Archive for the 'Mississippi' Category

More From My Interview With Joe Tegerdine

A few days ago, I posted an article I wrote for the May 2010 edition of The Radionian, which was based on interviews I conducted with U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi’s 4th district and his potential November opponent, Joe Tegerdine. Due to the constraints of an article, I was not able to include all of the information I garnered. Also, since it was strictly a news article and not an opinions article, I witheld my impressions and thoughts to preserve the integrity of the medium (besides, had I included my impressions, they would have been edited out anyway).

So, I’m going to post some more quotes and impressions from the interviews with the candidate and the Congressman. Here’s more from my conversation with Joe Tegerdine. Later, I will post more from my conversation with Congressman Taylor as well.

The Town Hall Meeting:

Joe Tegerdine went a little more in depth on the Town Hall meeting that spawned his candidacy. According to him, Taylor was dodging questions of other attendees and refusing to adequately answer one of his own, which was about The Give Act.

“I couldn’t believe how arrogant and condescending our congressman is. You know, you watch it on television and you just see these guys spin questions and never answer questions, and you expect it because it’s TV.”

“At the end I answered questions of people he had refused to answer, and then his comment to me was ‘This is my town hall meeting, not yours.'”

On the Political Establishment and His Candidacy:

“I called around our Republican leadership and talked to some of our elected leaders and nobody believed Gene Taylor could be beat.”

“I said ‘No, we can beat him. If we run the right campaign we can win.'”

“I think even some of the Democrats are starting to realize that they’ve put our country in a precarious situation economically.”

“If you have people in there who are making decisions based on re election and based on special interests–lobby money that they get through PACs–then the problems are not going to subside. We’ll continue on the same destructive path.”

“On our state level I’ve met a lot of are representatives. They’re pretty excited. They look at this as the future of politics of America. This is going to help us get back on track.”

“There’s always that negative element–the power structure, the powers that be–they don’t like to be challenged, and they don’t like someone like me who is an outsider to their politican network–coming and rattling the cages a bit.”

“I truly believe that if I wasn’t a viable candidate they would just ignore me. But based on the attacks I’m getting from both of my opponents, I’m pretty sure they both feel like ‘Okay, this guy is a challenger.’ And for Taylor, I’m a challenger. For Palazzo, I’m the guy he’s got to try to beat.”

“I’m not coming in ignorant. You know, just yelling and angry. I actually have some substance to what I believe and what I’m saying and what I think we need to do to get things back in order.”

On Education:

“I think that at some level you have to say, ‘Let’s stop treating the symptoms’– you know, all these different programs–Let’s put the responsibility back on the parents and say educate your kids.”

“There’s a lesson to be learned from winning and there’s a lesson to be learned from losing. I played on championship football teams and I played on teams that didn’t win a game the entire season and I learned valuable lessons from both. That’s life.”

“You’re going to probably fail more times that you’re going to succeed. So why are trying to insulate ourselves from that? Why are we trying to insulate our children from that lesson? It’s really absurd.”

On Welfare:

“I think the government has to slowly wean the states off of federal aid. It’s not Constitutional. I think you have to slowly wean them off. You can’t do it overnight or you’d have a humanitarian crisis.”

“We have to incentivize people to work. So if somebody can make $1000 a month working a job but the federal government gives them $1200 to do nothing, you have to remove that equation.”

On Term Limits:

Under Joe Tegerdine’s proposed Constitutional amendment, Senators would only be limited to only serving two terms (twelve years) and House Representatives would be limited to four terms (eight years). I asked him, however, why Senators should get twelve years when House Reps and even the President was limited to eight. He agreed that it would make sense to limit them to only eight years as well.

“I could see them having four years terms so that they would be like the President. I think that would be fine. I don’t think Senators have to be in there six years. I think it’s not as crucial for them to serve six.”

“I feel like we’ve been experimenting the for the last three-hundreds years with no term limits and I think it’s time we did a little experimenting with term limits.”

But how would we ever get Congressman and Senators to place limits on the offices that they themselves hold?

“Put in an exemption that this law only applies to new people coming into office,” he said.

On Faith

“As a candidate, I feel that it’s important that people know what my faith is.”

“I think people in our district expect to know where people stand on faith and religion. They want a leader who is going to be a strong Christian. I appreciate the other elected officials in our state who will mention their faith, their commitment to Christian principles.”

“When I think about the Establishment Clause, I think it’s definitely been misinterpreted. I don’t think that our founding fathers ever intended for the bill of rights to take religion out of government. If their intent was that there would be a state religion or a preference given to one denomination. I think for some reason we got way for off to where people think that Separation of Church and State means that there is no place for religion. There’s a reason why we traditionally have opened our sessions of Congress with a word of prayer. There’s a reason why at the inauguration there’s a prayer. It’s part of our culture, our heritage–our Christian faith. And to try to deny that or remove that from the public square is to take away from a necessary part of our culture.”

On Abortion:

“Ideally, Roe v. Wade would have never been put before the Supreme Court and it would have remained a state issue. But we know that some of the people in minority position will manipulate courts or push things through to get the court’s recognition and the approval that they desire.”

“I’ve considered before ‘What do you do with abortion?’ It’s really difficult because of that precedent that has been set with Roe v. Wade because they can’t legislate and say ban abortions. I think the only way to ban abortions would be a Constitutional Amendment that prohibits abortions. Otherwise I’m afraid it’s always going to be with us.”

“I would support anything that would help eliminate abortion.”

“Abortion affects our culture in ways that we sometimes don’t even realize. It permeates our thoughts about life and the sanctity of life and our relationship with others.”

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Interviews With Joe Tegerdine and U.S. Representative Gene Taylor

Tegerdine and Taylor Discuss 2010 Elections, Issues

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
May 2010, Volume 86, No. 7

The 2010 midterm elections are shaping up to produce heated contests all across the nation that could drastically change the political landscape this November. One of those races may well take place in Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Gulfport, Biloxi, Hattiesburg and Laurel.

Several candidates have stepped up to challenge incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, who has occupied his seat for more than 20 years. One of those challengers is businessman Joe Tegerdine who resides with his family in Petal. Taylor and Tegerdine both took time to speak to “The Radionian” about the election, their positions on the issues, and their visions for America’s future.

Congressional Candidate Joe Tegerdine (R-Mississippi)

“There’s a lesson to be learned from winning and there’s a lesson to be learned from losing. I have learned valuable lessons from both. That’s life.” Photo by Ashton Pittman

One year ago, Joe Tegerdine was virtually unknown in South Mississippi. Today, most favor him to win the June 1st primary for the Republican nomination to the 4th District’s U.S. Representative Seat.

Tegerdine said that his campaign began last year after he involved himself with the local Tea Party group, with whom he attended an April 2009 Town Hall meeting held by Taylor. Tegerdine said that during the meeting, he and Taylor had a heated exchange.

“People were cheering after I spoke,” said Tegerdine. “Immediately, someone tapped me on my shoulder and said ‘Hey, have you thought about running for office?’”

At the time, Tegerdine had only considered getting involved in politics at an older age. However, over the following weeks, he made a decision after finding himself troubled by national events.

“It was the realization that if I didn’t do something today, then I would not have the country I grew up in to pass to my children,” he said.

Tegerdine entered the race with business experience, a bachelor’s degree in communications, and a juris doctorate, but he lacked political experience. He considers that a positive.

“I truly believe that if we are going to put our country back on the right track, average, everyday Americans have to take the country back from career politicians,” he said.

Tegerdine believes that one of the biggest problems in American politics is the propensity for career politicians to be continuously reelected with the aid of special interest groups. He plans to champion an amendment that would limit U.S. Senators to two terms and U.S. Representatives to four terms. He has pledged to serve no more than four terms if elected.

As a Congressman, he would also like to work to wean Americans off dependency on entitlement programs that he believes will eventually bankrupt our economy. He related his story of being raised with four siblings by a single mom and the struggles they faced.

“She justifiably needed some help,” he said, “but I firmly believe that kind of help needs to come from your family, your church, your charitable organizations, and the very last option would be your community.”

He disagrees with critics who have alleged that he seeks to cut the lifelines of the needy.

“I believe that if we take the federal government out of the equation, people will start being more charitable again and families will take responsibility for their ailing or disabled family members,” Tegerdine said. “I think it’s a fallacy and a lie to think that just because the federal government isn’t there with a handout that somehow we would lose our humanity and not take care of each other. I think that we are starting to lose our humanity because we have just allowed the government to take care of our loved ones.”

Tegerdine also takes a family-based approach to education.

“We’ve got to find a way in our country to reengage parents in their children’s education,” he said, adding that parents, not federal bureaucracy, are the key to our children’s education.

He disagrees with educational programs that insulate children from failure.

“There’s a lesson to be learned from winning and there’s a lesson to be learned from losing,” he said. “I have learned valuable lessons from both. That’s life.”

Congressman Gene Taylor (D-Mississippi)

Station Gulfport Ribbon Cutting

“I wish everyone had been as concerned about the national debt as I have been. You can’t spend more, collect less, and pretend it’s going to work.” Photo by uspcgpress of Flickr.

Congressman Gene Taylor has served as the Mississippi’s 4th district U.S. Representative since his initial election in 1989. While the anti-incumbent mood is causing concern for some incumbents, Taylor is not worried.

“People have been running against me for 20 years,” he laughed.

He disagrees with Joe Tegerdine’s idea on term limits.

“I oppose them,” he said. “We already have term limits—elections.”

He also dismissed criticism levied against him by opponents accusing him of supporting Nancy Pelosi.

“That’s an election that took place in San Francisco,” he said. Taylor believes that his record will show him to be on the side of the American people, not fellow politicians.

Some have suggested that his ability to hold this Seat for 20 years in one of the nation’s most Republican districts is remarkable. His success in the 4th District may be largely due to his willingness to embrace conservatism. He emphatically describes himself as a “very conservative Democrat.”

However, his party has moved to the left over the past year, with lavish stimulus packages and a liberal healthcare reform bill. Even so, Taylor does not place the blame solely on his party.

“I wish everyone had been as concerned about the national debt as I have been,” he said. “You can’t spend more, collect less, and pretend it’s going to work.”

Taylor said that he has been concerned about federal spending under both Democrat and Republican presidents.

When it comes to the recently passed health care reform bill, the only question for Taylor is whether it should be repealed or amended.

“I would prefer to repeal it,” he explained. “I guess it’s going to depend upon the makeup of the Congress in January.”

He does not believe, however, that the bill is entirely bad.

“Some provisions are worthwhile,” he said, pointing to the portion that bars insurance companies from discriminating against those who have pre-existing conditions.

Even so, he believes that bulk of the bill is bad policy that will only add to the national debt.

Taylor conceded that tackling the national debt crisis will not be easy.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” said Taylor.

He explained that the ongoing wars in the Middle East, programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and an aging population are all complicating the problem.

“This is why we don’t need to make any new promises,” Taylor said.

When it comes to paying off the debt, Taylor does not rule out the possibility of raising taxes.

“There will have to be some changes,” he said. “If we’re going to be at war, then we ought to be willing to pay for that war right now. Any program worth doing is worth paying for right now.”

Taylor offered advice for college students who may feel discouraged by the woes facing our country.

“Read history,” he said. “When you read history, you realize that every generation of Americans has had significant challenges.”

Whether it was the people who had to weather the Great Depression and World War II, or those who had to serve in Korea and Vietnam, Taylor said each generation of Americans has risen to meet its challenges.

“I intend to help us to face these challenges and to protect the freedoms and liberties we cherish so that we can leave a better place for our children and grandchildren,” Taylor said.

Interview With MS State Senator Chris McDaniel

McDaniel Discusses ‘Nathan’s Law,’ Economy

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
February 2010, Volume 86, No. 4

Recently, Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) of the 42nd District, a JCJC alumni, spoke to The Radionian about issues that lawmakers in Jackson are currently dealing with. McDaniel offered insight into several of these issues and shared some of his thoughts.

One topic of particular interest to Jones County residents is Nathan’s Law, a school bus safety bill that McDaniel formally introduced in January.
“Nathan’s Law is pretty special to me because of the genesis of the act,” he said, referring to the death of North Jones Elementary kindergarten student Nathan Key, who was killed in December after a driver failed to yield to a stopped school bus. “It’s probably one of the most horrible things that’s happened here in a long time.”
The bill creates harsher penalties, enacts a curriculum to teach about school bus safety, and demands that drivers be tested. “There are school bus laws in other states, and we researched many of those laws in compiling Nathan’s Law,” said McDaniel, “but we believe this one is the most comprehensive.”
Turning to the state’s economy, McDaniel offered a somewhat grim assessment of the situation, citing a very difficult budget year. “The reality is that we are about $400 million behind our anticipated revenue for this year, and there’s absolutely no end in sight, no clear economic indicators that this recession is over. So we have to assume that it will be equally bad if not worse for next year. It’s the result of a worldwide recession that we did not cause and wish would end.”
He made it clear, however, that education reamins a priority despite the recession. “First and foremost, for [Jones Country Junior College], we’re trying to see that JCJC receives the funding it needs to operate without costing any jobs and to make sure it can do its job efficiently.”
When asked about comments made by some in the Obama administration that “everybody agrees that the recession is over” and we are now in a recovery, not a recession, McDaniel was blunt. “That’s just political posturing,” he said, “They’ve lied to us before and I think they’re lying to us again.”
He said that the Obama administration’s policies weren’t helping, either. “When people are uncertain about the future, they stop spending, and frankly Barack Obama and his administration, by pushing nationalized healthcare and pushing our spending to historic levels, is creating uncertainty and people aren’t spending.”
He said that while Mississippi lawmakers are working to find ways to ensure that that the most needy and vulnerable are covered “while getting the waste and abuse out of the system,” the cloud of chaos in Washington looms heavily over Jackson, making it very hard for Mississippi lawmakers to take action to improve our own health care and economic conditions.
“The debt and proposal of new taxes in the future weighs on our minds heavily. We know the federal government has gotten way too large and has taxed us way to much, which makes it almost impossible for Mississippi to tax its citizens. I am not going to support a tax increase, period. We’re taxed way too much and too often. Now is not the time to burden families and businesses; they need to operate.”

Education Crisis Calls for Practical Reforms

Editorial
Education Crisis Calls for Practical Reforms

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
April 2010, Volume 86, No. 6

States across the nation, Mississippi included, are facing budget cuts, and education is not immune. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour made that clear in his State of the State Address by declaring that “no sacred cows” will be left untouched. Understandably, many are upset. At a time when our education system demands improvement, funding cuts do not help. However, national and local leaders would be wise to also understand that dropping money on the problem is not enough.
Change can still be enacted to arm the next generation for success and make us competitive on the world stage once more. To accomplish this, America must return to the practices that enabled some of the greatest minds of the 20th century.
In a column earlier this year entitled “Black Opportunity Destruction”, economist Walter Williams recounted his experience in the 1950s at a high school composed mostly of minorities and low-income students. “Despite that fact that we were poor,” he wrote, “most of Franklin’s teachers held fairly high standards and expectations.” He lamented that in today’s environment, such universally high standards and expectations can mean trouble for teachers.
In America, this should not be. Students should not be hindered by what President George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations”; no child should be presumed any less capable of meeting challenging demands than another on the basis of race, gender, or economic status. Perhaps, in this one instance, 1950s America understood better than today’s progressive America that pigment and poverty need not determine potential. By granting all students the courtesy of high expectations once more, we can end the practice of “soft bigotry” and culture a generation of achievers who necessitate less funding for remedial programs and gimmicks.
Similarly, many would argue that teachers ought to also be held to higher standards; that is true. But the most significant influence on a child’s education should come from the home. Parents should not be satisfied that their children attain passing grades, but proactively insistent that their children learn in the process. Public policy can go a long way, but the greatest impact on a child’s success will often be his or her parents, for good or for ill.
Education can be improved in ways that not only require less money, but do so without cutting faculty or character-building programs like athletics, band, and drama. Short changing our educational system of money is no solution, but all the money in the world will not excuse short changing our children of knowledge. Equipping them to be worthy stewards of this great nation, after all, should be our primary focus.