Those of us who live in Tennessee know that the politics here can sometimes be a very tough game. As much as many Tennesseans complain about politics and politicians, I think politics is a critical part of our makeup as a people, because so many of us are at least partly of Irish or Scots-Irish extraction. As I have written here in the past, I think there is a gene in people (especially but not exclusively men) who have Celtic heritage that give them a magnetic attraction to political things. Whenever we get frustrated about politics, we should remind ourselves that this is just another part of our heritage and we are better when we learn to swallow the good with the bad.
Music is also an important part of our heritage as a people, and like politics, I think we have a magnetic attraction to it. Here are the Chieftains along with Ricky Skaggs with a little celebration of that heritage at the Ryman.
If you live in Tennessee, it might surprise you to learn that we do have a gubernatorial election this year, though you'd never know it by the way the way the press has been treating the subject. The media within this State decided months ago that Governor Phil Bredesen didn't deserve re-election, he deserved coronation. Since I called for the Republicans to put up a candidate to oppose Bredesen when it appeared that they would not, I was glad when State Senator Jim Bryson stepped forward and accepted the challenge to climb the seemingly unpenetrable Mount Bredesen.
The odds against Bryson were long then and are longer now, but I don't think it is because he isn't capable of victory. His debate performance showed someone unprepared for the very public stage of being Governor, but I wonder how much of that is related to Bryson resigning himself to his pre-ordained fate? I think Bryson has accepted the defeat that the media and even his own party had already decided will occur. I can't blame Bryson for this entirely, I think the Tennessee Republican Party is at least partly if not wholly to blame for Bryson's situation. If the State GOP establishment had poured in near the money in time into the Governor's race as it has into the U.S. Senate contest, I believe the polls would reflect a much closer race and Jim Bryson would not be awaiting his own demise. A positive outlook on one's situation can make a person perform better in whatever task they set out to do, and if Bryson believed that his own party were behind him and were giving him the chance he deserved I believe his entire campaign would look the part.
Consider Bryson's new ad featuring Heather Steffek on the consequences of illegal immigration. What if Bryson had the money to run this ad and make a real issue out of illegal immegration before early voting began? Whether you are conservative or liberal, you have to admit that this is a hot issue in Tennessee and around the nation that resonates with voters.
Shame on the Tennessee Republican Party for not getting behind our man in the Governor's race all the way from the very beginning. I know that there are some of you who will go out and vote for the Bredesen/Corker ticket because both are the establishment's men. All we can do is hope and pray that Bredesen doesn't turn into the Democrat version of Don Sundquist.
I am not one who is under the illusion, as some are, that winning a war should always be quick and easy, nor do I indulge myself in the fantasy that war should never be waged or that there is never a good reason to fight a war. Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything there is a season, including a time for war and a time for peace. Knowing that there is a season for all things, it can also be presumed that one must use discernment in determining what "season" it is. Where Iraq is concerned, I think it is a very fair assessment to conclude that the President of the United States was not a good judge of the seasons when he elected to send American troops to Iraq.
It is often the case that people in public life suffer terrible political consequences for decisions that later prove to be very wise. Some have said that this may come to be the case with Iraq, but if that is true I fail to see how it has been wise to replace a dictator who kept general order in the region with a so-called Prime Minister who attempts to dictate the terms of his government's cooperation to the very country that allowed him to rise to power in the first place. There is no benefit in being told what to do by your own children, and this is apparently the case where the present government of Iraq is concerned. It is true that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who is undoubtedly guilty of incalculable crimes against his own people. If this is America's standard for intervention, I can think of dozens of leaders around the world who needed to be deposed before we got around to Saddam, including the psychopath in Pyongyang.
"But David," you say "when the war began, our people believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." One thing our intelligence gatherers were quite certain of was that if Saddam had these weapons, he had no means to deliver them. Unlike North Korea, Saddam had no great love for Iran or for Al Qaeda and was in no mood to deal with them.
When the war in Iraq began, America was already at war in Afghanistan. The American people were fully behind that expedition, and I believe that had America made the Himalayas our only theater of operation, the American people would continue to be fully behind the mission whatever the cost-we understand the need to stop the Taliban. Our neglect of the Afghan theater is causing the hated Taliban to re-emerge.
Iraq is a present reality, and despite what the Democrats say in public, they privately know that the U.S. cannot arbitrarily remove our forces. We are not in a position in the world to do this, at it makes us look weak and willing to cave at the first cracks of political pressure. It does not matter that in the eyes of the American people the withdrawal would be taking place because the war never should have taken place to begin with, that is not what our enemies around the world see.
The only thing the American people can do to show their disapproval of this war is punish the party in power. As we approach election day, it is clear that this kind of punishment is going to take place, and a lot of good people may go down with the ship. There is a slim chance the GOP may hang on to both Houses of Congress, but if they do it will be with a slim and nearly unworkable majority. Along with the war, corruption in this Congress has made a mockery of the Revolution of 1994 that the grassroots worked so hard to build.
Perhaps it all could have been prevented had certain people in Washington been good judges of the seasons.
I have poured over this ad by the Republican National Committee dozens of times in the past few days to determine if I could find any attempt at racism in it. I could not. Thinking for a moment that this may have something to do with the fact that I am a white male (one of those bad people the Republicans cater to) I asked an African-American friend to honestly tell me if they thought the ad was racist and to pull no punches, nay spare no offense in telling me their honest opinion of the advertisement-I would not be offended, I said. They said they thought the ad was funny, and they couldn't see any racist intent. I think it is roll-in-the-floor hilarious.
The party poopers at the NAACP and the Empire State Yankees in the New York-based press say the ad is racist because it supposedly re-enforces a racial stereotype about "predatory black men" going after white women and the ad is running in a Southern State. I suppose I could see some small inkling of that sort of thing if the ad if the only person in the ad who could possibly be seen as characterizing that portrayal, namely the "bunny girl" were actually attractive enough to be a Playboy bunny. It isn't that I think the woman is unattractive, but believe me, she hardly screams "Playboy" at me. The whole spot wreaks of raw comedic humor, and if the producers of the ad are guilty of anything, it is a Foxworthy-esque sort of stereotype that makes Southerners of all colors laugh at themselves with good humor.
One thing I do not appreciate is the NAACP's attitude toward the South and Southerners. I realize that there are folks in that organization who still see a Klansman under every rock south of the Ohio River, but while they are still stuck in that time of bigotry in their minds, the rest of us have moved on. It might surprise them to know that my next store neighbors are a black man who is married to a white woman, and not only are there no lynch mobs waiting to run them out of town, but they are respected members of the local community. I understand that the NAACP may think we all hate black people or Hispanic people because to them, being conservative makes you a bigot by itself, but we aren't. They are just using this as a political ploy to benefit Democrats and Ford in particular.
My continued reservations about Bob Corker are reinforced because he keeps calling for the ad to be pulled. Why? The ad is funny, sharp, and smartly done, and it is less designed to sway undecided voters than it is to shore up the Republican base for Corker, most of which (like me) do not trust him. The fact that he called for such a masterful piece of political advertizing to be pulled only shows that he has utterly no understanding of the need for the support of the GOP's conservative wing in this State. This ad is aimed directly at us, and if Corker would have just kept his mouth shut, the piece may have done the job it was supposed to do.
What does Ragsdale's lackey Van de Vate say about all of this?
"The district attorney general, who is the highest law enforcement authority in the county, has reviewed this matter repeatedly and found nothing wrong. This is nothing more than political shenanigans..."
The reason that this hasn't been pursued is because Randy Nichols is a weakling and a wimp. He refuses to engage in anything remotely controversial, which investigating Ragsdale would certainly be that. The Mayor's office acts as though the DA's refusal to act should be enough to let them off the hook. Of course, even if Nichols were not so standoffish, it doesn't mean that there is innocence here if he refuses to act, it merely means that he refuses to act.
That doesn't mean that the Commission does not have the power to investigate. What does Mike Ragsdale have to hide that he, Arms, Van de Vate and the rest of that gang are trying so hard to avoid a look into all of this? If he is innocent and angelic as he claims, I would think he would be chomping at the bit for an investigation, because it makes his opposition look bad without him having to do a thing. Instead, Ragsdale is trying to make his opposition look bad while trying to get the Commission off his case. He looks guiltier by the second.
We have every reason to believe that he may be, however. Several weeks ago The World received information from a highly confidential source that Lambert may have access to "smoking gun" information about this case. If (and at this point we still stress if) that report is true, it may be the case that Lumpy is going to the Sheriff with this information. We don't know for sure, so at this point we can only speculate about what Lambert will do.
(Note: I will say that if Lumpy really is going to the Sheriff and he isn't merely reacting the threats made by Team Ragsdale, I have a hunch what he might be going to the Sheriff with. I will not mention that here, however, until Lambert actually talks to the Sheriff and/or we find out what "the deal" really is-that is between Lumpy, his constituents, and the High Sheriff of Knox County.)
As people who follow Knox County politics are aware, the cat is now out of the bag in the Tyler Harber Affair. The Knoxville News-Sentinel has released 33 pages of e-mails that were allegedly stolen by Harber in an attempt to dig up political dirt on potential opposition within the Republican Party to Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.
Apparently, the KNS decided, in Jack McElroy's infinite Godlike wisdom, that the story which has been covered for months by Betty Bean, The World, Terry Frank and Gene Patterson is suddenly worth serious mention.
The e-mails paint a disturbing picture of GOP reaction to Mike Ragsdale's dictatorial desires for total control. They also show that he went so far as to put his own loyalists in charge in order to insure that he got what he wanted, and that he used Tyler Harber to do it in an effort to appear as if his own hands were clean.
The e-mails also tie Adam Groves to the affair in a very direct way, and in at least one of the communiques Groves admits his tie to Tyler Harber but says he was trying to break it but "no one has given me an opportunity to make it happen."
After the release of these e-mails, there is no way that the Knox County Commission can avoid a serious investigation, and the fiction that Ragsdale is perpetuating that he is not being investigated is all but dissolved. Heads will roll, but it may not be the heads Mike Ragsdale would want-one of the heads may be his own.
In related news, Terry Frank is reporting that former GOP Chairman Chad Tindell has been threatened by Ragsdale hatchet man Mike Arms.
I'm not normally a huge fan of Newsweek, but their political commentary is sometimes quite telling and is often reflective of larger political trends. In an article this week, Marcus Mabry points out with numbers and quotes that the GOP's evangelical base is badly cracking. It isn't just the evangelical base, but traditional Catholics are also less enthusiastic about the GOP than they were two years ago.
The reason for this change in enthusiasm isn't because these groups have suddenly become rabid liberals, as we've discussed here before. Evangelicals and traditional Catholics feel the same way as other members of the conservative coalition do: The GOP has failed to address their concerns. Spending is through the roof, while a war with no end in sight continues to be waged with no realistic exit strategy. All the while, the ambitious conservative agenda that brought George W. Bush to power languishes in a dusty "to do" box somewhere, never to be touched again.
Conservatives have a right to be angry, and it is understandable that some would decide not to vote in November. Yet I will vote, and I will vote Republican.
Some have asked "Oatney, why will you vote Republican when you admit that you've been disappointed by this Congress." Its simple-the national Democratic Party is a party of plenty of talk and no action. They tell us they have an exit strategy from Iraq-what strategy? I've heard many different stories from Democrat candidates about what the Democrat strategy is, but nothing firm. I have heard nothing from Democrats about how they plan to cut spending, and this is likely because they have no plan to bring spending under control that they can all agree on. I love how certain Democrats are even trying to sound conservative, but their voting records paint a different picture.
This Congress has been a disappointment, and I can't blame conservatives for their anger, I don't even blame those who want to stay home, I certainly understand their reasoning. The thought of "Speaker Pelosi" is enough to motivate me to the polls, however-and it should be to every concerned conservative.
Here are the votes I am submitting to this week's IRACF college football poll:
1 Ohio State 2 Michigan 3 Southern Cal 4 Texas 5 West Virginia 6 Tennessee 7 Louisville 8 Auburn 9 Notre Dame 10 Florida 11 California 12 Clemson 13 Georgia Tech 14 LSU 15 Arkansas 16 Oregon 17 Nebraska 18 Boise State 19 Rutgers 20 Oklahoma 21 Wisconsin 22 Boston College 23 Texas A&M 24 Missouri 25 Wake Forest
Tennessee had a less-than-impressive comeback victory against the Tide yesterday. That said, the mark of a truly great team is the ability to win even when you aren't playing your best and the game gets ugly-the Vols certainly demonstrated that yesterday.
Michigan seems to me to firm up their hold on the #2 spot and we could be setting up for the third weekend in November to be the game of the year in all of college football and that game could decide the national title.
A conservative journal of social, cultural, and ecclesiatical affairs grounded in a realistic Catholic Christian worldview. It is my hope that this site will be a reflection of Christ,the teachings of His Holy Church, and of the basic vision of a Christian social morality.