February 29, 2008
Who will be our next sheriff?
With no fewer than ten candidates to fill the interim spot left open by former Sheriff Billy Long's resignation, the Hamilton County Commission has struggled to locate a majority vote for any one of the contenders. It didn't help that the deal was: if you get appointed as interim, you don't run in the August special election. (Full disclosure: I support such a measure.)
It is probably best, then, to have Chief Deputy Allen Branum serve as acting head of the department until the voters decide on a replacement. I understand that the state statute uses the word "shall" in directing a county commission's actions in such an event as ours; but I'll leave the parsing to the lawyers.
Forgoing an appointment would also free up any of the ten would-be appointees to run as electoral candidates. I'm betting that Dave Alverson will run; not to mention Chief Branum. Who else? Richard Thurman is another likely candidate.
My main concerns regarding the priorities of the next Sheriff are: upkeep of the Domestic Violence Task Force, drastic reform at the Hamilton County Jail, and (even though I hate to admit this is necessary, but things are getting a little crazy) bolstering the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
Candidates bringing food to poll workers is a bad idea
People, we're trying to lessen the effects of corruption and undue influence in the election process, not open more opportunities for questions and grey areas. I have to agree with Ben Cunningham, Rep. Frank Buck, and others who find a bill that would allow candidates to bring food to election workers not only pointless, but stupidly wrong.
There are too many times already (including, it was rumored, during a certain special election last Fall) when, even though it's against the rules, candidates waltz into polling places and act far too chummy with voters. Now we want to encourage this behavior by allowing the same candidates to bring pizza to poll workers? I can't see this as a good thing.
Yes, as I wrote this week in the Pulse, something needs to be done about the situations facing election workers (and their clients, the voters). I don't think college credit is the answer; but even if that were to pass, it wouldn't be inherently bad. What is inherently bad is this idea that candidates can supply them with munchies, without anyone sensing the slightest smidgen of impropriety.
That's it: I am fortunate to enjoy a relatively generous vacation benefit from my employer. From now on, I will be using a vacation day on each election day to work the polls — so sign me up, Mr. Knowles. And I'll bring my own sandwich, thank you.
Some want to make this day all about frogs. Well, reptiles deserve attention too (and don't forget jumping spiders, cervals, and other things that leap -- including lovers).
What were you doing last Leap Day? I'll tell you where I was: with the wife, who was pregnant with the boy, having a splendid day meandering around the medieval town of St-Paul-de-Vence, France (in the hills northwest of Nice, on the Côte d'Azur). I know it was Leap Day because one of the town's many resident artists, a gifted (to my eye) painter named Joëlle Lalagüe, autographed a poster for us and dated it "29.02.04."
The view from the southern end of the ancient town, which is where Lalagüe's studio sits, is breathtaking. The cemetery (which, by the way, holds the remains of one Marc Chagall) is the foreground as one stands on the old wall. The surrounding foothills of the Maritime Alps demurely recede until one can see glimpses of the shimmering Mediterranean in the distance.
I highly recommend this region of the world, even though some parts of it can be excessively tourist-laden. There is, after all, a long list of reasons for that.
Eight years ago? I guess I was at work; I don't remember doing anything particularly amazing that Tuesday. In 1996, I was freezing in Michigan while attending grad school.
How are you celebrating Leap Day?
February 28, 2008
What if a press release was sent but no one published it? (UPDATED)
UPDATE: the below post is a hypothetical musing only. A.C. Kleinheider, PeskyFly, and Michael Silence seem to question where I was coming from, and so I felt that I should clarify for the record that of course I consider the TNGOP press release a major story. I had a funny feeling when publishing this, and apparently for good reason. Instinct is good sometimes. Anyhow: the original post follows..
I didn't receive the now-infamous press release from Tennessee Republican Party Communications Director Bill Hobbs on U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's supposed anti-Semitic connections, even though I do occasionally get releases from the party. (In fact, since they hired Bill, who is an experienced blogger, I have felt more in the loop.) But when I receive press material, I review it for accuracy/spin, relevance to my site, and so forth, and I sometimes choose to ignore it.
There are a couple of perennial candidates, whom I won't name, who practically bombard the inbox when election day draws near. That's fine; I understand why they do what they do; but I also filter at my discretion, and it all works out.
Of course, the Tennessee Republican Party is (or was) a respected institution, so it would seem that a presser from them is at least on its way toward material worthy of turning into copy (to be clear, I don't mean "copy and paste"). And, naturally, their own website would contain content they produce, even in the very unlikely event that no one else picked it up.
I know that the story here is that the press release was ever conceived, and not that it was mentioned all over the globe. But about the only thing I can add to this saga, that I haven't already read elsewhere, is wondering if editors should perhaps practice restraint in covering things that are purely and undeniably controversial (which is not a bad thing, necessarily, in and of itself) and that offer not a bit of substance in the world of ideas (which, I think, is a bad thing).
As a certain Hobbs-era blogger used to say: OK, then.
The New TennesseeTicket
I've been playing with new toys in my "spare" time, and I'm once again turning my attention to building an application that would present customizable candidate lists to visitors, as opposed to the static HTML pages that I've sort of hacked out of MovableType templates in the past. The past seven years of project methodology exposure at my day job has conditioned me to lay out a high-level overview first, and I'm just at that stage; but I'm also pretty convinced that my solution will involve PHP, MySQL, and Apache. Hence the new (free!) toys.
Then — because it was, like, super easy to install Wordpress on a local server using MAMP — I will probably wave a fond farewell to Movable Type, get my own server space [Bluehost? or someone], and install the new TT with the blog as a component of the overall site, or "inside out" from what we have had here. Times are tight, but I find hosting rates to be quite affordable.
I won't have to leave Chattablogs altogether, though, because some time back they started aggregating non-Chattablogs feeds on their main page. Cool deal. I'm nowhere near making this move, so I'm just announcing my intent in the spirit of blogging transparency.
I was telling my lunchtime friends about being quoted, and one of them asked if the magazine was William Buckley's. I said that no, Buckley's is the National Review. Later, I was looking up a TNR link to send to my friends, and the first entry on the mini-feed from The Plank was simply titled "William F. Buckley, Jr., RIP." That's how I learned of the esteemed conservative's death, and it's somehow fitting that my source was a respectful obit in a rival publication.
Stay tuned; it's going to be an eventful year.
February 26, 2008
A wet slap in the face?
I'm left sort of speechless by the whole event, myself. I just don't know where to start, so I'll refrain from editorializing. It's probably best.
Just one thing, though: "[T]he water will be delivered on Wednesday by his aide Matt Lea wearing a coonskin cap." Nope. Still choking on a torrent of expletives and unintelligible, dumbfounded utterances that have bottlenecked in my craw and rendered me silent. Maybe later.
UPDATE: I was waiting for this; and it should be noted that thoughts of high school antics accompanied my anticipation.
Headline of the week
February 24, 2008
Nader makes it official
John McCain is suddenly not the oldest candidate in the race for the White House. Ralph Nader announced on NBC's Meet the Press this morning that he is running a fourth time (yes, Tim Russert said "third," but I count 1996 as well as 2000 and 2004).
More information about the campaign can be found at www.votenader.org.
February 22, 2008
Dear TennesseeTicket, when is the next election, and on what are we voting?
I'm so glad you asked. The next election for us here in Hamilton County will be held on August 7, 2008, and will involve major party primaries and a county general election.
The lone candidate for Hamilton County Assessor of Property, Bill Bennett, will easily win re-election to another four-year term in that office.
The special election to replace Billy Long as Sheriff will include candidates chosen by each party. The Democrats plan to caucus on March 15. I don't get email from the local Republicans (and I'd like to change that). Does anyone know their plans?
Every seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives (there are 99 in all) is up for election in November. Hamilton County comprises Districts 26-30, and also shares District 31 with all of Rhea County. Although I have been collecting names of challengers all across the state, and will be posting them as soon as possible, I have heard very little about local races that might get interesting. My own state Rep, Vince Dean of East Ridge, was named among those possibly looking at the local Sheriff spot. Will he, or won't he? Who will run in the 30th if he happens to win? Anyway, the primary elections for these seats are on this August date.
Likewise, the upper house of the Tennessee General Assembly, the state Senate, is replacing roughly half of its 33 members. This time around it's the even-numbered districts' turn, which means that Sen. Andy Berke, who only became a senator this past November after Ward Crutchfield's resignation, could face an opponent in District 10. (No, it probably won't be a rematch with Oscar Brock.) I doubt that there will be a Democratic challenger in the August primary, although one should never count out wild cards (and I mean that in the nicest way) like John Wolfe and Walt Ward. What will the GOP primary look like? After Berke's resounding win last fall, don't look for them to get too serious about it.
One of the biggest questions in my mind is whether or not the Democrats, either in population-rich Hamilton County or elsewhere in the Third Congressional District, are seeking a viable candidate to run against U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, whom is most likely going to run for governor in 2010, but could squeeze in an eighth term before doing so. The rumor used to be that Ward Crutchfield liked Congressman Wamp, and thus engineered the state party's funding away from challengers. With Ward out of the picture, will this perhaps change? It would be an uphill climb for any Democrat, given the gerrymandering, but the national election trend is in their favor, and they may take some unprecedented risks because of that.
Now to the U.S Senate seat currently held by Lamar Alexander: the Democrats really can't seem to decide what to do with this one, either. Early on, it looked like Mike McWherter, son of a popular former Tennessee governor, might try for it. But he quickly backed out. Nashville attorney Bob Tuke, who recently chaired the state party, was another name floated early on. There were a couple of others, but no one officially announced until Chris Lugo, who ran as the Green Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against Bob Corker and Harold Ford, Jr., stated his intent to be the Democratic nominee in this year's race. Not too much later, others must have decided that Lugo, as a Green, was surely unfit to receive yellow-dog votes, so there are a few more names from which to choose, perhaps including, once again, Bob Tuke.
However, a healthy number of prominent Democrats are openly backing Lamar Alexander, so this lack of a unified front could spark some debate within the party as the year progresses.
On the Republican side, I've only known of one primary challenger to Alexander. That was our own Mark Albertini, who ran for governor in 2006 and for the District 10 special election last year. But notice that I said "was." Mr. Albertini got a talkin'-to by state party officials, and he hastily rescinded his primary bid.
By the way, the qualifying deadline for this next election is April 3 at noon. If you plan to run, get your papers, and get your petition signatures, because March will be here and gone before you know it. (If you're an independent like me, and wish to run in the November general election, your qualifying deadline is August 21. Don't let the Election Commission tell you otherwise; they've been known to do that, even though it was possibly an honest mistake.)
I think that's it for August, locally speaking. I'll have a look around the state at some other interesting races later on. Check back, or subscribe to this site's feed.
February 21, 2008
I shot craps with the sheriff, but I didn't remember the deputy
A couple of local officials are running away from former Sheriff Billy Long so fast, they're not even making sense.
Chief Deputy, and acting head of the department, Allen Branum, who really does sound like a nice guy by all reports, now admits that he went on a gambling trip to Tunica, MS and that Billy Long was on the same outing.
Branum must be such a nice guy that you'd forget he was in the car with you for twelve hours (round trip) — quite a feat, if you ask me. But that's exactly what Sessions Judge Ron Durby says: he doesn't remember who else was in the car when he and Billy Long went to Tunica. I think I would remember.
Back to Chief Branum, though: sure, he went gambling, but he "didn't like it." Fair enough. I did a little bit of playing in Vegas when the wife and I got hitched out there, and it quickly loses its appeal when one doesn't start with very much money (uh, I'm talking about the gambling, not the marriage, just to be perfectly clear). The rapidity with which one's hard-earned cash disappears into the slot machines or the tables can make one feel a little queasy. But it wasn't all bad.
Even more awkward is the man's attempt to make it sound like it was some kind of youthful indiscretion, when the fun was all really had inside a year ago, by all reports.
Who cares if some people went and played games of chance where it is legal so to do (as it should be everywhere, if you ask me)? That is not what Billy Long is accused of doing. He just might have had a little more in his pocket, thanks to his alleged side businesses.
If these other officials had no knowledge of, nor involvement with, the criminal behavior with which Long has been charged, then they have no reason to stammer such pitiful-sounding defenses of accompanying him on innocent trips to Tunica.
February 20, 2008
Bark at the moon
If the clouds would just hurry up and move out of the way, I'd go out and try to catch some of the lunar eclipse that's been scheduled for tonight.
I don't know who should be more insulted by this
"Ron Littlefield is the Hillary Clinton of Tennessee Valley politics." So says the Chattanooga mayor's pseudonymous nemesis, Billy Blades, in reaction to a Times Free Press article that I, by the way, have been meaning to mention since the weekend.
A couple of names have been speculated about, in terms of a viable opponent to the incumbent in next year's municipal elections, but I do not sense a groundswell of support for anyone in particular. When I met percussionist Monte Coulter at a gig he was playing a few months ago, I couldn't help but ask him if his sister (Ann Coulter) was perhaps thinking of a rematch. In no uncertain terms, he informed me that she is not.
Chattanoogans should think twice before allowing Mayor Littlefield to simply breeze into a second term, though. I do not advocate for non-serious candidates to run, but I always advocate for choice, even if I think the incumbent is doing pretty well. An officeholder should have to prove to voters why he or she is worth another round, and there is hardly a better way for such a notion to be tested than by a worthy election opponent.
But all that said, is Ron Littlefield really the "Hillary Clinton" around here?
How do you say "Yes We Can" in Hawai'ian?
"The tally totaled more than 37,000 votes....In comparison, the last caucus in 2004 had a total of nearly 4,000, which was considered a strong turnout," reports the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, via Political Wire.
Barack Obama received over seven times as many votes as the Democratic total four years ago -- and polling places had to turn voters away in some cases.
Earlier, the great state of Wisconsin (you wouldn't know it, but I come from multiple lines of Midwasterners) resounded with a hearty "Yaes We Kee-yen" as well.
February 19, 2008
A big news item today is the resignation by Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whom many undoubtedly expected to only leave office upon dying.
I wish the best for the people of Cuba, and for their close neighbors to the north, as each nation maneuvers through this time of transition.
While the thought of the island as a tourism destination certainly is tantalizing, let's make sure we look at the whole picture as we move forward. I'm not saying to rule out opening up travel by any means (after all, I want the local food just as much as anyone, though I suppose I could get it in Miami now), but I'm thinking that there are many aspects to this relationship that need to remain in broad focus.
February 14, 2008
Kathryn Bowers sentenced
Operation Tennessee Waltz added another refrain to its prison-lament coda as yet another of the perpetrators is sent away.
February 11, 2008
No You Can't
Go ahead, Republicans. Close ranks behind this.
Special to Ron Paul supporters: Barack Obama won't do everything you'd like, but he will end this war.
February 10, 2008
On to Chesapeake
Barack Obama swept the weekend, winning caucuses in Nebraska, Washington, and Maine, as well as the Louisiana primary. Oh, and don't forget the Virgin Islands.
The next primaries are in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, on Tuesday, February 12. There's no question that Obama will carry DC, and most pollsters aren't doubting Maryland's outcome either. Virginia is the big prize on Tuesday, and polls that I have seen are placing Obama with a significant lead over Hillary Clinton. However, don't forget New Hampshire.
After endorsing Obama prior to the Tennessee primary elections, I am trying to step back and take a more neutral stance on this blog, but: not only is the proverbial cat out of the bag, but it's really hard not to be danged excited about this weekend, and about two days hence as well.
Plus, Obama himself seems to be going for it, as evidenced by his sticking to a competitive speech last night in Richmond, after Clinton had given a much more unity-based talk. (It didn't help Senator Clinton that the Governor of Virginia has long ago endorsed Obama.)
It was a slight gamble for him to do so, but with the cards currently in his favor, it may well pay off.
February 09, 2008
Well, the Red State-Blue State divide may still be with us
As evidence, I give you Kansas, whose Republicans resoundingly caucused for Mike Huckabee today. FOX News is showing a 60% total for Huckabee, compared to 24% for John McCain and 11% for Ron Paul.
I'm waiting on Washington results to start showing up.
Hamilton County Democrats choose delegates
I couldn't live-blog the Hamilton County Democratic Convention today, but I wrote as if I were, then filled in the rest this afternoon. Below, then, is my account of the proceedings:
12:30 - The meeting hall is ostensibly divided down the middle, what with there being just two candidates — but so far, it is a lopsided result, as Barack Obama supporters outnumber those for Hillary Clinton by almost three to one. The Obama folks are camped out on the far side of the room, so Obama people have to stroll past the meager Hillary crowd on their way to the much larger (and still growing) oval of blue vinyl chairs designated for them.
12:45 - A man in a navy shirt marked SECURITY on the back stands ready to lock the door. The rules are quite strict about this. They make one imagine days when a faction might have found itself fighting a losing cause, and would go round up some more faithful to come in and save the day. If you aren't in the building by the 1:00 start time, tough luck. (Update: it appears that this gentleman was just providing building security, while someone else actually shut the door. But he made for a good image, so I left it.)
Local elected officials supporting Obama include County Commissioner John Allen Brooks and Board of Education member Jeffrey Wilson; those for Senator Clinton count Chairman John Bailes and State Executive Committeewoman Mary Anglin among their ranks.
12:55 - A few more Hillary supporters have arrived, but their numbers are still much smaller. I wondered if I would see any evidence of the support Clinton enjoys among Latino voters. Not so much. Most are women, and all but one are white. By contrast, the Obama side contains a much more diverse mix (still hardly any Hispanics); these are young and old, black and white, men and women.
1:05 - Party chair John Bailes starts the convention by ringing a rather clanky bell. After his pep talk, and introduction of elected officials and other dignitaries, Jeffrey Wilson says a prayer, and all stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. (In case there was any question, the Obama supporters held their hands over their hearts.)
1:15 - As large as the crowd is for Obama, they still lack the possible 60 delegates they could send to the district convention in two weeks. No question, then, that the much smaller Hillary camp has fewer than the 50 they're allowed. A paperwork snafu seems to be holding up what would potentially be a very quick process on the Obama side. Someone runs out to get the right forms, and the delegate selection resumes.
While the caucusing continues, a Clinton supporter chats with her Obama-backing friend across a row of folding tables that marks the "no man's land" between the two groups. There are no hard feelings evident anywhere in the room. Each group is enthusiastic about its preferred candidate, and all are committed to supporting one or the other in the general election.
1:45 - The only grimace I've witnessed was while someone in the Clinton group was trying to read off the names of delegates being sent to the next round, and noise from the much larger gathering across the room was making it hard to hear.
1:50 - And suddenly, it is over, as the nominations were made and the congratulatory "see you in Clinton!" — Clinton, Tennessee, that is, which is the site of the Third District convention, and a town whose name is somewhat regarded as a good omen by Hillary supporters — ring out across the room. John Bailes formally closes the meeting by ringing the bell again, but the attendees have largely dispersed.
Bailes tells me he is glad that the Democrats wait until after the primary elections to select delegates, instead of voting for the delegates on the same ballot as the candidates, as the Republicans do. He says that it is much easier to select delegates after the primary votes are in, and that the other method is fraught with unknowns. I remind him that it's his job to say that. He laughs, then invites me to cover the district convention on February 23.
By the way, there is a new blog in town, as I discovered when I spoke very briefly to the WTVC correspondent (Dan Lehr, it turns out, is his name). It's called Vote08, and was launched around the same time Fred Thompson ended his campaign for the White House. I defer to Dan's account of today's events for the final delegate totals.
Afterward, while waiting for my ride, I spoke to an Obama supporter in the parking lot. We discussed the turnout to today's convention, which I honestly would have thought to be higher. The number of delegates to come out of the next convention is much smaller: two men and two women will be selected to attend the national shindig in Denver (one of each for each candidate). Hamilton County is by far the most populous in the Third Congressional District, so its county delegates for Obama will dominate, if they so choose, the selection of their man and woman.
The local Clinton supporters aren't so lucky. While they still compete against any single county's totals, the low turnout today, coupled with the fact that Clinton won so big in rural counties, means no guarantee that those sent to Denver for Hillary Clinton will be from Hamilton County.
Do I understand the process now? Much better, but still not perfectly. If I get a chance, I'll show up at the next one and learn some more. As an unpaid blogger, I may seek out a small sponsorship for fuel and meals. Barring that, I'll just chalk it up to experience.
I'll see what I captured in photos and video, and will post anything decent.
I don't have one of those big fancy TV cameras and full production studio like Abena Williams or the other guys, so I'm still working on that.
Re-elect Dennis and Ron
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) withdrew from campaigning for president a couple of weeks ago and announced that he was "transitioning" his efforts to focus on winning re-election to represent his Cuyahoga County district.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has not withdrawn from the race, but he sent an email to supporters last night that acknowledged his rather slender chances of becoming the Republican nominee, and as well stated his intention of focusing on winning the primary election for his Galveston-area district.
Both Congressmen face opponents in the primaries. Rep. Kucinich is in a five-person race, and Rep. Paul has drawn two challengers.
I am a proponent of turnover in legislatures (within reason), but if these two fine Americans wish to continue their important roles in the House of Representatives, I see no reason to oppose them. (I have not checked out the opposition, so if you have facts to share, please do so.) Each of these men serves as a voice of conscience in his respective caucus.
While their approaches to improving the country can be quite different, I don't think one can doubt the sincerity of either. And on one extremely important point, they arrive at a similar conclusion: through Dr. Paul's thoughts on non-interventionist foreign policy, and through Rep. Kucinich's call for a cabinet-level office to promote it, both individuals advance the cause of Peace.
And so, while neither one is likely to ever be President, we should thank both for running, because their ideas — that some deride as "fringe" though, on the grand scale, they are merely shifted by a little from an otherwise homogeneous glob — are thus lifted from relative obscurity (because of our TV habits and attention spans, to be clear) and into some light.
February 08, 2008
Hats Off to (George) Parker!
In the evening, on April 23, 2008, Chattanoogans will have the opportunity to witness one of the least expected yet most appropriate musical collaborations in recent history.
Allison Krauss, who not too long ago graced the stage of Memorial Auditorium with Jerry Douglas and Tony Rice (marking the umpteenth time I've missed a chance to see Tony Rice live), is on tour this Spring with legendary Led Zeppelin frontman (and solo artist in his own right) Robert Plant.
The two are promoting their album Raising Sand, which is the latest by producer T-Bone Burnett.
Let me take you to the movies, but on a different day. I want to see you at the show. (Full disclosure: I won't be able to go.) Robert Plant in Chattanooga. That's the way it ought'a be.
Tastes just like Chick...anooga
After reading this post by Southern Beale, I couldn't help wondering if Chattanooga was headed for (or perhaps already in) a similar real estate predicament.
What do you think? Are condos outnumbering sensible buyers yet? (Include Stringer's Ridge and yet-undeveloped North Shore locales in your answer.)
Dissecting the delegate selection process
I'm off to the Hamilton County Democratic Party's convention tomorrow, to bring you an inside look at the first round of national delegate selection.
The County Convention is the first step in a two-step process for selecting delegates to the Democratic National Convention. At this meeting, delegates will be elected to attend the Congressional District Conventions on Feb. 23.
Delegates will be apportioned to each Democratic presidential candidate based on their performance in the Feb. 5, Presidential Preference Primary.
I'm sure I'm in for an education; I'm a little confused right now about how it works, so any information is bound to help me.
It should be a fun afternoon.
Quote on the border/water war
[Georgia] can't just sit on the information [that the border was incorrectly drawn] until there's something about the property that makes it worth taking. If they decided the territory along the border wasn't worth fighting for before[,] they can't change their minds now.
-- Pete Johnson
Also, see today's Times Free Press.
The dark side of open government
Please don't misunderstand me. I am 100% for transparency and public involvement in government, from the local to the supranational.*
But a tragic story out of Kirkwood, Missouri illustrates that there is often a tradeoff involved. The problem isn't usually this severe, but I think we have all seen or known of citizens who attend council and commission meetings on a regular basis, and seem to tie up the public's business with a lot of noise -- most of it whining about how they are being unfairly treated in some way. It is right to grant these citizens the opportunity to address their representatives, of course. But how do we deal with the disruptiveness caused by the worst offenders without damaging our precious freedom?
And what do we do when the possibility exists that a session that is by definition open to the general public puts that public in extreme danger because of an individual bent on violence? The U.S. Capitol shootings of a few years back are another example, and there have been plenty of others.
This is all on some sort of scale, too. There are plenty of grey areas wherein one could be seen as complaining unnecessarily or "fighting the power structure," depending on viewpoint, background, experience....
Newscoma has some personal thoughts, based on experience.
*Hey, crazies. I'm talking about the EU, not the UN, nor anything that I am suggesting that the United States would ever be a part of. Unless, you know, we all change our minds.
February 07, 2008
Ode to a deceased cherrypicker
This post by Tennessee Jed is worth a read.
A letter to the editor contains a telling misspelling: while discussing the case of Hamilton County's recently-made-former sheriff, writer Andy Whitwell soberly reminds us that law enforcement departments are treated to too little inspection by the public, and that as a result, corruption is allowed to fester. I could not but smile at this part, though:
Perhaps it is because we have created a monster by not understanding the negative effects on a person of giving them a gun, a badge, and unlimited authority as well as blind trust.
Nationwide it has become evident that for the good of the department and society as well, we should keep a more vigilante eye on their behavior. You can do an officer no greater injustice than to turn him loose on society with absolutely no oversight.
I can just see it now: neighborhood posses taking the law into their own hands, going after no-good cops.
Mitt Romney to suspend campaign
Oh the water is wide — just not wide enough
I received a press release from the Tennessee Republican Party yesterday evening that brings up a very delicate issue.
The state GOP is reacting to legislation filed recently in Georgia that seeks to alter, correct, or restore (depending on one's point of view), the border between Georgia and Tennessee.
Here's the problem: The border was established in 1818, and was agreed upon at the 35th parallel. But anyone who possesses the right technology can clearly see that the border, as it is enforced, is not exactly on the 35th parallel. It's close — probably less than a mile — but it's just not right on the latitudinal line.
So, do East Ridge, St. Elmo, and the north end of Lookout Mountain really belong in Georgia? Well, maybe, but that's apparently not that big an issue.
At issue is the stretch of border along the south end of Marion County. Forget Hamilton, or Bradley, or Polk, or points west of Marion. It's all about Marion.
Why Marion County? Because the Tennessee River (aka Nickajack Lake), just north (east, really) of Nickajack Dam, bends ever-so-briefly southward over the 35th parallel and back. And, if the border between Tennessee and Georgia were (enforced) on the 35th parallel, that would mean that Georgia would have legal access to pump water out of the river and straight down to that giant siphon known as Atlanta. (Alabama, if I'm looking at my map right, would also have a claim in play here; but Alabama is currently not as thirsty. UPDATE: And, duh, Alabama can just get it downstream a ways. I guess my lobotomy went well.)
Those grey lines in the image capture from Google Earth™ (which is not, I know, a legal document) represent the state borders. The vertical line separates Alabama on the left from Georgia on the right. The horizontal line, which is also the 35th parallel, represents the border between each of those states and Tennessee.
While it is true that Governor Phil Bredesen hasn't issued a statement (to date) on the legislation that was filed this week, the Republican spokesman seems to be implying that Bredesen has been silent altogether on the issue, which is not the case. The governor has spoken out about not sending Tennessee's natural resources across state lines. To be fair, the state line wasn't in question (directly) at the time, so the assumption in Bredesen's remarks was that the resources exclusively belong to Tennessee.
This could get really interesting.
February 06, 2008
The day after Super is doomed to being…less than Super
I try not to get too excited about things, even when I'm having a great time. Soon enough, it will be over, and then a wave of dejectedness at the mundane washes over me like so much Tennessee River water. But you're not here to hear about that.
First of all, I want to extend a heartfelt comforting word to the families of the victims of last night's storms, even though it's hard to determine what word(s) would suffice. Just know that the rest of us are thinking of you.
Now, to the elections.
Let's start small. In District 6 of the Chattanooga City Council, Carol Berz won with just under 30% of the vote. Plurality elections are interesting, because a runoff between Berz and her closest runner-up, Melinda Hickey, might have shown how loyalties really lined up. I could be wrong, but it felt like Mrs. Hickey and Julie Chamberlain pretty evenly split a similar bloc of voters. (Never mind that Chamberlain, who came in third, was Marti Rutherford's opponent in 2005.) I think Carol Berz still would have won, as the Kelley vote and at least some of the Shaw support would have gone to her. If there had been a runoff (or if we had some type of ranked-voting system, imagine that), I could have been proven right — or wrong.
Congratulations are due Dr. Berz, and I look forward to working with her as she takes office. In the January 24 forum, she said that, if elected, she would run again in the 2009 city elections (as did each of the other candidates).
Also, I think I'll miss Mike Feely. I didn't agree with every one of his positions during the brief interim, but I think he did a great job, and is a natural community leader.
Next up is the Hamilton County Assessor of Property — or perhaps it would be better to call the position "Property Tax Arbiter for Life." Regardless of my opinion that this is one of many that shouldn't be partisan, it is held by a Republican, and no Democrats filed in the primary. It won't be official until after the August election, but since Bill Bennett was the only name on any ballot, it's a really safe bet that he'll be Assessor of Property for another four years.
Okay, someone else will have to write about the GOP delegate races. I'm really too tired.
Now to the Presidential Preference Primary, or, for some voters, the "mourn the loss of Fred and throw a dart between McCain and Romney" contest. When I briefly chatted with a couple of young voters outside the Northgate early voting location, I tried to (privately) guess which candidate they had chosen. I think I was right: Mike Huckabee won the county, and the state, and a whole slew of Southern Baptist-dominated states. (Hat tip: terribly sorry, but I forget.)
Barack Obama won Hamilton County, and Davidson, and Shelby; and came within striking distance in Knox; but he did so poorly in rural counties (and other larger ones, such as Sullivan) that Senator Clinton was able to more than make up for it. Adam Groves points to suggestions that the severe weather in Memphis may have contributed to Obama's Tennessee woes as well, as some polling places were forced to close early.
But all in all, I (as a fully disclosed Obama supporter) am pleased with most of yesterday's results. There are enough indications that he is on a trajectory toward victory to satisfy me for now. Brendan Loy explains some of them.
I may have more to say later; stay tuned. And thanks for voting!
February 05, 2008
Obama handily beats Clinton in Hamilton County; rural vote way different
Unlike Hamblen County, where Hillary Clinton cleaned up, Barack Obama has 52.72% of the vote, to Hillary Clinton's 42.98%, in Hamilton County (with 89% of precincts reporting).
Also, in Hawkins County: Clinton 74%, Obama 17%.
Why would rural Tennessee Democrats go for a Clinton, of all people, over the awe-inspiring Barack Obama? What is the cause of such a disparity between the hinterlands and even just a moderately more urban area?
Leaves me scratching my head in wonder, I tell ya.
I'm calling District 6 for Carol Berz
20:53 - The election commission page seems stuck. I've read all their instructions about browser cache, and haven't seen this problem before. I guess I'm just impatient.
I wasn't able to attend either the Carol Berz event or the combined candidate event hosted by rival Julie Chamberlain, so I'm watching returns at home. I'm not on local TV, but MSNBC, so I'm dependent on the web for local results.
It's almost 9:00, people.
UPDATE 21:10 - I'm calling this race for Carol Berz. Man, I wish my car's taillights hadn't gone out; a margarita at Los Compadres sounds pretty nice.
Starting them young
Not only did our three-year-old go with us to vote this morning, and not only did the election worker allow him to put his mom's ballot into the scanner, but at lunchtime the boy joined us at a busy Chattanooga intersection (he stayed well removed from the curb, of course) as all of us wore our official campaign apparel and enthusiastically waved at passing motorists as we held up our signs.
It was one of the best family activities in which we've ever participated.
The polls are open
Get thee to them, and cast.
February 04, 2008
Another round of Albertini
Former Tennessee gubernatorial and state Senate candidate Mark Albertini is running for office in 2008 — this time for the United States Senate seat currently held by Lamar Alexander.
Albertini, a Republican, will challenge Sen. Alexander, who is seeking re-election, in the GOP primary on August 7.
Mark Albertini is a Chattanooga business owner and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. His campaign website is www.MarkAlbertiniforUSSenate.com.
February 03, 2008
Huckabee=Roy Moore surrogate?
If you're a Chattanoogan, or a Tennessean, for that matter, and you haven't voted early, you must read smijer's post on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee before you do anything rash.
At the very least, read it and find a way to factually refute it. I don't care. I'm for Barack Obama (with a shout-out to Ron Paul in the GOP primary). I was just blown away by this perspective on Huckabee, since I have previously sort of liked him.* His craziness about changing the Constitution of the United States of America so that it fits some kind of fundie agenda was my first clue, however.
*As a guitarist, I'm admittedly soft on bass players and drummers.
Sheriff resignation likely, would mean another special election in Hamilton County
And that would be three, y'all, in less than a year. The election to replace Ward Crutchfield was held in November 2007. The election to replace Marti Rutherford is the day after tomorrow. A special election to replace Sheriff Billy Long would be in August of this year. Are we trying to compete with Knox County or something? Where's our New York Times write-up?
I'm troubled, too, at the seeming suddenness of this story. Mr. Long has had a career in law enforcement for decades. The FBI affidavit used in his initial hearing mentioned a cooperating witness with whom the sheriff appeared to be quite familiar. You can't tell me that Billy Long suddenly became this corrupt after less than two years at his current job, nor that he acted alone. Sadly, there has to be more to this story. I just don't see any way around that.
I hope I'm wrong, and that public trust will quickly be restored. I'm almost "over the hill," though, and so I'm getting to that point where one starts to use ancient phrases about turnip trucks and so forth.
Based on totally off-the-record conversations I've had, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there have been all kinds of shenanigans in the past, and that Long either let newfound power make him careless, or that he got suck[er]ed into ongoing schemes once he became chief.
I guess we'll see.
This is too funny to pass up
In today's Chattanooga paper, Metro section, in the "Reporter's Notebook" section (that, by the way, I consider a weekly must-read), we find this:
…Sheriff Billy Long has agreed to take some Hamilton County students to the county jail to show them what happens to adults who commit crimes.
He said he'd, uh, meet them there.
February 02, 2008
"Yes We Can" the song
UPDATE: Welcome, citizens of Brazil, Italy, and everywhere else in the world coming to this page. Obrigado e grazie.
BIG NEWS: Sheriff Long arrested on bribery charges
Just great. That's just great. Oh, the headline fun we'll have with "Long arm of the law."
More to come, I'm certain.
Ask Dr. Paul
WDEF's Joe Legge will be interviewing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul for a piece that will air on Tuesday, February 5.
He asks for your input into what questions will be asked of the candidate. There are a couple of good comments over there already; and there are also some really bad ones.
Legge also posted that Mike Huckabee will be campaigning in Chattanooga on Monday morning at the downtown Convention Center.
John McCain is in Nashville today. Tennessee is suddenly getting some of that attention we sought by moving up our primary.
February 01, 2008
Nader here nor there
A lot of news has escaped without receiving the TennesseeTicket touch™ but I am sure you're aware that Ralph Nader appears to be planning another run for the presidency.
A question in front of many (besides "why?") is whether he will run as a Green, as he did in 1996 and 2000; or as an independent/Reform Party candidate, as he did in 2004.
So far, it looks like he may be back to courting the Green Party, as he will debate former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with several others who are seeking the Green Party's nomination, on Sunday in San Francisco. (HT: 3PW)
Another Independent for Obama
I've even, as they say, bought the T-shirt. I am solidly endorsing U.S. Senator Barack Obama, not just in his quest for the Democratic nomination, but in hopes that he will be the next President of the United States.
As I am a politically independent, educated, (somewhat lower-) middle-class white male in the South, I'm not sure a statistician would have been able to peg my decision. Tough. I relish being an outrider.
So, what brought me to my conclusion? It is at once a simple and a complicated path. But in a nutshell, it is not so much about policy initiatives or issue positions as it is about a new way of actually doing the process of electing a national leader. This new method could, if successful, filter down to legislative and local races as well.
This election cycle gives us the chance to think beyond the terms of "crushing the opposition" or "crafting a razor-thin edge through technology-enhanced targeting." It is about bringing people together, rather than dividing them. (And yes, I know we heard about that in 2000, and we saw what happened. But, I say, consider the source.)
Barack Obama gets my support because
he is gifted. As a friend of mine always says, I want the President to be smarter than I am. You don't get to be president of the Harvard Law Review without a top-notch brain that's capable of some amazingly rapid critical thinking.
Barack Obama gets my support because he transcends the old divides between black and white Americans, and in some interesting ways. He is "bi-racial" himself (dislike that word; we're all friggin' human), but he has largely avoided the subject of race (until forced into it somewhat by the opposition). On the other hand, the fact that he is, after all, a black man, causes his viable candidacy to represent a transformational amount of hope for African-Americans, most especially those that are young. It is thrilling to imagine that in electing this person to the highest office, we could see centuries' worth of animosity and despair start to melt. (Note: I do recognize the similar potential embodied by Sen. Hillary Clinton, and former candidate Gov. Bill Richardson, but if I had to point to a single demographic who would be the most uplifted and is in the most need of it, I'd have to respectfully ask that women, and Hispanics, join me in recognizing African-Americans here. The other Americans I can think of are those of native ancestry; there's a lot of hope to rebuild there as well.)
Barack Obama gets my support because he humbly and openly admits to shortcomings. This is huge. People who pretend that they have no regrets at all (I'm looking at you, George W. Bush; and somewhat at Sen. Clinton) are immediately suspect. There are certainly times to be The Deci...sive leader; and there are times when, as Obama suggested in the most recent public debate, a well-selected set of advisers will point out that he is wrong on something. And he promises to listen.
Barack Obama gets my support because of the wisdom he has attained despite his relative youth. Sure, the cry "lack of experience" is raised. But as another good friend points out, what good are years of experience when the wrong actions have been taken? A contrasting virtue is judgement; again, that usually takes some time to build, but Barack Obama has clearly demonstrated an ability to exercise keen insight.
Barack Obama gets my support because of the way the rest of the world (at least, those whose opinions I have encountered) would view his election. It is not only the most recent administration's fault (though they do get the lion's share of blame) that the United States of America has lost a depressing amount of good faith among its global neighbors. An Obama presidency portends a real chance at returning much of our former standing. And no, it's not just about being liked; it's about being trusted.
But most importantly, even as much as I admire the guy and his impressive biography, I support Barack Obama not for who he is, but for who all of us can be if we allow ourselves to meet the challenges his campaign issues. He is merely the catalyst in a monumental wave of new civic involvement. That, in itself, is reason enough to give this candidate a second look. I just happen to like a lot of what I see after looking.
So, there it is. I could write more, but I'm amazed that you've stayed with me this far. I join other unaffiliated voters, like the folks behind IndependentVoice.org and like 1980 presidential candidate John Anderson, in signing on with this Democrat as representing our best chance. I admire and respect other candidates: Ron Paul speaks a message I want to be heard, and I just downright like John McCain, even when he is wrong. But I have to vote for one person, and that person will be Barack Obama.
See you at the polls on Tuesday.