Monday, February 23, 2009


[caption id="" align="alignright" width="160" caption="If you don't know, President Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein, which means "good-looking.""]If you dont know, President Barack Obamas middle name is Hussien, which means good-looking.[/caption]

A few days ago, the communications chief for the Tennessee GOP commented on my blog post which called the actions of the state's Republican leadership childish and self-defeating with regards to the speaker of the house fiasco.

I accused the Tennessee GOP of referring to President Barack Obama as Barack — Hussein — Obama as many times as possible for political gain, playing on the obvious name association with the deposed Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein.

To clear the record of our honorable, mostly laughable state GOP,  Mr. Bill Hobbs said in a comment that I was mistaken about how many times Hussein had been used:
"False. Completely false.

The TRP used Obama’s middle name the exact same number of times that Obama himself used it in taking the oath of office.


Now it's at least two. Today in the City Paper, I read this:
While Sen. John McCain “repudiates” using Sen. Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein, the Tennessee Republican Party is embracing it.

The Tennessee GOP sent out an anti-Obama press release Monday in which the Illinois Democrat was referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama.” ...

When asked if Obama’s middle name though – the same name as former Iraqi president and tyrant Saddam Hussein – gave off a different connotation than others, Smith suggested that Obama’s parents needed to be contacted.

“You can call his momma and daddy on that one,” Smith said."

Stay classy, Robin Smith, chairwoman of aforementioned state party. Good grief with this. Where to start?

First, Smith and the Tennessee Republican Party are naive to think this crap works (ahem, election?).

Maybe they are just sore losers and are reverting to (what they are denying is) bush-league name calling. No matter what they say, it's name calling. Point: Calling someone "Hitler" would also be a negative moniker.

Maybe, just maybe, the TRP is actually noble in their Husseining around. Perhaps they are trying to take the sting out of the president's middle name by repeating it until the hurt of hundreds of thousands slain Iraqis is gone. They are taking back "Hussein" for the good guys.

Let's explore the third — and most likely — reason the state GOP keeps on the Hussein train:

  • In Arabic, Hussein means "good-looking." Barack: guilty as charged.

  • Hussein is a popular name in Sweden. It ranked highest in 1999, when it was the 168th most popular name for baby boys in Sweden. In 2006, it ranked at number 206. I don't see why they are trying to get it good with the Swedes, but I'm monitoring the situation.

  • GOPers are trying to give some props to fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan. Tennessee GOPers could use some style. OH SNAP!

With the venom gone and Hussein claimed for everyone, I'm going to start using the president's middle name in my everyday vernacular.

"Hey, bro. That shirt is real spiffy. The gals are going to think your incredibly Hussein."

"OMG. P Diddy and Miley Cyrus are here. This party's Hussein."

"The Tennessee GOP is having a bake sale, but those cookies aren't Hussein enough for me."

Heck, the popularity of the Tennessee GOP's "Hussein" movement might prompt Obama to pull a Coolidge. His given name was John Calvin Coolidge, but he started going by just his middle name. I like this option, but it's not plausible because the name "Barack" is perhaps too awesome.

But there is one thing this "Hussien" deal lays out perfectly. It gives historians the option of referring to Obama by three letters, a designation reserved for great presidents. JFK. FDR. LBJ. And now, BHO. (To be fair, Abe Lincoln and George Washington didn't have middle names.)

A conversation coming to a water cooler near you:

"Lunch today? KFC?"

"You're SOL. I brought a BLT. So what do you make of W's legacy?"

"From my POV, W was a WMD who gave the USA a figurative STD, leaving the economy DOA for BHO."

"LOL. Agreed. He only watched out for VIPs, leaving my IRA TKO'd and me with IOUs."

"We'd be better off if W was MIA."

"ROTFL. What are your acronymical thoughts on BHO?"

"BHO's TCB. He's fixing W's eight years of WTF with a BFB that will finally give taxpayers some TLC and ROI."

"On second thought, I will go to KFC. With BHO's tax breaks I have an extra $8 bucks this week."


Extra reading:

Juan Cole blogs he's proud of his president's name in "Barack Hussein Obama, Omar Bradley, Benjamin Franklin and other Semitically Named American Heroes."

Friday, February 20, 2009

CQ: GOP Gov. Candidate Zach Wamp Tied To Lobbyist Earmark Scandal

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="266" caption="I don't think it's fair to sully the name of Richards Simmons, who is not mentioned in CQ's report. But this is the best picture of Wamp I could find. (Credit: Contact Music)"]I dont think Richards Simmons is attached to this Wamp scandal, but its the best picture I could find.[/caption]

Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) has been accused along with a laundry list of federal lawmakers of taking $23,000 of illegal campaign controbutions from a well-connected Washington lobbying firm, according to the Congressional Quarterly.

The FBI is investigating.

Wamp, who had announced a 2010 bid for governor, secured a $2.8 million contract for a client of lobbying firm, The PMA Group. Financial reports show Wamp received $23,000 in campaign contributions from firms tied to PMA.

The report says more than 100 House members secured more than $300 million worth of congressional earmarks for PMA's clients since 2001. The same group has accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.

From CQ:
More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha , the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.

“It shows you how good they were,” said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The sheer coordination of that would take an army to finish.”

PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.

From a lay person's perspective, you don't want your name on this list.

Funny: Wamp was recently heard complaining about "bad spending" in the stimulus bill.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dr. Frist starting club to point out Tenn.'s education problems

Well, Bill, you're going to need more than 10 meetings.

Broadway, 1100 reports:
"Pointing to Tennessee's ranking in the bottom 10 for educational achievement nationwide, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist called improving the state's schools a moral imperative and announced his new effort to do that.

He's launching the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, featuring a series of town hall and steering committee meetings across the state plus project teams to address teacher quality, technology and other topics.

"We don't need to be the 41st in the country," Frist said. "The biggest legacy we could leave is to pull Tennessee up."

Excuse me, Bill. Weren't you once a powerful U.S. senator? A senator with influence? A senator who could have gotten the ball rolling on meaningful education reform that didn't look like No Child Left Behind?

Yes you were. But, at the time, you were more concerned with pushing the neo-con agenda and making diagnosis from the senate floor.

Now you give us SCORE. Considering our state's high teenage pregnancy rate, I'm sure there is already enough scoring. But I digress.

This is, at the very least, an admirable cause. Tennessee needs better education like a meth addict needs teeth and skin cream.

Too bad the club's only real power is its ability to release a report with former Sen. Bill's John Hancock. And you know what you can get with $1.29 and Bill Frist's signature? A Pepsi — maybe.

Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see this report filled with brave, new ideas for Volunteer State schools. I'm as progressive as anybody.

SPOILER ALERT: Brave, new ideas in education require big boxes of tax payer gold.

But most of Tennessee's public schools have one big hurdle in common: they get their funding from a county commission. And county commissions, for the most part, hate funding school budgets.

It's a purposefully painful and contentious relationship.

So where would funding for Frist's ideas come from?

  1. County commissions gladly agree to spend more to adopt reforms. Not likely.

  2. State lawmakers mandate the counties spend more. Not likely.

  3. The state picks up the tab. With what money?

  4. Millionaire, former-Sen. Bill Frist pays for it out of the goodness of his heart. HA! (Put your money where your mouth is doctor.)

In this political climate change, which is man-made, I don't see any of these actually happening.

Granted, the cause is noble and the lip service is needed. But I just don't see much coming of this.

I hope like hell I'm wrong.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Have a sense of humor, TN GOP!

The Grand (really) Old (and cranky, no-fun) Party in Tennessee has no sense of humor.

The Associated Press is reporting today the always classy state GOP took out an ad portraying the newly -- and fairly -- elected Speaker of the House Kent Williams as a Judas.

The Tennessee Republican Party has run an advertisement in House Speaker Kent Williams' hometown newspaper to denounce the man they booted from the GOP earlier this week.

The ad in the Elizabethton Star says Williams betrayed the core values of the party when he allowed himself to be nominated and elected speaker of the House by the chamber's 49 Democrats.

The ad also complains that Williams assigned the best office space and staff to Democrats.

Whayh whayh whayh! I'd like to officially served the lamest party in the state a plate of whamburgers and French cries.

They already booted him from the party. But now they have to insult him in his own newspaper. This behavior is exactly why the Republicans will lose their grip on the Volunteer State.

No ideas. No innovation. No tolerance. No sense of humor (unless they are telling the jokes).

No surprises either. This is the same group that mercilessly referred to President Barack Obama as Barack — Hussein — Obama every chance they had. Until. John McCain told them to have a glass of shut your pie hole.

The Tennessee GOP is the most adolescent organization in politics today.

The whole Williams thing is a product of reaping what you sow. Had the state GOP not campaigned against him in the last election, he might've been willing to play ball with them.

Instead, this is what they get.

Hey, Kent. You're better off without them.