Archive for July, 2004

Jews Leave France

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

My column this week dealt with the anti-Israel sentiment that is on the rise. This article provides more evidence.

Wheel Tax Petition Turned In

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

Gary Sellers, the East Knox County resident spearheading the petition to force the proposed wheel tax before the voters, turned in his petition to the Knox County Election Commission. We’ll now see if enough signatures can be verified to force the matter to a vote. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Fulmer Avoids ‘Bama

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

University of Tennessee football coach Philip Fulmer refused to attend SEC Media Days in Birmingham, AL, fearing me may get subpoenaed due to his role in outing some NCAA violations in the University of Alabama’s football program. Gary Lundy covers this in his latest column in the Sentinel.

Supporting Israel: A Moral Obligation

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

What is it about Israel, the tiny democratic state located in a sea of dictatorships and absolute monarchies, that causes so much loathing in many parts of the word? It seems that the only friends Israel has are the United States, and sometimes Britain – But these countries have their share of Israel bashers as well.

Take for instance a recent vote by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination that I grew up in. They compared Israeli policy to that of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and called for divestment from Israel. In other words, they want to economically destroy the state for daring to fight for its very existence. The Presbyterian Church has said nary a word about the homicide bombings and terrorism practiced by the Palestinians, who routinely call for another Holocaust.

A Presbyterian minister whom I greatly respect personally told me that the Presbyterian Church Assembly “is a shame and scandal.” I couldn’t agree more.

Sadly, the actions of the PCUSA are simply reflective of a larger world trend against Israel. The World Court recently ruled 14-1 against Israel’s security fence. The term “wall” has been applied in an obvious attempt to conjure up images of the Berlin Wall, but in reality it is mostly a chain link fence. Many of the justices on the court come from countries with no business lecturing anyone on human rights, including China, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Russia, Jordan, and Egypt, as Max Boot points out in The Weekly Standard. This ruling is largely meaningless (It could only be enforced by the UN Security Council, where it would face a sure U.S. veto), but it reflects a world increasingly hostile to Israel.

We all know how rampant anti-semitism is in the Arab World, even in “moderate” Arab nations like Jordan and Morocco, where it is common to see Nazi-like propaganda broadcast as news. Across Europe, anti-semitism is also on the rise, as desecration of Jewish cemeteries and assaults on Jewish people frequently occur. The situation is so bad that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on Jews to leave France, where crimes against them are especially high.

The United Nations is home to incredible amounts of anti-Israel sentiment. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel for killing Palestinian terrorists numerous times (they have attempted to do so even more often, but the U.S. has courageously vetoed many condemnations).

The United States takes much criticism abroad for supporting Israel. Many Islamic terrorists see the U.S. and Israel as a single nation, and thus hate both. Supporting Israel has not gained America many friends abroad, yet we Americans must continue to stand by our Israeli friends. Why? Because it is the morally correct thing to do.

If we were to pull support for Israel, the Arab states would invade and no one would lift a finger to stop it. This is a real shame, because Israel is one of the most free and liberal nations in the world. The population of Israel is 25% Arab. Arab Israelis serve in the Israeli Parliament. Arab Israelis have the same rights as Jewish citizens, save for serving in the military. Indeed, the Arab Israelis have more rights and freedoms than Arabs living in any Arab nation. Can anyone name an Arab country that grants freedoms to Jews?

In light of all these facts, and the history of suffering the Jewish people have endured, it seems rather cruel to constantly blame Israel for all the problems of the world. Is Israel perfect? Of course not. It is, however, a much better nation than any of its neighbors. Indeed, Israel enjoys a level of freedom that far surpasses anything you’ll find in 98% of the world’s countries. Any honest observer would have to acknowledge this.

Therefore, it seems to me that all this criticism of Israel cannot stem solely from policy disagreements. Certainly, there is much more cause to criticize the policies of Zimbabwe, Sudan, or just about any country in the world. Yet, when was the last time you saw these countries make headlines?

Given Europe’s dark history of anti-semitism, it seems fair to wonder if much of the anti-Israeli doesn’t stem from this. The Arab countries make no effort to conceal their disdain for the Jewish people. European and American critics of Israel are far more covert.

DNC, Taxes, and Imperialism

Monday, July 26th, 2004

The Democratic National Convention is this week, which should make for compelling television. I’ll watch what I can, but spanish precludes me from having any fun..

I guess I would be remiss not to mention that the wheel tax petition, spearheaded by Gary Sellers, is set to be turned in. I heard Sellers on WNOX last week, and he said he believed he had enough signatures to force Mike Ragsdale’s proposed tax onto the ballot. I certainly hope this is true. Sellers should be applauded for his work on this.

Finally, I have almost finished reading Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism by P.J. O’Rourk. I highly recommend it It is at once funny and truthful.

News-Sentinel Endorses Hagood

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

The Sentinel has endorsed Jamie Hagood for the state senate. Congrats to our next state senator!

The Race for the 17th District State House

Saturday, July 24th, 2004

Georgiana Vines has an interesting article in today’s Sentinel about the race for the State House seat being vacated by Jamie Hagood. The winner of the Republican primary will, in all likelihood, be the person going to Nashville.

It appears as taxes remain the top issue in this race, with each candidate accusing the other of supporting higher taxes. It is interesting to note, however, that Frank Niceley is refusing to pay a wheel tax in his home in Jefferson County. Niceley acknowledged that this is “technically correct,” but that he plans to pay the wheel tax. Yeah right.

Full discloser: I work for Jim Bletner and fully intend to support him.

Redd on the Run

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

Perry Redd is on the run, so reports the News-Sentinel. Why is this blog worthy, you ask? Well, some of you may recall the infamous antiwar protest held at the University Center here at UT in March 2003. We were there with plenty of placards supportive of Bush and the liberation of Iraq.

Anyway, Mr. Redd was there protesting the war, and we had a slight conflict with him. Bethany Stover had a rather intense argument with ol’ Perry, that was immortalized in the pages of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and was later picked up by a Chinese news outlet. Since the Sentinel story is no longer online, I proudly present to you the photo below, which appeared in the March 6, 2003 edition of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Look closely in the left-hand corner, and you can see me. I’m the guy with the jacket and the bizarre squinty face..

So there you have it. Bethany and the rest of us (especially Bethany) were arguing with an alleged coke addict. Who would have ever imagined there would be criminals among all those peace-loving protesters?

Presbyterian Update

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

Dennis Prager has an interesting column about the Presbyterian Church USA, of which I am a member, sort of. He sums up the situation with the General Assembly very accurately.

Update: Glen Reynolds also offers some insightful commentary on the Presbyterian Church USA.

Three Things..

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

It looks like former national security advisor Sandy Berger has gotten himself into some trouble. He claims he inadvertently took home some notes and files, but that seems kind of far-fetched to this pundit.

The wheel tax petition continues to pick up steam. Today’s News-Sentinel reports that the petition is nearing the required number of signatures to force the matter on the ballot. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to sign the petition, and let the voters decide instead of Mike Ragsdale and 16 county commissioners. If Ragsdale is correct and the wheel tax is necessary, then he should be able to make his case to the voters. Sure, it might be harder to do this than to simply threaten to raise property taxes if he doesn’t get his way, but most voters want to know why this tax is needed.

Finally, from the hypersensitivity department… Democrats are angry over Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R-CA) “girlie men” remark, calling it “sexist” and “homophobic.” Come on guys, get a life!