I've only seen a little bit of the American Idol (when Friday Night Lights was taking a break or when there was nothing else on but reruns), but this Sanjaya guy creeps me out, and he can't sing either. I can't figure out why he still on the show.

But there's lots of blog buzz this morning about his appearance last night, in which he apparently wore a white John Travolta suit and mumbled his way through a standard for Tony Bennet.

Apparently he's Big News. Google has over 3300 news articles on the guy this morning. Technorati lists nearly 32,000 blog posts about him.

Last week, CNN was interviewing two political analysts about Congressional funding for the war and the pending veto. The conversation got quite heated, and the wobbly talking bobble-head hostess interrupted to say "We'll have to leave it right there" and then told viewers to stay tuned for their upcoming report on Sanjaya and his outrageous hairdo. I kid you not.

So what's up with this guy and the people who keep voting for him? Well, it turns out that it may be a vast internet conspiracy to sabotage American Idol. Here's an example from "votefortheworst.com":

Yes, Sanjaya rocked it in a white suit with slicked back hair. Call 1-866-IDOLS-07 or text VOTE to 5707. Simon couldn't even talk and just called it, "Incredible" to try a new tactic and get rid of Sanjaya. Don't let his new tactic work, Sanjaya's gonna need a LOT of help this week so vote as much as possible for the entire 2 hours. Let's help him get to Latin music week next week for a rousing performance of "Shake Your Bon Bon." You know you want to.

Howard Stern is involved, too. The show's executive producer denies that internet campaigns and such can have any influence on the outcome. Tell that to Dan Rather and Trent Lott.

On the other hand, the whole conspiracy thing might be a manufactured controversy cooked up and coordinated by the producers as a PR stunt. In which case it appears to be working, and I salute them.

At any rate, I hope Sanjaya wins. It would pretty much sum up what the show is really about, and it's not singing.

85
like
Wed
Apr 4 2007
06:12 am

A national tax preparation service has been targeted by the IRS and the Justice Department for filing fraudulent returns:

The government said Tuesday it is trying to shut down more than 125 Jackson Hewitt tax preparation stores in four states for systematic "tax-fraud schemes."

The Justice Department accuses the franchises of bilking the government out of more than $70 million through fraudulent practices such as using phony W-2 forms, bogus deductions and fuel tax credits and false claims regarding the earned income tax credit.

Jackson Hewitt Tax Services Inc. is the nation's second largest tax preparer. The franchises were either totally or partially owned by Farrukh Sohail, the Justice Department said, and involved "a pervasive and massive series of tax-fraud schemes," according to court filings.

Based on where the suits were filed, it appears the franchisee operates in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina.

(The company has offices in Knoxville, Maryville, and Alcoa, but they do not appear to be affected and it is not clear if they are franchises or company owned stores.)

Jackson Hewitt responds in this press release:

The complaints announced today by the Department of Justice are limited to one franchisee, whose entities noted in the complaints operate more than 125 locations out of more than 6,500 Jackson Hewitt locations nationwide. The Company estimates that these entities represent about two percent of its total revenue. We do not believe that this matter is likely to have a material adverse effect on our financial position.

While we cannot comment on franchisee litigation, Jackson Hewitt takes such matters seriously. The Company expects its franchisees, which independently own and operate their businesses, to comply with the terms of their franchise agreements. Accordingly, they are responsible for conducting their operations with integrity, in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Jackson Hewitt remains committed to providing accurate, quality tax preparation and the highest levels of customer service. Comprised of a network of thousands of tax preparers, and franchisees nationwide, the Jackson Hewitt system values its relationship with its customers and continues to assist them with their upcoming income tax filing requirements.

What a mess. The company's stock was down over 18% yesterday.

It's interesting (and somewhat disturbing) how the ripple effect of bad PR related to one franchisee can affect the company, their shareholders, other franchisees who could likely be small business people with everything they own tied up in their franchise, not to mention consumer confidence in the company and its services.

Topics:
56
like

Democratic Sate Senator Ralph Anderson from South Carolina has suggested giving inmates time off for organ donations. 60 days for bone marrow and 180 days for a kidney. Senator Anderson, an African American, is no stranger to the prison system. He has been working with inmates for years. He said he got the idea after hearing a speaker at his church talk about the lack of black organ donors. You're not allowed to sell organs in the U.S., but this would not be selling (or would it?). I guess you could call it bartering which really was the way most goods were exchanged for centuries.

For years now people in China have accused that government of actually killing people (mostly Falon Gong, who are members of a cult outlawed by the government) just to get their organs. Apparently China is the ONLY country in the world where there is a huge availablity of much needed organs. The wait in the US can be months or years. So it's not just trinkets that China is producing. It's also somehow got a whole lot of organs available.

Is Senator Anderson's bill logical and compassionate? He believes it is, but others disagree. 60 days for bone marrow? 140 days for a kidney? Would these organs even be healthy enough to use?

This proposal gives rise to a whole lot of questions.

51
like
Tue
Apr 3 2007
10:51 pm

It was great. Really concerned before the game, but I don't think they ever trailed.

81
like

It does seem like there must be a safe place for these kids to get help. Arresting them seems like such a stupid idea because it will just add to their self-loathing and anger. Surely there has to be a better way of handling these incidents. Too many mentally ill people end up looking "dangerous" to the police. Adults they sometimes shoot. Maybe the police ought to have special training on how to subdue an aggitated child without using such extreme measures. Even if the charges are eventually dropped, it can cause an already troubled kid even more problems. 6 years old is so young!

These incidents both happened in Fla...hmmm...

This one can't stop kicking pregnant people.

This one scared her teachers, so they called the cops on her.

52
like
Topics:
Tue
Apr 3 2007
10:49 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Lamar Alexander announces that he will announce he is running in 2008 at the appropriate time. Will Kurita and/or Ford make another run at it? It will be a much tougher row to hoe for any Democrat this time around, I imagine.

94
like
Tue
Apr 3 2007
10:16 am

An idea that has been kicked around for a while is back in the news. The Maryland State Senate has passed a bill that would commit the state's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. It is expected to be passed in the House and the Governor says he will sign it.

The bill would only take effect if enough states to make up a 270 vote Electoral College majority pass similar bills.

According to Wikipedia, similar bills have passed both houses in only two states (Maryland and California). California's bill was vetoed by the Governor. All but 13 states have introduced a bill in one or both houses. If Maryland's bill is passed and signed into law by the Governor, they will be the first state officially on board.

In Tennessee, HB841/SB811 would enact Tennessee's participation in the plan.

It's probably a hard sell to folks who want their vote to count at the state level. On the other hand, it would make their vote count at the national level. As the Washington Post column notes:

Remember, states get one electoral vote for each member of the House of Representatives plus both senators. No matter how small, every state has at least three electoral votes. The three electors from Wyoming, with an estimated 2006 population of 515,004, represent 171,668 people each. California, with a population of 36,457,549, gets 55 electors, each representing 662,865 people. A presidential vote cast in Wyoming thus has nearly four times the value of a vote in California.

So you could argue that not only has the Electoral College outlived its usefulness now that we've moved beyond travel by horse into the jet age, it's also not very democratic, either.

Topics:
203
like
Tue
Apr 3 2007
09:19 am

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Perhaps Reynolds will start distancing himself from the Mighty Wurlitzer that is the right wing noise machine. Nah.

Glenn didn't get "burned to a lesser degree." Seems the law perfesser libeled Michael Ware. Is there such a thing as "lesser libeling?"

49
like
Tue
Apr 3 2007
09:05 am
Tue
Apr 3 2007
08:26 am

David Sirota has this must-read, thought-provoking look at "personality politics" that explains a lot about why we have Democratic candidates who are all over the map on issues (and why the GOP would take Fred Thompson seriously as a candidate):

Obviously, the Democratic Party did not engineer the original rise of personality politics. That happened as part of a broader political evolution that took place in the era of infotainment. But a political party's active efforts to prioritize personality politics over any core ideology unifying the party is something very new, and something that changes the definition of political party in fundamental ways. If one of the objectives of a political party is to shun any core agenda, then the political party ceases to become a political party, and becomes something akin to a gang: an entity that is concerned exclusively with power and money and that sees anything like convictions, conscience or ideology that might get in the way of those assets as a mortal threat.

His prescription: Populist campaigns built around issues instead of personalities. I could not agree more wholeheartedly.

Topics:
44
like

This article has it all. It's about the Townsend tubing controversy.

Here's the ethics lesson:

At the same meeting, Townsend Mayor Shannon Skidmore, who owns and operates River Rat Tubing and Kayak, held up his arms and said he can't be involved in anything involving tubing.

Note to Scooby and Lumpy: it's not all that complicated. It's just that simple.

67
like
Tue
Apr 3 2007
06:29 am

Saw this headline in the Maryville Daily Times and was a little disappointed.

The good news, though, is that they are negotiating with Ruth's Chris Steak House. So at least it won't be a Ruby's on the River or something. Ruth's Chris is pretty nice and that would be a fabulous location for them.

Sandy Beall is quoted in the Maryville Daily Times article: "It's a high-quality restaurant chain and they treat each location like a locally owned and operated restaurant. They have a solid management team, and it would be fantastic for Knoxville."

78
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
08:01 pm
By: StaceyDiamond  shortURL

I enjoyed Scott Moore on WATE yesterday. He said that it's the fault of the process and the "Democrats on the Supreme Court" for what happened on Jan. 31. I'm sure the Supreme Court said they had to appoint kinfolks and county employees. Also, Moore said that when they were in the backroom that they were talking about getting a drink of water and "family." He's tied with Finney and the "beastiality bill" as the most embarrasing thing out of East Tennessee this week.

46
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
07:57 pm
By: StaceyDiamond  shortURL

ABC News said tonight that they had "been told" that Iran has a just discovered underground lab and they should have a nuclear weapon in two years. They didn't say who told them, maybe it was a bird.

49
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
05:49 pm

Oh, my god! That was sooo scary! It wasn't so much the idea of it. It was the unfolding of the more than bizzarro event that took it on a downhill slide. First of all why in God's green earth would anyone who is considered to be a person of intelligence say they spend their time," tearing the heads off little animals"? Was it a metaphor for the way that idiot has treated people? Oh, Sigmund, where are you now?

It was of course to some extent racist. Kind of like a black face minstrel show with fat little Rove trying hard to get loose enough to do some moves. By the time he really let loose, I was snorting and muffling my laughter in the couch pillow. That guy is so obviously nuts.

The previous "act" was at least funny, but then I realized the reason it was funny is because those poor people are so uptight anything would tintilate them. I could just imagine some giggling woman leaning over to her husband saying," Oh, my, imagine that, George! Isn't Karl such a fun guy! I can't believe he is actually dancing!"

The President's act, him joking about himself, seemed a bit pathetic, but then the man is pathetic. Every now and then I feel sorry for these guys, but then I remember how lethal they are and the way they have plans to destroy democracy as we know it, and I have to stop myself.

White man rapping very badly--now there's a sight that must have made the homeboys wince. I found it a bit painful myself. Surely there were other national icons they could have chosen. A Donald Trump skit or a Miss America pageant maybe?

Who ARE these people anyway? How could they have grown up so ignorant and yet full of themselves?

I'm hoping it was visiting spacemen that spawned them.

Topics:
52
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
12:28 pm

May be some dramatic changes are afoot addressing emissions in USA

first high court decision in a case involving global warming

61
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
07:26 am

Read this and be amazed at how efficient Knox County government has become under the new streamlined procedures adopted on Jan. 31st.

55
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
07:18 am

A reader forwarded a link to an interesting article (PDF format) in the Spring 1998 edition of the State and Local Government Review by Bill Lyons and John Scheb regarding the failed 1996 Knoxville-Knox County consolidation effort.

The paper, which includes survey data, considers two questions:

Why have community leaders been so persistent in maintaining the city-county consolidation issue on the public agenda?

and...

Why have voters outside the City of Knoxville consistently rejected metro government?

The paper explains the genesis of metro government movements, who's usually for it and why, and who typically opposes it and why. Then it looks closer at the Knoxville-Knox County effort and why it failed. Interesting stuff. Especially this regarding the political climate typically associated with a successful metro movement:

1. A crisis climate, a situation in which the existing local governments are beset with problems stemming from dramatic changes in the urban environment.

2. Power deflation, a prevailing loss of public confidence in the ability of local governments to deal with said problems.

3. An accelerator, a scandal or emergency that serves as the catalyst for change.

It seems that these elements are currently aligned in some ways, although they are more related to county government than "dramatic changes in the urban environment" (unless you are talking about the environment in the downtown City County building, I suppose).

An interesting footnote in all of this is the actual vote itself. According to the paper, early voting machines were not setup to properly identify county residents v. city residents. If I understand the requirements described in the paper, there must be separate majorities of both city and county voters to approve a metro charter. The paper doesn't go in to the details of how this was resolved to certify the results. I'm curious if anyone remembers anything about that.

52
like
Mon
Apr 2 2007
12:20 am

I don't know how many of you all watched the UNC-UT women's basketball game but it was a real barnburner. The first half was downright brutal, with Ivory Latta of UNC and Candace Parker getting into early foul trouble. The defense on both sides was stifling, but UNC missed a lot of easy chances to pull away early. In the second half, UNC did, in fact, pull away and built up a 12 point lead. But just as the UNC men did, the Tar Heel women simply collapsed with 8 minutes left. Foul trouble hurt, as two players fouled out (though Latta stayed out of further foul trouble until the very end). I think UNC just ran out of gas. As for the Lady Vols, I was really impressed with Nicky Anosike and Shannon Bobbitt, who kept the team composed even when they fell behind big. The Lady Vols won without the usual help from Candace Parker, who missed the first half because of foul trouble and didn't contribute a whole lot from the floor in the second half either.

Rutgers pulled off a stunner over LSU and it's hard to imagine them taking out the Lady Vols in the final. In many ways the Lady Vols had a charmed tournament schedule with Ole Miss and Marist taking out potentially tougher opponents. UNC was the only really tough opponent the Lady Vols had to face.

I'm a lukewarm women's basketball fan to be honest. I love watching two great teams, like UT, UNC, LSU or UConn. But when you get to non-elite teams the game can be downright painful to watch. That said, there's a lot more talent spread throughout Division I now so you don't get as many embarrassing missed layoffs and botched passes as in the past. I'm not sure if this is because of the WNBA, Title IX, ESPN or what but this women's hoops tournament has been a real joy to watch - much more so than the men's tournament this year. Go Lady Vols!

57
like

Upcoming events:

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Local Media Blogs

Shopper Columns

Local News

News Sentinel

Alt Weekly

State News

Wire Reports

Site Statistics

Last 7 days:
  • Posts: 15
  • Comments: 125
  • Visits: 7,036
  • Pageviews: 14,828
Last 30 days:
  • Posts: 90
  • Comments: 708
  • Visits: 32,150
  • Pageviews: 71,866