After the recent MLB All-Star game, Fox host Sean Hannity did a "closer look" at "Presidential Pitching" form (Hat tip to Hoffmania.com) on his evening tripefest. As with almost everything on Hannity's show, the segment's primary aim was to disparage President Obama. On this occasion, Hannity made great sport of the fact that Obama "throws like a girl." To "prove" his point, Hannity flashed this image:
Ha, ha. See? Then, Hannity went on to show visually how the very manly George W. Bush, in contrast, pitched just like a major leaguer:
Hannity, probably rightfully, assumes his viewers will neither notice or care that the photos are taken a) at different stages of the pitch, and b) from completely different angles.
If you compare apples to apples, or in this case, prez to prez, George W. Bush also "throws like a girl."
Actually, as anyone knows who's ever seen pictures of major league pitchers in mid-throw, the elbow always precedes the hand as the arm passes the pitcher's head. So here's Hall of Famer Roger Clemens pitching like a girl.
What this really demonstrates, of course, is the obvious -- that Sean Hannity has no integrity whatsoever -- and no balls.
So I went to check out Justin Timberlake's new golf course, Mirimichi, on Friday, which was media day. JT was there, of course, and made a brief welcoming speech. His parents, Paul and Lynn Harless, run the place, which is similar to the old Big Creek golf course only in the sense that it roughly follows the former layout. The fairways have been narrowed by plots of long grasses and bordering water hazards. The greens are slick and perfect, with lots of tricky undulations and surrounding traps. It's a very tough track. Whether or not the average hacker is going to want to mess around in the tall grass looking for errant shots is anyone's guess. I'll give the lad and his parents big ups for ambition. It's a potential world-class golf facility. Here's hoping they can bring golfy back to Millington.
Members of the media got to play a round, and judging from the number of folks I saw chopping out of the deep stuff, it's probably safe to say the course got the better of most of them. On the signature hole, number 11, a beautiful par 3 set next to a waterfall and fronted by a large pond, JT himself teed off with each group. He was briskly cordial, not particularly warm and friendly, which is probably par for the course (heh) for any mega-celeb who's been in the public eye from childhood. He is obviously proud of the course.
For the record, he "choked down on a 7 iron" for the 165-yard shot. His swing is quick and strong. His form is solid. The forecaddy on the green said Timberlake had birdied the hole almost every time he'd played it on Friday. Not so, with our group. He hit it right of the green and it bounced into the drink. I did the same thing, for the record. So we've got that in common.
Seventh-District Representative Marsha Blackburn recently opened her mouth and offered this pearl of wisdom. Not a good week for local Repubs.
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
One for the blooper reel: New Orleanians have had to respond to so many uninformed comments about Hurricane Katrina and our recovery that at times we've felt like we're swatting mosquitoes. But almost four years after the storm we should be done with that kind of stuff, right? Apparently not.
Congressional Quarterly quoted a pearl from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, who was arguing for stricter pay-as-you-go rules. Rep. Blackburn hoped lawmakers would agree "that we're not going to cry 'emergency' every time we have a Katrina, every time we have a tsunami, every time we have a need for extra spending," CQ reported Wednesday.
The appropriate reply came from Rep. Michael Arcuri, of New York: "If Katrina was not an emergency, and did not merit emergency spending, then I cannot in my wildest imagination [say] what would."
Finding hypocrisy in politics — on either side — isn't difficult, but it's seldom been easier to point out than in the recent case of U.S. Army Major Stephen Cook. Cook, as you probably know, has refused orders to redeploy to Afghanistan because he believes President Obama was born in Kenya. That would mean Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and unqualified to be president. Cook believes he doesn't have to obey orders from a faux Commander in Chief. Cook is what's come to be called a "birther."
Nevermind that Obama's birth certificate was certified as genuine by the state of Hawaii or that his birth notice was in the local paper at the time of his birth — in Birther World, Obama has not proven he was born in the U.S. Of course, they offer no proof to support their counter-claims, just innuendo and repeated rumors.
It's pretty nuts, but that's okay. There have always been loonies and conspiracy theorists among us. It's a proud American tradition. Not much anyone can do about it. What bugs me, though, is, as I said, the hypocrisy. When some U.S. soldiers advocated withdrawal from Iraq a couple years back, Rush Limbaugh labeled them "phony soldiers." Fox News pundits, including Ann Coulter, called them "traitors." When decorated war veteran Rep. John Murtha raised objections to the Iraq war, Coulter said he should be fragged. Now, Cook is refusing deployment to a war zone. Surely, that's a phony soldier's traitorous act, worthy of fragging, right?
Nope. Instead, Fox News has been posting at least one "birther" story every day. (The latest featured an accompanying picture of Obama in native Kenya garb, taken during trip to Africa a few years back.) Cook is treated as a noble patriot, standing up for what he believes in. Apparently, the suits at Fox believe that the more credence they can lend to this phony birther story, the better their viewers will like it. As I said, there have always been nuts and conspiracy theorists among us — they just never had their own "news" network before.
So yeah, I've been slowly lured into the sticky briarpatch of Twitter lately. And to make it even worse, colleague Chris Davis introduced me to Tweetdeck, an application that quintuples (at least) the fun. You can set up search boxes that let you know whenever anyone Twitters about a subject you're interested in (like yourself, or in my case, my son's band, The Memphis Flyer, etc.). It's nuts and a constant diversion if you don't turn it off once in awhile.
For the past two days, Davis has gotten involved in Twitterfests with subject lines such as: Bad Game Shows, Icky Reality Shows, Failed Westerns, etc. The idea is to come up with titles, i.e. Bad Game Shows: The Newly Dead Game, Wheel of Misfortune, The Bong Show, and — my favorite — Pittsburgh Squares.
Failed Westerns (many of these are from Davis) included: The Magnificent Number Two, A Fistful of Deloris, The Cavity Searchers, and Big Hand for the Little Labia.
Failed Reality Shows: The Real Houseflies of Orange County, SuperTranny, The Real World: Calcutta, America's Next Top, etc. etc. etc.
It's impossible to stop once you get started. So I hope you have nothing else to do this weekend. Send along your own and join the fun.
You may have seen the story we posted earlier today about the likely prospect that The Commercial Appeal is going to outsource its printing to a press in Tupelo, Mississippi. The suits over at 495 Union may have all the logistics of this move figured out, but as the editor of a paper that prints on Tuesday nights in Jackson, Tennessee, I know a little about the logistics of getting papers delivered from out of town. And sometimes, it's a bitch.
When I pull into the Flyer lot on Wednesday morning, the first thing I do is look at the dock to see if the papers have arrived. Usually they're stacked on skids in shiny plastic wrap, waiting to be tossed into delivery vehicles. But at least 10 or 12 times a year, the dock will be empty. When this happens, it's usually press problems, sometimes bad weather, and sometimes mechanical trouble with the truck. Almost always, we have papers by mid- to late-morning and the drivers then come in and schlep the bundles off to Huey's, Schnuck's, Starbucks, and wherever else your favorite weekly paper is distributed.
But nobody expects the Flyer to be waiting on their front steps at 6:30 every morning. And Tupelo is farther away than Jackson. Seems to me, the press run would have to be over by no later than 3:00 a.m. to allow time for the papers to be loaded on trucks, make a two-hour drive, be unloaded, stuffed into bags by drivers and distributed all over town. Adding two or more hours to the production process is a gamble, in my humble (and mostly speculative) opinion. If my CA isn't on my front lawn in time for me to read it with my morning coffee, it becomes useless to me. Maybe deadlines will be moved up.
Like I said, it's only speculation. Take it for what it's worth.
This is priceless. I particularly like the quotes from the guys in bars. And the bar owner's take: "Rednecks, guns, and alcohol don't mix." Except in the state legislature, I suppose.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Difference Makers - Doug Jackson|
Today is the first day you can legally pack your legal pistol(s) into a restaurant that serves alcohol in Tennessee. The Memphis Restaurant Association is offering pre-printed "No Guns" signs to association members who want them. I'm very curious to see which option my regular joints choose. I'm also wondering how long before we'll have to add a "Guns Allowed" or "No Guns" icon to our restaurant listings.
This is no small thing. I mean, well, it is actually small, but a publication's restaurant listings are gold. The public relies on them, in print and increasingly online, to be accurate and up to date. Memphis magazine staffers spend many hours making calls to keep the listings fresh. (The Flyer uses the same listings on its website.) The mag's listings are without question the most complete and accurate in town. People will want to know if a restaurant allows guns, just as they want to know if a restaurant serves wine or is handicap accessible. There's a little symbol box in the magazine that accompanies the listings. "B" means breakfast; FB means full bar; MRA means the restaurant is a member, etc. So will we add a "GA" icon or a "NG" icon?
We'll probably decide based on which one will mean less work for the staff. If most restaurants allow guns, then it would be easier to go the "NG" route, since there would fewer changes to make. Decisions, decisions. Damn you, Tennessee legislature.
You know what I'd really, really, really like to see? All Tennessee Applebee's with an "NG". Heh. Probably won't happen, though. Damn you, Applebee's.
I'm also really curious to see how a particular restaurant's stand on guns might impact large dinner groups, where some in the group might be boycotting certain restaurants for their stand — either way — on guns. The mind boggles at the possibilities when, say, a large civic group has to pick a restaurant for its annual dinner.
Fun times. I'm going out after work for a shot and a beer at Celtic. Maybe.
Most Memphians I've talked to over the past few days have one thing on their mind: The continuing soap opera at City Hall in the wake of Mayor Herenton's resignation/retirement/do-over/whatever. It's been a nonstop episode of "who's on first?"
A professional wrestler, Jerry Lawler, throws his leotard into the mayor's race, and in one of the more irony-challenged statements of all time, claims it's because the city "has become a laughingstock." Kenneth Whalum, a school board member and minister famous for posting the line, "Jesus Said, Bring Me That Ass", among other stupid things, on his church's marquee, believes he can bring dignity back to the office and, just incidentally, keep it in African-American hands, where he thinks it belongs. Former city councilman Edmund Ford has all but declared he plans to run, bringing his own special brand of crazy posturing to the fray. County mayor AC Wharton, the odds-on favorite, goes on Thaddeus Matthews' radio loon-party and chuckles and smiles as Tha Matt throws all manner of racist crap in his face.
Toss in some of the usual suspects — Myron Lowery, Carol Chumney, Herman Morris, Sharon Webb, Charles Carpenter and no doubt others — and it's about as scary a spectacle of a mayor's race as one could possibly imagine. Think for a moment about this entire bunch up on a "debate" stage together, moderated by, say, Otis Sanford and Joe Birch. That show could rival anything Jerry Springer could come up with. The YouTube possibilities alone are wondrous to ponder.
So yes, things are scary here in Memphis, Tennessee. The upcoming mayor's race promises to be terrifying and ridiculous. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that a major American city is faced with the very real possibility of electing a totally unqualified or totally nuts — or both — human being as its mayor.
How could it get any worse? I don't know. But I can think of one thing to be thankful for — that it wasn't Janis Fullilove's year to be City Council chairman. Interim Mayor Janis Fullilove! How does that sound to you? Whee!
I want to praise some outlets in the American media for their remarkable restraint in not over-covering the death of Michael Jackson. For example, I just tuned into the Travel Channel, and not a word from Anthony Bourdain! Also, on the Food Network, they were checking out American diners, and tastefully ignoring Jackson's tragic passage into ForeverLand. Likewise, on the Outdoors Channel, the smallmouth bass fishermen on lake Ocheewonka went about their business with admirable dignity, never once uttering MJ's name.
Over on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, E, Comedy Central, etc. etc. etc. — it was a slightly different story. ELEPHANTS! Crying family members! Fans with MJ tattoos! Elephants with MJ tattoos! Matt Lauer with an MJ tattoo! Crying elephants! A parade with a coffin!! Hysterical crying fans with elephant tattoos! CELEBRITIES! MUSIC!
As John Lennon said when hearing of Elvis Presley's death: "Good career move." I say, let the poor man die in peace, already. This is unseemly stuff. Thankfully, nothing else is going on in the world, so our major news outlets can focus on what's really important.
Reportedly, when Jackson was asked in 1992 about what he would want at his funeral, he said: "It's going to be the greatest show on earth. That's what I want. Fireworks and everything."
If you lie down with dogs, you may wake up with fleas. Similarly, if you go on a radio show hosted by a political opportunist, don't be surprised if he asks you questions designed to embarrass you. I'm speaking, of course, of Thaddeus Matthews, who asked you the following question: "Is it important to you as a black man that blacks stay in control of the mayor's office?"
You fluffed it, Mr. Mayor, stumbling around trying to assuage Matthews and any potential voters you thought you might displease by giving a straightforward answer, which would go something like this:
"What's important, Thaddeus, is that the city of Memphis elect the best possible people to run this city. I happen to be black, and I happen to think I am the best man for this job. I will represent all the citizens of Memphis to the best of my ability, be they black, white, or any other shade of the rainbow. With the election of Barack Obama, this country has shown that we can move beyond racism. It's time for Memphis to do the same. Your question is an insult, Thaddeus. And you are an embarrassment. Good day."
That answer, Mr. Wharton, would have gotten you a real headline — and a lot more votes — than the hemming and hawing you offered to Matthews.
It looks to me as if the next 90 days are going to be a free-for-all. The winner of the mayoral election will likely be the candidate who can create a coalition of voters — black, white, and, yes, brown — rather than relying on a segment of one racial base. Wharton is best positioned — right now — to be a unifier, but performances like the one he offered on Matthews' show can only hurt him.
I think Memphis politicians would be best advised to take their cue from Dr. Martin Luther King, and base their campaigns on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That's not idealism, by the way. That's practical advice. Also, it's never a good idea to let yourself be interviewed by a loose cannon with an agenda and a microphone.
From Wikipedia: Asshole (or arsehole in British English) is slang for the anus and is often used as an insult. It is formed from arse, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary has been used since the 11th century to refer to the rump of an animal and since the 14th century to refer to a person's buttocks. The combined form arsehole is first attested from 1500 in its literal use to refer to the anus. ... Its first appearance as an insult term in a newspaper indexed by Google News is in 1965.
At least the mayor has history on his side. In his interview with Jackson Baker in this week's Flyer, Memphis mayor Willie Herenton called his future congressional opponent, Steve Cohen, an "asshole." In discussing what might have happened if he had run into Harold Ford downtown after a heated phone conversation with the former congressman, Herenton said, "I would have whipped his ass." Is there a pattern here?
There is, and it's classic Willie Herenton verbiage, designed to get attention and stir up a reaction — for better or worse. When Jackson called me after the interview on Monday and drolly reported the mayor's remarks, I was amazed but not shocked. I was also a happy editor, since I knew we had a bombshell quote that was sure to draw readers to the paper and to the website. (Is that so wrong?) As I wrote in my column this week, Herenton is the Memphis media's best friend. That doesn't mean it's good for the city. Just the opposite.
At some point — a long time ago, in Herenton's case — the game grew wearisome. Attention for attention's sake makes Herenton a happy man, but it does nothing to move this city forward. Such name-calling antics are divisive, childish, and create heat, not light, at a time when this city desperately needs to unite and move toward the light of progress.
This adolescent, tough-guy chatter needs to become history. The exception being that most Memphians would probably tell the mayor not to let the screen-door hit him in the ass on the way out.
In recent days, lots of folks have begun jumping the HMS Herenton before it leaves the dock, taking lovely parting gifts in the form of 5- and 6-figure pensions. (As God is their witness, they'll never have to guard another body!)
And now, the city's various legal eagles have also signed off on a final parting gift from the taxpayers: A $426,422 payment to cover former MLGW head Joseph Lee's legal fees, owed to former city attorney Robert Spence. Take out weekends and holidays, and Spence billed Lee more than $1,000 a day for the 489 days he handled the case! This bill is absurdly high and if it's not an absolute rip-off of the taxpayers of Memphis, Spence at least should have to prove it. Remember, this case didn't even go to trial!
A little backstory: The MLGW board initially voted to pay Lee's legal fees, because, well, that's how they roll. Keep things cozy and civil. No big deal. What's a half-million-dollar legal fee among friends? The City Council, thinking that $1,000 a day over the course of a year and a half was just a tad excessive, voted not to pay the fees. It should be noted that the council's attorney is former city attorney Alan Wade, who is ALSO a former law partner of Spence's (Thanks, Marty!).
Today, we learned that the city's legal department, headed by current city attorney, Elbert Jefferson, decided to go ahead and "settle" the dispute by paying Lee's bill. I'm not a lawyer (though I'm married to one), but in my experience, a settlement is a compromise. This was more like a full capitulation, a cozy "let's not take this to court" arrangement. It's bullshit. Spence's bill should have been picked apart by Jefferson and fought tooth and nail, in court if necessary -- billed hour by billed hour, charge by charge. If Spence really put in that much time and effort defending Joseph Lee, let's see the evidence -- or let a jury see it.
Let's review, shall we? We have a former city attorney (Spence) getting massive legal fees on behalf of a former MLGW employee and current city employee, Joseph Lee. We have another former city attorney (Wade, a former partner of Spence's, remember) representing the City Council. And we have the current city attorney deciding to "settle" with a former city attorney for the full amount of what appears to be an inflated legal fee, with the blessing of his former partner, another former city attorney.
Something seems very odd here. It's all too cozy. If I'm interim mayor Myron Lowery, the first thing I do is very publicly fight this payment "on behalf of the taxpayers." Then I fire all the lawyers and rebuild the city's legal department, which has been consistently over budget for years. Lowery's got 90 days to show he means business and make a name for himself. AC Wharton's got a head-start and a bucket of cash. Myron's only shot is to very publicly clean up City Hall and make himself the candidate of change. And, dare I say it — hope.