Immigration as an issue in the 2008 Presidential Race and how it contricuted to the demise of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback's campaign. An important upcoming guest. Some exciting changes to this broadcast.
The topsy-turvy world of college football over the last two weeks. Southern Cal loses to Stanford, and then both No.1 LSU and No. 2 Cal lose the following week. Now No. 2 South Florida loses Thursday night. The turmoil of the rankings. The rise of the dominance of the Colorado Rockies in the MLB playoffs.
Illegal Immigration nixing certain candidates (Brownback, etc.)
The Republican Presidential Primary process is about to claim its second casualty if reports flying across the news wires yesterday were to be believed. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is set to announce today that he will end his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination:
Trouble raising money was a main reason for his decision, said one person close to Brownback, who requested anonymity because the candidate had not yet announced his plans.
We can say that this is because Brownback is lesser-known, but I think there is another factor at work. Sam Brownback (a convert to Catholicism) heavily courted the evangelical vote. He did manage to have quite a bit of evangelical support, but his position on a certain key issue caused many people who would otherwise be tempted to rally to his side to shy away from him-illegal immigration.
Besides money, Brownback’s support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants hurt him in Iowa, an early-voting state that has struggled to provide education, medical care and other services as the number of immigrants has more than doubled since 1990.
The only reason why illegal immigration has not become the lead issue in this 2008 Republican Primary process is because the pro-restrictionist vote is divided among several candidates. If that vote were united behind a single candidate, I believe that candidate could win the Republican nomination. If Brownback's demise shows anything, it is that the so-called "religious right" still has a bit of the Old Right left in it. The very people on the evangelical or moral right who were most likely to support Sam Brownback because of his position on abortion or the sanctity of marriage were also equally as likely to abandon him because of his liberal position on immigration.
The immigration question is also what continues to keep the candidacy of Mike Huckabee a second-tier effort. On paper, Huckabee is the perfect candidate for those of us on the right who believe that faith and moral values are an important part of the American civic framework: He is an ordained minister and former pastor, his pro-life position has no historical inconsistencies, and he has instituted programs and policies that favor two-parent families and encourage personal responsibility and moral integrity. The problem is that he doesn't know how to stop spending money (and has a terrible tax-and-spend record as Governor), and he refuses to deal with the immigration issue. He as much as favors amnesty without calling it that.
Illegal immigration may not be seen as an important issue by the Big Three Republican candidates precisely because the vote on that issue is so split, but it is important enough that it has brought down one candidate and may topple another. Immigration is the spoiler in everyone's playoff hopes-it may not make it to the post-season, but it could spoil some people's chances of getting there.
Among the many things to be seen at last weekend's Rogersville Heritage Days were some people engaged in a rather unique political fundraiser. Nicole was who pointed it out to me, and when I first saw it I thought it was a sad sight indeed.
Here we see some folks gathered outside what passes for the Hawkins County Democrat Headquarters. When we saw what they were doing to bring people to them, at first we really thought "man, the Democrats must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel-that's so pitiful, they can't attract people any other way." A closer look changed my mind about this unique way to raise money.
The Democrats were soliciting one dollar donations in return for the use of the commode in their building. Note that the chili hot dog isn't the first thing on the sign, neither is the bottled water or the chocolate. Instead, the first thing we see is the restroom. I initially found this idea quite abhorrent, because what if someone passed by and had a restroom emergency? Would the Democrats really beg a buck from him or her?
Upon pondering the matter further, however, both Nicole and myself came to the conclusion that this was a very unique way to raise money, and is actually the perfect way to represent the Democratic Party. What better way to give people a taste of how their donations may help Tennessee Democrats.
From the very inception of the PATRIOT Act and the laws and regulations which are connected to it, I have registered my outspoken opposition. I have done so not as a liberal looking for a convenient way to criticize a President who holds a differing political viewpoint, but as a conservative Republican who believes as a matter of principle that the government which governs least governs best. It is a cardinal rule of American conservatism that the Constitution of the United States is meant to be taken literally, and that we should never "read into" the federal Constitution legal notions that the framers of that document or its corresponding amendments did not intend.
Until September 11, the idea that the federal power had no right to take actions which violated the basic tenants of both the Bill of Rights as well as the principle of States' Rights specifically enshrined in the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was something deeply ingrained into the conservative mind. After that awful day, so-called conservatives were championing warrantless wiretaps, torture disguised as "coercive punishment," detention without trial, and trial before bodies with legally questionable judicial authority. From the beginning of all of this, I remember thinking I was in some kind of twilight zone. I could not believe that people would condone such sweeping executive power that clearly had no rational basis in a strict construction of the Constitution. The President's men were committing the same grave error that liberals do-reading things into the Constitution that are not there.
Most of all, I've been asking myself for the last six years: Am I the only conservative who sees a problem with the newly expanded federal executive power?
As it turns out, not only am I not alone, but former conservative members of the present Administration agree. The former head of the Office of Legal Council (OLC) Jack Goldsmith let the President know in no uncertain terms that he stood in violation of the Geneva Convention as well as the Constitution. The other major figured who nearly died defending the Constitution and laws of the United States would surprise many on the Left, but does not surprise me-former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
I always thought Ashcroft was somehow getting a bad rap-I could feel it somewhere deep in my bones. We now know that Ashcroft let it be known exactly what he thought of the program of torture, military commissions, and unconstitutional behavior on the part of the White House (and specifically on the part of Vice President Dick Cheney): He believed that it was unlawful.
So powerful has the Vice President become that he and his Chief Counsel David Addington can easily be seen to be running the country-the Constitution be damned. If you haven't seen the latest Frontline on the extent of Cheney's power and the battle between conservatives in the Administration, you absolutely need to watch it.
If Democrats think four years of Hillary or Obama will undue this pervasive Constitutional mess, they ought to give thought that these kinds of laws and regulations can just as well be used by Democrats and liberals against their political opposition-if you are expecting all of this to be undone, you had best think again.
“This office has a long-standing policy of declining to issue legal opinions concerning matters bound up in on-going litigation,” Attorney General Robert E. Cooper said. “This policy is designed to avoid intruding improperly into the judicial process, particularly in matters that may involve or impact state officials.”
The Attorney General awaits a ruling by Chancellor Daryl Fansler on whether a special election is a viable legal option. In theory, the Chancellor could rule that a special election must take place, but it would seem that to do so he would simply have to ignore the Tennessee Constitution which states very clearly:
Vacancies in county offices shall be filled by the county legislative body, and any person so appointed shall serve until a successor is elected at the next election occurring after the vacancy and is qualified.
In an ideal world, there could be a special election in Knox County without any legal problem. No one who helped frame the State Constitution could have possibly imagined the bizarre chain of events in Knox County over the last year and a half-I certainly could not have. However, I fear that any other ruling aside from the one which the Constitution allows for is reading things into the Constitution that are simply not there.
The General Assembly has the authority to call a special election, but they do not convene until January and the Primary is in February. I cannot see the Governor feeling justified in calling the Tennessee General Assembly into special session in the middle of October to address a matter that is peculiar to Knox County alone, and I also can't see our friends in West Tennessee, or those members in Upper East Tennessee being thrilled about running back to Nashville on some Knox County affair that (at least in theory) they have no part with.
Call me crazy, but I am going to say that we will see another appointment process.
On Saturday, Nicole and I had the opportunity to attend Rogersville Heritage Days. We love fairs and festivals, so it wasn't exactly difficult to decide to go up there. As usual the food was great, and the entertainment (especially the Celtic ensemble Fire in the Kitchen) was top notch and was absolutely free. We even brought home a couple of jars of good honey and I got a bag of natural honey candy. I even managed to find Nicole a birthday present.
The Master of Ceremonies for the entertainment at Heritage Days was none other than our next State Senator Mike Faulk. Why am I so quick to say that Faulk will win the election next year? The answer is simple: Mike Faulk shows up. Clearly Mike enjoys himself and when he wasn't on the stage introducing the various acts, he was walking around the festival shaking hands and handing out campaign cards. The difference between Mike Faulk and many other people in public life is that he doesn't need to be doing this, he is running out of a sheer desire to serve. As a result, he doesn't act in the least like he is campaigning-he just enjoys being around people.
Granted, I've come to be a supporter of Mike Faulk, so it is true that I have my biases where he is concerned. It is also true, as Mike pointed out to me, that he and I have grown closer over the last year, and each of us has come to consider the other a friend. As a result of that, it is all too easy for me to look above and beyond the politics of a situation because he and I are often (again, to quote him) "on the same wavelength." It isn't that we always see eye-to-eye, but we view politics, public life, and public service in such a similar light that our similarities are much deeper than mere philosophy. We've even had the shared experience of working in radio-separated at birth, perhaps?
Even knowing all of that, I think it is fair to ask this question considering that there is a State Senate Race on in the 4th District: Where on God's green Earth was Mike Williams this past weekend? Festivals such as Heritage Days are a notorious repository of politicians for the very reason that they are filled with the very voters who get public officials elected and re-elected. Yet at a well-publicized festival filled with visitors from all over the 4th Senate District and beyond, Senator Mike Williams was nowhere to be seen. Yes, the Faulk Law Firm was a sponsor of Heritage Days, and yes, this is Hawkins County, Mike Faulk's back yard. But Mike Williams cannot win re-election by winning Union County alone.
Is he so ashamed of his reputation as a ship-jumper that he will not even show his face? There are rumors abounding that he is considering not running for re-election at all. I have heard from at least one source that Williams is considering running for the House in District 36, where Rep. William Baird could be retiring. Williams rarely, if ever returns constituent phone calls, and can be heard from in mailers only when trying to make himself look good. He didn't begin this way, but the way he has apparently chosen to end his career is truly shameful.
While it is true that the sudden appearance of Borat at any festival would likely turn the affair into some twisted comedy routine, and The Daily Kosdid Williams no favors in this district by highlighting his switch Friday, he is still the State Senator until January 2009. Apparently, that doesn't mean much to him.
NOTE: Nicole took some pictures at Heritage Days on 35mm film (the digital camera ran out of battery). When we have time to scan them and get them up, there will be a few Heritage Days pictures in the next couple of days.
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