Thursday, December 29, 2005

Everything old is new again...

After four years as an all-sports station, WMC79 is returning to its 70s and 80s heyday, apparently this weekend. The Tigers will stay there, at least through the end of the Men's Basketball season. I doubt the Cardinals are coming back, though.

Friday, December 23, 2005

See you in January!

Unless all hell breaks loose and someone else is indicted or someone unexpected announces for Congress, Senator, Governor or something big like that, The Cracker is taking a holiday break until at least January 3 (two days before birthday #47). So...

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah, Happy Ramadan, Happy Yule, Happy Saturnalia, and, last but not least, have a Festive Festivus for the rest of us!

Just don't let the Airing of Grievances get out of control, eh? Save that for here!

The money must be coming in now...

or else Nikki Tinker wouldn't have a huge billboard on I-240 westbound between Getwell & Lamar that includes a picture (good idea, no one has said she wasn't telegenic) and her URL,

It looks like she spent some money on the website, as well, although several sections are still under construction. Interesting splash, and it's not even January yet. That's a lot of money to spend now, unless you're pretty sure you will be able to keep raising it through August, at least.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Charter review, here we come!!!!!

Since Janet Hooks resigned her seat on the City Council and created a need for a special election to fill that seat, the City Attorney's office has indicated that a Charter Review Commission can be elected during that election, which will take place in conjunction with the August County general election and State & Federal primaries.

While this is a great thing in many ways, one problem that this presents is that the largest ballot in County history just got even larger. How many people are going to work their way down that monstrous ballot in order to elect Charter Commission members, and who will they elect?

Unfortunately, if they make it that far, they are more likely to vote for a name that they know unless they just don't like that person. Which, of course, favors old hands who are likely to make few changes, which is NOT what we need here.

I am now going to shamelessly use this forum to request of our Election Commissioners that, if legally possible, that the time frame for early voting for next August's elections be expanded by at least a week. If there is a legal prohibition against it, then I will ask my legislators to change that law this spring.

It's too critical to do otherwise.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Well, there's your answer.

Did anyone happen to notice the last paragraph of the CA story on the District 29 investigation? Here's what it says:

Both Ford and Roland attended the hearing. Ford said she wants the investigation completed to end the controversy. But both she and her attorney, David Cocke, said they do not fear a new election because they believe she would win.

As South Knox Bubba would say, ok then. Let's find out if they mean what they say here; I've known David Cocke long enough that I would take his word at face value any time. If Ophelia said, fine, VOID the election, I can wait until an August primary and a November election, does anyone else here think that Terry Roland and Richard Fields (not to mention our old pal Thaddeus Matthews) would suddenly have to change their undergarments from the shock?

We WOULD have to put pressure on the County Commission to not undercut the process by appointing Roland to the seat, something the state GOP might pressure them to do. However, the prospect of having the next Commission meeting jammed to the rafters with demonstrators might dissuade them from that action.

Remember, we're going to be talking about A) the biggest ballot in Shelby County history this August, with every County and Judicial general election race on the ballot, plus the State and Federal primaries, so there could be an interesting turnout. This would be doubly so with Harold the Younger in a primary battle for the Senate.

While, I'll grant you that the GOP has an interesting Senate primary on their hands as well, with Junior attempting to capture the Democratic nomination, no stone will be unturned getting people out.

Uh, maybe I should rephrase that a little bit! :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'm stealing, but it's worth it

Autoegocrat at Flypaper Theory has put up a full post from Eleanor A at Daily Kos which goes into great detail about the Tennessee Democratic situation.

There are great comments, but I too am reprinting her post in its entirety because it's well worth reading for ALL local Democrats. Here we go:

Hey everyone, it took me a while to compose this for a thread about the Ford race, which disappeared from the front page while I was writing it...I didn't want to hog up the new Ford thread with such a long post, so I'm reposting the whole thing here. It's a bit of background on the whole Tennessee situation, as perceived by yours truly.

Obviously others will disagree, which is fine, but I know how it is for me to try to read something about an Ohio or Pennsylvania race without knowing the dynamics or all the I've tried to include more detail than some of the other comments. Thanks in advance for reading.

I'm not sure people who don't live in Tennessee (I'm in Nashville) have a real grasp on what's going on here.

It's true that Tennessee is not Kansas or Nebraska. The state has voted for every Presidential contest winner since 1960, including Clinton and Gore twice. Many people will tell you Gore lost here in 2000 because he totally took the state for granted and didn't even campaign, except for one last minute appearance in east Tennessee. Meanwhile, the GOP brought in Charlton Heston and whipped up the rural white vote, telling 'em the Dems would take away their guns. (Gore's failure can be put somewhat in context by the knowledge that Gore won his most recent Senate races (1982, 1988) by 80-percent margins.) The conventional wisdom hereabouts is that he left the state once he became VP and didn't work hard enough to stay in touch with his constituents.

Memphis is hugely important in Tennessee politics (for Dems anyway), because it's 600,000 votes out of the state's 4 million or so registered voters. Nashville weighs in second at about 3, 4 hundred thousand, depending on turnout. However, the Republican Party in the state is smart and has gone after the Nashville Republican suburbs (Williamson County) with a vengeance.

There are other dynamics at play. For decades, the state House and Senate were held by the Democrats. There are widespread allegations of abuse, capped this year by an attempt at ethics reform by Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen (more on him later). The Dems lost the state Senate in 2004, after Bredesen campaigned heavily for three candidates - and all three of them lost.

In a nutshell, the state party is in serious disarray. There are six DNC members - several of which are so old they don't even attend DNC meetings or do much of anything. The state executive committee is moribund. In fairness, it's a tough coalition to put together. Democrats in Memphis are either urban blacks or progressive whites. Nashville has a huge creative community of songwriters, artists, college students and employees (there are seven colleges, with a sum total of a few hundred thousand students, staff and administrators - Vanderbilt, Belmont, Tennessee State). So issues that play in rural Tennessee, such as God and guns, are way too conservative for voters in Memphis and Nashville. Usually statewide candidates take the Republican-lite approach, and suffer when Democratic voters in Memphis and Nashville stay home in droves.

Bredesen stands to be re-elected in 2006. Right now, he's unopposed, and is rumored to be considering New Hampshire in 2008. However, here in Nashville, many Democrats are deeply angry with him. In 2003, his first year in office, he hired the former head of the state AFL-CIO to gut workman's comp regulations, a rift which is still out in the open between the governor and the labor community. More recently, he threw 300,000 people off the state's health insurance plan while his Administration concealed information from the state legislature about the true condition of the program and the people who stood to be removed. (He campaigned on TennCare reform - his reforms seemed to involve the acceptance of money from the health care industry and no attempt at all to curb allegations of fraud and abuse on the part of that same industry.) The solution for him was removal of the sickest enrollees, many of whom are now dying. There's talk of a 'safety net', but there are allegations that insurance companies have been discouraged from participating. This culminated with a group of sick individuals camping out in his office for a period of weeks.

Most recently, Bredesen has been embroiled in a scandal involving his deputy governor, Dave Cooley, who's been promoting state troopers based on campaign contributions. Check out for more info on that one, it's been all over the front page this week.

Long story short, some party activists have pledged to sit out 2006 and some expect the turnout in Nashville not to be terrifically good. Memphis will come out for Ford, but there is no energized base in other areas to speak of. Bredesen is not involved with Nashville politics, despite having been mayor of the city - he didn't even send a representative to the county's first annual major fundraiser, the Gore Dinner held last July. Knoxville and Chattanooga are the only other cities in the state approaching any shade of blue in local elections, and both of them went for Bush by 60-40 margins in '04.

Here's a strange one for you, though - the Republicans LOVE Bredesen. Some argue that's why they won't run a candidate against him, although the conventional wisdom is that nobody wants to go up against his hundreds of millions of personal fortune he made from a durable health care products business he sold some years ago. So many Republicans will show up to vote for Bredesen...and that may bode badly for Ford, since you can bet they'll split their ticket.

Recently I heard a rumor that former GOP Chair Beth Harwell is salivating to run against Bredesen, but the GOP won't let her, intending instead to keep their powder dry and take control of the state House. Again, Bredesen campaigned hard for three Senate candidates in 2004 (Larry Trail, Joann Graves, and one other)...all three of them lost. The TN Republicans are very smart, and this might not be a bad strategy for them.

As much as it pains me to say this, I suspect there are still many rural whites who won't consider voting for a black man. Ford is not perceived as a hard worker statewide (he was on Kerry's national steering committee and did nothing to help him in Tennessee other than a couple of appearances.) Most of his money is coming from out of state. He's a darling in Washington, which has his campaign employees in thrall thinking they can get him elected here. And worst of all, his uncle John Ford, who resigned from the state Senate this year, has been broadcast all over the state on tape accepting bribes from an FBI undercover agent. You can bet your bottom dollar the Republicans will time John Ford's trial for September 2006, and the airwaves will be full of the Ford name in conjunction with ethics violations.

Now, if the Republicans nominate Van Hilleary - a conservative extremist who is perceived as an intellectual lightweight - there may be some hope. But what Ford would have to do, as mentioned above, is not make speeches in which he talks about his love for the Iraq war and his generally conservative social philosophies in order to appeal to the hardcore Democratic vote in Memphis and Nashville. Doing so would alienate the rural whites - who probably aren't going to vote for him anyway. So you have to feel for the guy. In a sense he's damned whatever he does.

DO NOT FORGET that this state is the home of Bill Frist, who will do whatever he has to do to ensure massive fundage for Tennessee from the national GOP. This goes double since he's got 2008 aspirations.

In short, I think this is a really long shot. Y'all go on and get excited about it, because miracles do happen, but it'd take a major scandal on the part of the state GOP to blow this out of the water for either Ed Bryant or Corker. It would have helped had Kerry run a real campaign here - see the "Tennessee has voted for every Presidential winner since 1960" maxim - but no amount of entreaties to the national staff would make them see this as a state in play. So in a way the national party reaps what it sows here.

A few clarifying details...

The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Ford, but they're still pissed at Bredesen, so that'll most likely cut back on what they're willing to do for the joint ticket.

Nashville is the state capital, so much of what makes the news here about state doings affects local turnout.

Memphis, three hours west, is the largest city in the state, at about twice the size of Nashville. It's also where Harold Ford is from; Bredesen is from Nashville; there's a historic rivalry between the two cities, tho it's usually not bad enough to stop Democrats in either city from turning out to vote for the guy from the other town (and I do mean guy. Tennessee ranks 49 out of the 50 states for women's participation in politics, with a whopping 14% of our state House and Senate being women. This is just not a progressive state - and the state Democratic Party is partly to blame for that, since they don't put any premium at all on helping young, female or diverse candidates gain a toehold. The good-ol-boy network is living large here, mostly in the person of Jimmy Naifeh and some other scions in charge of the state legislature.

State Sen. Rosalind Kurita, Harold Ford's primary opponent, has been in the Senate for a dozen years - she's got plenty of experience and is a credible candidate. The state Party has held several events without even inviting her. It's been a foregone conclusion Ford would be the nominee, I suspect due to his status as a national party darling. However, you'd think SOMEBODY in the state Democratic power structure would care this state has never had a woman governor, or senator...only four women have ever served in Congress from here, and the only one who's in now is ultraconservative Marsha Blackburn. It's just repugnant.)

p.s. I neglected to mention another kiss of death: the Tennessee legislature is seriously considering the purchase of Diebold voting machines. My beloved Davidson County (Nashville) is considering ES&S, implicated in the Ohio 2004 debacle.

Yep. Some days it's just hard to get up with too much enthusiasm for anything happening here...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush is trying to exponentially increase executive power

Martin Garbus has a terrific column today at Huffington Post regarding Bush's repeated insistence that his dodging of the FISA Court and authorization of wiretaps for domestic spying.
He believes that, with the current make up of the Supreme Court, that they will override the 8-0 ruling against Richard Nixon from the 1970s.

Please take time to read it, it's chilling. NO EXECUTIVE should have the rights he is seeking for the Presidency.

Friday, December 16, 2005

9th District Candidates, listen up, I have a question:

Given that the President of the United States may well have committed a verifiable IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE by ordering covert DOMESTIC spying on American citizens, would you, if elected, be willing to introduce (or at least, vote for) Articles of Impeachment against George Walker Bush?

By the way, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is now calling for a special prosecutor to look into this matter. Here' s an excerpt:

"I am deeply troubled that the President of the United States may have secretly ordered his intelligence agents to spy on Americans without obtaining court orders," said Miller, Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. "Congress had already broadened the powers of the Administration to fight terrorism through the gathering of intelligence, but now it is alleged that the President went even further and secretly ordered the NSA to conduct domestic spying in a manner that may be both unconstitutional and illegal.

So, 9th District hopefuls, what do you think? Let's hear from you, even though we haven't hit the filing deadline yet.

Somebody tell me again why he's running as a Democrat?

Frank over at Polar Donkey has an interesting post about Harold the Younger's voting record with regards to repeal the Estate Tax, which nationally affects only the wealthiest Americans. Yet, despite the fact that his district is urban and lower-to-medium income, he gleefully has supported this "reform", until he recently modified his stance.

The fact that he has been receiving campaign contributions from Wal-Mart's PACs I'm sure has NOTHING to do with it.

Also, Frank points out that Sam Walton himself RARELY, if ever made contributions to candidates of either party. However, since his death, his descendants have given heavily to right wing candidates and think tanks.

Just another reason not buy anything from Wal-Mart, up to and including your Senator.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Frist and his staff are feeling the heat...

After repeated questions regarding how much Senator Bill Frist knew about his "blind"trust, Chief of Staff Eric Ueland went off on AP reporter Jonathan Katz yesterday, according to this story in THE HILL newspaper.

It appears that the state's senior Senator sold his HCA stock (a company founded by his family) just before a precipitous decline in the stock price. Katz had been following the story closely, apparently more closely than Frist and his office liked.

Josh Marshall also comments on the story here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Bloggers Bash is coming! The Bloggers bash is coming!

Yes, indeedy, Memphis bloggers of ALL shapes, sizes and political viewpoints, the Bloggers Bash will be taking place at Quetzal, 668 Union Avenue on Wednesday, December 21 at 7 PM.

Please show up to shoot the breeze and celebrate whatever holiday you like!

Thanks to Mr. Mike for the graphics!

Friday, December 09, 2005

One of our best is gone......

Terry Keeter, legendary former political correspondent for the Commercial Appeal, passed away on Thursday at the age of 66 at Methodist-University Hospital after a long illness.

If you were involved in politics or journalism in this town over the last 30 years, you knew Terry Keeter, and like so many of us, there are a lot of fond memories. He was tough on EVERYBODY, but he was FAIR, and more importantly, he was ACCURATE.

He was also responsible, along with Larry Williams, for raising thousands of dollars for journalism scholarships in the Mid-South as the backbone behind the Gridiron Dinner in Memphis, which gleefully (but hilariously) skewered local politicos and celebrities with abandon.

Please remember Terry in your thoughts and prayers today.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Time to kick it up a notch

As Emeril Lagasse might say. I have been quiet for a while, but with filing deadlines for county races getting near, it's interesting to see who's picking up petitions.

Wanda Halbert has picked up petitions for THREE different races, Register (Inc - Tom Leatherwood - R), Criminal Court Clerk (Inc - Bill Key - R) and Juvenile Court Clerk (Inc - Steve Samson - R). it will be interesting to see which, if any, of those seats causes her to file.

Despite the recent ruling against term limits for county officials by the State Court of Appeals, Sidney Chism is going full speed ahead with his race for County Commissioner (IIRC, I believe he's pulled a petition for Cleo Kirk's seat) with a fundraiser scheduled for New Year's Eve.

That will be an interesting race should Commissioner Kirk be allowed to run again by the State Supreme Court; it will be one of the hottest Democratic primary races this May.

In unrelated news, The Cracker is now hooked up to the Tennessee BlogWire through, down and to the right; please peruse the links and the fine writers linked there.