Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fly Me To the Moon

A little Saturday Sinatra


Friday, February 20, 2009

Your Own Day On the Hill

The blogger Jonathan at Grand Divisions seemed more than a little upset that participants in "Equality Day On the Hill" didn't get to meet with Representative G.A. Hardaway or Stacey Campfield:

Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) "stood up" his constituents twice after
missing scheduled and rescheduled appointments on Tuesday. Campfield is
notorious for filing bills that border on the absurd that have never made it to
the floor for a vote. His proposed legislation includes bills that would
prohibit discussion of homosexuality or bisexuality in public schools, call for
issuing death certificates for aborted fetuses, and deny birth certificates to
immigrant children.
[As mentioned the other day, the majority of informed conservative voters in the 18th District support these proposals.-DMO]

Shelby County constituents also had difficulty meeting with a few of their
lawmakers. I phoned several times to schedule an appointment with Rep. G.A.
Hardaway (D-92) during the weeks before Advancing Equality Day. I finally
reached him last Friday. He apologized that his office had not responded with an
appointment for Tuesday and apologized for not calling to cancel a scheduled
appearance at TEP's Lobbying 101 training in Memphis on Jan. 24. Hardaway asked
that I call his office early Tuesday morning. He was certain he would have time
to meet.I called Rep. Hardaway's office at 8:15 a.m. last Tuesday and was
offered a meeting with Hardaway at 12 Noon. When my fellow constituents and I
arrived at Hardaway's office at Noon, we were told that he would not be
available for the rest of the day. I found this curious since many in our Shelby
County group had seen Rep. Hardaway several times in the halls of Legislative
Plaza earlier in the day.

Some Tennessee bloggers will remember that in 2007, we organized a "Bloggers' Day On the Hill," wherein a reluctant (at the time, not so much now) new Leader Jason Mumpower consented to have bloggers visit Capitol Hill under the auspices of the House Republican Caucus. Those who chose to join us were treated to a level of access for two days which most groups are rarely privy to, including many in the press. I remain personally greatful to Mumpower and the Caucus for the way we all were treated, especially since I know how skeptical Jason was of bloggers and the blogosphere at the time. Liberals were even invited, and I should point out that the open format was not what Mumpower had originally planned, but was insisted upon by the same Stacey Campfield that Jonathan and others now deride.

After the first Bloggers' Day, I became consumed with my own political campaign and never asked Jason for a repeat performance. Now that I am finished running for office-for the time being-I'd love to do another such Day On the Hill and include some folks who couldn't make it the first time. However, Bloggers' Day was a chance for bloggers to get to know the Hill and for folks on Capitol Hill to get to know some of us, and to see us at work. We weren't there to lobby for a particular interest group or issue, and I am glad we were not.

Rarely do I give advice to the opposition for fear that they may follow it and benefit by it, but I will make an exception because groups on all sides of the political spectrum who care about our political process should remember how the best political impacts are made. Since Bloggers' Day On the Hill, I have returned to Nashville a couple of times as just plain Citizen Oatney. Everyone knows that while at the Plaza, this website will be abuzz with things that I might learn, but I also manage to get face time (and sometimes dinner and drinks) with legislators from both parties, who will stop me in the hall or gladly take five minutes to talk to me about an issue I might care about. Some will share that they have received phone calls from constituents about an issue I brought up, or do as Frank Niceley sometimes does and say "I've written this bill, will you give me your opinion?"

It seems as though every interest group has a "Day On the Hill" of some sort. Agriculture Day On the Hill, "New American (illegal immigration)"Day On the Hill, Second Amendment Day On the Hill, Catholic Day On the Hill, Pro-Life Day On the Hill, Chamber of Commerce Day On the Hill, Realtors' Day On the Hill, and I would guess that there is probably a One-Armed-Multi-Gendered Mermaid Day On the Hill-everyone else has a day, too. These days do serve a useful purpose for the citizens involved because they familiarize them somewhat with how the General Assembly works, but I would venture to say that they aren't as effective a tool for citizen lobbying as some group leaders might have constituents believe.

What is the most effective way for a citizen to lobby the State House and Senate? A personal visit during the work week with a request to see one's Representative or Senator can be very effective. "But Oatney," you say, "I have to work, I have commitments, I have a family, and a life, and so many responsibilities that I do not have time to just drop what I am doing and go to Nashville." No you don't, but that is precisely the point. If an issue or related issues is so important that you felt the need to take the day off and go up to Nashville to discuss it with the powerful, it must be awfully important to you. Your legislators are not stupid, they know that if you come on a personal visit during the week to talk to them, you have done so with no small sacrifice. They know this because nearly all of them have another job or career and have literally put their lives and families on hold to go to the Legislature for 4-6 months out of the year. Show up on a personal call, and it carries a lot more weight than a "Day On the Hill" might. My elected officials know that for me to get to Nashville is a huge undertaking for me personally, so when I show up, it is a big deal.

Trust me, this kind of lobbying is far more impactful than trying to meet with your Representative during your group's Day On the Hill. Sure, you should try, but it just doesn't carry as much personal weight than if you and a couple of buddies just go to Nashville one day because you are really concerned about some issues that might impact your life.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

In or Out?

Stacey Campfield reports that Kent Williams snuck into this morning's Tennessee House Republican Caucus meeting to the great discomfort of many of the members:

Even though it was open to the press, a few of us did notice and talked to
leadership about our discomfort. They were as off put as the rest of us were but
realized it was just an attempt by Kent to get attention by our throwing him

This was very likely an attempt by Williams to draw attention to himself in a negative way, but that (wisely) did not occur. The Republican Caucus, however, must make a decision about Kent Williams' status where they are concerned. The State Party may have removed Williams, but for that decision to be actualized in the House of Representatives, the GOP Caucus must take action to remove Williams, and so far they have not.

As bad as what happened on January 13th was, members had better take appropriate action in the Caucus to remove Kent Williams, or any complaining about the present state of affairs in the House will be rendered nothing more than idle chatter. The Williams case is one where silence on the part of the House Republican Caucus equates to the consent of the Caucus to Kent Williams' continued presence within it.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still Going-Nothing Outlasts Stacey Campfield...Nothing

As much as the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Left of the blogosphere love to mock and ridicule the legislative efforts of State Representative Stacey Campfield, and his moderate-to-liberal "Republican" detractors do their level best to defeat him, he keeps getting re-elected. Randy Neal, whose opinions I rarely if ever agree with but whose work I usually respect, seems to believe that this is because Campfield's constituents are too stupid to know what Campfield supports and the positions on issues that he takes.

I submit that the opposite is true, many of Stacey Campfield's constituents do know what kind of legislator that he is, and they know that he is renowned for his unique ability to raise Hell from the backbenches. Stacey's informed voters are very much aware of what he is all about, and they re-elect him. I would humbly submit that the only reason Ron Leadbetter did as well as he managed to do against Stacey in last year's Republican primary in the 18th District was because he had a number of friends in the community who knew him from the University of Tennessee (Ron Leadbetter is, by all accounts, a very nice man in addition to being so well-known), and because of Democratic crossovers voting in the Republican Primary against Stacey Campfield. In a closed primary, Campfield wouldn't just have beaten Leadbetter, but would likely have made it appear that Leadbetter ran no campaign at all. Indeed, it is likely a fair statement to say that Leadbetter's support among bona fide Republican voters was much lower than the numbers showed on Primary Night last August.

The legislation that Stacey Campfield introduces is chided by some as extreme and by others as off-the-wall, but in a very conservative district in a conservative State, none of this is unreasonable and most of Campfield's bills are things that conservative voters do support, or would be otherwise predisposed to endorse.

While Rob Briley berated Campfield last year for daring to suggest that men who are not the father of a child should not be the ones paying support for that child, there is widespread support from the man or woman on the street for a measure that holds the real parents of children responsible for their support.

The vast majority of conservatives in East Tennessee want something done about illegal immigration, so those voters would support a bill that denies illegal aliens the privilege of a State-supported education paid for in part or in full by the citizen or legal resident taxpayers of Tennessee. These same people would likely be quick to jump on the bandwagon when they learn that Campfield has introduced legislation declaring that the State may refuse a birth certificate to the children of illegal alien parents.

Social conservatives make up a large chunk of Stacey Campfield's base of support, so this very pro-life group would support Campfield's attempt to obtain death certificates for unborn victims of abortion and the stillborn, allow homeschooled children to participate in public school athletics (especially since a homeschooled child still has to be registered at a school of some kind for testing purposes), and prohibit publicly funded homosexual sex education.

Whether sponsoring legislation to protect the rights of property owners against unjust confiscation and transfer of their lands and possessions, or moving a bill prohibiting labor unions in Tennessee from using dues money to fund political campaigns, most conservatives on the street support the measures Campfield is proposing.

The News-Sentinel may not like these things, and Bill Haslam and Mike Ragsdale may not care for Campfield's efforts to curb their power to take what is not theirs to have, but the conservative constituency Campfield represents does agree with these measures, and with Stacey's spirit of openness. As a result, the Left can whine all they please about Stacey Campfield, but at the end of the day, Stacey will still be there, and still filing his not-so-crazy bills.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Night Before the Infamy-Nashville City Club 1/12/08

I still believe that if he had wanted it, this man would be President of the United States today. Fred Thompson didn't seem too disappointed though. He was the night's keynote speaker and he really sounded like his old self, like he was on the stump running for the U.S. Senate again. In fact, Fred sounded so good that night that it almost made me wonder if he was going to run for Governor-almost. Is Fred as cool and collected in person as he is on television? Absolutely!

I'll remember this moment and this picture because there will be
fewer and fewer of these moments for Tennesseans to share with
someone who made such history. My minute with the Godfather
himself-former U.S. Senator, Senate Republican Leader, and Reagan
White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, Jr. Yes, he really was that

Enjoying a moment of fun and conversation with a great view of the city with State Representative Stacey Campfield.

In the middle of conversation with 3rd District Congressman and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp-about the 2010 race for Tennessee Governor.

A moment with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Cool Down On Kent

In light of Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams' new unique party affiliation, I had an interesting conversation this morning with a member of the House. What made this dialogue so fascinating was that the Representative in question can in no way be termed a "Naifeh Republican," moderate Republican, liberal Republican, or even (and probably especially not) a Howard Baker Republican. Indeed, the person to which I spoke is one of the most conservative members of the General Assembly, and is someone who lives and breathes conservatism as a way of life.

This member implored me to sit back and wait to see what Kent Williams will do, and said that before declaring the Williams era a complete disaster, a "wait and see" attitude may be in order. "We now have some conservative Chairmen in place, and we really have more influence than we have ever had." The member in question also said that they expect their bills to be heard in a way that has never before occurred. "I've met with Williams directly," the person told me, "and he has made certain promises-one is that we'll get a floor vote on SJR 127 [now called HJR 061]. We can't say that he will keep his word, but so far he has appointed people like Bill Dunn and Harry Brooks to chair very important committees."

It was reiterated that yes, Williams acted as a scoundrel on January 13th, that he did not act either in the best interest of the State, his constituents, or his party. But, the honorable member pointed out, Williams is the Speaker whether we like it or not, and we don't have the best situation, but we do have a better one than before.

Those looking for a real ideological battle may soon find one at the unfortunate expense of Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry. DeBerry is apparently very gravely ill, and may soon be placed in a position where she would have to give up her position as Speaker Pro Tem according to this source. There is already a movement afoot to nominate Steve McDaniel for the position, but after the events of January 13, there is less of an appetite within the House Republican Caucus to trust anyone who stood in league with Jimmy Naifeh and took an appointment from Kent Williams so quickly after his betrayal of the Caucus.

Despite numerous political disagreements with Lois DeBerry, she certainly will be remembered in my personal prayers. I would not wish what she is going through on anyone.

As for Kent Williams, because the person who implored me to sit back and wait to see what Williams will do in the weeks ahead before passing judgment is someone whose conservative credentials are above reproach, and who I trust explicitly, I will do as they ask.

Kent Williams, show me you are as fair as you say...

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Citizenship and the Tennessee Legislature


The addition of four Tennessee legislators, including House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, to a class-action suit to force Barack Obama to prove the validity of his birth certificate and citizenship-and why the press is REALLY up in arms about it. The real reason why Democrats don't want closed primaries in Tennessee. The passage of the federal porkulus and what it means for Republicans. Thoughts on the 2010 Elections

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flashback: Bishop Sheen Condemns Communists

Bishop Fulton J Sheen condemns Communism and Communists in this classic clip. The talk may be dated, but the choice he speaks of between brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in Antichrist is still very valid today. Our liberal friends obsessed with Obama should remember this.

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