Thursday, December 28, 2006

At Least He Wasn't Senile...

Whatever Former President Ford's health might have been for the last few years of his life, it's now clear that he was mentally competent.

Late US ex-president Ford disagreed with Iraq war

Update: The Washington post has audio transcripts of that interview here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In Case You Forgot Her Christmas Gift...

Here's a little something courtesy of SNL.

District 30

Others were quicker to get this reported than I was, but my friend Kevin Gallagher has dropped out of the Senate District 30 race. Beverly Marrero and he would be drawing votes from the same pool of liberal voters, and could easily have allowed Robert Spence to get the Democratic nomination. As my friend Leftwing Cracker says, "Robert Spence's problems would kill our chances to keep this seat in Democratic hands". I've documented his ethical troubles here before, and a well-funded Republican campaign could do much worse damage than I did with a half hour and a search engine. If we pick Spence, we lose the seat. Plain and simple.

I would like to thank Kevin for making the decision Marrero wouldn't--- To stand down for the sake of the party and the state. It is that kind of wisdom that made me want to vote for him in the first place.

Now, I'm going to throw my support behind Beverly Marrero. And when she wins, I want to see Kevin Gallagher taking her place in District 89.

Kudos, Kevin. I'll leave my yard sign up a few more days in your honor.

Get Up (Get On Up)

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, passed away Christmas morning. I won't try to defend some of the personal choices he made--- His domestic abuse arrests are common knowledge.

Instead, I'll focus exclusively on the musical genius.

Here's a brief clip of him singing "Get Up Off of That Thing" at the Beale Street Music Festival:



This one is some kind of TV appearance where he sang "Sex Machine".




I don't know that there's ever been a performer with better stage presence. He was a genuine phenom.

And Then There Were Three...

Gerald Ford has passed away at age 93, leaving Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush as the only living American ex-presidents.

Ford made perhaps the hardest decision in the history of the American presidency--- The pardon of Richard Nixon for all crimes committed during the Watergate fiasco. Perhaps because of this, the nation never really got a chance to see just what kind of president Ford could have been--- He didn't remain in office long enough to make a real impact.

Goodbye, Mr. President.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Santa, Baby

The lovely, talented, and incredibly funny Pam is having trouble getting logged into her Blogger account, so I'm posting this on her behalf.

Performed by certain indicted elected officials at the last SCDP’s Christmas Party: *****

Santa baby, slip a bail bond the tree, for me
I've been an awful good Dem
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, an out-of-space Escalade too, like huge
I'll vote for that bill
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the bribes I've missed
Think of all the voters that I haven't pissed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you'd white out my indictment list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna get off and really that's
Not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To that lot on Lamar
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, don’t fill my stocking with wire taps, that sucks
Get the feds off my ass
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my attorney’s fees
With some influence bought on Capitol Hill
I really do believe in you
Let's see if the jury believes in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, the “sting”
Just make it all go away
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Open Letter to Mary Cheney

Miss Cheney,

I just wanted to congratulate you on your pregnancy. Despite the horrible things your father allows to be said about you and others like you, I’m sure you and your longtime partner will make excellent parents. Heather must be an extremely patient soul, and she must love you a great deal to stick around despite your old man.

Miss Cheney--- I can call you “Miss Cheney”, can I not? After all, wasn’t it your father that said gay marriage was an issue for states to decide? How inconvenient for you, Heather, and the baby that you carry that you happen to live in Virginia, one of the states that took his words to heart. As the rest of the nation went to the polls to tell your father and his friends that they didn’t approve of the way they do business, the voters in your state, in accordance with what your father said, went to the polls and said that the love between you, Heather, and your baby is something less than the love between a man and a woman.

The new law in Virginia says that not only can you and Heather not marry, but that she can’t become the adoptive parent of your child. Does Hallmark make a proper thank you card to send your father?

I understand you also have a home in Colorado--- I realize it means giving up the position at AOL, but I would highly recommend moving there. Your dad’s evangelist friends couldn’t get the job done there, so there’s still the possibility that you might be able to marry Heather.

Speaking of Heather--- You two have been a couple for a very long time. Fifteen years. That’s damn impressive. I truly respect that. Fifteen years is a long time for any couple these days--- Much less a couple dealing with the additional social pressures that no heterosexual couple would face.

It does lead to a question you might not want to answer, though--- Does your mother have Alzheimer’s?

I ask this because you seem to have been out of the closet for quite some time. Wikipedia has you listed as being one of the people that helped end the gay boycott of Coors Beer--- That boycott, according to my research, ended in 1995. By my math, you and Heather had been an item for four years by that point.

In addition, Bush/ Cheney 2000 used your homosexuality as a campaign issue when they were pretending to be “compassionate conservatives”. Yet that same year, your mother scolded Cokie Roberts for acknowledging that you were a lesbian, pretending that you had never come out of the closet. We got an encore of that performance in 2004 when both of your parents, at various points, pretended that John Kerry and John Edwards had “outed” you against your will.

Curious.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that unlike your father’s friends, progressives are in your corner. Not necessarily all Democrats--- I won’t pretend otherwise. But the truly progressive ones don’t feel that the government should be in the business of defining or restricting the relationship between two consenting adults.

Frankly, you, Heather, and the baby deserve to stand beside people that are proud to stand beside you. In light of that, if the baby is a girl, I would recommend naming her “Kerry”. If it’s a boy, I would recommend “Edward”.

Again, congratulations.

Yours truly,
The Freedonian

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Can Senate District 30 Afford Robert Spence?

A little over a month ago, voters made their voices heard all across this great nation. Their message was a resounding one--- Whether it was the single party rule out of Washington DC or the Ford brothers’ ignominious defeats, the resounding message of the day was “Throw the bums out”. Voters all across America stood in line at the polls to rid this nation of the “old boy” networks that have pillaged America.

So why on earth would the Shelby County Commission consider political suicide by helping just such an “old boy” network expand its influence?

One of the names they are currently considering appointing to the state senate seat being vacated by Congressman-Elect Steve Cohen is former City Attorney Robert Spence, who just picked up a petition to actually run for the seat.

Spence is hardly a stranger to the world of “old boy” politics. After serving a whopping eleven days longer than he needed to collect a city pension, he found a means of representing the City of Memphis that was far more lucrative than civil service--- He provided it with legal representation in private practice to the tune of $310,912.44 over the span of fifteen months.

Not bad work if you can get it. The city so cash strapped that the mere mention of raises for policemen sparks a battle the likes of which is rarely seen outside Fallujah somehow managed to find enough change in the sofa to toss a former City Attorney roughly $250,000 per year to do the same job that he was doing at $97,000 per year when he had a city office.

And that’s on top of his $33,500 per year pension.

Was his legal counsel worth it? Well… He’s the City Attorney that signed off on the FedEx Forum Parking Garage deal. That’s yet another $6.3 million that his “expert” legal counsel has cost this city.

Raises for policemen? Who can afford that? It’s much more important to allow Robert Spence to double dip out of city funds while providing us with advice that’s only slightly more valuable than that which can be gleaned from the average fortune cookie. At least the fortune cookie might say “You will be tempted to buy into a scam. Don’t fall for it.”

Of course, the city is hardly his only client. He’s also represented William Thomas in a civil suit against another billboard developer. If the name William Thomas sounds familiar, then you’ve probably read about the most recent corruption scandal involving Joe Cooper, Edmund Ford, and Rickey Peete.

He doesn’t just handle civil litigation--- Spence also represented Tom Jones, who pled guilty in May 2003 to stealing over $100,000 from Shelby County through fraudulent use of the credit card that he was issued for official use only. Clearly, Spence is the go-to guy when you need an attorney that plays “inside baseball”.

Spence is certainly no stranger to statewide “old boy” politics as well. According to the guidelines set out by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, any law firm seeking to do business with TELC had to have been in existence for three years.

Spence’s law firm came up slightly short. And when I say “slightly”, I mean “three years". Spence & Wade PLLC came into existence the very same day they were awarded the contract.

Inevitably, incumbents of any stripe have a leg up when running for office. It is simply the nature of American politics.

The Shelby County Commission has demonstrated that they are at least considering breaking with tradition and appointing an interim state senator that actually plans to run for the office.

The idea of Spence as an interim senator would be discomforting enough if he hadn’t picked up a petition to run in the special election--- The idea of the Shelby County Commission giving him a springboard to build momentum with is simply unthinkable. We are no longer content to play the game of “old boy” politics. Period.

It’s time to send a clear and concise message to your county commissioners--- They simply cannot become accomplices in the strengthening of another corrupt political machine. Senate District 30 cannot afford the representation of Robert Spence.

Contact your commissioner here. While you’re at it, contact the city’s best newspaper here, or contact the Commercial Appeal here .

***UPDATE***
This actually came in as a comment on this post, and it's well worth reading.

Let me give you some things that you may not know...

That fee he collects from the City - that was an open ended contract he drafted before he left where the City would pay him $300 per hour for continued legal services. This somehow was approved even after the mayor sought an opinion from another law firm.He was also the one who approved the contract with the architecture firm on the Cannon Center with only a $1 million coverage on a $25 million project. The result is the City got stuck with $16 million in cost over-runs.

***UPDATE 2***
Two more commenters have given us things that all of us should read about Spence.

The first is from the great Bob at 55-40:
Here is some more: While he was City Attorney he was working (with an out of town private firm) on formulating the secret strategy that the City and RDC planned to use to take control of the Riverfront by eminent domain (i.e. to overturn the Overton easement). He was also negotiating presumably "at arm's length" with the RDC on their proposed development agreement with the City. Then, when he left the City attorney's office, the RDC became one of his private clients. More: One of the positions he adamantly took as RDC's new counsel was that the RDC is not subject to the TN Open Meetings law. This, in spite of RDC's previous acknowledgements that it is subject to the companion Open Records law. (Rationalize that one.) So, you can be pretty sure that he is not friendly to open government. As for the "arm's length": His wife Dorchelle was, and still is, Director of Marketing at the RDC, making something in the vicinity of 100K plus benefits. If I recall correctly, before the RDC she used to work for the Mayor.

Another commenter chose to remain nameless:
Well since we are airing his dirty laundry, let me add what I know. After a quick search of chancery court records and civil suits, he is currently representing two individuals who are sueing the Memphis City School System. He also represents Clear Channel Outdoors, Adworks, and William Thomas, all billboard companies. One case in particular involving Clear Channel was just six months after he defended the City in lawsuit filed AGAINST the City by Clear Channel. Oh, and lets not forget about RACE mfg and his diligent effort to bring MORE radioactive material to the bluffs of the MS river. Ironic considering his involvment in the RDC.

And on the next episode of "Lifestyles of the Ethically Challenged"...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Make Sure You Clip This Coupon In Sunday's Paper



Whoever knew that bribing public officials could be as easy and cost effective as it is?

Right-wing lobbyists have to pay HUGE bucks for this kind of service. And you have the opportunity to influence law for what amounts to beer and pizza money.

People who actually lobby for legislation have to be feeling a little silly right now. I mean--- How long ago would the Living Wage have passed if every member of the coalition ponied up $20?

If you're wondering how I can be so flippant about this, it's really very simple--- I'm hardly even surprised.

I love being a Democrat, and I'm damn proud to hold to the ideals that the party claims to stand for.

But I'm damn angry that the electronic ankle bracelet is becoming something of a fashion accessory among the officials on a local level.

And it's not even that our officials are getting "offers they can't refuse". They sell us out, and they sell us out dirt cheap.

There are a lot of good public officials. A lot of true leaders. I'm hoping they'll help us bounce the rest of these bozos out of public life.

Monday, December 04, 2006

FREE EC DAY

MEMPHIS REGIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD

OFFERING FREE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION DEC. 6

“Free EC Day” Highlights Backup Birth Control Now Available
Without a Prescription — and at Planned Parenthood

MEMPHIS, TN—Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood is joining its sister Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country to offer free emergency contraception (EC) on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006.

"Every woman deserves every chance to prevent unintended pregnancy,” President Barry Chase said. “As a trusted health care provider, Planned Parenthood wants women and couples to know about emergency contraception and all their contraceptive options. We hope that Free EC Day will encourage people to think about preventing unintended pregnancy and to come to our health center on Dec. 6 to get EC, just in case.”

EC lowers the risk of pregnancy when started within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. The sooner EC is administered after unprotected intercourse, the better it works, making timely access critically important. Studies show that women do not use EC as a regular method of birth control.

Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood’s health center, at 1407 Union Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 6. No appointment is necessary.

“Planned Parenthood strongly recommends that women and couples back up their birth control,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President for Medical Affairs Dr. Vanessa Cullins said. “Keep emergency contraception in your medicine cabinet in case the condom breaks, you miss two or more birth control pills or have unprotected sex. The sooner you take EC after unprotected sex, the better it works.”

In August the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted over-the-counter status for Plan B emergency contraception for women 18 and older. Women of all ages can continue to get EC at Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood, where they can also talk with health care professionals. Research shows that over-the-counter access to emergency contraception does not increase or encourage sexual activity among teens.

###

Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood (MRPP), founded in 1938, is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. MRPP’s mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive and related health care through clinic services, education, advocacy and community partnerships in Memphis, Shelby and Crittenden counties, West Tennessee and North Mississippi. MRPP has a health center at 1407 Union Ave., Memphis, Tenn., with over 14,000 patient visits annually.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

30%

According to the Department of Justice, 30% of all female murder victims are killed by an "intimate". 18.4% are murdered by their husbands, with another 10.3 killed by a boyfriend. In an average year, there are 17,000 murders in the united States, which shakes out to roughly 4,879 women killed every year by domestic violence.

Think about that number. That's a 9/11 every year. The world changes forever when that many people are killed in a day. When we lose that many in a year, we shrug and go on with our lives as though nothing happened at all.

Perhaps it's a symptom of some personality defect of mine. Don't worry--- There are plenty more where this one comes from. Unless it's a Laci Peterson or an Ashley Scott, some beautiful, smiling murder victim that gnaws at your consciousness, it's all too easy to overlook the thousands of victims every year that remain nameless and faceless.

Then again, judging by media reactions, I don't think I'm the only one with this particular personality defect. If Ashley Scott wasn't attractive, the story would have been dead after her husband's arraignment. And how many women in our own city died from domestic abuse, forgotten, while Laci Peterson's smiling face is still a part of our consciousness? Even if someone does what I did--- Try like hell to avoid any and all news coverage of the Peterson case--- Who among us wouldn't recognize that head shot of her that ran in at least one media outlet a day for a year and a half straight?

We focus on these cases, singled out from the myriad of others, because they carry tremendous shock value. Who among us hasn't looked at a picture of Ashley Scott and thought "Who could hurt her?"

There are a lot of organizations out there with the goal of helping women escape their abusers. They deserve not only our admiration, but our support. They deserve it all the time--- Not just when there's a pretty face on the graphic superimposed behind the news anchor.

Follow this link. It takes you to a partial list (Partial only because many shelters for battered women do not give out the addresses of the shelters themselves--- A wise move) of shelters of all kinds. Some, such as Sophia's House, specialize in sheltering women that are fleeing abuse. Others focus on helping other homeless people, and they too are worthy causes.

Plan on one extra Christmas gift this year. Make a donation to one of these places. Ladies, you can help in a way we men can't--- If you have any clothing you're not wearing anymore, they can put it to good use--- Many women go there with nothing but what's on their backs.

There will never be an end to domestic violence. But we owe it to the women in our community and the children they raise to help organizations that provide the victims of it with an escape route.

UPDATE:

My good friend Sarah mentioned some other ways to help out. This is what she wrote:

Well put, Fredonian. In addition to money and clothes, most of these shelters need bed sheets, toiletries, toilet paper, towels: things that many of us throw out un-used or donate to Goodwill each year.

People can also help by donating unwanted cell phones to one of the many national programs that refurbishes these phones and provides them to women trying to get out of an abusive situation. A cell phone with no service provider will still call 911. There are many good programs that do this, but I know that The Body Shop has a strong program.

http://www.thebodyshop.com/bodyshop/global/content.jsp?page=cellphone

RIP, Dave Cockrum


I figure everyone else has done a comic-themed post... Why not?

I just wish mine was under happier circumstances.

If you've seen any of the X-Men movies, you've enjoyed his work without knowing it. In 1975, Dave Cockrum, along with writer Len Wein, revived and reinvented a failed Marvel Comics franchise from the 1960's called "X-Men". In doing so, he created a handful of characters that live on today in comic books and movies. Without his work, there might have been no Mystique, no Storm, no Nightcrawler, and no Colossus as featured in the recent X-Men trilogy.

He passed away after a long illness earlier today at age 63... Wearing a pair of Superman pajamas. A family friend told CNN that he made it clear that he wishes to be cremated while wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt.

The best quote from the article about his death on CNN:

Cockrum received no movie royalties, said family friend Clifford Meth, who organized efforts to help Cockrum and his family during his protracted medical care.

"Dave saw the movie and he cried -- not because he was bitter," Meth said. "He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Wal-Martyrs

This holiday season, it's important thatwe all do our part to strengthen American society by not supporting organizations that seem hellbent on destroying it---

Like Wal-Mart, the corporate giant that made $121.8 billion in profit last year, yet manages to pay employees so little and provide so little in the way of benefits that new hires are routinely coached on the ins and outs of applying for public assistance.

Remember the Tenncare cuts of 2005? That same year, Tennesseans paid over $44 million to cover the healthcare costs of 10,000 Wal-Mart employees and their 3,000 dependants--- Nearly a quarter of their Tennessee workforce of 41,000.

Sadly, that percentage of Wal-Mart employees not covered by their plans at work is actually relatively low--- Nationally, 46% of Wal-Mart employees aren't covered by the company plan, which provides spartan benefits for high premiums.

Don't even try to say that a company cannot be a responsible corporate citizen and manage to come out ahead--- CostCo manages to cover 80% of employees with a comprehensive health plan that employees can afford to pay the premiums on. Surely, Wal-Mart can manage to use the same purchasing clout they use with Chinese manufacturers, can they not?

And the worst part--- We subsidize it. The first thing that happens when Wal-Mart is looking to open a new store is they shop around for a massive tax abatement. Politicians eager to say "I brought 300 new jobs to town" sign on all too readily without ever taking note of how much those jobs actually cost the community. All too often, there's a wake of businesses closing whenever a new Wal-Mart opens, so the job "gains" are a break even at best--- Worse when one considers that the jobs disappearing with those businesses typically pay a better wage and carry benefit plans that aren't covered by taxpayers.

The problems they create carry into the future as well. A store manager asked a question on "Lee's Garage", a news site maintained by CEO Lee Scott, about retirement plans. Scott told him that if he wanted a company that would put money into a retirement plan, he should "look for another company where you can do those things".

And all of this is without even examining Wal-Mart's role in the sheer devastation of the manufacturing sector in this nation.

Corporate responsibility needs to be one of the priorities of the new Congress preparing to take office. When it's handled on a municipal or county level, Wal-Mart simply moves down the street to unincorporated areas and operates the same way. Handle it on a state level, and the company will simply close operations and move to a state more desperate and less willing to read the fine print.

It needs to be handled on a federal level, because there should be no place for Wal-Mart to retreat to.

But for now, the answer is even easier--- Just shop someplace else.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving in LA

No, not that LA. This past Thanksgiving’s weekend I got to visit the great State of Louisiana for the first time. The entire four days were a total immersion crash course in Creole-Cajun culture – but one that is only available to those brave enough to venture into the dark foggy back roads of Louisiana.

I cannot even begin to describe all the things I saw and experienced there, so I narrowed it down to my top 3 favorite moments on this trip:


1. THE ALL-IN- ONE GAS STATION

There is nothing like multitasking on your lunch break. In this place, you can fill-up, get a hot meal from the daily buffet, and your hunting license while at it. Although you cannot tell from the picture, this place is way more than a passing by gas station.

OH - way more.


This place has built-in casino inside, and the convenience store comfortably stocks all the liquor and beer you may ever need. The booze is readily available right next to machete-size knives, fishing baits, hunting paraphernalia and dead baby alligator heads.

Food, booze, hunting, and gambling - all-in-one! Add a small chapel to this compound (Can’t leave Jesus out of this one) and you have the perfect destination vacation for Cheney loving Republicans.






2. The Bayou – By you: THE DRIVE-THRU DAIQUIRI SHOPS

These little shops are everywhere, so they quickly became my favorite native feature (imagine that…) on this trip. Actually, we went thru one that was located next to what it seemed like the remains of a now defunct campaign headquarters. The candidate that occupied said location was a Republican woman running for Mayor. She lost.

Needless to say, upon getting our taste of Louisiana's finest , we wondered what would have happened if Cohen’s headquarters had been located next to one of these, instead of a TCBY… I will reserve my own speculations about this scenario, as we failed to reach a collective conclusion on whether this would have been, in fact, a good idea or not.

That conversation, however, killed about two hours of our endless road trip, and we came out with some interesting ideas of what we could have actually done if we had had one of these lovely establishments within walking or driving distance from the HQ. As you see in the pictures below, these drive-thru bars have quite a varied “menu” -my favorite item being the DWI. Want a tequila shot with that?


Had we had one of those around during this past election time, we would’ve added a couple of victory specials to honor the defeated in the 9th Congressional battle, such as the "SAL" – Sore Ass Loser in (dis)honor of Jake Ford, or the "Miami Vice" – for Harold Sr. We could have displaced Beale Street Wet Willie’s world famous “Call-a-Cab” for a “Call-me-Harold.” I am pretty sure that Isaac and T-bag could have benefited from the “Attitude Adjustment” listed above. What about a "Dirty Bribe" for John? The possibilities, as you can imagine, could have been endless.

I had a great time in this state, and I am looking forward to my next visit down there. Sadly, I realize now that no matter where I go, the Fords are still with me. And there is always something there to remind you...


3. THE LSU DEER:

First they shoot you. Then they mount you. Then they humiliate you. Talking about death with indignity!!

(Note to self: Don’t fuck with the locals).


Monday, November 20, 2006

See What You Miss If You Don't Use MySpace?

Sick, sick bastards.

Feeling Drafty?

New York Congressman Charles Rangel has revived discussion of a military draft.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," he said.

As happens so often, a congressman has the right idea for the wrong reason. Congressmen will still find a way to "work the system" and keep their kids out of Iraq. The real reason to support a draft is a simple one.

Right now, the decision between war and peace is one that only roughly one million families have a personal stake in. For the rest, war is an abstract notion that might affect their lives in one way or another, but they will not lose a family member because of it.

Establish a military draft, or better yet, establish mandatory military service based on the model used in Israel, and peace becomes a priority at every dinner table in America.

The best part of it is that Americans will be forced to become better educated on foreign policy than they are now. There are people out there that think we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are people out there that believe there were operational ties between Saddam Hussein, a despot that killed religious extremists, and the religious extremists of al Qaeda.

When every American family has a personal stake in the defense of this nation, people will demand accountability in our defense doctrine, something that hasn't happened since the draft was abolished in the first place. Who knows how long Vietnam might have continued had the American people not mobilized against the war?

It all leads to one thing that the White House does not want--- A personal stake in war and peace leads to a nation that is much more selective in whether or not they'll go to war. Risking the neighbor's son is one thing--- Risking your own is another altogether. And there would be a steep political price to pay for recklessly chosen wars that put America's sons in harm's way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Message from Liz Rincon

To All of Those Who Helped and Voted:

I would like to extend my greatest thanks to all of those in the 9th Congressional District that helped out and VOTED on E-Day. The Cohen Campaign was about a positive change for Memphis. That campaigns can be won on the grassroots level, though community involvement and volunteer recruitment.

Building “Leaders” in our campaign out of volunteers was one of my main priorities. I always believed that if you had a strong and positive message and made it about the voter and not about your “name” that people would want to be a part of your campaign, because they are motivated. The Cohen Campaign was the first of its kind in Memphis and I feel so lucky to have had a role in that.

People of the 9th District were ready for change. Things in our Country have been on the wrong path for so long, that the voters are ready for real leadership in their government. We saw this across the Country on November 7!!! Now is the time to govern and to govern well. I believe that it will take time, yet, if the voters keep their Elected Officials accountable, then this Democracy will be better for it.

So, once again, I say thank you to those who helped out on the campaign and to those who showed up at the polls. To those who were unable to vote, either because they were not of age, did not live in the district or were not yet a citizen, you turned out people to be your voice. Thank you. To those who came in the heat, the rain, and the cold to knock on doors, so that we could make it about the voter, I say thank you. To those who held people accountable when they were not speaking the truth about Congressman-Elect Cohen, I say thank you. And to every person who exercised his or her voice on Election Day, no matter who you voted for, I say THANK YOU!

Sincerely,

Liz Rincon
Field Director
Congressman-Elect Cohen (TN-9)

Hoyer Elected Majority Leader

It's not exactly the worst thing that could have happened. Although Hoyer is certainly of the corporatist wing of the party that I tend to distrust, he likely would have been my choice had I been given one.

I hate political corruption. I loathe it with every fiber of my being. Operation Tennessee Waltz was an enema hose that blasted a handful of corrupt lawmakers out of Nashville.

So as much as I like Jack Murtha's stance on the war in Iraq, I'm always troubled by his involvement in ABSCAM.

It's certainly true that he declined the bribe money he was offered. But it's also sadly true that he said "not at this time", and implied that the store might be open for business if they "do business for a while". He also violated House ethics rules by declining to report that he'd been offered a bribe.

Senator Larry Pressler walked into the same setup, turned down the money more decisively than Murtha did, and did the right thing by reporting the bribe offer to the FBI. Why could Murtha not do the same thing?

There was no single reason the American public voted to give us a majority in both houses of Congress. Iraq war fatigue, an unchecked president that could only charitably be described as a "boob", and gay baiting Republicans playing grabass with one another were certainly all factors.

But one of the biggest reasons is the overall culture of corruption that the Republicans carried with them. The overpowering aroma of filth that stained Congress when the likes of Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and paymaster Jack Abramoff walked its halls.

Jack Murtha, to a lesser degree, carries that aroma with him. Caesar's wife must be beyond reproach.

Also, frankly, Hoyer votes the right way and does so consistently. Look at the compilation of his votes put together by the Washington Post. When I did, I suddenly became jealous of the people of Maryland's 5th District--- Their congressman votes like I wish the outgoing congressman from the Tennessee 9th did. When wiretapping was on the agenda, he voted for the Democratic amendments. When the amendments failed, he voted against the bill like every Democrat should have. That's the way business should be conducted on Capitol Hill. The amendments shouldn't be empty threats. They should be interpreted as "If you don't approve this change, I can't support your bill".

Hoyer's voting record isn't perfect. He voted for the Bankruptcy Reform Act. Then again, so did Jack Murtha.

But I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The March of the Lame Ducks

President Bush has made it clear that his immediate agenda is to push through two of his nominees before the keys to Capitol Hill are handed over to the new Democratic majority.

John Bolton was recess appointed as UN Ambassador in August 2005 after having been filibustered in March of that year. And Robert Gates is the new nominee to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the disastrous Iraq strategy that can only be loosely defined as a “plan”. And like any other architect, he can take pride in having designed and built something that will last for a very long time.

The Lame Duck Senate must filibuster them both.

Bolton is still the same disaster that he was when he was first nominated to the position. He’s still the same man that tried to have CIA analysts fired for telling him that the facts clashed with his ideological fervor over whether Cuba was transferring weapons to rogue states or not. He’s still the same man that said the UN building could lose ten stories and not notice a difference. And perhaps most damning of all, he’s still the same man that couldn’t tell the truth in his confirmation hearings when he was asked whether or not he had been questioned in any investigations, and he’s still the same man that was questioned in the Valerie Plame case. In other words, he’s still the same pathetic excuse for a nominee he was then.

Robert Gates is a different story--- But the same story all at the same time. He was questioned so heavily in Iran-Contra that he actually earned his own chapter in Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh’s report. The conclusion: “Independent Counsel found insufficient evidence to warrant charging Robert Gates with a crime for his role in the Iran/contra affair. Like those of many other Iran/contra figures, the statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless, given the complex nature of the activities and Gates's apparent lack of direct participation, a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.”

Apparently, that’s the new standard for cabinet positions--- There was a “reasonable doubt” that he helped cover for an operation that supplied arms to 1/3 of the “Axis of Evil” so they could fund a rightwing rebel group in South America that thought of political assassination, the rape and murder of civilians, and crop tampering to starve the populace as “good strategy”.

But on one level, you can certainly understand why George W. Bush would think he was a perfect fit in this administration--- One criticism of Gates is that in the waning days of the Cold War, he was constantly skewing intelligence to make the Soviet Union and Cuba sound stronger and more menacing than they actually were. The team that skewed intelligence to create WMD and operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda would likely see that as a good thing to have on a resume.

And here’s the beautiful thing about filibustering them both--- These two miserable nominees can be blocked without political consequence. Are the Republicans going to trigger the “Nuclear Option”, thus getting rid of the filibuster two months before giving up their own majority?

The Senate was Democratic for the first two years of George W. Bush’s first term, but the Tom Daschle Senate wasn’t exactly known for holding Bush’s nose to the grindstone. Six years after our first glimpse at his idea of bipartisanship, there’s a new paradigm in Washington. And for once, it gives the American people a chance at a more responsive cabinet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Volunteering for Jury Duty...

... at least when they bring this bastard to trial. I would like to play a part, however meager, in burying this bastard under the jail.

Every year, I wait eagerly for the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report--- It's one of the few things that has actually improved with this White House. Since becoming Secretary of State, Condi Rice and Undersecretary Paula Dobrianski have really stepped up their game with the TIP report. Due to a disorder that I call Election Season Cranial Rectitis, I have yet to read the 2006 report, but 2005 was the most comprehensive I've ever seen. It allowed neither friend nor foe to slide for their complicity in the new human slave trade. I can't recommend enough that you read the report and come face to face with man's inhumanity to man. It truly takes you inside the world of women lured out of the former Soviet Bloc with "waitressing" jobs that turn out to be forced prostitution far from their homes where the women are used up, infected with HIV, and quite often, killed. Not a happy place to be, but reading these stories makes you gaze upon the world with slightly different eyes.

The reason I say all this is that I visited the website of this city's second best newspaper and saw this story about a Mexican girl forced into prostitution at the ripe old age of thirteen:

...After two weeks in Nashville, Perfecto told Karime she was a prostitute, that there was no restaurant job, and that the young girl would also be working as a prostitute.

Authorities said Mendez raped the girl and told her that if she did not work as a prostitute he would kill her family.


Two weeks later, she was taken to work in a brothel in Kentucky, where on her first day she was forced to have sex with 14 customers.

Mendez also took her to work at brothels in Knoxville, Birmingham, Memphis and other locations where she was forced to have sex with as many as 40 men a day, according to the affidavit...

Click the link and read the story. It's simply sickening. Hopefully, our new congress can be counted upon to do something major regarding human trafficking.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sad News...

Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes died of leukemia today.

The Empire Strikes Out

In 1996, the people of the Ninth District had every reason to be optimistic. A scandal-ridden but responsive congressman was leaving office. The choices in the primary to replace him both seemed like decent enough choices--- A State Senator named Steve Cohen and the congressman’s own son, Harold Ford Jr.

He looked like his father and spoke like him to a certain degree--- One could look at him and imagine him keeping his nose clean. There was nothing there to imply that he would be the lightning rod for controversy that his father had been.

Voters were given the choice between Ford and Cohen, and they chose Ford.

The seat Cohen and Ford were vying for was a real prize--- One of the safest seats in the nation for a Democratic politician. The winner of the Democratic primary in that seat is always safe to go ahead and pick out office furniture for DC--- They’re going.

That creates the kind of environment where a Democrat can really be a Democrat. A Democrat can be as liberal as Paul Wellstone, Nancy Pelosi, or Ted Kennedy and write his or her own ticket. Harold Ford Sr. had proven that.

We expected that out of his son as well. His first few terms were fairly unspectacular. He did little in the way of sponsoring legislation, and never exactly set the world on fire with his committee assignments. He wasn’t terribly effective, but he could be counted on with his floor votes. And that was enough.

But there was a change. In 2002, his ambition grew beyond the safe confines of the Ninth District. He was asked to stand down and run in 2006.

He had a choice to make. He could spend his time fighting for progressive causes, building and expanding the Democratic base in this city. Or he could shift to the right and pander to the very people that wished to destroy him.

Unfortunately, he chose the latter. He didn’t learn the lessons of the 2002 midterm election. That year, many Democrats made the same choice Harold Jr. made, and with devastating results. To paraphrase Harry S. Truman, the voters were given the choice of real Republicans and fake Republicans--- And they chose the genuine item.

And so he set about reinventing himself. The safe moderate that voted with Democrats more often than not simply ceased to exist. He had been replaced by a congressman that voted the Republican agenda more often than some Republicans.

In stark contrast with his father, an imperfect man who had his finger on the pulse of the community, Harold Ford Jr. was a relative stranger to his district. And perhaps no vote personified that disconnect than his vote on the Bankruptcy Reform Act, a Draconian piece of legislation tantamount to an epic love poem to the banking industry. Harold Ford Jr. represented the bankruptcy capital of America, yet it never occurred to him that he might be selling his constituents short.

That was far from the apex--- It was merely the opening act. The Congressman who missed a crucial budget vote to attend Jimmy Naifeh’s “Coon Supper” managed to fly cross country to vote with the Republicans on the somewhat living taxidermy experiment known as Terri Schiavo.

And it only got worse from there. Flag burning, tax breaks for the oil industry, and more recently, greenlighting domestic surveillance and allowing the president to have the final say on what is considered torture and what is not. It became difficult to stand to the right of Harold Ford Jr. and remain on the planet earth.

Progressive voters, myself included, stood prepared to “clothespin vote” for Harold Ford Jr. simply to have a Democratic majority in the Senate. But then he stepped it up a notch.

Okay, more like two notches.

He decided that the only way to make himself sound good was to insult the rest of us. According to him, we were “jumping on him” not because of his votes, but because he “goes to church a lot and loves Jesus”. Whether it was the idea of Democrats being weak on defense, the idea that filibustering Supreme Court nominees was a bad thing to do, or any other piece of right wing dogma--- Harold Ford Jr. was there to help the Republican Party sell it. Tennessee Republicans put Amendment 1 on the ballot as a means of destroying his candidacy. Supporting Amendment 1 wasn’t enough for him--- When a state as removed from his district as New Jersey dared to legalize same sex marriage, he went out of his way to issue a press release condemning it.

It wasn’t just Democratic ideals that came under attack from Ford. He criticized Howard Dean (Ironically, considering that his 50 State Strategy helped Ford by expanding the progressive base, something Ford couldn’t be bothered to do for himself) and recently demanded an apology from John Kerry for his badly fumbled joke that was intended to be aimed at George W. Bush.

Even as Bush’s approval ratings dipped into Nixonian levels, Ford lacked the political will to step away from him on most issues.

Another Democrat that found himself under fire from Harold Ford Jr. was his old primary opponent and the Democratic nominee to replace him in the Ninth District, Steve Cohen. Ford’s absurdly underqualified younger brother Jake had filed to run as an independent. Harold Jr. remained neutral for the first leg of the race, leaving the attacks to Jake, Isaac, and his father.

In the last few weeks of the campaign, Harold Jr. joined in on the attacks as well, lying outright about Cohen’s stances on gay marriage and drug legalization to try and help his brother take down the Democratic nominee.

And the Saturday before the election, he found a way to disrupt a Cohen rally without making another “Memphis Meltdown” mistake. The Cohen campaign made the effort to do right by the Democratic nominees--- They went to Ford’s office and asked for signs to display at their rally next to the signs of the other Democratic candidates throughout the state. Instead of graciously accepting their help (Which could have gone a long way toward salving the wounds Ford and progressives inflict on one another), the Ford campaign asked them to leave, then hastily scheduled a press conference at the same time as the Cohen rally to draw the media away.

There are two nationwide media narratives regarding election night. One is that Democrats won because they’re more conservative now. The other is that white Tennessee rednecks simply refused to vote for a black man.

The first is preposterous. If Democrats were winning because they were conservative, Harold Ford Jr. would have been able to ride that wave into a Senate seat.

The second has more validity, but only a little. There are white voters out there that will not vote for a black candidate if they’re offered a white alternative, just as there are black voters that will not vote for a white if they’re given a black alternative (Jake Ford didn’t get 21% based on his fitness to hold office).

But those voters are a minority. Not a single one of the progressives that refused to back Harold Ford Jr. did so because of his skin color. One and all, progressives looked for an excuse to back Harold Ford Jr. and simply came up empty. He embraced conservative ideology and conservative rhetoric every chance he was given, and constantly used the power of his office to undermine and belittle the people that worked their fingers to the bone to send him to Washington year after year. Plus, 48% of the voters in this state wanted to send him to the Senate--- A state with a white population of almost 81%.

"Blame whitey" is an excuse-- Not a reason.

Not once in ten long years did Harold Ford Jr. lift a finger to advance the Democratic agenda, nor did he ever make any serious effort to help any other Democratic candidates. Voters respect people that take stands--- He never took them. Had he done so, he could have expanded the Democratic base, which not only would have given him his seat in the Senate, but would have made it as safe for him as the Ninth District was for his father. Because in doing so, he wouldn’t have just been helping himself--- He passed up the chance to help the party down ticket, which would have allowed Democrats to swipe the one worthwhile play out of the Republican playbook--- Grab power by a slight margin and redistrict to expand it.

For this, and for many, many other reasons, no Democrat should shed any tears for the utter destruction of the Ford Machine (And make no mistake, it is destroyed. They can’t build a coalition around Ophelia). When the leaders of tomorrow (Hopefully including Joe Ford Jr., Tyson Pratcher, Lee Harris, among others) fight their way up the ladder, they will be allowed to ascend without a Ford-shaped footprint on their foreheads.

Throw the GOP Down the Well

Posted on behalf of the lovely Pam, who is having problems with Blogger today.

To the tune of Borat's "Throw the Jew Down the Well":

In my country there is problem,
And that problem is the GOP.
It took very very long,
Because the country is dumb.

Throw the GOP down the well,
So my country can be free.
We must make voting easy,
Then we have a big party!

In my country there is problem,
And that problem is the GOP.
They take everybody's money,
They never give it back.

Throw the GOP down the well,
So my country can be free.
You must grab them by their horns,
Then we have a big party.

If you see a GOPper coming,
You must be careful of their Prez
You must grab him by his money,
And I tell you what to do...

Everybody!

Throw the GOP down the well
So my country can be free
You must grab them by their horns
Then we have big party

Throw the GOP down the well
So my country can be free
You must grab them by their horns
Then we have big (victory) party!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

House of Blues (and the Senate too!)

To quote my favorite fictional democrat:

"Victory is mine, victory is mine, great day in the morning people, victory is mine.... I drink from the keg of glory... bring me the finest muffins and bagels in the land!"

--Josh Lyman

That pretty much sums it up for all Dems.

PS: CONGRATULATIONS CONGRESSMAN COHEN!!!

Election '06--- The End of an Era

You love this town
Even if that doesn't ring true
You've been all over
And it's been all over you

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day


America awoke today to a drastically changed political landscape, with only a victory party hangover to prove that it wasn’t just some beautiful dream.

Not a single Democratic member of the House of Representatives that was running for reelection lost--- An astounding feat any day, but even more amazing when one considers that Georgia, as red a state as you can find, radically gerrymandered two districts to force Democrats out and still managed to lose. Those seats are still in play as of this writing, but we’re looking strong.

And of course, the victory is all the sweeter for Memphis progressives. After a decade of frustrating representation by a congressman that shared few, if any of our values, we were finally rewarded with Steve Cohen’s magnificent victory, giving us the champion that we’ve been starving for.

We have a new Speaker of the House--- A five time grandmother named Nancy Pelosi, who will preside over a damn good Democratic majority.

And speaking of Democratic majorities… By the time the smoke clears, I fully expect to have a slim majority in the United States Senate.

Best of all, we managed to pull it off without giving Harold Ford a bigger stage to browbeat his “fellow” Democrats from.

Days like today are well worth the hangover.

Thanks.

First, I would like to thank Harold Ford. His arrogance in leaving the safest Democratic seat in the nation to chase after a Senate seat that only he thought he had much of a crack at (Were Bob Corker not a blundering idiot, this race wouldn't have been close) opened the door for us to send Steve Cohen to Capitol Hill.

Thank you Steve Cohen, for giving the people of this district someone great to vote for. The Ninth District has someone it can be proud of--- Something we haven't had since Harold Ford Sr.

Thank you, Jake Ford--- Your sheer stupidity made this race more interesting than it should have been.

Thank you to people that I am proud to call my friends--- The Memphis bloggers. I swear to God, I know of no area that has its poop in a group like the local blogosphere here--- This is the Murderers' Row of blogospheres. I'm proud that Pam and I have been admitted to the club. Pesky Fly, Autoegocrat, Kibitzer, Jeff, Christian Progressive Liberal, Leftwing Cracker, David Holt, Polar Donkey, Brad Watkins, Nutmeg, Desi Franklin, Wintermute, Memphis Blue, Space Ninja, Joe Ford Jr., Brassmask, Jim Maynard, Bob, Sarah, and of course, my lovely blogging partner Pam--- What a team.

And a big thank you to some other friends of mine--- Kevin Gallagher, Liz Rincon, Dabney, Savannah, Daniel, William, Fabulous William, Jeremy, Crystal, Brittany, and the rest of Team Cohen for working their asses off to give us a big victory last night.

Ever Had the ATM Give You Too Many $20 Bills?

Me either.

So why is it that the ATMs and the voting machines are made by the same company, yet the voting machines never seem to work right?

Because of one glitch after another, the last Montana voter didn't get into the booth until 11:55 PM last night, delaying the second part of our victory party until tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In My District There Is Problem... (Sorry, Borat)

In the Ninth District, we saw what was probably the single most absurd excuse for a primary that I've ever seen. Half of the candidates in that miserably weak field could have their entire platforms summed up by Borat's "Throw the Jew Down the Well".

But that was only the appetizer. Nothing could have prepared me for the Ford Crime Family.

We have a rare opportunity to vanquish them tomorrow. Shuffle them loose this political coil, if you will. And despite being a hardcore Democrat--- Or perhaps more accurately, because I'm a hardcore Democrat, I stand prepared to dance a two-step (Or maybe a Tennessee Waltz) on their political graves.

I tolerated Harold Ford's rightwing voting record. I would dispute the notion that a clear stand against torture is some radical leftwing notion, as is the idea that I should be able to order a pizza without the NSA knowing which toppings I like (Double pepperoni, to save all interested parties the trouble).

But it's his congenital urge to attack my beliefs and the candidates that I back that I simply can no longer abide.

Steve Cohen's campaign had a rally planned for weeks. Most members of Bloggers' Row announced it somewhere on their sites.

Cohen's campaign has this funny little habit--- They like to do the right thing because it's the right thing. So they ignored the fact that Harold Ford Jr. is a feckless worm that lacks the testicular fortitude to support his own party--- They said "He's a Democrat. So are we. We want his signs at our rally to support the ticket."

Not only were they not given signs--- They were told to leave Harold Ford Jr's headquarters. A headquarters that is not funded out of the deep Ford pockets (Isn't it amusing that they're trying to dog Corker for being rich?), but by Democratic donors that fork over their hard earned money in an attempt to gain back Congress.

Did you see the massive amounts of media coverage of the Cohen rally this weekend? I guess not. See, Harold Ford actually had nothing new to say, but decided to book an impromptu press conference for the same time.

He attacks our candidates. And he attacks our values. And not just in the cause of getting GED Jake elected--- But he's apparently decided that the only way to make himself sound better is to make every Democrat sound bad.

"I get jumped on by my party a little bit because I go to church a lot and I love Jesus." As opposed to the rest of us, who are clearly heathens in the eyes of Harold Ford and his GOP buddies.

"[I get] in trouble with my party because I believe a government is only as good as its ability to defend itself and protect itself." Nice talking point--- If you're a Republican trying to cover for the whole "WMD" fiasco.

I cannot urge people strongly enough--- This has to end. How much are we supposed to tolerate?

If we elected him to the US Senate, how many seats would we end up losing because of his Democrat-bashing addiction? Are we supposed to stand idly by as he sells out the leaders that actually represent our principles by joining with the right and marginalizing them?

I implore the voters of this state--- Vote for yourself. Vote for Ronald McDonald. Vote for a mangy, three-legged cocker spaniel named Colin for all I care.

Corker doesn't deserve your vote. Neither does Ford. And I'll be damned if I'll recommend some stoner with a neckbeard just because the other two are so pathetic.

I would leave the damn chair empty before sending any of those three buffoons to fill it.

Throw the Fords down the well...
So my district can be free...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Speak For “The Left” When I Say… We Hate You Too.

Kleinheider over at Volunteer Voters linked to an op-ed written by Paul Burgess, former head of foreign policy speechwriting at the Bush White House called “Friends, neighbors, and countrymen of the left: I hate your lying guts. With a title like that, you can imagine how he became head speechwriter for a silver-tongued devil like George W. Bush.

In the original piece, he rails not only against obvious targets such as Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover (Because, you know, millions are prepared to mobilize when those guys speak), but Cindy Sheehan and Ted Turner, who he describes as being unable to “make up his mind which side of the terror war he is on”.

His position on Democratic politics: I now hate Howard Dean, the elected leader of the Democrats, who, by repeatedly stating his conviction that we won't win in Iraq, bets his party's future on our nation's defeat.

I hate the Democrats who, in support of this strategy, spout lie after lie: that the president knew in advance there were no WMD in Iraq; that he lied to Congress to gain its support for military action; that he pushed for the democratization of Iraq only after the failure to find WMD; that he was a unilateralist and that the coalition was a fraud; that he shunned diplomacy in favor of war.

These lies, contradicted by reports, commissions, speeches, and public records, are too preposterous to mock, but too pervasive to rebut, especially when ignored by abetting media.


Okay, I’ve let this silly bastard ramble long enough. Time for a response.

Mr. Burgess,

The White House you served hires only two kinds of people. Rabid, frothing ideologues and Colin Powell. So the idea that you harbored no hostility to the American Left before you got the job is absurd on its face--- One of the job requirements for this White House is the willingness to slander and smear all who disagree with you.

You bring up Harry Belafonte, Ward Churchill, and other people that have the gall to make statements you disagree with. Tell me--- How many people were sent to their deaths when Churchill made his “Little Eichmanns” comment? I don’t agree with what he said, but it’s beside the point--- As usual, someone that at one time represented this White House is trying to turn the rhetoric in America around and making the debate about what someone else said rather than try and defend the indefensible things said by this White House.

Among the absurd lies you point to is one that the president was the mastermind behind 9/11. I wanted to take this opportunity to put your mind at rest--- Who would believe after seeing this White House in action that it’s even conceivable that the president could even come up with a plan that would work? With the exception of United Flight 93, the 9/11 plot went down without a hitch, so it’s not really credible that anyone in the White House had anything to do with it. If they had, none of the hijackers would have actually made it onto the planes.

Along the way, you managed to insult Cindy Sheehan yet again. It is my sincerest hope that all parents of children about to turn eighteen will take note of the utter disregard shown to parents whose sons have bled the Iraqi desert red. The lady deserves answers, plain and simple. The fact that your old boss lacks the fortitude to give them to her has no bearing on whether or not she deserves them.

The fact is that all of us deserve them. Even those of us without children fighting in Iraq deserve to know what the president knew and when he knew it. When last I checked, my taxes still pay for this war, not to mention the share of my taxes that go toward helping tried and true friends of this White House such as Halliburton plunder the funds that are supposed to help rebuild Iraq and bring our troops home. The “hot meals” provided to our soldiers in the Halliburton ads have actually consisted of cold sandwiches and water contaminated with E. Coli--- Yet it’s the American Left that you accuse of disregard for the American soldier.
This is a direct quote from your article: I hate the Democrats who, in support of this strategy, spout lie after lie… …that he pushed for the democratization of Iraq only after the failure to find WMD...

Funny you should say that. If you click here, you’ll see an article from the March 17, 2003 edition of USA Today with the headline “U.S. advises weapons inspectors to leave Iraq”. Perhaps I’m a little fuzzy on logistics--- Did he advise them to leave a place they hadn’t been to?

Of course not. They had been on the ground for months by that point. The only banned weapons they had found were the Al Sammoud missiles, which theoretically carried enough fuel to exceed the UN-mandated guidelines by a whopping ten kilometers. They were destroyed without ever endangering a life. After that, the president said the inspections weren’t working because they found nothing to back up the “pie in the sky” allegations he’d been making for eighteen months by that point. He eschewed verifiable fact for bare ideology. To date, over 2800 Americans have died (I notice you parsed even that number by indicating combat deaths only. Tell me--- Would a helicopter crashing in Iraq still crash in Iraq if we weren’t there? Quit insulting those servicemen by trying to lowball the real numbers!) because, viewed charitably, he chose to ignore every piece of evidence that Iraq had no WMD in favor of baseless allegations that supported the policy he wanted to put into effect. And that’s simply inexcusable.

Also from your article: … Most detestable are the lies these rogues craft to turn grief into votes by convincing the families of our war dead that their loved ones died in vain…. Firemen sometimes die in burning buildings looking for victims who are not there. Their deaths are not in vain, either.

Funny you should use that example--- I’ve used it many times myself. If a witness on the scene tells the firemen that he knows for a fact that those people are in there and they’re not, that witness gets charged for manslaughter. Do you really wish to have that rigorous standard applied to your old boss?

An American soldier takes an oath to defend his nation. But the president has a responsibility to accurately and soberly assess those threats, and to never take the lives of American servicemen and women lightly. This president did not do that. You were not a part of the original drive for war, but you were a part in the denial that went on for two years after its ill-conceived beginning.

So here’s a bold idea--- Make a list of all the people that died on the say so of Ward Churchill, Harry Belafonte, Ted Turner, and Howard Dean (Who, if you’ll recall, was the only candidate for the Democratic 2004 nomination to speak out against the war from the beginning). I’ll make a list of all the people that died because they believed in the White House.

They perished because he spent a year and a half implying that there was a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. They perished because he delivered a State of the Union Address in 2003 that doubled, sometimes even tripled the production numbers of various chemical and biological weapons to make it sound like Iraq had more than the UN confirmed the destruction of, not to even mention the inclusion of “sixteen words” that the White House knew were not true by that point (The CIA had insisted they be taken out of an October 2002 speech, yet with no additional corroboration, they made it into the January 2003 State of the Union).

To revisit the fireman analogy, these firemen rushed into the burning building not because the president said he thought there were people in there--- He said he knew for a fact that they were in there.

You know this. You’ve attempted to tar others so that no one notices your own part in the perpetuation of the false claims that led to this war. It’s not working.
I hate you too. Your hatred of me is leading you to the polls to vote a straight ticket for the party that created a fictional casus belli for war, refuses to even consider a way to end it, and slanders all who disagree with it. Along the way, they’ve managed to find time to cover up for someone who preys on children and leave people dying on their rooftops in Louisiana.

All in all, I’ll take my chances with Howard Dean.

I hate you too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Hearty Welcome...

... to a recent and welcome addition to Memphis Bloggers' Row---

Nutmeg has made her first post at David Holt's site, and all I can say is that it's about damn time she makes her voice heard. I've had the pleasure of knowing this smart lady since the 2004 Kerry campaign, and now you get to know her too.

Cohen Rally--- Be There!

Date: Saturday, November 4, 2006

Time: 4:00pm

Location: Cohen Headquarters
1803 Union Avenue


Bring home-made signs that express Democratic Unity and Victory!

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Class Ac”T”

In my rush to adequately convey the absolute absence of political gravitas in the Jake Ford campaign and the thuggish Napoleon complex exhibited by his brother Isaac, I’ve overlooked a valued member of Team Ford--- T.

I can’t bring myself to follow the lead of Joe Ford Jr. and refer to him as “Mr. T”, for I have far too many fond memories of Clubber Lang and B.A. Baracus. But I’m sure I’ll come up with something else to call him.

The first time I saw T-Cup was at the League of Women Voters forum (Make sure you call it a forum, not a debate, lest you’ll anger Darth Isaac). He was arguing angrily with an older white Cohen supporter. I didn’t get to see who raised their voices first, so I didn’t write about that.

The next time was at the South Main Association debate that Jake obviously didn’t want to show up for. When I spoke to him on the phone regarding the event, he gave me excuses that frankly were undone by simply reading the press release and making some phone calls. Instead, he sat on stage all night with a sullen expression on his face, then tried to pick a fight with Jackson Baker. After the famous “Hot Dog” incident, after Jake walked backwards to his vehicle with arms outstretched like some absurd professional wrestler, T-Bag remained behind to escort another member of the entourage out. I looked over, saw him, and said hello.

“I ain’t talking to you,” he said angrily.

“Okay,” I said before shrugging and going back to my conversation. A minute or so later, I turned back to T-Ball, and he was still glaring at me.

“I ain’t talking to you,” he said again.

“Yeah. I get that,” I said, wondering if he understood the irony of talking to me multiple times to tell me he’s not talking to me.

“I ain’t talking to you, because you’ve got your device for your internet site,” he said, pointing at the recorder sitting in full view in my shirt pocket. He had no doubt heard my recording of Isaac Ford coming off like something less than the political operative he would like us to see him as. He continued to glare until the older lady he was escorting came outside.

I can see why she needed protection--- What, with Jake running around and all. So kudos to T-Leaf for walking her out.

When I arrived at the debate Saturday night, there was a lady sitting outside with a sign. I paused to read it--- It was a question about reparations that she wanted the candidates to answer, as well as one about a bill to teach African-American studies in school that has been stalled since 1979. I wished her luck, and said I hope she got her answers.

I wasn’t there when Cohen came out of the debate, so I didn’t get to see how he responded. When Mark White came out, he was certainly kind to her--- I’m not sure how substantively he addressed her questions, as his answers to everything consist of 1) “This is why I’m running” 2) “You know, I manage a payroll of ninety employees” and 3) “I think it’s time we send a businessman to Washington”. If it cannot be answered by one of those statements, it doesn’t get answered. I almost wonder if he gives the same answer when a waitress asks him what he wants to eat.

If Jake spoke to her at all, I missed it (And he very well might have). But I did see T-Minus talking to her. He had his back up, getting in her face just like he did the older white man at the League of Women Voters Forum.

At this point, I’m hard pressed to think of a campaign staff less effective than the Axis of Duh. And I don’t say that lightly, either. I’ve seen some bumbling buffoons in my day, but never have I seen the kind of open and blatant hostility that these three display every chance they get.

The way Isaac talked to me after the LWV forum is a mistake that no political operative with room temperature IQ would make. Even if I hadn’t recorded it, I still would have written what an ass he was. The recording simply meant he had no way to deny it. Part of being on a campaign is knowing that when you’re in public, you are representing the campaign. I know operatives that won’t even order a beer without removing campaign paraphernalia first--- And that’s a damn smart policy.

The way Jake Ford acted after the downtown debate is inexcusable for a candidate for any office--- Much less the US Congress. Jake even acknowledged that any spitting incident was accidental--- His words were “Didn’t your mama teach you how to eat?” He was trying to antagonize the press so he could play himself up as a victim of the press, so he took something that most of us overlook every time we eat while standing close to someone and made a huge deal out of it. Instead of an aggrieved candidate, he looked like a spoiled, petulant child.

And T-Kettle boils over every time he’s let out of the house unmedicated. His entire existence seems to be measured only in varying degrees of anger. He’s the omnipresent, mostly silent sidekick, like some deranged version of Oddjob from the James Bond movies. If he’s coming to your political event, make damn sure all knives and forks are plastic.

On second thought, just play it safe and serve finger food.

A few days from now, the Jake Ford camp will be sitting around wondering where they went wrong. Not Harold Sr--- He’ll know exactly where they went wrong. At the end of the day, you simply cannot send Isaac and T-Pot out to threaten every voter.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Get Around...

Gotta love the combination of Volunteer Voters and YouTube. My recording of Isaac Ford has now been made into an ad...

Another Day, Another Meltdown

Just when you think that the Ford campaign staff can't get any more incompetent...

(Nashville) - Just days after Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-Memphis) was caught on camera during his Memphis Meltdown, Ford senior staffers were caught on tape using profanity and aggressively manhandling a young Republican staffer – all while Congressman Ford stood by watching idly.



From Garrigan via Volunteer Voters.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Early Screw-up

And just when you think that Jake has gotten his congressional act together (well, not that any of us actually thought that he would get his act together --ever-- but that aside…) he has done it again. So what is it this time?

He did not file his FEC financial disclosure. Just didn’t. Oops! So now the FEC is after him, and let me tell you, the IRS has nothing on the FEC when they are going after the money...

Isn’t it ironic? From all the areas in the campaign that you could have screwed up on, this one was definitively not one that Jake could afford. He should’ve been especially careful in keeping his financial records clean and accurate, especially in light of the fact that so many members of his family have been in trouble with the law over financial irregularities.

Not good. Not good at all.

I wonder if they are having trouble cooking the books to make it appear as if Jr.’s resources haven’t played a part in his campaign… but that of course, is just speculation (or is it not?) Maybe, Mr. T wasn’t as good with math as they though he was. I wonder if someone inside the campaign is standing alone in the corner, thinking: “Gee, maybe we should have hired that guy with the college degree for that job…” I’m almost certain that many are crying bloody-mary that the government is coming after them because he is a Ford, and that this is an ambush to take them down forever, bla, bla, bla. Surely, you have heard this tune before…

So many possible scenarios, so little time to run them all in this post. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

I am tired of making a point about how incidents such as this are further proof that Jake Ford is unqualified for this position because, at his point, is redundant. Jake is not ready to sit at the grown-up’s table, and we all know it. Seriously, he needs to get on his little short bus, go home, and get a life.

Single Issue Voters

I had been trying like hell to avoid a political discussion with this guy. I was in my workplace, and I try to avoid bringing my politics there. Plus, he walked in complaining about how a travel show with a scene of girls in bikinis was getting in the way of him "living for Jesus". I'm a little fuzzy on how--- It seemed like Taliban-esque thought processes to me. "Men see women flesh and can't control impure thoughts".

Over the course of my discussion with him, he kept trying to steer it back to politics. A discussion of a piece of equipment being made in Japan led him back to NAFTA (Making him geographically murky in addition to morally murky), and then finally, he came out with this nugget:

"I have to vote Republican," he said. "It's the abortion issue. But I'm voting for them while holding my nose."

I closed my eyes for a second. I was as annoyed with his constant urge to discuss politics as I was with his reason for voting Republican.

"If I had to vote Republican," I said slowly, "I would have to hold my nose too." And that was the end of the discussion for me.

Had I been in a position to discuss it at greater length, I might have asked him: Just what has the Republican Party done about this whole abortion thing?

With the exception of one Carter term and two Clinton terms, Republicans have dominated the White House in the post Roe vs Wade era. What have they done to illegalize abortion, or for that matter, even curtail the number of aborions being performed? What has been the result of four years of total Republican domination?

Answer: Absolutely nothing. Much like Osama bin Laden and illegal immigration, these are not "problems" that the GOP wants to "fix"--- These are issues they want to run on at election time.

People who oppose abortion should instead look at candidates that actually want to prevent abortions by funding proper sex education in the schools (I know people aren't comfortable with the notion of teachers teaching their kids these things, but someone needs to pick up the slack for the parents not doing their jobs). They need to get behind candidates that believe in making birth control more easily available.

But most importantly--- They need to learn the difference between candidates that want to talk about a problem and candidates that want to solve one.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Judas Goat

I usually don't do this, but once in a while, I have to make an exception. I do this not to call out someone who's made a comment here, but because I think this is something that should be addressed publicly.

TennMom wrote to me in a response to another post:

As a lifelong Tennessee Democrat, I understand your frustration. I'm not thrilled with Ford's votes during this latest session but, throwing away your vote in a race this close is no solution. Yes, Ford voted with the Republicans half the time on key votes. Rest assured that Corker will vote 100% of the time for whatever Bush wants. I'll settle for 50% anti-Bush over 100% pro-Bush any day. Corker must not be elected if we are to loosen Bush's grip on Iraq and on our own freedoms. Every Democrat who refuses to vote in this race is helping Bob Corker. Now that is something to think about.

TennMom, how old are your kids? For while Ford claims to have another plan for Iraq, I expect us to be there long enough for every American kid to get a crack at fighting this one. And that's helped along by Harold Ford constantly carrying water for the Republicans. If we elect him, he'll make just enough noise about the reapportionment plan (Yet none of that noise will deal with how to keep the new neighbors from fighting one another over the borders) to say "Well, I tried. We now return you to your regularly scheduled quagmire."

This is a quote from the current Newsweek cover story: From the podium, he says he gets "in trouble with my party because I believe a government is only as good as its ability to defend itself and protect itself." (That stance wouldn't actually trouble most Democrats, but the implication that Democrats are weak on defense might.) The Republican Party, over all post-9/11 election cycles, have managed to devastate Democrats by implying that they're weak on defense. But they don't need to anymore--- They've found a Judas Goat among the Democrats to say it for them.

And now, we're supposed to want to give him a bigger pulpit to denigrate the party from? How many seats do we screw ourselves out of if we allow him to win?

His voting record only scratches the surface. Leaving the US Senate blank on my ballot may be helping Bob Corker--- But it also cuts off the gangrenous limb that threatens to destroy the Democratic Party. If keeping him out of this seat means he no longer has the chance to cost us more seats by constantly undermining us to the American public, then we've done a good thing.

That Is SO Jake…

For all those who wondered, Harold Ford Jr. has proven once again that yes, he and Jake are related. For Harold’s latest campaign stunt clearly seems to be more in line with the Jake Ford “This is WWE stuff. We gotta bark at each other. Bark!” campaign style than anything one could expect to see out of sober adults.



If this was the idea of someone on Ford’s staff, that staffer needs to be fired and exiled to the furthest corners of the political universe. If it was Ford’s idea, the campaign manager should resign because he obviously has no control over the candidate.

We can expect nothing but downward momentum out of this. It would be one thing if Ford came off well in this--- He did not. He came off like a swaggering schoolyard bully, only he came away with the bloody nose. He was not able to make Bob Corker lose his composure, although Ford himself obviously did. And he was unable to pull Corker off of message.

But most of all, Ford allowed himself to be tricked into mentioning his family. Everyone knew at the onset of this race that Ford would face no greater hurdle than his family--- That was made clear when his Uncle John was indicted the day after Ford announced his candidacy. Between that and his brothers running the Dumb and Dumber campaign here in the Ninth District, there were any number of openings for an attack. Corker slyly found one that didn’t require mentioning any of the clan by name—Lobbying reform.

By framing it as “lobbying reform” rather than the “Keep Harold Sr. out of Harold Jr.’s office bill”, he managed to attack Ford’s most glaring weak spot without attacking it.

It would be unreasonable to carry the kind of familial baggage Harold Ford Jr. carries and not expect it to be brought up during the campaign. It would have been like campaigning against George W. Bush without saying “So where are those WMDs?”. When your opponent has so obvious a weak spot, you have to go after it, and as much as he likes to play the role of “political outsider”, this is not Corker’s first barbecue. He knows this.

Harold knows it too. Not only did he come off looking weaker in this, but he got duped into playing the “family card” for Bob Corker.

Stick a fork in Harold Ford Jr. For after this public confrontation that backfired as radically as it has, Bob Corker will have to be caught with the proverbial “dead woman or live boy” to lose this race. It’s still not impossible--- But this monumental blunder put Bob Corker in the driver’s seat.

For this gamble to work, Ford would have had to make Corker back down and look spineless. He rolled craps. Corker walked away poised, and despite the large gap between their heights, Corker looked like the much bigger man.

To answer the question put forward by my friend Leftwing Cracker--- Yes. Ford screwed up.