Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin Claims to Read "Most," "All," "Any" Print News Sources, But Cannot Name a Single One

You know who you are, Sarah Palin? You're Batgirl!

Have the local right-wing blogs just given up trying to defend the crazy crap that Sarah "Lipstuck" Palin says? I hardly see any blogged defenses of her policy views since she has started doing real interviews and chaperoned do-over interviews:

The Causes of the Slide in the Support of this Bailout Plan

From Pew:
The public's top worry about the current situation is that "those who are responsible for causing the crisis will be let off the hook." Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) say they are very concerned about this, including 77% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 69% of independents. More than six-in-ten (63%) say they are very concerned that "the government's actions won't fix the things that caused this problem in the first place."
Big business and political leaders can say what they will about the bailout repairing this gaping wound instead of just putting a band-aid across it for the time being. After 8 years of George W. Bush and 2 years of a do-nothing Democratic Congress, Americans are rightfully ambivalent and less passionate about what has the potential to be another White House flim flam. They're gun shy and suffering Bush fatigue. Do you blame them?

But the majority of Americans who say that they have thought quite a bit about the bailout debate emphasize the very issues that Nancy Pelosi brought up in her so-called "partisan" speech yesterday:
Most Americans (54%) say they have given a lot of thought to the debate in Washington over how to respond to recent problems in the financial markets. Those who have given a lot of thought to the issue are much more likely than others to say they are very concerned that those responsible for the crisis will be let off the hook, that the government will not address root causes of the crisis, and that it gets the government too involved in the markets.

And how's this for misplaced priorities on the part of Republicans vis a vis the public's greatest concerns:
A 54%-majority of Americans say they are very concerned that the government's action "won't do enough to help homeowners in danger of losing their homes." The partisan gap is greatest on this aspect of the bill, with 66% of Democrats and just 37% of Republicans seeing this as a major concern. Perhaps surprisingly, Republicans do not express particular worry about excessive government involvement in the nation's financial markets.
If there is any doubt that Republicans are losing any shred of integrity they had, news that they admittedly don't care about excessive government intrusion into markets should put it right to bed.

Look, I'm as concerned about declining home prices, delays on municipal capital budgets, and the restriction of credit as the next consumer, but if we're going to do something, let's make sure we get it right the first time so that we are not faced with even greater problems in the future. The majority is not always right, but in this case, their cautionary populism and suspicion of government is wise and significant. They really seem to want to stop digging this hole deeper and actually climb out.

A More Plausible Cause of the Bailout Defeat: Decay of the Conservative Coalition

Yesterday's bailout defeat had less to do with Wall Street, less to do with Main Street, and more to do with Congress reflecting the American electorate's vote of no-confidence in Bush Presidency's economic policies of the past 8 years, even beyond the pull of party loyalty. You cannot at once saddle House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the Democrats (who voted 60% with the Bush bailout) for that and be called "fair."

Want to look for causes? Try the way things fall apart in the crumbling conservative wing of the Republican Party:
In Washington over the last week, there were lots of ideas about what a bailout of Wall Street ought to look like. But none had less chance of becoming law than the plan put out by the core of the House GOP caucus, the conservatives known as the Republican Study Committee. The members of this group (which has more than its share of extremists and buffoons) offered as the cure to our current woes the removal of regulations on businesses and a suspension of the capital-gains tax, as though they were the congressional equivalent of those Japanese soldiers hunkered down on remote islands, unaware that the war had ended years before and that their side lost.

Not that anyone much cares what the Republican Study Committee thinks. But its desperate attempt to head off government intervention into the smoothly humming operation of the free market, comical though it might be, tells us something about what our politics will look like after this election. The conservative movement that has dominated American politics for the last three decades is sputtering toward the end of its relevance. Its various factions, so willing in the past to put their differences aside in service of the goal of obtaining and holding power, are heading for a civil war.

One of the Republicans who voted against the Republican administration says that Pelosi's speech had nothing to do with his vote:

Double Standard

Over at the City Paper the professional association for developers is not a special interest group or a guild lobby, but "Nashville's development community." There's something benign, serene, almost sedative about that label.

Over at the City Paper neighborhood associations are not called "Nashville's neighborhoods community," but they are instead discredited with names like "goo goos" and are called "forces" that impose their wills on the rest of Nashville. There is something menacing, impractical, and unprogressive about those labels.

Maybe the pejorative and vicious double standard is due to the newspaper's "healthy readership" in Williamson County, but I think it is more the result of their unwillingness to acknowledge the true power and money of developers. They are in gesellschaft denial, and they must have something to lose should they risk alienating developers. Otherwise, they would be more accurate in their journalism.

Council Member Seems to Join in the Scapegoating of Pelosi for Republican Failures

The whole thought of approaching arch conservative Republican Marsha Blackburn hat-in-hand makes my skin crawl, but Metro Council Member Emily Evans has decided that is the best approach to her and others in Tennessee's DC delegations in the wake of the failure of bailout plan earlier on Monday. I guess she's got to do what she's got to do.

But I am at a complete loss in understanding one portion of CM Evans's letter to Blackburn et al.:
I saw Nancy's speech before the vote. Even someone from San Francisco ought to know that when bringing bi-partisan legislation to a vote, you really need to at least feign bi-partisanship. That usually means calling on your colleagues to serve the interests of the country above their own political interests. She didn't do that and I guess that made you mad. Honestly, I can't say I blame you.
I'm with Josh Marshall on blaming Pelosi for the vote results: I've listened to the speech, and I don't see it as divisive or markedly partisan as the Republican leadership (and now Emily Evans) has argued. Watch the whole thing for yourself, and see if you can help me understand what I am missing here:

People keep criticizing it as partisan, but none of Pelosi's critics bother to quote specific sections that are aimed at dividing the parties on the issues. I don't get it.

With 60% of Dems and 33% of Republicans voting for the bill, blaming Pelosi looks like scapegoating to me. It's a lame claim. It doesn't fly, and it looks a little like pandering to bruised egos in the council member's letter.

UPDATE: On another note, while CM Evans sees 2008 paralleling 1929, others see a truer parallel with 1932:
To me, the recent House defeat of the financial bailout bill echoes the defeat of the national sale tax in 1932. The Depression dried up federal revenues, so the Hoover administration proposed a national sales tax to raise money. Business and the leadership of both parties favored the bill, but the public was overwhelmingly opposed. Liberal Republican Fiorella LaGuardia led a bipartisan revolt against the bill. House Speaker John N. Garner actually left the speaker’s chair to go into the well and plead with his fellow Democrats to pass the bill. Garner normally had tight control on his party, but not this time. The bill was defeated 153-223.

In both cases, an unpopular Republican administration put forward a proposal to deal with an economic crisis, supported by the Democratic leadership in the House and the vast majority of the business community. Nonetheless, a bipartisan populist revolt sent it down to defeat.

UPDATE: CM Evans asked me to post her revised paragraph about Pelosi:

I saw Nancy's speech before the vote. Even someone from San Francisco ought to know that when bringing bi-partisan legislation to a vote, you really need to at least feign bi-partisanship. That usually means calling on your colleagues to serve the interests of the country above their own political interests. She didn't do that and I guess that made you mad. Honestly, I can't say I blame you. But, returning her partisan behavior with some of your own really isn't helping us here.
The revision doesn't change the impression here that she is reading partisanship into Pelosi's speech. The speech was not horribly partisan from where I sit, and Pelosi seemed to be making appeals for safeguards to protect taxpayers. Since when is that partisan? The Republicans' egotistical sense of woundedness is infinitely too petty to be placed on the same balance with Pelosi's speech. It's still largely scapegoating, in my opinion.

UPDATE: Now Knoxnews.com's Katie Allison Granju is uncritically echoing the same Republican lines about the speech being "partisan" without demonstrating with regard to the content how it is partisan ("Because they said so"?). Like every other anti-Pelosi judgment I've read, it amounts to analyzing without analysis. We're just supposed to assume that because people are calling something partisan, then it is partisan.

That's why I posted the video of all 16+ minutes of the speech here. I seriously don't see how it is partisan in any way that would undermine this particular vote, and I want someone to explain to me with quotes how it is such an affront to bipartisanship. And I also want someone to explain how bringing kumbaya to the Republican and Democratic parties on any issue is more important than protecting taxpayers and consumers. To hell with the parties. They're a primary reason why we are in this mess to begin with.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh, the Humanity

What if one day Metro Water tells you that you drank and bathed in water mixed with sewerage for four months?
Earlier this month, White House Utility District officials broke the news that a Metro water employee cross-connected a residential septic tank into a water main that serves more than 1,000 Robertson County residents.

One home's waste began pumping into the entire city's water supply in March or April and wasn't detected until July, when residents' complaints about strange debris and floating "fibers" in the water prompted a check of the line.

Now This May Be a Race-Based Problem with Which a Tennessean's Cultural Reporter Might Find Traction

The African American parents of the Salemtown teen who was shot in an allegedly gang-related incident on Friday night say that police still have not contacted them to write a report or send a detective out on the crime. Assuming that parties may not have just missed each other, how can the Metro Police allow almost 3 days to pass without at the very least sending an officer to Salemtown to write a report a detective on what was nearly a homicide?

Of course, it's not exactly like the mainstream media has itself paid attention to this news. That raises another question: does the Tennessean care to cover black-on-black crime?

CLARIFICATION and UPDATE: An "initial" report on the crime was filled out at the hospital where the teen was treated, but when the parents went to pick up a copy of the report, they discovered that they had been given the report number of another case, a domestic violence case. They also say that when they tried a police telephone number they were given to call regarding the incident, the voice mail box at the other end was full of messages.

Metro Police told the neighborhood association tonight that the initial report was sent to Youth Services, and they are not sure what the delay in getting a response is. What's going on at Youth Services that they do not feel compelled to send a detective to investigate while everything is still fresh? There were frustrations expressed at tonight's association meeting that Metro is dragging its feet on this case for no good reason.

It Was Worse?

After the ABC/Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah "Lipstuck" Palin, some right-wing bloggers, panties firmly wadded, passed on rumors that stronger parts of the interview were left on the video editors' cutting room floor. But now comes word in the wake of the CBS/Katie Couric interview that Sarah Palin actually made worse gaffes to Couric last week that were edited out of the public footage. If we should see all of the ABC transcripts, maybe we should get to see all of the CBS footage, too.

If it gets Tina Fey back reprising "Lipstuck" for another SNL segment next week, then I say, "Release all the CBS transcripts!"

Nut-job Mayors and their No-Sense Apologetics

Mayor of a South Carolina town about the size of Wasilla, Alaska is spreading bad apocalyptic hermeneutics about Muslims and false innuendo about Barack Obama. I've had a little coursework in apocalyptic literature, and I believe that if Mayor Danny Funderburk can see Obama in the Book of Revelation, then he sees through a glass darkly. It's also fair to ask whether he's doing his bible studies and chain letter writing on the taxpayer dole.

And Don't Forget that Part about How the Bailout Would Be Financed by China and India

CM Emily Evans explains what brought us to the point of bailing out the finance industry and why mostly Democratic Davidson County should call Republican Senator Bob Corker.

Nut-job Pastors and Their No-Tax Apologists

Why is this even getting play at "Taxing Tennessee"? Just because pastors may have to pay taxes if they publicly endorse parties and candidates? A congregation's tax-free non-profit status is an entitlement by any other name. Instead of welfare queens, we've got a lot of welfare clerics running around making lots of money and not giving anything back to our common public life (and please no explanations about how proselytizing people is a public service).

I'm not necessarily opposed to tax exemptions until pastors and their no tax friends start whining about how hurtful and hard it is to take the free money they're given in this constitutional democracy and at once restrain themselves from partisanship. Pastors and churches are perfectly free to endorse a party's candidate if they want, but they should be willing to give up their government subsidies if they do so.

Otherwise, they should just be thankful for free ride they have for their prayer closets. Congregations have a lot of latitude to work in the political sphere and still hang on to their non-profit status. Beyond that, they should be silent.

UPDATE: Aunt B. says I got it all wrong.

They Can See Her Lies from Their Houses

There was another unusually large rally protesting Sarah Palin's lack of accountability in Alaska yesterday. As usual, Mudflats exhausts the details and has pictures:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shelbyville Paper Reporter Questioned Janell Ross's Factual Accuracy in a Previous Story

It appears that Janell Ross's recent report on North End neighborhoods is not the only time she has been accused of not being factual. Shelbyville Times-Gazette reporter Brian Mosely also questioned the accuracy of the statistics that Janell Ross reported in an August piece regarding the clash of Somali and American cultures in Shelbyville.

A conservative blog, which was critical of Ross, asked Mosely for a response to Ross's clash of cultures story, and the blog quotes him as saying:
I have to call into question the figures given for the Somali population in the Tennessean piece. The Imam who is quoted in this article says ,"between 2,000 and 3,500 of Shelbyville's residents — or roughly 20 percent — are Somalian." The same man told me in December of last year there are only 250 to 300. At the most, there are 500 Somali refugees in Shelbyville. The Tennessean's numbers would mean that there are more Somalis than Hispanics, who make up a small, yet considerable percentage of Bedford County's population. It would also mean that if only 250 work at Tyson (the latest figures I have from Tyson are 227 Somalis) then that would mean that less than 10 percent of the refugees are working, and that is simply not the case.
I do not think it is remarkable that a conservative blog responded negatively to Ross's piece, and I do not want to assume the veracity of their seeming anti-immigrant spin in other parts of the post, but it is noteworthy that Janell Ross's most basic grasp of facts as they exist in a community she does not live in is being questioned by others who have first-hand experience to the contrary.

I've already pointed out that Ross misplaced 7th Avenue as a neighborhood border in last Monday's story, so she is not above making factual errors (although she seems to be above acknowledging and correcting those errors). But even more troublesome than the factual errors is what looks like a penchant for running exclusively with interview subject feedback that fits her interpretation of what is happening and ignoring controverting perspectives and countervailing data.

In the case of Monday's story, Ross ran with one man's unverified personal belief that police were summoned by a woman who passed by him (and Ross extrapolated from that incident that police are "plagued" by racist suspicious person phone calls). In August's story, if Mosely's criticism is true, Ross accepted the Somalian Imam's estimates on numbers of Somalis in Shelbyville without fact checking them or at least calling up a local paper to see if there were any contradicting reports.

In both cases, either Ross failed to get all of the data or she deliberately left some data out of her accounts. Consequently, her reportage seems either inept or vicious. In the case of Salemtown, it has been rejected by Metro Police, it does not fit with the typical ways that a number of us make suspicious person calls, and it could have a chilling effect on preventing crime in urban neighborhoods.

Sarah Palin Planning a Pre-Election Reality Show Wedding?

How shamefully cynical would it be to turn your daughter's nuptials with a boyfriend who is a reluctant groom into a tactical campaign stunt to divert attention from your total inability to stand up to tough questions about foreign and domestic policy?

If Sarah Palin and John McCain are really planning an October surprise, thus tooling both Bristol Palin and the institution of marriage, what else would be more of a mockery the American family?

Saddam Would Have Liked to Have Had the Torturous Bush Cabinet

The Bush promotion of torturing prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention continues:

Progressive Blog Burst

From Tennviews:

The "toxic debate derivatives" edition of the weekly Tennessee progressive blog roundup with a look at what the state's best bloggers are talking about...

10,000 Monkeys and a Camera: Senator Drama Queen: ...how does a man go, in just a few days, from claiming that the economy is fundamentally sound to marching all over Washington, DC like Chicken Little, hitting new levels of scenery munching, derailing the negotiations Congress had gotten through before his arrival politicized the whole process -- swooping in, wearing his home-made cape and superhero pajamas -- pretending to be the man who’s saving the day, when he couldn't even be bothered to read the 3-page document that is central to the process?

55-40 Memphis: I ask again, is this the best way to use the ammo? Besides, the five biggest Wall Street losers have already rolled over. We need to protect cash deposits, homes, jobs. That's where Main Street lives.

Aunt B: I start by saying two things that I have observed about Southerners -- one, a lot of them are Southern Baptist, which means, when they don't like how something’s going, they have no compunction about breaking off and doing something different while still considering themselves to be the true carriers of the proper torch and two, they don't like to be played for fools.

Carole Borges: If you've been following the economic terrorist attack from within, you probably feel confused. Who wouldn't. It's obvious no one in Washington has a clue what is happening. How could ANYONE in their right mind even consider for one micro-second supporting anything that says "...the whole thing is up to Paulson's "discretion," and "may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

The Crone Speaks: Now, onto why I felt Obama dominated the foreign policy segment. As I wrote quickly last night, he was authoritative, his answers came easily, he did not rely on anecdotes or generals, or the old guard. As I also mentioned last night, McCain tired quickly. He looked, to me, to be extremely tired.

Joe Powell: I do know that for the first time in my life, this important office isn't being handed off to the next local insider, another pre-selected candidate from the Republican party which has held total control of [Tennessee's 1st Congressional District] for over 100 years.

Don Williams: Welcome to full-blown oligarchy -- government that socializes the losses of big business while privatizing the profits and promoting corporate welfare through good-old-boy contracts for military build-ups, outdated energy plans and tax breaks for the wealthy.

TNDP: In spite of the unprecedented economic crisis created by Bush-McCain policies that freed the banking and lending industry from vital protections for the American people, John McCain wants to put Americans’ health care at the mercy of Wall Street.

Enclave: Given Barack Obama's strong, comfortable, steady performance in tonight's debate on John McCain's turf of foreign policy, I would say that the Republican attempts for the last four weeks to raise expectations on Sarah Palin by comparing her to Barack Obama may have been a deadly mistake. Also, see ongoing series re. racial tensions fueled by suspect Tennesseean reporting.

Fletch: Lighthouse Light

KnoxViews (Sven): The author, like all the other purveyors of this and other similar dumbass notions, fails to explain the mechanism by which the GSEs ruined America. He harps on poor and corrupt management, accounting scandals and skeezy congressional ties - all of which existed. But zero evidence is provided for the core implication that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stampeded Wall Street into making bad loans to the shiftless underclass. That's because no such evidence exists. And: R. Neal: Just like investors who have been duped, the federal government will have no idea what they are buying or what to do with it. Even on a straight up equity sale of shares nobody knows what they are buying any more. Quarterly reports are works of fiction and earnings conference calls are performance art. With derivatives they don't even have to lie -- they can just hide mistakes and corruption under impenetrable layers of bullshit. Corporate America's stock in trade is now deception.

Lean Left: So the GOP plan is to insure the bad debts, putting the taxpayers on the hook for possibly much more than the 700billion dollar Paulson came up with without giving the taxpayers anyway to ever get compensation if the government is required to pay off on that insurance. And then, just to rub salt in the wounds of the average tax payer, they are going to give the class of people who are most responsible for getting us into this mess a huge tax break for two years.

Left of the Dial: The only time George W. Bush has spoken to us with "any sense of conviction, control, sincerity and grasp of the situation" was atop the rubble of the World Trade Center holding a megaphone. And even that turned out to be a bunch of crap. Plus: No Bailout For You!

LeftWingCracker: Here's how to help Obama in Memphis

Liberadio(!): One of the most important questions that could be asked by Jim Lehrer is not being asked: "What exactly is victory in Iraq?" Plus: Yee of Much Faith

Newscoma: "George Bush is no different than Herbert Hoover," he said. "I was a kid during the depression and I want you to know, we are heading down this path again."

The Pesky Fly: What bothers me is that this dog whistle has so permeated the conversation that it has filtered down to second graders. That, dear children, is some effective marketing.

Resonance: Financial Crisis Reveals Bush's "Political Capital" Is Now An Illiquid Asset

RoaneViews: We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. Republican Party Platform adopted September 2008

Russ McBee: Both Fulmer and McCain are decrepit, counter-productive shadows of their former selves, and both have far exceeded their sell-by dates. Plus: Trillion dollar life preserver: I don't know about you, but I'm awfully tired of being trickled on.

Sean Braisted: Ultimately, while this bailout deal might be in the best interest for our country, the language being used by the administration is fairly reminiscent of language used to push through the ill-conceived Patriot Act, and the War on Terror in general.

Sharon Cobb: I'm giving away two tickets for you to see and meet my favorite rednecks, Jackie and Dunlap from Red State Update. They are appearing in a town hall meeting in Nashville on October 6, and all you have to do is drop me an email telling me why you love these two lunatics, and I'll forward your entry to Jackie and Dunlap to choose the winner. (No way I was going to choose the winner!) Please get all entries in by Friday, October 3 at midnight to me at: MissSharonCobb@aol.com

Silence Isn't Golden: But the Republicans aren't going to touch this thing with a ten-foot pole. Why would they? Bush has no coattails anymore, there's no need for them to fall in line with him. They can vote against it, and they will, and then go back to their districts and put all the blame for the fact that we're wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out irresponsible corporations...on the Democratic leadership in Congress!

Southern Beale: Yesterday blog trolls started touting the expected line that our mortgage crisis is the fault of a) Bill Clinton, and b) black people. Gee, what took them so long?

vibinc » Blog Archive » The Coming Financial Disaster: Remember, just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it doesn't affect you.

WhitesCreek Journal: I don't know that much about this stuff, but according to one Democratic Congressman calls to Congress are running about 50-50 on the bailout... 50% No! And 50% HELL NO! Plus: Did You See the Debate?: I saw something else on John McCain's face as he turned it away from Barack Obama. I saw one hell of a pancake makeup job hiding the purple rage. That $5000 was money well spent.

Women’s Health News: McCain just said something to the effect that healthcare should be between the patient and the physician, not the federal government. Can I hold him to that on reproductive health and "conscience?"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Would Janell Ross Argue that Calls about These Suspicious Persons "Plague" Police?

At the beginning of this week Tennessean Reporter Janell Ross wrote an article claiming with no substantiation that Metro Police were "plagued" with "suspicious person" phone calls from Edgehill and Salemtown neighborhoods originating when white residents merely saw African Americans on the streets. Before the week was out suspicious persons in Edgehill were involved in two separate shootings, while in Salemtown a teenager, whom I know personally, was shot allegedly by suspicious gang members from outside of the neighborhood (also, a man was shot to death just north of Salemtown earlier this week).

Monday's Tennessean article is looking like a callous farce on Saturday, based on little that actually happens in either Edgehill or Salemtown. Janell Ross is looking like someone who sits in judgment from afar (I'm told that she lives in mostly white, relatively affluent Germantown), and that judgment seems to lack interface with the real potential for crime from suspicious activity on our side of the tracks.

But let's say we take Janell Ross more seriously than she takes us. Let's say we absorb her preconceived bias about our neighborhood. That bias would hamstring neighbors and discourage them from calling the police if they see a man on a bike engaging in suspicious activity or if they see gang members percolating towards the point of boiling over. Janell Ross would have us put our families in harm's way to satisfy whatever cultural agenda she has when she overgeneralizes racial tensions she apparently sees everywhere there is gentrification, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The Tennessean (owned by Gannett) needs to get out of the practice of employing reporters who have such little regard for the neighborhoods, and they should respond and dignify neighborhood leaders who call them on their exaggerations and misrepresentations. Or maybe they prefer to be in the business of discouraging neighborhoods from working with the police to prevent tragedies like this week's shootings before guns are fired. If that is indeed the case, then our local daily paper is the ultimate suspicious person whom we need to fear and to fight.

RIP, Paul Newman

Paul Newman, actor and philanthropist, is gone. One of my favorite Newman movies is Hud. This scene is so relevant to our times:

"Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire." Hopefully, our admiration of Paul Newman might change the look for the better.


One of my neighbors' teenagers was shot in the alley between 5th Avenue, 6th Avenue, Hume, and Garfield tonight just before midnight. Several of us who were outside heard a single shot, watched as police cruisers descended on Salemtown, and saw our neighbor drive by at a high rate of speed with his injured son in the back of his truck.

Reportedly, this shooting was gang-related and perpetrated by Cheatham Crips. The police have been given the name of a suspect.

The incident actually started at a party on Buchanan between 5th and 6th, where under-aged drinking and drug-use were occurring. Reportedly the Crips brandished firearms and started going after other kids. I am told that the victim's injuries are not serious; reportedly he was hit by buckshot instead of slugs.

None of this information has been verified by police. Once we get a report, I'll follow up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

We Haven't Seen Enough of This Joe for Our Liking

Biden attacks!!

Anybody else notice that Sarah Palin was conspicuously absent? Guess they decided she's had enough TV for this week.

McCain Disdain: He's an Angry Elf

I only observed John McCain make eye contact with Barack Obama once during the debate while Obama was speaking to him: when Obama said, "John," and then pointed out that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time. And it really wasn't a look. It was more of an obligatory glance at his name being called before grimacing as if he were mad, and then even sneering at times.

Otherwise, McCain seemed to look disdainfully away from Obama while the latter was speaking, as if he didn't even believe he should be sharing the stage with the Democratic presidential nominee.

I thought that, in comparison, Obama consistently appeared a lot less grumpy and aloof when McCain spoke.

UPDATE: More on McCain's utter contempt for Obama:

Post-Debate: The Republicans' Fatal Mistake

Given Barack Obama's strong, comfortable, steady performance in tonight's debate on John McCain's turf of foreign policy, I would say that the Republican attempts for the last four weeks to raise expectations on Sarah Palin by comparing her to Barack Obama may have been a deadly mistake. Expectations for Obama's ability to keep up with McCain may have been in fact lowered in the minds of listeners because people were expecting a Palin-like performance ("Palin-like meaning" either aw-shucks-common in the beginning or frighteningly lost in her late media interviews).

Why would the audience expect that performance? Because Republicans have been so effective at tying the Palin to Obama together. The problem is, of course, that Obama looked presidential in grasp of foreign policy and diplomatic in forcefully telling McCain where he was wrong (on Iraq, WMD, and Afghanistan) and graciously conceding where McCain was right. The contrast between Palin and Obama couldn't have been more stark. And tactical decision to tie the two together now looks like a waste of campaign time, because in going toe-to-toe with McCain on every issue without stumbling, Obama proved that she is in fact not ready for prime time.

Some might say that the stock market crash took Palin out as an effective McCain move. I would say that it was Barack Obama who took that arrow out of the tiny McCain arsenal. After tonight nobody on the right who wants to be taken seriously is going to be able to claim that Palin is more prepared to become president than Barack Obama is. She is no longer a factor in the presidential equation, unless her bumbling policy responses continue to be a drag on John McCain. Then comes the backlash against her 15 minutes of fame.

One Thing You Can Say about Jim Cooper Is That Crises Really Don't Effect How He Votes

So, Jim Cooper voted against tax relief for a Gulf Coast that has been suffering for much longer than the banking and finance industry because he thinks those cuts should be matched by cuts elsewhere. That's typical Blue Dog logic. Now if he opposes it because somehow it only really helps big business and does little to help displaced and burdened ordinary people, then he would be acting remarkably. A little populism once and a while might loosen Cooper up.

But my guess is that the Tennessee Democrat would much rather see the bail out work for the principle good of bankers and only the trickle-down good of ordinary people. And so, his seeming unconventional vote looks more like empty symbolism and callous indifference to the victims of not just one natural disaster, but multiple natural disasters. There's nothing really progressive about his taxation logic.

For Your Viewing Pleasure, Dan Quayle in a Skirt

What in the heck is Sarah Palin talking about? Does she even know?

We look at these things under the umbrella of hooey.

What strikes me about this interview is that Katie Couric has been criticized for not being up to the anchor job at CBS, and yet, her interview with Sarah Palin seems to elevate her by continuing to reveal how thoroughly unprepared the Alaskan Governor is for the Vice Presidency.

UPDATE: CNN's Cafferty calls Palin's answer "pathetic," and admonishes Wolf Blitzer for making excuses for her:

Vandy Receives Average Grades on Green Report Card

The "only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities," the College Sustainability Report Card, gave Vanderbilt a "C+" strictly on "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The grade has nothing to do with academics.

Sponsors of the Green Report card gave Vanderbilt excellent marks for obtaining food from local producers, for recycling, and for investment strategies that include clean technology. They concluded that Vandy failed in areas like endowment transparency and engaging shareholders.

Belmont University and Fisk University were not graded.

When You Can't Put Lipstick on a Pig, Put Make-up on a Made-up Maverick

Longer clips of David Letterman's hilarious response to John McCain standing him up for Katie Couric, while in Dave's words, Sarah Palin circles the theatre in the white mini-van to pick him up later:

The First Step to Recovery of Your Street Cred is Admitting You Have a Problem on the Street

Four days out from Janell Ross's hit piece on North End crime and race relations, and still no acknowledgement at the Tennessean of protest letters sent their way. If they're going to stand by their reporter the least they could do is reply to the Salemtown association president's letter. Their silence leaves me wondering if they realize that they don't have a leg to stand on to defend their loose-cannon reporter, who seems to put words in the mouths of so-called "plagued" Metro Police.

And speaking of Ross, she still has not replied to a letter I sent to her. I'm as impressed with her fortitude as I am with her journalist's objectivity.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Suspension Fluid

More lies from the McCain campaign:
The Obama camp tells TPM Election Central that the McCain campaign is directing TV stations across the country to start airing its ads again beginning Saturday, which would mean McCain will be off the air all day Friday only. It also suggests that McCain isn't waiting until the bailout plan is approved to resume campaigning.

Gonna Go Save the Country. How's My Make-up?

This is just priceless. You do not get to watch campaigns self-destruct everyday. I cannot decide which is worse: pissing off David Letterman or failure to master one's own make-up:

Central Precinct Encourages Salemtown Association Not To Be Discouraged by Janell Ross's Tennessean Article

The Metro Police Central Precinct Community Coordinator, David Rueff, sent the following e-mail message to the Salemtown Neighbors e-mail list earlier today in response to complaints that a Tennessean article written by Janell Ross and published on Monday was designed to stoke racial tensions in Salemtown:
Please pass along to everyone in the neighborhood not to be discouraged by the article. Salemtown along other neighborhoods in Central Precinct have developed a good working partnership. This partnership is one where we encourage people to look out for suspicious activity and suspicious people in the neighborhood and to call it in. That is what good neighbors do, look out for your neighbor and your neighborhood. You all in Salemtown can be proud of the work you do to try and pull the neighborhood together, both the old and the new. Maybe with time and persistence more people will join in and become a part of Salemtown and what it can become, a really great neighborhood for everyone.
The MNPD message in this e-mail is diametrically opposite of Janell Ross's report that police are "plagued" with phone calls from Salemtown residents regarding suspicious behavior on their streets.

This is another significant blow to the credibility of both the Tennessean and of Janell Ross to report the news accurately and without some preconceived agenda. How else are we to understand the contradiction between the Central Precinct and what Ross claimed that Police Chief Ronal Serpas told her?

In order to take Ross at her word we would have to believe that the Central Precinct has been defying their own Chief by encouraging residents to make suspicious person calls. That strains credulity. The simplest explanation is that Janell Ross is not reporting all of the facts and that the local daily paper, the Tennessean (published by Gannett Co., Inc.), is publishing errors about local neighborhoods for motives other than reporting the news.

The most troubling part about this is that there are people out there who would make police calls for racist reasons. By broad brushing North End white populations without clear evidence that they are making these calls (and with evidence to the contrary), Janell Ross is minimizing the loathsome actual occurrence of race-based police calls in Nashville. She is doing our communities a profound disservice, and she is hurting her own credibility with readers like me. I certainly would have misgivings about believing anything she writes about other problems in Nashville in future articles, given her indignity toward and seeming ignorance of this neighborhood.

John McCain Lied about Suspending Campaign to Help Solve Crisis

Huffington Post discovers that state-by-state the campaign is very much unsuspended and working on "get out the vote":
Across the country, McCain campaign offices are up and running, accepting volunteers, conducting phone banking, literature dropping and other GOTV activities. This held true on a local, state, and even regional level. The Huffington Post called up 15 McCain-Palin and McCain Victory Committee headquarters in various battleground states. Not one said that it was temporarily halting operations because of the supposed "suspension" in the campaign. Several, in fact, enthusiastically declared the continuation of their work. Others hadn't even heard that the candidate for whom they were devoting their time had officially stopped campaigning.

UPDATE: More suspended-in-name-only from McCain campaigners:

Single and jonesin' in Nashville? Sucks to be you.

The good news: Nashville has no where to go but up.

The bad news: Salt Lake City is more single-friendly than Music City. Mormons apparently munch on more love newtons than Southern Baptists do.

Here's the list via Monkey Cage:

1. Atlanta
2. San Francisco
3. Dallas
3. Minneapolis
5. Washington D.C.
6. Seattle
7. Boston
8. New York City
9. Orlando
10. Phoenix
11. Chicago
11. Denver-Aurora
13. Miami
14. Austin
15. San Antonio
16. Los Angeles
17. Houston
18. Charlotte
19. San Diego
20. St. Louis
21. Columbus
22. Philadelphia
23. Tampa-St. Petersburg
24. Las Vegas
25. Baltimore
26. Virginia Beach-Norfolk
27. Detroit
28. Pittsburgh
29. Portland
30. Buffalo
30. Milwaukee
32. Sacramento
33. Cincinnati
33. Memphis
33. Providence
36. Kansas City
37. Indianapolis
38. Cleveland
39. Salt Lake City
40. Jacksonville

Supremacists Quoted Janell Ross Verbatim and at Length; Tennessean Unresponsive to Salemtown Outrage

Protest letters have been written to the Tennessean, including one from the Salemtown association president, contesting reporter Janell Ross's myopic and loose interpretation about crime prevention in the North End, and yet, there have been no replies. Instead, the editors are publishing letters on profound subjects like justifications for "booing" football players.

I do want to get back to the point that a white supremacist website picked up the Tennessean piece. The local media shill blog naturally did not see any indictment of Janell Ross's "journalistic product" in the simple link of it by white supremacist website. If it had been just a simple link twisted by ulterior motive, then the shiller would have been justified in refusing to see a problem.

But the white supremacist poster did more than just link Janell Ross. He quoted her extensively with only a sentence of commentary on her subject. Here is what he wrote:

I hope other neighborhoods across the country are doing the same.

Quote [of Janell Ross]:
She was walking her dog, that white lady that lives right up there on the next block," said Glen, who is African-American. "She passed by. I spoke. She spoke. The next thing I know, here comes the police asking what I'm doing here."

Situated on the border of the gentrifying Salemtown and Germantown neighborhoods in North Nashville, Seventh Avenue North is home to both a convenience store some residents call "Murder Mart" and a $400,000 home. Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas says in these kinds of neighborhoods, where redevelopment brings strangers together at a speedy rate, calls to police about "suspicious" people have been frequent. And all too often, "suspicious" seems to mean young, black and male.
Serpas pointed to Edgehill and sections of East Nashville as other communities posting large numbers of "suspicious person" calls. But Serpas says the problem seems to have grown less intense as gentrification slows. Precise numbers of calls from specific communities weren't available.

The Historic Germantown Neighborhood Association's president concedes it's possible some of the 911 calls from her neighborhood could be prompted by unfounded fears about race. Stacy Mosley, who is white, has lived in the neighborhood 11 years. During her first week, someone shot into the air from a passing car as she pushed her 5-month-old in a stroller. She couldn't see the shoote

"When you've lived here, when you know your community, you know when something isn't right," she said
James Jenkins, president of his neighborhood association in the Greenwood area of East Nashville, said he worked with newcomers to the area when they began arriving in the late 1990s. Often, these were wealthier whites restoring some of the neighborhood's grand old homes. Jenkins, who is African-American, said those newcomers and longtime residents made demands on police about addressing crime
One woman described herself as so frightened when she gets out of her car she may pepper-spray someone who turns out not to have criminal intent. She wanted to know if she could face criminal charges. The answer was yes.
The poster didn't have to provide any commentary beyond his hope that others are doing what Janell Ross says that Salemtown whites are doing. All he did was cut and paste verbatim almost 50% (392/885 words) of what Janell Ross wrote and the Tennessean published on Monday.

He did not spin a paraphrase of what she wrote.

He did not tear a single sentence out of context and white wash a meaning she did not intend.

He literally just posted her own words in their context to support the preconceived notion that white residents are calling the police against African Americans for no other reason than their race.

There is no doubt that anyone can link journalists and read their own interpretations into the reports, but this guy didn't have to do any of that. Whether he used it for his own twisted purposes is irrelevant to the truth that Janell Ross's writing in and of itself generates a stigma on Salemtown without reference to facts. Supremacists don't have to add anything else to Ross's narrative to assume that Salemtown (where there are 6 or 7 times more African Americans than whites) is some kind of hotbed of white racism.

In so far as Janell Ross's writing promotes those kinds of false and toxic ideas, the Tennessean is obligated to issue a correction and an apology. This truly is bordering on slanderous.

I Think I Need to Suspend My Mortgage Payment While I Focus on Getting My Yard Mowed

What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”
- - David Letterman

You know Dave, when one has 13 cars and 8 or 10 houses, one is used to the latitude of breaking off whatever one is doing and finding something else. The rest of us don't have that luxury. But his sense of entitlement does afford Sarah Palin the chance to pad her resume simply by cramming on foreign policy in first meetings with various dignitaries.

UPDATE: This looks like the reason that John McCain is moving to cancel debates:

SurveyUSA has just completed a snap poll on response to John McCain's request to cancel or postpone the presidential debate ....

Suspend Campaigns?

Suspend 14%
Continue 31%
Refocus on Fin. Crisis 48%

Would canceling the debates be good for America? 14% say yes.
He realizes if the debate is on the financial crisis, both he and the Republicans lose. Everything all the way back to the Keating 5 will be brought up. He would not stand a chance. So, better to go to Washington and control the spin himself (or at least try to change the subject to Sarah Palin).

Guess McCain Changed His Mind about the Fundamentals Being Strong

What can he possibly do for the economy as a Senator in Washington that Sarah Palin cannot do for it as a Governor in Juneau?

Sarah can set policy and continue her foreign leader whistlestops, thus freeing up McCain to meet with the gentry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quote of the Crash

There are no atheists in foxholes. There are no libertarians in financial crises.

- - Paul Krugman

Tennessean Story Even Errs on the Simplest Factual Data

In Monday's Tennessean piece on "suspicious person" calls in Salemtown/Germantown, Janell Ross says that 7th Avenue, North is "situated on the border of the gentrifying Salemtown and Germantown neighborhoods." 7th is not actually on the border of either neighborhood. 3rd Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard form the east and west borders of Salemtown and Germantown.

In and of itself this factual error would hardly be worth a response, but given that Janell Ross's other coverage of Salemtown has been deeply flawed in its failure to reflect accurately crime reportage and to grasp the demographics of our neighborhood, this error is just another example of her seeming failure to represent the subjects of her narrative. She is telling someone else's story, so it is only consistent that the perimeters would be off, too.

Tennessean Reporter Implicated Police Chief Serpas in Racism Allegations

Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas says in these kinds of neighborhoods, where redevelopment brings strangers together at a speedy rate, calls to police about "suspicious" people have been frequent. And all too often, "suspicious" seems to mean young, black and male.

It is crystal clear that Tennessean reporter Janell Ross is implicating Chief Serpas in the argument that in the Salemtown/Germantown area white people call the police with few other causes and on few other suspicions than that there is a young, black male on their street. If Serpas really intended to say that, then he owes many of us in Salemtown who have called the police for other reasons an explanation.

More importantly, he needs to address why the officers at Metro’s Central Precinct encourage us almost every time they see us to call them as frequently as we suspect something. On Saturday Friday evening while I was out fooling around with my vehicle (and probably while Janell Ross was working on her story), a Central Precinct Lieutenant stopped by and told me that they were having trouble with suspected teenagers in the neighborhood staying out of school and burglarizing houses during the day. Anyone here can tell you that the lion’s share of teens are not white, but black.

So, to whom am I supposed to listen if I see a truant teen during the day in Salemtown? (Truancy is breaking the law). Am I supposed to listen to Janell Ross’s filter of Ronal Serpas and not call police about the “young, black and male” for fear of the charge of racism? Or am I supposed to listen to the same precinct officer who attends our association meetings and our neighborhood events on a regular basis, and call the police in order to prevent more burglaries?

If Janell Ross or the Tennessean won’t respond to these questions, then I would hope that we could get an answer directly from our Chief of Police.

A Letter I Wrote Janell Ross 24 Hours Ago; Still No Replies

Here's what I wrote Tennessean reporter Janell Ross yesterday about her regrettable story on crime and racial profiling in either Salemtown or Germantown or both:
In your story on "racial fears" on 7th Avenue, North yesterday, you referred to a market that residents call "Murder Mart." Which market did you mean? I can only think of one market on 7th, and it is in Salemtown. If that is the market to which you refer, is "Murder Mart" a name that your Germantown neighbors call it? and how many Salemtown residents did you interview who called it that? For that matter, how many Salemtown residents total did you interview?

I would like to publish your answers on my blog, Enclave, assuming your permission, of course. One of the things I've focused on in the past four years is irresponsible, lazy, and sensationalist journalism perpetuating stereotypes about our transitional area. My interest is not so much in whether journalists portray our neighborhood without warts, but whether journalists are factual, truthful, and objective in reporting the warts.

I saw no indication of reliable accuracy in Monday's piece. It was anecdotal, and it looks like your own filtered narrative on the polarity of suspicious whites vs. suspect African Americans (that is an exaggeration of what goes on Salemtown). Unless you can express how your reporting was unbiased, generalizable, and consistent with what actually happens in the North End on a regular basis among a critical mass of those who live here, I will continue to contest your printed riff on what you believe you see in this community.
No word from Janell Ross, yet. Letters were also sent to the Tennessean editors yesterday from other people in Salemtown without any acknowledgement. Apparently, the Tennessean feels no obligation to explain themselves for their indignities and the entitlement they feel to write anything they desire about Nashville's neighborhoods.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ross Article Promoted on White Supremacist Forum, Which is Not Good for North Nashville Neighborhoods

Janell Ross's tenuous article on alleged racial profiling in Germantown and/or Salemtown (deciphering which it is nearly impossible from Ross's opaque reporting) is now linked on a white supremacist website under a title like, Neighborhood in Nashville Calls The Police When They See Blacks Out Walking (I have modified the title so as not to subject readers unnecessarily to vulgar and racist epithets). I will not link the site, because I do not intend to dignify it with increased traffic. If you really want to subject yourself to the hatred there, then do what I did: conduct searches that might be connected with Ross's Tennessean story and see what you find (but be warned, the "n-word" appears everywhere).

Looks like Ms. Ross's readership is expanding in unintended, but not surprising ways. Perhaps she should take a more accountable, measured response to reporting community news before putting others' reputations at stake under the title "journalism." I can certainly see how someone would be able to pull the point from the Tennessean article that white neighborhoods are calling police (she labels it "plaguing" police) against any African American pedestrian. No one has to torture her vague reportage to leap to that interpretation. There is no inkling in her article that Salemtown is predominately African American. Doesn't reporter Janell Ross have an obligation to be more transparent about actual conditions of the communities about which she writes?

Tennessean Reporter Does Not Live in a Neighborhood Like Salemtown

Tennessean reporter Janell Ross is not exactly getting high praise on the Salemtown e-mail list today about her anecdotal, overgeneralized story on North End crime. The general consensus seems to be that the article does not reflect the reality on the ground. We also found out that she lives in Germantown, which is probably the least racially and economically diverse neighborhood in the North End. And let's just say that I've tended to experience G-town attitudes toward S-town as jaded and distant to begin with.

I've e-mailed the reporter and asked her how many interview subjects she chose from Salemtown to write her story. She hasn't replied yet, but as far as I know there is only one convenience store on 7th and it is in Salemtown. 83% African American Salemtown. The Metro Neighborhood profiles online do not contain a demographic breakdown for Germantown, but I would be shocked if its population is anything but mostly white, predominantly upper-middle class. If Ms. Ross is relying largely on Germantown opinions about events around a Salemtown convenience store, then she is not getting a full or representative picture of the reality that is our community.

I also continue to be troubled by the way reporters like Ms. Ross ignore the systemic racism of white business owners who place blighted convenience stores that almost exclusively deal in alcohol and sell few other products that benefit the local community. The market property on 7th in Salemtown is owned by an unapologetic member of a powerful and well-placed Tennessee family, and it deals in scraps thrown from the masters' table to a predominantly African American neighborhood. Where is the journalist's coverage of that scandal?

What Do You Call 10,000 Lobbyists at the Bottom of the Ocean?

Sure, it's a good start, but R. Neal has an even better start on the stock crisis in which we find ourselves:
We need Resolution Trust Corporation v2.0 to shut down the bad actors and seize their assets and sell them off to the highest bidder instead of some half-baked scheme for taxpayers to buy their house of cards. If this was the counter offer to their desperate plea for a quick bailout, how many of of these companies would suddenly realize things aren't really so bad after all and retreat to the board room to figure out some way to restructure and survive? ....

The notion that credit will dry up and business in America will grind to a halt if this deal is not approved is ridiculous. There's good money to be made by responsible lenders who exercise due diligence in making loans to reputable companies. Republicans are basically telling us the only way business can operate in America is if shady lenders make dubious loans to corrupt companies and then get taxpayers to bail them all out when they turn out to be idiots or liars or both. Seriously? They should all go bankrupt, and in some cases straight to jail, while we get back to doing business on the up and up according to, you know, actual conservative principles where calculated risk involves reward and consequences.
Go, read, and heed his voice of reason in the midst of panic and overreaction. Being progressive also means being conservative.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall believes that Republican/McCain plan is to set up the Dems, whom they will run against for bailing out their pals on Wall Street. John McCain once again might get to have it both ways. Friend and enemy of Wall Street malfeasance. On HBO last week Naomi Klein rhetorically asked what person wouldn't like to be in the finance industry's position right now, to wake up one morning and find one's debts and mortgage wiped away clean by the government. Wall Street is going to win either way because the government is going to give them a do-over, and John McCain obviously intends to ride their coattails while making Dems take the hit for his part.

Eric Crafton's Puffy Publicity Tour Continues at the City Paper

Reporter extends string of mind-numbing English Only press releases without asking a single critical question of the sparing-no-taxpayer-expense behavior of Eric Crafton. And he even gave the English Fisting website some link love.

Salemtown President Fires Back at Tennessean

I'm not the only one who took exception to Tennessean reporter Janell Ross's hackneyed piece on crime and race in the North End:

Janel Ross's article in today's Tennessean seemed designed to stoke rather than to explain or resolve racial tensions in Nashville's North End. I'm especially concerned that there was only one voice expressed from our neighborhood, Salemtown, seemingly for creating a tense effect. Worse, not a single officer or member of our neighborhood association was approached for comment.

My long-time girlfriend matriculated at Meharry Medical College last year, so we decided to move into a neighborhood near the school to be active participants in the community. But my reasons for moving here shouldn't matter. No matter where I am, I hope to have a strong community.

Councilwoman Erica Gilmore convened a community meeting near the start of the year at the Morgan Park Community Center at which she expressed a need for communities that had long accepted criminal activity as a way of life to break a "code of silence." I can assure you she was not encouraging white folk to call the cops on black folk. Crime in urban communities is not a problem that should be ignored. Neither, for that matter, is poverty.

Working together, our neighborhood association is actively trying to combat long-standing tensions and address issues of trust. I wouldn't characterize any of my neighbors as suffering from "racial fear." Our membership is diverse, and our hope and intentions are to keep it and our neighborhood that way.

Freddie O'Connell
President, Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association
The Tennessean owes Salemtown an apology for some truly checkered journalism. Or maybe Janell Ross has some bright ideas based on her own diverse neighborhood experience (does she live in a neighborhood like Salemtown?) on when it is appropriate to call police. The same police who have told us to trust our guts. The same police who rely on volume of calls to decide which neighborhoods get more attention.

A Majority of Americans Support Government Guaranteed Healthcare

From Pew:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) favor a government guarantee of universal health insurance, even if it means raising taxes; 34% are opposed. Democrats continue to be the most supportive of government-guaranteed health insurance -- 79% of Democrats, including 85% of liberal Democrats, favor it. A majority of independents (63%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (54%) also say the government should guarantee health insurance for all, even if it means raising taxes .... Among religious groups, about half of white evangelicals (53%) favor a government guarantee of health insurance for all. Considerably larger majorities of black Protestants (66%) and Catholics (67%) favor government-funded health insurance, as do 68% of the religiously unaffiliated.

Monday, September 22, 2008

McKeating: John McCain Learned Nothing from His Previous Savings & Loan Scandals

McCain calls the Keating scandal "my asterisk." Over the years, his opponents have failed to turn it into a period.

- - The Arizona Republic, March 1, 2007

MSNBC's Jonathan Alter is mystified that the media continues to ignore John McCain's ride for a fall with the deregulating sons of bitches (a.k.a., the Keating 5) who generated the last financial crisis our country faced:

It's not just that opponents haven't made enough of the interference that McCain ran for Keating's savings and loan, it's that the press has not paid enough attention to it or to the party lifestyle that John McCain enjoyed in advance of a financial collapse that cost taxpayers $124 billion as of seven years ago. Party on, John.

Why hasn't the press made hay of his part in the scandal? Arizona Republic reporters Dan Nowicki and Bill Muller indicate that it is because John McCain endeared himself to the media:
McCain's hobnobbing with the press had an unexpected side effect. Reporters started to like him.

McCain always returned phone calls. He showed up for his television appearances. He was willing to go off the record to help reporters unearth certain stories. He answered questions bluntly, without much political tap dancing.

For Beltway reporters bored with bureaucrats, McCain was fresh, new and different.

"Everybody in town," Clarke said, "from the makeup artist at the local news station to the producers and directors, every reporter and every editor, loves working with John McCain because he does not stand on ceremony; he has no airs."
And now John McCain is cashing in on the brown nosing he did with the press all of those years after the humiliation of the Keating scandal. He responds to last week's stock market crash as if he has been a regulation advocate all along instead of a party-hopping patron of high finance, and the press won't even bring up Keating 5.

The only lesson that John McCain learned from the savings and loan scandal of 2 decades ago was how to game the so-called "liberal" media to get them to ignore his character flaws and his unethical connections to the ruling class.

John McCain Owns 13 Cars; So, Why Is Obama Labeled the Elitist?

When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.

Eric Crafton's English "Fists" of Fury

An English Only demonstration website recently appeared advertising an upcoming big event. It appears that there will be a fisting demonstration at Jimmy Kelly's the day after tomorrow:

That was the original wording on the website this morning before "Fist" was scrubbed from the site. But I thought, given the bullying, BOHICA tactics of CM Crafton and his ilk, English "Fist" was just about right, so it will be immortalized here. By the way, coffee and donuts (no word on whether they will be K-Y Jelly-filled) will be served.

The immigrant-haters have never been accused of having great timing, and once again their event comes on the heels of a shameful new report on the racist founder of the non-profit that provided almost all of the funds that drive Eric Crafton's local project. According to a SPLC report, John Tanton, founder of the Federation of Immigration Reform (FAIR)
corresponded frequently with leading white nationalist thinkers, race scientists and Holocaust deniers. He encouraged a major donor to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor to "give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life." And he suggested that the board of FAIR, on which he sits, discuss the professor's theories on the Jews.
This is the character of people on whom Eric Crafton relies for support for Nashville's English Only. And he'll be using that support on Wednesday to whip up even more hatred.

The Princess Diaries

Tacit acknowledgement by the McCain Campaign that Sarah Palin is in this way over her head:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
Maybe they could also demand an oversized velvet pillow to recline on and a servant with a large pink ostrich feather fan to keep her cool.

If she is not prepared to free-wheel with a U.S. Senator, should we assume that she would also beg shorter question-and-answer segments when negotiating with the Russian President or the North Korea's "Eternal President of the Republic"?

Tennessean Article Anecdotal on Race and Crime in Urban Neighborhoods

Janell Ross's piece in the Tennessean this morning on police calls and racial profiling is sketchy, provides no statistics or fact-based hypotheses for tensions in transitional neighborhoods, and generally rests on the interviews of a handful people in two very different neighborhoods: Germantown and Salemtown (hard to tell which, because Ross gives no specific locations outside of 7th Avenue, North).

Ross refers to a "Murder Mart" on 7th. That's a name I've not heard used by Salemtown residents before, and I can only think of one convenience store on that street. It's in Salemtown. The manager was shot during a hold up there not too long ago. I don't remember the Tennessean covering that story. Or one about a report on the Salemtown listserv that a young girl who lives here was solicited for sex outside the market.

That store is owned by a white man named Kenny Norman, who has powerful and wealthy family connections in Nashville, a detail Janell Ross did not mention in her story. In the past, there have been allegations that the market sold beer out its back door before receiving a license and it was raided by police for having illegal gambling devices. Neighbors have reported in the past to being harassed with cat calls from groups of men who loiter on the sidewalk and drink beer. It took police some time to obtain a no trespass waiver from the manager to keep loiters off the property after hours. One African American who lives near the market told me that she was tired of loiterers coming into and trashing her yard. I don't know if the market is the one to which Ross refers, but it has been a liability to our neighborhood.

I believe that a serious look at racial tensions in transitional neighborhoods would be a positive and progressive contribution to the dialogue, but Ross's piece does not give that look. Police have encouraged the Salemtown crime watch to make calls about any suspicious activity we see. I've made calls on a number of white people driving vehicles with Rutherford and Wilson County tags who park at suspected drug houses for five minutes each stop. I make calls about anyone I don't recognize as living here who are looking in windows, parking at night in the middle of the alley with headlights off, passing money and paraphernalia through car windows, standing on the corner propositioning passing cars. I've called the police about men exposing themselves on a street where children play to take a piss. It doesn't matter to me what race they are. African American neighbors here tell me they do the same. Last week an African American homeowner came over to warn me that someone had tried to siphon gas out of his vehicle.

According to Metro, Salemtown is a predominantly (over 83%) African American neighborhood with over 50% of the properties owned by absentee landlords. We have a huge number of rental properties, which means to me that our population is going to be just as transitional and mobile as the economic situation of the community is rapidly changing. So, there is going to be some misunderstanding that can be cleared up by neighbors working together on an effective crime watch. And frankly we have a lot of blight that attracts people of different races from outside of Salemtown. I would like to see more study done on economic racism and the location of blight and alcohol-hawking convenience stores in predominantly African American communities. Wealth can be a vehicle for he most insidious and virulent forms of racism.

Nonetheless, charges of racism are serious and should be seriously explored. It's too bad that the Tennessean's Janell Ross failed to contribute a serious exploration the issue.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin Misleads about Her Mayoral Pay Cuts

Sarah Palin has been off on the campaign trail telling people that she cut her own pay as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. David Kurtz obtained city records, which tell a different, more ambiguous story.

When Palin started she was making $64,200. When she left, she was making $68,000. She did take pay cuts during her time, but she also received pay raises, which she omits from her campaign speeches.

At best, her pay cuts would seem to be offset by the pay hikes. So, how would her salary history remotely qualify her as a reformer or a maverick?

What Role Did McCain Economic Advisor Play in Getting Foreign Banks Included in Government Bail out Plan?

TPM points out that foreign banks like UBS were not originally designated as beneficiaries of the $700 billion to bail out the American finance industry.  Over the weekend, UBS lobbied successfully to be included in the early Christmas gifts.  TPM wants to know how involved McCain advisor and potential Treasury Secretary Phil "America Is a Bunch of Whiners" Gramm was involved in those discussions.  Gramm is a UBS lobbyist and officer.  The stench of this is awful.

Charities Simply Incapable of Effective Response to Large-Scale Disasters

Facing South refers us to a GAO report that finds that private charities lack an adequate number of volunteers, sufficient financial resources, and the necessary shelter space to provide dependable relief without government disaster response.  Donations to private organizations are down with the weak economy and some disaster relief charities are taking on debt and cutting staff to serve communities in crisis.  Conservatives who once had the luxury of a stronger economy (or at least the illusion of a stronger economy masking our expanding debt to other countries) to prompt the argument that charities could replace adequate government emergency management and disaster relief no longer have that leg to stand on.  We better start working on reforming government agencies so that they respond effectively rather than continuing to misplace faith in the non-profit sector alone.

Stop and See the World's Largest Flip Flop and the Mighty Morphing Power Crusader

John McCain, who was once rebuked by a Senate ethics committee for accepting gifts from Savings and Loan insiders and for telling regulators to back off the Savings and Loan, has in the past 7 days morphed into an advocate of strict regulations of the financial industry:

McCain is trying to innoculate himself from criticism for his 26 years as one of the biggest anti-regulation crusaders.  He has got to be one of the most unprincipled leaders ever.

Art Imitates Life

John McCain's actual commercials in real life are this outrageously hilarious, too:

Public School Proselytizers Pay the Penalty

A federal judge rules that Wilson County schools must pay $171,000 in attorney fees for promoting Christian doctrine instead of educating children. When backwards school systems jettison their neutrality, courts should hit them where it hurts: in the pocket book. I doubt many school systems have the huge revenue base needed to absorb many of these penalties. It should teach them a thing or two about keeping their eye on the ball instead of sidetracking to cultural issues having little to do with making the next generation competitive.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In What Bunker Is Mayor Dean Huddled?

Jackson Miller wonders where Karl Dean is during Nashville's recent run on gas stations, which exacerbated an already slim fuel supply. He also has some good advice for Dean, who probably should have embraced his leadership role in our city by talking to distributors, massaging the media, and hitting the airwaves to reassure Nashvillians, many of whom may also be in shock over last week's stock market crash.

I have wondered where Karl Dean goes when he doesn't care about or doesn't want to deal with specific issues. Jackson refers us to a more general concern on which Nashville's Mayor should have gotten out front and lead Nashvillians away from knee-jerk panic. He may not be capable of doing that.