Thursday, November 18, 2010

Congratulations to Beth Harwell

Well, I'm glad she got the nod, both for her sake and that of the party.

Geez...Beth Harwell, Bill Haslam, an even-tempered Ron Ramsey...I don't think I'm going to have much to complain about...really not sure what I will do...

Well, I suppose I'll think of something.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Think Kent Williams Is A Weasel And I Prefer Beth Harwell For Speaker

First things first: I do not know Kent Williams personally. Perhaps on a personal level he's a swell guy. I have no idea. But I also don't care for present purposes, because here's what I do know: Kent Williams, regardless of whatever grand qualities he may otherwise have, is, politically speaking, a weasel.

Whatever his defenders may say about him, the fact remains that he took advantage of a situation to better his personal standing and sold his party colleagues out in the process. This label is overused, but there is no better metaphor for Williams than this guy.

Oh yes, I hear the folks who claim that he saved the House from rampant partisanship, the (largely imagined) terrors of a Speaker Jason Mumpower and so on. Well, look, if he's such a great guy who could do all of these things, he should have put himself out there earlier on making those arguments and let everyone have that debate within the party, you know, kind of like they're doing now. Or, at the very least, he should have tried to form a coalition early on with the Democrats, as John Wilder did. He didn't do any of those things.

Instead, he saw an opening and he took it. I'm sorry, but Kent Williams a weasel and that's that.

I will say that one good thing came out of the Williams interregnum. It was a nice bridge between Democratic dominance of the House and the soon-to-come Republican dominance of the House. Gradual change is often underrated. And, as I suspected might happen, it robbed Democrats (who, ironically, were cheering these events back in January 2009) of a useful unifying political target. Basically, all they ended up getting out of it was a two-year reprieve while the Republicans got ready to take the House outright. Hope they enjoyed it.

All of that said, even though I wish he would shut up about it, Williams' support of Beth Harwell for Speaker of the House does nothing to deter me from hoping she gets the post. She's smart, capable and very, very experienced. Republicans are going to need all of these things because--I don't know if you noticed--we've never done this before. And, yes, I did say "we"--I am a Republican.

We as Republicans and as Tennesseans need a person in the Speaker's Office who can hit the ground running with regard to managing the House. With her quarter-century of experience, I am very confident that Beth Harwell can do that. and, as David Oatney quite properly points out, you are going to have a very conservative House regardless.

Can Glen Casada rise to her level? I don't know. He is my representative, as it happens, but that's the extent of my relationship with him. He seems OK, but I will say that potential speakers of the House need to have more sense than to get themselves involved in garbage like this. That's the kind of thing that gives Republicans like me--and whether you realize it or not, there are many of us--the creeps.

So, I'm pulling for Beth. If Glen wins, well, that's OK too I guess. But he'll have a lot more to prove to people. Let's hope he'll be up to the task. Otherwise, you'll give the Democrats an big enough opening to run a Kent Williams-sized truck through.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Voters

OK, for some reason I'm itching to write on this topic, so some more of my unsolicited opinions on voting and elections:

Every time there's an election, certain folks will look at the turnout numbers and bemoan the lack of participation in the American political process.

"Heavens," they will say. "Only 46% of eligible voters came out to vote. That's terrible! What can we do to get more people voting?"

My answer: nothing. Short of holding a gun to their heads anyway, I guess.

And that's perfectly fine. That's right: it does not bother me a bit that a lot of people do not choose to vote. I'm actually glad that they do not. These folks are obviously uninterested in the political process, which means that if they did actually go to vote, they would have little to no idea what or whom they would be voting for. Why would we want these people voting? They have already self-selected themselves out of the process. Don't interfere!

You know what it means when a lot of people who don't ordinarily vote start coming out to vote? It doesn't mean they've seen the light regarding their duties and privileges as citizens of a free society. It usually just means they're pissed off. Wanting more people to vote basically means wanting a lot of discontented people. Be careful what you wish for!

Nowadays there are ample opportunities to vote for people who want to vote. Early voting, for instance, is extensive, and absentee ballots easy to come by. The people who want to vote are voting. As for the others...well, it's a free country, and they are free to do their own thing. Leave them alone. If they ever want to come to the polls, you'll be the first to know.

Voting 2010

OK, so I voted a couple of days ago. Here's the tally:

Governor: I cast a write-in vote for Phil Bredesen. Three reasons for this:

1. The actual Governor's race is over. Has been over, in fact, for months. I cast my vote in the Republican Primary for Bill Haslam. Since this year the winner of the Republican Primary was going to be the next governor, my work here, so to speak, was already done.

2. I owe it to him
. Seriously. I have always been a big Phil Bredesen fan, but I have yet to cast a vote for him for governor, even though each time I came very close.

1994 -- Come was 1994! Plus I liked him as Nashville's mayor and wanted him to stay there. Selfish of me, I know.

2002 -- Oh God, this was hard. I even got in trouble with some of my Republican friends for saying nice things about Phil Bredesen in the newspaper. But the bottom line was that I was working against the state lottery that year (as I always have to clarify, I have no problem with allowing gambling, but I do have a problem with government-sponsored gambling, especially when the state has a monopoly on it) and it seemed hypocritical to vote for the person who supported the lottery.

2006 -- Second terms for governors in Tennessee tend to be state-income-tax festivals. I voted for Jim Bryson on that basis. I should have known better: there's been nary a peep about a state income tax over the last four years.

Highly principled stands or just lame rationalizations for preserving my GOP bona fides? You be the judge! I'll abstain.

3. He's done a bang-up job. Mark my words: We are going to miss him. Probably sooner rather than later.

Congress -- Marsha Blackburn

TN Senate -- Jack Johnson

TN House -- Glen Casada

That Weird Constitutional Amendment Preserving Hunting and Fishing Rights in Tennessee Even Though It Seems To Me Pretty Much Everyone In The State Goes Around Hunting And Fishing Without Any Real Interference From The Government -- Sure, why not? I'm not much of a hunter or a fisherman--I do my hunting and fishing in the grocery aisle--but I don't have anything against it either. Knock yourself out.

And, that's it. Bring on Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Election "Fraud"

Color me skeptical about most claims of supposed election fraud, especially such "incidents" as the recent alleged ones in Nevada, where the machine somehow magically cast a vote for Harry Reid. Isn't it more likely the case that the voters or voters brushed over his name somehow and the little check mark (or whatever they have over there) then appeared? Yes it is, the same way people are constantly tapping the wrong letters on their iPhones or whatever by accident, resulting in text messages like these: "Mewt me atx 2pM thes afternone."

It's also the case that, as I have said elsewhere, a lot of voters have no idea what they are doing when they vote, especially with these newfangled machines. Frankly, they're kind of dumb about it. I'm not sure why that's such a controversial thing to say. I mean, it has been a standard joke in our world to say that people don't know how to program their VCRs (DVRs now). Why is it such a stretch to suppose that they don't know how to do this either? And, sorry, but I don't have any sympathy for it. For Christ's sake, join the rest of us in the 21st century and learn how to operate the damned voting machine.

This is what I mean when I say that most of these alleged "fraud" issues are really just user error, the election equivalent of calling tech support to find out why the computer isn't working, only to discover during the call that it isn't plugged in.

Bottom line: It's not the system's fault that you have no idea what you're doing. Figure it out. Or else stay home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Am On Twitter!

Yes! I have decided to join the rest of you in 2007 and try this new Twitter thing.

My username is rogerabramson.

Will I "tweet" a lot? Time will tell.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gah! A Mosque!

I have been asked more than once, so here is my answer: It is appalling to me that certain of my fellow Tennesseans have an issue with Muslims who wish to build a church of their own in our state for no other reason that it will be a Muslim institution. (And, yes, that is the sole issue for many.)

This is America. People in America are free to worship whom (or, if you prefer, Whom) they wish, how they wish and where they wish, so long, of course as they did not violate any other person's rights to do the same, or any other personal rights for that matter. This isn't something new: this concept was endorsed by those "Founding Fathers" everyone likes to cite (at least when it's convenient for them).

Part of living in a free society is that you have to tolerate a lot of things that you don't like, in return which you get to do things that other people don't like. If you don't like it, well, as I'm sure you may have aid more than once in your life to someone else when they had some kind of complaint about the way we do things in the good ol' USA: find a better country and move. We won't miss you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now and Then

Me, in April 2004:

"At this stage, only a blind Bush partisan would have absolutely no reservations about our military action in Iraq. I certainly do not align myself with those who insist that America has mired itself in a Vietnam-style "quagmire." (Let's see how things are in another five years before making that particular comparison.) But I do harbor some uneasiness. I am quite disappointed with the Bush administration's seeming reluctance to realize that the failure (thus far) to find weapons of mass destruction is something that gives even hawks like me the willies. Is our intelligence really that faulty? If so, what are we going to do about it? If, on the other hand, there really were WMDs over there at some point (a safe bet in my book), then where are they now? It would be nice if the president would just talk to Americans one evening from the Oval Office and address this issue head-on, but that's apparently too much to ask. Too bad, because silence from the White House on this issue fosters skepticism among the public at large, and I fear that the burden of proof we will have to meet when the next Saddam comes along will be simply unattainable." (Emphasis added.)

Karl Rove, today:

At the time, we in the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past. That was wrong and my mistake: I should have insisted to the president that this was a dagger aimed at his administration's heart. What Democrats started seven years ago left us less united as a nation to confront foreign challenges and overcome America's enemies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"I'm shocked...shocked..."

Watching the Washington types act all flustered about Helen Thomas is pretty funny since it's been pretty obvious to most of us out here in Flyover Country that someone needed to stick a fork into her many moons ago. Note to DC-ers: she was embarrassing even before this little incident.

But no, they gave her a "special front-row seat" and treated her with the utmost respect for no better reason--from what I can tell--than that she's still hanging around, kind of like an ancient half-nutty relative who everyone expects to die in short order but who nevertheless manages to show up on the doorstep every Christmas Eve to embarrass everyone within earshot.

Well, maybe this will bring an end to the charade the White House press corps has been putting on for all of us. That would be a plus.

UPDATE: Drudge: "Helen Sent To Poland." I love it--headline of the month.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vote For Me. I'm Rich But I'm Real.

OK, wait a second...this ad may be the first time many potential Tennessee voters are introduced to your candidate and the first thing you tell them about him is that he is a rich guy? Who thought that was a good idea?

Look, I could see this if his last name was Rockefeller, Kennedy or something like that, but the fact is that most Tennesseans don't know Bill Haslam from Joe Torre. And this is how he's introduced to them?

For the first time, I think Haslam can lose this thing...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Note to Republicans

When it comes to racial issues (and particularly accusations of racism), you are never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never going to win a holier-than-thou contest with Democrats. Ever. Don't even try. It's not entirely fair, I agree. But it's fair in the sort of way the fact that the New York Yankees are usually pretty good is fair: it's a fact of life you have to deal with. So deal with it.

The Trials and Tribulations of an Upstart Challenger

"If I'm going to run against Barbara Boxer, I really need to get a keyboard with an "x" that works."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Presented Without Comment

The question arises: What next? How will the health-care landscape evolve on the heels of Obamacare’s passage? Economic forces provide some clues.

The insurance market will begin to shake up almost immediately, as health-care plans jockey for advantage in advance of the legislation’s full implementation. Insurers will begin pulling out of the individual market, and they will aggressively hike premiums in the small-group market. These consequences are the market’s response to the bill’s new regulations, which effectively prevent insurers from underwriting risk. Insurers are forced to take all comers and, in many cases, they will decide that certain business lines are no longer profitable.

The net result is that two years from now we will likely be looking at an insurance market that has become worse, not better, with premiums higher and more Americans joining the rolls of the uninsured.

Longer term, insurers will begin to consolidate into a handful of very large national carriers backed up by small, state-based plans that try to attract consumers using regional appeal. Health insurance will become a commodity product, one that offers little consumer choice and with benefits that are mostly defined by regulations issued in Washington. Doctors will begin to consolidate their practices into larger groups, or sell their offices to hospitals or large medical chains. That is how physicians will gain leverage on health-insurance plans and take advantage of new reimbursement rules created under the legislation’s Medicare reform.

In the end, there will be only two places for consumers to get health coverage — through a large employer (most likely a union plan) or through the new state-based exchanges. Many large employers with a preponderance of middle-wage employees will move their workers into the exchanges, since the subsidies are richer than the tax exclusion they get through worker-provided coverage. Only employers with sticky union contracts, or those that employ a lot of high-wage workers (e.g., Goldman Sachs) will continue to offer workplace coverage.

Eventually, the federally regulated exchanges will be the only game in town. That was the idea behind Obamacare from the start.

— Scott Gottlieb, a practicing physician, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everyone Can Probably Stop Picking On Walt Baker Now

I think we've got it: Public Figure + Government Contract + Email Comparing a Black Woman to a Chimpanzee = Job Loss + Public Opprobrium.

A few things:

1. I've seen some commenters making assumptions about Baker--whom, incidentally, I've never met--that seem to me far beyond what this email alone would indicate. These are things like (paraphrasing here) "he's a terrible person," "he's a really evil guy" and so forth. Well, I don't think this email necessarily indicates any of those things. Perfectly nice people can have colossal brain farts. Happens all the time. Also, as they say, there really is no accounting for taste.

2. This doesn't mean that the Job Loss + Public Opprobrium is undeserved. You can't be in that particular position and do something like that without having this happen. It was a perfectly and proper outcome given the circumstances. Everyone is prone to brain farts, yes, but everyone is obligated to suppress them when they are acting in positions of responsibility. I'm sure that brain surgeons are prone to brain farts, too. It's part of their job to make sure that they don't happen during surgery.

3. The moral equivalency I'm seeing from some folks--many of whom I very much like--bugs me. Again, the only connection between the George Bush/chimp stuff and the Michelle Obama/chimp stuff is the chimp. It's the (quite obvious) racism that's the difference.

4. Just so we're clear, I'm one of the (apparently few) people who found nothing particularly racially offensive about the Harold Ford/Playboy ad. I thought it was tacky (and, in fact, I believe that this is what really bothered Bob Corker when he criticized it), but not racially offensive. I am also not really prone to finding a racist or racism under every bed. Stuff like this, for instance, strikes me as just plain silly.

5. Another defense I'm seeing is that this email was "political satire." There is no justification to this. The mere inclusion of the wife of the President of the United States does not make it political. In fact, if you really read the email, there's no political statement at all. The message is just this: black woman + chimpanzee = separated at birth.

Which is, of course, the whole point.

Monday, March 8, 2010

George W. Bush Is Not Black

It's true. He really isn't. He's a white guy. That's why comparing him to a chimpanzee is not the same as comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee. As lame and uncreative as the chimp/Bush references were and are (and, really, if you are someone who ever thought those were in the least bit funny or clever, you should really reconsider), there was nothing racially tinged about them. There couldn't have been: he's a white guy.

But this...this is as racially tinged--to put it mildly--as you can get. It's not even a close call: it is a direct slur against a prominent black person's appearance by comparing it with that of a monkey (well, a chimpanzee, technially, but not many peopel know that there's a difference). You think the term "porch monkey" just came out of thin air?

The Bush/chimp comparisons were not offenseve--they were just ignorant. This, though...this one hits far, far below the belt.

Friday, February 19, 2010

True, No?

"Intellectually honest conservatives are homeless."

Agreed. Of course, it is also true, I think, that the more intellectually honest a polictal movement is, the less poltically successful it tends to be. I don't meanthat as an argument against intellectual honesty in politics necessarily, just as an observation of a reality of democracy: most voters don't care nearly as much for honesty as they claim to.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Andrew Sullivan, Speechwriter

Here's Andrew Sullivan's advice to President Obama with regard to the SOTU speech:

What he needs to do is remind Americans of the reason they elected him: to get hard things done.

Good advice, I suppose, except for one problem: there aren't any actual examples of this the president can point to as evidence. What "hard thing" has he actually gotten done? And when his party had a filibuster-proof Congress, no less. What's he going to do if and when there are more Republicans in the House and Senate? Harder things?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


How can Gail Kerr write this column with a straight face? A woman who played Lester to Nashville business' Willie Tyler, in a newspaper whose corporate overlords contributed to the same local business interests?

Of course, the column itself is such drivel, that I guess it doesn't matter. Check this passage:

A well-funded trade union could make a million-dollar television ad buy, saturating the airwaves with lies about a candidate it opposes at the last moment. And candidates would have no control. What if Mr. Green Jeans were running for mayor, promising door-to-door recycling? Here comes the Exxon Co.: "We believe Mr. Green Jeans will be the best environmental steward possible. We endorse him wholeheartedly." Ouch.

"Mr. Green Jeans"? Really? And we're supposed to be saddened that newspapers are dying? Geez...and to think that there are actual journalists out there hurting for employment....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Glenn Beck is a Fruit Loop...

...and so is anyone else who finds Scott Brown's "available" comment regarding his daughters anything worse than mildly awkward.

Everybody knows that it is the God-given right of every father to innocently mortify his daughter at any given opportunity. Either that or it is a congenital affliction. Anyway, anybody who was somehow scandalized by that comment has apparently never been to a wedding. Fathers of daughters do dopey stuff like this all of the time. It;s how they cope with their daughters growing up. Get over it.

Headline: Southern Baptist Convention Comes to Town

Dateline: July 8, 2017

NASHVILLE -- As it has for so many years, the Southern Baptist Convention came to Nashville to do whatever it is that giant Protestant organizations do when they convene. Usually there's a lot of fuss about rules, by-laws and so forth and, well, let's face it, unless you are yourself a Southern Baptist, you probably don't really care about that sort of thing.

The real news here is the city's unbelievable foresight seven years ago when it approved the beautiful, gorgeous and just plain kick-ass "Music City Center," without which the Southern Baptist Convention would have stopped gathering in Nashville and would have instead gathered's a little difficult to say really. Atlanta? Possibly. New Orleans? No, that doesn't seem right. Miami? Er, doubtful. Well, never mind. Suffice it to say that they would have gone somewhere else and that would not have been a good thing, especially for our local restaurateurs.

"We are of course very excited to have the Southern Baptist Convention back in town," said Mayor Randy Rayburn, elected to office in 2015 because people in Green Hills think he's just the swellest sort of chap, plus the $25,000 contribution from the powers-that-be at then-Gannett-owned-but-now-SouthComm-subsidiaryTennessean didn't hurt either. "I can speak from my own vast professional experience as a restaurant owner when I say that local bartenders relish the arrival of thousands of complete teetotalers to our fair city. Nothing says 'big fat tip' for a bartender like a round of Diet Cokes for everyone."

The convention will be a week-long affair, after which Music City Center staffers face a quick turnaround to host the National Athletic Shoelace Association (NASS) meeting, which begins next Monday and will feature 2008 Republican Vice-Presdential candidate Sarah Palin as its keynote speaker.

"We're pretty excited about coming to Nashville," said NASS chairman William Johnston. "I'll have to say, were it not for the Music City Center, I don't think we would have ever landed someone like Sarah Palin for our keynote address. It goes without saying that our members are very excited."

Despite this excitement, sources say that this may be the last-ever convention NASS will have, inasmuch as it has started to occur to many people in the industry that big national conventions are basically a colossal waste of time and money in this technological day and age.

"Yeah, this will probably be the last one for me, even if they do continue with it in the future," said Ronald Thomas, a shoelace salesman based in Denver, Colorado. "I don't really need to see any of these people. I talk to them all of the time, everyday. What am I going to do? Hand-deliver a crate of shoelaces to them or something? I'm just not sure it's worth it anymore. I mean, I guess I do get some swag--my five-year old will love the Lacey Lion stuffed toy they put in our goodie bags--but beyond that, who cares?"

In other related news, the lawsuit between the city and the various contractors hired to build the Music City Center continues apace, as the contractors refuse to take responsibility for cost overruns, instead blaming "Metro bureaucratic sloth" for the problems.

"When we approved this thing, it was clear to everyone that these contractors would be 'on the hook' for any cost overruns with the project," said Mayor Rayburn. "I mean, it was in writing and everything. Seriously, who could have predicted that a major government project would result in a problem like this? Well, we're doing the very best we can under the circumstances."


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts Fun

5:33 PM -- They don't have any exit polls? Why? Did this election just sneak up on everyone?

5:58 PM -- Oh, of course, it's all about the "angry white guy" vote. Right. Because that group makes a majority.

6:04 PM -- Everybody's ripping on Coakley for coasting early on, but if you were the Democratic nominee in Massachusetts, wouldn't you have coasted too?

6:06 PM -- Look! A map:

6:43 PM -- Everything is officially perfect again in Grayson County, Kentucky now that the Ten Commandments are back up.

6:47 PM -- Unemployment rate in Grayson County: 15.8%.

7:23 PM -- Barack Obama was inaugurated a year ago tomorrow. Just saying.

7:29 PM -- "You know what's going to happen."

7:48 PM -- This is over, seems to me anyway. Seriously, if I were a Democrat I'd be pissed. How have they managed to screw this up? Virginia, sure. New Jersey, well, you can kind of see that, too. Too expensive and Corzine was a slimeball. But Massachusetts? This would be like Republicans losing a Senate seat in Utah. Pathetic. But, hey, there's always those four Nobel Peace Prizes!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Clay Risen Slanders Nashville

So The Atlantic's Clay Risen makes his "annual trek home" to Nashville, which is, by his lights anyway, "a surprisingly cool town."

He writes about something called Bacon Bourbon, which I have no opinion about. What did catch my eye was his derogatory mention of the first "tea party" convention that will be held in Nashville and this final passage:

Assuming the fad for all things bacon continues, expect to see more bars offering their own meat-infused potables in 2010. And then for once, maybe Nashville can be at the head of the pack for something other than right-wing loonies.

You know what bugs me about this? It's not the fact that he takes a cheap (and trite) shot at "tea party" people. I don't care about that. The problem for me is that here is someone who is apparently a Nashville native (or close to it) offering up an inaccurate impression of Nashville to his national (and generally--since we're talking about The Atlantic here--urbanite, cosmopolitan, politically center-left) audience. Politically speaking, Nashville is not Tennessee. It's much more like Austin, Texas: a very blue island in the middle of a giant red sea.

Take a look.

But you wouldn't know this from reading Risen's post. The takeaway from that for the average Atlantic reader is that Nashville is some bastion of right-wingerism (i.e., like the south overall), just because it's hosting some dippy convention. And I don't think that's fair. To Nashville or Atlantic readers.