Monday, November 15, 2010

NY Times: Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget!

I am posting this because I think it is interesting, provides a good perspective on where our debt is coming from, and I think it would be a helpful tool for informing voters on exactly what tough choices we and our government will have to make in order to bring the deficit down.

Notice that eliminating earmarks hardly does anything to the deficit, and pay close attention to the tax options!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Dear Memphis Organizer,

We know how you have mobilized your community, embarked on new ways to unite people, and brought awareness to issues when no one was paying attention. How are you going to share all the great lessons you learned and the mistakes you won't repeat? Come to Tennessee RootsCamp!

RootsCamp is the best opportunity to reflect on what you've done, and share with other organizers how to do it better. During this open format conference on November 20, 2010, in Memphis you'll make organizing connections, find new means of organizing, and have the opportunity to reassess your work.

Tennessee RootsCamp will be held at the Cooper Young Conference Center on Nov. 20! It is FREE, but you must register. Sponsor opportunities are also available.

TN RootsCamp is an "unconference", rather than the typical boring panelists and so called experts, RootsCamp turns the tables. Instead, the attendees all become the presenters! TN State RootsCamp promises to be the most dynamic way for campaigners, issue organizers, volunteers, and community leaders to discuss their organizing in a meaningful way.

At the end of the weekend, organizers walk away with new lessons to better their organizing, make new friends, and recharge for the movement ahead.

Register for TN RootsCamp

Here's the challenge...
The "unconference" is completely dependent on you. If you or your organizers aren't in the room, we can't talk about the organizing you've done.

Will you join us at TN RootsCamp?

Be a part of TN RootsCamp

We'd love to see you there!

Thank you,
Allison, Brad, Gio, Jacob, & Josephine
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

PS- Do you know more great organizers? Please invite the best organizers in Tennessee to RootsCamp via Facebook. link

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Rep. Ulysses Jones Jr.

No snark on the blog today. Just thoughts and prayers for the family of State Rep. Ulysses Jones Jr. who just passed away.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Justin Ford is awesome... Just ask him.

The Commercial Appeal ran a puff piece on the newest Ford to ride his name to prominence. He manages to talk about himself in the third person and to announce his intention to get elected to Congress, the mayorship, and King of the World (I'm sure the last one got lost in editing.) It's annoying enough that we have an incompetent and corrupt inherited monarchy in Memphis, but is it too much to ask that they at least graduate from college before they rule over us?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

City Council Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The Tennessee Equality Project is asking people come to Tuesday's city Council meeting. The Council will be voting on the first reading of the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance, as well as a study on employeement discrimination. They're asking people to be there at 3:30 in the City Council Chamber at 125 North Main Street. For more information, see their Facebook page. See you there!

Friday, November 05, 2010

State Party Chair

Sean Braisted has an interesting post and poll up about possibilities for state party chair. Check it out.

I like the thought of Andy Berke quite a bit, but we'll see how long it takes for Republicans to change the campaign finance laws before he can be a candidate.

I don't have any real preference otherwise, though it's obvious that enough people want Chip Forrester's head that he's not a great choice.

Okay... Maybe finger-pointing ain't all bad...

I typically whine about the pointless backstabbing and finger-pointing that occurs after every bad election. However, I have to admit that I'm loving the heat Rahm is getting this time.

Chicago mayoral hopeful Carol Moseley Braun went on the attack Thursday, slamming rival Rahm Emanuel for "abandoning" President Obama after "pushing policies that [led] to the biggest Democratic Party political loss in 27 years."

"He left the president holding the bag," Braun asserted in a statement that also claimed Emanuel "cut and ran" on Obama when he left his chief of staff job to return to Chicago for a mayoral run.

"If Rahm abandoned the president of the United States, what makes anybody think he'll stick by regular Chicagoans?" Braun asked.

The former U.S. senator and ambassador lobbed the broadside at Emanuel on the day he flew to Los Angeles for a major fund-raiser hosted by his brother Ari, the Hollywood super agent, and entertainment industry moguls David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin and Haim Saban. The event was in Saban's Beverly Hills home, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Braun slammed Emanuel's fund-raiser, too.

"On this day when President Obama and Illinois Democrats are still recovering from the painful political debacle that he was the architect of, Rahm Emanuel is off in Hollywood hanging out with bankers and billionaires. But maybe Hollywood is where he belongs because the story of how he 'helped' the Obama administration when he was chief of staff is indeed fiction."

Whining is more fun...

But sometimes you just have to mention the awesome things Memphis has going for it. Have you checked out the new Greenline? It's pretty dang awesome!!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Where's Howard?

Remember that stupid 50 state strategy of organizing and running in every district? Man did that blow. It's not like we won in a landslide twice in a row or anything. Luckily, we fired the idiot who thought of that. Thanks to Obama's brilliant tactician Rahm Emmanuel, the loser wasn't even invited to his own going away party. That'll teach him. Even better, those dumb GOP guys ran and organized everywhere. Boy was that a waste...

*Crickets Chirpping*

Brad does a great job combating blight, so I thought I’d do my part by mowing the yard in this blog and taking the boards off the window. A month spent in Le Bonheur and over a year spent with a baby who found sleeping optional has kept me out of blogging and local politics. I’ve still been busy though, making hundred of calls for Sestak, Feingold, and Bennett. One out of three is a decent batting average, right?

This election sucked. After the shock wears off is when the traditional period of finger-pointing begins. I’m sure they’ll be plenty of that, but I’m not so interested in it. Locally and nationally the Far Right is about to start passing legislation that’s slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. It’s time to show them that Democrats can fight. It’s going to be trench warfare for the next two years, pass the mustard gas.

On the bright side, the state legislature can’t redistrict us out of any more congressional seats. 2 is as low as it gets. Anything they did to weaken Cohen in 9 would make 7 or 8 competitive. To a lesser extent, that’s true in the state legislature. We’re down almost 2-1 in the Senate and House. That’s well neigh as low as it can go. Locally, Mike Kernell and Jim Kyle are the only legislators they could harm with redistricting. That’s the big fight we have next time. Anything they do to weaken them is going to make the adjacent Republican district more competitive. We have to recruit strong candidates to give the Republicans a race, and work our butts off to defend Mike and Jim. It’s going to be a Presidential year. The turnout gives us a great shot at gaining back some of the ground we lost.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

John Marek's Post-2010 Election Cycle Thoughts

First off, I want to take a second to brag about my Senate predictions. On the Senate races, I beat the experts I rely on for my numbers, and if Murray wins in WA (as I expect) and Murkowski wins in AK (which is possible if a bunch of Miller's voters didn't write him in as asked to do by his campaign) then I called every U.S. Senate race correctly (if you forgive me for hedging my bets on either IL or CO giving the Dems number 53...and I admit I leaned more towards it coming from IL than CO).

I also correctly called the local races, but that's nothing to brag about (the results were very obvious in every race). State Reps Kernell and Richardson kept their seats, Charlotte Bergmann can't win, and Congressman Cohen pulled off a resounding 74% victory.

On the bad side of the local elections the TN House is 64 R to 34 D (w/ 1 Independent) and the TN Senate is 21 R to 12 D in districts DRAWN BY DEMOCRATS. Once redistricting has been completed next year, we'll be lucky to have any Democrats outside of Davidson and Shelby County in the state legislature. TN is the new UTAH so marry several of your cousins and get ready to bring in the new year.

Before going into the Federal House races, I should admit that I have yet to see the overall state legislature election results, but I'm guessing they weren't too pretty either (probably somewhere between the Senate and House results).

On the Federal House races, I should've stuck to the experts.'s Nate Silver was EXTREMELY accurate in calling them. I believe he was predicting a 56 seat pickup (Kos was calling it at 49 though he's not a pollster), and it seems to be as though the Republicans will pick up around 64 seats in the House. In Nate Silver's defense, the Republicans won the popular vote in the House races by around 6.7% (which should have equaled a little less than a 56 or so seat gain...Fivethirty-eight had predicted that they'd win the popular vote by 6.9%). To make it a little more clear I'll quote Nate Silver addressing the formulas used to translate a generic ballot (popular vote) into House seat gains:

"Those formulas would generally translate a 6-7 point popular vote win into something like a 50 or 55 seat gain for Republicans. Instead, it looks like Republicans will net something on the order of 65 seats. The Republican vote was evidently concentrated in a way that was quite efficient."

Also, it should be noted (though not in enough detail here) that I was correct in predicting the obvious trend: Dems lost more seats in the South, Midwest, and other rural areas more than anywhere else (by far), which helps explain why more than a third of the Democratic losses were "Blue Dog" (Conservative) Democrats (only 46% of them are returning as opposed to 95% of the progressive caucus Dems...59% of the new Dems who didn't belong to either group are returning). Tea Party candidates helped Republicans in the regions (and rural areas) listed, but actually hurt them in other House races across the country (including blowing their chances of taking the U.S. Senate). Christine O'Donnell is not a witch, but she's not a Senator either. Thanks for saving us from complete obliteration Tea Party ;).

My House predictions were based off of Nate Silver's predictions factored in w/ the false hope I had that young people, minorities, and other core Democratic groups would have a higher than expected turnout. Here are some interesting statistics from last night that should re-emphasize what I meant when I said ITS ALL ABOUT THE TURNOUT!:

'08: Minorities made up 26% of the vote.
'10: Minorities made up 22% of the vote.

'08: Youth made up 18% of the vote.
'10: Youth made up 11% of the vote.

This difference alone would've flipped several house races (and close Senate races like PA). However, we still would've taken a hit due to the economy's slow recovery (because people haven't figured out that a "fix the economy in 2 seconds" button doesn't exist). Therefore the Independents would have done some damage to the Democratic majority even if the turnout had been better:

'08: Independents voted Democratic 52% to 44%
'10: Independents voted Republican 55% to 39%

The 2010 electorate was older, whiter, and angrier. All of you people who only vote during Presidential races are to blame :P. Fortunately it won't be a midterm in 2 years.

Monday, November 01, 2010

John Marek's Nov. 2nd Federal Election Predictions:

Federal Predictions: 53 D to 47 R in the Senate (only 1 higher than most pollsters are predicting: 52 to 48); 213 D to 222 R in the House.

Breakdown of the Senate battleground states:

CA: CA should have never been considered a Battleground state in the first place. Boxer will win by close to 10 points in my opinion.

WA: Murray will hold onto her seat narrowly (but still slightly better than the 2 point advantage she has on fivethirtyeight).

WV: Manchin's going to take it though it'll be close (not even going to try to call a spread here because of the complexity of the race...popular Democratic governor running for Senate in a state that votes Republican federally).

Now the hard part:

NV: I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a Harry Reid victory although the polls say otherwise. The NRA has always been very friendly w/ him, and the early voting numbers looked great for Dems in NV.

I'm predicting that number 53 will come from one of these two states (most likely the first)

IL: Hard to imagine having to fight for the Senate seat in IL, but Republicans were smart in this state and nominated moderate/opportunist Mark Kirk to face left wing Giannoulias (who suffered in the polls after his family's bank failed). Kirk shot himself in the foot by lying about his military record, but its turned out to be one of the closest Senate races in the country. If you made me pick, I would say Giannoulias will pull this one off by a hair because of the Chicago Democratic turnout machine. I will not be shocked if I am wrong on this one though.

CO: Buck v. Bennett. Both had brutal primaries, and CO was one of the few states where the tea party candidate polled as well as the establishment candidate against the Democratic candidates (which is why it wasn't that big of a deal when Buck won the nomination). Polls are going both ways on this one...If you made me pick here, then I would probably say Buck will win; however, I think we have almost as much of a chance of winning here as IL because of the in-fighting in the GOP and because of the large progressive youth vote (which hopefully turns out) in CO.

PA: This and the next state are probably the only other states w/ even a chance of a Democratic upset. Some recent polling data has this state as a Sestak/Toomey toss-up while other polls show its still about a 5 point race in favor of Toomey. The Dems have invested a lot of time and money in PA in the past, and therefore their organizational structure there COULD save them...I just doubt it.

WI: God I hate to see Feingold go, but that's the likely scenario to hit tomorrow (which goes along w/ a regional prediction I'll be making for the House races further down).

KY: It was looking like we had a shot here, but the recent polling trend has been heavily in favor of Rand Paul. We still shouldn't fret about losing KY though...Republicans were forced to spend money here when they normally wouldn't have to so the tea party forced the repubs (by nominating Rand Paul) to "spread their wealth around" to a state that would've otherwise never seen a dime from the RNC.

MO, NC, NH, AK: All somewhat close, but I don't see Democratic victories in these Senate races this cycle. AK is the one that could provide a major upset if McAdams benefited enough from a Murkowski/Miller split, but don't count on it (I will go out on a limb and predict a Murkowski write-in victory will likely be Miller but you can hold me to the prediction).

The rest of the Senate races (including DE) aren't really worth commenting on since they will break in the very obvious directions each are leaning in.

House predictions: Nate Silver is predicting a 54-55 seat Republican gain and puts the numbers at 202 Dems to 233 Repubs. Unfortunately, he's probably right although he is making much more dire predictions than most experts.

I'm going to make a slightly more positive prediction than Nate based on a combination of cell phone bias in polling and based on the fact that I think the Democrats and OFA are going to come through on turning out UNLIKELY voters (which will make the likely voter models slightly inaccurate).

Therefore, my House prediction will be around a 43 seat Democratic loss. Meaning my final prediction will be around 213 Dems to 222 Repubs.

I'd like to predict a better result for Dems, but I just can't stray too far from Nate Silver's predictions considering how accurately he called the 2008 Presidential race (and Senate/Congressional races). Even he admits that trying to call the House results within 5 or even 10 seats is superstition, and that it can be anywhere from the Dems narrowly holding the House all the way up to losses in the 70s. I'm taking my chances and sticking to my prediction though.

I'm not going to try to call each individual district (I just haven't been keeping up w/ district-by-district data like I did for the Senate), but I will predict that the Democrats will out perform expectations in the West, the NE, and IL, while underperforming in the rest of the great lake states and the south.

I haven't been paying nearly enough attention to the Governor's races (which aren't federal so they really don't belong in this post), but I will agree w/ Nate Silver's predictions here and say 19 Dem Governors, 30 Repub Governors, and 1 Independent Gov (RI).

John Marek's Nov. 2nd Local Election Predictions:

1st (because I have a lot to say about it) Consolidation: I admit that I was a fence-sitter for way too long on this issue because I felt like the consolidation initiative gave way too many concessions to the county (in order to garner its support), but now I am firmly for it although I do not predict it will pass.

Why? For all of the wrong reasons. The obvious group opposing consolidation includes the greedy white county residents who don't want to pay their fair share of taxes to the city (that benefits them and likely gave them a reason to move to where they are at in the first place...ya know that place that most of them drive to work every morning?).

What's the group that came out of nowhere and opposed consolidation? Members of the African American community opposing it because of their fear that vote dilution will result with a metro county government body...I understand why they make this argument, but I wish they could see why it is such a racist reason to oppose something that will actually benefit the city.

Both the county whites and the city blacks (who oppose it...not all city blacks and all county whites oppose it) are missing a fundamental reason for consolidation. Businesses that come to Memphis have to jump through a double bureaucracy/hurdle in order to establish themselves here (County and City). This doesn't make sense, its bad for business, and its sad that at the end of the day this won't pass because of greed and the fact that people continue to refuse to come together as one.

U.S. House District 9: Congressman Cohen will win this hands down. Charlotte Bergmann can't win in a district that was drawn very heavily in favor of Democrats and is represented by a popular Congressman who has dedicated his life to representing the people of this city (i.e. he's done A LOT).

I could see Bergmann getting as much as 30% of the vote, and if she gets more than that it will only be due to the fact that we've had a low turn out around this area for the 2010 election cycle. I would be very shocked if she even got close to 40%.

U.S. House District 8: I'm obviously going for Herron. However, the numbers just don't look that great and I could see him losing by 5 to 10%. I hope I'm wrong on this one more than most. I will add that if Herron can get North Memphis to actually vote, then it will be an entirely different race, which is why I may actually spend some of my time tomorrow canvassing the part of N. Memphis in his district.

MS House District 1: Travis Childers is also behind in the polling, but he is only behind by 5 to 6%, which means that a good GOTV operation could make a higher than expected turnout dismiss the likely voter model used by the pollsters in his race. However, if the turnout there matches the 9th (and other districts w/ high amounts of minority voters) at all, I don't see him pulling an upset either.


TN Gov: As much as I would prefer McWherter to Haslam, I just don't see it happening in this political environment/state (especially considering the lack of resources McWherter has at his disposal and the plethora of resources on the other side). I think McWherter will be doing well to break 40% (which is very possible), but I don't see it getting much better than that.


I've debated on whether or not to make any more local election predictions since I don't have as much data, but what the hell:

State House District 93: Tn State Rep. Mike Kernell has a fight on his hands. He should technically be able to pull it off, but its all going to come down to turnout. He was one of the first people to take me canvassing though so I know that he knows how to win an election, and I expect him to hold onto his seat.

State House District 89: Tn State Rep. Jeanne Richardson is going to be just fine. She realized that a low turnout means that you have to treat it like you are behind (hell any candidate should always do so), and her campaign has been working its tail off in a district that is distinctively more Democratic than Rep. Kernell's so I expect her to hold onto her seat too.

Bottom line: I don't see Tim Cook or Clay Shelton pulling off an upset, but if you are going to knock on doors in Memphis tomorrow then help Rep. Kernell or Jeanne Richardson out.

If you are willing to travel a little bit then go to N. MS to help Travis Childers or go to North Memphis/Millington to help Roy Herron.

Because these are the only competitive state house races in the county I'm going to end it there, but feel free to let me know if I left out any big races (I left out school board stuff simply because I haven't seen any data and local races like that are so hard to call).

Coming soon (probably late tonight): Federal Predictions (sorry to all of the Dems who don't like my dire predictions on local or national races...I try to predict w/ my brain and not w/ my heart).