Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Surely by now, you know the words to this song. I confess, I've sung it more than a few times myself. We need the Senate back, we need subpoena power, etc. To swipe a phrase from the verbally diarrheic Don Rumsfeld, he's not the candidate we want, he's the candidate we've got.
His supporters have complained for years that progressives walk away when their candidate doesn't win. They complain that progressives go third party when their candidate doesn't win. They "take their marbles and go home" to put it in the parlance I've heard from several Ford devotees.
There's something sickeningly hypocritical about that position, though. The 9th District Congressional Primary didn't go Harold Ford's way so he's... Taking his marbles and going home. Instead of doing as he asks us to do and endorsing the Democratic candidate, he's holding out on his endorsement, ostensibly to help his unqualified younger brother in his third party bid.
This is what he had to say when he met Steve Cohen face to face:
"I can support you, but I won't endorse you."
The great Jackson Baker broke that story a little over a week ago, and Leftwing Cracker wrote a great post about it shortly thereafter.
I wanted to give it a few days. I was hoping that having his hypocrisy and craven duplicity in print might jar Harold into doing the right thing. But I've been patient long enough, and nice for far too long. It's not really in my nature, and gives me the most vicious headaches.
Of course, this isn't the only race where Harold lacks the testicular fortitude to do the right thing and back the Democratic candidate. He has disregarded the wishes of the Connecticut voters that voted against his "friend" Joe Lieberman just as he ignored the wishes of the 9th District voters.
No wonder Harold went on Imus last week and declared "Joe Lieberman is a Democrat". He has no idea what being a Democrat is. I can't even imagine how low George W. Bush's approval ratings have to get before Harold figures out that he shouldn't look like half of a conjoined twin set with him. As we speak, Republican candidates are doing more to distance themselves from Bush than Harold is. 2/3 of his Congressional district voted to fire George W. Bush in 2004--- Not that Ford would know that--- It's not like he's ever here. And when he is, he's as connected with his constituents as I am to Jessica Biel (And sadly, I'm not connected to her at all).
We're expected to ignore all of this and back him unconditionally because he's "the nominee".
But he won't do that for Steve Cohen, will he?
George W. Bush just had a fundraiser for Bob Corker. They'll be counting money for a long time; Fact is, they might be better off simply weighing it and making an educated guess based on the weight of a $100 bill. Early reports are that they may have raised as much as $1 million.
So Harold will soon be dunking for dollars himself.
So how pathetic is it that he'll soon be asking all of us to do what he's not willing to do himself--- Back the Democratic candidate for office?
Not one red cent for him. Not until he grows a pair and does the right thing. Not until he learns to practice what he preaches, both here and in Connecticut.
If he can't support Democratic candidates simply because they're the Democratic candidates (If for no other reason), then he has absolutely no right to ask the same of us.
However, there was one part of the most recent one that I think was probably an accidental political point, but a salient one.
Early in the movie, you learn that humans have found an easy way to carry out their agenda. As they raid a town full of zombies to scavenge for supplies, they shoot up fireworks, or “skyflowers” as one of the characters calls them. The zombies are completely distracted from what they were doing, and stand in the street staring up at the fireworks. In the meantime, the humans walk right past them to take whatever isn’t nailed down, and often kill them where they stand while laughing their heads off.
And it got me thinking about the skyflowers in our own society.
How many people are profoundly affected by the Jonbenet Ramsey murder? A dozen, perhaps? Yet there it is at the top of every news hour. We have a war going on (And not going well), a major city that is largely uninhabitable, gas prices through the roof, a war with Iran on the distant horizon, a steep increase in fatalities in Afghanistan, and yet… America is so captivated by a ten-year-old murder case that even questioning the wrong guy takes priority over all of that.
How many people know more about Tom Cruise being cut loose at Paramount than they know about current conditions on the ground in Iraq? Do we really care that Lindsey Lohan is getting drunk and showing up to a movie set late? Who is Paris blowing today?
Every time one of these non-stories comes up, Americans take their focus off of the world around them to look up at the skyflowers.
Who has been more effective at floating them than Fox News? Their brand of news for the escapist crowd has resulted in Americans knowing more about the Natalee Holloway disappearance than the current state of the war in Iraq.
By halfway through Land of the Dead, a leader has risen from among the zombies that encourages them to ignore the fireworks and focus on the task at hand.
Where is that guy?
Monday, August 28, 2006
Just a little less than a year ago, I attended a lecture given by Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking. She travels the country speaking out against the death penalty, and she spoke at a Catholic church in East Memphis.
This was just a few short weeks after water topped the levees in her adopted hometown and laid it waste.
“The miracle of Hurricane Katrina” she said, choking up slightly, “is that it ripped the veil off of George W. Bush’s attitudes about the poor.” It was hard to argue with that. In fact, if any argument was to be made at all, it was that George W. Bush’s attitude was tucked under the flimsiest of veils, a tiny cloth that always seemed in danger of slipping off to reveal the true hideousness beneath. It was only a few days after the First Mother said rather cheerily in a “let them eat cake” moment that many of the people affected by the tragedy were poor anyway, so it “worked out well” for them. New Orleans was everything that George W. Bush was ill at ease with. It was sexy, spicy, and dangerous, but in that good way--- She’s the girl that you know you can’t take home to mother, but you’ll have a great time with her until the bed breaks.
And most of all, it was black. It was full of working class people, jazz musicians, practitioners of strange religions, women who bare their breasts for cheap trinkets tossed at them--- Definitely not the kind of people you find in Kennebunkport unless they’ve been hired to clean someone’s pool.
The official line was that the president had no idea it was coming. You’ll recall this excuse worked rather well for him on 9/11, at least until the commission established years later that he had ignored numerous warnings. It wasn’t until April of this year, after mud and feces stunk up the streets of a major city for eight months that the video establishing that he did in fact know was leaked.
The phrase “Heckuva job, Brownie” has become something of a catchphrase in the last year, even making it into an episode of “The Sopranos” when Paulie Walnuts colossally screwed up something as simple as setting up a merry-go-round for a street fair. It’s fairly indicative of what Sister Helen talked about--- While 30,000 languished inside the Superdome (A building designed only to house people long enough to watch the Saints lose) with only 36 hours of food, the ultimate do-nothing federal government was patting itself on the back for a job well done.
Not that “Brownie” was the only one that screwed up. He was the most glaring and obvious (Gee, who could have ever thought there could be negative fallout from hiring a horse show judge to manage national emergencies?), but there was a catastrophic failure throughout the federal government.
The right wing noise machine tried to shift the blame to Ray Nagin by using an aerial photo of the New Orleans School Bus facility and spreading the rumor that 2000 school buses sat unused. This link goes to probably the best debunking of that myth that I’ve yet found. They tried to shift the blame to Kathleen Blanco by saying that she hadn’t requested aid soon enough, words that they soon had to eat.
At the end of the day, it comes down to this. No one has the resources at the disposal of the federal government. Should Blanco have deployed the National Guard? Sure. But they weren’t available because some raging fool sent them on the Great WMD Snipe Hunt, along with much of the heavy equipment assigned to the Louisiana National Guard. Turns out that some of the same equipment that helps you clear mud and trees out of city streets is also good for pulling wreckage out of the new democracy built in Baghdad.
Was Ray Nagin’s performance good? Of course not. When your city is built on the same design principle as a soup bowl partially submerged in a bathtub, you do not piss around when it comes to ordering evacuations. Was Blanco’s performance good? I’ve heard conservatives say it wasn’t, but I’ve yet to see one offer anything tangible that could have or should have been done better.
But the federal government failed so thoroughly that the stench of failure hangs over the Potomac the same way the stench of mud and shit hang over New Orleans. FEMA was saying they couldn’t make it in safely, but Sean Penn found a way. So did Harry Connick, and come to think of it, even the rough-and-tumble Al Gore managed to get into the city before FEMA did. When the federal government was pretending it was unsafe to go into the city, Anderson Cooper was wading in knee deep water.
When this nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, the federal government not only managed to put together a plan (The last actual plan ever devised under Bush), but managed to put together an international coalition and fly the 6,750 miles to Afghanistan in time to put special forces in and start shelling on October 7. Twenty-six days. Clearly, the federal government can manage a brisk pace when they feel the need.
It took two to get to Louisiana, where lives hung in the balance, where every moment that passed made a rescue scenario less likely and a recovery scenario more likely.
When “children of a lesser god” are to be killed, George W. Bush rushes in. When “children of a lesser god” need to be saved, there’s always something else to do. In this case, the end of a vacation, a photo op with John McCain’s birthday cake, and playing air guitar with Mark Wills all took priority, just as trout fishing took priority over a memo called “Osama bin laden Determined To Strike Inside the United States” four years earlier.
And what has happened in the year since then? We’re no closer to rebuilding New Orleans than we are to rebuilding Iraq. Perhaps that’s because the checks for both of those projects are deposited into the same bottomless bank account.
As different as they are, there’s one stark similarity between 9/11 and Katrina. I remember being told that Osama bin Laden was “wanted dead or alive” just as clearly as I remember being told during a speech in Jackson Square that George W. Bush was ready to “do what it takes”. He still has that same lack of follow-through, which at least partially explains his torpedoing of Representative Richard Baker’s (R-LA) bill to allow New Orleans homeowners to recover 60% of the values of their homes (Which seems 40% shy of a fair deal, since we’ve allowed insurers to default on paying the claims without consequence).
For those people who voted for George W. Bush and cite “security issues” as the reason for it, the time has come for you to face the music.
Do you want to see what a catastrophic attack on the United States would look like? Look at New Orleans. New Orleans is how ineffective this government is with close to a week’s advance warning.
How bad would it be with no warning at all?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I don't personally know Mr. Larsha. If I've ever met him, I'm unaware of it. All that I have to base an opinion around are the statements of others, and he seems to be almost universally respected. He's an older man who lived through black Americans' struggle for equality, so his perspective is going to be a bit different than mine. He came of age in an era before Dr. King; My parents married a few months after Dr. King died, but I wasn't to become anything other than a vague idea for another four years.
It's hard to blame someone who has survived what Larsha has survived and seen what he has seen for not wanting to surrender what he undoubtedly sees as a sign of black progress.
Does that mean he's right? Not a chance.
My anger when I first heard about the resolution has been replaced by sadness on many levels. I'm sad that white politicians have been so traditionally unresponsive to the needs of black constituents that some believe only a black candidate is willing to fight for them. I'm sad that as a result of all that, someone with no record to run on is seen as a viable alternative to someone that has a long record of fighting for the oppressed.
I'm also sad for Mr. Larsha, as I think his position is an attempt to roll the clock back to good old days that have long since passed.
A black representative no longer means that blacks have representation. It's been ten long years since the 9th District has been represented by someone that I've seen really take any kind of a stand on behalf of black Americans.
Larsha's resolution is flawed because it is based on the premise that only a black representative will represent the interests of black constituents. If he was thirty years old, I could easily write this off as blatant racism. Larsha remembers the days when that was true.
I sympathize with the man based on that. But here's the real reason he can't be kicked off of the executive committee for this.
Is this or is this not the party that got into a huge row over the endorsement on non-Democrat judicial candidates recently? How did that turn out?
Has anyone put forth a resolution condemning Deidre Malone or any of the other Democrats that endorsed Bill Gibbons?
If Mr. Larsha is to be shown the door for this, then there's much more housecleaning to be done within the SCDP Executive Committee.
Larsha's resolution should be called out of order and spiked before it gets to a vote, just as he undoubtedly knows that it should based on the bylaws he helped to write.
But should his be the only one?
I know that some of the "Democratic" (In quotes because TN judicial races are supposed to be nonpartisan) candidates in the judicial races were grossly underqualified, and Steve Cohen is anything but underqualified. That's certainly a mitigating factor in the executive committee's judicial endorsements.
But at the end of the day, the question is very simple; Is the executive committee in the business of endorsing and supporting non-Democratic candidates or not?
I support Steve Cohen. I think the very fact that people believe Jake Ford's presence in this race is anything but superfluous is an insulting underestimation of Cohen, whom I believe will end up being the greatest champion that people of all races have had since Paul Wellstone died.
All I ask is that as people deliberate the fate of William Larsha, they try to look through the eyes of an old man who has seen the bad old days and is terrified that they'll return.
It's easy to show mercy to a staunch ally. It's much more difficult to show mercy to an opponent, but it's the hallmark of great leaders. Julius Caesar pardoned those who supported Pompey Magnus in the Roman Civil War. Abraham Lincoln waged war with the goal of returning Confederates to America again.
And the SCDP Executive Committee faces the same challenge--- To defeat an effort without destroying the individual that supports it.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Then again, I've always liked renegades, so I'm quite cool with that.
For those unaware of what I'm talking about, Joe Jr. posted this comment on another blog:
I am a Democrat. Unless or until there is reason to do otherwise, I will be supporting the Democrat nominee which is Sen. Cohen.
I still wish the best for Jake and feel that he will garner significant votes no matter who may or may not be supporting him. I wish him the best! However, party unity is very important to me and as a Democrat, I have a duty to support fellow Democrats.
First, I would like to congratulate him. He's shown something that Nikki Tinker, Ed Stanton, Julian Bolton, et al have failed to show: That the interests of the people of Tennessee's 9th District should be placed ahead of personal ambition. He gets that. They don't. They lost, so they can't bring themselves to care what kind of shape they leave the party in.
But first and foremost, he's done the right thing for his family. If Harold Ford Jr. is to have any chance of beating Bob Corker this fall, he's going to need a Democratic Party that is in prime fighting shape. He doesn't get it if his younger brother splits the party and fuels resentment along the way.
I hope that Joe Ford Jr. sticks around. Personally, I'd like to crack open a brew or two with him sometime, talk to the man, and see what his plans are for the future.
Monday, August 21, 2006
And just when you though things were going to chill out, here we go again. Indeed, temperatures in
Although the early beginnings of this debate where somewhat engaging, lately, it has acquired that common and predictable tone of W’s press conferences (It’s the terrorists! 9/11!). It’s old, it’s stale, IT’S BORING!!
Granted, racial pandering and demagoguery bring out the high passions and low ethics that make politics somewhat bearable, at least in the entertainment sense. But come on now, can we get a little creative here? Let me elaborate a bit further.
Clearly, the zenith of all controversy centers around the concept of “candidate qualifications.” This sub-issue has reached epic proportions. Simply put, by “traditional” standards, one candidate is qualified while the other one is not. Jake Ford’s supporters claim that these standards where designed purposely to sink underachieving candidates.
Although I disagree, I would like to try to see things from their point of view. Thus I propose that we give in their arguments and set a whole new of set standard to judge competing candidates for the 9th District. How about we settle this race by say, a wrestling match perhaps? Boxing, anybody? Karaoke? Dance-off? These are just some of the alternatives out there that seem to work better for some candidates.Evidently, by rearranging qualification standards, one of these candidates would have a considerable advantage over the other one. And the winner would be the buffoon-elected to represent us in the circus that takes place at the capitol in DC. Further, the proceeds of the match should go straight to educational programs, to ensure that future voters get the resources and knowledge to discern well between a right choice and a joke.
(Thank you TMB, for giving us something to blog about during work hours…)
Thaddeus Matthews, who had correctly been referring to "Joke Ford" has now started referring to him by his semi-proper name, Jake, and seems to be pushing the absurd idea that "only a black" can represent the 9th District (Which means that Thaddeus was ostensibly against him before he was for him).
So... How well has the 9th District been represented over the last ten years by a black man that votes like a white Republican? The black community supported a Ford over Steve Cohen last time this seat was open--- How well has that worked out?
Did you end up with a strong advocate for African-American issues, or did you end up with a congressman that constantly runs interference for the Bush White House on Iraq?
Did you end up with an advocate for the poor and working class, or did you end up with an advocate for the banking industry that voted for the bankruptcy bill?
The idea that you would be better off represented by a high school dropout who failed to "get over" as a wrestler than by a State Senator with well over two decades of progressive politics in his rear view mirror is absolutely counterproductive. Unlike Jake Ford, I care enough about the needs of the black community that I don't want to see them shoot themselves in the foot by sending someone to Congress that they simply cannot trust to represent their interests.
Harold Ford Sr. was a magnificent Congressman that truly looked after the needs of his community. His record as a progressive was unassailable.
But his sons, much like George Bush's, have proven why inherited political power is a terrible idea. Unlike the Bushes, Harold Jr. has proven that the apple can indeed fall far from the tree.
Where does that leave Jake? Who in the world knows? He has no record as a politician. In fact, he has no record of employment anywhere that a family member wouldn't be filling out his evaluations.
It's well past time that we look past the politics of racial demagoguery that have plagued Memphis for far too long. I don't care about the skin color of a candidate.
Imagine for a moment that the roles are reversed. A black candidate has 24 years of experience as an effective progressive leader in the State Senate, and a white candidate got kicked out of multiple schools, has never held a non-family job for any impressive amount of time, and has no political experience whatsoever.
Do you think for a moment that white voters would have a tough choice to make?
I'll even go a step further: If all other things were equal, and both were seasoned progressive leaders that were imminently qualified, there's still a 50% chance I would have gone for the black candidate.
So the idea that anyone would look to skin color as a qualifier for holding public office is absolutely foreign to me.
***While we're on the subject, please see this excellent post in Crackerville. He's got an interesting theory we should all look at.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
It was 29 years ago today, so Freedonia's flag flies at half mast today in his honor.
Watch this clip of him in action, and think of it in this context... When planning a war, is he any worse than what we have now?
Here he is catching spies.
"You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are." - President
Mrs. Teasdale: The future of Freedonia rests on you. Promise me you will follow in the footsteps of my husband.
Firefly: (to audience) How do you like that? I haven't been on the job five minutes and already she's making advances to me. (to Mrs. Teasdale) Not that I care, but where is your husband?
Mrs. Teasdale: Why, he's dead.
Firefly: I'll bet he's just using that as an excuse.
Mrs. Teasdale: I was with him to the very end.
Firefly: Hmmph. No wonder he passed away.
Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms and kissed him.
Firefly: Oh, I see. Then, it was murder. Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.
Mrs. Teasdale: He left me his entire fortune.
Firefly: Is that so? Can't you see what I'm trying to tell you? I love you! (jumps into her arms)
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Why do you think it is morally ok to steal from me (in the form of taxes) to pay for someone else's health care?
The last time I checked, a few assholes thinking something was good for the country was all it took, Larry.
For example: A few assholes ignored every argument against it and started a war in Iraq. I have to foot my share of the bill for that--- $307.5 billion so far, and thanks to some piss poor planning, there's no end in sight. There are 290 million Americans, so by my count, the federal government owes everyone that disagreed with the war somewhere around $1100. I was going to ask for my check from the government, but since I'm guessing you believe in it, you should pick up my share.
And the next time I do my taxes, I'll pull up the amount of money spent building a wall on the Mexican border. I don't want it there. It exists simply because Republican politicians wanted to toss some red meat to the bigoted part of their base. Therefore, I'm hanging onto the amount I would be paying for that.
I'll also take a few moments to figure out exactly how much money I'm blowing by footing the bill for presidential travel as he flies around the country to campaign for his party in the midterms.
There are all kinds of expenses I disagree with. Can we send the bill for Congress's time debating Terri Schiavo to Tom DeLay and Bill Frist? I know a lot of Tommy's money is tied up in his legal defense these days, but he surely took enough under the table to cover my share.
In the Republican mind, all of these expenses are legit--- Yet caring for the sick is "stealing".
A few weeks ago, WTL and I were at Drinking Liberally. We stayed pretty late into the evening just because we're pretty good friends. A young woman came over and sat down at our table. She launched into a littany of right wing talking points and asked us why we were Democrats.
I wasn't really in the mood to discuss politics by that point. Everyone seems to assume that any time there are two progressives in a room, that we want to talk about politics. Me, I was in the mood to discuss a beautiful woman I'd met earlier in the evening.
So when she asked us why we were Democrats, I looked at her and said "Because when you strip away the bullshit from any right wing talking point, you find a "me me me selfish prick" ideology at the heart of it all."
I don't just mean "asshole". I'm an asshole myself. My personality has been compared to Dr. House's.
But even I have enough compassion to know that caring for the sick isn't "stealing". It's our responsibility as human beings to ease suffering where we find it. It's how we pay our room and board on this planet.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Jay Ambrose of the Scripps Howard News Service wrote what amounts to a sad love song lamenting the loss of "Joementum" last week. It had a good beat, and you could dance to it, but it lacked the depth found in your average Pussycat Dolls song. He described Lieberman as a "good man" who lost "not because of scandal or something badly amiss, but because of integrity, because he put principle above party and his re-election interests."
Lieberman did indeed lose because he put something above party, but certainly not above his re-election interests. In fact, he was playing the same "50% + 1 vote" game that has led the Democratic Party to devastating losses over the last few election cycles. He ignores the Democratic base, seldom throwing them so much as a bone, to pander to a group of swing voters whose existence is as heavily disputed as a recent Iraqi nuclear program (Any similarity to a Tennessee Congressman with a political career alive or dead is purely coincidental.)
He doesn't come out and say that any effort to defeat Lieberman was anti-Semitism--- But why else would he call Cynthia McKinney anti-Semitic in the same piece, and refer to Mel Gibson's Julian Bolton-esque rantings when he was pulled over for drunken driving?
The reason for Ned Lamont's victory over Joementum is really quite simple; The people that Joe Lieberman had ignored during his right wing panderfest are precisely the same people that got to decide his fate last week--- Democratic voters.The people of Connecticut spoke. In a firm voice, they said "Get the hell out of here, you assclown. If we wanted a Republican, we would have voted Republican."
The problem with Joe is that he hitched his wagon to George W. Bush when his approval numbers were high, apparently not realizing that an egg salad sandwich could have had 90% approval in the days after 9/11 (Unfortunately, we couldn't find a decent egg salad sandwich, so we had George W. Bush peaking at 88%). And unlike most Republicans this year, Joe didn't have the sense to get off of a sinking ship. Not exactly the kind of intellectual might that the public looks for in a Senator.
And if you doubted Joe's credentials as an unofficial Republican, take a look at a couple of items that have crossed the Freedonian Newsdesk recently: Liberman's former chief of staff was an Enron lobbyist (The only thing shocking there is that Enron even needed lobbyists with guys like Dubya around). And a new 527 with ties to the CT GOP called Vets For Freedom has started airing ads "swift-boating" Ned Lamont.
Clearly, Republicans have a lot riding on keeping the Joementum going. And they're pulling out all the stops.
Enron, Swift Boats, and an accusation of racism from the "liberal media". It's the trifecta of Republican politics.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
(To my dear partner: In drinking, trivia, mischief and more…)
I know this is belated, but when was the last time you saw me coming in on time?? I have had you in my thoughts all day, and I just now have come to the point of having enough time to post this in your honor, as you deserve.
I am blessed to have you as accomplice through good times and Tinker times; through lost keys and low cuts; through trivia triumphs and trounces; and through whatever comes next for us all.
What would the Chilean do without you?
I am grateful for your courage to invite me to blog with you, and for allowing me to become part of this experience. You opened a whole new dimension for me.
Everybody, join in: Raise thy glass --and shake thy ass-- to the Freedonian!!
Monday, August 14, 2006
Pam and I stopped by the one on Thursday for a little while, but we have this lamentable inability to be in two places at once (We've tried it before--- It hasn't worked so far, but we're still holding out hope), so we didn't get to stay long.
It seems like every time I go to one of these, I'm glad because I end up putting faces to words I've read here and there in the past.
Rockgirl, mL from Observatorium, and Lindsey from Theo-Geo I had read before; Kat I had met briefly on Thursday; Philip, Brandon, and Benny were new to me, although I've enjoyed what I've read of their blogs today. And of course, we're all familiar with John Harvey and Thaddeus Matthews.
The Young Avenue Deli's inability (or unwillingness) to split a check has been well documented among those who attended the Thursday Bash, so I'll not belabor the point further; I will only say that the service I encounter in most other places, YAD included, makes me grateful for seeing Audra the Beer Goddess every Thursday at Dish.
But this venue was much better for a Bloggers' Bash than the P&H was for the last one. Everyone loves the P&H except for me. I prefer YAD on many levels, not the least of which is Wi-Fi. Nobody actually DID any live blogging last night, but having the option available is nice on many levels.
All in all though, it was a great event--- Made even better by the serendipty of meeting up with an old friend last night. Rebekah is beautiful and unique to the point that despite not having seen her for more years than I care to recall, I was pretty sure I spotted a picture of her on Rachel & the City a few weeks ago--- And I was pleased to find out last night that it was her.
I had a great time-- Thank you, Serrabee.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The following is the last comment I will post, but I will continue to visit my favorite Memphis political blogs when my health permits it.
Blinders Off has been battling with MS for some time now. While I wouldn't presume to pretend I know what the world looks like when viewed through her eyes, I can say that I've seen the kind of struggles she faces. Multiple sclerosis is a cruel disease, and I had an aunt and an uncle that suffered from it.
I can only say that I wish you well, and you're in my thoughts and prayers. If you don't respond to this, then that's fine--- That's not the purpose of this.
But I did want you to know that we're out here thinking of you.
Thank you, for your support.
Rick & Pam
Blinder's Off's Blogs:
One of the first posts to catch my eye, for obvious reasons was a question: Should Nikki Tinker continue as a write-in candidate?
Obviously, my answer is a resounding "No". Her platform had less substance than the bowel movement of a tourist in Mexico that wasn't listening when you said "Don't drink the water".
But what disturbs me about it so much isn't that it's a question at all. There have been campaigns run with less substance than hers before (Although I'm hard pressed to name them). What disturbs me is scrolling down into the comments on Thaddeus's blog and still seeing people respond with the tired old meme that a Jewish man cannot represent black voters.
In the early part of the 20th century, when no one was interested in actually funding education for blacks, Julius Rosenwald sunk enough of his personal fortune into building schools that no less than forty percent of southern blacks were educated in schools that he funded before Brown vs. the Board of Education. He spent $70 million of his own money, an amount that would be impressive in any era--- Considering that he died in 1932, I couldn't even begin to fathom how much money that would translate to today.
When Dr. King marched on Selma, one of the men that marched arm-in-arm with him was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel.
Three men were murdered in Philadelphia, MS in 1964 for registering black voters. I'm sure that in this "missing" poster, you'll notice that the fallen hero in the middle, James Chaney, is indeed black. Of course, he's flanked by two men named Goodwin and Schwermer. As Jewish Americans, it would have been very easy for them to ignore the plight of black Americans.
They chose not to. Time and time again, they've been discriminated against, quite often by the very people that sought to oppress blacks in America.
So for those out there that think Jewish people can't fight for blacks, I would suggest a history lesson or two to find out just how many times they already have.
So... A black guy, a white guy, and a Jewish guy all walked into a bar.
They sat there, they drank a few cold ones, and they talked about how to build a better world.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Here's the problem. He's not the worst offender. In fact, one of the worst is stinking up our own back yard.
The Drum Major Institute's most recent study of our Congressmen and whether or not they voted in the interests of middle class Americans was quite telling. Harold Ford got 38%. In case you need that score in perspective, let's put it this way: Joe Lieberman, the very symbol of treasonous Democrats, outscored him by 25%. When it came to voting for progressive values, Harold Ford finished in a dead heat with Mike DeWine, one of the most conservative people on Capitol Hill.
He doesn't represent black people any better. Harold Ford is consistently ranked dead last on the Congressional Black Caucus Report Card. His average score from them has been even lower than the Drum Major score--- He votes with the CBC a staggering 32.5% of the time. There are whites that vote the CBC position more often than he does.
When it comes to being progressive, Harold Ford could improve and still suck.
And then, of course, there's his high school dropout brother, Jake. I was looking at his website earlier, and one thought kept ringing through my mind over and over:
Who the hell does he think he's fooling?
Jake says he wants to end the occupation of Iraq. From his website: "I will work with the Congress and the Bush Administration to create a plan to bring our troops home soon from Iraq... The Bush Administration does not have a plan for withdrawal in Iraq and an open-ended war there is not what the American people need. "
Yet his brother refuses to even engage in any serious conversation about a way to end it (He might offend his new friends at Fox News).
Does this mean he's calling out his brother? That is what those who oppose the war do, is it not?
He'll not say a word against his brother on this issue. It might screw up Harold's chances of going to the Senate so he can continue backing this war just like he's done time and time again.
How about those Bush tax cuts, huh? You know the ones--- They cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans out there and readjusted the standards for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) so that the middle class is now targeted by a tax that was intended solely for the very richest people in America. Harold backed them and gave cover fire to the conservatives that voted for it. Where's his brother on this? Is Jake going to speak out against his brother to try and pick up this seat?
How about the Bankruptcy Reform Bill? For better or worse, the Ninth District is the bankruptcy capital of America. Harold's vote made sure that being bankrupt in America now means you're homeless in America, and that any household is one major illness from living in a car. Where is his brother on this? Jake's only professional experience is with the "Harold Ford Group", so he should probably be careful when answering that one, lest his brother's own legislative skills land him on the streets.
Jake Ford can't run on the issues in the current campaign. If he talks about the issues at all, it only reminds people of how absolutely worthless Harold has been on many of them. Probably not the smartest thing to do in an election year.
Harold Ford Sr. was great. Harold Ford Jr. was a bad sequel. And Jake Ford is a sequel that doesn't need to be made.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I've got to say, Young Avenue Deli is a much more logical place to have a Bloggers' Bash than P&H. Why have a Bloggers' Bash in a place with no Wi-Fi?
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I hope you carry your fond memories of your appearances on Hannity & Colmes with you as you begin this next stage in your life... You know, your retirement.
And may your crock of shit of a dying gasp be a warning to all who tread your path, including Harold Ford Jr. Anything to add, Pam?
Pam: Well, Joe may not go down so bad after all... Doesn't Congress have a great pension plan? You know, the kind you can only get in Congress in nowadays...
Rick: Thanks to Ol' Joe, that is. I'm sure the Dubya Administration will take care of you. Is Halliburton hiring? By the way, I should thank you for one thing. I'm getting slowly toasted surrounded by beautiful women at your retirement party.
Anything more, Pam?
Pam: Oh, but dear... Halliburton is hiring! They have plenty of positions open in Iraq... I've hear that they also have a great retirement plan -and benefits-- but chances are you would not survive the suicide bombing attacks to reap the rewards. Sad, but true.
Rick: And the good news is that Joe will truly get to enjoy the fruits of his labors!
Go to hell, Joe. Or Jersey. There's not much of a difference, and I'm content with you going to whichever is closer. Pam?
Pam: Farewell Joe. And to rest of the Lieberman act-alike, take notes. You may be next...
Rick: Joe, Joe, Joe... I should tell you that you have indeed brought me joy. Watching you lose tonight has made me as happy as a Frenchman working in a white flag factory.
Pam: Or in my case, W eating a pretzel...
Hasta la vista, motherf*cker!!
Rick: You said it, baby.
Unfortunately, we have Mayor Herenton instead. Even if you set aside the rampant corruption and cronyism that have rendered his administration Bush-esque, you're still left with a mayor whose idea of economic expansion consists of annexing everything that stands still too long.
The budget deficit, depending on who you ask, is anywhere between $25 million and $30 million. The complete absence of common sense in the use of PILOT programs is keeping poor Memphians poor while they live in parts of the city that the mayor has completely given up on. This city is so opposed to a living wage under Herenton's stewardship that not even the police that keep our streets safe can get a simple cost of living adjustment.
Put the Herenton administration in charge of the Sahara, and it will run out of sand in less than a week. But they'll have already filed the paperwork to annex the Mojave.
This is no way to run a city. The people of this city deserve economic expansion, and they deserve to raise their children on safe streets.
Enter Mrs. Deidre Malone. She's on the Shelby County Commission and serves on seven committees, chairing the Community Services Committee and Vice Chairing the Education and Libraries Committee.
But even when you get beyond that, you find something that you don't find in Herenton. You find a moral center that shines through in her work.
She ran the PR department at St. Jude's for years before establishing her own successful PR firm. And who better is there to sell new businesses on the virtues of coming here than a PR person?
This city aches for leadership so badly that even a professional wrestler with no governmental experience managed to pull off a decent amount of votes when he ran for mayor here.
Just imagine how well someone with administrative and legislative experience, who manages to work with both parties without selling out her values, can do in this race.
Deidre Malone for Mayor.
***Disclaimer: I have never spoken to Deidre Malone about this. This arose out of a conversation with a few good friends the other night about who could fill the power vacuum in this town.
Because I wanted to call attention to Leftwing Cracker's extraordinary "A Truce, of Sorts" post.
Please do yourself a favor and go read it.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Ideologically, I don't blame them a bit. Harold Ford is not exactly my dream candidate. Truth be told, I can't read through his voting record without antacids. I stand so far to the left of him that we could only communicate through smoke signals.
But if you need a better example of why we need to stand behind him, just take a look at the Green Party.
I have no idea what Chris Lugo's financials look like. He has yet to release them. To me, the total absence of disclosure seems to fly in the face of the transparency of government that has long been a Green plank. In fact, it's a pattern I detect as I try to cross-reference Green Party candidates with known donor databases. I''ve picked five names at random from a list of their 2004 candidates for federal races, and I'm not finding anything.
But in the races where disclosures are being made, you have to try pretty damn hard to not see a disturbing pattern.
In Pennsylvania, Green candidate Carl Romanelli has raised over $66,000 to campaign against Bob Casey and Senator Rick Santorum. Okay, maybe I've used the word "raised" a little loosely. Romanelli gave $30 to his own campaign, and every other penny has come from a Rick Santorum supporter. And that's after the Santorum staff helped him gather signatures.
This is not a new strategy. Ralph Nader's 2004 presidential campaign drew significant support from the Republicans. Perhaps they were so fond of him because of the way he helped tip the scales in 2000. One in ten of Nader's 2004 donations over $1000 came from Bush/Cheney donors. Considering that 50% of Nader donors gave $200 or less, you can imagine how significant those $1000+ donors were in building up his $4.5 million.
Ideologically, we've all got a lot in common with the stated goals of the Greens. We want an end to the war in Iraq. We want better energy alternatives. We want to keep the air clean for our kids.
The problem is that by shifting towards the Greens, we undermine the only party that actually has a chance to accomplish any of that. By weakening the Democrats, we don't do anything to accomplish our goals--- All we do is increase the likelihood of uninterrupted one party rule for the next several decades while the Greens find their feet.
It's not a great chance, but there is a chance that sending Ford to the US Senate this year will give us the majority there. The people that want to impeach the president will find that useful--- It gives us subpoena power. It also means that we get to pick the committee chairmen, and I can't even begin to stress how important that is. The Republicans have been using the "They offer no ideas" meme for the last four years in relative safety--- 74% of Democrat-sponsored legislation is killed in committee.
Want an end to the war? The Republicans won't do it on their own, and the Greens carry less clout than a flea. You've got to strengthen the Democrats for that.
How about healthcare? The last time the Republicans tried to do anything about it, it was a bill to deregulate the insurance industry that would have lifted the requirements that insurance companies cover most pre-cancer screenings such as mammograms, pap smears, etc. The Democrats were only able to hold together a filibuster by a razor-thin margin to keep that from going to the House, where it most assuredly would have passed with flying colors. The Greens couldn't have done that, and the Democrats wouldn't have been able to either if the Greens had helped split a few more votes during the last election cycle. I've not seen a Democratic plan yet (They learned the mistake from the Clinton health plan--- By the time he had a chance to implement his, the previous year of Republicans bashing it had taken its toll), but it couldn't be any worse than "Let's give back every bit of progress in the war on cancer that pre-screening has given us".
Wany gays to be able to marry? Most of us progressives do, but that one's not going to happen overnight. You have to change the people first and the representatives second. Doing it the other way just means that you AND the representatives are both marginalized. I can promise you this, though--- No Democrat is going to sponsor ballot initiatives that use you as political scarecrows.
Harold Ford is far from my ideal candidate. And a vote for Chris Lugo definitely sends a statement.
Unfortunately, that statement is "I'm willing to roll my dice with the Republicans".
Friday, August 04, 2006
However, the guys over at Flypaper Theory, the West Tennessee Liberal, the Leftwing Cracker, Polar Donkey, everyone at the Cue, and even we here at Freedonian were inundated by semi-literate rantings of people who assured us that we were going to be facing some terrible punishment for having backed anyone other than Nikki Tinker. According to these rants, we were all "anti-black woman" or intimidated by her "beauty". Click here for their “greatest hits”.
We were assured that we would be crying come August 3rd. Instead, I think I speak for all when I say that we're all exhausted from the Cohen Victory Party.
Not that it was the first one I went to, mind you. Pesky Fly, Autoegocrat, and I went to the Tinker "victory" party first.
Not every campaign I've ever been on has been a successful one. There have been a couple of times that I've been inside campaign HQ as reality set in, and it became obvious that we were going to come up short.
And that's how I recognized what I saw last night at the Tinker party. It was desperation.
It was hard to gauge exactly what was going on there at first. No one was in much of a hurry to speak to the three white guys that walked in the door, and that was fine.
But once they did, we heard the excuse-making(They dusted off that old conservative meme and blamed the media--- More on that later) and the "if these two precincts come through for us, we're still in it". Well, that and some bizarre Michael Jordan analogy that I’m sure made some sense in the guy’s head as he was coming up with it, but didn’t translate quite as well to spoken words.
We didn’t hang around for a concession speech, but we knew it was coming.
Of course, the tone at the Cohen party was decidedly more optimistic. We hadn’t been there terribly long when word reached us that Cohen had indeed won.
I don’t mind telling you that I was thrilled. All of us have watched Harold Ford Jr. creep a little further to the right with every term that he’s served, and it will be a joy to finally have a genuine progressive occupying his seat. Steve Cohen won an election last night, but the biggest winners are the people of Tennessee’s 9th District.
You have to wonder how long it will take, now that Tinker has lost this primary, to leave town. I give her six weeks.
Now, I have a little something to say to one of the Tinker partygoers from last night. I was informed that they didn’t feel like the Memphis Flyer and Jackson Baker in particular had been fair to them. So I’m going to reiterate what I said last night and expand on it.
There is a reason that people of all political stripes, be they Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, white, black, or even purple speak to Jackson Baker. It is simply that he is fair to all and swayed by none. That’s how he gets the best access to the best stories--- People know they’ll be treated fairly, so they call him when they have a story to tell.
I realize that fair coverage isn’t as favorable as coverage provided by a sorority sister who used the biggest newspaper in the district as an infomercial for your campaign, slanting the coverage to make the guy that was on the receiving end of attacks from no less than five campaigns sound argumentative.
So in reality, what you wanted was not “fair” coverage--- You wanted the coverage slanted your way. A rain forest worth of mailers, an attack piece by a friendly lobby group, half a million dollars of TV time, and hit pieces by a Tinker supporter embedded in the Commercial Appeal cannot make up for the absolute lack of substance in the Tinker campaign. Television advertising is a great tool--- If you actually have something to say.
The Tinker campaign had nothing to say. So if you can’t figure out why the reporter that treats everyone fairly doesn’t cover you quite the way you want, then maybe you should look at the candidate and the campaign that’s being run.
Now, I’d like to give a shout out to Kevin, Liz, Dabney, Kate, Vanessa, Anne Marie, and John from the Cohen campaign for a very nice evening. We should hold a party like that again sometime.
How does November sound?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Outsiders Are Trying to Buy Your Vote
During my 30 years in public service, I've made a lot of friends in this city. I appreciate each of the thousands of calls and emails I have received in support of my campaign. They came in from every neighborhood in Memphis. Because of my experience, people know they can rely on me to stand up for issues that affect regular people every day. That's why my pro-education, pro-jobs, pro-health care message has built so much momentum.
The field of congressional candidates is full of drive and ambition. They are bright, energetic, and many of them are youthful. Each has a goal of making Memphis even better and most have stayed on message sharing their vision with voters.
And that is the way elections should be. They should be about candidates and their issues.
If I've learned one thing in politics, it's that you have to stand up for what you believe in order to get things done. And people can disagree without being disagreeable. That's why when one of my opponents questioned my faith, I set that aside. When another ran negative ads against me and the Tennessee Lottery, I moved on with a positive message of hope and opportunity. But last week, another one of my opponents, who, by her own admission after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars was still far behind in the polls, took a road so low that I had to speak up and say "enough."
Click here to read the rest of our future Congressman's statement.
Jackson Baker broke the story last night about our election commission somehow allowing someone to take aballot box last night. Unfortunately, the CA has sent Halimah Abdullah to cover the story, which means that by the time this story runs its course, it will have turned into a Tinker commercial.
So do yourself a favor and skip the CA on this one. Get the story from Jackson.
And while you're there, stop in and check out Chris Davis's "Truthiness and Consequences". Between those two articles, you can find out what real reporting and real writing look like, in case you've been reading the CA too long.
The CA is now reporting that the missing ballot box in the story above was a "misunderstanding".
However, there's now a second one out there floating around...
Of course, this one isn't an electoral oddity. Just good old-fashioned Memphis crime.
Meantime, the officer in charge of Precinct 36-2 in North Memphis reported that his car was stolen with his poll supplies inside. The TBI is investigating that matter, too, and Duckett said there was little he could say. Election officials went to the polling place at 1542 Jackson this morning with backup supplies to open the poll, he said.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I think we should welcome them to town in the proper way. You know, with a gift.
I'm thinking we should print out some of those screen captures we did of Tinker's supporters bombarding us with "WE'RE going to Washington" messages that came from the federal courts buildings, package them into a nice folder with the time stamps of the messages they posted, and handing them over.
In fact, my only question is... What color wrapping paper goes with a felony?
Still, I have to take my hat off to them for promptly allowing us to respond.
Anyway, click here to see them as they ran in the paper, then hit the back button to scroll down and see what we actually wrote.
As a Progressive Democrat and as a woman, I am appalled by some of the 9th Congressional District Democratic candidates' use of inflammatory rhetoric to provoke racial discord and religious intolerance in our community.
As quoted in your article "Voters get gender, race and religion," the statements issued by Bolton, Tinker and Stanton attacking Sen. Cohen's race, religion and accomplishments are deliberately reckless and morally reprehensible. Whether it is a push poll, third party mailers, or the use of ambiguous word connotations, the tactics used by these candidates have been engineered to create social and racial tension to get votes. These tactics, if anything, show how unfit and undeserving these individuals are to become public servants.
However, the most alarming fact is that none of these candidates have had the decency to take responsibility for what has been done in their names, as they should. This behavior shows that none of these individuals are willing to be held accountable for their actions, and this is a character flaw that voters of the 9th District should not ignore or accept.
These candidates claim to be true Democrats, yet they seem to have forgotten our party's core values: equality, inclusion and tolerance. The Democratic Party has set historically high standards in civil rights and social equality. Our party is the one that will fight for the poor and the disadvantaged. Our party is the party that gives minorities a voice in government through elected officials who represent and serve all constituents equally -regardless of their gender, race, creed, national origin or political affiliation. Our party's elected officials should stand up for your rights and mine, no matter who you are.
The irresponsible use of racial and religious divisiveness by these candidates --against each other, fellow Democrats, and particular members of this community-- is a slap in the face for those Democrats who came before them, and for the rest of us who believe and work hard to preserve, protect and advance our party's legacy. Shame on them.
I was appalled by your cover story on 7/31 (Voters get gender, race, and religion).
Perhaps it’s because I’m not old enough to remember the bad old days of Memphis, but I never thought I would see the day that this publication would allow itself to be used to further the cause of racism. Then I see Julian Bolton quoted in your paper as saying Steve Cohen only wants to join the Congressional Black Caucus so he can “send money to Israel”. Like some latter day Pat Buchanan, he decided that playing a game of “smear the Jew” is better strategy than talking about the issues.
Of course, that wasn’t the only unwarranted attack that was allowed to slide in that article. Ed Stanton is pretending that it’s Cohen that wanted to cause racial tension, and that he never ran the anti-Semitic push poll. It sure is a shame that there isn’t some place that employs reporters that could look into such a thing instead of simply allowing him to spin. It wouldn’t be hard to find people that got that call. Then again, doing it your way saves Stanton the trouble of calling everyone liars.
Nikki Tinker is standing to the side, pretending she knew absolutely nothing about the mailer that went out on her behalf. If there’s any validity to her claim, then surely we can expect her to file a suit against Emily’s List for using her picture without her permission, thus dragging her image to the mud.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure all of this out--- It just takes someone willing to ask questions, and Halimah Abdullah clearly isn’t that person.
Next time you talk to a political science professor for an article, ask one simple question. Do candidates with good records and good platforms have to resort to the classless strategies employed by Bolton, Tinker, and Stanton? Or do candidates play the race card when they have nothing substantive to say?
Steve Cohen has run a solid, clean campaign. As many times as Bolton, Tinker, Stanton, and Ron Redwing have espoused the politics of racial demagoguery, Cohen has never once counterattacked. The closest he came was holding a press conference that refuted the cheap shots in Nikki Tinker’s direct mailer. Even then, he did it with class and composure. He has substance, so he doesn’t need to sling mud.
The politics of racial discrimination need to die their long overdue death in this county. We need to be true to the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told us to judge a man by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. What does it say about the content of Julian Bolton’s character when he wears his prejudice on his sleeve? And what does it say about the content of Tinker’s and Stanton’s character that they’re ashamed to own up to their own tactics?