Saturday, June 30, 2018

NashVegas

That is one of the many monikers that Nashville attaches to itself like a child looking for a nickname. Again, I have never experienced anything quite as sad.grim.pathetic. I say this as this is a city searching for purpose or reason of decades of being the second best, the neglected ugly sister where Memphis seemed to draw the attention and in turn the history and respect when it comes to booze and music.  Funny I always associate it with the murder of Martin Luther King so you see my priorities. I have yet to go to Memphis and now will due to the King memorial there and to see Graceland.  Balance people balance!

After the 2010 flood, the country was in dire recession and Nashville was trying to be a boon town and in turn the federal monies that came in during this time, along with the investors looking to hide/park/launder/exploit the Government money that the Obama administration made available to communities under water, in this case literally, that were the result of the 2008 recession.  That was which was lost in  Nashville was opportunity gained.   But the reality was for whom?  It appears that the rich got richer and the poor were still poor just employed.

The South has an almost reverence for poverty as that is what Jesus was.  Yes the mythical or real or whatever person who lived thousands of years ago (they did not have dinosaurs in the Middle East) was poor.  Sure but given adjustments with inflation he still would have been poor just not dirt poor. But poverty is seen as an aspirational tool in which to elevate oneself by the same mythical boot straps that don't exist and are a part of another unicorn tale in American history.  That is what is the constant message from the pulpit to the podium as if you are poor you can rise above those circumstances and become wealthy and happy and President of the United States.  That latter one I assume will be removed from many individuals pep talks in the future. 

But poverty is also another tool in which to bury people.  The view of those poor is that they have failed intrinsically to rise above their status, their skin color, the endless laws, policies and regulations often put in place to ensure that climb on the ladder is akin to tackling climbing Mt. Everest.  From education to housing the lines are not ones drawn in the sand.  Add to that medical care,  public transportation, the notions of access versus availability becomes another rung in the infinity ladder.

Add the next factor to ensure that the myths continue to rise is the role of the Church to inflate, deflate and polemicize the failures of those who don't believe hard enough.   Yes Dorthy just click those heels three times and you will be home.

This is the hypocrisy that dominates the air here, thick like the humidity and just as oppressive Religion is the curse and the blessing that runs redolent through the Bible belt and this belt is extra large with plenty of holes in which to choke you with.  Drugs rule here and they run from the illegal with regards to the Opioid crisis (but pot that is the gateway to hell and that highway is a one way ticket issued to largely people of color. Green means go, go directly to jail or a ticket with a fine that you can't pay. Opioids are for white people and in turn that means rehab and self pity.  Got it? Good.
Then we have the legal and the whiskey trail runs long here next to that same belt in the same way the Bourbon and betting in Kentucky.  But horses like distilleries not dispensaries are run by those who have their own history and resources in which to fund the monuments that dot the streets of these confederacy's.

It seems exhausting to keep track of the players in this game, no it is quite easy.  First follow the money, then follow the Bible, then follow the women and you will find the order of import in the land of Jesus.  Someone has to fill that plate when passed.

And the plate runneth over when it comes to booze.  The street of honky tonks that make millions in revenue for the city of Nashville cannot be denied.  The street is called Broadway and is no less theatrical just less glamorous than the one to the north.  Dorothy click those heels and take me there as I have been in many a seat in many a house there, here in the city I do live,  I have never set foot in any of them.

These business are now full on corporations down to branding akin to Trump with affiliations and associations with greater stars who no longer live here or do so only temporarily as no one with real money is here full time unless you have a business here, the largest employer is the Government followed by Vanderbilt and then Ryman entertainment.  Many of the bars, the stores and other entertainment venues (Opryland Resort for one) own and run these that bring the boys to the yard and that is why they are wetting themselves over the future Nashville Yards another copy of New York Hudson Yards only with less style and more cheap over chic.    I hope to be long gone when this bullshit is finally finished.  Vegas was built by the mob, Nashville was built by white trash. But with money.

Money here comes primarily from three factors, Ed and Med and Hospitality.  The latter is the one that employs the workforce that is supposedly 100 people a day who come here without the qualifications needed to work in the first two and they are the ones that pay the bare minimum The Musicians that have acclaimed their fame to those boozeria's that align Broadway are paid by tips, so from your 3 dollar bill put that extra 2 that you get from the 5 you break, give one to the player and the other to the Bartender, they need it.  I could use a drink myself it is now hitting over 100 degrees here.

Lawyers Drugs and Money is what built NashVegas and they run this town to the ground.  There are few smart educated professionals that live here, no one in their right mind would unless they wanted to lose it.  Come here for the bullshit and stay for the prayers.  You will need them.

This is from the Washington Post regarding the truth behind the promise and the reality beyond the hypocrisy.  Drinks on me, well just as long as they $3 bucks!





Sobering truths
Inside country music’s complex — and increasingly lucrative — love affair with alcohol

By Emily Yahr  The Washington Post  June 28, 2018

ARLINGTON, Tex. – As the temperature inched toward 92 degrees in the parking lots outside Kenny Chesney’s concert in May, the beer cans were icy, the Jell-O shots were melting, and the T-shirts were direct: “Country Music and Beer, That's Why I’m Here.” “Pour Me Something Tall and Strong.” “Make America Drunk Again.”

Brightly hued bottles of Blue Chair Bay Rum, the country superstar’s popular beverage brand, lined the tables at tailgates around AT&T Stadium, where fans gathered hours before the first opening act went on at 5 p.m. When the crowd of about 46,000 started streaming into the venue, some friendly patrons near an entrance offered a beer bong funnel to passersby, and cheers erupted whenever anyone took on the challenge.

“Tequila, baby!” one man yelled nearby. Across the street, participants in a mother-daughter tailgate ticked off why summer Chesney concerts are so appealing: “Beer, songs, sunshine.” That night, Chesney, who has found immense success in the past two decades selling the idea of island-style relaxation, would reference alcohol in 18 out of his 23 songs.

Although fans imbibe copiously at concerts of every genre, all of which boast songs about drinking, it’s possible that no slice of American life has embraced alcohol with the enthusiasm of country music. The two have gone hand-in-hand for decades, thanks in part to the so-called “tear in your beer” songs that helped make the format famous.
3:12
‘Tear in my beer’: How country artists use alcohol to sing about love

Country artists love singing about drinking. It's an essential part of many classic country tunes, especially the ones about love. (Nicki DeMarco, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

But today, country music and alcohol are inextricably linked as never before. Not only has the genre become known (and sometimes mocked) for its sheer amount of drinking-themed songs, but an increasing number of country acts have created their own brands of booze, including Chesney’s rum, Blake Shelton’s Smithworks vodka, Miranda Lambert’s Red 55 wine and Toby Keith’s Wild Shot mezcal.

In June, Shelton and Jason Aldean opened bars in downtown Nashville. They join recent establishments from Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson and Dierks Bentley, each of whom has a musical catalogue that pairs naturally with a few drinks.

“I know what’s going on at my shows. People are coming out to blow off steam and have a great time,” said Bentley, whose current tour is sponsored by Twisted Tea. “I’m kind of like the lead bartender: Jumping up on the bar table, drinking shots with you and singing ballads with you like at an old Irish pub somewhere.”

Every artist — even those who don’t drink — knows the power of relating to audiences through drinking, even if it’s in appearance only. Brad Paisley closed his 2012 concert tour set list with one of his biggest hits, “Alcohol,” during which he would invite his opening acts back onstage. A makeshift bar was brought out, and drinks were poured — except, according to one opener’s band member, the liquid was actually lemonade Vitamin Water.

However, when hearing “country music” and “alcohol” together, some people are reflexively defensive. Traditionally, the conjured image is not flattering, from the early-1900s “drunk hillbilly” stereotype to summer 2014, when country concerts saw a spate of intoxication-related hospital trips and arrests, and one death.

But that connection is changing, as the genre is skewing younger and wealthier than ever. According to the Country Music Association, fans of country music ages 18 to 24 have increased by 54 percent over the past decade, and the format has grown in popularity on the coasts — not just middle America, as many assume. The CMA also reported country music consumers have an average annual household income of $82,000, above the national average, and that amount is climbing.

Decades ago, when the country format was scorned as niche music of the working class, the prominence of alcohol fed into the cliche of drowning your sorrows at a honky-tonk. Now, it’s the reverse. Modern country singers promote alcohol largely as an escape: partying with friends, having wild nights on the town or — for singers like Chesney who lean into the tropical, Jimmy Buffett vibe — sitting on the beach with a drink in hand.

“Alcohol no longer serves as a sign of the distance between country music listeners and the middle class culture,” country music historian Diane Pecknold said, “but as a sign of the similarity.”

~

The holy grail in country music can be summed up in one word: authenticity. And if there’s one star who sums up authentic country music, it’s Hank Williams, the legendary singer who inspired generations of artists by writing hits such as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Saw the Light” and the classic drinking song “There’s a Tear in My Beer.”

In 1953, Williams died of a heart attack at age 29 after years of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, and his influence lived on in more ways than just as an artist. Bobby Bare, who launched his country career in the 1960s with “Detroit City” and released a song this year called “I Drink,” about the effects of alcoholism, remembers that trying to trace Williams’s path was a popular tactic in Nashville.

“Everybody I know wanted to be like Hank Williams. And everyone I know bought into the drinking,” Bare said. “You figure if Hank did it, it must be okay.”

The late Waylon Jennings, who long struggled with drug addiction, called it the “Hank Williams syndrome.”

Country and western singer and guitarist Hank Williams. He died of a heart attack in1953 at age 29 after years of alcohol and prescription drug abuse. (Associated Press) Country music legend Waylon Jennings performing in Nashville in 1984. Jennings died in 2002, after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. He was 64. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

“I studied him. . . . He was out of control, and that was the part I picked up, the bad part,” Jennings told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. “I think a lot of people did that, because it looked really romantic to be crazy and wild and die young.”

This thinking led to tragedy, such as Nashville crooner Keith Whitley dying at age 33 of alcohol poisoning.

“I thought everybody had to drink to be in this business,” Whitley said in an interview not long before his death in 1989. “Lefty [Frizzell] drank, Hank drank, George Jones was still drinking, and I had to. That’s just the way it was. You couldn’t put that soul in your singing if you weren’t about three sheets in the wind.”

Before Williams’s time, country music had been associated with alcohol as far back as the early 1900s, when many acts hailed from Appalachia, known as moonshine territory. The connection grew and faded over the years, from the 1950s honky-tonk bar craze to the alcohol-heavy outlaw era, followed by the 1980s, when people became increasingly aware of the dangers of alcohol. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reportedly protested Gene Watson’s “Drinkin’ My Way Back Home” in 1983, and it stalled on the charts. Keith said his record label didn’t want to release “You Ain’t Much Fun” in 1995, about a guy who sobers up and suddenly can’t stand his wife.

Here is a sampling of more than 100 country songs released since 2010 that have alcohol-themed titles.

Beer
“Count the Beers,” Darius Rucker
“Beer Can,” Luke Combs
Whiskey
“Hemingway’s Whiskey,” Kenny Chesney
“Wine After Whiskey,” Carrie Underwood
Drunk
“Drunk On a Plane,” Dierks Bentley
“(This Ain't No) Drunk Dial,” A Thousand Horses
Drinks
“Drink in My Hand” Eric Church
“Haven’t Had a Drink All Day” Toby Keith

As country went mainstream in the 1990s and 2000s, the topic became more popular, and varied: Although hits including Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up,” Tracy Byrd’s “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo” and Keith’s ubiquitous “Red Solo Cup” celebrated getting drunk, some warned about the downside, such as Billy Currington’s “Walk a Little Straighter” and Chesney’s hit “The Good Stuff.”

Then, the past six years or so brought the rise of “bro country,” and suddenly, it seemed every hit on the radio was a dude singing about drinking beer in his truck with a pretty girl by his side. From Luke Bryan’s “Drunk on You” and Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” to Cole Swindell's “Chillin’ It” and Shelton’s “Boys Round Here,” the songs appealed to the new surge of younger listeners.

“I think that today, the consumer likes to be in the car, turn on the radio and hear something that’s upbeat that they can sing along with and feel good,” said Troy Tomlinson, president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing in Nashville. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be a serious ballad with pain. But for the younger country music consumer, alcohol in a celebratory manner is very relatable.”

No matter the decade, country singers search for that elusive “authenticity,” which experts say remains somewhat linked to Williams — and alcohol.

“Today, country singers will still throw out references to Hank,” said Travis Stimeling, an associate professor of musicology at West Virginia University. “If you want to establish you’re a real country musician . . . you go back to same imagery and same symbolism.”

‘Part of a family’
~

At Chesney’s Texas concert, Nichole Anderson of Arlington stood near a pickup truck, where a group of friends had beers in hand and explained why tailgating at a Chesney concert is almost as important as the show itself.

“He just makes you want to be part of a family, and this is what this family is,” Anderson said. “The parking lot pre-party, hanging out.”

The most boisterous tailgate was in Lot 12, and known as Lot 12 Nation; Chesney’s fandom is called No Shoes Nation, a play on one of his biggest hits, “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems.” (“The sun and the sand, and a drink in my hand with no bottom / And no shoes, no shirt and no problems.”) Chesney songs and pop hits blasted on speakers as people played flip cup and cornhole, snacked on barbecue and kicked back in lawn chairs. A human-size flip-flop and an enormous inflatable bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum were popular spots for selfies.

Natalie Bechard of Starkville, Miss., is a founder of Lot 12 Nation. About 2006, a small group met on a Chesney cruise to the Bahamas and decided to start tailgating together at his Dallas shows. Now, hundreds show up. At one point, the tailgate’s DJ announced that Bechard’s car got towed while she was helping set up — so he started a collection for her next to the funds they already raised for Chesney’s charity.

It was a far cry from what some might imagine happens at country tailgates; Chesney concerts have made headlines in other cities, such as Pittsburgh and Foxborough, Mass., for getting rowdy.

In Texas, though people had stories from previous years of some fans getting a bit out of control, the tailgating scene was fairly low key.

“You’re always going to have a few that stick out,” Bechard said. “But so far, everybody’s been really great. It’s just having fun, enjoying the great weather. We’ve become one big family celebrating Kenny and his music and the spirit of his music.”

‘Start our own brand’
~

No country star sells escapism quite like Chesney, who has two hit songs on country radio this summer: “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” a duet with David Lee Murphy that encourages people to stop stressing out, and “Get Along,” which encourages everyone in this crazy world to just, well, get along.

So it made sense when Chesney (who declined to comment for this article) decided to start selling rum, a drink that goes well with relaxation. The singer owns a home in St. John and told Forbes that he wanted his flavored versions “to try to capture my life in the islands.” Now, his rum company sponsors his concert tours.

In 2016, Forbes reported Chesney’s annual sales had almost tripled over three years, in a time when overall rum sales had dropped; according to Nielsen data, country fans outspend average music listeners by 12 percent when it comes to rum.

Someone at Chesney’s level can earn millions through alcohol brands and sponsorships, which is why other country stars have had the same idea. Lambert, Little Big Town, Sara Evans, Zac Brown Band and Craig Morgan all have sold wine; Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn has his own vineyard outside of Nashville. There’s also whiskey from Jake Owen and Darius Rucker, along with tequila from George Strait.

Florida Georgia Line, the duo of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, burst onto the scene in 2012 with their smash “Cruise” and proved to Nashville there was an appetite for party songs. They were vocal about their love for Fireball whiskey and even mentioned it in their hit “Round Here.”

“We reached out [to Fireball] and asked how it benefited them, and they said it was pretty drastic,” Hubbard said. “That made us feel good. But also, it made us think, why don’t we start our own brand?”

So they collaborated on Old Camp peach pecan whiskey, which combines the flavors of their home states mentioned in their band name. As the brand has taken off, they’ve named-dropped it in songs. In “Smooth,” they sing about “young love buzzing off an Old Camp bottle by the moon.” Morgan Wallen collaborated with the duo on “Up Down,” which has the line, “Somebody pass that fifth of Camp this way.”

Last year, they furthered their image as young guys who love to have a good time with the opening of FGL House in downtown Nashville, a restaurant and bar that has lines down the block on Saturday nights.

Taylor Dahlia, with January Noise, performing on the top floor of FGL House in downtown Nashville on June 16. FGL House was named after the country music duo Florida Georgia Line. (William DeShazer/For The Washington Post) Country music fans enjoy a warm summer evening on the rooftop of FGL House in downtown Nashville. (William DeShazer/For The Washington Post) A large mural covers the stairwell inside FGL House. (William DeShazer/For The Washington Post)

In Nashville, Budweiser has signs that say it’s “the official beer of beer drinking songs.” And while women have had difficulty getting alcohol sponsorships (“I love alcohol! You would think a beer company would sponsor me,” Lambert told W Magazine in 2012), Maren Morris recently partnered with Corona Light.

Companies will even endorse groups who sing tunes that aren’t so happy. Smithfield, the duo of Trey Smith and Jennifer Fiedler, broke out with the ballad “Hey Whiskey,” about a woman who dreads when her ex drinks, because then he calls her. The duo has an endorsement deal with Rebecca Creek Distillery.

“It’s kind of weird, because if you listen to the song, we always wonder, ‘Why do we have a whiskey endorsement?’ ” Fiedler joked. “Because it’s like, the whole song is about how whiskey ruins the girl’s relationship — but hey, we’re handing out whiskey.”

‘It’s a drinking environment’
~

Nashville, which some winkingly call “a drinking town with a music problem,” has a well-established culture of alcohol: Writers say that grabbing a few beers is common after — or during — a songwriting session. This can make it difficult for the people in the industry who don’t drink.

Some high-profile singer-songwriters are sober, though they don’t advertise it. Others, such as Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, have spoken out about not drinking. Brantley Gilbert, who went to rehab in 2011, said that he relied on the guidance of Urban, who had gone through rehab five years earlier.

“I told him, I don’t think I can do my job. I don’t know if I can ever play a song at my shows without being [messed] up,” Gilbert told the Tennessean last year. “Or writing, I was worried my songs wouldn’t be the same, that I wouldn’t be on everyone else’s level. It’s a drinking environment.”

Gilbert still knows the appeal of drinking songs and sings about partying on tracks such as “The Weekend” and “Bottoms Up.” He’s not the only one: Chris Janson, not a frequent drinker, had a big hit with “Fix a Drink” and released a single called “Power of Positive Drinkin’.” AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, who is sober, recently decided to embark on a country music career and assumed the best way in was a debut single called “Back Porch Bottle Service.”

Ray Scott, known for “Sometimes the Bottle Hits You Back” and “Drinkin’ Beer,” has been sober for more than a year. Initially, he was concerned fans would be disappointed to learn he didn’t drink.

“Some fans can kind of build you up to be this thing that they think you are, and a couple of these songs sort of painted a picture of who I was,” Scott said. “I’ve been pleased that people take it for what it is. It’s just fun music; I don’t have to live the part.”

Behind the scenes, despite the casual drinking, country music isn’t necessarily the crazy party some might think.

Jason Fitz, a former fiddle player for the Band Perry, is now an ESPN radio host. The Band Perry opened for Paisley on tour in 2012, which is how he came to know that the cups from the onstage bar actually contained Vitamin Water. (Although Paisley is also known for not drinking, his publicist said the onstage bar now serves beer and has in the past, yet added that it’s possible previous tours had water because he featured opening acts younger than 21.)

“I get asked so often, ‘Tell me your craziest backstage story!’ People think I’m joking when I say, ‘There really aren’t that many,’ ” Fitz said. “You get into the grind on the road — we were on the road for about 300 days. I don’t care who you are, you can’t party and survive that many days.”

Even artists with a party-heavy playlist echo this attitude. “We like to have a good time but maybe drink a little bit less than we used to,” said Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line. “As our manager says, if you’re gonna party like a man at night, you’ve gotta work like a man in the morning.”

Chesney is also a prime example. As his lyrics celebrate having a drink, from the “little umbrella-shaped margaritas” in “How Forever Feels” to a “cold drink chilling in my right hand” in “When the Sun Goes Down,” he’s also in killer shape. He didn’t lose a second of intense energy in his nearly two-hour set.

“I probably don’t drink as much as perceived. I’m too healthy,” Chesney told Parade magazine in 2010. “But a lot of my songs were written with the idea of having a good time.”

There’s no doubt the audience appreciates this. And as Nashville continues to see dollar signs (a CMA study this spring found “country music consumers are spending more on alcohol” these days), artists will keep singing about it.

The mutual benefit is a marked difference from decades ago, when there was a negative connotation of even listening to drinking songs in country bars. Now, those establishments embrace the image. And even a Sirius XM satellite radio station proudly plays “music of country-themed bars and honky-tonks across America.” It’s called Red, White & Booze.





Friday, June 29, 2018

Rushing Waters

The hysteria over Amazon establishing a second headquarters sent many cities into a bond issuing frenzy to meet the criteria that Amazon set up for cities as a type of prospectus of qualities they would need in order to bring great riches and promises that Seattle has experienced first hand, such as bro-culture, bizarre buildings for employees only, excessive housing costs, transportation issues and a descent upon a city by other businesses to poach employees due to the churn and burn of staff.  Yes it is glorious.  No the public schools nor the colleges did anything different to their curriculum or philosophy of education as this was a city in the shadow of Bill Gates and Paul Allen whose names adore many buildings on the University of Washington Campus and the private school where both attended received more than ample checks to fund its existing work so no that did not change.  The one STEM school, Cleveland, did that years ago to save the school from collapsing and Amazon as a the good neighbor it is to the community has done little but finally open a property for the homeless. Charity always begins at home and this is a company that has done little for its home city but ensure that the head tax levied against it and other companies similar in size died a quick death.

But that has not stopped most cities from begging for the great Bezos of the sky to bestow upon them the promised wealth and riches that they say will happen when many exchanges and gifts are made upon him to allow him to render a decision that will make the cities happy places and the politicians secure in their jobs for decades to come.   HUZZAH!


Amazon second headquarters contest jumpstarts languishing transit, education projects
Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY Published  June 29, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – By definition, 19 cities on Amazon’s list of potential homes for its second headquarters won’t make the cut.

But even if they don’t win the golden ticket — up to 50,000 tech jobs and a $5 billion investment — Amazon may have left its stamp. In many of the sites, the bid has given a push to housing, transit and education projects that had languished, sometimes for years.

Cities that might not have listened to “fancy urban planner talk will listen when it’s Amazon,” said Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council. The group helped craft Sacramento’s bid after Amazon in September announced it would pick one metropolitan area to build its second headquarters, setting off a North American feeding frenzy for the high-tech jobs and bragging rights that would come with the placement.

But even though California's sixth-largest city failed in January to make the second round of headquarters potentials, the prospect jump-started transit and education efforts in the area. It plans to launch a digital initiative to train young adults, said Broome.
The Sacramento skyline with the G1 indoor arena in

The Sacramento skyline with the G1 indoor arena in the foreground. (Photo: Greater Sacramento Economic Council)

It's common for states and cities to make promises about infrastructure upgrades and to move projects forward to entice companies to relocate, but "I’m not sure we’ve ever seen it on the same scale as the Amazon HQ2 search," said Sean Slone, director of transportation and infrastructure policy at the Council of State Governments.

In Georgia, where Atlanta is still in the running, Governor Nathan Deal told local reporters he’s updated Amazon on progress on a $100 million bus rapid transit system being built along a highly congested corridor that runs through Atlanta.

Known for horrible traffic and an under-developed transit system, it was only in May that the state created a unified regional transit system, to be called the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.

Further north, the three regions near the nation's capitol vying for the bid have finally pushed through a long-stalled transit initiative. D.C., Maryland and Virginia — all still in the running for the headquarters city — have each agreed to provide a share of the $500 million a year for the region's well-used but aging Metro system, the first dedicated funding since it went into operation in 1976.

It wasn’t until March that Maryland governor Larry Hogan, previously a holdout, agreed to support the funding push in his state.

The cities' initiatives were all in the works long before Amazon first announced the bidding process and all deal with long-standing problems. But in the effort to pass needed projects, their supporters are using the lure of Amazon to bring naysayers to their side.

“Cities will use all kinds of strategic and initiatives to increase the importance and urgency of projects. When you can create a sense of urgency or some kind of imperative you can heighten the importance of projects that public usually rejects,” said William Riggs, a planning strategist and professor at the University of San Francisco.

Amazon's influence over a city, which played out in a raucous and unusual fight with Seattle's city council over a proposed "corporate head tax" to support affordable housing, could be seen in these initiatives. Good transit and transportation, ample housing and access to a highly trained workforce were all prerequisites to a winning city, Amazon said in its request for proposals.

And that sway has pushed some cities to prioritize particular efforts, particularly in transit and education,.

These efforts raise questions about whether the features Amazon wants will be of interest to other companies that cities might be looking to entice.

"There are plenty examples where cities build custom infrastructure or make counterintuitive investments to woo companies or events — one of the best examples being attempts at hosting the Summer Olympics where un-needed infrastructure investment has led to massive cost overruns," said Riggs.

That said, Sacramento's Broome is convinced that pushing job training opportunities to include tech skills is helpful because of the ways the digital revolution is disrupting everything from retail to distribution to farming.

"There is very little separation in skills going forward from a basic competency perspective. .... The skills gap is what we are looking to fill in order to become more inclusive and equitable," he said.

In Kansas City, Missouri, which didn't make the Amazon cut, the state is changing rules covering computer science courses, helping increase the home-grown talent in the area, as well as providing funding to train computer science teachers.

“You can draw a loose line between Amazon and the legislation that just passed,” said Ryan Weber, president of the KC Tech Council, a regional advocacy group.

“I think it was made a priority because of the Amazon response,” he said. But effort will pay off no matter what types of businesses the area lands, he said. The governor is expected to sign the bill this week to allow Kansas students to get math and science credit for taking computer science, instead of treating it as an elective as schools now do.

The governor is expected to sign the bill this week which will allow Kansas students to get math and science credit for taking computer science, instead of treating it as an elective as schools now do.

"Strong tech skills are commonly seen as the key to becoming employable. In Kansas City, only 31% of the region’s tech workforce are technical workers at tech companies and a significant amount are spread out amongst non-tech employers like hospitals, law firms and banks," Weber said.

In education, the Greater Washington Partnership in the D.C. area is creating a plan for a college credential that will be available to tech graduates at 13 universities in the region highlighting their competency in data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity.

In Sacramento, the council pushed to shift local job training programs towards tech and away from semi-skilled programs such as health care and construction.

The prospect of winning the Amazon investment wasn't a rocket booster for all costly transit and education projects.

Some of the shortlisted cities may have had their chances for Amazon hurt by recent political developments that have stalled out transit initiatives, said Slone.

For example, in May voters in the city of Nashville in Tennessee resoundingly defeated a $9 billion plan that would have built a regional transit network anchored by light rail.

An effort to overturn Indiana’s ban on light rail failed in the state’s senate in March. City and business leaders had argued that they needed all mass transit options on the table to attract Amazon.

"This isn’t about Amazon, but it is about opportunities like Amazon, certainly, where we would be able to compete for a lot of great paying jobs and reinvesting in our community," Mark Fisher with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce told the Indianapolis Star Tribune.

Well what is neglected to mention are the laws and other issues that dominate the skyline that flows above the great river and that is the Gay hating, Anti marijuana and women not choosing ones that enable the great Evangelicals in the sky (the few collective idiots that try to convince you they are the majority) happy as despite smallness in size they are the loudest in the voices so it works the same.  Plus they come bearing the worship plates cash.  They are less about God and more about Politics and remember all politics are local and irony that is was the Black Churches that started the idea of from the pews to the polls.  Those whom you hate are those whom you envy and then promptly copy.  And that goes without saying in both life and business.

Amazon is the new Standard Oil, Carnegie Steel, Ford, Rockafeller, Getty and others who in 25 years will have an FX series named after it about the founder called -  Bezonia - which will expose the truth about the founder and his sad losses and rages that led to his isolation and loneliness.   Or what.ever.  I can't see one on Bill Gates it would be as boring as shit.  We need Oligarchs like the old timey ones, despondent, decadent, dangerous and duplicitous and that is just the D words.

Tennessee made a half seated effort to give a shit about Amazon and I have not heard word one since the original announcement and likely no one here cares unless they continue to believe that 100 people a day are moving here, that Diane Black would be Governor and the illiteracy rate would be less than 25%.  The actual number is 13% but add functional illiteracy, the ability to comprehend, compose and structure a well thought out essay, letter or critical analysis is way higher.  At the Harpeth River where one goes to boat or swim there is a sign that says "IF YOU ARE STUPID AND CANNOT READ THIS DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER." 

This is Tennessee and stupid is as stupid does and it does plenty here.  If Amazon was that misguided and insane to locate a headquarter here they are stupid as well.  The schools here would have to do a massive sea change to meet the needs and they are targeting wisely the health care trade which is well established here.   But again this is a low wage, right to work state with few if any labor protections and in turn no desire to change the status quo and now the Supreme Court has enabled that to become the law of the land.  As a result expect more OSHA failures, a decline in labor organization among the lowest paid workers as those in the food services industry but let us not forget those that desperately need it - such as Teaching, Technology and other trades that skirt the white collar but are clearly blue.  Welcome to third world America, I live in it and it is not pretty in the least.  All we need here in Nashville is another big rain and the rivers will overflow and being smart won't save us in this case.    Amazon is just another big river in which to drown us and they know more about us than anyone realizes. 

  




Thursday, June 28, 2018

Home Grown

I knew of a couple of Dollar Generals in Seattle, they were located on Aurora Avenue a mixed bag of hookers and some Auto repairs, a Cemetery,  Chinese takeouts and an Albertson's Grocery.  At one point Aurora did not turn skeevy until it passed the Sears and even then there was a high end mall at the end to serve the North part of Seattle residents that lived in the well to do areas of The Highlands and Richmond Beach.   It was not that bad but in recent days it is horrific so no shock there were Dollar Generals.  These are the one stop shopping stores for the poor, those who live nearby and cannot afford to go to bigger areas to shop with the idea that they are cost saving.  Right.  I have lived in transitory neighborhoods but had a car or ways to get to decent grocery stores and other businesses to meet my needs.  I have never had a problem with transit or access until I move to Nashville, the city that time is attempting to compensate and in turn pretend it is a bigger city than it is.

There used to be a Dollar General in downtown but that closed and it has one Walgreen's which closes at 6 pm so good luck if you need an aspirin from drinking too much at the honky tonks.  The closest stores are up on the West End were Dollar General has opened its new urban style store DGX.  Never been in it never going to go in it. I have been to the closest Dollar General on 8th Ave and I am shocked it is still there given the gentrification on the street but it is still there.  There are Walgreen's and a Rite Aid down the road but if you live nearby you can grab a coffee at 8th Ave Roast and get an aspirin.

Tennessee is the corporate home of Dollar General along with such other fine industries as Hardee's, Core Civic, Auto Zone as well as Bridgestone/Firestone, FedEx and even Regal Entertainment. So you can get a ton of cheap food as guess where Cracker Barrel is located? Yep. The largest employers are of course in Nashville the Med and Ed field but the state itself has a diverse list of businesses, largely food related located here.   And is it surprising that Dollar General is here? No.  This is the South, people are paid like shit, the division among class and race is intense and regardless people are really really cheap here. So Dollar General learned early on desperate people are desperate so charging more for the same is not a problem in the least in exchange for convenience. And in the last few years these Dollar stores have been slowly consolidating and now Dollar General owns Family Dollar and Dollar Express, that is a lot of dollars. And with reduced competition it means less choice for consumers but stock holders are always winners. 

Food deserts are common in poorer largely minority populated areas. When I lived in West Oakland it was gentrifying but the closest store was a Pac n Save and that actually was an offshoot of Safeway with oddly higher prices.  When I first moved to Columbia City in Seattle it had not yet gentrified and the Safeway there was slow to remodel so I rarely shopped there as they had no organics or brands I used, then viola white people move it and upscale it went and Safeway is no Trader Joe's, the white persons Pac n' Save although Aldi has taken that challenge and raised the bar.

Dollar General is not saving money, just time and again this falls under availability and access. True you can get organic food now at Walmart but you have to get to Walmart and without reliable transportation you are straight out of fresh fruit.



Dollar stores are thriving – but are they ripping off poor people?

Plenty of items actually work out pricier than buying from supermarkets – but many don’t have that luxury

Joe Eskenazi in San Francisco
Guardian UK 
Thu 28 Jun 2018

While online retailers have transformed the landscape of American commerce, the largest three dollar-store chains are prospering offline, opening more than 1,800 stores last year.

The cost of a trip can be so negligible – the average customer drops $29 a month – and dollar stores have grown so ubiquitous, that it’s hard to countenance what economists confirm: visitors to dollar stores are often paying more than well-off consumers who shop elsewhere.

“If you’re budget-constrained, then you make choices that are not optimal,” said Professor John Strong, a dollar-store expert at the College of William & Mary.

The bags of flour at a Dollar Store just south of San Francisco cost only $1, but they also only weigh two pounds. Most bags in the supermarket are five pounds, and can be scored for less than $2.50 at cavernous retailers like Walmart or Costco – though these require time and, often, a car to access.

Dollar store raisins are only 4.5 ounces. At a big box store, however, 72 ounces of raisins cost $10.50 – meaning dollar store customers are paying 52% more.

Cartons of milk at a dollar store are only 16 ounces – which prorates to $8 per gallon, more than what you would pay for even top-of-the line milk at Whole Foods.

Deep-discount retailers have flourished in recent decades, popping up like mushrooms in the depressed locales big-box stores economically eviscerated in the decades before.

The Family Dollar chain opened up some 1,500 new stores between 2010 and 2013 alone – well more than one a day. Dollar Tree picked up Family Dollar several years ago, and its most recent annual report notes it has 14,334 locations across the United States and Canada. It is now a $20.7bn-a-year behemoth.

“We saw an opportunity,” Dollar Tree’s co-founder Macon Brock wrote in his 2017 book One Buck at a Time. “When a customer walked into our store, she could shut off her brain. She didn’t have to think, didn’t have to calculate how much she was spending. All she had to do was count – ‘One, two, three, four, five, six. I have six items and I have six dollars. I can buy this.’”

Some items are indeed more economical at dollar stores: toys, greeting cards, hangers.

And their allure is clear at the store near San Francisco, where Bruce Barringer is 57, retired, living on a pension and in an aisle stocked with medical products.

He doesn’t want to go into too many details, but it’s clear Barringer’s life has taken a turn of late. He recently relocated from Sacramento to the Bay Area and says he is going through a “transition”. He has “downsized”. He doesn’t need a lot of things. “But I’m on a fixed income,” he says, “so I really do need to shop at Dollar Tree.”

Seen one way, dollar stores, like a layaway plan or payday loan, are yet another manifestation of people of limited means getting around an unaffordable cost-of-entry by paying more to get less.

Strong, however, points out that dollar stores are often well-received in the neighborhoods they move into, which were economically strangled by the big-box stores on the city’s periphery. Yes, someone with the cash on hand to buy in bulk would do better to do so, but Strong adds that dollar stores are still cheaper for locals than the liquor shops and convenience stores they compete with. They are the least bad option. And, with vegetables, milk, eggs and meat, they’re often what passes for an oasis in the food desert.

“We have so many people who are pretty close to the line in trying to get by,” says the economist. “Until incomes are raised for the bottom third of the population, dollar stores will be part of the landscape.

The Short Con

If you have not heard of the long con you need to see a few movie about Grifters and how they work. The short con is the sleight of hand and a fast burn where the con man sells you the snake oil and leaves with cash in hand and you a useless medicine promising to make you harder/smarter/better.

When I heard of this bullshit I have never laughed so hard in my life.  You know the signs "Will BUY YOUR HOUSE 4 CASH" are targeted largely to minority home owners or cash poor owners who are living in gentrifying areas in which to do what HGTV does best - flip houses.  The biggest load of bullshit I have ever watched as even the New York Times did a story on this subject to explain how complex it is and how it is not as quick and lucrative as you are led to believe.  Just as the Gaines about that lead paint penalty.

But here in Nashville we have another player to the game and this is the fake real estate agent.  Odd that of all the markets that they elected to try a run is here.  Here with a low education and literacy rate, high rates of poverty and an increasing cost of living that is disproportionate with regards to wages.

I loathe Million Dollar Listing as they too turned New York into a housing market that is also oddly disproportionate to the city and its needs so why did this new VC not choose New York, San Francisco or Seattle, all cities undergoing the same issues?  Oh that is because the populace is more sophisticated and educated. 

The reality is that Real Estate Agents are like Lawyers and Doctors only less educated and in turn bigger cons as they do nothing of import.    If you needed one to consult with and advise about comps, price per square foot and the market then fantastic, hire one, pay a flat fee and be done with it and it turn list it on the MLS.  Oh wait you can't.  And that was the point of Zillow/Trulia,  among others to enable owners to sell properties without an agent and I doubt many do as most people don't know real estate law, contracts and negotiations which is hence the gap they fill.  Mind the gap!

Ever watched Property Brothers?  The one with the talent is the construction brother the other is a waste of space and you know in real estate you never waste space.

But this con is a whole new con.  It's Property Brothers sans twins.



This company will pay you to list your Nashville home — and then buy it if the offers don't come

Jamie McGee, Nashville Tennessean June 26, 2018


A tech real estate company, Felix Homes, is launching in Nashville this month with a new proposition for home sellers: They pay to list the home and if the home fails to sell in 90 days, they buy it at an agreed-upon, discounted price.

The model alleviates stress for a seller who wants to sell in a short period of time and alters the traditional real estate agent commission fee structure, which Felix Homes co-founder and CEO Tyler Forte said fails to motivate agents to seek the highest price.

The Tennessean's yearlong look at Costs of Growth and Change in Nashville series culminates on December 20 with a mini-documentary viewing, photography show and continued discussion led by David Plazas about where Nashville goes next.

“Homeowners already have so much on their plate which is why we want to help simplify the process," Forte said. "Felix gives them the certainty of a guaranteed sale, an upfront cash payment to help with everyday expenses and an incentive structure that gets them the highest price.”

Nashville real estate: Sellers score big profits in booming market, new data shows

Rising prices: Nashville ranked third in US for home price appreciation in 2017

In a typical sale, home sellers list their home with a broker for six months and pay a 6 percent commission when the home sells, according to Felix. Sellers have no guarantee on how long it will take to sell the home and what the price will be, but they are often locked into a six-month contract with a broker.

Felix, based in New York, pays a homeowner 1 to 2 percent of market value to list the home on the Felix platform. For a $400,000 home, the seller would receive between $4,000 and $8,000 for letting Felix list the home. They can spend the money however they like, but Felix typically recommends they repaint or update the carpets.

The model is meant to help those who have accumulated plenty of equity in their home, but they still lack the cash to invest in renovations that will boost their sales point, Forte said.

"The folks we are targeting, they are equity rich but cash light," he said.

If Felix does not find a buyer in 90 days, the company offers to purchase the home at a discounted rate, close to 5 percent below list price, that both parties initially agreed to. The market value is determined by a professional who visits the home ahead of the agreement.

The homeowner does not have to sell to Felix, but if they do agree to the sale, Felix will pay in cash. The company will typically make $5,000 to $15,000 in upgrades, then relist the home, selling to a real estate investor.

"The home seller has the money in their account," Forte said. "They don't have to worry about, is this person going to get a mortgage or get approved for a mortgage."

More real estate: Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari list their Nashville home for $7.9 million

More: McDaniel Farms fills niche between custom, spec homes in College Grove

Forte, a former venture capitalist, said the company was born out of his own frustrations with the real estate agent model.

When he was selling his home almost two years ago, he chose an agent who estimated the highest sales price for his home. But when the agent ended up dropping the price, Forte lost $30,000, while the agent missed out on about $800 to $1,000. His takeaway was that if a price reduction only modestly affects an agent, they may be less motivated to sell at a higher price point.

Felix recoups the difference between the price it agrees to with the seller and the sales price, so the company generates an income only when it sells above market value. If a home sells for $290,000 and Felix and the seller agreed to a $280,000 sales price, Felix keeps $10,000.

"We only make money if we are able to really perform and sell that home above market value," Forte said.

The company has capped its earnings at 6 percent to avoid perceptions of taking advantage of clients. Anything above that, which could result in a bidding war, for example, goes to the seller, Forte said.
Nashville launch

Nashville will be Felix's first market. The city was selected out of 30 other possibilities because of its thriving real estate sector and high mobility rates, Forte said.

The average time a Nashville-area home stays on the market is close to 35 days, another selling point for Nashville, he said.

"It is a fairly young crowd, with people who are living in Nashville for four to five years and moving somewhere else, so there is fairly high turnover," he said. "It is also expanding like crazy."




Walk Bike Die

Last night I discovered the new plans (well the most recent as that changes like the wind) for the MLS Stadium down the road from my home.   They now want to add a hotel, an apartment unit and retail in addition to the stadium.   There are two major roads leading to said future stadium, now a dilapidated fairgrounds, and both are crossed by train tracks which are used and used often.  CSX owns the tracks and in turn block the intersections often for hours at a time, oddly most often during prime peak hours use in the a.m. and p.m.  There is one bus to service the area and the other bus that does go by is available week days only and only during certain times.  The area is largely residential and gentrifying and of course has no sidewalks nor crosswalks to enable pedestrian traffic that currently the two other stadiums in Nashville do at least have.

Right now the transit situation is in limbo. Irony that the transit bill failed and now the MTA has decided to go ahead to remodel the downtown singular transit station, replace buses and in turn alter lines and reduce service while the upgrades are taking place.  The times to do such is during 2-6 pm, prime commute time as most Government employees begin leaving work at 3:15 to 3:45 and the peak commute time starts at 4 pm.  Perfect time to reduce express bus services and options to travel in the city, make connections that are already challenging and all while having a massive heat outbreak with temps over 100 degrees during the same time frame.  Good planning! And it is why I rent cars with this as it is not safe to wait for buses let alone walk in this heat.  But I live close to the center of town which enables me to get to where I need to be fairly easily but that is not the case for most who work in the core of the city.   This is just one of many problems facing Nashville. 

Add to this the rising cost of housing that has not kept up with wages, but again the Chamber has said the low available jobs, the supposed 100 people a day moving here (a number pulled out of an ass) has enabled them to say wages can remain low as competition for said jobs are high. Add to this that the MEME's (as I call Millennial morons) change jobs at an average of 24 months which high turnover enables employers to keep wages stagnant as they do not need to negotiate nor provide wage increases for performance over time.  They know it all the MEME's!

Yesterday I went into another new hotel to go to the Stumptown coffee place they have inside.  A nice 20 y/o girl has moved here from Chicago and picked the most remote area serviced by transit, Hermitage, in where to live.  She has no car and in turn is used to the robust L that services the city and of course the walkablity that enables those to access buses and other means of transit.  Given the refurbishment of the transit station (clerks are in a refurbished container, I kid not) it has made it impossible for her to figure out her transit options.  She was at work, a man with a baby who was screaming was inside and I suspect remaining to listen to the conversation, made it difficult for me to explain that yes she has a train option that does again only run during the week during limited hours and in turn takes no time and is literally just at Riverfront Station a matter of a 5 minute walk from where we were.  She had no idea about this service or her options as well transit is a hot mess here but if you are willing to sit down and figure out options it is possible.  It is why I am particular about where I work and in turn getting there in the morning may be a combo Bus and Uber but walking, varying bus routes are truly what I am looking for as I don't have the haste that needs a singular route. 

I have written about the failure by Nashville to have genuine urban planning and once again the City t hired someone who has been here for two years and yet this is a gig that has been on the carousel from hell, three planners in three years.   Again that is a statement that there is a problem here.  Who does this woman report to? And again what is her role?  Hell if I know even the Council wondered about this.  Well get in line.  A city well running into the red, the public schools awaiting an audit with contracts in question and signed without board approval. Nothing new as the City Hospital is facing scandal after scandals for the same.  So the Mayor too is cleaning house and yesterday the  City financial officer who saw both the boon and the bust has "elected" to leave his vaunted place in the Mayoral office after a decade of serving his master-s.  The Mayor is only one of the many players on this board game.  Nashville Scene noted that this man who is not elected wields immense power and in turn offers little to no transparency when it comes to decision making.  That is the private sector in public office, note the current office holder and his ranting, raving and rambling.  Hard to go from  a closed door where the crazy is behind it versus stepping out in front of it into the light.   Heard of McKinsey?  Well that is another like Goldman Sachs that revolves through said doors in Governments across the globe.  Beware of Consultants as they are like Attorney's as it is about billable hours not about solutions and resolutions to a problem.   Our School district is awash with them and that may explain the budget shortfall. 

The reality is that while Nashville brags and postures itself in some delusional grandeur of a city of import the City is a walking dump.  And you cannot walk here it is not safe.  The drivers go like bats out of hell and the reality is that they are simply unaccustomed to pedestrians and cyclists.  The man who hit a cyclist on a rural road (all caught on camera) is back in the news for being a drunk  and he is not alone in the endless stories about similar accidents.  

This is another list that the area made along with 35th best place to race a child.  Wow we were that high up the list?  Clearly that is wrong.  The reality is Nashville is a 20th Century city being shoved into the 21st Century with no one knowing what the fuck they are doing.  It shows. 








Pedestrian fatalities up in Tennessee's largest cities
Mike Reicher, Nashville Tennessean June 28, 2018

More people have been killed walking the streets of Tennessee's largest cities in recent years, reflecting the national uptick in pedestrian fatalities.

Memphis, which nearly doubled its number of deaths over six years, ranks among the top 25 large cities for its fatality rate from 2012 to 2016, according to a USA TODAY Network analysis of federal safety data. Nashville, number 70 on the list (out of 173 cities with populations greater than 100,000), saw a dramatic spike last year, but 2018 is looking better. Knoxville ranked 47th.
An elderly female pedestrian was hit by a teenager driving an SUV who was attempting to turn left at a green light at Abbott Martin Road at Cross Creek Road in 2011.Buy Photo

“We just do not have a pedestrian culture here," said Stacy Dorris, a physician and pedestrian safety activist in Nashville. "It was not designed very well as a walking community.”

Death on foot: Distracted driving, cell phones seen as factors

Studies in Nashville and Memphis have pointed to problems such as crumbling concrete, missing sidewalks and long blocks without crosswalks.

About 80 percent of Nashville's pedestrian deaths in recent years happened along state roadways, including the city's major pikes, said Nora Kern, the executive director of the nonprofit group Walk Bike Nashville. Old Hickory Boulevard is another hot spot, she said. The deadliest stretches are typically wide thoroughfares with multiple lanes in each direction, and long blocks.

In 2017, for instance, three people died on Old Hickory Boulevard, during a particularly bad year in Nashville.

The city saw 23 pedestrian fatalities last year, according to Metro Nashville Police Department statistics. The previous seven years saw an average of either 13 or 16 deaths per year, depending which statistics you examine — local police or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures. Federal data excludes crashes on private property and it includes a more narrow definition of a pedestrian.

Advocates and government agencies, both at the state and local levels, are leading construction projects aimed at improving safety. In Nashville, the city allocated $30 million for sidewalks in each of the last two fiscal years, but progress has lagged as the city spent more time planning than building. The pikes are especially problematic, Kern said, because of their width and lack of walking infrastructure.

“To go back to add sidewalks is going to be very expensive,” she said.

Her group championed a relatively affordable project at Nolensville Pike and Welshwood Drive. For $50,000, Kern said, the Tennessee Department of Transportation installed a "pop-up crosswalk" with warning lights and signage. The state has identified other dangerous areas and will be using federal funds to work through the list of projects.  **BTW I know this and there are still major problems as it is across from Walmart and the bus transit stop.  It is at least better than nothing.

Memphis pedestrian fatalities

2010: 10

2011: 17

2012: 11

2013: 25

2014: 20

2015: 28

2016: 28

Nashville pedestrian fatalities

2010: 12

2011: 11

2012: 14

2013: 11

2014: 11

2015: 14

2016: 16

Knoxville pedestrian fatalities

2010: 10

2011: 17

2012: 11

2013: 25

2014: 20

2015: 28

2016: 28

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

All Politics Are Just That

The adage goes... all politics are local and is credited to the late former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, as a way of explaining how people see and vote in their communities.  Uh sure sometimes and not.  This today in the rise of social media and Citizens United with the influx of dark money anyone anywhere can engage in the political campaigns and issues regardless of where one lives.   This is an article from 2011 that demonstrates even then how often this turns out to be less than true.   Since that time we have had an admission by Facebook that there might have been a problem and the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytics which indicates that anyone anywhere can vest an interest in an election, be it local or national.  The Koch Brothers have perfected that as we here in Nashville learned about the Transit Bill that failed resoundingly after their engagement.

Many people simply don't engage at all which is another problem and here living in the State with the least voter turnout in the nation it shows that a minority can in turn rule a majority and do so easily and be influenced easily as the education levels parallel the same number who elect to vote.  One-third here have post-secondary degrees and one-third of the population votes.  I always find that interesting as it shows that if that is the same cohort it proves that the people in this State are conservative and idiotic which again I need to point no further than the Trump family to prove my point.

The primaries being held across the nation yesterday wielded a few surprises.  The primary win in New York of the 28 year old Democratic Socialist over a long term well liked Democratic Congressman was just one and the reality is that this came after the declaration that Bernie Sanders had not taken his popularity to other contests and candidates in the same way Trump has.  Well again not all of the Trumptards have been elected so really this is picking nits and wits which frankly has to stop.

How about allowing people to listen to candidates, make decisions on them via the way we used to - through candidate pamphlets and their own ability to compare and contrast their stance on positions.  Oh fuck that I will just go to Facebook and they will give me a heads up.   I send everyone to the public library to have them assist those who are not registered here as they can give them completely unbiased and basic information versus a rant or rave.  Kids need to learn civics that is the big problem we quit doing that years ago in pursuit of STEM or whatever floated the boat regarding education reform. Funny how that reform worked in Oklahoma, I guess winds are sweeping down the plain right now.

Here in Tennessee I have little choice and I am sure as hell not voting Republican. The choices here are surreal and the Nashville Scene does a great job explaining there agenda or whatever they are doing other than citing Jesus and Trump.  

I am ashamed to even have to listen to the varying idiotic ads that run here every minute. I hear Build Walls, No Sanctuary Cities, Praise Jesus I will build a wall and pray that I never hear from these idiots again.  Just to give you an idea that even in the most remote part of Tennessee this town has tried to stop ICE from taking the local Immigrants who are doing the jobs no one wants.  So again what did you say about sanctuary's or walls? 

For the record I am voting for Fitzhugh for Governor on the primary on the Democratic side and Phil Bresden for Senate.  He could not be worse than Corker and frankly why that aging dinosaur, Lamar Alexander, who clearly sees retirement as akin to death (and clearly is) has not retired shows that Jurassic Park applies to the Senate.  I know I don't want to die here and the 18 month clock started to tick after the last appointment at Vanderbilt on Thursday.  I cleared that hurdle and moving now to finishing the dental reconstruction next year.  No regrets on postponing it for six months as I need a break from them and clearly they from me.  I just once want a conversation where I feel they are actually listening to me, tracking me with their eyes and giving  a shit.  Imagine every encounter where you follow their eyes to a point over your head or directly behind you while smiling and grinning at you like an idiot.  Other times watching in glass or through my glasses that they are gesticulating and eye rolling behind you.  This is the care you receive at Vanderbilt and I am paying cash for all it.

It would never occur to me to film or document any of these exchanges as frankly what good or even what bad will come of it.  The recent verbal assaults of both private citizens and public persons serve a point that regardless of how idiotic you are you are not ever going to escape or forget how stupid you were at that moment.  The woman on the plane, the woman who called about the sleeping girl in her dorm, the idiot in the fast food place, the woman who complained on the street about water, the woman shouting racist expletives.  These are moments of idiocy and differ than the marchers in the streets of Charlottesville shouting "Jews will not replace us" or public figures who are having a private moment but are confronted by the public as that is the price you pay for being a public servant.  Sorry but shouting at you or asking you to leave how is that different that the Baker or the Florist who refused to serve the Gays? Or the public servant who refused to do her job to file marriage licenses?  Or one who lies daily and rebukes the Press for asking questions on behalf of the American public?  I don't say throw a drink on them but asking them questions, demanding answers and if they are asked to leave because their presence is causing a disruption as any customer who would then so be it.

Living here in the land that time forgot clearly again Tennessee seems to parallel Jurassic Park, I have never met a population more afraid of conflict and of others than they are here.  They do not vote, they do not read, they have little intellectual curiosity and are well divided by class and then by race with even more divisions falling into that category which causes further frustration and confusion when it comes to politics.  So that may well be why few vote and in turn enable the Legislators to enact gerrymandering and other laws that make voting a challenge for many. 

Today this data arrived:  Nashville housing prices rose at more than double the rate of wages this quarter compared to the same period last year, according to federally reported sales deeds and labor costs.  The local figures, compiled by California-based ATTOM Data Solutions, follow national trends.   But the gap is wider in the Nashville area. Home prices jumped 7 percent while wages inched up just 3 percent in the quarter ending June 30.


The strange hybrid development that thinks Nashville is moving towards being a smaller New York City ads to the culture here that as someone I know called a cross between "bougie" and "pretentious" and I call simply, delusional.   Few Americans actually travel within America let alone outside so the few that do go in either one of two mindsets:  Open to culture or closed off to it and complain throughout.  You all know those people and I prefer the former versus the latter and it is why I travel alone.  It is the best way to speak to the locals and explore a location that enables you learn about it on your own terms at your own pace and anyone who travels should do so with one who shares your values regarding everything from food to down time.

When I watch the local elections across the country and with Nashville's coming around the bend in August I doubt many will vote and in turn the insanity by the candidates will continue.  Have you ever asked a friend, neighbor, co-worker who their Representative is in Congress? In their local House? Their City Council rep or School Board Rep?  Do you know?

If you care about Politics you do and if you don't you don't.   I do but I do also take down time to explore Nashville, read magazines, books and watch TV.  My job is not demanding so I am fortunate but there is a point where you have to say enough and do things other than work.  Do you?  Again we are a nation that mirrors Nashville and there is a fear factor that dominates the workplace and with endless outing on social media the lack of privacy is something that makes it difficult to have a private and a public life and what we have seen of late that will not change. 

All politics all the time is not a good thing unless that is what you do and then even then it is all you do. It is not worth it.

The United States Constitution does not contain any explicit right to privacy.  However, The Bill of Rights, expresses the concerns of James Madison along with other framers of the Constitution for protecting certain aspects of privacy. 
For example, the first amendment allows the privacy of beliefs, the third amendment protects privacy of the home against any demands to be used to house soldiers, the fourth amendment protects the privacy of a person and possessions from unreasonable searches, and the 5th Amendment gives privacy of personal information through preventing self-incrimination. 
Furthermore, the 9th Amendment says that the enumeration of certain rights as found in the Bill of Rights cannot deny other rights of the people. While this is a vague statement, court precedent has said that the 9th amendment is a way to justify looking at the Bill of Rights as a way to protect the right to privacy in a specific way not given in the first 8 amendments. 
The issue of whether the Constitution actually protects the right to privacy in ways not described in the Bill of Rights is a controversial subject.  Originalists often argue that there is no general right to privacy within the constitution.  However, as early as 1923 the Supreme Court, recognized through decisions, that the liberty given in the 14th amendment guarantees a relatively broad right of privacy in regards to about procreation, child rearing, marriage, and medical treatment termination. 
Two decisions by the Supreme Court during the 1920s solidified this view of the 14th amendment. They found the liberty clause of the 14th amendment to prohibit the states from trying to interfere with private decisions of parents and educators in when shaping the children’s education.  During the case Meyer v Nebraska in 1923, the Supreme Court said that a state law that did not allow the teaching of German or other foreign languages to students before the ninth grade was unconstitutional. 
The issue of the right to privacy regained momentum in the 1960’s during Griswold v Connecticut where the Supreme Court said that the state law prohibiting the sale, distribution, possession and contraceptives to couples who were married was unconstitutional. There were different reasons for this based on the judge, whether it was the gray area of the law or the zone of privacy created by the Bill of Rights. 
In 1969, the court ruled on Stanley v Georgia in a unanimous decision staying that an individual had the right to privacy to have and watch pornography, even if the pornography could potentially be the basis for any prosecution against the distributor or manufacturer. The opinion stated that the State could not tell a person who was in his own home what he movies he could watch or what books he could read. 
More recently, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the right to privacy. For example, in the 1990 case Cruzan v Missouri Department of Health, the Court found that individuals had the right to make their own decisions about terminating medical treatments that were life-prolonging. Another case was Lawrence v Texas in 2003 where a sodomy law in Texas that prohibited homosexual sodomy was struck down by the Supreme Court.



Monday, June 25, 2018

One Life to Live

To think that the networks canceled soap operas as the viewership declined.  Maybe they should have reconsidered that for if they were still on the air they could provide a type of education for the masses.

I read this article in this morning's Times and I was repulsed beyond belief as to the level of idiocy the Times has partaken in to the point I am beginning to excuse Judith Miller for her bullshit reporting that contributed to the run up for the Iraq war as that is how repulsed I am.  Dear God what the fuck is going on in this country?

Given currently the disdain and distrust the current occupant in the White House has for the press, particularly the failing New York Times to find themselves in this mess I am not sure how I feel or how to respond.

The story is below and given the current highly charged environment regarding #MeToo I am again not sure what to say about this 22 year old girl engaging in what was clearly a confusing flirtation that escalated into a sexual relationship that in all appearance was mutually beneficial.  I am disgusted at the man but the young woman is a product of a generation of Millennials that clearly did not benefit from all the information and education that they claim makes them smarter and better than those who walked before.   I guess not when one is fucking the boss so to speak clearly someone knew the rules and then promptly ignored them. Or in fact it shows that they are as ignorant and oblivious to societal norms than those Boomers they despise.

Then we have the varying press organizations that this young lady churned through on her climb to the top, including at age 24 being in the cohort of Journalists that were up for a Pulitzer Prize, an award that many more her senior with longer more established careers could only wish.  Again at some time did anyone think that this girl with limited experience would have such knowledge and insight into a highly closed and secretive organization as the CIA? Come on this is an are you fucking kidding me moment.  They either suspected and did not care and used the girl which may explain the revolving door of her career for one so young which should have begun in positions of more drudgery and less glamour but then those are for those without "sources."

And while I am trying to understand what this homely girl with such opportunity would find herself swayed by the charms of a sophisticated worldly and very married man is something in which to be appalled,  I remind myself of Bill Clinton and those who walked this same path.  And then we have the Editors and Associates at the varying Press Organization seeing no problem with the relationship and in turn enabling her to continue using the man for at best feedback and at worse a source.  Really you just believe a 24 year old of any gender going:  "We are just fuck buddies and no we never talk about work and shit."  I can say that I have never read any of this girls work in any of the outlets short of the New York Times and this confirms I never will,  but the Times utterly has thrown me for a loop with this a fucking cover story no less! 

This group seems to have forgotten past sins and recriminations.  For the record ,many believed Judith Miller used sex and sexuality to garner her stories which she has repeatedly denied.  Have you seen Ms. Miller this is no beauty contestant (yes I am a bitch) but despite her fraudulent reporting I figured that was a sin enough but now it makes me question that as well.    Again I cannot lay blame to men in every scenario and even I have believed that fucking the boss would be a good idea.   But I too was 24 years old and had no support network or mentor to assist otherwise.  Ah yes let's blame the 70s, the era in which I was raised.

I am ashamed and embarrassed for all women, myself included. But the reality is that clearly no one learns anything from past mistakes.  I did and I have never slept with a boss since I did at 24 and whom promptly fired me when I finally WOKE UP  told the HR department when I realized what was going on, so bitch please even I figured it out!  Yes folks #MeToo and all that but I get it and did then.   So the  thought of using that as a negotiating position or even believing that a married man or anyone my superior in a  workplace gives a flying fuck,  other than a fuck,  is not something that some 30 plus years of living has proven me otherwise.  And there is has been ample story after story since my youth about this.  I thought you Millennials were fucking geniuses! Well got the fuck part right!   Men are sick fucks and women grow up.   But the Times in their desperate appeal to draw millennial hired this idiot and that other moron, Bari Weiss, who has made the Times Review page on Sunday utterly unreadable.  It used to be the first page I would go to (well right after the late Bill Cunningham's street style) and read at length.  Today I glance and toss it aside as it is waste bin reading.  The rest of the Sunday Times begins on the front page and ends in the Arts which still holds a place of investment.  Even the Business section another favorite is eroding in interest but hey my Sunday mornings are taken up with less reading time! This is where we are trying to find readers who don't read.  Good idea its clearly working out.   ***By the way I am a print subscriber and have been for over 20 years when the Times went National and it is the one thing I look forward to every day.  Even despite the excess Trump coverage I think of this an expensive privilege like good coffee, they are the way to begin a day.

If anything does come out of this I do see a Lifetime movie and I for one can't wait they are equivalent to the daily soaps just condensed on a Saturday night. But The Affair on HBO starts again and that too is pretty much the same thing about people fucking people and fucking people over,  same diff. I have watched The 4th Estate on Showtime and aside from being dated as it was filmed during the election, it has nowhere near the scandal or hysteria of the Newsroom.  Hell they really need to throw in drunk harasser Glen Thrush and this girl and let the games begin!  Shit to think that is the most interesting byline of late that is not about Trump, but about a girl reporter and her bofo/source.  Again this is why the Enquirer is still in print.

How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media

By Michael M. Grynbaum, Scott Shane and Emily Flitter
The New York Times
June 24, 2018

The pearl bracelet arrived in May 2014, in the spring of Ali Watkins’s senior year in college, a graduation gift from a man many years her senior. It was the sort of bauble that might imply something more deeply felt than friendship — but then again, might not.

Ms. Watkins, then a 22-year-old intern in the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, was not entirely surprised. She had met James Wolfe, a 50-something senior aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee, while hunting for scoops on Capitol Hill. He had become a helpful source, but there were times when he seemed interested in other pursuits — like when he presented her with a Valentine’s Day card.

On that occasion, Ms. Watkins explained to Mr. Wolfe that their relationship was strictly professional. The bracelet suggested that her message had not gotten through. She asked an editor for advice, and was told that as long as the gift was not exorbitant — no stock in a company, the editor joshed — it was fine.

Ms. Watkins kept the bracelet.

The story of what happened next — of a three-year affair that unfolded between a young reporter and a government official with access to top-secret information — is now part of a federal investigation that has rattled the world of Washington journalists and the sources they rely on.

Mr. Wolfe, 57, was arrested on June 7 and charged with lying to investigators about his contacts with Ms. Watkins and three other journalists. Ms. Watkins, a Washington-based reporter for The New York Times, had her email and phone records seized by federal prosecutors.

Now 26, Ms. Watkins was hired by The Times to cover federal law enforcement in December, about four months after she has said her relationship with Mr. Wolfe ended. Times officials are currently examining her work history and what influence the relationship may have had on her reporting. The Times is also reviewing her decision, on advice of her personal lawyer, not to immediately tell her editors about a letter she received in February informing her that her records had been seized.

The seizure of Ms. Watkins’s records was alarming to First Amendment advocates. With no allegation that classified information was disclosed, they said such a rare and aggressive tactic was unjustified and could undermine journalists’ ability to report on government misconduct.

“The most important issue here remains the seizure of a journalist’s personal communications, which we condemn and believe all Americans should be deeply concerned about,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times.

Strikingly, the case against Mr. Wolfe brings together several of President Trump’s preoccupations: leaks, which he has railed about since taking office; Washington’s permanent bureaucracy, which he derides as the “deep state”; the news media, Mr. Trump’s favorite target; and the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. The president told reporters that the F.B.I. had arrested “a very important leaker,” prompting Mr. Wolfe’s lawyers to protest that their client was charged with lying, not leaking, and that he has pleaded not guilty.

This account is based on interviews with about three dozen friends and colleagues of Ms. Watkins and Mr. Wolfe, many of whom asked for anonymity to speak candidly about sensitive matters. Ms. Watkins declined to speak on the record, but she has shared many details of her experiences with others who spoke with The Times. Mr. Wolfe’s lawyers declined to comment in detail, saying: “Mr. Wolfe is fighting the charges against him in court, not in the newspaper.”

The revelation of Ms. Watkins’s affair with Mr. Wolfe stunned many journalists who had watched her ascent from college-age intern to rising star in the sensitive field of national security reporting. Their relationship played out in the insular world of Washington, where young, ambitious journalists compete for scoops while navigating relationships with powerful, often older, sources.

Avoiding conflicts of interest is a basic tenet of journalism, and intimate involvement with a source is considered verboten. In her short career, Ms. Watkins disclosed her relationship with Mr. Wolfe to her employers in varying degrees of detail — sometimes citing Mr. Wolfe’s name and position, and sometimes not — while asserting that she had not used him as a source during their relationship.

If the romance with Mr. Wolfe raised any red flags, they were not enough to prevent several news organizations from hiring Ms. Watkins, or to persuade her editors to move her off the intelligence beat. Since meeting Mr. Wolfe in 2013, Ms. Watkins reported on the Senate Intelligence Committee for Politico, BuzzFeed News, The Huffington Post and McClatchy, where her reporting was part of a submission that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Last fall, after Ms. Watkins and Mr. Wolfe had broken up and while she was still reporting on the intelligence committee for Politico, she briefly dated another staff member at the committee, friends said. That relationship, which has not been previously reported, ended when the two decided not to pursue something more serious.

A Relationship, With Rules

Mr. Wolfe had a sensitive job: head of security at the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he oversaw the handling and distribution of highly classified materials delivered by agencies like the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. It was a high-ranking role that Mr. Wolfe had occupied since before Ms. Watkins was born.

Ms. Watkins told friends that she did not start dating Mr. Wolfe until after she left McClatchy in the fall of 2014, and that when the relationship began, she imposed ground rules: She would tell Mr. Wolfe, “You are not my source,” and occasionally interrupt him if he started discussing his government work.

But sometimes, she admitted, it got complicated: She would make a mental note of tidbits he mentioned offhand, or gossip with him about Capitol Hill, or throw out a fact and gauge his reply.

The relationship has prompted concern in many newsrooms that Ms. Watkins’s conduct has made journalists, and particularly women, vulnerable to unfounded accusations of exchanging sex for information. And it has complicated what would otherwise be a straightforward argument for press advocates protesting the seizure of Ms. Watkins’s emails and phone records.

“It is already clear that Watkins’ highly unethical conduct presents a problem for press defenders,” Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist, wrote this month, echoing other right-wing commentators who have criticized Ms. Watkins. “Hers is not the hill they should volunteer to die on.”

Mr. Wolfe, who is married but whose wife now lives in Connecticut, retired quietly in December, shortly after investigators questioned him about possible leaks.

Colleagues of Ms. Watkins describe her as a reporter of unusual talent, who cultivated a wide variety of sources throughout the federal government.

“People all across Washington are in all sorts of various relationships,” Ryan Grim, Ms. Watkins’s former editor at The Huffington Post, said in an interview. “You manage it, you put up walls, but you can’t pretend that you’re not human. Ali is a great reporter and I trust her judgment.”

“What I see is the Trump administration seizing a reporter’s records and tricking the press into writing about her sex life,” added Mr. Grim, who is now the Washington bureau chief of The Intercept. “It’s appalling what the Trump administration is doing and I don’t think you should enable it.”

Relishing the Clandestine

The gray-haired father of two stood out amid the young crowd who gathered for barbecues in Ms. Watkins’s backyard in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington. She introduced him as Jim, her boyfriend.

The son of a Kentucky construction worker, James Anthony Wolfe had spent three decades in charge of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he joined during Ronald Reagan’s administration, after a four-year stint in the Army. He slowly earned the trust of Democratic and Republican officials alike — sometimes sitting in on briefings so sensitive that most aides were asked to leave the room.

Mr. Wolfe relished the clandestine nature of his work — using “jimwolfe007” as his personal email address — and he projected an affable charm. Colleagues said they were dumbfounded by the government’s accusations against him — particularly since it was Mr. Wolfe’s job to arrange meetings with the F.B.I. when other staff members were suspected of leaking.

But one colleague said there was an element of the indictment that was less surprising: that Mr. Wolfe had been having an affair.

When he met Ms. Watkins in the fall of 2013, Mr. Wolfe was married to his second wife, Jane Rhodes Wolfe, a former F.B.I. agent.

Ms. Watkins was in her senior year at Temple University. She grew up in a small eastern Pennsylvania town and apprenticed at local papers before landing a coveted internship at the Washington bureau of McClatchy. In recent years, she has zipped around Washington on a motorcycle, taken boxing lessons and doted on her Husky, Kellan, whom she outfitted with a Putin chew toy.

Ms. Watkins began staking out the committee’s biweekly closed-door business meetings. “She was often the only reporter there as many veteran journalists saw little value in spending hours outside the committee’s high-security offices,” her McClatchy editor, James Asher, would later write in a nominating letter to the Pulitzer judging panel.

Her reporting led to a series in 2014 that revealed the C.I.A. was spying on the Intelligence Committee, which was compiling a critical report on the agency’s use of torture. It earned her a full-time slot at McClatchy after graduation.

It also brought her closer to Mr. Wolfe, who would later text her saying how “proud” he was of her work on the series. In October 2014, after Ms. Watkins had jumped from McClatchy to The Huffington Post, Mr. Wolfe took her to a rooftop bar to celebrate her 23rd birthday; before the night was over, they kissed.

Mr. Wolfe’s private life was already complicated.

In 2004, amid a bitter divorce, he was accused of assault by his first wife, Leslie Adair Wolfe, who sought a protective order and claimed her husband had “threatened me verbally, pushed, shoved, strangled, spit in face” and pulled her down the hallway by her hair, according to court records.

The charges were later dropped by prosecutors, as were other charges that Ms. Wolfe made in 2009 that her former husband had broken into her house, records show. If any serious charges had been successfully prosecuted, Mr. Wolfe might have lost his security clearance.

His lawyers, Benjamin Klubes and Preston Burton, said that Mr. Wolfe “has consistently denied that he ever physically abused his first wife.”

Ms. Watkins told people she was aware of Mr. Wolfe’s messy divorce, but assumed the abuse allegations were unfounded. Instead, she was concerned how a romantic entanglement might affect her journalism.

Relationships between reporters and sources are an art, not a science: In Washington, meals and late nights out with sources are part of a journalist’s job description. But becoming romantically involved is widely viewed as a conflict, opening a journalist to accusations of bias.

Ms. Watkins initially sought advice from a Huffington Post editor, Amanda Terkel, who warned her that critics can use personal relationships against journalists. Editors there decided they were comfortable with her continuing to cover intelligence because Ms. Watkins said she was not using Mr. Wolfe as a source.

Other journalists at the site had managed their own relationships with partners in government: one editor, Sam Stein, was married to a member of the Barack Obama administration, a fact he disclosed in stories.

Ms. Watkins “cared about her craft,” said Mr. Stein, one of her editors at Huffington Post. “She really cared about breaking a good story, a story that had meat on it.”

Her clips caught the attention of BuzzFeed News, which hired her in late 2015. Covering intelligence, including the Senate committee, Ms. Watkins scored a scoop that other news organizations scrambled to match: a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, had met with a Russian spy in 2013.

People at BuzzFeed say they had a general sense of her personal life: During a job interview, Ms. Watkins told Miriam Elder, an editor, that she was dating a man who did intelligence work on Capitol Hill. She said he was not a source, but did not volunteer Mr. Wolfe’s name or title, and the discussion went no further. (Ms. Elder declined to comment, but did not dispute the account.)

Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, said he believed Ms. Watkins when she said that Mr. Wolfe was not a source. Mr. Smith, in an email, did not condone dating a source, but he expressed a less draconian view about reporters who date within the industry they cover. “Reporters and editors aren’t some kind of priesthood,” he wrote, adding that editors “make these genuinely complex calls on a case-by-case basis.”

Ms. Watkins made another move in May 2017, to Politico, while she and Mr. Wolfe were still together. She has told friends that when she was hired, she informed a Politico editor, Paul Volpe, that she was dating a man in the intelligence community, though she again did not volunteer Mr. Wolfe’s name or his position. A spokesman for Politico, Brad Dayspring, said only that she “did not disclose the personal nature of her relationship early on in her tenure.”

All sides, however, agree that Ms. Watkins first identified Mr. Wolfe by name to her editors after an unsettling episode that left Ms. Watkins frightened and her managers confused. It was the first concrete indication that her involvement with Mr. Wolfe might have serious consequences.
A Bizarre Tale

On the morning of June 2, 2017, a shaken Ms. Watkins approached her Politico editors with a bizarre tale.

The day before, she explained, she had received an anonymous email from a man who claimed to work for the government and wanted to meet. Over drinks at a Dupont Circle bar, the man quizzed Ms. Watkins about her sources on a story about Russian espionage. He then stunned her by reciting the itinerary of her recent vacation to Spain, including stops at Heathrow Airport and the Canary Islands.

He also knew with whom she had traveled: Mr. Wolfe.

The man said he had temporarily relocated to Washington to work on leak investigations, and asked Ms. Watkins to help him identify government officials who were leaking to the press. “It would turn your world upside down” if this turned up in The Washington Post, the man said to Ms. Watkins, who told her editors she believed he was threatening to expose her personal relationship.

Ms. Watkins later went back to the bar and obtained a receipt with the man’s name on it: Jeffrey A. Rambo, a Customs and Border Protection agent stationed in California.

Two former Justice Department officials said there was a surge last year in government personnel assigned to hunt for leaks — a priority of the Trump White House — but a current official said there is no evidence that Mr. Rambo was ever detailed to the F.B.I.

Mr. Rambo, reached by phone, declined to comment. A Border Protection spokesman said the matter has been referred to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Inside Politico, there was curiosity over why a border patrol agent appeared to be targeting one of its reporters. But editors were also surprised to learn that the man Ms. Watkins had been dating was a powerful official on a committee that she covered.

If Politico editors had reservations about Ms. Watkins’s relationship with Mr. Wolfe, they were not reflected in her assignments: over the following six months, she continued to write about the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including a closed-door session with Corey Lewandowski and a meeting with John Podesta.

By August, Ms. Watkins told friends that she and Mr. Wolfe had broken up. He had been spooked by her meeting with Mr. Rambo, and was refusing to disclose their relationship to his own employers in the Senate.

In the fall, Ms. Watkins started dating a different staff member from the committee. She told others that she had informed a Politico editor who did not object. But Mr. Dayspring, the Politico spokesman, said: “Politico editors were not made aware of this relationship.”

About the same time, Mr. Wolfe, too, appeared to be moving on. He gave another young female reporter covering the Intelligence Committee some valuable information, according to a person with direct knowledge of the interaction. Then he sent her a series of personal nighttime texts, including one at 10 p.m. asking her what she was up to. She deflected his inquiries and never got another tip from him, the person said.

Ms. Watkins told some friends that she wanted off the beat, but that her editors were eager for scoops about the Trump-Russia investigation. (In a statement, Politico said Ms. Watkins’s work was “managed accordingly” after her disclosure about Mr. Wolfe.)

On Twitter, she wrote about the joys of reporting on the committee.

“The CIA once told me I have ‘an emotional dependence’ on covering” it, Ms. Watkins wrote as she prepared to join The Times last December, adding: “I thought they were wrong until I have to leave (they were a *little* right.) I’ve loved getting to know this weird hallway.”

A Visit From the F.B.I.

In December, before she started work at The Times, Ms. Watkins told the paper’s national security editor, Amy Fiscus, about her previous relationships with staff members of the Senate committee, and about her encounter with Mr. Rambo. Ms. Fiscus relayed the information to the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Elisabeth Bumiller.

Ms. Fiscus and Ms. Bumiller said in interviews that they did not feel her past relationships should be a barrier to hiring her, because Ms. Watkins said that Mr. Wolfe had not been a source during their relationship, and because she would not be covering the Senate Intelligence Committee. They did not go back to ask Ms. Watkins’s previous employers about how she handled her involvement with Mr. Wolfe, and Ms. Bumiller did not inform other top newsroom leaders of the relationship. Ms. Watkins was also interviewed by several other senior editors before being hired.

On Dec. 14, days before her start date, Ms. Watkins was approached by two F.B.I. agents with questions about Mr. Wolfe, a conversation she immediately reported to her editors in the Times Washington bureau. In February, however, Ms. Watkins received a letter that she did not tell her editors about: a notice from the Justice Department, informing her that investigators had seized some of her email and phone records.

Obtaining a reporter’s private communications is so unusual that it is often reported as news, and media organizations generally protest such actions. But on the advice of her lawyer, Ms. Watkins kept the information to herself. She did not tell The Times until nearly four months later, when a story by her colleagues about Mr. Wolfe’s arrest was imminent; in a statement at the time, Ms. Murphy, the Times spokeswoman, said the paper “obviously would have preferred to know.”

The Times declined to comment on its internal review. Since Mr. Wolfe’s arrest, the accuracy of Ms. Watkins’s articles for The Times and other publications has not been challenged. In recent days, she has been out of the office on a preplanned vacation.

On Feb. 15, two days after the Justice Department sent the letter notifying her that it had seized her records, Ms. Watkins sent an email to her colleagues in the Washington bureau. She had brought in chocolates for sharing — “from an old source who somehow thought it wouldn’t be creepy to bring them to a dinner, stupidly and unintentionally scheduled on valentine’s day,” she wrote.

According to a person familiar with the source, the dinner companion was not Mr. Wolfe, but a different Washington national security veteran.

“Sigh,” Ms. Watkins wrote at the end of her note about the chocolates. “Eat them!”