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Archive for September, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pam!!!

My lovely blogging partner is turning another year more beautiful today.

I first met her a little over two years ago on the Kerry campaign (Sigh). She was beautiful inside and out, a true genius, and someone that was genuinely fun to be around.

And you’ve got nothing but better since then, Pam.

Over the last year, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know her much better. I’ve listened to her as she’s spoken. I’ve gained greater insight just by sitting across from her and absorbing her wisdom. I’ve laughed until my ribs ache at her amazing sense of humor. And as a result, I asked her over and over until she agreed to come here and join me on this site. It’s been stronger ever since she signed on.

Today is her day, and I would be forever grateful if you would join me in raising a glass to Pam. For the day of her birth is a day worth celebrating.

Think we could talk Bredesen into making it a state holiday for next year? I think I’ll look into that.

Happy Birthday, Pam.

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Disgusting. Disgraceful.

MAF54: did any girl give you a haand job this weekend
Xxxxxxxxx: lol no
Xxxxxxxxx: im single right now
Xxxxxxxxx: my last gf and I broke up a few weeks agi
MAF54: are you
MAF54: good so your getting horny

This is an exchange between Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL 16) and a sixteen year-old congressional page.

There’s a level of depravity that goes beyond the obvious. Gay, straight, or all of the above, sixteen year-olds should obviously be off limits, and it’s a disgrace that Mark Foley was walking the hallowed halls of Congress.

No, the greatest depravity was not even his— Dennis Hastert has known about this for eleven months, which makes him the Cardinal Law of Capitol Hill.

Eleven months is half a lifetime to men who live and die in two-year campaign cycles. Just think about how long that is— If you got pregnant the day Hastert found out about this, you would have a two-month-old child by now. Rescue workers were still digging New Orleans out from under cascades of mud while this was going on. This is three marriages ago for some movie stars.

What exactly did the Republican House leadership do? They advised pages to not socialize with Mark Foley. In the meantime, Foley co-chaired the Congressional Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children (And also the Congressional Beef Caucus, which now takes on a whole different subtext).

The voters deserve to know, and they deserve to know before they decide whether or not to send Dennis Hastert, Rodney Alexander, Thomas Reynolds (Head of the National Republican Congressional Committee), and John Shimkus back to Congress. Each of these men were promptly notified of this problem and took no action against a cohort of theirs that was preying on sixteen-year-old children.

What did they know, and when did they know it?
Who else did they tell?
Did it occur to anyone to try and remove him?
If an average person solicits sex with a minor, they go to jail. Why has it taken almost a year (It would have been longer if not for external pressure) to do so much as refer this to the Ethics Committee?
How far did this go at the NRCC? How many people involved in that organization were knowingly shoveling campaign money into the coffers of someone they knew to be a pedophile?

We deserve answers, and we deserve them almost a year ago.

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From an Asset to a Liability

I’m getting word today that Bob Corker has started push polling against Harold Ford Jr. in the US Senate race. One of the questions deals with voter fraud in the Ford family. Vehemently Pro-Ford blogger Chris Jackson has denied that anything of the kind ever took place.

Not so fast, Mr. Jackson. Even if you accept the theory that Ophelia knew absolutely nothing about the cemetary vote that turned out for her in the special election against Terry Roland, there’s still a problem.

Isaac Ford, who lives well outside of District 29, voted in that election. His was one of the “Big 13” contested votes, along with radio host Jennings Bernard.

You’ve got Isaac running around like a loose cannon, Jake humiliating the family by not knowing enough to discuss any issues, both of them showing up at Harold Ford Jr. events, and now they’re being used against Jr. in a push poll.

What does it take to get Harold Ford Jr. to shuffle off the albatross around his neck?

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Wish Sarah a Happy Birthday

I feel safe in speaking for my lovely blogging partner Pam in wishing our dear friend Sarah Rutledge, founder of the local Drinking Liberally chapter a happy birthday today.

You’re not getting older. You’re getting better, I assure you. And she’s still young enough to think of a birthday as a good thing.

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“This was a straight setup. I’m disgusted we even showed up,” Isaac Ford grumbled after Monday night’s candidate forum. He had witnessed the same sad performance out of his brother Jake that the audience had, and was one of the few Jake Ford supporters in the room unwilling to pretend that he had made a good showing.

“What? The debate?” I asked. I was standing only about four feet away and had overheard an argument between a Ford supporter and a Cohen supporter only moments before.

“This was a fucking setup,” he said.

“How is a debate a setup?” I asked him. I won’t pretend that I’m a Jake Ford supporter, but I can honestly say that if they thought something was unfair, I wanted to hear about it.

Isaac looked at me angrily and said “It’s not a debate. It’s a forum, sir.”

“Okay,” I said, still waiting for what was unfair about the forum.

Instead of answering me, he looked up and said “What’s your name?”

“Rick Maynard,” I said, holding out my hand. I had spoken to him briefly the day before at his brother’s campaign rally, but I certainly couldn’t fault him for not remembering. I’m sure he met a lot of people that day.

“Rick Maynard, what do you do?” he asked defensively. I wasn’t really sure how that tied into what was unfair about the forum, but okay.

“I am a local blogger—“

And that was all Isaac had to hear.

“You’re a local blogger. That’s what I thought. You’re one of those Cohen bloggers, so get out of here. Get out of here. Write it all tonight. Write it all tonight. Enjoy writing to your white community, which is not gonna—

“You know, I—

“How the fuck did you get in here?”

I thought that was a strange question, as anyone could show up to the forum, but I ignored it. I had no hostile intent in this conversation, and I wanted to make that clear.

“I actually wrote a very f—“ I was going to say “fair piece about Harold”, but I was interrupted.

“I’m talking to my buddy here. I’m not going to conversate [sic] with you,” he said. I had actually been near the young man he described as “his buddy” before he was, as he was the one that had been arguing with the Cohen supporter, so I didn’t feel the need to walk away simply because Isaac arrived. I had actually wanted to talk to the “buddy” and get his take on the debate. He was obviously one of the few people in the building unashamed to defend Jake after that performance, and I wanted to get his take.

“I’m not trying to fight you,” I said, holding up my hands. I was going to say I simply wanted their perspective, and if they felt they were treated unfairly, I wanted to know about it. I will not deny that I support Cohen in this campaign, but frankly, I’m liberal enough to care if someone feels they were mistreated.

“Fight?” Isaac asked. “You’ll know when I fight you. “I’ll tell you that. I’m not going to fight you here in front of all these witnesses—“

“I wrote a very fair piece—“ I continued, trying to head off this argument.

“— so I can go to jail,” he continued.

“I wrote a very fair piece about Harold today,” I said. I thought he came off sounding pretty good in the piece I had written for the River City Mud Bugle.

“Harold?” he sneered. “I want to talk about Jake.”

The way he said “Harold” caught me off guard. It was almost as though I had said some kind of dirty word. I admit, I didn’t even know what to say to that.

“What’s the name of your blog? What’s the name of your blog?”

At this point, I knew any chance of a rational conversation was over. I didn’t talk to him to get some kind of a public argument. I simply wanted to find out what, if anything, was unfair about that forum, but he wanted to make the conversation about me.

“Have a nice day,” I said, then turned and walked away.

I didn’t catch everything he said to me as I was walking off. And unfortunately, since I had my back to him, the digital voice recorder that was sitting in the front pocket of my shirt was pointed in the wrong direction. You can listen to it or download it here. If anyone can screen the room noise out of the latter part of the file enough to get what was said, then you’re sharper with audio software than I am, and I have no problem admitting it. I know the f-bomb was dropped a few more times, but I can’t honestly say I remember precisely what was said anymore. Someone else started a conversation with me as Isaac was still ranting, and I quit recording at that point.

Let this be a lesson in politics for the neophyte Ford brothers. A political operative that knows what he’s doing never loses his cool in public like that. They certainly don’t chastise people that they know are writers and say “Write it all tonight”. They don’t curse at people when media is in the room— If I hadn’t recorded the conversation, someone else very well might have.

And they’re certainly smart enough to know that when they speak in public, they’re on the record.

Jake Ford is clearly not the only younger Ford brother that doesn’t know what he’s doing.

***UPDATE***
It’s been pointed out to me that there was a problem with the earlier audio link. It should be repaired now, and can be accessed by clicking the earlier link or clicking right here. Sorry for the inconvenience.

***Update #2***
Fourth time is a charm, I hope. Audio links should be fixed.

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I won’t pretend that I wasn’t backing Steve Cohen before last night’s forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I’m a Democrat, and I’m unabashed and unrepentant for my support for Democratic candidates, unless they are simply unfit to hold office.

Nor will I pretend that Jake Ford did anything last night to swing my opinion of him. He looked like the little boy that tried on his father’s suit as he sat on the makeshift stage at the Benjamin Hooks Public Library. It was difficult not to feel at least a little sympathy for him as he struggled for answers to questions that someone that put at least a modicum of thought into his candidacy would have anticipated.

I’m not here to verbally decimate him for not having read the USA PATRIOT Act (Although I do take issue with the fact that he apparently does not realize it has actually passed already). Very few people have, including, unfortunately, most of the people that voted for it. Knowing the text of it inside out could take anyone months, as massive portions of it consist entirely of changing “the” to “a” in subparagraph fourteen of another law passed thirty years before. I’ll be honest— I’m one of the few people in the world that actually enjoys reading something like that, and even I scrambled for the Cliffs Notes on that one after reading just a few of its three hundred mind-numbing pages.

But when you’re asked about Medicare cuts, you need an answer. It doesn’t have to be a great one, but you really must at least address it enough to let people know you care about the issue enough to look into it.

Jake had no answer. “I will defer now just to say that I will update my position on this question later as the election goes on.”

“Right now, I think Congress is doing a pretty good job of it” was part of his answer on whether or not he thought ethics reform was a good idea. We’ve got a congressman cooling his heels in a California prison cell. Another from Texas may well join him soon. Another from Louisiana is stashing cash in Tupperware containers in his freezer, and the only thing that Republicans, Democrats, and the White House can see eye to eye on is that we should all look the other way. We may never be able to fully grasp the scope of the cloud of corruption that followed wherever Jack Abramoff went.

But Congress is doing a “pretty good job”? If Congress got any worse, they would have to hold committee meetings in a parole office.

I’m not here to bash Jake Ford again. It’s superfluous at this point. I’m not up to the task of making him sound less like a suitable candidate than he made himself sound at the candidate forum. Words simply fail at this point. The Ninth District Dynasty ends here.

All that remains is for Jake to do what I know he had to be thinking as he sat bewildered on that stage— It’s time for him to cut his losses and call it a day. This is an embarrassment to a family with a political legacy that, while certainly not flawless, is at least admirable.

I’ve spoken to Harold Ford Sr. before. If he was still running for office, I would be a supporter of his. I was a fan of his voting record since way before I was old enough to vote. Even ten years out of the game, he’s an intelligent, capable man.

I have my differences with Harold Ford Jr. I make no bones about it. He tends to latch onto “red meat” issues too often for my taste. But at the end of the day, he’s an intelligent, capable man.

Jake, from my brief encounters with him, seems to be a perfectly nice fellow. And on some levels, he certainly seems like a smart man. But when you’re looking for a representative in congress, you look for the extraordinary. “Smarter than the guy that cuts my hair” simply isn’t enough.

As he spoke about our need to pass the Patriot Act, I looked around the room. You tend to do that during the really surreal moments, as if to say “Am I hallucinating, or are you hearing this too?” While I didn’t run a survey to verify it, it appeared that Jake Ford was the only person in the room that didn’t know the Patriot Act was already on the books.

Jake, for the sake of your brother and the rest of your family, you have some soul-searching to do. Why are you running at all? What do you hope to accomplish? Are you driven by the need to make the lives of the people of this nation better, or are you running simply because it’s a cool job?

I’ve made a lot of jokes at Jake Ford’s expense. Sadly, we’ve reached the point where it’s more sad than amusing.

Jake, your chances of winning are not good. If some miracle happens, and Steve Cohen and Mark White get struck by lightning, then you will have become the one guy in Washington DC so ill-informed that George W. Bush looks like a tower of intellect by virtue of standing next to you.

Furthermore, you’re a bleeding wound to your brother’s campaign. As well as he’s doing in the rest of the state, he’s hemorrhaging here. Don’t ask Isaac— I no longer believe he has your best interest at heart, and after the way he sneered at me for mentioning Harold’s name last night (More on that later), I certainly don’t believe he cares whether or not he destroys Harold’s senate campaign.. Ask Harold’s campaign staff. If you ask them for an honest assessment as to whether you’re hurting Harold or not, they’ll be looking for a back door to shove you out of before you even complete the sentence.

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Educational Observation

As many of you know by now, Jake Ford did his media debut on Monday. On the same day, Sen. Steve Cohen addressed the College Democrats at the University of Memphis. I got to listen to Jake and Steve on the same day, which clarified my views about the characteristics that identify and differentiate each candidate. These events got me thinking about a particular issue that is very important to me: Higher Education.

Jake Ford’s GED and his unsuccessful college stints have opened the door to a fair amount of criticism. While I respect him for at least getting a GED, I wonder what has kept him for pursuing higher education. He is bright and articulate, and has a role model to follow in his older brother, who attended an Ivy League School for undergrad and went on to graduate with a JD from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country. So what’s the hold up?

I have many friends with GEDs. I also have many friends who did not finish college for one reason or another. Some of them were faced with a financial burden that, at that age, they were unable to sustain. Many of them dropped-out because they were young and irresponsible, and wasted their opportunities away. However, most of them regret not finishing their degrees and would like to go back to college but they can’t because they can’t afford it. They can’t afford to leave their bill-paying jobs for a degree that no longer ensures them the possibility of a better future. Nevertheless, many people fight against the odds and go back to school and finish their degrees. Among these people we find single mothers, people that struggle financially, people that have been out of school for years, and all sort of untraditional students that manage to beat the obstacles one way or another to accomplish their goals.

Jake Ford was evidently in the position that his will to go back to school could have been financially backed up by his family, and yet he chose not to. I can understand him being proud of having a GED and that he has had a good run at in his father’s company, but how is that an accomplishment?

Education is the cornerstone of democracy and better society. His disdain for higher education bothers me, as he does not seem to understand the severity of this issue. Students are troubled not only by the rising cost of college tuition and the prospect of a unstable job market, but also with the notion that pursuing this ideal means for many having to repay a debt almost well into retirement.

There is a broader economic impact to be considered as well. Educational loans do not stimulate the economy, so it is in the nation best interest to provide financial assistance to these students to ensure that their future earnings are not tied up in endless debts, but are instead invested in their future as saving accounts, health insurance, retirement plans, so on and so forth. Steve Cohen understands these principles and has fought fiercely for many years to make education accessible for those who value higher education.

At the College Democrats’ meeting, the students were asked how many of them were on the Hope scholarship, which is financed through the Tennessee Lottery. I would say that 40 to 60 percent of the students present raised their hands, and thanked Sen. Cohen for making that possible.

The difference is clear. On one side, we have a man that has fought for the educational dreams of students in Tennessee. One the other side, you have a guy that couldn’t even fight for his own.

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