Thursday, December 29, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah, Happy Ramadan, Happy Yule, Happy Saturnalia, and, last but not least, have a Festive Festivus for the rest of us!
Just don't let the Airing of Grievances get out of control, eh? Save that for here!
It looks like she spent some money on the website, as well, although several sections are still under construction. Interesting splash, and it's not even January yet. That's a lot of money to spend now, unless you're pretty sure you will be able to keep raising it through August, at least.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
While this is a great thing in many ways, one problem that this presents is that the largest ballot in County history just got even larger. How many people are going to work their way down that monstrous ballot in order to elect Charter Commission members, and who will they elect?
Unfortunately, if they make it that far, they are more likely to vote for a name that they know unless they just don't like that person. Which, of course, favors old hands who are likely to make few changes, which is NOT what we need here.
I am now going to shamelessly use this forum to request of our Election Commissioners that, if legally possible, that the time frame for early voting for next August's elections be expanded by at least a week. If there is a legal prohibition against it, then I will ask my legislators to change that law this spring.
It's too critical to do otherwise.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Both Ford and Roland attended the hearing. Ford said she wants the investigation completed to end the controversy. But both she and her attorney, David Cocke, said they do not fear a new election because they believe she would win.
As South Knox Bubba would say, ok then. Let's find out if they mean what they say here; I've known David Cocke long enough that I would take his word at face value any time. If Ophelia said, fine, VOID the election, I can wait until an August primary and a November election, does anyone else here think that Terry Roland and Richard Fields (not to mention our old pal Thaddeus Matthews) would suddenly have to change their undergarments from the shock?
We WOULD have to put pressure on the County Commission to not undercut the process by appointing Roland to the seat, something the state GOP might pressure them to do. However, the prospect of having the next Commission meeting jammed to the rafters with demonstrators might dissuade them from that action.
Remember, we're going to be talking about A) the biggest ballot in Shelby County history this August, with every County and Judicial general election race on the ballot, plus the State and Federal primaries, so there could be an interesting turnout. This would be doubly so with Harold the Younger in a primary battle for the Senate.
While, I'll grant you that the GOP has an interesting Senate primary on their hands as well, with Junior attempting to capture the Democratic nomination, no stone will be unturned getting people out.
Uh, maybe I should rephrase that a little bit! :-)
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
There are great comments, but I too am reprinting her post in its entirety because it's well worth reading for ALL local Democrats. Here we go:
Obviously others will disagree, which is fine, but I know how it is for me to try to read something about an Ohio or Pennsylvania race without knowing the dynamics or all the players...so I've tried to include more detail than some of the other comments. Thanks in advance for reading.
I'm not sure people who don't live in Tennessee (I'm in Nashville) have a real grasp on what's going on here.
It's true that Tennessee is not Kansas or Nebraska. The state has voted for every Presidential contest winner since 1960, including Clinton and Gore twice. Many people will tell you Gore lost here in 2000 because he totally took the state for granted and didn't even campaign, except for one last minute appearance in east Tennessee. Meanwhile, the GOP brought in Charlton Heston and whipped up the rural white vote, telling 'em the Dems would take away their guns. (Gore's failure can be put somewhat in context by the knowledge that Gore won his most recent Senate races (1982, 1988) by 80-percent margins.) The conventional wisdom hereabouts is that he left the state once he became VP and didn't work hard enough to stay in touch with his constituents.
Memphis is hugely important in Tennessee politics (for Dems anyway), because it's 600,000 votes out of the state's 4 million or so registered voters. Nashville weighs in second at about 3, 4 hundred thousand, depending on turnout. However, the Republican Party in the state is smart and has gone after the Nashville Republican suburbs (Williamson County) with a vengeance.
There are other dynamics at play. For decades, the state House and Senate were held by the Democrats. There are widespread allegations of abuse, capped this year by an attempt at ethics reform by Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen (more on him later). The Dems lost the state Senate in 2004, after Bredesen campaigned heavily for three candidates - and all three of them lost.
In a nutshell, the state party is in serious disarray. There are six DNC members - several of which are so old they don't even attend DNC meetings or do much of anything. The state executive committee is moribund. In fairness, it's a tough coalition to put together. Democrats in Memphis are either urban blacks or progressive whites. Nashville has a huge creative community of songwriters, artists, college students and employees (there are seven colleges, with a sum total of a few hundred thousand students, staff and administrators - Vanderbilt, Belmont, Tennessee State). So issues that play in rural Tennessee, such as God and guns, are way too conservative for voters in Memphis and Nashville. Usually statewide candidates take the Republican-lite approach, and suffer when Democratic voters in Memphis and Nashville stay home in droves.
Bredesen stands to be re-elected in 2006. Right now, he's unopposed, and is rumored to be considering New Hampshire in 2008. However, here in Nashville, many Democrats are deeply angry with him. In 2003, his first year in office, he hired the former head of the state AFL-CIO to gut workman's comp regulations, a rift which is still out in the open between the governor and the labor community. More recently, he threw 300,000 people off the state's health insurance plan while his Administration concealed information from the state legislature about the true condition of the program and the people who stood to be removed. (He campaigned on TennCare reform - his reforms seemed to involve the acceptance of money from the health care industry and no attempt at all to curb allegations of fraud and abuse on the part of that same industry.) The solution for him was removal of the sickest enrollees, many of whom are now dying. There's talk of a 'safety net', but there are allegations that insurance companies have been discouraged from participating. This culminated with a group of sick individuals camping out in his office for a period of weeks.
Most recently, Bredesen has been embroiled in a scandal involving his deputy governor, Dave Cooley, who's been promoting state troopers based on campaign contributions. Check out www.tennessean.com for more info on that one, it's been all over the front page this week.
Long story short, some party activists have pledged to sit out 2006 and some expect the turnout in Nashville not to be terrifically good. Memphis will come out for Ford, but there is no energized base in other areas to speak of. Bredesen is not involved with Nashville politics, despite having been mayor of the city - he didn't even send a representative to the county's first annual major fundraiser, the Gore Dinner held last July. Knoxville and Chattanooga are the only other cities in the state approaching any shade of blue in local elections, and both of them went for Bush by 60-40 margins in '04.
Here's a strange one for you, though - the Republicans LOVE Bredesen. Some argue that's why they won't run a candidate against him, although the conventional wisdom is that nobody wants to go up against his hundreds of millions of personal fortune he made from a durable health care products business he sold some years ago. So many Republicans will show up to vote for Bredesen...and that may bode badly for Ford, since you can bet they'll split their ticket.
Recently I heard a rumor that former GOP Chair Beth Harwell is salivating to run against Bredesen, but the GOP won't let her, intending instead to keep their powder dry and take control of the state House. Again, Bredesen campaigned hard for three Senate candidates in 2004 (Larry Trail, Joann Graves, and one other)...all three of them lost. The TN Republicans are very smart, and this might not be a bad strategy for them.
As much as it pains me to say this, I suspect there are still many rural whites who won't consider voting for a black man. Ford is not perceived as a hard worker statewide (he was on Kerry's national steering committee and did nothing to help him in Tennessee other than a couple of appearances.) Most of his money is coming from out of state. He's a darling in Washington, which has his campaign employees in thrall thinking they can get him elected here. And worst of all, his uncle John Ford, who resigned from the state Senate this year, has been broadcast all over the state on tape accepting bribes from an FBI undercover agent. You can bet your bottom dollar the Republicans will time John Ford's trial for September 2006, and the airwaves will be full of the Ford name in conjunction with ethics violations.
Now, if the Republicans nominate Van Hilleary - a conservative extremist who is perceived as an intellectual lightweight - there may be some hope. But what Ford would have to do, as mentioned above, is not make speeches in which he talks about his love for the Iraq war and his generally conservative social philosophies in order to appeal to the hardcore Democratic vote in Memphis and Nashville. Doing so would alienate the rural whites - who probably aren't going to vote for him anyway. So you have to feel for the guy. In a sense he's damned whatever he does.
DO NOT FORGET that this state is the home of Bill Frist, who will do whatever he has to do to ensure massive fundage for Tennessee from the national GOP. This goes double since he's got 2008 aspirations.
In short, I think this is a really long shot. Y'all go on and get excited about it, because miracles do happen, but it'd take a major scandal on the part of the state GOP to blow this out of the water for either Ed Bryant or Corker. It would have helped had Kerry run a real campaign here - see the "Tennessee has voted for every Presidential winner since 1960" maxim - but no amount of entreaties to the national staff would make them see this as a state in play. So in a way the national party reaps what it sows here.
A few clarifying details...
The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Ford, but they're still pissed at Bredesen, so that'll most likely cut back on what they're willing to do for the joint ticket.
Nashville is the state capital, so much of what makes the news here about state doings affects local turnout.
Memphis, three hours west, is the largest city in the state, at about twice the size of Nashville. It's also where Harold Ford is from; Bredesen is from Nashville; there's a historic rivalry between the two cities, tho it's usually not bad enough to stop Democrats in either city from turning out to vote for the guy from the other town (and I do mean guy. Tennessee ranks 49 out of the 50 states for women's participation in politics, with a whopping 14% of our state House and Senate being women. This is just not a progressive state - and the state Democratic Party is partly to blame for that, since they don't put any premium at all on helping young, female or diverse candidates gain a toehold. The good-ol-boy network is living large here, mostly in the person of Jimmy Naifeh and some other scions in charge of the state legislature.
State Sen. Rosalind Kurita, Harold Ford's primary opponent, has been in the Senate for a dozen years - she's got plenty of experience and is a credible candidate. The state Party has held several events without even inviting her. It's been a foregone conclusion Ford would be the nominee, I suspect due to his status as a national party darling. However, you'd think SOMEBODY in the state Democratic power structure would care this state has never had a woman governor, or senator...only four women have ever served in Congress from here, and the only one who's in now is ultraconservative Marsha Blackburn. It's just repugnant.)
p.s. I neglected to mention another kiss of death: the Tennessee legislature is seriously considering the purchase of Diebold voting machines. My beloved Davidson County (Nashville) is considering ES&S, implicated in the Ohio 2004 debacle.
Yep. Some days it's just hard to get up with too much enthusiasm for anything happening here...
Monday, December 19, 2005
He believes that, with the current make up of the Supreme Court, that they will override the 8-0 ruling against Richard Nixon from the 1970s.
Please take time to read it, it's chilling. NO EXECUTIVE should have the rights he is seeking for the Presidency.
Friday, December 16, 2005
By the way, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is now calling for a special prosecutor to look into this matter. Here' s an excerpt:
"I am deeply troubled that the President of the United States may have secretly ordered his intelligence agents to spy on Americans without obtaining court orders," said Miller, Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. "Congress had already broadened the powers of the Administration to fight terrorism through the gathering of intelligence, but now it is alleged that the President went even further and secretly ordered the NSA to conduct domestic spying in a manner that may be both unconstitutional and illegal.
So, 9th District hopefuls, what do you think? Let's hear from you, even though we haven't hit the filing deadline yet.
The fact that he has been receiving campaign contributions from Wal-Mart's PACs I'm sure has NOTHING to do with it.
Also, Frank points out that Sam Walton himself RARELY, if ever made contributions to candidates of either party. However, since his death, his descendants have given heavily to right wing candidates and think tanks.
Just another reason not buy anything from Wal-Mart, up to and including your Senator.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
It appears that the state's senior Senator sold his HCA stock (a company founded by his family) just before a precipitous decline in the stock price. Katz had been following the story closely, apparently more closely than Frist and his office liked.
Josh Marshall also comments on the story here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Yes, indeedy, Memphis bloggers of ALL shapes, sizes and political viewpoints, the Bloggers Bash will be taking place at Quetzal, 668 Union Avenue on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 PM.
Please show up to shoot the breeze and celebrate whatever holiday you like!
Thanks to Mr. Mike for the graphics!
Friday, December 09, 2005
If you were involved in politics or journalism in this town over the last 30 years, you knew Terry Keeter, and like so many of us, there are a lot of fond memories. He was tough on EVERYBODY, but he was FAIR, and more importantly, he was ACCURATE.
He was also responsible, along with Larry Williams, for raising thousands of dollars for journalism scholarships in the Mid-South as the backbone behind the Gridiron Dinner in Memphis, which gleefully (but hilariously) skewered local politicos and celebrities with abandon.
Please remember Terry in your thoughts and prayers today.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wanda Halbert has picked up petitions for THREE different races, Register (Inc - Tom Leatherwood - R), Criminal Court Clerk (Inc - Bill Key - R) and Juvenile Court Clerk (Inc - Steve Samson - R). it will be interesting to see which, if any, of those seats causes her to file.
Despite the recent ruling against term limits for county officials by the State Court of Appeals, Sidney Chism is going full speed ahead with his race for County Commissioner (IIRC, I believe he's pulled a petition for Cleo Kirk's seat) with a fundraiser scheduled for New Year's Eve.
That will be an interesting race should Commissioner Kirk be allowed to run again by the State Supreme Court; it will be one of the hottest Democratic primary races this May.
In unrelated news, The Cracker is now hooked up to the Tennessee BlogWire through LeftyBlogs.com, down and to the right; please peruse the links and the fine writers linked there.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
He was enjoyable to speak with, as we talked about some of the issues that had been raised, such as charter schools, which he feels have been successful in some instances that he has seen, but added that he is committed to public education.
The website, linked above, has more information.
Ralph White opened his campaign this week with a meet and greet at the U of M Holiday Inn, Nikki Tinker is out raising money and talking to people, and Ron Redwing had a fundraiser this week, so the 9th district race is taking shape.
Friday, November 18, 2005
The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel."He asked me to send Congress a message _ stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message _ that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.
However, what happened next is a cause for surprise. Per the AP article,
Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack.
Really? Congressman, are you now ready to step up and admit you were bamboozled by the lies from the White House?
I know, I know, baby steps, baby steps. Maybe it's a sign that he has realized it's time to fight the real enemy, the Republican Party.
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.
General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”
For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.
We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.
I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.
The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care.
Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S. Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.
Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.
I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.
I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.
Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.
My plan calls:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. To create a quick reaction force in the region.To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines. To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.
Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
This is no wimp, no appeaser. Rep. Murtha is a 37-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He was decorated in Vietnam, and has far more integrity on this subject than the chickenhawks who are in the Bu$h Administration. Let's give him the support he needs; call your Congressman NOW and demand that they get behind this plan to bring our troops home.
So, who the hell is THIS GUY? Lee Harris, a UM law professor, has announced his candidacy to succeed Harold Junior in Congress. According to the article, he's anti-choice, pro-voucher, pro-charter school. THAT should help him in the Democratic primary, shouldn't it?
Stanton seems ok, and I've never met Redwing that I remember, so they might be OK. Tinker is sweet and gorgeous, but she's a corporate lawyer. Harris is anti-choice, so we're still looking for a winner here. Jim Maynard, you ran as a write-in two years ago and got nowhere. You could get in this primary and maybe even win it.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Again, thank you for the mention; I'll try to live up to that in the coming months.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
That's all I'm saying for now, I was not at all pressured and did this of my own accord.
I'm STILL not spending any money north of Stage Road, though!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I stick to state and local because that's what I feel I do best. Draw a 300-mile radius around Memphis, and I can write about it (with a touch of Illinois thrown in for good measure). That's where I can give you something you can't get anywhere else. (No, soandsodem, NOT nausea!)
So, hopefully that's a start. That doesn't mean I won't do a 180 at a later point, though!
(Full disclosure; many, if not most, of my readers know that I have worked in every Chumney campaign, win or lose, and is a long-time friend as well).
While it's easy to dismiss this as a campaign ploy, the fact remains that it's the right thing to do. The city, which for years could look down its nose at Shelby County regarding budgetary matters, can do so no longer.
And, if in fact, many of these problems occurred when Joseph Lee was CFO of the city, given that he is now in charge of MLGW, isn't this something we as a citizenry should have been told SOONER???
I served with Joseph Lee on the ExecCom, he is as nice and kind a human being as you are likely to find, and I do not enjoy what appears to be happening right now. However, we're beyond that at this point, and we need to find out A) what the hell happened, and B) how we can keep this problem from happening again.
Regardless of whether you like or dislike Carol, an independent audit may be the only way we get the straight news on the city's budget crisis. if you live here, you need to get behind this and call your Councilman ASAP.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I'll rip the mayor on Friday, I'm too busy celebrating now. I may not sleep till Sunday.
For the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution, the Chicago White Sox are the World Series Champions, winning 1-0 in Game 4 and sweeping the National League champion Houston Astros. This is for the people of the South Side of Chicago, the long put-upon fans who never gave up on the team, through thick and thin (mostly thin).
This is for Bill Veeck, who is smiling somewhere above us with a beer balanced on his peg leg. This is for Mayor Daley (both of them) and his family. This is for Minnie Minoso and Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio and Billy Pierce, for Gary Peters and Joel Horlen, for Carlton Fisk and Rich Dotson, for Luke Appling and Ted Lyons.
Rejoice South Side, as well as the rest of Chicago, join in the fun! I'm not even there and I will!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Several months ago, you couldn't turn on any of the local newscasts without hearing how Williams had written a "tell-all" book regarding the inner workings of County Government and how sordid it all happened to be, and gee, he was in the middle of it.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I will now cut my own throat… Gays and Lesbians wanted feel free to flaunt their sexuality, excuse me their sexual orientation, which without any doubt is a personal choice, and now have managed to force society to see it their way (meaning that their right)… or at least act like it.
Yes, you read that right. This is 2005, people, that's just ignorant as hell, and the LAST thing one would expect to hear on a PROGRESSIVE talk station.
I've always liked Leon personally, and known him as a Democratic stalwart. However, I would expect to hear that kind of homophobic bullshit on WREC or WCRV, but not on 680! I'm not yet ready to say he should be canned, but Jerry Dean needs to have a talk with him about this, because he ran off a hell of a lot of listeners today.
And, if you think I'M pissed, go read Autoegocrat at Pesky Fly's site. He says it better than I did.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
I was nine MONTHS old the last time a team from Chicago played in the World Series, when the Sox lost in 6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not living in Chicago allows me the pleasure (and agony) of rooting for both the Cubs and the Sox, but between these two teams it has been like walking on hot coals watching them try, and fail, to get to the Series.
I couldn't watch the game until the 8th inning tonight from sheer nerves, as I remember the Cubs 5th game LCS collapse two years ago. It is only now, an hour after the last out, that I have enough composure to even write this.
I know I owe y'all a couple of posts, but it's just going to have to wait.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
We potentially have a situation like that brewing in the SCDP. My friend Del Gill, one of the smartest people I know, is proposing a resolution to the ExecCom that has nuclear potential for the Party if it passes.
It would establish the criteria for a "bona fide" Democrat, and give the power to the ExecCom to deny potential candidates and even current elected officials the right to run as Democrats in the future. There seems to be a question in state law of just how much power the ExecCom has in that regard; they have in fact prevented state legislative candidates in the past from running as Democrats.
However, there is a real question as to whether the ExecCom has the right to deny COUNTY officials or candidates that right. Brother Gill says that the TCA does in fact say that; however, as bright and sharp as he is, he's not a lawyer, and I'd feel more comfortable seeing an appellate opinion that backs up that claim first.
This has been brewing for some time, as in certain Democratic circles there is a deep resentment of Mayor AC Wharton, who some feel did little to help other Democratic candidates in the August 2002 County general elections. That resentment has only deepened recently as Wharton openly endorsed GOP Attorney General incumbent Bill Gibbons. I do understand that feeling well; he beat the hell out of my friend and candidate Carol Chumney in the May 2002 primary.
I also understand the need for party discipline; it's not for nothing that Will Rogers said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!" However, let's bring this back to earth for just a moment, shall we?
1) It's damned near impossible to defeat an incumbent in County races unless that incumbent is under indictment or investigation, and right now there is no Democratic candidate for Attorney General. Given that Wharton has figured out that, short of an untimely demise or an indictment of Gibbons, he'll have to work with him in a second term, he did the smart and prudent thing. Not to mention those lovely crossover votes that this helps bring in the general election.
2) Let's play Bizarro World and say that this passes. Let's say that when the Mayor (I repeat, the MOST POPULAR elected official in Shelby County, even more than the Man Who Would Be Senator) comes to file as a Democrat for re-election, the SCDP says, "uh-uh, not this time."
What do you think will happen here? One, he'll file as an Independent; two, the Republicans may offer him a spot on THEIR ballot, and he would win, or three, the GOP runs someone else, while a Democratic candidate with neither the money nor the organization gets just enough votes to throw that race to the Republicans. Then, Rita Clark is by herself again in the County Building. Friends, that's not cutting your nose off to spite your face, that's DECAPITATING yourself to spite your face.
Not to mention, if you do that, where does it stop? What the hell, I'd have someone to go after any Democrat who supported Otis Jackson against John Freeman in the 2000 Register's race. All that would do is lead to an endless series of recriminations while the party became a meaningless shell and irrelevant in the political life of the County.
OK, Cracker, good points. However, how the hell do we maintain party discipline?
One, you have to build a Ward & Precinct operation that actually makes a difference in the electoral lives of our elected officials. You have to have captains in every precinct and on every street. In this day and age where there's damned little if any patronage to toss out, that's hard to do.
Two, you have to get people excited about being involved, whether they live Downtown or in Collierville, in Millington or Westwood, etc and so forth. We have to GROW the Party, not shrink it right now.
Three, when you get the base larger (and it's not anywhere NEAR big enough, people, trust me), you develop a stronger financial footing and make the SCDP a REAL power that elected officials fear to cross.
When you can do THAT, THEN you can hold the Sword of Damocles over their heads. THEN, they'll listen; now, most would just laugh.
So, those are my thoughts as I await my email from Del in response, which, if he allows, I will share with you. What do YOU think?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
This does several things. One, (please correct me if I'm wrong) this will cause us to stage ANOTHER special election (THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE OFF-YEAR, PEOPLE!!!), spending lots of money for small amounts of voters to vote to replace Ms. Hooks.
Two, this will raise the level of her city pension, which could come in handy if we have a new mayor after 2007 and she is replaced, or if it turns out that she is involved in TENNESSEE WALTZ after all. I'm not saying, I have NO information about that, so calm down.
However, this just smacks of the kind of cronyism that we bitch at the Bu$h Administration about day in and day out. It gets mighty hard to convince people that we are the party of good government when this kind of crap happens.
She may well be extremely qualified; I am not commenting on that at all. But it LOOKS fishy, and SMELLS fishy, so I broke out my filleting knife.
UPDATE: David Holt reports below that a special election will not be necessary; if a fill-in election is held, it will apparently be in concurrence with one of the primaries next year, and the Council will appoint someone to hold down the seat in the interim. Thanks!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Here's an excerpt:
It's the reaction on the right rejecting Miers that is revealing, but not for the reasons typically discussed. The reason why it is revealing is that it shows that the hard right is refusing to settle for mere consolidation of current and near term gains. Their principle objection is that Meiers is not absolutely and nakedly guarenteed to overturn Roe vs. Wade and carry out a pogrom of cleansing left-wing judicial interpretations from the law of the land.
In short the movement conservative "revolution" is still on at least in their heads, and they don't care that the country is having second thoughts and moving away from a hard right ideological sweep. If they want to have it all whether or not there is a popular mandate for them, then that spells trouble, big trouble.
A couple months ago, I said that Ford is a paper tiger. He never had to fight in a campaign with his back to the wall. With the Zogby poll from last week showing him trailing Bryant 51-40, we know he is in a tough spot. During a election when democrats are expected to make big possible gains in both Houses of Congress, one of the “future stars of the party” is going to get beaten handily. From the descriptions of what happened at the coffee, Ford seems to be buckling under the pressure.
During the coffee, Ford took questions from the attendees. They asked very pointed questions about the bankruptcy bill, Schiavo, his failure to vote on the budget rather than miss the coon dinner, and other issues. Apparently during the questioning, something snapped in Ford’s head. Maybe he realized that these were democratic activists who, no matter what he would do, will not support him and he doesn’t have a chance of winning without them. Ford became agitated by the questions, snapping at the audience and dismissing their views. He raised his voice several times. Afterwards, attendees described Ford as coming “unglued.” To add insult to injury, Rosiland Kurita appeared at coffee hosted by Democracy for Nashville three weeks later. She was smooth as could be and did well.
Go read the rest of it...
Sunday, October 09, 2005
While the Fly will lend his writing skills from time to time, they will be joined by Jeff Crook, The Political Junkie, and Kibitzer.
Go on, go over there, I sure do!
Friday, October 07, 2005
photos from WMAQ-TV and Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago White Sox, after a mere 88 years, swept out the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park this afternoon by the score of 5-3. They will play the winner of the Anaheim Angels-New York Yankees series beginning next week in the American League Championship Series.
Not living in Chicago, I can get away with rooting for both the Cubs and the Sox (when they play, I pull for the Cubs), so I am delirious at this moment. I have survived the Sox losing in the ALCS in 1983 and 1993, and being beaten in the 2000 ALDS by Seattle, despite having had the best record in the AL that year.
However, they never, EVER give up, despite being down earlier in the day, even adding an insurance run in the 9th on a suicide squeeze by Juan Uribe, bringing in the lumbering AJ Pierzcinski.
I feel a purchase of champagne is in order later this evening; if I'm not too hung over, I'll see you at Democratic Women tomorrow!
Here's a dead-on point:
Success in our society is, in the vast majority of cases, about relationship management. It’s about securing your place, pleasing the right people and everybody scratching each others backs. I’ve even come to see the ways in which it makes sense, and how if it doesn’t devolve into complete corrupt cronyism it can work. (After all, you don’t want to recommend someone who doesn’t work out, do you?)
But I add this personal knowledge of both types of work to an understanding of the structure of the economy as a whole – a structure that demands that there be a lot of people who have low paying jobs where they are treated like shit. Those jobs are “necessary” in the sense that the economy is simply set up that way. For that matter, unemployment is necessary, Marx didn’t get it wrong when he talked about the “reserve army of the unemployed” and deliberate government policy makes people unemployed. You can ask Volcker about that.
So when people talk to me about merit, I have a hard time not spitting in their face. It’s not that merit doesn’t exist, even merit that is not related to your “relationship management” skills and it’s not that it’s never rewarded. In fact the rule of merit, is that you do have to be competent enough to not actually screw up anything more than your relationship management skills are capable of smoothing over. (FEMA's Brown may wish to consider this rule when picking future jobs.)
No, I'm not talking about Harold the Younger, as the latest Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll shows that Ed Bryant is kicking his ass, 51-40. I'm not talking about the Republican scheisskopf masquerading as a Democrat, Phil Bredesen, who will be re-elected with Republican votes.
I am talking about the county races, since many people actually believe that the clerk races matter.
Let's look at it, shall we? As long as AC Wharton continues to breathe, he will have no trouble being re-elected as County Mayor; he's still the most beloved figure in the County.
Are there any Democrats looking at taking on Sheriff Mark Luttrell? If so, I've not heard of it, and frankly, if they're not out talking to people and raising money NOW, they really don't have a prayer in hell of winning.
Now, here's where I'm kind of pissed; HAVE WE NO DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS THAT HAVE THE GUTS TO RUN AGAINST BILL GIBBONS??? For crying out loud, HE CAN BE TAKEN! Is it that no one wants to have to clean up after him? I do not get this; I firmly believe that if we had a real solid candidate against him, Wharton would NOT have endorsed him.
OK, what's left? County Clerk? Janis Fullilove, if you ARE running for this office, get out there now and start campaigning, girlfriend, you have a chance here. Why? Because it appears that Marilyn Loeffel is going to challenge Jayne Creson's personal choice for a successor, Debbie Stamson (wife of Steve, the JC clerk) in the GOP primary, potentially resulting in a bloodbath where they all hate each other afterwards.
The other races? Well, if A) you have money, and B) you can convince Shelby County taxpayers that the incumbent is a mismanaging idiot that's wasting their hard-earned tax dollars, you MIGHT have a chance to win. Also, C), you are going to have to go door-to-door and campaign hard in EVERY sector of the county. Even, then, due to the power of incumbency, that may not be enough.
So, SCDP, y'all need to be out looking for people who meet that criteria. You also need to talk people who DO NOT meet that criteria out of running. Some folks run every time and get their ass kicked; the voters have spoken, get over it.
OK, that's what I have, what say you?
I apologize for not bringing to your attention sooner the blog of Downtown maven Carol Coletta, Smart City Memphis. It's linked down and to your right on the Blogroll and it's worth reading for her daily take on this city and how it's run, and not just by the Administration of God, er, WWH.
You may also be familiar with her NPR show, Smart City, which I believe is on WKNO-FM on Sunday mornings (too early for the Cracker to hear it!)
In any event, today she nails it regarding the reported attempt of Justin Timberlake to buy up the Sun and Stax record labels and rebuild them. Go read it while I decompress from all this Fields business.....
At least for now, the Party's self-immolation was avoided, and we will all work together, at least until the next crisis. All members of each SCDP committee were approved, so I am now officially a member of the Bylaws committee, and I am ready to tear into them as soon as possible, to prevent ANY problems like we experienced from happening in the future.
It is now time for the rest of the ExecCom to get down to the business of serious financial planning. The long awaited plan to have automatic-bankdraft contributions had to be delayed when the Louisiana bank they had chosen was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina; I have been advised that they have things about ready to go with another financial institution, so that's good. I promise to sign up as soon as it's ready. Annual fundraisers are nice, but steady income is always a winner.
Let's all take a deep breath, and then show up at the Democratic Women's meeting Saturday at noon at the Blue Monkey on Madison. Matt will talk about how this all went down, and how gunfire and weeping and gnashing of teeth were avoided at the last possible moment. Well, at least I think he was going to talk about the Fields issue, according to the DWSC newsletter!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
2) That it took the State Democratic Party Chair to broker this deal; the question we need to ask is why?
3) That when we address the issue of expulsion, we need to make clear who can do it and who can and can't be expelled.
4) That while we are nicer to each other, there are still issues out there that turn us into rabid badgers ready to rip out each other's lungs.
5) That we need to be damned careful who we go after. I understand there is enormous frustration with AC Wharton because he has come out for Gibbons for AG; but who has stepped up on the Democratic side against Gibbons? As tough as it is to win countywide, especially when ousting an unindicted incumbent, if no one has stepped up by now, it's mighty unlikely that anyone will be able to knock Gibbons off next August. Since the Mayor has to work with the AG, he's just covering his bases.
Also, there's this: AC is STILL, I maintain, the most popular Democratic elected official in this county, so it's best not to piss him off unless you have someone to replace him.
So, take care of yourself and each other.
Oh shit, that's the Jerry Springer ending! Oh well, maybe it's appropriate today....
Here's the pertinent update:
According to one informed source, Fields has agreed to resign from the local committee with the option to run again when a vacancy occurs. Meanwhile, he is apparently free to continue litigating on Roland's behalf.
BECAUSE THE BYLAWS DON'T GIVE THEM THE FREAKING POWER TO DO SO!
Here, my friends, is the appropriate section:
3.0 The membership of this Organization shall be composed of every citizen of Shelby County, Tennessee, who shares the ideal[s] and goals of the Democratic Party.
3.1 No member shall show disloyalty to the Democratic Party by supporting candidates running against Democrats either in the form of a public announcement of support of a candidate of another party in a pending election, or by working for or giving financial support to any such candidate running against aa duly nominated candidate of the Democratic Party.
3.2 If a member provides public and/or financial support to a candidate opposing a Democrat, that member will be given the opportunity to resign. Howver, should that member decide not to resign, after evidence is presented to the Executive Committee, that member shall be expelled during a regular Party meeting from the committee without prejudice of running to serve on the Executive Commitee in the future.
3.3 A member who violates Article III, Section 3.1 of this Chapter can be expelled by two-thirds of the County Party's membership present and voting.
Because of the way that this is written, we would need to call a CONVENTION to expel Richard Fields. If it said that 2/3 of the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE membership could expel him the fight would be on; however, it DOESN'T.
This is why we are going to have to painstakingly rewrite the bylaws that we rewrote during the 2001-2003 term to ensure that this does not happen again; if the Executive Committee approves, I will be on that special committee, working with attorneys and prior Party Chairs to fix the holes in this document.
As I voted for this during that term, I have to take responsibility for my part in passing it.
I assure you, we will fix this document.
Jackson Baker is on the case about this idiotic compromise that has been proposed that would have Richard Fields take a "leave of absence" from the ExecCom while he fights to keep an elected Democratic official from taking office (she has been sworn in!). Jackson aptly sums up the stupidity of this idea:
Supposin’ a husband should call a meeting of his wife and kiddies, sit them down, and tell them he’s going to be gone for a few weeks, or until he straightens out the personal burdens of a deserving foxy lady he’s taken up with. “We can just suspend the family until then,” he says with his best sincere smile.
Anybody who thinks this one will fly — or deserves to — is someone who has just come into the world. Born yesterday — and unlikely to see many more days in anything resembling peace and quiet.As Frank Burhart says, what the hell are they thinking?
Remember, Ophelia Ford wasn't my first, second, third, fourth or even 95th choice for Senate 29 - but she WAS nominated AND elected by the people of that district. As an attorney, Fields has a right to take the case; however, as a member of the Executive Committee to which he took an oath of loyalty he does NOT have that right, thus the conflict of interest.
Let me also ask you this: if Henri Brooks were the nominee and had beaten Terry Roland by 13 votes, do you honestly think Fields would be busting his ass to investigate this? Of course not.
This whole event is about far more than anyone named Ford. If you are a Democrat, this is about maintaining the integrity of the Executive Committee. Local bylaws can be MORE restrictive than the state bylaws, but not LESS, so Fields has that backwards.
When you have an issue that unites William Larsha with the Ford folks, you have something solid. There can be NO compromise here, not without making the Executive Committee look like spineless wimps who will allow anything to happen and not provide punishment.
Let me ask you another question: if this were Bizarro World where Roland WON by 13 votes and John Ryder stepped up and said that he thought the Republicans might have stolen the election, and he was going to provide FREE counsel to Ophelia Ford, what on earth do you think the GOP would do to him? THEY sure as hell wouldn't be dilly-dallying over whether they would get bad publicity or not, they would toss him into the river with anchors tied to his body (figuratively, OK?).
A Party that refuses to stand up for its nominees is NOT a party worthy of our support. If they refuse to expel Fields, in the event he refuses to resign, they won't see another dime from me for at least the next two years. I urge other concerned Shelby County Democrats to contact their district reps and tell them to throw out Fields on Thursday night.
To Matt and the Executive Committee: we'll be watching, because you're sure not keeping me out of there Thursday night.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
This is a clear violation of the SCDP bylaws. Period. End of discussion.
Here is an excerpt:
What is the Shelby County Democratic Party thinking? Richard Fields has gone off the reservation and now wants to drag the Party with him. I first heard about Fields doing pro bono work for Terry Roland and the republicans a couple weeks ago. To me it was a no brainer, he has to be thrown off the Executive Committee. I don’t care what his motivation for attempting to give a democratically elected Senate seat to the republicans is. The problem is, he didn’t come to the Party to try to work out his concerns about the vote. If the Party didn’t take action that satisfied him, then Fields should have resigned and then gone to work with the republicans. But some how, there is talk now in the Party’s Executive Committee of a compromise. WTF?! Fields has been able to turn this from a simple issue of Party rules into a debate based on rhetoric of clean elections. Richard Fields took an oath and he broke that oath by working against a Democratic candidate and now certified elected official. Some are going to say, clean elections help the Party in the long run. That is true. The problem is he didn’t go about this the right way. If you break the law, cops don’t ask you about your motivation, they just arrest you. Well, the Shelby County Democratic Party must fulfill is duty and throws Fields out.
I agree. The post also notes that Fields has been participating in regular conference calls with John Ryder and Ed Bryant. Yes, you read that right.
We are now beyond the point of requesting resignation; this demands that Fields be expelled from the ExecCom. One CANNOT provide advise and counsel to a Republican nominee while serving on the board of directors (ExecCom) of the Democratic Party. Any suggestion to the contrary is just an act of dissemblance.
Friday, September 30, 2005
God's Own Party, yes, those wonderful people who never hesitate to let you know of their moral superiority, seem to be in a world of ethical trouble, as this Ari Berman piece in THE NATION informs us.
Regarding DeLay's indictment:
The indictment sent a shock wave through the GOP establishment, which is already reeling from a mass of criminal and ethics investigations. Three individuals, eight corporations and two political action committees connected to DeLay have been indicted as a result of the probe. In addition, the government's top procurement official, David Safavian, was arrested in September for obstructing a criminal investigation of über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close DeLay ally. Abramoff himself is under criminal investigation for defrauding Indian tribes and was indicted for wire fraud in Florida in a separate case. Top White House aides, including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, have been targeted by a special prosecutor investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham announced he would not run for re-election after overselling his house by $700,000 to a military industry lobbyist. FDA chief Lester Crawford resigned unexpectedly after just two months on the job, possibly because of failure to report his wife's sizable pharmaceutical-industry holdings. And DeLay's Senate counterpart, Bill Frist, is battling possible insider-trading charges for dumping millions in HCA stock, a company founded by his father and run by his brother, weeks before it plunged in value. The US Attorney in Manhattan and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Frist and HCA in September.
Gee, I wonder if any of them asked themselves before doing these things, what would Jesus do?
One nice outcome of this is that it might finish the political career of Tennessee's most famous kitty-killer, Bill Frist. He had already planned not to seek re-election to focus on a possible presidential run, but after this, he may have to return to upper-management position at HCA. Poor bastard.
Also, with Judy Miller being given the all-clear to testify by her source, Scooter Libby, one has to wonder what will come out next?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
As an attorney, if he truly believes that Terry Roland was wronged by the Shelby County Election Commission, he has the right to take the case IF he removes the conflict of interest, which is that he sits on the board of directors, or Executive Committee, of the Shelby County Democratic Party.
As I noted below, the only ways to remove the conflict of interest that he faces are either to drop the case or resign his seat on the Committee. It would be appreciated if this were to happen with all deliberate speed.
Rightly so, this has triggered an ouster motion by committeeman Del Gill (D-85). A procedure for due process has been recommended to SCDP Chair Matt Kuhn, who will then consider whether to use it.
Let us remember that the issue is THIS: Richard Fields took an oath of loyalty to the Democratic Party essentially stating that whatever he has done in the past, in the future, he will agree to support our party's nominees REGARDLESS of circumstance. He is held to an even higher standard as a member of that Party's Board of Directors, the ExecCom, in accordance with the Bylaws.
In the final analysis, I suspect he will be given three options: 1) stop assisting Terry Roland, 2) if he refuses, he will be asked to resign his seat, 3) if he refuses that as well, a vote will be held by the ExecCom to determine whether he will be stripped of his seat, which they have every right to do.
What Mr. Fields does as a private citizen is one thing; however, he cannot take action against a nominee of the Party on whose board of directors he currently sits.
Monday, September 26, 2005
The site of Pickett's Charge.
As the descendent of Union veterans, I rather enjoyed that.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I will be going to Gettysburg to see Little Round Top and celebrate the glorious Union victory (there WILL be pictures), then through the Amish country as we wind our way to Philly for a few days, with a wonderful windup at the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA!
Please keep the GOP from stealing the landslide victory of Ophelia while I'm gone.....
Friday, September 16, 2005
However, the affection for the Ford family is apparently not what it once was. Granted, one always expects a lower turnout for a special election. Even so, Kathryn Bowers (pre-indictment) didn't have this much trouble with Mary Ann McNeil when she took the District 33 seat of Roscoe Dixon back in May.
It apparently took robo-calls and last-minute canvassing for Ford to overcome the 424-vote lead that Terry Roland had built up during the Early Voting period. Also undoubtedly breathing a deep sigh of relief was Lt. Governor John Wilder. While Wilder would not have faced another speaker election (my mistake from an earlier post), it would have been tougher for him to maintain control of the Senate with an 18-15 deficit.
No doubt that the GOP, who threatened to bring in a "shitload of lawyers" to contest the result, will spin this as the end of Ford dominance in Big Shelby. Also, no doubt that those on my side of the aisle will spin this as close, but a sign that the name still means something. It must, because it's really all she had until everyone rushed to her aid this week.
What does this portend for Harold the Younger, who needs to wonder why it was this difficult to elect his aunt to a seat that has belonged to his family for 30 years? If that's the case, what must it be like outside the friendly confines of Big Shelby? I suspect that they believe that a Ford is a Ford is a Ford, no matter how young Harold tries to spin things.
That, more than anything else, could seal his doom for 2006.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
We saw the beginnings of this in 99 when Senior decided to run his brother and not himself for mayor. We've seen it with the prayerful grooming of Junior for a run at a Senate seat, waiting out first Thompson and Frist. We've seen it with John self destructing like an out of control rock star. And now Ophelia is going to lose a seat she should not have been defending in the first place.
Optimistic, eh? Stand by and we'll see what happens tonight.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
However, here's the deal: we need to help her win this race. WHY?
Let me tell you this: if Terry Roland wins on September 15, it will go from 17-16 GOP to 18-15. If that happens, they can call for a new speaker election, and there's no way in hell that Wilder will be able to hold off Ron Ramsey then; the pressure on Mike Williams and Randy McNally will be too much to bear.
If Ramsey wins, there goes our chairmanships in the Senate. Not only that, if Wilder loses his speakership, then I suspect he will resign his Senate seat, and I am not confident that we would keep it.
THAT would make it 19-14 GOP.
If you think BREDESEN screwed up TennCare (as I do), wait until a Republican Senate gets a hold of it. They will be able to block anything our Democratic House could pass, and we would have virtual gridlock that brings the state to a standstill.
That's what at stake, and that's why we need to help Ophelia, it's a lot bigger than her.
So, here's the latest:
Saturday, September 10, 2005, 10:30 a.m. - ALL HANDS ON DECK! Press Conference and Breakfast at the Ophelia Ford for State Senate campaign headquarters, Southgate Shopping Center, 1897 South Third Street. Come and volunteer for a door-to-door Get-Out-The-Vote on election day, Thursday, September 15. We want as many party and community leaders as possible at this event to promote the last day of early voting and discuss plans for the final week of this important election. Deputy Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Jerry Maynard from Nashville will be our special guest along with other elected officials and party members. For more information call 774-8400 or 323-3290.
Friday, September 09, 2005
In the meantime, MyDD.com is reporting that Senator Clinton is sponsoring a bill to restore FEMA to Cabinet-level and restore its' primary function. I am certain that will go over with the GOP leadership like the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.
Never EVER forget that the mission of this Administration is to prove that government is incompetent and we should privatize all of these functions. Senator Clinton's attempt to restore professionalism to government is in keeping with her husband's Administration, the most competent ever.
It's a tragedy how far we've come.
There may indeed be method in Bush’s madness. The time-tested way to get rid of an unwanted program is to put an incompetent in charge of it. Bush had downgraded FEMA. Disaster relief is a job for state and local governments, not the federal government, he said. Never mind that a state or a city, in a disaster as cataclysmic as Katrina, cannot requisition the forces to do the job like FEMA is empowered to do, especially if a third of the state’s militia, including those trained for such duty, is fighting in Iraq. Over the weekend, he was blaming state and local governments for the failings that fed and compounded the suffering.
Dumas also points out this lovely tidbit:
The bungling had been so bad after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that Floridians voted in Bill Clinton. Recalling that, the younger Bush had FEMA take extra precautions to prevent its recurrence during the hurricane and election season of 2004. The agency flung billions of dollars around Florida after Hurricane Frances and other storms. The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported this spring that FEMA had paid for the funerals of 319 people in Florida in the fall, although only a few of the deaths had anything even remotely to do with the hurricanes. One was for the funeral of a millionaire supporter of Bush at Palm Beach Gardens, who died of complications from heart surgery two days before Hurricane Frances. Another died of cirrhosis five months after Hurricane Charley. Thanks to George Bush, you picked up the funeral tabs.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Comment on the timeline here.
Friday, August 26
GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: [Office of the Governor]
GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]
Saturday, August 27
5AM — KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE [CNN]
GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” [Office of the Governor]
FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House]
Sunday, August 28
2AM – KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE [CNN]
7AM – KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE [CNN]
MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]
9:30 AM — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES FIRST EVER MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS: “We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event.” [Times-Picayune]
4PM – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service]
AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’” [Times-Picayune; St. Petersburg Times]
LATE PM – REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune]
APPROXIMATELY 30,000 EVACUEES GATHER AT SUPERDOME WITH ROUGHLY 36 HOURS WORTH OF FOOD [Times-Picayune]
Monday, August 29
7AM – KATRINA MAKES LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE [CNN]
8AM – MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]
MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]
MORNING – BUSH SHARES BIRTHDAY CAKE PHOTO-OP WITH SEN. JOHN MCCAIN [White House]
11AM — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]
LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]
11:30AM — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]
2PM — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]
9PM — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]
Tuesday, August 30
9AM – BUSH SPEAKS ON IRAQ AT NAVAL BASE CORONADO [White House]
MIDDAY – CHERTOFF FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” [Meet the Press, 9/4/05]
PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: “Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.” [WWL-TV]
MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]
U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]
3PM – PRESIDENT BUSH PLAYS GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS [AP]
BUSH RETURNS TO CRAWFORD FOR FINAL NIGHT OF VACATION [AP]
Wednesday, August 31
TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: “A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. ‘We pee on the floor. We are like animals,’ said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming.”" [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]
PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [,%208/31/05]
80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]
3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: “With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one’s priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions.” [Times-Picayune]
5PM — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: “Nothing about the president’s demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.” [New York Times]
8:00PM – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]
9PM — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]
Thursday, September 1
8AM — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]
STILL NO COMMAND AND CONTROL ESTABLISHED: Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Homeland Security Director: “This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.” [Fox News]
2PM — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES “DESPERATE SOS” TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: “This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don’t anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies.” [Guardian, 9/2/05]
2PM — MICHAEL BROWN CLAIMS NOT TO HAVE HEARD OF REPORTS OF VIOLENCE: “I’ve had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I’ve had no reports of that.” [CNN]
NEW ORLEANS “DESCEND[S] INTO ANARCHY”: “Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. ‘This is a desperate SOS,’ the mayor said.” [AP]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]
MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY LEARNS OF EVACUEES IN CONVENTION CENTER: “We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.” [CNN]
Friday, September 2
ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]
9:35AM — BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” [White House, 9/2/05]
10 AM — PRESIDENT BUSH STAGES PHOTO-OP “BRIEFING”: Coast Guard helicopters and crew diverted to act as backdrop for President Bush’s photo-op.
BUSH VISIT GROUNDS FOOD AID: “Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.” [Times-Picayune]
LEVEE REPAIR WORK ORCHESTRATED FOR PRESIDENT’S VISIT: Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9/3: “Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.” [Sen. Mary Landrieu]
BUSH USES 50 FIREFIGHTERS AS PROPS IN DISASTER AREA PHOTO-OP: A group of 1,000 firefighters convened in Atlanta to volunteer with the Katrina relief efforts. Of those, “a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew’s first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.” [Salt Lake Tribune; Reuters]
3PM — BUSH “SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE”: “I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results.” [AP]
Saturday, September 3
SENIOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL LIES TO WASHINGTON POST, CLAIMS GOV. BLANCO NEVER DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY: The Post reported in their Sunday edition “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” They were forced to issue a correction hours later. [Washington Post, 9/4/05]
9AM — BUSH BLAMES STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS: “[T]he magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need.” [White House, 9/3/05]