Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ragsdale's chickens come home, begin to roost

Under normal circumstances, I would be inclined to see a divorce between a political couple as an entirely personal (though thoroughly unfortunate and improper) matter that would deserve little print space here. In the case of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's wife filing for divorce, circumstances are not what could be considered "normal" in the sense of what might be termed "political privacy."

It notes the couple has been separated since January 21, citing "inappropriate marital conduct" on the part of Mayor Ragsdale.

"The plaintiff (Claudia Ragsdale) alleges the defendant (Mike Ragsdale) is guilty of such inappropriate marital conduct as renders further cohabitation unsafe and improper," the filing reads. "Plaintiff further alleges that the parties have such irreconcilable differences that the marriage should not be allowed to continue."

"The plaintiff alleges that she has been true to her marriage vows, that she has given defendant no just cause for his misconduct, nor has she condoned the same," the filing continues.

In the filing, Claudia Ragsdale asks for transitional alimony due to Mayor Ragsdale's earning capacity, Claudia Ragsdale's compromised health condition, and Mayor Ragsdale's "marital misconduct." Claudia Ragsdale has been fighting cancer.

What makes this a political story is the fact that it shows a continued pattern of abuse on Ragsdale's part. It was written in this space on Valentine's Day that Ragsdale was running around on his wife. What makes that such a significant fact is that it is apparent that Ragsdale used taxpayer money for some of his personal gratification with the ladies, and even used federal funds to buy liquor for the retreat where the woman or women he may have had adulterous relationships also happened to be present-in violation of both law and ethics (of which he has none, while expecting them of others).

When one considers that Mike Ragsdale has used his surrogates to try to ruin others' careers, his chickens are coming home to roost. Ragsdale is a pitiful malcontent, totally unworthy of the trust and rigors of public office.


Foolin' around Saturday

Buck Owens and Don Rich fool around!


Friday, April 11, 2008

No more national lead for Obama

For some time now, I've been touting the reality that it doesn't matter whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, they are going to have to deal with a close election and possible defeat. A new Associated Press poll released yesterday reinforces that argument:

Republican Sen. John McCain has erased Sen. Barack Obama's
10-point advantage in a head-to-head matchup, leaving him essentially tied with
both Democratic candidates in an Associated Press-Ipsos national poll released

The survey showed the extended Democratic primary
campaign creating divisions among supporters of Obama and rival Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton and suggests a tight race for the presidency in November no
matter which Democrat becomes the nominee.

An AP-Ipsos poll taken
in late February had Obama leading McCain 51-41 percent. The current survey,
conducted April 7-9, had them at 45 percent each. McCain leads Obama among men,
whites, Southerners, married women and independents.

Clinton led
McCain, 48-43 percent, in February. The latest survey showed the New York
senator with 48 percent support to McCain's 45 percent. Factoring in the poll's
margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, Clinton and McCain are statistically

Barack Obama is clearly more popular than Clinton among the Democratic base at this point, and for that reason he still has the upper hand if winning the nomination, but his national support among independents and cross-voting Republicans has now significantly waned. As I suspected, Barack Obama's coalition is a Democratic one only, and the
Red States that he is winning are not States he will be able to carry in the fall-period.

Obama will be able to carry those States that political analysts expect to "go Blue," or that traditionally trend Democratic in national elections. In addition to having lower support among white voters, Obama needs independents to win, and McCain is likely to keep his lead among that group. At this juncture, I do not believe that Barack Obama will carry a single Southern State, including Florida. Further, Obama will do as his Democratic predecessors have done in the previous two election cycles and lose every State in the Great Plains and the Mountain West (Gore did win New Mexico in 2000, Obama may not). He will win the three West Coast States and their huge electoral vote haul, but that won't be enough for him to win.

This means that once again, the General Election will come down (phrasing Tim Russert) to "Ohio, Ohio, and Ohio."

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Democrats devoid of common sense

Whenever Tennessee Democrats lately complain about the ever-increasing budget shortfall in this State, they bemoan the fact that according to their strange reckoning of the universe, our tax system is unfair and inequitable. It is impossible, they tell us, to have maintained our recent surplus (which last year was the largest such State government surplus in the United States). These are the same people who told Tennesseans during last year's budget proposal that the State could fund the Basic Education Plan with a massive increase in the tax on tobacco while proceeding to enact a Statewide public smoking ban which took effect this past October.

Health care advocates were thrilled because the tax increase, which was clearly designed to modify public behavior, would likely encourage Tennesseans to quit smoking in droves. Many Republicans warned that if the State was going to tax tobacco while enacting a public smoking ban, the money would not be a reliable source of funding for education precisely because people would quit smoking. Republicans in the Legislature warned of a coming budget shortfall if the tax increase and the ban were enacted together.

And so they were-and lo and behold, we have a budget shortfall.

Do these people think us so stupid as to believe that the State could tax tobacco while implementing a widespread ban on its most popular method of use, and then rely on the taxes from the banned substance to fund a major operation of State Government. Logic would dictate that a budget shortfall is inevitable.

I seem to have forgotten that common sense is not to be found in large quantities among modern-day Democrats. Meanwhile, Governor Bredesen is looking at funding his party bunker in spite of the budget difficulties.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The blanket label

There is an interesting piece in today's New York Times that discusses the influence that neoconservatives seem to have over John McCain:

Senator John McCain has long made his decades of
experience in foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his
political identity, and suggests he would bring to the White House a fully
formed view of the world.

But now one component of the fractious
Republican Party foreign policy establishment —
the so-called pragmatists, some of whom have come to view the
Iraq war or its execution as a mistake — is
expressing concern that Mr. McCain might be coming under increased influence
from a competing camp, the neoconservatives, whose thinking dominated President
Bush’s first term and played a pivotal role in building the case for war.

I share the concerns of many of the so-called "realists" that John McCain does have a bit too much neoconservative influence in his camp-but I am very careful in my use of that word. It has become the new fad in many of the socio-political circles of the Left to label all of their conservative opponents as "neocons." The New York Times will sometimes feature op-ed pieces which label conservatives as "neocons." Liberal bloggers now use the term with reckless abandon, labeling nearly all of their political opponents as "neocons." I am now labeled as a neocon by certain Leftist bloggers on a regular basis, which would seem to belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the strains of conservative philosophy: Not only am I not a neoconservative, I am nowhere near being one.

Neoconservatives have their philosophical roots in the liberalism if the 1930's-1960's. Many neoconservatives became such because the radical Left took over the Democratic Party in the late 60's and 70's, forcing old fashioned liberals who were anti-Communist but who had a globalist worldview and who accepted a sort of "third way" approach to government (they have no problem with big government so long as the powers of government grow in the direction they are comfortable with), to redefine what it means to be conservative. The neoconservatives have been very successful, because they and their surrogates are now the dominant force in the national Republican Party.

My own philosophy is what is now referred to as
paleoconservatism. I believe in a very limited federal government, and support the idea that nearly all powers not granted to the federal government in the Constitution are to be reserved to the States or to the people. Paleoconservatives are fearful of the power of central government, but also fearful of excessive corporatism-which is why many paleoconservatives oppose the idea of the Federal Reserve and believe the United States should return to a standard of gold and silver as the means by which our money is backed.

Immigration should be limited only to those which can successfully integrated into American society with a minimum amount of federal and State spending-in other words, immigration shouldn't be stopped, but should be placed at levels that are far easier for the established citizenry to control. Immigration laws which are already on the books must be rigorously enforced. Neoconservatives believe (along with many liberals) that it is the business of the United States to intervene around the world in situations where we deem it important to do so, though the sides may differ in what situations intervention is permissable. Traditional paleoconservatives believe that the United States should avoid excessive foreign entanglements like the plague, and believe that foreign aid should be restricted so that America's needs are met with America's money before the needs of the rest of the world. Nearly all paleoconservatives believe the Iraq War was a mammoth mistake, but do believe that there are situations which necessitate American military intervention-with a Congressional Declaration of War (the Constitution says so).

Labeling all conservatives as "neocons" is a rather cheap political move by the Left that is intended to paint their opposition with a broad brush, but that brush is not representative of reality. As for the Iraq War-it was a mistake, and a terrible one, but we are now there whether we like it or not. I personally fear that a unilateral withdrawal would send a signal to Americas enemies that we are weak and unwilling to fight if need be. This war should not have been started, but it must be ended when victory can truly be declared.

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Jimmy Naifeh's BS degree

There are many times when I would like to believe that Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh is actually a nice guy. After all, I am friends with many Democrats, and have met more than a few who serve in the State Legislature. I am thoroughly convinced that the likes of George Fraley, Gary Moore, Dennis Ferguson, Mike Turner, and John Wilder are first-rate human beings, even if I often disagree with them politically. I have had encounters with each one of the aforementioned Democrats (and even a drink or two with a couple of them) and I find them to be kind, genteel, considerate, and all of them strike me as being folks who are in the General Assembly for the right reasons-they came to help their community and serve others. Even when they are wrong (which they often are), they are wrong in the right spirit.

Then there is Jimmy Naifeh, who must have a degree in BS:

This year, the House of Representatives has been faced with a number of bills dealing with the topic of guns. As a gun owner myself and someone who supports the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the issue of gun ownership is a personal one. While I have and will continue to defend Tennesseans’ right to bear arms, I also recognize that with that right comes the need for responsibility. That need for responsibility led me to cast my vote against these bills.

I had the advantage of being in the room when Naifeh showed up in committee to put the knife through at least two of the aforementioned Second Amendment bills. The atmosphere before the meeting began was clearly one of the Democratic power structure in the House putting on a show, and the whole proceeding had the pre-gavel appearance of a carnival. It was obvious that Jimmy Naifeh was there to cajole his boys and gals into line-not unlike the day last year when he made himself look like a dictatorial megalomaniac in the House Agriculture Committee in an attempt to force the Bredesen's tobacco tax through.

Mr. Speaker, I know that House rules give you the ability to vote in any committee on any bill at any time. You ought not use that power to force your will upon the House, as you often do. The rules are what they are, and you can go into a committee and vote as you please, but these rules are structured in such a way that the person who really runs the State of Tennessee is the Speaker of the House of Representatives-and anyone who observes how things work on the Hill would have a fairly easy time concluding that your powers are immense. Your ability to control the affairs of government in this State is much greater, by comparison, than the influence the Speaker of the U.S. House has over national affairs.

Considering that your power is as great as we know it to be, your claim to be pro-second amendment rings very hollow. Someone who is truly supportive of gun rights would not jump through hoops not merely to defeat pro-Second Amendment legislation, but to quash it.

I'm with the Uncle-let's publish your gun information for the world to examine, and let's see how you like it.

(Hat Tip: Katie Allison Granju)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Huckabee's future and the conservative movement


Is Mike Huckabee broadening his base in preparation for a future presidential campaign? Has conservative talk radio lost credibility? Paul "The Voice" Stanton, Adam Graham, and Hatton Humphries join the discussion.

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Big Faulkin' money

Mike Faulk is well on his way to a successful campaign for the State Senate:

The Mike Faulk for State Senate Campaign will file financial disclosures on Thursday showing a cash-on-hand balance of over $105,000.

Faulk formed an exploratory committee in June, 2007, and made his campaign official last month. Mike Faulk has been lining up support and financial resources within Hawkins, Hancock, Claiborne, Jefferson, Union and Grainger Counties and all across Tennessee. The Faulk Campaign has now raised over $146,000.

Considering that Mike Williams has previously pledged that he would not take special interest money, while his opponent has raised nearly $150,000, most of it from private contributions, how will that impact this race?

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The Pennsylvania strategy

Barack Obama is gaining ground in Pennsylvania-Hillary Clinton's lead is down to six points:

Two weeks before the Keystone State primary, the Quinnipiac University poll
shows Hillary Rodham Clinton still out front among Democratic voters there.
Fifty percent of those surveyed favored Clinton, while 44 percent said they were
backing Obama.

Clinton's margin in the survey has been shrinking
over the past few weeks. In mid-March she had a lead of 12 percentage points.
Last week, that had dropped to nine, and now it's six.

Because of the Democratic Party's pledged delegate allocation structure, Barack Obama does not need to win Pennsylvania at this point in the race to put the Clinton campaign on the ropes. The remainder of the primary calendar favors a slew of Obama victories, so all he needs to do is make a respectable showing and win enough pledged delegates to maintain his overall lead, and internal party pressure for Hillary to drop out in the weeks ahead will likely mount. A six-to-eight percentage point spread is all that Obama's campaign would be compelled to obtain in order to accomplish that goal.

Obama is not likely to win Pennsylvania, but the closer he comes to doing so the more likely it is that Hillary's engine will just run out of steam. If Obama really can keep Hillary's margin of victory to within six points, he will maintain a sizable lead in pledged delegates, and if he can close that margin to something even closer, it will become mathematically impossible for Clinton to be nominated without superdelegates simply throwing her the nomination. If that is how Hillary Clinton is nominated, she will lose the General Election in a rout that could pay dividends to the Republicans in Congress.

My hunch is that the Democrats' internal party brass (most of whom support Clinton) are calculating that scenario, and will flatly tell her that she must drop out or risk getting the minimum of their partisan support-they'll shift their efforts under those circumstances to maintaining their majority in the House and Senate.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Not the way I'd want to win

The Democratic Party, despite public claims by its leadership of a desire on the part of their base voters to unite and sing Kumbuya, appears to be bitterly divided on the basis of race:

Add this to the divisive debate over race in the presidential campaign: Whites who said race was important in picking their candidate have been about twice as likely to back Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as Sen. Barack Obama.

Exit polls of voters in Democratic primaries also show that whites who considered the contender’s race — Clinton is white, Obama is black — were three times likelier to say they would only be satisfied with Clinton as the nominee than if Obama were chosen.

The Democratic Party loves to publicly make the claim that it has moved beyond race, that it is the champion of social equality. Its leaders may talk the talk-and a few of them may actually believe the public rhetoric-but Democratic voters are far from this notion of socio-political nirvana championed by the national party. Race is the monster in the closet of the Democratic Party, because the Democrats have spent the last 50 years (and in some cases much longer) creating constituencies based on race, and targeting demographic groups based almost solely on race and ethnicity. These same people express shock and dismay when the groups that they have politically played the game of isolate and segregate over the years are now voting so sharply according to race in a primary where there are two candidates who happen to be people of different races.

Evidence of the Democratic race monster has already reared its disgustingly ugly head in South Carolina, where Bill Clinton pointed out that Jesse Jackson made a good showing there-clearly indicating that Barack Obama is winning his victories because of black voters-and in saying so, attempted to heap a level of discredit upon Obama's candidacy.

Many supporters of Barack Obama are making the grave mistake of believing that because Obama is doing well among college educated whites, this somehow equates to great levels of white support. Further, I've read and heard some Obama backers (by no means all, but a number of them nonetheless) subscribe to the hyper-elitist idea that whites who do not support Obama are only doing so because they are less educated and that the "intelligent" white Democrats are backing Obama. Most of the folks who have made that insinuation are college-educated white liberals-a group that tends to be notoriously elitist in the first place.

Both sides are playing the race card, but John McCain will not. Unfortunately for the country (Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives alike), the card will have been played like a fiddle by both Democrats, and the result will be a nasty election for surrogates. Because some group will feel alienated, the Republicans may likely win. As a Republican and a conservative, I can say that I'd rather win for a million other reasons than what may cause the GOP to win this year.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Democrat assumptions and misassumptions sbout the General Election

Several people that I know who have real political ground knowledge-what I would call "insider" status-have said repeatedly that they believe that Hillary Clinton will somehow hornswaggle her way to the Democratic presidential nomination. I have maintained the opposite belief, based on the notion that the longer the Democrats' internal nomination fight goes on, the more this benefits Barack Obama, because in spite of her ability to win large States, Hillary Clinton is simply unable to put Obama away. Now Obama has a pledged delegate lead that can only be overcome if Hillary wins Pennsylvania by at least a 25 point margin (not likely at this point), and carries a State that Obama was supposed to win, and do so by at least 10 points.

The reason that I believe that such a complicated formula will be necessary is because an increasing number of Democrats
do not believe that Hillary Clinton can win, and think that Republicans are voting for her in primaries because she is so unpopular (and therefore extremely beatable):

The Los Angeles Times looks at the superdelegates’ dilemma involving their own
re-election. "One blunt question underscored how much lawmakers' thinking is
shaped not just by high-minded reflection about who would make the best
president, but by the cold-eyed political assessment: What does it mean to me?
Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), a freshman from a district that President Bush won
in 2004 by 14 percentage points, asked Clinton to address concerns that in
conservative districts like his she would not be ‘helpful’ at the top of the
ticket, Pa. frosh Dem Rep.
Jason Altmire recalled. Clinton responded by pointing
to her success in GOP precincts in the New York and Arkansas primaries as
evidence that the more people know her, the more support she draws -- even from

”Republicans often seem to be rooting for Clinton because they believe she will be a bigger liability than Obama -- both in the
presidential campaign and in congressional races. That is why Altmire fears that
a Clinton nomination would energize conservatives -- not just in his district,
but nationwide -- who otherwise would be lukewarm about McCain's candidacy."

There is little question that a Clinton nomination would energize conservatives, but it would be unwise and untimely for Democrats to believe that an Obama nomination would not. Truth be told, I think that many Democrats underestimate the degree to which Barack Obama is disliked among Republicans and strongly distrusted among "traditional" Democrats. Even the most optimistic polls show that in a head-to-head matchup with John McCain nationally, Barack Obama's lead is within the margin of error, and that effectively means that it does not exist. Even if one were to take polls at face value and presume that Obama does have a slight lead over McCain (the April 2nd aggregate now shows McCain as the leader over Obama), John McCain has the advantage of not having to engage in a nomination fight at this point in the campaign with an intra-party opponent, whereas Obama must spend valuable resources trying to fend off Hillary Clinton.

It's a long time until November, and the Democratic Party has yet to start its campaign, and at this rate they may not start it until September. Meanwhile, John McCain is already touring the country and campaigning for a General Election in which he does not yet have an opponent. Under those circumstances, it will be very easy for McCain to make up any lost polling ground long before the Democrats nominate Obama, assuming the trends will dictate the nominee. With every passing day, John McCain becomes the candidate with the upper hand in this race.

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Vote for the right Mike

Still wonder why I support Mike Faulk for the Tennessee Senate? Hear what he said in his announcement at the Hawkins County Lincoln Day. If you don't support Mike, I think you ought to. And Bob Corker and I are truly coming together-imagine that.

I am proud to support Mike Faulk and to do whatever I can to get him elected.

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Kooks On the Air


A caller thinks that Chris Dodd is Joseph Stalin's grandchild, and planes didn't crash into the Pentagon on 9/11/01. How Americans' desire for instant gratification is affecting the 2008 presidential race. Thoughts of the death of actor and conservative activist Charlton Heston. David Oatney pledges to take up the cause of Grandparents' rights.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Father Corapi on freedom from sin

I love conversion stories. More accurately, I love stories about how the Holy Spirit can turn around someone's life. Some folks don't believe in the Holy Spirit, many do not believe in Christ. If you haven't heard Father John Corapi speak before-in person or on television-his life is proof that God's mercy is extended to everyone and that it doesn't matter what you've done, God stands ready to forgive you.

This is the short version-the long one is far more detailed.

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