Sunday, July 31, 2005

A note of housekeeping

Did you know that IF you take the time to create a handle, or pseudonym, it will work not only here at the Cracker, it will work at ANY blog that uses the Blogger software, such as Polar Donkey or MemphisBlue or any other Blogger blog.

That way, you can comment to your heart's content and it can only be traced by the Blogger people. No personal attacks, please, just attack the position!

OK, I'm an old hack. You didn't know this?

I have been doing politics in Shelby County since 1978, all of it Democratic. So, when there's a Unity Breakfast and everyone is being nice instead of pimp-slapping each other, I get excited.

I have been accused of going back on everything I have written on Ford for the past 2 years for my post yesterday about where he is and where he needs to go. One of the frustrations I have about Harold is that I WANT to support him, but he inevitably does something to piss me off. He gave a great speech, yesterday, and I got excited again.

So, sue me.

However, Frank Burhart at Polar Donkey kept his wits about him, and has a terrific post about our congressman's words, and then his deeds, as well as those who have contributed to his campaign. I know Jr's got a juggling act, but from this post, I have a bad feeling about which balls he will drop. Great work, Frank.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's hard to be a Senate candidate out here*

*apologies to Al Kapone and Craig Brewer.

Let's just say, and why not, that you are in your mid 30s, you're trying to become the first African-American elected to the US Senate since reconstruction from the South. You come from Shelby County, the largest in your state, which helps, but:

Tennessee is primarily a hill-country state; Shelby County is the linchpin of the Delta.

Tennessee is still primarily a rural state, with some exceptions; Shelby County is primarily urban, with some exceptions.

Tennessee has become primarily a conservative Republican state; Shelby County is HEAVILY Democratic and liberal.

Tennessee is predominantly white, Shelby County isn't.

For these and many other reasons, Shelby County is DETESTED by the rest of the state.

Then, your uncle gets indicted and happens to be the poster child for everything that the rest of the state despises about Shelby County, even though a portion of Shelby County sympathizes with him.

On top of all that, now you have local bloggers in YOUR OWN PARTY taking a 2 X 4 to you for some of your votes, which possibly, if you hadn't made them, would have killed your chances. Then, while campaigning around the state, you find out that one of your best friends, your chosen candidate, has been beaten soundly for chair of YOUR PARTY in YOUR HOME COUNTY.

Oh, shit.

Lesser candidates would have said to hell with this garbage and come home to ponder what might have been. However, Harold Ford did the opposite. First, he stood up on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday night, despite being a free-trader himself, and attacked the Central American Free Trade Agreement (rightly so, I might add) and voted against it.

Then, he comes home to mend fences and shows support for the new Democratic Chair in Shelby County, who was elected to a certain extent by people who were PISSED at him for some of his far-from progressive votes. He then implores everyone to contribute to the SCDP, priming the pump with a $2500 contribution, which is soon backed up by County Mayor AC Wharton, who goes one better with a $2550 pledge.

Congressman, that's a good start. I know it's a juggling act keeping your base happy without alienating voters outside the County. However, to paraphrase the 1960s cartoon Super Chicken, "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it!"

In your efforts to make inroads with the more conservative elements of the state, you have to remember that if you don't keep the base happy, ain't NOBODY happy. You need more votes like the one against CAFTA and NONE like the votes for the Bankruptcy Bill; that has hurt you more than you know. It's a tough job, but you have no choice; you can't win with progressives, perhaps, but you sure as hell can't win WITHOUT us.

I also believe that it is a good idea to provide solutions, as you noted in your speech today; however, until such time as we can take back Congress and/or the White House, we have NO base from which to implement those solutions.

Some times, Congressman, as Rick Perlstein pointed out this week, the best ideas are the ones we've always had, we just need to go back to them and stick to them.

Good Luck on the trail, and thanks for what you did today; we'll be watching!

It was a good morning for the SCDP

I didn't get a head count, but I believe at least 100 of the county's Democratic faithful attended this morning's Unity Breakfast & fundraiser for the SCDP. This event was sponsored by congressman Ford and honored newly elected chair Matt Kuhn, shown here speaking to the assembly.

He spoke after a rousing speech by the Congressman, shown above, who spoke of the need for Democrats to provide solutions to the problems that we have and not just complain about the problems we face. (We'll talk more about that in another post.)

All of the Chair candidates were there to pledge support to the new Chair, who confessed that his mother Nancy had been the one to convince him to run, not anyone else. Kuhn spoke of how much work has to be done, and that special elections in Senate District 29 and House District 87 were taking place September 7, meaning that we have to protect these seats.

The congressman also announced a $2500 contribution to the party to help get it back on its' feet financially; that was exceeded shortly thereafter by a $2550 pledge by County Mayor AC Wharton, who joked about the youngish Kuhn and Harold the Younger, "they say 'And a child will lead them' and we've got two to lead us", much to the delight of the crowd.

The Coalition remains strong, as Brad Watkins will seek the 1st Vice Chair position this Thursday night, when the first regular meeting of the ExecCom takes place in its old stomping grounds, the IBEW hall at 1870 Madison. Also seeking office is David Holt, running for 3rd Vice Chair. I don't have a vote, but many of you who read this do, so I'm going to stump for both of them right here and now. Brad seeks to implement one of the key proposals of former Chair candidate and new ExecCom member Joe Young (D-92) that each VC have a specific duty and responsibilty within the SCDP structure.

Both impress me with their ideas and their energy, and they have a chance to do great things. You may agree or disagree, but, to paraphrase Lesley Gore, it's my blog and I'll psuh who I want to. (Oy, does that date the Cracker or what?)

I'll have another post regarding the Congressman, where he is and where I think he needs to go (NO, get that out of your mind right now, this will be CONSTRUCTIVE!) in order to win.

I hope you made it today, if not, you missed a good time; thank you for stopping by and telling me how much you enjoy this blog. Trust me, that makes a difference!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

John Tanner and Jim Cooper, come get your whoopin'!

CAFTA "passed" 217-215 tonight (they never got to 218, so I don't know how the hell it "passed") and it passed with the support of John Tanner & Jim Cooper, "Democrats" of Tennessee.

Labor, I want you to remember this next year when they come begging for contributions. Remind them that they sold out the working man with this vote and tell them go ask the corporations who are shipping jobs to Panama and El Salvador for money. Tell them you only support REAL Democrats who vote the way Labor needs them to vote.

You know I'm not afraid to jump down Harold Ford's throat when he does something wrong, but he stood up tonight with the working men and women of America. Had John Tanner and Jim Cooper not sold them out, we could have beaten this bill, which will cause even more jobs to flow out of America at a rapid rate. Maybe we need to look for primary opposition for them.

UPDATE: David Sirota lists the 15 Democratic traitors with their election results, and most got at least 55% last year. However, I am STUNNED that one of the traitors was Arkansas 2nd District congressman Vic Snyder, who has been about the last progressive left in an elective office there. WTF??????

Nice move, congressman..

After hearing about the carnage of last weekend, Congressman Ford is coming home to mend fences this Saturday with this breakfast:

Celebration Breakfast Honoring Chairman Matt Kuhn and The Newly-Elected Democratic Executive Committee

You're Cordially Invited!

Continental Breakfast
Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.'s Celebration Breakfast Honoring Newly-Elected Shelby County Democratic Party Chair Matt Kuhn.

Click Here To Confirm Your Attendance

This Saturday, July 30th, 9:00 AM, @ Cafe Francisco
Cafe Francisco is on the corner of North Main and North Parkway, @ 400 North Main. The Cafe has a parking lot and there is plenty of street parking.

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. is hosting a "Celebration Breakfast" in honor of the newly-elected Democratic Party Chair, Matt Kuhn, and the newly-elected Democratic Executive Committee members. Congressman Ford will be in attendance. David Cocke, Cherry Davis, and Joe Young,, all three of whom were candidates for Chair, are participating and have confirmed their attendance. All convention participants, Delegates, Precinct Chairs, and democratic activists will be honored as well. Former Executive Committee Members and officers of the Democratic Party will be honored as well.

The event is free, but any financial contributions or pledges to the Shelby County Democratic Party will be greatly appreciated. Let's give this newly-elected Chair and Committee all of the moral and financial support that we can.

Together we can win big in 2006!

DATE: This Saturday, July 30th
TIME: 9:00 AM
LOCATION: Cafe Francisco - 400 N. Main
@ the Corner of Main and North Parkway
Register Now
phone: 276-4022

This is a smart thing to do, I applaud it, and if I can drag my tired old butt out of bed on Saturday morning, I'll be there!

So should you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about!

Wendi Thomas whined on Sunday that the newest made-in-Memphis film, Hustle and Flow, doesn't represent the Memphis she knows or grew up in. I haven't seen the film yet (I absolutely will) , but just from living here since 1972, all I can say is that sista girl don't get out much, then.

EJ over at Cherry Blossom Special writes about the film and responds to Wendi's column by calling BULLSHIT on her middle-class butt. My favorite line of his :

"There are about 12 people who control everything that goes on in our city, and they like it that way. They don't want it to change, and nobody is stepping up quickly enough or with enough money in their pockets to make that change happen any faster."

Hell, what are you waiting for? Don't take my word for it, go read it!

It's time to slay the DLC monster...

Fellow District 93 blogger Frank Burhart at Polar Donkey cracks hard on Hillary Clinton for taking the point for the DLC in his latest post.

He quotes from LA Times' correspondent Ron Brownstein's article on the appearance of the One Who Would Be President at the DLC love fest, then smartly follows up with choice quotes from David Sirota, such as this:

"The fact is, the Democratic Party has to make a choice: Is it going to continue to follow the DLC, be a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, and lose elections for the infinite future," he wrote in an e-mail. "Or is it going to go back to its roots of really representing the middle class and standing up for ordinary people's economic rights?"

This is worth your time to read...

This is NOT a good idea...

Jane Fonda has decided that, while promoting her recent book, My Life So Far, that she will embark on a nationwide tour to protest the war in Iraq.

Wonderful. How does this help the anti-war effort? All this will do is anger every Vietnam War veteran who may also believe that the Iraqi war is a tragic mistake. On the book tour, she has already had one vet wait in line for two hours to spit a mouthful of tobacco juice in her face.

I seriously think this is an error on her part; while I agree this war has done more for the Anti-American movement in Muslim countries than anything we could have done, she is NOT the right person to be out protesting it, due to her history.

Jane, please don't do this.

Monday, July 25, 2005

It's starting to crank up now..

First, Flyer publisher Ken Neill published his letter to Harold Ford Jr. calling him out for not showing up at the Convention on Saturday.

Now, The Pesky Fly points out that Jr.'s primary opponent, Rosalind Kurita, not only made brownie points with the SCDP crowd, she is even cracking on Bu$h regarding the nomination of stealth candidate John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

Both are worthy of a read!

Goodbye anonymous posting...

I have made a command decision; no more anonymous posting.

You can register for a Blogger ID, it doesn't have to be your name, and you can make your profile invisible if you want to. There are already some humourous and fun handles like PosterChild42 and DemoBitch, you can choose what you want.

No more anonymous postings, however, I have had enough. It won't take long to register, and if you have a Blogger blog, use that ID, like MemphisBlue does.

I regret any inconvenience, but there HAS to be some accountability here.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Are we a little more relaxed this morning?

I hope so. I've even spoken with the person who left the voicemail, who said he was kidding. Given the circumstances, I believe him, and we're good.

However, the sleep has brought a scene from THE GODFATHER to mind. In the scene, which has occurred right after the attempted assassination of Vito Corleone, the man who ordered it, Virgil Sollozzo, is talking to the Godfather's consigliere, Tom Hagen..

Let's face it, Tom, and all due respect,

the Don, rest in peace, was -- slippin'. Ten years ago could I have gotten to him?

Well -- now he's dead. He's dead, Tom, and nothing can bring him back.

Of course, he wasn't dead, and he would go on for a while, but he was irreparably weakened.

In our case, the Don isn't dead, he's just retired and moved to Florida. How many of you think that what happened yesterday could have happened if Harold Ford SENIOR were still around and active in Shelby County politics?

Hell, even the Commercial Appeal is wondering if the Ford era is coming to an end in their Sunday editions before wandering off into an issue of how Tennessee Waltz may have hurt the party.

One of the more accurate comments in the piece was made by David Upton:

David Upton, a Democratic Party activist in Shelby County, doesn't expect many voters to change their partisan affiliations just because of the indictments, particularly since the indicted officials haven't yet been found guilty of any crimes.

"It (party loyalty) is bigger than that,'' Upton said. "It's not going to change people's partisan views."

I agree; they don't change which party to support, but they do change who's running it, and I keep saying that this is where Tennessee Waltz made a difference. I believe that a
person in innocent until proven guilty, but YOU HAVE TO AVOID EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY.

So, enough on yesterday, flame away, but don't make it personal.

I feel a serious rant coming on

Someone who should have known better left a snarky voice mail on my phone tonight asking me "how it felt to be the blogger that singlehandledly brought down the Ford machine and installed Willie Herenton as the leader of the Democratic Party for the next two years."

Kiss my ass.

Operation Tennessee Waltz, Harold Ford Jr's open ass-kissing of Fox News and the rage that both brought to the average progressive Democrat did that on its own, thank you very much. Not to mention that the people in charge of organizing for David Cocke got out-organized BY PEOPLE WHO HAD NEVER BEEN IN THE PROCESS BEFORE. What does THAT tell you?

What does it also tell you about our Congressman when you realize he wants to be Senator but he didn't have enough juice to get one of his best supporters and loyal friends elected Party chairman IN HIS HOME COUNTY?

Once again the Coalition and its leaders are being dismissed as toadies and not knowledgeable enough to be in charge. Let me tell you, Desi Franklin and Brad Watkins are NOT shrinking violets, and if they suspect Chism is putting the squeeze on the Coalition, all hell will bust loose.

The only people we're making happy with the vicious attacks I deleted from the post below are the Republicans. I've been beaten before, and I've gone down with the ship on more campaigns than a lot of you have worked on. I didn't like it, I grumbled privately, but I MOVED ON.

You need to do the same thing. After you read this, go for a drive, go see a movie, go do what you need to do, but CHILL.

That's what I intend to do...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Everyone take a deep breath, it's over....

Matt Kuhn, you've been elected chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party! However, you DON'T get to go to Disney World.

You have inherited an Executive Commitee evenly mixed with young folks, not-so-young folks, political newbies and old hacks from way back, and you have to juggle all of them in order to accomplish victories next year. As you are well aware, Democrats are a contentious lot, so this balancing act is key.

While you inherit a Party where the bills are all paid to this point, fund-raising has to take a priority, starting this very second. Everyone on the committee has to take responsibilty for this, because it's part of their job.

The advent of the COALITION allows you to attack a pressing need, and that's a SERIOUS Ward and Precinct operation; if they can organize like this for a convention, think what they can do with the entire county to work with!

I have my own requests; one, there will be those who will push to dump the headquarters (and you know who you are). DO NOT DO THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Why? Even if you have to reduce the amount of space we currently rent, this needs to be a focal point of visibility for this Party. More importantly, it can become a center for other progressive groups as well, who can then be utilized in the Ward and Precinct operation. It can only be an upward spiral that serves our goals well. Democrats NEED a central location and a central phone number.

Next, there are people NOT on the committee who will be useful in all areas. We need to create a website befitting our party and its purpose; talk to Francis Burhart in District 93, he and his friends are coming up with great ideas, including making the website bilingual.

What, you thought I would wait a few days? Well, I'm going to rest (as you should) for a day or two, but this was a good day for ALL Democrats, even those who got beat, more on that later.

Welcome to your party, Mr. Chairman; we're all here to help.

Friday, July 22, 2005

If you live within 100 miles of Memphis

Don't forget this!

Don't reach for those chips, yet, boys, we're not finished playing the hand yet...

I hear through various sources that David Upton is saying that he has enough votes for David Cocke to win tomorrow. He's called me twice, I've called him once, we keep missing each other, so that's probably what he's calling about.

Don't dismiss that claim just yet people, let's look at the numbers. Of the 57 coalition delegates, Matt Kuhn was supported by 29, or a majority of ONE; If I were him, I'd be working the phones like crazy today.

If the Coalition members who DIDN'T vote for Kuhn decide to jump, then he's in trouble.

Another wild card in this mix is the current chair, Talut El-Amin. While I don't necessarily believe he has a chance to win, he has an outside chance at deciding who DOES. I expect he will have at least 2 votes on tomorrow's ExecCom. I suspect that his votes would go to David Cocke on a second ballot, and then........

In poker terms, we've had the ante (candidates entries, etc), the first round of bidding, the flop (the Caucuses), the next round of bidding with one player folding (Cherry Davis), and one candidate going all-in (Kuhn). It appears David Cocke is calling the bet; now we have to wait for the turn card (the Convention) and the river card (the chair vote).

Then, and ONLY then, will we know how this is going to turn out. Then we'll know who really has the best hand, and who was bluffing.

Chism goes ALL IN with Matt Kuhn

Yes, I have been watching too much of the World Series of Poker on ESPN, what was your clue?

Late Thursday night, the Flyer's Jackson Baker released a straw poll apparently taken Monday night by the MSDIA/DFM delegates, which had the followng results:

David Cocke: 6
Cherry Davis: 0
Talut El-Amin: 0
Matt Kuhn: 29
Joe Young: 19
Undecided: 3

As a result, MSDIA/DFM has decided to throw their weight behind Matt Kuhn, who has worked for several campaigns, and served as SCDP Treasurer under 2001-2003 Chair Gale Jones Carson (full disclosure - I sat on that ExecCom and voted for him for that office).

Shortly after midnight, I received this email from Gale regarding the candidacy of Cherry Davis, who did poorly with the Coalition vote:

I have been asked to e-mail the message below to the 2005 Shelby County Democratic Party's Reorganization Convention partipants.

Five people were vying to serve as the local Party's chairman: Cherry Davis, Matt Kuhn, David Cocke, A. Talut El-Amin and Joe Young.

In the spirit of unity, Cherry Davis is withdrawing from the race and throwing her support behind Matt Kuhn. Her hope is that good Democrats will leave the Convention Saturday, July 23, 2005, as a unified Party that will be working towards getting Democrats elected in the 2006 election cycle.

Registration for the convention will begin at 9 and end 9:45 and the convention will begin at 10 a.m. All activities will be at the same location as the June 25th Democratic Party Caucuses, at the University of Memphis - University Center. Free parking will again be provided in the garage off of Zach Curlin Drive. See you Saturday morning!

Gale Jones Carson

As South Knox Bubba might have said, OK, then. I have felt all along that it might well come to this. I even said so in a post below.

Various posters to this blog have suggested that the Cocke forces had infiltrated the Coalition camp to pick off potential ExecCom members; however, 6 delegates out of 57 isn't that much of an infiltration unless all 6 are elected to the ExecCom on Saturday morning.

Well, we are approximately 32 hours from registration as I write this early Friday morning and we will have an interesting convention, to say the least.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

An open letter to Desi and Brad

You've done a terrific job, both of you. You have brought new people into this party and your time is at hand to have a real say in how this party is run.

I presume you've seen the article from Wednesday's Memphis Flyer talking about the upcoming Convention on Saturday; it even shows the picture Desi and Ann Sandberg appeared
in with David Upton back when Howard Dean came to Nashville earlier this year.

According to the article, Upton is quoted as saying that the race for chair is evenly contested between David Cocke and Cherry Davis. I take that to mean that they both have the same potential number of executive committee members committed to voting for each side, provided all delegates show up on Saturday.

However, that does NOT mean that either of them have 34 seats lined up on the Executive Committee, not by a long shot. This, of course, is where you come in. Only you know from your own numbers how many districts you control, and as such, how many potential seats on the new ExecCom you will have. That should give you an idea how Saturday will play out.

I URGE you to pick a candidate (and not necessarily Cocke or Davis) to unite behind. While it's no secret I am supporting Joe Young, if you don't pick Joe, you still need to have one voice to stand behind for the vote on Saturday.

1) If you can elect 20-25 seats on the committee this Saturday, your candidate can WIN. How? With 20+ votes, there's a reasonably good chance that this candidate will come in second, meaning that if Cherry Davis is the leader and your person is second, who do you think the Cocke people will support? Switch those names around and I am willing to bet the rent money that if your person comes in second behind David Cocke, the Davis supporters will flock to her/him rather than see Cocke win the election.

2) OK, what if our candidate DOESN'T finish first or second, smart guy, what then? Well, that's when things get interesting. Frankly, you will have the balance of power at that point. USE IT. You may even consider having your folks PASS on a second vote; if no one gets to 34 votes, they will have to push back the election to the next scheduled meeting on August 4.

However, if you've gotten this far, you didn't need me to tell you that. Good luck, and let's have fun on Saturday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Goodbye, Bubba.....

You will notice, down and to the right, in the list of blogs, that South Knox Bubba is the first one listed. He is there for a reason, because, day in and day out, he was one of the very best. Sadly, SKB has decided to stop blogging. As he was the first Southern blogger that I could find that leaned our way, he was an inspiration to me, and a lot of us, and he will be missed.

You can find out more information about SKB's departure at KNS reporter Michael Silence's blog. He had run-ins recently with the editor of Knoxville's alt-weekly Metro Pulse, and I am afraid this may have had something to do with his decision. I hope that this is only temporary, and that after some time away he will be back, because his writing was dead on most of the time.

Bubba, thank you and Mrs. Bubba for all you have done. I am leaving you at the top of the list in the hope you might return. Besides, that's where you belong.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nobody gets it.........

My support for new leadership in this party for this re-organization has NEVER been based on whether they have the ability to win elections. I am fully aware that David Cocke has done an exceptional job working with prior Committees to elect Democrats in Shelby County, I have not questioned that.


I'll be as blunt with you as I can be: if we win County races next year, great. If not, great; by 2010 we'll be able to hang 90% of the County's problems on the GOP anyway. I look at the legislative races and I only see Mike Kernell as potentially having a tough race.

What about the Senate race, you ask? Yeah, big freaking deal, one candidate is willing to sacrifice his constituency on the altar of contributions from credit-card companies and the other is busy trying to prove she won't let the gummint take your huntin' irons away. I know I'M overjoyed at the choice; can't we pull Jim Sasser out of retirement, for heaven's sake? At least HE knew what it meant to be a Democrat!

You know how I feel about the Governor, who is perfectly willing to see people die rather than do the right thing and fully-fund TennCare, even if it means raiding the TDOT fund.

So, when you get right down to it, if we are ever going to sacrifice an election for the sake of party-building, now's the time, not 2008. We need time to work with the new groups, who are full of energy and drive; we need to help them direct that to bring even MORE people in, and to have them keep watch on how those who run under the Democrat banner vote.

Yes, you read that right; all of you know perfectly well that had Van Hilleary been elected Governor, 2/3 of the anti-worker, anti-poor bills that the House reluctantly voted for would have been crushed if it weren't Bredesen that proposed them. We as Democrats MUST keep the pressure on to ensure that our folks vote progressively. Frankly, this is an area where Shelby County EXCELS at the state legislative level, and an area that will be hurt by the loss of John Ford, and Kathryn Bowers, if she's not acquitted (and I pray she IS acquitted).

This goes for ANYONE at ANY level in Shelby County who is elected as our nominee. It means having County Commissioners who won't vote to "go along to get along" just so they can keep their safe districts.

This means electing a Congressman whose real purpose is to represent the 9th District, not kiss Don Imus and Fox News' ass on a weekly basis.

This means finding progressives to run at every level, and teaching them the skills necessary to win. This is why I'm NOT advocating that David Cocke go live in a cave for two years, we need him as a teacher of skills more than as an administrator. As the husband of a terrific teacher, he understands what that means.

Now is the time to further train our new folks while they learn the ropes. I am NOT advocating that those whose Chair candidates are defeated be exiled to the hills, we need EVERYBODY, but in different roles that what they are used to doing.

The same goes for me, and I'm not even getting on the Committee.

So, that is why I am saying that we need to use the 2006 elections as a training ground, and no, I'm not insane. We are trending more and more Democrat every election in this county, we can afford to take that risk, because it's CRUCIAL for our future.

NOW, do you understand?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why are we here?

No, this isn't about our purpose in life, not on an individual basis, any way.

I have had conversations about the Democratic Party, at least nationally, with friends of mine who are liberal Democrats and on my email list. Two things that have hit me hard are these comments: 1) "The Democratic Party hasn't had an original idea in 30 years" and 2) "does anybody know what the Democratic Party stands for? At least, with Bush, people have a clear idea what he stands for."

THAT'S sobering.

Right now, we are having a discussion all over America over those very things. Howard Dean (correctly) rips the Bush administration for their mismanagement of the war and their attempts to destroy the New Deal protections for the American working man.

What do our Democratic congresspeople do, except for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and a handful of others? They slink away in shame and suggest that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee doesn't speak for them, even though they are Democrats.

Great, just great.

Is it any wonder that the American people wonder what we stand for, or if we do at all? Our problem right now is that we have a base that seeks a strong definition for our Party in EVERY area of life, versus elected officials who are too afraid of offending anyone to support even basic Democratic principles, at least if they can remember any. I say that more at the national level, our legislative delegation in Shelby County still tends progressive.

These Senators and Congresspeople are about one thing and one thing only: getting re-elected in the current political climate. What the newly energized base is about is one thing and one thing only; CHANGING the current political climate in order to make it easier for a progressive agenda to be enacted.

That same battle is being fought at the local level in Shelby County right now. You have the two existing factions, who have fought esssentially over the control of an ever-shrinking pie, and a new group, who wants to make the pie BIGGER.

David Upton, who has taken lots of heat here in recent days, is one of the best people to know if you are running for office. He can raise money exceptionally well, he can direct you to others who can provide workers for your campaign, and, in short, is a good ally to have when you are seeking office and you are a Democrat.

Naturally, he is highly concerned that his folks might not be in charge of the party the next two years, especially when we have Democrats to elect. However, just as at the national level, leadership of the Party is about more than winning elections.

You do have to win elections in order to have any power to change society for the better. However, we ALSO need to be out organizing people in every neighborhood in Shelby County, and not wait for them to come to us, we MUST be seen as a group where all are welcome, and we need to be able to help them become effective in the political process. NO CHAIR has been able to accomplish that in recent history.

So, I am hopeful that there will be completely new leadership at the end of the day on July 23. And, as for the two factions that have been there before, please don't leave; you're needed as well, to provide your thoughts, and to LISTEN.

In the end, either we will come together and work together for the good of the party and the county, or we'll fade away like the Whigs.

It's our choice.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Our story continues...

David Upton was most assuredly upset at my assertion that he and other supporters of David Cocke were scared by the MSDIA/DFM folks. He has advised me that he met with Desi Franklin and Ann Sandberg in Nashville to encourage them to get involved with the party and bring folks out. OK, that I didn't know, so I'm sorry for any misunderstanding.

There also seems to be confusion about last year's campaign. When John Kerry's campaign threw Tennessee under the bus, Kathryn Bowers and the committee took it upon themselves to set up a coordinated committee for the Shelby County ticket, focusing on 4 legislative districts where the incumbents were facing tough competition. Despite having NO national money, and focusing on 4 districts (one of them being Mike Kernell's, thank you) they still managed to win Shelby County by the largest margin for a Democratic presidential candidate in history. David Upton and David Cocke were a part of that; they are extremely knowledgeable about winning campaigns, and I never meant to imply that they were not. This was the correct course of action to take, because Shelby County could not offset the redness of the rest of the state.

Upton also said to me that David Cocke asked that no one's credentials be challenged based on whether they had voted in the most recent GOP primary. David understands the quagmire that would cause.

That having been said, I still want change. Why? 1) I don't want the Chism folks in charge, for the reasons I noted in the post below. 2) This party is about more than whether Harold Ford is elected to the Senate or not. 3) Even though I believe that EVERYONE is innocent until proven guilty, it's going to look awful to the average voter if we elect people close to the legislators involved in TENNESSEE WALTZ to lead the party.

Lots of people are watching what this party does right now, and if we are going to get some of these folks back in our fold, we have to elect someone not connected to either side. That's not really fair to David Cocke, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation. He just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it's a shame, because he is a loyal soldier to this party.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Well, let's see who haven't I offended yet?

It has been pointed out to me REPEATEDLY that while I have explained why I am not supporting David Cocke, I have yet to explain why I am not supporting the Chism candidate, Cherry Davis .

She is a sweet person who represented her district well when I served with her on a past committee. I happen to like a lot of the folks who are aligned with Sidney Chism, and when I served under Gale Carson as chair, I supported to the best of my abilities everything they tried to do. Since I voted for a lot of it, I have to take my responsibility as well.

Here's the problem; there is a lot of enmity built up toward the legislators, and it goes back several years. One of the problems from the 2002 county elections is that we put all our eggs in one basket, and had no energy or money left for the legislative and gubernatorial election, and it took everything that Mike Kernell had to stay in office, which is one of my primary concerns every two years.

The state legislative offices in Shelby County are crucial, because the Shelby County Democratic delegation is the most progressive in the state. John Ford's departure, while many people will cheer it, will HURT this county over time, and if Kathryn Bowers is convicted (I believe she is INNOCENT, by the way), that will as well. Ask Mayor Wharton. Ask Mayor Herenton. So, we have to protect the legislators, which, for the most part, isn't a problem once they get past the primary.

Also, when Sidney was chair during 1994-95, if I remember correctly (I was NOT on the committee at the time) , the Republicans voted to have primaries for County offices, and we didn't. However, I believe the Committee at that time named their own "nominees" for these offices, and all went down to defeat. That's not a democratic way to do things for the Democratic Party.

So, this is why I'm not supporting the Chism side, even though I like Cherry Davis.

While David Cocke & Company have shown that they can win elections, the party has not moved forward in a while, and as I served under him as well, I have to take my share of responsibility for that as well. That's why I'm not running for anything. We have to win elections, raise money (HELLO, ACP!) AND build the party at the grassroots level.

MSDIA & DFM have shown they can bring new people in; the rest we can teach them.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

In the quiet, the battle ensues....

The open warfare has begun, as noticed in the flaming that took place in the post below. It appears that the new folks, led by Desi Franklin of MSDIA and Brad Watkins of DFM, are under attack because they're new to the process. Or, more importantly, because they are distancing themselves from either faction.

The humorous suggestion that Ms. Franklin is a Republican because she apparently works for the Baker Donelson law firm is patently ridiculous; at one time, one of its' partners was George Lewis, Jr., better known as Buck and a former TDP Chair. By the way, folks, Farris Hancock has been known to employ Republicans, and I sure as hell am not about to question John Farris's credentials because of that.

No, the reason for this is that the emergence of these new groups has scared the living hell out of the old guard, and not just the Ford/Uptonites. I am hoping that these folks will stay away from either group and pick either my good friend Joe Young or someone completely different.

I say this with a heavy heart, because David Cocke is one of the good guys in Shelby County politics, and, under any other circumstances, I would probably be out front
leading cheers for him.

Bush is fond of saying that 9/11 changed everything; for we Big Shelby Democrats, OPERATION TENNESSEE WALTZ changed everything. Even if John, Kathryn and Roscoe are all acquitted, this was the sign that things needed to change and change

Yes, the party machinery needs to be able to help the ticket win elections every other year, I have not completely lost my mind. However, we need to be MORE than that. We need to be the beacon for this county, to set the agenda for the party, and have the people control the elected officials, and not vice versa. You know, the average worker doesn't really have time to lobby their elected officials to do the right thing; that's OUR job.

One of the signs that signified change to me was in 2004, when I saw people that I had NEVER seen before helping Mike Kernell and the Kerry-Edwards ticket all summer long.
Without them, Mike might not have been re-elected. Many of them are now asking for a voice in their party, and we're accusing them of being Republicans?

The MSDIA/DFM contingent needs a BIG say in the new party structure; right now, I wouldn't mind seeing them build it from scratch. If my buddy Mike Brester gets on the Committee and is able to implement an automatic contribution plan, maybe we'll finally have enough money coming in so that won't be a constant focus.

Flame away!