Friday, May 27, 2005

Tennessee Waltz

Just when I thought covering Ohio politics was an enjoyable thing to do, Tennessee politics has decided to get interesting just as I am about to arrive on the scene. Four members of the Tennessee General Assembly were arrested in Nashville yesterday on what was scheduled to be the next-to-last day of the current legislative session. They were not arrested for loitering on the Capitol grounds...but rather for bribery, extortion, conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion, and in one case, threatening and intimidating potential witnesses.

Those arrested included Sen. Kathryn Bowers (D-Memphis), Sen. Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga), and Rep. Chris Newton (R-Cleveland). Perhaps the most important arrest, however, was that of Democratic Senator John Ford of Memphis, a member of the powerful Shelby County political family that has produced Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.

The bribery scandal paints a picture of a legislature with a history of influence peddling and corruption, as though such things are standard procedure. Since the GOP has not controlled both houses of the Tennessee Legislature since Reconstruction, and until last year had not controlled either house since that time, one has to believe that the kind of public climate that would cause legislators to believe they could get away with this sort of behavior (and worse, that it was acceptable to do so), was created by years of Democratic Party domination.

Perhaps most disheartening for the people of Tennessee is that Senator Kathryn Bowers, one of the Gang of Four arrested yesterday, has been leading the committee charged with attempting to save TennCare, Tennessee's unique public health care system for the uninsurable, the disabled, and the poor. TennCare has been in a great deal of financial trouble for some time, and one of the priorities of the legislature this session for members on both sides of the aisle was to try and find a compromise whereby TennCare could be rescued from oblivion, and that the fewest number of people possible would be affected in the process. Of course, since health care costs are so high, it is impossible to reform and save a program like TennCare without a combination of cost reform and cutting some people from the rolls who should perhaps not have been on them in the first place by virtue of the program's original intent. Because the leader of a committee that has become, because of the TennCare crisis, one of the most important bodies in State Government in Tennessee has now been arrested for bribery and extortion, any informed citizen would be forced to ask whether Senator Bowers was bribed or could have been bribed by parties interested in any potential legislation involving TennCare. Everyone from drug companies, to medical suppliers, to hospital systems, to food contractors, not to mention numerous persons affected, has an interest in the fate of TennCare, and the kind of legislation that might be brought about to save it. If Senator Bowers could be bought and paid for by a phony company called E-Cycle, she can just as easily be bought and paid for by health care lobbyists on one side or the other of the TennCare quagmire.

Perhaps this will teach not only Tennesseans, but people around the country, that the Democratic Party is truly the Party of corruption, avarice, and greed. If this scandal does not doom the Tennessee Democratic Party to a lengthy period in the political wilderness akin to that experienced by their federal brethren, then God help the State of Tennessee, because unless the Democrats are put out to the political pasture in 2006, Tennesseans will have little reason to complain about corruption in State Government-they will have placed the Party that is largely responsible for the filth back into power.

Barbecue and Churchills among friends

Last night, my long-time friend Jason Howard and I dined on barbecue at Burbank's for one last time. Jason has been a dear friend and a trusted ally for many years, and we wanted to have one last dinner of political and religious discussion between the two of us before my anticipated move.

After dinner, we drank a whiskey(he had a whiskey sour, while I had a Jack and Coke), and puffed on an H. Upmann Churchill cigar while we discussed our political and career prospects for the future, and where we'd ultimately both like to be. Somehow, I anticipate that at some point down the road, we'll be working closely together on something extremely impotant for our society. I don't know when or how that will happen, but I believe that it will.

Life doesn't get much better than an H. Upmann, Tennessee whiskey, and old friends.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Appreciating good friends and brothers

I realize that I am posting unusually late in the day, and that is because I had quite a bit to do this morning. Regular readers will also note that this will be an unusually short post, and the only one for today.

Some of you who read my blog regularly know that sometime within the next few months, we aren't sure yet exactly when, Nicole and I will likely be moving. Since I am not a person who normally takes a great thrill in moving (people with physical challenges generally prefer routine and to be settled in one place), I will admit to having mixed emotions about the actual move. However, I am actually looking forward to getting settled in once we get where we are going, and I know that I can make Tennessee as much of a home as the Buckeye State was for me for so many years.

As Nicole and I prepare for this dramatic change in our life together, and I prepare for what I hope and pray will be a positive development in my own professional future, I plan to spend the next couple of months meeting up with many old friends and acquaintances one last time to remember and reminisce about the times we have spent together and the things we have said and done. Most of all, I want to get together with these friends, old and new, one last time to say a heartfelt "thank you." Thank you for the friendship, love, respect, concern, and caring that you have shown me over the years, and thank you for taking such an active role in my life. Time and circumstances do change, and the distance of miles may make it more difficult for us to enjoy one another's company nearly as often. Every one of you who have stood by me should know, however, that no matter where we are, you are always welcome under our roof. We hope that not only will we see you on occasion, but that many of you who have been our friends over the years will come to visit us often.

One final note: As my close friends know, I am a very active member in the Knights of Columbus, and my brothers at Purcell Council have seen fit to elect me Chancellor for the coming year. At this point, I obviously don't know whether I will be able to complete any of my term, let alone all of it. However, I want to say to them how much I appreciate their kindness to me and their confidence in my commitment to the ideals of the Church and Columbianism. It wasn't long ago that I was a stranger in their midst, but they opened up their doors and their hearts and welcomed me. I hope that my new Council, whichever one that may be, will be as open and as welcoming as the men of Purcell have been to me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Our modern-day Tower of Babel

Yesterday, the House passed something known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act by a vote of 238-194. This bill essentially allows for embryos conceived in test tubes via artificial means to be used to harvest their stem cells for the purposes of research. Some scientists say that embryonic stem cells could potentially be used to treat a whole host of diseases from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's to the cerebral palsy I have dealt with since birth. I won't deal here with the evidence (and there is plenty) that embryonic stem cells could cause cancer, because, just like the equally powerful evidence that they could cure diseases, none of this can presently be proven. What can be said without hesitation is that the issue of embryonic stem-cell research opens up a whole host of moral and ethical questions.

One thing I would like to say to the 50 Republicans who supported this measure, almost all of whom claim to be pro-life and (up to now) have had good pro-life voting records: In supporting this measure, you have compromised your own pro-life position. By taking essentially the same position as Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, you are saying that it is possible to be both pro-life and to support this measure at the same time, and while you may think that to be true, you have essentially said that the lives of test tube babies are somehow less valuable than the lives of babies conceived in the normal way. It is easy for liberals to support embryonic stem cell research, since they support the right to kill babies in the womb-they do not believe the unborn have any legal rights, so this isn't a moral dilemma for them. What makes it a moral dilemma for us is that we do believe that the unborn are people too, and many in our Party feel that they must walk a fine line between that belief and the progress of science.

Many in the GOP make the argument that if these test tube embryos are not used for stem cell research, they will just be killed anyway, so why not put their little lives to some good use. I have to admit that this argument might hold some merit if it weren't for the fact that we then have to place a value on some human life that makes its value somehow lower than other human life. This is the slippery slope that leads us into Huxley's Brave New World of the hatchery and the ability to try and create "perfect" people.

The fact is that in even conceiving children in a test tube science has gone into the very realm of the Divine, and in doing so has managed to create moral and ethical questions that must be dealt with on a political level. As much as the left and the secularists like to tell us that politics and religion, or public life and morality, need to be compartmentalized and made separate, it is the secular left that has created many of the moral and ethical dilemmas that, as a result of their very existence, causes public bodies to have to deal with them directly. Mankind's present ability to step into God's very realm has in fact created the need for a unity between politics and faith.

The Holy Scriptures tell us of another time when man attempted to step into the Realm of God. Genesis 11:1-9:

And the earth was of one tongue, and of the same speech. And when they removed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and dwelt in it. And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar: And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building. And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed. Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another's speech. And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city. And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries.

Science, rather than becoming an instrument for the advancement of man by God's Law, has instead become an instrument for man to flout God's Law. I do not know what means the Lord will use, but as with the builders of Babel, God will punish those who attempt to use science as a means to enter the Divine Realm, as well as those who assist them in doing so. The ability to create human life in a tube and grow the Creation of God in a dish has become our Tower of Babel.

You know you live in Cincinnati...

Since it is evident that my days in this great city (for all its political faults heretofore reported on this web log) are numbered, I should point out that I love the place and the people. Cincinnati has real problems, enough of them to drive me to move, but if the people would begin to correct those problems, this city would be a great city again, and be the hub of Republicanism and conservatism that it was known to be not so very long ago. In tribute to the ideals and the culture that Cincinnati should uphold, I am posting here a tribute...

You Know You Live in Cincinnati... (thanks to Dr. Gary Johnston)

* You add an "s" to the end of grocery store names, such as Kroger(s), Meijer(s).

* Your city managers and mayors become qualified political leaders by
anchoring local news programs.

* You drive on shoulderless roads with hyphenated names, roads that change
names at county lines, and roads known by multiple names (i.e.,
Cincinnati-Dayton, Irwin-Simpson, Fields-Ertel, Socialville-Foster,Hamilton-Mason,Loveland-Madeira,

* You refer to the animal shelter/dog pound as "the SPCA", much to the
bewilderment of individuals who have not lived in a city with this independent, non-government organization.

* You believe LaRosa's is fine Italian dining and carry a "BuddyCard".

* You think a Xavier University education is worth $20,000 per year and that
the Xavier name is as nationally recognized as Harvard, Stanford, or

* You'll go to your grave reminding people that Pompilio's was in the movie

* You can understand traffic reports which ignore road names and use phrases
such as "Cut-in-the-hill," "the Lockland split," "the Lockland Canyon,"
"Turkey-foot," "Five-Mile," "The S-Curve," and "Ward's Corner."

* Someone mentions a three-way, and you think of chili instead of sex.

* Instead of saying "what?" or "huh?" you say "please?".

* Your favorite convenient store sounds like a labor union (United Dairy

* You can't hear the words "Mike Brown" without getting angry.

* You honestly believe that Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of

* You have more stadiums, coliseums, and arenas than you know what to do with.

* You somehow have a soft spot for Marge Schott.

* Your favorite Coney Island isn't in New York.

* You like Nick Clooney better than George Clooney. [You're also showing
your age].

* You know how Jerry Springer got his start.

* You know what a Pony Keg is.

* You have friends and neighbors with names like Machenheimer, Guckenberger,
Schlottman, Schoenling, and Schweitering.

* You know what brats and metts are, and you've probably tasted goetta.

* You know that cars (like eggs) are cheaper in the country.

* An all-boys or all-girls school doesn't seem that odd to you --(since
there's probably one in your neighborhood, and maybe you even went to it).

* You think a mixed marriage is when an East Sider marries a West Sider.

* You know what cream ale is, and you think that cream soda should be bright

* Someone says "Norwood" and you automatically laugh -- (unless you actually
live there).

* You can visit California, Lebanon, and Moscow -- and go Over-the-Rhine --
all in the same day.

* You hate Cleveland (even though you've probably never been there).

* You think Clermont County is only slightly more civilized than Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Political colors

Since the election of 2000, it has somehow become accepted in the press that when reporting election returns, the color red represents Republicans, while blue represents Democrats.

In the 1980's and early 90's, however, the common representation was blue for Republicans, while Democrats were identified with the color red.

I think the 1980's/90's color scheme for charting election results was far more ideologically correct.

So-called compromise

Certain Senators have been able to persuade Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid to enter into a compromise on the issue of the judicial filibuster. According to the agreed-upon "new" arrangement, highly touted by Sen. John McCain (who is seen as the chief architect of the agreement) on Today this morning, Republicans will agree not to resort to the "nuclear" option to change the rules of the Senate. In return, Democrats will agree to allow the President's judicial nominees to receive an up-or-down vote. The Democrats will only resort to a filibuster of any federal judicial nominee under "exceptional circumstances."

Here's the problem: Just what comprises "exceptional circumstances?" This so-called agreement doesn't spell that out, which essentially means that the Dems could decide on a whim that the President's Supreme Court nominee is "too extreme," and that qualifies as an "exceptional circumstance" under the May 23rd Agreement. Point blank: I don't trust the Democrats not to initiate a filibuster of the President's Supreme Court nominee. The reason I voted for President Bush for a second term, in spite of all of my disagreements with him, is because of the difference I believe he would make on the Supreme Court of the United States. I don't think there is any question that the Dems can't be trusted to try and stop the President from appointing the right people to the bench.

John McCain seems more interested in kissing the asses of Senate Democrats as opposed to advancing an agenda for America. Usually when McCain behaves this way it is a signal that he will soon be running for President. Once and for all, those of us who are real Republicans need to give McCain the boot one last time in 2008. Democrats cannot be trusted, and apparently neither can John McCain.

Monday, May 23, 2005

More takes on the news

Beginning today, readers will notice that our blog and website roll will begin to expand with a number of newspapers from around the world which I deem to be credible sources of news.

Today's additions are reflections of the cities and towns in which I have had the honor to live during my life. They are:

The Advocate (Newark, OH)
The Dayton Daily News
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Daily News is not always credible, and the editorial line often used to make me want to throw up, but as a former resident of the Dayton area, I couldn't resist listing it. It will be the only paper with a Democrat or liberal editorial line on the list. More to come from around the world...

More on Ohio and legacy politics

In response to my post on the present state of affairs in Ohio politics, Adam Graham writes:

Also, lets not forget your junior Senator. Voinovich came out against Bolton and tax relief.

When I mentioned George Voinovich last Friday, I was speaking exclusively of his record as Governor (I don't know if Adam caught that or not). His record managed to be mediocre and not terrible primarily because of his strong pro-life commitment. It was George Voinovich, after all, that signed into law Ohio's 24 hour waiting period before an abortion, and virtually every state restriction we have on abortion was created by George Voinovich. When Voinovich ran for Governor in 1990, he made the life issue his primary issue, and on that one score he remained true. On just about every other issue, however, he sold out. In 1994, when the GOP gained total control over state government (control is now so tight that Ohio is essentially a one-party state), Voinovich simply failed to capitalize on the bonanza. He was more interested in his personal advancement than what was good for either the Party or Ohio. That shouldn't be too surprizing, however, from the former Democrat mayor of Cleveland, a city known for an unusual number of intellectual deficiencies.

What has been more unnerving, however, is the performance of the people you would expect better from. Bob Taft is our "legacy" Governor. One might expect that this is the reason for his poor performance (he is often booed by Republican crowds), but the Taft family has produced some of this state's greatest leaders, including a conservative President, William Howard, who was also a great Supreme Court justice, and two very conservative U.S. Senators, (one of which, the father of the current Governor, was robbed at the last minute of the 1952 GOP Presidential nomination). With such a proud history and a family filled with such sane Southern Ohio minds, I felt safe in casting a vote for Taft the first time he ran in 1998. I believed that this Taft would do as his forebears had done and not only govern our state well, but represent us well to America.

It bears noting that when Robert A. Taft II entered public life, he faced some of the harshest criticism from inside the Republican caucus of the General Assembly. Many within the legislative caucus believed that Taft had not "paid his dues" as his Father, Grandfather, and Great Grandfather had done in Ohio politics. Some of these critics argued that the very reason the Tafts had such a solid political name was because they started from scratch...they all became involved in the community, and served Cincinnati well, and often at their own expense, before they ever ran for state or federal office. The main public theatre in this town is not called the Taft Theatre, nor the museum called the Taft Museum, for no reason. The Tafts have invested in this community as a family, and one would think that Bob would do the same. Instead of serving the community as his ancestors had done, Bob Taft ran off to the Peace Corps(the Peace Corps???), and then came home and expected to thrust himself into politics. Many Republicans were offended by his brashness...but the State Party establishment wanted Bob Taft because, as one person put it "we cannot afford to stop a Taft from entering Ohio politics."

A conservative Democrat friend of mine (one of the last of his kind) once said to me "in this state, you could run a dog, and if its name were Taft or DeWine, it would win."

It is a shame that Bob Taft has tarnished his family's once-proud political legacy.

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