Jul 7 2007
08:16 am

Live Earth is underway, working its way around the time zones of the world. In case you've been away on vacation to Mars, Live Earth is a worldwide concert to promote awareness of the looming climate crisis.

Here's the media coverage/broadcast schedule overview. NBC will have a three-hour prime-time special from 8PM to 11PM tonight. XM Radio has live, 'round-the-globe 'round-the-clock coverage of "every note from every stage". Here's the artist lineup. MSN is streaming it live over the internets. XM 40 Deep Tracks has running commentary and channel guides.

The idea isn't to raise money for carbon credits or to end global warming overnight or anything like that. It's to raise awareness of the problem and the solutions, and to ignite a worldwide political movement to do something about it. Here is the call to action and the seven point pledge, and here's how to answer the call.

The 27% Dead Enders have been on a massive propaganda campaign to discredit the event, the promoters (especially Al Gore) and the participating artists. I'm not exactly clear on what their problem is, other than some pathological need to exhibit their incredible stupidity after having been proven catastrophically wrong about everything, day after day for six years and going now.

They have decided to be part of the problem instead of the solution on every issue from national security, civil rights, health care, to the environment. They are becoming increasingly irrelevant, and boring. It would be funny if it weren't for the damage they're causing.

The thing I really don't get is that whether you believe human activity is causing global warming or not, the benefits of reducing its effects should be obvious. It's good stewardship of the earth and our natural resources to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It's good business to invest in pollution control, alternative energy, and renewable energy sources, not to mention good foreign and national security policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What's so hard to understand about that? Why do they hate America?

For everyone else who cares about the planet, national security, our economy, jobs, and the air we breathe, sign the pledge!

"Political will is a renewable resource." Al Gore

UPDATE: Live blogging at Left of the Dial...

UPDATE: Joe Lance, too...

Jul 7 2007
07:46 am

Big news in the Knoxville News Sentinel today regarding the ongoing government ethics controversies in Knox County Government. Everybody gets piled on this time.

The front page news today is about the credit card controversy. Ragsdale and most of his top aides have paid back nearly $6500 in unauthorized credit card charges.

According to the KNS, Finance Director John "Smoothie King" Werner paid back over $2000 in charges and was reprimanded. It seems like the Finance Director ought to be setting an example. Oh, wait. He is! Community Services Director Cynthia Finch was also admonished to tighten control of credit card spending.

Earlier in the week, the KNS reported that Community Services Administrative Assistant Requitta Bone resigned after paying back nearly $3000 in personal credit card charges.

The problem is worse than it first appeared. It's hard to understand why government employees think it is appropriate to use government credit cards for personal expenditures. You don't need an ethics committee or a bunch of ethics workshops to know it's just plain stealing from taxpayers. What's not clear is where they got the idea this was OK, or why they thought they would get away with it. There appears to be a serious lack of supervision and oversight, which suggests a breakdown in leadership somewhere.

Then there's this guest editorial today from county IS Director Dick Moran, with a long, pathetic explanation about a $500 gift certificate he received at a "charity" golf tournament.

According to his convoluted mea culpa, he actually called the county law director to ask about the nuances of ethics policy before deciding if he should donate the gift certificate to charity. What a prince. With everything else going on, the administration would have been better off without this self-serving "excuse" that reveals more about the greedy and selfish mindset of public officials than it does about their concern for ethical behavior.

To make sure nobody feels left out, the KNS also has this front page report about yet another possible sunshine violation involving a lunch meeting of several County Commissioners. Lumpy says they talked about fishing. Bolus says he doesn't know what they talked about. You'll have to read the whole thing to fully appreciate the absurdity.

Jul 6 2007
10:37 pm

First there was tape footage of the 1994 Senatorial debate where Fred Thompson clearly marked out a moderately pro-choice position on abortion. Then there was the Christian Coalition survey where he checked off the box that said "pro-choice." Now comes more evidence that Fred Thompson was pro-choice on abortion.


In 1991, Fred Thompson was hired by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) to lobby President George H. W. Bush to lift the so-called abortion "gag rule," under which clinics receiving Federal money could not counsel patients on abortion. At the time the gag rule was one of the most controversial issues in the abortion debate, coming off the heels of the Supreme Court's Rust v. Sullivan case that permitted the White House position.

Fred Thompson's spokesman is trying to deny this even happened. But the former Maryland Congressman and fellow co-worker with Thompson who actually recommended him for the NFPRHA gig calls Thompson's denial "absolutely bizarre." Others who worked with NFPRHA said they were looking for a Republican to lobby John Sununu, then Bush Sr.'s Chief of Staff. And Fred Thompson seemed to be just the right guy.

This seems to strengthen the case that Fred Thompson was solidly pro-choice in the 1990s. He likes to say that seeing his child's sonogram 3 years ago has made him more pro-life. It's certainly plausible that somebody would become more pro-life after seeing a sonogram, but this child is far from his first. Sonogram technology goes back a few decades - admittedly not as sophisticated. One could at least listen to a fetus's heartbeat many years ago. Either way, this will certainly complicate Fred Thompson's bid to win over social conservatives. He appears to be as pro-life as Mitt Romney, which is to say he's pandering.

Note to social conservatives: if you want a Southern, proudly evangelical Christian, pro-life conservative Republican, your man is not Fred Thompson. Your man is Mike Huckabee. Hell, Huckabee even has gubornatorial experience. And if Huck isn't your cup of tea, you've got Senator Sam Brownback, no marginal figure in American politics.

Jul 6 2007
06:35 pm

So today the whole family decided to take in one of those legendary Blue Plate Specials that WDVX puts on every day at noon in the Knoxville Visitor's Center. Knoxvillian Mic Harrison and the High Score was the act, making it one of the loudest Blue Plates in a long time. Anyway, I have to say that the whole experience was just beyond cool. I mean, this was the official city visitor's center and I saw absolutely no evidence of corporate cheese that one usually sees in a visitor's center. Everything from the merchandise to the cafe to the Blue Plate itself put the city of Knoxville in a very good light.

As many readers here know, I was a WDVX fan before I made the move from Michigan to Maryville. When I accepted my new job in Maryville I immediately discovered WDVX and played it over the internet just about 24/7. The music, along with my wallpaper of Newfound Gap made me anxious as ever to get down here. But it wasn't until now that I was finally able to SEE the radio station that did more to stoke my excitement for East Tennessee than anything else. And it did not disappoint. I had imagined the studio to be in some far-off room, not right there in front of you as you walk in. Very impressive.

So if any of y'all ever have the chance, go check out the Blue Plate Special. It's a FREE concert every day and it features the best damn music on the planet. I bet that those who trace 10 generations back in East Tennessee might even appreciate the Knoxville Visitor's Center.


Jul 6 2007
05:19 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

KnoxViews clocked more than 800,000 page views and 276,000 visits in June:

Webalizer (all-inclusive) Statistics for June 2007:

Total Pages: 809,288
Total Visits: 276,105
Pages per Day: 26,976 avg, 34,624 max
Visits per Day: 9,203 avg, 15,144 max

Thanks to everyone!

Some charts and more info after the jump...


Jul 6 2007
01:55 pm

Kingfisher at Maxey's Park


Jul 5 2007
02:52 pm
By: Brian A.  shortURL

What about the purple fingers? What about Poland?

The Howard Government has today admitted that securing oil supplies is a factor in Australia's continued military involvement in Iraq.

Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia's contribution to the unpopular war, as "energy security" and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the nation's future.
. . .
"The defence update we're releasing today sets out many priorities for Australia's defence and security, and resource security is one of them," he told ABC radio.

"The entire (Middle East) region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest of the world.

At least someone is adding some honesty to the debate.

Jul 5 2007
02:05 pm

Yes, diversity can arise from within. As Betty Bean points out, it has to do with how we live our lives, day in and day out, and the choices we make. Housing patterns are a manifestation of those personal choices.

Rather than theoretical discussions of mixed-income housing and development, I suggest that those who truly care about "diversity," integration and equity spend some time with Paul Kivel's work, beginning with "Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies" at this link: (link...). Look within yourself, then consider what choices you will make.

Anne Woodle

Jul 5 2007
01:20 pm
By: Andy Axel  shortURL

Fred Thompson sure has been in favor of obstructing justice. His vocal, partisan support of Scooter Libby is well-documented.

It now appears that he has a long pedigree in obstructing justice for Republican ends. Meet ex-Senator Fraud, Watergate Mole.

The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight -- asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system -- he telephoned Nixon's lawyer.

Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system * and would be making the information public. In his all-but-forgotten Watergate memoir, "At That Point in Time," Thompson said he acted with "no authority" in divulging the committee's knowledge of the tapes, which provided the evidence that led to Nixon's resignation. It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson's actions.

"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was."

* Maybe Fred can find those missing 18-1/2 minutes in the floorboards of that mobile campaign prop of his...

Jul 5 2007
01:01 pm
By: lovable liberal  shortURL

Our Constitutional democracy is in grave peril. Dick Cheney and his sock puppet, George Duhbya Bush, claim that they want to restore the powers of the Executive Branch. In this, as in practically everything they say, they are lying.

The continued safety of our bold American experiment in democracy requires that we reject the Bushist despotism explicitly and legally. Otherwise, the Cheney-Bush precedent will be that the words of the Constitution are just words and that they can be redefined at will to mean whatever the Executive Branch wants them to mean

The final remedy the Constitution provides for a President who refuses just and legal oversight and separation of powers is impeachment.

How can patriotic Americans accomplish this act of loyalty to our founding ideals?



I was born in the Garden State and moved to Virginia when I was 12. In other words, I've never voted in New Jersey and I've never used the state as a basis for my own political loyalties. Nevertheless, I believe New Jersey serves as an interesting bridge state between the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, which more than ever appears to be an undifferentiated mass of Democratic Party support. That said, New Jersey was also uniquely affected by 9/11 and has had a close-up perspective on Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton. So it isn't a surprise that Giuliani polls well in NJ, both in the GOP primary and in the general election.

But this latest poll spells trouble for the GOP.


Giuliani's lead over Hillary has dropped to three points in NJ. But no other candidate comes close to beating any of the Democratic contenders.

What does this mean for national politics? Maybe not much since, in the end, New Jersey is an expensive teaser state in which Republicans always poll better than they perform on Election Day (remember Tom Kean, Jr. vs. Bob Menendez?, or Bush dreaming of picking it up in 2004?). Republicans will not win New Jersey in 2008. But the fact that only Giuliani gives the Dems a run for their money in the Garden State should give pause to the Fred Thompson supporters. Yes, Rudy is uniqely popular in NJ. But he is also very popular among non-GOP partisans elsewhere in the country, and I believe only he can win over non-Republicans in crucial swing states. Fred Thompson, on the other hand, will be read as another George W. Bush: a bubba talking phony completely out of touch with the non-South.

This is, of course, the conundrum the GOP has been in all cycle. They can nominate the one electable candidate who happens to hold positions anathema to the social conservative base of the party. Or they can run to some media-produced Southerner in hopes of soothing the base but losing the general. Read outside the Tennessee media and you will see just how unpopular Fred Thompson is as a Presidential candidate.

Jul 5 2007
08:13 am
By: Left Of The Dial  shortURL

From today's DC Post:

There were reports late yesterday of two incidents in which organized fireworks displays injured people. An employee of Pyro Shows Inc., the company that orchestrated the Mall fireworks, was severely injured when a shell exploded about 15 minutes after the show ended. The man, whom police did not identify, was transported to a hospital in a U.S. Park Police helicopter. A second man was also injured, Line said, but was treated at the scene and moved in an ambulance.

Line said the Tennessee-based company often tests shells the afternoon before a show, and the shell that injured the two men was a leftover that had not been tested.

UPDATE (10:45am): The severely injured Pyro Shows worker is a 42-year-old male and has suffered third-degree burns down the right side of his body. Still no info on his identity yet. Knoxville media hasn't picked up the story as of this post.

Pyro Shows is based in LaFollette in Campbell County.

UPDATE (12:00pm): The injured worker has been identified as Bob Crapsey of Caryville. I tipped off WVLT-TV to this story this morning and they have since spoken with Crapsey's wife.

Jul 5 2007
07:24 am

... the last survivor of the original members of the musical group The Drifters, died Wednesday.

Pinkney grew up singing his favorite music, gospel, in his church choir. Before his career with the Drifters, Pinkney was a pitcher for the New York Blue Sox Baseball Team, which was part of the Negro Baseball League. He also served in the United States Army in World War II, earning a Presidential Citation with four Bronze Stars (for battles including Normandy and Bastogne under General Patton.) Returning from the war, Pinkney began to sing again in various gospel choirs. It was there that he would meet the members of the original Drifters.

May he rest in peace and the music never die...

Jul 5 2007
12:07 am
By: Brian A.  shortURL

Some have wondered whether or not America's best days are behind it. Others have asked if the sun is setting on the world's sole superpower.

In 12 glorious minutes, a 23-year-old from San Jose, CA, put those fears to bed:

In a gut-busting showdown that combined drama, daring and indigestion, Joey Chestnut emerged Wednesday as the world's hot dog eating champion, knocking off six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi in a record-setting yet repulsive triumph.

Chestnut, the great red, white and blue hope in the annual Fourth of July competition, broke his own world record by inhaling 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes — a staggering one every 10.9 seconds before a screaming crowd in Coney Island.

The coveted Mustard Belt is back home on America soil.

Jul 4 2007
02:25 pm

Who knew?

And another little detail...Al Gore III was driving...and maybe had some pot and some other stuff.

My son said, "That's just his way of saying he doesn't want his Dad to be president."

Maybe so.

Jul 4 2007
11:15 am
By: Bbeanster  shortURL

Byron Chesney had this (link...) to say about a recent rezoning battle in the Ritta community. The property in question is next door to my parents' home, where I grew up. It's outside the Urban Growth Boundary and was designated Rural Residential/Agricultural. The rezoning passed 10-7, which means that if either of two commissioners who promised me they would vote against it had not gone back on their word, the rezoning would have come up short of the 10 votes needed for passage.

I'm deeply grateful to Commissioners Jordan, Strickland, Harmon, Norman, F.Leuthold for voting no. There is a small African American neighborhood that sits at the base of the ridge that's to be developed, and will be very adversely affected by the flooding that this project will cause (neither of the two developers involved have good track records in that regard), and I think Jordan and Strickland, even though they do not represent that district, responded to those concerns. This is extremely commendable, since there was heavy developer pressure involved. Near as I can discern, the two 8th District commissioners weren't real engaged in the process -- although perhaps Ballard made some efforts late in the game.

But Leuthold, Norman and Harmon are simply the best -- the smartest, best-educated and most decent people in county government. They give me hope, and I thank them.

I'll be covering city government for the forseeable future.

p.s. to Byron: Your Uncle Ronnie was one of my brother John's best friends. Bunny Spencer, John called him. He was a world champion biscuit eater and played a mean tuba.

Jul 4 2007
07:49 am

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

OK, then.

Jul 4 2007
12:23 am
By: Brian A.  shortURL

Today President Bush said this regarding Scooter Libby's conviction:

I thought that the jury verdict should stand. I felt the punishment was severe, so I made a decision that would commute his sentence, but leave in place a serious fine and probation. . . I felt like the jury verdict ought to stand, and I felt like some of the punishments that the judge determined were adequate should stand.

Yet he is leaving the door open for a future pardon:

As to the future, I rule nothing in or nothing out.

Are these statements consistent? If Mr. Bush truly thinks the jury's verdict should stand, why is he considering undoing it with a pardon?

On a related note, Keith Olbermann addressed this issue tonight in a Special Comment:

I don't consider Bush's commutation of Libby's prison to be the low point of his presidency, and thus don't see this to be the tipping point for the administration. But Olbermann passionately makes several compelling points on the grave nature of this decision.

Jul 3 2007
10:12 pm

In today's Metro Pulse, Jack Neely recounts his appearance at some fraternal organization where a "patriotic" gentleman - perhaps a veteran but perhaps not - uttered a fairly well-known poem about all of our freedom coming from soldiers and not from anywhere else.


I've noticed lots of bumper stickers around here saying pretty much the same thing: "Freedom isn't free," or "Love your freedom? Thank a soldier." The overall message of these sayings is that we should venerate the soldier above all other forces for giving us the freedoms we enjoy; it is not the reporter or the demonstrator or voter or anybody else that makes us free. It's the soldier who gives up his or her life.

Like Jack Neely, I find this notion to be a bunch of bologna. Yes, soldiers dedicate their lives to their nation and for that we should be grateful. But believe it or not, there is a difference between "America" and "freedom." As Neely rightly points out, none of our wars since 1812 have involved foreign adversaries with the capability to destroy our freedoms. Nearly all of our freedoms have been lost because of governmental paranoia in response to these various threats from abroad or from within. For example, it wasn't Osama Bin Laden who suspended habeas corpus rights. It was the US Congress and President Bush who passed a law to do so.

So who really did "give" us our freedoms? Who really are the most patriotic people, not for defending "America" per se, but for defending and advancing the cause of American freedom? The greatest threat to freedom in this country has historically come not from external forces but from internal majorities unwilling to recognize the rights of minorities; a major exception to this is the black slave majority in the antebellum Deep South. Overall, however, the story of American freedom is one of marginalized persons asserting the same access to basic rights as those enjoyed by others. Few of these heroes, thus, were "popular" in their day because they threatened the majority's privileged claim on freedom, and the authorities that represent that majority.

I'll list a few that I think contributed more to human freedom in this country than anybody else (and some did so in addition to serving as soldiers):

Frederick Douglass
Clarence Darrow
Margaret Sanger
Daniel Ellsberg
Judge William O. Douglas
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Judge Thurgood Marshall
Ella Baker
Judge William Brennan
Sojourner Truth
John Stuart Mill
Martin Luther King, Jr.
W. E. B. DuBois
Eugene Debs
Robert Wagner
Thomas Paine
Susan B. Anthony
Edward Coles
The American voter

Who else would you add?


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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)