November 29, 2005
Eric Watson (unofficial) GOP Nominee in 22
I was scouring what internet sites I thought might have results in today's special election primary, but the only one I found with any info was at first leading in the wrong direction.
Chattanoogan.com had had a headline up stating that Dan Howell had won the primary; but as is explained in the story that is posted now, Howell was the Bradley County winner -- and of course the 22nd House district includes only part of Bradley, and all of Meigs and Polk Counties.
So, it looks like Eric Watson will face Sally Love in the January 12 general election. The 12th seems like an odd date, to me. Doesn't the General Assembly officially begin just a couple of days before that? So Love will be an interim rep for two days of a session, then face an election? Maybe I'm confused. Please enlighten me.
House District 22 Election
To any readers in the Bradley, Meigs, and Polk County areas covered by House District 22:
Vote today, November 29, in the primary election for the seat given up by Chris Newton.
As I understand things, there is only one Democrat running, and she is the interim Representative, attorney Sally Love.
On the GOP side, there are a few candidates. You can see all known candidates for this race here (note that this site doesn't list political party, at least at this time).
As always, a linked name points to the candidate's campaign web page; and as always, corrections and comments are most welcome. My guess is that a couple of these have dropped out, because a news article I read over the weekend stated that there were five Republicans (and I have 7 candidates listed in addition to Ms. Love).
November 27, 2005
What We're "Teeing Up" Today
I think it's over now, but the corporate midshipmen were really into "teeing things up" for you for a while there. Never mind, I have seven minutes to blog, and here's what I'm picking out to share today:
A Bryant-Corker matchup for the GOP Senate nomination seems likely at this point - at least, surely, that's what you'll conclude when you read this account of Van Hilleary's latest campaign move. Some of the state's best conservative political blogs are quite critical of Hilleary, so don't take my word for it. Here's a not-so-conservative person's take as well. Look for Hilleary's campaign to fold and for him to throw support to Bryant (but will he catch all of it?). Also, he's not exhibiting traits I could associate with a Grand Old Party. Call his the Petty New Party.
November 25, 2005
Some Diversity of Thought - A Left-Brained Response to "Right Minded"
Nearly two weeks ago, Mark A. Rose took issue with the Tennessean's editors for their anti position on "Intelligent Design" as a component of science education. Rose took the opportunity to re-post his "five questions" and, as a bonus, added a sixth.
I've read through his five questions several times, and have so far resisted trying to answer them seriously, for mostly they make me chuckle and shake my head. I doubt that's the intended reaction, but I can't help it.
The first problem with his set of queries is the defensive, reactionary posture within which they are framed. In this most recent publication, he blusters, "Okay, so since evolution has all the answers, I'm going to re-post" them. Easy there, fella. No one has said that evolution has all the answers. Tug gently, get those shorts outta your crack, and let's work through these.
Question #1: The big-bang theory typically cited by Darwinists states that all matter in the universe once existed as a single super-sphere which at some point exploded, its fragments coalescing into the stars, planets, and other celestial objects we observe today. If this is true, which random process suspended the laws of conservation of energy and matter by creating that original super-sphere out of nothing?
I agree with the implied premise here, that the "origin of the origin" is one of the least codified tenets in all of science. And why wouldn't it be? There is but little evidence in any form, and no known way to test any theories. The universe is, and we can guess as to what it wasn't before it was, and we'll keep working on getting our guesses cleaner.
Question #2: How did the human race evolve from single-cell organisms, such as amoebae, and become randomly separated into two equally-populated genders which are mutually attracted to each other? Furthermore, how is it that only females are uniquely equipped to bear and nourish offspring?
Um, you skipped a whole lot there in between. Put simply, the female human is equipped to bear and nourish because she is a mammal. It seems that we warm-blooded vertebrate sorts have pretty much ended up this way as an entire group. Other species, though, are different. Fish and other aquatic animals can and do change gender. There are no male whiptail lizards, yet they reproduce (you go, girls). Plants are mostly hermaphroditic. Even among humans, it's tough to say that there are strictly two genders. Chromosomal studies have yielded specimens with XXX, XXY and XYY combinations. Read more in this article. (The most interesting point in the article is that scientists are challenging Darwin's somewhat limited views. See, this is how this works. Knowledge is not sacred. It is merely a collection of best evidence and practices, and future developments can and will render laughable what we "know" today.)
Question #3: Gravity is an invisible, non-magnetic attraction between two physical objects. It's what keeps the Earth in a nearly symmetrical orbit around the sun, and prevents us here on Earth from flying off into space. Please explain how gravity came into being without an intelligent designer.
I'm going to extend the benefit of doubt and not assume that the above was written from as terra-centric and pre-Copernican viewpoint as it seems to have been. Earth? What significance does this speck of dust have in the cosmos? Gravity is without a solid explanation, yes. Nothing proves this more than the fact that we haven't figured out a way to subvert it, so our pitiable launches into space are noisy and cumbersome. Gaps in our understanding are acceptable, though. Science doesn't need ID to come along and magically (so to speak) fill them. Here's one person's set of hypotheses.
Question #4: Which random processes produced the human brain? This complex organ is not only capable of the computer-like functions of logic, memory, and computation, but also such emotions as love, hate, joy, and fear, which artificial intelligence engineers have heretofore been unable to duplicate in laboratories.
What about the dolphin brain? The hummingbird? The honeybee? Careful, your anthro-ego is showing. Are you challenging AI engineers to invent emotion? They just might, you know. Me, I'd rather have my future robotic killers be heartless and calculating. No messy grudge matches and whatnot.
Question #5: If evolution is the fact-laden, open-and-shut, slam-dunk case Darwinists make it out to be, what's the harm in placing it side-by-side with intelligent design? If indeed Darwinism is above reproach, then the facts should easily tilt the scales in its favor.
Again, slow down, buddy. "Open-and-shut"? Try open. WAY open. Slam-dunk? No, we're dribbling down the court, passing back to the guard, exercising real teamwork in making our way to the goal. In fact, to continue the B-ball analogy, you could view it as multiple teams all vying for "scores" but the ultimate winner is the whole human race, due to its increasing expansion of knowledge. The "harm," if you will, in placing science side-by-side with mysticism, or with injecting mysticism into a fact-based discovery process, is that the science is simply ruined. That's not to say that mysticism is inherently ruinous, in and of itself. Not so. There is an historically vetted niche in our human experience for this divinity search. There is also a parallel quest for "facts, data, logic." Keeping them separate will keep each one alive and well. Mixing them will merely mangle both.
Question #6: According to the big-bang theory, our universe -- and therefore our own earth -- was begun in a state of chaos. But now, it is quite orderly. It is so orderly, in fact, that practically all physical processes can be approximated by mathematical equations, such as gravity, centripetal force, and geostrophic wind. But how does chaos give way to order in a natural state? And how did those physical laws get put in place? Were they there at the time of big-bang, or did they "evolove?"
Whew, you added a heavy one. I tend to view order and chaos as each giving way to the other, simultaneously, all the time, in unimaginably varied ways. I don't know the answer. I just don't want my kid's science teacher telling him "the answer is Intelligent Design." Such a response would be, as the Tennessean editorial pointed out, intellectually dishonest. And, I'll add, lazy.
November 24, 2005
Lance's List of Love - Things for which I am thankful
[Cross-posted from The Pulse]
Yes, you might think it odd that a column so usually devoted to griping about low voter turnout or lobbyist liaisons – not to mention the fact that it stands in for the departed but equally cantankerous “By the Way” – would pay homage to the hopelessly cheerful holiday recently described on one of my new favorite blogs as “Christmas’ bitch,” but we at the Civic Forum like to represent a wide variety of perspectives. It sort of comes with the multiple-personality disorder, rather like the toothbrush you’ll never use that’s ignominiously strapped to just the box of toothpaste that you want. So here is your plaque-fighting fluoridated extra-whitening breath-freshening gratitude list in a convenient bright blue gel:
I’m thankful for state and local elected officials. No, really, without them there would be so much less starting material. Special mention goes to our own contingent of the Tennessee Waltz team (wish them luck in Beijing 2008, for what it’s worth), the trio Cotton, Crutchfield and Love. They really raised the bar with the federal indictments. JoAnne Favors’ artful play of the race card gets her a thank-you card in return; and Curtis Adams’ solo exhibition of “the most energy one person can expend to remove a different person from office even when the first person no longer has the power to do so” was sheer mastery. The Chattanooga City Council receives a group mention for their efforts to regulate all the annoying little things in the world (most recently, dogs in parks). Oh, and we can’t forget to say a huge thank-you to Governor Phil Bredesen for making good on his TennCare promises. Whack the enrollees: now that’s just genius.
I’m thankful for a judicial system that provides for a jury of one’s peers. This one reaches back a few years for the actual experience, but for some reason it was on the mind. Judging by the dozen people with whom I proudly served my one-time jury duty, I can say that I hope I never get caught—I mean, I hope to stay on the good side of the law. Maybe this is the wisdom of it. A person who breaks the law deserves to be tried by such an assortment. What about the innocent, though? Or what about those for whom it would really be difficult to find more than one or two peers? I’m thinking of a certain Christian™ musician who stands accused of swindling donated funds for his own personal “ministry.” When one has a voice that sounds like Michael Bolton having Joe Cocker’s baby, and a trumpet tone which teams of Oak Ridge scientists dream of capturing for its use in a new weapons-related program activity, what chance is there of finding a qualified crew? If I were his attorney, I could prolong voir dire for æons.
I’m thankful for freedom of speech, and the inventors of the radio, for thus we have talk radio. I’m not here to promote Left nor Right, Limbaugh nor Franken; I’m here to express gratitude for the facts one can ascertain from any of it. Randi Rhodes informed me just last week that Delaware is part of Maryland. Join me in a slap to the forehead for not ever catching that geographic subtlety. Religious stations are of course no exception, either. I was scanning through the frequencies and landed for a few minutes on 88.9 (WMBW). I finally saw the light when I heard a preacher clarify that the serpent of Genesis was named Eve (i.e., they were one and the same); homosexuality is what brought down the Roman Empire (never mind how poorly that plays to Visigoths like myself); all feminism is both New Age and satanic, as all women should stay at home and subject themselves to their husbands; and, perhaps most importantly, the United States Government is working very hard to destroy human society.
This Thanksgiving, for just the few minutes it takes, forget the turkey and the dressing and the pumpkin pie. Forget the family and the football and the 5 a.m. Friday shopping. Be thankful. And brush your teeth.
November 23, 2005
1. There's a debate happening at Pith in the Wind on TennCare, healthcare costs, and so on. I sense that it's losing focus in terms of the editorial that started it. That's okay; this often happens in group discussions, even those that are facilitated. I'd like to see the focus come back, though, to what we citizens are able to do about the obvious problems. Check your cynicism at the door, take a deep drag of caffeine, nicotine, or whatever gets you thinking (oh, wait, this is supposed to be about health -- green tea?), and jump in either there or here.
2. Adam Groves outlines the impact state and local politics bloggers will have in the 2006 election season. As, I guess, one or both of the above, I hope I can meet the challenge.
November 21, 2005
More 2006 Candidate Updates
First, for my non-Hamilton County readers: this post is all about our county elections. As you were, then, but do come back.
It wouldn't be expedient to try and re-word the entire chattanoogan.com article here, so go read it and then visit the updated page. You'll see that quite a few incumbents have been moved into a "declared" status.
Now, local people, listen up. What I don't want to see happen in 2006 is a lot of ballot positions that are populated with only the incumbent's name and thus offering little other choice. If you have thought before about running for local office (or even if you haven't), and there is an unchallenged incumbent whose duties you are qualified to take on, offer yourself to your public. Serve the community and enrich your experience (um, I don't mean "enrich" in that way, but you should know that by now). Sometimes it's not enough to merely vote. Yes, do that; and bring your friends; but let's fill up those ballots with options from which to choose.
Take, for example, the County Clerk position. Now, don't get me wrong -- I like the job that Bill Knowles has been doing. He's also a friendly and approachable official, which is more than I can say for others. I will probably vote for him again. But what if there is someone out there who could bring even more -- again, nothing against Mr. Knowles, I just picked him at random -- more innovation, efficiency, leadership, and charisma (I don't so much care about that last one, but I know you people) and can convince me of that between now and May and/or August? I want to know about that person, and have the opportunity to make a choice: 1) No, Bill's doing a fine job, let's keep him; or 2) Let's try this new gal, as she promises to make Hamilton County better still through her superb clerk-a-riffic-ness.
Thanks in advance for your help with that; and as always, questions and additional information about these races are most welcome.
UPDATE: Per HamDems, added Billy Long to the Sheriff listing.
November 19, 2005
2006 Candidate Updates
Here are the latest changes to the Civic Forum candidate pages:
Hamilton County - Friday, November 18, was the first day for candidates in the 2006 elections to pick up qualifying papers. The Chattanooga Times Free Press alludes to Charlotte Mullis' surprise that fourteen petition forms were picked up yesterday. I am not disputing the claim that that's unusually high; I'm just thinking that it's still low, given my ideal of at least one challenger in every race. There are something like two dozen seats in the county up for grabs, not counting any judgeships. (There are a number on the bench, too.)
Tennessee State House - nothing added, but do remember that the primary for the special election to replace Chris Newton is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29). Do I have all of the District 22 primary candidates? Please follow the link, review, and let me know.
Tennessee Governor - via the HitMan, we learn that State Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey has taken himself out of the gubernatorial lineup. He's therefore in the Inactive section as of today. Even though Tennessee likes to re-elect its chief executives, Governor Phil may be relieved at this announcement. There's still no word from Beth Harwell. Will Carl Twofeathers Whitaker end up as the GOP nominee? Or, what about State Sen. Mark Norris ("Dark Horris," if you will)? On a different note, I have added a new section to this page, because it was the best place I could find for listing constitutional ballot measures (without creating another page to maintain). I have the full text of the "gay marriage ban" amendment, but since its inclusion on the 2006 ballot is still technically an issue for the courts, I have placed it in a "potential" status. Will we be voting on other ballot measures next year? I can't recall hearing of any. You will do your duty, yes, and correct me if I'm ignorant?
That's all for now. I'm going hunting for more info.
"For Sale" Sign on City Hall
[Cross-posted from The Pulse]
[Gratuitous intriguing back-story: In last week’s issue of The Pulse, the Backbeats section rang up Chattanooga City Council member Marti Rutherford’s desire to rid her “main drag” of payday loan companies. This week’s Civic Forum column was meanwhile being developed to opine about the very same thing. The November 9 issue went to print, I read Backbeats, and I went into scramble mode for a new column idea. The Pulse editor was cool, though. “Let’s go with it,” he said. 90 minutes later, e-mails began flying between us, as a new development in the story had us laughing and shaking our heads in disbelief, all at once. Read on.]
There are those who live paycheck-to-paycheck. There are others who wouldn’t really notice, in lifestyle terms, if a check or two failed to show up on time. (Or so the legend goes.) And then there are those who can’t (or won’t, in some cases) wait for payday to arrive before they require access to cash.
That last group is lucky if they live in Tennessee, as they have a smorgasbord or three of providers from which to choose. Cruise Brainerd Road or Rossville Boulevard and you’ll see what I mean. In fact, there are so many payday loan firms opening up shop in Chattanooga these days that the City Council is fingering its regulatory trigger. They are armed with some new statistics, thanks to the Regional Planning Agency, that seem to imply that property value growth in the vicinity of such establishments is stunted. I am suspicious of the findings. Even if they were 100 percent error-free, though, they speak to a different problem: people make false judgments when considering a real estate purchase. A cluster of title pawn stores occupying a particular stretch of thoroughfare does not denote that residents in the immediate radius comprise the customer base. An alternate interpretation is that there is high-traffic retail space available for fairly low rent, and enterprising loan companies utilize this combination. The property value story, therefore, begins well before the payday loan firms move in. Why is the commercial space already unoccupied? It seems that a symptom is being falsely accused of being a cause.
Councilperson Marti Rutherford has spoken out numerous times against the proliferation of paycheck lenders. She says that their proprietors are “not the best people in the world.” (She seems to always include tattoo/piercing businesses as well, as if these and the loan stores were somehow illegitimate siblings. I think of the check-cashing as offering a much more thorough skewering than the body piercing could ever deliver, but I digress.) She and the other council members want to do something, ostensibly as a result of pressure from neighborhood groups. But wait. News reports from the November 8 City Council meeting suggest that there is an entirely personal motive for this misguided effort. Ms. Rutherford is a Realtor. No, that’s not the news; we knew that. However, the mere idea that she might be using public policy to preserve price increases and thus boost her sales commissions took a back seat to the blatant ethical breach she committed at the meeting. According to reports, while a citizen petitioned the Council for a zoning change, Ms. Rutherford leaned out of her elected seat and handed the guy her business card, saying that she could provide a buyer for his property. Hello? Since when do members of the City Council conduct personal business during sessions? What if the person calls her, and takes her up on the offer? Does the fact that she apparently apologized make it okay if they transact business?
Last week’s Backbeats rather astutely characterized Rutherford’s motive for conducting tirades against the scourge of the year. (Remember when she made us think that cell phone towers were harbingers of the Apocalypse? I assume wireless devices are essential Realtor equipment, nowadays.) “Rutherford—who owns a home and, perhaps more importantly, works as a Realtor in the area—wants to prevent the spread of payday loan firms in order to preserve property values.” I’m not inclined to believe that she wants to restrict or outright prohibit these businesses from Brainerd Road because she cares about the well-being of her constituents.
Before the business card flap, the argument was rhetorical: is a municipal legislative body nothing more than a glorified neighborhood association? Is it the Planning Agency’s job to start discriminating among commercial outfits that seek to do business in the appropriate zone simply because they’re not aesthetically pleasing to some? I asked these questions of a good friend at lunch recently and described my desire to challenge the Council’s probable action. I received an unexpected but interesting response. He said that government officials could be effectively opposed only after they’ve gone too far, so if opposition is my aim, I should let them keep going. I said, “Something like 12 percent of eligible voters put these people into office. The voters are probably the same people who go to neighborhood association meetings and gripe about basketball goals in their neighbors’ yards. You know those miniature holiday village curios people buy and put on the mantel with their snowy little scenes? That’s what these people’s idea of urban planning looks like.” My friend just smiled and reiterated his observation that if the people are aggrieved enough, they will make their voices heard at the polls. “Their current complacency is just an indicator that they simply don’t consider things to be all that bad,” was his sage-like counsel.
So that’s exactly what I’m recommending. Just let this go. Continue to ignore any ethical breach, overbearing initiative or petty squabble in your local government until you’ve just out-and-out had it. This includes Sally Robinson’s free-speech zones, Jack Benson’s car wash paint color restrictions, and Manuel Rico’s ban on chickens. I’ll be enjoying the lack of lines at the voting precinct in the meantime, and I guess I’ll see you there when something really matters.
November 18, 2005
What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round?
[Post title requires apologies to The Seldom Scene]
I took the day off, so I should have planned to camp out at the Election Commission and get material for big, juicy stories on those picking up qualifying papers for the 2006 election season. Today is the first day one is eligible to do so.
Instead, I'm sitting here blogging, sans transportation, while the brake shop mechanics figure out just how they're going to take me. That's unfair, but I always get into a bad mood when there's car repair on the calendar.
Thanks to the Chattanoogan article, I have a few names to add to the Hamilton County page, even if I can't make it to the Commission office. I may try to call Ms. Mullis even though I'll bet she's busy today. Or, I'll just wait to see what Herman and Kathleen (I'm guessing) Ian Berry (thanks for the e-mail, Herman) writes in tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Humor for Yer Friday
Do you ever read ? If your response is "no, Joe, what is that?" then some immedial (immediate+remedial) action is necessitated. If your answer is "yew bet chore AYUSS!" then, well, you know what I'm talking about.
Subscribe to that blog and read it every time something new is posted. And then, just because you can, go back and read entries that have already had their way with you.
Recently Rex has been on monkey watch. This latest post, though; well, let me just say that you will spray your monitor with whatever's in your mouth when you get down to the inaugural "Blog of Doom Tasteless News Reenactment."
Don't miss the early-holiday entry, either. Two words: "assless Christmas."
I Hope He Keeps Blogging, Too
The "secret" is now out -- ascendant blogger and all-around likeable guy Bob Krumm is seriously considering a run for the State Senate in 2006.
It'd be a tough race, as there is a heavily entrenched conservative Democrat who would likely be his opponent. (It's worth noting, though, that there is a rumored primary challenger aiming for the Democratic nomination.)
Krumm is starting off on the right foot: he's soliciting input from his current "constituents" (i.e., his weblog readers) as to whether he should go ahead. On the other hand, he has demonstrated in just a few months of writing, that he will be the ultimate decision-maker. Bob makes sense pretty much all of the time. He's conservative with conviction, it appears, but very refreshingly lacking in partisanship. If there is any kind of conservative I would want representing me in government, it's this kind.
Drop by and let Bob know what you think. I, for one, am encouraging him to run. I have no real opposition to Doug Henry, but a couple of thoughts are a) Henry has represented the district for a VERY long time, and change is good; and 2) Henry has made some disappointingly naïve-sounding comments on the role that lobbyists currently play in state government.
If you still need just that one more reason to support a Krumm candidacy, check this out: he plants trees.
November 17, 2005
Yes! An Ethics Package! Now, What's In It?
I have great news for you, my fellow Tennesseans. Our legislature will soon pass an ethics law that will do nothing to improve ethics on Capitol Hill.
Thus ends a great post by Matthew White (guesting for Bill Hobbs) on the fact that a crippled, sabotaged, and otherwise useless excuse for reform was approved yesterday by the Legislature's joint ethics committee. My biggest disappointment is with the proposal for an ethics committee. It's falsely labeled "independent" but there is nothing independent about how its members would be selected. Take off your partisan cap for a moment and just think about it this way: two appointees are beholden to the Governor, two to the Lieutenant Governor, and two to the Speaker of the House. Yes, the four chosen by the speakers are picked from among six (three each) nominated by the caucuses; but aren't the Speakers fairly authoritative in their caucuses, even if they aren't their titular heads? It would surprise me greatly to see a commission selected in this fashion investigate or regulate government officials whom any of these three appointers favors -- and we won't even talk about whether they would take on the governor or speakers themselves.
Matthew sees through this folly in a nicely non-partisan way, even though he initially bemoans the fact that next year's committee would consist of four Democrats and two, uh, less flavorful Republicans: "It's every bit as problematic [if] Republicans run the place." Yep. This is so frustrating, because even though I want to tell them to just start over, that would mean that even more time and resources would be wasted.
There's more in that post, so read the whole thing; then there's plenty more elsewhere. I asked for it! Blake Wylie and Bob Krumm point out that the weak open meetings provision would expire at the end of the 2006 session. Folks, this is November 2005. Read both of those posts in their entireties. Had enough? Too bad. I give you Moore. [Note - I can't get that link to open. Nor Adam's.]
Something odd's going on here. All of these guys are [more or less] Republicans. Where are the Democratic voices? I'm Independent, but I am often described as "left-leaning" or "liberal" though I get strong sympathetic vibrations from libertarian tenets as well. I'm standing here shouting "Bulls--t!" right along with my conservative fellows; and I've been checking the blogs on the Left, but there is complete silence on this story. I've never been able to peg Michael Silence, who basically lists the same people I have here (plus one I've never read), but no matter. Where's Sharon Cobb or egalia or LeftWingCracker or HamDems -- or, for crying out loud, the former Bubba?!
Neither these bloggers nor their party's leaders are in touch with the people on this very important issue. It is definitely time for the General Assembly's membership to undergo a huge overhaul. I am not saying that the current Democrats necessarily need to be replaced with Republicans, but I am saying that they need to be replaced with somebody. In at least one case, I would gladly vote for a Republican newcomer, but I don't live in his area. More to come on that story.
After all of the big talk, the citizen advisory panel's task completion, the Operation Tennessee Waltz indictments (which, I know, I know, involved activities already outlawed, but still) and all of the excellent blogging and news reporting have taken place, this is what we get from the joint committee. I've been wrong before, but I felt a strong sense of sincerity from its co-chairman, Mike Williams of Maynardville, when he was a panelist before the governor's group at the latter's Chattanooga meeting. It's too bad that there aren't more like him, but we voters can and must do something about that next August and November.
November 16, 2005
Ethics Package Today?
I've been trying to keep up with headlines, though my access to some news outlets is very limited. Is the Legislative Ethics Study Committee (or whatever that joint committee is called) going to vote today on a list of ethics reforms?
I did read that Governor Bredesen has said his intervention might be necessary. I thought that the list of reforms documented by the citizen panel he created was a great start. Why can't the General Assembly recognize the obvious mandate therein, given the panel's makeup and method, and use that package as a template? It's not necessary for them to recreate the wheel.
November 14, 2005
Some Good Local Bloggers
I haven't been able to blog like crazy, due to sleep-deprived madness, or work-induced insanity.
There. That's three insensitive references to mental illness in one sentence. I really do have issues.
I wish people[...] would simply think of becoming voters first without worrying so much about which party they are going to join.[...] Most [parties] just get in the way of the voting...
"Bring back the Bull Moose Party," coaxes Colrus colleague Aaron Mesh. I don't think I can argue much with that idea.
November 13, 2005
New Senate Race Tracking Tool
I'll be linking to it from my candidate page sidebar.
November 12, 2005
It's the Most Burnderful Time of the Year
My neighbors -- whom I love, by the way -- are taking full advantage of the expired burn ban and are cremating piles of leaves.
There's nothing like acrid, eyes-swelling leaf smoke on a pleasant, clear Fall day.
It's in my house, even; and I was going to rake some of "my" leaves today (I compost some, and let the woods take care of the rest), but I daren't step outside for longer than it takes the dog to pee.
I'm trying to look on the bright side. I've always wondered what it would smell like to live in a barbecue.
Which Kind of Corruption Do You Prefer?
I'm all for an independent commission of some kind, whether it's named an "Ethics Commission" or a "Disclosure Commission" like Washington's. However, the internal debate in which I could use some outside counsel is whether this commission should be appointed -- and thus rife with favoritism and majority-party imbalance; or elected -- and thus turning its members into campaign-cash-hungry politicians.
November 11, 2005
US House Campaign Additions
Here we are, a few days inside the year mark until the 2006 midterm elections, and now we see the kind of activity for which I've been waiting.
Of course, I could just be behind, since the past couple of weeks have been rather crazily busy. Enough about me. Let's talk candidates in a couple of districts. I'll start out west:
District 9 - Despite all the rumors (too many links to choose from, but here's one) about Harold Ford, Jr. and the Senate race, let's not forget that he's giving up a Congressional seat in a Democrat-leaning district. John Farmer, a "former Democrat" who lost rather graciously to Terry Roland in their bid for the State Senate seat formerly occupied by Congressman Junior's uncle (John Ford) and now rather tenuously held by Junior's aunt (Ophelia Ford), has been on the radar for a while; and there was some weird DC buzz about a corporate attorney named Nikki Tinker, of whom nobody in Memphis' political circles seemed to have heard. Enter Lee Harris. According to his campaign website, he's an attorney (formerly at megafirm Baker Donelson, I found) and a professor at the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. More importantly, someone used the "Contact" link at the top of the US House candidates page and alerted me to his candidacy. Folks, this is a shining example of how this site is supposed to work. This is a day for celebration. Or, put another way, I can't possibly keep up with every news source and political whisper in the state. I need your help, and I tip my hat to the person who gave me this info. Moving eastward:
District 4 - Lincoln Davis seems fairly secure for a win, but that's not stopping the GOP from trying again to unseat him. Meet Alan Pedigo. Well, I tried looking for his campaign website, but it doesn't seem to be up. In the process, Google threw up a SouthTennBlog, which I had not previously seen. A post from August mentions Mr. Pedigo (along with a Bill Green for State House, and I'll have to investigate that as well). My blogfather has Pedigo listed on a recently updated Tennessee page (which is awesome, and was my inspiration: but I give you the General Assembly; and, for my homeboys and -girls, full Hamilton County and Chattanooga local election coverage too). (Page designs still under construction)
I'm thrilled that we're seeing some action. Much more will follow, to be sure.
Not A Spectator Event
(Cross-posted from The Pulse)
How simply can I put this? Government ethics reformers should not employ partisanship in crafting meaningful changes to Nashville’s “business as usual.” The disappointing experience, as consistently revealed in media reports, is that our elected lawmakers display far more loyalty to their party bosses than they do to us voters as they wrestle with the various reform proposals. (Side note: could that have anything to do with the fact that too many of us fail to vote?) Their misapplication of loyalty underscores the public’s perception of “back-scratching” and that, in turn, quells civic interest even more. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken by a combination of true reform and greater participation. In brief, the reform measures that are needed might take more than one legislative session – perhaps more than one election cycle – before they are complete. You, the voter, will play an integral part in that completion.
The 2006 legislative session will be over by the time we go to the polls to nominate our favorite party’s candidates (August) and decide the class of 2007 (November). There should be plenty of time between June and August to have a summer vacation and to examine your Representative’s and Senator’s individual records on whatever does (or doesn’t) happen with regard to ethics reform. You’ll also be wise to consider the party affiliation of those seeking office, since they will be responsible for electing the legislative leadership. The leaders’ behavior is just as important to consider as that of the individuals for whom you vote. Each one of us needs to participate in a frank discussion about whether ending the General Assembly’s status quo aligns with our typical party preference. In other words, if the person on your ballot who is more likely to promote clean, open government happens to have a different letter beside his or her name than the one with which you’re comfortable, it will be time to seriously consider leaving comfort and taking that bold risk. Obviously, there will be other factors to consider. I urge you, though, to avoid underestimating the importance of reform when casting your vote.
It appears somewhat unlikely that solid reform will be enacted by the 2006 session. This is why your vote later in the year is so important. You cannot expect to rely on a few “someone elses” to effect the kind of systemic change that all signs show will be imperative. I wish we had the chance to do it now, before the next session begins. However, the current crop consists of our duly elected representatives, and perhaps this next session (or a special session prelude, should one materialize) will provide each of them one last opportunity to show us his or her mettle. Will your elected officials rightfully rebel against the partisan grandstanding and support substantive reform proposals, regardless of their authors’ affiliations? This column will track the Hamilton County delegation’s performance, starting in January.
Just so you know my biases, and can thus judge my assessments: I have previously argued that the primary component of actual legislation should be disclosure (as opposed to meddlesome regulatory measures). I can compromise on lobbyist salaries, and agree to keep those hidden from public view, but lobbyist spending and campaign contributions (as well as those by the lobbyists’ employers) ought to be readily accessible. Legislative sessions and committee meetings (including subcommittees) should of course be included under the “open meetings” law. (What in the world ever made someone think that they were exempt?) I don’t so much care for limiting how much can be contributed to campaigns; but I want to be able to easily look up contributions, see who gave them and obtain a general idea of who that giver is. I can then connect the dots between those contributions and votes that favor the contributors. I would like to see either an independent commission or a much more muscular Registry of Election Finance to ensure compliance with the disclosure pieces, and my deepest druthers would suggest an elected independent commission.
If the 2006 session ends without these or similar changes in place, you know what to do. That election machine’s “lever” is powerfully positioned on its fulcrum. It can catapult the obstructive dead weight right out of office. Use it.
November 9, 2005
Yes, Let's (Do the Time Warp Again)
In all the excitement, I forgot that The Rocky Horror Show is playing at the Encore Dinner Theatre on Brainerd Road.
Bart Whiteman has a typically Bart-Whiteman-ish story on it in the Chattanoogan.
November 7, 2005
"Don't Call Me 'Stupid!'"
(Apologies to the creators and producers of A Fish Called Wanda)
I started commenting over at Bob Krumm's after learning of his post from The Monroe Doctrine, but then decided to turn my comments into a post of my own, link to those guys, and hopefully have something meaningful to say in this discussion.
Says Mr. Krumm:
Here's a quick Politics 101 lesson: If you tell the people who voted against you that they're stupid, you've guaranteed that they'll vote against you again.
I feel confident in predicting that Democrats won't recapture 51% of the vote until they have a nominee who, instead of insulting his country, has faith in it.[...] Ultimately, to win, you have to convince the people that you like them. At least try to fake it.
Here's the thing: I do believe that the Republicans -- or, more correctly, a subset of them -- have been "faking it" with regard to certain core voters. See recent revelations from the Abramoff/Scanlon hearings. And don't forget that Tom DeLay is close to these guys. I get the same sense of cynical manipulation from operatives like Karl Rove, though I have not the same kind of hard evidence. I'm not a partisan, so don't read me the wrong way. I would have just as big a problem with this if, say, Hillary Clinton secretly despised tree-hugging dreadlocked hippies but found ways of trotting them out to the polls to propel her into power and to further her agenda once she got there. The saddest part is that people on both sides allow themselves to be manipulated in this way.
Which is worse: calling your opponents "stupid" or calling your party's most ardent supporters "wackos"? Bob K. and H. Monroe are right. Randi Rhodes and her ilk do nothing to further the Democratic Party's electoral intentions by calling people "idiots." On the other hand, Scanlon, Abramoff, and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed do long-term damage to their party's trust factor when their little super-double-secret memos get revealed. More Krumms falling from the table:
I submit that middle America is growing increasingly disgusted with both sides.[...] I have a feeling that neither party's incumbents are going to fare very well. 2006 might just end up being the year of the political outsider.
Well put. We need rational people in leadership positions. The games must stop. I'm pretty liberal on some things (most social issues and war), and I have a history of leaning democratic-socialist on some economic matters too (as a result, go figure, of studying History), but I can be reasoned with if you come to the table with facts and well-defined arguments and not just the bludgeon of pseudo-religious jingoism. As my more conservative friend Bill Colrus put it recently, "I want to be able to have my mind changed." I see this as being a very different goal than "I want my political party to win more seats in the government, so I'll do anything it takes to make that happen, regardless of whom my bedfellows might be" or "I want to change the direction of the country because its current leadership is dangerously misguiding it, so I'll attack the people who voted for them." Think about it. Not a single one of us has all the answers, so we should collaborate and forge solutions. I dislike the current connotation of the word "moderate" as it evokes a finger-in-the-wind type who just says what it takes, as a real moderate is endowed with Reason and its resultant flexibility, which is quite a different thing.
Furthermore -- As a result of Bob's post, I'm determined to re-focus my own rhetorical output away from some admitted mishaps of the past and toward encouragement of other human beings. There's a difference, though, between being encouraging, which can imply challenging someone to excel, and simply being a cheerleader for the way people are. The trick is to emphasize an opportunity for improvement without belittling folks in the process -- and to recognize that a lot of them are content not to improve in the slightest. And to not let that last part send me into apoplexy.
I'll admit it: these changes will be difficult for me. I have a quip hanging in my cubicle that reads something like "Forget the Fountain of Youth; how about a Fountain of Smart?" (It was given to me by a co-worker.) My own personal bigotry is not based on race, gender, age, sexual preference, or favorite college football team, but on what is a very likely distorted, highly personalized measure of intellect. Acknowledging as much is the first step to recovery, or so They say.
November 6, 2005
This Story Just Gets Wilder
Thanks to Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, today we learn more about some ethically-challenged legislation pursued by Lt. Governor John Wilder (D-Mason). Sher's front-page story bears the headline "Wilder key player in law on collections." What's notable about that is that Wilder has claimed not to have been involved in a bill that expanded out-of-state firms' opportunities to collect delinquent taxes. "'I wasn't active in it, and I doubt I even knew when it passed,'" he's quoted as saying. I think that quote was from an earlier piece, because today's article also quotes him as saying on Friday: "'I didn't remember whether I did or did not. I did not remember that.'"
Either this long-time legislator plays a lot of games, or his memory is truly fading. (That's not a personal jab, but a mere observation.) Whichever is the case, his reign as Speaker of the Senate should probably come to as graceful an end as can be had before things get worse. Lt. Gov. Wilder therefore garners a special entry into the category I've set up for highlighting positions that are in sore need of turnover in 2006, for even though his District 26 seat is not up for re-election until 2008, the Speaker position is a two-year term. I figure eighteen of those terms in a row is just about enough.
Let's put the events about the tax colletion bill into a timeline. Ben Cunningham of Tennessee Tax Revolt asked for someone to follow the "chain of events," and I'm happy to oblige.
Sources: Andy Sher's (with Mike Weber) published news accounts; Tennessee General Assembly Archives; Tennessee Secretary of State Public Acts. Please let me know of any gaps or of any clarifications needed.
Finally, Lt. Gov. Wilder is apparently none too happy with all the inquiry. He snapped to reporter Sher, "'this story has but one purpose and that is to make Wilder look bad.'" I submit that the purpose of the story is to inform readers of the truth. Wilder has a history of dropping in on or setting up meetings wherein he supposedly doesn't remember speaking or claims not to have influenced the proceedings. Tennesseans deserve to know whether or not their second-most powerful official is acting ethically on their behalf. I, for one, feel that too many questions have been raised (and I'm still not over his paranoid, delusional prayer/speech given the day of the Tennessee Waltz arrests). I hope that the State Senate chooses wisely when the time comes to select a new Speaker, and, looking ahead to 2008, the voters in District 24 26 [- thanks Bob] have a viable choice to make a replacement that's long overdue.
November 5, 2005
Talk Back to Your (or at least A) State Senator
If you are in the 24th District (Benton, Decatur, Henry, Henderson,
Lake, Obion, Perry, Stewart and Weakley counties), make sure you stop by and give Senator Herron your feedback. He asked for it. Even if you're not, I'm sure comments are welcome from all Tennesseans.
Please be civil, though, no matter what. We want more interaction with our elected representatives, and ugly words could cause him to shut down comments like Stacey Campfield did for a while, not to mention deter other legislators from blogging -- and my, that's counterproductive.
November 4, 2005
Corker Names Political Director
From the Chattanoogan:
Bob Corker announced Thursday that he has selected Todd Womack to lead the political operations of his Senate campaign and has named him political director. Mr. Womack will officially join the campaign on Dec. 1.
This is a great opportunity for Mr. Womack. Since I believe that Bob Corker will be the next U.S. Senator from Tennessee, this can only mean even bigger things for Todd once Corker attains that office.
I don't know Todd Womack personally, but I have met with him and spoken with him on a couple of occasions. He is impressively engaging, bright, and (from what I can tell) a very principled conservative.
The question now is: who will Mayor Littlefield tap to be his next communications official?
The Bland Leading the Blind
(Cross-posted from The Pulse)
You all know the fifth-grade science lesson: The pituitary gland regulates growth so that we don’t end up with misshapen, unsynchronized bodies (we accomplish that ourselves via the various appetites and sheer laziness). Consider the municipality as an organism. Does it need a similar sort of growth regulator? Can the arm or the leg decide on its own how long it should be? These are questions raised recently, in and as responses to, an article in Metropolis magazine’s October 2005 issue.
The Planning and Design Studio served as Chattanooga’s hypothalamic hub from 1981 until earlier this year, or so goes the hypophysis. (Pausing for groans.) When Ron Littlefield took office in April, he lacerated the Studio’s main artery and thus rendered it incapacitated. Mayor Littlefield’s campaign platform attempted to reassure those not enmeshed in the downtown design-and-develop loop that they would receive the full focus of ongoing renewal efforts. “I want to assure everyone listening that one of my first priorities is to repair the rifts in our community,” he said at his inauguration. That’s a good idea, but since he seemed to spend a lot of time in his campaign highlighting and deepening those rifts, it’s a little like me punching you in the eye and then promising to spend the next few days helping to heal your bruise. I’m not giving up hope, though. We can keep our urban revival alive without its principal architect. We can curb sprawl and unwise development; we can disseminate the vibe of the riverfronts to other parts of the city through micro-projects and community listening sessions; we can overcome the “bland leading the blind” effect we (and our visitors) are starting to notice. The challenge issued to each one of us is to make sure we’re paying attention and taking part.
Remember lying on your back, watching clouds, and thinking of objects their shapes brought to mind? Did you know you could play the game indoors, too? Just look at a map of electoral districts, at any level of jurisdiction, and your imagination just may take over. What are your voting precinct’s boundaries? Mine roughly form the shape of a 1960s-era telephone handset. I don’t know if the earpiece knows that it’s connected to the mouthpiece, or vice versa. I was telephoned recently by a Fourth District candidate for the Hamilton County Commission, and among the several topics of our conversation was the fact that those in his end of the narrow, curved (or make that carved) slice of geography had rarely, if ever, seen anyone campaigning for the office. Most Pulse readers likely reside in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. Chattanoogans, say hello to your co-constituent brothers and sisters in Wartburg, Dandridge and the Cumberland Gap. I have nothing against the good people of these areas, but I find it odd that we share a U.S. Representative: Congressman Wamp hails from Hixson. Do people on the Kentucky border know Hixson? Maybe the rule is that as long as a district line doesn’t cross over into a different Grand Division, anything goes. No, that can’t be it. Look at District 7. The Representative from northwest Tennessee, Democrat John Tanner, has introduced legislation that would change how districts are drawn. This column will follow up on that and other gerrymander-stopping measures in subsequent editions.
November 3, 2005
An Ounce of Victory (for Reason)
Okay, so the voters of Denver, Colorado decided that resident adults will be allowed to pursue their "Colorado Rocky Mountain High" as long as they possess less than an ounce of herb.
Good for them.
I don't see this so much as a nail in Prohibition's coffin, however, for the following reasons:
- State and federal prohibition laws will still be the ones enforced.
- Um, buying or growing the pot will still be illegal, as they would involve amounts greater than the ounce allowed.
- It has virtually no foreseeable impact on the black market.
Still, though, this vote is an important symbol of the awareness that is seeping into our consciousness — an awareness, that is, of cannabis prohibition's general ineffectiveness and counterproductive results.
Lest anyone misconstrue my words here: like John Norris Brown, I'm not advocating the use of cannabis (unless one suffers from migraines, anxiety/depression, AIDS, cancer/leukemia, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, et cetera). I am, however, pointing out the ridiculous inconsistencies in our legal and judicial treatment of this particular "substance" as compared with that of many others (alcohol and tobacco spring immediately to mind).
2006 Statewide Campaign Update
Bo Heyward doesn't use expensive polling firms to get his positive results. As an outcome of his rather direct approach, he finds himself leading in the US Senate polling race with a whopping 100%. Meanwhile, fellow outrider candidate Jeff Moder says that his campaign is gaining in strength and in "Moder voters." (IMHO, gimmicks like this work much better than you might realize.) As for the "big-name" candidates: yawn. I'm still backing Bob, but nothing's really happening at the moment.
There is news, however, in the 2006 gubernatorial race: Jim Henry has officially bowed out. I learned this from TeamGOP's blog, and you can find reactions by Bob Krumm, Brian Hornback, Pensieri, and John Norris Brown, among others. Beth Harwell's candidacy remains an unknown. Fred Thompson seems to be a nice pipe dream for anxious Republicans, but I haven't seen any evidence that he's going to run. Someone just asked me the other day whether or not Congressman Zach Wamp will. I wonder, too. Again, I have no evidence to present, but the question is out there. I can say this: if Zach were to run for Governor, he would avoid a lot of awkward conversations about a decision to run for re-election to Congress after his self-imposed term limit had come to pass. He might even come across as a little heroic, although I don't consider him to be "statewide material."
The only officially declared Republican candidate for Governor, Carl Twofeathers Whitaker, hasn't been able to hold a website down. This is the second link (of two) that has broken since I started this blog. A quick Google search turned up what I guess is the newest online home for the campaign. His new host is a neo-Confederate activist.
November 2, 2005
My gracious host (Chattablogs.com) appears to be on the mend, which means I can log in. I know how frustrating it can be to deal with system outages that are beyond one's control and to have some sort of client base getting all frothy during the interim, so I tried to remain as froth-free as possible over the past few days.
Luckily for them, my actual success at that couldn't be measured via comments on their announcements blog. :-)
Anyway, I do have just sort of a general question, before I get back to blogging in earnest: can anyone tell me why, when I attempt to navigate to or in a blog that is hosted on blogspot.com, I have to wait A VERY LONG TIME before the page comes up? I mean, it hangs for FOREVER. No other blog service does this to me. I go to TypePad and WordPress and MovableType blogs all the time, and others I probably can't name, and I can go to where I need. It's just the Blogger blogs that are not readily served (especially their Comments pages).
There are quite a few Tennessee blogs on Blogger that I consider must-reads, and I can usually read them through Bloglines (since they publish full Atom feeds) but I can't comment on any. (Their moderators are probably sighing with relief at that, but that's a different matter.)
Does this happen to you? I'm on a cable connection (albeit a spotty and slow one, aka a "comcastic" speed), and I can't imagine trying to deal with Blogger on dial-up or even DSL.
November 1, 2005
Center Lane Closed Ahead
(From the October 26, 2005 Pulse)
So I was driving to pick up the boy recently (this is being published on his first birthday – happy birthday, Trey!), and I decided to tune the car radio to 1310 AM (where it had never ventured, to be sure) to see what the fuss was all about. I had no idea what the show was called, but the female host and male caller were engaged in a rather lowbrow exchange. A reporter had asked President Bush a question about the number of trained Iraqi battalions, and the radio personalities were finding major fault with his answer. For the record, so had I, but not for the same reasons. The President obviously did not answer the question that was asked. These two, though, just confused the matter to the point of foolishness. They didn’t seem to be able to compare apples to apples and thus shot their own argument in the foot. I saw no reason to continue listening to it, nor to tune into this particular hour again. (I later learned via a published schedule that the host was Randi Rhodes. She not only was terribly obnoxious; she has the audacity to have a sound-alike name to the late genius behind “Blizzard of Ozz.”)
Next up: conservatives who are angry over the Harriet Miers nomination. Make no mistake, the bottom line is that I agree with them – this is not a good pick. However, that is where the similarity of our positions ends. While it’s true that we do not need ostensibly underqualified cronies on the Supreme Court, it’s my position that we do not need social conservatives who will try to steer the country rightward on the bench either. In Washington, some conservative voices (notably William Kristol’s) have made the “underqualified” argument well. Many other self-styled conservatives, though, are shrilly lamenting the fact that this nominee is not a cultural reactionary. What does this accomplish? Nothing but the dilution of their “activist” or “legislating-from-the-bench” argument: the truth is being shown that they don’t want an even-handed interpreter. They want an activist, too – one that supports their agendas.
Speaking of judges: Roy Moore is running for Governor of our dear “Sweet Home” Southern neighbor. A man described as his protégé, former spokesman Tom Parker, is running as a Republican for Moore’s old seat (Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court). Now, that’s all good an’ everything, but…well, no, it isn’t. Tom Parker is apparently very friendly with neo-Confederate types who make statements such as “those who honor the civil rights movement are aiding and abetting the ultimate goal of the ONE WORLD ORDER — to BROWN AmeriKa and annihilate Anglo-Celtic-European culture!’” and call the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marchers “trash.” Moore would have a hard time distancing himself from his former legal adviser (not that he would try), so Alabama voters would do well to give both candidates the snub. (Quotes source: Southern Poverty Law Center.)
The trouble with the Right isn’t all to the south, though. Just up I-65 in Indiana, legislation was introduced (then hastily withdrawn) that would prohibit doctors from assisting with pregnancies that are created via any means other than sexual intercourse, unless the pregnancy will be carried by a woman who is married to a man. Go back and read my rather poorly-constructed sentence again, if you need to, to grasp that. That’s right: pregnancies involving (but not limited to) in vitro fertilizations, surrogates, or embryo transplants, by single moms, gay couples, or straight unmarried couples – all illegal. The bill’s sponsor, Indianapolis Senator Patricia Miller, later said that she “underestimated” public reaction to it.
Finally, back to the Left: I was copied on an e-mail recently in which the author stated, quite simply, his belief that voting Republican should be considered a criminal act. Yeah, this is precisely the way to advance your opposing viewpoint, brother. It was considered criminal to vote for anyone but Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s presidential elections for years, too. So, around 99 percent voted for Saddam, and the other one percent were never heard from again. Oh, and you might as well lock me up now, because even though it could be said that I typically don’t, I’m planning on voting for a Republican (Bob Corker for U.S. Senate) in November of next year.
We have crowded out sane discourse with our rants and diatribes. We can’t even hear each other. Ironically, the extremes in our current political climate are separated by a relatively small gap, if one adopts a global and historical viewpoint. We no doubt have more items in common than things on which we differ. With this in mind, it’s especially troubling to ponder the effect of allowing blowhards and extremists to command the airwaves, pages, and halls of government. That effect, in short, is voter apathy. Let’s remove the labels and stop the screaming. That means you, Randi Rhodes; and it means you, Tom Parker and friends. If we must have bifurcation, let’s keep it rational.