Wednesday, August 29, 2012

UPDATE: This was NOT what I had led to believe it was.

This was a reaction NOT to the woman from Puerto Rico, but to the fact that a Ron Paul delegation was not being seated, the story can be found here.  My apologies for the confusion.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Well, it is a START!

With a doff of the chapeau to Brandon, it appears that Eric Stewart will in fact vote for Barack Obama for President, per the Dean's latest article.

Own, be proud of it, and work with it, Eric.  Now if you can just stop using other GOP memes, you might be onto something.

UPDATE: Remember how I complained about Stewart's tactics on the debate?  OOPS.  Looks like it may have worked after all:  

Scott DeJarlais (R) says "I wouldn't be surprised if there is a debate" with challenger Eric Stewart (D). He has declined debates so far.

Well, so much for that idea.

I had been talking up the Democratic 4th District nominee for Congress, Sen. Eric Stewart of Belvedere as a relatively decent shot to upset one-term Tea Party Republican Scott DesJarlais in the re-configured district.

I hadn't sent money yet, since what little I have I want to give to West Tennessee candidates.  I didn't think all that much of the Stewart campaign's plans to force DesJarlais to debate, because it looked like they were chasing him from a position of weakness.  It might have been better to get one of the Nashville or Chattanooga TV stations to sponsor one and have THEM invite the Congressman, making it more difficult for him to back out.

Well, DesJarlais pretty much told them to pound sand, and from a political professional view, that makes sense.  If you are perceived as the leader, you don't want to debate your opponent if possible, because it elevates them to your level.  I digress.

Well, I noticed something in the DesJarlais staff response to Stewart to the effect that Stewart refused to say for whom he would vote either for US Senate (understandable at this point) or for President (WTF?).  Really?  The Dean himself wrote about this today.

Look, I know that even if President Obama went through the streets of Shelbyville healing the leper and the lame, people would boo and jeer him there.  I understand that.  However, Senator Stewart has apparently forgotten, as so many other rural Democrats have, under what party banner he is running.  If you didn't want to be associated with a Democratic President, then why in the hell did you run for Congress as a Democrat?

One of the reasons that Democrats are under siege in the South is that they won't stand up for who they are or what they believe in.  This does not help Democrats establish their brand, or define themselves for the voters.  If you refuse to define yourself, your opponents will be happy to do it for you.

It appears that Stewart's campaign has decided to follow the same blueprint as former Congressman Lincoln Davis's campaign of 2010.  Too bad for Stewart that Davis got crushed in 2010.

I have an announcement: If Tennesseans want to vote for a conservative candidate, they will vote for a Republican.  Period.  End of story.  Blue Dogism died a fiery death in the 2010 elections and effectively ended any chance that a conservative Democrat will be elected for the next 20 or 30 years.

That effectively leaves moderates and liberals for Democrats to reach for votes.  This means that you talk about economics and point out how the GOP House members are keeping jobs from being created by not supporting the President's plans.  When you talk about social issues, unless you frame it to your advantage, you are playing the Republican's game and it is NOT a game any Democrat can win.  No more tribalism, people.

Which leads me to my last point regarding Stewart and his campaign.  In the Humphrey article, there was this little bombshell:
Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman."I stand with the voters of Tennessee," he said.
So, we have a Southern Democrat opposed to the concept of civil rights?  Welcome back to 1954.

So, you ask, how is he supposed to answer any questions about that?  How about this, for a start:

"Well, given that the voters of the state put in a constitutional amendment to ban it, what could I do about it? And let ME ask YOU something:  How many jobs does banning gay marriage create in this state?  How many?"

Then you let it drop.  People might not agree with you at first, but the seed will have been planted and some of those folks will start to actually THINK about it.  Then they will appreciate that YOU thought about it and didn't just give them some bullshit placation.

Stewart's comments, and the attitude behind them, even more than the incompetence at the TNDP, are the reason we find ourselves in such bad shape outside Memphis and Nashville.  I once championed Eric Stewart, but no more.  Thank heavens I have Steve Cohen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wow, just wow.

When I arrived at KWAM studios this morning, Cheri Delbrocco told me that this blog was listed as a must=read blog by Memphis Magazine's 2012 City Guide, and I have checked and found this to be true, it's in the back of the book.  I had no idea, and I am stunned.

On behalf of Jon, Auto and myself, I want to send them a heartfelt thank-you.  We do our damndest to provide opinions and coverage of state and local Democratic politics here, and this means a lot.

Again, our thanks.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LWC Media Alert - Eyes on Memphis Wednesday morning from 8-9 AM

Yes, your not-so-humble Cracker has been invited to join Lexie Carter and Cheri Delbrocco tomorrow morning on AM 990, KWAM for their weekly show, Eyes on Memphis from 8-9 A.M.  We will be talking about Romney's selection of Paul Ryan for VP and other notable political happenings.

What, you can't get to an AM radio at that time?  What about your computer?  The show will be streamed here, so please find a way to listen in, and call if you want to!  Yeah, I might be groggy, but that's why they make coffee.  Come join us and hang out tomorrow morning!

SCDP Fundraiser "Moving Equality Forward"

From Elizabeth Rincon:

Date: Aug 18, 2012

Location: The home of John and Linda Sowell 2815 Lombardy (Chickasaw Gardens) 

Time: 6-9PM

Central BBQ will be catering as well as beer and wine served. Silent Auction and other amazing door prizes!  Come join us and support Marriage Equality and a more progressive Shelby County! 

Suggested donation: $50.00/person $75.00/couple

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Liz Rincon at 901.413.6983 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Ok, that's over, let's talk about 2014!

Ok, I know what you're thinking: Steffens, are you high????  No, please hear me out for a few minutes, because I want to talk about the GOOD things that happened here on Thursday and there WERE some good things that happened.

Let's understand a few things about November.

1) As long as we remember to go out and vote, Steve Cohen will beat George Flinn 75-25 or worse.  No, really, whoever convinced Flinn to run for the 9th District had better be making some large coin off this, because he is going to get creamed.

2) Barack Obama will carry Shelby County by a landslide.
3) He will only win four other counties at best: Davidson, Haywood, Hardeman and maybe Houston. That's it, that's all.
4) No state House or Senate seats will change hands in this County, other than the one Senate and two House seats that we lost in redistricting that were shipped to Middle and East Tennessee.

So, the lesson from that is show up to vote in November, but otherwise it really doesn't matter. The General Assembly is going to be run by crackpots on the right for the foreseeable future, so let's focus on Memphis, shall we?

August 2014?  THAT'S the enchilada, baby.

EVERY SINGLE SHELBY COUNTY OFFICE WILL BE ON THE AUGUST 2014 BALLOT.  Even Cheyenne Johnson and Ed Stanton, Jr. will have to come back and defend their offices then, along with County Mayor, Sheriff, Register, Trustee, the other Clerkships and thirteen single-member district Commission races.  Oh, and did I mention the non-partisan judgeships that will be up?

Ok then, do I have your attention?  Good.

Now, the lesson of Thursday night is very simple: if you have great candidates with no baggage in ther backgrounds, you can win countywide as a Democrat.  It doesn't hurt to have your Congressman support you, either, but if they hadn't had great campaigns to start with, I doubt that Steve Cohen would have risked his political capital on them.

Whomever the next SCDP Chair is, whether it's Van Turner or someone else should he decide not to seek a third term, they need to start searching for countywide candidates as soon as they assume the reins of office. I am serious, this business of not taking sides does not work; the GOP has been doing it for years, and it HAS worked for them.

I think some criteria should be set up to vet candidates for countywide office.  Some disqualifications should be up front:

A. If you have been our nominee at least twice and lost countywide, don't run, because the voters have told you they don't want you, so don't waste our time (and especially our money!)
B.  Do you have any experience that qualifies you for the job you seek, and especially qualities that  are superior to the officeholder you are seeking to replace?
C.  Have you ever worked in a countywide campaign?  Did that candidate win?
D. Can you organize a campaign?
E. Can you raise $50,000-$100,000 so you won't have to come to us hat-in-hand for the general election?
F.  If you are African-American, are you willing to knock on the doors of people of non-color?
G. If you are white, are you willing to knock on the doors of people of color?

Oh, and one more thing: IF you meet this criteria AND you want to run, you know when you need to start planning this campaign? TODAY. THIS HOUR, THIS MINUTE, THIS SECOND.  I know because there are people WHO ARE DOING THIS AS I WRITE.  SERIOUSLY.

I am certain there are other good questions, and I urge you to put them in comments.  If the answer to ANY of those questions is no, I, if I were Chair, would do my best to talk them out of running, and frankly, to ensure that that candidate doesn't win the nomination should they be stupid enough to run.  The GOP is SERIOUS when they field candidates (Rick Rout doesn't count, folks) and we should be as well.

We have tried to capture the County for more years than I care to remember.  If we go out and find more people like Cheyenne and Ed, we can do that very thing; if we just throw Joe Shlabotnik out there, we will lose, and it's that simple.  Don't run if you NEED a job, run if you know how to DO the job, to paraphrase Reginald Milton.  (and by the way, PLEASE run for SOMETHING, Reginald, I think you would fit that criteria like a glove!)

OK, that's enough at the moment, but start thinking about 2014 ASAP, please!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Regarding the elections

Aside from Cohen's expected massacre of Tomeka Hart's campaign and political career and the victories of Cheyenne Johnson and Ed Stanton in their countywide races, let me just say that the Green Party is starting to look real good to me right now.

The GOP achieved their mission of eliminating white liberals from the General Assembly with the primary defeats of Senator Beverly Marrero (D-30), Jeanne Richardson (formerly D-89, lost in D-90) and Mike Kernell (D-93).  Wait, you say, we still have Jim Kyle, right?  Bestill my beating heart.

Marrero went out heroically, taking 45% from Kyle in what was mostly his old district thanks to the support of our friend and Congressman.  It wasn't enough, though, and Kyle survives again.  Not that he's been doing much else lately.

Jeanne Richardson knew moving into 90 to run against another established incumbent, John Deberry, would be an uphill battle, as John had a warchest from having had almost no opposition over his 20-year career.  That was compounded when out of state PACs poured money into his campaign to the point where he was able to buy TV ads on Channel 5's Olympic coverage.  For a freaking state HOUSE race, people.  Welcome to the world of Citizens United, folks.  And to think I used to applaud John for his integrity.

And, of course, Mike Kernell's 38-year run in the legislature ended at the hands of GA Hardaway.  GA has always been beyond nice to me, and I congratulate him, because he clearly worked under the radar and caught us off guard. He did pull off that stunt with the mailer featuring a quote from Randy Wade.  (Hey, Randy, I hope GA can put you on the payroll, you know?  Just sayin'.)  But that mailer didn't win the race for GA, his hard work did, and hats off to him for it.

Mike will be fine, he handled last night better than I did, frankly, but that's Mike.

What happened on the GOP side statewide is, frankly, frightening.  The NRA claimed another victim in Rep. Debra Maggart, who will never be mistaken by a liberal by anyone with a functioning brain, but who was apparently inefficiently supplicant to their whims.  THE DEAN reports that SIX Republican incumbents lost last night. Besides Maggart, House Education Chair Richard Montgomery, who was also backed by Governor Haslam and soon-to-be EX-Speaker Beth Harwell, got beat, as did Julia "Hooters Girl" Hurley of Lenoir City, Dale Ford of Jonesborough, Don Miller of Morristown, and Linda Elam of Mount Juliet, who lost to former Rep. Susan Lynn.

With the exception of Lynn, they all lost to Tea Party-backed candidates, which means that the GOP Caucus moved even FURTHER to the right, if that is even possible.  This means also, as I alluded earlier, that the historic reign of Speaker Beth Harwell is likely to end after one term, and probably at the hands of Glen "I Think They Should Just Get A Job" Casada.  You thought this past session was insane?  Friends, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

To be honest, after last night, it makes anyone with a functioning brain and heart question continuing to live in Memphis and Tennessee.  I have lived here 40 years and I have never felt more ashamed to be a Tennessean, more so for what happened outside Memphis than what happened here.  The backwoods, buffoonish image of Tennessee was reinforced last night, and we are all the worse for it.

I need a break, and I am taking one.  I'll be back next week.