The Story of the Big Bad Governor v. the Little Bloggers

I was going to spend a bunch of time trying to find out the TRUTH about things, you know the actual facts.  But I’m not a journalist; I’m a blogger.  So, when I write Lydia Lenker, it’s not like she drops everything to write me back.  And I don’t have secret friends in the government and, as much as I like you guys, I’m not going to go out of my way to befriend muckity-mucks so that we can talk about them with knowledge.

And, I realize, to understand what’s going on with the Tennessee Democrats right now, it’s not actually paramount to know the facts.  What’s important is to know the story.  Because, at this point, it doesn’t matter what the facts are.  What matters is who gets to tell the story their way in the end.

So, I’m going to tell you the story the way I understand it, my way.

And it goes like this.

Once upon a time, the State Democrats were a mess.  You had corruption and people fucking lobbyists and people drunkenly behaving like hooligans and folks taking bribes and other folks pretending to be Republicans and so on and so on.  Everyone knew Democrats they liked, but the party as a whole and the politicians who made it up as a whole seemed to leave a lot to be desired.  They were too liberal for conservatives, too conservative for liberals, and most importantly, they seemed to be in it only for themselves, even to the point of behaving like miscreants.

Would any Democrat put the good of the people of the State of Tennessee ahead of his or her own political ambitions?  Would anyone be willing to stand up and say, “We can’t go on like we are.  Things have to change.”?  It seemed like Rosalind Kurita was that person.

And what happened to her?

She got turned on.  To put it mildly.

Maybe there were good political reasons why that had to be done, but from the outside, from where I was sitting, in the cheap seats, it looked to me and to a bunch of other folks like the Democrats got rid of Kurita because most of them had no intention of getting off the party barge.

So, it became obvious that the Democrats were not going to reform from within.  They wanted things to remain as they were.  So, what were the voters of Tennessee supposed to do?  If the Democrats weren’t going to clean up their own acts, their acts would have to be cleaned up.

And then Obama ran for President.  And again, the signal from the broader nation was that voters want Democrats who are willing to talk frankly about our troubles and who inspire confidence that they will bring a new vision to Washington*.  Our Democrats, though, insisted that Tennessee wasn’t ready for change; they were ready for things to go how they’d always gone.  In fact, Obama didn’t know anything about “real” Americans; he needed to go to Wal-mart (a place our Governor probably only goes for photo ops).  In fact, Obama shouldn’t even show up in Tennessee.  How could he win?  He’s black!!!!!!!!

Yes, when the Democrats lost and were casting around for reasons why they lost, their excuse was “Well, Tennessee is just too racist to vote for anyone on the same ticket as a black man.”

No, it wasn’t that they were behaving like an army of mini-Walmart-photo-opping Caligulas.  It was that we are just so damn racist.  Even the Democrats.

Yes, America, when the chips were down, the Democrats blamed the voters.  One wonders, if this were true, why you’d want to represent a bunch of unrepentant, irredeemable racists.  I mean, I’ve loved me some white folks so deep it sometimes still catches in my throat to say their names; that doesn’t inspire me to run for Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  And to hear the Democrats talk, that’s practically the burden they’re under.

But anyway, late last year some of the Democratic state politicians starting making some overtures to some of the liberal bloggers.  It went middling well.  They were, I think, hoping for free positive PR and we were hoping to be listened to and considered and neither of those things were going to happen, but it was still fun anyway.

And we got to talk to both people running for the TNDP–Forrester and Boner–and I think I speak for most of us when I say that few of us gave a shit who won.  We were just hoping that whoever won would work with the bloggers.

So, when Forrester won, we decided to have a fund-raiser just to show that, hey, we’re here and we’re ready to support the TNDP if you work with us.  Forrester didn’t organize the fundraiser; he didn’t know about it beforehand; he didn’t have anything to do with it.

But it seemed to catch the attention of someone or someones.  And all of a sudden we saw trolls in the blogosphere we’d never seen before.

Jesus Christ, this is getting long.  So, let me make this short and to the point.

The scuttlebutt around the blogosphere is that Harrison and Heatseeker and Dr. Jellyfish are working on behalf of and under the direction of the Governor.  When this rumor first started, it was met by general incredulity.  Why would the Governor of the State devote resources and people to playing on the internet?  It seemed ridiculous.  Yet, months went by and the three of them seemed to often reveal information that only a government insider would know.  And again there were various email conversations to the general effect of “Why would the Governor’s people be wasting time harassing bloggers”?

It seems weird.

I thought that maybe they misunderstood Forrester’s influence in the blogosphere, thought that by arguing with us they were effectively undermining Chip’s base.  Tie Forrester to the bloggers and ruin him by showing what idiots and fools we are.

But who the hell out here in Tennessee and not within the Party even knows who the Chair is, let alone cares?  And who doesn’t already know that the blogosphere is filled with idiots and fools?

Here’s what I think is really going on.  The point was always to bring us into line and demoralize us.  Tie us to Forrester and make it seem like we don’t have to be taken seriously or listened to because we’re just Chip’s flunkies, doing his bidding.  Drag us down with him.  Kill two birds with one stone.

Except their stone didn’t even kill the one bird.

Is it true?  I don’t know.  I hear rumors and rumors of rumors.

I know this, though.  Threads like this and this make a lot more sense if you read it like Harrison, Heatseaker, and Dr. Jellyfinger are working on behalf of the Governor and his pals.  See, he gets to make his deal with Forrester, effectively splitting the Party into two, with Forrester as the figurehead of one and with him and his guys in the secret, shadow party, full of Democrats that know better than the rest of us rubes and racists.

But it only works if everyone plays along.

And when I read threads like those, I get the feeling that playing along is about the exact opposite of what I want to do.


I’m sorry I asked you to contribute to the Tennessee Democratic Party.  Words cannot express how embarrassed I am and how big a jackass I feel like.  Because we have nothing to show for it.  You and I gave money to the TNDP in an effort to show them that new folks were willing and excited about being a part of the Party and they took it as a threat.  They broke the party in two so that they wouldn’t have to take you and me and your concerns and my concerns seriously.

And I am terribly sorry about that.

I asked you to give money in good faith.  I didn’t know there was nothing to have that faith in.

And frankly, I feel like a fool standing here before you again, hat in hand, having to tell you that all your money did was prove to the bigwigs that they needed to find better ways to insulate themselves from you.

I, for one, will never again give money to the TNDP or the TNSDP (Tennessee Shadow Democratic Party?  I don’t know.  Whatever they call themselves).  And I hope you find something better to do with your money, too.


*And yes, we can argue all day about whether that was the case in actuality, but let me paint with some broad strokes.

Hmm. What Will I Do With My Army of Gay Men?

Terry Frank has a doozy of a post that raises all kinds of questions. The most important one being “Terry Frank watches America’s Next Top Model”?!

I have to admit, I’ve been trying to imagine this all morning.  Does she watch it on its regular channel or is she forced to watch it on hung-over Saturdays when they have marathons of it on seemingly every cable channel?  Does she catch her kids watching it and start to say “I don’t want this trash on in my hou…” only to find by the time she’s got the “ssss” out, she’s sitting on the couch transfixed by its amazing awfulness?  Does she turn to her kids, like everyone else in America, and ask “What is wrong with these people?” and then they all share a good laugh as a family?

I mean, shoot, if there’s one thing that folks all across this state, regardless of political persuasion, should be able to agree on it’s that there’s something fucked up about America’s Next Top Model.

But, apparently, America’s Next Top Model is all the fault of the feminists.  Because nothing says “feminism” like a bunch of girls trying to win a contest based solely on their looks.  Oh, wait!  Actually, that doesn’t say feminism at all.  That says “same old same old.”  So, Terry Frank, don’t be trying to blame feminists for ANTM.  That’s solely on you folks who reject the idea of equality.  You guys are the ones who place so much value on a woman’s looks.  Remember?  We’re the hairy, fat, make-up-less man-haters.  Why would we care about ANTM for any reason other than amusement?

Anyway, in the middle of her rant, she blames feminism for gay men judging beauty contests.  I’m not sure how this happens.  I’m assuming that we order gay men to go into beauty pagents and ruin them for everyone else?  I’m not sure.  The point is that, apparently, some feminists have armies of gay men waiting to do their bidding and I don’t.

How do I get issued an army of gay men who go around ruining things for conservatives on my whim?

Come on, people!  There’s a whole downtown full of state legislators I need to unleash some hilarious nonsense onto and I cannot do this without my army of gay men.  Someone’s got to walk behind Senator Bunch and make farting noises and then roll his eyes and point at Bunch like he’s got some horrible gas problem.

Or what about Lowe Finney?  There’s still hope for him and we can encourage him with some positive reinforcement.  Every time he does something Democratic, my troops will cheer.  Every time he strays onto the Republican path, he will be met with stern looks and disapproving coughs.

It’d be so great.  And I’m being deprived.

How can I possibly have the power to ruin everything for the good people of Tennessee if I can’t even get my army?

Clearly, there’s something wrong here.

White Irises

My co-worker has brought in some irises to have at her desk.  The white iris is so beautiful and smells so good that I have begged her to bring me one from her yard and…

She agreed!

Torture is American. That’s the Problem.

Andrew Sullivan’s got another good post up about torture in which he says:

This is how torture is always a fantastic temptation for those in power, even if they first use it out of what they think is necessity or good intentions: it provides a way for them to coerce reality into the shape they desire. This is also why it is so uniquely dangerous. Because it creates a closed circle of untruth, which is then used to justify more torture, which generates more “truth.” [emphasis mine]

He says more than this, but the more he says, I think, is wrong.  Because the argument he’s trying to make is that torture is somehow deeply un-American, that it flies in the face of what we stand for as a country.  I wish with all my heart this were true, but folks, please.  It’s not.

And that’s the problem.

That’s our tragic flaw as a nation.

We have always used violence as a way to coerce reality into the shape we desire.  We’ll march you across the land, trying to force you to accept our ways.  We’ll strip your kids from you and force them to learn only a language you don’t know, and give them a religion that is not yours.  We’ll turn our backs on you as you are raped, repeatedly, and then we’ll take your kids from you.  We’ll beat you until you accept the names we call you.  We’ll hang your brothers and husbands and sons from trees so that you will accept separate but “equal”.  And then we’ll argue that all this is the natural order, just how things are.  God-ordained.  Everyone is fine with it.  Only troublemakers object.  This is just how we do it, to keep order.  How it has to be done.

There could not be anything more American than using violence to coerce reality into the shape we desire.

It’s not just a matter of not knowing enough history to realize that the techniques you’re using were used on our military, not because they’re somehow “okay” but because we wanted to train folks in how to withstand them, it’s the arrogance of not knowing enough history to see that this is the kind of stuff we do all the time, and it never works how we want it to.

There never, ever comes a point where you can beat a person enough to make it okay.

Here’s the thing.  We have been given a few words, at the founding of this country, that it is self-evident that all men are created equal and that we have some inalienable rights–life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  And our struggle as a nation, one we regularly fail at, has been to decide whether that was the truth of who we were or just some propaganda.

I want to be on the side of that being the truth and not just some bullshit we tell ourselves.  But it’s only the truth when we demand it, when we choose it, and when we acknowledge the tragedies that come from acting like those are just some words on paper.  And we have to make it true every day.

If America is The Great Experiment, it’s time to stop running the portion of the experiment where we declare some people outside the scope of the law, not even really people, deserving of everything that they’ve gotten, necessary casualties for our security.  We know that always fails.  Every time we run it, it spreads tragedy and misery and the consequences are far-reaching and always beyond what we’ve anticipated.

It doesn’t take a psychic to see that this is going to be the case again.