Today's holiday-shortened podcast deals with this year's strangely (albeit happily) silent ACLU "War on Christmas." It ends with the note that the appointment of former Tennessee House Majority Leader Kim McMillan to a senior advisory post in Governor Phil Bredesen's administration does not bode well for promises to clean up corruption in Nashville.
I don't often agree with Carter. As far as American Presidents go, he has by far been the worst in my lifetime. His economic policy was a disaster, one for which he didn't help himself by blaming the American people for the problem and talking down to them in one of the mostridiculed speechesin American history. His foreign policy was far worse, with only theCamp David Accordsstanding as a success of any sort (and it could be argued that the accords haven't brought overall peace to the region over the long term).
Carter is, however, a very intelligent man, and despite my problems with him, smart people are usually able to call a spade a spade, and so Jimmy Carter has done where many of the policies of the State of Israel are concerned. Calling the Israelis out frequently results in those who are doing the calling being called anti-Semites and Jew-haters, and in some cases that is putting it mildly.
I am not an anti-Semite, andthis postdenouncing the so-called historical conference in Iran should serve as one example of my opinion of those who are. Yet I have been called an anti-Semite because I have been publicly critical of Israel. My "awakening moment" came several years ago when a priest friend of mine went to the Holy Land and was able to avoid going with any sort of tourist group or guided group-a rarity indeed. He returned with pictures of Palestinians living in slums, being guarded and told when to come and go. These people didn't look or (according to accounts) act like terrorists, and one of the things I was told by my friend was that he was welcomed into many a Palestinian home with great hospitality-especially when it was learned that he was a visiting Catholic priest from America.
The clincher for me was when he showed pictures and pointed out the Palestinians he met who were Christians and the churches they attended. These folks were treated like all the other Arabs-like second class citizens. They have it doubly tough because the Muslim community doesn't trust them either and they have a multitude of restrictions on being able to build churches or proclaim the faith in public-restrictions imposed by the Government of Israel.
I join Carter just this once and face reality: Israel practices apartied and breeds the terrorists who seek to destroy her.
Here is my radio podcast in two parts from yesterday. Like Kleinheider, I believed we would have a major uncovering of public corruption this afternoon, and I went on the air live expecting the story to break any minute. As I mentioned in Part II, the U.S. Attorney in Nashville took all of us to the cleaners by using the words "public corruption" when describing the nature of the indictments. Considering the recent history of public corruption in this State, I think the federals knew what we would think and took advantage of the increased attention.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't that police corruption is not an important story, but it isn't Tennessee Waltz.
New Tennessee House Minority Leader Jason Mumpowercertainly is talking tough in the days since he was elected Republican Leader. In yesterday's Tennessean he outlined what he says are his priorities for the new General Assembly, and what is undoubtedly a platform meant to bring the GOP to power in Nashville in 2008.
Mumpower says that tax cut proposals are on the agenda. I am going to assume that this means that Mumpower-lead Republicans will push for a reasonable cut in the State sales tax that will especially help those who live in counties with a booming tourist trade. Most of those counties already have high county sales taxes, so a cut in the State sales duty will be a real help for many of Tennessee's working families. I am also going to go out on a limb to make the presumption that Representative Mumpower will strike no deals with Democrats that will raise taxes in any way, shape, fashion, or form, and that he will in no way tolerate any moves toward an income tax (and would lead the Republican Caucusin doing everything in their power to stop such a measure). Do I have that right, Jason?
Mumpower says he wants to pass the education budget apart from the rest of Tennessee's budget so that education gets first priority in our State. I agree with this approach, and I further agree with his statement that the $320 million in excess lottery funds that is just sitting in the State treasury should go to fund improvements for local schools. Our State lottery was intended to help improve education, and that is a huge amount in excess lottery money for any State-it ought to go for what it was intended. I also agree that money from the lottery should be used before there is ever any discussion of implementing a Statewide property tax. Mumpower is right that a State property tax should be a non-starter for any Republican Caucus. Not only would such a tax severely weaken Tennessee's agricultural tradition, but it would especially hurt small property owners, particularly the lower middle class. Democrats who insist on floating such a tyrannical proposal fly in the face of the notion that their party is a party of working people.
Jason Mumpower makes immigration perhaps the Caucus' biggest priority in the new General Assembly:
Meanwhile, we cannot sit back and claim that immigration is solely a national problem. It is reasonable to expect proof of citizenship before voting, before obtaining a driver's license, or before receiving public benefits. Tennesseans know our social services, schools and budgets are straining as a result of Democratic opposition to proof of citizenship requirements.
We also need a division of the Tennessee Highway Patrol that works with federal agencies to detain illegal aliens, and a driver's license test in English so we know drivers can read our road signs.
I find myself in agreement with Kleinheider and others that the States are going to have to take the lead in implementing responsible immigration reform. The federal government has abrogated its responsibilities under the Constitution to protect the several States from foreign invasion. Since the federal government refuses to protect us, we must protect ourselves. In the past, Republicans at both the State and federal levels have introduced immigration reform legislation only to see it fall by the wayside. If we truly find this to be an important issue for our future as a State and a union, we must fight the battle constantly and never let up.
I assume Jason Mumpower is going to lead the GOP in fighting those fights that need to be fought. Am I right? For our sake and for our future, I hope and pray that my trust is not misplaced.
The President finally admitted the obvious yesterday, telling a reporter from theWashington Post that the U.S. was not winning in Iraq-something the rest of us were aware of months ago. I am of the belief that we are past the point where outright military victory is no longer an option, largely because the previous Defense Secretary refused to assent to an increase in troop levels when they were needed, and now the situation may, I fear, be beyond repair.
The President said that he wants to increase the number of troops and the troop levels in the Army and Marines, and that he is going to try and get the Congress to increase military spending. Good luck with that, Mr. President. If victory was your goal you should have taken action to do this three years ago when the war began, and when you had a friendly Congress ready and willing to accomodate Pentagon demands. As it stands now, Congress will be reluctant to spend on the military even if the money is needed, and the people are tired of a war that was grossly mismanaged and badly timed, and that is saying it mildly, Mr. President.
I was against going to war in Iraq from the very beginning, but once the war began, I was willing for us to do whatever it takes to achieve victory. Our troops in the field did not deserve defeat. The problem is that the administration that started this war has thus far been unwilling to fight it properly, and the President's latest words and moves may be too little, too late.
Today's Oatney's Hour of Power is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the Pentagon's naval buildup in the Persian Gulf. In the second part I discuss Time's Person of the Year-You (or Me, or Us).
With the addition of Joe Haynes to the race for Speaker and Lt. Governor to be decided in the Tennessee Senate, a new dynamic has been created in the entire contest that makes the entire affair a very different game indeed.
As I said yesterday both here and in my radio podcast, I sympathize with all of those who see the problem in allowing John Wilder to continue as Senate Speaker and Lieutenant Governor. When the Governor's office has to be concerned with the line of succession to power, even though we are blessed in law with what should be a perfectly legitimate line of succession, then it is time for the Senate to look at appointing a new Speaker.
A wrench is thrown in the entire mess by the split in the other side over who their candidate for Speaker should be. Lloyd Daugherty was right when he said on The Voice this morning that Joe Haynes has a record that is more liberal than Wilder, and this raises questions about Haynes' willingness to work with Senate Republicans. Terry Frank is right when she says that regardless of all of our concerns about Wilder's age, he is known to be "fairly conservative as far as Democrats go." Haynes is liberal enough that he opposed the marriage amendment when a majority of members in both parties supported it. It is what Haynes claims that he told Wilder in The Tennessean that I find either interesting or bizarre:
"I told (Wilder) I was not running against him. I was just running for speaker," Haynes said.
"He's made a huge contribution to the state over the years, but I didn't believe he could put 17 votes on the board."
Either Haynes knows something about Michael Williams' intentions that we do not, or this is a Democrat coup attempt designed to get rid of Wilder gracefully-I strongly suspect it is the latter. With Haynes' candidacy, Wilder does not need 17 votes to remain in his seat, but only one-his own, which he could use to prevent either Haynes or Ron Ramsey from getting the magic numbwer if 17. If no candidate gets 17 votes, Wilder remains Speaker and Lt. Governor by default.
What is unfortunate is that in a two man contest between Wilder and Haynes, Wilder is to be preferred because Haynes has a history of operating further to the left than Wilder. If Michael Williams votes for Joe Haynes, he might as well just cross the floor, because in spite of all of his talk of "I am still a conservative, I am as Republican as the rest of you, blah, blah, blah..." he might as well hang a big sign around his neck that says "I'm a Democrat, and I have an affinity for liberals."
Ragsdale thinks State Law does not apply in his county
The Knox County Commission will take up the issue of the annexation of a piece of property in South Knox County by the City of Knoxville today. At issue is whether the one person eligible to vote on whether the property can be annexed can be located-thus far he cannot. Knox County Commissioners are right to call for an investigation into the so-called "referendum" by the State Attorney General. Mike Ragsdale, who would love nothing more than to have a Metro Government in Knox County, had this to say in the News-Sentinelthis morning:
County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said he fears "a huge step backward in city and county relations" if commission picks a fight.
Apparently the developer who wants control of the Property pulled shenanigans in order to get the annexation passed. The address of the South Grove development is 7521 Chapman Highway. What do we know about the voter who was eligible to vote on the annexation of this piece of real estate?
[Garrett S.]Meek moved his voter registration address March 8 from Corryton to 7521 Chapman Highway, the address of the South Grove development, said Knox County Election Commission Administrator Greg Mackay. The home Meek leased from South Grove G.P. was torn down shortly after he voted.
By law now in Tennessee, all county land outside the Urban Growth Boundary agreed to by the city and county must be annexed by referendum only. If a piece of land can't be annexed by referendum, then it cannot be annexed at all. Knowing that reality, this affair smells more rotten by the second, and it says a great deal about the Mayor of Knox County that he would even consider allowing an annexation to take place under such shady circumstances. Mr. Ragsdale apparently things the laws of the State apply to others, but not to the Knox County Governmentwhich he heads.
In the stress that is the holiday season, we often forget just what it is that we are celebrating as part of this time of year. No one knows for certain when Jesus Christ was born, but this is the time of year when Christians everywhere celebrate that birth. When we concentrate too much on the shopping and the decorating and the preparation and not about the purpose and the reason for this season, we lose sight of our purpose and role in this life and in the world.
Everyone has some idea of their own what this season is all about. For the non-Christian, they may say that the season is (or should be) about the joy of giving and of carrying an attitude that is more considerate of others and less considerate of oneself. On this score, the many people who believe this are not far from the truth. Why are we called to behave in this way, and reminded of this at this very critical time of the year? Perhaps St. John the Baptist has the answer for us:
And the people asked him, saying: What then shall we do?
And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner. And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him: Master, what shall we do? But he said to them: Do nothing more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay. And as the people were of opinion, and all were thinking in their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be the Christ;
John answered, saying unto all: I indeed baptize you with water; but there shall come one mightier that I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. And many other things exhorting, did he preach to the people.
As John spent his life pointing the way to Christ, so must the followers of Christ do the same when we interact with others. Whether that interaction takes place in the grocery store, at one's place of work, in a house of worship, on the street, or on the internet, those made in God's image are called to point the way to God.
In the season of the Incarnation, we remember the birth of the one who made the lame walk, caused the blind to see, and preached dignity and worth to the poor and the downcast. Like John, Christians today should point the way to Christ.
Here is last night's edition of Oatney's Hour of Power, one that I am sure will generate controversy. Last night's program was expanded to just over 30 minutes. The caller at the end of the show is a Talkshoe Network host of a program called Tech Bytes, and he goes by the username of Kain on TalkShoe, and he called in to welcome me to the Talkshoe Network at the end of the show. I want to apologize that I wasn't able to make his show at midnight, I should be able to in the near future-but I do want to inform folks who might listen live how you can join me on the air live and be part of the discussion.
The call in number is 1-(724)-444-7444. To join the discussion you have to enter the TalkShoe talk cast ID, which for my show is 10742. You can make things easier and join the show regularly by creating your own account at www.talkshoe.com .
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.