Saturday, March 25, 2006

On Houses-and control of the House

Today's entry may not prove to be as extensive as usual, but this is because Nicole and I are going on a serious house search today and I expect that it may take all day. Regular readers who are from Knox County should take note that not every home we are looking at is here. In fact, so far, the one we are most interested in is in White Pine in Jefferson County, and there are several more in Morristown that we are also interested in, but we also have plenty of properties we are interested in here in Knox County. In addition to finding a domacile, we are also looking for a place with enough land to build a greenhouse so that we can start the business we've always dreamed of.

Strangely enough, the Nashville City Paper, not exactly known to be the most unbiased publication in the state, had a great article on the possibility that the GOP will control both Houses of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction. The Republicans have a number of things going in their favor, including Tennessee Waltz and the marriage amendment. I still believe it will be an uphill climb for the GOP unless Bredesen gets an opponent-if he does, win or lose in the Governor's race, the Republicans have a shot at the House. If Bredesen runs unopposed, I predict the House will be a wash.

Tip of the hat to Adam Groves at Tennessee Politics.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A challenge for Congressman Duncan

Yesterday in the mail I received the quarterly mailing from Congressman Jimmy Duncan in the mail. People all over the Second District got this mailing, I am sure, and I am also sure that I am one of the few who took the time to sit down and throughly read Congressman Duncan's thoughts and give them some meditation. Since I agreed with much of what was said in the newsletter, I think it appropriate to begin with what I did not agree with.

Duncan is utterly obsessed with gambling. His anti-gambling tirade reminds me of the Temperance Union advocating prohibition-all symbolism, little substance-all emotion, no reason. I agree with Congressman Duncan about State-sponsored gambling such as lotteries because I do not believe that the State should be in the lottery business-that's just the sort of thing that should be left up to private individuals. However, unlike Congressman Duncan, I think if Indian tribes want to allow casinos on their reservations, more power to them-it is their reservation and their lands to use as they see fit. I am not suggesting we turn our State into Nevada insofar as gambling goes, but as I have said before, gambling laws in Tennessee are currently so strict that they hamper even legitimate charitable efforts.

Congressman Duncan is right on the money about the growth in entitlement spending, and he warns that if the growth in Social Security spending continues at its current pace that the only solution will be to print more money. That, of course, can lead to runaway inflation and, in a worst-case scenario, economic collapse.

Where Congressman Duncan and I really seem to see eye to eye is on the issue of the Federal Reserve, which is not "federal" at all, but is a private bank. Congressman Duncan rightly points out that we didn't have much of a problem with runaway prices in this country until the Fed was established in 1913 and began to control our money supply, despite the fact that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution grants that power to Congress. When the nation was removed from the gold standard in the 1930's, that allowed the Fed free reign over every aspect of national economic life. So powerful is the Fed Chairman that John McCain said in a 2000 Presidential Primary debate that if then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan died, we should prop him up after the fashion of the movie Weekend at Bernie's. That is too much power for one man to have in America.

If Congressman Duncan really believes the things about the Federal Reserve that he claims to believe in his newsletter Washington Report, then I want to issue a challenge to him: Put forth a Bill to abolish the Federal Reserve. Do not do it as some symbolic gesture with no real effect, as some members of Congress have done in the past, but fight for it, keep pushing over and over again until it finally gets an up-or-down vote on the House floor. Let the truth come out before the American people about this Wall Street organism that is running our country. Do you have it in you? Let's do it-let's abolish the fed. For some inspiration read the words of another Tennessean-Andrew Jackson's Veto Message of the renewal of the Bank of the United States.

Come on Congressman, put your clout and your political fortunes where your mouth is-you'll have my support and as far as I am concerned, if you do this, I'd be in favor of you becoming the House version of Strom Thurmond. Will you do it?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A few words for ADAPT

As a concerned Tennessean, and as a person who has lived his entire life with a physical disability, I feel compelled to address the members of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, known by the acronym ADAPT, who shut down our capitol to the general public because of their protest yesterday, supposedly protesting in favor of greater home care for disabled persons on TennCare/Medicaid:

Do your members not study legislative issues, voting records, and the positions of most of our Tennessee legislators? If you did, you would know that most of them favor some form of the kind of reform you are advocating because home care is generally cheaper than a nursing home-and believe me, our legislators are desperately looking for ways to cut the TennCare budget, so greater home care is on the table. If you actually gave a damn about what was happening in our State, you would know this.

In doing what you have done, you may have lost some marginal votes that would be necessary to pass a home care measure. Way to go, you hurt your cause, and the cause of all people with disabilities in Tennessee!

Just what is your goal here? Do you think that you will draw attention to the cause of people with disabilities by closing down the Capitol for public business? You've just closed the chambers of the House and Senate to the public. You have prevented people from having access to their elected representatives and to the affairs of State-you have angered the very people who can help you. In Tennessee, these kinds of tactics don't win battles, they lose them. You have succeeded only in further stereotyping people with disabilities as desperate parasites who suck from the government teat, as opposed to being independent, capable members of our society who possess and conduct themselves with real human dignity.

How many of you bothered to call your representatives and Senators about this issue? We have a part-time General Assembly here in Tennessee, and that means that your Representative or Senator is at home in his or her district for at least half the year. You have had ample opportunity to speak with him or her-did you try? Did you call his or her Nashville office, or visit him or her in the Capitol as you had an opportunity? How about meeting with your Representative or Senator as they tour the district to talk to constituents-or write a letter, or send an e-mail?

Then again, how many of you are actually from Tennessee? I don't know, but I'll bet if the Nashville Police Department or the THP did a check on all of you, a sizable number of you do not live here, and if that is the case, no wonder you didn't do any of the things that good citizens do to touch base with their legislators before resorting to desperate measures.

I have lived with a disability my entire life, and I have lived with the very real discrimination and stigma that comes with that-if I told you all of my stories I would be typing all night. You don't find me blocking the Capitol or acting like an idiot to get my point across, or behaving like a whiny child. I can get my point across in a civilized manner. Do you even know how?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Getting real news

Yesterday's Tennessean had bloggers all over East Tennessee humming with excitment as Governor Bredesen announced that politics in hiring and promoting is going to be rooted out of the Highway Patrol.

Terry Frank pointed out that this wouldn't be an issue and Bredesen would not care in the least that patrolmen were being fired for being Republicans had The Tennessean not brought the issue to the forefront. Indeed, many of us in East Tennessee would not know about this problem at all were it not for the fact that a lot of us read the Nashville papers.

The News-Sentinel is about as useful for the purposes of daily news as the National Enquirer, with its editorial board more interested in recipes and fashion than news and politics. Despite repeated denials by editor Jack McElroy that he favors the Democrats and liberals, the paper has not done a serious investigation into heavy Democratic wrongdoing in recent memory until Bredesen's ever-widening paper-trail finally tied him to heavily-corrupt (but conveniently very Republican) Cocke County.

Thanks to the News-Sentinel's lack of reporting, we would be in a "news blackout" here if not for the dedicated and professional reporters at The Tennessean who see to it that Knoxville gets real news, whether they know it or not. I think the News-Sentinel would have it that way-East Tennesseans can't be told the truth about Democrats, because East Tennessee is the heart and sould of Republicanism in this State. If enough East Tennessee people get fit to be tied about the situation in Nashville, the Democrats know that we collectively will do everything in our power to bring them down-and we can't have that, now can we?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Profiles in stupidity: Florence, Kentucky police officer

My poor wife has to travel today in order to vindicate herself from the false charge that she does not have auto insurance, and she has to go all the way to Burlington, Kentucky to do it. Regulars will remember that Nicole and I made a spur-of-the-moment trip to Dayton, Ohio to attend the funeral of Father Chris Rohmiller. On our return trip, Nicole was backing out of the handicapped space after stopping at a Florence, Kentucky shopping center (when we were first married, we lived in the area) when the alarm of a car behind us went off. The owner of that car alleges we hit his car, Nicole disputes this, but the insurance company agrees with the offended owner.

When the Florence police officer came to file a police report, Nicole didn't have her current insurance card with her. She was on the phone with the insurance company, and offered to let the representative talk to the officer-the officer refused to talk to the insurance representative to verify that we had coverage on our truck!

Now as a result, Nicole has to go all the way up there today just to have a traffic court judge in Burlington throw out the ticket (which was only for no proof of insurance)-it could have all been solved had the officer just talked to the insurance lady on the phone. What's more, the Boone County Commonwealth's Attorney could have handled everything over the fax-we were ready to fax proofof insurance. The Boone County authorities refused to do so.

So Nicole has to drive all the way to Burlington to have a judge throw out the case-and the county will get nothing. Does this sound like an intelligent use of taxpayer dollars to you?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The politics of the court case

Terry Frank had a number of points in her comment yesterday on the proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that I think deserve a thorough review. Terry first states the obvious:

I don't think Bredesen wants it on the ballot just IN CASE he has an opponent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on this point I think that Terry is right on the money. Homosexual "marriage" proved to be a winning issue for the President in 2004 in this respect: This same issue was on the ballot in 11 States and, if I recall the math correctly, the President won 10 of those 11, with only Oregon going for John Kerry.

Bredesen is doing a fine job maintaining his popularity by playing Mr. Conservative. As we all know, this is nothing more than an act. Real conservatives don't take money from Emily's List and from various gay "rights" groups, but Phil Bredesen has. Since aborticide or gay marriage did not come up in the last campaign for Governor (the primary focus was TennCare and the incompetence of the outgoing Sundquist administration) Bredesen was able to be ambiguous about social issues in this socially conservative State. If this amendment makes it to the ballot, Bredesen has to take a position in order to insure the money keeps coming from the people that Bredesen gets his money from. If Bredesen has to do this, he loses a huge number of votes and could gain an opponent who could beat him by simply saying "I am more conservative than Phil Bredesen."

The Democrats don't want this on the ballot because the GOP could possibly take over the house.

I agree that having this on the ballot will not hurt the Republicans in the least, and it could help them. However, in the wake of Tennessee Waltz, the GOP is in a pretty good position to take over the House anyway, regardless of whether the gay marriage issue appears on the ballot or not.

It may be that the Other Side is concerned about anything that could help the GOP, but I think there is something
larger at work here, that Terry addresses in her next point:

The ACLU just wants to hold it off so gay marriage can possibly get a foothold in other states, in other words, they want to slow down the momentum of those who defend the definition of marriage as one man and one woman.

I agree that this is very likely the ACLU's strategy, they have a larger agenda than the homosexual groups that they are representing. These groups, however, want the amendment off the ballot for another reason: They know that if they can get the Supreme Court to agree that they did not have enough time to prepare a counter-campaign, that the entire process of passing this amendment will have to be repeated. That means that under the Constitution, the public will not get a vote on the question until 2010.

They can't stop people from voting, they can only put if off.

The so-called "gay rights" groups know that the people at-large are not on their side in this matter. Knowing this, "putting it off" is their strategy. They are hoping that if the Supreme Court decides in their favor, the four years we have to wait to bring this to a conclusion will derail the momentum in its favor. I am hoping that the Court sees this for what it is: a stall tactic designed to prevent the people of Tennessee from exercising their constitutional prerogative.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The state and marriage

I've gotten quite a bit of feedback from yesterday's post about the (hopefully) upcoming constitutional amendment that the ACLU is trying to stop us from voting on. A note to Terry Frank: Your comment intreagued me so much that it will get a post devoted to it tomorrow when I have a few more minutes to spend discussing it in-depth. I'm glad you enjoy my piddling little work here enough to comment on it-it does my heart good to know that good people are reading.

Right now, I want to reply to the anonymous commenter who asked bluntly:

Is your belief that gays shouldn't marry based on your religious beliefs?

To that I respond that it would be imposible for me, as a Christian, to compartmentalize my faith life in such a way that my faith does not affect my politics. If it did not, it would be a hollow faith, as it affects everything else I do.

However, my religious faith is not the only reason I oppose the notion that gays should marry. Government has managed to turn marriage into a civil contract that can be made and broken. Marriage is no more a civil contract than I am a liberal. Marriage is itself a religious institution into which the government has no business interfering. All of the major religious faiths of our society agree that marriage exists between one man and one woman. Since marriage is a sacramental, and not a civil institution, just who is the State to tell the Church that marriage is something other than the union of one man and woman, excluding all others?

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