Saturday, November 17, 2007

Flashback 2006

The charges against Bredesen in this commercial are proving more and more true every day. By the time his term is up, people might wish the 2006 election had gone a little different.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The indictment of Barry Balco

We all suspected he was lying-we just knew that the home run record wasn't real, it just seemed too good to be true. It never quite made sense that he could hit 12 more homers than Roger Maris in a single season and obliterate the most hallowed record in the game-755 career home runs-in such a way that it was as though it were a proverbial rag doll. He said he didn't know they were steroids-flax seed oil, that's what he said they told him.

Few people outside of anything-goes San Francisco bought his story. While he was busy erasing Hank Aaron from the top of the baseball record books, a federal Grand Jury was busy trying to decide if there was enough merit to the case against him to indict him on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice-over lying about his knowledge of the lab that gave him the steroids and what the steroids were.

The Grand Jury apparently didn't buy his story either.

Now that Barry Bonds has been indicted, baseball fans the world over are forced to again wrestle with the painful question-not the legitimacy of his home run record (we know it is not legitimate), but whether Major League Baseball can or should make the record officially bogus by putting an asterisk next to it if Bonds is found guilty. There is a big part of me that wants to say "yes." As much as I would like to erase the record, that seems to be impossible since not every Barry Bonds homer was steroid-induced, but the asterisk would at least signal to future generations that something is not quite right about Bonds' career numbers.

What one hopes really happens is that Major League Baseball will learn from this experience and adopt a real steroid policy that involves real, frequent, and random tests. Younger players want the tests, especially those determined to play by the rules. The Major League Baseball Players' Association has done everything in its power to prevent this from happening, and when that is considered, it really makes the fan wonder what veteran players are trying to hide.

If there is one consolation it is that if Barry Bonds is found guilty, it is almost certain he will never see the Hall of Fame.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cooper is a symptom of the power problem

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance voted to fine State Senator Jerry Cooper (D-Morrison) $120,000 yesterday for 23 instances of diverting campaign funds for personal use. While this sets a wonderful precedent, I fear that the State has merely scratched the surface of such behavior in both Houses of the General Assembly. Cooper's "difficulties" with drunk driving and illegal activity, coupled with the recent conduct of State Rep. Rob Briley show a clear pattern of Democratic arrogance and abuse of both power and the system in Nashville.

Some may ask me whether that's a bit of a stretch. I can see what some might say: "Oatney, do you really think that no Republican in Nashville ever had a drinking problem or engaged in ethically questionable or even illegal behavior as it relates to politics?" Of course not, and to make such a claim is ludicrous. The difference is how the two parties react to such things.

When State Rep. Chris Newton was found to be a part of the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal, Republicans acted quickly to distance themselves from Newton and from the affair. The GOP made it clear that taking cash for legislative favors is not acceptable, and the Leadership in the House and the Senate condemned Newton's actions in no uncertain terms. On the other hand, Democrats were declaring in prayers on the Senate floor that their members involved in the scandal were not done justly, and that arresting them for their crimes against their constituents was "not God's way." Apparently, bribery and abuse of power are a part of the Way of the Lord in the theological and political mindset of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

The Rob Briley incident is another example of a difference in general mentality. I can't speak with certainty about what Jason Mumpower would have done with Briley, but I somehow think it couldn't be too different than what I know Bill Dunn would likely do-remove Briley from any position of real authority and distance the Caucus from Briley and his actions. Drunk driving is one thing, but damaging a police car and resisting arrest merit some real occupational consequences.

The difference in mentality and approach to wrongdoing is a symptom of a larger problem for Tennessee Democrats. After over 140 years of legislative control, Democrats now feel themselves to be the "natural governing party" on the Hill. Many of them cannot conceive that a Republican majority in both Houses is even possible, now or ever. As Mike Faulk and I have discussed in the past, Democrats on the Plaza quietly view Ron Ramsey's place as Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate as an aberration-they still believe that they hold the real power. When a political party is that comfortable with power it becomes a danger to the institutions of the State, a danger to the people it purports to represent, and even a danger to itself.

I suspect if the State really wanted to dig-and the Registry won't, of course-it would find Democratic ranks filled with similar kinds of abuse. People tend to do that when they become comfortable and secure in positions of power-they think they can do whatever they please.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The sometimes-painful nomination process

If there is one absolute certainty in the race for the Republican nomination it is this: One candidate will win it, and the others will go home-and this year (except for the obligatory convention appearance) they'll be parting ways in record early time.

I recall the first Presidential election in which I was able to vote. After helping bring Republicans to Congressional control in 1994, I really wanted to use the opportunity in '96 to bring about a real conservative trend. I became gung-ho in my support of Pat Buchanan for the Republican nomination. What's more, I didn't appreciate the way the other candidates and their supporters treated Buchanan. After he won the New Hampshire Primary, the party establishment proceeded to use the mainstream press to declare that Pat Buchanan was not a "real Republican" despite having served in White Houses under Nixon and Reagan, and convince people that a Buchanan nomination would be the end of the world as we know it. I knew enough history to know that some of these same sorts of people were saying the same kinds of things when Barry Goldwater was nominated in 1964. Yes, Goldwater got hammered in the General Election-but as a result of what he did in '64, he paved the way for Ronald Reagan. I was convinced that the reports of voter fraud coming from the Arizona Primary that year were true, and that certain people fixed the process in that State so that a real momentum for Buchanan didn't take off.

In spite of my anger at what happened during the nominating process, I swallowed my pride in November and voted for Bob Dole. What's more, I felt good about doing so because my conscience told me that I did everything in my power to stop the Clintons. I tried to help nominate the best man, and voted to keep the Clintons out of power. Bob Dole might have won that election if voter-turnout in Republican areas was higher-a lot of people stayed home and gave Bill Clinton another term.

Nothing brought home the harsh reality that infighting can keep the best man out of office more than the 2006 Tennessee U.S. Senate race. I didn't just support Ed Bryant, I opposed Bob Corker with every fiber of my being during that Primary. Corker was buying name recognition and, I felt, lying his way into the Senate. He was running around the State telling everyone how conservative he was and how he was pro-life. His record said something completely different, because in 1994 he said he was pro-abortion. He once favored a State income tax when he worked as Don Sundquist's Commissioner of Revenue, and as Chattanooga Mayor he had raised taxes. He seemed to be the antithesis of everything conservative, and the thought of him being in the Senate left me with a stomach ailment. I blamed Van Hilleary as much as anyone else for Corker's Primary victory, because the numbers seemed to show that if Hilleary were not in the race, Ed Bryant may very well have beaten Corker in a two-man race.

Corker went on to defeat Harold Ford, Jr. last November.

Corker promised that he would vote pro-life if elected to the Senate, and he kept telling people how conservative he was even during his General Election campaign. What did he do when he got to the Senate? He has voted pro-life just as he promised he would do, and has come out to Lamar Alexander's right both on the issue of life (he voted against embryonic stem cell research-Lamar supported it) and immigration. He didn't have to be pushed near as hard as Lamar did to vote right. We can say that this conversion isn't sincere and that the reason Corker has done these things is all political. That may very well be the case, but considering he has a six-year term and the electorate have short memories, he could get away with political murder if he wanted to, and he has (for the most part) stayed on the conservative straight-and-narrow way. I thought the floor was going to fall out of the conservative wing of the GOP in this State with Corker's nomination. It not only hasn't, but so far Corker has not disappointed me and has forced me to eat crow. The world has not ended for Tennessee conservatives because Bob Corker is our Senator-not so far, anyway.

What is the point of all this? Well, there seems to be an attitude in the circles of several Republican presidential candidates where some of their supporters are saying "if my candidate doesn't win the nomination, I'm staying home in November," or worse, some are even threatening to vote for the Democrat in protest. What good does this do, except to destroy the political credibility of those supporters and potentially put another Clinton in the White House? I can guarantee that the other Republican candidates will not publicly disavow the party nominee. If it is a certain New Yorker, they may not give him assistance (unlike some, I don't think the New Yorker will be nominated when it is done), but that will be their way to protest, not to run the GOP down.

This old Buchananite learned his lesson long ago about the cost of abandoning the party when the chips are down. The Republican Party can sometimes be like a sick loved one: It loses its will to go on when the people who believe the most abandon it. You can rest assured that the Democrats will go into the General Election united and ready to fight. If the GOP looks fractured and wounded, that could damage both the party and the country for years to come.

Remember the Supreme Court...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reports of the death of social conservatism greatly exaggerated (Fred gets Right to Life endorsement)

As I have said in months past, the reports of the death of social conservatism within the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated. There isn't a candidate in the Republican Primaries that doesn't dream of the opportunity to get key endorsements from the social Right. Rudy Guiliani would even like to get a few more than just Pat Robertson-after all, Robertson has been discredited within the conservative movement for a very long time.

On the other hand, the idea that pro-family social conservatives are in total control of the GOP is something that both the press and the Democrats have attempted to pass off as truth for years, but nothing could be further from it. As anyone who has been on the inside of either a campaign or a party apparatus will tell you, party control is not achieved by a presidential nominating process. Instead, any faction who wants to have control of either major political party must spend years trying to do it, and must begin at the hyper-local level-running for precinct captain, county central or executive committee, or becoming precinct or ward delegates (depending on your State, you may have to do some or all of these things), then using the local control to get control of the State party, and the State parties to control the national machine. Social conservatives have never managed anything more than regional control from this perspective. If social conservatives were as powerful as some in the other party say, Rudy Guiliani would not be a serious contender for the GOP nomination (Hillary Clinton, for example, is a serious contender because Clinton elements have virtual control of the Party Opposite in many key Democratic bastions, having prepared for her run for well over eight years).

Just because traditionalist forces don't have total control of the Republican Party (and it can be argued that the 1980's was the closest those forces have ever come since paleoconservatives did it in 1964), doesn't mean that this isn't a key voting bloc whose concerns need to be addressed to win the GOP presidential nod. Pro-family conservatives make up about 40% of the Republican vote nationwide. In the South, the number of self-identified Republicans who fall into that category is much higher than that.

Few understand this the way Fred Thompson does, and that is why he has gone after these endorsements in the same way that other candidates have, landing the approval of former presidential candidate and Family Research Council Past President Gary Bauer, among others. The difference is that Fred has done so quietly and without much fanfare-an approach that may soon pay off.

If the reports of The Tennessean and the Associated Press are correct, Fred Thompson will gain the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee today. As someone who has worked within the pro-life movement on a very personal level in years' past, I can testify to the fact that the pro-life movement is really the epicenter of the whole pro-family movement on the Right. Opposition to the terrible crime of abortion rallies social conservatives like nothing else can, and while an NRLC endorsement is no guarantee of winning the nomination, it could go a long way in helping Fred Thompson win in South Carolina-a State that is likely to be the place where his campaign stands or falls.

National Right to Life doesn't endorse just anyone, either. To get an endorsement from NRLC or any of its affiliate State or local chapters, they have to be satisfied that a candidate will do everything in their legal power to fight abortion. It hasn't been beneath an NRLC affiliate to endorse Democrats if they believe that a particular candidate is more pro-life, or to issue no endorsement at all.

A National Right to Life endorsement is a stamp of approval for many pro-family conservatives that is unlike anything else, and if the endorsement stands it has the potential to be a major boon for Fred Thompson's campaign. Rest assured that Fred will play it up for all it is worth in South Carolina-as well he should and had better.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Remember them

Though yesterday was the actual day, today is the official holiday for Veterans Day this year. In thinking of today, it is easy to say "let us recall those men and women who have served our country in uniform, and those who paid the ultimate price"-that is especially easy to say in time of war, no matter your personal feelings on the conflict at hand.

What have veterans done for us? Recall in 2000 when we had the first of two divisive and hotly-contested national elections, many people took to the streets and protested for or against the outcome-they did so largely in peace. There were no riots, no calls for a military junta to take control of the country, and for all of our (very legitimate) discussion on the evils of the PATRIOT Act, this country has yet to become Pakistan-our leaders did not then and have not now taken to the air to announce that the machinery of the democratic process is to be brought to a grinding halt.

This is due in no small part to the reality that for the last 231 years, veterans from every corner of the land have served when asked, and being well-trained by the country and the government that sent them into combat, they often went with a higher calling than merely to fight. They went fighting because they believed in a free America, some of them would fight even their own government to keep America free.

They have sacrificed so that we would not live under Nazism or Communism, and are in the field even now fighting terrorism. When you hear someone tell you to remember to thank a veteran today, it is the least that we can do-we owe them so much more than platitudes.

May we remember them every day, from the rising to the setting of the sun.

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BCS madness strikes again

The week in college football standings. Number One Ohio State is upset by Illinois. Kansas is undefeated but is still not in the top two.

Sports Pack (The Week in Sports)-November 11/12,2007


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Have you told a Communist to shut up this week?

In this clip, Venezuela's corrupt Marxist dictator and Castro ally Hugo Chavez repeatedly tries to interrupt Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as Zapatero is telling him to be more respectful to other democratically elected world leaders.

Chavez, of course, is a two-bit goon who knows very little about respect.

His Catholic Majesty Juan Carlos I of Spain tells Chavez "Por que no te callas?"-"Why don't you shut up?"

You go, Sire!

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Handicapping the race

David Oatney and Adam Graham of the Truth and Hope Report handicap the 2008 Presidential race in the lead up to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Oatney On the Air-November 11, 2007


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