April 30, 2005
Is This A Left-Wing Blog?
I would have simply commented on the post at Blogging for Bryant and not made an entry here, but since Blogger Sucks I cannot. So I am putting the question out to you, the readers: Is this blog "liberal?" I invite those at B4B to illuminate the rest of us as to how they arrived at that description.
I have usually made an effort to be neutral on this blog, although with certainty I have put forth personal opinions on many a topic. (Objectivity is more appropriate to the Candidate Pages than to the blog entries themselves.) I am an Independent. I find as much value in each political party's platform as I can, instead of simply rejecting a party in its entirety because of a few disagreeable planks, as most Republicans and Democrats tend to do. I use the same objective method when I endorse and vote for candidates.
If this more or less middle ground is as far Left as B4Bers can see, they are either further to the Right than I thought, or downright nearsighted. I am thinking it's the latter, because I don't imagine that most of them are out-and-out Nazis, and because this is what politically myopic people tend to do: they imagine that the views from their extremist corners are far more widely held, and thus closer to the Center, than what is borne out in reality.
If I were "liberal" or "left-wing" I wouldn't be endorsing Bob Corker. I wouldn't even be endorsing either of the Democratic candidates. Sure, sometimes my independently arrived at positions resonate with those put forth by those to the Left. Sometimes. At other times, I find harmony with conservative and libertarian tenets.
I have been berated, by friends who really are left-wing, for my support of Corker. Their view is that "anyone who is associated with the GOP's national platform in any way cannot be good." I happen to disagree. Even though Bob Corker, who emphatically supports the national Republican Party, has views that differ from some of mine, that does nothing to deter my support for his candidacy. Politics as a means to the end of actually getting things done, as opposed to politics for politics' sake, is a highly practical matter. In the end, practical matters outrank idealism and ideology, and extremists (on both sides) fail miserably to reach that conclusion.
So, go ahead, Bloggers for Bryant, more rightly called bloggers for sectarian authoritarianism, and label this blog however you wish. Since, as the saying goes, the shoe doesn't fit, it JUST doesn't matter. I'll be over here, walking down the center line (barefoot, naturally). If I occasionally veer a little one way or another, it's likely done to avoid stepping on something that has wandered (slithered) astray from its ditch.
Uncommon House Guests
The previous owners of our house did a good thing by finishing the basement. Some of their choices were, well, different than ones we might have made, such as a bathroom with brown fixtures, one of which is a double lavatory.
I never use one of the sinks. Its dryness has apparently created an "inverse oasis" in which a couple different critters have chosen to dwell, or at least to hang out for a while.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at the right-hand sink (the one I use) and I thought I saw a bit of motion right around the drain opening of the left-hand sink. I stared. I didn't see anything else, and it was either early morning or late-night, so I could have simply chalked it up to the near-hallucinatory state I'm found in at those times of day; but I was certain I had seen something move, so I leaned closer. I then saw the bit of silk webbing stretched between the drain lip and the raised stopper, and I knew then that I wasn't hallucinating, but had seen some sort of spider darting back into the dry well.
I kept an eye out for additional motion, and soon I was rewarded with a full sighting of the spider. She must not have detected me standing over her until I moved or something, because she suddenly disappeared down the drain. I don't know what kind of spider it is, but after a few quick searches online I have come up with the photo below as a best guess (this is called a Grass Spider and usually spends its time outdoors, but is known to enjoy more modern accommodations as well). Hey, as long as there are no Black Widow or Brown Recluse hanging around, I am all about any help I can get in controlling mosquitos, gnats, flies, and other pesky insects. (One cob spider at the opposite end of the basement single-handedly rid the house of a whole pile of those non-native ladybugs late last Fall.)
Copyright © 1997 Regents of the University of Minnesota.
This morning, I noticed quite a different guest in the same sink. A Red-Sided Flat Millipede was trying (unsuccessfully) to crawl out of the sink. I'm not sure how it got in there. It could have crawled up from the drain; but it's not a centipede, so that's not as likely. I had heard an unexplained sound a few minutes before spotting it, and that sound may have been the millipede dropping into the sink from the ceiling or light fixture (this washroom is tucked under the front of the house, so such a creature could have crawled in at just below ground level and found itself at the top of the room). I decided that there isn't enough decaying plant material in the house for this friend to eat, so I took it outside. I declined to touch it because, even though my childhood-held myth that they sting is inaccurate, I didn't want to get any cyanide on my hands.
Copyright © 2001 Troy Bartlett
April 29, 2005
What If All Food Was Clear?
Clear scrambled eggs. Clear pork chops. Clear asparagus. What if every piece of food you ate tasted as you would expect, but was devoid of color? I mean no disrespect to those who cannot discern color (or, for that matter, cannot see, period), but for most people, the visual element of food is quite important.
Now, what about radio stations? Different subject? Yes. However, in the Chattanooga metro market, many of us listen to our own favorite style of commercials -- uh, I mean music -- but in an astonishing number of cases, that music is coming at us each via one provider: ClearChannel.
You love the 80's. You are like a friend of mine whose iPod and iBook are chock full of "rad" tunes from the decadent decade that arguably should have remained forgotten. Your favorite radio station is of course "The 80's Channel."
Or, you love your Country. I mean, there is nothing better to you than to hear Toby Keith or that "Redneck Woman." WUSY is where you get your Big and Rich fix.
Perhaps you have a taste for the harder stuff, and you jam to Rock105 every chance you get (especially during the segment with the best title I've ever encountered, "Tie One On Tuesday").
Or, maybe your paint-thinner-addled mind can't keep up with anything more modern than the mullet-shaking sounds of "classic rock," but local stalwart KZ-106 just doesn't play enough Marshall Tucker Band (I mean, come on, man, how could there be too much Marshall Tucker?), so you find Thunder 101.9 to be as comforting as a "kolbir" (translation: cold beer) and a joint after a hard day of roofing. Plus, they run NASCAR, every race. On the radio. You can't see the wrecks, but you can hear the screechin' tires.
Do you know that ALL of you are listening to the same broadcaster? And that you're sharing identical playlists with countless others in Tulsa, Fort Wayne, Greeneville, Scranton and Grand Island?
Do you know that radio used to be local? New Orleans had a sound, and Memphis, just upriver by boat, had a different sound. Further on up, there was St. Louis, and then Chicago. Detroit, New York City, Los Angeles. All different.
I'm not suggesting that radio's relative homogenization is out of sync with things in general; after all, the outlet has merely comformed to the product, and both are driven by the market (although there is the chicken/egg conundrum related to producers and consumers). I remember listening to my Dad talk about growing up in a different radio era, when one got excited at the onset of nighttime because one could tune in stations from afar (his favorite happened to be WSM out of Nashville). Now, if I were able to choose radio from a different point on the map, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.
Of course there are exceptions, and our own WUTC (88.1 FM) is a notable one. The internet in part replaces the erstwhile nocturnal superstation, since we have more options there than what our FM antennae will gather. And, it should be noted, the means by which we experience recorded music are changing at an ever-increasing pace. (Side note: I had my first experience trying to operate an iPod the other day. Someone handed it to me with it already playing; but when the song I needed to learn for a wedding was over, I had not the foggiest clue how to turn it off. These days I don't mind showing or even exaggerating my age. It's becoming its own badge of honor, just as my youth once was.)
All this is to simply remind the community that an ever-larger percentage of our entertainment intake is coming at us from a constantly consolidating set of sources. I'm sure most of us are fine with that, even when we know. I just don't have an accurate picture of how many actually realize it. We grew up with a Cold War (or post-Cold War) mindset that included abhorrence at the thought of state-run media with its handful of stations pumping out innocuous drivel, yet conglomerate-run media are dishing up "clear" "imitation gruel" (apologies to The Simpsons) for all of us, and we largely lap it up in earnest. Does anyone else see the irony in that?
Your Choices for Tennessee's Next Senator
Every Tennessee voter ought to be seriously considering what to do about the 2006 race to replace outgoing Senator Bill Frist. Every Tennessean who is eligible, but not registered to vote, ought to do something about that, NOW.
"Conservative" Republicans -- and I use that term specifically to describe the Religious Right adherents in the Tennessee blogosphere -- are largely lining up behind former Congressman Ed Bryant, who has run for the Senate before (he lost in the primary, to Lamar! Alexander). (I cast a long shadow of doubt on the veracity of these folks' self-description as "conservative.")
Van Hilleary, who lost the 2002 gubernatorial race and was also a member (albeit a puppy-like one) of Congress, has one avid supporter in the blog world and apparently his leftover name recognition helps him raise decent money and poll surprisingly well.
These are your two choices if you reside in the religious-conservative minority.
Let's go next to the other end of the spectrum: Tennessee's "progressive" voters. (In fairness, I put quotes around this descriptor as well, since at times the stated goals of so-called "progressives" really can be seen to impede certain types of progress.) You don't currently have many choices that fit your views. (No Green Party candidates have yet declared; I doubt Tom Burrell will run again.) If you're thinking, "well, I'll just vote with the Democrats, as usual," think again. Here's why:
Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.: Blue Dog, pro-Social Security privatization (before he was against it), hasn't yet declared his candidacy. Related to ethically-challenged State Senator John Ford and (some may say ethically-challenged) former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. Inherited current seat from the latter.
Congressman Lincoln Davis: he's another Blue Dog; he hasn't at all indicated his candidacy, but a draft attempt is on (one of the draft effort's bloggers signs on as "Dixiecrat" -- hmmm). See comments.
There is, therefore, one obvious choice for True Conservatives, Progressives, and Moderates alike. How could all three of these groups come together behind one candidate? It can only happen because that candidate is
former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker. Corker is a conservative. Yes, that's right, Corker is a conservative, in the right ways. Members of his campaign team have informed me of his views on the current (record!) federal deficit, and that, as our next Senator, he would do everything possible to curb federal spending and get the budget balanced. He left Chattanooga's government "in the black" and with a more favorable bond rating than when he took office. His administration oversaw a dramatic decrease in crime. Bob Corker is an entrepreneur, a no-nonsense capitalist, a man of faith, and a man devoted to his marriage and his family. If you're a conservative who values fiscal responsibility above the religious fanaticism currently posing as "conservatism," this is your candidate.
However, I feel that moderates and progressives ought as well to give Bob Corker a fair consideration. He was essential in founding Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise. He spearheaded traffic flow changes on what had essentially become blight-inducing commuter highways, and these changes in turn provided the catalyst for several run-down neighboorhoods to begin a rebirth amazingly quickly. His OutdoorChattanooga initiative emphasizes environmental stewardship and healthy living. Finally, just look at your other choices and be realistic!
We have a lot of time ahead of us before this campaign ends, and anything can happen; but for now, at least, this blog is endorsing the candidacy of Bob Corker for Senate in 2006. I am also encouraging all Tennesseans to take advantage of our open primaries and really make a difference in the GOP decision. It's important that we send a person to the U.S. Senate who can adequately represent all of us, and not just promote the radical agenda of a minority faction.
April 28, 2005
New Twist in Senate 06
I'll have to write a more detailed post on developments in this race later. I'm intrigued, though.
April 27, 2005
First, the bad news: those of you waiting for a Littlefield-Adams grudge match are going to have to find another hobby.
I've heard through the grapevine that Mayor Littlefield has named his campaign's (volunteer) media consultant to the top PR position in the City.
Writer David Magee opines about the silver lining inherent in losing a political race, and chides those who may be singing the Ann Coulter Blues.
The Hamilton County School Board unanimously outsourced all custodial/groundskeeping work to Southern Management. It is a local firm. If I read the article correctly, however, this means that hundreds of employees will likely join the tens of millions across the nation who are medically uninsured. Using my very simple style of mathematics, I conclude that equal salary + loss of health benefits = significant pay cut.
Here's part of the latest on TennCare.
That's some of the news in the civic streets today.
April 26, 2005
Whatever is the Dade County (GA) Sheriff's Department going to do with sixteen hundred pounds of cannabis herb?
How did they find it, if it was in a hidden compartment and the driver was allegedly only speeding? Why was a search initiated?
It's doubtful that this driver was speeding only on the short section of I-59 that is in Dade County. Why was he pulled over exactly right there?
Aw, relax, I'm only sparking up the conspiracy theory du jour.
April 25, 2005
Straight Talk from a Right Angle
No, Matthew, I don't believe that your honest concerns about our legislature's future will land you in a TNDP file. Well, they shouldn't.
I myself have often been torn when trying to develop a personal view on whether the General Assembly should be part-time or full-time and fully-staffed. Mr. White rightly points out the slippery slope of the latter, but also predicts dire circumstances if we leave it as the former and do not (cannot?) reduce the size and reach of the government it oversees. (I might think we're closer to that gloomy day than we even know.)
Let me put this twist on the question: which direction would allow the average citizen (like, say, me) to hold legislative office for two to four years? (I'm not saying I'm for mandated term limits, but I firmly believe office-seekers should self-limit and, really, be scared away from repeat performances because ideally it's a real sacrifice, a hard job, and not a cushy career. Plus, the fewer terms you serve, the more that opens the door for greater citizen involvement in self-governing.)
At any rate, it's an excellent post, and despite its author's trepidation at somehow sounding heretical to his deep Republican faith, it is a message that cannot be confined to a partisan dogma. Dare I call it a populist message? Take this quote, then read the whole thing, then decide for yourself.
[W]e citizens contribute to ethics problems even before a legislator is sworn in. We decry the money in politics. We take a breath and then talk about how a candidate isn't viable because he hasn't raised enough money. If a candidate is only worth our donation, time, energy and support if he has raised a sufficient sum of money, then are we not encouraging him to chase big donations from special interests?
No, that's not necessarily a (D)emocratic message, Matt, but it's certainly a (d)emocratic one. And there is no shame in that.
We Dream Big
Bill Hobbs: "If my dream for the Tennessee blogosphere [...] were realized, there would be a slew of Tennessee bloggers reporting and commentating on every single niche of state government, local government, and the news media. Every town - your town - would have a local blogger who intensively covers local government."
This is very similar to my own dream for the Tennessee blogosphere. This blog was created to be part of a decentralized network that doesn't exist (yet*). My general plan is to cover Chattanooga and Hamilton County first; Tennessee government second (but, in a pattern that I possibly incorrectly label "geographically concentric," the first tier of focus would be the local delegation (House districts 26-31 and Senate districts 10-11), followed by all others); then national government (in keeping with the pattern, primary focus goes to the TN congressional delegation, and judiciary and administrative matters that pertain to our region); and, finally, the rare post on international affairs.
Imagine if there were a Memphis blog, a Jackson blog, a Kingsport blog, a Lawrenceburg blog, a Bristol blog, heck, even a Gruetli-Laager blog, etc., all doing the same thing. Each city and town would enjoy full blog-style coverage of its local civic matters, and state coverage would thereby be complete via the aggregate.
The larger cities' civic blogs would likely need several authors each, given the sheer volume of material there is to cover, uncover, and slather with snark. They'd also need sponsorship, revenue, you know, the grease that makes the wheels turn. (Even though this is the Volunteer State, and I'm happy to have volunteered my effort thus far, in order to have the time that is needed to attend meetings, research stories, do interviews, and in general totally spank our local MSM outlets, the practical reality is that "alternative and renewable" sources of income would necessarily be sought.) Conversations have indeed begun on the subject of a bigger, faster, better civic blog for Chattanooga.
I appreciate your staying linked while the details are being determined.
(*One could effectively argue that some "nodes" exist in exemplary blogs like South Knox Bubba and NashvilleFiles. I don't want to sound like I'm not giving credit where it's due, but purely civic blogs like this one wants to be (and, sadly, isn't yet) are not known to exist anywhere in the state. I also realize that there's an inherent risk in publishing this post that someone will beat me (and Chattanooga) to the punch, as the saying goes, but the benefit to the citizens outweighs any pride in throwing the first one.)
UPDATE: it looks like Nashville suddenly has a blog with a paid blogger (HT: Blake | More here). Dang, the sucker-punch came before I published this, even. But that one belongs to corporate teevee news and is not specifically a civics blog, so I think we can duck it and hit back, hard. And I'm through with the violent metaphor.
April 23, 2005
Well, hello, Halliburton. G'day, mates in New South Wales. Middle Valley, you're most welcome too.
I don't know why site-meter stats are so fascinating to me. I think this near-obsession is related to my penchant for making up characters to go with each passing motorist's face as I drive around town. I don't really pursue long stories about each one, if for no other reason than there's another coming just behind, but I do sketches. Caricatures, maybe.
So, when I signed up for the free counter, I should have known that it wouldn't be long before I was imagining biographical vignettes for the faceless surfers who happened on the site because their chosen keywords made it appear among their Google results, or because they were reading the rare post that links back here, or because they were on a fellow Rocky Top Brigade blog. I couldn't care less about the numbers: I don't sell anything on this blog, I don't provide links for money, and I am well aware of the vastness that absorbs whatever voice I have as soon as I click on Publish (and that the relative extension of that echo would be negligible even if I was an "advanced species" according to a certain well-known "ecosystem" of blogs).
No, the real interest found in the web counter, for me, is in the Who and the Why, not the How Many. The site I use shows the flags of visitors' countries beside the records for those visits, and I'm always looking for something other than the ubiquitous Stars & Stripes in the list. Don't get me wrong; the primary purpose of this blog is to inform Chattanoogans and residents of Hamilton County of their civic world. (I also hope to become a major civics resource for all Tennesseans, but that will take time.) Therefore, I expect and am honored that the majority of my visitors are local. Still, seeing a hit from China or Iran, or, for a thrill, from the reeeeally scary enemy states (Canada and France), gets my curiosity going. Japan. Switzerland. And Uruguay! Here's a shout out to Uruguay!
ISP names are another good source of input to my imaginings. Someone at Halliburton was reading this year-old piece of fiction and must have clicked to here from the RTB roll that's on the sidebar. Why? The Daily Show appeared on the log, but I sort of cheated for that one. The State of Tennessee is a regular, and the State of Georgia is not far behind. There can't be too many users logged in to a host named mail.bobcorkerforsenate.com at this point, but someone there checks this site fairly often. If only more were descriptive in some way, instead of the mere "Comcast" and "BellSouth" and "AOL."
I'm humbled by all of the above, even if many visitors don't stay to read. The so-called Information Age is an amazing time to be alive. Just don't mind me sitting over here innocently ascribing characters, desires, shortcomings, favorite foods, melodies ('em fancy folks call 'em leitmotifs), and psychic awareness levels to the people on the other ends of the IP addresses.
April 22, 2005
Election Commission: Post 3
I'm not necessarily sharing an approach on the subject with County Commissioner William Cotton (District 4), but I too am wondering why the site for the new Election Commission offices needs to be in an industrial park.
It seems to me that land in Centre South should be used for attracting some of those high-tech manufacturing jobs we keep hoping for; hey, the Election Commission keeps firing people and running them off, so don't get your hopes up for a job with them. (Full disclosure: I wouldn't object to holding a position there in an IS capacity, as I've bitched and moaned for years about their website going down and then coming back online as a pitiful skeleton of its former self, so maybe I'm just scaring off competition.)
I'd bet that there would be an outcry if, say, one of the Courts was slated to move out of downtown and into a commercial or manufacturing zone, but Commissioner Cotton and I seem to be the only ones who care about the Election Commission doing just that. I feel that the local elections office should enjoy the same stature in the public mind as does a courthouse or municipal building.
I do recognize that the HCEC's current site is inadequate. The internal layout and the atrocious lack of parking certainly need to be remedied. I simply hope that the best choice is made regarding a new location, and that if the Amnicola site is a "done deal," then all possible effort is given to ensuring the office's accessibility and community prominence.
Wamp Turns Up Heat on Congress for Renewable Energy Provisions; Would Corker Do the Same as Senator?
U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (TN-3) sent a power surge toward his House colleagues yesterday when he berated them for a lack of tax incentives in the proposed Energy Policy Act (HR 6). He called attention to his substantial time spent as an appropriator, and to his co-chair position in the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency caucus, while indicating rather clearly that he is on the same page as the President (which implies that those responsible for the lack of alt-energy tax incentives are not).
It was a bold stance (and one well-timed for Earth Day, though I tend to agree with this guy that we shouldn't have to have a special day that makes us remember, duh, we need to take care of our home). Rep. Wamp should be thanked, by progressives and conservatives alike, for his efforts to move our nation in a direction that holds simultaneous benefits for the environment and for national security.
UPDATE: while Zach Wamp, a Republican, put his vote where his mouth is with regard to renewable energy, several Democrats in the Tennessee delegation were among the majority that approved the House version of this BigOil-endorsed energy bill. Reps. Davis, Ford, and Gordon, on whose side are you?
This vote also has import to the 2006 US Senate election: although it may be wishful thinking on my part, I'd like to believe that Bob Corker's record of promoting Outdoor Chattanooga and attracting alt-energy industry to the area is an indicator that he would support a more forward-thinking energy agenda in the Senate, while Harold Ford's House vote shows exactly what kind of Senator he would be.
April 21, 2005
Election (C)o(m)mission: Post 2
We live in an increasingly electronic and automated world. Office workers everywhere perform a majority of their tasks using computers. With that as the case, how are the five office employees of the Hamilton County Election Commission who have had their passwords revoked supposed to get any work done?
More importantly: who are the five, what records were destroyed, and why were they destroyed?
April 20, 2005
Our Elections Need Transparent Precision: Post 1
There's plenty to be said for neutrality, but it is at times accompanied by a too-distant view of the dynamics at work; and that's where I'm sitting. I look at the fact that two (one ex-) Election Commissioners -- one from each major political party -- are the known candidates, and I wonder if there is a third way. Especially since personal interaction weighed so heavily in the recent ouster(?) of Fran Dzik, I'd say the voters of Hamilton County need a clean start in that office, as in, one without a trace of personal (or organizational, for that matter, to me) loyalty or favoritism.
Commissioner Bart Quinn is possibly displaying beautiful, noble sober reason by requesting that an interview process be utilized, and that no decision is made until all candidates are appropriately evaluated. If he is simply doing this for a chance to go to bat for fellow Republican Luanne DeWitt, for only party-brand-name reasons, he dips a bit on the esteem-0-meter; yet the outcome of his hesitance remains potentially beneficial.
The public ought to be demanding that nothing but exquisite care is given to the execution of this choice. No one has asked me to, but [without explicit permission] I am making that demand on behalf of the public. Commissioners, you have the capacity and the power to ensure that the next administrator is well qualified and impartial; dignified yet humble; and unimpeachably, proactively accountable. Please do so.
April 19, 2005
Chattanooga Municipal Election 2005 ArchiveThe Chattanooga City candidates page has now been rebuilt, showing the new (and carryover) incumbents. Congrats to all the winners. "Read more" leads to the former page's content as it stood prior to the April 18 inauguration. (FYI: Many of the former page's hyperlinks are broken.)
indicates winner of March 1, 2005 municipal election
+++ indicates winner of April 12, 2005 runoff election
City CouncilClick on the District name to see if your precinct is included (map also shown).
- John Lively - Incumbent
- Linda Ward Bennett
- Sally Robinson - Incumbent
- Dan Page - Incumbent
- Jack Benson - Incumbent
- Robert Reid
- John P. Franklin, Jr. - Incumbent
- Cynthia Stanley Cash
- Johnny L. Smith
- John R. Taylor Sr. - Incumbent - not seeking re-election
- Charles "Pete" Drew
- Karen M. Lee
- Debra Matthews - Hamilton County School Board Member in April 12 runoff
- Jeff Peterson
- Manuel Rico in April 12 runoff
- Leamon Pierce - Incumbent
- Dennis Milton Clark II - Disqualified due to residency
- Yusuf A. Hakeem - Incumbent
- Delores Carter
- Eziekel Jones
- J. T. McDaniel
- Bob Corker - Incumbent - running for US Senate
- Angela Clark
- Ann Coulter - former Executive, RiverCity Company in April 12 runoff
- Karl Epperson
- Eddie Eubanks Jr. - ex-Marine, Deacon
- Robert "Buzzy" Hamilton
- Dan Johnson - CPA and CEO
- Ron Littlefield - District 6 Councilmember in April 12 runoff
- Thomas Smith II - District Manager, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Entourages and Fans in the Blogosphere
No, this is not a post about my entourage, nor is it about my fans. (You will get yours, just be patient. Joe-daddy loves ya.) This is about the growing number of blogs that publish exclusively, primarily, or at least heavily on the 2006 statewide elections in Tennessee. It's no surprise, but all of them blog from a Republican/conservative point of view. (I haven't located a "blogging for Kurita" site, anyway; but wait, she's pretty conservative on most things, too, so it wouldn't matter.) Here are the ones I know about, and if I know something about which candidate they're supporting, I'll say so (or I'll just guess):
BillHobbs.com (aka HobbsOnline): Bill Hobbs has been blogging since I was born. Yes, that's an exaggeration, but he has been at it a while. I gather that he leans toward Ed Bryant for Senate, and wishes Beth Harwell would drop out of the crowded Senate race and run against Phil Bredesen instead. Link is to his 2006 TN Senate Race category.
Blogging for Bryant: Multiple authors keep this blog updated very regularly, and its title makes its bias quite clear. Occasionally they feel the need to post on a random Democrat-bashing story, but mostly they stay true to their mission of spinning the 2006 Senate race in favor of former congressman Ed Bryant, but in doing so, they cover all of the candidates (negatively, of course) quite thoroughly.
Daly Thoughts: Gerry keeps up with a staggering number of races, but I linked to the Tennessee 2006 category. I haven't read this blog much, but it seems to contain a wealth of information. It might not be what you'd call objective, but I wouldn't classify it as "snarling," either.
John Norris Brown: Occasionally blogs on the 2006 elections, and recent criticism of Hilleary's dual role as Committeeman and candidate at least say that he's not in the Van camp. I'd guess he's supporting Bryant, too.
Simply : Adam Groves does a good job of covering East Tennessee politics. He was on a brief hiatus recently due to some apparent local (Knox) GOP infighting that led to a more serious set of investigations, but I'm glad he's back online. He claims that he's undecided in the Senate race, and is witholding an endorsement until much later, but I think I know differently. I'll keep quiet, though (for now).
South End Grounds: This odd fusion of baseball and politics is nonetheless a good read from time to time, and its author, Matthew White, is a Bryant supporter.
TeamGOP Blog: Just what it sounds like, the blog of the dyed-in-the-wool conservative group TeamGOP. Jeff Ward is a principal author. There were a couple of posts early on that almost sounded as if this group was behind Van Hilleary's Senate candidacy, but I probably misunderstood. I think they're also backing Bryant.
The View from Here: This is a new site, whose author takes her cue from early female rap artists: she struts and brags and feigns cold distance in an over-the-top attempt to prove that she can hang with the boys. I'm going to be patient with her, and assume that she'll "lean back" once the newness wears off. She is also unmistakably supporting Van Hilleary for Senate.
That should do for now. See, most of the above are backing Bryant for Senate. One is surely for Hilleary; but where are the Corker bloggers? Ford? Harwell? Kurita? If I left out anyone's blog, it wasn't on purpose. Feel free to drop me a comment listing your favorite 2006-elections blogger(s).
April 18, 2005
I'm not going to complain about the fact that the General Assembly is debating and acting on ethics legislation, for such is long overdue in our -- by national standards -- highly corrupt state legislature. It is merely comical that nothing happened for years, and now all of a sudden we have a veritable tournament of ethics-related bills. It is quite difficult for the average citizen to keep up with them all, and this post is just one of probably several that will appear here on the subject. Corrections are most welcome.
HB1086 (Kim McMillan, D-67, House Majority Leader) / SB1251 (Roy Herron, D-24)
- Requires disclosure of food, beverages & entertainment provided to legislators by lobbyists
Amendment HA0327 (Ulysses Jones, D-98):
- Requires registration by "volunteer" lobbyists with Registry of Election Finance
- Prohibits contingent commissions from being paid to lobbyists on successful passage or blockage of legislation
Status: approved(!) by State and Local Government Committee, sent to Calendar and Rules Committee
HB1133 (Frank Buck, D-40) / SB0535 (Diane Black, R-18)
- Requires that lobbyists disclose their employers and how much they get paid
- Requires disclosures from those doing business with government
- Requires disclosure of consulting fees received by state officials from those doing business with the government
Status: on the calendar (after many delays) for the Tuesday, 4/19 session of the House State Government subcommittee (it's a sub of the full State and Local Government Committee)
Oh, there are a lot more. I need to get this posted. A good link to start with is that for tomorrow's calendar of the House State Government subcommittee, which I received courtesy of Tennessee Tax Revolt. (Disclaimer: I do not endorse everything you'll find on their site, but they have been profoundly instrumental in moving along these ethics bills, particularly HB1133.)
I'll update this blog with more info as I am able.
Just remember, tomorrow is likely to be a crucial day in our state's legislative history. Pass along a "thumbs-up" to your representative and senator for the work done so far on HB1086, and urge them to appropriately consider the rest of the ethics-related concerns currently on the table as it comes before them in whatever capacity (committee or full-session vote).
April 17, 2005
Chattanooga Market Opened
Well, the warm weather drew quite a few people out to the First Tennessee Pavilion for the Chattanooga Market's opening day 2005. The kid rode around in a harness, courtesy of his Mom, and took in the sights (he loves to look at dogs, even more so than at other cute babies). We all enjoyed Jennifer Daniels. I don't much go for singing, unless a song just has to be sung. I'm usually listening to the instruments even then, but Jennifer Daniels' is one voice I can get along with quite well. (She and cohort Jeff Neal produce tasteful, engaging instrumental accompaniment, too.) The performance sounded great, and Ms. Daniels participated in a little bartering: she offered a CD for two tomato plants, and someone obliged. Hey, we can do commerce without the Federal Reserve Bank or the Department of the Treasury being involved..
If you have never been to the Chattanooga Market, you should put part of a Sunday afternoon to good use and head on over.
April 16, 2005
I walked into the back yard yesterday evening and stopped just short of bumping into a caterpillar that was hovering in mid-air at about chest level. It moved around a bit, and swayed, and then just floated. I rubbed my eyes and tried to remember if I had just been smoking a hookah before stepping out the door. Unfortunately(?), I had not. Neither had I consumed any kind of mushroom, little tab of "funny paper" or contents of a little bottle with the label "Drink Me" (though I did have one beer), and still the caterpillar defied gravity right there in full view.
I had seen evidence of things to come a few days before, alongside Battlefield Parkway between GA-193 and Ft. Oglethorpe. The sticky white webbing in the forks of tree limbs is a sure sign that caterpillars are/will be floating by in a location near you. Watch out.
Luckily for fruit- and shade-lovers everywhere, neither the Eastern Tent Caterpillar nor its cousin the Forest Tent Caterpillar does much damage to trees except in severe outbreaks or where the tree's health is already compromised. I'm not sure which type I saw. (I got the damage report from this website, but I have personally seen them do some major damage to ornamental peaches and other relatively fragile species.) Mostly, they're just a pain.
Also, you out there with small children, the bright colors and "fuzzies" are quite attractive to your young 'un, so if you see a bit of green goo oozing from the corner of your toddler's mouth, you may suspect he's found one and gobbled it up. Yech.
Oh, yeah, why was the caterpillar floating? Just like some baby spiders, it emits a practically invisible strand of silken webbing, and this long, thin, unseen parachute carries it about on the breeze.
April 15, 2005
Tax Day USA
Good people, make sure you file, if you have not already done so. I already did, and this return was the hardest ever, so far, to fill out. I won't complain about the automatic credit we get for producing the offspring, but I hate getting 1099 forms. The INT and DIV are not such a big deal (and, believe me, there's not enough on them to matter), but the MISC (non-employee compensation) is a pain. I have no business, therefore I have no business filling out Schedule C. Maybe I mined ore in a past life, but then I would have been a solitary, cave- or shack-dwelling prospector who would have fed IRS types to the coyotes under the desert moon. Oh, right, they didn't have the IRS back then.
I have friends and acquaintances from all points on the political dial, and taxes are a bane for all of them. Not even the most starry-eyed social-program-loving liberals enjoy paying taxes, and those on the other end of things get downright apoplectic at their very mention. Nah, it's not apoplexy: they revert to toddlerhood, and screech and stamp their feet about "MY money, MY money, MY money." I sometimes bring up FICA and SSI payroll deductions around them solely for my entertainment, and though I probably shouldn't laugh at their pathetic state, it is pure comedy to see grown men and women act this way.
Anyway, today might be an appropriate day to get serious and discuss taxes in the most reasonable ways possible. One of my freeper-ish friends consistently reminds me that, in his estimation, "the IRS spends $3 to make $1." (As is typical for this guy, I think he got that off someone's talk radio show.) I really don't know the actual inefficiency quotient, but I suspect that any of us would be disgusted by its truth. I don't like paying taxes, but I don't mind doing so -- until I start discovering the waste and misappropriation that occur after I've remitted my fair share.
We know that even if we stripped the cohesive function known as "government" down to the barest essentials that its operation would not be free of cost. Anarchy is the only free way, but it only exists in the vacuum of theory: if we humans tried it, mini-barons would spring up like toadstools and command other people around, and you'd have little governments, in effect. Then those little guys would start to form alliances, then knock each other off, and still others would do the whole coup thing, and so it goes. And each and every type of king or prime minister or whatever would demand a valuated show of fealty from his subjects.
The best thing to do, then, in a constitutional democratic republic, is to build and maintain grassroots energy that keeps our system of mutually-approved self-assessment simple, open, waste-free, and as small as possible while ensuring that it protects us in the right ways. Where it gets complicated is in the fact that we all have different opinions of what those "right ways" are. There are (at least) two very wrong ways to approach this inherent challenge:
1) Keep voting for politicians who flagrantly defy the principles of "simple, open, waste-free, and as small as possible while ensuring that it protects us in the right ways." Some would have you believe that Democrats are the only politicos who practice this violation, but I submit that we should examine the current GOP administration and its production of record deficits closely and decide whether or not they fit the description as well.
2) Use accumulated wealth to effectively buy politicians who will in turn create loopholes and such that essentially allow you to "take your toys and go home" and no longer play with the rest of us (typically this results in a disproportionate burden on the middle class, which in turn causes economic polarization).
I don't want Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon or GE ripping me off any more than I want a "Department of Oversight of the Departments of Regulatory Agencies" ripping me off any more than I want pork projects in another state because they have a more powerful Senator ripping me off. I want to know that when I honestly and humbly submit to giving up that portion of my, yes, hard-earned cash
-- a portion that grows progressively as my intake increases, for what should be obvious reasons
-- a portion that you won't find darkening the door of a "faith-based" alternative and being squandered by that den of thieves
-- a portion that actually represents a right, not merely a duty, when it comes from a citizen who is free to elect those who vote on its use --
that my resource is received and utilized with the same honesty and humility by those fellow citizens whose job it is to handle that.
If we can just do that, please, then taxes, which will never be pleasant, will at least be a bearable, understandable and sensible interaction.
April 14, 2005
Fran, Zach, Bob, Tom and Tyrone
I don't know about where you work, but where I work, it seems you have to be named Tom or Bob to get named to an executive position. I'm just a Joe. I won't claim "average Joe" or "Joe six-pack" but "cuppa joe" is fairly accurate, as I'm a coffee snob.
That's not what this post is about. I am behind in posting civic matters for the day.
I'm sure you've read about Fran Dzik's resignation as Administrator of the Hamilton County Election Commission, and that three other employees did not show up this morning. I really don't know if my beef with the EC is a beef with Fran Dzik; I just know that things really changed there after she replaced Carolyn Jackson (and some changes were good, but others BAD). Now we'll see if and how things change again. To the specific Democrats who essentially forced her out and probably made her go Republican: shame on you. Your pettiness will come back to haunt you when the votes for your benefactors disappear like so many ghosts at dawn. To the remainder of the staff there: urge your incoming administrator to get your web page up to speed.
Former Congressman and 2002 gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary asks of fellow GOPers, on his being both the National Committeeman and candidate in the primary for US Senate, oh yeah, well what are ya gonna do about it?
Call Zach Wamp at 756-2342 and respectfully request him to support the "Mollohan resolution" on ethics in the US House. Rep. Wamp has been on the upstanding side of House ethics before, and we need to let him know that DC pressures are nothing compared to heat from the folks at home.
Outgoing Chattanooga Mayor and US Senate candidate Bob Corker is e-mailing Tennesseans for their support. More on that later.
And finally, it's not just me.
April 13, 2005
On to 2006!
The 2005 Chattanooga election is over -- but don't despair.
The 2006 US Senate race is accelerating as if it had a NO2 tank, and the would-be Governors are lining up as well. The entire Tennessee House of Representatives will be up for grabs, and I hope to have at least some information on candidates for all 99 districts, and as well for the 9 US House seats and those State Senate seats that are up this time around.
But the real excitement, as we can see by yesterday's whopping 30% turnout, is in local elections, and next year just about all of Hamilton County's elected officials will face the voters. County Mayor, Commissioners, all the Clerks you'd ever want, Assessor, Register (no, not Dr. Jesse), School Board seats, Sheriff, and more. Think about it: the primary election for that slate of officials is barely over a year away.
2½ years ago, I thought I would be running for City Council in the just-completed 2005 municipal election. It even turned out to be an open seat (Ron Littlefield will be my Council representative for a few more days), but things do change. My focus and priorities have shifted, but my passion for all things civic has only increased. Enough about me. I want YOU to become more involved. "Involved" can mean many things, but the bottom-line implication here is informed, as I believe that awareness will lead to an increase in action. I would like to see a veritable buffet of candidates in the 2006 election cycle. Let no incumbent go unchallenged, even if we like him or her. Put Hamilton County, Tennessee on the political map as a place where voters have a plethora of choices: Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Independent, and others. Come up with a better platform and start your own party, even.
Finally, force the local dinosaur media to either increase the spread and depth of their citizens'-issues coverage or lose audiences. This blog, whether it stays as is or merges with another, cheerfully accepts the charge of overtaking the lead position in local-to-national civic/political coverage, and invites any and all legacy comers to a Zell-esque duel at the tip of Moccasin Bend at dawn. The future is littered with the carcasses of media anachronisms who deign to take this seriously.
I'll quit for now, because I need to save steam for all of the wheedling, coaxing, compelling, cajoling, groveling and coercing I'll be doing over the next 18 months.
April 12, 2005
Ron Littlefield, Manuel Rico Win Runoff
It comes as somewhat of a surprise to this blogger, who thought it would at least be closer, but with 91.89% of precincts reporting, Littlefield leads with 54.01%, or 14,713 votes, to Ann Coulter's 12,490 (45.85%). (36 people apparently couldn't take either one of them and wrote in other names.) (I'll update this post with the final numbers once they're official.)
It's a clear win, and I hope to be among the first to wish Mr. Littlefield -- and, more importantly, the City of Chattanooga -- a successful term. I supported and voted for his opponent, but I stated many times that "it's not like we'll have a bad person in office if Ron Littlefield wins." It's too bad that his campaign felt it had to go so negative, though.
The District 7 results are still coming in as I write this, but there are only three precincts left and it appears solid for St. Elmo businessman Manuel Rico, who has 56.14%, or 951 votes.
UPDATE (4/13): Debra Matthews pulled a little closer as the last precincts were counted. The site now shows that she had 860 votes, or 44.98%, to Rico's 1,045, or 54.65%.
I'll be updating the Chattanooga Candidates page to show only the newly-elected officials as soon as I can, and I'll archive the 2005 campaign details. Those elected this time around will of course be the incumbents listed along with rumored, confirmed and withdrawn candidates for the 2009 cycle (allowing for whatever shape this blog takes in the interim).
Many thanks to the Pulse Bloggers for live-blogging tonight's returns, and to the Hamilton County Election Commission for running a (mostly) smooth runoff election (they were missing a few sign-in pages over at our precinct).
One encouraging sight from today: one or the other campaign had set up a canvas shelter just outside the taboo perimeter from the Brainerd polling place, to protect volunteers from the elements. There were volunteers from both campaigns standing under the same tent, each holding his or her favorite's sign and waving to motorists. I am glad that we Chattanoogans have a "big enough tent" so that everyone could get along and keep this a civil event.
Matthews-Rico and Coulter-Littlefield Runoffs Today
Here are today's burning questions.
1. Have YOU voted (applies to eligible Chattanoogans only)? If not, you have from 8:00-8:00. Get to your precinct's polling location and VOTE.
2. Does Ann Coulter have the votes to win? (Refer to question #1.)
3. How much are we betting that, should Ron Littlefield manage to win this election, Dan Johnson will end up with a position in his government? Disclaimer: no illegal wagering is taking place. This is a rhetorical question.
4. Do you know that the Pulse Blog will be live-blogging tonight's election results and campaign events? Now that you know, won't you join me* in visiting the site starting at 8pm? I would love to report that not only did they outpace every other news organization in town and live-blog local elections, but that their hit count while doing so was trend-revealing as well. (*If I happen to make it to the Choo-Choo, I won't be at my computer. And if I have brass quintet practice at 8:00, I'll have to catch up to it a little later. But you'll read it, right?)
5. Won't you, like me, be relieved when this election is over?
April 11, 2005
Let's Just All Work for Jones Bros., Then
According to a Mason-Dixon poll, published today in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, the Number One Issue that keeps Chattanoogans agitated and interested is Quality Education | Transparent Government | Higher Voter Turnout | Safety and Environment Concerns Better Roads.
We're a pretty lousy lot of drivers, we can't afford the fuel, and we somehow want it quiet while we're eating our cake too, but we sure do want better roads and fewer problems with traffic. No wonder TDOT had an untouchable budget until the current administration changed that just a tad. No wonder the road construction lobby feels like it can manhandle legislators. It's all apparently supported by public opinion.
Yep, we need w i d e r roads for those Xtra-Super-Heavy-Duty-Off-Road F3500X2480s (er, shouldn't that be On-Road?). We need smoother roads for the Princess-on-the-Pea in her Lexus SUV. We need more lanes, so that the 100mph zig-zaggers can get ever closer to their apparent holy grail: perpendicularity to the traffic flow.
Nah, we can worry about jobs (and an educated workforce to fill them) later. Or, as the title of this post suggests, we can all get jobs moving orange barrels around and pouring concrete for the Jones Bros.
"Student Bill of Rights" is Misleading
Two Tennessee legislators -- Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-18) of Knoxville and Sen. Raymond Finney (R-8) of Maryville -- have introduced bills into the current session that purport to deliver "freedom of speech" to students in taxpayer-funded academic institutions. That sounds like a good idea, right? Here's an excerpt from Campfield's recent defense of his bill (um, I wonder who actually wrote it for him; have you scene his wrigting?):
Professors are in a position of power, and students possess none. All the academic bill of rights proposes to do is provide a grievance procedure to ensure that professors aren't abusing the power they possess.
I have two angles on this. One, students do indeed possess some power, and that is the power to take their business (tuition) elsewhere. Two, students (or their parents, scholarships, loans) actually pay to be subjected to the power wielded by professors. It's called learning. If they know everything already, why are they in school? If they just need to get the piece of paper, why don't they follow the path of -- oh, get this -- Stacey Campfield, who has, apparently, never been a student on a college campus (his degrees are from a "distance learning" house)? (HT: Fish)
I am not suggesting that their individual voices should be silenced, nor that their grades should be unfairly marked due to their stated political positions when those positions differ from the professor's. Such is indeed unethical. However, I haven't seen any real evidence to suggest that it happens that way often, if at all. (Note, I'm not ruling it out; there are mini-dictators no matter where one looks.) Every example I have been presented of a "liberal" professor giving poor grades to a student "because that student expressed conservative views," upon further investigation, turns out to be a case where the student simply cannot function well in the academic environment. (I have so far resisted the urge to vituperatively label them as "STUPID.")
Critics of the bill say there is already a procedure in place to deal with the violations of students' rights, and I have spoken with university administrators about this process. One high-level administrator at UT told me, "I hope your bill passes."
This dean said there is a procedure in place, but there is no power behind it. Tenure makes it nearly impossible to effectively deal with problems.
Read: "at this time, we cannot purge campuses of established liberals and thus make room for more religious conservatives on the faculty. We'd sure like to do something about that."
I have spoken with faculty at the UT system's local campus, who insist that there is healthy diversity among them, and that such legislation, if enacted, could actually be abused by students to attack professors of all political positions. (Does anyone know if the Echo has covered this story?)
Several state legislatures are considering essentially the same bill, and one has also been introduced in Congress (via Instapundit). I encourage you to read up on it and to form your own opinion, but my take is, and has been, that the term "academic freedom" is being deceptively used to promote a different agenda altogether. I do think that individual faculty members who may be treating certain students unfairly should be sanctioned; but this proposed legislation would set a dangerous precedent toward limiting true academic freedom.
New HCDP Officers
(Originally posted on 4/9)
Hamilton County Democrats agreed to agree today on the following new officers:
Stuart James, Chair
JoAnne Favors, Vice-chair
Alice O'Dea, Secretary
Debbie Colburn, Treasurer
Mr. James was a candidate for the TN House in 2000, and was defeated by Rep. Chris Clem of Lookout Mountain. He is a local attorney.
Ms. Favors was a County Commissioner (District 5), but won election to the TN House (District 29) after defeating incumbent Brenda Turner in the primary. She seems to be doing well as a freshman representative.
Mrs. O'Dea is a site builder for a local software development and graphic design firm. She was the only candidate who ran unopposed in today's election.
Bob Graham (not the ex-Senator from FL, I'm guessing)
Mr. James will take the party reins from Bob Davis (some of these people ought to pick different names, as the state GOP chair is also a Bob Davis).
UPDATE (4/11): these election results caused a few ripples in the Kosmos.
UPDATE 2: An inside look at the proceedings was posted today (found via the blog's addition to the Rocky Top Brigade). Funny stuff.
I wasn't blogging at the time, but the Hamilton County Republican Party chose its leadership earlier, and its chair is long-time District 26 representative Bobby Wood.
April 9, 2005
The Moderate Independent Speaks
I think one should be neither delighted nor saddened, and instead exercise diligent caution against engaging with emotional murkiness the ambitions of this group or any other. Clarity of thought is paramount. We should rise above the screeching and the fray, and work tirelessly to educate and to urge all citizens to regularly exercise their civic power. An educated, participatory populace that practices its democracy (rather than merely preaching it) will mitigate the energy put forth by the emotion-based factions, and moderation will prevail. The far religious Right has mobilized its followers well in the electoral arena; and there simply aren't enough smart people for the Left to do the same in the same way. (This is why theyve instead traditionally chosen to pander to the poor: to boost their numbers.)
Listen, Rightists: Your steeply truncated logic and shrill faux-nostalgia for a past that never existed will be your downfall. Recognize that you may ride one pendulum swing on the gust of your hubris, but the return trip through the arc will blow you away like so much chaff. Your religions very namesake, in fact, reviled hypocrites.
Listen, Lefties: Your deep-seated grudge that began with the realization that having brains does not automatically bequeath power to their owners will be your eternal obstacle. Recognize that the common person does not respond to condescension, and that power comes from collective, self-wrought enlightenment. Do not attempt to affect moderation by arbitrary means, as in a shift to the Center. You are playing into the hands of the Right when you do so.
I think that pretty well sums it up for now.
I have a couple of personal blogs on blogspot.com. They don't get updated very often, and they're not that important. However, when I do want to write a new post on one, it sure would be nice if I actually could. I cannot get the "new post" page to load at all. This happens a lot, or one loses a post, or a comment, or comments get double-posted. What is wrong with this picture? Blogger is owned by Google, and Google works great. Why can't Google fix Blogger? If you search on Google, you'll find web pages dating back years that all have the central theme "Blogger sucks." Wired News ran a story about it, too. Call me an "irate netizen."
If this keeps up, I'm going to have to post my un-civic, personal, random gibberish musings on here, and that won't be nice. I'm just that narcissistic, I guess. Witness this very post.
April 8, 2005
Click Here to Party All Weekend!
Short notice on most of these, but:
The Libertarian Party of Tennessee is holding its annual convention this weekend (4/8-4/10) in Murfreesboro. Rutherford, watch out, as I hear this can be a rowdy bunch.
The Hamilton County Democratic Party holds its reorganization session/"fight" tommorow (4/9) at the IBEW 175 Union Hall. More County Democratic reorganizing conventions are more or less concurrently happening all around the state.
The Green Party of Tennessee is a co-sponsor for this weekend's Gathering to Save Our Democracy - A National Conference, which will be held in Nashville (4/8-4/10). A featured speaker is 2004 presidential candidate (and really nice guy) David Cobb.
Coming up in a couple of months (6/4) is the Constitution Party of Tennessee's annual meeting.
I could not locate information for any upcoming events put on by the Southern Independence Party of Tennessee or by the Independent America First Party of Tennessee (and my link to the latter is broken).
If anyone has more info on imminent political events across the Volunteer State, please list them in the Comments section. If I have failed to mention an entire political party, I'd appreciate hearing about that, too.
Thanks to Comcast High-Speed Internet (high-speed, that is, when there's a connection at all), I was not able to upload any files last evening. I do have a rather cheezy idea of something "different" and "original" I could bring to the blog on Fridays, but it will have to wait. For now, I'm continuing to post about instruments I have and instruments I want. (Or is that need? Yes. Rationalization sequence complete. Need.)
I have: Yamaha FG-335. 6-string dreadnought acoustic. Late 1970s. Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard. This is a very basic, solid, mid-grade folk guitar that one can pick up used for around $200. Mine has immeasurable personal value because it was the first full-sized guitar I owned; my Dad got it for me when I was 12. Not to give away my age or anything, but I've therefore had the thing for nearly a quarter of a century -- and not to be overly sentimental, but Dad passed away almost exactly one year ago (this weekend) and that anniversary's weight is gravitating its way onto this post, I suppose due to some sort of release mechanism. By the way, here's how this keeps a "civic" tone: my Public Service Announcement on this subject is to insist that men and women get themselves "checked," regularly, in a preventative stance against that old Cancer. Anyhow, back to the instruments:
I "need": Michael Kelly "Dragonfly" Limited Edition 5-string fretless acoustic bass guitar. All maple (full body, not just top), laminated with gorgeous quilted maple. Fishman active electronics. Intricate abalone/mother-of-pearl inlay (dragonfly-vine shapes that incorporate very subtle position-marker dots) on unlined fretless fingerboard. I prefer the natural finish, but the full picture I found was in Amber finish. Natural (4-string) shown beside it.
April 7, 2005
From Hoppy's Hops to McMahan's Mug
In case you hadn't heard, The Stone Lion's fate is now sealed. If you have a chance, and are so inclined, visit this bastion of ale-swilling and eclectic-crowd-mingling before the last -- no, really -- last call.
Weve been given until the end of May, said Stone Lion owner Mark Hoppy Hopkins. We were hoping for a reprieve, but it looks like its not going to happen.
Attorney John McMahan, managing partner of the group that has bought the building, explained that he needed the space for parking.
My assumption is that since the building owners likely won't be seeing a whole lot of revenue from the Brock Bonding Company, "the Lion" must suffer by being "collateral damage," as it were.
Thursday Catch-All Post
Bits of civic news from around the region:
I'm glad to see that a couple of folks spoke out regarding Metro Nashville's planned use of police cameras in public spaces.
Even though I'm still glad to see that Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-18) is blogging, I'm not sure this post was a particularly smart move on his part. Your call.
The outlook gets more gloomy for embattled State Senator John Ford.
The Chattanooga TFP has a front-page look at how both Harwell and Kurita are allowed to raise money for their US Senate campaigns while representin' in the General Assembly, despite a TN law that forbids sitting legislators from raising campaign money. (I can't remember how to make links to individual TFP stories.) Its Metro section contains a decent wrap-up of last night's Mayoral Runoff debate.
Have you had your vehicle emissions-tested yet? I think I'm going this Saturday. My tags expire this month, and I wonder just how noxious my old car will turn out to be. Hey, at least I don't have a computer chip in it, as my one complaint against the procedures they're using is that those diagnostic devices can produce some off-base results.
Way over in Memphis, Jackson Baker reviews something that's new to me -- The Gridiron Show. Interesting. He goes on to cover a couple of West Tennessee congressmen's latest newsworthy (or, in Ford's case, not) items.
And finally, for now, if this isn't evidence of dogs being "man's best friend," I don't know what it will take to convince you people.
April 6, 2005
Time Running Out to Vote Early; and Why I Am Not Early-Voting
The Chattanooga Mayoral Election Runoff candidates -- Ann Coulter and Ron Littlefield -- have persistently implored us to vote early. If you are incapable of resisting their barrage, or if you're perhaps going to be unavailable on April 12 (and a fair argument begs whether any of us knows we won't), you are hereby reminded that tomorrow is the last day to do so.
I'm going to give myself another near-week to make up my mind. I have been unequivocal (or at least vocal) in my support for Ann Coulter, but the last couple of days have seen me starting to vacillate (again). Part of my pendulosity's energy came just minutes ago, when I read the excellent downtown story by Pulse writers Aaron Mesh and John Bailes. Another push that set me in motion was an earnest bit of politicking by someone who happens to be one of Littlefield's longtime friends, but Coulter's former colleague as well -- and he has worked in some capacity in local government for almost four decades. His is an opinion that naturally draws respect and should not be taken lightly. (For what it's worth, this person's endorsement of Littlefield is not a stance against Ann Coulter, but one against certain RiverCity and Chattanooga Land Company officials. This aspect seems to be prioritized high above his personal association with Littlefield, too.)
I still stand by two statements I have made: 1) Ann Coulter "brings more to the table" than just her RiverCity experience, and she has attracted diverse support even though it may well be true that she was initially approached by the "power brokers" to run. 2) Even though all evidence suggests that the "power brokers" are lining their pockets as they revitalize our downtown, it could be argued that without their input we'd still have a terrible eyesore for the heart of our great city.
Pulse editor Bill Colrus' re-endorsement of Coulter is another good column to ponder.
I just don't know at this point, though. One big factor, that I didn't mention to my neighbor because I didn't want to seem insulting to his friend, is that the Littlefield campaign's tactics have been, to me, deplorable. But I can imagine a Littlefield supporter telling me that when the stakes are this high, when the chance exists that we will perpetuate the developer-riding-roughshod phenomenon, all the dirty tricks are allowed in an "end justifying means" sort of way. I can see that side, to a point. And I can definitely chime in with the sentiment that would demand fairness and equality in all development projects and like matters, be they public, private, or public-private.
I'm going to keep mulling. Leave comments on this post as to why you feel one way or the other (or if you're wavering like me). Invite your friends to log on and do the same. I'd like to see if we can get a real, live, last-minute debate going here.
Most importantly, VOTE.
UPDATE: Tonight's debate on WTCI (Channel 45, or 12 on Comcast cable) may help.
April 5, 2005
Ethics Bills Being Tossed [by] Left and.. no, just Left
I called State Rep. Ulysses Jones' office this afternoon, and a very friendly person displayed a total lack of surprise that I was calling about HB 1133. That's a good thing. Rep. Jones chairs the subcommittee that was to have heard this bill this morning, and apparently quite a few people have been contacting the committee members about this important piece of legislation I keep harping on and on about.
The bad news: the person with whom I spoke said that there had been "an addendum" to the calendar that consisted of at least four more bills, and so HB 1133 did not come up today. It will have to wait, she said, for two weeks until the subcommittee meets in this format again (April 19 -- mark your calendar). I couldn't help but to ask myself, "Self, why didn't the four newcomer bills have to wait, since HB 1133 has been waiting for a really long time, and even got sent to the wrong subcommittee at first?" I am not sure how all of that shell-game-scheduling and calendar-cramming works, though, since I'm not a "first-class citizen" (i.e., lobbyist) and therefore I don't have the privilege of sitting right at the table and "helping."
One of the more interesting (to me) parts of this whole episode is that Democrats are the ones so adamantly opposing these disclosure (and other ethics) measures, and I thus find myself in lockstep with the GOP on this issue. (Being independent is beautiful that way. UPDATE: I feel the need to point out that ethics/"sunshine" should in no way be a partisan issue.) I can't figure out if the Dems are simply acting childish because some of State Senator John Ford's alleged behavior is the impetus for several of these bills, and he's "one of their own;" or if this many of them really can't stand the thought of the public (ahem, the voters who put them there) knowing how their General Assembly really operates. Furthermore, I'm completely galled by Sen. Joe Haynes' comment about lobbyists being the force that helps him represent his constituents better. Dude, they get paid contingent commissions when they successfully get bills passed -- bills that, by the way, don't come from your district, they come from the lobbyists' employers. Typing this makes me more incensed, especially since the bill that died today (Bryson's) would have marked the end of those contingent commission payments, as I understand it.
Again: make sure that by the time April 19 rolls around, the members of the State and Local Government Subcommittee have heard from you regarding HB 1133. See this post for their e-mail addresses, and the above-linked Tennessean article has phone numbers (as does the General Assembly's website).
Whew. I need a closing tag line, ΰ la SKB.
UPDATE 2: Read this, and when you're done wiping your eyes, join me in resolving to do whatever it takes to get us, if not there, at least somewhere close.
Candidate Pages Update
Check out the Governor and US Senate candidate pages for the latest lineup, with thanks to these guys and this guy for keeping me in the loop. (I really need to figure out getting a feed-reader going, instead of relying on manually visiting everyone's sites. I'll be in your debt if you've got tips for me regarding all this Atom, RSS, RSD, R2D2, what-have-you. I'm old and this stuff wasn't around when I was teaching myself HTML.)
Poland Set to Invade Italy
Fran Gets Curtis-y Call?
So, what did Fran Dzik, former Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair, do, exactly, to merit a standing ovation at the local GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday?
I suspect the first answer I'll get is that she reined in the budget at the Election Commission office. (I guess not having to pay anymore for someone to maintain a decent website could partially account for those savings, eh?) But what would interest me more is if someone were to elaborate on the vague verbiage that has already been thrown around regarding her "cleaning up" said office. Did we ever learn just why Rita and Rosetta were fired? (Well, Rita did have some explaining to do about her phone calls from Commissioner Cotton and data she allegedly shared with him, but why Rosetta Tipton?)
I'm finding an intriguing coincidence in the fact that the guest speaker on Friday was Senator Lindsey "We don't do Lincoln Day Dinners" Graham (R-SC), who may well have felt right at home here in Hamilton County.
Please Act Again on HB 1133
You are free to use any of the text below when contacting the House State Government Subcommittee.
Dear Honorable Representatives on the House Government Subcommittee,
A very important piece of legislation is coming back up before your committee this Tuesday, April 5, at 9:30 a.m. This bill is known as HB 1133, and it represents an extraordinary opportunity for quality reform. This bill, when enacted, will greatly improve the means by which Tennessee citizens -- your constituents and those of your fellow representatives -- will be able to determine the details of lobbyist spending at the Capitol. This, with the other important disclosure measures outlined in the bill, will constitute a much-needed upswing in citizen awareness.
The legislation has bi-partisan support in the General Assembly (it is sponsored by Democrat Frank Buck and Republican State Senator Diane Black) and in the general public. Tennesseans from the right, the center and the left are coming together to ask for the passage of this bill.
There is perhaps no better time than this to be aware of the needs of your voters. Please do the right thing and send HB 1133 on through the process so that it can be presented to the full House for a vote; and when doing so, please do whatever you can to convince your colleagues in the House and in the Senate that this is a vital reform measure that will not be overlooked when voters choose the next set of House and Senate members in 2006 and beyond.
Thank you for your kind consideration of this message.
E-mail addresses of the subcommittee members:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
UPDATE: Your message
Subject: [HB 1133]
was deleted without being read on 4/5/2005 10:21 AM. [EDT]
April 4, 2005
The Rockwell Files
UPDATE: forgot to credit PITW.
April 1, 2005
More 2006 Breaking News: Corker Website Launched
Like Van Hilleary's, it's only a "placeholder" site for now, and doesn't yet have a blog.
Governor Race Update
The second person to officially declare his candidacy to oppose Governor Phil Bredesen in 2006 (the first being 2002 candidate Carl Twofeathers Whitaker) is Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, according to this. (HT: Blogging for Bryant) More here.
The Civic Forum's TN Governor page has been duly updated.
UPDATE: This was a fun April Fools Day event, and was participated in by several bloggers independently. See comments, where Adam called it.