Saturday, January 27, 2007

Huckabee to run

I have it on what I deem to be fairly reliable authority that Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will announce that he is forming an exploratory committee for a 2008 Presidential campaign on tomorrow's Meet the Press.

This may make things very interesting, because up to this point pro-lifers haven't had anyone that could be backed who had a reasonable chance to win, but Huckabee could do very well in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday.

I am anxious to hear greater details about Huckabee's ideas and plans should he be nominated and elected President. I am not saying that I will back Huckabee as yet, just that his entry into the race officially could make things very interesting indeed.


Rob Huddleston for Knox County Commission

Rob Huddleston announced his candidacy yesterday for the 9th District Knox County Commission seat. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I wholeheartedly endorse Rob and I hope the Commission gives him the opportunity to serve. Rob is much like me in that he has never hidden the fact that he has political ambitions for himself. Those ambitions do not exist, however, for the sake of self-promotion, personal grandeur, or the obtaining of power for its own sake. In the relatively short time that I have known Rob, I have clearly seen that his eagerness to be in public service exists only because he desires to serve others.

I have often said of my own desire to serve that it matters very little to me what office I might hold, only that when I leave that office the people can say that they were well-served. I strongly believe that Rob Huddleston shares that philosophy. He is also a man of deep principle:

There will be no kissing of any rings, no kissing of any babies, no backroom deals or handshakes, no lobbying, or no endorsing of one warring faction over another in exchange for an appointment on to the Commission.

To do those things would most probably help my candidacy. It would also be choosing pragmatism over principle, and I have been openly critical on this website of others in politics who do the same thing. I will not be hypocritical on that front.

Rob has a quality that is sorely lacking in Tennessee politics-integrity. His vote on the Commission is not something that can be bought. He understands that in spite of the unusual circumstances that would lead him to the Commission, he is ultimately answerable to the people of the 9th District and the citizens of Knox County, and only to them.

Commissioners should also note that Rob is young, and should be able to effectively serve the people for as long as his term of office should last-he may be in public service in some capacity for many years to come. As a successful attorney, Rob already maintains the kind of higher public profile that a good Commissioner needs. It may be for these very reasons that that the Commission rejects him in favor of an inferior candidate, but that does not mean that the people of Knox County can't let their wishes be known. I urge all concerned citizens of Knox County to call their Commissioners and let it be known that you want Rob Huddleston serving on the Knox County Commission for the 9th District.


Ignorant Catholics-boot to the head!

One of the things that you tend to hear a lot of from Christians who, after 500 years being separated from the Catholic Church, are prone to misconceptions about what the Church believes, is that there is some distinction between "Catholic" and "Christian." So pervasive is this idea that you hear Catholic teenagers make the distinction. I remember nearly suffering a busted artery at a campus religious forum when I was in college when I heard the so-called Catholic student make that distinction.

Obviously, the forum in question was not sponsored by the campus Newman Club. Had it been, the Catholic panelists would have known something of what they were talking about.

I don't really have a problem with the curious Baptists, Pentecostals, and others who have questions about the Faith. In their religious world, our rosaries, litanies, and prayer books must seem odd and out of place. A lack of inquiry, though, tends to perpetuate ignorance. I once had an independent Baptist preacher tell me that Catholics didn't believe that Christ rose from the dead!

Of course, Catholics do believe in the Resurrection-it is the pillar of the Faith itself. We also believe in the divinity of Christ and the necessity of Christ's blood for salvation, as well as in the Virgin Birth, the truth of scripture, and the Second Coming. If that doesn't qualify Catholics as Christians, I am not sure what does.

Because I understand that non-Catholics may not know much about Church doctrine or beliefs, I can't really blame them for not knowing that Catholics are Christians-I do blame ignorant Catholics who use that kind of misguided terminology.

Ignorant Catholics get a boot to the head!


Friday, January 26, 2007

Cohen and the Caucus

Today's radio podcast discusses the controversy and contradiction in Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen's attempt to join the Congressional Black Caucus, and how such groups do not serve the cause of fighting racism and bigotry.

Oatney On the Air-January 26, 2007


Straining the ties that bind

It might surprise some to learn that I greatly admire the work and ideas of Nashville blogger and journalist Sharon Cobb. I have not had the honor and pleasure yet to meet Sharon in person just yet, but I am certain that will come in due time. Those who are somewhat unfamiliar with Tennessee's blogosphere will note that Sharon and I do not agree on many issues-Sharon is very liberal, and I am very not. Sharon raised some excellent points in a comment yesterday, and her thoughts were so penetrating that I may have to serialize my thoughts here.

Sharon points out rather adeptly:

Both parties have mapped out a way to win without the South(minus Florida, where most of its occupants are not originally from the South).

Here our democrats are conservative, and our conservatives are the right wing of the conservative party.Outside of Tennessee and Georgia and other Southern states, Rudy is a good candidate for your side and Obama is a good candidate for my side.

Sam Brownback (whom I personally like for his work with AIDS in Africa and his trips to Darfur) has no chance of playing well in the big electorial states like California, or NY or Florida or Ohio.So why would your party want him for a candidate?

Conversely, Obama probably won't play well in the South. Still, he'll do well in the states I mentioned, so he's an attractive candidate for us.

Either way, both parties are looking at writing off the South completely.What do you think?

Sharon didn't say, but I gather from her context that as a Southerner, she doesn't exactly think this is a good idea. I obviously do not, but I can see how it could be done-at least in a general election. One thing the proponents of this approach seem to forget is that candidates still need to win Primaries to get nominated, and without Southern delegates, it would seem to me to be impossible for a candidate to get nominated at a national convention. If the elites within both parties can find a way for that to happen, both the arch-liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the Rockefeller Republicans would rejoice. I do not care for the idea of being disenfranchised de facto, and that is precisely what would happen.

If such a thing were to happen (and as I said, with the Primary system being what it is, we aren't to that point yet and I hope we don't get there) then something Clark Stooksbury wrote about in November's Chronicles is worth considering:

Decentralization of our monstrously overgrown federal government, however, remains an excellent idea, while dissolution of the Union should be a legitimate topic of discussion, not a hate crime.

If the situation were reversed, and not one but both parties sought a way to ignore the populous and liberal States of the Northeast and West Coast, there would be a justifiable outcry of unfairness from those quarters. Though I passionately do not agree with the politics that waft their way out of those corners of the Union, those citizens and voters have as much right as I do to be represented within our federal system. If both parties (not just one) take it upon themselves to strategize the South away in both Primaries and General Elections, it then becomes time to examine if my great-great Grandfather was correct when he put on a gray uniform and engaged in military conflict aimed at dissolving the Union between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States.

Southern States grouped together would comprise the 4th largest economy in the world. The South already gives the federal Army over half of its soldiers, the Marine Corps well over half of its men and women, and the Navy and Air Force about a third of their quota. Our men and women have died for the Union both before the Late Unpleasantness, after it, and as many in East Tennessee will be glad to remind you, during it as well. The South gave America most all of its musical tradition, much of its culinary tradition, and a massive part of its political and social collective heritage. Whether you are red, yellow, black, or white-no matter where you came from, the idea of the South being written off like some non-relevant backwater should make you cringe if you live here and love this place.

I think Clark Stooksbury is right in saying that the quality of leaders we presently have in the South make it practically impossible for any thinking person to believe that a Southern government would be less corrupt than the Union it would replace. At least, however, Southerners' votes and voices would count for something.

It is because I love America, and because I believe our forebears invested entirely too much blood and toil into establishing our rights within it, that I say what I am about to. If both parties really intend to write off the South from the affairs of national government after the manpower and blood the South has given to the United States, it would then be time for the people on Capitol Hill in Nashville and elsewhere in the South to lower the Stars and Stripes and raise the Stars and Bars.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

The State of the party

The President spoke Tuesday night of the State of the Union, but what neither he nor anyone else can say is "strong" at this point is the State of the Republican Party. We are a divided lot, and unlike the Election of 2000 (when many of us were desperate to be rid of Clinton/Gore), that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

The field of 2008 Republican Presidential candidates leaves a great deal to be desired. Of the field of Republican Presidential contenders thus far, only Congressman Ron Paul, with his conservative/libertarian credentials, is a candidate that can be fairly called a real conservative. Chuck Hagel, it is true, has a lifetime 85 rating from the American Conservative Union, and I am paticularly fond of his anti-war stance (one that he shares with Ron Paul). However, I have to wonder if that stance is born out of a genuine conservative (as opposed to neoconservative) view, or if it is a result of Johnny-come latelyism. ("The war is unpopular and support for it will doom me-I'll oppose it.") Those of us who opposed the war from the beginning and who warned that this would be a disaster for both the country and the party would like to believe it is the former and not the latter. Sam Brownback's pro-life credentials are solid, but I believe he is too weak on immigration, something that is Tom Tancredo's strong suit. I do not believe Tancredo intends to run a serious campaign, merely call attention to the illegal immigration crisis. Duncan Hunter can do that just as well as Tancredo can, and with a bit less of an edge.

The party establishment is divorced from the grassroots of the party at the very root of the tree. The frontrunners are one liberal, former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, and a liberal trying to suddenly become a conservative, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. With one of these candidates, the Rockefeller Republicans are trying to regain control of the party outright. John McCain is a heavyweight that could also do this to a point, but we can't pinpoint where McCain stands on much of anything aside from campaign finance reform (which party liberals love), and that is why he will do poorly in the South.

Ron Paul is the best man of the bunch, but like Pat Buchanan before him (who I supported for the GOP nomination in my first Presidential election year, 1996), the overlords whose only concern is victory at any price will sell the party to the devil to get an "electable" candidate rather than a principled one. Of the "electables," I can only stomach Hagel and Brownback, and Brownback's position on immigration would turn the crisis into a catastrophe. I would love to throw my support behind Hagel, but after his 2000 support for John McCain, I am unsure if he is trustworthy.

The Republican Party is badly fractured, and the Presidential race is only one sign of the obvious. We saw the intra-party war alive and well in Tennessee in the U.S. Senate race. The establishment got their man (or rather Jim Haslam got his man) in Bob Corker, largely because the conservative vote was split between an electable conservative with great credentials (Bryant) and an unelectable conservative with great credentials (Hilleary). Had Van Hilleary not insisted on remaining in a campaign that he was doomed to lose, Bob Corker would never have gotten the Republican nomination.

Tennessee's conflict is symptomatic of a larger war. There is a conflict within the Republican Party between the conservatives of the heart and soul and the believers in power at any price. Those who are members of the latter faction believe that they can drag conservatives along and take us for granted. If the conservative movement is to survive, we cannot allow them to do this anymore.

Mark 8:36:

For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?

The fight is for the soul of the Republican Party itself.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union and the Land of Oz

Today's radio podcast was one of the most interesting I have ever done. It began as a reaction to last night's State of the Union Address. Then some folks joined the chatroom-and we had a chatroom caller from Australia.

I find the perception of U.S. law and custom from folks overseas to be fascinating. I certainly did not agree with everything our caller had to say, but I really thought he brought a very unique perspective-especially being so young, he was only 19.

Oatney On the Air-January 24, 2007


State of the Discord

Last night's State of the Union was long on generalities and short on reality. It was a speech designed to pacify instead of produce results or lead the way in terms of any real policy initiatives. The first part of the speech did deal with two critical policy initiatives that should have been dealt with five or six years ago-there is no excuse for waiting until now to deal with them. The ballooning federal budget and budget deficit? Well, it is 2007 and the President has 24 months left in office, and now we finally hear:

First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget.

Where was this spending discipline before now, Mr. President? This is one of the things conservatives elected you to do. I believed that since a Republican Congress essentially forced a balanced budget down Bill Clinton's throat like castor oil being given to a bratty child (Remember the government shutdown?), we would have no problem getting a Republican Congress to approve balanced budgets and sending them to a Republican President. Apparently, all that united government of either party has come to mean in this country is that an undisciplined wreck will ensue. Everyone talks about how bad the national debt is, but that debt began under Democratic Congresses with Democratic presidents. Likewise, the present federal deficit began under a Republican Congress with a Republican president. The longer that I live the more I begin to wonder if it is fiscally wise for one party to control the White House and both Houses of Congress.

Apparently, it took a bad election to get the President to mention something about a campaign promise he made back in 2000:

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session.

Earmarks which are unvoted on are, to be fair, part of the reason for the fiscal undiscipline of nearly every Congress for the last 50 years. The President pledged in 2000 that he would bring the practice of earmarks to an end. He gets around to raising the issue when he doesn't have enough time left to do so. Dare I hold out hope that he will stem the ever-rising tide of both earmarks and unfunded mandates? I would love to believe it, but I am not holding my breath...

The biggest issue in the address was, of course, the war in Iraq. Readers will forgive me for not breaking down that part of the speech and picking it apart bit by bit, because that would take all day. This part, however, stuck out:

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.

The President is right about the situation on the ground in Iraq, but he failed to mention that it is the way it is because he insisted upon going to war there. Things are the way they are in Iraq because the President's policy has made them that way. That isn't to say that the enemies we fight would not be enemies of America were we not in Iraq...they would and they hate us just as the President said. Our enemies, however, do not operate in accordance with the accepted rules of warfare-they kill without regard to the innocent. To defeat those in Iraq who are the true enemies of America in the way the President means would require us to kill in the way that the enemy kills-we need to slaughter both enemies and potential enemies in wholesale fashion. To do so would make victory all but certain...

But we are not like our enemies. In spite of what liberals in this country think, we are still a Christian nation. A Christian nation should never behave in the manner that America's enemies do. To do what would be required for absolute victory would be genocide, and would be a crime against humanity on a scale never before seen. Even though our enemies have no honor, we must maintain our own. Knowing that the cost of total military victory would require such a high human price, I would rather have peace with honor and simply partition Iraq and withdraw from the place.

The Democrats do not have a tenable answer either. They want to pass a non-binding resolution condemning the war when troops are about to disembark for Iraq. A really smart move, boys and girls-send the troops off while passing a resolution denouncing their mission. I agree with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) who said that rather than make such a terrible move, just cut funding for the war. Take real action, not just some phony resolution that is nothing but a slap in the face to the men and women in uniform.

We have an administration that doesn't give a damn, and an opposition that isn't worth one.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

Today's radio podcast discusses tonight's State of the Union Address, a possible Bill Frist candidacy for Governor, and the pro-life movement.

Oatney On the Air-January 23, 2006


Where are Tennessee's leaders?

The talk in Tennessee's blogosphere is thick with speculation that Bill Frist is going to run for Governor in 2010. I think we can take it from the avenue of speculation to obvious given since Frist was apparently working the House Republican Caucus before the inauguration of Governor Phil Bredesen on Saturday. It is one thing to shake n' howdy with a few folks-every politician does that, even those who are about to retire. It is quite another to work the room hard. Since this is indeed what Frist was doing, I think we can put to bed any speculation that he is through in politics-He's running for President.

The problem is that he intends to do nothing more than use the Governor's Mansion as a vehicle to get to the White House, and thus he has no real desire to be Governor or to lead us. He is obviously hoping that after four years as Governor, he can have enough success to say that he would be a good President-even though he replaced an effective Senate Leader (Trent Lott) and then proceded to squander the majority that Leader worked so hard to maintain. Frist has no solid position on any issue, and has even voted for bills he knew Tennesseans opposed just to curry favor with the White House and K Street.

The thought of Frist as Governor makes me want to hurl. There are still rumors that Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn may run for the Republican nomination-which is good, someone should challenge Frist. Bill Frist, however, has all that Washington money to turn to and he will be nearly impossible to dislodge if he makes a Gubernatorial run.

We have some very talented political leadership in Tennessee in both parties, most of it to be found in the State legislature. Many of these folks have been in the legislature for years and they aren't going anywhere. I think it is fair to say that there are a few among them who have a real passion for Tennessee and for Tennesseans. If they have a grand design of any kind, the Governor's Mansion would be the top of their political heap. It is a shame that between the two parties, we must resort to users (Bredesen) and losers (Frist) to run this State. We no longer resort to finding real leaders.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Roe v. Wade

On today's radio show, I share more in-depth thoughts about the 34th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade and I share why the decision wasn't just a travesty for the unborn, but was also a case where the Supreme Court essentially spat on the Constitution.

Oatney On the Air-January 22,2007


We will defeat the Culture of Death

Today marks the anniversary of one of the most henous decisions by the United States Supreme Court in the last century. Roe v. Wade was not merely a bad decision because it legalized aborticide, but in one fell swoop it destroyed in law the notion that the States had the right to make a legal determination for themselves about anything not written in the federal Constitution.

The Constitution does not mention anything about abortion-rightly so, since it is fair to say that the Framers would have never dreamed of including anything so rediculous in the Constitution to begin with. The Constitution's lack of mention of the issue of aborticide is often cited by the so-called "pro-choice" faction or lobby as an argument in favor of their position. Because it is not mentioned, they say, there exists some argument for it within the 14th Amendment. Indeed, Justice Harry Blackmun made the argument in Roe that the right to have an abortion is somehow to be found in the 14th Amendment-even though that Amendment was designed to guarantee equal protection under the law, when written it had nothing to do with abortion. To legalize abortion nationwide in the way that Blackmun did in Roe, he had to create law out of thin air-law that previously did not exist. Prior to Roe, the issue of whether abortion should be legal was left entirely up to the States. Some States legalized the practice, others restricted it, while others outlawed it entirely. All States acted within their full constitutional purview in doing what they thought best. Note that the Constitution also does not mention murder, but States have no less of a right and a duty to outlaw and punish murder.

The legal arguments against (and for that matter, in favor of) Roe are well-known. The moral arguments are what the other side does not like to hear. I have no doubt that for every militant baby killer (and yes, these exist-I've been on the March for Life in Washington and I have seen the utterly rediculous behavior of the counter-protestors-signs such as "Bring Back the Lions" and "Abort the Christians, " along with people flaunting that they supposedly had an abortion, are not uncommon), there are five people in the so-called "pro-choice" movement that are well-meaning and believe that they are acting with right purpose.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

The arguments of the Left in favor of what they call justice for the poor and for equality for all people ring very hollow when many of these same people do not have a place at the table for the most defenseless among us-the unborn. The little unborn child cannot fight to protect its own life, it is at the mercy of its mother. We live in a culture of death where our convenience trumps the rights of others, even unto the point of taking human life. The other side likes to point to rape or incest as excuses to keep all abortion legal, this in spite of the fact that rape or incest make up but a small fraction of all abortions in this country. Most of the time, abortion is used merely as a form of birth control. This is alright to many people-it is all just a matter of choice.

To justify that choice the other side tries to say that unborn life is not life at all. I was born nearly three months premature. Using the logic of the other side, my mother had the right to have me killed right up to the second my head popped out-indeed, if I had not been born prematurely, many of these same people would argue that my mother had the right to have me killed anyway. My mother was in a very abusive relationship at the time, so using that logic, she certainly had the right to have me killed.

Thankfully, she did not have me killed, but she also did not have the right-God did not give her that right.

The political movement of death and the Culture of Death that it has brought about will be destroyed, not one stone of it shall be left upon another. It will not be brought to an end because of political manuvering in and of itself. It shall be destroyed because the things which it represents are evil, and I do believe that in the end good will triumph over evil and right will defeat wrong and deceit.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Championship Sunday

Today's Sunday Sports Final discusses the NFL's Conference Championship games at 3:00 pm (NFC-New Orleans at Chicago) and 6:00 (AFC-New Engand at Indianapolis).

Matt Daley is the guest co-host.

Oatney On the Air-January 21, 2007


Phil Governor

Regulars will likely note that I did not blog yesterday about the second inauguration of Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. The speech was a grand one, with all of the customary lauds and plaudets. He spoke of his "third way" of politics, a phrase borrowed from British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he used four years ago. Bredesen won, as he pointed out, an overwhelming mandate this time around, carrying all of Tennessee's 95 counties.

What was not mentioned was what was not done. The TennCare crisis, a health care crisis that his own party created after being warned by Republicans that socialized medicine would bankrupt the State, was ended, at least in the fiscal sense, during his first term. It was ended by pulling the health care plug on the neediest and most vulnerable Tennesseans-the old, the handicapped, the sickest of the sick-again, over Republican and conservative objections (many Republicans and conservatives did not believe that these people who had now grown to depend on "the system" should have to pay the price for the system's initial and ultimate stupidity)-Governor Bredesen did not seem to care.

Bredesen was presented with a chance to step in and do something about illegal immigration since the State issues driving certificates to illegals. When some in the legislature wanted to step in and put an end to this dangerous practice, Bredesen refused to back them.

Tennessee is in sound fiscal shape, though, and we still have no income tax, just as the Governor had promised. We also don't have a Governor that acts to do much of anything else, either.


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