Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bredesen won't raise taxes (he says)-won't cut them either

Governor Bredesen has threatened to veto (if it reaches his desk) a House proposal that would significantly cut Tennessee's basic food tax while raising the tobacco tax. Bredesen's excuse is that tobacco is a decreasing source of revenue. Frankly, this is hogwash, and Bredesen knows it. For all of the rhetoric coming from the State and federal government about quitting smoking, they do not want everyone to quit smoking for the revenue they are receiving from tobacco taxes, just as the State is receiving alcohol tax revenues or lottery revenues.

The fact of the matter is that Phil Bredesen does not want to sign a tax cut that would benefit untold millions of Tennesseans, especially the middle class and the poor, into law. Jersey Phil says he will not raise taxes, but he will not cut them so that everyday working families can get a break either.

Friday, May 05, 2006

IS the President a conservative?

Aaron Harris is a dear friend of mine from college who writes about politics, music, and culture for National Review, The Baltimore Examiner, and Bluegrass Unlimited.

In his column in The Examiner this week, Aaron discusses, among other things, why some conservatives do not now believe that President Bush is a conservative.

Humility in politics and the conservative movement

I have gotten a lot of feedback from all over the blogosphere about my characterization of Van Hilleary as lacking humility. One commenter at Volunteer Voter said:

I want a senator who is over the top confident and isn't afraid to show it. Because when it comes down to a debate in D.C. and he knows they're right, I know he won't back down from the likes of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, or Monica Lewinsky.

What does Monica Lewinsky have to do with this, anyway? That Scum that passed off as a President of the United States used that poor girl. I actually felt for her, I thought she was an ignorant young woman and Clinton took advantage of her. I’ll save that for a ranting Saturday.

“Over the top confident” should not include deceiving yourself or others with false information, which is what Hilleary tried to do. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to be deceptive, I think he has conned himself into believing he is actually in the lead while the numbers say otherwise. You can be confident and humble also. The confident yet humble response would have been “well, we’re behind in the polls right now, but I really believe once we get our message out to the right people we can win this race. I’m asking for your help.”

Humility is important. Christ said it is one of the virtues that is the mark of a Christian when he said:

He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
-Matthew 23:11-12

In my life, I have learned “the hard way” just how serious Christ was when he made that statement. This wisdom is especially true for anyone entering public life. You must be humble enough to recognize that you are a servant of others, you are not in it for yourself. If your motives are all about you, eventually it will bring you down.

As I said Wednesday, I don’t doubt Congressman Hilleary’s personal conservative ideals-but I do question his humility. An attitude of “I am Van the Great, leader in polls when they say differently” is not impressive. I didn’t get the same impression, for example, from Mark Albertini. Mr. Albertini is not under any illusions that he can actually win the Governor’s race. He is in the game to advance what is right. Some of you may say “Oatney, that attitude loses elections.” Barry Goldwater had that attitude and was willing to sacrifice being President so that conservatives would control the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan had that attitude and just told it like it was, and he won in two huge landslides. That attitude may win a few elections and lose a few, but in the end, what it wins are hearts and minds-and that, my Republican and conservative friends, is what we really should be out to do.

There is a great divide in the Republican Party today between conservatives of the heart and conservatives of the bottom line-Republicans of convenience as it were.
Rob Huddleston gives us shades of this as he reports about the latest AP poll that shows that 65% of conservatives disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Did these people suddenly have a brain fart? Did they stop being conservative for just a minute when the pollster called? No. They respond disapprovingly because they understand what conservative values are, and they know that our national GOP leadership from the White House on down is utterly failing to stand up for those values. When we stand up for the Truth, the base will vote with us, but when we abandon it, they abandon us.

It is time to give our party back to the very ordinary, everyday people around Tennessee and around America who are conservatives of the heart and gut.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thanks for prayers

I want to thank all those who remembered Nicole's grandmother, Ruth, in your prayers. Nicole and I just returned from visiting her at St. Mary's Hospital. The family was told that she had about a 50/50 chance to make it through her bypass surgery, but she did make it, thanks be to God. When we visited she was very tired, extremely groggy, and her face was heavily swollen with fluid, but she was able to acknowledge our presence. I'm told that the doctor says if she makes it through this initial part of recovery, she will feel full of energy when fully recovered.

Nicole and I both thank everyone who prayed.

The Pope is not "changing doctrine"

Well, if you believe the press today you would think that the Vatican is about to change Church teaching on whether or not married couples can use condoms. The Pope is not changing Church teaching, nor is he about to. The Holy Father has ordered a study about whether or not the use of condoms by married people is medically effective in reducing the spread of AIDS, because AIDS is a particular problem in heavily Catholic sub-Saharan Africa. If the Pope were to decree that married people with AIDS may make use of a condom, he would be expanding on a doctrinal understanding that already exists within the Church.

In his 1968 Encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI explained the doctrine and dogma of the Church that the primary purpose of married love was the procreation of the human family. Hence, explained the Holy Father, the use of artificial means of birth control for the purpose of preventing pregnancy according to the plan of God while continuing to engage in sexual relations is sinful, because human beings have utterly no right to interfere in God's ability or will to create new life. It was understood, however, that the hormones in the birth control pill could be useful for other medical purposes, including regulating a woman's cycle to assist her in fertility. These medical purposes are not inherently sinful, and if those hormones are being used in these unsinful ways, then the use of "the pill" for these other medicinal purposes is not sinful. The key is whether the intended use is to prevent having a child, or to assist with some other medical condition in which the hormones might be of use.

If Benedict were to say that the use of condoms BY MARRIED PERSONS WITH AIDS is permissable to PREVENT THE SPREAD OF AIDS, that means that the Pope is allowing for a medical use because of necessity. If the Pope said this were permissable, it would be under the same conditions that the "pill" might be allowed namely:

A.) The intended use is as a result of a medical condition not related to the process of childbearing and

B.) The intended use has nothing to do with the prevention of pregnancy, but to prevent or cure some other health problem (in this case, to prevent the spread of AIDS)

C.) The persons utilizing that method of preventing AIDS would be doing so within the context of married life.

That is an expansion of an already existing understanding, not a change in doctrine, as the press would have us all believe. If I were the media, I wouldn't hold my breath. All the Pope has done is order a study, not make a final decision. Popes have a habit of "ordering studies" and then using it as a chance to shoot down whatever liberal notion it was that has been studied in Mount Sinai-esque fashion.

The long and the short: When you hear the press talking about "the Pope is changing such and such" consult a real Catholic to see what the truth is behind what the media is saying.

Final results

The Knox County Election Commission released the unofficial final results of the May Primary late last night. I want to apologize to readers that I was just too tuckered out to get on here and post them. Several write-in candidates did make it on the ballot (note that potentially ballot- eligable write-ins have a number in the % column in the .pdf of the results list).

After endorsing Mark Saroff, I was saddened that he made utterly no showing at the polls. I have to wonder if he made much of an effort to actually campaign.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A few election returns

As those of us following the Primary are aware, here in Knox County it may take a few days before we are able to call many of the critical County Commission races because of the large number of paper ballots that were cast voting for write-in candidates where there was a term-limited incumbent. However, enough returns have come in from races where there was a contest without many paper ballots haveing to be involved that we can now make a few projections in some very key races.

Knox County, Tennessee County Republican Primary-May 2, 2006

Circuit Court Judge - Division 4

David Craig Lee 7,401 40.54%
Bill Swann X 10,854 59.46%
The World believes that enough returns have come in to declare Judge Bill Swann the winner of the most vicious and nasty fight over a judicial seat that I have never before seen in my entire life. Both of these men seriously need to repent and get righteous, but Judge Swann will continue on the 4th Circuit.

County Mayor

Steve Hall 8,526 40.71%
Mike Ragsdale X 12,416 59.29%

Unfortunately, necessity forces the World to project that County Mayor Mike "Wheel Tax" Ragsdale has been re-elected as County Mayor. At least part of the problem may have been lack of organization on Primary Day itself. I didn't have much free time on Primary Day, but I did have about an hour and a half I wasn't expecting to be free made suddenly free and I happened to be in the downtown area. I went hunting for Hall people at a couple of locations to see if I could help-no one was around. Hall needed to saturate heavily conservative South Knoxville, and if the ground reports I heard on election night were true, he failed to do so. Drat. I was really hoping for a Hall victory. Oh well, maybe the challenge will cause Ragsdale not to levy new taxes in his second and final term.

County Commissioner - District - 3/A

Wanda Moody 540 33.86%

Tony Norman X 1,055 66.14%

No real surprise here-Ms. Wanda was one of the Suddenly Term-limited Twelve, and voters had another ballot option. The World projects that they have chosen that other option, Tony Norman.

County Commissioner - District - 5/B (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Craig Leuthold X
Republican2,141 73.30%
Kyle H. PhillipsRepublican780 26.70%

The World projects Craig Leuthhold the winner in the District 5, Seat B Republican Primary.

County Commissioner - District - 6/B (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Mike CorumRepublican1,166 44.90%
Greg "Lumpy" Lambert X
Republican1,271 48.94%
Jimmie E. SheltonRepublican160 6.16%

The World is able to project that Lumpy Lambert is the winner of the County Commission Primary in the 6th District, Seat B. I met Lumpy one day at OfficeMax-really nice guy, and I am sure he'll do a good job on the Commission.

County Commissioner - District - 7/A (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Mary Lou HornerRepublican669 16.31%
James McMillanRepublican1,519 37.04%
R. Larry Smith XRepublican1,913 46.65%

The World projects R. Larry Smith the winner of the GOP Primary for Seat 7A. What is astounding is that the term-limited incumbent, Mary Lou Horner, still got over 16% of the vote long after formally withdrawing from the campaign. I congratulate Ms. Horner on her many years of public service to the people of Knox County, and I hope she keeps her promise in her farewell letter..."I will continue to remain involved."

County Commissioner - District - 7/B (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Leo J. CooperRepublican1,797 45.30%
Scott Moore X
Republican2,170 54.70%

The World projects that Scott Moore is the winner.

County Commissioner - District - 8/B (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Kay FrazierRepublican907 33.87%
John R. Mills XRepublican1,181 44.10%
Gary SellersRepublican590 22.03%

We project that John R. Mills has won the 8B seat.

County Commissioner - District - 9/B (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
David KigerRepublican962 38.74%
Paul Pinkston X
Republican1,521 61.26%

The World projects Paul Pinkston the winner in 9B.

General Session Court Judge - Division 4 (R)
CandidateParty Name Vote CountPercent of Votes
Jimmy Kyle DavisRepublican6,556 35.68%
Andrew Jackson, VI X
Republican6,887 37.48%
Chad TindellRepublican4,930 26.83%

In 2006 we took a little trip, along with Andy Jackson into the courtroom! Even though the race is tight, The World feels confident enough to call the race for General Session Judge for Andrew Jackson VI, relicked of the late hero of the Battle of New Orleans and 7th President of the United States. Unlike his third-great grandfather, Andy did not get into a fist fight with any members of the Sevier family on the streets of Knoxville.

Many races have yet to be decided because of paper ballots and write-ins, and we will continue posting updated results of the Knox County Primary with a little commentary right here-stay tuned.

Hilleary, Albertini, and the party

Well, I promised I'd give a rundown of last night's Crowne affair from my perspective. I met two candidates-one encounter was good, the other I wasn't as pleased with. I'll start with the less pleasing one.

From a distance, I did not recognize Van Hilleary for who he was. I think it is fair to say that he looks a bit different on television. He was nice enough to walk up closer to me (when I got a good look at his face, I knew before he said his name) and introduce himself, and I told him it was a real pleasure to meet him, which was true. I may be an "activist" sort of Republican, but I am also just an average Republican voter, and I am the kind of guy Hilleary should be trying to appeal to in the August Primary. When I talk to somebody like Hilleary, I put on my "average voter" face and "average voter" talk. I told him I was concerned about those commercials he is running in the Knoxville market that ask everyone if they remember him. "They remember you lost," I said, "so I don't think that is a positive message." I wanted to see how Hilleary would react to constructive criticism from someone who is just a grassroots GOP voter-he did not react well. I did not expect him to say "you know, you're right-the ads stink, let's try something different." It might have been nice had he said "well, as a Republican, how would you have framed the ads." Instead, he then went to telling me (when I brought up the fact that we need to nominate the most conservative candidate we can so that Harold Ford, Jr. can't run to the right of whoever we put up) that he was 10-15 points ahead of Ed Bryant and 20 points ahead of Bob Corker. Not wanting to take the discussion down low, I did not say what I was thinking, which just happened to be "whose polls are you reading, man." I have seen multiple polls, none of which came from the Bryant campaign, that show Ed Bryant with a 4-6 point lead over Corker, with Hilleary running a distant third (in East Tennessee, the numbers are worse for Hilleary-here Ford beats him out in a four man race-East Tenn is the GOP heartland of the State). We ended the conversation by both mutually agreeing that the political Ford family is composed of good old fashioned Tennessee pond scum, though we did not use those harsh words. Hilleary asked for my vote, but I did not commit.

I found Hilleary to be self-congratulating and, if his remarks about the polls are what he really believes, delusional as well. I'm not saying it is bad to be confident, or even proud of your political accomplishments (Hilleary did point out that in the wake of the Sundquist catastrophe, he still nearly beat Bredesen, while everyone had been predicting a landslide for the Democrats), even to congratulate yourself at times, but when you are coming before the people of your party to ask for Primary support, and you know you are behind, you had better learn to be humble. Don't act like there isn't a problem. I don't doubt Van Hilleary's personal conservatism, but I do doubt his humility. If he should somehow come back to win the August State Primary, I hope he remembers to be humble enough to come to his opponent's supporters and ask for their help.

Mark Albertini is someone who I knew about but who few Tennesseans did or do. He came out as a GOP candidate for Governor long before Jim Bryson, but Albertini failed to win the fundraising battle early on. We all start as political novices somewhere-whether working for a campaign or being in one. In Albertini's case, he chose to begin his novitiate in a gubernatorial campaign-at least he seems new at all this. Pleaseant to talk to and solid on the issues, I found Albertini to be a genuine sort of fellow. I think he will make a good candidate, but not for Governor in 2006. After talking with him a few minutes, I couldn't help but wonder if Albertini's interests in the party, as well as the interests of the people of Chattanooga, his hometown, wouldn't be better served by having Albertini in the State House of Representatives. We need more men like Mark in the House, the place really stinks of filth and corruption, and someone with Albertini's background-Master of Divinity from Temple Baptist Seminary and a J.D. from John Marshall-could really help clean up the joint. Albertini unsuccessfully ran for the House before, back in 1994-but I think it may be time for him to try again. A House seat could be a good springboard to an eventual successful bid for the Governor's Mansion.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to talk to Rob Huddleston and his wife at length. I am glad Brian Hornback and I were able to embrace as Brothers in Conservatism and Republicanism after a Primary fight in which we were each behind different candidates for County Mayor. The only downside to the whole evening was my own fault. I mentioned yesterday that my wife's grandmother is having bypass surgery today. I went to the party last night coming straight from a family dinner at Ruth's home, and I wasn't all that hungry, so I drank but did not eat. I should have gotten something to eat at the party, because by the time I got home, I was hungry, and had to rustle up some grub at such a late hour.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Many many thanks

I have returned from the Grand Old Party at the Crowne, and tomorrow I'll have a full report on my experience there. Tonight, however, I want to say a special thank you to Brian Hornback, our County Chairman, for his gracious invitation to the election night gathering. It was wonderful not only to be included, but to be embraced with such a warm welcome upon my arrival.

I especially would like to thank Rob Huddleston and his lovely wife, soon-to-be Republican Executive Committeewoman Angela Huddleston, for their warm conversation and gracious hospitality-it was an honor to be able to sit at table with them. Rob is every bit as real a conservative in person as he is online, and both he and Angela are class acts.

Finally, I'd like to ask everyone's prayers for Nicole's grandmother, Ruth Lindsey Smith. She is having bypass surgery tomorrow at St. Mary's Hospital. A lot of folks noticed Nicole wasn't with me-that is the reason why. I had just come from a dinner with the family when I arrived at the hotel, and Nicole wanted to make sure she got to spend as much time with her grandmother as possible. Many thanks in advance for your prayers.

Grand Old Party at the Crowne

Barring any conflicts between now and tonight, Nicole and I plan to be at tonight's Republican gathering at the Crowne Plaza on Summit Hill. We are very excited about the opportunity to come and say hello to so many of you who tell me you are reading my poor screed each day.

I have had the chance to meet and get to know a few of you in person, but many regulars have yet to meet me and I know that several of you will be there tonight. I should be pretty easy to spot because I may be the only man in the building who navigates well using a walker. If you get a chance, do stop me and say howdy.

I want to personally thank Brian Hornback for his gracious invitation.

Primary brief from around the country

Several States have Primaries today, and one of the most hotly contested Primary races in the nation is the Republican Primary for Governor in Ohio between Jim Petro (establishment/country club candidate) and Kenny the Great, also known as J. Kenneth Blackwell (true conservative). I believe that Blackwell may one day be our country's first African-American President, so this race really bears watching.

Chuck Mountel said he voted in the Cincinnati area, and is trying to get out the vote for Blackwell today in his hometown.

Check out the Blackwell campaign blog.

Primary Day

Today is P-Day. It is Primary Day in many Tennessee counties today for county offices. Those who did not take advantage of early voting from April 12th through the 27th will (or should) vote today. I saw a report on WVLT the other day that said early voting was up significantly from the 2004 Primaries and that the number of early voters in Knox County had nearly doubled.

If those reports are true, they are quite contrary to similar reports and predictions that I have seen in other local media that turnout is "terrible," and is one case the word "abyssmal" was used.

We will not likely see definitive results tonight because of the sheer volume of old fashioned paper ballots that will be submitted due to the huge number of Knox County write-in candidates. When a person votes for a write-in candidate, they must vote with a paper ballot for the entire slate. One race we may find results for is the County Mayor's race, in which Steve Hall is challenging Mike Ragsdale in the Republican Primary. A lot of people discount Hall because he is a poor public speaker. So was Moses, who said to the Lord that he had "impediment and slowness of tongue." The Lord told Moses that was too bad, because it was He who made man's mouth (Exodus 4:10-12).

Steve Hall upsetting Mike Ragsdale would be right up there with Rocky beating Ivan Drago, or to compare it with a real event, the U.S. Hockey team defeating the Soviet Union in 1980. Rob Huddleston tells everyone to support Hall, but gives a longer (and very convincing) dissertation with letter on why we need to re-elect Judge Bill Swann to the 4th Circuit.

Vote today if you have not already!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigrants, the Church, and the law

A lot of people have asked me my opinion about the immigration debate, and asked me particularly if I feel any sympathy for the illegals/migrant workers, many of whom attempted to boycott the economy today (I do not think that they were successful in this regard) because so many of them are Catholic.

I have understanding for anyone who is truly coming to this country for better opportunity, and I don't blame them for that in the least. I think that the nation's Catholic bishops are primarily concerned that the House proposal would interfere with their obligation under Canon Law to grant the Refuge of the Church to anyone who asks for it. If it did make that requirement, no bishop would obey it, as his obligation to the Church (and therefore to God) trumps the civil law. However, that fear on the part of many bishops seems to me to be an irrational fear. Throughout the history of the nation, even in the most militantly anti-Catholic jurisdictions (in the days of the Know Nothings), local, State, and federal authorities have at least respected the Patrimony of the Church. I seriously doubt that respect would stop with the passage of a stricter immigration law.

If immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries are going to come to America, it must be for a greater opportunity than work, citizenship must be their goal. Our laws require a process whereby citizenship can be earned. I have no problem with people who have Hispanic heritage speaking Spanish in their home-but it ought to be required, certainly in the State of Tennessee, that all public business take place in the English language, and new immigrants need to learn that language. They also need to learn respect for the law-something that, for those among them who are Catholics, is a teaching of our Faith. Our laws say you need to have documentation to work in the United States, and so the newcomers need to be taught that Americans respect the rule of law.

At present, we have a government that is content to teach our new arrivals that it is alright for them to break the law in America. The administration wants them to be given amnesty and "guest worker permits" as a reward for breaking the law. Assuming that most of the new arrivals would stay, just what does that teach them about the nature of the rule of law in America?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Judge Huddleston

I suspect that my regular readers have figured out that I value Rob Huddleston's opinion and his words very highly. I have always counted myself rather proud of the fact that Rob, as politically astute as he is, happens to be a regular reader of this weblog, and he often links to it at his far more (at least locally so) widely-read blog. I have always been glad of the fact that he thought so well of my written work, as I think very well of Rob.

In recent days, in his comments regarding the 4th Circuit Judicial race between Judge Bill Swann and David Lee, Rob has pointed out that the conflict between Swann and Lee began when Lee represented himself before Swann in Lee's own divorce case. I will note that the campaign between these two has gotten increasingly nasty, with Swann throwing out the nasties about Lee's divorce, and Lee firing back with the fact that Judge Swann has been divorced multiple times and he took the time to seal at least one of his divorce cases, normally a matter of public record. Rob clearly sides with Judge Swann, and he has made it clear that he believes the 4th Circuit will go to Hell in a handbasket under a David Lee Judgeship-and if Rob is to be believed, many other attorneys feel the same. The ABA has its own write-up of the events that led to the Lee insurgency on the 4th Circuit.

To tell you the truth, I am not sure who to believe. I have never had the pleasure to meet Judge Swann and I wish that I could, since I can't really make a fair judgment on his character, as I have met his opponent David Lee. I do think, however, that this entire race highlights a fundamental truth: Our judges have the morals of Atilla the Hun.

Over 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce. The Bible says God hates it, and Christ went so far as to say that to divorce and remarry was nothing short of adultery (Mark 10:1-12). I realize that 4th Circuit Court is basically a divorce court, but in my ideal world, we would have judges who would uphold a positive moral as well as legal example for the whole community to follow. Divorce is sinful, but it is more than that, it is an emotional and spiritual tragedy for everyone involved, especially for kids. We really need judges who are good men and Godly men-especially on courts like the 4th Circuit. These days, we ask judges to have the Wisdom of Solomon without calling on the One who gave that Wisdom. David Lee is not that kind of a judge, but neither is Bill Swann, apparently. I know that I am not an attorney and I don't have years of experience in the practice of law, and I certainly don't practice on the 4th Circuit. I do, however, have a whole lot of lawyer friends. My best friend is a lawyer, indeed I was the one who encouraged him to go to law school. How many men do you know sit up in a Pigeon Forge hotel room the night before their wedding and drink whiskey, smoke cigars, and discuss Constitutional theory until 3am?

Based on my experience with all kinds of attorneys-good bad and ugly-I do not concur with the idea that the 4th Circuit will rot on the vine if David Craig Lee wins the Republican Primary Tuesday. I agree that he is probably not the best man for the job and I can think of someone who is, but that person is not running.

I think that the best man for the job is Rob Huddleston. Not only is Rob a good attorney, but he is articulate, competent, and he's a good Christian. Rob believes in families, and I believe that he would be an incredibly fair judge who would truly take both sides into account. He wouldn't come to the office with an agenda, a vendetta, or vengeance on his mind. Even if he ran for a judgeship of some other Court, I think we would all be better for having Judge Huddleston, or better yet, Justice Huddleston on the bench. I believe Rob is a real man of integrity.

Update: I heard from Rob, and he confirmed to me that he is not now, nor will he ever be interested in seeking a judgeship. While that is great news because it frees him for greater political office, I still think he would be a fine judge.

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