Wednesday, November 29, 2006

30%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

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

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

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

RIP, Dave Cockrum


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

I just wish mine was under happier circumstances.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Wal-Martyrs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving in LA

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

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


1. THE ALL-IN- ONE GAS STATION

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

OH - way more.


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

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






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

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

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

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


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

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


3. THE LSU DEER:

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

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


Monday, November 20, 2006

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

Sick, sick bastards.

Feeling Drafty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Message from Liz Rincon

To All of Those Who Helped and Voted:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

Hoyer Elected Majority Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The March of the Lame Ducks

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

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

The Lame Duck Senate must filibuster them both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 10, 2006

Volunteering for Jury Duty...

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sad News...

Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes died of leukemia today.

The Empire Strikes Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, more like two notches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Throw the GOP Down the Well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everybody!

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

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

House of Blues (and the Senate too!)

To quote my favorite fictional democrat:

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

--Josh Lyman

That pretty much sums it up for all Dems.

PS: CONGRATULATIONS CONGRESSMAN COHEN!!!

Election '06--- The End of an Era

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Days like today are well worth the hangover.

Thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me either.

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

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

Monday, November 06, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mr. Burgess,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate you too.