My latest book. Click cover.

My latest book. Click cover.
My latest book. Click cover

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Some Questions Deserve Answers

A question for Richard Briggs, the Republican candidate for the Tennessee’s District 7 Senate seat: Why won’t you debate Cheri K. Siler, your Democratic opponent?   She’s ready and willing, but you have refused to meet her on the great equalizing field of American politics, the debate.

It’s true, there’s no law that says you have to debate her, but there is a question of ethics here, I believe, that outshines your right to refuse. You have used a busy schedule as an excuse to avoid face to face debate.  As a voter in your district, I fear that a candidate, who won’t take the time for a debate with his opponent, will never take the time when I have questions.

Surely you don’t feel threatened by the relatively small amount of campaign funds Siler has raised, mostly in small amounts from individuals, as compared to your healthy campaign chest.  Humor us by pretending you believe that no single political party should ever be so powerful as to crush opposition strictly because of an “R” or “D” after his or her name at the voting place.

Nobody doubts your accomplishments as Briggs the candidate: a B.S. degree from Transylvania University in Lexington; graduation from the University Of Kentucky College Of Medicine; active military service beginning in1978; and a rise through the ranks to full Colonel; with service in Operation Desert Storm, during which you were awarded the Bronze Star. 

However, there are things at stake in this election that call for a different type of expertise and no one candidate possesses them all. Candidate Siler has is an educator with her finger on the pulse of state politics. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1991 and a Masters in Mathematics Education in 2004.

On your web page, Candidate Briggs, you put the following priorities at the top of your concerns: job creation, promoting small business and limiting government regulation; improving education, supporting teachers and higher academic standards.

I for one would like to know what you intend to do about these priorities. You must admit, Candidate Briggs, saying that you are in favor of job creation, against government regulation and in favor of improving education is nothing but generic bumper sticker material.

On Siler’s website, the problems with state school systems and the economy are clearly defined:  She is of the opinion that private charter schools are an attempt by big business to destroy the public school system and replace it with for profit institutions. For jump-starting the economy, Siler thinks a state rebuilding program for our crumbling roads and bridges would put money in the pockets of unemployed middle class people.

So candidate Briggs, the ball is in your court. Whether you accept the challenge to debate Siler is entirely up to you.  You can accept the challenge and arrange such a debate or stay in your comfort zone where you never have to answer a question you don’t want to hear.

Personally, I’d like to see you step up and at least pretend that even the people who probably won’t vote for you in the upcoming election are also entitled to hear both candidates answering unscripted questions.  Time’s running out. Perhaps you could cancel one meeting in Nashville for a short debate here.

You don’t have to do it.  You’ve probably been told it runs contrary to conventional political wisdom to take an unnecessary risk. But why not do something unconventional and show us you’re more than a politician?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Several years ago, a colleague in the newspaper business said to me, “Like all liberals, you claim to support our troops. Let me ask exactly what you’ve done lately to support them?”
“Well, “ I replied, “unless you went to Afghanistan to personally fight alongside the troops, bought body armor for a soldier in the field or sent a care package with a prepaid calling card, I’ve done the same thing to support them as you conservatives have.”
It occurred to me after the conversation that when all is said and done, there’s always more said than done.

Monday, August 04, 2014


There are none so blind  as those who will not see. After numerous hearings run by Republicans with an unlimited amount of time, the committee studying the Benghazi investigation, has concluded that there was no foul play involved, just a horrible, unavoidable situation: Let's see who is first to declare it fraudulent

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


On the morning my column runs, I can't wait to see what I meant when I wrote it. Some of the interpretations given – most, by anonymous newspaper readers, never cease to amaze me. I am apparently so diabolically clever that I can give a different message to a dozen people with the same 600 words, give or take a few.

When I sit down to see what I actually meant with a particular commentary, I’m always reminded of a story told in a book called “God Caesar: The Writing of Fiction for Beginners” by Vardis Fisher.

It seems a young author had published a book, at some time before 1953 when Fisher wrote about it. The author thought he had written a simple love story, a romance if you will, but a critic for a New York newspaper saw it differently.

The critic, never named by Fisher – in fact, he never gave the book title, either – wrote a sterling review in which he told his readers that novel he had just read was obviously a story of love between two men, disguised as a simple love story because the author didn’t dare tell the real story.

When the author read the critique of his novel, the one he considered to be a simple man-woman romance, he tried to call the critic who refused to speak with him. The author began to write the critic demanding a second review.

After the second or third letter, the critic finally sent the young writer a letter that said something along the lines of, “I won’t redo the review. You are not the first author who wrote a better book than he knew he was writing.”

Maybe the entire matter can best be summed up in this quote from Irish writer, Brendan Behan:  Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves.”