Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post election post mortem potpourri

Biggest loser on the national scene with Tennessee roots?
Bill Frist.
He went to Washington in the mid 90s as a man promising to usher in an era of change, reform and bipartisanship.
He leaves Washington as a wounded political animal, tangled up in the trappings of power, with a nasty partisan tenure as his legacy.
Strangest convergence of national and local politics in Tennessee?Republican state senator Tim Burchett doing a voiceover for an automated phone call paid for by a right wing Chicago-based 527 organization. In the voiceover Burchett trumps up allegations that U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford jr. is for government seizures of property owned by private citizens and small businessmen. Time and post-election disclosure will tell us if Burchett was paid for his hatchet job.
Biggest winner(s) on the national scene with Tennessee roots?Congressmen Jim Cooper and John Tanner, along with the other members of the "Blue Dog" coalition in the U.S. House. The Blue Dogs - fiscal conservatives who are fighting for more truthful and open accounting of our federal tax dollars - saw their ranks increase to as many as 47 members with gains across the nation. The Blue Dogs may become the tail that wags the leadership dog with key swing votes on important issues to come.
Worst call on campaign yard signs in Nashville?Republican Bob Krumm, who got trounced by incumbent state senator Doug Henry in the state's 21st district race. Krumm's yard signs simply read "Vote Bob State Senate." Memo to Krumm - when you run as an unknown with a common first name, you might consider using your last name on your yard signs.
Most creative and innovative approach to reporting election night returns in Nashville?The partnership between WKRN Channel 2 and The
Post political journalist Ken Whitehouse, local pundit/mover/shaker James Weaver, local pr/GOP operative Kevin Phillips and a team of Ch. 2 producers operated an election war room, crunching results numbers precinct by precinct across the state, and feeding the info to a panel of pundits. The pundits - led by tv veterans Bob Mueller and Neil Orne - broadcast results and analysis via the local ABC affiliate channel, a comcast cable channel, local radio station WLAC, as well as Ch.2's blog. I was ugly window dressing to the whole affair (yea, I was the rotund bald guy without the tie sitting on the set like a drunk Budda whose name was misspelled on camera). Damn shame to ruin a good panel like radio man Steve Gill and the City Paper's Clint Brewer with the likes of me. But I have to say that it was damn cool to watch up close the unique media partnership - broadcast and web - push out news and spin in non-stop streaming fashion using both traditional and non-traditional means.
Most shameful display of political soothsaying in Tennessee?Any media outlet that paid for shitty polling, only to report the shitty polling results as gospel.
Most moving display of representative democracy at work in my neck of the woods?
The small band of citizens who waited patiently - some for up to 6 hours after the polls closed in an East Nashville precinct - to exercise their right to vote. As the midnight hour approached, when a citizen would step away from a voting machine after casting a ballot, the others remaining in line would cheer and applaud. The local poll workers (also heroes in my book for keeping the faith) ran out of "I Voted" stickers and resorted to handing out homemade "I Voted" stickers to the voting faithful.
Most fun mouthing off about politics this election cycle from a Tennessee perspective - even if no one is listening or paying attention?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Come on man...she's right behind you!

GOP State Senator Bill Ketron is facing a tough challenge from democrat Vince Springer.
Ketron - who's already been spanked for claiming his taxpayer-funded legislative office as his campaign address - has a few campaign finance watchers scratching their heads over an apparent lack of candor displayed in his recent campaign contributor disclosure.
Seems Ketron's experienced a brain fart over background concerning some select donors to his campaign.
Instead of full disclosure on the forms, he pled the 5th by stating that he didn't really know who they were but made the "best effort" at trying to find out.
The mystery donors?
Well...there's the entire "Haslam" clan - Haslam as in big oil $$...Haslam as in HUGE donor to GOP candidates from the White House to the state house for more than a generation.
Oh yea...that Haslam clan.
Hmmm...brain fart or concern about open ties to big oil $$ this election cycle?
And then there's that ever mysterious donor Diane in fellow GOP state senator Diane in she sits right freaking behind you in the durn Senate chamber Diane Black.
Oh yea...that Diane Black.
Hmmm...brain fart or concern over ties to a right-winger from another part of the state?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tennessee TV news anchors practicing modern day "Tasseography"?

Say what?
For the Google-impaired, "tasseography" is the practice of reading tea leaves in a tea cup to predict outcomes in life.
For the past two days I've watched and listened to a fair share of Tennessee news anchors repeat an assertion made by a flawed CNN poll about where things stand in the Tennessee U.S. Senate race.
In fact, if you take those very same news anchors, dim the TV studio lights overhead, fire up a candle in front of them, and ask them to wave their hands over a tea cup, we could be watching modern day "tasseography" in action via our TV sets.
I've yet to hear an on air media personality tell the whole story behind the flawed CNN poll. You could argue its because of newscast time limitations, but I suspect the blame lies more with a lack of understanding of how polling actually works.
Here's what's not being said - Opinion Research - the polling firm hired by CNN - did zero preliminary voter identification before it polled in our state. In fact, all they did was to simply set their system to randomly dial Tennessee phone numbers, asking the person who answered if they were registered to vote, and then if they said they were registered to vote, whether or not they planned to vote in this election. Based on affirmative answers - made up or real - to both questions Opinion Research determined that their system had in fact captured a likely voter resulting in what they claim is a true reading of where things stand in our U.S. Senate race.
Opinion Research's approach is akin to having one grade schooler ask another grade schooler if so-and-so really "likes me"...check yes or no. And not all that much more advanced than waiting for a floating clump of tea leaves in your tea cup to form the outline of a recognizable figure that symbolizes an outcome in life.
Legitimate pollsters for both parties work off lists of voters whose voting history has been analyzed to death to identify true "likely voters." The end result is that people who have a history of doing what they say they do get polled, not people who say they do but don't.
Why is this distinction important? If a pollster or news outlet declares "likely voters" believe this or that - they should be certain that "likely voters" actually believe this or that.
In the final days before the Election, voters are paying close attention to what the candidates are doing and saying, and more often than not, these same voters are relying on news outlets to help them understand what's going on.
Instead of practicing "tasseography," our local media owe it to their viewers and listeners to carefully dissect any information they are being fed before attempting to distill and broadcast it.
As an aside - not that it has any relevance to anything I just wrote - in my tea cup this morning tea leaves formed the figure of a shoe - the symbol of change coming for the better.

Election Day clarification from comedian Jon Stewart

"Election Day is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is because having it on the first Thursday after the second Saturday in November would be silly."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Once again, Coop raises the Bar

While the GOP has been busy shoveling shit onto the airwaves, Nashville's congressman - Jim Cooper - has been focused on substance.
Coop gave a speech earlier in the year to the Nashville Bar Association that outlined serious concerns about the White House's attempts to aggressively claim the powers of the other branches of federal government. Never one to mince words, Coop condemned "congressional bipartisan underperformance," noting that "White House overreaching would not be possible without congressional complicity and negligence."
The speech apparently has resonated with constitutional scholars nationwide. This week Coop received a top award by the American Bar Association for his insight and grasp of these important constitutional concerns that impact the very heart and soul of our representative democracy.
Now if we can just put Coop in the majority this election, ensuring that we see more of his intellect at work for our nation!

October surprise?

A couple of months ago a handful of national reporters chronicled comments by Bush advisor Karl Rove that he remained confident about the GOP chances of retaining control of Congress, in part, he said, because an October surprise was planned.
Election day is 11 days away. So where's the October surprise?
Could be it's already in play. Could be it's already in play, but it's NOT playing out as planned.
If that's the case, let's consider some possible tactics put into play this month that might NOT be achieving desired results for the GOP.
The drop in gas prices?
A mere coincidence that prices dropped dramatically for the first time this year the very month before the the election? Maybe. But if not, this week's reported 3rd quarter multi-billion dollar profits for the oil companies stands to re-ignite the embers of consumer anger over the lack of a consistent and coherent policy on energy by the GOP leadership in the White House and Congress.
Progress in Iraq?
The most significant October development that was not likely forseen by Rove and Co. - the largest U.S. troop body count for a single month since the alleged war on terror began.
Aggressive airwave attack directed by Rove and the RNC in key races?
The controversial RNC funded tv attack on Harold Ford Jr. - involving racial undertones and lies about Ford - that we now know was produced by Rove protege Scott Howell has ended up backfiring on Bob Corker's campaign and the GOP overall. One of Howell's GOP clients - Sen. John McCain - is denouncing the pathetic hatchet job done on Ford, as is Corker and Corker campaign manager Tom Ingram. Problem for Corker and Co. is that Tennessee voters are proving they are just too damn smart to buy Corker's embarassing attempt at plausible deniability.
October surprise?
There's still time for one. But my sense is that there will be no significant surprises at this late stage, including how the GOP fares on Election Day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yo "Angry" - fire the dude who made you debate Rochelle

Here's some free, unsolicited advice for state senator Mae "Angry" Beavers - "fire the person in your posse who suggested you debate challenger Bob Rochelle."
And while you're at it Mae, "go ahead and demote the person who prepped you for it(I'd recommend sticking them on one of your campaign's midnight Rochelle yard sign de-placement drive-bys out around Tuckers Crossroad)."
Folks...I tried watching the debate last night...really I did. But I admit to having been challenged to stay tuned to it - what with all of "Angry's" paper shuffling, her serious rapid eye blinking (remember what Freud said about rapid eye blinking?), and her rambling over dead issues like the state income tax.
Rochelle on the other hand was calm, cool, collected and knowledgable. Unlike "Angry", Rochelle did not have to rely on notecards with talking points or copies of documents to make a point.
My take on the event - "Angry" came off looking like the bumbling, fumbling ineffective bureaucrat she has become. Last night she offered no evidence that she's done anything concrete during her tenure in office to help schools, improve access to health care or address other pressing issues facing Tennessee families.
Zero - nada.
All she offered up were baseless negative attacks on her opponent that reflect what the GOP across the state and the nation have come to represent this election cycle.
Nuff said.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A war without end?

This factoid passed along by an observant reader of this blog...President Bush's so-called war on terror has dragged on longer than World War II - including both the European and Pacific campaigns.

The Corker motto - "Believe as I say - not as I do"

Bob Corker has publicly denounced the latest RNC tv ad that takes cheap shots at Harold Ford Jr. - which uses actors to play the roles of everyone from a porn pusher to a "scantily clad" blonde woman who winks at the camera. Critics have declared that the ad reflects all that is wrong with politics today - unfounded personal attacks with zero substance and no regard for issues that matters to Tennesseans.
Feeling the heat, Corker's campaign manager de jour Tom Ingram was quoted as saying that the ad does not reflect "the kind of campaign we are running."
But while the Corker posse talks nice, facts tell a different story.
Speaking on CNN Sunday, Ron Brownstein, a respected political reporter veteran for the LA Times, commented that the same RNC operative who stated that the RNC would not take the controversial ad off the air (despite alleged pleas from Ingram) "is the very same person that travels and talks to press on Bob Corker's behalf every day."
Brownstein's assessment - "the whole thing looks a little disingenuous."
Amen bro.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mr. Ed pisses away what remains of his credibility

How sad.
Ed Bryant, who raised his stock among many on both sides of the political aisle for speaking his mind and the truth about the real Bob Corker during the GOP primary, now appears in a tv spot endorsing Corker for the Senate.
He'll soon discover how much credibility can be pissed away in 30 seconds on tv.
BTW - I guess Bryant's re-entry into the political game makes him fair game for any reporters who might ask him if intends to return the $$ he got while in the primary race from alleged wanna-be-Internet porn star Craig Schelske.