Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And another thing...

If Lamar Alexander recognized the importance of debating his democratic opponent in Jackson, Tennessee in the heat of his contested U.S. Senate race, why won't Bob Corker? I figure the only reason why Corker is dodging a debate with Harold Ford Jr. in Jackson is that he's afraid he'll get tangled up in his own web of lies in front of over a millions swing voters in rural West Tennessee. Sadly, the loser in all this are voters who deserve to see and hear the candidates without the cover of slick, scripted tv commercials.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Corker dodges debates with Ford in Tri Cities, Knoxville and Jackson

Yesterday Bob Corker announced that he would NOT debate Harold Ford Jr. in either the Tri-Cities area, Knoxville or Jackson, and would NOT appear in any statewide televised debates under any circumstance.
Corker's decision to dodge a public debate with Ford in these areas, coupled with his continued stance against making public his income tax returns and his lawyer's recent efforts to seal court documents surrounding Corker's involvement in a shady land deal while he was Mayor of Chattanooga, begs the obvious question - "just what is Bob Corker so afraid of?"

Monday, August 28, 2006

A "site' for sore eyes

This website needs no introduction - only a tip to pump up the volume on your computer:
Jim Bryson website

How to prep for that annoying pre-election deposition

Last week Bob Corker "received a subpoena" to testify on October 18th. He'll face allegations that under Corker the Mayor's watch, Wal-Mart developers were granted permission to build a construction road without City Council approval through a popular protected wetlands area. One of Corker's businesses closed on the land sale for Wal-Mart's development for a cool $4.66 million just weeks after the easement was granted by the Corker administration. Undue influence by then-Mayor Corker for personal gain?
Corker's lawyers have tried to seal court documents and keep a lid publicly on the whole squirrely land deal. This action in and of itself is an interesting tact to take as Corker tries to win the support of voters who are skeptical of politicians in general, and more so of those who try to keep the truth away from the public's reach.
Understanding the magnitude of this ever important deposition to Corker's political future, I offer these following sources/tips to help Corker with his performance on the witness stand.

One website offering reasonable deposition tips can be found at:
This site has a section entitled "SURVIVING A DEPOSITION" in which the deposed is advised on "How To Think For A Deposition", "How To Be Calm For A Deposition", and "How To Dress For A Deposition." The site advises the deposed to expect lawyers to be "either nice or nasty." Funny, I can't recall ever meeting a "nice" lawyer.
There is one tip on this site that Corker must have already taken to heart - "do not give anything away actively, passively or interactively, by what you do, what you say or how you act."

Another website offers an entirely different slant on how to survive a deposition:
This site suggest use of five major families of witchcraft or magic spells for use in court cases...they are:
beef tongue spells
freezer spells
dressing clothes and carrying a mojo bag in court
little john to chew spells
honey jar spells; and
recital of psalms for court cases

Come October 18th, let's all wish Corker the best as he takes the proverbial witness stand and tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him God.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another black eye for the Tennessee GOP's Ken Whitehouse just broke a story minutes ago about the arrest of Shirley Ward, president of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, by the TBI for voter fraud. Ward, according to Whitehouse, turned herself in to authorities who are charging her with voter fraud stemming from allegations that she knowingly voted in the wrong district in a Tipton County Commission race to influence the outcome of that race.
Ward's arrest is problematic for the GOP across the state on numerous fronts - primarily at the grassroots level. To have the president of a prominent statewide Republican activist group arrested for voter fraud will no doubt sting throughout the ranks of the Tennessee GOP. The impression on voters who read and hear of the arrest and subsequent stories about the allegations of voter fraud will be anything but positive. Those same voters will begin going to the polls to vote in less than eight weeks. The arrest may also be an embarrassment to Ward's son, Jeff, who heads and who recently endorsed Bob Corker for the U.S. Senate.

"I know nothing...noTHING!"

This week the Republican National Committee fessed up to hiring a voter registration group that has been banned from Wal-Mart stores across Tennessee for "failing to meet the retailer's standards of nonpartisanship."
The group - Liberty Consultants - was paid by GOP operative Nathan Sproul to corral Wal-Mart shoppers and sign up Republicans to vote. Former Sproul workers reported that in 2004 they used similar tactics and were told to sign up only Republicans, and to walk away from people who might support Democrats. Reports have circulated that some completed Democratic voter registration forms collected by the group were actually thrown away or ripped up Sproul operatives.
Harrassing Wal-Mart shoppers to vote Republican is a tad cheezy, but what really caught my attention was the fact that the Tennessee Republican Party claims they had "no prior knowledge" of any such RNC funded voter registration drive in its own backyard. According to the state GOP's executive director Chris Devaney (aka Sgt. Shultz of Hogan's Heroes fame), the party was surprised to learn of all this. "I know nothing...noTHING!"
Sure. Yea. Right.
Why should I expect that the head of the Tennessee Republican party (....or anyone of any stature within the entire Republican party organization across all 95 counties) would have ANY knowledge whatsoever of a massive multi-million dollar, multi-location cordinated GOP voter registration within our state that is funded and directed by the national republican party?
Silly me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lost in limbo?

Help me out here. No really.
The last time I checked Nashville still doesn't have a new federal courthouse to replace the current aging one. But we do have a name for it.
I remember back in '01 U.S. Sen. Bill Frist boasted at having secured $20.7 million or so of our tax dollars to begin the process of designing and building the new courthouse. I even vaguely recall that some firm had been chosen to design it.
From that point on things are a little fuzzy.
Last month I read in Congress Daily that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee decided to name the "still ain't built" federal courthouse in Nashville after Frist as a trade off forged by the committee after Senate Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Kit Bond (R-Mo) denied Frist's latest request for more tax dollars to actually build it. Glad to see our Republican Senate leaders with such a firm grasp on priorities.
I might have missed other news or developments on this since then (I admit to being out of cell and web range for a couple of weeks), but unless something else happened I suppose this means Nashville's new federal courthouse - though named after Frist - remains in budget limbo.

Is the party over yet?

Today Bob Corker is celebrating his 54th birthday with a party in Chattanooga.
Tonight, after the candles have been blown out and the celebration ends, Corker will likely head home and reflect on how his day has gone.
In keeping with that sentiment, permit me to offer my own assessment of where things seem to stand with respect to what's probably most on Corker's mind these days - his U.S. Senate election prospects:
- New internal tracking by respected Ford pollster Pete Brodnitz shows Ford up by 2 percentage points over Bob Corker among Tennessee voters, and shows Corker's negatives climbing by 10 percentage points since Corker went on the air with his $6 million pro-Bob tv ad blitz, while Ford's favorables went up from 47% to 55%.
- 47% of Tennessee voters are unfavorable toward President Bush...the same President Bush that Corker is bringing in to campaign for him next week ("welcome to Tennessee Mr. President...things have changed a little since you last graced us with your presence").
- Ford is getting credit for running "one of the smartest campaigns of the year" by major national political analysts, who credit Ford's energy, his straight talk and his refreshing message.
- The National Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education today endorsed Ford (following on the heels of the Tennessee teacher organization) stating that Ford "clearly understands the problems facing public schools and has a proven record in support of the issues facing education."
- Ford came off a major bus tour across parts of Tennessee last week that saw hundreds of grass roots supporters turn out in areas of the state once believed to be Republican strongholds.
- Despite an endorsement from a D.C.-based national right to life group, Corker got snubbed this week by Tennessee's Right To Life activists who refuse to support him (even though he is the GOP nominee) because they are angry over over Corker's flip flopping record on abortion.
- Corker's lawyer filed a motion on primary election day to hide details of all of developer Corker's land deals...his campaign said "the actions taken were completely ethical and consistent with the public good," not "sneaky."
- One such land deal that occured when Corker was Mayor of Chattanooga is now starting to raise seems Mayor Corker decided to have public lands paved for a development project with ties to developer Corker.
With all that to absorb, I suspect Corker might end up having a tough time tonight catching on some much needed sleep.
I further suspect that Corker might even wonder if the proverbial party was already over, even before tonight's celebration.

Monday, August 21, 2006

"He was a good 'un"

This morning I learned via a radio report (later confirmed by a telephone call) of the death of Larry Trail, a former Tennessee state senator who hailed from Rutherford and Cannon counties. While I've experienced my fair share of having to deal with the death of friends, hearing about Larry's passing hit me a bit harder than most.
Some years ago I was introduced to Larry by a mutual friend. At that time, Larry was in need of some political advice as he pondered a first time run for an open state senate seat. We bonded from the get go - a political hack and a pig-headed, straight talking, tenacious candidate.
The traits I respected the most in Larry were traits that drove most people around him nuts. He relished a good argument. In the heat of a campaign, he would spend a lot of time (some said too much time) questioning all of the advice he was being given. Not because he believed he was any smarter, but because Larry was the kind of guy who wasn't about to buy into anything unless he understood it (and even then, he still might not buy it). If you planned on getting Larry the candidate to embrace a political strategy, you better damn well have done your homework. Same held true for Larry the state senator. Just ask lobbyists or senate leadership what they remember most about Larry. What you'll hear is that Larry had an annoying tendacy to insist on reading and understanding every word of every piece of legislation he was asked to vote on. He even invited me once to put the word out to all my lobbyist friends that they better not ask him for his vote unless they can make a good case for it. Larry also didn't mind ruffling feathers in committee hearings by asking tough, pointed (and often leading) questions of important people regardless of their standing.
While there were plenty of political and policy points over which Larry and I disagreed, there was so much more to Larry as a person that I liked. He respected and appreciated the law and enjoyed finding ways to use it or change it to help average working people. He loved his wife. He had a hearty laugh (though careful not to have one at someone's expense). And most important to me on a personal level, he found a way to dis-engage from all the craziness by losing himself in mundane chores on his farm in Cannon County. For all his complaining about not enough time in a day, Larry always perked up a bit when he talked carving out time on his farm.
While sadly it was a farm accident that ultimately caused Larry's death (he was in a serious tractor mishap at the age of 12 that cost him the partial use of one of his hands and caused him severe internal scarring that didn't heal right), I suspect it was his connection to his farm throughout his life that gave him the balance he needed when the pressures of running a law practice, fighting legislative battles, and dealing with the rough and tumble of politics got to him.
Finding balance in life and having that special place to get away from all the craziness is something I still seek most days.
People like Larry - the candidate or the state senator - are hard to find in and around politics these days. His star, though characterized by some as more of a shooting star at legislative plaza, burned undeniably bright while he served in office.
It was an honor and a privilege for me to have known Larry and to have worked with him briefly.
Our mutual friend summed up Larry best in our call this morning - "he was a good 'un."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

And I thought I might have missed something

Two weeks ago today I skipped town and unplugged both cell and Internet connections to get a little R&R.

I returned to discover the following:

Millionaire Bob Corker - who self-funded the bulk of his negative TV blitz/admitted to not paying taxes a few years back/and raised taxes while Mayor of Chattanooga - is refusing to release his complete federal tax returns saying no self respecting Tennessean really wants to know details of his financial situation. Is there something buried in the tax returns Corker's afraid will come to light?

Washington lobbyist hater Bob Corker - remember the self-funded TV ad attacks on both Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary for being lobbyists - is embracing the endorsement of lobbyist Hilleary. Guess this means Coker now has a running buddy for his trips up K Street to shake down D.C. lobbyists for more $$.

Bob Corker is actually going to have President Bush - think ballooning federal deficits/out of control government spending/deep divisions within his own Party over immigration/a civil war in Iraq/growing crises throughout the Middle East - campaign for him on August 30. Sign me up to get a copy of the Corker-Bush shake/howdy photo for my political scrapbook.

Whew. It's a good thing I didn't miss anything important.