Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why Fred is the best choice in the field

The other day I explained in detail why I believe Mike Huckabee isn't a good first choice for the Republican nomination. This ad explains very well who is the best choice and why the other front-runners are simply lacking.

Iowa Republicans who plan to attend their precinct Caucus on January 3rd should pay close attention.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Pursuing noble causes

Some may belittle politics, but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall-and although I know it has its many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. And if it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes.

-The Rt. Honourable Tony Blair, in his farewell remarks to the House of Commons

Tony Blair and myself do not share the same political philosophy, but if his farewell remarks are any indication, I think we do share a similar outlook on the nature and purpose of public life. As regular readers probably know, I have often expressed a desire to run for public office. I am frequently asked by well-meaning friends why it is that I would consider actually seeking political office when our government at both the State and federal level is filled with "partisanship" and corruption. Partisanship is a natural outgrowth of liberty, and as James Madison once said "liberty is to faction as air is to fire." As for corruption, there is as much of it in other areas of life as there is in the political realm (and probably considerably less)-we just see the political side of human corruption to a much greater degree because of press coverage and the blogosphere today.

That is as it should be, because when there is real corruption in government people need to know about it and the rotten apples need to be removed from the barrel-which is a big part of what I do and what political bloggers around the State and the Union do every day when we write about the things we see and hear. It should be remembered, however, that for every corrupt person in politics, there are ten others who entered politics for all the right reasons and who stay in public life for the sheer desire to serve. Realistically, it cannot be said that people get into politics for the money-most will never run for federal office, and short of Congress there is little in politics that pays very well. Are some folks "on the take?" Without question-but many others are not.

From a Tennessee perspective, that means that for every Jerry Cooper or
Rob Briley or Jimmy Naifeh there is a John Mark Windle or a George Fraley or a Stratton Bone, and for every Chris Newton there is a Frank Niceley or a Stacey Campfield or a Bill Dunn or a Ron Ramsey -decent people who (whether you like their political views or not) entered politics to be servants instead of being served. I believe that a lot of folks understand that, too-and that is why people will moan and whine about how terrible politicians are-except their own legislator or Congressman.

Many people today complain of what they view as excessive partisanship. Political parties and their competition for power are a reality in any healthy free society. Sometimes our parties nominate people we don't think the best of, but there are goals which are much larger than a single election cycle or a single candidate. I have witnessed and been a part of many losing campaigns, and a few winners where I occasionally had to hold my nose. Sacrifices sometimes must be made so that one day you or your party or your candidates will have their day in the sun-and if a person is patient that day will come.

During the 1980's, much ado was made out of what appeared to be a very conflictual relationship between
President Reagan and the Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill. What many people didn't know was that in spite of all the surface acrimony, Reagan and O'Neill gathered regularly at the White House for a poker game, and the business of the country kept running because these two men who held very different views got together and hammered out a way to do business over seven-card draw and whiskey. The two became very good friends, and Reagan and O'Neill are remembered today as one of the greatest Presidents and one of the greatest Speakers of the House in the modern era, respectively.

Politics isn't a bed of roses, and it is not intended to be all fun and games. People disagree, and sometimes parties disagree among themselves. When the chips are down and people need to stand up for what they believe in, the real leaders do that almost to a man or woman. There is a time to fight and a time to hammer out a way to do business, and the challenge of politics is to know when the time is right for each of these things. Tony Blair is right-for all of our complaints about how bad politicians are, when our history books are written, who are the people we are most likely to remember as the great men and women in modern times?

If I ever do run for office, my prayer is that one day it can be said of me that whatever I managed to do, I did with the people I represented at heart, and that when the time came to stand, that I stood as tall as my stature would allow. I have no desire to be remembered as great, I just want to serve-and that is all that most people who enter the arena ever desire to do.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Poll bombs and real bombs

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Binazir Bhutto is assassinated, sparking chaos within an important U.S. "ally" in the region. Ron Paul supporters "bomb" (or organize within) the AOL Presidential Primary poll.

Oatney On the Air-December 27, 2007


Mike Huckabee: Not a good first choice

Nearly every political pundit is surprised by Mike Huckabee's rise to the top of the field in Iowa and his sudden competative race in South Carolina and other Southern States. Early in the race it now appears that Huckabee is the man to beat, and that in Iowa and the South, other candidates must knock into Huckabee's voter base if they are going to win the Republican nomination. I have long maintained that in a two-man race Huckabee is preferable to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as Huckabee's positions on issues have been more consistent than Romney's, and few can doubt the rectitude of Huckabee's character. At most however, we can say with honesty that Mike Huckabee-for all of his theological conservatism and personal character and nature-is a pro-life liberal.

Some have come to the mistaken belief that the theological conservatives backing Huckabee are out to establish some sort of theocratic state, but nothing could be further from the truth. The perception that many on the Left have of evangelical and other Christian voters being stupid or easily led is a false perception that tends to be nurtured by a faction of the
Democratic Party that is often hostile to organized religion. The reason that many evangelicals are supporting Huckabee in spite of his obvious faults is the same reason some evangelicals and other conservatives are supporting Mitt Romney: They had hoped for the conservative Knight in Shining Armor who could ride in and save the Republican Party in Reaganesque fashion, and the Knight did not come quickly enough. As a result, they've chosen a horse in the race that many of them know is not the best candidate, but they can at least say that he has good moral character.

Mike Huckabee's conservative credentials are very much up for debate. The man who says that Phyllis Schlafly (the political godmother of modern social conservatism) is his inspiration for entering public life does not receive high marks from his mentor. She said of Huckabee:

He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles. Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a ‘compassionate conservative’ are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee.”

Schlafly's words ought to carry great weight because not only is she an evangelical, she was a conservative before being conservative was cool. She made being a theologically conservative Christian woman "chic" in some quarters, and the social Right largely owes her for its prominence in the Republican Party today. If Schlafly says someone isn't a conservative, they have to somehow prove they are one compared to her, and she is not a woman I would want to challenge if I am not a true-blue conservative to the highest possible degree.

Mike Huckabee is without a doubt a person of good moral character, but the mark of a leader is that you can balance both justice and compassion. When Governor Huckabee paroled a serial killing monster (as he had done several times while in office) he did so in the name of Christian compassion and mercy. Apparently he gave little thought to the guilt of those involved or thought that they might kill again.

Peggy Noonan said it best when she echoed the concerns of many social and cultural conservatives in her column at Opinion Journal last week:

He plays the victim well. Others want to "trip him up," but he'll "get my message out there." His foes are "Wall Street-Washington" insiders, elitists. On the "Today" show he said his critics are the type who never liked evangelical Christians. When one of them runs, these establishment types say " 'Oh my gosh, now they're serious, they don't want to just show up and vote, they actually would want to be part of the discussion and really talk about issues that include hunger and poverty and things.' "

This is a form of populist manipulation. Evangelical Christians have been strong in the Republican Party since the 1970s. President Bush and Karl Rove helped them become more important. The suggestion that they are a small and abused group within the GOP is strange. It is as if the Reagan Democrats, largely Catholic and suburban, who buoyed the Republican Party from the late '70s through 2004, and who were very much part of the GOP coalition, decided to announce that Catholics have been abused within the party, and it's time for Christmas commercials with floating Miraculous Medals.

Although I disagree with Peggy Noonan's impressions of the "floating cross" ad (I think it is clear that the secular press over-reacted), I think her concerns about Huckabee's mentality are quite correct. He apparently believes that his base is gullible enough that they will accept him because he is a good Christian rather than a good leader. If I had my druthers, I would rather have a President who is both.

Peggy Noonan is (like yours truly) a Catholic, and one who understands because of experience the importance of the evangelical-Catholic coalition that has evolved within the Republican Party. The primary philosophical underpinning of the coalition has been that conservatism is a series of social, cultural, and economic ideas that all sides have a real stake in. Mike Huckabee is attempting to redefine the perameters of that coalition, and it could result in disaster for the GOP.

There are candidates in the Republican field who I believe Huckabee would be preferable to in a two-man Primary race if it came down to that. This preference would be solely based on the reality that the Supreme Court could be shot to Kingdom Come with the wrong person in office. Huckabee vs. Hillary is a no-contest-as a Catholic, if my choice is between a pro-life liberal and a pro-abortion liberal, I'll take the pro-lifer. None of that means that Republican Primary voters should choose Huckabee, when Fred Thompson or even John McCain are clearly more conservative choices. Huckabee's language reminds me a great deal of Bush in 2000-in some cases almost word-for-word. As a Republican, re-living the current administration would not be my first choice for the right direction of our party or our country. Both the Republican Party and its evangelical wing can do better than that.

(Hat Tip: Rob Huddleston)


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Caucus Grinch

If your house and your family is anything like mine, your Christmas isn't over today-in fact the celebration of Christmas in our home and amongst various family members will continue at some level for several days. There won't be anything quite like yesterday or Christmas Eve, with the huge meals along with the money and gifts everyone gave and received, but there will continue to be eating, drinking, merry-making, and even some gifts in the coming days. Right in the midst of their holiday happiness, folks up in Iowa are finding that this year they need to be concerned with presidential politics.

Turnout is key in any vote-getting operation, but in a caucus such as Iowa turnout is even more essential, Caucus-goers must commit to being at a specified place and at a specified time during the day (usually the evening), and they will be there for an hour or two caucusing. People who are committed to their candidates are the ones who will take the time out of their busy day to show up and participate, and that generally means that the electorate in such a contest is much more well-informed group of people who are invested in their respective communities, their parties, and the political process. I have always been of the opinion that nominees for offices such as President of the United States or Governor should be chosen by caucus and convention and not by Primary for that very reason-the leading nominees of a party should be chosen by the true believers, and the true believers would be willing to take an hour or two to show up and vouch for their man or woman on Caucus night.

Iowa has had January Caucuses for a number of years now, so it can be expected that cold weather has been a factor in the past and will always be an obstacle to turnout in Iowa. This is the earliest that voting in a Caucus that has ever taken place in that State, however, and the weather may not be the only thing that keeps the numbers down. Although many Iowans have left the State in recent years, it has always been representative of a good cross-section of the American electorate, and this season the American electorate have indicated that they are already worn by the presidential process starting so early. With the campaigning in Iowa already underway now for months, the campaigns have become the Grinch that stole Christmas for many people in the Hawkeye State and around the country. Iowans have handled winter much better than they may handle Christmas being interrupted by a bunch of out-of-State politicians.

If enough Iowans believe their Caucus crashed their Christmas, it may translate into lower-than-normal turnout on January 3rd, and that would most definately impact the results.

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The Feast of Stephen

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Nativity of the Lord


In the
5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when in the beginning God created heaven and earth.

From the flood, the 2957th year.

From the birth of Abraham our father, the 2015th year.

From Moses and the going-out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1510th year.

From the anointing of David as king, the 1032nd year.

In the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the 194th Olympiad.

From the founding of the city of Rome, the 752nd year.

In the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace.

In the sixth age of the world.

JESUS CHRIST, the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, HAVING BECOME MAN.


David Oatney reads the Christmas Story from Luke 2:1-40

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Remembering Christmas' meaning

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and how this can obscure the true significance of the day.

Oatney On the Air-December 24, 2007


Puer natus in Bethlehem


Good tidings

Luke 2:1-20:

And it came to pass, that in those days there
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be
enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.
And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went
up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of
David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass, that when they were
there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she
brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and
laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And
there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches
over their flock.

And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them,
and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great
fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who
is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You
shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of
the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on
earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels
departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go
over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord
hath shewed to us.

And they came with haste; and they found Mary
and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they
understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And
all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the
shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her
heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all
the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Christmas blessings

At this time of year when we reflect (or at least we should be) upon the Incarnation and the coming of God into this world, it is also a time when we ought to reflect on the many gifts God has given us and for which we ought to be thankful. It is these gifts, more than material presents or money, that really make Christmas merry for us.

I am thankful for the life that God gave me, and that in His infinite Grace and Divine Mercy, he allows me to wake up to a new day each day I am alive. I thank Him for life and health.

I am thankful to live in a country that allows us to be free and prosperous, and to advance as far as our ingenuity and will can take us.

I have been blessed with the most wonderful wife in the world. She puts up with a lot out of me, yet she stands by me in everything that I have accomplished and hope to accomplish in this life. She has come to my aid and has defended me when I felt alone. She believes in me and in what I stand for, because she stands for the same things.

I am blessed with a roof over my head, a piece of ground that is mine and that I am invested in, and even animals who love me and take care of our home in their own way.

I am blessed with supportive friends who encourage me in all that I try to do, and I am surrounded by people who really believe in me.

I am thankful to live in a town and a community that has embraced me and that looks out for our family-and to have kind and compassionate neighbors who really care.

I am thankful for my friends and colleagues at the fire department who put their days and lives on hold and often on the line to help others in need. I am proud to play a small part in their collective work.

I am thankful for my family, and for their continued health. I pray daily for their peace and happiness.

I am thankful most of all for the babe born into a manger who made it possible for me to be thankful for all of these other things.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hallelujah Christmas Sunday

I wish I could put on a light display like these folks did.

Here's a techno reminder of the Reason for the Season from one of my favorite groups-Mannheim Steamroller. It is also a great way to get ready for church this morning!

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Tony and the Church

It is always wonderful when we hear about those who embrace the truth of the Holy Catholic Church, and it doesn't matter if that person is great and mighty or poor and lowly, the Lord welcomes all to the Church equally.

When a notable person embraces the Faith, it is hard to avoid noticing-especially when that person is a recently-departed Prime Minister of a country whose conversion we've been collectively praying would occur for over 500 years. Today, the Holy Catholic Church welcomes into our august ranks the Right Honourable Tony Blair, PC. In reading of Blair's reception into the Church, I noticed this little statement:

The former prime minister told the BBC this year that he had
avoided talking about his religious views while in office for about 10 years for
fear of being labeled "a nutter."

The poor PM had this inner Catholic that he felt he couldn't let out because people would think he was nuts. I think that is a pitiful shame that once-Christian England has become a place where leaders apparently think the populous will think they are crazy if they say "I'm your Prime Minister, and I love the Lord."

It makes me thankful that the secularists have not managed to ruin our country in this way just yet. Our leaders can still pray, and sometimes it is even expected of them. Whether it was FDR during the Normandy invasion, or President Reagan after the Challenger disaster, God is still God in this country-whiny Leftists notwithstanding.

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