Friday, July 27, 2007

To understand the vote, you have to remember the history

Joe Powell is among those who are just torn to pieces by the recent vote by Congressman David Davis against a bill that tightened federal regulations on dogfighting. I understand that the disgusting and disgraceful actions of Michael Vick have brought the cruelties involved in dogfighting to light for many people. I fear that Powell is forgetting his history, as we tend to do in modern culture. I don't think David Davis is in favor of cruelty to animals, but he is opposed to more federal interference into our business here in East Tennessee.

I haven't seen eye-to-eye with Congressman Davis on everything, and when we have disagreed on something, I have been careful to let that be known. In meeting Congressman Davis on a couple of occasions however, I have come believe he has a keen sense of the history of federal abuse of power here (again and again and again), and is not excited about giving the federal government yet another opportunity to screw the people of East Tennessee over.

Congressman Davis understands that the federal government has not always been a friend to the people of East Tennessee, and they have used federal regulations and laws in a way not to punish those who truly endanger society, but to go after those who do little harm to their neighbor.

Those who know a little something about American history know that during the Late Unpleasantness Union sympathy ran very high in East Tennessee. East Tennesseans were repaid for their loyalty by seeing federal soldiers turn Knoxville's Market Square into a massive powder and ammunition dump right in the middle of town. It was by the grace of God that the city did not burn to the ground, and the federals refused to remove the gunpowder from a public marketplace despite repeated pleas for them to do so. East Tennessee's native son Andrew Johnson was impeached (but not convicted) by radicals.

What really brought East Tennessee into the Republican camp permanently-perhaps more than any other thing-were the actions of the federal government in the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the confiscations of many homes and farms in the name of bringing electric power to this valley. The TVA did dam up the Holston, the French Broad, and the Tennessee Rivers, and did bring electricity here-but did so in a less-than-honest way. After using eminent domain to seize many family properties, telling people that their homes were to be flooded by the newly-formed lakes, TVA held on to properties that did not flood at all. Rather than return the properties to their original owners or their heirs, TVA also kept these lands and began to sell them off (a process that continues to this very day). It did not endear many East Tennesseans to the federal government, and certainly not to the Democratic Party which many deemed responsible as the party of government at the time. Mike Faulk and I have discussed this, and we agree that while the old residual war vote may have been a factor in the early 20th Century, the TVA land grab did more than any other thing in the last 100 years to insure Republican political dominance in East Tennessee.

From the days of prohibition well into the 60's (and beyond), the federals came hither to apprehend the makers of the good ole mountain dew and to try and cut off supply of the happy juice. One thing that must be understood about this time period is that Sevierville and Pigeon Forge were not exactly tourist meccas in those days, and Gatlinburg was just beginning to be known as something of a resort town. The landscape was different. Running moonshine was a risky but effective way to make enough money to feed your family, pay the note on your land, and get ahead in life. It was not the least bit uncommon for local authorities to turn a blind eye when they knew that someone was making shine-especially since, in the eyes of many, these folks weren't interfering with their neighbors. The federals came because (God forbid) the moonshiners were selling cheap whiskey and the federals weren't getting any of that money. For the most part, the feds succeeded in stamping out the practice, but they tended to go after the small farmer who made a little whiskey on the side-it made a lot of people feel that the feds were simply out to get them.

Some people still use their homemade stills around here, however. The feds got Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton after a fire in his barn. What was the local reaction here? Well, I can't judge whether it was universal or not, but the fellas down at the drugstore here in White Pine thought the whole thing was a shame. "What harm did he do them," asked one. "They ought to just leave ol' Popcorn alone," said another. That was just the tip of the iceberg. It wasn't a popular arrest at the Sanitary.

That is generally what folks around here want-to be left alone. If I do you no harm, then leave me be. It is an especially widespead opinion here that the federal government has little or no business in our local affairs. Knowing that, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the Congressman for the Fighting First would vote against another regulation that would bring the federal government here yet again.

I think what Michael Vick did was horrible, and I say that as an animal lover who owns a dog, a rooster, chickens, and raises rabbits. If found guilty, the man should be punished severely. It ought to be the Commonwealth of Virginia taking the lead, however. It is up to local jurisdictions to decide how to punish this kind of thing-animal cruelty is not a Constitutional matter.

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12 Comments:

At Friday, July 27, 2007 12:42:00 PM, Blogger A. Renee Daley said...

David;

I think that other areas of this great United States feels the same way that East Tennessee does. Government simply has WAY too much involvement in state and local affairs, and should return to their limited role as designed by the Constitution.

However, while I understand your argument that the Commonwealth of Virginia and other local jurisdictions should take the lead - if the crime took place across state lines - as alleged, then the Federal government is within its boundaries to investigate and prosecute Michael Vick.

Animal fighting (not only dog fighting, but cock fighting as well), takes place all over this country and is not solely an East Tennessee issue. While I may not agree with a Federal statute or amendment banning such activities, I don't begrudge the Federal government for wanting to step in and limit it. If it is a localized issue, then by all means the state should be the first to take any and all action.

 
At Friday, July 27, 2007 6:58:00 PM, Blogger Joe Powell said...

I have to say this particular case is about halting a highly organized interstate crime ring that has spread across the nation and in no way is interfering in ANY legitimate 'business' of ET residents.

 
At Friday, July 27, 2007 9:03:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

I've got to agree with that as well. If this had been a localized issue, be it ET or Virginia or anywhere else, the feds would not have gotten involved. In fact, the feds weren't involved at all in the beginning; they only joined the state effort when it became clear that the crimes were being committed on an inter-state basis.

I'm also for as little federal interference on state or local issues as possible. But this is CLEARLY not an East Tennessee issue. Animal cruelty is a national problem, and there simply must be some federal legislation on the matter to go along with localized legislation.

Further, federal regulations against animal cruelty -- especially dogfighting -- aren't meant to "screw" anyone or "go after those who do little harm to their neighbor". As Senator Robert Byrd said shortly after Vick's indictment was released, God does not look kindly upon those who treat his creations so shabbily. I wouldn't for one second put the value of animal life above that of human life, but animal life is still a divine creation and should be treated as such.

Because I'm from the South, I understand why people are wary of how the federal government affects their lives and freedoms. However, this wariness should not grow into a feeling that all federal legislation is interference, nor should all legislation be viewed as bad.

 
At Friday, July 27, 2007 9:14:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

Just to add to my last comment...

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday, and I was disturbed at the dearth of critical thought that he put forth regarding this issue.

Limbaugh was disturbed at a Sports Illustrated article written by an Atlanta columnist that showed how Atlantans feel that the Vick incident is much worse for the city than the Chris Benoit double-murder and homicide or the time that Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens) went on trial for a murder in an Atlanta night club.

Limbaugh couldn't believe this and went into a whole spiel about how the abortion culture has devalued life in America and basically insinuated that anyone who considers Vick's case to be "worse" was part of some big liberal (media) conspiracy.

While I agree that life has been devalued since abortion became federally legal, this is a case of overuse of that ploy. In order to understand the thoughts of Atlantans here, one must think like one...soemthing obviously Rush has not done. Vick is far more popular in Atlanta than Chris Benoit or Ray Lewis. In fact, Vick may be the most popular athlete in Atlanta history. Clearly, it's a given that his legal troubles will be very hurtful to Atlantans, even though the crimes aren't as bad as murder.

The reason I bring this up is because I fear the same mistake may be in progress here. That's not to say that it's an intended mistake, because I don't believe that. However, I do believe that this issue requires a lot of contemplation and it must be understood that the issue is of national, not local, significance.

 
At Saturday, July 28, 2007 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Note that in the post at Volunteer Voters that sparked all of this, I indicated that I did not agree with Davis' vote.

I do understand what his rationale might have been, however, and that was the point I was trying to get across.

 
At Saturday, July 28, 2007 4:19:00 PM, Anonymous OXYMORON said...

The Civil Rights Act of 1963 and exploitation of the reaction to it by Nixon's "Southern Strategy" pushed ET and the South in general into the GOP camp.

 
At Sunday, July 29, 2007 1:31:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Oxy;
Ahhh but there is the rub. East Tennessee was Republican long before the civil rights movement and was among the most Republican areas of the South. Again, this is something I would assume you know if you know something of American history.

 
At Monday, August 06, 2007 1:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Peaceful Picket Line Protest Against Congressman David Davis and his Shameful Vote Against the ANIMAL FIGHTING PROHIBITION ENFORCEMENT ACT, which was supported by more than 400 separate U.S. law enforcement agencies and passed in the U.S. Senate with a 100% vote, will take place at the entrance to Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday, August 9th at 5:30 P.M. where Dogfighting Defender David Davis will be holding a re-election fundraiser. Congressman David Davis was the ONLY Member of Congress from Tennessee to vote against this bill; Let's Send A Message Across the District That DAVID DAVIS DOES NOT SPEAK FOR US! Disgruntled Dogs are welcome.

 
At Monday, August 06, 2007 1:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dogfighting isn’t just an East Tennessee problem, but a national issue requiring a federal response.

This isn’t about usurping state’s rights or Big Government, but this is about strengthening existing laws so state and federal law enforcement can bring down organized criminal dogfighting rings.

By his shameful vote, David Davis Defended Dogfighting and gave criminals a free-pass.

 
At Monday, August 06, 2007 1:30:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

While I understand that many people are quite upset about the vote in question, there are three good words to describe the two posts and the planned "protest":

Desperate Democratic Stunt.

 
At Tuesday, August 14, 2007 12:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, passed in March of this year, was supported by more than 400 separate U.S. law enforcement agencies and passed in the U.S. Senate with a 100% vote.

David Davis was the ONLY member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation to vote against this bill.

His excuse? Tennessee already had a law against dogfighting. Davis said, “I love dogs, but I love the Constitution of the United States more.”

Although animal fighting is prohibited by state laws from coast to coast, it is estimated that there are at least 40,000 professional dogfighters in the United States.

Dogfighting isn’t just an East Tennessee problem. It’s a national problem, and it requires a national response.

This isn’t about usurping state’s rights or expanding the power of the federal government.
This is about local, state, and federal law enforcement working together to bring down organized criminal dogfighting rings to protect our families and communities.

It takes a cheap and cynical coward to cower behind the United States Constitution as a political fig-leaf. This was a bad vote based on bad judgment and a true embarrassment for the people of East Tennessee.

David Davis Defended Dogfighters and gave criminals a free-pass. Now, that's a doggone shame!

 
At Tuesday, August 14, 2007 3:38:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

"It takes a cheap and cynical coward to cower behind the United States Constitution as a political fig-leaf."

I seem to recall that David Davis and all other members of Congress swear an oath to first defend the Constitution of the United States.

 

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