Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Samuel Alito Confirmed to Supreme Court

By a 58-42 vote, Sam Alito has been confirmed as an Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court.

That felt sooooooooo good to write.

Alito was on my personal short list from the beginning (as seen through this post from the middle of last May).

This leaves President Bush with two fantastic judicial appointments to SCOTUS. If Stephens or Ginsburg submit their resignation over the next two years, Bush will have a lasting legacy in the form of SCOTUS for several decades after his term as President concludes.

More to come on the voting breakdown later...

UPDATE: OK, after a break for lunch with the VOLConWife (who really needed to get out of the office), I have looked at the voting breakdown. Democrats voting for Alito's confirmation were:

Conrad (ND - a red state)
Byrd (WV - a red state in 2004)
Nelson (NE - a red state)
Johnson (SD - a red state)

"Independent" Jim Jeffords (VT) voted against Alito, as did one Republican - Lincoln Chafee (RI). Chafee released this statement on the Alito confirmation, which only goes to prove that Senator Chafee (or the staff member who wrote the statement for him) is 1) an expert on hypocrisy while being 2) uneducated on the Constitution that he swore to support and defend.

Can we end the charade of counting Chafee as a Republican? I realize the importance of having the majority, having served on Capitol Hill during a time when we didn't have it. Surviving on the crumbs given to you by the Democrats, smaller facilities that often make it difficult to do your work, and the loss of power in the committee chairs - these make owning the majority of vital importance. However, our majority is now such that we need to rid ourselves of Mr. Chafee. I'm not talking about kicking him out of the party. I'm talking about kicking his butt in a primary. Isn't there anyone more conservative than Chafee with $60 million or $70 million just lying around that wouldn't mind being in a powerful position like the United States Senate?


MORE: 2006 Senate candidate Ed Bryant distributed the following press release this afternoon:


Bryant Statement on Alito Confirmation

BRENTWOOD, TN - Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Ed Bryant, a former federal prosecutor, professor of constitutional law at West Point, and four-term Congressman today released the following statement on the confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:

“I congratulate Judge Alito on his confirmation. His record as a judge and as a federal prosecutor show that he has honored the constitution and will continue to do so. Since Judge Alito was rated well-qualified by the ABA, it is a shame that only four Democrats voted for his confirmation.

“But the real question remains: how would a Senator Harold Ford Jr. have voted on Alito? Tennesseans deserved to know an answer before the vote, and Harold Ford Jr. failed on that account. With both his liberal base of supporters and ordinary Tennesseans watching closely, Ford has chosen to punt. Tennessee needs real, conservative leadership on judiciary matters, and I am the only candidate who has the qualifications and life experiences to fill that role as our next United States Senator.”


That's a good question, and I am stunned Ford failed to address Bryant's concerns over the past few days. Either Ford is spineless, his campaign is woefully inept at crafting responses, or he wants to govern in the Clintonesque tradition of being one step behind the story so as to always be "with the people." No matter the reason, Ford is providing daily reminders to Tennesseans as to why he shouldn't be representing us after November.


The Political Side of Oscar

Alternate headline: Hollywood's True Colors

Liberal-themed movies dominated the Oscar nominations Tuesday, including the nominating of Good Night, and Good Luck, Munich, and Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture. If they only could have nominated Syriana and a random Michael Moore film, then the alienation of the majority of Americans would have been complete.

Not that it matters. As a former film critic, I saw several of the better offerings this year (films that other people saw, too, unlike the rabble above). I have no doubt which movie was the best of 2005.

As a huge fan of Johnny Cash, I may be a bit biased, but I have no doubt in my mind that Walk the Line was the best movie of 2005. I don't need a bunch of liberal elitists to tell me otherwise.

Monday, January 30, 2006


2006 Senate Endorsement

Congratulations to Jeff Moder, who picked up an endorsement from Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform on the eve of the first 2006 Senate debate. Considering that none other than Grover Norquist predicted to a group of us bloggers this past summer that immigration would be one of the 3 biggest issues for future political campaigns, this is a nice feather in the cap of Mr. Moder.

Much debate has centered amongst people who have little to do regarding who the "spoiler" may be in this primary. No one has mentioned Moder, but in a crowded field, his percentage points could be the difference between winning and losing.


Upcoming Liveblogging Schedule

There are two liveblogging events on the horizon.

First, this Wednesday marks National Signing Day, a pseudo-holiday for college football fans throughout the country. I usually spend NSD each year roaming from message board to message board, watching how each school is progressing on the recruiting front. This year, I have decided to do much of the same, but I will also provide blog updates on VOLuntarilyConservative whenever Tennessee grabs a commitment. I hope to publish a little piece on that recruit at that time (I follow UT recruiting year-round, so I already have watched enough film on the guys we are recruiting to have a feel for each one). I figured that this would be a good service, since ESPN isn't starting their coverage until noon and the local SportsTalk guys are always behind. Noon is too late, since most of UT's recruits have moved before 11:00 A.M. In any case, tune in Wednesday for a full day of UT fun.

Second, I am planning to make the trek to Memphis as one of the blogging contingent covering the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in March. There will be more on this to come, but I am looking forward to it. Nearly every serious contender for the White House in 2008 has already confirmed their attendance, including George Allen, John McCain, Haley Barbour, Bill Frist, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. I know that Mick Wright of The Main Street Journal and Sarah Gentry of TeamGOP will also be in Memphis for the event. The trip is on a shoestring budget, but I am confident that a little elbow grease and sleep deprivation will make it work out in the end.


Homosexual Lobbying at the UN

This UN update from Family Research Council caught my eye over the weekend.


The U.S. delegation to the UN this week voted to veto an attempt by the Belgium-based International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) to gain "consultative status" as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the UN's Economic and Social Council.

Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) immediately protested the move in a letter to America's UN Ambassador, John Bolton. Lantos called it "a major setback" for human rights in the world. At the State Department, however, Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Lagon said the veto was based on ILGA's past history as an affiliate of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). NAMBLA advocates pedophilia.

Germany's UN delegate, Martin Thummel, protested against U.S. policy, saying it was just a "pretext" for avoiding issues of sexual orientation. Homosexual advocacy groups are making hay of the fact that Iran, Zimbabwe, and Cuba support the turndown of ILGA. We make no common cause with any of these notorious human rights abusers, but it is a disservice to the true cause of human rights to say that a group like ILGA must sit at the table.

One thing is clear: President Bush's recess appointment of John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN means no business as usual for the world body.


That last line pretty much sums it up. For more on this, see Reuters story here.

Friday, January 27, 2006



That's a big number.

Perhaps that is what makes this all the more tragic.


Is Van Hilleary capable of original thought?

I received this press release from the Hilleary campaign early today.

It looked eerily familiar to a press release published by the RNC two days ago.

A few people had remarked to me this week that it appeared that Van's campaign was on hiatus over the past few weeks with few press releases and even fewer public opportunities throughout the state. This lack of originality seems to support that notion.

MORE: Blogging for Bryant has more on this: We Can Do Better than a "Cut and Paste" Senator.

I guess the big question is the following: did Van think people wouldn't notice? Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that question...


Politics and Supreme Court Nominations

First, an apology for the lack of blogging this week. It was a busy day in court yesterday (a good day for my clients, but a tiring, busy day nonetheless).

Bob Novack has a good piece on how conservative groups are using the confirmation vote of Judge Alito (which could come as early as next Tuesday) to their advantage in states where Democratic Senators are up for re-election in 2006. Of course, what he fails to mention is that these incumbents should be concerned about how their constituents view their votes every year, not just in years where their precious positions are at risk.

Here in the Volunteer State, it has become apparent over the past two days that the Tennessee Supreme Court will certainly look different next year, with the announcements by Justice Anderson and Justice Birch that they will both retire from the bench in August. Former Chief Justice Drowota retired only 5 months ago, so this gives Governor Bredesen the opportunity to appoint three of the five judges in a year's time - an unprecedented change of the Court in Tennessee.

Despite what The Tennesseean is reporting, this will be a political exercise. Just look at Governor Bredesen's last appointment, Cornelia Clark. In that process, Bredesen had the choice between a Republican jurist with an excellent reputation (although many wish he would work a little faster) and a person with a long record of serving in leadership positions within the Democratic Party. I think you know who was appointed to that opening on the Court. Anyone saying that this isn't political is either being PC or lying.

With the retirement of Justice Anderson (freeing up an appointment from East Tennessee, as no more than two justices can reside in each of Tennessee's grand divisions) and the near certainty that the new justices will be Democrats, I would like to offer a name to Governor Bredesen as a potential nominee - Jim Ripley. For full disclosure, Mr. Ripley is my uncle. He has also served in a primarily volunteer role on the Tennessee Lottery Commission, is a partner in the Sevierville law firm of Sharp & Ripley, an avid hunter and NRA member, and not overly political in the community. Plus, I think he would be open to appointment if asked. Of course, with my endorsement to Governor Bredesen, I probably just killed any chance that Mr. Ripley had of being appointed.

Although we disagree about many things (the death penalty and abortion, for starters), I am sad to see Justice Birch head into retirement. You see, it was Justice Birch that heard the motion delivered by Ed Bryant for my entrance to practice in Tennessee. He will always have a special place in my memories.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Canadian Election Round-up

I don't usually post much about Canada on the blog because I don't tend to care much about socialist states that pose no threat to the United States. However, the recent elections have shown that our neighbors to the North may be coming around (in much the way that Germany may be after their recent elections).

My old prof, Glenn Reynolds, has a warning to the GOP based on the Canadian elections. I'm not sure that I am buying into his rationale, though. Pejman Yousefzadeh has a great round-up of the change in power, as does David Oatney. Also, Glen Dean delves into a little revisionist geography.


Health Update

Just to quash any rumors, I just returned from the doctor, and the diagnosis is a virus that should run its course in a few more days. The only problem I foresee is the lack of carbonated drinks until Friday, which, as the VOLConWife points out, constitutes nearly 70% of my calories and 100% of my caffeine in any given day.

She's right. This might be tougher than any horsepill that the doc might have prescribed...


Strange Press Release

First, some personal notes - I have been worthless today. Yesterday, I became stricken with an ailment that has made talking quite difficult. In a way, it was a blessing that my afternoon hearing was pushed off for a month in Blount County Juvenile Court because I would have been a bit handicapped in oral argument, for sure. The condition became worse overnight, and I cancelled all appointments for today in the hope of recovering before tomorrow. I'm a bit better, but I am headed to the doctor this afternoon just to be safe.

Second, I received a strange press release from Progress for America (PFA) this afternoon shortly after Judge Alito's nomination received passage out of Senate Judiciary. PFA has been one of the chief organizations working publicity in favor of President Bush's judicial nominations. Some of their work has been excellent. Some of their work is head-scratching. This falls under the latter.

PFA proudly trumpeted an endorsement by Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania Governor and former Chair of the DNC, in favor of Judge Alito's confirmation. Politically, that's akin to receiving an endorsement from Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, Hugo Chavez, or Lucipher. Ed Rendell is one of the worst governors in the United States. His record as an anti-Second Amendment, pro-gambling, pro-tax politician does not align him with the "good guys" of American politics.

Two questions come to mind:

1) Why is PFA so proud of this endorsement? I have no answer there. Poor judgment, if you ask me.

2) Why is Rendell endorsing Alito? Several possibilities exist here. For starters, Rendell is in trouble politically. Lynn Swann is about to clean his clock in Pennsylvania, and with Rendell's numbers in West Pennsylvania peaking at 30% approval, it wouldn't surprise me to see him drop out of the race if he can find a graceful way to do so. Rendell also has eyes for the Vice President's position in 2008 or 2012 (more likely the latter), so he needs to play to the middle if he wants to appear a viable option for Clinton/Obama/Richardson/Bredesen/Candidate X. Also, Rendell's wife serves on Alito's appellate court, the 3rd Circuit. The judges from the 3rd Circuit have supported Alito unlike any other appellate body faced with one of its members being elevated to the High Court ever has.

For Rendell, the endorsement makes sense. For PFA, it really doesn't.

Monday, January 23, 2006


RIP, Winchester

While the media is blowing up over the job cuts at Ford Motor Company, little has been said or written about the death of U.S. Repeating Arms Company, the manufacturer of Winchester rifles. The Knoxville News-Sentinel had a story on the closing Sunday (thanks in large part to the overworked Bob Hodge, who had no less than 4 stories in the "Outdoors" section Sunday), and David Oatney added some of his own commentary thereafter. More obituaries can be found at The Madison Freedom Fighter, komotomo, From Where I Sit, and Les Jones.

I imagine that there will be a run on Model 70's and perhaps the Super X2 over the next few months, so you might want to act quickly if you plan to purchase one of these Winchesters before production ends. As David Oatney points out, this does not mean that Winchester ammunition is being scrapped. That is good news.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Radio Alert for Saturday Morning

Early risers on Saturday morning (count me as one of them) can catch 2006 Senate candidate Ed Bryant on George Korda's "State Your Case" show on WNOX around 6:30 A.M. (Those who live outside of the area can hear the interview via streaming audio on the WNOX site.) Tennessee Senator Jamie Woodson (formerly Jamie Hagood) will be joining Ed on tomorrow's show.

No word on whether Ed will ask Jamie about people who campaign as conservatives and then vote along with the liberals when it comes to spending the money of Tennesseans everywhere. I'm not sure if Jamie's ready for higher office or if she is ready to be unseated, but I am leaning towards the latter.


Democrats and Their Allergy to Ethics Reform

David Oatney, who has moved up my personal ladder of the Blogosphere from "read every so often" to "read daily," has an excellent analysis of why nothing has come from the special session in Nashville dealing with ethics.

I certainly agree with David that streaming video of the General Assembly is a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, I also agree that the likelihood of that occurring is next to nothing, and that the reason for that conclusion has everything to do with the potential turnover - on both sides of the aisle - if Kurita's proposal came to pass.

Of course, I could be wrong on that last agreement. According to Brian Hornback, as of 8:02 P.M. Thursday night, no one had picked up a petition to run against pretend-Republican Tim Burchett for his seat in the Tennessee Senate. Maybe apathy makes incumbents completely invulnerable. (And before the e-mails and comments start pouring in like usual, I will not run against Burchett, as I don't live in his district, and I am no carpetbagger. I have tried to recruit a few people who do live in his district to run, but they have declined.)


BREAKING NEWS: Maryland Judge Redefines Marriage

A judge in Maryland has decided that the traditional definition of marriage - codified in a 1973 statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman - is unconstitutional. I pity those, like my grandparents and American hero/NRA Assistant General Counsel Jim Warner, who live in that cesspool of a state.

Reaction amongst the Blogosphere has been swift, with many special gay rights groups celebrating the victory they could never win through legislative means (even in a Marxist state like Maryland).

So, President Bush, when do you plan on pushing the constitutional amendment upon which you campaigned in 2004?

Yeah, that's what I thought...


New York City: 74 Abortions for Every 100 Live Births

The New York Daily News has the story.

This report is staggering for those with an appreciation for statistics. For those who value life and the right to life for all Americans, this report is tragic.

And for those of us with a hatred for all things "New York" - from the pompous attitudes to the New York Yankees - this is just another reason to stay away from the city and all of those who represent her until things change for the better.

And with this person representing New Yorkers, that isn't likely.


RSC Chairman Endorses Shadegg for House Majority Leader

Rep. Mike Pence, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of solid conservative House Republicans that includes Marsha Blackburn, issued the following Colleague Letter yesterday morning endorsing Rep. John Shadegg for House Majority Leader:


January 19, 2006

Dear RSC Colleague:

Two weeks from today, the Republican Congress will face a choice of enormous significance in the life of our nation and our majority. As chairman of the Republican Study Committee, it is always my goal to take action, with deliberation, in the best interests of our members and the conservative movement.

Out of respect for the fact that members of RSC would be supporting a variety of candidates, I had intended to withhold any endorsement in the race for Majority Leader. But given the addition of a prominent RSC member to the field and given that many members have already expressed a preference, it has become clear to me that an earlier, personal endorsement is now appropriate.

My choice is John Shadegg. While I see Roy Blunt and John Boehner as conservative men with honorable records of service in Congress, I am proud to endorse John Shadegg for Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.

John Shadegg is a proven conservative leader in Congress. During his years as chairman of the Republican Study Committee and the House Policy Committee, John Shadegg has demonstrated a passion for the conservative agenda and a heart to build bridges between the diverse members of our Republican conference.

John Shadegg is a son of the Republican revolution, a member of the fabled class of 1994, and a leader who has never lost his zeal for reform. John Shadegg knows what fiscal and moral reforms are necessary to restore public confidence in the integrity of our national legislature. Now, more than ever, we need leadership with the energy and vision to steer this Congress back to our roots of fiscal discipline, limited government and traditional values.

John Shadegg is the right man with the right agenda to lead our majority during the challenging days that lie ahead. I humbly urge all my colleagues to support John Shadegg of Arizona as our next Majority Leader.


Mike Pence
Republican Study Committee


This is sure to please the blog coalition that is supporting Shadegg. From what I have seen, momentum certainly seems to be in the Arizona congressman's favor. Personally, I support the movement to have some fresh, untainted blood in the GOP leadership. Shadegg certainly fits that criteria, as do some other names that have not been mentioned as of yet. Hugh Hewitt seems to agree that Shadegg's star is rising, and he believes that the openness of this formerly-closed process can be greatly contributed to the Blogosphere.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Supreme Court Rules Against Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire Abortion Case

No, Justice O'Connor didn't have a change of heart and overrule her opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (the 1992 case that affirmed Roe), but today's decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood certainly is a victory - albeit a small one - for those who value the sanctity of life. As Justice O'Connor (the author of the unanimous opinion) wrote in the first line of the opinion:

"We do not revisit our abortion precedents today..."

And that is true. In a narrow ruling, the Court decided to give the lower federal courts some flexibility in abortion rulings, whereas they have been (as with this case) declared unconstitutional on their face in their entirety if one section of the statute may be unconstitutional (or, as I editorialize, what the present judiciary feels is unconstitutional under their imagined right of privacy). In this decision, the Court admits that it may not be necessary or justified to invalidate the entire statute, instead favoring "narrower declarative or injunctive relief." The "meat" of the case reads:

"In this case,the courts below chose the most blunt remedy - permanently enjoining the enforcement of New Hampshire's parental notification law and thereby invalidating it entirely. That is understandable,for we,too, have previously invalidated an abortion statute in its entirety because of the same constitutional flaw. In Stenberg,we addressed a Nebraska law banning so-called "partial birth abortion " unless the procedure was necessary to save the pregnant woman's life. We held Nebraska's law unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception. 530 U.S.,at 930 (lack of a health exception was an "independent reason" for finding the ban unconstitutional). But the parties in Stenberg did not ask for and we did not contemplate,relief more finely drawn. In the case that is before us, however, we agree with
New Hampshire that the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale."

This is more than likely O'Connor's final opinion, so it is fitting that it tweaks the enigmatic mystery that is the plurality opinion in Casey. It is also an unusually short opinion, only about 10 pages.

My analysis: Given that New Hampshire's legislature included a severability clause in the parennotificationtion statute, the Court got this one right, looking to the legislation as they should. However, I wouldn't be too joyous. This case is headed back to the 1st Circuit in Boston on remand, and I would imagine that the appellate court will proceed to gut New Hampshire's law. So, in that way, this isn't a huge victory in all that was gained was a new tool in defending abortion restrictions. However, when one takes into account what could have been lost, conservatives can't look at this as anything but a victory.

Probably more interesting is that the decision was unanimous. Forget O'Connor - who brokered the deal with Ginsburg and Stephens to have them sign on to this opinion? Could it have been our new Chief Justice Roberts? If so, this could be a sign that he may bring extraordinary leadership to his new role over the next several decades.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The Supreme Court's Ruling in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Case

I've read all three opinions in Gonzales v. Oregon, the SCOTUS case released today that let stand Oregon's popularly-created law that allows for physician-assisted suicide. Justice Kennedy, who grows less conservative by the day, wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 case. Justice Scalia wrote a dissent which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas. Justice Thomas also wrote a short dissent of his own.

I say that I have read the opinions because a lot of what is being said about this case is - in my humble opinion - being assumed by those who haven't read the case. They assume that this is a victory for states' rights, a victory delivered by the liberals who suddenly embraced the argument for federalism because it suited the outcome they desired. Those same people chide Scalia and Thomas for abandoning their states' rights position, painting them as hypocrites. (For reference, see psychopolitik, Philosophical Oration, and The Republic of T, for starters, who have reacted by what the media is telling them instead of reading the opinion for themselves.)

Of course, this is all false. While this may have seemed like a states' rights case, it was certainly more of a case framed around the premises and previous cases involving administrative law. This was no great states' rights victory, nor was the popular vote of the citizens of Oregon even a factor in the Court's decision. Nor was there a victory for patient autonomy or a landmark decision regarding the rights of doctors. In fact, the chief argument between Kennedy's majority opinion and Scalia's worthy dissent was how this case and its factual background fit into the precedents of Auer and Chevron and the recently-decided Raich. In fact, Justice Thomas's dissent only focused on the legal gymnastics that the majority was accomplishing by taking a position starkly different from Raich - and all in eight short months. (Scalia also pointed out that Kennedy's search for definitions in the relevant federal statute might have been helped if he had actually looked to the definitions section provided by Congress, which, as Professor Cohen at UT used to tell me, is a good place to start.)

While this case may have looked like states' rights versus the right to life, it was more like the right of the Attorney General to define what is a "legitimate medical use." The majority said that he had no such authority. I can see their point, but why hand the decision for that definition over to the populace of Oregon or (even worse) the legislators of Oregon? If the question is as technical as Kennedy makes it out to be, shouldn't the group with the expertise - the doctors - make the decision? Yes, I am suggesting a vote amongst the doctors of Oregon as to whether they feel comfortable violating the Hippocratic Oath on a regular basis.

That's what it comes down to for me. As someone who was there (for a while), I am not a big fan of patient autonomy when it infringes upon the views and beliefs of the doctor. I have no problem with the medical community making this decision as a group, even if it probably would result in an outcome that I don't necessarily agree with. (Obviously, in this case, I would certainly hope that the doctors would uphold their oath (in whatever modern or classical form in which it was administered) and view death as the ultimate harm.)

This is an interesting example of how Kennedy is going to move into O'Connor's position as powerbroker. Many are focusing on Roberts' siding with the dissent and declaring his actions as lying (which, as I stated, is not the case here), but Kennedy is the one to keep an eye on.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


What is the "Unitary Theory of the Executive?"

The above phrase was tossed around quite a bit during Judge Alito's confirmation hearings this past week, and over at FRCBlog, there is an excellent analysis of the concept for those who might be interested.

Friday, January 13, 2006


2006 Senate tidbits - and BEWARE OF THE CHICKEN!

First, it is good to hear that Andrew Shulman has joined Ed Bryant's campaign staff as Press Secretary. I worked with Andrew on Capitol Hill, and he is a fantastic press secretary and a tireless worker. The biggest asset he brings to this campaign, though, is a great sense of humor. The way that this race is going - with a member of Tennessee's most notorious families running, a candidate who is scared to death of the vulnerable Governor, and a politician best known for calling the current Senate Majority Leader a "cat-killer" - he's going to need it.

Second, it is disappointing to read that Jeff Ward of TeamGOP has endorsed Hilleary. It's not at all surprising, and actually lends credence to some of the criticisms that have been lobbed at Jeff for his previous coverage of the race. Jeff's a good guy, though, and his previous contributions to conservatism should not be questioned in the least. However, I do offer this warning to Jeff - even the best people, when exposed to not-that-great people, are stained. I hope that it's Jeff that rubs off on Van's campaign staff and not the other way around.

Third, I heard a funny rumor that Jim Henry's old chicken supporter has been resurrected and is tracking down Bob Corker. As you may recall, Henry drafted the chicken into duty, having him follow around then-gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary for refusing to debate Henry during the 2002 GOP primary. Now Bob Corker is basically doing the same thing by refusing to debate conservatives Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, and Jeff Moder at the end of the month. Apparently, the chicken is pissed at being called into action during the cold winter months to chase down another candidate, so if you see him (picture below), keep your distance.

Fourth, congratulations to Eric Watson (R - House District 22) for his decisive victory over Democrat Sally Love in the special election to replace disgraced Rep. Chris Newton in Bradley, Meigs, and Polk Counties. Ed Bryant had invested considerable time and staff to assisting Eric, and it is great to see the best possible result come from such efforts.


Tennessee Bloggers Targeted?

First Bill Hobbs disappears with little-to-no warning. Now Sharon Cobb leaves under even more mysterious circumstances, with a post that sounds like a John Lennon recording played backwards, with an actual photo of Lennon included? We've already lost Doc B and John Wait earlier.

Watch your backs, Tennessee bloggers! You could be next.


More on Tennessee in 2006

Jeff Ward at TeamGOP posted this a few hours after my Wednesday rant about our lack of a gubernatorial candidate. Jeff's article points to a combination of big money and bad timing as the problem, which I acknowledge, although I have to feel that having people in high positions that aren't interested in winning every race (which Jeff rightly points to) as the central cause of our problems.

I have received several e-mails regarding the Wednesday rant, most of which have confirmed that we will not be running anyone against Bredesen. A few others have said that I got it wrong, that squishy candidates are to blame because they won't stand on their record (Corker) or won't finish what they started (Hilleary). That's certainly one way to look at it, but as a guy who wrote a term paper in a UT graduate political science course subscribing to "elite theory" as our form of government, that isn't a leap that I am ready to make.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Scandal-Plagued Bredesen Wins Second Term

Regular readers of this site know that I am lax to engage in rumor and innuendo. However, I feel safe in publishing the following thoughts because I have heard this from multiple sources - both in Tennessee and inside the Beltway - and have come to the conclusions below.

I feel the Conservatore Dall'Est's pain. The lack of a gubernatorial candidate is one of the greatest GOP failures in my lifetime. In an election year with a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, several career state legislators looking vulnerable thanks to corruption within the Tennessee General Assembly, and a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage on the ballot, 2006 stood to be a banner year to prove the media wrong, that conservatism was still deeply rooted in the South and that Tennessee was more of a "red state" than many (including Lamar Alexander) believe. With scandal after scandal proving that Governor Bredesen was nothing more than the emperor that lacked clothing, things seemed a bit too perfect.

And that is the case. Sources both within our borders and connected within D.C. are telling me that the GOP will not field a challenger to Governor Bredesen in 2006. From what I have heard, Beth Harwell will announce that she will not seek the office by the end of the month, and the only action by the GOP in the race for the Governor's Mansion might be to add a late (read: late March or early April) name to the ballot as nominal opposition to the vulnerable Bredesen.

So, what does this mean?

1) Democrats will be bolstered by the move, seeing the GOP as vulnerable in Tennessee. Look for actual Democratic campaigning when the 2008 presidential election begins, as compared to Kerry's invisibility in the state in 2004.

2) Bredesen will seek federal office when his term as governor concludes. That certainly could include a presidential run in 2012. If he can perform this poorly and still appear so unbeatable as to not draw opposition in a state that has been in GOP-control for the past several election cycles, the DNC will be most interested in keeping Bredesen in the fold in hopes of bottling his mojo.

3) The 2006 Senate race becomes much more interesting. First, money that would have gone into a GOP gubernatorial candidate now will flow into the GOP Senate primary. This should help Bryant, Hilleary, and Moder more than Corker, who already has enough money for the campaign (despite what he is telling everyone). It will also help Corker and Moder in their fight to gain name recognition, because there isn't another race hogging the spotlight. (Of course, given Corker's celestial negative numbers - which are unfathomably equal to his positive responses - he shouldn't believe that the key to victory is name recognition, because those that know who he is are equally divided in their reactions.)

4) Tennesseans can look forward to 4 more years of cronyism, sex scandals, state funds buying corporate interests, pretend TennCare cuts, expansion of the Pre-K financial nightmare, a state lottery that operates beyond the law, and business-as-usual under the pathetic "manager," Phil Bredesen. Of course, I guess the GOP plan is to wait until 2010, when we can be proud of Governor Marsha Blackburn.

I'm with my friend, Conservatore Dall'Est. This is extremely disappointing. The worst part is not knowing who to blame. Much like the 2002 Hilleary campaign, one has to wonder who is really pulling the strings. I have a sneaking suspicion that the puppetmasters may be beyond our borders, but I certainly can't prove that.

Again, nothing here is the Gospel. This could all be laid to waste over the next couple of weeks, and a challenger may descend from heaven to vanquish Bredesen. From what I have been told, though, that is the stuff of legend and not in Tennessee's future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Southern Republican Leadership Conference

I was thinking about posting a reminder for this event this morning, and prompting by the TN GOP has helped me along. The "early-bird" registration for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis ends Sunday, so it might be a good time to make your plans for March.

Is anyone going? I am on the fence, as March is a busy month.

Monday, January 09, 2006


On the doorstep of the Alito hearings

My friends, the fight for Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court will be long and hard, but we must stay the course.

If you have any doubts as to if this fight will be worth it, you need only read what the opposition is writing. They are genuinely scared of Justice Alito, and we must work to make sure that this right honorable man is a member of the High Court as soon as possible.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Quote for the Weekend

"It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you."

- Dick Cheney
Vice President of the United States

This is especially true in the face of those who believe the Patriot Act a greater threat to civil liberties than those who would try to kill us.


FISA Judges Violating the Judicial Canons?

Andrew McCarthy makes some great points in his NRO column today. It appears that the secret FISA judges (the ones responsible for the terrorist warrants that have caused so much consternation through the New York Times as it relates to President Bush's powers as Commander in Chief) have been speaking anonymously to the Washington Post about active issues dealing with the warrants in question. As McCarthy points out, this is a direct violation of the Judicial Canons (specifically, Canon 3, Section A.(6)), which prohibit public comment on a pending action. What makes this so egregious, as McCarthy states, is that these judges are commenting on the merits of the action - an action that directly relates to the security of this nation during a time of war.

As regular readers will attest, VOLuntarilyConservative (admittedly) suffered during my recent appointment with the State when I was under three different sets of Judicial Canons. You simply have to prohibit commenting on issues which may come before you, nor can you transmit statements that show bias towards one litigant. McCarthy is right - these judges are not fit to serve. Judging is a difficult occupation, but it does not seem that these individuals are up to the task. Their respective state licensing bodies might also be interested in their behavior.

Clarice Feldman at The American Thinker (in a letter picked up by The Rush Limbaugh Show) has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate and, if necessary, take the appropriate actions against these judges. Both Clarice and Andrew are absolutely on the money with their assessments.

For much more on these leaking judges, check out the Strata-Sphere.


Hilleary won't return guilty Abramoff funds

Blogging for Bryant has a great rundown of Van Hilleary's poor decision not to return tainted funds donated to him from the newly-guilty Abramoff.

Of course, you know that I am relishing the corrections of Hilleary spokeswoman/amateur election law expert Jennifer Coxe. I was once told that the golden rule of being a spokesperson was never speaking about something about which you know nothing. Apparently Coxe either never heard that advice or was given some really awful legal advice. Either way, it's just another notch in a campaign that is looking more bungled than Hilleary's 2002 bid.

By the way, how is that debate with Jane Fonda going, Van?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


On-line Witnessing and Writing about the Truth

In my Sunday School class at Immanuel Baptist, we often speak of how hard it is to witness to nonbelievers in the world, whether at work or other places. Ron Shank has a great post about a chance encounter with a person over instant messaging which turned into a witnessing opportunity.

As Ron shows, it's tough to do, but witnessing is always possible.

MORE: Jeff Harwell, who writes the always interesting SouthTennBlog, has a fantastic post regarding the truth and the theory of evolution. His argument is very well thought out and researched, exposing some of the incredible leaps that the judge in the Pennsylvania case (see here) had to make in order to justify his decision. Read the whole thing.

As some you may have noticed several days back, SouthTennBlog was added to the blogroll. Jeff's posts are always worth reading, and what he adds to the Tennessee blog community is needed. Plus, he's the only blogger I know in Taft, so that's got to count for something.


Letter on the Death of Libraries

I have long criticized politicians who keep trying to dump public finances into new libraries, because to me it seems like investing in Betamax VCRs or 8-track tape players. An interesting letter to the editor was published in the Vanderbilt Magazine's Fall 2005 edition that trumpets a different reason for the decline in libraries. I have copied it below:

There are two reasons why traditional libraries are dying: the American Library Association and librarians themselves [in reference to the feature article "The Infinite Library," Summer 2005 issue].

In the '60s, the ALA promoted the oversupply of recycled liberal-arts graduates who became librarians. These graduates soon learned that there were too many librarians and too few openings. The graduates also noticed that the ALA promoted alternative politics and lifestyles. Success was not Darwinian, as the best-connected rather than the fittest saw their careers advance.

Librarians who waited for the field to open up were further deceived by ALA propaganda, which downplayed the closing of schools of library science all over the United States. Now middle-aged librarians must retrain to make a realistic adjustment to the job market.

Joe Roberts, M.C.P.
Psychologist and former librarian

Quite interesting. I do agree on one thing - a conservative librarian who belongs to the ALA is no better than a conservative teacher who pays dues to the liberal NEA.


Prayer in the Indiana House

This has been an interesting story to watch unfold, as a federal court tries to tell a state legislative body how to conduct its business. However, unlike most state legislative bodies and spineless executives, the Indiana House looks like they are going to call the federal judge's bluff.

To no one's surprise, the power-hungry judge is a Clinton appointee. Much to my surprise, the bold legislators who are willing to defy the judge's injunction are Democrats, while the spineless all-talk-no-walk crowd is led by Indiana Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican. Family Research Council, which has been following the episode and lawsuit that resulted in the injunction, is supporting Bosma, wrongly in my view, and plans to let Bosma speak at Justice Sunday III.

Personally, I like what I am hearing from Terry Goodin, a Democrat serving in Indiana's House, who sees no point in praying in a context where mentioning Jesus Christ is prohibited:

"Really, who do you pray to? If you're offering up a prayer, you're praying to a deity. You don't offer prayers to just an open space. I will give the same type of prayer that's been given for 100 years. I won't change my words because of someone in the judicial branch who tells me I must."

What I love are the threats by the federal judge to insure compliance. What is he going to do - walk into the House and physically stop the legislators? The executive branch controls the enforcement mechanism, Your Honor, and your threats do nothing but escalate a possible constitutional crisis.

Call his bluff, Speaker Bosma, for the law and people are on your side.


Are All Elected Offices for Sale?

I am concerned about the hypocrisy of the mainstream media. They were instrumental in pushing through McCain-Feingold so that both you and I would not be able to exercise our First Amendment rights through financial support of political candidates, all in the name of taking the money out of politics.

So what does the media focus on in politics? MONEY! Give me a break! The vast majority of stories regarding the 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, for example, focus on fundraising. While I would love for my campaign to be well-funded (it certainly makes things easier), it doesn't have to be to win a statewide election (except perhaps in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, but those are the exceptions to the rule).

A case in point is the headline from The Tennessean today, "Millions Pour Into Senate Race." Sure, I guess it is interesting to political wonks like myself, but the average voter doesn't even know who the best-funded candidate (Bob Corker) is. In fact, the most recent numbers tend to show that nine-out-of-ten Tennesseans have no idea who Bob Corker is, despite his having spent over $1,000,000 in 2005 to increase his name recognition.

For us political wonks, though, there is a bit of news in the story. First, Ford and Corker both think that it will take $12 million apiece to run this race. You have got to be kidding. I tell you what, Bob. I could run your campaign for $2 million, and you could give that leftover $10 million to charity. I think you can learn enough of how a person will govern with your money in Washington, D.C., based on how they use their own money. Since most of such information is private, you can learn from how they run their campaign, which is public. If $12 million is what Ford and Corker think is an example of fiscal responsibility, then the label "tax-and-spend liberal" has to be dusted off for the two non-conservatives in the race.

Second, I have to give credit where credit is due. As regular readers of this site know, I am not a fan of Van Hilleary's minions, Jennifer Coxe and Brad Todd. In fact, I would rank some Democratic campaign workers... Well, I'm not going to go there today. In any case, Jennifer had a great line quoted in today's story:

"It seems as if Bob Corker is raising so much money from liberals and Democrats in Tennessee that Ford has had to go to his liberal friends outside of Tennessee to raise money."

Ain't that the truth! Nice zinger.

Sonny Scott, from the Bryant campaign, was not to be outdone, though:

"Bob is going to need that and two or three times more … in his strategy to spend millions of dollars to pretend he's something he's not."

Also true. Blogging for Bryant has been critical of reports that Bryant's fundraising might not be up to snuff. My feeling - so what if it is? Maybe I am an idealist, but there is a reason that I don't get involved in the fundraising aspects of campaigns. It simply isn't as important as everyone makes it out to be, and focusing on it like spending money is all that matters is somewhat against conservative values (which is probably why the non-conservatives are so intent on making fundraising what this campaign is about). I'm sorry, but a strong grassroots network, organization, endorsements, and issues will beat big money any day.

One final point - fundraising is important in the area of people getting out of the race. That isn't going to matter here. Van Hilleary is in the race, despite several conservatives (including myself) asking him not to be. Jeff Moder isn't getting out of this race. Ed Bryant is in this race until November. When I met with him prior to Thanksgiving in 2004, I was a bit concerned that Ed might not have the will to carry him through this extremely long campaign (which will be as long as any presidential campaign I have ever worked). After speaking with him recently, I have no doubts that a fire has been lit under Ed. Whether it was Van going back on his word not to run for the Senate or Corker's attempt to buy an elected political office, something has Ed ready campaign, and it has him ready to be the next U.S. Senator from the State of Tennessee.

The only candidate who might be getting out of the race due to lack of fundraising might be Rosalind Kurita. Her fundraising numbers are light, and I haven't seen much evidence that she is even campaigning over the past few months. With that one exception, though, the fundraising aspect is quite overblown.


A New Year. A New Adventure.

As I have intimated on this site over the past two months, changes are afoot in my career. Working for the State of Tennessee as it bungled the TennCare reform left a bad taste in my mouth, so, as October came to a close, I prayed for guidance as to where my wandering career path would lead. Amazingly, everything fell into place with surprising ease, and I am now the founder and sole attorney at The Huddleston Law Firm.

Established on November 9, 2005, I have a fantastic office at 213 E. Moody Avenue (about 100 yards from Chapman Highway, 1 mile south of the courts and Henley Street Bridge). The website domain name has been purchased, but the website is still in development. (I will link to the site off of VOLuntarilyConservative as soon as the firm site is ready, hopefully early next week.) Due to my employment with the State continuing until December 15th and the lease beginning on December 1st, the infrastructure of the firm has come together in one month. Happily, the first event at the firm was an organizational meeting hosted by Ed Bryant on December 17th (sadly, no pictures are available). While business is certainly slow right now, things fall into place a little each day.

There is a great deal to be said for owning your own business. With the exception of the National Rifle Association, I have always clashed with most business models, as most business rules and regulations were created by human resource folks and thus make little sense or are based on inefficient premises. (Nothing was more inefficient than the Tennessee Department of Human Services, which oversees the killing of the TennCare appellants, but more on that later.) Add to that vision my partaking in one of the most liberal professions in America, and the founding of my own firm was a natural progression. I certainly plan to expand in the future (a prosecutor in South Carolina, litigator in D.C., and a few associates at other firms in Knoxville come to mind as possible partners in The Huddleston Law Firm), but there is something to be said for running the show on my own for the time being.

Here’s a great example of why it is important to have independence. When the Bryant campaign consulted with me on a space to host a meeting, I initially didn’t believe my office capable of hosting such a function due a lack of adequate furniture in the conference room. I contacted my wife and asked if her firm would be interested in hosting a former congressman and several current officeholders for a brief meeting in one of their several conference rooms on that Saturday. Because there are a variety of political opinions and so many sources of input, they weren’t able to do so. I have no such limitations. I can also limit the practice so that I have time to work political campaigns. I don’t have to worry that putting out Christmas decorations will offend another partner, or that my choice of playing “The Legend of Johnny Cash” (available from Amazon.com through the links on the left sidebar) all day yesterday aggravated co-workers. The independence means more to me than the security of knowing where the next paycheck is coming from.

During my whirlwind founding of the firm, I came across several vendors who (ala Bill Hobbs) are begging for either praise or condemnation. First of these is Office Depot, who wasted approximately 19 hours of my time over one bookcase. The store on Broadway took over an hour to figure out that they didn’t have it, and the store in Alcoa – which had told the Broadway store that they had 3 bookcases – did likewise. Ordering the bookcase from OfficeDepot.com resulted in a delivery date of December 23rd. The case was delivered on December 29th. Needless to say, I am not eager to give Office Depot another chance at redemption, although the hour wasted at Staples in Alcoa and the poor customer service at the Cedar Bluff Staples limits my shopping possibilities somewhat.

The second vendor worth mentioning is SunTrust, which, if it weren’t for the free business checking, would be the ex-financial institution for The Huddleston Law Firm. From the misrepresentation as to the ease of achieving a Letter of Credit for my utilities deposit to the changing of the shipping address – three times! – to other random addresses, including one in Orlando, SunTrust has been nothing but one big headache. Registration for their online banking failed 5 times before a customer service representative was able to fix the problem. However, their customer service has also been awful, as they can perform one function one day but can’t perform it the next day. I’m not sure if the free checking is worth the amount of Aleve that I will have to use for doing business with SunTrust.

It hasn’t been all bad, though. Not in the least. I can do nothing but rave about the great service I have received from Gentile Moving Company (865-982-3062) and the various on-line auctions that I frequented (The University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University, and Knox County) and purchased various pieces of furniture and office equipment. BellSouth has also been quite helpful. Of course, no one has been more helpful than my parents and loving wife, who have offered help in many matters. I may be classified as a sole practitioner, but there is nothing solo about this team effort.

A new year. A new adventure. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Alito at the Murder Boards

Pejman over at RedState has read the reports of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's performance during the murder boards (mock congressional committee hearings where one who testifies before Congress is put through the ringer by lawyers playing the roles of specific senators) and is worried.

I think that Pejman should be worried about the hearings, but not for the reason that Alito may come off as Bork did. The two simply have different personalities, and Alito's will play better with the American people than an academic like Bork did. Pejman would be justified in being worried, though, because Republicans have recently lacked the spine to stand up against the opposition. (For an example, see Patriot Act debates, House Republicans.)


Sweet Victory

Since half of my blood has West Virginia roots, I naturally took great enjoyment in watching the West Virginia Mountaineers outplay, outsmart, and outlast the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl - on the Dawgs' own turf, no less.

C'mon, classless Dawg fans! Sing along!

Country road
Take me home
To the place
Where I belong!
West Virginia
Mountain Mama
Country road
Take me home...

Monday, January 02, 2006



I need to make two apologies to start off 2006.

First, I need to apologize to Georgiana Vines, political columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. I have been hard on Ms. Vines in the past, no more so than in a recent e-mail (referred to here) in which I accused her of pandering to Bob Corker and not giving Ed Bryant's and Van Hilleary's campaigns their due. I have since learned that the lack of coverage in the KNS wasn't as much Ms. Vines' fault as much as it was a disruption in the flow of information to Ms. Vines, who is not full-time at the KNS anymore. The discrepancy appears to be fixed, as seen by this recent column about Ed Bryant's recent visit to Knox County.

Second, I need to apologize to Michael M. Bates, whom I referred to as a "troglodyte" in a recent post regarding the ACLU. No, it appears that I am the dunce. I needed an example of recent coverage depicting the ACLU as a defender of religious freedoms when it actually is the primary assassin of them. A Google search resulted in Mr. Bates' column, which, upon reading the first half of the piece, seemed to fit the bill. Not being familiar with Mr. Bates' work, I was not aware that he was being satirical in his introduction. No, it appears that Mr. Bates is actually one of the good guys, and for calling him a troglodyte and painting him as one of the evil-doers, I apologize.

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