Saturday, July 15, 2006

Court rules on bogus ACLU case

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued it ruling yesterday on the case ACLU of Tennessee v. Darnell. For those of you who are unaware, this is the case I blogged about back in March where the ACLU was attempting to say that the General Assembly did not, when the proposed Amendment to the Tennessee Constitution defining marriage passed both Houses, strictly comply with public notice requirements as required by Tennessee law.

I pointed out that this claim was rediculous on its face, largely because the text of the amendment was published in every major newspaper in the State and not a few minor ones as well, and was being talked about on local radio and television and, of course, on the internet.

The Court had a different reason for turning the case down, however: According to the unanimous ruling, the ACLU had no standing to bring the suit before the Court. Passage of the Amendment is virtually guaranteed.

(Hat Tip: Michael Silence)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Copycat Corker

I know it has been said before, but Bob Corker's continued dodging of questions and issues about his past does more than get on my nerves. Last night's second GOP U.S. Senate debate showed Corker not only to be a question dodger, but a copycat as well.

Corker used the same one-liner last night that he used in the first debate, "my opponents are setting standards for for me that they themselves cannot live up to," then he tried to say that Van Hilleary voted to raise taxes. When Hilleary then went on to explain that the legislation Corker was alluding to was actually a tax cut, Corker did not effectively respond. WBIR's "partnership" with the News-Sentinel should be duly noted because Corker was given more rebuttal time than either of the other two candidates. Further, as much as I enjoy Bill Williams as a news anchor (and I really do), he showed little skill in trying to control the flow of the debate and keep things on topic.

When questioned on the Fair Tax Plan and whether they would support it, Ed Bryant gave an unequivocal "yes," while Hilleary said he, too, supported the idea-as long as it is coupled with an outright repeal of the 16th Amendment (he's right, you can't have one without the other, and I assume Ed Bryant also knows that). Corker, on the other hand, when asked how he would vote on the Fair Tax Plan said "I am intreagued by the idea, but the devil's in the details, I have to learn more." As if the Plan were all that complicated, Corker dodged the question by saying he needed to "learn more" about one of the most widely-published plans for tax reform in America. Thank you for showing that you and/or your staff are completely incompetent, Mr. Corker!

The final straw of the night was when moderator Bill Williams asked the three participants to give a one-word description of what their top priority would be as Senator, and Williams specifically said "I'll give you a moment to think about it." Van Hilleary was the first to answer, and the Desert Storm veteran said "Iraq." Ed Bryant came next, and you could tell he carefully weighed the right word to describe what he is trying to do-"opportunity." Corker immediately gushed out "opportunity!" without having thought about it for even a millisecond. When pressed for a one-word description of his first goal as a U.S. Senator, Bob Corker chose to copy Ed Bryant-and it was obvious.

Nicole says that when Corker speaks, he reminds her of Bill Clinton-so much so, she says, that it makes her want to change the channel. When the so-called "frontrunner" in a Republican Senate Primary reminds people of Bill Clinton, that is not a good sign at all.

Clinton/Corker: One in the same?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

No political parties?

I responded at length on Where I Stand to the idea that candidates should be made to run without partisan label as contrary to both history and human nature. I thought what I said was worth publishing here:

It is a lovely and a novel notion, but it is about as realistic as a cold day in Hell. The reason is because if we do not have political parties de jure, we will see them develop de facto within about ninety days of going to this partyless system. I once had this discussion in the late 90's with a fellow who was heavily involved in the Reform Party at that time, and he complained as you do about the nature of political parties and grumbled about the need to abolish them.

I reminded him of history (something so many people who raise this issue seem to forget), namely the fact that when the United States came into being as a federal government, we at first had no party affiliation. George Washington would have preferred that there be none at all. However, within about three months of the first administration being sworn in, two distinct factions began to emerge. The first was a group rallied around Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, and the second rallied around Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Very soon, each side had press outless that were supporting it, (the Hamiltonians had, for example, the Gazette of the United States, while the Jeffersonians had The Pennsylvania Evening Post, which had been founded by Benjamin Franklin and was first called The Pennsylvania Gazette-it would soon become forever known as The Saturday Evening Post) members of Congress, Governors, and members of State legislatures began to identify in some fashion or form with one faction or the other. The press for both sides began to refer to the Hamilton side as "Federalists" as the opposing side as "Republicans." The arrangement became more formalized when Jefferson officially acknowledged in his 1801 Inaugural Address what people in politics at all levels in America at that time had already publicly admitted: the two parties existed and had for some time been at odds. Eventually the Federalists would destroy themselves because of the refusal of the party as a whole (though not all Federalists agreed) to accept Western expansion. The Republicans of Jefferson and Madison became our only viable national party from 1812-1828.

The Election of 1828 gave us the Democratic Party for the first time (from a split in Republican ranks), and a split within both the Whig and Democratic Parties would produce the second Republican Party.

If we "abolished" party affiliation, people would gather around figures and ideas, factions would form, and the press would take sides. The Left would likely have The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Air America, and the various leftist satellite radio channels. The Right would have The Washington Times, The Examiner, Fox News, syndicated radio, and the various rightist sattelite radio channels. People would "rally 'round the flag" of those who supported their views and then the President would be forced to acknowledge "we are all do-da-ists, we are are all la-la-ists," and we will have parties again.

Even as he warned against the dangers of factions, James Madison also reminded us that "liberty is to faction as air is to fire." If we try and prevent party affiliation, we are really denying candidates and interested individual citizens their right of free association. If we prevent candidates from labeling themselves a member of this party, that party, or a third party, we are really limiting their freedom of speech. Doing away with party affiliation sounds great in theory, but it is unworkable in fact becuase in a free society, we are all partisans of some kind by nature. Of course we can choose not to be a part of any party at all-but everyone should have the choice. Being a part of a political party is just like being a part of any other group or association-a lot of people are a part, but associating with it is completely voluntary.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A round of election endorsements

Well, it is time to issue some official endorsements for the upcoming August Primary and November General Election. Many of these will be no surprise to some of you-but there may be a few surprises.

United States Senate: Ed Bryant (R)

Bryant has shown consistently that he is a conservative through and through, unlike certain other candidates whose positions change depending on whether or not it is Primary season or General Election time. Bryant also is willing to take unorthodox positions when he sees that it is the right thing to do, such as his idea that we need a new "Manhattan project," this time dealing with how to free our nation from dependence on foreign oil and other foreign sources of energy.

United States House of Representatives (2nd District): John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. (R)

Duncan is actually opposed in the Primary this time by Steve McGill. The reason? McGill thinks he is more conservative than Duncan, who has an ACU rating of 95. (Jesse Helms remains the only person in Congress who ever got a 100, as far as I know). The real reason is because Duncan is one of the few Republicans who voted against the use of force in Iraq. Duncan is (like me) a paleoconservative, and saw the forest from the trees on this issue. Duncan believes that since we are in Iraq, our troops deserve every consideration to accomplish the mission set before them. Duncan is also wonderful at providing services to his constituents.

United States House of Representatives (1st District): Richard Roberts (R)

I saw Roberts at a festival Nicole and I attended in Cosby last week. I say that I "saw" him because I couldn't very well talk to him. When he came by where we were, the music was blaring. I tried to talk to his wife, but we dealt with the same problem. However, when the music stopped, I heard him talk to some folks nearby. He relates to everyday people very well (he is from rural Greene County), and I loved how he took time that I knew darn well he didn't have to make lengthy conversation with people to learn about their lives and listen to their concerns.

I do not agree with Roberts on all points, but seeing this deeply impressed me because it says a lot about this man's character and the kind of Congressman he will be.

Tennessee House of Representatives (7th District): Bill Dunn (R)

I know Dunn is unopposed, but he deserves an endorsement for the wonderful work he is doing as House Minority Leader. I hope that when the General Assembly gavels into session, Bill Dunn is the new Speaker of the House.

Tennessee House of Representatives (18th District): Stacey Campfield (R)

Stacey deserves to be re-elected for many reasons, but the most important is that he is willing to fight for what is right even if it means fighting the establishment of his own Party. That's why he is in a tough three-way Primary fight orchestrated by the powers-that-be in a ruthless attempt to destroy him. He especially fights aganst imminent domain abuse and for the property rights of everyday folks.

In spite of his frequent spelling and grammatical errors, he also deserves to be returned to the House because he is the only legislator who keeps a regular blog that keeps us informed about what is happening in Nashville from an insider's perspective.

I hope Stacey runs for higher office one day. I am proud to have him serving us in Nashville and I am proud to call him a friend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Supreme Court reaches down

The Tennessee Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hear the case that would review the Knox County Charter without going through the normal appeals process. That sounds wonderful, except that the Court will not hear the case until September 6th-well after the August 3rd local election.

Here's a prediction: The Court will not overturn Chancellor Weaver's ruling, partly because Weaver was legally right in his opinion, but more likely because of the immediate chaos it would create in Knox County Government if the ruling were overturned. Since the Court will not hear the case until after the election, the electoral fate of all of the term-limited commissioners will have been decided, and if they are ruled ineligable, how would they be immediately replaced?

If the Court does overturn Chancellor Weaver's ruling, I think they will also issue an order that allows the term-limited Commissioners to serve out one final term in order to avert yet another constitutional crisis.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Big desperate John

Kleinheider had a great post about the impending demise of Lt. Gov. John Wilder last week. For those of you outside of Tennessee, Wilder is an elected member of the State Senate and under Tennessee law, the presiding officer of the Senate, who is called the Speaker here, also serves as our Lieutenant Governor. Basically, the party that controls the majority in the State Senate will choose the Speaker of the upper chamber, and thus the Lieutenant Governor-that's how it is supposed to work in theory, at least.

At the beginning of this General Assembly, Wilder managed to convince enough Republicans to support him in order to remain Lieutenant Governor. The GOP majority in the Senate increased from two to three during the session, and is likely to increase further after November. There is mounting pressure for the Republicans in the Senate to unite and choose a Republican Lieutenant Governor, and it looks like that is exactly what they are going to do. So what is Wilder's reaction? Desperation. Apparently, Wilder has reduced himself to calling lobbying firms and leaving messages on answering machines.

"I need you. I know you are with me, but I need you. The Republicans are out to get me with every ounce of blood they've got."

Wilder went on to say: "The Senate needs to stay the Senate," and "I want you to help Wilder people." He then asked that the firm he was calling and its clients support Bob Rochelle (D-Lebanon), Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), Vince Springer (D-Spring Hill), and Duran Williams (D-Cosby) in their races against GOP opponents.

Kleinheider feels sorry for Wilder, and thinks Wilder may lose his will to live if he should lose the Speaker's chair. Clearly, I do not wish death on Speaker Wilder, but I do think that 35 years in the office may be enough, especially since Wilder will not likely lose his Senate seat. When someone thinks the Senate will not be the Senate when they are there presiding, it is time for them to be removed from the Chair.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Corker contradictions exposed

More proof today that The Tennessean is a superior newspaper. A front page story exposing the conflict over Bob Corker's so-called "conversion" on the pro-life issue.

State Rep. Bill Dunn
, a pro-life Catholic from Knoxville, recounts Corker's reaction when presented with a 1995 amendment to the State budget blocking State funding for abortion.

"I remember he being mad and thinking I was playing politics with it,"

Corker's opposition surprised Dunn because he figured Sundquist would support such a measure just as he had on the federal level when he was in Congress, said Dunn, a Republican from Knoxville.

Corker's recollection is different.

"I told him I agreed very much with what he wanted to do, but I knew no way the amendment would pass at the 11th hour," Corker said. He suggested to Dunn that he try again the next year.

Bill Dunn is an honest man and I believe Dunn is telling the truth. Dunn is presently the Republican leader in the House. He is also supporting Ed Bryant.

Yet note that this sort of in-depth discussion of Corker's contradictory record is nowhere to be found in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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