Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lenten Rosary with Oatney

In honor of the Holy Season of Lent, I have recorded a special version of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary for today's podcast.

Each decade (ten Hail Marys) of the rosary is meant as a meditation upon one of the events leading up to the death of Our Lord. Each begins with an Our Father.

The five mysteries, or events in Our Lord's life, that are part of the Sorrowful Mysteries are:

The Agony In the Garden (Mark 14:31-45)

The Scourging at the Pillar (Luke 22:63-65)

The Crowning With Thorns (Matthew 27:27-30)

Jesus carries his cross (John 19:16-17)

Our Lord is crucufied (Luke 23:33-48)

A Lenten Rosary With Oatney

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Conservatives need to learn how to fight again

Occasionally, conservatives need to take drastic action in order to be heard. The 1964 Election was such a time, because conservatives were fighting for a voice and a vehicle to be heard. Certain people, namely Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and Governor George Romney of Michigan (that is the father of Mitt, by the way), represented the GOP's wealthy elitists who didn't care about conservatism, about the Constitution or America-only about their own power.

Notice how Rockefeller refers to conservatives as "these people."

Rest assured, we may have to fight this battle all over again in 2008, and just as in 1964, victory in taking control of the Party could prove to be of greater long-term importance than victory at the polls in one November.

We are in a fight with the same sort of snobs all over again.


Friday, March 02, 2007

McClung fire

Today's radio show is a short discussion of Mark Saroff's escape from the McClung Warehouses in the wake of the February Fire.

Oatney On the Air-March 2, 2007

Recordings of the 911 calls


Real judicial review

The Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission is now set to offer Governor Phil Bredesen a fresh set of applicants for the vacant seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. This comes after Bredesen rejected the panel's initial offering of candidates because none of the candidates was an African-American. The Governor has made it clear that he wants to replace the high court's only black Justice, Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., (who is a former Chief Justice) with another minority candidate.

Under the Tennessee Plan for Judicial Selection (also called the Modified Missouri Plan), Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission. Justices are ratified in their position via Yes/No referenda which occur every eight years. Under this plan, the people of Tennessee do not directly elect their judges, a fact which some have said violates the State Constitution, since a Yes-No vote on judges the voters barely know does not actually constitute an election.

I do not really have a problem with the fact that our judges are not directly elected, since most voters do not cast an informed vote on judges in the first place, but in the case of Bredesen, he has rejected qualified applicants for the Birch vacancy for no other reason than the fact that they were white. While I understand Bredesen's symbolic desire to replace the first black justice with another minority candidate, what many do not understand about Tennessee's judicial selection process is that the Governor is legally bound to appoint justices in a certain fashion. He may not replace a Justice from West Tennessee with one from East Tennessee, or a Middle Tennessee Justice with a West Tennessean. Our Supreme Court is legally and constitutionally designed to prevent regional bias. It does not meet only in Nashville, for example, but also has meetings of the Court in Knoxville (East Tennessee) and Jackson (West Tennessee).

(Those in the Knoxville area may or may not be aware that the Tennessee Supreme Court building is to be found on Main Street across from the Knox City-County building, and is housed in the old federal courthouse. When the Court sits there, you can attend a session).

Because the Governor must appoint representatives on the Court from each Grand Division of Tennessee, he is bound to replace Justice Birch with someone from Middle or West Tennessee because the Court has two East Tennessee Justices. The only minority candidate that the Judicial Selection Commission recommended to Bredesen as fully qualified withdrew his own nomination, so the Commission submitted a list of qualified candidates without regard to the issue of race. Bredesen rejected the entire slate, his only reasoning being that there was no minority candidate on the list.

With good reason, the rejected candidates (particularly Covington attorney J. Houston Gordon) felt slighted, as did the Commission, and this led to the case Bredesen v. Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission, in which the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Bredesen may reject whom he chooses and that none of the rejected candidates may be renominated by the Commission. The ruling also sets the precedent of giving the Governor carte blanche in the appointment process. He may accept or reject who he will with little or no real oversight. My friend Mike Faulk was correct back in January when he rightly pointed out that this has been a power struggle between Bredesen and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, a Democrat, and was inherited by Republican Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey from his Democratic predecessor John Wilder. The Lt. Governor (Speaker of the Senate) and Speaker of the House are the officials responsible for appointing members of the Judicial Selection Commission. I do not believe that this is enough oversight over the judicial appointment process, however

I propose that we amend the Tennessee Constitution and create that judicial review by constitutionally mandating that any State judge nominated by the Judicial Selection Commission and appointed by the Governor must be confirmed by a majority vote of the State Senate, and that any Supreme Court Justice appointed by the same process be subject to approval by a 3/5ths vote of the State Senate, or 20 votes out of 33.

It is time to give the General Assembly some serious judicial review.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

The state of the press

Today's radio podcast deals with the State of the press in East Tennessee, particularly the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Oatney On the Air-March 1, 2007


The Attorney General's opinion of the Knox County crisis

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale believes that he has been vindicated by an opinion of the State Attorney General that says that elections could be possible for the purpose of replacing the term-limited County Commissioners who were (instead) replaced by the controversial appointment process of January 31.

I have said before that all of the major players in this drama have only in mind their own political hides. Ragsdale is posturing to make it appear as though he is a statesman out for the sake of the public will, when in reality people in the employ of his office have engaged in corruptive activities that make the violation of the Open Meetings Act on the last day of January by the Commissioners look tame by comparison. The majority on the Commission clearly fear that Ragsdale is merely trying to manipulate elective processes to consolidate power-a fear born out from past experience since he has manifested his power-grabbing tendencies before. Meanwhile, Commissioners have clearly taken sides in the never-ending personal political battle between Ragsdale and former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison-and they side with the High Sheriff.

On top of all of that, State Representative Stacey Campfield is quite correct when he points out that Knox County Commissioner Mark Harmon, far from being the mere soldier of good government that he appears, has only the political goal of trying to get more liberal Democrats on the Commission, and intends to use public anger over this entire process to try and accomplish that goal. The World has at least one inside source that has informed us reliably that he has admitted as much to certain of his fellow Knox County Commissioners. All of that is not to say that Harmon is not correct in trying to push for an election of some sort, but he is unlikely to be pleased if that election doesn't take place as near to immediately as possible-and not because he is excited about the voice of the people. He is liable to become agitated if that voice doesn't say what he wants.

Mike Ragsdale showed his true political colors when he appointed Harmon to his phony Ethics Commission, which Ragsdale undoubtedly sees as yet another tool he can use to deflect attention from the corruption in his own office. Indeed, the entire term limits mess is like manna from Heaven for Ragsdale because the more it deflects attention from his problems, the better off he is politically.

It is into this backdrop that the Attorney General issued his opinion, a reply to a series of questions from Republican State Senator Tim Burchett of Knoxville. Burchett was right to ask for the opinion, and the Attorney General's answers do seem to clarify the situation. However, to say that the opinion somehow "vindicates" Ragsdale is a bit of a stretch. According to the opinion, the General Assembly does have the authority to pass legislation authorizing a special election-but only if the court in the lawsuit filed by the Knoxville News-Sentinel rules that the Commissioners violated the sunshine law. In spite of the opinions of many (including The World) that the sunshine law was likely violated, the case is far from cut-and-dry.

It is important to remember that if the Court rules that the sunshine law was not violated, the appointments of the Commission, however shoddy (and they were shoddy) are valid under the Tennessee Constitution and under current Tennessee law. This is a fact that Ragsdale, Harmon, the Commission, Sheriff Hutchison, and all parties involved are very much aware of-which is why they are posturing so blatantly. Whichever side loses the legal battle will be the side that loses politically.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Judicial reform

Today's radio podcast discusses the best way to reform Tennessee's judicial reform process-and civilized debating of the abortion question.

Oatney On the Air-February 28, 2007


God Save the United States and this Honorable Court

"The Honorable the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States-Oyez, Oyez, Oyez..."

Recently, Nashville blogger and Davidson County Young Democrats' Chairman Sean Braisted and myself have engaged in a friendly but spirited back-and-forth on the nature of Roe v. Wade in which Braisted basically acknowledged that Roe's legal foundation is shaky, and admits that he favors an amendment to the federal Constitution which would allow for unrestricted aborticide in the first trimester but then allow for States to restrict the practice thereafter.

In part, Braisted writes:

I'll never fully understand the position that abortion should be left to the states. If a fetus is considered a human being with full rights in Alabama, how is it not in New York? Of course, I readily admit I am no "state's rights" advocate, and I do believe we as a country should have more uniformity in our laws.

The Constitution makes no definition of murder, and in fact the only crime that the Constitution specifically defines is treason against the United States, which it defines as consisting "only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
(Article III, Section 3) In making the statement that he does above, Sean clearly aligns himself as a proponent of the Organic Theory of Government, while I ascribe to the theory held by a majority of the founders, the Compact Theory.

Braisted says that he favors a Constitutional amendment defining the issue because he sees weakness in Roe:

Obviously you don't think Roe v. Wade was correctly decided, and personally I think it's foundations are rather shaky, regardless, it is there. So if you view abortion as a Constitutional "right" then the states can not infringe upon said right because of the 14th amendment.

If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, then I do think the decision would get kicked back to the states, as it should be. I would not support a Federal law restricting the states from passing abortion laws. However, I would support a Federal Constitutional amendment to protect a woman's right to chose in the first trimester, as I stated previously. I just think we shouldn't wait to see if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and we should pass that amendment now.

The idea that somehow the
14th Amendment, an amendment designed to guarantee equal protection under the law, guarantees the right to abortion as a matter of privacy is patently rediculous. The 14th Amendment was designed to insure that the law applies to citizens equally and defines the nature of citizenship in the wake of the abolition of slavery. It does not re-write the federal Constitution.

Braisted realizes this, it would seem, and so did Rehnquist in his dissent in Roe. The 14th Amendment has been defined wrongly by reading things into it that were not there before-the most notable example of this is
Plessy v. Ferguson. The problem arises when Braisted insists on a Constitutional Amendment defining the issue. I pointed out that Blackmun's initial reading of the 14th is not constitutionally sound:

There is no constitutional right to abortion-that is precisely what I meant when I said that certain judges simply create law that doesn't exist in the Constitution in order to suit the political climate that they think ought to exist.The fundamental legal principle of Roe is that somehow a right to abortion is to be found in the 14th Amendment-this is utterly false. There is a reason why you think the legal foundation of Roe is shaky-because it has no legal foundation.

Sean then returns to his call for a Constitutional amendment:

You can disagree with Roe v Wade all you like, but the decision stands as legal precedent, and because of it, there currently exists a right to privacy when it comes to abortion.I accept this reality, and though I may not agree with it, I choose to work within it; you apparently don't... so long as Roe v Wade stands, states are restricted in what laws they can pass. That is why I support a constitutional amendment defining the issue.

I then gave Sean a bit of the 3rd Degree because the notion that merely because the Court decides something makes it constitutionally or legally sound would mean that we would still be living under a case like Plessy:

You are an intelligent young man, Sean, and so I am quite surprised that you do not see the extreme flaw in this argument. By this standard, Plessy v. Ferguson should merely have been accepted and worked within because it was accepted legal precedent.Merely because something is established as precedent does not make it either settled law or morally acceptable.

Sean then argued that he would not have waited for the Court to overturn Plessy (which it finally did), he would have pushed for a Constitutional amendment to resolve the question. The primary problem with Braisted's amendment argument is reality itself.

Neither myself nor any reasonable pro-life person would accept any amendment to the federal Constitution which defined and guaranteed any "right" to abortion. The very idea is anathema to the pro-life movement. Likewise, it is fair to say that few if any States in the South (including Tennessee, in spite of the State Supreme Court's erroneous finding in
Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist, an attempt to pass such an amendment would not only call out pro-life Republicans, but many Democrats in the General Assembly who purport to be pro-life in a "rubber-meets-the-road" proposition) would accept such an Amendment, and it would likely fail in several Western States also. Similarly, a Right-to-Life Amendment also stands no chance at passage, as more liberal States in the Northeast and along the West Coast, and likely the States of Michigan and Minnesota, would stand to reject it.

Since neither proposed amendment stands to pass in 3/4ths of the States (let alone the required 2/3rds Congressional majority) we are left with the option provided to the States by the Constitution: Define the matter for themselves, which is what will happen when Roe is overturned. I have to assume that Braisted is very aware of this reality, and that he knows his dream of an amendment is just as much a flight of fancy as the notion of the pro-life movement that a Right-to-Life amendment could pass in the required number of States.

I used to believe that I would not live to see Roe's eventual demise, but I am now convinced that it will be overturned before my 50th birthday. Even the Left is beginning to see the error in the legal opinion of the case, even if they disagree with the moral arguments. With the overturning of Roe likely to happen in our lifetime, perhaps even in the next decade, the right will return to the States to define that which the Constitution does not, and the fight over aborticide will move to the most apropriate level for it to be waged.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We're number one

Today's radio podcast deals with the problems of breaking the "sunshine law" for the Knox County Commission, and the state of the Catholic Church in East Tennessee.

Oatney On the Air-February 27, 2007


Knox Commissioners disgrace themselves

Rarely is it that I agree with Mark Harmon about much of anything in terms of issues. Indeed, had the initial decision from the Knox County Chancery Court not come down that overturned the Knox County Charter to begin with (which, thanks to the Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately led to the current crisis), and I had stayed in the race instead of moving, I might very well have faced Harmon for the 2A Commission seat in the August local election in Knox County.

In spite of my many disagreements with Commissioner Harmon's politics, Harmon is dead on about the need for the Knox County Commission to "re-do" the appointment process of January 31, since it is very clear that the Open Meetings Act was violated. This should not be a political issue, because no matter what a person's political views might be, it is very obvious that free government itself was dealt a blow by the entire process, and Harmon is not the only person in Knox County who feels violated by a process that wreaked of the kind of closed-door politics that were common in the South during the days of Huey Pierce Long.

To be certain, both Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and the Knoxville News-Sentinel have motives of their own that go beyond the public welfare here. For Ragsdale, this is merely a case of him not getting his own way-he doesn't like it in the least that people may serve on the County Commission who are unfriendly to his rule over Knox County. Hence, he will use the popular sentiment against this sham of a process to try and get a Commission more agreeable to his ways. If the public paid more attention to the abuses of Ragsdale's office, there would be as much or more anger directed at him as at the County Commission.

For the News-Sentinel, this charade of a lawsuit seems less about concern for the popular will as it is an attempt to curry favor with a public previously skeptical of the paper and its biases-not to mention continuing to enhance its cozy relationship with Mike Ragsdale.

Just because the KNS and Ragsdale may have ulterior motives, however, does not mean that the public of Knox County does not deserve a fair shake and that the suit brought for said motives does not serve the public good-clearly it does.

What is most disappointing about this entire process is that Commissioners who were believed to be trustworthy have shown themselves to be slaves of the political system they claimed to want to reform. Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert comes to mind in particular. Lambert ran on an anti-tax and anti-corruption platform, and received the endorsement of this weblog. From time to time, I have lauded Lumpy as an example of how a public servant ought to behave. Lambert chose to disgrace himself by flagrantly violating the sunshine law in order to negotiate appointments of Commissioners of his liking to certain seats. I have been told by several sources that this may have been done in an attempt for Lambert to "buy" support in certain quarters for a future run at countywide office in Knox County.

If Lumpy Lambert chooses to continue to behave in this way, I somehow doubt he will be elected to countywide anything-and neither he nor the other Knox County Commissioners who choose to abuse the law under the color of law deserve the public trust.


Monday, February 26, 2007

One-on-one with Campfield

I have never tried to hide from the fact that I consider State Representative Stacey Campfield a good friend. His admirable qualities as a human being are many to be found. He is known among those of us who know him to be a person who will stick his own neck out in defense of those he considers confidantes or friends.

As a legislator, his openness, honestly, and willingness to stand up for what he believes is right no matter the political cost has won him both friends and enemies, and those on both sides of the aisle. Two of his latest bills, one that would replace Tennessee's tax on groceries with a tax on offline pornographic material, and one that would issue death certificates for aborted babies, have generated tremendous controversy and debate.

When Stacey introduced the latter piece of legislation, many people said that he was grandstanding. Campfield maintains, for his own part, that he thought the legislation might raise some eyebrows and even provoke serious debate (especially in the blogosphere), he never for a second believed that his bill to provide death certificates for the unborn would generate the kind of worldwide attention that it has received. Not only has Campfield been on CNN to discuss his bill (he was also mentioned on yesterday's Rush Limbaugh Program), but he has received media inquiries and requests for interviews from all over the world-from Canada and Great Britain to Australia and New Zealand. He also says that he has received thousands of e-mails on the abortion bill alone, both pro and con. The favorable messages say what one might expect, the opposition messages range from the strongly opposed to the hateful and vulgar.

He has been overwhelmed, and yet he was still willing to take the time to sit down for an hour-long one on one with me this morning for a lowly internet podcast. That, folks, is a real representative of the people-establishment politicians ought to take notes.

Oatney On the Air-February 26, 2007

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Mitt Romney is a fraud

I can't resist...proof that Mitt Romney is a liar and a fraud:

Look at that face...would you buy a used car from this man?

Romney is right about his mother. His family has a history of waging war against conservative ideas. George Romney (Governor of Michigan) joined with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to wage war against conservatives at the 1964 Republican National Convention-fortunately, they lost. Now the Romneys are trying to gain control of the Party again-this time through doublespeech and lying. Oh, how history repeats itself!

The really sad part is how Romney is pulling the wool over the eyes of his Mormon brethren-he has many of them convinced that he is pro-life! What's more, it is hard to find a Republican Chairman in many Western States with large Mormon populations who hasn't already come out in Romney's favor. I have heard this from several sources on the ground out there, Adam Graham being one of them.

Romney is exploiting his family history (he is a descendant of one of the original apostles of the Mormon faith) as a way to win votes among his co-religionists...all the while he is lying to them all the way.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Baseball and basketball

Today's radio show is the Sunday Sports Final with guest co-host Matt Daley. Among today's topics was a review of the Daytona 500, as well as a report on how Major League Baseball's current television rules are affecting the sport's relationship with the fans. Also: A college basketball discussion.

Oatney On the Air-February 25, 2007


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