Friday, November 14, 2014


The introduction of the state into the most personal of family and medical decisions has begun.  (Click above link to see story). For those who voted for Amendment One without reading it, here is the opening move of what you approved.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is taking a novel approach to attack a federal ban put in force in 1976 by the Fish and Wildlife Service designed to stop the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory tusks. Alexander asserts that the federal ban could, among other things, "take away our guns."

“For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that," Alexander said Wednesday, speaking on the Senate floor about his bill that would roll back the ivory ban.

According to the Senior Republican Senator from Tennessee, the ban would also affect
musicians who own and use guitars with ivory inlay.  It seems obvious, though, that the thrust of his proposed ban is to garner support from the National Rifle Association (NRA), not guitar players.

The relatively small amount of ivory used for pistol grips and guitar inlay is already protected by a grandfather clause for ivory in use prior to the ban.  In fact, most ivory before and after the ban has been used to make cheap trinkets such as back scratchers and key chains, not works of art.  At issue is the matter of documenting that the ivory in use dates prior to 1976 – a small inconvenience to pay for protecting a magnificent species that is rapidly becoming extinct in the wild.

Called the ‘Lawful Ivory Protection Act,” Alexander said of the bill, “I support stopping poachers, and I support stopping the trade of illegal ivory," Alexander said. "What I don’t support is treating ... musicians, antique shops, and firearms sellers like illegal ivory smugglers. … This legislation will stop the administration from taking away our legal guns, guitars, and other items that contain legal ivory if we try to sell them across state lines.”

Alexander would have us believe that protecting a relatively few artistic uses of ivory – or rather preventing a minor inconvenience to dealers – outweighs the protection of a vanishing species.  I don’t think so.

And while it probably won’t do any good since the bill demonizes gun control advocates – though it isn’t a 2nd Amendment issue – and Alexander has clearly stated that it is a ban passed under the dreaded Obama administration, but if you agree with me contact our esteemed senator at: 455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510;  (202) 224-4944; or

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.