Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Romney creates faith-based office

Mass. Governor Mitt Romney continued to veer Right yesterday, creating an office to assist faith-based groups in securing federal funding that will be chaired by his wife, Ann. While I applaud the move, I view it as more political than principled. Romney is trying to go Right in time for 2008. Many GOPers are buying it. I'm not (and this is one reason why).


Shots Across the Bow

Rich Hailey, the blogger for Shots Across the Bow, is taking no prisoners this week. Monday, he took on the Republicans. Yesterday, he gave the Democrats both barrels. Who will be the next target of his wrath?

I met Rich this past weekend at Michael Silence's soiree, at which several local bloggers attended. In talking with him, I thought him to be more conservative than his profile indicates. Perhaps that was in relation to SayUncle, whose ultra-libertarianism I simply cannot understand, as I don't see the good in threatening to burn the American flag if it is outlawed, not voting, refusing to recognize that one can be a "conservative" and still not be a "Republican," and pushing special homosexual rights, but that's just me.

In any case, Rich talked the talk of a real conservative. One statement that I would take issue with is his mulling over voting for Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Don't be fooled, Rich. Obama's record is as conservative as my basketball prowess is legendary. I agree that the Republicans are bearing away from conservative principles, but the facts show that it isn't time to drink the Obama Kool-Aid. That's almost as bad as voting Libertarian - a party that has no chance at reforming itself because the tenets of its platform are too far afield of mainstream America.

Overall, though, I feel Rich's pain. We conservatives have had our teeth kicked in throughout 2005 - by the courts, the Congress, state governors, and the Bush Administration. We need to vent some frustration, and it appears that Rich is doing just that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Developer proposes to demolish Souter's home?

I am thinking that this is a hoax, but it is funny even if it is. According to this press release, developer/media mogul Logan Darrow Clements has filed a request with the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire, to seize Justice David Souter's home in order for a more profitable hotel to be built.

I wonder if Clements is interested in a whole line of "Lost Liberty Hotels?" Other possible building locales could be found in D.C. (Ginsberg), Illinois (Stephens), California (Kennedy and Breyer), and Memphis (Kelo-supporter Harold Ford, Jr.).

UPDATE: For the record, Michael Silence beat me to this story by over an hour.

MORE: According to WorldNetDaily, this is not a hoax. Interesting...


Wal-Mart heir dies in plane crash

John Walton, the middle son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and the 11th richest man in the world, has been killed. His death was a result of the crash of his experimental ultralight plane in Wyoming. Whether you despise Wal-Mart or not, this death is tragic. John Walton was an extremely giving man, especially in regards to educational causes. He was a "man's man," constantly building engines, motorcycles, and aircraft. An Army vet with the Green Berets and Silver Star winner, John Walton, 58, leaves behind a wife and son. He will be missed.


Turley on SCOTUS

One of my wife's old professors at GW Law and a regular on the cable news circuit, Jonathan Turley, has an excellent analysis of how a shift of one or two votes in the Supreme Court completely alters the face of American law. He also penned these lines:

"Yet, liberals have learned that there are actually judges to the right of Rehnquist, a number of whom are on the short list to replace him. It is like Luke Skywalker celebrating the demise of the Emperor only to learn that he was considered the mild-mannered runt of the litter."

That might make this process sound cooler than it really is, but reading the whole article shows the importance of this decision in terms of the country and President Bush's legacy.


Reactions to yesterday's SCOTUS rulings

I have spent most of this morning reading the various reactions to the Supreme Court's decisions announced yesterday. One of my favorites is from Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, a Vanderbilt Law alum:

"Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the public display of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse is merely the latest example of judicial disregard of the rule of law in favor of what Justice Scalia today called the 'personal preferences' of the 'dictatorship' of a shifting Court majority. By advancing what Justice Thomas called their "judicial predilections" over the text and history of the Constitution, politically motivated majorities of the court have undermined the integrity of the judiciary and thereby the foundations of our country. This is an ominous development, for 'If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?' [Psalm 11:3]"

My answer would be to stay strong, stay diligent, and keep on hitting your knees.

Monday, June 27, 2005


SCOTUS: Ten Commandments fine for we, but not for thee

It was ironic that this morning, as I was driving through a beautiful stretch of road known as Baker Highway in Scott and Campbell Counties, I was admiring the beauty of my state and thanking God for creating such majesty. Only after one has lived in the concrete jungles of Chicago and Washington can one truly appreciate what we have here in Tennessee. I say that it was ironic because it was then as I traveled back to Knox County that I received word that the Supreme Court had continued the confusing methodology of ruling certain Christian legal displays in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, while others were found wanting and illegal. (The opinions, which I haven't finished reading, can be found here and here.) I am not surprised, but, as with the Kelo decision last week, I was hoping for a light in the darkness that is the expanding Establishment Clause doctrine of the Rehnquist Court. In normal times, I would probably be hopping mad about this decision - where the Ten Commandments are ruled illegal in a Kentucky courthouse by a Court sitting before a mural containing the Ten Commandments - especially since I worked on gathering some evidence for the Kentucky case several years back when I was a law student. However, I feel a bit worn down right now, as I suspect several of my conservative brethren are. As Glenn Reynolds recently opined on Instapundit, conservatives don't have anything to cheer about in 2005, having consistently lost out with decisions from the White House, Congress, the courts, and select state government entities. Reynolds can't even remember when the last big conservative victory occurred.

I may have other bloviations about this topic later, but one thing I have been pondering deserves print. Given the public outcry over the decisions released at the end of this term and how concerned Chief Justice Rehnquist is with his legacy, I can't see him stepping down this summer. I know that may disappoint several of my conservative friends, but timing is key to how you are remembered, and Rehnquist wants to be remembered fondly. A line of unpopular, anti-conservative holdings could tarnish his legacy. I could see him wanting another year (with potentially a different judicial line-up if O'Connor retires) to end with a bang instead of a whimper.


Consequences of having a blog

A warning to my fellow bloggers - there are real consequences to having a blog. No, I am not writing about just having your name attached to your opinions. Jason Nemes, a 27-year-old Louisville law grad, was recently selected by the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, Joseph Lambert, as the Chief Justice's new chief of staff and general counsel. Oh, and Jason had a blog as a law student, Sixth Circuit Law, that supported his personal conservative viewpoints. With a little digging, I have found that the blog (which is currently retired) initially focused on the decisions of the 6th Circuit but later expanded to other issues. There should be little said about these facts, except that Jason should be commended for keeping his personal convictions intact through the liberal hazing that is law school.

However, the Lexington Herald-Leader (which I can attest as being one of the South's most liberal newspapers from my exposure to their product during the summer of 2001) decided to introduce Jason's blog as evidence that he should not be advising the Chief Justice. First, there was a slanted story in Thursday's print edition. That was followed by some not-so-subtle jabs in the paper's "Editorial Notebook" section. Several other outlets in the Commonwealth picked up the story, making Jason one of the most known chiefs of staff in the South - and all at the age of 27.

Several other bloggers have commented on the story, including Doug Petch, How Appealing, and Feministe. I hope that Jason isn't discouraged by all of this. He sounds like a kindred spirit - lawyer, spent time on Capitol Hill, conservative, mid-20's, perplexed by the Sixth Circuit, had the gumption to (politely) question the decision-making process of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice (his was Ginsburg, mine O'Connor) to her face. Now, if I just had that salary of his...


Weekend soirees

I'd like to thank Michael Silence for hosting a little get-together on Saturday evening at his lovely abode. My wife and I had a wonderful time. Several bloggers attended, including SayUncle, Les Jones, John Brown, Knoxpatch, and Rich Hailey, as well as several of the Knoxville News-Sentinel guys and gals. As you can probably imagine, there was no shortage of opinions. And, no, none of the children in the picture on No Silence Here are mine. (When would I find the time for one?)

Later that evening, I took the VOLConWife to WIVK's "Saturday Night on the Town" on Gay Street in downtown KnoxVegas. The music was OK (Keith Anderson managed to butcher some good country songs), but the best event was people-watching. Very interesting stuff, my friends. The KNS estimated that 50,000 people may have attended the event. I'm not sure if it was that many, but it was definitely one of the bigger summer crowds on a hot Knoxville night.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Bowers, indicted for bribes, asks for more

State Senator Kathryn Bowers was indicted last month as part of the FBI's "Tennessee Waltz" sting for bribery and extortion under the federal Hobbs Act. Now she is asking lobbyists to reduce her "campaign debt," which is currently a legal act. However, if she were to use that money to, for instance, pay for a mountain of legal expenses she is about to incur, the act of asking for lobbyist gifts is in itself against Tennessee law. So, as there is no way to efficiently track where the money is going, you're supposed to trust her - a person who has done more to erode the public's trust of Tennessee legislators in such a short time than anyone in state history - that she will put this money to the use she is saying she will put it to. Just trust her.


Mark Greene, spokesman for the Tennessee Lobbyists Association, believes that Bowers will have no problem raising the money. As he put it,

"She's a senator until she's not."

From what I have heard over the past week, that "not" is where the smart money is - and soon.


Bad Columns

Some people are born to write. It is a talent that God gave them. Others are born singers, auto mechanics, researchers, protectors, and athletes. When one uses God's gifts in the proper way, it can be a beautiful thing.

But when someone who believes this -

"Here in this country, where you go to church is mostly a social question."

and this -

"Our founding fathers made sure that our Constitution ensured the separation of church and state...."

writes a column about Christian education, the result is more Buttafuco than Picasso. Why do some columnists - an increasing number over the past few years - insist on writing about areas in which they have no experience or education? Even if one has no experience or education on a particular topic prior to writing a column, research has never been easier than it is today. Yes, columns are a good part opinion, but if it is an uninformed opinion, it shouldn't have a place in an actual newspaper. I have found that the best columns often require as much or more research than the average factually-driven article. One positive in all of this may be that the good columnists are easier to find these days; their work is more easily discerned from the rest of the field.


Rafting companies, TVA reach Ocoee agreement

I am a big fan of whitewater rafting on the Ocoee, so I am thrilled to read that the rafting outfitters in Ducktown and along the Ocoee have reached an agreement with TVA regarding water release. There isn't a great deal of industry in that neck of the woods (Polk County), and talks that I had with several of the rafting professionals last year (the VOLConWife and I rafted the Middle Ocoee on my birthday last August) indicated that this agreement was not a sure thing. Anyone who hasn't experienced this awesome feature of Tennessee needs to make your way to Ducktown, Ocoee, or Reliance (if you are looking for peace and plenty of isolation, I recommend Lost Creek Cabins, where we stayed last year). Just remember to hold on...


Supreme Court possibilities

For those readers who are only now starting to familiarize themselves with the short list of President Bush's possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, this article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal is a fantastic start. I have been studying potential judges since President Bush was first elected in 2000, and the WSJ article is a great introduction to the field. It is a bit light on recent objections to Judge McConnell (which surfaced nearly two weeks ago). My preferences haven't changed much lately. In order, they are:

1) Judge Michael Luttig (4th Circuit)
2) Judge Samuel Alito (3rd Circuit)
3) Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Circuit)

This excellent article - one of the first to talk to actual people inside the Bush White House - in Thursday's Chicago Tribune declared that I should be happy with how the selection process is progressing, with Luttig and Alito being recently interviewed. (Hat tip and discussion: The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.) As I mentioned earlier today, I cannot support Alberto Gonzales. The strike against Wilkinson is his age (61), a decade older than Luttig. Judge Roberts has a nearly invisible paper trail - much like Justice Souter before he was nominated. While that might help him in the confirmation process, I would hope that conservatives have learned their lesson from the disaster that was Justice Souter's nomination. Judge McConnell looks equally as unreliable on key issues. In any case, the Tribune report was good news, indeed.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Latest rumor: O'Connor to step down next week

Since no one can get enough of the federal judiciary, the latest rumor - as read in The Daily Standard - says that it is O'Connor that will step down next week and not Chief Justice Rehnquist. This makes sense. First, I met with Justice O'Connor in 2002 and 2003. She is not in the best of health and appeared quite frail. Second, as Orin Kerr at Volokh writes, O'Connor has not hired a fourth clerk for the upcoming year.

The second part of the rumor is what steams me. Mark my words - if Alberto Gonzales is Bush's nominee to replace O'Connor, then this conservative has had enough of President George W. Bush. I will be in Washington immediately to voice my opinions to everyone who will listen. If a supposedly pro-life President Bush appoints a pro-choice Gonzales to SCOTUS...

Let's just say that there will be enough conservatives "obstructing" President Bush that the Democrats will have plenty of company. And I pity the GOP Senators that squire Gonzales through Senate Judiciary and the floor vote. They do so at their own political peril, because campaigning in the snow of New Hampshire isn't as far away as you think.


Redemption for the federal judiciary?

Showing that the federal judiciary can deal with the tough questions, the 7th Circuit rejected a prisoner's appeal that Wisconsin's incest statute is unconstitutional. How Appealing has some commentary.

So you may not have any property rights after today, but at least you know that prosecutions involving incest will be upheld.



SCOTUS: What is ours is ours, and what is yours is ours if it is part of a development plan

"The law of the land ... postpones even public necessity to the sacred and inviolable rights of private property."
- William Blackstone
1 Commentaries on the Laws of England

I have read the opinions (that can be found here), which were not overly long, given that the majority and two dissents only amounted to 58 pages. Like most bloggers, I am aghast at the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London. While I disagree with Bill Hobbs that libertarianism is what is needed to beat back this tide of big government enslaving the American citizen (conservatism deals precisely with this problem, as well), I think that we call can agree that this decision shows that the elites in this country - whether judicial, legislative, executive, financial, or corporate - have free reign over all of us. The true scope of this decision is hard to predict, but the Court surely handed governments - from the biggest to the smallest - the ammunition to take all of the real property you own if they can make a straight-faced argument in court. That's scary. If governments start to seize property right and left, how can it be said that we live in a free society? For us Tennesseans, a better question might be: would such actions trigger Article 1, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution, whereby we have a duty as Tennesseans to reform or abolish a tyrannical government? Also of interest is Article 1, Section 2, as an unrestrained use of eminent domain power by local and state governments is "absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind," thus making such actions constitutionally permissible under the Federal Constitution (as established in the long standing tradition established about 10:00 this morning) but against the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. (I, of course, would like Professor Glenn Reynolds' views on this, because he was my Advanced Constitutional Law professor, and I was a mere student.)

Reactions across the Blogosphere have been swift and strong. David Bernstein uses the decision in Kelo to dismiss liberal critics that believe the Left is against big government. Eugene Volokh focuses on the unusual positions taken by the different sides (and gets hammered for his analysis in the comments section). Jay Bush sees this as more proof that a legal mind like Ed Bryant's is needed in the Senate Judiciary. SayUncle has an impassioned if not analytical view of the decision. Blake Wylie calls it a "national tragedy." Liberal journalist Brittany at Nashville Is Talking believes that liberals and conservatives are united in protest over Kelo. Liberal South Knox Bubba (who I am happy to link to now that he is no longer anonymous - as a former journalist, I don't do anonymous sources) is worried about the South Knox riverfront project - and I join his feelings because I was thinking the same thing a few weeks ago as anticipation of this decision grew. John Walter sees the progression of the government claiming everything (like "the Nothing" from The Neverending Story?) - except Barbara Streisand's house. Glen Dean is outraged and writes that this is why the courts are so important (a thought echoed by Professor Bainbridge). I agree in their importance, but it's hard to blame the Democrats for this one when Souter and Kennedy are necessary to round out the majority. Doc B sees one glaring weakness (maybe more glaring in some blue states than in some red ones) in this new wild west of eminent domain - churches. At Daily Kos... well, there is an example of where "liberal" stops and "communist" begins.

Professor Reynolds has several thoughts, both on Instapundit and at Reynolds does not believe this to be a far departure from precedent and that the law was moving in this direction. While I concur, you can't blame a guy for dreamin', right? I certainly predicted this outcome - maybe not so sweeping, as Justice Stephens was taking no prisoners with his majority opinion that was concurrently eloquent yet revolting - but I held out hope that the power of eminent domain would finally be limited, that big government would lose one battle in this war, that Americans could one day be free like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe I asked for too much, because I feel that everyone - liberal, conservative, libertarian - lost today, as we are all Americans. I suppose that there are some winners, but they are the elites. I once argued that Elite Theory was alive and well in our nation's government while sitting in Professor Anthony Nownes' "Political Parties" course and felt depressed in my own beliefs. That depression has undoubtedly returned.

One area of hope that is somewhat alluded to above - state law. Tennessee has a way - violent and bloody as it may be - with dealing with government that runs amok. Several other states -Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington - have state laws that deal directly with the problem of eminent domain. So, if you have confidence in your state legislators, there is still some hope for your property rights. (So why do I feel less hopeful for Tennessee?)

A few final notes... Mainstream media seems to be focusing on Justice O'Connor's dissent (as seen in CNN's report). While it was well-worded and strong (O'Connor focuses on 5 justices rewriting the Constitution to fit their own outcomes), I think they are missing the boat by ignoring Justice Thomas' excellent rebuttal to Stephens' majority opinion. Thomas' dissent is a clinic on how analysis - of the verbiage, syntax, diction, capitalization, definitions, and punctuation - should be performed on legal standards to derive the true legislative intent (or, in this case, the intent of the Founding Fathers). Thomas deals with history and original meaning, which the Court seemingly has little answer for or use of. Thomas, however, also shows that he is a realist. He forecasts that this policy will be adopted by the elites as a new weapon against the less privileged. I pray that he is not correct, but I can see little way outside of state protections that his unfortunate vision is not realized.

I was glad to see Justice O'Connor quote from Justice Chase's opinion in Calder v. Bull, a 1798 property rights decision:

"An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority . . . . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean. . . . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it."

Amen. It is against all reason, and a legislature wouldn't do such a thing. But an out-of-control judiciary did.

All in all, freedom took a hit today in America.

UPDATE: Relating back to Jay Bush's observations above, an e-mailer reminded me that Ed Bryant was endorsed by the League of Private Property Voters during his last campaign, scoring 100% on the LPPV's voter index every year that he served in the Congress. Accompanying the endorsement was this statement from then-LPPV Chairman Donald Fife:

"Ed Bryant is a solid, dependable Congressman who has stood up for the rights of land owners through thick and thin. We know where he stands, and he has done a great job in Washington, DC. I strongly encourage Tennessee voters to send him to the Senate."

Thanks for the heads-up, loyal readers!

MORE: John Brown has an astute observation - maybe we are just renting our property and don't own any of it.


Back to business

My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, for my lack of blog involvement over the past several days. I had some urgent family business that demanded my attention, and, no matter how much I love politics and other pursuits, my family comes first. So, to dispel some rumors, I was not at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville (although I probably should have been, given the SBC's eroding stand on sin - the same way that the Methodist church began to disintegrate in the 1990s), giving Coach Phil Fulmer legal advice regarding his players (who are acting more moronic every day - even years after they have left the program), or taking part in the protest at Bredesen's office over TennCare. I was, however, able to attend the grand opening of the Regal Pinnacle 18 (thanks to Betsy Pickle for the early schedules) and work in an interview over Gitmo interrogations with Terri Friedman of The Daily Beacon.

I'll try to put together a few posts this afternoon. Possible subjects include a long overdue post on the GOP Statesman's Dinner from this weekend, the U.S. Supreme Court making me glad that I can bear arms (especially in Tennessee), and a Kentucky legal/political blogger being harassed by Democrats. More to come...

Monday, June 20, 2005


Danforth: Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers

Former Senator and RINO posterchild John Danforth wrote this column in Friday's New York Times defending his unprincipled herd of RINOs. Danforth, of course, opines in error throughout the column. First, what is a "moderate Christian?" I have never heard the phrase, and it seems an oxymoron. The Bible teaches that a Christian is transformed when he becomes such by accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. That isn't a moderate metamorphosis. Does Danforth mean that he moderates the effects of Christianity upon his life? I would sadly respond to that reading as someone who never really accepted the teachings of Jesus, because He taught that believers should embrace the world as a countercultural movement. (For more on this, I recommend Tom Minnery's "Why You Can't Stay Silent.") That is the assumption that I must make, but the final decision is between that "moderate Christian" and the Lord.

Danforth, in this column and in other op-eds and interviews he has given over the years, likes to subtilely paint Christian conservatives as a little nutty, saying that we "know God's truth" while not saying how we receive said "truth," leaving open the possibility that we are in a constant auditory dialogue with God. I certainly can't speak for all Christian conservatives, but I read my Christian thought from The Bible. I assume that Christian RINOs do the same, but the difference is that they don't let the words change their political tact. They embrace pragmatism over principle. Danforth says in his column:

"It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions..."

Yes, but is it really a conviction if you don't act on it? I will have to take your word on your "Christian convictions," Mr. Danforth, because there is little evidence of such if you don't allow your convictions to make a mark on your political life and policy positions. Overall, a typically disappointing showing from Mr. Danforth, one that only moves us further down the road to Pat Buchanan's predicted splintering of the GOP.

MORE: For more commentary on Mr. Danforths' op-ed, take a look at Jeff Harwell's blog, SouthTennBlog. Jeff espouses on the issue with a slightly different - and certainly more eloquent - take than mine.

EVEN MORE: Danforth isn't the only one attacking Christian conservatives. Check out the goings on at Mirror of Justice, in a post on David Rubenstine, Dean of Cardozo Law School. After reading Rubenstine's ignorant remarks, I feel so fortunate to have studied under a great Dean.


Kurita tries to connect with East Tennessee Democrats

There is an interesting interview with State Senator Rosalind Kurita, the sole challenger to Harold Ford, Jr. in the 2006 Democratic primary for Senator Frist's seat, in today's Kingsport Times-News. Kurita's "working woman" schtick and stand on firearms may play well with some East Tennesseans, but her "more money will fix TennCare," lack of solutions on the jobs issue (is it really an issue with the strong jobs numbers over the past 15 months?), and pro-choice rhetoric will certainly not. Said Kurita:

"I am a genuinely conservative Democrat with a record to back it up."

As long as one distinguishes a "genuinely conservative Democrat" from someone who is genuinely conservative, I have no problem with that, because there is a big difference between the two labels. "Genuinely conservative Democrat" doesn't look a whole lot different than RINO Republican.


More on motorcycle helmet laws

The Kingsport Times-News came out today against proposed changes in Tennessee law that would allow motorcycle operators to ride without helmets. The analogies the editors use with regards to seat belts and riding in the back of pickup trucks are the same ones I have used over the past few months.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Saturday night in Nashville - The 2005 Statesmen's Dinner

As I posted in this space a few days ago, the 2005 Statesmen's Dinner is set for Saturday night in Nashville. My plans have changed, and I will be attending the events (a special "thank you" to all of those who have helped make this possible), including the receptions the 2006 Senate candidates are hosting after the dinner. I plan to post my experiences - God willing, with pictures - Sunday morning. I would liveblog the event, but a) I don't have the equipment to do such on little notice and b) I don't want to drive the VOLConWife (just doesn't have the same ring as "InstaWife," now does it?) crazy, as she will be accompanying me to help out at the GOP event.

By the way, whether you are attending the Statesmen's Dinner or not, Ed Bryant has invited everyone to Presidential Room A at the Opryland Hotel after the dinner (around 8:30 P.M.) for dessert, coffee, and a chance to talk with him and his lovely wife Cyndi. If you live in Nashville and don't like to pass up free desserts, stop on by.


Interesting legal headlines

For whatever reason, Thursday saw lots of legal news. Maybe that has something to do with Friday morning tee times and maybe it doesn't, but here are a few of the ones that piqued by interest.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Looking forward to a fantastic weekend

If you are a sports nut like me, this weekend has a great deal to offer. For those in East Tennessee, you have the Knoxville Open, the Nationwide Tour's oldest event. If I had the time, I would have loved to have made it out to Fox Den to cheer my old classmate and former PGA Tour winner Garrett Willis. I still scan the sports wire for news of Garrett's rounds. Also for those in East Tennessee, the Tennessee Smokies are returning home from a long road trip that saw them win all seven games played, including three against a taught Birmingham Barons squad. The Smokies open a four-game series against the Carolina Mudcats tonight at Smokies Stadium. Of course, many will opt to stay indoors this weekend and watch the UT DiamondVols historic run in Omaha as part of the College World Series. And some guys have other fantastic adventures planned.

While I will certainly be keeping tabs on all of that, my main sports focus this week is on golf's U.S. Open (which is not treating a few Commodores nicely). The run-up to this tournament has been a bit difficult to handle, as Pinehurst No. 2 was the site of the last major that one of my heroes, Payne Stewart, won only four months before his death in a plane crash. I admit that I have shed many tears over the various flashbacks and introductions related to ESPN and NBC's coverage of the event. Bob Costas, on his new HBO show "CostasNOW," profiled Payne's son, Aaron, and how Lee Janzen, one of Payne's rivals on tour and a fellow Orlando resident, had taken to playing golf with Aaron, even entering father-and-son tournaments together. It was very touching.

Payne, along with Cal Ripken, Jr., Bill Elliott, and Jim Courier, were my heroes growing up. They all possessed certain qualities that made them giants in their respective sports, but it was the way that they gave to others, the way that the loved the life that God had given them, and the way that they gave all of themselves in everything they did - whether it was as an athlete, a father, a patriot, or even as a role model to a young fan that they didn't have to stop and talk to buy did anyway. When I lived in Orlando as a boy, I knew of Payne Stewart before he really hit the big time. Success never changed with Payne - the money, the fame, the celebrity didn't turn him. The only changes I ever saw in Payne were 1) when his wonderful wife Tracey and their beautiful children came into his life and 2) when Payne accepted Jesus Christ into his life. The right things changed Payne, and that, I suppose, is why his loss at such an early age grieves me so.

Judging by my reactions to the various video tributes to Payne and articles such as this, I have no doubt that I would have an incredibly difficult time making it through "Payne Stewart," a biography of Payne written by his wife Tracey. When reading about the way that Payne touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with, you begin to recognize the true greatness of this man. You also see why he was a great role model. In an age when many sports heroes are idolized for all of the wrong reasons (Kobe Bryant, Randy Moss, and Barry Bonds come to mind), one must be careful when allowing a young man to choose sports stars as role models. I don't believe that my father was too worried when I choose Payne, even if I insisted on wearing plus-fours and a tam-o'-shanter on the golf course.

I'll never forget the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. The drama of Payne trying to capture a title that had so cruelly eluded him only a few years earlier and the nervousness that surrounded Phil Mickelson, whose wife was about to go into labor at any moment, was simply overwhelming. Add to that the incredibly difficult course conditions of Pinehurst No. 2 (will anyone ever forget poor John Daly trying to get his ball to stay on the par-4 8th hole, eventually carding an 11?), and the stage was set for a title for the ages - regardless of the tragedy that was to follow. And through it all, after that historic putt fell on the final hole that made Payne Stewart the U.S. Open champion, his remarks to a devastated friend in Phil Mickelson said it all. Payne told him that none of it mattered, that Phil was going to be a father in a matter of hours, that he was going to be a great father, and that was more important than any trophy would ever be. Jack Nicklaus, my second favorite golfer of all-time, said the following after Payne's death:

"The loss of Payne Stewart was a tremendous one for the golfing world and for me personally. Payne was a devoted family man and a man of strong faith. He was a great champion who truly respected the game, and he will be sorely missed by anyone who ever knew him or had the pleasure of watching him play."

I couldn't agree more. I still remember watching the memorial for Payne at the Tour Championship only days after Payne's death. I watched the event on television from my condo in Chicago (why I wasn't attending classes that day I cannot recall). I remember the tears, but I also remember the perfection of the moment. A thick fog enshrouded the golf course that day, and a lone bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as he walked down the fairway into the mist. It was perfect, but it made me ache. I still have a hard time with the premature loss of Payne Stewart, as this is the first time I have ever written about it. Even though some things are difficult, they still need to be expressed. My heroes taught me that.

I probably will post little on Father's Day. If you need to read something on Sunday that is a tribute to those who taught you lessons about how to navigate through life's rapids, reread this passage. I can't do much better than this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


More Filibuster Fall-out: RINO DeWine's son defeated in Ohio primary

Defeated GOP Candidate Pat DeWine

For those GOP senators that helped forge the compact with the Democrats that handicapped the will of the majority on judicial nominations, you should be warned that your next campaign will be difficult. Take a look at Pat DeWine, son of Senator Mike DeWine, he of the treacherous 7 GOP Senators that turned against Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Before the filibuster fray, Pat DeWine, running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd District, had a huge lead in the polls and a commanding lead in fundraising. After his dad showed his true RINO colors, DeWine's campaign went into a tailspin. Yesterday, Ohio conservatives said that they had enough DeWine with their meal and awarded Pat only 12% of the vote and a distant 4th place finish. (Final results from Ohio can be found here.) The L.A. Times credits DeWine's monumental collapse to the efforts of Christian conservatives to seize upon his dad's treachery, his floundering on the abortion issue (like "SpongeBob" Corker), and his refusal to speak about his divorce from 3 years ago.

The DeWine family is just starting to feel the wrath of Ohio conservatives. If former Congressman John Kasich can be talked into challenging DeWine in 2006, Pat and Mike might both wish that Mike hadn't sold out their party's majority status. In one flawed move, two political careers may come crashing down.


Man of "Steele" coming to rescue Maryland

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele - one of my favorite conservative Republicans and a man who has seen his stock rise exponentially in the past year - announced this morning that he has formed an exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes. I had urged Marylanders over the past few months to draft Steele. He is very charismatic, and that might make the difference in a race with former NAACP head (and scandal magnet) Kweisi Mfume. (Mfume has at least five illegitimate children from three different women.) You can catch an interview with Michael Steele - where he recognizes the power of political blogs - here.

Considering that he would be the most conservative politician elected from Maryland in my lifetime, this announcement is something for even those of us lucky enough not to live in Maryland (which many of its residents refer to as "tax hell") to get excited about. Steele is to the Right of Governor Ehrlich (a friend of my grandfather, a resident of Maryland), which would normally make him unelectable in liberal Maryland. However, if there was ever a chance to elect a strong conservative to office in Maryland, it is now. I urge the National Republican Senatorial Committee to make this race as much of a priority as Tennessee and Florida. All three of those states need to stay in the hands of conservatives, and if Michael Steele, Ed Bryant, and Katherine Harris are elected, they will be.


TN GOP Statesmen's Dinner set for this Saturday

Senator John Thune, the entire Tennessee Republican congressional delegation, and candidates for future office will be in attendance at the 2005 Statesmen's Dinner at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville Saturday night. The Knoxville News-Sentinel gave some coverage to the "Most Powerful Room in Tennessee" (Tennessee GOP Chair Bob Davis' phrasing) in today's edition, although the lion's share of the article was centered around the dysfunctional Democrats and their hero who couldn't deliver, trial lawyer John Edwards.

Yes, I received my invitation some time ago. No, I am not going. It's not because I don't want to make the trip to Nashville. On the contrary, it sounds like an interesting night. No, I'm not going because of the $250 pricetag. If someone wants me to go, feel free to put up the money for a ticket and I will attend, make observations, and report back on this site. Unless that happens, though, other information outlets will have to suffice.


Baker Donelson COO resigns

There are two rules that one must remember to pass the MPRE, often referred to as the "ethics portion of the Bar exam": 1) don't steal your client's money, and 2) don't have sex with any party. Apparently, (allegedly) having sex with a party's wife can cause problems, too.


Jenkins: FBI raid in Cocke County was poor allocation of resources

Congressman Bill Jenkins, who represents the 1st District of Tennessee and served as my congressman for a great deal of my life, spoke out against the FBI raid that landed 144 people in jail for cockfighting-related offenses in (ironically) Cocke County. Some Lefty liberals will howl that the same argument should be made for the "Tennessee Waltz" raid. My response to those people is that government corruption (a federal felony) trumps cockfighting (a state misdemeanor). All laws need to be enforced, but let the state law enforcement deal with cockfighting busts and the feds deal with elaborate (by necessity) government stings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005



Sorry for the language, but I just spent 45 minutes on a great post regarding Katherine Harris, TeamGOP, Doc B, and political elites. You can't read it, though, because - FOR THE SECOND TIME TODAY - the Blogger program screwed up, logged me out, and failed to publish the post. Ann Althouse and others have left Blogger in the dust recently because of this kind of incompetence. I will be exploring other methods now, as well.


Florida vouchers battle

George Will, one of my favorite columnists, takes on Florida's renewed battle over school vouchers in his latest column on The tagline says it all:

"Teachers unions fighting school choice for the children of poor families in Florida use 19th-century bigotry and 21st-century obscurantism."

Teachers unions are fighting vouchers programs because they threaten their power - 1) over the young minds that were once attending public schools but are turning away from those institutions in droves, and 2) over school teachers who wouldn't be members of unions if they didn't have to remain so for purposes of staying in a tolerable work environment. I hope they lose on both fronts.


Victory for the Rule of Law in New Jersey

A New Jersey appeals court ruled today that the New Jersey Constitution does not contain any provisions that would allow for gay marriage in the state (also on here). In a 2-1 decision, the majority stated:

"Plaintiffs' claim of a constitutional right to state recognition of marriage between members of the same sex has no foundation in the text of the constitution, this nation's history and traditions or contemporary standards of liberty and justice... (A)bsent legislative action, there is no basis for construing the New Jersey Constitution to compel the State to authorize marriages between members of the same sex."

What a novel concept - allowing the elected lawmakers to make the laws! Other power-hungry members of the judiciary must be stewing over that remark.

You can read the opinion (which is quite lengthy) here. This won't be the last we will hear of this case, as it will certainly be granted cert by the New Jersey Supreme Court.


Gee, something's different here...

When I first started VOLuntarilyConservative, I posted that I had no plans to place advertisements on this site. Last week, I started an experiment with Google's Adware to see if it took away from the site and if reader's found it beneficial. After one week, it is apparent that no one really cares about those ads - and given what is being advertised there, who could blame you?

Rather than completely kill all ads from this site, I decided to change the experiment parameters. Taking a page from Mark Rose at Right Minded, I turned to Amazon and their ad program, which is much more pleasing to the eye and - more importantly - serves more of a function for this site. With Amazon, I am allowed to pick the books, music, and movies that I want to advertise on this site. If a reader buys a book from one of these links, I get a small percentage of the purchase price. However, it is the book and movie recommendations in which I am really interested. After all, a vacationing Glenn Reynolds has been pointing to his favorite book titles, so why shouldn't I?

With regards to the books, here are a few tidbits. Every Amazon link is a book that is currently in my library. For me to recommend that you buy a book that I don't have on my shelves is disingenuous. The same goes for the CDs. The ones that I have posted are not only ones that I own, but ones that I have been recently listening and enjoy. In fact, they are many times what is playing on my CD-ROM when I am posting. I have also made every effort to link to the actual editions of certain books or translations that I own (such as with the books authored by St. Augustine and Sun Tzu). Some of my favorite books and CDs (such as Matt Staver's "Faith and Freedom," F. LeGard Smith's "ACLU: The Devil's Advocate, Abraham Kuyper's "Christianity: A Total World and Life System," J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," and music by The Floating Men) are not included because the specific versions or editions were not available or the ads did not contain a picture, making them not aesthetically appealing. If readers would want me to include those ads, I would certainly be willing to do so.

Obviously, these aren't all of the books that I enjoy. I took this view when looking at my choices: if I had to recommend books to my first-born for reading, which books would I consider essential to his spiritual and ideological growth? Obviously, The Bible (King James Version, of course) would be at the tops of the list, but I figure that most of you already own one of those, so I only included the commentary ("The Classic Bible").

As always, I am interested in what readers think of this change. Feel free to include comments or questions.


Maryville School Board embraces censorship

SayUncle comments on a story regarding a dramatic change in school board policy in Maryville, Tennessee (just south of Knoxville and home of Lamar Alexander). The policy bans flags and other items from school events. It should be pointed out that Maryville High School's mascot is the Rebel, so local sources are (correctly) pointing out that the Confederate Flag was the actual source of the ban, even if the actual wording censors any action:

"associated with oppression, hate, or anything else that may cause other students, parents, visitors, constituents, school district employees, spectators, or any other individuals to feel uncomfortable based on race, color, creed, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious belief/non-belief... This includes verbal, non-verbal, and physical acts.''

Director of Schools Mike Dalton shows how PC he can be with this quote:

"As long as you've got kids and families offended by what we do, we have to be concerned about it. It may not be popular, but it's the right thing to do.''

Wrong on all counts, Mike. Rarely is censorship ever "the right thing to do" - especially in a school system that touts itself as broadening minds but really is in the business of stifling thought and creativity.

Free advice for the Maryville Board of Education - rethink this policy. I'll tell you right now - if you are challenged in court, you will not win. Actions like yours make young attorneys start to think of taking a case to challenge your rule that violates the First Amendment, because this is a chance to right a wrong, even on a pro bono basis. Looking at public remarks made by members of your board and previous drafts of the policy, you have no shot of winning this potential case. All that you will accomplish is embarrassing Maryville and wasting taxpayer dollars in the defense of censorship, and I doubt that anyone wants that.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Supreme Court vacancy news

Andy Schlafly on WorldNetDaily has a damning profile of Judge Michael McConnell, considered by many to be one of the top three choices to replace a retiring Supreme Court justice this summer. Equating anyone to Souter is enough to rally the conservative troops against McConnell.

Meanwhile, Rodger Citron believes that a politician is needed to lead the Supreme Court after Rehnquist is no longer Chief Justice. I certainly hope that he doesn't believe that using O'Connor as an example will sway those in Bush's base that this is a good idea.


Democrats morph filibuster strategy

The Democrats are following an old trial strategy - if you can't beat 'em to death, work 'em to death.

This could lead to some very interesting requests by the Democrats, but the goal is still the same. Despite contentions in the Washington Times article to the contrary, this is still about warring ideologies.


AJC questions Frist's 2000 campaign finances

Michael Silence questioned why the "Red Coalition" wasn't blogging about this report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Well, I have to admit that I hadn't read it because today was a long and exhausting travel day, with work in the courts of Carter County and other legal matters back in Knox County. Having read the report, I have a few reactions:

1) Excellent bit of investigative journalism by the AJC. I usually resort to calling the AJC some rather infamous names as a parody, but they certainly don't deserve it here.

2) I understand why Frist doesn't want to talk on the record, because there are other people in campaigns that handle monetary matters. These people are specialists and must be trusted to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Yes, the buck stops with the candidate, but a candidate that micromanages all aspects of his/her campaign has a label come the election - "loser."

3) It seems that the Frist campaign poorly handled what should have been an afterthought of a campaign. I have never worked a Frist campaign (I was a bit green in 1994, and 2000 was a cakewalk), so I don't feel comfortable commenting on such fine details of their campaign strategy. However, this does reinforce one of my personal preferences, and that is to not work exclusively with the financing aspect of a campaign. I relish being out on the trail, but the FEC has made working the financial disclosures too much for even the heartiest of political wonks to embrace.

This story doesn't seem to have legs, but it is a sad account nonetheless.


Sharon Cobb: Bredesen needs to step aside

Tennessee liberals tend to ignore us conservatives when we say that Governor Bredesen is vulnerable, that he needs to step aside, or that he has been dishonest. However, will they continue to play coy when one of their own makes the allegations?

Sharon Cobb has been hinting for a while now that she had something big coming down the pike, and she published it on her blog a few hours ago (around 1:00 A.M., which is when the best news comes out). I knew this had to be important because Sharon was a Bredesen supporter, having worked on his campaign in 2002. Now she wants him gone, and it appears from my early readings that she has him caught in a lie, with documentation here, here, here, and here. If you have time (30 minutes) and prefer video, Sharon has created a documentary on her investigation. I plan to watch it later on today, as I have to leave for Carter County in a few minutes.

Reactions - both from the Blogosphere and from mainstream media - will be interesting.

Friday, June 10, 2005


DiamondVols surprise the Ramblin' Wreck

Rob Fitzgerald (RF) Luke Hochevar (P)

Congratulations to The University of Tennessee DiamondVols on their dramatic come-from-behind victory over the #2 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Friday afternoon's win in Atlanta was highlighted by senior Rob Fitzgerald's clutch go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the 9th inning and starting pitcher Luke Hochevar's 11 K's and gutsy performance (137 pitches). The DiamondVols only need to win either Saturday's game (1 P.M., ESPN2) or Sunday's game (6 P.M., ESPN2) to advance to their first College World Series since 2001.

Thanks, DiamondVols! Although my neighbors might not have appreciated all of the yelling coming from my house during the 9th inning, you guys made my day.

More on Hochevar - he was named today as one of the three finalists for the Roger Clemens Award, annually given to the best pitcher in college baseball. It should be noted that one of the other two finalists, Cesar Carrillo of Miami, took the loss in his team's Super Regional opener earlier Friday, while the other, Texas Christian's Lance Broadway, did not pitch because his team has already been eliminated from the NCAA field.


Friday Blog Rodeo

OK, since I am a bit burnt out (or, as I used to say in England, nackered) from a tough week, I thought I might spend some time looking at what my blogging brethren are writing.

** On the Supreme Court Nomination Blog (a sister site of SCOTUSblog), the notion seems to be that those potential Supreme Court nominees that have undergone a recent FBI background check have a leg up on the competition, which favors Judge John Roberts and Judge Michael McConnell. I would certainly hope that a new background check would not be a hindrance for other candidates, but I certainly see their point.

** Michael Silence asks where the Tennessee Democrats are in the Blogosphere. It's an honor to be listed with Bill Hobbs, Blake Wylie, Matt White, Adam Groves, Mark Rose, and B4B, and I think Michael has a point in that we are not challenged at the current time. Perhaps that is because of the problems I wrote about Wednesday, with the disorganization of the party including their Internet presence. Harold Ford, Jr., seems to admit as much in today's L.A. Times. (Hat Tip: Blogging for Bryant.) Also, maybe liberal bloggers don't want competition that is well-funded and well-organized - the various outlets of mainstream media in Tennessee.

However, I disagree with Michael on one point. At the risk of perturbing him, I reject the notion that conservative bloggers are "causing rapid dissemination of ... political spin." I can only speak for myself, but I am not spinning. I dish it out to both parties (as I have been told lately, I have been too focused on bashing the GOP, but such is life). I receive no marching orders and have no organized agenda. This is more steam of consciousness than organized vast right wing conspiracy.

** Also worth noting on No Silence Here is his connection of Ford, Jr. and 3 local politicians to a story in the Washington Post declaring that baby-faced politicians are "out." Sounds fine by me. I've never been accused of having a baby face, so let those who have one reap the whirlwind. (Kidding, of course.)

** Bill Hobbs has an excellent analysis of how Bredesen is playing to the ethics crisis by grandstanding on the issue. I have agreed that that there is no need for a special session.

** Blake Wylie really outdid himself with this incredible bit of digging into Harold Ford, Jr.'s past. I keep hearing from laymen that Junior has always distanced himself from his corrupt uncle and father. Blake shows why "the apple doesn't fall from the tree" argument is going to be substantiated. Man, I would hate to be working on Junior's campaign, because they are going to face their candidate's past every day in 2006. It's hard to have any vision for the future when all you are doing is burying the skeletons from the past. (More on this from Bill Hobbs, Blogging for Bryant, Glen Dean, and Adam Groves.)

** Blogging for Bryant, Blake Wylie, and Glen Dean have great recaps (with pictures) of the Anti-Illegal Immigrant rally in Nashville yesterday evening. I wish I could have stayed for the rally, but my return to KnoxVegas was needed.

** Glen Dean covers William Pryor's Senate confirmation to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. I plan to post more on this subject later, and my views may surprise many readers.

** RedState is doing their best to make Harold Ford, Jr., sound like a mislabeled Republican. Based on the past month, I am starting to wonder if the guys at RedState really are friends of conservatives or liberals planted to lead the GOP to the Left. (Another Hat Tip: Blogging for Bryant.) Also (and I made this clear to Hannity in an e-mail yesterday), why keep piling on Howard Dean? Keep it up and he'll be replaced. Is that what someone loyal to the GOP and/or conservatives would want? Like I said, Howard Dean is good for Republicans.

** Matt White proposes an elected Attorney General for the State of Tennessee. Matt is also lobbying for a better information system for tracking Tennessee legislation, much like the one created by the Mackinac Center in Michigan. Anyone who has tried to look up bill details on the horrid General Assembly site knows that this is badly needed. Amen on both counts, Matt!

** John Brown, Representative Stacey Campfield, Blogging for Bryant, Doc B and TeamGOP are all talking about the GOP nominee for the Governor's Mansion. Beth Harwell's name is sure coming up often these days. As I posted earlier, it is in her best political interests to take this advice.

** Adam Groves reports that the Hamilton County Democratic Party is now blogging, as well as the Knox County GOP. Meanwhile, TeamGOP has found "SpongeBob" Corker's new blog. Ur... maybe not.

** Finally, The Undecided Philosopher waxes about his impending arrival at - GULP! - the big 3-0. My advice to Ben - embrace 29 next Monday. I think it's a great age. In fact, I plan to be there for at least 5 years (after that, I will be approaching 35 and can run for this). Cheer up, Ben. You could be turning 41. (Sorry, Bill, but I couldn't resist. :)

OK, now I'm tired again...


McCain looks lackluster in push for Johnson pardon

On last night's episode of ESPN's "Outside the Lines," John McCain was present to lobby for a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world. McCain is the one receiving most of the press for this power play, but he is also joined by his friends Jesse Jackson, Jr, Jim Hoffa, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. The entire movement for Johnson's pardon was begun by Ken Burns, legendary storyteller and butcher of all things historical. (If I was king for a day, I would make sure that all public schools were forbidden to show Burns' works in history classrooms due to their Oliver Stone-like flights of fancy.)

In McCain's interview last night and in his remarks on the Senate floor, he comes off as impotent and incapable of making an argument made on facts. He shows no respect for the rule of law. Was the Mann Act of 1910 a good piece of legislation? Probably not. I don't think that many would argue for its merits. However, it was a valid piece of legislation, passed by the Congress and at no time was ruled unconstitutional by the courts. In fact, the Mann Act is still on the books today, has never been repealed, and was most recently amended in 1986.

Johnson was duly arrested, with a stiff bail set by Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the man who would become the first commissioner of baseball and a judge known for tough punishment (ask Shoeless Joe Jackson). Landis has been colored a racist in recent years (especially by Burns), but there is little if anything that proves that recent allegation. However, McCain, his supporters, and even "Outside the Lines" try to tie the need for Jackson's pardon to Landis' supposed but undocumented racism. Here's the problem - Landis only set the bail. Judge George Albert Carpenter presided over Jackson's trial in Chicago.

The fact is that McCain and others don't have a legal reason for President Bush to issue this pardon. There are political reasons - McCain showing that he has control over the President just as he showed who was running the Senate a few weeks ago - and racial reasons (given the injustices of the time), but there aren't legal reasons. If there were, Jackson should have taken them up on appeal. Instead, he fled to Canada, Europe, Mexico, and eventually to our good friends in Cuba. There aren't really good moral reasons. Besides being a willing fugitive, Johnson was not a champion of the black community. "Jack Johnson didn't care about being an activist for the black community, marching, speaking out. Jack Johnson was only in it for Jack Johnson."

Who said so? Mike Tyson, who was also interviewed by "Outside the Lines." Here's the scary thing, Senator McCain - Mike Tyson showed that he knew a heck of a lot more about Jack Johnson than you do. Maybe your two should switch jobs for a while and see who is the better senator since it appears that we know who is the better historian.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Another reaction to talk radio today, and a Must-Read article

I was also able to catch bits and pieces of Sean Hannity this afternoon. One thing that Sean said today really lifted my spirits, because it is a point that I stress on this site and most people never really fathom. During an argument with an irate (and extremely stupid) caller, Sean parsed the difference between loyalties to a political philosophy (conservatism) and a political party (the GOP). For whatever reason, people have a hard time understanding this - including many of my Republican friends who lauded Zell Miller for staying loyal to his ideology while turning his back on the party that had abandoned that ideology. Sean, in a surprise to me given his almost nauseating support of President Bush during the election, even admitted that he would not be registered with the State of New York as a Republican if he could claim that he was a "conservative" and still vote in the Republican primary. He then went on to show the many areas where the Republican Party had angered conservatives recently (immigration policy, reckless spending, lack of an energy policy, amongst others). Finally, he stated that if the time came where the GOP was not aligned with conservative values, he would join with his fellow conservatives and organize elsewhere. His declaration almost made driving in construction-savaged Nashville (thanks for that TDOT reform you promised, Governor Bredesen) bearable. Almost.

Along the same lines, Jeffrey Kuhner has an excellent but stinging column regarding the GOP's retreat from conservative principles on Human Events Online. I'm not sure I agree with everything Kuhner states (too much doom, gloom, and melodrama for my tastes), but I am certainly aligned with the general premise. The GOP needs a bold, Reagan-esque leader to steer us through this tricky time leading to the mid-term elections. If someone was able to do so, there is a good chance that person would be a favorite for the White House in 2008.


Nashville Alert - Immigration Rally at Centennial Park

For the second time this week, I found myself in Nashville on business. After catching the last few minutes of Steve Gill's show (which was disappointing in its content, given that the topic was hot babes at Bonnaroo), I was able to listen to a great deal of "The Phil Valentine Show" in the early afternoon hours. Phil is leading a rally this evening from 6-8 P.M. (Central Time) in Centennial Park that is focused on grabbing the attention of the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Bredesen in relation to the illegal immigrant problem in Tennessee. For whatever reason, the political leaders of the state have not considered the laws on the books relating to illegal aliens worth enforcing. From the sounds of things, I would expect a decent crowd at the event. If I had planned to stay in Nashville this evening, I would have attended, but, alas, that is not the case.

UPDATE: Glen Dean and Blake Wylie will be there, so expect some interesting reports from the Blogosphere later on (before MSM puts out their spin tomorrow morning).


A second-generation Instaspawn?

As I made clear in my first post back in April, this site would not exist if not for the influence of my former professor, Glenn Reynolds. I was told that made me one of the myriad of blogs called "Instaspawn" - the blog children of the Instapundit. Well, I have inspired my best friend and fellow Tennessean, Ben Lawson, to create his own blog, The Undecided Philosopher. That would make Ben's site second-generation Instaspawn in my estimation, as well as first-generation VOLspawn (which sounds kinda cool, too).

A word for my fellow conservatives - Ben and I are not aligned politically. That we have been best friends for going on two decades now (Lord, I'm getting old) is a tribute to a lot of understanding and a strong friendship, because we rarely support the same candidates during elections. We have enough common ground (a belief in the Holy Trinity, respect for the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States, and allegiance to The University of Tennessee Volunteers being the foundation for any quality friendship) that we try to work around the differences in our points of view. So check out The Undecided Philosopher when you get the chance. I have blogrolled the site, and I wish my friend luck in his new outlet.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


As the Democratic Party comes crashing down

On the state level, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party Randy Button has resigned his position. TeamGOP doesn't blame him, asking:

"Why sink on the Titanic when you already know the iceberg is coming?"

I don't blame Randy, either. We may not be able to agree on the best way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I at least respect Button for his efforts in trying to hold a party together that has no grasp of reality and no plan for the future. On the heels of the resignations of the Davidson County Democratic Party Chairman (child porn allegations) and Shelby County Democratic Party Chairwoman (indicted under the federal Hobbs Act), one has to wonder who wants to pilot this "Spruce Goose." Blogging for Bryant says Bob Tuke.

On the national level, Howard Dean is off his medication again. Everyone is commenting on his rant, but few are reproducing it in its context. Glen Dean has a link to the audio. A snippet from Instapundit:

"Many Republicans probably voted for George Bush dozens, if not hundreds, of times in 2004, by taking advantage of the fact that Democrat poll workers have difficulty distinguishing individuals from among a crowd of white Christians. Thanks to their pale skin, round eyes and khaki trousers, Republicans just blend in. So they vote, get in the back of the line and vote again. And because they've never made an honest living in their lives, they could do that all day long."

You have to read the whole thing to get the full effect. According to Scott Orr, the DNC is downplaying Dean's latest cry for help by saying that:

"Chairman Dean intended his offensive remarks to be heard only by party loyalists, not the general public."

You've got to admit - that is funny. Dean insults Republicans by claiming that they are committing voter fraud because we all look alike. The DNC then insults Democrats by saying that they are the desired audience for Dean's version of political Tourette's Syndrome. Beautiful. Dean also reached out to San Francisco residents:

"It's always a pleasure to come to San Francisco because I don't look so liberal when I come to San Francisco.''

Yeah, but you still look crazy, even in a city where the mayor thinks that he's emperor and the football team thinks this is acceptable as diversity training.

GOP op Jon Fleischman:

"Where do I sign up on a committee to keep Howard Dean? He's the best thing to happen to the GOP in ages.''

That might be a bit of an overstatement - for all of my criticism of the GOP on this site, great things have come from this party in my lifetime - but it does reinforce that the GOP can do nothing but benefit from Howard Dean as DNC Chair. And the Dems thought Terry McAwful was bad for their party...

UPDATE: A few other tidbits of Democratic pride...

Blogging for Bryant has coverage of Harold Ford, Jr.'s Congressional ethics violations and the Ford office's weak response. C'mon, Junior. I want to know what benefit the people of Memphis received from your trips to Chicago, the Virgin Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and (especially) Miami.

Of course, coming clean might not be in the Ford bloodline. Harold Ford, Jr.'s uncle, former Tennessee Senator John Ford, entered a "not guilty" plea today in federal court, saying it was the "villains" in the FBI that made him take that bribe - on tape - and recite dialogue that would be best repeated on "The Sopranos." Why am I not surprised that Ford wouldn't take a guilty plea and instead chose to drain more taxpayer funds through a lengthy criminal trial? Hopefully, Senator Randy McNally will receive favorable news from Attorney General Paul Summers so that those indicted in "Tennessee Waltz" won't be able to pray on the state treasury for years to come.


GM's Announcement of Job Cuts

As I watched the various cable news outlets at 3 A.M. this morning, trying to catch up on the events of the day in a dumbed-down format, it seemed that everyone was panicking about the announcement from General Motors that the struggling automotive company plans to cut 25,000 jobs by 2008. This news should shock no one who has kept up with the automotive industry over the past decade. Two factors have led to this stage (I won't call it an effort to save GM, because I'm not sure that the cuts will do that or will be soon enough), one covered by the media and one that seems obvious but taboo to mention.

First, GM is paying for its short-term fix of investing heavily in SUV production when it was in a downward spiral over a decade ago. Instead of revamping its car line, GM hyped and developed new SUVs, which have a higher profitability margin than cars. With SUV sales sliding, GM has virtually no market share in the car market to fall back on. In the short-term, GM's move worked, but, like most short-term fixes, the long-term consequences could mean bankruptcy. Mainstream media has picked up on this cause, mostly because GM has admitted to it.

Second, and probably more crucial because it reaches to other industries, labor unions are killing GM. The same thing can be said about the airline industry (Delta's CEO Gerald Grinstein was before Congress yesterday, following the lead of United and US Airways, because the companies cannot afford to cover their pension obligations). I am going to opine more at a later time about how labor unions are going to be the albatross around the neck of the U.S. economy, but at this time my concern is about how few voices are blaming the obvious culprits. Unions once had a place in American life by protecting the coal miners of Appalachia and in ultra-dangerous factories of the early Twentieth Century. I don't see the purpose now except to pay-up the ladder so that the fat-cat national leaders can remain in their position of prestige, power, and wealth. As I said, more on this later when time allows, but I am certainly disappointed that more isn't being made about the real problem here that reaches across industry and could cause our economy considerable damage in the future.


Update on KnoxGOP event

Cindy, a reader (possibly Cindy Buttry of the Knox County Board of Education and one of my favorite campaign co-workers of all-time?), asked in the comments section about whether or not I was able to attend the KnoxGOP Headquarters grand opening on Monday evening. I was, but not in the capacity that I wished. The apocalyptic weather and a longer-than-expected engagement meant that I was only able to catch the final 15 minutes of the festivities, and things were pretty dead at that time. Cindy reports that RINO Tim Burchett was busy acting as Bob Corker's tour guide around the event. If I was Corker, I think I might pick a bit more careful in picking friends if I want to pretend to be a conservative. Picking Burchett as your rep would be like choosing Hannibal as your guide for a tour of Rome. Whomever runs against Burchett in 2006 (and it might just be this man) will be well-funded, as I have heard some rumblings that many wealthy GOP donors will do anything necessary to oust Burchett.

Come to think of it, maybe that's what Burchett and Corker were doing Monday night - making plans for after August, 2006, when they have nothing else to do.


OK, Huddleston, what gives?

I apologize for the complete absence of posting yesterday, but Nashville was on the agenda and liveblogging was simply not an option. On Tuesday, I participated in a swearing-in ceremony before the Tennessee Supreme Court, the last for Chief Justice Frank F. Drowota, who has served on the Tennessee Supreme Court since I was 3 years old. The Chief Justice is widely respected by his fellow jurists and members of the Bar, and The Tennessean (not known for its legal analysis, for sure) had this to say about the retiring Drowota.

I want to publicly thank Ed Bryant for submitting my motion for admission to the Court, which was granted by Justice Adolpho Birch. I know how busy Ed's schedule is, given his crisscrossing the state in an effort to reach each Tennessean before the August primaries next year. Ed made a considerable effort to coordinate his schedule around the ceremony, and I am forever grateful for his attendance. One can tell a great deal about a man through his selfless acts, through his servant's heart. Ed didn't have to make my motion (although I'm sure my wife, who would have made it if he couldn't have attended, is grateful that her first appearance before an appellate court wasn't before the Tennessee Supreme Court), but the fact is that he did. In my previous admittances, I was motioned by the Supreme Court Clerk or the state bar president. So, yes, this meant a great deal to me. Ed's servant's heart greatly benefited the people of the 7th Congressional District for eight years. God willing, he will serve all Tennesseans in January, 2007, when he takes the oath of office in the U.S. Senate. In that way, I hope that Ed and I are making a habit of attending swearing-in ceremonies.

I would also like to thank the Tennessee Bar Association for hosting the lunch following the ceremony, the staff of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for helping with arrangements, Ed's staff for assisting with scheduling, my in-laws for driving to Nashville for the event, the firm of Butler, Vines & Babb for allowing my wife to attend, and TBA Vice President Larry Wilks for his cordial company after the ceremony. I'm usually not one for ceremony or the limelight, but even I recognize how special yesterday was, and I want to thank everyone who contributed in making it such.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Lady Vols go down

The great run through the Women's College World Series is over for the Lady Vols as they fell to Michigan 3-2 this afternoon. Considering that this team returns everyone next year, I am sure that this won't be the last time we hear from this great group of young ladies.

On another note dealing with intercollegiate athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear National Wrestling Coaches Association v. Dept. of Education, a case dealing with the legality of Title IX, the 1972 law that, amongst other things, requires that all public and private universities keep scholarship numbers proportionate between the genders. This denial of certiorari is not making headlines since there is the opportunity to talk about illegal drugs in an opinion today (check out SCOTUSblog - I count 13 distinct posts dealing with Gonzales v. Raich), but it is significant. I have long been against Title IX for several reasons, not the least of which is that it results in the Congress and the courts (who have expanded the scope of Title IX like an obese man's expandable pants at Golden Corral) dictating to educational institutions (including private schools) as to how they must run their athletics programs, often resulting in certain men's teams (such as wrestling, track and field, tennis, and, in some cases, football) being disbanded altogether. Title IX was a great experiment, and it resulted in the recognition of women's athletics throughout the country. So, yes, I do recognize the good that came from Title IX, even if I disagree with the methods. However, little good is coming from it now, and simple economics is the main factor. For instance, The University of Tennessee's women's athletic programs - including national powers in women's basketball, softball, track, and swimming - would not exist without a payout from the men's program that covers a substantial portion (last I heard it was in the $8 million range) of the women's budget. Schools that don't have the financial resources (i.e. - top-tier football team) to cover the losses posted by their women's teams end up dropping sports, which interferes with tradition, student-athletes, and ultimately a significant portion of the student body.

However, I agree with today's decision not to take this case. My reason for such is, despite their best intentions, the National Wrestling Coaches Association sued the wrong defendant. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit correctly ruled, the plaintiffs should have sued individual schools that had cut athletic teams from their programs. I suppose that it's back to the drawing board for the NWCA, which is probably how SCOTUS prefers it. Despite their protests to the contrary, this Court doesn't like stepping in on especially contentious matters (abortion, gun rights, sex discrimination, Establishment Clause cases).

(Hat tip to my friend Jason Oraker, who wrote a fantastic column about Title IX a few years back in the Yale Daily News. I would link to that column, but the Yale newspaper's site is not operating. If the computer geeks at Yale fix their site, I will be sure to link to the column.)


All I ever needed to know I learned from Uncle Jesse

OK, I had a decent weekend, but I have to admit that I wouldn't have minded being in Bristol for the 2005 CMT Dukesfest. When I was but a youngun, "Dukes of Hazard" was the one show that I never missed. From the Johnson City Press story, it sounds like I'm not the only one who realizes that some of the best shows on television today were first run back in the 1970s and 1980s.

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