The World According to Oatney
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Eleventh Hour Election AlertIn this video, Father John Corapi, SOLT warns Catholics to remember the dictates of the Church when entering the voting booth.
Friday, October 31, 2008
The Early VoteThe Jefferson County Standard Banner reported in yesterday's paper that the early voting totals for Jefferson County were at an all-time high. About 10,000 people have cast their votes early, according to the paper (Of course, I can't prove to you that the Standard Banner said this unless you actually saw that it was the top story above the fold yesterday, because the paper's website is absolutely horrible). If you know much about the voting rolls in Jefferson County, you know that is a sizable chunk of the county's registered voters-about a third of them.
What makes this such an interesting story is the fact that early voting totals are never that high in Jefferson County because normally, if you don't live in Dandridge you have to go all the way to the county seat to vote early. Unless you happen to be over that way on some other business, it is usually much easier to vote in your precinct on Election Day itself. This year the Election Commission wisened up and opened early voting stations in Jefferson City, New Market, and one in White Pine-actually just outside of town-at the county EMS station. There is little question that the decision to expand early voting locations contributed to the increased early turnout.
However, the numbers also seem to be telling us that it wasn't just the new places that one could go to vote that have caused the spike in early voters here. On Wednesday, I called the Election Commission just to insure that my financial submissions were in order after receiving the State disclosure notice that was sent to me at a waste of taxpayer dollars, since the same notice informed me what I already knew-that since I had not spent $1000 on my campaign, I did not need to file a disclosure. However, there are forms to file nonetheless, and the reception of that disclosure form in the mail made me want to double check that the appropriate papers were still on file. In making that call I was put on hold three times, and when I was finally helped, the person on the other end of the line was Assistant Administrator of Elections Sharon Breeder (who knows me). Sharon apologized for the wait on the phone, and pointed out in passing that the reason for it was the never-ending stream of people coming to the Election Commission to vote. According to Sharon, as of Wednesday 6,200 people had voted at the Jefferson County Election Commission main office. Those totals are utterly unheard of in any election here, and also means that a lot of people went to the effort to go to Dandridge and vote. Dandridge-area merchants are thankful for the numbers, I am sure.
I experienced no line when I voted early in White Pine, but I'm told that there have been lines in Dandridge, notable because in terms of population, Dandridge only has about 700 more people than White Pine. In future, perhaps the county will open the expanded early voting stations again, and will publicise them far better than was done this time around.
In this most Republican of counties, one has to believe that these numbers are good news for John McCain. Further, perhaps Rob Huddleston has a point: John McCain looks more enthusiastic than he has in many months. Candidates who believe they are in for a whipping don't act in the way that Senator McCain is acting, and those of us who remember the Dole campaign know that all too well.
It is of great interest to me, of course, to rack my brain over the question of how the early vote turnout will impact my race for White Pine City Council. There is no way to know this for certain until Election Night, but I am compelled to think that such high early voting numbers are good news for my campaign. I beat the other candidates to the punch and got signs up at various places around town, and made sure that there was a sign at the EMS station even when I could not be there. It should be noted here that this could not have been accomplished in the timely manner that it was without the studious help of my friend and White Pine firefighter Steve McGill, who has shown a great zeal for this effort.
Early voting is over now, and we have one last campaign swing this weekend and a marathon on Tuesday...and then we'll know the result.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Obama Speechwriter Leaves Democratic Party-Calls It "Tired And Out Of Date"Former John Edwards and Barack Obama speechwriter Wendy Button has had enough. She sees Obama for the fraud that he is, and now she has come to understand that the modern Democratic party, in all of its glory, is a massive political sham:
When we first met, Obama and I had a nice conversation about speeches and writing, and at the end of the meeting I handed him a pocket-sized bottle of Grey Poupon mustard so he wouldn’t have to ask staff if it was okay to put it on his hamburger. At the bottom of the bottle was the logo for “The South Beach Diet” and he snapped, “Oh so you read People magazine.” He seemed to think that I was commenting on his bathing suit picture.
I helped with his announcement speech and others. I worked in the Senate when he was in D.C. One day after a hearing on Darfur, we were walking back to the office. I was still hobbling from a very bad ankle injury and in a very kind and gentle way he offered his arm when we approached the stairs. But later in debate preps and phone conversations and meetings, I realized that I had made a mistake. I didn’t belong. No matter how hard I tried, my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
See campaigns get complicated when you’ve written for so many Democrats. Not only had I written for Senator Edwards, but I had also been Senator Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter. Senator Joe Biden is a “good looking” man and his care after my father almost died from an aneurysm is the kind of kindness you never forget. When I saw Edwards at a traffic light in D.C. about a year after our meeting, he asked for help and I did and it was an honor to help him with his concession speech. And when the primary ended, it was a privilege to help Michelle Obama with a stump speech, be considered as a speechwriter for the V.P. nominee again, and send friends in Chicago ideas until the financial crisis hit. This is what the Democratic Party has been for me; it’s family. Now, it doesn’t even feel like a distant cousin.
This drift started on a personal level with the fall of former Senator John Edwards. It got stronger during the Democratic National Convention when I counted the substantive mentions of poverty on one hand and a whole bunch of bad canned partisan lines against Senator John McCain. Some faith was lifted after Senator Hillary Clinton’s grace during a difficult hour. But that faith was dashed when I saw that someone had raided the Caligula set and planted the old columns at Invesco Field.
The final straw came the other week when Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber) asked a question about higher taxes for small businesses. Instead of celebrating his aspirations, they were mocked. He wasn’t “a real plumber,” and “They’re fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund manager,” and the patronizing, “I’ve got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber.”
Having worked in politics, I know that absolutely none of this is on the level. This back and forth is posturing, a charade, and a political game. These lines are what I refer to as “hooker lines”—a sure thing to get applause and the press to scribble as if they’re reporting meaningful news.
As the nation slouches toward disaster, the level of political discourse is unworthy of this moment in history. We have Republicans raising Ayers and Democrats fostering ageism with “erratic” and jokes about Depends. Sexism. Racism. Ageism and maybe some Socialism have all made their ugly cameos in election 2008. It’s not inspiring. Perhaps this is why I found the initial mocking of Joe so offensive and I realized an old line applied: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”
The quote was Ronald Reagan's, of course, which is liable to make our militant friends on the other side simply discount it. Wendy Button's story, however, is not isolated. Many a good Democrat have been picked on and put down, and ultimately pushed out. As I have pointed out in this space before, if my interest in politics could be considered familial, it comes from the maternal side of my family, where I come from a long line of politically involved Democrats. My Grandfather left the Democratic Party largely because he also felt disconnected from the political order that he once considered to be much like a family. He often said that in his younger days, being a Democrat was second nature. Democrats are quite good at crapping on their own, as well as showing the depths of their hypocrisy.
What planet am I living on? Everyone knows that when it comes to appearance, there’s a double standard for women politicians. Remember the speech Speaker Pelosi gave on the floor the day of the bailout vote? Check out how many stories commented on her hair that day and how many mentioned Congressman Barney Frank’s.
Here we are discussing Governor Palin’s clothes—oh wait, now we’re on to the make-up—not what either man is going to do to save our economy. This isn’t an accident. It is part of a manufactured narrative that she is stupid.
Governor Palin and I don’t agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can’t learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot—that’s a sign of both humor and humanity.
Has she made mistakes? Of course, she’s human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama’s “57 states” remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, “There’s nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man’s thoughts.”
I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.
Before I cast my vote, I will correct my party affiliation and change it to No Party or Independent. Then, in the spirit of election 2008, I’ll get a manicure, pedicure, and my hair done. Might as well look pretty when I am unemployed in a city swimming with “D’s.”
I realize that Ms. Button is being intellectually honest with herself and with the world when she says that she is now an independent. What is most important about her path down the road of political reality is that she sees the modern Democratic Party for what it is; a nest of high-brow, self-absorbent, intellectual hypocrites who masquerade as friends of working America.
I understand what it is like to be poor, I get what it means to have no money, and I know that if you have initiative and drive you can improve your lot in life. Most of these people are champagne socialists-they rail on about the need to help the poor, but most of them have no clue about what it is that they speak. George Soros and Warren Buffett are classic examples of that. Among some of the other modern-day Democrats-John Edwards is a good case in point-they've been among the elite for so long that they are too busy getting $300 haircuts from Christophe of Beverly Hills rather than understanding Middle America.
John and Cindy McCain may have seven houses, but Senator McCain is a real American hero who, unlike many of our friends in the party opposite, has never claimed to be anything politically other than exactly what he is. Rather than thumb his nose at Joe the Plumber and others like him, John McCain embraces the successes of working people and wants to adopt policies that will encourage them to be more successful.
Just as many liberals demonstrated earlier this summer that they do not understand how evangelicals and other conservative Christian groups think, so many of these folks just don't get everyday Middle America. Perhaps the one benefit of an Obama administration is that it will precipitate a mass exodus from the Party of the Jackass.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Not Running Away, Not Playing DeadNewsweek's Howard Fineman points out that in spite of the attempt by the press to call the race for Barack Obama before the votes are counted, he has not run away with it:
Still, in today’s traditional Gallup Daily Tracking Poll (the one that screens
likely voters most rigorously, based on past votes), Obama leads McCain by only
two percentage points, 49 to 47 percent.
Why hasn’t Obama run away with this?
Because the country remains culturally divided. Because the more it
looks like Democrats will score huge gains in Congress, the more worried “soft
Republican” voters get. Because McCain has succeeded, in the minds of some of
those voters, in raising the hoary specter of “tax-and-spend” liberals.
Because Obama hails from a place (South Side Chicago) and background (the son of
professional academics) more reminiscent of Democratic losers like Michael
Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry than winners like LBJ, Jimmy Carter or Bill
Clinton. Because some voters remember the hate-filled sound bites of the Rev.
Regardless of the outcome of the presidential vote next Tuesday, this country will likely remain a deeply divided nation. It may be hard for our friends on the other side to fathom that reality, but it is true. From questions about his citizenship that have never been shaken, to facts about his background that are partly true and partly false, Obama would assume office as one of the most suspicious presidents to the American people in history.
One of conservatives' biggest fears (other than Obama destroying the Supreme Court), is that an Obama administration will reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine in an attempt to silence conservative talk radio. Obama and his people have proven adept at shutting his opponents out of the mainstream press. That very news media seems to think that conservatives are supposed to roll over and play dead collectively will not do so. We will fight to the last man or woman for what is right, and were I Barack Obama I'd be very concerned about what might happen on Election Day in swing States that he is now expecting to carry if conservatives show up in numbers. Obama is apparently concerned enough that he is taking to the airwaves tonight in a pre-taped "special" to run his mouth.
Obama knows that the radio will be the home of his biggest political opposition-Middle America. If he is to survive, he will almost certainly try to shut that audible opposition down.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
One Week To GoWith one week to go before the General Election, we hear the news that things may indeed be much closer than they appear:
Barack Obama's been leading John McCain in almost every national poll since late September, and it may seem like he's got the election all sewn up.
But the Democratic presidential nominee's margin has fluctuated wildly, anywhere from 1 to 13 points in the past two weeks alone. And a few recent polls are even within the margin of error, suggesting McCain could actually be leading among certain sets of voters.
But some of the inconsistencies in the polls this year can also be traced to the method used by the pollsters.
The "expanded" Gallup poll, unlike the "traditional" one, includes those citizens who call themselves likely voters but who've never actually voted before.
I've always placed a lot of stock in the traditional Gallup poll because until this year, the Gallup Organization has remained one of the most reliable means to predict election outcomes. However, news outlets are choosing not to use the traditional Gallup poll, and instead are using the new "expanded poll." The expanded poll's methods are arguably very flawed, and yet this is the poll the media has been using because it favors Barack Obama by such a large margin.
I do not indulge in fantasies, and I am not under the illusion that John McCain is in the lead. This election is much closer than the press is indicating, however, and I think our media friends will be in for a surprise next Tuesday when Barack Obama fails to win the election in the first two hours. He may not have won by midnight, and NBC will be asking how this could happen.
In 2006, I recounted how emotionally exhausted I was in the wake of one of the hardest campaign years that I could remember up to that point. The U.S. Senate campaign here in Tennessee, as well as the bruising Tennessee House race in the 18th District between my friend Stacey Campfield and Schree Pettigrew had taken its toll on my heart and mind, especially since nasty primaries-one lost and one won-were involved in both cases. On Election Day, most of the candidates that I had personally supported and placed a stake in won their races, yet I was never happier in my life to see a campaign come to an end. My emotions were numb and I was a tired man in November.
This year, not only does the GOP appear to be behind nationally, but I am a candidate for office myself. When I entered the race for City Council here in White Pine, it looked like it was just going to be me and Ann Strom. Since the top two vote-getters are elected, it appeared that we would cruise to unopposed victories. Instead, my first ballot run for public office puts me in a field of six candidates where I know if I win it will be by just a few votes and I could lose by a tiny margin as well. I have invested time and money into this little campaign, more than all of my opponents, and I could still be defeated next week. One would think that the state of the national polls, the Republican position in the Congressional ballot, and the tired slog of my own campaign would place an emotional drain on me the makes 2006 look like a cakewalk. Yet, while I am physically very tired, and may collapse from exhaustion in seven days after spending a 12-hour day at the 100-foot polling line, my emotions are in a far superior state than they were two years ago. I feel pleased that not only have I done everything I could for myself, but the local GOP will turn out its voters-we've all done our part and I feel proud of that. My heart is very high.
It is a far different feeling than I felt two Novembers ago. If that is any indication of what will happen next Tuesday, things just might not be as bad for the Grand Old Party as it now appears.
Monday, October 27, 2008
They "Endorse" McCain and Dis Brother FrankThey weren't going to endorse, but the Knoxville News-Sentinel quickly figured out that it needed to keep subscribers and gave John McCain a weak endorsement.
This means they aren't liberal, right? Well, they endorsed David Seal over Frank Niceley here in the 17th District. The News-Sentinel is more concerned with maintaining the handgun ban in State parks than with retaining one of the most responsive, accessible representatives on the Hill. Why?
While it is difficult to go against a widely known incumbent, the editorial board finds Seal’s goals are more compatible with its policies.
The policies of the News-Sentinel editorial board are more important than the needs of the people of the 17th District. David Seal doesn't know agricultural policy from a hole in the ground in one of the most agricultural districts in the State of Tennessee? Who cares? After all, Seal fits in with the policies of the News-Sentinel. Oh joy!
The only people that I've met who aren't supporting Frank's re-election are Democrats who believe everything they read in the News-Sentinel.
I'm sure that Mr. Seal is well-meaning, and is probably a Democrat running as an independent because he can't win with a D next to his name out here in God's Country. I don't deny that David Seal is very likely a good man and I am glad that he wants to serve the community. He isn't doing Jefferson County much of a service by trying to unseat a man who truly knows the people that he represents.
Over the years, I have dealt with a lot of people in government. I have yet to meet a representative who is as open and accessible to their constituents as Frank Niceley. I've lived in several places and had several elected representatives, and Frank Niceley is by far and away the best constituency representative that I have ever had at any level of government. A few folks really don't realize how good we have it.
Speaking for Nicole and myself: Frank, we love and appreciate you and all that you do for Jefferson County. We hope and pray that you are our State Representative for many years to come.
The KNS can just scratch their mad spot...
The Map This Week: October 27Thanks to the latest Strategic Vision polls in Ohio and Florida-the ones for which the pollster has received death threats, Ohio and Florida now lean in favor of John McCain:
In spite of John McCain's improved standing this week, I'm just not prepared to say that McCain has swung Virginia to a toss-up or that the fundamental dynamic of the race has changed over the last week. Barack Obama still has an overall lead that would likely put him in the White House were the election held today.
Yes, McCain has a lot of ground to make up in a week. However, the polls also make it clear that this race is not too far gone. I've talked to several political insiders who believe that the Obama camp may be sitting on their laurels expecting victory. I hate to give tips to the other side, but if they thought that conservatives were going to stay home in droves in frustration (many of us thought that might be the case when McCain won the nomination), it doesn't appear that this will be the case. Conservatives will show up in force on Tuesday next with the sole purpose of attempting to keep Barack Obama from winning the election.
It would be political suicide for the Obama campaign to underestimate conservative determination.
NOTE: Next Monday will be the last map projection and we'll predict the final outcome of the presidential race.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
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