Friday, June 09, 2006

Brassmask keeps it going!

B has a pretty good rant of his own going about the cranky bloggers week and why it needs to be ENCOURAGED.

Here's a taste:

This blogger's opinion is that we should embrace the angry liberal label. We have every right in the world to be angry. The city we live in and love IS dilapidated and run in an oligarchical fashion. Criminals and corruption DO abound in our local government and not enough of them are being pointed out and removed mostly, from what I can tell, due to out and out ignorance and/or complicity. Our country HAS been hijacked by a cult of neo-conservative wackjobs who think the US can do no wrong and we can kill or capture anyone they deem our enemies.

And in light of all that crap, why shouldn't we let our anger burn white hot? Let's not "beat them at their own game". Let's not even acknowledge they have a game or a even a field to play it on. Let's not just accept the status quo. Let's not now say again, "Well, that's just the way things are" and let the anger cool and get back in line.

Let's use it. Let's put that white hot anger to use. Let it keep us warm on snow-covered battlefields. Let's use it. Let it be an internal power source. Let's focus it like a laser on the problems at hand.

Let's start with the Shelby County Democratic Party.



Desi Franklin said...

Ok, so all of the bloggers are angry this week. Well, alrighty then. Everybody please pay attention.

Polar Donkey has discovered what many of us have known for twenty or thirty years. Memphis has problems with poverty and blight. You should have looked around back in the late seventies and early eighties if you think this is bad. There have been and still are a number of people who have become leaders for change - long before the blogosphere allowed folks who used to just bitch at the P&H to publish their bitching to whoever wanders onto their blogs.

I know some of you are and have been very involved working for change in local leadership. To the rest of you, I say, quit demanding that Matt Kuhn or "the Shelby County Democratic Party" do things - as if you were watching a show or a parade from the sidewalk. Politics is a participatory activity. Either get involved, roll up your sleeves and work for change yourselves or spare us your opinions. Most of us working for change already have our own opinions and don't need a bunch of others from people unless they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Volunteer to help the local party with SOMETHING - candidate recruitment, ward and precinct work, voter education, youth involvement, working in a campaign of someone you support, WHATEVER. If you don't want to do it as a Democrat, then work with New Path.

You might find that the problems are sometimes complex and can't be solved instantaneously or by demanding that someone hold a press conference. But you might make a difference even if a small one.

And then your rants might mean something instead of being just a bunch of arm chair quarterback opinions.

Brassmask said...

You think you've seen bitchin'? Lady, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Corruption is not a complex problem. You're either fer it or agin it. And if its too much to ask the Chairman to step out and declare he's agin it, then maybe there should be a new, less "waffly on corruption" Chairman. I've met Matt once or twice and he's a nice enough guy. I'd like to see him get out there and hammer on the criminals. If we can't hammer on criminals and force them out of the party, why do I want to be a Democrat?

The empowerment some people might feel seeing a local leader of the party get out there and use these regrets to clean up the party could actually bring some people who think the local party is made up of criminals and hacks for the most part. But why would anyone want to volunteer for a party who just sweeps everything under the rug and takes no stands? They would't.

From what I can see of you on the net, you're connected to Mid South Democrats In Action, so what's the big deal about Kuhn getting out there and doing some real Action? You'd think you'd be for that. It's not MS Democrats Inaction, is it? (Surely that gets used a lot by people.)

What could possibly be the complex problem that would prevent the Democratic Party saying they don't want corrupt polticians in their party? Sunlight is the greatest antiseptic.

As for volunteering: I've volunteered and for the most part, I was treated a) as a suspicious threat or b) as an imposition. But then I was a Deaniac at the time (and still am) and so that may have had a lot to do with it. But I'm hanging in there and trying to help out and attend where I can. Just because you don't know me, doesn't mean I'm not known.

polar donkey said...

Hahaha, Desi noticed poverty in Memphis thirty years ago. Is that's why she was voting in Republican primaries, because those republican's are all about solving poverty. It's simple, just get rich.

As for your line of argument "willing to put their money where their mouth is." What do you know of the things people do in there lives and civic participation? Aside from you seeing me at me at my job and at some ExCom meetings, when have we ever seen each other. So what (like Dell says) if I'm not Leadership Memphis certifide, a lawyer at famous law firm, or in New Path. (You know I'm not a big fan of Henri Brooks, but she said one thing I agree with, New Path doesn't have too much credibility. It's a "grass roots" proxy organization for Memphis Tomorrow.)

What prompted this outburst by you Desi? People may poke fun at your sense of humor or political tin ear, but who's gone after your civic participation in a blog since last June? I'll admit I get rough on my blog, but I try to be entertaining while giving some information of which people may not be aware. But I'd like to thank you for your shrill comment posting, because you "have brought the demon" and I'm sure many fellow armchair quarterback bloggers will jump in on this flamewar much like my brother in arms Brassmark has.

autoegocrat said...

Desi, you could have saved yourself all that typing if you had just simply told us to "shut up." Not as polite, for sure, but it's a much more succint way to get that particular point across.

If you can't see the point of bitching and complaining, I have to seriously call into question both your political acumen and your consciousness of American history. Can you name one political movement that didn't begin with the published bitchings of a dissatisfied minority? This great republic of ours owes its genesis to bitching and complaining, particularly in print.

You seem to labor under the impression that people with differing or controversial opinions, like little children, are not to speak unless first spoken to. I would submit to you that a shortage of meaningful debate is exactly how we got into this mess in the first place.

You seem to have plenty of opinions of your own, so I'll make you a deal: I'll volunteer (doing so anyway) if you'll start a blog.

Desi Franklin said...

To all of you thin skinned bloggers who are now "bitching" at me, it is a fair point that I don't know you all - leaving aside WTL and Cracker - and what you do (other than having worked with PD on the 2005 county convention). I guess I don't get the need for the anonymity - that's part of putting your money where your mouth is in my view - very few who post on these blogs use their real names so that people can know who it is that is taking a stand in case they want to disagree. What's up with that?

But I digress.

I seem to have struck a nerve. What is it with the overarching need to pontificate? And I do not mean by saying that, "shut up". What I mean is that publishing your opinions is fine, but what we really need is action - unglamorous, at times boring, sustained, team oriented action by thoughtful folks like you for the causes you believe in, even when it takes putting up with (or put more positively, building relationships with) people who treat you with suspicion, disagree with you sometimes or even actively oppose you all the time. Getting involved and not sitting on the sidewalk criticizing the parade is definitely not nonstop fun, and it can seem like any progress is achingly slow and small, but to me it's much more likely than spouting off on a blog to achieve the better quality of leadership we want for our city and county (not to mention the larger national sphere) - with brains, integrity, a progressive and inclusive outlook, maybe if we're lucky some vision and, dare I say it, some practical business sense that might result in fiscal responsibility instead of $2 billion in county debt.

It is ironic to me that this bloggers group likes to pontificate publicly as much as any wealthy white male client I've ever dealt with and, trust me, as I'm sure PD would like to point out given my employment with (mostly Republican) Baker, Donelson, I've dealt with more than a few in my time. So quit throwing stones at Memphis Tomorrow and their ilk, PD.

Furthermore, Desoto County and Collierville are populated with lots of people who are not rich and never will be, but who have run away from the problems of our urban area. Throwing stones at rich people may be easy, but it's just a tad bit overly simplistic.

And I sure don't get the cheap shot at New Path. Do you know who they are and where they come from and what they do? Try finding these things out from the primary sources before you criticize. Do you think that their goals might be a threat to the leadership status quo, and that might be the motivation for them to be dismissed by those who've been in power locally? Come on, PD.

As for MSDIA, PD can tell you that MSDIA, formed by some previously inactive people who were devastated by the 2004 presidential election results (including several Deaniacs), got over our initial negative attitudes about the local party and set about to get involved in a serious way to try and upset the old tired factional dynamics. And by partnering with DFM, we brought 165 people out of about 450 to the county caucuses. And a significant number of the current executive committee is made up of folks with MSDIA and/or DFM. One of my biggest fears when we chose our name was that we wouldn't take any action and would end up looking foolish, but instead I ended up being shocked by the effect of our collective action. But just because we were able to upset the dynamics does not mean the old factionalism isn't still there or that our group doesn't have to do the hard work of building relationships with the party old timers and others who don't look like us if we ultimately want to have any sustained effect on the local party (and as a byproduct be plugged into political change at the national level). That takes, sorry to repeat, unglamorous, at times boring, sustained team oriented action.

Now some, PD comes to mind, might not have agreed with some of MSDIA's actions or with some of the current "new" executive committee members' positions on various issues, no problem there, we're all entitled to our opinions, but I think if you ask any experienced member of the executive committee they would tell you there is no shortage of commitment to hard work by this new group to try to raise money, work for candidates, help with ward and precinct and PR, etc. That work is one of the best opportunities in Memphis to work with others who may be vastly different from you to achieve common community goals.

So, by all means, opine away. Poke fun, whatever, I have thick skin.

But get out there and be the change you want to see - and, autoegrat, thanks for the offer, but I don't feel the need to pontificate very often, so this forum will do.

David Holt said...

So what happens when everyone is right? Do we all hold hands and sing kumbaya? I doubt it, and that would take all the fun out of things anyways.

I think's Desi's point about the need for people to actually do more than talk when it comes to making a change is a valid one. As Dean said "We are the ones we've been waiting for." No use waiting for some progressive knight on a white horse to come save us. We have to put in the grunt work ourselves. I like to think I've been doing that, but that's besides the point.

On the otherhand, I think blogs are quite useful as a forum for political debate, information, etc. It's not like someone is forced to come here. People do because they want to have an idea of what's going on and put forth their own opinions, etc. I've seen numerous instances where things said on blogs have had a strong influence (both good and bad and I am sure Desi could name some bad ones)on things that have happened in real life. I see blogs as similar to the old papers of the revolution. Radicals and rabble-rousers both reasonable and not spoke their minds and fanned the flames that led to action. Blogs help people to give voice to their thoughts and that's a very good thing. It's a very democratic medium with a small d. Are they enough on their own? Not at all, but that doesn't mean that they're without merit. The fact that you read them seems to imply that you don't either.

Anonymous said...


I became acquainted with you at the law school. It seems your leadership style has not improved since then.

You paint bloggers here with a very broad brush.

First, you do not know how much I personally have done politically before you ever came on the scene, nor do you know what I am doing right now, in large part because I operate on the adage that there's no limit what you can get done if you don't insist on taking credit for it. Not being omniscient, you also do not know what every other person you addressed has done and is doing that you would value.

Second, there are Tom Paines and there are Sam Adamses; and who is to say whose contributions are more crucial, or whose talents at pamphleteering should be subordinated to work others not similarly talented can do? I get hits worldwide and from the US Courts network in DC. I get personal emails from nationally syndicated columnists. I suspect someone on the NY Times editorial staff is borrowing from me now and then: most recently, today.

Third, changes in voting patterns -- especially when, as locally, they are complicated by ethnic history and transitional inertia -- can be damned glacial. Sometimes it requires the patience of the Chinese to await and seize the proper moment for successful improvement activities.

Finally, I do not get into back-and-forth flame wars online. I helped pioneer this form of communication back in the early 80's before there was an Internet; and I shoot my best shot on the front end and move on. Leopards, especially older ones, don't change their spots. A broadside like yours here is not going to get anyone to join your parade.

I will append a question, though: Are you backing Nikki Tinker?

autoegocrat said...

Look Desi, if you want to come on here to talk, let's talk. But your purpose today limits itself to one single avenue of approach: to tell the bloggers exactly where they can stick their opinions.

You have not struck any deep nerve with us, Desi. You knew before you typed your first keystroke that you were not here to inspire, educate, ennoble, or enlighten. You came here to tell us why you are better than us, and you commit this calumnity, as you rightly pointed out, all while having no idea who we are. If anyone's got a case of the nerves, it's you.

If our identities were truly at issue, you had a perfect chance to settle it last night. There we all were, with our bare mugs hanging out. Why, I even showed my driver's license to the bartender. Damn near blew my cover.

I don't disagree with much of what you say, but there is a certain irony in your own complaints. Do you see it? In order to give vent to your criticisms of us bloggers and our no-account ways, you are constrained to make use of the very vehicle of expression you so casually deride.

By coming here to say what you said, when you had a perfect opportunity to come and say it to our faces last night, you prove the worth of the medium by making such effective use of it yourself.

Desi Franklin said...

a) I guess it's obvious that I like and read blogs - I agree with David Holt's take on blogs. An incredible example of the influence of blogs is DailyKos and MyDD's influence on Howard Dean's ascension to chair of the DNC.

b) I'm not down on bloggers generally, just on people who sit back and criticize others who are working hard. My message is this: instead of sitting back and taking potshots at others, work it yourself for awhile. Or, if that's an unfair statement because all of you bloggers are doers, too, then tell us about what you're up to that's making a difference. It's not bragging or taking credit inappropriately, it's information.

c) Re the bloggers party - I have a 14 year old so like a lot of interesting things, it wasn't on my radar screen. I was busy hauling boys around to movies and fast food joints. Maybe next time.

d) I am not supporting Nikki Tinker although I like her.

polar donkey said...

Thanks Wintermute and Autoegocrat for bringing my mellow back. I woke up Saturday morning with a good mellow. I had a fun time at the blogger bash and was excited about the future plans of the blogging community here in Memphis. Then I checked this site. WTF!, Desi cramped my mellow. I was going to bring the demon this morning but you both said everything I was thinking in a much nicer way. So good bye cramped mellow, hello pancakes. Happy 50th birthday Desi.

David Holt said...

And happy mellow to you.

autoegocrat said...

Hmm... how to put this simply? It's difficult to describe the action of something that is evolving before your eyes, but here goes.

All I will try to explain here is the value of "sit[ing] back and criticize[ing] others who are working hard." Hard work alone does not guarantee success, and it therefore should not make one immune to criticism.

Let me begin by stating unreservedly that I'm not dishing out anything I'm unwilling to take. I work hard, I get criticized all the time, and I am better for it. Sometimes it's easier for someone else to pluck the mote from my eye than it is for me to do it myself. Sometimes I don't even know it's there. Taken with enough humility, this medicine need not be a bitter pill.

1. The victims of our ire are better equipped to deal with us if they know what they're doing that makes us angry.

Case in point: Harold Ford Jr. Never in a million years could those of us who feel betrayed by him have said to his face what we want to say to his face. It's not because we don't have the nerve, it's because we don't have access to his face.

Now he knows we're here, what we think, and why we're upset with him, and it's up to him to decide what to do about us. Wtihout blogging, that communication would never have taken place.

2. We are speaking to one another. You correctly pointed out that Polar Donkey wasn't saying anything new. But his saying of it was new. For as long as I've been alive, Memphis has had those problems. But this is the first time I personally have seen or heard of anyone articulate the problems and their sources as candidly, and it's got me fired up.

The electric current that is flowing through the blogosphere right now is a form of potential energy I haven't seen anywhere else in Memphis politics. This is the stuff action is made from. Not since the Antenna closed has Memphis had a forum for raw, naked, undiluted anger. There is much to be angry about in Memphis.

By venting our anger and observing the anger of others, we know what each other is thinking and feeling. As a result, I now have a better idea about what issues get people fired up and why. That information is worth more than gold.

3. Anger is only the first step. Anger is the political icebreaker that takes one through electoral heavy petting and finally on to ideological marriage.

Take Chuck Schumer, for example. His 2006 kingmaking in the Senate is earning him enemies all across the country. There are people in Ohio, Tennessee, and Minnesota who are decidedly unhappy with Schumer because of the way he is strong-arming the Senate primaries, and it's looking like Virginia will soon be added to the list. Every time he pisses off a blogger, I know who to contact. When we put all of our voices together and act, and we will, the Democratic politboro will die the death.

Again, all I am focused on here is the one aspect of blogging that seems to vex you. I am not mentioning all of the other aspects of blogging that enliven the health of our party and our nation, because you sound like you already know about and appreciate the rest of it.

In summary, let me quote one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament, Proverbs 10:17.

"He is in the way of life who heeds correction, but he who forsakes reproof leads others astray."

I can testify from personal experience, blogging is a very good way to expose yourself to correction and reproof, whether you're doing the blogging or just reading it.

polar donkey said...

The pancakes were good but Autoegocrat's post was better. No cramped mellow for me today.

Desi Franklin said...

Auteograt - very well said. Blogs do create a network of energy and anger, and those can be great catalysts for positive change.

The Antenna, geez, I hadn't thought about that place in awhile. As for me, I miss Fantasia - I typically boycott Zinnie's East for the eyesore they replaced it with - and I miss the P & H with Wanda and Dennis Batson and Chris Ellis and John Fergus Ryan there.

My ONLY comment on your post would be that you might be surprised, and I've been amazed, at the access participating in some successful action can get you - not that I've been seeking access to Jr., I agree with your opinions about his record, or anyone else particularly - but then again it can also make you a target, kinda like blogging, eh?

By the way, if you want to recruit an over the hill type to start a blog, I suggest you harrass Ken Neill, publisher of the Flyer, who has a lot to say to those who are on his email list. He's a born blogger who needs some coaxing out on to the stage.

PD, thanks for the Bday wishes. So glad to be here - I never would have thought so a few years back, but 50 is great. Now if only I had my 30 year old body, life would be pluperfect. But I prefer those pancakes myself.

Desi Franklin said...

Oops, sorry, Autoegocrat, dyslexia kicked in - being saddled with Desiree, which people rarely get on the first try, I usually to try to get others' names right.

Brassmask said...

I put up another monster post about this whole thing with Desi at my site.