Saturday, March 18, 2006

ACLU, gay groups looking for Supreme Court to halt public vote

Like whiny children who are about to have their candy taken away by the voters, the ACLU and the "gay" rights groups who are supporting them have appealed their case to have the marriage protection amendment removed from the ballot to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

I blogged about this court case and what a desperate measure it is back in January. I still believe it is a last-ditch measure to prevent the voters from deciding the question at all, because both the ACLU and the "gay rights" groups know the politics and the population of Tennessee well enough to know that no matter when the vote is held, the measure will pass. The ACLU knows this, the gay groups know it, the General Assembly knows it, and the Tennessee Supreme Court knows it. The hope of the left is that by removing this amendment from the ballot under the claim that they did not have time to prepare, the other side will delay the vote yet another four years, and that in that intervening time, we will all forget about the issue.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is not always known for respecting the State Constitution or ruling on the side of sanity, and doubtless the ACLU is hoping that they thwart the constitutional process one more time in this case. I pray that they do not and that we will have the power to decide this question forever in November, as provided in the Constitution.

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

Today is the Feast of Saint Patrick, commonly called St. Patrick's Day. In our modern distorted view of Irish culture, we tend to think of St. Patrick's Day as a day for green clothes, green beer, and general revelry. It amazes me the number of people, many of whom claim to be Irish, who have no clue as to the real meaning of the symbolism behind the day today.

March 17th is actually the anniversary of the death of Patrick, who died at what is now Downpatrick in the year 461. Patrick had landed at Wicklow Head at the mouth of the River Vantry in the year 433 after the little boy who once was captured by Irish pirates and sold as a slave was called in a dream to return to Ireland to preach Christ to the people who had once enslaved him. Within his lifetime, all of Ireland had been converted to the Faith.

Some of the symbols we associate with St. Patrick's Day are things that Americans have forgotten the meaning of. Contrary to popular belief, shamrock are not native to Ireland, but were imported to the island from Scotland and the North of England. A myth has grown up around the shamrock that St. Patrick had used them to convey the message and the meaning of the Trinity to the Irish. I'm not really sure how it was Patrick explained the Holy Trinity to our ancestors, but there is little likelihood he used a shamrock to do it. The shamrock became associated with Ireland and Irish culture because a custom began in the later middle ages for the Irish to wear a shamrock to worship because most were too poor to afford a metal cross, and the shamrock bears a good resemblance to a cross when it is pinned on clothing. That custom continued well into the modern era, and the shamrock became synonymous with Ireland and the Irish.

Wearing Green-Green was one of the colors of the Arms of the High Kings of Ireland, and in the Christian Era green was one of the colors of the Church in Ireland. However, its association with Ireland in its present form dates back to the Williamite Wars, green was the color of those Irish and others who supported the continuing reign of James II (Stuart), a Catholic. Those who supported the overthow of James and his replacement with William of Orange were Protestant and many were transplants from mainland Britain, they adopted the color orange.

After James II was overthrown by William of Orange, many Irish supported James' rightful successor, James III, who never ruled. Support for James III and the Stuarts was symbolized in a popular toast in which men would toast their pints of ale over a bucket of water, as a toast to the "King across the water."

Those who favored Irish independence from the British Crown came to use green as their color because they were (and are) overwhelmingly Catholic, while those who favor continued union with Britain (especially for Northern Ireland) are overwhelmingly Protestant and still use orange as their color. The primary opposing religious orders that exist in conflict today are the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland (known as the Orange Order.) I once asked a Baptist friend of mine who was dressed one year on St. Patrick's Day from head to toe when it was she converted to Catholicism! When I explained the true meaning of the color green in Irish history, she was quite shocked. Like most people, I suspect she had no clue as to the real meaning of "Wearin' of the Green."

Whatever your persuasion, raise a glass high today to the man who brought the name of Christ to so many of our ancestors.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fowler should win one more for the babies

Terry Frank has a brief post about the fact that State Senator David Fowler is not seeking re-election. I've known about this for a day or two now, and The Tennessean did a report on it. I have to say that I find the notion of Senator Fowler choosing to retire disheartening because the pro-life movement in Tennessee really needs Senator Fowler right now.

As those of you inside the State (and who closely follow politics) are aware, Senator Fowler was the Senator who was the primary force behind moving the proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would allow the General Assembly to decide the question of abortion here, and which I wrote about last week.

For those who read regularly who are not from Tennessee, perhaps I should explain our amendment prosess to you. For the Tennessee Constitution to be amended, both the House and the Senate must agree by majority vote in one session, and it can pass by simple majority in both Houses. Then the amendment comes up for a vote in the next session of the General Assembly, and the second time, it must pass by a two-thirds vote. Either year, the Governor may veto, but the General Assembly can override that veto.

If the amendment then passes through all of those loopholes, it goes to the people for a vote at the next General Election where a Governor is chosen that follows its passage. Since this year is an election year, the earliest the abortion amendment would see a free vote would be 2010.

Since Senator Fowler is the party who is primarily responsible for bringing this proposal into being, I would at least like to see him stay on one more term to help shepherd the amendment he brought into being to the next step in the constitutional process. It is important for Tennessee and Tennesseans, but also to the innocent unborn to whom Senator Fowler is trying to give a voice.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Prayers for the Huddleston family

When it rains it pours for the friends of God and goodness, I suppose.

If you read any of the blogs in my sidebar, you might have noticed that Rob Huddleston went several days without posting anything at all. Rob returned yesterday to inform us that his father has been in a motorcycle accident (apparently, Mr. Huddleston is fine except for some cuts and bruises, thank God) and his wife is terribly ill. Now Rob has to tend to the house.

Let's pray for Rob and his whole family-he has been a very faithful soldier in the Army of the Truth.

Salute the flag

Most people who know me are aware of what a huge advocate of States' rights that I am. This is so true, in fact, that it has become known to those who are close to me that I do not, nor will I ever support any law or regulation which can be seen to impinge or interfere with the sovereignty of Tennessee, or for that matter with any other state. I am such a believer in States' rights that Aaron Harris once compared me to John C. Calhoun insofar as the issue of State sovereignty was concerned. We are, after all, a union of sovereign States, we are not merely a collection of administrative units, as some nations of the world tend to be.

As a result of that reality, I am of the firm belief that loyalty to one's State should always come first and foremost before loyalty to the organic United States. That's not to say that we should not have loyalty to the U.S., but I am a Tennessean, this is my home. California or New York or New England or Washington State are not my home. The affairs of those places are something I take a passing interest and fancy in, but I do not live there, so what happens in those other States is the concern of those who live and work in them.

As a whole, the States have collectively gotten away from exercising their sovereignty since Reconstruction, partly because of federal interference and New Deal-ism. So far have we gotten away from the principles of States' rights and the compact theory of government that any small step we can take to begin to infuse those notions back into the minds of the people at large, beginning with the very young, may help restore our State sovereignty in the decades and generations ahead.

I don't know if that was what was intended by State Representative Tom DuBois of Columbia when he introduced legislation to give Tennessee's flag its own official salute, but I think it is something that will encourage correct thinking about Tennessee's relationship to the federal government, or at least plant that little seed. If passed, this is what our children will be reciting:

Three white stars on a field of blue,
God keep them strong and ever true,
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the flag of Tennessee.

Now suppose one of the little children reciting that beautiful pledge grows up and 40 years later becomes Mr. Governor. I'd bet the ranch he or she will be less likely to allow the federal government to run roughshod over this State, or let any other entity do it either. Every State in the Union ought to have a salute, and every schoolchild shoud be made to recite that salute-before the pledge to the U.S. flag.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Standing up-and welcoming Terry Frank

A few of you who are regulars may have noticed some changes to the sidebar. I've added the blog I now keep at Where I Stand to the sidebar in its own unique column. Where I Stand is really a blogger-based news and discussion service, and I have just begun to make posts about items of national news and opinion. In no way is my presence there meant to take the place of The World According to Oatney in any way, shape, fashion, or form, and if you go there, you'll find a cross-link right back here. However, for those of you just itching to know what on earth Oatney is going to say next, check out that "Where I Stand" link.

I'd also like to welcome a new addition to the blogroll here at the World. Terry Frank is the weekly host of Tennessee Confidential on 1180 AM. Like me and a whole lot of other hack-types, Terry has been involved with Young Republicans. If you read her site bio, you'll learn that she was also the former Chairman for President Bush's campaign in Anderson County, and Chairman for three terms of the Anderson County Republican Party. Terry writes a weekly column in the Clinton Courier-News.

Good Morning America misrepresents Catholic faith

I should not be surprised in the least that Good Morning America would misrepresent the teaching th the Catholic faith, but this morning's example of misrepresentation is blatant and was certainly poorly researched.

In a story regarding the process of canonization for the late Pope John Paul II, GMA reported that the Vatican was investigating whether "the late Pope performed a miracle in the case of a woman with Parkinson's disease." The Church does not teach that any human being except Christ can perform a miracle, only God can perform miracles, so to make a statement that the Vatican was investigating whether John Paul "performed a miracle" is false. This is not what the Vatican is investigating.

What the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is investigating is whether God granted healing to a woman with Parkinson's disease (with which the late Pope was also afflicted) through the prayers and intercession of John Paul. That is a huge difference.

Catholics, like all Christians, believe in the promise of eternal life in and through Jesus Christ for all who believe in Him. Because of this, we do not believe that a believer dies at all when they leave this earthly shell-of-a-body, but they continue to live as Christ has promised. AS they live, we believe that they can intercede to the Lord on our behalf, just as we ask our friends on earth to do when we ask for their prayers. The Vatican is investigating whether this woman asked the late Pope for his intercession, and then whether a miracle of healing was subsequently granted by the Lord.

That is a far cry from "the Pope performed a miracle." No wonder Catholics are always having to explain the truth to non-Catholics-the media is not helping spread the facts.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Heavenly sunlight

The News-Sentinel reported today on the common practice of local (and even state officials) violating Tennessee's open meeting law, commonly called a "sunshine law," by flagrantly excluding the public from official meetings, or even worse, finding some way that is legal "on paper" to get around the law.

Tennessee is somewhat unique in having such a law in the first place. Though there are other states that have so-called sunshine laws or "openness amendments," many states do not, and most simply allow government officials to exclude the public at all levels of government meetings by simply declaring that said meeting will be going into "executive session" and asking the public participants to please retire from the chamber or room.

The problem with our sunshine law in Tennessee is that there are no present penalties for violating it. Although I doubt any official would come out and say "let's deliberately break the sunshine law," with no teeth, what's to prevent, for example, the Knoxville City Council from pulling an "executive session" sort of trick?

The problem comes with other ways to get around the law even when teeth are added to the open meetings law. There really isn't anything to prevent the members of a given council/board/committee of government from meeting at Shoney's before the gavel falls to decide how it is the meeting will go. Who's to say members of a body can't meet and pre-decide an outcome over a whiskey at Tootsie's? They could all say "nothing unusual here, we're just getting together for a friendly drink and a chat." It goes on more than many will ever admit, I am sure.

Perhaps the only real teeth for violating the sunshine law would be to write a provision that makes it a felony, and sentences the violators to serious prison time. Sometimes we are forced to treat our leaders like children when they act without maturity or sense.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The straw poll and what really matters

Let me apologize for being among the last to blog the result and my opinion thereon of the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference sponsored by The Hotline. For those that are unaware of the result, Rob Huddleston also has a breakdown, and he participated in the poll:

Bill Frist 36.9%

Mitt Romney 14.4%
George Allen 10.3%
John McCain 4.6%
Mike Huckabee 3.8%
Sam Brownback 1.5%
Rudy Guiliani 1.1%
George W. Bush 10.3%
Condi Rice 2.2%

On one hand, the result is somewhat predictable because the Senior Senator from Tennessee won a straw poll taken in his home state. On the other hand, 36.9% is low compared to the numbers I thought Frist would garner. As Rob Huddleston was keen to point out, 42% of Tennessee voters in this poll did not vote for Frist. Rob won't reveal who his primary choice was, but knowing how conservative Rob is (as much or more so than I am, and I have been told that when I walk into a room, I force people to lean to the right to get a good look), I'd be willing to say there is a good chance it was not Frist, though I think Rob likes Bill Frist personally-and might have voted for him.

The "write in George W." campaign was a McCain stunt, and The Hotline had reported that the White House was not at all pleased with it. It makes you wonder how much better McCain might have done had the stunt not been pulled, or how much worse that 36.9% number would have looked for Bill Frist.

Some of you may be asking (and I have gotten private e-mails demanding to know): "Dave, just what is your problem with Senator Frist?" There are three issues about Frist that bother me. The first is that we had a perfectly good Senate Leader in Trent Lott, who was railroaded because he was trying to say some nice things to the late Strom Thurmond. I strongly feel that Frist positioned himself to pounce on Lott's downfall. What he should have done is lead an effort to tell the world "Trent Lott is our Leader, and we do not give a flying flip-flop what the press and the Democrats think." The ability to weather storms such as the Thurmond-Lott problem and tell the press and the Party Opposite to go ruminate to themselves about it is the mark of a united and loyal party.

Secondly, Frist tries to be all things to all people. Yes, he led the way to get the President's good judges on the bench, but I think he only did so because the Party and the grassroots demanded it. If public sentiment had been different, I question whether Bill Frist would have stayed the course as a matter of principle.

Thirdly, I really question the man's pro-life credentials (in fairness, I question Mitt Romney's also, his record as Governor of Taxachusetts has been rather ambiguous, and after seeing him on Meet the Press this morning, I question whether George Allen is really pro-life as well) and for me that is a deal-breaker. Senator Frist supports so-called stem-cell "research" on test tube embryos using the logic that it is okay for some babies to die in order that we might all benefit. Sorry, Bill, no dice with me. It is not fine with me for mankind to be fooling around in the Realm of the Divine, that smacks rudely of the Tower of Babel, and we all remember what the Lord did about that unsavory situation.

On the other hand, Senator Brownback has been solid on the issues that matter most, and he is solidly and throughly pro-life. I will not vote for any candidate of any party that gives quarter to the Forces of Death. I feel so strongly on the matter that if there were a race between a pro-life Democrat and a pro-death Republican, I would be forced to hold my nose and vote for the party I have never voted for in my life. I would hope I never have to be placed in such an awful situation.

I want to thank both Rob Huddleston and Adam Groves for their excellent coverage of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Both of these fine gentlemen helped make the conference come to life for those of us who could not attend. I'd be lying if I said that reading both of their accounts did not make me green with envy wishing that I, too, could be blogging the story from Memphis. After all, hearing Lamar Alexander sing and play "Long Distance Information, Get Me Memphis, Tennessee" would be worth the trip all by itself.

Rob and Adam, God Bless you both and thank you for all you do for our Party.

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