Thursday, December 9, 2010

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Don’t Change It

The U.S. military has been embroiled in two foreign wars for much of the last decade. Now it faces an internal conflict over whether to allow open homosexuality in the ranks, and it is not a fight many military leaders are looking for. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony last week from U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Marine Commandant General James Amos. Both oppose repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which prohibits open homosexuality in the military.

Casey said changing the policy would “add another level of stress to any already stretched force.” Amos said that “assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat.”

Amos’candor, a breath of fresh air in a politicized debate that has been filled with more smoke than fire, was not appreciated by his superiors, most notably Commander in Chief Obama, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. All three are pushing to overturn DADT. The Associated Press (not to be confused with the Ministry of Propaganda) touted the recent Pentagon study as proof that enlisted members support lifting DADT. But the report failed to directly ask whether the ban on open homosexuality should be repealed. Of course, truth is the first casualty in war.

Other findings of surveyed soldiers not widely reported for reasons unknown: Thirty-seven percent believe the presence of a homosexual service member in a combat unit negatively affected or did not help the unit's combat performance. Nearly 44 percent object to sharing bathroom facilities with an open homosexual in their unit. And 61 percent predict a negative, very negative or mixed outcome for the unit's ability to "pull together to perform as a team.”

What isn’t proved by the study or any other argument is that overturning DADT is necessary to make our military stronger. Nor is it suggested that the change will help unit cohesion, strengthen morale or improve combat effectiveness. So why the strong push for open homosexuality in the ranks?

We live in a highly individualized age where self actualization reigns supreme. Army slogans haven’t helped either. “Be All You Can Be,” and “An Army of One,” are far cries from self-sacrifice and teamwork needed to protect the country. Should DADT be dropped, the next slogan might be “Half the Effectiveness, but Openly Embracing Your Lifestyle.”

Embracing open homosexuality in the armed forces raises many questions. Will army chaplains with moral convictions that homosexuality is a sin be dismissed? Will the military have to accept enlistments from gay couples who hold marriage licenses from other states? What will become of family housing? Such questions only get in the way of those who view the military as a playground for social engineering. After all, soldiers are supposed to play nice.

The truth is that soldiers don’t play nice. Their job is to fight and win wars, and rules are in place to achieve the best chances for success. That’s why the armed forces have all kinds of restrictions on who can enter (it is not a right to join). They also have numerous expectations and regulations for enlisted soldiers (they lose their civil rights once enlisted). So to lower a standard thought to be critical to success for centuries in order to appease the gods of self-actualization and political correctness should be shot down, figuratively speaking of course.

As it is, approximately 200,000 soldiers are discharged (mostly honorable) from the armed services every year. Only 428 were discharged for open homosexuality in 2009, and roughly half of those are discharged during their initial training.

It is interesting that the fight to legitimize open homosexual behavior in the armed forces is couched in terms of respecting one’s personal privacy, which is of course lavishly afforded via the current policy of DADT. Overturning DADT is something entirely different and makes sexuality in the military a very public venture.

As one of my old high school friends who is in the army recently said, “I don’t want to know about your sexuality.” Neither does most of the general public who are concerned more about policies that promote the strongest fighting force we can muster.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is marriage’s turkey cooked?

A new survey by the Pew Research Center and TIME called The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families is certain to ruffle a few feathers—especially as families gather around Thanksgiving Day tables this Thursday. In it, researchers find that 39 percent of Americans believe that marriage is obsolete, but before social engineers declare this turkey cooked, they ought to take a second look.

Buried in the 108 page study were encouraging morsels to those who still believe in the traditional family. 69 percent of Americans still believe that out of wedlock births are a bad thing; 61 percent say that a child needs both a mother and father to grow up happily; And 58 percent say that marriage is not obsolete. Please pass the gravy.

Yet the idea that marriage is obsolete is capturing the headlines and has marriage deconstructionists as giddy as children on Christmas morning. But before they stick a fork in it, they ought to ask their three compatriots who used to sit on the Iowa Supreme Court about the wisdom of legislating into obsolescence traditional marriage. Of course, Iowa voters unelected them on Nov. 2.

This isn’t the first time in our history that marriage was thought unnecessary. In the 1960’s, no-fault divorce laws swept through state legislatures and paved the way for the divorce boom of the 1970’s. Children, the biggest losers in this societal bargain that promised to eliminate acrimonious divorce proceedings, still suffer from the fallout and emotional trauma from divorce. Marriage wasn’t obsolete for them. Nor is it to the children growing up in single parent homes who yearn for a mother or father. As it is, 41 percent of all children today are born out of wedlock, up from 5 percent in 1960.

The question du jour? Is marriage the bulwark to society or is it just like another ornament that will adorn our Thanksgiving tables this Thursday? Marriages are not as durable as they once were, but just because many marriages aren’t surviving—thanks to easy divorce and a culture that scoffs at commitment, doesn’t mean the entire institution should be scuttled. When the two parts of humanity are joined together in a lifelong covenant it brings untold benefits to themselves, their offspring and society at large.

People who are married live longer, are healthier and happier than their unmarried peers. They earn more and are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and receive public assistance. According to marriage expert Mike McManus “the primary cause of poverty is not joblessness but marriage, or rather, marriage absence.” In September, The Heritage Foundation published the report “Marriage: America’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty,” and found that the probability of child poverty declines by 82 percent when they live with both parents who are married. According to 2008 statistics, only 6.4 percent of married, two-parent families are poor compared with 36.5 percent of families headed by a single mother. The proof is in the pudding: marriage is a key ingredient to family financial stability.

Indeed, marriage is more than just a tool to fight poverty or part of an economic calculation toward prosperity. It is an absolutely crucial social arrangement that civilization depends upon and it’s an institution that our children need to thrive, whether we admit it or not. We should no more give our children homes without marriage than we would give them a Thanksgiving without a turkey.

Fodder for discussion around the dinner table for sure. Let’s hope it doesn’t cause much heartburn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sensitivity police's war on honesty claims another victim

If America’s freedom of speech is the envy of the world, then political correctness must be its bane. Some political candidates and news commentators this election season are finding that out the hard way. Just last week, the monster of political correctness raised its ugly head and resulted in the firing of Juan Williams by National Public Radio.

Williams, a long-time civil rights advocate, told Bill O'Reilly that "political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality… when I get on a plane… if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried, I get nervous.”

Is this not the same thought also shared by many frequent airline travelers? Yet because of the perceived offense, it was a thought NPR execs believed best kept out of the public arena, so they fired him.

But was it really a wise move in a time when the divide between the political left and right has never been greater? NPR reported that Williams' presence on “Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.” Why? NPR is known for its eloquence and dialogue, but instead of fostering communication between the two sides, they fired an accomplished ambassador for the left. Even as William’s actually warned O’Reilly against painting Muslims with broad brushstrokes, NPR painted him with a broad brushstroke and fired him. So the cold war of ideology continues.

What thinkers on both the left and right can agree upon is that the war radical Islam has declared on the West has kindled the fears of many, and has sometimes led to intolerance and bigotry toward Muslims who don’t subscribe to violence. But the war on ideas and politically incorrect opinion by the speech patrol has wider ranging consequences. We should insist upon respect and high standards of dialogue, but don’t we expect our leaders and analysts to tell us the truth? Or are some thoughts just too offensive to be aired publicly? Juan Williams is no Bobby Seale. Nor was he advocating the burning of the Koran. So why was he lumped in with extremists?

I have a friend in Belgium who has decried political correctness in Europe for years. It is now a rare individual who speaks out against radical Islam. And for those who do—including journalists who caricature Mohammed, they face death threats. If they are willing to come out of hiding, then they face legal proceedings from a society so steeped in political correctness that it has lost its ability to think or respect individual thought.

A new Rasmussen Reports released on Oct. 19, found that 74 percent of Americans regard political correctness as a problem in the United States today. Rasmussen also found that 63 percent blamed political correctness for preventing “the U.S. military from responding to warning signs that could have prevented Major Nidal Malik Hasan from massacring 13 people and wounding many others at Fort Hood, Texas.”

When the whitewashing of language and laundering of ideas leads to collective stupidity, then it’s time to reevaluate. When political correctness out of fear of offending someone or some group eviscerates civil discourse, what have we gained? Respect and tolerance have always been and always should be benchmarks of civil discussion and standards by which any media should live by. But as George Orwell once said, “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

It’s time as Americans to assert that we still have the right to restate the obvious. Hopefully, the rest of the media will join us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Casino corruption rocks Alabama Legislature

Last year, the Kentucky House passed a casino expansion bill, but not without lofty promises and heavy political pressure. Many have questioned the tactics of the casino lobby whether they are public pie-in-the-sky promises or private behind the scenes promises that border on bribery. The latest example of the corrupting influence of the casino lobby on the legislative process comes from Alabama where its legislature was rocked earlier this week when the major media reported a major gambling related scandal.

Eleven people were arrested by federal authorities for soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for pro-gambling votes. Four of those arrested were state senators. James Preuitt (R-Talledega), offered to sell his vote for $2 million in campaign contributions. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division said in the 39 count indictment. "The people of Alabama, like all our citizens, deserve to have representatives who act in the public’s interest, not for their own personal financial gain. Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished." To read more about the 39 count indictment go to:

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Show-Me" state puts a wrap on SOB's

Just days ago, a Missouri Circuit judge upheld a state law that places tough restrictions on sexually oriented businesses (SOB's). Attorney's for the SOB's challenging the law said it would provide an economic hardship in times when the economy is already in dire straits.

Judge Jon Beetem said “The law will undoubtedly change the business practices of the plaintiffs, and they will likely suffer some economic loss,” Beetem wrote. “But economic loss alone does not alter the analysis of the legal issues surrounding Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges.”

When asked about the economic impact more restrictions will have on Missouri's SOB's, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon said “I don’t think the future of my state will be built on that industry."

Analysts are saying the "Show-Me" state may now be known better for what won't be showing at certain business establishments. Family advocates say that's a modest step in the right direction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Judge walks over voters, marriage

Advocates of traditional marriage were trampled earlier this month by a San Francisco judge who struck down California’s constitutional amendment which keeps marriage between one man and one woman. Judge Vaughn Walker apparently missed the memo about the seven million voters who support marriage between one man and one woman. Memos about the need for judicial restraint and the necessity for judges to recuse themselves in cases where there might be a conflict of interest apparently did not reach his desk either.

Over the last year, we’ve seen judges subvert the democratic process by substituting their personal preferences and policy choices for duly enacted laws. Most notably, in July, Federal District Judge Joe Tauro struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which garnered the votes of 427 Congressmen and was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. Another federal court insisted that Ten Commandments displays are off limits in two Eastern Kentucky courthouses, perhaps a not-so-subtle indication that judges often confuse themselves with the Almighty Lawgiver Himself.

Judicial restraint is clearly in short supply these days, particularly on the federal bench, but now we’re finding that in this most recent case of judicial overreach, Judge Walker had a conflict of interest.

The biggest out-of-the-closet secret since the ruling is that Walker is in a relationship with another man—a detail which legal experts say should have led to his recusal. Walker failed to disclose his potentially disqualifying bias since it could benefit him and his partner should they choose to get married. Amazingly, Walker is now telling traditional marriage advocates that they cannot appeal the ruling because they lack standing. This is like a referee telling the ball team that since they are down at halftime, they cannot come back for the third quarter since they are losing. Such things happen when the referees are no longer objective and become allies with one of the teams.

Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota constitutional law professor told Fox News, "What Judge Walker's ruling means is you can sponsor a proposition, direct it, research it, work for it, raise $40 million for it, get it on a ballot, successfully campaign for it and then have no ability to defend it independently in court, and then a judge maybe let you be the sole defender in a full-blown trial and then says, 'by the way, you never can defend this.' It just seems very unlikely to me the higher courts will buy that." Carpenter, by the way, supports same-sex marriage.

Additionally, Judge Walker discredited the testimony of traditional marriage and family formation expert David Blankenhorn who was one of the two witnesses defending the marriage amendment (four other witnesses declined to testify because they feared for their safety). Blankenhorn’s testimony, according to Walker, “constitutes inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight.” Walker also took a swipe at the faith community when he said, "Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians."

Walker’s actions discredit the judiciary, which should be in the business of “calling balls and strikes” as Chief Justice John Roberts once said. When they get in the game and take sides, they become something other than a judge. The biggest losers in this sad story are the voters and the democratic process itself. Why vote if one judge can cancel the vote of seven million people? Why contribute to a cause if it’s likely to be defeated in court? Why care?

Walker’s actions were so egregious that the reliably liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on Walker’s ruling until December, thus preventing gay marriages from taking place this week. While Judge Walker once again opened the door to gay marriage in California, he cannot entirely overrule the verdict in the court of public opinion: marriage is between one man and one woman, and the democratic process is the most equitable way to decide such contentious issues.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Strip club stabbing exposes Lexington's vulnerability

The Lexington Herald Leader reported earlier today that two men were hospitalized after being attacked outside a Lexington strip club at 3 AM today. Fayette County is one of only three counties in Kentucky without comprehensive restrictions on sexually oriented businesses which are required by law to close at an earlier time. Besides hours of operation requirements, there are other basic restrictions like a total nudity ban and distance rule that keeps strippers from patrons, that would stem the negative secondary effects of SOB's. Until these restrictions are in place, Lexington and Fayette County will remain exposed to seedy businesses that most would rather not have in their community.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Academic intolerance leads to expulsion of Christian counseling student

On July 27, a federal judge upheld the decision of an Eastern Michigan University (EMU) counseling program to kick out a graduate student who declined to counsel gay clients in an affirming way. Julea Ward, an A student in her studies, was expelled from the program when she asked her superior if another person could counsel a homosexual client. Instead of accommodating Ward, who believed that the situation would have put her at odds with her moral conviction that homosexuality is wrong, the university told her to undergo “remediation.” In other words: gay sensitivity training. The goal was to change Wards moral convictions. Does this mean that aspiring counselors who hold orthodox Christian views on human sexuality cannot become certified? The answer is yes, if you are enrolled at EMU. So much for tolerance and viewpoint diversity at that institution of higher education.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Institutional bigotry just peachy

If you are planning to study counseling at Augusta State University in Georgia and also believe that homosexuality is wrong then you will have to make a choice. Either you acquiesce your moral convictions or you find another school that is, shall we say, more tolerant and accepting of diverse viewpoints. Augusta State graduate student Jennifer Keeton is now facing expulsion for daring to express her view that homosexuality is morally wrong. When the perceived infraction was discovered by the tolerance police, um administration, they insisted that she enroll in a one year "remediation plan" which boiled down to gay sensitivity training that would teach her the correct way to think about homosexuality. Now isn't that just peachy? A lawsuit is now pending.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pornography finding a new market

The Washington Times released a story yesterday about the increasing number of women using porn. This may have something to do with increased revenues. The porn industry took in $13 billion in 2006. But what are the effects on the women who are using it? To read more go to:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jack Conway's best ally

Since Jack Conway won the Democratic primary in May, it is becoming clear who is his biggest cheerleader and fan: the Associated Press. It has churned out stories about Paul's income, his medical certification and affiliation, and recent attendance at a D.C. fundraiser. The latest story focused on his new position in support of a border fence to control illegal immigration. He was previously against the idea. Never mind the fact that there are substantive issues like over the cliff and out of control federal spending, looming bankruptcy of Medicaid and 10 percent unemployment.

By making mountains out of Paul's molehills, the AP has become Conway's biggest ally. Rumor has it that they will do an expose' on Paul's problem with snoring and dandruff. Just kidding. I'm not sure if Paul snores or has dandruff, but the recent stories are thin veneer over the AP's apparent contempt for him. Where are all the negative stories about Conway? After all, didn't he go to Duke? Instead of straining at gnats and swallowing camels, why doesn't the AP question the candidates on issues that matter?

Monday, June 21, 2010

6th Circuit: Thou shall not post

When the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied restoration of a Ten Commandments display in the McCreary County Courthouse on June 9, it left many free speech advocates in disbelief, mostly because the same court ruled that an identical display to remain in Grayson County Courthouse in mid-January was OK. So what gives?

The main issue percolating in this decade long legal dispute centers on whether the intent of posting the original display was secular or religious in purpose. If the intent is secular and educational, the display is OK. But when the men and women in black robes suspect even a hint of religious motivation then the displays are deemed contraband and cast into figurative purgatory.

Judge Eric Clay wrote for the 2-1 majority and said that McCreary and Pulaski counties failed to provide a “valid secular purpose” for the revamped display. “The fact that Defendants seek to minimize the residue of religious purpose does not mean that Plaintiffs do not suffer continuing irreparable injury so long as the display remains on the walls of the county courthouses,” Clay said.

Residue? Irreparable injury? Sounds like there’s been some kind of a mold outbreak in the county courthouse jeopardizing the very health of occupants. While Judge Clay didn’t order the courthouses to scrub down with Lysol, sanitizing of another sort by secularists has definitely taken place. In April, Federal District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that it is illegal for governing bodies to officially recognize the National Day of Prayer. Another federal judge ruled in late May that a public high school graduation ceremony couldn’t take place in a Connecticut church largely because it had numerous religious symbols and large crosses that couldn’t be covered. Of course, seeing a large cross could cause nightmares and trauma for graduating seniors and their families.

In cases like these, secularists invoke the First Amendment separation clause which prohibits Congress from establishing a religion. But a school board planning a graduation ceremony is not Congress. Nor is a local governing body deciding what to hang on the Courthouse walls. And it has yet to be explained how merely posting the Ten Commandments establishes a religion? Don’t Jews, Christians and Muslims all honor the Ten Commandments? And what does the judge mean by “irreparable harm” anyway?

To arrive at Clay’s conclusion, one has to do great violence to our history. Our political fabric is enmeshed with acknowledgment of God. Just pull a dollar bill out of your wallet or purse and you see that Caesar’s image has been superseded by our National Motto: “In God we trust.” (Please note that pocketfuls of cash have yet to cause “irreparable harm” to atheists and ACLU attorneys who gladly accumulate as much of the stuff as they can—often at taxpayer expense).

Until recent decades, we’ve been able to freely acknowledged God in the public schools which were birthed out of 17th century colonial churches desiring to teach children to read the Bible. Many of these same classrooms had the Ten Commandments posted on their walls, including Kentucky’s until the U.S. Supreme Court banned them in 1980. The pilgrims and the Continental Congress gave us days of thanksgiving and prayer. In modern times, Franklin D Roosevelt led the nation in a Christian prayer on D-Day. Nobody asserted he was trying to establish a religion.

Secularists succeeded in leaving a void on the McCreary and Pulaski Courthouse walls, but the larger result is that they’ve left a vacuum in American history. One replete with reference to God and where citizens can freely acknowledge Him both inside and outside the public square. Yet a few understand the stakes in this struggle. Judge James Ryan, the lone dissenter in the McCreary case said, "The result, I fear, is that federal courts will continue to close the Public Square to display of religious symbols as fundamental as the Ten Commandments, at least until the Supreme Court rediscovers the history and meaning of the words of the religion clauses of the First Amendment.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The problem with out-of-wedlock pregnancy is a lack of marriage, not a lack of contraceptives

The inimitable Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation argues that the focus on teen pregnancy by liberals is a smokescreen hiding the fact that most out of wedlock pregnancies are among young adult women. It is a result, he says, of the breakdown of marriage and is the driving force behind the welfare state:
The steady growth of childbearing by single women and the general collapse of marriage, especially among the poor, lie at the heart of the mushrooming welfare state. This year, taxpayers will spend over $300 billion providing means-tested welfare aid to single parents. The average single mother receives nearly three dollars in government benefits for each dollar she pays in taxes. These subsidies are funded largely by the heavy taxes paid by higher-income married couples.

America is rapidly becoming a two-caste society, with marriage and education at the dividing line. Children born to married couples with a college education are mostly in the top half of the population; children born to single mothers with high-school degrees or less are mostly in the bottom half.

The disappearance of marriage in low-income communities is the predominant cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. If poor single mothers were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds of them would not be poor. The absence of a husband and father from the home also is a strong contributing factor to failure in school, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance, and a host of other social problems.
In other words, the decline of marriage doesn't really bother liberals. But why?
Despite the transparent linkages among poverty, social problems, and disintegration of the family, the liberal intelligentsia has watched the steady collapse of marriage in low-income communities with silent indifference.

The reason? Most liberal academics regard marriage as an outdated, socially backward institution; they have shed no tears over its demise. Even worse, liberal politicians and anonymous government bureaucrats have a vested interest in the growth of the welfare state, and nothing grows the welfare state like the disappearance of marriage.

Single mothers are inherently in far greater need of government support than married couples, so an increase in single parenthood leads almost inevitably to an increase in government benefits and services and a thriving welfare industry to supply them. Marital collapse creates a burgeoning new clientele dependent on government services and political patrons. When liberals refuse to talk about marriage and the poor in the same breath, they are guilty of willful neglect of the major source of poverty.

For the statist, the collapse of marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s no accident that the modern welfare system rewards single parents and penalizes married couples.

The Left, with the complicity of the liberal media, hypes the issue of “teen pregnancy” -- partly because feminists think girls should attend college for a few years before becoming single mothers, partly in order to strengthen their agenda of promoting condom use and permissive sex ed in the schools. (In reality, condom proselytizing is a bogus answer to actual social problems. Contrary to conventional wisdom, lack of access to birth control isn’t a significant contributor to non-marital pregnancy among teens or non-teens.)

Liberal journalists and pundits deliberately remain silent on the far larger issue of out-of-wedlock childbearing among adults because they believe the collapse of marriage is irrelevant, if not benign. From their perspective, concern about marriage is a mere red-state superstition; the important task is to increase government subsidies as we build a post-marriage society.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Murray State University should stick to education, not social engineering

When the Murray State University Board of Regents adopted a sexual orientation, non-discrimination statement in 2008, I testified against the idea, noting that it would be a stepping stone to domestic partnerships. Now, two years later, Professor Kevin Binfield cited that statement as impetus for change, and on April 6, MSU’s Faculty Senate took the first step by voting to extend health benefits to domestic partners. Is it farfetched to now make the case that widespread sanctioning of domestic partners will eventually open the door to gay marriage?

Professor Binfield, a philosopher himself, defines domestic partners as “people who have entered into long-term committed relationships comparable in duration and commitment to marriage.” But he and others in the marriage deconstruction movement fail to consider the long-term implications of domestic partnerships. In fact, they’ve neglected to answer several important questions . . .

Why use traditional marriage as a reference point for domestic partnerships? Why limit partnerships to two people? Why have a minimum age requirement? And why shouldn’t relatives qualify as domestic partners? The answers, of course, are elusive because when the core definition of marriage as one man and one woman is dismantled, then lesser requirements will tumble shortly thereafter.

It’s one thing to get a definition wrong in an academic setting. It’s quite another to impose a wrong definition on all of society and expect taxpayers to pick up the tab. University of Kentucky’s "Domestic Partner Benefits Committee” estimated in 2007 that extending the marriage-like benefits to domestic partners will cost UK an additional $633,000 per year.

Dr. Randy Dunn told The News (MSU’s student newspaper) that this is a recruiting issue. If that’s the case, why not just increase the salaries of prospective hires? Why the need for dramatic social engineering?

With such a bold proposal coming from Murray State’s elected academia, one would expect a more thorough analysis of the costs involved, not just economic costs (which is a real issue as state universities are facing 1-1.5 percent budget cuts over the next two years), but the price our culture will pay when bedrock relationships are manipulated by political interest groups.

In a day when marriage is struggling and four out of every 10 children in America are born out of wedlock, the last thing the traditional family needs is another hit. Giving marriage-like benefits to unmarried, sexual partners does just that. It sends the message that marriage is just another type of sexual relationship. It puts heterosexual marriage and non-marital, sexual relationships on the same plane, which clearly they're not. And it’s an incentive to sexual relationships outside of marriage –something the state and federal government have been discouraging for years.

When domestic partnerships are legitimized, marriage becomes marginalized. Fewer people are likely to marry so long as they’re treated like they’re married. In fact, the University of Louisville – Kentucky’s first public university to adopt domestic partnerships in 2006 – required a relationship of only 180 days in order to get the benefits. But do we really need more short-term relationships? Shouldn’t governing authorities promote stronger, more durable marriages and life-long commitments?

Most would agree that society needs healthier families with both fathers and mothers devoted to raising their children. Mere partnerships between adults don’t accomplish this. Marriage – not “marriage-lite” – is the relationship that deserves exclusive support from our university leaders. To do anything less is cheating our children in the long run.

Murray State Board of Regents is facing its biggest cultural test this year. Hopefully, they’ll choose to shore up the relationship which is foundational to society. If they don’t, marriage may become just another subject studied in history class.

Family group assails college tuition increases, calls on lawmakers to take action

LEXINGTON, KY--A state family advocacy group called the decision by the Council for Postsecondary Education to allow state universities to raise tuition by as much as 6 percent a slap in the face to Kentucky families struggling to afford to send their children to college.

The group is requesting that Gov. Steve Beshear place the issue on his call for a special legislative session and asking state lawmakers to place a moratorium on tuition increases at state colleges and universities.

"Instead of taking measures to control their costs, state universities want to continue on their spending spree on new building construction and expansion of non-teaching staff," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation, "and they are asking Kentucky families to foot the bill."

Cothran said that college costs are already out of reach for average Kentuckians and that the Council's decision will only make the problem worse. He pointed to a study commissioned by his group that showed that costs for a college education were rising faster than health care costs and that the problem lay with the universities themselves who refuse to control their own costs.

"Our college presidents are blaming everyone but themselves for the problem of rising costs. They need to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they really need to be building more expensive buildings at a time when taxpayers have to tighten their belts."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hopkinsville Tea Party speech

Thank you all for coming out today. What a great turnout. You know, the big three TV networks have disparaged and maligned this movement as fringe and disruptive, but I say that there is nothing more American than to assemble and protest government abuse and fiscal irresponsibility. And that is what the tea party movement is about. Today, April 15, the tax man cometh. But the tax man needs to remember and those who sent the tax man need to remember that in seven months the voters will have their say. Today each of you are sending the message to our leaders at all levels of govt. that we are taxed enough already and we expect fiscal responsibility. And if you don’t hear our voices now, you will hear from us at the ballot box in Nov!

It was in 1773 when Mass. colonists gathered on a wharf in Boston and protested against England’s heavy hand. The cry was “no taxation without representation.” Today we have plenty of taxation and with our leaders in Congress, we have to but wonder who exactly are they representing? It seems the average Washington politician is more concerned about debt-inducing stimulus packages and bailing out big multi-national corporations, than about tending to the business of preserving liberty and freedom of average citizens back in their districts

Consider that we have 12.8 trillion dollar in national debt, Medicaid is projected to go bankrupt in 7 years. In 2017, Social security will start paying out more than it takes in. Friends, our financial train is on a collision course with economic disaster and the political engineers who are conducting it need to be told to switch tracks or move out of the way for somebody more responsible to take the wheel to avert this head on collision ...... This is a disaster that our children and grandchildren will inherit and have to clean up.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” Today’s biggest swindle isn’t happening by common thieves, but by too many politicians who get into public office by promising to deliver benefits and contracts to special interests and charging it to generations not yet born. This is like Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme cloaked in respectability. Madoff went to jail last year, but too many Congressmen who like to spend other people’s money will ask to be re-elected this year.

Leadership in our commonwealth isn’t much better. The KY retirement system has some $30 billion in future obligations that is not paid for. An audit of the KY League of Cities and KY Association of Counties has found gross mismanagement of millions of taxpayer dollars and When the KY House had a chance to pass the Taxpayer Transparency Act which requires the posting of public agency budgets online, they killed the bill

Currently, we have a $780 million deficit and the House proposal was to issue an additional $2 billion in bond initiatives for roads, water projects and schools. The speaker called it a jobs bill... Let's call it what it really is: election year fodder and fiscal irresponsibility.

Earlier this year, the governor proposed to expand gambling to make up the budget deficit. What I’d like to know is that if individuals shouldn’t depend on gambling for their income, then why should the government depend on gambling revenue for its income? It is foolhardy to believe we can gamble our way out of this recession and into prosperity. Just as it is wrong for the government to profit off the losses of its people--people they are charged with protecting.

Re: unemployment, in Dec 2007, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.7 % now stands at 10.7% -- 1.2% above national average, and while the unemployment rate increases state government-sector jobs increased by 2,300 since Feb. 2009. So we have fewer people working and less tax revenue going to support more government workers. As Dr. Phil would ask, "how's that workin for ya?" By the way: with the health care bill passed by Congress last month, will require the hiring of an estimated 16,500 IRS agents.

One of the problems with current politics is that politicians justify their existence by bringing back goods: more projects, more programs etc. And so our government grows deeper in debt. One of the headlines of the Kentucky New Era the other week was of Gov. Beshear visiting Guthrie with a $600,000 check to restore a historic home. The governor will point to this and say “look what we built, look what we did for your community, look at this new renovated building.” There is nothing wrong with preserving a historic house, but should we expect the state government to do this? And this scenario is repeated all across KY.

The system is broken is because there are built-in constituencies that will vote benefits over what is good for the commonwealth and our children’s future. And we have politicians who are willing to deliver the goods in exchange for political power. According to the Bluegrass Institute:

--24.7 percent of Kentucky’s adults collect disability checks

--768,876 Ky’s depended on SS check in 2005

--add in other welfare programs and its clear that a large number of the electorate is dependent on a government check and this is unsustainable.

A quote attributed to Scottish historian Alexander Tytler explains where we are today: “A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for those candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies...”

Of course. many argue that social programs are necessary to be compassionate, but is that what government is about? Our first pres. George Washington said. Government is not reason, it is not eloquence--it is force! Like fire a dangerous servant and fearful master.” True compassion allows people to care for other people. (Alpha Alternative Pregnancy Care Center, Salvation Army, St. Luke’s free clinic, etc).

One of the biggest outrages this past GA session was when a Paducah State Rep. voted against the House budget bill on principle because of the amount of new debt and tax increases and in retribution, the Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo punished this person by stripping out necessary funds for a dilapidated school that needed fixing. There’s a term for this: political extortion. Our children shouldn’t be the casualty of somebody's political power trip. Kentuckians deserve to have their business conducted by their elected officials in a professional manner, not with threats and bribes.

I believe that this movement--that you are here because you desire to preserve liberty and freedom and give our children a better future--a future where they aren’t shackled down by the unconscionable debt incurred by our leaders today.

You understand that America is great not because of government involvement in our daily lives, but America is great because of the people who are free to pursue their God-given talents and use their abilities as they see fit.

Let’s agree together today, to not just let this rally be an emotional outlet for our frustration, but lets resign ourselves to find and work for candidates who are committed to preserving faith, family and freedom--candidates who believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility--candidates who will govern with the next generation in mind instead of just the next election. Candidates who we can trust in Frankfort and Washington to do what is right.

You know, the professional politicians may not be listening right now. and the media may not cover this event very well today, but come Nov. lets let our voices be heard at the ballot box so its a story they cannot miss. I believe that together we can make a difference. Thank you and God bless.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Western Kentucky University funds domestic partners

Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, Western Kentucky University will become the fourth Kentucky public university to extend domestic partner benefits to its employees. Ironically, while the commonwealth's current budget proposal cuts post-secondary education spending, WKU will increase its financial obligations by increasing its insurance pool to unrelated people who live together. Can anyone guess who's going to pay for it? To read more go to:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All inclusive child welfare

When Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown) recently attached the ultrasound bill as an amendment to child welfare legislation, a cry went up in Frankfort from legislators who say they couldn't believe Moore would do something like that. Tom Burch (D-Louisville) and David Watkins (D-Henderson) garnered the most attention in last week's Louisville Courier-Journal.

“'These are two elected officials that are supposed to be serving the people of Kentucky, and they’re out killing all the good legislation that could help the people of Kentucky — particularly the children,'” Burch said.

Equally angry is Rep. David Watkins, a Democrat and Henderson physician whose children’s health bill is affected by one of Moore’s anti-abortion amendments. 'I wish he really did care about kids,' Watkins said of Moore. 'This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.'”

File this in the "Did they really say that?" category.

Tom Burch (D-Louisville) chair of the House Health and Welfare Committee opposed the ultrasound bill which would force abortionists to offer women seeking an abortion a chance to see the ultrasound of their unborn child if they so choose. Rep. Burch may be for the welfare of some children but certainly not for those who are unborn at 40 weeks and younger.

Why the anger over ultrasound legislation that would help women to make a more informed "choice?" Why not consider a comprehensive measure that considers the welfare of all children? And why blame the demise of child welfare legislation on somebody who believes that an unborn child at 40 weeks deserves the same child welfare protection as a child out of the womb at 41 weeks?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Political Extortion Round II

Just when you think state politics couldn't sink to s lower level another episode of political extortion raises its ugly head. Such was the case yesterday when the Paducah Sun reported that Paducah will not be considered for a much needed new middle school because State Rep. Brent Housman voted against the budget bill. It was mostly a party line vote but Greg Stumbo has singled out opponents once again by punishing them for not bowing to his agenda. Call it Political Extortion Round II.

Last summer House Speaker Stumbo promised a billion dollars worth of new school projects if members voted for the casino expansion bill. Members who voted against it were told they wouldn't get new schools. New schools or not, Mr. Stumbo ought to be sent to the principal's office for bullying his fellow House members.

Kentuckians deserve to have their business conducted by their elected officials in a professional manner, not with threats and bribes. Speaker Stumbo may not see the principal anytime soon but voting Kentuckians will have the last word at the polls in November. I'm sure they'll speak their mind in a more orderly fashion than what passes for Frankfort politics these days.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pulling the curtain on public indecency

Traveling has a way of opening one's horizon to happenings in other parts of the country, but when the entire family sallies forth on adventure, unsuspecting exposure sometimes make for a teachable, if not uncomfortable, moment. Such was the case recently for me and my family while traveling through Georgia and Florida where imposing billboards advertising strippers lined several of the major exits. It wasn't quite Mardi Gras, but then again we weren't heading to the Big Easy. We were on a family vacation to South Florida, and despite the beckoning billboards—gaudy as they were, visiting a strip club wasn't in the family plans.

At one time, strip clubs were illegal and relegated to the seedy side of big cities, but now they've gone mainstream, so much so that they're aggressively marketed on our Interstates. So how do you explain to an eight-year-old what's going on? Of course, spare them the details, but isn't it ironic that most eight-year-olds already know there's something wrong with adults taking off all their clothes in public for pay?

Proliferation of strip clubs is largely due to lack of regulations and a misunderstanding that such activity falls under First Amendment free speech protections. According to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which allowed a Kentucky county ordinance to stand, stripping is a regulable activity and public nudity is not a protected right. The court of public opinion agrees. That's why scores of Kentucky local governments have passed solid regulations in recent years.

Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee regulate strip clubs but Kentucky is, ahem, exposed to these businesses because it lacks statewide regulations. So why doesn't Kentucky have a statewide law regulating strip clubs?
Detractors argue that the state has better things to do than regulate strip clubs.


The state regulates activity relating to public health and safety all the time. In fact, government is charged with preserving the health and safety of the community—something that strip clubs jeopardize. Consider that between Jan. 1, 2002 and Feb. 11, 2004, Covington police made a total of 469 calls to sexually oriented businesses in the city. The charges included robbery, assault, fraud, malicious mischief, public intoxication, prostitution and possession of illegal drugs.

The behavior inside unregulated strip clubs not only borders on illegal, but they serve as a magnet for other criminal activity. Without basic regulations and inspections, some of Kentucky's biggest strip clubs will continue to operate with a "wild west, anything goes mentality" that will ruin good communities. The ball is now in the court of state lawmakers and our leaders need to ask: What message are we sending to our neighbors?

For the last dozen years, legislative efforts in Frankfort to regulate Kentucky strip clubs have failed. The Kentucky Senate has passed strip club restrictions four years in a row only to have their measure die in the House. This year, the effort is being pushed in the House where four members are working for passage of HB 413 which would ban total nudity and prohibit sexual activity inside strip clubs. The bill would be a deterrent to illegal activity and a good step for preserving the health and safety of Kentucky communities. If passed, HB 413 would also serve as a billboard for the rest of the country that Kentucky women won't be abused and exploited on stage for profit.

Now, wouldn't that be a good sign?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kentucky bill featured in The New York Times

LEXINGTON, KY-A Kentucky bill that calls for critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories was featured yesterday in The New York Times. The bill, House Bill 397, was introduced by State Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown).

"The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst. Cothran has also written for the
Discovery Institute, which has worked for similar legislation in other states.

"Our students need to be learning how to think about all these issues," said Cothran. "They don't need to be indoctrinated with the current fads in science. Global warming is just one issue in which some in the scientific community have decided which views are acceptable and which are not. We need to make sure our students are taught that there are other sides to some of these controversial issues."

The bill, called the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," allows a teacher to use materials other than state-approved textbooks, with the approval of the local site-based council, "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Snapshot of Kentucky Education Part II

Last week I shared some statistics on this blog provided by the Bluegrass Institute that gave us a snapshot of Kentucky k-12 education. It was less than stellar. Now this week we learn that the University of Louisville is providing us another snapshot, this time of Kentucky higher education and folks it ain't pretty.

As most of you already know, U of L is featuring naked girls in an art exhibit that is supposed to promote healthy body image. How photographs of nude six and twelve year old girls promotes healthy body image is anyone's guess. It is clear however, that peddling child porn on campus doesn't help U of L's image.

Administrators are doing this under the auspices of academic freedom. The question now is, since when did academic freedom become an excuse to squeeze out common sense and cover for activity that is criminal for the rest of society?

Not a pretty picture for U of L.

Monday, February 22, 2010

James Ramsey's U of L refuses to budge on explicit photos of young girls

University of Louisville president James Ramsey's chief lieutenant, Provost Shirley Willinganz, tells the Chronicle of Higher Education that U of L refuses to take down an exhibit that includes explicit photographs of young girls because the First Amendment protects their right, you know, to exploit children and all:

Today at the University of Louisville, an unusual art exhibit called The Century Project will open as part of a week of activities designed to promote healthy body image.

Because the project features photographs of nude women and girls, the university is facing pressure to call off or adjust the exhibit, as the University of North Carolina at Wilmington did last year, when it removed the images of girls as a condition of allowing the program to proceed. But Louisville has declined to demand changes and is standing behind the exhibit, saying that its message has been distorted by critics and that principles of free speech and academic freedom are at stake.

Shirley Willihnganz, provost at Louisville, said in an interview that she has been approached by people in the local community and by state legislators angry about the exhibit. And she said that while she is happy to explain the context of the exhibit, she is not willing to cancel it or to order its modification ...

Read the rest of the sorry saga here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snapshot of Kentucky Education

So what is the state of Kentucky public education? According to the Bluegrass Institute: Only 1 of 4 8th graders are considered proficient on the NAEP test; 3 of 10 kids who begin 9th grade are not graduating; Black males who graduate have the equivalent of an 8th grade education; And 45% of Kentucky's college-bound seniors are taking remedial classes their freshman year.

These stats hardly sound like success.

However, there is an effort in the General Assembly to turn these statistics around. HB 63--the public school academies bill would give parents an alternative to schools that are failing their children. HB 63 would create charter schools which essentially cut through the red tape of the educational bureaucracy and give teachers more control in the classroom. Forty-five states have charter schools. If Kentucky is serious about climbing out of the basement of educational proficiency perhaps the first rung on the ladder is passing HB 63.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gambler in chief criticizes gambling

Who said this?  "When times are tough, you tighten your belts, you don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices."

Answer: President Barack Obama. (speech in Nashua, N.H. on Tuesday). With Pres. Obama  engineering record budget deficits in the federal government, can't a case be made that D.C. has displaced Vegas as the gambling capital of the world? The stakes are higher. They're buying chips on credit. And the sad thing is that long after the high rollers leave town, somebody else is going to pay the bill.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A General Assembly Shakeup?

According to Secretary of State Trey Grayson, more than 230 Kentuckians have filed to run for the 119 contested seats in the state legislature. This could be a record. The Kentucky House, dominated by 64 Democrats, will face 42 GOP challengers. The Kentucky Senate, held by Republicans with a 20-17 majority, has 19 seats up for re-election in which 29 Republicans and 20 Democrats have filed.

So what does this mean? Renewed political interest for starters. People are certainly frustrated with Washington. But they're also frustrated with Frankfort. The special session push to expand gambling last June certainly drew many candidates into the ring. It would be an understatement to say that bribing some legislators with the promise of new schools and holding other legislators hostage with the threat of nixing new schools didn't go over well with the people. Then we have a looming $1.5 billion deficit over the next two years and a governor who wants to fill the shortfall by inviting the casino sharks into the commonwealth to "fix the problem."

House leadership has been particularly hostile to pro-life and pro-family legislation over the past several years. For the last two years they've killed ultrasound legislation that would benefit women in crisis pregnancies. In fact, there have been no truly significant pro-life laws passed since fetal homicide legislation passed in 2004. Public decency, which would restrict strip clubs, has been killed in the House every year since 2000. Add all this up and you get a frustrated electorate; a record number of candidates who challenge incumbents; and quite possibly some significant turnover in the legislature come November. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 22, 2010

When pro-choicers oppose choice

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand and ushered in the era of "choice." Since then, Roe's allies assert that abortion should be a last resort. Unfortunately, they have done little to make that happen. Pro-choicers have done even less to further assist women in crisis pregnancies with all the information they need to truly make an informed decision.

Enter SB 38—The Ultrasound Bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 14. This bill requires abortionists to offer a woman the opportunity to see the ultrasound picture of her unborn child and to provide an explanation of the results. It does not force the woman to look at the screen; nor does it force her to hear the abortionist's interpretation. It simply mandates that the abortionist turn the screen (they already do ultrasounds to determine how much to charge) and ask the woman if she would like to see what he already sees. As it is, they keep that picture from the women, and unfortunately, women are kept in the dark.

Where I come from, people would consider SB 38 a choice. But in the Twilight Zone that is called the General Assembly, House Leadership has effectively denied a choice for the same women they purport to be preserving choices for. That they can do it with a straight face is disturbing.

One would think such a bill would unite the "let's keep it safe, legal and rare" crowd with the "one in every three babies dies from choice" crowd. Yet one would be wrong. For the past two years, the Kentucky House has killed ultrasound legislation by assigning the bill to committees where its fate was doomed on arrival. But also killed was a choice for women to have at their disposal medical information that could better help them in one of the most critical decisions in their life.

Interestingly, pro-choice organizations across the nation have labeled ultrasound legislation as "anti-choice" and a threat to "reproductive freedom." And in their Orwellian world, death is life and information is disinformation. So the bill hangs in the balance. Or maybe not.

The political winds are shifting, not just nationally, but also in Kentucky. In last month's special elections, the candidates who favored ultrasound legislation each handily won seats in the Senate and House. House Leadership seems to have gotten the memo and early political maneuvering indicates the bill may have a chance this year. This is good. According to, 16 other states have similar ultrasound laws on the books. Kentucky could be next.

The emergence of the ultrasound bill has shattered the figurative bunkers between embattled pro-choicers and pro-lifers. Default arguments no longer apply here. If the issue is really about choice, SB 38 should receive hearty support from both sides. If it’s about something else, then a certain political agenda has been exposed. And it’s the pro-choice crowd that might want to contemplate another moniker for their movement.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beshear is no Amarillo Slim

A group opposed to slot machines at Kentucky horse tracks criticized Gov. Steve Beshear's announcement that he was basing the state budget on gambling revenue that legislative leaders have already said is not likely to happen. "The Governor is rolling the dice with taxpayer money," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos.

Cothran said that not only is slot revenue not likely to materialize, it's getting less likely all the time, with votes for such a measure disappearing by the day. "Gov. Beshear is gambling on the financial future in this state by betting on revenue that just isn't there," said Cothran.

"This is a governor who doesn't know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, when to walk away, or when to run," he said.

Cothran pointed to the comments of both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams, neither of which expressed support for the Governor's proposal despite the fact that their support would be necessary to pass the bill, making the odds of such a measure very slight.

"The Governor is doing his best impression of Amarillo Slim. But there's a big difference: Amarillo Slim knows how to gamble; Beshear clearly doesn't."

Cothran said the Governor's attempts to take over the Senate to get his gambling bill through failed miserably when, despite his support and the infusion of millions of dollars of political cash, he failed in his recent attempt to seize control of the State Senate by appointing gambling opponents in the Senate to government posts and trying to replace them.


Governor's budget "passes the buck" on fiscal responsibility

For immediate release
January 19, 2010
Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: (859) 329-1919

LEXINGTON, KY--A spokesman for an anti-expanded gambling group charged that Gov. Steve Beshear was avoiding making responsible fiscal decisions to the legislature in his new budget by premising it on slots revenue. "The Governor is passing the buck," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos, "and passing the buck is not a good governing strategy."

"Kentuckians have this strange notion that a governor should govern, not pass the responsibility to make good fiscal decisions to someone else."

The Governor's inclusion of slots revenue in his budget will force state lawmakers to either make cuts themselves or to try to cobble together another slots bill that is unlikely to pass. "To put out a budget based on something that is unlikely to happen is the height of fiscal irresponsibility," said Cothran.

The group said that slots legislation has little chance of passing either the House or the Senate and to assume that gambling revenue will be available is to simply ignore political reality and place the burden of budget cuts on the legislature.

"The leaders of both chambers of the General Assembly have advised the Governor not to do this. He should listen to good advice."


Ten Commandments returned to Grayson County

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling saying that a Ten Commandments display at the Grayson County Courthouse had to be removed. The Ten Commandments are now back in Leitchfield:

LEITCHFIELD — Amid anthems, hymns, and plenty of "amens," a copy of the Ten Commandments was placed back on the wall at the Grayson County courthouse Monday, almost a decade after it was removed.

"We all love Jesus Christ and anything that comes with it," exclaimed Steve Mahurin, a minister who works for the road department, one of several hundred residents who showed up for the ceremony. "This represents our savior, and it's the law we have to go by."

The ceremony was sparked by the Jan. 14 decision by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a lower court order. According to the 2-1 decision, posting the Ten Commandments did not violate the U.S. Constitution because it was part of a display of historical documents, including the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

A federal judge in Louisville had previously ordered county officials to remove the Ten Commandments from the display because it violated the constitutional rule against government endorsing or promoting religion.

Read more here.

How the gambling industry lost the 14th district State Senate seat

The Louisville Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth tells the story of how, despite the gambling industry's expenditure of $890,000 to buy a seat the State Senate in Kentucky's 14th Senate district, it lost by double digits:

They had a good candidate in former state Rep. Jodie Haydon: A successful businessman. Well-liked. A member of the famed Kentucky National Guard group called “Sons of Bardstown,” which took heavy losses in the Vietnam War.

And they had all the money in the world.

Of the loss, Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley said of the Republicans: “They had better polling than we did, and they apparently understood the district better than we understood it. … We just got beat.”

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Same sex marriage advocates on why they should be worried about their case against California's Proposition 8

Opponents of California's Proposition 8 are worried that their case against the measure--which overturned the attempt to impose same-sex marriage on Californians--could lead to legal disaster for their movement:
Attorney Charles Cooper, a Reagan-era veteran who is well known to the justices, filed an emergency appeal last weekend urging them to block all video coverage of the trial — even if it were limited to a few courthouses in California. By Monday morning, the high court had granted the appeal and ordered a halt to any video coverage outside the courthouse.

Legal experts on the left and right gleaned three insights from the high court intervention:

First, the justices are following this case closely. They typically rule on appeals after cases are decided. It is rare for them to intervene in a pending trial.

Second, the court’s conservatives do not trust Walker to set fair rules for proceedings. Their opinion described how he had given shifting explanations of his plans. This suggests Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8 may be viewed with some skepticism.

And third, the majority has a distinct sympathy for the foes of same-sex marriage. The justices cited a series of newspaper stories reporting on the threats and harassment faced by those who have publicly opposed gay unions.

Read the rest here.

I never thought I'd say it, but let's hope the gay rights groups are right on this one.

Should we raise the compulsory school age?

Every session, it seems, state lawmakers entertain a bill proposing to increase the compulsory school age from 16 to 18. And every year the bill is largely ignored. That could be different this year, with the issue already getting unprecedented attention. Two bills have been introduced to do this: House Bills 94 and 140.

In today's Lexington Herald-Leader, a story presents the case for the change. Here are the reasons not do to it:
  • Students wanting to drop out after becoming 17 have more than likely already been failed by the school they are in. So why draw out an already bad situation?
  • Students who would otherwise drop out in the system could make it more difficult for the students who want to be in school to get a good education by becoming distractions in class.
  • Keeping students who would otherwise dropout in schools would divert resources devoted to students who choose to stay in school and would increase the financial burden on the education system at a time when funds are tight.
Like earlier attempts, neither bill has gained any legislative momentum, but this year could turn out to be different.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charter schools die in committee, but the issue could still rise from the dead

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2010

LEXINGTON--"We will be back," said Martin Cothran, communications director for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, after an amendment providing for charter schools failed in a tie vote in a State Senate committee. "This was the end for this amendment, but it wasn't the end of charter schools in this state."

"We were disappointed in the vote," said Cothran. "We understood we had the votes going to vote for the amendment. It turned a golden opportunity for more parental and local teacher control of schools into a lost opportunity." The bill failed when State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr voted against the amendment.

"This was a loss for parents and local teachers and win for state educrats and teachers' union bosses who are to the left of the Obama administration on this issue. Charter schools are supported across the political spectrum--from Newt Gingrich to the Democratic presidential administration."


Casino Crowd Finds Elections Not for Sale

Yesterday Joe Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal reported something we already knew about the casino lobby: they're willing to spend money on elections. Of specific interest, however, is just how much they're willing to pour into a campaign. In the special election to fill former State Sen. Dan Kelly's seat, Democratic candidate Jodie Haydon outspent his opponent by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. In fact, he spent $890,000 to Higdon's $328,000. The spending set a record for a Kentucky Senate race. Nonetheless, Higdon, the underdog, went on to win the race, thus dampening the Governor's prospects of passing a pro-casino bill this session. Higdon's election was also a repudiation by Kentucky voters that Senate seats are for sale and automatically go to the highest bidder.$900+000+on+special+election