Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Mitt Romney an Oasis of Empirical Sanity in the GOP?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Mitt Romney has now been moved to life support — pulse has been detected — having notched one of the ugliest wins in American primary politics. In Michigan, the state where he grew up and where his father served as governor, he only narrowly defeated an insignificant one-term U.S. senator whose extraordinarily right-wing and often curious positions raised questions from party insiders about the very nature of the Republican Party.

A win, though, is a win, even against a pitifully weak opponent, and with what appears to be a faint breeze now blowing in Romney's sails, he might finally find what looks like momentum. He needs it.

Everywhere one looks, storm clouds gather. Looming large is the increasing perception that the Grand Old Party, which half a century ago was personified by the steady and reliable management of Dwight D. Eisenhower in cahoots with East Coast financial markets and the Boy Scouts in Norman Rockwell paintings, is now a breeding ground for lunatics, crackpots, conspiracy theorists, and my crazy great uncle Ralph, currently down in the basement, over by the shovels, plotting his own candidacy.

Three of the four remaining candidates — Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — espouse a variety of hotly disputed, if not outright extreme, positions. These include a return to the gold standard, not going to college because of its elitism and liberalism, stronger relations between the White House and the pope, un-separating the separation between church and state, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, bombing Iran, eliminating health insurance, and more. It grows crazier, Alice in Wonderland-like, unrecognizable.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Republicans Vote to Keep Blowing Up Tennessee's Mountains

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM

They prayed for 40 days. They made a TV ad. They enlisted the help of various large corporations with green reputations. And when they arrived today at the legislature, the dewy eyed environmentalists came with high hopes they might finally succeed in banning coal companies from blowing the tops off our mountains.

Republicans on the misnamed Senate Environment Committee had another idea. They raped the environmentalists' bill faster than a wildcat coal miner can pollute a pretty stream.

The committee replaced the bill with an amendment that renders it meaningless and keeps the status quo, then sent the legislation to the Senate floor for adoption. The devastating method of mining known as mountaintop removal would remain perfectly legal.

It’s a win-win for Republicans. They can boast in their reelection campaigns of voting for the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act while doing absolutely nothing to stop King Coal from destroying our environment.

“It breaks my heart and grieves me to think we’re doing things to take off the tops of those beautiful mountains,” said Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis.

“You’re not the one who has to look those miners in the eye who lose their jobs because of this bill,” Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport, shot back.

Continue reading »

CP: Irby Simpkins Ordered to Pay $5M in Back Taxes

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Here's a tidbit for former staffers and readers still smarting over the loss of the Nashville Banner, courtesy of Steve Cavendish in The City Paper:

Former Nashville Banner publisher Irby Simpkins has admitted defeat in his running battle with the IRS and was ordered to pay more than $5 million in back taxes and $1.8 million in penalties by a U.S. Tax Court in November. He declined to say whether he has paid the sum.

Simpkins confirmed to The City Paper that he invested in a series of transactions on the advice of his accounting firm Price Waterhouse in the late 1990s. The IRS claimed that there were deficiencies in four different tax years, 1996-1999. In the largest of those years, 1998, Simpkins was found to have underpaid his taxes by nearly $4.7 million. ...

Read the whole story here.

Tags: ,

About Those Great New Amazon Jobs...

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 6:29 AM

Mac McClelland
  • Mac McClelland
Mac McClelland has a story in Mother Jones this month about her experience working in a giant warehouse similar to (or possibly identical to) warehouses.

"Well, what if I do start crying?" I ask the woman who warns me to keep it together no matter how awfully I'm treated. "Are they really going to fire me for that?"

"Yes," she says. "There's 16 other people who want your job. Why would they keep a person who gets emotional, especially in this economy?"

Still, she advises, regardless of how much they push me, don't work so hard that I injure myself. I'm young. I have a long life ahead of me. It's not worth it to do permanent physical damage, she says, which, considering that I got hired at elevensomething dollars an hour, is a bit of an understatement.

As the sun gets lower in the curt November sky, I thank the woman for her help. When I start toward the door, she repeats her "No. 1 rule of survival" one more time.

"Leave your pride and your personal life at the door." If there's any way I'm going to last, she says, tomorrow I have to start pretending like I don't have either.

It's a long read, but it's an important one, since these are the jobs that are coming to Tennessee. I think it's important for us to acknowledge that these jobs, which we are touting as a great coup for Tennessee, really, really suck.

On the other hand, a job that really, really sucks is still better than no job. So, I'd hope the state would treat these jobs as a good place to start — a good place for a person to prove that she'll show up and work hard. But I hope the state also works to bring in jobs that, frankly, people can do for a long time without ruining their bodies, since we will inevitably have to pick up the cost of their medical bills.

And I'd hope that Tennessee and other states would be keeping a close eye on giant Internet warehouses of all sorts, to make sure that people are working under humane conditions and aren't being exploited.

Tags: , , , , ,

The True History of the Birth of AIDS

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 5:02 AM

The Washington Post has a great excerpt from the book Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It, by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin. The book explores how the pressures of colonialism coupled with the steamship trade combined to create the perfect circumstances for HIV/AIDS to emerge as a pandemic.

There might even have been a series of infections at trading towns along the entire route downriver. Yet even within these riverside trading posts HIV would have struggled to create anything more than a short-lived, localized outbreak.

Most of this colonial world didn’t have enough potential victims for such a fragile virus to start a major epidemic. HIV is harder to transmit than many other infections. People can have sex hundreds of times without passing the virus on. To spread widely, HIV requires a population large enough to sustain an outbreak and a sexual culture in which people often have more than one partner, creating networks of interaction that propel the virus onward.

To fulfill its grim destiny, HIV needed a kind of place never before seen in Central Africa but one that now was rising in the heart of the region: a big, thriving, hectic place jammed with people and energy, where old rules were cast aside amid the tumult of new commerce.

It needed Kinshasa. It was here, hundreds of miles downriver from Cameroon, that HIV began to grow beyond a mere outbreak. It was here that AIDS grew into an epidemic.

Timberg and Halperin point out that the spread of HIV from the chimpanzee population that had HIV-1 group M to humans, then into an epidemic, had only a short window in which to occur. The chimps lived in a very remote part of Cameroon where the human population just wasn't large enough to sustain an epidemic, on the off-chance that cross-species infection occurred. In the whole history of the world, there were just 40 years where the circumstances were right.

It's weird to think that a man butchering a chimp sometime between 1880-1920 in a remote corner of Cameroon lead to the deaths of thousands of people almost a hundred years later. But no weirder, I guess, than believing an airline pilot fucked a monkey.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Republicans Gloat Over Sen. Andy Berke's Departure

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Sen. Andy Berke, who is what passes for a rising Democratic star in Tennessee, might run for Chattanooga mayor.
  • Sen. Andy Berke, who is what passes for a rising Democratic star in Tennessee, might run for Chattanooga mayor.
Republicans can't stop gloating over the transformation of Tennessee into a one-party state. With Sen. Andy Berke's announcement today, seven Democratic legislators now have decided against seeking reelection this year. And every time another one goes away, tail tucked firmly between legs, GOP chairman Chris Devaney issues a mocking press release.

“Tennessee Democrats must be real fans of the rock band Queen, because their new theme song seems to have become ‘Another One Bites the Dust,'" Devaney said today in his latest. “Senator Berke must have realized that his liberal ideology will be rejected in his new district, but he will be quick to discover that his ideology will be rejected by Chattanooga voters if he decides to run for mayor."

Previously, in case you missed it, Devaney said: “It is no surprise Democrats are running for the hills. They saw what happened to their Democrat colleagues in 2010 and now, with the realization that they have to defend an unpopular president whose party is out of touch with Tennesseans, they can only cut their losses and go on home. The Democrats have no plan, no good candidates and no fresh ideas. The Republican Party is intent on challenging seats across the state and will leave no stone unturned.”

It's true that Democrats have no plan, no good candidates and no fresh ideas. But that's never stopped them from running for office in the past. The real reason they're all quitting is the Republican gerrymandering in this year's redistricting map.

Why Do We Long for Ghosts?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 5:09 AM

Ned Ray McWherter
  • Ned Ray McWherter
Jamie Hollin has a great post up about the state of politics in Tennessee, mostly about how the Republicans need to exert some control over their, shall we say, more enthusiastic members — or voters will exert some control over Republican politicians that they won't like.

But it's this part I want to ask about:

However, the majority of democrats in leadership for those years in the more recent past were what I more commonly call Ned McWherter democrats.

Ned McWherter democrats — for me — were grounded in good, old-fashion common sense and decency — sharing rural, west Tennessee values (much unlike national Democrats).

What does this mean? Not just in literal terms; I don't understand what, exactly these rural, west Tennessee values are, and why I, as a reader, should assume, but not be insulted by the implication, that I lack them. But I mean, I keep hearing this from multiple people, that it was better when Ned was alive, and we should just try to get back to how it was when Ned was alive.

Don't get me wrong. Ned McWherter was a great man and an important foundation for the modern Tennessee Democratic party, and Tennessee politics in general. But my god, there's a difference between building a house with a good foundation and longing to live in the basement, where we can be as near to the foundation as possible. Please, can we not find some way to come out of the basement and work on the house?

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tennessee Supreme Court OKs Memphis Diocese Sex Abuse Case

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Sexual abuse proceedings against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis can now continue following an order issued today by the state's highest court.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that the charges brought by Norman Redwing, a Memphis man who alleges he was sexually abused in the 1970s by Father Milton Guthrie, a now-deceased diocesan priest, can continue by effectively detonating one of the church's prized legal tactics — dubbed ecclesiastical abstention doctrine — which conveniently obstructs legal discovery by shielding the church behind First Amendment protections and allow it to party like it's 1399.

From a press release (bold emphasis Pith's) released today by the Supreme Court:

The Diocese asked the trial court to dismiss the case, arguing that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine deprives state courts of jurisdiction over cases against the church and that the victim’s claims were barred by statute of limitations. The Supreme Court determined that religious organizations are not shielded from suits involving property rights, torts (like Redwing’s claims) and criminal conduct as long as the court can resolve the dispute by applying neutral legal principles and is not required to rely on religious doctrine to decide the case.

Typically, victims have up to one year after the abuse occurred to file a lawsuit, unless there are mitigating circumstances. Redwing claims that the Diocese knew that Father Guthrie had sexually abused minors. He also claims that the Diocese purposely misled him about its knowledge of Father Guthrie's conduct and its responsibility to supervise Father Guthrie. The Supreme Court reversed a divided Court of Appeals ruling and reinstated the trial court’s original ruling. The Court ruled that the dismissal was premature because at this point insufficient evidence had been provided to substantiate Redwing’s claim of fraudulent concealment.

Continue reading »

Tags: , ,

Atlas Mugged

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 2:51 PM


Today, Wikileaks has released its latest document dump, "The Global Intelligence Files," which includes millions of emails between Texas-based private security firm Stratfor and its international clientele, essentially the John Galts of the congressional-military-industrial complex. The emails detail "the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency."

The feared Internet document-purveyor has worked in conjunction with dozens of traditional news outlets, including Rolling Stone and McClatchy, to plumb the depths of some 5 million emails from July 2004 and December 2011, details of which will be forthcoming over the next several weeks (unless the outlets are charged with sedition and treason for collaborating with a known enemy of freedom).

The emails primarily shed light on the revolving door between government and private corporations and how that symbiosis feeds off of general public welfare — an ecosystem among the world's upper echelon that forgoes mythological notions of "free markets" in favor of an economic system that more closely resembles the life-cycle of the blood-thirsty, chest-bursting creatures in the Alien films:

Continue reading »

Tags: , ,

Judge Jameson's TV Ad Out of Order

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 2:05 PM

In his race for General Sessions judge, Mike Jameson is airing this happy little TV ad starring his children. As proof of what makes their dad a fair and tough judge, the ad says, the kids boast of his "22 years of experience" and claim he deserves thanks for "cutting the crime rate 37 percent [in his council district]."

That's great, isn't it? There's only one problem. It's misleading.

A judge for 22 years? Jameson has been wearing a black robe for all of three months. Cutting the crime rate? Please.

Jameson was appointed to replace the late General Sessions Judge Leon Ruben in November by his friends on the Metro Council, where he represented East Nashville for eight years. Now, he's running for the job in next week's election against two other Democrats — Jack Byrd and Rachel Bell.

Most lawyers in a Nashville Bar Association poll recommended Jameson over his rivals. They think he's the best qualified. So he must have at least a few good qualities to exaggerate in a TV ad. Instead, he mischaracterizes his experience — and makes his kids to do his dirty work. Kudos to Jameson and his media consultant, Bill Fletcher, for giving all the judge's supporters reason to think twice about voting for him.

Over at In Session, Michael Cass ignores the misleading info in Jameson's ad to write about similarities he sees in an MTV video. What insight! This helps explain why, along with Gail Kerr, Cass is the Nashville PR world's go-to guy for puff pieces. With media watchdogs like Cass, we can all sleep peacefully.

Update: Jameson laughs off any claim that the ad misleads about his experience. The 22 years clearly refers to his legal background, he says. "The ad isn't claiming I've been a judge for 22 years. I mean, I'm not 65 years old." The same point regarding legal experience has been made in his direct mail pieces, he notes. Jameson adds that he has indeed handled "thousands of cases" — both before his appointment as well as after. Because of the nature of the General Sessions docket, it is not uncommon within a brief tenure to handle hundreds of cases a day, he notes. He further stands by the crime reduction statistics. "You only get 30 seconds in a commercial, so you can't elaborate. But again, our mail pieces spell out that I indeed worked with the police on anti-crime legislation and funding, and that crime indeed dropped 37 percent in my Council district."

Most Commented On

Recent Comments

All contents © 1995-2015 City Press LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of City Press LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Powered by Foundation