Saturday, May 26, 2007

I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing...

On my podcast a few weeks ago, when discussing stereotypes in the Middle East held commonly about Americans, I pointed out that the most popular American television show was Dallas in that part of the world-a program that re-enforces all sorts of negative stereotypes about Americans that I wouldn't want someone in the Arab World to think.

A few weeks back in The Wall Street Journal I read about what the most popular American syndicated show was in Germany-I nearly rolled in the floor with laughter:

Labels: ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grabbin' the cabbie

The rumors about Ophelia Ford's health and whether or not she may have an alcohol problem took a decidedly serious turn when a Nashville cab driver accused Senator Ford of grabbing him and tearing off his shirt button. Apparently, this fella picked up Ophelia from the Wildhorse Saloon Tuesday evening.

If you've ever been to Nashville, you've probably heard of the Wildhorse. For the most part, I have always found the place to be a tourist trap, but it is certainly not a place you go and don't have a drink (unless you are the designated driver). Like Kleinheider, I am again trying very hard to reserve judgment on this woman, but clearly there is a problem here.

I will be the last person in the world to tell legislators that they should not be able to go out and have a drink or two with the guys/gals after session. When I was in Nashville for Bloggers' Day on the Hill, I had a couple of drinks with legislators, and of both parties-we had a fine time. There is a difference, though, between having a couple of drinks and having a few too many. There is also the distinction between those who can handle certain substances and those who cannot.

Whether Ophelia Ford is an alcoholic or not may be an open question, but clearly her family believes that she needs help. You can chalk up repeated instances of questionable conduct to "illness" all you want, but if Ophelia Ford was as ill as she claims, she had to know about it at the beginning of the Senate session, and would have run for her brother's Senate seat under the false pretense of having the ability to serve.

Senator Ford needs help to overcome her battle(s) before she can safely and sanely return to public life.


Sports and tort reform

A discussion of responsibility in sports and how this proves the ultimate need for tort reform with sports co-host Matt Daley.

Oatney On the Air/The Stat Man Show Joint Edition-May 25, 2007


Big Senate oops

Just when I say the smoking ban is all but dead yesterday, a version of it passes the Senate. At least tobacco stores are exempt under the bill. It will next be before the House Agriculture Committee. The question of how the government intends to fund the Basic Education Plan via a an essentially banned substance remains unanswered.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bredesen's biggest supporter of BEP is a leading backer of an income tax

To support the Governor's Basic Indictrination-er...I mean Education Plan, he has to bring out the big guns to explain to Tennesseans how the proposal to increase the tobacco tax is going to fund it will continue to fund education even though it is a diminishing source of revenue. At least we thought it was a diminishing source of revenue, but now Senator Rosalind Kurita, Democratic Senate Leader Jim Kyle, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, Democratic Leader Gary Odom, and a host of politicos from the other side of the aisle assure us that it shall not be. People will continue to smoke and chew the burley in spite of these unholy tax hikes on the leaf, they tell us.

These folks told us the same thing when they were preparing to enact a Statewide smoking ban. A forced smoking ban in a tobacco State-a ban that would not have left the choice up to business owners (the right thing to do), but would have uniformly enforced a public ban Statewide, even in tobacco stores with smoking rooms! Mercifully, it appears that ban has been scuttled-at least as the Governor had wanted it. The Governor's plan to use tobacco tax increases to fund education has not yet died, and he has brought out someone who is a major supporter of his plan. That supporter is Doctor William Fox, the leading economist at the University of Tennessee.

It seems quite normal that a Democratic Governor would call upon a college professor (a traditionally liberal group of people) to support his so-called plan. Earlier in the legislative session, the Governor "warned" the General Assembly that if he didn't get his way, it may "revive discussion" about an income tax. What he really meant is that he, the Great Philip, might "revive" discussion. One of the leading proponents in the parade of supporters for an income tax in 2000-2002 to was none other than the selfsame Dr. Bill Fox.

Now that Bredesen is safely in a second term, he is no longer answerable to the people. He can pull a Don Sundquist and he doesn't have to worry about the consequences any longer. Like Sundquist before him, he finished his first term being hailed by many as Messiah and Lord and was safely re-elected.

The leading supporter of Bredesen's proposal for the BEP is also the State's leading supporter of an income tax. This is a coincidence that might be worth brushing off were it not for the fact that it has been Bredesen warning of "reviving" talk of an income tax, and drags out the biggest supporter of an income tax to support an education plan so full of holes that when it becomes apparent that the money can't be correctly allocated, trusty Dr. Fox can then tell us how we need an income tax to solve the problem-how convenient.

Perhaps now we better understand why some students and faculty refer to the University of Tennessee as "the Big Orange Screw." (Note: this is in no way a reflection of my personal feeling about UT as an academic institution...but I do know from experience that university staff spend a great deal of time finding ever-new ways to "stick it" to students and the public.)

Bredesen will attempt before his term is out to push an income tax through "for the children." A good way to stop this may be to elect a General Assembly in 2008 that would be extremely unfriendly to that idea.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All hail, King Philip!

The Governor's staff say that an "innocent mistake" was made and that they were not using "bait-and switch" tactics, as Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris had claimed. Governor Phil Bredesen wants to pass an increase in the State's tobacco tax-an increase that the State does not need (since we have a massive surplus) in order, the Governor says, to fund improvements in education.

Senate Republicans could have played hardball and blocked the Governor's proposal entirely. They chose not to do so in what I think was a wise decision at the time-not because I necessarily agree with the Governor or his funding formula, but because I had hopes-as I am sure most Republicans did- that the Governor would negotiate in good faith. In the end the Governor might get his tobacco tax hike, but in return Republicans would get the rules of educational accountability they were asking for, and might get Tennesseans a richly-deserved reduction in the grocery tax.

Now the Governor is playing in a manner aptly described by Senator Tim Burchett as "bush league." Haranguing legislators with "phone bank" phone calls. The calls are orchestrated by the Tennessee Education Association, which is hardly an independent group-it's long-standing ties, along with those of other NEA affiliates, to the Democratic Party are well-known. If the Democratic Party or a Democratic Governor says "jump," the TEA will say "how high," and vice-versa. This is hardly grass-roots activism, this is Bredesen sicking his minions on the General Assembly in an attempt to force compliance with his way. Last I heard, Phil Bredesen has not been crowned King of Tennessee.

The calls are not the biggest problem, however. The Governor's staff e-mailed a memorandum to legislators outlining his proposed changes for the Basic Education Plan. The wording of the memo is far less stringent on standards than what the Governor had previously promised. He is misleading Republicans and trying to intimidate them.

Apparently, the Governor believes that his election victory last November entitles him to do whatever he bloody well pleases with little or no oversight. Don Sundquist believed the same thing, Governor, and we see where it has landed him in the annals of Tennessee history.

And so begins another week in the Banana Republic of Tennessee.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kelsey brought the pork to the public eye

Many people in the blogosphere on the Left side have criticized Rep. Brian Kelsey for his so-called stunt of putting bacon in an envelope in response to Democratic attempts to dole out $100,000 per House member and $300,000 per Senator in pure pork. Kleinheider apparently has the belief that Kelsey could better have voiced his opposition to this vote-buying scheme by giving a grand oration on the House floor.

Let us be realistic here: Jimmy Naifeh has near-absolute control over the place. If someone were to get up on the floor of the House and try to make what amounts to a real address-and not just have question time-there is every reason to believe that Naifeh would bring things to a quick halt. He has already done this when members attempt to ask real questions and not just feel-good fluff. Because the Tennessee House of Representatives functions in the way that it does, the press does not cover what happens there particularly well, either. Indeed, I find that coverage of the House by the mainstream press is extremely poor, and if you want to know what is really going on there, you have to watch sessions and committee hearings online and get to know some people on the Hill and keep in touch with those folks-otherwise, you will not know jack crap about what is really happening in our State government-and believe me, there are plenty at the Plaza who would love to keep it that way.

What some are calling "public investment" is really a desperation move, largely by the Democrats, to hang on to power. They want to spend away our surplus in vote-buying pork Robert Byrd style, and if Senate Republicans block this, they can then say "see, the Republicans don't want to improve your community." It is a raw political play designed to be used as an election issue. None of us were born yesterday and we see this for what it is.

In such a climate, Brian Kelsey's move to hand over the bacon in an envelope and refuse the pork in a very public way may have appeared juvenile to some, but it was the only way that he could draw any press attention to what was happening in our Capitol. After Kelsey's stunt, the press is starting to cover this appropriation and the pros and cons are all over the papers in a way that they were not before. Had Kelsey merely stuck to a speech on the House floor, it would likely have gotten little or no attention.

I agree with Dr. Martin Kennedy on this score. So-called "stunts" like that of Rep. Kelsey are often the only way to draw attention to these kinds of problems. The Democrats do not like it because it forces them to go on record and answer for their actions.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Cobb fights the power

I come out in support of Nashville blogger Sharon Cobb in her latest foray with federal officials.

Oatney On the Air-May 21, 2007


Ophelia: A sad situation

The temptation to reap political benefits may cause some to try to capitalize on the situation of State Senator Ophelia Ford. After all, here is a woman who so clearly cannot confront her problems or admit that they are there. Whatever issues are dogging Senator Ford, she clearly denies that there is any problem, only to say that she is "sick."

I have no doubt that Senator Ford is ill. It is whether that illness is a treatable sickness (in the same way that the flu might be), or whether it is a disease that is best treated by a twelve-step program that seems to be an open question. At least one reliable media-savvy blogger in the opposite party has been outspoken in her belief that Miss Ophelia is suffering from Jack and Jim Fever. I won't get into that speculation, only because if it is something else that could be even more disabling, I wouldn't want to mock that and make Senator Ford's disability a subject of ridicule.

The question of whether she is effectively serving her constituents and the larger people of the State of Tennessee is a legitimate one, however. If Ford's claims that she has an illness that is keeping her away from the Senate for weeks at a time are true, then she is not serving the people of her district in her absence. For Democrats as a whole, her "problem" is even more serious because with the Senate divided 16-16-1, her lengthy removals from the seat of power (along with Jerry Cooper, a Senator who we know has an alcohol abuse problem) are costing the Democrats influence and-in the end-giving Republicans an outright majority.

As a Republican I could gloat in such circumstances, but this is hardly a situation to boast about. Ophelia Ford's conduct over the last week has not only embarrassed her party, but has brought the Senate as a whole to a certain level of disgrace. Her continued refusal to admit she has a problem is not only costing her constituents representation, but is costing the people of Tennessee a salary for a Senator who is apparently not able to perform her duties.

This is the problem with Crumpism/Fordism in Memphis: The Machine that gave us John Ford, a man who existed in office by virtue of his name, gave us his sister-a woman clearly incapable of the duties of public office. One can only hope that the voters of Memphis will be intelligent enough to realize that just because someone is named Ford does not make them fit for service. I'm not saying that there aren't families in public service who aren't worthy of their political clout, or even "bosses" who haven't earned their status by doing for the folks. What I am saying is that name alone is not a qualifier, and Ophelia Ford proves daily that she is unqualified to serve in the Tennessee Senate.

How can I say this? Well, she continues to believe that her rant was somehow on-topic, when it has been demonstrated that it simply was not. No matter what her difficulties are, she is demonstrating by both her words and her actions that she is unaware of what is happening in the legislature. Most importantly, Ophelia Ford has a problem that she is refusing to acknowledge or confront.

Ophelia Ford needs help. That assistance cannot be found in the chamber of the Tennessee Senate.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Preakness and Bengals

Curlin's nose-length triumph in the Preakness Stakes. The continuing troubles of the Cincinnati Bengals organization.

The Sunday Sports Pack-May 20, 2007


Locations of visitors to this page
Profile Visitor Map - Click to view visits
Create your own visitor map