Friday, May 27, 2005

Save the Next Waltz For Me

I'm not going to blog anymore tonight. I have to be up early. Tomorrow, I'll be away from the keyboard all day. I'll be back to blogging on Sunday.

I still have a lot of fallout to wrap up on the Tennessee Waltz story, and some other items piling up in the Daily Blog bookmark folder. Hopefully, Sunday will be catch-up day.

But I have to warn readers that getting into these kinds of "pile up" situations is what leads to blog hiatus for me. Pressure to perform and all. I'll do my best, but no expectations, OK?

To the reader to whom I promised a follow-up to the "cheap shot" post, I haven't forgotten. It will be taken care of Sunday.

Since when do bond hearings take four hours? That's how long State Senator John Ford's was. Seems really unusual.

I finally got a chance to read today's Commercial Appeal. Very nice and concise round-up, though it suffers from the "day late, dollar short" syndrome. They devoted four pages to the story and covered a lot of ground. They even addressed the "Was Herenton Arrested?" rumor. The day's editorial was about the scandal, which impressed me. Normally editorials run a day or two behind events. Even the Letters column was about Thursday's events, though it obviously came from their email pile.

Only quibbles? The front page had one of those old-style huge banner headlines that yelled "STUNG." Another quarter of the page was a picture of John Ford in his car, driving into the Federal building. Chris Peck, if you're going to re-invent your newspaper perhaps you should examine old traditions like this one. I'd've preferred a normal headline, smaller picture and a quick point-by-point breakdown, to know what's in the paper. But that's just me, Mr. Former Regular Reader.

NOT ONE WORD ABOUT THE BLOGOSPHERE ANYWHERE! It was a State legislator, Representative Stacey Campfield who broke the story on his blog, at 7AM. Once the story surfaced around 9AM, blogs were boiling with reports. Television led the way from 10AM until just past lunch, but from then until newstime and for the rest of the day, the blogosphere was your best, most comprehensive and most up-to-date source. There were several folks live-blogging and doing updates all day. And that includes this blog, dammit. The Commercial Appeal's oversight was either a snub of the blogosphere, mighty damned arrogant, or just plain dumb. The CA had nothing on their website until past lunchtime. Nothing. (Although, to be fair, by evening time, they had a good basic story up, with charts and links to related stories. They also had a forum up and running. Modest but not bad.)

My other quibble? On the front page, in their list of the indictees and their positions, they did not identify Senator Kathryn Bowers as the Chairwoman of the Shelby County Democratic Party. There's no way I'll believe that omission was accidental. It's too important. You don't learn about her chairing until the jump to page six, and even then of the two mentions one is rather coy although the other is clear.

Jeez. Sorry. I got carried away, didn't I? Time to go.

One last note: I'm proud to announce that I will be guest-blogging next week over at Knoxville's Say Uncle blog! I'm deeply flattered by the invite, let me tell you. I'll be posting some goodies from the HB archives, cross-posting some current HB posts and tossing in a few Say Uncle exclusives for the East Tennessee and gun enthusiast audience over there. My co-guest-bloggers are Andrew from Pathetic Earthlings and Gunner from No Quarters. Fine company!

Wish me luck and maybe come on over to give me encouragement.

If you've enjoyed what you're reading please consider hitting the PayPal tipjar up on the left top of the blog. I would sure appreciate it.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Thank a veteran. Drive safely. Drink responsibly. Legislate legally. See ya Sunday.
Nashville, We Have a Problem

Part of John Ford's bond restrictions requires him to stay in West Tennessee and only go to Nashville for his Ethics Committee appearances. He's also not allowed to be around his fellow indictees. That includes newly elected State Senator Kathryn Bowers.

Ford cannot appear in any special or regular sessions of the Tennessee State Senate! Unless, of course, the judge decides to modify the conditions of his release, which Federal investigators are quite likely to fight. Or Ford resigns, which is unlikely as it would cut off his cash supply. Or the Senate votes to expel him and a new election is called.

That means that Tennessee State Senate District 29 is effectively without representation in the Tennessee General Assembly. Who does that affect?

Take a look. (Big map that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.) That's a whole lot of Shelby County. Can't wait to see this play out.
He's Not Kidding Is He?

From Blogging for Bryant. Marshalls reportedly only collected two guns from Ford, both from his office. That's it? They didn't check his houses? Somehow, I had Ford figured for more guns than two. They always seem so at-hand when he decides to wave them around.

That's State Senator John Ford's bail, according to the radio. Just $20,000; a token. The judge cited his extensive family ties and no previous history of violence. That should be no recorded legal history, as the media is filled with stories of his exploits. He has threatened State Troopers and has pulled guns. Ask MLG&W. The fact that the local police constantly give him the "wink and a nod" when people try to report his hijinks helped him, too.

He has other conditions, like wearing an ankle bracelet. He can only go to work, home and church [cough, cough]. The judge required that Ford pick one house as his main residence. An enterprising citizen-lawyer should see which one he picks and whether or not it is in his district!

He can no longer associate with the people indicted with him. He can't even leave West Tennessee. He can only go to Nashville for his ethics hearings. That means one less Democratic vote now in the Senate.

More later when the news hits the web, or the television. Cause the paper won't have it until Saturday.
Missed it by That Much

Sorry for the light blogging today, but real life needs some work after yesterday's marathon.

Jamey makes an ironic point about the timing of the Tennessee Waltz scandal. You just know a lot of television news directors and general managers are angry.
Boo Hoo Hoo

This New York Times article looks at the serious decline in movie attendance this year that even Star Wars hasn't arrested. The article hits most of the reasons I hardly go anymore, but I'd like add some of my own thoughts.

One thing they miss is the quality of audiences today. I simply can't go to evening showings any more. Loud, rude, stupid people who have cells phones and conversations, who talk with their friends right through the movie and then have to ask what they missed, have ruined it. I like to get lost in the movie, to give in to the seduction, and these idiots keep yanking me out of the experience. Then there are the perverts. I went to see Interview With the Vampire, back in my see-every-movie-playing days, in a very crowded theater and the old creep next to me kept pushing his leg up against mine, no matter how much I moved to avoid it. Sadly, I didn't have the strength to yell, "Cut it out, you freak!"

Even afternoon showings aren't immune. I went to see some hard-R horror movie and the couple across the aisle had their five year old there! I was stunned, as the movie scared the kid and they kept having to reassure him until he finally got tired and fell asleep. Then there are the people who walk into an empty theater and have to sit right near you, apparently afraid to be alone in another part of the room.

Anyway, I do try to make a point to see certain movies on the big screen: science fiction, which frequently demands the big screen to appreciate the special effects and the spaceships; super-hero movies, for the same reasons, like Spiderman, the new Batman Begins and Superman Returns, The Incredibles; and certain foreign movies like Zhang Yimou's Hero or House of Flying Daggers, which are such works of cinematic art. Romantic comedies, dramas and suchlike can be seen at home just fine, but sometimes seeing something forty feet high by ninety feet wide is the only way to go. For example, the scene in Hero where the two women fighters battle it out in the forest and the entire forest -- every leaf of every tree and all the leaves falling like rain around them -- quietly turn from gold to magenta. That one shot is so achingly beautiful it took my breath away, almost brought me to tears. Literally! Seeing it later on the small screen wasn't quite the same.

But most movies don't require that kind of experience. And a lot of movies I'd like to see -- foreign and independent -- aren't on screen long enough for me to get there. Like Ong Bak, which only played a week in town and was gone. If I can't get the money together or the time, or I can't be there at the start time, I just have to miss out.

It's true, when the article talks about having a home system. I only have a twenty inch screen, but it's good enough for my small apartment; and I have a top-notch stereo system to tie in with it. I finally have a quality enough home setup that I don't have to fool with crowds and for 90 percent of movies I'd like to watch it's more than adequate. Plus I get audio commentary tracks and extra/delected/extended/bonus scenes! Some movies just don't make sense until you can listen to the director's commentary to find out what they were trying to get at. Donnie Darko, Songs From the Second Floor, Prime, A Snake of June, Hero, I'm looking at you.

There are times I don't want to see a new movie, but a familiar and loved one, like Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Wallace & Grommit, The Rocketeer, Battle Royale, or Elephant Man. I don't want new, I want comfort. I skipped the VHS thing, but with DVDs and the home setup, it's easy to scratch that itch now.

But the biggest thing, and why I watch almost entirely just independent and foreign movies these days, is that Hollywood produces CRAP! I spent the best part of last year trying to find funny comedies. I failed! Failed?! Anchorman, Harold and Kumar, Napoleon Dynamite, Team America: World Police, none were especially funny. (Anchorman was really bad.) I prefer the smaller scale action movies from Hong Kong to the bloated monstrosities Hollywood releases. Too many good ideas get rewritten to suit the egos of the stars involved. And too many old movies are being remade, frequently pointlessly.

Ah, don't get me started. I'm just glad to have Midtown Video right around the corner. They've made a real committment in the past couple of years to appeal to DVD viewers like me, and I appreciate. You should give them your business. Tell them I sent you. I'll also plug Black Lodge video in Cooper-Young while I'm at it. They cater to fringe, psychotronic, rare old, anime and oddball movie lovers. Great people. Give them your business, too

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My Brane Hertz

Welcome to readers coming here from around the blogosphere. If you are looking for the big post on the Tennessee Waltz scandal, just keep scrolling down. There's a handful of update posts in between.

As for me, I've been at this all day. I'm logging off, then going to watch a movie and eat dinner. Then play with the cat a while. I might check back in later before bed, but don't be surprised if I don't.

What an incredible day. I get the sense that Tennessee's political landscape is about to go through broad, fundamental changes. Are more indictments coming? Will Speaker of the House Naifeh be forced to take another look at the wash-water weak "ethics reform" he passed just a month ago? Will the ethical antics of other politicians get closer and more sustained scrutiny? Will Harold Ford, Jr. withdraw from the Tennessee '06 Senate race? Will the septic tank of political corruption that is Memphis be drained, even partially?

See y'all tomorrow!

SIGH I settled in with Team America: World Police (moderately funny, but the panther joke was truly a gutbuster) and then, right around 10PM, gunshots! About two dozen just outside my apartment. I waited a few minutes then stuck my head out. No one; no movement; no other sounds; nothing. Weird.

About five - ten minutes later the cops pull up and the woman who lives at the other end of the building comes out to talk to them with a wild story about being jumped as she pulled in to the parking lot. She claimed two men tried to kidnap her. They fired and she fired back! Then they drove off. Wow. And some of the bullets went through the home next door, where a lot of children live. That mother was very freaked out.

Except that I had my apartment door open. I didn't hear any yelling nor any cars zooming away. Neighbor woman and her boyfriend are part of the drug trade around here, though.

Midtown Memphis. Gotta love it.
Carefully Crafted Self-Serving Hooey

About 3PM this afternoon I got an email press statement from the Shelby County Republican Party. I repeat it here for you:
Legislators' actions, if proven true, could cost taxpayers
$1.2 million

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bill Giannini
Cell: (901) 601-6339
Cell #2: (901) 326-9791

The news today that two current and one former Shelby County
State Senators were arrested and indicted on charges of
corruption and bribery are a shock to us and to the rest of
the state. We applaud the FBI and other law enforcement
agencies for their diligence in protecting the public
interest from lawmakers who abuse the public trust.

It is possible that if these individuals are convicted they
will vacate their offices and eventually force special

Just a few days ago, Kathryn Bowers, who doubles as Chairman
of the local Democrat Party, was sworn in the State Senate
after Roscoe Dixon accepted a position as the Chief
Administrative Officer for Mayor Wharton with a salary of
$101,856 per year.

The election to replace Dixon has cost taxpayers over $300,
000 and this will be followed by a special election to fill
Bowers’ old state house seat which may also cost as much as

Now, new Special elections in Districts 33 and 29 will cost
an additional $600,000 if Ford and Bowers vacate their
offices.. That would bring the cost to the taxpayers of the
actions of indicted Senators Bowers, Ford, and Dixon to 1.2
million dollars.

If these allegations are proven true, then these officials
will face the consequences for their actions, which may
include jail time and fines. The taxpayers would
unfortunately end up absorbing the costs of these misdeeds.


A copy of this release is available online and may be linked
freely at:
What a load. You'll notice, first of all, that they didn't mention Barry Myers, "protege" of Roscoe Dixon. He is a Shelby Countian. Was it because he's not a legislator? Well, why didn't they mention the other legislators? Was it because one of them, Chris Newton, is a Republican? Is it because he has nothing to do with Shelby County? Please....

Avoiding uncomfortable yet obvious points just to score some political points may be a method as old as the hills in politics and spin, but it's still a dumb thing to do in this day and age.

Not to mention both political parties having the State and Counties paying for their primary elections. Unlike general elections for actual offices, these are purely party matters and should properly be handled by and paid for by the parties themselves. If the doofs at the SCRP were truly serious, they'd being working on that. They don't and hence we know this is just partisan hooey.

Straight-forwardness is a virtue that Americans appreciate. So is taking your lumps and not being a bitch about it. Someone clue in the SCRP.

Let events work their course. The only Republican involved so far, Rep. Chris Newton, is widely viewed as a RINO closer to Democrats than his own party. Let him sink. This is going to cripple Democrats in Tennessee (and Harold Ford, Jr.) for months and years to come. Don't force it like this, or you risk blowing the advantages you're likely to gain.
Another Blogger Spots Something

Education blogger Kay Brooks spotted an odd bit of news about one of the Tennessee 7. It's a short read; head on over.

The Pesky Fly has a couple of posts on an interesting aspect of the Tennessee Waltz scandal. But I just checked two of the Memphis area's biggest liberal Democrat (uhh... progressive? uhhh...) websites -- blogs that post multiple times every day -- and neither one has a single word. Not Lean Left. Not Dark Bilious Vapors.

Not. One. Word.

I report, you conclude.
And It Begins

Already, the digging and poking and examination that is one of the positive hallmarks of blogospheric journalism is producing results. The TeamGOP blog has a pair of pearls.

First, they had an eyewitness at the courthouse when the first three defendants appeared for arraignment:
All three defendants walked in the courtroom handcuffed and each were arraigned separately. Senator Kathryn Bowers seemed somewhat confused and distraught. She said she did not have a lawyer there present with her and did not understand what was going on. She stated, “I don’t have nobody” to the judge. An older gentleman referring to himself as Ward Crutchfield’s law partner told the judge he would explain to Bowers what was going on. The judge agreed.

Next was Senator Crutchfield who walked in slumped and looking as if all the color had left his face leaving him “ashen.” Senator Crutchfield looked tired and broken,’s man in the room said he looked “destroyed.” Crutchfield was represented by attorney and Democrat heavyweight Bill Farmer.

State Representative Chris Newton appeared to be handling the situation the best. Newton was smiling, described as “jovial” and a “tad cocky” and was even seen winking at an unidentified female seated in the courtroom. Newton was represented by Attorney Howser.

All three were released on their own recognizance without posting a cent for bond.

Judge Brown wanted to know where the fourth defendant, State Senator John Ford, was since he was absent from the courtroom. One of the US Attorneys stood and said that under Federal Rules guidelines, Ford had been transferred to Memphis for his first appearance.

The judge said in his thirty years of legal practice he had not seen such a transfer before, but seemed to happily accept it. Before adjourning Judge Brown did ask about the 7th yet unidentified defendant who is reportedly going to be arrested soon and should he make himself “available” for anything later in the day. The US Attorneys told him there would be no more action today.
Note that they were arraigned less than five hours after arrest. Had that been you or me, we'd be held over the weekend for a court appearance on Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday.

And Ford was transferred to Memphis? That should be interesting....

In their other post, TeamGOP writes:
A quick read of the five count federal indictment against Tennessee Democrat State Senator John Ford, uncle to current US Congressman Harold Ford Jr., reads like something out of a John Grisham novel with current and former legislators and two “bag-men” indicted.

However there is one interesting part of the indictment that spans beyond public corruption and beyond bribery in Tennessee state government and beyond death threats to undercover FBI agents and right to Tennessee’s 2006 US Senate race with newly announced candidate Harold Ford Jr.

That small item that may have huge consequences is the location where John Ford made his alleged illicit deal and allegedly accepted a bribe, Miami, Florida.

According to the US v. John Ford indictment on page 4 paragraph 2 under “OVERT ACTS” for Count 1, John Ford made a deal on July 17, 2004 with undercover FBI agents in Miami, Florida that they would have to pay him $3000 to $5000 a month in order to buy the assistance from Ford they sought.

According to the US v. John Ford indictment on page 5 paragraph 10 under “OVERT ACTS” for Count 1, John Ford discussed the timing of proposed legislation and accepted a $5000 bribe from undercover FBI agents in Miami, Florida.

Perhaps this is just a coincidence or just bad luck, but John Ford’s brother, former Memphis Congressman Harold Ford Sr. now lives in Miami, Florida. According to several public records the father of US Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. resides on Fisher Island Drive in Miami Florida. This adds some new twists to an already bizarre story.
The Commercial Appeal did a big puff piece on Harold Ford, Senior's new life of leisure in Florida. I'll try to find it later. Hopefully, they can be counted on to follow this tidbit down.

These are but the first of what is likely to be a long string of blog posts from all over the Internet of sharp-eyed folks sharing what they know. Watching how this unfolds will tell us a lot about the future of political scandals.

INSTANT UPDATE Wow, that was fast. I have learned that Ford is being kept overnight in Federal custody for his hearing tomorrow, here in the River City. Finally, Ford has apparently met an official he can't threaten and get away with it! Please, please, please, let there be someone downtown in the right place at the right time with a camera or cam-phone.

INSTANT UPDATE UPDATE Watching the local news. Defendants Ford, Dixon and Myers went to the Federal Building for their hearing. Ford is being detained overnight. Dixon has reportedly blamed one the others for his problems. Roscoe Dixon is being represented by County Commissioner Walter Bailey! Wow.

Myers is being called the "bagman" in this scandal, at least locally. I hope folks in the local reporting pool start following all these links.

WPTY/24's Alexis Amorose saw John Ford in court and described his appearance as "slumped... upset." He was also in handcuffs and shackles. Shackles! Unbelievable.

Finally, just before 5PM Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton issued a statement to the media saying that Dixon is expected to resign his new position of administrative aide to Wharton before the end of the day. Wharton must be furious.

I cannot wait for WMC's political commentator and disgraced former Wharton aide, Susan Adler Thorp, to pontificate on this. Go ahead. The irony is thick like honey and every bit as sweet.

UPDATE 6:30PM Just heard WMC's Jason Miles say that John Ford is being held at the Federal facility in Mason. That's the West Tennessee Detention Center (section 3.1.4), owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.
Betting Pools

In his monster post on the Tennessee Waltz scandal, Bill Hobbs notes:
I'd wager that, within 30 days, [Senator John] Ford claims publically that racism is behind the probe.
Let's start a betting pool!

How long until Ford claims racism? Hobbs says thirty days. I'm guessing three. How 'bout you, dear readers and readerettes?

Let's start another Ford betting pool, this one centered on Young Master Harold. How long until he quietly withdraws from the Senate race? I'm thinking he'll tough this out a while. My guess is mid-August, when folks aren't watching news or paying attention to anything except summer.

If we have enough entries, I may set up a web page.
The Right Side of the Courtroom

Blogging for Bryant, the unofficial blog for the campaign of Ed Bryant for Frist's Senate seat, has a bit of grim irony about this morning's scandal:
Just an observation, but Ed Bryant is the only Republican '06 U.S. Senate candidate to have campaigned for Mary Ann McNeill in her recent race against Kathryn Bowers for the seat of retiring State Sen. Roscoe Dixon. Now both Bowers and Dixon are in handcuffs.

Ed Bryant as U.S. Attorney in Memphis prosecuted U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr. and other officials abusing their public office. Bryant as a member of the House Judiciary Committee also prosecuted President Clinton for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Two Thoughts for the Day

I'm dubbing our new scandal the Tennessee Waltz. This from the Feds' own name for it. Don't anyone dare to try to give it yet another lame -gate label! The waltz metaphor -- the dance and the negotiations involved in moving with a partner -- seems fitting.

As I'm winding down from this morning's flurry of activity (well... brain activity, anyway and it all settles in on me, I'm reminded of this from Monty Python:

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Seems grimly appropriate somehow.
Mayor Herenton and the Other Shoe

It's hard to do the Tennessee Waltz when you're waiting for the other shoe.

Remember how rumors began to swirl more than a year ago that Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton was the subject of an FBI investigation? Memphis Flyer political columnist Jackson Baker even ran a short item wondering if a Herenton resignation was at hand.

Then late last year, Mayor Herenton himself called a press conference in which he admitted he was the subject of an FBI investigation. The City Council even stopped their own investigation to let the FBI proceed. The subject was speculated to be connected to the complex bond deal that Memphis utility MLG&W had undertaken. The matter subsequently disappeared. Herenton hasn't said a word since.

Then on Thursday, the Tennesee Waltz scandal exploded. In very early reports like this, from the Nashville Business Journal, it was said that Mayor Herenton was also being arrested:
Four legislators arrested J. Holly Dolloff Nashville Business Journal Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested four legislators this morning as part of a purported sting operation. Those arrested were state Senators Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) and John Ford (D-Memphis) and representatives Katherine Bowers (D-Memphis) and Chris Newton (D-Benton.) Capital Hill insiders say the arrests are related to a bill the four sponsored, changing the distribution of excess property. The legislation's language calls for all surplus computer equipment not distributed to public schools to be disposed of through "qualified electronic recycling companies." Those same insiders, who asked not to be quoted, say a lobbyist working with the U.S. Attorney in Memphis offered payoffs to legislators in return for their support of the bill. Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton also has been arrested, and a total of 12 arrest warrants have been filed. The U.S. attorney has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m.
That passage disappeared, but it was snagged and reposted by a commenter at the Nashville City Paper.

Memphis blogger The Flypaper Theory, also caught it. This time, via the Nashville Scene:
Sources tell us that Representative Larry Miller (D-Memphis), Senator Jeff Miller (R-Cleveland) and Representative Ulysses Jones (D-Memphis) are also on the hook. And Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.
So, was someone just slightly ahead of the curve here? It's been intimated that there are more arrests and indictments to come in the Tennessee Waltz scandal. Certainly the legislative bills that were filed in support of the central charge in the indictments (taking bribes to effect certain legislative action) had more sponsors than just the ones so far arrested and indicted, as noted above.

Is Herenton somehow involved? Or was this one of those strange goofs that sometimes happens when reports start running ahead of the action? I hope that someone in the Memphis media pool looks into this.

INSTANT UPDATE Thanks to an emailer who gives this pointer to the Google cache of the Nashville Biz Journal story, the one with the Herenton mention. Great catch!
Poor Harold

Pity poor, poor Harold Ford, Jr. Only yesterday, he officially filed as a candidate for retiring US Senator Bill Frist's seat. (More here. This link may change, so watch out.) Then this morning all hell breaks loose. (See, well... the next post.) Ford and Memphis/Shelby County Democrats will be front and center in a huge scandal for many, many, many months to come.

As they say, timing in politics is everything. Watch for Ford to quietly withdraw his nomination within a week.
Breaking! State Legislators Arrested

READ THE INDICTMENTS They are now online.

GOVERNOR BREDESEN PRESS CONFERENCE AT 12:30PM CST WREC AM600 is carrying it live. WREG or WMC have cut in live.

BRIBERY AND EXTORTION An "undercover comapany" allegedly made payments on the "resale of surplus computer equipment" bill mentioned below. Ford allegedly received $55,000! Cruthfield and Love allegedly received $12,000. Myers and Bowers allegedly received $11,500. Love(?) and Newton allegedly received $4000. Dixon and Myers allegedly received $9500. Ford charged with 3 counts of witness intimidation.


NEWS CONFERENCE AT 11AM From the US District Attorney's office in Memphis. All local stations will be covering. At least WMC, WREG and WPTY will be live at the USDA's office.

AT LEAST SEVEN HAVE BEEN ARRESTED NOW! See WREG update below. Memphis hard hit.

News is coming in on the local television that State Senators John Ford of Memphis and Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga (both Democrats)have been arrested and taken away in cuffs. None of the Memphis news stations have anything on their websites as of 9:30AM. Check back throughout the day. Links are over on the left.

I've checked some Nashville television stations and found that the Nashville Scene's blog has confirmation and details. Press conference at 11AM. They link to a Nashville Channel 5 story here.

Not surprisingly, the blogosphere has the earliest reports. Nashville's Bill Hobbs has the notice. He adds that a State Representative (a Republican) may also have been arrested. Blogging Representative Stacy Campfield also has a bit. He mentions former Representative, and new State Senator Kathryn Bowers (Democrat) and Representative Chris Newton (Republican; Cleveland) as also possibly being arrested! An interesting Newton story from last week that might relate can be found here.
Rep. Chris Newton said two FBI field agents came unannounced to his Cleveland office on May 13 and questioned him about Sen. John Ford.

"They’re apparently looking at everything under the sun," Rep. Newton, RCleveland, said of the federal agents.

FBI agents also questioned Rep. Kathryn Bowers, D-Memphis, last week about legislation she and Sen. Ford have been involved with together, she said....

Rep. Newton said probably 75 percent of the agents’ questions during the hour-and-a-half interview were "directed towards those contracts (with Doral Dental), and what I knew about John Ford and Doral Dental and their parent company and those kinds of things."

They also asked Rep. Newton about legislation he had sponsored or co-sponsored with Ford, including a bill that would allow companies to buy and sell used electronic equipment from the state.

Rep. Newton said he let the bill stall in the House Calendar and Rules Committee.
What's fascinating to me: look at the time stamps on Campfield's blog posts: 7AM and 7:15AM! Assuming that's Nashville time, and not a time zone error on Blogspot's part, the story was brewing for two hours before it made it to air in Memphis! (I've had the television on since 7AM.) Interesting....

More as it develops.

UPDATE 10:15AM According to Nashville WKRN Newschannel 2 newsblogger Brittney's comments, it has to do with House bill HB0037 and Senate bill SB. Both involve:
Surplus Property - Broadens types of surplus computer and electronic equipment available to LEAs; requires all surplus computer and electronic equipment not disposed to LEAs to be disposed of by a qualified electronic recycling company by negotiated contract for sale to be disposed of out of state. - Amends TCA Title 12, Chapter 2.
What's really fascinating is that the House version of the legislation was abruptly withdrawn yesterday, the 25th, after nearly two months of inaction! Coincidence?

You can learn more on both at the Tennessee General Assembly website. Click the "Legislation" link on the left, then from the submenu click on the "Filed Bills Index." Enter the bill numbers above to be taken to the information page on each.

UPDATE 10:30AM Reports that more arrests are coming. Look at the bills above and you'll see Ulysses Jones (Democrat; Memphis) and several other legislators named as co-sponsors, assuming those bills are the ones involved.

Memphis television is breaking the story now. WMC has a story now. They include this:
"There is an indictment charging a number of people with a Hobbs Act violation," Pope said. The Hobbs Act covers extortion by public officials.
WREG has this. Real shocker is that more legislators and officials are being arrested:
News Channel 3 has also learned that three other people have been arrested - they are former lawmaker Roscoe Dixon, Barry Myers and Charles Love.

UPDATE 10:55AM WPTY adds former State Senator Roscoe Dixon has been arrested:
The FBI hauled several current and former Tennessee State lawmakers away in handcuffs this morning after their indictment by a Federal Grand Jury. Among those named in the indictments, handed up by a grand jury in Memphis, are State Senators John Ford and Kathryn Bowers, both Democrats from the Memphis area, and former State Senator Roscoe Dixon, who now serves as a top official in the administration of Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton. The three face serious federal charges, including several violation of the Hobbs Act, which include tampering with a witness, corruption of public officials, threats of violence, interference with commerce by threats of violence, and threats or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. Three others were also arrested, including Ward Crutchfield, who is a Tennessee State Senator from Chatanooga, Chris Newton, who is a member of the Tennessee House from Cleveland, TN, and Charles Love, who is connected to the State School Board out of Hamilton County, TN.

WMC now reports that Roscoe Dixon's replacement, Barry Myers, has been indicted.

UPDATE 11:15am The major charges have been listed at the top of this post. The company in the sting was Recycle Management, Inc. and was set up solely to undertake the sting.

According to the USDA's office, all will appear before the US Magistrate's Court today and will likely be able to bond out. Several reporters made the point that "normal" people would likely spend the holiday weekend (three days) in jail awaiting a court appearance on Tuesday, while these legislators will get preferential treatment.

I see now why the House bill on this matter was withdrawn today. Also, this is yet another black eye for Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton, as his new aide, Roscoe Dixon, is at least the fourth high-level administrator to run afoul of the law and/or ethics. (Tom Jones, Susan Adler Thorp and Bobby Lanier were the others.) I wonder if WMC will have the "official commentator" Susie Thorp run an editorial about ethics? Anyway, Wharton -- who has never been tainted by scandals personally and enjoys a very high reputation for personal intergrity -- will struggle with this. Will he force Dixon to move on, or will Dixon for him to tough it out? Here's hoping someone calls the Mayor's office to follow this.

Remember the "ethics reform" bills just passed by the Assembly and how they were watered down? Watch for this to be revisited with a vengeance! With any luck the legislators who want good government, regardless of party, will make a law with some teeth, including enforcement measures, an enforcing body and meaningful penalties.

UPDATE 11:30AM Correction: the dummy corporation was Ecycle Management, Inc. Sorry for the error!. A reporter at the press conference asked about a report that would-be State Senator Kathryn Bowers was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center. I'll look into that.

The indictment indicates that the origin of the investigation was allegations by legislators themselves! That's startling. And a welcome bit of news.

The prosecuting attorney will be Tim Disenza. (I'm not sure of the spelling.) The US District Attorney's office for the Western Division as their website here. They have a webpage for press releases, but nothing is up yet about today's events.

UPDATE 11:35AM Governor Phil Bredesen and others will hold a press conference later this afternoon. I'll post the time when I learn it.

Ahahahahahahaha! John Ford threatened, according to the indictment, to shoot and kill anyone who squealed!! Now, NOW, will someone take this guy's raving lunacy seriously, instead of treating it indulgently?

UPDATE 11:40AMWelcome to everyone dropping in!

For those of you in the parts of Tennessee that aren't Memphis, almost-State Senator Kathryn Bowers is also the head of the Shelby County Democratic Party! She is legend for her aggressive, take no prisoners rhetorical and debating style. She and John Ford should make for very entertaining press conferences; Dixon to a lesser extent.

Ford and Bower's confrontational, in-your-face, don't-eff-with-me speaking style can be disconcerting to whites, but it's a very common means of verbal self-defense in the black community. Bloggers in Middle and East Tennessee, I'd love to hear from you about how this aspect of the scandal plays out in your neck of the woods.

HUGE ETHICAL AND MEDIA GAFFE!!!! Sure enough, Susan Adler Thorp is now on air at WMC, talking about giving a "black eye" and "damaging" politics! I can't believe it. The nerve! The shamelessness! The whitewash! I don't have enough exclamation marks to use for this! Not one word of her own ethical difficulties. Not. One. Word. I cannot believe it. I will be contacting WMC about this one.

UPDATE 11:55AM WPTY and Fox13 have both gone back to regular programming, it seems. WMC, as noted above, has Kim Clark, Joe Birch and SUSAN ADLER THORP (disgraced former Shelby County employee) doing followup discussion. Mostly it's background on the people arrested and general speculation.

WREG has anchor Jerry Tate discussing events with commentator Norm Brewer (who is droning on about "restoring confidence" in government) and reporter extraordinaire Mike Matthews.

Barry Myers, arrested in this sting, needs clarification. He is not currently an office holder, but rather is supposedly preparing a run for the House seat given up by Kathryn Bowers (now indicted). Myers is also a "protege" of Dixon (now indicted). You can read this recent Memphis Flyer article by Jackson Baker for more, and for a number of names to watch out for, in terms of where fallout happens. Sidney Chism, anyone?

UPDATE 12:20PMI'm taking some time, now that the early eruption is settling down, to scan around the Internet and the blogosphere to learn more.

Local television news stations haven't updated their first, early reports. Not WMC, not WREG, not WPTY, not FOX13. Shame on them all! Kudos to WMC and WREG for staying with the story and offering discussion and background, even if it was the usual tepid stuff.

Nothing on the Flyer website yet.

The Commercial Appeal has finally put up a story, as a banner link at the top of the main page. Unfortunately, it's behind their registration wall! The biggest political scandal since, well... since anyone can remember, and the CA is blocking potential readers! Take down the registration, dummies! Let people sample the paper. Maybe they'll like that they see? They ought to, as the story is a good summation of what's happened so far (with a Memphis-centric view, of course) with some new information:
Gov. Phil Bredesen met with Senate leaders after they got news of the arrests, several of which happened early Thursday in Nashville.

Sen. Joe Haynes said Bredesen told the leaders that no more lawmakers were to be charged in the case. The governor told the lawmakers that he had been briefed on the investigation early in the day by FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents.

"It's a sad day for the state of Tennessee. It's a sad day for the Legislature," said Senate Speaker Pro Tem Micheal Williams, R-Maynardville.

The Tennessee General Assembly had been trying to wrap up debate on the budget and adjourn the session by Friday....

Newton said he was asked about Ford's dealings with TennCare contractors, including a contract worth $429,000 with Doral Dental, and about legislation he had sponsored or co-sponsored with Ford, including one bill that would allow companies to buy and sell used electronic equipment from the state.

During the close of the session Wednesday, Newton asked to withdraw that bill from the House.

The bill would have required state government to route surplus computer and electronic equipment to local schools districts. It also required that any equipment the schools didn't need be disposed of by a qualified electronic recycling company.

Love, a registered lobbyist and principal in Charles Love & Associates in Chattanooga, said last week that he lobbied legislators on behalf of E-Cycle Management, even though records show he was not registered to work for that firm.

Sponsors of the legislation were Ford, Bowers, Newton, Crutchfield and six other lawmakers - Rep. Ulysses Jones, D-Memphis; Rep. Charles M. Sargent, R-Franklin; Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis; Rep. Paul Stanley, R-Germantown; Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville; and Sen. Jeff Miller, R-Cleveland.

Rep. Frank Buck, D-Dowelltown, who sponsored a raft of legislative bills dealing with lawmaker and lobbyist ethics reform this year, said he didn't have firsthand knowledge of the arrests but had suspected that more than just Ford might be involved in questionable deals.
This explains why the bill was withdrawn, at least partially.

One last note: There are reports that there is one last individual to be arrested. No word on who, as they are still looking for him/her.

UPDATE 12:40PM Governor Bredesen, Lt. Governor and Senate leader John Wilder, and Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh are lined up on a stage piously reassuring Tennesseans. Bredesen: who has appointees being investigated; Wilder: legend for cutting deals and horse-trading with Senate Committee chairmanships; Naifeh: whose wife is the state's number one lobbyist and who daughter is also a lobbyist. Talking about this scandal. The brazenness is amazing, isn't it?

UPDATE 12:45PM A couple of bits:

1) Apparently, this investigation began waaaay back 2003, as Operation Tennessee Waltz, but the specific focus on the Tennessee 7 (I'm trademarking that, by the way.) started in April 2004.

2) The law that all the legislators and elected officials are accused of breaking is the Hobbs Act, specifically this section.

3) More on the Susie Thorp scandal. She actually had the nerve to call this a "sad day" for Tennessee and to talk about all the "decent, honest people" in government. She said it all straight-faced. And no, she didn't mention her own ethically compromised past. It didn't take long for WMC to get into trouble with her, did it?

4) How much coverage will the national network news shows give to this story? Is anyone watching Fox or CNN? Are they covering this at all?

5) Governor Bredesen and a staffer made the point that since these are only indictments, the legislators involved will not be prevented from continuing their duties.

UPDATE 1PM The initial frenzy is finally calming down. I've been cruising around the web to see what's floating around.

From the Nashville Scene, which has taken potshots at Memphis before:
Channel 3 in Memphis is reporting more. Like Matt Pulle, I am shocked that so much of this is coming out of Memphis. Such a nice, well-run town.
Except, asshole, that they were all assembled in Nashville when this occurred. Clean your own swamp first, OK?

Watch for more of this lazy sliming of the City of Good Abode.

On the good side, they are reporting rumors that Ulysses Jones (Democrat; Memphis), Larry Miller (unknown) and other members of the Chattanooga delegation may be next.

Too many links to break down from Nashville Is Talking. Brittney is posting excerpts from the indictment, including the truly bizarre threats Ford is alleged to have made. Can you believe a man under investigation for his shady business dealings, which came to light due to his adulterous and polygamic marital situation, still taking bribes and making threats? If Ford lacks for ethics, he certainly doesn't lack for balls! Maybe he can spare some for his nephew, Harold, Jr.? Junior (0r F-Unit, as we call him here in Memphis. Hat tip to Chris for that one.)

Anyway, she also links to a main story from the Nashville Tennessean.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel's main political blogger is Michael Silence. He truly "gets" blogging and has an entertaining read. He's on vacation at the moment, but his guest bloggers are taking up the slack. Lots more linkiness on the Tennessee 7 and the Tennessee Waltz investigation there.

Memphis blogger AlphaPatriot has more, as well as a false rumor that just sounds plausible.

From someone in email, the link for the indictments is: here.

Of course, Tennessee's premier conservative political blogger, Bill Hobbs, is all over this. His main T7 post is here. The page is loading weirdly for me, so he might be having server issues. But he's packed with linkage.

Bill passes along this from the subscription-only Nashville Post:
Sources tell that FBI agents on the Hill say they are definitely not finished and that up to 11 lawmakers may eventually be arrested. Sources are telling that the development is likely connected to a piece of legislation Newton withdrew from consideration on Capitol Hill yesterday, and a potential contract related to its contents. The bill as proposed would have allowed the state to sell surplus electronic equipment to companies without competitive bidding. It would also create an alternative method for the disposal of surplus electronic equipment to divert it from landfills.The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Ford, Bowers and , among others. notes a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press article that cited an internal memo from the office of the Tennessee Comptroller revealing that state officials were concerned about the bill. The Free Press said FBI agents had interviewed both Newton and Bowers last week in connection with several bills sponsored by Ford, including the bill regarding non-compete bids for used equipment.
That story is linked and partially quoted up at the top of this post.

Interestingly, Tennessee's number one "progressive" (He used to be a liberal.) blogger, South Knox Bubba hasn't posted a single word on this. Maybe he's just busy at work. That must be it....

Graphics! From GOP & the City comes a JPG of the actual passage from the indictment that quotes Ford's threat. He also has a hilarious remix of the 2x2 graphic of Ford, Bowers, Cruthfield and Newton. I think we'll be seeing more ofthat one.

Hmmmmm.... What's this? The Nashville Business Journal posted a story on this earlier, but (according to a poster at the Nashville City Paper, a crucial passage has been dropped.
Four legislators arrested J. Holly Dolloff Nashville Business Journal Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested four legislators this morning as part of a purported sting operation. Those arrested were state Senators Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) and John Ford (D-Memphis) and representatives Katherine Bowers (D-Memphis) and Chris Newton (D-Benton.) Capital Hill insiders say the arrests are related to a bill the four sponsored, changing the distribution of excess property. The legislation's language calls for all surplus computer equipment not distributed to public schools to be disposed of through "qualified electronic recycling companies." Those same insiders, who asked not to be quoted, say a lobbyist working with the U.S. Attorney in Memphis offered payoffs to legislators in return for their support of the bill. Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton also has been arrested, and a total of 12 arrest warrants have been filed. The U.S. attorney has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m.
There have been scattered reports all morning that there are more arrests coming. Did someone spill the beans on Herenton before the Feds moved? Is he the currently sought-after eighth indictment. Are there, in fact, a total of twelve indictments?

And lastly, on the local tip, Memphis blogger The Flypaper Theory, discovers the website for E-cycle! He too also saw the talk that there are other indictments yet to come. The really hilarious part is that Pesky Fly's very next post is about Representative Harold Ford, Jr.'s announcement of his candidacy for the US Senate! Awwwww. poor Harold.

Well, I'm going to stop here for the time being. I'll be on blog break until the evening news, then I'll post followups and new information in a new post. If you have information to pass along, or a blog post of your own, or just witty comment, please email me (see link at the top left). Later, y'all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I am utterly fascinated by Japan. If I could afford it, I'd love to spend six months to a year over there. Superficially, their society resembles ours, but dig down a bit and it's clear just how different they are from America. They are also weird. Really, really weird. A lot of human nature has to get repressed to make their society work, and it leaks out in the most unusual ways.

Anyway.... I have a number of links in the Daily Blog bookmark folder I need to process, so here's an omnibus Japan post:

First, here's a FAQ on the Japanese language from Usenet. Answers some basic questions, but it does assume some familiarity with the language.

Did you know that Japanese has very few words like the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television?" There are quite a few naughty words that will earn you a frown, but few that are of themselves unspeakable. However there are lots and lots and lots of ways to insult someone by using the wrong word! Class, family and power status are very important to the Japanese and if you use the wrong form of respect in how you address someone, you can gravely offend them. Use a noun form for a friend with your boss and you can stop a conversation cold!

A lot of Americans travel to Japan to teach English. They frequently don't even speak Japanese, but are there to add "authenticity" to how students speak English. Japanese teachers handle basic English language instruction. Here's one account of the travails, risks and rewards. It's a bit risque in spots (the Japanese obsession with sex), but also very, very funny.

I'd never heard of a SAQ (Seldom Asked Questions) before until I discovered this SAQ answering all kinds of oddball questions about Japan. It's all the stuff that language and travel guides don't cover because no one thinks of these things until they get over there and encounter them. Engrossing reading.

Here's a news story on the deterioration of manners in modern Japan.

I love Japanese anime (pronounced ah-nee-may). The American impression is that it's for kids (Thanks Hollywood and the Fox network!), but they also have a lot of animated movies and television series for adults. And erotica, too. If you've ever wondered, though, why Japanese characters have such huge eyes, and exagerated reactions, read this. Click around the rest of the site for more, but be careful. Not everything is work safe there.

Manga, Japanese comic books, are a related phenomenon. They, too, aren't just for kids. There are romance novel styles, historical, sports, you name it. An interesting interview with one manga artist, which also give a look into the history and conventions of manga drawing, is here.

Those sites should get you started, and you can always follow links from them to get to more. Japan is, in many ways, a more technological country than we are. Their internet and cell phone networks are far superior to ours. They are also better connected to their history and traditions than we are. But Japan is a crowded island. Parts are still pretty rural, but most of the country is dense like New York City. And because so much has to be imported, it's way more expensive.

What else? If you like Japanese and other East Asian films like I do (Takashi Miike makes Quentin Tarantino look like the wannabe he is. Miike cranks out as many as four films a year! Crazed, ultraviolent yakuza films; musical horror films; mood movies.) then try Poker Industries. Huge variety and reasonable prices.

Interested in buying some Japanese weirdness? Not just the dirty stuff, but lots of candies, toys, t-shirts and geegaws? Want a bottle of Pocari Sweat? A Domokun? Try the J-list site. Hours of browsing fun; very reasonable prices. They also sell all-region DVD players for those DVDs.
Let's Get the Ball Rolling

Here's a little bit of fun for those over on the Left who are exasperated with Tennessee's favorite son and political Hamlet, Representative Harold Ford, Jr.

Admit it: I'm just saying what y'all are thinking.

Monday, May 23, 2005

More Ford Fun Coming?

Yet another Ford is being heard from it seems. I was up uncharacteristically early today and caught a report on WREG/3 that Harold Ford, Jr.'s cousin Melvin Ford caused a disturbance in a local restaurant recently. Two women said he was abusive and threatening, and waved the Ford family name around. I can't recall if police were called or not. Sure would be fun to read that police report, if it was filed.

I just checked the WREG website before posting it, and the story isn't there yet. I'll check back later, and try to watch the evening broadcast, so I can report more.

By the way, on the subject of Fords, did you know that the man who once employed State Senator John Ford for his TennCare related business, Osbie Howard, resigned CEO of OmniCare, is also the long-time campaign treasurer for Memphis mayor Willie Herenton? I've read several stories about Ford that mentioned Osbie, but can't recall seeing the Herenton treasurer connection being mentioned. I'm sure political types in Memphis know all about it, but I'm just some guy in Midtown and the news surprised and amused me. More here and here.

Yeah, this city is just one big ongoing criminal conspiracy. Can we get a RICO investigation started?

UPDATE: Saturday, 7PM Well, watched the evening news and nothing. Still no story link on their website either. Sorry.

FURTHER UPDATE Saturday 7:45PM Something told me not to wait, so I called WREG/3. Naturally they keep "office hours," even though they are a 24/7 operation, so I had to call the news tip line (543-2111). I spoke with a woman named Heather. She confirmed the story and that it was Melvin Ford, but couldn't name the restaurant chain involved. She said the story wouldn't run tonight, but might run again tomorrow morning. I encouraged her to put the story on the website.

Heather was that irksome kind of person who only answers a direct question with a terse answer. She volunteered nothing. It was like pulling teeth from a child. Sheesh. "On My Side" my ass.

UPDATE Monday 2:30pmMade some further calls today and I have facts to report. I called WREG/3 and only identified myself as Mike; didn't mention the blog to the reporter. As far as I can determine, there will be no story on the WREG website.

The original story was done by WREG/3 reporter Tom Powell and aired on Friday, the 20th, during the 10PM broadcast. Saturday's broadcast, the one I caught, was a re-use.

The report said it wouldn't name the chain, so I asked Powell if he would identify the street or part of town. He said he'd "prefer not to."

Powell said that Melvin Ford entered the restaurant and became out of control. He waved a boxcutter around, causing the employees to hit the panic button. The police arrived and frisked Ford, but claimed not to find the boxcutter. Ford did make something to the effect of "do you know who I am?" type comments.

A police report was filled out; Powell has a copy of it. But the police refused to arrest Ford, saying without the boxcutter it was "he said, she said." All they could hold him for, according to Powell, as "misdemeanor intimidation."

And there you have it. Another Ford waving a weapon and his family name around. Police involvement that leads nowhere. Had the restaurant employees not contacted WREG the whole thing would have disappeared.

I'm happy to keep this story alive, via the Internet. Kudos to Tom Powell for reporting it. If you want to contact WREG for yourself, their office phone is 901-543-2333. Office hours only, please.
The Next Part of the Trilogy?

All the Star Wars hoopla gave me an idea.

The program I use is PhotoDeluxe, from my IBM scanner. That's why the "poster" is so basic. PD doesn't let you do much, like transparent images, font effects, etc. Still Hillary came out OK. So to speak....

UPDATE I found the font I wanted and tweaked the image a bit to make the allusion a bit more explicit.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Riddle Me This, Liberal Democrats

There's been a bit of a discussion going on in the Memphis blogosphere around the idea of conservative Libertarian me supporting the Republicans. Read at The Flypaper Theory and River City Mud Company. Some liberal Democrat types are utterly flummuxed I could support the Republicans given their reprehensible behavior as a majority. So, here's my question to them: Show me the path by which support for the Democratic Party leads to a libertarian society.

I don't think you can since economic freedom is as abhorrent to you as sexual freedom is to Republicans. But with economic freedom I can obtain a kind of sexual freedom since what I do inside my secure household passes your control. The loss of economic freedom that the Democratic party brings is anathema and death to libertarianism.

"They do it, too!" is not an argument. Yes, the Republicans feed at the public trough as badly as the Democrats do right now, but with a nominal Republican government I can hope to sway them to their roots and thence to the soil of libertarianism. Democratic roots have no economic freedom; the vines of Progressivism, Socialism and Communism wrap too tightly to the trunk.

Answer in comments if you like, give a link to your own blog post, or you can email me directly (email link up at the top) if your answer is too long for Haloscan. I'll publish email responses here as an update, unedited. If for some reason you want your email comment posted anonymously, I'll do that too.

Remember, your goal is not to convince me away from Republicanism, but to the Democratic Party. Good luck.
Russert and Dean

I'm bad about sleeping in on Sundays now, and missing the morning political talk shows. But according to this transcript of Tim Russert's probing of DNC Chairman Howard Dean on Meet The Press there was a telling exchange:
MR. RUSSERT: Newt Gingrich [said], when you were elected chairman of the party, said the Democrats must have a death wish. The hotline did a survey, The Political Hotline published by National Journal, and of the 17 states that you went to, a Democratic governor or Democratic senator has not appeared with you in those states. Are people running from you?

DR. DEAN: I doubt it. When I went to Mississippi, all four former governors showed up. You know, I stayed over at the governor's house in Kansas. I mean, I think when you go into a state, and you're there for four or five hours, it's pretty hard for governors to change their schedule and suddenly decide they're going to have to be by your side. I've raised over $1 million for state parties, including places like Arizona and Oklahoma.

MR. RUSSERT: Republicans say January through March, they've raised $32 million, double what the Democrats have raised.

DR. DEAN: Well, that's--I think that's fine. You know, Republicans have always been better at raising money than we have. But don't forget, I've only been in office for 100 days. We're still raising money at twice the rate we were in the first year of McCain-Feingold, which was 2003, and we're raising $1 million a week.
True, and it only adds up to $15 million, which is half of the Republican total, as Russert just said. See how you can manipulate numbers?

Anyway, does any reader have subscriber access to the National Journal and can they forward on the relevant excerpt from the Political Hotline? If true, it would be amazing, especially in light of this:
MR. RUSSERT: The USA Today on Friday had a big piece. "A Dam Sure Based GOP Goes Rating." [sic] They compare your schedule to that of Republican chairman Ken Mehlman. He's going the Hispanic route, Catholics groups, reaching out. Your schedule is primarily with Democratic activists, labor unions, gays, the core, the base of the Democratic party.
Parties that claim to speak for a majority don't usually have to do rebuilding efforts, do they?

Maybe Howard Dean is part of a typically Clintonian strategy aimed to make the Democrats want Terry McAuliffe back? He waltzes in with Hillary and Bill and they all trumpet a "return" to something or other, in a PR strategy to make folks nostalgic for the "Clinton era." After the change and tumult of the Bush years, the Dems might try "simpler, safer times" themes, no?

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE Well, ask and you shall receive. Got an email this very morning from the National Journal itself. Out of the blue. My deep thanks for the notice and the help.

From the source, here's the passage I was asking about:
SPOTLIGHT: Meet The Dean

National Journal Group, Inc.

Quite a few Dems and GOP research operatives will be glued to the tube this Sunday when DNC chair Howard Dean makes his nat'l debut, of sorts, as the face of the Dem Party. Choosing to spar first with "Meet"'s Russert shows he's certainly confident of his standing these days.
-- To date, Dean's been incredibly low-key, popping up with a quotable every now and then that basically shows the worst he can be accused of is doing his job as a partisan Democrat. His lack of visibility may be the reason the DNC's efforts to tie Jack Abramoff to the WH have gotten crickets treatment from the press.
-- Still, red state Dems aren't rushing to be seen with him. Since becoming DNC chair, by our count, Dean has visited the red states of AZ, AR, KS, MS, NV, OK, and TN, all (save MS) with a Dem GOV or SEN. As far as we can tell, none made a public appearance with Dean (That streak gets broken next week in WV with Gov. Manchin). How he handles himself Sunday could go a long way to seeing if Dean continues to be ducked by red state Dems or if, like Terry McAuliffe, he begins to quell their worries.
That's seven states, folks; a mighty long string of schedules not being changed for the new DNC chair. And in the case of Tennessee, if memory serves, Governor Bredesen was only across town that day. Can't say Nashville is so large you can't make the drive....

ANOTHER UPDATE LATER More thoughts from the Conservative Zone.
Tales of the Departed

Excellent guest editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle from Keith Thompson, who describes why he feels alienated from and has departed, the American cultural and political left.
I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought")....

I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention....

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.
Much more, of course. As you can see, this isn't some milquetoast, fair weather leftist, either.

This is not to say that Thompson is becoming a Republican, only that he has no home anymore. It's a cautionary tale to the folks of the left -- the Mike Moores, the Hollywood left,, etc. -- who are running the very real risk of destroying their party and weakening the country.
What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

It turns out there is an answer! Who knew?

Just goes to show what aimlessly following links (a rather Zen activity in itself) can lead you to.