Sep 21 2007

Move On’s Miscalculation

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Yesterday the Senate, in a show of brazen balllessness, condemned an ad by Move On. The now infamous “Betray Us” ad, a witty play on a general’s name stirred up more junk than it was effective. Somewhere in all that junk the message was lost, and any impact the ad may have had on the debate in Congress about Iraq was held hostage to manufactured outrage. Good going guys.

I think the person that has the best perspective on this is General Wesley Clark. In the linked interview with Matt Stoller of Open Left, Clark calls the ad a “big mistake tactically”. I agree with him.

The Move On ad distracts us from the real culprit in the deception, George W. Bush. Patreaus may be presenting the best face of a terrible situation, but he is not the one that put us there, George W. Bush and an overly compliant and complacent Congress did. In attacking the General, Move On effectively blamed the manager for the actions of the corporation. Or, more plainly, blamed the guy in charge of executing bad policy from above.

The unwavering resolve of the Bush Administration was never going to be swayed by an attack on a surrogate. President Bush is the individual responsible for what is going on, and should forevermore be the target of our ire. Additionally, General Patreaus has a responsibility to carry water for the Administration if so directed by the executive. He complied. The spokesman should never be held accountable for the actions of the client. He’s just doing his job.

To their credit, Move On did go after Bush a day or so later, but by then it was too late. The damage had been done, and all anyone was talking about was this stupid ad.

If the progressive movement wants to gain any traction in the nation, we need to start moving away from these one night stand advertising take downs. Sure they’re fun, and give us a thrill, but ultimately, we’re still sleeping alone. We need to be committed to a focused message. With that message we can actually start to influence the people and by extension, influence the debate. Without that, we’re just one step away from the Tin Foil Hat club.

I support any action to stop this stupid assed foreign policy we have in Iraq so long as the people making the decisions are the ones held accountable. Doing anything else is wasting our time, money and more importantly an opportunity to shift the debate by influencing others in our favor. That should be the ultimate goal.

Sep 15 2007

Clark Endorses Clinton

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

From his PAC, Securing America

This is disappointing to me in so many ways. I was on the Draft Clark train back in ’04. As Clark seemed less and less likely to get his stuff together, my support waned, but my respect for the man was not diminished. Clark was one of the most requested speakers for upstart Democrats in the ’06 election.

Unfortunately, this endorsement doesn’t really square with Clark’s longstanding positions on foreign policy particularly in the Middle East. It begs the question, is he fishing for a cabinet post or has he been working behind the scenes with Hillary all along?

I’d love to see another native Arkansan in the White House, even at VP, just so long as it’s not Huckabee, and Clark would be that alternative. Unfortunately, this endorsement, for the first time ever, has made me question a man whose character, up until now, I though was unquestionable.

I’m looking forward to more coverage on this.

Sep 14 2007

Another Day in Fairy Tale Land

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

I’m still not sure why I read the Commercial Appeal. Aside from having to hold back the vomit building in the back of my throat as I read, and searching tirelessly for an important story not written by somebody named AP, it’s a daily utter disappointment. Today, surprisingly, there was something of interest written by somebody local, that wasn’t a scandal or some other fiasco. The headline reads:

Stadium report’s flawed, says city

Ok so maybe it is another fiasco, but at least it’s something I know a little about. Here are some things that I took away from this whole thing:

1. Memphis needs a new city run venue like we need a hole in the head.
The city cannot run venues period. The city cannot hire other companies to run venues, or hold them accountable to pay their power bills. Why, in the name of all that is holy do we need another city owned venue for our city to mess up? Aren’t we happy with the 4 we have now?

2. The NFL told us to bugger off years ago
I don’t see any kiss and make up deals here. They’re not expanding any time soon, and neither the Colts nor the Ravens are making any noise about the need to skulk off into the night without warning to some new town. If they did, they’d probably go to San Antonio just to piss the Saints off. Also, as much as I love the Tigers, until they can stitch together 3 consecutive winning seasons they should be playing on a High School Field.

3. $150 million my ear
The FedEx Forum cost $250M. Or that’s what they tell us anyway. It seats about 20k people. Football stadiums are bigger than arenas, and even have roofs these days. Oh the humanity! The report says $300M. Reliant Stadium in Houston cost the city $442M. I’m sure we’re capable of building an uglier less functional building for more, but that seems like a good price range.

4. The Liberty Bowl
The Liberty Bowl currently seats 62,000 people. The proposed stadium would hold about 45,000. That means, that if we build a smaller stadium we have to change the name from “The Liberty Bowl” to “The Liberty Cup”, full meal football value at appetizer sizes.

5. The Findings
The funny thing about findings is that they are findings because they were unknown. If they weren’t findings they would be knowns and the city wouldn’t have had to fork out $140,000 to “find” them out. So, when a city administrator says the findings are wrong, that means they don’t fit in line with the administrations assumptions. Furthermore, when that same administrator say the findings make assumptions, that means that the assumptions made don’t fit the administrators assumptions. Finally, with all this said, I think that the findings/assumptions of a company that has consulted on many facilities such as this are more credible than the findings/assumptions of a city administrator who lacks the luxury of experience in such matters. The simple fact that they won’t release the report in its current state speaks volumes. Can anyone say damage control?

Memphis has a lot more important problems to deal with than creating a handout to building contractors. The fantasy that a new stadium will create long-term jobs is just that, a fantasy. This is an attempt to place another jewel in the crown of King Willie, and no ones buying it. Not to mention that the University wants a stadium on campus, but when did the desires of the single tenant of a building ever come into the equation?

Memphis, save your money and buy stock in Taco Bueno franchises, or something that would actually bring consistent, year-round cash flow into the city. A new stadium, is just another building that we don’t need, in a city that needs so much…like effective leadership.

Sep 12 2007


Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized

Now that Congress is back in session, General Petraeus and Ambassaador Crocker have said their piece on Capitol Hill, and Rhambo and Pelosi have decided that going after deadbeat former administration officials is not a priority, one has to wonder, what is the priority of this Congress at this time?

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the FY’08 budget.

Few people probably remember this, and fewer cared at the time, but this Congress came into office with no budget. It was January 31 before the House voted to pass the budget that the Republican led 109th left them and February 14th before the Senate passed it.

This may not seem like a big deal, but considering what was left to do this Congress has done quite a lot of things that most of us don’t really think about that are necessary to keep this nation running.

So we come to the FY’08 budget. Bush is threatening a veto on 9 of 12 2008 budget bills for just over $25 billion in additional spending. That spending includes money for infrastructure, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. That $25b amounts to $83/person for things that we elected Democrats to do.

My take is that this is something that Democrats feel they can win, and Lord do they need a win right now.

The President, always adept at keeping the beltway punditocracy singing his song, has chipped away at the resolve of many moderate Democrats, using much the same rhetoric that he would use to defeat them in elections…playing the left against the “middle”. It’s divide and conquer. Despite dismal poll numbers, this strategy continues to give him positive policy results.

Last month, the nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick was allowed to go to the full Senate after some serious wooing of Dianne Feinstein. While things like this can drive even the most moderate Democrat crazy they are to be expected. It’s a basic rule of the many versus the few.

President Bush, and the Administration in general is the few. While he has many surrogates, those surrogates largely tow the line of the Administration. These individuals may have differing ideas about the minutiae of Administration policy, the media, in favor of the larger Administration narrative, largely ignores differences.

The many is the Congress. For Congress to speak with one voice takes a Herculean effort that will be as satisfying as weak chicken broth for the base of each party involved. This is why, no matter what the Congress accomplishes; it will be unsatisfying to a potential majority, or at least large minority of individuals. Further, with the challenge of 535 “voices” on the Hill, competing for airtime and money for their districts, the possibility of a unifying narrative, even for the Majority party, is virtually nil. This perpetuates the myth, pushed by the Administration, that the Congress is incapable of handling the business of the nation.

With all this said, let’s revisit my earlier idea…Democrats feel they can win on the budget and boy howdy do they need a win.

The budget is one of the things that Democrats are actually somewhat united on. In order to tackle some of the more divisive issues such as Iraq and the DOJ scandal, Democrats need to win something, anything, to keep their caucus from further fracturing and to generate some good press for the leadership, both in the House, and the Senate, where many Democratic initiatives are seeing the greatest resistance. Apparently Pelosi and Emanuel feel that the budget will do this, and they may be right, but the fight with the Administration will be long and hard. Democrats need to come into this with some serious backbone to win, and the opposition narrative is already emerging.

With the looming budget fight now in the Senate, House leadership is loathe to start any action that may result in losing support for 12 appropriations bills that passed the House by large, bipartisan margins. Going after Meirs and other former and current administration officials may be viewed as a battle that could lose the war. That doesn’t mean they won’t do it, or that any kind of deal has been cut, they just want to get the ball closer to the red zone before they go long for a touchdown.

We can assume that at least one budget veto is assured. There’s no way that this President is going to let the Democratic Congress score a victory without some resistance. By not actively pursuing a contempt vote in the House, Pelosi hopes that support from moderate Republicans and Blue Dogs will not disappear in the aftermath of a bloody fight over Iraq, or other contentious issues, allowing for a veto override/victory over the President.

In the Senate, the picture is not so clear. Majority Leader Reid has little power to force things through, and poking the bear in the Senate will likely end up a stunning defeat at the hands of Lieberman and some of the more conservative Democrats like the Nelson twins (Ben – NE and Bill – FL).

So, it’s a waiting game…waiting for the Senate, and the President to show their hands. Pelosi and Emanuel are saying late September or early October before any real movement. I expect the Bush Administration to drag the appropriations bills out as long as humanly possible. This is annoying and disheartening for a base of supporters who saw the new majority in Congress as a means to stop the Iraq madness and get some of what we have lost in the past 7 years back before the election of a new President. These things are still possible. We just have to be patient and ready. We have to let the leadership know that letting us down in the long term is not an option, and that they will be held accountable. Otherwise, we’re no better than the Republicans, and I just can’t live with that.

Sep 05 2007

Memphis’ Stupidity Reaches National Audience

Posted by Steve Ross in Racism

Here I am, about to get ready for bed in the nation’s capitol, and I stumble across this little number.

Do we have to air our dirty laundry (read racism) on a national scale?

I find it humorous that LaSimba Grey is not mentioned in the article. I’m sure that irritates him to no end.

Can we agree to be over this yet? For the sake of all that is Holy, this is and should forevermore be treated as a non-story. The only people who would make this an issue are the same people who make race a litmus test for service. Since when did Reverend Robert Poindexter, LaSimba Grey and the rest of the mob become Black Dixiecrats?

Think about that, after you clean up the drink from your computer screen.

And just who is Larry Moore? The article says he’s “a University of Memphis professor who teaches a course on how politics affects business”. I find one Larry Moore that is in the Civil Engineering Department, and another that is in the “School of Accountancy”. So this guy is either a number cruncher or an engineer. What a great source of political insight. Maybe he can score a job at CATO lite.

Why, why, a thousand times why?

I hope Memphis isn’t as stupid as this article portrays it. I hope with all my being. But hope doesn’t guarantee anything. And I’m not holding my breath until next August. This is war, pure and simple. And the folks that started it have the most to lose.

Hope you guys have padded toilet seats, because you’re not going to be able to take a crap without me writing about it.

P.S. Keep your feet to yourself and NO tapping.