Drew's Views: Thoughts on Sen. Alexander, Bradley County and the Obama visit

HEADLINE: Tea Party wants to challenge U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander

THE RECAP: More than 200 critics of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., rallied last weekend in Smyrna outside an Alexander event to denounce his voting record as insufficiently conservative. Tea party groups plan to begin to audition potential primary opponents in regional forums in late August and into September.

DREW'S VIEW: After months of Tennessee conservatives demanding an alternative to Liberal Lamar in the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, a number of qualified candidates are emerging. The latest, and perhaps most promising, is Kevin Kookogey. The Franklin, Tenn., entertainment lawyer and artist manager received a rock star's reception from many conservatives following his powerful and articulate testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee after his organization, Linchpins of Liberty, was targeted by the IRS.

Of course, if more than one legitimate candidate run against Sen. Alexander in the GOP primary, the challengers will split the anti-Alexander vote, likely paving the way for Liberal Lamar's re-election.

Wisely, grass-roots leaders from the conservative and tea party communities have a series of forums in the works to address that issue. These forums will serve as informal conventions to determine which of the potential challengers would be best suited to defeat Alexander head-to-head in the primary. The most viable candidate will go on to oppose Alexander and, if all goes according to plan, the others will bow out gracefully and offer their support to the chosen challenger.

Liberal Lamar, because of his failure to uphold conservative, limited-government principles in the U.S. Senate, was already vulnerable. This ingenious plan to select the best candidate to run against him may well mean that Alexander's days in office are, mercifully, coming to an end.


HEADLINE: Judge declines to issue summonses against Cleveland, Tenn., officials in sign flap

THE RECAP: Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph refused to issue criminal summonses for City Manager Janice Casteel and Councilman George Poe on charges of vandalism, criminal trespass and official oppression after Casteel and Poe were involved in tearing down signs at a Cleveland business that protested Gov. Bill Haslam's support of the Common Core education curriculum.

Dan Rawls, the business owner who put up the signs, was told by Randolph that the court refused to handle the complaint because the signs were of a political nature.

DREW'S VIEW: How do sane people put up with the lunacy that comes with living in Cleveland and Bradley County? Sure, it's pretty and the people are the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet, but I've never seen a place where the power structure is more bass-ackwards, even to the point where the judges are dingbats.

First, the Cleveland City Manager and a City Councilman tear down signs from a man's business because the signs were, as Poe put it, "embarrassing." Specifically, the signs were critical of Gov. Haslam and, since the governor was in town to give away $570,000 in state taxpayers' money, Casteel and Poe felt the pork barrel spending make the governor beyond reproach.

Then, when the business owner asked a Bradley County General Sessions judge to issue criminal summonses for Casteel and Poe for trespassing on his property, ripping down his signs and using their public positions to silence his freedom of speech, the judge ignored the request because the signs were "political." Apparently, according to Judge Sheridan Randolph, political speech doesn't actually count as "speech" under the First Amendment (even though that's exactly the type of speech the First Amendment was written to protect).

So here we have a politician and a bureaucrat who got away with targeting a business owner because he put up signs that embarrassed them because a judge either doesn't understand the Constitution, or is unwilling to uphold it.

Of course, Judge Randolph is the same judge who the TBI and the FBI investigated after he inappropriately held a man suspected of burglarizing his law office for more than 72 hours without bond, without an attorney and without access to a telephone, in 2011. Apparently Randolph doesn't believe in the Sixth Amendment any more than he believes in the First.

As if that weren't bad enough, Poe and five of the six other members of the Cleveland City Council approved a hefty 18.51-cent property tax increase on Monday. Apparently, rather than spending tax dollars responsibly, it was easier for city lawmakers to treat Cleveland residents like ATMs and take more of their money.


HEADLINE: Obama to visit Chattanooga Tuesday

THE RECAP: President Barack Obama will bring his campaign tour to promote middle class jobs to Chattanooga on Tuesday with a visit to the Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga.

DREW'S VIEW: So let me get this straight -- Obama wants to come to Chattanooga to share his wisdom about job creation when, as president, he's overseen the slowest economic recovery in the history of the United States? And he wants to hold the event at an Amazon facility that was only built because state and local officials irresponsibly bribed the company with more than $112 million in tax incentives and taxpayer-funded handouts in order to entice them to come to Southeast Tennessee? What a joke.

If Obama actually wants to "jump-start private sector job growth and make America more competitive," as some White House lackey told the Times Free Press, he would do so through lowering America's stifling corporate tax rate, slash onerous regulatory burdens and reduce the federal deficit by cutting government waste. Instead, his plan will include more spending, more debt and more government -- more of everything the private sector needs a lot less of.

"Drew's Views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.