Category Archives: Tennessee politics

Today In Tennessee Banning Things

As our legislative session limps to a close, let’s look at what our elected representatives decided we can’t have:

Bus Rapid Transit — Applies only to Davidson County (Nashville) and Moore County. Because … Koch Bros. and Lee Beaman.

• Flash Mobs — Because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets a little twitchy when large groups of people show up in front of a retail establishment. Pretty sure this is a free speech issue but hey, I’m not a lawyer. Bite me, U.S. Chamber. We didn’t vote for you.

• Risky behavior when you’re pregnant – - Or as I call it, the “Vessels Law.” This bill would make it a criminal act for women to use illegal drugs while pregnant, but a provision could make it illegal to even drive recklessly. What this bill will really do is keep women who are substance abusers from getting treatment. Another shot fired in the war on women by a bunch of men who have no fucking clue what challenges women face on a daily basis. Slow clap for the pro-life crowd. You just ensured more women and babies will die, more women will seek out illegal abortions, and more pain and suffering will go around. You guys are really good at this.

• U.N. Election Monitors — I’m trying to think of the last time I saw a U.N. election monitor at a polling place in Nashville. That would be never. Still! This one is courtesy of the Black Helicopter crowd, aka, John Birch Society.

Bans on bans on Christmas — This one came from the usual source, State Sen. Stacey Campfield, and had a House counterpart, and last I heard it was awaiting the Governor’s signature. Basically this was a solution in search of a problem, though Campfield claims he heard that “some groups” have “threatened” to sue over holiday displays at schools. Right. And I’ve heard you’ve got monkeys up your ass.

• An apology for slavery – - Okay, this wasn’t a ban, but it was ridiculous. The House voted to express “profound regret” for slavery and discrimination, after removing the original language which was “profound apologies.” Cause we regret it but we’re not sorry, you guys. That would be wrong.

It wasn’t all bad. We kept our ban on guns-in-parks and open-carry (for now!) and a bill allowing sales of high gravity beer in grocery stores passed. Which you will need to guzzle today when the House takes up a bill criminalizing union organizing activity.

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Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Things Don’t Go Better With Koch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t She Special

Y’all probably don’t watch The Real Housewives Of New York City, which I admit is an occasional guilty pleasure of mine (don’t judge! Dorito’s for the brain, cripes, even I need to unwind every now and then). But there was this time about three or four seasons ago when cast member Kelly Bensimon had some kind of nervous breakdown on a trip to the Virgin Islands. It was one of those deals where everything erupted into what you thought was going to be a typical Real Housewives catfight, with Kelly yelling at the other housewives and they’re arguing back at her. But the conversation was odd, there were words but they weren’t forming coherent ideas that related to what anyone else was saying, and all at once you see the other women realize that Kelly was clearly experiencing some kind of mental breakdown. She started shouting “Al Sharpton! Al Sharpton!” apropos of absolutely nothing and cramming hard candies into her mouth.

And as the realization that something was seriously wrong with Kelly dawned on the other women you just saw them all back down and say, “okay, we’re not going to argue, there’s something wrong here, let’s get you some help.” I mean, it was truly amazing to see, how they all at once realized that they were not dealing with a mentally healthy person but someone having a clinical episode of some kind.

That’s kind of how I feel after reading this interview with Victoria Jackson (warning: there’s an annoying auto-start ad at the link so turn your volume off if you don’t want to be screamed at.) I just can’t piece out quotes and make fun of someone who clearly is just … not … all right up there.

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Filed under conservatives, pop culture, Saturday Night Live, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Time Keeps On Ticking Into The Future

Today we sprang forward, part of our annual Daylight Savings Time ritual. I usually hate springing forward because you “lose” an hour but I get over it as soon as I realize that holy cow it’s 6:00 and it’s still daylight!

So naturally, Tennessee Republican State Rep. Curry Todd, ALEC’s man in our state legislature who was last in the news for living with a lobbyist in violation of state ethics rules, wants to do away with this annual ritual. Todd has a bill that would keep Tennessee in permanent daylight savings time.

Nobody could have anticipated that a Republican would want to freeze the state in time.

{rimshot}

This is a ridiculous proposal on a lot of levels, the most notable one being, there’s absolutely no reason to do this. Why would Todd want to change this? It’s not like we’ve experienced a rash of issues related to the time change. I suspect some corporate suck asked Todd to file this bill because Todd, as I mentioned, is a Big Business Toady — more specifically, ALEC’s man in the Tennessee legislature who was caught living with a lobbyist in violation of state ethics rules.

Todd claims that he’s doing this “for the children” who have to wait for the school bus in the dark, and at the behest of farmers, and also he did some research and “80% of Tennesseans were in favor of making the switch.”

LOLWUT? He did research? I call bullshit. Please show us this mythic research!

Also, please stop trying to do the children of Tennessee any favors:

When asked though which time gives children more daylight in the morning, Todd admitted, “I really don’t know to tell you the truth.”

In actuality, moving the clock forward an hour means school children will wait for the bus longer in the dark.

Woopsies. Hilariously, Todd’s original proposal would have done away with daylight savings time. He changed it with an amendment making daylight savings time permanent.

Nobody could have anticipated that a Tennessee Republican would propose legislation to prevent the state from moving forward.

{rimshot}

Methinks Curry Todd hasn’t really thought this whole thing through.

And then we have this:

The change would cause some time issues for east Tennessee, which is in the Eastern Time Zone.

If Knoxville stays on daylight saving while the rest of the east coast falls back, east Tennessee would be an hour ahead of New York.

This guy makes a good point:

Moving the clock ahead an hour does not add daylight, time or anything else. The primary purpose for the concept of keeping “time” is that everyone is on the same page. If Tennessee decides it is going to buck the rest of the country, then confusion will ensue. This is particularly so given Tennessee borders so many other states. Imagine, five months of the year when Chattanoogans are planning to meet friends from North Georgia, they will be on different times. The other seven months the time will be the same. Confusion will reign in every area that borders a different state (and in Tennessee, that includes Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, etc.).

Indeed, mass confusion is why the Uniform Time Act was passed in the first place.

Nobody could have anticipated that a Tennessee Republican would propose legislation causing mass, state-wide confusion.

{rimshot}

Curry Todd is a few sandwiches short of a full picnic, but I have no doubt that he doesn’t do anything without one of his big-money buddies telling him to do it. Clearly he’s too lazy/disinterested to fully investigate the issue at hand.

Would love to know who benefits from this. Anyone?

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Filed under Current Events, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

What’s The Word For This Again?

Welcome, Crooks & Liars!

Y’all think maybe these two stories are related? Story one:

Tennessee’s attorney general again says federal gun laws must stand

The latest attempt by state lawmakers to nullify federal gun laws probably violates the U.S. Constitution, Tennessee’s attorney general said in an opinion released Friday.

Senate Bill 1756, a measure that attempts to block federal laws within Tennessee, would violate the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state lawyers said in a terse, two-page opinion signed by Attorney General Robert Cooper. State lawyers note they reached the same conclusion on a similar bill a year ago.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, sought the opinion. Kelsey and the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, have clashed previously over the issue.

Story two:

Attorney general bill advances in Tennessee state Senate; on state House calendar this week

The state House version of a bill that would give Tennessee’s governor and the General Assembly power over the state attorney general is on a subcommittee calendar for debate Wednesday.

The state Senate version of the bill passed out of committee last week on a 5-3 vote and is set to be scheduled for a full Senate vote.

Supporters say the bill would make the state attorney general’s office more accountable to Tennessee citizens. The attorney general now is appointed by Tennessee Supreme Court justices, who themselves are appointed by the governor.

Bill opponents, who include Gov. Bill Haslam, say the legislation is a power grab that could violate the state constitution and politicize the independent office.

You know what? I’d like to see our representatives in the legislature be more accountable to Tennessee citizens first, ‘m’kay? We keep hearing about jobs and the economy being peoples’ number one concern, but when you elect Tennessee Republicans like Mae Beavers what you end up getting is a lot of culture war crazy and attempts to roll back the clock and re-litigate battles that were settled long ago.

And, yes. A special kudo to that crack legal mind Mae Beavers — and when I say “crack,” I DO mean influenced by illegal substances, as she’s so far off the rails, even her fellow Republicans can’t take her seriously any more. I simply cannot believe that there isn’t a person out there who can send this idiot packing. I mean, Tennessee Republicans, have you not thought about finding another candidate for this seat? Mae Beavers is kinda tarnishing your brand. She does not belong in public office of any kind, let alone in the state legislature.

But isn’t this just typical? The state Attorney General keeps telling certain legislators that their ideas are unconstitutional, illegal, even crazy. They won’t stand up in court. Instead of behaving like grown-ups and realizing maybe they might be, y’know, wrong, they just want to use their power to politicize the office and hire some Monica Goodling-type with a “degree” from the University of Phoenix to do their bidding. Power grab? Umm, gee, ya think? But this is what happens when you elect a bunch of people who are more interested in getting their way than doing what’s right.

Now, tell me: what’s the word for this, again? Corrupt? Evil? Stupid? Childish?

By the way, the AG’s opinion can be read here. It’s hilarious.

Constitutionality of Legislation Amending the “Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act”

QUESTION

Is Senate Bill 1607/House Bill 2145 (hereinafter “SB1607”) of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly, which would amend the “Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act,” constitutional?

OPINION

No.

Well, alrighty then. Now run along and play, children, and leave the actual governing to the grown-ups.

And let me remind Tennessee Republicans supporting this ridiculous Attorney General’s bill about one thing: pendulums swing. You won’t be in power forever. The day will come when Democrats are back in charge and get to have all the power you are grabbing for your Republican majority now. And you will not like that. And you will scream and squawk and whine and complain but you will have made this bed and you will have to lie down in it.

And nobody will feel sorry for you.

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Filed under gun control, Republican Party, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, TNGOP

I Hate It When Mom And Dad Fight

Oooh. Grab the popcorn, y’all. Tennessee’s Republican Daddy is having a big fight with Corporate Mama over this week’s UAW vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. And how scared are the Republicans? VERY:

On Monday, state Republican leaders accused Volkswagen of supporting the UAW and they threatened to withhold any tax incentives for future expansion of the three-year-old assembly plant in Chattanooga if workers vote to join the UAW.

“Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the State of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate,” State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said in a statement sent to the Free Press.

A worker opposition group called Southern Momentum echoed that position in a statement.

“Further financial incentives — which are absolutely necessary for the expansion of the VW facility here in Chattanooga — simply will not exist if the UAW wins this election,” Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga labor lawyer representing Southern Momentum said.

Today’s threat comes less than 48 hours after Volkswagen said it favors a German-style works council with union representation.

“Outside political groups won’t divert us from the work at hand: innovating, creating jobs, growing, and producing great automobiles,” said Sebastian Patta, Volkswagen Chattanooga vice president of human resources.

The anti-union forces now are countering that VW isn’t neutral, it is pro-union.

Speaking of “outside political groups,” has anyone looked into who is paying Southern Momentum’s bills? All of those lawyers’ fees and anti-union billboards? I wouldn’t be shocked to find Americans For Prosperity or some similar conservative group financing this operation.

I find this absolutely hilarious. The company everyone embraced with hugs and kisses back in 2008 is now no longer welcome. Screw those thousands of jobs, amiright? We don’t want your kind around here.

Sen. Bob Corker wrote in 2008:

It’s difficult to find a sector of our state that will NOT be affected positively. Not only will the Chattanooga region be transformed by the tremendous economic impact and new job creation that will result from Volkswagen’s investment, our entire state will reap great benefits from suppliers and other supporting businesses this facility will attract.

Apparently allowing the workers to decide whether to have a collective voice in their workplace will somehow change all of that. Of course it’s not just Tennessee Republicans who are terrified of the implications of Volkswagen joining the UAW. It’s the entire Southern wing of the party (which, let’s face it, is basically the entire party). Would Nissan be far behind? Toyota up in Kentucky? The Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama? Kiss cheap labor — and a treasured talking point — goodbye.

So now Tennessee Republicans are threatening to end the incentives they claim lured VW to the state in the first place. But did they? From the memory hole:

Mr. Jacoby said the decision went well beyond the question of the state’s financial incentives and of state and local investments in infrastructure in an excellent competitive site. It hinged equally, he emphasized, on the city’s deep and durable commitment to the vision of renaissance and quality of life that resurrected Chattanooga from pollution and decline; to the community’s dedication to a sustainable future; to our efforts at nurturing our natural environment and enriching our cultural amenities; and to the sense of commitment and determination for a better future that Volkswagen’s leaders culled from their conversations with people who live and work here and who spoke optimistically of their values, culture, schools, housing, hospitals and quality of life.

VW found shared values

In all these ways, he said, Volkswagen found shared values and common goals — “something in our heart … in our gut,” in the city’s history, culture, environment and natural beauty — that reinforced the company’s decision to come to Chattanooga to build a car for the future, a car designed specifically for the American driver.

Of course, that’s likely just ribbon-cutting nice time talk we’re used to hearing at these press events. Regardless, I guess the honeymoon is over. We love having jobs, as long as they’re, y’know, the right kind of jobs. Cheap labor jobs. The kind that know their place and don’t cause trouble in the neighborhood. The ones that don’t hang around with the wrong sort of elements and start rabble-rousing up in Smyrna or down in Vance, Alabama.

Tennessee Republicans are right to be scared. As I reported in a recent Good News post, Tennessee ranks number one in the nation for the largest percentage increase in union membership. That no doubt reflects how far we had to go compared to other states, but it also reflects the fact that Tennessee’s workers realize the low wage, low benefit jobs where workers have no voice in how their plants are run might not be jobs worth having.

Crushing organized labor to maintain low wages and oppressive work conditions has been a long-cherished Republican value. If VW falls, would Nissan be far behind? Or any other manufacturing plant? Stay tuned.

(Some history on the issue here.)

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Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

More Hannity Hilarity

As you may have heard, Tennessee Republican Rep. Andy Holt has a resolution inviting Sean Hannity “and like-minded New Yorkers” to move to Tennessee. This came after Hannity got his fee-fee’s hurt when Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, quite rightly, that “extreme Republicans” won’t win elections in New York state. (Cuomo’s actual comments have been distorted and taken out of context by the perpetually butthurt Fox News crowd and got twisted into “Cuomo said Republicans aren’t welcome in New York state.” But that is not what he said or meant.)

Holt’s resolution quickly passed a Republican House committee and will be taken up by the full House tomorrow. And Tennessee Democrats have added some hilarious amendments.

Such as:

By adding the following whereas clause immediately after the first whereas clause:

WHEREAS, Tennessee is proud to be the home of New York native,
conservative icon, and star of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville; and

Also:

By adding the following whereas clause immediately preceding the final whereas clause:

WHEREAS, Tennessee, unlike New York, will soon offer voters the chance to
purchase their wine in grocery stores; and

And also:

By adding the following whereas clause immediately after the eighth whereas clause:

WHEREAS, Tennessee’s Republican Governor recognized the importance of our citizens’ liberty and freedom when he vetoed legislation aimed at curtailing our first amendment rights; and

The above, I believe, relates to this. And finally, my favorite:

By adding the following whereas clause immediately after the third whereas clause:

WHEREAS, unlike the state of New York, Tennessee’s Republican majority in the House and Senate are so dedicated to Republican party principles that they have ignored the will of the people and decided to send two and one-half million dollars ($2.5 million) a day in federal funds to other states in order to deny up to three hundred thirty thousand (330,000) working men and women access to quality, affordable healthcare; and

I’d say these amendments are stupid except they’re actually, in my opinion, very pointed statements about Republican hypocrisy. Meanwhile, nothing is stupider than wasting the legislature’s time on inviting Sean Hannity to move to Tennessee.

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Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Julia Hurley Lost Her Insurance

That’s pretty much all you need to know about the former Republican state rep/dog surfer, who has written an Obamacare op-ed (excerpted here).

In it, Hurley states that since she lost her job and got dumped by her insurance company, she is rethinking Obamacare. As so often happens with Republicans, all bets are off once the plight of the plebes lands on their doorstep. Suddenly the social safety net isn’t the “hammock” they thought it was.

Hurley makes one good point:

I am a conservative Republican who believes in providing a future for myself without government involvement. I have been unemployed for nearly 14 months. Unable to collect unemployment and unwilling to take government assistance, I have spent nearly all my savings and, unless an employment option arrives, soon will be spending my retirement savings as well.

[...] If the Republican Party continues to fight Obamacare without offering an alternative, I fear the failure of my party is inevitable. The expectation of personal responsibility is being outweighed by the overwhelming number of unemployed voters, uninsured voters and, to be honest, voters without hope who are tired of being told to just hang in there a little longer because things will get better.

Well, join the club, honey. Yes, we’ve all been dying to know what the Republican healthcare plan is. Cue the *crickets*, right?

Then she says this:

If the Democratic Party continues to provide everything for a voter without encouraging some personal responsibility, I fear a gap between taxpayers and beneficiaries will open so wide that our government will not be able to repair the financial damages.

While I do not support the premise of Obamacare, I can fully understand the frustration of the unemployed, uninsured American. I cannot judge those who choose to use the program, for I know exactly what it is like to need it.

Gosh, I’m so old, I remember when Republicans sold the individual mandate as a “personal responsibility provision.” I mean seriously, Julia?

I still think Julia Hurley is an idiot, but she’s the kind of idiot who’s slowly starting to realize that Obamacare sure beats “I don’t care.”

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Filed under health insurance, healthcare, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

You Might Be A Racist If ….

TN Republican State Senator Frank Niceley says he’s not racist, he just has a lot of really racist ideas.

In attempting to explain why he’s speaking to the Southern National Congress, a racist, secessionist group, Niceley says:

“They’re endorsing my ideas, I’m not endorsing theirs’.”

OH. Well, that’s completely different! So y’all just stop being such big, fat meanies!

Republican Rep. Judd Matheny had the good sense to back away from this group of merry hatemongers/fearmongers, but Niceley? Not so much.

Niceley is a few sandwiches short of a full picnic. He’s the one who famously declared mountaintop removal mining was good for elk, saying we need these “highland balds” to keep elk out of the roads, or some such nonsense.

The only thing dumber than Frank Niceley are the idiots who keep voting for him.

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Filed under racism, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

American Moran: Joe Carr

Welcome to the American Morans club, State Rep. Joe Carr! Your primary challenge to Senator Lamar Alexander is off to a stereotypically brilliant Tea Party start:

BSHMWPdIcAANl5d.jpg-large

(h/t, Out Of The Blue’s Daily Buzz.)

Original American Moran here, other Morans here.

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Filed under American Morans, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, TNGOP