Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sheriff Hall Speaks to White-Hooded Crowd, Earns Notice from 'Hatewatch'

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 8:09 AM

For all you liberal dreamers out there who saw the defeat of English Only as the dawn of racial harmony here in our beloved city, behold today's Tennessean front page, where it's revealed Sheriff Daron Hall gave a speech to a the modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan. For his appearance before the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Hall also earned a prominent post on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog. From the blog:

Descended from the pro-segregationist White Citizens' Councils (also known as the uptown Klan), the CCC has described blacks as a "retrograde species of humanity" and "genetically inferior," compared pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape, and condemned"race-mixing." Hall's appearance at the Middle Tennessee CCC meeting was reported in the latest issue of the Citizens Informer, the CCC's in-house publication. "The meeting drew the largest attendance in 12 years, with many youth in attendance," the newsletter noted.

Called on it by the Tennessean, the sheriff struggles hard to appear clueless. "To be honest, I had no idea," he says. "The person doing the scheduling for me had no reason to believe that this was such a group. I regret that we didn't know. I surely don't want that reputation."

But Hall, one of Nashville's most popular politicians who'd probably like to run for mayor or Congress someday, has been flirting with an unsavory crowd for some time with his 287(g) program. He claims he's merely enforcing immigration law ("just doing my job here") and not harassing poor brown people to score cheap political points by cynically exploiting fear, intolerance and worse in the city. Here's a cliche that fits: When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

See Aunt B

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sorry Nashville, Albert Haynesworth is Right to Scoff at a 'Hometown Discount'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Haynesworth alongside one small reason he's holding out for a better deal.

This morning, Nashvillests Christy and Morgan referred to Titans All-Everything defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth as a "brat" for not accepting the team's initial contract offer. As a restricted free agent, the Titans have exclusive negotiating rights with Haynesworth until February 27th. Thus far they've made one offer that wasn't close to what Haynesworth says he's looking for; something in the range of the $32 million given last year to Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.

Not knowing Mr. Haynesworth, I'm entirely unqualified to speak for the man. But I will say this: Not only is he within his right to say "no-thanks" to the Titans, he'd be a fool not to hold out for something better.

Football is played by mercenaries. Unlike baseball or basketball, NFL players rarely have the money in their contracts guaranteed. That's why, whenever you hear of a new free agent signing, you should almost always discount the numbers being thrown around on SportsCenter; six years for $65 million makes an agent look good, but it doesn't mean a thing if the player blows out his knee and gets cut.

Because of this, and the violent nature of their sport, football players, even more so than other athletes, are under more pressure to get that one Even My Great-Great-Grandkids Will Be Living in a Gated Community contract. Haynesworth, coming off a fourth-place vote for Defensive Player of the Year, has said as much.

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How Can I Become an Illegal Alien?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM

As a diversion from Friday afternoon drudgery, we offer this amusing letter from an Iowa man, who's writing to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin about how to become an illegal alien retroactively. He makes a compelling point about the fiscal advantages...

Dear Senator Harkin,

As a native Iowan and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005...

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Obama Swiftly Becoming the Chamber of Commerce's Public Enemy No. 1

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 2:00 PM

This won't come as good news to Chamber of Commerce types, but President Barack Obama is quickly providing payback for the support of organized labor.

Today he issued an executive order that precludes federal contractors from being reimbursed for hiring union-busting consulting firms. That's right: Under an executive order from President Bush, you actually picked up the tab to have your neighbor's union drive crushed.

For years Bush encouraged the rather insidious practice of crushing union drives through spying and coercion. When we last talked to Doug Collier, president of Service Employees Local 205 in Nashville, he lamented how these consultants followed workers home, threatened them with job loss if they organized, and fired leaders of the drives. Think of them as a company's personal KGB, only without the Russian accents.

But for the first time since Kennedy, a labor state Democrat sits in the Oval Office. At least on the workplace front, change is indeed coming.

Cormac McCarthy's Knox County Boyhood Home Consumed By Fire

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 12:49 PM

The shambling two-story house that sheltered one of our greatest living writers in his boyhood was fully engulfed in flames Tuesday night. Flames that, he might say, "sawed in the wind" while "the embers paled and deepened and paled and deepened like the bloodbeat of some living thing eviscerate upon the ground before them..." Sorry couldn't resist a little of "the Evening Redness in the West."

The cause hasn't been determined just yet, but the house wasn't connected to any power, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, nor were there any real tenants other than a few squatters (somebody pass out drunk with a cigarette, mayhaps?)

Anyway, this would be the second great writer's home in Knoxville that has been neglected and left to ruin, the first being James Agee, the less-than-prolific-but-enviable author of "A Death in the Family" and "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," two works that show such love for their subjects--a bereaved family and the downtrodden sharecroppers of Alabama, rendered in such painful detail as to be more ethnography than nonfiction novel. His house, on the other hand, was torn down. It truly is a shame--the very real literary legacy of Knox County is treated as nothing of the sort.

Some of McCarthy's earliest work centered around Tennessee and its hills and rivers ("Child of God," "Outer Dark,"The Orchard Keeper," and the book that took years to finish, "Suttree."

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The Chip Forrester Factor: How Much Did It Play Into Lincoln Davis' Decision?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM

By making his big announcement only five days after the Democratic Party elected Chip Forrester chairman, Lincoln Davis was sending a message, according to one insider: "It feels like a 'fuck you, Chip Forrester' to me." Davis already was leaning heavily against running for governor in 2010, afraid he'd lose and become an unemployed ex-congressman like Bob Clement. But the party's executive committee shoved Davis over the edge by electing Forrester against the wishes of four Democratic congressmen, the governor and a gaggle of former chairmen, this source says.

"At Saturday's meeting, the talk was going around that if Chip won, Lincoln was out. Suddenly, boom, the announcement comes this week. The timing of it really got my attention. It feels like a 'fuck you Chip Forrester' to me. It has that feel. Lincoln was probably not going to run anyway, but Chip's election sealed the deal."

See Sean Braisted

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Scene Called Racist for Steve Ganaway Cover Story, Illustration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 11:00 AM

I got back from lunch yesterday (no I didn't join Bill Hobbs at Corky's) to find a bunch of angry voice mail messages from African American readers who don't like our portrayal of local businessman/numbers king Steve Ganaway.

"That article was very, very racist, very, very inappropriate and very, very ignorant...You should be ashamed of yourself," says one loyal reader. Another reader I spoke with says that the cover art (pictured right) is offensive because it portrays Ganaway as a gangster, even though that's exactly what cops say he is.

This reader also says that the story was the talk of 92Q FM, and was even read aloud during an afternoon broadcast yesterday. She says that the story was especially offensive because the Scene so rarely covers Nashville's black community and the one time we do run a story about that community the coverage is negative.

While I disagree with all of these sentiments, that last statement particularly bothers me. At the risk of doing the journalistic equivalent of saying "But I've got black friends," I'd like to point out that in the past two years I've written three cover stories on black Nashvillians, to say nothing this story from '06 about a legendary former Black Panther who lost his job amidst accusations of racism at a local non-profit.

Sure, the Scene could do more to cover every community in Nashville, but I think our track record isn't nearly as bad as the folks who've called me believe.

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New Episode in Sex Soap Opera: Odom Calls for Kelsey to Resign

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 8:16 AM

Rep. Brian Kelsey says the legislature is an "ethical cesspool." That's a news flash. And now, he's finding out what happens to a grandstanding backbencher who embarrasses his colleagues. Turning up the volume in the legislature's sexual harassment soap opera, House Democratic leader Gary Odom is calling for Kelsey to resign. Turns out, as we learned yesterday, Kelsey's motives in filing an ethics complaint against House Speaker Kent Williams may not have been completely pure. Imagine that.

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State Budget News: 'Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 7:48 AM

Happy days are here again! Gov. Phil Bredesen is tossing out all the usual cautions about the need for belt-tightening, etc. But even the android governor can scarcely contain his glee over the $819 billion federal stimulus package that's making its way through Congress. It's "a very rich package" that will "substantially mitigate" budget cuts in Tennessee, the governor says. That's geekspeak for, let the good times roll! Specificially, it would reduce cuts from nearly 15 percent to roughly 9 percent -- or about $400 million. Here's a breakdown:
The House bill contains some $613 million for Tennessee highway construction, another $244.6 million in K-12 construction, $265.8 billion for special education and $701 million for Medicaid, according to an estimates by national legislative and governors' organizations. One category known as "fiscal stabilization," would provide $1.24 billion to Tennessee. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Web site, it would let the governor use 39 percent for public safety and other government services including assistance for elementary and secondary education and higher education institutions.
Trying to kill our buzz, as always, Bredesen cautioned that even if the need for state cuts is substantially reduced, we still should look to the future when federal funding will end. "We certainly don't need to be going along fat and happy and let the federal government borrow some money and carry us, then we hit a brick wall two years from now," he said.

Lee Beaman Tells How he Became English Only's Largest Local Contributor

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 6:22 AM

Local auto scion Lee Beaman gained a bit of notoriety this week after campaign disclosure filings showed he was the only largest local contributor to Eric Crafton's failed English Only amendment. As S-Town Mike at Enclave points out, Beaman's $6,000 contribution to the controversial bill fell squarely in line with his past efforts.

In 2004, Beaman gave $3,500 to the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry. Last year, he contributed the same amount to support Prop 8. Between 1995 and 2000, Beaman Motorsports gave more money to politicians than Goodyear Tires, with nearly all of it going to Republican causes.

Figuring out where Beaman stands on the issues of the day, therefore, is pretty self-explanatory. What isn't is why he decided to back one of the most divisive propositions in Nashville's history. So we decided to ask him.

Yesterday, Pith called up Beaman in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Fresh off the slopes and driving in what he described as a white-out, Beaman explained why he backed Crafton.

Naturally, his answer included Jesus Christ and a very persuasive Brazilian woman...

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