Saturday, September 20, 2008

Walk Like A Pirate Day

While the rest of online world will be urging you to keep this day as 'talk like a pirate day', this year I've decided it would be more fun to walk like a pirate. Sure, it's a challenge, but so is the life o' pirating.

How can you walk like a pirate?

- Pretend to have a peg leg. Make a thonking sound each time you take a hitched step. Also ask strangers if they've seen the cursed beast that swallowed your leg.

- Walk with a hobbled step and curse a lot. Claim a bilge rat bit your toes off as you slept.

- Store your socks in a bucket of rotting meat and seawater for a few weeks and then wear them. Without shoes.

- Put a live (or dead) fish down your pants.

- Perform a "broadside blast". To do this, eat several platefuls of beans, and when you feel good and gassy, stroll down the sidewalk and then bend over and aim your hindparts at strangers and yell out "Prepare to fire all guns!!!"

Those are just a few examples. Next year, we'll celebrate Caulk Like A Pirate Day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Famed Songwriter Norman Whitfield Dies

His name is hardly a household word -- but the words and music Norman Whitfield made for so many innovative and historic performers are part of the fabric of American memory and will live on for many. many years to come. The following is but a short sample of the music he helped create. Farewell, old friend, and thank you so much for all the incredible joy you added to our world.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

McCain-Palin Block Ethics Investigation

A seldom reported fact, actually a host of them, which clearly show how much Gov. Palin fits into the Bush-Cheney style of government is covered extensively in the Alaskan blog Mudflats.

Alaskans know corruption. They know what it feels like to be kicked in the teeth by their elected representatives. They recognize the signs of guilt, and the twisting and squirming, like a bug on a pin, that our corrupt politicians display when the heat gets turned up. This is not new. We’ve danced this dance more times than we care to admit in the last two years. But this one was supposed to be different. THIS one was supposed to be “clear and transparent.” THIS one stood up there in her lipstick and her red blazer, and her mantle of change and said, “Hold me accountable.”

We know what’s tainted this investigation, and ‘taint the Democrats.

Prior to being picked as Sen. McCain's number two, she was adamant that a bi-partisan panel was the best way to resolve the conflicts surrounding the way she handled business in her office when she decided to boot some officials for not following her marching orders. The event got a nifty media title of "Troopergate" and true to the Bush-Cheney (and McCain) style, now she and Sen. McCain are working double-time to either silence all the hearings or delay them until after the November election.

Some excerpts from Mudflats:

It’s silly season up here in the far north, but this week’s moves are aimed at one thing: John McCain’s effort to find cover for being disingenuous. See, before Governor Palin’s nomination for the Republican VP spot, she did the honest thing. She admitted the evidence - of roughly 20 contacts between her staff and husband with Public Safety officials, seeking the firing of Governor Palin’s former brother-in-law - might lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that the she misused her office to fire a state employee. So when Alaska’s Republican-led Legislature called for an investigation, she did the honorable thing and said she and her staff would comply. She denies any wrongdoing.

Things changed on August 29 when Governor Palin was added to the McCain ticket. Since then his handlers have told her she can’t testify. They don’t want the evidence in this case to come out. They don’t want her to testify under oath. They don’t want other witnesses to testify under oath. So they have engaged in daily maneuvers to attack, as disloyal to the McCain campaign, anyone who wants the investigation to move forward. They’ve now attacked two well respected prosecutors, and perhaps the state’s most highly regarded law enforcement official - the Public Safety Commissioner she hired, and then fired, Walt Monegan.

Every day this week McCain operatives have sung the same tune. Today a guy with an East Coast accent, who knows nothing about Alaska, stood in front of a McCain-Palin banner to lead the attacks against people he doesn’t know. At press conferences on Monday and Tuesday campaign staffer Megan Stapleton spit vitriol to repeat her argument that this investigation is really a “Democratic” attack on Governor Palin.

See, that’s easier than just saying their VP has reneged on her promise to testify. It’s easier than just saying they don’t want anyone testifying before the November election. It’s easier than admitting they are stonewalling a legislative investigation.

Here are a few things they failed to say. There are a few small facts that make it hard to style this as a Democratic investigation. One is that Alaska is a Republican State. We have a Republican Governor and a Legislature of 34 Republicans and 26 Democrats. This summer the Legislature’s Legislative Council voted 12-0 (8 Republicans and 4 Democrats) to hire an investigator, and appointed Democratic Senator Hollis French, a well-respected former prosecutor, to find an investigator. Governor Palin stated she and her employees would comply with the investigation. French then hired Steve Branchflower, a former DA who most recently was hired by legislative Republicans to run the state’s Office of Victims rights.

And on Friday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 (2 Democrats and 1 Republican in favor); and the House Judiciary Committee issued a 7 - 0 (5 Republicans, 2 Democrats) advisory vote, to issue subpoenas to witnesses the McCain camp had previously stopped from testifying.

Over the last two days McCain’s outside operatives have vilified former prosecutor Hollis French - as an Obama supporter who must have called this investigation to hurt the McCain ticket. But French was appointed to oversee the investigation by a 12 - 0 Legislative Council vote, and is probably the state’s most respected legislator - by Republicans and Democrats alike. He’s so popular the Republican Party couldn’t find anyone to run against him this year.

They’ve called former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan - a Native Alaskan who has served Republican and Democratic Administrations with honor, and put his life on the line in uniform - “insubordinate.” Odd, given that when Governor Palin fired him she offered him a different job. I guess being “insubordinate” was a job requirement for the new position. And they’ve challenged the independence of an investigator and former DA, who has no animus anyone can find.

Those Swift boat ads taught the McCain folks that if you say something untrue enough times, it can stick.

My favorite moment of the week came when Governor Palin’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss Palin’s ethics complaint against herself. Stay with me. Her attorneys have been buying the peyote, not me. See, on August 29 they needed to find a way to stop the Legislature’s investigation. They tried asking the Republican leaders to call it off, and take one for the team. But the Senate President and others honorably said no. So they came up with an argument that the State Personnel Board - 3 people appointed by Governor Palin and her Republican predecessor Frank Murkowski - had “exclusive jurisdiction” to investigate wrongdoing by the Governor. The Legislature wasn’t amused. So Governor Palin then filed a complaint against herself.

That, they said, put “jurisdiction” in the hands of their friends at the Personnel Board. They argued that since the Personnel Board was now proceeding with an “investigation”, the Legislature couldn’t.

To put icing on the cake, on Monday the Governor’s attorneys moved to dismiss the Governor’s case against herself. They said, and I loosely paraphrase again - that they tried really hard and just couldn’t find any evidence that the Governor did anything wrong. OK. I can’t believe I just wrote that. And I wish it weren’t true.

These are the things you have to do when your Presidential candidate doesn’t want his VP to honor a promise, and doesn’t want evidence to come out before an election. These are the things you have to do if your folks aren’t going to comply with a subpoena. That’s because without spin the headline might read: “McCain Interferes With Investigation Palin Agreed To.” How easy it is to re-write a headline. They learned that during the Swift boat campaign too.

All we can hope for is that members of the press will remember what they learned in journalism school. Not to repeat the spin of political operatives without reporting the truth. Not to write “he said she said” stories, and pretend the truth is somewhere in the middle. But to report the facts. No matter how you spin it, Governor Palin promised to comply with this Legislative Investigation. McCain’s folks got her to change her position. And the Legislature that voted for the investigation did so on a bi-partisan basis. End of story. End of headline.

Is a rock-solid stand that an elected official is above the law the slogan for the Republican party?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

State To OK More Fees For Open Records

A couple of headlines today claim the Voice of the Public was heeded regarding charging fees to access public records in Tennessee -- sounds like a win, doesn't it?

It isn't.

You will be charged for any requests for copies you seek according to "new statewide guidelines." Costs range from 20 to 50 cents per copy.

And you'll also be charged additional fees on a by-the-hour basis if your requests takes more than two hours to fill that request. Wanna bet how many hours that request of yours will take to fill? Two hours, minimum/ Probably more.

"It's better than nothing," said Frank Gibson of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. Yeah and not getting a stick in the eye is better than getting a stick in the eye.

So maybe I need to adopt some new guidelines too - anytime a business or agency requests to see a copy of any of my IDs or any other of the various forms requested by officials -- you'll have to pay me a dollar just to see it. Want to make a copy of it? That will be $10. In a shrinking economy, the time you are making me spend to fill your request is time lost from valuable work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Other Political Phrases To Be Avoided

In hopes of rectifying the sticky problems of uttering words and phrases which may be deemed obscene, sexist, or otherwise downright distasteful (aka "lipstick on a pig"), here's a partial lists of words/phrases to be avoided for the next few political months:

let's run it up the flagpole
fluffing the pillows
tapping the keg
wanna use my laptop?
frosting the pastry
wanna share my cinnabun?
time to press the flesh
I'll use my veto pen
let's blow this joint
do you feel me?
get your arms around it
hump day
Google me
I'll leave you with something to chew on
let me pencil it in
I've met with real Americans
It's a witch hunt

Monday, September 15, 2008

Minimal Fine In TN For Gas Price Ripoffs; States Issue Subpoenas

A minimal slap on the wrist for gas price gouging, according Tennessee law cited here:

Also under Tennessee law, the state does not have to be in a state of emergency for price gouging to be illegal here. For example, although Hurricane Ike hit Texas, Knoxville gas stations caught price gouging will be fined $1,000 per violation. "

Pilot Oil is being investigated says the above report from WATE-TV.

Meanwhile, in that states of FL, AL, AR, GA, KY, N.C., S.C.and TX they have issued subpoenas as part of their investigations. More news stories here.

Will Your Votes Be Counted?

Deep divisions in viewpoints, talking points, the comedy of tepid campaign ads -- all this, says Robert F. Kennedy Jr. points to worthwhile points to ponder and some advice and commentary on how much our nation has changed, and changed for the worse:

And I remember the day after 9/11, when the headline on the biggest newspaper in France, Le Monde, was “We’re All Americans Now.” And for three weeks after 9/11, thousands of Muslim people came out spontaneously onto the streets of Tehran to make candlelight vigils to show their support, their solidarity, their love for the United States of America. We were the most beloved nation on the face of the earth and in the history of mankind.

And it took 230 years of disciplined visionary leadership by Republican and Democratic presidents to build up those vast reservoirs of public love for our country. And in seven short years, through monumental arrogance and incompetence, this White House has drained those reservoirs dry. We are now, according to virtually every poll, the most hated nation and feared nation on earth. And anybody who says that it’s good for our national security when European youth, as a recent poll showed, hold Osama bin Laden in the same regard as they hold President Bush, and anybody who believes it’s good for our national security when Hezbollah is as popular in the Mideast as America has their head in an oil well.

You know, Abraham Lincoln said America—we’re doing things today that were inconceivable a few years ago. We’re torturing people in America. We’re eavesdropping on our citizens. We are having extraordinary renditions. We’ve suspend habeas corpus. We have these black prisons. And, you know, Abraham Lincoln said that America is a good nation—is a great nation, because we’re a good nation. And he warned that if we ever lose our goodness, we’ll quickly forfeit our greatness as well.

You know, people say in the White House that we have to do these things, because we’re under such terrible threat. But that’s a lie. When I was a little boy, we had 25,000 nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at our country from the Soviet Union with one guy able to press a button and vaporize most of our population. And we weren’t torturing people and eavesdropping on our citizens and suspending habeas corpus. During the Civil War, 659,000 Americans died. Our cities were burned and occupied by foreign—by hostile armies. And we didn’t engage in those kind of behaviors.

You know, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was approached by his generals with the idea of torturing British soldiers to extract strategic information. At that time, the British were torturing our soldiers in New York Harbor on coffin ships and killing them by the dozens every day. Washington said to them, “I would rather lose the war, because this is the first nation in history that is based upon an idea, and the idea is one of essential human dignity and justice.” And he said, “We’re not—I’d rather the British continue to rule us than become—than to lose that.” And, you know, he established codes of conduct for the treatment of prisoners, fair treatment of prisoners and humane treatment. And the Hessians that he captured on Christmas Eve were so shocked by the good treatment they received from the American captors that after two weeks in prison, they agreed to walk unguarded all the way to POW camps in western Pennsylvania, and not a single one escaped.

During the Civil War, Lincoln’s general suggested—made the suggestion of torture, and he was so horrified by the idea, that he created a committee to establish a standards—a report with standards for the fair treatment and humane treatment of prisoners of war. And eighty years later, that document became the Geneva Convention.

During World War II, Eisenhower was asked about torturing Germans at a time when Nazis were torturing our prisoners and POWs. And Eisenhower said, “Americans don’t do that.” And he said—and during World War II, German soldiers surrendered to American soldiers by the thousands, because they had heard from their fathers, who fought in World War I, “Always surrender to an American, because Americans don’t torture people.”

You know, a few weeks ago, I had John Dean on my show on Air America. And John Dean, as you know, was the counselor to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. And Dean said to me—Dean went to prison for his participation in the cover-up. And he said, “You know, we eavesdropped illegally on one office, and I went to jail for four months, and my boss was impeached and then forced to resign.” And he said, “These people have illegally eavesdropped on hundreds of thousands of Americans.” And he said, “Where’s the impeachment? Where are the convictions? Where’s the imprisonment? Where’s the jail term? Where is the American press? Where is the indignation?”

And, you know, we need to continually remind ourselves that the Bill of Rights is not a luxury we can no longer afford and that America is not just a place where people come to, you know, increase the size of their pile, and whoever dies with the most stuff wins. Our nation is an exemplary nation. And that’s the way the world regards us, and that’s what they want from us. And when we start lowering our standards, we lose our prestige, we lose our capacity to influence world events, and we lose the soul of our country. And we now need to gain that back."

Information on bogus voting instructions and efforts to alter the status of voters in VA, OH, CO, NC, PA, FL, NM, WI, OR, CA and MN are also reported:

Is the McCain campaign merely incompetent? Or is it engaged in a massive effort to create a database of voters to challenge at the polls? Is the McCain campaign orchestrating a voter caging campaign on a grand scale?"

Dismissing their views as paranoid? Some say both parties are engaged in in either trying to block votes or encourage 'questionable' registrations. The phrase "battle at the ballot box" is taking on whole new meanings ....

And then there are the confusing accounts about just what exactly happened among Tennessee Democrats regarding Rosalinda Kurita over the weekend.

Best advice: double-check your voting registration at your local county courthouse at least 3 or 4 times over the next few months.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekly Best of Tennessee Blogs

via TennViews:

10,000 Monkeys and a Camera: Back to the election: Eight years of simplistic, slow-witted leadership has been more than enough. I don’t care how much you’d like to hang out with these people, or how thirsty you are for a beer in their company, that doesn’t mean that they have what it takes to lead this country in the right direction.

55-40 Memphis: Let Hillary take on Palin: Hillary can righteously and authentically say that Sarah Palin is an insult to woman candidacies. ... the sexist media will eat it up. I'll bet a Hillary soundbite shows up in every evening news until election day.

Andy Axel (at KnoxViews): A Tennessee Majority = 50% + 1 - 20. Give or Take.: In case you haven't heard, majority does not rule in Tennessee

Aunt B.: My Morning Palin Thought: This, America, is why we still need feminism, because, when the chips are down, women need a stronger skill-set than "just flirt your way out of the problem."

BlountViews: TPO Regional Mobility Plan 2035 Meeting: From a previous, informal survey, TPO determined bike transportation (27%) to be a primary concern, more transit (21%) and alternative transportation (17%) were next in line of importance. It was reported that 50 percent of respondents surveyed thought new roads were the least important.

Carole Borges: Palin said religious views helping shape her state's future: If you believe that hearing the voice of God and speaking to God directly about political policy is a smart way to govern, then vote for McCain/ Palin.

The Crone Speaks: Obama Doesn’t Support the Families of 9/11 and Other Outrageous Crap: This is a serious problem. Seriously, folks, when the media itself promotes the lies of the McCain campaign, without giving viewers/listeners factual information, there is a very serious problem. While we have to be on notice not to believe the media outlets, and do our own fact checking on every issue, Krugman notes that the actual lies are a sign of things to come, should the lying team somehow take the White House.

Joe Powell: Narrative Fiction Rules The 2008 Campaign: It's both fascinating and a little sickening to see news reporters and their dubious pundits talk to each other about how they are being suckered and manipulated by the McCain campaign but are not posing those questions and concerns to McCain himself.

Don Williams: Why Obama should get mad, get loud and get real, NOW: Voter caging, spoilt ballots caused by lousy machines in poor districts, vote suppression, an October Surprise, media turning blind eyes to McCain’s parade of lies, the Bradley Effect, Swift-boating and outright malfeasance all work to McCain’s advantage. So, unless media get serious about issues and lay off the beauty contest, I don’t see how Obama wins. Bonus:

TNDP: Sen. Diane Black Wants to Deny Voting Rights: If you haven’t voted in the past three primary elections, at least.

Enclave: I Wonder If Sarah Palin Ever Read in 2005?: Back in 2005, the prospect of using the porkbarrel airport as justification for the porkbarrel bridge to nowhere was frightening for a conservative blogger. Now that Bill Hobbs is in charge of communications of Tennessee's Republican Party, he does not seem too frightened by Palin's use of the justification. In fact, Hobbs is now defending her performance in the ABC interview and rationalizing that she did stop the bridge to nowhere.

Fletch: Arrowmont for Sale: I was saddened to see the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg put up for sale. It was one of the few things Gatlinburg had going for it culturally (after Panera Bread was replaced by a hot dog stand). The "oasis in a cultural desert" will most likely be turned into a few candle and t-shirt shops. Yes, I'm an elitist. Plus: Monuments

KnoxViews: Workers concerned about jobs and health care, trust Obama to help: According to a recent survey, more than half of American workers are worried about finding a new job if they become unemployed, followed closely by concerns over their ability to pay for healthcare insurance. The poll also shows Barack Obama as the preferred candidate for tackling U.S. workplace issues. Plus: The shocking truth about Sarah Palin

Lean Left: The score: ...if these analyses are a representative sample, the Obama camp attacks somewhat more often than the McCain camp, but their attacks are much more accurate (or much less inaccurate, depending on your perspective). ... Also, chew on those numbers for a minute: Only one anti-Obama attack out of nineteen could be scored better than "half-true."

LeftWingCracker: It's time to raise and allocate resources: Yes, of course I support Bob Tuke; however, I presume you've noticed that the DSCC is treating him like plutonium, right? They're not sending money here, so I'm not looking for miracles. OK then. ... In Shelby County, we still need to crank it up large for the Democratic ticket for several reasons... Plus: YOU NEED TO CHECK YOUR REGISTRATION

Liberadio(!): Podcast: September 8, 2008: Part 4 The Daily Show is not afraid of Karl Rove. Are you listening those of you in the real news media? Or will you show the “deference” required of you by the McCain campaign?

Newscoma: Dear Tennessee Democratic Party: ...I think you need to come to Hooterville and talk to some of the people I’ve been talking to the past few days. Go to all of the Hootervilles, not just mine. You are blowing it, in my opinion, when it comes to rural voters and in many ways, you are disenfranchising younger voters here. This isn’t good, Nashville leaders. Plus: Fun With Newspapers

The Pesky Fly: Seven Years and Counting: Failure is too generous a word to describe George Bush's efforts to deliver justice. He didn't fail. He and his minions have done exactly what they wanted to do. Capturing Osama bin Laden wasn't on their list. They had other priorities. There was a massive, world-changing event to politically capitalize. There was a country with vast oil wealth to pillage. There was a police state and one party rule to establish. There was an economy to crash so the broken pieces could be bought for pennies on the dollar.

Progressive Nashville: Think America, think: One of the most depressing parts of the Republican national convention last week was the crowd chanting "Drill baby, drill" during former mayor Rudy Giuliani's speech that included calls for offshore oil drilling. ... The moment illustrated once again how the party is able to convince people to act against their own best interests to enrich private companies and individuals.

Brian at Resonance: Sarah Palin, The Trojan Moose: I'll be more specific--every day not spent discussing the economy is a victory for McCain. It was no accident that the economy was barely mentioned at the Republican convention. The fact is that it is in worse shape than government statistics indicate. It's the trump card in the Obama hand, if the campaign stays on message. Therefore Obama must resist the temptation to be sidetracked by the Trojan Moose. Plus: Against Government, Yet Cashing The Checks

RoaneViews: Flight of Heroes: Just for today, let's try not to think of a President reading "My Pet Goat", or the awful aftermath for our country and the world that these terrible attacks were used to justify. Let's honor the innocent victims and the heros...

Russ McBee: Woodward's series on the "surge" and its real architects: After nearly eight years of witness to the Bush calamity, no one should really be surprised that the Bush administration sought and accepted military advice, not from actual military commanders, but from the same group of radical zealots who had helped cook the books to justify the invasion in the first place.

Sean Braisted: The Monkey Trial: Had I been in Clarksville, I most likely would've voted for Barnes in the primary...but he didn't win, and I think Mr. Rochelle adequately refuted all the arguments made by Barnes' lawyers, except the one that I think this decision hinged on, and that was that Kurita wasn't a "good Democrat" for voting to make Ron Ramsey the Speaker of the Senate. Ultimately, it seemed clear that is what this farcical process came down to.

Sharon Cobb: America, Don't Be Stupid Again: Eight years of George W. Bush wasn't enough for you? You want four more? Because if you vote for McCain/Palin, you'll get four more years and worse. You can't seriously be buying that McCain/Palin are the real mavericks, can you?

GoldnI: Marsha Blackburn - Really A Man, Baby!: Moral of the story--when Sarah Palin is criticized, it's always going to be sexist and she has every right to be upset. When it's Hillary being criticized, the whiny crybaby needs to bite her tongue and get over it. It's nice to see that Marsha Marsha Marsha has become a feminist crusader all of a sudden.

Southern Beale: It’s Gutter Politics As Usual: Sarah Palin as Vice President is a cravenly laughable political stunt. It’s wedge politics as usual. Hearing her snide jabs at Barack Obama in her RNC speech proved to me that Sarah Palin represents nothing more than the same divisive, anything-goes, culture-wars, red vs blue, "War On Christmas," fear-based, Karl Rove-style politics of destruction we've lived with for the past eight years.

TennViews: Blackburn gets "dishonorable mention" on 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress list: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released their "20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and 4 to Watch)" list. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN7) made the "watch list": Plus: Tennessee is a top 10 state legislative battleground state

Vibinc: Seven: In the past seven years, we have seen one thing after another justified by the attacks of 9/11; two wars, domestic spying, torture, and a full frontal attack on the civil liberties that are the foundation of our nation. All of these things slipped by a nation rapt in a feverish nationalism masquerading as patriotism.

WhitesCreek Journal: Good is Dead?...(Maybe Not!): Is there a light rising in America? Will we demand that our candidates for the highest office in the land, simply tell us the truth? Unless the referees in America blow the whistle, the cheaters will win.

Women's Health News: PMSBuddy - Almost as Irritating as the Election Coverage: PMSBuddy lets you send and receive notifications to others that you have PMS, you know, so they know not to take you seriously. ... Okay, first, "recurring occurrences" are not really unexpected. Second, if dinner plates are hurled because PMS comes up, it’s because some jerk dismissively asked "Are you PMSing?" as a way to dismiss some woman’s thoughts and feelings. Third, menstruation is not shameful. Maybe you don’t want to talk about it over spaghetti and meatballs, but if you’re close enough to send alerts from PMSBuddy, you’re close enough to have an actual conversation. Like adults.