Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Frist Screws Bryant, Hilleary and Corker Over The Dubai Deal

I wonder if there is a single Tennessee reporter who will bother to ask any/all of the three GOP Tennessee candidates vying for Bill Frist U.S. Senate seat what the hell they plan to do now that Frist has left them seriously exposed politically on the Dubai deal?
The gang of three - Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, Bob Corker - all gleefully found political cover last week when Frist spoke out against President Bush's ridiculous scheme to turn over all security-related functions at six major U.S. seaports to an Arab firm called Dubai Ports World. Frist was praised by leaders of both parties when he announced last week that he would oppose Bush and introduce legislation to halt the turnover of the port operations to DPW. The President responded by threatening to veto any legislation Frist or any other member of Congress introduced to stop the plan.
Bryant, Hilleary and Corker were quick to issue statements that they stood with Frist, the man they intend to replace and whose support they are courting in their respective election bids, in opposition to the Dubai deal. It seeemed like the perfect political cover for all three candidates.
But on Tuesday (2/28/06) Frist announced that he was changing his position and would instead now stand with President Bush in support of the Dubai deal. In what has become his hallmark, Frist once again demonstrated that he has evolved into one of the most spineless political weasels ever to hold a leadership position in Congress.
Closer to home, Frist's 180 has left the three GOP Senate candidates exposed, standing now in opposition to both Frist and President Bush.
I suspect all three Senate candidates will try to lay low on the issue, hoping it blows over and they are not forced to take a stand on further congressional actions or, God forbid, be forced to reaffirm their position in the wake of Frist's actions.
One can only hope that a reporter will see to it that all candidates running for federal office - these three and anyone else on the ballot this year - in our state be forced to clarify where they stand on this serious national security issue.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A new GOP political game - "Follow the loser"

Bob Corker, currently under fire within his own GOP ranks, is playing a new political game this election cycle. It's called "follow the loser."
The Knoxville News Sentinel on Sunday (2/27/06) reminded readers of a common issue that has spelled defeat for other high profile statewide GOP candidates - at first refuse to release federal tax returns, and then when you do, show that you did not pay taxes.
Bill Brock did so in 1976, handing democrat Jim Sasser a winning issue.
Winfield Dunn did so in 1986, handing democrat Ned McWherter a winning issue.
Corker is following suit.
Needless to say, it appears that state GOP leaders see the writing on the wall for Corker and for their party if Corker wins the nomination in August. While Democrats I know smell blood in anticipation of a Corker candidacy in November.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Coop's In The House!

I'll get the disclaimers out of the way on the front end of this post.
I'm an unabashed fan of 5th district Congressman Jim Cooper.
I helped him in 1994 when he was the only Democrat who had the balls to run hard for Al Gore's old Senate seat against the GOP tsunami that washed the blue out of most of Tennessee, and I helped him again when he ran for Congress and won in 2002.
That said, what's up with all this nonsense I hear from some folks (you know who you are...don't make me call you out) that "Coop" may not run again for his 5th district congressional seat?
I frankly believe I could stuff all of you Cooper re-elect nansayers into my Mini Cooper and still have room for a great dane, my dirty laundry and a family bucket of KFC in the backseat, so I know the talk is not widespread. But like anything in politics - it's not how many are talking about a rumor or how many actually believe it, it's all about whose spreading it.
So I ask, humbly and respectfully, shut the hell up!
Coop's got his game on.
Our Congressman ain't going nowhere.
I've heard from well placed sources (and seen for myself) that he is running like there is no tomorrow - filling his calendar with appearances all over the district, and bouncing from one briefing and hearing in D.C. to the other like it's finals week. I contend that because his intellect is greater than the collective intellect of all media in this entire freaking city, he doesn't get the headlines he deserves for all he does day in and day out as a Congressman - here or in D.C. Heck, if I were a reporter trying to cover Cooper I wouldn't dare write anything down for fear he would see through my shallow understanding of policy issues. So I can sort of understand how ridiculous talk about Cooper not running again might take some root when mainstream media don't cover him regularly.
The cool thing about Cooper though (for those new reporters who have not followed him), is that he doesn't wear his ubber-intellect on his sleeve. He's got a dry wit and a firm handshake, and approaches folks with Gomer Pyle-like finesse...Cooper says "Hey."
That's why I suspect he will not have any real opposition for his seat when the filing deadline rolls around in April. People of all political persuasions like Cooper. He's got compassion wrapped in smarts.
So, to those who may covet the 5th district seat or who may want to pretend they are in the know, give it up.
Coop's in the House!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

geez...the suspense is killing me

According to "Mr. Ed" Bryant's website we are now on Day 7 of the Bob Corker Fraud Watch.
So God can create the universe, populate it with untold numbers of species, all in 7 days, but Bob Corker can't manage to cough up even a one line response to the questions being raised about fraud during his tenure at Mayor of Chattanooga.
Can you say rapid response?
To help move things along I suggest Corker consider the following responses:
1)"I did not commit fraud with these people."
2)"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but allegations of fraud, mismanagment of tax dollars, accounting irregularities and theft will never hurt me."
3)"Have some biscuits, you'll feel better."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Two ways to hit the jackpot - buy a Tennessee lottery ticket or marry into Marsha Blackburn's family

A recent article in the Commercial Appeal (2/19/06) reported that GOP U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's congressional campaign committee and a PAC she controls has given her son-in-law - a one-time pharmaceutical lobbyist who runs his business from his Nashville home - more than $123,000 over the past couple of years.
Blackburn holds the distinction of being the only member of Congress from Tennessee who has a family member on a campaign payroll. While it's not illegal, the issue of elected officials using campaign contributions to line the pockets of family members has raised eyebrows and has been the subject of intense scrutiny in other states.
No offense Marsha, but I'd rather try my luck at Powerball.

CORKER FRAUD WATCH - Shooting a GOP's candidate's campaign theme all to hell

check out http://edbryantforsenate.com/corkerfraudday6.htm
It appears that fellow GOP senate candidate "Mr. Ed" Bryant has begun a Bob Corker Fraud Watch on his website. The focus of this watch centers around allegations of fraud on Corker's watch when he served as Mayor of Chattanooga. Current Mayor Ron Littlefield - aka "thorn in Bob the Builder's ass" - says he warned Corker of "lavish spending" when Littlefield served as a city councilman during Corker's administration.
Outcome from all this fuss - Corker's claims as a fiscal conservative and all around good steward of tax dollars have just been shot to hell.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Anything To Win"

I've had Bob Corker on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it's because recently he's been so focused on making wild accusations about everyone else on the U.S. Senate ballot in a feeble attempt to grab some much needed Tennessee headlines. All this while claiming to be civil and ethical.
In an effort to try to understand Corker better, I offer this insight:
Bob Corker and Tonya Harding have a lot in common.
Consider the facts:
- in 1994, both Bob and Tonya tried to win a crown (Bob went for the U.S. Senate seat; Tonya competed to be the US figure skating champ).
- that same year, both were disgraced in public (Bob was called "pond scum" by fellow Republicans for his vicious and unsuccessful attacks on Bill Frist; Tonya was banned from skating for hiring a hit man to whack opponent Nancy Kerrigan).
- in 2006, Bob is running again for the U.S. Senate, once again recklessly attacking everyone in the race - throwing truth to the wind - while claiming to be Mr. Nice Guy.
- this year Tonya, who has resurfaced as a professional boxer, is featured in a Game Show Network series called "Anything To Win" that showcases her antics and her lust for fame at any cost.
See a pattern?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Corker and Taxes - "Raise 'Em But Don't Pay 'Em"

It's amazing what you can find when you Google someone. Take GOP Senate wannabe Bob Corker. Google Bob The Builder and here's some of what you will find:

- when Corker was elected Mayor of Chattanooga he raised property taxes (Chattanooga News Free Press 8/22/01)
- that same year (the year he raised taxes and cut many positions in city government) he also raised his own salary as Mayor from $118,796 to $122,360 (Chattanooga News Free Press 7/17/01)

and then there's my personal favorite...
- successful builder/developer/millionaire biz man Bob Corker did not pay ANY taxes in 1985 and 1989 because he reported NO taxable income (Commercial Appeal 6/23/04)...hmm...

dude ought to have his own testimonial infomercial..."Hi, my name is Bob Corker, and thanks to clever accounting I'm a millionaire, who became a Mayor, who gave myself a pay raise while raising other people's taxes, but managed not to pay my own. And you can too. Call now for my BE A MILLIONAIRE BUT PAY NO TAXES accounting kit, which comes with a complimentary I RAISED TAXES BUT DIDN'T PAY 'EM bumper sticker!"

Peyton Manning, Harriet Miers, Sammy Hagar - A Tale of 3 Donors.

What does a former Vol/NFL quarterback, a failed Supreme Court nominee, and an aging rocker have in common? All were $2k contributors to Bush-Cheney in 04. For more interesting $ tracks check out www.newsmeat.com. Warning - the site is addictive!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bob Corker Meet Groucho Marx

Groucho once said - "These are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
According to this week's edition of the Memphis Flyer, GOP Senate candidate Bob Corker sent a letter to U.S. Senator Barack Obama, who will be in Memphis next week to campaign for Harold Ford, Jr. The letter suggested that Obama should take note of Ford's "record on the issue of ethics."
Obama and Ford are friends, and in their respective roles as public servants they share the same values of fiscal responsibility, a compassion for those in need, a strong belief in protecting national interests here and abroad, and have been vocal advocates for more openess and honesty in government.
Corker, reeling this week from charges of fraud by members of his former mayoral administration in Chattanooga (see Chattanooga News Free Press 2/16/06; bryantforsenate.com), sent the letter in an attempt to shift attention away from questions being raised about his own record and brand of ethics.
Corker's letter writing stunt has only served to reveal a darker side to the candidate that betrays his manufactured political persona. Corker says on the stump and would have you believe that he is all about restoring civility and bipartisanship to Congress. That he wants to bring a fresh, honest perspective to government.
But Corker's stump message and his actions as a candidate are in conflict with one another.
This Corker action was nothing more than a cheap, partisan publicity stunt meant to shift attention away from his own foils. Instead of directly answering the fraud charges, Corker has made himself "unavailable for comment" on the stories coming out of Chattanooga, yet he has found time to fire off a letter to a friend of Ford's making baseless accusations.
There is a pattern beginning to emerge.
Remember Corker's earlier attack on Ford for raising $ from out of state? Corker, we soon learned after the attacks, skipped a Tennessee GOP forum to attend a $ event hosted by DC lobbyists, and has hired DC lobbyists to help him run his campaign.
Bottom line - if you don't like Corker's principles, don't fret. Over the course of this campaign cycle, as we have seen so far, they are likely to change again, and again, and again...and again...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

dick cheney drank beer but didn't inhale

Fox News is reporting this afternoon that Veep Dick Cheney admitted to drinking a beer hours before he shot a Texas attorney on a weekend hunting trip.
I'm certain the White House spin will be that while he drank beer, he didn't inhale.

Mr. Ed - Compulsive or Habitual?

A little help here.

I am seriously trying to decide if "Mr. Ed" Bryant (one of the three GOP U.S. Senate candidates running) is a "compulsive" or "habitual" liar.

According to dictionary.com, someone who is "habitual" is defined as one who practices or acts "in some manner by force of custom, habit or addiction," while it defines someone who is "compulsive" as "a person with behavior patterns governed by a compulsion."

Here's why I ask.
Seems Mr. Ed has once again attacked Harold Ford Jr. (the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate) for being a tax and spend liberal. He did so by using his chief blog flackie at Blogging for Bryant to make the charge.
I realize that being a GOP candidate for any job (from dogcatcher to President) requires one to follow the standard attack formula against one's Democratic opponent by charging that if they are not a Republican they must be a tax and spend liberal.
Problem in this instance is that Ford is actually (let the record show) more of a fiscal conservative that Mr. Ed.

Here are some facts to refute Mr. Ed's charges:
- Ford have never (never ever as in never, ever, ever) voted for a budget that was not balanced.
- Ford has routinely called on a constitutional amendment that would mandate that our federal budget be balanced.
- Ford has been opposed to efforts to increase the debt limit by nearly $2.6 trillion.
There is more, but you get the picture.

Now, let's look at Mr. Ed's voting record while he served in Congress:
- Mr. Ed voted in favor (as in "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it") of $1.1 trillion in federal debt limit increases.
- when Mr. Ed served federal spending increased 43 percent and the national debt grew by $1.5 trillion (just three letters short of a gazillion), or what amounted to $5,8000 in extra federal debt for every Tennessean.
There is more here too, but again, you get the picture.

So all that to say this.

Mr. Ed should be ashamed of himself. Tennesseans are sick and tired of people who run for office time and again (yep, for those of you new to Tennessee politics - Mr. Ed has run and lost in previous efforts to be a U.S. Senator) and lie about their opponent's records.

Tennesseans expect more, and we will not settle for less.

Mr. Ed, please seek the help of a therapist and resolve your "compulsive" or "habitual" lying issues soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Karyn and Bill Frist - "Oh The Places You'll Go"

A friend just shared me with an e-card she received from Karyn Frist, wife of US Sen. Bill Frist, who invited her to send Bill a birthday greeting. Seems Bill's birthday is Feb. 22 and Karyn believes he needs a diversion from reading the liberal Washington Post news headlines that day (I'm not making this up folks!).
The e-card went on to say that she (Karyn) is proud of Bill for supporting the President's war in Iraq, and for putting right wingers on the US Supreme Court. She also shared that his favorite cake is carmel. Pretty much the standard birthday message you or I would send to or about a loved one.
The catch in sending this birthday greeting is that it really isn't a birthday greeting to Bill. What happens once you click that greeting button on the e-card is that your info - email address and any other info you provided in the message - is captured by VOLPAC, Frist's political fundraising operation. Upon sending the message, the sender quickly received email requests for $ from VOLPAC.
You may recall that Frist's political fundraising dealings and operations have been the target of a Federal Election Commission probe.
So what about this message from Karyn Frist? My guess is that since the good Senator's favorability ratings are in the toilet and his name has become synonomous with questionable judgement, the powers behind VOLPAC decided that this go around they would get more mileage and find more suckers using Frist's wife as the lead shleper.
I wonder how Karyn Frist feels about all this? Did she knowingly and willingly allow her good name to be used in a fundraising ploy disguised as an innocent birthday greeting for her husband? It's a far cry from lending one's name to the list of Swan Ball organizers.
But I suppose when it comes to the Frists these days - as another famous Doctor once wrote - "Oh, the places you'll go."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bredesen Unplugged

Last Thursday evening I joined some dear friends at a dinner hosted by the Tennessee Press Association. The main speaker was Governor Phil Bredesen.
For disclaimer purposes - I used to work in Bredesen's administration in the economic development department. I was not appointed by Bredesen directly, although I was asked to serve and my appointment was blessed by members of his inner circle. As long time Bredesen supporters will attest, I have always had great respect for him, but I never was regarded as a devoted follower or avid supporter. When he ran before, I always found myself deep in some other Democrat's race, with little time or energy to do much else.
In my two year tenure at the state I got to see the Governor at work - in public and private settings. For the most part my impression has been that what you see is what you get. He is much the same in front of cameras as he is behind the scenes - straightforward, almost deadpan in his delivery, and always, always incredibly focused.
Thursday night I saw another dimension to our Governor - sort of a Bredesen unplugged, discussing issues and ideas in an almost folksy manner - connecting in a light-hearted way with a crowd of cynical news publishers and editors.
Over the years I've heard others close to the Governor talk about seeing him share an intimate reflection as he connects some aspect of his job or an issue to something that has personal meaning in his life. Since I had never witnessed that side of him, I largely dismissed it as political spin.
During his address Thursday, the Governor, in recapping his recent State Of The State recounted a story - in a seemingly unscripted manner - that illustrated how he felt about our state's community colleges. He couched it as a moment of awakening to the value and benefits of a two-year college education.
The story was about his niece, who at age 21, found herself with no real education, unmarried, with a child, working long hours as a waitess. As he put it so succintly - she had little hope for a better life. He went on to tell how she decided to turn things around by enrolling in a local community college, which opened her eyes and opened doors to further education. Today, he concluded proudly, she is a teacher and is now opening young eyes to great promise.
The story in and of itself was not especially gripping. What was moving about it was seeing and hearing how one woman's road to discovery had served to be such an inspiration to an intellectual like Bredesen. Had you been seated in that room Thursday night, there would be no doubt in your mind as well that his niece's experience had a measurable impact on his way of thinking.
At a time when it seems so many of our elected officials let political winds guide their ships, or let independent thought be clouded by volumes of statistics or studies, it is refreshing to see a Governor who will look no further than the loved ones in his life for direction.
As a sometime shoveler of political bullshit, I can smell it a mile away.
But try as my cynical mind may, all I see in this Governor is sincerity and a devotion in life to do right for others.

"Be Verwee, Verwee Quiet...I'm Hunting Senior Citizens"

Sorry. I had to post something on this bizarre Dick Cheney shoots a 78-year old lawyer story on a hunting trip. Too much already written in the blogsphere on this - but here's one more question that begs to be asked:
"Was he aiming for the dude, or does his aim just suck that bad?"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bryant slams Corker for cozying up to DC lobbyists; then declares his candidacy for a Senate judiciary committee assignment

GOP Senate candidate Ed Bryant, in a candidate's forum hosted by the Tennessee Press Association today, body slammed fellow republican candidate Bob Corker for attacking his GOP primary opponents - Bryant and Hilleary - for either being a lobbyist or being Washington beltway insiders. In a closing remark aimed directly at Corker - who was sitting inches away from him on the forum platform - Bryant attacked Corker for being a hypocrite. Byrant noted that Corker was in Washington recently to court DC lobbyists, that he attended an event hosted for him by DC lobbyists, and then alluded to the fact that Corker has also hired lobbyists to help him in his race.

Also during today's forum Bryant declared on at least two occasions that he looked forward to serving on the US senate judiciary committee. What was not pointed out by anyone at the forum was the fact that while it's all well and good to dream about a plum committee assignment, even if Bryant were to win his primary and get elected in November, the odds of him getting the assignment (much less decent office or a parking space) that he wants as a freshman senator realistically fall somewhere between none and no way.

three amigo GOP US Senate candidates refuse to blame drug companies and prescription drugs for contributing to rising health care costs

Also worth noting about today's US Senate candidate's forum hosted by TPA, the three GOP candidates refused to admit that pharmaceutical companies are in part to blame for rising health care costs for American seniors and families.
In a question about what should be done to curb health care costs posed by TPA forum moderator Clint Brewer, the 3 GOP candidates identified tort reform and the expansion of health savings accounts as the answers to America's health care access and cost crisis. Each of the candidates were given multiple opportunities during the forum to address the pharmaceuticals role in health care, but all three went out of their way to avoid addressing drug costs.
In contrast, both Democratic candidates - Harold Ford and Rosalind Kurita - were quick to note that drug prices were out of control. Ford added that there was a need to build more clinics that offer less expensive health care allocation solutions to patients and the medically needy. Ford said drug costs and emergency room care were the two major factors behind rising health care costs.

will Frist's support of Tennessee GOP senate nominee further corrupt the office he holds and they seek?

In the early 1990s, I had the pleasure of engaging in a series of private sessions with citizen Bill Frist as he considered the prospects of one day running for public office. His questions in those days seemed sincere and genuine. At the time he expressed his desire to make a difference for a greater good. He studied and analyzed Democratic and Republican principles - consulting with distinguished Tennessee statesmen from both parties (Ned McWherter, Howard Baker, etc), and wrestling with what political path to travel down.
When he ran for the US Senate in 1994, he ran as a Republican against longtime Democratic Senator Jim Sasser. Frist's theme in that race was all about changing the way Washington conducted the people's business. He positioned himself as a reformist, decrying business as usual on Capitol Hill. His strategy worked and he rode into office on the GOP political tsnami that hit Tennessee that year.
But soon after Frist took office he began to change his tune about changing the way things get done in DC.
Over my 25 plus years around politics I have seen it happen time and again. Unripe political newbies sometimes go bad when they ripen into full-fledged politicians - feeding off the power surge of Congressional privilege.
This morning I read the Gannett News Service story about Frist's latest legislative ploy to slip language into a Defense Department appropriations bill that protects pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits. The bill had already gone through a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee vetting. Frist waited until after this vetting to slip in the protective language. It comes as no surprise, Gannett reports, that Frist has also been the receipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
No doubt Frist and his political machine - his PAC, and other GOP political resources he controls - will come to the aid of the Republican nominee - Hilleary, Corker or Byrant - who will be seeking to fill his Senate seat this election cycle.
I hope that Tennesseans who once had faith in the mission of citizen Frist will think long and hard about what has become of the man they once supported, and I hope that they will also consider what his endorsement and support of a prospective Republican successor might do to further corrupt the dignity of the office he has held and that they seek.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tennessee GOP chair Davis' attack tarnishes a Chattanooga faith-based ministry

In a shameful display of ugly partisanship that is the hallmark of his tenure as State GOP Party chair, Bob Davis viciously attacked US Senate candidate Harold Ford for - now get this - praising the local efforts of Chattanooga's Inner-City Ministries.
As a board member of a similar not for profit in Nashville - Faith Family Medical Clinic - I applaud Ford for helping to raise community awareness of this organization and its ministry to serve families and children.
Davis, who should embrace the endorsement by any elected official willing to speak out for the very kinds of faith-based services that his President openly supports, instead attacked Ford for making the effort.
We are in a political season, but I sincerely doubt the more spritually minded members of his own Party would see merit in Davis' headline-grabbing remarks launched at the expense of a valued local ministry.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

this just in - Corker confirms he's been smoking the "Dutch cleanser"

US Senate Repubican hopeful Bob Corker has confirmed that the candidate has been inhaling the "Dutch cleanser" referenced in an earlier blog posting.
Seems during a visit yesterday to Murfreesboro's city cafe, according to today's Daily News Journal, a patron quizzed Corker about where he stood on the issue of Bush's domestic spying program. Corker's answer - do it for national security sake, but if there are questions about it, then we should ask the questions.
Say what???
Toke on brother Corker.

wonder if Tennessee's three GOP US Senate amigos will "smoke Dutch cleanser"

Following the news coverage of yesterday's US Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing into President Bush's domestic spying program, it occured to me that - to my knowledge - none of the Republican Senate candidates running for Bill Frist's seat have publicly declared where they stand on the issue of giving the President total free rein to spy on anyone, anytime, anywhere, without any prior consent by Congress or through the courts.
This issue creates a tough internal GOP party balancing act for Bryant, Hilleary and Corker - are they fighting terrorists or are they permiting government intrusion into the private affairs of American citizens.
Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Spector (R-Pa) got testy with Bush's Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, who argued that the Constitution gives President Bush undisputable powers to conduct warrantless spying despite a statute aimed at requiring the Presidnet to seek court approval.
Spector, according to today's Washington Post, said of Gonzales - "he's smoking Dutch Cleanser."

Monday, February 06, 2006

campaign cupboard looks mighty empty for GOP blogger/state legislator

I just checked my wallet and pockets and discovered I have $27.43 in my possession, which is 43 cents more than GOP blogger/state representative Stacey Campfield (18th house district) has in his entire campaign bank account. According to a story in today's Knoxville News Sentinel, Campfield reported having a whopping $27 in his campaign kitty, compared to more than $10,000 his GOP primary opponent has in the bank. It appears, according to the KNS, that Campfield's largest contribution has come from a former top aide to Gov. Don "state income tax" Sundquist.
To top it off, a Democrat in the race, Schree Pettigrew, who is running for office for the first time, has more than $7,000 in the bank.
Campfield might soon have to consider banner ads on his blog to fund his race.

a hearty Tennessee welcome to lone conservative for corker

I applaud the individual who has chosen to step out as the blogger for conservatives for corker. From what I read you may be the only one brave enough to declare that bob corker is a true conservative, and I suspect if you hold a rally you may be the only poor soul in the ballroom.
See you in the blogsphere!

west tennessee state senator sticks it to voters

Out of one side of his mouth state senator Don McLeary (district 27) recently declared that "the ballot box is the backbone of our democratic society" (AP, 2/03/06), while at the same time Friday announcing to his constituents that he has decided to switch political parties, morphing from a Democrat into a Republican.
Let me see if I can follow political cross-dresser McLeary's logic --
- he runs as a Democrat in 2002
- he accepts Democratic $ and support
- he gets elected with help of the Democratic party
- he gets voted into office by Democratic and Independent voters who believed in what he stood for
- he gets some heat from Republicans in his district
- he decides to switch parties right after making a righteous claim that their votes really mattered before at the ballot box
I don't know Don McLeary, but it is clear to me that voters in his district have every right to question his integrity this election cycle.

Friday, February 03, 2006

how many fingers am I holding up?

The Associated Press ran a piece yesterday pointing out that the GOP's primary vote counter in the US House of Representatives - Missouri Republican Roy Blunt - miscounted votes in his own failed attempt to win his Party's Majority Leader's post vacated by Tom DeLay. Blunt, just hours before losing the final vote to Ohio Republican John Boehner, had bragged to media that he had locked up enough votes to win.
Is it any wonder the Republican controlled Congress seems to have loss count on the runaway spending of our tax dollars?

a Nashvillian ponders a campaign in a political ground zero

My young friend Ellery Gould is a smart, energetic Tennessean who has found himself in the midst of one of the most unique political challenges I have ever heard of in my 25 plus years of working in and around political races.
Gould, born, raised and schooled in Nashville, currently works as an aide to Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon. He previously worked as an aide in the 2002 campaign of Congressman Jim Cooper (D-Nashville). Melancon's district - the 3rd congressional district is a massive geographic footprint that runs along the southern coastal wetlands of Louisiana.
In 2005, Melancon's district - mostly rural - became something of a ground zero for both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Entire communities were wiped off the face of the earth, commercial and personal property damage and loss has been beyond comprehension.
Ellery came to town recently to visit family and friends, and over lunch filled me on some of the things he has been working on as an aide to Melancon.
As you can imagine, his boss has been working overtime to help the surviving constituents pick up the broken pieces of their lives and begin navigating the maze of government bureaucracies to rebuild. Much has been written and reported about similar kinds of challenges facing countless others in the Gulf coastal region.
But Ellery enlightened me on another challenge of equal importance and significance to the future of their constituents - one that involves the process of giving residents in that region the opportunity to vote and have their voices heard this election year at the polls.
According to Ellery, the infrastructure that once supported voter registration, voter databases, polling equipment and places to vote suffered considerable damage in the wake of the 2005 hurricane season. Naturally, so much attention has for good reason been given by government officials to addresses the most primal needs of the region's residents - water, food, shelter. But at some point, in order to give residents of the region the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and to have their vote counted, resources will have to be put in place to support this endeavor.
First and foremost on the long list of obstacles that stand in the way of a true democratic process is the need to actually locate and make contact with all those people who have called and plan to call the region home. So many, as you can imagine, fled the region and remain scattered across the country, trying to assess a possible return to the region.
At some point, Ellery will do what many aides do during an election year - make the transition to the campaign staff and begin putting together a campaign operation - an operation that will include media, voter id and outreach, and grass roots canvassing. But the operation will be anything but traditional in its approach. New ways to identify and communicate to voters in areas void of communication networks will have to be considered. The list of things to ponder is mindblowing.
I've urged Ellery to document what all plays out in the coming months. I can envision a rewriting of the political textbook after all is said and done.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

connecting the dots from the judge in the john ford case to ed bryant?

in Tennessee politics there are always dots to connect.
for example, check out how these dots connect...
J. Daniel Breen is a US Magistrate Judge for the western district of Tennessee. More to the point of this post, Breen is the judge who ruled yesterday that former state sen. John Ford's trial should start in October of this year, about the time early voting starts for the general election on which Harold Ford Jr. will be on the ballot for the US Senate.
Why this close to the election? Coincidence perhaps?
Consider the fact that a Linda Breen (Judge Breen's wife's name is Linda) has been a frequent political donor to Ed Bryant, who is vying to be the Republican on the ballot running against Harold Ford Jr. for the US Senate seat in November. Linda Breen who gave to Bryant lists Jackson as home. Judge Breen and his wife Linda hail from Jackson.
The contributions to Bryant show a $500 contribution from Linda Breen in 2005, and two $500 contributions in 2002.
Judge Breen used to work at the law firm of Waldrop & Hall in Jackson, which is where Bryant is supposedly employed.
Do the dots connect somehow?
You decide.

spinning his wheels in political mud

Down in Tullahoma, a local state representative - GOP Rep. Judd Matheny - has apparently decided that his time would be better spent spinning his wheels in the political mud than tending to the job he was elected to perform.
Matheny - in case you've missed the ongoing saga being played out in some media outlets - was the victim of some emails that called into question his character. If you know anything about Matheny, questioning the man's character is like fishing for trout during spawning season - with Matheny there seems to be an endless supply of questionable attributes to call into question.
Turns out the source of the emails was a former political opponent of Matheny. His opponent fessed up and resigned his state job.
End of story?
Not with Matheny.
Word is Matheny has filed a defamation lawsuit and is threatening to drag a host of other government officials into the fray.
Granted he had a right to be mad about the emails, but with all the pressing issues facing his constituents - education funding, infrastructure challenges, job growth and retention, access to quality health care - you'd think his time would be better spent doing the people's business than filing legal briefs.
And legislators wonder why folks consistently rank them lower than used car salesmen in poll after poll.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

the State of Two Unions

President Bush will be in Nashville today, giving a mini-version of his State Of The Union speech. Much has already been written by now on the SOTU, but let me offer this Tennessee perspective.
Both supporters and detractors of the President watching last night's address were not surprised by what they heard.
Supporters heard a positive upbeat message from their Party's leader - we're winning the war in Iraq, the economy is strong, and we are a compassionate, decent, hopeful society. Republican candidates on the ballot this election cycle also received some talking points on select issues they can comfortably run on - more investment in math and science education, health savings accounts, curbing our nation's addiction to oil, winning the war against terrorism.
Detractors on the other hand saw a President offering up a sort of "Kool Aid" of optimism in the face of an alternate reality - a war with no end in sight, wealth and prosperity increasingly out of reach for most American families, a lack of any true commitment to developing alternative energy sources, and a government that is simply unable to afford what programs currently now exist for its citizens, much less adequately fund any new educational initiatives.
The fact that both Bush supporters and detractors can witness the same event but see a different result underscores a greater concern on my part. Our nation is more polarized than it has ever been in my lifetime.
And this President has neither the capacity or the integrity to bring our nation together again.
The fact is that it was the Bush operatives who set in motion and who now fuel the current political partisan agenda in Washington, and who also have worked to push that polarizing mindset into communities all across our nation, including our state.
As Air Force One makes it way into Middle Tennessee bringing the President to deliver his road trip version of the SOTU, I wonder if the President will even know that he is flying over a number of economically distressed counties whose citizens have to drive many miles to find work.
As the presidential limo heads from the airport to the speech destination, I wonder if the President will consider for one moment the plight of the other drivers his motorcade will pass on the interstate who struggle each day just to pay for the gasoline for their vehicles so they can get to and from work.
And as the President speaks to the Nashville audience that has been hand picked and screened by his advance team, I wonder if the President will look into the faces of those who made the approved list and believe in his heart of hearts that he is speaking to all Tennesseans.