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.