Politics

Free Commerce

The effort to allow grocery stores to sell wine, as is legal in all but 15 states, has likely stalled for this year.  It was only after three requests that Bill Ketron’s bill even got a grudging second from Mark Norris (R-Collierville).

Just out of curiosity this morning, I poked around the Registry of Election Finance to see if there might be some correlation between dollars donated by the liquor lobby; not surprisingly, the only member of the committee who hadn’t received triple-digit contributions last year is Steve Roller, who wasn’t appointed until Dec. 18, 2007.   I didn’t comb through all the reports, but the select few that I read through told me enough.

Committee Vice-Chair Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) collected $4,000 from the WSWT PAC (Wine and Spirits Wholesalers) from December ’06 to December ’07.  I’m not sure if it’s the money, or the fact that he’s a Deacon at the Jackson Baptist Church, but he surely wasn’t looking out for Tennessee Wineries or consumers this week.

The only consolation is that one of the lobbying outfits for the liquor wholesalers has gotten into a spot of trouble over their "astroturf" (fake grassroots) website to oppose online sales of wine in Tennessee.  Astroturf — that’s a new term to me, but fitting.

Sooner or later, it will happen.  It’s just a question of how much longer we put up with the higher cost and inconvenience of a system designed to benefit the network of distributors who funnel huge sums to the legislature every year.

Iowa

Wow — Iowa brought some semi-surprises.

I wasn’t so much shocked as disappointed in the Republican results; Iowa is known to have a strong evangelical Christian base, and therefore, voted with the Baptist preacher. What did really surprise me was their endorsement of Obama. The media are calling it a "desire for change," which gave the young, relative newcomer the nod.

New Hampshire will be a new day. Historically, the state has been more concerned with fiscal than social issues, so I’m guessing that the results will be somewhat different.

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However, I found a neat electoral map with each state’s electoral votes and primary dates.  Enjoy.

Primary Colors – a first look

Waking up at 3 a.m., I used the expanse of free time to begin some serious research on the presidential candidates.  Our primary is only about 35 days away, and it’s been years since I waited this late in the process to begin my analysis of the choices. 

The issues that I feel are most urgent are our energy policies, strong but smart national defense, education, and intelligent fiscal policy.  The social conservatives tend to disown me because I really don’t see abortion or marriage definitions as the issues that have the greatest impact on our well-being as a nation, or things that the federal government ought to be distracted by.

Immigration policy is on everyone’s list, but that’s a post of its own for another day.

Energy Policy
Fred Thompson says "America must rise to the challenge and take the steps necessary to become more energy independent before this becomes a crisis."  In my mind though, it’s already a crisis — every time some towel-headed fool blows himself up, gas prices jump a dime.  That increases the cost of getting kids to school, of groceries (which must be delivered to the stores), of virtually everything we do.  Although he states a commitment to promoting alternative fuels and other energy sources, the word "nuclear" or other details are glaringly absent.

Mitt Romney rightly ties energy independence to national security, and specifies detailed research areas for which he would promote federal investment:

  • Basic research in key technologies like improved energy storage
  • Bringing clean energy technology to market through commercialization of large-scale renewables and advanced nuclear technologies
  • Improved smart-grid technology for power distribution
  • Clean, efficient uses of existing fossil fuels, e.g. clean coal, coal-to-liquids, carbon sequestration

Mike Huckabee also makes the correlation between energy dependence and terrorism and lists a few technologies (nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass) that he wants to support, but what shook me was this:

The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. I’ll use the bully pulpit to inform you about the plan and ask for your support. I’ll use the bully conference table to meet with members of Congress until I have the votes.

Please don’t tell me "I have a plan…" unless you’re prepared to tell me, here and now, what that plan is.  First of all, I question whether there really is a plan (versus a plan to make a plan, which is much different than actually having one), and secondly, I’m afraid to vote for a man with a plan if I don’t know what the plan is.  What if I don’t like it?

On this issue, Romney gets the edge, although I still feel that Fred would still have some connections at ORNL from his Senate days that would help out.

Whew — kids are up and making their morning demands, so the next batch will wait for another post.

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