Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rivalry Saturday

Well, this is it, the most important Saturday of the year-this year it will likely decide the national championship. In a bizarre twist on the ordinary custom, the winner of today's game will play in Tempe for the National Championship-we don't know what will happen to the loser for sure, but the odds are that the loser will go to the Rose Bowl. Ahh the oddities of the BCS-as if the Rose Bowl is a consolation prize. That has to be the best consolation prize in the history of college football.

The winner of the showdown in Columbus will be number one, but who will be two? Could it be the loser in a close game today? Could it be USC? It very well could be-but we have to wait and see if Southern Cal beats Cal today, by no means a certainty, and then SoCal must beat Notre Dame-if Notre Dame wins out against SoCal, they could be number two and play the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game for the national title since both Louisville and West Virginia have lost and their schedules are not otherwise strong enough to find their way to Number Two (the same is true in the end, I believe, with Rutgers).

Let me take a moment to pay tribute to a rival coach and a great man-Bo Schembechler, who passed on to his eternal reward yesterday. I always thought that Bo coached the wrong team, but I always had great respect for the man as a coach and a person. Schembechler was not only head coach at Michigan and along with Woody Hayes, coached as part of one of the greatest coaching rivalries in the history of the game, but was also a former assistant at Ohio State under-Woody Hayes. Bo was by all accounts a class act, and his presence will be sorely missed by everyone who knows, understands, and loves college football. His name will be remembered in years to come with names like Bryant, Neyland, Paterno, Robinson, and his mentor and rival Woody Hayes as one of the greatest coaches in the history of American football, and the college football world is all the poorer today because of Bo Schembechler's passing.

I have to wonder how Schembechler's death will affect both the Michigan football team as well as Ohio State, as Schembechler had ties to both schools and was known and loved in both quarters. You have to believe that if Woody and Bo can coach against each other from on high, they are doing it today.

Tennessee will beat Vandy by 14 in Nashville.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Celibacy now, celibacy tomorrow, celibacy forever

Already the non-Catholic press is having a field day spreading the misguided notion that Pope Benedict XVI is going to end the celibacy rule for the priesthood. The Vatican says it has no intention of doing so-I am thankful that it does not. If you believe some people, the Holy See ought to care more about the ideas of men and quit upholding the Laws of God.

Father Vann Johnston, Chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, makes a couple of good points:

"I don't ever foresee a point where priestly celibacy would ever be totally done away with," Johnston said.

Father Johnston is right. For those of you who are not Catholic, you ought to know that many of the folks advocating for the complete end of priestly celibacy are the same bunch who want to ordain women and, in many cases, allow for Holy Mother Church to sanction so-called gay "marriage." These people apparently think that they have the authority to decide what the Church should teach and practice and what the Holy Scriptures do and do not mean, and that the Successors to the Apostles do not have any authority greater than lay authority.

There is a name for such people-they are Protestants.

Since they are Protestants de facto why don't they just do those of us who try to be good practicing Catholics a favor and become Protestants de jure? If you don't want to follow the laws of the Church, and you want to have a totally married clergy and female clergy and gay marriage and whatever else you want to have in your personal religious world, then find churches where they allow that sort of business-or better still, do as the rest of the Protestant world has done and create your own church where you can believe as you bloody well please-just don't call it Catholic.

Father Vann went on to explain to the Channel 8 reporter that a number of married men who are former Protestant ministers have converted to Catholicism and have become priests. This is quite true-but what the folks at WVLT did not tell you is that a majority of these priests came from the Anglican Communion, and were ordained on the condition that if anything should happen to their spouse they would not be free to marry again. What's more, I would be willing to bet that any future general modification in the celibacy rule would carry that stipulation for any married man wishing to be ordained, a stipulation that I would fully support.

I want to explain to my Protestant friends that nothing I have said here is meant as a personal slight twoard you or your faith in Christ, but it reflects what I see as a modern religious reality: People have no respect for Sacred Authority or Sacred Tradition, and they think they can simply interpret the Truth how they please-this is not so, God is not the author of Confusion.

There are those on the Right who are just as guilty of this kind of fallacy as those on the Left-the Church says or does something you don't like so you think you can pick and choose what you can and cannot believe. The Church's social justice teachings do not fit in with your political party so you think you can pick them out of your religious practice-nope, sorry. You think aborticide is a "choice" but you would never do it yourself, but you go to Communion, you are a good Catholic, right? Nope, sorry. You think the Pope is a nice old man in Rome but what he says doesn't have an impact on what you do-he isn't really the Successor of Peter, is he? Yes he is and you are not, thank God.

The celibacy rule is not dogma, and yes, the Church could change it-I think it is unwise to do so. Those of you who have been involved in Protestant ministry know the difficulties that families bear in such a situation, and I have seen this firsthand. Multiply that difficulty and stress by a hundred times and that is what it would be like for married priests and their families. Perhaps worst of all, I'd be willing to bet that within five days of lifting the celibacy rule and allowing priests to marry, we will have divorced priests. We aren't like many of the Protestants here...divorce is a putrid thing to us, and divorce and remarriage gets a person excommunicated de facto, and it is a terrible example to the people-so we are going to let priests marry and then do we defrock the priests whose spouses break under the strain of public scrutiny? It will surely happen...

For those who think that celibacy is the cause of the shortage of priests in many areas, perhaps you should know that I once seriously considered entering the priesthood. I ultimately determined that the priesthood was not my vocation, but celibacy had nothing to do with it-I was ready for a celibate life had the Lord called me to the priesthood, and I would have willingly embraced it.

Matthew 19:12:

For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

Our political views may be something that we cherish and we may believe them to be right, but Sacred Truth is really what we believe. What do I believe?

I believe that the Holy Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ the Lord, and that it serves as God's living Body and representative on Earth.

I believe that Pope Benedict XVI is the Successor of Peter and is the visible head of the Church on Earth-Christ is the Spreme Head of the Church and of all believers.

I believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ our Lord (See John 6:31-55). It is not a mere symbol, and when consecrated it is not a cracker, wafer, chicklet, or mere piece of bread.

I believe that the Bishops are the Successors of the Apostles, and that God placed our religious authorities over us for good or for ill, and that authority must be respected and obeyed.

I renounce Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He decended to the Dead, and on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, and in one, Holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and look for the ressurrection of the dead, and in the life of the world to come.

And I believe that if you do not believe any of what I just proclaimed above, you can be any of many things, but you cannot be a genuine Catholic.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Standing behind Bill Dunn

Terry Frank reports a move of treachery by Republican State Representative Jason Mumpower of Bristol to oust Tennessee House Republican Leader Bill Dunn. Mumpower has resigned his position as Assistant Minority Leader to run against Dunn. My present State Rep. Frank Nicely will likely be unopposed in his quest to replace Mumpower as Assistant Leader.

Let no one accuse us of being hedgy about where we stand: The World stands squarely behind Bill Dunn and if we had a vote in the leadership race, it would be for our former fellow Holy Ghost parishoner Dunn. We hope that Bill Dunn will one day be the Speaker of the House.

I don't know what it is that is in Mumpower's craw or up his rear end, but I wish he would please bother to share it with the rest of us. Bill Dunn managed to maintain the status quo in the House and didn't lose seats in a year when there was great dissatisfaction with Republicans nationally-he managed to avoid the dreaded coattail effect. Does Mumpower believe he can do any better than Dunn under the present circumstances? If he does, I'd like to know what he plans to do differently.

I think I can answer these questions for Mumpower: He thinks he can do better than Dunn because he isn't Dunn, but he won't do any better-I'd be willing to bet the ranch on that. Both men are very much aware that the GOP has a very good shot at taking control of the Tennessee House in 2008 regardless of who is Leader, and Mumpower just wants to go down as being the one who gets the credit and becomes Speaker-it is a naked power grab and Mumpower needs to be put in his place for such a blatant manuver.

Message to Frank Nicely, Stacey Campfield, and anyone else on the Hill with a vote in the Leadership Race: GET 'R DUNN!

(Hat Tip: Kleinheider)


Marsha Marsha Marsha!!

Like Bill Hobbs and other Tennesseans, I fully support Rep. Marsha Blackburn's campaign to assume the Chair of the House Republican Conference. Few folks who are in-the-know about Tennessee politics can doubt Blackburn's commitment to conservative ideals or her effectiveness as a leader. I haven't had the pleasure of personally meeting Blackburn, but I am told by those who have that she is so effective because of a genuine likability and a homespun charm that often translates into those around her doing whatever she might ask of them-talk about a powerful woman!

Marsha Blackburn's decision to run for House Caucus Chairman does raise an interesting question: Will Marsha run for Governor in 2010, as previously believed? A lot of us, myself included, have been hoping that she would, but I am concerned that she might be taking a different path. If history can be used as an indicator, then Marsha Blackburn may intend to remain in the House and move up the chain of House leadership positions, and perhaps eventually run for the United States Senate. Those who seek leadership posts in Congress usually intend to remain in Congress for some time, so if Marsha Blackburn decides to come home and try to set up residence in the Governor's Mansion she will certainly be bucking a trend. That is far from impossible, of course-but it does raise the eyebrow a little bit.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Trent Lott wins 25-24

This morning I endorsed Trent Lott for Senate Minority Whip. Lott has won the race for whip by one vote.

This is good news for the GOP, as we are returning to someone who has proven to be effective and who knows how to spread the message effectively.


I'm with Trent

Senate Republicans will choose their leadership for the next Congressional session today, the first time the GOP will do so as the minority party in that body in twelve years. The primary contested position will be that of Minority Whip. Our own soon-to-be senior Senator Lamar Alexander believes that he has the votes to sew up the Whip spot without much of a problem. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have a problem with Lamar running for a leadership position. As far as GOP Senators go, we could probably do better, but Lamar is infinitely superior both as a Senator and as a leader to the man who has been his senior up to this point. On top of that, it is nice to see someone who is from your neck of the woods achieve a prominent leadership post such as Whip.

I am not supporting Lamar Alexander for the position of Minority Whip, however-I support his opponent Trent Lott.

I believe Lott was a far superior Republican Senate leader than his successor Bill Frist, who has utterly and abjectly failed his party as a leader, and Lott was railroaded by certain powers that be within the GOP who had wanted him removed as leader for a very long time. In public, the reason for Lott’s departure was because he paid a compliment to the Old Man at the Old Man’s 100th Birthday Party. Lott had said Mississippi had voted for the Old Man in 1948 and were still proud that they had voted for the Old Man. Many Democrats were at the gathering, and not a few applauded kindly and loudly when Lott made his remark. Robert Byrd was there, who greatly admired the Old Man, and so was Joe Biden, who out of decency left the Senate Chamber when the Old Man took ill to keep the votes even.

What Lott did not say about the Old Man was a fact that everyone at the celebration knew: The Old Man was a witness to the progression of the South in microcosm, since he had gone from running a presidential campaign based entirely on racial superiority in 1948 to being respected and even held in high esteem by many African-Americans in South Carolina and throughout the South. The Old Man did something right, because during his Senate career he received more Black votes than any Republican or conservative Senator in the country. So high was the Old Man’s percentage of the Black vote that he could not have remained in office without it. Lott felt the same way a lot of Southerners did about the Old Man: His life was far from perfect, but in the end he did a lot of good. Lott wanted to say nice things about the Old Man as the Old Man left the Senate.

Lott’s enemies within the Party saw blood in the water, and not only was the press attack relentless, but call from some so-called Republicans for his ouster grew ever louder-some of these folks had wanted Lott gone for ages, and now they had their opportunity. Because I believe the most effective Republican Senate Leader in my lifetime got railroaded, I support returning Trent Lott to a position of leadership.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Senator Mike Williams: Give some love to East Tennessee

Tennessee State Senator Mike Williams is now in the crosshairs of Statewide political attention as political buffs on Rocky Top await with baited breath his decision on whether he will vote for Democrat John Wilder, who might as well have been Speaker and Lieutenant Governor during the Union occupation of Nashville, and Republican Ron Ramsey. Yesterday, I was unequivocal in saying that I would not support Williams for re-election if he votes for Wilder, and that I believe Williams' constituents at-large would want him to support Ron Ramsey. Williams himself has acknowledged being pressured by his constituents.

I want to speak directly to Mike Williams and I can give him a good reason to vote for Ramsey that makes sense well beyond the usual partisan reasons: Senator Williams, you are an East Tennessean-why won't you give East Tennessee her due?

In saying this, I am not like some who would always pit one Grand Division against another-I think that is a rather silly way to play politics, since I believe we are all Tennesseans no matter what part of the State we are from. However, there is a very good reason why our great State is divided by law into three Grand Divisions-each Division has very unique and different interests, politics, and even culture. Our Constitution and laws are written in such a way as to try to insure that each Grand Division has an equal stake in our government-even the Tennessee Supreme Court must have justices from each of the Grand Divisions, and it has a building in which to meet in each Grand Division in Knoxville (East), Nashville (Middle), and Jackson (West). The concept of equality among the Grand Divisions was important to Tennessee's Constitutional framers (and it is also represented on Tennessee's flag), so why shouldn't there be a shift in the legislative center of gravity once in a while?

West Tennessee has much, if not all of the heavy power in the General Assembly. Jimmy Naifeh is from Covington in Tipton County (that's north of Memphis for those not in-the-know), and he is the longest-sitting Speaker of the House in Tennessee history. Wilder has been Speaker and Lt. Governor since 1971, ans he is from Fayette County to the east of Memphis. Since 1973, both Houses of the General Assembly have been run by West Tennesseans. I'm not saying that West Tennesseans shouldn't run the legislature, I'm saying that Tennesseans from other parts of the State should have the same opportunities that West Tennesseans have had, because when you are Speaker of the House or Speaker of the Senate (Lt. Governor) then you have some serious pull for both your district and your region, and that is just an obvious reality.

I've said in this space before that although I enjoy federal politics, State and local politics are far more important to our daily life, a reality that most people do not seem to understand. The situation in the Tennessee General Assembly simply underscores that reality.

Mike Williams: Do something good for your Grand Division and give East Tennessee a share in the legislative pie. It is better for the people of the 4th Senate District, of which I am one, and it gives a few more Tennesseans a say in how things in Nashville are done. If you can't see that as obvious, maybe you don't need to be a Senator.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Don't mess with Rambo Lambert

My favorite Knox County Commissioner was caught in an attempted robbery earlier today. Apparently, a young man came to Greg "Lumpy" Lambert's car dealership earlier today and pretended to be interested in a 2005 Ford Focus. The guy's real intent was to rob Lambert and/or the dealership.

At the time of the robbery, the suspect (his name was Kane Stackhouse) should have known better. Lumpy was wearing a "Friends of the NRA" cap at the time. Logic would dictate that you might not want to try to rob someone wearing a cap that endorses the NRA-that person might have a gun-Lumpy Lambert had his .380 and countered the robber by pointing the heat at him in return. The young man said he didn't want any trouble and fled the scene after that. Lumpy showed the man his .380 and the man repented.

Lumpy has been one of the leaders on the County Commission in the effort to investigate the Harbergate Affair. Lambert confirmed the story to The World.

Knox County Commissioner Lumpy "Rambo" Lambert


If Williams sells out, Oatney jumps ship

Senator Mike Williams, who sold out in voting for John Wilder for Senate Speaker in the last legislative session is now unsure what he is going to do. Apparently, calls from his constituents haven't meant much in the past to Williams, so do they mean even less now?

Williams, whose 4th Senatorial District includes Hawkins and Hancock counties in Northeast Tennessee, acknowledged he's been getting a number of phone calls in recent days pressuring him to side with Ramsey.

So constituents have been calling Williams telling him they want him, a Republican, to vote for Senator Ron Ramsey, the Republican Leader in the Republican Majority Tennessee State Senate, for Speaker of the Senate. Is it just me or does that proposition make sense?

To be fair, Williams has a constitutional right to vote for whom he chooses, and doing so is his prerogative (a choice with political consequences he must be prepared to face). I will even go so far as to say that I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it if all Williams were doing was voting for the presiding officer of the Senate. If all he is doing is voting to let an 85-year old man who has been around the body forever have something to do by sitting in the Chair hollering "the Senate will be in order...order...order!," I wouldn't have near as much of a problem with it. Just voting to make the Ole Boy Speaker again is not all that Williams is doing, however. In Tennessee, the presiding officer of the Senate also serves as the Lieutenant Governor. Unlike many, I actually support this system and I believe it is constitutionally sound in the long run and should be maintained. It is a system that is designed to insure, at least in theory, that the majority party in the State Senate (the Upper House) gets to choose the State's second most powerful executive officer.

In Tennessee, the Lt. Governor has appointment power over all sorts of boards and committees
that may seem minor in nature to the average voter, but these bodies tend to be part of the grease in the wheels of State Government, and the same political party has had the ability to oversee those matters for years before many of us were even alive because they have appointed the Lt. Governor-Senate Republicans have a right to be angry about Williams' vote for Wilder the last time, and they were and still are.

To err is human and to forgive is divine, and I would be willing to forgive Williams for making the mistake of a vote for Wilder last time, but a second time is completely uncalled for. A vote for Wilder is not the only problem Williams may have on his record:

But Williams also indicated he's considering a switch to become the Senate's only independent member.

This was rumor just a couple of days ago, but with Williams' confirmation to the Kingsport Times-News that he is considering switching from Republican to independent, I can promise him that he will lose my vote. Mike Williams' constituents did not elect an independent, they knowingly elected a Republican. Upper East Tennessee is a part of our State that you might call "reflexive Republican," people will go into the voting booth and push the button for the candidate with the "R" next to his or her name because they are a Republican and that person's family may have been voting Republican for decades, even generations. Am I saying that is always right? No, but I am saying that Mike Williams' party label has likely been a serious boost to his vote total in this part of the world, and a great many of his constituents voted for him based on that factor alone. Because of that, it is a great disservice to them for him to abandon the Republican Party.

If Senator Mike Williams votes for John Wilder for Speaker a second time, and/or leaves the Republican Caucus, I will do everything in my small and meager power to defeat him. I will fully support Mike Faulk to replace him, and I will tell my friends and neighbors in this district to do the same.

(Hat Tip: Vance Cheek)


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Old friends and the passage of time

I haven't posted what could be termed a regular or ordinary blog entry for the last few days because of the visit of a dear old friend of mine, Jason Howard, and his lovely wife, Debbie. Jason and I have known each other ten years this fall, and in that time we have both finished college, had multiple jobs, and ended up on somewhat different career paths than when we began.

In the fall of 1996 when we met, I was a sophomore in college, while Jason had just graduated the previous spring and was working on some post-graduate work-he was still unsure what to do with his life. We spent many a night together smoking cigars and talking about politics, faith, or whatever struck our fancy, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, and if these sessions occured on a weekend they frequently involved the Grand Ole Opry blaring over the radio in the background. Oddly enough, we are only three years and four months apart in age, Jason is my senior. He took a job with Proctor and Gamble working on the formula for Comet (then a P&G Brand), and got to travel the globe at company expense, yet he was not fulfilled in that line of work. I remember one evening on the phone he candidly told me that this was not what he would have himself doing the rest of his life, and I reminded him of the long days and nights we used to have discussing the state of the world, the political state of affairs, the public square-and the legal system-and then I asked: "Have you ever seriously thought and prayed about going to law school?"

Jason went to the University of Dayton School of Law. After he graduated and passed the bar, he served for a couple of years not only as one of my best friends and closest confidantes, but also as my personal attorney. When Jason met his wife, Debbie, I was introduced to her shortly thereafter. I was a groomsman at Jason's wedding (his brother Travis was best man), and when I married Nicole, Jason was my best man. We have one of those rare friendships that has survived over many years and many changes in both of our lives and even geographic separation.

One of the things we reflected on this weekend as Jason visited was how the country and the world and society in general has changed in the ten years we have known one another. We decided that we did not find all of the changes to our liking. Use of the internet has become far more common and affordable, but crimes related to the internet (especially sex-related crimes) have become almost commonplace. We could not have dreamed ten years ago that society would be dealing with the difficult ethical questions related to embryonic stem-cell research. We agreed that the direction we are collectively going that devalues God's creation of human life is dangerous and deeply troubling, and perhaps wreaks of Brave New World.

Over a chew of tobacco on my front porch we discussed the results of the recent election and what we obviously didn't like about the present balance of power, but we agreed that a lot of good could come out of the current situation in the end, and we talked about possible positive scenarios for how the Election of 2006 could prove to be beneficial to our country in the long run.

Most of all, Jason shared his fears, anxieties, and hopes about his decision (after much prayer) to open his own law practice. We prayed together about this and consecrated the entire enterprise to the glory of God.

What I found most amazing was just how much things had changed in ten years. When we met, we were single bachelors with a fondness for cigars, whisky, and ladies. We found our small apartments quite suitable and to our liking. Today we are homeowners, in somewhat better fiscal condition, far more serious about life, and happily married old coots. Yet you don't often realize just how much things in your life change until you sit down with an old friend and remember.

We also remembered the veterans who paid such a high price to make weekends like the one we enjoyed possible.


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