Friday, September 30, 2005

Cotton: "You don't want what I have." 

Well, no kidding.

The TFP begins to fill in some blanks in yesterday's arrest of William Cotton. They also provide a totally silly disservice to their readers with a redacted version of the FBI affidavit. If altering the content of publicly available documents and preventing the unfettered flow of information is part of "Times Free Press" style, then maybe it's time for Tom Griscom to change the stylebook.

I digress.

As I said yesterday, it's pretty clear that he knew this was coming, and his abrupt exit from the County Commission meeting yesterday would seem to cement that:
Shortly after casting his vote for Jeffrey Wilson, who won the temporary appointment, Mr. Cotton asked his colleagues if he could be excused.

"I don't feel well," he said.

After leaving through a door behind the dais, Mr. Cotton stepped onto an elevator and quietly said, "I have the flu. You don’t want what I have."

At that point, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Lee had not signed the arrest warrant for the commissioner. Mr. Cotton walked past a few uniformed sheriff ’s deputies and undercover agents, stopping briefly as a court security officer whispered in his ear.

After leaving the Hamilton County Courthouse, Mr. Cotton drove toward St. Elmo and his Alton Park home. Several unmarked patrol cars followed him.

Mr. Cotton drove around for about 15 minutes, with no apparent destination, police officials said. Meanwhile, pursuing officers learned that Judge Lee had signed the arrest warrant shortly before 11 a.m. A few minutes later, Mr. Cotton pulled in front of his home at 4213 Ohls Ave.

Authorities called Mr. Cotton on the telephone and asked him to come outside. The commissioner stepped onto his porch, walked down several stairs and was met by a half dozen officers. They handcuffed Mr. Cotton, frisked him and placed him in the back seat of an unmarked patrol car.
This could not happen to a nicer guy. Anyone who has been around politics in this county has known that William Cotton was a crook for a long time. I feel safe in saying that there are a lot of local Democrats who are breathing a sigh of relief that Cotton has been neutralized, at least for now. Some of those same Democrats, though, are desperately and eagerly hoping that Warren Mackey can first win, and then work to clean up the system that William Cotton built around him.

Also, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Stuart James posted an update at HamDems. Usual stuff, but interesting nonetheless.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

William Cotton Arrested in Tennessee Waltz 

This just in. Totally amazing, but on some level, I always knew that if there was rank political corruption going on, William Cotton had to be involved.

Updates to come, surely.

UPDATE: Brittney at Nashville is Talking has the first story to move on the AP wire.

UPDATE 2: Slay the fatted calf, the TFP has updated their Web site. Interesting color with the unmarked cars following him home. I think it's pretty clear the arrest was negotiated, since he just all of a sudden changed his vote on the 5th District school board member and then went home and got arrested. More to come, I'm sure...

UPDATE 3: Cotton is such a pompous ass. Go to the Chattanoogan site and read some of the transcripts they have posted at the link above. What a jackass.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let's Dance (With running Grammar Commentary!) 

Since "Evil Conservative" didn't leave me an e-mail address when he posted his ever-so-trolly comment below, I guess that means he wants to be taken to the woodshed right up here.

(And look, I'll give you your very own running grammar, spelling and punctuation lesson, no charge!)

May I be so bold as to posit that Al Gore might not be the most important thing you should be focusing on? Do the math, man. More people want cleaner air than dirtier air. More people want troops ready to protect us than off getting killed in a silly quagmire with no end in sight. More people want a balanced budget than a lifetime of insurmountable debt. More people want their Social Security protected instead of privatized.

(That's regardless of, not "regardless to" or "regardless if" if you're keeping score at home.)

You know what, let's talk about gas prices. Let's talk about what Republicans have done to control gas prices. Oh, wait, not a thing. It took a massive hurricane horning in on oil company profits before Republicans even bothered to pay attention. Understandable, since the profits they take from insider trading off the family business makes it easy to ignore those numbers at the pump.

(You might be surprised to learn that the words how and truly don't include the letter e. But I digress...)

And speaking of things that are easy to ignore, how do you think it will look to have the pictures of Republicans laughing about reclining on the veranda sipping mint juleps while Al Gore saw there was a problem with the hurricane response and just rented his own damn plane to rescue people?

(When you connect two independent clauses with a comma, you must include a word to link them, or you will write run-on sentences. And, but, nor, for, yet and so would also be acceptable.)

But here's the part I love: a Republican talking about the integrity of the vote, This from a party that removed thousands and thousands of eligible voters from the rolls in Florida (you are from Florida, right?) and Ohio because they shared the same name as a felon. This from a party that only removed black felons from the voter rolls, but certainly no Hispanics. And yes, this from a party that is willing to insist that homeless people carry an ID to the polls, but that refuses to hold the company making the voting machine accountable that every vote will get counted. Yeah, Republicans are just models of electoral fairness.

(The apostrophe does not make words plural, whether acronyms like IDs or simple words like babies.)

So, talk about Al Gore all you like, Evil Conservative. Talk about Hillary Clinton, too. Talk all you want about Jesse Jackson and Howard Dean and Harold Ford and Nancy Pelosi, too. Because while you are busy with your personal attacks, we'll be busy asking the question the Republican party fears more than any in the world:

Are you better off now than you were six years ago?

Yes, I shudder to think how little cover Republicans will have in 2006 when faced with a stagnant economy, a failed war, more poor people, an unprecedented national debt, party leaders in the House, Senate and White House all under criminal investigation and a nation fed up with platitudes and lies.

(Oh, and for goodness' sake, would you learn to spell? That's cemetery and hypocrites.)

You'll have plenty of time to worry about Al Gore, Evil, but if I were you, I'd be focused on not getting completely dominated in the midterms next year.

Monday, September 26, 2005

How 'Bout Them Vols?? 

I won't lie. I gave up hope at halftime.

And I won't say that this team is out of the woods yet.

But I love them. I love that they went into LSU, forced into playing a game that should have been put off for weeks. Forced to fly in the day of the game, and forced to play on no rest. Forced to play in a stadium filled with students who had their classes called off so they could get loud. Forced to play in the face of everyone in the nation rooting against them.'

And they won. It was ugly, it was dirty, it showed a lot of nasty underbelly, but they won. And I love them. I love Gerald Riggs because as lightfooted as he is, he got the last yard. I love Rick Clausen because even though he kept getting sent back to the bench, he never lost heart.

So, how 'bout them Vols? I sure don't want to be Ole Miss.


Run, Al, Run! 

I hope to God it is not all hot air, but Tennessee Guerilla Women links to a few places that seem to think my boy - my one and only favorite politician of all time, Al Gore - might be running for President again.

Follow all of the links in her piece. I am especially intrigued that he is giving speeches to the freakin' Sierra Club. That's not something a newly-minted media mogul would do.

And in case you thought that he had lost cred with the faithful, check out this poll from the Daily Kos:
Given these 2008 choices, I would vote for:
Edwards 8%
Clark 24%
Gore 48%
Clinton 4%
Feingold 8%
Other 2%
No Freakin' Clue 2%

Votes: 7567
Speaking just for myself, I'd do whatever it took to get that man elected.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thanks, Bill! 

Wow, could Bill Frist make the job of a liberal Tennessee blogger any easier?

I go away for a week for a couple of job interviews and such, and this buffoon commits securities fraud and is under a federal investigation!

Folks have blogged the heck out of this, but here are my thoughts, in the unlikely event you care:

1) It is pretty amazing to me that The Republican House leader, the Republican Senate leader and the Republican president;s closest adviser are all under federal investigation. This makes something like Tennessee Waltz look like child's play, huh?

2) I have to laugh at the people who say the Republicans are out to help the common man pull himself up with tax breaks for the rich and big business. Hey guys, guess what? If this doesn't show you that Bill Frist and the other Republicans have a singular interest in fattening their own wallets, I don't know what does.

3) If this does turn out to be true, will Bill Frist go to jail? They sent Martha up the river for a much smaller infraction, by comparison. Remember, Frist's money is supposed to be in a blind trust because he works for you and me, not for his own finances.

So, I'm back. Thanks for making the transition back easy, Bill!

Oh, and by the way: there's talk of "big announcements" coming tomorrow from here in Hamilton County. More when I know it...

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's My Birthday... Arrrrrr 

So, I am blessed to share my birthday with International Talk Like A Pirate Day. In this way, I could ask for no better birthday present. But here are, in no particular order, my birthday wishes:

1) To have New Orleans back.

2) To have the Market Street Bridge back.

3) To be rid of the ugly specters of William Cotton, Curtis Adams and Lou Miller.

4) To be rid of the ugly specter of Zach Wamp.

5) To have greater Chattanooga get made fun of on the Daily Show every night.

6) To play the mandolin like Sam Bush.

7) To be as carefree about my fellow Americans as George Bush.

8) To go back in time to save the future, like the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future, but I would get Al Gore elected.

9) To somehow live the rest of my life in Athens, Ga. without the Georgia fans.

10) To see the Smokies smog-free in my lifetime.

11) To see UT beat LSU in Death Valley and make up for last weekend.

12) To talk to my grandfather one last time.

13) To get NCAA College Football '06, which apparently didn't account for the fact that Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen both suck.

14) To see the day where Martin Luther King's legacy is honored by those who claim it.

15) To finally get a hole-in-one at The Sinks.

16) To look back when I'm older and think, "Damn, I had a good time when I was 26."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Ford Blogger 

You probably already knew this, because I am on the road and slow to blog at the moment, but there's a new Ford blog on the scene: Forward with Ford. David has a good blog coming together, so go check it out!

Also, in an unrelated note, the sideline reporter for Jefferson-Pilot's coverage of the Vandy-Ole Miss game today made a beautiful Warren Zevon reference when he was talking to Ole Miss' coach and, referring to one of his players, he said: "Well, he's just an excitable boy" - that made my day.

Oh, and Go Big Orange!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

W Needs to Potty, And Cheney Forgot The Pull-Ups 

I'm sure there is some significance or insightful point to this photo, but I am too damn busy laughing at it to think of one.

Oh, maybe that the leader of the free world is asking if he can go to the bathroom. I wonder if he still makes Condi wait for him outside the stall?

Okay, I'm done now. Really.

PS: Here's a brief interview with the photographer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

'It's great that we can... actually help Americans' 

Buck at smijer & Buck linked to a Democracy Now transcript that involved an interview with some soldiers patrolling the streets of New Orleans.

There was an incredibly telling exchange buried deep in the breathless questions about a dead body on the street. (I'll say up front that I'm typically skeezed by some of the "indy media" efforts. Advocacy, good; documenting reality, good; passing advocacy off as objective journalism, bad.) Amy Goodman was asking soldiers where they were stationed and about their service, and this exchange occurred:
AMY GOODMAN: What's your name?

MATTHEW COHEN: Matthew Cohen, Captain, U.S. Army.

AMY GOODMAN:Wyoming also.

MATTHEW COHEN: No, I'm from California.


MATTHEW COHEN: San Francisco.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you in Iraq?

MATTHEW COHEN: We were in southern Baghdad.

AMY GOODMAN: When did you come out?

MATTHEW COHEN: We got back last March as a unit. basically the whole company came back in late March.

AMY GOODMAN: How does this compare?

MATTHEW COHEN: I'll tell you, Ma'am, this is great to be down here. It's great that we can kind of come out and actually help Americans.
I don't know if he meant that the way it sounded to me, but man, does that ever sum it up well. This whole tragedy makes it more plain that we are not doing all we can to "actually help" Americans.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dayton and June Griffin on the Daily Show 

Tonight's Daily Show had a distinctly Southeast Tennessee flair, as reporter Ed Helms traveled to Dayton as part of the "Evolution, Schmevolution" series on the show this week.

Of course, he talked to June Griffin who was as entertaining as always, especially the part where he baited her into saying she wanted to whip "the Sodomites". But then, would you expect any less of our local hate-mongering lunatic?

His whole theme was most enjoyable, comparing Dayton to Colonial Williamsburg. I especially liked the part where he made fun for Bryan University by saying that Dayton went so far as to hire actors to play students. Anyway - catch it in a rerun if you can. The "moment of Zen" for the episode is J.C. Fugate's calling for a resolution to ban gay people from Rhea County.

As he put it, "Thank goodness this is all just a an act. Because if it was real, that would be fucking insane."

Curtis Adams: Chattanooga's Ron Burgundy? 

In the midst of a TFP story recapping the County Commission's interviews of potential school board members to replace Charles Love, there is a quote so deeply disturbing to me, I have trouble putting it in words.

Longtime Republican Commissioner Curtis Adams, who is a damnable buffoon, had this to say about the candidate who expressed her opposition to the recent property tax increase:
"She's a classy looking lady, and she talks good," Mr. Adams said. "I think with her management experience at Erlanger, she would rule out the other (candidates)."
Yes you read that right. But here it is again, in case you missed it:
"She's a classy looking lady, and she talks good," Mr. Adams said.
I don't know what on Earth Curtis was thinking when he said that, but he found a way not just to say something patently offensive but also to sound like an uneducated fool in the process.

If this whole thing doesn't come out looking like an ad for John Bailes, then I don't know what will.

At least we know Curtis' new campaign slogan: "Stay classy, East Ridge!"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself... 

(via kos.)

More Reasons To Love Al Gore 

What's my latest reason to love Al Gore? When Katrina struck, he saw there were people who needed help, figured out a way to help them, and acted on it.

In stories from Chattanooga as well as Knoxville, we see that Al Gore chartered a jet to fly to New Orleans and pick up evacuees. Not only did he just pay to charter the jet, but he flew along and helped with the effort. Better yet, despite the fact that he spearheaded this effort, he wouldn't take credit for it. From the Knoxville News-Sentinel:
Former Vice President Al Gore arranged the flight and was on board, but he declined to take credit for the airlift, fearing it would be "politicized."
And from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
Sunday’s flight was the second Mr. Gore chartered. The first landed Saturday in Knoxville with "a lot of wheelchair-bound patients," Dr. LaFon said. Darkness delayed the flight to Chattanooga until Sunday, he said.

The first passengers to disembark from the plane in Chattanooga had chronic medical needs — asthma, seizures and heart conditions — that needed immediate attention, and they were taken by ambulance to area hospitals.

Al Gore is a true statesman, and a Tennessee Volunteer in every fine sense of the word. He knew that the people of his home state would be there for the people who needed help, and he made it happen. Instead of giving speeches or issuing platitudes, he got the job done.

Kinda makes you wish he was President, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Here's a blow-by-blow of how it came about.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Firefighters As Props - So It's Come To This 

This article from the Salt Lake Tribune shows the utter lunacy of the Bush response to Katrina. We have more than 1,000 firefighters whose skills are being completely squandered:
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
Now, before you go off half-cocked about how we need to communicate with the victims, wait. As someone who communicates for a living, I couldn't agree more. But look at the last grafs of this story:
Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
It's a two-pronged travesty: First, these brave people volunteered to be in harm's way and use their skills to help the victims of Katrina. Now they are being used as a human backdrop for a President who just doesn't get it. Second, not only are their skills being wasted for FEMA, they are not in their hometowns where their vital training can be put to use.

When will George Bush and his horse magnate-cum-disaster chief Michael Brown get it? This is not just another stage-managed event. People's lives continue to hang in the balance.

(Hat tip to kos.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rhenquist Dead 

Chief Justice William Rehnquist died tonight, according to CNN and NBC. He was 80.

This is going to be a long, long few months.

Friday, September 02, 2005

AP: "Rhetoric Doesn't Match Reality" 

Can it get more damning than this?

The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent's identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn't match the public's view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.

As New Orleans descended into anarchy, President Bush and his emergency-response team congratulated each other for jobs well done and spoke of water, food and troops pouring into the ravaged city. Television pictures told a different story.
But Ron Fournier is far from done with this Herculean effort of calling a spade a spade.
It was worse when he was wrong. In one interview, Bush said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." In fact, many experts predicted a major storm would bust New Orleans' flood-control barriers.

One reason the public relations effort backfired on Bush is that Americans have seen it before.

On Iraq alone, the rhetoric has repeatedly fallen far short of reality. Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. The mission wasn't accomplished in May 2003. Most allies avoided the hard work of his "coalition of the willing." And dozens of U.S. soldiers have died since Vice President Dick Cheney declared that insurgents were in their "last throes."
Read the whole thing. It's a master stroke of explaining why Bush's response to Katrina has been so frustrating.

Why Rebuild? 

Via Brittney at Nashville is Talking, this post from S-townMike points out the ridiculous joke that is Dennis Hastert's suggestion that New Orleans not be rebuilt. He asks what would have happened if Nashville had not been rebuilt after its great flood:
What if after the '37 flood the majority of people simply said, "Let's just give the river sections of Nashville. We just shouldn't try to build in these areas. Let's just move everything to higher ground." Here's a list of what we would not have it that kind of thinking prevailed:

* Bicentennial Mall
* A greenway where an historic old ballpark used to sit
* Farmer's Market
* The Coming Museum of African-American Music and Culture
* Major residential developments like Harrison Lofts
His list goes on. The same could be said about Chattanooga. In fact, Chattanooga is the main flood point on the Tennessee River, according to TVA.

For better or worse, a vast number of American sities are built in places they probably shouldn't be. But we work around nature, and hopefully prepare well for the disasters that come. In this case, we clearly didn't.

Katrina Is Not A Photo-Op! 

Think Progress has this picture from CNN. I'll quote them:
Why are these helicopters being used as a backdrop for President Bush, instead of assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina?

Why are members of the Coast Guard being used as a backdrop for Bush’s press conference? Don’t they have more important things to do?
While Bush is posing for the cameras with rescue workers and helicopters sitting as an idle backdrop, you can help.

There is plenty of room for stage management when you are announcing your latest tax cut for the obsecenely rich or your new plan to cut Social Security, but perhaps this is something different.

"Failure of Leadership" -Chattanooga Times; "Weak and Uncertain" -Rep. Ford 

Two angles on the response from the Times Free Press today. First, an article from the AP about Harold Ford's excoriation of Bush for his "weak and uncertain" response to Katrina:
"There are all these poor people with no place to go, and the president's answer is 'hang in there?'" Ford said.
Then, a scathing editorial by the Chattanooga Times, that encapsulates much of the distress over the slow response by the federal government to Katrina.
The paucity of leadership is apparent...

...The failure of leadership extends to deeds as well as words. Though President Bush certainly was aware - or should have been aware - of Katrina's approach on Aug. 24, it appears he did little to prepare the nation for the storm's landfall. There's no indication that he ordered government planners to speed up the development of meaningful contingency plans to cope with impending disaster. Instead, he dawdled in Texas, even after the storm struck. The president did finally react Tuesday - once, he said, the magnitude of the storm became apparent to him.

He must not have been paying attention earlier. Anyone who heard or read news reports or watched CNN or the Weather Channel had a clear picture of what was about to happen. The only uncertainty was exactly where the point of impact would be...

Apparently, though, prompt action in the face of difficulty is not the way this president operates. He's energetic and decisive, flawed as his vision might be, in promoting the war in Iraq, tax cuts and changes to Social Security, but that excitement and urgency are sadly missing when it comes to the times when the nation faces its greatest perils.
Both pieces make the case that this is a clear instance of failure of leadership.

Have you helped yet? Go do it now.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

More Compassion 

This guy seems to think that the people of New Orleans should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and fix their own damn city.
As I've watched this all unfold... I've found myself totally without sympathy for the people down there. They're acting like animals. They're acting like its our job to save them. They are resentful, disrespectful, and down right pissed off that we aren't saving them fast enough. I've seen not one single moment of gratitude.

Piss on New Orleans.

No wait... looks like New Orleans already pissed on itself.

I will miss Preservation Hall though...
Wow. You know what, it is our job to save them. It's our job as a country, it's our job as a region, it's our job as damned human beings. We are not animals. We are concerned for those who need help. I could give a good gosh darn about the idiots shooting off guns. Let them stay behind and die. But the problem here is the mothers and their babies. The problem here is the grandmothers who are dying on the side of the road in wheelchairs, and their bodies are left out to rot.

This is our job, to make this better. Go do it.

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