Monday, May 30, 2005

More On Politicizing 

Super-blogger Joe from the Civic Forum makes a great point in a comment to the post below. I thought about this right after posting that piece.

John Wilder made an absolute buffoon of himself last week in defending the indicted legislators.

My first criticism is that he chose make some pretty garish statements in the midst of a prayer. Regular readers will know that I get pretty serious about the intersection of faith and politics, and especially about using faith as a crutch for bad politics. Well, this is a prime example. This is a time when our leaders should be praying especially for guidance as they consider how to move the state forward from its current ethical quagmire. Now is certainly not the time to use a prayer to make a jab at law enforcement tactics.

But lest I (of all people) ignore the politics of Wilder's foolish comments, what a screw-up they were. Of course these folks are all innocent until proven guilty. But, please. How bad does it look to have the Democratic Party's ostensible leader go off on a partisan rant about this stuff? We need to stay above the fray and be forward-looking. These next months give Democrats the chance to take the reins and being Tennessee into a new era, ethically. We have a governor in Bredesen whose bipartisan support gives him the capital to make it happen. It will be hard enough when these cases come to trial without prominent Democrats railing against how bad the FBI is for framing them instead of railing about how bad they are for taking the bribes in the first place.

Because, let us not forget, entrapment can only be argued if you cop to having actually accepted the bribes. This leads to another great question: What are Ward and Chris' defenses going to be?

Anyway, thanks to Joe for his thoughts. How about leaving some of your own?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Chris Clem: Playing Politics 

See question 5 in the previous post? Well, Here we go.

I figured it would not be long before House Republicans decided to take what is a bipartisan ethics issue and try to make it political fodder. Chris Clem seems to have decided to fire the first salvo. Nothing better than a low-grade back bencher to try and get the games underway.

First off, Chris, it's the Democratic party, not the "Democrat Party". But that's not even close to where we begin here.

For the first time in a long time, our state has a chance to work on a bipartisan effort to clean up politics, and such was the path our Governor and the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate laid out on Thursday at their press conference.

This was a disappointing and ultimately damning lapse of ethics and judgment for legislators on both sides of the aisle. And while you back away from Newton, you can't back away from the R after his name. He is a Republican, and a corrupt one at that. If he loves the Democratic party so much, what stopped him from just switching parties?

Let's not play politics here. Not now. Hopefully Chris Clem doesn't represent the greater wishes of his party as he seeks to turn a state crisis into just another TeamGOP blast e-mail. Instead, let's hope he grows up and takes a mature approach to moving our state forward.

Friday, May 27, 2005

I Was Dancing With My Darling... 

If you read this blog even rarely, which very few people do, you are more than aware of what is going on in Tennessee these days. But, let's say you are the person from China who my stats show has read my blog once, here's a great rundown from the Tennessean.

I had some trouble tracking these down, since our newspaper's Web site is easily the worst newspaper site in existence, but here are the PDFs of the actual indictments, as well: Chris Newton and Charles Love, Ward Crutchfield and Charles Love and my personal favorite, John Ford.

With all that, here are the questions floating around in my head, no particular order:

1) How the hell did Chris Newton get caught up in this mess? We know he's not a Republican poster boy, but this seemed pretty tied to folks with urban constituencies. It's not like Benton is in East Brainerd or something.

2) Where is Ward's secretary in all these arrests? It seems from reading the indictments that she is as guilty as anyone else, at least of aiding and abetting.

3) This one is obvious, but who will be the first to turn state's and tell all about bribery and extortion that took place with real companies?

4) What do you do if you own one of the following companies: E-cycle or eCycle? And, um, how shady is it that this site was registered on May 24 of this year? As in, Tuesday? Before anyone knew about all this stuff?

5) Now, to the politics: How much of a disappointment is it to Bob Davis that Chris Newton (R) is in cahoots here? Essentially this takes away something that would have been like shooting Democratic fish in a barrel and makes it an issue of bipartisan concern.

6) WWHD? What Would Harold Do? This is clearly going to be a huge stone tied around his neck from here on out, especially because the trial will start getting into high gear right around the time the campaign does. Can he shake this? If you don;t think the national political media won't turn this into the lede, well, you haven't read the New York Times this morning, have you?

So, ponder, ruminate, maybe even (God forbid) leave a comment if you'd like. What questions are on your mind about all this?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gone With the Wind 

Lamar! Just doesn't get it sometimes.

I'm just confused here. It looks like Lamar! is trying to say that while turbines used in TVA's very cool Green Power Switch program are just too ugly to bear, he doesn't mind some good old fashioned coal plants. To wit:
"These oversized windmills produce a puny amount of unreliable power in a way that costs more than coal or nuclear power, require new transmission lines, must be subsidized with massive federal tax breaks and, in my view, destroy the landscape," said Sen. Alexander, chairman of the Senate Energy Subcommittee.
Destroy the landscape? That's just silly. I mean, for goodness' sake, the current generation site is on an old strip mine. I am sure the people of the area are really sad to see that being used for something not evil.

It's time for Lamar! to realize that there are a hell of a lot of people willing to pay extra for TVA to reduce its reliance on coal. I'll save the nuclear debate for another day, but if we can pump out some like 25 megawatts of power with zero pollution, why wouldn't we? The haze in the Smokies gets worse by the day, and the best argument that Lamar! has about wind is that it's ugly.

I think we can all deal with a windmill farm in exchange for cleaner air.

Monday, May 23, 2005

God Bless America 

Many of my Republican friends get very angry with me when I say that people in he current administration really could not give a damn about soldiers and that their yellow-ribbon "pray for our troops" talk is all just political posturing.

Pat Tillman's parents gave an interview to the Washington Post in today's paper. In it, we see a prime object lesson.

Here is a guy, who, for all intents and purposes, has life made. Big NFL star, rising career, about to renew his contract for what would surely be an exorbitant sum. Instead, he chooses to serve his country in the armed forces. Clearly a brave decision, and one that few in his position would have the courage to make. As his mom put it:
"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman said in her first lengthy interview since her son's death.
Unfortunately, he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Thus began the tributes and giant memorial services, broadcast nationwide, filled with so much of the rah-rah rhetoric that politicians love so much about the war.

Of course, at the same time all of this was happening, the army knew that Tillman was a victim of fratricide, gunned down by his own men. They chose to let the world think Tillman died charging a hill instead of telling the truth about the horrors of war. They even lied to his parents:
Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.

"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."
Perhaps it's time to ask what other lies we're being told. Cynicism is not disrespect for the troops. Indeed, what is more respectful: demanding the truth about their service and sacrifice, or simply lapping up what the administration throws out, despite knowing that it's just not true?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mega Big News 

Enterprise South was certified yesterday as a TVA megasite.

The Times Free Press has a more thorough rundown in today's paper.

What does it mean? In the race for "Project Pinetree", Chattanooga just took the lead. The code name is essentially a major manufacturing plant for a carmaker. It looks like it could be DaimlerChrysler, Audi or perhaps Kia. The impact of the plant would be huge for the area, and it's something we've been pursuing for a long time. Being a megasite functionally gives us the seal of approval that we have all the infrastructure and resources needed to support the plant. There are only four TVA megasites in the whole region, and certainly none of the competition for Pinetree is included.

Now, it's time for the city and county to step up. We are a tremendously impressive place to build a factory, which is hurdle one. But we now must prove that we are the kind of area that isn't some kind of horrible backwater that doesn't educate its children. Thus far, we haven't done a very good job, what with politicians naming the superintendent public enemy number one.

We really can't afford to screw this up. Too many people have worked too hard to make this a reality, and good paying jobs can have a real economic impact on the whole region.

This really is a big step.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Phil's Blog 

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this.

I do, however, think that Phil makes some very strong points in his first post about the difficulty of mixing blogs and big elective office. Regardless, if it stays personal, even a weekly thing could be pretty interesting.

The other big question though, is will anyone outside of a very small percentage of Tennesseans actually give a damn if Phil Bredesen has a blog? Wait, I just acknowledged that maybe the only people who care about blogs are people who have them. I've violated the Bloggers' Code Prime Directive: "Never acknowledge that every human in the world might not be reading everything you write."

Oh, well, good luck Phil. And South Knox Bubba really needs to get Phil signed up for the Rocky Top Brigade, ASAP.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Making Us All Look Bad 

Today's story in the Times Free Press by Chris Joyner about Lt. Gov. John Wilder is mind-blowing to me. Somehow, this old buffoon has managed to commit almost every sin that people hate in politicians and government workers in one fell swoop.

Let's open with the nepotism angle. I think everyone knows that government appointments happen with political favors in mind. But what gets me here is that evidently Wilder didn't just promise a political contributor a seat on a commission about which he has no expertise. While offensive, that's par for the course. Instead, Wilder promised it to a member of his family. From the TFP piece:
Legislative sources said Tuesday Lt. Gov. Wilder made the commitment to Memphis attorney Joel Porter, a political contributor and business associate. Mr. Porter is not personally interested in being appointed but supports either a son or a family friend, sources said.
For goodness' sake.

But now, the other side. People hate when politicians abuse their power. Wilder simply should not have tried to tack this on to some unrelated bill just because he forgot about his marginally-ethical promise! Deciding to just expand the board to make room is reminiscent of FDR's court-packing plan. Mark your calendars, because I actually agree with what Sen. Fowler says in the TFP:
Sen. Fowler, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, said he would reconvene the committee to consider the legislation. But he said he opposes the change because there is no benefit to the people of Tennessee for increasing the board.
"I regret that (Lt. Gov. Wilder) made a promise and forgot," he said. "We all make mistakes. Most of us simply have to apologize for them."
The only thing accomplished by this is just to give Republicans a little more ammunition to use in 2006, and that's really the last thing Democrats need to be doing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A "Third Way" on Abortion 

Here's something I like: working with national issues on a local level.

E.J. Dionne's column today in the Post talks about how a New York politician is finding real middle ground on abortion.

The issue of abortion is always hard for faith-based liberals. As a feminist and a Democrat, I believe abortion should be safe, rare and legal. As a Christian (and as a human, for that matter) I believe that life is to be preserved whenever possible.

Here's an excerpt from Dionne's column:
Suozzi runs a county government, so more is asked of him than just a string of nice words. He has put $3 million in county funds on the table to support homes for single mothers, to promote adoptions and to provide information on all forms of family planning, including -- to hold the culture warriors at bay -- contraception, "natural family planning" and abstinence.
In recent weeks, I've also been reading Jim Wallis' (of Sojourners Magazine, among other organizations) new book, God's Politics. In it, he also emphasizes this need for the pro-choice community, especially those of us who are people of faith, to force the issue on really taking steps to reduce abortions. As Dionne's subject put it,
"A decade ago, I was attending Mass and a priest said that abortion would probably stay legal for the rest of his life," Suozzi said on the phone the other day. "It struck me at the time that maybe we should stop arguing about the legality of abortion and try to figure out how to reduce the number of abortions."
Here's where this really comes together for me, though: This is a way in which Democrats can stop talking and start walking on the abortion issue. By pointing to real information that shows education and options mean less abortions, we show that we are for a woman's constitutional right to control her own body and at the same time believe that we should do everything we can to reduce the number of abortions.

This makes good sense as policy, good sense morally and good sense politically. So what's stopping us?

Monday, May 16, 2005

New Blog 

I'm a fan and supporter of the new Center for a Better South. It's a new think tank aimed at progressive solutions to policy and politics in the South. From poverty to the environment, it seems to have a lot of potential. Plus, they are associated with the Center for American Progress, which is always a good thing.

Anyway, just got an e-mail from Andy at the Center for a Better South today and was pleased to see they are starting a new blog. Right now, it seems to be in its infancy, but given the organization, it has the potential to grow into a great hub.

So, go check it out.

The New Waterfront 

On some level, it seems like the new waterfront opening marks the real transition to the Littlefield administration. Leave it to the master politician to not only go out on a high note, but to go out on a high note that virtually ensures that your successor won't be able to match it.

As political theatre, it's really good stuff.

Here's what is hanging me up, though: Will Republicans in, say, Tullahoma give a flip that Bob Corker raised a lot of money to build new stuff on the river here? Will it resonate against candidates who will be howling about abortion and "the homosexual agenda"?

Who knows? Joe blogged a bit last week on the idea of Corker running for governor, and I was struck with the thought that I would actually vote for him, assuming the Democratic candidate wasn't someone I could really get behind.

I think I am just left with the idea that, despite his many accomplishments for Chattanooga, Corker will not be able to translate those accomplishments into something easily digestible for a statewide Senate run. And in some way, if Democrats are lucky enough to run against Ed Bryant, then all the better.

And, um, where the hell is Harold Ford?

(PS: I'm back - in a shocking upset, the real world took over my life substantially the last 3 weeks or so. I have a big family event coming up soon, so I may be light for a while, but I'm here.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Sorry for the disappearing act, my cable modem went sour and it took days to get repaired.

Gee, thanks, Comcast.


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