Saturday, January 25, 2003

OK, I Mean It This Time

Really, I'm gone now. I know I say that further down, but this time I mean it. I have a very long day at work tomorrow (thanks Super Bowl!) and then on Monday, so I won't be blogging until Monday evening.

I still have a backlog! Two Tom Walter pieces from the Commercial Appeal, one on British TV comedy vs. American and the other on WPTY's news changes. I also have to read and study Bill Hobbs' TABOR white paper; you can learn more at and by reading the posts on Thursday and Friday at South Knox Bubba.

All right, that's it. Y'all be good and stay warm.
Only If They Strip

Rick Reilly, writing for CNN.SI, looks at the atrocious way that women's sports, and female athletes, are treated, at how real accomplishment isn't recognised and how women are still largely valued for their appearance. He makes a lot of very simple, but eye-opening points. Normally I don't follow sports at all (SHOCK! HORROR!), but this one caught my eye. And no, there aren't any pictures. Shame on you.
What Lawyers Can Learn From Comic Books

That's the title of this essay by Lawrence Lessig. I had forgotten to post it earlier, which is why it's slightly old.

Basically, Lessig looks at the way that Japanese comic and manga companies treat their fans and the way American lawyers do. We come up on the short end of the stick. He makes a lot of good points about it being a question of how companies view customers, and who decides how.

I don't recall having seen this word before, so I think SayUncle has coined it.

Instalanche: That avalanche of hits your site receives when Glenn Reynold's Instapundit has an intriguing link to you.

Congrats to SayUncle!
Da Rapmaster

Bobby D, of Thoughts From The Rapmaster, is a Memphis blogger and RTB member. He shares his "favorite comment on the latest Tennessee controversy." So very true!
Cool Blogs Found

I received some email from some new folks the past few days, who seem to have found Half-Bakered through this blog. It's the work of an Ole Miss student, Chris Lawrence. Go check out the blog and the rest of his website, It's all good and Chris has wide-ranging and fascinating interests.

I turned up more blogs from the emailers and other places, including the utterly amazing GeoURL a " reverse location-to-URL directory." Basically, you enter your ISP's URL and a distance range, and GeoURL will identify all the websites within that geographic range. (There are some limitations.) It's how I found some of the following:

Mike James' blog Tread lightly on the things of the earth is, to use his own description, a "weblog about computing, politics, and faith." Very good reading. Check out the photos, too; especially the one of Mike trying out "reclining computing." (For real!) I also have to note that I really admire his site design.

Another Oxford student, Loyd Goodbar, maintains The Black Robes, a personal blog, with interesting content including an observation on mall closings.

Loyd's site led me to the Southern blogs netring, twenty-six "Southern" websites of varying quality and interests.

Yet another student blog at here. Lots of pics of partying college students.

Gammatron is Paul Novarese's wide-ranging, but terse, weblog.

There's lots more. You can go to this list, which is centered on Memphis, Tennessee. Or go to GeoURL and enter your own latitude and longitude, and your ISP's URL to find ones close to you. Maybe some of you NashVillains or KnoxVegans can give it a shot and see what turns up. Some fascinating folks out there.

Man, the web is a daily wonder!
Advice For The Armed Forces

The following was posted to a Usenet newsgroup that I read. The poster said it was passed around during his last week of training.


If the enemy is in range, so are you.

Incoming fire has the right of way.

Don't look conspicuous, it draws fire.

There is always a way.

The easy way is always mined.

Try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo.

Professionals are predictable, it's the amateurs that are dangerous.

The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:
1. When you're ready for them.
2. When you're not ready for them.

Teamwork is essential, it gives them someone else to shoot at.

If you can't remember, the Claymore is pointed at you.

The enemy diversion you have been ignoring will be the main attack.

A "sucking chest wound" is Nature's way of telling you to slow down.

If your attack is going well, you have probably walked into an ambush.

Never draw fire, it irritates everyone around you.

Anything you do can get you shot, including nothing.

Make it tough enough for the enemy to get in and you won't be able to get out.

Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.

If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in a combat zone.

When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the enemy.

And most importantly:

Never forget that your weapon is made by the lowest bidder.
Horrifying Developments

CNN has this story detailing how one Iraqi scientist attempted to gain sanctuary from UN inspectors and WAS HANDED BACK! The man yelled "Save me, save me" in Arabic and forced his way into a UN vehicle. The story has a picture of the man talking with an "unfazed" (CNN's word) UN inspector just before he was dragged by his hands and feet back into Iraqi custody.

I find this horrifying. What could these UN folks have been thinking? The Iraqi is a dead man, after he's been tortured thoroughly; his family faces possible death, too. His friends and coworkers also will be under the Iraqi gun. The UN people didn't even do a cursory interview to see who he was and what information he had in the notebook he carried with him. The CNN article completely avoids any discussion of his possible fate.

What possible justification can the UN folks have? Watch for some press spokesperson come forward to say that the inspectors weren't equipped to handle such unforeseeable circumstances, that they didn't have anyone who could process "non-procedural status changes" and they were respecting Iraqi sovreignty, or some such ass-coverage. If we even hear that much.

I have to say that maybe moral relativism plays a part. Too often, people claim that honor only because it's a high-sounding disguise to cover for their own cowardice and fear. Rather than engage and confront, it's easier to just let them be and hope for the best. That's been the European approach to Iraq and terrorism until the past few weeks. Now that they are starting to find dozens of terrorists hiding all over Europe, planning horrifying things, maybe, just maybe, they'll wake up and start saving lives, instead of throwing them away.

UPDATE: The Saturday evening news is now covering this incident and they are portraying it as a "security threat" (NBC's words) to the inspectors by deranged Iraqis! There is no identification of this man as brave or heroic nor any sympathy shown. And they are still refusing to acknowledge that any Iraqi scientist who talks in private with any UN inspector will likely be arrested by Iraqi security and treated as a possible traitor, and likely tortured for information. The Iraqi presumption has to be that any private conversation has to have been damaging.

My already low opinion of the major media continues to sink. This is making me sick, it really is.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Have A Good Weekend

Most of you won't be reading this until Monday anyway, but I'll be working hard this Super Bowl weekend and won't have time for blogging. I plan to catch up a few loose ends on Saturday, but will be at work all day Sunday. Blogging likely won't resume until Monday evening.

So no-one do anything noteworthy until then, OK?

The I-69 project is slated to connect Indiana and Mexico by passing through the Memphis area. The I-69 Info Project is a clearinghouse of information, discussion and opinion about that undertaking.

The Memphis leg page can be found here. Chris Lawrence also mentions some interesting contracts being let out, and other things, in his blog on the appropriately named "Roadgeekery" page.
I Knew It, I Knew It!

I wrote in a previous post that the Commercial Appeal's editors still seem to be waiting to start the push for an income tax. Even though reporters, columnists and editors have all repeated the idea that "the income tax is dead" -- though always for varying periods -- there still clung to their words the whiff of a desire to bring it back up.

Well, it's happened. In today's lead editorial, the CA finally pulls the knife from its sheath. The editorial starts out like the one I mentioned above, with the usual doom-colored glasses view of the State's budgetary landscape:
TENNESSEE'S new governor, Phil Bredesen, has yet to find a magic wand he can wave over the budget problems created or exacerbated by the state's failing tax structure.
Remember that phrase, "magic wand." And note that it's the tax structure that's failing the budget, even though revenues are rising, and not the budget which is abusing the revenue stream (a point Bill Hobbs also makes today).

Then, to truly belabor the point, they make a strained allusion to Sisyphus, who was fated to constantly roll the same boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down every time. They seem to want you to believe that trying to create a workable Tennessee budget within our current revenues is a hopeless task.
Largely because of inaccurate presumptions about how much the state could save by changing TennCare rules, this year's $9.4 billion budget has a projected $322 million deficit. Soaking up most of the state's reserves and continuing a hiring and travel freeze can narrow that gap.
Isn't this precious? Trying to whitewash the malfeasance of the Sundquist administration's handling of figures and projections involving budgets has become a sideline of the paper. There's a world of investigation hiding behind that "inaccurate presumptions," which the paper will never look into. By the way, the shortfall amounts to 3.4 percent -- hardly an apocalypse.

The rest of the editorial trots out the usual suspects and even throws in the Arlington Development Center fiasco. But the final paragraph is my vindication:
The long hill Tennesseans must climb alongside their new governor will only get steeper until modern, progressive ways to pay for state government are adopted, and the search for the magic wand is given up as hopeless.
Ah-HA! There it is. Though they try a bit of misdirection there with the tortured metaphor, it's clear that the CA does see a "magic wand."

We call it by a more mundane name: income tax.

Notice, too, that it's Tennesseans that the paper singles out here, and not the legislators. We already work hard at our lives and jobs to keep ourselves above water. It's profligate, corrupt, inept and duplicitous legislators (and a certain former Governor) who bear the true responsibility here.

But the fact remains that even if an income tax is instituted that is merely replacement for the present tax system, it will still fall short by (from the CA's own numbers) $500 million. More taxes, or higher ones, will be needed. And therein is the rub that the CA hopes most voters won't notice, especially if they don't say anything either.

Let's suppose that the income tax proposed last time was passed. It would have moved the tax burden from 100% of the population (plus all the visitors who pass through the State) who buy things in varying degrees, and transfer it to the 40% of Tennesseans who are labelled "wealthy." We would still be $500 million in arrears! And so, after only a single year, the income tax would have received its first upward adjustment. Since only 40% of the population would have been affected, legislators could count on a majority of voters being behind them in making the wealthy "pay their fair share." Fait accompli.

I knew it. Didn't I tell you?
Bredesen Continues To Surprise

I have to say that I'm still impressed with Governor Bredesen. He announced today that he's going to forego the governor's annual salary. Granted, that's largely symbolic in his case. After all, he's wealthy enough to illegally give his own campaign a couple of million dollars, so it's not like he's going the hair-shirt route.

But symbolism can be important and I think in this case it does send a good message, especially to the Legislature. He still seems committed to the path of "reduction before taxation" he pushed during his campaign.

His toughest challenges are yet to come. He has to prepare a budget, facing anything between $200 and $800 million in shortfall. TennCare is also drunkenly stumbling around the landscape. Teachers' unions are grasping with sharp-nailed fingers at the teacher-pay equalisation ruling. Reforming the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation will put him squarely in confrontation with some of the strongest and most bullying special interests in the State. He has a genuine minefield to navigate.

But Bredesen's first steps have so far largely been promising ones. I'm becoming cautiously non-pessimistic.
Online Taxation

Today's Washington Post has a story on the Streamlined Sales Tax Project. If you're a reader of Bill Hobbs, then you're already familiar with this effort to begin taxing online sales. Tennessee is a participant in this, but has not, to my knowledge, begun to implement any parts of their proposed legislation. Given the constant bleating about the need for more revenue, you can bet that we'll be seeing it soon.

Many businesses and legislators believe the Internet economy is sturdy enough, and sophisticated enough, now to support taxation. They also believe they're losing significant amounts of money to online sales.

But the story makes the point that the 2002 holiday season produced about $13 billion in online sales. The common mantra in retail is that this accounts for as much as one-fourth of annual sales. We'll be generous and say that annual online sales come to $60 billion (and if someone can provide a more accurate number, please do). That's in an economy that measures around $4 trillion dollars. It's a drop.

State governments drowning in their own extravagant promises and incompetent management will grasp at whatever straw they can. Personally, I'm waiting to see how they handle taxing eBay.
See The Similarities?

The London (Ontario) Free Press has this story about a cop dog-shooting incident up there, and the results of an investigation.

In this case, the cops were entering an apartment on a drug raid. The dog was inside and "barking and running toward them." Officers also attempted to subdue the dog with a CO2 fire extinguisher.

What's disturbing is the similarities to the Cookeville shooting. Cops in both cases were relying on bad information, in which miscommunication played a part, and lied in their reports on the shootings. Both found no instance of wrong-doing by the officer. There is stonewalling and defensiveness on the part of the police.

The deputy police chief "said he won't name the shooter lest he and his family are subjected to 'the wrath of extremist animal rights activists.'" Yeah, right. I'm sure that's it. All us "extremists" out there who are upset with needless animal death.

We need a good re-examination of the purpose and role of police officers in our communities. At present, they serve as the "thin blue line" separating criminals and citizens. In the present-day violence of America it tends to create an us vs. them mentality that's corrosive to police sympathy (both theirs and ours).

Perhaps we need to re-examine the things we ask police to do, like stopping crimes with no victim. For one, the drug war needs a serious rethinking. Perhaps prostitution and the criminalisation of homelessness, too. Asking the police to be the morality that we don't have within ourselves is part of the problem.

Crimes against property shouldn't always result in jail time. This is one area where community service, of the meaningful, reconstructive variety, can serve two needs. One, the criminal either repairs his damage or the community has neglect needs addressed (cleaning up vacant lots, buildings, etc.). Two, we free up jail space for those who commit crimes against people, to keep them segregated, which is the greater need. A byproduct of this is that police are dealing with fewer criminals "in the wild," and have more time for community needs.

Also, we should think about the Japanese model of having officers live in the areas they police. It fosters more of that community thing I've been talking about and encourages the citizens to identify with, and build sympathy for, their officers. I know Memphis tried something like this with a program to offer low-cost housing to officers. And that the program was abused by some officers. I personally know of two instances in my area alone.

It's clear that our police continue to grow disaffected from their communities and retreat into their "blue home." We need to stop this, or we'll continue to have more Cookevilles.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

Every time. Every danged time. Snow takes aim at Memphis, builds up some steam, gets a good look at the city and then swerves into the median, ploughs into the other lane and hits some poor unsuspecting other city.

Nashville and Knoxville get a good coating. We get something that looks like God brushed off his dandruff on the city. Heck, Tupelo Mississippi got more snow than we did! I'm really not happy with this, as we've missed a good snow nearly a half-dozen times now.

I want snow, dangummit.
It's All In Where You Look

The past few weeks, especially last weekend, the news has been filled with stories of anti-war or anti-America protests. But I'd wager that these protests aren't going to get that much play, even though the protesters face death if caught. Unlike their Western counterparts who cry "Fascist death squads!" when the police just show up. Yet another reason for the war.
Uh Oh

Next time some anti-globalist, environmentalist whacko tries to make you feel guilty for living in America, just ask them if they use a cellphone, microwave, alarm clock, stereo or VCR, or digital anything. Ask if they drive any vehicle made since the late Eighties. Ask if they use a computer.

When they say yes, slam them with this, from the Japan Times. Then see just how serious they are about their environmentalism.
So what are the environmental impacts of producing and using a 32-megabyte DRAM computer chip that weighs a mere 2 grams? The UNU team found that to make every one of the millions manufactured each year requires 32 kg of water, 1.6 kg of fossil fuels, 700 grams of elemental gases (mainly nitrogen), and 72 grams of chemicals (hundreds are used, including lethal arsine gas and corrosive hydrogen fluoride).

To make matters worse, Williams believes his findings are conservative. "We think the real numbers may be twice that," he said, adding that rapid advances in technology aggravate the problem.
Put up or shut up, d00d. (This story was originally found on Slashdot.)

Terry Oglesby is a father, architect, church-goer, blogger and director of the famous Axis of Weevil. He's also the author of Possumblog, viewing life from the marsupial angle in Alabama. A couple of weeks ago, he posted a brilliant satire of the "no war with Iraq" mentality. In it, he transposes that mindset to the American Civil War, with devastating results. Here's an excerpt:
Once again the world now waits with fear and trepidation regarding the threat of a US attack on the Confederacy. The President provides as justification for this impending attack the Southern states’ refusal to stay in the Union, the alleged Confederate threat to its neighbors and the Confederate government's mistreatment of its slaves.

The American people are being called upon to send their young sons to go and kill other young American sons. This war, like all wars, will be brutal and will leave many American families mourning the loss of their children.

We're not allowed to publicly question the Lincoln Administration for fear of being called unpatriotic. Aren't we entitled to really know why we're being urged to go to war? Aren't we entitled to be confident that the Administration is telling the truth?
Read the rest.
A Judge With Sense

The original lawsuit got a lot of play, especially in talk radio and morning drive time, and on the news, but I haven't seen a lot on the suit's dismissal. Turns out the judge hearing the case isn't some activist or victim of junk psychology.

Sugar and caffeine are on the horizon as potential targets. Hopefully, this is a precedent for future lawsuits of this type.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Bill Hobbs

If you are reading me, but not reading Bill Hobbs's blog, well...I don't know what to make of you! Although he announced last week that he'd be cutting back on his output, it hasn't happened yet and in fact his quality if anything is increased. He is without peer among the horde of Volunteer political bloggers and if you haven't already guessed that I hold him in high esteem, I just said so.

So go read and find out for yourself why.
A Quick One

I don't have time, as it's late, to cover this one more than cursorily, but it should be said that I'm actually heartened by this story in today's Commercial Appeal.

In his first Cabinet meeting, new Governor Phil Bredesen has actually told his departments to find cuts, of between 2.5 and 5 percent! Hopefully, he'll follow through with them.

I still doubt our new Governor--he is a Democrat, after all, and that's something to fear--but I'm slightly less skeptical than I was before. Here's hoping this isn't a feint before the hammer of tax increases falls.
Our Mayor, The "Whore-Monger"

Well, it's too late now. Hubon Sandridge, minister and City School Board member, in talking about the Mayor and his new front in the consolidation effort, called Mayor Doctor Willie Herenton a "disaster" and a "whore-monger."

That last is a reference to his days, as City Schools Superintendent, when he was openly a ladies man. He's far more reserved about such things these days, but Sandridge has a long memory. And that's a symbol of the problems our Mayor can't overcome.

I support City-County consolidation. The upsides are too numerous to mention, including cost savings, more effective government and better planning. It should have happened decades ago. But it didn't and, frankly, I don't think it will any time soon.

Mayor Doctor Herenton has an imperialistic, elitist, arrogant, dismissive attitude that makes him just about the worst possible messenger--never mind being the architect--of consolidation. His antics ever since his second term have endeared him to no one, and alienated far too many.

But he has a plan. It's typically ham-handed, and depends on folks just listening to what he says and falling in line. To him, it's self-evident that consolidation has to happen and failure to join him is nothing but rank obstinancy at best and outright malfeasance at worst. It's why he every so often has to chastise and berate those he sees as blocking his progress.

Memphis' racial divide is deep and almost unbridgeable. It's also created scars that, even decades later, are still recalled and picked at. People have grudges and feuds that they nurse with patient revenge. After decades of exclusion from control of public life, now that black Memphians have it they're going to right past wrongs, but more importantly, unfortunately, they're also going to get their own out of the public trough. And not surprisingly, they're loathe to give it away again.

The gap between public trust and official behavior is also deep, especially after the new coliseum's hurried birth. After scolding Memphians for wanting a public referendum on that coliseum, he now professes to desire public backing for his surrender of the City Schools' charter to the County. Most of us look at that about-face as the political ploy it is, but Herenton would angrily chastise you for saying that. He doesn't have an ear for people, nor much of a public image for liking them. He is, by action and reputation, a divider. And that's why he'll fail.

What's called for is a soother and healer, one who can patiently sit with folks as they air grievances, one who can cultivate people's willingness and bundle it with others into community action. Herenton just can't do that.

I still believe that County Mayor AC Wharton is a stalking horse for Herenton's ambitions to become the first Metro Mayor. Wharton had a long and active political life, including being campaign manager for Herenton's last mayoral campaign! But he's never shown any ambitions to elected office, until he suddenly wants to be County Mayor. And one of his goals, clearly but quietly stated, was to institute "smart growth" for the County. Smart growth is a euphemism for stringent laws and central planning. In a sprawl like Memphis and Shelby County, that would require a metro government to achieve.

It's a shame that Herenton is the man who is promoting consolidation. It means that the cause will lose another decade before anyone can get past the ugly memories he's creating and pick it back up.
Just Stop It Already

The Commercial Appeal once again parades a false inferiority complex as an excuse to prod the populace to support efforts to make Memphis a "world class city." That phrase has been the rallying cry behind every suspect and expensive civic project this city has attempted, from Peabody Place, to the new FedEx Forum, to the Pyramid, to the Main Street Trolley, to the proposed light rail system, to every Board created for the myriad boondoggles infesting the downtown.

It's the fault line between government and civic leaders, and the regular folks. I've lived in Memphis for the past 15 years now, and happily so for all the problems the city has. But every city has problems and many have far worse problems than ours. Not being a "world class city" isn't one of them.

It's been pretty clear to me for years now that there's a tremendous disconnect between our leaders' desires for big showy projects that squawk gaudily to the world and the far simpler desires of most Memphians. One after another, some new thing is trotted out to the city's people, cheered on by the fawning and compliant local media. The people of the city are expected to fall all over themselves to support whatever this new something is.

And every time, when the folks of Memphis yawn and go elsewhere, we get from the local paper the same exasperated, disappointed plaint. It baffles the media and the leaders that most Memphians don't seem to want a "world class city."

I really believe what most Memphians want is the largest small town in America. Most folks like being large enough to get things like Starbucks, regional malls and big-name concerts. But I believe most of us like more having life-sized neighborhoods of varying cultures and character, wrapped together in a common bond of relationship and geography, not lines drawn on a map. We seem to like that sensibility of a town, where folks know each other and say "Hey," where we don't call attention to ourselves with flashy display, where we love the homegown things, where things aren't so large that we can't wrap our view of ourselves around it.

As long as our leaders keep trying to drag us to somewhere we don't want to be, we'll keep seeing embarrassing pleas like this. As long as we look elsewhere in envy, coveting what others have, trying to pimp our own gems alongside theirs, instead of wearing our jewels like the loved and cherished mementos of a life well-lived, we'll be eaten up and consumed by this sense of inferiority. When they decide to instead make Memphis the best biggest small town in America, then they'll be on to something that will distinguish us. And then folks will know who we are, and maybe even envy us a bit.
Read Before Clicking

As war approaches in Iraq, it's important to remember just what war is and what it does to people. In his photo-essay, The Unseen War, photojournalist Peter Turnley starkly and frankly shows that effect. Photos such as these, from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, were what helped to turn the tide of public perception back during Vietnam. Journalists still pride themselves on that.

Today, however, the major media routinely edit what they show us, afraid not of offending us but of stirring us up. Masses aroused can be dangerous things. The major media prefer to do the slow boil, to lead us to the effect they hope for. Look at 9/11, where the horrifying images of the first hours, which they showed live and unedited, began to disappear or get modified as the media figured out "what the story was."

Do not click this link if graphic pictures of violent death, or the shell-shock of the survivors, disturbs you. But if you can handle it, you need to see these reminders.
Me Too

One problem with blogging is that if I spot an interesting item, it's a sure bet a whole lot of others have too. And most likely they've gotten to their blogs before I got to mine. Ah well....

Junior New York Senator Hillary Clinton, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day, had this to say about some of his most famous words:
“We are reminded once again by the events of the last year that there are those who don’t understand Dr. King’s dream and legacy,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character?” she said, quoting from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “If we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.”
Put those words in the mouth of any conservative or Republican. Can you imagine the firestorm of controversy sure to follow? And yet I've only seen this story, originally reported in the New York Sun, in conservative forums and some blogs. You won't see this one in the mainstream media, now or ever. Most reporters and columnists with sway just lurv Hillary.

Dr. King would surely be bewildered by the straight-faced twisting of his most powerful words.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Fun With Numbers

The Commercial Appeal has an Associated Press story by Bill Poovey that samples a few Tennesseans he calls "hopeful Bredesen watchers" to generalise out to his headline, "Bredesen watchers want quick action on spending."

But as always, the Devil is in the details. Poovey talks to six people, a thoroughly non-representative sample. Worsening the bias is the fact that four of the six depend on State money for their livelihood! The fifth is a former newspaper reporter, a group known for its income tax sympathies. The sixth is the mayor of Knoxville, which also depends heavily on State spending. Naturally, they're all looking for "tax reform," soon.

The word "hope" re-occurs in the story, and the hope seems to be that more money will be forthcoming to their particular interests, once taxes have been reformed. All expect more money to be available at no cost to them.

Don't you love a non-partisan, balanced, unbiased press?

(An aside: the print version of this story is directly above a picture of an apartment fire. That building is just two doors down from where I live! Small world.)
Obedience School For You!

Always smirky Paula Wade comes through again in this story in today's Commercial Appeal about the Cookeville dog shooting.

But the goober who wrote the story's headline needs to be smacked with a rolled-up newspaper: "Howls of outrage after shooting of dog have town covering its ears."

The story itself is a sympathetic look at Cookeville's reaction to all the bad press they've been getting. As in: long on Cookeville sympathy and short of Smoak sympathy. The story makes repeated references to the angry and dangerous calls being made to various residents, including the officer who shot the dog.

But it fails to mention that the officer, Eric Hall, had two prior shooting incidents involving dogs. It also condenses the elaborations of dispatchers, which turned a routine traffic call into a felony stop, this way:
A series of miscommunications by dispatchers led THP officials to stop the Smoaks on a "felony stop," assuming the family had been involved in a robbery.
Two other items of interest:
Cookeville Police Chief Robert Terry ...said Humane Society officials have offered to provide training for Cookeville's 69 police officers on handling animals.
Notice he doesn't say they've accepted, though. And there's this from Cookeville City Manager Jim Shipley:
But I think the biggest cure will be time...
As in, after a while it'll all blow over and you'll forget and we can go back to what we were doing before.

Nope, nothing to see here. Just keep moving on.
Still More Fun With Numbers

In today's USA TODAY, there's this story reporting results of a poll that finds that 50% of Americans feel their federal income taxes are about right and that 47% feel they are too high. The margin of error in the poll is five percent, meaning the results are a statistical dead heat.

Pretty close, right? Well guess the headline of the story. "Half of Americans don't see federal income tax as too high." Sure, technically that's true, but it doesn't reflect the even division of the results, the balance of views.

Nope, no bias there.

If we do, in fact, go to war with Iraq and these idiots survive, can the Americans in this group be tried as traitors for providing aid and comfort to the enemy?

I sure as hell hope so.

Monday, January 20, 2003

The Rocky Top Brigade

I've been touring the RTB blogs the past few days and I've noticed more than a few of us seem to like Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk. (I also like Haagen Dasz' Chocolate Chocolate Chip. 1200 calories a pint! Ymmm.)

So, is this a thing, or what?
A Surfeit of Talk

Rather more quietly than expected for such a big change, last week WREC Radio overhauled its own line-up and took over another station's programming as well.

KWAM was a black gospel station, but is now AM990, the "talk" station to WREC's "news" format. I don't understand the difference either, after looking at both new schedules, but there you are.

Biggest changes at WREC: bringing back Dr. Laura, moving Rush back an hour to carry him live, and following him with Sean Hannity! Mike Fleming's been cut an hour, but that's fine by me; he's god-awful anyway. The Phil Valentine show has gone, too, and will be much missed here in the Western Grand Division. He's a great broadcaster with a great show; you Nashvillians are lucky to have him.

But the good news? KWAM now carries Neal Boortz and Michael Savage! Boortz is an Atlanta libertarian with an entertaining, take-no-prisoners style. And Savage is, well, Savage. He's sort-of what Mike Fleming's "Napalm in your coffee" wishes it could be. Both are well worth checking out. Unfortunately, Boortz is carried directly opposite Rush and Savage is evening prime-time. Ah well, make your choices.

One more note: Jim Montgomery's "Computer Connection" is now two hours! He starts at noon on Saturday. Good going, Jim.
Hobbs on the Job

Yep, Bill Hobbs continue to monitor Tennessee's tax and revenue situation with a cold, clear eye. In this post from today, he looks at a Tenessean interview with new Governor Phil Bredesen that offers real hope that Bredesen understands the necessity of spending reform and not more tax increases, or instituting an income tax.

One thing to note: Bredesen still leaves open the possibility of an income tax during his (presumptive) second administration. He clearly says that he'll campaign on that need and that he'd also want a voter referendum on the issue. That "voter referendum" is the current gov-speak, that Hobbs has already noted, for a constitutional amendment or convention. It's recognition, finally, that mere legislative or executive fiat won't get our leaders to the fiscal firehose of money they desperately want. They'll have to take it to the voters first, and convince us that they can be responsible.

The track record of the past four years is going to be a tough one to overcome, however. Especially with Jimmy Naifeh still running the State House like Al Capone and the Chicago Mob. Our leaders have shown they don't understand fiscal restraint, that they will avoid the tough decisions, that they are cowards and craven lackeys of numerous narrow, non-voter interests.

Bredesen can lead here, where Sundquist merely offered cover for everyone to hide behind. But with recent announcements of cost overruns at TennCare, as well as the reverification debacle, and the teacher salary-equity ruling, he's facing a lot of big-dollar decisions. (You can read the Commercial Appeal's accurate but limp-wristed summary in this Sunday editorial. You can see that they're still angling for an income tax, but warily watching Bredesen for clues to which way to go.)

As for TennCare, the best solution is to hand back the waiver and return to Medicaid. When a program that covered a mere 4% of the State's population has ballooned to cover almost 25%, something's clearly out of whack. With Bonnyman and his camp followers in the press going after every attempt at reforming the socialist behemoth, serious reform has already been shown to be a slow, torturous and costly undertaking.

It would take real courage for Bredesen to take that path, especially after being elected as the guy who could "manage" his way out of the mess. The press will do to him what they failed to do to Sundquist's about-face on the income tax. Phil will be pilloried. But there is no workable path to sanity with TennCare. Now that it's here there are constituencies--and not just the poor--that feed off it. Cutting them off will produce howls of protest to make the Income Tax Wars look like a warm-up, largely because the State press will be behind them, this time.

It won't be pretty, but it is the only way to go.
More Disturbing Linkage

In a post on Saturday, I wrote about the seeming apparent linkage between Iraq's production of ricin and the arrests of terror suspects in London who may be linked to the planned release of ricin. There's more on the story to report, but nothing conclusive. (Read that post first for the necessary background.)

Today, as reported in the UK's Guardian, the mosque that has been the chief center of Islamofascist agitation in London was raided and searched. (You can also use that link to find more stories.) This mosque has also been tentatively linked to American terror suspects Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard "Shoebomber" Reid.

The ricin terrorists arrested last week were Algerians who were living in England. London has a large Algerian population, as a result of lax visa distribution and enforcement. Many of these Algerians came from or through France, which has a permanent Algerian community, a result of its complicated colonial past with the north-African country. French police have long been watching the Algerians, in part because of their Islamofascist agitation and in part because of the violence they've been importing from Algeria itself.

Algeria has been wracked by terrible violence for more than a decade as the Army fights ruthlessly to suppress the fundmentalists who are trying to take over the country, Taliban-style. These fundmentalists have been outlawed there, but continue to function partly thanks to their brethren in France.

There have been documented relations between the Algerians and Al-Qaida. There has also been documented relations between Iraqi Kurds and Algeria. And the Iraqi government has been caught sending poison gas to Europe. But what is missing is a clear link between the Algerians and Iraq itself.

I think as the British investigate this, and the French continue their own investigations, we may yet find that link. It's not there yet, but it bears watching.
Iraq's Smoking Gun, At Last

Saw a story on FreeRepublic this evening. It comes from the The Indian Times. Here's the reason to read it:
NEC Engineering Private Ltd. used phoney customs declarations and other false documents, as well as front companies in three countries, to export 10 consignments of raw materials and equipment that Saddam Hussein’s regime could use to produce chemical weapons and propellants for long-range missiles, according to court records.

The shipments, valued at nearly $800,000, took place between September 1998 and February 2001. The exports—specialised supplies such as atomised aluminum powder and titanium centrifugal pumps—ostensibly went to Jordan and Dubai.
The story takes pains to note that US officials have been involved in uncovering this as well. The story goes on to point out that the plants for which these supplies were bought are supposedly closed, and that they produced chlorine (which is necessary for certain poisonous gasses).

Hope this gets more play in the American press, but somehow I doubt it will. ABC News, tonight, was broadcasting live from Baghdad and it was the farce you'd expect. Peter Jennings, accompanied by Iraqi security, went "into the streets" to talk to regular Iraqis. It was stage-managed from both sides and a waste of everyone's time.

Anyway, you should read it.
Read For Yourself

The recent three-judge panel that over-ruled Judge Haynes' ruling to re-instate all TennCare enrollees who had been cut in the reverification process has published their ruling. But finding it online was a problem.

I tried the obvious: the website for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and came up with nothing. Their site is surprising bare.

Further searching led me to the Tennessee Justice Center, home of Gerald Bonnyman and the very folks who've been bird-dogging every effort at reforming or reining in the out-of-control TennCare.

Click on "English" and then "Current Cases." Then scroll down to "Rosen case" and click the "Rosen decision January 13th, 2003" link. That'll take you to a faxed and scanned PDF version of the ruling. I've not read it yet, but I'm posting it here for any of you who would like to.

And then tour the TJC website just to get an idea of the folks who, in the name of "Justice," want to empty your pocket books with endless lawsuits all aimed at fatiguing our State government into capitulating to their dream of a Socialist welfare state. Never knew malignancy could look so earnest and good, did you?
Gritting My Teeth Even As I Write This

Newspapers famously bury their mistakes. The most famous one, in the New York Times, involved them dismissing Dr. Robert H. Goddard's 1920's paper in which he first proposed the means by which man might fly to the Moon. The Times sniffed that science clearly showed he was wrong. They didn't retract their error until three days before Man landed on the Moon.

Now, here in the blogosphere, things are different. It's a tradition, and a badge of honor of sorts, that we bloggers admit to our mistakes front and center. Here's one of mine.

Back during the campaign for the 2002 mid-term elections I pooh-poohed Karl Rove, White House advisor, on his strategy of selecting the more centrist/moderate candidate over the more grass-roots popular, and more conservative, candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races around the nation. Most especially, I derided him for supporting California's Richard Riordan over Bill Simon.

Well, history has shown how spectacularly correct Rove was. He helped to engineer and pull off an upset that may turn out to be a watershed of the proportions of the 1994 Republican "Contract With America" sweep.

Had California Republicans gone with Riordan, would they have won? It seems likely now. Grey Davis was literally begging for someone to knock him off. His administration was rife with incompetence and malfeasance. Simon turned out to have too many scandals in his business past that compromised his business credentials. It ruined his main selling point and ruined him. Simon ended up running on "I'm not Davis" and that wasn't enough.

It seems fair to say, in retrospect, that Riordan wouldn't have had that problem; plus he was a known property. That would have made it easier for a crucial few thousand voters to switch to him, giving him the Governorship. We don't know, unless he runs in 2006, if Riordan has skeletons of his own. He might.

Riordan's more moderate views would have pissed off the activist conservative base, as Alexander did in Tennessee, but it would have enabled him to take office and set the stage for more conservative candidates in the future.

So, yeah. Rove was right and I was wrong. Just don't do any happy dances on my funeral pyre. OK?
And To Think He Once Was President

Former President Bill Clinton spoke to NYU Law school students last week. His comments, as reported by The Villager, are surprising:
Former President Bill Clinton called on an audience of students to prepare for a future when America will no longer be "the biggest dog on the street" at the keynote address Tuesday of a New York University forum on globalization.

The current globalized world is not sustainable economically, politically or from a security vantage point, Clinton said at the second annual conference co-sponsored by New York University and the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation. Clinton spoke to an audience of about 450 students and guests.

"On Sept. 11, 2001, members of Al Quaeda used the forces of globalization - open borders, easy immigration, easy travel, easy access to information technology - to kill 3,100 people from 70 countries in three cities in the U.S.," Clinton said.
It only gets better from there. He actually proposes to "tag" people so we can track their movements, claiming it's better than tracking the shopping and credit card use information.

Just think: If Hillary actually gets her wish and wins as the Democratic candidate for President in 2008, he'll be back in the White House, promoting this lunacy all over again.

The current level of health, technology and lifestyle in the West in "unsustainable," so Clinton's solution is to reduce us? Of course, he still subscribes to the same philosophy that says that we can't sustain the world's population with the farming techniques and crops of thirty years ago (we improved on them), nor do we have the oil reserves (we found more; and more remain to be found), and that quality of life would deteriorate (look around you). Yes, Bill, you were right about so many things. We all respect you, sure we do. Now, will you go away? Please?
Why Not Z?

I mentioned below that I'd get a bit more personal with Half-Bakered now that I'm no longer anonymous. One thing I'm sure some have noticed is that I spell words normally using a "z" with an "s" instead. For example: recognise, familiarise, etc., rather than the more common recognize, familiarize, etc.

Why? Well, the short answer is that I'm an Anglophile. I really like the British way with the English language (after all, they invented it!). A beautiful woman with a British accent melts me every time. And in speech, I've noticed that we Americans don't often actually pronounce these words with the harsh "z" sound, but with a softer variant. So, I decided to adopt the more euphonious "s" instead.

Now, that doesn't mean I use words like pram and kerb. Nor do I eat steak and kidney pie, nor do I like cricket. And I still spell something I've won "prize." I just like the way "recognise" looks on the page and sounds in the mind's ear. So there you are.

A new experiment in political reporting is underway at Political State Reports. They are recruiting and publishing "grass roots level" reports from correspondents in all fifty states and from across the political and cultural spectrum. The idea is to give readers a closer, more diverse eye on the political doings across America, from people who are closer to the action.

Tennessee is represented by Bill Hobbs and LeanLeft. It's a fascinating experiment and well worth taking a look at.