Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bumper Sticker of the Day

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More on Pei Wei

Following up on this post from the other day, Mr. Roboto of Thursday Night Fever blogs on his experiences with the Nashville Pei Wei. His comparison to P.F. Chang lines up with my expectations.
News Not Fit to Print?

As far as I know, this incident never made the news, although you'd think such a high-profile scuffle in such a media-rich environment would.

The proprietary and exclusionary reaction by Greg Duckett is always disconcerting to hear in a public servant. It's not your office, it's mine. Don't forget that.

It's also amusing that Duckett thinks Roland "broke" a perfectly serviceable election system. It's obviously a mess, and we only know of the irregularities at one polling precinct! Imagine what a real investigation would turn up.

And don't forget that the local paper didn't do the groundwork on the story they broke about dead voters. Terry Roland did, and gave it to them. They only did confirmation work.

That's really sad. So much power in our local government, so many discrepancies and abuses, and so little investigatory prodding and poking by the folks who self-appointed themselves as your guardians.

It's like finding the guy who volunteered to take the first look-out shift sleeping on the job, or watching television instead of doing patrols.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Customer Service Hell

Possumblog relates a tale of explaining to the DSL people that his modem doesn't work. They beg to differ.

While you're there, read his recap of Monday's 24. Here's a taste:
Odd, but there's flaming debris all over the ground, yet none of the pretty streetlamps are busted.

Anyway, Jack shouts at the Russian Guy to try to make him live longer, which doesn't work all that great, then he shouts at Cowboy Curtis, who nods, then Jack leaves and talks on his cell phone.

Back at CTU, some weasel from DHS is trying to convince New Lady Boss to crush Gray Haired Boss and take over the whole world, and CTU, so that everything runs just as smoothly as the airport security system that allowed terrorists to dig a giant hole in a hangar floor at the airport and hide a bunch of nerve gas there in the first place.
Behind the Curtain at the CA

Pesky Fly as a peek into the publishing side of the Commercial Appeal under new publisher Joseph Pepe. Interesting stuff, and a pointer to an interview with Pepe in the print edition.

Flyguy argues that the early moves into community "editions" at the daily will accelerate under Pepe, since that's what he specialised at in his former gig in St. Louis. There's a financial logic, as Fly explains, but frankly it pisses me off to see the region's "paper of record" turned into a lot of Daily Shopper's Guides. I want to know what's going on all around me, not just within arm's each.

But, of course, it's not what the readers want -- or need -- but what sells profitable advertising. News? That's secondary at best, and I am beginning to be convinced that at the "new" CA it's tertiary. (That means third, for you Frayserites.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wednesday, Same As It Usually Is

Wednesday is Game Day, and I'll be away playing Epic at the Fanatic Games store today. We're getting started earlier than usual, so I may get in some blogging this evening.

As always, be good or be careful!
The New Democratic Slogan

OK, it's not one of my better works. I may return to it and try again later.

Memphis Has Musicians Like Picnics Have Ants

Or something like that. Go read Rachel's recount of her past week. She literally trips over amazing Memphis musicians without even trying!

How can we have such a dense and amazing pool of talent bubbling away here and so few local showcases and highlights for them that draw in regional and national interest? The Beale Street Music Fest does have some local music, but it's also heavily weighted to dinosaur bands and has-beens and "safe" choices. The city -- through the guise of the Convention & Visitor's Bureau, and the Music Commission -- keep plugging musicians and scenes that had their heyday decades ago while incredibly talented young men and women languish in unnecessary shadows.

The city has a vibrant club scene, the New Daisy, the Colisseum and then the Forum. Where's the mid-level venues? Why are the amphitheaters on Mud Island and in Overton Park being allowed to lie fallow? Where are the venues that seat say 800 to 3000 people? And why, oh why, were Hoops and the Grizzlies organisation ever, ever, given control of music venues, via their "right of refusal for non-compete" clause on the Forum?

We're just beginning to gear up for the outdoor festival season in Memphis. I happened on a student festival by the University of Memphis last Saturday and heard an astonishingly good young band called Roll Over Doctor. They couldn't have been more than 18, but already had a rudimentary grasp of the blues and did a smoking power-trio cover of "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group. If they hadn't set up and played outside the place I was in, I'd never have even heard of them!

Groups like these play the clubs and the festivals, get some attention and fans, and then... stumble. With the destruction of Easley it's harder for bands to get high quality cheap recording, but home computer equipment makes basic level access easier than ever. So how do these bands break out to the wider community? How do they get the local raves that draw in national labels?

True, the papers are really good about promoting local music, but reading about music (or bands) is, as Frank Zappa once noted, like dancing about architecture. You have to hear it, be exposed to it, be caught unawares in a receptive moment.

There's a necessary component we don't have, a connection not being made, that's hurting us.

I'd love to hear ideas about what's missing or not working right in the Memphis area that's holding down our modern music scene.
Should This Be Revoked?

After claiming white ancestry in USA TODAY, should Harold Ford Jr have this revoked?

Apologies to Linda'sOG, from which this was stolen and modified.
Duped Yet Again

Various illegal immigrant groups are calling for a boycott to protest the immigration bills working their way through Congress, to build on the protests of two weekends ago and build movement power.

But how many of these people understand they are dupes of International ANSWER? ANSWER is the front group behind the anti-war protests of the past three years. The first year's protests were large, but just two years later and the protests were miniscule, barely newsworthy. ANSWER, seeking ways to undermine and discredit the Bush administration, realised they needed something new to get attention for themselves and latched onto the illegal immigrant issue.

You can read about ANSWER here. They have as a major founder and activist one Ramsey Clark. You've seen him on television news, invariably described as "former Attorney General." Never mind that was forty years ago, and for only a few years. Never mind that he was hired as AG in order to force his father off the Supreme Court to make way for a Johnson pick. Never mind that Clark resigned because he thought the Johnson administration not liberal enough.

Clark has also been in the news the past three years, if you look closely, as the paid, official lobbyist for Saddam Hussein in Washington, DC. He went to Iraq just before the invastion to stand in solidarity with Hussein before fleeing back to safe soil when the invasion started. Clark is now on the legal team defending Hussein in his trial. You've noticed that Hussein has had hunger strikes, fainting spells, court outbursts requiring his removal, etc., etc. lately? That's Clark's doing, because he learned his tactics from the Sixties radicals and the children since.

As I said, ANSWER is an organising front group. They work in the background to mount protests and then claim credit for the work of others to promote themselves. They are a front for the Workers World Party, a full-on anti-imperialist, anti-West, pro-Stalinist radical Communist group:
Ideologically, the WWP is an interesting fusion of Trotskyism and several other branches of communism. WWP continues to make available the writings of many historic communists including Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao. The inclusion of Stalin and Mao along with Trotsky in a communist party is unusual, and is possibly unique to WWP. Most Trotskyist organizations seek out international affiliations, but WWP has organized solely in the United States....

Within the U.S. communist movement, WWP's politics are extremely unusual and controversial. Politically, the WWP agrees with Trotsky's description of pre-1991 Russia as being a "degenerated workers' state," and their political line extends that description to countries such as Cuba, North Korea and China. But members of the party also use the term socialist to describe those states, and they often support these states more energetically than do most other communist parties. The WWP also supports Iraq and Libya as countries they consider victims of U.S. imperialism — though it should be noted that WWP does not describe either of those two states as being socialist. The party also has a controversial position regarding the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, which it describes as "a battle, not a massacre."

Most controversially of all, however, the WWP has defended Slobodan Miloševi? and Saddam Hussein against attacks from both the right and the left. Notably, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, founder of the International Action Center, is in Iraq as of December 2005 acting as a consult to Hussein's defense team. Clark also spoke sympathetically of Miloševi? at his funeral in March 2006, telling the crowd, "History will prove that Slobodan Miloševi? was right."
This is the group powering the group that's organising the protests against immigration. I doubt 5% of the protesters are even aware of this.

It's not for nothing that they chose May 1, or May Day, as the day of the protests. It's the international worker's day, and was widely celebrated as the day of victory for worker's revolutions in the former communist countries. It's a Monday, the beginning of the news week, and not Friday, Cinqo de Mayo, the popular Mexican holiday at the end of the news cycle.

Go to the Web -- and not cable or network news, which will be scrubbed of such distractions -- to get pictures from the marches. You will see a lot of anti-Bush posters, anti-war posters, in the crowd. You'll also see lots of red and yellow, the flag colors of communist countries. Watch for Casto and Hugo Chavez on posters, as well as Che.

Something else to watch for will be the odd spread. The biggest protests will be in the Southwest and in California. Florida will seem strangely quiet. That's because most Florida immigrants are from Cuba, deep in South America and the Hispanic Caribbean, and are anti-communist and pro-capitalism, not anti-American.

Watch also in New York, where the protests will be smaller than elsewhere due to the influx and dominance of Puerto Ricans (or Nuyoricans, as they call themselves) and Caribbean Hispanics and blacks. Those protests will, I'd guess, be much more anti-Bush political than elsewhere, too. ANSWER's political base is strong there.

It's very sad that this group gets almost no attention in the national press or media coverage, given how important they've been to organising and how explicitly anti-American their agenda is. But now you are armed and prepared to examine what's going on critically.

Don't let the mainstream media fool and brainwash you. Be prepared.

INSTANT UPDATE: You can read more on ANSWER's role in the protests in this story from today's Washington Times, and learn a bit more on their background (from 2003) here.
Advice Sought

Real life buddy and blogger Conservative Zone Mark is losing some of the wind in his blogging sails. Head on over and read this post and, if you have any advice to offer, please do so.
Anniversary Par-tay

A certain newspaper blogger is celebrating his two-year anniversary his favorite way -- spinning records:
That's right; it's been two whole years since I took over The Memphis Scene blog from the former Bonnie Brantley and built it into a digital powerhouse, a daily must-read for literally dozens (OK, maybe tens) of Memphians all over the galaxy.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I will do what I do every Thursday: drink beer and play weird music really loud at
dish. Your presence is highly encouraged. Stop by especially if you're going to the Asobi Seksu show across the skreet at the Smeli Deli.

Come on out, say hello, have some drinks, maybe shake your booty a little bit. J-HARMONIC and I got your backs on the serious tunage (we play everything from 70s jazz-funk to 80s no-wave to 00s broken beat). $5 gets you an ice cold bucket of six pony Miller Hi-Lifes, and there's never a cover charge. For a nominal fee, I'll be happy to autograph print-outs of your all-time favorite Memphis Scene posts.
Be there or be square!

Seriously, Mark is a really nice guy. I've met him at blogger bashes and around town. He should be on a Las Savell sign!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Quote of the Day

When you meet a swordsman, draw your sword. Do not recite poetry to one who is not a poet.
Bonus Quote for the Day

Do not be greedy for population, or the common people will run from you. Do not build huge castles and moats, or the common people will tire of you. When taxes are unfair, the poor grow poorer day by day. When punishments and awards are arbitrary and discriminatory, the rich grow richer day by day. When regulations and prohibitions are not observed in practice, then the state crumbles.

If officials and functionaries lack ability, they lose the proper measure of leniency and sternness. They may even struggle with the common people for their own profit and advantage. Because of this, craft and deceit arise, which make people treacherous and unpredictable.

Now then, when the ruled are unpredictable, the rulers are suspicious and when the rulers are suspicious, the ruled increase in confusion. Once the ruled are confused, the officials weary of their tasks. When officials weary of their tasks, then awards are not adequate for motivation, and punishments are not adequate for deterrence. It is easy to cause a stir, hard to bring calm. This state of affairs is due to failure to find the right people for office.

The most essential thing in the art of government is to screen personnel.
From The Master of the Hidden Storehouse, a classic of Chinese literature read and studied by Chinese leaders for 2000 years, as translated by Thomas Cleary. (Source of the previous quote.)

What's old is new again, huh?
Ethics Reform Already Dead

The "sweeping" "new" ethics "reform" legislation signed by Governor Phil Bredesen isn't even two months old and already he's break ing ethics law!
Summer, Followed by Spring

The previous week's weather was humid and warm. Mostly humid. It was worst of all on Saturday when being outside felt like a Memphis summer: sticky, unpleasant to do anything in. Like a big ol' hug by your fat, sweaty aunt who's a little bit too friendly.

And then there's today: slightly chill but beautifully sunny and breezy. A perfect early spring day. Just gorgeous, in spite of last night's horrifying weather elsewhere.

I just can't decide which is the harbinger of this coming summer: the weekend or today. I'm hoping it's today.
Nashville is Talking... About Memphis!

Last week, Half-Bakered got added to the News Aggregator feed over at Nashville Is Talking, a blog that's part of the WRKN/2 news experiment.

WKRN/2 is the Nashville news station that's gone with the new "VJ" revolution: one reporter, no cameraman; the reporter is given a high-quality video camera, a laptop and the necessary software. They are one-man bands, meaning any station can now field more reporters for the same money!

You can read Jamey Tucker's for more on that side of the experiment. Jamey, many of you may recall, was an anchor for WREG/3 in Memphis for many years. He's also from my hometown, Huntsville, Alabama. Jamey takes you behind the scenes.

WKRN/2 also encourages its staff to operate their own blogs, even to the News Director! (Shades of the late, lamented Peg Phillip's blog.) The station has a stable of blogs from all over the newsroom, serving different purposes and needs. It's a very forward-looking operation over there, and one that's being watched closely by newsrooms all over the state, including Memphis.

But Nashville is Talking is the real difference. Brittney Gilbert works out of the newsroom, but she's otherwise given free rein to blog as she wishes. She spends the day scouring Tennessee (although mostly Nashville) blogs and newsites for interesting or important stuff to link to. She takes a national issue, then looks to see what Tennesseans are saying about it.

There's no getting around Brittney's liberal politics and sympathies. They are right there. She's slightly defensive about it, but not apologetic. Nor does she feel the need to "balance" what she writes or posts to. Her blog is what it is; take it or leave it. That's a refreshing attitude and I welcome it. But to give her proper due, she does make an effort to be even handed in presenting stories and views.

And WKRN/2 has just started another blog:, run by political conservative A.C. Kleinheider. It aims to become a "one stop shop" for news of the upcoming 2006 elections here in Tennessee. He's got his work cut out for him, but seems to relish the task ahead.

I stand in awe of what WKRN is attempting here. It's an impressive rethinking of what it means to be a "news source" in the digital age. It's a huge gamble that, if it succeeds, may destroy the business model its profits are built on. I've been watching them and hoping they do find the route to the future.

Is anyone here in Memphis television even attempting something like this? Or are they all so locked into the traditional ratings and prestige races that they can't look up to see the wall they are racing towards? Are they waiting for some sign of which direction to move before committing themselves? Are they just afraid?

Anyway, I'm honored that NiT thinks Half-Bakered is worth sharing with their readers. They're providing a noticeable bump in site traffic, which I welcome. They, along with the new Memphis Flyer site redesign are showing up regularly in my referrer logs nowadays.

So, thanks Brittney. I just hope y'all can handle all this greasy Memphis funk.
What the Hell Is This?

Here's something emblematic of one of some of the problems assailing the "refocused" Commercial Appeal under Editor Chris Peck. Read this thing and answer this question for me:

Is it an ad or is it a story?
Digging Through to Find the Story

A story on gangs in today's Commercial Appeal embodies some of what I dislike in the "new" daily newspaper, so let's take a look at it.

It divides into thirds rather neatly. The first third is filler, lots of heart-tugging stuff about a father and his son, now dead because of gangs. Feels good, less filling.

The middle section is an info-dump. Lots of facts about gang names and numbers (4000 - 5000 juvenile members!). But what's missing, as usual, is context and trend. Are the numbers of students in gangs growing? We're told that gang incidents are on the rise. How much, how bad, how long? Absent a sense of meaning, the numbers don't help much.

According to the Memphis City Schools, they have roughly 120,000 students. According to the story, there's roughly 5,000 gang members. That's less than 4%! And this is a problem, why?

The story has no discussion of what's being done. Nor is there any mention of a connection, if there is one as many suspect, between the new "no physical discipline" rules and the increase in school violence.

Then the last part of the story is a brief look at one father-figure / mentor, who was also the preacher at the slain student's (mentioned at the start of the story) funeral. I'm sure the wirter is quite pleased with herself for looping the story back around as she did. His presence is an allusion to one needed component of reducing this problem: a strong male in young men's lives. The story points out that this man has gone down the same road as many of the kids, but lived to regret his actions, and has now changed his ways.

That's all well and good, but he could have been a separate story, fleshed out, instead of taking space from some needed context. That's what I'd want to read from the daily: hard information, not soft feel-goodery.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Thought on Flag Waving

With the recent protests against immigration controls by illegal (and occasionally legal) immigrants, there's been a lot of flag waving, by illegals waving the Mexican flag.

So, when Americans wave American flags why is it suddenly offensive speech?

But more importantly, where are the folks who immediately jump up and get excited defending the rights of folks to burn the flag? Why are they not now also defending the right of free speech in waving a flag?

Can someone explain the silence and the difference, especially someone who has supported the ACLU (conspicuously silent so far) previously?
Many Words, Little Said

A Saturday Commercial Appeal editorial seems to me to be a lot of words in search of a point, and rather pointedly dancing around what they want to say.

It tackles a weeks-old story they did where the Memphis City Schools are asking for more than a million dollars to add to the millions already being spent on the Blue Ribbon program to end school violence without corporal punishment.

Even the CA is forced to admit:
Keeping order at the school was one of the frustrations described in an interview by White Station High School principal Wanda Winnette, retiring after nine years at the helm of the district's premier college preparatory school.

"Any high school principal will tell you this has been our roughest year with fights, discipline and gang activity," she said.
Dr. Carol Johnson, the superintendent, blames first-year implementation problems for this. The CA rather hilariously goes for several paragraphs using the old tried'n'true poverty and single-parent households as targets of blame.

They also write:
Teachers and school administrators are being asked in many cases to assume roles traditionally played by parents because in many cases single parents are either too stressed for the time or lack the authority to set the limits that children need.

It is little wonder that the school board's decision to ban corporal punishment in 2004 has produced skepticism and doubt about new school discipline methods. Educators are taking on tasks that many of the parents and grandparents of the current crop of schoolchildren never would have imagined.
Please. Kids acting up, rejecting schools and society, joining gangs, experimenting with adult substances, listening to dismaying music, none of this is new. Remember Blackboard Jungle and High School Confidential, and hundreds of other B-movies from the Fifties?

We knew then what we know today. But can you imagine the uproar if the schools tried to teach that kids having kids was shameful? That kids who do objectionable behaviors must be shunned, shamed, and set aside? That parents of bad kids are bad parents?

Oh yeaaaaahhhh.... That would be a nuclear bomb for sure.

If people want to be selfish, be bad parents, dump their kids and problems on others, why do we let them?

Come to think of it, in a city overwhelmingly black, with a school system nearly all black, why do we do bussing? Why not return to neighborhood schools?

There are a lot of clear but hard choices that need to be made, carried through and implemented. No one wants to do that, either for cowardly political reasons or misguided ideological ones.

From the final years of the Herenton administration of the school system, through the train wreck of the House years, to the muddle of the Watson years, we have lost uncountable thousands of children who are becoming lost adults with little hope. Dr. Johnson is a PC administrator who is following the example of previous administrators in misleading the public and keeping eyes out of things that bear scrutiny.

For one thing, watch how the No Child Left Behind numbers get reported this year. It will be like last: no context with previous years; no hard data; lots of bland "doing better" / "needing help" meaningless ratings.

Memphis is probably two generations away from solving the problems we have right now. We must wait for the teenagers and recent school departees of today to age and pass away. We need to start now making serious and hard choices to fix things.

But I don't hold my breath. Part of the problem is the people charged with fixing it -- school teachers and administrators -- and charged with reporting honestly and independently on those people -- reporters.
They Have a Sense of Humor, I See

Sunday's Commercial Appeal had an article on the County Commission races that had a funny in it!
Thanks to the Tennessee Supreme Court, most of the faces of those elected this year to the 13-member Shelby County Commission are guaranteed to be new ones.
Harharhar. My bet is that most of those faces will be people well known from previous positions, not truly "new" faces.

Some may not be publicly recognisable faces (but then, how many of you would know Cleo Kirk or Tom Moss if you passed them on the street?) but they will be well known -- and therefore well-vetted -- in Democratic or Republican circles. Too many gravy trains in risk of being stopped to let just anyone get into office.

There's also this rather silly observation:
Political observers, however, point out that the commission will give up vast institutional knowledge and political experience with the exit of its three most senior members.
Ummm... that's why there are staffs! You know, the bureacracy that never seems to go away. They will carry forward the institutional knowledge, unless the new faces are smart enough to counter the expected "That's not how we do things around here" with a sharp "This is how we do things from now on."

Change may be painful but it good and necessary. I really don't believe a community benefits when someone holds onto a local office like the County Commission for twenty or thirty years. I suspect the person who benefits most is the office holder.

And what does this tell you:
Five incumbents on the commission have already effectively won re-election. They drew no opposition at the filing deadline in February.
It tells me that we have two political parties more interested in their own selves than in serving their communities. Surprises happen all the time. What if one of those incumbents suddenly had a personal reason for dropping out? Or was caught red-handed in criminal malfeasance? Where is the person there from the other party ready to catch the dropped ball?

Where is the outreach? Where are the people trying to explore ideas that appeal to the other voters? Testing out the waters, so to speak; conducting experiments to see where the other party is weak and exploitable?

Feh, I say. Democrats and Republicans, at least in their West Tennessee incarnations, are far more concerned with self-protection and self-benefit than with party service for the long run.
Compare & Contrast: Newspaper Editorial Division

Up in Missouri, a high school is embroiled in controversy over flags in schools. Not Mexican or American national flags, but student group banners, from the "Diversity Club" and the "Traditional Values Club." The local paper
weighs in Solomonically with interesting results.

First, let me ask you. If you see a banner on a car, or a flag, or a t-shirt, or in a window, that has a rainbow on it (not accompanied by unicorns or Care Bears or hearts or Irish leprechans) what do you first associate it with? Gay rights, of course.

Here's how the Livingston Press & Argus editors describe the controversy:
The flap can be traced to a diversity flag placed in the high school by the student Diversity Club. Because it has a rainbow design — and because it appeared in response to a state ballot issue that was seen by some as anti-homosexual — the flag is seen by some adults in the community as an endorsement of homosexuality.
"Seen by some" is newspaper-weasel speak "small group of complainer and nuts." The editors want you to think that what is a chain of causality is merely a sequence of events. No reaction on the part of some students to perceived mistreatment by others.

Notice the flag was "placed," a value-neutral term. Notice that no one acted, it was all "because." Just happened, no actors. Must be magic!

Now let's compare descriptions of clubs. First, the Diversity Club:
...[C]lub and school officials insist the rainbow represents diversity in all its glory and is not some sort of subversive attempt to promote a gay agenda.
Notice the conflation of the club and the school. Note that the writers don't scare quote the "subversive attempt" but reduce it to reasonableness within a sentence constructed to make the Diversity Club the defenders against attacks. The status quo ante to the reactionary TVC.

Now, the Traditional Values Club:
...[A] small student group — which says it promotes traditional values — earned club status, which means it will be able to hang its flag in the hall.

The new flag carries a lowercase red "T," which both stands for "traditional" and is a not-so-subtle reference to the Christian cross. Some people, especially about 40 teachers, are upset because they see this as a violation of the separation of church and state.
Notice that it was the "student Diversity Club," implying outgrowth from the student body, natural and organic, and further implying size and approval from the "student body." No mention of the size of the DC. The TVC, however, is pointedly described as "small," to the point the editors feel compelled to note it has four members. It is made a discrete (as in separated from the student body) unit, unrelated and of itself.

The DC has "club and school officials insist" on their belief, which is never quite stated directly but happily described for them by the paper as "diversity in all its glory," while the TVC has its mission reduced to "which it says promotes traditional values...." The DC position is natural and obvious, the TVC position must be "said," "promoted."

The editorial twice describes the DC banner as "seen by some," a marginalising tool for critics. The TVC banner is called by the editors "a not-so-subtle reference to the Christian cross." Criticism of the DC banner must be made by "some" while the criticism of the TVC banner is handled by the editors and their omniscient, all-encompassing POV.
If the Traditional Values Club meets the same criteria as the Diversity Club — securing a faculty adviser, for instance, and not barring students from membership — then it has the same rights.
Note that the editors are happy to handicap the TVC by employing an "if [the club] meets the same criteria, then..." construction as though there is doubt here. The DC is solid and is the point of comparison from which the TVC is made questionable, even though the editorial earlier made clear that it is an accredited school club! Clever writing meant to cast differing weights to the participants. You might not even be aware of it, unless you paid careful attention.

Nope, no bias or sympathies hidden here! The Pharisees of the Press & Argus don't even know those Roman governors, much less want to appease and kowtow to them. Nope, not at all!

Now let's put some separated paragraphs together in reverse order and see how they read in light of the above:
Protesting the traditional values flag merely re-inforces the belief by some that the educational community picks and chooses the rights it defends....

The issues facing the Howell Public Schools district are great. State funding is too low, the budget isn't balanced, and there will likely be increased graduation demands.

So, of course, much of the media attention is focused on what flags can hang on the halls of the high school.

It's got to be frustrating for school officials who would likely rather spend their time on topics such as, say, curriculum improvement.
An interesting point is now made, isn't it? Maybe the public sees an underlying mode of thought it finds abhorrent in teachers and administrators and school board members that it feels should be addressed first, by which other problems may find their solutions follow? Maybe those teachers and administrators aren't operating as their public wishes?

And lastly, there's this:
Teachers making a stink about the flag are giving the club — which only has about four members — a weight greater than it perhaps deserves.
Ahhhh, yes. The truth is outed, to borrow a term. If the teachers had just kept quiet, the TVC would have faded away under the pressure of the teacher / administrator-backed DC. The "diversity agenda" would have continued, unbothered and unnoticed by the larger community. All would be well again.

And for all their high-minded talk of "teachable moments" and First Amendment rights of expression that, I suspect, was the editors' real concern here.
Your State Government at Work

I'll let the Tennessean tell it:
Until three weeks ago, the state's emergency management agency employed a prison inmate to oversee its purchasing and for a time did not restrict his access to a storage area where guns were kept, The Tennessean has learned.

The inmate, Daniel D. Erickson, is serving eight years for trying to hire a hit man to help him kill his wife. His wife alleged in divorce papers that the 2001 murder plot was aimed at fraudulently collecting a $225,000 life insurance policy after he got into financial trouble.... Erickson was disbarred as a lawyer as a result of his crime.
Oh, but that's not all:
TEMA officials provided Erickson with a state cell phone and a state vehicle so he could go to the post office and act as a courier between the agency's two Nashville offices. He had an annual state salary of $26,000.

Erickson's employment with TEMA abruptly ended three weeks ago when an anonymous tip led state Correction Department officials to investigate his use of the cell phone and vehicle.

State Correction Commissioner George Little said the investigation found that the Correction Department had never granted Erickson permission to use the TEMA-issued cell phone.

Correction had granted him permission to use the state vehicle, but the investigation found he was driving places he had not been authorized to go.
So how did he get this job? Who did he know and who supported him?
State personnel records list his address as a home on East Thompson Lane in Nashville that is the residence of another TEMA employee, Bill Cooper. Cooper was responsible for hiring Erickson and is listed as his supervisor on a Department of Correction work-release form.

Erickson ranked fourth on the employment register among the handful of people who interviewed for the job, officials said. New state workers can be picked from among the top five candidates, state Personnel Department spokeswoman Lola Potter said.

There are no blanket rules about hiring felons in state government, Potter said. Each state department has its own specific rules on who may or may not be hired, she said.

TEMA never did a background check on Erickson because he wasn't in a job that required a security clearance or any sort of access to sensitive information from the federal level, Bassham said. Erickson disclosed his felony conviction on his job application, state records show.

TEMA is part of the state Military Department, headed by state National Guard chief Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett Jr. His son, Tre' Hargett, is a state representative from Bartlett, the Memphis suburb where Erickson had a law practice at the time he hatched the murder plot.

Tre' Hargett said he knew Erickson's name but was not familiar with him. "I don't think he was real active in the community," he said Friday.
Yeah, prison has that effect on social activities.

It's a bit of of a hobby with me to trace all the interconnections of poltical offices and family/friends of office holders. We see the connection between Hargetts here, but what about Bill Cooper. I know Cooper is a fairly common name, but could he be any relation to State Senator "Railroad" Jerry Cooper or US Congressman Jim Cooper? I'm curious.