Archive for December, 2003

The Search for the New UT President

Saturday, December 13th, 2003

The search for the next president of UT is on. The UT Board of Trustees will no doubt be under intense pressure to do better than their previous two picks (John Shumaker and J. Wade Gilley), and rightfully so. I sincerely hope they find a winner this time. In this search, it appears as though UT is watching it’s purse strings very closely. I’m happy about that. UT needs a good president (and one that doesn’t need a $700,000 annual salary). UT’s interim president, Joe Johnson, has done a good job, from what I’ve seen so far.

Who says Harriman sports suck? My Harriman High Blue Devils crushed Oakdale by 91 points, defeating the Eagles 107-16. Quite impressive, no? Now if we could only do something about that football team…

TennCare Troubles Continue

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

Tennessee’s Hillary-care style system known as TennCare is in serious trouble, according to Gov. Phil Bredesen. The mammoth program will bankrupt the state unless some changes are made, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. You don’t say?

Was it really necessary for Gov. Bredesen to hire a consulting company to tell him this? The problems of TennCare are obvious to everyone. With nearly one-fourth of Tennesseans on TennCare rolls (plus countless others illegally enrolled from other states), it should come as no surprise that the program is in danger of bankrupting the state. I’m not sure how much Bredesen paid McKinsey & Company to tell him this, but I would have done it for half price. How state money could be used to pay for this is beyond me.

What should be done about the problem? I say scrap TennCare altogether. Go back to Medicaid, like virtually every other state in the good ole U.S. of A. Why should Tennessee taxpayers have to fund this fraudulent program? Bredesen ran for governor on a pro-education platform, yet he continues to spend more and more on TennCare, while cutting higher education. Think of how much money could be freed for education of TennCare got the ax.

Are you listening, Gov. Bredesen?

Gore Endorses Dean: What Does it Mean and Good News for LTC West

Wednesday, December 10th, 2003

As I’m sure you’re well aware, former VP and presidential candidate Al Gore has announced his endorsement of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Gore’s endorsement shocked many pundits, and upset a number of Tennessee Democrats, who view Dean as too liberal to win in Tennessee.

Gore’s endorsement of Dean also solidifies Gore’s reputation as a far-left liberal, which stands in stark contrast to Gore’s early political career, when he was pro-life, pro-gun, and strong on national defense. Over the years, he drifted away from these beliefs, mostly to get ahead in Washington. This, of course, alienated many Tennesseans, who sent him a strong message in 2000. During his concession speech, Gore said he’d return to Tennessee and “mend some fences,” but apparently he’s decided it isn’t worth his effort.

In any event, Gore has now finds himself to the left of Hillary Clinton. Why has he endorsed Dean? A number of possible reasons are being batted around. First, it’s no secret that there is no love between Gore and the Clintons. It’s also no secret that the Clintons do not want Dean to win the Democratic nomination, because it would probably be curtains for DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton lackey. Thus the Clinton’s stranglehold on the party would be diminished. And we all know about the Clinton’s love of power. Perhaps Gore’s endorsement of Dean is the equivalent of a middle finger to his former boss?

Another theory, proposed by Bill Kristol of Weekly Standard, argues that Gore is trying to pull off something Nixon did decades ago. Nixon lost the 1960 election in much the same way Gore lost the 2000 election. In 1964 Nixon endorsed the very conservative Barry Goldwater. Though Goldwater lost the ‘64 race in a landslide, his ideals influenced the party for years to come, leading perhaps to Nixon’s election in 1968. Is Gore looking to run again in 2008? And if Dean does win, perhaps Gore is eyeing a job as Secretary of State?

In what is good news for all Americans, LTC Allen West will not face a criminal court-martial. Some of you may remember I wrote a column about this situation about a month ago. Though West may still face administrative punishment, he will not lose his pension. I would prefer him not face any punishment at all, but this is certainly a positive development.

Now I must return to studying for my last final. Oh joy!

Net Stays Unregulated and Other News

Monday, December 8th, 2003

In what has to be considered good news for anyone who values freedom, an attempt by developing countries to regulate the internet has been rejected. The idea that bureaucrats at the United Nations should be able to regulate the internet is silly enough, but the idea that authoritarian regimes like China and Vietnam should have any control is downright insane. I’m of the school of thought that the internet should stay totally unregulated, as well as untaxed, despite Lamar Alexander’s views to the contrary.

Former Vice President Al Gore will endorse Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. This endorsement comes at a key time, as Dean is leading (albeit slightly) in Iowa and South Carolina, and he enjoys a tremendous lead in New Hampshire. This is yet another major blow to Gore’s 2000 running mate, Joe Lieberman, who seems to be going nowhere fast. Can’t say I’m too disappointed. If Dean wins the bid, Bush shouldn’t have much trouble winning reelection, unless he makes the same mistake as his father and takes his election for granted…

UT Provost Loren Crabtree sent out a silly e-mail instructing us to celebrate diversity during Christmas, and informing us that proselytizing shouldn’t be occurring in the dorms. Aaron Chapman has a great entry concerning this which I agree with 100%.

Bloggers in the Knoxville area are gaining more attention in the news, as evidenced by this story in yesterday’s News-Sentinel. Blogs are the news media of the future!

This week’s edition of the Knoxville Journal (not online) has a great editorial by Phil Hamby which makes the case that Mayor-elect Bill Haslam’s shuffling of city departments is a good sign. I’m very interested to see what kind of a job Haslam does, though it’s definitely a good sign to see him getting away from Ashe’s system. Hamby also speculates about Victor Ashe’s political future. Ashe could theoretically run for mayor again in four years, which would be bad news for Knoxville. A great editorial, be sure to read it!

Finally, I’d like to recommend this column by Amir Taheri. Taheri is an expert on Iraq, and has a better understanding of the postwar situation than anyone I’ve seen.

Is the BCS in Trouble?

Sunday, December 7th, 2003

Is the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in trouble? We can only hope.

The BCS has been how the two teams who play for the national championship have been chosen since 1998, when Tennessee won the first ever BCS National Championship. That year, there were three undefeated teams going into the final week, but the BCS dodged a bullet when two of them fell victims to upsets. In the years since then, the BCS has dodged bullets several more times.

This year, the BCS may not be so lucky.

I watched in amazement as Kansas State shocked Oklahoma, and the world, with an amazing 35-7 victory over the Sooners, dropping OU to 12-1. The two other once beaten teams won today, with Southern Cal defeating Oregon State 52-28, and LSU defeating Georgia 34-13. So now you have OU and LSU at 12-1, and Southern Cal with an 11-1 record, and no undefeated teams. Which two will play in the Sugar Bowl? Kind of makes you wish Northern Illinois and TCU had been able to finish with perfect seasons. Maybe they could have played each other for the National title!

But okay kiddies, this is where it gets interesting. Three once beaten teams, only two slots for the national championship. It’s a safe bet that whoever doesn’t make the cut is going to feel screwed. And rightfully so. Will the outrage generated be enough to move the NCAA away from the current bowl system (where computers determine the national championship) and towards a playoff system (where ACTUAL GAMES determine the national championship)? We can only hope.

I’ve been a proponent of a playoff system for as long as I’ve been a football fan. I was talking to someone last night who claimed that a playoff system would mean that every game wouldn’t matter. But that’s not true. Under the current system, other than the national championship bowl, what bowl game really makes a difference? Not a single one. It doesn’t matter a bit who wins the New Orleans Bowl, the Orange Bowl, or the Toilet Bowl. So why not take 16 teams, pair them off in a playoff bracket, and let whoever wins be crowned champion. Heck, you could even incorporate existing bowls into the playoff system!

It will be very interesting to see who gets into the Sugar Bowl tomorrow, and to see the reaction of the team that doesn’t. What will be even more interesting will be to see if this will create enough controversy to fry the BCS’s computer chip permanently. Here’s hoping it is.

Struggling Through Finals

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

Finals are part of life for college students, and they are horrible. I had two today, one which was good, and one that was not so good. Tonight I visit Blue Cats for the East Tennessee Scene which should be interesting.

As for the Issues Committee controversy, which I’ve been covering extensively here, the controversy continues. My friend and colleague Adrienne Royer has this interesting column for Metro Pulse, which sums up the situation nicely.

John McGary, chairman of the UT College Republicans, wrote a scathing letter to the editor of the Daily Beacon (letter not yet online). Adam Groves has been covering the fallout over that. Sukhmani has also renounced the letter. I won’t comment on the letter at this point, except to say that the letter did not speak for any of the College Republicans other than McGary.

And in other news…

There are two things President Bush is preparing to do that make me happy. First is that he is dropping the steel tariffs, and second he wants to put a man on the moon again. Good stuff from the Prez. Now if he could only get a handle on non-defense spending.

Remember that old UT controversy? The one involving John Schumaker? It seems it just won’t die, as this article appeared in the News-Sentinel today, about Shumaker’s stint at the University of Louisville. Interesting stuff.

The latest buzz is that the UT Vols might find themselves playing in the Peach Bowl again this year, as the Capital One Bowl has struck a deal with Florida. How can they take an 8-4 UF team over a 10-2 UT team that UT beat on the road? A little thing called money. A BCS bowl for the Vols seems like a longshot. Take the “C” out of BCS and you get an accurate description of the bowl system.

Tuesday’s column, entitled “Christmas Under Attack,” is not online at the Daily Beacon’s website, so I have put it online here. I’ve received some positive feedback for it, so I am pleased.

College Republicans Meet Issues Committee Officers

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

Yesterday, the officers of the UT College Republicans (which includes yours truly) met with the officers of the UT Issues Committee in what turned out to be a much more cordial event than I expected. Dean Maxine Thompson was also present, as were Issues Committee advisor Edee Vaughan, Chancellor Tim Rogers, and CRs advisor F. Michael Combs. The event ended with everyone basically agreeing to disagree, and the Issues Committee saying they would try to do better. We shall see what happens.

In the meantime, I have two finals tomorrow, so I better get back to studying. What joy!

The Numbers Are In!

Monday, December 1st, 2003

My predictions this week went pretty well, as I went 14-6 (.700), and improved my overall record to 43-14 (.750). Not too shabby. The Tennessee/Kentucky game turned out to be a defensive struggle instead of the shootout I predicted, but UT won, which makes me happy. Still, UGA will play in the SEC Championship game, which makes me sad. I hope LSU wins. Why? Because if they do, they have a shot at playing Oklahoma for the national title, and possibly bring it home for the SEC. I’m not holding my breath, though..

Scandal Makes National News, Chair Responds to Criticism

Monday, December 1st, 2003

The scandal involving the UT Issues Committee has made it to the national news, as World Net Daily columnist Vox Day has written a column about the affair. Day pulls no punches; indeed, he calls for the firing of Deans Brown and Thompson. Pretty tough stuff from Day.

Action will hopefully be taken to address the bias nature of the Issues Committee. I was told today that Sen. Lamar Alexander may be interesting in holding a forum to discuss the problem, which would be a great idea if it happens. I’ve also been told that, according to UT President Joe Johnson, the police were not called to shut down the petition drive last week. According to an e-mail from State Rep. Chris Clem, Clem was told this by President Johnson, “Someone had reported that a dispute had arisen. The Dean of Students apparently called the police to go investigate what was going on. Once it was learned that a petition drive was being performed by the college republicans the administration allowed the protest/petition drive to continue. No arrests were made. No police report was filled out.” Rep. Clem also voiced his support for the UT College Republicans in their attempts to make the Issues Committee more fair.

Rashi Joshi, chair of the UT Issues Committee, also issued a response to the committee’s critics with this letter to the editor of the Daily Beacon. Joshi makes some interesting points, including:

“The Issues Committee is not a political organization. We are a programming council and our mission is to bring interesting and informative issues to The University of Tennessee.”

So we’re supposed to believe that it’s a huge coincidence that 99% of their speakers just happen to be liberal? And how do you explain Scott Ritter? Is he supposed to be interesting and informative?

“Secondly, we feel the political biases of individual members are irrelevant, as the members themselves are regular college students who value open-mindedness and healthy discussion. Again, we do not place emphasis on members’ political views in the member selection process – rather on their well roundedness as individuals and their ability to work hard with other students in doing research and publicizing events.”

One former committee member I spoke with said this statement was pure bull crap. Actually, he didn’t use those words, but I’ve sanitized it a bit. So asking someone what their position on “unilateral” action against Iraq is not a political question?

“As for our programming, we would like to reiterate that it is not political in nature or intent; rather, it is purely issue-based. The emphasis during the event selection process is on ensuring a balanced yet broad slate of topics and issues. The feedback the committee collects throughout the year – especially the negative – plays an important role in this process.”

Oh really? So what issue was Howard Zinn supposed to address? And if feedback really does influence you, it sure doesn’t show. I know many people who have filled out the feedback form with suggestions for conservative speakers, and it never makes any difference.

“Each topical speaker presented is given equal consideration, and the line-up is selected based on the educational value, price, and availability of the speaker.”

So why was Dr. Walter Williams, a professor of economics, turned down in favor of Dr. Drew, even though Williams was much less expensive? And who do you think is has more educational value – Dr. Williams or Dr. Drew?

“The continued success of our events – as well as the depth and intelligence of the suggestions we receive on our comment forms – lead us to believe that the student body is indeed appreciative of the good work we have done and will continue to do in the future.”

So everything is just hunky dory then, huh? If so, why even bother writing this letter? As for the student body appreciating your events, you’re no doubt correct in some cases. Tucker Carlson was standing room only, and the auditorium seemed full of actual students. Sy Hersh, on the other hand, only filled up half the auditorium, and there seemed to be more aging hippies than students present. Are you listening, Rashi?

The officers of the College Republicans are scheduled to meet with the officers of the Issues Committee and Dean Maxine Thompson to discuss the problem. Should be interesting. Bethany Stover had this interesting encounter with the vice-chair of the Issues Committee.

And in other news….

The U.S. Supreme Court has made a big mistake by by not confirming the Second Amendment. The infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has effectively thrown out the right to gun ownership. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether the right to bear arms applies to individuals, but it’s obvious if you read the constitution and the words of the framers they certainly intended for it to. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court loses a valuable opportunity to uphold this. Until the high court rules, various lower courts will continue to rule in various ways.

And in the War on Terror… Alan Caruba at Politically Right has a great column detailing why we went to war in Iraq.

President Bush’s visit to Baghdad will be one of the highlights of the year, I predict. I’m sure Hillary is none to pleased.

It’s good to see Spain has the moral fortitude to stay the course in Iraq. Frenchmen, they ain’t!

Finally, it’s good to hear that U.S. troops were able to kill 46 Iraqis who were planning to ambush them.