Harold Ford Jr, Prince of Tennessee

Standard

The flag of Tennessee

Like an apocalyptic vision, I have been tormented by the frighteningly real prospect that the man I have referred to as the Dark Sith, the Whore, and the Anti-Christ, is once again on the make. And, like Revelations teaches, once that evil is unleashed, ain’t nothing or nobody safe.

Tennessee is a small, benighted, southern backwater that has always been ruled by a corporate oligarchy of rapacious capitalists. Three sons of Tennessee have assumed the nation’s highest office and all have been significant historical figures in their individual capacities. They are Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson, each a more dangerous fascist war hawk than the last.

This year, another son of Tennessee is running for President, and no, I am not referring to former Senator Fred Thompson or former Vice President Al Gore. I am talking about Harold Ford Jr, the new Prince of Tennessee, now that Al Gore has so unmistakably abdicated his title and the throne that went with it.

Ford is planning to make one last stab at capturing the imperial throne of the presidency and the first step on this long march to power is the Governorship of the Volunteer State. Two of Tennessee‘s Presidents have used the office of governor as a stepping-stone toward national office. All three manipulated the levers of power and were the willing facilitators of the aristocratic South’s class war to defend white supremacy and preserve slavery.

In this respect, Harold Ford Jr is no different. A corporate whore with no peer, Harold Ford Jr plays the political game with the gusto and virtuosity of a chess master. One only had to watch the brotha work as his 2006 Senate Campaign Chairman, Congressman Lincoln Davis, stabbed him in the back and announced his 2010 candidacy for Governor on October 8, 2007. Davis was quoted as saying to the Associated Press “I don’t think (Ford) is going to run because I would imagine that if I’m in the race, he’ll step aside.”

Bullshit.

The same article said, “an advisor to Ford and the head of the Tennessee Democratic Party confirmed that Ford is “seriously considering” a run to succeed Governor Phil Bredesen in 2010.” Two days later Davis abruptly reversed course and announced that his “immediate focus will be on working every day for the people of the 4TH district.” The Associated Press summed up by saying Davis said he remains interested in running for governor, but will wait to make a decision later.”

Throughout this whole spectacle, Harold Ford Jr didn’t say a mumblin’ word and dispatched his rival with a thoroughness and skill rarely displayed by someone of his age. His corporate contributors have invested much into his corporate friendly political career and they are intent on recouping their investment by making him governor and subsequently making him President.

In the furtherance of this presidential objective, Ford has taken great pains since his 2006 loss to locate himself at the nexus of financial and political power by taking positions at both Merrill Lynch and as Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. In August, he and Governor Martin O’Malley wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post beseeching their party’s presidential candidates not to forsake the “center” which is code for not forsaking the corporate agenda of continued globalization, privatization of public assets, and imperialism. O’Malley-Ford sounds like a future Democratic ticket if you ask me.

Back home in Tennessee, there will be some competition from the GOP for the gubernatorial throne in the form of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who retired from the Senate to run for President. Too bad for him that his candidacy withered on the vine of wingnut indifference. Two Thousand and Ten is an opportunity to revive his career and reach for the brass ring again, just as it is for Harold. I promise you that this will be the race to watch.

As a DLC acolyte wedded to war and eliminating estate taxes for the wealthiest among us, Ford has been a Negro cog in a Democratic machine of deceit. He has been a vocal supporter of sitting Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, a former HMO executive, and corporate pedophile, who pimps the plight of uninsured children as a ruse to slash the state’s Medicaid caseload by over 200,000 people in a corporate jihad on behalf of the HMO’s, thus jeopardizing health care access for everyone, rationing health care access to the state’s poorest and most vulnerable, and disproportionately impacting the health care of African Americans negatively.

As you know, while not actively participating in the classist and racist destruction of health care access for the African American community, Ford comes from a black political dynasty headed by his father, Harold Sr, who aggressively sought to loot the program before its ignominious demise. This makes Prince Harold guilty by association.

Writing about this for the first time last year in the post Jake Ford, Tale of a Puppet, I said, You see, Mr. Harold is a lobbyist of high standing, having turned to the profession after two decades in Congress and a perilous brush with a fraud indictment. In a short space of time, Harold, Sr. has made untold millions while conspiring with his clients to loot TennCare, Tennessee’s formerly world class, top-shelf medicaid program.

“According to an article in the Commercial Appeal by Marc Perrusquia, TennCare subcontractor MIM Corp paid Harold, Sr. $1.6 million between 1998 and 2001. In addition, he received more than $1 million in lobbying fees from other firms and MIM corp to look after their interests in Nashville.”

“Mr. Harold or surrogates, Harold, Jr. or Newton conspired to contribute more than $15,000 to state politicians with a say on gutting TennCare, a program that serves 40% of the African American population and 50% of our children. In addition, two of the crooked black politicians who were caught up in the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal received contributions from Ford.”

The Governor received $ 12,500 from Harold,Sr., Harold, Jr., and Newton “Jake” Ford. 114 contributions totalling over $206,000 flowed to the Governor’s campaign coffers from Health Care affiliated interests, which in turn, were handed a big payoff in the form of TennCare’s destruction.”

TN State Senator John Ford, Harold, Sr’s. brother, also received a contribution of $1,000 from his brother. In addition, Senator Ford pocketed over $237,000 from a TennCare dental health care provider, in a separate side deal apart from Harold, Sr. and Jake’s hustle.”

John Ford went on to be indicted and convicted by the feds for an unrelated bribery scheme and now faces charges for the aforementioned chicanery. Calls surreptitiously recorded by federal investigators had Mr. Harold warning his brother that what he was doing was highly improper and would get his black behind locked up. He didn’t listen. After beating two federal prosecutions for bank fraud, Harold Sr. knows exactly what not to do. Some Negroes think they are untouchable and never learn, as two of Mr. Harold’s politician brothers who got locked up can attest. Others listen to what their Daddy has to say and take copious notes.

Without a political godfather like Mr. Harold to guide him Barack Obama’s ill timed presidential bid is imploding because of a series of arrogant missteps and the deleterious effects of his vacuous rhetoric. It is clear that he will never be President and that Prince Harold knows this too, uses his DLC chairmanship as an excuse not to endorse him, and is positioning himself for his own run in the future.

In the final analysis, Harold Sr and Harold Jr operate on a different level than their kith and kin and are the skillful practitioners of a corporate friendly influence peddling that will always steer clear of illegality and be one step ahead of clever and one notch below that of blackface minstrelsy. It’s enough to make Mr. Harold a black kingmaker and possibly the father of the first black President of the United States.

Stopping Tennessee’s crown prince of deception should be the first priority of black progressives everywhere. However, with his engagement to Snow White on tap, he might have already done our jobs for us. Only time will tell. Expect to see an elaborate roll out of professional PR touting this twosome and don’t be surprised if you see them on Montel or some such program cooing and cuddling and whispering sickening platitudes about family, home and hearth. Any day now I expect the future Mrs. Ford will be wearing a conservative string of pearls and be attired immaculately in an age appropriate and politically correct Donna Karan ensamble. Whatever happens, Harold Ford Jr is on a collision course with the aspirations of the black community and we all stand to loose if he wins.

Nikki Tinker, Corporate Mammy

Standard

Stunningly beautiful, flawlessly dressed, seemingly cosmopolitan and well educated, Pinnacle Airlines Attorney Nikki Tinker looks nothing like the plantation throwback and sellout that she is.

Yes, Children, she ain’t nothin’ but a corporate mammy and Trojan horse for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

A protégé of Harold Ford, Jr, Tinker is an agent of the Memphis corporate power structure and has been running behind her corporate slave master, Phil Trenary, CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, like a 21st century Mammy.

The mammy archetype is such a powerful symbol of black subjugation. For some, it is soothing, and for others, it enrages. I’m one of the latter. For me, the mammy stereotype is evocative of a particular Memphis twist to the racist mammy image, and is so appropriate to a discussion of the impending primary challenge Tinker is mounting to freshman Congressman Steve Cohen.

  

During the forties, Memphis blacks continued chafing under the dictatorial rule of E.H. “Ed” Crump, the local political boss who ruled both Memphis and Tennessee for over forty years.

Crump ran a sophisticated operation in which his operatives paid the poll taxes of African Americans and he voted them for his slate of candidates. Crump supported white supremacy and never backed a black candidate. For years, most could be bought off with copious amounts of walking around money, beer and barbeque.

Others needed something more and sometimes got it as Jim Crow weakened. G. Wayne Dowdy penned an article in the Journal of Negro History entitled “The White Rose Mammy: Racial Culture and Politics in World War II Memphis.” He wrote, “…forty years of Crump rule allowed blacks access to the political process through him or his subordinates. Better schools, housing and city employment were results of this alliance between white and black. To be sure, the relationship was at best an unequal one, leaving most African Americans with little protection from the overall practice of white supremacy. Indeed, when individual blacks challenged Crump and the local Democratic Party, retribution followed.”

Population changes as a result of the war swelled the black population to 41% and racial tensions increased and dissent from the black community followed. Dowdy takes up the story, “As this unrest was spreading, the White Rose Laundry Cleaners erected a mechanical sign on Linden Avenue, which was not very far from prominent Peabody Avenue where Mayor Chandler and Mr. Crump both lived. The sign depicted an African American woman, dressed in traditional mammy garb, bending over a wash tub.”

“Founded by Jewish immigrant Henry Klyce in 1928, the White Rose Laundry was representative of the economic importance of the local Jewish community. Nominally a minority, the Jews of Memphis had almost completely assimilated into the prevailing white southern culture. Several Jews even held important posts within the Crump organization. The depiction was apparently done in a humorous fashion, with the woman bending over and revealing her undergarments. Many blacks saw little humor in this and instead were angered.”

African Americans protested and wrote Mayor Chandler, “The advertisement represents a complete effrontery to Negro people, in its subtle although effective ridicule of the race.” Chandler intervened on behalf of the offended African American community and asked the owners of the White Rose Laundry to take down the offending mammy sign. While it is unknown the extent of Boss Crump’s involvement in this case, what is known is that nothing of consequence happened in Memphis without his consent and the sign came down, although when is not remembered.

Today, what should offend the black community is the Trojan-horse candidacy of Nikki Tinker, a twenty-first century white rose mammy, and the machinations of her plantation puppet master, Phil Trenary. Her $100,000 haul at the end of the last fundraising quarter has proven that she’s still as serious a contender as she was in 2006, when she raised over $577,000. The Corporate Mammy’s candidacy is an affront to the black community, fueled as it is by the corporate friends and associates of her plantation puppet master, and is inimical to our social, political, and economic interests in Memphis. If black folk ain’t careful, they’ll empower another Boss Crump in the form of a present day corporate executive, or they will continue to empower the slightly less objectionable Steve Cohen, a man who has coveted this seat for years and who ran for it and lost to Harold Ford, Jr back in 1996.

It used to be different. Proud black women like Ida B. Wells and Maxine Smith, a civil rights crusader, school board member, and community elder, showed the young how its supposed to be done. They used whatever community resources they had to work on behalf of the community and to hold the white power structure to account. Today’s black politicians worship at the altar of the corporate power structure and like American Express, don’t leave home without it.

Campaign receipts and news stories to date reveal Tinker to be a Trojan horse candidate willing to pander to homophobia in the black ministerial community. The names of prominent black homophobes like Rev. LaSimba Gray, a supporter of last year’s “independent” candidacy of Jake Ford, are littered throughout her campaign report. It won’t work with bloggers like Thaddeus Matthews and me willing to spread the word.

Steve Cohen

More progressive than either Ford, Jr or Tinker, Cohen’s motives in running for this seat aren’t as pure as he claims. He won this seat because of divisions in the black community and a slate of too many black candidates. Only in Congress for nine months, it hasn’t taken him long to travel to Israel and cavort with the most extreme right-wing political actors in that country-the same people who brought last summer’s war with Lebanon that was roundly condemned by human rights groups. Nobody was blameless during that war-Hezbollah was not, but like a fight among children, somebody started it. Israel started the conflict last summer with cluster munitions supplied by the United States.

While a strong opponent of the Iraq War, Cohen has said nothing that I can find about the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions by Israel to kill innocent civilians in Lebanon. That war was an abrogation of the international rules of war and a stench in the nostrils of God. What is needed in Memphis is a real progressive candidate willing to stand up and fight all forms of injustice. Neither the Corporate Mammy nor Cohen fit the bill. However, in the absence of a true progressive, Cohen will have to do until the real thing comes along.

 

Jake Ford, the tale of a puppet

Standard

 

Jake Ford

Like Pinocchio,  Jake Ford is not a real boy, he is a limp and lifeless marionette of his creator father, Harold Ford, Sr.  Jake’s recent Independent candidacy for his brother’s Memphis House seat, the one daddy bequeathed to Harold, Jr. is lifeless because it is nothing more than the deceptive creation of Harold, Sr.

You see, Mr. Harold is a lobbyist of high standing, having turned to the profession after two decades in Congress and a perilous brush with a fraud indictment.  In a short space of time,  Harold, Sr. has made untold millions while conspiring with his clients to loot TennCare, Tennessee’s formerly world class, top-shelf medicaid program.  

According to an article in the Commercial Appeal by Marc Perrusquia,  TennCare subcontractor MIM Corp paid Harold, Sr. $1.6 million between 1998 and 2001.  In addition, he received more than $ 1 million in lobbying fees from other firms and MIM corp to look after their interests in Nashville. 

Harold, Sr took both of his remaining sons into his lobbying firm and used them for his ends. He also stood idly by while Governor Bredesen, the heartless, former multi-millionaire HMO executive dismantled TennCare and removed 200,000 sick and indigent people from TennCare rolls in a fake budget crisis that never needed solving. 

Mr. Harold or surrogates, Harold, Jr. or Newton conspired to contribute more than $15,000 to state politicians with a say on gutting TennCare, a program that serves 40% of the African American population and 50% of our children.  In addition, two of the crooked black politicians who were caught up in the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal received contributions from Ford.

The Governor received $ 12,500 from Harold,Sr., Harold, Jr., and Newton “Jake” Ford.  114 contributions totalling over $206,000 flowed to the Governor’s campaign coffers from Health Care affiliated interests, which in turn, were handed a big payoff in the form of TennCare’s destruction. 

 TN State Senator Kathryn Bowers, the black, redheaded, Aunt Jemima who sat on the TennCare oversight committee in the House of Representatives and was quoted in the Tennessean as saying  “Our TennCare program is in need of major surgery” received $1,000 from Harold, Sr.

TN State Senator John Ford, Harold, Sr’s. brother, also received a contribution of $1,000 from his brother. In addition, Senator Ford pocketed over $237,000 from a TennCare dental health care provider, in a separate side deal apart from Harold, Sr. and Jake’s hustle. 

This all brings me back to Jake Ford, the Pinocchio like puppet who ain’t never had a real job and who wishes to become a real boy-congressman so he can use his office to serve daddy’s nefarious interests instead of his constituents.  Because of the free-for-all primary in which too many black candidates split the black vote and his cousin Joe Ford didn’t receive his Uncle Harold’s backing, white State Senator Steve Cohen was able to win.  With over twenty years in office and a progressive record, he stands head and shoulders over the puppet Jake.

Steve Cohen

The campaign seems to revolve around rallying the black community in a deceptive campaign of racial solidarity, gay bashing against “gay marriage” and implying that the never married Cohen is also gay.  Stooping to demagoguery around “gay marriage” is usually the last refuge of a scoundrel these days.  The time for racial solidarity was when the Governor dismantled health care for hundreds of thousands of people, a disproportionate number of whom were black.  It couldn’t be done because the Fords were too busy looting the system. It is time for this dynastic greed machine to be challenged.