Saturday, February 14, 2009

John Boehner On the Porkulus

U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner speaks out on the "Stimulus" disaster and the secrecy under which the Obama Administration is operating in order to get it passed.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Closing Down the Primary

Tennessee House Republican Whip Debra Maggart has introduced a bill that would close our partisan primaries in Tennessee to those people who identify themselves in their voter registration as a member of the Republican or Democratic party. This is legislation that is long overdue which is designed to prevent the rampant crossover voting which occurs in the primaries of both political parties in Tennessee, and gives both Republicans and Democrats control over their party's nominating process.

Expect the opponents of this legislation to try and claim that Maggart and those who support closed primaries are attempting to disenfranchise people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in Representative Maggart's proposal could or should be construed as depriving any citizen of their right to vote for the candidate of their choice in a General Election. The Maggart Bill does implicitly recognize that political parties are not institutions of government, they merely participate in that government just as elected representatives and voters do. As voluntary associations, our political parties have every right to determine how they shall nominate candidates for public office, and who participates in that nominating process. If parties determine that a primary is the best way to choose candidates, then a party has the right to keep its primary a "members only" affair so that Republicans nominate Republicans, and Democrats choose the nominees of their party.

Recall that in 2008, former Congressman David Davis complained that he was defeated in the Republican Congressional Primary in the First District because of Democratic crossover voters. I voted for and supported Davis, but I was agitated by his reaction to defeat. I thought he was being a sore loser because he ran a sub-par campaign and didn't take into account the dogged tenacity of his opponent, now-Congressman Phil Roe. I also knew, as Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey pointed out, that our modern election laws in Tennessee have allowed for open primaries for many years, and anyone running in a primary must assume that crossover voting will occur under the present system.

David Davis did have a point, however. Although he had plenty of opposition from inside the party-enough that he would have faced a serious challenge even in a closed primary-the margin of defeat for Davis being what it was (less than 500 votes) means that Roe simply could not have beaten Davis without Democratic votes. Going after the votes of Democrats in a Republican nominating contest is perfectly acceptable in the present order of things, and Roe can't be faulted for doing what the law presently allows him to do.

The law allows for crossover primary voting, but this deprives bona fide Republicans of the right to nominate a candidate of their choice without serious impediment. Hence, the only way to prevent this kind of thing (Democrats nominating a Republican or vice versa) is to change the law.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 33rd Year

This is a picture of me along with one of my best friends in high school, Michelle Pontious, and her father Robert, on the day that she and I graduated. I actually discovered this on Michelle's Facebook page. I could not locate the larger version, I think Facebook must have a bug.

I was a much more handsome fellow in those days, I think-though Nicole would probably politely disagree. Today begins my 33rd year breathing independently in this world, by the grace of God. This picture is certainly a reminder that times must and inevitably do change. All three people in this photograph have gone on to do different things with their lives in different parts of the country (although Michelle isn't that far away in North Carolina). I also remember something of what our dreams were that day, and I can say that for me, some of the things I had hoped for have come to pass just the way I would have wanted. I got a college education and eventually married and settled down. Other life events caused great changes in the way I would have done things if left to my own devices. Those of us who are people of faith might call this uncontrollable change of plans Divine Providence, or the Will of God.

A month ago this week when I was in Nashville for the opening of the General Assembly, a great many people stopped me along Charlotte Avenue, or at one of the many receptions I attended, or even in one of the bars I like to frequent when at the Capitol with Frank Niceley and some of the Republican State Representatives that I have had the good fortune in time to become friends with or make their acquaintance. A common refrain in these chance encounters was "hey, aren't you David Oatney-I read your blog every day," or "I really enjoy your work." Some were kind enough to exaggerate the importance of what is done in this space on a daily basis, as compared to the hard work many conservatives are doing in the trenches of politics at the cost of their private life. I was then, and am now, humbled by the sheer number of people who say that they read and respect the thought put into my blog, newspaper column (which, thanks to the collapse of the White Pine Weekly, is on temporary hiatus), and occasional podcast.

Interestingly, if people do admire this work and my writing as much as they say that they do, I can't claim that I would be much of a writer were in not for Mr. Pontious, the gentleman in the right of the picture above. In addition to being Michelle's Dad, as well as a solid moral example for any teenager, Mr. Pontious was also my high school journalism teacher and newspaper adviser. Most of what I came to understand as the basic skills needed for quality writing, especially as an editorialist, I learned from him (though neither he nor I realized this at the time, I am sure).

Another trip around the sun often causes me to reflect on the people who have made an impact on my journey.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Memo to Odom: Please Run for Governor!

Yesterday the Nashville Post and Kleinheider reported the best political news for the Tennessee Republican Party that I've heard in weeks-that there is a movement afoot for Tennessee House Democratic Leader Gary Odom to run for Governor in 2010:

While he would not dismiss the speculation about entering the governors race,
Odom told “My priority is 100% focused on the state
legislature and passing a budget that will help Tennessee’s working families.”

The translation, of course, is that Odom is tentatively planning to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor. Even as Kent Williams is thrown out of the Republican Party, the stars seem to align in favor of the Tennessee GOP. First, we learn that Phil Bredesen is under consideration for federal Secretary of Health and Human Services, and now comes the news that Gary Odom, by far one of the State's most liberal legislators, may make a run for Governor.

If Bredesen goes to HHS, Ron Ramsey becomes Governor, making him the incumbent in 2010- and thus much more likely to be the Republican nominee. Odom's only (and very remote) hope of victory would be if Bill Haslam were nominated by the GOP. If Ramsey is already the Governor in 2010, it would be very hard for Haslam to win the nomination even with all of his money.

If Bredesen stays, Odom still won't have it easy, and will likely be thoroughly routed in the 2010 General Election. Republicans can only hope and pray, enlisting the assistance of all the hosts of Heaven, that Gary Odom actually goes through with his planned run. Not only will Odom lose, but the only Democrat who stands in the way of real Republican control of the Tennessee House of Representatives will be out of the House.

Run Gary run!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

State of the State

Last night's State of the State Address was (as I said on Facebook) a real yawner. I can't disagree with Governor Phil Bredesen when he said that members of the General Assembly should always remember that when they become concerned about a favorite government program or pet project, they should remember the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who are having to make far more difficult personal choices because of the economic situation that our State and the Union find themselves in.

The Governor talked a great deal about what he wanted to do. His health care remarks sounded suspiciously like a plug to be nominated Health and Human Services Secretary, especially when clearing the way for more people to be placed on TennCare. Bredesen addressed health care longer than any other subject, and unlike the other matters that he talked about, he actually gave a few specifics. Hence, it is difficult to believe that Bredesen does not believe that he is under consideration for a federal cabinet post.

Governor Bredesen also dicussed collaborating with the Trustees of the University of Tennessee System and the State's university presidents to help make college more affordable, but presented no ideas as to how to accomplish that goal. If the Governor is appointed to the federal government, he will simply leave the methodology of dealing with the crises with which we are confronted to his successor.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Kent is Out

Per Robin Smith and the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee, pop goes the weasel!

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Why Williams Has to Go

Today is the day when we discover whether Kent Williams will be removed from the Tennessee Republican Party for failing to support the Republican nominee for Speaker of the Tennessee House:

Williams' party status has been in doubt ever since he joined with House Democrats to become speaker on Jan. 13. Even before the vote, the party had threatened to strip Republican lawmakers of their "bona fide" GOP status if they voted for a Democrat for speaker.

QuantcastAt issue was Williams' commitment to support the Republican Caucus nominee, House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower. Williams and the other 49 GOP members had signed a pledge to support a Republican for speaker and speaker pro tem. He ended up voting for himself for speaker and a Democrat, Lois DeBerry, for the No. 2 position.

Williams has insisted that he had only pledged to support a Republican, and he did — himself. He has acknowledged defying expectations, though, saying, "things change" when asked about his votes.

If anything changed, it was that the Democrats made Kent Williams an offer.

There has been no small debate about whether or not to remove Kent Williams from the Tennessee Republican Party. If Williams is removed today, the Republicans will lose their majority. Losing the majority hasn't been the primary reason why the proponents of keeping Williams in the party say that he should remain Republican. Some have argued that if the party boots Kent Williams, he becomes a political martyr and can argue to his very Republican constituents (who may not generally follow the daily doings of the General Assembly) that his party has been hijacked and made an example out of him. His own lies and deception to the party would be summarily ignored. Whereas if he leaves the party for the 2010 election-when he cannot run as a Republican-he is much more likely to be handily defeated.

Although I agree with this logic in principle, the reason Williams must be removed from the Republican Party is far more basic. If the party fails to remove him, it will send a message to those "Republicans" in districts far less likely to make a martyr of them for being booted that threats of action by the party for failure to support the Leadership are only that, and that there is no serious consequence for helping to keep the House under Democratic control.

Kent Williams has to go in order to enforce party discipline.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Salve Regina

From the choir of the Cathedral of Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

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