Archive for January, 2004

My Latest Column

Friday, January 16th, 2004

My first column of the semester ran yesterday in the Beacon. My friend and fellow columnist Sukhmani Singh Khalsa told me it was the best column I’ve ever written, so I’m pretty proud of that. Also, my column will now run every Thursday.

Adam Groves points out that President Bush took criticism from both the left (Le Evans) and the right (me). That’s true, but I’m sure you can all guess which one of us will be voting for Bush in November.

Braun Drops Out

Thursday, January 15th, 2004

Maybe Carol Moseley Braun read my last blog entry, and realized I was right. She has decided to drop out of the race. Braun will endorse Dean. Braun had been endorsed by NOW, but it failed to do her much good. If Dean does win the nomination, don’t be surprised if you see a Dean/Braun ticket. You heard it here first.

Handicapping the Democratic Primary

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

Since the Iowa Caucus is going to be held next Tuesday (and may eliminate some candidates), I thought it would be interesting to examine the field of candidates. This is an interesting group, to say the least.

Howard Dean – The former Vermont Governor has come out of nowhere to lead the pack. Say what you will about his contradictions, his anger, and his general stupidity, it is impressive that a little known governor from a state no one has ever heard of is leading the field. Dean has attracted the far-left with his anti-war, anti-Bush rhetoric. He’s also made a number of verbal gaffes, including his Confederate flag comment (which alienated both African-Americans and white Southerners) and his Road to Damascus-style “conversion.” The fact that he governed Vermont largely as a centrist (at least by New England standards) and earned an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association no longer matters, as Dean has made him the most liberal front-runner in the pack. He has led Iowa from a while, though his support is down a little now. He still enjoys a double digit lead in New Hampshire, but he is losing ground there as well. It seems the media, which was largely behind in the beginning, has also turned on him. Still, he does remain the favorite to win both primaries, and if he does, it could be over for everyone else. The endorsements of Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and Tom Harkin help, but not all that much. I personally don’t think that Dean has it in the bag, though I still think he is the most likely candidate to win.

General Wesley Clark – The former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO waits in the wings to emerge as the front-runner should Dean stumble. Clark has the support, at least behind the scenes, of the Clintons. Should Bill or Hillary endorse Clark, he could jump. Unfortunately, like Dean, Clark has had his share of gaffes, including his initial support of war in Iraq, which he has since reversed. Videos of him praising the Bush administration have also hurt him, and videos such as these will probably continue to come out, if he wins the nomination. His strongest credential is his military record, of course, but his weakest is his knack for making contradictory statements. If he doesn’t win the nomination, he could find a spot as the VP on the ticket, if he wants it.

Rep. Richard Gephardt – Iowa is a must win for the Missouri congressman and former House Minority Leader. Gephardt has lost some of his union support to Dean, but is still in a statistical dead heat with the former Vermont governor. Gephardt is running as a hawkish Iraqi war supporter and an opponent of NAFTA. His economic policies are insane. If Gephardt wins Iowa, he will be the “anti-Dean” candidate, and stand a decent shot of winning the nomination. If he loses Iowa, he’s done.

John F. Kerry – When the Massachusetts junior Senator declared his candidacy, he was immediately viewed as the front-runner by many. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the Kerry campaign, at least until this point. Kerry voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution, but has since been trying to convince everyone he didn’t really mean it. Of the candidates on the ballot, he’s the one I respect the least because of his waffling and his ability to map out every possible position on the war. He’s surging in Iowa, but if he goes 0 for 2 in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s finished. I predict that will happen.

Joseph Lieberman – My personal favorite. The Connecticut Senator is a centrist and has a long history of being tough on national defense. He was only a hair away from becoming vice-president, but stands little to no chance of winning the nomination.

John Edwards – The North Carolina senator stood a good chance of being defeated defending his senate seat this year, so he might as well run for president. A lawyer by trade, some thought he might emerge as the next Bill Clinton. It didn’t happen. Stands no chance.

Rev. Al Sharpton – Rev. Sharpton has no chance of winning, but does add humor to the race. Republicans had hoped that Sharpton could draw the Democrats into a debate over issues such as reparations for slavery, and cut deeply into the African-American vote. That hasn’t happened. Sharpton is finished.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich – Contrary to popular belief, Howard Dean is not the kookiest candidate. That dubious honor goes to Kucinich. Kucinich is a socialist, a projectionist, and a pro-lifer who had a “change of heart” when he declared his candidacy for president. He’s been endorsed by such luminaries as the US Marijuana Party and Willie Nelson. Kucinich is most well know for his win a date with Kucinich promotion. Stands no chance.

and finally….

Carol Mosely-Braun – What can you say? No chance, whatsoever.

Two News Bites

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

I just wanted to add two news items I found interesting….

Here is some good news for UT. More accountability is always a good thing. I hope this has the desired effect of preventing another Schumaker.

I bet Rush Limbaugh never thought he’d be getting support from these guys. Talk about your “hell freezes over” moments…

Shooting Club @ UT

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

My good buddy Nathan Fortner is starting a shooting club here at UT. Anyone interesting in joining should definately head over to Nathan’s blog!

Back in the Swing at UT

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

Though classes officially began yesterday, today was my first day of classes due to the incredible luck of not having any Monday or Friday classes this semester. Having four day weekends (from school, at least) every week is definitely going to be fun.

There are some interesting developments at UT…

First of all, it seems that the UT Issues Committee may be getting its act together. This semester, both Daniel Flynn and Victor Davis Hanson will be giving lectures at UT this spring. Flynn is a former Marine, and author of Why the Left Hates America. He lectures at universities across the country and has frequently been shouting down by leftists. Hanson is a prominent conservative military historian who frequently contributes to National Review. Both these men should provide fascination lectures. In addition, the committee will also host a debate on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. As someone who was critical of the Issue Committee last year, I must give them credit for their efforts. Hopefully these efforts will be continued.

New Daily Beacon columnist Brooks Brown has this interesting column about Senator Lamar Alexander.

In other news, the State Legislature is back in session. I know I’ve said this a zillion times, but here’s hoping we see some massive cuts to TennCare and TDOT.

Bush visits Knoxville and Immigration

Thursday, January 8th, 2004

President Bush visited Knoxville today for a fundraiser, which was very successful, according to the News-Sentinel and Adam Groves. Thankfully, Knoxville strongly remains a Bush Country.

Not everyone was happy about Bush’s visit, as the usual left wing goofballs were there to protest, and are whining as usual about Bush “squelching dissent.” How original. I’m sorry kiddies, but the security of the president must be protected. There is no stronger supporter of the First Ammendment than me, and I would never question these protester’s right to protest. However, if they really think that not allowing them near the president is a violation of their free speech, they need to go back to school (preferably not a public school).

Several of the protesters are complaining that Bush isn’t listening to them. Well, if that’s the case, and if their movement is more than a fringe group, they should be thrilled. Any president who doesn’t listen to the American people during an election year is very much in danger of being defeated in the election. Of course, these protesters probably are only a fringe group, but if they doubt they are being heard then they are crazy. After all, practically every newspaper in the country has covered their efforts.

While on the topic of Bush, his immigration policy deserves protest. Rewarding those who come here illegally gives the wrong incentive. I am a huge supporter of legal immigration. But why should someone come here legally and go through all the paperwork and wait in line when they can just walk across the border and avoid the hassle. Coming here legally is not easy. I know, two of my best friends immigrated here from Albania, and have had to deal with the headache that is the INS. What are they to think while waiting in line and dealing with incompetent government agencies when they see those who sneak across the border get a free ride?

There is another argument for illegals, which says they take jobs that Americans won’t take. In my opinion, this provides a great argument for scrapping the welfare state. If Americans couldn’t get welfare (or, at least, had to work for it), they would be much more willing to take these jobs.

Unfortunately, pandering for votes has become more important than following the law and protecting national security. Hopefully, this bill will never make it through Congress.

Bredesen and TennCare

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

Governor Phil Bredesen is proposing some cuts to services provided by TennCare. I can only consider this a positive development, as the behemoth that is TennCare is out of control and threatens to bankrupt the state. Kudos to Bredesen for confronting the problem.

On the other hand, the governor does not go far enough. I personally think TennCare should be canned permanetly, because it is far too large and irresponsible. Why can’t the poor and uninsured in Tennessee simply get Medicaid, like the citizens of almost every other state? Gov. Bredesen has no intention of scrapping TennCare. Indeed, he even said, “My personal ideology is that we need to keep as many people on the rolls as possible.” Excuse me, Governor, but isn’t this what got TennCare in trouble to begin with?

Something else Bredesen said that caught by attention was this: “I believe that health care for the poor, for people who don’t have it is an obligation of government.” Obviously, the Founding Fathers would disagree with this idea. Where does the constitution say this? It appears that Bredsen’s liberal roots are showing here. This idea would win him much support among the likes of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean, but it’s hard to imagine Jefferson or Madison saying such a thing. The governor needs to read the constitution again.

This whole TennCare episode is symptomatic of a welfare state gone out of control. Star Parker makes a provocative (though largely accurate) argument that the welfare state has created a modern day slave system in her new book, Uncle Sam’s Plantation. Adam Groves also made a similar argument.

Can this addiction to government handouts be broken? It will be difficult, but it can be done. But it will take strong leadership that, at least so far, Bredesen has not provided.

The Bowl Picks are in

Monday, January 5th, 2004

My win/loss record on football predictions suffered during the bowl season as I only went 18-10 (.64), though it was still enough to handily beat Bethany Stover, who finished 15-13 (.54). My final record for the season is 61-24 (.72), which I don’t think is too shabby.

I would like to congratulate the LSU Tigers and the USC Trojans for their co-national championship. In my predictions, I billed the Sugar Bowl as the “Fraudulent National Championship.” I didn’t mean this to denigrate LSU, who deserves a share of the title, but to criticize the system, which simply doesn’t work. We need playoffs. But, given the situation, both LSU and USC deserve the national championship. It’s a shame that they couldn’t have played each other in the Sugar Bowl, instead of it being LSU versus “the greatest college football team in history” Oklahoma, but what can you do?

I also should comment on my Tennessee Volunteers. I must admit that they had me fooled. I actually believed they were screwed by not being invited to a BCS bowl. Their 27-14 loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl proved they didn’t even deserve to be there. Philip Fulmer recently got another pay raise, putting his salary at $1.7 million. That seems like a lot of money to pay a guy who takes his team to the Peach Bowl every year only to be embarrassed by the likes of Clemson and Maryland. But I’m only a fan.

There IS Hope For France!

Saturday, January 3rd, 2004

I never thought I would be writing a defense of France, but such is the case.

I recently finished reading Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel, a famous intellectual from Paris. Mr. Revel has written a number of bestsellers during the past three decades, including Without Marx or Jesus, probably his most well known work. Many of his books, like Anti-Americanism, are defenses of America. Anti-Americanism was originally published in France as L’obsession anti-americainé,: Son fonctionnement, ses causes, ses inconsequences, and was translated into English and released in America by Encounter Books.

As a Frenchman who has traveled extensively in the United States, Revel is in a unique position to understand the anti-American phenomena, and does an outstanding job articulating the reasons behind it, as well as provide rebuttals to its purveyors. Revel has a biting wit which comes through well in the translation. Some of his quips had be laughing out loud. The humor is not overdone though, and never does Revel lose sight of his goal of proving the rationale behind anti-Americanism to be fallacious.

Fair and honest critiques of America and her policies are in the best interests of both America and Europe because they allow a self-examination of America and its policies. Unfortunately, as Revel points out, fair and honest critiques are rarely found outside of the United States. In Europe, as well as in much of the world, critiques have given way to only vitriol and hatred of America. Some examples Revel cites are the denial that the attacks of September 11, 2001 even occurred (a best seller in France makes such an argument), a theologian from Brazil who wished that twenty-five planes had crashed into the Pentagon, and those who argue that America is not a democratic country (often these arguments come from nations in Africa and Latin America, who are obviously well versed in democracy).

Another argument that Revel makes is that the United States is in a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t don’t” situation: If America takes any foreign policy action, it is accused of being “unilateralism,” while if America does not act, it is criticized for its “isolationist” tendencies. Thus America is simultaneously condemned for being both unilateralist and isolationist. Furthermore, as Revel points out, America’s unilateralist tendencies are largely the fault of Europe. When only confronted with hatred and criticism when consulting with Europe, who can blame America for going it alone? And when Europe refuses to help, does America have any choice?

Jean-Francois Revel is not the only person in France leading the charge for common sense. Twenty-two year old Sabine Herold is the charismatic and beautiful leader of Liberté, J’ecris Ton Nom (Freedom, I Write Your Name), a libertarian style, pro-market, pro-liberty, and pro-America group, which is strong among the youth in France. There is a great article about Miss Herold in Reason Magazine. Herold has protested against striking labor unions who are damaging France’s economy with their constant, selfish strikes, as well as led pro-Iraq war demonstrations in front of the American embassy. She is a student of F.A. Hayek, and does not hesitate to denounce communists as “disgusting.” Could she be France’s Margaret Thatcher someday?

Revel and Herold represent some lonely pro-America voices in France. Their words come at a time when relations between America and its first ally are the coolest they have been in years. French leaders like Jacque Chirac have exploited these feelings for their own political gain, in stark contrast to Revel and Herold, who have courageously stood with America. They are not alone either. In what might be a good sign, Revel’s book spent some time at the top of France’s bestseller list.

If relations between nations across the Atlantic are to improve, than Europeans, as well as Americans, should learn more about Sabine Herold, as well as read Revel’s outstanding book, Anti-Americanism. The world would be a better place if more people would listen to these visionaries.