In Which I Make Like a Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist

I’m going to admit, I’ve given up on reading any threads at Pith or at Post Politics in which Heatseeker, Harrison, Morpheus, Dr. Jellyfinger, etc. participate, because usually by about four comments in, I can no longer understand what the hell they’re saying.  Chimpanistas, Captain Queequeg (am I missing something?  I have to be one of only 4 people in the world who’ve actually read Moby Dick and I don’t remember Queequeg ever being made captain.  Is this some inside reference to gay orgies?  Is Chip Forrester wearing a whale foreskin as a raincoat?  Just what exactly is the accusation here?  And how can someone who makes obscure literary references to insult Forrester dare turn around and call Forrester an elitist?), etc. etc. etc.  Every time it seems like a conversation might get going that has some substance and where people can ask questions and mull things over and hash things out, one of them shows up to start ranting at the commenters in their half-made-up language.  See what happened in the comments in Laura Creekmore’s post the other day as an example or this thread at Pith.

It’s like the second there’s any chance of people talking reasonably and disagreeing but trying to understand what’s going on, you can count on somebody to show up to start derailing the conversation.

I’m starting to wonder if it’s not on purpose.

I was thinking about our discussion the other day about what happened with the Music Row Democrats and how it certainly seemed like they should have been poised to bring some new ideas and new excitement to the Tennessee Democrats in general and how quickly they disappeared and how the rumors I’d heard was that it was made clear to them that their active participation in the party was unwelcome.

And here is my question.  Is it not clear to anyone who finds themselves having to try to detangle the nonsense surrounding the online discussion of the TNDP so as to stick to the hard discussions about who and what we are as a party that some people’s purpose (whether self-directed or not) is to make active participation impossible?  Could it be any clearer that we are not welcome to have these discussions?

All I have to say about the whole thing is this–Tennessee Democrats better hope that these guys are just independent assholes, because if they are not, then we have deeper problems than I think any of us know what to do about.

18 thoughts on “In Which I Make Like a Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist

  1. Wonder no longer – it is on purpose.

    And ACK is providing them with the invaluable service of aggregating posts about such controversy so they don’t have to follow you on a daily basis. Ergo, you can be sure that after the next PP refresh, you can expect some traffic of your own from Chips Ahoy, Chippy McChipperson, Sun Chips, Chippendale, Chipboard, Poker Chips, Cow Chips, Chip On My Shoulder, Blue Chip Stock, Tater Chip, and Microchip.

  2. Oh, my. After reading some of those comments and recognizing the writing of at least one of them, I think it’s safe to say that some of them are indeed assholes, but not independent ones. They’re assholes with 24/7 access to Bredesen’s office. And they Don’t. Tolerate. Dissension. At All.

    Which doesn’t necessarily mean the Gubnor agrees with them, but as I have expressed before, if those are the sort of folks with whom one surrounds one’s self, the voters will begin to assume that one holds similar views.

    In other words, B, once again, I think you’re spot-on in your observation. Shrieking “these are not the droids you’re looking for” at any attempt at a legitimate conversation about the future of the TDP seems to be the goal of these folks, and it’s highly frustrating.

  3. Oh, and as near as I can translate, this is what the Sock Puppet Chorus is saying (with minor variations on the theme, and differing sprinkles of invective, accusations of stupidity, etc):


  4. I hope this isn’t a derailment of my own. But I have to say that it occurred to me over the weekend (after figuring out whether I could afford to attend the umpteenth benefit for a musician/musician’s dependent this year, preparing to mourn my next dying musician friend whose friends are trying to collect money for some of the medical bills he’s going to leave behind, etc., etc), that one reason a lot of the actual musical part of MRD isn’t more involved in things is that health care and its associated costs are so sucky in TN that they’re all too busy just trying to pay for it (mostly when it’s too late to help) that there’s no time for the sort of activism that might change things.

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  6. Thanks, B – you’re completely on-target. I hope this doesn’t count as a derailment, but is there any hope of finding someone else to assume the chairmanship who could – Heaven forfend! – de-polarize this insane, suicidal fight? The stuff the GOP is doing in the statehouse is really, really scary. Redistricting is almost upon us. Can we please let some cooler heads prevail so we don’t end up living in a Banana Republic?

  7. I’m honestly not sure that it necessarily matters who might be or become the chairman if the folks in the other contingency take a change of chair as an indication that they’ve “won.” My position is that the problems with the Democrats run deep and there’s more than enough blame to go around. Change is going to come one way or another, but it’s going to be a lot harder for us to live with and make it through if if folks refuse to be honest about the problems we have and their part in continuing them.

    I mean, I feel like some folks feel like the problem is just that there’s been this Forrester problem and the bloggers won’t toe the line, but that, if those two minor rebellions can be put down and everyone brought back into formation, the Democrats can just do what they’ve always done. But, I, for one, find the insinuation that we should all just shut up and listen to our leaders and do what they say to be antithetical to the Democratic party.

    And bad. I guess I should be clear about that. Blindly following leaders who think they deserve to be followed just because they’re used to being followed is bad.

  8. AuntB, I find it interesting that you attack those of us that criticize Chip, but you say nothing about those that troll in support of him. Ben Vos, to whom I responded on the other blog, travels from thread to thread posting lies about our governor and our congressmen. Ben Vos has not the slightest clue about the efforts that our governor and congressmen have put into building the Democratic Party and to electing Democrats to office. I defy Ben Vos to tell me exactly how much money these men have raised and contributed to the TNDP and its candidates.

    As for Left Wing Cracker, he travels around spewing foul mouthed invective at anyone that does not subscribe to his view of the world.

    I care about the Tennessee Democratic Party, and I am attempting to draw attention to the shambles in which it finds itself in the hopes of rebuilding it. Ben Vos and Left Wing Cracker hope only to shout me and others down.

    I will repeat, as I have reported elsewhere, that the situation is so bad at the TNDP HQ that volunteers are upset because Chip Forrester goes on angry tirades in the office, claiming he will find primary opponents to run against Bart Gordon, Lincoln Davis, and Jim Cooper. Volunteers also report that Chip spends most of his days locked behind his office door, obsessing over blog comments.

    Is this the future of the TNDP?

    I am more than happy to discuss this, and more than happy to do my part to rebuild TNDP. However, I will not sit silently by while Ben Vos and other minions of Chip spread lies and attempt to lay blame for their failures at the feet of others.

  9. By the way, AuntB, I agree with you that blind loyalty to any leader is bad. The followers of Chip routinely scream that we should be quiet and blindly follow him as the leader of the party. I did not do that for Gray Sasser, Doug Horne, or Dick Lodge. I will not do that for Chip Forrester.

    And what exactly would we be following? Chip has been chairman for over two months. Can anyone tell me one thing for which he stands? In fact, the mainstream media ridicules him for being spineless, for refusing to weigh in on issues of real important.

    I say this with no joy, AuntB, there is a total leadership void at the TNDP right now.

  10. I don’t criticize Ben or Steve (and I haven’t until y’all started babbling like twins with your own language felt any need to criticize y’all) because I assume my readers aren’t morons.

    Let me repeat that. I assume my readers aren’t morons.

    And believe me, there is not a person alive today who doesn’t have some sense that you guys think the “chimpanistas” are in the bag for Forrester. Because you say it all the god damn time. Okay, we all fucking get it. You think that some bloggers are in the bag for Chip and nothing is going to convince you otherwise.

    We get it.

    So, okay, you’ve gotten your point across. You are the first people in the history of the internet to figure out and point out that people have their biases.

    But you know what? “Chip Forrester sucks” is not a solution. Even getting rid of Forrester, at this point, doesn’t look like much of a solution to me. What masochistic idiot would take the job after this?

    So, god damn, I would love to have a hard discussion about the state Democrats. And, frankly, I would love to have it with you guys involved, because if the guesses going around about who y’all are are right, you are important people to have involved.

    But you know what? If I were sitting down talking religion with Jesus Christ himself and every other thing out of his mouth was about how much some bloggers sucked? I’d stop bothering.

    And again, if you all are who you seem to be (and Pith is wrong about me thinking that you’re Republicans. That’s not the case at all. I’m sure all but one of you are Democrats.), I believe that you’re smart enough to know that.

    Okay, I’m ranting. But here’s my point. What y’all do online ends discussions, except among yourself. It makes other people who don’t like conflict for the sake of conflict–like the Laura Creekmores of Tennessee–less likely to participate or even read.

    And we Democrats need those folks to participate if we want to change things.

    If some people are acting in ways that keep people from participating, then I assume it’s because they don’t want to change things.

    And, if they don’t want to change things, then we have problems. Serious problems.

    I’m just arguing that we all try to have that conversation, without the shenanigans, before the moment is lost.

  11. The thing about the Chipinista Whisperer is this – I’m not sure all these alteregos are more than one guy. Why wouldn’t we believe he’s on someone’s payroll? He certainly has a lot of time to sit and cut and paste the same talking points all day every day, and it’d be a decently cost-effective move for one of the electeds who’s invested in getting rid of Forrester.

    I think he’s a Republican, frankly, because of the lame sense of humor you usually see out of conservatives who find the most milquetoast items hilarious. Whoever Mr. Sockpuppet is, he’s obviously really pleased with himself for coining this “chipinista” epithet.

    And it wouldn’t surprise me to find a Republican on the Dem payroll because Tennessee Democratic elders have in every, way shape and form embraced Republicanism as a school of thought and as a movement to be emulated. Why on earth is anyone actually surprised when TNDP recruits actual, real live Republicans to hold Party offices and to run for state office – in the form of Freeman and in Ward Cammack, the front runner for Senate in 2010? This is the same Party that’s thrown every Democratic ideal under the bus in the name of political expediency. So far I count gays, union folks, women, and young people and blacks, if you want to think about who’s not represented on the Executive Committee, in delegates to the Dem conventions, or by any other measure as far as personnel or legislation being promoted by the Party these days.

    According to the blogosphere of late, Phil Bredesen is our Party standard-bearer – and he’s openly taken money from and courted Republicans in the press, as well as appearing at an event with Kent Williams back in 2006, when he presented a big check and stood with him at a conference with reporters – and we’re surprised when Republicans take over? This after Bredesen openly mocked volunteers working for both Kerry and Obama in the press. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think Bredesen is the worst governor in the history of the state, by a long shot. But as far as leaving a legacy in the form of a vibrant, potent political party? He gets a C minus. At best.

    [The reality is he’s actually a Republican, who didn’t want to compete in one of the crowded GOP primaries for office. The pack is thinner and easier to beat on the Democratic side of the fence, particularly if you don’t have a record to defend and you’re starting your career out in a nonpartisan slot like ‘mayoral candidate,’ anyway.]

    Dems are now reaping what’s taken a long time to sow in Tennessee. I can understand why some are defending the incumbents, but frankly you don’t sell a product you can’t brand – and once redistricting takes place, I wonder if the tried-and-true Tennessee Democrat fashion of borrowing campaign platforms from Republicans is going to work for much longer.

    I think what happened to the Music Row Dems is just a microcosm of a lot of people having been told their services aren’t wanted or needed, by the elders who’ve “always done things this way” and who are deeply invested in maintaining the status quo, as far as their level of personal power goes, anyway.

    The writing was on the wall once Tennessee lost the 2000 election for Al Gore. Unfortunately Dems didn’t learn from that mistake. One wonders what it’s going to take to make them wake up and smell the Ovaltine of real change – not just this wallpapering-over lip service they’ve been offering so far.

    [p.s. there’s more – the change is going to have to come at the level of the state Executive Committee – I propose term limits for its members as just one possible solution, for starters – and at some point Dems are going to have to embrace the idea of Constitutional officers. How on earth else are you going to recruit and promote candidates for statewide office, particularly when you’re not bothering to have, oh, the statewide Dem convention that red-turned-blue states like Virginia and North Carolina convene every year?]

  12. Errata, because I wrote this before I had my customary 50 cups of joe:

    * Clearly Ward Cammack is the candidate for Governor, and not Senate in 2010;

    * When I spoke about various consistuencies being thrown under the bus, I didn’t make myself clear. What I mean is this: in the national Democratic Party, you find ideas like ‘not oppressing people’s civil rights’ and ‘allowing folks access to a living wage and health care.” Here in Tennessee, Dem officeholders not only supported, but outright grandstanded on the gay marriage Constitutional amendment; just lately a passel of Democrats voted for SJ127, a slap in the face to woman Democrats who expect state parties to hew to the national Dem platform, which clearly and strongly spells out “pro-choice”…Neither of these ideas makes me personally feel that TN Dems care an iota about protecting personal freedoms.

    Additionally, Bredesen appointed as his labor commissioner one Jim Neely, who proceeded to turn around and walk all over the union folk that had bent over backwards to help ol’ Breddy in 2002, in the form of workman’s comp ‘reform’.

    Young people, blacks and women are vastly underrepresented in the ranks of Party officials and of those holding office. I can’t think of anyone under 40 on the state E.C., [except for those who serve by dint of status in the Young Democrats], or holding elected office. A tiny percentage of those elected delegate to the Convention in 2008 were under 40, despite their disproportionate numbers helping both Clinton and Obama. [The Party does have quotas for male vs. female and black vs. white, by district – this is mandated by the national Democratic Party.]

    Women are a paltry 18% of our state House and Senate, ranking TN in the bottom percentile of states on this issue; we’ve never had a woman Senator or Governor; Dems have elected only one woman to Congress in the last 70 years and have had only one female state Chair. Ever. Don’t get me started on the Kurita issue.

    These figures are unacceptable.

  13. Ben Vos has not the slightest clue about the efforts that our governor and congressmen have put into building the Democratic Party and to electing Democrats to office.

    How about seeing some benefit of all that hard work right here at home?

    For those alleged efforts, there has been no net gain in US Senate seats, no net gain in US House seats, net losses in the state house and senate, the party was in hock as Sasser bolted for the door on the heels of a contentious presidential primary + a ludicrous, post-primary act of partisan cannibalism, and the bench for 2010 currently consists of one guy – Ward Cammack – who’s probably going to have to pull back the money he normally doles out for R candidates so he can self-fund against the E TN Haslam oligarchy.

    I mean, fine, great. Efforts have been made. I would dearly love to see the evidence. Show me what we have to show for those efforts other than the Bredesen re-election 3 years ago. “Show me da money.”

    Bredesen has been on the record as saying that he believes that Obama is hurting him* here at home – meanwhile, states like NC, IN, KY, and VA have had net gains and/or have flipped in the presidential column. So we’re sinking as many of our neighbors are rising, and that’s supposed to be whose fault? Chip Forrester’s? Uh-huh. That may be politically expedient, depending to whose loyalties you are bound, but it isn’t anywhere near honest.

    Something is fundamentally wrong, and yeah, Forrester is probably FUBAR from the word go. Can he fix it? Doubt it. Not in time to make any difference. And I’ll say this much: if Bredesen is focusing his efforts and what little time he has left to make an impact to foment this little proxy war on the web, he’s a bigger dolt than I thought he was. And I already thought he was a pretty substantial dolt. He’s a moderately competent technocrat, but he’s got the political instincts of a mop handle. Yes, sure, great, efforts – whatever. How about some results, other than the 2006 re-election? Anything?

    So let’s suppose what happens – you collect the scalps of Forrester and like a half dozen EC members if you’re so lucky. Most of them have been in office since McWherter (knowing a few of their ages, some owe their allegiance to Frank Clement). You replace them with… whom? Loyalists to the lame duck administration? Good luck with that.

    * And he has the temerity to whine about it when he gets passed up for high-visibility, Schedule A patronage positions. Shocker!

  14. Oh, YEAH, Andy.

    Speaking of McWherter, I’d love to know what he thinks of this foolishness. Or did he give it up for Lent to help his stress levels? I wouldn’t blame him.


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