Friday, October 31, 2008

Predictions for Joe the Plumber's Newfound Celebrity

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 3:51 PM

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Joe the Plumber's Got Something To Sell

So Joe the Plumber got himself an agent to manage his 15 minutes (which will end in roughly four days). The deluge of public appearance and media requests--not to mention a book contract in the offing--proved too much for the humble tradesman.

But what's in the future for Joe? Are his days installing pipe and clearing clogs over? Will he take his place in the gallery of conservative pundits called upon by MSNBC and Fox News?

Here's what I posit will happen:

1. No one will give two shits about Joe or anything he has to say after the election. Note: His shelf life might be extended should McCain win.

2. Any street cred he had with conservative voters will now be sullied, retroactive to the moment he signed a contract with an agent and starting stumping for McCain.

3. As his public appearances proliferate beyond canned speeches, it will become evident that he's poorly informed, inarticulate and has nothing to add to the discussion.

4. His book contract will fizzle once the election is decided and attention shifts back to the sputtering economy and our foreign quagmire.

5. Joe the Plumber will recede into relative obscurity--a novelty to his customers should he be allowed to continue his trade unlicensed.

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Is a GM Bailout Just Throwing Good Money After Bad?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 2:20 PM

The problem with bailing out Wall Street is that it sets a precedent for every poorly-managed company to come hat in hand. And when it comes to bad management, you'll find no better benchmark than GM. Reuters reports today that company is requesting an additional $10 billion from taxpayers in anticipation of its merger with Chrysler. This comes on top of the $25 billion the government has already pledged in low-interest loans. Ford, naturally, wants a similar welfare package. Governors from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Delaware and South Dakota have joined GM's lobbying campaign, as has the Business Roundtable, a group of the country's most powerful CEOs. So far, the Bush administration has refused. At the risk of cursing my soul for eternity, I'm inclined to agree with Bush. No doubt GM's collapse would be catastrophic. Though such stats are always exaggerated to make a point, the Chrysler merger alone is expected to kill upwards of 140,000 jobs when suppliers are included. And as The Tennessean writes today, GM's troubles are already delivering a beating to local dealerships. But providing more welfare to GM should at least come with the slight possibility of getting it back some day. That dog doesn't only suck at hunting; it never even leaves the porch. Thirty-five years after the first oil crisis, GM remains remains wedded to the low-mileage, high sticker price sale. When I turn on the TV, I don't see commercials for inexpensive cars that get 30-some miles-per-gallon. I see the fabulous new Cadillac Escalade hybred, which boasts of 20 miles-per-gallon in the city -- as if that's an achievement -- and a $40,000+ price tag. (See ad above.) So this is GM's plan for profitability? Convince broke people in the middle of a depression that they need a $40,000 truck that gets shitty mileage? I don't know about you, but it seems to me that no amount of money could stop morons like this from going under.

Journal Predicts GOP Will Keep State Senate

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 2:08 PM

The Tennessee Journal's Ed Cromer is predicting Republicans will hold the state Senate on Tuesday, but he doesn't sound too sure about it. If Cromer is right, the Senate will wind up 17-15-1. In today's edition of the insider's newsletter, Cromer picks Mike Williams against Mike Faulk in District 4, but "it could go either way," and he predicts the GOP will snag a Democratic seat with a victory by Ken Yager against Becky Ruppe in District 12, though "this one too could go either way." He's going with Randy Camp against Delores Gresham in District 26 but only if you put a gun to his head. "If we had to bet, we'd bet on Camp, but we wouldn't bet much." Otherwise, the Journal says it's "possible, but not likely" that Republicans will take the House. Best shots for GOP gains include Joe Carr against Tim Tipps in District 48, Terri Lynn Weaver against Cleveland Derrick Bain in District 40, and Vance Dennis against Stan Wheeler in District 71.

Scene Exclusive: John Irving Field-Dresses Sarah Palin

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 11:55 AM

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Next week's Nashville Scene cover features a remarkable interview with novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter John Irving, the subject of Nashville's first "Citywide Read." The 66-year-old author, whose works include The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules, will be here next week to accept the fifth Nashville Public Library Literary Award and to give a public reading at the Ryman Nov. 8. Asked by interviewer Michael Ray Taylor at one point if anything can be done to save literary fiction in the U.S., Irving gives a thoughtful, hilarious and wide-ranging response that touches on everything from presidential politics to the writer's role in the marketplace of ideas. Here's one juicy excerpt:
In Europe and in Canada, writers are expected to speak out politically—to be active in interviews, and everywhere in the media, in talking about more than their novels. It’s just the opposite here: writers are discouraged from expressing their opinions about politics or the society. We’re expected to talk about our books, a little, and then shut up about everything else. Why? Don’t creative minds have creative ideas? Look at this woeful election process we have been undergoing. There’s been more interesting and truthful stuff about the election on The Daily Show and on Saturday Night Live than what we’ve seen on the so-called news shows. We have become so politically correct that we must present a counter argument to every opinion expressed in the news. Why? Do we not trust people to have minds of their own? Does every issue have an equal counter argument? (Of course not!) What does it say about us as a culture that a couple of comedy shows on TV are smarter and more incisive, politically, than the back-and-forth meandering that passes for “in-depth coverage” on CNN or MSNBC? The bestseller list in the U.S. doesn’t only reflect what we read. That list is a reflection of how backward we are as a culture. We are anti-intellectual, we don’t value the arts, and we don’t sufficiently support education. President Bush made sounding stupid actually comforting to many Americans. Look at the rush of instant identification that many Americans felt for Governor Palin; she was mean, she was poorly informed, she spoke badly. I said to my wife, after watching Palin’s debate with Senator Biden, that I could only think of one question that woman might not duck—one she actually might answer, even with enthusiasm. Here’s the question. I have never field-dressed a moose, but—in my deer-hunting days—I have field-dressed deer, and I would have liked to ask the perky Alaskan if the process is more or less the same. (Only a lot bigger!) I could easily imagine Gov. Palin’s eyes brightening; an onslaught of pre-orgasmic winking might have ensued. “Ya know,” she might have begun, “ya just gotta make a big slit from the critter’s brisket to its crotch, and ya gotta reach way the heck up and grab hold of the rectum. Ya can’t let the feces fall out and get all over the meat, ya know. But there’s really nothin’ to it. It’s just a moose—it’s not a Russian, or somethin’!” I think that pretty much covers what the governor might say in answer to that question, except that she probably wouldn’t use the feces word—if ya know what I mean. In short, there’s more wrong with this country than we don’t read.
The interview appears on stands and online Wednesday. Photo by Jane Sobel Klonsky.

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"Inside the Sad, Sadistic Life of a Campaign Reporter"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 5:11 AM

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Those poor, miserable little people. Articles about the people who write articles for a living are rarely more than self-indulgent drivel. The fourth wall is there for a reason: The people behind it usually aren't that interesting. So it's with some pleasure that we pass along this fascinating (and brief) account from The New Republic of how the interminable election season is affecting the reporters covering it. Sleepless nights. Broken homes. A Lord of the Flies-type atmosphere on campaign flights. And everybody's favorite: the identity crisis! "It's kind of like, this is who I am now, so the idea of the campaign being over and not doing a politics blog is a little bit like, who am I after this election?" Listening to the same speech every day for 18 months is boring? Who knew? For more bitching, click here.

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Child Pornographer Still Dating in Prison. How Nice for Him!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 5:00 AM

This fascinating article in the Tennessean tells the story of Timothy “Casey” Richards, who was arrested for child pornography on the internet. The story tells of how Richards still manages to blog behind bars—and even responds in the comments section—via telephone conversations with friends and family on the outside. Here’s his website freecasey.com, but for some reason the blog has been shut down. The forums section is still open though, and definitely worth a look-see, if only for this note, where Casey explains a misunderstanding about his new BF in prison. I couldn’t find the original post, but here’s Casey’s response to it:
wil wrote: K, it's cleared, I can post this now. This is the HOT 18 year-old hand delivered to Casey on his 1000th day!! And yes, he really is 18 and in the adult jail. These are his 2007 senior pics. Funny thing about been in jail, is you get things pretty late. Moments ago I received the "photos" of Skaterboi. I can now understand what all the drama is about. He looks like he is 9 years old. I assure you the photos appear if they were taken 5 years ago or more. If he look that young right now I would not have been interested. He is much older looking and much cuter. You could say he grew into the baby face in those photos. If he still looks look like that i doubt they let him in general population. Casey Posted by Sport on behalf of Casey.
So this guy gets "HOT 18-year-olds" delivered to him in prison? Odd.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sounds Sold; New Owners Try to Convince Nashville They're Not Carpetbaggers

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 4:38 PM

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Welcome (one of) your new Nashville Sounds overlord(s). When you went off to college, you might have remembered the fellow coed whose parents bought them an off-campus house or apartment. These people obviously had a lot of money. They also had a pretty rock-solid rationale: Our son or daughter loves the town, real estate is (was?) a great investment, and we'd rather their rent line our pockets than some strangers. Frank Ward, the man pictured above, is one of those people. Only instead of a house, Ward, along with two of his fellow New York real estate investors, decided to buy a baseball team. Ward is one-third of MFP Real Estate, the new owners of the Nashville Sounds. According to press releases sent out by their PR group, the Sounds first came on to MFP's radar after Ward's daughter, now a junior, enrolled at Vanderbilt. Also, one of the other guys once sold hot dogs at Shea Stadium. So yeah, why not buy a baseball team? Anyway, the Vandy connection is noteworthy because it's the kind of thing you'd want to harp on if you were a bunch of out-of-town investors who just bought the Sounds. When the relationship between Al Gordon and Metro Nashville soured, many fans used it as an opportunity to play up his carpetbagger status (Gordon's Amerisports is based in Chicago). The first order of business with any disgruntled fan base is to always reinforce that you're not like the other guy. In that respect, MFP is off to a good start.

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PETA and Harpeth High Science Teacher Argue Merits of Donkey Basketball, Miss Point Entirely

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM

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Look how much fun they're BOTH having! So here's the situation: Harpeth High in Kingston Springs is holding a game of donkey basketball on November 17th. For those unawares, donkey basketball is exactly what it sounds like: basketball with the added "thrill" of riding on a burro. Upon hearing of Harpeth's plans, PETA, the long-tendriled protector of animals worldwide, decided to intervene (here's where you look shocked), urging their many contributors to send the school's principal a sternly worded e-mail that they, helpfully, had already written. The campaign was a success in that it clogged the principal's inbox with nearly 700 e-mails. It wasn't a success, however, if you consider that Harpeth is still planning to raise money for its wrestling team by having students ride around on pissed off farmhands. OK, so we'll acknowledge that PETA picks fights like this every day. And we'll acknowledge that the group is perceived, in some circles, as extremist nutbags. We'll further acknowledge that this is precisely the kind of intractable debate that will NEVER BE SETTLED. So let's look at this issue from a different angle, shall we?

Continue reading »

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Smashing the Great Pumpkin Phil Fulmer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 12:47 PM

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Not a single citizen of Vol Nation should still think we ought to keep Phil Fulmer. For all the reasons laid out in this story, the decision already should have been made.
Saturday's 29-9 loss to No. 2 Alabama in Neyland Stadium marked the third time this season the Vols have lost by double-digits to a major SEC foe. UT lost to Florida 30-6 at home on Sept. 20 and at Georgia 26-14 on Oct. 11. Tennessee, 1-4 in the SEC, earned its conference win two weekends ago over Mississippi State, 34-3. Overall, Tennessee is 1-5 in its last six games against Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Perhaps most damaging is the margin of defeat in those games. Counting UT's win during that stretch, a 35-14 victory over Georgia last year, the average score in those games has been 33-17 in favor of UT's opponents, and those five losses have come by a combined margin on 185-66. Since 2000, the Vols are 11-16 against Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
That's all you need to know. Fulmer must go. Surely, no one still thinks he can compete against Saban and Meyer and Richt. So what's all this hand-wringing about? The state's sportswriters, having stuffed their faces with free stadium food for decades, have been running interference for their sugar daddy. First, they claimed the buyout was too big. But what's $6 million spread over four years? That's no obstacle for an athletic department with an annual budget of more than $85 million. Keeping Fulmer would cost more in lost football ticket sales. Now, the sportswriters/cheerleaders are saying Fulmer might still save his job by winning the rest of Tennessee's games. But victories over South Carolina, Wyoming, Kentucky and Vanderbilt shouldn't help him. The School for the Blind can beat those guys. To claim a successful season, Tennessee has to beat Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Fulmer has proven he can't do that anymore. End of story.

The Passion of Joe the Plumber and Face Carving: What It All Means

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 12:25 PM

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Is Ashley Todd the final, bewildered chapter of the conservative narrative? The conservative narrative has long propped itself up on the middle class. Under the guise of shrinking government, tax cuts and deregulation, the story line goes that the Republicans seek to give America back to the people--even though that's exactly what didn't happen under W. Yet somehow, Middle America has bought this shaky thesis hook, line and sinker. At least that's what the Republicans are banking on by invoking the likes of Joe the Plumber and trotting Palin out before the electorate--a little red to dilute the blue blood in McCain's veins. Then things took a strange turn: Young Republican volunteer Ashley Todd beat herself up and carved that infamous backwards "B" onto her cheek. A large and virulently pro-Obama black man, she said, was responsible for this outrage. And before her, Joe the Plumber's license was checked on by the wicked MSM after he became the rallying cry in stump speeches. In an election chock-full of proxies for unarticulated conservative outrage, I wasn't quite sure where Todd fit in. A columnist for the Wall Street Journal meditates on this: The Republican story is one of beef. And who's got a beef with whom? Well, it's the MSM and the thousand slights and indignities it hurls at Middle America from haughty, snarky heights. Palin herself has claimed crucifixion at the hands of the media elite because she's not a Washington insider. So the WSJ columnist wonders whether the backwards "B" and the self-inflicted black eye are the final, bewildered chapter of the conservative narrative.

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