Saturday, March 24, 2007

Midnight at Stormont

For those of you who follow affairs overseas, you might be aware that the next 48 hours are a critical time for the sake of peace in Northern Ireland. Since the subject of peace in that statelet has always been very dear to my heart, I am personally monitoring the proceedings with baited breath.

In 1998, I strongly supported the Good Friday Agreement. The treaty, designed to bring devolved government and major cross-community engagement to Northern Ireland, was the greatest step forward for peace in the province since the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Since that time, positions on both the Nationalist and Unionist sides were seen to have hardened when the IRA was accused of having operated a spy ring at Stormont. The hardline Democratic Unionist Party has refused for years to share power with Sinn Fein, and may still refuse to do so in spite of the fact that not only has the IRA declared its campaign of violence to be at an end, but has put its weapons of war beyond use.

Now the world waits to see if the Reverend Ian Paisley can deliver the Party he created to the table of government in Northern Ireland. I have long believed that Paisley's hate-filled and inflammatory rhetoric over the years has done more to bolster the IRA and destroy Unionism in Northern Ireland than anything the Unionist Stormont parliaments or the British Government ever could have done. Paisley has been known to go on tirades, declaring that if the Six Counties were ever unified with the rest of Ireland, it would lead to widespread aborticide and sodomy-despite the fact that performing an abortion is still against the law in the Irish Republic. He has also referred to the idea of Home Rule as "Rome Rule." He was once removed from a session of the European Parliament for attempting to shout down Pope John Paul II, shouting at the Holy Father that he was the Antichrist.

Paisley seems, however, to have crossed a personal Rubicon-he has apparently come to realize that there can be no peace unless he learns to work together with his neighbors. This led to Paisley agreeing to the terms of the St. Andrew's Agreement, which is the binding document under which a devolved Government will work in Northern Ireland if it comes into being on Monday. Under that agreement, Sinn Fein agrees to accept policing in Northern Ireland, and Paisley's DUP agree in turn to enter into government with the Nationalist party. Paisley is reportedly having a terrible time convincing his own people to abide by the agreement.

All of this is hardly to say that Sinn Fein have suddenly become saints themselves. The modern party has all but shed its Catholic roots and has become a front for neo-Marxism, in spite of its 1970 split from "Official" Sinn Fein over the official party becoming too aligned with Marxism. Gerry Adams even refuses to publicly declare himself a Catholic, saying instead that "I like the sense of there being a God, and I do take succour now from the collective comfort of being at a Mass or another religious event where you can be anonymous and individual – just a sense of community at prayer and of paying attention to that spiritual dimension which is in all of us; and I also take some succour in a private, solitary way from being able to reflect on those things." The great problem for Catholics and Nationalists in Northern Ireland, however, is that they really have two parties from which to choose, and both are of a leftist-bent: Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

Agreement is sorely needed in Northern Ireland, and if it cannot be achieved in some fashion this weekend, I fear there may be a resumption of the Troubles that have plagued the place for so long.


Friday, March 23, 2007


Al Gore: Hypocrit of the Year. Why the Legislature should not "honor" Justin Timberlake. Last night's Tennessee-Ohio State basketball thriller.

Oatney On the Air-March 23, 2007


Rendering the conventions useless

The Tennessee House of Representatives voted to move Tennessee's 2008 Primary from February 12th to February 5th by a vote of 91-2 yesterday (there was one abstention-that of Rep. Campfield). The proposal seems almost certain to pass the Senate and would surely survive a veto from the Governor, which is not likely to happen at this point. February 5th will be the day that a slew of States-including delegate-rich California, New York, and Florida-decide their Primary winner.

I know that most people in both parties favor moving up the date of the Primary for purely political reasons. Democratic Chairman Gray Sasser and Republican Chairman Bob Davis both say that it is to make sure that Tennesseans have an effective voice in choosing the next President.

While the decision to do this may have been politically expedient, I fear that in doing so Tennessee is casting her lot in support of a badly broken Presidential nominating system. The present arrangement makes it far more likely that the "annointed" within both parties will become the nominee. When the Primaries of major states are frontloaded in the way that we have managed to do, it makes it less likely that candidates will campaign at the grassroots level, and more likely that they will rely on the television to campaign for them. When all of the major Primaries are held on a single day, the people of those States are less likely to see a Presidential candidate. What's more, if Tennessee votes on the same day as a delegate-rich State like California, it does not make Tennessee more relevant to the nomination, but much less so. If I am a candidate and I have limited time and I am in a tight race, I am going to the State with the most delegates, and that is not Tennessee.

Our conventions have been rendered useless and the voice of the grassroots made moot by this system. Good for Reps. Coley and Kernell for voting no and good for Stacey for abstaining.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Staying in and moving on

John Edwards remaining in the Presidential race. Tubby Smith "moving on" from Kentucky to Minnesota as basketball coach.

Oatney On the Air-March 22, 2007


What was all this?

In what I must admit is a shocker, John Edwards announced that he will not suspend his presidential campaign despite a return of cancer in his wife.

I can see making this public, but why call a press conference and allow for every pundit in America to speculate on a withdrawal? It almost looks calculated to help the campaign. I do not believe this was at all the case, but that is how it looks.


Edwards will suspend

NBC News is reporting that John Edwards will suspend his Presidential campaign today.

There will be more momentarily.


Edwards may drop out

John Edwards has called a High Noon news conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to discuss the health of his wife Elizabeth. Those who follow Presidential Politics closely will remember that immediately after the 2004 Presidential campaign, the Edwards family disclosed that Mrs. Edwards was undergoing treatment for breast cancer-a cancer discovered in the final days of the campaign.

The Hotline speculates that it is quite possible that Edwards may either withdraw from the race today or that he may put his 2008 campaign on hold as a result of his wife's health. Firstly, all politics aside, we should all pray for Elizabeth Edwards' full and complete recovery.

I do not agree with John Edwards' politics, and we disagree on too many issues for me to ever support the man in a political sense, but if you are a Democrat, you should not be the least bit happy about the prospect of John Edwards withdrawing from this campaign. Among all of the Democratic candidates, he is by far the most moderate (not a moderate, but the most moderate). At a time when the Democrats' front-runners are a New York liberal and a Chicago liberal with a questionable background, Edwards had the opportunity to put a more likable and moderate face on the Democratic Party (real or not) for a general election campaign in a year when, from a Democratic perspective, such a campaign is sorely needed.

From my own personal perspective as a conservative, I trust none of the Democrats-but Edwards is the only Democratic candidate that I am convinced would not begin marching the country down a path directly into the bowels of Hell upon his election. He would do many, many things I do not approve of, but he is still from a small town in North Carolina, and he is the only one of the lot who I have thought might leave some small shred of the America that I love when his term were completed.

There is also the issue of Fred Thompson. I firmly believe that if Fred Thompson enters the Presidential race, he will win-regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. There is only one candidate who I believe could make it a race against Fred Thompson, and that is John Edwards. I do not believe that Edwards could beat Thompson, but I think he has a better chance at victory than any other candidate the Democrats might offer.

If Edwards announces that he is putting his campaign "on hold," but is not withdrawing formally yet, I do not believe he can later regain momentum-any letup in his effort to win the Democratic nomination will kill his campaign-better to withdraw and live to fight another day, if I am in his shoes.

If Edwards drops out of the race today, I believe the odds are greatly increased that on January 20, 2009, a Republican will be sworn in as President.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Global warming, Ron, and Ron

Al Gore testifies before the Senate and House about global warming. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey signs on to the Draft Fred Thompson Committee. The viability (or lack thereof) of Ron Paul's Presidential candidacy.

Oatney On the Air-March 21, 2007


More than just a placeholder

As I have said on a number of occasions, I am not yet prepared to make an endorsement for the Presidency. Many have wondered or asked me outright why I have not endorsed Ron Paul, since Congressman Paul is the one candidate in the field who comes the closest to approximating my own ideological point of view.

I am not, nor have I ever been concerned with whether others in the Republican Party, or the press, or political pundits think a candidate is "electable." I am far more concerned with whether a candidate reflects what I believe to be right than whether others think he or she is electable. What is of importance, however, is whether a candidate enters the race with the intention of victory, and with the will to be elected President should that become possible. That a candidate is prepared to serve is paramount. I strongly believe, for example, that Pat Buchanan had every intention of pursuing the Republican nomination in 1996, and he did so to the very best of his ability. He used every means at his disposal to achieve that goal, and ran a campaign that indicated that he was in the race with the intention of winning and was ready to serve as President. Even though his opponents shouted that he was unelectable, he came closer to the nomination than the establishment ever cared to admit.

Even though he did not win the nomination, Patrick Buchanan was not a placeholder candidate. He represented a significant segment of the Republican Party and he ran a very serious campaign for the Presidency.

In spite of my ideological closeness to Congressman Paul, I do not believe that his campaign resembles that of Buchanan. I am not convinced that he intends to run a serious campaign for the nomination-he intends to act only as a placeholder on the ballot, as a protest vote for those who simply cannot vote for anyone else on Primary Day. In this election, that may prove to be an important role, especially if the top three choices remain as they are-but the candidate who chooses to act as "None of the Above" will not only fail to win, he will not make a real attempt at winning. I do not believe that Ron Paul has any intention of being President of the United States-he wishes to serve as a candidate, as an option for the voter, but not as President.

We need a candidate who is actually going to run for President-a man or woman fully ready to take the oath.

Some people are lampooning the "Draft Fred Thompson" movement-some are trying to say that he is not a conservative, even though his record in the Senate clearly proves otherwise. He has been criticized as too pro-war, as if McCain, Romney, and Guiliani are somehow not pro-war. I have been opposed to this war from the beginning, I was opposed yesterday, am opposed today, and will be opposed tomorrow. I am not under any illusions, however, that troops are coming home anytime soon, in spite of my wishes to the contrary. Fred Thompson and Howard Baker may be buddies, but that Thompson is very much his own man-when it comes to the vast majority of conservative issues, Thompson comes down well to the right of Rudy McRomney. He is an infinately better choice than anyone in the field at present with the notable exception of Ron Paul-and I do not believe Ron Paul intends to make a serious attempt at the nomination.

Does all that mean that I endorse Thompson? Firstly, I do not think it is appropriate to endorse a candidate who has not entered the race for the Presidency and may yet choose not to do so. Secondly, even Thompson deserves a bit of time to be observed should he choose to run. I have heard from Thompson the Senator and Thompson the radio commentator-to get my endorsement, I must hear from Thompson the candidate.

I will say that if Thompson enters the race, he will not be a placeholder.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Line of succession

Governor Phil Bredesen now may favor an "elected" Lieutenant Governor-since, God forbid, his current Lt. Governor is a Republican.

Oatney On the Air-March 20, 2007


Gerrymandering our votes away

If there is one practice that has become prevalent in our government in the modern era that I find utterly repugnant, it is the practice of excessive electoral gerrymandering. Both parties employ the practice if we look at it from a national point of view-in States where the Republicans dominate government, legislative districts are drawn to exaggerate the Republican vote, and in States where Democrats hold sway, districts are drawn to exaggerate the Democratic vote.

It is one thing for the majority party to use their status to gain a bit more of an advantage electorally, but it is quite another for the majority party to use their majority status to gain an excessive advantage and minimalize the voting voice of their opponents. The excessive gerrymandering of districts is a form of disenfranchisement that wreaks of politics in some anti-social backwater.

If you are a Republican in Tennessee, our State's legislative districts have been drawn up to minimize your representation to the maximum degree possible.

If we closely examine our State's electoral constituencies, we see that in heavily Republican East Tennessee, the districts are drawn in a bizarre manner that is designed to minimize the Statewide effect of Republican victories there. The First Congressional District seems to shrink a bit with every census, while Jefferson County, an extremely "red" county indeed, conveniently sits on the edge of every both its State House and State Senate districts, and its Congressional influence is completely muted. It is cut in two by the First and Third districts, nevermind that being in the Third makes no geographic sense at all.

If you are a Republican in Middle or West Tennessee, you are really screwed-the districts are drawn to insure that Democrats can carry them which gets bizarre geographic anomolies like this, as well as these two drawn to better insure a Democratic victory, while Republican districts like the Eighth are drawn in such a way as to minimalize the impact of Republican votes. Sure, Marsha Blackburn wins, but Republican voters in the collar counties around Nashville are split between the Eighth, the Seventh, and the Fifth District, minimizing their voting power in the other two. Then there is the Ninth District, deliberately drawn so that no Republican can ever win there.

Gerrymandering has been used in the past to deprive African-Americans and other minorities of voting power, and has been used in other parts of the world to prevent certain groups from achieving real political power as shown here. In Tennessee in 2007, it is being used to try and stave off a conservative rise to Statewide power. The Democrats know that if our districts were drawn in a way that makes more sense geographically, they would lose control. If they still control State government in 2010, look for them to use even more strange gerrymandering tactics to try and remain in power.

When I interviewed Jason Mumpower, he said that a Republican majority would draw our legislative constituencies in a more fair and equitable manner. I hope that proves to be true, and that if the GOP does get an outright majority, Mumpower resists the urge to use the district-drawing power as a means of revenge against the Democrats. If the Republicans do the same, then we will have acted in a way no different from the Democrats who have used every sly and despicable tactic in the book to stay in power for so long. Advantage, sure-but just say no to vote-splitting and disenfranchisement.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Ophelia, Jerry, and Fred

The strange disappearance of Tennessee State Senator Ophelia Ford. State Senator Jerry Cooper turns himself in for drunk driving. Bill Frist pressures Fred Thompson to run for President.

Oatney On the Air-March 19, 2007


Gore's latest incovenient truth

As Tennessee's own environmental crusader reportedly contemplates a run for the Democratic nomination for President, largely under pressure from his Hollywood elite friends who engineered his Oscar triumph, we learn in The Tennessean that the former Vice President does indeed take after many of his Hollywood friends:

Al Gore has profited from zinc mining that has released millions of pounds of potentially toxic substances near his farmstead, but there is no evidence the mine has caused serious damage to the environment in the area or threatened the health of his neighbors.

Two massive white mountains of leftover rock waste are evidence of three decades of mining that earned Gore more than $500,000 in royalty payments for the mineral rights to his property.

To be fair to the Gores, a new company has taken over the mine, and they haven't decided whether or not to renew their approval of mining rights on their property. However, Gore has been on his environmental crusade for years while profiting much of the time from the mining royalties he received from a zinc mine which was partly on his property. What were the environmental results of this mining?

Minor, says the State of Tennessee, but there were and are considerable risks:

Previous mine owners released toxic substances into waterways above the allowable levels several times in the eight years before the mine closed.

So toxic substances were being released into the water while Al Gore, Mr. Inconvenient Truth, profited from it. I have nothing against mining, but this so-called champion of the environment profiting not only from a mine partly on his property-but a mine that had been written up several times for unsafe practices smacks of the highest level of hypocrisy.

Gore has now sent a letter to the new mining company requesting greater environmental responsibility. He has done this now that The Tennessean, traditionally a Democratic paper that has supported him in the past, has openly exposed his double standand. There is no evidence that Gore took any action to demand oversight of the zinc mine that had mining rights to his property prior to his traditional allies at The Tennessean exposing the reality of his benefit from the mine to the wider world.

It would seem that the former Vice President has taken on the habits of many of his Hollywood elite friends. Many of these wealthy elites try to tell the rest of us how we ought to live and how we should conduct our daily business, they do the opposite of that which they publicly expound to the rest of us.

Al Gore has become one of them. This is the Inconvenient Truth that Gore would rather not have discussed by the public.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

March Madness

Today's radio show is a review of the NCAA Basketball Tournament action thus far with guest co-host Matt Daley.

Oatney On the Air-March 18, 2007


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