Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sanctity of Life Sunday vs. Emily's List

Today has been a study in contrasts for me. This Sunday started with a focus on the sanctity of Life in churches all across Kentucky and America, including my own church. Church members everywhere are mourning the extermination of 50 million unborn lives since Roe v. Wade.

Returning from church, I turned on CSPAN to find an Emily's List celebration of their aggresive political action to elect pro-abortion candidates. This election cycle has been quite a success for this 40 million dollar organzation with 75 employees. To be endorsed and financially backed by Emily's List a candidate must be 1. a woman 2. a democrat 3. radically pro-abortion. In fact two of their candidates lost support this year because they did not support partial-birth abortion.

Today's Sunday celebration by Emily's List loudly applauded several succesful elections and appointments for their pro-abortion women:
1. Ellen Moran- executive director for Emily's List- appointed by Obama as White House communications director
2. Hilary Clinton appointed by Obama as Secretary of State
3. Gov. Janet Napalitano appointed by Obama as Secretary of Homeland Security
4.Rep. Hilda Solis appointed by Obama as Secretary of Labor

These are just a few of the many pro-abortion candidates that the day was celebrating.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicked off the event with talk about the future for women and young girls.... What about the young girls that have been aborted--murdered?

Emily's List like to talk about getting women elected, but that is only if they subscribe to EL blood-thirsty ideology. EL worked to defeat Sen. Elizabeth Dole because she was pro-life and replace her with pro-abortion Kay Hagin- so this is clearly not about advancing the cause of women.

On this Sancitiy of Life Sunday, there are certainly two vastly different worldviews and unfortunately those moving into positions of the highest authority in the land were at today's Emily's List banquet- not at church for Sanctity of Life Sunday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The "Millionaires' Bailout" on Channel 27

My appearance on WKYT's evening news on the Millionaire's Bailout.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No one knows how much CATS costs, committee finds

Oh dear. While some of us were thinking that the problem with CATS was that it costs too much, all of a sudden we find out that that's not the problem. The problem is we don't know how much it costs. Turns out that our wonderful education bureaucrats have no idea how much the monstrous state education testing system is setting us back because of poor accounting.

All state auditors could determine is that it costs at least $18.6 million, a higher figure than has been reported before. But there is no way, given the state's poor accounting, to know the total cost of the tests because no figures are available to determine how much local school districts are spending, and amount that is likely to be very high.

"There isn't a mechanism to be able to determine the cost at the local level for the assessment testing," Brian Lykins, director of special audits in the auditor's office, told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

This comes at a bad time for supporters of the tests, since President of the Senate David Willliams has announced that he would like to see the test eliminated.

Stay tuned on this issue...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Turfway Park already counting its bailout money

The gambling moguls in northern Kentucky are already counting their part of The Millionaires' Bailout, according to Pat Crowley at the Cincinnati Enquirer. Turfway, a horse track in northern Kentucky is rubbing its hands together on account of Greg Stumbo's HB-158, which would bring mechanized slots to the Kentucky horse tracks.
Turfway Park would build a $150 million free-standing casino if legislation allowing video gambling in Kentucky passes the state General Assembly this year.
Now we're just thinking out loud here, but where do poor, needy gambling moguls, who according to advocates of HB-158, are looking at having to sell their Armani suits and Italian shoes for food getting $150 million?

But at least The Millionaire's Bailout is giving these people some hope. And that's something.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The millionaires' bailout

LEXINGTON, KY—A state anti-casino group announced its plans today to oppose House Bill 158, which would place computerized slot machines at the state's horse tracks. The proposed law is both good news and bad news, according to Martin Cothran. "The bad news is, if it works, it would give money to wealthy people by taking it from not-so-wealthy people," said Cothran. "The good news is it won't work."

"This bill is an economic bailout for millionaires," said Cothran. "But even so, with the gambling industry hit hard by the economic downturn, there is no way it can raise the amount of money its supporters claim it will—either for millionaires or for state government."

Cothran, the new spokesman for Say No To Casinos, said his group will highlight several things about the bill:

  • That it is a bailout for millionaires because it uses a form of gambling that attracts low-end gamblers and provides subsidies for high-end horse farmers
  • That it can't produce the revenue it promises because of a down economy that has affected the gambling industry worse than many other industries
  • This it is a retreat from the promise by gambling proponents to "Let the people decide," since, unlike previous attempts to expand gambling, it will only be voted on by lawmakers

"The kind of computerized slot machines the bill would place at horse tracks in House Bill 158 are the worst kind of gambling mechanisms," said Cothran, "not only because they are the most addictive, but because these machines draw their audience from among people lower on the economic ladder than those who would normally attend horse races. Video lottery terminals will appeal to the same people as the lottery: those who can least afford it."

The bill sponsor has said the bulk of the money is to be used in part to bail out the horse industry. "Basically this would result in a transfer of wealth from those in lower income brackets to those in higher income brackets,” said Cothran in response. “We certainly support the horse industry, but we're having trouble figuring out why people who drop millions of dollars at horse auctions without batting an eyelash need a bailout."

The gambling industry itself has fallen on hard times and many casinos have even had to fold. "The gambling industry has been hit harder than most businesses. To say that gambling is somehow going to yield up hundreds of millions of dollars in this economy is just not realistic."

Cothran added that many Kentuckians will be disappointed when they realize that all of the political rhetoric during last year's campaign for casinos about "letting the people decide" on the measure was empty. "With the ‘Millionaire's Bailout,’ the people will be taking a back seat to high-priced lobbyists."

Friday, January 9, 2009

New House Speaker Greg Stumbo files gambling legislation

Greg Stumbo has filed his gambling bill, according to press reports. It is House Bill 158. He is claiming he can raise $700 million dollars for, among other things, education. It will be interesting to hear how he thinks he can raise that much money from through gambling at a time when the gambling industry has been hit harder than most other businesses as a result of the financial crisis.

Losing speech rights gets personal

When President-elect Barack Obama invited Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation, it created a firestorm of criticism by the gay community which is now calling for Obama to retract the invitation. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), wrote Obama and said, "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table."

What Solmonese really meant was that those who agree with gay activists should have the only voice at the table. After all, Obama invited a gay marching band and Rev. Joseph Lowery, who favors same-sex marriage, will give the benediction. But that’s not good enough for Solmonese who is still smarting from the loss in California where 53 percent of voters kept marriage between two people of the opposite sex.

Warren, known more for his involvement in poverty relief and environmental care issues, is now a lightning rod, because he endorsed California’s marriage protection amendment just weeks before the vote. The strident opposition to Warren’s participation in the inauguration brings into focus what is really going on here; it’s a matter of what can be said regarding the hottest of social issues – homosexuality, and whether those who believe homosexuality is wrong should be allowed to say it.

Solmonese and company, concerned more about insulating homosexuals from opposition, than about the free-speech rights of Americans who disagree with them, apparently want to steer us down the same path Europe and Canada have trodden. And it’s a dangerous one for those who value free speech.

Last year, French legislator Christian Vanneste found himself in hot water when he said homosexuality was "inferior" to heterosexuality and would be "dangerous for humanity if it was pushed to the limit." That statement landed him a nearly $4,000 fine.

Canadian Pastor Stephen Boisson was fined $5,000 last June after writing a letter to the editor criticizing homosexuality. The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal ordered Boisson to "... cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet... disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals...."

In 2006, John DeCicco, city councillor in Kamloops, British Columbia called homosexuality "not normal and not natural,'' so the Human Rights Tribunal forced him to apologize to a homosexual couple who filed a complaint and pay them $1000.

In 2003, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to arrest Pastor Ake Green for preaching that homosexuality is a sin... in his own church. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail (it was later overturned on appeal). So goes free speech in Europe. But what of it in the U.S.?

It was out of concern for his free speech rights to articulate the Biblical view on marriage and human sexuality that prompted Warren to support California’s marriage amendment. Warren said without the amendment "any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn't think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships."

Warren and his wife have both dedicated themselves to AIDS relief. But compassionate outreach to the gay community isn’t enough to pacify gay political leaders who fail to understand that Warren wasn’t invited to serve as Obama’s domestic policy advisor. He was invited to offer a prayer. And if he was in Sweden or France, he’d more likely be fined than allowed to pray at any president’s inauguration.

The debate over human sexuality has shed more heat than light in recent years. Disagreements there clearly are, but when unbridled emotions lead us closer to shutting down someone’s speech, then we’ve made a wrong turn as a nation. Including Warren in the presidential inauguration is a move in the right direction and sends the message that disagreement over the most controversial of issues doesn’t result in marginalization.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

David Williams takes on CATS

I still haven't seen it yet, but on KET's "Kentucky Tonight," State Senate President David Williams apparently called for dumping CATS and changing math education. Williams voted for the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA), so he can't exactly be labeled a fire-breathing anti-KERAite. Good credentials for the person who takes on some of the excesses that still plague Kentucky schools as a result of what many of us at the time labeled a boondoggle.

KERA simply never has been able to live up to the hype which has always surrounded it. Has there been progress in Kentucky schools? Here and there. But, as Larry Forgy pointed out at the time (and he was one of the plaintiffs in the case that prompted the State Supreme Court's Rose decision), there were a lot of good things already afoot before KERA turned the state's schools upside down.

The question is whether Kentucky schools would have been better off without KERA. We'll never know the answer for sure, but it wouldn't be a hard case to make that the entire generation of children who were robbed of a decent education in basic skills by the now somewhat etiolated nongraded primary program were ill-served.

And then there was the preposterous attempt to teach math using "math essays," thanks to "math portfolios" in which students were not even allowed to write numerals, but were to spell out each number. And the ludicrous attempt to teach writing by preventing teachers from telling kids how to correct their mistakes, thanks to the writing portfolios. We could go on.

The chief role of CATS has been to hide from ourselves the consequences of this interminable educational silliness.

Williams faces an uphill fight since there are still people who have a political stake in propping up KERA. But surely there will come a time when the Fathers of the Kentucky Education Reform Act have died out, and more level-headed generation takes its place.

May that time come soon.