Monday, August 31, 2009

Kentucky judge finds Constitution unconstitutional

This just in from Legal Fantasies Division of the Franklin Circuit Court:
FRANKFORT, Ky.—A Franklin circuit judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a reference to God in a 2006 law creating the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.

In an 18-page order, Judge Thomas Wingate said the General Assembly created an official government position on God when it passed a law requiring the office to acknowledge “the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

Wingate said it is clear that the purpose of the language wasn't to celebrate the historical reasons for “our great nation's survival in the face of terror and war,” but instead declared publicly that the position of the state was that an “Almighty God exists and that the function of that God is to protect us from our enemies.”

“The Commonwealth's history does not exclude God from the statutes, but it has never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God,” Wingate wrote.
Well, first of all, the law doesn't demand anything of anybody. It is simply an acknowledgment of what the legislature perceives (correctly, for the most part) about its citizens. But, more importantly, did Judge Wingate bother to check out the Preamble to Kentucky's own Constitution?
We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
If the General Assembly is not permitted to "require" its citizens to "depend on Almighty God," as his opinion states the law in question does, then why does it's own Constitution "require" them to be grateful to Him?

Someone should challenge the Kentucky Constitution in court to see if Judge Wingate finds the Constitution itself unconstitutional.

Friday, August 28, 2009

As we warm ourselves by burning another mistaken global warming report...

Those of us here in God's country who are just now thawing ourselves out from the coldest summer in memory ... Excuse me just a moment while I throw some more wood on the fire ... are breathing a sigh of relief. Some of us had believed that the End was not Near. But when we heard that July, 2009 "was the the hottest since record-keeping began in 1880," we thought, wait a minute, if this is hot, we're in big trouble.

Recently, ... Wait, I'll be right back. I've got to unfreeze the dog ... Okay. Back now ... the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Bet you didn't know the oceans and atmosphere are now under federal control. But, hey, this is the Obama administration) reported:
The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998 according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880.
The report made its way into the Associated Press, which dutifully reported that the End is Near because of global warming.

Only one problem, says climatologist and former NASA scientist Roy Spencer, the NOAA's study "has a spurious warming since 1998 of about 0.2 deg. C, most of which occurred as a jump in 2001." In other words, the July, 2009 ocean temperatures are overstated in the report:
... I have no idea how such a large warm bias could have entered into the ERSST dataset, but I’d say the evidence is pretty clear that one exists.

Finally, the 0.15 to 0.20 deg. C warm bias in the NOAA SST product makes it virtually certain that July 2009 was not, as NOAA reported, a record high for global sea surface temperatures.

So now those of us here in the heartland ... Excuse me once again as I rub my hands together to keep the blood flowing ... are thinking that maybe we're not going to have to build igloos and chew whale fat.

And so now I am trying to find the AP story on the warm bias in the NOAA report. Maybe I already burned it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We're all going to die! We're all going to die! Nevermind.

If you were worried you were going to get hit by flying ice shards as glaciers collapsed in Greenland and Antartica because the Earth's thermostat has been set on "Hi" and we're all going to die because global warming is going to kill us all, there is good news: Glaciers don't collapse.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Hubris, Thy Name is "Pitino"

First, The Basketball Coach That James Ramsey Won't Fire had his way with Karen Sypher. Then he had his way with James Ramsey. Now he wants to have his way with the media.

The Basketball Coach That James Ramsey Won't Fire is not only not contrite: he's giving lectures to the media on how to behave. He doesn't like the fact that the media is reporting on the prosecution of Karen Sypher. This is the same media that held the taped phone message for weeks until it publicly came out that The Basketball Coach Who James Ramsey Won't Fire had had an illicit relationship with Sypher.

You'd think he'd be appreciative.

One of the things he claimed to upset about was that his story was being broadcast on the day that everyone should have been honoring Ted Kennedy on his death. Wait a minute. Why is The Basketball Coach That James Ramsey Won't Fire mad at the media for this? Why shouldn't the rest of us be mad at him for it? Here are a whole bunch of people who would probably much rather be hearing about Kennedy's life, and instead they're having to endure watching Karen Sypher wax incomprehensible. Again.

He's the one who brought all this on himself. And guess what? If he had done the honorable thing and quit, we wouldn't all be plagued with it all right now.

He charged that television stations who played the tapes of Sypher speaking with the FBI were broadcasting "lies." This is the man whose attorney is claiming he paid Sypher $3,000 for "health insurance." Sypher should have remained quiet: Pitino appears to be the only philanderer who provides his bimbos with benefits.

The Basketball Coach That James Ramsey Won't Fire really seems to think he is too good for all this. And why not, with enablers like Ramsey giving him the impression that he's got carte blanche to do whatever he wants without actually being held accountable in any real way to his university?

His impromptu press conference seems to have caught everyone off guard, and it can't have come as good news over at the Scandal War Room over at U of L, which must now have to operate 24/7, and where Ramsey has probably now added staff who specialize in bimbo eruptions.

Now Rick is all over the news again, and the chief subject of talk show discussions.

Could it be that Ramsey is now thinking that maybe he should have cut Rick loose after all?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another report from one of our playgrounds of political correctness (a.k.a. our colleges and universities)

Mary Grabar describes her experience as an adjunct English professor trying to teach, like, English--which is now apparently declasse in our higher re-education camps:
I’m an adjunct English professor. When the subject of adjunct faculty comes up, the predictable calls for unionization and “social justice” are often voiced by my tenured colleagues enjoying light teaching loads and by administrators enjoying comfortable salaries overseeing “multicultural” programs. But I know that I would not be among their intended beneficiaries were they made aware of my political views.

It’s not that I sought to be political when I returned to school in the 1990s to earn my Ph.D. I soon discovered, however, that political neutrality—even in literary studies—is suspect. In the academic world, the belief that great literature conveys universal, timeless themes is generally taken as evidence of an imperialistic outlook. The same holds for history, where the reliance on factual evidence and focus on major events are deemed offensive to women and those from non-Western cultures.

My fellow graduate students tailored their programs for the job market: studying African-American and gay writers, and applying the trendy postmodern, deconstructivist literary theories. Since 2002, when I earned my Ph.D. in English, the field has gotten even stranger, with such additions to the ideological postcolonial, African-American, and critical theory courses as “fat studies” and “trauma studies.” An upperclassman can enroll in “Introduction to Visual Rhetoric”—and then presumably in “Advanced Visual Rhetoric.” But how does my study of Plato and Cicero prepare me to teach these classes? ...
Read the rest here.

Gambling industry wins Senate seat, loses the vote

August 26, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: (859) 329-1919

LEXINGTON, KY— An anti-slots group pointed out last night that although State Rep. Robin Webb won a special election in the 18th Senate District to fill the vacated seat of Charlie Borders, the total anti-casino vote was higher than the pro-casino vote. "The anti-expanded gambling vote in this race was split," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos, who pointed to the fact that the third candidate in the race, a Democrat who switched party registration at the last minute, was also against slots at tracks.

"If you add up the numbers, the tracks lost,” Cothran said. “The gambling industry picked up the seat, but lost the vote.

"The gambling industry went 'all-in' in this race. It dumped in a load of cash. They had a money advantage, an experienced, better-known candidate, a huge voter registration advantage, and split opposition. And then they won by only 282 votes. The champagne was certainly flowing last night, but when the political reality sets in, they'll need a good hangover remedy."

The vote total of the two anti-gambling candidates, Dr. Jack Ditty (Republican) and Guy E. Gibbons, Jr. (Independent) was 9355, with Webb’s total only 8684.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How stupid do they think we are?

Rich Lowry at National Review on what we're supposed to assume to support Obamacare:
The Obama team is saddled with a foundering health-care strategy. But it has a fallback plan -- relying on the sheer dimwitted gullibility of the American public. How stupid do they think we are?

Stupid enough to think that a new $1 trillion health-care entitlement is just the thing to restore the country to fiscal health.

Stupid enough not to know that almost every entitlement known to man has cost more than originally estimated, with a congressional committee in 1967 underestimating by a factor of ten Medicare’s cost by 1990.

... Stupid enough not to focus on how the gap between the House plan’s revenue and spending steadily grows after the first ten years, making it a long-term budget buster.

Stupid enough to think increased preventive care will save the government money, just because Pres. Barack Obama constantly repeats it, despite all the independent studies to the contrary ...
Read the rest here.

University of Kentucky scores a "C" on its core curriculum in national report

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2009

The University of Kentucky received a grade of "C" from a national organization that monitors what colleges and universities teach. In its report, "What Will They Learn?" the American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave it a mediocre rating on its general education requirements, and specifically criticized its natural science requirement because it could be met my taking courses which didn't teach natural or physical sciences.

"That a school attempting to be a 'Top Twenty Research School' would have a weak general education requirement in science is pretty pitiful," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

"No credit given for Natural or Physical Science," said the report of UK, "because the Natural Sciences requirement may be satisfied by courses from anthropology, political science, and psychology; and the College Laboratory or Field Work Experience requirement includes courses from the social sciences."

While crediting UK for its requirements in composition, language, and math, the report docked the state's flagship educational institution for weak requirements in literature, U. S. government/history, economics, and science.

The report evaluated whether 100 major institutions require seven key subjects. "What we found is alarming," said the report's authors. "Even as our students need broad-based skills and
knowledge to succeed in the global marketplace, our colleges and universities are failing to deliver."

The report comes during the same month that UK earned a lower ranking in the U. S. News and World Report national university rankings for the third straight year, falling from 112 in 2007, to 122nd in 2008, to 128th in 2009.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Thomas Sowell on Obama's America

Thomas Sowell sums it up pretty nicely:
The serious, and sometimes chilling, provisions of the medical-care legislation that President Obama has been trying to rush through Congress are important enough for all of us to stop and think, even though his political strategy from the outset has been to prevent us from having time to stop and think about it.

What we also should stop to think about is the mindset behind this legislation, which is very consistent with the mindset behind other policies of this administration, whether the particular issue is bailing out General Motors, telling banks whom to lend to, or appointing “czars” to tell all sorts of people in many walks of life what they can and cannot do.

The idea that government officials can play God from Washington is not a new idea, but it is an idea that is being pushed with new audacity ...
Read the rest here.

Hoping the Woodstock reminiscing will now just f-f-fade away

Well I hate to put the least great generation d-down, but I am now officially sick of Woodstock reminiscences. I now like Woodstock--or, rather, the idea of Woodstock--less than I did before, which was not at all.

Woodstock was a 3-day long gathering of slightly overgrown, spoiled adolescents who were members of the first g-g-generation of Americans to be excessively coddled by their parents, given too much money and comfort, and who, in what was undoubtedly one of their many attempts to escape responsibility, ran away from home for three days and then tried to justify their self indulgence by spouting platitudes about peace and love that were as sanctimonious as they were lacking in any real meaning.

In fact, I hold Dr. Spock personally responsible for the entire spectacle.

These people--as well as the rest of us--would have been better off back at home doing their chores, working hard, and being generally productive members of society.

And one of the worst things about it is that every ten years these now extremely overgrown adolescents, many of whom weren't even there (but somehow think they were), make a big s-s-sensation about it, and have somehow succeeded in convincing the most recent generation that it was some kind of great contribution to, ... well, something.

It's not quite clear.

Well, it's my generation too. And most of us not only weren't there, but don't particularly wish we were. So I'll be glad when the latest round of self-indulgent reminiscing just f-f-fades way.

"Kentucky Tonight" tonight: Charter Schools

I will be on KET's "Kentucky Tonight" program tonight discussing charter schools. The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Directive 1233 not as benign as they're saying: Charles Krauthammer on health care reform

Charles Krauthammer is a one-man truth panel:
Let’s see if we can have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling.

We might start by asking Sarah Palin to leave the room. I’ve got nothing against her. She’s a remarkable political talent. But there are no “death panels” in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate.

We also have to tell the defenders of the notorious Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend ...
Read more here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lee Todd and James Ramsey: The Hollow Men who run our universities

It was discovered this week that University of Kentucky coach John Calipari was one of a small class of college basketball coaches who have been to two final fours and had both of them vacated by the NCAA for rules violations. This class of coaches to which Calipari now belongs is so small that he has literally no one else with whom to compare notes.

Calipari, despite the fact that he hasn't actually won a single game for UK yet, is viewed by not a few people (including, apparently the university administration) as the newest coaching Messiah. Every time a coach is hired at one of our two major universities, there might as well be large crowds of people lining both sides of Versailles Road laying down palm leaves and shouting "Hosannah!" for all the subtlety that exists about expectations.

The only recent exception I can think of is UK Football Coach Rich Brooks, who was born into the world of Kentucky sports of lowly estate, but whose legacy has been secured by having been crucified early on, and only afterwards rising to rock star status by winning games and being a generally good guy. He now faces the prospect of serving out the remainder of his career between the coaching equivalent of two thieves.

Although the UK administration stuck with Brooks, just one more season of mediocre performance would have resulted in his dismissal. Wins and losses now officially count for more than "indiscretions" both on and off the court at the state's institutions of higher sportsmanship.

In fact, University of Kentucky President Lee Todd has at least one other person to compare notes with in the the small class of presidents of which he is a member: the class of university presidents who have basketball coaches on staff who have embarrassed their universities. The other one, of course, being University of Louisville President James Ramsey, who has seemingly made a career out of mishandling big scandals.

What the last several weeks has shown is that neither Todd nor Ramsey have a vocabulary that would allow them to even understand the moral dimension of the behavior of their staff--or, for that matter, of their own decisions.

When it came out that Rick Pitino had had an immoral (can we get rid of that morally vacuous term 'inappropriate'?) relationship with a woman and then paid for her abortion, Ramsey came out and called it an "indiscretion." The word 'indiscretion' is a word people use when they simply want to ignore the moral implications of some action. It is another one of those morally sterile words that populate the speech of the Hollow Men who now run our institutions of higher learning.

The word 'indiscretion' means 'imprudent'. More literally, it means "not discreet." And 'discreet' simply means you didn't hide it well enough. To say that someone on your staff committed an "indiscretion" simply means that you don't really care whether they did or didn't do something, but rather that you wish it hadn't been found out because you've got paperwork to do and you don't want to be called by reporters with revelations that might result in your having to answer uncomfortable questions that, being a morally illiterate person, you don't really know how to answer.

Lee Todd, whose moral illiteracy has been proven on more than one occasion (and here I refer to the defense of human cloning at UK and the subsidizing of live-in sexual partners of his staff) hasn't been pushed quite far enough yet to have to invoke the magical word 'indiscretion', and has so far only had to call for a basin of water and a towel to wash his university's hands of any blame in hiring a coach who, it is now revealed, has had multiple egregious violations of NCAA regulations under his watch.

What Lee Todd should have come out and said is: "This is a disturbing revelation. We are concerned about the ethical conduct of our coaches and our teams. This university will take special precautions that this does not happen here. We are concerned about winning, but, being an educational institution, we are more concerned that our students understand the difference between right and wrong and that they not see that distinction confounded by the behavior of the individuals we place in authority over them."

What did he say instead? According to is spokesman Tom Harris, "it's not a University of Kentucky issue." There you go.

I would suggest that these college presidents be required to attend classes at their own universities where they could learn how to engage in something like moral discourse, but I'm not sure they even have such courses. In any case, attempting such a thing might be no more effective than trying to give sight to the blind.

Mark Steyn explains the stimulus--and why it didn't work

Mark Steyn has figured out Obama's stimulus package:

The other day, wending my way from Woodsville, N.H., 40 miles south to Plymouth, I came across several “stimulus” projects -- every few miles, and heralded by a two-tone sign, a hitherto rare sight on Granite State highways. The orange strip at the top said “PUTTING AMERICA BACK TO WORK” with a silhouette of a man with a shovel, and the green part underneath informed you that what you were about to see was a “PROJECT FUNDED BY THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT.” There then followed a few yards of desolate, abandoned, scarified pavement, followed by an “END OF ROAD WORKS” sign, until the next “stimulus” project a couple of bends down a quiet rural blacktop.

... Evidently, it’s stimulated the sign-making industry, putting America back to work by putting up “PUTTING AMERICA BACK TO WORK” signs every 200 yards across the land. And at 300 bucks a pop, the signage alone should be enough to launch an era of unparalleled prosperity, assuming America’s gilded sign magnates don’t spend their newfound wealth on Bahamian vacations and European imports. Perhaps if the president were to have his All-Seeing O logo lovingly hand-painted onto each sign, it would stimulate the economy even more, if only when they were taken down and auctioned on eBay.

Read more here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

UK drops for 3rd straight year in national rankings

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2009

The University of Kentucky dropped in the U. S. News and World Report ranking for the third time in three years according to the magazine's newly released national rankings. "The three-year slide is bad enough," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky. "This report points out some problems the University of Kentucky needs to address."

The university went from 112th in the nation in 2007 to 122nd in 2008. This year it dropped further to 128th in the nation. Cothran pointed to a simple comparison with other SEC schools (excluding Vanderbilt), a comparison many Kentuckians would find familiar, that showed where the university needed to put its attention:
  • Diversity Index Rank: Worst
  • Average Freshman Retention Rate Rank: Lowest
  • Average Alumni Giving: 2nd lowest
  • Fall 2008 Acceptance Rate: 2nd highest
  • Average high school GPA: 2nd worst
  • Cost of room & board: Worst
  • Classes with fewer than 20 students: 2nd lowest
  • Classes with 50 students or more: 3rd highest
  • 6-year graduation rate: 2nd lowest
"Two years ago, the university argued that implementing domestic partner benefits would help it become a top 20 research school," said Cothran. "We argued then that the university needed to drop the political correctness and get its priorities straight. This report is further evidence that it hasn't done that."


Calipari may end up needing to emulate Pitino

University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is coming under public scrutiny because of NCAA sanctions against the University of Memphis basketball team for violations that occurred while he was coach, making it the second time a team he has coached that has been sanctioned in such a way.

Calipari himself has not been implicated in the investigations, but if the blame does end up falling on him, he may be forced to go out to a local restaurant, pick up a floozy, and pay for her abortion in order to return himself to the good graces of university officials.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

The health care gods must be crazy: Victor David Hanson on reform

Victor David Hanson, a classical scholar in addition to being a raisin farmer, giving a classical spin to the health care debate:
In Greek mythology, even Olympian gods and heroes were subject to a higher divine power known loosely as “fate” -- an allotted moira, or destiny, that could not be changed even by thunderbolt-throwing Zeus.

In modern America, debt -- whether national, state, or trade -- now plays the same overarching role as the ancient Greek notion of fate. And the president, Congress, and the states for all their various agendas are impotent since they must first pay back trillions that have long ago been borrowed and spent.

Politicians in their hubris who believe they can ignore debt or wish it away are sorely disappointed -- as we see now with the plummeting approval ratings of both the administration and Congress.

Take the issue of health-care reform proposals, in which the issue of debt looms large. We are told that more people will be insured, costs will go down, and care will not be rationed. But this rhetoric cannot disguise the reality of taking on even more debt.
Read the rest here.

U of L daring to be great once again.

One U of L recruit says he's staying despite Pitino's problems: "Yo I ain't leaving," said Peyton Siva on his Twitter page, "Rick('s) personal life is his life. He's here to coach me and is the best teach of hoop to me! So like the fans say, 'Go Cards.'"

So now we know that U of L's standards are as high as those of a teenage boy. It's a high mark to aspire to. Let's hope President James Ramsey's university is up to the task.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good news for Rand Paul in Survey USA poll

Despite just declaring his candidacy and not yet spending any money, Rand Paul turned in a respectable 26 percent support in the U. S. Senate race against 37 percent for the candidate who, so far, is an ideological tabula rasa, Trey Grayson.

I have it on good authority that Paul is conservative on social issues, although he hasn't said much on them publicly yet. And Grayson is squishy on gambling. If Paul runs to the social right of Grayson, he can get the church vote out, a not unimportant thing in a Republican election in Kentucky.

Prediction: If Paul can at least match Grayson on his social conservatism, and runs a good money bomb or two, the race will be neck and neck by election by the end of the year.

Whole Foods health care reform--without the nasty bean sprouts, tofu, and anything with soybeans in it

Now that popcorn has been declared a health food (can we dare hope that includes buttered popcorn?), maybe Congress could just gut Obama's socialist health reform bill and replace it with free government popcorn.

But since that is too much to hope for, let us now ponder the health care reform ideas of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey:
• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). ...

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. ...

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. ...

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. ...

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. ...

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. ...

• Enact Medicare reform. ...

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Read the complete post here. HT: Cranach: the blog of Veith

Where Obama's reform ideas have been tried before--and failed

What if you could find an industry that provided a service universally, with a greater degree of choice, that had a substantial "public option" mechanism to compete with private providers but that provided a tax break to help offset a private option if you chose one?

We found it:

Oh my, but the resulting costs of this system (college and university education) to consumers has gone up, not down. How can this be?

College and University education is available to virtually everyone with an IQ above that of an amoeba, there are countless choices available to interested families and students, and it has a "public option" in the form of vast state-run colleges and universities in virtually every state. In fact, some states have more than one state system (check out California).

But, strangely the cost of a college or university education has not only not stayed reasonable, it has increased at a rate faster than that of health care services.

Imagine that.

HT: Carpe Diem

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Domestic abuse victim Webb takes campaign contribution from man charged with domestic abuse

It has been revealed that the campaign of Robin Webb, who is running against Dr. Jack Ditty for the vacated State Senate seat of Charlie Borders after Gov. Steve Beshear lured the anti-slots Borders away from his seat with a lucrative appointment, has illegally taken contributions from lobbyists.

One of them is Bill Caylor. But what's interesting about the Caylor contribution is not that it came from a lobbyist--that's bad enough. What no one seems to have noticed is that Webb, who has said she was the victim of domestic abuse in her failed marriage, took it from a man who was recently charged for ... domestic abuse!

Politics is filled with ironies.

Argument Doping: Billy the Greek injects his case for slots at tracks with misinformation

Sports writer Billy Reed, who we have dubbed "Billy the Greek" for his frequent forays into the gambling issue, is at it again. Defending the industry that has been known to dope horses so they'll run faster than their competition, is doping his own arguments, hoping that'll help them defeat the bigger, stronger, and faster arguments with which they are in competition.

Today Billy further widens the Veracity Gap between what the horse tracks claim to be true and reality by writing about Ron Geary, the owner of Ellis Park, which Geary promised would go out of business this fall if the slots-at-tracks bill was defeated in the special session a couple months back. Well, it was defeated, and at first Geary looked to be as good as his word, announcing after the vote that this was it.

But then Geary carefully began moving back to the distant possibility that his track would stay open, to maybe seeing some hope that it might stay open, to thinking that, if things went well it could stay open, to talking about renewing his license for next year. He just couldn't compete with racinos across state lines, you see. But Ellis, it turns out, has had a better meet than expected, attracting the likes of Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum of Dubai, who is one of the people who would have received a bailout under Billy's bill.

While Geary is carefully edging toward reapplying for his license, Billy the Greek still waxes apocalyptic:

But he needs help from the General Assembly. He needs the level playing field that slots will provide every bit as much as the state treasury needs the new revenue that would come from expanded gaming.

With Geary, saving Ellis is an affair of the heart, certainly, but it’s also a matter of business. With expanding gaming, Ellis can evolve into an important year-round entertainment venue in an area where competition for the leisure dollar is limited.

Without it, however, Ellis has no shot to survive. And if Ellis folds, Turfway Park could be next. That’s how important it is for our elected leaders to look beyond their narrow self-interests and do the right thing by our state’s signature industry.

Billy apparently hasn't been paying attention to the Ron Geary Shuffle, that is moving the track owner closer to filing his license. Billy just doesn't understand why the state's General Assembly doesn't pass the slots at tracks bill:

It seems a simple request that should be easy to accommodate. But, as we’ve seen, nothing is easy when it gets into the clutches of our elected leaders in Frankfort. They have a well-documented ability to take the clearest of issues and cloud them beyond recognition.

You mean, like, loading the bill up with school building projects exclusively for the districts of lawmakers who promised to vote for the bill and saying that its "for the cheeeldren"? That well-documented ability?

And here's Billy talking about the mean ol' Republicans in the Senate who voted the bill to turn race tracks into casinos down:
This is mainly because Senate President David Williams, a regular patron of the gambling boats across the river, has put his ego and political ambitions above the will of the voting public.

... Beshear squandered his mandate for reasons still unclear. He failed to get an expanded-gaming bill out of the Democrat-controlled House in the 2008 general session and needed a change of House speakers ... Greg Stumbo replacing Jody Richards – and this summer’s special session to advance a bill to the Senate, where Williams snuffed it out without even allowing debate on the Senate floor.
Not allowing a debate on the floor? Billy should know better than this. The bill was voted down fair and square in committee. Bills that get voted down in committee don't get hearings on the floor. That's how the process works. What Billy really means is that the bill didn't get the special treatment it got in the House, where leadership bought votes to get it passed.

In truth, the bill was sent to the very same committee that passed it in the House: Appropriations and Revenue. That is not only unusual, it is routine in the legislature. David Williams didn't have to lift a finger to kill the bill. It died all by its lonesome self without anyone engaging in a single unusual procedural move.

If Billy the Greek and his veracity-challenged allies in the horse racing industry want to say that Williams did something wrong, then tell us what it is. So far, they have only hurled vague charges about sleazy tactics. What sleazy tactics? Name one. Just one.

There's about as much chance of Billy producing one as there is for Geary to close down Ellis Park.

And speaking of Geary again, he is hopeful about the special election to replace State Sen. Charlie Borders, who was lured away from his Senate seat for a cushy seat on the Public Service Commission (did somebody mention sleaze?):
“I’m going to be watching that election very closely,” Geary said. “If the right person wins, that would give me hope.”
I'm sure it would. I wonder how much money Geary and his poverty-stricken colleagues in the horse industry have bellied up in that race for Robin Webb.

And the Veracity Meter really went wild when we scanned this passage in Billy's post:
We need legislators who grasp this important distinction but it’s a harder sell than it has to be. How can you discuss the morality of an issue with knuckleheads who can’t grasp the hard, cold facts of what the horse industry means to Kentucky – an estimated 100,000 jobs, millions in tax revenue, and the preservation of countless acres of farmland.
100,000 jobs? This myth is so discredited even Keeneland CEO Nick Nickleson has admitted it's no good. The company that slots advocates say they got it from, Deloitte, says its only about half that, and one racing organization says its even less.

The tracks are going to lose this fight and they're going to look seedy doing it. That's what happens when you don't tell the truth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pitino skates

While Jeremy Jarmon was kicked off of the University of Kentucky football team for inadvertently taking the wrong dietary supplements bought from a health food store, Rick Pitino is keeping his coaching at the University of Louisville with any penalty after paying for an abortion to cover up a sexual liason.

Here are a couple of news articles I was quoted in on this story:

Louisville Courier-Journal, "Rick Pitino apologizes for affair," August 12, 2009:
In a blog yesterday, Martin Cothran, a lobbyist for the Family Foundation of Kentucky who has in the past advocated against abortion and same-sex marriage, called for the university to fire Pitino.There are “two issues here,” Cothran said in an interview. “One is, are we holding Rick Pitino to a lower moral standard than we do student athletes? ... We suspend people from teams for bar fights. We fire high school coaches for unintentionally causing the deaths of others. What we have in this case is somebody who intentionally acted to end a human life.”
Lexington Herald-Leader, "Pitino apologizes to university, team fans," August 12, 2009:

Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, a conservative think tank, called for Pitino’s firing on his personal blog.

In an interview Wednesday, he said the latest revelations obviously show the hypocrisy factor of a Catholic family man who may have paid for his mistress’s abortion. “Add to that the fact he’s in a position of moral leadership, he’s ‘Coach,’ he’s supposed to be modeling good behavior for students,” Cothran said.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Reality: Edward Feser's "The Last Superstition"

Where has Ed Feser been all my life? The exposition and defense of Aristotelianism in his new book The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism would have saved me years of hunting down old dusty out-of-print tomes by guys with "S. J." after their names that have been long forgotten and which many people would consider out-of-date and irrelevant.

Don't get me wrong, I like hunting down old dusty out-of-print tomes, no matter what letters the authors may have after their names. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do. And, actually, had I not gone to the all the trouble, I may not have fully appreciated Feser's achievement.

Feser makes a bold statement in his book: "Abandoning Aristotelianism, as the founders of modern philosophy did, was the single greatest mistake ever made in the entire history of Western thought." It is, as I say, a bold statement, and one that sets the bar at an altitude over which few philosophers could jump. Feser does it with ease. In fact, let me put it this way: The Last Superstition is not only the best refutation of the New Atheism yet penned, but is one of the most important books written in recent years, and is certainly the best book of Christian apologetics in recent memory. You can now take all those books trying to defend the "Christian worldview" and box them up now. Almost without exception, they miss the point altogether. Feser is one of the few who actually gets it.

And what is 'it'?

In preparation for a conference presentation I was giving this summer on the classical view of nature, I was doing a little reading. It was one of those times I am thankful that I have a large personal library from which to draw, and thankful also that I had a good excuse to read several books that had been sitting on my shelf that I had wanted to read for some time: E. A. Burtt's The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science; R. G. Collingwood's The Idea of Nature; Basil Willey's 17th Century Background and 18th Century Background; and, perhaps most notably, Alfred North Whitehead's The Origins of Modern Science.

As I went through them, a distinct theme began to emerge: the key change in the history of ideas underlying contemporary thought was the abandonment of Aristotelianism. Anyone having spent time reading about issues of philosophical metaphysics will have already concluded that the only Christian philosophy worth the name was that of St. Thomas Aquinas, a conclusion confirmed every time another book is published purporting to set such a thing forth. My own logic textbook, Material Logic, is mostly an explication of the Scholastic version of some key points of Aristotle's Metaphysics (which is essentially what most of material logic is).

In fact, it a strange thing: as I was reading my Google Reader (my chief and almost exclusive source for news these days), I pulled up one of Feser's blog posts in which he was recommending four books on the modern view of science. They were the very four books I had been reading--in the precise order in which I had read them. I commented on his blog, "Ed, this is almost creepy, I had read Burtt's book about a month ago, Willey's right after that, and I just finished Collingwood's today, and then I read your post." He responded, saying, "Martin, creepier still is that I see we both studied philosophy at UC Santa Barbara. I smell a conspiracy. Maybe they installed the same model computer chip in each of our brains...?"

It was this particular post, an excellent rundown of the role the rejection of Aristotelianism had on the development of science, which prompted me to read Feser's book in the first place, and I'm glad I did.

And they say there are no purposes in nature.

Feser mentions the same passage the implications of which I have been chewing on since I first read it years ago: Richard Weaver's remark in Ideas Have Consequences in which he points to William of Ockham "as the best representative of a change which came over man's conception of reality at this historic juncture":
It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one's view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses. With this change in the affirmation of what is real, the whole orientation of culture takes a turn, and we are on the road to modern empiricism. (Ideas Have Consequences, p. 3)
Ockham's key role in the decline of Western thought and civilization (the real subject of Feser's book) is completely lost on most of those who spend their time analyzing it. In fact (as I have written elsewhere), the Protestants go-to man on this subject, Francis Schaeffer, was not only completely blind to it, but, in a bizarre irony, places the blame for the decline of the West on the man who managed its greatest intellectual achievement: St. Thomas Aquinas!

Ockham's move (or that of his overenthusiastic followers, depending on who you listen to) involved rejecting the idea that things have natures or essences. When you say, "Man is mortal," all the term 'man' really is is a label, a name (Lat: nomen) that you slap on to things that have a similar set of characteristics. It doesn't signify, as everyone thought before Ockham (or at least before Peter Abelard, who first broached any doubt on the subject), any such thing as a human nature or essence common to every man. Men are nothing more than those featherless bipeds that go around eating, drinking, building houses and office buildings, writing books, chattering to each other at restaurants, raising children and sending them to college, and saving for retirement. But they do not really share anything other than these, and a few other characteristics. There is nothing in their fundamental being that makes them men rather than something else.

This move by Ockham exemplifies the ontological problem with modern thought: the denial of formal cause. In his Physics and Metaphysics, Aristotle had laid out four "causes": four aspects of a thing that determined what a thing was. There were, he said, formal cause, material cause, efficient cause, and final cause. Formal cause was the ontological pattern of a thing: that aspect of a thing that makes the matter out of which a thing is made a man, or a horse, or a tree, or a piece of granite, and not something else. The material cause is simply that of which a thing is composed. The efficient cause is that which brings a thing about. And final cause is the purpose of a thing: what a thing is for.

But what Burtt and Collingwood and Willey and Whitehead also point out, and what is the other main point of Feser's book, is that, in addition to the rejection of formal cause by William of Ockham, modern thinkers also jettisoned final cause, leaving only material and efficient cause to keep each other company.

This second, or teleological move in modern thought--the rejection of final cause--was well-stated by Burtt:
Medieval philosophy, attempting to solve the ultimate why of events instead of their immediate how, and thus stressing the principle of final causality (for the answer to such a question could only be given in terms of purpose or use), had its appropriate conception of God. Here was the teleological hierarchy of the Aristotelian forms, all heading up in God or Pure Form, with man intermediate in reality and importance between him and the material world. The final why of events in the latter could be explained mainly in terms of their use to man; the final why of human activities in terms of the ultimate quest for union with God. Now, with the superstructure from man up banished from the primary realm, which for Galileo is identified with material atoms in their mathematical relations, the how of events being the sole objects of exact study, there had appeared no place for final causality whatsoever. The real world is simply a succession of atomic motions in mathematical continuity. Under these circumstances causality could only be intelligibly lodged in the motions of the atoms themselves, everything that happens being regarded as the effect solely of mathematical changes in these material elements. (The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, p. 98-99)
Final cause, requiescat in pace.

Someone might argue that Burtt is sympathetic the Aristotelian cause, as indeed are Willey, Collingwood, and Whitehead, although none were so bold as to come right out and say so--so tight has been the stranglehold of materialism on philosophy. But one of the most striking passages from Feser's book is a quote from W. T. Stace in an Atlantic Monthly article of 1948. Stace was one of the minor deities in philosophy when I was studying philosophy at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the early 1980s--a little earlier, I am guessing, than when Feser was there, a fact that makes what he says all the more powerful:
The real turning point between the medieval age of faith and the modern age of unfaith came when the scientists of the seventeenth century turned their backs upon what used to be called "final causes" ... [belief in which] was not the invention of Christianity [but] was basic to the whole of Western civilization, whether in the ancient pagan world or in Christendom, from the time of Socrates to the rise of science in the seventeenth century. ... They did this on the ground that inquiry into purposes is useless for what science aims at: namely, the predication and control of events. ... The conception of purpose in the world was ignored and frowned upon. This, though silent and almost unnoticed, was the greatest revolution in human history, far outweighing in importance any of the political revolutions whose thunder has reverberated through the world. ... The world, according to this new picture, is purposeless, senseless, meaningless. Nature is nothing but matter in motion. The motions of matter are governed not by any purpose, but by blind forces and laws. ... [But] if the scheme of things is purposeless and meaningless, then the life of man is purposeless and meaningless too. Everything is futile, all effort is in the end worthless. A man may, of course, still pursue disconnected ends, money, fame, art, science, and may gain pleasure from them. But his life is hollow at the center. Hence, the dissatisfied, restless, spirit of modern man. ... Along with the ruin of the religious vision there went the ruin of moral principles and indeed of all values. ... If our moral rules do not proceed from something outside us in the nature of the universe--whether we say it is God or simply the universe itself--then they must be our own inventions. Thus it came to be believed that moral rules must be merely an expression of our own likes and dislikes. But likes and dislikes are notoriously variable. What pleases one man, people or culture, displeases another. Therefore, morals are wholly relative. (quoted in The Last Superstition, pp. 225-226)
And Stace is not the only secular modern philosopher who understands the position materialism has placed modern man. Those with stronger dispositions might try reading Bertrand Russell's "A Free Man's Worship." Or try Nietzsche, Sartre, and a few other existentialists, who harbor none of the comforting illusions about the rational implications of the abandonment of the traditional Western metaphysics--unlike their more philosophically naive New Atheist brethren.

Feser's book not only contains a diagnosis--that modern thought labors mightily under the denial of formal and final causes, it also includes an excellent analysis of the symptoms brought about by this denial. In so doing, he provides a great illustration of Chesterton's assertion that a man must put the mysteries of reality, not what seem the obvious solutions, at the center of his philosophy.

In his book Orthodoxy, Chesterton maintained that modern thought displays all the characteristics of madness. And it resulted, as he explained in another book (St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox), precisely from his refusal to start his thinking from the plain truths of Aristotelianism:
The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end. ... But we may ask, ... if this be what drives men mad, what is it that keeps them sane? ... Mysticism keeps men sane. ... The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. ... The Christian ... puts the seed of dogma in the central darkness.

...Symbols alone are of even a cloudy value in speaking of this deep matter; and another symbol from physical nature will express sufficiently well the real place of mysticism before mankind. The one create thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility.
To Chesterton, a Thomist, Christianity is necessarily Aristotelian.

Rejecting mystery altogether, modern thought begins at the wrong starting point. It demands that thought must begin with those things that can be proved, and finds that, once this has been accomplished, it cannot prove anything. Feser, employing an equally apt metaphor, describes the predicament of modern thought as one in which modern thinkers have positioned themselves out on a limb, and are enthusiastically sawing it off--all the while congratulating themselves on their cleverness in doing so.

If you go into your laboratory, boil reality over a low flame, check out the results under a microscope and conclude that because you cannot detect formal and final causes, they must not be real, and then go on to construct your view of the world on that basis, you may think you have made a great contribution to the world. But all you have done is undercut the basis for reasoning about anything at all. And not only have you done that, you have created for yourself a whole slough of problems for yourself--and made the problems with which you may already have been faced insoluble.

In one of the best chapters of his book, "The Descent of the Modernists," Feser explains the various problems the practitioners of what he calls the "Mechanical Philosophy" have created for themselves: the knowledge problem, the mind/body problem, the problem of induction, the problem of free will, the problem of morality, the problem of causation. These were not "problems" under the Aristotelian world view; they only became problems when it was rejected. In fact, Feser makes the ironic point that modern thinkers need God even more than their Aristotelian predecessors, since that is the only way they can hold their worldviews together at all.

Feser makes the important point that Aristotelianism was never discredited; it simply went out of intellectual fashion: "Far from being a discovery, the rejection of the four causes was a sheer stipulation, an act of pure intellectual willfulness." Or, as Willey put it, "What we need to remember, however, is that we have to do here with a transference of interests rather than with the mere "exantlation" of new truth or the rejection of error."

Feser's critics have charged that the the book's occasional polemical flourishes weaken the whole book. These passages don't bother me, but they have perhaps offered too inviting a target for those who have obvious trouble understanding his arguments. But I wonder if these critics have the same problem with atheists like P. Z. Myers, whose prose is five parts polemic and one part attempted rational discourse.

And there is the issue of whether some of his audience will understand some of the more involved passages of the book. It is obviously intended for the intelligent layman. On this score, I think Feser does about the best that can be done in explaining concepts that would otherwise be difficult to the philosophically uninitiated by writing is clear prose and avoiding the unnecessary jargon that plagues his profession. The reader of the book will obviously get more out of it the more familiar he already is with some of the issues he addresses. But this is a clarifying book, and its clarifications will be appreciated by those who have been pondering these issues and just need someone to help put their finger on the underlying problems with modern thought.

Aristotle has been threatening to make a comeback for the last hundred years. When Whitehead wrote Science and the Modern World in 1925, there were some who thought that the jig was up with modern materialism. How could it withstand Whitehead's--onslaught--which was based on his own peculiar modern formulation of what, at bottom, was Aristotelianism? In The Idea of Nature, Collingwood clearly believed that Whitehead had struck a mortal blow. But, alas, Collingwood's confidence in the cultural power of sound reasoning was in vain. Something had to give: reason or scientific materialism. It is unfortunate that the former was subordinated to the latter.

It would far surpass the recklessness of Collingwood's judgment to say that Feser's book will succeed where Whitehead failed. Whitehead's stature in the intellectual world of the early 20th century was, after all, unassailable: He had co-authored, with Bertrand Russell, Principia Mathematica, the book that fired the philosophical shot heard round the world, and which gave birth to modern philosophy. No logician could pretend to that title without having at least a familiarity with the book's interminable symbolic formulas, all premised on the idea that meaningful language could be captured in a formal system--an assumption that still plays havoc on the subject through the continuing predominance of quantification theory in the field of logic.

I wonder if Feser studied under Francis Dauer at UCSB, as I did. Dauer was a student of Willard Van Orman Quine, by whose mischievous influence, which still haunts the study of logic in American universities, the Aristotelian assumptions of classical logic were simply ostracized from its study.

Professionally speaking, Feser is small potatoes compared with Whitehead, and given his explicit Aristotelian inclinations, he must necessarily occupy that outer darkness prepared by the academic establishment for Aristotle and his angels. But those of us who paint our faces and wander the outskirts of the intellectual world waiting for the Return of Reason can still take heart from a book like this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rick Pitino discussing health care insurance with Karen Sypher

A message Rick Pitino left on Karen Sypher's phone as he was on vacation with his family. Note the detailed discussion of health plan benefits.

HT: Page One Kentucky

Ronald Reagan on nationalizing health care

HT: Francis Beckwith at What's Wrong with the World:

Herald-Leader's Mark Story: Pitino should step down now

As Page One Kentucky Aptly put it, "It's not going away." If the James Ramsey's scandal-plagued university was really looking for the best thing to do for Rick Pitino (not to mention everyone else), he would have pulled the plug on this weeks ago. As it is, Pitino's whole private life is now going to be dragged out into public view.

Dr. Ramsey, do the right thing.

Student pro-life group wants Pitino gone

A student pro-life group at the University of Louisville is calling for the dismissal of basketball coach Rick Pitino:

“Rick Pitino will always be considered a great basketball coach, but just because he knows basketball does not mean the University of Louisville community should hold up this man as a role model and hero,” Lisa Just, president of Cardinals for Life, said in a news release.

Read more here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

USA Today: How does Rick Pitino continue to be Rick Pitino?

From Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist:
After all this, how does Rick Pitino ever again go into a recruit's home, look his mother in the eye and tell her with a straight face he'll watch over her son's education and moral well-being?

How does Pitino ever punish a player for violating a team rule? How does he offer life lessons to his players? How does he walk onto a stage to give one of his patented motivational speeches without being laughed right off of it?

Basically, how does Rick Pitino continue being Rick Pitino, especially when we're not entirely certain just who that person is anymore?

Read the rest here.

U of L chooses basketball success over integrity

If U of L's basketball team had been, say, 19-18 last year instead of 31-6, would Rick Pitino still be the coach?

The Pitinos: The Complete Eighth Season

Episode I: Rick consolidates his position as basketball coach by winning lots of games
Episode II: Rick is the object of an extortion attempt by a woman
Episode III: Rick decides that $10 million is too much to pay for the woman's silence, although this particular woman's silence would be beneficial to everyone, including herself.
Episode IV: When Rick reports the extortion attempt to the FBI, it comes out in the press that Rick had met the strange woman (who turns out to be strange in more ways than one) at a local Italian restaurant owned by his close friend Tim "the Facilitator" Coury, and that he had had what the two joking call an "indiscretion" at the restaurant while Rick's driver Vinnie waited in the restaurant.
Episode V: University president James "the Bungler" Ramsey meets with his veteran damage control team to discuss what to do. When Ramsey begins explaining how he thinks they should deal with fraud and mismanagement issues at the university, aides quickly remind him that that particular scandal is over and that they are dealing with a new one now. The episode ends with Ramsey getting lost as he tries to find his way home.
Episode VI: An intrepid reporter finds the police report in which Rick admits his sexual affair with the strange woman and also that he had paid her $3,000 to have an abortion. Rick's lawyer, Steve "the Handler" Pence, tries to explain that the money was not for an abortion, but for "health insurance" for the strange woman. According to the police report, the line Rick used when introducing himself to her at Porcini was, "Hey baby, how's your health insurance plan?" Pence disclosed that he gave her the $3,000 for her first year's premium, but offered to perform the mammograms himself.
Episode VII: A public outcry over the affair and the abortion forces university officials to quickly paper things over with a press conference in which Rick invokes 9/11 to explain his actions, although no one appears to understand what in the world 9/11 has to do with a sexual liason or paying for an abortion. University president Ramsey tells the press that his university is not a degree mill and that the charges are "anonymous crap." Aides briefly take him aside and remind him that the Deasy and Felner scandals have already been put to bed and that they are talking about Pitino now. Ramsey leans into the microphone and says, "Never mind."
Episode VIII: University damage control team members high five each other after their press conference snows everyone into thinking that the whole thing is over. The season's final show ends at Porcini, where Rick is introducing himself to another strange woman who looks like she needs health care insurance.

Billy Reed calls for Pitino suspension

After James Ramsey issued the quickest exoneration on record, Billy Reed calls for at least a meazly little suspension for Pitino:

The best outcome for the Rick Pitino sex scandal would be for the University of Louisville’s basketball coach to voluntarily take a leave of absence and turn his 2009-’10 team over to Ralph Willard, who gave up the head job at Holy Cross so he could be at his dear friend’s side.

Read more here.

Courier-Journal slams James Ramsey, decision on Pitino

The Louisville Courier-Journal today on the big rug they've got over at the University of Louisville under which they sweep things:
Similarly distressing was the initial reaction of UofL president James Ramsey and athletics director Tom Jurich. The latter said Mr. Pitino had been truthful with the university and that “we stand by him.” Mr. Ramsey said the new details were “surprising,” but also sounded supportive and added Wednesday only that he will meet with Mr. Jurich. That didn't sound like a no-nonsense, get-to-the-bottom-of-this response from officials whose top priority must be the integrity of the university and its sports programs.

The university and a gaggle of lawyers can argue about whether Mr. Pitino violated terms of his contract that stipulate that he can be fired for causing “disparaging media publicity of a material nature that damages the good name and reputation” of the university and for “acts of moral depravity.”

On two matters, however, there can be little argument. One is that Mr. Pitino and the university would be expected to take harsh measures against any player or staff member who had behaved as their coach did.
Read the rest here.

Forget Rick Pitino. Fire James Ramsey.

The locus of responsibility in the Rick Pitino scandal has shifted several times. The first was Pitino's encounter with Karen Sypher, in which both Coach Pitino and Sypher were complicit. Then it shifted again when Sypher tried to extort Pitino, in which Sypher proved what kind of person she was. It shifted again when Pitino went to the police to report the extortion.

What this latter action says about Pitino is hard to determine. His choice was between being extorted and not having his dirty laundry aired out in public, and not being extorted and having people finding out about what he did. He chose the latter. Whether he chose it because it was the cheaper alternative (she was demanding $10 million) or because it was the right thing to do is hard to tell. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

The locus of responsibility shifted once again when the police report came out yesterday in which it was revealed that Pitino did indeed have a sexual encounter with Sypher, and that, in addition, when she called and told him she was pregnant, he gave her $3,000 for an abortion. At this point, the responsibility shifted to the University of Louisville, specifically, to the ethically challenged James Ramsey, the university's president.

Sypher certainly didn't acquit herself well when she had it. Pitino failed his first test and passed the second only because we are stipulating that he did. How did Ramsey fare?

This isn't Ramsey's first test.

His first test was during the controversy over domestic partner benefits at his university, in which he lied to a legislative committee about whether U of L was paying for health benefits of its employees live-in partners. He was caught red-handed when it was discovered that U of L had been subsidizing the benefits for several months.

When ruse was made public by Yours Truly, Ramsey had to go back to Frankfort to smooth things over with the legislators he had lied to. Word has it that Ramsey or one of U of L's lobbyists was raked over the coals by at least one legislative leader for his behavior. Ramsey never publicly fessed up, and he continued to dissemble about it for weeks afterward. He even followed up his original lie with lies to his alumni.

And then there was the matter of the U of L Board closing ranks to protect him.

About a year later, Ramsey was faced with another opportunity to do the right thing, from which he backed down once again. After numerous complaints from staff about Education Dean Robert Felner about personal bullying and sexual harrassment, to which Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willinganz repeatedly turned a blind eye, it was revealed that Felner, who one former employee referred to as a "psychopath," was defrauding the University (and the federal government) of tens of thousands of dollars in grant money.

This was a man who "bragged openly at faculty meetings that he had the full support of the Provost and President," according to a letter signed by twenty-one former faculty members.

Here was Ramsey's response:

That's right "anonymous crap." Sheeez. Ramsey finally apologized, but only after making a complete fool of himself and having no choice. Ramsey first understated the severity of the abuse of grant money, then, after five years of verbal abuse by Felner, Ramsey added insult to injury by verbally abusing them himself, calling their complaints "anonymous crap." Not only were they not crap, but, it turns out, they weren't all anonymous. And, of course, there were no consequences for those in administration--Ramsey himself and Willinganz--who mishandled the whole situation.

Then, just three days after the belated apology, it was revealed that John Deasy, a superintendent in California and one of Robert Felner's cronies, received a PhD from the University after completing only 9 units of coursework never completing any residency, opening the university up to charges of being the equivalent of a degree mill. Again, it was swept under the rug and Ramsey looked like a bungling idiot.

Not only has Ramsey demonstrated a decided lack of ability to deal competently with administrative problems and public scandals at the university, he apparently has a tin ear when it comes to the political and public relations issues that these problems have caused.

Now the University has a coach on its hands who has not only committed behavior that is a public embarrassment to the University, but is more morally reprehensible than anything it has ever expelled a student athlete over.

Here's Ramsey's lame statement over the matter:

Rick Pitino is the University of Louisville's basketball coach. He has been a role model for countless young people and a positive influence on this community.

Regardless of the truth or falsehood of specific actions that have been attributed to the coach, he's clearly made errors in judgment that have come under intense public scrutiny. We can't ignore these errors in judgment, and they have saddened and disappointed me. As we try to teach our students, when you make a mistake, you admit it and right it as best you can. Coach has done that today.

It's not an easy thing to come before the university community and all of you to admit mistakes and commit to do better. I know this has been difficult on the coach, it's been difficult on me, and difficult for our university. But as Coach Pitino and I discussed earlier today, this was the right thing for him to do.

We hope this closes this chapter; we're all ready to move on. Our university is recovering from a flood that shut down a large portion of our campus, preparing for the start of classes on August 24th, and getting ready to welcome the most academically talented freshman class in our history. We need to get back to our job of educating the next generation of Kentucky's leaders.

This is utterly absurd bureaucratic cant. "Regardless of the truth or falsehood of particular actions"? What kind of mealy-mouthed talk is that? We know what happened. And "errors in judgment"? Is that what ethically challenged university bureaucrats call paying for the destruction of a human life?

Before we get "back to our job of educating the next generation of Kentucky's leaders" we need to have leaders now that know how to actually engage in leadership. And James Ramsey is not one them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jefferson County School District proves Diversity has its benefits

After having watched the way public schools operate over my now 17 years in public policy, it is pretty clear to me that the chief purpose of school districts is to make themselves look good. Whether they actually are good is, of course, another story.

Richard Innes has discovered a very creative way the Jefferson County School District is making one of its schools look good through its forced busing plan. White students are being bused to Shelby Elementary School, a school that has failed to meet its requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act four years in a row.

Innes explains Jefferson County's plan to improve the school:
If Jefferson county can dilute the number of low-scoring students in this school by busing in kids from better-off parts of the school district, it possibly will boost scores in the school, at least for a little while, without having to make any real changes in educational performance.
Ingenious. No?

The morality clause in Rick Pitino's contract

The Louisville Courier-Journal has published the morality clause in basketball coach Rick Pitino's contract:
It also allows him to be terminated for generating disparaging media publicity, if it is caused by his “willful conduct that could objectively be determined to bring (the) employee into public dispute or scandal, or which tends to greatly offend the public.”
Let's see if the ethically challenged administration at U of L, which has a very big rug under which it sweeps scandals, actually does anything.

UPDATE: Here is Pitino's full contract.

Fire Rick Pitino

The University of Louisville should act quickly to terminate Rick Pitino as the university's basketball coach. Why? To prevent sports commentators like Lachlan McLean from further embarrassing themselves by saying completely idiotic things.

This must happen now, before these people completely ruin their credibility and drive away the sensible people from their audience.

It was revealed late Tuesday that Pitino had had a sexual relationship with Karen Sypher, a woman who had tried to extort money from him, and who, when the extortion attempt was reported by Pitino to the FBI, charged that Pitino had had forced her into involuntary sex. Little was said about what Pitino actually did until the Courier-Journal revealed that, according to the police report, Pitino admitted to police of having had "consensual sex" with Sypher at Porcini's Restaurant. Sypher later told Pitino she was going to have an abortion but didn't have health insurance. So Pitino paid her $3,000 to have the abortion.

Porcini's?!!! I've been to Porcini's. In fact, not only have I been there, but I walk right by the place two or three times a week. Now think about this: a famous coach somehow has an intimate sexual encounter at a public restaurant. Where is everyone while all this is going on? Where are his assistants? Well, we know that one:
Vinnie Tatum, an executive assistant to Pitino, told the FBI that he didn't see what happened but heard “only the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter,” according to Abbott's report.
And where was this taking place? In the main serving area? We're thinking not. There are a lot of windows around. The kitchen? Ick. Where were the cooks? Where were the dishwashers? Where were the waitresses? Where was the owner? Just how many people did Pitino compromise? Maybe the man is a good customer and just let him have the run of the place. Maybe when the last shift has ended they leave him with the key and tell him to lock the doors when he leaves.

I'm thinking that Porcini's is just a little less attractive as a dining destination now that we know that U of L coaches are conducting sexual trysts there. On the other hand, if the restaurant is like a lot of the storefronts along Frankfort Road, it has a sign in the window that says, "Keep Louisville weird." Maybe it will improve their business. It's a crazy world.

The extortion attempt has been public knowledge for some time, and no one has had any illusions about Sypher's character. But this is the first time Pitino's role in the whole illicit thing has been reported. So what was McLean's reaction? To go on a tirade about Sypher's lack of credibility and lament the fact that Pitino's name has been dragged through the mud.

I normally like Lachlan McLean, but I am having trouble figuring out why you would go on a tirade about this woman's credibility when the mud that was just revealed was of Pitino's own making. In fact, forget the lovefest at Porcini's, Tuesday night's Sports Talk 84 spun off into a ridiculous orgy of excuse making, complete with laments about "Poor Rick" for having to go through all this.

Poor Rick?

Yes, Poor Rick. You know who we mean: The guy who suffers under a $2,500,000 annual salary (plus bonuses). The guy who has to endure public adulation from basketball fans on a daily basis. The guy who can't even find a private place to have his sexual encounters.

That Poor Rick.

This is the kind of nonsense that McLean would normally be ridiculing for the whole three hours of his nightly show. So, please, can we just cut the guy a big check and send him packing before we have to endure more of this? Pitino, I mean, not Lach.

Oh, and did we mention the other reason why Pitino should be fired? Has anyone noticed the kinds of actions that constitute grounds for disciplinary action of college athletes?

College athletes are suspended, temporarily or indefinitely, and kicked off teams for their behavior off the field on a regular basis. Most of these result from unnamed "violations of team rules," while others are made public. The infractions that constitute grounds for these actions include behavior such as failing drug tests (Ryan Perrilloux, LeMarcus Coker), credit card fraud (Jamal Hornsby), marijuana possession (Ty Erving, Jack Johnson, Gerald Jones, Ahmad Page), possession of alcohol (Fred Munzenmaier), underage drinking (Steve Garcia, Heath Bachelor, Zachary Brindise), bar fights (Brick Lewis, Dorian Davis, Antonio Wardlow), disorderly conduct (Mike Newton, Anthony Parker), and carrying a concealed weapon (Preston Parker).

These are the standards we apply to student athletes. Should the standards for the coaches we hire and pay to lead these athletes be higher or lower?

So here's the questions for the supporters of "Poor Rick": Are any of the infractions we routinely employ as grounds for kicking student athletes off the team as reprehensible as bankrolling the termination of the life of a child you helped bring into the world in the first place in order that you wouldn't be publicly embarrassed?

I didn't think so.

U of L Athletic Director Rick Jurich has already said Pitino's job is not in danger. And isn't this what we've come to expect from U of L? President James Ramsey was caught lying to a legislative committee two years ago and suffered no consequences. Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willinganz presided over the theft of tens of thousands of dollars in federal grant money in the education department chairman James Ramsey case and never even got their hands slapped.

How can Pitino have any credibility when it comes to team discipline when the university has let him off the hook for a far great offense than any of them will likely ever commit?

Fire him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beware Directive 1233

This just in from Frank Beckwith, over at First Things, concerning Section 1233 of President Obama's health care plan: a quote from Charles Lane's article in Saturday's Washington Post about charges that Obamacare would result in pushing those troublesome and obsolete seniors to realize they are a burden on our society and should therefore not bother the rest of us with their continued costly presence:

Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 aren’t quite “purely voluntary,” as Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) asserts. To me, “purely voluntary” means “not unless the patient requests one.” Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive — money — to do so. Indeed, that’s an incentive to insist.

Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they’re in the meeting, the bill does permit “formulation” of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would “place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign,” I don’t think he’s being realistic.

. . . Ideally, the delicate decisions about how to manage life’s end would be made in a setting that is neutral in both appearance and fact. Yes, it’s good to have a doctor’s perspective. But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed, the measure would have an interested party — the government — recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don’t have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.

Provisions like this just make Obama look indecisive. First, he makes us think he is turning us into Russia (I'm thinking of the partial nationalization of the auto industry), then Sweden (what with nationalized health care). Now he's making it look like the Netherlands (euthenasia).

I say we just take an up or down vote now on which socialist European country we're going to become.

The Diversity Monster is eating more children (and money)

... Oh, and did we mention throwing carbon emissions into the air as well? The district uses biodiesel in its gas, but only two percent of its fuel is actually biodiesel.

All this to get its racial percentages right. Some day, they might also put good education on their very full list of priorities.

Scary Headline of the Day: "Having Children Brings High Carbon Impact"

This just in from the New York Times: Having babies is bad for the environment:

Having children is the surest way to send your carbon footprint soaring, according to a new study from statisticians at Oregon State University.

The study found that having a child has an impact that far outweighs that of other energy-saving behaviors.

... “Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle,” the report states.
Changes in lifestyle meaning: Stop having babies.

One wonders sometimes about the liberal death wish: they have convinced themselves that humans are bad for the planet, and so are persuading themselves that they should stop having babies, and so lower their reproduction rates below replacement level. Conservatives, meanwhile, find it nonsensical that humans are bad for the planet, and are having lots of babies. The demographic implications of liberals having fewer babies than conservatives should be self-evident.

Have I pointed out that the belief that the End Is Near is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

HT: Nicene Truth

Monday, August 10, 2009

David Hawpe Will Never Die: A giant of journalism retires

Some things just seem permanent. David Hawpe is one of them.

The announcement of Hawpe's retirement as editorial director of the Louisville Courier-Journal is one of those things that makes you stop so that you can take your bearings in the political landscape. It is political ground moving under your feet, and it changes the landscape drastically.

I have had many public disputes with Hawpe over the years, ever since the great KERA debates of the late 90's, in which I played the role of the little boy, and David played the Emperor's adjutant, insisting that he did, indeed, have clothes. There have been many since then--on education, same-sex marriage, mandatory HPV vaccinations, casino gambling. The list goes on.

In fact, we had a routine going: I would take the right position on an issue, which would goad him into taking the wrong position. He fell for it every time.

David was a genuine liberal, which just means he was a basically good person who assumed that other people--particularly those who run our institutions--must be good too. This is, in fact, the central assumption of modern liberalism: that man is basically good, and that, unless hindered by some societal force extrinsic to him, he will remain so.

This is why most liberals are socialists. They really think that government can and shouldtake care of people's problems. They believe in Christian charity, and they think it can be writ large and implemented by government. The problem is that their belief in this Christian doctrine is not balanced by an offsetting belief in another one: Original Sin.

This is something that most conservatives don't understand: Liberals aren't bad; in fact, they're so good they are a danger to themselves and others.

To those of us who take all the Christian doctrines into account, David was a scourge. But despite how well he dished it out to conservatives over the years, I believe David didn't have a mean bone in his body. Every personal exchange I ever had with him was good-natured, charitable, and good-humored. Whenever I picked up the phone and called him (usually trying to get an op-ed through to him which the CJ spam filter always prevented me from doing), he would say something like, "Martin Cothran! Oh no! What have I done now?" I could just seem him holding his hand up defensively in front of his face to shield himself, and we would proceed to have an amusing conversation about some political topic.

Okay, well, I just realized this whole tribute sounds like a eulogy. David Hawpe is not dead!

But he is retiring.

I don't know what happened. Given the trends in print journalism these days (which are tending toward either complete ruin and total annihilation, take your pick), I guess I just assume that some of the old bulls are being forced out to prevent the bottom line from bottoming out. It certainly isn't because Hawpe has lost any of his edge.

David bestrides an age that saw the power and the glory of the big city newspapers, and that is now seeing their unraveling due to the onslaught of other forms of media. I know that many are welcoming the change, but I am not so sure. There was something to the old pressmen who, whatever their unconscious prejudices, were professionals with a pride in the quality of what they did. There is nothing like it in the Brave New World of the Internet, which has certainly brought about great access to information (by which we are, as Neil Postman put it, "informing ourselves to death"), but it has also brought about increased opportunities for cant, sensationalism, and a lack of manners.

There is something to be said for quality control, even if you have put up with a little liberal censorship into the bargain.

I am told that just over the last ten or fifteen years, as the earth has shifted under their feet (and as staff has been slowly let go), the editorial culture of the CJ has changed dramatically. Where once there were regular meetings of the editorial board, in which issues were hashed out and personalities clashed, there are now only occasional polite discussions, mostly via e-mail.

Looking back from the age of modern instant media to the old one and seeing what has been lost can't be pleasant for those, like Hawpe, who have seen both. David Hawpe left an indelible imprint on both these worlds. And I, for one, will miss him.

The Kentucky Horse Track That Cried Wolf

Well, wouldn't you know it. All that talk from Ellis Park owner Ron Geary about how his race track was going to close if the slots bill wasn't passed. The drop dead date? Labor Day 2009. If the bill didn't pass, there would be no racing at Ellis Park in 2010. The competition from slots-funded tracks across state lines was going to shut him down. He said it to reporters and he said in testimony before the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

I know because I was sitting behind him at the committee meeting when he said it. And now he's backing off.

And to show how serious he was about making people believe it, he applied for a 5o percent reduction of his race dates, although he didn't advertise the fact that he had left his options open as to whether he could reapply for those dates.

It looked pretty scary.

Then, when the General Assembly refused to be bullied by the scare tactics of the race tracks, Geary began what I have called "the Ron Geary Shuffle." All of a sudden, things weren't as bad as he had thought. At the beginning of July, he began talking about how his track "could remain open" in 2010.

Here is what I said at the time:

First it was that the track was definitely closing if we didn't vote for slots, and now it's a "longshot." Watch Geary slowly creep from "longshot" to "maybe" to "let me consult my horoscope" to "probably will" to actually filing the application for horse racing dates in 2010. I say 2-to-1 he does it. And after all those threats he made to the General Assembly last week that he was definitely shutting down. Mmmm mmm. An industry lobbyist told me that on September 7th, they were closing their doors.

Going into 2010 having not seen what we were told would undoubtedly happen if slots didn't pass isn't going to look real good for the slots lobby.

Well, 2-1 is pretty good odds, but now they are getting better because Geary is now well past the consulting his horoscope phase and is now approaching actually filing for 2o1o race dates. Why?
Couldn't be because Geary and other track owners were engaging in BLATANT EXAGGERATION of the problems they were having and of the need for slots at tracks.

No, no. We must cleanse our minds of this terrible thought.

On July 27, Geary filed for five additional summer race dates, and now, presto, Ellis Park is about to file for dates in 2010:
Apparantly, field and purse sizes have not suffered as much what was feared when slot machines were rejected at Kentucky racetracks. That's when owner Ron Geary declared the track's demise. But now, the Ellis staff is preparing paperwork to apply for race dates, next year.
So it is looking like Ellis Park's scare tactics were just as overblown as their rhetoric about there being 100,000 horse jobs (when, in fact, is was more like about 40,000).

Funny how that works.