Archive for August, 2006

Orwellian in Africa

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Barack Obama visited Kenya, where he rightfully criticized corruption in the Kenyan government, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, and encouraged AIDS testing. All was going well until a reporter asked Obama about his support for protectionist policies in Washington:

Obama’s response? He talked about the soybean farmers in Illinois, and said, “It’s important to me to be sure I’m looking out for their interests. It’s part of my job.” Absolutely incredible.

For, in July, the European Union and five nations, including the United States and Japan, met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the elimination of farm subsidies and agricultural tariffs. After all, in 2002, the World Bank estimated that African exports would increase by almost $2.5 billion if the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada eliminated their agricultural tariffs. This is especially true as to peanuts and tobacco. African farmers run up against farmers in wealthy nations whose laws ensure their success at the expense of Third World farmers.

What should Obama have said? “You’re right. America is a rich nation. You are a poor one. Poor nations generally turn into rich ones by starting out with agriculture. So when I get back to Washington, I’m going to tell my colleagues about the devastating real-world effect American protectionism has on poor nations.”

Indeed.

Football Picks

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Yes, it is now football time in Tennessee… So without further adieu, here are my predictions for this week…

Michigan over Vanderbilt
Nebraska over Louisiana Tech
Oregon over Stanford
Tennessee over California
NC State over Appalachian State
Wake Forest over Syracuse
UCLA over Utah
Wisconsin over Bowling Green
Pittsburgh over Virginia
Alabama over Hawaii
Notre Dame over Georgia Tech
Southern Cal over Arkansas
Mississippi over Memphis
Louisville over Kentucky
Miami (FL) over Florida State

Multiple Wives, Minimal Crimes?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I was trying to stomach Hannity & Colmes, but when Pat Buchanan came on it became a losing battle. So I switched over to Scarborough Country, which was being guest hosted by Tucker Carlson. Tucker raised some good questions about Warren Jeffs, the leader of the polygamous cult recently arrested by the FBI. Carlson asked some specific questions that I haven’t heard asked by anyone else. The best one was, what exactly is Jeffs being charged with? No one really seems to know. Perhaps for having multiple wives? It’s illegal, but does it really warrant the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list? Encouraging underage girls into marriages to older men? Well, certainly that’s a despicable thing, but shouldn’t the older men they are marrying, not to mention their parents, be the ones arrested?

This whole situation seems more sensational to substantive to me. Jeffs is the leader of a kooky cult that practices multiple marriages, something that fascinates many people, including some in the media. He certainly is a slimeball. But his adult followers all follow him voluntarily. As for the children, they are the responsibilities of their parents. If they are being abused, then it is their parents who are ultimately responsible and who should be punished. Unless something specific can be attributed to Jeffs, I’d say his only crime is polygamy.

My personal opinion on polygamy is that it is immoral, wrong, and sinful, but that it should also be legal. If someone wants to torture themselves (just kidding) by taking multiple wives, or husbands for that matter, why shouldn’t they be allowed? As long as it is voluntary and no one is harmed, then I tend to error on the side of liberty. A person is allowed to shack up with numerous members of the opposite sex; why not let them call it marriage if they want? (Note – I am not addressing questions about tax filings or insurance here.)

New Blog

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

A new conservative blog has just been started, the State of Franklin Blog. I’m always a sucker for blogs that mix history and politics, and it appears this blog will do just that.

The 21st Century Candidate

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Jim Bryson, GOP candidate for governor of Tennessee, has a MySpace account. Bryson already has been making use of podcasts. Bryson might well be the most tech-savvy candidate in Tennessee.

Another Drug War Defeat

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

The War on Drugs isn’t going so well:

A $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal, the Government Accountability Office says.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the President from requesting a $20 million increase in funding for the program. Even more idiotic is this response from the ONDCP:

The GAO report is “irrelevant to us,” says Tom Riley, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). “It’s based on ads from 2 1/2 years ago, and they were effective, too. Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil (its) progress.”

Every government agency expects additional funding each year, and if they don’t get it, they start the doomsday predictions. The War on Drugs has been a massive failure, and it is time to ignore the bureaucrats and pull the plug.

Via SayUncle

Al Gore Clone in Mexico

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Actually, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is much worse than Al Gore:

Mexico’s top electoral court threw out allegations of massive fraud in last month’s presidential election on Monday, handing almost certain victory to conservative candidate Felipe Calderon.

The seven judges voted unanimously to reject almost all the legal complaints by left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said he was robbed of victory in the July 2 vote.

The leftist, who has vowed to make Mexico ungovernable if Calderon becomes president, refused to accept the ruling.

I certainly hope that Obrador will accept his defeat, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. If he does follow through on his threat to “make Mexico ungovernable,” Mexican democracy will be in serious trouble.

Voting Out the Electoral College

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Pete du Pont, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, argues against altering or abolishing the Electoral College, pointing out that doing so would result in a major shift of power to urban areas – at the expense of rural communities.

The Electoral College is an institution that has been with us for over 200 years. The initial reaction most Americans have when asked about it is that it is undemocratic, which, of course, it is. But that is not a reason to abolish it. Without the Electoral College, presidential candidates would only go where large numbers of potential voters are – large cities. Thus, presidential campaigns would consists almost entirely of stops in New York, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Why bother with Knoxville? It would only mean the difference of a few thousand votes, almost certainly inconsequential in a country with a population of 300 million.

But a few thousand votes can make a difference in how Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes go. A few thousand votes can make a difference in who wins the electoral votes of any state. Thus states such as Iowa, West Virginia, Colorado, and Minnesota have real power in selecting the president. Without the Electoral College, no candidate would bother to visit any of these states. If you think New York and California hold too much power now, imagine how influential they would be without the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is not perfect, but it has served us for over 200 years. Few countries have enjoyed the stability that America has over the past two centuries. There has never been a coup in Washington. No defeated or term limited president has ever refused to relinquish his power. Clearly, we must be doing something right.

Nutcases Among Us

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

The Alabama Democrats have done the right thing, informing Holocaust denier Larry Darby he is not welcome in their party. The big news, however, is not that Darby ran for Alabama attorney general, as nutcases often pull such stunts in order to get attention. What concerns me is this:

Darby lost to Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. in the June 6 primary race. He received 43 percent of the vote.

During the campaign, he denied that millions of Jews died in the Holocaust during World War II.

Umm, does anyone else find it a bit frightening that a Holocaust denier received 43 percent of the vote? It is possible that some factor other than his views motivated his supporters, I suppose, but I’m not sure which ones. Darby is the founder of the Atheist Law Center, something I’m sure doesn’t fly well in Alabama, so it probably wasn’t conventional social issues.

The vote does show that Democrats aren’t above bigotry, but such a strong showing by Darby cannot be a good sign for anyone.

Throw Away the Key

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Former General Sessions Court Judge Thomas Austin is an embarrassment to myself and all other Roane Countians:

“He is corrupt to his core,” Atchley writes of former Roane County General Sessions Court Judge Thomas Alva Austin. It is the ex-barrister’s own language that Atchley is using to push for a hefty prison term for Austin, who faces sentencing next month for his guilty pleas to using his position to force kickbacks from driving school instructors and a probation office chief.

It’s not Judge Austin’s fault though. Oh no, according to his defense attorney, who claims…

[...] the ex-judge’s behavior stems, in part, from addiction and the discovery that his estranged wife was having a lesbian affair.

While I must thank Austin’s attorney for sharing that juicy detail, Thomas Austin is indeed corrupt to the core. He’ll be sentenced next month, with the sentence ranging from 37 to 46 months. This is hardly enough. 37 to 46 years would be more appropriate.