Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nashville's Tourism Guy Legally Tone-Deaf

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Butch Spyridon is president of the Nashville Convention & Visitor's Bureau. Meetings and conventions are his business. And right now, his business, like most others, sucks.

In last Friday's Tennessean, Spyridon penned an editorial addressing the sorry state of the industry (speaking for the "opposition" was an executive with Gaylord -- so much for dissenting voices). Spyridon's take: Blame the media.

Right now, events across the country are being canceled because of media sensationalism and harmful rhetoric coming out of Washington regarding companies devoting resources to business meetings and travel. This toxic environment could exacerbate the economic situation across America and in our city.

Just so we're clear. When Spyridon says "media sensationalism" he's referring to coverage of holy-shit-where's-my-gun moments like last October's $400,000 AIG spa retreat days after the first of what would become many billion-dollar government bailouts. Righteous indignity never had a more proper home.

Remember this in the coming months. Spyridon is but one of a couple of very public figures (Mayor Dean included), who are putting the pedal to the floor when it comes to pitching the Music City Center, the proposed billion-dollar downtown convention center. Not to get all sensationalist on you, but right now we could use all the "harmful rhetoric" we can get.  

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Bob Corker: General Motor Mouth

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Watch Rachel Maddow lash Sen. Bob Corker as a two-faced "General Motor Mouth." She points out that he wanted the government to intervene to cut blue-collar worker wages, but he's outraged by any meddling with the executive class.

In Defense of Gun Nuts: Don DeLillo vs. Jeff Woods

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:33 PM

When society melts down, who would you rather have on your side?
  • When society melts down, who would you rather have on your side?
Attention gun nuts Second Amendment defenders: If you've had it with that effete liberal pansy Jeff Woods trying to take your guns away time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again, I'm here to stand up for you! Admittedly, I've always leaned toward the sane left side on this issue, but I thought it was time to reexamine my views. In these dark nights of the soul, some people go to the Bible, some go to psychics, some go to Dave Ramsey. And me? I subscribe to the theory that there's more truth in fiction than in nonfiction, so I go to the Great American Novel. And just last night, as I sat reading Don DeLillo's White Noise (I'm only 25 years behind on my reading list), it struck me--the answer I'd been looking for! In DeLillo's novel, there's been a disastrous chemical spill--the Airborne Toxic Event. The protagonist and his family are being evacuated from one location to another:
We put on our masks and ran through the downpour to our car. Not ten yards away a group of men proceeded calmly to a Land-Rover. They resembled instructors in jungle warfare, men with lean frames and long boxy heads. They drove straight into dense underbrush, not only away from the dirt road but away from all the other cars attempting shortcuts. Their bumper sticker read GUN CONTROL IS MIND CONTROL. In situations like this, you want to stick close to right-wing fringe groups. they've practiced staying alive....
Don't we now find ourselves in a situation that is the economic equivalent of the Airborne Toxic Event? So here's my question for you, Pith readers (and Comrade Woods): If the very fabric of our society crumbles and you have to run for the hills, who would you rather join forces with? A bunch of Mainstream Media types, a gaggle of Vandy linguistics professors or a right-wing fringe group?

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Dead on Arrival: Legislators Refuse to Ban Mountaintop Removal Mining Again

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:12 PM

What's left of Tennessee's Zeb Mountain.
  • What's left of Tennessee's Zeb Mountain.
Environmentalists accepted the inevitable today and conceded defeat in their fight for a law banning coal companies from blowing up Tennessee's mountains. In defiance of commonsense, the inaptly named House environment subcommittee was about to kill the bill when its sponsor, Rep. Bill Dunn, decided to withdraw it instead. It's the second straight year the bill has failed. "Moses wandered around for 40 years," Dunn said afterward, trying to sound optimistic. "Two years is not much in biblical terms." The subcommittee, which is stacked with some of the House's worst anti-environmentalists, was given a 30-minute presentation on the horrors of mountaintop removal mining. Rep. Frank Niceley leaned back in his chair with his eyes shut, apparently taking a little catnap. Rep. Joe McCord went outside to smoke. "Two thousand years from now from a satellite, you'll be able to tell whether this bill has passed," Dawn Coppock of the LEAF environmental group told the subcommittee. "The people you represent are praying that you will stand up for our mountains." Luckily, the Obama White House is thinking about banning this environmentally devastating mining method, and Sen. Lamar Alexander is sponsoring a bill to do the same. Update: LEAF's Dawn Coppock says in a statement, "LEAF continues to have faith in God that our state leaders will protect our mountains by choosing a direction other than our neighboring states, which have been devastated by mountaintop removal mining."

Tin Foil Hat News: Rep. Susan Lynn Protects Tennessee's Sovereignty

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Susan Lynn: Sucking up to the wingnut and stalker demographic
  • Susan Lynn: Sucking up to the wingnut and stalker demographic
The latest if not greatest kook movement to hit the legislature: Rep. Susan Lynn's bid to protect the sovereignty of Tennessee.

If you're having a hard time following this, you're in good company. Lynn's resolution basically calls for reaffirming the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which grants any powers not gobbled up by the feds to the states or The People. It would all seem innocent enough -- if highly unnecessary. But Lynn seems to think by doing this, it will stop the feds from delivering mandates unto the states.

Forget, for a minute, that almost all these things have already been decided by the courts. The Tin Hat Crowd has submitted such resolutions in 20 states. They're not really asking for specifics. They just want the feds to stop telling 'em what to do. Think of it as the legislative version of "You're Not the Boss of Me," only with cool words like "sovereignty" attached.

Fortunately, this bill is going nowhere. But it will get Lynn some congratulatory email from assorted wingnuts and the 20 guys currently stalking Scarlett Johansson.

Morning Roundup: Stormy Meetings Over AT&T Deregulation and Other Clusterfluffs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:29 AM

Action Andy Sher infiltrates the stormy meeting in which lawmakers, AT&T executives, cable industry executives, Tennessee Regulatory Authority directors, the state Consumer Advocate Division and lobbyists all seek to hash out a compromise for AT&T's deregulation bill. "For a communications bill, there's not a lot of communication," Jimmy Naifeh says. ... The governor is unveiling the Tennessee clean energy plan today. ... Taxpayers to make up state pension losses. ... Bredesen to Ramsey: Stop whining. ... Senate passes "wine in trunks" bill. ... Rep. Stacey Campfield is ready to go with his guns-on-campuses bill. ... Another sign from an angry God: East Tennessee rocked by second earthquake in four days. ... Rep. David Hawk caught in controversy for trying to oust elections administrator. ... The Knoxville News Sentinel comes out against mountaintop removal mining:
We want to see - and we want visitors to our beautiful state to see - our mountains, not a moonscape.

More Layoffs at City Paper

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:17 AM

The attrition at City Paper continues. Reached yesterday, SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell confirmed that a handful of employees were let go last week. This coming a month and a half after editor Clint Brewer was fired. Ferrell declined to offer details, including a "no comment" on reports from workers that all employees were forced to take 5 percent pay cuts.

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Beset by Monkey Butt and Other Internet Critics, Forrester Reaches Out to the Blogs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:53 AM

Blogs are making this man's life miserable.
  • Blogs are making this man's life miserable.
Under nonstop attack from anonymous Internet assassins, Democratic Party chair Chip Forrester has decided he could use a little PR help. To that end, he's arranging bimonthly conference calls with political bloggers around the state, including the powerfully influential Pith in the Wind. He hopes we'll report his side of things to counter the arguments of Heatseeker, his evil twin Harrison, Dr. Jellyfinger, Morpheus, KnoxRebel, TennDemocrat and all the rest of his prolific Internet critics.

"I don't spend all day with my door closed reading the blogs," Forrester tells Pith before more or less conceding that these blog commenters are a real pain in the ass.

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Bar Gun Bill in Jeopardy After House Fight

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:18 AM

Only in Tennessee could lawmakers see legalizing guns in saloons as a violation of Second Amendment rights. A gang of renegade Republicans shot down the guns-in-bars bill last night in the House. They objected to an 11 p.m. curfew for gunmen to give up their weapons. The angry sponsor yanked the bill from the floor. Afterward, Rep. Curry Todd said he wasn't sure whether he'd try to pass it again. "I'm disappointed in my Republican colleagues," he said. "I think they left me out there to hang." Todd thinks handgun carriers should have to give up their weapons at 11 p.m. or leave establishments that serve alcohol. That should cut down on any unnecessary recklessness with guns, he reasons. "The NRA was OK with this," he assured the House as if that's all anyone needed to hear. The House voted 62-29 to add the curfew to the bill. But many Republicans were upset and Rep. Brian Kelsey then offered an amendment to strip the provision. After Todd could muster only 32 votes to table that amendment, he withdrew the bill. Which tells you how much the House has changed because of last year's election. Under Democratic rule, this bill never even made it to the floor. It always was killed in subcommittee, thanks to then-House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. The idea of legalizing guns in saloons was laughable. Now, it's not good enough to allow guns in bars until 11 o'clock. Odds are the Republicans will come together on a bill either with the curfew or without one and pass it. See Andy Sher and Rick Locker.
"You can't leave it wide open out there in my opinion and be responsible, to let them just carry it anywhere they want to carry it," said Todd, a former policeman. "I can't let them carry it into a bar. And I know what a bar is: pickled eggs, pickled sausage, pool table, shuffleboard and bar stools up there."

Deja Vu: Corker Emits Crazy Talk Over Auto Industry

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:16 AM

I am Corker hear me roar
  • I am Corker hear me roar
U.S. Senator Bob Corker is generally considered a higher life form than the rest of his political brethren in Tennessee, and for good reason. But whenever the auto industry is raised, he suddenly begins talking from orifices not commonly associated with speech.

Corker was at it again yesterday when President Obama rejected the bailout plans of Chrysler and GM and forced GM chairman Rick Wagoner to resign. As a service to you, dear reader, we at Pith will attempt to translate:

"Firing Rick Wagoner is a sideshow to distract us from the fact that the administration has no progress to announce today. The administration is hoping the media and the public will stay focused on Wagoner and fail to notice that negotiations have not progressed since December."
Translation: Yeah, I know, Wagoner ran his company into the ground. And if you hear him talk, he has all the charisma of a garden salad. Not exactly the guy to right a ship. But Obama's been in office two months! Two damn months! And he hasn't fixed the auto industry yet? What's this guy doing, smoking Newports and watching the NCAA tournament? 

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