Saturday, December 01, 2007

Saturday preaching with Archbishop Sheen

The great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on loneliness

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fred, evangelicals, Catholics, and the party

Reaction to the Republican Primary CNN/YouTube debate. Rush Limbaugh's statements about Fred Thompson. Adam Graham joins the show and it turns into a serious discussion about the Republican Party's future.

Oatney On the Air-November 30,2007


Huckabee, ministry, and holding office

In a two-man race between Mike Huckabee and any member of the Democratic field, Huckabee is going to be more acceptable from a Catholic perspective because of his strong pro-life stand-indeed, if we believe what the Church teaches about aborticide (and I do) that would make any Catholic duty-bound to vote for any pro-life candidate over any so-called "pro-choice" candidate (regardless of party). I say all of that because I am about to explain why Mike Huckabee is not the best candidate in the Republican field, and while he may excite evangelicals, he is going to have a terrible time rebuilding the Reagan coalition that is vital to win this election.

With every passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that illegal immigration is one of the greatest issues of concern for the American people in this election cycle. For those of us who live in areas where we are seeing the negative impacts of illegal immigration on a daily basis, we don't really need to be told that something needs to be done about it-what needs to be done is that the law simply needs to be enforced.

As Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee supported legislation that gave less-than in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens. Not those who were born on U.S. soil (they are citizens) but kids who were illegals themselves! His reasoning, he said, was that it was "not Christian" to "punish" these kids for their parents' crimes. As Mitt Romney and other candidates reminded Huckabee, this was not his money to do with as he pleases, it belongs to the taxpayers of Arkansas who (like the rest of the South and most of the country) want our immigration laws enforced. I don't think it is the least bit un-Christian to enforce immigration laws as they exist in the name of the security and sovereignty of the United States. These laws are not inhumane, but they are clear that if you break the law and come here illegally you are not going to receive the benefits of a legal resident or a citizen and neither will your family. These laws are designed to both protect the United States and encourage people to come here legally and become citizens.

I think Mike Huckabee's heart may be in the right place, but his head is certainly not on this issue. Huckabee is, of course, an ordained Baptist minister. I think he wants to do the Christian thing (good for him), but there is a fine line between doing the Christian thing and doing the stupid thing and calling it Christian. Simply put, there is a time to be a preacher and a time to be an elected official, and dealing with immigration law is not the time to be a preacher. Being concerned with the souls of illegal aliens is a good thing. Encouraging them to break the law is not good for their souls.

We need good people who are guided by consciences of faith in public office. If the Tennessee Constitution could be enforced fully, these provisions make incredible sense from the view of a proper conscience and public office.

Article IX Sections 1 and 2:

Whereas Ministers of the Gospel are by their profession, dedicated to God
and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of
their functions; therefore, no Minister of the Gospel, or priest of any
denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the

No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards
and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this

These provisions make incredible sense to me. Ministers' primary concern is the care of souls, and for this reason John Paul II insured that priests could not hold public office. (They can be involved in campaigns and be active in civics, but cannot hold office). Both the framers of the Tennessee Constitution and the late Pope of happy memory understood that there will always be a great tension between the care of personal souls and the interest of the State. For this reason an elected office is not compatible with ordained ministry.

Government service and elected office is, however, a ministry in its own right. It is a civic ministry, one that-as the Holy Apostle St. Paul said-is supposed to work for the good of society and act as ministers of God for good. You can't minister for something you don't hold to exist. At least the Romans of Paul's day believed in the existence of the divine (something Paul well understood) even if it was not the Christian divine. I know that if I serve in public office, the voters may hold me accountable or they may not, but God certainly will when I stand before Him in judgement, as I have the temporal care of many souls under my charge. Although I am sure the ACLU and the hard Left have a problem with the second provision, I do not and I am sure the vast majority of Tennesseans don't either. The State may not enforce it today, but I can help enforce it with my vote-and I do.

Thoughts Mike Huckabee and his Primary supporters should think and pray about.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Henry Hyde 1924-2007

Former Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, the unyielding defender of unborn children and author of the Hyde Amendment, has entered Eternal Life. The great Irish Catholic politician (one of the old breed) spent his career in Congress tirelessly advocating for the rights of the unborn, the disabled, the aged, and the defenseless. His convictions were real and true, and he served as an example to a lot of young pro-life people of the good you can accomplish in public life.

It is because of Henry Hyde that I have never given up on the pro-life cause. For all of his imperfections he has served as a prime example to me of a real Catholic leader. Liberals often made light of an extra-marital affair he had in the late 60's and tried to brand Hyde (the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that impeached Bill Clinton for perjury-lying under oath-not for the sex he lied about) as a hypocrite. When confronted with it, Hyde admitted to it-he didn't lie about it. I also got the distinct feeling that he went to Confession-probably long ago-and made things right with God. Of course, the notion that men are sinful and in need of divine forgiveness is as far-removed from the thinking of some on the Left as the idea that morality actually matters.

Henry Hyde was a living example of both God's redemptive power and His ability to use someone to further the interests of real justice in public life. I ask everyone to remember Congressman Hyde's family in your prayers. I ask Catholics to join me in offering up rosaries and Masses in prayer this week for the repose of the soul of Henry Hyde.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon him. May his soul and the soul of all the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen.

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The state of the Party

MSNBC's Howard Fineman has a riveting and somewhat frightening piece that tells the honest truth about the state of the Republican Party and just what it is that the Republican nominee must do to win in November. Fineman asserts that we are in no small amount of trouble if we do not bring the old Reagan coalition together:
In the midst of a shaky economy and an unpopular war, it is nothing short of
astonishing that the Republican Party's contenders run neck-and-neck with
Democrats in test matchups. But the GOP is going to lose next fall if it cannot
reunify the three pieces of its conservative base: evangelicals, libertarians
and hawks.

Fineman points out that evangelicals are slowly coalescing around Mike Huckabee, libertarians seem to be moving in the direction of Ron Paul, and the hawks like Rudy Giuliani, who seems bent on leading the country straight into Armageddon. It may be that none of these three win the nomination (obviously, the ideal choice in my eyes is Fred Thompson), but whoever does must bring the other parts of the Reagan coalition together if they are to win in November-you do not win General Elections with a divided house.

Things may change in the weeks ahead (we've looked divided in campaign before at this point and we still managed to come together) but right now it is quite clear that the GOP is very much a divided camp. One group of people who aren't helping the situation are certain supporters of Dr. Ron Paul.

I've often been asked from the beginning of this campaign why I did not throw my support behind Ron Paul since his ideology is the most closely in-line with my own in this race. Ron Paul's great weakness is not his views, but the behavior of many of his supporters. They engage in poll bombing, spam wars on the internet, and filling people's comment boxes with hateful and malicious diatribe. Some have even blocked traffic at intersections while holding up signs, and are known to call those who confess that they won't be voting for Dr. Paul nasty names. People claiming to be Ron Paul supporters are reported to be the ones responsible for bringing an independent effort to raise funds for Senator Fred Thompson to an early end. Some of these folks have no regard for the basic "unwritten rules" of political and social civility. While it is true that many great people are supporting Dr. Paul, I want no part of a campaign that clearly condones these kinds of tactics. Why can we say the Paul campaign condones this behavior? Because the campaign is doing nothing to stop this wretched band of malcontents from doing their dirty work.

These people are a discredit to a fine human being. What's more, the kind of behavior exhibited by some of these so-called "supporters" is precisely what undermines the unity needed to win an election. It ought to serve as a warning to the supporters of all Republican candidates: Bad behavior and poor political manners will not only do a disservice to your candidates, but it undermines the GOP as well.

Note: Now that I have said this, regular readers should be prepared for the hate-filled and foul language-laden comments (and other despicable tactics) to fill the comments section. It will be a blessing if they do not.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Obama's kinder gentler statism

There has been a lot of talk from Barack Obama about how he supports children's health insurance. Elect Obama, the American people are being told, and he is going to make certain that every child in America has health insurance. Sounds wonderful-until we hear more of the story.

It ought to send up red flags (perhaps in a very literal sense) that Obama has gotten the personal endorsement of the head of the Iowa State Teachers' Association, because there is generally no group whose leadership is more statist and Marxist than the State and national leadership of public school teachers' unions. One of the reasons Obama snagged this key Democratic endorsement in Iowa is because of his children's health insurance proposal. So what happens if parents decide they don't want to sign their child up for Obamacare? Barack knows whats best for your children far better than you do:

“I would sign them up in school in the same way they would get inoculated. I would fine parents if form some reason they refused. I am happy to be
very clear on how we would enforce the mandate,” Obama said.
went on to say that he believed that the vast majority of American parents
wanted to ensure that their children did receive health coverage.

Am I the only one who sees a major double standard here? Obama, like most of the rest of the Democratic field, has justly criticised the President for allowing illegal wiretapping and for the new levels of federal intrusion into Americans' lives. Because of the political advantage that can be gained from such criticism, Obama and all the Democrats are harping away at the PATRIOT Act and at the idea of federal surveillance (as if any of them will actually undo all of this if elected). Yet it is perfectly alright for a Democratic administration to force parents to put their children on government health coverage against their will.

The federal government: It is tapping your phone and monitoring your e-mails. Under Obama it will insure your children whether you want it to or not. It is a large, corrupted beast which exists primarily to enhance its own power.

Through Barack Obama's statement we learn the truth about the Democratic view of the threat of unfettered government power. Republican statism is evil and is a threat to your civil liberties. On the other hand, Democrat statism is kind and benevolent and is here to help you, so you had better do exactly as they say. They know what is best for you and your family, while you don't have a clue. They are from the government, and they are here to help you, so they aren't a threat.

The Democratic Party: Our statism is better!

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Turning it around

Everyone is talking about Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina having such great importance in the early Primary and Caucus voting for President-I've written of that importance here. A new State to the early voting game this year is Florida, and since they are voting right on the heels of the Palmetto State, polls there could be indicative of possible trends on Super Tuesday. The latest Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion poll is out, and it shows that Mike Huckabee has risen from the ashes. He was at 6% in Florida in October, but now he is second behind Rudy Giuliani. Huckabee is now at 17% to Giuliani's 26%-and Rudy has dropped 3% since the first week of October.

In the acknowledgment department, it is hard not to give a tip of the cap to Governor Huckabee's supporters. They haven't let low poll numbers get to them, they've rallied their troops and they've made it their mission to get Mike Huckabee's message out. Huckabee's fundraisers accomplish twin objectives that seem contradictory, but are absolutely necessary in this day and age: Fundraising must appeal to the grassroots, but must also be handled in a professional and respectable manner to prevent the opposition from picking off your supporters or their supporters from sabotaging the outcome (read: Ron Paul supporters of the politically naive variety). Huckabee's people are doing everything right from a political perspective and it is paying off on the ground.

The most disappointing numbers in that poll are those for our own Fred Thompson. Fred has sunk from 19% and second place, to 9% and fifth place. If he finishes that low in a Southern State before Super Tuesday, it could be Waterloo for Fred. Can Fred turn it around?

I've had occasion to speak with several supporters of Fred in the last few days, and I spoke with my friend (and former Van Hilleary field man) Fabian Story yesterday. It would probably be accurate to say that Fabian and I had a "come to Jesus" meeting of the minds about the campaign. At this point, we are both in agreement that we simply can't let these low poll numbers be a discouragement, and we have to look to South Carolina where the numbers still look promising. A win there could catapult Fred Thompson on to better numbers in Florida and big wins on Super Tuesday. We have to work to excite the grassroots about Fred's campaign, though when things aren't going as well as we'd like, people want the truth about that-educated voters can see through the fog.

Fred Thompson can turn it around by presenting more of himself and less of the "manufactured image" that had been coming across in recent months. One of the ways he has managed to do this is to present a bit of the federalist conservative we know and love in this TV ad:

The video is a bit fuzzy, but the message is certainly not. People have been aching to hear that message from Fred unrestrained for months. The commercial may have been a made-for-TV moment, but the message is 100% bona fide Fred. We need to see much more of that Fred, because if we do, Fred Thompson can still win this race.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Knowing when the time is right

Unlike many of my conservative brethren, I'm not a big fan of mandatory term limits for non-executive offices. When members of the legislature are forcibly term limited, it has the effect of punishing the good people along with the bad apples. In addition to forcing out the people who don't need to be there, mandatory term limits also cause the men and women who are the decent and experienced guides for younger public servants out of office. In jurisdictions where term limits have already become law the results have often proven to be chaotic. Legislators who have only been in office four years or less will often find themselves in senior leadership posts because everyone is limited to eight years in office. Without more experienced hands to help guide the ship of state, legislative bodies with forced term limits often become a slightly more aged version of Romper Room.

Aside from the lack of experience being the major problem with term limits, the long-serving politicos who hang around State capitols and city halls for no other reason but that they think we can't function without them (the ones who really need to go) find ways around the law anyway. When their terms are up, they keep running for other things and often manage to get elected.

One of the marks of a real statesman-as opposed to a mere politician-is that they don't need special laws to prod them, or even the voters to defeat them to know when the right time is for them to leave the arena. If you are a real statesman you just know instinctively when the time is right for you to say goodbye. Yesterday Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi decided the time had come for him to leave the political stage.

We went to First Baptist Church recently in Jackson. I must say, we were up there and we went to First Baptist Jackson and the pastor there, Stan Buckley, just happened to preach on Ecclesiastes 3:1.

"There's a time for everything and everything – a special time for everything under heaven," I believe that's the paraphrase, but he just seemed to be speaking to me and to us.

We've had this great experience for these 35 years, but we do think that there is time left for us to maybe do something else. We had 30 members of our family for Thanksgiving dinner, children, grandchildren, cousins, and aunts and uncles, and I just realized once again I've missed a lot of those opportunities to spend extra time with family. We'd like to have a little more time to do that, too.

Lott hit the nail on the head about the need for young leaders who believe in the South being willing to give of themselves to public service.

But I do think that it's time for Mississippi to elect a new person, a younger person. We have had a very good history in Mississippi of electing young people to office, usually in their forties, and them staying there 20, 30, 40 years. It’s served us well.

The time to hang it up is different for everyone, but the good people know when the time is right for them. I haven't always seen eye-to-eye with Senator Lott (most of my disagreements with him had to do with immigration policy), but he has been one of the strongest advocates for States' Rights in the Senate and the House over the years. I believe he was railroaded in 2002 when he was run out of his Senate Leadership post after saying some nice things to the Old Man at the Old Man's 100th birthday party. Everyone knew he didn't mean anything racist, hateful, or otherwise malignant by his words. Those of us who had a little knowledge of what was going on believed this was all a convenient way for Lott's enemies in the Party to try and be rid of him. I supported Trent Lott when he ran for Senate Minority Whip last year even though my own Senator was running against him. I had no problem whatsoever with Lamar Alexander as Whip (and still wouldn't) but I wanted to see Trent Lott get some vindication-and he certainly got it.

Lott obviously didn't appreciate how he was treated by the President back then:

Lott later wrote in a book - "Herding Cats: A Life in Politics" - that President Bush hurt his feelings by disavowing the comments in a tone that was "devastating ... booming and nasty.

Even more devastating to Trent Lott was how the Bush Administration handled Hurricane Katrina.

Another event during Lott's exile changed his relationship with the White House: Hurricane Katrina. The massive storm devastated Lott's home state, not to mention his oceanside home in Pascagoula. He found his refrigerator a few blocks away in a neighbor's yard. For him, the administration's bungled response was personal. He considered retiring.

Trent Lott understands that you can't change what you do not acknowledge, and that sometimes those in your own party need to be told-however mildly-when they aren't doing things right. Lott's strength of character is something rarely seen among today's leaders. We may never know all of the personal circumstances that led to Senator Lott's decision to retire from the Senate at the end of the year-well before his term is up-but we can say that he left when he knew the time was right.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Huckabee, Thompson, and being pro-life

In recent weeks, we've heard many of Fred Thompson's Republican Primary opponents try to say that Fred isn't really pro-life. Most notably, the loudest cries have come from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who has tried to claim that Thompson's position-namely that a strict construction of the federal Constitution requires that the abortion question to be resolved by the States and not the federal government-is not a pro-life one.

If that is true, then we can suppose that Huckabee is a relatively recent convert to the pro-life movement, because he now says abortion is not a State issue, but earlier in the year in an interview with Right Wing News he said this:

It would please me [overturning Roe v. Wade] because I think Roe v. Wade is based on a real stretch of Constitutional application -- that somehow there is a greater privacy issue in the abortion concern -- than there is a human life issue -- and that the federal government should be making that decision as opposed to states making that decision.

So, I've never felt that it was a legitimate manner in which to address this and, first of all, it should be left to the states, the 10th Amendment, but secondly, to somehow believe that the taking of an innocent, unborn human life is about privacy and not about that unborn life is ludicrous.

What Huckabee said in that interview was correct all the way around, and what he stated is the position (almost word-for-word) of the National Right to Life Committee. Since it is obvious that he has since changed his position, is he now saying that he is more pro-life than the folks at National Right to Life? Is he expecting us to believe that when he made this statement, he himself was not as pro-life as he is now?

It is no wonder that Fred Thompson got the endorsement of National Right to Life, he publicly espouses their position on how to deal with abortion at the national level, and he has been consistent about it per his Senate voting record.

Like all pro-lifers (and doubtless just like Governor Huckabee) I look forward to the day when the unborn are protected in law throughout the United States. I have no trouble with the idea of supporting a Right to Life Amendment to the federal Constitution-the Constitution allows itself to be amended. Groups like the National Right to Life Committee have their feet grounded in reality, however.

The sole goal of NRLC is to do whatever it can to limit and to ultimately bring an end to legal abortion. National Right to Life is concerned with doing whatever it can to stop abortion now. To this end, they understand that they have no chance in the short term of actually passing a Right to Life Amendment (just as those on the other side of the issue with a brain know that they have no prayer of passing the pro-aborticide amendment some of the more radical elements of the culture of death in this country are promoting). NRLC supports the Amendment, but that is a very long-term goal. In the here-and-now, National Right to Life emphasizes a State-by-State strategy to change State laws so that these laws respect innocent human life. Overturning Roe v. Wade would make that strategy even more effective than it is now.

Which candidate has consistently voted in support of the positions of the National Right to Life Committee? Fred Thompson.


We'll know next week-we think

The week in college football. Arkansas' multiple-overtime upset of #1 LSU, Tennessee's dramatic 4-overtime victory over Kentucky. Missouri's victory over previously undefeated Kansas. Hawaii is undefeated with no respect. The emerging complicated National Championship picture.

Sportspack-November 26, 2007

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christ the King

Today is the Feast of Jesus Christ the King-a feast designed to remind us that Christ is our King, He is King of the Universe, and is King for all time.

It bears the question: Is He our King, have we made Him such, and do we treat Him as our King in our daily lives?

Is Christ your King?

Notes: Pope Benedict XVI appointed 23 new Cardinals and gave them their rings at a Mass celebrating the Feast of Christ the King today in Rome. Among the new Cardinals is John Patrick Cardinal Foley, the Archbishop of Philadelphia. If you've ever watched Midnight Mass from St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve, you've heard Archbishop Foley giving a translation of the Mass-he's the former head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. It will be strange watching this year and not hearing Cardinal Foley.

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A game for the ages

Yesterday my in-laws hosted a family football party for the Tennessee-Kentucky football game that also doubled as a Thanksgiving celebration for part of the family who weren't able to be together Thursday. We all enjoyed some turkey on the rotisserie, dressing, broccoli casserole, bourbon and rum pecan pie, a few drinks, and one of the greatest college football games of the season-in fact one of the greatest I believe I have ever seen. In my mind, only Tennessee's six-overtime thriller over Arkansas a few years back, and Ohio State's dramatic double-overtime triumph over Miami in the 2002 National Championship Game could possibly top it.

For much of the game, it really looked like the Vols were in control, but in the second half Kentucky both outscored and simply outplayed Tennessee. The Wildcats' field goal to tie the game at 31 at the end of the 4th Quarter would send it to overtime and what would become a five-hour marathon. At one point, Kentucky had the chance to win it after the Vols failed to score, but when the Wildcats' Lones Sieber lined up for the game-winning field goal during the second overtime, Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams came through with a desperation block. Fittingly, the game ended after Kentucky failed to convert on a two-point conversion (two-pointers are mandatory after the second overtime in college football) after a touchdown at the end of the fourth overtime.

From the sound of everyone present, you would have thought we were there in Lexington-we certainly had our own little Vol Nation at that party. I've been to many a football party and had many a good time at one, but I don't think I've experienced or seen such exuberance as I did at the end of yesterday's game.

In recent years, the Tennessee-Kentucky rivalry has been a game that is easy to blow off. It has become so lopsided in Tennessee's favor that it is hard to call it a rivalry anymore. That all changed this year. Tennessee won, but nobody (and I mean nobody) gave up-it was a game for the ages.

For Tennessee, it is on to Atlanta next week for the SEC Championship Game against mighty LSU.

While you're at it, look out for Ohio State. Missouri beat Kansas yesterday and will play Oklahoma next week in the Big 12 Championship Game. Should Oklahoma upset Mizzou (a real possibility), or Pittsburgh upset West Virginia next week, that would place the Buckeyes back in the top two, and they could be playing for the National Championship.


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