Capitol View Commentary: Friday, September 6, 2013

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, September 6, 2013

CREATED Sep 6, 2013


By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

September 6, 2013



As Congress debates U.S. military force being used in Syria, my guest this week on INSIDE POLITICS has a personal stake in the matter. MTSU professor Dr. Saleh Sbenaty was born and raised in Syria and still has family there.

Trained as an engineer, Dr. Sbenaty has also given lectures and presentations on Islam and Middle East politics. He shares his thoughts and views as our nation continues a decades-long struggle over what is the proper way for America to use its military power in the world. We also talk about the background of the bloody Syrian civil war and the future of that land and the whole Middle East, especially if (or more likely when) the U.S. gets involved there.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. Our air times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5. We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m., Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5's over-the-air digital channel. Portions of INSIDE POLITICS interviews are also later posted on NEWSCHANNEL5.com.

And don't forget you can now watch INSIDE POLITICS in real time with live streaming video on NewsChannel5.com. That means if you have a computer and internet access, you can see INSIDE POLITICS anytime its airs on the PLUS. It no longer matters what cable or satellite service you have or where you live. So watch us!


In the 2014 GOP Race for Tennessee's U.S. Senate seat, there's already some interesting political anger on display. As you would expect both candidates, incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander and challenger State Representative Joe Car have Facebook pages. Both are populated with positive messages from the campaigns and photos from campaign events.

What you might not expect to see are the messages from site visitors on the Alexander page that really take the Senator to task. For example, there's this one under a posting with photos from the Senator's recent campaign visit to the Tennessee Soybean Festival in Martin, Tennessee. "Good place for you to plan your retirement party coming up next year! " Another poster said: "And just keep on walking…and don't come back." A third one added: "I would love to meet you at a public event and explain why it is time for you to retire." Those putting up messages seem particularly concerned that Alexander vote to defund Obamacare and against the president's proposed military action in Syria. But said one posting: "It don't matter what you do now, I'm not voting for you again." It is interesting to note that so far Senator Bob Corker has been the only Tennessee congressional leader openly supportive of military action in Syria and even he has led the effort in the Senate to restrict the scope and duration of any action. Our other Tennesseans in Washington say they are undecided or opposed to Syrian action.

Getting back to Facebook, I checked Carr's page and found almost no negative comments there. Maybe the administrators of his site keep access to the page differently or delete negative comments more quickly. I don't know what the difference is. I don't offer this report to gauge what amount of support the Carr campaign is receiving. All I am pointing out is this. All the people posting on the Alexander site are using their names (or at least the names they use on Facebook). These are not anonymous rants as you sometimes used to see on media sites. These folks must be pretty mad to post the pointed comments they are making (by the way none I saw were vulgar or used bad language). Still they don't seem mind that everyone knows their unhappiness, even the Senator himself. That's what the First Amendment is all about, even if it does seem just a little rude to me.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail this week, Senator Alexander continued to spotlight his efforts on behalf of conservative causes, including a bill he is co-sponsoring with GOP conservative favorite, Representative Stephen Fincher of West Tennessee. Their bill would require the IRS to notify taxpayers any time that federal agency tries to review their tax information. The bill was touted with a statewide news release and an op-ed article signed by both lawmakers and printed in several newspapers across Tennessee.

Representative Carr got a break when former Williamson County GOP Party Chair Kevin Kookogey backed out of any primary challenge to Alexander. First, he said he would be an "unannounced, announced candidate" now he's not running at all, leaving Carr still head on head with Alexander. But Tea Party groups are still holding listening sessions to see if others want to jump in the race, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile Senator Alexander may be getting something of a break as one outside group (the federal political action committee run by former Senator Jim DeMint) is not running TV ads putting the political heat on his former colleague for not committing to vote in favor of defunding Obamacare. The ads are not far away however as they are running in Kentucky against Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is also facing primary opposition for re-election next year.


Some decidedly mixed news this week for Tennessee State government in terms of technology. First, here's the good news. According to a news release from Governor Bill Haslam's office (September 5), the Center for Digital Government has named the state's official web site (www.TN.gov) the best such site in the nation as a part of the group's annual "Best of the Web" competition. The state has received a couple of awards in this area recently as that's good news as more and more folks want to do their business with the state on-line.

So what's the bad news? A story by THE TENNESSEAN has found despite a couple of years of efforts, Governor Haslam's effort to decrease waiting lines and delays at the state's driver license centers are not working. In fact, the problems have gotten worse and the delays got longer last year, says the paper.

Why? Well one reason is a huge increase in folks applying for gun carry permits in the wake of all the continued debate about firearms in both Washington and Nashville. What is the other reason for the DMV problems? It's a balky new computer system that isn't working as expected. Uh oh


First, Nashville was the "IT" City. Now we are becoming the home of reality TV shows.

The weekly ABC network show makes no bones it is a (somewhat cheesy) soap opera. How close to reality these two new shows (on A&E and TNT) will be remain to be seen. Both reportedly will air 8 one-hour episodes during 2014. The A&E show called "Crazy Hearts: Nashville" will follow "startup musicians trying to make it in Nashville". Now there's an original topic. The other show on TNT "Nashville Confidential" will "take viewers behind the scenes in the music industry including the power couples that run it." Sounds like another soap opera to me.

Oh well, hopefully they will spell our name right and show some more great looking pictures of our town all across the country.


It's been back to the doctors for me the past two weeks.

Not to worry, I'm fine.

My appointments were my annual checkup with my Vanderbilt allergy doc and (on her suggestion) several folks at the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic. I've told you before I've been concerned (more irritated really) about my raspy voice since the stroke, plus a lot of occasional nasal drainage and congestion making me feel like I always had a little bit of a cold. I've even had fits of sneezing at times, too.

What I have found particularly annoying is my inability to sing as I usually do. Now I'm no rock or opera star, but I have pretty good baritone voice that has been greatly reduced in tone and strength in recent months. Singing is something I'd like to enjoy again. Now I sound so bad (weak, frankly) I sometimes don't even like singing in church or in the shower.

So what's the problem? Well, after a battery of tests and the chance to see a video of my own vocal chords in action (that's a little weird to watch I must admit) the doctor gave me the good news. I don't have any physical issues or left-over impairments from my stroke.

So what do I need to do? Increase my fluid intake. In particular, drink lots and lots of water every day.

It's the not the first time I've been told that (the Vanderbilt allergy doctor suggested it). What's different is that this time (as I done several times since my stroke) I'm going to have to get serious, change my lifestyle and start drinking water…a lot…everyday!

The doctor also wants me to watch my caffeine intake. The good news is he said the one cola beverage I now allow myself at a meal each day and the two cups of coffee I drink every morning at work are OK. He did add cutting all that out might be considered "cruel and unusual punishment". He's right. Thanks, Doc!

One of my challenges is all the medications I still take include a number that dehydrate me. So does using my sleep apnea machine every night he says. So here comes the water….along with probably a new companion to carry around….a water bottle. I've always thought the folks I saw doing that were just a little strange. Well for me I guess, strange it is.

The doctor says if this doesn't clear up the problem, I may need to go back and take some vocal lessons to make sure my breathing and my posture are correct and that I am not getting into an old bad habit of talking too much and too long without breathing properly. (I know I can hear a lot of friends laughing about that).

So I'm working on it….and drinking water….and drinking water…and probably going to the bathroom a lot too.

But if this corrects the problem it will be more than worth it!

I go back to the vocal doc for a follow-up in December, if I need it. Maybe instead I'll be singing Christmas carols by then!