Tuesday, January 31, 2006

corker milks Sundquist/DC lobbyist teet

last I checked, the following information was STILL NOT posted on candidate corker's website/nor has the information been conveyed in one of corker's many blast emails around the state:

former Tennessee republican governor don sundquist (that wild and crazy guy who went against his own Party to push for a state income tax) is putting his money and what's left of his political ties in DC behind the candidacy of bob corker, his former state finance commissioner who is now running for the GOP nomination for the US senate.

According to a story in a 2005 article of the Lebanon Democrat newspaper, FEC disclosures showed that Sundquist made a $2,000 contribution to corker's campaign...ok, so one can argue maybe that's yesterday's news...but there's more...

THIS WEEK a group of DC lobbyists that include Charley Poe, former Sundquist body man and the husband of Alexia Poe, Sundquist's former press secretary, are hosting a DC fundraiser tomorrow for corker.
In case you happen to be in DC, here are details of corker's DC fundraiser:
Wednesday, February 1
1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 950

Poe, who nearly made The Hill newspaper's 2005 50 Most Beautiful lobbyists list (I'm not making this up folks!), is obviously going to be helping corker milk the DC lobbyist teet...which raises another question:

where does corker come off criticizing anyone for taking $ from out of state sources (see corker's earlier holier than thou emails and press releases slamming other senate candidates for raising money from out of state sources)??

Monday, January 30, 2006

to avoid further confusion

You may have noticed that the White House and its operatives embedded throughout TV/radio talk show land, have now started to refer to domestic spying as "terrorist monitoring." Even if the spying, I mean "monitoring," occurs on American soil, it is not to be regarded as "domestic" in nature. No word yet on just who the White House might consider as a "terrorist" worthy of spying on, I mean "monitoring."

Tennessee Bush "Pioneers" I know should be outraged

Chances are you have met one of the Bush "pioneers" - those individuals who have contributed $100,000 to elect, or re-elect Bush as President - right here in our home state.
I know three "pioneers" myself - a Nashville attorney, a Nashville physician and a Middle Tennessee local elected official. All are honest, hard working, decent individuals who love their country and are sincere in their belief that the President is the right man for the job. They proudly wear their "pioneer" lapel pin/badge, and are happy to talk to you about why they support this President.
I will not poke fun at these individuals. I believe that people have the right to support whomever they want for elected office. While I certainly disagree on their choice for President, I admire their devotion and commitment to a cause.
But I wonder how my friends and their fellow Tennessee "pioneers" think about all this to do about fellow Bush "pioneer" Jack Abramoff. Abramoff is the DC lobbyist who has admitted to conspiracy, bribery and a whole host of other illegal activities.
In recent weeks, responding to falling poll #s for the President and Republican politicians across the board on matters of ethics, the Bush White House and Republican operatives have started to try to shift attention away from their own Party's dealings with Abramoff by claiming that Democrats should share the blame for the lobbyist.
The facts are that Abramoff is a Bush "pioneer", that he had secret visits to the White House (the Bush Administration continues to hold its ground by not releasing any details of his visits and meetings), and that he was a by-product of the Republican Party's K-Street strategy to put GOP operatives in positions of influence as lobbyists in DC.
Abramoff's Republican roots and training as a GOP operative even go back to his days as a college Republican, working alongside other notables GOP leaders such as Grover Norquist (one of the architects of the failed Bush economic agenda), and Ralph Reed (one of the architects of the Bush so-called moral/religious agenda).
The "pioneers" I know should be outraged by what Abramoff did, and should be especially disgusted by their own Party's attempts to shift responsibility for creating Abramoff and giving his the tools he needed to do his dirty work in DC.

get a clue Bill Frist

When you have to go on national TV as US Sen. Bill Frist did this weekend to admit that what you did months ago - i.e. his ridiculous Terry Schiavo video medical diagnosis - was a lame move that you regret making, then chances are you have not made up much of the ground you have lost in those recent months to turn around your stinking poll #s as you contemplate a race for President in 2008.

shelby county DA should recuse himself from Ford investigation

Over the weekend, the Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported that Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons had made a political contribution to Republican Terry Roland, State Senator Ophelia Ford's opponent. While it is not unusual for a public official to make political contributions to candidates, what raises eyebrows in this instance is that Gibbons has been using his position as DA to influence the state General Assembly as it attempts to resolve the Ford-Roland election dispute, and Gibbons is also in line to prosecute the case if a TBI investigation reveals criminal activity in the disputed election.
I have known Gibbons for many years, going back to his days as then-Gov. Lamar Alexander's special assistant for local government and ubran affairs. Gibbons has always seemed to me to be a decent, level headed fellow - albeit a partisan Republican - but his apparent oversight in failing to disclose on the front end his political involvement in Roland's campaign and the election he is now attempting to influence and investigate is cause for pause.
Back in December of 2005, Gibbons wrote the state Senate committee looking into the election urging it to proceed without benefit of the results of a TBI investigation.
The best resolution in my book at this stage is for Gibbons to recuse himself from this particular case and pledge in the future to be more forthright in his political ties as they relate to cases he is using his DA position to investigate.

Friday, January 27, 2006

the 3 amigo GOP US Senate candidates silent on President Bush's plan to cut the Tn National Guard

This just in from the Ford campaign...

Ford Challenges Republican Opponents to Join Him in Protecting Tennessee National Guard
NASHVILLE - Congressman Harold Ford Jr., the leading candidate for the U.S. Senate, today challenged Republicans Van Hilleary, Ed Bryant and Bob Corker to join him in his efforts to protect the Tennessee National Guard from cuts made by President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld.
"I have written a letter to President Bush asking him to reverse his ill-timed and dangerous decision to cut the Tennessee National Guard and particularly the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville. These cuts are not only harmful to Tennessee but jeopardize our national security. We owe more than a pink slip to the thousands of members of Tennessee's 278th Regimental Combat Team who served with quiet determination and bravery in Iraq," said Ford, who recently returned from his fourth trip to the region.
"Van Hilleary, Bob Corker and Ed Bryant should join me and Governor Bredesen in our efforts to protect our Tennessee National Guard. I urge them to sign my letter to President Bush."
In addition to the Pentagon's decision to close the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville, the Defense Department recently announced plans to cut six brigades of the Army National Guard. If implemented, the cuts will eliminate 4,000 Army National Guard positions in Tennessee.
Ford's national security record is unmatched among all the candidates for the U.S. Senate. He has supported every emergency appropriations bill to pay of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has brought home more than $5 trillion to the Military, Homeland Security, and Intelligence departments since 9/11 and introduced legislation to improve our efforts in the war on terror.
He has helped direct hundreds of millions of homeland security funding to Tennessee. Ford has even asked for more funds over and beyond what President Bush requested. Ford recently returned from his fourth visit to the troops in Iraq, a trip that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he assessed our efforts to eliminate the vestiges of the Taliban and capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
Ford has been a leader in standing up for the National Guard. He has helped secure tens of millions of dollars for the Tennessee Air National Guard and has worked to ensure that members of the Tennessee Guard have adequate armor, equipment and weapons systems. Ford and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich serve on the Pentagon's Transformation Advisory Board, where he is working with the Pentagon to transform the military to meet future national security threats.

-30-

this whole creepy domestic spying thing

Just had someone email me with kind of a creepy question re: the President's hard line on not disclosing anything about any aspect of the current domestic spying effort -- are any of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's conversations being monitored? What Karl Rove and the other West Wing political power brokers are deftly managing to do at this stage is to paint as terrorist-friendly anyone who questions the legality of the Administration's current domestic spying efforts. I am all for "going after terrorists," and "I love my country, " but I really wonder how many Tennesseans in principle believe that any President should be able to do whatever he/she wants, whenever he/she wants, to whomever he/she wants without any checks or balance from the courts, Congress or the public.

did anyone in the White House consider the irony of having President Bush...

...visit Tennessee - which is in the midst of a special state legislative session on ethics - when the latest poll (a new ABC news poll) shows that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling ethics in government.

small talk tip at a Presidential function...

Ok..I know I am supposed to keep up with current events, but I honestly lost track of the Bill Frist stock scandal (not to be confused with the other issue involving misuse of campaign funds) during the 2005 holiday season. It was all over the media in September and October, then radio silence. I wonder if the Justice Department and the SEC are still investigating U.S. Sen Bill Frist over the questionable HCA stock transactions. If you struggle like me with small talk at political events, maybe you could use this line of questioning to break the ice when you run into Frist in Nashville hanging with the President next week. If the answer from Frist is no - they found nothing and I have been exonerated - then you just made a new friend. If the answer is yes - they are still digging - then chances are you will not be included in the next Chamber invite list to a Presidential function. Either way, let me know what you find out.

if you run into Bush in Nashville next week...ask him..

...why he wants to keep secret the details of Jack Abramoff's (lobbyist who pled guilty to felony and conspiracy/fraud charges) mtgs at the White House, despite the fact that 76 percent of Americans want details fully disclosed (a new ABC news poll that shows bipartisan support of full disclosure)?
...if he truly believes our nation is safer now than it was five years ago?
...if he truly believes the Iraq war has made us stronger?
...if he truly believes we should feel more secure knowing the job his Administration did during Katrina?
...why he thinks Americans will trust him when he says to trust him (because his trusted advisors say he should trust them) that our civil liberties are not being violated by the domestic spying his Administration is engaged in?

(with apologies in part to EJ Dionne Jr., who raised some of these questions in his op-ed 1/24/06 in the Wash Post)

buzz on nashville chamber's role in bush visit

There was some email traffic yesterday afternoon among some of my Democratic biz friends about the Nashville Chamber's efforts to help the Bush Administration build a crowd for the President's day after State of Union speech visit to Nashville next week. "Pimping for the Prez" was one of the more stinging email subject lines that caught my eye.
While it seems innocent enough for the Chamber leadership to circulate invites they received from the White House to "their board and others," there are legitimate concerns that the Chamber - with bipartisan membership (my firm is a member) - should be sensitive to the facts that this is an election year (the prez ain't on the ballot, but there are contested congressional races, a Governor's race, and scores of local races on ballots from May through November in this city), and that this President has polarized the nation on issues that matter to biz leaders - from the runaway deficits (trade and domestic), skyrocketing energy costs, to foreign missteps that impact our economic standing in the world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

GOP Senate candidate Bryant Lashes Out At Fellow GOPers

this was put out by the Bryant campaign today:

Hilleary's Obsession With Fundraising Ironic

If being 'outspent' caused Van's historic loss to Bredesen, why should conservatives trust him to overcome Corker's millions … or Ford's?
January 25, 2006

BRENTWOOD, TN - In response to 2002 GOP gubernatorial nominee Van Hilleary's repeated efforts to make fundraising the dominant issue of the Senate campaign, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Ed Bryant today called on Hilleary to explain to conservatives why they should trust him to be able to overcome Bob Corker's or Harold Ford Jr.'s significant fundraising advantages after his admitted failure to overcome Phil Bredesen's fundraising advantage caused him to lose the 2002 race for Governor.
"Since Van Hilleary is trying so desperately to make fundraising the determining factor in this campaign, he ought to have no problem answering the following simple question," Bryant said. "If being 'outspent' was the reason Van lost to Phil Bredesen, as Van's tried hard to have us believe, why should conservatives believe for a second that Van will be able to overcome the millions of dollars Bob Corker's going to spend trying to hide his record of raising taxes and supporting abortion rights, or the millions Harold Ford Jr. will have thanks to liberals special interest groups across the country?
"Unlike Van and Bob Corker, I believe this race is about more than money. It's about electing the most qualified conservative who has both the ability to raise the money to win and a proven record of fighting for our conservative values that will inspire voters at the grassroots level across the state to turn out in mass and defeat Harold Ford Jr.
"We continue to raise the money it will take to win and I'm extremely proud to have received the unprecedented early endorsements of Tennessee Right to Life and Ben Cunningham, founder of Tennessee Tax Revolt, which demonstrates my ability to unite social and economic conservatives as the strongest candidate to defeat Harold Ford, Jr."
Documentation:
Since becoming the first Tennessee Republican to lose statewide since the landslide victories of 1994, Hilleary has repeatedly blamed his loss on being "outspent." (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 11/30/02)
In addition to the early support Bryant's received from Tennessee Right to Life and Tennessee Taxpayer Revolt’s Ben Cunningham, Bryant's been endorsed by the Home School Legal Defense Association, U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Ensign (R-NV) and Trent Lott (R-MS), victims rights advocate Rebecca Easley; former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), the Concerned Women for America's political affiliate; and grassroots support from twelve Republican leaders in the Tennessee State House, the Madison Project, and Van's former congressional district director Janice Bowling.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

a sizeable number of Iraq/Afghanistan war vets running in 2006

Check out the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Atlantic magazine. Story on page 40 about the latest crop of military vets running for Congress in 2006. Of 14 vets running, nearly all are running as Democrats. Wonder what they know about their commander-in-chief that the rest of us should know?

Tennessee US Senate race worth watching

Tennessee US Senate race should be on your radar screen of campaigns to watch.

NEW YORK TIMES (1/1/06) calls Tennessee "a US Senate race Republicans have reason to worry about."
COOK REPORT (12/02/05) ranks Tennessee US Senate race as one of only 4 "toss up" races in the nation.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ed "Pinocchio" Bryant's Nose Grows Again

One of the three GOP US Senate candidate amigos - Ed Bryant - lied in a Kingsport Times story (1/21/06) about Harold Ford Jr.'s position on the war in Iraq. Bryant, clearly not concerned about letting the truth get in the way of a soundbite, said in the Times that Ford supports a public timetable for withdrawing US troops from the gulf region. The fact is that Ford - who has actually spent time meeting with troops and with leaders from the Middle East countries - has firmly held to the position that US troops cannot leave the area until those countries are poised to adequately govern and defend themselves. Ford has never - repeat never - called for a public timetable on troop withdrawl from Iraq. Ford penned an op-ed that ran in yesterday's Washington Post restating his position after returning from his most recent trip to the Gulf region. Bryant's habit of telling lies about Ford should leave voters wondering to what lengths this man will go to grab a headline.

Ford Firm On The Principle Of Keeping US Troops In Iraq/Afganistan Until Those Countries Can Govern/Defend Themselves - The Washington Post

Keeping The Progress Going
Afghanistan May Need More of Our Help Than Iraq
By Harold Ford Jr.

Saturday, January 21, 2006; Page A19

I returned recently from a six-day trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan inspired by the progress that has been made in the region. Afghans and Iraqis yearn for a new beginning predicated on freedom. In both places, the keys to a new future are identical: better security and improved services. Each country is at a different point in its development on both of these fronts, and each is at an important crossroads.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Afghanistan stands at a more difficult and precarious junction than does Iraq. With a smaller U.S. military presence, Afghanistan is bracing for a larger NATO role in administering services and policing provinces and borders. This transition comes just as the insurgency in Afghanistan is gaining momentum.

As former ambassador Paul Bremer asserts in his new book about his time in Iraq, it's best to destroy an insurgency in its infancy, before it gains strength. We should not help give birth and momentum to an Afghan insurgency by repeating the mistakes we made in Iraq. Instead, we should work with our allies to kill the fledgling insurgency in Afghanistan now, when we have the chance.

In addition, we need to continue to provide technical resource support, and we should begin training Afghan police leadership in U.S. and European police academies. We also need to redouble our efforts to help Afghan farmers make the transition from opium poppies to other crops, and to move the Afghan economy into the mainstream. The opium trade is financing the final vestiges of the Taliban and steadily entrenching an underground and criminal economy in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, the challenges are different, though no less significant. With the election over, Iraq must form a coalition government sooner rather than later to sustain the Iraqi people's commitment to the political process and the American people's commitment to continuing the present large-scale effort.

Shifting responsibility for rebuilding to provincial reconstruction teams is a good start. It should accelerate the infrastructure work already underway and place more responsibility in the hands of the Iraqis for building and maintaining new construction and essential services. Here are a few additional recommendations for President Bush:

· The president should end the domestic spying program. It has severely damaged his standing and credibility with the American people. If the president wants the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to work faster and produce speedier resolutions to serious national security questions, we can introduce legislation in Congress to make adjustments. Frankly, I am still unsure how his hands were tied under FISA, but I'm willing to work with him to ensure that he has the authority he needs to keep the country safe. At the end of the day, we are a nation of laws. We cannot be in the business of exporting democracy and liberty if we cannot protect it at home.

· We cannot leave Iraq and Afghanistan until they have adequate systems in place to govern and defend themselves. There is conflicting rhetoric coming out of the administration on this front. One day we hear that a pullout or drawdown of U.S. troops is imminent. The next we hear the opposite. I want the troops home as much as anyone, but having to send another generation to that region to fight 10 or more years from now because we left too early would be a worse outcome than the situation we now face. We need to do this right the first time.

· The president should continue working with our allies and repairing our relationships around the globe. The United States alone cannot fight and win a global war on terrorism. We need the help of every freedom-loving nation.

· The president should make a major commitment to building a new United Nations, perhaps by involving former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in the effort. As much disdain as the current administration has for the United Nations, it can play an important role in peacekeeping, negotiating political agreements and providing humanitarian relief.

· Last, and most important, energy reform should be our top legislative priority this year. Until we reduce our dependence on oil, our national security will continue to be disproportionately and dangerously tied to our need for supplies of it from the Middle East.

Just as Afghans and Iraqis are at a crossroads, so are we. We can adhere to policies that have led to some disturbing results, or we can learn from our mistakes and correct our course. I left Afghanistan and Iraq with a firm belief that we can still help each nation move toward stability. But we must have the clarity of mind and strength of character to acknowledge our shortcomings and make changes where necessary. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

The writer is a Democratic representative from Tennessee.

flashback to the "Hokey Pokey"

"Put your right foot...take your right foot out..."

this from www.go4truth.com
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke released this statement following State Representative Beth Halteman-Harwell’s announcement that she may, in fact, enter the governor’s race after all: “First she’s in. Then she’s out. Then she’s back in again. It’s a bizarre way to run a campaign. If this zig-zag strategy is the kind of so-called ‘decisive leadership’ the State Republican Party is offering, then Governor Bredesen is a shoe-in for re-election.
“Unfortunately, this approach is consistent with Representative Halteman-Harwell’s record of saying one thing, then doing another. She claims she’s tough on ethics, but the State Republican Party under her leadership misappropriated more than $300,000 in political contributions. She claims she wants more jobs for Tennesseans, but her own toy company exports jobs to China. She claims she’s pro-TennCare, but she introduced legislation that would have cut it up into pieces. Does Beth Halteman-Harwell have any real convictions? How on Earth will Tennesseans know where she really stands?”

is this the same Bob Corker who attacked Harold Ford Jr. for raising $ from out of state???

This from edbryantforsenate.com

Bob Corker Triple Talk
Plans To Skip Memphis Debate To Host D.C. Fundraiser Exposed
January 20, 2006
BRENTWOOD, TN - After helping select the date of the first Senate debate, Bob Corker’s plan to skip that debate in Memphis to hold a Washington D.C. fundraiser was exposed. Previously, Corker announced he would be unable to attend the debate because he was attending the State of the Union address. “After Bob Corker helped set up the first U.S. Senate debate, it was
disappointing to learn that he had chosen to skip the debate in favor of going to Washington to watch the State of the Union address,” stated former federal prosecutor and four-term congressman Ed Bryant. “However, it is disheartening to learn that the real reason Bob Corker has chosen not to participate in the debate is because he is hosting a fundraiser in Washington. “I, on the other hand, am looking forward to the first debate in Memphis and I am sure all Tennesseans are hoping Mayor Corker will reconsider his priorities and participate in this first Senate debate and view the State of the Union address with me and other Tennesseans immediately following the debate.”

Documentation:
Corker Called Bryant Proposal Of Six Televised Debates A “Great Starting Point.” Corker: “Debates will give voters the opportunity to hear directly from us on where we both agree and disagree. That’s something the voters deserve …” (Corker Press Release, 12/20/05)
Corker Helped Select The Date Of The Debate. “The Main Street Journal was in contact with the Corker campaign beginning in October and consulted with each of the campaigns in setting the date. … At no point during the planning of the debate did the Corker campaign, or any other campaign, suggest that the date be changed in order to avoid being set for the same day as the President’s State of the Union address.” (Main Street Journal Website, 1/16/06)
Corker Announced He Was Going To State Of The Union Address Instead Of Main Street Journal Debate In Memphis. (Tennessee Journal, 1/13/06)
Newly Discovered Invitation Shows Corker Plans To Host Washington, D.C. Fundraiser Instead Of Participating In Memphis Debate. “[M]eet Tennessee Senate Candidate Bob Corker Wednesday, February 1 * … Washington, D.C.” (Corker Fundraising Email, 1/19/06)

Friday, January 20, 2006

zinging zogby

Clint Brewer/The Lebanon Democrat 1-20-06
Zinging Zogby
Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s U.S. Senate campaign claims to have had a little fun with the latest Zogby/Wall Street Journal interactive poll.
The new fangled Zogby polls are taken over the Internet rather than through traditional, telephone polling methods. The polls also allow participants to self-register.
Ford pollster Peter Brodnitz with the Benenson Strategy Group said at least two members of the Ford campaign registered for the latest Tennessee Senate race poll under wildly false names, including “Bob Corker” who they identified as a member of the Green Party.
Corker, of course, is the well-heeled fund-raising frontrunner in the Senate race for the GOP.
“The problem with the Zogby poll is there is no quality control,” Brodnitz insisted. “A couple of guys on the campaign made up people and joined the panel.”
The latest Zogby interactive poll on the Tennessee Senate race showed Ford trailing all three Republicans in the field.

real letters from real people

Letters to the editor, Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/20/06

Voting adults can make their decisions

Greg Johnson's column criticizing Harold Ford Jr. sounded just like the childish whispers heard on the playground: "Did you hear that so-and-so's mother/cousin/uncle is divorced/bankrupt/in jail?"

These juicy tidbits may succeed in preventing some children from becoming prom king, but surely they will not affect the success of a well-qualified candidate elected by adults.

Of course, the crimes listed later in the column were actually committed by Harold Ford Jr. himself. For one, he dared to leave the state of Tennessee for his education. Horrors! One of his degrees is even from (gasp!) an Ivy League school.

Obviously, this should disqualify him from continuing to serve his home state. His other crimes, such as representing a scary urban district (Memphis), associating with the likes of Bill Clinton in New York City and being a Democrat may offend some, but thankfully, most Tennesseans are more mature and open-minded than Johnson.

I think they can handle it.

Linden Craig
Knoxville


Political debate should focus on the issues

The trouble with imaginary conversations is they never happened, so I hope Greg Johnson will have a real conversation with U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. during the campaign.

Johnson, when you have a real conversation with the congressman, ask him about his family, ask him how he relates to rural and suburban voters, ask him how he connects with average Tennesseans, but goodness gracious, let's debate about real issues and not some figment of your imagination.

Bill Young
Knoxville

Thursday, January 19, 2006

zogby releases another of its meaningless interactive polls

Zogby Interactive today released results of one of its polls on the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. Zogby's contention is that Harold Ford Jr. runs slightly behind the 3 GOP candidates in horse race matchups. Here's the rub - anyone, and I mean anyone, can log onto Zogby Interactive and register as a fantasy voter and log a preference. For example, just for kicks I logged on to Zogby today and registered as Bob Corker, listed my party affiliation as Green, and said I was an Arab American Jew. I had another middle age white Democratic male friend register and vote as an African American Republican woman. Why bother going through this exercise? To prove a point. Zogby is not scientific. In fact, it reminds me more of those video games like Final Fantasy or Warcraft where you can become a fantasy character and play the game. So if you hear about this poll - just remember that it ain't for real folks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

ford on msnbc

I caught Harold Ford Jr.'s interview on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Ford just got back from Iraqi and Afganistan and offered up some insightful points - we may be facing growth in insurgents in Afganistan; that we don't need to withdraw our troops prematurely or our kids and grandkids may have to go back years from now to finish the job; and that we desparately need an oil plan in this country. He also talked the threat from Iran and how diplomacy needs to be tried first before anything else. All straight forward, common sense views.

never seen anything like it in our Party

This past weekend I attended a gathering of several hundred hard core Democratic activists in Nashville. The focus was to provide some fundamental hands on training of Democratic party chairs and activists to support Governor Bredesen's re-election effort. The spill over effect was the beginning of an intense mobilization of troops and resources to support Democrats running anywhere in the state - from the US Senate, to the Governor, to state legislative candidates. I've been around the Democratic political barn for many years, and I frankly have never seen the level of focus, excitement and energy in the activists rank that I saw at work this weekend. County chairs got clear marching orders on what all needs to be done and when it needs doing to get the vote out in 06. That in and of itself is a major step for the state Democratic party. Bredesen's team deserves the credit for getting the troops here, and for arming them with great practical tools to use back home in their respecive communities. It's early in the season, but the state Democratic party is off to a strong start.

Harwell out

Heard the reports yesterday about State Rep. Beth Harwell's decision not to run for Governor against incumbent Phil Bredesen. Smart move on Beth's part. I know the state GOP tried hard to convince her to run - even to the point of trying to identify a possible campaign team to run her operation should she decide to run (several folks they asked to help turned Bob Davis down flat). When you have the incumbent with an approval rating north of 60%, her battle would have been a waste of her time and others money. So where does the state GOP go from here? It's anyone's guess. The state GOP continues to have to fight an internal battle between the right wing factions and the more moderate conservatives for control of the ballot and the message this election season. In that environment, unifying the GOP to get behind anyone on any ballot race in this state in 06 will be tough to do.