Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Go get some coffee, this will be a long one.

First, let me begin this post by saying that breast cancer has affected my life and my friends lives; I have lost a friend to it and watched as more than one of my friends survived it.  This is why I have a heavy heart in stating unequivocally that I will not give one more penny to RACE FOR THE CURE.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation caved to pressure from anti-choice supports and announced that they would no longer fund Planned Parenthood's breast exams for women who cannot afford them on their own. The unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood by the forced-childbirth movement (they are NOT pro-life in any sense, in my opinion) are a result of GOP control of legislatures and the Citizens United SCOTUS decision.  Conservatives, at their core, think of women as no more than birth vessels and not as human beings.  So, as long as Komen defunds Planned Parenthood, I will have to find other places to send money for breast-cancer research.  I normally don't ask for money for other organizations, but please, if at all possible, send a contribution to Planned Parenthood today.

Now, to local matters.

We are two weeks away from Early Voting in the Democratic Primary for County offices and for President (as the President is not opposed, who cares?) and I have not received ONE PIECE OF MAIL from any Democratic candidates for office.  Now, as Carol Chumney is unopposed in the primary for Attorney General and Steve Ross is unopposed for County Commission, District 1, they are excused from this rant.

However,  with five candidates for General Sessions Court Clerk and two for Assessor (including incumbent Cheyenne Johnson), one might think that these candidates would be sending out mail to ask for votes from their fellow Democrats, some of whom might not have had the chance to meet them in person.  Nope, apparently not.  Now, Cracker, you may be saying, you KNOW who most of these people are and you have probably made up your mind.

True enough, but are these candidates sending out mail to REGULAR Democratic voters and not political junkies like me (and like YOU, if you are reading this post)?  You see, every time I hear African-American candidates whine that white Democrats won't vote for them, I laugh.  Harold Ford, Senior and Junior.  AC Wharton.  W.W.Herenton. Otis Higgs.  Thomas Long.  Ever heard of any of THEM?

What did all of THEM do that YOU didn't?  They raised enough money and did outreach to white Democrats, not all of whom are political junkies like us.  When it comes to Countywide races, ESPECIALLY clerkships, most white Democrats see these as positions that should be NON-partisan and not involved in policy making, like executive and legislative positions are.

Frankly, white non-PJ Democrats haven't the faintest clue who you are, unless you are an incumbent.  This, of course, will work to Cheyenne Johnson's benefit, but will hopefully work against Otis Jackson, whose renomination would likely bring down the whole Democratic ticket in August.

What happens when you can't reach white Democrats in the primary is that they forget about you in August.  Inevitably, their spouse/relative/friend-from-church/ comes up to them and says,"look, I know you're a Democrat, but if the Democrat is elected to run my office, I will get fired and i NEED my job".  The white Democrat will think, "well, it's not a policy-position, I can change my vote and still be a good Democrat".

Unfortunately, that's also how we got Mark Luttrell as County Mayor, with a LOT of African-American votes.  Need I mention that he has never missed a Sidney Chism picnic since becoming an elected official?  HE reaches out to African-Americans, and YOU need to reach out to white Democrats.  Ok,rant over.

Now, Democrats, we need to talk about something else.  The fact remains that many of our middle-class African-Americans have left Shelby County and moved into Desoto County, as the 2010 Census confirms.  Many of our potential African-American voters are low-information voters who vote on name recognition, if they bother to vote in the primary at all.  Name recognition, sadly, will be key for voters in our March 3 Primary.

Why I bring this up is the potential problem we could have.  Whose names are most well-known in the General Sessions Court Clerk race?  I would expect that Otis Jackson is very well-known, not just from his indictment but from his days as MSU's point guard.  In fact, many of these low-information voters may well think Mr. Jackson is being persecuted by a GOP prosecutor and will vote for him because of his indictment.  Frankly, that's self-destructive, but it is what it is.

So, if you are a Democrat who wants to see this office remain in Democratic hands, you KNOW that if Mr. Jackson is renominated, either the rest of the ticket will have to disown him or be dragged down BY him in August.  This means he must be defeated in the primary if Democrats want to have ANY hope of holding on to or adding Democratic offices in August.

Which brings me to the other two well-known candidates, Commissioner Sidney Chism (full disclosure - I am supporting him) and INTERIM General Sessions Clerk Ed Stanton, Jr (father of the US Attorney).  I know a lot of my friends rushed to support Stanton, who is doing a fine job in the office, partially for that reason and partially because they don't care for Commissioner Chism.

I have had plenty of run-ins with Chairman Chism over the years, but we always put it behind us and came together for the Party.  At the end of the day, I firmly believe he is the one man who can prevent the re-nomination of Otis Jackson and the destruction of the ticket in August.  I fear that any vote given to Mr. Stanton is more likely to aid Mr. Jackson than elect Mr. Stanton.  Should I be wrong, I would happily support Mr. Stanton if he is the nominee - I just don't believe he can win the primary.

And one last thing about Mr. Stanton.  He has a nice billboard on I-240 facing the eastbound lanes near Getwell.  Good picture, good logo, all except for one thing - nowhere could I see the word DEMOCRAT on that billboard.  It's still the primary, sir, don't you think that is important?

Any way, I'll shut up for now and wait for that piece of mail from a Democratic candidate that asks for my vote and doesn't just assume that I will give it to them.  I hope I don't have to wait long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We are going dark today. Here's why.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On This Day..

When we remember a great man and the single worst event this city has ever experienced (we recovered from the Yellow Fever, we have NEVER recovered from the King assassination), let us never forget that it was only when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began to critically address ECONOMIC inequality in addition to racial inequality, that he was assassinated.

Remember him always.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I am not fond of Democrat on Democrat violence

Because the Republicans are screwing us hard enough in redistricting, I hate when Democrats turn on other Democrats.  That is what has happened TWICE the last two days, by male Democrats on female Democrats.  First, if you haven't seen it, go over to Ross' place to watch Antonio Parkinson table a DEMOCRATIC amendment by Jeanne Richardson adding precincts to the district which they share for the moment.  I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was a rookie mistake, at least I hope so, for his sake.  And, as Jeanne pointed out, it's not HIS district, it belongs to the voters.

Jeanne is a fearless voice for women's rights and LGBTQ rights, and I want her to run SOMEWHERE this year.

However, there is another situation where someone who knew better made a crap move on a fellow Democrat, a COLLEAGUE, and is forcing out yet another voice for women's rights, children's health, safety and protection and the LGBT community, Beverly Marrero.  Yes, Jim Kyle, I am talking to YOU.

Kyle had been targeted for ouster by the GOP for a while once the disaster known as the 2010 elections occurred, so it was no surprise when his District 28 was moved east and included Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown.  This would have meant they would face off this year, which Kelsey apparently agreed with.  The GOP, not apparently fond of either, felt that no matter who left, they won.

Then, Kelsey apparently whined, so Senate 28 was shifted to Middle Tennessee (we were going to lose a seat anyway due to population shift) and the District was renumbered 31.  THIS meant that now the election was shifted back to 2014 and Kyle, with 28 shipped off to the hinterlands, would be forced out of the legislature.  Well, that's what happens when you let your majority go.

Now, why the GOP didn't tell Kyle to go piss up a rope, I don't know.  Kyle apparently plead his case to the point where they essentially OK, shut the hell up, here's your district back, go beat Marrero.  I presume the GOP's thinking was that they were getting rid of another liberal AND a woman, two things they hate.  They even gave him back some of his old District, which Beverly was preparing to run for this year.  It will still be called District 30, but it more closely resembles the old 28.

Before you come at me with that "but he's the senior Democrat" business, I respond, SO WHAT?  What's he done with it?  He protected John Wilder to the point he didn't see it coming when Rosalind Kurita voted for Ron Ramsey to flip the Senate into GOP Control in 2007.

Whenever he has attempted any moves to break his mold in the past, Jim Kyle has backed out.  In 2002, he ran, for a while, for County Mayor, then backed out when rumors that AC Wharton would enter the race.  Then, he ran for Governor, and ran hard for what, just a few months?  Then he announced that he didn't see a way forward even if he won the Democratic nomination because of the wealth of GOP eventual nominee Bill Haslam and was dropping out, AGAIN.  I hate to point out that Bill Haslam was just as much a candidate when Jim Kyle announced he was running as when Senator Kyle withdrew.  I still don't know what the hell changed.

Then, as you'll recall, many of us asked him to consider a run for Attorney General in Shelby County, since we knew he was going to be run out of the Senate.  After a while he said no, his duties to his law firm prevented another candidacy.  And another Senate race won't be a candidacy?

All in all, he may well go back to the Senate, and since I am now in District 33, I can't vote, but I will tell you this much: Beverly, if you want to run for that seat, I will go walk that district with you, because we can't afford to lose YOU. It looks like she is ready to do it, judging by this quote from today's CA:

Said Marrero: "It's my district, 30, and I'm going to run. It will be interesting. Those days of women just saying, 'You take it and I'll go home,' are over."
I will be there with you, Beverly, and I won't be alone; go also read this terrific post from Tennessee Talking Points!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Maybe we need to take another look at the Redistricting Map.

Go take a look at the Congressional redistricting map again.  Especially Shelby County, of course.

Notice that little finger from Stephen "Gospel-Singing Farmer" Fincher's 8th District that looks like it comes into Memphis?  I had thought, as others had, that it stopped at I-240 on the West and snaked around to Walnut Grove Road and the Wolf River.  We haven't seen the precinct list yet (the GOP won't release it yet), so we have had to make guesses as to where it went.

I have learned today that this is wrong.  REAL WRONG.  As in, the western edge of the 8th District is GOODLETT ROAD.  As in, the EASTERN EDGE of my precinct.  As in, almost all of the primarily Jewish neighborhoods of the city will lose the representation of the first Jewish Congressman ever elected in Tennessee.

Temple Israel? Represented by a gospel-singing farmer whose district is 75% rural.  Beth El Sholom? No more Cohen.  Jewish Community Center?  Represented by the man from Frog Jump.

And, to insult to injury, MIllington, which is as non-urban as you can get in this county, now is represented by Steve Cohen.  Yes, the home of the Political Cesspool is now in Steve Cohen's district but not any of the Jewish institutions of Memphis.  That's not fair to Millingtonians, either.

Now, Steve Cohen is not in any danger of losing his seat, despite what some would have you believe, and I know he realizes that, too, although he is running for a fourth term like he is twenty points behind, because he ALWAYS runs that way.  This is how he managed to receive 75% of the African-American vote in 2010 against the City's first African-American Mayor.

However, what the GOP has done is to crap on those people who have supported Steve the most over the years. It is frightening to me that the 8th District is only six blocks away from my house and not ten miles away, as it SHOULD be.  Stephen Fincher should have NO part of the City of Memphis; the eastern suburbs will vote for a GOP candidate even if it were RuPaul, but not the CITY.

Given that the GOP did this in secret, they need to be held accountable.  The West Tennessee regional coordinator for the Congressional redistricting effort is Senator Mark Norris of Collierville.  Please call his office at 615-741-1967 and let him know how you feel about Steve Cohen being taken from you.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Redistricting, the TNDP, and other bidness

Steve Ross, in the middle of a campaign, still has managed to write two really good pieces about redistricting and about the TNDP's ill-advised plans to create a 4-year term for their Chair (relax, it would NOT apply to Chip, unless he decided to run again).

The redistricting piece has great links to other posts by Sean Braisted, Tennessee Talking Points and the magnificent Aunt B.  Read them all.

Oh, and I'm 53 today, yay me!  Thanks to Susan, this is a great birthday; thanks, too, to all of you for continuing to read my posts.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tomorrow, we find out how badly the Democrats in the TGA are screwed

Tomorrow morning, the new legislative maps are to be unveiled at the Capitol, and the result of the GOP getting control of both Houses for the first time in 140 years will be gruesome for Democrats, who hold only 34 of 99 House seats and 13 of 33 Senate seats.

The goal for the GOP is to get to 66 House seats and 22 Senate seats; this could theoretically result in a General Assembly where Democrats can be steamrolled and ignored.  We will have to wait and see how bad it will be and if it falls within Voting Rights Act guidelines (here's betting that it DOES, John Ryder is no fool, and here's betting that we challenge it in court any way).

Just from sheer numbers, Shelby County, which had stagnant growth in the last decade, will lose one Senate seat (expected to be that of Senate leader Jim Kyle) and two House seats.  While nothing will be confirmed tomorrow, what we are hearing is that Barbara Cooper (D-86) and G.A. Hardaway will be thrown into a district together, and that Jeanne Richardson's (D-89) district has been split between John Deberry (D-90) and Antonio Parkinson (D-98).

Rural West Tennessee, which has experienced serious reductions in population as jobs have left the area, is expected to be equally hard-hit.  Given that this was once the heart of the Democratic brain trust of the late Governor Ned McWherter (Dresden), the late Lt. Governor John Wilder (Mason), and Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (Covington), this will be rather depressing news.

Democrats have to find a way back.  One of those ways, in my opinion, is to stop trying to govern and start OPPOSING.  I realize that, after 140 years of power, it is still very difficult to come to grips with a reduced station in life.  However, that cold, hard reality is still better than being deluded that you have any voice at all right now. 

What Democrats need to do is show how they are DIFFERENT.  Nobody really likes the GOP all that much, and you have to show how you are DIFFERENT, and how you want to work for working people and small businesses, and not be a tool of Wall Street.  Newt Gingrich worked on opposing the Democrats and supporting the right-wing philosophy for a long time in preparation for the day when they would get control of Congress.

Have a consistent philosophy of supporting PEOPLE over MONEY, and you may regain enough support to get power back.  Then, once you do, tell the lobbyists to go to hell, and you'll never lose that support.

See you tomorrow!