Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More money then........

Lets just say you had over a thousand bucks burning a hole in your pocket and you have a hankering to buy some fine art for your abode. You might get a signed copy, sketch or etching by such artists as Picasso, Warhol even a Chagall or Renoir if you find the right deal.

Or you could hold out. Save your pennies, nickles and dimes. Then, if you are lucky, maybe....just maybe, you might win an original by Jackie Broyles



Who won this coveted auction?
According to an unconfirmed report, a consortium of investors led by Tennessee center for policy research president Drew Johnson has purchased
one of the most important works of art in recent history: The Fred
Thompson portrait by Jackie Broyles that has hung on the set of Red state update





Good to see looking at government waste all day has not ruined Drews eye for fine art.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The presidential primary

I have been getting asked a lot who am I going to endorse for the primary now that Fred is out of the race. I voted very early and it was for the most conservative candidate I could find. Take that how you will.

All the candidates left have positives and negatives. Here is my run down.

Fred

I honestly thought Fred would do better then he did. I hear internal campaign struggles, bad early showing and being shut out by the MSM set him back. The more he did and the more he spoke the better he did. There is still some who hold out hope for a brokered convention or a VP slot. In my opinion that is most likely with a Phil or an Al Gore VP pick up by the dem candidate (Most likely to happen with Obama). That would put Tennessee in play and would require a pick up of someone like Fred (or a Frist)to pull the state back solidly in to the R column.

Ron Paul

I agree with Ron Paul on many issues. Many issues. One of the few raps I have on Ron Paul is can he win? I don't think he showed up early enough (as in the early primary states) to get traction. His detractors have been as vocal as his supporters and I think his negatives are too high this late to win.

Mike Huckabee

Good on social issues, questionable on fiscal issues. Ran a creative campaign early and is probably our best speaker. He could get a small bump from Fred's dropping out. I hear his numbers are good in Tennessee and the evangelicals love him. Some late gaffs, questionable immigration stances and diminished finishes in later states (not to mention talk radio taking a hatchet to Mike) has weakened him. I don't think he is out of it but he needs a little more to go his way.

John McCain

What can I say. I thought he was toast early but the war hero fought back and is in the mix. His two strengths are the war on terror and hitting Republicans. From illegal immigration, free speech, the gang of 14, against the Bush tax cuts (I am sure you know he rest). I think his early victories were helped by open primaries. That may not last much longer. He has a lot of more moderate republican support. He will make a conservative cringe to push the button for him in a primary. One thing for him though is he has a lot of cross over appeal and could be a strong general election candidate. Many in Tennessee feel he is Fred's best hope for a VP slot.

Rudy

Was the talk of the town early but has faded as scandal and a closer look at his record (public and private) came into view. Yes, I feel he would be great on the war on terror but the Pro choice stance is one I and many others can not hold my nose for. It would be as if a candidate was great on all the other issues but was pro slavery. That one issue trumps the rest. He could have killed off McCain if he had stoped him from his early win but he let him win and now McCain has won over Rudys voters. Not good campaign strategy. If he were to win the primary now it would be because he won all the states that would probably swing to a democrat in a general. I think it would lead to the worst general election beating since Reagan's second run for re election to the presidency. It would also divide the base of the party.

Romney

Sort of good on all the issues. Not perfect or super strong, but good enough. His religion is not an issue to me. Has proven he can win over Democrats. Has support from both wings of the republican party. He has (In part due to his personal success) set up organizations in many states. He will have the cubic dollars needed to to advertise and be competitive on super Tuesday. He showed up when he needed to, is helped a little by Fred dropping out and short of a collapse should do well on super Tuesday. Should that hold true he will be difficult to beat after then. Not that he is super conservative but I think he is the conservative Republicans best hope to win the primary.

I never put much stock in endorsement. I usually do my own research. I bet most of the people who read political blogs and keep up with the news have their own opinion and will vote based on that any way but for what its worth I will be endorsing Romney.

Update of info

For the number crunchers out there here is some info from the fiscal review committee.

Governor's mansion update

Commissioner Goetz and the State Building Commission appeared before Fiscal Review to allow the committee to ask questions about the improvements planned for the Governor's residence. Following is a breakdown of the dollars spent or/planned to be spent:

State: $3,445,369
Bonds: $9,379,631
Other: $6,400,000

TOTAL: $19,225,000 (Tennessee Residence Foundation gifts total $6,400,000 and State funding totals $12,825,000)

There are three different projects:

Improvements to the mansion
Building of Conservation Hall (the underground facility)
Road and ADA Access to Conservation Hall




TennCare reserves update

The TennCare program has accumulated substantial surpluses over the past two fiscal years. The two-year total of these surpluses is $869.6 million in state dollars. (This does not include interest earnings as those are not retained by TennCare. They are included in the Treasurer's earnings.)

Here is a breakdown of where the surplus is to be allocated:

$341.7 million to TennCare Reserves
100 million to rainy day fund
104.4 million to general fund
80 million to essential access hospitals
25 million to AccessTN reserve
5 million to Cover TN
5 million for equipment upgrade at safety net hospitals

$216 million is unappropriated but is available to close the anticipated state budget gap at the end of the FY08 and is presumably being held for that purpose


Hat tip: Rep.Donna Rowland

The love boat cruise

The state of the state had some good, some bad and some funny points last night.

Education testing scores for are up. Of course this is a huge overview but it showed some hope. One issue I and other legislators had is the governor now wants to remove the testing standards for our children. People have to wonder why.

One of the first funny points of the night was When the Phil was talking about the wonders of pre K, Bill Dunn began to hold up and shake the governors own report on Pre K. Now when these reports are made they are usually a "flacks only need apply" type job. They reports usually cost millions and end up saying what ever the governor wants them to say. Not so for this report. The results for pre K? Testing scores went DOWN for kids who went to pre K! Now he wants to expand the program. Doesn't he care about the children?

Another funny point came when the Phil started to talk about education and "Needs based" Funding. This is funding that says if you are poor you are less intelligent and can't learn. It says that access will equil success (I think the study on pre K will tell that tale but any way).

Here is what Phil said when talking about pre K last night.

Let me address one issue head on. I have followed some of the discussion about halting the further funding of pre-K insofar as it serves any children other than the poor, the so-called “at-risk” students. This would be a terrible mistake, and I ask those of you who are espousing this to reconsider.

How do you say to a middle class family with children in the public schools: “Yes you pay taxes for these classrooms; yes, they are public schools; but no, those classrooms aren’t open to your children?”

I hope to live to see the day when we stop dividing our children up into poor and rich. These are all God’s children, these are all America’s and Tennessee’s children; we run the schools, they are public schools, they are a public responsibility, they need to be open to the public.


OK, he is against needs based standards for education right?

Not 60 seconds later he said this.....

The budget that I am proposing also contains two changes to the lottery scholarship program. I believe in the merit concept behind the Hope scholarships.......

And then the big but.

.......I have proposed in this budget that we take about half of the unallocated lottery reserves, $200 million specifically, and use it to establish an endowment for TSAC. Between the earnings from this endowment and a small additional appropriation from the annual lottery surplus, we will be able to assist financially another 12-15,000 deserving and hard-working Tennessee students to earn a college education.

That is a NEEDS BASED PROGRAM!! The conservatives over where I sit were about rolling out! A classic Flip flop in the same speech! Got to love it!

Of course many of the people who are lawyers in the legislators do not think it is even constitutional. I am sure Phil will get an AGs opinion to say what ever he wants but this one is going to be tough as to how they can legally make it fit in what is allowed. We will see.

Some of us chuckled again about the idea of Phil pushing to take drivers licences away from drunk drivers. While a good idea, With the number of run ins with the law involving alcohol and democrat legislators this last year I think Phil may want to put aside some money for legislator bus fairs so he will have the votes to pass the rest of his agenda.

Sen. Diane Black noticed how an idea she has been pushing for at least 4 years (senior choice for at home care)was lifted by the Governor.

Many people laughed as the governor tried to tell a sob story of his mother only being able to stay at home because Phil had a daughter who took care of her.
Phil is worth $300 MILLION. What? He couldn't afford any help? We rolled at that one too.

Any way, it is a good idea.

Many legislators I gathered with last night noticed what was not in the speech.

Nothing at all on working to stop illegal immigration.

Nothing to help fight or lock up the child predators. Even the ones that are in our own schools.

Government employees got a raise. Some people got huge pay raises but the most broad based raise you could give to all Tennesseans would be to cut a tax that every Tennessean pays. The sales tax on food. Nothing about cutting the sales tax on food (or any tax) was mentioned. Even though we have almost the same amount of money we had last year (with the almost two billion dollar surplus). I guess the people building the 20 million dollar party bunker come first.

Phil for another year used the boat analogy. I think it is turning into another episode of "The love boat". The rich friends of Phil get a fun trip around sunny places, none of the important issues to the people of Tennessee ever gets discussed, we wonder around lost at sea and we only see port after eight years.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Huck and me

Although I have not made any endorsement of a currently running presidential candidate I went to a reception to meet Mike Huckabee. He was nice and went around the room and shook hands and talked to everyone a little then gave a stump speech. After the speech the Governor opened it up to questions. I asked one, it was along the lines of

Governor, you have been taking some heat lately over some controversial things you have said along the lines of the constitution being a "living, breathing document". These are the same words used by liberals and activist judges to twist the constitution to mean what ever they want. I, as a conservative, cringe when I hear these words. Are you backing away from these comments or were they taken out of context? Please explain.

His response was along the lines of

It was taken out of context. I was talking about two possible amendments to the constitution one to protect the definition of marriage, one to allow for the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Both would be done through constitutional amendments as is allowed by the constitution. we have done 27 or so amendments to the constitution. To do away with slavery, to allow women to vote and such. I think judges should only interpret the meaning of the constitution as it was written by our founders. Any judge that does more then that shouldn't be a judge.

Oh how quickly we forget

From Phil's own mouth

Funding is important. But my proposal is about more than just new revenue for schools. “Schools First” is also about raising standards and expectations throughout our education system – particularly in our high schools and colleges.

Every school system has students for whom we have both legal and moral obligations to give additional help; the shorthand description of such students is “at-risk.” Let me stop here a moment and say this: I dislike the term “at-risk” because, No. 1, I believe it oversimplifies the issue and, No. 2, I believe that in fact every child is “at-risk.” ...... we need to raise standards and expectations, not just for the college-bound but for everyone.

Second, something I believe - something I've learned as a father - is that children are very good at responding to expectations. If we set them low, they respond low, if we set them high they respond in kind. I spoke at my inaugural about wanting Tennesseans to expect and demand more; what better place to start than with our schools and the children they teach. We need to raise standards and expectations in our school systems.




The constitutional questions also abound as to if needs based is even legal. When we passed the lottery it was supposed to mirror the Georgia system at a date certain. There was no need based component in the Georgia system when our bill passed. The things the lottery money were allowed for do not include any grant or program like what the Governor is purposing.

"Pass the trash" bill gets national attention

The "Pass the trash bill" that I proposed last year (that was killed in the Democrat controlled education committee) is now getting national attention. A national AP story on the size of the problem brought the issue to many legislatures forefront. From today's Tennessean article.

Several states are tackling a major problem — the loopholes that allow problem teachers to move from one school district to another, or from one state to another.

The AP investigation found that what education officials commonly call "passing the trash" happens when districts allow a teacher to quietly leave a school, or fail to report problems to state authorities, or fail to check with state authorities before hiring a teacher, among other glitches.

In eight states, legislators are pursuing changes to close those gaps: California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Washington state and West Virginia.


It is a shame for this states children that Tennessee has already looked at the problem and sided with the predators.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"The Voice "comes back

Monday "The Voice" hosted by Lloyd Daugherty will be coming back on to the radio waves in Knoxville on AM 1040 from 10AM till 12. New? face Frank Cagle will join Kelvin "Moxie" Moxley and a host of regular/irregular characters.

Should be fun.

Rules for comments

I have not needed to re post my rules for comments in a while but some people think the inmates run the asylum. Not going to happen. Here they are again.

Rules for comments


It is my blog so I will put up or take down what ever I want. That includes comments. If you are just coming here to pimp your website or shift the conversation to your pet topic, disparage something or someone with outrageous accusations, save it. Odds are it won't go up.

I don't mind dissenting opinion but keep it clean, respectful and on topic.

If all you have is insults, or you like to go overboard, save it and put them on your blog.

If you go overboard I won't add to your comment but I may edit out what is excessively offensive and put up the rest. I have only done this once. I warned the person about their content and posted that I edited the comment. The next time they did it I did not put the comments up. If you can not control yourself I will ban you.

Constructive criticism is welcome on bills I am talking about.

If you want it to be off the record let me know and I wont put it up. Better yet, just E mail me.

If you want to crack on my spelling, grammar or other things that I am sure drives the seventh grade English teacher in you crazy, go ahead, I am not offended and some times I appreciate it. I may correct my errors, or not, but if that is all you got, odds are it won't go up.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

If it is tougher then why do away with the exams?

I guess the education establishment is tired of having shoddy work exposed. Now they say they are going to do away the exam that shows proficiency or lack there of. I wonder if they laugh to themselves as they say this is going to raise the quality. I guess when you remove all scoring every student can be an A student.

Wife beaters, drunks, theives and adulterers

Yea, I had to groan at that one too. Good to know we got the best of the best in the state house.

Why the party bunker hurts Tennessee

This letter is a perfect example of how bad selfish choices hurt people. When the state spend money on a party bunker and big pay raises it is the little people who feel it the most.

"I am from the federal government and I am here to help"

The words most feared by about any person. Now the federal government is coming to Tennessee to try and help Phil push toll roads. Toll roads that the community does not even want.

From the article....

State Rep. Mike Turner, a Democrat from Old Hickory, said that there was little support for Hadley Bend project in his district. Homes in Madison would have to be demolished for the roadway, he said, and residents of Old Hickory weren't interested in the construction headaches and blasting it would require.

"We had a couple of public meetings, and there just wasn't support for it," he said.


Kudos to Rep. Mike Turner for listening to his constituents on this issue.

I think we can all play connect the dots and guess who does want toll roads and why.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why the law does not work

I did an interview with channel 6 on why our laws on illegal immigration that we just passed last year do not work. You can read it or check the video link from the attachment.

Forgiveness

I have been thinking about forgiveness lately and what it means to forgive someone. There are many people in life that I have met, interacted with, done business with. Some that I have cared deeply about, some that I did not know that well that have made mistakes in life and asked forgiveness of me. Some broke laws, some did things that were directly against me, some were indirectly against me and some that hurt people I know or care about.

Asking forgiveness when you wrong someone is a sign of character. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. We all fall short in the eyes of the lord. Asking forgiveness is part of any good 12 step recovery program. I think and hope that the people who reach this step make it through and have success in their personal recovery.

To personally forgive someone takes some work also. It too shows character.

I have read many things in the bible and elsewhere to; turn the other cheek, forgive 7x77 times, walk a mile in someone else's shoes, to forgive is Davine etc.

All are wise and good.

In some cases, for me it is easy to forgive personally, but there is a difference between forgiveness and foolishness or blindness to a problem. On the legal/business side, If asking forgiveness is all that were necessary then we have little need for laws or jails, as most criminals would say they are sorry and ask forgiveness when caught to avoid the penalty. Some criminals might even mean it. Criminal behavior should be cut and dry. Do the crime, do the time.

Similarly, knowingly screwing up your job, compromising others, endanger the people or company you work for through your own negligence, you should expect to be fired. I can forgive the personal transgression but I am also able to compartmentalize and do what needs to be done for the good of the business or the state/law.

I hearken back to the story of a top NFL player on a winning team being asked about his coach. The player gushed on and on about what a great guy his coach was, what an outstanding person he was, how well he treated people, on and on. After a while, one reporter asked the player if he would feel the same about his coach if his team was 2-12. The player shot back.

"Yes I would.....I would miss him too."


It is not wrong or impossible to care about and forgive someone for a transgression yet still feel that they should not be put back in a situation they have compromised because of their own transgression. No matter how sorry they are.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who should make the laws???

That is what the entire constitutional amendment is about. Who should make the laws about abortion? Should it be the state legislature or should it be the courts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fun quiz

My mom sent me this quiz for presidential politics. It was pretty close on who I would vote for, only the top pick was off. Actually the top pick was WAY off but the rest were about spot on.

Sexy ed

Mark Rose has a good post on the "important topics for education" being taught in public schools and the lawsuits that are created from that teaching.

Just one more reason the state schools need to stay away from teaching sexuality in the classroom.

One business, 35 years and still making a killing

Planned parenthood is celebrating 35 years of killing babies. They must be so proud. In Tennessee the numbers are slightly down over a few years ago because, at least in part, the number of abortion clinics is down. This Tennessean article has the details.

You are not hearing news stories of the dreaded back ally coat hanger abortions that the left always tries to trot out and say will be the case with the reduction of abortion clinics or any simple regulations.

The facts speak volumes. The states with the most liberal abortion laws and the most access to abortions (also blue states) have the most abortions. The opposite is true at the other end of the scale.

ABORTION RATES IN 2005
States and regions with highest rates
(Per 1,000 women aged 15-44)
1. District of Columbia ? 54.2
2. New York ? 38.2
3. New Jersey ? 34.3
4. Maryland ? 31.5
5. Delaware ? 28.8

States with lowest rates
1. Wyoming ? 0.7
2. Kentucky ? 4.4
3. Mississippi ? 4.9
4. South Dakota ? 5.1
5. Idaho ? 6.1

25th highest
Tennessee ? 14.4

SOURCE: Guttmacher Institute


I think most people will be able to make the logical leap that reasonable regulation and limiting a negative resource reduces the number of killings.

I was reminded yesterday of a great quote said by Donate in his famous book "The Divine Comedy" hundreds of years ago.

"The Hottest Places In Hell Are Reserved for Those Who in A Period Of Moral Crises Maintain Their Neutrality"

How many legislators will refuse to stand up for allowing the state to make any reasonable regulations on abortion? How many say they are pro life? How many of them claim to be preachers or that they are deeply religious? When the rubber hits the road and SJR127 comes up this year we will see who talks the talk and who walks the walk.

Why check?

Businesses that may hire illegals are not using a database that would easily verify immigration status. Why? These comments from the KNS article could be quite telling.

Of Tennessee's 117,903 private employers, 543 have registered to use E-Verify, according to numbers released Jan. 12 by the Department of Homeland Security.....

.....Another possibility is that some employers "really don't want the answers it may give. They've got illegal workers. If an employer can say they don't know, they don't have to act," Vaughan said.

Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, believes E-Verify participation is limited because it isn't mandatory.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Democrats start blog, Copy bill

The Tennessee Democrats have started a blog. This is about their fourth or fifth attempt (the gov. started one and I know of at least one senator that did as well) I am not quite sure if it is a real blog since it doesn't allow comments. Most of the others didn't allow comments either and posting was sporadic (Possibly the problem?) but I wish them well on this attempt. Now, on with the show...

I find it interesting that the big thing they are touting is a copy of a Republican bill from last year. At least I am not the only one they copy.

Once again I think it is good when the Democrats follow Republican lead. Now all we have to do is cut out the Democrat middle man by putting Republicans in control and we could have passed this bill last year.

In case you forgot

It is MLK day.

Always a good quote.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus
but a molder of consensus. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

The battle continues

Tom Humphreys has a Knoxville News Sentinel story on the continuing battle over the Bredesen Underground party bunker.

This project at this time has got to be about the biggest boondoggle idea since "The children's interactive broccoli museum".

Could this "bunker to nowhere" turn into the issue of the year? Time will tell, but several legislators are definitely talking about it. Is this another "Lay down in the tracks" issue like stopping any cut of the sales tax on food was last year for Democrats?

Pay raises and a party bunker. How many seats will that be good for?

Gray Sasser please call the Democrat party

After reading this Tennessean article about electing a Lt. Governor it is obvious that Gray Sasser didn't get the Democrat playbook.

"This benefits the political landscape," said Gray Sasser, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. "When you elect someone rather than appoint someone, they are more accountable to voters and citizens."

Although this obviously only came up because a Republican finally took over I am not against it. I agree with Gray on this issue. So please tell Gray to get on the phone and tell the other Democrats to change how they all voted against

1. Allowing communities to vote for an elected school superintendent if they want.

2. Allowing state judges to be really voted on not the crappy yes/no vote system.

3 Allow other positions to be added to this debate for elected state wide office like comptroller, attorney general, revenue commissioner or how bout speaker of the house?

After all ""When you elect someone rather than appoint someone, they are more accountable to voters and citizens."

New candidate time

I have been calling around the state and talking to some prospective candidates about running for office in the state house. One candidate already has her website up.. For what ever its worth I am going to try and give every new Republican candidate at least a link on my blog. Three qualifiers will be

1. You intend to vote for Republican leadership.

2. You are pro life.

3. You aren't running against me. :-)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The sex bill

Some people have noticed a bill I have introduced regarding what should not be taught in our schools. Some people have tried to paint it as anti gay. It is not.

I do not think that classes on sexuality should be taught to children under the eighth grade no matter what direction it goes. Our schools need to concentrate on the basics; Reading, writing, arithmetic, history, science. The topics of sexual orientation are topics best left to parents and guardians. They should be the ones who decide what and when those issues are appropriate to discuss. Not schools.

The reason I allowed terms referring to heterosexuality is two fold.

First, Without allowing the teaching of heterosexuality then you could not teach any biology of sexual reproduction.

Second, Without allowing reference to heterosexuality then I am sure some group would sue the state and say that we can no longer teach "Jack and Jill went up the hill" or how George and Martha Washington were husband and wife because they would say it promotes heterosexuality. You may laugh but these type of things are already hapening in some states.

I have already been hearing from some people and GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) groups who say this bill needs to be stopped.

Odd, I thought most of those groups wanted to keep the government out of the bedroom. Now, when government want to keep the bedroom out of the classroom the same groups freak out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rep Mike Bell on how to help stop the illegal problem



A good point.

What human rights?

Could this in Tennessee turn into this from Canada?

This is what happens when the PC police are put in power.

I love this guys point of view on free speech. The entire series of videos is worth the time (about ten minutes). With speech codes and hate crimes legislation on the rise the thought of this in the US or even Tennessee is not a far off possibility.

This should be mandatory viewing for all HRC groups and those who scream and run to the courts when they don't like another persons point of view. It is so good I am putting the other links up here so you can all view it with the greatest of ease.

What is intent?



I don't answer to the state.



You are entitled to my opinion.



Reasonable limits of free speech



How decisions are made.



Closing arguments

Why did they get the job?

Lobbyist, lobbyist, Who wants to be a lobbyist? People with close ties governors and top ranking legislators seem to get all the plumb jobs.

From the scene article...


“Jimmy Naifeh doesn’t have to announce to the members of the legislature what bills his wife is working on,” this lobbyist says. “Everyone already knows. I’ve had legislators tell me that they were afraid to vote against Betty Anderson’s bills because of her relationship with Jimmy. AT&T made a conscious decision to hire Betty. They knew what they were getting for it.”

Quote of the day

Bill Hobbs finds the quote of the day.

Writer Garrett Varner of Franklin says, "Perhaps the biggest irony is that a project so blatantly wasteful of taxpayer money is to be named 'Conservation Hall'."

Well said.

I was going to comment on the soft penalty of Ward "It was just a gratuity" Crutchfield but these people did a better job then I could.

Does any one else wonder why he was given a softer sentence because of his age? Isn't that age discrimination?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another idea grows legs

Good to see I have come up with another idea that others have seen fit to take as their own. Once again I am glad I was able to help.

Mo' taxes, Mo' problems

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Last year with huge surpluses Phil and the boys decided to bust the Copeland spending cap and raise taxes.

Now guess what? Revenue is down and we have a shortfall. I guess the plan of having revenue agents busting Tennesseans for purchasing a legal product in another state didn't work out as well as planned.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hit the wayback machine Doctor Woopie

My brother sent me a memory from my youth this morning. A link to a recap of a New Jersey amusement park my family visited in between the parks lawsuits and eventual closings. Action park (A.K.A. Traction park) was all this and more. Every crazy idea, every dangerous toy and bad idea that kids wanted to play with and do. As a kid I was shocked but over joyed that my parents actually took us. Now looking back I have to wonder about the possible "real reason" they took us.


This past summer, Action Park, a water park in the hills of northern New Jersey, reopened with new owners and a new name--Mountain Creek--after a year of inactivity. The new owners insisted that Mountain Creek was safe and fun for the whole family. Many applauded this event. I, however, wept a silent tear, for an institution from my youth that toughened many a kid was no more.

Action Park must have been designed by a Specially Assembled Council of Terrible Ideas. Part of its attraction was not knowing if you would leave the joint alive. Nearly every July, someone would drown in the wave pool or be killed in a freak go-kart accident. Action Park was less a water park and more a complete insult to the evolutionary concept of self-preservation. And yet, despite all the danger, we kids kept going back, tempting fate like Russian-roulette-players.

Action Park's character was defined by the fact that it was situated on the side of Mount Vernon. Not only was it impossibly hilly, it was set almost entirely on concrete and asphalt. So while you shuffled up a 45-degree incline from one whiplash-inducing water slide to the next, you ran barefoot over sole-scorching surfaces and hoped a sudden spurt of friction didn't send your toes crunching under your own feet. And God help you if you were going downhill and there wasn't a bale of hay or little girl to slow your roll.

No amusement park that exists today is as labor intensive as Action Park was. About half of its rides forced the participants to get their own tube or sled at the bottom of a hill from the hands of dazed folks who had just completed their run. This was not easy to do, because the people who had just finished their ride would stumble off in a blind stupor, completely confused and not assured of their place in the universe. Once you got the required equipment, you then had to haul it up several hundred vertical feet to the starting point. You could come home from Action Park having lost 10 pounds of sweat.

The very first ride you saw when you entered Action Park involved a sled and a ramp of metal rollers. You slid down on your sled across the metal rollers, reaching speeds of roughly 300 miles an hour, and skipped thirty feet across the surface of a very shallow pool. The metal-roller ramps had no guardrails on them, so there was always a possibility that you would veer off to the side and fall very quickly into two feet of water. And since there were four metal-roller ramps emptying into this pool in tandem, snarls of sled collisions were constantly occurring, making it look like the Cross Bronx Expressway on a Friday night.

The Colorado River Ride was a water slide involving huge inner tubes that could fit seven people. It tried to approximate a mountain rapid, with lots of bumps and obstacles and so forth. But the most dangerous part of it was the fact that the borders that kept the tubes on the course were criminally short. And just off to the side of the Colorado River Ride was a steep tree-and-pricker-bush-lined hill. It was the perfect demonstration of the Action Park philosophy: Put seven people in a large inner tube, push them down a wet slide, and let the laws of physics handle the rest. People would gather around to watch folks scream their way down, cheering and hoping that a tube would hop the barrier and go careening down the side of the hill. When a large family would come close to flying away, the whole crowd would gasp and then sigh in disappointment, like the audience at the Indy 500 when the Tide car just narrowly misses hitting the Pepsi car and exploding in a beautiful orange ball of flame.

There was an underground slide called the Cannonball, that in theory was supposed to send you hurtling through a tube and into a vat of freezing cold swamp water (for some reason, small portions of Action Park were constructed to involve pools of natural standing water, which were little more than love nests for fungi). In practice, however, the Cannonball usually had too much friction to launch you out into the water like it should have. I found this out the hard way, when I rode it and found myself losing momentum slowly until I came to a complete stop just at the end of the tube. As I sat at the end with my feet dangling ten feet off the surface of the swamp water, I heard the screams of the person behind me getting closer and closer. I quickly hopped my ass off to the side, narrowly escaping being punted in the spine.

Action Park made a valiant stab at appealing to the non-death-loving, but failed miserably. It had an oasis-type area, which was a fake palm tree-lined pool with a concrete beach, where more skittish visitors could splash and romp in peace and quiet. However, situated right above this oasis-type-area was a twenty-foot cliff that people were allowed to dive off of. This configuration endangered both the brave and non-brave alike, since at any moment someone could missile themselves off the crevasse and land on an 8-year-old's head. What is even more amazing is that the cliff above the oasis-type area used to have a water slide. So just in case jumping off a cliff wasn't insane enough for you, you could be launched at turbo speed, tilt ass over tea kettle, and break your skull landing on jagged rocks. Yes, with typical Action Park-logic, the oasis-type area had lots and lots of jagged rocks.

One feature of Action Park, more than any other, indicated that the owners of the place were not merely stupid, but probably homicidal maniacs. For years, situated tantalizingly far away from most of the water park, was an unfinished water slide. This slide consisted of a tube that started a good fifty feet in the air, and turned itself into a 360-degree loop before continuing its descent. Any sane mind would consider the flexibility of the human body, crumple up their blueprints, and start all over. Not Action Park. Not only did they conceive of such a class action lawsuit-magnet, but they went as far as to start building it. It was never completed to the point where a pool was constructed to catch the people who would spill out of the end of the monstrosity. I'm not convinced that they ever would have built a pool, either, because anyone who would have gone through it would have had their necks snapped long before they emerged from this death trap.

So why was Action Park so popular? Many people--lily-livered parents, mostly--think that children are fragile, tissue-paper stick figures who must be kept in bubbles at all times, lest this harsh world tear them asunder. The truth that no one wants to admit is that kids love risking their lives, because it is inconceivable to them that they might die. Plus, there is something in the soul of every kid that wants to get tossed around, beaten up, and ripped to shreds. After all, being a kid is not fun. You get told what to do all the time, usually for no other reason than adults are allowed to tell you what to do. You need to do something to make you feel big and bad ass, and smacking your fellow kids around and getting smacked around (good naturedly, of course) is sometimes the best way to do it. Most kids are tough, and the ones that ain't get tough pretty quick once they start getting hurt. I defy anyone who actually remembers being a kid to prove me wrong.

Case in point: When I was about 10 years old, I fell off the Alpine Slide at Action Park (for the unfamiliar, an Alpine Slide is a concrete track you go down riding a plastic sled with very slick wheels and a completely ineffective brake). While going down the hill, all of a sudden I noticed that the sled that used to be under me was rambling down the grass to my left. For some reason, I had no modesty this day and had decided to attack the Alpine Slide shirtless. So lacking a sled, I slid down the concrete on my shoulder until my scraped-up skin stopped my momentum. And you know what? I got up, dusted myself off, and picked up my sled so I could ride the rest of the way down. That four-inch-diameter open wound on my shoulder? Just a scratch. I walked it off like a kid. Not like a man, because a man would cry and whimper and tug at his white hat like a security blanket. I still have a huge scar on my right shoulder from this incident, and I wear it proudly, as I'm sure all the veterans of Action Park do.

Action Park was done in by its own love of danger. After the millionth fused vertebrae, no reputable insurance agent in the world would dare cover the place anymore. The gates stayed closed for an entire season, while the owners looked for someone to bail them out of bankruptcy. For once, firecrackers outpaced inner tube rides as the leading cause of summertime injury in the area. Then, new proprietors opened Mountain Creek in its stead, a pale imitation of the old Bataan Death Park.

I regret that, if I have children some day, I won't be able to toughen them up by taking them to that hallowed battle ground. Nothing acquaints a person with the harshness of reality faster than zooming down a water slide, laying on your stomach on a 10-millimeter-thick foam mat, accelerating to Mach 5, and hitting two inches of slimy liquid. Action Park made adults of a generation of Tri-State Area kids who strolled through its blood-stained gates, by teaching us the truth about life: it is not safe, you will get hurt a lot, and you'll ride all the way home burnt beyond belief.

BY MATTHEW CALLAN 11/22/2000

"Put them in the closet"

The Gov is starting to tell what he wants to do in the new year. No real shock. Expand the baby sitting/Pre K program, Lower standards for the lottery scholarship. If he sticks to this two point plan the big fight could be with himself.

As you may or may not know the Pre K program only gives the money to pay for the teachers (Your welcome TEA). No money goes to where to put the students once the state has them. Many schools and school systems are already at capacity. "Trailer teachers" are starting to hit many school systems as trailers are being used to house the new program. Now Phil wants to expand the program even more. Where does Phil think the schools are going to put all the new little wards of the state?

On the other hand Phil wants to lower the standards for the lottery scholarship with the excess lottery money. What else has eyes on that same excess money? Building and expanding the schools.

Could Phil have just picked a fight with himself?

At least it won't be partisan.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How long has this guy been in office?

Democrat Sen. Reginald Tate wants to up the per diem to over $200.00 per day because he thinks the $161.00 is just not enough to cover a legislators daily expenses.

Lets lay out the facts shall we?

The per diem legislators get is just a straight payment. we are not expected to provide receipts for what we spend. If a legislator spends less then the $161.00 per day they get for per diem they put the extra in their pocket.

The Sheraton is right across the street from the capitol and is quite an expensive hotel. Other hotels probably less then 1 mile from the capitol can be had for about $50.00 per night. You only spend the night three of the four nights we are in session a week. That is $150.00 per week or one days per diem. Most legislators team up and rent an apartment for 6 months at a time. Myself and two other legislators are looking at apartments and houses now. The range is $860 to a little less then $1,200 per month. Cut three ways that is still less then $400.00 per month per person or 2-3 days of per diem per month.

Many legislators can and do live off the meals at receptions. I am not kidding when I say some days we have the choice of two or three breakfasts, two or three lunches and and three or four dinners every day for months at a time. I am not talking TV dinners either. The hosts put on the dog to get legislators to come. I will give a week or two at the beginning and end of session when the receptions dwindle and a legislators have to actually buy a meal or two. A legislator could get by on spending $300.00 or $400.00 per YEAR on food or less. Still for the sake of argument lets say the legislator is sick of prime rib and shrimp cocktail and wants to eat out when in Nashville. Lets say $15.00 per meal x 8 meals a week (that is dinner Monday night when we come in 3 meals a day Tuesday and Wednesday and breakfast before we leave on Thursday morning) x 4 weeks a month. That still totals out to under $500.00 per month or under 4 days per diem per month.

If you live in the Nashville area you can go home at night. You still get the per diem. A little math and you can see that most legislators can get by on as little as $500.00 per month up to an average/upscale side of 1,100.00 per month. Still less then 7 days per diem per month.

We are paid per diem a minimum of 16 days a month while in session Some legislators just love to come up to Nashville and milk it just for the per diem (See about any summer study committee for reference)

If you want a raise then just say you want more money. Don't lie to the people and say you cant make it on what we get now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sympathy for the ......

Some people feel I have been too hard on Rob Briley. Let me be clear. I wish him well in his recovery. As others have written "In the theater of open political warfare, it’s the ideas I want to defeat, not the person."

I agree.

I wish to defeat the idea that criminal acts that endanger innocent people are acceptable. That if you are powerful, you can do about anything and get away with it. The idea that as long as you don't get a felony conviction you are some sort of hero to the legislature, that you deserves to be cheered for.

Yes, I am sorry Rob decided to get drunk, hit an innocent family then run from the law, endanger others, have a questionable relationship with a lobbyist. But those were all choices HE made. When he made those choices he destroyed the trust that people put in him. With actions come repercussions. He needs to take responsibility for his actions.

Do I have sympathy? Yes, I do. I have sympathy for my fellow legislators who have to go home to friends and family and be painted with the brush of "That's what you all do. You are all the same. You all just go up there to party". I have sympathy for the family he hit. I have sympathy for the people he endangered in his high speed chase. I have sympathy for the police officers he abused.

I have even more sympathy for the people who have written to me because they lost loved ones to repeat drunk drivers. Drunk drivers that may not have been on the road if we had been able to pass tougher DUI laws. DUI laws that Briley routinely blocked. DUI laws that he could more vehemently block now because of his situation.

Do I have sympathy for Rob? Yes, I do.

It is just much stronger for his victims.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

But you said ?..?..?.

Guess what? Toll roads are being pushed forward. I know it was promised only to be a limited deal but as is usual under this administration no government project is limited in growth, under budget, or set to stay non mandatory.

This is unity

Rep Frank Buck has always been one of my favorite Democrats. He is conservative on many issues and will actually cross party lines on occasion. I give him credit for "bucking" the system when the project is as big a waste as the party bunker.

A hero for the cause

Today Rob Briley returned to the house floor for the first time since his crime spree. Upon his entrance he was greeted with a resounding applause. I just shook my head. The last time I saw a cheer like that go out was for Kathrine Bowers after she was bailed out of jail from her bribery charges.

Oddly, last I checked the video stream of it was not up.

Isn't it Ironic

Isn't it ironic that in the senate the Democrats are trying to kick Ophelia Ford out of office because she is sick but in the house they are doing all they can to keep Rob Briley in office after his crime spree. I guess it shows what they value and what they don't.

But I thought they were for unity?

Democrats are working to kick Ophelia Ford to the curb. I thought the Democrats were for unity? cant they work together with Republicans? I am sure with the numbers so evenly divided it should be easy to build unity for good ideas.

The Briley bill

I have introduced legislation that would say legislators that have a DUI conviction can not vote on DUI laws. It is unfortunate that we have to file bills like this. I think it is one of the worst kinds of conflict, it is a conflict of interest on a criminal matter. Jerry Cooper at least had the "Class" to step down.

Rob has been a major barrier on strengthening our DUI laws for years. I doubt by the tone of his arrest video that he is about to change his tune. Unfortunately I think his view and vitriol could be worse and his desire to change laws to suit his situation may cloud his vote. Tom Humphry has the story

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Slavery and life

I have been thinking a lot about the life issue lately (even more so then usual).

The more I think about it, the more I feel it is the great moral issue of our lifetime. Just as slavery was the issue to my great, great (great?) grandfathers generation, I look at the life issue today.

Many of the arguments you hear made by abortion proponents I wonder if my fore fathers heard about slavery in their day.

“If you don’t like it, don’t have one”

“I am not for it…..But I think people should have the right to choose to have one or not.”

“If you could have one you would make sure the right to it was in the US constitution.”

“It is my property I can do with it what I want.”

Or on the softer side of it….

“I can’t do anything about it so it’s not worth arguing about.”

“The supreme court has ruled. It is decided law. We can’t change it”

Or on the twisted logic side of it...

"Without them many poor people wouldn't know what to do, people might die"

"They couldn't just take care of themselves. They could end up wards of the state. You wouldn't pay for that"

"When they are born they may not look or act just like us, In many cases they are better off where they are so just leave it alone."

"This state is not ready for that change."

When I hear this talk I get incredibly frustrated at people, at the coldness of their hearts. I wonder how they can turn such a blind eye to the cruelty and inhumanity of the act. Then I think possibly it is the brutality in and of itself that makes it so easy for people to look away from. Just as the German people could turn their eyes from the cruelty done to the Jewish people in the 1930’s and 40s and just imagine it really isn’t happening because its was too gruesome or it is easier to imagine the people who it is happening to aren’t really people at all. Less then human.

I think over and over about my time in the legislature (past, present and future) and wonder if there is any way to sway some people. I think there has to be a way to attack the issue, to explain the issue, to expose the issue, to open the eyes, to change hearts and minds so we can change votes. If not, how best to get people in who will have an open heart.


Oddly, in the legislature, Those who would be most effected by the first two injustices are the least likely to step up to stop the third. In nearly all the cases they openly support it. If not vocally than at least in their willingness to allow it to continue. You have to wonder about your stance on an issue when it mirrors slave owners and the third reich.

Oh well. It is just what is on my mind……..

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On the other hand

Check out the top ten list Jayson Mumpower put out as a counter to Neifehs talking points.

Is that the best you got?

The Democrats are looking to make the lottery scholarship adjustments the big wedge issue of the year. While the adjustments will take some time to work through, I don't think it really is that big of an issue or that it will be that partisan of an issue. Some will want to lower the standards to get it. Some will want to make it a little easier to keep and some may go to school infrastructure or pre k. A few other plans may get a piece as well.

I don't think that any one plan will end up the "end all, be all" or that it will be a case where all the Democrats will line up behind one plan and the Republicans will line up behind another. Or even if we do, I doubt it will be all that contentious.

I sort of look at it along the lines of the ping pong balls for the lottery debate. Not a real wedge issue. A nice and important issues but not the sort of tough issues that define a session or that it will be something that a person could run for office on. I can't see going door to door and saying "Vote for me, I was the leader on the great pig pong ball battle!" or "When the pro ping pong ball lobbyist came to me I stood strong in opposition and threw him out of my office!" The same holds true for the lottery scholarship. I can't see a Democrat running for office on the battle cry of "That darn so and so voted for the excess lottery money to go to fixing our schools!"

Not real issues that are going to drive out the vote on election day. More like adjustments of existing laws along the way. If that is the wedge of the year for the Democrats I expect many Republicans to return to office next year.

It is about to begin.

Call your kids into the house, lock up your liquor cabinet and put up your "No trespassing. This means you!" sign. Put one hand on your wallet, with the other, hold your gun. The legislature is about to kick into session.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Farrs cig surveillance flops

Regan Farr's cig surveillance has proven to be such a flop that they are killing it.

I love it when time proves the points I make. I am now 4 and 0 in being proven correct over Regan Farr's mismanagement and goofy ideas. The rumor was that, besides its financial failure, people were threatening law suits if the out of state surveillance continued. I know many legislators were planning on pushing legislation to stop it this year. It could have turned into a Major campaign issue in next years election. I guess as the session is about to start up tomorrow Phil and the leadership decided it was time to cut and run on Farr's goofy power trip.

David Fowler talkes change

David Fowler has laid out the political case this year for real political change in Tennessee. Of course the other side is talking change too. The only difference is the Dems are talking about how they can take every last bit of change out of your pocket.

Why is Jerry Coopers phone always busy?

I guess Tom Humphreys has found out why. Rob, Ofelia Hang up the phone already!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More politicos to blog

Today's Tennessean has an article about how more politicians starting blogs to communicate with their constituents. This blog was even featured. Welcome one and all.

New rating system

You may have noticed the new star bar at the top of the comments section. This is a new way for you (the reader) to rate what you read. It is not as in depth as a comment but it is more feedback to me and other readers as to what you may find interesting.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

800 quit job at factory as ICE starts crackdown

800 people quit their job at one Electrolux factory in Springfield Tennessee as ICE began crackdowns in the area and the factory began questioning lightly or non checked immigration identifications. Unfortunately many of the people who left will just go to another local factory or town and start over.

I think the Tennessean article has the headline upside down. Instead of...

"Immigration raids hit Springfield hard
Enforcement sends shock wave to employer, hundreds of lives"

It should be....

"Illegal aliens arrests open up jobs for honest Tennesseans in depressed area."

Good job ICE. We need more of this. Keep up the good work.

Friday, January 04, 2008

KNS, Journal Reporter among the best in the nation

Knox News Sentinel Nashville reporter Tom Humphries and The Tennessee Journal’s Ed Cromer have been named among the best reporters in the nation by the Washington post.

If there is a story that needs to be reported that these two let slip through the cracks, this will be it.

Hat tip:AC

Horns honk for underground party bunker

It looks as if regular people from both political viewpoints are starting to notice the waste that is the underground party bunker. Word is people are starting to honk their horns when near the state capitol in fashion similar to the income tax fight to show their displeasure with the overinflated, unneeded project. Could the early exposure of this blatantly wasteful project come out and bite the big spenders of taxpayer money? Time and horns could tell the tale.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Joke of the week

This weeks "joke of the week" was brought to you by a Democrat.............. When I first read it I started to laugh so hard ..................................................................................... Sorry I Was laughing again.............. so hard I..... couldn't type. ...............Best joke ever...............My sides hurt............My cheeks..................Tears................... Can't go on any longer...........Read it yourself