The Death of the Tennessee Democratic Party

In the 2000 presidential election, Vice President Al Gore came within four percent of winning Tennessee.

Ten years later, according to reporter Ken Whitehouse of the Nashville Post, the Tennessee Democratic Party died. To mourn its passing, Mr. Whitehouse wrote an obituary chronicling the party’s storied history.

The obituary is quite a humorous read for those with an interest in politics. The immediate occasion that prompted its writing was the resignation of Congressman Bart Gordon, who was facing an extremely difficult re-election. His seat was won by a landslide by a Republican in the upcoming mid-terms.

Mr. Whitehouse narrates the early years of Tennessee’s Democratic Party. It was founded by President Andrew Jackson during the early part of the nineteenth century. Then:

Party saw great success in all portions of the state with the exception of East Tennessee, which stubbornly refused to bend to his will.

That feud turned bloody in the 1860s, ultimately resulting in Party having his license suspended and placed briefly under the supervision of court-ordered monitors and factions friendly to East Tennessee politicians, known more commonly as Republicans.

Afterward, however, were the days of the Solid South when Democrats controlled practically all parts of Tennessee politics for decades. Their achievements included a Secretary of State who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize and a governor who made “the use of textbooks free in all Tennessee primary and secondary grades.”

Then came the deluge, as Mr. Whitehouse writes. President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill set the stage for a long, slow drift of white Democrats to the Republican Party. By the 1970s, Republicans controlled both Senate seats and the governorship. In the late ’70s and ’80s the Democratic Party recovered somewhat, only to be smashed once more during the ’90s.

The Tennessee Democratic “Party is survived by the cities of Memphis and Nashville.”


Can the gender benders and the transsexuals survive together?

Can In the corporate world that is. Can the crossdressers, the androgynenes, the gender queer, and all the rest of the transgender spectrum coexist with transsexuals in a corporation or a community? I ask this because of possible differences in the needs of the various parts of the T community.

A post-op woman needs to use the restroom of her sex. Yet many straight people get upset when a post-op woman needs to use the womens restroom. I have acquaintences that have been years post-op that still are required to use single person bathrooms due to complaints from co-workers.

How is a pre-op transsexual woman supposed to get through her Real Life Experience if she is not allowed by company policy or employee complaints to use the restroom of her everyday gender presentation? There is a real educational activity required to just let the pre-op transsexual live her life. Can crossdressers and other gender variant people screw up the chances of transsexuals to have the bathroom experience they need? I worry that my transition can adversely affect the needs of the TS.

The best I can tell, I am a gender bender, but do not know for sure. All I know is that I have spent over 3 years as my breasts became larger and my hair longer, dressing as a guy. I have been asked several times in the past year, if or when I am planning on “having the surgery” and I reply that I am not having “the surgery”. I present at work as a man with boobs. I have been told by the VP of HR that I cannot continue my transition until I am ready to commit to living full time as the opposite sex, ie. pre-op transsexual. A post-op woman acquaintance that works with a different business unit of the company agrees with the position of my HR VP.

But I am not transitioning from male to female, I am transitioning from male to a third gender, somewhere in between male and female. I am a half male – half female identity, and heavily female gender expression. I am transitioning for me, but my transition has also been for the transgender community. Hundreds of people at my company see me, and can understand that a transgender person is not some faceless object, but is instead a person that they interact with on a daily basis. If they can become familiar with and comfortable with a person like me, then the environment for a transitioning TS should be more accepting.

But now comes the major question. If I continue my transition, even though informed it is not in my best interest, I wonder what are the reasons for not allowing my transition? Is it because they expect I would want to use the womens restrooms? Would the uproar from women complaining about a man in the womens restroom poison the atmosphere for any TS women in the future?

But what if I instead just continue to use the mens restroom? As part of my passive activism, one thing I was hoping for was that as my appearance became more feminine as I transitioned, at some point, men would start complaining about me using the mens restroom. But does my use of the mens restroom as I continue my transition poison the “Need” for a TS to use the womens restroom, giving employees a saber in the bathroom wars – “If he can use the mens restroom, then why can’t she?”

So how do I continue my transition into the person I am, no longer hiding a part of myself at work? Does my gender expression throw a monkey wrench into the TS community work to make corporate America more accepting to the TS?

Should I give up on furthering my transition, so that TSes can have a better chance at their own transition? Must I give up on a fully inclusive “gender expression” and just live with a gender expression that is limited to only those living a “full time gender presentation”?

So, can a gender bender with his or her own unique gender expression coexist at a company whose definition of gender expression is limited to only those that are transsexuals? Can transsexuals accept a gender bender not living a binary gender expression at their place of employment? Any opinions?

Deanna (more…)

God Is A Bullet, Have Mercy On Us Everyone

And on the third day, God created the Remington bolt action rifle so that Man could fight the dinosaurs. And the homosexuals. Amen. Amen.

As all good Christians know, God created the world and the universe 10,000 years ago (give or take a few weeks,  allowing for leap years and work stoppages) but He waited until after He got done killing all of the dinosaurs and the unicorns before He created America, the greatest country there will ever be. Amen.

For God so loved America that He allowed Americans to upgrade the lowly muzzle-loading musket with laser sights and  pistol grips and cop-killing bullets and extended clips because, if man is truly going to evolve, he needs enough precision rapid-fire stopping power to weed out the weak… and possibly a few onlookers who aren’t quick enough to take cover. Natural selection, y’all.

Now if you didn’t already know all of this, Sarah Palin (who, as a shooter, couldn’t hit water if she fell out of a boat) is here to remind us that God would be very unhappy with us if we screwed up and maybe start restricting the availability of cheap high-powered easily obtainable weaponry:

“How important it is, for the [AZ victims] sake, for America’s sake, that we do not allow the evil acts of one mentally deranged murderer [to] change America’s way of life. We must not allow this tragedy to stifle our constitutionally protected rights, including our Second Amendment rights. Beware of what’s coming. I really do believe that God has shed his grace on thee. We can’t blow it. We can’t allow an atrophy of the foundation that is America, that is so exceptional.”

And God will only shed his grace on us (thee and me) for the low low price of an occasional nine year-old girl “freedom sacrifice”. That alone is what makes us exceptional in God’s eyes.

Bless His heart.

~ God Is A Bullet courtesy of Johnette Napolitano
~ “Couldn’t hit water…” courtesy of Tommy Lasorda

My Run for U.S. Senate New York 2012

Dear Fellow Democrat: The laws passed by even a Democratically controlled Congress have fallen way short due to undue corporate influence. Examples include giving $250 for a Medicare doughnut hole recipient that is hundreds or even thousands of dollars short of helping seniors pay for their medication. My incumbent opponet even voted against the safe importation of prescription drugs due to undue influence by the Pharmaceutical industry. I have personal stakes in what goes on for the next few weeks, months and years. I am a small business owner with ever increasing regulations, a father of a multiply-disabled daughter that needs a stable public school environment, a taxpayer that finds it increasingly expensive to pay bills and worry about how much I have to pay quarterly and at tax time, and the concerns that New York and other states could default based on growing fiscal debt by government at the expense of the lower tax brackets making up the difference. Teachers and paraprofessionals starting pay can be improved, yet school administrators and some other government bureaucrats take it all the way to the bank while the economy tanks. We see news stories of people collecting pensions while still working and other horrendous examples of corruption at the expense of taxpayers. Doctors are singled out for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and though whie there are cases of this, many more cases exist of recipients who milk the system of millions of dollars fraudulently. The bottom line is that there are no cookie-cutter solutions for everything. It will take a combination of solutions like reigning in outlandish military budgets and people taking better care of themselves. The health insurance industry should be non-profit and more highly regulated and the runaway cost of tuition needs major reforms. Alternative energy development supplemented by existing natural gas drilling is o.k.; hydro-fracking and risking permanent damage to New York and other states natural aquaphors should never be granted no matter how enticing the money waved by gas and oil lobbyists. My incumbent opponent is open to “safe” hydrofracking. We can’t afford to wait another 6 years after this U.S. Senate seat goes to an incumbent, Governor-appointed career-minded politician. Smiling, appealing and having a law bckground is not what we need for New York or this country right now. Balancing fiscal responsibility with aggressive progressive initiatives is what we need right now. Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and passing health care for 911 responders after almost a decade right before a Republican changeover is nothing to brag about. We need to radically change trade agreements and bring jobs back to this country so we can end the 99’ers, 199’ers and 299’+ers pain and suffering. I am asking for your support with $10, $20, $50 or $100 donations. I am Dr. Scott Noren running for the 6 year U.S. Senate seat in 2012 here in New York. Go to my landing page http://www.aggressiveprogressives.comand then to to read, volunteer and donate. There is a donate tab in the page that goes through Act Blue. We can make this happen because what starts here can be spread to other States to create a force that will combat corporate influence in Congress. Do not donate if you work in the following industries: Banking, Gas/Oil, Pharmaceuticals, and Health Insurance. Thats’ just my way of doing things and I want to keep this campaign on the right track. G-d Bless and thanks for your help. Sincerely, Scott Noren DDS U.S. Senate Candidate, 2012 New York Paid for by Dr. Noren for U.S. Senate Campaign finance law requires us to collect and report your occupation and employer. In some cases, without this information we will be forced to refund your contribution. To donate you must confirm: 1. I am a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien. 2. This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution. 3. I am making this contribution with my own personal credit card and not with a corporate or business credit card or a card issued to another person. 4. I am not a federal contractor. 5. I am at least eighteen years old.

Governor Kasich to African-American Legislators: “I Don’t Need Your People”

Disturbed by new Republican Governor John Kasich’s failure to appoint ANY minorities to his cabinet, the Ohio Black Caucus met with him today and offered to help him find qualified minority candidates.

The Governor’s response? Per State Senator Nina Turner(D-Cleveland), it was “I don’t need your people.” When the press asked Kasich’s office about this, they didn’t deny it, just said that Kasich was referring to Democrats, not blacks.

For the first time since 1963, Ohio has an all-white cabinet and a governor who is proud of the same. Of course, former Fox News host and Lehman Brothers VP Kasich has appointed several former Lehman Bros folks to his administration, but he doesn’t need black people, oh, no. It rings so hollow. The last Republican gubernatorial nominee, crazy as a bedbug as he was, was Ken Blackwell. Black as the Ace of Spades, he was, but Kasich can’t find any qualified African-Americans for his cabinet?

As Han Solo and lots of other people in Star Wars said, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Our fascist governor is not content to staff Ohio government with Wall Street looters, he’s playing the race card to rally the ignorant white trash hillbillies to his cause! In a state with a rather large African-American population.

Powder keg, anyone? This story won’t go away. Ohio will soon experience interesting times. As Kasich and the Republican-dominated state legislature move to slash Medicaid funding and fire as many government workers as they can, you know, police officers, firefighters, public school teachers, and the like in order to pad the pockets of the rich, they also invoke the specter of white supremacy!

Not to mention slashing funding for college education. Where’s Ohio State? How many students are there?

Even George W Bush wasn’t THAT stupid. Look for people taking to the streets in Columbus and Cleveland. Soon.

Paul Ryan On Limited Government

In my last two posts I reviewed the deficit reduction aspects of Paul Ryan’s Republican response to the SOTU. But Ryan also placed considerable emphasis on the idea of “limited government” in his response. In this post, I want to evaluate what he had to say on this theme.

So I’d like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government. . . .

We believe, as our founders did, that “the pursuit of happiness” depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

I find myself in complete agreement with this position; but I think it raises a very big issue, and that issue is: in exactly what ways ought the Government to be limited? Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t tell us that in a completely clear way. It leaves it up to us to figure it out. So let’s see what Congressman Ryan thinks about this issue?

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

There are a lot of factors that determine the effectiveness of Government. It’s pretty clear that Government won’t be effective if it’s badly led and managed. So, since 1977 we’ve seen that Government wasn’t very effective in many of its functions when managed by Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes. I wonder why. Could it be that these Republican Presidents wanted Government to be effective in the various areas of Government activity established by legislation they disapproved of?

It’s also clear, that Government won’t be effective if the people chosen to lead intend for it to perform poorly. So, when the Republicans have appointed Secretaries of Labor who were anti-labor, it’s not surprising that the Labor Department performed poorly. Nor is it surprising that when they appointed people to head the FCC, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the work of these agencies suffered. Or take the EPA, the Republicans keep appointing EPA Directors who are opposed to environmental regulation. Clearly, they are there to stop the Government from performing not, to manage its enforcing the law.

As to the Government having too many tasks to do anything very well, it’s quite clear that the size of the Government is not as important as the size of the units of Government performing the tasks it needs to perform, and as the communications among units that need to coordinate to perform tasks well. Also, whether units perform well is a function of the resources available to the units performing particular tasks.

For years Republicans and, to a lesser degree, Democrats, have been trying to shrink the Government, so that much of its work, has to be contracted out to the private sector. Of course, this introduces incentive problems, and also communication problems which interfere with both efficiency and effectiveness. There is no evidence that this policy of shrinking Government’s permanent civil service employees, and contracting out to the private sector has been either less expensive for the Government, or more effective than Government operations in the 1950s and 1960s, which used many more civil service employees, and fewer private contractors to perform Government’s work. In fact, it’s likely that contracting out has been far more expensive and less effective than the old way of doing things, because private contractors have a tendency to stretch out work, and continue it as long as they can so that their billings are extended.

In any event, the size of the Government doesn’t necessarily correlate with effective performance. We can see this by comparing national governments across the World. Many nations spent more, and some far more, as a percentage of GDP than the 34.6% the United States spent on Federal, State, and local Government in 2007; for example: France; Sweden, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland, the UK, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland. Arguably all of these Governments performed more effectively than the US Government in that year. But, even if you don’t believe that, it’s hard to deny that they performed at least as well.

On the other hand, many nations that spent more on Government as a percent of GDP than the US, performed much more poorly than we did. My point is that there is no clear, strong, correlation between nations whose Governments are obviously effective, and nations with a particular size of Government, and certainly there is no empirical evidence that smaller Governments work better than larger ones.

Finally, the size of Government, viewed in terms of Government spending as a percent of GDP, is not at an all time high relative to the rest of the economy. It was larger in WW2 for one thing. For another, its recent increase is due to the effects of the recession and additional Government expenditures made to combat it.

Trust in the Government may be at or near an all time low, but that is due to the failures of the Bush Administration, the crash of 2008, and the Federal bailout of the banks without a corresponding bailout of Main Street. That is, the Federal Government hasn’t performed very well, in large part due to the role of the Republicans, including Congressman Ryan, in opposing the passage of Government spending sufficient to create full employment, and in supporting the continued bailout of the banks, the payment of undeserved bonuses to FIRE sector personnel, and in opposing investigations of the mortgage and accounting control frauds that have put so many out of their homes.

This lack of trust, isn’t due to too much Government action, and won’t be fixed by Mr. Ryan’s preferred policies of ineffective, or no regulation of the FIRE sector and fiscal austerity. On the other hand, it may be fixed by an effective Federal Job Guarantee program, a Federal Revenue Sharing program saving state and local jobs, a payroll tax holiday for employers and employees including Federal reimbursement of the Social Security account, ending the wars in the Middle East quickly, and passing a Medicare for All bill

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

What planet does Congressman Ryan live on? The Democrats have done very little to increase the size of Government. The measure of that is that Federal Government spending as a percent of GDP is still extremely low compared to National Government expenditures by the nations mentioned earlier, and has only risen about 5 percentage points from Bush Administration levels.

In addition, the President, much to his discredit, has done all he could to keep Government expenditures revenue neutral or revenue positive, beyond expenditures for defense, and increases in social safety net expenditures resulting from the recession. His health care reform bill is a disgraceful attempt to bailout the insurance companies without taking them over, because he would not entertain Medicare for All.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative – not political clout – determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise – but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy.

The history of America is largely the history of extending initiative from the economic sector to politics and gaining advantage in both sectors. We’ve seen that with the railroads, the steel and oil industries, coal, the mass media, telecommunications, the software industry, the FIRE sector, and most other industries that have scaled the economic heights in this country. There is no way to separate economic initiative from its extension into politics. The idea that these two can be separated is a myth.

So, unfortunately, as much as we would like to believe that a company’s success in America has nothing to do with politics. It, most often, is intertwined with either favorable political conditions, political influence, or both. Congressman Ryan knows that very well because he, and his Republican and Democratic colleagues, are the recipients of attempts to fix the political system, so that certain private sector businesses can profit. So, I don’t know whether Congressman Ryan thinks that’s the “spirit of initiative” or not. But I think it’s just as much, if not more, about buying political clout.

Ryan goes on to blame Washington and Wall Street for decisions that caused the financial crisis. I certainly agree; But I also think that the wrong decisions made by Washington include de-regulating of Wall Street so that the spirit of “free enterprise” reigned supreme. That happened during the Clinton Administration under the influence of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, and then the Bush Administration saw to it that the SEC would not enforce the inadequate regulations that still remained. Unregulated “free enterprise” produced unprecedented accounting control frauds and bubbles in the Real Estate markets which eventually led to the crash of 2008. Then the Obama Administration bailed out the banksters/fraudsters and until now has refused to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, while moaning about how we have to look forward and not backward.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan is responding to all this by telling us that we need to back off regulation of the private sector, and that will make everything all right. But anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that the only thing that will clean up the banking system, and restore public faith in it, is cleaning up the frauds and punishing the people responsible. Why isn’t Paul Ryan calling for that if he wants people to have faith in “free enterprise” again? He needs to keep in mind that there’s no freedom without responsibility and accountability, and that his prescription, and that of the Republicans is to put responsibility and accountability aside, and to let working people bear the burden of the failings of the Wall Street FIRE sector and the corrupt Congresses and Administrations that failed, and still fail, to regulate them.

Finally, Congressman Ryan’s plea for a return to limited Government would be far more credible if he were as much concerned about limitations on the size and intrusiveness of Government when it comes to privacy, civil liberties, rights of habeas corpus, protections against torture, and the right to a speedy trial, as he is about the non-existent rights of businessmen to subvert markets through fraudulent activity hiding beneath the skirts of the ideal of “free enterprise. He would also be much more credible in his concern for liberty, if he were concerned that “necessitous men, are not free men,” and were willing, in the interests of liberty, to strengthen, instead of weaken, the social safety net by making its provisions as generous as the safety net in other civilized nations. He would, further, be still more credible, if his concern for liberty were great enough that he would support Medicare for All, so that employees in the United States would no longer be tied to jobs that they don’t like, and were free to move to other employment without having to worry about interrupting or degrading their health care coverage.

He would, further, be even more credible, if his concern for liberty extended to providing a Federal Job Guarantee to everyone who wanted to work, so that they had the freedom to do so. And he would, finally, be even more credible that that, if he recognized that liberty is not about small sized Government or big Government, but is, instead, about Government that is the right size, to do those things that will maximize the liberty of as many people as possible in our nation. It’s about recognizing that the liberty of individuals is often in conflict, and that you can’t maximize liberty by giving some people (big business people and FIRE sector people) complete economic liberty from any reasonable rules, when that means removing or restricting the liberty of many or most of the other people in the United States, by chaining them to the wheel of extreme economic insecurity.

Government does need to be limited, but only a simpleton can fail to recognize that its limits have less to do with its size, and much more to do with its having processes that are just and fair and maximize liberty, rather than processes which enshrine arbitrariness, favoritism, exposure to political influence, and special favors for one group, placing them above the law. If Congressman Ryan understood that it is not about size, but about justice and activities that maximize liberty, then he would be worth listening to when he talks about limited Government, and his Party would gain the trust and honor among the American people that it has not had since the time of Teddy Roosevelt, and before that Abraham Lincoln. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that understanding to happen. It’s just not in the DNA of the 21st Century Republican Party.

(Cross-posted at All Life Is Problem Solving and Fiscal Sustainability).

Welcome to the Garden Party

“Sir, are you a singer-songwriter?”

The question came from a Greeneville High School senior who shall remain anonymous because I don’t want to embarrass him. We were at a play-group reunion. Last time I saw him, 12 years ago, he was sporting a Batman cape.

“Now think about it,” I replied, “if I really looked like a singer-songwriter, would you call me ‘sir’?”

Batman didn’t miss a beat. “Well, maybe if you were knighted, like Elton John.”

Must be the hair. The fact that I’ve let mine grow long again probably made me look a tad musician-ish during our recent trip from Oregon back to Tennessee.

Yet, could it also be that some aura of latent talent surrounds me at midlife? Hmm … I do occasionally make up songs. Here’s one inspired by a play-group gathering back when the Dark Knight was in diapers. It’s sung to the tune of Ricky Nelson’s Garden Party.

“I went to a baby party. All the babies were there. There was a baby in tights and a baby in blue shoes and one with a whole lotta hair…”

That garden of tots has grown into a fine patch of young men and women. My little ditty would sound silly to those up-and-coming superheroes. But when I was a new dad, I was fond of it. Yours truly sometimes entertains himself even as he tests the limits of his audience.

By some accounts that’s what Ricky Nelson did in 1971, when he performed at a rock ‘n’ roll revival at Madison Square Garden. Part of the crowd was seemingly disgruntled when Nelson walked on stage with long hair and bellbottoms and sang a few of his newer country-tinged tunes. Evidently, some audience members didn’t want the old rock ‘n’ roll genre to broaden.

The music world back then was about as divided as today’s political climate. Labels like “conservative” and “progressive” are worn like badges of membership in exclusive clubs, similar to the way musical genres like “country” and “rock” once separated subcultures.

Having written op-ed columns for newspapers in Oregon and Tennessee, I’m familiar with a range of audiences. I’ve called myself both a progressive and a conservative, even as others brandish these labels like battle flags.

Political commentary may be about where the music industry was some 40 years ago — stuck in a rut and in need of transformation. Back at that time, a number of singer-songwriters took the first baby steps to bridge audiences, simultaneously climbing music charts that had previously been separated.

Could we see a similar crossover with politics? Many citizens don’t feel at home in today’s narrow partisan clubs. We want change, not civil war. In a world dominated by voices like Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart, we’d be pleased to hear from folks who play to broader audiences. Think Glen Campbell and John Denver.

I know, fashion has shifted. But kids of all ages now sample styles from different generations. And it would be refreshing if elements of that earlier folk fusion could be recycled in a new political form. Commentary that bridges progressive and conservative camps could help create a social climate that saves lives and money.

My friend R.C. — a fellow play-group dad — would like to see more of that kind of discourse. R.C. didn’t want me to use his full name, for the same reason he uses aliases when posting comments on the seven newspaper websites he reads every morning. He’s concerned his opinions might interfere with employment prospects.

Nevertheless, he gives a lot of thought to public affairs. After receiving partisan e-mails from conservative in-laws in Minnesota, R.C. replied with some verses inspired by Dr. Seuss.

“Red state, blue state. My state, your state. My state red state. Your state blue state.”

R.C. shared those Seussical lines when taking issue with his in-laws. He allowed that Tennessee is more conservative than Minnesota. In some ways, that’s good. Yet, he also says it hasn’t prevented Tennessee from having a higher bankruptcy rate, higher murder rate, higher abortion rate and higher divorce rate.

Is R.C. a progressive? On some fronts, sure. I know he’s a conservationist (he opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), and he believes America should provide her citizens with a baseline of public health coverage. But on the fiscal front, R.C. speaks a language that many lefties don’t understand.

“Nobody would want me to be president,” he said between bites of finger food. “But I think I could balance the budget.”

Could America’s leadership be seeded with folks like R.C., independents who are as frugal as they are green and humane in setting priorities?

I’m sending copies of this column to members of our play-group. Maybe it will provoke R.C. to come out of the closet and become a full-fledged commentator. Maybe our group will launch a two-fisted political movement that combines the best of the right and left. Call it the Garden Party.

Dreams of midlife revival abound. But mostly, I’m betting on Batman.

The Tennesean ran this as a guest column on Sunday, January 30, 2011.  I’ve cross-posted it with the original title at and

Late Night: Journalism is a Meritocracy

A stack of newspapers, in this case the LA Times.
Photo: Daniel R. Blume on Flickr

Fox contributor Richard Benedetto thinks Dana Milbank’s February moratorium on Sarah Palin betrays the noble ideals of journalism.

Let me repeat that. FOX NEWS.COM CONTRIBUTOR Richard Benedetto thinks Dana Milbank’s February moratorium on Sarah Palin betrays the noble ideals of journalism.


Holding back information is the antithesis of what journalism is all about. Declaring a blanket moratorium on mentioning a certain newsmaker falls under the definition of censorship.

In Dean Clark parlance, let the ideas — all ideas — compete freely and openly. The best ones will eventually win. But singling out someone for non-coverage because we don’t like them or don’t agree with their views violates that basic tenet, whether it is conservative Palin or some outspoken figures on the liberal left such as Michael Moore or Al Sharpton.

Culled entirely from links surrounding his op-ed, here are some things currently winning the glorious competition of ideas Benedetto thinks we have going on right now:

Gays Escalate Assault on Chick-Fil-A

A Nice, Wholesome Hooters Girl for the Kids

DANA PERINO: How Obama Could Use the State of the Union to Put Some Spark Back Into His ‘Marriage’ With America

A scantily clad waitress role model, gays besieging fast food, and Dana Perino refusing to believe that the president’s just not that into her. Those don’t constitute the antithesis of what journalism is all about. Those are fine. What will cause the entire structure of the world to cave in on itself is Dana Milbank deciding not to breathlessly quote whatever ill-spelt nonsense Sarah Palin regurgitates into the chirping mouths of her Twitter followers. THAT is a bridge too far.

Benedetto seems to believe that he and his fellow Fox-bots have jobs because their ideas won a free and fair competition for people’s attention. Because if journalism is a meritocracy, in which only the best ideas get a hearing, and he’s getting a hearing, well, then his ideas must be the best! And Dana Milbank must not be allowed to question the formula lest it flatten the whole house of cards.

For what it’s worth, I actually appreciate Milbank’s acknowledgment, entirely too rare in journalism, that the choices journalists make about which stories to cover are just that: choices. That those choices set an agenda and direct the public conversation and those who have a large microphone do, in fact, have influence and can make decisions about how to use it.

However, Milbank’s moratorium comes across overall as just a blatant, link-whoring attempt to get anybody alive right now to give a tinker’s curse what Dana Milbank thinks.  American journalism would be much better served by other types of self-policing, like a ban on round-the-clock weather coverage every time there’s an inch of snow in Chicago.

What would YOU like to see a news moratorium on?


[Ed. Note: Please welcome Allison to the FDL family. You may know her as Athenae. Watertiger will be taking a break from her weekly Late Night slot, but assures us that she will be back and has helped us to convince Allison to pick up the Monday Late Night slot.]

Arizona’s New White Panther Party: Money & (Anchor) Baby Hate

Three weeks ago I woke up and started organizing my thoughts to write this post. I had no more than written the title when news started coming in hot, first on Twitter and then local news channels, that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot in Tucson. In a strange dichotomy, it was both an event which brought the ugly underbelly of hate in my state into even better focus than it had been before, which is the subject of this post, as well as an event which put the desire to write it, and the moment for it, on the back burner. With the filing in the Arizona legislature of twin bills at the end of this week attacking the automatic citizenship granted to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants under the 14th Amendment, it seemed like time to return to the matter.

Specifically, we are talking about the following Arizona Legislative measures:

– House Bill 2561 and Senate Bill 1309 would define children as citizens of Arizona and the U.S. if at least one of their parents was either a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent U.S. resident and therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

– House Bill 2562 and Senate Bill 1308 would seek permission from Congress to set up a system so states can create separate birth certificates for children who meet the new definition of a citizen and those who do not.

These are the provisions engendered by the hateful right wing “anti-anchor baby” effort. Arizona is, as it was with the previous “immigration papers please” law enacted in SB 1070, on the cutting edge of the national anti-immigrant and hatred of brown movement. While Arizona may be the test lab, it is certainly not necessarily the originator for these discriminatory and bigoted efforts. The “father” of the measures, leader and vocal mouthpiece for them in the Arizona legislature is State Senator Russell Pearce, newly crowned President of the state senate. Pearce worked off the template written by national movement conservative Kris Kobach for SB 1070, and the attempt to blow up the 14th Amendment birth citizenship guarantee is also being pushed by national extreme right wing movement conservatives such as Rand Paul and David Vitter.  [cont’d] (more…)