We've all had those moments — the little beach ball starts spinning on your laptop, or your iPad screen freezes or, as happened to me yesterday, Siri wouldn't respond to my request to text a friend. I knew the little minx was in there, but she stayed mum, no matter how hard I pressed the button to summon her.
When these things happen, I always remember the loving mantra of our company IT guy, who, when you ask about a computer malfunction, inevitably snarls: "It probably just needs to reboot. Did you restart it?" And rebooting works, almost every time. It even brought Siri back.
Which brings me to this: Here in Memphis and Shelby County, it's time to reboot. Far too many of our political offices are held by spinning beach balls. Far too many of our candidates have no business running for public office.
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of strong political reporting hereabouts — by the Flyer's Jackson Baker (you should take his cover story from last week with you into the voting booth), and by reporters at the Commercial Appeal. If you've been paying attention to the reportage, you have learned that there are judges who don't come to work on a regular basis; there are judges and judicial candidates with personal issues that should preclude them from any public office, much less that of a judgeship; there are candidates using extremely misleading political advertising, including a white judicial candidate whose ad includes a picture of a black endorsee next to his name. There are candidates and office-holders who don't pay their taxes, who abuse women, who are racists, who shoot themselves in the foot every time they open their mouth, who are drunks and pill-heads and financial miscreants. Reboot!
The Ophelia Ford Show needs to be cancelled. The Henri Brooks Show is a bad rerun. Judge Joe Brown has fallen and can't get up. Reboot. Reboot. Reboot. And it's not just Democrats. Republicans also have their fair share of clowns and buffoons. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey's tawdry campaign to unseat three Tennessee Supreme Court judges is beyond shameful, filled with lies and bald-faced distortions.
This has nothing to do with race or party. There are dedicated public servants and qualified candidates of all political stripes and ethnicities. Keep and elect the good ones. Dump and defeat the self-entitled, self-important, and stupid ones.
I know taking the time to learn about all the candidates involves effort. I know it's a long ballot and that voting can be inconvenient. But surely all sentient Shelby Countians can agree that a little inconvenience is well worth the pay-off: more honest and competent public servants; fewer fools, egomaniacs, and spinning beach balls.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."