VIEW FROM LICK SKILLET: Some random thoughts on the passing scene

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By Gerald Largen

In our column for 7 Jan., we wrote of our delight in Gov. Haslam’s appointment of Jim Henry to his cabinet.

Well, it’s now official — Monday, 7 March, Jim was officially sworn in to be the state’s first Commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Development Disabilities, or DIDD.

We were pleased to have been invited to attend the ceremonies in the old Supreme Court Room in the Capitol.

The event was attended by an over-flow crowd, with folks standing three deep around the walls of the large room. As might have been expected, Roane County was well represented, but so were many other areas, and as has normally been the case throughout Jim’s career, it was a bipartisan crowd.

It was good to see so many of Jim’s family in attendance, especially his mother, Miss Lorene. It would have been great had his father, Ira, known to one and all as “Scoby” Henry, lived to see the day.

Our connexion with the Henry family goes back to the very first day that we started to practice in Kingston and went to lunch with Bob Badger at the old Hut Cafeteria where we first saw “Scoby” and then virtually every day thereafter for several years.

In the meantime Jim had embarked on his political career by being elected to Kingston City Council at a time when we held the position of City Attorney, which we continued to hold throughout the rest of his career as councilman and mayor.

The day was made doubly enjoyable by the fact that we traveled to Nashville with Judge E.E. Eblen, his lovely wife, and the delightful Regina Webster.

Inasmuch as Governor Haslam chose to eat lunch at the Hermitage dining room at the same time our party did, and at a table only a couple of yards away, the old curmudgeon concluded that we could in all truth report that we had had lunch with the governor!


Another coincidence of folks being in the same place at the same time occurring on Monday’s trip was the unlikely presence in this one room of all four of the men who have held the office of county executive for Roane County, but in truth we were all there.

Your humble scribe was the first to hold the office; then Hon. Ken Yager, now our state senator; he was followed by Hon. Mike Farmer who was there, accompanied by his lovely wife; and finally the present incumbent, Hon. Ron Woody was also present.

The bipartisan nature of this group shows once again how Jim Henry, despite his undoubted loyalty to the Republican Party, has friends and admirers from all parts of the political spectrum.

Speaking of bipartisanship, last week saw an example which showed that this is not universally a good thing.

We refer to the endorsement of creation of a no-fly zone over Libya by U.S. Senators John Mc-Cain, Republican, and John Kerry, Democrat.

What makes it almost bizarre for these two to endorse our meddling in this civil war is the fact that both were so intimately concerned in one of our former disastrous involvements in a foreign civil war, i.e. Viet Nam.

While there is no question that the rebels are 100 percent correct in their attempt to overthrow the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, that doesn’t mean that the U.S. should put its oar in these particular troubled waters.

It would make much more sense were we to exert our power in the situation in Côte d’lvoire, or Ivory Coast, but we have correctly concluded that it is not our right, nor our responsibility to see that every wrong is righted by spending U.S. blood and treasure.

If it were the case that this was our responsibility, then before we did another thing we would go into Tibet and throw out the Chinese invaders, and restore the Dalai Lama to his rightful place in Lhasa.

What made the McCain/Kerry position even more outlandish was a further suggestion by McCain that we might also supply arms and equipment to the rebels, and provide them with military advisers!

Those with a good memory and a sufficient number of years will clearly recall that that is just exactly how we got involved in the Viet Nam morass in the first place. Eisenhower sent in the “military advisers” and got us firmly committed, and one thing led to another, with Kennedy expanding the commitment somewhat, and Johnson expanding it into one of our longest and most costly wars ever.

(As we have previously told you, it was from his efforts to hide the cost of this expansion in the mid-60s that we now have the misunderstanding in 2011 of the funding of Social Security.)

George Washington warned against foreign entanglements. It was good advice in 1797 and it’s good advice in 2011.


Many Republicans are engaged in a no-holds-barred assault on collective bargaining, by attempting to deprive unions of this right.

Do they in their typical hardheaded unwillingness to recognize reality not realize that any time corporations engage in bargaining, it is collective bargaining?

Think about it. Corporations are collective associations of holders of assets (normally wealth) who wish to pool their resources to achieve some common goal, usually to increase their income and positions.

Unions are collective associations of holders of assets (normally their capacity to work, either physically or intellectually) who wish to pool their resources to achieve some common goal, usually to increase their income and positions.

So, are these opponents of collective bargaining going to forbid their friends in the corporations from engaging in this form or bargaining? Not on your life!

Finally, we offer this quotation from Bill Bryson’s book. Notes from a Small Island, published in 1995, detailing a nostalgic trip around England before returning home after a two decades residence there.

This comment was provoked on hearing the joy in an anchorman’s announcement that the Korean company Samsung was to build a new factory in Tyneside that would employ 800 people in that part of England.

In reaction to this Bryson wrote:

“Now call me an unreconstructed Philistine, but it seems to me — and I offer this observation in a spirit of friendship— that when a nation’s industrial prowess has plunged so low that it is reliant on Korean firms for its future economic security, then perhaps it is time to readdress one’s educational priorities and maybe give a little thought to what’s going to put some food on the table in 2010.”

Well, 2010 has been here and gone, but we still haven’t given much thought to what’s going on, have we?