Fleece Navidad; US Senate Moves Christmas to July With Immigration Bill

“At over 1,200 pages and 24 lbs., the Senate Immigration Bill is so laden and unwieldy, the Armed Forces could use lugging it around as a gender neutral test for combat duty.”  Frank Niceley


Not Bad for Government Work

While the debate raged for weeks over the primacy of amnesty vs. border security (put me down on the border security side), Santa’s helpers were busy in the Capitol backrooms crafting presents for good boys and girls who would vote yes on the bill, now known as the Corker-Hoeven Amendment.

The Corker-Hoeven amendment was a massive cut and paste job on the legislation that turned an already confusing pile of paper into one more Washington pork barrel fiasco.  Fifteen GOP Senators slid down the chimney opening the goodie bag for key votes.  Some of the more glaring examples include:

  1. Permanent allocation of $100 million to promote destination tourism, including Las Vegas
  2. A two year, $3 billion youth jobs program which includes their transportation needs.
  3. Fast tracking visas for Celebrities and Athletes, including fee waivers if not processed in 14 days.

Worse still is the analysis of Senator Ted Cruz, pointing out incentives for businesses to lay off american citizens and legal immigrants to hire amnesty applicants as replacements.


Scram Kid The Bag is Empty

My questions are simple.  Why would Republican Senators place any trust in the Obama Administration to enforce any border security measure?  They have shown a willingness to ignore the existing law, exactly how is this different? Poll after poll has shown the American people to be reasonable on the issue of immigration. Large majorities support securing the Southern border first, then and only then dealing with the illegal crossers already within our borders.

One can make the argument for humane treatment of the law abiding border crosser who only desires economic opportunity.  But no one can make a valid argument, that their interests should be placed above those of legal citizens and documented visa holders.

Under the Senate bill the illegal border crosser will be rewarded, while all that is left of the Senate’s Christmas in July for taxpayers and documented visitors will be switches and lumps of coal, even as the Obama Administration seeks to snatch even the lump of coal.

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Tennessee Politics Old School: Cas Walker


Stubborn one is in the Center

Over the years, Tennessee has had an abundance of colorful, plain spoken and populist politicians.  Few match the legendary Grocer, Cas Walker, in either  outspokenness or longevity.  From 1954-71 thousands of East Tennessee families began their day with the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour on local Knoxville TV. 

The mixture of music, local politics and shameless self-promotion kept people glued to their sets, as no one was ever sure of exactly what Cas was going to do, even Cas sometimes.

Caswell Orton Walker was born in 1902, just two years after my father. He opened his first Knoxville grocery store in 1924, ending a brief career as a Harlan Kentucky coal miner. Image While Cas dropped out of school at 14, he was a shrewd businessman who always catered to his working class customers.  An early stunt set him apart from other merchants.  Every Saturday, Cas would drop live frying chickens from the roof of his store free to any customer who caught them. Thousands would show up and do their grocery shopping afterwards.  By 1941 Cas Walker had built his business to a successful level that led him to enter politics and that…… is when the fight started.

In 1941 Cas rode his name recognition and popularity with the common folk of Knoxville to an election to City Council.  He carried his shrewd and ruthless business skills to politics.  ImageRoutinely Councilman Walker railed against the “silk stocking” crowd that looked down on his customers; he fought hard against tax increases.  And he was definitely against merging governments in Knox County. 

It is safe to describe Councilman Walker as an “agin’er”  While his strident approach endeared him to common people, it didn’t translate well to city management, as his election to Mayor in 1946 ended with recall less than a year after he fired the city manager.  I’m sure somewhere he made a note to himself that he couldn’t run government like his business.  George Dempster, former ally and city manager fired by Walker once said, “if I ordered a whole carload of SOB’s and they only brought Cas, I’d sign for the shipment.”

By the 1950’s Cas Walker was as strong as ever.  His grocery chain was grossing over $60 million per year, and he’d added a Newspaper, The Watchdog, to promote his opponents and assail his enemies.  Of course the paper was a give away toImage every customer at his supermarkets.  Not all Cas Walker stunts worked out as planned.  In 1956 Life magazine published a picture of Cas Walker throwing a punch at a fellow Councilman after a heated debate on property taxes.  Still he didn’t slow down, only voluntarily retiring from City Council in 1971.

For four decades Cas Walker personified East Tennessee.  I know that will cause a degree of consternation with my more progressive friends, both of them, but it is true.  He grew a business through the Depression, World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Civil Rights, and Vietnam, while still maintaining electability.  Warren G. Harding was President when he came to Knoxville from the coal mines.  Richard Nixon was halfway through his first term when he retired. Moreover, he gave a cultural boost to Tennessee music, launching the careers of Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers.  He also brought Chet Atkins, Jim Nabors, Roy Clark and countless others to the forefront.  Cas Walker was a Tennessee icon of the 20th Century.  We’ll end with a Dolly Parton performance on Cas Walker’s show in the 1960s.  She first appeared on Farm and Home Hour in 1954 at the age of 10.




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The First Battle for Secession; The Lost State of Franklin

On June 1, 1796 Tennessee became the 16th State of the United States.  Twelve years earlier, however, John Sevier led an effort through secession to petition our fledgling Republic for the admission of 8 East Tennesee counties as the 14th State.  The tale includes secession loststatefrom the sovereign, armed conflict with loyalists, resulting in charges of treason and arrest.

John Sevier, hero of Kings Mountain, remained the most dominant personality of the Southwest Frontier following the Revolutionary War.  In June 1784 North Carolina ceded land west of the Appalachian Mountains back to the Continental Congress. William Cocke and others approached Sevier to immediately petition Congress to establish the State of Franklin.

In October 1784, North Carolina rescinded its cession and attempted to reclaim the western land.  Although he’d been offered a military promotion to General in the North Carolina militia, Sevier opted to stay with his fellow Wataugans and became the would be State’s Governor.  Over the next four years a competing rivalry grew for citizen loyalty between North Carolina and Franklin.


John Sevier

North Carolina loyalists led by John Tipton brought the issue to a head in early 1788.  While Sevier was away doing as he did best, fighting the Cherokee, Tipton, a magistrate, ordered some of Sevier’s slaves seized for “taxes owed” to North Carolina.  In February 1788 Sevier led 150 militia onto the Tipton farm. Loyalist reinforcements from Sullivan caused Sevier to retreat, but not before shots were fired with several killed on both sides.  Thus, the first bloodshed over secession in America happened barely five months after the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia.

As North Carolina hadn’t ratified the Constitution, the bitter rivalry between Tipton and Sevier escalated when Tipton persuaded Governor Samuel Johnson to issue a criminal warrant for treason against Sevier in July, 1788.  In October after an altercation between

Governor Samuel Johnson

Governor Samuel Johnson

Sevier and a tavernkeeper, Tipton and others arrested Sevier and had him jailed in Morganton, NC.  The Sheriff, himself a Kings Mountain veteran, let Sevier escape quietly and he returned home.  John Sevier again swore allegiance to North Carolina and was pardoned one year after the Battle of Franklin. Sevier was elected to the North Carolina State Senate, where he worked for ratification of the US Constitution.  After ratification, he secured passage of a second Cession Act which turned over what is now Tennessee to the United States to become the Southwest Territory.

Sevier’s earlier controversy prohibited him  from being named Territorial Governor, but upon statehood in 1796, he was easily elected Tennessee’s first Governor.  The Tipton – Sevier family feud continued however and would bleed over into the next generation and fueled the rivalry between John Sevier and Andrew Jackson.

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Government Lost in Space; Debtstar of the Republic

“You know Government is out of control, when Congress speaks in trillions of dollars, while scientists still talk about billions of stars.” – Frank Niceley

ImageThere are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.  If every dollar of our National Debt were a star, it would be equivalent to 159 Milky Ways. Moreover, if you traveled at the speed of light, itImage would take 16 million years to get from one side of the debt to the other.  If you could view earth from the other side of our massive debt galaxy, dinosaurs would still be roaming the planet, instead of occupying the US Senate as they do now.

Still too hard to imagine the financial black hole America is being sucked into? The entire cost of the NASA Apollo Imageprogram that put a man on the moon was $100 billion in today’s dollars, or roughly one years cost of Food Stamps to the taxpayers.  TARP 2 was seven times the cost of putting a man on the moon.  So, the next starry night, go outside and gaze at the stars and imagine what kind of future we are leaving for future generations of Americans.  May the force be with you.     

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The Courage to Stand Alone Makes Duncan Outstanding on Farm Bill

“I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party on me… Look at my arms, you will find no party hand-cuff on them. ”
David Crockett

These words of Congressman David “Davy” Crockett sadly are more folklore than reality in Congress today.  It is a rare occurrence when a member of the majority party votes against the Speaker of the House.  Thursday, Congressman Jimmy Duncan stood alone as the only Republican among Tennessee’s seven GOP members voting against the near $1 trilliion Farm Bill.

ImageThe Senate passed the bill a few days earlier by a wide margin.  Speaker Boehner announced his support.  In fact, the majority of Rep. Duncan’s GOP House Caucus was behind the bill. Still Conservatives, myself included, railed against the pork laden subsidies for corporate farming and anemic curbs on food stamps that account for 80% of the legislation’s costs, with little or nothing to assist small farmers.  Rep. Duncan has long Imagesupported reforming crop insurance and farm subsidies.  Farmers need less regulation and interference from regulators than handouts.  Government policies destroyed the dairy farms in Tennessee under the guise of supports.  There has been a 42% increase in Tennessee families receiving food stamps.  No one would deny hungry families, but we have had to curb use of EBT cards from strip clubs and casinos in Tennessee.

In the end the Farm Bill was over 1,000 pages and weighed 24 lbs.  I joked earlier that the Armed Forces were considering the ability to lug the Farm Bill around a gender neutral test for combat positions, as it weighed almost half as much as a tank round.  However, besides the usually porcine padding and loopholes for large multi-national Imageagribusiness, this Farm Bill went out of its way to be creative with government largesse.  Included among the pages and pages of pork, the declaration of Martha’s Vineyard (left), tony playground for the rich as famous, as an agricultural zone, making the summer homes and mansions eligible for government backed mortgages.  Clearly, Rep. Jimmy Duncan made a courageous, but common sense vote in helping defeat this bill.  It will stand beside his prophetic vote against the Iraq War as one of his defining statesmanlike votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.  I remain proud to call Jimmy Duncan my Congressman.

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GMO Zealot, Insurance Salesman, Greg Johnson Misses Facts Again!

In my last post I pointed out the difficulty GMO Zealot, Greg Johnson, has with facts when it comes to writing his column.  One would think after our last tussle, he would be more careful.  But apparently Mr. Johnson takes the Super Dave approach to expository writingImage with apparent equal success.  In this column GMO zealot Greg Johnson works on the premise that somehow my position on food choice is weakened by a Monsanto VP winning an award for GMO research. 

I don’t see what difference it makes to be awarded a prize for GMO research funded to a large degree by the GMO industry.  I certainly don’t think its inappropriate.  Chambers of Commerce and other trade organizations gather for fancy dinners to pat each other on the back all the time.  The issue is facts seem to be elusive to zealots, and Greg Johnson is not an exception to the rule. In the several columnar inches devoted to this piece, zealot Johnson fails to mention the funding behind the World Food Prize.  Also, GMO zealot Johnson ignores the prize’s tie to the “incredibly dangerous” Obama “cult of personality”  My mother had a favorite saying:

Don’t pull your arm out of socket patting yourself on the back.

A quick look at the funding spreadsheet for the World Food Prize Foundation finds it is top heavy with donors having close industry and agenda ties to the GMO Agribusinesses, including $4 million from the taxpayers of Iowa, who produce one of the largest GMO cornImage crops in America.  Apparently, GMO zealot Greg Johnson only worries about taxpayer money and the Obama “cult” when it suits him.  Forget the ?? next to my name. It is Greg Johnson that has bought the whole slab of globaloney.

My position is simple.  If the people in the European Union, Russia, or Japan have choices over GMO food, my neighbor down the street should too.     

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Why is GMO Zealot Greg Johnson Making Up These Things About Me?

ImageOn May 25, I made this filmed speech to the Knoxville March on Monsanto, one of 400 such rallies worldwide to raise awareness of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).  I was honored to be asked by area small farmers to speak on my legislation and accomplishments in agriculture. One week later GMO zealot, Greg Johnson, published a column not only attacking to me personally, but so devoid of fact, one really has to question his motives.  Here is a glaring example:

Niceley and the other nonscientists want genetically modified foods banned. Just last week, a Sanders-sponsored amendment to require the labeling of genetically modified foods failed in the U.S. Senate by 27 to 71.

First, my degree is in Plant and Soil Science, with a minor in Animal Science.  I have owned and operated a farm all my adult life and served as House Agriculture Committee Chairman. I am at least as qualified as Biology graduate, turned insurance salesman and GMO zealot,Image Greg Johnson, to comment on the subject. 

Second, I have never advocated banning of GMO foods.  In fact, I have been in discussions with the University of Tennessee, as well as the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to work on a dual track agriculture, involving mass production for the world and viable local farms to increase the nutrition in local communities.  My position is if the European Union and countries like Japan can choose not to buy GMO food, my neighbor down the street should have the same choice. 

Finally, the Sanders amendment was to “permit” states to require labeling, which is problematic and why I did not pursue that legislation.  Obviously, GMO zealot Johnson knows nothing of my background, didn’t listen to my speech or even read the proposed amendment.  What I am working on is a way local farmers and gardeners can determine Imagewhether the seeds they buy are GMO, hybrids or open pollinated.  And I would like to see legislation to allow Tennessee producers to label their foods as Non GMO should they choose.  Unlike GMO zealot Greg Johnson I support consumer choice and free market solutions.  Greg Johnson is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but he shouldn’t be so blatant in misrepresenting mine.  The consumers and farmers in Tennessee deserve much better.   

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