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Columns

  • Gridlock deals Congress out of policy-making

    Earlier this year, it seemed there might be some hope for Capitol Hill when Congress dealt easily with raising the debt ceiling.

    But don’t let that one episode fool you.

    As President Obama and House Republicans circle each other over the forthcoming budget cuts known as the “sequester,” it’s a reminder that Congress and the White House have a complicated legislative agenda ahead.

    The big issue, of course, will be the budget and fiscal affairs.

    Can we get our fiscal house in order?

  • Celebrity protection unnecessary, harmful

    By KEN PAULSON
    First Amendment Center
    It’s open season on paparazzi in celebrity-laden states as legislatures gear up to protect the rich and famous.

    Most recently, the Hawaii legislature was so grateful that Aerosmith singer and American Idol judge Steven Tyler purchased a home on Maui that it named an anti-paparazzi bill after him.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: What mischief will state legislature produce?

    There used to be a saying concerning state legislatures to the effect that no man’s life nor property was safe as long as the legislature was in session.

    That saying could never have been more appropriate than now, in the state of Tennessee.

  • A blueprint for building a better Congress

    By LEE H. HAMILTON
    A few weeks ago, the survey firm Public Policy Polling made headlines when it released a poll comparing Congress’s standing to a variety of unloved things.
    Respondents did prefer our national legislature to the ebola virus, but otherwise the news was grim: Americans, the survey suggested, have a lower opinion of Congress than of head lice, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and root canals.
    I’ll admit it: I chuckled, though I don’t really agree.
    Having experienced both, I put Congress well ahead of root canals.

  • Looseleaf Laureate: Still seeking your winter storm survival stories

    By the time you read this, you’ll know whether predictions for a big ice storm Friday were accurate or a bust.
    I’d be just fine if those forecasts were nothing more than false alarms, but I do feel a little excitement all the same.
    I don’t want to be in the cold with lines down and power out.
    Still, there’s beauty even in the deadliness of an ice-glazed landscape.
    My sister lives in Lexington, Ky., where damage from an ice storm a few years ago is still apparant in trees that were ripped apart under the weight of the ice.

  • County chief apologizes to Blair community

    By RON WOODY
    Roane County Executive
    The closing of the Blair Convenience Center noted at the Roane County Commission meeting in January showed my lack of political experience and knowledge of politics.

    Prior to the Blair Convenience Center’s closing, our office reviewed reports, evaluated service, studied the financial impacts and discussed the closure of the Blair Convenience Center for more than a year with our commission.

    No maliciousness was intended to any individuals or groups in the Blair community.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: More on Second Amendment background

    From reports we have heard, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is soon going to appear before one or more congressional committees to testify about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. employees were killed, or murdered.

  • Looseleaf laureate: Want to share your Blizzard of ’93 memories?

    January’s winter mood swings have been extreme this year.

    We’ve gone from comfortable shirt-sleeve weather to heavy rain and floods, then winter storm warnings and, so forecasters say, bright sunshine.

    I remember one January that was pretty monochromatic — read that as snowy white and bitterly cold.

    In January 1978, I managed to make my way through a winter storm back to campus at Western Kentucky University.

  • Former congressman laments divisions

    Ordinarily, the start of a new Congress is a time for optimism.

    Fresh faces and a purposeful spirit combine to get Congress off to a hope-filled start.

    Yet Capitol Hill right now is far from optimistic. That’s because last year’s session, with its distressing end by the edge of the fiscal cliff, left the new Congress confronting head on all the challenges that should have been resolved but weren’t: getting spending and the deficit under control, spurring economic growth, and reforming the tax code.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Which do you serve, America or Israel?

    Gentle reader, public discourse in this great republic may be approaching a crisis point, and if not, a boiling point.

    This state of affairs arises from the President’s action in attempting to fill certain cabinet vacancies, especially the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.

    He has named long-time C.I.A. operative John Brennan to head that agency, and former Republican Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.