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below-Pics of Halloween on Beale
Arrestee and Arrestor                (more) ↓


The Troop

Amp Man built by Daniel McCartney in the cabin. Participatory, note the unit comes complete with telephone. Coolest on the street.
Most colors.
Leah as Pretty Waif Outside the Theatre or her interpretation of Ms Cruger

Law and Order
Gumbo
Sun Dude
Spirits pass Silky's
Waiting
Just Passing

If we captured you and you'd like a shot or don't see it posted here, email
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And heeeeeres....Chris! Chris Parnell looks contemplative as he takes questions from a few local media members at the 14th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival Nov. 6. He is introduced by volunteer media specialist Christina Meek, who does the same thing not too far away in real life as Communications Specialist for the Greater Memphis Chamber. Parnell is a perfect contributor to the festival. Locally raised, he went on to do summer stock in envious professional places and made people laugh in LA at the the Groundlings Theatre. He was cast member of Saturday Night Live for 8 years and was in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Naturally funny one to one. See more pictues of him here.

Appearing at Indie Memphis at the Playhouse Jonathan Silberberg (left) and former Memphis Three defendant Jason Baldwin. (Story also posted on Demotix.com search “West Memphis Three”)

Oct. 15. Occupy Memphis Civic Center Plaza

Amber 20ll. She has two infant children. Her husband makes $11/hr. She says her dad (inset with framed picture) died with no benefits from a major hospital conglomerate in Memphis.

Herman Cain talks like he will win

On stage, Herman Cain connects and jabs liberals with sarcastic cracks. "I see there are a number of you black conservative racists here today!" The crowd appreciates the punch and applauds.

by BenQQ posted 10.14.11
Bearing distinct Tea Party tenets with which he worked an enthusiastic crowd of about 2,000 that held the same values if not membership, primary Republican candidate Herman Cain hit Memphis to launch his presidential campaign in Tenessee. He fed the crowd. They fed him with several applauses, beginning with his lettintg the crowd in on a "little known secret" of his birth in Memphis. (Previously, someone identified herself as a "direct cousin" over the Tea Party roaming mik as it warmed the crowd before Cain arrived.)

In the Line. His style is not that great shaking hands at a campaign stop. But then, his style is not stylish. He seldom if ever smiles in the grip and grin line back to his SUV that would start his schedule in Tennessee. He hurriedly apologizes to individuals and gestures frustration for not having enough time to answer questions directly except when he fires back at a question he does not like. His supporters crave a political personality much like, if not identical, to their own and he provides.

Seeing candidates live, or at least full speeches on CSPAN, beats any media report. No filters to make "sage" comments and no interruptions short of someone throwing eggs, which did not occur here. You cannot leave the room, answer the phone or respond to an extraneous comment. Ironic, but in a crowd it is only the candidate and you. As a voter of any persuasion, you are seeking a personal connection, a bridge of mind and values between you and the candidate. For this crowd this morning, it was short easy crossing for Herman (despite one undecided iconoclast who objected over the mic to his previous association with the Federal Reserve. The remark became long winded and generally annoyed everybody else.)

contd. right col

Occupy Memphis Chooses the Civic Center Plaza Oct. 15

by BenQQ posted 10.5.11
Much like a British complaint of the American revolutionaries, Hannity calls them unwashed rabble. Coulter says they are harbingers of dictatorship. Varney says, most accurately, they are leftist.

What they "are" is a tiny political breeze that could turn into a gale if they can resist co-option from Democrats, communists and unions. Sounding like a 1968 anthem to "sit in" the student union building in protest of a government created charnel house called Vietnam--a very specific issue--Occupy Memphis brazenly voted yesterday evening to "occupy" the downtown Civic Center Oct. 15 over much broader issues--money, power, greed, corruption.

Could be a classic protest shot from the sixties. From left, Lana McLean, CK Harrington and Bella attend.

One pesky question was thrown to the organizers about what the word "occupy" actually means. The question was never really answered with any detail. But at this point it seemed OK with the about 80 OM members.

But that kind of nonspecific generality is not OK with its critics, especially the well paid members of the established media commentariot who have never faced what working people of all ages now do: dead-end (if any) jobs in an overcrowded job market for the long term. The reason for the Occupiers spontaneous rage on the scene is not what these brilliant radiologues say it is, that is, to get free handouts, have fun and get laid. Well, maybe two out of three.

TV camerman gets a visual with a dog, as I did above. Always good for the nightly news. However, at the planned occupation, one organizer said there would be a sheet of "talking points" when a member is approached by the media. Sounds Republican to me.

But an inchoate poli-street theatre is just beginning to grow over the growing population of have-nots in the face of not only the super wealthy but comparatively well off, (including, in my opinion, those government employees who get higher wages than equal private sector salaries plus budget busting pensions after a short career.) If the Occupy movement grows, different factions may start to compete for messaging the causes and solutions to the current job, among other issues, crisis--everything from free market libertarianism to measures against job absorbing illegal immigrants to Obama style big government leftist programs.
Cont. right col.

media
Emperor Jones works up his subjects
And launches an anti-gay campaign at MCS
Notes on an interview


posted 7.29.11 by Benqq
Egging on an audience that has shown themselves to disapprove of homosexuality to a near hysterical level, as demonstrated when black preachers publicly once turned their backs on Sen. Steve Cohen for merely supporting a gay rights bill, WPLX AM 1180 self described thug-in-chief used interchangeably on air Friday the terms "sissies" and "pedophiles" who he seemed to know worked in the Memphis city school system. A tape that he alleged was the principal of Sheffield High School in a compromising homosexual relationship with a former student, now adult, is posted on http://www.thaddeusmatthews.com.

Mind you, at the time of these outrageous allegations, he had no evidence the principal was a "child molester," nor, for that matter, anyone else at MCS. Oh, no matter. "Thaddy Bear's," as he likes to call himself, notions of homosexuality and criminal child molestation are one in the same, according to his own on-air remarks.
Previous coverage of Thaddy Bear with pictures
The Unholy Alliance of "King Willie" and "Thaddy Bear"
"FEAR AND LOATHING" IN MEMPHIS
FROM WILLIE HERENTON TO WOMEN AND PET OWNERS: DROP DEAD!
Within a day after the posting, Memphis City School Super Kriner Cash said he had removed the principal, Russell Heaston, in a Commercial Appeal article, "It’s not that the tape or the radio show made me take action." Yeah, right. But then Cash added information that raised more questions: "The action was taken last year. But that all has taken it to another level because it is in the public domain. And that has an impact on the individual and his family."

This all seems vaguely litigious--after all, no laws were broken, the tape was shot secretly where Heaston had assumed reasonable privacy, was used in his apparent attempted extortion and subsequently aired on Matthews' Web site, where Matthews, without any substantiated fact, accused him of being a "child molester." And then he is fired from his position.

Smell another lawsuit wafting through the halls of MCS, always creative in making a target of itself. I bet you can pick up that smell, as well as others, at WPLX.

Regardless, Cash would have us believe its just a mere coincidence the personnel "action" was taken just one day after WPLX owner/on-air-commentor Thaddeus Matthews conducted a live interview with the man whom allegedly had a "relationship" with the MCS principal?

WREG-TV, who first broke the story several months ago well before Matthews got wind of it, reported today the young man's name as one "Montario Hall" (sp) while Thaddeus reported the man's name was "Christian Shawn" (sp), though he used an alias during the interview. WREG-TV did not run the more salacious parts of the tape. Matthews inferred ownership of the tape by claiming if they wanted to run it, the station would have to contact him. Has Matthews obtained legal ownership of the tape?

Regardless, Matthews never used the word "alleged" in the interview, nor in any subsequent commentary, all of which Matthews effusively lauded himself as a prime interviewer. He accepted the young man's, now early twentysomething and separated from Sheffield, allegations without question. Surprisingly, in the interview, the young man said his motivationhe was to expose Heaston, for personal reasons, on a secretly recorded video tape. He said he was upset the principal had not come through with promises of a job and not acting as a "mentor."

Upon a call the young man said he received from Heaston he accepted a rendevous at the former's apartment where he made the video after Heaston's dinner engagement with deacons and their wives at an East Memphis restaurant. Matthews said Heaston at the time was a deacon at Oak Grove Baptist Church on Stage Road, a fact totally extraneous to the story.

Without apparent satisfaction from Heaston, Hall/Shawn, inexplicably in Matthews interview, took the tape to Memphis police. They, Hall/Shawn said, then arrested him for extortion for which he said he remained in jail for twenty hours. He said Heaston nor the MCS wanted to pursue charges. The tape, which Matthews apparently received via Hall/Shawn last month, undeniably showed Hall/Shawn and Heaston in an intimate situation.

So, with only claims from an embittered and phony homosexual paramour on a mission to extort, Matthews bangs his tin drum that the principal is a child molester preying on students at Sheffield. Matthews stated objective is to drive the principal without due process (or even an interview as mentioned above) from the education profession. Revoltingly, as he has done before in another case commented upon here, he announced the name of his wife, her employer and the address of their residence and did not tamp down callers comments who wanted Heaston "thrown off the bridge" or "shot."

The great journalist who had not even contacted Heaston for his side, said nothing to calm his audience whom he had worked up easily into a blood thirsty slather. He should show solid evidence Heaston is a child molester, as he claims. That tape doesn't do it nor do remarks from a disappointed young man who Matthews himself opined was "sexually confused." (And where did he get his psych degree? Or law degree for that matter.) Oh, I forget, "book learning" is not what its cracked up to be, according to Matthews.

ABC 24 Fox TV sanitizes Rev. Wright--with a smile
posted 6.30.11 by Benqq
Monday ABC 24 chose to broadcast, in effect, an uncritical, if not downright promotional, story of black liberation theologian Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Sunday sermons to two large local churches with scant reference to what the "preacher's preacher" got him in the news in the first place--oddball sensationalistic racial theories and rants before church members, one of which for almost 20 years included President Barach Obama.

Is ABC 24 so afraid of raising the ire of its audience it cannot report the whole story? And in this case the story is not just another paid minister coming in to town on a preaching circuit in which, by the way, he extolls questionable racial theories (see link below), which could have been the subject of the story.

Rev. Wright, who reportedly officiated both at Obama's wedding and baptism of his children, slithered up to the national stage during Obama's campaign with remarks like "God bless America...? No!... God Damn America! and "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me," reportedly said after Obama finally severed their near lifelong relationship for political reasons.

The good reverend and fellow traveler to Minister Louis Farrakhan, another politically exploitive messenger from God, is also famously known for his remark that "chickens come home to roost" after the 9/11 terror attacks, the U.S. is "the land of the greed and the home of the slave" and for his belief HIV is a US government plot to wipe out the black population (which apparently breaks from his church doctrine that AIDs was created by God to punish Gays).

But precious little of that background appeared in the story or from Good Morning MidSouth host April Norris. Instead she touted Wright's earned and honorary degrees and more as if this preacher on the speaking circuit had deigned to descend majestically from the clouds. With a charming smile she cooed, "very impressive" (sic) at the end of the story that was full of glowing comments from church supporters. Viewers had just been administered a PR horse pill for Wright and the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. But April made it go down so easy.

Another black nationalist preacher, though local and therefore more entertaining, who escapes generally local media scrutiny as well is here.

Oddly, despite other video stories of the day posted, we could not find the story after searching on the ABC 24 Web site. We made a request as to a link to the news department, anchor April Norris and the Webmaster but received no reply. Apparently, Wright's tour is geared toward discussing the differences as he sees them between African Americans and other Americans. Apparently on a speaking tour, his comments made this morning at a church in Savannah, GA, covered by the Savannah Morning News, can be found here.

(Memphis 7.9.11) Artists Lance Legacy ("Keep It Real") and Wind Davis attended the party at Ardent Studios screening the Memphis Music Foundation commercial featuring Keia Johnson and art by Lamar Sorrento. Inset: Kurt "KC" Clayton, music teacher and producer/ceo of KC Productions, greets recordist Joe Mulherin. Pictures

Requiem for a Southern College
Lambuth says Goodbye
posted May 30, 2011 copy and pics by Benqq

A papier mache' figure, perhaps used in an art class, gestures beseechingly to the crowd attending Saturday's auction of books and antiques of Lambuth University in the former Student Union Building. Sadly, right outside this large room in the hall was an activities board, still announcing student meetings and fall registration.

(Jackson, TN) Going the way of big building retail stores and analog, Methodist church affiliated Lambuth University in an auction May 28 that consisted, romanticists might say, of selling little parts of its soul--books and antiquities, some of which the college housed since its beginning in 1843. That's 1843.

It was an auction of "the personal property of Lambuth University," said the brochure of the Stevens Auction Company, making the selling of individual items a kind of necessary but undignified disbursement from a deceased friend, a friend most of us never even knew.
Sorority and Fraternity Row

Now, I'm not a believer that you get a better education with big tuitions supporting Georgian architecture. My only affiliation with Lambuth was when a student at Memphis State University, I drove up Hwy. 90 on Sat. nights to crash the "malt bar" in the student union building--about the only dependable social gathering (at least that I knew of) available to non fraternity and sorority members. I was received as an intrepid traveller from the West, with a car.

Local news carried it as a kind of bake sale to raise money for teachers and staff who had gone without pay in its last weeks. But it is a tragic end to a school that hit, like many private colleges, federal student loan policies. Those policies require colleges to maintain self support other than from tuition from federal student loans. If that does not happen, the school no longer qualifies for student loans. Blown over. Behind an historical marker in front of the administration building, a tree lies near the street.

Cont'd right col


posted May 28 Rudy Williams, known as the "Mayor of Beale Street," went missing May 24 and has not been seen since. Update 7/2: his body was found not far from his home a few days later. The reason for his demise is yet unknown. Long live The Mayor. 2006 photo by Benqq.
Future Movies Playing Now in Our Heads

Arnold and the Housekeeper
A rollicking poli-holly bedroom farce starring Jim Belushi as the family values, iron pumping Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger, Holly Berry (only because I like Holly Berry to play everybody) as Oprah Winfrey who swung the enthralled voters to him early on her show, Sandra Bullock--drawing from real life experience of her husband siring a child with another paramour--as long suffering spouse Maria, and Memphis' own Kathy Bates as the unlikely housekeeper mistress who captured Arnold's heart years ago, thus proving everyone has a chance. Watch Arnold, Sandra and Kathy duck into swinging doors in the Governor's Mansion as they bump into each other in total darkness and Kathy hides in a bedroom closet as Maria looks suspiciously at Arnold. See them mistakenly say the other's name in the most hilariously inappropriate moments while, during the day, the muscle headed Governor calls for family values as he drives the state into bankruptcy, awarding tax payer money to millions of illegal aliens, extragant state worker pay and pension plans! Sad ending? Not in Hollywood where the voters get shafted every time but the players keep up the gig. The houekeeper gets millions in movie and book rights, Maria is showered with TV reporting jobs for being, well, Maria, and the Governator? He just says laconically, "Stay tuned for my next move."

Naked Power and the Maid
Starring Gerard Depardieu as the accused IMF chief and, of course, Holly Berry as the maid. A tense psychological drama of why a guy who runs the IMF and probably about to become president of France allegedly has to jump naked from a hotel bathroom to assault a maid. But has the maid, who fled as a political refugee from Guinea, a West African hell hole until recently brutally controlled by a mass murdering military junta that just loved the old Soviet Union, spied a class enemy from whom she can bleed millions? Former International Moneytary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn made millions (and is married to the top talk show host in Europe) supposedly helping developing third world countries. The story ends predictably with Depardieu skirting jail time, barred from ever returning to the US and paying the maid $20 million in restitution. Of course he returns to his socialist buddies in France and hailed as an oppressed hero.
Our Current World

5/18/11.From CNN, the reason given by an ivy league foreign language student why he wouldn't work for the Central Intelligence Agency: "The CIA has a reputation of being secretive."
A Wonderful Commencement Event Worked Perfectly for the President
by BenQQ, posted 5/17/05

Memphis--The graduating students at Booker T. Washington deserve credit. So does President Obama. He didn't have to come to Memphis. This was his town to start with.

But he worked it like a campaign stop, which, let's face it, it was. He kept it personable, sincere and fun--as did the student speakers. His speech and reaction of the students were a pleasure to watch on TV. Nevertheless, it was a PR opportunity beyond compare where all the actors, White House staff, Secret Service and the media came together to deliver a single message, at least for the moment: this guy can't be beat.

Such events starring this media president leave disorganized Republicans floundering like sparrows behind the afterburn of Air Force One.

Indeed, the dynamics of the story impelled local media to become transmitters of the feel good news story of the year, at least here in Memphis, worthy of another uplifting movie like the Blind Side or, perhaps more appropriately, Precious.

Coming on the heels of killing Osama, which we can probably expect to be another book by Mark Bowden (Killing Pablo, Black Hawk Down) and publicly humiliating Trump, plus more, Obama hit a home run in all sectors from the moment he jogged athletically from Air Force One to waiting well wishers at Memphis International. The reason for his appearance in Memphis guaranteed inoculation from any critical comments about policies that in fact affect especially minority high school graduates.

These are policies like his aim to provide in effect defacto amnesty to eleven million illegal immigrants, which will wash over available entry level jobs to high school graduates and job seekers of all ages. Or printing money to pay for the debt and out of control government that reduces the value of the few dollars these graduates will earn if they find a job in a city that has more unemployment than the national average and has lost over 58,000 jobs from '07-'10, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I hope the local and state government officials weren't carried away too much by the moment of winning "Race to the Top," considering other states are eating our lunch, excuse the Trumpian lingo, in attracting and streamlining the process of employer settlement in their areas and bypassing Memphis.

Apparently yesterday nobody had the opportunity to ask the central question to Barack Obama: does the policy of advancing the welfare state benefit the graduates of Booker T. Washington High School?

Best wishes, Grads. But some of the challenges you will face if this president is re-elected is, ironically enough because he will have helped create it, trying to find a job amidst ongoing unemployment, lower wages, increased government dependency and fewer employers. We trust you will read, talk and think about it as befits your accomplishment to date.
Memphis in May--Where's the Meat?
by BenQQ pics posted thru 5/12-15/11 See Photo Pages of this Event
Emily Webster and Shelly Blanca, both of Memphis, work the People's Choice BBQ contest. Many more shots and review of the Memphis in May BBQ festival will be uploaded through the weekend . Photos Combining cheesecake art and ribs. Email us if you want pictures at the event.

A Meatless Giveaway Policy for a Carnivorous Public?
Catering to "Private Parties" is a Gyp for Ticket Buyers

Emergency Alert! A great Memphis tradition is in trouble. Everything else about Memphis in May is just usually a rain soaked, good natured community event with some celebrity entertainment.

The trouble? First, its the meat. There is none for the price of a ticket. And unless you are a member of a "private party," you don't get any unless you are invited in to pay for it. Something overwhelmingly symbolic about that, but I digress...

Second, Memphis in May has now become a "private party" event that effectively excludes everyone not belonging to a company or BBQ team. In fact there is no point in even attending the event to eat and drink unless you are invited by a private party. When I bought my ticket, I was told that I could not re-enter unless a private party invited me back.

Huh? That's not the Memphis in May BBQ event I remember not too long ago. Perhaps Memphis in May BBQ event strictly for "VIPs" like they do before the formal opening. (After all, we all know Memphis VIPs can't be bothered rubbing pork shoulders with the masses. But, hey, you still have the "People's Choice" for five bucks.)

For the past several years I photographed or videoed true gustatorial artisans of the pork...here's one here I did back in 2006. Once cooked overnite and much of the next day, passersby were invited and otherwise drawn into the tent to taste sweet, succulent pork expertly cooked by a team of people who knew what they were doing.

And the meat was the binding agent that held the whole thing together. Nothing was more socially convivial, if not outright bacchanalian, than drinking and eating meat on a hot summer night on the Mississippi River with thousands of strangers distanced from any sense of self propriety. It had a character like no other event anywhere. And was good for us all.

So why should a "nonconnected" person even want to attend? For an event that parleys a populist image, such a lowly person, like myself, would have to grovel about to join a private party before joining in what used to be true community comraderie. This meatless, essentially anti-social, indeed, anti-community, policy should be an offense to every Memphian, including those private parties who paid big bucks. Unintentionally, they are displaying themselves to the street crowd as exclusionary. And if they are corporate, I hope they are not expecting any big image points, unless they somehow think its cool to exclude a wandering thirsty market from their tent oasis of meat and drink.

Really cool. What we are seeing is old line fraternity row on Tiger Lane.

Anyway, we now have what is MIM's meatless giveaway policy for a carnivorous audience that paid $13 (admission and parking) for the privilege of hiking through either dust or mud, always depending, of watching people eating and drinking merrily behind prohibited entry. I'm reminded of Woody Allen's bit of watching a wild party in a passing train on the other track as his train plods tediously along.

So, what happened? Did someone in the health department decide giving away food by people who were experts at cooking was simply too risky? Did insurance rates sky rocket? Regardless, its as if someone decided to prohibit dancing. You never know when you're going to take that fall on the dance floor, you see. Memphis goes footloose and its a loss.
More on this event for distribution.
FLOOD OF THE CENTURY (so far?)
by BenQQ all pics posted 5.6.11
Memphis-Sitting at the western end of Rodney Baber Park, but in a hollow below the street itself, the occupants of this James Rd. house watched daily as the water inched up their backyard and finally overtook them. The occupants did have relatives on whom to fall back, but what about their dogs? Where would they go? Answer: ASPCA Emergency Shelter. (more pictures tomorrow). Another home, this one near Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, sits similarly with water to first floor.
Millington--Overlooking the flooded Mirimichi Golf Course as riders follow on an off-road vehicle the paved trails normally used by golf carts.
More
on this story for distribution.

No, Virginia. This is not the real Earth Day

by BenQQ posted 4.22.11

No, Virginia, this is not Earth Day.

It may be Vladimir Lenin's birthday, but it is not the real Earth Day.

You see, Virginia, a man named John McConnel founded the real Earth Day in 1969 with anthropologist Margaret Meade. The idea was to make the Vernal Equinox, the first moment of spring where there is a perfectly balanced equilibrium of light and dark on the earth, the moment at which everyone everywhere recognizes we are more the same than different. At least for that moment.

John is perhaps the last individual proselytizer that war is not rational and care ("stewardship") of the earth is. Not uncommonly, my business partner at a TV network in the early 90's in Los Angeles thought he was crazy. But I think he remains one of the sanest, grounded people I've ever met.

A few years earlier I had met him when I was a photo-flack for the AARP. I later tried to get that organization to recognize him at one of their national conventions but the biggest membership organization in the world thought better of it. Can't blame them.

John's style was never particularly corporate. Wearing the same carefully tended suit over the years, and relying on meager funds (plus friends and luck) from his organization, he trod the world talking, talking, talking. He'd spend as much time explaining to an everyday guy just trying to make it as he would to a world leader that cooperation and friendship is mutually beneficial to everyone on Earth.

I thought his thesis could go corporate--become as big as, say, the AARP where I learned that nonprofits can be bigger than most corporations. And with that bigness, the inevitable turning toward large funding, media patronage and the trappings of power disguised as doing common good.

Perhaps John realized this. Better to talk to individuals mind-to-heart than build a mammoth organization that carries the "big message" but not the meaning.

You can read more of John's journey on my tribute page.

Happy belated Earth Day.

The Royal Wedding Comes to Beale St.
copy and pictures by BenQQ posted 4.01.11 comments

Beale Street will be the apparent "wild leg" of the Royals' honeymoon later this month, according to Buckingham Palace communications director. Rumors had been rampant for weeks Kate and William were planning an unorthodox element to their wedding pageantry. In Memphis they have undoubtedly found it.

Beale Street partiers
When Beale Street crowds heard the royal newlyweds would be visiting, spontaneous jubilation erupted...
Beale Street partiers
While club goers were atwitter with anticipation.

Besides, the director admitted with a wink, "That Kate is not just about a sexy thin waist, great legs and million dollar smile. That saucy lass has a wild streak you wouldn't believe." (He asked us not to use an exclamation mark.)

Once they got the news the Royals were visiting Beale Street, an impromptu bucket brigade collected funds to donate to the Palace for their trip.

"We look forward to visiting our more rowdy American cousins at this special time for England and us personally," said the future king of England, then adding wistfully, "It would be nice to break away from the entourage and kick back with the locals."

In this period of turmoil and economic downturn, the royal wedding couple wanted to play down the cost of as well as deglamorize the royal wedding, Palace officials said.

"So they decided Beale Street would be perfect because, well, beer costs almost nothing and nothing is more unglamorous as a police cordon of merrymaking public drinkers," said he.
Memphis police immediately formed a crowd control detail. "And this is how we're going to keep the royals in line. We did it once, we can do it again," said one mounted officer.

"So you Southern Americans understand, let me quote from The Septic's Companion, 'Brits require a couple of drinks in them to make business decisions, initiate sexual relationships or buy furniture.' Considering the circumstance, that leaves only one function for our royal couple in Memphis, Tennessee," the official exlained.

Apparently, nothing will more demonstrate the Royals' desire to commonize their lot than wallowing with drunks and miscreants on Beale Street.

"That's the wonderful thing about America," said Wills. "where classes cross boundaries seamlessly. In Britain, we could never get away with such public debauchery, though really we are very good at it, but by no means superior to locals on a Beale Street binge, I've heard."

We don't know the exact route the royal entourage will take but they are expected to arrive around midnite and begin what Kate excitedly called a "beer run" among Beale Street's famous bars and saloons.

MPN will cover their arrival.

The Big Production of Getting Memphis Motivated

by BenQQ posted 3.29.11
Ya gotta hand it to these guys. They could have pulled off D-Day if they had been around then but it appears they came close to an otherwise equal task: getting Memphis motivated, at least those Memphians attending the getmotivated.com seminar for all of yesterday. Instead of storming the beaches they flew from afar to parachute into a market, give more or less a canned speech and quickly lift off again. Perhaps the same speaking crew would do their thing soon in Grand Rapids, St Louis, Cleveland and Dayton, all arguably cities that need even more motivation than Memphis.

To be sure, there were few stragglers at 8:00 AM among the diverse, religious and patriotic multi-generational audience that quickly got into the rhythm of what this all day direct into vein injection was about--success. Sorry entitlement class, this was a capitalist, Republican, personal multi-media (there was a big screen) empowerment extravaganza promoting self-reliance and getting rich. The event opened with Star Stangled Banner and the afternoon segment with God Bless America, both lead by a gospel singer to a standing audience. It deploys tidbit training techniques found in personal growth seminars designed to get you out of your "comfort zone."

Differing only with multi-media (there were big screens) and the size of the crowd, the event put me in mind of the 18th century American Chautaqua lecture circuit of speakers traveling around to edify a needful audience, in this case (and probably like then), market. Regardless, the crowd, reportedly about 15,000 at the FedEx Forum and thousands more at the Memphis Convention Center via video feed, seemed to be thrilled, according to the MPN reporter who agreed to rise at 5:30, be at the FedEx Forum will call office at 7:00 for her ticket. Even at that early hour, thousands of motivationally hungry Memphians had already arrived. From the atmospheric cheap seats (buck ninetyfive) that provided a general's view of the battle ground, she could see the big buck seats roped off for people who had paid, well, big bucks, to sit up close and personal to society's most successful.

That's the promoted product--and don't get me wrong--ya gotta get a good takeaways from hearing the likes of big tickets on the speaking circuit: Colin Powell, Steve Forbes, Rudy Giulani, John Walsh, Terry Bradshaw, Lou Holtz, Brian Tracy and Laura Bush, who was the only one to use a teleprompter and at least four secret service agents.

Amid these rock stars were, of course, pitches for software trading programs and real estate seminars--the real and unspoken price of admission beyond the advertised token. Both profit centers for the company, cost for the real estate seminar, for example, ranged from $99 (if you bought at the event, came with a free box lunch from Jason's Deli) or $2,000 if you continue to FUBAR your life and buy later, thus proving you were again doing just that if you didn't enroll right then for the special price. Hey, it's your "comfort zone" all over again.

This is marketing at its very best--convincing, if not manipulating, people into buying what are undoubtedly good knowledge tools in a hard upsell to a mass audience in an escape proof enclosure in order to provide a low price offered only then. If nothing else, the experience itself was a lesson in selling.

And Get Motivated Business Seminar spent plenty on local television, radio and direct mail. Regarding the latter, I've never seen a slicker die-cut weather sealed promo card they sent throughout this market.

The next challenge--a kind of personal goal successes organically inherent in the event itself--was winning a trip to Disneyland in a dance contest. Volunteers were recruited by staffers who navigated through the best seats with the audience choosing the winner. Drawings for $10,000 and a flat screen TV were held but you had to get the TV to your little hovel that day if you wanted it.

My always skeptical undercover reporter said she ended up wanting to buy the options trading program. Even she had to admit, that's a real testament to the power of motivation and salesmanship.

Merci' France!

posted 3.21.11 by BenQQ

While the left and right both ring their hands over the legal propriety of bombing Libya, let's be clear who threw the first punch: France. Merci' France!. Even though your motivation may have been to some degree from your concern about a Libyan wave of foreign Muslim immigrants, you can rightfully claim that you, with Great Britain, propelled the world to action, pulling our indecisive weak president along with you.

From the start, we made a mistake in not aiding the rebels from this megalomaniac beast from the start. It doesn't mean we have to invest "boots on the ground," but it does mean we stand with people fighting for their freedom. How can any American, or Frenchman, not?

Sure, we don't know how its going to work out. That's the chance we take. We want the reasonable elements of Libyan post revolution society--if there is one after our too late entry--to acknowledge our contribution. And, we hope, such acknowlegement builds a bridge to the hopeful throughout the Middle East.

We'll see how it all works out. No military expert can predict the result of any military action. But we have seen the results of the handiwork of last century's isolated rulers, many of whom are sociopathic, if not outright genocidal, murderers of the people who have the misfortune to be alive in his country. Would anyone with Judeo-Christian values wish that on anyone else anywhere?

In realpolitik angst, critics wail over who is the "real opposition" in Libya. However, one question should have propelled Obama to immediate action: Were we to maintain the same relationship with Gadaffi after he murdered tens of thousands? And this is the way we build relationships with the future generations of Muslim countries who will eventually break the yoke of tyranny?

You don't need to be an expert to understand that dictators, especially in Middle Eastern countries, will eventually fall. By most accounts there is an emerging mix of political components-- from moderate to Islamo-fascist. Obama may have undermined at least some good relations with future Libyan political shareholders due to his tepid response that ironically compelled "first responders" to be European.

Not only across the Middle East, but in Africa and Asia as well, the isolation of modern, but subjugated, peoples is eroding with the internet. The modern world tends to be participatory, democratic. It is surprising and disappointing the U.S. acts as if it has failed to get this.

We need to have a strong, decisive foreign policy that clearly tells dictatorships, regardless our relationships with them in the previous century, have no place in this one. Message: You have no place to run when your time runs out. Ok, sure, China not withstanding.

While Libya Burns, Obama Speaks Out Against Bullies

posted 3.11.11 by BenQQ
Minimizing risks to the detriment of results has been a hallmark of Obama's management style. And if he can avoid a decision for any plausible reason, expect there to be either a weak outcome or none at all. But of course attending a school recently to inveigh against every mother's concern--bullying--gets his immediate action.

Case in point: Libya. He announced a couple of weeks ago Gadaffi had to go, but now that rebels are being pushed back, his rhetoric, such as it was to start with, has grown silent and he's off to Florida at some school to discuss student behavior. Missing: leadership. So what's our next comment to the world when Gadaffi crushes the rebels? "Never mind?" like the late Gilda Radner did on Saturday Night Live?

Now that the "mad dog of the Middle East" is slaughtering noncombatants and rebels alike, illustrating to the tyrants of the region this is how you put down democratic movements, Obama narry air drops a weapon to the rebels (Lieberman) or establishes a no fly zone (McCain, who bristled at Obama's chief of staff William Daley's recemt comment that those advocating a no fly zone didn't know what they were talking about. We think McCain does.) Surely, somebody is arguing in the administration we don't have to put "boots on the ground" to effect a process the U.S. is really about "winning the future."

Talk about sending the wrong message to brutal, calcified oligarchies that the U.S. will stand by and do nothing for democratic revolts, let alone respond forcefully to their own government's genocidal reprisals. The message to the rebel generation is the U.S. doesn't care, thus providing fuel to the usual anti-U.S. antipathy from future middle east leaders who are destined to control oil and, to some extent, religious passions.

Do we think the rebels will go away? Do we think the old dictators who gained power in previous generations long ago won't? The new generation of the Middle East is watching. The president better act soon. The window is closing.

The Politician and the American Cowboy Code

(posted 3.9.11) by BenQQ!
Nothing illustrates the irony of liberal impulses more than taxing Americans to hear the very heroes who embody our nation's sense of mythic independence, self reliance and integrity. The subject
is cowboys and their poetry, both now endangered by, according to Sen.
Harry Reid, D-Nev, the "mean spirited bill, H.R. 1," that eliminates the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Says the
liberal senator, "These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival."

Now, what real self-respecting cowboy would want your tax dollars to pay for his pen, horse and chaps? Would he feel he was entitled? Would he think himself among a protected class? Would he be offended to think someone else need pay for his needs? Would he feel it necessary to apologize when he crossed the bounds of political correctness?

But then perhaps Senator Reid needed the help of a cowboy poet when he clumsily said in a floor speech, "Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”

Round up the cowboys. We need to do something. The liberal senators are at it again.

Gene Autry, who could be called America's Second Cowboy, set down the Cowboy Code of Honor on The Gene Autry Show, 1950-1956 on CBS. He and his sidekick Pat Buttram wandered from town to town in the Southwest helping to maintain law and order. With his simple code, he helped establish an American character that could not be dissed anywhere. The commies tried to, but failed.

1. A cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or takes unfair advantage.
2. A cowboy must never go back on his word, or a trust confided too him
3. A cowboy always tells the truth
4. A cowboy is kind to children, old folks, and animals
5. A cowboy is free from racial and religious prejudices
6. A cowboy is helpful and always assists those in trouble
7. A cowboy is industrious and always works hard
8. A cowboy is clean in thought, word, and deed
9. A cowboy always respects his parents, women and all laws of the country
10. A cowboy is a true patriot

Like all good codes, those holding different views but common values can get behind it and it can be applied in all situations with interpretive alacrity. But naive of me to think a code of simplicity, honesty and forthrightness can be applied today in personal as well as national and international life. Way too simple, huh?
Original photo credit above: Apologies to American photographer John C. H. Grabill.

CALIFORNIA TEA PARTY AND ACT! TRAUMATIZE MUSLIM CHILDREN!


(...Or How To Shoot Yourself In Your PR)
(posted 3.4.11) by BenQQ!
The accusation above is in a new video on the internet. I regret to report its not untrue, unlike previous fabrications about the Tea Party. A Southern California Tea Party displayed the worst last month and undermined efforts to get the political conversation beyond prejudice to deficit reduction, immigration control and government reach. Now shown to the world to validate the position of its opponents is the video entitled "Hate Comes to Orange County." Beyond mere PR, the video is ugly and should give all Tea Party members reason to reflect on values of traditional values of American courtesy and fair play.

In the video, reportedly taken by an attendee of an ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America Relief) fund raising event at a community center in Yorba Linda, California, Feb.13, a group of demonstrators identified as members of a Tea Party, ACT! and others, yell crude insults even to women and children as they walk into the building where their event is to take place.

Huh? Wha'? I thought Tea Partiers by nature abstained from the boorishness recently exemplified by anti-democratic Wisconsin public trade unionists trying to derail the results of a democratic vote. But after watching this video and reading the comments from opposing Web sites--Glenn Beck's TheBlaze.com vs. Glenn Greenwald article about the same event on Salon.com--the Right doesn't come out looking so right.

Orange County Register writer Michael Mello separated the 700 or so main early afternoon Tea Party protestors and "about 100" (Mello) shown in the video on the sidewalk shouting insults to people entering the building. Greenwald did not distinquish from the general tea party group protest during the day on the lawn and the sidewalk "splinter group," as Mello identified them.

So Greenwald conveniently brands all the Tea Party attendees, including the Republican politicians who spoke at the protest, as endorsing the behavior of the smaller group. Says he (as well as is shown in the video itself) the Tea Party members, "bombarded a charity event sponsored by a Muslim group -- and the families of American Muslims entering the event -- with the most foul, hateful, threatening messages possible, while various politicians, including a member of Congress, praised the protesters." But regardless the inaccurate generalization, the video itself presents a bad image of the Tea Party.

The Glenn Beck organization tried to get ahead of the issue with theblaze.com writer Meredith Jessup's article on the video. But there are political bombshells here for the Tea Party, not to mention the Republican politicians who spoke to the main Tea Party assembly. Tea Party speakers were apparently not present when the "splinter group" started yelling on camera as attendees, including women and children, entered the building for the evening dinner event.

Jessup's headline announces CAIR "pumps" the video (and why not--it supports their tenet about the intolerance of the Tea Partiers, at least as reflected by this group). But then she acknowledges the demonstrators took their protest "to a disturbing new level" but defensively rationalizes their behavior (as does most of her Web page comments) with an account of radical associations of one keynote speaker and alleged outright support of terrorists by another. The speakers were Siraj Wahhaj, an imam who a U.S. attorney named as one of the co-conspirators (unindicted) of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Malik Ali, a San Francisco Bay Area Islamic activist who reportedly said supported the terrorist group Hezbollah in an "Israeli Apartheid Week" at UC Irvine in 2010.

With presenters like these, Jessup is no doubt right to be suspicious of the ICNA, the purported sponsors of the $25 per ticket event to raise "$350,000 to start social programs such as a women's shelter, fighting hunger and homelessness," according to the Register.

But it can't be denied. This is an instance of extreme bad form regardless whether captured on camera and posted publicly on the internet. It will no doubt be shown on MSNBC, if it hasn't been already, and cut into every polemical Islamic commentary. It gives liberal comedians like Bill Maur more material to slam the Tea Party. Can't wait to see what the schtick is going to be on this one. Not to mention it creates an indelible iconic image, this time true (unlike most previous accusations), of intolerance and emotional hostility directed personally at individuals.

The California Tea Party group should itself "get ahead" of this issue and apologize publicly to local Islamic members of the community for causing anxiety in the exercise of their constitutional right to convene. The Tea Party and its organizational allies can continue to win as a political pressure force against wavering Republicans if they stick to clever homemade signs and hard facts.

Conversely Tea Partiers win no points by yelling at children on camera or any other time.
previous photos and comments on the Memphis Tea Party

Forget About It--A writer from Memphis takes on gangland exploitation in Vegas

(posted 2.8.11 by Benqq)
Former Memphian William Donati has a beef with the folks at the Tropicana. Author of Lucky Luciano, the Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss, Donati teaches in the town that was jump started by another infamous mobster, Bugsy Seigal.

Little wonder then that the might see an opportunity to exploit the public imagination of Vegas gangsters, loose money and looser show girls. After all, the tourist department had already launched the campaign "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." It worked until the idea of good clean sin hit a bad economy.

So now, not so surprisingly, the Trop has packaged its own history that could have only been made in Vegas, the "Las Vegas Mob Experience." Billed on its Web site as "one of the most theatrical and innovative experiences on the Las Vegas Strip!" that will "take the strip by storm" and "immerse guests in a presentation of the rise and fall of organized crime." It then adds ruefully (at least to me), "The fall is a direct result of the successful efforts of Nevada State Gaming and law enforcement officials."

So along comes an intellectual professor way out of the glitzy showbiz spotlight (although he is a musician with deep running local music roots) saying bad things that might get in the way of the Vegas money train attraction. In interviews and in the local university newspaper, Donati says bad things. Bad things like, "These were not nice men, but I want people to know the story."

That story includes the myth that Siegal had the original idea of the Topicana. But Donati says he stole from it from Billy Wilkerson, a California businessman.

Donati no doubt uncomfortably challenges the prevailing wisdom of a Las Vegas culture that has license to make anything objectionable socially acceptable, including glamorizing criminals. Chris Cecot, resident historian of the company that put together the exhibit, Eagle Group Holdings LCC, says the exhibit wants to show the history of Las Vegas to organized crime.

But in the old days irritating social objections from a local would have earned him a cactus headstone in the desert, perhaps near the former colleagues of the men the exhibit stars. Forget about it. You can get an annual pass "The Mob Experience" at $49.95, now sold special at $29.95.

On the local jihad watch--Act for America! A chapter meeting in Bartlett

(posted 2.1.11 by Benqq)
Nope, These guys definitely got no truck for political correctness, even though they have a way of being controlled and polite--even toward those they identify as enemies. And that tells us more about local ACT! members than you would ever get from the liberal cabled commentariot like Maher, Shultze and Olbermann (lately departed from MSNBC now rumored to be reanimated on Al Gore's Current TV). Below, Tuli Wulz adjusts photos as
Rosine Ghawzi looks on.


So as I sit in the crowd of about 100, all drawn from the local ACT! and Tea Party local groups, I begin to get the smoldering vibe. These are the people that stopped Obama cold. And they know it.

This meeting held a couple of weeks ago features a former Israeli Defense Forces soldier active in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He told of what put him on the speaking circuit often at his own expense (as mentioned in introduction by Mason Ezzell, ACT!'s local chapter leader) to any audience that will listen.

You see, Mr. Tuly Wultz, a man who, no matter what you think about his thesis, has lived his message. And that message is: the Islamization of America has got to be stopped. His life has been one of struggle and victory over personal loss, a loss that parallels his own birth country's war with traditional Muslim enemies.

Wulz conveyed his story cerebrally without rancor. In 2003, Tuly and his son, Daniel, were in a Tel Aviv restaurant when a young suicide bomber exploded a device in his backpack. Showing photos of Daniel, a charming and gifted boy who could fly a jet at 14, took most of the shrapnel and was hospitalized for 27 agonizing days. In the rending account of his son's death, Tuly said Daniel's surgeon secretly flies regularly to the war zones in the Middle East to treat wounded American soldiers with the medical procedure he developed. He described this as "Jewish revenge."

With opening slides, Tuly showed pictures of Daniel in the cockpit and smiling broadly with friends interspersed with grisly images of results of suicide bombers. Tuly's story seems to reach for a broader context in his argument, linking one family's (his) irreplaceable loss at the hands of a suicide bomber to tactics of immigration and gradualism he asserts Muslims use against Western societies. He, and the audience, point to Muslim takeover of European cities with consequent inception of Muslim customs and Sharia law.

In fact, ACT!'s reason for being is warning of encroaching Muslim demographics into Western societies. They fear unreformed Muslim practices such as honor killings, "Sharia creep," theocratic government, fatwas declared for blasphemes against Muhammad, and "violent, hateful doctrines" (Wafa Sutan) of the Muslim religion generally. As the Web site, "It isn't Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you!"

But theories of Islamization in America motivated by religion or politics or both, find little sympathy in the "professional" media. Conspiracies usually don't. No reporter, much less media organization, wants to look used (especially by the Tea Party), or worse yet, out of step with the higher media mammals in the food chain. Perhaps that's why no local media at all showed up to ask questions.

Stories of Christian and Muslim affinity are much more palatable. The story of Heartsong Church in Cordova welcoming the Memphis Islamic Center was so unique it made national news. Similarly, during the recent Egyptian uprising, there were accounts of Coptic Christians protecting praying Muslims. All good signs not to be discounted.

Further undermining his thesis, Tuly's enemy-past-the-gates warning is undermined somewhat by the "raging debate" among Muslims themselves, though I've seen little-make that no-real evidence of that except on the Web. No town hall type meetings or open debates in democratic forums. After all, those debating the efficacy of their motivating beliefs do not enemies make.

His willingness to throw all Muslims in the same box bothered me. He consistently used the term "Muslims," instead of "radical Muslims" (in contrast to the latter term always used by the national founder of ACT! in the video produced by national shown the top of the meeting). So I asked if there was legitimacy to the term "moderate Muslim." Tuly answered, after pausing, that was an "oxymoron." Then I asked where would he stop at the Islamization of America. He answered thoughtfully, "I don't know."

Founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese-American who says she was saved from radical Jihadists by Israeli soldiers during the devastating Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), ACT! describes itself as the fastest growing volunteer security organization in the U.S. with hundreds of chapters. Muslim students tried to shout her from the stage when she spoke at the University of Memphis Judaic Studies Program event in 2006.

Letters
Tuly Wulz Comments (posted 2.17.11) Respond to editor

My son, Daniel, loved people. He respected the views, beliefs, and dreams of others, even when his own were very different. Daniel naturally made friends with everyone. That didn’t stop a Muslim suicide/homicide bomber from stealing his life. It didn’t stop the Muslim family of the killer from celebrating my son’s death. It didn’t stop their Muslim neighbors from passing out candies in the street during the same moments my heart was forever broken. Daniel was 16.

During the weeks Daniel struggled to overcome the ultimately fatal wounds his body sustained in the attack and for months afterward, our family received thousands of e-mails, cards, letters and other expressions of support and sympathy from people around the world who reached out with prayers, love, and friendship. The notes came from many Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews. Not a single one arrived from a Muslim.

We received other mail from Muslims. Their letters praised the death of our innocent, beloved, teenage son. They spoke of him as a dog within hateful messages that revealed much about the depth of their spiritual, moral, and human bankruptcy.

Not one Muslim reached out to apologize, comfort or console. In every true religion, we can find inspiration to create a better world, love our n eighbors, and behave ethically and morally out of respect to our creator and ourselves.

While I have never pretended to be a scholar on Islam, my experiences before and after losing Daniel have shown that the religion’s potential to inspire respect and acceptance for universal values of ethics and morality was likely the earliest victim. For too long, Islam has been used as a tool by monarchs, dictators, and their merciless thugs to hijack the dreams, aspirations and potential of the peoples of the Middle East and beyond.

Throughout much of the Muslim world, instead of teaching universal values of respect, acceptance, tolerance and peace, Islam is used to encourage children and their parents to embrace martyrdom, murder and hate. Islamic textbooks, teachers, preachers, and media sustain a breeding ground for violent jihad that regularly overwhelms any potential the faith could offer for contribution.

From time to time, I’ve heard individual voices from the Muslim world who have spoken out against the evil that has stolen the lives of millions of children, mostly their own.

Where are the courageous voices of protest from the Arab, African, and Persian masses that have the obligation to march, organize, protest and fight to stop the hijacking of their lives by modern-day pharaohs masking their thievery under the guise of religion? Where are the leaders with the strength of character and conviction to promote the best the peoples of the Middle East have to offer each other and their neighbors instead of inflicting the worst?

Until the Muslim world demonstrates a consistent ability to reign-in those who embrace terror to inflict their self-serving goals, we must do everything possible to protect our communities, families and children from their very real dream of hijacking the freedoms we cherish.

Tuly Wultz

P.S. The bombing happened on April 17, 2006, and Daniel died on May 14th 2006.

Talking Jobs like a guy who never had one (unless you count community organizing)

(posted by Benqq 1.26.11)
The media would have you believe there are only two camps responding to the president's State of the Union speech last night: those who who want to spend less and those who want to spend more. Both camps say doing their thing gets more jobs.

But the "national conversation" is way more about anger that our country--the people of which now live with a lower level of a good future than did their parents--finds itself in a perceptual, if not factual, tailspin. The current crop of career politicians are hopelessly out of touch as the clock keeps ticking, ticking toward the brink, the tipping point from which we may not regain our footing ever again.

Obama can talk jobs all he wants, but when "jobs" mean recent college graduates to the most experienced workers competing in a shrinking employment bank of good jobs against illegal aliens (and millions of amnestied illegals if he has his way) for basic entry level work, then things are way out of hand. Do the "best and brightest" of the Obama administration understand that? Obama himself has never had a real job nor had to compete and then perform to retain it. He, in fact, hasn't got a clue.

For example, do they understand millions of the most invisible, yet most experienced, generation, mid to older workers, now find themselves locked out of the labor force (and health care) after a lifetime of working? Probably not. They'd rather give attention to the young, as in manufacturing "benefits" like letting people as old as 26 stay on their parents' health insurance. Yeah, the country really needed that.

And it doesn't help that the intellectual trend among the class of professional politicos and policy wonks is surrender, surrender to China's economy and military. (It was no accident she revealed her own stealth bomber, developed in large part from stolen rear engineered US technology, while Obama kow-towed to her dictator last week.)

But even further than that, we seem to be surrendering to the notion we've lost our manufacturing base forever, again, to guess who? Economic apologists say products built in China--like Apple devices--do add jobs like sales and tech support for people here. But our rush to transform our economy to clean "service industry" jobs, which began under Clinton, has betrayed an entire current and future generations of working class Americans, like those who built industries like textiles, computers and cars. Aided by unions who didn't know when to say enough and a government that set in policies that held back growth, we virtually pushed whole industries to China.

By the way--and indicative of the critical importance of eliminating the deficit--once we've destroyed our manufacturing base, whose going to build things like tanks, jeeps and planes for the next war of survival? Guess nobody thinks that will ever happen again.

Doesn't have to be this way, despite those who say the future decline of American manufacturing is inevitable. Only last month, Electrolux ("the world's largest manufacturer of cooking goods") announced plans to build a 1,200 employee plant in Memphis, not China. Of course they got a great tax break for several years, but their employees will pay taxes for sure.

Obama has to go. He doesn't get, nor do his careerist political supporters as well as most of the Republicans. They don't get what's needed is nothing short of a top to bottom national retooling that first builds on our foundational strengths by 1) best-in-the-world business support, incentives and regulation review, 2) results-driven educational changes that are nothing short of revolutionary and 3) radical reduction (not just "freeze") in the deficit with not only substantial cuts in entitlements and the military, but wholesale elimination of redundant government functions and agencies, such as labor and education and the deactivation, if not full repeal, of Obamacare for a more workable system. (Such as immediately instituting a government funded $5,000 health card for every legal American citizen, thus driving down health care costs overnite. Work on the catastophic solutions immediately thereafter.)

Obama's lackluster performance last night gave the Tea Party and other rebellious factions the opportunity to take advantage of American disgust at her impending loss in the global economy and jobs at home. Regardless what the bland talking heads on MSNBC to Fox to HBO say, opponents of the current trend can own the conversation--and the hard solutions--now as never before. Let's see what they do.

Steve Cohen -- Man of Few Words. Now We Know Why.

(posted by Benqq 1.20.11) We hardly hear from him on the news. He's not exactly an idea man, always proposing new innovative ideas, unless you think the lottery and reparations are really bold and creative. Democratic Ninth District US House Representative Steve Cohen has a right to use whatever political invective he wants. But if he thinks opponents to Obamacare are like Nazis, then his remarks must live in the "marketplace of ideas."

And here's his big idea as expressed to John King on CNN:
"They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing the Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it - and you had the Holocaust. . . . And we've heard it on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact . . . said the biggest lie of 2010 was government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover."

Funny. He didn't invoke a word of protest over his religious background during the Congressional primary in October when I wrote about local black radioman Thaddeus Matthews dispensing (on behalf of his opponent, former Mayor-for-life Willie Herenton) blatant anti-Semitic diatribes aimed at Cohen peronally over Memphis airwaves. Guess he felt it wasn't politically necessary then.

Update: 1-21-11 Cohen apologizes but says he's not sorry. We think he could at least be sorry for his misuse of the term "blood libel" (doesn't this guy even watch the news?) for which few liberal voices, if any, were raised in objection. Scroll down for more on "blood libel" in this column.

Channel 5's Madden, Mayor Wharton Spar With Major Media Over HS Pregnancies

(posted by Benqq 1.19.11)
Again, (we'd enumerate but we've stopped counting), Memphis gets a national black eye, as CNN's Headline News does a story on the embarassing fact that 90, up from 75 last year (but defended by Kriner Cash in a numerical apologia based on the fact other pregnant girls were shipped into the school this year), students at Frayser High School are pregnant or have had a child. (And its not only Frayser. Our source told us Hamilton High runs a day care for moms too.)

But the story has focused on Frayser High. The less than subtle dynamo Jayne Velez-Mitchell ("daughter of an alcoholic"), host of her HLN program, Issues, was matched equally with Ursula Madden of WMC-TV and Mayor AC Wharton.

The live interview quickly took on a confrontational pushing match, Velez-Mitchell's trademark. But the Madden/Wharton ticket more than held their own against the national behemoth, who repeatedly pounded with traditional left hooks claiming the solution was simply dispensing birth control pills. Not a bad first punch from national media who would predictably extol a middle class, Hollywood television solution, unaware these girls have little guidance, poor parents (economically and emotionally), low self-esteem redeemed in the only way they know how--having a boyfriend, in rare instances, a husband if only temporarily, but a child stays with you until he joins a gang, goes to jail or gets shot.

But Madden rebounded aggressively and proceeded to lay out North Memphis realities, including infant mortality (that in recent years, was still one of the highest in the nation.) Proclaimed she: "Its not about the school. It's about what's going on in that community and we serve people and give them the support they need," said Madden, to which Velez-Mitchell quickly agreed and added she wondered why we do not institute a "top flight education," gang prevention and in addition, make the boys take responsibility for impregnating the girls. On-air consultant Andre Perry from the University of New Orleans School of Education then chimed in with how Frayser High was doing everything wrong with keeping these girls together, instead of mixing other student elements into their environment.

That was apparently the limit for Madden.

"Mr Perry, I just want to say with all due respect you don't know about the dynamics of this city and about the poverty rate here. You simply don't push somebody out of a neighborhood into another neighborhood. That's not the way it works here. And I think for many people outside of Memphis and Shelby county this is some kind of joke and the city has become some sort of punch line where people can sit around and hyper analyze our lives here..."

Jayne breaks in. "No, we've got to get out of denial.."

"We are wide awake," Madden broke in before the commercial break and end of segment.

In fact, information to avoid pregnancy is readily available. The problem is girls who get pregant in these numberswant to have a child. If we are to believe girls who have kids (and the boys who impregnate them) suffer from "low self-esteem" and we do.

In another twist to this story that has a gestation all its own, On NBC's The Today Show the hyper analysis continued as a psychiatrist this morning announced there was no OBGYN in Shelby County, as Meredith Viera looked on with a straight face. She and the shrink both apparently confused Memphis, Tennessee with Dakar, Senegal, one of Africa's poorest cities. The psychiatrist immediately issued an apology to OBGYNs in the county.

To his credit, Mayor Wharton handled the strange statement graciously on air, as he did with Velez-Mitchell, to whom he conveyed in the same interview segment with Andrus that the solution does not include just birth control devices, but personal accomplishment and self-esteem.

This story will continue to term nationally. Girls, Inc. a nonprofit organization, has stepped in.
Good Morning Notes:
(posted by Benqq 1.17.11)

So Congresswoman Giffords is responsible, right?
A couple of days ago at a political meeting, a supporter of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and one of those wounded at her meet and greet, snapped a picture of Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries and shouted "You're dead." Now, those beating their tin drums over Sarah Palin's target symbols will assuredly lay blame to Giffords, right? After all, "You're dead," delivered personally face-to-face by a supporter of Giffords nonetheless, unlike the Tucson assailant who had no political affiliations to Palin or anyone else, surely rises to the level of a threat conspiracy, right?

Ah, isn't that sweet? Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer want to promote civility in politics after the Tucson shootings. Their consequent "sitting together" proposal has as much permanence as asking dogs and cats to talk it out. Why not get a pledge that they will not blame anyone but the actual perp for acts of violence? Now, that would be civil.

Maybe it was because it was photography
Who saw yesterday's Commercial Appeal front page above the fold story about raising money for an art gallery branded by Memphis photographer William Eggleston? I don't get the location of the story. I can see Beverly Hills Courier putting such on their front page, but not a big city newspaper. But kudoes to the gallery and the people behind it. Any new gallery is a plus, especially one dedicated to real photography, which most people think of now as phone shots.

Ricky Gervais goes missing after giving celebs a comedown
The Golden Globes audience and fans were really miffed after sitting through cracks aimed directly at them by Ricky Gervais. For once, it was rich and worth watching. Even though GG said after the show it was normal for a host to be "trimmed," Gervais was definitely missing in action in the second hour, innoculating them from his withering arrows that often drew gasps. Hilarious. Refreshing.

Oi Vey! A University of Tennessee connection to another rhetorical bombshell from Sarah Palin

(posted by Benqq 1.13.11) In her response video to liberal critics Wednesday Sarah Palin reportedly used a term from a writer at the University of Tennessee law school that has found its way into the rhetorical battlefield where formally only targets and bull's eyes held a media manufactured pre-eminence. Now it's "blood libel."

Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal reports Glenn Harland Reynolds used the term in an opinion piece for the paper Monday "to refer to efforts to link conservative political rhetoric to the shootings." Its use has raised objections from some Jewish groups as being anti-Semitic.

Based on a primitive belief that Jews made matzo bread with the blood of Christian children, Weisman writes the term was used as a pretext for "countless Jewish deaths over centuries." He further reports there was "no evidence" of Palin using the term in connection to Congresswoman Giffords religion, Judaism.

But in this climate of now politically insecure liberal ideologues creating accusations on the flimsiest of pretexts to smear Palin and other conservatives, don't be surprised if they "discover" her secret anti-Semitic roots. By the way, want to see real anti-Semitic rants, over the air waves nonetheless, from a black commentator supporting a Democratic candidate? Try this. (Search the term "Jewish slave master" when there.)

Anyway, narry an objection from anyone. Scroll down to see other recent pieces on Palin.
(posted by Benqq 1.11.11) A cartoon rattles readers at the Washington Examiner. Editorial cartoonist Nate Benler depicts bloody bodies piled under a "Congress on Your Corner with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords" sign as vulture "partisans" and "pundits" circled above as one said, "Never let a good carnage go to waste!"

Sarah Made Me Do It.

(posted by Benqq 1.9.11)
Independent conservatives, put on your b***s*** helmets and hunker down 'cause the Dems have been handed a polemical baseball bat that's just too irresistible to pass up. It makes them sound innocent and well intended, while scoring big on the poli-smell meter. After Congresswoman Gilffords and others were shot yesterday, the liberal media immediately jumped on the theme of "uncivilized political discourse" that, coincidentally enough, contributed to postponing the symbolic repeal vote to Obamacare this week.

If anything, a demonstrative show of American democracy in action-without interruption by an unbalanced assasin-would have been THE powerful message to send to all others who would seek to undermine it. But while the libs ratcheted up their emotional and irrational attack, standard Republicans marched out on air to fall over themselves to find the right words to stay out of the Dems' polemically explosive "bulls eye."

But here's what we really should be objecting to: the exploitation of personal tragedies for political points. Zeig Heil! It is as cynical a political theatre as Hitler blaming the communists for the Reichstag fire. I've heard no opposition candidates, especially Sarah Palin, call for violence against anyone. So that leaves symbolism and abstraction, which anyone can exploit with a pointy finger and a yen for tendentious journalism.

Left wing commentators, like MSNBC's Kieth Obermann, and those masking as objective journalists, like CNN's Jessica Yellin, have discovered Sarah Palin's graphical use of the bull's eye to target political opponents. Will any robust political discourse require a public notice that, no, children, we really don't mean we want to shoot our opponents?

[Mental Health and Public Safety Notice to all who encounter this commentary: I do not recommend, condone or agree with any form of violence, physical or verbal, against any person or animal. Any reference that might be construed as such is intended as a literary, motivational, pedagogic or other type of metaphor that has been used similarly in letters for centuries. If anyone is offended by any words herein, the writer hereby humbly apologizes and asks forgiveness. If the offense happens again the writer will attend a retraining camp, as chosen by those offended, for wayward thinkers.]

Remember, the Dems wanted, and still do as far as I know, to shape free speech to their taste with the fairness doctrine. Now, they, even in the face of their own public rhetoric of branding opponents racists and biggots, have a new weapon against all conservatives: the threat of public safety generated by robust debate. Caution! The speech police are on patrol!

Consider "America's most trusted name in news." I heard CNN's national political correspondent Jessica Yellin directly connect the shooter to Palin. Only at the dead end of the interview did we learn the shooter may know nothing of Palin's politics, even if that ever mattered at all. (Town Hall's Greg Handler posted the interview on a tip from Lee Habeeb.)

Beale Street Memphis, New Year's Eve 2011
posted by BenQQ 12.31.10
It rained until it seemed it couldn't, driving tourists and locals into the bars and shops. But carriage horses and drivers hardly ever took refuge. I opted out of soaking my cameras and, rather, shot through windows as I drove around. Not a recommended practice. Horse, Driver, Rain on Memphis New Year 2011 Fun Seeker at the End of Beale Horse, Driver, Rain on Memphis New Year 2011
Compared to last year, the streets were far less crowded and slick with rain, making carriages look lonely and a little spooky.
See pictures of a dry Beale Street New Year.

School Consolidation--The Same Old Context at the Memphis Commercial Appeal?

posted by BenQQ 12.28.10
Expect a different way of looking at a story rather than the usual prism of race? Not that we are at all saying the CA is racist but the theme has gotten as old as bad breath and apparently the CA again will be yawning with it in your face as the story of school consolidation heats up, if the comments of Otis Sandford yesterday on Andrew Clarksenior Show on WREC 600 am are any indication.

I like to believe there's an increasing number of politically independent black conservatives (and, really, who is more independent than a black conservative in Memphis?) who look at recent local history with an objective eye. Repeatedly on Clarksenior's afternoon slot, Sandford, and let's not forget we're talking about the editorial director at the only daily print publication in Memphis, said we could not get beyond the feelings of distrust and resentment of all those who took "white flight" in the 60's and 70's. I presume he realizes he is saying nothing can go beyond what has occured in history. And he returned to that position throughout the interview between their annoying banter about sports. For more on this CA theme, scroll down to "Loose Talk at the Paper" below.

OK, Mass Media, Pundits, Dems, AARP, Orgs-Will You Apologize to Sarah Palin for Calling It Right?

posted by BenQQ 12.27.10
Fair Disclosure: I worked in communications for the AARP for ten years.

Remember when the likes of HBO and MSNBC commentariot like Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Ed Shultze, Keith Obermann, et al. attacked, nay, gleefully ridiculed, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for saying there would be "death panels" under Obamacare? Well, guess what? None other than than the liberal New York Times came out yesterday and said the inconvenient truth: something by any other name is very much like a "death panel" snuck into Obamacare after that original hot button issue became public, and worse, it pays doctors to have conversations with their patients about "planning" annually.

The problem is, according to the way FOX News medical contributor Dr. Marc Seigle, explained it, is he at most has a conversation like this "once or twice" with a patient, not every year. Now docs can get paid for having "voluntary advance care planning" in "annual discussions" between doctor and Medicare patients. And with a 23% reduction (Siegle's figure) in Medicare, what doc wouldn't? Further, he saw most patients opting for advance care when they were facing the end without it, regardless what they said when they felt good.

Hey, its all a part of good "planning" according to the back slapping dems and their satrap organizations like the AARP (which used to stand for the American Association of RETIRED Persons). Yeah, just let the "experts" at AARP direct your support for Obamacare and one day you'll be lying on your unintended death bed with a government employee holding your hand comfortingly, saying, "There, there. This is what you really want. After all you told your doctor that when you felt good."

By the way, before AARP executive staff threw their support behind Obamacare, did the organization hold a referendum among its members to determine "rank and file" opinions? Did they even fight to have it posted on the internet for at least a month so their members (and everybody else) could actually read the bill?

Regardless, we have now entered the real era of Orwellian double speak. And expect to hear more of it as those Republican members of Congress who remember why they were elected encounter and fight to repeal and nullify other Obama driven bills (such as the recent FCC rulings on the internet.)

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly at Fox News Memphis--and Memphis Property Tax Payers

posted by BenQQ 12.17.10
At least give 'em points for cinematic symbolic metaphor in local news covering Memphis City Schools giving up its charter. Watching Fox News last night, I thought they had been hacked or after the staff Christmas party somebody had cut in a clip from Sergeo Leone's 1966 spaghetti western where Clint Eastwood has the three way shootout with Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. The scene climaxes with Eastwood shooting Van Cleef into a grave where gold had been found. I like to think he represents the lone Memphis property taxpayer shot down again by bureaucracy and politics for which he only ever got partial benefit anyway. But that's probably not what Fox reporter Jill Mornier had in mind.

Or was it? The symbolism never stops for the thoughtful viewer. Is Eastwood one of the school systems? Or is he MCS school board member Martavius Jones or county school board chairman David Pickler? And what do the thousands of graves in the background represent? Students? Tax payers? Or are political/financial interests represented by Van Cleef and Eli Wallach who runs away after his gun doesn't work? And, of course, there's the hole in which Van Cleef falls into. Is this the bottomless pit of the MCS budget or the pockets of the taxpayers to which there is no end in depth?

Anyway, the tail of the piece airing yesterday on Fox 13 News Memphis revealed it not to be a mistake but a literary device employed to illustrate the current "shootout" between the county and city school systems over the fight of school consolidation. Its fast devolving to a political fight as final as Eastwood's bullet. What's at stake are big taxpayer dollars for both systems. Understandable from the county's point of view: they pay a sizeable portion to the MCS budget and are the only payee to the county.

So how can property taxes go up in Memphis is a special district is created for the county? MCS would lose its funding from the county and so property taxes would have to go up to make up the difference if funding were kept at the current levels, according to a 2008 study from the University of Memphis.

Of course, the idea of cutting back, requiring kids to bring their own lunch, reducing a bloated administration, stopping buying perks like personal computers and devices for staff, streamlining operations, becoming more efficient, kicking out troublemakers, and establishing firm limits on spending may be just what the system needs. We've learned--and tax payers have so expressed--bigger government is not the best government. But who's listening at MCS?

But back to the Eastwood clip-Fox reporter Jill Mornier used 4 segments from the shootout scene. I thought a couple of teachers and principal had retreated to the playground for a team building negotiated settlement over a school issue. Regardless, I'd like to see TV news departments use this device more. There's no story in which it could not be employed. For example, with nightly who-shot-who stories, they could intercut old clips from Dragnet. It probably wouldn't help the quality of content, but it would be a lot more entertaining.

Lennon thru Memphis

posted by BenQQ 12.9.10
When John Lennon was gunned down 30 years ago I was on assignment somewhere in Arizona on my first media job in my new hometown of Los Angeles. Around 11 pm thousands of people spontaneously gathered not on the urging of texts and emails but after hearing it on TV.

They congregated to sing Lennon's songs and hold candles in Century City, a shopping/entertainment/high rise office enclave in Beverly Hills, then famous for the town's Playboy Club and where Santa Monica Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. meet, separating the business district from residential Beverly Hills.

Maybe Lennon, like Elvis and Michael Jackson, still grab us from the grave except Lennon at his departure had not fallen like the other two had at their's. And, unlike Elvis and Michael, he doesn't have a look alike industry of imitators, but musical interpreters like Memphis' own William Donati, PhD, who teaches college literature and writes books on early Hollywood. Donati's original music is sometimes much the style of The Beatles British pop. Listen to some here. Imitation may be flattery, but interpretation lives on to go beyond.

Obama's notion of a "Senseless" Act of Violence in a War Zone

posted by BenQQ 12.3.10
How many times do I have to see televised demonstrations this President just doesn't get it?

Today when he was speaking to members of the US armed forces in Afghanistan, he described the deaths of six U.S. soldiers as "a senseless act of violence." Now, feel free to correct me, but senseless is when savage gang members kill over turf or when an armed thief turns around and for no apparent reason shoots a gas station clerk or when one partner takes out--and I don't mean to a late night waffle makeup at a coffee house--another in rage. One of the foregoing occurs almost nightly in Memphis.

But what our President referred to was not so "senseless" in a war zone. And not in the least senseless to the enemy, who plan and execute battle tactics in ever evolving skill to kill their American enemy just as did the Germans, Japanese, Italians, Vichy French, North Koreans and Viet Cong. Look, his words were probably just an oversight, but someone around should have said, "Hey, look, Mr. President. These deaths were not 'senseless.'" But they were insensitive to say to American men and women putting life and limb at risk everyday in a War zone our country has established.

Now, if he were making a political statement about the war, maybe "senseless" is applicable in his context. And then its even worse form to use before active soldiers in the same theatre. Your bad, Mr. President.

Raise your hands now, kids! Who'd like reparations?

(posted 12.02.10)
One thing the Obama crew is good at is making language work for them. Take the phrase "comprehensive immigration reform" that really means "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Now we're approaching "settlement" to really mean "reparations."

Consider the recent mind-bending $1.2 billion settlement of the suit (known as the Pigford case ) brought in 1999 by possibly over 70,000 black farmers and American Indians for alleged discrimination under the Department of Agriculture's loan programs between 1981 and 1999. (Now, first of all, do we really think blacks were being discriminated against on this scale at this time? If so, where were all the liberal media to take a bite out of this meaty plate?) Regardless, while only a fraction of the sum bandied about by the reparations movement, the settlement is big enough to think in their terms.

But the anti-colonialist Obama has pushed to dispense unsettled lawsuits from what the Washington Post referred to as "America's checkered civil rights legacy." Plaintiffs got the right to sue the feds and no doubt many are justified. But this suit is class action, a remedy for a mass that goes back a generation. Now perhaps with this legal step, if not precedent, just go back a few more generations and you're looking at, in effect, reparations for severe discrimination of the worst kind.

Newsmax reports, "The National Legal and Policy Center years ago examined slave reparations activism and found one proponent calling for the federal government 'to pay $500,000 to every slave descendant," which would total "more than $15 trillion and require a surtax of roughly $50,000 on each non-African American man, woman and child in this country (the median family income is not even that high).' "

By the way, did we say loans? Yep. Like when somebody applies for a loan and the lender says the applicant is unqualified. With this logic, maybe the kids of current loan applicants who where denied can bring a class action generations from now against the government (and lenders) because they will have been deemed unqualified. Now, there would be reparations.

At any rate, let's not be surprised if we see the rise of reparations claims to exceed the national debt. Expect more suits to come in which the current generation of tax payers will be on the hook for the misdeeds of their forbears. (And many of those did not misdeed at all.)

Obama's (first?) freeze. But has Vampire Pelosi Lugosi returned?

(posted 11.29.10 by Benqq) Had he taken steps even a year ago like the one he took today, the Big O possibly could have avoided an electoral route in the mid-term instead of slipping into bed with his SEIU and AARP buddies. He may have--by freezing pay among federal workers--just sniffed what it takes to win again. Now rises up one union, the American Federation of Government Employees, screaming bloody murder and assuredly launching campaigns targeting Dem legislators to override.

That health care bill put them all into a shifting, fractious place. The ground is crumbling under Demo feet. They will either have to vote with Obama to freeze pay--a very anti-labor step from their and thus feel the backlash of their own liberal allies in two short years--or vote to keep wages and benefits higher in federal government compared to the private sector. They will thus again prove they don't have a clue about the desires of most people first above all else to reduce the size of government, get the economy on a stable footing and increase jobs. (commentary continues below ad ↓)
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(Obama's Freeze, Cont'd)
He may save the budget $60 billion over the next ten years. But Obama's freeze accrues only 1% of the reduction reputedly needed to get a grip around the debt. Now, here's how his proposal ranks to other proposals toward reducing the deficit: $400 billion limiting mortgage interest deduction, $700 billion letting tax cuts for "wealthy" expire, $3 trillion letting tax cuts for middle class expire. (CNN) Will the special interests residing in various depths of those proposals be as loud in opposition as the union?

What chance has the country got if a 1% cut draws a campaign from the unions to influence the Dems to vote against their own president? Has Obama himself come to realize his community organizing campaign for health care that was rammed down the throat over the objection of most Americans matters little if the financial structure of the country collapses? Will the return of Pelosi Lugosi seal their casket in two short years?

Now the Dems have some choices to make.

I OBJECT! he declared.

(posted 11.24.10 by Benqq) We're handed all sorts of "good" reasons today to justify loss of privacy, police state creep, peeping tom technology, electronic exploitation, why you have to pee in a cup and reveal your credit history even to get a job. But those reasons given by government should be the most suspect because it has the most to gain and we have the most to lose. In fact, I hope somebody in Congress steps up to start a constitutional amendment process protecting personal privacy of American citizens. But that's not the point here.

While the government gives perfunctory lip service to "privacy," its newest bureaucracy gropes its way into your underwear at the airport with noises of spreading its gloved fingers to train stations and public events. A bureaucracy can only get inexorably bigger, a bureaucracy that started with around 16,000 employees, now has 60,000 or so, with over 1,000 administrators making over $100,000 annually, one watchdog group reported. satiric picture of
President Obama in body scan

Their refrain is hynotic: this is public safety. Don't think of it as an intrusion. Think of it as a government service. Besides, only a single highly trained TSA agent will ever so briefly see that image of your raw contours sent into a private room. Of course it would never be stored or sent anywhere else. Now, that makes us feel all better doesn't it? But before you step up to get your government issued sheeple award, know that a revolt is under way and it started in part right here in the land of Elvis and BarBQue. City council will probably never name a street after him, but they ought to.

ExpressJet Airlines first officer Michael Roberts, an unassuming responsible employee by all media accounts, had worked out of Memphis for the past four years. Last month he objected to being body scanned and physically examined by TSA agents at Memphis International. In so doing he launched the most valuable conversation a democracy can have: namely, how far can government go to protect YOU, you poor dumbass who can't even appreciate that THAT gloved fist squeezing your personals is Uncle Sam's. Never mind if your uncle did that anywhere else, he'd be arrested. (Indeed, in Medeival times I once read where men held each other's testacles upon first meeting to assure non-hostile intent. Even they later figured out what had to be a less stressful greeting would be hand to hand clasp.)

Seems to me the reasonability factor is at the crux of the problem because we still enjoy the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment still reads:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Speaking to Sarah Baker of the (Memphis) Daily News, Blake Ballin, attorney with Ballin & Fishman said this week, "Certainly, there are going to be lines that are drawn, TSA agents don't have a blank check-they can't just start touching people however they want." Ballin said. "But as long as it is reasonably related to a security pat-down, I think you'd have a hard time saying that a person didn't consent to this kind of search." But the, uh, rub is what's--and here's that pesky word again--"reasonable/"

Regardless, Roberts' stand on principal has caused embarrassment to the Obama Administration and image issues for the TSA, which has already "reset" its policies regarding airline pilots and flight attendants as well--but not before the revolt spread to passengers while Obama and TSA administrator John Pistole still stick to their guns like the outside public discouse doesn't exist. People are getting the notion there are "reasonable" options to nudie body scans and "enhanced" pat downs. Al Qaida is playing us like an Middle Eastern Oud. They've got to be rolling on their cave floor.

The passenger, if not across the board American, revolt is viralizing over the internet with raw fresh images that get more unnerving and sometimes repellant by the hour. (Check out just a small number of links below.)

Charles Krauthammer has called the issue "the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter" and "political correctness run amok."

Can't wait to see what TSA agents do when a celebrity or model spreads eagle in the reassuring sounding "Advanced Imaging Technology" (AIT) body scanners. Somewhere there's a celebrity rag sheet that would pay a year's salary of a TSA worker to have a picture revealing the endowment of a Brad or the graphically revealing details of an Angelina, hmmmm? In fact--and I never favor giving celebrities free passes on anything, especially from prosecution for attacking photographers working legally--known persons are more at risk than most of AIT image abuse. They should be given pass cards, along with the powerful and wealthy. Think we've created an instant class system at the airport?

Tone deaf culturally and politically to American sensibilities as usual, Obama and Co. have blundered again into a firebrand issue that defines American character. Federal agents simply don't strip search other Americans without cause. And at least a sizeable portion of the flying public will remember it at the polls.

And just like other Obama political presents to the dems, its a gift that keeps on giving. First, look for what will be termed as some kind of "modification" to the entire TSA program. And then there will be the questions about the connection of former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's consulting relationship to one of the companies "qualified" to provide full body scanners to airports. Just can't beat those fed jobs --retirement and salaries that outstrip private workers by miles and then there're those yummy connections. Thought there were laws against that sort of thing, but guess not.

Links:
youtube.com
youtube.com
youtube.com
youtube.com (satire)
youtube.com (Alex Jones)
youtube.com (satire)
youtube.com
youtube.com
youtube.com

MCS Superintendent Should be an Elected Office

(posted 11.17.10 by Benqq) Jane Roberts reports in todays Commercial Appeal, a teacher said she had "signed a sheet at the beginning of the year promising not to talk to the media." The teacher reportedly made the comment at a meeting of "700 plus" teachers who were "angry and disengaged" at the first "TeacherShare" meeting initiated by Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

Maybe its a big thing for the school system to have a special night for teachers to "share," but, really, shouldn't that have been an ongoing process within the administration all along? Shouldn't teachers be so porous within the system that their input is automatically heard first thing in any decision affecting the classroom? The fact that a night meeting is needed to call the teachers together at all reveals, at least to me, there's a firewall between teachers and a top heavy bureaucracy.

Maybe Cash simply walked into it, thinking this was a step forward in teacher involvement. And maybe for this school system, it is. But, nevertheless, it reveals an administrative mentality that is more defensive than open. A number of items provoked the noisy ire of teachers--cutting class preparation time part-time teacher aides that are to be replaced by "interventionalists" and changing "F" grades to NMS ("not meeting standards") without informing teachers. But Roberts reports Cash, standing alone on stage, apologized for not giving the teachers a heads up on the grading policy and said educating was the "hardest job in a democracy."

And that's why it should be a democratically elected job. And that brings us back why teachers should speak freely to the media.

Yeah, a private company has the right to require its employees to tow the line, but a government employee, such as a teacher, should be able to speak to the media without fear of recrimination from the principal or some bureaucrat at the school board. After all, the teacher pays taxes like everyone else, but more to the point, if Memphians do not hear what its really like--not a spin from the PR department--in teachers' classrooms, how are they to choose an MCS Superintendent?

Oh, wait a minute, Memphians DON'T choose a superintendent. Maybe that's been the problem all along. And not only Memphians, but PARENTS with children in the system, should choose who becomes superintendent. The super should become an elected office as much as the mayor and responsible solely to the parents and tax payers. After all, Memphis had a string of superintendents that have used the job as either a personal playground or career step ladder to even more lucrative administrative jobs for other cities.

Can you imagine the local campaign ads for MCS Superintendent? One might be a young black woman in her twenties getting turned down for a job because she she didn't have even the requisite skills for presentation and communication. She now realizes she wouldn't progress beyond a local murder burger fast food joint. She looks at the camera from the drive-thru window and asks, "Mom, why didn't you make sure my education in Memphis relevant enough for me to get a job? Why didn't YOU bother to make me do my homework? Why did you let the school board eat up the tax base without REAL student progress? In fact mom, why didn't YOU care?"

Would turning over school leadership to the "parent electorate" make a difference? Perhaps. Couldn't be any worse and if democratic political theory works. You'd probably see the entry of a radical (maybe even "noncredentialed") candidate with an urgent mission to turn the schools around by doing the right stuff like kicking out students who disrupt teaching in the classroom, returning the responsibility of care and feeding of children to their parents, firing bad teachers/principals and rewarding good ones instead of treating everybody the same, establishing educational try-out stations and probably a dozen more things that could be legitimately identified in about thirty minutes. (No, we don't think it takes $90 million. See elsewhere this page.)

Considering that local tax payers pay for the system, perhaps the local Tea Party should focus on that as a way to reduce costs and maximize efficiency of tax dollars.

And when teachers freely talk to media--print, talk shows and even Web pages like this one, --administrators are held accountable in a public forum that gets into a political process impacting results and then salary and, ultimately, their very jobs. And don't stop with teachers. In fact, we think "free comment" policies should be established in all city departments.
The Today Show Wants to Know: "Is it OK for Boys to Play Dress-up?"
The modern blurring of traditional sex roles marched on again from the voice of Major Media. The interview segment may have been a placement to the recently published book My Little Princess by a parent whose little boy dresses up as a girl. Nothing new about little boys experimenting in creative role play. But a sign of the times is a media culture that approvingly "examines" the blurring of gender roles. Perhaps the next segment: is it OK to cross dress in grade school?

WW1 Journal Published in Germany -- Like a Southern History Track?
posted 11.5.10 by Benqq
Wonder if there are any living WW1 vets in Memphis. Today Spiegel Online International ran a piece on not only a long surviving veteran, but one of Germany's highest decorated war heroes, Ernst Junger, who wrote a graphic diary detailing the every day slaughter of four years of battle carnage. Even though thirty five percent of the generation of males born in 1885 had disappeared by the end of WW1, the writer points out that war has not received much contemplation as its continuation, WWll, due to Germany's responsibility of the Holocaust and, if I could add, the deaths of about 50 million by the second half of the twentieth century, which then ushered in death by communist state by the millions as well. Should Germany even have WW1-ll heroes at all? raises writer David Crossland. I've often thought about the parallels to Nazi Germany and civil war era Southern culture, a good many of which still glorify the non-slave holding part in careful excision. Regardless, the South never gave up her war heroes, the greatest of which was Robert E. Lee. Lee, like a Nazi general? Nah, could never be.
Pic: southern civil war re-enactors.

Charlotte Bergmann, because revolution can happen in Memphis, too.

"Aparatchik" is to big government what "career politician" is to the status quo. Sen. Steve Cohen (D) is an elected aparatchik. You really can't expect any more than dancing with Obama so he can hold a lifetime job with coveted government benefits and pension that the vast majority of Americans see eroding like sand under their feet. He's running for office because the job has become a habit. Nothing personal. Magically, it happens to everybody who plants their behind in soft leather for a few years--just like that of his primary opponent, former Mayor Willie Herenton, though Willie was--still is--edgier, more creative, insufferable and way more entertaining.

picture of
Charlotte Bergmann In a world where nobody "deserves" any job for life (just ask a worker over 40) we have to ask ourselves why we continue to vote mindlessly for individuals who have performed at best on a marginal level.

Look, I've met Cohen. He's a nice guy. But he's been a politician the way dentists just keep drilling. (No offense to dentists but you get my point.) Like with all politicians, it gets easier and habitual, especially in getting elected because you know no matter how little you perform (and that's good in his case), most will vote for you because they recognize your name.

Not this year in many Democratic strongholds. Maybe not even here in Memphis. Hope so. The precious few voters who will actually go to the polls to vote in Shelby County have a chance to break with the past and start anew.

picture of
Charlotte Bergmann Charlotte Bergmann is an African American conservative woman who has worked for a living in a real job not in politics, nonprofits or in "community organization." That alone is a reason for voting for her.

Conservative voters should know every vote for her counts. Really counts. Don't vote for her because she is a Republican. Vote for her because she is a true outsider--and revolution can happen in Memphis, too.

The NAACP, siting the midsouth, plays an election race card

In the left's latest slam against conservatives, the NAACP sited the St. Louis based Council of Concerned Citizens "with its strongest chapters in the South and Mid-South" as the nation's largest "white nationalist organization" and the "group most active in the Tea Parties." Uh, huh?

Watching non-black supremacists is certainly understandable, given its history and mission. However, "extreme" political groups have always tried to horn in on mainstream events so they can seem less extreme.
[adv. Rib your liberal friends with art magnets to thongs with COMMIE CAT!]

Even back in the days of student activism at MSU, the commies always showed up at our events. That didn't make us red, or even pink, but our opponents tried to smudge it on nonetheless.

Play it again and again

In his movie Play It Again Sam Woody Allen finally got a date with the girl who constantly extolled sex in all its forms as poor Woody's glasses steamed over? But when he got her to his apartment and made the move, she indignantly with perhaps the unexpected bug repellant, "What kind of girl do you think I am!" and threw him out like a bible belt Baptist saving her virginity. (Perhaps an inaccurate comparison.)

At the risk of politicizing a work of art for a cheap analogy, which I'll go ahead and do here, the NAACP's self appointed vigil on the Tea Party movement is a lot like Woody's date. Lots of titilating promise, but little delivery. The association teases its Web sites watcing the Tea Party and its loosely affiliated factions like a coming Hollywood thriller (ital our's):

SHOCKING! SHOCKING I TELL YOU!
"At TeaPartyTracker.com you’ve seen the examples of racism at Tea Party events and rallies. Tea Party Nationalism [the report] digs even deeper into the histories of Tea Party leaders around the country, and the results are shocking."

But we know they're really good folks!
But considering its overwhelmingly benign content, not unsurprisingly in a CYA move, the association opens its report with, "...Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will," but then takes a seemingly consultive, if not condescending, supportive role with, "That is why the NAACP- [writer/preparers]-prepared this report that exposes the links between certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups in the United States." Then the report warns, "These links should give all patriotic Americans pause."

I get the feeling the writer, NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Jealous and "preparers," Devin Burghart, Leonard Zeskind and the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, entered the project like TV CSI cops following a blood trail, only to reconvene back at the station empty handed. Get me a Pepto boys, this ain't workin' out...

Is this the best they could do? The tease provides a rundown of "troubling" Tea Party players to support the association's argument of a "connection between numerous Tea Party leaders and racism." But reading the tease you realize quickly it sites only one Tea Party "leader" (county level) and 5 other members (not even in local leadership positions) of various Tea factions-- ResistNet, Tea Party Nation and 1776 Tea Party.

One would presume these are the worst of the worst they could find. The NAACP alleges these six individuals color the entire movement. Having covered a Tea Party event in Memphis without seeing a single racist sign or slur, I have my doubts.

But I'll take the NAACP's research and word some members are or once were affiliated with such groups as the C of CC, the KKK, something called the White Revolution, and/or produce anti-Semitic/racist radio (but, since they brought it up, where is the indignation of anti-Semitic black radio right here in Memphis?).

Dance of the Code Words The three are so close, the NAACP says by way of their fast and loose use in this report, why the terms can be stealthily interchanged where opportunistic to do so. For example, the association's site asks its members to submit photos to "See photos of Tea Party extremism from around the country" without even bothering to define the terms "extremism" nor "racism" for that matter.

So we look at the signs So I looked at the pictures closely to decipher what the NAACP thinks demonstrate those terms as indicated on their own site:

Of the 45 signs posted, only one carried an overt racist message while others broke down this way (my interpretation) on various issues: liberalism-4, Obama himself- 7, role of government-1, birther-1, liberty-8, confederate-1, taxes-4, Fox news-1, stimulus/spending-3, illegal immigration/amnesty-2, deficit-1, concern about socialism-4, ethnicity/religion-3, Tea Party itself-4, politicians-1, attack based on race/racial epithet-1. OK, so one or some, depending on your own interpretation, are racist, but the totality of the signs themselves could in no way show the entire organization to be remotely "racist" nor generally "extreme."

This is not unlike the recent UCLA college student who showed up the media and liberal TV pundits to destroy their favorite meme: that these home made Tea Party signage revealed racism running through the core of the movement. However, of 250 signs, 1% hit upon birther, 5% ethnicity or faith and 25% on the President himself. Yet, how many times have you heard the MSNBC Obermann, Maddow, Shultze crowd harp on "extremism" and "racism" while turning their very name into a high school sex insult, to which nobody else seemed to take an offense? (They could at least graduate to college.)

Threadbare and Worn Tactics Anyway, that tactic has always worked for demagogues, right or left. This time around tactical variations are used by factions of media, Hollywood, college professors, teachers, unions and organizations like the NAACP that are now driven by anxiety. Their language gives them new villains, however imaginary, against which they can carry on the fight.That's why Obama can show up in front of an Hispanic audience and say outright that they have "enemies."

In a country where the great civil rights struggles have been won, where there are real black conservatives, a growing black middle class, racial infusion, interdependence and a black president, harking back to the racist icons of the past just doesn't have the same dramatic play it did in the 60's. True, I'm the first to admit blacks generally don't have the same historic benefit of property ownership nor avoid running into a real white racist, most everything else is up for grabs, the way it should be.

But that doesn't mean conservative political opinion can be marginalized as extreme or racially motivated. They simply won't allow it. Conservatives, whether white or black, want what they see as a rational balance to government policy. And that's what they'll be voting for November 2nd.

Loose Talk from The Paper

Wendi Thomas' rather condescending piece last Monday associating Charlotte Bergmann to a racial epithet raised hackles. It was all due to Wendi's tortured comparison of a 2006 black female opponent of Steve Cohen who said of herself with the unfortunate phrase, "My Place is on the Porch." Wendi's supposed coup de grace was that Bergmann will join that previous candidate "on the porch."

The Bergmann camp cried foul, saying the piece implied Bergmann was a "porch negro." The campaign also objected that Bergmann and her Tea Party compatriots would take away the rights that allowed Bergmann to vote as a woman and a black. Huh? Grab your umbrellas. Seems Wendi likes to fire into the air with her old tired verbal shotgun and see what drops in your soup.

It won't be Charlotte.

We haven't heard the wails of indignation like the ones spontaneously generated by honest miss-statements of Dr. Laura, Limbaugh, Imus and the other victims of ginned up left wing pique to destroy careers for no reason. So nice to hear an objecting voice, even though it was from Howie Morgan, Bergmann's political director, who hit back calling her piece "disgraceful and intentionally venomous," adding the attack was personal, racial, sexist and she should be fired.

Consider Thaddeus Matthews' blatant anti-Semitic rants on behalf of former mayor Willie Herenton. I don't know if Ms Thomas ever wrote anything about that. But will the local media ever discuss the racial conversation that goes on in Memphis? I doubt it. The single major print publication tiptoes around racial game playing like the dancing duck did on the Ed Sullivan Show. Quack...Quack...Quack.

Regardless her language and apparent intent, I don't think anyone should be fired for exercising first amendment rights nor even apologize for expressing an opinion, no matter how offensive. She wrote what she wrote, its there and all people should do is respond.

But...

People, regardless of color, as demonstrated by the Tea Party, now get that Democratic (and big spending fat cat Republican) policies are leading us into a Weimar economy. Hey, Wendi, know what that is? That's when you trot off to Kroger, pay $10 for a dozen eggs and then the Dems vote in a dictator to "lead" them out of the morass they created in the first place.

But, despite Wendi's willingness to give the office by fiat of history to Bergmann's opponent, I suspect Charlotte Bergmann knows exactly what a Weimar economy is. She is the first politician (oh, granted, albeit nonprofessional one without the experience of providing robo votes for Obama's catastrophic policies) I heard to actually say we were heading the way of Greece. That was back in May. (Now its France.)

See Wendi, your winner-by-default Cohen has provided no ideas, new or otherwise--nada--that I can see, unless you think the lottery and reparations proposals make African Americans immune to the Obama driven devaluation of the dollar, coming amnesty of millions of illegal immigrants that will flood the market of available jobs for black Americans (so the Dems can have more votes), deficit growth and inflation created by endless government bloat and bailouts.

In this election, we better think like Americans instead as members of hyphenated interest groups.

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Michael Douglas declares victory
Methodist and West Clinic declare partnership

11.4.11 Michael Douglas, appearing at the benefit for the Methodist Healthcare Cancer Foundation before a crowd 1,150 contributors, declared he was cancer free from stage 1V throat cancer after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Above, he chats with medical oncologist/hematologist Sylvia Richey, M.D. of the West Clinic. Afterwords, she wrote us: " I was able to have lunch with him and he was as gracious as you could imagine and was very personal with his story when we were able to visit. He shared points in his cancer journey with me that only occur in a doctor patient relationship. The funds raised from todays event will help provide cancer care to those who may not otherwise be able to afford expensive cancer treatments-- and that is the first step toward building a comprehensive cancer center that is ultimately planned with the partnership between methodist and The West Clinic. " (Also on Demotix.com for picture distribution. Search Michael Douglas.)
cont'd from "Herman Cain talks like he will win"

Canine Team. Between Tea Party jabs over the mic at the Occupiers defecating on squad cars and ackowledgements of the police at the event itself, a traditional respect for law enforcement ran through this crowd.

Watch for our piece on the Occupy Memphis crowd here tomorrow. See middle col for related story.

Second thoughts. (10.15.11)
The problem with Cain is Cain. First, I don’t get he is really interested in being president. Could the draining tedium of constantly being attacked get to him? After all, believe me, no underlings give it to a corporate boss. Nor do the same give it to a president, I’m sure. Yeah, sure, when Cain famously challenged Clinton Clinton on his health care numbers (thus proving a Rhodes Scholar can get away without knowing arithmetic), he was speaking as an executive of Burker King, or some such fine food related concern that dispenses in a bag or box. But the point is he didn’t want or could notpay his employees health insurance without increasing costs for a burger beyond market tolerance. Understandable, but...

When he declared (sic) it is your fault "you are not rich" to the Occupiers, he is saying he does not get the plight of a college graduate who has tens of thousands in student loans that he or she took out with the belief he or she believed the market would provide some sort of job ("position" in college counselor parlance) that would enable the pay back of said loans. No. And not even No now, but years and years in the future. And once you are out of the job market for even a few years, you are likely to never get back into it.

Now, Mr. Cain, none of the (college "educated" or otherwise) Occupiers I have spoken to expect to be rich. But they would like a career, reasonable income and, of course, a job--and not at a call center (the first sign there is no way to go but up). Disappointingly, it shows he is as out of touch as the rest of the Republican and Democrat gangs.

I think he should drop the harsh anti-protest rhetoric--the crowds may love it, but it gets him little new converts--in his stump language. He, as do all of the Reps, needs to show he understands the impact of the bleed of jobs on generations. After all, the 50+ somethings are also a "lost generation" with no hope of ever recovering once jobs are gone. They, even more than the recent graduates, are destined to live less while the Wall Streeters live more.

Perhaps Mr. Cain thinks he has ameliorated his rhetoric in later remarks that the Occupiers simply are putting the blame on the wrong house--Wall Street-- when they should be blaming Obama and the Democrats for three failed bailouts and ongoing bad economic policy. He thus puts himself in a position of defending the likes of the big hedge fund speculators, leaving job seekers in the cold.

So its past time “the Herminator” include the still inchoate protests in his speech making analysis instead of using them as easy punching bags for his audience. But that may be very difficult for a conservative radio talk show host used to being adored by his Tea Party audience.
cont'd from "Occupy Memphis" middle col

Voting yes with hand signals
Case in point, a successful middle aged professional woman at the meeting told me how her Bank of America account was electronically "raided" of funds after she missed one payment. In 2009 BofA got a $20 billion dollar bailout, she never forgets. Yet it saw fit to literally throw her into poverty for six months. When she called "customer service," she said with bitterness, she was lectured by a 21 year old on how to balance her bank book. "I hope they rot in hell," she concluded with singular lack of charity.

Though I would bet my currently inoperable Jeep that most of these occupiers have at least some common ground with the Tea Partiers--especially with big banks and bailouts--most of them would avoid ideological association.

At any rate, it would be a scene if Tea Party grandmoms delivered cookies and fried chicken at least in partial unity with the occupiers. I have a feeling they would not turn it down.

cont'd from "Lambuth," middle col below
And for a small college with a low student to professor ratio and thus a low number of graduates from which to raise additional funds, losing student loan qualification is devastating. Perhaps reflecting the outside world with falling church revenues among the Methodists, that traditional base of support could not be maintained. She was sinking in a sea of mounting debt. Seeing no way out, trustees voted in April to let her go June 30.

Auctioneers.

You could spot heroic little efforts for the struggle to keep going Saturday. She was a desperate patient that bravely grabbed onto every traditional sign of life that indicated normalcy. The student activities board right outside big hall in the student union building optimistically still announced the dates for fall registration.

But in the last couple of years faculty and staff went without pay for as long as six weeks in the fading hopes a financial solution could be found. Nor was it the first time professors had gone without pay to keep the expensive, grand old lady afloat for its dwindling number of students and the broader society. During the Depression, the university president mortgaged his home to keep her alive. The school experienced a rebirth of sorts in the 1960's. In the Mid-1990's "LU" had "over 1,000 students," according to the auction company brochure.

We not only lost a college, we lost a continuity of our history, culture and values. It may not be tommorow we will miss this small church affiliated college, but someday in some unexpected way, as the larger society spins wierdly into something unrecognizable and foreign, some will remember and miss it.

A former student looks at the bricks, one commemorating a graduate in 1927, sold in a fund raising program still ongoing at auction.

Pictures
with slides.

(cont. of main piece center col. below)
Where were the media? Having a juicy spring food story, that's where
by Benqq, posted 5-15-11

Local media fell over themselves last week in a sauce slathering frenzy to promote what has become an iconic tradition-the bbq cookoff in Memphis in May.

Inspite the implied media endorsement, complaints appeared on their blogs at receiving little or nothing for the price of a ticket and suffering through outright discomfort at the event. Its unlikely you will see any coverage of this customer dissatisfaction angle, given exhibitor participation among potential and current media advertisers. Anything but.

Besides, the event has everything a visitor would want if you are to believe Diane Hampton, executive vice president of MIM and a "barbecue enthusiast," according to the the Commercial Appeal.

As if trying to dodge an approaching undertone of criticism, the local paper in a high wink-wink moment teamed up with Hampton in an article ("Be more than a spectator at this year's barbecue festival" April 20, 2011) that stated: "Attendees have often suffered the misperception that the barbecue is beyond their reach -- that the competition is just for the competitors and the masses are left to scavenge among the Pronto Pup wagons at the periphery."

Our point exactly. And that is exactly what some ticket buyers did experience, according to writers that cannot swallow enthusiastic media accounts. Besides, a pronto pup stand should be the last thing you'd expect to see at a barbeque festival with any self dignity. But there one was, busy as any bbq cook on Tiger Lane because, fact was, the place had a closed door culture that no appearance of Miss Piggie would fix.

Why, according to Hampton, "This event is like a huge family reunion. It is the most amicable group of people you will ever meet. They like to brag and show their skills. Most will invite you in -- if you are nice. In some cases, you might even find yourself a member of the team."

...if you are nice? But what if you are not a "member of the family"? Would it help if the hungry ticket buyer danced a jig? Perhaps told a folk story? Maybe sang Ol' Man River in full Showboat costume? Did back handed flips? Or just paid the old fashioned bribe to get invited into a tent that had barbque and something to drink?

More to the point, what if you simply are not a member of the group? What if you don't have a friend or relative "on the team?" What if you don't possess enough personal charisma to get invited to any party?

The last time I saw this type of bar to entry was at a West Hollywood night club--and there you didn't have to know anybody and you didn't first buy a ticket to stand in line to be "chosen." But that's the consumer issue selling tickets to possibly get invited into private areas presents. Who would willingly buy a ticket for that?

For companies in the open market--but not at BBQ fests--such a closed ethos eventually caused lawsuits and bad PR. (Speaking of PR, didn't someone think--at least--to bus in homeless flood victims--instead of justing sending them meat like they were far away cousins--and treat them as VIP guests? Besides being the right thing to do, such a move would have created countless positive stories about Memphis and the festival.)

So perhaps the BBQ event is actually NOT a community event? Go ahead, admit it. It's ok to have private parties--just advertise it as such so people reasonably expecting to enjoy barbeque without the added price of begging can make an informed decision to come or not. After all, the Cotton Carnival, (also mentioned as one event model in the article) likewise had what the MIM BBQ festival has today: private exclusivity. Only friends invited in. And we all know what happened to that famed Memphis tradition.

But no media org in town is jumping on the story staring them in the face: the event left a bad taste among at least some ticket buyers. How do you touch a story like this when the media has produced one promotional puff piece after another?

Its time for the BBQ festival to figure out a way to the community it purports to represent--openly generous and inclusive to all with unlimited free barbque for as long as it holds out for all. In the meantime, the admission and parking fees should be returned for all who paid for entry.
Rodney Baber and Mirimichi--
Two Parks in a Flood
Memphis--(Sat. May 7,2011)--Looking northwest, Rodney Baber Park is completely under several feet of water even over the baseball diamond field fences.
Millington--Residents (below) Steven and son Austen ride the golf trails through the flooded Mirimichi Golf Course built by Justin Timberlake. Mirimichi, an Indian word for "place of happy retreat," is the "First Certified Golf Course in the United States," as a "certified classic sanctuary" by Audubon International, according to a sign near the entrance. Media reports have staff working nearly around the clock to protect the ecosystem within the course.
Memphis--Facing the east end of Rodney Baber Park, stands Kristopher Stewart looking at water coverage above the fencing. Below, amazed at the depth of the flood waters that reach even higher than the baseball diamond fences.

Fukushima Back to the Future

Nuclear Surfer picture posted 3.25.11 by Benqq "Nuclear Surfer" My music video written and performed by Memphis musician Prof William Donati turned out to be a little too futuristic, considering the recent nuclear mishap in Japan. (Bigger pic w/ bg)
followup: Memphis affiliated writer is quoted in AP story. Scroll down, center col.
Memphis musician produces music video- Peanutbutter and Jelly Offical Video by Todd Whitman. When the sandwich becomes an obsession.
Reward offered in bald eagle shootings in Tennessee.
posted 3.5.11 by Benqq
There are only two tax scenarios relating to school consolidation. Both are bad.
A. If voters do not approve school system consolidation City of Memphis taxes are likely to go up--by 11% to fill the shortfall from the county if it proceeds to set up its own district, according to school board member Martavius Jones (who started all this, unless you consider Shelby County School Board Chairman David Pickler responsible).
B. Regardless your thinking, if voters do approve school system consolidation, City of Memphis taxes could go up by as much as 39% according to Pickler. That's hard to believe, but let's say we're looking at tax increases somewhere between 11% to 39%, according to figures from opposing players. 10% is an outrage and the fact MCS can't even project true out of pocket cost to the tax payer shows MCS members' insensitivity to taxpayers who support the school system. The Memphis City School Board is morally and intellectually pressed to come up with with no other solutions than maneuvering for a money grab. If anything, everyone should vote against this hurried Machiavellian proposal because taxpayers are destined to be stuck yet again, if for no other reason (though there are plenty), lack of time for decent research and planning. Apparently, the best MCS can come up with are a series of "public service announcements." Thanks so much.

And that's not the only gift that keeps on giving from MCS if voters approve.

We can look forward to endless nose bleed lawsuits and business as usual overpriced consultancies and staff. Administration expenses are likely to increase with salary increases, computer standardization (MAC vs. PC), transportation, as well as rehiring support staff ranging from janitors to drivers. And if you have any illusions Memphis City Schools can somehow remake itself into a lean, mean education machine where it at least does not have almost 60% of schools not in academic standing to state standards with 30% of the student body not even graduating, you can dispense with that to.

Under horror movie lighting, David Pickler and Tomeka Hart debate on Channel 5.
In fact, a vote for consolidation virtually insures continued education failure in the Memphis Schools Systems and puts one of the best county systems at risk of being sucked into its morass. If voters pass this bizarre fusion forcing the little fish to ingest the big (on pretext of "unity" even), they will have blocked political options in the future to reduce the bloat and size of Memphis City Schools--all while very probably sacrificing the effectiveness of a working school system so a failing one can continue to wallow in what it apparently believes to be a bottomless trough of taxpayers.

In other words there will be no impact on quality of education after all of this contrivance to fool poor black urban voters the man is again out to get them. (Fact is, again if voters approve, the state legislature may allow special school districts in Shelby County, anyway.)

The media have mostly avoided the race and taxation issues in the consolidation story. Little has been said of resulting tax increases, except on local talk radio.

Memphis City Schools has long been a raw deal for all Memphians, not only because it doesn't perform for the price and especially not for Memphis taxpayers. Taxpayers feel there is only one way to fight back--move, get out, leave the city and its school system that is already impossible to administer successfully. And they want to make even more of a monster? No, thanks.

And what happens if a tax base flees? There's less money to run government. Less for police, fire, community centers, health and yes, schools. So instead of precipitating yet another "white flight," we ask why hasn't MCS been brave and wise enough to see the writing, or graffiti, on the wall? Why haven't they at long last embraced the changes that pulled other failing school systems from the drink?

Instead of continuing to bleed taxpayers?

Nomatter how they cut it, taxes to support the school system with consolidation or with the county system becoming a separate district are likely to go up. Instead of being willing to break the city's tax base, why hasn't the MCS school board minimally planned for this possibility? Moreover, why hasn't it handled this "crisis" in a way that remakes Memphis City Schools into a world class system by firing bad teachers and principals, cutting the bloat and unnecessary jobs, and hiring truly life-changing teachers and administrators for the students it keeps barking about serving?

For now, at least, vote against consolidation and hope something like a Tea Party will engage the political process locally.

The Point at WMPS to debut Feb. 21
(Posted 2.14.11 by BenQQ)
Above, Mark A. Skoda, from left Timothy Price. Insets: Charlotte Bergmann, Steve Gill and Christian singers the Beatys warming up a crowd of about 80. Larger Pic

So what's the point of more radio talk in Memphis? Plenty says Tea Party activist Mark A. Skoda, the latest radio talkslinger that today all but challenged the others to a shootout in the center of Beale. But, on second thought, scratch that metaphor. Black radio activist Thaddeus Matthews (WPLX AM1180) might take it serious. In fact, the other talker in Memphis that's on the same strategic, but politically opposite, page is Matthews. I've done pieces on him like this and this.

Holstering up today at the Crescent Club with his own activist team of conservatives--9th Cong. Republican candidate of last year Charlotte Bergmann, her campaign staffers Timothy Price and Rosine Ghawzi (pic below in ACT! story)--is Skoda, whom you may have seen on CNN last year as a frequent Tea Party spokesperson and leader.

The event was a kind of cross between a sales pitch and press conference about WMPS' 1210-AM The Point, that brands a lineup of conservative talkers, including Skoda's own The Mark Skoda Show, 4:00- 7:00 pm Mon-Fri. Skoda's program runs daily against other conservative talkers Andrew Clarksenior (WREC AM600) and Ben Ferguson (KWAM AM990), as well as Matthews mentioned above.

The lineup also includes talk shows of Steve Gill,another self professed radio activist who attended the conference today, Dennis Miller, Doug Urbanski, Mike Galagher, Jim Bohannon, Matthew Hill, Rusty Humphries, Dirk Van, Larry and Chuck Bates.

Skoda said he and radio entrepreneur/politician George Flinn, who owns several radio stations, created WMPS approach to the Memphis market. This includes carrying the lineup over 87.7-FM, now The Pig, and the internet.

U Send Us Links and Mail...
CSmonitor.com reports Putin behind the curtain in oil man's conviction and sentence. And so Obama wants to sigh the START treaty with these guys? Are you kidding?
Wsj.com says ads in e-books inevitable.
Nydailynews.com slams "smug atheists" like Bill Maher (see center col)
Usmagazine.com reports reports piano man Elton John and "husband" David Furnish have a new baby. And welcome to the aggressive new normal from mainstream media.
In the www.dailymail.co.uk Hitler's "Christmas" Bash Rare shots by his personal photographer of Hitler and his boys having a party in 1941.
Why they're called The Greatest Generation: AP reports WWll airman Fred Hargesheimer died Dec. 23 at age 94. He was shot down by a Japanese pilot, who could have but did not shoot him in his parachute, over New Britain. For seven months Nakanai villagers hid him from Japanese patrols, fed and nursed him back to health. He never forgot their kindness and established a school on the island in 1963. Nor have the Nakanai forgotten him.
Orientation Handbook for McKean Federal Correctional Institute where actor Wesley Snipes
was ordered 12.09/10 to begin his three year sentence for tax evasion.
Details hour by hour schedule of life for prisoners in this medium security federal prison.
PDF.
Big Brother While Driving
Ray Lahood says the DOT is considering technologies to jam cell phones in your car while driving to make them conform to local driving laws. Give Big Brother a toy and he'll use it.
18th century anyone?
Only property owners should vote from one of the founders of the Tea Party. We know you're not racist, but you're not right either. All adult white males (forget everybody else) got the right to vote everywhere in America in 1850. A recent survey showed 91% of black voters would vote for Obama again only because he was black. Thinking about ideas, not race, helps democracy.
Pay me or I'll send my relatives Gaddafi demands £4 billion from EU or Europe will turn 'black.' We shouldn't have missed.
With friends like this...
Afghan officials free top Taliban fighters.
A guy marries his dog, a different journalistic take on man bites dog story. But he says, "Its not sexual. It's pure love."
Chuck Norris to Become Honorary Texas Ranger. Calls Obama a pansy.
The Iranian Islamic fatalist fascist head of state now has 19 advanced missiles, thanks to help from North Korea, that might become the "building blocks" to reach long range targets. Even a neighbor pressured the US to "cut off the head of the snake."
World running out of fishing grounds.
Hooray for Huey! Huey Lewis and The News Benefit Memphis
...by producing their newest CD "Soulsville" with all sales proceeds going to the Stax Music Academy of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. An informal picture story by Benqq (more pix) ↓

Blame it on the Teachers--The $90 Million Payoff to Discover What We Already Know
posted 11.8.10
But does Hamilton High School still blare Michael Jackson music instead of ringing a bell between classes? (source)

Now we have the most mega successful business man dropping into Memphis from an opening in the sky to give the Memphis City Schools $90 million to ferret out why, excuse my coarseness, teachers suck. Amazing. This is like winning the big multi-million dollar prize for "race to the top," a government sponsored contest to identify the worst schools in the the country to throw money at them. Of course, our city was a winner in that one too. Money makes people admit to anything.

Poor crime ridden Memphis loves getting the dough for which you better believe school administration, board and the teachers union are more than happy to agree with the Gates Foundation: it must be the teachers' fault. In many cases, absolutely. We've all had bad teachers, but those bad ones did not blow all the years in school or cause us to graduate illiterate. Ergo, the argument seems to go, there must be more bad teachers than good ones. If so, you'll never see it at an MCS board meeting, where teachers stand and deliver to the dead lizard eyes of board members tales of frustration amd lack of support from their administration offices.

Writes Michael Seffield today in the Memphis Business Journal: "Melinda Gates acknowledged the process will not see immediate results, but that the foundation was committed to the long-term improvement of teachers within MCS."

There you have it boys and girls. Just own up its all the teachers' fault and you get your candy. Then we'll see fat check administrative geniuses pointing to the light. Obviously, its an unintended message, but one that squats in the room like an elephant anyway. Surprised Gates' PR flacks didn't catch it from the start.

Regardless, if you want to uncover what makes for "teacher retenion and effectiveness" there are documentaries and movies like "Waiting for Sampson" and "Precious" that should be required viewing, plenty of media accounts how determined school systems have reversed downwardly spiraling scores and chaotic social behaviors--as well as plenty of accounts of how teachers who succeeded dramatically to the benefit of their students. (And then you never hear about most of the teachers, those who teach successfully, consistently every day, many who show up and deal with actual abuse and disrespect from those they are trying to teach.) But really want to know how to improve Memphis education? Listen to the teachers and support their needs--and fire those hack principals who won't walk the line to support them. And while you're overhauling the MCS, the Tea Party might work to defund the equally deficient and costly Department of Education. These steps and nothing short of cultural reformation will create the change the $90 million "payoff" it says it seeks.

But still, think 90 mil will stop the blaring of Michael Jackson music between classes? Related previous MPN stories here and here. (scroll down)

Teachers--like to write for us either anonymously or otherwise? All inquiries private. Contact us.
Different Media on Withers
posted 11-6-10 by Benqq
Last month reporter Marc Perrusquia of the Commercial Appeal brokethe revelatory news that photographic chronicler of the civil rights movement Ernest Withers worked as a paid FBI informant. It was a big story and a bit self revealing. Yes, just like East Germany, we too can have domestic paid spies, otherwise trusted and admired, who could even be artists, or at least communicators.

Subsequently, media and fellow civil rights collegues themselves variously went from villifying Withers to quickly treating him as almost a victim himself. He needed the money, he really was helping the movement, nomatter what he always cared. Even, recently mercifully canned from CNN, Rick Sanchez pulled in Andrew Young who good naturedly excused Withers artful duplicity and personal betrayals. All in the name of photographing history.

Ironically, ART News the same month ran a photograph of Withers, Sanitation Workers Assemble in front of Clayborn Temple for a Solidarity March, Memphis, Tennessee, March 28, 1968, in an article about an exhibit of the visual arts and the civil rights movement. Are we to think it would have been OK for photographer Charles Moore to have been an informant as well after capturing the dogs in Birmingham? Judging by Withers' subjects, one might think so.

A fan is pleased by a hug from Huey last Thursday (9.30.10) at the Stax Museum.

Posing with members of the museum and those contributing $100 a ticket for the academy for shots with Huey. Two things I noticed. First, he personally engaged every person with handshake and full warm reception of comments. Second, he was tuned in, perhaps out of a mix of courtesy and professionalism, to the still cameras at the event, one of which was mine and I had only received press credentials by Tim Sampson, Stax Communications Director, the day of the event.
I normally don't do standups unless assigned. In these shots, he was mugging-a blessing for a photographer--for the other shooter.
On stage in a discussion with Lewis was Al Bell, President of the Memphis Music Foundation and songwriter David Porter. Interim Museum Director Lisa Allen presents gifts to Lewis. Lewis said he and his band listened to soul music in the 60s growing up in Marin County, California when everyone else was tuning to psychedelic.
More than one fan presented pics on cell phones, for which Huey at least played along and engaged. Perhaps a digital version of an autograph. He even schticked a funny message to fan's roommate's phone. People saw immediately this guy was open and was one of them. At least it seemed so and from what I saw he was actually enjoying it. Think Mick would? Anyway, never seen a celebrity do that.
People stood in lines patiently waiting for a chance to exchange words, a glance and always skin to skin hand shake. How could he possibly remember names and information? The event of sending by nature of the event more intense than the receiver.
One of the few IDs to get for the evening was Jenifer and Christopher Jenkins. This was later in the formal photo sessions before the panel discussion (above) on stage was still on.
And Here's Ify!

Ify Emechete is one of Memphis rising stars. More pictures here

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