Saturday, January 19, 2008

Carolina in My Mind

In the political world, everyone's mind seems to be on Carolina today.

An interesting side note since yours truly is an old Pat Buchanan man: Mike Huckabee is now targeting our vote directly. If he continues with this line of thought in his campaign rhetoric and wins the nomination, would this give vindication to those of us who supported the Irish Catholic firebrand in 1996 to see the Baptist minister take up the causes Old Buck did and win in the South with them?

If he does get nominated and continues with his current rhetorical line, will the media give Pat the credit for breaking the ground he did in 1992 and 1996 (short answer: no)?

Look out for Fred Thompson today. This may be Fred's last stand...or it may not. Fred has run a first-class insurgent campaign in the Palmetto State and has focused more time there than any of the other candidates. A surprise win in still possible, and if that does happen, this business is far from over.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

No good reason

The news was out yesterday via the Kingsport Times-News that Johnson City Mayor Dr. Phil Roe will run in the Republican Congressional Primary in the First District against incumbent Republican Congressman David Davis. Since Hell will freeze over before a Democrat wins in the Fighting First (a phenomenon for which I daily thank and praise Almighty God), the Republican Primary is the only electoral game in town. Winning it makes you the Congressman-elect, and November is a mere formality.

It is true that there are plenty of people in this district who aren't fond of David Davis. After subtracting the four Democrats between here and Bristol, even many conservatives have had their reasons to mistrust Davis. The allegation floated during the 2006 Primary that Dr. Roe performed abortions was seen to have been floated by the Davis campaign. Roe not only denied it, at least one reliable source told this writer that Roe's wife confronted Davis about the charge. In this socially conservative district, that kind of charge can be viewed as seriously inflammatory if it isn't true. David Davis may not have spread that rumor, but a few of Davis' campaign supporters in the district (some of whom left comments in the past on this very weblog) didn't exactly conduct themselves in a way that could be considered civil or above-board.

There is also the reality that every one of Davis' viable 2006 Primary opponents has it out for him, and several have become friends in the wake of their 2006 experience. Perhaps the most grieved of all of these is former Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, who lost to Davis by 500 votes amid questions about malfunctioning voting machines in Sullivan County. If anyone has cause for a second round against Davis, it would be Venable-yet Phil Roe could be Davis' only opponent.

It is during times like this that we must ask ourselves not whether the questions of 2006 should be rehashed, but whether David Davis has actually done anything so detrimental to the First District as to warrant removal from office. Perhaps the most important thing any Member of Congress does is constituent services, and that is true in the First District of Tennessee at an even greater level than in many other places-our Member of Congress tends to have far more power and influence at home than they do on the Hill. I didn't support David Davis in 2006-I originally endorsed Richard Roberts and later switched my support and very proudly backed former Johnson City Mayor Vance Cheek Jr., who I have come to consider a friend. I know that if David Davis does not read my work, that members of his staff have certainly read it and are aware that I was no supporter. Yet when I have contacted Congressman Davis' office in need of assistance on federal matters, he or his staff have been very helpful and responsive. Davis' District Director Paul Chapman has done his best to keep me abreast on everything from Congressman Davis' schedule to his whereabouts, and makes it a point to fire off a personal note to me from time to time. Congressman Davis has even sought me out personally, and we have sat across the table from one another after his election to the House.

Those things alone do not warrant re-election, but they do demonstrate that if nothing else, David Davis is dedicated to the service of the First Congressional District of Tennessee. I have talked with many people who are quick to point out that Davis is not well-liked on Capitol Hill. Neither was the late Congressman Jimmy Quillen-yet Quillen was not only the longest-serving Congressman in the history of the district (34 years), he was probably the greatest Congressman the First District has enjoyed in the post-bellum era. In challenging Davis so soon after his election, Phil Roe has very little to campaign against Davis on aside from the 2006 Primary. Roe cannot expect to win the Primary merely by campaigning on what should or should not have happened two years ago, he must prove that David Davis is simply a terrible Member of Congress, and he will not likely have the ability to do it. Dr. Roe is not likely to be beaten in August, he is likely to be pummeled like a political rag doll.

Perhaps the time may come when it would be appropriate to challenge David Davis, but that time is not after two years in office when he barely has a negative record to run against, dogfighting votes notwithstanding. A lot of people have complained about Davis, but few have managed to come up with a good reason to replace him.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The constitutional folly

Every few months, it seems there is a "new" movement that comes afoot to give Tennesseans an elected Lieutenant Governor. The Tennessee Republican Party has officially been on the bandwagon for an elected Number Two for some time. The proposition of an elected Lieutenant Governor sounds great in theory, but has anyone who favors the idea really asked whether it is efficient or wise to have yet another State official?

The custom as it has evolved in Tennessee politics is that the presiding officer of the Senate shall be first in line for the Governorship if a sitting Governor should die, resign, or be otherwise unable to perform the duties of his or her office. This is a legitimate line of succession that is based in Tennessee law and constitutional precedent, and that law is partly based on the federal constitutional rule that the Vice President is also to act as President of the Senate. The difference, of course, is that the Vice President only has a serious job if the President gives him one. Our current Lieutenant Governor has a real job in Government as an elected State Senator, with a real constituency and real responsibilities aside from merely being the Governor's spare.

Bill Hobbs, in his official capacity as the Communications Director for the Tennessee Republican Party, said this about Governor Phil Bredesen's suggestion that the Lieutenant Governor be elected:

"The Tennessee Republican party is pleased that Gov. Bredesen is coming around to our point of view on this issue. Republican legislators have long advocated that Tennesseans be allowed to choose the state's constitutional officers, including the Lt. Governor, in the voting booth."

Everyone who reads my work can probably figure out that I think the world of Bill Hobbs and his groundbreaking role in the Tennessee conservative blogosphere. This is a case of raw politics at work, not reasonable political discourse, however. The State GOP's reason for favoring an elected Lieutenant Governor is because they fear that a Democratic majority in the Senate will mean another long-serving Democratic Lieutenant Governor after the fashion of John Wilder. This is a reasonable and justifiable fear, but rather than make significant alterations to the Tennessee Constitution because of the fear of Democrats or of Senators from the Mike Williams School of Politics, the thought of another long Democratic reign in the basement of the War Memorial Building should instead inspire Republicans to do everything in their power to obtain and then keep a working Senate majority.

It makes no sense to add another person to the payroll of the State's elected officials and give him or her all the trappings of office (official car, State security detail, etc.)-which the Speakers of both Houses would certainly keep-just for that person to sit around and wait. It does nothing to contribute to the cause of limited government to increase its size and cost yet more by adding an elected office that is completely unneeded.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wolverine Roundtable

Adam Graham of the Truth and Hope Report, John McJunkin of the Voice of Liberty podcast, Fabian Story of Political Straight Talk, and educator Bill Schulke join David Oatney in a roundtable to discuss the Michigan Primary Results.

Michigan Primary Roundtable

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It isn't over until we say it is

If there is one thing that the race for the Republican nomination is proving with each day it is this: The people will not have the press telling them who their nominee should be. Back in late 2006 and early 2007, the press was telling us that Rudy Giuliani was supposed to be the Annointed One. As of yet, Ron Paul has made a far more impressive showing. Then the media said John McCain was the real frontrunner after his win in New Hampshire, but the voters in Michigan had other ideas yesterday-after polls indicated McCain might win that State.

Mitt Romney's victory in the Michigan Republican Primary yesterday helped serve as a shot across the bow to both the news media and to the GOP establishment-a shot that reminded them that as long as we have primary elections, partisan nominations are supposed to be decided in voting booths, not on the sets of cable news programs. This isn't to say that Mitt Romney doesn't have plenty of Eastern "Rockefeller Republican" connections-he absolutely does. What the evolving Primary and delegate picture shows is that Republican voters (and the exit polls did show that unlike the 2000 Michigan Primary, the Republican contest was largely decided by Republicans) simply refuse to be told by the press when our nominating contest will end.

For the last 18 months, the public has been spoon-fed the notion that the entire process of nominating candidates will essentially be over on February 5th, 2008. Voters inclined to the Republican Party are now saying collectively to the press and the pundits: "Who died and made you Chief Electioneer?" The voice of "the people" does seem pretty clear and the one thing that does not appear to be the least bit muddled at all is what that "voice" seems to be screaming at the top of its collective political lungs-"this will end WHEN WE SAY SO."

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"I love to take your money"

If you are one of the legions of people in this State or around the country who have been told or who mistakenly believe that Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is secretly a Republican, you need fear that fiction no longer. The Governor has made it clear to Tennesseans and to the world that he is a Democrat and a liberal-he publicly admitted that he takes pleasure in taking people's hard-earned money from them and "giving it back" via his pet projects.

I have always operated under the assumption that Governor Bredesen was, if nothing else, a smooth and slick political operator. The Governor has always reminded me a lot of Bill Clinton, because Clinton could persuade the masses to believe just about anything he said. After the Republicans took over Congress in 1994, Clinton told America "the era of big government is over." Prior to that, of course, he was ready to rapidly expand the size and scope of Government through "health care reform." Phil Bredesen has the ability to sound like a conservative when he needs to appeal to the mainstream electorate in this State, and sound like a liberal Democrat when he wants to get his own party fired up. Bredesen is two-faced in the most real and perhaps the most frightening sense of that term. He will betray his own party and his own base when it is expedient for him to do so, but after courting Republicans with conservative rhetoric, he will sell them out with equal or greater vigor.

Occasionally, we do get glimpses of the real Bredesen, and he gave us that at the Hermitage the other day.

I honestly can't believe that the Governor so readily admitted that he likes taking tax money. Yes, many (if not most) of our elected leaders get some pleasure out of taking our money away from us. Unlike the Governor, most of them are not stupid enough to admit this in public in such a straightforward fashion. Someone should ask the Governor if "giving it back to [us]" includes the party bunker he and his wife are building over the objections of his neighbors, the Lieutenant Governor, and ever-increasing numbers of legislators, the price of which has now ballooned to some $12 million.


Monday, January 14, 2008

A party of assumption-makers

Much ado is being made over national polls that show any of the major Democratic choices defeating any Republican one. Democrats and those sympathetic to them are simply giddy over what they see as a coming easy victory in the fall. I welcome this development of Democrats believing that victory is theirs. These same people believed it in 2004 when the polls showed any Democrat beating George W. Bush by a rather hefty margin in January. In 2000, the polls actually showed the Democrats with what should have been a sizable advantage. Instead, after the election they were left whining that they didn't really lose and decrying the Constitution as "unfair" because they didn't get their way-and they sat on their laurels and assumed victory for themselves.

Democrats and liberals are terrible at making assumptions. Firstly, they assume that the American people actually buy the socialist claptrap that modern-day Democrats feed them. We collectively do not, of course-which is why the Democrats' better strategists have steered the debate away from the core issues of the Democratic Party and are making "the war" and "the economy" the issues with a very broad brush. Many Americans (including myself) disapprove of how the war has gone, and they don't like way they see the economy going. Smartly, Democrats talk in negative terms about the war and the economy, but when they begin to act on their perceived solutions, the people of the Union react very negatively.

In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned on "change." He told the folks that the Republicans had been in power for too long and that he was going to bring them health care reform and an "economic plan." As is typical in Democratic campaigns, Clinton was long on generalities and very short on specifics. When Clinton was elected (with a little help from Ross Perot), he had a Democratic Congress and enjoyed total control over the affairs of the federal apparatus. People began to learn the details of the Clinton plan. He put his wife in control of "health care reform" and raised taxes after pledging "I will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these programs." In 1994, the voters essentially told Clinton that they did not appreciate his taking the country to Hell after accusing the Republicans of doing what he himself was engaging in. Bill Clinton became a successful President not because he got his way, but because a Republican Congress gave him the pieces of the puzzle to keep the country moving and he signed those pieces of the puzzle into law. He is revered among Democrats as being so great, but had the 1994 election never happened, Clinton would likely have suffered the same fate in 1996 as Jimmy Carter did in 1980. Bill Clinton was never able to enact his "plan," and the people saved him from himself. When Democrats try to enact their programs, the people have tended to balk in the modern era.

The second (and by far the greatest) mis-assumption the Democrats are making is that a majority of people are actually paying attention to Presidential politics right now. In spite of all of the hoopla over the early Primaries, most people do not vote in those contests. Voter turnout in most of these States will be under 50%, and in many cases will be well under 50%. The majority of voters will not vote at all until November, so any polls that are taken now which say that any candidate of one party is likely to beat any candidate of another party are going to be highly inaccurate. The 2004 vote hinged on many voters who did not make up their minds until a week or two before polling day.

All of these Democrats and liberals that are getting starry-eyed about their impending victory can start actually taking polls seriously after Labor Day. On November 5th, all of you might be whining again while you prepare for the inauguration of another Republican, muttering that you just don't get it because all of the generic polls said no Republican could win.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Baptism of the Lord

Matthew 3:13-17:

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him.

And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

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