Saturday, September 30, 2006

TACA or Toad

We got up early (for a Saturday) and went to TACA Crafts Fair in Centennial Park this morning, because the parking situation is more challenging than in previous years.

It was a nice jaunt because the crowd was small and temps were cool. They have a lot of neat stuff, but I tend to prefer June's American Artisan Festival, because the Artisans seem to offer more to choose from.

Once is Too Much

The "Leb-nun" School District promotes New Testament religion over others in public education:
"[The Gideon Bible Giveaway] is the one event that would be considered religious in context, and it happens once a year," said Sharon Roberts, Lebanon Special School District director. She emphasized that students are not obligated to accept the Bibles, which sit on a display table.
Do you think that the School Director would allow copies of the Qur'an or the Book of Mormon or Playboy just to sit on a display table for children to take under the guise that the kids are not "obligated"? I would call Ms. Roberts' definition of obligation irrelevant, since children will pick up any new item made available to them.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Thus We See How Reporting Merely Stage-Sets Editorials

It appears that yesterday's Harless piece on some hidden MAC controversy was nothing more than a lead in for today's NCP editorial against committee process in choosing art. But it is such a weak argument. This is the best the editors can muster:
[T]he [Metro Arts] commission must realize that there will be citizens who will look at the pieces — for which they paid with their taxes — and shake their heads. They will undoubtedly wonder why — at the very least — they could not have seen the proposals of the eight semifinalists and offered some feedback.
Right. So instead, let's just erect the ubiquitous Stratocaster or the portly Junior-Samples-in-bronze to keep some citizens from shaking their heads. The editors are going to have to give a better argument than head-shaking for converting procurement to a popularity contest.

My guess is that there are a number of shapes and forms in public spaces that citizens shake their heads at, but does that mean we should stop allowing their fellows who are artistically or architecturally trained from representing them in these important processes? When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our nation's capital was first built, I remember a good amount of head-shaking being done, because people did not understand its lack of literalness beyond the literal names of those who died. Yet, now that "wall" is one of the most visited, most beloved (because it is the most honest?) memorials in Washington. Would the public have directly approved of it beforehand? I doubt it.

The truth is that there have always been citizens who shake their heads at art in its many forms. I shake my head at lots of different art pieces, but that doesn't mean that I'm arrogant enough to believe that what I may not prefer is devoid of significance just because I fail to wrap my mortal coil around it. I don't expect to like every piece of art I see, but someone else might, and what is important is balance among competing ideas rather than barren popularity. The NCP editors obviously fail to grasp that. They also fail to grasp that the more open the procurement process becomes to the public, the more special interest groups instead of individual citizens rush in to influence that process, and we end up with another set of elites--who usually have lots of money but little or no fine arts or design training--telling us what we will look at in the public square.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Morgan Park Rainbow

Knights in White Satin

I'm a little late on the uptake: 40 years after the song was written, I'm just now finding out the word is "Nights." The song makes a lot more sense now and it seems like it would be a lot less terrifying for a kid in the early 1970s laying in bed on a dark night listening to the eerie tune on his clock radio while staying on guard for white knights flying by his window.

Reporting Drama Where There Is None

What is it with Nashville City Paper reporter Bill Harless that he needs to create controversy that does not exist? There is no scandal in the Metro Arts Commission (MAC) selecting art for the new public square without direct popular involvement. Notice I did not say "public" involvement, because Jane Q. Public is involved through the democratic process of electing a mayor and a council to oversee the Arts Commission. Our government is not just democratic; it is also a republican form, which provides a check against the arbitrary mob-rule mentality of majoritarian democracy. And frankly, most of us do not have time to go to every Metro commission meeting and to micro-manage their procurement processes.

So the art selection process for the Public Square does not have popular involvement. So what? This isn't "American Idol" or "Dance with the Stars." I would like those who govern to have dignity higher than rabble-rousing with bread and circuses. I have never heard of an Arts Commission converting its procurement process to a popularity contest. Harless surely fails to provide any precedent from any other community that would warrant such an idiotic gesture.

We require nobler gestures. One of the purposes of art is to educate and to make people think outside of preconceived boxes. If MAC just hands us the most popular art possible, it will not be helping the public look beyond its particular blind spots. For Harless to suggest that I should be entitled to influencing MAC directly to install art that I like is like suggesting that when I pay a university money for an education, professors should only tell me what I want to hear. Education is not a popularity contest or a comfort food. The best education or art challenges people to see truth or beauty with eyes that they had not previously used.

But beyond its whole vacuous appeal to the lowest denominator, Harless's report contains a noxious subtext that serves the priorities of the conservative wing of Metro Council. His underlying assumption from the first paragraph seems to be that, in paying money, people also pay for political influence, and he finally gets around to quoting council member Eric Crafton in the final paragraph, who is the only person to give Harless's assumption a sympathetic response. However, Harless's assumption is dangerous in a constitutional democracy that holds that influence over the political system is an inalienable, natural right that does not affix to the amount of money the public pays. If our right to influence MAC relied on the money that we pay, then quite logically, those who pay more money should have more political influence. There is very little democratic in that possibility, regardless of its popularity.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Big Stein Screws NYC Again

New York City is getting a new Yankee Stadium, but the city is paying Yankee owner George Steinbrenner beau coup millions to allow it to sit in their municipality. According to Jim Hightower in the latest edition of the Texas Observer, the New York City Council has authorized New Yorkers to pay $400 million toward the new stadium, and they are giving Big Stein an exemption from paying real estate taxes on the new development. As if that were not downside enough, the new stadium will have 7,000 fewer seats than the old one and it will have triple the number of luxury suites (going for about $500,000 a piece). Looks like middle-income Yankee fans are out of luck. The agreement will allow Steinbrenner to continue screw Major League Baseball's smaller market teams, too, as he will have more disposable income to pay baseball's luxury tax on teams that surpass the $80 million ceiling on player salaries.

Now I haven't factored in the differences in the costs of living, but having a minor league team in a new downtown stadium in Nashville at minimal cost to taxpayers looks like a pretty good deal compared to what NYC is getting, even with the incomparable Yankee mystique. (A side note to council member and ballpark agreement opponent David Briley: your idea of pursuing the Steiner Liff property one the East Bank later instead of settling on the old Thermal site last spring looks increasingly unrealistic).

We Cannot Rely on the Mainstream Media to Keep Up with Riverfront Redevelopment, Updated

Further evidence that the mainstream media requires the presence of weblogs: the total failure of this morning's print dailies to cover last night's important Civic Design Center forum on the latest plan to redevelop the Riverfront and to create islands and more greenspace on the Cumberland. I could not attend due to previous commitments, so quite naturally the meeting does not get covered by anyone (unless the Nashville Scene stepped up to the plate in their regular Wednesday edition, which is due out later today).

09/29/2006 11:00 a.m. Update: Nothing in Wednesday's Scene, but the City Paper did finally do a story on it today based on a Wednesday interview. So, 3 days after the fact and 2 days after their interview, the NCP finally reports on the latest plan; and this in an age when news and information develops within minutes, rather than within days. And how did the NCP hard copy lead? With the jaded, sensationalist headline, "Riverfront Gamble." As if there are ever any investments that do not involve risk.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Second Riverfront Redevelopment Meeting Tonight

If you are kicking yourself for missing the first Riverfront Public Forum in August, given their provocative and unprovocative proposals, you have a chance to attend tonight's meeting, where they will make public a draft of the plan, given the feedback from the first meeting.

I won't have that chance because Salemtown has a neighborhood association meeting tonight. If there is not a quorum in Salemtown, I'll be pissed that I missed the Riverfront meeting.

Affordable Housing at the Viridian

Apparently, all of the affordable units in the Viridian are slated to be placed on the side that is almost totally blocked out by the L&C Building (which sits so close to the Viridian that they look like congenital twins), thus depriving middle-income residents from perhaps the primary benefit of living in a downtown high-rise: a good view. Also, check out the interesting comment that some "affordable income" residents are actually upper income residents who work out deals to receive lower incomes from their employers until the title is transferred, and then they have their pay jumped back to what it was.

A Proud Nonmember of Political Blog Players Lists Since Ten O'Clock This Morning

Not being listed here or here is no cause for concern. I don't mind being an unauthorized source of information at all, especially information that is more relevant to what happens hyper-locally. Just remember: all politics is local, unless you are a "Player." Then just go to Bill Hobbs for everything you need to know.

God Does Take Sides in Politics

And now for a camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle moment via Walter Wink:
God sides with the poor, not because of their virtue, but because of their suffering; not because of their goodness, but because they have been sinned against. And [Jesus] proclaims them blessed [in the Beatitudes], not because poverty is holy, but because their poverty gives them a perspective to understand Jesus' condemnations of wealth. He declares those who weep fortunate, not because their suffering produces character, but because it opens their eyes .... Indeed, what are the Beatitudes if not a systematic and explicit repudiation of the Domination System? [Engaging the Powers, p. 112].
If it weren't for those damned Beatitudes, Jesus would be a swell guy merely taking the role of our personal saviour.

Politically Astute Quote of the Week

Sean Braisted expressed exactly my sentiments about recent Republican commercials against Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr., but did so much more effectively than I could have:
I wish it were true, I wish Ford were a Liberal, unfortunately, he isn't. Is he the most liberal member of the Tennessee Delegation? Perhaps, but that is like trying to figure out who the blackest member of the Beatles is.
When It comes to voting for Ford, I intend to be a Yellow Dog Democrat and hold my nose and punch the screen next to his name; but he is most definitely not a liberal.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bill and Me

This morning I called Senator Bill Frist's office to tell them that I wanted the April National Intelligence Estimate released to the public before the November elections in light of yesterday's NY Times report that the Iraq invasion has spawned new Islamic radicalism and has made greater the threat of terrorism. When Frist's Washington office staffer answered the phone, I asked him what Frist's position was on releasing the NIE to the public. The staffer told me that he was not aware of Senator Frist's stance. I asked if there was a staffer available who did know and with whom I could speak. He said "No. Senator Frist has not commented publicly on that." I replied, "Well, Senator Frist seemed to be commenting publicly to it on yesterday morning's news shows when he said that he disagreed with the news of the report's findings." The staffer asked if he could put me on hold, which I agreed to. He came back on and waited for me in silence. I said, "Now you were telling me that Senator Frist had not commented publicly even though, as I told you, he seemed to have done on yesterday's news shows." At that point he told me that Senator Frist does not condone releasing any classified military information that might hurt the war effort. I told him that I respected the need to keep certain information classified, but that I wanted the April NIE released before the election, rather than after. He told me that he would pass the word on to Senator Frist. I offered to give him my name and address. He told me that he could see by his phone that I was in Nashville, and that he would not need that information.

Please call Senator Frist's office (202-224-3344) and tell him that you want the April National Intelligence Estimate released before the election.

Charlie and the Camera Factory

The Nashville City Paper carries a story this morning on Charlie's Cabin, which you first read about last Thursday here on Enclave. In the NCP version, Tygard bellyaches that Metro needs to pay extra special attention to Bellevue when he could just as easily pick up a bat himself and play ball. He helped give himself thousands of dollars in Metro funds to use in Bellevue at his discretion. The term "discretion" seems to apply to this pet project. The NCP should have asked Tygard why he won't use those discretionary funds for the cabin's security cameras, but it dropped the ball.

Regardless, it remains a fair question: why does Charlie assume that he is entitled to funds that Metro Council already committed to other projects? I'm also still wondering why Tygard and all the other self-fancied fiscal conservatives on Council gave themselves extra Metro funding--gained in a $1.95 million windfall from past years' delinquent property taxes collected this year--instead of returning that money to taxpayers. Who can answer me? Charlie? Eric? The Insider? Tennessee Tax Revolt? Anyone? Anyone?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Metropolitan 8 Website Is Up; Still No Word on Exact Location

09/24/2006, 11:30 p.m. Update: Will Sanford has more details. It's going to be somewhere on 8th Avenue.

09/25/2006, 8:50 p.m. Update: Will updates at the link above to confirm that the development will be built at the corner of 8th and Garfield.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

12South Neighbors Report Brazen Break-Ins

The 12South Neighborhood Association e-mail list buzzed today with reports of two break-ins in their neighborhood over the past few days.

On Thursday night between 10:00 and midnight, an intruder or intruders broke down the front door of a house on Vaulx Lane and stole most of the electronics while no one was home.

On Friday night shortly before 10:00 p.m., an intruder or intruders broke down "the entire front door" of a house on the corner of Lealand and Kirkwood. In this case, the resident was home alone and she ran out of the back door and fled to a neighbor's house. No information is available on whether anything was stolen.

The criminal or criminals in both of these cases look brazen in breaking down the front door and in one case in doing so with the victim at home.

Do You Feel Safer Than You Felt 3 Years Ago?

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

- - tomorrow's NY Times

Noshville 86'ed the Pot Roast and the Chicken in a Pot

We like to go to Noshville to eat now and then on Friday nights, because it seems to be one of the less crowded places to dine at the end of the work week. To my surprise and sadness last night, I found that both the pot roast and the chicken in the pot had been taken off of the menu. In particular, the pot roast was dropped, according to our server, because some servers had discouraged ordering it. I was told that several servers did not personally like it; so, it was not selling with the clientele.

Both of the dishes just dripped "New York Deli," to me. One of the replacement items was chicken parmigiana. All Noshville needs to do now is drop the knishes and the matzo ball soup and their journey away from a singular kosheresque diner in Nashville will be complete.

Knowing that I cannot have the comfort of their pot roast on cold nights just made the prospect of the coming winter longer and darker.

Clinton Knocks Around Fox, Updated

On the heels of ABC's The Path to 9/11 rock-and-roll-fantasy, I could not resist linking this.

09/23/2006, 1:05 p.m. Update: Fox News interview archives back up Bill Clinton and show Fox News' Chris Wallace to be lying when he claimed to ask the Bush Administration the same questions he asked Clinton.

09/23/2006, 5:30 p.m. "Stick-a-fork-in-him-he's-done" Update: Even before Fox News' Chris Wallace can get his interview with Clinton on the air tomorrow, ThinkProgress has totally discredited him with simple Lexis-Nexis searches. Wallace told Clinton that he had asked Bush Administration officials appearing on his show about the USS Cole. That was a lie. He also failed to ask any Bush Administration officials about the demotion of Richard Clark. Wallace should have never picked this fight with Clinton.

09/24/2006, 8:20 a.m. Update: Just watched the entire interview on Fox. Chris Wallace looked much worse than than the previously troubling transcripts let on. He was snivelling, smug, and argumentative from the get go. I cannot believe Fox News showed the interview in its entirety. They should have heavily edited it, because Clinton looks like he is giving Democrats a primer for choking the propaganda turbines.

09/24/2006, 1:20 p.m. Update: Click here to watch the interview. I am completely befuddled by Chris Wallace's contrasting treatment of Osama bin Laden's comments and Richard Clarke's comments in his questions to Clinton. On the one hand, the pretext behind Wallace's questioning lends carte blanche to bin Laden's comments about U.S. troops after Blackhawk Down. On the other hand, Wallace impugns Richard Clarke's comments about the Clinton Administration's response by saying that Clarke has "a variety of loyalties"; as if, Clarke's loyalties disqualify him in ways that bin Laden's terrorist strategizing does not! Wallace gives bin Laden's comments more credibility and that indicates to me that the neo-conservatives will sink to any level to score political points in this election season. They will do anything to avoid running on Iraq, even if it means picking old fights with Clinton from a diametrically opposite side than they originally did.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Solve the Mystery of Metropolitan 8

A neighbor tipped me off this morning. Will Sanford at the Intown is on the case and hunting clues. Anybody know anything?

I have to agree with Will's query: what's with "Uptown"? At least we didn't get called a name that included the now hackneyed "District." But "Uptown"?

A Neighborhood of Porches: WKRN's Salemtown Piece

Click here to watch Jennifer Moran's first-rate story on Salemtown. Thanks also to GM Mike Sechrist who has enthusiastically encouraged News 2 to do stories on our section of town.

Potentially Blocked Block Grant?

Bush Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson urged aides to consider political loyalties when handing out grants. A ThinkProgress Exclusive has some damaging quotes from the Inspector General's report on these allegations.

This is troubling news with only one year of Salemtown's three-year block grant currently locked in. MDHA (which administers the Salemtown Block Grant) is already suffering the ill effects of Bush's domestic budget cuts, including their own staff and crew cuts beginning October 1. I have to wonder if future block grant money is going to be taken away from us and allocated to less neutral groups that express support of the Bush Administration.

I've Been One Poor Correspondent

It has been a while since I wrote an update on the Salemtown Citizen Advisory Committee's progress on finding a project for the HUD grant, but part of the problem is that we are making grindingly slow progress, and we have been set back for the last two months by a cancelled September meeting (we had already cancelled February's meeting due to Valentine's Day) and the neighborhood-wide August election-of-new-members meeting. Add to that one summer meeting where we started late because we did not have a quorum, and it feels to me like when we do get back to work it will be like coming out of a coma.

I have also been frustrated that when we meet we discuss our thoughts and feelings about the short-list of projects for the neighborhood there is very little research being done as to cost and feasibility of the projects. The little information we have came when Public Works met with us to address what projects they could and could not work on themselves. Not having vital information seems to make setting priorities wishful thinking in my mind. While some have fairly strongly-held beliefs about projects on which we should spend the block grant monies, I have a hard time committing to specific projects, because I have such little information to guide me toward a strongly-held belief. It seems to me we are discussing hypotheticals in best-of-all-possible worlds, and I want to keep my feet on the ground.

So, my block grant correspondence has been poor, but there has not been much to report. You haven't missed much.

Builders Waste Metro Money by Burning Trash

The past two evenings construction workers at a development on 6th Avenue in Salemtown have been burning their rubbish in piles at the alley and leaving them unattended to burn all night. Besides being illegal, the fires produce acrid smoke that pollutes the neighborhood, including getting into homes through dryer and fan exhausts. Yesterday, I called the Metro Fire Department twice to come put out these fires, and I will continue to do so as the fires start up. Hence, builders are only wasting taxpayer dollars when they burn stuff that they should be hauling to the dump.

The Problem of the Mayor's Race: Metro Council Dumbs Down the Field

A Volunteer Voters reader handicaps the next Metro Mayor's race and tells how the current council culture wars dumb down the field:
[Buck] Dozier's a [R]epublican. He thinks he has a chance because he came in first in the at-large race. But he's Church of Christ, anti-Purcell, pro-developer (not necessarily downtown businesses) and old school Metro. He's Fulton-esque in his approach to letting Metro old-timers run their departments. Purcell, through performance audits and tight budgets, forced a great many of the old-timers out and they're the ones pushing Buck.

[Howard] Gentry can't control the council. After five years he still hasn't figured out council procedure, which is something the 20-something new lawyer, Jon Cooper, figured out in a month. He gets schooled week in and week out by Ludye Wallace. If you ever saw Jay West run a council meeting, you would weep at the ineptitude of Gentry's "leadership."

[Bob] Clement is not the sharpest tool in the box, but he's got the support (grudgingly, at best) of the downtown core businesses. They need someone who will be progressive in tourism and attracting business, but still keep up with the quality of life issues that Purcell has been so good at doing.

The major problem that we have in this election cycle is that the current council has thrown up so many d[i]visive issues that everyone on the local level is wounded to an extent. No one has been allowed to climb to the top of the heap.

There are men and women out there who would be great the job, but would be horrible campaigners. Torry [Johnson],
regret[t]ably, is one of those. Bob, is the opposite - great campaigner....

There is a pool of talent, but they are getting smacked around by stupid crap like [Eric] Crafton's English proposal. Issues that don't help do anything but divide and provide crappy candidates for top offices.
Council conservatives continue to bar Nashville from a future full of promise.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Violent Crime and Property Offenses Drop in District 19

While crime increased the first half of 2006 in some Metro Councilmanic districts, District 19--which includes Salemtown, Germantown, Hope Gardens, parts of Downtown, Music Row, The Gulch, and Edgehill--experienced double-digit drops in crime during the same period. Based on Metro Police statistics, violent crimes were down almost 15% from January to June in our area; property offenses were down almost 20%.

Little Cabin in the Wood

There were several dust-ups at Tuesday night's council meeting beyond the English-only controversy.

One that went unnoticed in the mainstream media, but stood out to me involved the protection and security of a restored log cabin in Bellevue. Council member Charlie Tygard wants to protect the cabin, which sits in a secluded part of a park and keeps getting hit by vandals. So, he presented a bill requesting $3,500 for surveillance cameras, rather than relying on calls to Park Rangers.

The one hitch is that he was requesting the money from funds that, according to the Metro Finance Department, Metro Council had already voted to encumber when it passed the Capital Budget. That dilemma flustered several council members, including Eric Crafton, who started yelping about how ridiculous it was that the Finance Department could not find such a small amount of money in a multi-million dollar budget to buy the cameras. This is the same Eric Crafton who a little over a month ago was screaming against Metro's expenditure of money for paper publications. Money is an object when it comes to paper, but when it comes to security cameras it is no object?

It is definitely no object to Charlie Tygard, who made his plea on preservationist grounds even though in 2005 he voted to help kill a resolution that would have authorized an investigation of the fishy demolition of historic Evergreen Place, which was the oldest building in Davidson County. Nonetheless, Tygard was visibly upset that the Finance Department's response to his request for camera funds was to suggest that he spend it out of the $50,000 individual discretionary funds that each council member gave themselves this year for their own pet projects. I do not know what Tygard is so upset about. $3,500 is also a small percentage of $50,000. How is drawing on those funds a bad idea? It is not the Finance Department's fault that the council voted to encumber funds to other projects.

The council approved Tygard's resolution by voice vote (according to the Clerk's Office, there were no "nays"), fed by Crafton's rather irresponsible inducement that they just approve it and then let Metro Finance trouble itself over where the money will come from. Is that supposed to be leadership that Crafton is expressing? Sounds more like personal animosity to me, especially when Tygard seems to have $50,000 to spend at his discretion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Frist Makes CREW List

Tennessee Senator Bill Frist has received the dubious distinction of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's list of Most Corrupt Members of Congress. He shares that distinction with only two other Senators. Frist is looking like he's willing to go down with the President's cruel-and-inhuman-interrogation ship, as prominent Republicans are jumping overboard. So, making CREW's list does not help him. Perhaps Frist needs to take a moment to locate his moral compass, assuming he ever had one.

09/22/2006, 10:55 a.m. Update: Looks like I gave the proverbial deck-clearing rats too much credit. They are willing to compromise their own principles or to stage an argument with the White House so that they can look independent in order to distract attention from the billions of dollars per month that we are taking out of American communities and dumping into Iraq. Looks like the Dems were played, Bush still gets to torture even though it rarely produces any useful information, and Frist avoids a fight that would have brought down his reputation even lower than it already is.

Laudable Council Member Performances

Council members who did an admirable job standing up to Eric Crafton's English-only ordinance are due some recognition:
  • Mike Jameson ( dressed down the feigned paternalism and the very logic of the English-only bill. He said that before he could vote with Crafton, he needed some questions answered. He asked for a list of immigrant groups who approached Crafton asking for the very help that Crafton was offering to free them from their supposed crutches. He asked for data to show that non-English speakers were not attempting to learn English because of the bilingual policies of Metro government. He reminded us that there are long lines to get into adult English classes, but that the Metro Council had cut funding for these classes (At this point, I was on the edge of my recliner pumping my fist snarling, "You go, Mike!" I mean, after all, how can you take away something from people with one hand and not offer something else with the other?). He also asked for data to support Crafton's claim that cutting bilingual services actually helps immigrants learn English faster. Jameson not only took Crafton's argument apart block-by-block, but he schooled his fellow council members on the critical questions that they are supposed to be asking.
  • Jim Shulman ( against any bill that would divide Metro Nashville residents from one another. He pointed to the high volume of polarized e-mails council members were getting and he astutely observed that despite Crafton's stated intentions to unify Nashville under "English-only," the bill seemed to be dividing Nashvillians. Amen. You can't force unity, Mr. Crafton. This is not a top-down, banana-republic dictatorship. It never ceases to amaze me that the shrillest critics of government, like Crafton, are usually the first ones to start advocating government crack-downs in an attempt to force unity among different people. So much for libertarianism.
  • Ronnie Greer ( the need for Metro Nashville to be an inclusive place. Greer compared codifying English-only now to the forcing of English-only on his African forbearers brought here as slaves in the 19th Century.
Finally, I have got to tell you: I am still shaking my head about Crafton's attack on the state's current English-only law during last night's debate (he referred to it as "do-nothing"). If this guy is going to go so far as to deride existing English-only laws, that should tell you that his views are extreme, perhaps even dangerous.

How the So-Called "Liberal" Mainstream Print Media Covered the English-Only Debate

The reliability of this morning's print coverage of last night's Metro Council English-only debate is mixed.

Bill Harless at the Nashville City Paper reported that Metro Council "passed a significantly neutralized version" of Crafton's English-only ordinance. Harless does not attribute the adjective "neutralized" to the sponsors or any bill-supporter, so I am left to conclude that such a description is his own. However, suggesting that Crafton's substitute bill is more "neutral" is a matter of perspective and not a matter of objective fact. To be neutral means to not be aligned with, supporting, or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest. How is Crafton's substitute bill neutral in this dispute over making English the "official" language? It may be more neutral to right-wingers who desire that no form of government communication ever be in any other language but English, but it is hardly neutral for "English-only" opponents who believe that the council does not need to start mandating which languages Metro chooses to communicate with Metro residents. As such, Harless' report indicates a bias in favor of Crafton's measure. Calling it neutral gives the bill more credibility and legitimacy, and such conservative commentary is not Harless' job.

The Tennessean's Michael Cass' own reportage was actually pretty close to fitting the actual definition of neutrality. He calling Crafton's substitute bill a "diluted English proposal." To dilute can mean "to lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance of." The substitute bill was indeed lessened in force, strength, and purity from its predecessor (which was about as brilliant as a bag full of hammers). To call the proposal "diluted" allows readers to develop their own positive, negative, or neutral responses, and it does not seem to indicate a bias either for or against the English-only ordinance. So, I could not detect any hint of bias in Cass' writing, one way or the other. He could teach Harless a couple of things about objective reporting.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crafton's "English-Only" Bill Passed and Deferred to October Meeting

Eric Crafton withdrew his original English-only bill tonight and introduced a substitute bill that affirmed English-only government, but made exceptions for health and safety communications. The substitute bill, after some debate, was accepted by voice vote and deferred to the October 17 council meeting. During his comments, Crafton derided the state's English-only law, accused the American Civil Liberties Union of litigating civil rights cases just for the fees, and introduced his bill in Japanese to make a point.

Council members who spoke tonight expressed an interest in learning more about this issue, so register your opposition to Crafton's ordinance here.

Initial Impressions From Tonight's Council Meeting in Midstream

It looks to be a long meeting tonight, as Council has spent most of their time so far on amendments to be put on next year's ballot. Some initial impressions from those discussions:
  • I saw John H. in attendance in the gallery and it was fun to watch him double over and crack up over Ludye Wallace's shoulder when Ludye lost track of the exact bill for which he was speaking in favor. I had to laugh myself when Ludye stopped and said, "Which one are we on?" But I laughed more heartily watching John. I look forward to a good write-up over at Salem's Lots, especially a review on how the new council chambers look.
  • Some council members fail to understand the idea that we have a consolidated city and county government. Both Ludye and at-large member Carolyn Baldwin Tucker seemed to struggle with the idea that the council represents Davidson County rather than simply Nashville, which makes a difference when one is voting on a proposal to let voters decide whether the council can replace its own members. Remedial lessons in consolidation might be called for.
  • John Summers actually had the gall to request that the sergeant-at-arms make absent council members come back from their breaks in other rooms for a vote that he deemed important. You recall that Summers seemed to pull an Elvis and left chambers back in January when his own controversial Sylvan Park overlay came up for consideration. While the chair overruled his motion because a quorum of members was present, it seems to me that a council member who was absent when the single most important bill he ever sponsored came up should restrain himself forever more from requesting that his fellows be forced back in.

Let the Qualifications to English-"Only" Government Begin

Now that council member Eric "No Crutch" Crafton is subject to some drama over his IMBECILE bill, he is starting to make qualifications to the "only" in his vision of an "English-only" metropolitan government. Maybe it is because the ordinance is potentially a violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution; or maybe Crafton asked himself, "What if my house catches on fire when I ain't home and the only person around to make the call to summon the fire trucks doesn't speak English so good?" That might explain his willingness to exempt safety and health issues from English-"only." It still does not justify this latest council culture war.

Register your opposition to Crafton's IMBECILE Ordinance in any language that Council members understand here.

Lame Councilmanic Quote of the Week

I detest all this junk on the telephone: "Press one if you want English. Press two if you want Spanish. Press three if you want Russian," and all that rigmarole.

- - J. B. Loring on why he will vote English-only at Council tonight

So, why not just pass a law against automated phone messages?

Ford's Horns: Giving Reasons Not to Vote Republican

Bruce Barry cuts right to the heart of the dilemma that Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. faces. At some point Junior will have to put his allergies about ideology aside and convince Tennesseans that voting for a Democrat is better than voting for a Republican. The national Republican money dump has started, so Ford better not tarry.

Monday, September 18, 2006

While Our City Leaders Are in the Thrall of English-Only, Other Cities Are Working Internationally to Reduce Emissions

In his policy address at NYU today, Al Gore mentioned the initiatives cities and states are taking to by-pass the federal deadlock over reducing CO2 emissions. Here is the story behind the initiatives. While Metro Council seems to get more parochial over time, other city leaders are "creating a patchwork of regulations" that might "form the basis for broader national action" and for protecting our environment for future generations. Why can't Nashville exercise the foresight to explore trading carbon dioxide pollution credits or energy-efficient products with cities around the world? Why do we have to keep falling back instead of moving forward?

A Summary of Al Gore's Policy Address at NYU

Al Gore's policy address at NYU laid out a plan in a "no politicians zone" between "political feasibility" and the first beginnings of effective change to the current "climate crisis." Gore said that he wanted to shine some light on a pathway through that "terra incognita." He argued that we need to begin with a higher level of honesty in America's political dialogue, because our children "deserve better than the [present] spectacle of scientific censorship" since they will inherit the world we leave them.

His plan included:
  1. An immediate freeze on all CO2 emissions levels. Gore called this a practical starting point to work together across partisan lines. He compared this proposal to the popular nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s, which he opposed at the time because he saw it as too simplistic. He changed his mind when he realized that the nuclear freeze movement prepared the political landscape for important weapons reduction initiatives. He argues that an emissions freeze could have the same effect.
  2. Join the rest of the global economy by living by the rules of the global cap on carbon emissions commerce. The current U.S. absence means that 25% of the world's market is missing from adherence to the global cap. Once the U.S. joins, according to Gore, the global market will become a highly efficient closed system, where corporations are rewarded for meeting their emissions targets at minimum expense.
  3. Convene an ongoing discussion with community leaders around the country over the next year to reach an effective consensus on where to go next; but also utilize solutions that are also already available. Those solutions include:
    • Dramatic changes in transportation that we have yet to start using, including altering the internal combustion engine so that it does not waste the current 90% of the energy it produces
    • Utilizing computer and monitoring system advancements to create a "Smart Grid" or "Electranet" of dispersed energy producing facilities less subject to widespread outage or terrorist attacks. That network could include small ethanol production facilities, dispersed windmill farms, and consumers who produce their own electricity at a capacity to be able to sell it back to the grid
    • A revolution in our transportation infrastructure that would both create American jobs and reduce emissions. New production of hybrid vehicles, biodiesel, and ethanol would allow America to once again become a commercial leader in emerging energy niche industries that generate new jobs and protect the environment
    • Creation of "Conny Mae" lending institutions that help stimulate developments and buildings that generate more energy than they consume
    • Move away from dependence on nuclear reactors, which are too large in cost and size in an economy that demands flexible and scalable sources of energy; the proliferation of reactors also leads to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which increases the chance of nuclear terrorism
    • Repeal payroll taxes and replace them with pollution taxes. Gore advocates a "revenue-neutral tax swap" that will encourage businesses to hire employees and that will penalize businesses for producing more pollution. He called this "putting a price on the use of CO2 emissions."
I thought that Gore did exactly what he set out to do: provide a significant policy alternative that addresses both what is feasible in our economy and what is necessary to turn us away from the tipping point in our climate crisis.

09/18/2006, 4:30 p.m. Preemptive Strike Update: Before any of Gore's anti-environment critics counter that he is emitting a lot of CO2 by jetting around to these speaking engagements, I want to refer you to the fact that Gore attempts to neutralize his carbon emissions by purchasing "carbon offsets."

Other Dubious Ordinances Up For Council Consideration Tomorrow Night

  • Ludye Wallace's Chain Link Fence Bill: would prohibit said fences along arterial and collector streets. Originally, Ludye wanted to prohibit all front-yard fences. After some constituent pressure, he dropped that dumber version of this dumb bill, which was good for me because we are putting up a lovely new picket fence this week in our front yard without any Metro interference. Ludye is just going after people with chain link fences along the street, which includes the local big business, Werthan Packing, unless he has worked out some sort of deal to exempt owner Tony Werthan from compliance. However, the Metro Council Office seems to be waving a red flag about this bill:
    The council office would point out that this ordinance could result in a substantial cost to the Metropolitan Government, especially schools, if Metro facilities were required to have stone, brick or wood fences.
    We shall see if money is an object when this bill comes up for a vote on the second of three readings tomorrow night.
  • Charlie Tygard's Selectively Applied Residency Bill: would amend Metro Laws to require elected Metro employees making more than $100,000 per year to be residents of Davidson County. This bill seems to be mainly targeted at the Mayor's Office. The Metro Council lawyers have deemed Tygard's proposed ordinance (also up for second reading) to be unconstitutional:
    While the United States Supreme Court has ruled that it is valid to require that employees of local governments be residents of the jurisdiction of the government, such a residency requirement must be uniformly applied to satisfy constitutional muster. The residency requirement in this ordinance would only apply to those persons working for certain elected officials that make in excess of $100,000, and therefore would not be uniformly applied to similarly situated employees.
    Looks like Tygard's bill runs the risk of further clogging our courts with frivolous litigation should Metro Council pass it. Why is Council even wasting time on a law that cannot be applied uniformly?
  • Bordering on dubious is Vivian Wilhoite's & Randy Foster's proposed ordinance to require Metro Departments to send reports on costs of copies and publications that council members can already request themselves if they are so interested. Do we really need another law to institutionalize what council members should be doing by their own initiative? Isn't running down important information why we elect and pay them? The council office issued this comment to council members in light of its third reading tomorrow night:
    The council office would remind members of council that several of the large publications prepared by various Metro departments are required by council ordinance.
  • What are the odds that council member J.B. Loring will once again announce the percentages of phone calls from "Caucasian people of the United States" vs. phone calls from "people of foreign descent" when his anti-illegal-immigration ordinance comes up on third reading?

Bilingual is to a Crutch as Proper English is to a Crutch

Calling Metro bilingual "communications, publications, and answering systems" a "crutch" for Spanish-speaking people is like calling proper-English "communications, publications, and answering systems" a "crutch" for monolingual English speakers who are grammatically challenged and for those who chronically have trouble spelling. So, should we stop expecting the correct use of English in all Metro communications because co-sponsors Eric Crafton and The Insider expect Metro to stop offering people crutches? One has to wander wonder.

The "Invalidate Metro Bilingual Communications" (IMBeCile for short) Ordinance comes up on first reading in Metro Council tomorrow night. Register your opposition to the IMBECILE Ordinance in any language that Council members understand here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tell Me No Secrets; Tell Me No Lies

I got word from a well-placed source that Kay West's meddling with the East End real estate/restaurant market in "Eastern Time/Circle the Wagon" is based on unsubstantiated untruths. West speculates:
Within the industry, it has been no secret that Red Wagon chef/owner Meg Giuffrida, who had a baby shortly after opening the time-consuming restaurant, wants to gear back and re-focus on catering.
My source tells me that this unsecret is news to Ms. Giuffrida (the gear-back-to-catering part; not the baby part). I am also told that Kay West did not attempt to go to Ms. Giuffrida as the source of any of the information about the possible sale of Red Wagon, even though Ms. West claimed that she got "no response to inquiries about the [Craigslist] posting or the future of Red Wagon" in her opportunistic little Scene piece.

The information that Red Wagon was on the market was told to me some time ago with the request to keep the news on the down low. I respected that request. Kay West obviously does not feel the need to respect the sensitivities of potential real estate deals, but instead prefers to fiddle with rumor and innuendo that can tamper with the offers potential buyers might make. It also smells like someone connected with a potential deal might be throwing Ms. West a bone to shake a potential sale out.

This is probably just the business of journalism to Kay West and Scene editors, but her piece looks like it belongs more appropriately in that annoying little recurrence called "The Fabricator," rather than under the auspices of solid journalism.

09/20/2006, 2:55 p.m. Update: liz garrigan comments below that she spoke with Meg Guiffrida recently as part of the fact-checking behind the story.

Got Your Own Completely Privatized City, Yet?

The new growth industry in today's marketplace seems to be cities hiring private corporations to take over the bulk of their operations. But there are many local concerns in these communities, including that of one suburban Atlanta-area resident who says, "They're money hungry." But they sure don't look cash-starved.

Chattanoooga Just as Bad as Nashville, but Not as Bad as Knoxville?

I cannot figure out what this is about. Is it a comparative defense of mediocre oversight? An appeal to the lowest common denominator? I cannot find any evidence that the NCP compared the Nashville Emergency Call Center's problems in 2004 & 2005 & 2006 with Chattanooga's or any other city's ECC conditions. So why appear to defend Mayor/Senate Candidate Bob Corker with comparisons now when they did not cover ECC Director RoxAnn Brown with them then? I am not attempting to defend Brown or implicate Corker in mismanagement. I just want to know what the NCP was up to on Friday.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Metro Attempts To Help the North End Dampen Traffic Along 5th Avenue

I already introduced readers to the 5th Avenue Dragstrip, and I explained why it is prone to speeding and reckless driving. I also related meeting and speaking with a Metro Traffic & Parking supervisor less than a month ago about what can be done on 5th to remedy the situation. Today, I discovered that they were laying down white lane markers effectively narrowing the driving lanes. Metro is making what appear to be good efforts to change drivers' perceptions of lane widths on 5th Avenue. The white lane markers run from deep in the heart of Germantown into Salemtown and along the most dangerous parts of 5th. If they slow traffic down and make our neighborhood safer, we can all thank Metro for helping us out.

City Paper Hater's Club Gets Another Member (And They Didn't Even Do Anything to Deserve It This Time)

While running my kid over to her day care this morning, I was tuned into Lightning 100 and listening to their interview of Colin Hay, former front man for Men at Work (a band wildly popular in the early 1980s). Mr. Hay, who is in town for this weekend's Australian Music Festival, expressed the wish to strike back at the writer of a local newspaper who recently referred to his music as "cornball." The Lightning 100 DJ asked which paper insulted Men at Work and she ran through a short list: "Tennessean? All the Rage? Nashville Scene?" Mr. Hay replied, "It was the City Paper." Mr. Hay then played a mini-set of his songs, starting off with "Overkill," which he dedicated to the "clown" who wrote the article in question.

Now the City Paper deserves its share of criticism, but it is getting a bum rap on this one. Mr. Hay's "clown" can be found in the person of Joey Hood at the Nashville Scene, which has been at times its own little big top. Dear Mr. Hood, Mr. Hay has a message for you: "Ghosts appear and fade away."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Just Another Example of How Spending Tax Dollars on Local Greenspace Stimulates Development

Remember how an embittered member of Metro Council, Charlie Tygard, spoke venomously of the Downtown courthouse and adjoining Public Square Park as community-draining "monuments to government," as if libraries or schools built by Metro in his district would not be likewise? Well, one recent announcement for development at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Union Street shows that if these are monuments, they are at least paying some private dividends. Besides being an asset that Nashvillians (especially Downtown's growing resident population) can enjoy, the attractive new Public Square Park is stimulating a $5 million expansion to AmSouth Center that will add a restaurant and a fitness center with scenic views of the park. Do you think AmSouth Center would have expanded toward the public property if Metro (especially the Mayor's Office) had just left the block with that old ugly surface parking that used to be there and instead built Charlie Tygard a library? I doubt it. Morgan Park on my side of town needs a lot of work and upgrades, but you don't hear me trying to leverage it by using Mr. Tygard's cheeky disrespect toward what will be one of Nashville's central and more prominent greenspaces. That's because I believe we all benefit from more greenspace anywhere in Nashville, even when some of us don't get exactly what we want when we want it.

Hit for the Cycle: Test Your Baseball Knowledge

There are three Major League Baseball teams that have never had a player to hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, and home run in one game). Name them. (Here's some help: the Texas Rangers' Gary Matthews, Jr. hit for the "cycle-plus"--cycle + a walk--last night; so, Texas could not be part of your answer).

Bonus question: What MLB team has had players who hit for the cycle, but also holds the record for most number of years lapsed between players who hit for the cycle?

I'll post the answers later.

09/15/2006, 8:30 a.m. Answer: The Florida Marlins, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the San Diego Padres are the three teams that have never had a player to hit for the cycle.

The Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves hold the record for most years lapsed between players hitting for the cycle: 77. Atlanta's Albert Hall hit for the cycle in 1987, breaking a drought that stretched back to Boston rookie Bill Collins accomplishing the feat in 1910. The Milwaukee Braves never had a player hit for the cycle.

Hitting for the cycle is one of the most difficult feats in sports because it defies skill, fortune, and the law of averages (especially in baseball, where the best hitters hit 1 out of every 3 at bats). It requires that a hitter get at least 4 hits, when players do not typically see more than 4 at bats in a game. It is hard enough to hit a baseball, thrown at high velocity and with wicked curves, but to hit for the cycle is astronomically difficult by comparison. Only 4 players in this year's season (each team plays 162 games) have hit for the cycle, which seems a high number to me. Only 272 players have pulled the feat off since the 19th Century. The first to do it was an Ireland native, Curry Foley, playing for the Buffalo Bisons in 1882.

I believe that the most difficult part of the the cycle is getting the triple, itself a relatively rare type of hit in baseball, because it requires a combination of hitting the ball in exactly the right outfield gap "where the fielders aren't" with astonishing foot speed around the bases to end up at 3rd. Home runs are difficult enough, but triples require almost pinpoint placement, power, and speed. I consider a triple one of the most exciting plays in baseball, because it requires so much more calculation on the batter's part than any other type of hit. Singles and doubles seem textbook by comparison. Triples also place great demands on the fielding and relay skills of the defense. Whenever I see a triple-in-the-making, I'm always waiting to exhale.

Only 14 players have hit for the cycle in the "natural order," starting with a single and finishing with a homerun.

Teams with most players hitting for the cycle:
  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (23)
  2. (tie) New York/San Francisco Giants (20); St. Louis Cardinals (20)

When Cities Consider Living Wages

[O]ur cities have seen growing numbers of frontline workers who aren't earning enough to get by. But since we passed our city wage laws, we've started to turn the tide. More working parents are able to quit their second jobs and spend time with their kids. Others are able to go back to school and get the education that helps them advance to better-paying jobs. And more are able to pay the rent and reduce their debt.

Some have asked whether our cities are different ... But when we were considering our wage laws we heard the same warnings ... "If you raise the minimum wage, retailers will build outside the city" .... [O]ur cities have easily accessible shopping areas just outside the city limits. But 10 ... are today paying a living wage at their stores in San Francisco. And 11 more -- including Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's Club and Lowe's -- are doing the same at their stores in Santa Fe.

No large retailer has closed a store because of our wage laws, and several are opening new ones, including Home Depot in San Francisco and Wal-Mart in Santa Fe.

- - San Francisco and Santa Fe administrators in a response to a Chicago proposal to raise retail minimum wages

Despite representing a win-win for local businesses and city dwellers employed by those businesses and despite showing support to the tune of 71% of Chicagoans, the proposed "Living Wage" Ordinance (which would have required that large retail stores pay $10 per hour and $3 in benefits by July 2010) was vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley. Daley was also able to flip the 2 city aldermanic votes that he needed yesterday to sustain his veto. And the aldermen were the ones who looked bad.

The Passing of One of the Finest Governors Ever

Governor Ann Richards of the Great State of Texas has moved on to greener pastures. I'll miss her spittin' fire wit and her ability to break down any door that was shut in her face. She once used Ginger Rogers as a metaphor for women, saying that she could do everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and on high heels. As the father of two daughters, I thank Ann for making this a better world for them to do what they will. Hats off; she's passing on.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Remembering September 11, 2001: Newly Released Tape of the WTC Attack

Just-released video taken on 9/11 by neighbors.
Click on the thumbnail.
Not for the faint of heart.

"Even One Wrong Decision": Corker Campaign Leaves Itself Open

I have pondering the Republican's latest scortched-earth political ad against Harold Ford, and not because I am a Harold Ford devotee. I've been thinking about strictly on strategic grounds, and I believe it is a potential blunder.

I'm sure you have seen the commercial; it's the one where the narrator says starkly at the end that we cannot afford to vote for Harold Ford because "we cannot afford to make even one wrong decision." It is real ominous and scary with the typical foul-air-brushed, unflattering picture of Ford.

But do the Republicans really want to open the Pandora's Box of making wrong decisions? If the Ford Campaign is astute it will point out that under Republicans, our Homeland Security since 2001 seems to involve one wrong decision after another:

  • Losing bin Laden in 12/01 at Tora Bora
  • No Iraq WMD
  • No post-Iraq War planning
  • Failure to send enough troops to secure Iraqis from sectarian violence
  • Promoting corporate war profiteering
  • Abu Ghraib
  • Water-boarding in clandestine camps
  • War-time violations on the front lines, like the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family
  • Attempting to allow Dubai to run our ports
  • Losing Iraq's Anbar province (the size of Louisiana) to al Qaeda
  • Failing to send troops into New Orleans for days after the levees broke
  • Homeland Security's (via FEMA) continuing failures in the Gulf Coast post-Katrina
If the Ford campaign is smart they will stop trying to engage Corker and the Republicans in other distracting ways. They are wasting valuable time by fighting Republicans where the Republicans want them. The ideological crap just needs to be deflected and brushed off.

Instead, Ford needs to hammer away at Corker for desiring to do things the same way over and over again and expecting things to get better; this is a good start. But the Ford Campaign needs to keep asking Tennesseans if they have had enough of the security failures that have produced malaise at home and embarrassment abroad. Polls show that in spite of the Bush spin of "safer but not yet safe," Americans do not feel safer. All Ford needs to do now is show us the Republicans' "not yet safe," really means "never going to be safe" without a significant course change. And that is the course change that will restore America's stature as a world leader.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Remove That Crutch from Your Own Armpit First

Follow me closely: Metro Council member Eric Crafton wants to stop all of Metro's bilingual efforts because he says that they are a crutch (his unproven assumption being that the people who rely on bilingual efforts do not require such assistance), but he wants to give himself and other private developers the crutch of not having to be burdened with Metro sidewalk fees (his unproven assumption being that developers like himself require such assistance). I guess crutches are okay when they help your own. Fellow Metro Council member Michael Craddock also wants to help immigrants break free of their "disadvantage." How paternal of him. I guess it is just not worthy to try to help people who do not yet have a firm grasp of English to pursue immunizations or to place emergency calls in, well, emergencies. Surely these big-hearted philanthropists are going to replace "bilingual crutches" with proposed funding bills for comprehensive, and thus expensive, new Metro-wide programs that aggressively teach English as a second language; but I'm not holding my breath. There's a better chance that they will just keep kicking other people's crutches out from under them in order to provide different crutches for their own kind.

And Then There Were 3 (or More)

The Nashville Scene's hand-picked favorite candidate, DA Torry Johnson will not be running for Mayor. But here's a frightening prospect that might make even me consider voting for Buck Dozier: darling of the Tennessee neo-cons, Beth Harwell is considering a run, says the NCP.

The fact that Harwell was the gubernatorial favorite in a straw poll of right-wing blogs does not mean that she is qualified to be straw boss of Metro government (in fact, that should be a huge strike against her). Harwell appears to have had a checkered ethics and outsourcing history, which ought to give Nashvillians pause. Given the Davidson Co. Republican Party's recent shenanigans, I wouldn't put it past them to try an sneak her by the goalie, even though our county is true blue.

North Nashville Tour Guide

NCP has a Lifestyle piece today on the "Know North Nashville Tours," which include the architectural masterpieces at Fisk University and the older buildings of Germantown.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Path to 9/11 "Did Very Poorly" in Nashville TV Ratings

According to WKRN General Manager Mike Sechrist, PT9/11 did not fare well in the local TV ratings. He says that the show averaged a 6 rating and an 8 share compared to the 22 rating and 32 share of NBC's Sunday Night Football (broadcast locally on WSMV, Channel 4). That is even lower than the national numbers for PT9/11. I guess football makes for better fantasy than terrorist attacks do.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Got Your True Story Behind 9/11 Right Here

Want truth? Turn off Channel 2 tonight and read it.

09/11/2006, 4:20 p.m. Update: In an editorial in today's NY Times, Paul Krugman leads us out of Disney/ABC's fantasyland mini-series back to the harsh light of truth:
[T]here never was a clear shot at Osama before 9/11, let alone one rejected by Clinton officials. But there was a clear shot in December 2001, when Al Qaeda's leader was trapped in the caves of Tora Bora. He made his escape because the Pentagon refused to use American ground troops to cut him off.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Peddling This Johnny Space Commander Fantasy

This Johnny Space Commander mask here is a pure fantasy toy. I mean, you know, kids can have a lot of fun with a toy like this, you know? Let me show you.. [puts the plastic bag over his head, then wraps the rubber band around it] "Hello, hello, this is Johnny Space Commander. I'm in deep space, I'm gonna land the rocket now!" You see what I mean? [takes off the plastic bag] You see what I mean? It's a pure fantasy toy!
- - Dan Ackroyd's Toy Dealer "Irwin Mainway" of SNL Fame

Disney/ABC, along with Nashville affiliate WKRN, are in business. They are marketing a product in the form of this weekend's controversial "Paths to 9/11" and they are selling it on public airwaves, with a boost from 900 right-wing, pre-screened promoters. They are now taking a lot of heat from center-to-left consumers who expect that product to live up to high standards of truth rather than to generate a fantasia of falsehoods about the causes of 9/11. You use a public medium, you should live up to the public trust by remaining either impartial or balanced.

But rather than attempting to sell a responsible product responsibly, they and their supporters have battened down the hatches, lashed out at a cross-section of their audience as "premature and irresponsible", and thrown around preposterous charges of "censorship" and "prior restraint." Yet, the popular criticism ABC is now catching has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment's guarantee of speech free from government censorship. And "prior restraint" applies to government attempts to prohibit free expression, and no credible consumer is supporting that in the simple phone call to WKRN or letter written to ABC.

When the controversy began, ABC was forced to say that fantasy is exactly what they are selling here. I don't object to selling fantasy. It is what Disney does best.

But I have a couple of qualms. Why did it take a full-blown controversy for them to say that it is a fantasy? And why do they want it both ways? They say it is also based on the 9/11 Commission Report.

And that leads to another issue: is it morally right to use public airwaves to fantasize about 9/11 before most factual 9/11 reports have sunk in and before most 9/11 history has even been written? That is a dangerous mix for a divided country in an election season, because it represents predatory selling of a partisan product to an audience that experienced 9/11 and an audience that is still mostly unnerved and frightened by the hint of vulnerability. As many have already claimed: the truth is compelling enough; why invent events that never happened just to manipulate an emotional audience response?

We have already watched as the Scholastic education service and a NY Times television reviewer--whose business it is to practice research methods and to draw the line between fact and fiction--swallowed whole the mini-series' falsified talking points. We witnessed them convey fantasies-as-fact that were not supported in the 9/11 Commission Report, even as they claimed that they were in the 9/11 Commission Report. If a politicized fantasy can have that much influence over specialists who are supposed to be trained to be factual, then it is either a naive or a cynical faith that holds that the general audience will be able to pan out the propaganda in order to walk away with the facts when no balance is guaranteed by ABC or WKRN.

Supporters of ABC and WKRN, both conservative and liberal, who defend the corporate right to political expression have missed the point. This is not about their freedom. It is about their imaginary product: a partial and fantastic interpretation about national security in insecure times. This is a matter of the propriety of using public airwaves to channel fantasia to a general audience. And here is the kicker: they are tearing the bipartisan spirit of the 9/11 Commission apart in the name of protecting some construed right to truthiness, even as ABC and WKRN want us to believe that we can turn to them as reliable sources of facts. It's a fantasy toy!

Al Gore Weighs In: ABC's 9/11 Concoction "Fundamentally Irresponsible," Updated

He released a statement expressing his concerns.

In other news related to ABC's/WKRN's political infomercial:
  • Two F.B.I. agents rejected advisory roles with it because they were concerned about "Path to 9/11's" accuracy.
  • Director of "Path to 9/11" has ties to a conservative evangelical film organization with an ulterior political agenda.
  • Overseas, ABC is not marketing "Path to 9/11" as a fictionalized account, but as "The story of exactly what happened."
  • AMERICAblog is reporting that ABC failed on their worldwide broadcast to edit out their mistaken reference to American Airlines as that which ignored warnings about Mohammad Atta boarding their flight. It was actually US Airways. A mother whose son was on AA Flight 11, which left Boston Logan at 8:30 a.m. on 9/11, has reportedly already written a letter chewing out ABC for defaming AA.
  • ABC failed to have a copy editor check important spelling in the worldwide broadcast.
  • DC affiliate distances itself from ABC's "Path to 9/11" in light of "some criticism leading up to the September 11, 2001 attack." Did Nashville's WKRN?
  • New Zealand audiences had to watch the wetdream falsified scene of Clinton official Sandy Berger missing the opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden. So much for ABC's charge that critics were being "premature and irresponsible" while the editing process was still unfinished (after it had already been finished).
  • One of the Bob Corker campaign commercials that showed during WKRN's 10:00 news tonight seemed to fit right in with the fabricated point of the commercial below that "one decision changed our world": the narrator in the Corker commercial said, "[Vote for Bob Corker] because we cannot afford to make even one wrong decision." Coincidence or coordination? Do you think that the Corker campaign might have been one of the 900 who originally received one of those advance copies of "Path to 9/11"? Hmm.
  • According to preliminary ratings, NBC's Sunday Night Football beat PT9/11 in the ratings going away, and PT9/11 only managed to tie CBS's "9/11" rerun, which was on very late (locally here from 10:30 until around 12:30 or 1:00 this morning; "9/11" was one I did not miss). PT9/11 had one sorry showing for primetime, commercial-free. Kudos to all of you who ignored ABC's fantasy broadcast locally on WKRN. And just think of how badly it would have done had critics across the country not drawn publicity to it the past week; unless, of course, PT9/11 critics were able to convince significant portions of the audience not to watch propaganda.
  • 9/11 Commission Vice Chair says that PT9/11 shows that "news and entertainment are getting dangerously intertwined," and that he does not think that it is good for the country.
  • From the "And-that-is-precisely-the-problem" file: "How many of us actually took the time, or would bother to take the time even now, to read the whole 9/11 Commission Report. But we're all more than willing to watch a mini-series for a few hours, especially one that's aired uninterrupted." ABC's target audience for PT9/11 must include those for whom fact-checking is too hard. But feed them partial, partisan pablum from the boob tube, and they make up their own mind without ever having to delve farther in to the matter.
  • Over at the coffee house, you'll find former Clinton/Bush terrorism czar Richard Clarke's evaluation of PT9/11 as "an egregious distortion" by a "production company and writer who were apparently unqualified to deal with this historically important subject matter." Besides being depicted in PT9/11, Clarke is a consultant for ABC News.
  • American Airlines released the following statement regarding PT9/11:
  • [Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 11] The Disney/ABC television program, The Path to 9/11, which began airing last night, is inaccurate and irresponsible in its portrayal of the airport check-in events that occurred on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

    A factual description of those events can be found in the official government edition of the 9/11 Commission Report and supporting documents.

    This misrepresentation of facts dishonors the memory of innocent American Airlines employees and all those who lost their lives as a result of the tragic events of 9/11.

09/09/2006, 5:45 p.m. Update: Here is ABC's overseas commercial for "Path to 9/11," which clearly calls the mini-series "the offical true story," and which shows the face of Bill Clinton fading into terrorist activity, with the statement: "How one decision changed our world."

I don't see how you can watch that commercial and not see that it is claiming to be more than just a drama and not see that it is politically motivated rather than focused on the fact.

09/10/2006, 8:16 p.m. Update: Here is one of the scenes from Path to 9/11 that was completely invented and improvised, with some opposing editorial comments superimposed (which is about as close to balance as you can get, given the toxic nature of ABC's fantasy).

The original (sans opposing comments) was shown in New Zealand earlier today, unedited, because they did not receive ABC's "edited" copy.

UPDATE: AMERICAblog is reporting that the fantasy scene above (again, sans opposing editorial comments) was shown in tonight's U.S. "edited" version of PT9/11. It was also shown without any clarifying statements that the scene never happened, so the video you see posted above is actually more factual with the editorial comments than the actual scene that the American audience is seeing tonight!

Now tell us that fairy tale again about all of those edits that you were going to make over the weekend, Grandpa Disney!

09/11/2006, 10:30 a.m. Update: David Bauder has a summary of edits that ABC actually made to the "Path to 9/11" to try to take the original partisan and faked edge off. There is no indication that these edits were made to the overseas versions of the "world-wide broadcast." Interesting to note that ABC disclaimers more aggressively pushed the fact that PT9/11 is a fantasy and that they distanced the production from the 9/11 Commission Report, which they did not do in the original version. It further reinforces the question: why watch a fantasy about 9/11 to commemorate 9/11? Think Progress reports that 100,000 people wrote to Disney President Robert Iger through their "Tell ABC to Tell the Truth" campaign.

09/11/2006, 11:00 p.m. Update: And now for some commentary free from prior restraint, yet necessary for equal time (WARNING: this video contains mature and coarse language not appropriate for children):

Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC Said Editing of "Path to 9/11" Was Complete Before They Said It Was Incomplete

Think Progress researcher found September 1 comment from ABC spokesperson saying that editing process was complete; yesterday ABC was scolding critics as "premature and irresponsible" and they were saying that the editing process was not yet complete.

And What of WKRN?

You can’t sit there as ABC and say, 'Gee, we don’t have any responsibility.'... They should make a good faith effort to get this as close to the facts as possible…They can’t claim it’s just entertainment. This is going to have an impact on the national political scene.

- - Bob Kerrey, 9/11 Commission Member

Josh Marshall is reporting that several ABC affiliates around the country, upon receiving protests about ABC's fiction, "The Path to 9/11," are responding that they do not have a choice but to air the mini-series.

And what of Nashville affiliate, WKRN? It would be understandable that WKRN (Channel 2) might not be able to refuse if it were owned and operated by ABC, but it is merely an affiliate and it would seem to have the choice whether to air the program. I e-mailed WKRN's General Manager last night and requested that the local station not air "The Path to 9/11" so that Channel 2 might avoid the appearance of helping to politicize 9/11 during an election cycle.

He has already said that Channel 2 intends to air this potentially divisive program and he encourages us just to change the channel if we don't want to watch. He compares a politically biased portrayal of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil to Ellen DeGeneres' sympathetic portrayal of a personal decision to come out-of-the-closet. I think that such a comparison is false. The contrast between a deadly catastrophe politicized to score ratings points (and influence an election?) and a public expression of personal identity could not be more stark. And yet, GM Mike Sechrist refuses to distinguish between the outcry now and the outcry then.

I encourage readers of Enclave to contact WKRN at phone numbers: 615.369.7266 (programming) or 615.259.2200 (main) or 615.369.7222 (main). Ask politely, but firmly that it not air "The Path to 9/11" mini-series to be shown by ABC on September 10 & 11. WKRN recently disappointed me with their slant to the right in the hiring of Steve Gill as the exclusive source of political commentary on the station. Passing along right-wing propaganda in the form of a network "docudrama" would only further erode WKRN's credibility as an impartial media source for some of us in its viewing audience; for what it's worth.

09/10/2006, 12:10 a.m. "No Savvy There, Either" Update: No Silence Here's Michael Silence linked my post and charged that I favored censorship for encouraging people to call WKRN and ask them not to air the mini-series. It is ridiculous to conflate organizing citizens to call with government crackdowns on free speech. Calling public pressure on media "censorship" basically invalidates any power citizens might claim while trying to influence the media at all. He's trivializing the seriousness of true censorship by defining it so broadly. We'll just refer to it as "playing the censorship card" from here on out. And that goes for Glenn Reynolds' own rubber stamp, too; I prefer "non-idiot" rubber stamps.

ABC Intends to Go Political with Fictionalized 9/11 Series This Weekend

ABC/Disney stands on the brink of this election season prepared to show a controversial mini-series about 9/11 on the 5th anniversary of the event that producers admit is fictionalized for dramatic effect. Many of us wonder whether "dramatic" is synonymous with "partisan" in this case, since the inaccuracies in "The Path to 9/11" suggest that Democratic leaders were responsible for 9/11.

While all sorts of questions were raised in the mainstream media about whether the country "was ready" when Oliver Stone's movie about 9/11 was released, no questions--other than those riding the waves of popular protest in the last 48 hours--have been raised in the mainstream media about whether the country is ready to watch a 9/11 account that basically deviates from the 9/11 Commission Report and that makes up history that did not happen. In fact, the New York Times review of "The Path to 9/11" essentially supported the movie's partisan bite by perpetuating the Republican talking point--unsubstantiated in the 9/11 Commission's Report--that former President Bill Clinton was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal to deal with terrorism (even though he was criticized by Republicans when he did fight terrorists for playing "Wag the Dog.")

A Scholastic Review Guide to be sent out to 25,000 teachers to help high school students discuss 9/11 after watching ABC's fiction was also exposed by Media Matters for America as being skewed by conservative bias including: suggesting a connection between 9/11 terror attacks and Iraq and indicating that the Clinton administration "hindered" the U.S. stance on the war on terror (which is not supported by the 9/11 Commission Report). In the face of withering criticism, Scholastic has scrapped plans to provide "The Path to 9/11" Guide and will come up with new material.

Please contact ABC via Think Progress and protest their decision to air the propaganda called, "The Path to 9/11." I have also put a banner in the right hand column of this blog that you can click on to send the letter. It is really very simple. The last tally Think Progress reported was 50,000 letters to ABC.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Corker Refuses Nationally Broadcast Debate with Ford

Greg Sargent over at the Cafe has the exclusive on the Tennessee U.S. Senate Race: Meet the Press Executive Producer says that Bob Corker is the only Republican candidate to have turned down MTP's invitation to debate his Democratic opponent in front of a national audience on one of their Sunday broadcasts. MTP is hosting six Senate debates this fall in preparation for the November elections. What is Corker afraid of?

Tennessee Republican Party Director Limits Christianity to "Social Conservatives"

While attempting to score some political points and lather with his evangelical base in this election season, Tennessee GOP leader Chris Devaney, told the Tennessean:
Democrats [like those who started the Faithful Democrats website] have finally figured out that they left social conservatives behind as they pushed their national liberal agenda in Tennessee and across the country.
Looks like this partisan wonk has willfully missed the point that Faithful Democrats is an effort to organize liberal Christians "to put their faith to work for the common good." Here's the memo Devaney missed, clearly stated over at the FD website:
We don't believe that good Christians have to be Democrats. Nor do we believe that one religion has a monopoly on faith. But we make no apologies for rooting our identity as Democrats in our faith as Christians. That is who we are. And we are eager to act on our beliefs to make the country we love a more just and compassionate place.
That sounds more generally faith-friendly and less like the dumb Devaney deduction that there is some covert courtship of social conservatives, whom he seems to see as the only ones who really count as "Christian."