Jim Cooper Embarrasses the Whole City

2010: ‘ “There is a lot of hardship in Nashville,” said Congressman Jim Cooper. “A lot of streets, homes, a lot of businesses that are still hurting. We got to make sure everybody gets every penny of help.” ‘

2013: He’s the only Democrat to vote against disaster aid for people who need it.

Someone needs to primary that fucker.

For the Record

Mike Byrd says:

Last October local SouthComm blogger Betsy Phillips introduced new SouthComm reporter Andrea Zelinski in an interesting way. Yes, full disclosure counsels that Phillips’ wrote some “homer” PR fluff on behalf of the news corp she blogs for. So, take the cheers with a grain of salt and then verify for yourselves. And yes, it is remarkable that Phillips dropped a double-edged sword of praise for Zelinski qua woman (saying males “don’t really know a lot about the reality of women’s lives” even as she also argued that women’s issues are not different than issues, like jobs, that concern males). Yes, it can be argued that Phillips takes away with one hand what she gave with the other.

Let’s just be clear. I don’t know what Byrd thinks I should have more fully disclosed. I wrote that piece because I wanted to and it’s what I believe. No one asked me to write it. Even when people at SouthComm send ideas my way, they never tell me what opinion to have about those things or how “fluffy” to make those things. But that doesn’t really matter, because I wrote that post on my own.

I’m also not sure how one should “take the cheers with a grain of salt and then verify for yourselves.” Verify what? That I wrote the piece? I did. That I meant what I said when I wrote it. Well, world, if my word then wasn’t good enough, I’m not sure how my word now is supposed to be, but here you go: I meant what I said when I wrote it.

But I would like to thank Byrd for illustrating my point so clearly. In the real world, a woman can be excited about another woman getting a more prominent job writing about politics because she is genuinely excited about seeing more women’s voices in prominent positions when talking about politics. That’s my agenda–support for more women’s voices talking about issues that affect us and support for men who don’t treat women as some strange species that plays by different rules and who don’t write dismissively about us.

In Byrd’s world, if a woman writes positively about another woman, it’s evidence of some secret agenda dictated to her by her SouthComm superiors. In the reality of women’s lives, we don’t all automatically hate each other unless some man tells us to fake it for the general public.

Hell, if all Zelinski did was write about Rhee without using the term “tough cookie” to apply to a grown-up woman making (or attempting to make) national decisions about our educational system, it would be an important change in tone from how adult women making national public policy get talked about here on the internet.

If that makes me a co-conspirator in some grand scheme to… I don’t know what… then consider me a co-conspirator.

Now What?

I’m finding the stories about the new direction of the Republican party to be interesting. Not in a snarky, schadenfreude way way–though there’s a little of that, too–but the problem of what to do when you think you’re doing exactly the right thing and you believe that things are going your way only to wake up one morning and realize that you’ve been completely wrong is an interesting one, and scary.

And this isn’t an easy problem to solve. In the Washington Post, there’s a story of Beth Cox from Hendersonville (please ignore the fact that the reporter claims to be reporting from Central Tennessee, which is not a place in our universe).

“I will be okay,” she told one caller. “I just don’t think we will be okay.”

Here in the heart of Red America, Cox and many others spent last week grieving not only for themselves and their candidate but also for a country they now believe has gone wildly off track. The days after Barack Obama’s reelection gave birth to a saying in Central Tennessee: Once was a slip, but twice is a sign.

If, as Obama likes to say, the country has decided to “move forward,” it has also decided to move further away from the values and beliefs of a state where Romney won 60 percent of the vote, a county where he won 70 percent, and a town where he won nearly 80.

This is a good illustration of a problem the New York Times identified for the Republican Party. Southern Republicans don’t think the Republican party fucked up. They think their position is the right, moral, and just one, but that the country is abandoning it in a terrifying fashion.

From the Times piece:

Many Southern Republicans said that the lessons of Tuesday could be overlearned, and that the message was not the problem — it was the messengers, or at least the messaging.

“I don’t think for a second Republicans ought to change what we believe and what we stand for,” said Andy Taggart, a lawyer in Madison, Miss., and a former executive director of the state Republican Party. “I do think we could do a more effective job of communicating that.”

Nearly everyone admits that the party will have to broaden its demographic appeal. But for state-level politics across much of the region, there is no reason to be in a hurry. The racial and partisan divide is nearly absolute in the Deep South, with a Democratic Party that is almost entirely black and a Republican Party that is almost entirely white. That electoral math favors the Republicans — for now.

You know, there’s a way in which I sympathize with Taggart here. I mean, I feel like I get up every weekday and say things at Pith that seem ludicrous and contrary to reality to the majority of commenters (if not readers) and yet, I feel pretty certain that I am, for the most part, right. On the other hand, it’s kind of mind-boggling that someone thinks there’s some way to dress up “white men retain control of everything; Evangelical Christianity is the state religion; and everything we decide is immoral is against the law,” that would make everyone in the country happy to go along with it. On the other hand, when you have that kind of surety, when you can’t begin to imagine the validity of thinking about these things in other ways, it seems plausible that, if this message is attractive to you, there must be some way to say it that would be convincing to others.

And yet, the truth of the matter seems to be sinking in to some. Ron Ramsey, for instance, is talking about the necessity of roping Hispanics in to voting Republican. He thinks this can be solved by immigration reform of some sort. But we’ll see. The true test of whether Hispanics in Tennessee begin to vote Republican in large numbers will be if Republicans are willing to run Hispanic candidates.

That will be interesting to see.

Yes, We Can Can

I stayed up until MSNBC called it for Obama. Then I woke the Butcher up to tell him the good guys had won and then went to bed myself. I’m obviously glad and relieved Obama won. Living in a red state, it’s nice to feel like there’s some Democratic national weight to be brought in to protect me, if need be.

Maybe that makes me a moocher. I think, rather, that makes me a member of a group Republicans like to steamroll.

Speaking of said steamroll attempt, I think every idiot who had an opinion on rape rape he could not wait to share with the nation lost. Some in decidedly Republican parts of their states. I am all for bipartisan ass-kicking of these sorts of jerks. If I had to guess, my guess is that it wasn’t just that they had retrograde attitudes about rape. It was the frightening realization that they had these retrograde attitudes about rape because they are grown men with no clue how women’s bodies work. And yet, they still thought they should be in charge of them.

Marriage equality passed in every state it was on the ballot. This is just amazing. I think we all knew the corner was coming up. But to turn it so abruptly–to go from four years ago when Obama was all “Oh, I don’t know” and there was all that Prop 8 nonsense–to having gay people talked about in such awesome ways at the Democratic convention this year and now this? To have our first openly lesbian congressperson? Like I said, I knew it was coming. It was still stunning to see the day arrive so soon.

The third thing that makes me happy is that I read that young voters–18-24–outnumbered voters over 65. I think, frankly, this probably accounts for a lot of the stuff above this. Young people were paying attention and knew the issues that were important to them and, I bet, communicated that to their friends and family. I’ve already seen some kvetching about how young people don’t “really” vote so we shouldn’t somehow treat this as a real trend. But listen. This is two elections in a row with huge youth turnouts. Some of these voters, this was their second time voting in a presidential election.

The 24 year olds will be 28 next time. They won’t be young voters, you know? They will be practiced, habitual voters.

This is great news for our country. Young people should feel invested in voting. It’s the country they’re going to live in we’re shaping here, after all.

Anyway, good and interesting things.

Scott DesJarlais Keeps Making His Ex-Wife’s Case

I don’t know Scott DesJarlais’s ex-wife, but the more he is in the public eye, the more plausible her stories of abuse become. It’s not just the “cajoling his mistress into having an abortion while trying to get out of taking her” stuff. Now his campaign is threatening to call the police on the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. This is not a man who’s used to being in positions where he can’t be controlling.

If you want people to not believe that you abused your ex-wife, you can’t really go around forcing your mistress to have an abortion, trying to gaslight voters over it, and then going thermonuclear on anyone who doesn’t go along with your made-up version of events.

At the least, it proves that you have and will deploy the skill set used by abusers when necessary. At the most, it proves that your ex’s accusations are probably true because it seems to be the only skill-set you have.

And what’s funny is that that cartoon is pretty yucky. DesJarlais had the moral high-ground here. If he’d come out and said “Wow, you know, for the media to continue to bring up and now make jokes about what was the darkest time in my life is pretty vile.” who could have disagreed with him?

But he’s just not the kind of guy who is willing to be vulnerable, even when it is obviously the stronger position. For him, it’s just continually striking out, over and over.

Like I said, the more he does, the more I believe his ex-wife.

I Never Think Romney is Doing as Bad as Others Think

I watched a little bit of the debate last night and I was glad to see Obama back on his game. But I just don’t know if it’s because we have Haslam here or what, but I never think that Romney comes off as bad as other liberals think he does. I mean, I disagree with him. But there’s some way in which I feel like we run around all “And now people will see what a slime-ball he is!” But he doesn’t really come across as a slime-ball, in general.

He comes across like a boss. And to me, that’s what it comes down to. If your feelings about bosses are that they are, in general, competent people who’ve worked hard to get where they are, and who maybe are sometimes a little out of touch with the struggles of people who work hard but haven’t gotten that far, but who are, in general, well-meaning, I think that’s how Romney mostly comes across.

If you feel like bosses think they’re better than you, what, with their fancy educations and all, and that they will say anything to get ahead and that they don’t understand what your life is like, then I imagine that’s exactly how Romney comes across.

How big the disconnect between his concerns and yours appears and how much that bothers you has less, I think, to do with him and more to do with how you feel about guys like him you already know.

There was one moment I am most curious about the implications of. Was I misunderstanding or did he claim he was the pastor of a church for some years? There aren’t Mormon pastors. They don’t use that word. Now, I don’t know if it grates the way someone calling themselves a Lutheran priest might grate–which is to say, it sounds wrong, but you can imagine an audience in front of which a Lutheran pastor might describe herself that way in order to bridge a gap in understanding if the people she was talking to only had experience with priests–or if it grates the way someone calling themselves a Baptist priest might grate–which is to say, there’s no fucking Baptist minister in these here United States whose calling himself a priest and, if one did, his congregation would be creeped out and pissed.

But I did wonder what Mormons made of that.

The women in a binder thing was hilarious. But I feel like this blogger says all there is to say about it, “I’m not at all worried that Romney organizes his women in a giant binder. It’s probably just a Mormon thing, because you know how they are about genealogy.” (The very next part of the paragraph I’m quoting is even funnier, but I didn’t want to steal two punchlines.)

The most troubling thing was this idea that we could reduce gun violence through marriage. First, violent crimes in this country are way, way down. Second, most of the parents of the famous spree killers folks are fretting about were married.

Neither a vagina nor a wedding ring a magic. I can’t make a baby into a killer with the power of my unmarried vagina and a little piece of gold doesn’t prevent it.

I know it’s a big change, but it is very important that people be able to choose who they marry and to not be pressured into marrying someone terrible just because a child is involved. It is better for everyone–including the child–that this change has been made.

Anyway, I thought Obama did great. I thought Romney did less than great, but not so bad that he frightened off likely Romney voters and I think it’s not necessarily going to be an easy victory for Obama. That frightens me, but I think that’s the truth.

I Guess Being a Dude is More Complicated than It Looks

Scott DesJarlais now says, “During this conversation I was incredibly frustrated. As such, I used rather strong rhetoric in hopes that it would lead to her admitting the truth — that there was no pregnancy.”

Now, see, to me this

“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he’ll reveal her identity to his wife. They then discuss whether he will accompany her to a procedure to end the sort of life the congressman now describes as “sacred.”

“You told me you would have time to go with me and everything,” the woman complains.

“I said, if I could, I would, didn’t I? And I will try,” DesJarlais says. “If I can [find] time, you’re saying you still will?”

“Yeah,” the woman answers.

–sounds like a man who is trying to pressure a woman into having an abortion while weaseling out of taking her to do it. After all, if she’s not pregnant, it’s going to be pretty strange when they end up at the clinic in Atlanta, you know? That place she’s trying to get him to go with her?

To my way of thinking–and again, I’m not a dude, so maybe it works differently–if you don’t believe a woman is pregnant with your child when she says she is, you say something like “I don’t believe you’re pregnant. Let’s go get an ultrasound. Right now.” You don’t whine about wishing she would go to the abortion clinic without you.

I mean, is DesJarlais arguing here that his strategy was to be such a big, annoying baby about the whole thing that she’d finally just throw up her hands and say “Whatever, you know, I’m not even really pregnant. Never call me again.”?

I think the truth is much more likely that he is exactly the man his ex-wife has accused him of being–an abuser who is used to being able to control the women in his life through threats against them or against himself. And this “I was engaged in Level 3 Trickery, where I was only pretending to love abortions when they’re convenient to me, but was really just trying to get this woman I fucked to admit she wasn’t pregnant without just accusing her of not being pregnant” is his attempt to use the same manipulative tactics he’s used on the women in his life on the voters.

He’d better hope this woman never comes forward to tell her side of things.

The Debate

I thought Romney had an excellent night as it was happening. But after seeing online reactions and what stuck with people, it might not have been a good night in retrospect. As I said on Twitter, I noticed that most women on Facebook and Twitter who follow politics and most men in general thought that Romney “won.” But women who don’t follow politics, for whom this was their first big introduction to Romney? They were, during the debate, using words like “aggressive,” “rude,” and “boring.” And I noticed that many of them either stopped talking about the debate or said they were changing the channel after the Big Bird fiasco.

That’s not a good first impression. And if Obama spends the next couple of weeks running ads that just feature clips of “Romney said this. [something] But during the debate, he said this [the opposite].” it seems like there will be a receptive audience for that.

So, I don’t know. I thought it was obvious that Romney did great, but I’m used to arrogant politicians. I don’t think anything of it. And so I’m not sure how to read the number of people who don’t pay that close of attention to politics who turned in and were like “Oh my god, who is this asshole blowhard?”

It’s not the impression I got, but I feel like it’s important to realize that’s an impression some women had.

The Wide-Eyed “Good Lord, No.”

The dumbass running against Jim Cooper posted a picture of a gun on his Facebook page and the words, “Many people in Tennessee keep asking me about my opinion on Second Amendment rights. Apparently Tennesseans are part of that crazy crowd that Obama says ‘cling to (their) religion and guns.’ Well, then I must be part of that crazy crowd. Here is something that I usually have with me. Welcome to Tennessee Mr. Obama.”

And then, when he was asked if that was an implicit threat against Obama, he got to play all wide-eyed and innocent and said “Good Lord, no.”

Oh, really? Then why didn’t he post a picture of a Bible?

I truly hate this bullshit, that a person can do something that is obviously a threat and then, just because he makes the most puny bullshit effort to pretend that it’s not a threat, we’re all supposed to act like we believe his account of what his intentions were. Or at least we’re supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I honestly hope Cooper wipes his ass with this jerk.

Bad for Republicans, Bad for America

I am a liberal and a life-long Democrat. I think if you read me, you know that pretty clearly. And yet, liberals have some tendencies that, when left unchecked, are not good. Just take a gander at the Alyssa Douglas fiasco. That desire to hold a whole community responsible for the actions of an idiot teenager? Not good.

In order for our country to function, we need functioning political parties, possibly more than two, but let’s start with two. If there’s one thing that sitting here in Tennessee has shown me–in a land where there is no functioning Democratic party–it’s that we need the push and pull provided by two healthy parties. People are best served by political tussle and compromise, as ugly as that process can be.

So, frankly, I’m deeply concerned about the state of the national Republicans. I mean, there’s a lot of good analysis about Romney’s 47% remarks already. I’m not going to rehash them. But that’s not something the leader of a party that is doing okay says. And yet, who would have been a better candidate? Romney was literally their best choice and this is him! A man who argues to his audience of rich white people that his life would have been easier if his grandparents had actually been Mexican.

Obviously, there’s just a level of disconnect from reality that would be terrible for this reality-based country if it ever got in charge. And yet, you know, it’s really going to be on Republicans to change this. In a way, I feel like the Republicans are our drunk friends. As long as they are drinking, they’re incoherent with rage, operating under the assumption that they’re wittier and smoother with the sexy-times and more well-liked than they actually are. Plus, they’re wrecking things and endangering everyone.

We really need them to sober up and yet, they want to avoid the hang-over at all costs, so they just keep drinking.

I mean, people, we actually had political conventions this year where the Democrats were better about the military and the needs of the troops. Just let that sink in. The Republicans have squandered that.

I wish I could find this funny, but, like I said, it’s bad for the country. I don’t know what Republican change is going to look like, but I’m ready for it.

Alyssa Douglas

Here’s the thing. Yes, she should get a shit-scaring-out-of-her visit from the Secret Service. And if there are legal repercussions she has to face, I will laugh and laugh and laugh. What she tweeted was stupid and evil.

And what they’re doing at Daily Kos is stupid and evil, too. How many times do we have to watch internet shit-storms get completely out of hand before we learn that they’re a terrible idea? I will never forget, nor forgive, how Jesus’ General cost Britney her job because he felt like playing judge, jury, and jailer and hadn’t bothered to discover whether there was any surrounding context. He just brought down his unholy shit-storm and there was no defense against it. There were just too many people who were too angry for him to call it off once it sank in to him how he’d fucked up.

But one of the things that struck me about that incident–and it strikes me about this one–is how easy it is to build a mob against a girl. and how, once the crowd gets revved up about going against a girl, whatever they want to do to her is fine. Whatever happens to her, it’s somehow her own fault. Harass her, harass her family, harass her school, harass her workplace, whatever you want! It’s all cool and fine, because… well… because bitches have to be kept in line.

There will be no defense she can give, no sorry that is enough for her to get her life back. And the truth is that all most folks know is that one thing they saw, nothing about the context. Not that I think the Douglas thing has context, but I DON’T KNOW. And neither do most of us.

I loved Obama’s speech last night. I found it deeply, deeply moving, especially when he quoted Lincoln. And the funny thing is that I think the Daily Kos writer really gets at what was so powerful about it:

But The Choice is also about something far weightier, something far longer-term than our economic prosperity or the American Comeback or of freedoms to love and marry who you want or pursue whatever dreams you have regardless of your background or your fortunes.  It’s something far outside the boundaries of this election alone: it’s a choice between the kind of world in which hope is codified into our laws and values as a nation, and one in which the seeds of division, exclusion, and anger triumph over the greater good—wherein the fabric of society is allowed to erode at the vestigial hands of hate.

I disagree with the part in bold there. I mean, that’s almost hilariously stupid. But ignore it for a second. The point I want to make is that this Kos writer can ask if we want to live in a nation where anger triumphs over the greater good and then turn around and unleash an angry internet horde on everyone who even knows this girl.

So, really, even though it’s framed as “anger” vs. “greater good,” what it means in practice is still that same old change vs. exchange problem. These folks at Kos–as evidenced by their own actions against Douglas–do not want actual change–where you would see a tweet like that, report it to the proper authorities, monitor the authorities to make sure it’s been properly dealt it, and then not indulge in your misogynistic internet blood lust–but want exchange–where liberals get to be terrifyingly angry and folks like Douglas get to be afraid for a while.

I want no part of that.

Bill, Who is Fixing to

I’ve really been enjoying the DNC, though I haven’t been writing about it because, honestly, it’s nice just to watch and enjoy people I mostly agree with talking about a direction I’d like the country to take. I like hearing people being openly happy for their gay Marine friends and those gay Marine friends’ boyfriends. I like a crowd full of people who look like America to me. And I like how excited and happy everyone seems. It’s just nice.

So, analyzing the shit out of that isn’t really interesting to me and attempting to understand it isn’t really necessary, so what is there to say?

The Butcher and I were riveted to Bill Clinton’s speech, which was, of course, terrific, but also, of course, about ten minutes longer than you think you can bear. It was at that point, ten minutes out, when the Butcher said, “You know there’s someone running around asking people in the audience if they can play an instrument, because they’re trying to assemble a band that can play that dude off the stage.”

And then we both laughed. But we still watched right to the end.

One Last Thing about Eastwood

So, I read over at Talking Points Memo that, “Romney advisers so trusted Mr. Eastwood, 82, that unlike with other speakers, they said they did not conduct rehearsals or insist on a script or communicate guidelines for the style or format of his remarks.”

All I can think is that this is the most bizarre part of it. Eastwood is a libertarian, not in “Ayn Rand is my Bible” sense, but in the “I want to be left alone to do my thing and I want to leave you alone to do your thing, and if government can operate quietly in the background, without me having to notice, that’d be great.”

And the Republican convention had already had some issues with libertarians earlier in the week. So, you’d think it’d be fresh on their minds that there’s a curmudgeonly contingent who’s not all happiness about the state of the Party.

The fact that the Romney campaign could look at Clint Eastwood and say “‘Oh, he’s like us. He’ll do what’s best for us.” shows such bizarre thinking that it gravely concerns me. Part of politics is knowing who your friends are. Between this speech and Christie’s, I really wonder if Romney gets that.


I said this a little on Twitter last night, but here’s the thing about Eastwood and Rice at the Convention that’s important to not overlook. They were not about playing to the base. Nor were they really on stage, it didn’t seem to me, to appeal to potential voters.

I think they were a message to the base about what a viable future of the Republican party has to look like. You can be racist, but it has to be a la Archie Bunker, not “throw peanuts at a black person.” You can be an enormous cheerleader for war/war criminal, but it has to be based on policy not on religion. Plus, Rice and Eastwood are both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. And represent a kind of multicultural comfort with the nation as it is, not a nostalgia for how we imagine it was sixty years ago.

Someone was using old, familiar faces to make an argument for the fresh direction the Party has to take it if wants to survive.

That’s why I can’t really dog on Eastwood’s chair thing. I thought it was weird, but, on the other hand, when was the last time we saw a Republican modeling actual discussion with the President? That’s kind of refreshing. It might not have worked quite right, and it, I don’t think, caused anyone to decide they weren’t going to vote for Obama.

But I don’t think that was the point. I think it was a painful point delivered to the Republicans sitting there about the direction the Party needs to take, camouflaged as a piece of performance art about the direction voters need to take.

Let’s Raise a Toast to Sherry Jones

First, Joe Carr shoots off his mouth:

Carr would explain later on that he agreed with Akin that women did indeed possess certain biological means to close themselves off against pregnancy in cases of violent rape. He further thought that Republicans had no business telling a bona fide Republican primary winner what to do.

Then Sherry Jones calls a rat’s ass a rat’s ass:

Rep. Joe Carr has shown today what many of the women in the General Assembly have known for a long time—he is completely and totally unfit for office. Claiming that women’s bodies possess the ability to “close themselves off” from pregnancy in cases of violent rape is not only biologically inaccurate, it is offensive to each and every Tennessee woman who has ever been the victim of rape. Tennessee Republicans are continuing their march to the extreme ideological right at the expense of our mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. It’s time for Rep. Joe Carr to apologize for his ignorant remark and for the Tennessee Republicans to end the war on women.

And then Carr tried to weasel out of the mess:

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, denied telling a reporter that he agreed with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that victims of “legitimate rape” seldom carry pregnancies to term, but he stood by his position that the Akin should not be pressured to leave the Missouri Senate race.

The Memphis Flyer reported this morning that Carr told its correspondent to the Republican National Convention that he believes pregnancies terminate automatically after a rape, a medical fiction sometimes advanced by opponents of abortion. The remark — which the Flyer summarized and did not quote directly — came after a lunchtime speech by GOP strategist Frank Luntz in which Luntz asked members of the Tennessee delegation to demonstrate by show of hands whether they agree Akin should step aside.

See that “telling a reporter” nonsense? Baker doesn’t say that Carr told him that he agreed with Aiken, just that he said it later. So, in actuality, Carr doesn’t deny saying it, just denies saying it to Baker.

So weaselly. So hilariously weaselly.

Anyway, Sherry Jones. I want to high-five her. I wish I could vote for her.

On Rats’ Asses

Oh, Jim Summerville.

I have thoughts. None of them are “What kind of jackass would do this?” because, obviously, Jim Summerville would. But mostly I’m curious to watch how this played out among Republicans.

Y’all know that I’ve long thought that a certain, rather large faction, seemed to have made no plans for how to actually lead, since they were busy trying to figure out how to both be on top and to frame themselves as underdogs rallying against their overwhelming enemies. And you know that I’ve long thought that there are some Republicans who seem to be disappointed that they are only the overwhelming victors and that they are not capable of punishing their enemies by completely and utterly ruining their lives.

And I think Summerville has often positioned himself in these two camps–both as the plain-spoken defender of what’s right against the forces of immorality and as someone who believes he should get to punish his enemies.

But it seems like that’s a fine line for a party to walk. The Republicans knew they had voters on their side to redistrict and to undo some (seemingly) unfair Democratic practices (I put seemingly in parentheses because I think they took the opportunity to both undo some unfair practices and to undo some that could just be spun as unfair. I think both of those things are to be expected.). They made some pretty radical changes to education. And even with all that, there is still a small, but really vocal minority that wants even more.

But the line the Republicans have to walk is that you can only tear down so much before you have to turn the corner and govern. If you can’t make that pivot, you’re going to lose your moneyed backers. And you’re going to lose moderate voters.

So, what’s interesting to me is watching Dolores Gresham show such self-assured leadership (no, that’s really not a sentence I ever thought I’d be typing). If there was any dithering, it happened so far behind the scenes I’ve caught no whiff of it. And it happened so quickly that it seemed like she heard about it, gave the situation some careful consideration, and then did what needed to be done.

People, that’s more than the Governor has managed to do in his first term. Let that sink in. Dolores Gresham has out-led the governor.

But, anyway, I’ve got my eye on this. Some Republicans are doing a good job of turning that corner (or at least looking like it). Others, obviously, not so much. It’s going to be an interesting session.

George Korda Says Some Stupid Stuff

George Korda has the biggest bit of concern trolling over at Knoxnews you’re bound to read all day.

Let’s start with the most hilarious part and work our way from there. Korda says, “Smart Tennessee Democrats will do everything possible to avoid such an issue-related litmus test for office seekers and get their colleagues to quiet down.” Well, who the fuck would those Democrats be, George? Where, exactly, do you see any evidence of anyone left with those types of leadership skills or who commands that kind of authority? And colleagues? Please.

There is no functioning party. Did Korda miss the part where the TNDP wants everyone to submit their questions in writing before the Party decides by committee what vague, non-committal answer to give? There is no Democratic Party in Tennessee right now. There are a bunch of people doing their best to impersonate a Magic 8 ball.

The situation is hazy. Ask again later.

If your analysis of the political situation in Tennessee is not premised on the fact that the Democratic party is in a non-functioning shambles, then your analysis is built on a false premise.

Second, for as long as I’ve been here, Tennessee Democrats have tried to win by being all things to all people. Who can forget Harold Ford Junior standing in front of the Confederate flag? It has not worked. Standing for whatever the dude you’re standing closest to at the moment stands for has not worked. Why is it better to stand for nothing and lose than to stand for something and lose?

Third, this is the internet. When you say shit like “It would be useful for Tennesseans interested in the subject to visit the SPLC and Public Advocate websites, read them, and decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with the ‘anti-gay hate group’ label” you should link to the things you think people should look at. (You can look at the SPLC’s take on Public Advocate here and Public Advocate’s take on itself here.) But please, let’s not pretend that they’re not an anti-gay hate group. They hate gay people and they are a group devoted to trying to curtail the rights of gay people. I don’t get what Korda thinks he’s offering readers by advising them to “decide for themselves.”  If you don’t think Public Advocate is, ya know, advocating for the hatred and oppression of gay people, you’re just not reading their site very thoroughly. It’s not a matter of opinion.

God, imagine Korda at lunch. “There is a food item here. The SPLC claims it’s a sandwich. Public Advocate says it’s a sub. You should look at it and decide for yourself.”

And then there’s this:

In 2006 a Tennessee ballot measure affirming marriage between a man and a woman passed with 81 percent of the vote. Clearly, Democrats either completely sat it out or voted for it. The margin is a pretty clear indication of Tennessee voters’ sentiments on this issue. They’re not alone. Homosexual marriage referendums have failed in every state in which voters have had a chance to decide the issue.

What he neglects to point out is that, in 2006, the majority of people nationally (58% according to Gallup) believed that gay people should not be allowed to be married. Six years later, 54% of Americans believe gay people should be allowed to be married. And regardless of one’s political bent, this is a no-brainer among young people.

The question is far from settled and all gay marriage opponents have managed to do is push back the date when it will be legal. Ooo, big victory there, folks.

But most importantly, Korda misunderstands what Democratic activists are saying. You can, indeed, call yourself a Democrat and oppose gay marriage. You’re just going to have a more difficult time fundraising among Democrats who do believe in gay marriage if you make that central to your campaign because you don’t really have anything to offer us beyond what Republicans are willing to toss us.

But if you advocate for the elimination or the oppression of gay people–and let’s make no mistake, Public Advocate wants gay people to either go away or to have their participation in the public arena severely curtailed–then, no, you shouldn’t get to call yourself a Democrat. You don’t get to work to harm core Democratic constituencies and still get to be a Democrat.

The fact that this is controversial, in the slightest, is both sad and hilarious.

An Evil Soul Producing Holy Witness is Like a Villain with a Smiling Cheek

You remember my new working definition of bearing false witness, that it’s “freeform gaslighting. You know what the truth is. You reserve the right to live in the truth for yourself. And yet you happily keep the people under your influence from the truth so that you can benefit from their fear and uncertainty.”

Well, check this nonsense. Remember when David Fowler was all “Poor people are like animals and we should stop feeding them“? Well, now he’s all

Bob Smietana of  The Tennessean recently wrote about a personal Facebook post of mine. He said I claimed there were “too many people on food stamps” and indicated my solution was to “stop feeding them.” This is false.

When he asked what my post meant, my explanatory statement to him, in full, was this: “The obvious point of the post is that government can foster and create dependence on government. Human beings can become reliant on the government. Ironically, the government even recognizes that beings can become reliant on others for their well-being, but doesn’t seem to see that when it comes to human beings. Government creating human dependence on government demeans human dignity and is antithetical to human freedom government is intended to protect.”

Dependent on the government for what, though? Food stamps. Literally food.  I’ve got my issues with Smietana who seems to think “religion” means “Whatever the Southern Baptists say” but he is completely right about this and David Fowler is lying and he knows it. He’s now at the point where he’s just making shit up about what he said so that he can keep the people on his side gaslit.

But his acting like an abuser doesn’t just stop with “I’m going to deny saying what we both know I said and demand you treat me like I said something else.”

No, people, now he’s crying about how mean liberals are. You see, he compared poor people to animals, but he’s the real victim here.

It’s rich. And then he drags poor Jesus into this mess:

But for us Christians, as long as we are speaking the truth and doing so graciously, then we need to grapple with something Jesus said:

Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you, and cast insults at you and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. Luke 6:22, 23 (NASB)

If we Christians remain silent when accused of being hateful, then we need to ask ourselves this question: “Were these words meant to be encouragement to stand firm when called a ‘hater’ or was Jesus wrong on this one?”

Of course, William Shakespeare is right about this. “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” Fowler’s followers ought to consider that.

Bleh Eric Stewart Bleh bleh bleh

The Eric Stewart thing has temporarily broken me. I spent last night answering phone calls and emails from folks who were just… worn out… I guess is the best way to put it. It’s stupid at this point, but a lot of us keep hoping that there will be some kind of Tennessee Democrat who is folksy and personable and who wants to put people back to work and who is willing to find some way to put the best interests of the people of Tennessee first, and who actually likes the people who vote Democratic.

But no, it’s always some guy who is really nice in person and who seems to have everything going for him who then decides “Oh, I bet I could get more votes if I just signal my conservative bona fides.” and out we go. Not real Tennesseans.

The only solace I can take is that the Democratic party is going to undergo an enormous change in the next four years. Because, right now, the TNDP knows next to nothing about what the Democratic politicians we have left need to keep getting elected. The caucus will force the change. And that will have ripple effects. I hope, anyway.

In the meantime, how do you make political space for yourself in a state where even the Democrats are quick to disavow you?

I don’t know.

A Frank Talk about Marriage for Eric Stewart’s Benefit

Marriage is, at its root–hell, at its root, trunk, branches, and leaves–about property rights. In the not-so-distant past, it was about a changing of control of certain property of a man’s–his daughter–to the control of another man–her husband. Even now, marriage is about property rights and inheritance and assets and all kinds of legal contractual stuff.

There has been a radical redefinition of marriage in the last 150 years–people of every class came to expect that they would be allowed to marry for love, first and foremost, not for the economic benefits it would bring to their respective families. So, congratulations! If you’re married to a person you yourself chose and you fell in love with that person before you got married and, indeed, it was because you were in love with that person that you felt like you should get married, you are participating in the most radical redefinition of marriage in the history of human kind.

Even so, there are a lot of people–not just “crazy” radical feminist, but some of them, too–who believe that the institution of marriage is irredeemably tainted by its roots and history as a means of moving property (a woman) from one household to another. They see everything about the wedding and the marriage itself as being too steeped in traditions they find ugly. Plus, they don’t think that you should have to have a magical kind of legal documentation–like a marriage certificate–to assure that your property rights and power-of-attorney wishes are abided by. Some even think that it’s old-fashioned, this notion that a two-person headed household is so uniquely suited to best comprising a family.

So, let me be clear–if you support marriage first and foremost for love, you have already accepted the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history. But if you support marriage? You support an institution steeped in tradition, for better or for worse. This is the position most people in this country find themselves in–they like both the radical redefinition AND the institution steeped in tradition.

But the most liberal position on marriage is that it sucks and shouldn’t be necessary and is irredeemable.

Supporting and encouraging marriage is a conservative position.

Conservatives should be able to get behind the idea that two people who love each other and who want to provide legal protections for each other and their household is a good thing. And, in fact, among young conservatives, this is already a no-brainer. Of course, we’d want to encourage the stability of married partnerships, unlike those liberals who all want to live in polyamorous communes where everyone is called ‘Ned’ and they wee because Chumbawumba broke up.

Denying people the right to marry based on who they want to marry isn’t a conservative position. It’s just being an asshole. It’s saying “I want this great thing that protects me and the person I love from all kinds of shenanigans and trouble to be off-limits to you and the person you love.” It’s saying “I want special rights, because of who my spouse is.”

Let me repeat. Opposing gay marriage, when you yourself are married, does not make you conservative. It makes you an asshole who wants special rights.

That’s point one. Point two, the GLBT community has worked hard to help elect Democrats. They are working hard right now to help elect Democrats. We are all supposed to be mad and upset that Mark Clayton is on the ballot for Senator as a Democrat because he belongs to an anti-gay hate group.

Being anti-gay is supposed to be an uncool thing for a Democrat.

Apparently Eric Stewart did not get the memo.

Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I stand with the voters of Tennessee,” he said.

Let me be as clear as I can be. I’m a Tennessee voter. And I did not vote for that abomination of a state constitutional amendment. So, if you have to have voted for that abomination in order to be considered by Stewart to be a voter worthy of his standing with, well, then, sir, message received.

Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that, if his wife is in a car accident, he’ll be allowed to see her at the hospital and that, in fact, he’ll be able to make the necessary medical decision to return her to health. Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that when he dies, his assets and property will go to his wife and that some distant cousin of his he barely knows won’t be able to claim she’s the next of kin. Eric Stewart doesn’t worry a moment that, if he and his wife were to divorce, her church would help her take their children out of the country so that he would never see them again.

That security, which he takes for granted, is too much to grant to other people in love.

Like I said, that’s not being conservative. That’s being an asshole.

David Fowler Needs a Literal Come to Jesus Meeting

Let’s be clear. David Fowler is like an evil Lloyd Dobler. He doesn’t sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. He runs a lobbying organization. If our country were a pure, straight-up capitalist system, he’d be shit out of luck because he has nothing to put out in the marketplace for people to purchase. If he lost his job, he would have to get another job snookering people into giving him money in exchange for him sending out self-aggrandizing press releases, because he has no other discernible skills. He is skating by on the goodwill and generosity of his supporters.

In other words, capitalism works under the assumption that you make something I can consume and I will pay you what the market will bear for it. David Fowler makes nothing that can be consumed. He doesn’t help make anything that can be consumed. He gets by solely by convincing people that he can be a better advocate for their positions than they could be. Probably because they have real jobs and don’t have time to be standing up at the State Capitol all day.

If you had to choose who has more value–the guy who takes your money at the Quik-Sak and who needs food stamps to feed his kids or David Fowler–the Quik-Sak dude is literally contributing more of value to society every day he shows up to work since he allows you to buy gas and coffee and snacks and pee when you need to than David Fowler, who is taking your money to play with his friends all day.

And you know, playing with your friends all day is good work if you can get it. But when you forget that you’re just extremely lucky and not actually contributing that much to the world?

It’s pretty ugly.


Oh, Blame!

Here’s an interesting bit of gossip. I’m hearing that Maggart didn’t lose because of some great NRA influence in her district, but because she didn’t campaign anywhere but Hendersonville and it pissed her base off that she thought she could just skate by acting like she had this all but won because she had such powerful friends.

If so, it suggests two interesting things–one, the Republicans might also have some leadership problems. While I agree with folks that say that Tennessee will be Republican for a long time, the thing I have been stunned to see is that Republican politicians seem to think this means that they will be in office for a long time, as if the state leaning more conservative means that voters are happy with those particular Republicans.

It’s like thinking that, if you are on a baseball team that has had a hundred years of losing seasons and you are among the guys who take your division, that you won’t be traded for a player the coach thinks works better.

Who has two elections-worth of power and decides that means they are untouchable? What kind of party leadership lets individual politicians make that mistaken assumption?

And two, it means that the support of the gun lobby was not as big a factor as it’s being played up as, but is, instead, a convenient scapegoat. Maggart lost through no fault of her own, but because a powerful lobby set against her. You can see both why politicians would promote this narrative and why the gun lobby would.

But the fact of the matter on the conservative side remains this–permissive gun laws are widely favored by individuals and more restrictive gun laws are favored by businesses. Individual gun rights people can crow about spending $75,000 on that one race, but the issue remains–do you think, say, FedEx or Ingram or Amazon would blink at spending $75,000?

That’s a shit ton of money for an advocacy group. It’s chump change to multinational businesses. I don’t believe there’s an astute Republican politician in this state who doesn’t know that.

I’ll be more convinced the “Safe Commute” bills have a chance of passing when and if we see the insurance lobbyists not the gun lobbyists working on them.

Until then, I just don’t believe Republicans are ready to piss off the people with the most money.

Free Advice to the TNDP

From here on out, just let Sean Braisted speak to the media and, when he speaks to the media, go ahead and let him do that chagrined laugh of his and say, honestly, “It’s a clusterfuck, isn’t it?”

Because this?

Well, Tennessee has a very low threshold of 25 signatures to get on the ballot. So it’s not difficult to offer yourself as a candidate. We have a very small window of five days after candidate paperwork is filed and there are 99 House seats, 33 Senate seats, nine congressional seats. So we have five days to withdraw or not allow a Democratic candidate to be placed on a ballot. And it’s also a slippery slope to keep a candidate off the ballot.

This is terrible. And guess what? There isn’t a slippery slope from “You can’t run as a Democrat and belong to a hate group” and anywhere else. It’s not slippery. There is no slope.  There’s just looking at who your constituents are and then not letting the people who are actively working for their elimination run as fucking Democrats. That is a flat, smooth, safe surface for a motherfucking party to walk on. I mean, why would we be embarrassed to be dismissive of people who want to get rid of our constituencies?

And then this?

Well, I certainly spent a lot of time and the staff spent a lot of time talking to prospective candidates. It is difficult when the Republican has a $10 million war chest and a personal checkbook that is in excess of that, to recruit a candidate against that kind of campaign war chest is difficult.

We did not get involved in the primary, we don’t get involved in primaries, so we had a number of candidates that filed and it’s a difficult mountain for us to climb when your Republican opponent has that kind of financial resource.

This is so hilarious I can’t even be mad. “We’d have kept the dude from the hate group off the ballot as a Democrat if we’d had more money, like those fancypants Republicans”? So, it’s your donors’ fault now?

That sentiment doesn’t really make people want to open their wallets, I’d guess.

Like I said, send Braisted. Let him cuss. But don’t bullshit.

The Election

I didn’t vote. My new registration card is in the dining room behind all the stuff from my living room and so I went to the polling place I had last time and it obviously wasn’t a polling place so I just went home. Sorry, America.

We lost our strongest advocates for women’s rights–Marrero and Richardson over in Memphis–so that really sucks. But, hey, we retained G.A. Hardaway, so someone is left to co-sponsor all of Campfield’s “Protecting you from lying bitchez” legislation. Oh, wait. That really sucks.

But at least we can take some joy in knowing that we mostly lost incumbent Democrats because of redistricting. Republicans lost incumbents because their base hates them.

And their base hates them even though, with the exception of guns in cars in other people’s parking lots, they did exactly what their base wants. Seriously, their base got 99.98% of what they wanted and they’re still so pissed that they voted incumbents out. I do not envy the Republicans who are left trying to figure out how, then, you appease the base. If winning on what rounds up to everything doesn’t do it, what will?