October 30, 2005
Hamilton County Election Updates
Here are some recent changes to the Hamilton County Candidates page:
County Commission, District 4
I have added my friend Brian Caldwell's name to the Potential section. I feel fairly confident that he'll run, but I am waiting for the official word. Also, note that I haven't taken Commissioner Cotton's name out of that section. Even though any measure of common sense would say that an incumbent who's been indicted on federal conspiracy/extortion charges wouldn't run for re-election, I just don't know that we can apply that measure to Cotton's thinking, so we'll just have to see.
Since incumbent Claude Ramsey announced that he'll be running again, I moved him up to Declared and moved Bill Bennett, Doug Fisher and David Fowler into the Inactive section, as they all indicated that they would not oppose him. All four are Republicans, so now we're waiting on other parties to name someone.
UPDATE: Sunday's Times Free Press indicates that Andrew Berke, whom I had initially forgotten to include as a potential Democratic candidate, has decided that he won't run after all. I'm going to add him to the Inactive list simply because I'm becoming one of those list-making people who likes to add completed items just for the joy of crossing them off; i.e., the wife is rubbing off on me.
David Alverson has a website up, so I linked it to his name. I still haven't heard whether or not Sheriff Cupp plans to run. Alverson, Derryberry and Hammond are not only all former Chief Deputies, I believe they're all running as Republicans in the May 2006 primary. This may suggest that they know more than I about Cupp's plans.
Peruse the page and let me know what I'm missing. It feels like that with only about six months to go before the County Primary I should have a lot more Declared and Potential names listed. I sincerely hope to see an uptick in participation next year, from candidates as well as voters.
October 29, 2005
This edition of "Purging Down the House" is a seven-for-one special. Five Democrats and two Republicans deserve your consideration for a vote next year — against them, that is. Why? Because they refused to look facts in the face. They were asked to vote for an investigation into Rep. Lois DeBerry's trip to Tunica, and even though she has apologized for her actions, and thereby indicated at least the appearance of misbehavior, they chose not to vote the right way. I can't decide which were more cowardly: the Democrats who voted in a bloc to turn a blind eye, or the two Republicans who didn't even show up to vote.
(Before I forget: Hat tip to Bob Krumm.)
Joe, I wasn't paying attention. What committee was voting on this? That would be the House Ethics Committee, DR. It is composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, but Rep. DeBerry (Democrat), though she herself is a member of the committee, (fortunately) recused herself from voting on whether or not to investigate. According to committee rules, it would have taken a seven-vote count to decide to investigate. Instead, there was a de facto seven-vote count not to (five actual votes and two excuses for not being there). I will state the obvious and say that an investigation could just as readily exonerate Rep. DeBerry as it could indicate a need for censure. That's why I say that the vote was cowardly. They weren't voting on her guilt or innocence.
Who are these legislators, and why did they stall this simple fact-finding? For starters, I can only find eleven names on the General Assembly's website. (It's behind, too, as it still lists Tre' Hargett, instead of Bill Dunn, as Vice-Chair.) We know that Lois DeBerry didn't vote, so I'm missing a Democrat. Here are the Democrats who voted against investigation, as far as I know:
(Does anyone know the fifth? Are these names correct? And why are the Ethics and Rules committee sections missing the Reports and Calendars buttons that all the other committees have?)
Here are the two Republicans who couldn't make it. (I wouldn't consider this notable, except Matthew White points out that they supported DeBerry and Naifeh in their respective leadership bids, and those facts may play.)
This blog entry is directed toward the voters in Clarksville, Dresden, Maryville, Nashville, Parkers Crossroads, Savannah, and the affected surrounding areas (plus those represented by the person whose name I could not locate). Your responsibility is to examine the records of these House members and to make the right decision in 2006 as to whether they truly represent you. I'm not making a blanket statement to the effect that they don't; I'm simply adding my voice to those pointing out this apparent lapse in judgment on what is a particularly important subject.
October 27, 2005
Tom Humphrey writes in today's News-Sentinel that we're going to have to wait for a "compilation report" from the lawyer and accountant hired to help disclose the Black Caucus Legislative Retreat's annual financial information.
Richard Manson, the attorney, says that the "raw data" would be "difficult to understand." (There's a joke here somewhere about the data being "cooked" instead, but I won't go there yet.)
In spite of my initial reaction to that statement (something along the lines of "just let me decide what I can and can't understand, okay?"), I can relate to situations where deliberate formatting and presentation can reduce confusion in one's audience.
Let's be patient, then, and see if they can come up with something soon. I just hope they don't "re-treat" the information as to make it less than forthcoming. If anything, it sounds like there are currently some gaps that need filling, and perhaps that's what they'll be doing over the next few days.
October 26, 2005
National Campaign Tracking Blog Calls Corker "Frontrunner"
The Hilleary camp also says the “most recent scientific primary survey” shows him with 33%, Bryant with 15%, and Corker with 4%, but gives no details about who did the survey and when; frankly those numbers do not seem likely to be correct to me– particularly Corker’s numbers. That has the look of a campaign survey, where before asking preference they asked several ‘framing’ questions first, and gave only Hilleary and Bryant as choices (but recorded volunteered responses of Corker). Perhaps not, but I am very skeptical of those numbers.
In any case, the money race shows that Corker is building a sizeable warchest, and as such I am starting to view him as the frontrunner, regardless of what the polls currently say. (Emphasis added by ed.)
Daly tracks an unthinkable number of polls and fundraising reports, and provides some of the most reasoned commentary on 'Tier A' campaigns that I can find.
He also says, of Tennessee's Conservativer-than-thou duo, "I expect to see more spitballs flying between those two campaigns over the next two months."
It is kinda fun to watch these two fight for second place, so I hope they keep up the schoolboy act.
Stop with the "Fitzmas" Already
I'm too young to remember the Watergate era, though I was alive. I think it stressed ordinary people out a little, though, to have such grave misdeeds perpetrated by individuals in whom they thought they trusted. I don't know that they danced around gleefully as the Vice-President, then the President resigned; I would guess that the events were on the somber side.
I'm not too young to remember the Clinton impeachment trial, and the hoopla that came before it. I do know that there was a good deal of "gotcha" sentiment displayed by Republicans. The fact that perjury is perjury (but don't ask Senator Hutchison) notwithstanding, the deeds behind the alleged lies in these two administrations are quite different. The giddiness in GOP circles when Clinton got caught lying about diddling an intern was bad enough.
But now is it going to be even worse? Has the internet done this to us? In the 1970s, information was pretty much a one-way street, i.e., from the news medium to the viewer/listener/reader. As much as it is a good thing — a great thing — that just about any person can publish h/er own content and disseminate it to the furthest corners of the planet, I sense a double edge to it as well. The dark side is that old "mob mentality" that just happens whenever people congregate.
Make no mistake: I am against the invasion of Iraq. I don't care for the nth troop death "milestone" media frenzy; to me, the first, the last, and every one in between are equally horrific* and, while I of course laud the courage and commitment shown by the fallen, I have become quite bitter about the cause for which they fell (even as I haven't quite figured out what that cause is, exactly). So, if untruths and data manipulations were utilized to prepare for an unnecessary war, one that isn't certifiably part of the general war on terrorism, of course I want justice to be served to those who wronged the American people, the world, and the families of the dead.
Do I consider that application of justice a time for champagne and dancing, though?** For making silly songs and pointing/wagging the finger? Hell, no. It is a trying time, and a worrisome one too, as the alleged actions of these men and women in the administration may have structurally damaged national and international security. I'm sorry to rain on the DKos parade, and I'm not saying that we should sit around and mope, and do nothing; but I'm speaking out against "Fitzmas" and the unholy bile that accompanies it. Grow up, get serious, speak out against what's truly wrong and shameful, become a participant and not just a hooligan, and work your butt off for change. The root causes for some of what we're seeing now were present in the Clinton administration, and in the first Bush administration; this is not a partisan thing. The festering cancer that is the Beltway establishment must be healed. We're the ones to process that healing.
So, indictments? Maybe. Probably. But even though I will be satisfied in seeing wrongdoers punished, I won't be glad. This is not like rooting for your favorite sports team, people. It's far more important.
October 25, 2005
Comment on Comments
I made some template changes to the site, mainly to add the sidebars to the individual entry pages. It looks like the "float" property is pushing the text box (where you enter your comment) down below the bottom of the sidebars. I'll try to get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, just know that you can scroll down and find it.
October 24, 2005
Site Announcement: Return of the Tennessee Candidate Pages
They're Baaaack! (Like the reference? I don't, but it's apropos for Halloween, I guess.) Whatever. What I'm trying to stumble toward is an announcement that the Chattanooga-Hamilton Civic Forum Candidate Pages, which went away from being linked-to from the main page for a while for some re-tuning,* are now linked-to from the main page again. Internet search engine users will know that they never really went away (since I just couldn't bear to deny the public its information, even during re-modeling), but they just weren't advertised.
Speaking of advertisements, you'll note that some do appear on each page. I won't do this often, but right now I will implore you to click away on these to your shopping heart's content. Never mind that most of them are for political campaigns, while a few are for political yard sign companies, and then you have your handy "Meet Republican Singles" cheesers. That's the nature of AdSense. It's all about the context, baby. Hear this now, too: I do plan to solicit some additional advertising and I will give preference to candidates, political parties and issue advocacy groups in Tennessee. More on that later.
Joe, how do the candidate pages work? Boy, am I glad you asked. You just go to the page that covers the governing body you're interested in, and at the top of the page there'll usually be a table (CSS purists: I couldn't help it) that holds links to all of the elected positions at that level of government. For example, if you navigate to the TN Senate page, you'll see a table with the numbers 1 through 33. Pretty boring, eh? But I haven't gotten all fancy with clickable maps, so that's what you get. If you click on 9, you'll be taken down the page to the candidate listing for the ninth district (currently held by Republican Jeff Miller), and you'll see that Sen. Miller may have a challenger in 2006 (I just learned this today). I don't know for certain that either Mr. Miller or Mr. Hathcock is running, so they are both listed in the "Potential" section under District 9, for now. As papers get filed, candidate names will move to the "Declared" section. If you've filled your knowledge cup for that district, you can click the ubiquitous "Back to Top" link and, ZAM, you're at the table again. Yes, it's pretty clunky, old-school design. I'm an amateur and I'm busy. Oh, and I'm poor, so I don't do this with any kind of software except Notepad and — believe it or not — Microsoft FrontPage (but I only use the HTML tab, and occasionally do a quick preview; that first "Normal" tab is wack). Hey, lay off. The coloration of tags helps me with long pages; sometimes my eyes go all wiggity in Notepad.
I'm I was going to put a post at the top (it will stay would have stayed there until after the November 2006 elections) that will point would've pointed readers to the Candidate Pages list in the sidebar. (Note to self: don't re-design the sidebar.) Unintended side effect: the post-dated post was hogging the first row on the Chattablogs front page, so I removed it.
(*Disclaimer time: By no means have I gotten these things to where I want them to be. It's just time to roll.
- I think my plan for RSS feeds from each page is still on vacation. These pages are not organized like online news sites or blogs (i.e., descending chronological order), so my limited knowledge of RSS prevents me from composing feeds that will make sense. If you can help, contact me.
- As (if) I get questions regarding these pages, I will build a FAQ.
- If you hadn't noticed, there are 132 General Assembly seats (116 of which will be elected in 2006), nine Congressional seats, one Senate position, one gubernatorial race, and 35 positions in Hamilton County that I'll be trying to keep covered. Oh, and Chattanooga elects a couple of judges next year. That's a lot of data. All I can do is promise to do the best I can at keeping up — and I am relying on readers from across the state to help me with candidate names, websites, and facts. Do your part, and help promote this site, and we'll all benefit from a government elected by a more informed populace.
Thanks for reading!
Hey Tennessee Government: the Titans Fund PAC Treasurer is Bill Oldaker
I saw you looking, and looking, and looking. I don't know why the Google Yahoo (maybe that's why) results don't always point searchers right to the entry, but they didn't. (Scroll down after following the link.)
South of the Border
Political and election news from our dear Southern neighbors:
In Georgia, Ralph Reed (whom, by the way, has one of my favorite "fake" names) is running for Lieutenant Governor. Why? Because Georgians need a strong Christian demi-despot; one who would never help alleged criminals gain access to the White House or secretly take gambling money from them (that was meant for promoting Indian casinos) to then lobby against casino interests (and a state education lottery).
In Alabama, Tom Parker is running for The Picked by the Almighty Himself Grand Pooh-Bah of the Supreme Court (I think I got that title right; I can't quite remember if that's what Roy Moore re-named it). Why? Because Alabamians [why? it's not "Alabamia"] need a Chief Justice who will judge by the laws of the United States and the State of Alabama; not one who would take his cues from neo-Confederate cultists. (And, hey, he introduced Michael Peroutka to Thai food.)
In Mississippi, Governor Haley Barbour is rumored to be looking at a 2008 campaign for President (which would pit him against our very own Doctor Senator in the GOP primary). I don't have anything specific to say about that, but I did find James Broadwater in a Congressional race. Why is he running? Because District 2 Mississippians need a Congressman that won't tout Christianity as the sole source for American law, or say that all Jews are going to Hell, or crazy stuff like that.
October 23, 2005
Public Clarification to Herman Wang on Charles Love
The Chattanooga Times Free Press has quite the alert little "spamcop" providing sentry services at their e-mail gateway. When I attempted to reply to an e-mail one of their reporters had sent me, my reply bounced. (It's probably Comcast's fault for allowing spammers to operate freely on their networks, but that's an entirely different story.) That's okay: there's nothing in the e-mail that I wouldn't say publicly, so I will do just that. I don't have permission from the reporter to post his original e-mail to me (and I can't, er, exactly contact him to acquire it), so I'll just sum it up and hope that works.
Herman Wang briefly mentioned my criticism (and again here) of the CTFP for their use of the term "unregistered lobbyist" to describe ex-School Board member Charles Love. Mr. Wang graciously included an article from June of this year in which one of his colleagues (Ian Berry) reported on the fact that Charles Love and Timothy Willis (whatever happened to him, by the way?) had failed to register as lobbyists for E-Cycle Management, Inc., which, as you all know by now, was the fake company set up by the FBI for targeting black officials investigating corruption in state and local government.
Here is my reply to Herman's e-mail:
Thanks for sharing the article.
I have been aware that Charles Love did not register as a lobbyist for E-Cycle Management, the fake FBI company, and that this gives anyone the ability to label him as "unregistered lobbyist," but especially when the context is Operation Tennessee Waltz.
I also learned from an article in your paper that Mr. Love was on a list of lobbyists who failed to report campaign contributions -- in fact, he topped the list. I guess that report didn't distinguish between "registered lobbyists" and "unregistered lobbyists" -- it just talked about lobbyists. But what defines a lobbyist? Not much. Merely registering with one paying client provides one with the label, and Charles Love had done so (even though the "client" that was supposedly paying him to lobby was Charles Love & Associates).
The reason this is important to recognize is not specifically that your paper uses "unregistered lobbyist" to describe him. It's important because the Tennessee Lobbyists' Association, which opposes several of the key disclosure recommendations in the upcoming special legislative session on ethics, wishes to put as much distance between its members and the indicted Charles Love as possible, so they misleadingly misuse the term "unregistered lobbyist" to imply that "he's not one of us." (And, truth be told, I am not sure he is or was a member of that organization.) My aim is to point out that, except for the fact that he maybe didn't pay dues to the TLA, Mr. Love was a lobbyist just like they are. So he didn't properly register with E-Cycle? He registered with the required number of clients (i.e., one) and is thus a registered lobbyist. He didn't report a number of campaign contributions; the same is true for other registered lobbyists. He got indicted as a bagman in a bribery sting (and a thieving one, at that) -- there but for the grace of God go some other lobbyists (not all of them, by any stretch, of course).
When the CTFP echoes this potentially misleading terminology that the TLA wants used, it assists the TLA toward their goal of assuaging the public ear with the "we're not like that" message. The CTFP and I are both technically right, depending on context: where E-Cycle Management was concerned, Love was not registered; but as far as the minimum requirements are concerned in general, he was duly registered.
Best regards, and oh, by the way, I enjoyed the Mayor Littlefield piece. They need to give you more real estate.
That's all. I just wanted to get it out there.
UPDATE: No, that's not all. I'm sorry, but I'm going to nitpick some more. First of all, today's front-page story in the Times Free Press is a good thing. I appreciate what they've done to illuminate the public on the highly interwoven nature of governing and lobbying. However, in an inset about Operation Tennessee Waltz, the authors refer to Charles Love and Barry Myers as lobbyists. Both of them. Obviously, I agree with that description of Charles Love. That's the point I'm trying to make. However, I checked the same files that I found when researching whether or not Love was registered, and the only Myers I can find is a Roland Myers with a Nashville address. All of the news accounts I found concerning Barry Myers refer to him as a "political operative" or simply "Memphis resident." (Interestingly, the same Google search turned up multiple references to Charles Love as a "registered lobbyist" or at least "lobbyist." It seems that Nashville papers and TV stations got it right a long time ago. And again, I do understand that within the context of "E-Cycle Management" Love was unregistered. (In contrast to the Ian Berry story referenced above: "Charles Love of Chattanooga and Timothy Willis of Memphis were registered as lobbyists in 2004, Drew Rawlins, director of the state Registry of Election Finance, said[...].") But Myers wasn't registered or unregistered. He just wasn't a lobbyist, apparently.)
The only reason I have for harping on these seemingly insignificant misprints is that they spur wonder at how many other such details are mishandled. And, let me be clear, I am not attacking the paper. I am simply saying to them: "You have an important job to do. You're doing it well. Now go and do it better."
Blog Polls Blogs about Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers
I should, like Bob Krumm, be more patient and wait until the hearings; and I usually am, but I cannot see that far in this case.
The only other nominee in recent history (uh, that should read "since I started paying attention") that I had problems with this early in the process was eventual Attorney General John Ashcroft, and you see what a fun one he turned out to be.
(Don't let that comment fool you into thinking that I consider myself capable of prescience.)
If you're interested in how bloggers are stacking up on this question, then go view the results at The Truth Laid Bear.
October 21, 2005
Some of What Happened This Week
Tennessee House Majority Leader Kim McMillan (D-Clarksville) was accused of entangling herself in a major conflict of interest, and today went on the defensive against her detractors. Like Matthew White before me [can't find direct link], I'm somewhat conflicted on this "citizen legislature" thing because even though I agree with the principle, and with the desire to maintain legislators' strong connections to their local communities, it has two major drawbacks: 1) some professions, by their natures, are arguably prone to potential conflicts (attorney is not the least of these), and B) many people are effectively or even specifically prohibited from being a citizen legislator by their occupations, and this isn't exactly, well, fair. Look more closely at these two points together, and you'll uncover even more: many of the very professions that allow the necessary flexibility for a term or three in the General Assembly (accountant, [insurance] agent, attorney — that's just the A's, y'all) are the ones most susceptible to conflict. It's like the serpent is flicking his tail, pushing the apple closer to Eve's hungry mouth. The citizen who has to show up every day to a job with a boss has no chance to participate in self-government. Do we need to change the entire structure of this and employ a full-time legislature? I'm still not convinced, but part of me observes the fact that we essentially have a set of career politicians in the part-time legislature, and thus views with skepticism the argument that we'd be abetting career politicians. And, like Bob Krumm, I'm somewhat opposed to term limits (though we employ them for various executive positions) but maybe that would be the countermanding factor necessary to stimulate turnover. Then we put the lock on the revolving door so folks don't just come right back and lobby (a year? so lame), and, well, I'm still not convinced, but I'm getting closer — because we would've eliminated sticky situations of the type that Rep. McMillan currently endures.
Chattablogs got on a pogo stick: forget the scooters, boys. Flipping a light switch up, then down every few minutes is so much more fun. Today, the pogo stick was put away because someone dropped some Quaaludes by. (You know that I mock because I care.) (I think the 'ludes were provided by Bloglines, which helped itself to a few too many first.)
The 2006 Senate race in Tennessee is gaining in both national profile and blogospheric pressure. Nathan Moore delivered my favorite post on the absurd (read: desperate) attacks on Bob Corker. That's just the Republican side. Someone rolled out a new blog for Rosalind Kurita. Don't count this lady out, folks. Yes, Congressman Junior will be tough to beat in the primary. So tough, in fact, that Lincoln Davis and others decided to stay out of it. Kurita refuses to be intimidated, and that's an admirable quality, in certain situations (not so much in others). Now, the real question on the 2006 U.S. Senate race: where are my Libertarian, Constitution, Green, Independent and Natural Law candidates? Time's a-wastin', people. I need names and websites/blogs.
October 20, 2005
Googling Oneself Is Not As Conceited As You Think
JoAnne, You're Not Doing Them (or Yourself) Any Favors
Now, full disclosure: I have never worked for, and likely will never work for the FBI (even though they've announced some possible, er, changes to their applicant qualifications), but I think I'm close to the scent on this one: criminal investigations are not conducted by starting out with a random sampling of people. At least, I certainly hope not.
Today's Knox News-Sentinel quotes the State Representative from just across the U.S. highway from me in District 29, JoAnne Favors, thusly:
"You can't say you have conducted a random sampling and the majority of them are black," Favors said.
There's really not a whole lot to add to what has been written all over the "Tennessee blogosphere" about this unfortunate story, except to point out that not only is Favors an elected legislator and a member of the Black Caucus, she is Vice-Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party (so this hits some friends and neighbors close to home). She has made a serious accusation (and continues blithely on with it despite having had her needless inquiry fully met with an answer from the investigators) of what would be a grave misdeed by law enforcement. Where is her evidence? She blew any chance of having a logical frame to her argument with that "random sampling" nonsense. I've even toyed with the idea that the original corruption complaints to the FBI were of GOP origin — but I would consider that a partisan power play, not a race-oriented thing.
Obviously there are honest officials who are black; but apparently Bowers, Cotton, Dixon, Ford, Hooks, Love, and Myers weren't among them. JoAnne Favors is counter-intuitively aggravating the situation that is likely facing the many black Democrats who aren't corrupt — namely, that they are (however unfairly, let me add) undergoing increased scrutiny and suspicion by virtue of association. Just as obviously, there are honest officials who are white (and Hispanic, and just insert the whole list here); but apparently Crutchfield and Newton weren't among them (and my personal jury's still out on Cooper and Wilder, and there may be more).
Look. Given our nation's (and this region's) history, there is, without question, a sensitive nature to matters involving "race" or "ethnicity" and these factors' intertwinement with socioeconomic paradigms, political empowerment, and so on. While I wish we were past the point of all that, I won't be stupid and just ignore reality. I am capable of putting the shoe on the other foot and imagining a world wherein "my people" had been enslaved and abused for centuries by some Other. However, I will be blunt when things like this happen, and take someone like Rep. Favors to task for making these allegations, because they have the sole effect of weakening the ferocity with which justice is sought against very real race-related atrocities.
And, again, it can't be said enough: anyone (elected official or not; "unregistered lobbyist," as the CTFP keeps mistakenly saying, or not; Democrat or Republican; man or womyn; white, black, or fuschia) — ANYONE who breaks the law is a sitting target for those who enforce the law.
October 19, 2005
Separated at Birth
Today, and today only (or tomorrow, if I read the date right), Roger Abramson sounds like my long-lost twin. Don't take me the wrong way, cuz I love me some Pulse, but Liz Garrigan and her crew can make quite a Scene.
(HT: Bob Krumm, whom I consider one of the very people Roger meant)
October 18, 2005
New Kurita Blog
From an anonymous commenter at a Ford supporter's blog, I learned of this new blog. Good. Now all of the "major" Tennessee candidates for U.S. Senate* have unofficial blogs, and a couple of other candidates (Heyward and Moder) run their own.
*Page still under construction! Hard heads required.
The Operation Tennessee Waltz Racial Bias Story
There's not a story here. There is an attention-grabbing distraction ploy, and nothing else.
Or, there is a very complex and subtle "silencing of outspoken leaders" being executed by the authorities, to weaken the power held by minorities.
Your thoughts? Leave them in comments.
My thoughts? I really can't say for sure that there was no racial bias involved in the FBI sting. I can't read the investigators' minds. Here are some questions and some pieces of information that you may find interesting, though. This collection is purely based in my arguably schizophrenic opinions, so take that for what it's worth.
UPDATE: It seems that I inadvertently cued Rep. JoAnne Favors to make an accusation that is resoundingly similar to this question.
October 17, 2005
Don't Watch TV "News"
I had to sit and wait for car repair this morning, and the television in the dealership was tuned to CNN.
Have you, dear reader, seen and heard the infantile blabber that passes for "news" these days? I usually don't.
I tried to ignore it today, but at times the idiocy leapt out of the tube and wrenched my synapses into submission. I'm not talking about the kind of local-yokel tomfoolery we get around here, which is annoying, but relatively harmless; I'm speaking of nationally (internationally, even) viewed broadcasters (it pains me to call them that) whose idea of "banter" is likely to send any sane person toward the nearest perilous precipice. The truly frightening thing is that this goes on every day, on many channels.
I found myself pondering the surreal: "Ted Turner must be rolling over in his grave." Yeah, even though he's not dead.
There were three, I guess, of these co-hosts, or whatever they're called these days. Their weatherman was only slightly better, but even he didn't know what to do with this boorish set at times, or so it seemed.
Is this what America feeds itself for breakfast? Have we dumbed down this much?
No, I am not suggesting that I could do it better. For all I know, part of the problem is the material the shows' producers slap together; that anyone would fail at trying to render it well. I just know that I can't watch it. I can't watch the network morning shows, or any cable news. Thank [your idea of whom to thank] for blogs, for public radio, and — occasionally — for online newspapers.
October 16, 2005
But Remember, the Reporters Are Intimidated
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sunday, October 16, 2005, B1:
"I have a pretty clear idea of where we’re going with the city and, barring any unforseen complications, if the economy remains solid, I think Chattanooga is on a progressive path," Mr. Littlefield said by phone from China,
Mayor Littlefield returns from China on Thursday, and will mark his return by preparing a special dish for Councilman Leamon Pierce: Spicy Chongqing Chicken Feet. I mean, what else could he be learning over there? Check this out:
The Marriot['s lounge] in downtown Chongqing[...]provides a spectacular view of three blocks of refuse, beginning right across the street.
It seems the spot was razed in 1998 to provide space for more plush hotels but funds ran out and it soon became the neighborhood dump. Half-demolished buildings and slowly diminishing piles of bricks testify to several weeks worth of demolition, while the beggars' paradise of multicolored, incredibly pungent junk displays the daily destructive might of 4 million Chongqingese.
The garbage is sifted by aging men and women with a cart in tow. They pull out what they can use or resell and then mosey on down the road to the next pile of refuse.
Every so often, the acrid smell of burning chemicals wafts through my window as I eat my noodles.
But cities like Chongqing[...]and other poor cities with little foreign investment and few tourist spots do not have the funds or political will to make any significant improvements to the environment. They are still "passing their begging bowl amongst the investors" in search of funds (source)
Is this the place that holds the secrets to urban renewal? Granted, the above anecdote was written four years ago. Perhaps the city has made impressive strides and has things to teach us Chattanoogans. Does anyone know? I'm thinking that we could have gotten by just as well by sending Mayor Ron to study, oh, I dunno, Louisville. It's just a short piece up I-65, and the phone charges are a lot lower.
October 14, 2005
Yo, B4B: Corker Secured Funding for a Convention, Period.
I would just comment on Blogging for Bryant, but I can't reach the comments page of any Blogspot address from this machine, for some reason. Plus, I won't comment on sites that require registration (though I think JB stopped this a while back). Blogger sucks, and that's a different story.
I'll give points when someone supporting an opposing candidate makes a real strike on something substantive; but harping on the fact that Mayor Corker helped gather advertising funds to attract a convention to his city, regardless of the fact that the organization that held it is facing some questions now, is purely pointless. Um, promoting Chattanooga to would-be visitors is one of the things I expect from my mayor. We've got us a beautiful town here, and we should show it off.
To my knowledge, the Black Caucus isn't a Democratic organization, except, well, by default. This is the South, after all. But even if it were, I would still say this is a snoozer of a "story," because I would simply chalk it up to the then-Mayor (chosen via non-partisan election, by the way) doing his job. (Hell, McKee Foods threw in a few grand, and they're pretty darned Republican.)
Ron Littlefield: You're a Democrat (same non-partisan election, though). Why don't you scare up some private advertising dollars to give to a group of Republicans that wishes to have a retreat here? Then maybe we can call it even.
Yes, I know that since the Terrablogs admins have instituted a verification procedure (not a bad thing, by the way), and my template isn't in sync with its font color, commenters can't read the text (that explains what the button is there for) against the dark background.
For now, if you'll just click the "Verify" button and trust that you didn't verify something stupid, I'll appreciate it. I'll try to get a modified template out there soon.
That's a Bunch of BLL
I've been waiting for just the right post, comment, or fragment to come along that would drive me to point out a blog I've been reading, and I guess today's the day.
If we're not aware and involved and persistent enough to do all this wonderful goo-goo stuff ourselves without a government to coordinate things for us, how can we possibly be aware and involved and persistent enough to watch the watchmen?
Context: the author (with his source) is arguing against Big Government, because the process of putting that government into place (e.g., republican democracy) is itself prone to working against the public good. (That's oversimplified a lot, I recognize; go read the linked and sub-linked to get the whole argument.)
I have a stubborn optimist streak, and thus the following reaction resonates in part of my being:
Typically a democracy handles this competence problem through two types of solutions: 1) a professional class of public employees that are supposed to be somewhat insulated from politics so that they will provide competence through changes in administration, 2) a sort of market in political parties. According to democratic theory, any political party capable of winning the contest for power should have the minimal competence necessary to run the government.
Don't worry, I can hear your snorts of derision at that last bit. The current administration is but one egregious example of the fact that theory and practice are two very different things. Still, though, the driving purpose behind this website is to increase awareness of and participation in our self-government at all its levels. Why? Wouldn't that increase the effective size or scope of Government, and thus decrease its competency, to have that many more players in it? Wouldn't the result be counter-productive?
Perhaps not. It could be that dramatically increasing the level at which individuals participate in this grand social experiment actually enhances the control they can (collectively) exercise over it. In other words, we might vote ourselves out of a lot of anti-Federalist meddling, pork-barrel spending, and behemoth corporate "free" trade agreements, if we would just get off our butts and do it. We might practice micro-economics, barter, and generally be left alone except if threatened by a large external force, if we would excercise and thus protect our rights.
So I introduce to you the Mutualist Blog and an association of like-minded blogs called "Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left" or
Some of it's really interesting, some of it is nice in theory but a practical impossibility, and some of it is just wack. Sift through and find what stands out to you.
Below the fold are more of my thoughts about the seemingly incongruous juxtaposition of "libertarian" and "left."
I did some reading a while back about different philosophies (nothing heavy, just introductory material) and discovered that I am somewhat of a nihilist. Hold on, I'm not the kind of nihilist that believes in destroying everything, or anything like that. Well, usually..
Nihilism and Anarchy have been neighbors for a very long time; but, again, there are militant anarchists and there are anarchists of a more "cheerful" sort. (This is somewhat similar to the idea that there are militant atheists, and then there are non-believers who want to peacefully co-exist with the churched. Ralph Vaughn Williams was once asked how and why he wrote so much sacred music, as he was not a believer. He famously replied that he described himself as a "cheerful agnostic." My nihilism comes off more as a shrug than as a raised middle finger -- again, usually.)
Well, you say, your website here promotes government, voting, democracy — all non-anarchic things. Yes, I say, maybe it is my "sacred music." (After all, Civics is the only religion to which I'll come within the proverbial ten-foot radius.)
More to come on this left-libertarian-yet-classic-liberal-who's-into-democracy thing.
October 13, 2005
Relocating the Lobby to the Ground Floor - Laws don’t create ethics. Voters do.
Cross-posted from The Pulse. Dated portions abridged as necessary..
UPDATE: Also, the subtitle "Laws don't create ethics. Voters do." is not mine. I wanted to find a way to say that here before and just didn't arrive on anything comfortable; but now, since it has been quoted here, it just needs to be said regardless of how gracefully. It was added by Pulse staff (probably Bill or Aaron), and I do like it a lot. Imagine the "irony" of failing to accurately credit these words in a post about ethics.
September 30 was the deadline for the Citizens Advisory Group on Ethics in Government – a panel commissioned by Governor Phil Bredesen after the initial round of Operation Tennessee Waltz arrests – to submit its finalized ethics reform recommendations. If you’ve been trying to keep up with the story, you have no doubt seen a variety of bulleted lists, each prepared by a different group, and each purporting to be the list of needed reforms. This week, I’ll highlight a few of the more interesting (read: controversial) items.
First, though, let’s pick up where last month’s episode ended. According to its President, Mark Greene, The Tennessee Lobbyists’ Association endorses many reform proposals and opposes a few others. Additionally, the organization’s board voted to mandate ethics training for its members starting in 2006 – the idea being that, no matter what new legislation or other rules are enacted, lobbyists who belong to the TLA will be required to become educated on circumnavigation and loopholes how to adhere to the new regulations. The Registry of Election Finance plans to upgrade its online presence, to aid lobbyists in the registration and filing processes and to assist the general public in following the money trails.
So, what are the best reforms? As was asked before, is it better to more tightly regulate lobbyist/legislator activity, or to simply require more disclosure of spending and of votes? Can the public be counted on to follow up on unseemly patterns and register their discontent on Election Day or do we need an independent commission to intervene on our behalf? Let’s dive in.
Contingency Fees—Oh, you didn’t know we had those? Yep, a lobbyist can negotiate with an employer to be directly compensated for successfully engineering the passage (or defeat) of a piece of legislation. The Citizens Advisory Group recommends outlawing this practice (and thus joining the vast majority of states, as well as the federal government). A joint statement issued last week by Tennessee Tax Revolt and the Tennessee Center for Policy Research concurs.
Campaign Finance—It may be counterproductive to enact a 100-percent ban on cash contributions, but some have recommended that. Others want to cap the cash at $100. That seems okay. If you’re going to give more than a hundred bucks, you really mean it. So write a check or use a credit card. That way, when the recipient of your funds starts voting against her constituents in favor of your special interest, we can easily trace the connection. Oh, one more thing: impose and enforce meaningful penalties for failure to disclose.
Lobbyist/Principal Spending—Here’s one that gets the lobbyists all tweaked. At the Chattanooga meeting of the Governor’s panel, lobbyist John Lyell repeatedly said that he didn’t “want [us] in [his] business” (this sentiment was echoed by others at the TLA conference). A friend who wishes to remain anonymous was presented with this perspective. In her inimitable no-nonsense style, she retorted, “But why not? You’re in ours!” One might sympathize with one part of the lobbyists’ objection to income disclosure, however. In one lobbyist’s words, “nobody needs to know my exact income except for my accountant and the IRS.” The Tennessee Center for Policy Research steps carefully around this, like so: “Requiring FULL disclosure on the legislative website of amounts spent by those that employ lobbyists or spend money to influence legislation.” That’s the real goal, isn’t it? We don’t care what Mr. Lyell’s take-home is; we just want to know how much his clients are spending to influence public policy, whether that money is allocated to lobbyist payroll or otherwise.
The Independent Commission—This is the weakest spot in the reform package. Criticism has begun before the details have been determined, but the gist is that no one believes that a Commission in charge of enforcing a Code of Conduct would be truly independent. Each major political party would vie for control and, some say, the whole thing would be a politicized mess. Do you want a way around this? Here it is: we should directly elect this body, charge it with overseeing all disclosure and give it “teeth” to enforce the related legislation. (The state of Washington has been on this road for over three decades; it’s not my idea. I just like it a lot.) We should be moving away from political appointments (for example, electing our Attorney General), and an ethics commission that consists of friends and the favored is far from congruous with the notion of true reform.
Online Vote Tallies—Welcome to the 21st century. By the way, this would include all subcommittee and committee votes, if enacted as proposed. Far more legislation than many people realize lives or dies at the committee’s hand. When we are able to log onto the General Assembly’s website and see the day-to-day activity around these votes, and piece that together with the campaign contribution and spending disclosures that are also published somewhere online, we will more easily detect the appearance of unethical behavior and will be able to act accordingly (in tandem with a more empowered enforcement agency).
If you missed the point of that last sentence, here it is in distilled form. Laws cannot create or force ethical behavior. All we can (and should) do as citizens is provide the necessary means for informing ourselves, and our appointed actors, of unethical conduct. Criminal acts are prosecuted through the legal system. Unethical behavior should be dealt with, ultimately, at the voting precinct.
October 12, 2005
Run, Bob, Run
[Ed. note: this was intended as a comment on Bob Krumm's site, but something is amiss with interconnections, so I am posting it here.]
Bob, please run for office. Your Metro government, our State government, and the Congress all need the kind of "Responsible, Ethical Leadership" I am confident you can provide. I am an independent who is admittedly on the "liberal" side of certain issues, yet I would nonetheless have no qualms about supporting a GOP candidate such as yourself in any way possible.
There's another side to this, too. I really wouldn't care if, in your private life, you were a philandering ladies' man (or, heck, a man's man) or a pot-smoker, as long as you managed government competently and wisely and as long as you were honest about these things; and, first and foremost, as long as you were honest about money and free of undue influences.
Keep thinking about it. Even the fact that you take your friends' advice to the contrary under serious consideration augments your value as a candidate. (No one wants a bullheaded narcissist who is intent on running no matter what.) Furthermore, your "Mr. Smith" optimism may be considered naïve in today's jaded climate, but I (for one) appreciate it.
One last thing: the mass media mudslinging torture pit is presumably why we don't have, or haven't had, a President Colin Powell (according to him, anyway).
But It's All Right; In Fact It's a Gas
There is a little-known discriminatory practice embedded in one of our daily commercial activities. I'm going to call it "Fuelism."
Have you ever noticed that the auto Diesel pump at many filling stations "convenience" stores [tangent: why did we change from buying auto fuel at a service garage to getting it at the same place we pick up our BBQ pork rinds, Marlboro Lights and lottery tickets?] is banished to the litter-strewn edge of the property? In plenty of other instances, if the Diesel pump is inline, it is an ancient model that does not feature a card reader. It may be surrounded by six or eight fully modern 3-hose gasoline pumps (but harder to get to, being in the middle), and "Pay at the Pump" may be advertised on the store's signage, but do we Diesel drivers get the benefit? Big fat no. [Another tangent: who in the world buys Premium these days?]
Add to this problem the recently elevated paranoia about drive-offs (apparently due to the dramatic increases in fuel prices), mix in the fact that I don't carry cash, but purchase all fuel using a charge card, and I am encountering a full-on obstacle course in reaching the ostensibly simple goal of filling up the car. Take, for instance, my experience yesterday at the Mr. Zip located at 6116 Ringgold Road in East Ridge. Well, let's back up for a second. I had previously pulled up to two stations in a row on Cloud Springs Road just across the Georgia line, and each station's lonely perimeter-bound Diesel pump had a plastic bag over its nozzle. Is there a shortage? Perhaps. But the Mr. Zip near the I-75 interchange with Ringgold Road apparently had Diesel, and had posted a fairly decent price for it, considering.
I pulled up to the pump, and noticed a "sign" taped to it that looked like it had been written by a second-grader. I gathered from the garbled English that I was expected to pre-pay inside. So I walked inside to explain that I was going to fill up and would remit, via charge card, the resultant total upon completion of the sale. The tiny-brained cashier told me that I had to leave my card inside. I am extremely reticent to do this. I told her so, but begrudgingly handed it over. She then handed it back to me, and said "you can hold on to it." Cool, I thought, and walked back out to the pump. I attempted to start it. It wasn't coming on. I tried a couple more times, then walked back inside to see what the problem was. I asked the cashier. She said she was refusing to turn on the pump because suddenly her story was that I had "thrown" my credit card at her. (I had done no such thing. I put it right on the counter, and barely even moved it in her direction; just enough so she could reach it.) I asked, "don't you want to do business with a paying customer?" "No," she said. "It's your loss, then," I shrugged, and walked out, cussing and wondering where I could now go to get a fill-up. I ended up down at the Exxon on the corner with Moore Road, where the cashier at least allowed me to leave my driver license with him instead of a credit card, and where I paid $0.40 more per gallon than I would have at the Conoco station. By this time, I was shaking uncontrollably with rage.
What the hell? Why is it so hard to buy Diesel, when the fact is that I can fill up my gasoline-powered car by swiping my charge/debit card and never having to endure contact with the redneck b*tch inside? I've noticed that in other parts of the country, a majority of places I stopped to fuel up have fully-functional pay-outside pumps — usually with a Diesel component right in the same unit as the 3 gasoline lines. One simply has to push a different button and remember to pick up the green-handled hose.
So, I'm on a quest for pay-at-the-pump Diesel in Chattanooga, and no other station will get my business for this product. (The sad part is that this means the Biodiesel kick I was on whenever I could get over to Benton Oil is also over, unless they wise up and install a modern pump for it.) And the Mr. Zip at 6116 Ringgold Road in East Ridge will not only never see a dime from me as long as I live; they will now have to deal with letters, phone calls, and other forms of harassment (all legal, mind you) for a long time to come.
October 11, 2005
I want to publicly express my wish for his speedy recovery and my encouragement to his family and friends.
This is one of the many moments wherein one's political party and ideological positions cease to matter, and we are simply human beings.
October 10, 2005
Monday Night Clippings (Penalty-Free, Even)
"Fare thee well, Uncle Bill
See ya in the mornin'
Unlike a great many fellow brigadiers, I did not get started blogging because of Bill Hobbs (nor was it South Knox Bubba). I started blogging because of Ron Gunzburger, but I sort of backed into it. I frequented his website before it became a blog, and after it (sort of) became a blog (now it has an RSS feed and everything) I decided to do my own. But now I'm way off topic. Bill Hobbs has been a great read, a worthy ideological opposite sometimes, and an invaluable ally at other times. I know you know that his political commentary will be missed, and that I don't have to say that, but I just did. Pah. (Side note: In January of this year, Gunzburger announced that he was quitting. Did he take a hiatus? Yes. Did he end it after a relatively short period of time? You bet.)
UPDATE: Someone sure turned up the A.C. It's chilly in here.
Just after I started up two new categories for the purpose of highlighting legislators whose Capitol chairs need new arses in them, I realized that I should also perhaps point out legislators who are submitting the kinds of bills that are needed to clean up the place. State Senator Rosalind Kurita (Bob Corker's general election opponent, maybe?) is one. Another lives closer to home here: Rep. Dewayne Bunch of Cleveland. He is submitting a bill that would ban legislators from voting on issues being pursued by their employers. In other words, if a piece of legislation favoring (hell, authored by, is more like it) the oil and gas industry were to come up for a vote, and the chairman of the subcommittee in charge of considering that bill happened to work for an oil and gas exploration firm, he would be prohibited from exercising a vote, due to the conflict of interest. I like it — and no, I don't think it is aimed at House Majority Leader McMillan. Legal scholars: tell us what's wrong with the picture, though. Selective prohibition of voting by elected representatives seems a swampy sort of place to wander. Any other ideas? (I hate to bring it up, but "full-time legislature" did just pop into my mind.) Whatever the case, Dewayne scores a "bunch" of points for trying.
The next two items are from the "I'm just now getting to them" file.
There is a new verb in the lexicon, courtesy of TVA: "nickajack." (Think "hijack," "carjack.") That's about all I'll say, cuz R. Neal is better at it anyhow. Okay, then.
My future employer (heh!), the Center for Public Integrity, disclosed last week that close to eighty members of Congress have employed corporate lobbyists as the treasurers of their campaign PACs or leadership PACs. So what? Well, it's like this. Lobbyists throw all kinds of money at our elected officials in order to sweet-talk them into voting the way the lobbyists' clients want. Right or wrong, that's what happens. They are there to "massage" legislation through to a specific desired end. When those same persons become chief fundraisers for the PACs, not just any PACs, but re-election PACs, then How. In. The. Hell do you expect the candidates (because, you know, Congresspeople are candidates 24/7/365/2) to avoid sucking up to their PAC treasurers' vested interests, instead of paying maybe one bit of attention to the voters who put them there?
You wanna know something interesting? The article leads off by mentioning a real hot-shot lobbying guy, one Bill Oldaker. He is the treasurer for quite a few PACs, including the Titans Fund. What is the Titans Fund? It's Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.'s leadership PAC. Oldaker has helped raise over a half million dollars for it. Now, this is confusing stuff, so don't think that I'm sitting here saying that Ford is using that money for his Senate campaign. The way I understand it, this is money that he'd be using to help others run. It'd be interesting, though, to see from whom it was raised, and how the recipients have voted on those donors' interests. Here's an example:
[I]n 2004 four committees that [Oldaker] managed donated a combined $30,000 to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member of the transportation appropriations subcommittee. In that same year, Oldaker lobbied Congress on transportation appropriations issues for at least five of his clients.
Are there any other Tennessee delegates who use lobbyists as their PAC treasurers, you ask? Why, yes. There is one more. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's WedgePAC employs a Paul Ketchel (a former(?) pharmaceutical lobbyist), so they make the page.
I think this is one reason why, when the DCCC called up the other night to ask if I wanted to donate $110 as a symbol of the 110th Congress (and then when I said I didn't, asked if I wanted to donate $26 to represent 2006), I only said "no, I don't" but I felt like saying "no, go get your corporate-lobbyist-fed PAC money, you don't need my pocket change." Plus, I'm not a Democrat.
Cotton 2002 Election Case Headed for Grand Jury
Steve Crump, assistant district attorney general for the 10th Judicial District, said his office will present findings into alleged criminal violations surrounding a 2002 Hamilton County election to a grand jury in 30 days. The case involves voters who were moved between precincts before the May 2002 county primary election between Hamilton County Commissioner William Cotton and challenger Warren Mackey. Mr. Cotton defeated Mr. Mackey by 36 votes in the 4th District's Democratic primary.
So, now that Commissioner Cotton has decided to remain seated on the Commission despite his arrest on federal bribery charges, will it turn out that he is forced off because he shouldn't have been there all this time?
October 08, 2005
Purging Down the House: District 15
I will do my best to do some real investigating on my own, and not simply parrot Bill Hobbs, but the fact is that he has provided sufficient material for our second target only a day after this thing got started.
Read Hobbs' article (linked above photo), and the second part of a related piece (also authored by Hobbs).
Then look at what else I found. (I don't have a LexisNexis; I drive a Google.) In its February 2001 newsletter, the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association (cute acronym: TOGA) mentions that its President (Bill Goodwin) testified before a "sub-committee on natural gas deregulation" on the topics: 1) receiving state-sponsored marketing support and 2) exploration on state land. The subcommittee's chairman? Joe Armstrong.
Fast-forward ten or so months. As Bill Hobbs points out, Armstrong was responsible for TOGA getting an audience with a Governor's working group, wherein Goodwin testified on very similar topics.
So, not only was Rep. Armstrong failing to list Tengasco as a source of income on his conflict-of-interest filings (PDFs linked in container to the right) until 2004*; in (at least) the 2001 legislative session, he chaired a subcommittee that oversaw oil and gas exploration, while he was employed by an oil and gas exploration firm.
(*One of the other TREF filings (2001) vaguely lists "Gas and Oil Exploration" under the Investments heading, but not under the Sources of Income.)
Maybe I simply don't realize how common this sort of thing is. I'm still learning about our state government, and I do know that there is a balance, given that we have a part-time legislature, to be struck somewhere between A) having people run these committees who know nothing of the subject material, and B) the proverbial "foxes guarding the henhouse." I know that others have been written about for similar appearances of conflict. It's likely that nothing illegal has occurred in many of these situations, but are these things ethical? Are the citizens that Rep. Armstrong represents getting his full focus, or is too much interplay with an industry that employs him cluttering that representation? (One can see how being chair of a legislative subcommittee that pushes legislation beneficial to an industry could help a person climb quickly in that industry: say, all the way to Chairman of the Board.)
Your feedback is essential here. I only sort of know what I'm doing. Am I making too much of all of this, or is there a serious problem? Until I hear otherwise, I'm going with the latter. Mark this seat Purge in 2006.
October 07, 2005
It's Nothing Person-al
Without further ado, let's raise the curtain on this project, and shine our Cleen Gubmint Spotlight on a Person..
Yes, a Person named Curtis. Thanks to Bill Hobbs, who is ever a not-so-silent partner in the United Front Against Corruption's right flank, I direct your attention to a story in today's City Paper. You may have already known about the courageous move by new House Republican Leader Bill Dunn of Knoxville, wherein he, on the behalf of the late bills committee, declined a lobbying group's invitation to dinner and — I assumed — put the kibosh on other legislators' being wined and dined there as well. Read the article, though, and share in my eye-rolling over the technicality embedded in current law: lawmakers can't be taken to dinner by lobbyists, unless a full committee is invited; but, wink wink, said committee doesn't actually have to attend. Okay, that needs some work.
Back to Senator Person, though. Not only was he discussing TennCare and tort reform with a lobbyist for and members of a physicians' association at a nice restaurant on the Tennessee Medical Association's tab; he has some other laundry in the hamper that we ought to just go ahead and drag out. This is his day on this website, remember? He has close ties to another industry's lobbyist, too. Very close, in fact. His son, Curtis Person III, is the director of legislative affairs (i.e., lobbyist) for my despised cable/internet provider, Comcast Communications. Has Senator Person, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee (heh), dutifully abstained from participating in legislative activity related to his close relative's lobbying position? Apparently, not so much. (Again, laud the intrepid Hobbs for the story, and tip yer hat to Mark A. Rose.)
UPDATE 10/8: Here's more.
Voters in Senate District 31: all Tennesseans need you. Send a new, uncompromised public servant to Nashville (after all, Curtis Person has served there longer than some of you have been alive), and we will thank you.
Where will the spotlight shine next? My sense of drama tells me not to tell you. Stay tuned..
October 06, 2005
Hoosiers, As You Were (Reproductively Speaking)
Oh, nevermind. Sorry to get you in a huff. Apparently State Senator Patricia Miller (RRR-Indianapolis) didn't know the exact meaning of "enormously controversial," and has now withdrawn her proposed bill.
UPDATE: Just thought of something. U.S. Senator Evan Bayh is likely to run for President in 2008. Perhaps Sen. Miller is looking to replace him, and upped her name recognition by demonstrating that she is of Coburn/DeMint caliber.
October 05, 2005
Hey YOU! (No, not you; the person in Seattle who keeps bugging me about Phil Driscoll, even though that's not what this site is about)
ISP: Level 3 Communications Inc
Location: Renton, Washington
What are you looking for? Why don't you just ask for it?
October 04, 2005
More Uses for John Redcorn's Migraine Remedy
Thanks for the tip on treating back pain, doc.
I'll leave to the reader's imagination my observation about what's been happening to Oregon's taxpayers.
(HT: Raw Story, who're livin' up to their name tonite)
Senate Leadership to Investigate District 29 Election
The Commercial Appeal has a brief story. I'm just sitting on my hands and waiting until all of this is over before I mark an incumbent on my State Senate page. Either Ophelia Ford or Terry Roland will be defending the seat next year (right? odd-numbered seats in 2006, even ones filled by special election? someone correct me quickly if I'm mistaken). The one thing I hope is that this doesn't turn into a big partisan thing. We need to know if the election was good or tainted, and that's that.
Side note: I wonder if William Cotton is planning to run for re-election.
Why Judith Miller Went to Jail
You'll find, if you read the article, that Ms. Huffington explores the likelihood of that take-home amount being realistic, and finds the idea less than supported.
Still, though, it do make a person wonder..
October 03, 2005
Salmon..the OTHER White Meat
Read all about it at NashvilleFiles. This story comes from a long way off, but Blake quotes Ben Cunningham, who illustrates how close to home it really is in some ways.
Shootout at the OKCupid
Right. I do indeed realize that it's a waste of time to take a politics quiz on some internet dating site called "OKCupid," let alone to spend even more time analyzing its makeup.
However, my reaction to some of its questions won't go away until I air it. I can only guess as to how the results are tabulated, but I'm sure that the thing is skewed. That's not even my main point here, though. Some of the questions just shouldn't even be there.
Example No. 1: Proposition #39. "The life of one American is worth the lives of several foreigners." This one simply enrages me. "Strongly Disagree" is far too mild a response. Whose idea was this? What kind of person would it take to agree with this utter nonsense? Honestly, "foreigners?" From where do you think modern Americans came? Does arriving on these golden shores and taking the oath magically multiply the value of one's human life? I didn't think so. (Note: I'm not implying that I know how Geekville's author answered any specific question. I just have hunches about social conservatives.)
Example No. 2: Proposition #30. "Most people are too stupid to know what's best for them." In other words, agree and you're tagged as a liberal. I've gotten to the point where my eyes just automatically glaze over when I hear this tired old conservative mantra. I've known plenty of anarchists and libertarians and good old-fashioned capitalists who agree that most people are stupid. It's an uncomfortable fact, but smart people are a minority. While being intelligent doesn't automatically make one a liberal, a related fact is that a majority of people who have above-average and genius IQs are drawn to the left side of the political spectrum. I can accept the argument from free-market proponents that intelligence doesn't necessarily equate to greater market value (i.e., in the marketplace of civic leadership); but I cannot accept the frustrated, jealous griping by those conservatives whose relative (lack of) acuity fairly requires that they be led (rather than be left to "figure things out for themselves"). I've been called "condescending" before, so it won't hurt this time. What I'm trying to work on is replacing my erstwhile "shrug" with a genuine and solution-oriented approach to our disparities. I believe that we are all equal, even though we are not all of equal intelligence. (Then there's the whole Howard Gardner thing, too.)
Example No. 3: Proposition #19. "The separation of church and state has demoralized our society." One reason for European settlement on this continent was to escape the ill effects of un-separated churches and states (and those include, I might add, examples like the Third Reich). I cannot help but suspect that the hopelessly ignorant quiz author used this question to opine about the "lack of morality" s/he feels exists because "we just don't have enough God in government." Well, the point is lost anyway, since, though there is one definition of "demoralize" that would indicate the presence of corruption, its common usage has to do with morale, not with morals. It's quite a stretch to even imagine how someone could believe that the First Amendment has disheartened society. (One would have to be a hardcore Fascist to feel that way.)
Example No. 4: Proposition #34. "Eventually, a computer will write the best novel ever written." This one seems innocent of political bias, until you realize that it targets "artsy" types who are likely to disagree, as their humanism drives their optimism. My problem with it, though, centers on the notion that such a superlative designation on so subjective a topic could ever be conferred. (I guess the contest judge would have to be a computer also, no?)
I could further destroy this little quiz, but I think I've made my point. I'm not a Socialist, and neither are many of the people who have been mis-identified by this rather juvenile "test."
October 02, 2005
I'm Married to a Socialist
The wife's score is below. Incidentally, I was sitting nearby as she took the "quiz." Her reaction to the questions was similar to mine. Almost all of the questions were apparently written by a decidedly more conservative-than-center person.
| You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test
One Step Closer, Yet Miles Away
Hi there. I'm over here posting when I should be doing something else. I'm dealing with a case of writer's block, but not with the blog content. I am constantly debating myself about the style elements I want to use on the candidate pages.
I'm also trying to think about looking for work doing web design. It's not ironic, I guess, but it is unfortunate that I am holding myself up on implementing the one published thing I could show a potential employer. How does one break into the web design world, if one has never officially, professionally designed a web page? The Candidate Pages suite seems analogous to a demo recording a musician might take to a record company.
Perhaps I will just tell an interviewer, "hey, I built my first web page using only a UNIX-based text editor, in 1996." Maybe I can talk about my recent years of becoming fairly handy with SQL. Friends and readers: any other suggestions?
Part of my trouble is that I like gizmos. I have spent too much time today playing with a side menu that will follow the user down the page as she scrolls. However, that kind of thing is useful when the page is like my Tennessee House of Representatives example. I chose not to break up the 99 districts into multiple pages. I plan to [gulp] incorporate ads (tastefully, one would hope) onto these pages, and I don't want the ads shown to only those viewing the first couple or so districts' candidate info.
All right, I've moaned enough. Back to stylin' and profilin', as the saying used to go.
Okay, I'll Do It Too
WTF? Every libertarian bone in my body creaks with this news:
| You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid
I would like to think I was closer to Jefferson than to Gandhi on this 4-person map:
(Not that there's anything shameful in exhibiting Gandhi-like qualities..)
I guess my solution is to read more Jefferson (and more George Wythe, whom, arguably, played Socrates to Jefferson's Plato).
Oh, and I suppose that the proper pronunciation of "meme" is "ME! ME!"
October 01, 2005
TFP Spreads Love Myth
Today's Metro section story about William Cotton's arrest keeps alive the impression regarding Charles Love that Tennessee's lobbyists want you to have. The story, credited to Kathleen Baydala and Candice Combs, calls Love an "unregistered lobbyist."
Lobbyists understandably want to put as much distance between themselves and Love as possible. They don't want there to be any sort of public perception that lobbyists regularly engage in handing illegal money from clients to legislators. (Heck, they don't even want you to believe that they regularly hand legal money to legislators. They're all about "research" and "issue analysis," to hear them tell it.) Lobbyist John Lyell proclaimed that Love wasn't registered, when Lyell was a surprise panelist at the Citizens Advisory Group on Ethics in Government's Chattanooga session.
There's only one problem. If you go to the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance's web page, click on "Lobbyists," then open the 2005 listing by lobbyist, you'll see on page 22 of the PDF one Charles Edward Love of Talley Road in Chattanooga. I think the TFP's confusion comes from the fact that you won't see the fake computer salvage company the FBI used in the "Tennessee Waltz" sting (E-Cycle Management) listed as one of Love's clients. In fact, the only "client" listed there is Charles Love & Associates. The simple point is that he is a registered lobbyist. I don't know of any rules that govern whether he can remain a registered lobbyist now that he is a convicted felon. From what I understand, being a lobbyist is just about as simple as saying you're one, and listing one client.
There are more problems in this story, but they aren't necessarily the fault of its writers or publishers. I'll cover them in the next post.