Saturday, January 03, 2009


Maybe it is just me, but when a team goes 13-0, and clearly proves that they are capable of defeating any team in the country, they are the ones who deserve to be playing for a national title, if not to be called National Champions outright.

Oh, I forgot...we have the BCS, which prevents such exercises in sporting fairness.


Friday, January 02, 2009

A Trillion Here, A Trillion There

On the second day of the year, we learn that at least five Democratic Governors are pushing for their own version of an economic stimulus package-worth a whopping $1 trillion:

Five Democratic governors today urged President-elect
Barack Obama and the incoming Congress to pass a broad, $1 trillion economic
stimulus package, placing particular emphasis on an item that hasn't been
discussed much before - education aid to the states.

Governors have been most vocal about pushing for help
in repairing and building infrastructure and boosting the federal share of
funding for Medicaid, a government health insurance program for the

There was, of course, no discussion whatsoever about how the Democrats intend to pay for all of this new speding. The standard reply is that they intend to raise taxes on "the rich." There are, of course, not nearly enough rich people in America to fund the entire federal budget, which is what the incoming Obama administration would seemingly have us all believe. Unless, of course, the President-elect defines "rich" as "all those who earn a living."

Because of increasing pressure from inside his own party, I fully expect Barack Obama to give an address to the nation within three months of being sworn in declaring that he will be unable to deliver on his promised middle class tax cuts. In response, expect the markets to tank even further in the new year.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day

Bono and U2 sing in the New Year with a song that was inspired by the Solidarity Movement as a reminder of the meaning of freedom.

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Ringing In the New Year In the Obamunist Era

Did anyone happen to see the CNN New Year's coverage overnight with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin?

The highlights included:

* A drag queen being lowered in a giant shoe in Key West.

* Coolio scoping the back of CNN's Las Vegas correspondent while she was still reporting.

* A heavy metal band on stage in Dayton whose lead singer felt lead to ask, on international television, "what the f--k's goin' on, Dayton, Ohio," before beginning a performance of inaudible screetching. (This must be current Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin's idea of family entertainment.)

* Kathy Griffin discussing private parts of the male anatomy.

The Democrats aren't even in the White House yet, and the social and cultural Filth already think themselves licensed to flaunt their lack of couthe for the whole world to see, as if to say "we have now become the United States of Amsterdam."

I laughed through much of it, but wondered if I should cry.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph-God forgive us, for what have we done to our country?

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feast of the Mother of God

Catholic readers should be reminded that tonight, January 31st is the Vigil and tomorrow, January 1st, the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for the Eighth Day of Christmas.

For reasons that should be obvious to nearly everyone, the New Year's Eve Vigil is generally the most popular Mass for this day of precept, largely because attending it will not interfere with any partygoing, carousing, or Bowl Games scheduled in the next 24 hours.

Find a Mass time in your area.

Perhaps my fondest memory of this feast was when I attended Mass in Columbus, Ohio at the cathedral there with my friend Chad Monnin on January 31, 1999. The liturgy was 'specially scheduled to coincide with the turn of the millennium, and the Jubilee door was opened there that night. While Chad will recall that we did have plenty to drink later on that night (the effects of which I am sure he will be pleased to remind me of), we prayed the new millenium in while others were already too intoxicated to recall what they were doing.

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Lifelesstime Kia and the Tale of the Bailout

Lifetime Kia of Morristown, the South's largest Kia dealership, announced yesterday that they were ceasing operations, effective immediately. Not only did the announcement leave about 50 local folks without a job, but it effectively voided the lifetime powertrain warranty and lifetime oil change agreements that the dealership made with everyone who bought an automobile at the massive showroom sans community center (complete with movie theater).

One really can't blame the folks who run the dealership if what Lifetime Kia CEO George Edrington told the Morristown Citizen Tribune is true-and I think it very likely reflects reality:

“The banks have withdrawn consumer lending,” he said. “We’re in the car business, and when consumers can’t buy cars, we’re out of business. I’ve talked to bank executives who admit they have received millions of dollars from the federal governments but they will not loan it — they are saving it to cover future losses. They are under no restrictions from the government. They were handed the money with no strings attached.

“The government did nothing to help the main street guys.”

Edrington had cautionary words for the economic future of the region. “We’re not going to be the only ones affected by this in 2009,” he said. “Unless we can get some help for main street."

“I’ve been in the business for 30 years. I’ve been through three recessions, and I’ve seen nothing this critical. They kept lending money in the previous recessions – now
they’re not even lending money. (When faced with this kind of situation), the
consumer is going to foreclose on his house, let his car go back and go upside
down on his credit cards.”

Among the many problems with the bailout of our banking system is that the federal Treasury has effectively handed American banks billions of dollars to loan, thereby stimulating the economy, but did not place a restriction on when, how, or for what purposes this money was to be loaned. The banks cannot be blamed for doing what they should have been doing all along, but failed to do-lend with caution and prudence the way that banks did years ago. Because banks discovered fiscal responsibility entirely too late to avert what amounts to a small-scale economic collapse, their refusal to lend money to everyone and the neighbor's dog could shut down many businesses dependent on lending and bring our rediculous spendthrift economy to a halt.

One wants to believe that things will get better, and eventually I am sure that they will, we just don't know when this turn toward improvement will truely begin.

Poor old 2008. We should all be glad of its final departure, were it not for the reality that 2009 is not likely to be terribly much better.

But we shall pray for it...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Politics of the Treasurer's Race

One of the realities that is coming to the fore in the Tennessee State Treasurer's contest is that there is a very clear and discernible "Anybody But Brody" movement developing among Republicans in the General Assembly. This bodes well for anyone who is in the race except Ira Brody, and it re-enforces the reality that Leadership has a one vote majority in the House, and must do the everyday things (such as selecting Constitutional Officers) right or the GOP may not remain in the majority long enough to redraw legislative district lines after the 2010 U.S. Census.

Truthfully, I've known from the beginning that my friend Vance Cheek Jr. was a longshot to be elected Treasurer by the General Assembly, and he remains so. Some legislators, such as Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) have come out quite publicly to me and others and professed their public support for David Lillard, while some East Tennessee members have quietly and anonymously informed The World that Lillard is now seen as the frontrunner among the anti-Brody faction within the GOP in the General Assembly.

If all of that is true, it may mean that even in the caucus meeting meant to narrow the field, no one will be nominated by the Republicans on the first ballot, since Ira Brody will still have his group of supporters, many of which are members of the GOP Leadership who have been less-than-clandestinely pushing Brody from the beginning, while David Lillard will have many of the West Tennessee Republicans in his corner with Vance Cheek pulling up enough votes from East Tennessee to stay alive.

The big question will be whether Dale Sims will run for Treasurer again, and if he chooses not to, who will the Democrats put up in his place, if anyone? If Sims were to decide not to stand, and Democrats cast their votes from among the Republican choices, there will be a real competition to get Democratic votes to insure a majority.

What, if anything, would the winner have to promise under such a scenario, and who benefits immediately if Sims decides not to run again?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Spill

Several readers have wondered why I have not said anything up to this point about the dreadful coal ash spill near Harriman and Kingston that, contrary to the assertions of TVA and so-called experts, threatens a large portion of the State's drinking water supply if not certainly and absolutely contained. Everyone, it seems, is covering this story and the meeting yesterday with the President of the Tennessee Valley Authority that occurred as a result of the initial spill of coal ash from the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant.

As Nicole often points out, when East Tennessee makes the national news, it is rarely because of anything good, even though much good occurs here every day. To believe some of the local press, the residents are over-reacting...I do not believe that to be the case. The fish kill as a result of this spill has been massive, and the people are frightened:

Officials say the film is due to cenospheres - small, waterproof balls of
material used as fillers in such products as paint and concrete - that crews
continue to skim from the surface. The agency says the material that resulted
from the spill won't cause ecological damage but can irritate the eyes or the

"We're worried about our health," said Tom Vereb, another resident. "It's
already starting to smell out here. When it gets hot and starts to dry, this
stuff's going to turn into powder. We'll probably never go swimming in that
water again.

I do not blame the residents in the least for being upset and concerned about both their long-term health and their future, and I further think that TVA is not being completely truthful with residents about the nature and long-term effects of the spill. I would not drink the water nor fish it were I in this situation.

Typically, however, the inevitable Greek Chorus has sprung up to declare that the spill is the fault of the Republicans, George W. Bush, conservatism, and that the root cause of the spill eminates only from the last eight years (were the outgoing administration a Democratic one, similar cries would be heard from conservatives and Republicans. Similarly, calls from the President-Elect and his Democratic colleagues to bankrupt the coal industry would destroy a large swath of the economy of Appalachia and would be helpful only if Barack Obama is willing to replace coal energy technology with nuclear power, and I am not holding my breath for that to happen.

The reality is that the Harriman sledge spill is but the latest chapter in a long history of selective federal neglect of East Tennessee, especiallly where TVA is concerned-people often forget that TVA is a federal agency. Yes, TVA brought electric power to these mountains, but only took care to see to the impact on both the land and the people when it impacted TVA's mission. This neglect predates the present administration by many years and even decades, and must be addressed, because it is not merely an issue with TVA, but one of every federal agency who has operated or is operating in this State: How careful are they with our collective resources, time, and treasure? It is a fair question that must be addressed with great care if long-term solutions are to be found that will prevent similar disasters at the hands of public agencies.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas

Most people are familiar with The Twelve Days of Christmas, but are not aware, as some others have also pointed out, that the song was originally written as a secret children's catechism during a time of great persecution for the Catholic Church in the British Isles:

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.


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