Saturday, June 29, 2002

Sometimes, on a rare lucky day, we get to see the truth of modern journalism. Despite their protestations of innocence, the solemn vows of impartiality and fairness, the truth leaks out. Not often, but sometimes a writer will cut loose and her editor will inexplicably let it though. Like this. Amazing.

Until next time, that is all.
Jackson Baker's Memphis Flyer column can be found here.

The Whopper of the Week is this:

"At a time when most other Republican exemplars, whether
running for local, state, or federal office, focused on
cost-cutting and tax relief without much reference to social
themes, the outgoing Shelby County mayor's remarks
pointed in a different, more inclusive direction, one often
overlooked by GOP candidates in recent years."

In other words, get away from classic Republican themes and act more like Democrats. Sounds like a recipe.

The rest of the column is boilerplate Baker, with some attempted subtleties mixed in. For example, he mentions the two other candidates running against prohibitive Republican gubernatorial front runner Van Hilleary as though they are close competitors. Baker makes a lot of supposed tensions between out-going mayor Jim Rout and the candidate, Larry Flynn, in the article. This is standard for Baker, sharpening Republican differences and promoting division wherever possible.

He mentions that one speaker "devoted a disproportionate amount of her time to a denunciation of a proposed state income tax..." Given this is a red-meat issue for state Republicans, one wonders what a "proportionate" amount of time is?

Of course, what Tennessee newsman is worth his press pass if he doesn't get in the Official Lie about the first tax protest of July, 2001? Baker does his duty here with this: "...which precipitated what some call a riot and others call a patriotic demonstration against the tax." Good one, Jackson!

The facts are these: One window, at the Capitol door, was broken by someone banging on the glass, not knowing it easily broke. An individual later came forward to offer to pay for the replacement out of his own pocket. The Governor alleged that a rock was thrown through his office window, but no photo has surfaced of that broken window, nor has the rock in question ever been brandished for the cameras. Odd.... Simply put, there was no riot! The crowd was no more enthusiastic than any seen at any major sports event. The only violence that day, broken window aside, was by a State Trooper who, on camera, dragged a protester out of the Capitol across the floor. You rarely see that video any more. Odd....

Baker also is sometimes fond of military metaphors. Remember his enthusiastic adoption of the buzz-phrase of the week "air war," back in the mayoral primaries? In describing the so far low-key race between Lamar! Alexander and Ed Bryant for Sen. Fred Thompson's seat, this week he calls it a "running sniper's duel." He also lets slide Lamar!'s assertion that he's a "good conservative."

And lastly, Baker joins the small cadre of reporters who have tried to, in some way, attach the suicide of Rep. Keith Westmoreland with the enormous tensions in the State Legislature, implying that the stiff opposition by anti-income tax forces led to his unfortunate death. Maybe it was the shame of being a life-long law enforcement officer and "expert" on criminal matters who sat naked in a hot tub with a couple of unsuspecting girls, aged 15 and 16, and getting caught that had something more to do with it? Rep. Westmoreland's behavior, as we learned after his death, had been erratic and of concern for many, unpublicised months before the crunch came to the Legislature. What these reporters are doing, what Baker tries to do, is callous, cynical and reprehensible. Rep. Westmoreland's passing should be mourned and his death left alone.

And lastly, there is the usual tax dig. Baker writes "...legislators met again this week, still torn between advocates of draconian cuts, proponents of an income tax, and some who have offered a new package" of mixed tax increases. Oops! The advocates and the proponents are the same people!

Naifeh put forward the "doom and gloom" budget to frighten some legislators into supporting his income tax plan. Even now, he's avoiding true leadership, which would consist of finding some middle ground with the various non-income tax proposals, to force, by hook or by crook (and he's using both) his income tax plan through. It is thuggery of the ugliest sort.

Until next time, that is all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

This is a test. Had this been real, it would have been taxed by now.