Thursday, December 28, 2006

At Least He Wasn't Senile...

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

Late US ex-president Ford disagreed with Iraq war

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In Case You Forgot Her Christmas Gift...

Here's a little something courtesy of SNL.

District 30

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

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

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

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

Get Up (Get On Up)

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

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

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



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




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

And Then There Were Three...

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

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

Goodbye, Mr. President.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Santa, Baby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Open Letter to Mary Cheney

Miss Cheney,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious.

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

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

Again, congratulations.

Yours truly,
The Freedonian

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Can Senate District 30 Afford Robert Spence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Make Sure You Clip This Coupon In Sunday's Paper



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

FREE EC DAY

MEMPHIS REGIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD

OFFERING FREE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION DEC. 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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