Archive for December, 2012

Firearm Industry Profits Fuel N.R.A. Agenda

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Recently, the National Rifle Association (NRA) held a series of statements in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn. While Americans watched in shock as twenty children and six adults were laid to rest, the N.R.A. was manovering to spin its defense of gun makers. Like most people in the south, I own a guy but I find the rampage of violence and the actions of the N.R.A. mutually offensive.

The N.R.A. likes to make the [false] case that it is a grass roots organization designed to represent gun owners rights but in reality it continues to prove it’s sole function is to protect the profits of gun makers. It has become increasingly apparent that the National Rifle Association is totally incapable and uninterested in offering any substantial reforms to protect society from rampant gun violence.

The N.R.A. continues to aggressively lobby federal and state governments to dilute and/or eliminate sensible regulations on gun ownership designed to protect Americans from growing gun violence. The only one to profit from this irresponsible blessing of violence has been the gun industry who have made $12 billion in profit this year. Despite the recession, gun sales are booming, demand outgrowing supply, resulting in an increase of gun imports into America.

The gun industry is the big supporter of the N.R.A. contributing between $14 million and 39 million to the NRA since 2005, according to the Violence Policy Center. Americans lust for violence also continues to boom. In the face of growing violence, the N.R.A. continues to claim they only defend the Second Amendment while it becomes increasingly clear this is an untrue claim. A growing number of surveys show a majority of American gun owners support sensible restrictions designed to protect the public.

A 2009 poll conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support background checks of prospective buyers yet the N.R.A. continues to fight all sensible legislation to protect Americans. What explains this refusal to support common sense legislation that its members support? The answer is simple – The N.R.A. only has one mission – protect gun sales for the gun industry!

Special Interest oftens veils it vile agenda in the guise of constitutional rights and the N.R.A. has proven it is the master of such deception. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute, it is subject to regulations and controls. Many extremists attempt to distort the Second Amendment, which was designed to protect a young nation from aggression, as a unfactual right to amass a personal arsenal.

How long will the American public allow the groundless N.R.A. argument that tough sensible gun regulations violates the Second Amendment at the risk of the threat to public safety? How high will the body count grow before sensible gun legislation is adopted by society? If left to the N.R.A., gun sale profits will always outweigh the need to protect the American people against gun violence!

North East Tennessee Inaugural Celebration

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Next month, President Barack Obama will be sworn in and begin his second term as President of the United States. It is only fitting that his Inaugural occurs on Martin Luther King’s Holiday.

In 2009, seven-hundred and fifty-eight people attended the Celebration of Hope and Change in Johnson City, Tennessee to celebrate the election of President Barack Obama. The event was the largest political party in the history of NorthEast Tennessee and the largest Inaugural Celebration in the State of Tennessee.

On January 21st, NorthEast Tennessee will once again host the largest celebration of the re-election of President Barack Obama. The celebration Democrats Moving Forward will be held at the Holiday Inn on 101 West Spring Street in Johnson City, TN. One-Thousand people will gather to celebrate the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

The event will include dinner, music, entertainment, dancing, a silent auction and memorabilia. Tickets are $25 and are on sale now. Tickets can be ordered by calling 423-282-2081 or email us at: drcdems@gmail.com. Tickets can also be ordered using a credit card at: actblue.com/page/moving-forward. Tickets can also be bought direct at the DRC on 2250 North Roan Street in Johnson City, TN on January 2, 2012.

Renaissance of Liberalism?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Poetic, in this greed filled age of conservatism; liberal issues dominated the 2012 election. With stunning results, in an election where pot is legal and gays are free to marry. Who would believe that a African American who campaigned to raise taxes on the rich would win his second election in America by a majority? This feat has not been accomplished by a Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt’s second election in 1936.

In many ways, the recent economic situation in America mirrored the events of the Great Depression. And in this election, only 25 percent of voters identified themselves as “liberal” in national exit polls. 35 percent proclaimed to be conservative while 41 percent called themselves moderates. There was a three percent point increase in those voters who called themselves liberal.

Demography and democracy advanced the progressive political ideas by a majority of voters. Before the election of Barack Obama, liberalism has been silent in America for several decades.

Abraham Lincoln’s push to erase the original southern sin of slavery from the land was a liberal achievement. Teddy Roosevelt’s embrace of the income tax was a liberal moment. Other liberal causes include the Women’s movement in 1920, Social Security entitlements in 1935, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Other events such as the creation of national parks, and laws against child labor, poisoning the environment, and the more recent move to give most Americans access to health care are liberal causes.

This brings us to the fascinating self-portrait of America at the genesis of the beginning of second term of the Obama era. A war is ongoing where the center-left majority wants to restore some equality to the growing imbalance between the very rich and the rest of us. If President Obama can successfully lead this coalition, he will be remembered among the greats.

For this to be successful, this will involve raising taxes on the top 2% and reforming entitlements enough to ensure their continued success and sustainability. Obama will have to make the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” work, address climate change or immigration reform and in the process, he can restore liberalism to greatness.

For at least a generation’s time, liberals in this country have been afraid to call themselves liberal, calling themselves progressives. One can argue why the left was cast into exile but the demonization of liberals by the conservatives’ relentless vile smear campaigns seems to be the most obvious reason.

Liberalism, in the purest form, is about expanding opportunity and human rights, while embracing science and logic. Liberalism created the entitlement programs, after the Great Depression, to protect the poor, old and the majority of Americans from failed Republican policies. Liberalism created the American middle class.

Liberals of the 20th century have had some amazing successes — regulation of monopolistic greed driven trusts, modernization of strong public schools, and ensuring a safe food supply.

The New Deal’s lasting legacy, Social Security, and its counterpart of the 1960s, Medicare, have allowed millions of American to live out their lives in dignity. These programs are now under attack by modern day conservatives driven by a vile agenda of greed, but now these programs are considered sacred by Americans of all political affiliations. Even the mislead teabaggers will fight you over their social security while they chant and rant against socialism.

Conservatism, in its desire to destroy social programs and entitlements have now lost its way. They abandoned fiscal responsibility in exchange for the Bush doctrine. Recently they have resorted to attacking women, rejecting science, demonizing immigration reform, restricting personal freedom, and adopting voter suppression laws in order to steal elections and/or remain relevant.

If you believe in science, technology, climate change, finding a path to citizenship for millions of hard-working immigrants, support strong public education and the right to marry the person you love, there is no place for you in todays Republican Party. Moderate Republicans are not welcome!

The neo-con wing of the Republican Party started a pair of disastrous unfunded wars that all but bankrupted the country in the wild west Bush era. And for leaders, the party put forth crackpots and wing nuts in 2012. The Republican Party is on its way of assuring its place as a regional party unless it adopts reasonable change. Talk of civil war in the Republican Party is discussed by TV political analyst and fills the dreams of modern day progressives and Democrats everywhere.

This election has created some strong possibilities for restoring liberalism in America. Obama has the unique opportunity to shore up a weakened middle class, address climate change and make the promise of health care expansion work. For now, the majority of Americans have Obama’s back. And should he succeed, the Democrats could enjoy a growing majority in the future.

Second Hung Jury ~ No Justice in Erwin

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Erwin – Former Unicoi County sheriff Kent Harris’ retrial on a theft-related charge ended in the same result as the first trial.

A jury once again failed to reach a verdict in Harris’ trial on the charge of theft over $1,000. The jury deliberated for approximately four hours Friday before returning to the courtroom to announce it had deadlocked on a verdict. The jury’s foreman told the Judge that the split in the vote could not be resolved with further deliberation.

After court recessed following the announcement of the result, Harris stood up from the defense table and expressed his appreciation for the family members and supporters who had attended the trial.

This is the second trail that a jury, in the face of a mountain of evidence, failed to agree on a verdict. Can an honest jury be seated in Erwin?

Does Justice Have a Bloodhounds Chance in Hell?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Erwin – The trail begins for embattled sheriff, Kent Harris. The former Unicoi County sheriff faces a theft-related charge, one of the 10 felonies a grand jury indicted him on in October 2011.

This marks the second time this year Harris has been tried on the charge of theft over $1,000. A mistrial was declared in the first trial after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Only one juror voted to find the sheriff guilty after a mountain of evidence was presented to a Unicoi County jury. The jury, lead my jury foreman and friend of Mr. Harris, refused to render a guilty verdict based on the evidence.

In that trial, which began in late July and ended Aug. 2, Harris was tried on charges of theft over $1,000 and criminal simulation. It is alleged Harris sought and received $4,500 in county funds to pay for two vehicles that were actually donated to the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department in September 2008.

While District Attorney General Tony Clark said in his opening statement that the prosecution intended to prove the vehicles were donated to the county but Harris still ended up in possession of the $4,500, Harris’ legal defense stated that it would show the $4,500 was a portion of the funding that was to go to the care of two bloodhounds previously purchased by county resident Tom Colbaugh to serve as search and rescue dogs for the UCSD.

Over the course of the four-day trial, a number of documents were presented and more than a dozen witnesses provided testimony, including testimony from Harris himself. Much of the trial’s testimony also came from Colbaugh and his wife, Lynn Colbaugh, who purchased the bloodhounds and possessed the vehicles at the center of the theft charge.

The Colbaughs testified the two vehicles were donated to the county, leading them to question why checks were issued for them. The Colbaughs also testified Harris had instructed them to cash the checks totaling $4,500 and return the money to him, and they stated that Harris made no mention of bloodhound training or care in regard to the money. Harris contradicted this in his testimony.

After the hung jury was declared, Clark stated that he wanted to retry the case.

Harris began trial yesterday on a charge of official misconduct, which was the result of a Feb. 16 grand jury session. Clark said he instead wanted to use the date to retry Harris on the theft charge. Clark previously said attorneys must once again go through the process of selecting a new jury, which is expected to make up much of the trial’s first day.

In October 2011, a Unicoi County grand jury charged Harris with criminal simulation, theft over $1,000, attempted aggravated assault, tampering with evidence and six counts of official misconduct. Harris pleaded not guilty to these charges at a Feb. 7 arraignment hearing. The week after this hearing, a grand jury returned a true bill charging Harris with an additional count of official misconduct.

On March 1, Harris submitted his letter of resignation to the county, citing ongoing health problems due to injuries suffered in an August 2010 fall from the roof of the Unicoi County Jail. Harris made no mention of the felony charges in the letter. The Unicoi County Commission unanimously accepted Harris’ resignation at a March 9 meeting.

Will Unicoi County citizens receive justice or will heads turn a blind eye? Many believe that loyal supporters of Sheriff Harris will ensure justice will not have a Bloodhounds chance in hell in Unicoi County.

Exchange We Can Believe In

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Wade Munday is a writer in Nashville. Governor Bill Haslam caved to the far right wing of his party over the decision for Tennessee to set up a state-based health insurance exchange. He says federal government can’t do for Tennesseans that which we can do for ourselves, and yet he’s going to allow the federal government to set up our exchange for us anyways. He is becoming a case study in self-contradiction. It is no more comforting that the ones making up his mind antagonize the same government that encourages free market principles by creating this health exchange. During a holiday season of giving, they bemoan the idea of limited government that helps the most vulnerable, and expensive, people in society. If you want government out of YOUR life, then couldn’t you achieve that by having government involved in the lives of others less fortunate? But that’s more about Medicaid expansion.

The federal government is willing to set up a health exchange for us, and we should be thrilled to accept it. If left to the legislature in this state, then the health insurance exchange could just as easily serve as the list of companies who contributed the most to Republican candidates in the last election.

Not so long ago Tennessee was a land of barefoot farmers and outhouses, and then Tennesseans’ lives were transformed by a federal project that brought rural electricity. That big government project saved a lot of lives, improved our prospects for lengthened life, and improved the lives of future generations. There’s a statue in downtown Nashville that shows a TVA man standing watch over an impoverished family, a single mother and her children. In those days, the federal government was concerned with the quaint notion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of indoor plumbing because, let’s face it, dysentery isn’t a way to happiness.

The decision not to set up a state-based health exchange for Republican Bill Haslam was a political calculation, another weak response to an established conservative legislature that doesn’t need to respond to the interests of the supermajority of Tennesseans that elected them. Instead, they and their governor are content to divine what’s best for their careers by sticking their thumbs in the political winds to see which way it blows. Unfortunately, most of us in this state are standing downwind.

Tennessee’s Backwoods Legislature

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Between the monkey law and gateway sexual activity, backwoods legislation in the Tennessee Legislature has brought shame to Tennessee. Add in an outrageous quote from Sen. Stacey Campfield and a review of the legislation of guns in bars, guns in cars, and guns in schools and you have the winner of the nations worst legislation.

National recognition of ignorance for Tennessee!

Mother Jones magazine, the liberal publication best known lately for unearthing a videotape of Mitt Romney kissing off 47 percent of the nation’s voters, has published a new list of the nation’s worst legislatures and given Tennessee top honors.

Tennessee legislators have set themselves apart by actually passing the abstinence-only bill, the one severely restricting discussion of sexual activity in public schools. The quote from Campfield, in which he traced the origin of AIDS inaccurately to sex between a monkey and an airline pilot, didn’t hurt our entry.

Special honors should have be given to Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell who led us to this dismal point in legislation. Honorable mention should be given to our governor, Bill Haslam, who allows ignorant legislation to slide into law without actually signing it.

You also have proposed bills that sanction bullying of kids in schools and a legislation focused on serving the special interest groups. The backwoods boys of NETN have managed to disgrace Tennessee with their ignorance and arrogance. Americans are laughing coast to coast at the expense of the Tennessee Legislature and its moran based legislation. Wonder why folks talk about barefoot Tennesseans? Ask our backwoods ignorance based Legislators where their ignorance is celebrated with acts of stupidy every open session!

Unicoi Count Democratic Party Meeting and Election Celebration

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Erwin – The Unicoi County Democratic Party will be meeting on Saturday, December 8th at the Erwin Town Hall at 11 a.m. This is the regular 4th Quarter meeting.Discussions will include a review of the November 6th Election results. County party reorganization will also be discussed.

The brief meeting will be concluded with a celebration of the re-election of President Barack Obama. Refreshments will be served.

The public is welcome to attend. Get involved and help your county, state and nation move forward. For more information, call 423-743-7608 or visit us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnicoiCountyDemocraticParty.