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Archive for July, 2006

Pesky Fly beat me to the punch on this one and put up a remarkable post. As far as I’m concerned, the word “Fucktard” is now the sole property of the bloggers at The Flypaper Theory. I’ve edited it out of the few posts where I’ve used it, replacing it with “asshead”. I’m content with that. Anyway, check out the preeminent, primo Pesky and then join me back here, because as you might have guessed, I’ve got a thing or two to say about this too.

Just before I left for work this morning, a good friend hit the Freedonian mailbag and gave me a head’s up about an article in the CA. It’s long been my second favorite local publication; I like actual reporters, and you can’t beat the Memphis Flyer for reporting. The Commercial Appeal has devolved into a stenography pool and Wendi Thomas.

But never did I expect them to become a dictation forum for panderers to the lowest denominator.

From this morning’s cover story:

Over the last weeks, several African-American groups and candidates have roundly criticized Cohen for joking that his voting record makes him seem like a “black woman” and for his statement that he would ask to join the Congressional Black Caucus if elected.
“He thinks he’s going to go in there and trick the CBC,” said Julian Bolton, who has questioned if, as a Jew, Cohen can best represent a largely Christian district. “He thinks they’d be honored to have him. The only reason he wants to join is that he wants to get money for Israel.”

Let’s flip the roles here for a moment. Imagine, for a moment, that Steve Cohen has said “Don’t elect Julian Bolton. He only wants to send money to Africa.”

There’s no way the Commercial Appeal would have run that without running some quote afterwards from a leader in the black community talking about how absolutely retarded that statement was. Nor should they. It would be absurd on its face. Julian Bolton is almost certainly of African descent, but he has no deep connection to Africa. He’s an American, a Tennessean, and a Memphian. Steve Cohen is Jewish, but he’s not Israeli. He’s an American, a Tennessean, and a Memphian.

Bolton went from pathetic to Pat Buchanan today, and the Commercial Appeal gave him a bully pulpit.

Of course, Julian Bolton was not the only candidate in this race to get in some free shots without getting called out on it.

Also from this morning’s cover story:

“I deserve an apology from Steve for calling me anti-Semitic,” Stanton said. “Steve wants to set up the Christian vs. Jew, Black vs. White dynamic. It’s desperate.”

Okay, anyone that has described Ed Stanton as anything but a moron deserves to be lambasted for an appalling lack of integrity.

Helloooooo? Memphians were not hallucinating those push poll calls from your staff, you assclown. And I dare you to call them liars.

But the Commercial Appeal let that go unchallenged. You would think that they have all these people that they call “reporters” on staff, and someone could look into it and say “Stanton’s lying”. Instead, they let it go. Apparently, you’re allowed to bash Jews in the Commercial Appeal. Something that Jewish business owners should think about when it comes to spending advertising dollars.

The Cohen campaign has not been picking fights, as this ridiculous smear piece made it sound. The Cohen campaign has been on the receiving end of racial smears that no one would tolerate if it was someone of any other race. And you know what? They haven’t launched any kind of counteroffensive. They not only haven’t been picking fights, but they’ve not allowed themselves to be sucked into this sheer stupidity.

Part of me wants to believe that the article was written in an attempt to show what assheads these two truly are. But the fact is, it doesn’t read that way.

It is an absolute disgrace that Memphis politics have come down to this. But it’s an even bigger disgrace that the Commercial Appeal has allowed itself to become the mouthpiece of intolerance.

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There appears to have been a shocking development in the US Senate Republican Primary in Tennessee.

Fact Check, the site that seemed to have handled the 2004 presidential race in a way that can only be described as “Fair and Balanced”, has looked at the Republican Senate Primary and reached the conclusion that the Republican candidates are lying.

Click here to read “Devolution In Tennessee”.

In a perhaps even more shocking development, The Commercial Appeal, also considered by most to be “Fair and Balanced”, actually covered it.

It’s a day of shocking news all the way around. Next thing you know, Nikki Tinker will announce issue positions with some actual substance and Mel Gibson will become a spokesman for the Stanton campaign.

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In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the Steve Haley event held at his house this afternoon. I certainly support him— I’ve made my feelings on Ophelia Ford abundantly clear in the past. I met him when he was running against her the first time around, and I certainly liked him

I figured I was just going to another event. Meet the candidate, shake hands, etc. I’ve been to many, and I’ll no doubt go to many more in my lifetime.

But this one was anything but typical.

I’m guessing that somewhere around fifty people gathered to hear three of the most electrifying political speeches delivered in this area since… I don’t know when.

First out of the gate was Brad Watkins. Now, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Brad Watkins grow as a leader over the last couple of years. I’m proud to say I was there when it first started, when I met up with him and Merritt Haine in Otherlands Coffee Shop for the first meeting of what would come to be known as Democracy For Memphis. He’s grown into his role as organizer, and has turned into one of the better speakers in local politics. And this afternoon, he gave the most powerful speech I’ve ever seen him give. He spoke about campaign finance reform, which has never been a barn burner of a topic— But he made it one. And for the record, I thought he was delivering a hell of a speech even before he quoted me. I beamed with pride at having been quoted and mentioned by name in such a good speech.

Next up was Rep. John DeBerry, State Representative for District 90. I get out to political events. From what I hear, he does too, although until today, I’d never met him. And I live in his district. So again, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To say I was impressed would be an understatement. As he spoke, I could imagine him speaking in front of much bigger crowds. The thing that holds him back from it though is actually the very thing that’s great about him— He doesn’t do fundraisers. He spoke about the need for legislators to be free of special interest money. Unlike other politicians that talk about that, he walks the walk. It was an amazing speech, and I can’t help wishing that he was running for higher office.

Then Steve Haley came out and spoke himself. He’s a truly remarkable candidate with a polished speaking style honed over his years as an instructor at Southwest. He hit on many of the same points that Brad and Rep. DeBerry hit on, but remarkably, it never got tiring.

So… How much do you think Ophelia Ford is speaking out on campaign finance reform? Never mind. Stupid question.

Afterwards, Autoegocrat, Leftwing Cracker, West Tennessee Liberal, Brad Watkins and I talked to Tom Guleff, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the Tennessee 9th District Congressional Race. I’m not sure how wise it is for me to endorse a candidate in the Republican primary— I’m more than a little concerned that hardcore Republicans would see me liking a candidate as a bad thing. But you know what? This is precisely the kind of guy they need. I told him this to his face, and I’m telling anyone who reads this now— If there were more Republicans like Tom Guleff, there would be more Republicans. I’m sure that if we sat down and talked about issues, we would find plenty to disagree on. But he’s a hell of a guy. He graduated West Point and went on to serve in the First Gulf War with the 101st.

Guleff will have a hard time beating the mountains of money his opponent has spent. But I certainly hope he does. And the Commercial Appeal happens to agree with me.

All in all, a remarkable event. Those of you who missed it happened to miss one of the best political events in a long time.

Autoegocrat has an audio recording of some of the speeches. If he gets us a transcript, I plan to link to it.

UPDATE

My good friend Autoegocrat has posted the mp3 files and transcripts of the speeches yesterday. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

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Country music, under normal circumstances, is not my thing.  I love Johnny Cash’s music.  I like Willie Nelson, but I think that may be as much about who he is than the music itself.  My father loved the old time country music singers, and he and my mother used to listen to Patsy Cline fairly often.

But that’s roughly where my knowledge of country music ends.  In fact, when I was asking my friend David Holt a couple of weeks ago if Papa Top’s West Coast Turnaround was good, he looked at me and said “Do you like Whiskey River?”  I said “Well, it sounds like a hell of a vacation spot.”  

From talking to him and talking to Chris Davis, the lead singer of the band, I eventually figured out that the show was old time country, the kind my parents used to listen to.  The kind before country became pop with bad hair and bad clothes.  No Marty Stuart mullets, and no Shania Twain shaking her rack while singing something that would be considered rather mediocre were it correctly categorized as pop (Not that I mind seeing her shake her rack, mind you) at a Papa Top show.

I arrived at the show last night to find Chris standing at the door.  Their regular door guy couldn’t make it, and they forgot to line someone else up.  Many years ago, I was a musician myself— No way could I let one of the musicians stay off the stage because he had to work the door, and that’s the choice they were facing.  So my knowledge of their first set is a bit shaky.  I know they started it off with a good rendition of “Ring of Fire”, which I consider to be all the payment for my services that is required (And “Folsom River Blues” was like getting a huge tip).

Toward the end of the first set, Chris got on the microphone, thanked me for working the door, and told me to get out there and have a good time.  And that’s precisely what I did.

I went over and joined my friend Autoegocrat at the front of the stage for the remainder of the first set and the entire second.

We were treated to a show that is country music the way it’s supposed to sound.  No synthesizers.  No cheesy choruses that sound like Def Leppard singing with a twang.  Gritty, not always pretty music played by aficionados of what is unfortunately a dying genre.

The fiddle player (I’m just country-uncouth enough to have real problems with calling that instrument anything other than “violin”) had never even seen the band, much less played with them before sitting in on last night’s show, yet fit in extraordinarily well.

Here is what is easily the finest thing I can say about Papa Top’s West Coast Turnaround:  My Dad would have loved them.  So much so that it almost felt wrong watching them without him.

Thanks Chris, for an excellent show and an excellent evening.  I’ll definitely be looking forward to your next show.

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The Playbook

As most know by now, Harold Ford Sr. and A.C. Wharton both opened their wallets for Julian Bolton in the TN 9th District Congressional race.

What very few are talking about is what this actually means.

Nikki Tinker has been playing up the “I worked for Ford Jr.” angle in an attempt to make herself look like the heir apparent. Ford Jr. hasn’t had a close race since getting elected. Particularly not last time, when the GOP ran current Democratic contender Ruben Fort in the hopes that nearsighted old ladies would accidentally pick the wrong name.

So presumably, if Nikki Tinker was in as tight with the Ford family as she seems to want us to believe, then she should have no problem pulling off an endorsement, right?

So… Where is it? Where’s the check? I just ran a search on Open Secrets, and no one named Harold Ford has given any money to Nikki Tinker.

What gives?

If not for yesterday, I would have guessed that they wanted to stay out of it. The only Ford running in this primary doesn’t need the money— MySpace doesn’t charge a monthly fee.

There’s a larger consequence to Ford Sr. giving money to Julian Bolton— And it’s not unintentional.

With his tacit endorsement of Julian Bolton, Harold Ford Sr. is running something of a misdirection play.

He doesn’t want to come out in favor of Cohen. But he’s done the next best thing.

It could hurt his standing in the black community if he picks the one white/ Jewish candidate when there are a dozen black candidates to choose from.

Does he throw his support behind the one contender out of that field that actually has a little momentum? No. In fact, by writing that check to Bolton, he threw a roadblock in front of her. Now, Bolton is the one with the upward momentum.

Ford Sr.’s name is still treated with enough reverence around here to make sure that Bolton is going to pick up five or six points out of this. If Tinker is lucky, she’ll hold steady at 17%. But I suspect that some of those voters shifting Bolton’s way will be coming out of her pocket.

Harold Ford Sr. is a very intelligent man. He does nothing by accident. His motives aren’t always obvious, but they’re always there.

He’s done exactly what he wanted to do. He’s handed this election to Steve Cohen.

Is it conjecture? Sure. But try and explain it some other way.

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Dear Emily…

Carrie Giddins
press@emilyslist.org

I can’t begin to fathom what your organization was thinking.

You once seemed to be somewhat selective in the company you kept. The smart women, the women most likely to succeed… It makes one of your recent choices puzzling.

Hooking up with Nikki Tinker, simply put, was a stupid mistake more worthy of a political novice than an organization as (perhaps formerly) respected as Emily’s List. She stands for absolutely nothing that your organization claims to. If she does, then much like every other issue imaginable, she’s lacked the guts to say so.

But— And this is where your total lack of knowledge of this city and its people really shows— You joined in on attacking a man that has been magnificently progressive on the issues that are important to women. That decision was so ludicrous that it makes dropping the kids off at Michael Jackson’s house look smart by comparison.

Have you grown so comfortable in your position that you’ve begun to believe that credibility grows on trees? Do you believe it just magically reappears once this campaign is over?

Take a good look at some of the comments we’ve been seeing. These are all women that you’ve managed to alienate with this fiasco.

  • …Suffice to say that any support previously given, or contemplated in the future, to Emily’s List, is hereby sincerely regretted. Between the Kurita snub earlier this year and the current attack on one of the best supporters that liberal women have ever had in this state, the “List” has burned its bridges with me. Hope Tinker and the “List” go down in flames…
  • …Recently you sent an attack piece out in Memphis against State Senator Steve Cohen, a Democratic running for Congress. The piece accused him of being anti-family, anti-education, and pro-sex shops. Nothing could be further from the truth. I understand Emily’s List supporting Nikki Tinker for Congress. What I do not understand is them seeking to damage or destroy a good Democrat who has done nothing but work for our issues. This action has really damaged your organization’s credibility with me…
  • …In reviewing this glossy color 8.5″ x 22″ mailer, I see very little relevant information about Ms. Tinker juxtaposed against a few emotional, inflammatory and misleading words and pictures which suggest that Senator Cohen has been anti-education in Tennessee… I trust this scurrilous piece of dirty politicking will backfire against your candidate with the same furious intensity felt by the moral majority in the lottery vote. I also hope your near-sighted supporters in this region will look more closely into the organization known as Emily’s List when they prepare to open their wallets again…


Those writers are not men. They are your base. Some have given money to your organization before. And some of them never will again. And some of them are going to talk every chance they get about the slipshod job your organization has done scouting candidates in this area.

For the sake of your own credibility, I suggest rethinking this whole Tinker endorsement. I can understand if you don’t feel up to endorsing a male candidate— But you clearly stepped over a dollar to pick up a dime in this race.

I hope you’ll seriously reconsider this. The mistake was a big one, but you have a chance to wipe the egg off of your face.

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So I went to the Tinker website, and I was simply stunned at how little she actually says.  Particularly since her Anonytrolls have been bombarding several of the local bloggers with comments about how much she talks about “the issues”.

For contrast, I provided some of Steve Cohen’s platform on here.  I wanted to show people the difference between Nikki Tinker and a serious, qualified candidate.

One has accomplishments to point to and plans to tell you about.  The other speaks in broad, sweeping generalizations, and has roughly the same list of accomplishments as Ashlee Simpson.

First, Nikki Tinker on Healthcare:
Nikki Tinker believes the number of uninsured people in our country is inexcusable and should be a national priority.  She believes that the federal government must ensure the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare.  Congress should also fund initiatives to help small businesses purchase affordable private coverage.  She also favors publishing physicians’ charges so that consumers can comparison shop and a national healthcare program that provides health care coverage for all Americans.

Not very much to it, is there?  Everyone thinks the number of uninsured people is inexcusable and should be a national priority.  Duh.  Hell, I don’t even think there’s a Republican that would say otherwise.  They’d certainly have a different approach than a Democrat would, but her answer really doesn’t allow us to see what side of that particular fence she’s on.

Now, let’s compare that to a candidate that has something he can run on:

Steve Cohen on Healthcare:I support the principle that adequate health care is a fundamental right for every Memphian. The U.S. health care system works well for some and not at all for tens of millions. For normal working people in Memphis who have insurance coverage health care premiums, deductibles, and co-pays keep rising. Many have no healthcare benefits after retirement or divorce.

  1. I strongly opposed TennCare cuts and proposed an alternative to keep hundreds of thousands insured.
  2. I cast one of the essential votes as a County Commissioner to build The MED.
  3. I secured money for the Brannon McCulloch Primary Health Care Center in Binghamton, for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and for The MED.

Memphis has the highest rate of infant mortality among the 60 largest cities in the U.S. Babies here die at twice the national average. The most frequent cause is premature birth attributable to bad nutrition, addictions (drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes), lack of transportation, and lack of education about pre-natal behavior and care. I’ll work to obtain money to improve pre-natal health care (including counseling) and better access to health care for children.
Medicaid and Medicare are part of the humanitarian safety net that represents the best of America. I will work hard to support them and allow states more flexibility in its Medicaid (TennCare) plans.
I favor permitting importation of high-quality, lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. The Food and Drug Administration should serve the people not the drug manufacturers.
I will seek to increase funding for research into the cause and treatment of Alzheimer’s, AIDS, cancer, and diabetes.
I will fight for a fair relationship between the way corporate executives provide health care for themselves, before and after retirement, and the way they treat employees.
See how this whole thing works?  He sets it up by acknowledging there’s a problem.  Unlike Tinker, he goes on to tell you what he’s done to address that problem so far in his career (Which stands in stark contrast with a corporate attorney that screwed up the benefits plans of Northwest Airlines employees) and what he wants to do as a Congressman.

That’s the difference between prime time and not ready for prime time.

I would say you could do that on every issue, but I would be lying.  For Darling Nikki only has semi-positions on six issues on her website.

And strangely enough…  The beneficiary of a hit piece by Emily’s List is the only candidate in this comparison that doesn’t have Women’s Issues on the site.  Imagine that.  The man talks about women’s issues.  The woman couldn’t care less.

Still, I’ll give you links to compare the rest.

Tinker vs Cohen on Crime

Tinker vs Cohen on Civil Rights (Personally, I agree with Tinker on the need to regulate the “payday advance” places, but is that really a civil rights issue?  I’m white, but if I’m poor enough to use them, they’ll charge me the same usurious interest rates as anyone else)

Tinker vs Cohen on Foreign Policy (Don’t believe the war in Iraq was a good idea?  Only one of these two had the guts to state a position on it)

Tinker vs Cohen on the Deficit

Tinker vs Cohen on Education

Now, you no doubt have plenty of time on your hands.  After all, only one of these two had anything to say about the following issues:

Ethics
Energy Issues
Job SecurityCovenant with Black America
Seniors (For shame, Miss Tinker.  Aren’t they one of your key constituencies?)
The Environment
Constituent Services
Arts
And I’m a little puzzled by this one, but Pet Protection.

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