Thursday, December 07, 2017

Phil Bredesen for US Senate?

So, after hemming and hawing, Cari Wade Gervin scooped the state last night when she broke the story that 74-year-old former governor Phil Bredesen was entering the Democratic Primary for US Senate to replace Bob Corker.

I am all for primaries because they help us sort things out, well, USUALLY they do, any way.  I had been a little worried about James Mackler, the Nashville attorney who has been running for a while now.  However, I met him this past weekend and came away with the idea that he can be elected and can get people to the polls who have not been voting, which is the REAL Democratic issue.  He is 44 years old and can fire people up.

Bredesen put out this video today filled with both-siderist BS.  He talks about reaching across the aisle (AHAHAHAHAHAH) and talks about what he accomplished as governor while conveniently failing to note that he only did that because he had a DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED Legislature to pass good legislation.

THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT WILL GET EXCITED ABOUT HIS CANDIDACY WAS ALREADY GOING TO VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT NO MATTER WHAT.

Whenever I hear that "BUT HE CARRIED 95 COUNTIES IN 2006!" crap, I feel compelled to point out that 2006 was a Democratic Wave year and he was running against someone the GOP wasn't even supporting.  Also, I feel compelled to mention THAT IT IS NOT 2006 ANY MORE PEOPLE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!!

Will I vote for him if he is the only thing preventing Marsha Blackburn's victory?  Yes, but I won't excited about it, and neither will anyone else who doesn't have a 6-figure income.  By the way, he won't flip any "reasonable" Republicans because they were all run out of the GOP a long time ago.

Everything he says in that video sounds Clintonesque, and that just does not work anymore.  Unless and until our party figures that out, we are doomed to failure.

For heaven's sakes, give us a chance to win and go help JAMES MACKLER!


Friday, December 01, 2017

Save IRV!

UPDATE 12/3:  Hat tip to Gale Jones Carson, who reminds us that this is only applicable to the seven DISTRICT City Council races and NOT to the Super District Races.


This, from friend of the blog Professor Steve Mulroy:

One sad lesson we’ve learned from the last half century is that when officials make voting less convenient, participation suffers generally, but particularly among persons of color, the poor, and the disabled.  Whether it’s photo ID, voter purges, or restricting early voting, the pattern holds.
                  A similar voter suppression effort is at work here in Memphis, where the City Council wants to repeal Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).  The key Council vote is December 5.
Lately, City Council voters have had to vote in a first round election in October.  If no one candidate gets a majority, they have to come back 6 weeks later for a runoff election between the top two candidates. 
                  Non-political insiders often don’t know that there’s a second election, or are otherwise unable to make it to the polls.  While 28% of Memphis voters vote in the first round, only 5% of voters have their voices heard in the final, decisive round.  Sometimes, only hundreds of votes make the difference.
                  This 5% of voters is disproportionately white and affluent.  The pattern holds.
                  In 2008, a people-driven, citizen-initiative process elected a City Charter Commission, which unanimously endorsed IRV as a solution to this problem.  In a citywide referendum, Memphians voted 71% for IRV.
                  Under IRV, voters can mark their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices for City Council. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Each ballot for that candidate is reassigned to other candidates based on what that ballot had for 2nd choice.  This process continues until someone has a majority.  (See www.saveirvmemphis.com)
                  IRV lets people vote just one time, without an expensive, unnecessary, low-turnout second election.   It’s been endorsed by Barack Obama, and Jesse Jackson. Locally , the local Black Lives Matter organization has recently endorsed it for Memphis, along with other progressive groups like the local Democratic Party, Democratic Women, the Central Labor Council, and the Green Party.
IRV also opens the door for first-time, lesser-known, lesser-funded candidates.  You don’t have to worry about “throwing away your vote” on your underdog favorite: you can vote for that candidate 1st, and hedge your bets with a “safer,” more established candidate 2nd.   In the 12 U.S. cities where it’s been used over the last few decades, it has resulted in the election of more female candidates, third party candidates, and candidates of color.
No wonder, then, that the establishment resists it.  Our former election administrator declined to implement it for 9 years. The Secretary of State, a longtime opponent, has questioned its legality (despite several local legal opinions from 2008 to the contrary). 
And now, just when a new election administrator has decided to implement it in the 2019 Memphis elections, the City Council plans to place a repeal referendum on the 2018 ballot—before we’ve even had a chance to try it once. Worse, some establishment oriented civil rights leaders, taking their lead from black incumbents, have echoed them.
Let the people decide, they say—even though the people have already decided, and those in power have resisted. 
IRV is too confusing for Memphians, they say—even though voters in other cities have managed it just fine.
Our local election administrators can’t be trusted to handle it, they say—even though the method to be used in 2019 (manual count of paper ballot images) is more transparent than our current computerized “black box” voting machines, and the method has been used successfully for years in Minneapolis and St Paul.

Memphis deserves better.  Before December 5, contact the City Council at IRV@saveirvmemphis.com and tell them to respect the people’s vote and give IRV a chance.  Maybe this time, the pattern won’t hold.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's time for new young candidates, and I have one in mind for Commission 13

To steal a line from ESPN's 30 FOR 30, what if I told you that, in County Commission 13, currently occupied by Republican Steve Basar, that there was a person living there who first ran for office at the age of 18, causing filmmakers to put his campaign in their documentary about four young candidates?

What if I told you that this person went on to serve his County and his Party on the County Election Commission, pointing out flaws in the operations of our elections?  After graduating from the University of Memphis, this person then went on to work alongside Music Legend David Porter at his fabled Consortium Memphis Music Town.  He had already run a record label BEFORE HE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL.

If we are going to elect a Democrat to Commission District 13, we need someone with passion, with organization skills, with dedication to public service, and with the ability, frankly, to raise the funds necessary to unseat a sitting Commissioner.

I believe that man is George C. Monger III, the man I have just described.  I don't know if he is considering the run, but I am asking him to do so by way of this post.  I believe he has the abilities necessary to win and to SERVE the entire community.  This is going to be a tough race, and we need someone with the energy and passion to succeed in the election and then on the Commission.

As a Democrat who has been around 40 years, I think George Monger is the type of person we need to run in this district.  I hope you will agree, and if you do, please say so in the comments.

Run George Run!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Random thoughts for a holiday Friday

My friend, who still wishes to remain anonymous, has some good thoughts this Friday:

1.     All of the GOP retirements from Congress shows just how much of a narrow “Stepford wife” party the GOP has become. No original thoughts with everyone following the “Masters of the Universe”’ bidding. By not having any new ideas, they are forced to resort to all of the racial dog whistles to gin up support. I keep coming back to the soliloquy from The American President:
     We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you [the GOP] is not the least bit interested in solving it. [It] is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to  blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who  remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character, and you wave an old photo of the President's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism. You tell them she’s to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore.

Sound familiar? It is not without reason that Trump has been called the “first White president.” Also the GOP’s inability or unwillingness to compromise has done more to harm our politics than anything else over the last few (20+) years. As our history professor, Jim McKee, taught us, politics is the way to decide who gets what when. Now, the lack of compromise has the GOP acting like a bunch of petulant kids where if they don’t get their way, they will take their ball and go home. Need more people like the late Howard Baker who realized that the other fellow may be right. Thought Alexander might be heading that direction when he resigned his leadership post a couple of years ago so as he said, he could be freer to speak out and chart a different course. However, that hasn’t worked out with the possible exception of the Obamacare talks with Murray.

 2.     Did you ever stop and think about the stated logic behind the GOP corporate tax cuts?  By cutting the taxes on corporations, they will create more, higher paying jobs. When was the last time you heard of a business wanting to INCREASE its labor costs by paying workers more? That is exactly what they are saying will happen if taxes are cut. No! Business is always looking to slash its labor costs and get more productivity out of its workers. That is why they moved the jobs overseas in the first place. Business is looking for an educated, skilled workforce. Those workers also want a decent place to live with infrastructure and amenities to make a good life. That why all of the tech innovation is in Silicon Valley in Cal. and not Tennessee, Arkansas, or Alabama. Word is that Walmart sometimes has trouble recruiting for its corporate HQ because people don’t want to move to Arkansas with its faux Christian intolerant image.

 3.     Speaking of infrastructure, we have a lot of it that needs rebuilding. Trump ran on a promise of fixing it, but, like most things Trump, has failed to materialize. We need a WPA-style program that would put blue-collar workers back to work building roads and bridges. Instead of tax cuts, we should be raising taxes to pay for this. (Maybe bring back the 90% bracket for the “Masters of the Universe” hedge fund managers.) Maybe some sort of tax credits for certain types of infrastructure investment. We also need to increase investment in education, which is hurting after years of GOP cuts. We know they don’t want an educated electorate because it would expose their fraudulent platform. They want to keep ‘em dumb and down on the farm. I don’t recall if it was you or Sawyer who posted the piece about the out-of-work coal miners foregoing all the retraining and other educational programs because they bought Trump’s BS about coal coming back. It’s not and all but the willfully blind know it. 

 4.     Did you notice how punitive the GOP’s tax bill is? It targets university endowments, in addition to the much discussed provisions making tuition waivers taxable and not deducting the interest on student loans. As the NY Times says, Who cares about educating the next generation when you can bring in an extra $65 billion as offsets for an enormous corporate tax cut. Its like the GOP wants to destroy the myth of the American Dream by not letting anyone else achieve that dream of owning their own home, educating their kids, and allowing the kids to have it better than they did.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Out of hibernation

Y'all, I am about to wade into something I shouldn't, but as Geoff Calkins says every morning, there is something I want to talk about first.

Last night was a great night for Democrats around the country, as the first signs of anti-Trump Backlash showed up.  We may yet win the Virginia House of Delegates, and there are lots and lots of reasons for Democrats to feel great about last night.  That said, We cannot rest because it was an anti-trump backlash, we have to get out there and show people why they should vote FOR us!

We need every legislative seat that is held by a Republican to be challenged by a Democrat, no matter where they are.  We need a clear direct message as to why we are the superior PARTY with superior candidates with a superior PLATFORM.  No more 99 campaigns, 99 messages.

Rant over.

And now, to piss off all of Midtown, here we go!  I have lived in Memphis 45 years.  My first indoor concert was in 1975 at the Mid-South Coliseum, with Elvin Bishop, Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band.  I first stepped into the Coliseum in February 1968 at the Mid-South Sport, Boat, Vacation, and Travel Show, the first of many such events, and that was BEFORE I moved here.

I truly hoped the building could be saved and renovated, and I appreciate the work of the Coliseum Coalition, especially Chooch Pickard and Roy Barnes.  That said, I was not surprised by the Strickland Administration's decision to maintain the MSC at a minimum level rather than a complete renovation.

The administration studied the hell out of the situation to see what use it still had as an event facility.  What they discovered is that, even with the full renovation, it was unlikely that the facility would be in the black, financially, and the city would be stuck with the operating costs.

The truth of the matter is this: The Coliseum has not been the primary arena for this area since the Pyramid opened in 1991.  Had the Pyramid not been built, it is likely that an on-campus arena for the Memphis Tigers would have been built, and the FedEx Forum would still have been built to house the Memphis Grizzlies.

That the MSC has held up better than expected is not surprising, nor is it the issue.  Even with a renovation, the MSC would be the THIRD arena in the area, not even the SECOND, which would still be Landers Center in Southaven.  Even with a full renovation, the Grizzlies would keep the G-League Hustle in Southaven as a marketing tool for DeSoto County and North Mississippi.

Not to mention the fact that Landers loses money and has to be subsidized by DeSoto County even with the event schedule that they have.  That, more than any other reason, I suspect, was why the Administration decided not to renovate the MSC.

Note: They decided not to bulldoze it, either.    This means the work of the Coalition is not done unless they flat just give up.  If they can find or create a group similar to the Levitt Organization to renovate and manage the building, I suspect the Mayor would be delighted to provide assistance, just not $40 Million worth.

No one wants to see it go, but it will never be what it was, and we need to realize this fact.  I think Chooch and Roy understood this from the get-go, and worked within those parameters.  However, those who thought that the MSC would ever be the primary arena for the region again were doomed to disappointment.  The Beatles are not coming back through those doors.

I know Midtowners feel like their foundations are crumbling, with Brooks Museum moving to a greatly-needed newer and larger building downtown, and Memphis College of Art announcing its closure after nearly a century.  I suspect that either Rhodes or the U of M Art Department will step up for the vacated buildings in Overton Park, and things will be just fine.  Midtown is wonderful, but it is not the ONLY part of Memphis.  The Administration has to support EVERY part of the city and look at the future when they do it.   They have to look at everything, not just one area. 

I am disappointed, too.  This decision is about what this city will look like after most of the readers of this blog post are gone, not just about right now.  Coalition, keep working to find private assistance; if it can be done with the Concourse, the Orpheum, and the Riverfront, anything is possible.

As St. Jude Hospital proves every single day, you only lose when you give up.  Don't give up.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

An interesting take on current events

One of my friends, who has requested anonymity, wrote this, and I think the person makes good points:

I have been thinking a lot about the recent events in Charlottesville. These are just preliminary but I wanted to share them with you. Your comments and criticisms are always welcome.

          Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster; however, there just might be a glimmer of hope that could come from it. This will depend on future events that we cannot foresee at this point, and is more the result of being synchronous than anything Trump did. I am talking about finally having a full-blown conversation on race in this country and how to deal with all aspects of it in our civil life.

          For the past 150 years, we have uncomfortably tiptoed around the question of race in this country. There are probably more monuments to the Confederacy all across the South in cities and towns of all sizes than the numbers of soldiers that fought in the Civil War. From the amount of statuary, one would have thought that the CSA won the Civil War or at least achieved a negotiated peace. Most monuments have stood for years without any signs of protest or acknowledgment of how inappropriate they are, and how insulting they are to our African American neighbors. The response has always been that the monuments represented “heritage, not hate.”  Some areas have tried with varying degrees of success to confront and address their Confederate heritage and move forward on questions of race. This started with the removal of the Confederate battle flag from state flags, as well as from public spaces. It also included removal of Confederate monuments/statues/relics.

          In 2008, we elected our first African American president. In the years that followed, something of a backlash occurred in that there have been untold numbers of hate crimes directed at various racial and religious minorities, as well as members of the LGBTQ communities. This backlash, based on Obama’s skin color, was the same as the way the South viewed Lincoln’s election in 1860 and was expressly encouraged by the GOP leadership in Congress, who vowed to make Obama a one term president. That failed. Nevertheless, they opposed everything Obama did or proposed. If he had proposed praising motherhood, apple pie, and baseball, they would have said “hell no.” (I will leave for another time the irony of the GOP liking to call itself the party of Lincoln and how much they have done for African Americans and civil rights.)

          In 2016, Trump ran on an explicitly racist/nationalist platform crafted by Steve Bannon. In many ways, Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened and encouraged the white racist/nationalist elements of his base. The result was the recent events in Charlottesville. It has served as a wake-up call to some of the more reasonable members of the GOP establishment. This is where the glimmer of hope I mentioned comes in. Maybe this will be a sort of Nixon-goes-to-China moment where we can fully and frankly address race. However, it will not be easy and will take leadership that has yet to step forward. I don’t expect it from Trump. There undoubtedly will be a backlash and opposition. But, it needs to happen. We need a modern-day version of Lincoln’s appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”

          Part of the problems we are finally dealing with are based on race. Another large part that is somewhat connected is the question of religion. We have a large segment of our population that is of a fundamentalist Christian view of religion. They use their religious beliefs to support their views on race. They believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, with its patriarchal society. They also have no tolerance for anyone who does not believe exactly as they do. In this regard, they are wanting to enact their religious beliefs into civil law as their own form of sharia law. They are also wanting to use their religion to be able to discriminate on the basis of race/gender/sexual orientation/national origin/religion. We are a pluralistic society and have the freedom to worship (or not) as we see fit. However, this does not give one group the right or chance to impose their religious views on the rest of us.

          Like I said, these are preliminary thoughts and much will depend on future events.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I am feeling frustrated.

First, I need to make full disclosure.  You may have noticed that I have NOT written anything about the City of Memphis for well over a year now, there is good reason for this.

I have a severe conflict of interest, as my wonderful, beautiful wife Susan works on the 7th floor at City Hall as the administrative assistant to Alan Crone, Special Counsel to the Mayor.  As a result, anything I wrote would be seen as speaking on their behalf, which is the LAST thing I would do or should do, as they have very talented people in their employ to do just that type of thing.

I will say this, and then walk away from anything city related.   I feel I should remind everyone that the reason Tennessee has a law prohibiting cities from bulldozing Confederate statues, UNLIKE Kentucky or Louisiana, is that the prior City Council passed an ordinance to remove them, and the Confederate supporters in the General Assembly passed a bill to stop it.  Among the City Councilors voting to bulldoze the statues:  District 5 Councilman Jim Strickland.

I'm done; you're welcome.