Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Come On, People! Where is the Wild Speculation?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Okay, so let's briefly recap. The May Town Center folks promised Tennessee State University a large swath of land along the river, regardless of whether MTC happened. At the Planning Commission meeting, quite a few people who self-identified as being associated with TSU, either because they were alumni of the institution or lived in the neighborhood surrounding the school stood up and spoke in favor of MTC.

Now, today, we learn that Lonnell Matthews has decided to defer the May Town Center proposal indefinitely, until he can be sure that the TSU land transfer has happened.  Well, I've read Nate Rau and I've read (and listened to) Christine Buttorff and hurried off to see what Michael Cass would have to say about it.  And none of them answer the questions I want to know.

Did the anti-MTC testimony at the Planning Commission meeting have an effect on the TSU folks?  In other words, was something said that gave the TSU folks cause to believe that they needed to make sure this land-transfer happened?  Can we read this delay as an indication that the TSU folks who supported MTC publicly have some doubts privately?  And, if so, what are the nature of these doubts?  Are there TSU folks who are concerned that the MTC folks would go back on their word?  And most importantly, if TSU gets the land, and if MTC comes back before the City Council after being deferred, will there still be the same level of support for the project among these self-identified TSU people?

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Bob Corker and the Curse of the 2012 Presidential Contenders

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge Bob Corker: How much longer can he stay out of trouble?
  • Bob Corker: How much longer can he stay out of trouble?
Bob Corker has edged up a spot in the latest Republican presidential rankings by Boston's altweekly, the Phoenix. Corker is currently ranked No. 15 just ahead of Sarah Palin and behind Tim Pawlenty, Jim DeMint, Mike Pence, John Thune, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Rick Perry, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Newt Gingrich, Jon Kyl, Eric Cantor, and Lindsey Graham. Whew! What a crackerjack crew of contenders! Says the Phoenix:
15) Bob Corker, US Senator from Tennessee. He's been stepping up his game a little, but to be a serious contender he needs a few more boring conservative white guys on this list to self-destruct. (16)

OK, so we're now officially worried about Corker. As the New York Times pointed out the other day, it's become something of a curse to be named among the GOP's possible 2012 contenders. Mark Sanford is only the latest of these to stumble:

That series of problems has become so chronic that even the party's most pragmatic members could be forgiven for wondering whether being named "possible 2012 contender" is like winning the movie role of Superman, long believed by some to carry a curse for those actors who don his blue tights.

What scandal will befall Corker? And we were just beginning to like him.

Ode to Infinity: The Longest Story Ever Told In Nine Words

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:52 PM

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You know how Ernest Hemingway supposedly wrote the shortest story ever in six words? ("For sale: baby shoes, never used.") Well, I guess this intriguing ode to infinity Opium Magazine has issued might be in the same kind of vein. They're running a nine-word story (conceived by conceptual artist Jonathon Keats) on their cover this month. Only it will take a thousand years to read. The words are printed on the cover in black ink, with a black background, and thanks to some kind of fancy overlay ink screening process, the full monty will be revealed one word at a time over the next millenium as each word is exposed to sunlight. It's a neat idea and all, but only offers the kind of delayed gratification nary a one of us will see the payoff for. (A story that takes 1,000 years to read? Even Infinite Jest fans would balk.) Leave your guesses for the nine-word story in the comments. [Via Gawker.]

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Blue Dogs Rake in the Dollars from the Health Care Industry

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:44 PM

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Here's an interesting bit of research from the government watchdog OpenSecrets.org suggesting why our beloved Blue Dog Democrats might oppose true health-care reform:
There's a particular breed of lawmaker on Capitol Hill that is pushing hard against a public health care plan, much to the delight of two seriously moneyed special interest groups--insurers and pharmaceuticals. They're the Blue Dogs: moderate, vocal and funded in part by the industries trying to protect their bottom line. The typical member* of the Blue Dog caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives has received $10,300 more from insurers than the typical non-Blue Dog Democrat in the House (including health and accident insurers, HMOs and other health services) and only $3,625 less than the typical House Republican. Earlier this month, the Blue Dogs sent a letter to House leadership arguing that a public option should be created "only if insurance market reforms and increased competition don't lower costs on their own," according to the Politico.
OpenSecrets made a chart showing the members of the Blue Dog Coalition and the totals they've received from the employees and PACs of various health-related industries and the health sector overall since 1989, and guess what? Right near the top of the list are Jim Cooper, John Tanner and Bart Gordon.

Pith's Crack Legal Team Predicts Guns-In-Bars Lawsuit Doomed to Failure

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 3:12 PM

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Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn says he's filing suit tomorrow in Davidson County Chancery Court to strike down the new guns-in-bars law. His lawyers are the brainy constitutional authorities (a.k.a. ambulance chasers) David Randolph Smith and Adam Dread. From their press release:
The plaintiffs will allege that the bill is illegal on eight counts. Among them being, that the law is an unlawful public nuisance that threatens the life, health and safety of the public, as well as violating due process and increasing civil liability for the restaurants as well as violating Tennessee's Occupational Safety and Health Act which expressively requires as a matter of federal and state law that employers provide a safe work place for employees. While a permit holder cannot drink alcohol while carrying a loaded weapon in a bar or restaurant, the new law doesn't stop that person from having previously consumed alcohol.

So we checked with Pith's stable of crack legal analysts and, alas, they don't hold out much hope for this complaint. It seems that under state law, the legislature has pretty wide discretion to decide where Tennessee's certified licensed highly trained gunmen can and cannot go. As for restaurant liability for customers and employees, all they have to do is throw up a sign banning guns, and that will take care of that.

Layoffs Coming to Gannett, Tennessean?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 12:04 PM

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Tanking in the newspaper biz isn't news. In fact, it's become a pastime in my former stomping grounds, South Florida.

But Gannett, creator of the McNewspaper, may look to do some trimming soon. According to Gannett Blog, authored by a former USA Today editor and reporter, sources say 4,500 layoffs are coming down the pike at Gannett newspapers July 8. This time the lowly beat reporter won't be the only pink-slip recipient. Middle management is on the chopping block, too. To wit:

On June 4, a source known to me (I have their name and company affiliation) sent me an e-mail. As best I can recall, the source has been 100% accurate in the past on multiple tips. The source told me that another round of layoffs "will happen on July 8." That is the day people will be notified, they said. Middle-management will be included this time, they said. And no more new furloughs are are being scheduled for the third quarter.

Are layoffs coming to The Tennessean?

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Fred Thompson: Not Just a Lawyer, Senator, and Actor, but Now a Metaphor for Deflated Expectations

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 9:55 AM

click to enlarge I could be the Fred Thompson of Fred Thompsons.
  • I could be the Fred Thompson of Fred Thompsons.
In this morning's NPR coverage of the Supreme Court's big Ricci decision yesterday, Nina Totenberg includes a sound bite (2:45 in) from University of Washington law professor Eric Schnapper:
"This case could be the Fred Thompson of the court's term: much anticipated but quickly forgotten."
The metaphorical possibilities here are vast. Sarah Palin was the Fred Thompson of VP candidacies. The Titans 2008 playoff run was the Fred Thompson of NFL postseasons. My third wife was the Fred Thompson of romantic relationships. This post is the Fred Thompson of Pith entries...

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What Were They Thinking? Guns Laws Backfiring on Legislators

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 7:53 AM

click to enlarge Our legislature may have succeeded in stamping out Little League baseball in Murfreesboro.
  • Our legislature may have succeeded in stamping out Little League baseball in Murfreesboro.
It looks like the legislature's Republican majority has created a fine little mess for itself by enacting all those gun laws this session. As Pith's own Betsy Phillips learned on a trip to the wild hinterlands of West Tennessee, even many hillbillies think the laws are stupid. Lawmakers made the mistake of supposing the loudmouths in the gun lobby speak for the majority of voters. "They did a very good lobbying job," the governor said in Memphis yesterday. "They put a lot of political pressure on an awful lot of people I think." All across Tennessee, bar and restaurant owners are slapping up signs to ban guns. (Somebody should tell the barkeeps that it's not a guns-in-bars law. Heh!) Starting this summer, visitors to Beale Street will have to go through some kind of screening process to make sure they're unarmed. The Tennessee Hospitality Association says more than 80 percent of its members are banning guns. "We still haven't been able to figure out the problem that existed that caused the need for this legislation," the association's Walt Baker says. But Pith always thought the guns-in-parks law was the one that would really backfire on Republicans. It's one thing to endanger the lives of drunks and bar flies. It's another when families don't feel safe anymore at their city park because a few assclowns insist on striding around with guns on their hips. Local governments are rushing to "opt out" of that law, and everyone's wondering what exactly lawmakers were thinking when they passed it. In Murfreesboro, the TSSAA is threatening to hold Spring Fling somewhere else unless the council bans guns in parks. The weeklong high school spring sports state tournaments bring more than $3 million in tourist dollars into the city. Also in Murfreesboro, they're worried about whether guns in parks might violate Little League baseball's safety policy. Says one former ump:
If Optimist has to cut its Little League affiliation because of this stupid law, every Murfreesboro council member and legislator in Tennessee should be required to line up and get whacked in the head by a 12-year-old with a Little League approved bat. Those are the only weapons that should be allowed in a ball park.

Morning Roundup: The Governor's Next Big Adventure and More

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 7:25 AM

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Gov Phil Bredesen will lead a trade mission to Japan and China in October. ... "I think I can, I think I can." The governor reads a book. ... and signs the charter schools bill. ... Haslam raises $200K and Wamp grabs $80K last night at events ahead of today's deadline for financial disclosures. ... Ten states still are trying to finish their budgets. ... A new group aims to recruit Hispanics to the Tennessee Republican Party. ... Bo Watson says he won't run for Wamp's seat. ... Is it possible to burn out on tea parties? Not for organizer Stacie Burke:
"Some people think that if we have these too often, we'll get tea party burnout. But the thing is, as fast as we can organize these things, it's not fast enough to keep up with what's coming out of Washington."

Give to Cammack: He Up-Fitted His House!

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 7:17 AM

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With all the fund-raising appeals flying around on the last day to raise money before the next campaign finance disclosure, a candidate has to come up with something catchy to gain notice. Well, how about Ward Cammack's pitch? He's got the smallest carbon footprint!
I'm walking the talk. My wife, Shelley, and I sold out house and downsized. We up-fitted our new home with geo-thermal heating and cooling, energy efficient windows, organic insulation, and biodegradable wood products that lowered the Cammack Family Footprint.

Here's all of Cammack's letter:

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