Saturday, March 07, 2009

Very Classic Del

Classic Del McCoury Band from 1986-this song is still a widely-played bluegrass favorite.


Friday, March 06, 2009

No Confidence


American business is showing that it has no confidence in Barack Obama as the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to fall as new details of the Obama economic stimulus plan emerge. In sponsoring bills that allow illegal aliens to get drivers' licenses, some Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly could lose the confidence of the party's conservative base.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Williams and the Caucus

After Tennessee Republican Chairman Robin Smith declared that Kent Williams was not a bona fide Republican, Williams one saving grace was that he was able to caucus with House Republicans, and that is ultimately a decision that is up to Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada and Republican Leader Jason Mumpower.

I had said in this space that the House Republican Caucus needed to make a decision about Williams' status one way or the other, because it sends a message that is inconsistent if the party organization removes Williams but the party caucus does not, and in matters of governing, the decision of the caucus, not the State Party Chairman, should be the deciding factor on Williams public partisan fate.

Jason Mumpower decided that the unity of his caucus was more important than maintaining a majority:

Mumpower said he and House Republican Chairman Glen Casada are poised to ban Williams from the caucus without a vote. "If even one member" of the House Republican Caucus opposes Williams' attendance, Williams should stay away, Mumpower said.

"If it causes dissent within the caucus, then it's best if he did not attend - and there are more than a few members who are discontent with him attending," said Mumpower.

There is a legitimate concern that Mumpower and Casada (and those members of the House Republican Caucus) have made a martyr of Williams in the eyes of his constituents by booting him from the caucus. Further, it would not be the least bit of a stretch to say that Williams has, through his committee appointments, placed Republicans and conservatives in the best position they have ever found themselves in in the Tennessee House. As a result, I am quite sure that there are a few members who do not care if he caucuses with the Republicans.

The problem with Williams being allowed to caucus with the GOP is that he has already proven on January 13th that he is willing to lie and decieve in a very public way in order to get what he wants, and he did so on that day in order to insure that he became Speaker of the House, election results and parliamentary custom be damned. Since then, he has kept his word about this even-Steven committee arrangment that he seems to like, and he has even appointed known opponents from within the Republican Caucus to chair committees and subcommittees. It will take more than a few good committee appointments to rebuild a trust that has been so sullied, however.

What is to prevent Kent Williams from taking inside baseball from the caucus chamber and spreading that information freely among the Democrats who put him into power to begin with? He has already shown he can be two-faced, so if even one member objects to his presence, his past history is the biggest reason why. Once a trust is broken, it takes longer than a few weeks to rebuild that confidence.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Would Tennesseans Lie to MTSU Student Pollsters?

Some students at Middle Tennessee State University took a poll that strikes the informed observer as unscientific:

The new poll from Middle Tennessee State University reveals residents are
worried about the economy but enjoying a brief honeymoon with their new
president. There was no such honeymoon for the Tennessee legislature, which is
registering the lowest public approval numbers it has seen since the Tennessee
Waltz corruption scandal — and apparently dragging the governor's approval
numbers down as well.

More than two-thirds of Tennessee residents polled — 70 percent — said they
had heard or read jokes about the new president's race. One out of six admitted
to cracking a racist joke themselves. Only 15 percent said they thought such
jokes were funny.

"Those results don't make a lot of sense," said MTSU Poll Director Ken
Blake. "Two-thirds of the people say they've heard these jokes, but most say
they aren't telling them and most say they don't enjoy them. Then where are the
jokes coming from?"

Humor at the expense of the President's race should not be considered acceptable comedy. With that said, I humbly propose that respondents to this poll were not being truthful in their answers. Political correctness presently dictates that any criticism of the President is to be deemed as racist. Tennesseans, being a self-conscious lot, wouldn't take it upon themselves to admit to a group of college students the negative opinions they might have of Barack Obama.

Since many people do not even pay attention to the Tennessee General Assembly, that would also bring into question the next portion of this poll.

It was a three-way split over who should be running the General Assembly — 37 percent wanted the Democrats, 33 percent want the Republicans in charge, and 30 percent were undecided.

If those numbers are in any way reliable, we are in for divided government and narrow swings in the House for many years to come. The problem, however, rests with the larger questions that were not asked at all. How much do respondents know about the General Assembly? How many know their Representative's name, or the name of the Speaker of the House? There are ways to weave those important questions into the poll and use them to tabulate the results in an intellectually honest way.

It would be interesting to see a similar poll taken by Gallup or Zogby to analyze what percentages might be similar and which numbers may be different.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bloggers and the Governors' Race

The unofficial official announcement has finally been made at the Greene County Lincoln Day that Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey will very likely throw his hat into the ring and make a run for Governor. At least one gubernatorial candidate has been kind enough to ask The World for an endorsement. Although this request was truly humbling, it can be said that Ramsey's entry into the equation changes the game significantly because it leaves little doubt where the endorsement of this weblog will fall if made official.

Perhaps the greatest concern for Ron Ramsey is the reality that many people in West Tennessee still do not know who he is and realize that he is Lt. Governor. Ramsey does not have the name recognition that John Wilder had built over years in the same position. Some of Ramsey's supporters fear that perhaps he ought to wait one more election cycle before running, so that he has time to run the Senate and build name recognition as the Republican leader of a body likely to remain in GOP hands for a long time to come. As Lieutenant Governor, Ron Ramsey isn't going anywhere.

Despite concerns over name recognition, Ramsey is the one candidate in the field with the conservative record and credentials that Tennessee needs to counter the onslaught of federal encroachment with which Tennesseans' liberties now appear to be threatened. Further, on a personal note, I actually trust that Ron Ramsey will be a good Governor if elected, and that is something I cannot yet say about the rest of the field.

One thing that Ramsey's campaign team need to remember is that if they are going to try to work with conservative bloggers, not all endorsements mean that a blogger is simply going to shill for you on their blog without any critical analysis if they see something wrong with the campaign. Former Congressman David Davis made the mistake of thinking that my support and others meant that I wasn't going to say anything when I saw the campaign going to pot.


My endorsements are loud, proud, and full-throated, but an endorsement doesn't make me anyone's puppet, and I would say that the same is true for most good political bloggers on both sides of the aisle. I hope that Governor Ramsey's impending campaign team chooses both to work with bloggers who are of like mind and to learn how the medium can work for the Republican Party in the future. Everyone needs to remember, however, that those who strive to do this right are not in it to make their favorite politicians happy, but to tell the truth as they see it.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Free My Merlot

Once again, legislation to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores has been filed in both Houses of the Tennessee General Assembly (HB 1157/SB 0121), and the same tired old objections are repeating themselves like a broken record-or a scratched CD, for those of you too young to own any records.

It will increase the levels of teen drinking in Tennessee, we ar
e told. On a daily basis, I'm around a good many teenagers through our fire cadet program here in White Pine. Those who are going to drink are (unfortunately) already doing so despite the laws that we have, because they get their alcohol from those who are of age who funnel it to them. Youngsters who are not predisposed to drink underage are less likely to do it with any regularity, and those opposed to the sale of wine in grocery stores know that the store clerk has the same weapon that the liquor store manager has to fight underage sale and consumption-a simple "can I see some ID please," and if you think that is too much trouble, grocery stores already do that with tobacco products.

Opposition to the sale of wine in grocery stores is really about stifling competition. The chief lobbying effort against this bill is from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retail Association. These groups are no more or less interested in stopping underage drinking than anyone who sells alcohol, because as with any retailer, they wouldn't want to lose their license to sell or do business. The real reason that the liquor lobby is so adamantly opposed to the sale of wine in grocery stores is because the liquor stores would have competition, and would be forced to expand selection and lower prices. Capitalism is so terrible, isn't it?

Mom and Pop package stores will be driven out of business, so the liquor lobby says. Yet they fail to explain how that hasn't happened in Kentucky, Missouri, or other nearby States that allow wine in grocery stores. As was explained in this space in November, the forces arrayed against this legislation simply aren't telling the whole truth about what this bill will and will not mean to their business.

This isn't a matter of saving Mom and Pop or stopping underage consumption, but the issue at hand is one of consumer choice for Tennesseans.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Paul Harvey 1918-2009

I grew up listening to Paul Harvey. In our family, Paul Harvey was a tradition, and a daily ritual. You knew what time The Rest of the Story came on the air, and you just tuned in.

The radio is a poorer medium without Paul Harvey in it, I only wish that the next generation could appreciate him as much as I did.


Stations of the Cross

During Lent, there will be periodic postings of the Stations of the Cross in this space on weekends, with an opportunity for occasional reflections. You can pray the Stations privately here even if you can't make the Stations at your local church this week.

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