Saturday, May 02, 2009

Arlen's Out


Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania leaves the Republican Party-finally. President Obama continues to declassify sensitive documents and placate America's enemies. Liberals on the internet and in the media become more vulgar and vile, reflecting both a new-found pomposity and a hidden fear of conservative resurgence.

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Obama Budget Reduction

This is Barack Obama's version of a budget reduction. Realizing that this is what Obama believes to be a cut, it really makes one wonder what the man's personal definition of a spending increase happens to be.

(Hat Tip: Father John Putka, SM)

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Friday, May 01, 2009

We've Got Sunshine On a Cloudy Day, Waitin' On a Budget In the Month of May

The Tennessean and many liberals in the blogosphere have taken to criticizing the Republican Leadership in the House and Senate for pushing through a great many gun bills and concerning themselves with legislation such as Rep. Frank Niceley's bill that would allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers with a prescription. Gun bills and farm legislation are not the only bills on the Republican agenda that now see the light of day with increased Republican numbers, of course, but it is curious to note how the Republican agenda, from gun bills to agriculture bills to SJR 127 is painted by both the press and the Left as somehow a waste of time while bills designed to promote a liberal agenda are "progressive" and "forward-thinking."

People want to know why the House is spending so much time on these agenda bills...isn't there a budget to pass?

There should be, and if there were I'd bet the ranch that Representatives and Senators both would be beating down the doors to pass the budget and go home. There is as yet no budget because Slow Poke Phil has yet to submit a final version, and the speculation seems to be that he is waiting in vain to see if he can somehow get the votes for the General Assembly to pass a bond issue so that he can spend like gangbusters. Tennessee has always been a pay-as-you-go fiscal State, and that is one of the reasons that even in the worst economic times, we tend to remain in sound fiscal condition. Of all people, Governor Bredesen is most aware of this because he has discussed it in past State of the State addresses. The Governor will not get the votes that he needs to do as he pleases with our money and our budget, so he is attempting to browbeat the General Assembly into submission by causing them to wait on him until the parousia.

Rather than waste the public's time by sitting up at the Capitol doing nothing while the Governor plays tiddlywinks, a few legislators have decided that they are going to use the time constructively by actually working to pass some bills, most of which never saw the light of day under the previous House Leadership. If the Governor wants to wait forever to submit a budget, the Legislature doesn't have to sit around and do nothing. Instead, many conservative leaders can start working toward the change they've dreamed of in this State for years while Phil stands by and watches.

Meanwhile, Democrats are annoyed with Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey for stating the obvious-that federal "stimulus" money will only mask our State budget problems, not solve them:

Deeper Tennessee spending cuts may need to come sooner than originally planned because of worsening economic conditions, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said Thursday.

The Blountville Republican said he's also concerned about Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's plan to use federal stimulus money to ease the severity of cuts.

"I honestly believe in some cases the stimulus package is going to make things worse, because it does mask the problem," Ramsey said.

Now I am reminded why it is that I support Ron Ramsey for Governor-because in spite of what disagreements I might have with him, the man is in touch with reality. Many Democrats want to treat this federal money as though it is some panacea that will solve our budgetary problems. The President himself believes this, while admitting that he is moving to run up the deficit to a whopping $9.3 trillion by the end of the decade.

The problem is that whether it is sooner or later, eventually the "stimulus" money isn't going to be there anymore, so if we grow to rely on it-as the Democrats would have us do-what shall we do when it is gone? Pretending the inevitable will not happen is apparently an official policy of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The 101st Day

It was during Franklin Roosevelt's first term that the first 100 days became the media standard for judging a President's early performance. Of course, in the days of FDR there was no CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. For that matter, the press as we know it didn't exist. The only thing resembling instantaneous news dissemination which the people made use of was by radio, and much of the radio news came by telegraph, teletype, and tape delay. News content printed in the paper at it related to federal or State politics often didn't get there without public officials knowing about it well beforehand, largely due to the lack of speed with which political happenings were able to be shared with the population.

As everyone knows, we now live in a different age of instant news. Options for obtaining information, news, and opinion are endless. News talk radio is a popular means to express opinion, but news can also be obtained by television not only from the three major networks, but from two cable news networks, and a third cable network which acts as a cable arm of one of the Big Three. Newspapers must compete with a myriad of internet news sources, and bloggers express opinion at the touch of a button.

Into this new media atmosphere the President and his staff last night attempted to stage a show for the cameras yesterday as a commemoration if Barack Obama's 100th day in office. In 100 days, his Administration has moved with alarming speed to spend States' rights into oblivion and destroy the republic by way of total dependence on Washington. Last night's news conference was an attempt at doublespeak and press manipulation by Obama. Much of the press allowed themselves to be manipulated, for the most part refusing to ask tough questions (except perhaps on the downward spiral in Pakistan), and fawning over the President as though he were somehow an angel of the Lord. For their part, the President, his Press Secretary, and the White House staff behave as though Amateur Night has taken over on Pennsylvania Avenue. The President does not merely dodge questions, but when he handles the press, he does so as though he expect them to do his bidding.

Barack Obama is used to a world of Chicago politics where he doesn't have much in the way of political opposition. The honeymoon is over, and the President is in for a very rude awakening indeed.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bye Bye Arlen

Apparently, I am supposed to feel bad about Arlen Specter jumping ship and joining the Democrats. After all, I called State Senator Mike Williams a traitor when he bolted and became an independent. I do not feel bad at all, in fact I am overjoyed that reality finally caught up to Specter, who has been a Democrat in fact, and is now finally one in name.

On Tuesday, FOX News learned that Biden lobbied Specter to switch to the Democratic Party for six years and has talked to the party-switcher no fewer than 15 times since he voted for President Obama's stimulus bill.

"This has been a long time coming," said one senior official, who spoke to FOX News on condition of anonymity. "He's been having this conversation with Specter for half a dozen years. They're close. You'd be hard-pressed to find a senator he's co-sponsored more bills with."

The only problem with Specter switching now is that he has shown that he is nothing more than a naked political opportunist, and principles be damned. He rarely votes with the Republicans on any important issues, and we now know that he has felt more at home with the Democrats for many years. Arlen Specter didn't switch parties when the Republicans had a safe majority and he would be in the minority because he wanted to keep faith with his principles, he waited until the Democrats had a majority in which he might make the 60th vote. Perhaps most important, polls indicated that Specter was not going to lose the Republican Primary in 2010 against former Congressman Pat Toomey-he was about to be crushed. He himself has admitted that he did not want to face the voters of his own party in a primary. His only hope to save his career was to switch parties, nevermind all of the Republicans who put their own rear ends on the line (usually against their own better judgment), from former Senator Rick Santorum to Newt Gingrich, to campaign for Specter the last time he was primaried.

Congratulations Democrats, you have someone who we always knew was one of you anyway. When he stabs a few of you in the back after you've given him aid and comfort, we on the other side will get a good laugh and a "we told you so."

Goodbye Arlen, don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mr. Speaker, We're On Personal Orders...

The Tennessean finally got around to noticing the time that the Tennessee House of Representatives wastes every day on on Personal Orders:

Out of a total of about 37 hours spent in session, nearly eight hours have been consumed by what are known in the House as "personal orders."

Representatives are now meeting an hour earlier than usual on Monday afternoons to accommodate the ceremonies.

Many lawmakers read newspapers, chat or work on laptops while the presentations are made. They often offer only tepid applause. Recent groups honored on the House floor range from the Soddy-Daisy cheerleading team to the Mule Day queen and her court.

It is no secret that I enjoy visiting the Capitol myself from time to time. I have even been introduced on the House floor-it is a very nice and often genuine gesture, and I am quite sure that the practice began as a way for members to recognize visiting constituents, many of whom may stand out as community servants, volunteers, or members of local governments.

As someone who does watch the business of the House on a semi-regular basis, and who has sat through several sessions from the floor, I can also say that it is my humble opinion that the practice of Personal Orders (and the offering of congratulatory Resolutions that is usually related to them) has gotten so far out of hand that these Orders are no longer used merely to recognize worthy or upstanding citizens, but as political props so that members may garner votes with them back home. Some of the people or groups honored probably don't even realize (at first, anyway) that they may be used as a political prop, but when the majority of a working session is devoted to Personal Orders and congratulatory memorializing-and there are sessions like that-that is less time that is being used for debate and voting on legislation of consequence to your life and mine. It has happened that bills have been rolled because time that could have been spent debating and voting was spent on matters far less important to the public good or welfare.

Our Representatives are paid perdiem to be at the Capitol because it is presumed that they are there to do the public business. Those who do not live near Nashville need this perdiem to cover the cost of a hotel and three meals. Since I do visit from time to time, I have come to see how expensive it is for the well-intentioned public servant who doesn't take bribes or violate ethics rules to go up to Nashville and do their job. Because of this, we the taxpayers help cover those extra expenses.

When the time of the House is spent on Personal Orders and congratulatory memorializing to the extreme degree that it is, time is wasted that could be spent on more important matters. I have even seen multiple sessions (and was on the floor for one) where a member wasted over 20 minutes of the House's collective time on a congratulatory Resolution, proceeding to not only have House Clerk Burney Durham read the entire text of the resolution, but then give a speech about it after it was read-its intent was clear. After speechifying, the member then yielded to the recipient who spoke also. Since this has become the standard practice in every legislative session, it is almost certain that in a normal year (one where the Governor presents a budget on time, unlike this year) Tennesseans are left paying extra perdiem to Representatives and Senators so that everyone can squeeze in their Special Orders by the end of session and still have time to pass real bills. Time is money.

Personal Orders and congratulatory memorializing are fine, but the rules really should be revamped so that the public business is not held hostage to the politics of the Personal Order.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Question of the Grassroots

In comments on A.C. Kleinheider's link to my post expressing my strong displeasure at Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey's change of position on elected judges, a commenter expresses the worry that criticism of Ramsey for flip-flopping on this important issue will mean that Bill Ha$lam or some other less-than-conservative prospect is likely to be elected:

And if people like Oatney, Donna Locke, et al., throw a hissy fit, Bill Haslam will become governor. Other than Ramsey, who else represents the conservative wing of the Republican Party? Zach Wamp? Yeah, right…

First of all, I know that folks read this space pretty regularly, because so many of you tell me that you do. When I was in Nashville for the beginning of the legislative session, so many others who were visiting the Capitol and were staying for the post-session festivities stopped me with a "hey, aren't you David Oatney...? However, I had no idea that this blog was such a powerful medium that my criticism of Governor Ramsey could single-handedly guarantee the election of Bill Ha$lam. I suppose by 2012, presidential candidates will just be beating down my door for an endorsement.

Strong criticism of Ron Ramsey does not necessarily equate to revoking an endorsement. Others have rightly pointed out that the notion that any other candidate qualifies as the conservative standard bearer considering their respective records is more than a bit ridiculous. However, Ramsey flip-flopping on such an important issue as the election of judges when the Tennessee Constitution requires doing so raises legitimate questions about Ron Ramsey's other positions and whether he holds them out of a sincere and strong belief in them, or as a matter of political expediency. Ramsey knows, for example, that a majority of Tennesseans hold a pro-life position. He holds this position himself, yet now says that he opposes the election of judges in this State that would be most likely to actualize that position from the bench.

Election of judges and Supreme Court justices has been a goal of Republican and conservative activists in Tennessee for years, and was one of the things Republicans routinely said they would institute if they got a majority. The seeming abandonment of that promise by the Republican Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate does not send a message of trust to grassroots activists.

I'd like to ask Ron Ramsey how he would build trust among the grassroots in his agenda when he made such a radical shift on such a major issue. It is an important question for the future of his gubernatorial campaign.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Regina caeli

The Vienna Boys Choir sing Mozart's version of the Church's great prayer of the Easter Season

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.

R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

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