Thursday, June 30, 2005

The New Vietnam 

This column from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post is a pretty telling comparison between the Iraq war and the Vietnam War.

I had these same thoughts myself listening to the President in his speech to the nation. It all starts to sound the same after a while, and it becomes clear that naipulation of facts is the name of the game for the administration in a dying effort to prove its relevance.

Dick Cheney is fond of talking about the "last throes" of the insurgency in Iraq. I am sturck with the idea that Bush's speech may be the last throes of his administration. You can hardly go a couple of days without hearing a reference to Bush as a lame duck. He is so bogged down in this quixotic war that it really leaves no room for him to pursue his domestic agenda.

Parallels to Vietnam seem to be cropping up everywhere. It is, as Cohen puts it, "depressing".

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Let's Talk About Balance 

While a number of my readers are located in Chattanooga, there are a few of you are from such far-flung destinations as Nashville, White House, and perhaps Bell Buckle. So, let me share with you what I and other Chattanoogans have to put up with each Sunday. Allow me to introduce Chattanooga Times Free Press columnist Steve Barrett.

While the whole thing is really pretty bad, let us focus on his most egregious offenses of the week. First, here's his take on the greatest evil ever to face the Earth in its 20,000 years of existence, Hillary Clinton:
THE AMBITIOUS SENATOR I can think of plenty of reasons to avoid voting for Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. But there is one that has nothing directly to do with whatever policies she might promote: She just wants it too much.

I don't pretend to know George W. Bush's mind or heart. (Do we ever fully know anybody'’s mind or heart this side of eternity?) But one thing for which I credit him is that he doesn't - to all appearances - take great pleasure in being president. Whether you like his policies or not, he seems to be a refreshingly reluctant commander in chief, putting up with the headaches of the job when he'd far rather be doing other things.

He does not apparently covet all the pomp and fancy digs and limousines and personal chefs that go with the office. To the contrary, he seems to tolerate rather than savor all that rigmarole. The time he spends clearing brush and otherwise tending to normal duties with his family at his home in Texas appears to give him immeasurably greater pleasure than the trappings of political power.

I get no similar feeling from Sen. Clinton. She seems to have a voracious desire for - and sense of entitlement to -— the Oval Office. She drips with ravenous ambition, even as she brushes off "premature" speculation about whether she will run in 2008.

Consider the breathtakingly condescending beginning to a piece she wrote in 2004 for The New York Times Magazine: "Now can we talk about health care?"

You may recall her failed effort during her husband's first term to have the federal government take over health care. Nor did the years that followed produce a health care program she deemed adequately socialistic. So in the former first lady's arrogant view, the failure to "talk about health care" in precisely the terms she dictated was a failure to talk about it at all during the intervening decade.

That's a 32-slice value pack of baloney. Hers are the words of a politician who sees vested in herself the lone hope for our nation. That is not an admirable quality.

I'd be a lot less nervous about Hillary Clinton if I thought that somewhere, somebody actually were having to coax her to run. But I don't think that's happening.
This guy is a total asshat. He seems to think that a desire to serve in elected office makes one a bad politician. This just in, Barrett: From Washington to Lincoln to FDR and even W's own daddy, our politicians have sought elected office because they enjoy it and it is what they are good at. While there is no value to be had in someone who pursues office for illicit motives and self-benefit, people without a desire to serve and to lead don't make good leaders. Frankly, I want a president who gives a damn - Bush, who admits he doesn't even read the newspaper, is not my picture of someone who gives a damn. I'll not belabor the part where he says it is impossible to know someone's mind and heart, and then proceed to diagnose Sen. Clinton's evil "ambitions". Oh, and by the way, that hokey "32-slice value pack of baloney" line is among the more contrived and hackneyed things I've ever read.

But here's the real gem from this week:
NOT MUCH TO SHOW FOR IT Today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the founding charter of the United Nations.

Let us pause for a moment of solemn regret.
Did I mention he's an asshat? I feel sure that Afghani refugee children, Indonesian tsunami victims and children with malaria would probably disagree.

But here is the great question: Why is there no voice to conuter Steve Barrett's? Each and every week there are neoconservative diatribes about the evils of liberals or Hillary Clinton. Why is there no opposing voice? His is a partisan political column. It is every week. The Times Free Press owes it to readers to have a balanced voice in its columns to match it's editorial pages.

Perhaps you'd like to call and tell them so: 423-756-6900. Ask for Tom Griscom. Be nice, but point out that it's ridiculous that Barrett's voice (and bad writing) go unbalanced. If you feel moved to call, leave a comment.


On the eve of George Bush's address to the nation from Fort Bragg, where he will inevitably use our troops as a political flak jacket, the news from Britain becomes even more striking.

The piece outlines letters written to Tony Blair by his most senior advisers about the brewing war in Iraq in 2002. Their advice was quite clear:
"I think there is a real risk that the administration underestimates the difficulties," David Manning, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote to the prime minister on March 14, 2002, after he returned from meetings with Condoleezza Rice, then Bush's national security adviser, and her staff. "They may agree that failure isn't an option, but this does not mean they will necessarily avoid it."

A U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the events said the concerns raised by British officials "played a useful role."

"Were they paid a tremendous amount of heed?" said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I think it's hard to say they were."
There's much more in the article. It's something to think about tonight when Bush talks about our steadfast British partners. Turns out that their doubts extended much farther then previously known. When your only ally in a war doesn't trust you farther than they can throw you, it becomes clear that the war was ill-founded in the first place.

PS: Sorry for the slow blogging, I was traveling all weekend.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Socially Engineering Karl's Office 

This is easily the funniest thing I have heard in a long time.

My God. I wish I could be ballsy enough to pull this off. I enjoyed the part where she said, "You know, I'm sure we have it here, but let me get your direct dial."

I want Karl Rove to have my direct dial number. And then the closer:

"Tell him I'm there if he needs any help."

Poor Lacy. Sometimes it really is best to just not answer the phone.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's Time For Rove To Step Down 

UPDATED with link to this morning's WP story - 6/24/05

Karl Rove has gone too far:
Rove, in a speech Wednesday evening to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, said, "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
This is completely unacceptable for the President's top advisor to say. It's completely unacceptable for anyone to say.

If Howard Dean gets strung up for saying Republicans are White and Christian, then Karl Rove should be run out of town on a rail for this. I don't want an apology. While this isn't the first time Republicans have made political hay out of the 9/11 attacks, I want Democrats to make this the last.

Kos has many great links to commentary on this, but his own is very well-put. Also, Hunter points out the rank hypocrisy here by highlighting Karl Rove's role as a treasonous traitor by revealing Valerie Plame's identity as a spy.

Perhaps the most crushing punch to Karl Rove's future is this statement from the families of September 11 victims:
As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative or any liberal, stakes a "high ground" position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive.

We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.
Karl Rove must resign, and resign immediately. There is no other acceptable option.

Flag Burning 

I was all fired up to write a post about the flag-burning amendment once again wending its way through Congress, but smijer beat me to it with a post that sums up exactly what I was thinking.

Summing it up:
Proponents of the amendment say that we opponents are "out of touch" with public sentiment. Maybe some of us are. Not me - I know that public sentiment is violently against flag burning, and not apt to realize that banning flag-burning is even more unpatriotic than flag-burning itself.

Opponents should fight against passage of the amendment, but we should also work on getting the general public thinking more clearly about the issue.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Maybe you should think about calling Lamar! and Bill Frist about this, and tell them to respect America's basic freedom of expression. Not that they'll listen.

Lamar! can be reached at (202) 224-4944.
Frist can be reached at (202) 224-3344

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The GOP, Deadbeat Politicians 

Today's front page story in the Times Free Press about the National Republican Congressional Committee's failure to pay its $20,000 in fines for breaking election law is quite amazing.

It doesn't really get tons more damning than this. To wit:
"Twenty thousand dollars may not seem like a lot of money for a multimillion-dollar campaign organization, but it's impossible to lose track of," said Craig Varoga, a columnist for Campaigns & Elections magazine and a Houston-based Democratic political consultant.

Carl Forti spokesman for the congressional committee, said Tuesday that his group was researching the matter, and he could not comment yet.
What on earth is there to research? Republicans are shafting Tennesseans like you and me because they don't feel a need to pay fines for breaking the law.

But, maybe you say they didn't know the fines were there, that an organization busy saving the world from liberals might just not know they owe a fine to the citizens of Tennessee. Perhaps more damning analysis will clear that up:
The NRCC's two unpaid fines, each for $10,000, stem from its failure to file disclosure reports for both the second and third quarters in 2002, according to records. In the two years before that, the NRCC was fined four times for a total of $4,025. The organization paid those fines, records show.

Mr. Varoga said it appeared the National Republican Congressional Committee stopped paying the fines when they became too large.

"The curious thing about this is they paid the smaller fines, which was an obvious indication they were paying attention at the time," he said.
This is ridiculous. I can't understate the point enough: the Republican party broke the law. They were fined for breaking the law. They still have not paid that fine, three years later.

Would you trust this party with your own budget? With your family's? How about with your country's?

1,000 Hits! Thanks! 

This is utterly shameless and, in the end, not that exciting to any of you, but as of 10:59:15 (eastern) this morning, The Tennessee Liberal had it's 1,000th hit.

Perhaps most heartening to me is that it is someone who actually read the blog enough to either come here from a bookmark or type the address themselves.

If you were that person who visited at 10:59:15, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment. It would just be fun to know who you are.

Here's to many happy returns. It's nice to know at least a few folks drop by.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hyperbole + Myopia + Political Stunts = Moving Backwards 

I am sure anyone reading this has probably seen the news about protestors holding a sit-in at Governor Bredesen's office.

Sharon Cobb, whose work I respect a good deal, has been the mouthpiece of the protestors thus far.

Now, I feel it important to point out that I am a proud liberal and a proud Democrat. I believe that we are the party and the political persuasion that has always stood up for the little guy and protected the best interests of all the people over the interests of a select few.

In this case, though, the protestors have let their narrow-minded hatred of Phil Bredesen get in the way of what is best for the people who stand to lose their health care. By having this sit in, the protestors made two miscalculations:

1) They assumed they would be arrested as soon as they walked in. How silly. First of, the Capitol is a public building, and unless you are being violent or disruptive, you're welcome to stay. Plus, are they so blond as to think that Gov. Bredesen would just frog-march someone in a wheelchair out the front of the Capitol himself? These people have blinded themselves to the reality that the Governor was faced with a lose-lose choice and he chose the option he believed would hurt the fewest people. If TennCare was allowed to continue, the state would simply not have been able to stand under the weight of the program. That would have damaged social services for Tenneseans from DCS to Education to public safety. No one, including the Governor or any of his staff, want to take away people's insurance. And it sucks. It sucks that many people will be left without health care. But honestly, it sucks that Hillary Clinton's health plan was shot down in 1993 that would have avoided situations like this.

2) They assume that by attacking Bredesen politically, he will be forced to cave to their demands. By resorting to ridiculous hyperbole that they will "die at the hands of Phil Bredesen" and other nonsense, these enrollee advocates only serve to set their cause back. What on earth do you think Van Hilleary would have done with TennCare? Do you think he would have held meetings and tried to reduce the number of enrollees cut? No way. He would have cut the program as fast as possible, blamed poor people for not pulling themselves up out of poverty with the word of God. By working to weaken Bredesen instead of saving health care for as many enrollees as possible, they only provide an opening for people who would rather make life a lot harder on poor people around the state. I feel sure that many of you were the people who thought it would be fun to vote for Ralph Nader in 2000 because Al Gore wasn't liberal enough for you - $1,000,000,000,000 in debt and increased tax burdens on the poor later, and, you'd think folks would have figured out that when you try to hurt Democrats who aren't left enough for you, you get stuck with some damned Republican.

So, protestors, it's time to stop complaining about how you're being treated in this sit-in and start acting in a real way on behalf of the people who need it: average enrollees. Instead of wasting airtime making demands for clergy to visit the protestors, start talking about how you would keep more enrollees on without bankrupting the state. Instead of making the ridiculous comparison between your voluntary protest and the crap that goes on in U.S. prison camps, why don't you show us how to fix TennCare and save people's lives?

Till then, you are spinning your wheels, losing valuable time, and setting back your cause and the cause of poor and middle-class Tennesseans for years to come.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Baptists Are Coming! The Baptists Are Coming! 

So, for those of you who don't know, the Southern Baptist Convention's actual, well, convention is taking place in Nashville. This typically means the inevitable articles that just get it wrong about what Southern Baptists really are. While I'm sure there will plenty of that, there have been two very good stories in the Times Free Press that have presented a more realistic and nuanced picture than you typically get.

The first addressed the lingering issue of a resolution that has popped up recently admonishing Baptists to remove their children from public schools. Even any of the most stringent conservative rulers of the SBC organization realize this is just a silly idea, and it was good to see this shown:
SBC President Bobby Welch, a pastor in Daytona Beach, Fla., said Baptists should not retreat from public schools, adding that many Southern Baptists cannot afford to homeschool their children or send them to private Christian schools.

"I believe that public schools offer the greatest mission field," Welch said. "We are put on this planet as change agents. It seems contrary to me we would draw back from the opportunity to make a change. Public schools are a great place to make a difference."
While I am quite sure that I don't want to make the kind of difference in public schools that Bobby Welch wants to make, the point is valid across all interpretations of what Baptists are about. By withdrawing from society, we would act in polar opposition to Jesus' own actions. It's good to see some monicum of level-headedness winning the day here. I was most encouraged however, by the rather simple add-on at the very end of the piece:
With more than 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is second in size to only the Roman Catholic Church in the nation. Resolutions approved by the convention are nonbinding, and all member churches are autonomous in their ministries.
How refreshing to see this point be made. I harp on it, but it remains true - if the SBC tells my church to jump, we'll most likely sit in response. There is no central structure of command.

The second piece gets much more into some of the very real issues facing Southern Baptists as we began to reap what was sown in the conservative takeover. As more people advocate a withdrawal from society, we drift farther from the Great Commissions. While the article relies too much, perhaps, on the statistic of people being baptized, the larger point is clear:
"The Southern Baptist Convention is less evangelistic today than it was in the years preceding the conservative resurgence," wrote Thom Rainer, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.
And in another shock, I once again, agree - if in a slant sort of way - with Bobby Welch:
But for the last couple of decades, news out of annual conventions has had more to do with battles against Baptist moderates, restatements of theology and resolutions condemning Disney and homosexuality.

That talk has been useful, but only to a point, Welch said.

"Talking doesn't get you much. It'’s getting us pretty much what we got," he said. "Look at the Muslims and the Mormons and the Jehovah'’s Witnesses. They'’re not just talking. They're out here walking the streets, out there meeting community needs."
Now, I don't think we have to worry about Muslims taking over America as much as Bobby does, acertainlyianly don't think any of that talk has been useful at all, but I think his larger point here is a good one. Southern Baptists have made a habicondemningeming the evil of the world wignoringrning our charge to make it better. and the moves towards more stricture in the denomination are having an impact, as well. The article quotes Arthur Farnsley, a religious scholar at IUPUI about this:
"Some very conservative folks may have been drawn back to the more '‘pure' denomination, but a lot of the Roger Williams-type Baptists who liked religious liberty were pushed away," Farnsley said. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America in 1639 and was a champion of "soul liberty," the right of each individual to complete freedom of opinion about religion.
Indeed, it is a lack of soul liberty that runs people like me away from the SBC and towards organizations like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

In any case, these two articles do a good job of showing the real issues affecting the convention - it's not just about conservative vs. moderate, but has to do with a shift away from the principles on which the denomination was founded.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Welcome, Bob 

Bob Tuke is elected chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. He has big shoes to fill, but I feel optimistic about his ability to fill them.

So, Godspeed, best of luck, and give 'em hell.

Strange Times in SKBubba-land 

This exchange between a Knoxville Metro Pulse part-owner and South Knox Bubba is not a good thing. Now, I am most certainly a bit player in the larger world of Tennessee blogging, while I consider SKB one of the greats, and certainly my inspiration for a blog that covers the local, the state and the national in a healthy mix.

It strikes me that a newspaper, be it a daily or an alt-weekly should be able to handle criticism leveled by readers. I think both the TFP and the Pulse in Chattanooga both do this well. This part-owner of the Metro Pulse seems to have gone off on Bubba for merely hosting a site where someone ripped on one of the articles i his piece written by some cub reporters.

Part of the nature of the Internet is that it is democratic, in the purest sense of the word. Brian Conley needs to recognize that fact and let SKB run his site without threatening his anonymity. As an anonymous blogger myself, it's usually done with good reason. Atrios takes on this angle well, and shows why Conley is making quite a wanker of himself by having forced Bubba to reveal his identity.

Anyway, this is a bit of a ramble, but consider it a post of support for South Knox Bubba. He's one of the good guys.

Ok, then.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

If Lamar! Doesn't Like Wind Farms, He Can Call His Senators 

I feel sure that Senators Kennedy and Kerry would love to hear from one of their constituents.

Today's TFP has a wonderful piece from the AP about the fact that Sen. Lamar! Alexander has some personal motive in opposing wind farms as an energy source. Tunrs out he has some land for a summer home on the Cape in Massachushetts. How very Yankee of him - I'm sure he spends a lot of time with other Tennesseans at their summer homes. Anyway, it looks like the reason he doesn't like the wind farms is there's one right by his place on the Cape.

The legislative director for the wind power folks has it right:
Alexander has never hidden the Massachusetts property, listing it on required disclosure forms since he bought it in 2001. But its appearance on disclosure forms released Tuesday surprised wind supporters and raised questions about whether a contentious proposal to erect 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound factors into Alexander'’s recent opposition to windmills. "It raises a question," said Jaime Steve, legislative director for the American Wind Energy Association. "This is high-level '‘not in my backyard.'"’
To say the least.

Now is the time for Lamar! to admit he is woefully out of touch. His untenable stance against apologizing for lynching aside, he fails to grasp the urgent need for a shift to new forms of power as soon as possible. The Smokies are becoming clogged and the environmental progress of cities like Chattanooga is being set back due to TVA's coal-fired monstrosities. His self-protectionism only shows that he is out of touch with the feelings of everyday Tenesseeans who are nature-loving hunters, fishermen and conservationists.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Name Of The Band Is COWBOY MOUTH! 

Just for Joe, here's a little Riverbend blogging, pure and simple.

If you missed the Cowboy Mouth show last night, you missed the best show I have ever seen at Riverbend, bar none. Believe me when I say this is not something I would lay down lightly.

I had my doubts about lead singer Fred Le Blanc's ability to get a Riverbend crowd excited to his high standards. Remember, this is the festival known for incredibly passive crowds. But, by God, he got the people off their asses, easy as that. It took him climbing off the stage, per his usual approach and literally yanking people up from their folding chairs, but by the 3rd song, the crowd was packed tight and the energy was all the way there.

The songs were a good mix of old and new stuff, with one of my personal favorites, Whatcha Gonna Do?, thrown in there for fun. The highlight of the show was when Fred pulled four kids out of the crowd from people's shoulders to come on stage with him and play the drums on all-time classic Jenny Says. The kids went nuts, including the son of one local TV reporter, who got on stage and found his inner Fred, putting his fist in the air with drumstick in hand.

More or less, it rocked. It certainly made Big and Rich look like the complete buffoons they are. But what else would you expect when the name of the band is... COWBOY MOUTH!

Ahem, I said, when the name of the band is... COWBOY MOUTH!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Behind The Curve 

I'm a bit behind the curve in welcoming my friends and fellow party members at the HamDems blog to the world of blogging! It looks like they are off to a great start with Kos regular Sandy on Signal and Alice holding down the fort.

Good for them for pointing out the absolute lunacy of Lamar Alexander not supporting the Senate's apology for not passing anti-lynching legislation. Who is he trying to pander to?

And as this Americablog post points out (via Kos), we should not believe the hype on why he didn't participate. Say what you will about it being political theater, but it seems like a no brainer to participate in.

So, welcome again, HamDems. Kick some ass.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Why Don't Republicans Want Ethics Reform? 

Imagine my disappointment to get home from a wonderful Bessie Smith Strut to find that the GOP has decided that they just can't leave ethics well enough alone as a bipartisan reform effort. Not even close, it would seem.

The Republican party in the State of Tennessee is so blinded by politics as to not see the real issues facing our state. Instead of working to enact real, bipartisan ethics reform in the Legislature, they try to connect John Ford and Phil Bredesen through some twisted game of connect-the-dots.

Let's talk turkey for a minute, shall we? The Republicans are in charge of the State Legislature (John Wilder and Jimmy Naifeh notwithstanding). It is clear that they have the biggest interest in dragging their feet and obfuscating real ethics reform. The system in Nashville is designed to make kings and queens of legislators with no accountability in place. The TFP made this point today.

So, the GOP stands to benefit from lax ethics rules. They feel left out of the game. Thus, they make ridiculous insinuations about a Governor who almost everyone agrees has brought strong ethical leadership back to Tennessee after eight years of utterly corrupt Republican rule under soon-to-be-jailed ex-Governor Sundquist.

Let's focus on the real need here: cleaning up the Legislature's ethics rules and bringing some accountability to the table. Democrats want it. Republicans, it seems, would rather waste time on quixotic quests of partisan politics. Who do you trust more?

The Spectacle 

First off, sorry for the delay in blogging - just upgraded computers and have been more preoccupied with getting my AirPort up and running than blogging for a few days - heresy, I know.

I thought the weekend finished out well with the TFP Bonnaroo blog. My major criticism is that it just looks really ugly, but you know, if that's the biggest criticism, it's not bad. But the question now is how will they continue blogging?

So, I hate celebrity trials. All of them. They drive me nuts. So, I am glad this one is over. Good riddance. The ridiculous spectacle is, well, a total waste of the world's energy. We have people dying in a war and the best thing our media can do is report live on Michael Jackson's car driving down the freaking interstate.

Okay, vent over. Normal blogging to resume tomorrow. I am off to go Strutting now.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I'm Impressed 

So, The TFP Bonnaroo blog is definitely doing it for me. I just enjoy the color, and the nearly-liveblogging aspects of it. Plus, it's enjoyable to see something related to the TFP not use the phrase "sources said".

Cheers to Michael Davis and Dorie Turner for living the dream of every music fan who's spent some time around a festival: Having press passes and using them to the best of their ability.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Sixth(?) Estate 

Over at the Civic Forum, Joe has some good thoughts on my post below about the Pulse story on Enterprise South.

To get philosophical (which is sort of what this blog was supposed to be, back in it's early days), the idea of unchecked anything in a democracy strikes me as a bad idea. So, we develop a sort of cyclical system - the media watchdogs the government and corporations and reports to the people about what is going on. That system alone worked fine in America for a good bit of time. But then, media began to succumb to its corporate nature, and the lively media became monolithic (some towns - like Chattanooga - lasted longer than others). So, you find publications like the Pulse in Chattanooga and Metro Pulse in Knoxville, even the City Paper in Washington, that serve as another outlet for news and keep an eye on the bigger media. The Pulse has been doing quite a good job of this, and it's to be commended. Local blogs are starting to pick up that slack, too.

But the Pulse also has a responsibility to its readers. Many of them probably don't read the paper or even watch TV news regularly. Even if they do, most probably don;t delve into the business section to read some fun economic development stories. But that's where a story like the one in the Pulse comes in. Contrary to the snarky title of my post, I love that the Pulse is writing stories about this, and about the mosque in Dalton. This is a great thing. But, given that they may be someone's only fleeting exposure to a topic, it is even more incumbent upon them to get it right. They don't have to play it like (in their words) Ye Olde Times Free Presse, but they need to play a story at the proper volume.

And that's what (I think) you have geeky bloggers like us for. Just to help steer the ship, even a little with what little expertise we may have.

This is Overdue 

It's pretty amazing what you can find on the Chattablogs page.

Looks like the County Democratic Party is getting into the blogging businesswith a lovely "Lorem ipsum" post from the party Secretary, Alice O'Dea. Here's hoping it's a good one. Once the blog gets rolling, I'll blogroll it. As it were.

Tuke for Chair? 

I did a little investigative work (read: called some people) and got some more info on the Democratic chair's slot. It looks like the only declared candidate, as of today, is Bob Tuke, a Nashville attorney and the party's current Treasurer. He is, by all accounts, the leading candidate.

I feel sure, though, this being the Democratic party and all, that there will be a candidate emerge from East Tennessee somewhere. I doubt that a Memphis candidate would have much pull, given that the entire Memphis political machine was in court yesterday.

A couple of possible East Tennessee candidates would include (with the caveat that I am tilting at windmills, as always):

Jim Hall, Signal Mountain resident, national figure, general big shot.
Plusses:Well-known, well-liked. Strong organizer, progressive.
Minuses:Wants to run for office, not party positions.

Jimmy Bilbo, Cleveland native, attorney, TNDP Executive Committee member since the mid-70s.
Plusses:Long-time activist, no major power grabs before.
Minuses:Not particularly well-known, no high-end experience.

I'm sure there are others, but these two came to mind. I don't know that Tuke will walk away with it, but if he can shore up his support over the next few days, his experience as Treasurer and Nashville connections will put him over the top.

As for thoughts behind Button's departure the word is still that he really does just want to get back to his family. He was just re-elected five months ago, though, which makes you wonder why he didn't just stop then. It seems distinctly possible that Tennessee Waltz may have just left him completely fed up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Maybe The Pulse Should Stick to Comedy 

If you stroll through the Web site of our latest Chattanooga weekly, you'll find a great example of its divergent talents: You really shouldn't miss the gut-bustingly funny spoof of the article in the TFP today extolling the wonders of its new blog.

But, please, guys, stick to the tongue-in-cheek comedy and stay away from the economic development news. In this week's print edition, there is an article that has the breathless feel of a big scoop. Except, it's, um, not even close.

Anyone who has followed the Project Pinetree happenings at Enterprise South would know that Chrysler has not even been among the names seriously considered since Chattanooga started ending up on short lists. Kudos to Aaron Mesh for getting the story right about the drama that happened in Savannah/Pooler between Chrysler, Georgia's Economic Development Department and other fine state agencies with great employees. Here's the thing: when Chrysler bailed on a major plant in Savannah, they made it clear that they just weren't going to build a big plant. And Chattanooga is on the short list for a major, Tier I plant. It's clear that while Chrysler has been shopping in the South, something on the scale of Enterprise South isn't what they are looking for.

Unfortunately, though, that isn't the worst part about the piece. Aaron makes a big deal of calling the three other companies who are known to be looking to expand, and tries to parse the meaning of their words. This is a silly endeavor of the highest proportions.

All of these negotiations are conducted in secret. Secret because the companies don't want to show their hands on manufacturing plans to their competitors, and secret because states don't want to reveal their incentive packages to other states just to be one-upped. It would be very unlikely that the PR person who talks to mid-size alt-weeklies would be involved with these kind of negotiations to begin with, and a denial even if they did is standard form.

This is all a long way of saying: Sorry, Pulse, but there's just no news here. But hey, those comedy bits on your blog really are priceless!

Good Chair, Bad Timing 

I was not too happy to see the announcement today that Randy Button had resigned as party chair for the state of Tennessee. He was certainly a good leader, and did well managing the sometimes divergent interests in the party.

His departure seems a bit ill-timed, though, given the Tennessee Waltz issues. While it is, of course, a bipartisan issue, I feel like Randy would have been a good voice to counter some of the inevitable attack politics coming from the TeamGOP types. While the usual bromides about spending more time with family are there, you have wonder what would be next for Randy.

You also have to wonder who could potentially step in to take his place. I'll do a little snooping around and see what the people I know are thinking. I will plead a certain level of ignorance to some of the statewide behind-the-scenes figures.

Also, how much do you think Harold Ford doesn't want his dear old Uncle John sticking up for him? Wow, does John Ford ever suck.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Think Diff... I mean, Think Like Everyone Else 

So, I am a big geek. Moreover, I am a big Apple geek. I love the things. I am poring over my next computer purchase now, and it is between an iMac and a Powerbook.

This story, along with this one from the Post, leave me worried, though.

The joy of being an Apple person is that you know you are getting something totally unlike what more than 90 percent of people would ever dream of owning. And you know that it's better. Yeah, it's smug and snotty, but by God, they are just better computers because they are built with different architecture from the bottom up.

I lack the lavish devotion some people have to Steve Jobs. I think he's smart as hell, but he's not Jesus, unlike the guy quoted in the Post article seems to think:
"If Apple deems it a smart move to make this transition, I'm all in favor of it," Phil Shapiro, a Mac enthusiast in Arlington, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "Steve Jobs -- and his board of directors -- are very smart. Their wisdom becomes revealed to us over time."
That's just a bit creepy. Anyway, I'm worried about where this will take Apple. Will be just be a different kind of Windows box now? Who knows? Even as I write, I'm using an incompetent POS Dell that breaks easily once a week and is the clunkiest thing I have ever used. I fear that is where my beautiful, beautiful Macs are headed.

Thus endeth the geek blogging. Politics to resume shortly.

More Waltzing Questions 

(UPDATE: What is up with John Wilson putting Ward's resignation under "Student Scene"? I know he's a trusted source, and John plays by the old Free Press rules of helping people who help you, but really - talk about burying the story.)

I'm sure that as time goes on this will change, but the Tennessee Waltz indictments just keep leaving me with more questions than answers. Today's piece in the Times Free Press on Ward Crutchfield claiming his innocence triggered some thoughts:

1) Why is Ward being so out there in publicly claiming his innocence? As a PR person myself, I commend him for being proactive, but still. It seems like a big-time game of brinksmanship, given the kind of evidence they had on Ford. While Ford may have been the big fish in the investigation, Ward presents a mighty nice target. At the same time, given the gravity of the charges, brinksmanship may be the only viable strategy.

2) With Republicans in charge, how do they handle removing Ward from committee positions? At this point, they have a bit of a catch-22. If they move to have the Ethics Committee hearing ASAP, Republicans potentially open themselves up to beating a dead horse, or at least moving unnecessarily, as you see the point made in the article above. If they don't act, they open themselves up to being soft on corrupt legislators. I've said it before, but it seems potentially advantageous for Democrats to not have sway over the Senate given the hornet's nest of the indictments.

3) What is Marty Puryear's angle? He is quoted a ton in articles like today's about the School Board aspect of the Waltz. We know that he has wanted to run for some larger County-wide offices, including Trustee, before. Is he going out of his way to be the voice on this stuff?

When this whole thing finally unravels, I think that we'll be looking at an amazingly changed political landscape in Hamilton County without a doubt. At the very least, the Crutchfield machine will be weakened, especially with Charles Love being almost surely neutralized. With Puryear and other Republicans smelling the chance to make moves, along with a seemingly likely Claude Ramsey retirement, the next two to four years could bring sea change to county politics.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Times Free Press Blogging? The Times They Are A-Changin' 

So, I noticed an ad in Sunday's paper mentioning a new TFP blog and referring folks to the TFP homepage. It made reference to Bonnaroo and Riverbend, so I guess it will have an entertainment focus.

But wouldn't it be interesting if the TFP started blogging on news? My goodness, this could mean, well, actual real news available on the TFP site. Maybe even breaking news of some sort. Tom Griscom and Larry Henry are still holding focus groups with old people to determine what this "breaking news" might consist of.

Now, let me say that the TFP is pretty much the only news source that I really trust for Chattanooga info. But let's not kid ourselves - they are the slowest news outlet ever. Never mind the fact that it takes three clicks on their site before even having the chance to read a headline. The site is never updated. EVER. When the biggest story in recent memory in our state broke, you certainly wouldn't find anything on the TFP site. Everyone else from the Pulse blog to the Tennessean had at least something.

Anyway - here's hoping this mysterious and unexplained TFP blogging project goes well. It could potentially fill in a major hole in their coverage. Till then, I'll just keep reading press releases rewritten in their entirety on the Chattanoogan.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Just a note to let you know I'll be away through Sunday. But why not comment on something of interest to you, besides divorce laws?

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