Since I have always believed that we need to take things a little less seriously on the weekends around here, I thought that I little humor might be in order-specifically a little 1970's flashback humor.
Remember back in those days what they used to do on college campuses-and in other even less appropriate places?
Attention Knox County: Bend your knee to the will of the Great Leader!
Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore is being accused by Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale of "backpedaling" on his support for Ragsdale's dictatorial designs on Knox County Government since Moore seems to have changed his tune on Ragsdale's notion of how the term-limited Commissioners should be replaced. Commissioner John Schmid (a Ragsdale lackey) has accused Moore of "falling under the influence" of Sheriff Tim Hutchison.
Let us be clear what this is about: Ragsdale hates Hutchison because he knows that Hutchison is accutely aware, possibly more than anyone else, of just how much of a crook Mike Ragsdale is. "Falling under the influence" of Hutchison" may mean that Hutchison has talked to Moore or other Commissioners about the evidence against Ragsdale in the Harber Affair, which he has been investigating for a very long time. Without giving too many details (and thus compromising the investigation), Hutchison may have tried to explain how serious the situation is. Fortunately for Ragsdale, Knox County D.A. Randy Nichols is a weakling who acts primarily as a lapdog for Ragsdale in this sort of situation.
With Hutchison's departure, Ragsdale is hoping to get out from under the microscope of the Harber Affair-he is hoping that it will go away. Those who are "under the influence of Huchison" are simply those who refuse to do Mike Ragsdale's bidding about appointing Commissioners or anything else. It is the latest punchline of the pro-Ragsdale crowd for those who refuse to bend to the will of the Great Leader.
Today's radio podcast deals with State Representative Stacey Campfield's new "tax porn not corn" proposal. I discuss in rather blunt terms why I think the proposal is a good idea and why having a "sin tax" on other items but not on offline pornographic material is a double standard.
State Representative Stacey Campfield has presented an innovative new bill that would tax pornography in place of food. The legislation proposes that pornographic items such as X-rated movies, magazines, and strip clubs would be taxed.
"The porn industry is probably much more powerful and much more profitable than most people realize in Tennessee."
Stacey is quite right, and all you have to do is take a trip through the more seedy parts of Knoxville every day like I used to have to do (by bus) to see that porn is big business. Out here in White Pine, where I now live, it is easy to avoid such crap-but in Tennessee's urban and some suburban areas it is to be found in abundance. Stacey called me about this legislation last night before word about it broke in the press, and I gave it an unqualified endorsement.
I opposed Senator Doug Jackson's bill because it would be an outright ban and would be contrary to the First Amendment in both spirit and letter. In opposing it, however, I did say and do believe that the State has the right to regulate the pedding of smut. If the State has the right to regulate something, it certainly has the right to tax it and that has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's First Amendment rights. You will still be able to by the latest DVD of Chitty-Chitty Gang Bang if you please, but if you can afford that sort of thing, you can afford to pay a couple of bucks more for it.
Bredesen says it is unconstitutional-that's the argument they are using to try and derail this bill? If that is true, then taxing my tickets to a Smokies game is also unconstitutional, since in both cases you are taxing a form of entertainment that certainly would involve the rights of free speech and free association. I demand that the State of Tennessee cease taxing my Smokies tickets, they are violating the First Amendment.
I got a real kick out of this tidbit in the KNS:
Tracy O'Neill, who represents such clubs as lobbyist for the Tennessee Cabaret Association, said the Utah law had been challenged in court and has produced no revenue.
Try and put "Utah" and "strip club" in the same sentence without rolling on the floor laughing until your gut hurts. Everywhere else, such a tax would certainly work.
Then there is this quote:
She compared the store's stock to cigarettes, saying that a high tax does not deter use of tobacco.
"I think (lawmakers) just target stuff that is a big moneymaker," Dunn said. "You don't really hear them talk about a tax on items that aren't very popular."
It is supposed to make money, that's the point! Neither Stacey nor I want to ban it-we want to tax it. Legislators and Governor...are you telling Tennesseans you would rather tax corn instead of porn?
Rep. Campfield, asked me not to blog about this until it broke in the press today since he had already given te News-Sentinel the scoop. I told him I thought this was a grand idea and a way that the grocery tax could at least be lowered significantly. Even if the bill doesn't pass or make it to the floor, I think Campfield should try attaching the idea as a rider or amendment to another bill.
Mike Faulk was an extremely gracious and co-operative person to interview. I can understand why he told me shortly before we began the interview that he was glad to do it, partly because he needed the practice-he strikes me as a normally quiet and reserved person. I may be somewhat wrong on that score, but I say this because he seems less outspoken than I am.
I believe he will make a good candidate because even when I asked him a very obvious question-whether he thought Mike Williams' vote for Ron Ramsey at the beginning of the 105th General Assembly was a sincere one-he refused to put down his opponent even then. Mike Faulk will run a clean campaign.
Faulk's resume is impressive. In government service alone he has served as a Hawkins County Commissioner from 1998-2002, as well as a Hawkins County Juvenile Court Referee (1986-89), and as City Attorney for the Town of Mt. Carmel and the City of Church Hill (1990-2003, 1994-2002). Most notably, perhaps, Faulk served as Vice Chairman of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission from 1985-91. This is a point on his resume that I took careful notice of since I am a person with a disability.
Mike seems a genuine sort of character. One of the things that most impressed me when interviewing him was his blunt honesty. If Mike Faulk doesn't know the answer or he doesn't have one he plainly told me "I do not know." He did not attempt to hedge around the question with political-speak-if he had an answer he gave it, and if he did not he didn't try to make one up.
If there were any aspect of Mike's position that I was a bit disappointed with, it was the fact that I fully expected a much harder line on illegal immigration than what he seemed willing to take. This may be as much from a genuine frustration about how the State should deal with the issue, as opposed to a lack of desire to do anything about it.
I want to caution listeners that the audio is spotty on Mike Faulk's end of the conversation and I am not sure why-I suspect he was on a cell phone and it may simply have had some signal issues. Even with that, however, you can easily get the gyst of everything Faulk is saying.
I have scheduled this morning at approximately 11AM Eastern Time/10 Central, a no-holds barred interview with prospective 4th District State Senate candidate Mike Faulk. If any readers would like to listen live, feel free to click on the Talkshoe link in the sidebar at that time. The recorded version of the interview will be posted here sometime this afternoon.
From a highly placed source at the Capitol who wishes to remain anonymous:
Senator John Wilder has moved out of his old office in the Legislative Plaza. The office that he has moved into is that of Senator Ward Crutchfield. Where does Crutchfield move to? As many know, Crutchfield thus far has managed to avoid the slammer for taking bribes in the Tennessee Waltz sting.
Could Senator Crutchfield be moving his offices to a plush suite at the Graybar Hotel?
Something I have always believed about the modern-day Democratic Party is that even when they are well-intentioned, tax increases are encoded on their political DNA. They may tell you that they will not raise your taxes, and they may even run on the notion that they did not or will not do it. You can rest assured, however, that a Democrat in a position of power will find some rhyme or reason, some excuse to increase your tax bill. While Republicans may also increase taxes (especially at the federal level), doing so for the GOP is the political kiss of death-and not always because they promise not to. After all, it was Bill Clinton who swore "I will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these programs," and then almost immediately upon being sworn in goes before the American people and said "but I can't." Sure, Clinton's party lost control of Congress the following year, but politically he came off smelling like a rose.
It is a bit easier to punish tax hikers at the State level-or so we think. Tennesseans likely believed that they were somehow "punishing" Don Sundquist by electing Phil Bredesen as Governor in 2002. After all, Sundquist betrayed his own former conservative credentials in the name of "tax fairness" and "raising more revenue" waited until his second term, when he was a lame duck, to go before the people of Tennessee and go along with a plan for a State income tax-what amounted to a massive tax hike. Sundquist's own party turned on him, though, and Republican opposition to the income tax (along with popular support for the anti-income tax position) helped kill it.
A lot of Republicans voted for Phil Bredesen this last time, and I talked to many of them. One told me "I did not vote for Bredesen last time around, but I will this time-I think he has done a wonderful job managing the State's money." Another said "Bredesen is the best Governor we've had in my lifetime, and I've never voted for a Democrat, but I am voting for Bredesen." These folks put their trust in Bredesen because as far as they could see, their taxes did not go up and the State was in sound financial health. All of this is very true, of course...but in a second term, Bredesen is answerable to no one-and there are plenty in his party who await the chance to raise taxes with baited breath.
Sure enough, we learn this week that good ol' Phil has been taking money from the gas tax fund which pays for road construction and using it for "other projects," and so as a result there will soon be a shortfall in the road construction fund. The Governor's solution: Raise the gas tax. The State of Tennessee has a nearly $400 million surplus (at least) and King Phillip can't find the money for his "other projects" there-he has to raid the road construction fund? Then he wants to raise our taxes when that fund runs low? Oh joy!
Note to Mumpower, Brooks, Casada, Niceley, Dunn, Ramsey, Norris, and all of the Brethren on the Hill: Oppose this tyranny at every turn, and while you are at it you can expose Bredesen for the fraud that he is to the good people who put their trust in him.
I share Senator Doug Jackson's hatred of indecency and distaste for smut. I have long believed that pornography, or anything that could remotely be seen to be related to pornography, is a tool of Satan that he is using to bring about the breakdown of Western civilization. Even the very word pornography would indicate the truth of that statement. Breaking down the word in Greek, pornoi literally translates as "devil," while "graph" means picture or pictures-"devil pictures."
No doubt Senator Jackson agrees with me that things like Girls Gone Wild are exploitative of women and place into the minds of children an attitude about women as objects and sex as a mere act of enjoyment and nothing more. Love, commitment, stable relationships, and respect have no play or place in the world as promoted by the producers of Girls Gone Wild. I can understand fully why Jackson would desire to ban advertizing for such incindiary filth-and that is exactly what it is.
Were I a member of the Tennessee Senate, however, I do not believe that I could vote for Jackson's bill with a clear conscience, even though I find myself in full agreement with its motives.
I believe the State has the right and the duty to regulate the peddling of obscenity, and that the State can even define obscenity in law and use that definition to heavily regulate obscenity. To put it in plain English, if Senator Jackson wanted to pass a bill that says that commercials cannot air before 3 or 4 A.M., the State has every right to do that. The commercials are obviously designed to appeal to the prurient interest and should be aired at a time when decent parents would have their children in bed.
The problem is Jackson's desire for an outright ban on the ads. A good deal of the weight here lies in parental responsibility. If you have young children and they are up late enough to see these ads, and are watching the cable channels these ads are on and you are not changing the channel, then you are a very poor parent. It is not the job of the State to raise children-unlike what Hillary Clinton thinks.
The fact that these ads run (and work so well) is an indication of a larger social problem that the State cannot solve-an oversexualized and underspiritualized Western society is slowly disintigrating. No legislation can bring that process to a stop. The only thing that will work is for people to have a change of heart and to return as a society to the things that matter most. These are the children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers after all, the generation that thought it was fine and dandy to rebel against and destroy the established standards of social morality. Welcome to the end result.
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.
Note that it clearly states that the citizen is responsible for the abuse of liberty of speech, not the State. The State banning (not merely regulating) speech that it deems indecent is a slippery slope. It is by this same logic that some people's speech is also censored for being "hate speech." The State that can ban Girls Gone Wild can also ban conservative speech. We should not let the precident be set.
Today's radio program was our Sunday Sports show. Among the topics: Last week's National Championship in college football, the Barry Bonds amphetamine revelations, the NFL Playoffs, and the signing of David Beckham to play soccer in the United States. Matt Daley is the guest co-host.
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