More on Saturday

Head on over to LeftWingCracker for more on yesterday's democratic fund-raiser.

Speaking of fund-raisers …

Anyone who read today’s Commercial Appeal must have seen the articles on Billy Dunavant. (Front page section A above the fold and continued on pages 14 and 15) However, did you read the articles? Did you read it all?

If you did read it all, you read this:

By the roughest estimate, Dunavant has given more than $50 million to causes everywhere.

A few Sundays ago, he showed up for services at First Baptist Church Broad Avenue, an African-American congregation trying to rebuild its Binghamton neighborhood with a $7 million renovation of the old Lester Elementary School.

"We'd met the minister, Keith Norman, at a fund-raiser we had for Harold Ford Jr. at our house," said Dunavant, an avowed Republican. "He asked us to come to the church, so we did. I was really impressed with him. That church is doing some good things in that community. And it's a tough area they're trying to survive in. We sent them some money." Ten thousand dollars.

Did you get the “fund-raiser we had for Harold Ford Jr.” and the “avowed Republican” parts? Interesting, isn’t it? What’s it all about, Alfie?

Go read From a cotton empire to a Montana ranch.

What’s for breakfast?

I attended the breakfast Harold Ford sponsored for the newly elected members of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee and it’s new chair, Matt Kuhn.

The breakfast was held at Café Francisco on North Main. When I arrived a little after nine the restaurant was packed with movers, shakers, wannabe movers and shakers, posers and the just plain curious. Joe Cooper was also in attendance. Insert your own comment here.

U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. declared unity Saturday with the new leadership of the local Democratic party, a week after a hard-fought county party convention.

Ford also mounted a sharply worded defense of his support of Bush administration policy in Iraq.

"I don't have the luxury of sitting back and writing about it. I don't have the luxury of sitting back and hoping that it goes right," Ford told the group of over 150 at Cafe
Francisco in Downtown Memphis.

"As painful as it may sound to some, I'm rooting between now and next November for George Bush to get it right -- for one reason -- there are 1,800 kids dead over there. If there's a way to figure out an answer to that problem, I want it figured out. We'll figure out how to beat him another way."

Remember that this event was also a party fundraiser. I have no idea how much was raised (or promised) but I do know that Joe Cooper coughed up the only donation announced. As before, insert your own comment.

And just where was Hal Jr. last Saturday? Word has it that he was campaigning in another part of the state.

Excerpts are from today's Commercial Appeal.


Hold that thought ...

Gotta go. In the meantime, go watch a movie.

Update two on Number One Daughter

Number One Daughter is healing, getting stronger and getting some much-needed R & R. (She’s getting prettier too, if that’s possible.) Sometime next week she’ll be strong enough to head down to Tupelo to spend some time with the grandparents.

Number One Daughter Posted by Picasa


I’m impressed

Steve Haley is running for the Tennessee State Senate seat that John Ford vacated. You do remember John Ford, don’t you? How about the Tennessee Waltz? Yeah, you got it. Anyway, last night the wife, number one daughter and I attended a “meet Steve Haley” gathering in Mid-Town. The wife and I knew him from Memphis Magazine/The Memphis Flyer; number one daughter graduated from White Station with his son John.

We were curious as to where Haley stood on the issues. I could go into detail here and do what would end up sounding like an endorsement thing, but I won’t. He does have a website, so go there.

*I have been fortunate to have a successful career in public education and do not intend to benefit from my public position. If elected, I will donate my Senate salary to a scholarship fund for students to a Tennessee institution of higher learning. One student from each high school in the 29th Senate district will be awarded an equal percentage based on criteria to be determined.

He doesn’t intend to benefit from his public position. Donate his salary? Way to go. Maybe we should require all elected officials to donate their salaries to something this worthy. If elected maybe Haley will become the standard by which we measure all elected officials.

*Quoted from campaign literature


Eight hundred ballots

They have to be kidding. According to the Commercial Appeal, that’s only about “one-half of one percent of the districts’ 138,000 registered voters.” That isn’t much folks. I hope that the numbers will improve with the August 4 ballots. Hopefully. But we all know that in Memphis that doesn’t mean too much does it? This is a special election, it is an off-season election, and this is Memphis. Need I say more?
The most recent special election in May, when Kathryn Bowers was elected to the state Senate, yielded more than 1,200 early votes and about 7 percent total turnout. This election's total turnout probably will be less.

"When you look at that, you can say it's slow," he said. "I can only hope we'll get to about five percent. We'll have to wait and see."

They’re only expecting about five percent. Even worse, right? If there’s one thing Memphians have to do it is to take every election seriously. Make a choice. Never fence sit or be content to just rant and rave. You can do better and you can make a difference; you can vote. So, either use it, or run the risk of losing it. And yes, that could happen here.

For the full story go to Early votes trickling in.

Be back later

I don't really have anything to say right now, so go take in a movie or something.


Parks revisited

For another take on what to do about those pesky park names cruise on over to PeskyFly’s blog.


The dictionary says that compromise is “a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.” Now that’s a concept that is practically unknown in the city of Memphis. Take for example the non-issue of renaming Confederate, Forrest and Davis parks. One faction claims the names are offensive because of the Confederate connections, while the other staunchly wants to retain the original names by playing the history card. (Yes Virginia, there is also a history card.) What to do, what to do?

Smart City Memphis seems to have come up with a nifty idea.

Maybe the Sons of the Confederacy are right. Taking the names of their heroes off Memphis parks is rewriting history. Instead of rewriting history, maybe we just need to write it right.

To do this, there is already precedent for our simple compromise – add the names of African-American civil rights heroes to the names of the Confederate loyalists. Full post >>

I like the idea and think it is worth a try. The factions will either love it or hate it.

Where’s Hal. Jr.?

That's what delegates to Saturday’s Shelby County Democratic Convention were asking. However, it seems that now Hal Jr. wants to meet with those that elected him, or at least with those newly elected members of the party’s executive committee. Can you say “kissing up?”

So this Saturday morning (9 A.M.!) at Café Francisco (400 N. Main) Hal Jr.’s hosting a minor throw down, I mean reception. In the meantime, three questions for him. First, why weren’t you at the Shelby County Democratic Convention last Saturday? Second, will attending this reception be construed as accepting a bribe? Third, Dude, WTF was so important that you couldn’t attend the Shelby County Democratic Convention last Saturday?


Lance Armstrong Quote

This was actually the quote of the day from Left I on the News. The established media will probably bury it.

"The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change.

"Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public."

Must read

All of you out there need to read Kenneth Neill's letter to Harold Ford Jr.

Revisiting Saturday's SCDP Convention

“I thought you said it’d be close!” he said. “What happened?”

That was the response of Harold Ford Jr. after being told that David Cocke, member of the Ford camp and former two-time chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee, had been defeated in his bid to become the new party chair. Can you say surprise, Hal? Sure you can. Say it with me. SUR-PRISE!

The runaway winner in the chairman’s race had been youthful activist Matt Kuhn, the beneficiary of an ad hoc alliance between a host of newly active Democrats who called themselves “the convention Coalition,” and an established bloc of Democrats – alternately called the Herenton faction, after Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, or the Chism faction, after political broker and Herenton confidante Sidney Chism. The latter group had vied for power with Ford’s own wing of the party for more than a decade.

If that wasn’t bad enough, State Senator Rosalind Kurita attended. Kurita is running against Hal Jr. for Bill Frist’s U.S. Senate seat. As if, you didn’t know. Kurita showed up and spoke on Hal Jr.’s turf. Can you say counting coup? The lady’s got balls; big brass ones.

Go read Jackson Baker’s Memphis Flyer article to get the full story.


RE: Saturday's Shelby County Democratic Party Convention

I forgot to mention this in my previous post on the convention. State Senator Rosalind Kurita (Clarksville, TN) attended. For those that have been living off-planet for the past few months, Senator Kurita is running for the same U.S. senate seat our Harold Ford Jr. is lusting after. She only spoke briefly Saturday, but now that I’ve actually heard her, I’m even more impressed with her. She’s a tough lady. Expect a bar fight Hal.

Update on number one daughter

Not too long ago, I mentioned that number one daughter was coming home for a while. She’s been here a little over a week now, has had her surgery (endometriosis) and is recovering very nicely. Since she’s not due home until August 17, there’s plenty of time for her to enjoy her visit. Want to see photos from the surgery?

Making change

"This is a terrible, bad, no-good day for the Republican party. Today we are united." These were the words of Matt Kuhn, the newly elected chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party.

Kuhn, 34, the son of County Attorney Brian Kuhn, has managed and worked in numerous local campaigns. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2000 Democratic primary for General Sessions Court Clerk and worked as an aide to U.S. Rep. John Tanner.

A personal note: My wife and I attended yesterday’s party convention as delegates from the 91st house district. She was one of the 67 elected to the party’s executive committee. Full story>>

Erasing our history

There are two interesting articles in this morning’s Commercial Appeal concerning the current dust-up over the names of several Memphis parks. One proposes what could be done with the parkland and their memorials, while the other discusses why the entire controversy is at best ludicrous. Personally, I feel that the renaming of Confederate, Jefferson Davis and Forrest parks is wrong. Changing the names would appease a certain segment of the community but it would also be historical censorship. The past, the good, the bad and the ugly is OUR History. Don’t erase any part of it. Recognize it all, acknowledge it all and then move on.

To read the complete stories go to Forrest proposal moves graves and Censorship can’t disguise city’s heritage.


All right. I am back!

Actually, I should say that my computer is back. Remember the recent accident? Well, apparently I didn’t get to the problem quick enough. On the other hand, maybe there wasn’t enough tequila, no? Anyway, my baby has been at the computer doc since July 12. Hence, no posts since that date. I just got it back today, so hopefully there won’t be anymore unplanned lapses in posts. That’s the plan at least. Good intentions, paved roads …You know how it goes.


Can we get past this?

The city not only took the trash this morning, they also took the recyclables. And, they will every week from now on. Maybe things are finally getting back to normal. Now, if we can just get past what goes for normal in Memphis and get to better.


Adios Dennis

Dennis has come and mostly gone. The Gulf Coast dodged the bullet, or as someone put it, “it was the difference between being hit by a freight train and a semi.” Wonder who said that?

The Memphis area did not get what was predicted in yesterday’s “inland tropical storm watch’s”. Instead, we received some rain and wind. No big deal really. It was more of a bitch slap than a storm.

Number one son and his wife are back in Biloxi. He should be at work. The Duck and Barb are settling back into their regular routine in Gulfport. And all’s right in the world. Mostly.

What’s up?

One of my cripes concerning this town has always been the news coverage. I am especially referring to the Commercial Appeal. For years I felt the CA’s coverage … well, it sucked. Over the past several years though I have noticed a gradual change for the better in the CA. That’s why I can’t understand why the CA neglected to report on the June 25 Shelby County Democratic Party Caucus. What’s up with that CA?

The letter below was published in today’s CA.

New Democratic coalition ignored

Your silence on the June 25 Shelby County Democratic Party Caucus is baffling. For years, a good deal of Memphis politics has been ruled by two factions: the Chism/Herenton faction and the Ford faction.

At this caucus, a grass-roots coalition of more than 150 Democrats, the vast majority of whom were participating in this process for the first time, organized their wards and precincts, brought out support and won a significant number of ward/precinct delegate positions.

These individuals, tired of "politics as usual," decided to do something. As a result, the Convention Coalition group has the potential of having a major impact on the selection of county Democratic Party executive committee and, in turn, on the selection of the next party chairman.
Other media managed to cover this important event, but you have been silent. Why, when so many new faces stepped up, ran, and were elected precinct delegates. Where is the "fair" and "complete" reporting of this significant event in local Democratic politics?

Ann Sandberg

By the way, the wife and I are two of the mentioned delegates.

Can you tell me how to get to Mid-town …

I heard an MSNBC weather report a few minutes ago. The talking head was actually reporting from “the heart of Mid-town Memphis”. Funny. Since when has Mid-town Memphis included Beale Street between Second and Third streets? Tell her anything.

I like this lady’s style

I hadn’t heard of State Senator Rosalind Kurita before this past Spring. Now that I have, I’d like to know more about her. She’s running for the same U.S. Senate seat our Harold Ford Jr. is drooling over. You know the U.S. Senate seat that will be empty soon because Bill Frist is drooling over the White House. Yeah, that one.

Anyway, the lady seems to have some interesting ideas on ethics reform in state government that I like. For example, she has suggested a Sunshine Law for state government. There isn’t one presently? I didn’t know that.
Kurita suggests that all legislators' votes be posted on the Internet. Also, she hopes all House and Senate floor sessions and committee meetings will eventually be broadcast on TV, the Internet or both.
She hopes to see full public disclosure of what lobbyists are paid and how much they spend to influence public policy.

The more I read, the more I like about her. Harold, this lady could definitely give you a run for your money.

For the complete editorial>>


And for you history buffs ...

Telstar was launched 43 years ago today.

Number one daughter is coming home

That’s right. Number one daughter is coming. That’s a good thing. We haven’t seen her since last summer's Trip from Hell Tour II (THT2). (I’ll save THT1 and THT2 for future posts.)

Number one daughter and family live in Wasilla, Alaska. Wasilla is about 35 miles northeast of Anchorage. Nice little town.

She’s coming; just her. She hasn’t been doing well physically. She needs to see doctors here. She also needs a little TLC from mama and papa. It’ll be good having her here for awhile.

More later.


The wife and I were on the phone for most of the night with number one son. Number one son and his wife live in Biloxi. They also work at casinos, though different ones. With Dennis inbound the whole coast was making plans for a major bug-out. Everyone it seems except the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Though the M.G.C. emptied the hotels by noon yesterday, the casinos were not closed until 5 P.M. By then, northbound roads out were clogged.

Number one son calls around 5:30 P.M. He needs help. He wants a back road route from Biloxi to Grayson Louisiana. (Number one daughter-in-laws’ grandmother lives in Grayson.) In addition, an alternate route; just in case. So, we fire up the computer and start plotting routes. He and the wife hadn’t decided if they would bug-out or batten down and weather.

(Shortly after we talked, Big scary moment occurred. Didn’t you read the previous post?)

By six, they had decided to bug-out. They kept in touch during most of the drive so that we could help vector when needed. We last heard from them around 2 A.M. They were almost there.

According to the local weather pundits, we should be getting heavy weather here around midnight. Mostly they’re predicting just heavy rains and winds. No big. However, that also means that because we need to do some shopping, it is imperative that we get into (and out of) Wally World before the hordes in search for milk and bread descend.

Big scary moment last night

While getting some work done in the office last night we had a bit of an accident. There was this mug of water on the desk next to the laptop. The laptop was open and on. You see it coming don’t you? The mug just turned itself over, all by itself. Really. It could happen. The wife ran for paper towels while I turned off the laptop and inverted it to drain off as much of the water as I could.

It took paper towels, cotton swabs, a blow dryer, a screwdriver to remove the battery pack and the hard drive and a fifth of gin (for the wife) and a bottle of tequila (for myself). Obviously, it is up and running again. Amazing what speed, the right tools and good tequila can do.


Our girl Rose Posted by Picasa

Cheyenne, the couch potato

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Confederate group gathers for ceremony

The Sons of Confederate Veterans are marking the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the park's statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. It also marks the 184th anniversary of Forrest's birth on July 13, 1821.

The group plans to re-dedicate the statue with a ceremony at 2 p.m. There will also be re-enactors and exhibits in the park including a group of photographs of Forrest, some of which have seldom been seen in public.

As an African-American and a Memphian, I do not have a problem with this, although some Memphians do. Civil War re-enactors representing both sides of that conflict have done so for decades. In that sense, The Sons of Confederate Veterans are no different from any other re-enactors.

However, about the minstrel show that had been planned. That would have presented a problem. In this day, that type of entertainment has no place in our city, or in any other city for that matter. It is degrading.

This event also brings up the controversy concerning the names of certain city parks. For some Black Memphians the names Forrest, Confederate and Jefferson Davis are highly offensive and should be renamed. I disagree with this. These parks were named during a different era. The names do not reflect the sentiments that existed when these parks were first dedicated. If we change the names of these parks, what about all the others place names in the country that are offense to some group? Do we have the time or the money to change them all?

For the full story>>

For more info on the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans>>
For more info on the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans Forrest Camp 215>>


Hutchison wants a gun

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) wants a gun. She probably already has one or more, she is from Texas you know. The twist is that she wants to pack heat in the District of Columbia. At the very lease, she wants to keep a gun at her D.C. residence. There is the kicker though. For thirty years, the District of Columbia has laid claim to some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.

Hutchison has suffered the agony of being Defenseless in D.C. for twelve years, but has decided that she’s mad as hell and … You know the rest. She has filed a bill that if passed would allow her to pack heat. Wait, there’s more.

The bill would, in one swoop, negate all the gun laws the district has adopted over the past 30 years, including pre-purchase criminal-background checks and bans on semi-automatic weapons and cop-killer bullets. If it passes the Senate, it is expected to breeze through the House, which passed a similar bill last September.

For the full story>>


We Stand with You London

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Africa's future

Two good editorials concerning the current situation in Africa and attempts to rectify the continent’s long-standing problems appeared in this mornings Commercial Appeal.

Clarence Page’s Are wealthy countries hurting Africa with increased aid? appeared as Give Africa a future, not just band aid in the CA. Page’s take on Africa is that the continent needs long term solutions and not just short term aid. He likens what is needed to the “teach a man to fish” homily.

Writing for the New York Times, Sarah Vowell’s A Pat on the Back appeared as For once, even Pat Robertson gets it in today’s CA. Vowell applauds and praises Robertson. Go read what Robertson, Bono and Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs have in common. Is this possibly a Sign of the Apocalypse?

London bombings

A bit ago I emailed a friend in London to make she and her family are okay. They're fine. They live about 60 miles south of London. Hubby is out-of-country and she stayed home today, though she had planned to go into London and do some shopping. I glad she didn't.


Why the Bush Administration doesn’t want a draft

Almost no one in the executive branch wants a draft, because it would instantly give every American family a stake in U.S. foreign policy. With a volunteer Army, issues of war and peace are almost abstract; only a tiny portion of the population is directly affected. With a draft, everybody's life is on the line—a turbulent state that can energize and unify a country under serious threat but tear the same country apart in a war of stalemate or dubious motive. President Bush could not possibly want the intense debate that even the prospect of a draft would inspire.

Are we surprised? This excerpt is from a June 30 article by Fred Kaplan that appeared in Slate. The article is a must read.

Speaking of political factions …

From Jackson Baker’s latest Memphis Flyer column.

When Germantown Democrats gathered back in early June for their monthly meeting, there were two candidates on hand to offer themselves as successors to Bowers (who did resign that post) as local party chairman. By Saturday, when the club met again, the number of would-be chairmen had grown to five.

Or maybe just four. It depends on how you look at it. In addition to Joe Young) and Cherry Davis), the original two wannabes, there were now David Cocke), a two-time former chairman, and Talut El-Amin), the current acting chairman.

The fifth prospect was Matt Kuhn), a seasoned — if youngish — part-activist who introduced himself to the Germantown group as a willing draftee should factionalism prevent the consensus choice of one of the other four at the local party’s convention later this month. Kuhn declined, however, to join the others in a Q & A session following initial presentations by all five.

Anticipating a ritual protestation from other candidates that they did not themselves belong to factions, Young began his remarks with an acknowledgement that party factionalism did indeed exist.

Cocke, whom many think of as representing a “Ford” faction and Davis, considered by several to belong to a “Herenton” faction, deplored both the rumor and the fact of factionalism in eloquent, seemingly sincere speeches that surely did them no harm. So did Talut El-Amin, who has been less often pinpointed as belonging to this or that group.

None of that prevented bitterness from welling up in the Q & A — in which a number of audience members raised questions about the party’s use of local financial contributions during the 2004 election cycle and wondered aloud why the party was behind on the rent for the local Democratic headquarters.

Notable in the animated debate that followed was Cocke’s assertion that, as vice chairman last year, he did not “call the shots,” as well as Davis’ acknowledgement that “there was always this force pulling people one way or the other” during the last two years on a party executive committee that was evenly divided by what could only be called factions.

At press time, more ruckus seemed to be in store for the candidates at a candidate forum scheduled for this Tuesday night. Members of a group of newly participating Democrats now calling themselves “the Convention Coalition” posed most of the tough questions on Saturday.

For the complete column>>

SCDP Executive Board Chair Forum

Last night, the wife and I went to a forum at the main branch of the public library spotlighting candidates running for chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee. The five candidates are David Cocke (a two time former chair), Cherry Davis (a four-year member of the executive board), Matt Kuhn (a party activist and former John Tanner aid), Joe Young (worked with Myron Lowrey’s campaign) and A. Talut El-Amin (vice chair and presently acting chair). Jackson Baker of the Memphis Flyer was the moderator for the evening.

One key aspect of politics discussed was factions. All candidates seemed to agree that factions do exist within the party, but that they are not necessarily negative. Factions are a natural part of politics. They are negative when they run the party or cloud the judgment of party members. It is leadership’s function to acknowledge the factions and to work with them to achieve the common goal of moving the party forward.

Whether the local party should deal with national issues was also discussed. The candidates agreed that purely local issues do not exist anymore. Because everything from Iraq to the environment and the economy affect us locally, they should be addressed.

One thing that was apparent from the start is that A. Talut El-Amin represents the current party leadership, although that is not necessarily a strike against him. In his opening statement, he attacked his fellow candidates for what he perceives as attempts to paint a dismal picture of the achievements of the party under the current leadership. While adequate leadership HAS been lacking, I’m not sure I’d call it dismal. Then again…

David Cocke has had his chance, twice. So, maybe it’s time for some new blood.


Fourth of July Facts # 6 - 10

The first two versions of the Liberty Bell were defective and had to be melted down and recast. The third version rang every Fourth of July from 1778 to 1835, when, according to tradition, it cracked as it was being tolled for the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.

The American national anthem, the "Star-Spangled Banner," is set to the tune of an English drinking song ("To Anacreon in Heaven").

The iron framework of the Statue of Liberty was devised by French engineer Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel*, who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The patriotic poem "America the Beautiful" was published on July 4, 1895 by Wellesley College professor Katharine Lee Bates*.

Father of the country and architect of independence George Washington held his first public office at the tender age of 17. He continued in public service until his death in 1799.

Fourth of July Fact # 5

Not all members of the Continental Congress supported a formal Declaration of Independence, but those who did were passionate about it. One representative rode 80 miles by horseback to reach Philadelphia and break a tie in support of independence.

Fourth of July Fact # 4

There are many precise rules for taking care of the American flag. And speaking of flag traditions, we're sorry to report that contrary to legend, historical research has failed to confirm that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag.

Fourth of July Fact # 3

Uncle Sam was first popularized during the War of 1812, when the term appeared on supply containers. Believe it or not, the U. S. Congress didn't adopt him as a national symbol until 1961.

Fourth of July Fact # 2

Fireworks were made in China as early as the 11th century. The Chinese used their pyrotechnic mixtures for war rockets and explosives.

Fourth of July Fact # 1

Independence Day commemorates the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. However, it was not declared a legal holiday until 1941.


This just in

Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earthday died. He was 89.


There were other interesting statements on the subject of freedom in today's CA. A few are below.

When I think of freedom, I think of people having the same opportunities in life regardless of race, gender, religion or lifestyle. I think of people being paid fair and decent wages. I think of a government that provides education and health care for its citizens. Caleb Calhoun>>

Another danger is freedom misunderstood and misapplied. Where there is freedom there is responsibility. There are valid restrictions on the ways in which Americans can exercise their freedom that prevent harm to the health, safety and welfare of individuals and families. Hickman Ewing Jr.>>

Freedom means more to me than just the absence of physical constraints and restricted access. Freedom also means that one's intelligence, talents and potential are emancipated in the minds of those who hold certain groups to a lesser expectation. Kathy O. Lofton>>

Released from institutionalized bondage, however, one's point of view would no doubt shift. African-Americans like me stopped focusing on the idea of "freedom from" and started thinking of "freedom to." I am free to express myself, to seek the job I want, to define a new identity for myself within society and to seek out new experiences. As long as I respect the laws of the land, I am under no other individual's control. I have the power of self-determination. Rev. Dwight Montgomery>>

Those who defend American freedoms are fighting across our country every day. So this Fourth of July, alongside our venerated war veterans, we should thank the social workers, the lawyers, the government officials and the numerous other idealists who fight for those with no voice. They do the work that so often goes unnoticed but keeps our basic freedoms intact. These are the people who accept the responsibility for honest work and leadership that comes with freedom. Let us recognize them. Althea Northcross>>

We in the United States want to do good things around the world. We want to introduce peace and freedom to all countries, but in return we seem to be rewarded with more and more enemies. Our President and others in government talk about national security, but how about securing freedom at our level? Zofia Schmidt >>

Hot button

Last week the Commercial Appeal asked, “What does the word freedom mean to me?” I had planned to submit a response but as I wrote, I realized that I had not truly answered the question. Maybe I didn’t know how to answer this question anymore. Too much has happened. Too many of those rights our ancestors died for are disappearing thanks to the efforts of our own politicians and appointed government officials. It seems that since 9/11 the meaning of freedom has changed. Initially, the events of 9/11 united the country. Party lines did not seem to matter, at least for a while. We understood the invasion of Afghanistan. Many of us even supported the invasion. However, when we invaded Iraq many of us questioned our leaders’ actions. We have always been taught that we live in a country that was founded on the premise that it is right and natural to question the actions of our leaders. Therefore, we question and branded unpatriotic.

Though I did not submit a response, I did read those that the Commercial Appeal chose to publish. It was interesting what most responders thought of as threats to our freedom. They spoke of intolerance, ignorance, the erosion of our rights by our own elected officials and political appointees, laziness, religious fundamentalism, extremists of all ilks, the manipulation of information, and apathy. Interesting.

So what should we do? Should we keep quiet and passively watch as our rights are taken, or do we decide that we will not go quietly?

Just remember, “The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either”.

Summer memories

If you are a fan CBS Sunday Morning, you know that it always ends each broadcast with a segment showing nature at it’s finest somewhere in the United States. This morning’s segment featured the bald eagles of Homer Alaska. Been there, done that, and actually have the t-shirt to prove it, though it is an old t-shirt. We haven’t been to Homer since the summer of ’97. Someday I’ll scan in the (pre-digital) bald eagle pictures and post them. That segment brought back many great memories.

For those who have no idea where Homer is located, it is on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula. That would put it about two hundred and thirty miles southwest of Anchorage at the very end of the Sterling Highway. Particularly interesting is the fact that Homer was not always at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Prior to the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, the town at the tip of the Kenai was Seldovia. After the quake, Seldovia had become the town across the bay from Homer, the new town on the tip of the Kenai. Earthquake. Tip of the Peninsula. Get it? The quake split the peninsula. Now do you get it? Take a look at the map.

Anyway, back to the trip.

Alaska Run 3 began at 6 A.M. on the morning of Monday, June 2. We packed the truck, picked up breakfast at Mickey D’s and ate at Mom’s house. After leaving Mom’s we stopped by Chickasaw/DeSoto Park to perform morning meditations and to smudge the truck. (Standard pre-trip requirements, like checking the oil.) By nine-thirty we were headed west; Memphis to just east of Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City (with a side trip to Abilene and Salina, Kansas) to Denver; Denver to Sheridan, WY; Sheridan to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; Lethbridge to Edmonton; Edmonton to Pink Mountain, British Columbia; Pink Mountain to Watson Lake, British Columbia; and, Watson Lake to Anchorage. It had taken almost nine days. That last leg was particularly long. We did not make camp at the end of the ninth day; we just kept driving. We were so close. Besides, we had sunlight until midnight. We figured that we might as well make the most of it. We did pull over for a couple of hours sleep, but we were back on the road by 3 A.M. and made Anchorage by 7 A.M. of June 12, my birthday.

From here thing could only get better. Most of the summer was spent visiting with our daughter and her new family in Anchorage. Because Anchorage is just fifteen minutes from the wilderness, we spent quite a bit of time exploring and taking smaller camping trips. One of the smaller camping trips was to Homer. It is an interesting little town. We had been there on previous trips up in ’93 and ’95, so Homer was not new to us. This time it was like coming home. In ‘97, it had a permanent population of about five thousand, which grew to about one hundred thousand during the summer halibut season.

I could go into more detail about that summer, but I won’t. Let’s just say that the trip wasn’t long enough and we didn’t see and experience enough. Alaska Run 3 ended much too soon. We had to be home by August 11. That is when the new school season would begin for Shelby County Schools. We rolled back into Memphis late on Friday August 8. We cut it close that summer. It was certainly worth it.


Re: Bowers’ fund-raising woes

It seems that the news of Kathryn Bowers’ failed attempt at fund-raising only applied to Wednesday night's Nashville attempt. This morning the CA reported on last night’s Memphis attempt.

By the way, we now know why the Nashville attempt failed. According to Bowers:

“There were two (television) cameras standing in front of the place,” she said.
“People saw that and turned around.”

Yeah, right.

Anyway, It seems that the Memphis attempt, though better attended, wasn’t exactly a barn burner either. I still say, if I were a lobbyist, I’d think twice about throwing my support (and cash) behind an indicted lawmaker.