Tag Archives: Nashville

Checking In With NASH

It was almost a year ago that the country’s first “city-centric” investment fund, an ETF comprised entirely of Nashville-based companies, made its debut. At the time I called it “the stupidest investment idea ever” and also noted that,

You know your investment idea sucks when Arthur Laffer “loves” the idea…

.. and also:

I know I’m just a dumb housewife, not an investment genius like the bigwigs behind this idea, but what is the magic of having companies from diverse business sectors all lumped into one ETF just because they’re based out of Nashville? What does Dollar General have to do with HCA? The fund’s founders say:

The partners say Nashville’s position as an “it” city for business makes it an ideal candidate to launch the unique ETF.

This made no sense to me whatsoever, and it still doesn’t. It struck me as nothing more than a civic marketing campaign involving some local hotshots with too much extra money lying in their overstuffed sofa cushions which they didn’t mind throwing away. That’s fine if you can afford it, but there are some investment-ignorant people out there who actually buy this horseshit who probably can’t afford to lose their retirement money on what is basically a marketing ploy by the local Chamber of Commerce.

But what do I know. So, was the NASH ETF really a lousy idea? Let’s take a look-see:

NASH

NASH opened at $25 per share. Today it’s at $27.88. Its range: $23.75-$28 a share. YTD Return: a whopping 1.10% (inflation rate for May 2014 was 2.13%). Meanwhile, the markets as a whole have been booming. For example:

The NASDAQ composite is up 6.80%:

NASDAQ

The S&P 500 is up nearly 7%:

S&P500

While even the Dow has been up 2,56%:

DOW

Again, I’m no genius about this stuff, maybe I’m missing something, but it still seems like this was a stupid idea and Arthur Laffer is still an economic dunce.

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Filed under Nashville, Tennessee, Wall Street

Today In Church And State

[UPDATE]:

As of Saturday, June 28, the McKnight campaign signs are gone, but the stuff on the church sign is still there.

—————————————————-

Just saw this on my way home from the grocery store this morning:

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You've Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You’ve Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Amendment One is an anti-abortion measure. I had to Google this McKnight fellow, but he’s a big-time right-to-lifer.

This church isn’t too far from my house. I’ve always referred to it as the Wingnut Bible Church because their signs are always advertising some wingnutty seminar or program: “End-Times Prophecy,” “Justice Sunday” and crap like that. Every July Fourth they put about a dozen or so ginormous American flags on their property, because Jesus was an American and a Founder and Christian Nation and Shut Up. But I’ve never seen them outright politick like this before.

I’m not a lawyer, definitely not a Constitutional one, but I’m pretty sure the IRS frowns on these kinds of outright political endorsements from tax-exempt churches. Don’t they?

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Filed under abortion, church and state, Nashville, religion, religious fundamentalism, Tennessee

Open Primaries Are An Awful Idea And They Suck

If you’ve been to Nashville lately you know we have an election next week, because every house and business seems to have sprouted a garden of campaign signs. Judging by the yard signs and amount of campaign literature flooding our mailboxes you’d think this was a national election. But no: we’re voting for District Attorney and a whole bunch of judges. These are not normally high-interest races, but this year in addition to the constant influx of mailers we’ve been inundated with robocalls, door-to-door campaigners, television ads, etc. Oh and let me add, Tuesday’s elections are for the primaries; the actual election is in August.

We haven’t seen this level of interest for judicial primaries since, well, ever. This time, however, early voting numbers have doubled what they were the last time we elected judges.

All of which I find really interesting. So, with that in mind, this caught my attention:

Dread

Adam Dread is the poster boy for why having open primaries is stupid and lame and should be changed. Dread is running in the Republican primary for judge but he apparently did not vote for himself because he chose to vote in the Democratic primary instead. He can do that because his race is uncontested and we have open primaries in the state of Tennessee.

Adam Dread is a vocal Republican. He has always been a vocal Republican. He has name recognition in this city because before going to law school he was a local stand-up comedian and college radio DJ who developed a douchey “Man Of Leisure” personae where he got to spout his sexist and racist BS in local media. He tried to run in the Democratic primary this time out and got busted for it. So he basically got shamed into running as a Republican, even though he is a Republican.

Such are the trials of being a Republican in true-blue Nashville/Davidson County. Though Tennessee is very, very red, Nashville is not. If you are a Republican in Nashville you swim in a very small pond. This is abundantly clear when you see the Republican primary ballot for Tuesday’s election: an endless list of “no candidate qualified” non-choices and non-contested races. Sucks to be you.

So the solution for Republicans is to sometimes run as Democrats instead, which Dread tried to do before he got busted. I’m sure we have more than a few Republican “Trojan Horses” on the Democratic primary ballot, and weeding them out is hard because there’s very little information on a lot of these folks. Let me add: I really don’t get this strategy. You will have a chance to go head-to-head against the Democratic candidate in the general election in August. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? I guess they want to take the easy way out, try to beat the Democrat in the primary and then coast to an easy victory as an uncontested candidate.

But even worse are all the Republicans who are voting in the Democratic primary this time out and supporting Democratic candidates. People like notorious Republican moneybags Lee Beaman, who has funneled bazillions of dollars to conservative groups like Americans For Prosperity, the Club For Growth, not to mention the RNC and related Republican committees.

Beaman is supporting Democratic candidate Glenn Funk for DA. As a result, I’ve seen Glenn Funk campaign signs in the yards of people I know to be Tea Partiers — people who supported Newt fucking Gingrich in the last presidential primary, fergawdsake. I mean, c’mon, people.

Why should Lee Beaman, an outspoken, prominent Republican, and his minions be selecting the Democratic candidate for DA? Again: these folks can vote for whomever they want in August. But these people are not Democrats. They should vote for a Republican candidate in the primary, and if the GOP can’t find one, well, sorry. Now you know how we Democrats feel every time we go to the polls for state and some national elections.

Let me add, I’m sure there are quite a few very red counties in this state where the tables are turned and Republicans dominate the local elections and Democrats are picking Republican candidates. This is wrong.

Also, just a little tip to all of you Republicans who plan to vote in Democratic primaries: you are now listed as a Democrat in the Election Commission data base. That data base will be used by canvassers in future elections. If you don’t want to be asked for money by the Democratic Party or receive mailers and door-knockers for Democratic candidates, do not vote in a Democratic primary. (I cannot tell you how many people told me they “didn’t know how they got on the Democratic Party’s solicitation list” when I was doing campaign work. I do: you voted in a Democratic primary, idiots. So don’t do it.)

I don’t think Republicans should be picking Democratic candidates. I don’t think Democrats should be picking Republican candidates, either.

I want this changed. Republicans should want this changed, too.

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Filed under elections, Nashville, Tennessee

Is This A New Healthcare Scam Or What?

As you may recall, I recently went for my annual mammogram, which was quite an adventure. But now, dear friends, the adventure continues!

We’ve got really good insurance from BlueCross/BlueShield, so my annual exams of this type have always been covered 100%. But this time, for the first time ever, the hospital’s billing office called me prior to my appointment to “pre-check me in,” and also to let me know the cost would be “around $150.” I let them know my insurance has always paid for this in full and asked if they were sure about the charge? The woman on the phone sounded unconcerned, like this is something they routinely tell people without checking what their insurance plans call for, just a heads’ up of what they might need to expect. Or not, as the case may be.

I found that totally weird. If I hadn’t been doing this every year for a while and knew I was never charged, I might be a little freaked out. I’d especially be panicked if $150 was a make-or-break amount of money for my monthly budget, which it easily can be for a lot of folks. Especially the kinds of people not accustomed to shelling out large amounts of money on regular health services like mammograms. For example, people new to the healthcare market, thanks to Obamacare. Just sayin’.

As it happens, I get my mammogram and there’s no charge, as usual. The office said they’d file with insurance, as usual.

So imagine my surprise when about 4 days later I get a bill from the hospital! Again: this has never happened before! I assumed it was a bill I could ignore because BlueCross/BlueShield typically takes months to process claims. But the bill showed a discounted amount of around $143, and I’d had that phone call saying I should expect to pay around $150 … so I was a little confused. Again: if I hadn’t done this before and known not to be worried, I’d be in a panic.

So I called the hospital’s billing office and asked WTF is this thing I got in the mail. And get this: she says, “Oh, we just send that out in case you want to pay it. You don’t have to, but if you want to.”

Whaaaa…???

I asked her to clarify what she meant. “You mean, pay it and then have you pay me back when the insurance company pays?” Yes. That is what she meant. If I wanted to. But I didn’t have to.

People, I ask you: who the fuck would want to do that?

Now might be a good time to remind everyone that this service was performed at the for-profit HCA (now TriStar) hospital in Nashville, Centennial. And I just have to wonder again if this isn’t some kind of scam they’re running trying to get money out of people who are new to dealing with hospital billing departments and insurance, now that ObamaCare has brought thousands of newbies into the system.

It just seems a little sleazy to me. I absolutely would not be surprised to learn that staff at Centennial are given a bonus for every “early payment” they coerce out of patients.

Meanwhile, BlueCross/BlueShield has started sending me a stupid newsletter it calls “Healthy Options,” filled with recipes and coupons for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, Minute Maid Light Lemonade and other crap made out of toxic waste I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot fork. I don’t know when my health insurance company got into bed with ConAgra, ADM and the rest of our Big Food Overlords but I find this an ominous sign and I’m pretty sure it can’t be good for anyone. I just really don’t want to be marketed to by these people. Seems like there might be something better to do with that money.

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Filed under HCA, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville

It City Status Officially Revoked

Yesterday Nashville tore down this gorgeous 135-year-old mansion on Music Row to make way for Richard Branson’s new Virgin Nashville Hotel:

safe_image.php

Sorry I don’t have a better picture. Nobody saw this coming. Maybe if we’d had a heads’ up someone could have gone down there to get a goddamn photo before the bulldozers arrived, y’know? As it is, we’re forced to rely on Google Street View to be the official record of Nashville history.

So, this is progress? No thanks. Real “It Cities” respect their history. And Rebecca Hamilton, trustee of the estate, who sold out and conveniently hid behind “no comment”? Giving you a one-fingered salute, honey.

[UPDATE]:

In an email, the Metro Historical Commission tells me they’d been talking with the building’s new owners since December in an effort to get them to incorporate the original building into their design. This tells me they’ve known the wrecking ball was coming for months and never clued anyone else in about it: not the community they’re supposed to serve, not preservationists, not the news media.

As I said, if anyone had a heads’ up we could have at least got a goddamn picture. But no. So, major fail for another city agency.

Would love to know who’s financing this project. If it’s a local Nashville bank you can expect to hear from me and my middle finger.

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Filed under Nashville, Tennessee

Lost In Spaces

Oh, hello. Can someone tell me what day it is? You see, I’ve been underground for so long, I seem to have lost all track of time.

Seriously, TriStar could not have built a more sprawling, confusing, pathetically-lacking-in-wayfinding medical complex than its Nashville headquarters, Centennial. I got hopelessly lost on my way to my annual “X-ray the titties” ordeal and then afterwards toured the poorly-lit parking garage for a full 40 minutes trying to find my car. I was finally rescued by a valet. I’d probably still be down there if I hadn’t run into him. And it wasn’t just me! There were two other women down there trying vainly to find their cars, as well.

I mean, there’s an entire army of lost souls down there, wandering around like they’re searching for Charon to ferry them across the river Styx. Metro Police could probably solve all sorts of missing persons cases if they took a quick trip down there. I’m serious! This was truly the fifth circle of hell. WTF, people?

You want some insult added to that injury? How about this: somewhere along my journey I stumbled across a marble wall with that insufferable Frist family quote, “Good people beget good people,” emblazoned in ginormous silver letters. Savvy liberals will remember this as the title of the family genealogy Bill Frist penned. It got repeatedly hijacked in the Amazon “reviews” section by people offended at the quote’s pomposity, and the fact that then-Senate Majority Leader Frist was making an ass of himself by video-diagnosing Terri Schiavo and helping lead Americans into Iraq. (By the way, the faux reviews are still there.)

“Good people beget good people”? Really? How about, good people know how to design a fucking medical complex so that good people don’t lose two hours of their lives just trying to get to and from their damn appointments. Fuck you, Bill Frist.

I’ve been to a lot of medical complexes in my life, from coast to coast, and have never seen anything as poorly designed as this one.

Major fail.

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Filed under Nashville

Things Don’t Go Better With Koch

You know what I always say: nothing screams “small government” like a national corporate astroturf group getting your state legislature to crush a municipal transit project.

This won’t mean anything to anyone outside of Nashville, but the Amp has been a hotly debated, very controversial bus project proposed for our city, which sorely needs to improve its craptacular mass transit. I have some good friends in the “Stop-Amp” crowd and some good friends in the “Amp-Yes!” crowd and I’ve been on the fence until now.

The best argument the Stop-Amp folks had was that while the project is a good idea, the route was all wrong. But they pretty much ditched that argument when they got the state Senate to basically ban all mass transit projects in the city. How’s that small government workin’ for ya, folks? The fact that the major funder behind this nonsense is the awful Lee Beaman, who owns several major car dealerships in the city, might strike one as rather self-serving, as well.

So now we have the Kochs stinking up our capitol, and be careful who you align yourselves with, folks. Because having turned the state of Wisconsin into what Charlie Pierce calls “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries,” it looks like Tennessee is next:

AFP pushes for low taxes, less government spending, more accountability and better schools, Ogles said. The Amp wasn’t the only excitement last week for the group, which has three employees but plans to double its staff soon.

AFP hailed a Senate committee’s passage of school voucher legislation, though it wasn’t as broad as the proposal the organization lobbied for, and the General Assembly’s approval of a measure requiring Gov. Bill Haslam to get legislative approval before expanding TennCare.

Not bad for an outfit that got started here just nine months ago with a budget that Ogles calls “sizable” but won’t disclose. Ogles, one of two registered lobbyists on the staff, said Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee doesn’t endorse or contribute to political campaigns. But he said it saw a political gold mine — and a national launching pad — in Republican-dominated Tennessee.

“With supermajorities in both houses,” he said, “Tennessee is a great state to pass model legislation that can be leveraged in other states.”

Umm … how about some accountability by revealing your budget and donors? No? Gee, I wonder why not.

Is Tennessee ready to be a Mid-South subsidiary of Koch Industries? It’s worked so well for Wisconsin, which has continued to bleed jobs since the Kochs installed Scott Walker in the governor’s office.

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Filed under astroturfing, Lee Beaman, Nashville, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

“She Didn’t Ask”

Tennessee Gov. Haslam, who refuses to expand the state’s Medicaid program, preferring to let the state’s poor get sick and die (I suppose), while also claiming to have some kind of super-secret non-existent Tennessee plan that he’s supposedly “negotiating” (wink wink), and who recently was in the news asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to come up with a proposal that would give Tennessee more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage,” could have asked Sebelius for an update on said plan today. Because today, Secretary Sebelius was in Nashville urging people to sign up for ObamaCare:

Sebelius was joined by Amy Speace, a 46-year-old singer-songwriter who was able to find insurance on the exchange for $30 a month with a $500 deductible, thanks to a tax credit. Speace said she did not at first think she would be eligible for insurance on the exchange because she already was covered by a high deductible plan through a musicians group. Despite that coverage, she nearly had to declare bankruptcy a few years ago when she developed laryngitis and ended up owing $5,000 in medical bills. She was only saved from bankruptcy by the help of a charity.

So, did Gov. Haslam meet with Sebelius for an update on that counterproposal? What do you think?

The governor told a reporter that he had no plans to meet with Sebelius when she came through Nashville on Thursday.

“She didn’t ask,” Haslam said.

I guess he just doesn’t give a shit.

Every day thousands of Tennesseans who lack health insurance face bankruptcy and worse. Gov. Haslam certainly doesn’t seem unduly concerned about those folks.

Good to know.

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Filed under Gov. Bill Haslam, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville, Obamacare

Still Not Feeling Better, Folks

Last August I posted about some strange signs the Metro Nashville police department had put up in my neighborhood which I found creepy and more than a little disturbing. They looked like this:

IMG_0987

Well, you can imagine my dismay when last week I started seeing these things in my neighborhood:

sign

Wowzah. Just curious: Does any criminal believe that the police will announce they’re doing an undercover surveillance operation? Did they put this ginormous sign up because the little yard signs weren’t working? Why not just put up a billboard advertising T.J. Eckleberg, O.D., and be done with it?

I really don’t get the point of this and it creeps me the hell out. We’ve had a few break-ins in the neighborhood, some people had their car windows smashed and items like laptops and purses stolen. Well, folks, here’s a thought: don’t leave anything you don’t want stolen inside your car. That’s just a no-brainer to me.

Whatever. I think our police department is out of ideas.

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Filed under Nashville

Dear God But It’s Cold Out There

Here in Nashville the temperature dropped from yesterday’s high of — I shit you not — 58 degrees to seven degrees this morning. All in the space of, what, 12 hours?

It reminds me of that scene from the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow where Jake Gyllenhaal is trying to outrun an Arctic super storm which caused the temperature to fall 150 degrees in a matter of minutes. He just barely makes it inside the New York Public Library, where everyone is burning volumes of the New York tax code to stay warm.

So maybe Nashville’s temperature drop wasn’t quite the Hollywood version, but it was pretty extreme. We survived. All the critters were safely indoors last night, though our one outdoor cat doesn’t understand why I can’t change the weather for him. It’s going to reach a balmy eight degrees today and then fall down to two degrees tonight. And I’m not even talking about wind chill, folks. This is baseline temperatures.

All of this has given the dumb-dumbs on the far right a great excuse to guffaw about how global warming can’t be real because, “har har, it’s cold in my backyard and everything is always all about me!” I wonder what they’d say if they were in Australia, which is smashing summer heat records right now? It’s even warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than Nashville. Politics may be local but climate is not.

It’s funny because I remember those same people laughed that the premise of that movie — global warming precipitates a new Ice Age — as just more liberal Hollywood propaganda. Typical! The people who thought Jack Bauer offered a real national security policy expected a big-budget Hollywood summer disaster flick to provide real climate science! Of course the one film which did present actual real climate science — “An Inconvenient Truth” — was also derided by these same dumb-dumbs because Al Gore Is Fat and Tipper didn’t churn her own butter. Now they’re saying because it’s cold in January, global warming is a hoax. Can’t win for losing with these idiots.

Anyway, it’s going to get even colder tonight. Bundle up, folks.

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Filed under climate change, Nashville, Tennessee, weather