In this week's cover story, Jackson Baker reports from the campaign trail in Tennessee's 8th Congressional District. The race features three Republicans who are vying for the GOP nomination — Stephen Fincher, George Flinn, and Ron Kirkland — and one Democrat, Roy Herron.
If you've seen any of the Republicans' ads, you've seen them all. Each candidate is running on a platform of repealing health-care reform, balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and generally standing up to the GOP's designated bogeywoman, the evil House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
It's Tea Party rhetoric-lite: Throw out the bums in Washington, D.C., and get Congress back in the hands of real Americans! Never mind that two of the three Republicans are millionaire physicians and the third is a prominent farmer and land-owner, these guys are going to take back the country from those tax-and-spend Democrats who are the cause of all our troubles.
This is rabble-rousing duplicity and revisionist history on a staggering scale. When Democrat Bill Clinton left office in 2000, there was a budget surplus. The country was not at war. There was no financial crisis that required a trillion-dollar TARP bailout. Oil companies were regulated by a watchdog federal agency. Much stricter environmental policies were in place. In short, there was peace and prosperity.
The Bush administration relaxed financial regulations, let the oil companies write energy policy in secret, and set up lobbyists to administer the agencies controlling our natural resources and the environment. They instigated an unneccessary war in Iraq that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives. That administration set all-time records for budget deficits, was plagued by one scandal after another (Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Valerie Plame, Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, Halliburton, Blackwater, ad nauseum) and instigated the TARP bailout plan to rescue financial institutions that had bilked millions of investors with phony mortgage securities.
This is the mess that President Obama inherited. Make no mistake: It was created by President George W. Bush and the Republicans who controlled both houses of Congress. Yes, the current administration and Congress have made their own share of blunders, but this hue and cry from Republicans about the horrors of Washington is disingenuous in the extreme. We're still cleaning up the mess from the last GOP administration. If Republicans want to point fingers, they should do so while standing in front of a mirror.
One of the biggest issues being talked about on social media locally this week was The Commercial Appeal's announcement that, beginning Monday, only its subscribers — print and online — would be able to access the paper's website. In web jargon, it's called a pay-wall, meaning if you want to get the CA's online content, you're going to have to pay for it ...
I was driving down Vance Avenue after work a couple weeks ago, when I observed a cluster of junior high kids on the sidewalk. They were watching a fight between two girls, both of whom were using one hand to hold up their pants and the other to swing and grab at each other ...