Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Tennessean Goes to White Castle

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Tomorrow it will have been one week since the City Paper's Terry McCormick broke the news that a local drug dealer named Corey Cecil allegedly sold high-quality marijuana to several members of the Titans between 2003 and 2005. And still, there's not a word of it in The Tennessean. What are they smoking down there? The allegations that some of our Titans were toking come from the messy appeal of a former Nashville cop, Charles R. Williams, who was sentenced to federal prison for conspiring with Cecil to steal cash and drugs from local dealers by staging phony busts. Cecil wound up serving as a state's witness against Williams, who just happens to be his uncle. Now, as Williams tries to reverse his sentence, more details about his nephew's sordid past are coming to light—some of which hint at a burgeoning scandal involving our professional football team. Does this sound like something a daily newspaper should cover? A word of advice to our daily: Just because you don't cover a story, that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't happening.

State May Try to Tax iPod Songs

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Something tells me lawmakers might actually read this year's so-called Technical Corrections bill. The Revenue Department legislation, which makes usually arcane changes to tax law, typically rolls through the legislature virtually unnoticed in the frantic, final hours of each session. But this year, even before the administration has finished writing the bill, alarms are sounding. "A preliminary draft includes proposed changes with significant potential impact on businesses in Tennessee," an email from the lobbyists at Waller Lansden warns. The most controversial proposal doesn't only impact businesses. It would tax the songs on your iPod. The Republican Party is already on the case. “Most states do not tax digitally-delivered products,” state GOP flack Bill Hobbs says. “Tennessee shouldn’t either and state government’s current fiscal crisis should not be used by the Bredesen administration as an excuse to hit the people of Tennessee with a new tax that could cost them tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.” Update: As commenters are pointing out, iTunes already are taxed. The Revenue Department says its proposal is really a technical correction.

Bredesen's Gaffe Problem

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 9:38 AM

A Memphis TV station has joined the speculation that Phil Bredesen could run with Obama or Clinton in November. The governor had this to say: “I’m not pursuing the job. I’m 100 percent focused on being the governor of Tennessee. However, my mom is very flattered every time my name is mentioned as a possible running mate.” All joking aside, Bredesen seems pretty serious about landing the veep spot. He’s remained uncommitted even after Clinton swept Tennessee’s primary. And unsolicited, he’s offered himself as a party leader to settle the nomination fight, making the rounds of TV talk shows to propose a superdelegate convention in June. He holds obvious advantages for the Democrats as a Southern governor. But his greatest strength at the moment is that almost no one outside Tennessee has ever heard him give a speech. One of the worst public speakers who ever lived, he can suck the air right out of a room. In fact, given the number of stupid things he’s been saying lately, it’s probably a good idea for Bredesen to stop talking altogether if he wants to be the veep. Yesterday, he compared pending cuts in spending for the mentally ill, children and other needy people to tossing baggage overboard. Here’s a state GOP presser on the governor’s latest gaffe. Via ACK

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Penn State Update

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 4:19 PM

Who needs Chris Matthews? Our friends from Murfreesboro offer the most succinct analysis yet of last night's Pennyslvania primary: “She ain't going to drop out because some assholes out there keep voting for her.”

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Make Up Your Mind, Phil

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 3:30 PM

The governor is apparently whining again today because the Democratic presidential contest isn't settled. Memo to the governor: If you want to help, don't give interviews trashing both Hillary and Barack as unelectable. Instead, you should do what another superdelegate, John Tanner, did today: Make up your mind. In endorsing Clinton, here's what Tanner said:
Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces, with a $9 trillion debt, much of which is borrowed from foreign countries. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a leader like Sen. Clinton who can work with others to return to fiscal sanity.
See governor, it's easy. Update: The Nation agrees with me. Via Rodgers.

Abortion Politics

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Christian conservatives are trying again to recast their abortion fight in Tennessee. First, it was an attempt to change the state constitution to allow what they called commonsense restrictions on abortion rights, such as waiting periods and informed consent. But when Senate Democrats produced a bill to do just that, Republicans killed it. Now, as this YouTube video shows, abortion foes have decided it's all about stopping partial birth abortions, which of course are already banned by federal law. What it's really all about is politics. Republicans would love to stick an abortion referendum on the 2010 ballot to boost turnout for the next governor's election.

Introducing 'Gail Kerr and Associates'

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:53 PM

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This week in Desperately Seeking the News, I wrote about how Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr has consistently shilled for David Freeman and the other wealthy owners of the Nashville Predators, allowing them to collect a $7.4 million annual handout from the city without having to break a sweat. She's taken up their cause at least five times, including three separate columns hectoring the city to make haste and close the deal, a sentiment shared by the ownership group she has coddled. Why did we need to hurry up and amend the team's lease instead of taking a few months to deliberate at a time when we're struggling to pay for our parks, hospitals and roads? “Because it's not fair to the private investors who put themselves, their $10 millions and their reputations out there,” Kerr wrote in an Oct. 27 column where she took it upon herself to comfort the comfortable. Interestingly, Kerr's PR work for Freeman extends to baseball too. In a logically hopeless column last February, Kerr assailed Al Gordon, the owner of the Nashville Sounds, for, um, wanting assistance from the city. “Gordon has shown himself to be arrogant. He has rarely shown his face in Nashville while, at the same time, having this sense of entitlement that we owe him a stadium, land, tax incentive financing and, perhaps, our first-born child.” In fact, Gordon wants far less financial help from the city than David Freeman, a point a fair columnist would have mentioned. Instead though, Kerr tries to pressure Gordon to sell the team and then shamelessly notes that her new little BFF might be in the market for another play thing. "In the wings is a group of locals interested in buying the team, building that riverfront stadium, and succeeding in keeping the Sounds home. Two key players are baseball fans Reese Smith II and Predators lead owner David Freeman, but they are joined by a 'roomful' of willing local investors.” So let's see here: Kerr writes a series of columns helping Freeman make his pitch for a lucrative new deal from the city, then takes Gordon to task for asking for less than Freeman ever did, and finally suggests that Gordon sell his team to Freeman because he likes baseball? Really? Kerr has moved beyond PR and to a whole new realm. Fine work.

Oh Harold

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:28 AM

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Harold Ford continues to have trouble cloaking his jealousy of Barack Obama, whose progressive, smart candidacy is everything that Ford's run for Senate was not. Yesterday on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough asked Ford if he would have beaten Corker if he could have outspent him as much as Obama did Hillary Clinton in Pennsyltucky. At first, Ford tried to duck the question graciously, but then Scarborough needed to ask it only one more time for the former Memphis congressman to take the bait: Ford snidely replied if he had more money he could have made up those 25,000 votes, saying that as matter-of-factly as if he were reciting the alphabet. Throughout his little banter with Scarborough, Ford repeatedly proclaimed his neutrality, but if he delivered a single criticism of Clinton and her last-minute scare ads, I missed it. Instead, he delivered a series of subtle put-downs of Obama, which I suppose is only fair since everyone else on MSNBC hates the Clintons. So there's that.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 1:18 PM

According to state lawmakers, it's OK to smoke cigarettes around sick people and children. Today, committees snuffed out bills to ban smoking in the same car with children or within 75 feet of hospitals. Rep. Richard Floyd, a Republican from Chattanooga, probably thought he was making a compelling case to prohibit smoking in a car if a child is present. He said a teacher told him that children were coming to school with red, watery eyes and sneezing and coughing because of smoking parents. No one would even make a motion for passage of his bill. That's the legislature we know and love.

Pennsylvania Prognosticatin’

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Yikes, is it April 22 already? Seems like just yesterday we were dissecting Iowa caucus results. Where did the time go? And more importantly, how will it shake out tonight? Prediction time! I’m going with Clinton 54-46—a big enough margin for her to frame it as a winning night, but small enough for nobody to really believe her. The polls have Obama pretty consistently in the low-mid 40s, and Clinton’s numbers generally 47-52ish. Assuming late breakers go more (but not completely) her way, I see her margin approaching but not quite reaching double figures. The real prediction question, of course, is not just what happens tonight, but what happens tomorrow. How big a win tonight is a win? The problem for Clinton is that after Pennsylvania, there are no more Pennsylvanias, which is to say no more big delegate-rich states where she has the built-in demographic edge. The remaining contests—North Carolina and Indiana in two weeks, and then Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon, South Dakota, Puerto Rico and let’s not forget Guam—are a mixed bag: Obama figures to take NC, OR, and SD; Clinton grabs WV, KY and PR; leaving IN as a tossup. After today, it’s hard to foresee a plausible significant aggregate effect on the spread of delegates or popular votes. Unless Clinton pulls out of nowhere a whopper of a win tonight in the 15-20 point range, giving superdelegates some seriously irritated bowels, what’s her path to the nomination? It may not be over tonight, but I'm thinking it's over on May 6. Your PA call? Closest to the pin wins an all-expense-paid spa weekend with Mark Penn. UPDATE: Just how remote is a Clinton nomination scenario by delegate count? At CNN's online delegate counter I gave Clinton big fat 20-point margins of victory not just in PA, but also in IN, WV, KY and PR. I gave Obama understated 8-point wins in NC and OR, and scored SD, MT and Guam dead even. The tally under this highly Hillarosy scenario: Clinton still trails Obama by more than 80 delegates. UPDATE: The final PA margin came in at 54.7-45.3, a margin of just under nine and a half percent. I predicted 8 and commenter Tom predicted 11, so we’ll call it a tie; we can jointly visualize the prize…
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