Saturday, November 29, 2008

We Just Keep On Rolling Along

Angelia has some fascinating thoughts about the nature of politics and those of us who have what she calls a "love affair" with things political in spite of the realization that all of our efforts will likely not change the nature of things:

See - like most current and former newsies, I have an unhealthy love affair with politics. I don’t know why. For most, I suppose it is a relationship based on co-dependency and a deep abiding belief that we can actually “change” the nature of things.

Usually, we can’t.

As a result, we are constantly struggling to accept things as they are. You know, left is the opposite of right and politics isn’t the result of intelligent, fair-minded people becoming caught up in the desire to win or because they’re passionate about a cause. No, the truth is politics are a true reflection of the people involved. Some of those people are a few sandwiches short a picnic, some are self-righteous assholes - and none are likely to change. Therefore, we should all be laughing hysterically over this “move to the center” strategy both political parties have considered - because unless the plan is to meet in the middle for a brawl, it cannot happen.

Then she says she is taking a break from politics for awhile:

And I think when you find yourself snarling at others or feeling overly frustrated: it’s time to break-up with politics and cool your heels for awhile. Wander off, take a deep breath, marinate your thoughts in cheap domestic beer, hold out for promises of change… or at least take a few weeks to convince yourself - no really. this time will be different.

Then, you can jump back in and prepare to be disillusioned all over again. Why jump back in? Hell, I don’t know… perhaps because a few of us are convinced that disillusionment is safer than disinterest. Hey, I said it was unhealthy, didn’t I?

I share Angelia's frustration, except that this is how I felt after 2006. I seriously thought about hanging it up after a campaign that I thought was terribly bruising to heart, mind, body, and soul-and most of the people I was actively supporting two years ago won. I was complaining about how bad the climate had gotten before the election was even over. It was actually my wife, who is not a terribly political person at all, who convinced me not to do so. She said I didn't have it in me to just quit politics. Her exact words were that I am "a nerd when it comes to politics," and that I know politics better than anything else on this earth, and that as a result, if I left the scene before I was an old man in the retirement home, I would be bored to tears.

Nicole was correct.

Politics and public life are not always a clean business, and that is unfortunate, because there really are some good people out there who are in the public arena, but the best people often get no notice or plenty of scorn.

But this is a hard life and a difficult thing to stay away from, because if there weren't folks speaking out for what is right, who would speak for them?

So the good folks just keep on rolling because we enjoy politics-and because it is the right thing to do.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Camp McDaniel

One of the major issues surrounding the contest for Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee House of Representatives is party loyalty. It is important because one of the participants in that race, State Rep. Steve McDaniel, has a history of being less-than-loyal to his party when voting for leadership positions. As a member, Representative McDaniel is certainly entitled to vote how he pleases or thinks best. However, when McDaniel decides that he wants a position in the leadership of the House Majority, his record of consorting with Democrats deserves to be examined.

The World received a forwarded e-mail sent from a source who would wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The original e-mail came from Representative McDaniel and was sent to a group of citizens concerned about the closing of a Department of Corrections Boot Camp in Wayne County. I was told that this e-mail would show McDaniel to be entirely too cozy with Democrats and with Democratic candidates for anyone seeking a post of party leadership.

For the most part, I didn't find that to be the case at all. It seemed as though this was a constituent matter to which McDaniel was responding strictly in his capacity as a State Representative and that he was attending to it in the way that it seemed a lot of the people he was corresponding with would agree with-he did not want the boot camp closed, and from the tone of the note, neither did the folks he was trying to aid.

The only questionable portion was this:

I understand there is a meeting tonight at Bradley's Restaurant in Waynesboro with Randy Camp, Boot Camp employees, and others. Mr. Camp has close ties to this administration and will be an asset to those trying to find answers to our questions. Due to a previous commitment, I will be unable to attend the meeting.

Some may view referring people to Randy Camp as aiding a Democratic candidate, since Camp was running against Delores Gresham for the 26th District Senate seat left open by the retirement of former Lt. Governor John Wilder.

I do not believe much more incrimination is needed other than that Steve McDaniel voted for the income tax and for Jimmy Naifeh for Speaker of the House. We might like to find even more juicy tidbits that prove McDaniel's lack of conservatism or party loyalty to a greater degree because, as many are quick to point out, we need these Republican short-shrifters who voted for Naifeh to vote with us for House Speaker. I have no problem thowing these folks some nice meaty bones,but leadership posts should go to conservatives and to loyal Republicans who have worked for this day. Standing with the GOP through thick and thin needs to be rewarded when the political situation is truly at its thickest point for Tennessee Republicans.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mayflower Compact-1620

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.

IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

Mr. John Carver, Mr. William Bradford, Mr Edward Winslow, Mr. William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Myles Standish, John Alden, John Turner, Francis Eaton, James Chilton, John Craxton ,John Billington, Joses Fletcher, John Goodman, Mr. Samuel Fuller, Mr. Christopher Martin, Mr. William Mullins, Mr. William White, Mr. Richard Warren, John Howland, Mr. Steven Hopkins, Digery Priest, Thomas Williams, Gilbert Winslow, Edmund Margesson, Peter Brown, Richard Britteridge, George Soule, Edward Tilly, John Tilly, Francis Cooke, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Tinker, John Ridgdale, Edward Fuller, Richard Clark, Richard Gardiner, Mr. John Allerton,Thomas English, Edward Doten, Edward Liester.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bredesen's Tax Increase Proposal for Working Independent Families

Tennessee law allows for family-owned non-corporate entities to be exempt from corporate taxes on the land they owe. Governor Phil Bredesen's attitude about this speaks volumes about his opinion on the nature of government:

"It would be sinful to lay people off so these kinds of exemptions could be
preserved," Bredesen said.

The administration tried to do away with the tax break last legislative
session, but the effort ran into bipartisan opposition and was ultimately undone
because it was hard to determine how many businesses would be affected.

The governor had a more direct take on what happened to the proposal.
"It got mugged in the Legislature," he said.

Mugged? The General Assembly takes a second look at a proposal that would unfairly target thousands of Tennessee families who own small mom-and-pop businesses, and Bunker Phil says it was "mugged" because the Legislature (then controlled by Democrats) had the good sense to kindly let Bredesen know where he could put his rediculous proposal? Further, he blames the existence of this common-sense exemption for having to lay people off of the State rolls?

People are being removed from the State payroll in part because they need to be, and in an even larger part because of the Honorable Phil Governor's fiscal stupidity. The Governor was warned when he passed his precious tobacco tax increase that this and the other commodity tax increases in a year of great surplus would not help the State coffers, but might ultimately decrease them and lead to an eventual shortfall-but those of us who said this were deemed to be off of our rockers.

Remember the "trust issues" that Bredesen apparently has with House Democratic Leader Gary Odom? Apparently, these "trust issues" exist because Odom opposes this attempt to weaken family-owned business, not to mention family farms:

Bredesen's office last week announced it had developed "trust issues" with
House Majority Leader Gary Odom, a Nashville Democrat who voiced opposition to
the proposal during the session last year.

"The change in that tax policy dealing with family-owned businesses was
quite a surprise to me," Odom said, adding that he considered the proposal to be
a "significant change in tax policies."

The exemption for the 0.25 percent franchise tax on property values and 6.5 percent excise tax on income means the state is doing without $45 million it would be collecting if those businesses were not claiming an exemption.

Now we understand. The Honorable Phil Governor's "trust issues" with Gary Odom exist because Odom stood up to Bredesen and actually said what he thinks of the Governor's foolish economic policies. For once, Odom refused to embrace a policy that he knew was going to hurt Tennessee families that work for themselves and not the State.

Mark one down in the bipartisanship column. While I disagree with Odom on many issues, he has done Tennessee proud by standing for our families on the question of the Family-Owned Non-Commercial Entities exemption. For the good of our families, I hope Odom continues to stand his ground on the matter in the future.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We Showed How It's Done

There has been no small amount of chatter in both the mainstream press and the blogosphere about the strength with which the Tennessee Republican Party dominated Election Night here. Many in the press have alluded to the notion that racism played a large role in the result, one in which the Republicans gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in the lives of everyone reading this print.

Both the media and bloggers on the other side of the aisle have busied themselves with theories that are at best half-true and at most are an outright fabrication. The Republicans actively worked to gain seats in the Legislature this year, knowing that doing so meant control of the appointment of constitutional officers, and an overhaul of State Government that is long overdue. Where the national race did impact the outcome was the scope of the Republican gains. Realistically, a lot of us didn't expect to control both houses of the Legislature for another two years.

There were things which the Tennessee Republican Party did which contributed to the victory here that the national party refused to do. One was to go on the attack against Barack Obama and to link Democratic candidates to Obama. This method was unbelievably successful, and proved that there was a strong movement against Obama in the general population which the McCain campaign refused to capitalize on. Instead, McCain's campaign left many voters not merely with the impression that there wasn't much difference between McCain and Bush, but that there was little philisophical difference between McCain and Obama, so why not give the Democrat a chance?

Perhaps the most important thing which Tennessee Republicans did was to stay on message. Unlike the national campaign, Republicans here did not attempt to change their tune in order to compensate for an unpopular Republican administration or the rotten economic times in which the country finds itself. Lower taxes, regulatory relief, and less government intervention remained the answer to the economic crisis. At the national level, John McCain was supporting bailouts of hundreds of billions of dollars for banks and investment houses which have behaved irresponsibly, as did his Democratic opponent. Those of us who are politically nuanced might see some difference between McCain and Obama on the implementation phase, but the average voter wouldn't see much difference at all.

John McCain paid lip service to the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, but one could tell that he was uncomfortable dealing with social issues. The Vice Presidential candidate that he chose largely to appease the party's social right was muzzled, and it was after the election that people really began to get a taste of the reality that she wasn't just a dumb Alaska hick-an impression the media fostered and the McCain campaign allowed to remain in place without much of a fight. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Republicans didn't run from the social issues, but ran on them, touting the pro-life cause as a reason to put them in the majority, and reminding voters of the success with the marriage amendment to the Tennessee Constitution two years earlier. Tennessee Republicans did not make social issues the center of their campaign, but they didn't need to, since the GOP in the Volunteer State made it abundantly clear where the party stood on the culture war with little room to move.

The results? A Republican legislative majority for the first time since Reconstruction, a 21-point landslide for a less-than-popular Republican presidential candidate in a year when the sitting Republican administration is unpopular even in Tennessee, and the re-election of a center-right Republican Senator (and former Governor) with massive numbers, and 21 percent of the African-American vote.

Tennessee Republicans showed the rest of the country what Republicans need to do to win elections.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Silence Is Golden

Knoxville News-Sentinel political and blog reporter Michael Silence took it upon himself to personally insult yours truly in print this week. After pondering the matter at no small amount of depth, I have decided that I simply cannot be angry with Silence. After all, this is a man who I once praised to Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower and most of the House Republican Caucus as "the best political reporter in the State," despite the fact that I frequently disagreed with his angle.

So rather than be angry, I'd like to personally thank Silence. Because he has run this column which twisted my intent, if not my words, I am quite sure that traffic on this weblog will increase. I am also certain that this latest salvo into the realm of personal character assassination may be some small attempt to increase the ever-lagging readership of the News-Sentinel, which is mercifully losing ground to the blogosphere on a daily basis. Hence, I really can't blame the man for trying to save his job, since anyone who has read my work with regularity knows that despite my criticism of certain newspapers, I have always had a fondness for what Jack Lail calls "newspapering."

Further, I can't help but wonder if this week's Silence column may be the result of some temporary dysfunction of Michael's otherwise-capable cranium. As Rob Huddleston points out, Silence is known to have these airy removals from reality from time to time, such as when he predicted that Barack Obama was going to carry Knox County (not even close).

No one has to agree with what I write in order for me to befriend them, so it might shock Silence to know that I even have friends who are Democrats, and some of those voted for Obama.

Oh well, at least Silence is a Cubs fan-unless he also abandoned the Blue in another temporary cranial dysfunction.

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The Almost Speaker and the Maybe Pro Tem

On Friday, I bemoaned the notion that there may be or have been some kind of backroom deal between certain Tennessee House Republican Leaders and Steve McDaniel, the perceived lackey for current Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh who is standing for Speaker Pro Tempore under the new Republican regime. The deal in question being that McDaniel "gets" the Speaker Pro Tempore position, a leadership role chosen by the Republican Caucus and ultimately by a procedural vote on the House floor. In return, McDaniel supports House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower for Speaker.

Mumpower has repeatedly denied that such a deal ever existed, despite rumors to the contrary. If Jason Mumpower were talking to me personally, he might say that rumors are often just that, and are a dime a dozen in the political world. Beneath every rumor there is a grain of truth, and if I may be permitted the luxury of speculation, I suspect the truth might be that perhaps Mumpower believed McDaniel would be the only candidate for Speaker Pro Tem-that no one else would stand, and simply said to McDaniel "hey, if you do become Speaker Pro Tem, bring the other boys along, won't you?"

Word came to me yesterday via Frank Niceley that Mumpower called him over the weekend. While Frank was careful not to devulge all of the details of their conversation, Mumpower apparently told Frank that he was pleased to see Frank run, and that he wished Frank well in the contest for Speaker Pro Tem. I think it is very good that Jason called Frank, because for awhile I was getting the impression that things were quite chilly-Frank had talked to everyone and their mother but Mumpower, and this is the kind of situation where the Leader ought to be the one to call the candidate. That formality was thankfully broached over the weekend, and the signal seems to be coming from the Speaker-designate that he is fully prepared to work with Speaker Pro Tempore Frank Niceley if the situation hopefully arises.

What other signal might Mumpower's call send? Perhaps Frank Niceley has a better chance to win than the press is giving him.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feast of Christ the King

In honor of the feast of Jesus Christ the King, we present a great hymn of praise-Rejoice the Lord Is King.

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