May 31, 2005
The boy's daycare provider has taken ill; that means I'm on Dad Duty for the next three afternoons. (And the answer to the question is, "no, I don't consider it 'babysitting' for a father to look after his child.")
Oh, hello, how was Memorial Day? I hope everyone got the decorating, etc., done in spite of the wet weather.
The computer is down in the basement, see (as per the "pajamas media" offline stylesheet), and the boy's sinuses are not a great match-up for the basement air, which we're working on, but -- oh, and hey, that's another category someday in the Civics basket: home improvements, permits, zoning, sewers, all the fun stuff. To get right down to it, I'm only able to blog when the boy is taking a nap, which he is.
I actually don't have a whole lot of civix nuze for you to peruse.
Spent the last 2/3 of the nap holding the boy. Will try this again later.
May 29, 2005
In Answer to the Grub Street Plumber: Whose Writing is This?
I was reading opinions posted on Chattanoogan.com, as I do, and I checked out J.C. Bowman's reply to Jeremy Goldsten's questions about balance in the "Tennessee Waltz" operation.
I've seen that name, J.C. Bowman, often in the Opinion section. I was struck by part of the message posted on 5/28/05 that read:
There is speculation, no facts simply guessing going on, that the FBI didn't set up this elaborate ruse to catch five current and former legislators taking a relatively small amount of money. There is more coming. As U.S. Attorney Jim Vines put it, "not today." He was asked if there would be any more arrests.
Many are convinced the only reason the arrests happened yesterday was because Chris Newton began to realize the game was up and withdrew HB37 from the House Wednesday afternoon.
I was struck by it because I had earlier read South End Grounds, a blog, and had come across a 5/27/05 post that went something like, in part:
The FBI didn't set up this elaborate ruse to catch five current and former legislators taking a relatively small amount of money. There is more coming. As U.S. Attorney Jim Vines put it, "not today." He was asked if there would be any more arrests.
Many are convinced the only reason the arrests happened yesterday was because Chris Newton began to realize the game was up and withdrew HB37 from the House Wednesday afternoon.
What does this mean? How much more of J.C. Bowman's opinion was authored by uncredited unknowns?
UPDATE 5/29/05 13:55: I found a strange parallel to this post after, as is the custom, sitting on it in draft mode (I sometimes call it "daft mode" since the occasional rant gets saved there but later deleted because it was written in an emotion-fueled setting). I wrote the above on Saturday night at about 8pm, but am only now going to publish. Grub Street's timestamp is 02:45 today, and I just saw it on Chattablogs.
So, do the two cases cited by these two blogs so close together indicate multiple instances of words being lifted or otherwise uncredited in publications?
Missing the Points
Oh, the hand-wringing, from the Governor on down, over the idea that we need "new" or "better" or "more effective" ethics laws so that we can prevent scandals like the "Tennessee Waltz" sting.
Make no mistake -- I am for improving our ethics laws. But as has been pointed out by several, the alleged activities undertaken by the "Waltzers" were sufficiently prohibited by law. Conspiracy, bribery, corruption -- these are not in some ethical grey area that needs codification.
Another point that is missed, by some, in its entirety is that there surely have been "bigger and badder" things going down than just the E-cycle contributions to HB37 and its Senate companion. Remember, the sting was set up because of "complaints" about corruption in the General Assembly. I like to hold out for the possibility of the unlikely, but there's a pretty slim chance that lawmakers only took money when it was offered to them by undercover agents. Rather, it seems that some of the accused were operating a fairly worn-in negotiation and delivery system. The dollar amounts in this sting are themselves telling: they're not even chicken feed. (I used to help raise chickens. My observations of them tell me that if one put out proper grain-based feed every day for a couple of weeks, then one day walked out with cat litter and scattered it or dumped it in a feeder, the chickens would begin gobbling up bits of cat litter, out of pure habit.)
Finally, perhaps the largest, most obvious, and most painful point that has been missed is the recurring one (every 2 or 4 years) that has been abjectly ignored by tens (if not hundreds) of voters: several of the people we have repeatedly re-elected to major office in state government are crooks and liars whose names are often printed alone on the ballots for their seats. I'm glad the 2005 session has ended. I don't think I could have stood by much longer while some of these (and yet-unknown others) continued to participate in making laws and passing budgets that affect me, and you, and all Tennesseans, while knowing that they are, at the very least, facing some intense criminal charges.
So, you're welcome, for getting your missing points filled in. Have a nice day.
May 28, 2005
Nightfall 5/27/05: Buckwheat Zydeco with Dr. Vibe
Click on Comments to read and to write your part of the weblog entry for this Nightfall performance.
UPDATE: Or go here to see some more.
Nightfall and Riverbend Blogging
Did anyone check out Buckwheat Zydeco last night? I'd like to set up a weekly open thread and let commenters quilt a review of each Nightfall performance this year. (I might get to attend some, in which case, if anyone ever sends me that PowerBook, I'll blog them live, and thus provide a backing (or is it ticking?) for the ensuing patchwork.)
Same concept goes for Riverbend, only that would of course be a daily post, and not as many people will have experienced the same performances. However, the result of that could spark an interesting exchange, too.
The fewer commenters there are, the more they're likely to sound like table-talk at a plumbers' convention, so if we do this, all six of my readers are hereby challenged to promote the idea to their spheres and encourage same from those contacts.
So, I'll try it. I've set up a new category for this series of posts and (hopefully) community reviews (rave and rant), and you'll see a post for each event appear as the season progresses.
Click "Read more.." for the Civic Forum's Riverbend XXV Recommendations.
Friday, June 10
9:15 - 10:30
Saturday, June 11
7:45 - 9:00
Sunday, June 12
Shani Hedden Group (blog coming soon!)
(includes Civic Forum blogger Joe Lance on guitars)
7:00 - 8:15
10:00 - 11:30
Monday, June 13
Wednesday, June 15
7:00 - 8:00
Lou Wamp and the Wizards of String
7:00 - 8:15
8:00 - 9:15
Friday, June 17
California Guitar Trio
6:30 - 7:45
9:30 - 10:45
10:00 - 11:30
Saturday, June 18
Goose Creek Symphony
6:15 - 7:30
7:45 - 9:00
[Don't stay for fireworks unless you want to sit in traffic for hours afterward.]
May 27, 2005
Just One Link
Matthew White's commentary on the "Tennessee Waltz" arrests is either a really great post, or it simply presents perspectives closely aligned with mine; either way, I like it.
2006 Is (Past) Time to Clean House (and Senate)
I know that you know that I know that I don't have anything meaningful to add to the news items regarding our state's rather dramatic (and I mean that in the "Tennessee Waltz" kind of way) events of 5/26.
I will say two things, though, because I can't just not.
One: I would support plea bargaining with these several scoundrels -- not too soft, but throw 'em a bone -- on the one condition that the people get any and all other names and knowledge of illegal activities of any other like perpetrators. It's sometimes better to catch more than it is to punish fewer harder.
Two: There should be a decided effort to quickly expose any sitting legislator who escapes punitive action in this or another "sting" but is known to operate outside of ethical boundaries. I recommend a grassroots initiative that uses a sort of "best practices" aggregate of the several ethics bills that were introduced this session (including those that did not get passed) to evaluate all General Assembly members who are incumbent in the 2006 elections. I would like to see this exposure take place well within time for quality opposition candidates to be fielded.
May 26, 2005
Chattabloggers on Talk102.3
Don't forget to tune in. 2:00-4:00. Wish I could be there.
Since I can't, here's my angle on the local blogging scene. (John, Bill, Josiah, Aaron: if you wish, you may read the following on the air.)
Weblogs provide a way of producing and consuming information that is personal, interactive, and "on your own time." A blog can be a powerful means to disseminate news and perspectives that are not adequately covered by traditional media sources; or it can be a place to type daily rants that attempt to prove "black helicopter" theories (or, for that matter, to disprove them). The blogger makes the call, and the reader decides to keep reading, or to never return. The feel is very "entrepreneurial" or "free-market" but also has the flavors of "community" and "town hall."
My blog, the Chattanooga-Hamilton Civic Forum (civicforum.chattablogs.com), was launched to provide a service that I feel is missing in the area, namely, a regularly updated source of candidate-related data, news, insight, and even gossip, for those eligible to vote; a secondary goal was simply to increase the local population's awareness of, and participation in, local and state government. As a matter of natural course, this blog has expanded to include more than those narrow topics (due in part to the vacuum that exists between the 2005 municipal elections and the 2006 cycle, and in part to the fact that I am not able to cover many interim civic-related events first-hand). I anticipate that as we draw closer to the 2006 elections, the content will veer sharply back toward local and state electoral matters; but again, being the blogger means that I make that decision (and thus I recognize the irony in having the word "Forum" in its title).
[end of statement]
I hope everyone who isn't completely distracted by the current legal drama at the State Legislature enjoys the Max Hackett show today (coming right up..).
May 25, 2005
If You Didn't Already Think Fran Dzik Had Gone Republican..
Say, that r'minds me: I read once that when Diebold (or maybe it was another firm, or a group of them) were asked about providing paper receipts for voters, they claimed that the technology just wasn't there to support that.
I would give them the benefit and say that that's fair, except there's one funny thing: when I go to my bank's ATM, my transactions are processed correctly and I get a neat little laser-printed receipt showing everything I did. The ATM's manufacturer? Diebold.
Maybe now we can ask Fran Dzik why we can't get electronic voting machines that print paper receipts. I'm thinking that all that's then needed on election days is sufficient supervision to ensure that the printers don't run out of paper. If something were to jam or lock up, there could be a back-up ballot system administered by the poll workers. So what's the problem?
Arts at Home in Chatt-town
Have you nothing to do this Saturday night? Well, get down to the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and experience something about our town that doesn't involve watching "Cops."
I'd say it's been a long time since any Chattanoogans watched a silent movie while live music was being improvised with the film. And, instead of some bar-piano or pump-organ raucously clawing at your sense of hearing, you get a triple-dose of raucous clawing, er, I mean, brilliant improvising, courtesy of local innovators/educators the Shaking Ray Levis (Dennis Palmer and Bob Stagner) with special guest Erik Hinds.
Oh, and did I mention that the film is directed by a local artist too? Telesthesia is by Jarrod Whaley. Saturday marks the premiere of this work, so be an earth-shatterer and show up.
I'm occasionally enthused by the CTC's presentation on the main stage of something that's not a tired old musical or farce. This is one of those times, I suspect. It's just a few bucks, and my money says would say, if I had any, that the experience will be well worth it.
May 24, 2005
Via Lynnette & Jim. I stumped it twice in a row, the first two rounds I played. As you can see from the sample, though, I don't think the computer shares my views on things. Perspective has a lot to do with knowledge..
You said it is classified as Mineral, I say Other.
Is it shiny? You said Partly, I say No.
Can you use it with your friends? You said Yes, I say No.
Does it roll? You said Sometimes, I say No.
Can it cheer you up? You said Probably, I say No.
Can you play games with it? You said Sometimes, I say No.
Can you use it to hit something? You said Yes, I say No.
Is it found on a desk? You said Maybe, I say No.
May 23, 2005
Channel 3 Blogs
When what to my wandering eye should appear,
But a Channel 3 Blog, and eight tiny news anchors (Disclaimer: only one anchor is technically tiny; and there might not be exactly eight)!
I have been wondering if they were about to launch into the blogosphere.
I've also been curious about the local daily paper's near-future intentions; and now I wonder about Channel 3's competition.
Should I just post my résumé here, or is there an e-mail address I can use?
A Matter of Pride
We wish that journalists would report accurately and post corrections to misstated facts promptly and visibly, but some corrections are arguably more important than others.
To wit, a Clarksville (er, Cumberland Furnace) man felt so strongly about his name being similar to one in a Leaf-Chronicle story that he had the paper publish a clarification on the following day that specifically named himself as NOT being the subject of the report.
I'm sure there are additional "David Sheltons" in the Montgomery County area (a quick White Pages search got me a few dozen in Tennessee, but I couldn't narrow to the Clarksville area), but only one of them was so haunted by the possibility of being mis-identified with this story that he took this step.
I wonder why the clarification didn't simply include the middle initial and residence of the correctly-identified Shelton and leave it at that. What positive impact is there from naming only one other "David Shelton" whom it was not?
TalkRadio102.3FM to Feature Blogging Segment
If you've access to an FM receiver this Thursday (5/26) from 2-4pm, be sure to tune in to "Maxland" (Max Hackett) on the frequency 102.3FM.
The topic will be Blogging, and the guests will be, you guessed it, local bloggers. From what I understand, the lineup will consist of John Bailes of the Daily Bailout, Bill Colrus of the Pulse Blog, and Josiah Q. Roe of Chattablogs.
Unfortunately I won't be able to listen or to call in, but I hope there will be a good dialogue and that listeners will be more informed about blogging and what it can do for the community.
Again, that's Thursday, 2pm - 4pm, 102.3FM. (Thanks to John Bailes for the info.)
Name Recognition in the Grand Divisions
Adam Groves has a take on Sunday's CTFP Bob Corker article (his links work better than mine, as I've yet to figure out how to get to the "epaper.ardemgaz.com/WebChannel/.." links, so visit his site to view the full article).
Where are the GOP Senate candidates most recognized? It goes without saying that Bob Corker is well-known in the Chattanooga area. However, given his former position in state government, he obviously has friends in Nashville; and a Memphis GOP activist who supports him is quoted in the article. The Mayor of Knoxville has endorsed him. I don't know where the Far East stands.
More importantly, Thomas Frist, Jr., brother of the Senator whose open seat is being sought, has contributed to the Corker for Senate campaign. Even though Senator Frist is wisely not weighing in on the primary, there are implications brought about by this familial connection that cannot be ignored, notwithstanding the fact that each individual should make his or her own decisions in terms of supporting candidates. Those who remember the 1994 GOP Senate primary (I don't, as I was on a brief sojourn to Maryland) could be shocked at the fact that any Frist is supporting Corker, so interpret as you wish.
Rural West Tennessee (in particular the 7th District, now represented by Marsha Blackburn) is Bryant territory; and there are scattered cultural-conservative faithful elsewhere (at least in the blogosphere, as many of the Bryant supporters here hail from Nashville or Knoxville).
Beth Harwell represents a district in Nashville, and is of course known in diehard GOP circles as the former state party chair. Her reach seems the most limited, in a geographic sense or in terms of saturation.
Van Hilleary once represented an area quite close to Chattanooga (District 4) where I'm sure Corker's influence and recognition have spread following his successes as Mayor. Hilleary has since relocated to Rutherford County. He therefore holds down part of the middle. However, I think he comes to the race with the highest advantage in name recognition, since he prevailed in the 2002 primary (unlike Bryant) and narrowly lost to Phil Bredesen.
So far, the polls (straw and otherwise) report data extracted from an extremely narrow sample. I think some people are counting too much on the notion that GOP primary voters are pretty much exactly the same people who attend Lincoln Day Dinners. I contend that unless something very strange happens on the Democratic side in either the Gubernatorial or the Senate race, Democratic voters will face a choice in August 2006: either sit out the primary or ask for the GOP ballot. I would never encourage anyone to sit out an election, so that leaves me with one recommendation for Democrats. Your nominees will be Phil Bredesen and Harold Ford, Jr. (sorry, Senator Kurita). You could have a lot higher impact as a primary voter by helping choose the GOP nominee.
Bob Corker is still proving to me, though fairly quietly at the moment, that he's the best choice for Tennessee's next US Senator. What's your candidate doing?
May 22, 2005
As promised, I am updating the blog with my impressions of last evening's neighborhood association "Covered-Dish Social."
I am happy to report a sense of relief.
No one was pushing for fascist aesthetics rules, and the level of organization seems to be moderately low, in that the Association has a meeting "whenever there is an issue" or we just want to get together to eat and/or socialize. (Yesterday's "issue" was that so many new people have moved into the neighborhood in the past several years that many do not know that there existed an association, so a couple of people volunteered to put together the "meet the association" meeting.)
The only other "neighborhood issue" that was discussed at all was the need for slowing down traffic on our little out-of-the-way streets. Speed humps have been installed on one street, but of course that has the effect of pushing traffic onto those streets without humps (including ours). I personally don't like the humps, because I don't speed through people's neighborhoods and don't feel I need them; but I do know that many others are much less cognizant of their surroundings while they chatter away on their mobile phones and race toward wherever it is they're going, and I have a child who will be a toddler in a shockingly short amount of time, and so the conclusion is "do whatever it takes" to calm traffic. (My "redneck past" might suggest simply having a few neighbors regularly sit on their front porches with beer and shotguns, and that, after a few rear windows had been shattered and a few undies had been soiled, the area would have a reputation appropriate to "calming" traffic. But violence begets violence, so I'll recommend against that methodology.)
Our City Council representative was invited, and she attended and spoke briefly. I also found out, by sitting next to him at one of the tables, that County Trustee Carl Levi is in the neighborhood. He seems like a great guy, and his position rather dictates that he'll be one of the more humble politicians in the area (he jokingly introduced himself as being the "most hated man in the County," at least when he sends out all those little property tax cards).
With all due respect to those neighbors who have lived here for decades and have contributed greatly to what the neighborhood is today, it was really good to see so much variety in the types of households represented there. Young singles, twenty- and thirtysomething parents with their aggregate throng of kids, gay couples, boomers, septigenarians, and everything in between were all there, and that caused me to infer that this is a healthy neighborhood that won't succumb to the stuffy rules that so many others enact. (It did seem that the ethnic diversity could be greater, given the demographics of the metro area overall, but that probably fluctuates along multiple axes, and is really out of anyone's direct control, so I'm not going to be anxious about it.)
Lastly, I did note that another guy named Joe has set up an online discussion board for the neighborhood. I think this is just a step toward having a micro-blogging situation, so you may see more on this subject in the future. Micro-blogs and neighborhood discussion boards seem a bit funny, because in "olden days" people used to simply talk face-to-face at the post office, or general store, or church hall, or wherever. I think the internet actually provides an opportunity to get back some of that which has been lost, even though the convesrations take place somewhat differently.
Find out if your neighborhood has an Association, or an online presence, and get involved. Doing so is the surest way to avoid being dictated to by cadres of control freaks.
May 21, 2005
Tonight could be interesting. We have received an invitation to a covered-dish event at a local church, and the topic of the event includes the words Neighborhood Association.
In accordance with my political bi-polarity, I have recently written in comments on someone's blog (it was either Bill Hobbs' or Blake Wylie's, but long enough ago I don't feel like searching through archives) something to the effect that "in our country, government isn't some external entity to the people, it IS the people, rather like a bigger version of a neighborhood association" and yet -- oddly and/or predictably enough -- my hackles rose immediately upon learning that someone could be scheming to force their little vision of our 'hood onto me and my house.
I am going to concentrate on the fortunate aspect of this development, namely, that I am experiencing, and later today will experience more, the dichotomies of government and freedom, community and individuality, etc., on a "micro" and personal level. I anticipate that it will be a learning experience for me, and hopefully I can extrapolate any enlightenment I receive into visions for synthesizing these apparently competing forces on a larger scale.
Another piece of good news I just learned through the reliable neighborhood phone tree is that several other guys down the street from me were recently gathered on one front porch and were unabashedly pronouncing their vexation over the upcoming neighborhood association event and all its evil portent. Ahh. I have allies..
I specifically said "guys" above because here's another interesting fact: the wife, and another couple of wives on the block, are much less concerned that the outcome of this meeting will be rules about how often we all have to mow our lawns and what colors we can paint our houses; they feel that its purpose is probably to put some organization to things like a neighborhood watch and, perhaps, an annual social event. Would that I could be so innocent and optimistic.
Or can I be? Is it possible to actually meld the seemingly opposite notions of "democratic community self-determination" and "keep government of any type off my back, dammit!" by ensuring, as much as possible, that the participation is as complete as possible? If the votes are there, any clique-driven nonsense shouldn't make it through, and moderation should prevail. The task, then, is to avoid the temptation to sit it out, and in fact do the very opposite and try to get as many of one's neighbors there as possible.
The parallels to larger forms of government are obvious. Our Constitution -- as amended -- sets up a beautiful means of allowing majority rule while it successfully thwarts that majority's bent to tyranny. If tonight's NA meeting looks to that model in at least a general sense, I'll feel much more comfortable. Also, voter turnout is absolutely key in the accuracy of elections. Sure, there are the recording and counting parts -- another thing, honestly, to be mindful of even in as benign a poll as tonight's -- but I don't believe enough is done to increase the process input's volume.
What does it take to convince people that one must participate in a democratic republic in order to maintain its very definition?
May 18, 2005
Who Are the Real RINOs?
I have a friend in New England with whom I sometimes talk politics (I know, it's dangerous). She's a Republican, and says she always will be.
She has just one problem, though. She feels that some of the elected officials and other leaders who associate themselves with the Republican name are somehow not genuinely Republican. She says that they're taking the party (and the country, since they dominate two branches and have designs on the third) in the wrong direction. Many other of my Republican friends feel the same way.
Now, I know that you are familiar with the term "RINO" and know that it doesn't refer to large (well, as compared to me, but small if a Blue Whale is your reference) African (or Asian) mammals of the family Rhinocerotidae. And, since you're keen, you know that the term is typically leveled at members of the GOP who are seen by their detractors as "not being conservative enough" or "lacking traditional family values," whatever in the world those phrases mean.
Let's look, though, at this from another angle. Who has taken the name from whom? I doubt I can hold your interest long enough to veer through the entire history of the party, and the pendulum swings it has surely endured; but let's keep it to the "modern" post-WWII era (yeah, we had to come up with a descriptor that sufficiently delineated ourselves from previous times; after all, we must be "modern" if we can murder each other by the gajillions with holocausts and nuclear weapons; but, as the saying goes, I digress). (Oh, and I know that the term "modern" was used well before WWII. I was seizing an opportunity for wanton sarcasm.)
To my arguably under-informed mind, a straighter line could be drawn from Dwight D. Eisenhower to John McCain or to Colin Powell than from DDE to Pat Robertson (White RINO) or to Alan Keyes (Black RINO).
The Republicans who were around in my parents' generation were known for affluence (which arose, some say, from Hard Work), fiscal prudence, Big Ideas, Opportunity, philanthropy (surely beget of aforementioned affluence), moderation, Civil Rights, and so forth. There are still some of these types of people around today, so wouldn't it seem that if they use, and run for office with, the name "Republican," that the name fits? And that they are not some breed of impostors? The principle of continuity would suggest so.
Through the 1950s, Democrats reigned hegemoniously over the "Solid South" and were known for their unfettered racism. Today, many of those "Solid South" Democrats (or their descendants) call themselves Republicans. Come again? Let's talk about the "in name only" part. One could argue that since hordes of uneducated, bigoted, poor, white Southerners/Heartlanders crashed the country club, and fastened themselves upon the Grand Old designation, they are the "in name only" set. I'm not deciding that for the reader, I'm merely pointing out the existing space for discussion of the matter.
If you hear, then, someone's admonishment to "just say no to RINOs," ask yourself which faction really owns the name, and the answer to that may guide you to decide who's "in name only." As mesh points out, the constant crusade for partisan "purity" is not likely to win the kind of lasting support that a moderate with, yes, I'll say it, "broad-based appeal" is likely to garner. Neither will a "purer" (again, by whose dogma?) partisan be more representative of his or her state in an office like United States Senator.
May 17, 2005
Get Yer Protest On (or Counter As You See Fit)
Some folks are speaking out at lunchtime today, holding signs and reading through a megaphone, to protest efforts, led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to change Senate rules. They are on the corner of MLK Blvd and Georgia Ave, just across Georgia from the Solomon Federal building.
I saw Stuart James there, though I couldn't tell if he was joining the protest or was just stopping by. A reporter from the Times Free Press was also lurking about (sorry, I don't know your name, and didn't get close enough to read your PRESS pass -- say, that r'minds me: should we make Blogger lanyards placards to wear around our necks (by way of lanyards) in order to access certain events?).
It seemed like a small crowd, so I decided to post this quickly in case someone wants to join them -- and, in fairness, to let those who agree with the proposed rule change know about it as well, so that you can go honk or whatever (but will someone tell Bobby Wood that Trent Lott started using the phrase "nuclear option" to describe this?).
Civil action either way is so much more desirable than is apathy.
"Rich People are Boring, but Poor People are Interesting."
-- David Brooks
I keep saying that one or both of the major polical parties is likely to disintegrate within the next two election cycles (2006 and 2008, for the civics-impaired). Since my prediction's precision is just about exactly that of a coin toss ("one or both," "likely"), people really haven't been listening.
For me, it raised additional questions: 1) Why have the Democrats lost so many of the working poor, when the latter are nominally championed by the Party on the Left? Aren't they? Several of the 2004 presidential candidates seemed to say so (including the VP pick, but the Presidential nominee was less convincingly interested).
[I deleted question 2.]
3) If the Republicans somehow fail to retain the oh-so-politely-termed "lower middle class" effectively, where will the working poor go? Running back to the Democratic Party, where they sense (rightly or wrongly) that the leadership cares more about lofty ideals (and let's not forget those campaign-cash-cow-corporations) than about real bread issues? I credit most with more acuity than that.
It could be time for minor political parties, aka "third parties," to take major action toward claiming those the Pew research once called "Populist Republicans" as well as those referred to as "Disaffecteds." Then again, the coin could land on its flip side, and we could be left with years more of the same old thing, and even lower participation.
May 16, 2005
Kuwaiti Women Will Vote
I understand that theirs has been a long (in modern terms) struggle.
It was not that long ago that American women got American men to recognize their right to vote.
May 15, 2005
Sick Child = Busy, Sleepy BlogDad
I am getting hooked on feeds, and peeved with blogs that don't update, so feel compelled to post a mostly meaningless entry just to maintain some semblance of activity -- even though Baby Master Trey (that's his rap name, for those who don't know) kept us blazing wild on a Saturday night until four in the morning.
I did hear the fireworks that accompanied the 21st-Century Waterfront celebrations last night. They seemed to go on much longer than Lucy (the dog) would have liked, as she couldn't tell they weren't thunder and were instead the by-product of a joyous municipality's festivities. I hope you all had fun down there.
Now what? I mean, for the City. Will Mayor Littlefield make good on his campaign promises for the districts? Will the non-downtown areas begin to feel a sense of resurgence, too? Who knows?
Then there's the County. I'm too tired to get a good rant started, but stay tuned. This never-ending School Board (- Thurman) v. Commission (+ Thurman) drama is probably where I'll start.
Okay, back to your lazy, fun-filled weekend, while I return to, well, whatever's next on the must-do list.
1) Buy case of Red Bull (tm)..
May 13, 2005
Friday Bird Blogging, Lo-Tech Style
These days, when I take the dog out in the morning, it is just getting light enough to see some amazing fowl activity in the wooded strip just behind the house.
Unfortunately, it is not quite light enough for me to make out the shadowy winged creatures -- I'm talking big ones -- enough to always accurately identify to which species they belong and what they are doing.
Also unfortunately, I do not own a super-magna zoom-happy digital camera, so I can't cheat on my natural (er, bespectacled) eyesight and pull the images closer or capture them to show here. You'll just have to take my word for it, for now.
One large bird that I've heard and seen recently is a Great Horned Owl. Its deep, throaty, "woofy" call is unmistakable, and yesterday I caught it flying up to a limb, where it sat in full view (but was only a silhouette due to the pre-sunrise backlighting) while I just stood there and stared at it. There's nothing quite like seeing just the black outline of a Great Horned and not knowing whether its huge eyes are trained on you or not.
Another treasure is a Red-Tailed Hawk, which is one of the largest I've seen. (I'm assuming that for both of these there is a mate somewhere.)
Yesterday, I could have sworn that I saw the hawk chasing the owl. I had heard the owl's call, and shortly afterward I saw two large birds, one close behind the other. They were obscured by dawn's early light and tree limbs, and during their brief pass I heard a repeated sharp scolding that was unfamiliar to me, but I guessed it came from the hawk. It was a pretty exciting moment, though, whatever was happening.
This morning I saw two different darkened shapes silently winging through the trees, but I could not tell which each might be. I wish I had all day to sit and watch (and some good binoculars).
The songbird neighborhood doesn't seem to care that much when just the owl is about; or maybe it's just by comparison, but they really set up an alarm whenever our old Red-Tail drops in. Lucy (the dog) is afraid to enter the woods when they really get going (which annoys me, because she needs to "do her thang" and I need to get on the road). I can't tell if she, too, knows that the hawk is around, or if she's just scared by all the hyper chirping (she's scared of practically everything else that moves, makes noise, you name it).
The point here is not that there are large fowl in the woods. It's that we live in the City, just up the hill from a major thoroughfare and sandwiched between that road and the Interstate, and these feathered friends are around anyway.
If I get clearer views of the hawk, the owl, or if that young Golden Eagle ever comes back (now THAT was a BIG bird), I'll let you know what up. If you've read this far, you have figured that there are no actual bird photos in this post; so by way of apology, I'll link to this one.
UPDATE: This one, too.
Happy Friday the 13th!
May 12, 2005
New 2006 Candidate Website
UPDATE: There must have been some kind of glitch, as now I can get to all sections of Kurita's site.
Let's Clear Up These 2006 Rumors
Whether or not some Ed Bryant supporters think it would be smart for Bob Corker to switch to the governor's race -- and one can certainly see why they'd assess it so, since it would clear the best-supported candidate from their competition -- I stand by what I said yesterday: I am certain that there are no plans to do so.
A couple more clarifications are in order. In the comments to yesterday's post, JB said that he seriously doubts Bryant could have read Jackson Baker's column of 5/11 before going on the Roundtable on 5/10. I completely agree; that would have been quite a feat. I should have listed the dates of the Memphis Flyer columns I referenced in the post (even though they are clearly shown on the linked articles). The column that mentioned four potential candidates for State House District 87 was published on 5/11/2005. The one that reported Joe Ford's and Ron Redwing's expressed interests in Harold Ford's seat was published on 3/3/2005. Jay is correct, to my knowledge, in that there have been no public announcements of candidacy for the 9th Congressional district; but it seemed to me that the Roundtable guests were trying to make a point about the lack of expressed interest meaning that Ford had not "blessed" a successor, and I inferred that Bryant's wishful thought is that Ford won't run. (But, hey, it's the first time I've been called Machiavellian. I started a tally.) I also acknowledge that in early March, a couple of people could have "expressed interest" and Jackson Baker wrote it down, and that by the time Ford announces for Senate, they will be nowhere to be seen. Point taken, but in other cases Baker's "gossip" on such matters has turned out to be 100% factual.
I look forward to Blogging for Bryant's upcoming post about why they think Bob Corker should run for Governor, since it will likely be a thoughtful and heartfelt exposition -- but if or when you read it, bear in mind that it will be simply an earnest Bryant supporter's "letter to Santa," and in no way will be based on any fact vis-à-vis Corker's intentions.
May 11, 2005
More "Musical Chairs" in 2006 Statewide Races?
I'm checking with a reliable source on the validity of this story, and will post an update here as soon as I have one.
UPDATE: I listened to the relevant part of the audio linked on B4B, and I am certain that the Bryant bloggers are making it up. Ed does hint at some "surprises," but absolutely no mention of Corker is made in that context. (If anything, he seems to be encouraging Beth Harwell to run for Governor instead of Senator, as he cites polls that show her taking votes from him if she stays in the Senate primary.)
So, Jay's speculation appears to be some kind of ploy to bait the Corker campaign. If he's smart, Corker will leave the bait dangling and thus reveal Bryant's camp as being merely hysterical.
Incidentally, Ed Bryant claims on the show that no one has expressed interest in running for the seat that we're all assuming will be vacated by Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. -- but Jackson Baker, ever the source for Memphis political dish (after all, his column provided me with 4 potentials for District 87 the day after Kathryn Bowers won her State Senate bid), has indicated otherwise.
Two potential candidates have recently expressed interest: Shelby County commissioner Joe Ford, the incumbent congressman's uncle, and public relations man Ron Redwing, a former aide to Mayor Willie Herenton.
I'm assuming that Bryant's comment was a gambit aimed at furthering doubt as to whether Ford's actually stepping up to run. Does this indicate that Bryant is apprehensive of his chances against Ford in the general election?
It's hard to believe that there's this much going on this early in the race. Just wait until we get closer to November 2006.
May 10, 2005
State Senate Election Today in District 33
Almost forgot. Today those Memphians who live in District 33 will choose the "permanent" replacement for Roscoe Dixon, who resigned earlier this year. The way this works is that the county appoints an interim Senator until a special election is held. That interim appointee is Sidney Chism; that special election is today.
In case you've forgotten, the four candidates are:
Kathryn I. Bowers (D)
Mary Ann Chaney McNeil (R)
Ian L. Randolph (I)
Mary Taylor-Shelby (I)
Oh, and I do predict that Ms. Bowers will be the winner, and that's based solely on the primary results.
As always, the most important thing is to GET OUT THE VOTE.
Can I Get A Half-Scoop?
There were reasons for my doing so, but I omitted her name when I posted this same fact almost two weeks ago.
Congratulations, Michelle. I have confidence that you will help give our great city a deserving presence. Your efforts in the neighborhood are a telling precedent.
May 9, 2005
Where's Ron's Blog? and Bob's?
We need to get some local officials blogging. We'll have to be selective, though, else we'll end up with another Stacey Campfield. (I won't mention any names, but I will mention the 8th County Commission District.) (Oh, and I good-naturedly rib Rep. Campfield on his writing and education, but am still glad he's willing to blog.)
I'm also anxiously awaiting the arrival of a campaign blog for the Bob Corker for Senate effort. That will be a great thing.
School Board Member Credentials
It's a day very packed with non-blogging related program activities, so go enjoy the banter about "Rhonda Thurman, PHD" and check back later for real news.
May 8, 2005
Re-fueled and Ready to Raise the Bar
Highlights from BlogNashville:
A panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Sybril Bennett, on Blogging and Journalism: Panelists Mike Cutler, Liz Garrigan, Bill Hobbs, J. D. Lasica, Glenn Reynolds, and Linda Seebach. More here.
Meeting the people behind a few blogs: Mike Kelley (also of Drumblog), Bill Hobbs, J.D. Lasica, Lynnette and [???...memorylapse...cool guy...Tom???] Jim, Candace [thanks Mike], Les Jones, Adam Groves. I'm the type to observe from the corner of a room, not a glad-hander, so that's why you don't see any more of the hundreds of names there could have been here. Oh, I met Ben Cunningham, too. I should have taken the time to meet the legendary John Jay Hooker, whose antebellum pomposity makes Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) sound like a Seattle skate punk.
Session on Local Politics, led by Ed Cone: Despite the fact that a few kept wanting to talk about the Howard Dean presidential campaign, there was enough pertinent info to make this a valuable session for me, as this blog is largely about local politics. Greensboro may be a bit lucky because their dead-tree daily has blogging editors, and they have a couple of elected officials who also blog. I haven't discovered any bloggers at the Times Free Press, but that's okay: we Chattanoogans have the Pulse Blog. A few ears perked up around the room when I mentioned that the Pulse Blog had live-blogged our recent mayoral elections from each candidate's campaign headquarters. More later about this session, and the future of local civic blogging.
Building a Blogosphere: Hossein Derakhshan gave us a fascinating view inside the rise of the Iranian blogosphere, and a few tips garnered there will apply to amplifying our burgeoning 'Nooga 'sphere as well.
Finally: a "Respectful Disagreement" session led(?) by Dave Winer. It has been blogged here and here and here and here and likely all over. It was a hoot, or a waste of time. You pick. My two-word take on Dave Winer's disagreeableness: wantonly theatrical.
After the sessions, several of us went across the street to wind down and continue the informal chats that had sprung up between all of the official stuff.
I'm so glad I went. Attending this conference was like filling up the tank with high-octane fuel (racin' gas). There is so much to do, but it will get done, somehow.
May 6, 2005
Last Post 'til (after) Nashville
I really wanted to follow up on the Hamilton County budget sessions before heading out of town -- I even wanted to attend some -- but it was not to be. (I need to figure out a way to give my day job the pink slip and thus blog more earnestly and fruitfully on local and state public affairs.)
There are more shenanigans at the Election Commission. Stop and think for a minute about what the HCEC's mission is -- or should be. Then wonder, as I do, how all of that gets so buried by petty partisanship. It's disgusting.
I know, you can read the Chattanoogan yourself, so you don't need me to simply provide links to it. One of the things I'm hoping to come away with from BlogNashville is a fresh perspective on how to make this civics blog what it really needs to be, i.e., a true alternative to the established media (online and otherwise), one where civics are given the appropriate priority, albeit one with the inevitable personality infusion that weblogs are prone to having.
With that, I'm bound for the West End.
May 3, 2005
Local Tax Watch
The Chattanoogan reports that several Hamilton County-assisted agencies are requesting budget increases.
I am certainly realistic, and mindful of the fact that costs do go up, and so, when absolutely necessary, we citizens each chip in a bit more to keep things running; but I am asking for assistance in verifying the facts behind each increase request.
If anyone can provide additional information on these, please do so by using the Comments below.
I recognize that the elected persons on the County Commission are charged with making sure that the funding allocations are sensible and "fat-free" but it cannot hurt to have a little citizen awareness and discussion of the matters in addition to the Commissioners' efforts. After cursory overview, none of these requests seems overwhelming or shocking, but there's a tricky thing about the way small expenditures can add up, and diligence is the only avoidance of unnecessary spending.
Thanks in advance for helping me keep track.
May 2, 2005
Several factors are going to render this blog slightly less active in the coming week.
The wife and I are taking a few much-needed days off from the corporate day jobs, and our intent is to get as much done on the outside of our home as is possible. (Plus, Tuesday is our third wedding anniversary. In related news, I still don't know what to get for her.)
On Friday, as early in the morning as I can, I will be heading to Middle Tennessee for BlogNashville. I'm looking forward to this conference. Since, however, I haven't yet received that 15" PowerBook from anyone, I doubt I'll be able to blog until I return. And Sunday is, of course, Mother's Day -- the wife's first. (In related news, I still don't know what to get for her.)
There are a few things to mention quickly. First, visit BillHobbs.com and read all about House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh's recent actions over a bill he apparently didn't want to come up. Regardless of our individual opinions of proposed legislation (FYI, this bill would allow legally concealed firearms in establishments that serve alcohol), our expectation as citizens is that our representatives process legislation in accordance with established institutional rules; else they legally change the rules (and we voters have the final say in whether we like those changes at elections time). I haven't come to a personal conclusion regarding this story, but the (often partisan) accounts on many blogs do not paint a very pretty picture. Our citizen legislature needs to be purged of Democrats and Republicans who in any way abuse or disrespect the office to which they are elected.
In local matters, the Burn Ban is now in effect (through 30 September, in Hamilton County). The Tennessee Aquarium's new section and the new Pier at Ross's Landing opened this past weekend. I haven't even checked out the things that opened the previous weekend, let alone these. It has been a busy time, musically speaking. I'm not complaining, though. If I may indulge in a sentence of true internet diary-entry (one of the many uses of weblogs), I continue to employ "creative visioning" toward an eventual career that would consist of a combination of music-making and writing/blogging.
Well, the lawn tools beckon.. Happy reading -- even if it's elsewhere.
May 1, 2005
The Bus Must've Had Foot Warmers..
Without question, I'm relieved that there was no actual kidnapping, but I am also angry at one Jennifer Wilbanks, and I've never met her.
I'm angry at her, and I'm angry at whomever made the decision not to press charges. Last I checked, being a complete flake doesn't excuse one from responsibility for criminal behavior.
I'm also perturbed at the airport police officer who gave her a teddy bear. A teddy bear? Has no one noticed that this person is thirty-two? Granted, she acted like a child when she ran away from home instead of confronting her family and -- oh, perhaps -- her fiancé about her insecurity. Oh, yes, she was sobbing. Whoop-dee. I'd have said, "Lady, you'll have plenty more to cry about once you get the bill for all the taxpayer money you wasted, all the Amber Alert system resources you squandered, and all the court costs associated with your trial."
I can guarantee you that if I had over 100 police officers looking for me in a missing-persons situation, and I called 911 with a phony story about a kidnapping, they wouldn't be giving me a teddy bear.
I'm getting madder by the second, so I'd better post this and go pay bills or something. Hmpf.