franklin looked at those who opposed him and saw fellow human beings.

He was no Pollyanna. He knew, as my son Drew once wrote, that we are still always crossing that bridge from Selma to Montgomery. But Franklin always looked at the state trooper blocking the bridge, the figure standing in the way of freedom, and saw there another child of God. He knew, as Charles L. Black Jr. said, that the tragedy of Southern race relations was drawn from that "prima materia of all tragedy: the failure to recognize kinship."

When Barack Obama emerged as a possible candidate for president, I asked Franklin how historic it would be if Obama won his party's nomination. He replied that the historical significance of such a thing was beyond measure. Obama's nomination, he said, "would counter one of the most dominant narratives of the past 350 years on this continent." Then he added the thought that it could be even more historically and culturally important "to have that family as the first family than to have Obama as president."

When the roll was called in Denver and the Democratic convention, by acclamation, made Obama its nominee for president, I stepped outside and called Franklin. I asked him the question so many of us -- particularly those of us from the South -- have now asked each other: Did you ever think you would live to see this day? In his resonant baritone, Franklin responded, "Well, I never expected to live more than 90 years. But, no, even if I had, I still would not have thought that would be long enough to see this happen." That he did live into this year seems a special gift from God.

The writer is a lawyer in Washington.

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University Of Kentucky MUST Have "Pulled A Fast One" On Its Fired Basketball Coach, Billy Gillespie. Read More.

Many people are rightfully concerned that UK will have to pay its Basketball Coach, Billie Gillespie, $millions to buy him out of his contract, but that may NOT be the case.

You see many people assumed, based on the contents of the memorandum of understanding that Billy G. would resist any attempts by UK to find that there is "good cause" to fire him, a proposition that has as much chance as hell freezing over.

Read the my earlier posting here.

However, based on what I have learned at the news conference this afternoon, I am convinced that UK may have "pulled a fast one" on Billy G.

You see, the memorandum of understanding EXPRESSLY provides that it is "contingent on approval by the Board of Directors of the University of Kentucky Athletic Association, and if necessary, by the Board of Trustees".

It does NOT sound like either one of the "contingencies" EVER took place.


Since Kentucky is an "at will" state, UK can conceivably leave Billy G. "holding an empty bag".




Let Me Repeat What I Have Said All Along And Repeated This Morning: Billy Gillespie Is OUT As UK Basketball Head Coach. Billy [Donovan] Is Next!

Read more here.

Read more about Billy G.'s run at Kentucky.


News Release: Kentucky Young Democrat (KYD) Convention in Lexington Today And Tomorrow.


For more information, contact:
Chad Aull, 270-779-3231 or

Kentucky political leaders to inspire Young Democrats at convention
Kentucky Young Democrats Convention March 27 and 28 in Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Ky. (March 26, 2009) – Some of Kentucky’s top political leaders are on the agenda for this weekend’s Kentucky Young Democrat (KYD) Convention in Lexington. The KYDs, with special guest Valerie Biden Owens, will kick off a two-day annual convention Friday, March 27 in Lexington.

Congressman Ben Chandler (KY-6) and Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo are among the speakers for Friday night’s kickoff event with Owens. Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Charlie Moore, Attorney General Jack Conway, Rep. Susan Westrom (Lexington) and Sen. Ray Jones (Pikeville) will speak during Saturday’s program.

“The Presidential election has spurred many young democrats to get involved in the political process and our clubs have seen an increase in membership,” said KYD President Chad Aull. “The KYD convention allows Young Democrats the opportunity to connect with some of the Commonwealth’s most influential leaders and most promising candidates.”

Friday, March 27
7:30 to 9 p.m.
Lexington Children’s Theatre
418 W Short Street


Valerie Biden Owens, the Vice President's closest and most influential political advisor, at a public question-and-answer program. Owens has run every campaign for her older brother during his 37-year political career. Additional Speakers: Congressman Ben Chandler, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo

Doors will open at 7 p.m. Limited, general seating available. Tickets are $10 for Young Democrats and $25 for all others, available at

Saturday, March 28
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kentucky Horse Park

Annual meeting of the KYD with guest speakers, awards presentation and election of new officers. Speakers: Party Chair Charlie Moore, Attorney General Jack Conway, Rep. Susan Westrom, Sen. Ray Jones

About the Kentucky Young Democrats
KYD is a youth-led political organization, created to promote the policies and practices which are consistent with the highest Democratic principles and to a platform for young people across the commonwealth to become involved in the Democratic Party. KYD is an affiliate of the Young Democrats of America and serves local and high school chapters across the state.


Have You Seen University Of Kentucky's (UK) Contract With Head Basketball Coach, Billy Gillespie? Please Read About It Here.

Read the "memorandum of understanding".

My goodness, UK will have to pay Billy G. BIG, unless UK and him agree that his firing is for "Good Cause" that both agree on!

Who wrote this SHIT for UK?

And, did the Athletic Dept. or the Board of Regents approve the "memorandum of (a lack) of Understanding" CRAP"?

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the wheels keep on turning ... .


Pennsylvania Highest Court Overturns Juvenile Sentences In Judge kickback Scandal. Read More And Be Outraged.

Talk about Judges misbehaving, and acting like the Mafia.

Read the Master Commissioner's report, and then read the Court's ruling.

In case if you are wondering what happened to the judges, they plead guilty to federal corruption charges.

You know, what most people do NOT understand is that TYRANNY starts and ends at courtroom doors -- not anywhere else.

Despotism happens because judges are corrupt, and are bought and sold like cattle at livestock auction houses.

That is why my continued outrage.

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Lexington Herald Leader Editorial: Courts Decide To Follow Law.

Courts decide to follow law

You kind of had the feeling a teacher was explaining the ridiculously obvious.

It arose only a few paragraphs into the opinion stating that construction managers or general contractors on courthouse projects are required to bond 100 percent of their performance:

"There are multiple independently sufficient reasons supporting this conclusion. First, the Rules of Administrative Procedures of the Court of Justice ... require that a CM-At Risk or GC furnish a 100% Performance and Payment Bond on a Courthouse Construction Program project."

In other words: Well, duh. Your own rules require it so what do you think?

That's pretty much the way it went as William Geisen, the attorney hired to audit the gonzo courthouse construction project started by former Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, ticked off the many reasons why contractors on those projects should follow the law.

Amazingly, in a December, 2007 meeting several construction managers and architects "apparently convinced" representatives of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversaw the building program, that they didn't need to follow those rules, Geisen wrote.

A neat trick, that, to convince people working for the office that oversees the court system that they can jettison the very Kentucky statutes the courts are supposed to interpret and enforce.

But they did, and contractors saved lots of money by bonding only their own fees, not the entire cost of the project as required. In some cases, according to reporter Linda Blackford, bonds weren't provided at all or only after the Herald-Leader began looking into the issue.

This would be disturbing in any governmental entity because it both disregarded the law and put counties at huge financial risk if things went wrong on projects that were inadequately or not at all bonded.

But, even worse, for the office that oversees the state court system to be so lax casts a pall over the justice system in Kentucky.

Chief Justice John Minton, who replaced Lambert, took a huge step toward restoring credibility by initiating the investigation, releasing Geisen's report and notifying county judges to require 100 percent bonding on courthouse projects.

This isn't the last we'll hear from Geisen, who is charged with auditing the entire building program, a long overdue effort.

Minton is also working to restore records of the court system and the AOC to public view. They've been closed since a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that they weren't subject to the state open records law.

Kentucky can only benefit from a court system that does its business in public, a pratice that has been long proven to increase accountability in government.

Editor's comment: Amazing, isn't it?

Read the opinion here.

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Senator Jim Bunning Is In REAL Political Trouble.

Read more here.

Yes, REAL political trouble.

Notice that he commands the support of LESS than half of responding Republicans.

At this rate, he can't make it -- unless Democrats nominate Bruce Lunsford, again!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

As Predicted Here, Kentucky Hands Billy Gillespie His "Walking Papers"? Is Another Billy (As In Billy Donovan) Next Univeristy Of Kentucky Coach?

Sure sounds like it?

Read more here and here.


Lebron James: Can You Sink That Shot? Watch Video.

Well, can you?


More From Karl Rove.

Obama Points Back to the GOP's Future
The president has made taxes and spending the big issues again.

Something powerful is stirring in the land, and it may not be good news for President Barack Obama, his agenda or the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama said Tuesday night his budget moves America "from an era of borrow and spend" to "save and invest." But people are realizing he would add $9.3 trillion to the national debt, doubling it in six years and nearly tripling it in 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). How can that be "save and invest"?

In his inaugural address, Mr. Obama told us, "The stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply." He wants to turn to new issues of education, health care and green jobs, which he plugged at every opportunity in Tuesday's press conference.

Suddenly, though, it doesn't seem like a time of new politics and new concerns. Many Americans are anxious -- and in some cases angry -- about a set of old issues: deficits, taxes and the national debt. Mr. Obama's radical budget, his administration's slapdash operating manner, and events such as the AIG bonuses have revived animosity over government's size and cost.

In response, tea parties are sprouting up, and opposition is growing to more bailouts, more spending, higher taxes and larger deficits, even among Congressional Democrats.

Last fiscal year, the deficit was $459 billion. For this fiscal year, it was $569 billion when Mr. Obama took office. Under his proposals, another $1.276 trillion will be added to the deficit this year, for a total of $1.845 trillion.

The CBO says deficits will fall for three years to $658 billion, still nearly 50% larger than any past deficit. After that, deficits go back up every year, reaching the trillion-dollar a year mark again in nine years. By 2019, the debt would reach 82.4% of GDP, a level not seen since 1947. With astonishing candor, even Peter Orszag, the president's budget director conceded these levels of deficits and debt are "unsustainable."

Federal spending will under Mr. Obama top $4 trillion this year. This translates into 28.5% of GDP -- a level exceeded only at the height of World War II. According to the president's plans, spending will thereafter slow for three years, but then grow faster than the economy for the next seven years and beyond. Spending rises by $3.1 trillion from 2009-19, including $911 billion for legislation signed during his first two months in office, including the stimulus bill and the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (and not including interest on the mushrooming debt). Mr. Obama is violating every tenet of his promise "to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day."

Americans are also worried about Mr. Obama's plans for $1.9 trillion more in taxes. These tax hikes won't just affect the "rich," as he claims. His cap-and-trade carbon tax will hit everyone who consumes energy -- that is, every American. Taxes on the top 5% of filers will result in lost jobs and wages for small businesses and less charitable giving. The administration claims higher taxes are required for deficit reduction. But its spending increases are half again as large as its tax hikes.

Nothing has deterred the administration from pursuing its staggeringly expensive agenda. Mr. Obama brushed off any concerns Tuesday night. He is quite openly using the economic crisis to launch a massive, permanent expansion of government financed by ever-more borrowing and ever-higher taxes. This may mean that his goal is to cause taxes to rise to European levels, transforming America into a European-style social democracy.

The dynamic he has set in motion could spur the emergence of strong competitors to Mr. Obama in 2012 who take a strong, principled stand against record-setting deficits, debt and taxes. It may also strengthen Republican chances in next year's midterm elections.

Democrats should, for example, be troubled by a new National Public Radio poll showing Republicans tied or ahead in generic matchups for Congress. And while the midterms are 20 months off, Republican gubernatorial hopefuls in Virginia (Attorney General Bob McDonnell) and New Jersey (former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie) are ahead in two states Barack Obama carried last year that vote this fall.

Tuesday night's news conference showed a fluid, self-assured president -- but one who seems to think that repeating a false argument will make it true. The man who promised to end "finger-pointing" has developed the habit of blaming everyone who came before him. Invoking the language of fiscal responsibility, he is engineering prosperity-killing deficits and bankrupting spending. Mr. Obama has put front and center a set of issues -- spending and taxation -- that brought Republicans to power in the past and may bring them back again. It looks as if we may be heading back to the future.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.


"The Real AIG Disgrace".

The Real AIG Disgrace

The stock market was intoxicated with the Obama administration's toxic asset plan. Whatever its contempt for the upper middle class that acquires wealth through salaried work and bonuses, Team Obama still has eyes for the hedge fund class, which will be ladled out taxpayer dollars to make one-way bets on problematic bank assets.
[Business World] AP

Andrew Cuomo and Tim Geithner.

Yet the AIG bonus episode, the administration's one true disgrace so far, will not soon be forgotten.

Tim Geithner is rightly on the hot seat for saying he didn't know about the bonuses until just weeks ago -- because he should have quelled this furor before it ever got started. Instead he played dumb and climbed aboard the outrage bandwagon -- and let Mr. Obama do the same.

There is not a shred of justice in the hysteria that followed. As AIG chief Ed Liddy explained on the Hill last week, the people receiving retention bonuses were not the same people who launched AIG's unhedged housing bets that brought the company down. Those people were gone. Their pay is already being clawed back.

Those who remained had been asked a year ago to stay and work themselves out of a job. In accepting the terms offered to them, they committed no offense (say, failing to pay taxes). Their only crime was possessing marketable knowledge -- all the more marketable because of the opportunity for hedge funds and other counterparties to profit from AIG's distress. Had the company submitted to Chapter 11 rather than a government takeover, a bankruptcy judge might well have authorized identical incentives to minimize losses and maximize recovery for legitimate stakeholders.

The Washington Post, which has consistently distinguished itself with its reporting about the real antecedents of this "scandal," yesterday followed up by detailing "months of assurances to Financial Products employees that the insurance giant would honor those contracts, according to numerous internal AIG e-mails and memos . . . ."

Whether Mr. Geithner knew the specifics is unimportant. The retention plan was known to his staff. The details had been disclosed over and over in public filings. As far back as October, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had summoned the Treasury-appointed Mr. Liddy to hammer out a deal on AIG's pay practices. Said Mr. Cuomo in a statement afterward: "These actions are not intended to jeopardize the hard-earned compensation of the vast majority of AIG's employees, including retention and severance arrangements, who are essential to rebuilding AIG and the economy of New York."

The voluble Rep. Elijah Cummings had been railing about AIG retention bonuses almost continually, on air, in the print media, and in publicly released letters to Mr. Liddy, since Dec. 1.

On March 3, Mr. Geithner himself was quizzed during a congressional hearing in detail about the AIGFP retention plan by Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley -- a week before Mr. Geithner now says he heard of the plan.

It may be that the full picture was kicked up to him only when a political decision was needed, but by then his one decent choice was to insist on the bonuses' legality. However politically inopportune the bonuses may be, the president only dirtied himself by authorizing a feel-good, bipartisan hate storm aimed at innocent AIG employees. And it's hard to believe Mr. Obama would have done so, or the subsequent spectacle would have unfolded as it did, without Mr. Geithner's seminal prevarications (and we say this fully acknowledging that he's had a rough ride in an inhumanly difficult job).

Barney Frank, who doesn't have the excuse of being stupid, was last seen bullying Mr. Liddy to do what on any other day Mr. Frank would flay Mr. Liddy for doing -- violating the privacy rights of his employees. Charles Grassley? His early bloviating about the duty of AIG executives to kill themselves almost begins to look like a grace note, since it alerted the public to the hyperbolic playacting about to come.

Paul Kanjorski, before running off to host a hearing, proclaimed on CNBC that AIG's Mr. Liddy would be responsible if Congress now failed to summon the political courage to take necessary steps to address the financial crisis.

Pause to let it sink in. Mr. Liddy, who is doing his job with grit and personal sacrifice, is blamed in advance if Congress proves too cowardly to do its own job.

But the biggest lesson here is the old one that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance -- beginning with insistence on the rule of law. Americans clearly cannot trust their elected officials to defend their rights and interests, or care whether justice is served, when the slightest political risk might attach to doing so.

Which brings us back to Mr. Cuomo, whose office has been implicitly threatening to publish names of AIG employees who don't relinquish pay they were contractually entitled to.

Mr. Cuomo is a thug, but at least he reminds us: It can happen here.


"Why Congress Will Kill the Bank Rescue".

Why Congress Will Kill the Bank Rescue
What happens when the hedge funds make profits?

Americans can be forgiven for experiencing a sense of deja vu as they digest the details of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) for troubled bank assets. What was rolled out on the pages of newspapers this week read like press releases on the various plans over the past year from Mr. Geithner's predecessor, Hank Paulson.

The two Treasury secretaries share a touching faith in public-private cooperation to lift the value of troubled assets. This assumes, of course, that those assets are troubled because their true values are obscured by irrational self-doubt and market illiquidity, and not by fundamental problems in the prospects of repayment. It also assumes that the solution to problems created by excessive leverage is for government to encourage more leverage.

Notably absent in the Geithner plan is any progress on the barrier at which Mr. Paulson stumbled last year: What are the right prices for troubled assets? To believe that the solution lies in harnessing the public and private sectors in tandem shows a misunderstanding of these sectors' incentives.

Public officials want this problem to go away without being stuck with the smoldering wreckage of large and complicated financial institutions. That requires buying assets quickly from problematic firms at the highest prices possible.

Private investors want to make a profit. That can best be achieved by delaying purchases, thereby lowering prices and sticking the government with as much of the loss as possible.

The possibility of outsized profit, made possible by government guarantees and matching capital contributions, is the carrot government can offer to those with private capital willing to commit to the enterprise. The problem is that Congress has been demonizing the financial sector and considering ex post expropriation of bonuses.

For the PPIP to work, the government will have to use the expertise of much-vilified financial professionals, create massive expected profit opportunities to entice capital, and tap places where there are deep pools of money -- including sovereign wealth funds. If the PPIP is successful, is there any chance that Congress would not be holding hearings complaining about the massive rewards to those who took on the risk? Unless members of Congress cool the heat of their rhetoric, the potential profits Mr. Geithner is putting on the table will simply be left there.

When the government's carrot does not work, next will come the stick. Remember, 19 of the largest financial firms have been asked to submit to stress tests detailing the adequacy of their capital.

Talk about irony. Financial markets are in disarray today because leading firms chose to bury complicated instruments in their books. The results were opaque balance sheets that hid the considerable use of leverage, and proved misleading both to investors and examiners. These same firms are now being required by regulators to use these misshapen accounts to make far-ahead predictions.

But the objective of the stress test is not to get useful forecasts. Rather, it will provide the excuse for regulators, outside the usual process of examination and resolution, to open a discussion with major firms about the adequacy of their capital.

A dialogue, once started, can then proceed to capital infusions, forced mergers and other forms of balance-sheet relief. This will all be with an eye to creating strong incentives for bank managers to attract private capital. If necessary, the stress tests can be used to force fire sales that will attract private capital through the PPIP.

So the government, once again, has opted for a circuitous route to the goal of sorting out financial firms. This will take longer than necessary and sacrifice clarity. But obfuscation was probably a design principle. As yet, the American public does not appear ready to admit that its government will have to absorb large losses to restart financial markets. Until that day comes, government action will continue to be indirect and probably insufficient.

This circuitous route can work, provided that the branches of the government pull in the same direction. Politicians are going to have to understand that the longer-term good of the nation involves cooperating with, not castigating, financial professionals. And the Obama administration will have to understand that its approval rating is to be used to convince the public of hard choices.

Mr. Reinhart is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and former director of the division of monetary affairs at the Federal Reserve.