Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long Live the Iron Lady

With an election in Britain forthcoming in Britain on May 6, I thought it was time for a bit of nostalgia for my favorite woman leader. I wish in our own country the men had as much in the way of fortitude as Margaret Thatcher did in her great last stand.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Going To the Fair

May primaries in East Tennessee have been raucous, and now voter fatigue seems to be setting in:

For the candidates who were running for office on the May ballot, however, I fear the event didn't amount to the kind of exposure they might like. In the 2 1/2 hours I was at the candidate fair, I believe I saw about ten members of the public who were not affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce or part of the campaign help or family of other candidates. Many of the candidates (myself and my opponent included) were strolling the room circulating ourselves among the other candidates and their supporters. I talked to a lot of the members of Building a Better Future and the Chamber of Commerce-who it should be pointed out did an excellent job with the organizational details of the event-but spoke with few members of the public who had come out just for the sake of visiting with different people on the ballot.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Uncommon Cause

Common Cause is a Democratic tool:

So Common Cause doesn't like what they now deem to be the "codifying" of the "political firing of election administrators." I might be inclined to place some stock in Common Cause's argument if Common Cause had raised such a fuss about partisan discrimination when the Democratic administrators they are presently advocating for were originally hired by Democratic-controlled county election commissions, made so in the days when the Democrats were the majority party.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

History Repeating Itself

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is following a historical pattern:

Tennesseans have a recent history of electing and then re-electing popular Governors who then quite literally stick it to the electorate when they are lame ducks in their second terms. Ned McWherter did it, and left office replaced by a popular and supposedly conservative Republican, Don Sundquist. Sundquist really pushed for an income tax in his second term, and it was during Sundquist's administration that Tennessee has come the closest in modern times to enacting an income tax.

Now Phil Bredesen wants to enact a total tax increas of over $85 million, but he doesn't have to answer for it in November. It seems that he is following a bipartisan historical pattern.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Calling a Tax Hike Something Else

The Governor can make politically stupid choices now, he isn't up for re-election:

Let us be honest and straightforward about what the Governor is proposing. He may disguise this manuver all he likes, but lifting the sales tax cap is in fact a tax hike. The Governor wants the sales tax cap to be lifted so that he will not only be able to avoid giving State employees a pay cut, but will be able to continue those employees' regular bonuses. Meanwhile, many Tennessee small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. The proposed tax increase would impair their ability to purchase equipment-some family businesses might even have to choose between buying necessities and hiring employees.

The real problem with the Governor's tax increase proposal is that he is proposing to raise taxes and avoid a five percent pay cut for State employees. As I said in a previous column about this matter, no one wants to tell your employees you need to cut their pay. The reality which the State must acknowledge is that the majority of Tennesseans don't work for the State, and many private sector Tennesseans trying to scrape by in this depression have seen their hours or their pay cut (or both). Some have lost the benefit of paid holidays-something many took for granted in recent times-while others have lost some or all of their regular paid vacation.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Fall Guy In the First

Democrats have decided to send in another fall guy in Tennessee's First Congressional District:

I suspect that Mike Clark knows the political truth, and that is that Phil Roe won the Republican Primary (and thus the election) in 2008 because he was not David Davis. In 2006, Davis won in a crowded 13-way Republican Primary by 500 votes. Not everyone running against Davis that year could be classified as a true "moderate," and I would argue that most of them were not-but few of them cared much for David Davis, and all knew that Davis was beatable if the personal opposition to him united behind a single candidate-Phil Roe was that candidate. The great irony is that Phil Roe defeated David Davis in the 2008 Republican Primary by a virtually identical margin to Davis' 2006 win in a much more crowded field.

None of that is to say that Democrats who do live here don't deserve to nominate a candidate and to have someone to vote for, but even when they put forth their best effort, the futility of that effort does tend to show from time to time. The Democrats brought forth Rob Russell in 2008, and Russell clearly campaigned hard. He moved around the district, went door to door, and he had campaign help on the ground. Russell's signs were certainly all over my part of the district in eastern Jefferson County and Hamblen County, and to see that many signs for a known Democrat in any part of Jefferson County-in or out of the First District-is almost unheard of (it is more common in Hamblen County, where there are more people who identify as Democrats). Yet, at the end of the day Russell's hardest work was not enough to make a dent in the Republicans elephant-sized majority in the First District. Mike Clark's supposition that the race in the First District isn't all about money does have some truth to it, however...

Both Clark and Rob Russell (who is acting as Mike Clark's campaign treasurer) have the same problem: As Custer was up against too many Indians, they face too many Republicans.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Hard Week for the Church

It has certainly been a tough week to be a Catholic in East Tennessee. The news that a man named Warren Tucker had been abused by a priest of the Diocese of Knoxville was hard to take-let alone that we know the charges are true because the culprit admitted to the abominable deed.

What was worst of all for a great many of us is that so many of us knew the guilty priest.

Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika addresses the faithful about the scandal of abuse in the wake of revelations that Father Bill Casey sexually abused a child in the 1970's.

Father Bill Casey has routinely filled in at my parish, St. Patrick in Morristown, and everyone loved Father Casey. As often seems to be the case, no one would have ever pegged the very kindly Father Casey as an abuser. I believe that Father Casey's statement that he is truly sorry for what he has done must have merit to it, because he admitted to the truth of the allegations as soon as he was confronted with them. Knowing Casey's personal sorrow, however, does not make up for the reality that he has done irreparable harm to the victim, Mr. Tucker, and has caused scandal to those of us who have been positively impacted in any way by his ministry over the years. I can't even begin to describe the shock that I felt when I first heard the news about what Father Casey had done many years ago.

The worst harm of all, however, may come to the Catholic Church in East Tennessee. We've already witnessed a case of anti-Catholic bigotry of the most vile sort in Pigion Forge last month. When news of a terrible scandal like this comes, the bigots feel free to crawl out of the woodwork for more public Catholic-bashing festivals. Oh, the Church will survive all of this, and emerge even stronger from it, but now the truly faithful must endure a trial by fire forged by sins which they themselves did not commit.

Rather like Christ did, really.

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