Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Speaker Has No Clothes!

Lt. Governor John Wilder is repositioning his statements from the floor of the State Senate last Thursday. He now says he's just angry that entrapment was used against his fellows.

Wilder's upset is particular and hypocritical. The TBI and County Sheriff's departments have been using entrapment in drug stings for decades. Combined with RICO prosecutions and seizure-and-forfeiture laws, stings are a lucrative business for Tennessee law enforcement. Wilder has shown exactly zero interest in that aspect of entrapment, but let it get near his "family" and whoa! Suddenly he's angry.

Let me digress a moment to deal with the trend in modern America to make our workmates into "family." The people we work with are not family, as our places of work are not our homes. Your boss is not your parent. Work is work and family is family. We have perfectly serviceable words like "coworker" and "colleagues" for the people we work with. To pretend that the accidents of place and employment approximate the unbreakable bonds of blood and commitment that are the marks of family is ludicrous and dangerous.

Anyway, This doddering old fool would not have been Speaker but for two foolish Republicans who backed him over their party and the tides of change coming to Tennessee. Get rid of them and then we can get rid of him. Wilder had to use sleazy lowball tactics in his last election to defeat his opponent, so he knows he's weak. Let's knock him off.

The Commercial Appeal has a weak-as-tea editorial that spends a lot of space to eventually bleat that Wilder should "apologise." For saying what he obviously believes? For saying what a lot of Americans agree with, that entrapment is fundamentally unfair and should only be used sparingly? For placing a higher value on his colleagues than on the rule of law? None of what he expressed is new, it's just been spelled out in words on the record and seen by a lot of Tennesseans -- so that it cannot be swept under the rug of media blindness -- rather than being manifest in his actions over the decades.

And, once again, the Miami connection rears its ugly head:
Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson said he was offered a trip to meet with company officials in Miami. Memphis City Schools board member Michael Hooks Jr. said he was offered a chance to go on a cruise with company officials while he was in Miami on business.
Talk about hide in plain sight! When, oh when! will someone take a look at this Miami clue just lying right there in front of us? If it's a red herring, let's fillet it and be done. But if it's a marker of further connections, then let's investigate and see where they lead. Does it lead, as I and others believe, to Harold Ford, Sr.? To repeatedly mention it, but not look into it, is to lead readers to believe that the Commercial Appeal knows something they don't want to talk about.

This editorial also gives Thompson and Hooks a pat on the head for being "ethical." Given that Hooks is widely rumored to be in the next set of indictments generally assumed to be coming, that he put out a statement of innocence with no provocation other than those rumors (only he and his father have done so), and that his name comes up repeatedly in strange ways in the Tennessee Waltz investigation (including the murky Miami connection), what is the Commercial Appeal signalling?

The Commercial Appeal has a long history of being part of the establishment and not part of the wider community when it comes to politics. Their shameful partisanship during the NBA Now! drive to finance the FedUp Forum and their blind support of Mayor Herenton are but two recent examples. The paper seems content these days to follow the work of others and not blaze investigative trails of their own. They have a top-drawer bulldog in Marc Perrusquia but he seems to be deployed mostly against the Fords of late. Make his brief the wider Tennessee Waltz story and he'd likely do wonders. The TW investigation has left a lot of pointers, now it's their job -- no, their journalistic and civic duty -- to shine their light into those corners and let their readers see what's lurking in them.

Don't tag along. Get out front for a change.

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