Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dobson's endorsement

Discussion of Dr. James Dobson's endorsement for President or lack thereof.

Oatney On the Air-November 10, 2007

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Bring back Barry

Oh, to nominate a candidate who sounds like this in 2007...

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Friday, November 09, 2007

BREAKING: Dr. James Dobson to endorse Mike Huckabee

In the wake of Pat Robertson's sellout endorsement of the adulterous womanizing pro-abortion Mayor of New York, Dr. James Dobson is in a position to become the undisputed political leader of the evangelical Protestant wing of the social Right. That newfound power is about to be put to the test.

The American Spectator is reporting that Dr. Dobson will soon announce his endorsement of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Regardless of whether one supports Huckabee or not, if the report of Dobson endorsing Huckabee and planning a tour of Iowa are true, Huckabee has just gone from being a second tier candidate in the Republican Primary to being a serious contender. Why? A Dobson endorsement carries something a Robertson endorsement doesn't-moral weight.

I'm a practicing Catholic, and Dr. Dobson and I have different theological worldviews-yet I freely admit to listening to Dr. Dobson's radio show and to reading his books and listening to his tapes. When I want advice from a conservative perspective about what is good or bad in family social trends, Dr. Dobson is well-informed and authoritative. I have always liked James Dobson, even though I do not always agree with him, because if there is one thing James Dobson is not it is a waffler. If Dr. Dobson says he believes something, he will continue to believe it and you can bank on that.

If I as a Catholic think these things about Dr. James Dobson, think of what the millions of evangelical Protestants who turn to Focus On the Family think of him. Pondering that for just a second, think of what a Dobson endorsement could do for the campaign of any Republican candidate for President. If you are a frontrunner, Dobson can put you over the top in the South and the Plains. If you are a second-tier candidate, Dobson's nod makes you a front-of-the-pack contender in a very closely-packed Primary.

My support of Fred Thompson is well-known, but I do think Fred has made a number of mistakes in this campaign. Few if any can't be undone or dealt with. The one misstep Fred seems to have made that sticks in my craw is that he failed to court the Focus On the Family crowd to any significant degree. On abortion, Fred is pro-life, but has a strong States' Rights approach-one that I agree with. Moral conservatives will buy that approach and they have done so before, but a candidate has to be willing to go sell it to them-to show them that he cares about the tragedy of abortion. I do think Fred cares, but I think some of the folks around Fred-in his very inner circle-are underestimating the power and sway of Dobson and his proteges on the Right.

If Dobson does endorse Huckabee, it could take Southern votes away from from Fred Thompson and make winning on Super Tuesday a very difficult proposition indeed. I hope and pray the report isn't true-that is how much it could hurt Thompson's campaign.


Sanitary Drugstore quote of the day

"I don't know what the problem is-I think that it might be that people in Dandridge are closer to Knoxville, so they must breathe some of that crazy air that the Knox County Commissioners breathe."

-Norfolk Southern Railroad Engineer Phil Puckett of White Pine, on why the Jefferson County School Board voted to fire Director of Schools Doug Moody without declaring a public reason at the meeting or to the press.


Pat and Ernie

Thoughts on televangelist Pat Robertson's endorsement of New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani for President. Steve Beshear's victory over embattled Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher (R).

Oatney On the Air-November 9th, 2007


The town that is Phil Bredesen's Lazarus

As most regular readers are probably aware, we raised no small fuss here at The World upon learning that Governor Phil Bredesen and his wife are building a 13,000 square foot "entertainment center" under the Governor's Mansion, and doing so without taking the concerns of their neighbors into consideration. First Lady Andrea Conte (the woman who refuses to take her husband's name) has as much as said that the concerns of the neighborhood do not matter, that they are beginning construction on the monstrosity, and they do not care what the neighbors think of the noise and traffic at the mansion where our snotty, snobbish Governor and his apparenty uppity, Bertha Better-than-you wife don't even live.

The Governor and the First Lady are clearly not too big on loving their neighbors, but Bredesen was re-elected due in large part to the positive public perception of his fiscal record. Now that he isn't up for re-election anymore, he isn't answerable to anyone-and we see that he is fiscally irresponsible too. His little party room is going to cost taxpayers a whopping $3.86 million!

Meanwhile, the little town of Orme, Tennessee is thirsty. In Orme, they can only have water for three hours a day, because the creek and spring where the town normally gets its water have nearly dried up due to this year's severe drought. The people of Orme only needed $377,000 to connect to the Bridgeport, Alabama water system-money the Governor could easily have provided them from the descretionary funds the General Assembly allots him before they adjourn. Orme has gotten nothing from Nashville, apparently the Governor's party room is more important than a nearly-dying Southeast Tennessee town.

Fortunately for Orme, Senator Bob Corker has come through with a federal grant for them so that they can resolve their water needs-at least for now. The federal government shouldn't have to take care of Orme and its people, that is the job of the Governor that they elected who could have acted to halt the emergency and failed them miserably, but he can build a social hall under the mansion where he and his wife do not even reside.

The whole episode reminds me of a parable of Christ where the Savior reminds us of what will happen to those who simply ignore the needs of others:

Luke 16:20-31:

And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,

Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom: And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.

And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chasm: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren, That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.

And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

Orme is Phil Bredesen's Lazarus.

(Hat tip: Bill Hobbs)


Thursday, November 08, 2007

A States' rights approach

How States' Rights can help solve the abortion question in America (a federalist approach). Voter registration does not equate to voter turnout.

Oatney On the Air-November 8th, 2007


How low can voter turnout go?

On Tuesday I wrote of the reality that increased voter registration numbers are not necessarily going to equate to massive increased voter turnout in Knox County in the future. I pointed out that it is reasonable to assume that a good percentage of these new registrants live in the City of Knoxville, and if new voter registration is going to really increase overall voter turnout there would be evidence of that in Knoxville municipal elections.

The evidence doesn't support that conclusion at all:

A third, unofficial challenger for both Bailey and Abbas proved to be voter disinterest, as only 5,538 city voters participated in the race, according to unofficial election returns.

Among its voter registration rolls, the Knox County Election Commission estimates there normally are some 86,000 active city voters.

"When you get into the low voter turnout, it's real nitty-gritty," Bailey said. "It all boiled down to friends and family members and people I've worked with on City Council. I'm just real appreciative."

I don't doubt that Joe Bailey earned every bit of his re-election, but when voter turnout is that low in a setting like Knoxville it makes even the best candidates question the legitimacy of their mandate, and there seems to be a hint of that in Joe Bailey's statement from the other night.

The fact is that pundits and political scientists at the hyper-local level can talk about increased voter registration in Knox County all they want, but it simply doesn't equate to massive turnout numbers. There will be some increase in voter interest in the Primaries and the General Election next year, but that is typical behavior in a presidential election cycle. It will be very hard to make the case that next year's increased turnout is going to be related to the races for Knox County Commission when there are candidates for President on the ballot.

The real test of whether these increased voter registration numbers in Knox County will lead to a real and substantial increase in voter turnout will be the Elections of 2010. It will be in that year that all of the Knox County Commissioners come up for election during a normal cycle, and if the actual number of people who vote in County Commission races has substantially increased from 2006, then we can honestly say that the increase in voter registration in Knox County equates to big turnout at the polls.

I hate to crash this celebration of the process, but I have yet to be convinced of its authenticity.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Moody problem

The Jefferson County School Board voted last night to terminate Director of Schools (sometimes still called School Superintendent) Doug Moody in a very contentious meeting:

The 7,300-student system earned four As in value-added test scores that measure how much elementary and middle school students progress each year in math, reading/language, social studies and science.

The system earned straight As in writing achievement at the elementary, middle and high school levels, improving last year's high school B.

In achievement scores, Jefferson County improved from Cs to Bs in elementary and middle school science and social studies and maintained Bs in math and reading/language.

I'm not all that big on value-added tests as a measure of numbers, but by anyone's standard this kind of improvement is impressive. In talking to folks around town today, no one can seem to come up with a really good reason why Moody got the axe.

Alderman Mickey Smith pointed out that he serves with Moody on the Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority and that Moody is a straight-up character. In fact, everyone in White Pine I spoke with this morning seemed to like Doug Moody and few think he was doing a terrible job at running the county school system. Jim McCorkle, who is likely the living incarnation of the 19th Century idea of the Gentleman Farmer-and is the town's resident Democrat-pointed out that this sort of thing is "what we get" for allowing school boards to choose superintendents as opposed to allowing the people to choose them (as used to be the case).

Whether you think Doug Moody should have been fired by the Jefferson County School Board or not, Moody's successor will have to deal with the same ultimate issue that he had to deal with. Moody had to try and stretch every dollar in this under-funded rural county to get the most out of the least amount of money. If test scores can in any way be used as a meter for success, he actually did pretty well with what he had to work with.

I can't really say with any certainty whether the Board played politics with Moody's dismissal, but I can say that the problems he had to deal with aren't going away.


Surprise: The press has a liberal bias!

A recent Harvard University study cited in Investors' Business Daily would seem to prove what conservatives have been saying for years-that the mainstream press does have a bias (intended or not) and that bias is slanted toward the left side of the political spectrum.

Democrats are not only favored in the tone of the coverage. They get more coverage period. This is particularly evident on morning news shows, which "produced almost twice as many stories (51% to 27%) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans."

The most flagrant bias, however, was found in newspapers. In reviewing front-page coverage in 11 newspapers, the study found the tone positive in nearly six times as many stories about Democrats as it was negative.

The folks at the News-Sentinel (most notably editor Jack McElroy) have attempted to say that the liberal slant that many of us see in the pages of the local paper is something that we have imagined in our own mind-that it isn't real, and that our thinking that there is such a slant to the paper's reporting practices is an evidence of our conservative biases. We see the same thing in respected major newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, or USA Today, yet we are told that the major press reports the news as bias-free as humanly possible.

Everyone has their biases, and if the studies which indicate that the majority of people in the press tend to favor more liberal views are true (and I certainly believe that they are), it is only natural that these views are going to seep through into their news coverage. That viewpoint-based news coverage is precisely why networks such as Fox News (which now clearly favors the Right as much as the three major networks favor the Left), and newspapers such as The Washington Times are becoming more popular. Since we so clearly have viewpoint-based news coverage, folks want an alternative view-and that alternative swings to the Right.

I have been quite honest with my readers about my conservative point of view-it is high time that the major press do the same. If your paper or network favors liberals and/or Democrats, let it be known for the world to see and hear, and if your media outlet favors conservatives and/or Republicans, make it known. It is time to end the facade of objectivity in the press and let the people-and the free market-decide how they want their news


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Registration vs. voting

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports today that the rolls of new registered voters in Knox County has swelled by nearly 13,000 people over the last four years, and says the recent turmoil in Knox County Government may be part of the reason for this significant increase:

Michael Fitzgerald, a senior fellow at the University of Tennessee's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, said some of the upswing may be attributed to new people moving into the county who have always voted and will continue to vote.

"I attribute much more of the increase to the fact that clearly the citizens of this county are paying more attention to county politics and government than any time in recent memory, and they're getting ready to do something about it at the polls," Fitzgerald said. "There is unrest out there, and people are very eager to enter into the process and use their votes to bring change and revitalization in this county. You can feel it in the neighborhoods. People are talking about it. It looks like we are in for a historic series of elections in this county."

Few would question that the nearly record increase in voter registrations in Knox County is a positive development, regardless of what people's opinions (and there are many) happen to be about the recent crisis in government there related to the term limits fiasco. If it takes a crisis of statecraft to bring about greater public interest in local government, so be it. It is an open question, however, whether an increase in the number of people registered to vote will lead to an increase in bona fide voters.

Some of these voters doubtless live in the City of Knoxville and if they were going to demonstrate responsible voting behavior, many would have turned out for the Knoxville mayoral election in force-but they didn't do that, and early voting in the Knoxville City Council seat that is actually contested looks completely abysmal.

I'm not pointing all of this out to be a party pooper and say that these dramatic increases in voter registrations in Knox County (or anywhere else) are meaningless. Some of the new registrants undoubtedly are voting and more will come forward in the weeks and months ahead to exercise their franchise. We should continue to encourage voters to come forward and do their duty and new registrants to vote for the first time. The News-Sentinel and Michael Fitzgerald may both be overestimating the scale of turnout if they base their notions on increases in voter registration over a four year period. We can expect turnout to be higher than normal next year because there is a presidential election.

The test of whether the rise in voter registrations mean a real increase in interest in local affairs in Knox County will be the whether the level of voter turnout is significantly higher than normal in a presidential year, and then whether voters turn out in force two years later when the entire Knox County Commission is up for a vote. Until the numbers come out after Election Day, all the discussion about the increase in voter registration making a major impact on Knox County Government is nothing more than idle talk.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Wishing I could be everywhere

Today is one of those days that I dearly wish that I had extra time, or at least the ability to bilocate. I was invited by Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty (via a phone call from Knox County Commissioner Lumpy Lambert) to make an appearance at tonight's TCU dinner at the Crowne Plaza and had to do something that I would never do in a million years under normal circumstances-I had to decline the invitation.

When Lumpy called me, I was ready to say yes without thinking, as I am never one to turn down an invite to a political function if I have a way to physically get there-and I do tonight. All that Nicole told me on the while I was on the phone with Lumpy was "we can't go" and reminded me of a normal commitment that we have on the first Monday of the month-but there is a bit more to the story.

A family member is having surgery today, so there is that concern-thankfully it is nothing life-threatening. It also happens to be my Mother-in-law's birthday today, so I am quite certain that we will make time for a birthday visit, as well we should. Couple this with normal commitments that we keep on the first Monday of the month (as it is we are having to skip out on a church activity to keep other commitments today) and we are just swamped.

It is a bit of an open secret here in White Pine that I may run for Alderman next year. I have found that the possibility of adding this new challenge and commitment to my schedule will likely bring about even more days covered in red (for appointments) on my digital calendar than are already there now. My one prayer is that everyone who would like me to be somewhere understands that I can't be everywhere all at once-I do appreciate such invitations in ways I cannot begin to express and if I can make them at all, I'll be there.

This doesn't make me feel any better about missing out on tonight's event, but I can assure you it is not from a lack of desire to be there.

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Fred meets Tim Russert

Fred Thompson looked very well on Meet the Press Sunday morning, and worded his response on the question of Pakistan's State of Emergency very carefully. The one thing that I found disconcerting was that he made no pronouncement that definitively said that the United States would not tolerate this kind of behavior from Pervez Musharraf on his watch. In fairness, I would not have expected a radically different response from any candidate in either party. If anyone said differently, I doubt that once in office they would do as they say. Granted, I find that unfortunate-but it is also the reality where American foreign policy is concerned-we will do what is in the interests of America first.

Thompson was on the money about one important matter-Iran. He said that we should be prepared for a preemptive strike against the Iranians in order to put an end to that country's nuclear capability, but pointed out that if we got to that point, this would signal a failure in policy on the part of the United States. We should not-said Fred Thompson-be eager to wage war on Iran and should do what is possible to prevent that (why not just call Jerusalem?).

Thompson's most controversial statement of the interview was when he said that he would not run on a platform that favored a Human Life Amendment. He did reiterate not only his pro-life voting record but that he is pro-life himself and that he favors pro-life law. Further, he believes that Roe v. Wade is bad law that was wrongly decided. What may make his position unpalatable to some is that he takes the strict States' Rights position-he believes that Roe should be overturned and in its place each State would decide its own abortion laws. While I would just as soon see abortion outlawed wholesale (and have no problem with a Human Life Amendment such as the Hatch Amendment), I must admit that from a constitutional perspective Thompson is correct. There is nothing in the federal Constitution that attempts to define what murder is, and the reason is because that is the job of the legislatures of each of the sovereign States. It should be left to the States to determine how abortion should be punished, but the pro-abortion crowd doesn't like that, since they know that most States would likely restrict abortion or outlaw it.

It will be very interesting to see how Fred Thompson tackles the abortion question in the few weeks left before the Iowa Caucus.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Politics, schedules, and life

The challenge of coupling politics and daily life into one's schedule (and how it impacts politics, campaigns, and civic action). Adam Graham of The Truth and Hope Report calls in to share his thoughts.

Oatney On the Air-November 4, 2007


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