Monday, February 26, 2007


Democratic Values Shining Through

Republicans in D.C. (and really only there because of the lack of credible coverage being delivered to Americans through their media) are aghast at some of the measures being enacted by Democrats in Congress this year. I guess they shouldn't have been after the Democrats' first action in the House was to do away with the supermajority needed to enact taxes, instead now requiring a simple majority.

Then Sunday came this story off of the AP wire, telling of a series of bills that would protect homosexuals as a class in the way greater than the protections afforded actual genetic classifications, such as race and gender. In this case, we are talking about "anti-gay bias," which I suppose could lead to suits against corporations by people passed over for promotions who suddenly will be gay for purpose of the suit. Also in the crosshairs of Congressional Democrats is the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Also Sunday, I received this alert from the NRA regarding another Democratic pet issue - their continued assault on your Second Amendment rights:

McCarthy Bill Bans Millions More Guns Than The Clinton Gun Ban

On Feb. 14, 2007, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 1022, a bill with the stated purpose, "to reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes."

McCarthy's verbiage warrants explanation. Presumably, what she means by "assault weapons ban" is the Clinton Gun Ban of 1994. Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004 for multiple reasons, including the fact that federal, state and local law enforcement agency studies showed that guns affected by the ban had been used in only a small percentage of crime, before and after the ban was imposed.

With the nation's murder rate 43% lower than in 1991, and the re-legalized guns still used in only a small percentage of crime, reauthorizing the Clinton Gun Ban would be objectionable enough. But McCarthy's "other purposes" would make matters even worse. H.R. 1022 would ban every gun banned by the Clinton ban, plus millions more guns, including:

. Every gun made to comply with the Clinton ban. (The Clinton ban dictated the kinds of grips, stocks and attachments new guns could have. Manufacturers modified new guns to the Clinton requirements. H.R. 1022 would ban the modified guns too.)

. Guns exempted by the Clinton ban. (Ruger Mini-14s and -30s and Ranch Rifles; .30 cal. carbines; and fixed-magazine, semi-automatic, center-fire rifles that hold more than 10 rounds.)

. All semi-automatic shotguns. (E.g., Remington, Winchester, Beretta and Benelli, used for hunting, sport shooting, and self-defense. H.R. 1022 would ban them because they have "any characteristic that can function as a grip," and would also ban their main component, called the "receiver.")

. All detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles-including, for example, the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22 .22 rimfire-because they have "any characteristic that can function as a grip."

. Target shooting rifles. (E.g., the three centerfire rifles most popular for marksmanship competitions: the Colt AR-15, the Springfield M1A and the M1 "Garand.")

. Any semi-automatic shotgun or rifle an Attorney General one day claims isn't "sporting," even though the constitutions of the U.S. and 44 states, and the laws of all 50 states, recognize the right to use guns for defense.

. 65 named guns (the Clinton law banned 19 by name); semi-auto fixed-magazine pistols of over 10 rounds capacity; and frames, receivers and parts used to repair or refurbish guns.

H.R. 1022 would also ban the importation of magazines exempted by the Clinton ban, ban the sale of a legally-owned "assault weapon" with a magazine of over 10 rounds capacity, and begin backdoor registration of guns, by requiring private sales of banned guns, frames, receivers and parts to be conducted through licensed dealers. Finally, whereas the Clinton Gun Ban was imposed for a 10-year trial period, H.R. 1022 would be a permanent ban.

Please be sure to contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to oppose
H.R. 1022


Gee, I wonder if they'll have anything to talk about at CPAC this week...

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Friday, February 23, 2007


Heartbreaking Stories

Not to start the weekend on a down note, but don't forget to go back and read some of the stories that people are telling regarding Tennessee's broken child support system in the Comments section of a post I authored that has disappeared off of the main screen. A new one appeared there today.

A year ago, I would have thought these tails of oppression by the State to be rare. That is certainly not the case. Lives are being ruined every day by this broken system. I applaud those members of the General Assembly who have lent me their ear (particularly Representative Stacey Campfield, who mind as well be my rep since I happen to live in Joe Armstrong's gerrymandered district) on this topic. I don't see this as a partisan issue, and I hope we can fix this system within the near future.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Report from last night's UT/Bama Game

1) No mention of it in most circles, but that was one LOUD crowd last night. Announced attendance was over 19,000, but it was more like 17,000 to be truthful. However, it may have been the loudest crowd at TBA - and I have attended nearly every game since the Jerry Green era.

2) Ryan Childress was our MVP last night. I said he was a waste of a scholarship last year. I stand corrected. As Dane's play has become a detriment to this team, Childress has taken Dane's hustle and combined it with his height and (dare I say it) superior shooting touch to become one vital player for UT.

3) Ugliest game I have seen - period. I commented several times that I thought I was watching women's basketball for a some parts of the game. Just awful. However, we won, and I don't care if it's the Debate Team, I love beating Alabama.

4) Congratulations to Pearl. For the first time this year, he seemed to use his timeouts to stop the bleeding. One could have been a bit earlier (when UT lost its double-digit lead), but a much better use of timeouts last night.

All in all, a great feeling come out of TBA last night to see the sad faces of the Alabama fans. Maybe they can cobble together another $30 million dollars and hire Pat Riley or Phil Jackson for their basketball team.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Truth Be Told

From Dave Oatney's podcast:

"The problem is that when Rob Huddleston and I get together in the same room - it's like a big chatterbox. And that's pretty much the way it was at the Lincoln Day Dinner all night long. Rob Huddleston and I - chatter, chatter, chatter, chatter."

Pretty much. Dave, that's what happens when you hang around with attorneys - even conservative ones.

NOTE: Sharon Cobb is slated to be on Dave's show later on in the week regarding the Democratic Primary, and Rep. Stacey Campfield will also be on this week to discuss the porn tax and aborted baby death certificates. I can't wait to hear those!



Cleaning House

OK, he's already been indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges and now has been formally been charged with DUI in a case that easily could have killed innocent citizens.

So, can someone explain to me why the Democrats haven't demanded for Jerry Cooper to resign his seat in the Tennessee Senate?

(I guess you could say that this is one of those "Donkey Cons" issues, where Republicans have the tendency to expel their miscreants while Democrats tend to laud their own.)

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Tennessee Republicans Drawing a Line in the Sand over Eliminating the Food Tax?

It's nice to see that the GOP-led Tennessee Senate is finally fighting back against the the spending tyranny of Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen introduced his latest budget yesterday, one that would increase state spending by over $1 billion - that's billion with a "b."

Today's story on the matter in the KNS shows the frustration that Bredesen is having now that Tennessee Republicans feel emboldened to fight his proposals and not walk them through the legislative process like they have done previously (for instance, as was done with the Pre-K debacle).

It's amazing to read how Bredesen doesn't see the money that we Tennesseans spend on food that is taxed as "our money." No, it's "revenue" to Yankee Phil, even before you spend it. So, basically, that money that you are carrying around in your wallet really isn't yours in the Governor's eyes. At least a portion of it is already the State's. Gee, that's nice.

One part of today's story that immediately interested me was Tom Humphrey's report that 16 of the 17 GOP Senators had signed on as co-sponsors of Senator Mae Beavers' bill that reduces the food tax by 0.5% per year for each of the next 12 years, which eventually phases the tax out of the system. (Yes, that process is a bit of a compromise, but it would have to be in order to get through Naifeh's House, so I do applaud Mae's bill.)

But the story didn't say which senator had not signed on as a co-sponsor. So, thanks to the new legislative website, I looked it up. I guess I expected Senator Mike Williams to be the lone holdout, but I was wrong. It's Shelby County's Paul Stanley. If Stanley is for the bill (and for his sake I would hope so, given the heavily Republican district he represents), then a united GOP caucus in the Senate is something that Bredesen should be worried about.

Finally, I love how Yankee Phil characterizes tax cuts as "voodoo." Apparently, the Governor only sees the natural order of things being government becoming bigger and fatter, and the conservative mantra of smaller government and putting more money back into the pockets of the citizens who earn it as supernatural or "black magic."

If eliminating taxes and keeping money with the citizens instead of the bloated bureaucracy is "voodoo," then just indoctrinate me as a witch doctor, because I would rather be that than a Tennessee Governor bent on putting the finances of the government before the finances of the people she is supposed to serve.

MORE: Ben Cunningham and A.C. at Volunteer Voters weigh in on Yankee Phil's bizarre allegation that this is somehow about instituting an income tax. Ben's remark:

"We may have to order extra meds for some of our elected officials."

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Religion Under Fire

Liberals on talk radio and television would have you believe that there is no war on religion here in the United States. In some circles, they may be right, but there is open hostility to organized religion - Christian or not - in most parts of this country. This happens even in what have been "red states" over the past decade, such as Florida.

Here are two headlines that crossed my path this morning:

Florida Men Arrested for Handing Out Bibles

Miami-Dade County Officials: Buy 2.5 acres, or Cancel Bible Study

Thank goodness for organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund, which is funding both of the cases above (in defense of the Gideons in the first case and for the plaintiff Worldwide Agape Ministries in the second case). If ADF wasn't doing its job, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution wouldn't be recognizable in many parts of the country.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


A Conservative Common Thread

Yep, I forgot to mention one other topic that seemed to meet universal approval at the conservative blogger get-together Saturday night, and since it's Monday night, it is only appropriate...



2007 Jefferson County Lincoln Day

My intention was to post at length about the 2007 Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner, but it seems that my friend David Oatney (of Honey Bunches of Oatney fame) has already done so. Given that I agree with nearly everything that David said, I will only add a few nuggets from my personal observations of Saturday night's affair.

First off, I want to thank Mike Faulk, the Mountain 'publican, for putting together our conservative blogger table. Mike, Dave Oatney, Terry Frank, Stacey Campfield, and myself - it doesn't get much more conservative than that! (I guess it would have been if Vance Cheek - the Conservatore from Pensieri - had been able to attend, but a family obligation prevented that from happening.)

Secondly, I am a big fan of Lincoln Day Dinners. I am an even bigger fan of attending them during non-election years. You can really see who is jockeying for position amongst the party faithful. And I guess that was what struck me about the Jefferson County event. There wasn't much politicking from what I could tell. As I pointed out to David Oatney as the program started, Van Hilleary was present. Van wasn't working the room, but it was odd just to see him there. Jefferson County is split between the 1st and the 3rd Districts, which are both safely in the hands of GOP incumbents. In any case, I wasn't able to talk to Van (he and Meredith were safely out the door before the end of the program, as per norm), so I couldn't find out more.

With the exception of Mike Faulk, I didn't see anyone working the room. This brings me to another point - Mike Faulk can work a room. I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful GOP politicians. Some could work a room magically. Others did so as a matter of having to. (I would probably put myself more into the latter category, if I was forced to do so.) Mike is amongst the best I have ever seen at doing so, and he does it without the appearance of doing so.

Now I am going to go out on a limb here - Mike Faulk could be a serious GOP contender for whichever office he chooses. Yes, I know we all have him penciled in to destroy Senator Mike Williams (who was not in attendance in a county that he represents in the State Senate) in 2008. I also know that Mike Faulk is not a declared candidate for that seat. He still has to decide if he wants to run.

(An aside: What a lot of people have to recognize is that it is very difficult for a lawyer who owns his own firm to step away from that firm and into politics. Lawyers have duties to their clients, and it is not like closing a roofing business or even going part-time as an attorney. This is why it is tough for attorneys to just jump into a candidacy for public office.)

In the words of Michael Jackson, I don't wanna be startin' something. However, I have seen Mike Faulk throughout this state over the past few months. If he felt the calling and committed to it, he could be a conservative force in GOP politics on a statewide level. I'm not saying that Mike even wants to be that, but I am saying that it could happen that way.

Here is Mike Faulk with Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Ron, who is a Sullivan County boy like myself - he from Blountville and Sullivan Central, myself from just down the road in Bluff City and Sullivan East, seems to think that Mike is ready to run against Williams. We shall see.

I thought Ron gave a decent address in Jefferson County. He is tying himself to a saying that one of his old constituents used to tell him - to "stay close to your overalls." I agree with that. People who I like - both in politics and in life - are those that never let title, degrees, or (especially) money change who they are. Jefferson and Knox County has one guy who certainly is the spitting image of that phrase - Representative Frank Nicely. I am lucky enough to bump into Frank often in South Knox, which is part of his sprawling district. Frank would rather talk farming than politics. It's no wonder that he won reelection by a landslide. He doesn't have to be something that he's not, because the person that he is makes people want to vote for him.

Congressman David Davis gave the keynote address. Most pundits I talked to were not that impressed, but, as I told them, I thought that David gave one of his better speeches on Saturday night. David is not going to "wow" you like a Ronald Reagan, J.C. Watts, or Alan Keyes. He's more Sam Brownback than Mitt Romney. David brings stats to the table. If you are looking to be inspired, then you need to look elsewhere.

Overall, I thought David delivered a nice speech. He hit on the importance of wresting away control of the Tennessee House from Jimmy Naifeh, as this was the only way to achieve open government. He spoke of the votes that Speaker Pelosi has already pushed through the House that eliminate open government by making committee votes exempt from recordkeeping and that remove the need for a supermajority before tax increases could be approved (as it was with the GOP-led Congress). David spoke of his committee assignments, of which he has three, and the need for a balanced budget amendment (which has about as much chance of passing in this Congress as does making the NRA exempt from all taxes and FEC regulations). David spoke at length about Iraq, an issue which, it seemed by the reactions, was polarized in this particular room. For me, it was a decent speech. For the average attendee in Jefferson County, it probably didn't, but I'm just speculating there.

It was good to meet up with David Oatney and to finally meet his wife Nicole at the Dinner. David was actually able to explain to me what a "paleoconservative" is, an area that A.C. Kleinheider has failed in the past. (From David's explanation, A.C. might have had trouble with the definition because he might not be one.) Dave, Stacey, Terry, and I also brought up a few other bloggers in conversation, including the filthy writings of Aunt B, the liberal leanings of Roger Abramson, and Bob Krumm, who is becoming tough to pin down since he decided to become a candidate for public office.

In any case, a good time was had by all. Terry let us know that she is going to have her own 3-hour radio show. (Yes, I hope that I get invited to take part some day - maybe with Oatney?) Congressman Davis' staff was very cordial and answered several questions from members of our merry band of bloggers. Given the snow on the roads, I was pleasantly surprised at the crowd. (Heck, Knox County cancelled their Lincoln Day last year at the forecast of snow. It actually came down hard in Jefferson and Hamblen Counties, yet everyone seemed to make it there and back just fine.)

Finally, as a true aside, the VOLConWife and I had business in Hamblen County that wrapped up early, so we killed a few hours there. One thing was blatantly apparent - there is a serious immigration issue that can be found in Morristown. I haven't heard that much Spanish being spoken in a mall since I lived in Florida as a child. It's a shame that our do-nothing Governor thinks this issue doesn't deserve strong action.

UPDATE: OK, I called Phil Bredesen a do-nothing Governor. After further review, I should have been more accurate and called him a do-nothing-but-strive-to-raise-your-taxes Governor. My apologies for the correction.

Also, upon further review, this post is long. I said it would be short, but I guess I was wrong on that, too.



My Little Man

It was brought to my attention a few weeks back that I hadn't posted a picture of the man of the house in quite a while. By popular demand:

Sammy is pictured here with his Kong. His mother is amazed that such a vile piece of rubber can create so many hours of fun between Sammy and his papa.

UPDATE: If you would like your own little bundle of snortin' fun, you can contact the Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee (where Sammy came from). Here is a list of their current adoptable Bostons.



Super Bowl Pics

Since I intend to post on the Jefferson County Lincoln Day a bit later, this provided as good as an excuse as any to empty out the new digital camera. Here are some pictures of the Super Bowl Extravaganza that the VOLConWife, The Undecided Philosopher, and myself threw a few weeks back.

Here is the VOLConWife creating the perfect set-up for the party. A little known fact - before the VOLConWife became a high powered attorney, she was in event planning. If event planning paid more than it does, I dare say that she would rather do that than work in the law.

Here is a close-up of the goodies, including a massive shrimp tray from Food City, a tray of the finest meats and cheeses in all the land, two pizzas flown in from Giordano's in Chicago, The Undecided Philosopher's fabulous spinach dip, football cupcakes, and several other delicious morsels.

You know it's love when she cheers for your team, guys. I hear of Vols marrying Gators and Vols marrying Bammers and the wars that result, but it seems to me that their aren't all into the marriage if they still support some other team. :)

Here are Jon & Lezlee Dice. Hidden is the yet unborn child. We had an interesting discussion of what Jon & Lezlee should name their child. My favorites: Roland Dice if it's a boy, Miami Dice if it's a girl. Jon's with those choices, but I'm afraid that Lezlee is going to need some help coming around.

And here's little Brodie Bear. Notice that my youngest nephew is properly sporting his Bears clothing. He's quite the little football himself, too.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007


Daytona Twin 125's

Well, NASCAR season is back with two of my favorite races of the year - the Twin 125's that set the running order for the Daytona 500. For whatever reason, the shorter 125's are usually some of the best racing all year, probably because the middle 300 miles of most NASCAR races provides an excellent cure for insomnia as a result of the ridiculous rule changes that NASCAR has instituted over the years.

Here are some notes from Race 1:

- Congratulations to Michael Waltrip for making the race. Having to race his way in, Waltrip's crew chief decided to go Chad Knaus on his car, which got said crew chief suspended and seriously threw Waltrip's chances to make the field in doubt. Waltrip wrecked Dale Jr., tore up his car, and still made the field. Quite a week for the Owensboro, Kentucky native.

- Obviously, I am bummed about the results of who didn't get in. My favorite driver, Bill Elliott, was driving the Huddle House #37, but apparently his crew screwed up and put a go-cart engine in the Dodge. Bill won't be racing come Sunday. Neither will Ward Burton, friend of VOLuntarilyConservative and new driver for the Morgan McClure race team out of Abingdon, Virginia. I lobbied for someone to give Ward a chance last year, and it has come in the form of the #4 ride. However, Ward's Daytona dreams came to an end when, while in contention for the transfer spot, Mike Bliss spun Ward into the wall. With two of my three favorite drivers eliminated from the 500, I will have to hang my hat on Tennessee native Sterling Marlin, who competes in the 2nd Twin 125 in a few minutes.

UPDATE for Race 2 -

- Race 2 was not nearly as dicey as Race 1. That's pretty much as predicted, since the stronger racers were in Race 1.

- Tough break for Juan Pablo Montoya, the Formula 1 transplant that led most of the early laps before a bad wheel bearing prematurely ended his race. Montoya will race in the 500 on Sunday due to being locked into the field by owner's points. I will be interested to see how Montoya adapts to NASCAR from open-wheel Formula 1 cars. Most international racing enthusiasts believe Formula 1 racers to be the best in the world, and it may be up to Montoya to prove them correct.

- Sterling Marlin, who was locked into the field on his speed, showed that he has a pretty decent car for Sunday. He laid off the gas on the final lap so that his teammate, Joe Nemachek, and fellow Chevy driver Mike Wallace could get into the field and keep Jeremy Mayfield, a Toyota driver, out. The move cost Marlin tons of spots on the starting grid for Sunday, but it showed what a team player he is. Gotta love Sterling - Tennessee's own!



Political Correctness Looks to Scalp Illini Student

It seems that the University of Illinois doesn't see the need to allow constitutionally protected speech by its students. Nor does it seem that the school's administration can tell the difference between a joke and a threat. Unfortunately, such scenes at public universities across the country routinely show that our best and brightest are not running our institutions of higher learning.

Lucky for those of us who enjoy freedom and celebrate its inclusion in the United States Constitution, there are groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a group I have long supported. They have come to the aid of the student targeted by the politically correct University of Illinois administration. One thing that I have learned in my dealings with FIRE over the years - FIRE rarely loses.

Read about the incident from FIRE's perspective.

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Divorces Down in Tennessee

The State of Tennessee announced on Wednesday its statistics for 2005 regarding marriages and divorces.

Divorce numbers were down, which most people would probably say is a good thing.

There were 27, 823 divorces, compared to 65,400 marriages in 2005.

What gets me is the way that Sevier County has successfully cornered the market on weddings in Tennessee. 28.6% of all weddings in Tennessee occurred in Sevier County. When you consider the number of counties and Sevier County's small population relative to counties like Davidson, Shelby, and Knox... That's just astounding.

Probably the best piece of news in all of this is that over half of the divorces in 2005 involved no minor child. Between the damage done to children of divorce and the damage done to the non-custodial parent's bank account (as chronicled here), this is good news indeed.

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V-Day Absence

Sorry for no posts yesterday, but it was Valentine's Day, and none of y'all are my valentine.

No offense, but that kinda impeded my blogging time.

UPDATE: OK, to answer an e-mail question, the VOLConWife and I dined at Naples, which is a Valentine's Day tradition for us. I can't remember how many years we have spent Valentine's Day at Naples, but it has been several. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere of the Blue Room (which I reserve every year months in advance) cannot be beat. (You know the food is good - Coach Bruce Pearl was there last night.)

Every couple has a big day that is significant to them. Ours is Valentine's Day. It was on Valentine's Day five years ago that Angela and I went on our first date. (We had known each other for some time prior to that, but our first date on the Santa Monica Pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean occurred on Valentine's Day, 2002.) We always make sure to celebrate this day, especially as we grow older.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Marsha on Credit Cards for Illegals

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was just on Cavuto, laying the smack down on Bank of America's ridiculous move to peddle credit cards to illegal immigrants.

I am encouraged by Marsha's appearance on this issue, as it gives me hope that this brazen activity is on Congress' radar. However, (and remembering that I am a big fan of Marsha's) I would have been a heck of a lot tougher than Marsha was when being questioned by Cavuto. Marsha's threats were too veiled. Maybe she needs to watch "The Sopranos" or take a course in "The Art of Negotiation" as taught by Jack Bauer. Make 'em scared, Marsha, not curious.

Congress needs to let Bank of America know that if they are going to support criminal activity that there are ways that Congress can make BOA's business practices difficult and eventually unprofitable.

Meanwhile, the rest of us need to jettison our Bank of America accounts. Let them know that by harming America's citizenry by supporting those who criminally enter our country at the expense of our social welfare system, that we take that as a sign that their company is not with us but against us. If Bank of America is against law-abiding American citizens on this front, who is to say what other fronts - such as support of terrorist networks - they have targeted American interests?

Hit 'em where it hurts, folks - right in the ole wallet.

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Burchett Challenges Bredesen on National Guard

I'm not sure what is more upsetting with this story - that Governor Bredesen would send Tennesseans down to the Mexican border without knowing that wouldn't be allowed to defend themselves in a confrontation, or that the head of the Tennessee National Guard doesn't believe his guardsmen capable of defending themselves.

Good work on shedding light on this troubling subject, Tim. If all that came of Bredesen's headline grabbing maneuver was our boys being made to be sitting ducks while the Governor looks like he's doing something about our definite illegal immigration problem, then there's no real purpose to them being there.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Interesting State Bill

In a bit of a surprise, an informal poll of defense attorneys in court last week showed strong support for this bill by Republican Senator Raymond Finney:


SB0841 by Finney R.
Criminal Offenses - Makes punishment for child rape same as punishment for first degree murder. - Amends TCA Section 39-13-522.

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This Week's GOP Events

There are a few GOP events on my calendar this week.

First, there is the Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner this Saturday night (Feb. 17) at 7:00 P.M. It is being held in the Stokely Cafeteria on the campus of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City. Congressman David Davis is set to be the speaker, and I have been told that Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey is scheduled to attend and speak, as well. Tickets are $20, and for more information, you can contact Hobart Rice at (865) 548-8479.

I have attended more than my share of Lincoln and Reagan Day Dinners over the past couple of years, and I plan to pull back a bit this year. Besides Jefferson County, I currently have Hawkins County, Washington County (once a date is announced), and Knox County (again, once a date and speaker are announced) on my list of events to attend. That's a more manageable schedule than I have had in the past few years, when I've been known to attend three events in a given weekend. That just seems a bit much in a non-election year.

Second on GOP events this week is the South Knox Republican Club meeting on Thursday of this week at the Optimist Club Building in Gary Underwood Park. Commissioners Pinkston and Clark are usually at this meeting, so I am dreading it because there is good chance that I am not going to be a very nice person Thursday evening if they do attend. It's doubtful that the person they placed on to the Knox County Commission will show, as he has apparently made no public appearances, much in the theme of the Knox County Commission to be anything but accountable to the citizens of Knox County.

Finally, the West Knox Republicans are having their meeting tonight at the Copper Cellar. I won't be attending because 1) I don't live in West Knox and 2) Jack Bauer might need my help to save the U.S. from nuclear destruction in tonight's two-hour special event on "24." I hear that former UT kicker and current Knox County developer Fuad Reviez will be the speaker, though, so I can understand those who aren't afraid of Jack Bauer being eager to attend.

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Taxing Tennessee

In the past few weeks, Governor Bredesen has reiterated what I have been saying about him for some time now - he's just another tax-and-spend Democrat.

Bredesen - For higher state gas taxes.

Bredesen - For higher state cigarette taxes.

Bredesen - Against any food tax deductions.

All of this in the face of a gigantic revenue surplus and a state bureaucracy that is more obese than when he took office.

Many conservative commentators think Bredesen is just groovy and not at all bad for Tennessee because - with all due respect to them - they've been told that is the way it is and they haven't thought much for themselves.

The fact is that there are more people on the government payroll now than there were five years ago. The fact is that we are being taxed more now than we were five years ago. The fact is that the State of Tennessee spends more now on bloated government programs than it did five years ago (in fact, the State budget for 06-07 is nearly 25% higher than it was when Sundquist left office).

I am interested to see how Lt. Governor Ramsey fights to end the tax on food. Will he find a way to compromise with Bredesen, or will he stick to his guns and refuse to let yet another bloated budget come out of his chamber? The general feeling amongst most Democrats that I have spoken to on the subject is that Ramsey will roll over on this one. I hope they're wrong. I hope that Ramsey has more Dick Armey in him and less Newt Gingrich when it comes to dealing with the Executive.

There are many important issues before the General Assembly this year, but I don't see any more important than getting the unfettered growth of Tennessee government under control.

UPDATE: More from Terry Frank, David Oatney, Volunteer Voters, and Mark A. Rose, along the same lines as above. Of particular note are the figures in Rose's post, because, as he points out, there is still a massive government surplus with the tax on food abolished.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Last Word on Stallings

Yeah, this about says it all. Especially for you "King of the Hill" fans:



Child Support - Another Example of Failed Government Policy

I routinely accept appointments to represent parents - mostly men, but an increasing number of women - who are facing contempt proceedings for failing to pay child support to their former spouse. This system has good intentions - the welfare of the child - but is often misused by the former spouse, abused by the State (in this case, the District Attorneys), and misunderstood by my clients.

I'm not saying that mothers and fathers shouldn't fulfill their responsibilities as such. I would think that any regular reader of this blog would know better than to think that I would take such a rash position in the face of personal responsibility. However, the system that is currently in place in Tennessee is irrational at best and a focused attempt to jail the impoverished at worst. Yes, some people are trying to get away with paying their child support, and they should be punished for doing so. However, some people are being jailed for the single reason that they are poor.

I understand the General Assembly's stance. They want to appear tough on "deadbeat Dads." They even revamped the child support laws two years ago, selling the bill of goods as "more friendly to fathers." In my experience, it has been anything but that. When one runs a couple's income through the current calculations and compares it to the old system, it seems that the numbers are quite harsh with the new system.

It appears that the state of child support inequality is not exclusive to Tennessee. Check out this story from Florida:


FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - Sixteen months after his divorce, Richard Parker made a devastating discovery. A DNA test revealed that his 3-year-old son had been fathered by someone else.

Mr. Parker immediately filed a lawsuit claiming fraud by his apparently unfaithful ex-wife. He took his case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

Last week, the Florida justices ruled 7-0 against him. They said that Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support because he had missed the one-year postdivorce deadline for filing his lawsuit. His court-ordered payments would total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man's child.

"We find that the balance of policy considerations favors protecting the best interests of the child over protecting the interests of one parent defrauded by the other parent in the midst of a divorce proceeding," writes Justice Kenneth Bell for the court.

"We recognize that the former husband in this case may feel victimized," he writes. He then quotes a scholar to explain the ruling: "While some individuals are innocent victims of deceptive partners, adults are aware of the high incidence of infidelity and only they, not the children, are able to act to ensure that the biological ties they may deem essential are present."

In effect, the high court is saying it's partly Parker's fault for trusting his wife.


And herein lies the problem. The vast majority of my clients know nothing about how to challenge paternity (and by the time they get to me, it is often too late). The reason that I tend to get their cases is that they know nothing about how to file a modification of their existing child support when a change of circumstances (losing a job, a child aging out, etc.) occurs.

The system is broken. Putting a father or mother in jail - which means that they usually lose their job and cannot make future payments - doesn't help most of the kids at issue here. More often than not, it isn't even about the money. It's about vengeance, retribution. It's not a coincidence that many contempt petitions are filed soon after the former spouse starts dating again.

I'm not saying that this is the situation in every case. In some cases, the only way to get through to the man or woman is to throw their carcass in the County Jail. And most judges are more than happy to accommodate them - up to the 180 days that the General Assembly allows them to. But in most cases, I fail to see how this is helping the children.

I would love to see the General Assembly address the problem, but it won't happen. After skimming through the list of proposed bills thus far by the 2007 General Assembly, I see few that will help the problem. (Honestly, Democrat Rep. Sherry Jones seems to have the best bills in this respect.) Other bills proposed by Rep. Frank Buck, Senator Charlotte Burks, Senator Jamie Woodson, Senator Doug Jackson, and Senator Roy Herron will do nothing to help out parties in child support cases, serve as "window dressing," or will actually hurt the most economically vulnerable of our citizens.

No one wants to talk about this problem, and maybe I shouldn't have done so here. However, just because no one is talking about it doesn't mean that a problem doesn't exist.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


So, who is the "idiot" now?

It was just days ago that Kevin Stallings referred to Coach Bruce Pearl as an "idiot a------."

"Genius Kevin" then, having set the table for a needed win against the Vols, proceeded to coach up his Commodores. It's a good thing that he did that, because otherwise they might have lost by 50.

I was one of the 21, 493 who witnessed that brutal beatdown that the Vols laid on the Commodores, a 27-point shellacking that could have been much worse if Bruce hadn't called of the dogs in the second half.

I even brought the VOLConWife - a Vandy alum - to witness the destruction. She wore her Vandy apparel, which made it all the more sweet as she slunk down as the lead crept up to 30 points. (In all fairness, she proudly wears the Orange to all other games except Vandy, although I have instructed her that the words to the song are "Rocky Top will ALWAYS be...", not "Rocky Top will SOMETIMES be...")

So, Kevin, if you're going to talk the talk, you had better make sure that you can walk the walk. Otherwise, you might come off looking like a, well, "idiot."

UPDATE: You can check out the highlights - including two sick dunks by Chism - at


Thursday, February 08, 2007


Knoxville Ain't Bad (Even if the Government is a Joke)

In looking over UT's Class of 2007 that was assembled yesterday, one stat just jumps off of the page.

Coach Fulmer and his staff brought 47 prospects to Knoxville for official visits. Just 47. Of those 47, 32 of them signed letters of intent to attend The University of Tennessee.

That is an incredible percentage. I've never seen anything like it. I guess it just goes to show that if the UT coaching staff can convince a player to visit Knoxville, there's a decent chance that the young man is going to like what he sees.

Another stat of note - it is widely known that Tennessee doesn't produce enough high school talent to keep UT competitive in football (although this year was, as Fulmer put it, "the best year in the state of Tennessee that I've seen in 28 years of coaching and being around Tennessee football." That means that Fulmer has to go into other states and snatch their prize prospects, often in hotly contested battles with in-state favorites. The Class of 2007 boasts recruits from 13 different states. Compare that to Florida and LSU's classes, which are mostly comprised of recruits from within their respective home states.

Vol fans sometimes moan about certain deficiencies in playcalling or the like, but it's hard to find any faults with Coach Fulmer's recruiting success. He and his staff are quite simply the best there is - period.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007


National Signing Day, 2007

7:31 A.M.

Well, National Signing Day is here - a day that has become somewhat mythical for hundreds of thousands of diehard college football fans. Just check out the explosion of memberships with Rivals sites,, SuperPrep, and other sites dedicated to college football recruiting, and you'll see that speculating as to which football recruit has the most promise has become big business.

All that fans and coaches can do today is sit back and see if the work that has gone into recruiting these kids - from letters and text messages sent by coaches to fans welcoming recruits on official visits - pays off.

Once I receive word that the NCAA Letters of Intent have arrived for certain recruits at the Athletic Department offices, as I did last year, I will post so here and give a little take on the recruit's background and what Vol fans can expect from each particular player. If Tennessee can hold on to the verbal commitments that it has received over the past year for the Class of 2007, then we should be looking at one of the Top 3 classes in America come the end of the day.

Unlike last year, I am going to keep this in on continuous thread instead of a dozen hourly updates. We'll see if that works better or not.

The first LOIs are expected to be signed around 8:00 A.M. I should have another update around then.

8:04 A.M.

No LOIs yet, but I am hearing some news on two of the biggest uncommitted players that UT hope will choose the Vols today. Dwight Jones, the #4 WR in the country who could be (skills-wise) the next Randy Moss but still is a luxury with this WR Signing Class for UT, is sounding like he might be a UT Signing. He is set to sign between 10 and 11 this morning, and it is between Tennessee, North Carolina, and Clemson for Jones.

Marvin Austin, the #1 DT in the Nation, looks to be between Florida State and North Carolina. Some thought UT might have a chance with Austin, but I had some interaction with him during his official visit to Knoxville, and I felt right then that he wasn't interested in the Big Orange.

More to come...

8:14 A.M.

OK, three LOIs have just arrived here in Knoxville. They are from C.J. Fleming, B.J. Coleman, and Cory Hall.

C.J. Fleming

Highland Springs, Virginia
5’10”, 165 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #25 CB in America

Even with UT’s losses in the defensive secondary from last year, Fleming could be a possible “grayshirt” candidate depending on how many recruits Tennessee signs today. Once regarded as one of the best defensive players in Virginia, Fleming’s stock has dropped as more game film has become available.

B.J. Coleman

Chattanooga, Tennessee
6’4”, 180 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #10 QB in America; Top 250 Players in America

When UT offered a scholarship to Coleman in June of 2006, most Vol fans said, “Who?” At the time, Coleman was a lowly regarded 2-star QB in a run-oriented offense at McCallie in Chattanooga. Even to the most optimistic of fans, this looked like a stretch. However, the eye for talent that Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Fulmer have regarding QB’s has been validated by Coleman’s rise up the rankings in his senior year. Anyone who saw the film of his stirring field generalship this year in come-from-behind wins over Murfreesboro Riverdale and Brentwood Academy knew that Coleman has what it takes to play QB in the SEC. Coleman wrapped up his high school career with an outstanding performance in the national East-West All-Star Game, where he was selected by the coaches as one of the best recruits in attendance.

Cory Hall

Strongside Defensive End
Chattanooga, Tennessee
6'5", 255 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 2 Stars

Some Vol fans weren't too happy to see Hall commit to UT this week, as they believed (correctly) that signing him hurts UT's overall class due to his low star rating. However, those people need to quit thinking about recruiting championships and start thinking about SEC Championships. Hall is a sign-and-place, meaning that he will be at a prep school or junior college next year to work on his academics. However, you have to like Hall's attitude, as he would have been eligible immediately at Marshall or MTSU if he had signed with them but instead chose to sign with the Vols and their higher academic standards. Hall has incredible talent - 155 tackles, 22 sacks, 31 tackles for loss all in his senior year - but just needs to get his academics in order. He is probably the biggest sleeper in this class, but he could pay off down the road.

More to come...

8:26 A.M.

Word is starting to filter down that Ahmad Paige, 6'3" WR from Louisiana, may have committed to Coach Fulmer last night. Paige was down between Tennessee and Southern Cal. If Dwight Jones, Brent Vinson, Ahmad Paige, Kenny O'Neal, Gerald Jones, Tyler Maples, Darnius Moore, and Todd Campbell all make it in for the Vols, this could be the best wide receiver signing class - ever.

8:41 A.M.

Two more LOIs have arrived - those of Nevin McKenzie and Tyler Maples.

Nevin McKenzie

Athens, Texas
6'2", 210 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #12 JUCO Player in the Nation

McKenzie committed to the Vols and Coach Trooper Taylor just two weeks ago, choosing Tennessee over Florida. An outstanding junior college safety, McKenzie was all but offered the starting safety position at both UT and UF, both schools having lost their starting safeties recently (Florida's Nelson to the NFL, Tennessee's Morley to grades). Having struck out on safeties in this class, McKenzie may not be the highest rated signee Tennessee will have today, but he certainly may be one of the most important regarding the 2007 season due to his position. On film, McKenzie hits like Ronnie Lott - and I wouldn't say that about many players. The film doesn't show his coverage abilities (mostly because it focuses on the knockout hits that he apparently does with regularity). As with every JUCO that Tennessee brings in, McKenzie will be expected to contribute immediately.

Tyler Maples

Wide Receiver
Maryville, Tennessee
6'2", 180 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #18 Player in Tennessee

Maples is another local product that decided to stay in Knoxville. Some believe that he is a "possession receiver," but anyone who saw him play for the Maryville Rebels knows that he is nothing of the sort. Maples ran a blistering 4.38 40-yard dash at the Tennessee camp last year and has deceptive leaping ability on deep balls. It will be interesting to see where he fits in with this incredible class of WRs, but there is no doubt that Tennessee got a winner (3 State Championships) in Maples.

More to come...

8:54 A.M.

Georgia just lost their #1 Offensive Lineman to a decommitment. Bobby Bowden came in and stole Antwan Greenlee from under Mark Richt's nose. Don't feel bad for Georgia, though, because they are putting together a great offensive and defensive line class, although they are shockingly short on playmakers this year.

The 9:00 LOIs are right around the corner...

9:04 A.M.

Not too many players expected to fax in LOIs during this hour, with the big hour being the 10:00 A.M. hour.

I just received word that Josh Hawkins has faxed in his LOI.

Josh Hawkins

Running Back
Loudon, Tennessee
6’1”, 190 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #20 Player in Tennessee

Hawkins committed early to UT, and his game film is more impressive than his ratings by Rivals. Some have questioned the level of competition in assessing his game film, but he appears to be a decent running back with average (4.5 40-yard time) speed. Hawkins will more than likely find his way onto special teams early in his career, where he could make an impact as he waits his turn for inclusion in the running back rotation.

More to come...

9:10 A.M.

Five members of the Class of 2007 are already on campus, having enrolled mid-term and started classes in January. Here are those players.

Darius Sawtelle

Offensive Tackle
Birmingham, Michigan
6’6”, 295 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #10 OT in the Nation; Top 250 Players in America

Sawtelle is another legacy for UT, his grandfather (Darris McCord) having played for the Big Orange and eventually the Detroit Lions for 13 years in the NFL. Sawtelle was the first of the “big time” recruits to commit to Tennessee back last summer, and he is already on campus taking classes in Knoxville. While he and Cody Pope make up the offensive line class for UT, they both are on campus already and both look to be fantastic talents. Sawtelle was reportedly very impressive in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl against some of the best talent in the nation, and with the size of this class, his day as a starter on this team is only a couple of years away.

Cody Pope

Offensive Tackle
San Diego, California
6’5”, 275 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars

Pope was part of the 2006 Class and actually was practicing with the team in August when his test score was flagged. He was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and had to return to California. This was unfortunate since he looked to be much better than advertised. Here is what I wrote about Cody last year:

Cody Pope, who received an offer from the Southern Cal juggernaut only a few days ago, has kept true to his word and has signed with The University of Tennessee. Pope, who attends Cathedral Catholic in San Diego, California, is an underrated offensive lineman who, along with Ramone Johnson and Jacques McClendon, helps to form an imposing offensive line class (the strength of UT's class this year). At 6'5" and 268 pounds, Cody needs to add some muscle to his ample frame. However, Pope reminds me of the offensive linemen that UT used to have back in the early 1990s - the ones that could get out on screens and block downfield. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as a guard or center (if Josh McNeil has trouble overcoming his injuries) and seeing playing time around 2007. It also helps Tennessee to pull another talented player out of California, especially with the talent (including Jimmy Clausen) coming out of that state in 2007.

Well, Cody did add that muscle, training during his unexpected time in California at high altitude. He has already been readmitted to UT, and he is currently taking classes in Knoxville. While it may have been a rough ride for Cody, the extra year of growing, maturing, and getting stronger may be a blessing in disguise for one of only 2 offensive line prospects in this class.

Todd Campbell

Wide Receiver
Franklin, Tennessee
6’0”, 183 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #15 Player in Tennessee

Campbell is yet another Tennessee high school player that has chosen to stay in-state and play for the Big Orange. Although there is plenty of credit to go around – especially with Coach Trooper Taylor and Coach Fulmer – Campbell has to be given kudos for helping reel in several members of this class by taking up the banner of pushing the Vols on other top recruits. Campbell is already on campus taking classes, and the advantage that he will have over the other standout wide receivers in this class will be the opportunity to go through Spring Practice (which starts in just a matter of days).

Art Evans

Lakeland, Florida
6'1", 180 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #46 Athlete in the Nation

Evans may get overlooked in this class of stars, but his film shows that he is a prototype cornerback that should be able to contribute while at Tennessee. Everything I have heard is that he is a quality young man, as well. Having played against the strong high school competition in Florida, Evans could be the sleeper of this class (if a 3 star player can be considered a sleeper).

Donald Langley

Defensive Tackle
Germantown, Maryland
6'2", 295 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #12 DT in the Nation; Top 250 Players in America

Langley's film shows that he should be able to contribute fairly early in his career at a position of need for the Vols. His explosion off of the line might be the second best of this year's national class (behind Marvin Austin), and he doesn't seem to take any plays off (from reports from the Offense-Defense All-Star Game). Tennessee had to battle in-state Maryland and Penn State (where Langley's entire family wanted him to sign) for Langley's services. With him being on-campus right now and being able to go through Spring Practice, it's not unrealistic to think that Langley could be in the DT rotation in 2007.

More to come...

9:26 A.M.

Several LOIs are coming in earlier than expected. Savion Frazier, Darnius Moore, Daryl Vereen, and Brent Vinson are the newest Vols.

Savion Frazier

Outside Linebacker
Woodbridge, Virginia
6’0”, 209 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #37 OLB in America

Much like B.J. Coleman, several pundits questioned the scholarship offer to Savion Frazier, who at the time was a 2-star recruit at a position of strength for UT. However, Frazier has seen his stock rise much like Coleman’s, with Virginia Tech and Louisville offering the undersized OLB since he verbally committed to Tennessee. Frazier’s film shows a strong motor and tons of effort. While he may contribute early on special teams, Frazier could be a possible “grayshirt” if numbers become an issue for the Vols. That would allow Frazier time to put on the weight that it takes to play linebacker in the SEC.

Darnius Moore

Wide Receiver
Tatum, Texas
6’0”, 175 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #34 Athlete in America

A teammate of Lennon Creer at Tatum High School in Texas, Moore comes to Tennessee as a versatile athlete that will start on the offensive side of the ball but could end up being used at a variety of positions. A champion hurdler, Moore looks to me much like Mark Jones when he was at UT – capable of playing a variety of positions due to his incredible athletic talents. Moore chose Tennessee mainly over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Daryl Vereen

Running Back
Huntersville, North Carolina
6'1", 205 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #35 RB in the Nation

Vereen was an early commitment to Tennessee, and like B.J. Coleman, his senior year showed that Tennessee's coaches have an excellent eye for talent. Vereen was the leading rusher in North Carolina, gaining over 2,600 yards and scoring 31 touchdowns his senior year. There was some concern that Tennessee would lose Vereen when Lennon Creer committed to Tennessee and with strong interest from in-state North Carolina, but Tennessee's offensive coaches were able to keep Vereen in the fold. With Creer and Rogan, Vereen looks to be part of a special corps of running backs that should all see the field within the next few years at Tennessee.

Brent Vinson

Wide Receiver
Chatham, Tennessee
6'2", 180 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 5 Stars; #2 Prep School Player in America

Vinson originally signed with Tennessee last year, but academics forced him to take a one-year detour to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. The best friend of UT freshman basketball stud Duke Crews, Vinson never wavered in his commitment to the Vols. Last year, I wrote the following about Vinson:

Brent Vinson was one of the top WR targets of the Vols this year, along with Videl Hazelton (USC), Tim Hawthorne (Auburn), and Audrey Baskin (Syracuse). Of those, I would rank Vinson ahead of Hawthorne, even with Baskin (Baskin is bigger, but Vinson is faster), and behind Hazelton. In any case, all of those players are excellent WRs and should see the field early in their careers. Vinson picks Tennessee over Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Vinson is 6'2", 180 pounds, and runs a 4.3 40. Additionally, Brent can bench 320 pounds, has a 39 inch vertical leap, and a GPA of 3.1. Coach Fulmer can thank Bruce Pearl for assisting in the signing of Vinson, who is best friends with Duke Crews, a UT basketball signee that may start for Pearl's Vols next year.

"It is going to be great having Duke there. It makes it easier to go away from home. But Tennessee has had a great football program for a long time. They have had great players like Peyton Manning and Jamal Lewis and a lot of other guys. Plus, coach Cutcliffe is back to make the offense better."

Vinson likes his odds of gaining early playing time in Knoxville.

"I think I do a good job catching the football. And I understand that they struggled with that last year. But I also can do some things after I make the catch. I like to think that I do a good job with YAC (yards after catch) yards. I like to think that I can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain."

Vinson's performances at Hargrave were mind-blowing. During one game against West Virginia's JV team, he reportedly racked up over 400 yards of offense. With the rest of this year's predicted receiving corps, this could be an embarrassment of riches for Tennessee for the next several years at the receiver position.

More to come...

9:48 A.M.

Two more LOIs in to the offices on The Hill - Eric Berry and Kevin Cooper.

Eric Berry

Fairburn, Georgia
5’11”, 194 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 5 Stars; #1 CB in America; #3 Player in America

Eric Berry will be UT’s highest rated recruit in the 2007 Class, and he could be the most important due to his position. UT lost both of its starting CB’s from last year, so there is a real opportunity for Eric Berry to be a starter come the 2007 opener at California. All of these expectations surround Berry, yet he has only played CB in the Army All-American game on NBC in January. Berry played wherever he was needed in high school, which usually meant QB and Safety. However, those who coached him in San Antonio and watched him in that game have said that he may contain the best natural cover skills as any high schooler in the past decade. Berry was a natural fit for Tennessee, his father having been one of the captains of the 1981 Tennessee team and a former teammate of Coach Chavis. Given his incredible skill set, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Berry used on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball as early this upcoming season.

Kevin Cooper

Chattanooga, Tennessee
6’1”, 240 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #3 Fullback in America

Tennessee once again dips into Chattanooga for a RB. Unlike Gerald Riggs, Jr., Kevin Cooper is a bruising blocker who shows on film that he isn’t afraid of contact. Given UT’s problems at the fullback position this past year (where Coach Cutcliffe eventually elected to go with a one-back set since the FB’s were so ineffective), Cooper could see early playing time if he can master the pass-blocking schemes. With his frame and weight, Cooper could see the field early and often at Tennessee.

More to come...

10:14 A.M.

LOIs are flowing in to Knoxville. Welcome to the newest Vols - Chris Donald, William Brimfield, and Rolando Melancon.

Chris Donald

Inside Linebacker
Huntingdon, Tennessee
6'2", 220 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 5 Stars; #1 ILB in the Nation; #18 Player in America; #1 Player in Tennessee

Unlike recent years, Coach Fulmer has been able to convince the top player in Tennessee to stay in-state and play for the Big Orange. Notre Dame tried to pry Donald to South Bend, but the lure of playing for his boyhood favorite team in Knoxville was too great for Weis to overcome. Donald committed to UT on national television at the U.S. Army All-Star game, and he has been solid ever since. A close friend of fellow Vol signee Chris Walker, UT just seemed the natural place for Donald to end up. While Donald certainly has the speed (4.59 40-yard dash) to play MLB, it is his form tackling that is the most impressive on film. As the only MLB in this class, Donald will be expected to take over in the middle of the Vol defense after the current group of Mayo, Karl, and McCoy move on.

William Brimfield

Defensive Tackle
Neeses, South Carolina
6'5", 287 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 3 Stars; #28 DT in the Nation

Brimfield picked Tennessee over the home-state tandum of South Carolina and Clemson. While he might be the lowest ranked DT of Tennessee's class (compared to Langley and Melancon), he might be the strongest member of the class on film. His heighth may remind Vol fans of the days when John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth filled the middle of the defensive line at UT. Given UT's constant need for DT talent, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Brimfield filling an active role in the DT rotation come 2008.

Rolando Melancon

Defensive Tackle
Lutcher, Louisiana
6'2", 260 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars; #22 DT in the Nation

Melancon gave Vol fans a scare this past weekend, having taken a visit to see the lying snake Nick Saban at Alabama with his family. Melancon stayed true to the Big Orange, though, and his ability to fill the middle of the field will pay big dividends for Tennessee in the future. Although listed at 260 pounds, Melancon plays much bigger (and may be much bigger, actually). He doesn't play with the explosion of a Donald Langley or Marvin Austin, but Melancon can occupy multiple blockers, allowing the linebackers to roam freely and make plays. I expect either Langley or Melancon to see serious time on the field in 2007, although both (along with Brimfield) will form a solid defensive nucleus to build around for years to come.

More to come...

10:40 A.M.

Two notes: Dwight Jones, who was set to sign at 10:00 A.M., has pushed back his announcement and will now announce from his home. Could this be good news for the Vols, since it might be a bit tougher to sign for the out-of-state school in a public setting at the high school? We shall see.

Also, Alcoa's Kyrus Lanxter, a WR who had verbally committed to West Virginia, has reportedly decommitted and has signed a LOI with Kentucky. That's a bit of a surprise, and it shows that UK is heading in the right direction under Rich Brooks.

More to come...

10:49 A.M.

A telephone report from North Carolina has Dwight Jones signing with North Carolina.

10:54 A.M.

It appears that one of the deciding factors for Dwight Jones was his desire to stay near his infant daughter in North Carolina. It's a double-edged sword for Tennessee. They more than likely keep the electric Gerald Jones now, but Dwight Jones is an incredible talent that might only come about every once in a great while.

Five LOIs have made their way to The Hill. Four are expected (DeAngelo Willingham, Kenny O'Neal, Ben Martin, and Dennis Rogan), while one only announced his intentions today (Ahmad Paige).

DeAngelo Willingham

Palm Desert, California
6'0", 205 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars; #38 JUCO Player in America

Willingham, much like Nevin McKenzie and Kenny O'Neal, will be expected to perform immediately in his two years on The Hill. Coach Fulmer doesn't take JUCO players to have them learn and sit on the bench. Willingham probably projects as a starter in 2007, and, much like Todd Campbell and Eric Berry, he has played a major roll in recruiting other great athletes to make this one of Fulmer's best recruiting classes (if not the best).

Kenny O'Neal

Wide Receiver
San Francisco, California
6'0", 195 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 5 Stars; #3 JUCO Player in America

Kenny O'Neal's talent - which is immense - has never been an issue. One of the most sought after recruits in America upon graduation from high school, O'Neal signed with Florida State and actually played some at FSU as a freshman. However, he was dismissed from the team for "conduct detrimental to the team." A year in the JUCO ranks has helped O'Neal gain some perspective, and the burner from California is ready to make the most of his second chance. O'Neal's speed is legendary, as he had the fastest indoor 60-meter time in the nation in 2004 with a time of 6.68 seconds. This past year at the City College of San Francisco, O'Neal reportedly ran a 4.20 40-yard dash - putting him in rare air as a burner. O'Neal will be expected to perform immediately as a JUCO signee, and he certainly has the talent to do so.

Ben Martin

Strongside Defensive End
Cincinnati, Ohio
6'5", 230 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 5 Stars; #2 Strongside DE in the Nation; #20 Player in the Nation

Martin spurned such programs as his in-state Ohio State Buckeyes, Florida, and Notre Dame in surprisingly picking to play his football at The University of Tennessee. Martin did so in style, announcing his selection on national television at the Army All-American game. Because of the depth that UT has at DE, it is unlikely that Martin finds the field this year, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him starting come 2008. His wingspan is a formidible advantage for a DE, and he should be a well-rounded player, capable of playing both the run and the pass. I am still shocked that Martin didn't end up in Columbus, and pulling arguably the best player out of Ohio with OSU still a national power is a great coups for Coach Cutcliffe, who was Martin's primary recruiter.

Dennis Rogan

Running Back
Knoxville, Tennessee
5’10”, 167 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #8 All-Purpose Running Back in America

Anyone who has seen this Fulton Falcon play over the past few years knows what a special player Tennessee is getting from its own backyard. Rogan wasn’t as highly recruited by other schools due to what was perceived to be academic concerns (although he now projects as a full-qualifier), which is why prospects like Harrison Smith received more publicity over the more athletic and versatile Rogan. Rogan capped off a career where he rewrote the high school record books in Tennessee with a 208 yard, 2 TD performance in the State Championship Game this past December, giving Fulton its third State Title in Rogan’s 4 years as a player there. Having watched him dominate on the local scene, I will be extremely interested to see how Rogan performs once he gets to test his skills against the other athletes of the SEC.

Ahmad Paige

Wide Receiver
Sterlington, Louisiana
6’3”, 175 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #14 WR in America; Top 250 Players in America

Paige announced today in what has been a crazy recruiting experience for him. An early commitment of Florida State, Paige decommitted from the Seminoles one month from National Signing Day. His focus was on Florida, Tennessee, and Southern Cal down the stretch, with Florida being eliminated from the running last week. Paige’s film is impressive, but having viewed him in person at UT’s game against LSU, it appears to me that he will need some time in the weight room before seeing much of the field on offense for the Vols. Of course, that plan could change with Tennessee desperately needing help at WR with the departure of Meachem, Swain, and Smith from last year’s team.

More to come...

11:39 A.M.

Marvin Austin, a beast of a DT, rated the #1 DT in America, and the #7 player in America, has reportedly signed with North Carolina. The Tar Heels, along with Miami, Florida State, and USC, are having the best days amongst the few recruits that were uncommitted going into today.

Noel Devine, a RB out of Florida who has one of the best groups of game film ever created, is reportedly having cold feet regarding his verbal commitment to West Virginia. Devine's talent is incredible - I literally thought that someone had doctored the film when I first viewed him 2 years ago - but his academics are much more than a question. He is probably headed to junior college, but West Virginia would certainly love to sign-and-place him because most kids tend to honor their previous commitments when that occurs.

Two more LOIs are in to The Hill - Lennon Creer and Anthony Anderson.

Lennon Creer

Running Back
Tatum, Texas
6’1”, 202 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 4 Stars; #6 RB in America; #57 Player in America

Creer is the most highly ranked RB out of those that Tennessee is looking to sign in this class. A teammate of 2007 UT signee Darnius Moore, Creer is a power RB in the mould of Jamal Lewis. Having recently led Tatum to a State Championship while scoring an astounding 36 touchdowns in his senior season alone, Creer’s reputation as an exhaustive worker and as a back that isn’t afraid of contact gives UT the makings of a fantastic backfield in the 2007 Class with Darryl Vereen and Dennis Rogan. I thought that this class was set at RB with Vereen and Rogan (two of my favorite players out of this class), but Creer's physical style of play is a natural for a Fulmer-coached team. Trooper Taylor can be credited with signing Creer, who was highly coveted by Oklahoma and Alabama.

Anthony Anderson

Wide Receiver/Safety
Knoxville, Tennessee
6’0”, 175 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #40 Athlete in the Nation

It’s hard to believe that Anthony Anderson has been a verbal commitment to Tennessee for nearly one year to the day. Anderson is a very good athlete whose team had a poor year his senior season. It remains to be seen where Anderson will end up on the football field, but he certainly seems a candidate for an early redshirt while the coaches see where his talents will be best put to use.

More to come...

11:55 A.M.

Notre Dame is having a bad day (kind of like any time they have to play in a bowl game or a non-service academy). One message board regular just posted the following:

"Even the Pope has decommitted from Notre Dame today."

Florida has also had a few defections.

12:00 P.M.

UT has 27 LOIs in hand, with only about half a dozen possibilities still out there. All that remains are UT verbals Deshaun Barnes, Gerald Jones, Chris Walker, Gerald Williams, and Rufus Williams, as well as uncommitted prospect Marquis Maze (who is probably going to Alabama).

One needs only look at the number of players that have signed with the Vols that have mentioned Coach Trooper Taylor as a deciding factor in their decision to see how important Troop is to this program. Despite being one of the best position coaches, he is also our best recruiter (and needs a raise, AD Hamilton). Just read what Ahmad Paige, who just committed to UT today, had to say about his decision:

"Last night, I actually told coach Troop that I was going to Southern Cal," Paige offered. "But he talked me out of it. He stressed family and making sure they could see me play and that Tennessee was a great fit for me. Then, I talked to some other recruits. Some guys who weren't going to Southern Cal or Tennessee and that helped me see things. I just realized that Tennessee was the best place."

Trooper Taylor is worth his weight in gold, Mike Hamilton. Pay the man.

More to come...

12:10 P.M.

Joe McKnight, the #1 RB in the nation and #2 overall recruit in the nation, has just faxed his papers into Southern Cal. This is relevant to UT fans because McKnight was down to USC, LSU, Alabama, and Ole Miss. If we see McKnight on the field, it will be in a bowl game and not playing for the SEC Championship.

Notre Dame has lost another recruit, this one to North Carolina. Greg Little, the #13 Athlete in the nation, has chosen to stay in the Research Triangle and sporn the Golden Domers. Notre Dame isn't doing well with "Little's" today, having already lost Chris Little, the #11 Offensive Guard in the nation, to Georgia.

More to come...

12:30 P.M.

Noel Devine has apparently been advised by his adopted father, Deion Sanders, not to sign anywhere today. Apparently, he is going to go to a prep school and then reopen his recruitment in a year (or however long it takes for him to get eligible, which may be never). What a soap opera...

Kourtnei Brown, the #12 Weakside Defensive End in America, has decided to attend Clemson, leaving Alabama at the alter. It's funny - North Carolina's purchase of Butch Davis looks like a steal compared to the money that Alabama is paying Nick Saban to not recruit top athletes.

More to come...

12:42 P.M.

Another LOI has made it in - Tennessee's own Chris Walker.

Chris Walker

Outside Linebacker
Memphis, Tennessee
6'3", 220 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars; #14 OLB in the Nation

Walker is a lifelong Vols fan, so his signing with UT is the realization of a lifelong dream. Having spoken to his mother, their entire family is so thrilled that Chris will be attending UT with one of his good friends, Chris Donald. Walker flows to the ball very well, and he lays the wood when he gets to the ball. Donald could work a bit on shedding blockers, but he will be a starter for UT for 2-3 years. It will be interesting to see if Walker is redshirted in 2007 or sees time on special teams this year.

More to come...

12:55 P.M.

Brandon Paul, one of those incredible prospects that seems to always be available in Tallahassee, has surprised no one by signing with the Seminoles. Tennessee was initially one of the teams Paul was considering, but the defensive back might have been a bit worried about competition with Berry, Willingham, McKenzie, and Evans already on board. Besides, as mentioned below, expecting to land 2 recruits from Tallahassee in a given year isn't really realistic.

One more LOI has come in for UT - Deshaun Barnes.

Deshaun Barnes

Tallahassee, Florida
6’3”, 195 lbs.
Rivals Rating: 3 Stars; #25 Safety in the Nation

It’s very unusual for Tennessee to sign any player out of Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, which has functioned as a feeder school for Florida State over the years. Tennessee has lost many a player to the Noles out of Lincoln, particularly defensive backs. In Barnes, UT gets an excellent athlete at a position of need. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Barnes getting some playing time in dime situations as soon as 2007 given the losses that Tennessee has suffered in the secondary. One concern for Vol fans is the defensive staff’s tendency to turn defenders of Barnes’ size into small linebackers (like Ryan Karl). Barnes’ film seems to suggest that he should stay at DB.

More to come...

1:12 P.M.

In a bit of a surprise, Rae Sykes has signed a LOI with Tennessee.

Rae Sykes

Weakside Defensive End
Alcoa, Tennessee
6'4", 240 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars; #14 Weakside DE in the Nation

This is a bit of a surprise. Sykes has been consistantly linked with Brandon Warren, Alcoa's stud recruit from last year who ended up starting as a freshman at FSU, and it was widely assumed that Sykes would follow Warren to Tallahassee. That has obviously not happened, and Sykes will eventually make his way up Alcoa Highway to UT. I say eventually because it appears from all accounts that Sykes will not qualify academically this year, so he will likely be placed at a prep school or junior college by UT in the hopes of getting him academically squared away before bringing him on campus. From a talent standpoint, Sykes compares favorably with Warren. If he can get his academics in order, Sykes would make a powerful DE tandum with Ben Martin for UT in the future.

More to come...

1:23 P.M.

I previously listed Gerald Williams as one that UT was waiting on. That is not the case. Gerald Williams is a saga if there ever was one. Today would have been the 3rd time that Williams would have signed with UT, as he is a true casualty of an NCAA Clearinghouse that is making a mockery of this young man's life. Williams has received qualifying marks on the ACT, only to have the score voided because he improved the score too much. At least that is the NCAA's story. Williams is currently in junior college in California and hopes to be at UT next January.

Gerald Jones, a phenomenal WR that Tennessee badly covets, is set to announce in a few minutes at a press conference in Oklahoma. He has been a UT commit for some time, but Texas Tech and Oklahoma State think that they are the winners in this horserace. We'll know in a matter of minutes.

More to come...

1:51 P.M.

This press conference is taking forever...

2:31 P.M.

After what was probably the longest press conference in the history of mankind, Gerald Jones has honored his verbal commitment and signed with The University of Tennessee. I probably shouldn't have to write too much about Jones, since you can probably infer from the fact that I just listened to a friggin' presser that was over an hour (5 of Jones' teammates also signed, and everyone from the booster club president to this pre-school teacher wanted to talk) that he's an especially talented player. I heard in the past hour that he was going to Texas Tech and Oklahoma, but those rumors were false. He is all Vol.

Gerald Jones

Wide Receiver
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
6'0", 185 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars; #5 Athlete in the Nation; #87 Player in America

Jones verbally committed to the Vols back in November, but Tennessee has had to work hard to keep him in the fold. Of particular note, Florida Coach Urban Meyer guaranteed a guy I know in Florida that Jones would be a Gator as recently as December. Particularly troubling for the Vols coaching staff were concerns that Jones may have committed because of the bond formed with fellow Oklahoma native Robert Meachem when Meachem decided to move on to the NFL. However, Jones stayed true to his word, and now Tennessee has an incredible playmaker that the Vols could choose to use like Florida uses Percy Harvin (WR, RB, Kick Returner). Jones can do it all. Although it may be unprecidented at a school the caliber of Tennessee, it is possible that Jones, Vinson, and O'Neal - all newcomers to the program - could be your starting receiving corps come September.

A little more to come...

2:44 P.M.

In the midst of all of the Gerald Jones excitement, the LOI for Rufus Williams arrived, effectively completing Tennessee's class (barring Marquis Maze surprising everyone and choosing the Vols over Bama).

Rufus Williams

Weakside Defensive End
Titusville, Florida
6'3", 225 lbs.
Rivals Ranking: 3 Stars; #21 Weakside DE in the Nation

Williams is a guy who might get overlooked amongst the parade of stars that UT has put together in this class, but he shouldn't be. His film shows him to be a versatile athlete who could be used in a variety of ways. It appears that he will start at defensive end, where he projects as a speed rusher (think Constantine Ritzman). As per norm, any player out of Florida has to be taken seriously due to the high level of competition in the high schools in the Sunshine State, and that applies to Williams, too. With Martin and potentially Sykes and Hall down the road after prep school, this has the makings of a solid DE class for the Vols.

With 32 signees (7 over the one-year limit, but not a concern given last year's small class and a few signees heading off to prep school), that finishes the Class of 2007 for Tennessee. Depending on who you listen to and how they calculate their rankings, Tennessee has between the 2nd and 4th best class in the country. (Florida has the consensus #1 class in the country,and I'm not one to argue with that.)

Speed-wise, it is the fastest class in the nation, and it may be the best class that Coach Fulmer has ever brought to Knoxville. Given the WRs and DBs that Fulmer is bringing in this year, one would expect linemen to be the focus of next year's class.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and let's hope this recruiting success translates to fantastic results on the field for the next 4 years!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Our greatest President would have turned 96 today.

It's hard to believe that nearly three years have passed since the VOLConWife and I said good bye to him with so many other Americans in the Rotunda of the Capitol.



Programming Note

As reported last week, the Knoxville-area Chapter of the Tennessee Firearms Association will be meeting tonight at Bob's Mountaineer Restaurant in Seymour. Feel free to attend.

Also, if time permits, I will be liveblogging National Signing Day as I did last year. UT actually has a good shot at a Top 5 class in 2007 (compared to last year's dud), and I hope to be able to do this. As long as today goes as planned, I should be able to squeeze it in.

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Weep No More

Now that the time of mourning has passed for my Chicago Bears and their hopelessly inept quarterback (what do expect from a former Gator QB?), the time has come to return to our normal programming.

Anyone for some morally bankrupt Commissioners?

How about a grandstanding Mayor who is doing the right thing but probably for all of the wrong reasons? (Nice picture of Brian Hornback with the story, by the way.)

Wanna rap about a Governor who is to raising taxes as Barbara Streisand is to buying Democratic presidential candidates?

Yeah, me neither. All in good time, but not today.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007


Your Super Bowl Task, Should You Choose to Accept It...

It has come to my attention that many of you are unfamiliar with the words to "Bear Down, Chicago Bears." With a little over 6 hours to the Super Bowl, Bryan Griffin of Chicago's Lyric Opera has graciously agreed to tutor those who need some brushing up on the Chicago Bears' fight song.

You've got 6 hours, so get to learnin'!


Saturday, February 03, 2007


More on NFL's Discrimination against Churches

As reported here early Friday, the NFL is applying a double-standard regarding who can and who can't have gatherings for the Super Bowl, which is troublesome in itself because it is carried on network TV, for which the NFL is compensated at a ridiculous rate. The Family Research Counsel published a release late Friday that contained the following:


Assistant Counsel Rachel Margolies writes, "[The NFL] is consistent in refusing the use of our game broadcasts in connections with events that promote a message, no matter the content." This is an interesting contradiction, since the League allows businesses such as sports bars to broadcast the game to crowds in an environment that encourages alcohol consumption.

Obviously, the NFL is more comfortable promoting substance abuse and half-time nudity than it is endorsing positive role models like Dungy and Smith. Rather than provide a safe, healthy environment for families to gather and watch the Super Bowl, the NFL is suggesting that they abandon the church for the nearest bar. Attorneys at the NFL should concentrate less on intimidating churches and more on preventing another "wardrobe malfunction."



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Friday, February 02, 2007


It's Shufflin' Time!

Well, I couldn't get any Italian sausages from Portillo's, but the authentic Giordano's pizzas have made their way down from Chicago and are resting in my freezer. The trays of shrimp, veggies, and the finest meats and cheeses in all the land are being prepared at Food City. This is one Super Bowl party that I will never forget.

Having put up with taunts for the past two weeks regarding my Bears gear in court, I have to comment on you bandwagonning Colts fans. When did y'all decide to become Colts fans - before or after the Titans were eliminated from contention? I love Peyton, too, and if he is a Super Bowl champion come Sunday night, then I will be happy for him. However, I'm not throwing my team under the bus because I happen to like the opposition's QB and believe the judging of his achievements in college and the pros is ludicrous. Peyton Manning is one of the top three QBs in NFL history - whether he wins Sunday or not.

I do have faith in my Bears. That faith was confirmed when nearly every ESPN "expert" - yeah, the ones who had the rotten records at prognostication in this year's playoffs - picked the Colts to win. Yes, they picked the Colts, the team with a 4-4 record on the road in the regular season (compared to the Bears 7-1 road record).

My Bears have been shown a complete lack of respect for what they have accomplished this year. Rumor has it that they aren't happy with that, and a team playing for pride is a dangerous thing...

UPDATE: One e-mailer writes:

"COLTS: Count On Losing The Superbowl"

For those who asked this morning, this is the song that I was humming in court today (particularly the "punch out at work, can't wait to leave, Saturday's my Christmas Eve" lines):


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