Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Sad Day...

The Texas Observer, the home newspaper of the great Molly Ivins, is now reporting that she has lost her battle with breast cancer.

Did Biden Really Shoot the Pooch or Not?

Joe Biden's verbal snafu has been blogged about quite extensively today. Bob and Pesky Fly both covered it quite well today.

I'm not Joe Biden's biggest fan. But I would be quite interested to hear the recording the NY Observer reporter made (Surely he recorded, right?). Biden't not the smoothest talker in the world, but even George W. Bush wouldn't make so fundamental a mistake.

Which is why I want to hear the recording. I want to see where in that statement he paused.

Read the following two passages and tell me the difference between them. It's subtle, but it's huge if you spot it.

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

See the difference between them?

The first version, as reported by the Observer: It implies that Obama is the first African American that is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

The second version says something a little different. The comma, or lack thereof, has changed the meaning of the sentence. It says Obama is the first mainstream African-American candidate (Not technically true, but the first with a real chance at the nomination), and goes on to describe him as "articulate, bright and clean and a nice-looking guy".

I'm no fan of Joe Biden--- But before we toss him under the bus, should we perhaps make some effort to ascertain whether or not this is simply sloppy punctuation by a reporter?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Get On the Doubletalk Express!

Ha! And you thought John Kerry was a flip flopper...

My father always used to tell me when we discussed politics that he thought John McCain was "crazy as a shithouse bug". Of course, Dad was a lifelong Republican voter that hated McCain for the few times he voted with Democrats.

But after seeing McCain's little meltdown in Davos, I'm beginning to think Dear Old Dad was right.

Toward the end of the conversation, I raised my hand and asked McCain:

"Given that you've said that you are 'scared to death that it's going to be a very hot spring in Afghanistan,' and given that you have also said, repeatedly, that only a substantial increase in troops in Iraq would make a real difference, why not send the 21,000 troops headed to Iraq, in what is clearly an act of desperation, to Afghanistan instead?"

During his response, McCain equated those opposing his position with "the far left."

"Do you consider Sam Brownback part of the far left?" I jumped in.

The Senator flared and told me that if I'd only let him finish his answer instead of interrupting, we could have "a civil discussion."

He then continued on about why he supports the escalation (see his speech to the AIE if you need a refresher). Along the way, he denied that he had used the phrase "the far left."

Wow, I thought, the Straight Talk Express has run so far off the rails McCain is now denying things he'd said in front of close to two-dozen note-taking journalists not half-a-minute before.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Freedonian Sunday Night Music Club - The Late, Great Eva Cassidy

"She could sing anything . . . and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered." -- Richard Harrington, The Washington Post, Nov. 17, 1996

"A lot of people have covered my songs. And it's a strange emotion, you know, because your own songs are like your own babies. I mean you might hear someone reinterpreting them and maybe you don't agree with what they've done. But this version was just so pure, so excellent, that I was deeply moved by it, and so happy that she covered it. Eva's is one of the best versions of my song I've ever heard...There is something about her voice - a quality - that you can't really put into words. It's a magical quality. People respond to its purity. It suggests something ethereal-- something unattainable.” – Sting

Last night, I had a rare pleasure--- I introduced someone very near and dear to me to the music of Eva Cassidy. Her haunting voice, silenced by cancer in 1996 just as the sun was beginning to rise on what I believe would have been a stellar career, lives on in a mere handful of recordings.

This isn’t an actual live video--- The night of this live recording, her friend videotaped only the second set she played and not the first. No true video of her playing this song exists. But the audio is indeed recorded live at Blues Alley in Washington DC.

But this will do.

“Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy

Although the audio quality is sketchy, this video shows you why Cyndi Lauper should thank her stars every day for Eva Cassidy--- Once Cassidy came along and showed her how “True Colours” should be performed, Lauper did an acoustic version based on it and became relevant again.

Enjoy. And check out some more of her work. A voice that beautiful deserves regular listening.

Molly Ivins Still Not Dead

Before anyone gets too angry about that headline, it was one recommended by Ms. Ivins herself.

But she is indeed gravely ill. A year ago, she was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer for the third time (First in 1999, the second in 2003). She had taken some time off to receive chemotherapy, and returned to her column earlier this month. She vowed that her column would be dedicated to one cause and one cause alone--- The end of the war in Iraq. Sadly, she only got onne column published before being hospitalized again.

We would all do well to remember her in our thoughts and prayers.

And if you don't own any of her books, then there's a very fun way to help her out financially as she fights this dreadful disease. I can personally vouch for the first two, as they are masterpieces.

Bushwhacked: Life In George W. Bush's America by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known by Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly Ivins

You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You by Molly Ivins

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fox- All the News That Matters

War? Nah.

State of the Union? Nah.

Hamas and Fatah going to war with one another? Nope.

Fox News took time to give us the really important news of the day.
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Hat tip to Rachel Sklar at Eat the Press

Friday, January 26, 2007

Who To Target Next Time Around

Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) put forward an amendment to repeal the Federal Minimum Wage completely, which would have reverted some states back to their individual minimum wages set at $2.65 per hour. And these are the Senators that voted with him on it:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)

Some are no surprise at all. But anyone running for president this year should be smart enough to not alienate the entire working class, as McCain (A likely candidate) and Brownback (Already announced as a candidate) did with this vote.

I'll link to Bob Geiger, who got the story up before I did and did a hell of a job here and here.

District 30 Wrapup

The voters spoke yesterday, and in much greater numbers than I anticipated based on the poor early voting numbers. And as my good friend in Crackerville was the first to point out, Beverly Marrero won a resounding landslide victory over Robert Spence, who has proven yet again that you can’t simply spend your way into victory.

In a world where a dullard president can squeak by on 2% and call it a mandate (As opposed to the thing he usually calls a “man date”), the 3 to 1 margin of victory of Marrero over longtime Herentonian Spence is nothing short of astounding.

The last time Spence ran for public office, he managed to spend over $100,000 on a school board race (Yes, you read that right--- School board race) and still only managed a humiliating third place.

I haven’t seen current numbers, so I’m not certain what he spent this time around. But buying an ad on every bus stop in the city couldn’t have been cheap, and the brochures littering the floor at Huey’s the other night certainly didn’t appear to have been done on the cheap.

So to all the well-heeled donors that donated to Spence once again in this campaign cycle, I implore you--- There are better ways to spend the money that simply must have been burning holes in your pockets. I can name dozens of worthwhile charities if need be. Even stimulating the economy with a shopping spree would be a preferable alternative to trying to help the mayor make his handpicked successor look electable.

Money simply isn’t enough to get into office anymore. A well funded campaign with nothing behind it is like an ad campaign without a product to sell.

In the last year, the voters have done a great job of rejecting candidates that didn’t stand for anything. The Republicans are on their heels, and the Republican Lite wing of the Democratic Party is in shambles (With the exception of Rosalind Kurita, who seems to be thriving in the Ron Ramsey Senate). In Spence, the voters looked and saw not only a Herenton henchman, but they saw everything that they’ve rejected for the last year.

And they rejected it by over a three to one margin yesterday.

Well, You Told Me To Write Whatever I Wanted.

Sometimes, there’s a guy at the party so drunk that he doesn’t know he’s pissed his own pants. Obliviously, he continues dancing, never noticing that everyone near him covers his or her own nose and laughs.

Usually, there are a few kind people in any crowd that will try to gently pull him to the side and say “Man, go home, shower, and change your pants”. They’re never greeted very well by the urine-soaked fellow dancing the night away, and they usually end up looking at each other, shrugging, and saying “Well, we tried”.

When Thaddeus Matthews first advanced the tinfoil hat theory that Kevin Gallagher was running some kind of a stealth campaign to try to get himself elected to the Tennessee State Senate despite having publicly withdrawn, I suspect that most people knew it was total horseshit. Autoegocrat, Brassmask, and I all showed up to try to convince Thad that he was wrong about all this.

How did he take it? He popped off at Autoegocrat, then at me. Notably, he ignored Brassmask, who told him about the mailer Gallagher sent out saying “Don’t vote for me”. His words to me were “Freedonian, I don’t give a fuck what you think period” and “I have no reason to think that you’re telling me anything straight”.

Here’s your reason: I’m a pretty smart guy. I tend to pay attention to what’s going on around me. When a friend of mine is running a campaign, I generally notice--- Particularly when it’s someone that campaigns as damn hard as Kevin does.

I wish there had been something to what you said--- When he first got into this race, I was looking forward to getting to vote for him. I’m pleased with the Marrero victory, but I’ll make no bones about it--- She wasn’t my first choice. I know enough people that agree with me on that that it doesn’t entirely surprise me that a handful of people kept their Gallagher yard signs up. He still got almost 90 votes--- Not a bad showing for a guy that dropped out of the race almost a month ago. Had it not been for the “please don’t vote for me” mailer, he might have even beaten Robert Spence.

But he didn’t. He didn’t try. He quit trying to win when he said he did.

So in the future, when people are trying to keep you from humiliating yourself, please do yourself a favor and listen. I’m not entirely sure how much you care about these kinds of things, but you were smearing someone yesterday that had done nothing to deserve it. And yes, I wanted the true story to be told. I’m real funny that way.

Last night, I was celebrating Beverly Marrero’s victory--- With Kevin Gallagher. So if this half baked theory is to be believed, then he maintained such a good cover that even in defeat, he was celebrating. Impressive, huh? The KGB in its prime never did so well. He certainly seemed overjoyed with the Marrero victory.

Now, as far as your “whore” allegations go--- Who’s the bigger whore? The guy that dropped out and helped another candidate like he said he would, or the guy who railed against the mayor for ages, then made a last minute attempt to throw an election to an unelectable Herentonian flunkie?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not Saying It's True, BUT...

...I just wanted to show what was on the minds of the voters.

'Twas the week of election and all through the city

The voters were agrumble; Their choices were shitty

I convened with liberals both meek and hardy

To doff beer downtown at the State of the Union Party

As the party broke up, some went to Huey's

(Breaking rhyme pattern because what rhymes with Huey's?)

Spence poster on the window, brochures at the door

And more than a few wadded up on the floor

And what to my wondering eyes did appear

When I stepped to the urinal to return rented beer?


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Drink Some Beer and Laugh at Duhbya

Drinking Liberally
State of the Union Watch Party
Tonight @ 7:00 pm
Sleep Out Louie's
88 Union Ave.
Memphis, TN 38103

Link to the evite invitation for more info:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dennis Miller--- Crackhead.

I tuned in to Hannity & Colmes tonight to watch Congressman Steve Cohen being interviewed (Well, that's kind of a loose description--- I watched him get shouted over by the always beligerent Sean Hannity more than anything else) and saw the most over the top, "I'm embarrassed for you" rant by Dennis Miller that I've ever seen. With this commentary, he reached a previously unimaginable low--- It was so incoherent that he made Stone Temple Pilots lyrics sound Dickensian by comparison.

His subject matter: The attack on the Yale singing group in San Francisco. The story, for those that are unfamiliar with it, is simple enough to understand--- A Yale singing group was performing at a San Francisco New Year's Eve party when a group of people started shouting homophobic slurs at them, then beat them up after they launched into "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Yet somehow, on Fox News, "multiculturalism" and "diversity" are to blame--- When in reality, the attackers sound more like Fox News fans than people obsessed with diversity.

Here he is in all his glory, thanks to the miracle of DVR.

And yes, he is this stupid and incoherent--- I couldn't make this up.

Did you hear the one about the Yale singing group that got stomped lie a fat guy at Altamont for singing the National Anthem at a New Year’s Eve party in San Francisco?

The National Anthem. Folks, it’s official--- The aggrieved minority now is now [sic] the majority.

Now granted, there are times when I’ve just heard John Mellencamp’s “This Is Our Country” for the eight hundred fifty seventh time in forty minutes, and I contemplate living abroad, but short of that, what is wrong with a little patriotism?

Every freakshow life choice in the world is now celebrated in San Fran, except what they deem to be “square”. You know, a guy taking a whiz in the middle of Union Square is celebrated as a Uremic Stream Corrosion Artist, but woe unto you if you crank up “The Star Spangled Banner”.

So this is what comes of San Francisco’s migraine-inducing fixation with diversity, multiculturalism, and moral relativism? Hatred for a Glee Club?

You know, the liberal ideal is folded back in on itself like a Tarentino script and is now beginning to feed on the host organism. Nineteen losers jammed into a Scooby Doo van, just cruising around, looking to beat up some singers. HEY YOU IDIOTS! Even Ken Kesey eventually got himself a nice midsize.

And how did nineteen attackers show up so quickly? One phone call. To the San Francisco City Council. No doubt if someone had cranked up the Iranian national anthem, there would have been that quivering, tilted head, slightly nodding, misty-eyed moment of unspoken reverence for “the other”.

Well mark me down for the home team and OUR school song. You know, after these kids heal up, Pashmina Pelosi should open a session of the House by having them sing the national anthem. She should, but she won’t because she’d have to hide behind the podium like Elvira when Kolchak flashed a crucifix at her.

Oh, and by the way, how many hours a day does Pelosi and her scarf wrangler [sic] spend adjusting and readjusting for a perfect drape on her juji-fruit-colored neck gear?

You know, maybe in the future, all glee clubs entering the Bay Area should first make a physique adjustment stop at the epicenter of muscle enhancement, Barry Bonds’ house for a few nibbles off whatever multigrain wafer he used to go from lanky newcomer to Bib, the Michelin Man overnight.

Back to you, Hans and Frans.

The March of the Illiterati

I admit, when I first heard the headline regarding legislation that would require bloggers to register as lobbyists, I was more than a little concerned. I started doing some homework on it though, and did something that very few bothered to do---

I read the bill.

Shocking, huh?

The alarm had been raised over Section 220 of S.1, the new lobbying reform bill, which allegedly required bloggers with over 500 readers to register as lobbyists. Senator David Vitter was being hailed as a hero of the First Amendment because he proposed an amendment that would strike Section 220. And the amendment passed.

But Section 220 never dealt with blogs such as this one, or even Daily Kos, Andrew Sullivan, Powerline, or any of the other big names in blogging.

Why? Because Section 220 was designed to create greater transparency when the blogger is part of a PAID effort passing itself off as "grassroots", also known as "Astroturfing".

The fact that the amendment striking Section 220 passed is actually a defeat--- Not some victory for the First Amendment.

For example: I've run two pieces on this site saying that I think Robert Spence is the wrong guy to represent Senate District 30. During the last election season, I ran several saying that I thought Steve Cohen was the right guy to send to the House of Representatives.

I did this of my own free will. I was exercising my First Amendment right to state an opinion.

If I had been paid by anybody, be it campaign or party, to write any of the things I've written, then you, the reader, would deserve the right to know this. Likewise, if a rightwing blogger had been paid by the GOP to run favorable pieces on their candidates, you would have the right to know that you're reading an honest expression of opinion and not an advertisement.

And that was what Section 220 did. If the title of the section, "DISCLOSURE OF PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING" wasn't enough, then the very first paragraph could have clued you in on the intent:

(a) Definitions- Section 3 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1602) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (7), by adding at the end of the following: `Lobbying activities include paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying, but do not include grassroots lobbying.';

This is indeed a victory--- But not for those of us that believe in greater campaign transparency.

I'm doing the bloggers that acted like this was the end of the world a favor by not naming them. They're out there, and they're just literate enough to write--- Not so much on the reading part.

Kurita's Liebership

This past week I have been asked many times why I voted for a new Lt. Governor.How could I vote for someone who is not a member of my own political party? The answer is very straightforward: I voted my conscience.

That's the introduction to an email that ended up in my inbox from Pamela George, Executive Secretary to State Senator Rosalind Kurita. It's been repeated and reposted enough times that I don't really feel like I'm shortchanging anyone by not posting it in its entirety, giving Kurita yet another place to say "Them that brung me to this particular dance would do well to grab their ankles right about... now."

First, her "reasoning" is ludicrous. More from her email: "The most basic tenet of democracy is that the majority rules. In the Tennessee state Senate, Republicans have held the numerical majority for three years. Yet, we were in a "peculiar" situation where the minority continued to keep the majority in the form of the Lt. Governor. That is not our democracy."

As AC Kleinheider pointed out, if that was the case... Then wouldn't she be helping the Republican majority out on every vote? And since when is it incumbent upon a state senator elected as a Democrat to help level the playing field for Republicans? Does Alex Rodriguez feel the need to help out the other team because the Yankees' enormous payroll puts them at an unfair advantage (Okay, given A-Rod's record last year, that could be a bad example)?

If Wilder was so incompetent/corrupt/whatever negative description you want to apply to him, wouldn't the proper time to have voted against him be the caucus? She couldn't be bothered to do that--- In caucus, she voted for Wilder. Earlier in the day, she voted again for the Democratic senators to stand as one behind Wilder--- And then cast the crucial vote for Ron Ramsey. And what of Ramsey?

What about the man calling the dances on this legislative landscape that Kurita and her conscience helped to create? "We'll have a little more of a pro-business agenda. I'll make sure the Commerce Committee leans toward the business side. Things like tort reform that we've sought will be brought to the floor. "

First, it would be difficult for the law in Tennessee to carry "a little more of a pro-business agenda". We are already a state where just cause for termination sounds like some crazy liberal ideal. There's not much to Tennesee Employment Law, and what little there is can be subverted by the current system of "at will" employment. "No, I didn't fire him because he's black/Hispanic/gay--- But I don't have to list an official reason".

And what happens to someone that IS terminated unjustly? Well, that's where the second part of his statement comes into play: "Things like tort reform that we've sought will be brought to the floor". Tort reform--- The Republican stealth campaign to destroy the rights of the working class. Wrongfully terminated? Too bad--- Tort reform will restrict your rights to legal recourse. Hurt in the workplace? Welcome to the wonderful world of Republican-imposed damage caps. And no one is isolated from having to pay the high cost of tort reform--- Even if your job is "safe", you will, through your taxes, absorb the cost. After all, what happens to the employee who's injured too badly to work again? Rather than his medical costs being absorbed by the employer that provided the unsafe working environment, the tab will be picked up by you and me.

Sexually harrassed in the workplace? Too bad. Tort reform. Women's groups would do well to remember this the next time Kurita comes around begging for money.

These are the priorities of the man that Kurita handed the Senate over to. Well, that and maintaining a Tom DeLay-style money laundering operation. This is the product of Rosalind Kurita's "conscience".

Politics is not merely a numbers game, with two sides jockeying for position. It's about policy--- Something that affects the lives of every person in this state--- Something Kurita would do well to consider before her next attack of "conscience".

Inevitably, Rosalind Kurita will want to run for a bigger office. She's already run for the US Senate, and by virtue of her not being Harold Ford, people felt the need to treat her like she was some liberal savior--- Despite her voting with Republicans as often as Ford did. Denial runs deep in some corners. During her campaign, I had a gay man tell me that she told him she was "on his side" of the gay marriage issue despite having voted against it. I had a good friend of mine tell me just the other day that she was preferable to Harold Ford simply by virtue of not having voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In both cases, someone who justifiably hated the voting record of Harold Ford had decided that anyone who ran against him must be his polar opposite in some way. It's a fundamental mistake--- Incorrectly assuming that the enemy of your enemy is somehow your friend. But it's just as incorrect when progressives believe that about Rosalind Kurita and Harold Ford as it was when the president assumed that Islamic religious fanatics would bury the hatchet with a dictator that killed Islamic extremists in his own nation long enough to swap WMD recipes.

So for anyone that still has a leaning towards being a Kurita apologist, I have a short and simple exercise for you. Repeat after me:

"The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
The enemy of my enemy is not my friend."

This isn't the Nicean Creed. Don't just say the words. Think about what they mean. We've heard the phrase "voting my conscience" before. Joe Lieberman uses his own conscience as an excuse every time he gives the president "bipartisan" cover fire. So did Harold Ford.

And Rosalind Kurita might well be made Speaker Pro Tem in exchange for bringing her own unique brand of "Liebership" to the Tennessee State Senate.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

To the Citizens of District 30 - From Richard Fields

Attorney Richard Fields has purchased an ad in the Memphis Flyer that comes out today. We've been given an exclusive first look at this ad.

All District 30 voters, myself included, would do well to remember all of this as we go to the polls.

To: Citizens of State Senate District 30

From: Richard B. Fields

Re: Robert L. J. Spence, Attorney and Candidate in the Democratic
Primary for District 30

Date: January 12, 2007

My name is Richard B. Fields and I am a civil rights attorney who has practiced in Memphis since 1976. I have worked on cases involving school desegregation, racial employment discrimination involving the Memphis Fire Department, MLGW, and the Sheriff’s Department. I have also served as chairman of the legal redress committee of the local branch of the NAACP for over 20 years. Most recently, I helped stop the installation of a nuclear waste incinerator on President’s Island that would have spewed nuclear waste over South Memphis and downtown. I love this city and the people who live here.

The purpose of this letter is to warn the voters of District 30 of the danger of electing Robert L. J. Spence, Jr., to the state senate seat. Although I have championed black candidates for all political offices and have been a life-long Democrat, I felt compelled to write this letter because I have followed Robert’s career over the years and I am alarmed at the legal decisions he made and the resulting millions of dollars lost by the City of Memphis because of his faulty advice and his personal pursuit of wealth to the detriment of the citizens of Memphis. Ironically, I supported Robert when he was appointed City Attorney and signed a petition for him in his race for school board of the behest of some of my close friends. I now apologize to the citizens of Memphis and this letter is part of my repentance for not recognizing earlier Robert’s inability to work for the public good.

Some of the outrageous examples of Robert’s legal advice include:

1. Robert advised the City of Memphis not to settle with Bellsouth concerning a franchise tax that was declared invalid by the Tennessee Court of Appeals and review was denied by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The estimated liability to the City of Memphis could be as high as $25 million.

2. Robert approved a contract with the architectural firm hired for overseeing the Cannon Center construction who ultimately caused a cost over-run of $16 million – with the contract only providing for $1 million in malpractice coverage on a $25 million project.

3. Robert tried to get Mayor Herenton to sign an open-ended contract when he set up a law firm pending his retirement for a fee of $300 per hour for all outside work for the City of Memphis. The Mayor commissioned Lucian Pera, the coordinating attorney of the new Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, to review the contract and the arrangement Robert proposed. Mr. Pera found that Robert’s actions were a conflict of interest. The law firm was never formed, but Robert was able to retire with an immediate lifetime pension of over $30,000 per year.

4. An associate of Robert’s wrote in the Memphis Bar Association Journal about Robert’s involvement as chief negotiator for the City in the FedEx Forum contract negotiations where he allegedly worked for 4 weeks at 18 hour days to finalize the contract. We later learned that he approved that the City use $6 million of state transportation money for the bus terminal that was not built. As recently as December 13, 2006, he denied that he advised the Mayor to sign a contract that was in direct conflict with another contract promising the Grizzlies use of the $6 million for parking places. His signatures were on both contracts. The City has now had to defer building roads and streets in the amount of $6 million and the FBI is investigating the contracts.

5. Finally, after Robert retired from the City Attorney position in 2004, he began to represent RACE, a company who proposed to build a nuclear incinerator on President’s Island, blocks away from neighborhoods in South Memphis and a few miles away from downtown Memphis. At the same time, Robert was general counsel to the Riverfront Development Corporation whose purpose is to preserve and develop the Downtown riverfront. His wife Dorcelle, who also serves as an executive for the Riverfront Development Corporation at a salary of $100,000 per year, sent an email supporting the nuclear incinerator.

Fortunately, a coalition of black and white citizens from Downtown and South Memphis organized and stopped construction of the incinerator.

This letter is my own opinion. Since there is only one other candidate in the state senate democratic primary, Beverly Marrero, I urge all citizens to vote for her. This special primary election is on January 25, 2007. Early voting is taking place now.

I have always subscribed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful words that some day people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Robert L. J. Spence, Jr.’s character is flawed as he puts his own interests over those of the black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and other citizens of Memphis. I have taught my children (who are biracial and black) that when you go out in the world no one knows your father is a white attorney. You must treat all people fairly as you want to be treated regardless of skin color. With that in mind, if Robert’s children had attended the daycare that was within blocks of the proposed nuclear incinerator, would he have so passionately defended the company that proposed to put it there?

Please distribute this letter to your friends and neighbors so they can make an informed choice in the State Senate District 30 Democratic Primary.

Monday, January 15, 2007

They Don't Know Jack.

The conservatives I know have long loved "24". It's the perfect escapist world for those who need delusionary right wing beliefs reinforced. In the world of Jack Bauer, a tortured detainee never makes up a fake story just to stop his interrogators from beating him. And guns make the world a better place because bullets always hit their intended target or lodge harmlessly into a wall rather than hitting innocent bystanders. But most importantly, it reinforced the paranoia of those who believed "All them Ay-rabs must be against us. Better kill them before they kill us" by reducing virtually all Muslims to a stereotype.

Only once before last night has a "good Muslim" shown up to help Jack Bauer. His fate was rather ironic--- The show that stereotypes them as all being "bad" had him get murdered by a bigot that thought all Muslims were bad. I've always wondered if the conservatives that love Jack Bauer AND the word "Islamofascist" understood the irony.

But last night's episode has upset conservatives.

"Well, the MPAC/CAIR crowd really got to "24" producers because it looks like American Muslims (and even "former" terrorists) will be portrayed as terror-fighting superheroes, beginning tonight." writes Coultergeist wannabe Debbie Schlussel, who manages to put the "nut" in "wingnut". Introduce a couple of Middle Eastern characters who can actually speak without chanting "Death to America!" and she goes apoplectic with rage.

Among her complaints: Arab language translators lie when they're transcribing conversations (Something she claims is well documented, yet never feels the need to back up), an actor playing an American Muslim leader looks too much like Keith Ellison, the recently elected Muslim congressman (I'm sure 24 producers had that in mind a year ago when they were casting the part, right?), and that the villainous secretary of defense that wants to put all Muslims in relocation centers is only "following the law".

I'm only surprised they didn't complain more about Jack Bauer going soft on torture.

At the end of last season, the Chinese government "rendered" Jack Bauer and took him into custody. Twenty months later, his back is an intricate latticework of thick scar tissue. The first chance he had to torture someone afterward, Jack stabbed him. Then it looked like he had some kind of epiphany, perhaps an "I've become what I hate" moment.

Perhaps even funnier is Cranky's post on Six Meat Buffet. He agrees with Schlussel and adds this to it:
"When the good-guy former terrorist is tailing the bad guy terrorist on foot, the bad guy gets into a car and - get this - the good-guy former terrorist’s car is parked right there! On the street no less! In Los Angeles!!
Talk about stretching credibility. I don’t think I’ll be able to follow the rest of the season with any credibility. I’m serious about this.

In the same episode, Jack Bauer breaks into what looks to be about a 1985 Oldsmobile that someone left a cell phone in. He punches coordinates into the cell phone of someone with a two-decade-old car and manages to find a proper street address and a GPS map. He then hotwires the two-decade- old Oldsmobile and manages to get to the address faster than two military strike helicopters.

But the parking situation is the part of the episode that was really unbelievable, right? Remember... He said he was serious.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Ashley Treatment - Schiavo Redux

The disability community is in an uproar over Ashley.

She's nine years old, although her intellectual development ceased when she was only a few months old. She has never learned, nor will she ever learn, to walk, talk, or do anything other than smile. So severe is her disability that she still cannot roll over, or even hold her head up unsupported.

Her parents are now the subject of protests. In the 1960's, it was considered "undesirable" for girls to be tall, so doctors found a way to stunt their growth using high doses of estrogen therapy. It sounds absurd to us now, but it happened. The girls that received such therapy in their childhood grew into adults, and have had no negative effects from the treatment.

Walk a mile in the shoes of her parents. Ashley is now a normal-sized nine-year-old child. At 75 pounds, she's reached the upper threshold of what her parents can reasonably carry around--- And make no mistake--- If she's going somewhere, they're carrying her.

So they've put her through the estrogen therapy. In addition, they gave her a hysterectomy so that this girl with the intellectual development of an infant will not have to deal with menstruation and had her breast buds removed.

It sounds horrible, but it's probably one of the greatest gifts they could have given her. Her parents will not live forever. When they die, or even when they are simply too old to carry her around anymore, someone else will have to take care of their child. Although sexual abuse by a caregiver is fairly rare, it does happen. By stunting their daughter's physical development, they've reduced the odds of that and made it so that even if it did, Ashley won't become pregnant.

Her parents did not seek attention for this. The doctors that treated her wrote of it in a medical journal, and the article got nationwide attention. And now the parents are being criticized for the treatment, much as Michael Schiavo was for allowing his wife to go to her long overdue final peace.

They've set up a blog that tells their side of the story and explains the treatment and their reasoning behind it in great detail. They should be lauded for making the extremely difficult choice they had to make.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

But Gee, I Thought Kurita Was Liberals' Last Hope...

During the US Senate primary last year, all I kept hearing was how Rosalind Kurita was supposed to be so much more liberal than Harold Ford, and that she was someone we could trust to vote the Democratic agenda.

I disagreed. I thought her voting record was just as far to the right as his was (Although her rhetoric didn't seem to really match it all that well--- Tuxedo votes with white socks rhetoric). She certainly didn't have the chequered family history Ford had, but her father is a Bush Pioneer, and if I had to tell you which of those made me more uncomfortable, I would have to mull it over for a while and get back to you.

I hate it when I set my expectations that low and I'm proven right.

The office of the Lieutenant Governor is now in Republican hands. And Rosalind Kurita helped put it there.

Thanks for nothing, Ros.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sir, You Suck.

Congratulations. Comparatively speaking, you just made me look like a nice guy.

On this site, I've taken plenty of shots at people. But there's always been some kind of purpose. A few Jake Ford jokes tossed in here and there helped demonstrate why I thought (And still think) he would have been a horrific choice to represent this district in Congress. I've been something less than gentle (There's an understatement for you) in expressing my opinions about public figures ranging from local politicians to the bumbler-in-chief. And yes, I poked fun at Roscoe Dixon's girth in the context of pointing out how absurd it is that a man who obviously never misses a meal had the gall to ask his supporters to fast in the hopes he would get a lighter sentence.

But never... Never have I gone where you did the other day. Cruelty simply for the sake of cruelty. Insulting a young lady just to have something to say.

And for what purpose? It's not like what you wrote was even remotely funny. There was nothing clever about it. It was just vicious for vicious' sake.

I could respond in kind. Don't think I haven't considered it.

But the truth is, there's nothing I could say that could make people think any less of you than reading your own words can.

Worth a Thousand Words...

I did not have political relations with that man, that Jack Abramoff...

The Finer Things... aka All Hail the Emperor!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about ancient Rome. And no, not because my favorite TV show is coming back for Season Two, but that's a good guess.

The emperors had a clever way of stifling dissent in the ancient empire. When discontent over high taxes, rampant crime, the corruption of public officials, widespread poverty, and disappearing jobs reached a fevered pitch, a new monument was announced--- And quite often, a new amphitheater in which to hold gladiatorial games.

So it is perhaps no surprise that as scandal rocks the city council, the city sets a new murder record, and poverty tightens its deathgrip on the inner city, Mayor Herenton announces his plans to build a new football stadium.

The timing is a bit puzzling. There's been no recent discussion of an NFL franchise coming here, leaving the sole resident of a new stadium the University of Memphis Tigers, a football team that could be replaced by the marching band without anyone noticing. Even during the two good seasons they had, Tiger football was not exactly what one would call a tourist trap, so we can dispense with the idea that a river of liquid gold will flood the streets of the city when it opens.

If our own Caesar is to leave us with a legacy, let it be one of sober and responsible government. I love this city, and it certainly deserves "the finer things" in life--- But those finer things should be a school system that doesn't crumble around its students and a police force that pays well enough to draw the best and brightest into its ranks.

Those should be the priorities of a city. Not a nicer football field.

This city should have priorities. If we don't take care of them first, then we're simply giving the criminal element of this city a nicer place to break into cars with out of state license plates.