Jul 2 2007
08:44 pm

We were out walking pupster at the park this evening. A nice old gentleman in overalls came up and handed me a dog biscuit that was as big as pupster's head and said "here, this is for your dog."



Jul 2 2007
06:14 pm
By: Rachel  shortURL

The Decider commuted the jail time part of the sentence. Poor Scooter will be on 2 years probation and have to pay the $250,000 fine (tough for a guy who has God knows how much $$ in his defense fund), but he serves nary a day.

This comes on the same day that an appeals court unanimously upheld the trial judge's decision that Libby could not stay out of jail pending appeal.

You know, I think I'd mind a pardon less. This is just plan micro-managing the judiciary. Not to mention that Bush has said before he wouldn't get involved as long as Libby still had appeals left.

Doesn't Bush get upset when Congress tries to "micro-manage" the executive branch?

Oh yeah, that's different. And it's a holiday week, so you're not supposed to notice.

Jul 2 2007
06:13 pm

Scooter Libby's sentence commuted.

White House comment line: 202-456-1111

Jul 2 2007
01:17 pm

15-year-old Kenneth Bartley, Jr. is headed back to jail after Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood rejects the boy's bid to have his April plea deal withdrawn in connection with the Campbell County High School shooting case.

This kid was strong-armed into a plea deal he didn't fully understand by an attorney anxious to dump his case and instead of the "justice" the family of Ken Bruce said they wanted, a child is being sentenced to 45 years in prison for first-degree murder when it clearly was not a pre-meditated act. The gun he brought to school that day to trade was unloaded until he was foolishly cornered in a principal's office. Principal Gary Seale had testified that no shots were fired until he attempted to tackle the boy. When lunged at, Bartley loaded the gun and fired killing Bruce, an assistant principal. Seale and assistant principal Jim Pierce were injured.

Jul 2 2007
11:55 am

Glenn and Helen interview Hector Qirko about music and life. The podcast is available in several formats at the link.

Jul 2 2007
11:52 am

President Bush, July 2, 2003:

There are some who feel like -- that the conditions are such that they can attack us there [Iraq]. My answer is, bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.

Four years later we've got approximately the same-sized force dealing with the security situation . . . and the insurgents are still bringing it on.

Jul 2 2007
11:51 am

Here are some local SiCKO reviews from last Friday's showing:

Cathy McCaughan

Doug McCaughan

Tommy's blog (Cathy and Doug's son)

Sarah's blog (Cathy and Doug's daughter)

Whites Creek Steve

Russ McBee

Jonathan Hickman

Katie Allison Granju

Tennessee Jed

KnoxBlab discussion

Doug McCaughan's photos

Let me know if I missed anyone.

Here's my review: The next time some wingnut tells me to move to France, I just might.

P.S. The KNS reviewer says it tells us what we already knew and offers no solutions. She likes Bruce Willis, though.

Jul 2 2007
11:14 am

Over the next few weeks we can expect to hear from a lot of patriotic right-wing "fact checkers" who haven't and won't see the movie bashing that communist Michael Moore and his manufactured "liberal myths" about health care in the US.

Here's one that made me laugh:

Britons, Canadians and Frenchmen purchase their "free" coverage through their taxes. In America, 44.7 percent of health expenditures came from tax-funded government spending in 2004, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports. In Canada, that figure was 69.8 percent; while in France it was 78.4. Fully 86.3 percent of British health spending was taxpayer-funded.

So what? What kind of ridiculous non sequitur argument is that? Here are some facts that are more relevant:

Health care expenditures
US Canada UK France
Per capita $5711 $2669 $2428 $2981
% of GDP 15.2% 9.9% 8% 10.1%
% of gov. revenues 18.5% 16.7% 15.8% 14.2%

The Kaiser Family Foundation also has this. There appears to be serious waste and inefficiency somewhere in our system. I wonder where? Oh, and regarding all those taxes they pay for health insurance, see here.

UPDATE: See what I mean? More criticism from someone who hasn't even seen the movie. He should have taken us up on our offer of a free ticket. The most puzzling thing to me, though, is why can't 70% of the people drown out the noise of the 30% dead-enders with facts and logic? I guess we just need to make more noise.

UPDATE: Simply amazing. A plea to all wingnuts. Yes, don't see the movie. It is more entertainment than fact anyway. Except for a few heartbreaks and eyeopeners. But no, you don't need to see it to know that the American health care system is broken. But please do your homework and keep an open mind when the rest of us start pushing for reforms. And if you're going to fight it, you might want to bring your A game instead of this "Michael Moore is a communist liar" bullshit. And while your at it, please point us to the entertaining movie that portrays what a great health care system we have in America.

Jul 2 2007
10:38 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

You may notice that Google Ads no longer appear on this site. Here's why.

Jul 2 2007
08:40 am
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

We were eating out on the porch last night and witnessed some young men lighting fireworks in the back parking lot of WATE TV 6. from their entry in and out the back door, they were likely employees or friends of employees of WATE.

This was going on next to some very dry brush, adjacent of course to Brownlow School. We called the station, rather than KPD, and asked them to stop. They did.

Just a reminder folks: We are under extreme drought conditions, and fireworks are illegal in the city of Knoxville.

Use of fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1000 and/or six months in jail.

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July traditionally presents the biggest fire danger to citizens and is the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due to fireworks. Fireworks include devices which make a visible or audible effect when set off and the Knoxville ordinance specifically outlaws possession and use of sparklers, skyrockets and firecrackers. Paper caps such as those used in a toy cap pistol, which contain 25-hundredths of a grain of explosive content per cap, are the only items allowed under the ordinance unless the user has a permit from the Knoxville Fire Department. Snap caps have been declared in violation of State Law. The Knoxville Fire Department responds to more fires on this day than any other in the year. Most occur in dry brush and grass, but several homes are destroyed or damaged on this holiday. Fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.


Jul 2 2007
08:28 am

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

The "Second" verse and everything else.

(A pat on the back to all who can quote the last line from memory)

Jul 2 2007
08:16 am

The Carlyle Group, Ex president George herbert Walker Bush's military industrial Saudi conglomerate, wants to take over the media, too.

Jul 1 2007
10:23 am
By: Up Goose Creek  shortURL

It's a beautiful day today, low humidity, light breeze, abundant sunshine. I hope you'll consider putting a load or two of laundry out on the line to dry. If you need more motivation, rent the video Kilowatt Ours which demonstrates what goes into making the electricity used to dry your clothes.

A few handy hints: don't use clothespins, they are a hassle. Fold the clothes over the line and the first step in folding is already accomplished. Hang shirts on a plastic hanger, if you stretch them taut they might not need ironing. Go ahead and put the small stuff in the dryer if you don't want that hassle to discourage you from line drying.

You may not have a place set up for outside drying. I hope this post motivates you to create one. It is supposed to be dry on Wednesday as well. Wouldn't it be great to celebrate Independance Day by declaring a little bit of independance from the utility companies?


The 23rd Sigh

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war,
I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.


The first thought that comes to mind regarding health care in France and the UK as portrayed in Sicko is "oh my God their income taxes must be outrageous!"

Michael Moore artfully dodges this in the movie, focusing instead on the standard of living, disposable income, and the like.

He might as well have laid it all out, though, because it's not nearly as bad as you might imagine. In fact, it's a pretty good deal.

Here's what I was able to figure out.

First of all, some examples of income taxes paid in the respective countries (all converted to US dollars):

Income tax on $50,000
US Canada UK France
$6945 $8144 $8156 $7915

Income tax on $100,000
US Canada UK France
$19,965 $20,347 $22,773 $23,899

So there's not that much difference, in the relative scheme of things.

Ironically, corporate tax rates are actually lower in France (33%) and the UK (28%) v. up to 39% but generally around 34% in the US. The capital gains tax in France is higher at 26% v. 15% in the U.S. Capital gains in the UK are taxed the same as income for individuals, with the first £8,800 exempt.

One thing that isn't made very clear in the movie is that the French system is a single-payer "universal health insurance" plan (as opposed to "socialized medicine"), much like if we opened up Medicare to everyone. Employers pay about 12% and employees pay about 1% for mandatory enrollment in "social security", which includes a retirement benefit plus universal health insurance that covers up to 70% of most medical costs (100% for maternity related costs). Supplemental insurance is available for another 8% to get virtually 100% coverage. Most of us pay about 15% for a retirement benefit (the wealthy only pay about 3% on much of their income) and limited medical coverage for those over the age of 65 and the disabled and the poor.

The UK has "universal health care", which means health care is provided and paid for by the government. It is funded by combination of employer/employee payroll taxes in a complicated calculation that, best I can figure, works out to about 13% of earnings over a certain amount. This provides retirement benefits and free universal health care for all.

So, our hypothetical employee who earns $50,000 per year would pay the following in income tax and "social security" payroll deductions (employee and employer combined).

$50,000 income (USD)
US France UK
Payroll Tax $7500 $10,500 $5760
Income Tax $6945 $7915 $8156
Total Taxes $14,445 $18,415 $13,916

In this example, the French employee is paying the extra 8% in supplemental insurance so 100% of their medical care is covered. With the basic plan that covers 70% of their health care costs, the payroll tax would only be $6500, and their total taxes would be $14,415. And keep in mind that the US employee (and/or his/her employer) still has to pay for health insurance.

But then there's the Value Added Tax (VAT), similar to sales tax but not exactly. The VAT in France is 19.6% and 5.5% on groceries. In the UK it's 17.5% and zero on groceries (books, children's clothing, and several other categories are also exempt in the UK, and others are taxed at a reduced rate).

So, some example VAT/sales taxes would be:

VAT, $200 worth of groceries
Tennessee France UK
$18.50 $11 $0

VAT, $300 worth of children's clothing
Tennessee France UK
$27.75 $58.80 $0

VAT, $500 TV
Tennessee France UK
$46.25 $98 $87.50

It's more complicated than this because VAT is included in the price and it's hard to understand how it's all calculated from manufacturer to consumer. Sales taxes in Canada range from 6% (Alberta) to 16.6% (Prince Edward Island) depending on the province. It's 14% in Ontario.

Going back to the previous example of combined employer and employee income and "social security" taxes, here's the same example with only the employee's portion, i.e. take-home pay after payroll deductions:

Take-home pay, $50,000 income (USD)
US France UK
Payroll Tax $3750 $4500 $4352
Income Tax $6945 $7915 $8156
Take-home $39,305 $37,585 $37,492

So the British and the French take home a little less and pay a little more in VAT, but their health care is fully covered (the French employee is still paying the 8% for 100% coverage). The American employee still has to pay for health insurance (anywhere from $600 to $3000 per year in payroll deductions depending on the type of policy and company size), and most also pay additional state and local income taxes (for example, approx. $2500 in Georgia, $3000 in North Carolina, or $3900 in NYC).

So, yes, providing universal insurance coverage or universal health care for everyone would cost a little more in taxes, but not that much more. And think of the savings, not to mention peace of mind and security. It seems pretty clear that it would be a better deal than the $2 trillion we spend now that leaves nearly 50 million people behind and gives false hope to the other 250 million who think they are insured until they file a claim.

NOTE: Feel free to factcheck and correct any of this. It's all pretty complicated and this is the simplified version. It's hard to dig up some of this info, so any help is appreciated. It seems like this is a "myth" that needs to be debunked.

Jun 30 2007
06:54 am

"To fight fleas and ticks, he has used a folk remedy. A tobacco chewer, he saves the juice and sprays it on the lawn."

Sometimes creativity and home remedies are the only things that allow people living in rural areas without free spay clinics to help an ever increasing population of stray or abandoned animals.


"Tina Churchwell, head of the humane society in McNairy County, where Finger and Selmer are situated, calls 12 dogs her own and has set up a makeshift shelter at her home, kennels holding 22 other dogs she hopes might be adopted. The society is searching for money to build a proper shelter on land the county has offered, but community support is lacking, Ms. Churchwell said."

The Humane Society does what it can, but too few vets and a population that can't afford to pay for their services is creating a potentially serious health situation. Tammy Rouse, the Applachian coordinator for volunteer service has her hands full.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing artery,” she said. “Spay-neuter has to go hand in hand with education and legislation.”

It sounds like the only thing that could turn this situation around would be to have a team of vets and volunteer assistants form a group similar to "Doctors Without Borders". There probably aren't enough of these here in Tennessee, so it would have to be an effort that would attract vets and vet students from all over the country. A kind of tent meeting of professionals that could set up for a week or two. There is a long history of tent revivals here. Why not use this old fashioned idea to save the souls and lives of all the unwanted dogs and cats in areas that are too far from vet services or owned by people too poor to afford them? This would of course take a combination of county, state, and federal monies.

Fat chance of that.

We've gone over this territory before, and some people will say there should be laws to stop poor people from having animals, but that is about as logical as expecting poor people to not have babies. Education is always the best answer of course, but in the meantime the crisis is growing.

It's really sad to know that local problems that only affect a few rural people can't be resolved because most of our state and federal money is going to large causes like homeland security. We are slowly becoming a bankrupt nation. Little is being done to improve employment in rural areas.

Domesticated animals are low on our priority list in spite of the fact that dogs and cats have been our loyal best friends for generations. In cases like this one it will take more than local resources to get the situation under control.

Fat chance of that.

Jun 29 2007
12:29 pm

Come join local Democrats on Friday, June 29, for a Family Cookout at Victor Ashe Park. The Party will provide hot dogs and cold drinks--please bring a covered dish to share. This yearly cookout has become a fun tradition for local Democrats, with lots of great food and great conversation, so come join us as we get the Independence Day celebrations underway a little early.

When: Friday, June 29 at 6 p.m.
Where: Victor Ashe Park at 4901 Bradshaw Road.

Our event will take place at the picnic shelter, but you are encouraged to enjoy the park's many amenities while you are there. The park covers 115 acres and has a lake, a playground, a paved loop and an unpaved trail, an 18-hole disc golf course, and a completely fenced, off-leash dog park. There is no charge for this event.

For more information, contact Amy Broyles at 237-6538 or

Jun 29 2007
12:07 pm

We noticed a bunch of Mini Coopers running around Alcoa last night, and wondered if there's some kind of club meet in town or something.

Sure enough, the Mini Meet East 2007 is in town.

They're set up at the Springbrook Corporate Center at the Jameson and Holiday Inn and Mainstay motels (near Texas Roadhouse, O'Charley's, SunBank, etc. off Hall Road).

The Maryville paper says there will be up to 200 Mini Coopers there. Looks like there will be a road rally on Saturday and an autocross on Sunday. Check the website for other goings on and more details.

Jun 29 2007
11:58 am

For those who might not have seen it, here is the latest in the Deathmania match between Herb Moncier and Tim Hutchison.

My first thought when I read this article was that the chancellor did about what she should have done, given what was presented to her.

My second thought was that the Sheriff Department's moving Hutchison to another position where he would allegedly qualify for his big bucks pension even if he is decertified is more of the same pungent good old boy shinola we've come to expect from Knox County government, in my opinion.

My third thought was that, when Hutchison dies, Herb will seek an injunction preventing burial until Herb can: 1) open the casket, 2) determine by DNA testing that it is indeed the body of Tim Hutchison in the casket, 3) establish by competent expert medical testimony that the body is indeed dead, and 4) drive a silver stake through its heart.

My fourth thought was that, before Herb can file his motion, the Knox County Sheriff Office will have had the body placed in a hermetically sealed titanium ICBM casing, buried in an abandoned nuclear missile silo, and encased in a mile of steel reinforced cement. A referendum on burial of the missile will have been held before this is done, presenting the move in a six figure PR campaign as an anti-terrorist measure necessary to the survival of Knox County, and having no significant financial impact. The day before the referendum, it will come out that Hutchison's body will be buried in the missile, and that it will cost the taxpayers five million dollars. The referendum will nonetheless pass 51% to 49%.

I sometimes get carried away, but it helps to have inspiration.


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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)