Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

The Right Stuff takes a provisional holiday; back April 28

Published:
By Tom Jackson

The Right Stuff is, officially, taking a spring holiday (beginning with a whirlwind visit to London, which is why I’ve applied the British variation of “vacation”) through April 27. But that doesn’t mean it absolutely, positively won’t weigh in on occasion if the moment, issue or happenstance presents itself. No matter what, however, all-new episodes of TRS insights episodes are scheduled to resume April 28.

Click to continue reading this post

Ranchers: One endangered species the feds couldn’t care less about

Published:
By Tom Jackson

I don’t presume to have a sufficient grasp of the recent activity or the laws involved over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s “trespass cattle,” but I trust both the competency and legal expertise of PowerLine founder John Hinderaker. Accordingly, his thoughtful take can be found here.

Hinderaker does not shy from conceding that the law is against Bundy, and that he has been given due process. But there’s more to this than legal proceedings, things such as tradition, an honored way of life and the fact that once upon a time, Washington and Far West ranchers had a deal. But that’s all changing now, stampeding tradition, honor and long-held agreements into oblivion.

Hinderaker suspects, among other things, the Bureau of Land Management wants Bundy’s cattle off the expanse his family has been ranching for more than 100 years as mitigation territory for desert tortoises displaced by development of a nearby solar energy complex. Then, in a close approximation of the money graf, he writes:

Click to continue reading this post

‘Most dangerous scandal’ in U.S. history?

Published:
By Tom Jackson

I don’t know if the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status is “the most dangerous in U.S. history,” as Monica Crowley charged on the Fox Business Channel Thursday. After all, didn’t President Obama tell us back on Super Bowl Sunday there wasn’t “even a smidgen of corruption”? And when’s the last time the President fibbed to us?

Still, the more the revelations mount, the harder it is to dismiss Crowley’s argument.

“In the past when the IRS was used as a political weapon,” she said, “it was always elites against elites. So it was the Kennedys against Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson against Richard Nixon, or Richard Nixon merely suggesting it be used against another political opponent.”

Click to continue reading this post

Hammerin’ Hank’s chin music

Published:
By Tom Jackson

I never will regret having rooted for Hank Aaron to break Babe Ruth’s career homerun record, just as I will never lose the vivid memory of watching it happen in the family room of the Gainesville townhouse my college roommates and I shared, on the 24-inch color RCA television provided by one of their dads.

I wanted Hammerin’ Hank to overtake Ruth because it would be history made in my lifetime, and not some fuzzy past remembered only on archived newsreels. Also because he had grown up in the South. And because he seemed like an altogether decent fellow.

And especially because it was no secret the worst sort of virulent racists weren’t just rooting against him, they were waging psychological warfare bristling with insults and threats. And that his team, the Atlanta Braves, took those threats seriously, assigning him a security guard and, on the road, putting him in hotels separate from his teammates, under an assumed name.

Click to continue reading this post

Selectively ostracized, blindly admired

Published:
By Tom Jackson

Brandeis University, which apparently performs less background research on its honorary degree candidates than a newspaper stringer does before covering a high school football game, withdrew the award Tuesday it had extended to noted Somali-born global women’s rights advocate, atheist activist and fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In a release announcing its reversal, Brandeis, in Massachusetts near Boston, acknowledged that Hirsi Ali is “a compelling public figure and … we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world.”

You know a “but” is coming. Here ’tis: “That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.”

Click to continue reading this post

Uninsured numbers dip; left gloats – prematurely?

Published:
By Tom Jackson

There was crowing all around on the left the other day when Gallup announced it detected a steep drop in the number of uninsured Americans in the first quarter of 2014, down to 15.6 percent from 18.0 percent (an all-time high) at the end of the third quarter in 2013.

Gallup credits Obamacare for the drop (but not for the third-quarter spike, when individual-market policyholders were getting dumped for “substandard” insurance), saying the program “appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage.

“Even within this year’s first quarter, the uninsured rate fell consistently, from 16.2 percent in January to 15.6 percent in February to 15.0 percent in March. And within March, the rate dropped more than a point, from 15.5 percent in the first half of the month to 14.5 percent in the second half—indicating that enrollment through the healthcare exchanges increased as the March 31 deadline approached.”

Click to continue reading this post

Poll puts Scott in front; outlier or trend detector?

Published:   |   Updated: April 8, 2014 at 12:16 AM
By Tom Jackson

Regarding the first poll to find Rick Scott ahead of Charlie Crist in the race for governor, the lead on the column by the legendary Jim Murray on the morning after Kirk Gibson's outlandish walk-off homerun in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series applies:

“Well, you can believe that if you want to.”

This is not to denigrate the outfit – Voter Survey Service – that conducted the survey that put Scott a point ahead of Crist, 45-44, or the website – right-of-center Sunshine State News – for whom it was commissioned. It is simply to note that (a) the poll is the first to indicate any sort of lead for the Republican incumbent, who has trailed by substantial (if shrinking) margins in all previous polls and (b) the internals suggest a larger and wider swing faster than seems reasonable.

Click to continue reading this post

Was that the sound of Jeb shooting his foot off?

Published:
By Tom Jackson

A little more than a year ago, during a frenetic newsmaking tour of the nation many would like to see him lead – no, silly, not Mexico – Jeb Bush paused at Saint Leo University to deliver an hour-long talk that sounded for all the world like his Presidential Stump Speech 1.0. It was a seamless, flawless, wide-ranging, detailed, thoughtful and mostly right-of-center critique of how to revive the American economy, up to and including his take on illegal immigration.

This is some of what I wrote then:

“His proposal is a four-legged stool supported by low-cost domestic hydrocarbon harvested from public and private lands; weeding antiquities from the vast regulatory code; reorganizing education around no-excuses accountability and student-centered digital learning; and broad-based immigration reform.

Click to continue reading this post

Setting free the First Amendment, one shackle at a time

Published:
By Tom Jackson

Politics, rude, rollicking and messy by nature, is likely to get even more so in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week that eliminates caps on the amount of money individuals can donate to candidates and political parties. I know, hell, hand basket, etc. Easy there.

The ruling also left in place (over Justice Clarence Thomas’ energetic dissent) perfectly arbitrary limits on how much candidates for federal office can accept from each donor, $2,600 per race; $5,200 per year. One shackle at a time. Rescuing the First Amendment from imprisonment by a jealous political class egged on by a mass-media monopoly is, like defusing an intricately wired bomb or performing neurosurgery, a delicate task.

Still, the eventual outcome – a full unraveling of McCain-Feingold’s attack on political speech – seems inevitable.

Click to continue reading this post

Voter fraud: First, admit it’s a problem (the evidence is out there)

Published:   |   Updated: April 4, 2014 at 12:14 AM
By Tom Jackson

Admitting there’s a problem is to solution building as sunrise is to the day: Without it, there is only fumbling in the darkness.

So it is with voter fraud.

Condemned for years to bottom-of-a-coal-mine blindness, those suspicious of significant election-rigging at every level and in every region of American politics have suffered more stubbed toes than anyone could possibly count – these tend to be Republicans – while those suspected of benefitting from ballot-box hanky-panky – these tend to be Democrats – have dismissed their rivals’ concerns as racism, classicism, paranoia and worse.

Click to continue reading this post