Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Like My Jews Funky...

I was sitting in property this morning when a neighbor passed me this nugget from GQ's "Zagatt Guide to the New Congress" on Steve Cohen:

Tennessee must have been smoking something when they elected this funky Jew (like Jackie Mason, but funny) who supports medical marijuana (oy!) and showcases a statue of Spiro Agnew (huh?) in his tchotchke-laden home... Start tivoing his appearances on ScarboroughCountry...

There was more but I have more productive things to do then retype the blurb. Interestingly, Cohen received the highest score of all the newbies for magnetism and competence. (I'll avoid the mention of his lowest of the whole list score for Presidential material and fairly high score for scandal potential (a little sex and pot never hurt a Congressman, in my mind.))

Who Wants to Be a Candidate?

Cohen-Conyers Forum

Event Info
Town Hall Forum
Congressman Steve Cohen and Congressman John Conyers Jr. from Michigan's 14th District will be in at
College Democrats
Causes - Rally
Time and Place
Thursday, February 22, 2007
6:30pm - 7:30pm
National Civil Rights Museum
Memphis, TN
Contact Info
Congressman Cohen is having a Town Hall Forum at the National Civil Rights Museum on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.. Congressman John Conyers Jr. from Michigan's 14th District will also be there. He is a second most senior member of the House and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Now I Ain't a Hillary Fan

And I won’t be voting for her in the primary. I don’t like her constant enabling of the war. I don’t like her persistent waffling to look more moderate. I don’t like political dynasties. I rarely root for the candidate with more money than God. I’m going to work for and give money to candidates running against her. However, if she wins the nomination she will get my money, time, and vote. I’ve heard a couple liberal friends pledge that they will NEVER vote for her. She ain’t perfect, but she ain’t Lieberman, and she ain’t Ford. She’d be much better then any of the Republican nominees. Compare what the Supreme Court, among other things, would look like with her versus with another Republican as President.

So, let's work in the primary to get the most progressive government possible in every branch.


Let's do the same in the general.

DUI Charges Dropped for Bowers

Anyone who reads this blog, and anyone who talks politics with me knows that I have no tolerance for lawbreaking politicians. I've gleefully cast stones at Bowers and the other Tennessee Waltz defendants. However, I should point out that Bowers' DUI charges have been dropped today, and her toxicology report showed no alcohol. Duly noted.

Now that my polite duty is done, stay tuned for more much-deserved mockings as our beloved corrupt politicians continue to move to new addresses in the future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

If the big Truth fish eats the small Darwin fish ...

First Texas gets all progressive by giving girls the HPV vaccination and now Kansas has decided that science class can teach actual science.

According to the article, the school board has voted to "remove language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts — such as a common origin for all life on Earth and change in species creating new ones — were controversial and being challenged by new research."

I went to a private high school here in Memphis, and although it is not a religious school it does have some religious influence. We had chapel once a week. Religion is a required class for seniors. Heck, I was even chapel committee co-chair my senior year, which means I was in charge of planning chapel. I also went to an Episcopal grade school and Jr. High. We had religion classes and chapel there, too. When my religion teachers taught me about the beginning of the world and used the Bible as a text book, I was able to keep that separate from the information I was learning in science class from my science teacher using my science textbook. If my science teacher had ever suggested that evolution was still under review, and that it may be overturned based on what I was learning in Bible class, I think my head would have exploded. I mean how does that even come up in a science class? I am assuming that science teachers have to have some scientific training themselves. If a science teacher is taught evolution as fact, and then that same teacher has to turn around and say well, it may not be an actual fact, but a suggested guideline that could be overturned any day now - isn't that insane?

So, way to go Kansas! Next thing you know, Mississippi will be voting to increase access to abortions.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Can We All Quit Worrying Now About Whether I'm a Democrat?

I guess everyone has their limit, and I've reached mine...on the subject of whether I'm a closet Republican, or a real honest to goodness Republican, or a Republicrat, or my personal favorite, a Democrat in Republican clothing (oh, Grandma, what Republican clothes you wear), or whatever other iteration of this crap anyone can conjure up.

I've never cared too much about all the blather about my recent conversion to the Democratic party, having known myself pretty well all these years. But after reading all the thinly veiled and not so thinly veiled references to me and my alleged Republican history and co-conspiring over on Thaddeus Matthews blog from Jay Bailey and Mr. Nice Guy himself, I finally decided to get a copy of my voting history from the Shelby County Election Commission.

It's time to put this non-issue to rest.

Drumroll, please....

Since 1982 (I started voting in 1974, way before Mr. David Holt, future esquire, was born), which is as far back as the available records go, I guess...

I have voted in 11 Democratic primaries - 8 of those prior to my alleged 2005 conversion to the Democratic Party - and 2 Republican primaries, in 1996 and 2002.

Hell if I know why I voted Republican in 1996. In fact, I wonder if that is an error as it was in the presidential primary and, much as I have a lot of sympathy for Bob Dole's erectile problems, I was always a huge Bill Clinton fan and would never have voted for his opponent, even to cheer him up. But I can barely remember what I had for dinner yesterday, so I sure can't remember who else might have been on the ballot that I cared that much about 11 years ago.

As for 2002, I seem to remember an ex-husband of mine giving me the great idea to vote for George Flinn's opponent in the primary in hopes that he wouldn't win the Republican nomination and go on to oppose AC Wharton, which is what I did. As it turns out, AC didn't need my help to beat George Flinn, and I've heard nothing but a lot of hot air since 2005 over that brilliant move.

Now that we can all sleep better knowing I really am a Democrat, I think I'll go sleep well myself. If anyone wants a copy of my voting record, just email me or comment here and I'll be happy to get you a copy, free of charge.

Clerks and Trustees and Appraisers, Oh My...

Dabney and Pesky have both tried to start a conversation about whether the elected county-wide administrative positions should be appointed or not. I just thought I’d weigh in. These are positions that should be appointed. The skill set it takes to be elected clerk and the skill set that is necessary to be a good clerk have little in common. These positions are also non-ideological. There isn’t a Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative way to renew my car tags. One could argue that ideology can play into the sheriff’s or district attorney’s job. However, these are positions that are easy to abuse for political purposes, (ever notice how many cities have an upswing in meth lab and strip club busts at election time?) and therefore there is much benefit to distancing them somewhat from politics. Cronyism is a real risk with the appointments, but not more so than the current system where most of us just pick the party name (or the name of someone who employs a friend or relative.) Besides, it is in the best interest of the Routs and Whartons of our county to pick officers who will perform the job well. The ballot is overly long as is, and, aside from political dorks, no one informs themselves on the down-ballot races. Making these positions appointed can increase turnout, decrease election wait-times, and allow voters to spend more time studying the candidates who they do vote for. What do ya’ll think?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Donkey is on Fire...

Polardonkey may not post often, but when he does he knocks you on your ass. His latest is a must read.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Willie and Monty

Willie Nelson and Monty Python in the same week. Life is good. Who needs politics?

Freaking Karl Rove...

Last night, we bid a fond farewell to the lovely and talented Liz Rincon. Liz was campaign manager for Steve Mulroy and field director for Steve Cohen. She's off to bigger and better things in the wastelands of D.C. So, hats off to Liz today. If she kicks half as much ass in Washington as she did locally, then this country is in for a treat. We love ya Liz.

On another note, many of my readers made New Years resolutions to lose weight. Don't do it. I've lost 30 pounds since the election and got out of the all-important drinking habit. As such, I got totally trashed on an amount of alcohol that I hardly would have noticed three months ago. The moral of the story is stay fat so you can prevent hangovers. This message is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood blogger with a horrid headache in contracts. Now I am going to CiCi's Pizza so I won't have this problem again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Local Party Convention

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Party Convention

What is the caucus?

The caucus is a process in which Democrats get together and vote for delegates from each precinct to go to the convention.

What is the convention?

The convention has four main purposes:
1. Get local Democrats involved in the party.
2. Elect the party executive committee and party chair (the people who run our local party)
3. Offer a chance to hear from party leaders and activists.
4. Elect precinct chairs. (The people who organize their precincts for elections and choose executive committee members from their district if one resigns, etc.)

Where and when are these meetings?

The caucus will be on March 3 and the convention on March 31. Both events will be at Airways Middle School at 2601 Ketchum. Registration for the caucus runs from 9:00-10:45. Registration for the convention runs from 12:00-1:00.

Why do we care, and what can we do?
Because we all want a strong, effective party that can work to elect good Democrats on a local, statewide, and national basis.
We can do four things at the convention:
1. Elect delegates from each precinct.
2. Elect precinct chairs.
3. Elect executive committee members.
4. Choose a chair who will uphold the highest ethical standards, work to unite the party, reach out to grow the party, and manage our resources responsibly.

Files containing important information regarding the convention can found on https://umdrive.memphis.edu/dkholt/public/ and http://westtennessee.blogspot.com.

What does a delegate do?

1-6 delegates are selected from each precinct at the caucus on March 3. The delegates will return on March 31 to elect 3-5 executive committee members from their house districts.
What is the difference between a precinct and a district?
A district is the area that a Tennessee House of Representatives member represents. A precinct is a smaller part of a district where people who live near one another all go to the same location to vote.

How do I become a delegate?

1. Find out what your state house district and precinct are. They should be on your voter registration card. You can also use the precinct locator on http://www.shelbyvote.com.
2. Talk to friends and neighbors about the local party and why we need to work to make the party stronger.
3. Contact past attendees or local Democratic supporters. Invite them to the convention and ask for their support. Find friends and neighbors and bring them into the process.
4. Some precincts have as few as 0 people attend. Others have significantly more. Try and ensure that you can bring at LEAST three people, depending on how many delegates your precinct can elect.
5. Arrive early. The earlier you arrive the more you can talk with other members of your precinct and try and gain their support.
6. Everyone will meet in an area with other members of their house district. Groups will then break into precincts. The state house district chair will request one person to be the convener for each individual precinct. The convener will receive a packet containing instructions and a form to record the officers elected. That person will conduct an election for precinct chair.
7. After the precinct chair is elected, he or she will conduct the election for delegates. Nominations will be taken. Have a supporter or yourself nominate you. Speak about your qualifications. Why are you a Democrat? What have you done for the party? Why do you want to be a delegate?
8. The number of male and female delegates must be as nearly equal as possible. For example, if a precinct has four delegates two must be male and two female. Districts with an odd number of delegates cannot be farther off than one.
9. The first race for delegate can involve males or females. The next race should involve the opposite gender as won the first race. The final race can be of either gender if the district has an odd number of delegates.
10. Use strategy for these races. For example, if your precinct has five delegates and you have three people who wish to run, don’t all run at once. Doing so merely dilutes your voting power. Instead, create a batting order of electing Deborah first, then Bob, then Sally.
11. In the event of a tie, the two candidates with the highest vote total are voted on again. If a tie remains, a coin toss is done.
12. If another group has come and is fighting for the seats, and you can’t win outright, negotiate. “If we vote for your person for precinct chair and the first delegate, then will you support our second delegate?” This is politics, so cut a deal.
13. When you come back as a delegate, you will again break into house districts to elect executive committee candidates.

What does a precinct chair do?

The chair conducts elections for delegates and fills out a report of who was elected and who was in attendance. This report is to be given to the party chair or the credentials committee chair immediately following the meeting. The chair is also responsible for “organizing the precinct” for election. This is rarely done, but something that we should make an effort to be as active in as possible. All politics is local and you can’t get any more local than your neighborhood.

How do I become a precinct chair?

Follow the exact same directions as if you wished to be a delegate. Better yet, run for both.

What does an executive committee member do?

The executive committee meets the first Thursday of every month and on additional dates as needed. This is the committee that runs the local party. They deal with fundraising, candidate recruitment, public relations, outreach, etc. If you want to be part of reforming our party in any manner, this would be the place to go.

How do I become an executive committee member?

1. Follow the directions for running for delegate. The same gender rules apply as well.
2. Find out how many people attended from your district at the last caucus.
3. Aim to bring more than half that number of supporters from that district to run for delegate at the caucus.
4. For example, district 89 had 35 people attend the caucus in 2002. If you were running for that seat you should attempt to find at LEAST 18 people to run for delegate in the district who support you. Each delegate should have at least 2-3 people come to their precinct caucus to support them for delegate.
5. All of the delegates who were elected return to their house district meeting on March 31. Arrive early and start politicking.
6. The procedure is the same as electing a delegate except the meeting is of the entire house district. Again, use strategy; cut deals, if need be.
7. After the meeting the new executive committee will meet to elect a new party chair.

Important things to keep in mind:

1. Arrive early…Arrive early…Arrive early…
2. Bring more people than you expect it to take to win.
3. Be aware of your proper house district and precinct number. If you think that you have been sent to the wrong place, question.
4. If you believe something has been mishandled or someone is not actually eligible for an office, then ask for a “challenge form” from your house district chair or a member of the credentials committee immediately following the meeting. Challenges will be ruled on by the credentials committee later in the week.
5. If you have questions, ask a member of the credentials committee (David Holt will be credentials committee chair.)
6. Don’t leave the room after the meeting has started unless all of your people have been voted on.
7. If you are the precinct chair, deliver the minutes report to the credential committee chair or party chair immediately following the meeting. Do NOT remove the sheet from the site.
8. If someone is trying to talk endlessly and prevent a vote, say “I call for the question” when you gain the floor. Have this seconded. This is meant to end debate and force a vote. Avoid using this, unless there is an extreme circumstance.
9. Technically, meetings follow Robert’s Rules of Order except on matters that are specifically addressed in the bylaws or convention rules. If you are elected to the executive committee, it would be an excellent idea to familiarize yourself with this book.
10. Remember: This is about doing what is best for the party, not for any one group or faction. Winning is all well and good, but don't burn bridges that keep us from working together for the important issues.
11. Good luck. Any further questions contact, David Holt at (901) 452-3167 or davidkentholt@yahoo.com

Friday, February 02, 2007

Texas gets this one right

Texas Gov. Rick Perry - a Republican - is requiring that all girls entering the sixth grade be given a vaccine against HPV in an effort to help stop the disease that leads to cervical cancer. He even made it an executive order, so that he doesn't have to worry about any legislative interference.

Bravo, Gov. Perry!

According to this MSNBC article, he may have some ties to Merck, the pharmaceutical company responsible for the vaccine, and, therefore, may not be doing this for the 100% right reason, but I don't care. We are talking about a vaccine that accomplishes two things - it prevents a fairly common STD and helps keep the virus from causing cancer later in life. Those are the most important issues here.

Critics will say that giving this vaccine to young girls encourages them to have sex because they will feel like they are protected against all STDs. That is the same argument they use against easy access to protection and comprehensive sex ed (as opposed to abstinence only education). Maybe there are some girls who will try sex that wouldn't have because of one of those things, but if one life is saved, I think it is worth it.

I am sure some religious organizations will be all over the media, and maybe even the courts, trying to stop this, "for the good of the children," but in the long run those girls will be much better of once they get those vaccines.

I hope someone in Tennessee has the courage to follow in these Texan footsteps.

Hey! I owned slaves too! Vote for me Crackers!

Everyone's talking about Biden's unique ability to announce and end his candidacy on the same day. I haven't listened to the comments, so I won't comment on them. What I am curious about is why noone ever got upset about this gem from a recent speech he gave in South Carolina.

Biden asked, “Where else could I go to a Rotary Club where (for a)
Christmas party the highlight is looking at the Articles (of
Biden was on a
Delaware, he noted, was a “slave
state that fought beside the North.
That’s only because we couldn’t figure
out how to get to the South. There were a
couple of states in the way.”

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Convention Details

Ok, so after another typically long, frustrating meeting of the Executive Committee of the Shelby County Democratic Party, here are the details that were approved about the upcoming convention:

  • The ward/precinct caucuses will be held on March 3. Registration will be from 9-10:45 a.m. and the caucuses will begin at approximately 11 a.m.

  • The convention will be held on March 31. Registration for delegates elected at the caucuses will be from noon until 1 p.m. and the convention will begin at 1:15.

  • Both events will take place at Airways Middle School, located at 2601 Ketchum.

  • The current committee is comprised of 67 members (although there are 5 vacancies). The next executive committee will have 66 members which, pursuant to the bylaws of the local party, is based on the number of votes by Tennessee House District for the Democratic candidate in the 2006 gubernatorial election (i.e., Phil Bredesen).

  • Here is a comparison of the number of members of the Executive Committee elected in 2005 and to be elected in 2007 from the 16 Tennessee House Districts:

House District



















































  • Also approved tonight was the allocation formula for the number of delegates for each precinct. I will leave to David Holt, who is younger and therefore more technosavvy than me, and who will also be updating his handy "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Convention", to figure out how to share the document that spells out the allocation of delegates by precinct. Ditto a copy of the rules of the convention and the bylaws of the party, all of which are useful tools if you are plotting revolution, or just trying to figure out how all this democracy in action works.
Having been challenged to share all of this information by some of those rare - but welcome - commenters to my posts who like to pretend that they are Wall Street Journal op-ed page readers and that I am their own personal Hillary, here's everything I can think of at the moment. Aside from all of those informational pieces that David will have to link to for you, that's it for now.

Let's roll.

Don't Mourn... Organize...

She said it. Let's do it.

I have a special place in my heart for Texas populists and bleeding hearts with a drawl. Molly Ivins, you will be missed. The WTL flags are at half-staff for you today.