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.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Sometimes, that's all you can say about a news story.

Remains found at World Trade Center site

Two and a Half Men - The Ninth District Congressional Debate

When a candidate as ill-suited for public life as Jake Ford comes along, the people that are writing about him hold back a little bit. Telling the truth can start to look like a rambling polemic if you're not careful, and the line separating the two is a delicate one.

But sometimes, the elephant in the room becomes impossible to ignore.

We reached that point Monday night at The Warehouse downtown, scene of the Ninth District Congressional Debate.

Two of the three participants performed exactly as expected. Steve Cohen was poised and professional, only briefly giving way to anger when a relentless barrage of attacks reached a fevered pitch. Mark White, as always, came across as poised, well spoken, and genuinely nice, if perhaps not a wellspring of ideas. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, you could watch either of their performances without saying “I’m moving” if they win.

Despite the statements Jake Ford made Sunday night, he did indeed show up for the debate. All in all, it likely would have been better for his campaign had he stayed home.

The first rule of politics: When you run for office, any chance you’re given to sway a voter should be looked upon as a gift. And there is no greater gift than a public debate. Campaigns live and die upon a good debate performance. It is your chance to prove that you’re up to the challenge of public office. The 2004 presidential race is the only campaign in living memory where a candidate has lost all debates and still managed to squeak out a victory.

Steve Cohen and Mark White understood that. They looked relaxed. They smiled. And they made their case in their own ways, telling the voters why they deserve their votes.

Jake Ford looked like he didn’t want to be there. His body language was angry, his expression sullen as Cohen or White spoke. This would be bad enough for the average candidate--- For someone whose arrest record was made public last week, it was even worse. As you watched him, you could imagine him being angry enough to assault someone. He might have been trying for intensity--- But he skipped right over it and landed on anger.

It was even worse when he spoke. Amid the non-answers he’s becoming notorious for were a plethora of spurious attacks the likes of which I’ve never seen in political debate before. Among the things still missing--- Reasons to vote for Jake Ford. He never really seemed to make a case for why he would be a better candidate.

Again, some candidates might have been able to make that work. Ford never really got the hang of the whole lying thing--- He’s just not very good at it. He’s never learned that the best lie has a ring of truth to it, eschewing the grain of truth for whoppers along the lines of “What is not an urban myth is that Senator Cohen, on the floor, in the state senate, made the comment that poor kids don’t deserve to go to college.”

I once went to a comedy club and sat through a half hour of Pauly Shore’s act (The most a human being could be expected to take. The human brain explodes around the 45 minute point) without ever hearing the level of laughter Jake Ford got with that line. The problem with that was that they laughed not because he made some funny joke, but because he said something so utterly stupid that the audience simply could not contain itself.

Let’s set aside the mind numbing amounts of work that Cohen put into passing the lottery that covers college tuition for Tennessee students. Let’s pretend that he said that of some less accomplished candidate that had no track record to speak of on the issue.

What politician would actually say that? Even if their actions amounted to such a position, no politician would be foolish enough to put those words together in private, much less on the senate floor.

Even then, it was not an unmanageable situation. A smarter candidate, upon hearing the reams of laughter, might have walked back the statement a little bit. Say his actions amounted to it and say why. Say “I misspoke” and try to turn it around into something else. Instead, Ford seemed to get angry with the crowd. “If you all are finished with your chuckles…” he said, still looking angry and sullen. I didn’t quite get what he said after that because… Frankly, the crowd was laughing again.

The lovely Pam and I have discussed Jake's anger management issues before. We wondered when he was going to take to get him to lose control and what it would take. We found out Monday night.

“You talk about the lottery, Mr. Ford. Your family members voted for the lottery, and I thank them for their support. Your father gave me a thousand dollars to campaign for it, and your brother and father tried to run the lottery, but weren’t given the opportunity to do that.”

The audience laughed again. Only that time, they applauded too. Jake Ford lost it and tried to interrupt, only to be cut off by Richard Ransom. It was a good thing it wasn’t Jackson Baker that had to try to enforce the rules on Ford. Trust me—You’ll see why later.

And that was how the debate went. The nonsense attacks were actually Jake’s high point--- He responded to a question about how to relieve prison overcrowding by saying “I, as a young black man, wouldn’t want to see more police officers hired because of the high percentage of blacks that are already incarcerated at this moment.” That, sadly, was the most substantive policy stance we heard out of him all night.

After the debate ended, Jake Ford was so friendly as he worked the crowd that I wondered if I had imagined it all. As I walked toward him, he was regaling two people with Mark White lapel stickers with the old adage that “When you point the finger, there’s three fingers pointing back at you.”

I reintroduced myself and said “Good to see you changed your mind about coming tonight” as I shook his hand.

“Well I had to,” he explained. “None of you guys would run my press release.”

It was the first I had heard about a press release, so I asked him about it. “3, 5, 7, and 13. They all received, including the Commercial Appeal a document from me including Joan [Robinson, of the South Main Association]. I guess they’re all in concert with one another. You guys have the hook in.”

It was a continuation of a familiar pattern: Blame the press. When he was asked during his press conference last week why he hadn’t disclosed his history, he said “… it’s public information. I would assume you all would be doing your jobs on behalf of the people of Memphis.” And then there’s his irrational loathing of Jackson Baker. It’s apparent by now that his media strategy consists of antagonizing the press, then complaining that they don’t like him. It’s a bit like killing your parents and asking for the mercy of the court because you’re an orphan. The Menendez brothers’ defense.

I reported here Monday morning on Jake’s problems with Jackson Baker. After the debate, Baker wanted to make peace with Jake Ford.

Baker was eating as he spoke to Jake Ford, and whether it came from inside his mouth, or was a piece of food on his lip, something flew out quite accidentally and landed on Ford’s suit. Ford flew into a rage.

“The man spit on me,” he said, getting bent out of shape over something that the rest of the human race manages to ignore every day. “He spit on me. Does anyone have a napkin? He spit on me. Didn’t your mama teach you how to eat?” I was standing a couple of feet away with Chris Davis, also of the Memphis Flyer. I looked at Ford’s jacket and couldn’t even see anything.
“Shut up,” Baker said.

The rest of us were too shocked to say much of anything. Finally, Davis broke the silence. “Well, that’s one for the blogs.”

“I bet it is,” Ford said. “I bet it is one for the blogs. Are you going to call me a fucktard?”

“If the shoe fits,” someone said.

“Tell me what it means. What shoe is it fitting?” Jake asked, his arms spread out like he was spoiling for a fight. “Tell me what the word means, and I’ll tell you if the shoe fits or not.” On some remote planet, tucked away in the nether regions of an undiscovered universe, that might have been considered clever. But not Memphis, Tennessee on the planet Earth. As for the meaning of the word, I believe The Flypaper Theory did a great job defining it.

“Looking like a candidate,” Davis said as Ford’s entourage led him away.

Jake Ford was trying to pick a fight with a man that, though he could pass for a man fifteen years younger, is in his sixties.

Loathe though I am to help him with his strategy of picking a fight with the media, then claiming to have been victimized by it, I have to say this:

You could grab a random crackhead off of the street and turn him into congressional material before Jake Ford. Even the random crackhead is going to know that Memphis has a crime problem, and that extra police are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The Jake Ford candidacy is an affront to the political process. One of the great flaws of the demystification of government that we saw in the nineties was that it created the mistaken impression that anyone could do these jobs. We even had a movie where a man that happened to look like the president was tapped to fill his shoes.

Jake Ford snaps us back to reality. Not everyone is fit to do this job. He’s had four chances to prove his case to the voters. At the first, he literally had no answers for several of the questions. He looked more polished at the next one--- He was given the questions in advance. At the third one, he looked a little stronger, but still came up woefully short on substance.

And Monday night, he performed so badly that it was a step backward from the first debate.

If you look at Steve Cohen and Mark White, and you simply cannot bring yourself to vote for either of them, then I implore you--- Write in a candidate. It can be Jerry Lawler. It can be the random crackhead I talked about earlier. It can be a stray dog that made romantic overtures to your leg. For all I care, it can be a piece of inanimate furniture.

All of the above choices would make a better congressman than Jake Ford.

This post is a modified version of a piece awaiting publication at the River City Mud Bugle.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Voting Ford--- Aid and Comfort to the Enemy

If you ever needed proof that the political world has been turned upside down, this is it. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has posted a response to “blatantly false accusations” that Ford… acted like a Democrat.

To borrow a phrase from my friend Pesky Fly--- I’m shitting you negative. The DSCC, in defending a Democrat, has decided that a wise course of action is to point out just how often he breaks ranks with the Democrats.

My problem isn’t just with his voting record, although that’s deplorable enough. It’s his pathological need to undermine the Democratic Party at every turn.

The Washington Post compiled a list of sixteen key votes in the 109th Congress. Of those sixteen, Harold voted with the Republicans on eight of them. And this page was compiled before his votes on the torture bill and the wiretapping bill. Of eighteen major votes in his most recent term, he voted against us on ten of them.

Voting against us isn’t enough for him. It’s not enough that he stomps on any effort to contain the most unethical White House-Congress combo in American history. He has to sell out those who are willing to take a stand.

During the October 7th debate on WREG TV, he was asked about judicial nominees. He said that if he had been in the Senate, he would have voted for John Roberts, but not for Samuel Alito.

Yet when Democrats in the Senate discussed the idea of filibustering Alito, Harold Ford carried water for the White House, and even used their talking points. “Absent extraordinary circumstances, nominees to the Supreme Court deserve an up-or-down vote.” If those words sound familiar, they were spoken by every Republican to get in front of a camera, as well as every right wing talking head on cable news. Those same Republicans thought nothing of holding up Clinton’s judicial nominees, and Ford was in Washington for ringside seats to at least some of those festivities.

This is who he is, and this is what he does. By constantly undermining Democratic positions, he helps to vilify those Democrats who actually have principles and are willing to stand by them.

But every time I think Harold Ford Jr. has run out of ways to hurt the Democratic Party and its candidates, he comes up with something new. I’m a hard person to surprise, and he still finds a way.

A few days ago, the Memphis Flyer ran a transcript of a Harold Ford Jr. event. Harold Sr. spoke on behalf of his son--- No, not that one. Well, that’s not entirely accurate--- He talked about Harold Jr. for the first half of the speech.

“And I’m asking you: when you go to that poll, don’t vote for no Steve Cohen. You vote for Jake Ford as your next congressman..”

That was a Harold Ford Jr. event, paid for by the Harold Ford for Senate campaign. That campaign is funded by Democratic donors, some of whom were steered to it by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Which is funny because… The rally ended up helping a candidate that has issued baseless attack after baseless attack against the rightfully elected Democratic nominee for the Ninth District congressional seat, State Senator Steve Cohen.

It’s bad enough that we, the Democratic voters that Harold Ford Jr. has represented for the last decade are expected to blindly vote for him when he votes against us every chance he gets. But are we expected to stand idly by as he allows his campaign events to be used to attack Democrats?

We’re told that we are. In the minds of a few narrow-minded critics, control of the Senate is worth sacrificing not only the Ninth District House seat, but the long term future health of the Democratic Party.

“If you’re so unhappy, vote for him now and try to beat him in the primaries in six years,” we’re told. That strategy works SO well. Lieberman filed as an independent and is now eight points ahead of Lamont, thanks to the support he built with Republicans by voting their agenda for years. Ford’s record and Lieberman’s record look more alike than the Olsen twins. So Connecticut’s problem today looks like Tennessee’s six years from now if we listen to them.

The argument that we need the Senate this year is a specious one. It’s been a few years since I studied political science, but I’m not aware of too many bills becoming law without the House approving them.

As a result, my choice in the US Senate race is a simple one: None of the above.

I’m not voting Corker. And don’t even tell me about the Greens--- I’m not voting for some dreadlocked buffoon with a neck beard.

I’m voting for the one guy in the race that I trust to represent us in the US Senate---

No one.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Even Worse Than We Knew...

From Jackson Baker's masterful "Jake Ford's Attacks on Family: Then and Now":

The chronology of arrests, however, shows that at least one of them, for DUI, occurred in 1994, well after his father’s acquittal of all charges during the second of his two trials. And another charge admitted to Thursday by Jake Ford, assault against a former girl friend, occurred at some unspecified point in the ‘90s.

How can any woman fathom voting for Jake Ford at this point? Getting in a bar fight would be one thing... I could probably overlook that. But a former girlfriend? Come on...

But here's the Jake Ford money quote:

“I’m the one who inherited my father’s political sense, my brother Isaac is the one who got the business sense, and all Harold got was the name.”

Isaac is a hothead. Jake Ford has no political sense. While I may disagree with his brother much of the time, I wouldn't trade one of Harold Jr's fingernail clippings for a pile of Isaacs and Jakes.

His uncle has been indicted for taking bribes. His brother Isaac committed voter fraud. But Jake Ford has become the family's greatest disgrace.

The Wages of Spin

Jake Ford held a press conference. That's part of the playbook for a politician whose campaign is about to be rocked by scandal; When you find out that the story will be broken by a major media outlet the next day, you hold a press conference as the story goes to press so that it looks like getting the story out there was your idea.

Unfortunately for Jake, his performance at the press conference actually made his performance at the League of Women Voters debate look solid by comparison.

He had mentioned ONE arrest on the Jennings Bernard Show. In the press conference, he admitted that it was more like four, but he sounded less than convincing even when he said that. "I've been arrested, I believe, maybe four times total".

Huh? Has it happened so often that you can't remember? Personally, I've never been arrested, but I would assume that it's a more memorable event in your life than that. I think most law abiding citizens wouldn't have to guess at that one.

He says that the assault arrest was "erroneous". Is he saying that his father didn't recognize the guy that was beating him up? As in "I only thought it was my son that was breaking my ribs. It was actually the one-armed man"?

Of course, you can't really dissect the rest of his rap sheet that way--- He wouldn't go into detail about it. He spent much more time talking about Steve Cohen.

Over the course of a press conference that lasted less than fourteen minutes, the story evolved from "hitting the car of a 79-year-old woman" to "breaking out her headlamps" to "breaking out her taillights" to "breaking out her windshield", to "jumping up and down on her car" to "assaulting a 79-year-old woman".

Eventually, you have to find a version of the story and stick with it, Jake. A little consistency is all we ask.

And of crouse, he follows it up with this little gem. When a reporter asked him "By focusing on this alleged beating of this woman, aren't you just engaging in the kind of behavior that you're criticizing Steve Cohen for?", referring to the fact that Jake Ford had said several times over the course of the press conference that it's Cohen's fault this is coming up.

"Absolutely not," Jake said. "That's why I showed up here today. If I was criticizing him, I wouldn't have showed up."

This muddled statement, had it been made by a man of similar intellect, would have been called a "Bushism".

Of course, the best part was when he was asked why he hadn't brought this out earlier if it was no big deal, and he turned on the reporters.

"Again, it's public information. I would assume that you all would be doing your jobs on behalf of the people of Memphis."

Just like the arrests themselves, it's all someone else's fault.

The media, if anything, deserves a thank you note from the Ford campaign. Every day that he's been in this race has been a fresh opportunity for him to do the right thing and get out in front of this story. Every day, he's woken up and chosen not to. Yet in his mind, it's Steve Cohen's fault that it's out there, and it's the media's fault that he has to talk about it now.

And of course, none of it was his fault at the time of the arrests. Depending on which excuse you like better, it was "erroneous" (Press conference) or "mistaken identity and discrimination" (Commercial Appeal).

Either way, it's a pathetic excuse from a pathetic candidate.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jake Ford's Arrest Record

I wasn't expecting it online until much later tonight, but the Commercial Appeal has given us a taste of tomorrow morning's cover story: Jake's arrest record.

Go check it out. Try to keep a straight face as he insists that getting arrested over and over is simply a case of "mistaken identity" and discrimination.

Also try to keep a straight face as he pretends that the stress of his father's indictment for bank fraud was so overwhelming that little Jake had no option other than attacking his father and breaking his ribs.

And I know it's tough--- But try and keep a straight face when he makes the absurd claim that slamming a fist into someone's car is the same as beating up your father.

Go ahead. Read it without laughing. I dare you. It's really pretty damn funny when a guy that was picked up on a marijuana bust tries to tell all of us that it's a horrible thing if medicinal marijuana is legalized, easing the suffering of chemotherapy patients and glaucoma sufferers.

Marijuana to ease pain and nausea = BAD.

Marijuana because you're a young wannabe thug that likes to get stoned = GOOD.

What a... JOKE. Bounce this buffoon out of the race and let him crawl back under the rock from whence he came.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Eternal Bosom of Hot Love, Scare Tactics, and the MMA

North Korea has been in the news for the last several days because they’ve allegedly tested a nuclear weapon. But did it really even happen?

Is anyone suspicious of the fact that the Financial Times website has overhead satellite views of the North Korean nuclear facilities, yet the North Koreans managed to test a nuclear weapon in the one pocket of the world not covered by aerial satellites?

Would Kim Jong Il try to pump up his nation’s image by creating the myth of a nuclear test? At home, he tells the North Koreans that international leaders abroad refer to him by a series of absurd honorifics including “The Eternal Bosom of Hot Love”, “Master of the Computer Who Surprised the World”, and “Present-day God”. He also claims to have scored 38 under par the first time he ever played golf, so the idea of him stretching the truth to grandiose proportions is not an unrealistic notion.

It’s certainly true that a seismic event was detected in North Korea the day the test is alleged to have happened. South Korea measured it at 3.6 on the Richter scale. To put that number into perspective, the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994 was a 6.7--- 1000 times stronger than the seismic event measured in North Korea that day. The South Koreans estimate that to trigger the kind of seismic event that took place in North Korea, the blast was equivalent to 550 tons of TNT. The bombs we dropped on Japan over half a century ago are estimated to have been the equivalent of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. If nuclear fission even took place that day, it carried less explosive power than some of our traditional munitions.

Is this cause to take this lightly? Not quite. The thoughts of a leader such as Kim Jong Il in possession of even the weakest nuclear weapon is a discomforting thought. It’s estimated (Again, assuming that what the North Koreans have told us is true) that they have enough fissionable material to make between 4 and 13 nuclear weapons, depending upon the size. In the meantime, every ship coming out of North Korea is closely watched by our intelligence agencies. Those are their only delivery systems--- Their missile that they claimed could reach the west coast of the United States crashed less than a minute after liftoff when it was tested in July, traveling only slightly less distance than a Jason Giambi foul ball before crashing.

The greatest danger of the North Korea situation is not some attack from North Korea. As much as Kim refers to himself as “the Supreme Commander at the Forefront of the Struggle Against Imperialism and the United States”, in the grand scheme of things, he’s a mosquito at worst.

The greatest danger is that while the media and the government focus their attention on this, we’re letting the greatest danger to America fester.

And no--- I’m not talking about Iran. Much like North Korea, Iran has no long range delivery options for a nuclear weapon, and a navy that consists of slightly more than three guys in a fishing boat.

I’m talking about Pakistan.

Pakistan is, at the same time, our greatest ally and our greatest adversary in the search for al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts. The ties between the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) and the Taliban has been well documented.

President Pervez Musharraf has handed us high value al Qaeda targets in the past; When he did, he was averaging one attempt on his life per week. Scarcely a public appearance went by without shots being fired, or an explosion near his motorcade.

We’re not getting any high value targets out of Pakistan these days. Perhaps not coincidentally, there are no more major attempts on Musharraf’s life. This is a compromise position--- He’s giving us enough “middle management” types to keep us happy, while handing over absolutely no one of value.

Meanwhile, Dr. A.Q. Khan, the Johnny Appleseed of the nuclear arms race, is a free man. President Musharraf claims he’s under “house arrest”, but no one’s really all that clear on what that means. Khan is hailed as a hero in Pakistan for having brought his nation the bomb (Before selling it to others as well), so anything too closely resembling real punishment could bring violent repercussions to the Musharraf government.

But these factors aren’t the genuine reason for alarm. As long as Musharraf is in power, there is a balance in Pakistan that we might not be able to take anything resembling true comfort in, but that we can live with.

The real problem arises when Musharraf is no longer in power.

The Muttahida Majils-e-Amal (MMA) is a coalition of Islamist parties operating in Pakistan. They’ve been met with some degree of success, controlling many of the regional governments found in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. They operate largely in rural areas and rule with a Taliban-esque emphasis on Sharia.

Their influence is being felt in urban areas as well. Go into Peshawar, Karachi, or Jalalabad, and you’ll see advertisements on billboards where the faces of women have been very precisely cut out. The men that believe that a woman is sinning by showing her face don’t rule these areas, but they certainly operate with relative impunity.

Discovery Times did a phenomenal show on the MMA once, and several members proudly looked into the camera and pledged their allegiance to the Taliban, and swore revenge on the people that forced the Taliban from power.

The border region of Pakistan is also rich with guns. You won’t recognize the names, but the designs are easy enough to recognize. The arms makers on the streets of Peshawar buy one of every gun on the market, take it apart, and learn how to make every single part of it. The Street Sweeper, a 12 gauge shotgun that fires shells out of a drum like a machine gun, retails for about $2700 new in America. The Pakistani equivalent of roughly $30 US can get you a clone from one of Pakistan’s many street entrepreneurs.

The idea of the MMA gaining power legitimately is far from a longshot. They are one successful social movement away from a majority hold in Pakistan’s parliament, and they would be allowed to choose the next president. I’ve seen video of their rallying cry--- Crowds of them marching down the street together, singing “Death to America, death to Musharraf”. If we move into Iran, we could very well see that happen. A frightened people are a radicalized people, and they will support the strong-arm tactician every time.

Or, with the abundance of inexpensive firearms, they could simply overwhelm the relatively weak Pakistani military.

No matter which way they rise to power, one unimaginable nightmare comes true---

The second coming of the Taliban takes control of a nuclear armed state.

The second that happens, the genuine clash of civilizations begins. We would literally have no choice--- For as distasteful as it may be, we would have no option other than a preemptive attack. We can’t leave their facilities standing. We can’t have Dr. Khan helping to rebuild the facilities.

War would be the best case scenario. We might well have no option other than a nuclear attack, and that’s assuming for a moment that India doesn’t beat us to the punch. With North Korea or Iran, we can rely on the need for the self-preservation of these nations to stave off the attack. The MMA’s closest ideological brethren are men without a country that believe in playing the odds as to whether or not we’ll attack them if they hide among civilians.

Our foreign policy is one tragic mistake built upon another. The tragic mistake of our current focus on North Korea is that it distracts us from the threat down the road. And the tragic mistake of our focus on Iran is that it brings the nightmare scenario described in this article closer to reality.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anna Politkovskaya

Journalism, at its best, goes beyond the bald recitation of facts. Sometimes it fails, and sometimes it succeeds, but it always carries the responsibility of giving a voice to the voiceless. It gives us facts we do not know while giving us a perspective that we can’t find anywhere else.

Such a journalist was Anna Politkovskaya.

The Chechen struggle for independence from Russia has been undermined and overshadowed by the violent acts of a handful of extremists. Everyone knows of the downing of the Russian jetliners and the horrific siege at Beslan.

Not everyone is as familiar with Chechen separatists being picked up by Russian military or police and being found dead days later, or the routine beatings doled out by Russian authorities as they struggle to hang onto the last remnants of their former empire. Nor are they familiar with the stories of Chechens crowded into refugee camps, nor had they heard the tales told by injured Russian soldiers fighting an insurrection for reasons that no one could explain in terms that made any sense.

Those were the stories that Anna Politkovskaya told. And perhaps they were the stories that got her killed. She was murdered in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building yesterday.

Russia can be a dangerous place to be a journalist. Politkovskaya’s death makes her the 23rd Russian journalist murdered in the last decade, and the 12th since Vladimir Putin’s rise to power. The murders generally consist of a modus operandi familiar to policemen that routinely see contract killings--- Two shots close up with a small caliber gun, which is abandoned at the scene with no fingerprints on it. This was no exception.

Politkovskaya had left Russia for a short time in 2001 after receiving threats from Sergei Lapin, a Russian military officer that had been the subject of one of her stories dealing with the Russian military torturing civilians.

When Chechen separatists seized a Moscow theater, she was one of a handful of individuals that was allowed to go inside and try to negotiate an end to the crisis. When Chechens seized the school in Beslan, she was on her way to negotiate a settlement when she fell mysteriously ill on the plane with something closely resembling food poisoning shortly after drinking a cup of tea.

The odds that we’ll ever learn who killed her or why are slim. The Russian government doesn’t tend to vigorously pursue people who silence its critics. Such is the environment created by Vladimir Putin, one of our “partners in peace” that, like many of our other “partners in peace”, tends to do things and allow things that make American skin crawl.

As we all grew up, we were all taught to detest the Soviet Union for the way it treated its people. Among the many reasons we were given were the fact that it had no free press.

The Soviet Union is a memory now. But there’s still no free press, apparently. If the Russian government has nothing to do with these murders, then it certainly doesn’t care who did.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Damn Yankees.

Yet another year of postseason humiliation... You would think that as damn much as Steinbrenner pays for the team, they would be unbeatable.

But no, my boys have yet again found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory...

Friday, October 06, 2006

La Cage Aux Foley II: Got Irony?

Man, someone has to hit me with some instructions on how to get footage from my cable DVR into the computer and upload it onto YouTube...

I love those "To Catch a Predator" shows on Dateline NBC. I'm violently opposed to adults preying on underage kids for sex, and I damn near jump up and cheer every time one of these sick bastards gets put in the cuffs.

I was watching one tonight--- After all this Foley stuff this week, I could stand a pick me up. I like knowing that, unlike Dennis Hastert and others, there are indeed people willing to step up and protect underage kids.

As the show drew to a close, they ran a teaser talking about Mark Foley. So I started recording.

Until I figure out how to do the whole video thing, here's a transcript:

Voiceover: As the Pedaluma Police book the last of the men arrested in this operation the total number of sex predators exposed by Dateline rises to 179.

The attention our investigations receive has grown as well; All the way to Capitol Hill.

[Cut to Sen. Bill First on the Senate floor]
Frist: Dateline was able to nab fifty internet child sex predators.

[Cut to footage of Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) walking and waving]
Voiceover: But in the last week, the issue of online sexual misconduct has been in the spotlight in Washington for a whole different reason.

Congressman Mark Foley, the man who championed the Child Protection Act of 2006, resigned after inappropriate emails and instant messages surfaced that he sent to former congressional pages.

Ironically, Foley went on MSNBC's Scarborough Country to talk about this very issue.

Scarborough: Mark, are you telling me that courts across this country are saying it's a pervert's right to send an email to a 14 year old kid?

Foley: [Nodded his head the entire time Scarborough asked the question] We have been foiled, if you will, by the courts repeatedly by using the First Amendment and people's right to have free speech... That's why we tried to toughen the laws. That's why we tried to create a more difficult time for predators to roam free.

Voiceover: And Foley even praised Dateline.

Foley: The Dateline piece has probably done more than any law we could create. Hopefully, more people will be forewarned...

Voiceover: And ironically adding...

Foley: And certainly, more people that have seen this segment that may be thinking about interacting with a child may go ahead and get mental health counseling.

As my friend Pesky might say, I'm shitting you negative. You simply cannot make this stuff up.

Chism Endorses Cohen

“I am going to vote for every Democratic nominee, including Senator Cohen.” - County Commissioner Sidney Chism

Read Jackson Baker's fine article by clicking here.

In addition, Governor Phil Bredesen and Mayor Herenton voiced their support for Cohen. Cohen, Herenton, and Chism all voiced their support for Harold Ford Jr. in his Senate race.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Harold Ford Jr. Gets the OJ Treatment

“They have darkened Harold Ford’s image to make a racist statement,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke told the Knoxville News Sentinel in reference to the photograph of Representative Harold Ford Jr. (TN-9) used in a recent piece of direct mail distributed by the Tennessee Republican Party on behalf of the Bob Corker Senate campaign.

The campaign literature in question features a very dark image of Harold Ford Jr. next to a solicitation of “emergency contributions” for the Corker campaign.

The image in question is an edited version of a photograph taken on June 29, 2004 when he met with the staff at Baptist Hospital to discuss healthcare issues. The original photograph can be found on Rep. Ford’s congressional website.

Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Chris Devaney told Tom Humphrey of the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the photograph “was not enhanced in any way”.

The three photos to the left are three different versions of the photograph in question. The one on the left is a cropped version of what is on Rep. Ford’s congressional site. The one in the center has had the color removed via Photoshop. And the photograph on the right is the version that ran in the TN GOP mailer.

See the full story at the River City Mud Bugle website.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


And the First to Fall on the Sword Is…

Kirk Fordham, Chief of Staff for Rep. Tom Reynolds. CNN is developing a story that he’s resigned in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal.

It had to have been expected, as Reynolds’ reelection is anything but a shoo-in. Fordham managed three of Foley’s campaigns, and was his chief of staff until 2004, when he left to join the Mel Martinez campaign for the US Senate.

Fordham claims that he didn’t tell Reynolds anything about the instant messages until last week. Whether that’s the truth or not remains to be seen, and certainly doesn’t negate Hastert’s role in the scandal.

Fordham resigning and saying that he didn’t tell Reynolds provides a neat little firebreak between Foley and the NRCC.

Convenient, huh?

La Cage Aux Foley

The Republican Party going through the obligatory crisis-handling steps on the Foley scandal. Get the guy into rehab whether he has a substance abuse problem or not. Check. Blame the victim. Check.

If they're successful, they can have his image rehabbed in time for prom season.

One thing they will not be able to do, however, is dodge the issue of when the presumably sober Dennis Hastert and Tom Reynolds knew, and why they did nothing to stop this.

With Reynolds, the answer might well be apparent. Increasingly, it appears that Mark Foley might have given him 100,000 reasons not to speak up. Michael Jackson has to be reading these news reports, thinking "Why did we not think of that?" Student-banging schoolteachers across the country are reaching for their checkbooks. They should form a PAC.

The really funny thing is watching the right wing media scramble. Sean Hannity has found a way to blame this on "Clenis" (Unfortunately for him, his case hinged on not being called out for lying about Monica's age).

And Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has decided that it is strictly a gay issue, and that tolerance has led us to this scandal.

Yes, there you have it. Only gays target underage children for sex. In this bold rewrite of history, Jerry Lee Lewis's 13-year-old bride has been changed from a female cousin to a male cousin. All the 30-year-old rednecks you saw driving around the fifteen-year-old girls at school were really just hoping to be good friends.

Of course. Blame gays. You knew that train was coming. It may have gotten here a few minutes early, or a few minutes late, but it always gets there.

In the rush by conservatives to blame gays, they have to ask themselves: Is Dennis Hastert gay too? For him not to have raised any objection to this, you would have to assume he thinks it's okay.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Like Scary Movies?

The most terrifying movie this year isn't the Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot... There are no slashers, no monsters, no Orcs, and no goblins anywhere to be found

Just one ghost and a guy who came back to life.

"Jesus Camp"

Here's a nice clip of the kiddies worshipping a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush. Don't knock it--- It could outsmart the real thing.

When I was reading up on this movie, someone referred to the CAP Christian movie reviews of other films. I got there, and this was a fine sample of what I found.

From their Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring review:

"...the Wanton Violence/Crime and Offense to God scores were both zero, indicating an extremely graphic movie in violence and extremely concentrated in unholy/evil issues...

The bottom line is that God clearly commands that witchcraft, sorcery and wizardry are evil. He gives no situations under which these evils are not evil: no conditions under which these evils may be tolerated. There is no such thing as a "good" witch. Not even Wendy."

Be careful. These folks mean what they say.

What a Democrat.

Unbelievable. If voting to allow torture wasn't enough, Harold Ford has now voted yes on HR 5825 (Text here), also known as the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act.

For those unfamiliar with HR 5825, here is the single most important thing to know about it.

The FISA Act of 1978 already allowed the NSA to run surveillance on a target for up to 72 hours without a warrant, but after that 72 hours, they had to justify it to the FISA court or drop the surveillance. Section 9 of HR 5825 allows warrantless surveillance and searches of American citizens for up to 60 days, 90 days for a foreign national, as long as the president certifies that there is an imminent threat of attack. If the original 60 or 90 days yields nothing, it's okay--- As long as the president still says there's an imminent threat, it's all good.

This particular president tends to say that we're under constant threat--- So it's entirely possible (Perhaps even likely) that there will never come a time when our government under current leadership will feel the need to ever submit a warrant to the FISA court.

This, simply put, is yet another power grab by a White House that has proven time and again that if they are given power, they not only abuse it but fail miserably in the process.

Once a congressman surrenders the power of his office, he doesn't get it back. And by agreeing to HR 5825, Harold Ford Jr. surrendered the power of his office and your right to privacy.

A few months ago, we were all discussing the illegal surveillance program run by this White House. The House of Representatives just legitimized it, and Harold Ford helped them out with it.

This is where he does the greatest damage to the nation and his party. There are Democrats out there willing to stand tall, defend the Constitution, and defend the rights of the American people to live their lives without government intrusion. With votes such as this one, he undermines their efforts.

Frankly, I'm beginning (Okay, maybe not quite beginning) to wonder if Bob Corker actually stands to the left of our hometown Democrat. With this vote, Harold Ford Jr. positioned himself to the right of thirteen House Republicans.

*Special hat tip to my friend Wintermute for forwarding the roll call to me and inspiring this one.

The George Allen Insult Generator

One of the coolest things I've seen on Slate in a long time.

Click here, then pick your demographic from the drop-down menu and click "Insult me!" For some interesting double talk, click "Explain yourself, Senator" afterward.

George Allen Insult Generator