Friday, June 23, 2006

Paper or plastic?

This week I took a trip to the Davidson County Election Commission office to see a demonstration of the new voting machines that will be rolled out and plugged in all over the county in time for the upcoming August primary.
As always the staff at the Election Commission were courteous. In fact, when I showed up unannounced and asked for a demonstration of the new machine they were accomodating and responsive.
That aside, my gut says there may be (underscore "may") a train wreck a'coming. the new ES&S iVotronic.
If you have been exposed to touch screen computer technology you'll find the system fairly easy to navigate - with one minor exception. Because of the size of the August ballot in Davidson County, voters may be forced to scroll through as many as 15 screens of ballot boxes.
That's right - 15 screens of races.
This stark reality may give new meaning to the term "down ballot" race.
Remember this confusing comedic bit - "Who's on first?? What's on second?? I don't know. Third base."
If you have not been exposed to touch screen computer technology...well...may I suggest paper instead of plastic?
Imagine someone with limited exposure to this technology trying to navigate 15 screen pages of information - not to menition having to read and closely follow the navigational directives that will appear on each screen as they surf the system?
There are also other issues to be resolved by July 14, such as privacy while you vote. I understand there is some discussion at the commission about having voters be positioned with their backs to walls as they work at the very open air designed machines.
My hope is that the commission will make a concerted effort to notify all registered voters as to what they can expect when they arrive to vote at the polling places in the coming weeks. It might also make sense for the respective political parties to notify their constituencies of the new technology and offer tips and assistance of some sort to voters who might be adverse to this technology.
While I'm not afraid to use the new system, you can bet I'll be asking for a paper ballot when I show up to vote just to save time (unless there is no one else in line ahead of me).

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Hyprocrisy among the current crop of GOP candidates on the subject of campaign fundraising is nothing new. Bob Corker attacking Harold Ford Jr. for accepting contributions from people outside Tennessee while Corker himself hustles for $$ on Washington's K Street to fund his race here is yesterday's news.
But this week another verse to the GOP hypocrisy chorus was revealed by Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Bob Tuke. Seems yet another outside GOP political fund is doing business on behalf of the GOP here, playing an even higher stakes game of hide and go seek.
You can go to to read all the necessary supporting documentation, but here's the story in a nutshell.
Two political entities have been set up called the Tennessee Leader Victory Fund and the Tennessee U.S. Senate Victory Fund. The Tennessee Leader Victory Fund is a joint venture with Saint Frist's Volunteer PAC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and a fund called the Tennessee Republican Senate Nominee General Election Committee. The objective of all these entities is to sell influence, access and a piece of the political action to conservative-minded donors, regardless of where they hail from.
The game is played this way:
Donor X from outside Tennessee contributes to the various entites. The entities transfer the $$ to the NRSC, which in turn targets the $$ to be spent in support of the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate race here in Tennessee.
(It is worth noting from a previous post that the NRSC has undergone a recent personnel shakeup due to the fact that its previous political director has been convicted of ties to an illegal phone jamming scam involving former TN GOP chair Tommy Hopper. Can you say tangled web?)
To date over $400,000 has already been transferred from one of these two "Tennessee" entities to the NRSC and you can bet it every penny will be spent here in Tennessee supporting the GOP U.S. Senate nominee.
Why would the GOP playing this game? Simple. Making it hard to follow the $$ gives donors protection from watchful eyes.
Is it really legal? Apparently. After all the treasurer of the "Tennessee" Leader Victory Fund is Thomas Maxwell III, an east coaster identified in a NYT story in 2003 as the "compliance officer" for the NRSC. Maxwell is also the tied to the Tennessee U.S. Senate Victory Fund.
Is it transparent to most voters? Anything but.
Will the shell game really play out here in Tennessee between now and November? Count on it.
The real question though (that remains unanswered) is whether or not Tennessee media covering the races here will call the GOP's bluff when they accuse Tennessee Democratic candidates of raising and spending $$ from people outside our state.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Corker sucks a girl's face

Ok class. Let's go over this again.
If you are a candidate for a major federal office, and you are running on a conservative family values platform, should you pay attention to what your children are doing on the Internet?
Anyone? Anyone?
Wonkette does it again.
Julia Corker - daughter of senate candidate Bob Corker - is featured on in a lip lock with another girl and joining in an interesting underwear dance. (type in bob corker in the search box on the wonkette blog to see the post)

Friday, June 09, 2006

He's been framed

Hats off to our military for taking out most wanted terrorist scum Abu Musab al-zarqawi. But lest we overlook the small things that make for the staging of good news - a sharp salute to the folks that managed to get this massive image of a very dead Zarqawi so beautifully framed within hours of his killing. Now that's what I call service.

Corker - maybe you should have pulled a Groucho instead

Bob Corker should have followed the wisdom of Groucho Marx - when pressed by reporters for a truthful answer on the issue of his hiring illegal aliens to work on a Tennessee construction project he should have said "quote me as saying I was mis-quoted."
He should have, but he didn't. Instead, Corker's camp, including the candidate, went on record giving five different answers over five days about his knowledge of the incident to reporters. The most recent being a total admission of guilt on the matter.
Click here to see an interesting post (What is Bob "The Fraud" Corker Hiding?) outlining Corker's bizarre five for five strategy.
Maybe Corker thinks that giving multiple answers will lull reporters and ultimately voters into some sort of spin trance.
Fat chance.
The immigration issue is a hot button and any candidate like Corker who dodges the truth about their respective record is going to get torched.

Bryson Enlists Support Of Unemployed Comedian

Jim Bryson unveiled the new symbol of his campaign to be taken seriously as a contender in this year's Governor's race. The symbol - a pitiful excuse for a bear.
That's right, you heard me - a bear.
Facing the realities of zero name recognition, no clear campaign message, an opponent who happens to be one of the most popular bipartisan Governors in our state's history...and with fewer than 93 business days remaining before voters start voting early in this race, Bryson has clearly taken his campaign to a new level (did I say a higher level?).
Bryson hired a bear - but not just any bear.
Sources inside the Bryson camp tell me the bear is actually a frustrated comedian who, after some recent career setbacks that involve being laid off by a control freak frog after he was discovered having an affair with a prima donna pig, approached Bryson with a "convincing schtick." My sources say Bryson, who too has struggled of late to find any audience willing to buy his schtick, was sympathetic of the bear's plight.

Officially, Bryson has had no comment on his decision to hire the bear. After the bear's pathetic debut this week on the campaign trail (word is he ran away from reporters who attempted to question him at his first political event), Bryson's campaign aides began attempting to shift the responsibility and blame for hiring the bear to the Tennessee Republican Party.
Well, point all the fingers you want Mr. Bryson. I know better than to believe that seasoned campaign veterans like GOP state party executive director Chris Devaney would be behind such a stupid publicity stunt.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Frist Spawn Makes Fashion Statement

This entry requires little or no editorial comment on my part (I love it when a subject just speaks for itself). It does underscore the important question all politicians -regardless of party affiliation - need to ask themselves -- "what will my kids be up to on the Internet while I'm out campaigning for higher office?"
Click here to wonkette, then search on blog for Jonathan Frist: Beer Wrangler.