Thursday, March 30, 2006


Working and going to meetings... What a way to spend a birthday... Do you think anyone would notice if I snuck out?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


So here's the scenario, Steve Mulroy pulls out a win in District 5, giving Democrats control of the County Commission. But wait... The Democratic incumbent in another seat is knocked off the ballot and the winner of the DEMOCRATIC primary was a member of the Republican Party Steering committee in 2005. So Republicans (and developers) still control everything. If we are wimps enough to just hand the race to the Republicans like that then I don't know why the Hell I spend all these hours I should be sleeping/seeing my wife/actually having a life outside of work and politics working for the party. If the filing deadline wasn't past, I'd go pull a petition as a Republican for Willingham's open seat. How long do you think it would take for them to kick me off? Let's see... A quick google would tell them I'm vice chairman of the local Democratic party and a quick look at my voting records shows that I've voted in every Democratic primary since I turned 18. Gibson was a Shelby County party officer last year and has been voting Republican since around the time I hit puberty! I might be young, but I'm not THAT young! Do you think he suddenly had a great epiphany and changed? If so, he better come and give his testimony of God telling him that Republicans are evil bastards and that Democrats are the party of everything good in the world. He better call a press conference and reign Hellfire and brimstone down upon his old party and make us look like the second coming. Barring that; he needs off the ballot now! Now look, you've gone and made me curse in my blog for the first time. I better stop typing before I pop an artery.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Come on!

Okay, so my general leanings with the whole "he's not a real Democrat" line of attack is that voters make that decision not some party hack (don't be offended all you hacks, I'm including myself) With that said, this guy was a member of the Republican steering committee here last year! Would they let me run as a Repub?!? Being a party officer is a whole other level of committment to a party that can't just be cast aside on a whim. He better have a great evangelical conversion story to go along with this. :-)

(Thanks to the Cracker for the link)

Anybody Know Anything About Gibson?

If so, drop me a line.

Del has to be loving this.

From The Commercial Appeal Today:
Bailey seeks Gibson's removal from ballot
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By Yolanda JonesContact March 28, 2006Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey's campaign has filed a request to remove another candidate from the Democratic primary ballot, citing his affiliation with the Republican Party.
Javier Bailey, Bailey's son and chairman of his campaign, filed the request with the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee Monday asking that Democratic candidate J.W. Gibson be declared ineligible to run in the primary because of his membership and association as a former officer in the Republican Party.

In a letter to Matthew Kuhn, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee, Javier Bailey called Gibson's candidacy in the Democratic primary an "infiltration and undercutting of the Democratic party by the Republicans."
He provided copies of Gibson's voting history showing that he has voted in the "past seven" Republican primaries. Gibson was also an officer with the Republican Party during the 2003 Republican Convention, according to paperwork Bailey filed with his request.
"In this case we clearly have a card-carrying Republican Party officer masquerading as a Democrat for partisan purposes," Javier Bailey wrote in the letter.
Gibson, who was at his campaign fund-raiser Monday night at the Hunt Phelan Home, said he had no response to the allegations.
But he added: "As an American I can choose to run under whatever party I feel comfortable with to serve the people. That's my position and you tell them to come with something of substance."
In his letter, Javier Bailey requested that Gibson be removed from the ballot immediately and that the Republican Party be stopped from allowing any of its officers to run in the Democratic Primary.
-- Yolanda Jones: 529-2380

Monday, March 27, 2006


Well, Margo doesn't brag on herself much, so I will. She just got her scores back from her CPA Examination and she passed all four with scores of 93, 94, 95, and 99 (out of 99). Now with that out of the way and tax season ending soon, we might actually be home at the same time at some point (assuming there is an occasional night that I'm not messing with politics.) Anyways, Margo's not a braggart, but I am, so here goes: "My wife is a genius!" :-) Now go ask for a raise, Baby. :-P


Thanks to everyone who came to the Democracy For America Training Academy. I think it was a great success. A big shout out to Brad Watkins for organizing the local aspect, and to everyone else who set up, helped, or came. Let's go out and beat some Republicans!!! (Anybody want some more sandwiches and nasty cookies?)

Friday, March 24, 2006

If you're not at training academy.

Steve is continuing to devote tremendous energy to the Campaign for the District 5 County Commission position. He is going door to door every chance he gets – too often by himself. The walkabout covers exponentially more territory and is more effective if there are several people working at the same time.
Steve is walking this Saturday from 10:00am to 12:00 noon and 1:00pm to 4:00pm and Sunday from 1:30pm to 4:00pm. Meetup at 755 South Graham at the start times for instruction and directions. There will be a cell phone number on the door if you are late.

Please respond to Steve at and reply to me to let us know if you are coming.

Thank you very much,
Lynn Strickland on behalf of Steve and the Campaign

Thursday, March 23, 2006

All Is Right In The World!!!

Memphis wins. Duke loses. And all is right in the world.

When Would Jesus Bolt?

Respond to this Article
April 2006
When Would Jesus Bolt?Meet Randy Brinson, the advance guard of evangelicals leaving the GOP.
By Amy Sullivan

The Republicans were filibustering the Bible bill. On a Tuesday afternoon in early February, Republican legislators in Alabama took to the crimson-carpeted floor of the state house to oppose legislation that would authorize an elective course on the Bible in public high schools. The recommended curriculum for the course had been vouched for by Christian Right all-stars like Chuck Colson and Ted Haggard, but so far as Republicans were concerned, there was only one pertinent piece of information about the bill: It was sponsored by two Democrats. And now Republicans were prepared to do everything in their procedural power to stop it, even if that meant lining up to explain why they could not—could not!—stand for this attempt to bring a class about the Bible into public schools.
When I came to Montgomery to watch the debate over the Bible literacy bill, I had expected something pro forma, a Bible love-fest. Alabama is, after all, God's country. On the drive from Atlanta, I sampled some of the area's many Christian radio stations to catch up on the Christian rock that doesn't get played as often in Washington—some classic Amy Grant, a little Third Day, and a new group, Jonah 33 (think 3 Doors Down, but with more Jesus lyrics). Outside, it looked like the good Lord could have reached down and molded Adam out of the red clay. This is the state that produced Judge Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments statue. Martin Luther King Jr., pastored his first church here, Dexter Avenue Baptist. In Snead, a convenience-store owner offers free coffee or soda to anyone who recites the Bible verse of the month, and people do it because it's a two-fer: Learn the Bible and get a free Dr. Pepper.

As far as people around here are concerned, you can always use a little more Bible. It's not taught in the schools very often because the Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that public schools couldn't hold devotional classes, and many school boards—unsure of how else to teach about the Bible—don't want to get sued. But when some local leaders learned last summer about a curriculum package produced by the Bible Literacy Project out of Fairfax, Va., the problem seemed to be solved. The course presents the Bible in a historical and cultural context—giving students a better understanding of biblical allusions in art, literature, and music. More importantly, it has been vetted by conservative and liberal legal experts to withstand constitutional challenge.
One of the leading advocates of the Bible course, Dr. Randy Brinson, met me at entrance to the state house. Brinson, a tall sandy-haired physician from Montgomery who speaks with a twang and the earnest enthusiasm of a youth-group leader, is a lifelong Republican and founder of Redeem the Vote, a national voter registration organization that targets evangelicals. Since discovering the Bible literacy course, he has successfully lobbied politicians in Florida, Georgia, and Missouri to introduce bills that would set up similar classes. But it is here at home that he's encountered the most resistance. “You should see who's against this thing,” he told me, shaking his head.
Indeed, when Brinson and the other supporters—including several Pentecostal ministers, some Methodists, and a member of the state board of education—entered the state house chamber to make their case, they faced off against representatives from the Christian Coalition, Concerned Women of America, and the Eagle Forum. These denizens of the Christian Right denounced the effort, calling it “extreme” and “frivolous” and charging that it would encourage that most dangerous of activities, “critical thinking.” The real stakes of the fight, though, were made clear by Republican Rep. Scott Beason when he took his turn at the lectern. “This is more than about God,” he reminded his colleagues. “This is about politics.”
Actually, it's about both—a fight over which party gets to claim the religious mantle. Nationally, and in states like Alabama, the GOP cannot afford to allow Democrats a victory on anything that might be perceived as benefiting people of faith. Republican political dominance depends on being able to manipulate religious supporters with fear, painting the Democratic Party as hostile to religion and in the thrall of secular humanists. That image would take quite a blow if the party of Nancy Pelosi was responsible for bringing back Bible classes—even constitutional ones—to public schools.
The holy skirmish down in Alabama, with its “GOP blocks votes on Bible class bill” headlines, may seem like just a one-time, up-is-down, oddity. But it's really the frontline of a larger war to keep Democrats from appealing to more moderate evangelical voters. American politics is so closely divided that if a political party peels off a few percentage points of a single big constituency, it can change the entire electoral map. To take the most recent example, African Americans, who represent 11 percent of the electorate, cast 88 percent of their ballots for Democrats nationally. But Bush was able to get those numbers down to 84 percent in key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2004—and kept the White House as a result. Republican strategists recognized that a significant number of black voters are very conservative on social issues but have stayed with the Democratic Party because of its reputation for being friendlier to racial minorities. The GOP didn't need a strategy to sway the entire black community; it just needed to pick off enough votes to put the party over the top.
Democrats could similarly poach a decisive percentage of the GOP's evangelical base. In the last election, evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted for Bush. That sounds like a fairly inviolate bloc. And, indeed, the conservative evangelicals for whom abortion and gay marriage are the deciding issues are unlikely to ever leave the Republican Party. But a substantial minority of evangelical voters—41 percent, according to a 2004 survey by political scientist John Green at the University of Akron—are more moderate on a host of issues ranging from the environment to public education to support for government spending on anti-poverty programs. Broadly speaking, these are the suburban, two-working-parents, kids-in-public-school, recycle-the-newspapers evangelicals. They may be pro-life, but it's in a Catholic, “seamless garment of life” kind of way. These moderates have largely remained in the Republican coalition because of its faith-friendly image. A targeted effort by the Democratic Party to appeal to them could produce victories in the short term: To win the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry needed just 59,300 additional votes in Ohio—that's four percent of the total evangelical vote in the state, or approximately 10 percent of Ohio's moderate evangelical voters. And if the Democratic Party changed its reputation on religion, the result could alter the electoral map in a more significant and permanent way.
That's why, insiders say, the word has gone forth from the Republican National Committee to defeat Democratic efforts to reclaim religion. Republicans who disregard the instructions and express support for Democratic efforts are swiftly disciplined. At the University of Alabama, the president of the College Republicans was forced to resign after she endorsed the Bible legislation. A few states away, a Missouri Republican who sponsored a Bible literacy bill came under criticism from conservatives for consulting with Brinson and subsequently denied to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter that he had ever even heard of Brinson. But as for Brinson himself, he's already gone. “Oh, they're ticked at me,” he says. “But it's because they're scared. This has the potential to break the Republican coalition.”
Willing to play ball
Three years ago, Randy Brinson would have been the first to tell you that he was an unlikely political player and an even less likely Democratic collaborator. While his father had been a classic southern Democrat who shifted with George Wallace and made the leap to the Republican Party with Reagan, Brinson, who grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., had come of age in the new Republican South. He had worked on the campaign of the first Republican to be elected governor in South Carolina when he was in boarding school there and was an early Reagan supporter at college in Georgia in the mid-1970s. When Brinson moved his family to Montgomery after medical school, he naturally got involved in local politics, and in the late 1990s, he was a health-care advisor to the Republican governor Fob James.
But he was essentially an unknown figure until, in 2003, he figured out a way to combine his three passions—religion, politics, and music. He had already been part of a group that started WAY-FM (as in, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”), a Christian radio station based in Montgomery and carried in 44 markets. With an upcoming presidential election, Brinson realized that a religious version of MTV's Rock the Vote would have the best chance of reaching young evangelicals and getting them involved in politics. Using his own money at first, he created a non-profit called Redeem the Vote and hired the media firm that marketed Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, giving him instant access to their contacts throughout the evangelical world. Through partnerships with more than 30 Christian music acts and summer concerts like Creation East and Spirit Coast West (the Christian equivalents of Lilith Fair or Lollapalooza), Redeem the Vote registered more voters than all of the efforts of the Christian Right heavyweights—Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention, American Family Association, and the Family Research Council—combined.
Suddenly, Brinson was on the radar of national media like The Washington Post and “Nightline,” and catching the eye of fellow conservatives. With such an impressive showing his first time out and direct access to young evangelicals, the most coveted of resources, Brinson could have been on track to become a major player in the Christian Right. The old guard—figures like James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Don Wildmon, James Kennedy, Phyllis Schlafly—are all in their 70s; the future of the movement lies with people like Brinson, who are 20 or 30 years younger and have credibility with the grassroots.
So when religious conservatives convened a meeting at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington a few weeks after the election, Brinson was invited. The room was full of men who had played some role in keeping the White House in Bush's hands. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention sat at Brinson's table. Rick Warren, author of the bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life, wasn't far away. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) came over from the Hill to talk with the group. The mood was celebratory, but with an aggressive, hostile edge. They had won, and now they wanted to collect.
The main item of business that day was what to do with Santorum's colleague, the pesky pro-choice Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.). Specter held a crucial position as chair of the Judiciary Committee and had recently outraged this group by telling the press that he would apply “no litmus test” to judicial nominees. Now they wanted him gone, ousted, stripped of power. When, in the midst of escalating rhetoric, Brinson spoke up to suggest that perhaps punishing Specter wasn't the wisest decision, the idea wasn't well received. “That,” he says, “was my first inkling that I wasn't one of them.” If being a player in this world meant calling for the heads of moderate Republicans and ginning up fake controversies like a supposed “war on Christmas,” Brinson wasn't terribly interested.
Not long after, while Brinson was still turning the taste of disillusionment around in his mouth, a Democrat called from Washington. The immediate post-election conventional wisdom was that Democrats lost because they couldn't appeal to so-called “moral values” voters. Democrats immediately embarked on a crash course in religious outreach and sought out people who could teach them about evangelicals. Brinson, who had caught the attention of the Democratic youth-vote industry, seemed like an obvious choice.
As for Brinson, when the Democratic chief of staff on the other end of the line asked whether the doctor would be willing to meet with some Democrats, he thought about his recent experiences with the other side and decided “maybe it wouldn't be so bad to talk to these Democratic people.” In quick succession, the lifelong Republican found himself meeting with advisors to the incoming Democratic leaders—Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)—field directors at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and aides to Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee. What they found is that their interests overlapped: The Democrats wanted to reach out to evangelicals, and Brinson wanted to connect with politicians who could deliver on a broader array of evangelical concerns, like protecting programs to help the poor, supporting public education, and expanding health care. It had seemed natural for him to start by pressing his own party to take up those concerns, but Democrats appeared to be more willing partners. They even found common ground on abortion when Brinson, who is very pro-life, explained that he was more interested in lowering abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies than in using the issue to score political points.
Those Democrats who had initially been wary about working with a conservative evangelical Republican from Alabama found Brinson convincing. They also realized that conservatives had done them an enormous favor. “Listening to him talk,” one of them told me, “I thought, these guys bitch-slapped him, and he's willing to play ball.”
At about this time, with Bush just entering his second term, his support among evangelicals began to slip. They had turned out in record numbers to give him nearly 80 percent of their votes. And for what? Conservative evangelicals didn't like the fact that their demand to oust Specter was ultimately denied. Nor were they pleased that the Harriet Miers nomination had been bungled after it was peddled to them as a way to put one of their own on the high court. The Abramoff scandal didn't help either, with its manipulation of Christian Right leaders to support gambling interests and email messages referring to evangelicals as “wackos.”
For their part, more moderate evangelicals soured on Bush for many of the reasons that lowered his approval ratings across the board: an unpopular Social Security plan, a lack of progress in Iraq, and the failed response to Hurricane Katrina. The right-of-center magazine Christianity Today ran an editorial declaring that “single-issue politics is neither necessary nor wise.” One-third of the students and faculty at Calvin College in the heart of conservative western Michigan signed a full-page ad protesting Bush's Iraq policy when he gave a commencement address there. Many moderates were dismayed when the old guard refused to join protests against federal budget cuts that fall disproportionately on the poor in favor of what James Dobson called “pro-family tax cuts.” These moderates had supported Bush despite often disagreeing with his specific positions. But in 2005, according to an Associated Press poll, the percentage of them who believed the country was headed in the right direction dropped by 30 points.
Big business v. believers
The newly converted are the most zealous, sharing the good news with gusto to any and all comers. Every few days, Randy Brinson calls me with another revelation. Republicans? “The power structure in the Republican Party is too entrenched with big business. It's not with evangelicals—they're a means to an end.” The Christian Right? “They just want to keep the culture war going because it raises a lot of money for them.” Abramoff? “Evangelicals were being used as pawns to promote a big money agenda.” His fellow evangelicals? “Can't they see that Republicans are just pandering to them??” He once was blind, but now he sees.
What sets Brinson apart from other disgruntled evangelicals is that he has an infrastructure at his disposal. Although Redeem the Vote is still engaged in voter registration activities, Brinson has expanded its mission, branching out into issue advocacy and using the organizational capability developed during the campaign to mobilize evangelicals at a moment's notice. Last year, when a Republican state senator led an effort to shift money from Alabama's education trust fund to more conservative causes, Brinson generated nearly 60,000 email messages—nearly half of the state senate district. It didn't take long for the legislator to cry “uncle” and leave the funds for public education.
It's for this reason that Brinson has not been completely shut out of conversations in the Christian Right, and officials at the White House continue to take his calls. He has numbers behind him, and they all know it. In an uncharacteristically boastful moment, Brinson crows that Republicans “are sweating bullets because they know what we can do.”
While Brinson has been working with Democrats in Alabama on the Bible literacy bill, other evangelicals are having their own road to Damascus moments. One of them is Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and a frequent subject of profiles on “kinder, gentler” evangelicals in outlets like Newsweek and USA Today. Cizik has spent years trying to get evangelicals invested in what he calls “creation care,” the idea that God gave them responsibility for tending to the earth. His hope has been that a Republican administration would be more likely to pay attention to lobbying from its own base on issues like carbon dioxide emissions than from liberal environmentalists.
In early January, I talked to Cizik about his efforts to get evangelicals to take a stand on climate change, a move that would place considerable political pressure on the administration to take the problem seriously. The NAE represents 52 denominations with 45,000 churches and 30 million members across the country—getting them all to agree on something is no easy task, but Cizik had made impressive strides and was optimistic. Convinced that his only course of action was to work with Republicans, he spent an hour patiently explaining why evangelicals were better off trying to change Republican attitudes about the environment rather than working with Democrats who already embraced his position. Not able to help myself, I argued back. It's not as if the Bush administration doesn't support environmental policies because they hate trees. It's because they have powerful business supporters who don't like regulation. Still, Cizik held firm, insisting that evangelicals had to change “our own party.”
A month later, I ran into Cizik at the National Prayer Breakfast. That morning, he had opened up his Washington Post to find an article based on a letter to his boss from the old guard—Dobson, Colson, Wildmon, and the rest—suggesting, in the way that Tony Soprano makes suggestions, that the NAE back off its plan to take a public position on global warming. “Bible-believing evangelicals,” the letter-writers argued, “disagree about the cause, severity and solutions to the global warming issue.” The leaked letter was a blatant attempt to torpedo Cizik's efforts, and it had worked. The NAE would take no stand on climate change.
There was no doubt that the administration had prevailed on the more pliable figures of the Christian Right to whack one of their own. Cizik was beside himself. It was hard to resist the “I told you so” moment, and I didn't. But when I suggested to him that this was an example of the way that business seemed to win out most of the time when religious and business interests came into conflict in GOP politics, he stopped me. “Not most of the time,” he corrected. “Every time. Every single time.” And he's no longer sure that can change. “Maybe not with this administration.... We need to stop putting all of our eggs in one basket—that's just not good politics.”
Cizik wasn't the only example of this shift at the Prayer Breakfast. At the main event earlier in the day, keynote speaker Bono (of U2 and antipoverty crusading fame) enjoyed a far more enthusiastic reception than President Bush, whose applause was, several conservative religious leaders told me, surprisingly weak. (“He got a standing ovation when he entered, but that's because you have to stand,” observed one evangelical.) It could have had something to do with the fact that Bono highlighted this tension between what's good for corporate interests and what serves the cause of justice. He went through a litany of examples—trade agreements that make it harder for Third-World countries to sell their products, tax policies that shift debt to the next generation, patent laws that raise the price of life-saving drugs—and then put the challenge to his audience: “God will not accept that. Mine won't, at least. Will yours?”
Evangelicals—particularly centrists—are increasingly answering, “No!” Rick Warren has recently started a campaign to end global poverty, reminding his followers that “Life is not about having more and getting more—it's about serving God and serving others.” Groups like the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) are taking up Cizik's cause; 63 percent of evangelicals in a recent survey released by EEN said that global warming was an immediate concern. Half went even further, agreeing that steps needed to be taken to reduce global warming, even if it meant a high economic cost for the United States. Former National Review writer Rod Dreher has a just-published book that urges religious conservatives to question negative consequences of the free market.
The list of issues these evangelicals care about extends beyond the social hot-buttons that win elections. And yet, as Cizik notes, when they try to promote concerns that threaten the interests of big business, evangelicals are stymied every time. Observers date the latest round of religious/business tensions to the mid-1990s disagreement over whether to continue China's Most-Favored-Nation trading status. Although the issue split Democrats, the most serious dispute was within the Republican Party. Religious conservatives, led by evangelicals, argued that the United States should not trade with a country that had serious human rights abuses, including persecution of Christians. But their concerns were overridden by corporations who lusted after China's vast, largely untapped market.
More recently, evangelicals and other religious leaders have met with officials at the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to request government action to protect children from receiving pornography over wireless devices. This was a cause the Bush-Cheney campaigned trumpeted during 2004 as proof of its commitment to help parents protect their children from harmful cultural influences. That was before wireless companies weighed in to oppose the regulation, however. In their latest meeting with federal agencies, the religious leaders were politely but firmly rebuffed.
Even a simple measure to protect the rights of workers to wear religious garb such as the hijab in the workplace or to swap work schedules with a colleague on religious holidays like Good Friday hit a brick wall when business interests got involved. For 10 years, Republican congressional leaders—and, since 2001, the Bush White House—have refused to support the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (cosponsored by John Kerry and Rick Santorum) because the business lobby, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opposes the idea that employers should have to make accommodations for religious workers. In a November 2005 hearing on the legislation, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), angrily dressed down the Chamber's witness, declaring himself “incredibly disgusted, as well as disappointed” by her testimony. This earned him a rebuke from the committee chair, who reminded Souder that “private business... has the right to set the rules.”
This is hardly a new tension in the Republican coalition. In 1984, Sidney Blumenthal wrote a fascinating article in The New Republic, detailing how Reagan's political advisors struggled to sideline the religious conservatives who had put them into power. A “strategy of repressive tolerance,” he wrote, was the work of economic conservatives who found the agenda of the Christian Right inconvenient and often embarrassing. The battle plan sounds very familiar today: The Christian Right rallied its followers around issues like abortion and school prayer; the White House offered “insincere gestures of support” while instructing congressional leaders to place relevant legislation in permanent limbo; and White House aides made sure the Christian Right constituency was “maintained in a state of perpetual mobilization.”
The flaw in this strategy, Blumenthal noted, was that “The White House served as an incubator for the movement it was trying to contain.” After eight years of this, religious conservatives wised up. And when televangelist Pat Robertson entered the 1988 presidential primaries, his strong early showing stemmed in large part from the support of frustrated evangelicals. Back then, of course, the issues that the White House was working to avoid were conservative favorites like abortion and school prayer. That's still a problem for the Bush administration, but now they face dissent from the other side as well. The first time around, of course, Robertson failed to get the nomination, and most evangelicals—faced with the choice between the Episcopalian George H.W. Bush or the avowedly secular Michael Dukakis—drifted back to the GOP. What will happen in 2008 is now an open question.
Giving Karl Rove heartburn
Like an abusive boyfriend, Republicans keep moderate evangelicals in the coalition by alternating between painting their options as bleak and wooing them with sweet talk. You can't leave me—where are you going to go? To them? They think you're stupid, they hate religion. Besides, you know I love you—I'm a compassionate conservative. The tactic works as long as evangelicals don't call the GOP's bluff and as long as Democrats are viewed as hostile to religion.
Randy Brinson is proof that some evangelicals are willing to take their chances and cross over to see what Democrats have to offer. There is a growing recognition among mainstream Democrats and the once-quiescent Religious Left that they can reframe issues they care about in terms that appeal to religious voters. But winning over moderate evangelicals—or moderate religious voters generally—will take more than just repackaging old positions. It will require aggressively staking out new positions that can be used to demonstrate the tension within the GOP's religious/business coalition—embracing, for instance, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. And it means forwarding new ideas that can counter the conservative-promoted image of progressives as anti-religious—ideas like Bible-as-literature courses in public high schools, which might anger some secularists on the left but are perfectly consonant with liberal values.
A sign that Democratic leaders are beginning to get it is the plan—promoted by leaders such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton—to lower abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies. Full-throated support of this effort, and a recognition that abstinence education plays a role in lowering teen pregnancy rates (along with birth control), puts Democrats alongside the majority of voters on this difficult issue, and it is especially appealing to moderate evangelicals. They're not looking to punish everything outside of procreative marital sex; they just want to see fewer abortions take place. And because evangelicals generally don't have the same opposition to contraception that Catholics do, Democrats can promote the kind of plan that would truly reduce abortions, something Republicans—with their reliance on right-wing Catholics—can't afford to do.
Despite all of the punditry about a “God gap” at the voting booth, this is a better moment for Democrats to pick up support from religious moderates than any other time in the past few decades. That's because evangelicals themselves are the ones who are broadening the faith agenda, insisting that there are issues they care about beyond abortion and gay marriage, connecting Gospel messages about the golden rule and the Good Samaritan to the policies they want their government to support.
For 30 years, the Republican advantage among religious voters has come from being able to successfully control the definition of “religious,” conflating it with “conservative” and encouraging the media to do the same. Measured against that yardstick, most Democrats come up short. But when the standard is more complex, when being religious also means caring about the environment and poverty and human rights and education, the plane levels. Soon enough, Republicans start to miss the mark, and Democrats get a little closer.
This is what gives Karl Rove and the other GOP headcounters heartburn. A third-party candidacy by Roy Moore would be troublesome, but conservative evangelicals are ultimately loyal to the Republican Party. And while it might irritate business supporters, the administration could probably toss moderate evangelicals a few crumbs on the environment or global poverty. But once that door is opened, it can't be shut again. Whether or not large numbers of moderates migrate to the Democratic Party, if they succeed in expanding the scope of “religious issues,” the GOP will lose its lock on faith.
And so Republicans revert to the only tactic they have left: fear. The fight down in Alabama has shown that they will do whatever they have to in order to prevent Democrats from claiming a piece of the religious mantle, even if it means taking what could be portrayed as the “anti-religion” stance themselves. On the same day that Alabama Republicans launched their filibuster of the Bible literacy bill, state GOP chairwoman Twinkle Cavanaugh published an op-ed that charged the Bible curriculum was written by “ultra-liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council for Islamic Education, and the People for the American Way.” (It was not.) Randy Brinson chuckled as he reported this to me, saying, “This is smokin' them out. Now we see what they really care about. It's not religion; they care about power.” He may have the last laugh. According to convoluted state law, Democrats can revive the Bible literacy bill after the Alabama legislature approves all of its budget bills this spring—and they have the votes to pass it.

Amy Sullivan is an editor of The Washington Monthly.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

For those of you not fasting (I saw you sneak that cookie, Brad!)

The Committee to Elect
Steve Mulroy

Invites you to a fundraiser at
Neely's Bar-B-Que at 5700 Mt. Moriah Ext.
Thursday, March 30th
5:00pm to 8:00pm
Cash bar for wine and beer

Please come and contribute
any amount you can, $100, $250, $500.
Maximum contribution $1000.

Contributions and pledges of all amounts
will be appreciated and accepted.
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Steve Mulroy
Treasurer: Desi Franklin 577-2183 Events Coordinator: Lea Ester Redmond 502-0166 Volunteer Coordinator: Lynn Strickland 491-6189

Anyone tickle your fancy yet?

So I started a rant on the media's take on our Senate race but decided it wasn't worth the bandwidth. It might have made the comments page light up, but wouldn't have changed a thing. Maybe later. It's been a long day already and it is only 2:00. Instead, I'll put a link to the MyDD straw poll and ask if anyone has any thoughts on the Presidential contenders yet.

Fasting on my birthday and during March Madness?!? I better be going to heaven. :-)

Dear Living Wage Supporter,

The Forty Hour Fast for a Living Wage will soon be upon us. If you are able to join with other living wage supporters in prayer, sacrifice, action, please sign the pledge to fast for as much as you can from 7 p.m. on March 30th to 11 a.m. on April 1st by visiting our website at:

We will open the Forty Hour Fast with an interfaith prayer vigil on Thursday, March 30th at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper). We will end the Fast with a breaking of the bread service and simple meal on Saturday, April 1st at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Longview United Methodist Church (2041 S. Lauderdale). For more information about these events, as well as other ways you can take action for a living wage during the Fast, go to:

Your prayers and action are especially needed at this point in the Living Wage Campaign, while the Council is debating which groups of workers should be covered by the living wage ordinance.

If you are a clergyperson or leader of a religious organization, please sign on to our letter to the City Council that explains why we are fasting and why our city needs a living wage ordinance:

We still need volunteers to help us carry out the Fast. Please email Rebekah Jordan at or call 332-3570 if you can help us with our March 29th phone bank to remind people of the prayer vigil and the Fast. The phone bank will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mid-South Interfaith office. We also need volunteers who can provide a pot of soup at our closing meal on April 1st. Please email or call Rebekah if you can bring soup.

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)
Make a secure online donation to the Mid-South Interfaith Network at:

Friday, March 17, 2006

To all the Hater's :-)

Memphis 94- ORU 78 Nuff said.

See you there!

Democracy for America Training Academy

Organized by Democracy for Memphis
March 25-26, 2006
8:30-5:30 PM
Southwest Community College, Macon Campus

We talk about having the power—now it’s time to direct it toward making a difference. And the DFA Training Academy is coming to Memphis, Tennessee on March 25th-26th, 2006 to help you do just that.

Grassroots leaders are working to bring you a weekend full of campaign training, simulation, and serious fun. Local and national experts on campaign management, field organizing, communications, and grassroots advocacy, and organization building will be on hand to instruct and work with you one-on one to develop the skills needed to take our country back.

This is no social get together; the training is an intensive two-day series of sessions and workshops geared toward your particular political landscape. We develop the program so you can go out and actually use the skills you learn as soon as you get home. We follow up with you to make sure you have the support you need in your communities.


$60 for general attendees (prepaid online)
$70 pay at door
$25 for students
$25 for attendees on a low income (upon approval)

*Mid-South Democrats in Action is encouraging as many of our members to participate as possible. Because of the cost involved, MSDIA is offering 3 scholarships to any of our members who would like to attend. E-mail Judy Palmer,, if you are interested in an MSDIA scholarship. Apply early. Scholarships will be awarded on a first come basis.

If you're unable to attend but would like to contribute to the DFA Training Academy Scholarship fund, donations are welcome.

For more information on the Training Academy or to register on line, go to

Update on Door to Door with Steve Mulroy

NOTE: Slight change of plans for Saturday March 18th Neighborhood Door to Door with Steve. The start time has been changed to 11:30 am to allow more time for you to finish your Saturday morning chores. Consequently the visit to the Sidney Chism parking lot rally has been canceled.

REMEMBER: The meetup will be at 755A South Graham Street near the U of M campus.

TAKE ACTION: Go to the campaign website and register your preference for Volunteer activities.

Please direct your questions and comments to: Lynn Strickland – or call – 491-6189.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

It's so great to have strong, decisive leaders who aren't afraid to use force when necessary

Let's Pound the Pavement

Want to help Joe Young in his race for County Clerk? Of course you do. Email him at and join the fun. The countdown to the election has begun, and it's time for big mouths like me to and you to get off our bums and go to work. :-)

Want a Democratic County Commission?

Steve Mulroy
Candidate County Commission District 5
Please visit Steve’s Website
Steve Mulroy is going door to door Saturday and would like some enthusiastic company. If you have map reading skills that will be a plus, but not a requirement. We will meet at 755A Grahams Street – Campaign HQ near the U of M Campus at 10:30 am. The plan is to work the selected neighborhoods for about 2 hours, take a break to check out the Sidney Chism parking lot rally in Whitehaven and continue for a while into the afternoon.
Join Steve for a fun day in the sun participating in grass roots politics at its best. Sign on for the morning, afternoon or both sessions. Love to have you!
Please respond by reply back to me, Lynn Strickland -, or reach Steve directly at ALSO if you have not visited the website at and filled out the Volunteer Registration page, please do so at your very earliest convenience.
Lynn Strickland

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And now for the most coveted award in Shelby County Democratic Politics:

The Endorsement of the West Tennessee Liberal... (Drum roll ensues)

So I've been planning on doing this for over week and never got to it. Cracker just scooped me, so I decided to get off my lazy bum before peskyfly or polardonkey do as well. More might get added to this list later, but I am only going to talk about people who I care enough about to give money to AND work for in the weeks leading up to the May primary.

County Commission District 5: Steve Mulroy. Huge shocker here. Check out my links. Steve has been a leader in the successful fight to get a paper audit trail for Shelby County. He has fought for many grassroots issues . The most recent of which was covered by the Flyer Check out his webpage and a short list of his many supporters here: Now there is a shocker, Democrats from all wings of the party uniting behind one candidate. The reason is that this is THE race in May. There are 6 Democratic seats on the Commission no matter what. There are 6 Republican seats no matter what. Then there is this seat. The Republican incumbent is not running for reelection, and the district is trending Democratic. Kerry got in excess of 60% here. This is our seat to lose. It's possible to lose though. How? We can run the same perennial candidate who lost this race before, who has baggage to spare, and whose major issue is always selling Shelby Farms to developers. Imagine a County Commission that didn't kowtow to developers at every opportunity. Now imagine a County Commission that gave A.C. Wharton a majority with the likes of Deidre Malone, Reginald Fentress, and Steve Mulroy. Now there is a group of elected officials that would make one proud to be a Democrat.

County Commission District 2, Position 2: Reginald Fentress
Let's look at his campaign issues for a moment: Educational funding, workforce development, crime prevention, neighborhood revitalization, tax reform, PILOT reform, and the living wage. Add to that, a Democrat who already has a resolution in hand to oppose the Patriot Act. Reginald is an activist who has been involved with numerous groups, including Democracy For Memphis. He is also a lifelong educator. Any man who can dedicate a career to educating 3rd graders should have no problem whatsoever keeping other local politicians in line.

County Clerk: Joe Young
The downballot seats such as this are where we tend to get our Democratic butts handed to us. People don't vote for them as often, and activists are often not as fired up to help on these campaigns. We have a lot of great candidates for these races (Such as Joe Young, Kevin Gallagher, etc.) but at the moment I am limiting endorsements to races I am investing myself in. Joe is a great guy. He is serious, dedicated, and responsible. He would have made a great chair had he won that race, and he will make a great clerk when he wins that race. He has my full support.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Mayor's fashion statement.

That's Kemp Conrad, former Republican chair locally, and our current
illustrious mayor sporting an authentic and attractive "Frist is My Leader" sticker at the conference this weekend. Well, now he has my complete confidence. (Teach me to post in a hurry. This pic came from a Jackson Baker article on the Memphis Flyer website Also there is another article saying Herenton went out of his way to make sure the press noticed the sticker and remembered all the Republicans that he had endorsed before, including Shrub. Just when I think I can't love this man any more...)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bumped! Be There!!!

I didn't know Charles Grace half as well as I wish I did. He was a great guy and a great Democrat. Donations taken up at the event will go to his favorite charity in his name (I believe it was MidSouth Peace and Justice.) So you get to honor a great guy's memory, tick off some Republicans, and let off some steam with some fellow Progressives. What can beat that? Well, beer I guess. But that might be there too. I'm not sure. :-)

This week as many of you may know is the Southern Republican LeadershipConference, from Thursday, March 9th until Sunday 12th. Karl Rove, LamarAlexander, Bill Frist and many other Republican Presidential wannabes willbe here in MEMPHIS, and that will not do.This Friday, March 10th @ 3:30pm Democracy For Memphis is hosting aprogressive counter event at the Bon Ton cafe at 150 Monroe ave. Here wewill not only discuss and celebrateprogressive values, but will honor the memory of DFM member Charles Gracewho passed away last winter. Charles Grace was a man of warmth, compassionand humor. He saw people for who they were, and tried to accept them. Hewas steadfast in his passion and desire to bring about positive change forthis party and this community, and his humility and kindness will begreatly missed. It is in his spirit that we would like to extend to alllocal progressives this invitation to a brief rally which can serve as apotential rally point for protests planned by local grassroot clubs andgroups.We are very fortunate to have a great line up of speakers led by our EventHost County Commissioner Deidre Malone, who will also speak on the themeof Race Relations and party unity.Other speakers include...Democratic Candidates for County Commission Reginald Fentress, who willspeak in favor of the Living Wage, and Steve Mulroy, who will speak onEthics and Election reform.Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Matt Kuhn will also attend andinform the attendees about the SCDP'S "Covenant with the County". A partyplatform for Shelby County.Other speakers will be announced soon.It is my deepest desire to see many local progressives join us as we tellthe Republicans that Memphis is NOT buying what they are selling.Donations will be accepted to offset costs of host this event, ALL PROFITSWILL BE DONATED TO THE MIDSOUTH INTERFAITH NETWORK'S LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGNIN THE NAME OF CHARLES GRACE.So start making your signs and let's get ready.DEMAND CHANGEBrad WatkinsOrganizerEVENT- CHARLES GRACE DAYTIME- 3:30-5:30pmDATE- March, 10thLOCATION-The BON TON CAFE, 150 Monroe ave. "One block west of Redbirdstadium"

DNC Press Conference in Memphis

Okay so it's kind of late word, but the DNC is going to be having a press conference about the Repulican Southern Leadership Conference (or whatever it is being called). The event will be at 11 am Friday in front of BB King's on Beale. State Party Chair Bob Tuke will be there as well as some local pols. If you can make it there let's make sure they have a bit of a crowd.

Thoughts on the recall... (Sorry Brad)

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Mayor Herenton. I don’t think the city has been managed in the best way, to say the least, I can’t stand the way he damages the perception of this city with his “I was chosen by God”-type remarks, and I am mad as heck about his campaigning last time talking about our wonderful budget surpluses during the campaign. As soon as the campaign was over it changed to “Holy Crap! We have huge deficits. We have to cut everything, lay people off, stop funding the city schools from the city budget, etc.” There are multiple political leaders who I would prefer to sit in that office. And despite what many people say, Herenton is not a Democrat. I don’t think he even really sees himself as one. He is elected to a nonpartisan office, gets most of his money from Republicans, most of his votes from Democrats, and has supported politicians from both parties. Seems like I would be a perfect candidate to sign the recall petition, right? Wrong. The Davis recall in California was wrong. Davis had done nothing illegal and was merely in a bad political position in the middle of his term that any governor would have been in in the same circumstances. It would be hypocritical for me to oppose that recall but support this one. Recalls should only be used in the event of some gross malfeasance. For any other purposes the effects of recalls are too damaging to be worth getting rid of any individual elected official. Herenton won his election fairly (no matter what I thought about it) and handily. If we recalled him it would either go against the will of a democratic election or it would only be overturned quickly with his reelection making him even stronger. My problem is that if we recall elected officials any time they tick us off we turn elected officials into even more spineless wimps than they often tend to be. As it is, they are so concerned with reelection that they are afraid to take strong stances in the event that they may offend some voters and drop in polls. Now put the threat of a recall hanging over their head every single day instead of every few years and show me a politician who is going to take a political stand for what is right.
Ignoring that. Who will replace Herenton in the off chance that the recall passes? I said that I could think of several elected officials that I would like better as mayor, but I can think of even more that would be just as bad if not worse. My students are almost finished with their test, so I guess I should actually go back to earning my paycheck.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Would You Rather Be at Work?

This week as many of you may know is the Southern Republican LeadershipConference, from Thursday, March 9th until Sunday 12th. Karl Rove, LamarAlexander, Bill Frist and many other Republican Presidential wannabes willbe here in MEMPHIS, and that will not do.This Friday, March 10th @ 3:30pm Democracy For Memphis is hosting aprogressive counter event at the Bon Ton cafe at 150 Monroe ave. Here wewill not only discuss and celebrateprogressive values, but will honor the memory of DFM member Charles Gracewho passed away last winter. Charles Grace was a man of warmth, compassionand humor. He saw people for who they were, and tried to accept them. Hewas steadfast in his passion and desire to bring about positive change forthis party and this community, and his humility and kindness will begreatly missed. It is in his spirit that we would like to extend to alllocal progressives this invitation to a brief rally which can serve as apotential rally point for protests planned by local grassroot clubs andgroups.We are very fortunate to have a great line up of speakers led by our EventHost County Commissioner Deidre Malone, who will also speak on the themeof Race Relations and party unity.Other speakers include...Democratic Candidates for County Commission Reginald Fentress, who willspeak in favor of the Living Wage, and Steve Mulroy, who will speak onEthics and Election reform.Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Matt Kuhn will also attend andinform the attendees about the SCDP'S "Covenant with the County". A partyplatform for Shelby County.Other speakers will be announced soon.It is my deepest desire to see many local progressives join us as we tellthe Republicans that Memphis is NOT buying what they are selling.Donations will be accepted to offset costs of host this event, ALL PROFITSWILL BE DONATED TO THE MIDSOUTH INTERFAITH NETWORK'S LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGNIN THE NAME OF CHARLES GRACE.So start making your signs and let's get ready.DEMAND CHANGEBrad WatkinsOrganizerEVENT- CHARLES GRACE DAYTIME- 3:30-5:30pmDATE- March, 10thLOCATION-The BON TON CAFE, 150 Monroe ave. "One block west of Redbirdstadium"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stolen From Polardonkey

Democracy for Memphis is hosting a rally at the Bon-Ton on Madison Ave (Directly up the alley from the Peabody) in opposition to the republicans coming to our town. The event will be from 3:30 to 5:30 on Friday March 10th with appetizers. Various elected officials, candidates, and community group leaders will be there and speaking. Tell everyone you know. We want to show America how much we dislike the republicans' agenda. Hardball will be doing a live satellite feed and CSPAN will be there as well. This our chance to make some noise and actually take the fight to the republicans.