Thursday, October 27, 2005

I NEVER thought I would see this in my lifetime.

I'll rip the mayor on Friday, I'm too busy celebrating now. I may not sleep till Sunday.

For the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution, the Chicago White Sox are the World Series Champions, winning 1-0 in Game 4 and sweeping the National League champion Houston Astros. This is for the people of the South Side of Chicago, the long put-upon fans who never gave up on the team, through thick and thin (mostly thin).

This is for Bill Veeck, who is smiling somewhere above us with a beer balanced on his peg leg. This is for Mayor Daley (both of them) and his family. This is for Minnie Minoso and Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio and Billy Pierce, for Gary Peters and Joel Horlen, for Carlton Fisk and Rich Dotson, for Luke Appling and Ted Lyons.

Rejoice South Side, as well as the rest of Chicago, join in the fun! I'm not even there and I will!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'll be back to posting in a day or two, but...

If you see a screaming drunk running down Highland at midnight tonight, don't panic and don't call the police. All this means is that the Chicago White Sox will have won the 2005 World Series.

Carry on!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gee, do you think maybe THIS is why the book never came out?

It seems that a federal Grand Jury has indicted Calvin Williams on charges of accepting a bribe and violating the Hobbs Act.

Several months ago, you couldn't turn on any of the local newscasts without hearing how Williams had written a "tell-all" book regarding the inner workings of County Government and how sordid it all happened to be, and gee, he was in the middle of it.

No kidding.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Oh no he DIDN'T

Sadly, yes he did. Leon Gray, the only local host on Progressive Talk 680, struck a decidedly UN-PROGRESSIVE tone on his show today and in his blog, suggesting, stupidly, that homosexuality is a choice:

I will now cut my own throat… Gays and Lesbians wanted feel free to flaunt their sexuality, excuse me their sexual orientation, which without any doubt is a personal choice, and now have managed to force society to see it their way (meaning that their right)… or at least act like it.

Yes, you read that right. This is 2005, people, that's just ignorant as hell, and the LAST thing one would expect to hear on a PROGRESSIVE talk station.

I've always liked Leon personally, and known him as a Democratic stalwart. However, I would expect to hear that kind of homophobic bullshit on WREC or WCRV, but not on 680! I'm not yet ready to say he should be canned, but Jerry Dean needs to have a talk with him about this, because he ran off a hell of a lot of listeners today.

And, if you think I'M pissed, go read Autoegocrat at Pesky Fly's site. He says it better than I did.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Champions of the American League - 2005

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

I was nine MONTHS old the last time a team from Chicago played in the World Series, when the Sox lost in 6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not living in Chicago allows me the pleasure (and agony) of rooting for both the Cubs and the Sox, but between these two teams it has been like walking on hot coals watching them try, and fail, to get to the Series.

I couldn't watch the game until the 8th inning tonight from sheer nerves, as I remember the Cubs 5th game LCS collapse two years ago. It is only now, an hour after the last out, that I have enough composure to even write this.

I know I owe y'all a couple of posts, but it's just going to have to wait.

Go Sox!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions

Ever hear your daddy say that to you? Yep, mine too.

We potentially have a situation like that brewing in the SCDP. My friend Del Gill, one of the smartest people I know, is proposing a resolution to the ExecCom that has nuclear potential for the Party if it passes.

It would establish the criteria for a "bona fide" Democrat, and give the power to the ExecCom to deny potential candidates and even current elected officials the right to run as Democrats in the future. There seems to be a question in state law of just how much power the ExecCom has in that regard; they have in fact prevented state legislative candidates in the past from running as Democrats.

However, there is a real question as to whether the ExecCom has the right to deny COUNTY officials or candidates that right. Brother Gill says that the TCA does in fact say that; however, as bright and sharp as he is, he's not a lawyer, and I'd feel more comfortable seeing an appellate opinion that backs up that claim first.

This has been brewing for some time, as in certain Democratic circles there is a deep resentment of Mayor AC Wharton, who some feel did little to help other Democratic candidates in the August 2002 County general elections. That resentment has only deepened recently as Wharton openly endorsed GOP Attorney General incumbent Bill Gibbons. I do understand that feeling well; he beat the hell out of my friend and candidate Carol Chumney in the May 2002 primary.

I also understand the need for party discipline; it's not for nothing that Will Rogers said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!" However, let's bring this back to earth for just a moment, shall we?

1) It's damned near impossible to defeat an incumbent in County races unless that incumbent is under indictment or investigation, and right now there is no Democratic candidate for Attorney General. Given that Wharton has figured out that, short of an untimely demise or an indictment of Gibbons, he'll have to work with him in a second term, he did the smart and prudent thing. Not to mention those lovely crossover votes that this helps bring in the general election.

2) Let's play Bizarro World and say that this passes. Let's say that when the Mayor (I repeat, the MOST POPULAR elected official in Shelby County, even more than the Man Who Would Be Senator) comes to file as a Democrat for re-election, the SCDP says, "uh-uh, not this time."

What do you think will happen here? One, he'll file as an Independent; two, the Republicans may offer him a spot on THEIR ballot, and he would win, or three, the GOP runs someone else, while a Democratic candidate with neither the money nor the organization gets just enough votes to throw that race to the Republicans. Then, Rita Clark is by herself again in the County Building. Friends, that's not cutting your nose off to spite your face, that's DECAPITATING yourself to spite your face.

Not to mention, if you do that, where does it stop? What the hell, I'd have someone to go after any Democrat who supported Otis Jackson against John Freeman in the 2000 Register's race. All that would do is lead to an endless series of recriminations while the party became a meaningless shell and irrelevant in the political life of the County.

OK, Cracker, good points. However, how the hell do we maintain party discipline?

One, you have to build a Ward & Precinct operation that actually makes a difference in the electoral lives of our elected officials. You have to have captains in every precinct and on every street. In this day and age where there's damned little if any patronage to toss out, that's hard to do.

Two, you have to get people excited about being involved, whether they live Downtown or in Collierville, in Millington or Westwood, etc and so forth. We have to GROW the Party, not shrink it right now.

Three, when you get the base larger (and it's not anywhere NEAR big enough, people, trust me), you develop a stronger financial footing and make the SCDP a REAL power that elected officials fear to cross.

When you can do THAT, THEN you can hold the Sword of Damocles over their heads. THEN, they'll listen; now, most would just laugh.

So, those are my thoughts as I await my email from Del in response, which, if he allows, I will share with you. What do YOU think?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

And this is another reason why people are pissed off at local government

As I am sure most of you have heard by now, Janet Hooks is resigning her District 4 City Council seat to accept a job as the city's director of Multicultural and Religious Affairs.

This does several things. One, (please correct me if I'm wrong) this will cause us to stage ANOTHER special election (THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE OFF-YEAR, PEOPLE!!!), spending lots of money for small amounts of voters to vote to replace Ms. Hooks.

Two, this will raise the level of her city pension, which could come in handy if we have a new mayor after 2007 and she is replaced, or if it turns out that she is involved in TENNESSEE WALTZ after all. I'm not saying, I have NO information about that, so calm down.

However, this just smacks of the kind of cronyism that we bitch at the Bu$h Administration about day in and day out. It gets mighty hard to convince people that we are the party of good government when this kind of crap happens.

She may well be extremely qualified; I am not commenting on that at all. But it LOOKS fishy, and SMELLS fishy, so I broke out my filleting knife.

UPDATE: David Holt reports below that a special election will not be necessary; if a fill-in election is held, it will apparently be in concurrence with one of the primaries next year, and the Council will appoint someone to hold down the seat in the interim. Thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Interesting take on Miers' nomination

Oldman at BOPnews has some incisive thoughts regarding the religious right's reaction to the Harriet Miers SCOTUS nomination.'

Here's an excerpt:

It's the reaction on the right rejecting Miers that is revealing, but not for the reasons typically discussed. The reason why it is revealing is that it shows that the hard right is refusing to settle for mere consolidation of current and near term gains. Their principle objection is that Meiers is not absolutely and nakedly guarenteed to overturn Roe vs. Wade and carry out a pogrom of cleansing left-wing judicial interpretations from the law of the land.

In short the movement conservative "revolution" is still on at least in their heads, and they don't care that the country is having second thoughts and moving away from a hard right ideological sweep. If they want to have it all whether or not there is a popular mandate for them, then that spells trouble, big trouble.


Polar Donkey has a hot story...

Frank has a terrific post at polar donkey regarding a recent coffee held on behalf of Harold The Younger in Nashville, where the Man Who Would Be Senator has a rougher than expected go of it.

An excerpt:

A couple months ago, I said that Ford is a paper tiger. He never had to fight in a campaign with his back to the wall. With the Zogby poll from last week showing him trailing Bryant 51-40, we know he is in a tough spot. During a election when democrats are expected to make big possible gains in both Houses of Congress, one of the “future stars of the party” is going to get beaten handily. From the descriptions of what happened at the coffee, Ford seems to be buckling under the pressure.

During the coffee, Ford took questions from the attendees. They asked very pointed questions about the bankruptcy bill, Schiavo, his failure to vote on the budget rather than miss the coon dinner, and other issues. Apparently during the questioning, something snapped in Ford’s head. Maybe he realized that these were democratic activists who, no matter what he would do, will not support him and he doesn’t have a chance of winning without them. Ford became agitated by the questions, snapping at the audience and dismissing their views. He raised his voice several times. Afterwards, attendees described Ford as coming “unglued.” To add insult to injury, Rosiland Kurita appeared at coffee hosted by Democracy for Nashville three weeks later. She was smooth as could be and did well.

Go read the rest of it...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

When the Fly's away, they'll party all day!

While the mighty Pesky Fly is off doing something mysterious for a few weeks, his blog has turned into a party, that features the return of Autoegocrat to the blogging ranks.

While the Fly will lend his writing skills from time to time, they will be joined by Jeff Crook, The Political Junkie, and Kibitzer.

Go on, go over there, I sure do!

Friday, October 07, 2005

It only took 88 years....

photos from WMAQ-TV and Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago White Sox, after a mere 88 years, swept out the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park this afternoon by the score of 5-3. They will play the winner of the Anaheim Angels-New York Yankees series beginning next week in the American League Championship Series.

Not living in Chicago, I can get away with rooting for both the Cubs and the Sox (when they play, I pull for the Cubs), so I am delirious at this moment. I have survived the Sox losing in the ALCS in 1983 and 1993, and being beaten in the 2000 ALDS by Seattle, despite having had the best record in the AL that year.

However, they never, EVER give up, despite being down earlier in the day, even adding an insurance run in the 9th on a suicide squeeze by Juan Uribe, bringing in the lumbering AJ Pierzcinski.

I feel a purchase of champagne is in order later this evening; if I'm not too hung over, I'll see you at Democratic Women tomorrow!

This is terrific

One of the better national blogs out there is BOPNews, where Ian Welsh has a terrific post today about the type of society we are building in the US, and how it's hurting all of us.

Here's a dead-on point:

Success in our society is, in the vast majority of cases, about relationship management. It’s about securing your place, pleasing the right people and everybody scratching each others backs. I’ve even come to see the ways in which it makes sense, and how if it doesn’t devolve into complete corrupt cronyism it can work. (After all, you don’t want to recommend someone who doesn’t work out, do you?)
But I add this personal knowledge of both types of work to an understanding of the structure of the economy as a whole – a structure that demands that there be a lot of people who have low paying jobs where they are treated like shit. Those jobs are “necessary” in the sense that the economy is simply set up that way. For that matter, unemployment is necessary, Marx didn’t get it wrong when he talked about the “reserve army of the unemployed” and deliberate government policy makes people unemployed. You can ask Volcker about that.

So when people talk to me about merit, I have a hard time not spitting in their face. It’s not that merit doesn’t exist, even merit that is not related to your “relationship management” skills and it’s not that it’s never rewarded. In fact the rule of merit, is that you do have to be competent enough to not actually screw up anything more than your relationship management skills are capable of smoothing over. (FEMA's Brown may wish to consider this rule when picking future jobs.)


OK, so what's shaking for 2006?

One might presume that since the SCDP has wandered in out of the Fields, it can move forward. I already talked below about how they need to shore up their finances, now we need to discuss something else: candidates.

No, I'm not talking about Harold the Younger, as the latest Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll shows that Ed Bryant is kicking his ass, 51-40. I'm not talking about the Republican scheisskopf masquerading as a Democrat, Phil Bredesen, who will be re-elected with Republican votes.

I am talking about the county races, since many people actually believe that the clerk races matter.

Let's look at it, shall we? As long as AC Wharton continues to breathe, he will have no trouble being re-elected as County Mayor; he's still the most beloved figure in the County.

Are there any Democrats looking at taking on Sheriff Mark Luttrell? If so, I've not heard of it, and frankly, if they're not out talking to people and raising money NOW, they really don't have a prayer in hell of winning.

Now, here's where I'm kind of pissed; HAVE WE NO DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS THAT HAVE THE GUTS TO RUN AGAINST BILL GIBBONS??? For crying out loud, HE CAN BE TAKEN! Is it that no one wants to have to clean up after him? I do not get this; I firmly believe that if we had a real solid candidate against him, Wharton would NOT have endorsed him.

OK, what's left? County Clerk? Janis Fullilove, if you ARE running for this office, get out there now and start campaigning, girlfriend, you have a chance here. Why? Because it appears that Marilyn Loeffel is going to challenge Jayne Creson's personal choice for a successor, Debbie Stamson (wife of Steve, the JC clerk) in the GOP primary, potentially resulting in a bloodbath where they all hate each other afterwards.

The other races? Well, if A) you have money, and B) you can convince Shelby County taxpayers that the incumbent is a mismanaging idiot that's wasting their hard-earned tax dollars, you MIGHT have a chance to win. Also, C), you are going to have to go door-to-door and campaign hard in EVERY sector of the county. Even, then, due to the power of incumbency, that may not be enough.

So, SCDP, y'all need to be out looking for people who meet that criteria. You also need to talk people who DO NOT meet that criteria out of running. Some folks run every time and get their ass kicked; the voters have spoken, get over it.

OK, that's what I have, what say you?

I want you to read yet another blog...

However, it's not mine.

I apologize for not bringing to your attention sooner the blog of Downtown maven Carol Coletta, Smart City Memphis. It's linked down and to your right on the Blogroll and it's worth reading for her daily take on this city and how it's run, and not just by the Administration of God, er, WWH.

You may also be familiar with her NPR show, Smart City, which I believe is on WKNO-FM on Sunday mornings (too early for the Cracker to hear it!)

In any event, today she nails it regarding the reported attempt of Justin Timberlake to buy up the Sun and Stax record labels and rebuild them. Go read it while I decompress from all this Fields business.....

What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?

I don't know if Bob Tuke brought the TDP equivalent of Luca Brazi with him today, but obviously he made Richard Fields an offer he couldn't refuse, because Fields resigned tonight from the SCDP Executive Committee, much to everyone's relief and delight, especially mine.

At least for now, the Party's self-immolation was avoided, and we will all work together, at least until the next crisis. All members of each SCDP committee were approved, so I am now officially a member of the Bylaws committee, and I am ready to tear into them as soon as possible, to prevent ANY problems like we experienced from happening in the future.

It is now time for the rest of the ExecCom to get down to the business of serious financial planning. The long awaited plan to have automatic-bankdraft contributions had to be delayed when the Louisiana bank they had chosen was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina; I have been advised that they have things about ready to go with another financial institution, so that's good. I promise to sign up as soon as it's ready. Annual fundraisers are nice, but steady income is always a winner.

Let's all take a deep breath, and then show up at the Democratic Women's meeting Saturday at noon at the Blue Monkey on Madison. Matt will talk about how this all went down, and how gunfire and weeping and gnashing of teeth were avoided at the last possible moment. Well, at least I think he was going to talk about the Fields issue, according to the DWSC newsletter!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What have we learned today, boys and girls?

1) That the bylaws of the Shelby County Democratic Party need to be rewritten. Next time, we'll have more lawyers involved in the writing of the bylaws. That had better help the process!

2) That it took the State Democratic Party Chair to broker this deal; the question we need to ask is why?

3) That when we address the issue of expulsion, we need to make clear who can do it and who can and can't be expelled.

4) That while we are nicer to each other, there are still issues out there that turn us into rabid badgers ready to rip out each other's lungs.

5) That we need to be damned careful who we go after. I understand there is enormous frustration with AC Wharton because he has come out for Gibbons for AG; but who has stepped up on the Democratic side against Gibbons? As tough as it is to win countywide, especially when ousting an unindicted incumbent, if no one has stepped up by now, it's mighty unlikely that anyone will be able to knock Gibbons off next August. Since the Mayor has to work with the AG, he's just covering his bases.

Also, there's this: AC is STILL, I maintain, the most popular Democratic elected official in this county, so it's best not to piss him off unless you have someone to replace him.

So, take care of yourself and each other.

Oh shit, that's the Jerry Springer ending! Oh well, maybe it's appropriate today....

A deal has been brokered: Fields to resign seat

According to this hot-off-the-press story from Jackson Baker, State Democratic Chair Bob Tuke has apparently brokered a resolution to the Richard Fields problem. Tuke apparently feels that the resolution will NOT require a vote from the Executive Committee. He also said that the resolution will be announced at tonight's ExecCom meeting, which will be OPEN to the media, despite a Steering Committee recommendation that the ExecCom meet in private to discuss the matter.

Here's the pertinent update:

According to one informed source, Fields has agreed to resign from the local committee with the option to run again when a vacancy occurs. Meanwhile, he is apparently free to continue litigating on Roland's behalf.

Thank heavens!

Fields will escape, and it's our own damn fault!

Richard Fields is going to avoid expulsion from the Executive Committee tonight. Why?


Here, my friends, is the appropriate section:

3.0 The membership of this Organization shall be composed of every citizen of Shelby County, Tennessee, who shares the ideal[s] and goals of the Democratic Party.

3.1 No member shall show disloyalty to the Democratic Party by supporting candidates running against Democrats either in the form of a public announcement of support of a candidate of another party in a pending election, or by working for or giving financial support to any such candidate running against aa duly nominated candidate of the Democratic Party.

3.2 If a member provides public and/or financial support to a candidate opposing a Democrat, that member will be given the opportunity to resign. Howver, should that member decide not to resign, after evidence is presented to the Executive Committee, that member shall be expelled during a regular Party meeting from the committee without prejudice of running to serve on the Executive Commitee in the future.

3.3 A member who violates Article III, Section 3.1 of this Chapter can be expelled by two-thirds of the County Party's membership present and voting.


Because of the way that this is written, we would need to call a CONVENTION to expel Richard Fields. If it said that 2/3 of the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE membership could expel him the fight would be on; however, it DOESN'T.

This is why we are going to have to painstakingly rewrite the bylaws that we rewrote during the 2001-2003 term to ensure that this does not happen again; if the Executive Committee approves, I will be on that special committee, working with attorneys and prior Party Chairs to fix the holes in this document.

As I voted for this during that term, I have to take responsibility for my part in passing it.

I assure you, we will fix this document.

This could get ugly...

I am hearing nasty rumors that the SCDP may try to close off the meeting Thursday night to media and non-Committee members; if that's the case, the SCDP could be made to look like fools.

Jackson Baker is on the case about this idiotic compromise that has been proposed that would have Richard Fields take a "leave of absence" from the ExecCom while he fights to keep an elected Democratic official from taking office (she has been sworn in!). Jackson aptly sums up the stupidity of this idea:

Supposin’ a husband should call a meeting of his wife and kiddies, sit them down, and tell them he’s going to be gone for a few weeks, or until he straightens out the personal burdens of a deserving foxy lady he’s taken up with. “We can just suspend the family until then,” he says with his best sincere smile.


Anybody who thinks this one will fly — or deserves to — is someone who has just come into the world. Born yesterday — and unlikely to see many more days in anything resembling peace and quiet.

As Frank Burhart says, what the hell are they thinking?

Remember, Ophelia Ford wasn't my first, second, third, fourth or even 95th choice for Senate 29 - but she WAS nominated AND elected by the people of that district. As an attorney, Fields has a right to take the case; however, as a member of the Executive Committee to which he took an oath of loyalty he does NOT have that right, thus the conflict of interest.

Let me also ask you this: if Henri Brooks were the nominee and had beaten Terry Roland by 13 votes, do you honestly think Fields would be busting his ass to investigate this? Of course not.

This whole event is about far more than anyone named Ford. If you are a Democrat, this is about maintaining the integrity of the Executive Committee. Local bylaws can be MORE restrictive than the state bylaws, but not LESS, so Fields has that backwards.

When you have an issue that unites William Larsha with the Ford folks, you have something solid. There can be NO compromise here, not without making the Executive Committee look like spineless wimps who will allow anything to happen and not provide punishment.

Let me ask you another question: if this were Bizarro World where Roland WON by 13 votes and John Ryder stepped up and said that he thought the Republicans might have stolen the election, and he was going to provide FREE counsel to Ophelia Ford, what on earth do you think the GOP would do to him? THEY sure as hell wouldn't be dilly-dallying over whether they would get bad publicity or not, they would toss him into the river with anchors tied to his body (figuratively, OK?).

A Party that refuses to stand up for its nominees is NOT a party worthy of our support. If they refuse to expel Fields, in the event he refuses to resign, they won't see another dime from me for at least the next two years. I urge other concerned Shelby County Democrats to contact their district reps and tell them to throw out Fields on Thursday night.

To Matt and the Executive Committee: we'll be watching, because you're sure not keeping me out of there Thursday night.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What part of CONFLICT OF INTEREST don't you understand?

I have just read a disturbing post from Frank Burhart at Polar Donkey. According to the Donkey, there may be a move afoot to allow Richard Fields to remain on the Executive Committee while he continues to work against a Democratic elected official!

This is a clear violation of the SCDP bylaws. Period. End of discussion.

Here is an excerpt:

What is the Shelby County Democratic Party thinking? Richard Fields has gone off the reservation and now wants to drag the Party with him. I first heard about Fields doing pro bono work for Terry Roland and the republicans a couple weeks ago. To me it was a no brainer, he has to be thrown off the Executive Committee. I don’t care what his motivation for attempting to give a democratically elected Senate seat to the republicans is. The problem is, he didn’t come to the Party to try to work out his concerns about the vote. If the Party didn’t take action that satisfied him, then Fields should have resigned and then gone to work with the republicans. But some how, there is talk now in the Party’s Executive Committee of a compromise. WTF?! Fields has been able to turn this from a simple issue of Party rules into a debate based on rhetoric of clean elections. Richard Fields took an oath and he broke that oath by working against a Democratic candidate and now certified elected official. Some are going to say, clean elections help the Party in the long run. That is true. The problem is he didn’t go about this the right way. If you break the law, cops don’t ask you about your motivation, they just arrest you. Well, the Shelby County Democratic Party must fulfill is duty and throws Fields out.

I agree. The post also notes that Fields has been participating in regular conference calls with John Ryder and Ed Bryant. Yes, you read that right.

We are now beyond the point of requesting resignation; this demands that Fields be expelled from the ExecCom. One CANNOT provide advise and counsel to a Republican nominee while serving on the board of directors (ExecCom) of the Democratic Party. Any suggestion to the contrary is just an act of dissemblance.