Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Congratulations to Congressman Cohen!

Why? Because George Flinn has decided to challenge him for the 9th District.  Of course, the former Commissioner will be running as a Republican, which means Cohen will be able to raise more money, and might even get help from the DCCC!

What's that you say?  He still has a primary to win? Yes, he does; however, ask the average 9th District Democratic voter for whom they will vote, Cohen or Tomeka Hart, and see how many of them state, "Who's the other candidate?" or "She's running? I haven't seen or heard ANYTHING from her, isn't it a little late?"

Which, of course, is my point exactly.  Hart would need to raise at least million to be able to challenge Cohen, and there's no indication that she has raised anywhere close to that amount.  If you say that this is an African-American district and she's African-American, well, so were the last two challengers, and Steve pulled 75% of the African-American vote against THEM.

However, knowing the Congressman as I do, he will run against all of them like he is twenty points DOWN instead of twenty to thirty points ahead.  That's how you win every election but one since 1982 (1996, to Harold Ford, Junior).  Time to get cranked up NOW!!!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Once upon a time, such things didn't matter...

John DeBerry has represented District 90 since the late 1980s as a reliable vote for Democrats on economic issues, and until the 2010 elections, that's really all that mattered.

In the old days when Jimmy Naifeh was Speaker of the House (I miss his presence in that chair now more than ever), right-wing wedge issue bills like Don't Say Gay were crushed in committee or even sub-committee.  These bills never saw the light of day, so it never mattered that, on social issues, John, being a minister of a conservative church, would have supported these bills.

(Full disclosure: I have known John for several years and think highly of him, I just don't agree with him on these issues.)

Well, of course, with the 2010 elections came sweeping change, and none of it for the good.  Even the supposedly "moderate" Speaker Beth Harwell looked away as the craziest of bills got through and even passed, such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Also, the biggest change of all was the redistricting, of which the GOP had control for the first time in 140 years, and they used it to their advantage, just as we had when the Democrats were in control.  In the old days, even if the bills had gotten through and John had voted for them, he had few white liberals in his district and it would not have been major to his district.  Well, at least there would not have been an organized effort.

However, John now represents Hein Park, part of Cooper-Young, Central Gardens, Vollintine-Evergreen, Annesdale-Snowden and Chickasaw Gardens in addition to his old neighborhood, in addition to parts of Frayser.  Putting Frayser aside for the moment, those are neighborhoods of white liberals and moderates, most of whom are affluent, and many of them are part of the GLBT community of Memphis.

To say that they were steamed (as I was, frankly) that John supported Don't Say Gay is an understatement.  Jonathan Cole, head of the Tennessee Equality Project, acted as a resident of District 90 when he sent out a letter (and posted it to Facebook) calling for a Democratic opponent to John DeBerry.  He also called for these folks, if possible, to raise at least $1000 each for such an opponent.

First, that's how democracy works (if we can keep the GOP from KILLING it) in this country.  While it pains me that I won't be supporting John, this is necessary.  Since the GOP took control, the Democrats HAVE to be seen as the supporter of human rights and the middle-class and working poor; the GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the 1%.  Human rights means GLBT rights and it means women's rights as well.  Did I mention that Cole found that John had also voted to support the defunding of Planned Parenthood?

Of course, there will be many in the Democratic community saying this is a wild-goose chase as the district is overwhelmingly African-American.  Not so fast, my friend, as Lee Corso would say.  Yes, the district is only about 36% white, but these are high-information voters who rarely miss an election.

The truth is that African-Americans rarely turn out in high numbers for August primaries; since they are held in conjunction with County GENERAL elections, this puts Democrats at a DIS-advantage in County races, but I digress.  I don't know if it's that the community doesn't like to pick between Democrats, but this fact suddenly puts the re-nomination of DeBerry in major difficulty; the Democrat who is nominated will win the general in November.

At this time, we don't know who will step up, but it will be very interesting to see who runs against John, of whom I can only say, this isn't personal, this is just business.

The PEOPLE'S business, that is.

Friday, February 17, 2012

So REALLY: Why are we in Afghanistan? Iran? Iraq?

What: Public lecture by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern
When: Thursday February 23, 7:30 PM 
Where: First Congregational Church, 1000 S. Cooper St, Memphis
Free admission 

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst turned anti-war activist, will speak in Memphis on current US policy on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

McGovern served his country as a CIA analyst under seven presidents. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal (which he later returned).

McGovern's loyalty is to his country, not its leaders, and in 2002 he publically criticized George W. Bush’s use of government intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq. In 2003, he co-founded the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In January 2006, McGovern began to speak out on behalf of the anti-war group Not in Our Name. Today he leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, an expression of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington,and he teaches at its Servant Leadership School.

In February 2011 McGovern was arrested for a silent protest of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at George Washington University. (Go to, enter “McGovern Clinton.”) Later that year he joined a group of activists who prepared to set sail to Gaza to challenge the blockade of Palestine.

McGovern has made several media appearances, including interviews in NBC, MSNBC, and CNN, and in “The Daily Show.” His essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor,, and

The event is sponsored by the Memphis chapter of Veterans for Peace, and is co-sponsored by the First Congregational Church, Caritas Village, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Pax Christi Memphis, and the Memphis School of Servant Leadership. In addition to his talk at the First Congo church, McGovern will also speak to students at Christian Brothers University (Feb. 22) and Rhodes College (Feb. 23).