Jun 5 2007
08:03 am

After a failed Republican filibuster, the cigarette tax passed in the House yesterday. Tom Humphrey has this report on all the drama.

Senate Democratic leader Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) notes in a press release that the cigarette tax, only the third increase in 40 years, funds another bill that raises the state funding of local school instructional costs from 65% to 75%, which benefits local governments and should reduce property taxes. Regarding Senate action on the bills, Sen. Kyle says:

The first bill passed with 32 of the 33 Senators voting for it. However, the second bill, the one that financed the 75 percent bill, the one that made all this possible, passed on a straight-line partisan vote. All Democrats voted yes, and all Republicans voted no.

What does this say about the Tennessee Senate? What does this say about Democrats and Republicans? I would say that it speaks volumes as to who can be trusted to lead our state. Please remember, for months Republicans said there were other ways to finance the education plan and the tobacco money was not needed, but in the end, Republicans did not fight the tax; they did not offer alternatives to the tax; they simply stood on the sidelines.

We Democrats asked our Republican colleagues to walk with us as we turn this state away from 49th. Sadly, they could not find the courage to go.

Tennessee deserves better. Tennessee deserves leadership that is willing to take risks, leadership that looks to the next generation and not the next election. Tennessee Democrats understand it is hard to lead, it is difficult to lead, but it is, to quote John Wilder, "good to lead." Tennessee deserves Democratic leadership in both the Senate and House.

Lots of folks think the cigarette tax should be raised, but that it would be more appropriate to use the funds for health care. Along those lines, Sen. Rosalind Kurita got her "two cents" in, with the revenues going to help fund trauma centers. From the press release:

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, secured much-needed funding for Tennessee’s financially strapped trauma centers on Thursday, May 31 when she successfully passed a two-cents-per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax. The estimated $10 million in new revenue generated by the hike will go to the newly created Trauma System Fund, a grant program the State will administer to assist trauma centers in covering the high costs associated with caring for trauma patients.

"Trauma centers are literally the difference between life and death for multiply injured patients," Kurita, a registered nurse, said.

Sen. Kurita notes that Tennessee has Level I trauma centers in Chattanooga, Johnson City, Kingsport, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, one Level II center in Bristol, and three Level III centers in Athens, Etowah, and Maryville. Since 1990, eleven trauma centers in Tennessee have dropped their designations, and currently there are no Level II or Level III centers in Middle or West Tennessee.

"We cannot allow any more trauma centers to close," Kurita said. "When trauma centers close, critically injured Tennesseans die."


In this AlterNet article it says poor kids in the US are being offered great educational opportunities in Cuba.

"The Cuban health care system is producing a population that is as healthy as those of the world's wealthiest countries at a fraction of the cost. And now Cuba has begun exporting its system to under-served communities around the world -- including in the U.S.

Today, about 90 young people from poor parts of the United States have joined the ranks of international students studying medicine in Cuba."

Meanwhile our healthcare system sucks because it is driven by greedy captilists and corrupt pharmaceutical companies.

The old saying,"If sociaiized medicine is so good in other countries, why do people come here when they get sick?" may no longer be valid.

I had no idea the Cubans were so advanced in health systems.

I do know a lot of their other systems are totally awful. A few years ago. I invited a Cuban poet to speak to a group I was involved with in Florida. It was a very complicated process to get her out of the country. There was plenty wrong with the Castro regime in her book, but she was terrified to speak out. She made me so concerned that even as I write this now, I fear the Cuban government might know who she is because I sponsored her. Reprisals for anti-government talk are very harsh down there.

Jun 5 2007
07:11 am

Looks like the City of Knoxville is going to subsidize those $50 Ruth's Chris steaks.

Remarks in the article about Riverside not being "viable" are puzzling. It was one of the better restaurants in town when it opened, and always seemed to be doing pretty good business whenever we were there. There's also a dispute about parking. We've never had a problem parking there.

The article has some confusing and conflicting statements:

"The city doesn't get any revenues from 1 percent of zero gross receipts, nor does it benefit from having an empty restaurant should it close. With Ruth's Chris, based on their national averages, we think it will be a good relationship," [city spokesperson Randy] Kenner said.

But the article says Riverside owes the city $86,000. So it doesn't sound like they were getting 1% of nothing. $86,000 is 1% of $8.6 million.

With the new deal, the city would let them off the hook for the $86,000 and not charge Ruth's Chris any rent going forward. So will the city still pay the lease to the U.S. government? Wonder how much that is?

Sounds like there's more to this deal than meets they eye. We wonder if the $86,000 is what was holding up the deal, and the City is caving in to make it happen and trying to put a positive spin on it. At any rate, it seems like nobody wants to do business downtown unless they get something from the taxpayers for their troubles.

Jun 5 2007
06:59 am

As you've probably heard, Rep. William Jefferson has been indicted on some pretty serious charges. Facing South has some interesting background.

Democrats in Congress need to clean house and send a message that the Culture of Corruption is over and will no longer be tolerated. While presumed innocent at this point, Jefferson should be thinking about how the people in his district can best be served, and whether he will be able to do so effectively. Tom Delay resigned when he was indicted.

Jun 5 2007
06:35 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

"My message will be Vladimir — I call him Vladimir — you shouldn't fear a missile defense system," Bush said.

Jun 5 2007
06:11 am

You got to love this gleeful New York Times article. I know my Northern family will be calling today to ask if we have any goats here in Knoxville.

Here's the lyrics to the song and a link to hear it.

I love the low-tech, gone-green idea of goats working for the city. I do think they might be given those orange city worker vests though. Someone might confuse them with ordinary goats.

Perhaps letting the goats and their donkeys take over all the jobs at City Hall might create better government here in Knoxville?

Jun 5 2007
12:34 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

These were picked near Sharp's Ridge, but can be found anywhere in the city. And yes, the glass is vintage 1982 World's Fair and can be found at many local thrift and antique shops.

Jun 4 2007
11:49 pm
By: South Heaven  shortURL

These darlings were dumped off on Busbee Road (between Chapman Highway and Taylor Road) one Saturday night in late May. My headlights "hit" this little pile of faces and fortunately I was able to scoop them all up but one (whom I finally got the next morning).

Read more after the jump...


I got into NASCAR in 1997 when some college friends of mine held their annual Daytona 500 party in our house in Washington, DC. All of us hailed from the North and came to NASCAR fandom far from its traditional Southern origin. Yet there we were, drinking to any Dick Trickle reference or any yellow flag. We never really saw it as redneckish, but we knew the sport was much more popular across the Potomac River and 40 miles to the south. Most of us saved up and went to the various races within an easy drive from DC: Dover, Richmond, Martinsville, even Bristol or Charlotte. It seemed strange that the fastest growing sport had several of its premier tracks within close proximity to DC, yet the sports page barely paid it any attention. Nevertheless, there we were, the great new base of the fastest growing sport in America.

Read more after the jump...


Jun 4 2007
07:54 pm
By: CathyMcCaughan  shortURL

Please come out this Saturday to support Ijams Nature Center.
Saturday June 9, 2007
8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Antiques, collectibles, tools, furniture, baby stuff, a great kayak, clothes, housewares, etc.
at Ijams Nature Center 2915 Island Home Avenue
Proceeds benefit Ijams Education programming!

Jun 4 2007
01:55 pm

Last summer when I recommended a visit to the Second Saturday Sensations at "The Cove" in Concord Park, the entertainment that evening was less than stellar. This year I'm recommending nothing.

However, this Saturday's concert will be provided by MacDaddies (classic R&B). I haven't heard them but I'm going to be there.

It's free, it's usually fun and, who knows, taking a picnic may make it rain.

"The Cove" in Concord Park
11808 South Northshore Drive
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Every second Saturday this summer

Jun 4 2007
01:15 pm
By: Knoxquerious  shortURL

Anybody heard any word on when the peak weekend will be for the azaleas on top of Gregory's Bald? I know it is supposed to be mid to late June, but I was not sure how much this drought will affect the timing. Thanks.

Jun 4 2007
11:22 am

Michael Silence has a poll. You know what to do!

Jun 4 2007
09:15 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Didn't watch it. Here's a blog roundup:

Sharon Cobb: The Presidential Debate On CNN Last Night Was Debatable

TGW: Gays in the military

TGW: Hillary on Bush's idea of diplomacy

Steve at WhitesCreek: Per hair

Donkey Rising: Who won the debate?

Political Wire: Debate recap

PoliticsTV: Selected video clips

Atrios: "According to Candy Crowley, Hillary Clinton can't criticize Bush because she comes across as a shrill emasculating ballbusting harpy."

Politico: "Our next president should be able to both stand and sit. The American people deserve no less."

Digby: "I think the question I enjoyed the most in the Democratic debate was the one where Wolf asked them all what they would do if they were tied to a bed naked with a ticking time bomb and a bunch of terrorists rushed into the room and started kibitzing among themselves about where to get the best Botox in Miami. Or maybe it was the one where he asked them all to raise their hands if they agree that killing is wrong --- and if so, doesn't that indicate that Democrats can't lead? I can't decide. I just love those multi-part yes/no hypotheticals."

Eric Alterman Got arrested in the Spin Room

Jun 4 2007
08:37 am

Doing a quick check of the current Google News archives, here's the scorecard on KNS mentions of the 2008 presidential candidates:

• Fred Thompson: 35 articles
• Mitt Romney: 30 articles (some about Thompson)
• John McCain: 21 articles (some about Thompson)
• Rudy Giuliani: 16 articles (some about Thompson)

• Hillary Clinton: 27 articles (two about Thompson)
• Barack Obama: 23 articles (three about Thompson)
• John Edwards: 20 articles
• Al Gore: 9 articles (two on Thompson, one Victor Ashe)

Republican mentions: 102 (56%)
Democrat mentions: 79 (44%)


The KNS files this report on the Knox County Democrat's Truman day dinner. Here's something interesting. They took two presidential primary straw polls, one with Al Gore and one without. The results:

Gore, who is not an announced candidate, received 158 votes, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards led all other candidates with 60 votes.

In the non-Gore poll, Edwards received 109 votes, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton 77 votes, and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 50 votes.

When Fred Thompson wins a straw poll it's big news over at the KNS. We wonder if they will start covering the draft Gore movement as aggressively?

(There's a prominent front page Thompson editorial/endorsement today, accompanied by a large photo of him. Is the photo really necessary? Is there anyone in America who doesn't know what he looks like?)


The fact that after all these years, and all our soldiers sacrificing their lives, the Iraqi police and security forces continue to betray us makes me red hot mad.

These are the people our local kids believe they are fighting for. In reality many of these Iraqis are fighting against our soldiers secretly.

Who's left in Iraq anway? People have been fleeing there for years. Everytime I read about the Iraqi refugee crisis, I realize many of Iraq's most educated, wealthier resdients swarmed out of there like ants. When I try to picture who is staying, I imagine it is the elderly, the poor, the young men who are commited to driving us "occupiers" out, religious nuts, and those people who have attached themselves to the US money flow via business, politics, or security jobs.

No wonder the insurgents are so successful at recruiting people. Their cities are a mess. Every day there are revenge killings on both sides of the civil war, and little seems left of their previous culture. It's a battlefeild now, one our president brags about creating, so we "don't have to fight them over here".

Oh yeah, that will really make them love us over there.

Anyone naive enough to think the plan to assess success in September meant there would be any success ought to have their head examined.

We were way too optimistic,” said the officer, adding that September is now the goal for establishing basic security in most neighborhoods, the same month that Bush administration officials have said they plan to review the progress of the plan.

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the senior American ground commander in Iraq, said in a brief interview that he never believed that a midsummer timetable for establishing security in Baghdad was realistic. “

Never believed the plan was realistic? Way too optimistic?

I'm so sick of GWB running off his mouth about strategies that everyone knows will never work. His mantra is "placate the people, placate the people". The sad thing is the American people have tried to let Washington know they won't be placated anymore. They just want to get our troops out of there, so we can use them to protect ourselves from real threats.

But is Washington listening? Are the Democrats listening?

No, they're not.

Expect huge demonstrations in all our cities before and during the next election ala the Chicago convention during the Vietnam War.

The people and a whole lot of our military are sick of this war.

Bring our troops home.

Bring our money home.

America needs both more than the Iraqi people who have no qualms about betraying us.

Jun 4 2007
06:42 am

Partly due to a large influx of Mexicans and other Latinos, there has been a Latino baby boom in Knoxville. Like it or not, these children are Americans, and they will grow up speaking English and Spanish. Although I was not born in Tennessee, my bicultural family moved here in the 1980s from Miami, Florida. For me, growing up in East Tennessee, a mono-cultural region, has created challenges that this new generation is sure to face. Healthy integration will be partly based on the liberal community and partly on the political unity of Latino-Americans.

Cultural differences that translate into subtle discrimination practices permeate the conservative South and are sure to face a head-on collision with first generation Latinos. On the whole, Latinos tend to be very community oriented and not rugged individualists that embrace the outsider- prevention version of familism. Keep in mind that the first generation will not have to cower in hiding since they are not illegal. These Latinos have the same constitutional protections as those individuals with families who have been established here for generations. In my opinion, this will be the first time since the civil war and desegregation that the deepest parts of the South will face a threat to its monocultural identity.

We are seeing only the beginnings of a cultural clash right now. This trend toward a conservative nationalism, including rebel flags in monocultural areas, like East Tennessee, will create conflict in the years to come. Right-winged conservatives are cognizant of the minority threat to its current exclusionary hold on white power and white values--particularly protestant Christianity. This is why, on a national level, right-winged opinion leaders are no longer able to sweep the matter under the carpet. They are scrambling for a way to keep minority exploitation alive while carefully not politically isolating themselves from the Latino voting block. The timing couldn't be better with the 9/11 anti-foreigner climate. The liberal community, which has embraced me more than conservatives, is going to be a deciding factor as to the unification or fragmentation. This is an opportunity to finally move this nation toward the democratic integration envisioned by the enlightened forefathers.

The liberal community is an extension of the enlightenment era that can reverse the current trend of fragmentation. It will take liberal political leadership on all levels, national and local, to move us from the trend of intolerance and identity confusion. There will be a cost to you, but it will be worth the fight to defend democratic values that can only be upheld through tolerance. In my opinion, this is critical juncture for East Tennessee.

Jun 4 2007
01:40 am

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Myrtle Beach, S.C. - President George Bush walked onto the Atlantic Ocean during a press briefing today, as journalists watched in stunned silence.

"I had just asked him a question about escalating violence in Iraq. He started to say something, then closed his mouth, turned around and walked straight out into the surf."


Jun 3 2007
02:29 pm
By: Up Goose Creek  shortURL

UT is planning to tear down the Carolyn P. Brown Student Center and spend $70 million building a new one.

Because they need more meeting space?? Now what is that big building a few blocks to the east? 70 million will pay for a lot of trolley service. And maybe help with some debt service as well.

How about some co-operation, folks?


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