Saturday, January 31, 2009
Red State Update: The Democrats' Stimulus Plan
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
How does that jive with Paul Blart: Mall Cop making $64,923,380 in only 2 weeks at the box office?
After Leo was born, we cut back on movie expenditures to only seeing blockbuster movies (Harry Potter movies, Watchmen, Star Trek, Public Enemies). Apparently, not everyone is hoarding money, though, and instead have no problem dropping the $17.00 (or more) per couple to see what looks like an average comedy.
As a former film critic, I remember the days when $100,000,000 in U.S. box office receipts was rarefied air.
Postal Service Looking at Cutting Mail Service to Five Days Per Week
I'd be interested to see which Member of Congress thinks his constituents want to pay more for less service from the USPS.
Hamas-backed Group Threatens Law Suit Against Pajamas Media
I've heard rumors over the past several years that Arab groups had been active in Ohio universities and colleges and that some of those groups had direct connections to terrorist activities, such as Hamas in this case.
Patrick's reports might be the first real effort at trying to expose these groups and their apparent link to global terrorism. Read his post and the links provided therein, because it's unlikely that you'll read much about it elsewhere.
I Can't Wait to See January End
Like every man in my family, I stayed away from the doctor's office and thought that I could handle this on my own. Yesterday was Day 20 of the illness. Angela convinced me that I wasn't getting any better. After being on the witness stand for over an hour yesterday (yes, sometimes we lawyers have to take the stand ourselves, which, I must admit, is a strange feeling), I managed to drag my carcass to see the Doc. He said I was in pretty bad shape and prescribed antibiotics, a cough suppressant, and Prednisone. I'm already feeling quite a bit better, but the Prednisone seems to be doing quite a number on my system. Working from home and not getting out in this strange weather is probably helping, too.
Between the illness and a tough month for UT basketball, I can't wait for February to arrive.
Point of Clarification
As an aside, I would like to write about bloggers endorsing, though. Some people think it's a ridiculous exercise. After all, why should a candidate care if a person who has as few as 200 daily readers (for a small blog) or as many as 350,000 (for a large blog) formally endorses their candidacy? If the issue is exposure, it can be very important for a candidate to have a blogger posting about events, positive stories, and copying press releases. This practice plugs people into campaigns in a way that a bumper sticker (which is another positive campaign tactic) or yard sign (ditto) cannot. So the knock on endorsements certainly can't be on the exposure side of things.
I think the main knock on blogger endorsements - particularly by other bloggers and the mainstream media - is that the blogger really doesn't have the expertise or the knowledge to make an informed endorsement. It's the "Who cares what he/she thinks?" argument. But let's look at that argument from another point of view. Who do you think knows more about Tennessee politics and political issues - A.C. Kleinheider or Dwight Lewis of the Tennessean? Sean Braisted or Marcy Bryant of the Chattanoogan? David Oatney or Jack McElroy of the Knoxville News Sentinel? Angelia or Robert Houk of the Johnson City Press? Yet, all of us - especially bloggers - point to every newspaper endorsement in a contested race like it means something.
After 2006, I have made limited to no endorsements in races. In 2006, I created a questionnaire that several candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat completed and returned. That led to an endorsement, and I still think that's the best way of going about endorsing candidates. If bloggers are going to endorse candidates, I encourage them to go about it in a professional sort of way, even if it means embracing a time intensive undertaking. Get out there and meet the candidates - you'd be amazed at how many of them will join you for some questions over iced tea if you'd just ask.
However, an endorsement is still an endorsement. What I was talking about yesterday was joining a campaign. Although I helped in spots in the various 2008 Tennessee races (and I am quite proud of that work, mind you), I didn't serve on a campaign. That was for various reasons, including helping Angela rebuild her private practice at my firm after she left the worst agency in all Creation, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. Angela's practice is alive and thriving now, so I don't have such limitations. That is the reason for yesterday's post. It wasn't for an endorsement.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
For the Record on the Governor's Race...
Zach Wamp, Bill Haslam, and Ron Ramsey are my friends. As I discussed with several other young conservatives at the Republican National Convention last September, I did not want to see a primary that involves all three of them, but it is obvious that I did not get my wish. The reason I did not want to see this primary is that I don't want to see the bloodbath that could result from a primary which causes a schism in the Republican Party. Let's face it - we got lucky in 2006. It was a brutal campaign, no doubt, and it took a great deal of fence mending by Bob Corker to keep the party together. I see this one being worse - not because of the men in the primary, but because of external conditions that have our party playing defense on the national level.
As of today, January 27, 2009, I am not on anyone's campaign team. I want to be very clear about that. I did attend Bill Haslam's event back on the morning of January 8th, and I enjoyed speaking with Bill, Jim, and the rest of the attendees. However, I am not a member of Bill's campaign. I say this because several of Zach Wamp's supporters and others have spoken to me going under the assumption that because I attended one meeting that I am on board with Bill Haslam. (Most notably, at the State Capitol on the day that Kent Williams committed political suicide, several Wamp supporters started working on me to change allegiances.) I want to be clear that I don't have an allegiance to change.
Will I jump into this fray? Perhaps. Like I said, I consider all three men to be friends. I am familiar with Bill's record as an executive, having lived in Knoxville during his terms as mayor. Ron is from my neck of the woods, and I remember him even before he was in the legislature. I was privileged enough to spend some fun moments with Zach in Minneapolis, one of which was not so fun when we watched our Vols go down to defeat at the hands of UCLA.
All three men have my phone number. None of them have, to this date, asked me to join their campaign team in a specific capacity. Therefore, I remain neutral as of today. That's probably not a bad thing right now as I offer my assistance on the Kent Williams matter. (And, without going into specifics, I am worried about how that particular matter is playing out.) It's early, too. Like most of us here in Tennessee, I have not embraced the two-year campaign quite as easily as others.
I hope that clears things up. If it doesn't, I'm sure I'll get plenty of feedback...
Monday, January 26, 2009
Red State Update: Obama Administration, Week One
Gideons Cross the Century Mark
"Gideons mark 100 years of giving out The Bible."
Quite an accomplishment.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
No Solid Link Between Financial Woes and Divorce
I found the couples in the story to be quite interesting, mostly because Angela and I come from diverse financial philosophies. I can't say diverse financial backgrounds, because both of our families have known hardship. I remember living in a trailer early in my life, while Angela's family was technically homeless for a period. However, our parents have different attitudes toward money. And if my parents would be called "tight" with money, then I would be called "supertight." Laugh if you must, but I will literally study every can of green beans at Food City, comparing the price per ounce, ingredients, etc., for minutes until I finally make a decision. When you add in the amount of time that it takes me to clip and categorize coupons every Sunday (which I usually do with football or golf on in the background), it is apparent that I spend quite a bit of time on being thrifty.
How Angela and I get along so well is that we communicate over every decision - and I mean every decision - that involves money. We've lightened up over the years on things like lunches (especially since we are both on the road nearly every day in different counties), but we still discuss just about every other purchase that we make. This seems to cut down on disagreements that lead to fights.
So what's my point? I completely agree with the piece in the Globe. Money is a scapegoat, camouflage for other problems in a marriage like failure to communicate, failure to synchronize goals, or being unequally yoked. Marriages end because of many reasons - from jealousy to selfishness to psychological problems - but I don't think that money in itself is one of those reasons.
Friday, January 23, 2009
"English Only" Goes Down to Defeat in Nashville
Admittedly, I haven't been following this debate much, save the 10,000 posts over at Kleinheider's blog. I don't feel especially strong on the issue only because I'm not sure if legislation is the best way to have people speak in one language without erasing Title VI (which I might be in favor of). I experience communication difficulties every day with clients who do not speak English. I see the courts constantly having to scramble for interpreters, who end up getting paid more than the attorneys in the case. Just Thursday, I represented a native of the Sudan who only spoke Dinka. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a translator that speaks Dinka? I do. And it's not cheap for the State, I can tell you that.
The curious parts of this debate for me have been the posts of my friend Nathan Moore. Nathan has posted that conservatives could not support the "English Only" amendment. I have read his posts against the amendment, basically stating that this is bad politics for conservatives and won't save Nashville much money. That's all well and good, but what Nathan has failed to do in his various posts is explain how his position of opposition is conservative in nature. I can see the political arguments, but if this saves money for governments that are already suffering economically, how can it not be a fiscally conservative policy?
I ask only because I do not know. If the money is a wash (which I tend to doubt), then perhaps "English Only" is a politically neutral policy, neither conservative nor liberal in nature.
Would someone like to explain this to a guy who doesn't think he has a stake in the controversy (given that I don't live in Nashville and can't see this happening in Knox County, where we're too busy perfecting Republican-on-Republican crime)?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Quickly on House Committee Assignments
I know I've been preaching slow and deliberate action by the Tennessee Republican Party regarding Williams' status as a Republican, but actions like what he pulled today (again, on a brief look by yours truly due to trial obligations) should sway many of those where sitting on the fence.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
White House Website Gets Liberal
MORE: Looking at Obama's homosexual agenda by Fred Jackson of OneNewsNow.com.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Williams' Sexual Harassment Incidents Resurface
Based on an old document obtained by the Nashville Post, apparently one of the things that Williams wants is to see Representative Susan Lynn naked.
A Big Gathering on the National Mall
I remember a much bigger assembly on the National Mall over a decade ago, when a multicultural assembly of men pledged to "Stand in the Gap." I was there, and that was a crowd.
The rest of the day has been spent playing with Leo and watching DVDs. (He's sleeping right now, so The Dark Knight is playing, a welcome break from Elmo and Backyardigans.)
Everyone is ga-ga over the Inauguration, which is their right. I just choose not to be. I've been to my share of Inaugurations, and its much ado about nothing. It's a series of rhetorical speeches, parties at taxpayer expense, and fantastic fundraising opportunities for the party in power. Those things don't excite me when my guy wins. (I probably would have gone if I knew the candidate, but that would have been out of respect for him or her; I consider that to be part of loyalty to friends and candidates, not personal enjoyment.) Why would I be uppity about the opposition party's candidate being sworn in? Besides, it appears that all of the networks - including the treacherous FoxNews - are plenty excited, enough to make up for my apathy.
As a taxpayer, I am a bit concerned about the Inauguration. I keep hearing price tag estimates around $150 million. That would be three times the most expensive Inauguration in United States history. During a time when people are losing their jobs, bedrock American corporations are liquidating their assets and seeking protection from their creditors under bankruptcy laws, and consumer spending is sinking to a level not seen in my lifetime, I would have thought a little financial restraint - maybe as a sign of actual modesty - would have been called for. Apparently not.
Monday, January 19, 2009
RIP, Senator Joe Biden
Erick's mention of LBJ is spot on. See ya, Joe. If it wasn't for your insufferable arrogance, you would have been a fairly likable Democrat.
Labels: Obama Administration
Friday, January 16, 2009
New Report: Obama Favors Same-Sex Marriage
The Windy City Times has the complete story.
MORE: Family Research Council picked up on the story, although I haven't seen much from the mainstream media thus far.
Ammunition for Men - Study Says Romantic Comedies Bad For Your Love Life
And you have scientific research to back it up.
What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger - and This Cold Just Might Kill Me
My voice was a bit better on Thursday, although I probably felt worse. If the case scheduled for the afternoon in Blount County Juvenile Court hadn't been one that I had been involved in for over 17 months and was set for conclusion, I probably would have been laid up in bed.
That being said, I was unable to attend Blogger Night with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night. (You can get a complete recap from Frank Murphy over at his site.) Likewise, I was unable to attend the Blount County Commission meeting, where our good friend Peggy Lambert was selected to take the place of newly elected Representative Robert Ramsey on the Commission.
Sometimes I have to laugh about how I garner certain information before it is released. The Daily Times and certain other commissioners were seemingly shocked at Lambert's quick rise to the Commission, as only some other guy named Huddleston had been formerly nominated for the job. Heck, it's been at least 5 months since I was told that Peggy would more than likely take Ramsey's spot. I'm just glad that it's done with, because it's somewhat disconcerting to keep reading headlines like "Huddleston Looks to Join Commission" when I don't remember doing anything of the sort.
Now let's see if I can get to feeling better...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
KSO Concerts Thursday and Friday
Why do I mention this? Because many bloggers are planning to attend, and being seen with the likes of us can only boost your social standing.
January 13, 2009: A Day That Will Live in Infamy
I hadn't planned on making the trip to Nashville to witness the swearing-in of the new Tennessee General Assembly members and the voting for the Lt. Governor and Speaker positions. While I've worked on many, many House and Senate campaigns in the past and been invited to the Capitol for the festivities before, my time after the elections has either been spent recuperating from the previous campaign or getting geared up for the next one.
After receiving some correspondence from friends and colleagues this weekend, I experienced a quick change of mind and decided to make the drive Tuesday morning as a form of celebrating the hard work of 2008. Angela often says that I don't bother to smell the roses enough and enjoy the fruits of my labor, so I thought that this might be a way of enlightening my view of Tennessee politics.
The trip was going to be difficult, though, as my around-the-clock work on a lengthy trial last week had left me a physical wreck. My immune system was weakened enough to catch Leo's cold, which has been plaguing me since Saturday. After spending most of the night rocking and consoling him Monday night, I wasn't in much shape to travel. Angela urged me to go, though, because she knows how seeing my friends in the General Assembly raises my spirits. The snow that was falling in Crossville Tuesday morning didn't help, either, but it was of small consequence.
I arrived at the Capitol well over an hour before the sessions were to convene. The early arrival aided me in speaking to several State Executive Committee members, constitutional officer candidates, Senators, Representatives, Congressmen, grassroots activists, and staff members, so many that listing them here would be inviting disrespect when I leave someone off the list.
I should say at this point that I had no concerns about either election. Republicans with even the least likely chance of being persuaded to break ranks had been consulted over the past week by various parties. Kent Williams was viewed as by far the most likely problem, but multiple individuals had approached him in the 24 hours preceding the session, and he had assured them that his vote was solid.
I did not attempt to cram my sick corpse into the House gallery, instead opting for the cooler confines in the rotunda between the two chambers of the General Assembly. This enabled me to view proceedings of both chambers and mingle with friends and colleagues, some of whom I had lost contact with and hadn't spoken to in over a decade. The Senate started close to time and moved expeditiously. The House, on the other hand, was trouble from the start.
First, Speaker Naifeh filed in late with a smile on his face. It wasn't a cordial smile, either. It was Naifeh's usual smirk that makes you think he has something up his sleeve (if not for younger eyes here, I would use the slang form of an "excrement-dining smile"). I looked over at Vance Cheek when Naifeh went by, both of us having witnessed Naifeh's strut and both of us exhibiting looks of concern. Democratic Rep. Gary Odom moved immediately to recess for a couple of minutes. Rep. Mumpower paid Odom's motion short shrift, but Odom surprisingly won the motion by one vote.
As the recess began, I grabbed the first friendly face I could find exiting the House doors. It was Rep. Stacey Campfield, who assured me that freshman Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver had misunderstood the question on the floor and had accidentally voted to grant the motion instead of table it. (I confirmed this with multiple other GOP Representatives at the time.) During the break, I spoke with a group of conservative GOP activists, at which time I stated that if a "miracle" were to happen and the Democrats would hang on to power, that they would point to the recess as the necessary element in their conquest, the key to their superior tactics. (And, voila, my predictive powers were vindicated on that count, even though the Democrats didn't all meet together during the break, which kind of spoils that version of what happened.)
When Kent Williams' name was put forth through nominations, the word that seemed to echo through the rotunda was "bait." However, I wasn't concerned. After all, Kent Williams had told colleagues and activists alike that very morning that he was still loyal to the Republican caucus' choice.
Because of Williams' name being at the end of the Republican party manifest, he cast the last vote. And when he did, all hell broke lose. People booed. Mouths hit the floor. Calls of "traitor" and "villain." Curses from Republicans and Democrats alike could be heard. As the new Speaker was being sworn in, I left (along with many of the Senators and their families). It was obvious to me (with a memory of 2001 in my head) that this situation was ripe for confrontation. Given this report, it appears that the Speaker thought so, too. As one of the Senator's wives said, "I hope that they have security set up for the new Speaker, because he might not get out of here unharmed when people who have devoted blood, sweat, and tears to this cause leave the gallery and accost him face-to-face." Knowing that I have a tendency to speak my mind, I thought it best that I leave, too.
I attended a luncheon with several of my friends thereafter, including Senator Mike Faulk and members of his family, Congressman Bill Jenkins, Tennessee Federation of Republican Women do-everythings Jennifer Little and Dagmar Schoenhoff, GOP campaign manager Darrin Kirkus, and several others. We continued to get text message updates from those still at the Capitol, including news of Williams sealing his fate by voting for Rep. DeBerry for Speaker Pro Tempore.
After eating a fantastic meal, I drove back to Knoxville, stopping once in Cookeville to change clothes for the UT/UK basketball game. And we all know how that turned out. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
A Democratic operative that I call my friend who was not part of this plot described the move as "a kick in the nuts." I told him that I didn't think that was completely accurate, because we had to see what the reaction was. If the Tennessee GOP is more fragile than I imagine and falls to its knees, then the description of a blow to the groin is on point. However, as I pointed out to him, as an individual, I am not bowed; I stand still. If anything, I am more determined than ever. At a time when I was unsure what my next move was (leave politics? cash in my chips and become a bureaucrat? join a 2010 campaign? run for State Chairman if Robin Smith runs for Congress?), this occurrence strengthens my resolve. It has not killed me; it will make me stronger. And the Tennessee Republican Party needs to react in the same manner.
Keeping in mind that I give a great deal of the credit for Republicans being in the majority to our State Party and its bold behavior, I believe immediate talk of stripping Kent Williams of his bona fide status is a bit premature. Yes, Williams is dead meat if the State Executive Committee brings the matter of his status to a vote. The by-laws were strengthened in 2008 to make sure that the rules had teeth to them, and Williams can be kicked out of the party at any time. But that is my point - rash decisions could be detrimental in the future. Let's be more than novice chess players and see four or five moves down the road like a Grand Master before we start doing things that cannot be undone. If Williams' behavior warrants removal from the party - and I think it will after seeing his behavior towards Rep. Kelsey and others today - then we can deal with that shortly. But let's do it on our terms and within our duly recognized rules.
So what do we know?
1) Kent Williams is a liar. That much is certain. He told everyone that he approached the Democrats to hatch this plan. I have been told that is 100% not true. I suppose that Williams is trying to make himself to be brighter than the puppet that he really is through this tall tale (which may be in the face of many in the grassroots and lobbying community who don't exactly reference Williams as the sharpest tool in the shed).
2) Tennessee has a problem. At a time when leadership and legislative responses will be crucial due to a global economy that is in crisis, I expect very little worthwhile legislation to pass out of the House over the next two years. Forget Williams' inability to lead for a minute. The problem here is that Naifeh, Odom, and Williams have raised the stakes of partisanship to a level we are unaccustomed to seeing out of Nashville. It is unrealistic for people to say, "Well, you lied, deceived, and embarrassed us at a crucial moment in the history of the state, but let's see how we can work together in a trusting relationship to move the state forward." That action lies outside of the norms of human nature; perhaps people in mental institutions or a man that believes he was fairly elected U.S. Senator from Minnesota would believe it.
3) Someone needs to take the reigns of leadership of the Republican Caucus. The two most likely people are Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey or Tennessee GOP Chairman Robin Smith. However, both are rumored to be interested in other jobs (Ramsey for Governor, Smith for the 3rd District Congressional seat) in 2010. Ramsey's demonstrated ability to raise funds certainly makes him the most obvious choice, as, assuming a Williams ouster from the party, Ramsey could assist in fundraising for the GOP nominee. Carter County is in Ramsey's neck of the woods, too, so his leadership could prove influential in this area. Which leads us to...
4) Kent Williams has committed political suicide. Several Democratic commentators who have probably never walked across the Covered Bridge in Elizabethton, fished in the Doe River, or spent a relaxing day on Watauga Lake are saying that Kent Williams doesn't need a "R" by his name to win in 2010. They don't know Carter County at all. I'll say this - Mike Williams had a much, much greater chance of retaining his seat in the independent-minded 4th Senate District than Kent Williams or anyone else has of winning Carter County without the backing of the Republican Party. Surely even Williams had to have known this. Which begs the question - is the acquisition of short-term power and an extra $60,000 worth the remainder of your political career?
5) Republicans will never be able to match Democrats when it comes to treachery. It's interesting, but this was something I have been pondering for some time now. For those of you who (like me) are fans of the show, the Republicans' struggle greatly ties in with the hit television show, "24." In order to stop the Democrats, who, like the terrorists play by their own set of rules, the Republicans need a rule breaker themselves - their own personal Jack Bauer, if you will. But that isn't going to happen. The Republicans I know at the state level want maximum sunlight on their processes, want to follow the rules and by-laws set for their actions, and want an end to the backroom deals made in smokey rooms on Capitol Hill. They need Jack Bauer, but all they have are the FBI agents that can't stop the terrorists because of their belief in interrogation without torture, deference to the rule of law, and following agency protocol.
But the Republicans shouldn't try to beat the Democrats at their own game. As Bruce Springsteen concluded in "Trapped:"
With the Republicans not being good at dirty tricks, what's the next step? Easy - create a margin of victory that is so overwhelming that no bribe, no misreading of parliamentary procedure, no attempt to override the will of the people will be successful. And, in this state with this electorate and strong, well-funded candidates on the heels of the buying of a RINO and the overturning of the valid election of Rosalind Kurita, we are on the precipice of doing just that. Our bench in deeper, our campaigns are run better, and we can win despite the ridiculous gerrymandered districts throughout the state.
Monday, January 05, 2009
2010 in Tennessee
Labels: 2010 Tennessee Governor's Race
Tragic Solution to Child Support Obligation
I've been warning folks that this sort of thing is an inevitability given our broken child support system. The vast majority of folks would never sink to this heinous of an act, but sane, stable individuals aren't the only ones ordered to pay child support.
In the current state of the national economy, I don't think that this story is the last of its kind for 2009. I wish that wasn't the case, but we have to come up with a better way of making both parents realize that they have a responsibility - both financial and otherwise - when they bring a child into the world short of threatening them with incarceration.
Labels: Child Support