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.


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

Tick Tock

An update on this story from last month about Rep. Curry (DUI) Todd’s effort to exempt Tennessee from daylight savings time:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An effort to exempt Tennessee from daylight saving time has failed by one vote in the state House.

The House State Government Committee on Tuesday voted 6-5 against the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville.

All together now: awwwwww. As you may recall, this was a half-baked idea from the get-go, with Rep. Todd originally proposing to do away with daylight savings time completely, then amending it to make daylight savings time permanent. He didn’t seem to know exactly what he wanted to do, just that for some reason changing the clocks twice a year seemed to chafe his britches and it must stop!

The confusion continued when Todd’s bill hit the State Government Committee:

Several lawmakers from the part of the state in the eastern time zone raised concerns that the measure would have caused their region’s time to be mismatched with neighboring states like Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia during part of the year.

Todd amended the bill to exempt East Tennessee from the bill, which caused other lawmakers to raise concerns about possible confusion over only part of the state adhering to daylight saving time.

Just …. stop. Stop being such a crazy old fool. Curry Todd’s district is just east of Memphis and I have to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with the water there. There’s a lot of cray-cray going on in that part of the state.


Filed under Rep. Curry Todd, Tennessee

Kewl Republican Kids On Twitter

Best parody account EVER:





OK maybe not best ever, but I’m dying to know who’s behind this parody account. It seems to have sprung up out of nowhere.


Filed under politics, twitter

Because When The People Vote, Republicans Lose

This is what you do when you can’t run on your ideas:

A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.


Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.

“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

Of course, Democrats have known this forever. But it’s just really amazing to me that a political party whose ideas are so obviously unpopular refuses to change its ideas, and instead decides the way to go is to steal elections by suppressing the vote. Yes, do tell me how you’ve all got huge boners for the Constitution. Last I checked, voting was in there too.

Republicans are truly horrible people. They could try being less horrible but I guess you can’t win an election that way. Or wait … that’s not it. You can’t appease the plutocrats that way. Or something. God, I just don’t get it. No one likes your ideas, so why don’t they change them? It’s just so bizarre.

Props to Wisconsin Republican Dale Schultz, who is offended and repulsed by these shenanigans going on across the country as Democrats are:

“I am not willing to defend them anymore,” he explained when show co-host Dominic Salvia asked why Republicans sought to limit the number of voting hours a municipality could offer. “I’m just not, and I’m embarrassed by this.”

Indeed, Schultz is right to be embarrassed. It’s downright embarrassing for a political party to operate this way! Schultz nailed it with his assessment of the modern GOP in Wisconsin, and his words hold true for every red state where voter suppression laws are being passed:

It’s just, I think, sad when a political party — my political party — has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. And again, I’m a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But that fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud. The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their votes counted. And that we should be pitching as political parties our ideas for improving things in the future, rather than mucking around in the mechanics and making it more confrontational at the voting sites and trying to suppress the vote.



Filed under voting

Occupy Madison Avenue

Hey America, did you know there’s a culture war going on? Not the religious vs secular one we’ve always had, but a fun new one, the rich vs poor one? The takers vs makers one? The Occupy Wall Street vs Americans For Prosperity one? The “Me Generation” vs “Us Generation” one?

As an observer of the culture I find this new one far more interesting, relevant and, quite frankly, a far bigger deal than that other one. I know it’s a lot more fun for your Gannett fishwrap to write about Koran-burning pastors and fights over Muslim cemeteries in Rutherford County, and indeed these are important issues, I don’t mean to downplay them. But in terms of having a broad, lasting impact on American society, I think these religious wars over birth control and whether we are a Christian nation are really just sidebars.

This other culture war is the one which really defines us. It’s a battle of two beloved archetypes, pitting the “rugged individualist” against the “community organizer.” It’s a battle for the soul of America and American values. Do we value stuff? Or do we value each other? Are we all on our own? Or are we all in this together?

We’re not really having that national conversation right now, but it doesn’t mean the battle isn’t raging. Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment and Elizabeth Warren’s “you didn’t build that” speech brought it to the forefront, but post-election we’re just sort of dancing around the topic instead of having a direct debate.

And I have to say, if you want to know what’s happening in a culture, look at its advertising. Have you noticed that all of a sudden we’re seeing mixed-race and same-sex families in TV ads now? I think this is great. When Madison Avenue recognizes that the “average American family” is now multi-racial and multi-oriented, it tells me the bigots have lost and the all-inclusives have won (I know that’s not a word, I just made it up, but I like it).

So now we have a new culture war raging, and I find it absolutely fascinating to see it played out in … wait for it … car commercials.

If you watched the winter Olympic games, you repeatedly saw Cadillac’s ad featuring Mr. 1%er, a self-satisfied douchebag bragging on American exceptionalism and showing off all his cool stuff. This truly useless idiot seems to think we’re going to go back to the moon despite the fact that we keep cutting NASA’s budget so we can afford tax cuts for wealthy assholes like him. What a buffoon. I suppose he’s Cadillac’s target market. If you missed it, here it is:

This ad irritated a lot of us liberals, and no doubt it was designed to do just that. And now Ford has answered that ad with its own, featuring an actual community do-gooder named Pasho Murray, founder of Detroit Dirt, which takes food waste and turns it into compost for urban gardens.

You can see Ford’s “parody” ad here:

I just find this so fascinating. I suppose someone else will come out with an ad telling us to ride bicycles or use public transit. Wait for it, in 5… 4… 3….

Something big is happening in American culture right now. I wonder, maybe we need to be a little more intentional about the conversation? Instead of letting advertising agencies have the conversation for us? Just a thought.


Filed under advertising, culture wars, pop culture

Good News Friday

Lots of good news today, and I’m gonna be busy, so enjoy and catch you on the other side.

• The Philippine government signed a landmark peace deal with a major Muslim rebel group, putting to rest a four decade-long deadly conflict.

• The World Health Organization says polio has been eradicated from India, which just five years ago accounted for almost half the world’s polio cases.

• The first synthetic yeast chromosome has been created.

• Obamacare enrollment tops 6 million just shy of the deadline — and the actual number is likely higher, as the 6 million figure doesn’t include those who signed up off the exchanges. Considering the obstruction, misinformation, and outright lies the right has thrown up trying to make this program a big failure, I’d say that’s pretty good.

• New Medicare rules will pay for physical therapy and nursing care for people with chronic diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

• Australia says no to crocodile safari hunts.

• This one should have been a no-brainer, but I’ll take it: SCOTUS ruled in United States v. Castleman that misdemeanor domestic abuse convictions can legally prevent people from having guns.

• A U.S. District Court has upheld California’s shark fin ban.

• Despite an odious state law clearly designed to shut down clinics offering abortion services, Planned Parenthood of San Antonio has raised $3.5 million towards a new facility that will offer all women’s healthcare services, including abortion, that meets the state’s restrictive requirements. Take that, Texas anti-choicers.

• Hyundai unveils its 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell hydrogen-powered car for $499/month.

• Love it:


• A new study shows autism begins long before birth, in the womb. But by all means, continue to bring back long-ago controlled diseases by refusing to vaccinate your kids. Stupid people.

• Our awesome hippie Pope has replaced the “Bling Bishop,” making his temporary expulsion permanent.

• An appeals court has ruled that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke the law when he pulled the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine state cap-and-trade system launched in 2008.

• Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is struck down and Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, who have been together 27 years, were first to get legally married. You crazy kids!

• A “sweetheart” pollution deal proposed last summer that would have allowed Duke Energy to pay a nominal fine for polluting North Carolina’s environment without being cleaning its messes up — privatize the gains! Socialize the losses!has been withdrawn following Duke’s massive coal ash spill which fouled the Dan River in February of this year. By the way, the Dan River coal ash spill has received zero attention in the national news media. I wonder why?

• Minnesota neighbors who noticed two injured Bald Eagles entangled in each others’ talons took to social media and were able to save the majestic birds.

• A chocolate lab named Buddy survived the horrific mudslide in Washington State.

• Westboro Baptist Church protested a Lorde concert in Kansas City, the group’s first protest since the passing of church leader Fred Phelps. But it’s the message of counterprotestors which grabbed the headlines.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Congratulations to Nashville high school senior Jack Rayson, one of just eight students in the U.S. to receive the Portfolio Gold Medal from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. You can read his short story at the link.

• Someone has been performing random acts of kindness at Dyersburg fast food restaurants.

• Memphis is moving forward with “green lanes” — bike lanes protected from car traffic.

This week’s cool video is one you’ve probably already seen but I just could not stop watching firefighters rescue a construction worker from a burning building in Houston. Also heads’ up, the video is amateur, caught by workers across the street and the commentary is maybe best turned off. Or not, you be the judge:


Filed under Good News

“She Didn’t Ask”

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

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

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

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

“She didn’t ask,” Haslam said.

I guess he just doesn’t give a shit.

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

Good to know.


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