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Some thoughts on the recent Connecticut shootings

Like most, I am deeply saddened by the senseless killings in Connecticut on December 14. Children are truly precious and should never be subjected to this evil. I was further saddened that by that very evening I was reading reports of some claiming that new gun laws need to be enacted and others saying that new mental health laws must be created to stop this sort of violence.

I sincerely believe that what we have witnessed is neither a gun control nor a mental health issue- these are manifestations of a much deeper problem within our society. Connecticut already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country; in fact the current laws kept the young man from buying a rifle just one week prior to the killings. And we have seen time and again how mental health professionals have been worried about a potential threat but kept quiet in fear of over-stepping or offending someone. No, the real issue at hand is much deeper and I believe wholeheartedly that it is due to the fact that, as a society, we have allowed ourselves to lose our moral compass.  No, that’s wrong… We haven’t lost our moral compass- we threw it away in the name of political correctness.

We raise our children at the altar of Dr. Spock, providing instant gratification, practically no rules and very little reprimand. The result of all this is that we now have the so-called ‘Participation Trophy Generation’ (and here) of kids who think they deserve and are entitled to the good life without having to earn anything. His Socialist views have provided us with a country full of children and parents who are ready and willing to sue a school system or a teacher that dares fail a child for being lazy. And we wonder what’s wrong.

We used to have at least a moral basis in our country.  But we have decided that there is no place in our society for morality.  At best we subscribe to moral relativism, a belief that there really is no such thing as right or wrong but that it is solely up to an individual to decide and no one else has any say in about it. Very often we see that as an example of us at our best. At worst we subscribe to the views of Aleister Crowley (aka, the wickedest man in the world) who famously claimed that the whole of the law was “Do what thou wilt.” Just yesterday I heard someone on the radio quote that from Crowely and then give their enthusiastic agreement. As a society, we have forgotten the simple truth found in the words of our second President and founding father, John Adams, as he once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

As we descend deeper into our moral abyss, I find it strange and sad that we refuse to even consider the root cause of our problems. I believe there is a direct correlation between the decline of American greatness (both at home and abroad) with the decline of our morality. What’s the solution? There isn’t one as long as we refuse to see the problem.

Abortion Legislation Killed Again in Kentucky House

Again this year- and this makes FOUR years in a row- the Kentucky House of Representatives has allowed legislation to die that would restrict abortions in our Commonwealth.… Continue reading »

Kentucky Politics at its worst, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Jody Richards

Jody, Jody, Jody… Are you still mad because you lost the Primary? Or do you hate Governor Fletcher so much that you are willing to gamble my children’s economic future just to try and help Steve Beshear win in November? Oh, maybe you think that Beshear’s let’s-put-casinos-everywhere policy will solve the economic development problem in Kentucky?

Gov. Fletcher recently called a special session for the Kentucky Legislature and Brave Sir Jody decided that was a good time to stand up and give a big speech about how taxpayer money was being wasted. Now, he decides he wants to save taxpayer dollars. Better late than never, I guess. Wonder if his newfound fiscal responsibility will last? I would lay down odds and take some bets, but Beshear isn’t quite in the Governor’s mansion just yet.

Instead of actually passing tax incentives for coal to liquid fuel plants, Richards said,

“… the House stands ready to make a letter commitment to provide appropriate incentives to any energy company which is ready to make a commitment to Kentucky.”

Well, Speaker Richards, Peabody isn’t ready to make a commitment, yet. They are looking to see what Kentucky will offer before they decide where to move. Instead, you want them to make a commitment and then assume you will follow through? How, sir, did you get elected? You were on the House floor just the other day. If you stand so ready to commit– then why didn’t you do it then?

Richards also said,

“… would not be feasible to build without securing enormous federal incentives that the U.S. Senate has decisively rejected…”

I guess it doesn’t matter to Jody Richards that, according the Lexington Herald-Leader,

“… Peabody said the company’s decision where to build the plant does not depend on federal incentives.”

Richards also blasted the Governor by saying that,

“… I was shocked to see that the energy issue had been relegated to a mere two inches of a five page proclamation call.”

Didn’t Fletcher say, according to Louisville Courier-Journal, that,

“If there are items you feel are political and not good policy for the commonwealth, please let me know what they are, and I will discuss the elimination of those from the call”

Speaker Richards, maybe Bowling Green doesn’t need any economic development. And I applaud that wonderful city for that. Over here in Appalachia, in Breathitt County, we’d kinda like to have a coal-to-liquid-fuel facility. We could use the jobs. I’d certainly rather have those jobs here than a bunch of casinos.

But what do I know. I’m no politician, just a person with some common sense.

The fairness of the Fairness Doctrine

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Hmmm….. Well, that pretty much sums it up for me. You know, that little part that says, ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …’ Oh, that’s just a little quote from the very first amendment of the US Constitution in case anyone was curious. You know, just the single most important document in our country’s history. Nothing to get all riled up about or anything…

Of course, Dennis Kucinich, et al of the crazed left wing conspiracy (it’s not vast, just crazy) thinks that the federal government should have a law regarding this doctrine of fairness. Why, you ask? It appears that it has something to do with the fact that most talk radio is conservative. I guess it’s very nice that our country has nothing else to worry about except that Rush is popular on the airwaves. I guess the Democratic Congress has that whole terrorism thing licked. And immigration isn’t at all important. Social Security– pooey! We now know that it isn’t in trouble! Not for at least another eight or so years, anyway. Why, there will certainly be someone else to blame by that time.

And, of course the economy is doing quite nicely, thank you, in spite of what most members of the crazed left wing conspiracy would have you believe.

So, what’s the problem, you ask?

First of all, let’s make this clear: the Fairness Doctrine is not– repeat– is not the Equal-time rule. Now that that’s resolved, I’ll point you in the direction of a couple articles to give you a history of this whole thing. First, I suggest reading ‘The Fairness Doctrine – How we lost it, and why we need it back’ by Steve Rendall, available here. Next, read an opposing viewpoint by Adam Thierer named ‘Why the Fairness Doctrine is Anything But Fair’. That can be read here.

I will admit that intelligent, honest people can disagree about this (and most other things, too). I’m sure not everyone wanting this reinstated is crying themselves to sleep at night because Sean Hannity is popular on radio. But if we actually put this into context it becomes very clear (to me) that the Fairness Doctrine is not that which it purports to be: fair.

Why? In the case that most of these crazed left wing conspirators like to point to, Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969) the only reason that the doctrine was upheld was that the limited frequencies are regulated and licenses distributed by the federal government. Similar cases involving newspapers had been considered unconstitutional. So, we can gather that:

Fundamentally, it is against the concept of free speech to institute a fairness doctrine. But, considering the fact that there is limited frequencies, it is in the public interest to allow it.

Not bad. I can see the point. It’s a little like saying you can have free speech but you can’t yell, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater. If the debate stopped there with the Supreme Court (as it pretty much does in Rendall’s article) then fine. But, guess what? It doesn’t.

In 1974, Chief Justice Berger wrote for a unanimous court that “government-enforced right of access inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate” (Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (418 U.S. 241)). Interesting, no?

And then in 1984, in the ruling regarding the case of FCC v. League of Women Voters, 468 U.S. 364 Justice Brennan commented in his majority ruling that the Court would have to reconsider the Fairness Doctrine if it had “the net effect of reducing rather than enhancing speech.”

What changed between 1969 and 1984? Oh, I duuno, maybe…. maybe… maybe the number of broadcasters and media outlets?!?!?! Would this not have the effect of nullifying the Fairness Doctrine? Isn’t the fact that there were (and are) so many media outlets a glowing recommendation for this whole ‘free market’ thing?

The FCC in 1987 finally put the nails in the Fairness Doctrine’s coffin by stating, “the intrusion by government … restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters … inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists.”

Just because something was done a long time ago, or maybe even was perhaps the right thing to do at the time, does not mean that it should be brought back to life just so Al Franken can have his old job back.

Is free speech really so evil, Rep. Kucinich and Sen. Dorgan? Are you guys really prepared to lead us down that slippery slope leading to Big Brother? It’s bad enough that the Republicans want sanitize what we see on TV. If the Dems want to censor everything too then what chance to do we have of keeping our country free?

And, um, guys, you gonna apply that to websites as well? Does that mean we might get some common sense views on MoveOn?

Capturing the truth, and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth…

Let me first say this: it appears that the guy has his heart in the right place. I mean, I dunno, but I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt. That’s what we hillbilly hicks in Eastern Kentucky do, find something nice to say. And, you know, Shelby Lee Adams probably thinks that his photos are gutsy, breathtaking images of captured moments of poverty and ignorance. And I must say that I agree with him. Sort of.

Let’s consider for a moment the recent article in the Courier-Journal newspaper (link here) about Mr. Adams. He comes down from Boston during the summer to capture images of the poverty, incest, abuse, etc, etc, etc of the Appalachian country he lived in as a child. From reading this article, and reviewing the photo gallery on the same site, here are three direct quotes from Shelby Lee Adams:

“I choose not to ignore what I see as authentic.”

“I make intimate, personal, environmental portraits.”

“There’s a need to put everything out into the light, including incest, stereotypes, vicious abuse.”

Such noble and worthy quotes are these indeed! Why, Mr. Adams, as a photographer, does not ignore authenticity. I respect that greatly. And, to put everything out into the light. Oh my, yes! Based on these quotes, I would think it safe to assume the following:

Shelby Lee Adams takes pictures of Appalachian life in an all-encompassing fashion and captures the real way real people live.

Unfortunately, my assumption, based on his quotes, is dead wrong. Oh, sure, his pictures capture real people living real lives. It’s the all-encompassing part (the everything in his quote) that proves my assuption wrong.

How do I know this? Well, I was raised in Breathitt County, Kentucky. After graduating from an Eastern Kentucky college (Morehead State) my wife and I moved to Atlanta; it was graduate school for her and software development work for me. After nine years or so of the deep south, we decided to move back home. I now have lived in Breathitt County, Kentucky for last two years. Many of Mr. Adams photos are taken of real people living in Breathitt County.

I live 10 miles from Jackson, the county seat. I drive to my office in Jackson every morning to work. I own a software company (with actual employees, computers and everything) that does some pretty high-tech stuff. You know how many of those shanty houses and half-naked little boys running around with snakes wrapped around their shoulders I see every morning?

None.

Zero.

Nada.

Zilch.

By the way, see his pictures to see what I mean about the whole snake thing, etc. It’s really rather pitiful that he, for some reason, feels the need and desire to find the very things that perpetuate the stereotype of Appalachia and then grab his camera. I guess those college campuses in Jackson aren’t authentic. Maybe they are just facades that we put up every time an out-of-towner comes along, then put ‘em back up in the shed (where we keep our snakes and broken motorcycles) when they leave town. Damn, the secrets out!

I guess those Mercedes SLK’s and Harley Softtail’s zipping around aren’t authentic either. Folks canoing down the North Fork river by by house and peacefully fishing after work… I guess also aren’t authentic. When I read my kids a bedtime story and tell them that daddy loves them– well, those sorts of things just must not be authentic.

Either that, or Mr. Adams could give a damn about actually capturing everything.

Are there poverty problems in Appalachia? Hell yes. Is there incest? Yea, I guess there probably is some, I dunno. Probably is in New York, too. Maybe even Boston. Do little boys run around with snakes wrapped around their necks? Evidently. My boy doesn’t. Is there something just not right, perhaps even fallacious, about Mr. Adams’ work? It most certainly appears so.

It sickens me that, even at this point in history, so-called ‘learned’ people still want to come down and take pictures of the poor hillbillies living in run-down shacks. Folks, the whole Hatfield-McCoy thing was a long time ago. It’s also been many moons since the Blue Fugates.

Mr. Adams’ pictures are authentic. The people and things depicted in his photographs are part of the Eastern Kentucky culture, to be sure.

But, my goodness, what the hell is so wrong with the whole, un-sensationalized truth?