Friday, March 31, 2006


Arrest Warrant Issued for Congresswoman McKinney

Instapundit is reporting that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat from Georgia, is facing an arrest warrant from the Capitol Hill police.

I was interested to see if this would happen. McKinney, who has a history of erratic behavior, struck a member of the Capitol Hill police with her hand and cellphone earlier this week. To be honest, I was curious to see if they would let her slide on this. I guess not.

UPDATE: Heh. Donkey Cons actually predicted the McKinney meltdown 6 weeks ago. You gotta love it when the irrational Left becomes that predictable.


Tennessee Board of Elections Feeds Crisis in Knox and Shelby Counties

The latest word in the election crisis facing Knox and Shelby Counties is that State Election Chief Brook Thompson will not alter the ballots because we are within 40 days of the May election.

So what happens now? Well, under the system that is currently in place, the candidates who are still rightfully term-limited under the Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling this week will remain on the ballot and, in the tradition of write-in candidacies bombing like a CBS sitcom, more than likely win the popular vote. However, because of the decision, they will be disqualified. That will leave a select group of unelected politicos on each side of the aisle to choose who will represent the party in the general election.

The problem with this is that Thompson, who very well may be following protocol, has taken the power away from the people in a move that arguably may run afoul of federal law. This sets the stage for backroom deals that would make former Memphis Senator John Ford envious.

This presents a no-win situation for the county parties, too, because the odds of them choosing replacement candidates for the general election that make all of the various factions in the party happy is highly unlikely.

The upshot is that attorneys (of which I am one) who don't like the outcome may have a busy summer with these cases in state and/or federal court.

Is this how democracy works again? With a judicial decree upholding the will of the people but an executive board thwarting that will through adherence to a protocol that obviously wasn't meant for this situation, thus thrusting the entire controversy back into the courts after candidates are chosen for the voters by unelected kingmakers?

Buckle up, folks...


New Zogby Poll Shows Ed Bryant as Strongest Senate Candidate

The latest Zogby/Wall Street Journal poll shows Ed Bryant as the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in the best position to win the general election. Blogging for Bryant has the scoop.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Knox County Politics Gone Wild

As those who live in and around Knox County know by now, the Tennessee Supreme Court's (correct) decision that term limit laws passed by the people of a county are constitutional has created turmoil on the county political scene. The drama will take several days to play out, but it looks like 12 county commissioners will be removed from the ballot. That much looks certain. Where we go from there, though, is anyone's guess. Will Sheriff Tim Hutchison be removed from the ballot? (My bet would be yes.) Will qualifying petitions be accepted after the already-passed deadline, and, if so, when is the new deadline with the election just over a month away?

Stay tuned on this one, because it has the potential for getting ugly. My personal belief is that term limits are silly. Congressman Jimmy Quillen, who seemingly served the 1st District in Congress for hundreds of years, used to say that he faced term limits every two years, because it was the people who imposed the limit of his term. That is correct, and it matches my view. One need look no further than Knox County for the dichotomy. Term limits were enacted in 1994. They voted for these commissioners since that time, meaning that they wanted them term limited but, since that didn't work, they decided to keep voting for them.

Yeah, this is going to be interesting...

Dave Oatney has an interesting read. In the Comments, he states that he may run for a vacant seat if given the chance. Go encourage him.


More on Bestiality???

Bestiality must be a bigger problem than I imagined. First came yesterday's post regarding Washington's reaction to the growing problem in their state. Now comes word that Arizona is set to take up the issue - again.

I have to ask why Arizona's law that made bestiality illegal was repealed nearly 30 years ago. Did the pro-bestiality lobby convince state legislators that this was an infringement of their civil rights? Seriously, how did this happen?

Some of the testimony by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio before an Arizona House Committee is startling:

Arpaio said he was unaware of the gap until a recent incident involving a Mesa deputy fire chief accused of having sex with a sheep.

The sheriff said he decided as a matter of policy to reject applicants who had sex with animals — something he said shows up on polygraph tests — even though they technically were not breaking the law.

“We even have candidates for our jobs. We rule them out,’’ he said. “Why? Because of having sex with animals. It’s not as isolated as you may think it is.’’

Stunning. Simply stunning.


South Carolina Attempting to Expand Death Penalty

One of my best friends, a prosecutor in South Carolina, informed me Wednesday night that South Carolina was attempting to expand their version of the death penalty to include child molesters. He was of the opinion that it would have constitutional problems, if it is signed into law in the Palmetto State.

The law would allow for South Carolina prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases where a person is convicted twice of raping a child under the age of 11.

Regarding the constitutional question, that certainly is an issue. However, Louisiana has a similar law (although I believe their law sets the age limit at 12 year olds), and the Louisiana Supreme Court found that the law passed constitutional muster. That being said, that was a state court and not the federal system, where less predictable results may lie.

Turning from the issue of whether this could be implemented to whether it should be implemented, I am certainly for the most severe punishment for pedophiles. I read a recent case file in a local county only a few days ago that nearly made me physically ill due to the graphic nature of pedophilia.

However, what I would like to know is how South Carolina is managing its death row. How many murderers are sitting on their Death Row, and how long have they been there? I would only approve of expansion of the death penalty in these circumstances if the problems with its implementation (limiting of appeals, for instance) have been fixed in that state. If these issues have been addressed, then I have no problem with expanding the list of capital crimes, but legislators need to make sure that the system is solid before putting extra responsibility upon it.

UPDATE: Mark Rose has more on this topic.


Historic Night

I took Wednesday night as a night to relax and treated myself to some college baseball. Two of my alma maters - ETSU and UT - were scheduled to play, and I always make a point to attend at least one of the home-and-home games, either at Lindsey Nelson Stadium or at Cardinal Park in Johnson City. Although some of the games have been close (the 1995 contest at Cardinal Park which was won by UT 16-15 stands as one of the best games I have ever seen at any level), UT has certainly had the upper hand in this rivalry. In fact, I believe that ETSU has only bested the Vols five times in my lifetime, and two of those would have been before I was in kindergarten.

It's always difficult to pick who I am rooting for when ETSU and UT play. Generally, in baseball and basketball, I tend to pick my Bucs over my Vols. Even though I played tennis for ETSU, I tend to stick with the Vols in tennis contests because they at least give American players a chance, while ETSU chooses to impart the anyone-but-Americans philosophy that was the mantra of current Athletic Director Dave Mullins. On this night, though, I was cheering for the Bucs because of their historical underdog status and their need for a win.

I am shocked to admit this, but ETSU shouldn't have been the underdog upon further review. They are a better team that Tennessee. The Bucs hit better, field better, and compete better. They may even have a slight edge in coaching. Tennessee has the advantage in pitching (there simply isn't a James Adkins or Sean Watson for the Bucs), but that's about it.

The Bucs came away with a 9-8 victory - snapping a 12-game losing streak to the Vols - that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. UT scored runs on passed balls, dubious balk calls, incorrect fair balls down the line, and a few lucky swings. ETSU hit the ball better than UT and would have won by a larger margin if two of the Bucs' 4 pitchers hadn't had off nights. Joey McCown (5-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Bucs for the win, which is poetic justice given that McCown is a local product from Alcoa High School. McCown reminds me a great deal of fellow southpaw Clint Goocher, a pitcher for the Tennessee Smokies of the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. Steven Calicutt picked up his fifth save of the season by working out of a tough jam in the 8th and throwing a perfect four-pitch 9th.

UT will get it's shot at revenge next week in Johnson City. The Vols are scheduled to make the trip up I-81 next Wednesday, April 5th.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Bestiality Bill Passes in Washington

Those people who love their livestock - and I mean really love their livestock - will have to cross Washington off of their lists of favorite states. It appears that Washington will become the 37th state in the Union to make bestiality illegal. This bill quickly worked its way through the state legislature after a man died while having sex with a horse.

"On July 2, James Tait and the 45-year-old Seattle man went onto a neighbor's property to have sex with a horse, charging papers say. The Seattle man sustained a perforated colon and died from his injuries.

Tait, who authorities say helped run a nearby farm where people had sex with animals, pleaded guilty in November to criminal trespass.

He was given a one-year suspended sentence on condition he pay a $300 fine, perform eight hours of community service and have no contact with the owners of the horse in the incident.

The horse owners said police showed them a home video of the incident that investigators had seized from Tait's home. The couple identified their barn and horse."

I am beginning to see that "normal behavior" is in the decline, this conclusion coming from my work in the courts of Tennessee and through cases like this.

For those who are curious, Tennessee does not have an entire statute that deals specifically with bestiality. However, it is counted as one of the 37 states where bestiality is illegal due to T.C.A. Section 39-13-511, which counts bestiality as one of the crimes of public indecency punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor and a $500 fine. However, what is not clear is if the bestiality occurred in a private place (or, more specifically, in a place that fell outside of the definition of a public place in the statute) whether this would be illegal. Based on my reading, I would think that a prosecutor bringing such a charge would be in for an uphill battle.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Campfield, Krumm Look to Expose Corruption in Nashville

Bob Krumm has an excellent post that refers to Representative Stacey Campfield's account of shenanigans in a House committee.

That's one reason I love the idea of Krumm in the General Assembly, and, while I sometimes have trouble following his posts, Stacey Campfield is one of the best things that has happened to the State House in years. (I would have to lump Frank Niceley in that group, as well.)

They are intent at pulling back the curtain, showing citizens what is really going on with their government. And that's what this is all about - exposing the truth from those who work to hide it. Now some will say that there is no truth - MANY people in politics would subscribe to that belief - but such adherence to relativism is a falsity. Maybe it is the scientist in me that makes this so easy to distill, but there are facts in this world. These facts are beyond argument, and they are easily separated from opinions.

If a vote was taken with only 10 people in the room and there was no process that allowed voting by proxy, it isn't possible for 12 votes to be cast. If a person said something and it was recorded on a non-doctored tape, then it can be proved that those statements were made by that person. If a person sat at a table or wore a certain dress or shook a person's hand, then those things happened. They didn't happen in degrees - they happened.

This isn't to say that there aren't opinions out there or that spin doesn't occur. It most certainly does. However, it is this person's opinion that such spinning is only done to hide the truth, and, therefore, it is this person's opinion that spin does not accomplish any public service. When a set of statistics is manipulated to the point it is meaningless for the sake of rescuing a candidate's recessive campaign, for example, what good is done?

I applaud Bob Krumm and Stacey Campfield for their efforts. I love Bob's quote of Scripture, but since I am a King James man myself:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)


White House Chief of Staff Andy Card Resigns

The AP is reporting that Andy Card, who has served as the White House Chief of Staff since President Bush's first inauguration, has tendered his resignation and that President Bush has accepted Card's request. Josh Bolten, Deputy Chief of Staff and former head of the Office of Management and Budget, will replace Card.

Card was one of the hardest working men in the White House, and the very nature of the job makes it grueling no matter how many hours you put in. His service of over five years makes his tenure one of the longest in history. I wish him well and recognize his service to this country.

The press will attempt to connect this move with President Bush's sagging poll numbers, and while that may have been motivation for the move, we truly will never know what the real motivations were behind Card's actions. He might have just had enough of the job. We'll really never know.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Alabama Legislators Look to Ban Abortions

Multiple bills have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature that would ban abortions in that state except in the case where a mother's life is at stake. Republican Senator Hank Erwin admitted that South Dakota's leadership influenced his bill:

"I thought if South Dakota can do it, Alabama ought to do it because we are a family friendly state."

However, the Alabama legislative year is almost over, and the Democrats have solid control of both houses of the Legislature. This was more posturing than anything, but it's at least a nice thought.


Bashman: Tennessee "Choose Life" License Plates Likely to Lose in U.S. Supreme Court

Howard Bashman, who generally uses his blog to briefly comment on particularly interesting appellate cases, has written a thorough expose on the split circuit opinions regarding "Choose Life" license plates. In the end, Bashman predicts that SCOTUS will take up the case and overturn the Sixth Circuit.

Of course, most pundits believed that the Sixth Circuit would side that way, too.


Pickering: Half of Those Approached Say No to Federal Judicial Nominations

Judge Charles Pickering, who saw his own nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals derailed by obstructionist Democrats in the U.S. Senate, has an interesting column in Sunday's Washington Times. Pickering proposes a federal constitutional amendment related to the role of the judiciary. Possibly more importantly, Pickering believes that the constitutional amendment itself is a victim of an activist judicial system.

It's worth a read.


Sullivan County Lincoln Day Dinner

I had the pleasure of attending the Sullivan County Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner on Saturday night at the Meadowview Convention Center. I have always had a fondness for this particular dinner due to the fact that I was born in Sullivan County, graduated from Sullivan East High School not too awful long go, and both of my parents still work in there (by the way, for those who have asked, my father is doing quite well, as the motorcycle took the worst of the injury). While it usually draws a good crowd, this years' version seemed to be a bit bigger - probably in the 585-605 range.

This is probably one of the better run events in the area. However, there seemed to be a problem with seating assignments at some tables, but I don't have the specifics on that. When I arrived, I was immediately welcomed by some of the Corker campaign staff, a few of whom I had spoken with at various other events. They were quite cordial, as they have been throughout the campaign stops.

The beginning of the event was spent mingling with the various candidates for local, state, and federal office in the foyer. I spoke with Tennessee Representative David Davis, who is running for the retiring Bill Jenkins' seat in Congress. We chatted for a few minutes about how the campaign was treating him and whose endorsements he had picked up thus far. He seemed to be in a confident and excited yet controlled mood that night, which is important for David. He needs to take that excitement to the trail, because his voting record is approvingly conservative, and he has been a steady force for the people of Washington County (of which I was one until recently) for nearly a decade. I'm not talking "Van Hilleary excitement" or "Harold Dean excitement," just "Ed Bryant excitement" or "Bill Jenkins excitement" - controlled but inspiring.

I spoke with many others in the foyer - mostly people with whom I have worked with on campaigns in the past or know from the current Senate campaign. Ed Bryant made his way over to see me and thanked me for coming. I moved into the ballroom as seating commenced. That was when I ran into former Johnson City mayor Vance Cheek, who is (like Davis) a candidate for the 1st District seat in Congress. Vance is better known to bloggers as the man behind "Conservatore Pensieri." Vance introduced me to his family and campaign team, and we spoke about the race. Vance has a bubbly personality that will certainly help him on the campaign trail, but he also has connections to both the Sundquist and Bredesen administrations that might not sit well with some in the First District, where neither former governor is very popular. I'm not saying that Vance has done anything wrong or is related to scandals in either administration, but there is always the worry of guilt by association in primaries where all of the candidates are good men. Vance told me to look for an announcement this week regarding his campaign.

I then worked the room for a bit as I made my way to my table. For the record (and in stark opposition to the strange charges of table purchasing by TeamGOP's Jeff Ward), I saw only one table purchased for Van Hilleary, one for Ed Bryant, and two for Bob Corker. Since there were possibly 60 tables set up for the event, the tables bought for the candidates, staff, and supporters weren't anything like I have seen in the past when a straw poll was being conducted (and certainly in opposition to some of the dubious straw polls that have been conducted at some Middle Tennessee events over the past 2 months).

I sat at table #20 with several Ed supporters. Ed was invited to sit with Don Hill, the Kingsport auto dealer and a force in 1st District politics since my infancy. I spotted Bob Corker, who wasn't working the room very hard prior to dinner, but that has been Bob's style at many of these events. He tends to work people after the event as they leave, which is also an effective strategy for a candidate. Plus, as I would find out later, this was to his advantage as his rivals were going to make a bold move later that evening.

Earlier in the week, I had discussed with a friend the quandary of having three Lincoln Day Dinners in three different parts of Tennessee at nearly the same time. I told him that I bet one of the candidates would try to hit at least two and possibly all three of the events. This was with considerable risk, of course. For one, you have transportation problems that could crop up and jeopardize the whole evening (more on that and Senator Allen later). You also have the potential of looking rushed and having two or three bad events as opposed to one good one. So, there was risk. I was right, too, in that two candidates tried the feat of being in multiple places at once.

The program begin with Sullivan County Party Chairman Jason Booher making a few announcements. Tennessee Rep. Jason Mumpower then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and gave the invocation. In a move I found surprising, Tennessee Rep. Steve Godsey, who is leaving the House to run for Sullivan County Mayor, sang Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." For some reason, there is always singing at Sullivan County and Washington County Lincoln Days, and I have yet to really understand that. It took some guts on Godsey's part to do that, because he isn't exactly Lee Greenwood. In fact, after his piano performance in Memphis, I guess I could say that Godsey isn't exactly Lamar Alexander, either. In either case, Godsey showed a lot of guts in what was a packed house. It was about this time that Van Hilleary walked into the room. I learned later that Van had been at the very beginning of the Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner.

The three U.S. Senate candidates then spoke. Ed Bryant led off first, giving a speech that centered upon fiscal responsibility, immigration reform, and those who were supporting him. Ed then apologized to the crowd for having to excuse himself, but he had a plane to catch. It turns out that Ed was scheduled to speak at the Montgomery County Lincoln Day (which is the 7th District that he represented in Congress for 8 years) at 9:30 Central Time. Ed's staff that was present was surprisingly calm given the circumstances, and it turns out that they were right to be, as Ed arrived in Clarksville in time to give his speech.

Bob Corker then spoke, and if you've heard his stump speech, then you've heard what he said in Sullivan County. The speech centered on his four conservative principles, but it came off a bit rehearsed. At least it seemed that way to me. Of course, it could have been that a few of us at my table thought it was rehearsed because we managed to give Bob's speech for him. It's a bit odd that a candidate who has been able to change positions on nearly every important issue to Tennesseans has such a hard time varying his stump speech. Strange... Apparently everyone else wasn't that interested, either, because it appeared that most people were paying more attention to their salads than to the speaker at the podium.

Van Hilleary then took his turn at the podium. Van's speech was not so much "hellfire and brimstone" as he has done in the past, but his off-the-cuff remarks did raise a few eyebrows. Of particular note, Van started off by saying that Knox County Republicans were "very rude" in their hosting of a Lincoln Day Dinner that evening. Uh, what? Did he really just say that? I admit that it was bad timing for Knox County to have it that day, but "very rude?" I looked to Van to see if he was joking or kidding around. No smile. No chuckle. The Bryant supporter to my left, herself a veteran of political campaigns, leant in and said, "I wonder how Knox County is going to take that." It was about this time that I began to remember why Van lost Knox County in 2002. The rest of Van's speech centered on social issues that had been decided by the judicial system (gay marriage, prayer in school, the Ten Commandments, etc.), but he had a hard time tying that in to the legislative post which he is seeking.

Dinner was then served. Van worked the room for a few minutes before excusing himself for his flight to Montgomery County. (For more on Montgomery County reactions, check out Blogging for Bryant.) I certainly give the Sullivan County GOP credit - serving steak on the "rubber chicken circuit" will insure much repeat business in years to come.

It was about this time that we learned that Senator George Allen, the keynote speaker, would not be able to attend due to plane trouble coming out of New Hampshire. (Gee, I wonder why he would be in New Hampshire? Heh heh.) However, Senator Allen was able to address the crowd via cellphone. It was pretty interesting, but nothing beats the real thing.

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey then spoke about state issues and his belief that he will be Lieutenant Governor after the November elections. In one of the funnier lines of the night, Ramsey remarked that John Wilder may have convinced two Republicans to break ranks, awarding him the position of Lt. Gov., but, "I know his age, and time is on my side." Ramsey then introduced Congressman Bill Jenkins.

In one of the headlines of the evening, Congressman Jenkins certainly left the door open for a run for Governor against Phil Bredesen. It was the most optimistic I have heard Bill about this possibility since the announcement of his retirement from Congress several weeks back. After the speeches were over and the audience dismissed, I was able to speak with Congressman Jenkins for about 5 minutes. I told him that he had friends all over this state who would do our best to elect him. I told him that he was in a wonderful position with nothing to lose but everything to gain. I told him that Bredesen was obviously worried about his scandal-ridden Administration because he was trying to raise money against a fictional opponent. Bill respectfully listened, and then he asked, "Do you think I could take my $5 million and beat his $20 million?" I responded, "Heck, Congressman Jenkins, you could take your $2 million and beat his $20 million." He smiled at that. I wished him well and prayed that God would guide him during this time.

Before we were dismissed, the results of the straw poll were announced. As has been published previously, they were as follows:

Ed Bryant - 189 votes
Bob Corker - 152 votes
Van Hilleary - 125 votes
Undecided - 32 votes

Obviously, the Bryant camp was ecstatic with the results. The Corker people were saddened. However, at least they didn't make excuses. I overheard Meredith Hilleary, Van's wife and one of my favorite people in Tennessee politics, saying that Van hadn't performed well because they didn't take the poll seriously and weren't organized. That might be true, but I guess it is all relative. Ed Bryant and Bob Corker were organized, but not overly so. There was no bussing in of teenagers (as Van has done in the past) to stack the voting or buying of dozens of tables. Bryant and Corker simply put forth the right amounts of effort that you would expect at any of the bigger Lincoln Day Dinners in this state. They had tables out front with campaign literature, staff members working those tables, and people passing out stickers in the foyer. One of the saddest moments had to have been when I left the event. Van's table, which was closest to the door, had no one staffing it and, thus, no one around it despite the very nice pamphlets stacked there. My friend remarked that this was "so sad," and I agreed as I looked back at the Bryant table and Corker table, which were still staffed and still campaigning for their respective candidates.

On that note, I should like to think that my theory about Corker's infiltration into Tennessee journalists should be deemed credible. This is in part due to the person managing Corker's campaign table at that time - Ron Scalf. I know Ron from his days at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he now is a journalist for The Valley Beautiful Beacon. In fact, he is the chief reporter, editor, and publisher of that publication. I thought it strange when I read the one-sided article on Mr. Corker from February that was written by Mr. Scalf. At the time, I remarked that it was so untruthfully positive on Corker that it might as well have been written by Corker's campaign staff. Apparently, that was the case. Maybe this will serve as a challenge for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, because I don't know of any of their reporters or editors who have actually campaigned for Bob Corker at an event, instead choosing to do so in print. Maybe they will step up to the challenge... (In all fairness, though, I thought Georgiana Vines' column in today's KNS regarding the Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner was quite neutral.)

I then made my way towards the foyer. Before I got there, I was approached by a member of Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable's campaign staff, who pointed out that the county mayors of nearly every surrounding county had sat with Mr. Venable, who is also running for the 1st District seat against Davis and Cheek. He also pointed out that Venable had busses parked out front with massive campaign signs on them, which I had noticed walking in. There is no doubt that Venable will be well-financed in his bid, that is for sure.

On my way to my car, I was told via cellphone from one of my sources at the Knox County Lincoln Day that nearly 400 people attended and that the number of Ed Bryant stickers on lapels was equal to the number of Bob Corker and Van Hilleary stickers - combined. Having looked at the election results over the past few years, this doesn't surprise me. Ed Bryant will run much stronger in Knox County than some of the pundits believe.

Overall, it was one of the more fun Lincoln Day Dinners I have attended in the past few years. Of course, it is always better when your candidate wins, and it's always nice to have a good steak when you get the chance. I would like to thank everyone who played a part in getting me back to the county of my youth, especially the Sullivan County GOP. I will provide any extra tidbits I left out as they come to me.

UPDATE: I almost forgot - Shirley Ward, TFRW President and mother of TeamGOP's Jeff Ward, sat at Van's table. I was told that she requested to speak, but that request was kindly denied because there was some concern that her talk might be - how to put this - not quite neutral regarding the Senate race. Now, I have to say that this was unconfirmed by me and heard secondhand, but I thought it interesting. I intended to speak to Ms. Ward about that very issue and also a phone message that had been e-mailed to me that she had left on someone's answer machine in Middle Tennessee, but I was unable to do so. Too many people, not enough time...

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Big Day for the GOP in Tennessee

Senators, Senators everywhere...

No matter where you live in the Volunteer State, there is likely a Lincoln Day Dinner with a powerful United States Senator within easy driving distance.

The big event taking place in East Tennessee is in Sullivan County, where Senator George Allen will deliver the keynote with U.S. Senate candidates Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, and Bob Corker also expected to attend. (I know Ed will be there, but I am only going on secondhand information regarding the other two.)

Knox County is also holding their Lincoln Day Dinner, with Senator Saxby Chambliss delivering the keynote. I have a few sources that will be attending this event, as I will be in Kingsport, so I should know if anything noteworthy occurs in Knoxville.

Last but certainly not least is Montgomery County, which should have a good crowd at their Lincoln Day Dinner. Scheduled speakers include Senator Lamar Alexander and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, along with several members of the Tennessee General Assembly. Also, you can meet Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Raymond Brown, who has advised me that he will be in Clarksville for the event.

To quote Big & Rich, "Fun times for everyone."

Friday, March 24, 2006


How Fancy Do You Want Your Senator?

So, would you like to delve into the Harold Ford, Jr. Campaign? Nathan Moore has the key. Some aspects you may disapprove of. Others... Well, you might approve of if you are a guy. Let's just say that.

Congressman Ford, you're just too fancy for me.

UPDATE: But you're not too fancy for Sarah Jessica Parker, best known as the worst actress of the four women who starred in "Sex and the City." Parker is hosting a high-profile fundraiser for Ford in NYC. However, this isn't Parker's first dalliance into politics. As TeamGOP points out in a must-read article, Parker has a long history of ultra-liberal political assistance, especially for pro-abortion causes.

After you read a laundry list of liberalism like Parker's and you connect her to Ford, you just have to wonder who the liberal mainstream media thinks it is fooling with all of the claims of Ford's conservatism.


BATFE Again Acting Outside the Law?

Folks, I have read and been told many stories about the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), and it has become apparent to me that this administrative agency intentionally acts below the radar (as compared to high-profile FBI and NSA investigations) because they have a habit of circumventing the law.

I also believe that BATFE agents in general have 1) very active imaginations and 2) a brazen attitude that "the law be damned."

A friend of SayUncle is finding this out the hard way. In order, see here, here, and here.

Now I know nothing of this case, and maybe Scoot was making or possessed machine guns and this isn't a case of a bitter retaliatory ex-wife that the BATFE treated as if she spoke The Gospel. However, in my experience, people with knowledge of firearms laws tend to line-up in the following order:

1) NRA Office of the General Counsel
2) NRA Affiliated Attorneys
3) Gun Enthusiasts
4) U.S. Attorneys
5) BATFE Agents

Guys like Scoot and SayUncle have knowingly raised their profile through their Internet presence. They know they are subject to increased scrutiny, and they tend to act cautiously because of that.

If I am ever elected to Congress, one of my first acts would be to introduce a bill that completely defunds the BATFE. In my experience, they serve no purpose but to harass and handicap the civil liberties of Americans - certainly much more than any wiretap program that focuses on a foreign terrorist on the other end of the telephone line.

UPDATE: The list I provided is in no way a slap on U.S. Attorneys, by the way. In fact, it is a tribute of sorts. Those fine men and women have to prosecute cases in the panacea of the entire U.S. Code. That I consider them being more knowledgeable than the BATFE, which has a restricted subject-matter of concern, is actually quite a complement.


Laughing at Liberals

First, you have to laugh at the timing of the study released yesterday regarding the melting of the polar ice caps by the environmental crowd. It's hard to take them seriously when, on the fifth day of Spring, March 25th, in Knoxville, Tennessee, it is snowing. Plus, it is supposed to snow tomorrow at the NASCAR race in Bristol - for the second year in a row.

Second, if you get a chance to catch a re-run or Internet-based version of Harold Ford, Jr. on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning, I highly recommend it. It's kind of like Bob Corker's interview with Gene Patterson a week back. The hosts in both cases came out as more able representatives than the candidates themselves. Now that's funny. Ford was run over by the three co-hosts this morning, and it showed as the interview played out, especially on the ports issue, where he looked like a deer caught in the headlights when one host pointed out that this was a deal for administrative operations and had nothing to do with port security.

In Corker's case last week, he just stuck to his script and managed to answer very few of Patterson's questions. I am a bit disappointed that Gene didn't ask more follow-up questions (perhaps he figured that Corker would keep on bobbing-and-weaving to avoid having to answer them), but Corker still came off badly. So, like their campaigns, I encourage you to watch those videos of Ford and Corker, and to ask yourself the following question: are these two men ready to undertake the serious responsibility of representing our great state in the United States Senate?


Immigration Update

Illegal immigration has been a hot topic this week. The Senate Democrats are doing everything in their power (mostly in Senate Judiciary) to halt any meaningful reform regarding the estimated 12 million illegals that have already crossed into our borders. It is amazing that the Democratic Party sees this is an opportune time to play politics instead of protecting our national security. I'm sure that the American people - especially in the South, where this issue carries much more weight - will remind them of such in the upcoming elections.

On a related note, Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform sent me the following message yesterday regarding how our neighbors to the south are handling the immigration issue at the state level. I thought it prudent to post this for all to read.


Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform

The big Georgia demagnetization bill, SB 529, passed the Georgia House today, Thursday, 123-51. It had already passed the Senate. The bill now returns to the Senate to reconcile changes made in the House, including an amendment to tax remittances (wire transfers of money to foreign countries) by illegal aliens.

The bill would curb taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens and stop/regulate the employers who hire them.

This bill is not everything we want, but it is major and represents many years of effort by Georgia immigration-control activists. After I moved from Georgia, I continued to help our associates there as I could. I sent information and encouragement to the sponsor of this bill, state Sen. Chip Rogers. He used to be a radio talk-show host, I believe. Rogers had the will and persistence to see this through and sought input from many people.

Rogers made some changes to his original bill. Now, in the employee verification section of the Georgia bill, farmers would not be financially penalized if their crew chiefs hired illegal workers. Farmers who need labor often hire crew chiefs who act as subcontractors, sometimes recruiting workers who are unlawfully in the country. That is one area of compromise (in response to agribusiness lobbyists) that dilutes the original bill. Rogers made other changes to his bill, some I can understand, some I think he should have resisted. He made changes he thought were fair and necessary in order to pass as much of the original bill as he could.

The bill's value to Tennessee is as a model, an incentive, and a source of inspiration and encouragement for our lawmakers. I hope the one we get -- someday; it probably won't be this year -- will be tougher.

Donna Locke

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Midday Lagniappe

Due to the use of some mobile technology, I am able to post a potpourri of topics - a bonus post, if you will.

Well, back to court...


Job Duties

I'll be in court most of the day, but I hope to elaborate on Dick Armey's visit to Knoxville and post photos of the SRLC this evening.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Bryson Bill Would Limit Government Growth

Some in the Blogosphere, including Bob Krumm, are abuzz over State Senator Jim Bryson's bill that would tie government growth to Tennessee's overall economy and population growth. Bob acknowledges the problem in a fantastic line:

"Vampires have their stakes and werewolves have their silver bullets, but there is nothing man has yet devised that can kill a government program."

I agree, but isn't it a sad day when we get excited about limiting growth? What about real government cuts, not cuts in spending? State Senator Jamie Woodson and I spoke of this recently, how it has grown to be par for the course to speak of "cuts" when what we are really talking about is limited growth. The only thing that is being cut is the rate of increase, not a decrease like most of the public would associate with a "budget cut." We need true budget cuts - not this phony-baloney masquerade that only cuts increased spending - in order to control government spending.

I don't wish to belittle Senator Bryson's efforts, though, as he does face opposition to even this modest proposal. In fact, you would think that Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke was going to have to foot the bill himself, with all of the howling he is doing. Lots has been made about the fake conservatives in D.C. who won't stand up to expanding government, but, when it comes time to place your vote in the ballot box, you need to put that in perspective because the Democrats are even worse.


Pope: Not Running For 1st District Seat

As I predicted here long ago, Anne Pope will not run for Congress in 2006, choosing to stay in her capacity as Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission instead of seeking the 1st District seat being vacated by the retiring Bill Jenkins.

Anne - whether she remembers it or not - was influential in my entry into the political arena, even when I was supporting Jenkins for Congress as her opposition in 1996. We had a frank talk about the duties of citizens to serve their government, and her words have stuck with me over the past decade.

This development isn't surprising at all. What is surprising is that the list of those who aren't running - including Pope, Ron Ramsey, and myself - seems to be growing faster than the list of candidates. David Davis, Vance Cheek, and Richard Venable have announced their candidacies, and I have heard that former Johnson City Mayors Pete Paduch and Bill Breeding, as well as former Jenkins Chief of Staff Jeff Anderson, may enter the race within the next week. All candidates face the upcoming April 6th deadline for qualifying petitions, so the field will be set soon. If things go as planned, I should have an endorsement in this race - as well as many others - in the near future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


New Book: Donkey Cons

I received my copy of "Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party" today via UPS. It looks like a fascinating read, and at only 229 pages, it should be a fairly quick read. If life is good to me this week, I hope to have a review up by the end of the weekend.


"Castle Doctrine" Coming to Tennessee?

Adam Groves reports that the "Castle Doctrine," a measure that extends the rights to self-defense in one's home, was heard in both the Tennessee House and Senate today. The NRA has made no secret that it would like to see the "Castle Doctrine" in as many states as possible, especially after Florida gave it the OK a few months back.

New Republican Senator Don McCleary (seen below with U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant on the night in February when McCleary joined the Republican Party) introduced the bill.


The Silly Nature of Pollfixers

You really can't put much stock in polling. If you put much stock in Internet polling that allows for you to vote multiple times, there probably isn't much hope for you.

A case in point is an interactive poll put up in the past day or so from The Herald & Tribune, a newspaper in Washington County. I was made aware of this poll last night around 10:30 P.M. I cast my vote just to see how the results were going, and it showed Ed Bryant with 52%, Van Hilleary with 48%, and Bob Corker with 0%. There were about 2100 votes cast, which is a bit high I should think.

My curiosity sparked, I checked back in 30 minutes. Now the poll read Van Hilleary with 51%, Ed Bryant with 49%, and Bob Corker still with 0%. There were now 2356 votes cast. Something was rotten in Denmark. I started watching the poll numbers click off, and I was able (with some help from a friend) to determine that 99% of the hundreds of votes cast in the next half an hour span were for Van Hilleary, those votes were coming at a clip that couldn't be reproduced with one user, and those votes were coming from the same Middle Tennessee server. However, whomever in Van's camp that thought it was important enough to spend the time doing so had succeeded, pushing Van to a whopping 54-46 lead over Ed Bryant.

The Corker camp became aware of the poll and their embarrassing 0% standing this morning. (They were probably asleep or counting money last night.) They have now pushed Corker to 25% in a matter of hours, and, again, all of the litany of votes are coming from the same server, this time in Chattanooga. Over 1000 votes have been cast this morning, and I dare say, having lived in Washington County for many years, that The Herald & Tribune's website has never seen so much traffic.

Memo to those on the Corker and Hilleary payrolls - if you were out meeting the people of Tennessee and convincing them to vote for your candidate instead of trying to rig Internet polls, your candidate might stand a chance. Well, maybe not, given that Corker is even called a "progressive" (read: liberal) by his own supporter, Congressman Zach Wamp, and Van Hilleary doesn't have the actual grassroots support to win this Senate race (and by actual grassroots support I mean the kind that directs elections, not the kind that is bussed into Lincoln Day Dinner straw polls). But at least your candidates would have a better shot at winning the only poll that matters in August, and it won't be held on the Internet.


Cool Political Fundraisers

First, AlphaPatriot has word of a cool fundraiser for Austin Farley, Republican candidate for Tennessee's 97th District House seat. This is thinking outside of the political box, and it's a shame that more candidates don't host events like this, especially in East Tennessee.

Second, I have word of a non-fundraiser (although I am sure that any sizeable donation would be appreciated) here in Knoxville. This one is for businessmen and businesswomen who would like to participate in a Business Leaders' Roundtable Discussion with Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and 2006 U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant. The event is here in Knoxville at Club LeConte during lunch on Wednesday (March 22nd). If I can stretch my schedule, I will be there. The chance to hear Armey - the principal behind the 1994 "Contract With America" - and Bryant together is just too good to pass up. If you are interested in the event, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment on this post.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Novak: Gore Serious about 2008

Just in case you missed it, Bob Novack reported on Saturday that Al Gore, failed 2000 Presidential candidate who has been sporadically off of his meds since that time, not only will run in 2008, but that Gore would outraise Hillary Clinton by staying to her Left.

Gore, Clinton, Dean. I'm telling ya', the fight for the Democratic nomination might be a better reality show than "The Amazing Race."


More on the ACLU and License Plates

Glen Dean is all over this story, as seen here, here, and finally here.

You've got to love the hypocrisy of the ACLU. They're for religious freedom, except when Christianity is involved. They are against censorship in the schools, unless a child is trying to read The Bible. Now they are against special license plates, unless a pro-homosexual message is on them.

Very principled, ACLU. No wonder real libertarians like Nat Hentoff left your sorry organization.


Republican Lies

Lynn Sebourn, whom I met at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, has the results of the budget vote from last week.

Where have all of the conservatives gone? Are there any left in the Congress?


Movie Review: V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta.

H for Homosexuality.

S for So Disappointing.

The VOLConWife and I managed to take a break from what turned out to be a tough week in retrospect and catch the film V for Vendetta this past Friday night at the Pinnacle 18. The film itself is set around a terrorist-vigilante that is enamored with Guy Fawkes and his attempt in 1605 to blow up Parliament in London, so, given the time I lived in Britain, I was naturally curious about the film.

Unlike several of the critics that have panned the film, I was able to get past some of the pacing difficulties that make this film jump like a 1968 Dodge Dart with a bad clutch and water in the tank. What I did have a problem with, though, was that very few films show so much departure from the original writing than V. It was so obvious that someone had taken Alan Moore's novel and hacked the bejezzus out of it to fit the second author's political agenda. (After researching the topic, that is exactly what happened, to the tune of Moore disassociating himself from the movie and demanding that his name be pulled from the credits.)

The result is a film that could have been about freedom and overthrowing tyranny was instead a political piece aimed at anti-American and pro-homosexual sentiments. I actually was able to enjoy the movie for what it was until a completely unnecessary flashback scene to non-characters and their hardships due to their homosexual love affair. (I thought the VOLConWife was walking out of the theater at this point - it was a good thing that I bought her the large Diet Coke to weigh her down so that she didn't bolt for the door.) The writing was so different at this point and so superfluous to the plot that it was apparent that this was an indoctrination and not entertainment. The rest of the movie could not rescue the sagging and predictable plot from this point on.

Overall, I give V for Vendetta a 5.4 out of 10. Since it is the only movie that I have seen at the theater this year, it gets the #1 ranking for 2006 by default. However, with several good movies coming out in the next few months, it will be unlikely that V ends up in the top 10 for the year.

One of those movies that I would not characterize as "good" and worth seeing would be The Shaggy Dog. Nancy has a short review on that lovely film. Well, actually her husband David does, which raises some questions by Donkey Cons and a questioning of David's blogging manhood. Ouch...

MORE: Blake Wylie has a pre-review of V for Vendetta up at NashvilleFiles. He is promising a proper post-review later. I have a feeling that we have different opinions regarding this movie, though.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Friday Rant of the Day

This was an easy choice - Donkey Cons goes off on a whining liberal.

Of course, the source of his ire probably doesn't understand his criticism, more than likely because she probably doesn't understand such concepts of personal responsibility and individual consequences. They tend to beat that out of you at UT-Austin and Harvard Law. However, as Mr. McCain would probably agree from his post, they can always remedy such things at the University of Parris Island.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Harris Stays in Florida Senate Race

Surprisingly and against the stern recommendation of the gang at RedState, Congresswoman Katherine Harris announced late Wednesday that she was staying in the race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat incumbent Ben Nelson. The latest independent polling has Harris trailing by more than 20 points.

I agree with RedState. Harris is making a big mistake - both personally and for the GOP - by staying in this race. It was apparent to this pundit from Harris' early appearances on Hannity and O'Reilly that she was not going to come close to winning against a vulnerable Nelson. This has little to do with the issues and more to do with the candidate. Harris has seemed awkward at best this election cycle, and questions regarding her campaign haven't helped things. Of course, the White House assisted the Florida GOP early on to clear the field of any other Republican challengers to Harris, so I guess there is plenty of blame to go around for this colossal blunder.


Twisting In the Wind

Want to see how lawyers - in this case, a law professor - can manipulate the law to say whatever it is that they want? Check out this exchange before the Maryland Senate on the Religion Clause blog, where the anti-religion professor uses the Free Exercise Clause to argue against a gay marriage amendment.

Now that's a new twist...


The Little Things

This week has been difficult, as I chronicled earlier. Several cases have taken interesting turns, as well, so my blogging time has been cut significantly while my stress level has risen exponentially. However, it still amazes me how little things can help out during trying times. I just spent over an hour on the phone with my friend Ryan, a prosecutor in South Carolina. More specifically, he lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the hometown of UT's first opponent in the NCAA Tournament. We just talked basketball for nearly an hour. So far, that was the highlight of my week. That may say something about my week, but it also shows how little things can bring so much more joy than one could reasonably expect.

On a completely unrelated note, I have been contacted by one of the more prominent MSM journalists to acknowledge this site, Robert Stacy McCain, the Assistant National Editor for The Washington Times. Mr. McCain has a blog, Donkey Cons, that pulls no punches against the Democrats. Mr. McCain pointed me to a post regarding "Fancy Ford" which readers may find interesting. It should also be noted that Mr. McCain and his co-blogger, Lynn Vincent of WORLD Magazine, have a book coming out entitled (not surprisingly), "Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime and Corruption in the Democratic Party." I have added it to the top of the Amazon links to the left, so feel free to pre-order at your leisure.

Geez, between this book and so many other excellent reading selections to come this year, including Nancy French's "A Red State of Mind," I might have to start making a little more money at this whole law thing (as well as donating my time to various campaigns).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


A Tough Start to the Week

So, why haven't I provided the updates that I said I would on Saturday?

Well, it's been a tough week. The VOLConWife is sick as a dog (actually, the dog is much healthier than she is), my father was in a motorcycle accident while I was in Memphis, and I returned home to find my PC on the fritz. After a call to The Undecided Philosopher, it was concluded that my power supply had failed. Four trips to Best Buy later, I am now back on-line, with a new power supply and new keyboard (which also apparently blew when the power supply failed). Hopefully, this will be the last technical failure this week, because they have been coming in waves thus far.

I will have loads more later on tonight, but I have to tend to my firm until then.

MORE: If you have sent me an e-mail or left a voice mail, I promise that I will get back to you ASAP. I have over 150 non-junk e-mails to sift through, but I will try to do that as quickly as possible.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Day 2 - SRLC - 8:31 P.M. CST

More on the SRLC will follow tomorrow, including some pictures late in the day after we return to Knoxville.

Stay tuned...


BREAKING: Frist Wins Straw Poll; Romney Takes Second in Upset

Here are the results of Hotline’s Straw Poll from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference:

Bill Frist 36.9%
Mitt Romney 14.4%
George Allen 10.3%
John McCain 4.6%
Mike Huckabee 3.8%
Sam Brownback 1.5%
Rudy Guiliani 1.1%
George W. Bush 10.3%
Condi Rice 2.2%

1427 votes were cast. Out of his vote total, 81.7% of Frist’s votes came from Tennessee voters. Out of all voters from Tennessee, 42% chose a candidate besides Senator Frist.

A spokesman for Senator Frist, Eric Ueland, told reporters after the announcement of the results that Senator Frist was gratified for the hard work of his supporters and that that he was eager to continue the leadership of the party as time went forward.


Day 2 - SRLC - 4:53 P.M. CST

OK, I am finally going to post the updates on the speeches by Senator McCain, J.C. Watts, and Senator Frist. Really. I mean it this time.

Last night, J.C. Watts, former Congressman from Oklahoma, delivered what many on Blogger Row feel was the best speech of the event. Of course, Watts has always delivered fantastic speeches, and (unfortunately) he isn't running for any elected office at this time. Given the other speakers of the night, Watts considered himself "the cheap date" of the evening.

Watts started by stating that we are "living in interesting times." He also lamented that most of us were more focused on the next election instead of the next generation. Watts carries an idealist's view, stating that we should want it all. Quoting Ronald Reagan: "Why shouldn't we dream big dreams? After all, we're Americans."

Watts fears that we have squandered our values over the past 40 years. Watts blames our loss of a focused vision on these loss of values. "We must ponder the thought: what do we want our nation to be when we grow-up?"

Watts also showed a strong belief in God. "America is nothing without our Creator."

Health care was one area where Watts put forth an idea that was certainly outside of the box. He proposed tax credits for those who were healthy - the government paying less on the front end instead of paying more on the back end. Why not give a $500 tax credit to someone who is doing what they should be doing, asked Watts, instead of paying for a $100,000 life-saving quadruple-bypass when the citizen is 55 with cholesterol over 300?

Watts also honored parents and teachers who care, because that is what he feels are the most important elements of a successful education. He also charged America to continue its strong foreign leadership, saying that fledgling democracies will look to us as an example. Watts closed by stating that the Republican Party must embrace an ideal: diversity in color is a good thing. "God is the artist of a person's skin color. God likes diversity of color." Without a doubt, Watts gave one of the best speeches I have heard this year.

The politician charged with the difficult job of following J.C. Watts was Senator John McCain, another presidential hopeful. McCain claimed that he "had been doing the Lord's work in the city of Satan." I know that it is great to look as a Washington outsider when campaigning for office, but I thought both the statement and the idea of McCain as a Washington outsider to be a bit much.

McCain did admit that his bid might be jinxed from the onset, listing several Arizona politicians who had run for the White House but hadn't come close to winning. "Arizona might be the only state in the union whose mothers don't tell their children they can grow up to be President." McCain also joined the parade of speakers who cautioned for everyone to realize the political focus should be on the 2006 races and not 2008.

McCain stated that the most important national priority should be the war on Iraq. He said that he was standing with the President on Iraq, and as a show of support, asked for everyone to write-in President Bush as their candidate in the Hotline Straw Poll (as was reported on this site yesterday).

McCain stated that it was a disgrace that 42 Democrats would vote against Judge Sam Alito, whom he labeled a "good and decent man." He also broke ranks with several politicians (including many Republicans) in recognizing the United Arab Emirates as our "good friend." He stated that he supported a 45 day waiting period to look at the ports deal before making a decision.

One place where McCain showed some passion was in his report on the ethics bill that was on the Senate floor earlier this week. He personally called out Senator Chuck Schumer for trying to tack the ports amendment onto the ethics bill. Given all of the hard work that had been put into that bill, said McCain, showed how important the Democrats view ethics. (Of course, what McCain didn't mention was that his ethics bill would greatly handicap conservative grassroots efforts, but did you really expect him to say that?) McCain also called for United Nations sanctions against Iran. It was unclear as to what other situations McCain thought the United Nations should be consulted before we act.

McCain said little else of consequence. It is my feeling that if you are already in the McCain camp, you probably liked his speech. If you were undecided or not a McCain fan already, this speech would not have swayed you.

Well, I haven't gotten to Senator Frist's speech, which was the final speech of today's sessions and the last speech before the final voting for the straw poll. With Frist speaking in his home state and the personal attention that he showed us yesterday - and the help he has given me in the past - I really hoped that he would deliver a successful speech. Judging by my own reactions and several other critics, Frist's speech was not the best he could have hoped for.

Senator Frist was introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, who Frist called the "next Majority Leader of the United States Senate." He also recognized his wife, Karen, and his two sons, who were in attendance.

I would like to tell you what Frist said after that, but the truth is that he didn't really say much that was noteworthy. In that way, it was a very safe speech. He talked about the importance of the grassroots, action instead of just talking, and health care (stating, "The Republican Party has a solution - and it's not Hillary-care.) Frist, however, did not detail what that plan was.

Where Frist did make up some valuable ground was with his talk about the filibuster debacle in the Senate. He took credit for the judges that are now on the bench after the filibuster was "broken," as well as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Frist also made hay with his support of the burial of the "death tax," saying that he was going to do "everything in my power to bury the death tax once and for all" this May. Frist also came out for the line-item veto.

All in all, it was a safe speech. I suspect that Senator Frist will win the straw poll tonight, but I don't believe that it is a result of his performance today.


Day 2 - SRLC - 3:33 P.M. CST

Again, I find myself on Blogger Row after more speeches. Myself, the VOLConWife, AlphaPatriot, and Mick Wright just voted in the Hotline Straw Poll. It was an interesting ballot. First of all, you could vote for a first and second preference on the GOP side. That was a good thing for me, because I was a bit torn between two candidates. Second, you were to vote for the Democrat that you thought would win your state's primary. Dismayed by the choices (Gore, Clinton, Bayh, Edwards, Clark, etc.), I wrote-in Zell Miller.

I then was lucky to attend the Bill Frist press conference after his speech. It reminded me of why I am glad not to be a journalist, especially after getting hit in the head with a boom mike and having FoxNews' camera man leaning on me while standing on one of the Peabody's tables. Unfortunately, Senator Frist had little to say at the press conference. He began by thanking all of the media present, as they would help capture the excitement and passion of the Republican Party to all of those who could not attend. Frist then answered questions about the straw poll (and gave nearly identical answers to the professional journalists' questions as he gave yesterday to this amateur). However, when pressed, Frist admitted that he of course wanted to win a poll in his home state and that he hopes to do well. He also stated that he was proud to have lived up to his promise of only serving two terms in the Senate.

More to come...


Day 2 - SRLC - 1:30 P.M. CST

I'm back on Blogger Row after attending Ed Bryant's event upstairs and lunch with the group supporting Mitt Romney. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another prospective 2008 candidate for the White House, is shaking hands and posing for pictures right across the room from our table here. I didn't get to hear his speech this morning - simply too many things to do and not enough time to do it - but I have been told that it was fairly impressive. If possible, I will try to get a word with him in a few minutes.

Jeff Ward from TeamGOP also just stopped by. He was sporting a "Mike Huckabee for President" button.

The Ed Bryant for Senate event upstairs was a bit disjunct, to tell the truth, due to it being over a two hour period. Bob Corker's event yesterday, while it might not have been as well attended, was more organized. I did manage to speak with Senator Brownback, who has officially endorsed Ed Bryant, prior to his having to take a call from his wife. I see why he and Ed get along so well. Besides being housemates in D.C., their personalities and convictions are near mirror images. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was also there and said a few words.

I saw blogger Adam Groves and blogger Mick Wright at the Bryant event. Adam was on "Hardball" last night with Chris Matthews (yeah, I'm jealous), and Mick was interviewed by the local ABC affiliate here in Memphis. I have to admit that bloggers have been into everything here at the event, and it seems people have been fascinated with our activities.

The Romney event was extremely well attended, especially considering that it was at the Marriott Downtown, over 5 blocks from the Peabody. I estimate that between 175-180 people attended, and they weren't wearing just stickers (like all other supporters have been wearing). There were Romney shirts, hats, buttons - all with the Tennessee logo right in the middle. It will be interesting to see if this show of support carries over to the straw poll results tonight.

I just spoke with Mike Huckabee. He feels that his speech this morning went "great," but he isn't really interested in the straw poll results tonight. If I was a candidate, I wouldn't care that much either. It's fun for those of us not running, but it is highly insignificant in the long run.

I'm off to hear Frist speak. Back soon with updates...


Day 2 - SRLC - 9:26 A.M. CST

While Senator Lindsey Graham practices his comedy routine, I will try to get caught up on what has happened thus far this morning, as well as providing commentary on last night's speeches.

Leading off this morning was Senator George Allen from Virginia, a potential 2008 Presidential candidate. Allen is known for his football roots (his father was the Hall of Fame head coach of the Washington Redskins), and they usually come out in his addresses. That was true here, too, as he was here to rally his "teammates."

First, Senator Allen recognized the hospitality of Tennesseans, and he then paid tribute to his wife, who accompanied him to Memphis. Having been blessed with a wife who has helped me in much the same way this weekend, I can second those thoughts.

Senator Allen called himself a "common sense Jeffersonian Conservative" - meaning that he trusts free enterprise and believes that good government does not take bread from those who have earned it.

Allen then highlighted his former accomplishments without making it seem obvious. He mentioned abolishing the lenient parole system in Virginia (Allen was previously Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and this was done under his watch.) As a Member of Congress, Allen trumpeted welfare reform prior to the Clinton vetoes of related reform. Allen said that those reforms were a resounding success, and that he measured that success by the number of people living self-sufficient lives, not the number of people getting Welfare checks (as had been the previous standard under Democratic-led Congresses). Allen also mentioned the Republican gains that had occurred under his leadership of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Allen then began to transition into his vision for America. Regarding education, Senator Allen insisted that we not dumb down our state standards for success to those standards set by the federal government. Allen, in a move that has been standard for the speakers at this event, established three main goals for our party:
1) Secure our freedom - This includes identifying our troops as "our team." Allen believes that we need to see that when our troops are dealt a loss, we all as Americans are dealt that loss. He also mentioned defending our borders as the first principle of immigration reform.
2) America as the Land of opportunity for all - Allen spoke of increasing opportunities for minorities in science and engineering, expanded broadband access, and keeping taxes off of the Internet.
3) Defend our time-honored traditional values.

Allen continued to roll through several issues. He called for an up-or-down vote for John Bolton when his recess appointment expires. He spoke of the need for a working energy policy, including the need for new biofuels and alternative forms of energy to relieve our dependency on Arab countries.

Speaking on taxes, Allen called for permanent status for the demise of the "Death Tax." He also called for the institution of the line-item veto, drawing upon his personal experience as Governor of Virginia. To do this, Allen appealed for a constitutional amendment for the line-item veto, which he has introduced in the Senate. In a moment of thinking outside the box, Allen called for the institution of the "Paycheck Penalty" - if the Congress fails to pass all appropriations bills by the October budget deadline, it would mean that the paychecks are withheld from Congressmen until the budget is passed. Allen believes that this would curb earmarking and create more transparency in the budget process.

Regarding the judiciary, Allen spoke of the eminent domain decision (Kelo) as amending the Bill Rights by judicial decree. He called for judges that would fairly adjudicate cases and recognize that their role is not to legislate from the bench.

Allen closed with a tribute to Ronald Reagan, calling for us all to strive to make sure that the U.S. is that shining city on the hill. He recalled that Reagan had given his father a plaque with the following words made immortal by the late President: "If not us, who? If not now, when?" Allen said that plaque was now in his office in Washington, and he drew inspiration from it during his service to the country.

Another potential 2008 candidate, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, had the difficult task of following the charismatic Allen. Brownback is a tried and true conservative, but his style varies greatly from the Senator from Virginia.

Brownback described himself as a Ronald Reagan Republican. Like Senator Norm Coleman yesterday, Brownback spoke of Reagan's idea of American exceptionalism. Senator Brownback recalled meeting with Reagan many years ago. He was struck by a plaque in Reagan's office that said: "You can be too big to be used by God, but never too small." Brownback transition into our global function, stating that others depend on us around the world. "Why us, and why now?" Brownback asked. In paraphrasing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he answered the question: "It is our time, and it is our destiny."

Brownback had a wonderful Reagan quote to summarize his vision for the future of this country. "It is in our fundamental goodness in which our greatness is found, and if we lose our goodness, we will lose our greatness." As Americans, Brownback said, we believe in the separation of church and state, but not the removal of church from the state.

Brownback came across, as expected, as the strongest pro-life advocate of the potential candidates for the White House. "Our party is the party of life, from conception to natural death," said the Kansas Senator. Speaking of Jenna Joy, a girl that Brownback knows from China, helped shape his strong pro-life convictions. "She shouldn't be here, but because a woman in China thought abortion was wrong, Jenna Joy BROWNBACK will have an 8th birthday party tomorrow." This was by far the strongest part of Brownback's speech, as it showed true emotion and pride.

Brownback spoke of the battles that face us today -
1) The protection of each individual as a child of the Living God. He spoke of "fighting for all by fighting for each." Brownback spoke, in quoting U2's Bono, that "where you live should not determine whether you live." I'm not sure if this was a rebuttal to those who believe that abortion should be a state issue, but it certainly could be perceived as being such.
2) Building dignity but not the dependency of the impoverished. We can do this through marriage and employment (and there are studies that back that up). Marriage rates have plunged 50% since the 1970s, and 40% of all marriages end in divorce. Brownback believes that the crisis of poverty is in large degree a crisis in marriage. Thus, supporting commitments to marriage should be the goal, not undermining them.

Brownback used Africa as an example of how we should respect dignity and not enable dependency. In Africa, 60% of children have malaria, resulting in widespread death. Visits to sub-Saharan Africa by Brownback enable him to speak of the particular people he met along the way and the struggles they have endured. We must help them, Brownback said, but not in ways that build dependency, but instead choosing ways that build their dignity. Citing that 90% of our money to help fight malaria is spent on conferences and consultants, Brownback said that government was feeding the bureaucracy while ignoring the problem. "You can teach a man to fish, but he won't catch anything without a pole."

Brownback continued on that theme by saying that Washington is built to spend. Quoting Ronald Reagan: "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program." Brownback wants to apply the BRAC strategy (the military base realignment program that closed dozens of military bases in the United States) to all government programs, which certainly did not thrill this observer.

Brownback also backed the flat tax - but with a twist. He wants to give people the option of filing under the flat tax or the current system.

I will have more as the day permits...


Day 2 - SRLC - 8:26 A.M.

My apologies for not having the second session wrap-up last night. The session ended around 9:18 P.M., and after some mingling and getting back to the Marriott Downtown, we were both exhausted. Plus, with Blogger Row closed down, it was not going to be the easiest thing in the world to post anything on-line last night. I wish I could say that we are dragging this morning because of all of the Beale Street festivities that took place last night, but that would be a lie. We are both becoming old fogies.

Last night's session was hosted by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She really let loose, sounding very much like Dolly Parton with her accent. I remarked to the VOLConWife that the people of East Tennessee who like Dolly will love Marsha when she runs for Governor in 2010. Another thing they will love is this line: "If 10% is good enough for God, then it's damn well good enough for the government!" That was the centerpiece of a classic small government speech, with an emphasis on sealing our borders and securing our country.

Blackburn then introduced Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Not to be unkind, but I'm not going to go too much into Governor Barbour's speech, mostly because I don't think it was his best effort. Barbour highlighted election strategy, including the radical new idea that big voter turnouts help Republicans and issue-based campaigns mean that Republicans win. Barbour also gave respect to faith-based groups for their assistance with rebuilding the Gulf Coast, calling them the "backbone of the recovery effort."

I will post more on the speeches of J.C. Watts and John McCain after this morning's round of speakers.

Friday, March 10, 2006


SRLC - 5:07 P.M. CST

I spoke briefly with Senator George Allen after his interview with CNN. As I was doing that, the VOLConWife attending Bob Corker's event with Senator Coleman on the 3rd floor. She reported that about 100 people were in attendance, that Bob again stood on his business experience, and that the room was quite congested.

Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist stopped by Blogger Row and took about 15 minutes worth of questions from myself, AlphaPatriot, Mick Wright, and Adam Groves. What really impressed us was his enthusiasm for blogging, which, through VOLPAC, he does himself. He believes that blogging shows political enthusiasm at the grassroots level, that it sparks the side discussions that occur at events like SRLC, and that it should be instrumental in shepherding the ideology of our party as Republicans. For Frist, he says that this is an issue of freedom and providing political voices for all. One could say that Frist was just playing to his audience, but you have to take into consideration Frist's support of free speech legislation designed to protect blogs from FEC clutches. Certainly in this case, Frist talks the talk and walks the walk.

Frist also previewed his speech set for tomorrow night, stating that it will focus on his experiences as a citizen legislator.

Senator Frist answered questions regarding the Patriot Act, which he says is a carefully crafted balance between safety against terrorism and civil liberties. One aspect of which Senator Frist was especially proud was his adding of methamphetamine to the Patriot Act. Frist was also pressed on the ports issue (as Senator Allen was by CNN earlier), which Frist sees as an issue that has been mishaped by the media. Instead of worrying about Dubai running the administrative aspects of our ports, we should focus on the modernization of intelligence for our port security. Frist believes the Patriot Act a step in the right direction on that front.

I asked Senator Frist about the Hotline Straw Poll at SRLC that is gaining so much press. Frist played down the poll, saying it was a fun political exercise, that it speaks to the aggregate of a political gathering, but that it only went as far as that. Interestingly, Senator Trent Lott, himself a McCain supporter, had spoken to CNN earlier today and accused Frist of bussing in participants to stack the poll. With 1800 people here from 30 states, it's hard to see how Lott could prove that. However, it is widely known that a group of workers have been asking delegates to write in President Bush in the straw poll as a show of support for the President. It has now been told to me that those people, although they won't admit it, are working for Senator McCain. It has also been told to me that Senator McCain will ask for all delegates to write-in President Bush during his speech tonight. Please note, Senator Lott, that this is more along the lines of fixing a poll. Quite astonishing, to tell you the truth, in that Senator McCain would certainly have much to gain by Frist losing this poll.

Derrick Bennett, candidate for the 9th District Congressional seat being vacated by Harold Ford, Jr., stopped by Blogger Row and stayed for over 30 minutes. He was quite interested in blogs, and he sounds like a passionate, intelligent candidate, although he certainly is, as he puts it, a neophyte politically. I think he made a strong impression here.


SRLC 4:15 P.M. CST

Wrapping up the first session of speakers were Minnesota's Norm Coleman and Louisiana's David Vitter. Senator Coleman first spoke of his leaving the Democratic Party - or, as he put it, the party leaving him. Coleman spent much of his speech attacking the Clinton presidency, stating that President Clinton failed to see the economic reality that was occurring (which led to the dot-com busts and the exporting of American jobs overseas) and then failed to have a foreign policy of substance. The three main issues of our time, according to Coleman, are embracing our exceptional Americanism (basically the accentuation of our greatest character strengths), finding diversity of leadership, and formulating an uncompromising foreign policy.

Where Coleman made waves were in a few tangential remarks. First, he called for Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, to resign, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd. Second, he certainly drew a reaction from me with a crack against NASCAR fans. Third, he reiterated that the Democrats are not in a good position heading into the mid-term elections, because, "You can't bean something with nothing." The lack of message coming from the Democrats is certainly a theme in Memphis this weekend.

Senator David Vitter gave a speech that centered on classical conservative ideology. Unfortunately, Senator Vitter was rather wooden in his delivery, resulting in a perceived disconnect with the audience. While I liked his message (especially his introduction, which differentiated between conservatives and Republicans), he just didn't have that spark exhibited by Romney or even Alexander.

I loved his message, though. Vitter showed his Christian views, stating that "there are no anonymous Christians. As Christians, we must all live our faith."

Vitter admitted that he is much like the average delegate at SRLC, searching for the next great President of the United States. In making such a decision, Vitter stated that we need someone who is willing to undertake "conservative reform." By that, he cited smaller government, a more focused government, a pro-life devotion that is aimed at ending the culture of death, immigration reform that rejects amnesty for illegal aliens, judicial constructionists, and standing with the people and not the social class that attempts to unduly influence the political process. Vitter rejected moderation - "selling out" - to win elections. Again, his message was on-point. His delivery, however, was not working this afternoon.


SRLC - 3:08 P.M. CST

The first round of speakers are now off the stage, and I think it is fair to say that there were some mixed results. First, the VOLConWife and I entered the Grand Ballroom at the Peabody just minutes before the session was supposed to begin. However, we were actually there early because, like every political event I have ever attended, the start was several minutes late. One nice Southern touch - Charlie Daniels' "Country Boy Can Survive" was playing as we entered. I guess it was distinguish this event from the Northern Republican Leadership Conference, but I did enjoy listening to Charlie after a morning full of Johnny Cash.

After the usual introductory events (invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem), Tennessee GOP Chairman Bob Davis gave a few opening remarks. Then the fun started as Senator Lamar Alexander was introduced. Lamar, without saying a word, walked to the grand piano situated on the stage and begin to rip off a few piano solos. Country singer Steve Warner, who had just sung the National Anthem, then joined Lamar for a few songs. I knew Lamar could play a little, but I had no idea he was that good. The VOLConWife thought that Warner was actually struggling to keep up.

Lamar then launched into his role as "designated driver" - the Senator in Memphis who wasn't running to be President. One interesting topic addressed by Lamar before he introduced the next speaker was the highlight of his week - 20 "No" votes in the Senate Budget Committee over the past few days that saved taxpayers millions of dollars. As Lamar put it, since most of the votes were 10-9 on defeating those appropriations, this was the importance of hanging on to the Senate in 2006. Lamar said that people should remember that voting for the messageless Democrats was a vote for higher taxes, liberal justices, and mediocre schools.

Lamar also stood by President Bush, remarking that we should do so especially when he is acting against popular sentiment but in what he believes to be a principled fashion. He cited terrorism as a prime example, but also mentioned education, the budget, the growing economy, and the Supreme Court as examples. I loved some of what Lamar had to say (and his musical talents), but overall it was a bit too superficially moderate for this conservative.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman followed Lamar. He also gets mixed results. I wasn't that impressed, but the VOLConWife was. One thing that Mehlman mentioned of interest to Tennesseans was his need to replace the retiring Bill Frist with "another principled Republican." Was Mehlman hinting that there was an unprincipled Republican in the race? I'm not sure.

Most of Mehlman's speech was dedicated to the defense of President Bush's handling of our national security and the war on terrorism. He did highlight many of the Democratic Party's word games (such as replacing "higher taxes" with "increased revenue") and other forms of their "bait and switch" campaign tactics, often comparing them to used car dealers. Mehlman, like Lamar Alexander before him, also focused on the need for education reform in America. Mehlman concluded his address with his most interesting remarks, which were all endorsements of pro-life positions for the party. There is no word if Senator McCain or Rudy Guiliani were informed of these comments from the national party chair prior to Mehlman's speech.

The next address was by the first of the prospective 2008 Presidential candidates, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Due to my previous criticisms of Governor Romney, my skepticism was quite high. I was actually worried that I might be a bit too hard on Romney. However, Governor Romney showed fantastic oratory skills and delivered an interesting, impassioned message to the delegates. Out of the first round of speakers, he was the best of the bunch.

Romney, who, I am told, is trumpeting a slogan this weekend of "Yankee Governor, Southern Values," immediately got the crowd on his side by singing the old theme song of "Davey Crockett" - with a little addition of Bill Frist in the final wording. Romney spoke of the important lessons he had learned regarding reaching across the aisle to help the people of Massachusetts, something that he had to do in "the bluest of blue states." One of the best tales Romney told was of balancing the budget by cutting wasteful programs and increasing government efficiency. Specifically, Romney spoke of cutting $20 million from a homeless program for wasteful hotel expenditures that encouraged the homeless to bilk the system. Romney also spoke of the ridiculous notion of bi-lingual education and how it hurts a significant segment of the population in their attempts to better their lives.

Romney also laid forth the 4 major challenges facing America today. First, we must deal with the jihadists and their determination to unify the nations of Islam. On this front, Romney offered praise for President Bush's actions and the sacrifices of our military. Second, Romney identified the lack of understanding in the Congress that we are spending too much money. He cited the 49% growth in discretionary spending. Romney emphatically called for a presidential line-item veto to help in this regard. Third, Romney pointed out our need for an educated workforce. In particular, Romney pointed to the few engineers and PhD-level scientists that we produce compared to nations such as China and India. He said that America risks becoming irrelevant without improvements in these fields. "We must not become the France of the 21st Century," Romney stated strongly. Continuing on educational issues, Romney called for better pay for the better teachers and minimizing the teachers' unions. Interestingly, he called for educational immigration reform, referring to how our best foreign graduates have to leave the country upon receiving their doctorates while those with limited skills and virtually no education are allowed to stay. On this front, Romney appeared quite at odds with President Bush, much to his credit. Finally, Romney spoke of the need to embrace American culture, for his feels that is what has made America great. He quoted David Landis' "The Wealth & Poverty of Nations," which this blogger found impressive.

Overall, Romney's foray into the South had to be considered a success. His charisma is infectious, and his message will play well here. Can he explain away his previous record of compromising in Massachusetts? That will be crucial if he is to secure the nomination in 2008.

Norm Coleman and David Vitter also spoke. I will provide briefs for those two speakers shortly.


SRLC - 12:19 P.M. CDT

We made it - and in a time much faster than what Mapquest said it would take us (as usual). We showered, shaved, and now look presentable enough to pass for professionals. The VOLConWife - who is going to be assisting me greatly in this blogging experience - is out hunting sandwiches while I sit here on "Blogger Row" with a few of the other bloggers, including AlphaPatriot and Mick Wright. The speeches are set to start shortly, and several of the big hitters, including MA Governor Mitt Romney, TN Senator Lamar Alexander, and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, are in the first group.

Within fifteen minutes of being here, I had already rounded up Lamar Alexander (who was apparently entertaining the Journalist Formerly Known as Chris Matthews and Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey. The place is crawling with political "A-listers," and many of the delegates have been seen with pro-Frist stickers.

The interesting rumor right now involves Rudy Guiliani. FoxNews was reporting this morning that Guiliani was set to speak here this weekend, but that is news to us. He is not on the program. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman was interviewed on FoxNews, and he didn't correct the anchor when Guiliani's name was brought up. Blogger Row is somewhat skeptical, so we'll see.


"We're on a Mission from God."

We're 398 miles from Memphis.
We've got a full tank of gas, half a carton of Little Debbie Snack Cakes, and a gross of Mountain Dew.
Hit it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Memphis Or Bust!

After a long wait that rivaled the August run-up to UT football season, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is finally here! Blogging today will be light as I make all last minute arrangements for the trip to Memphis. I've rented a vehicle from Budget (as not to put another 1,000 miles on my old warhorse) and tentatively plan to leave tomorrow morning between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M.

Like many of the other conservative bloggers attending SRLC (Mick Wright, Nancy French, Adam Groves being the ones I know of), I am at the conference as both a blogger and a conference participant. What's the difference? Well, bloggers don't get fed, don't get access to some limited parts of the conference, and aren't allowed to vote in the straw poll.

How big is this event? Very. Take a look at what Frist and others had to say in today's Tennessean. Adam Groves also posted on SRLC at Tennessee Politics Blog, as did The Main Street Journal (here and here), and . Mick Wright has a great rodeo of SRLC coverage, as well.

As regular readers of this site know, I am all about full disclosure, and here is my bit about SRLC. I had originally planned to attend on a shoestring budget as a blogger and only stay for half of the conference, since I had a night at the Holiday Inn Express near Germantown that I could use. However, an offer came from people in and around Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Governor and 2008 presidential candidate, that I simply could not pass up in the way of a hotel room near the Peabody and my participant credentials. Now I know that some will probably find a way to spin this if my coverage of Governor Romney is anything short of brutal, and that is their prerogative. However, I have some experience with this (even stretching back to my days as a film critic, when I was admitted to movies for free but still found a way to rip them in print), and I will be as fair as possible in my coverage. As extremely astute readers may remember (here and here), I have not been overly kind to Governor Romney in the past in assessing his chances of winning the White House. My acceptance of his offer will allow me to get to know Governor Romney better, so I see this as a good thing. Others may not.

That doesn't mean that I am not in Memphis to visit with the other potential candidates, either. I would like to speak to Senator Allen, Governor Huckabee, and Senator Brownback, for sure. I have made efforts to contact each of their staffs to obtain some of their time at SRLC. We'll see if anything pans out with that as the weekend progresses.

Back to some actual work, and then packing!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?