Friday, June 19, 2009

Goodbye, Tim Chavez

Tim Chavez used to drive me crazy way back when. I remember reading his Tennessean columns in the mid-1990s and thinking about them the way I now think (on the rare occasions I even read The Tennessean) of Saritha Prabhu's dreck: knee-jerk conventional wisdom-style liberalism (although Tim was a much better writer).

But then this weird thing happened: Tim started questioning some of the shibboleths of those on his political "side of the fence." It wasn't that he had turned on them, really, (though, certainly, some thought that): it was that he had come to the realization that--sometimes--folks on his side sometimes let ideology get in the way of reality (which happens all over the political map, by the way).

I got to know him pretty well after that, and while he never went into too much detail with me, something happened when he was volunteering (or something) with Metro public schools. He got a wake-up call of some sort, and he came to believe that conventional "liberal" solutions or prescriptions for public education weren't working, at least not for those on the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. He wanted to look at other ideas--even those proposed by conservatives--but became disillusioned when his usual compatriots--Democrats, unions, etc.--didn't want to go along, vested as they very much were in the status quo.

This realization made him more open to conservative types generally, but while some conservatives started to think of Tim as one of their own, he really wasn't. Tim's passion was bettering the lives of the poor and underprivileged, walking--as he saw it--in the footsteps of Jesus. And when he thought that conservative types had better ideas than liberal types in that regard, he said so.

If you want to honor Tim's memory, here's one way to do it: don't always assume that someone who takes a position is doing so because they are a Republican or a Democrat, or a man or a woman, or a conservative or a liberal, or a white person or a black person, or a rich person or a poor person, or married or single, or a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or an atheist, and that therefore they hold that position because of what they are.

To be sure, the opinions of many people (perhaps even most people) are largely determined by these things. But there a few people who have a real passion beyond their own identities. They are few and far between, but they are out there, and are usually the ones most worth reading and listening to. And now, alas, we just lost one of the best.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Not Racism! It's, Um, Something Else, and as Soon As I Figure Out What It Is I'll Tell You

"I think all along, Steve Cohen has known that's his vulnerability," said political scientist Marcus Pohlmann at Rhodes College of Memphis. "It's not so much that he's disliked because he's white, but he's running in a district that was created to elect an African-American."

...which means--does it not?--that any person who is not an African-American may be resented--dare we even say "disliked"?--for occupying the seat, for no other reason than that he or she is not an African-American.

Just once I'd like one of these people to just come out and say this simple, undeniable fact: Steve Cohen will pretty much always be vulnerable because the majority of his congressional district is black and he is not. Stop trying to spin it into something else. It is what it is: a race-based opinion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Well, What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

And, like clockwork, here it comes: the appeals to refrain from terminating Sherri Goforth, coming from some of the very folks who pushed this issue to the point where such an outcome is now the most likely possibility.

We've been here before. Remember Bill Hobbs back in 2006? A big deal was made in the press about that goofy Muslim cartoon he put on the Internet, his employer (Belmont University) was mentioned in the articles (even though Belmont had nothing to do with that cartoon), putting Belmont in a position where it really had no choice but to save face publicly by giving Hobbs the heave-ho. I remember talking to some folks in the local press back then and getting this general reaction: "Well, that's silly. They shouldn't fire him." As though the press accounts somehow had nothing to do with it; as though Belmont was just sitting around and just up and arbitrarily decided to can him. It's like someone shooting a guy in the head and being surprised that they fall over dead. "Well, I'll be damned. He died just like that. Huh. Never saw that coming."

The probable outcome of this episode will be the termination (one way or the other) of Sherri Goforth. So, don't act surprised. And don't act like you had nothing to do with it. Own it. Hell, be proud of it, the "greater good" and all of that. I honestly doubt this will result in "some good com[ing] out of this incident" with "lessons...learned so our state won’t be lambasted again nationally." But, hey maybe it will. I just hope that this one woman's job and professional reputation (seriously, who would hire her for the near future?) is worth all of that. Color me skeptical. And, again, be careful, because you could be the next one in someone's sights.

For more on this general concept, Google "reasonably foreseeable" and see what you come up with.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Insert "Goforth" Pun Here

Like most local conservative types, I spend a lot of time worrying about what Mike Byrd thinks of me, so let me just say for the record that there is no defense for that email. That said, a few quick things:

1. There are political staffers on the Hill and there are clerical/constituent service staffers on the Hill, the latter far outnumbering the former. Goforth was not a political staffer, like, say Lance Frizzell or someone like that. She was in the second, apolitical category, Doesn't make what she did right, and, yes, I believe it's a potentially terminable offense, but let's get a little perspective here: Sherri Goforth is no Bill Hobbs.

2. Her biggest offense, from a professional perspective, was embarrassing her legislative member, Diana Black (speaking of punnable surnames...), who will have this following her around for approximately the rest of her political career.

3. Tennessee Republicans continue to have a PR problem. And it's completely self-inflicted. Don't blame people like Jeff Woods for shooting you. Blame yourself for giving him the guns and bullets. And--you know--stop doing that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What Goes Up...

Well, this was inevitable, but it took four-and-a-half months to get there. Not a bad run, really.

Remember, no matter who we have as president, at least half of the country is pretty much always going to have some kind of beef with him (or her).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You Might Need a Life If...'ve ever gone into a place of business and demanded that the proprietor change the television channel because it gets your political panties in a wad.

Here's a crazy thought: if it means that much to you, frequent another place of business. Just for the record, political prudes are no better than the moral sort. Find something else to worry about.