Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: The Year in Sex

Now that I have your attention, and you already have your Salon.com day pass (see below), you really must read the article with the same headline as above. Now, some of the information I could do without (e.g., a Kid Rock sex video - no thanks), but over all it's pretty funny stuff. Kind of amazing how completely gross celebrities seem to be these days - or maybe not.

This passage caught my feminazi eye (see, this post really is about politics...sexual politics, not just beach read trash):

In a startling display of rugged Slavic candor, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russia's Liberal and Democratic Party leader, this fall revealed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized his country's policies in Ukraine only because she's single. In an exclusive Pravda interview delicately headlined "Condoleezza Rice's Anti-Russian Stance Based on Sexual Problems," Zhirinovsky explained that "Rice released a coarse anti-Russian statement ... because she is a single woman who has no children ... Such women are very rough ... They can be happy only when they are talked and written about everywhere: 'Oh, Condoleezza, what a remarkable woman, what a charming Afro-American lady! How well she can play the piano and speak Russian!' ... If she has no man by her side at her age, he will never appear. Even if she had a whole selection of men to choose from, she would stay single because her soul and heart have hardened."

Incidentally, I am totally not making this up. "Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers," Zhirinovsky continued. "She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied. On the other hand, she can hardly be satisfied because of her age."

Am I alone in thinking that what this dude needs is one hour as a guest of Oprah Winfrey?

In December, Zhirinovsky picked up some surprise support from Laura Bush, who declared in an interview with People magazine that "Dr. Rice, who I think would be a really good candidate [for president], is not interested. Probably because she is single, her parents are no longer living, she's an only child. You need a very supportive family and supportive friends to have this job." Bush's eyes then briefly came into focus and she was able to spit out the words "Help me!" before being reconnected to her sedative drip.



But here is the paragraph that has me really thinking that, no matter how much things change, they just stay the same (sigh)...

At Forbes, Michael Noer earned himself a fan club by arguing that men should not marry career women because they will be less likely to vacuum the Cheetos off the floor, take care of you if you're six -- I mean sick -- or bear you hordes of children. Ex-New Yorker writer Caitlin Flanagan agreed, letting women know that if they just quit their jobs and gave enough BJs, their husbands might love them enough to support them through cancer.


Go read the articles linked. Forbes is not The National Enquirer or Hustler. I work (more than 30 hours a week) in a very male professional business world. The fact that Forbes would publish an article entitled "Don't Marry Career Women" - when, as Salon's Rebecca Traister puts it, what the author really means is "If You Are Really Self-Loathing and Weak, Try to Find Someone Who Doesn't Work and Will Consent to Live With You Out of Financial Desperation for the Rest of Her Life" - is pretty damn discouraging.

I haven't read Caitlin Flanagan's book, To Hell With All That, which is the subject of the Salon review linked above. But if, in fact, her premise is that her husband took good care of her during her cancer treatment because she (a writer for the The New Yorker, so how is that a stay at home mom, anyway?) had submissively subverted her career desires and goals to his in order to fulfill some Ozzie and Harriet fantasy of hers, thereby earning his love and care, that is just pathetic. It's enough to make any self-respecting working mom (and cancer survivor like me) even more tired than she is already trying to be all things to all people.

On that note, I have to go - at the Prince's repeated request - and call the parents of some proposed teen party for tonight and make sure they're not going to be shooting heroin or anything, like the good working mom I am.

Happy New Year!

Not Paying Attention to Everything

Over at Salon, Juan Cole has an informative article about the manner in which Saddam Hussein was tried and executed and how, like everything else connected to the Iraq war, it was handled pretty much in the absolute best way possible to ensure that it would not result in national reconciliation or progress but, instead, continued civil war and sectarian violence. In the end, Saddam has been turned into a martyr for Sunnis, even those who hated him. (Salon is a subscription site, but by enduring a short ad, you can get a day pass and read everything on the site for 24 hours.)

I have to admit that when I hear Saddam Hussein, the blotter in my brain comes up with WMD, and WMD yields Iraq, and Iraq suggests George Bush, and before you know it, I'm turning the page and thinking, next. It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I guess I've adopted this avoidance mode as a survival tactic these last six years. As I've told many people, I've gotten in touch with my inner-Reagan era self (revealing my advanced age) in order to shut out the depressing evidence of the Bush regime. There hasn't been any other way to keep my dignity as an American; I guess I'm just a Dixie Chick in spirit.

I'm a bit ashamed to be learning all these facts about the trial and execution just now. But I guess Juan Cole hasn't spent the last year working on Shelby County Commission elections and learning Robert's Rules to keep Del Gill from hijacking SCDP executive committee meetings and such. So I'm going to give myself a break for not paying attention to everything.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Great Commentary on Herenton and the Mayor's Race

Over at the Smart City blog, they have their usual unique and astute analysis of why Mayor Herenton should step aside. In addition, they make the point that someone from another walk of life than politics is likely to bring a new way of looking at things to the position that could be the difference between living in a good city vs. a great one. Where are those people who are willing to leave their wonderful careers to take the job? Surely, we have some folks who want to be take Memphis to "great city" status!

LWC has some thought provoking discussion on the topic of the mayor's race, too.

Check it out.

Someone please make Al Gore run.....

It is not even 2007 yet, however; the 2008 presidential race is already revving up. Several big names have already tossed their hats into the ring, but I'm not very happy about our current options. I personally wish Al Gore would run because he could simply say, "Look what happened last time I wasn't placed in the oval office". He also has real experience, and he makes us think back to better times under President Clinton. In a Democratic primary he could easily gain grassroots support throughout the environmental movement. I'd like to see a national college campus-based internship program that would utilize environmental activists and college democrats on campuses across the country. The main thing Gore would have to do is be himself. In my opinion, he played too close to the middle during the 2000 election, and by doing that he did not come off as natural. Since the 2000 election, I've seen him give speeches about the war in Iraq, and I saw him give the Inconvenient Truth slide show speech in Nashville at Vanderbilt. When he gave those speeches, he didn't come off as stiff and bland as I perceived him to be in 2000. He spoke from his heart. I believe that if he could pour that same passion into a presidential race, then he could rise above the other superstars who have either announced or hinted at the fact that they may run. However, he and everyone close to him seem to kill my hopes at every interview/opportunity. It is too bad though because a Gore/Obama ticket would be amazing. As for some of the other possible Democratic candidates.......

Sen. Barack Obama: I saw him speak at a Ford Jr. event last spring, and he really got me with his speech. I'd so jump on the Obama bandwagon if it weren't for the fact that he has so little experience. He's got a fire inside of him, and he moves people when he speaks. However, he was a State Senator before becoming a U.S. Senator, and he's only been a U.S. Senator for two years now. I think he would make an excellent VP choice, but he simply doesn't have the experience to run for President.

Sen. Hillary Clinton: She finally backed off her staunch support for her vote allowing the pre-emptive strike on Iraq, however; she is simply not electable because of the Republican attack machine. I like many of the causes that she supports, and I'd love to have a woman president. I just don't think she'd be the right choice.

Sen. John Kerry: He would probably be the worst choice this time around. He was treated unfairly in 2004, but his recent "botched joke" and the past presidential election will not allow him to advance past the primary.

John Edwards: He's probably my current favorite of the pack since he has been through a recent presidential election, and he didn't seem to take on the damage that Sen. Kerry took from the 2004 election. He's charismatic, talks a lot about poverty, and he served a full Senate term in a southern state.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: I love the guy, and I think he will bring a lot of important issues to the table. However, even though he's married now, he simply has no chance.

Gov. Mark Warner: He says he's not going to run, but if he ran he would be the safest choice for a win in the general. He has an 80% approval rating in Virginia. Wouldn't it be nice to see Virginia go blue in a presidential race?

Gov. Richardson, Gov. Vilsack, Sen. Biden, Sen. Bayh: I really need to learn a little more about each one, but none of them really jump out at me. Governor's seem to do a little better than Senators in presidential races since they don't have a voting record that can been used against them though.

And on the Republican side:

Mayor Giuliani: Nice guy, but a pro-choice candidate who is moderate on gay marriage will not make it through a Republican primary. If he did, then I don't know if we could beat him.

John McCain: I used to have a lot of respect for him, but I'm disappointed that he's willing to change his stances in order to appeal to the conservative base. I liked the fact that he appeared to think on his own, and I feel like he's lost that now although the public may not perceive it that way. I think he would definitely be our biggest threat out of the bunch in the general though.

George Allen: Just kidding :) . Senator Webb took care of him for us.

Condoleezza Rice: I don't see her running, but if she did I couldn't see her making it through the Republican primary.

Gov. Jeb Bush: He knows better than to even try with the reputation that his name now holds.

Sen. Chuck Hagel: My personal favorite on the Republican side, but I'd prefer a hard-line conservative opponent because he/she would be easier to beat in the general.

Gov. Romney: He seems to have a lot of charisma, but I just don't see him making it through the primary either (even though he's pretty conservative for a New England Republican).

Newt Ginrich: I believe he announced that he wasn't going to run. However, it would have felt great to beat him in a general.

Sen. Brownback: Something tells me that he would do well in the primary. He would also be an easier candidate to defeat in the general because he leans pretty far to the right.

Sen. Frist: I'm so glad that he seems to have no chance. Bringing up the Terry Schiavo incident on the Senate floor didn't help him like he wanted it to. Reports about his stocks didn't seem to help either.

I'm sure that I left a few people out so feel free to talk about your favorites/predictions.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's A Family Tradition...

A quick note to say that I will indeed be back to blogging soon. We went out of town to see my family and then Margo's family. Funny how exhausting "vacations" can be isn't it? I'm back home today, only to leave in the morning. We've developed a weird family tradition of going to funerals during Christmas. In the last three years I've had a grandmother, great grandmother, and now Margo's aunt die during Christmas. Hopefully, that tradition will be broken soon. If not, I'll have to start adopting lonely bloggers into my family to help keep some distance between the grim reaper and myself. Don't got any plans next Christmas do you Freedonian? What about you Auto?

Anyways, my man John Edwards should be announcing tomorrow. Expect me to shill away for him as the campaign heats up. I hear Iowa is always nice in December and January...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wish No. 2 for 2007: A New and Improved City Council

I can hardly wait till October, 2007. That's when elections for all of the City Council seats will occur (as will the mayoral election). I think we can count at least 4, maybe as many as 7 or 8 seats, that will be open. i.e., either no incumbent or one who is legally and/or politically challenged. That's not to say that those under indictment will graciously step aside and not run again - we here in Memphis seem to have a knack for electing exceedingly shameless leaders.

But the landscape has opened up a whole, whole lot for good folks with day jobs, talent and the commitment to serve the community to run. Just to review...

District 1 - E.C. Jones seems to be having some troubles explaining his car lease from Joe Cooper, and would appear to be vulnerable to an effective challenger

District 2 - Brent Taylor, a possible open seat if he decides to forego re-election to focus to his funeral home business, as we've been hearing

District 3 - Tajuan Stout Mitchell - open, she's taken a job with city government

District 5 - Carol Chumney seems intent on challenging Herenton for mayor, most likely open

District 6 - Edmund Ford, under indictment on several counts of bribery, if not open, then vulnerable to challenge

Super District 8 - Rickey Peete, ditto

Super District 9 - Word is that Jack Sammons may not run again

Who are we going to recruit to run for these positions?

Word is that former Democratic party chair Jim Strickland is running in District 5. Jim would be great in that position. These are officially nonpartisan races, but as I learned the hard way with last summer's judicial elections, that is sometimes the case in name only.

So, who are some good Democrats/progressives that you'd like to see elected to the City Council? Go here to view a map of the districts.

I would hope there could be some strategic planning to this so that the vote doesn't get splintered along racial or other lines and prevent the best candidates from winning. This is where a strong local party would be a real asset. If the local party had clout and money, in both of which it is usually lacking, then there would be some planning and influence by the party in identifying and recruiting candidates, and the ability to meaningfully support great people who decide to run.

This is a rare opportunity to elect a significant number of honest, thoughtful and, dare I say it, visionary leadership for Memphis. We'll see how it unfolds, and I hope next October to feel as excited and happy about the local leadership landscape as I did on November 8 about the Congressional situation (Tennessee excepted that day).

Comments?

Update: Before I get clobbered by those who do not work outside the home, so to speak, let me clarify that by referring to people with day jobs, what I mean and should probably say instead is someone who is not primarily attracted to run for the City Council because of the pay or perks of the position. Retirees and other stay at home persons are not excluded from my definition of someone we would want to represent us.

Kevin Gallagher Withdraws from Senate Race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 26, 2006


Kevin Gallagher Withdraws from Senate Race


Memphis, TN - State Senate candidate Kevin Gallagher announced earlier today that he is withdrawing as a candidate in the Democratic primary to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Congressman-Elect Steve Cohen.

In a statement made to friends and supporters, Gallagher said he entered the race to ensure Memphis would continue to be represented in the State Senate with the same integrity and commitment to service that it had known for the past 24 years under Cohen, its former Senator.

"I was bolstered by the encouragement of Congressman-Elect Cohen and that of many of his long time supporters," said Gallagher. "However, with the entry of State Representative Beverly Marrero in this race, I believe the traditions of service we have come to expect can best be assured with only one of us in the (State Senate) race."

Gallagher continued by endorsing Marrero and encouraging others to support her. "I have a great deal of respect for Representative Marrero and running against each other would have done a disservice to the people of our district. I look forward to her victory in the Senate race."

Gallagher did not comment on speculation he would seek Marrero's vacant District 89 House seat, in the event of her senate election victory.

Wish No. 1 for 2007: Democratic County Commission Calibration

What with work travel, the holidays, and such, this is the first chance I've had to weigh in on how our new County Commission Democratic majority is doing.

The Prince is playing his new PS3 at the moment (amazing how not buying the family grownups any presents frees up the dough to further spoil your child) and allowing me to share in his presence but, as with most 14 year olds, not desiring any interaction with me other than the placement of various food items at his feet. So now I have some time to give my 2 cents worth on this topic.

There's a terrific mixture of business and political experience, intelligence, independence, and new and seasoned leadership in this Democratic group. So far, however, on two issues important to Democrats and the community, it seems to me that they've misstepped. I'm confident they'll find their stride in 2007, but it would be helpful to that end if they reflected on what went awry on two recent votes.

On their first strategic vote, the issue of authorizing a second Juvenile Court judge, the Democrats on the Commission threw down the hammer. They voted in sync (along with Mike Carpenter, in a pleasantly surprising show of independence) to authorize the second judgeship, refusing to allow a two week delay proposed by Commission Republicans to study the issue -- because they had the votes and they could. They thereby invited retribution from the Republicans, which they promptly got in the form of a lawsuit filed against, among others, each of the Democratic Commissioners, for emasculating Curtis Person's election as Juvenile Court judge in August. In addition to constitutional arguments against the Commission's authority, the suit alleged violations of the state Sunshine Law.

And, indeed, Deidre Malone - a smart, confident and gracious woman who exemplifies the kind of local leaders we need a lot more of - had to eat crow very publicly and admit that she had inadvertently broken that law in an ex parte conversation with Mike Carpenter before the Commission meeting on the issue. (More on the Sunshine Law in another post.)

Adding to the controversy, Commission Sidney Chism announced to the press that he was in support of Veronica Coleman, unsuccessful challenger to Person, for the second judicial appointment. This led to several over the top diatribes by the Commercial Appeal against Coleman and accusations of cronyism, heavy handedness and political manipulation by the Democrats. The ensuing PR debacle was defused when Deidre brought the issue back up and the Commission reversed its earlier vote, authorizing town hall meetings and a study of Juvenile Court reform by an ad hoc committee - just as the Republicans had wanted.

I understand from various attorneys that there really is a pressing need to redesign the dysfunctional system at Juvenile Court, but is there any doubt that the Commission Democrats' hasty action cost them political capital and set an unfortunate tone for the new Commission? At the end of the day, the Democrats still have the votes to make the second judgeship a reality, but the handling of the situation was unfortunate.

Then, last week, when the Commission met to appoint interim replacements for former state Representative Henri Brooks and former state Senator Steve Cohen - mostly, but not completely, symbolic votes given that that the winner of the special elections for those positions will take office in March - the Democrats blew it and, by a disjointed lack of cohesion, allowed the Republicans (with the help of two Democratic Commissioners) to easily ensure that Republican Commissioner George Flinn's son, Shea Flinn, won the appointment.

I don't know Shea Flinn, but he seems to be a sincere Democrat, and has publicly pledged to vote for John Wilder, a commitment vital to Democrats in the legislature. As someone whose ties to Republicans have allowed others to question my political allegiances, I won't question his commitment to the Democratic party just because his father is a Republican.

He is well regarded by local white progressives. However, in conversations with African American progressive friends, points that have been made are: why the complete failure of the local blogs to note the nepotism and conflict problems with this appointment or that Shea's qualifications resemble Jake Ford's at least in the sense that his work experience consists totally of working for his father? If his name were Chism or Malone or Brooks, would not these points have been made?

What appears to have happened is that Commissioners Malone and Chism came to the meeting adamant on appointing attorney Robert Spence, who is running for the Senate seat, over the stated objections of other Democratic Commissioners who preferred a placeholder appointment to giving one candidate or another a leg up be bestowing incumbency on them. J.W. Gibson had promised his support to Joseph Kyles, an unsuccessful 9th Congressional primary candidate, as had James Harvey. Steve Mulroy tacitly supported New Path co-founder and computer business owner Cardell Orrin (who I supported and on whose behalf I lobbied all of the Commissioners). But Steve, who I and others recruited to run for the Commission, so he obviously has my support and admiration, quickly signaled his willingness to vote for Flinn, a former student and research assistant at the U of M law school, over Spence when it became apparent that there would be no room for a Democratic intra-party compromise.

This whole set of dynamics enabled the Commission's Republicans to sit back like cats who ate the canary and dominate what should have been an occasion for them to defer to their Democratic colleagues' choice. Unfortunately, this situation (which included George Flinn's seeming pride, and obliviousness to his conflict of interest, in voting for his own son - what IS wrong with these people?) gave us a display of "every Democratic Commissioner for him/herself" and, when all was said and done, left them in a very public state of disarray, with Sidney Chism publicly unhappy with James Harvey's display of independence in supporting Flinn along with Mulroy.

Some might say, the appointment is only for a short period, so why the fuss, Desi? The reason is that it was another embarrassing public misstep for the new Democratic majority. More discouraging, it allowed nepotism to prevail, and pretty much across the board resulted in Commissioners voting for who they knew, not for who might have been the best choice. And in this era of local cronyism and corruption, is this really the message we want our new Democratic majority to help send?

As I said at the beginning of this, I fully expect our Democratic commissioners to hit their stride in 2007. I'm personally happy to see that we have some independent thinkers of both parties on the Commission, which I think will help keep everyone on their toes. But what we don't want is missed opportunities for the Democrats to make their mark on local issues that Democrats care about. So let's hope the new year brings some unity - always a challenge for Democrats, it seems - coupled with better political intuition to our Democratic Commissioners.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Bummer: James Brown, R.I.P.




Well, checking CNN.com for anything of interest to share and found this .

James Brown, the legendary R&B belter, a singer and songwriter who created a foundation for funk and provided the roots of rap, a man of many nicknames but a talent that can only be described as one of a kind, is dead.

Brown -- known variously as "the Godfather of Soul," "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Soul Brother Number One" and "Mr. Dynamite" (and often introduced as all of the above) -- was known for his elastic dance moves, razor-sharp musicianship and all-stops-out performances.

He was, literally, an impossible act to follow: The Rolling Stones were said to have been terrified to come on after Brown in "The T.A.M.I. Show," a 1964 concert that appeared on film the next year. ("Nobody could follow me," Brown told "T.A.M.I. Show" director Steve Binder, according to a Los Angeles Times article.) Brown's performance in that show even earned an ovation from the backing band.

"You have the Rolling Stones on the same stage, all of the important rock acts of the day, doing their best -- and James Brown comes out and destroys them," producer Rick Rubin wrote in Rolling Stone.

His influence was broad and deep. He was a soul innovator, bringing a churchy rawness to R&B with his early hits "Please, Please, Please" and "Think." He essentially created funk with mid-'60s songs such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Cold Sweat." His grooves were sampled by rappers and hip-hop artists.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas, Baby

A friend of mine reported the following interaction with her 8 year old daughter this week, who was playing with the Nativity scene figures in the living room:

Piglet: "Here's Joseph, and here's the Virgin ... Mom, what's a virgin?"

Mom: "Well, that's a woman who's never had sex."

Piglet: "Were you a virgin when you married Dad?"

Mom: "Why, yes, I was ...[nose grows]"

Piglet: "Ok, here's Joseph, and here's the Virgin, and here's Harold [a shepherd], and they're fighting over Mary. And Joseph says, let's name the baby Jesus, but Mary doesn't want to name the baby Jesus.

...Mary says, Let's don't name the baby Jesus -- let's name him HAROLD, JR."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Wouldn't it be nice to elect a candidate who looked out for everyday people and not just the elite?

Wouldn't it be nice to elect a candidate who made his living helping others as a teacher and veteran rather than as a lobbyist and consultant?

Wouldn't it be nice to see an honest man running for local office?

Sigh... Too much to hope for isn't it? Although, if the rumor that E.C. Jones is on the way out are to be believed, I might know someone who fits the bill. It seems that I vaguely recall someone. What was his name? Oh yeah. Bill Morrison. Wonder what he's up to these days?

If Corruption Had A Last Name...

It would be spelled F-O-R-D. John Ford has gotten indicted a few more times.

Interim Replacements Chosen.

Congrats to Shea Flinn in State Sentate District 30 and Eddie Neal in House District 92 for being chosen for interim appointments to the state legislature. I was going to be happy as long as a non-indicted Democrat who wasn't running for reelection was chosen. Shea is a good choice. I don't know a thing about Neal, but he's a Democrat, he's not running for the permanent position, and I don't see wads of cash-bribes sticking out of his pocket, so he passes my test.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Don't You Worry About Peete...

Some of you have expressed concern that I have forgotten Councilman Peete in my nominations for Stupid, Criminal, Politician of the Year. Never fear. He gets his own special awards. First he gets his very own "soap on a rope."



Second he gets his very own special cell, reserved for VIP, frequent guests. In honor of his role on the Beale Street Merchants Association. He also gets to be buddies with a guy nicknamed Beale Street Bubba. Bubba likes to have new buddies. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stupid, Criminal Politician of the Year

Vote Here!

I am working under the shaky presumption that there won't be any more of our beloved crooked politicians indicted this calendar year. As such, for the next week they will be competing for the coveted and highly contested Stupid, Criminal Politician of the Year Award for Shelby County. There have rarely been so many great candidates in one year. So vote early and often (this is Memphis, after all.) In keeping with the spirit of the competition, feel free to use dead people's IP address after you vote from yours.

My personal votes:
1. Roscoe "Fast For Me" Dixon
2. John "I'll Shoot You Dead"/"You Ever Try to Feed Fourteen Baby-Mamas" Ford
3. Joe "I eat three buffalo, take two bribes, and lose one election every day by lunch" Cooper
4. Jake "I don't remember how many times I've been arrested or whether or not I did, in fact, assault my girlfriend" Ford

But don't just go with my choices. Have some fun. There are so many to choose from. They're all stupid, criminal politicians in my book.

Friday, December 15, 2006

State Senate District 30

I'm starting a poll for blog readers concerning the race to replace Steve Cohen in District 30. The link is here.

My thoughts:
Robert Spence: I think Freedonian pretty well slashed up Spence here.

Larry Parrish: I shutter at the very thought. However, if you think porn is the most pressing issue in our community then he's your man.

Charles Hopkins: Who?

Beverly Marrero: She's my state rep. I have tons of respect for her, but I don't want to have to pay for another special election for her to do the exact same job that she does now if there is a viable alternative. Also, this election will be extremely low turnout and could be snuck into by a one-and-done Republican. That would remove Wilder as Speaker (as hard as that is to fathom.) Beverly doesn't have a reputation as a strong campaigner, and she will be hamstrung when it comes to fundraising because she will be in session during the campaign.

Kevin Gallagher: I've gotten to know Kevin fairly well over the past few campaign cycles. He'd be a progressive to a similar extent as Marrero. However, he won't have his hands tied when it comes to raising money, he has a strong and active campaign staff and volunteer corps, and his victory won't necessitate more of our money getting spent in another election. I like the idea of both Kevin and Beverly serving in Nashville. Beverly stays there either way. Therefore, I'm supporting Kevin.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Request for Libertyland From Commissioner Mulroy

We have a chance to save the park with a $5 million investment that for once didn't require a tax incentive, a PILOT, or a bribe. It will allow kids who can't afford to go to Hot Springs an affordable amusement park; bring those part-time jobs back to inner-city teens and help with teen crime; and save the Grand Carousel and the Zippin Pippin from the fate of the Memphis Belle. It'll bring in brand new rides and the place will be better than ever.

I was hoping you might encourage folks to email hotbutton@commercialappeal.com TODAY and give the C-A three lines on why the City Council should do the right thing next Tuesday and approve the deal. Or, call their City Council folks and tell them the same. Let's have some happy news coming out of City Council for a change.

SJM

The HotButton issue for the Commercial Appeal will be 'Should the Memphis/Shelby County Fair Grounds be turned into an Amusement Park?"

Email Letters to: letters@commercialappeal.com
Fax: 901.52936445
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All letters must include the writer's name, full home address and daytime and evening phone numbers for verification.
Home >> Elected Officials>>City of Memphis Officials

CITY COUNCIL
125 N. Main St. 38103
576-6786

District 1
E. C. Jones
2920 Vista View St. 38127
358-2918

District 2
Brent Taylor
736 N. Ericson 38018
754-9085

District 3
TaJuan Stout Mitchell
3558 Acacia Dr. 38116
398-7408

District 4
Dedrick Brittenum, Jr.
1161 E. Parkway S. 38114
725-9663

District 5
Carol Chumney
38 Charleston Sq. 38122 (901)327-8528

District 6
Edmund H. Ford
194 Golf Club Cir. 38109
(901)396-1555

District 7
Barbara Swearengen Holt
1636 Sydney St. 38108
458-9406

District 8, Pos. 1
Joe Brown
1024 Terry Cir. 38107
274-8142

District 8, Pos. 2
Rickey W. Peete
915 N. McLean Blvd. 38107
278-7464

District 8, Pos. 3
Myron Lowery
66 Monroe Ave. 38103
382-8818

District 9, Pos. 1
Scott McCormick
8895 Hickory Trail Dr. 38018 753-6014

District 9, Pos. 2
Tom Marshall
5109 Greenway Cv. 38117
(901)767-1665

District 9, Pos. 3
Jack Sammons
208 Saint Albans Fairway 38111
(901)685-2002

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Democratic Senator Suffers Stroke

Democratic Senator Tim Johnson has had a stroke. Details are not yet available.

I'm Not a Racist - But You Are: Another Interesting Poll

Per another CNN poll:

Most Americans, white and black, see racism as a lingering problem in the United States, and many say they know people who are racist, according to a new poll.

But few Americans of either race -- about one out of eight -- consider themselves racist.


Here's the rest of the story.

Are we ready for a woman or black president?

According to a CNN/Reuters poll, yes - or maybe - depending if you believe people are telling the truth.

Is America ready for a female president or an African-American president? We asked, in the latest CNN poll by the Opinion Research Corporation.

Sixty percent of voters said, "A female president? No problem.'' Both men and women agree. Do Democrats see a problem? Nope. Seventy percent of Democrats say the country's ready for a female president. Perhaps they have one in mind.

How about an African-American president? A slightly higher number, 62 percent, see no problem with that either. Whites are a little more confident than blacks that the country is ready for a black president. But a majority of blacks believe the country is ready.

Can those results be trusted? Polls are not always reliable when they ask people about prejudice. As CNN's polling director, Keating Holland, noted, "Sometimes people will hear a question and give pollsters the answer that they think the pollster wants to hear.''


I had a conversation last weekend with a prominent local African-American who told me unequivocally that there is no way America is ready to elect a black president. Then, on Monday, I had lunch with an African-American lawyer who made a face when I asked her.

I wonder if we here in Memphis have a skewed point of view about race given our unique demographics (no math major here, but around 60% black, 35% white) or whether my African-American conversation partners are right. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

God Bless Texas

Looks like we might well be scoring a huge upset victory in the final Congressional race of the 2006 cycle (barring the Florida fiasco being overturned.)

I Forgot One.

I also added Theogeo to the sidebar. She's one of the few local bloggers that I read that I don't know in real life. She's a great writer with cute ferrets. And I'm still laughing about her "precious" post.

Sidebar Additions

I took off some out-of-date sites from my sidebar and added some great Tennessee blogs. Volunteer Voters offers one-stop-shopping for much of the Tennessee blogosphere. The site is ran by a paid blogger for WKRN in Nashville. A.C. may be a conservative, but he's one I can read without throwing stuff. Sean Braisted is a local progressive blogger up in Nashville who is always worth a read. Newscoma is a small-town newspaper editor in Northwest Tennessee, who's as likely to write about Big Foot as politics. I also added a link for the forthcoming site for Kevin Gallagher's campaign for State Senate District 30.

I promise that a real blog post will come soon, there's just a backlog of things I have put off during the month leading up to finals.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The WTL is Back...

And tired. So I just finished the last of the dreaded first semester law school finals. I should be back to the normal blog rounds tomorrow. I will also be updating my blogroll with some great Tennessee blogs that aren't quite as local. Before I get around to all that, I wanted to thank everyone who has been holding down the fort while I've been gone. Feel free to stick around.

So nothing interesting has happened while I've been gone has it? You know, something like the Titans actually winning a game or more of our beloved corrupt officials going down? That's good. I wouldn't have wanted to miss anything.

The National Conference for Media Reform will be in town next month and they are giving out press passes to bloggers. Speakers such as FCC members, Jesse Jackson, Bill Moyers, etc. will be there. I can't make it, but surely someone out in the blogosphere can. It sounds interesting and like something we should report on. Now, I have to go find my wife and make up for two election cycles backed up to finals without a break. I suspect it will involve a lot of dishes and vacuuming. Sigh...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mother Mary

I've been thinking about Mary Cheney since the news broke that she and her lesbian partner are expecting a baby next year.

Just about the only thing that makes Dick Cheney seem like a human being to me is the fact that he loves his openly gay daughter. The fact that she, too, is a neocon may be a mitigating factor. But nevertheless, when I think how, as a Christian, I am supposed to love my neighbor, and that it means HIM, I cling to my recollection of the 2004 vice presidential debate when John Edwards brought her and her sexuality up and Cheney's dignified refusal to discuss her made Edwards look cheap. If only he disported himself in that manner about 100% of the time....

Anyway, I was reminded of the impending birth of Baby Cheney today as I watched a lesbian couple at my church have their second baby baptized. This is a family where both mommies have had a baby, serve on the altar guild, teach Sunday school classes and attend church with their four year old daughter more faithfully than I and Desinator, Jr. do lately.

I don't know what they are teaching their kids to call them. I also don't know what legal arrangements they have been able to make, if any, to assure that their children will be secure in their two parent household. Or to assure that the father(s?) of their kids can't decide to exert their paternal rights and seek custody of the kids.

When I think how much courage it must take (and will take over the years) for them to present themselves to their employers, to the kids' schools, at birthday parties, sports activities, ballet lessons, as the openly gay but otherwise completely traditional family they are, I realize how much I take seeing them in the pew a few rows ahead of me for granted. They pull it off with so much grace, this family thing, that no one pays any attention to the one tiny distinction that makes them different from almost all of the other intact nuclear families in church.

I thought today as I watched their newborn son being baptized - what will they tell the kids when they ask where they came from, or how do you get pregnant, or why do I have two mommies, or all manner of other questions that inevitably get asked by little kids and throw parents into a tizzy.

The media had a brief field day with Mary Cheney's announcement. People all across the political spectrum felt free to pontificate about her deciding to become a mother - from conservative disgust at her violating fundamentalist moral code regarding "marriage between a man and a woman" to liberal disgust at the hypocrisy of her working to elect and retain a president whose administration has callously used GLBT folks as a sacrificial lamb in order to get their folks to the polls.

Deciding to become a parent is one of the most irrational decisions a person can ever make. I think it's a mistake to make judgments about this situation based on logic and reason. Parenting, when not done in a materially pathological manner, is really the ultimate sacrifice (short of dying in battle). It is also the ultimate gift to yourself, since most children give a parent way more love than they deserve (until they become teenagers, anyway).

So I say to Mary Cheney, you go girlfriend.

I really can't imagine how she and her partner will navigate the ultraconservative world they live in. I doubt they will live around people like you find at Calvary Episcopal Church who won't bat an eye at their lifestyle and will love them just like any other family with little kids. But maybe embarking on this adventure of creating life and raising up a person they will call theirs (regardless of the legal truths) will help Mary and her family find the courage and grace that the two mommies at church display.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A message from the Boss.

On Election Night, DFA-endorsed candidate Barbara McIlvaine Smith was down by 19 votes in her race for the Pennsylvania state house. She refused to concede, saying, "It is not about winning or losing... It's about making sure our democracy is intact."

Earlier this week the count of absentee and military paper ballots concluded, and Barbara won by 23 votes -- switching the Pennsylvania House from Republican to Democratic for the first time in 12 years.

This powerful victory happened because every paper ballot was counted. But across America votes are increasingly being cast electronically with no paper record. Had the election in Pennsylvania been conducted electronically there is no saying how the race might have been decided.

You helped elect a new Democratic House and Senate in Washington, D.C. It's time to put our majority into action. Ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put paper ballots on the agenda in the new Congress's first 100 hours:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/paperballots

The danger of paperless elections is clear. Look at Sarasota County, Florida. They use paperless touch screen voting machines. In the hotly contested Congressional race there, Election Night ended with Republican Vern Buchanan ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings by less than one-quarter of one percent. This triggered an automatic recount.

On November 20, state election officials certified Buchanan as the winner by 369 votes, despite the fact that there were 18,000 "under-votes" in the county. An under-vote is when a machine reports a vote cast for another office, but not for the Congressional seat. The percentage of under-votes in Democratic leaning Sarasota County was far higher than in surrounding counties. And many voters reported that their votes were not recorded on their electronic ballot. Some said the machine skipped the race while others couldn't find the race listed at all.

Currently this contest is being litigated in the courts. But the results of this election will be forever in doubt because there are no paper ballots to review.

This is unacceptable. Congress has the power to mandate that all elections take place using paper ballots. Ask the new Democratic majority to make it a priority:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/paperballots

Jim Dean
Chairman
Democracy For America


P.S. Would it kill you to mention Vote By Mail in your comments to Speaker Pelosi?
I am not above buying Pez for those who do....

Demand Change
Brad

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Class Act

I know that I promised y'all when I wrote my first blog post, that I would not do any more sappy, sentimental blog entries, and I fully intended to stand by that promise. However, something is happening this week, and it needs to be acknowledged.

As of Friday, Steve Cohen will no longer be my State Senator. His leaving will be for the greater good, and I can't wait to see what the Congressman does for the city.

The summer of 1992 was a turning point in my life. I had left the really small college I had attended for the past two years due to some personal circumstances, and I was getting ready to start at the really big local university here in town. I was looking for something to keep me sane, and I knew that my exciting venture in retail was not it. In the strip mall across the street from East High school, you could find the Clinton/Gore headquarters, the Harold Ford Sr. campaign, and Steve Cohen's headquarters. I stopped one day to get a Clinton/Gore bumper stricker for my car, and a friend of mine was there. He encouraged me to stay and volunteer for the Presidential campaign. I did. I spent the whole summer working there and I loved it. One day, I wandered down the parking lot to see someone who was in Senator Cohen's headquarters. I had been yelled at, and it was too much for my nineteen year old naive self to handle. Steve convinced me to stay down at his headquarters and work for him. It was the beginning of my political career.

From there, I went to Nashville and I was his legislative intern (I was there first, Marek). After that, I was the only paid staff when he ran for Governor in 1994. In 1996, I worked on his Congressional race. I actually managed the Senate campaign while he ran for Congress, so even though the Congressional race didn't end the way we expected, I actually won that year. This year, of course, I graduated to the lofty and important, Finance Director for Cohen for Congress.

But enough about me ....

Steve is the kind of legislator you want fighting for the issues that you believe in and fighting against the issues you disagree with. My father, the staunch Republican, says that he may not always agree with Steve, but he definitely knows where he is coming from when he votes. He is a man who believes in the Constitution. Not parts of it. All of it. He makes me proudest when he is the lone vote for/against an issue, because I know, without a doubt, that he is taking his responsibility as my State Senator seriously.

Steve is leaving the Senate in the best way possible - he is getting out of the way so that the tax payers don't have to pay for an extra special election. It will allow his replacement time to raise some money before session starts, and Steve will be able to focus on the business at hand. It is the end of an era, and Steve will be missed.

So, thanks Steve, for the memories. Thank you for my Best Actress award from Los Angeles. Thank you for my poster of the Kennedy brothers. Thank you for letting me vote when you had to leave the floor that one time. Thank you for hiring me so that I can be a paid political operative every now and then. Thank you for all of the friends that I made on your campaigns. Thank you for all your good votes and good legislation, and thank you for finally passing the lottery.

Now, about your replacement ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Does anybody know the meaning of Christmas?

I realize that this is a blog about politics (and promissory estoppel and chitlins (?)).

I also understand (unlike Harold Ford, Sr.) that we do not live in a Christian community (or, for that matter, a Christian nation). However, given that on December 25 of every year, virtually every commercial establishment in the United States of America is closed – no small event in the life of our capitalist nation - anyone not engaged in observing Christmas is forced either to (a) create a unique tradition of their own or (b) knuckle under and pay homage to the holiday.

That means that, by a huge margin, a majority of us are involved (to a greater or lesser extent, voluntarily) in observing Christmas in some way. My anecdotal evidence is that many of us are increasingly bored and disgusted with the typical American observance of the hyper-extended holiday season, starting as it does earlier every year, almost in October by now.

Like the environmental choices we make, how we manifest our “holy days” either helps to preserve us individually and culturally, or it contributes to the squandering of our individual and collective souls. To give the devil his (her?) due, I think this whole thing has gotten out of hand on the watch of the acquisitive Baby Boomer generation. So, one thing you kids can do here is help us help ourselves, ok?

Several years back, I attended a Sunday school class featuring an invaluable book that I commend to you: Unplugging the Christmas Machine: How to Have the Christmas You’ve Always Wanted, by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli.

This class was right after the service where I sang in the choir for 7 years (and I, like Jr.’s mama, dragged and continue to drag the Desinator, Jr. to church with me - who says Democrats don’t have traditional family values?).

Anyway, the point of the book, and class, was to help us:

• inventory the things we do and traditions we impose on ourselves each year in the name of the “Christmas Season”
• determine what, if any, of those activities and traditions have any real meaning for us
• identify our values and roles related to Christmas
• imagine our “fantasy Christmas”*
• and plan how to better align our fantasy Christmas and values with reality during the holiday season.

Several interesting observations resulted. 1) Women by far are the creators and enforcers of holiday traditions. 2) Men by far feel that too much fuss is made at Christmas. 3) We spend too much money and get stressed anticipating the bills. 4) When asked to meditate on *our “perfect” Christmas (anyone you wanted, dead or alive, could be there, or not, as you wished; you could choose the location, activities, weather, food; you could choose which traditions to keep or trash), I and my closest friends in the class all had virtually identical Christmas fantasies that involved getting away together with our nuclear families to a quiet, cold, snowy place where we would have plenty of leisure time together and our kids could play outside and we wouldn’t feel exhausted with all our attempts to create Christmas for everyone.

This all came to mind this weekend as I went around town and found myself being subliminally bombarded with insipid Christmas carols and symbols everywhere, 29 shopping days before Christmas.

The images we are primed to anticipate, to paraphrase from Unplugging the Christmas Machine, are that “our families will be together and we will be happy. Our children will be well behaved and grateful. Spouses and partners will be nurturing, kind, appreciative and generous. We will have enough money and enough time to buy all our presents and to entertain all our friends. We will have fun, be warm, be safe and we will be truly loved.”

Now, far be it from me to be cynical, but it just doesn’t always work out for me that way. You?

So, once again, I am dedicating myself to…

THE CHRISTMAS PLEDGE (adapted from Unplugging the Christmas Machine)

Believing in the meaning and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself:

1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.

2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.

3. To rededicate myself to spiritual awareness during this season.

4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true meaning of Christmas.**

5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.

**To quote noted Christmas expert, Linus, in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and goodwill toward men,' And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Friday, November 24, 2006

MI?: Blogging about Race in Memphis

Bob over at 55-40 has issued a request for comment on this inane Talking Points post featuring a shocking tale of black and white Memphians dining and co-existing peaceably at Interstate Barbecue.

After reading Josh Marshall's profile over on his blog, I think I understand what his problem is. This caught my eye: "Marshall graduated from Princeton in 1991 and holds a doctorate in American history from Brown. He lives in New York City with his wife Millet and their dog Simon [and apparently since that was written, their 5 year old daughter]."

Anyone with that background is far more likely to be intimately familiar with the societal quirks and mysteries of Nantucket in August than a Memphis barbecue joint. I believe the appropriate term for his ilk is "Yankee limousine liberal". If he were anything else, he wouldn't be raving about the "pork ribs" at Interstate Barbecue, he'd be telling us about the barbecue baloney sandwich.

I've always thought that people like that should be made to open hot car door handles full time for a week in August in Memphis.

Update: Mea culpa - Autoegocrat has kindly pointed out that the post was written by David Kurtz, not Josh Marshall. Since I have no information on Mr. Kurtz' provenance and education, I guess we should spare him my suggested YLL punishment although, on second thought, I'm not sure why. Anyone who writes:
I was struck as I looked around at the restaurant's patrons--half black, half white--that this is Memphis. This is the South. So when someone like Bob Corker comes along and runs a race-baiting campaign against a black man like Harold Ford, dredging up old prejudices and old fears, and wins, I am angry and disappointed, but I don't despair the way I used to,
obviously is not our kind, dear. He might as well be pointing out how he was struck in noticing the curvature of the earth that "this is the earth - it is round". It's well educated, intelligent people who know little about Memphis or the South who reduce our culture to a one dimensional world of racism fueled point/counterpoint.

In any event, our blogger could obviously use a little exposure to real life here in the South. First, to help him cope with the shock of what he witnessed - what did he expect, white and colored bathrooms in 2006? Or that the owner would jerk his own daughter up when she and Marshall's white daughter started playing, saying, "honey, we don't play with their kind"?

Second, to alert him to the fact that race is in fact a pervasive and omnipresent factor of life in Memphis in fundamental ways that are much more complex than the demographics of the patrons of a restaurant on any given day.

I've been intending to post on the topic of race relations in Memphis for some time now. From where I sit, it is the single biggest factor affecting Memphis: it has to a large extent directed the physical layout of the Memphis metropolitan area, including DeSoto County, as over time whites have periodically fled their neighborhoods as blacks moved in; it is the primary reason that the Memphis City Schools student population is 86% black (according to this) and only 8.5% white; it has kept us from achieving the economic vitality of other Southern cities like Charlotte, Nashville and Atlanta, and has resulted in wealth being concentrated in a small, primarily white, percentage of our population.

There seems to be an automatic suspicion of whites on the part of many blacks, and a desire for avoidance and lack of awareness of the whole issue by many whites. Both groups are overly quick to accuse the other of "playing the race card". During my 46 years living in Memphis, there does not seem to have been any appreciable change in the segregated nature of the private lives of most black and white Memphians, integrated public facilities and workplaces notwithstanding. I'm not sure what it says about our city when the most integrated setting I know of is a Grizzlies basketball game.

Your thoughts? (Keep it civil, please.)

Holiday Productions, Revisited



If you're looking for something a little different to help you get in the holiday spirit (besides that 5 a.m. trip to Walmart Friday), I can recommend two Memphis theatre productions that illuminate the meaning of the season - and won't cause you to feign death to convince your companion to leave at intermission.

Circuit Playhouse has The Santaland Diaries, based on the anti-Christmas cult classic short story by David Sedaris. And the new Hattiloo Theatre on Marshall is offering They Sing Christmas up in Harlem, an African-American adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

In case you don't listen to NPR or read The New Yorker, I'll just mention that Sedaris is one of the funniest writers around. If you haven't read the stories in his memoir, Me Talk Pretty One Day, you should go out right now and buy it - if you want to laugh so hard you will not be able to breathe. This is a guy who can make a visit to Anne Frank's home funny. The Santaland Diaries is David Sedaris' account of his job one holiday season as a Christmas elf at Macy's department store in New York City. It runs Thursday through Saturday nights until December 23.

The Hattiloo Theatre is a new theatre venue in Memphis that, per its website, www.hattilootheatre.org, focuses on "interpreting and illuminating the Black experience through high-quality productions written by Black playwrights, featuring Black casts, and/or including the talents of Black directors, designers, or other theatre artists". I saw They Sing Christmas Up in Harlem tonight, and it was engaging and a refreshing new slant on an old story. It runs Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons until December 24.

What Would Jesus Think?

Jesus' commandment to love your neighbor as yourself apparently isn't the inerrant word of God - at least not to members of the Christian Coalition.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Rev. Joel Hunter, the newly appointed president-elect of the conservative evangelical group, resigned before even taking office after he concluded that
he would be unable to broaden the organization's agenda beyond opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

He hoped to include issues such as easing poverty and saving the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," Hunter said. "They pretty much said, "These issues are fine, but they're not our issues; that's not our base,' " Hunter said.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Eric Keroack

Bush appointed a man named Eric Keroack to be the new chief of family planning for the Department of Health and Human Services. There is one little problem. Mr. Keroack is the medical director for an organization called A Woman's Concern, which "supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts." So, basically, the best person in the country to deal with issues of birth control and family planning according to the President, is a person who only believes married people should have sex and only if they want to have a baby, because they can't use birth control.

Good job, Mr. President.

Luckily, there are some people on the other side of the issue who have some better ideas.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

SteveCo

I found this via Wonkette, and it made me laugh, so I am sharing it with you. The Morning News suggests that we will know Bush is getting along with the Dems when he starts using his famous nicknames on them. The suggestion for Congressman Elect Cohen (doesn't that sound good?) is SteveCo. For some reason, I would love to see that conversation.

Be a Leader

If you're reading this post, chances are you're a moderate or liberal voter who lives in Memphis (or Shelby County). Chances are also that you are one of the many who stop by to read the posts here and on other blogs but don't comment, don't get involved in the discussion. At least, that's what David Holt, the rightful owner of this blog, and other bloggers tell me. According to bloggers with access to site meters, they get hundreds of hits a day, even though sometimes it looks based on the number of comments like the same dozen people talk to each other on the blogs.

That's ok - as I've been told, there are a lot of people who don't feel informed enough or qualified enough to publish their opinions or questions or suggestions for all to see, or who are concerned about getting out there with a position due to their employment or other connections that could be put at risk. I guess it takes someone who has slightly exhibitionist qualities, or the healthy ego that usually accompanies the urge to tell people what the story is, to comment on blogs and, for certain, to blog.

All these different roles on blogs translate pretty well to the political process.

We sorely need good candidates who are willing to put themselves out there and run for office. But candidates also need people to step up and help in their campaigns, people like treasurers, folks who put out signs, call voters on the phone, go door to door, raise money, etc. Not everyone can be the candidate, nor would most people in their right minds want to be.

We've been lucky this year to have several people who were willing to put themselves, their families, their money and their time on the line to run for local office. County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, newly elected Memphis City Schools district 2 board member Betty Mallott, Congressman-elect Steve Cohen, all of whom won their races, come to mind - I know I'm leaving out others but, Lord, we've had a lot of elections this year so I'm just mentioning those who come to mind because I supported them. Just as importantly, there are those candidates who ran and didn't win, including (without limitation, as we lawyers say) all of the Ninth District primary candidates, the countywide candidates for office in August, Bill Morrison and, most famously, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. All of these folks, whether they won or lost, sacrificed their personal lives, worked overtime and went into financial and personal debt during their campaigns.

There are scores of others who helped all of the candidates who ran this past year. There are so many that I won't attempt to name anyone in particular, because there are surely many I would miss.

All of these people, including those who worked in campaigns, and didn't run for office, are leaders for change. At some point, they decided to quit sitting out the dance, and decided to go out there and participate.

We need to encourage this culture of leadership. We all like to complain and pontificate about the sorry state of our government (although after last week, Democrats can look forward to being, we hope, a lot happier), whether that government is national, state or local. Many of us tend to feel like there is little we can do to change things.

But that's not so. Until Steve Mulroy and Betty Mallott decided to run for office, they were just minding their own business teaching law and volunteering at Ridgeway High School, respectively. Steve Cohen occupied a comfortable seat in the state legislature. Ed Stanton was practicing law at Fed Ex. Marvell Mitchell was running a successful business. Tyson Pratcher was working for Hillary Clinton. There was something that impelled them to give up that comfortable situation and run for office - and it must have been a feeling that something needed to be done and that they were just as capable as the next guy of doing it.

If you want change, start thinking now what you can do to be a leader in making it happen. The next regular elections (for Mayor and all of the City Council seats) don't take place until next October. So you have plenty of time to mull it over, talk to people who might want to run, decide whether you are such a person, or find out how you might get involved to help someone who is going to run for office.

Your role can be a lot or a little, but in either case, you will be a leader. Then, as you sit in your office, or in class, or at your child's soccer game, or at a dinner party, you can feel like you have some control over how your community works and how that affects your life.

Think about it. More on this later.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans' Day

Come Veterans' Day I sat in the stands in my dress blues
I held your mother's hand
When they passed with the red, white and blue
One minute you're right there ... and something slips...


On Veteran’s Day, we’re supposed to remember. Everyone says they honor the men and women that have served this country. I guess most people mean it, even if they have a funny way of showing it. One of my earliest memories of knowing a veteran was some time in the 80s, and a friend too me to a picnic. There was a man there that just sat and stared at the kids on the swing set, a distant, sad smile on his face. When we asked what was wrong with him, my friend’s parents just said that he was “shell shocked”. This was a new concept to me. I had no idea what it really meant, except that this man wasn’t really able to function normally. We now call this “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, and as an adult, I have a better idea about what a nightmare this condition must be.

But does our increase in understanding of the things a veteran deals with show in our actions as a nation? If you look at the legislation passed by Congress in the last few years, the answer is no. But for some reason, Republicans enjoy the perception that they are the ones that care about our military. They are the ones that “support the troops”, even though they deny them of all but their most spare needs, and sometimes not even that.

I don’t see many people actually following through with the “Support Our Troops” magnets on their cars. Something about a magnet itself is insulting. It’s as if they are saying, “I support the troops, but not enough to damage the paint on my car and hurt my resale value”. But to them, voting Republican and spending themselves deeper and deeper into debt is equal to patriotism.

I’m sorry, but you can’t say you support the troops, and at the same time vote for politicians who will send our sons and daughters into war without proper armor, or even proper food to eat. Then when veterans return home, they find the Republican Congress has slashed their benefits to the point that finding proper medical care is impossible. Does anyone realize that we already have Iraq and Afghanistan veterans living on the street? Why aren’t we all screaming about this?

Body armor has been an issue for years now. Too many of our troops were sent in with either no body armor, or insufficient body armor that only covers the front. Some said that body armor that only covers the front is better than nothing. This is true only if you happen to get shot in the front. If you are shot in the back, it is worse. Why? Because if you are shot in the back, and you have only frontal body armor, the bullet goes through your body, and ricochets off of the armor. The bullet then goes back through you and tears up your insides.

Every chance they get, the outgoing Republican Congress has slashed veterans’ benefits. Most recently, they cut the already skimpy funding for traumatic brain injury in half. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become the signature injury of this war, as Agent Orange was with Vietnam. Military hospitals screened every wounded service member who had been injured in explosions, vehicle accidents, falls, or gunshot wounds near the neck or face, and found TBI in up to 97% of these cases, the higher percentages being among Marines. (MORE)

With these numbers, one has to wonder who is really “supporting the troops” when Republicans callously slash aid to these guys in the interest of tax cuts for the wealthy. IF you go to the website for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America LINK, you can view their ratings for each Congressman and Senator. Overwhelmingly, Democrats get higher grades on veterans’ and military issues. The methodology of their grading is explained on their site in detail, but basically it is based on several key votes and the effect those votes have on veterans and active military.

It’s heartbreaking. Everything from the body armor situation, to Halliburton feeding our troops expired food (LINK), this country has treated it’s service members worse than dogs. One of my favorite people in the world is my best friend’s grandfather. His name is Richard Mowery, and he is a veteran of World War II. He was one of the first Marines to land on Guadalcanal, and he later went to Japan. In Japan, he lost his leg.

Several years ago, Mowery was contacted by a man who was writing a book about the Marines on Guadalcanal. He talked to the man a lot, and related a lot of his memories of the time. One of his memories was of about one of their commanding officers becoming seasick on the boat, and as soon as they hit land he went into the bushes to vomit. They advanced into the jungle and never saw him again. All that time, over sixty years, Mowery had assumed the officer had been taken care of by the medics. In truth, the author said, he had been killed when he wandered away from the company.

Now 85, Mowery (we all call him Grandpa) has moved to Nashville to live with his granddaughter (who is my best friend) and her children. There was a time in her childhood when she didn’t have a stable home, and he and his wife had stepped up and took her in for two years. The time she spent living with her grandparents was one of the only stable times in her childhood. Bringing him to live with her family was a no-brainer.

He’s quite able and in pretty good health. His missing leg is not a disability and does not stop him from getting around. He drives, gets around the house either on crutches or in a rolling office chair, and he plays the organ and loves spending time with his great-grandkids, as well as visiting family and friends. I think of him on veterans’ day because the time he opened his home to a somewhat neglected nine year old girl is probably the only reason my friend is not a deeply troubled adult. His military service is just one part of his life. But I can say for sure that he has indeed made the world a better place through sacrifice, and a loving, open hearted approach to the world.

Here's to you Grampa!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Join the Final Push for Living Wage.

**I really hope that everyone who cares about this important issue will please try and find the time to attend. In the past two years, I have watched the LW movement grow and make REAL progress for the people of this city. These guys worked very hard, and I am really proud to be a part of this coalition.
Brad

After more than 3 years of community action, the
City Council will hold its final vote on the living wage
for workers on city contracts
Tuesday, November 21st

City Council Final Vote on Living Wage for City Contractors
Tuesday, November 21st
4:00 p.m.
125 N. Main St.
We will hold a brief prayer vigil inside City Hall before attending the vote.

Please join us to help the hard-working people who keep our City buildings
clean and secure win a living wage.
We expect this to be a close vote - your presence is critical!
Help make Memphis the first Tennessee community to pass a living wage ordinance.

Wear your living wage tee-shirt or something else red. Need a living wage tee-shirt?

Make an on-line donation of $15 or more,
and we'll send you one; or call us at 332-3570 to order one.

What is happening with temporary City workers? The Council's Personnel Committee discussed this week whether temporary City workers should be paid a living wage. While there seems to be some resistance on the Council to paying temporary workers $12 an hour (which we have suggested because they receive no benefits), there are several Council members who seem willing to raise temporary workers to $10 per hour, which is the minimal amount all full-time City workers must be paid. The Personnel Committee will vote on Nov. 21st on a proposal to bring temporary workers up to $10 per hour. Call your Council members now, or join us at the committee meeting. If you want to be notified of when the committee meeting will be, send Rebekah an email at msinterfaith@yahoo.com and she will send you the Council committee schedule as soon as it becomes available.
Confused about the status of the Living Wage ordinance? For an easy to read chart that shares the victories we've won and the areas the Council is still debating, go to: http://www.midsouthinterfaith.org/index/living_wage/current_action.htm

Rev. Rebekah Jordan
Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice
3035 Directors Row, Building B, Suite 1207
Memphis, TN 38131
(901) 332-3570
(901) 332-3532 (fax)
msinterfaith@yahoo.com
www.midsouthinterfaith.org
Make a secure online donation to the Mid-South Interfaith Network at: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?id=2312

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vote By Mail for Tennessee-Part One

Hello all, of course I am on cloud nine just like everyone else over the Democratic victory last night, as everyone else has pretty much covered it, let me just say....HELL YES!
Now, yesterday was also a day that opened a lot of people's eyes to some of the serious problems related to electronic voting. Memphis was no exception, thankfully there SEEMS to be no major problems with the RESULT this election....I guess we have already had our turn. At any rate this summer DFM's Frank Burhart-Polar Donkey brought up the idea of Oregon's Vote By Mail system at a DFT issues retreat in Nashville. After looking over the facts that came out of the research, we were amazed at how accurate, cost effective and simple the solution really is.
Democracy For Memphis and Democracy For Tennessee have endorsed and will be working on a long term project for Tennessee Vote By Mail. VBM, is cheaper, more secure, and increases voter turn out, and since adoption the Oregon model has had a strong following of support across political,economic and racial lines. This is a serious problem and despite all of our ideological variations, we all are concerned about the sanctity of the American vote. A week ago VBM was concidered obscure and radical,today after the myriad problems made manifest on election day we now sit at a time where VBM is quickly gaining momentum in many parts of the nation.
**Back in September I submited research and a power point presentation on VBM to the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee. I am thrilled to announce that the local Party has also endorsed exploring a VBM system for Shelby County and Tennessee. I want to thank my fellow committee members, for their support, offers of help and insightful questions. Personality Cults and Racial hostility have deeply divided this Party, Issues, like Vote By Mail, and JUST CAUSE can unite it. To continue electoral success Democrats need to focus on doing the one thing that will assure future success....and that is to help make people's lives better. We do not need new slogans, or silly nick nacks to win, we have to reconnect to the Memphis/Shelby County community and let them know that they are the ones who we are fighting for.
We Democrats are going to bring a VBM system for this County and this State to secure our voting system and renew voter confidence.
We Democrats are going to pass Just Cause laws on the local and state level to protect the rights of working people.
.....it may take a long time, but I have got nothing better to do.

Finally, on behalf of the State Steering Committee of Democracy For Tennessee want to thank SCDP Chair Matt Kuhn for his support for exploring VBM, and his "Shout out" to VBM on the Mayor's Council Show. "See, people really do watch those shows." The Chair and I have not always agreed, but I want to personally thank him, and am glad that we both feel that this issue can be something of real value to not only Progressives and Democrats but this entire community.
In the coming year DFM and hopefully the SCDP and any other collection of letters that want to join in will be hosting a series of informational Town Hall meetings on this subject, to not only inform the public about VBM, but to open the doors to conversations that could also lead the way to other potential reforms like Publicly Financed Campaigns , or stronger local Campaingn Finance Reform....well..I can dream.
At any rate anyone who is curious about VBM please Email me at Brad@democracyformemphis.com. I will be happy to send you a copy of the power point presentation, and our VBM background information packet as well.

Demand Change

Next....

AP: Hastert won't seek House leader post

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 22 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Triggering a post-election shake-up,
Dennis Hastert announced Wednesday he will not run for leader of House Republicans when Democrats take control in January.

zen...

I am happy.

Really. I had no idea what a weight I was carrying around until this morning whet I got out of bed and almost hit the ceiling. Is this happening?

But we cant afford to become complacent. We all love our newly elected Congress. But we have to stay on top of them. We all need to keep up with what they are doing. Pay attention to how they are voting, and call them on it he we dont like what we are seeing.

Its called Democracy. We have to keep it up.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Let me just says hugs and love to everyone, everywhere to cover the sappy, life-is-great feelings we all are having and posting about right now. Everyone else beat me to it, so I'll save you my exhilaration. You know how I feel. You feel the same way.

Now comes the hard part. We won. Now let’s govern. Now we need to push forward an increase in the minimum wage, improved access to healthcare, sane energy policies, stem cell research, a change in strategy in Iraq, real ethics reform, etc. We need to reach out and show the country what adult leadership is like. Forget impeachment. Let’s focus on issues. Let’s focus on improving life for real Americans who aren’t corporate titans. Let’s make Bush veto bills that have such popular support that his own mother will be embarrassed for him. Let’s run away from the temptation to be the new K-Street party that replaces the old K-Street party. We all need to lend our support to our Democratic leaders who are going to make this happen.

Most of us have been working our butts off for months. We’ve had three elections in a short period of time. We could all use some time off. Take it. Enjoy it. Now get back to work. I have to focus for the next month on law school finals, so I am leaving my blog in the very capable hands of some great Democrats. When I come back, I want to start putting more focus on issues that I care about. I also want to focus on some of the big stories coming down the pike in Memphis. The new executive committee will be elected in March and April. We need to elect a strong committee that can work together, and I want to be a part of that process. The 2008 elections are coming faster than you think, and we need to be ready. I will be running for reelection. I’ve learned a lot in the year and half I have served as vice-chair. The main thing I want to try to implement in the next term is an internship program. Steve Cohen’s campaign has shown how well college interns can be used in local politics. Now, instead of putting them in a big Congressional race, imagine a team of interns working for the whole slate of party candidates. Imagine the effect 4 or 5 interns could have on a small race like County Commission District 5 or a close race like Shep Wilburn’s. I want to see what the party can work out with local universities to get students working with the party for credit. It’s a win for everyone. The party gets a degree of manpower it didn’t have before, the students gain experience and credit, and we groom future leaders. I have tons of other ideas, but that is the one I am most excited about.

We also need to elect a good Democrat to replace Steve Cohen in the state senate. I plan on being involved in that race and already have a name in mind. We’ll cover that issue when it’s time, but it will be a fun race. The mayor’s race may be interesting, but I expect I know the result already. I probably will stay out of that race, but I expect the city council will have some exciting races. More likely than not, Carol Chumney will be leaving her seat, and this district is always an exciting one. Finally, the Presidential race starts today. Let’s see if we can get 1 or 5 of them down here for some Kennedy Day-type events so the next committee starts with a bank account. The race will be interesting, and I’m sure we’ll all be quite opinionated when the time comes.

So goodbye. I’ll see you again some time around Dec 15. Until then I need to be productive. Be nice to my replacements, and feel free to call them names. Also assume that they don’t speak for me. They’re all bossy, opinionated rabble-rousers who I should never want to be associated with. That’s why I love them and invited them. I expect they will all show me up quite often (they already have,) but my ego is so massive that I can take it. So, without further ado, let’s give a warm West Tennessee Liberal welcome to Desi, Brad, Meg, Don, Dabney, and John. Thanks so much, you guys rule.

WHOOHOO! Here we go!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 -- 1:00 PM ET
------------------------------------------------------------

Rumsfeld Intends to Resign, G.O.P. Officials Say

Donald H. Rumsfeld intends to resign after six years as secretary of defense, Republican officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na

Like I said, The Future of Shelby County Politics Starts Today

First things first:

CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRESSMAN COHEN!

Doesn't that sound sweet?

I will be interested to see what the Shelby County precinct vote totals show regarding the breakdown by race, both in this race and in the Senate race. Here's hoping there is racial crossover that will truly prove that we here in Memphis are making some progress together on that front. Many black Democrats believe that, although black Memphians vote for white candidates, whites won't vote for black candidates. So let's see how this shakes out and what it says on that point.

I intend to have a lot to say on the race relations front going forward. It's a conversation we need to have - and not on a blog that trumpets sexual aids being inserted into orifices of local attorneys.

Next, from today's Commercial Appeal:

Democrat Steve Cohen on Tuesday ended the 32-year reign of the Ford political family in the 9th Congressional District.

I have to say that, although that is a wonderful headline to wake up to, Steve didn't end the reign of the Ford political family here all by himself. He had a lot of help from Harold Ford, Sr. and Jake Ford, aided and abetted by Harold Ford, Jr.

Let it soak in. This is a sea change politically for Memphis that cannot be overstated.

And what it does not mean is that now Memphis has gone over to the dark side (Chism/Herenton). What is means is that we have moved beyond a political machine that values dynasty over merit (I'm not referring to Corker here), that has taken the approach of giving a man a fish instead of teaching a man to fish, that has used its enormous organizational talents and proud constituent service record and huge name recognition to perpetuate its own power, regardless of the damage to, and deterrence of, Memphis political leadership.

I for one hope that we Democrats won't view this as a chance to trumpet one faction's ascension over another's decline. As we Shelby County Democrats move forward, we really need to make the most of this opportunity for change. We have the opportunity now to mold a strong local party that can recruit and support great local leadership and become a real force in Tennessee. Let's quit the conniving and bickering and use this historic change in dynamics and power to unify and forge success.

We Won!

I was really excited when David sent me an invitation to join his blog, but I decided to wait until the day after Election Day to make my first post, because I didn't want to do anything to interfere with the campaign. The campaign is over now, and I wanted to use my first post to say thank you.

Kevin - You ran an awesome campaign. I have had so much fun working with you on this one. Your passion for politics and your ability to break down the nine square box is amazing. I am looking forward to the next project, and I wish you only the best.

Liz - Wow. Who knew an art school grad could kick ass and take so many names? You have toppled a machine by going door to door and it was amazing to watch. The next shot of the "dirtiest nastiest stuff they got" is on me.

Craig - You are great, and I am so glad we got to spend so much time together. You drove down from Nashville and helped out so much. I can't wait to watch you take over DC. You still owe me a game of Scrabble, though.

Marek - What can I say about you? You brought in all of these interns and got them excited about politics, while harassing them with your facebook messages. The campaign would have been completely boring without you. You are going to go far in politics, and I will one day be able to say that I knew you when.

Brittany - You were a fabulous intern. You picked everything right up, and saved me a bunch of headaches. I told you all of this last night at the party, but I really do mean that anything I can do to help you I will.

Alex, Christy, Cristan, Crystal, Daniel, Duncan, Erica, Jeremy, Jessie, Jonathan, Katie, Kenneth, Michael, Norvell, Savannah, Stephanie, Tyler, and William - the fall interns - Y'all rock! You knocked the ball out of the park and did everything we asked you to do. Y'all have given me hope for the future of Democratic politics, and I have no doubt that y'all will all change the world.

Rick, Pam, Chris, Derek, David, Steve - the merry band of bloggers - y'all have entertained me on a daily basis. Thank you all for your support and your friendship. I am in awe of your collective talents, and I thank you for sharing it with me.

I also wanted to say thank you to all of the volunteers, the voters, and everyone who had even a tiny part in this campaign. We did it!

If I left someone out, please know that it was not my intention to do so, but my brain is still a little fuzzy from last night.

My posts won't always be this sappy and sweet. There are plenty of issues that get me fired up, and I promise to talk about them soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Helpful Remainder

Brought to You By Everyone's Favorite Corrupt Machine:





This Berclair White Devil thanks them for their help.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Goodnight Irene

Ok, so here we are, like the night before Christmas, and all the posting and trash talking are done. We all have had the chance to give our two cents, or at least enough of it for others to understand, so All Glocks Down! To be honest, I was just about to turn off the computer and watch DEXTER, but before that I just wanted to say to all of the Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, Fed-upers,Socialists,Free Thinkers,Sharks, Jets, Alliance, Horde,Breathmint, Candymint...etc. That I wish you all the best of luck tommorrow. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I also thought that we needed a little something to lighten the mood...so here is my small hollow gesture. President Bush's next target in the War on Terror.

The Future of Shelby County Politics Starts November 8th

No matter what happens in the Tennessee Senate race tomorrow (it seems that, at best, it's going to be a nail biter - I'm a glass half full kind of girl), those of us who are focused on Tennessee and, specifically, Memphis year round will have a short quiet period ahead in which to focus on a series of important upcoming political events.

*The 2007 county Democratic convention will be in March/April.

The period since the August, 2005 convention has been filled with a lot of chaos and commotion, some learning and some accomplishments by the executive committee. I have sensed some settling in lately after a turbulent first year.

The new committee members have been learning the tricks of the trade, i.e., how procedural rules and strategies work, and the old timers have been adapting to the change in the group's dynamics and focus as a result of the 2005 convention.

All of us have been getting to know - and sizing up - and building glue - with members of the executive committee and local politicos who are not part of our "factions", and bumbling through learning how the dynamics work given the diversity of the executive committee elected in 2005.

Progress has been made, but the glue building work needs to continue.

I'll have a whole lot more to say about the upcoming county convention going forward. For now, I'll just mention that it would be really fine if the various groups and factions could agree on the desired attributes of the Chair and, in fact, on a consensus candidate for Chair.

That done, we could focus on electing a great committee and be assured that those running are doing it based on their own interest in serving, and not just to get their faction's candidate elected as chair.

*Then, in October, 2007, the entire City Council and the city Mayor will be elected. Lots of opportunities in these races to have a major impact on Memphis leadership. Candidate recruitment/endorsement efforts should become a major focus of local Democratic/progressive groups, beginning Wednesday.

*Last but not least, we have 2008 to look forward to. It will be here before you know it. And whoever is elected to the Democratic executive committee (and as Chair) in 2007 will be involved in local party leadership during the Presidential election cycle.

I know we've all been focused on tomorrow since August 4 and before. But there actually will be political life here in Memphis after tomorrow.

Whatever happens, there will be victories to celebrate and post-mortems to conduct. Tomorrow's results should not cause us to lose focus on all we can do to affect local politics in the next year or two.

And, as we know, all politics is local.

Link to Whole Corker Ad...

Here is a link to the entire ad being sent out by Common Sense Ohio on Corker's behalf:

LINK

The context doesn't help much, as I think the first line packs the whallop. Note how the T in TERROR is faded out. Making it look like ERROR. I don't know if that is supposed to be some kind of subliminal message or what.

Corker Gets Worse...

I gasped. It's worse than the stupid "call me" ad. This from TN Guerilla Women, an article on a mailer sent out by Corker, via "Common Sense Ohio". It's got to be the most disgusting thing I've seen all season.





You really have to wonder about the polls showing Corker with such a strong lead. If Corker's doing so well, why are the wingnuts taking such extreme measures? (MSNBC just reported that Ford says USA Today will publish a poll tomorrow showing a much closer race than recent polls have indicated.)



I don't know if I believe that. But Corker is a disgusting piece of shite. That smug little face says it all. He can shrug his shoulders and "who me?" all he wants. He can say he doesn't like the race baiting. But how many times is it going to happen? The lady protests too much. He's a racist pig, even if he gets other people to do his dirty work.


I disagree with Ford on many many things. But I'm glad I voted for him because Corker is evil. Possibly as evil as Frist. Possibly worse. I don't know of any animal torture in Corker's past, as in Frist's, but I suppose there are all kinds of evil.

Latest Tn. Senate Polls

In case you haven't seen them yet...

USA TODAY Gallup state poll results - Tennessee

Likely Voters

Nov 1-4

Ford - 46%
Corker - 49%


RasmussenReports.com

Survey of 500 Likely Voters
November 4, 2006
Election 2006: Tennessee Senate


Bob Corker (R) 51%
Harold Ford, Jr. (D) 47%