Thursday, December 07, 2017

Phil Bredesen for US Senate?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, December 01, 2017

Save IRV!

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

This, from friend of the blog Professor Steve Mulroy:

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run George Run!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Random thoughts for a holiday Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Out of hibernation

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

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

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

Rant over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

An interesting take on current events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

I am feeling frustrated.

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

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

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

I'm done; you're welcome.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

#hatecantstand TONIGHT

Unless you have deliberately stayed away from social media and TV news, you know about the Nazi/Confederate rally in Charlottesville, VA last night and today.  You know about the counter-protestor who was MURDERED when a neo-Nazi ran their car into a group of counter-protestors.

Well, tonight, there is a way to stand in solidarity with those who oppose the Nazi/Confederates (and do NOT waste my time saying there is a difference, we all know better):

From Tami Sawyer:

Call to action!!! If you're in a city/state with Confederate statues or memorials, join this national action.
At 6pm CST/7pm EST, gather in front of your city's vestiges to hate in solidarity with the brave murdered & injured activists in Charlottesville, VA. Bring your signs and voices. ALL PEOPLE come out! Let us know where your city is meeting and we will keep a list. Use #hatecantstand to organize. Tag and share.
Memphis - 6pm at Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A great weekend for Democrats

First, my heartiest congratulations to the new members of the Grassroots Council and Executive Committee of the new Shelby County Democratic Party.  They had good turnout on Saturday past and elected Corey Strong to the Chair position.   As you were aware, I supported Corey for that job because I believe he has great leadership skills and a plan to find and train Democrats to run and win in Shelby County.

I thought the candidates who were not as successful showed class in character after the vote, and agreed to unite behind the new chair.  There is a lot of work to do, and I know they will be getting down to business fairly quickly.

Next, the moment I had been waiting for took place on Sunday morning in the Gannett papers when Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), the House Democratic Leader, announced his candidacy for Governor.    While I have no malice toward former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Fitzhugh's rural background gives him an edge in the November 2018 general election, as the chance for all Democrats to gain victories throughout the state may depend on Fitzhugh's ability to speak plainly and directly about what is needed in our state.

He also understands Memphis and Shelby County and works well with our local legislators and is respected on both sides of the aisle.  He would be a terrific Governor as he possesses a keen understanding of state government and its inner workings.  I truly hope that you will support him as well.

His website can be found here,  His Facebook Page is found here, and his Twitter feed is here.  Please go sign up at the website for his email list in order to know what is going on in the campaign!

This was a great weekend for Memphis, Shelby County, and Tennessee!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

And now, a word from Corey Strong

First, a personal note:  I like Thurston Smith and believe he is a good man who has things to offer our community.  However, over the last few years I have also gotten to know Corey Strong very well and have an understanding of what he would bring to the office of Chair of the new Shelby County Democratic Party.  I support his candidacy.  Below is an essay of what he believes the Party and its supporters must do to reverse the local losses we have suffered in the last few years:

Life Lessons to turn Shelby County Blue
SCDP has a big convention coming up in two days that will catapult Democrats into our near future and has the potential of creating seismic shifts in the way our area is governed and the values that our community pursues.  I have been a part of this process as TNDP Executive Committeeman in District 33 as the Community Outreach Chair of the SCDP Re-Org AdHoc Committee and I heard a laundry list of feedback from Democrats throughout the county. They were varied in tone, variety, and detail. But I can summarize it into one sentence. Democrats are the majority in Shelby County but are too afraid and disorganized to show it at the polls.
Now, I place the reasons why Democrats don’t vote for Democrats into 3 categories that can best be described through life lessons I have learned from some of the best teachers and mentors I have had the privilege of knowing. First, you have to be Brilliant at the Basics. Then, you have to make sure you Ride the Right Horse. And, finally always Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.
Brilliant at the Basics. I worked for a Captain on one of my warships in the Navy. This Captain took over a ship with all types of material problems and very low morale and he had to prepare the ship for an upcoming deployment. While everyone was concerned about high level combat systems training and complex battle problems, he understood if you don’t do the little things like fix things that are broken, you can never move to the bigger items.
The first reason Democrats don’t vote for Democrats in Shelby County is because the party has failed at the basics. The SCDP must talk to its base, use that conversation to define its values and platform, and put a basic plan in place to execute on that platform. Elections, and policy campaigns, rallies and fundraisers are all important. But if you don’t talk to your voters and communicate a platform and plan to address their issues, they won’t vote at elections, participate in campaigns, march at your rallies or give you money. The SCDP must be the home of democratic values over anything else.
Ride the Right Horse. I used to work with this older guy who was one of the most perceptive people I ever met. When he met a person, he could see to their core immediately and was rarely wrong about who they really were. He’d also avoid close contact with people who he felt weren’t genuine. We were talking one day and he told me that he learned this lesson on a farm. There was one horse he really liked because it was pretty and always came to him when it was feeding time. We he wanted to ride it, his uncle told him that this wasn’t his horse. As the story goes, the first time he rode the horse, the horse behaved for a while but eventually went wild and threw him off. He then heard that warning in his head and realized his uncle could see something in the horse be he couldn’t. Well, he made it his mission to learn to judge each horse well and carried that lesson over to his interactions with people. He’d say, “If you ride the wrong horse, eventually it’s going to let you down. Just pray when it does that it’s not hard and on your arse!”
The second reason we don’t vote for Democrats is because the SCDP has a bad habit of riding the wrong horse—read people— as candidates.  A candidate needs to be one people can believe in. That belief resides in people who have a strong professional record/reputation, demonstrated a spirit of service, haven’t lost multiple elections in the past, and pledge to support the values and platform of the party. We have frequently supported major candidates who have poor and sometimes no professional/civic reputation or who have lost election after election.  And when they get into office saying they will support our vague platform, they consistently work against that for their own personal gain with no accountability from the SCDP. Without a good horse, you cannot win a race. The SCDP must find strong candidates who support our democratic values.
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. I’m reminded of this lesson constantly from the best teacher/advisor I know—my Mother. I have the habit of getting distracted by any number of hobbies and adventures that may present themselves (One of those things I can’t put down is salsa dancing but it’s really fun and you should try it; but, I digress). I like to ask for advice from my parents and I’m blessed to have two rocks I can depend on. My dad will get in to the details with me at times because he is curious like me. But my mom’s refrain is as dependable and etched in my brain as a refrain in one of those red Baptist Church Hymnals. She’ll sing right on cue, “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.” Fun, cool, exciting, and adventurous all have their place but you have to stay true to the main thing that sustains you. She usually means my job but I think it could mean anything that defines you and who you want to be.
The third reason we don’t vote for Democrats is because the SCDP doesn’t stay focused on the main thing which is our values.  Elections and winning are fun and so are all the little things that come with that. But the purpose of all of it is to make sure our values are present in our community and its governance. We have had any number of LOCAL issues that SCDP should be a champion on a daily basis.  An economy too strongly based on low income jobs, government that doesn’t spread resources to communities in need, threats to our clean water and greenspaces, discrimination based on people’s background or lifestyle, opportunity for a good education, protection of and access to healthcare particularly for woman, and the list goes on. These are all issue that have dominated the new cycle locally  in one way or another and that the SCDP and “big D” elected officials have to be better champions of, or why did we elect you in the first place. We cannot stop being democrats after elections and we can never stop working to install our values in our community. The SCDP must champion its democratic values in and out of election season.
If the SCDP becomes the true home of democratic values, attracts good candidates to run on those values, and champions those values day in and out, we will not only win elections but see a truly blue Shelby County that is a clear reflection of our values. This is what Democrats have been telling me since the charter was pulled and if we listen to them, they will come back home to the party. 

Finally, I think I have the right plan to address those concerns and ‘right the ship’ so to speak.  Please check out my bio here to learn a little more about me:  I look forward to meeting people Saturday at the convention and convincing you over the next few weeks that I am the right person to restore the SCDP. Feel free to contact me on my page or at if you have any questions for me. And no matter the outcome, I hope that the SCDP listens closely to what the people are saying because there no reason for anyone to afraid to say they are a Democrat.

Monday, July 17, 2017

An observation

I just went to the new SCDP website, and the first thing you see is a picture of Clinton and Obama waving to the crowd.

That is our PAST, not our future.  Shouldn't we be looking at where we are GOING, rather than where we have been?  YMMV.

By the way, if you helped the Sanders 2016 campaign and you still live in Shelby County, I REALLY want you to sign up and show up for this convention and help take over the Party.  Seriously.  We either need to change direction at every level or continue to face crushing defeats.

See you there.  :)

Friday, July 14, 2017

A deep bow to R. Neal and KnoxViews

As longtime readers of this fine publication are aware, I was inspired to start blogging many years ago by Randy Neal and his original blog, South Knox Bubba, which showed me that there were southern folks who believed in Democratic ideals outside Memphis..

So, it is with pride and respect that I thank him for mentioning this series at KnoxViews.  I would also like you to go over there because there are some terrific comments by local activist Tamara Shepherd on that post that are well worth your time, and very relevant to what I believe has to happen at every level for the Party to survive and thrive.

I look to be more active at this place from now on.

Shelby County, where do we go from here?

Ah, remember those heady days prior to 2010, when the GOP thought they would never win a countywide election after 2010?  This was when Democrats (to them, all POC, they still can't comprehend the concept of a white Democrat) would outnumber Republicans forever and ever.

OOOPS.  The combination of Obama backlash among white Republicans (I know, that's redundant) and overconfidence and generally poor candidates for countywide office by Democrats sent us into the depths.  Then, research determined that there was even more to this than we thought:  Census numbers indicated that, after 20 years of white flight to Desoto, Tipton and Fayette counties had occurred, there was BLACK flight, primarily to Desoto County.  And, most of these folks were middle-class and working-class, the kind who never miss elections and vote Democratic.

The 2010 elections put the GOP, (prior to re-districting, I might add), in a hammerlock of control of the Tennessee General Assembly.  White rural voters who had elected the likes of Ned McWherter, Jimmy Naifeh and Roy Herron were now electing Andy Holt and others of that ilk, and all because the Democratic Party had nominated and elected a Black man for President of the United States.

Truth be told, folks had been moving that direction due to right-wing media outlets like Fox News, Newsmax and the Drudge Report followed by right-wing talkers like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage (which are all you hear and see in rural areas now).  They played to people's fears and convinced these good and decent folks to vote for the very people who are now prepared to take everyone's healthcare away, especially the rural folks.

Frighteningly, as I noted before, those are the very folks we have to win back at a state level to regain control of the legislature and drag Tennessee into the 21st Century so they will let metro areas do what they need to do to survive, much less prosper.

Add to that the horrific Voter ID laws (accurately portrayed as the new Poll Tax) that kept POC from voting (because they would likely vote Democrats), all of these things have created a new world in which Democrats have to stay together to prosper and win.  Sadly, until Mary Mancini mercifully euthanized the then-Shelby County Democratic Party, little happened here other than legislators in districts drawn to protect them were re-elected.

A funny thing happened here last fall, though.  Even though we knew Hillary Clinton had no chance to win statewide, a coalition of people that included the Democratic Women of Shelby County, the Shelby County Young Democrats, and the Germantown Democratic Club got a terrific voter turnout that not only won the county for Clinton, they did something else:

They flipped a state House seat, District 96, and helped elect Dwayne Thompson, a Democratic stalwart if ever there was one.  In the middle of Democratic disaster in the South, we flipped a GOP seat.  We did that without a functioning County Party.

Well, now, that was something.

After the election, TNDP Chair Mary Mancini began meeting with people, individually and in groups, to discuss how to rebuild a local Party infrastructure here, one that would not be obsessed with minutia and focused on training and electing Democrats.  (Full disclosure: I met with her as well).

Earlier this year, she announced a group of Shelby Countians tasked with creating the structure whereby the new Party would be organized, including old trusted hands like David Cocke, a former Chair, and newer members like Carlissa Shaw.  Go here to see what they have created and register for the convention, to be held July 22 at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Midtown.

I have talked to some of the writers of the new setup, and was invited to review the by-laws beforehand.  The Executive Committee arrangement, with two members per County Commission district (a MUCH better setup than the old organizing by State House district, which no other county in the state used) plus the chosen representatives of five TNDP-recognized organization. seems a little small upon further review, if much better than the 75-80 members chosen after every Presidential election.

It is a two-tier setup, with a Grassroots Council that allots membership per Commission District based on the Democratic turnout.  These Councilors elect their Executive Committee members and the new Chair, but not much else; the EC meets monthly, as opposed to quarterly for the GC.  The GC in each Commission district is asked to organize their areas and create real organizations to turn out and elect Democrats and then hold their elected Democratic officials accountable.

I signed up for the Convention, but will not attempt to be elected to either tier of the Party.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  I need to get out of the way for newer, younger people, such as the terrific Young Democrats and members of INDIVISIBLE, who, I am told are organizing intensely for this new Party.

Now, about that accountability.........

Yesterday, District 9 County Commissioner Justin Ford, who is thankfully term-limited from running for re-election for that seat in 2018, entered an Alford plea in court to charges that he struck his girlfriend in the parking lot of a downtown Church's Chicken earlier this year.  An Alford plea is a guilty plea that does NOT admit to wrongdoing, by the way.

Was he humbled in any way?  Nope. Quoting the article, he said this:
"No! No! I'm here to stay," Ford answered when asked if he would resign. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to run for another office."
Really???    Ford, who has been investigated also on charges that he did not live in District 9 but determined that he "probably" lived in the District, and who has cut deals with his Republican counterparts to get elected Chair of the Commission, is free to run for another office if he so chooses.

However, if it is for a partisan office, the new Executive Committee MUST NOT allow him the privilege of running for the Democratic nomination.  Should he win a Democratic nomination for countywide office, he will easily be defeated by any Republican with access to Google.  Seriously.

The new Committee needs to train and vet candidates for office, especially Countywide office.  We need more like Cheyenne Johnson and Ed Stanton, solid professionals respected by the entire Shelby County community.  Can we stop bad candidates from running?  If we can't, then we are just wasting our time even having a new Party.

If you have been thinking about whether to get involved, I say DO IT.  Be there, prepare to work hard, ask tons of questions and bring fresh eyes to this situation.  It's either get involved now or prepare to be run over by the Trump train.

The former is ALWAYS preferable to the latter.

Ok then, y'all, tell me what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Now, let's look at Tennessee

If you expect this piece to be filled with Mary Mancini-bashing, you will be sadly disappointed.

I appreciate that, after being initially concerned about taking such a step, she decided that it was the right thing to do to blow up the dysfunctional SCDP, for which I am eternally grateful.  She had no choice, and on July 22 of this year, the re-organization of the Party will commence.  There's even a picture showing me giving an unintentional side-eye.  :)

Mary has done her best to get out into the rural areas, where we need county parties to stand up and organize.  It's not her fault that we can't clone Meryl and Randall Rice, who are powerhouses in building the Hardeman County Democratic Party.

What we do need, however, is for the party to be less Nashville-centric.  We need people to stand up in their own counties and let Democrats know that they are not alone, despite the right-wing media that engulfs their counties.  We have to flip GOP seats in the state House and Senate before we can worry about anything else.

However, this also leads me to the Governor's race.  Before we look at our side, let's look at what is going on in the GOP primary race.

You have Randy Boyd of Knoxville seeking to be Haslam 2.0 (a rich white businessman from Knoxville ascendant), Bill Lee of Williamson County (a rich suburban businessman from Williamson County with a compelling personal story, but still the same old "run gubmint like a bidness" plan that can't work), Congresswoman Diane Black of Gallatin, she of Versailles On The Cumberland, who with her husband made millions off drug testing, House Speaker Beth Harwell, who couldn't keep her own caucus under control, much less the state House, and the person who scares me the most:

Mae Beavers.

You think I am kidding here?  Boyd takes Knox County, Lee and Harwell split Williamson and Davidson, Black takes Sumner and Rutherford, and Shelby is Shelby and is split 5 different ways.

What about those rural counties, though, the ones that have the hardcore Trumpites, that elect people like Andy Holt and Bill Sanderson to office?  They don't give a damn about those rich suburban counties, they want someone like THEM.  Someone who stops just short of speaking in tongues, who fears cities and people of color and anyone who doesn't look and worship just like they do. That, my friends, is Mae Beavers.

But wait, you say.  Won't all the "decent Republicans", the ones you see at cocktail parties, surely they wouldn't vote for someone like Mae, they are too genteel, they will cross over to vote for a Democrat.

And that is why Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania and the Presidency, right?  Oh, wait...

The fact is that ole Mae, while making the most insane pronouncements ever, will cut spending to the bone and preserve tax cuts and do what she is told by the Koch brothers like every other GOP candidate, while intentionally hurting everyone who is not part of the GOP base.  She is nothing but a little Trump.

This, of course, brings me back to the Democratic race.  Already in with both feet is former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who wants to be Phil Bredesen 2.0, who is touting what he did for Nashville, as if creating the Brooklyn of the South and pricing everyone that makes less than six figures a year out of their housing market would be welcomed in rural counties.  He is already having fundraisers here, and is trying to crowd out any other candidates.

I have not met him, he might be a nice guy and all that, but let me tell you this: I may not know much about rural areas, but I will bet you that if you are running for statewide office as a Democrat, the worst place you can be from is Memphis, and the next worst place is Nashville.  Folks in the rural counties go to Nashville to see relatives in Vanderbilt Hospital, to CMA Fest or a Titans game, and then gets the hell out.

No one in Dyer County gives two hoots in hell about what Karl Dean has done for Nashville; they want to know what you can do for Newbern.  Same for Hamblen or any of the other rural counties in Tennessee.  Sure, everyone in Nashville wants him to win so they can try to get a job in state government.  Good for you, but he is not likely to beat any GOP candidate.

If you are a Tennessee Democrat, as I still try to be, there is one potential hope on the horizon, and he needs to get in the game TODAY, if possible:

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh.    He represents Lauderdale, Crockett and Haywood Counties in State House District 82.  He is a banker and attorney from Ripley, and understands rural issues better than anyone I know.  He also understands Democratic issues, gut economic and educational issues better than anyone I know, and is great at talking to rural folks because he IS one.  He can talk to anyone, and we desperately need someone like Craig if we are going to have ANY hope of regaining the Governor's chair.   He has yet to announce, but he needs to get in soon and VERY soon.   Our state's chances depend on it.

RUN FITZ RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I just realized that I had forgotten to talk about a couple of things that are both national and state, since they involve the Senate race and the Congressional race.  To this point, James Mackler is the only announced Democratic candidate against Bob Corker for Corker's Senate seat.  From that linked website, you would have no idea that Mackler is seeking the Democratic nomination or that Bob Corker is a Republican.

Although no one else at this time appears to be seeking the Democratic nomination, this remains a primary season.  To whomever is running this man's campaign, I ask you this:  If this is a Democratic primary and you are asking me, a Democratic voter, to vote for this man in a primary, I ask you this:

I am sure he is a good guy and would be an improvement over Little Bob, but why are you taking my vote for granted?  This is so typical of Washington consultancy that latches onto Democratic Senate and House candidates, who don't want the candidates to espouse issues that would anger the potential wealthy donors.  Mr. Mackler, I will not be taken for granted.  Take some positions that would help Democratic voters and shout them!

Such as: 1) Promise to fight for funding to complete Interstate 69 through West Tennessee.  This would be an immeasurable help for businesses and would lead to more jobs for people in that area.  2) Support funding for rural broadband and fight AT&T and Comcast, who want to restrict broadband except at unaffordable prices.  3)  Stand up and tell people you will protect their Social Security and Medicare and CALL OUT Little Bob for being afraid to say he wants to steal their health insurance.

Sir, you are a veteran and you understand what combat is, firsthand.  THIS is combat and we have to defeat the enemy, and make no mistake about it, Bob Corker is our enemy. FIGHT HIM HARD, give us reasons to support you other than you aren't Bob Corker.  Otherwise, you will have wasted our time and our money while your DC Consultants laugh all the way to the bank.

And one last item.  Based on the repeated asks for money, it looks like Mariah Phillips, a Democratic candidate for TN-04 against Scott "Abortions are EVIL for you but SWELL for my ex-girlfriends" DesJarlais, appears to be following the same namby-pamby path.  Either kick him in the teeth (figuratively, of course), or don't even bother.

All right, that's enough for today.

Tomorrow, Shelby County.