Sunday, November 30, 2008

Today's Tennessean a preview of big cuts to come

The Tennessean and Gannett newspapers across the country are expected to announce cruel, big layoffs and buyouts this Wednesday to bring tidings of comfort and joy to thousands of famiies, including 100 here.

Today's Tennessean was a preview of what readers can expect in the future. The Business section featured no local staff byline on a single story. That's incredibly disappointing and a signal to Middle Tennesseans that they are going to be getting much less from the newspaper.

Say a prayer for the newspaper families here and across the nation that will have their futures ruined. There are few jobs in the newspaper industry. So most families will be turned into the economic night.

Our industry used to stand for right and serving as a watchdog against those who abused the public trust. Now, it is just another offender. And readers have few others places to turn to protect this republic with needed information and leadership.

Somebody is giving Obama bad Cabinet advice

Taking a page from President Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama is announcing some Cabinet appointments that are quite disappointing and short-sighted.

The appointment of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state tomorrow is supposed to be a salute to Lincoln's history of selecting Cabinet members who disagreed with him. Of course, Clinton and Obama disagreed on everything from whether it was right to talk with Iran and Cuba to whether the former First Lady was under sniper fire at a Bosnian airport.

So following the the advice of the Godfather Vito Corleone of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer may work in Mafia maneuvering, but it is poor policy to effectively govern the people of this nation.

If we go back to Lincoln, remember that his chief general, George McClellan, ended up running against him in 1864. And he would have beaten Lincoln if not for another general, Ulysses S. Grant, who was able to match Robert E. Lee on the field of battle because he didn't mind sacrificing great numbers of his men. Lee was a bit more compassionate.

Obama will suffer some embarrassment when the Clinton presidential library is forced to release names of its donors, which will include a lot of foreign governments that we should have been scrutinized instead of solicited for funds. And the Clinton administration is infamous for its failure to intervene in the greatest human atrocity since Pol Pot. Clinton failed to act while 800,000 Rwandans were being murdered

The best candidate for secretary of state was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who bravely deserted the Clinton machine during the Democratic primaries for Obama. Richardson, who has a helluva lot more foreign policy experience than Sen. Clinton, deserved the secretary of state job for the good of the country.

Obama will regret his strategy of surrounding himself with a lot of Clinton people. The only thing that may save him if he can find a Grant like Lincoln did.

Set calendars for Dec. 12 for an area celebration for the ages; for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Just 11 days separate the Nashville area from one of the biggest celebrations in years: the one year anniversary of the opening of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Mass starts at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. But if you want to sit inside the temple, you'll need to show up by at least 5 that afternoon. Seats are going to be set up in the lobby and in the gymnasium for the overflow crowd expected on this most special day. Loud speakers or closed circuit television will be used to bring the Mass to these crowds.

Our Lady's in Nashville represents a miracle, the idea of the Rev. Joe Pat Breen of the neighboring St. Edward Catholic Church. He took up Pope Benedict's call to champion the new Catholics among us, Hispanic immigrants. And without diocese help, he raised more than $1 million toward the $1.5 million debt to pay for the church.

It has been my privilege to raise $150,000 toward that goal. It is Breen's dream to be able to retire the debt by next year. Father Fernando at Our Lady is a most holy man. He is the perfect shepherd for this flock.

Our Lady's is now the largest Catholic Church in Tennessee with more than 5,000 people at weekend masses. This miracle has inspired many. And it will bring many to the church on Nolensville road Dec. 12 to celebrate our blessed patroness and protector who came to us almost 500 years ago.

Cool Springs Galleria had a rousing Black Friday

Friday found me stranded with my friends at the Goodyear Cool Springs location getting my old car fixed yet again.

So I decided to walk across the street to test out of the holiday shopping crowds at a time that experts are telling us this nation is headed into the worst buying season in 40 years.

I found a sight that should make local governments depending on sales tax collections very happy. The place was overrun. And shoppers were exiting with multiple plastic bags filled with goods.

So perhaps, at least here in Williamson County, the shopping season will be merrier. And thankfully, crowds here know how to control themselves and not trample people like the poor Walmart worker killed on Long Island by a shopper stampede.

A tip to parents on getting a crying kid to smile with Santa; a little trickery goes a long way

USA Today had a funny story a month ago about a new book put out by The Chicago Tribune of pictures featuring crying children with Santa.

These pictures represent some of the saddest moments of the Christmas season. And parents just aren't thinking when they try to get these shots.

As the story explained, parents are trying to get a young child to sit on the lap of a guy who looks like someone they tell the kid to run away from 364 other days of the year. Strange clothes and a long beard do not make for a comforting figure.

Before I came down with leukemia, it was my privilege to play Santa for several area groups. And I got around the crying child problem with a trick that worked every time.

I would get up from my chair and hide. The parents then would sit in the chair like they were taking a family picture. Then I would sneak up from behind and put my arms around the entire family. Viola! A beautiful family moment with St. Nick.

So try this trick next time. Remember, Christmas is a time of miracles.

Bush's legacy: It will be more mixed than you think

This nation can ill afford one more day of President George W. Bush in office.

He has ceded control of the nation to the secretary of the treasury, who is deciding which industry and set of incompetent executives to bail out each wekk with billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

But history will be kinder to Bush than most of his critics in the news media and the Left would want to believe.

The Iraq War will be his greatest blunder, although he has been telling the press this weekend that he wants the liberation of millions of people there to be the highlight of his eight years in office.

It won't be. The war was commenced because of the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction. And the world intelligence community was wrong. There were no WMDs. So the administration quickly shifted gears and said this nation and 27 others had invaded to liberate a people from a tyrant.

Predictions of quick victory and celebration by the citizenry turned into a nasty guerrilla theatre in which more than 4,000 Americans gave their lives. More than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed, including children. Living conditions are worse than when Saddam Hussein was in power.

The Sunnis and Shiites still hate each other. And Iran is simply waiting for us to leave to take over with its Shiite majority and turn Iraq and Iran is a bigger threat than ever before.

I wrote vigorously against entering the war. But when the troops hit the ground, my support was with them. They have performed incredible heroics and returned order in many areas. But all that success will be gone when this nation must leave. And it must. America can't afford the $10 billion a month bill.

But when it comes to foreign policy, Bush will not be a complete failure. His aid campaign to address depraved health conditions in Africa has been unprecedented. He did bring North Korea from the nuclear brink to cooperation in disarming. Relations with China have not suffered. Afghanistan remains a more tenuous place. But popular support remains behind this campaign.

Domestically, Bush proposed and signed into the law the largest entitlement program increase since the Great Society. The prescription drug program for Medicare recipients has been a success and come in under budget despite the prohibition against Canadian drugs.

Finally, his No Child Left Behind Act finally challenged the public education bureaucracy dedicated to serving itself ahead of children being failed and sent to futures in prisons and drug addiction. Critics say Bush failed to provide enough funding for the reforms. To the contrary, it is the responsibility of local school districts and their citizens to adequately fund

It was my honor to interview the president twice in the White House. I found him to be an intelligent man, a caring man and someone who did not take himself too seriously.

I was very disappointed, however, that he could not turn his political party from its hate campaign against immigrants and gain the passage of immigration reform. Bush has thrown his hands up, allowing heinous programs like 287g deportation, ICE raids and the incarceration of entire immigrant families in the name of justice. Human beings have died under detention.

His political party has effectively cut itself off from what will be the most potent part of the electorate for the next four decades. And we as Americans of Hispanic descent will not forget. Nor will be beholden to the Democratic Party, which has shown itself to also support these punitive measure against immigrant human beings.

Bush's legacy, despite his historically low poll approval numbers, will not be as dismal as many think. He did do some good in his eight years in office. His policies that worked such as No Child Left Behind, aid to Africa and Medicare Plan B must not be abandoned but built upon.

Dear Political Mijo: Why dog all the dogs, dawg?

Dear Political Mijo,

What gives with all the criticism of dogs in the White House? Canines are as American as apple pie, hot dogs and Girls Gone Wild commercials. Dogs provide a sense of virility to the man in the Oval Office, kind of like an extension of his penis.

Cats come with a stinky litter box and scratch the hell out of anything, including people. They're only loyal to their food bowl. They only come around when they want something, like a lobbyist. If you need help, they take care of themselves and let you choke on your pretzels or burn up like Britney Spears' career in your home. The White House has already been fired once. I don't even know if the place is insured. Think about the taxpayers, will ya'?

So quit dogging the dogs, dawg. And what kind of name is Mijo(my Joe)? This is America, fella. Get a real name, like Cujo, Schwarzenegger or Chimichanga.

Doggone Glad to Own a Dog

Dear Doggone,

After reading your letter, I felt a strong need to use the litter box. Ahhh! I feel better.

The truth hurts, and sometimes a claw or two is needed to bring dog owners out of their stupor. Even though my name is Spanish, I am as American as hot dogs, apple pie and those different kind of stringy-meat ribs in the Vietnamese restaurant buffet. Yum, yum.

My name is pronounced Me Ho, like me thinks you're out of your flea-bitten mind.

I don't hate all dogs. They're all right to live in this nation, except in the White House where we need a little class and less licking of naughty places. I have two canine friend, Stitch and Mac. They live in Topeka, KS., which is a good place for a dog to live. Their breed is shit-tzu, or is it shih-tzu ... I forget.

Listen, I voted for Obama. They let animals vote in Tennessee as long as they're not roadkill and on the dinner menu. I just think the new president should bring real change to Washington, not just another drooling, doodoo-dropping dog to the White House.

And hey, for your own good, wait a few minutes before you let your dog lick your face after he gets in from outside doing his business -- in front of the whole wide world. Disgusting.

Yours truly,


SEX: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, says Dalai Lama; but Texas preacher disagrees

It is not unusual for religious leaders to disagree on issues.

But the Dalai Lama and a Texas minister have disagreed on the matter of sex between couples, even married ones. The Dalai Lama has been honored by the U.S. Congress and President Bush, and both didn't campaign against sex between married people.

But his reincarnated magnificence said to

"Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication," the Dalai Lama told reporters in a Lagos hotel, speaking in English without a translator.

He said conjugal life caused "too much ups and downs.

"Naturally as a human being ... some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension that those couples always full of trouble. And in some cases there is suicide, murder cases.

Now the Texas minister called on his congregation -- with a bed as a backdrop -- for the married couples in his congregation to have sex seven days of week as a way to bring themselves closer to one another.

Some men in the audience cheered, The New York Times reported. Some women blushed. But the minister said he tried this experiment with his wife and it worked in bringing them closer and closing out the temptation general society unleashes through Internet porn and television titilation.

Church never has seemed the be the right place to talk about sex. But what this minister is saying to married couples in American society of 2008 makes simple sense as a smart defense to stay deeply in love.

So I've got side with the Texan on this one and give the Dalai Lama his props on issues of world peace. Intimacy through making love to your wife can be a marvelous way to reaffirm your vows and commitment to one another. And it takes this act from sex to love in a marriage.

Now some folks may need to practice some serious birth control or get the husband snipped like the family pet. Families should be planned. And so should schedules to make time each day or during the week for couples to shut out the world and its declining values and bring in the most precious act between people in love.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Advent Lesson 2008: Heaven help us if we continue to forget about this wonderful place

About 40 years ago, one of the most cerebral songs to come out of the Rock Broadway musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" was a lyrical masterpiece sung by the character Judas called ""Too Much Heaven on Their Minds."

It opened the smash production with the betrayer of Christ lamenting that the Apostles following Jesus were not paying attention to the politics of the times blocking Jesus' success as a political savior. Instead, the disciples were focused on how to get to Heaven and other, non-important spiritual stuff.

The exact opposite is afflicting America now. We in our busy, materialistic lives focus so little on Heaven, instead intent on making Heaven here on Earth with so many possessions and too many celebrities.

And that's why you have the Wall Street fallout and bailout, credit card debt up the kazoo and a people affixed too much on greed and glamour instead of real greatness through belief in a higher, better power and place.

A new friend of mine gave me a book this week entitled "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. I've only made it through two chapters so far, but its premise is so sound and timely, particularly as we enter the Advent season today.

We've forgotten about Jesus and Heaven as a real place to aspire to -- by how we act, the choices we make and what we value. Heaven is not really on our list of goals. And preachers prefer to lash their congregations with the horrors of Hell instead of the healing of Heaven and more.

The friend gave the book to me because the great difficulties now afflicting my life and a heartbreaking decision I had to make. But I had to make it out of gratitude to God for saving my life from leukemia. I owe God -- not that I could even begin to repay him for saving me but saving the world with his only son.

But Heaven is my No. 1 goal in life now. I'm no longer a newspaper columnist, so my career is over. I lost my dear cat of 18 years who helped me through so many struggles. And I lost of my mother in June, the person who got me into political writing and was as much a friend as a parent. I miss her so much.

Momma is now in Heaven, along with her three sisters, her mother and her husband(my dad). And my goal is to see her and all of them again by adhering more to the Almighty's will. So God has again chosen to mold me as I go through more brokenness in my life. But I deserved to be further humbled. Because too often, that's the only way God can get through to us.

He reminds us how much He loves everyone and how His will is direct and unmistakable if we would only stop and listen. God does not give people leukemia or send down tornadoes or unleash hurricanes. He instead gives us choice -- to react to these tragedies with faith or anger, with acceptance or denial.

He already has secured that place called Heaven for us through the death and resurrection of his son. So there is no need to mourn. Heaven is real. Heaven is wonderful. Heaven must be our ultimate goal.

I'll let you know more about Alcorn's book as I progress through it. And I'll let you know more about my life as I progress along the trail of brokenness toward a more direct path to Heaven.

Want to know why Nashville public schools are so screwed up? Look at mainstream news media

The front page of the Local News section of last Wednesday's Tennessean -- and TV news coverage the day before -- illustrates precisely why Metro Nashville public schools are so messed up and won't improve under what passes for leadership here.

The big picture accompanied by a story on the local front of The Tennessean was of the desperate search across the city for a Christmas tree for the town square. TV news couldn't get enough of the story the day before.

Yet inside the Local Section of The Tennessean was a story of how the school board is grappling with a $1.1 million deficit in the current school year. It either has to reduce teacher salaries, cut lower-paid staffing numbers, slash classroom supplies, layoff teachers or a combination of some or all.

What a damn shame! And now we're getting all the warm and fuzzy stories of making sure needy children get toys for Christmas while they're getting an education that violates standards of the No Child Left Behind Act and basic decency in a city of 1,000 churches.

Metro Schools are about to be taken over by the state, which is led by a governor who left a lot of children behind when he was mayor of Nashville.

Children first and foremost need a good education so they can buy their own presents one day for their own children as college graduates and professionals. Yet consider at the west Nashville place of worship called Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, only one child has received a good enough public education to get a lottery scholarship. And that was the pastor's daughter.

Yet the children of this African-American congregation get top grades on their papers. Then they can't score high enough on their ACTs to qualify for a scholarship. So the scholarships go to other children.

But hey, Metro Nashville finally found a good Christmas tree.

If I could be constructive in my criticism of The Tennessean, I'd recommend more prominent space about budget cutting involving the futures of children and less on Yuletide extravagance.

Needy children deserve it. So does Nashville's future as a city that must finally rid itself of racism and bigotry against the least of its citizens and in its mainstream news media coverage of the issues and injustices involving them.

Telling Santa to help Mommy and Daddy

FOXNEWS reports this morning that Santas across the country are saying that some children are not asking for toys.

They are asking that their Mommas and Daddies keep their homes or get their jobs back.

While this story is heartbreaking, it also should serve as motivation to the rest of us to double our efforts in this holiday season and after to help those around us in need. They could be right there in the pew next to you. They could be part of your soccer team family. They could be a cousin. They could be an old college friend.

God does not create hardship such as recessions. He creates opportunities for us to show how much we believe in him ... and each other.

Read this column on why Wall Street fell

Nobel-Prize winning columnist Paul Krugman has written a column that explains clearly how Wall Street ran into trouble and robbed Americans of most of their retirement savings.

I could summarize it, but it really deserves your time for a simple read so you'll know whether you want to keep your money in the market or seek safer options. My recommendation is to get out now.

Go to:

Far Left will be first to desert President Obama

The nation's Far Left deserves a lot of respect for its passion on issues affecting us all, particularly the less fortunat and this nation reputation around the world. God bless them all.

But their expectations of President-elect Obama will leave these liberals quickly disenchanted with the new chief executive after only a few months.

He will not close Guantanamo.

He will not reverse Bush administration surveillance policy.

Withdrawl from Iraq will be slower than expected.

He may well send more troops into Afghanistan and increase U.S. incursions into Pakistan to go after Bin Laden.

He may well delay the middle class tax cuts that will raise taxes on the more affluent because of the impact on the stock market.

He is against gay marriage and will not back efforts to overturn referenda in California and two other states Nov. 4.

On civil rights, Obama did not campaign as a black candidate but a president for all the people.

His health care plan is not universal coverage, which is what this nation needs. And he may well not introduce legislation to expand health care coverage until the economy turns around.

He has surrounded himself with Clinton administration officials who deregulated the financial industry, allowing banks to sell bad home loans upstream to investment houses that then packaged the loans into securities for investors to buy for quick, big profit. These men are not reformers of the scandal on Wall Street.

Immigration reform may also be delayed for at least two years.

He may well not push for passage of what has been called the Choice Act, which eliminates the secret ballot for union votes in workplaces to determine employee representation. Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern is against the Choice Act. I believe he is right in his opposition.

I can understand the passions of the Far Left for their issues, and they are mostly right in how they feel. But President Obama is not going to move fast but concentrate only on the economy, the economy and the economy in his first year in office.

Please. Be patient, not angry.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dear Political Mijo: A feisty feline's view of issues and events inside the Beltway and beyond

It is humbling when your cat gets more e-mail response to his posts than you.

But that is what has happened since I've advertised that my young kitty Mijo(Spanish for "dear one") is going to start blogging on the supposed political change coming to Washington and American politics.

Mijo picked up typing quite quickly, partly due to Fancy Feast being smeared all over the keys. But he gets all his political news from television, particularly FOX NEWS and CNN. Keith Olbermann on MSNBC scares the hell out of him. He ranks Crazy Keith with the worst ranking possible from his political perspective: four hairballs.

Why a cat writing on politics?

First, cats are fiercely independent, which is a welcome relief to the extremism that dominates American politics today.

Second, they can lick any part of their body. I don't know why that makes them credible, but it sure is a hell of talent that should be tapped more often.

Finally, if Bill Maher and Ann Coulter can be considered reasonable people to comment on American politics, a cat sure couldn't hurt.

Today's first question comes Frustrated in Feline Fiefdom:

Dear Political Mijo,

I was outraged by yet another president bringing another drooling and smelly dog into the White House to serve as the national pet. Cats have been second-class pets in the president's home for all of American history. You'd think the first black president would want to break another barrier with cats like us. But no sirreeee: no change for us. Break out the catnip. I need a snort.

Can you explain why cats still face such prejudice in the White House?

Dear Frustrated in Feline Fiefdom,

I feel your pain. Uh, oh, that's been used by someone else, and he's about as popular as a litter box in a buffett serving line.

Anyway, I too was outraged by President-election Obama's puppy announcement on Nov. 4. Gee, what does a cat have to do to get a little respect in this nation we helped found? Ben Franklin was always cattin' around. Jefferson had Sally Hemmings while still keeping her and many other human beings as slaves.

We're the most popular pet in the nation, next to Paris Hilton. I could eat one of her little dogs for breakfast and still have room for a full bowl of Kibbles n' Bits.

Dogs don't belong in the White House because they are such an embarrassment. They're always licking their balls in public and trying to sniff the rear end of anything that moves. They're always wagging their tails with a dumb smile on their faces like like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid after passing another bailout bill of Wall Street.

Then there's the biggest outrage. Dogs have got this humping problem, both males and females. And they get all excited out of the blue. Bush lets Barney sit in the Oval Office for official state visits and press interivews. No wonder the world is so screwed up and hates America. Barney must have humped some important Muslim cleric while Bush was too busy choking and fainting on pretzels to notice. So Afgahnistan and Iraq remain a mess.

Now Bill Clinton did have Socks the cat. But my buddy Socks knew too much about the Monica Lewinsky scandal that he was exiled with Clinton's personal secretary after the second term ended. Of course, Buddy the Dog -- given to Clinton during the height of Monica-gate -- fared worse. Clinton's Secret Service detail ran over him in New York while his wife was campaigning for the Senate. So Socks got the better end of that deal.

Obama is going to need a cool cat in the White House instead of some drooling dog with all the economic troubles raining down like fleas on a canine's smelly backside. A curled, sleeping cat on camera during one of Obama's fireside chats to the nation would provide a sense of complete, confident control. A dog would just take a dump in the background or start chasing his tail like Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson rescuing the bank of the week.

If asked, I would serve in the Obama White House. But it appears that the president will just have to learn the hard way. All prejudice -- even against cats -- must be vanquished if this nation is to progress. So to quote Carnac the Magnificent, may a thousand fleas of a diseased Yak infest Obama's armpits.

That'll teach him. Cats rule! Dogs drool!

Keep the faith, Frustrated in Feline Fiefdom. Hey, have you tried those new Friskies' soft shrimp and salmon treats? Good for ya and easy on the litter box.

All my best,


Why are men so hard to buy for during the holiday season? Because we love being a pain in the ass

I am one of those men who enjoys making it damn difficult for loved ones to buy me anything for my stubborn self for Christmas. My father was the same. So it is kind of a tradition handed down amongst us knuckleheads and neanderthals.

And today outside the largest shopping mall in a three-state area here at the Cool Springs Galleria, I confirmed this truth with two other men at my local auto repair place. They really didn't want anything for Christmas either. As one fella explained: "If I want something, I'll go out and buy it for myself."


Perhaps our reticence to participate in this holiday hell is due to the fact that we're more into the role of playing the big, bad breadwinner to the fullest. So we want the carcass of cash we bring back to the suburban cave to be used for the family first.

Second, we reflexively jerk back in fear and revulsion at any color of clothing that's bright and not undertaker black or blue jean blue.

Third, tools are a very personal item like jewelry. We have to form an attachment to any item in the store first; the older and dirtier the better. A good tool has a history to it. Anything that's been used on Jeff Gordon's car is an automatic stocking stuffer winner.

Fourth, books are fine, particularly if the coffee table is out of balance.

Ties are OK but should be reserved for Father's Day as part of that event's annual fashion torture.

Underwear knitted with the Burger King slogan of "Home of the Whopper" is not something that can be shown off to friends. Many men are too modest for such bragging.

So wives and loved ones should save themselves a lot of heartache and just let boys be boys this holiday season. The best gift on Christmas morning for the man you love may well be an hour of toasty naptime in the living room La-Z-Boy.

Winners and Losers of 2008 campaign: Surprises

There's nothing like not being able to sleep at 3 a.m. with a kitty cat who wants to play. So you go to C-Span for something relevant. And a gathering of politicos last week at the University of Virginia produced some surprises concerning the winners and losers in the 2008 presidential and congressional races.

Let's go down the list:

Losers: Not GOP presidential nominee John McCain but far right pundits who used their cable TV and radio shows to focus on Bill Ayers and his terrorist past while American voters were losing their jobs, losing large chunks of their investments in the stock market and losing their cool over Congress passing bailouts of Wall Street fatcats. That's the assessment of GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.

Losers: The news media with its partisan extremes in favoring one party over the other and journalists -- particularly women -- who targeted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gov. Sarah Palin with focus on the candidates' fashion and the b-word. More Americans knew about Palin's RNC shopping spree than Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama.

Winner: Michelle Obama, who did not change her image during the campaign but showed that she is just as brilliant and more compassionate than her husband.

Loser: George W. Bush, who was forced to disappear from the campaign trail despite McCain's promise earlier in the year to use the lame duck president in his appeal to voters.

Winner: Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, who has taken over as president in the almost daily bailout out a big bank or Wall Street investment firm.

Winner: Sen. John McCain, who Republican pundits see as crossing the aisle the next two years to help President Obama pass critical legislation and secure a lasting legacy for himself. And for Rush Limbaugh and all the arch-conservatives who gave McCain so much shit, payback is going to be a bitch.

Winner: President Obama, if he uses his superior communication skills to explain to the American people why the economy will take time to improve and health care reform may not be immediately affordable. Ed Rollins says Obama could go down as one of the greatest White House communicators, joining Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Ronald Reagan. JFK did not live long enough to realize his full potential.

Losers: The Democrats, upon Jan. 30, when their president presents his State of the Union address and the nation's problems become theirs in the eyes of voters. Do too much and there won't be the money for it. Do too little and people will lose patience. Pelosi and Reid are poison.

Losers: People who objected to Bush's attack on civil liberties and the Iraq War. Obama voted for the last surveillance bill. He is going to retain Defense Secretary Bill Gates who has run the war in Iraq and the parliament there just voted to approve an added U.S. presence for three more years. A report that Obama was going to close down the terrorist prison at Guantanamo was quickly quashed by his staff.

Losers: Those hoping for big change in the U.S. Supreme Court. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate magazine says only one liberal justice will leave, David Souter. That would leave the court at 4-4 on ideology with Justice Kennedy in the middle-right.

Loser: Karl Rove, Bush's chief strategist, who lured enough of the Hispanic vote in 2004 to win the election for his boss but then left Latinos hanging when it came to immigration reform and an anti-immigrant push in the GOP. So says Kiki McClean, Hillary Clinton strategist. Hispanics, however, also were losers at the UVA forum. There was not one Latino on the panel.

Losers: The American people, if they don't speak up and support their lawmakers in making the needed, tough decisions, McClean said.

Loser: The FDR Legacy. WWII ended the Great Depression, not the New Deal.

Loser: The Bush Legacy. BET reporter Jeff Johnson called W the "gangster president", who told the American people to agree with him or go to Hell. And the American people replied, "we are in Hell," Johnson said. Hurricane Katrina and Bush's failure to unite the American people and the world behind a more unifying effort undercut his presidency.

Winner: Humanity. Obama's victory signaled the need for America to put away the greed of the past 25 years and focus on people, said Daphne Maxwell Reid.

So that's what the so-called experts think. What do you believe?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What do Hispanics eat on Thanksgiving?

Taco Bell doesn't deliver turkeys, so Americans of Hispanic descent such as myself and my Prima Suprema cousin in Topeka, KS., cook our own birds just like every other citizen.

She likes sweet potatoes like my mother. I hate them. I'm a mashed potato-man.

She makes a cranberry relish. I love to eat cranberries straight out of the can. And they're cancer fighters.

The list of culinary similarities goes on. The same smells in Anglo kitchens will sweeten the same kitchens in Hispanic households. We Americans -- no matter our race, creed or ethnicity -- have more in common that we know.

Now Christmas is another story for Hispanic households. But I'll post on that next month. Tamales, anyone! YUMMMMMMMM!

This year is the first Thanksgiving in quite a while that I won't be making the mashed potatoes and my famous giblet gravy. But that's all right. My kitty cat, Mijo, has drawn up a menu heavy with shrimp. So we'll be feasting like beachcombers.

Mijo is preparing to start his own political blog posts on the change coming to Washington. He believes an African-American president does not represent enough revolution. He states that more input from very independent and tongue-cleaned cats is needed to change this nation for the better.

His slogan: Cats Rule! Dogs Drool! If there is a political issue you'd like him to address, please send it to this post.

Mijo is Spanish for "dear one". And he certainly is that and more to me now in my life, even if our household is going to smell quite fishy today.

Church is the best place to start Thanksgiving

I got to do something today that I've wanted to do for years.

I attended Mass on Thanksgiving Day and thank God in his own house for all my blessings, including saving me so far from leuekmia.

Holy Family Catholic Church sits on a hill on one side of a valley in Brentwood. And it such a place of peace for me, and it is place where families are celebrated and championed. And teens there, too, have been provided a particular ministry to their needs and heroics, thanks to the pastor, the Rev. Ed Alberts.

Thanksgiving often requires a lot of energy inside the household. The turkey needs to be washed and put in the oven in the morning when Mass is usually scheduled. There also is something always forgotten on the shopping list that someone must dash off to Kroger's to get.

Relatives visiting may not share the same religion, or faith at all. So good hosts and cooks try to be everything to everyone. Or some peope are on the road visiting relatives and can't really ask to break away to go to church. Some people run road races to raise food for the needy. That's a great cause.

But it sure is special to be at Mass or at a worship service on Thanksgiving. Singing "We Gather Together" denotes a moving sense of community that makes each of us part of something biggger and better.

So if you didn't make Mass or the local worship service, that's all right. You were busy trying to make a great meal for everyone. But if you get a chance next year, perhaps you can put the turkey in the oven later in morning and get to church to tell God "thanks".

For Tennessean, Gannett employees, Thanksgiving 2008 provides little time to celebrate blessings

Massive layoffs have marred the holiday season for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

No, God did not desert these good people and deny them the blessing of labor; it -- in many but not all cases -- was the fault of executives who put profits first over people.

However, I know great managers like Joe Zaracone at the Publix in Cool Springs who puts his people first along with the customers. And the employee-owned company returns the profits to its employees. So Publix is where I shop so the good people there can stay employed and their welfare secured.

But for employees at The Tennessean and at Gannett newspapers across the nation, Thanksgiving is a time of terrible worry. Massive layoffs are coming, at least 100 human beings in all departments at The Tennessean in the first week of December.

Not only will employees and their families lose income and security, but you the reader and advertiser will lose in the quality of product and service you receive. Meanwhile, ad rates or the price of a subscription won't be falling.

If I could persuade Gannett constructively, I'd tell its bonus-baby executives not to lay off the people who put all their heart and soul in their jobs. Keep them on the job. Take in less profits of 25% annually and build a better product that more people will buy. When the going gets tough, the tough are supposed to get going -- not laid off.

But I know this big corporation located hundreds of miles away will not listen.

So today around the dinner table with family and friends, say a prayer for these people who are hurting without jobs or who will soon be without jobs. And if your job is secure, thank God for such a great blessing in these most uncertain times.

Battle between mayor and school board for control of schools is one I hope both lose

The Tennessean tells the citizenry that Mayor Karl Dean and the school board are in a fight for control of the direction of Metro schools.

This battle is one of the blind fighting the blind, flailing about with no definitive action that would rescue children being left behind in droves in the supposed "Athens of the South".

It is an embarrassment of massive moral dimensions, no matter how many Monday Night Football games are held here.

Dean is a protege of former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, who implemented a political curriculum based on keeping white parents from fleeing in greater numbers to the suburbs. But Core Curriculum failed, and it put the district in its position now of failing to meet No Child Left Behind standards and being put under state control.

Dean, however, believes he can run Nashville schools like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Dean is not even in Bloomberg's league. He has the clout of billion-dollar portfolio to back his demands. And he used it to get rid of term limits recently so he could run for a third term.

The board in turn is owned by Chamber of Commerce. And its concern for the children of Nashville is based on keeping taxes low first. The school board now must deal with cutting $1 million from its current budget, which means employees including teachers may be laid off or their salaries cut. Schools may be closed. Programs like music may be eliminated.

Dean has brought in a much ballyhooed Teaching for America(TFA) program, which recruits teachers for three years to stay in a school district's toughest schools. Yet how many of those educators will want to come here if salaries are being cut? In addition, TFA has only a 40 percent retention rate for its teachers after three years in a school district. So the child gets left behind again, this time with abandonment.

But the city is going to put millions of dollars in tax money to save the Music City Bowl, which has been a financial failure since its inception 10 years ago.

Nashville is a city woefully out of balance when it comes to its priorities. And its mayor and school board will engage in a fight in which the children -- usually black, Hispanic and poor -- lose once again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Marsha!Marsha!Marsha's! star dims in Congress

Ken Whitehouse of the City Paper has become a must read for political news tied to Tennessee.

And his latest revelation about Congressperson Marsha!Marsha!Marsha! Blackburn signals that her political star may have dimmed with the Nov. 4 general election.

Blackburn -- who appears frequently on FOXNEWS to spout her extreme agenda -- lost to a much lesser known lawmaker to head a Republican caucus that has a lot of say about party public policy.

How could this be? Perhaps the GOP is trying to remake itself from the immigrant-hating agenda that Blackburn and others in the party push. Americans of Hispanic descent delivered Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and California to President-elect Barack Obama.

With her failure to also obey federal election law in not adeuqately reporting campaign contributions for years, and directing some of that money to benefit her daughter's business during her campaigns, Blackburn has shown herself to be a lawmaker of questionable integrity.

Blackburn is more of a hindrance to the GOP and a more tolerant America than a benefit.

When giving thanks, be sure to focus on mothers

The New York Times reports this morning that America's mothers are doing without this holiday season to make sure their children receive the gifts they want.

The Times re-affirms what I've always claimed: mothers are the most heroic in society, and single moms rise even further to the challenge.

Here is what The Times said:

Come Christmas, McKenna Hunt, a gregarious little girl from Safety Harbor, Fla., will receive the play kitchen and the Elmo doll she wants. But her mother, Kristen Hunt, will go without the designer jeans she covets this season.

For Ms. Hunt and for millions of mothers across the nation, this holiday season is turning into a time of sacrifice. Weathering the first severe economic downturn of their adult lives, these women are discovering that a practice they once indulged without thinking about it, shopping a bit for themselves at the holidays, has to give way to their children’s wish lists.

“I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.’ ”

In this economy, nearly everyone is forgoing indulgences, and many fathers will no doubt sacrifice this year to put toys under the tree. But figures suggest the burden is falling most heavily on women, particularly mothers.

In September and October, sales of women’s apparel fell precipitously compared with the same months the year before. They were down 18.2 percent in October, for instance, compared with a decrease of 8.3 percent for men’s apparel, according to SpendingPulse, a report by MasterCard Advisors.

And a survey of shoppers’ intentions by the NPD Group, a consultant firm, suggests that such cutbacks may continue through the holiday season. Some 61 percent of mothers said they would shop less for themselves this year, compared with 56 percent of all women and 45 percent of men.

So when you're around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, first give thanks to God. Then raise your glasses to mom, who is the greatest blessing of all.

Quit focusing on the Miley Cyruses of the world and look to young people like Brendan Foster

One of God's great justices in the world is that children who get leukemia have a 90 percent cure rate.

People like me who get this killer at 47 years of age don't have a very good chance of living, particularly when you can't find a stem cell or bone marrow match. And that's fair. We've been able to live a lot of life.

So it was with great regret that the world learned that 11-year-old Brendan Foster died from this cancer of the blood. But this incredible young man left a remarkable legacy that I won't forget and will use to keep his memory alive down here now that he is free of cancer in heaven.

Brendan's last wish was to feed the homeless. He could have asked for a trip to Disney World or to meet the president. (Well, perhaps not the current president since he is letting Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson run the country and bail out more Wall Street fatcats.)

But the young man was still thinking of others as his life was slipping away. His selflessness was an inspiration. And his focus on the homeless was appropriate for the economic times.

More Americans are going to become homeless, as they lose their homes from foreclosure and their jobs from consumers no longer spending. Hard times are coming and are already here in some places of this nation and state. Tennessee's governor is getting ready to throw more thousands of the most vulnerable off health care rolls and state workers off their jobs.

So Brendan's call to care must not die with him and one news cycle.

Tell your children about him. Teach your children about the circumstances that result in homelessness.

Take the focus off Miley Cyrus and other giggly celebrities. Focus their attention on those people and those virtues that build better people -- by first helping people.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama is worthy successor to FDR, but remember that the New Deal did not bring nation out of Depression; he'll need our prayers and patience

President-elect Barack Obama has been most impressive in the bold initiatives he has announced to combat the ongoing economic downturn.

His FDR-era jobs program to repair the nation's infrastructure is long needed. Putting people to work is always good policy for the public welfare.

But Americans need to realize that this president-elect (nor even FDR himself) can turn the tide of economic ruin that originated decades earlier. Obama has been saddled with massive problems not of his making by both political parties the past 25 years.

Accordingly, we will need to be patient and most prayerful with this new president. Next year will be much worse economically than this one. And 2010 may not be any better. Remember, that while the stock market crashed in 1929, unemployment did not reach 25% until 1932 during the Great Depression. Only WWII lifted the United States out of its economic straits.

So don't be lured into investing any of your money into the stock market. Don't buy as much this holiday season and save, save, save.

A good president should instill hope in his people. And for the next two years, hope will be the most effective weapon President Obama will have to offer this nation as it fights its way back to better times.

NewsChannel 5 should keep news out of copter; Conte's theme park costing taxpayers dearly

NewsChannel 5 this morning featured a helicopter flyover of the political amusement park First Lady Andrea Conte has built underground at the governor's mansion.

The helicopter pilot offered a little bit of description then provided propaganda from the governor's office that this gross waste of time and effort was costing taxpayers little.


Conte maneuvered behind the scenes to sink $11 million in taxpayer money into a place where she and her husband could entertain other people with titles. The governor's office even tried to keep e-mails on this matter secret.

That $11 million in spending is a source of great immorality now since the state will probably face a $1 billion budget deficit by January. And the governor will cut programs serving the most needy and axe the number of state workers.

How many people could have been kept on the job or receiving needed health care if the First Lady hadn't decided that her pet project needed taxpayer money? A lot.

NewsChannel 5 should be ashamed of itself for participating in this disinformation campaign from the governor's office. The people of this state deserve better if the station is to serve in any kind of a watchdog role.

Democratic lawmakers discover Emperor Phil the First has no clothes in selecting Odom as leader

Finally, we have some justice in the world of Tennessee politics that puts the people first.

House Democrats voted to elect Davidson County lawmaker Gary Odom as Minority Leader despite the efforts of Gov Phil Bredesen to interfere, denigrate Odom and support his opponent.

Yet Bredesen -- a Democrat in name only -- was rejected in his efforts by lawmakers who paid him back for the little support he offered their campaigns during the GOP sweep of the General Assembly in Nov. 4 elections.

Former Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, used his excess campaign funds to help GOP lawmakers and challengers to win their races. Bredesen in turn used his funds to pay himself back millions of dollars he had loaned to his gubernatorial campaign.

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, Odom's challenger for minority leader, was the candidate of Bredesen and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. The vote that turned the Democrats out of power in the House was a referendum against Naifeh. But Bredesen has never cared what the people of this state think.

Odom will be a good minority leader, and he will challenge Bredesen on budget cuts directed mostly at the most vulnerable among us, particularly those on TennCare and state employee numbers.

For his six years in the governor's office, Bredesen has been more show than substance. He has reigned, not served. But now more people are discovering that this emperor has no clothes and deserves no respect for his nakedness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lawsuit against 'EnglishFirst" more silly games

A lawsuit by a Salvadoran woman to stop the "EnglishFirst" referendum set for Jan. 22 in Metro Nashville represents more unnecessary maneuvering to avoid the will of the people at the ballot box.

Rosa Quinteros has asked a local judge to block the vote because she does not speak enough English. And the court should consider whether the referendum would overstep constitutional and governmental bounds.

Even if Quinteros wins and delays the vote, she has set the image of immigrants back for generations. Then, my grandparents came to this country without knowing English. So they learned by trial and error. Yet they never lost a son or daughter, who each quickly picked up English for Papa and Mama. Nine of their children fought for the United States of America in WWII. And now their descendants are college educated and professionals.

I don't support the referendum. I believe society should advance and treat people better now than it did before. So let government provide help in multi languages. And a city that has more languages signals the presence of a wonderful diversity to welcome visitors and businesses.

Besides, the largest English-speaking nation next decade will be China. So we must be about becoming bilingual in this nation just to keep up.

And that's the case to make at the ballot box, not in the courts.

Bailout of Citigroup has big tie to Obama adviser; Clintonite Robert Rubin a Citigroup executive

President-elect Barack Obama has assembled quite a cast of characters around him to lead the nation from economic doom and terrorism.

But the presence of one central figure, former Clinton administration Cabinet member Robert Rubin, is especially troubling in the wake of the federal government's bailout of Citigroup today.

For the past year, Rubin has been an executive helping to lead Citigroup. Yet it still needed a bailout. So what does he really have to offer Obama as far as advice to turn this nation around and stop taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street fatcats?


Rubin is part of the problem. So are other former Clintonites who were part of deregulating the financial industry during the 1990s. That action allowed bad mortgages to be sold upstream to big financial houses that now need to be bailed out. Yes, 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton administration. But most were parttime and did not have health care benefits.

Yet the stock market seems to like all these former Clintonites back in power. And why shouldn't it. They created the opportunity for all the excesses on Wall Street. So it's back to business as usual with Obama coming into power.

As far as foreign policy, I don't like seeing Madeline Albright representing Obama. As Clinton's Secretary of State, she allowed 800,000 Rwandans to be murdered without U.S. intervention. That's a helluva lot more folks that Bush has killed in Iraq. Clinton has apologized for not intervening. Albright has not.

Obama is putting exactly the wrong people back in power to do more harm than good.

Americans of Hispanic descent should push name of Kevin Sharp to be appointed to federal bench

It has been a great privilege for me to belong to a Google group of about 500 Hispanics across the country who have accomplished much professionally, politically and on the grassroots level.

The news and events we report to one another are not seen in the supposed mainstream media. The gross mistreatment of undocumented human beings and their families -- including American citizen children -- is rarely recognized on local and national TV newscasts.

But we cannot forget where we came from or the requirement of our God to love one another and the stranger among us. So we look for any positive to push, any cause to embrace and any person of courage and integrity to support.

Against that backdrop, I sent out the following message today to my Google group of distinguished and heroic members:

It is disappointing that in the aftermath of Sen. Obama's victory and the critical role that Americans of Hispanic descent played in Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico that the so-called mainstream news media has reverted to the same old black and white faces to talk about America's political future.

I hope there have been exceptions, but I did not notice any on Sunday morning's TV shows.

It also is disappointing that Gov. Bill Richardson probably will not be rewarded with the Secretary of State job despite his impressive experience and the risk he took in backing Obama during the presidential primary.

Amid all this disappointment, there is some hope, at least here in Nashville. Someone I know very well for his integrity and compassion is being considered for a federal judgeship on the district level. His name is Kevin Sharp. He runs a law firm here that takes on a lot of pro bono work for the poor and marginalized. He helped me personally in my darkest hours.

No, he is not Hispanic. But he was a prime mover behind Bill Richardson's campaign for president, as were many members of his law firm. He is a very good Democrat who believes in the party's ideals nationally.

Please, if you see fit, pass his name up the ranks of the Obama team and encourage them to appoint Mr. Sharp as a federal district court judge here. Hispanics in Nashville continue to be targeted by the 287g deportation program and now an English only referendum. The state Legislature now is under GOP control, which means we'll see a flood of anti-immigrant legislation.

We desperately need someone like Kevin to turn to for relief under the U.S. Constitution. We want nothing more than what the law provides out of a sense of fairness, justice and humanity.

If you have any questions about him, please send them to me, and I'll answer them. Or he will. And let the Obama people know that I endorsed their candidate in Spanish language newspapers in my Hispanic Link News Service column BEFORE the Texas primary.

Un abrazo,

Nashville taxpayer bailout of Music City Bowl is a real loser with schools facing deficit and city cuts

Richard Lawson in today's City Paper bravely discards the local news media's traditional cheerleader outfit to put big-time sports in Nashville under the light of financial scrutiny.

And he reveals that the Music City Bowl was a financial loser last year despite a sellout crowd and a $300,000 rescue by Gaylord Entertainment. And the bowl has been in existence for 10 years. So why can't it get the needed corporate support to make it profitable?

Now for the worst part. City leaders decided that you the taxpayer should directly invest in the this fiscal black hole through the new Music City Event & Marketing Fund.

Now, these leaders will claim that residents are not paying the tax, visitors are on their hotel bills.

They're right. But that money could be going to schools that face a big deficit and a city that will have its local share of state aid slashed when the Tennessee General Assembly returns in January to deal with what will be a $1 billion deficit for the current budget year.

Read Lawson's column on Page 3. It is well-researched and a breath of fresh air from a member of the news media who has shown his first responsibility is to readers, not pon pom makers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008: Celebrate the blessings, not the mythology; Pilgrims did not bring progress

I was driving early this morning to Mass in a very conservative county when I passed a car with a bumper sticker that read: "Have a problem with immigrants? Talk to the Indians."

How appropriate a message, I thought, on the eve of Thanksgiving.

America's history -- written mostly from the European perspective -- tells us that the Pilgrims brought progress to a the New World, which wasn't new at all to the Indians who lived here for centuries and made great advances in the sciences and mathematics.

Yet to the North American continent in 1607 came a group of people fleeing religious persecution -- only to unleash centuries of persecution on people here that continues today.

So on this Thursday, don't buy into the happy scene of Pilgrims and Indians sitting at a table eating peacefully -- creating a Hallmark Card warm, fuzzy feeling for the nation. The exact opposite was take hold of this continent in the terrorizing and murdering innocents for generations to come.

Granted, the Indians in their various nations were not all that kind to each other. They enslaved, they butchered, they cheated. But they also had their own governments, like the Oneidas in upstate New York.

Most of all, however, these native Americans were here first -- just as all the immigrant-haters such as Lou Dobbs claim now for themselves with all their venom aimed at people who look like me and my ancestors.

A century or more earlier on the same continent in what is now Mexico, Europeans unleashed the same inhumanity on Indians who were there first. The Spanish Conquest was supposed to bring civilization to the savages. Instead, it brought savagery that seems to grow each year in this country and in Mexico and on the streets of LA.

And after the Spanish were done, citizens from a new nation called the United States of America swept down into Texas and New Mexico with guns and stole lands from Mexican ranchers who had held the property with written deed in their families for centuries.

You won't find those stories in history textbooks in elementary and high school classrooms across the country.

You won't find the following story either. A few years ago, I was getting my hair cut by an African-American hairdresser on the eve of Thanksgiving. And I innocently asked her how she and her son were going to celebrate the holiday.

"We don't celebrate Thanksgiving," the woman said adamantly. "It brought too much suffering into this world."

And the Europeans that followed the Pilgrims did bring 400,000 Africans in the bellies of ships -- chained to one another to cross the Atlantic Ocean -- to live and die as slaves on what would one day be labeled the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tell me: What kind of uplifting virtues of liberty and courage reside in the hearts and minds of those who enslave human beings, and their children and their children? Presidents Jefferson and Jackson -- both heroes of the Democratic Party nationally, still are celebrated in annual gatherings despite being slaveowners and hypocrites. Republicans would not be allowed the same hypocrisy in their fundraising.

When this nation finally learn and recognize the truth of its inhumanity?

Thanksgiving is a most proper day to thank God for all the blessings he has bestowed on our lives. But reject the myth in the history textbooks, that the illegal-immigrant Europeans from Spain to England to Portugal brought any real sense of progress to this nation.

Actually, they took us a further step back from any affirmation of humanity and toward a greater loss of life and liberty.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kevin Sharp for governor of Tennessee?!

One reader believes Nashville attorney and good guy Kevin Sharp should set his sights on political office. I agree. Here is the reader's message:

While Mr. Sharp would make an excellent judge, I've been hoping we could get him to run for governor...or maybe benevolent dictator. I know him to be smart, fair, and honest but also a great leader of men (and women). Our state would be well served by a ceo with the brains of Bredesen and the communication skills of Reagan.

I'll make the first campaign contribution.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NewsChannel 5 rules! Its reporting this week has produced breaking and investigative scoops

NewsChannel 5 pushed itself further into the lead of being the primary source of news in Middle Tennessee with reporting the past week that has people talking at the water coolers and authorities looking behind their backs.

Phil Williams' investigative series on the wrongs of Davidson County judges and their staffs deserves kudos for taking up for people of this area forced to wait hours in court for jurists interested in something other than swift justice.

Nick Beres' broke the news on the overturning of the convictions in the Adrianne Dickserson case. Most troubling was his last report of a key eyewitness lying on the stand and the man's contention that the DA's office urged him to do so.

Despite protestations to the contrary from the local DA's office, I've covered anhd investigated enough capital cases -- including the one of the late Philip Workman -- to know that authorities encouraging witnesses to lie is not that uncommon.

Davidson County residents should be shuddering at these revelations of a local justice system gone haywire. And they should be praising NewsChannel 5 for looking out for us.

Kevin Sharp would be excellent federal judge

Ken Whitehouse of the City Paper today cited Nashville attorney Kevin Sharp as a prime candidate that a new President Barack Obama should consider for federal appointment to the bench.

I could not agree more.

Sharp is sharp, a compassionate guy and a person deeply interested in justice. I know the man personally. And he and his law firm are real assets to Nashville and Middle Tennessee in the fights they take up for the little guy and their pro bono work.

His appointment to the federal bench would ensure that justice and fairness are the rule in the federal district court for Middle Tennessee.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Lady should give money back to state

Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte -- who took $11 million in state money to build an entertainment center under the governor's mansion for people with titles -- should return the funds since lawmakers may well face a $1 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year when they return in January.

Conte's project was originally sold to the public as not costing taxpayers a dime. Then it escalated out of control and beyond needed public scrutiny. The result was $11 million in taxpayer money being used.

Conte and her husband, Gov. Phil Bredesen, are mega-monster millionaires. That $11 million is nothing to them. But for the most vulnerable in this state, the sum will mean state workers keeping their jobs and the sick on TennCare staying on the health care rolls amid what will be very deep budget cuts.

If you see Conte at a public function, ask her to give the money back to the people who can really use it during these difficult economic times.

Walmart lowers forecast on 4th quarter earnings; that's less buying and a $1 billion deficit for TN

Walmart is kind of a barometer for the forecast on the nation's economic health and future.

Today, it reported big profits for the third quarter, yet the price of its stock declined. Why? The global retailer lowered its expected earnings for the fourth quarter, which includes the holidays.

Holidays make or break many retailers. They depend on most of their revenue during that period. But growing layoffs, plummeting 401ks and rising fear have left people less intent on buying this holiday season. So that means more people will be laid off and less sales tax revenue will be coming into states and communities.

For Tennessee, that means lawmakers in January may well face at least a $1 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year. The number is shocking. But it is indicative of the grim future awaiting decisionmakers.

And as most politicians, they'll let this bad news roll down hill. That means your county and city leaders will have to decide how much to cut of your services and/or raise your taxes during a recession.

Walmart is telling us to beware the months to come. It is going to be terrible.

Make your older kids cook fror Thanksgiving; it will make them appreciate tradition, create their own

A good friend of mine has unleashed a wonderful surprise on all her kids coming to visit from college for Thanksgiving.

She is going to make them bring or make a dish to create the dinner while she sits and takes a needed day off from work.

Hooray for her!

Mom is not being selfish. She wants her children to appreciate the tradition of the meals they've had many years before, learn how to make the dishes and start new traditions of their own -- for the current family and the ones they will create.

It is a great idea, one that will bring a family closer. And that's what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about.

Ted Turner lets Lou Dobbs have it over anti-immigrant rant making his show unappealing

CNN's Lou Dobbs featured a long clip of his talk with network founder Ted Turner which touched on the anti-immigrant flavor of his show.

When it comes to building a wall on the Mexican border which Dobbs is pushing, Turner asked the immigrant-basher how his sentiments fit with President Ronald Reagan's exhortation to Mikail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" when it came to Berlin.

Walls, Turner told Dobbs, are not really humane. They are not how people get along. Then Turner asked Dobbs about where was his call for a wall on the Canadian border.

Dobbs didn't have a reply, just smiled and spoke around the obviousness of his bigotry.

But it got worse. Dobbs said he actually agreed with Turner that there needs to be immigration reform to allow people already here and contributing to remain legally.

Ol' Ted showed Lou for what he is. And that's another reason why Hispanics went two-thirds for Obama on Nov. 4, to tell people such as Dobbs that their hate is not needed in a changing America.

Creating a new leader for the TN Democratic Party: start from scratch Obama-style

In a video game my godson likes to play, you can create your own super powerful football player to lead your team to victory.

Tennessee Democrats need to take the same approach in finding a replacement for the inept yet nicely coiffed State Party Chairman Gray Sasser, who announced he is stepping down from the bridge of the Titanic to concentrate more on his law firm.

While I don't like many of the policy positions of Tennessee Republican Party leaders, they know what they believe and stick to it. I can really respect that. Meanwhile, most Tennessee Democratic leaders are all over the place, pandering to one special interest to another and serving the great incumbency machine that is the General Assembly.

Tennessee Dems need a leader who will demonstrate consistency of values and a sense of idealism that promotes progressive policy to make life better for everyone -- not pursue the lowest common denominator as Sasser demonstrated in using anti-state income tax sentiment to unsuccessfully blunt the wisely placed campaign contributions in legislative races of former Gov. Don Sundquist.

As retiring state Rep. Frank Buck told me, Tennesseans despite the Nov. 4 vote still prefer moderate government. They want both sides working together.

First, however, Democrats in Tennessee must be viewed as standing for something. All Sasser did in his tenure was to be Gov. Phil Bredesen's lapdog. Sasser made excuses for policy decisions Bredesen made that were contrary to what I once thought were Democratic Party ideals of being for the little guy and gal. Health care cuts took lives in Tennessee.

So if you have any recommendations for whom should lead Tennessee Democrats, drop me a note with a bit of rationale, and we'll get the discussion going.

Remember, Sasser got his job because of his famous last name. Our soon-to-be new president sure didn't get his job because his name but by the strength of his ideals and the depth of his passion.

Is there a Democrat in Tennessee to summon the same strengths?

Take off the blinders: Here's some good financial advice for followers of Dave Ramsey; quit listening to him about investing in market, says DR grad

I received the following comment from a reader who has been following my posts on the financial advice guru Dave Ramsey has been giving to the American people after the stock market -- the Dow -- declined to 11,600 in September.

Ramsey said then that growth mutual funds were fine for people to still put their money in. And he attached the "long-term" label to his advice to cover his backside. Long-term can mean anything.

Right now it means that people who lost money in 2001 in growth mutual funds never recouped their losses by the time the market started falling last fall. It also means that some retirees have had to go back to work because their savings have been cut in half.

Here is what a reader had to say on the topic:

I am a DR fan and graduate of his course. He makes great sense concerning debt, mortgages (prefer 15 year etc.) but I found a blanket recommendation of mutual funds and his quoted average return of 12% misleading. He believes in faithfully investing with patterns of returns from Wall Street.

To continue to advice followers to invest hard earned money in mutual funds is shortsighted, especially if you're not among the wealthy.

I know people who paid off their homes after extensive renovations and are now exhausting their savings, looking at stock losses and can't sell those beautiful homes. They followed the DR pattern but are "broke" essentially.

He needs to stick to his core debt advice. Who knows he could be a spokesman for the mutual fund industry. You can't follow his advice blindly.

I agree. Ramsey should stick to his specialty on reducing debt and quit hurting people with his stock market advice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A fresh, clean air is sweeping through Statehouse

Retiring state Rep. Frank Buck called it in my Saturday blog post about who would be the next speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Buck said that Naifeh has always had six GOP members in his pocket to keep him in power in case some Democrats in his own party bolted because of his corrupted antics. But those GOP members sided with Naifeh only because they never believed the GOP would get a majority in the House.

On Nov. 4, they did, riding on Sen. John McCain's coattails.

Buck said last week that the GOP reps would then have to decide who to align themselves with. This morning's Tennessean reports that Rep. Jerry Mumpower has the 50 signatures of all GOP House members to make him Speaker on the second Tuesday in January.

Inside talk has it that U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker put pressure on the six members to be true to their political party and voters wanting change.

Fresh air can be a very good thing in politics, be it in the White House or the Statehouse. Mumpower will have the power to clean up all the muck Naifeh left, the kind of the nastiness that bogged down the business of the people for his personal political gain and those of special interests.

In fact, Mumpower and Senate President Ron Ramsey could do the citizens of The Tennessee the greatest good by setting term limits on how long a speaker and president can serve, Buck says. Eight years would be great. Former Senate President John's Wilder's tenure over almost four decades was ridiculous.

Another good turn in the House could be the elevation of Democrat Gary Odom of Davidson County to the position of House Minority Leader. Odom was going to challenge Naifeh for Speaker. He, too, got tired of Naifeh's shenanigans.

So raise your glasses to the new House Speaker and his success, and hopefully a new House Minority Leader in Odom.

Now if we could only get Gov. Phil Bredesen to leave early with the state facing an $800 million deficit in the current fiscal year, then the atmosphere on Capitol Hill may clear enough for the people of Tennessee to see their government finally working for their interests first.

GM, Chrysler should file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Constituents should be flooding the offices of their members of Congress with a strong voice of opposition to any bailout of Detroit's automakers.

Instead, these companies should file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganize their businesses with creditors and the courts calling the shots. Our nation's airlines have done so, and they're still flying. The automakers deserve no special treatment at our cost as taxpayers.

I covered Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization cases for 10 years in Oklahoma. And the process is a good, cleansing one of re-addressing every cost and contract -- just like we do in our households when times are bad.

Don't let the automakers avoid their day of reckoning. Bankruptcy court allows for workers to stay employed while executives and union bosses get their acts together.

What's up with the Metro Police Department and DA's office; two arrests and exonerations in murder cases point to wrongdoing, or even worse

NewsChannel 5 is exclusively reporting that the convictions of two men regarding the murder of 12-year-old Adrianna Dickerson have been thrown out and it appears these men were not the ones responsible for ths tragic death of an innocent 13 years ago.

This shocking reporting comes on the heels last week of a murder charge thrown out against an undocumented human being in regards to the deaths of two next-door neighbors in Nashville. In fact, the jury returned the exoneration after only five hours of deliberation. The public defender did not even put on any witnesses.

So how did the Metro Police and the DA's office horribly botch these prominent cases?

People should be demanding answers since these turns of events mean that murderers are still on the lose. The DA and police chief should be called before the Metro Council to answer questions from representatives and the public. Because the wrongs involving both offices are long and far beyond just these two cases.

In addition, County Sheriff Daron Hall should be forced to end the 287 deportation program here in Nashville since he sold it to citizens based on the unfounded murder charges against this undocumented human being.

Nashville's justice system continues to corrupt. From Phil Wiiliams' ongoing investigation of Metro judges to these two stunning cases of the wrong people being accused or murder, it is not long before you or your loved ones will get snared by officials who do not know what they are doing ... or really care.

Every journalist should celebrate Veterans Day

With the local library rightly closed yesterday, I was not able to write a salute to the veterans of this nation on their day.

And that was a bad oversight on my part. These brave men and women -- and their families -- are right to believe that their contributions are less appreciated let alone recognized in this nation. Homes have quit flying American flags. Parents and loved ones have quit receiving inquiries from neighbors and friends as to the welfare of their loved ones in harm's way.

The front page of yesterday's New York Times did not even include a story about veterans. What is wrong with them? Every journalist should set aside Veterans Day to prominently celebrate and recognize these men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom to write.

My father and eight uncles served in WWII. My nephew and cousin are in Iraq. Then there are the families left behind who must fend for themselves in the plummeting economy. One quarter of the homeless people in this nation are veterans. Our hospitals and rehab centers are overrun with veterans not receiving good treatment.

Finally, there are the loved ones of those vets who never returned from the war. I am privileged to know many, like Mike and Molly Morrell, Eva Savage, Pam Creager, Patricia Shaw, Ginger Ford and several others who bear Gold Stars for their sacrifice and lifelong grief for their loss.

For veterans here with us and now gone, thank you with all my heart and passion for preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. You make my profession and my welfare possible.

Phil Williams remains the best journalist in TN

If you've been watching NewsChannel 5' Phil Williams ongoing investigation of Davidson County judges appearing to put second jobs and laziness ahead on the needs of the people in justice system, then you've seen again why this guy is the best journalist in Tennessee.

No one else comes close. And his Thursday's installment at 6 p.m. will be a must watch. To look at all those people -- many who can't afford to be away from work -- waiting for hours for these self-serving judges is beyond outrage. And any disciplinary action ever taken against these judges is closed off the public. That's the problem when one profession polices itself.

Perhaps an incoming GOP General Assembly -- of a party that pushes tort reform -- might consider opening up the disciplinary process to the people.

From Williams' series, as so many others, hopefully change will be effected. That the desire of every good journalist, particularly the top one in Tennessee in Williams.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If you don't get out of the stock market, you're in for a lot of pain and another sharp drop

I am saddened for the many people I've met who have lost so much money in the stock market.

The impact has been dire. One fellow writer who also is a doctor has had to get a parttime job -- now as a retiree at 70. He has lost half a million dollars in the market.

There are more such stories that defy demographics. Contributions at the largest Catholic Church in the 11th most affluent county in America where I live are down almost $500,000 year-to-date.

Yet what's worse is that so many people who have lost so much are still leaving their money in the stock market believing some bull market is just over the horizon. It is not, at least not until March 2009.

Until then, the market is going to tumble again, wiping out even more wealth. And if you need that money between now and March, it won't be there to tap.

I still believe the market and Dow will fall below 7,000 points. Yet so many people still are believing all the brokerage firm sham salesmen and women who say to stay put for the long term.

They don't have a long term. They've already made their money off commissions from you to buy into mutual funds. And they continue to get money from the mutual fund companies for the longer they keep your funds hostage.

Get your money out now. Put it in T-bills. Let someone else take the losses, and then put your money back into the stock market at the bottom in March and make some profits. Or better yet, get a certified financial planner who does not make money unless you do.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Choice in Tennessee may well be another casualty in the Republican sweep of the state Legislature

Another prize Republicans won Nov. 4 in Tennessee will be in finally getting a vote of the people to eliminate the broad interpretation of choice the state Supreme Court has held concerning abortion.

That interpretation prohibits legislative actions such as 48-hour waiting periods and the requirement of all later-term abortions be done in a hospital. So advocates have been pushing for a state referendum on reversing the court's interpretation. The referendum would mandate the right to choice in Tennessee be no broader than what is held by the U.S. Supreme Court. And we know that could change any year now.

I have supported such a vote in Tennessee. I do not believe you can deny the desire of enough of the people to vote on a matter -- be it choice or in making English the language of business for a government. It is up to opponents of such changes to mount aggressive and well-financed campaigns to win the public debate.

I believe the same can be done with choice. It is not about anyone being for abortion and babies dying. It is about the sanctity of the doctor/patient relationship and giving a woman all the options available for her health. Statistics show the number of abortions falling as cultural attitudes change. There is no reason to believe that trend will abate if the law of choice stands.

In addition, choice in keeping government out of the doctor's office and one's very personal decisions on his or her health should be a very conservative position to take. And there should be enough Tennessee conservatives supporting that position to make the case to the people.

Remember their cry? Keep government out of our lives!

As a survivor of leukemia so far, I would not want government telling me and my doctor what kind of treatment I can receive.

So look for a resolution to pass both houses in 2009. Passage would be required in 2010, too, with a vote of the people in 2012.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Look to these legislators to preserve progressive values in Tennessee amid severe budget cuts

I've never liked one political party controlling legislative and executive branches.

I supported Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries before Texas and in the general election. I am enthused about the mandate he received Nov. 4.

I'm not as enthused with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They passed the ridiculous bailouts and have a legislative agenda geared more to special interests than real people.

In Tennessee, one political party also controls the same branches, unofficially. Gov. Phil Bredesen -- D- Tennessee-- governs as a Republican except on choice. Now there will be a Republican-controlled General Assembly in January.

So who can we turn to for people who are hurting to protect them from the budget cuts to come? Here are a few people I know. I hope there will be more to step forward.

Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin. She is a former nurse and House member who stood up to Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. She is compassionate. She also helped us fight the TennCare cuts in 2005.

Sen. Doug Jackson, Democrat. He also has a heart and a very intelligent mind. He needs to listen to Frank Buck more.

Sen. Ron Kyl, Democrat.

Sen-elect Michael Stewart, D-Nashville. He was recommended to me by a good friend whom I greatly respect. I've talked to the man. He has a heart for the people of TennCare and education. He took some real unfair knocks from the Nashville Scene.

Sen. Joe Haynes, Democrat from Davidson County. He has the tenure to make a difference. And he married way up.

Rep. Gary Odom, Democrat from Davidson County. He is the House Majority Leader but made it plain he wanted to run against Naifeh for Speaker. That was before Nov. 4. Now his place in House leadership is in doubt. He has spoken up recently for the people on TennCare.

Rep. Ben West, Democrat from Davidson County. I always found him as a man willing to do the right thing, particularly on ethics.

Rep. Henry Fincher, Cookeville. He has a law degree from Harvard University. He is young by legislative standards but has a streak of impressive integrity.

If you have some other names to recommend, I'll post them. They'll need our support in January and beyond. God bless and help them all.

GOP's biggest spoil of its victory here will be in redrawing congressional districts more Republican

For all that Tennessee Democrats lost from the ineptitude of Gray Sasser and Phil Bredesen, the biggest sock in the gut will come when a Republican-controlled legislature redraws congressional districts in Tennessee.

And it will be payback time for a long history of Democrats denying Republicans districts where their candidates could be elected and sent to Washington.

Look for Tennessee's congressional delegation after reapportionment in 2010 to have at least two fewer Democrats or more.

Payback is a bitch. Tom DeLay would be proud.

Could Bredesen bolt for Washington? He'd sure like to leave a sinking ship he steered into the rocks

WKRN political analyst Steve Gill contends that Gov. Phil Bredesen could bolt Tennessee for the Obama administration to avoid a politically difficult budget deficit of $600 million.

Bredesen really does not care to be governor anymore. He has hired a specialist to float his name around Washington for greener pastures. Obama might take the governor in a lesser role in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. But Bredesen was no friend to Obama during the presidential race.

The U.S. Senate is no alternative since Bredesen buddy Bob Corker has one seat and Lamar Alexander just won another six-year term.

Alas, what is a mega-millionaire to do?

It might be better for the most vulnerable in this state if Bredesen does leave. He is simply going to further gut TennCare and other programs geared to helping people in need. State employee numbers will fall dramatically.

"There is going to be blood all over the place," said retiring state Rep. Frank Buck, who served three decades in the General Assembly. "There will be serious, serious trouble."

Buck is right. And the trouble is even going to reach into affluent counties like Williamson. The local share of state aid will have to be cut significantly. That means taxpayers there and across Tennessee will have to pay more for services and their schools. Get ready to pay higher property taxes in the midst of a recession.

As for Bredesen leaving, Buck says he would not be surprised. He calls the governor "selfish" and "self-centered". Rep. Buck is being too kind.

Senate President Ron Ramsey would ascend to the governor's job. But he may not want it. Dr. Bill Frist sure wants it in 2010 so he can run against Obama in 2012. So Tennessee's politics could be in for a wild year. Hold on, everyone.

And Tennessee Republicans may rue the day they got all the power they wanted. The next two years are not going to be good ones for people in elective office forced to cut services and raise taxes during a hard recession.

Who will be Tennessee's next Speaker; six Republicans hold power; Naifeh's not dead yet

The big political question in Tennessee is whom will possess the power of the Speaker in the state House of Representatives.

On Nov. 4, the state Republican Party and former Gov. Don Sundquist successfully captured control of the House by one seat and put the Senate in firm GOP control with a four-seat margin.

Tennessee's Democratic Party leadership -- led by the Dweedle Dumb and Dweedle Dee combo of Gray Sasser and Phil Bredesen -- sent the Dems down in flames legislatively and in the presidential race.

Bredesen, supposedly a Democratic governor, barely mentioned Obama's name during the campaign except to tell him to go to Walmart and learn how to meet regular folks. Tennessee's mega-millionaire-dollar governor -- whose's wife spent $11 million in taxpayer money to build an entertainment center for other elitists under the governor's mansion -- only thumbed his nose at Obama to get notice in the national press.

Meanwhile, that $11 million the governor's wife spent sure could be used now with Tennessee's facing a $600 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year.

Like Sundquist, Bredesen could have used the left over millions in his campaign war chest to funnel money to the campaigns on Democratic legislative candidates and even the Obama campaign here. Instead, he is paying himself back millions of dollars he loaned his campaign from his fortune to run for governor twice. What a profile in courage!

The most honest politician I've ever covered from city councils to the White House -- retiring state Rep. Frank Buck -- said the McCain sweep of Tennessee was worth up to 10 percentage points in legislative races in rural areas.

"The public was tired of Naifeh and his heavy-handedness and his cronies," said Buck, a Dowelltown Democrat, country attorney in the style and integrity of the late Sen. Sam Ervin and a grandfather.

Buck -- who served three decades in the General Assembly as committee chairman and crusader for the people -- had to constantly fight Naifeh over ethics and reducing the power of lobbyists at the Tennessee Statehouse. And he suffered politically for it.

But ol' Naifeh, like a cat with nine lives, may not have to worry about losing his post and his $28,000 a year state trooper bodyguard.

"There have always been six Republicans who have promised to vote for Naifeh if he needed the votes," Buck said. "But they also promised the GOP (House legislative) caucus that they'd support its nominee if Republicans ever got 50 votes. They just never thought that day would come."

Now it has in shock and awe effect. But whether these six Republican legislators will desert Naifeh in his hour of political need is another question, Buck said.

Look for a lot of behind-the-scenes dealmaking up to the second Tuesday in January, when the vote on House Speaker is taken. Naifeh could pull a "Wilder" deal and give half of the House committee chairmanships to the Republicans if the six keep him as speaker, Buck said.

In my opinion, Naifeh also could offer a lot of perks and pork barrel spending, which mean we the people lose -- again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Now what Nashville? Undocumented immigrant charged with murder quickly acquitted of murder

Jose Murillo-Sosa became the poster boy Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall's push to win political points by ratcheting up the hate of immigrants here and bringing the heinous 287g deportation program to Nashville.

Murillo-Sosa was accused of murdering two next-door neighbors in 2006. It was a heinous crime. And Hall jumped on it to say the deportation program was needed to get the criminal elements of immigrants out of Nashville.

But Hall forgot about a very important moral and constitutional matter on his way to scoring political points, along with his supporters U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Murillo-Sosa, despite the color of his skin and accent of his voice, was still considered innocent until proven guilty.

And yesterday, a jury quickly acquitted Murillo-Sosa of murder despite his public defender not putting on one defense witness to counter prosecution claims. That's how poor the case was against this human being. Court testimony also pointed to two particular relatives of these poor murdered people who had access to the home.

So what now Nashville? You bought into a program to further a sheriff's political career based on a lie that a jury of your fellow citizens saw through. And even more of a lie, Sheriff Hall has made his program into one that goes after undocumented immigrants with no criminal record. It destroys families and even tortured a Hispanic mother during labor and after childbirth.

Mayor Karl Dean and Rep. Cooper, both Democrats, have remained silent about this wrong. The Tennessean newspaper has shown no courage or integrity to demand an end to this program.

The immorality of 287g and the growing hate of immigrants represent an overwhelming stench in this city with 1,000 places of worship. And now it has spawned an English only referendum that voters will consider Jan. 22.

Nashville is a place of gross hypocrisy and growing hate -- that a jury thankfully saw through yesterday in acquitting an immigrant human being of murder.

Difficult times still are rich in lessons to learn

I must apologize to the few readers I have for my absence of the past week.

Life brings difficulties, and so I have a new set of such obstacles before me. But these desert experiences still have much to teach and provide the opportunity to hear God more closely.

I hope to continue blogging, but it will not be as frequently. There are much better bloggers out there locally and nationally to read, so you won't me missing much from me.

Still, I will respond to the injustices out there, facing people of all colors, ethnicities, races and classes. A lot of people have wrongly suffered because of the financial markets and politicians.

I will continue to fight, both for you in providing the truth about all sides so you might beware and bring hope back to your lives and those of your loved ones.

Take care. You are always in my thoughts.

CORRECTION: Washington state does not have a state income tax so it is in worst fiscal shape

A reader has rightly corrected me on my contention that Washington state has an income tax.

It does not.

So figures from the Wall Street Journal showing it with the greatest downfall in government tax revenue ahead of Tennessee are representative of two states painted into a fiscal corner for the current budget year.

It is obvious Tennessee needs a state income tax that will reduce the tax burden on two-thirds of this state's residents instead of everyone paying one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation, including on food.

A state income tax with an accompanying reduction in sales tax is fair and fiscally prudent. But with Republicans now in control of both houses, such a change may be politically impossible. And Gov. Bredesen will simply cut programs that address the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Again, thanks to the reader for the correction. And I apologize to each of you for providing wrong information.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MYTHBUSTER: Liberal profs influence students; young adults finally deserve some respect

Today may the moment in U.S. history when young Americans finally get the respect they are due.

If Sen. Barack Obama sweeps to victory, it will be due to an unprecedented participation in the electoral process.

And if they do so, it will be because they have examined both candidates and found one to offer more hope.

An article in today's New York Times also provides a measure of due respect to young people. They fight and die in our wars, including our unjustified ones. They can't drink yet legally, but they can die in an illegal war. Yet these young heroes still are thought to be weak mentally.

The exact opposite is true, mentally and physically.

Today article debunks the myth that liberal professors on college campuses are brainwashing students. Instead, the study shows these young people can very well think for themselves. The conclusion was drawn from a survey of 8,000 college students at 37 institutions of higher learning across the country.

Here is the defining passage from the story:

If there has been a conspiracy among liberal faculty members to influence students, “they’ve done a pretty bad job,” said A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and an author of the new book “Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities” (Brookings Institution Press).

The notion that students are induced to move leftward “is a fantasy,” said Jeremy D. Mayer, another of the book’s authors. When it comes to shaping a young person’s political views, “it is really hard to change the mind of anyone over 15,” said Mr. Mayer, who did extensive research on faculty and students.

“Parents and family are the most important influence,” followed by the news media and peers, he said. “Professors are among the least influential.”

So there you have it, America and the extreme political right. In general, the only thing liberal professors can influence is to encourage young people to consider another side to history, ideologies and people they have never been exposed to.

So parents, if you are worried about your children's politics in particular, then educate them in the truth when they are growing up. Then they can think for themselves in college and everywhere afterwards. And I bet we'll have fewer illegal and unnecessary wars and bailouts of Wall Street fatcats.

Monday, November 3, 2008

There is nothing more to say; go vote for best people; here is my list of who I will be voting for

Thankfully, this mind-numbing nightmare of mostly nonsensical and biased political experts and media outlets of the past two years is almost over.

Please, trust your own common sense, faith and the circumstances in your life and those of your neighbors in casting your vote tomorrow for president, Congress, the state Legislature and state referendums.

And remember, your vote counts.

That point was made to me after I watched HBO's movie "Recount" last night about the Florida vote in 2000.

For me, for the record and not tell you who to vote for, here is how I will be casting my ballot:

PRESIDENT: Sen. Barack Obama. And unoffically his wife, Michelle, who will be the greatest First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.

CONGRESS: Anyone other than Marsha!Marsha!Marsha! Blackburn.

Anyone who would not support House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and Gov. Phil Bredesen -- both Democrats -- in cutting $600 million from the current state budget from programs to help the most vulnerable, particularly those on Tennessee's Medicaid program, TennCare. Tennessee has the worst fiscal situation in the nation, shows statistics from The Wall Street Journal.

NOT IN MY DISTRICT, BUT IF COULD VOTE FOR THEM: State Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin. She is a great lady, a former nurse and helped us fight the governor's TennCare cuts in 2005.

Congressman Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, the only true progressive Democrat in Tennessee running for re-election.

State Sen. Kay Hagan for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina. Incumbent Liddy Dole has run a campaign of hate against immigrants in the state. Morally, she deserves to lose. She, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and their ilk must be routed from the American political system like a virus before more of this nation's citizens are sickened in division, fear and hate of one another.

WISH THEY WERE RUNNING: State Rep. Frank Buck, the most honorable man I have ever covered in politics. He is retiring, after serving as one of the few watchdogs against the powers-that-be in both political parties.

Please vote. And may the best people of both political parties and ideologies (or better, no ideologies) prevail.

May God continue to bless the United States of America through its people who are moved to act for the greater good of us all.