Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Planned Parenthood Study: Abortion numbers down during Bush Administration

Poor Howard Dean. Every time he goes on the record, he gets caught in a lie. During his May 22nd appearance on "Meet the Press," Dean alleged that abortions had increased 25% under President Bush. Today, Planned Parenthood - not exactly friends of Bush or Rove - releases a study that shows that abortion numbers have decreased under President Bush.

It almost isn't fair that Dean is the Democrats' leader. You almost feel sorry for them.



U.S. Supreme Court upholds RLUIPA

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision today in Cutter v. Wilkinson, a case that deals with the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (affectionately known as "RLUIPA" in ConLaw circles). The Sixth Circuit (which includes Tennessee) had declared Section 3 of RLUIPA unconstitutional on the grounds that Congress did not have the power to single out religious exercise for accommodation. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Ginsburg, reversed the Sixth Circuit's radical approach to constitutional law. For more on this case, check out SCOTUSblog (an excellent analysis), Ex Post, and The Pew Forum.


Star Wars III and Tennessee

In a rare incidence of conformity, I finally got around to seeing George Lucas' final Star Wars film, and it was a decent effort. The writing was definitely poor, and some parts were just plain cheesy (Darth Vader's "NOOOOOOO!" after he takes his first steps in his new semi-mechanical body was almost bad parody). However, I have to rate this as the best Star Wars film since "The Empire Strikes Back." Yes, the oration was a train wreck, but the film held my attention and proved to be interesting. Still, it wasn't the best film I have seen this year at the theatre, behind "Sin City" and "Phantom of the Opera." (FYI: I received a good report last night on "The Longest Yard" from my old classmate Ryan Holloway. That is contrary to ESPN The Magazine's Bill Simmons, who hated it.)

Throughout the film, several things struck me as being similar to Tennessee politics (which probably suggests that I need to get out more and think less about politics). First, there was a powerful politician who turned out to be a Sith Lord, secretly plotting to bring down the institution of which he was a member in his pursuit of power.

That sounds eerily similar to several current Tennessee politicians who, over the past couple of weeks, have made statements that show abuse of power, the thirst for dictatorship, alignment with many whom would be political enemies, and disregard for the rule of law, such as those below:

Second, and most importantly, the manner in which Anaken was turned from the Jedi, who were intent on doing selfless acts in order to fulfill their duties, to the Sith, who only desired personal power and were willing to compromise everything and everyone for their goal, struck a chord. In particular, I was reminded of a story of one young Knoxville professional. This particular person is not a politician or political insider and ordinarily would care less who wins the 2006 Senate race, but he has already given a chunk of money to Bob Corker's campaign because, much like Anaken, he believes that Corker, the Haslam's, and their ilk will personally bestow benefits upon him if Corker were to win. It doesn't matter what Corker's ideology is - in fact, it doesn't appear that this particular person even knows that Corker has a history of raising taxes or that he regurgitates Planned Parenthood's talking points when asked about abortion. However, he sees what Corker and Haslam could do for him if they win, and that is all that matters.

Although it's probably not a nice thing to say, this type of behavior is like the Sith in the Star Wars movies. It's cold, calculating, and only aimed at personal benefit. It's not ideologically driven or issue based. It's based on greed, and it's the depressing side of politics, the side that makes me (and, I suspect, most Americans) ill.

I can respect people on the other side; as I have said on this site before, a few of my good friends are Democrats or support other candidates. The reason that I can respect them, though, is that they are fighting for what they believe, in many cases resulting in hardships and sacrifice. I can respect that. However, I can't respect someone who plays the game only for himself. Perhaps that makes me a weakened politician. Perhaps that makes me naive. One thing is for certain - I will cling fast to my principles. I will not - like Anaken and other real people here in Tennessee - turn to the Dark Side to help my own cause. I certainly hope that most of you will do the same.


Roundtable: Tennessee GOP Senate field down to 3?

Blogging for Bryant has posted that Teddy Bart's Roundtable has leaked that one of the GOP Senate possibilities will be bowing out by the end of the week.

B4B predicts that it is Beth Harwell, which I suspect is correct. There are a few questions, though. The first question is: who benefits the most? My answer is that I believe Ed Bryant benefits the most, followed by Van Hilleary. Ed receives a duel benefit - one less candidate to compete for funding in one of his stronger fundraising areas (Belle Meade), plus he can pull votes out of the Nashville suburbs. Van can also tap into some of the votes that Beth would have pulled, but - call it a hunch - I don't see a monetary benefit for Van following Beth's predicted removal from the race. The big loser is obviously Bob Corker. He doesn't need to worry about campaign funding, and having one less conservative in the race to divide the conservative electorate only makes the moderate-liberal Corker more exposed. If the conservatives unify behind one candidate, then Corker's campaign is toast.

The second question is: will Beth Harwell run for governor? I have previously posted that it was in her best interests to switch to the governor's race and clear the field before several second-tier candidates (not necessarily second-tier in my book, but certainly so in the all-important name-recognition category) flooded the primary ballot. I suspect that Beth will jump into the race for the Governor's Mansion, and such a move will lock Hilleary into the Senate race (and, thus, seal his fate). It should be an interesting week...


McCain as an Independent?

Mickey Kaus is of the opinion that John McCain is laying the groundwork for a run at the presidency as an Independent. Glenn Reynolds isn't buying it.

It's interesting that Mickey and Professor Reynolds are talking about this, because I have been thinking about this possibility over the past week. My best friend, who is a misguided Democrat corrupted by generations of Democrat mind control and a liberal arts education and apparently wants his son to live in a socialist state, was in KnoxVegas this past Tuesday and announced to me that he is offering his services to McCain - if McCain runs as an Independent. His extended family is already foaming at the mouth over the possibility of the Hildebeast capturing the Democratic nomination (of course, I am, too, but for different reasons), but my friend doesn't feel that he could ever support another Clinton. Why does he like McCain? I'm not sure, but maybe he likes being lied to. It was McCain's double-talk and day-to-day lying in 2000 that turned me off of his failed campaign. Maybe some people like sort of thing.

Writing of the Hildebeast, The Washington Post had a book excerpt that, depending on how you read it, will either make conservatives laugh hysterically or lose their breakfast. My favorite parts were where the author talked about Hillary playing to the conservatives, like Dick Morris, who is described as "mostly Republican." DICK MORRIS? Are you kidding? Morris is talented in analyzing the liberals, but he is confounded by conservatives. If one needed any more evidence as to his status as a non-Republican, that would be it. Also of interest is Bill Clinton's reaction to negative poll numbers indicating that he could be the downfall of Hillary with women due to Clinton's adultery. He didn't take it personally or show remorse. He only took the next political move to minimize the damage. Master politician? Surely. Human? Probably not.

MORE: John Walter at Tennessee Rants also envisions the same scenario as Mickey Kaus, but instead sees McCain crossing over to the Dark Side - ur, the Democratic Party. I can't see this, because McCain had the perfect opportunity to do this with Kerry and didn't (don't believe Kerry's denial - the offer was made on multiple occasions). Besides, the Independent "primary" would be a lot easier than taking on the Hildebeast and her liberal base on their home turf for the Democratic nomination.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Memorial Day

I have been thinking about what to write for my Memorial Day post for most of the weekend. As I was sitting in church Sunday morning, I read an insert in the church bulletin, and it became clear that the words written there were timely. They are reproduced below.

The Meaning of Memorial Day

Over the years the meaning of Memorial Day has faded too much from the public consciousness. From a solemn day of mourning, remembrance, and honor to our departed loved ones, it has degenerated into a weekend of BBQs, shopping bargains and beaches where only token nods toward our honored dead are given, if at all. Too many don't know what the day stands for.

Memorial Day used to be a sacred day that was reserved for the remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes often times ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were then given. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those that fell in service to their country.

Wonderful people in other nations sometimes show more of the true spirit and mission of the U.S. Memorial Day than we do here. For example, a 2001 U.S. Memorial Day Guest Book entry from a citizen of the Netherlands states:

"In 1999, I laid flowers at the grace of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools 'adopting' graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition. Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools?"

It is human nature to avoid the unpleasant. But we need to remember the cost of war, we need to remember the price paid for our freedom, and we need to not let those who died having died forgotten and in vain.

When Congress made Memorial Day into a three day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90-363), it made it all the easier for us to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day.

We need to teach our children the day's meaning. Show others by our actions that we will not forget. You don't have to believe in war to honor our family, friends, and neighbors who died in service to their country.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day. Please remember that many have given the ultimate sacrifice so that it could be such.

Friday, May 27, 2005


A victory for the Commonwealth of Kentucky

The Franklin Circuit Court today ruled that the amendment to the Kentucky Constitution defining marriage as between citizens of the opposite sex was procedurally valid. The plaintiffs brought the suit against Kentucky on the grounds that the question as put to the voters in 2004 was vague and addressed more than one issue - arguments that the court did not accept. You can read the opinion here. Incidentally, Kent Ostrander, the executive director of The Family Foundation of Kentucky, was an intervener in the case. I worked under Kent with The Family Foundation as part of The Blackstone Fellowship during the summer following my first year of law school. If any readers in Kentucky are interested in supporting a fantastic organization that produces results far exceeding its funding, I encourage you to look at The Family Foundation.

Given their failure to kill the gay marriage amendments after the state constitutions have been amended, it's no wonder that the Tennessee ACLU is trying to deny the voters of Tennessee a say on the issue. This is a shrewd legal maneuver, as Glenn Reynolds (through Bill Hobbs and Roger Abramson) pointed out, due to prior Tennessee Supreme Court holdings.


Coffee County Recap

Blogging for Bryant recounts all of the goings on at the Coffee County GOP event last night. Ed sounded strong, Van had the unenviable task of following Ed, and Corker sounded like he had better places to be (much like at Washington County's Lincoln Day Dinner).


Lt. Governor John Wilder shows he is lacking moral fiber

Wilder made these comments from the well of the Tennessee Senate today regarding four legislators that were caught red-handed accepting bribes through a two-year FBI sting:

"Money was being offered as bait to put somebody in jail... Three members of our family are in hell. Why? Because they're legislators."

No, John, they're not in hell. They were rightfully in jail, where criminals belong. And they're not there because they are legislators. They are there because their votes were being bought, because their greed overpowered their sense of duty, because they were being disloyal to the their constituents, and because they sought to corrupt the government of the Great State of Tennessee.

If you can't see that, Mr. Wilder, then you are either as corrupt as the indicted or have lost control of your faculties.

MORE: Knoxville Representative Joe Armstrong sounds like he feels fortunate not to have gotten snagged by the FBI in "Tennessee Waltz." Of course, if you are clean and do your legislative duties with honor, you don't have to worry about being arrested. Also of notice - Armstrong co-sponsored HB37 (the bill that has caused all of the indictments) without even familiarizing himself with the legislation?!?! The story doesn't even address whether Armstrong even read the bill. Yep, Joe, you're doing those of us in District 15 proud...

UPDATE: At least one of John Ford's bribes was caught on tape and played during his bond hearing this morning. This does not surprise me, as quotes of Ford in the indictments read as if they were transcribed from either audio or video tape. Neither am I surprised that the FBI confiscated two loaded handguns from Ford's office in Memphis.

EVEN MORE: Matt White has an excellent piece that puts the "Tennessee Waltz" into perspective. In regards to new ethics reforms, Matt writes:

"A new law would not have prevented this from happening. Bribery, extortion and public corruption are already illegal. The penalties for these crimes are stiff and some will pay those penalties. Bad people will do bad things, regardless of the law. Yesterday, we saw proof that while our system is made up of flawed people, the system worked."

Read the whole thing.

CAN YOU HANDLE MORE: Bill Hobbs and Matt White have much more to say about Wilder's irrational remarks. I have to agree with Matt in that it appears that Wilder is living in an alternate cosmos.


Ask and the British will deliver

Yesterday, I wondered when the anti-sword movement would organize, working to regulate swords like they try to regulate firearms. Now comes this report from the BBC. It seems that the British are trying to reach a level even more absurd.

Of course, if the victims could have armed themselves...

Courtesy of NRA-ILA's "Armed Citizen":

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., 7/20/00
State: Florida
American Rifleman Issue: 11/1/2000

According to police, a Daytona Beach, Fla., convenience store owner was behind his counter when Darrance Solomon Adams walked inside and demanded money shouting, "Give it up! Give it up!" The owner quickly locked the cash drawer then fumbled with the buttons in an attempt to convince Adams he couldn't open it. When a customer fled the scene, Adams became even more nervous and lunged at his prey with a serrated kitchen knife. The owner quelled the threat with several shots from a 9 mm Luger handgun. Two proved fatal to Adams who had served time for assault and drug possession.

The News, Tuscaloosa, AL, 6/15/89
State: Alabama
American Rifleman Issue: 9/1/1989

A man armed with a large kitchen knife began banging on the counter of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., convenience store and demanding money, but the clerk thought he was kidding and did nothing. The robber said he was serious, and at that point one of the store patrons asked another, "You got your gun?" When the other replied in the affirmative, the knife-wielding man fled empty-handed.

MORE: Filipino journalists have discovered the message that the British have missed (tip of the cap to SayUncle). As the leader of the self-defending journalists said:

"When you are pushed against the wall and somebody is firing at you and you cannot escape, you should fire back.”

That's true, but it helps to have a firearm with which to return fire.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Is Frist about to face another mutiny?

This time, the issue of stem cells might cause RINO Specter to bypass Frist, who is against the bill. Senator Brownback, a public supporter of Ed Bryant's Senate campaign, is trying to gather enough votes for a procedural "filibuster," but it looks like the conservatives might be hurting for numbers. President Bush has promised a veto, so the overall question might not be if it passes but by how much. Of course, the acute problem may be that McCain's folly might have hurt Frist's political capital, emblazoning such closet Democrats as Specter to push the envelope.

MORE: Peggy Noonan's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal is just another reflection of the Right's contempt - not just professionally, but personally - at McCain's brood. I take it that Peggy won't be watching this next Monday night.


Coffee County Battle Royal

I know that I posted this quite a while ago, but the GOP event in Coffee County this evening is well worth attending. Blogging for Bryant is going to be there, and I (alas) will have to rely on his reports from the event, which is scheduled to feature all four GOP candidates for the 2006 Senate race.


Tennessee Waltz

When the FBI spends two years on a sting of Tennessee legislative crooks (codenamed "Tennessee Waltz"), they are going to catch a few greedy traitors of democracy in their trap. That's just what happened today, as 4 legislators, a former state senator, and two "bag men" were indicted on charges of bribery and extortion under the federal Hobbs Act. Blogging for Bryant and Half-Bakered have the incredible blow-by-blow, and Bill Hobbs has linked the actual indictments, which are fascinating to say the least. Brittney at Nashville is Talking saw the same headline from the indictments that I did - Senator John Ford threatening to murder anyone who would dare set him up! The other indictments are good reading, but Ford's is absolutely astonishing!

I had taken my little nephew to Dollywood for a little R&R when I received a call saying that the indicted had been taken away in handcuffs from Capitol Hill. I had heard rumblings that this would be going down soon - possibly this week - in relation to Ford. I assumed that Kathryn Bowers and Ulysses Jones were involved, but Chris Newton's arrest was unexpected, as all I had heard was that he was a witness against Ford's dealings with Doral Dental.

I wonder if Harold Ford, Jr., wishes he had been a bit stronger than sticking with his crooked family yesterday when he said:

"If my uncle has done something wrong, I'm sure they will find out and do something about it. But I'm not going to trash my family to get to the U.S. Senate." (From today's Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Junior didn't throw his uncle under the bus. Now Junior and his uncle get thrown under the bus. This shows that Junior was either a) ignorant of the pending indictments or b) the recipient of poor political advice. If he knew about the indictments, he had to know that someone was going to be thrown under the bus. His handlers should have made sure that he was completely disconnected from his uncle to avoid the treadmarks.

Stay tuned for more on this story, because it's just heating up. Lots of rumors swirling that lead me to believe that the arrests are not over.


Something else for Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore to want banned

A teenager in Murfreesboro allegedly decided to off his stepfather Wednesday. His weapon of choice? A sword. I suppose that groups are currently organizing in Tennessee to demand waiting periods for sword-buying, lobbying Congress to increase taxes on swords, and generally looking to ban certain swords from the streets because of their appearance. That's the kind of movement that O'Donnell and Moore could get behind.

In all seriousness, I ran across several stories just like this last year. They seem to make pretty good weapons and aren't very expensive, although I don't think I would want to take a sword to a gun fight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Harold Ford, Jr. enters 2006 Senate race

It's about friggin' time, Jr. (Thanks to B4B for the link.)

UPDATE: Bob Davis, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman, had this to say about Ford's entrance into the race:

""Congressman Ford has no idea of how to run a campaign on this level. A House district in Memphis is one thing; running statewide is a total different ballgame. Once his abysmal record is exposed to Tennessee families he becomes a non-starter. Where do you begin? He’s wrong on taxes, wrong on defense, supports gay marriage, and is pro-choice. Ford sounds like another non-starter named John Kerry. Every legitimate statewide poll I’ve seen has Ford’s unfavorables as high as his favorables – bad statistics for someone entering the game. Welcome to the big leagues, Congressman Ford."

Davis is right. Campaigning on Beale Street isn't the same as campaigning in Surgoinsville.


The Aftermath

I have taken a lot of heat because of my comments yesterday. Today, I still stand behind them. Just to be clear, though, I will try to clarify a few things.

First, Josh Trevino has commented that I missed the point of his post on RedState. Well, judging by the myriad of comments from angry readers that he has received, Trevino may want to use caution next time he writes, because apparently I wasn't the only one who missed the point. Unfortunately, Trevino didn't elaborate as to what he was meaning to write, so I will take him at his original post, which, after a re-read, belittles American conservatives.

Second, Matt White and Blogging for Bryant both came out with strong defenses of Senator Frist yesterday evening. Although Bill Hobbs was the only blogger mentioned by name as a subject of the retort, I suspect that I, too, was a target of the posts but was not named because JB and Matt are good guys and knew that I would get the message by being referred to as one of the "conservative bloggers." In any case, I disagree with how this all plays out - particularly with Frist's chances in 2008. I posted several weeks ago that Frist had to change the Senate Rule prior to a Supreme Court nominee reaching the Committee on the Judiciary to even have a chance at winning the GOP nomination in 2008. However, even then, I thought Bill was a longshot.

To be clear, I'm not sure exactly how Frist could have put down this mutiny, but that is more because I am now here in Knoxville and not in Dirksen Senate Office Building advising him. I imagine that Bill could have threatened a committee reorganization or a reprioritization of legislation close to the 7 Benedict Arnolds' hearts in exchange for loyalty, but that is pure speculation. The bottom line, though, is that a mutiny did occur outside of the chain of command, and this - rightly or wrongly - reflects upon the leader. It shows that a group of legislators outside of the leadership have so little respect for the leadership that they don't feel vulnerable in publicly humiliating the leader. (Blame McCain all you want, but he couldn't do this alone.) This lack of respect is troubling.

Bill Frist has done an incredible job over the past few years, rising quickly from junior senator to the Senate Majority Leader. In the interests of full disclosure, Bill and I had a falling out in 2001 over his position on stem cell research. It resulted in me saying things to him that were disrespectful, loud, and shameful. That hurt our ties for over a year, but I have since apologized, and I still consider Bill and his fantastic staff as political allies. He has been a great resource for Tennessee.

So, responding directly -

However, unless something changes, I doubt I will be joining JB, Matt, Waterboy, and the other Tennesseans in snowy New Hampshire in early 2008. I would be proud to call Bill Frist my President, if he turned out to be the 2008 GOP nominee. Nonetheless, no matter how much I like Bill and his staffers, I'm not sure if he's a good fit as the leader of the Executive Branch. I certainly like Bill, but I don't know if an outcome that results in him moving into the White House is necessarily the best thing for him (just as it wouldn't be the best thing for Jeb Bush). Assuming today that they all are running (and that is a big assumption with a few names), the list of potential candidates for whom I would be freezing my tookis for in New Hampshire goes as follows:

1) George Allen
2) Tom Tancredo
3) Bill Frist
4) Bill Owens
5) Haley Barbour
6) Sam Brownback
7) Rick Santorum

Now it's early, so that list changes slightly from week-to-week (although Allen has been at the top for quite a while now). This filibuster debacle hasn't altered those rankings one iota, either, although I'm convinced that my feelings are in the minority amongst the electorate.

I hope this clears up where I stand. I don't blame Frist, but the buck in the Senate stops at the Majority Leader's door (well, at least at one of them, since there are several doors to Frist's many offices). He will bear some of the brunt of the fallout (although I suspect that McCain will end up the big loser in this whole episode if, as I suspect, Bush's Supreme Court nominees are filibustered). However, I still like Bill, I feel badly for his unfortunate position in all of this, and he still bears the label as a "conservative," which is about as high a compliment as I can give anyone in D.C. right now.

MORE: Mark Rose provides more editorial comment (and more links) with reaction to the mutiny. My favorite line:

"Right Minded summarizes it this way: Never has one political party (the GOP) accomplished so little with so much. Never has one political party (the Democrats) found itself so devoid of ideas, so lacking in moral clarity, and so unappealing at the ballot box, while accomplishing so much."

Amen. Things need to change in a hurry. Because of the composition of the races in 2006, the GOP doesn't have much to lose in the mid-term elections. However, 2008 is quite another matter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Filibuster Flop - Republicans back in the minority

Everyone in the Blogosphere and MSM has weighed in on the deal to save the judicial filibuster, and I have been patiently waiting to put my two-cents in because I was irate upon hearing the news late yesterday. That anger has naturally evolved into inspection, which then changed to depression (more on that later).

Blogging for Bryant has sufficiently rounded up all of the usual suspects and their opinions on the filibuster, including those who blame Frist (Bill Hobbs, Glen Dean, Slublog, Mitch Berg, Tennessee Rants), those who are depressed but trying to see some good in the surrender (Fishkite, PoliPundit, Blue State Conservatives), those who are extremely disappointed on defections to the dark side (Matt White , Thomas Ravenel, Lance Frizzell on Lindsey Graham, Hugh Hewitt on Graham, DeWine, and McCain, Save the GOP on McCain), and those who see Republicans and conservatives as the big losers (Mark Rose, Hugh Hewitt again, Power Line, The Baltimore Sun, Right Wing News, TeamGOP, Lifelike Pundits, Physics Geek, John Brown).

However, probably the most telling - and most damnable - reaction comes from Josh Trevino at RedState. He sees this is a great tool for the GOP to keep conservatives in their place, with that place being lock-step with the party that cares little for issues important to conservatives. Unfortunately, folks, there are many at RNC headquarters today that are also happy about this result for the same reasons as Trevino. Types like Trevino are the reason that I have divorced my allegiance to the Republican party and instead adhere to the conservative values of Ronald Reagan. And I'm not the only one. As the GOP continues to veer left, conservatives are buying their time, waiting for the viable option to occur that cripples the GOP that has used us as slave labor during campaign season but treats us like slaves at all other times. But this is a topic for another day.

So what do I think of the deal? As many other conservatives have put it, we have seen victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. In effect, Republicans have become the minority party. Add those 7 Benedict Arnolds to the 44 Democrats and one spineless Independent in the Senate, and the Democrats rule the roost on the judiciary - just as it has been for the past 75 years. The fallout? Well -

It's funny after the last election how the disappointed mainstream media was willing to write off the next four years as conservative victories. Heck, I almost bought into it. Can someone point to one positive reason why I should be happy since last November?

UPDATE: Frist's first statement on the Senate floor post-mutiny says that I am wrong, that the "nuclear option" will be used as the stick to keep the Democrats in line. I doubt it. Perhaps this is Frist's attempt to look like a leader when it is clear that he has been besmirched.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Supreme Court agrees to hear parental notification case

OK, this certainly isn't breaking news, as everyone has either reported this morning's surprise granting of certiorari (like CNN) in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood or commented upon it (see John Walter and Talk Left for examples). However, no one seems to have had the same reaction I had when I heard the news on talk radio:

Did the Supreme Court just weigh in on the filibuster issue?

I have little hope that this Court would suddenly see the error of its previous ways and uphold New Hampshire's parental notification law that adds a slight requirement for abortions sought by minors. However, I have to feel that the "non-political justices" might have sent a reminder to the Senate chambers as to what they are fighting for over the next few days. Think of it as justices who can't speak about political issues expressing their views through other means.

Just my honest initial reaction.


"Star Wars III" makes history during 1st weekend

Tony Kornheiser, renowned sports columnist for the Washington Post and host of ESPN's "Pardon the interruption," boldly predicted last Friday that the new "Star Wars" flick would take in over $150 million in its first four days. I thought that was a little outlandish, but it turns out that Kornheiser was right. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Lucas' film took in $158.5 million during the first four days of its run, besting the record set by the second "Matrix" movie. I guess it just goes to show that there are more people like this in the world than I thought.

I haven't seen the film yet (simply too busy), but my friends who have seen it - from "Star Wars" uberfan Ben Lawson to my sixtysomething Sunday School teacher David Hershberger - give it high marks.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Enjoy the weekend!

Since I have a full slate this weekend (divided between family fun, a Sunday school picnic, and perhaps another UT DiamondVols game), blogging will be on the light side. I might be able to post in the evenings, but no promises. A few notes before the weekend begins in full:

1) Nashville-area alert - The Davidson County Young Republicans Family Picnic will be taking place TODAY at noon (Central Time) at the Cook Recreation Area at Percy Priest Lake. I'd post more if I knew more, but it sounds like a fun time.

2) Sevier County alert - The Sevier County Lincoln Day Dinner will take place tonight at the Mainstay Suites in Pigeon Forge. A reception is slated for 6:00 with dinner at 7:00 (like those times matter - I've never attended a Lincoln Day Dinner that started on time). I would be there, but I have a prior family commitment in Boones Creek (near Johnson City, for those not familiar with the Tri-Cities).

3) Georgiana Vines has a column in today's Knoxville News-Sentinel that can only be described as "mailing it in." And members of the mainstream media wonder why more people are turning to blogs for political coverage...

4) My father has informed me that he has a week open (June 4-11) at his condo in Hilton Head that he would be willing to deeply discount for any of my readers. Just be sure to mention this website when you call him. My wife and I spent our vacation there in April (our first vacation in over two years), and there is no place we would rather go.

5) Tonight is another racing fan's delight. First, the Preakness occurs in Baltimore (coverage to start at 5 P.M.). Second, NASCAR holds its annual All-Star race in Charlotte, where my wife's favorite, Ryan Newman, is on the pole. If anyone needs me during those races, don't call. Please.

Friday, May 20, 2005


The Right to Hunt and Fish

A state constitutional amendment has been working its way through the Tennessee General Assembly that would recognize hunting and fishing as constitutionally-protected rights. Several state legislatures, including those in Wisconsin, Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia, have passed similar constitutional amendments that protect hunting and fishing, while some states such as California, Rhode Island, and Vermont have had such a constitutional right for generations. The amendment is scheduled to hit the Senate floor early next week, so, of course, The Tennessean has to come out against it. Why? Well, besides drawing strong support from the NRA, the amendment severely limits the regulatory power of the state to constrict or eliminate hunting and fishing activities within its borders. Basically, it provides greater liberty to Tennesseans, so, therefore, the liberals in the state government (Attorney General Paul Summers, in particular) and the media are uncomfortable. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission is also in a libertarian sort of mood, approving the open use of crossbows during the 2005 deer season.

However, the Tennessee liberals aren't organizing a march or protesting on Capitol Hill regarding either the amendment or the TWRC ruling. Why? Well, it could be that they know they are outnumbered on this issue in Tennessee, and they know it. Al Gore was anti-hunter, and we all know where that got him. Phil Bredesen knew of Gore's troubles, which is why he reinvented himself to be a friend of the hunter in order to fool the public. Even John Kerry knew, although his oratory about hunting deer ("playing the wind...crawling on my belly") revealed his fraud. So, while The Tennessean's editorial ran, it could be worse. Just look at what is going on in D.C., where the citizens of the nation's capital have no Second Amendment rights. Matt at Stop the Bleating! points to some unfortunate comments by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. And Ms. Norton wonders why the Congress won't allow her a vote...


And so it begins...

The cable news outlets are reporting that Frist will seek cloture within a few hours. Then the Senate debate will really heat up, as next Tuesday will be scheduled for the final battle over obstructionism. Along those lines, the Christian Legal Society has sent the names of their three top choices for a Supreme Court nomination to the White House. My top three?

1) J. Michael Luttig
2) Samuel Alito
3) Michael McConnell

Luttig's been my top choice for a few years now. It's close between the judge known as "ScAlito" (for his witty, Scalia-like opinions and dissents) and McConnell. Any of those three would be excellent choices and would continue to fight against the dark powers of "Darth" Bader Ginsburg and the other liberal justices.

UPDATE: As predicted, the Owen vote is set for Tuesday.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


A Summit for GOP Victory in 2006

I have to admit that I was a little down yesterday. The reason? I had watched "Hannity & Colmes" at 2 A.M., and the first guest was Pat Buchanan. Buchanan is much like Dick Morris to me - sometimes wacky, but at other times capable of great observations that bear considerable thought. Buchanan, on this night, was both at times, but more the latter than the former. (I apologize for not providing a transcript, but FoxNews.com doesn't have one up.)

Buchanan is predicting a fracture of the GOP between the elections in 2006 and 2008 because he doesn't believe that the factions in the "big tent" won't be able to overlook their differences. The reason why this rang true with me was because of what we are already experiencing in Tennessee, a place many feel is a red-state even if the GOP is the minority party (which, as Lamar Alexander pointed out in his Lincoln Day addresses, is more than likely still the case). With two pivotal races in 2006 for the GOP, there is the possibility that the GOP could lose them both in a state where we shouldn't lose races because of a "perfect storm" of events that could see Bredesen awarded with an undeserved second term in the Governor's Mansion and Harold Ford, Jr., as U.S. Senator. Something has to be done to prevent this.

Yesterday evening, totally by serendipity, I met up with a person at the Tennessee Smokies game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. This person (who shall remain anonymous only because I did not ask him/her if this was a private conversation and I would not want to betray that trust if it was) was close to Van Hilleary in the past and, although not with Van's campaign this time around, will be supporting Van in 2006. We talked at length about the current situation in Tennessee, how we were both torn by how this was playing out, and how we could have fixed the situation. Thus, the Smokies Summit occurred - and a solution was worked out.

This is what has to happen. Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant must forge an alliance, running as a team but in different races. This was the idea behind the Victory 2002 campaign that so many of us took part in throughout Tennessee but just didn't seem to work because the wrong people were in charge of areas too large to canvass. However, because Ed and Van are so ideologically similar and many of us have worked for both over the course of several campaigns, we could make this work. So what's the sticking point? Well, Van needs to claim his rightful place in the Governor's Mansion. Now, we didn't see this as a sticking point because we both know that Van wants to be governor about as bad as Ed wants to be senator. However, this decision is up to Van alone to make. If he were to challenge the vulnerable Bredesen and be elected into his dream job, it could be the dawn of a new age of conservatism in Tennessee unlike any we have ever seen.

Can you imagine the strength this primary campaign would have? Van could be in Fayette County one day, hammering Bredesen and Corker on their support of the income tax. Meanwhile, on the same day, Ed is across the state in Washington County, slamming Bredesen and Corker's tax increases. It's a vision that could get even the most docile conservative ready to campaign with everything he has, and it has to be a scenario that frightens Corker, Bredesen, Ford, and their supporters.

Many people have written regarding whom the GOP might nominate for governor (today, Bill Hobbs pushes Scooter Clippard and Beth Harwell, while John Brown gets behind Corker or Jim Henry). With all due apologies, Clippard and Harwell have to be longshots because they are coming from <1% name recognition, and Corker and Henry can't be too appetising to conservatives (almost to the point where you have to wonder if conservatives will come out in the general election). (I should also note that the other participant in the Smokies Summit thought Scooter's chances to be a bit better than I do.)

An alliance between Van and Ed is the best way to secure a conservative outcome next November. Van, the ball's in your court.


More updates

Updating a few stories that have made the rounds on this site over the past month:

1) Earlier this month, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that would have allowed Vanderbilt University to change the name of Confederate Memorial Hall despite contractual obligations with the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Today, word comes that Dr. Eddie Hamilton, a black 1985 Vanderbilt alum, is offering to contribute $50,000 in an effort to help Vanderbilt buy-out of the contract so that the hall can be renamed. Dr. Hamilton is quoted as saying,

"Anything that makes reference to the Confederacy obviously is a personal affront to anyone of African descent. Our forefathers were enslaved by their forefathers... It is my hope that at least one of my children will choose to attend the school that gave me so much."

Too bad that one of the things Vanderbilt didn't give you, Dr. Hamilton, was an education, particularly in regards to the Civil War, African culture, and motivations and composition of the Confederacy. The story neglects to say what Hamilton is a doctor of, but one can assume that it isn't a PhD in History.

2) Since the national debate has finally turned to the filibuster, it is interesting to finally get the list of the senators involved in the "six and six" proposal, an idea that began to take shape a few days ago. The Washington Post is reporting who the six Republicans and six Democrats are, and there are few surprises. My only comments are: 1) Sheets Byrd is a moderate?!?!; 2) Ken Salazar won his Senate seat in November on the promise to end judicial obstructionism and broke that promise in less than 2 months into a 48-month term, so it is no surprise that he is trying to save face by assisting with McCain's mutiny; and 3) it is amazing how far Senator Lindsey Graham, former manager of the Clinton impeachment while in the House and friend of Van Hilleary, has drifted from the conservative fold. One could bet that Strom Thurmond wouldn't approve of his seat being used in such a way that compromises constitutional principles.

3) In regards to the various bills that are progressing through the Tennessee General Assembly that would end the helmet requirement for motorcycle riders in the state, I promised to find my father's position on the bill, as he is an avid motorcycle rider and fellow conservative. His comments on the bill were in opposition to its passage, as he had two Christian friends in South Carolina (which has no helmet law) that were killed in a motorcycle accident where a helmet could have made all of the difference in the outcome. While recognizing the peripheral limitations that a helmet brings, my father said that the bill wouldn't effect his riding, as he would use a helmet anyway. One point that he made which bears repeating - if the General Assembly doesn't feel that helmet laws are needed, then why not repeal seatbelt laws for automobiles under the same strain of logic? I would love for a legislator supporting the helmet law repeal to answer that one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Various updates

Since enough of my day has been spent flipping between the various hearings and the debates on the floors of the Senate and House (I have enough CSPANs, but I don't have enough TVs or streaming feeds), I thought I might post a few updates on stories since time doesn't permit many in-depth posts today.

1) Governor Bredesen has seemingly responded to my initial post that I highly doubted that he would be writing his own blog posts and that duty would instead fall upon the shoulders of an unfortunate staffer. Bredesen probably wrote this post, because it has a politician's feel to it. He leaves himself a way out of posting that would close down the blog for good if his posts become politically damaging, as well. I doubt that Representative Stacey Campfield feels the same way, especially given his defense of his blog against Representative Ulysses S. Jones from Memphis. With all due apologies to my readers in Memphis, but are there any Memphis politicians that aren't devoid of ethics, integrity, or a clue?

For more on Bredesen's first blog post, see Bill Hobbs.

2) Updating a previous story, The Tennessean has embraced my position against Senator John Ford's forced school volunteerism bill.

3) Watching the filibuster debates today (which the Republicans have managed to keep to the proper subject of Priscilla Owen, while the Democrats talk about everything from gas prices to how much Teddy Integrity loves North Dakota) may be pointless if John McCain hijacks the issue and undermines Bill Frist's authority. This is a decent political move for McCain, because, as I posted a month ago, Frist has to come through this issue as a strong leader in order to have any chance in 2008. By leading a mutiny against Frist and avoiding the "nuclear option," McCain shows leadership (like him or not) and simultaneously eliminates Frist. Of course, if he and his family are secretly supporting RINO Bob Corker, as Adam Groves has written, maybe Frist is intent on eliminating himself. Then again, Frist seems to have no trouble strong-arming Harry Reid, but can he handle a rift with the White House over the timing of the debates?


Corker's liberal connections

Bill Hobbs has a great follow-up on Bob Corker's ties to pro-income tax, pro-Sundquist, and anti-conservative forces. Between Bill and Blogging for Bryant, Geraldo has nothing on Tennessee's blogging "investigative reporters!"

I especially liked Bill's conclusion:

"You can't escape your past, Mr. Corker. We have Google."

Ain't that the truth!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


An Invite from Bob Corker

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail invitation from Tammy White Miller, a nice young woman with whom I had worked on some aspects of the Bush/Cheney campaign last year after we met at a Republican National Committee meeting with National Co-Chair Ann Wagner. Tammy invited me to attend a Young Professionals Fundraiser for Bob Corker later on this week in Knoxville. After reading the "fact sheet" that accompanied Tammy's invitation, I felt I had to respond. What agitated me so? Well, since Bob Corker's campaign website is pacing Van Hilleary's and does not contain any press releases, I will include a snippet of the fact sheet below.

He shares our conservative values and vision. He believes in free markets, low taxes, limited government, balanced budgets, the entrepreneurial spirit, the protection of gun rights, the importance of faith and the power of prayer. He is pro-life and believes that marriage should be protected as the union of a man and a woman. Among the goals he would set as a member of the Senate:
To support our military and to wage and win the war on terror.
To get control of our federal budget by cutting the size of government and reducing federal spending
To make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
To insure that America is the world leader in new technologies and the best place in the world to start a business
To confirm federal judges who will look closely at the Constitution for answers and leave legislating to legislators.

This was begging for a reaction. Below is a copy of my response to Tammy that was CC'd to all of the other invitees.

Dear Tammy,

It is good to hear from you again. Our efforts last year were successful in keeping John Kerry out of the White House, and that is surely something to celebrate until 2008.

I received your invitation to Young Professionals Fundraiser for Bob Corker that will be held in Knoxville. I will not attend this event, because, given the quartet of candidates in the GOP field, Bob Corker would be the last person to receive my support, financial or otherwise. Despite his claims to the contrary, Mr. Corker is not a conservative. I have dedicated a good portion of my life working for conservative campaigns, on Capitol Hill, and with aspects of the National Rifle Association of America, so it is safe to say that I know a conservative when I see one.

Several claims in Mr. Corker's fact sheet, which was enclosed with your invitation, are egregiously erroneous. For instance, Mr. Corker says that he is for "low taxes," but he raised taxes and fees while mayor of Chattanooga (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8/22/01, 2/27/02, 9/12/02) and even made some overtures that favored a state income tax (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 11/9/97). Mr. Corker says that he is for free markets, an "entrepreneurial spirit," and wants "to insure that America is the world leader in new technologies and the best place in the world to start a business," but he made a mess out of Chattanooga's economy, resulting in Forbes magazine ranking Chattanooga in the bottom 20% of cities nationally (#122 overall) as a place to start a business or career. (For reference, other Tennessee cities and their ranks were Knoxville at #17, Nashville at #43, and Memphis at #119.) His record shows that he made Chattanooga the worst major city in Tennessee to start a business. Is that the same plan that he has for America?

Corker has little record regarding Second Amendment protections (unlike any of the other candidates), so it is difficult to prove his claim that he favors "protection of gun rights." Mr. Corker claims that he is pro-life, but his statement regarding abortion rights during his last failed Senate campaign ("I believe that is a decision that each individual needs to make for themselves." - Knoxville News-Sentinel, 7/28/94) sounds like he is receiving his talking points from Planned Parenthood. How would Mr. Corker suggest that we "support our military...and win the war on terror" when he thinks it acceptable for those like him to take advantage of tax loopholes, such as the kind that allowed for him not to pay taxes to the IRS for two years, when it is those taxes that provide for our military's well-being? And the list goes on and on. Bob Corker says that he "will be (a conservative) if you elect me" (The Greeneville Sun, 5/3/05). Sorry, Tammy, but I want a person with solid, tested conservative values, not someone who thinks he knows how to act conservative. When I'm sick, I want a doctor, not someone who plays one on TV.

So, no, I won't be supporting Bob Corker's candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Is there any way that he could ever receive my vote? Yes, but it would depend upon whom he was running against and not how he tries to reinvent himself despite his record. For instance, if he was running against a certain governor who had failed to fulfill his major campaign promises (TennCare and TDOT reform) and is laying the foundation for major tax increases in the coming years, then I might be willing to assist Mr. Corker (assuming that those are the only two candidates in the race and Rosalind Kurita, who is probably more conservative than Mr. Corker, is not the Democratic nominee). However, even then I would be lax to financially support the wealthy Mr. Corker. After all, between his own personal fortune, the Haslam's, the Tolsma's, and their friends, the only thing that Mr. Corker stands to gain by fundraising is draining the financial pool from which the other candidates can drink. That may have been a good strategy early on - to make Mr. Corker the only choice by driving the other candidates out of the race, which is the strategy that has worked with other moderates like Lincoln Chafee and liberals like John Corzine - but it won't work here. Besides, from the filings that Mr. Corker has released, it appears that he is doing just fine raising money -from registered Democrats. Now why would they be supporting a "conservative" GOP candidate? Finally, why would I ever support a candidate that can count Don Sundquist as a donor and that has serious ties to one of the worst governors in my lifetime?

There are too many questions and too much spin surrounding Bob Corker, Tammy. He won't receive my money or my vote, and I'll do everything that I can to make sure that he will not be the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate come next November.


Robert L. Huddleston, III
Knoxville, Tennessee
Did I probably ruffle some feathers and lose some allies through this letter? More than likely. However, the main purpose of this site is to separate people with true conservative values from those who claim to be conservatives during campaign season but govern from a different perspective. If Bob Corker wants to be a U.S. Senator, that is fine, but he has to run on his record. He needn't morph into a candidate more conservative and, thus, more electable (ala Hillary Clinton after the 2004 elections). Be who you are, Bob, and if you win, you win. Don't run as someone you are not. If your campaign continues to produce erroneous press releases and fact sheets, there are those of us who are capable of exposing the errors for all to see. Keep it clean, honest, and let the best Tennessean win.

UPDATE: TeamGOP and Bill Hobbs have more questions for Mr. Corker about his Democratic connections. Blogging for Bryant doesn't think that I will be invited to any future Corker fundraisers. I guess that opens up my social calendar...

MORE: Blogging for Bryant has also come up with an interesting pattern of support by one of Bob Corker's Democratic buddies. There is no other conclusion to draw here - liberal Democrats want Bob Corker as the GOP nominee.


Election Day

It's Election Day in some cities and counties throughout Tennessee, including Kingsport, Bristol, and my former home of Bluff City. I have received a few e-mails from voters in Kingsport (including my cousin, a rising 3L at Appalachian School of Law) that found my post on the alderman's race influential. Such influence may be of interest to John Jay Hooker, who has been added to the list of the converted with regards to how the Internet and blogs can alter politics. Mr. Hooker may be interested to know that he is (to my recollection) the first Democrat to ever receive my vote in the 1998 race for the Governor's Mansion. Unfortunately, that vote had more to do with his opposition than with Mr. Hooker's resume.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Tennessee Governor's Race - 2002 & 2006

Bill Hobbs has a hard-hitting critique of Phil Bredesen's rise and Van Hilleary's stalled political career. For those who need a recap of the history's of these two and where they are headed, this column is a necessity.

My two-cents on Hilleary (because, if you don't know where I stand on Bredesen by now, you haven't been reading carefully) - I think Van is a good man. However, I question those who he trusts with his campaign future. What is so odd is that he tended to have wonderful D.C. staffers, but these people were a far cry from the campaign staff that he employed for the 2002 Tennessee Governor's race. I played on Van's Congressional League Softball team and campaigned for him in the East Tennessee region that included Knox County in 2002, so I know both groups of people. The way that the campaign in 2002 was run was disgraceful, and when I say that, I am aiming my criticism at a few high-ranking people. It, along with Dole 1996, was one of the only campaigns that I felt uneasy about working at the time - because of the sleaziness, the running when you should have been standing firm, the lack of political vision by those dealing with the press. Standing in the rain that Election Day morning with Van in 2002, I felt bad for him as GOP voter after GOP voter came up to him and told him how they liked him but wouldn't be voting for him after the "dirty" campaign that he had run. I felt bad for him because I don't think it was Van who was at fault for that "dirty" campaign. Now that he lost his dream job opportunity in 2002, he seems to have lost his senses - not as badly as Al Gore did after 2000, but jumping into a race with three other candidates when you are the only Republican to lose a statewide general election in over two decades isn't politically sane. OK, maybe that's a bit harsh, but at least Van is the victim of extremely poor political advice.

When Van loses this primary, he's done politically. Finished. Over. So why put all of your political fortunes into a primary where you aren't the most conservative candidate (Ed Bryant is), you don't have the most money (Bob Corker does), you haven't been working for and living amongst Tennesseans since 2002 (Bryant, Corker, and Harwell have), and you don't have the best campaign team (Bryant again)? Meanwhile, he has once again surrounded himself with the same cancerous elements that cost him 2002. It's beyond strange, and his campaign looks to be in disarray compared to the Bryant, Corker, and Harwell campaigns. At Lincoln Day events, Van often wasn't present and many times didn't even have a campaign representative attend in his proxy. Heck, his campaign website has been in development for months! I once thought a great deal of Van, but one has to wonder about him when he continues to surround himself with people that only limit his potential. My advice - dump this campaign team and find some real conservatives to run your campaign against Bredesen for the Governor's Mansion in 2006. That way, Van, your integrity, political sanity, and conservative values won't be compromised, and the GOP might take back the Governor's Mansion in a race that many Republicans were ready to write-off only a few months back.


Debate over the public financing of media

Glen Dean at Nashville Truth has a great intro into the long-running debate over whether the government should be financing media (PBS, NPR, etc.). I don't watch PBS or listen to NPR, much because I didn't see why the government should be involved in such forums in a free marketplace (both financially free and intellectually free), which ours strives to be. Right-wing, left-wing, neutral - it doesn't matter. I just don't see why government is involved. Much like welfare and other social programs, government media may have served a purpose at some time, but I don't see what that purpose is during this era.


New members of the Rocky Top Brigade

The Rocky Top Brigade is growing by leaps and bounds, as shown by these new members. In particular, I am interested to read posts on Can Farragut Change? and Strange Things Afoot. Welcome aboard, y'all!


Pew Forum study supports notion that GOP can't win without religious conservatives

From Michael Reilly:

"Message to Republicans: You are winning because of cultural issues. "Move to the center" on those issues and you will move out of the White House and back to minority status in Congress."

It's a short article. Read the whole piece here.


Tennessee legislators lining up for "The Other White Meat"

Yes, pork is in vogue in Nashville, according to this report from The Tennessean. I often criticize the Nashville paper because, well, it deserves it more often than not. However, this is a good story, spreads the blame, and probably could have been twice the length and still held the readers' attention.

Like most recent actions, conservatives have to be embarrassed by the Knoxville legislators in particular. Tim Burchett, whom I praised last week over voting against the Pre-K program, has decided that $0.5 million needs to be carved from the government pig for the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, which will "showcase the achievements of African-Americans in East Tennessee." That's amazing, because I was driving around Knoxville Saturday and thought to myself, "You know what the people of Knoxville need? A cultural center that would highlight black achievements in this area. Not a solution to the generational road projects that stifle the city's growth or a revitalization of East and South Knoxville or even a downtown baseball stadium so that the minor league Tennessee Smokies don't have to play 20 miles outside of town, but a cultural center. Yep, that's the ticket!" Of course, Jamie Hagood is no better since she believes that the State of Tennessee should foot the bill for the "operational expenses" of the East Tennessee Historical Society - at a price tag of $2.5 million.

I know they're not conservatives, but I'm having a hard time telling whether these members of the General Assembly are liberal or have traversed to the level where calling them socialists is more accurate. I can't wait until the Tennessee House releases their requests for pork. Nothing is more telling about where a politician stands than where he/she believes that the State's limited resources should be spent.

MORE: Bill Hobbs has more on this story. In particular, he does not like the way that the report makes it sound like all constituents are requiring their elected representatives to push these pork projects and how the report seems to have a disconnect with where the "State's money" comes from. I agree with Bill on both counts.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Requiring parents to volunteer at TN schools?

I'm sure my libertarian friends will love this one. A bill slithering through the Tennessee General Assembly would require all parents of Tennessee schoolchildren to "volunteer" (which isn't really the right term since there isn't a choice to serve) 12 hours a year in their child's school. This stinks on two levels, really. First, it's more government regulation. Second, would you want every parent in the schools - even those with violent criminal backgrounds, a history of mental illness, or a history of sexual misconduct?

This is another great argument for homeschooling.

MORE: Bill Hobbs has more thoughts on this bill.

Friday, May 13, 2005


BREAKING NEWS: TN Senate passes Pre-K!

OK, so I'm not surprised. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised. OK, so I'm surprised a little that only two senators had the guts to do what was right. Because the Tennessee General Assembly site is completely useless and I'm not calling anyone at 1:15 A.M. to find out who the two were, we will have to wait until the morning to let the Tennessean inform us as to whom those two people were. Assuming that they were Republicans, that means that there are 15 senators that call themselves Republicans, are anything but conservatives, and will never receive one bit of help from me during campaign season again. In fact, let me know if you plan on running against one of these non-conservative senators in a primary, because you already have help in me.

More on this to come.

UPDATE: The Tennessean, in what is sure to be one of the most biased reports on a state program since the inception of TennCare (congrats staff writer Claudette Riley for editorializing only three words into the article!), has given us the name of the two senators that chose to fight Bredesen's Frankenstein - Mae Beavers (R - Mt. Juliet - and certainly one of my favorite members of the Tennessee Senate) and Tim Burchett (not a R - Knoxville). But even that isn't right, is it? Riley states that neither Beavers nor Burchett said a thing during debates, so it was more casting their vote than advocating their opinion or fighting the good fight. I guess the people who will play both sides of the fence in traditional political style - pointing to that "Yes" vote to show that you love the children so much that you had to legislate irresponsibly while pointing to the amendments you offered to show that you really didn't like the bill in the first place - will be people like Jamie Hagood (who is just asking me to make her a one-term senator in 2008), Rusty Crowe (which harkens back to his days of voting for the income tax while not voting for it), and Ron Ramsey (who probably blew any chance that he had at the 1st Congressional District's seat in Congress when Bill Jenkins decides to retire). I can't express my disappointment with these people. It surely is a bitter pill, not only because I have campaigned to put many of these non-conservatives into office, but because of the great disconnect between what conservative voters - who are the majority in East Tennessee and many parts of West Tennessee - want and expect and the people who represent them in Nashville. It is looking like it was Glen Dean at Nashville Truth who was right and I who was wrong - conservative politicians aren't extinct, but there aren't many left, either. I tried to quash Glen's fears, but now it is I who is afraid for the nation, the Republican party, and the Great State of Tennessee.

MORE: Adam Groves also seems peeved at Pre-K. Overall, though, the blogosphere seems content, as few have mentioned the vote and most seem more concerned about dealings in the House. Of course, I have to ask why it would be important for Naifeh and his minions to be vanquished if their GOP replacements would govern in the same "progressive" manner? GOP rule sure hasn't be conservative-friendly in the Senate. Why would the House be any different?


ETSU Pharmacy School reaches goal

Congrats to ETSU for reaching its fundraising goal of $5 million in private donations. Many people in East Tennessee felt passionately that this pharmacy program was needed. I might not think it is as important as some feel, but it surely makes more sense to have the program in Johnson City than in Memphis/Knoxville, as UT was pitching.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


BREAKING NEWS: Bolton will get up-or-down vote on the Senate floor

The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Voinovich, Ohio Republican, has come out in opposition of John Bolton's nomination as U.N. Ambassador. HOWEVER, Voinovich will show that he isn't all bad like the obstructionist Senate Democrats and will offer a "no recommendation" vote in the effort of seeing Bolton pass out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on to the entire Senate. Either a "no recommendation" vote or a 9-9 tie (a party-line vote with Voinovich abstaining) sees the Bolton nomination going to the Senate floor. You can watch streaming video of the SFR hearing on The Washington Post's website - kudos to them.

For all of you worrying that a conservative won't run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, check out the last two paragraphs of the story. I think this man is positioning himself for a run...

UPDATE: As predicted, Bolton heads to the Senate floor without a recommendation from Senate Foreign Relations. Yes, Voinovich's criticism was stinging, but I knew Bolton was in the clear when Murkowski gave an excellent defense of Bolton through debunking specific criticisms of his past actions (Murkowski was a Bolton critic when the accusations first surfaced, but she stated that researching the issues showed that the stories weren't entirely accurate). Senator Joe Biden was just on CNN with Judy Woodruff, blasting away at the Republicans for sending Bolton to the full Senate. Woodruff asked him how come Bolton didn't deserve an up-or-down vote, especially given Voinovich's acceptance of that outcome in spite of his own feelings regarding the U.N. nominee. Biden, never one to give an actual answer, asked Woodruff, "Well, Judy, then what are Senate committees for? I know I'm not supposed to be asking the questions, but.... Senate committees insure that not every little thing gets voted on by the Senate. If we are going to pass everything on to the Senate as a whole, why even have committees?"

Nice to see Joe coming around and abandoning the Dark Side. Will someone let Senate Majority Leader Frist know that Biden's for eliminating committees altogether? Now THAT is a Democratic recommendation that I can get behind!


An issue close to my heart

I meant to lead off with this post today after accidentally seeing a replay of Larry King in the wee hours, but life got in the way. In any case, better late than never. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - already giving a better showing than Mr. Powell did during his four-year reign - told King last night that the individual right to bear arms, as protected by the Second Amendment, is as important than the rights to free speech and religion. I like that line of thought, although I would say that it is more important because the other two are worthless if a tyrannical government or organized criminal factions can take away your free speech rights or right to free exercise of religion because the only protection that was ever afforded them was in the form of a document and not a Mossberg Model 500 pump. The framers of the Tennessee Constitution were certainly so inclined.

I have only been able to find a serious mainstream media story here and here, but the AP has picked up the story, so it should be widely read in a few hours. It's disappointing that neither story making the rounds mentions that it is the official position of the Department of Justice that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms or that the prevailing trend is towards that view, instead stating that people "disagree over whether the amendment guarantees individual gun ownership."

MORE: Instapundit has more on this. He again calls for the right to arms as a recognized international human right. I call for the end of international law and the UN. I think I might have better odds of getting what I want than Professor Reynolds does.


Blogging Tennessee Representative

If you haven't done so yet, check out Tennessee Representative Stacey Campfield's blog, Camp4u. I admit that I was a bit skeptical at the whole idea of a blogging state legislator, but Stacey has won me over with his candid assessments and pull-no-punches attitude. In fact, Stacey's efforts are the latest addition to my blogroll. His latest post shows that Stacey is for the conservative value of not wasting the taxpayers' money, which makes me proud to have campaigned for him (indirectly, as part of Bush/Cheney 2004).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Lott to side with Democrats on filibuster?

If this story from James Dobson is true, then a pox on Trent Lott's house. It also begs the question - what has changed with Lott in the past few weeks?


John Ford receives first of many fines

The Tennessean has the story of the vote in the Registry of Election Finance to punish Mr. Ford, who, as my friend BT noted, is more of a cartoon character than an actual elected official. Two questions:

1) Is it really a punishment if you fine Ford $10,000 for illegally using $15,000 in campaign funds? It seems like a pretty good deal for Ford. Of course, one has to wonder why he would need to use campaign funds for his daughter's wedding, given the huge contracts that are apparently surfacing for shepharding bills (many regarding TennCare) through the General Assembly.

2) Who are the three who didn't see this as a violation? Wow. Truly astonishing.


Early reminder for Middle Tennessee GOP event

David Welborn, Webmaster for the Coffee County GOP, reminds me that the group will hold "An Evening of Vision" in conjunction with neighboring counties (Bedford, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore, Rutherford, Warren) on May 26. Ed Bryant, Bob Corker, Beth Harwell, and Van Hilleary will all be present and will be afforded time to present their visions for our state that evening. The event is slated to begin around 6:15 at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center. For more information, click here.


A great work of legal writing - the Multistate Bar Exam??

Instapundit linked to a wonderfully creative post on PrawfsBlawg that exposes the ideological choices that course through the Multistate Bar Exam. Having sat for the MBE on more than one occasion, I can truthfully say that I have thought the exact same things as in the post:

"Ironically, if one practiced the criminal law on the Bar exam, one might be disbarred."



2006 Senate Race Rumblings

It's late, yes, but I've been trying to rundown (without waking anyone, mind you) the not-so-veiled reference by Blogging for Bryant that has Corker leaving the crowded GOP field to take on Bredesen in the Governor's race. Conventional wisdom amongst most Republicans older and wiser than I on the Lincoln Day circuit this year has been that either Hilleary or Corker would see the lack of primary competition in the governor's race and a vulnerable incumbent as too good to pass up. My bet (as I predicted at the Loudon County event months ago) was on Hilleary to do this, since it has always been his dream to be Tennessee Governor. He told me that during campaigning in 2002, and I have no reason to question his sincerity.

I am certainly not a Bob Corker fan. He is not a conservative, has raised taxes when he has been able, shades pro-choice, and doesn't inspire confidence in me as a true leader. That being said, I have written that I would support any of the 2006 GOP Senate candidates over Bredesen. I suppose that this would test that statement, but I think I would be a man of my word and support Corker for Governor. Now, is there anything to the rumor? More later today on this, I hope.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


The Amazing Race Finale

OK, the VOLuntarilyConservative wife and I have been hooked on "The Amazing Race" since its inception. The finale was tonight, and I have to say that I am glad Uchenna & Joyce won because they played the race well (probably not as well as Rob & Amber, though) and certainly showed an unselfish nature not normally seen in reality TV. However, I do smell a rat. If someone can convince me that the plane which had originally left Uchenna & Joyce in San Juan wasn't somehow told by Executive Producer Jonathan Littman to return to the runway... All I'm saying is that I have flown quite a bit, and my wife has flown everywhere through her former position with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and neither of us have ever seen anything like a taxiing plane returning to the jumpgate to pick up two ticketless passengers. If Rob & Amber arrive in Miami alone, there is no dramatic "Amazing Race" ending, with teams sprinting and the cameras not showing who is actually in the lead. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it seems to me that Littman and the execs at CBS have too much invested in this show to let it end anticlimactically, as it probably should have.

I'm sure that Mr. Rocky Top will have more on the dramatic ending tomorrow, although I bet he doesn't give much credence to my cry of "foul!"


Knox County News - Westside Tavern to close

Bearden's Westside Tavern is closing. To me, that is not a surprise. What was surprising was to read all of the excuses as to why they are closing. I can pick one - TDOT. Yep, that's right. When TDOT destroyed Papermill Drive and rerouted traffic in the pattern of a work by Degas, I told my wife that it would be surprising if any of the Bearden restaurants survived. I predict that Westside Tavern is just the first to fall. There are several other high-end eateries that may not survive yet another TDOT road project, which is supposed to end in December, 2006. But I thought Bredesen reformed TDOT? Oh yeah, right, that was only a campaign promise...

I worry about East and South Knoxville in the coming years. When TDOT closes I-40 for 18 months and closes James White Parkway for nearly that span, East and South Knoxville, both of which have been slowly growing, may suffer losses much worse than economically prosperous West Knoxville.


Bredesen's Pre-K Frankenstein continues towards Senate floor

The Senate Finance Committee voted the disastrous bill through on a 7-2 vote. Kudos to Ron Ramsey for trying to stop it through the amendment process and in the end voting against the boondoggle, even if the reasons he gives aren't necessarily the ones I would choose. Only one more committee hurdle before the bill reaches the Senate floor and we get to learn which Republican senators need to be defeated in 2006 and 2008.

On another note, Beth Harwell's e-mail newsletter was sent out today. About Pre-K, she writes:

A few weeks ago, the legislature House passed an initiative to establish a statewide Pre-K program. As I am sure you are aware, the initiative would establish a state-wide program that is voluntary in nature - meaning that each local school system can choose to participate and that each parent can choose whether or not to enroll their child. This program will help students who need an extra boost to get an early start on learning. To fund this program during the first year, we are using $25 million dollars from excess lottery dollars. When the people of Tennessee voted to pass the lottery, they did so with the expectation that any excess lottery dollars, up to 25 million, could only be used for three educational purposes. First, we could increase scholarship funds; second, we could put money into Pre-K programs; and third, we could use the money for capital improvements to educational institutions. From this point on, if the prog! ram requires additional funding, it may need to come from the general budget which is already maxed out. As I explained in my previous email on Pre-K, appropriating funds from the general budget to the Pre-K program will require extra attention so that the program - no matter how large - continues to be cost-effective and does not jeopardize the necessary funding currently allocated to K-12 education.

AND THIS WOMAN IS RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE AS A CONSERVATIVE?!?! Nice of her to leave off the forecasted future expenditures related to the program or the fact that she voted for the bill.

I have written recently that Harwell should run for Governor. I still think she should - in the Democratic primary.


Bredesen's Blog

Several of my Tennessee brethren have commented on Bredesen's new blog, including Bill Hobbs, Matt White, Blake Wylie, Adam Groves, John Walter, and Instapundit, as well as others. While I would love to have Bill Hobbs' optimism about the project, I can't help but share Matt White's skepticism, because my first thought was "I hope the staffer that is writing this is tech-savvy." Yes, I think that state reps and state senators could blog on a regular basis, but I am doubtful that elected officials any higher than that can make it work. I certainly wouldn't encourage any Member of Congress to try it on their own - those men and women have enough on their hands. I'm not even sure I would open up a blog for a Congressman with a staffer being responsible for ghost-writing it. That seems like quite a big responsibility to put on the shoulders of an overworked twentysomething who is already responsible for four major subjects, a committee assignment, keeping constituents happy, etc.

Bottom line: I'm not that excited about Bredesen's blog because - like the Nigerians that keep sending me e-mail wanting me to help them transfer millions of dollars - I don't think this is for real.

UPDATE: Matt White has the same reaction I had regarding the firing of Bredesen's top lobbyist Monday - where's the blog post? Just more evidence that Bredesen's blog is just a stunt, probably the product of BlogNashville's publicity and a governor who is in need of something positive in the media.

MORE: Bill Hobbs linked to news coverage of Bredesen's blog, where Tennessee Senator Tim Burchett was quoted:

With the governor now joining Rep. Campfield, is blogging now the future up on Capitol Hill?
"Probably not," said Sen. Tim Burchett. "I really don't have the time to fool with it, to tell you the truth."

Of course you don't, Tim. You're too busy backslapping with your Democratic buddies, trying to gather support for the newest version of your greatest legislative achievement, the "Road Kill" law. The truth is that you don't want to hear from the Republicans in your senate district that think that you are a lying snake that doesn't represent their interests. Enjoy Nashville while you're there, Tim, because your days there are numbered.

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