With all the turmoil over Japan’s tragedy, many political stories have been knocked off the radar, but within the online community those conversations are alive and ongoing. Often, when visiting other cities I attend meet-ups with other bloggers and Twitter enthusiasts. The info shared from social media platforms usually scoops mainstream press nowadays. Most stories, unfortunately, are rarely reported in ethnic media outlets. This week, many discussions about the number of politicians who ran on the taking-back-the-country mantra and gave President Obama a "shellacking,” are appearing to be worse than the politicians that were ousted last November.
A blogger from Wisconsin sent me several stories about Wisconsin state Senator Randy Hopper's wife, who informed a group of protesters that Hopper is living with his 25-year-old mistress in Madison, Wisconsin. The morally righteous public servant ran his campaign on family values while shacking up with his girlfriend in a house that is not in his district. Bloggers had a field day with this story when it broke. The scandal was reported by mainstream media two weeks later.
While the mainstream media was giving us endless clips of Charlie Sheen "winning”, folks were discussing whether Sen. Randy Hooper actual lived in his district at all when he ran for office last fall. This was not a Democrat vs. Republican or Governor Walker vs. worker’s rights storyline for me. What I found more intriguing about the Sen. Hooper hoopla is that many are admitting they knew he was living with his girlfriend for nearly a year while he was running for office and no one in his community challenged him publicly about his dual residence. The anger against the White House had blinded everyone to overlook the obvious. Now that Hooper has voted for a bill that the majority of the state workers including both Republicans and Democrats hate, his personal life is now on the ballot box. Cheating is okay until you vote crazy. Interesting. No, not judging, just an observation.
In Tennessee, political observations are always interesting. The birther legislation has hit the Volunteer State with a thud. In several states, the birther legislation has been introduced but has gotten little traction. Mother Jones gave the online community a golden nugget that sent bloggers to mixing drinks at what transpired when this news item below, published in Mother Jones, went viral:
Last month, Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers introduced SB 1091, a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a long-form birth certificate in order to qualify for the ballot in the Volunteer State. Beavers, a Republican, is in good company: Nearly a dozen states have now introduced similar legislation—part of national campaign mounted by the birthers, those conservatives who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. To date they haven't had much luck; a bill proposed in Arizona looked the most promising but was scuttled in committee; on Wednesday, New Hampshire GOPers knocked down a similar proposal.
Law makers introducing bills that do not create “jobs, jobs, jobs” are becoming the norm but the head turner to this story was Sen. Mae Beavers’ actions after she introduced the bill. Wanting to strut her stuff and show her passion and zeal, she went on a Blogtalk internet radio show, Reality Check, to discuss protecting our country from a Manchurian candidate who could harm our country by running for President. Have mercy.
Below are excerpts from the transcript of the show that make the entire state of Tennessee look like everyone repeated 4th grade twice:
RC: What are the specific requirements in the bill?
MB: That they have to have the long form birth certificate.
RC: What is the long form birth certificate?
MB: Now, you're asking me to get into a lot of things that I haven't really looked into yet.
(Sen. Mae Beaver was promoting a bill that affects how we vote but did very little research about her own bill; its gets better or worse depending on what you are drinking!) Keep reading.
The host then asked the obvious follow-up: why put a term into the bill, if you don't know what it means? Beavers responded, "Well, we are following some of the bills that have been filed in lots of other states, and you know how it is, you file your bill and, you know, you prepare before you go to committee."
File first, understand later? Dumb.
Beavers went on to state more clearly, "I'm not entirely sure what long form means." She seemed genuinely surprised by the news that not all states even print long-form birth certificates anymore. "I only know about Tennessee," she explained. As for her motives for introducing the bill, Beavers didn't declare herself as an outright birther, but she noted, "I think people have raised questions about [Obama's birth] enough to make everybody wonder." Although the state of Hawaii has produced a certificate of live birth for Obama that has been widely distributed, Beavers said proof of Obama's citizenship must have gotten buried in her inbox: "I get emails all the time with things in them, you know; I can't honestly tell you that I read all of them, because I get so many." Geez.
Whether you are love or hate the President, electing officials with this kind of intellect to public office should be illegal.
Speaking of criminal behavior, is it a crime to ask legitimate questions of those who are running for office locally? In an effort to not make anyone look bad, Nashville-Metro Council members are not being challenged about their voting record. All members of the Black Caucus hemmed and hawed and voted against a multi-billion construction project, May Town, that would have been built with private funds in favor of the Mayor’s blessed and highly favored Music City Convention that was funded with taxpayer dollars based on property taxes.
Yes, local elected officials who represent the poorest residents in Nashville voted to fund a project to bring visitors in a down economy with tax payer dollars based on property taxes when a large number of Nashvillians have lost their homes to foreclosure. Brilliant!
The MCC Project has had its share of controversy which is being swept under the rug now that 2011 elections are around the corner. We are being given the three-piece-chicken-and-biscuit-special speeches while ignoring what the community of color has really gotten from the project. A wing, a dash of hot sauce, with prayers on the side. “We are getting 20% in minority spending”, I have heard a few potential candidates say lately. No one has asked the obvious follow up, “20% of what actual dollar amount?” Please.
The Mayor’s chief cheerleader for the MCC, Walt Baker, was revealed as a racist, at least in his emails. The PR firm debacle was all over the place. And very recently, Metro Finance Director, Rich Riebeling, one of Mayor Karl Dean's top advisers, failed to disclose fully personal business dealings with a prominent attorney and a local engineering firm, which have both won large contracts for the downtown convention center project. Wonder if any color folks bid on those contracts? There have been protests about hiring locals on the nightly news, yet, we allow council members off the hook by not questioning them about any of this. Why? Are accountability questions felonious? No one is perfect, but we should not dodge the obvious. For some, running for office is a hobby. Folks love to talk about what they have accomplished but no politician, Republican or Democrat, Black or White, long or short form supporters, should have an expectation of not being challenged about legislation they supported or bills they voted on, especially when it was not in the interests of the very people who voted for them.
In a media environment where followup questions have become obsolete, very little research is done on conflicts of interests in government dealings, and the cost of elections keep skyrocketing; politicians will say whatever it takes to get in and stay in office. This hurts the voting public, breeds voter apathy and puts out the fire of the next generation of voters who can really make a difference. I am just a blogger, but like it or not, I am going to do the unpopular thing; ask questions. Asking questions is desperately needed, especially in the color community, because a hot wing and prayers will not bring “jobs, jobs, jobs” to the communities of color in Tennessee.
Article first published as National, State and Local Political Observations on Blogcritics.