Do-Nothing TN Legislature

Well, not exactly do-nothing. They did plenty … of damage. But hey, they cut five weeks off the legislative session, the shortest session in over 10 years! Time to hit the links, fellas!

I guess we’re supposed to be impressed that they tore through their recidivist, anti-woman, anti-gay, and anti-Muslim agenda in record time. They didn’t have time to get to any of that jobs stuff, though, but hey! Maybe they’ll get around to it next session!

You know, I have to apologize to my commenters who wonder why I haven’t blogged about things like Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill (which failed this year because the House postponed it until next year). But really, what is there to say about this stuff except to shrug your shoulders and go, “It’s Tennessee! You were expecting progress from the state that brought you the Scopes Monkey Trial and the Klan?”

I mean seriously, we have had every heinous wingnutty culture-war legislation you can imagine: You want to ban Sharia Law, defund Planned Parenthood, “opt-out” of healthcare reform, or show your “long-form birth certificate” to get on the ballot, Tennessee is your state! We’ve moved forward on a bill to ban abortion in case Roe v. Wade gets overturned. We’ve discussed teaching evolution as a questionable theory while mandating Creationism in schools.

We’ve eliminated collective bargaining for teachers’ unions, and we spent a lot of time talking about our version of the Arizona immigration bill only to table it for next year. We still can’t buy wine in grocery stores and we haven’t yet banned mountaintop removal mining. We’ve even had the state legislature step in and overturn Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinance! How’s that for small government for ya?

Not all of this stuff passed, some of it was tabled for next year, some of it passed just one house of the legislature, but we sure spent a lot of time debating this nonsense, and we gave the state a black eye in the process. Who can blame Gail Kerr for observing:

It would have been better for our state, however, if some of these men and women had been whisked from their chairs and tossed into oblivion way before Saturday — before they could do some of the damage we’ve seen.

All of this, of course, masks the true agenda, which is to transfer power from the people to corporations.

Along those lines, this legislative session allowed corporations to donate directly to political campaigns and operate “virtual schools” (whatever the hell that is). We’ve exempted insurance agents and brokers from the TN Consumer Protection Act, and yes we’ve passed “tort reform”:

Awards will be capped at $750,000 in most cases and $1 million when victims suffer spinal-cord injuries that lead to loss of use of two or more limbs.

Seriously! Tennessee government is so small it knows what your appendages are worth to you. Well thank you so much! Because the whole point of punitive damages is to be, ya know, punitive — that’s fancy-pants talk for “punishment.” Because corporate persons can’t be sent to jail, the only way you can punish them for wrongdoing is to hit ‘em in the pocketbook. And now to be more “pro-business” we have to make sure they don’t hurt too much. It kind of misses the point of being “punitive,” doesn’t it, Governor? Wait ’till one of your kids loses her uterus from drinking tainted water, then let’s talk about punitive. This shit never matters until it happens to someone important.

And yes, we even let keep their cushy tax deal, so if anyone wants to know why Nashville, Tennessee has not one bookstore selling new product (except adult bookstores, of course!), look at the behemoth who put three retailers out of business this year. And I’m sure our state legislators will get right on those adult bookstores next session.

Keep in mind, of course, that all of this pro-corporate stuff comes straight from the industry-funded ALEC, which has identical legislation in state legislatures all across the country. But if you want to still believe the fairytale that Tennessee legislators are rugged individualists who don’t take their marching orders from anyone, least of all Washington, D.C., well here’s a glass of Kool-Aid for you.

Gov. Bill Haslam has been a far worse disaster than even I could have imagined. I really thought, along with a lot of other people, that he’d be the least offensive candidate in a parade of far-right wackos and wingnuts and gold-fringed flag phobes. But not so.

Seeing every far-right, anti-citizen piece of legislation our Governor has rubber-stamped, I have to wonder how different anything would have been if we had twitchy, pro-secession Zach Wamp or boot-stompin’ “meet the Feds at the border” Lt. Gov. Ramsey instead? What exactly would have changed? We got the same crap with Haslam, passed with a goofball, aw-shucks grin, which is all the more insulting, if you ask me. It’s like he thinks we’re too stupid to know what he’s really doing. Tennessee is still a national laughingstock, thanks to our wacko legislators like Stacy (Doth Protest Too Much) Campfield, of the anti-gay jihad, and our Islamophobia and our pro-creationism in schools and all the other stuff that gets mocked on The Daily Show with regularity.

All of this has occupied our state legislature instead of what they campaigned on, which was putting Tennesseans back to work, something they’ve failed to do. Tennessee’s unemployment has actually risen during this legislative session, and while the legislature is patting itself on the back for saving $450,000 by ending the session five weeks early, you have to think the folks currently looking for work are wondering why the legislature never got around to doing anything for them.

Well, that’s unfair. We did finally commit to spending $3 million so we could get $60 million in Federal funds to extend unemployment benefits. That was a hard-fought battle, harder than it needed to be considering some counties in this state have over 20% unemployment. And unemployment benefits are a Band-aid not a solution. We need jobs. Why the hell was this not a priority for our elected representatives? Shame on them all, especially the aw-shucks-goofball-grinner-in-chief, Gov. Haslam. My contempt for you knows no bounds. Wipe that fucking grin off your face, you’ve done nothing for the people of this state. You should be ashamed of yourself. You should have been knocking heads in the legislature and telling people to cut the anti-gay, anti-Muslim crap and focus on what’s important. Instead you showed zero leadership. You’re a fraud.

Gov. Haslam, Tennesseans could use one of your silly red umbrellas right about now because it’s raining on the working people of this state and banning gays and Sharia law and abortion and allowing guns on college campuses haven’t helped. Does anyone really think that some company is looking for the most anti-gay state to locate their business? Just some CEO sitting around thinking, “where can I locate my company so I don’t have to deal with those pesky gay people?” I think not.

For that matter, stripping working people of their rights while allowing corporations to rape, pillage and plunder the state won’t help anyone, either. But see, I’ve already written about all of this.

I’ve pretty much washed my hands of Tennessee and you should, too. If you’re like my friend ChiDyke who wants to boycott the state, well, what can I say except, I understand. I don’t visit wingnutty places like Tennessee on vacation, either! I really don’t! I can’t tell you the last time I was in Florida. Oh wait, yes I can: it was in 2003, not long after the Iraq invasion, and I saw a pickup truck with “Nuke The Ragheads” spray-painted on the side. I just decided there were more progressive places with beaches deserving of my money. If that’s the way you feel, then I totally get it.

When your state legislature devotes so much time to an agenda of hate, you really can’t be surprised if people aren’t going to feel welcome here. I get that.

And I don’t know if anything is going to change. There is a black hole over the state of Tennessee drawing all the dead matter that is the heart of the Republican Party here. We are where conservatism has gone to die. I really find it hard to believe that the voters of this state care about half the shit the Legislature devoted most of its energy to but they voted for these assholes, so what can I do except say, you asked for it.


Filed under rants, Tennessee, Tennessee government

15 responses to “Do-Nothing TN Legislature

  1. Ivan Ivanovich Renko

    I was born in Nashville; I grew up there, went to school there- I cruised Hadley Park! And two weeks after I got my degree I got as far away as I could (and I mean that literally).

    Recently through the miracle of Facebook I reconnected with a lot of people I knew in high school. Most of them now think I’m a Communist revolutionary (well, the photo album with the beret, leather jacket and dark glasses didn’t help, but still) and I am just gobsmacked at (some of) their tea-bagging stupidity.

    I thought it was bad here in Ohio- but dude, you got my total sympathies.


  2. thanks, babe. i am so sorry it’s so shitty for you down there, and all i can say is that the thugs up here are trying their best to turn our state into a version of yours. i’ve said it many times, but this country is Doomed.

    that “virtual” education crap is clearly a plan to make the next generation even more stupid than this one, and even less exposed to useful or important information in favor of “edutainment” and corporate propaganda. i was just discussing this with a lover of mine who is thinking about having children and i said, “if you do, homeschool. i’ll help you design the program as that’s one of my 3.5 jobs and i know how to create a real educational curriculum, as is no longer found in most public or charter schools.” it’s a lot like how it makes me very sad that people who get online “degrees” are not aware of what they are missing out on, compared to a real educational experience. but again, it’s what our corporate masters prefer for us all, so that’s what we will get.

  3. I think that “virtual” education crap is clearly a plan by some greedy corporations to get their hands on Federal education dollars.

    But hey we won’t have to worry about that much longer since we’re all about cutitng taxes to miraculously generate jobs and eliminating the Dept. of Education in the process.

  4. This was a do-disaster legislature. A do-nothing legislature would have been better. They did one bad, ignorant thing after another. I am screaming now, screaming, while I run into the darkness……

  5. ThresherK

    We are where conservatism has gone to die.

    Now SoBe, you’ll have to do better than that.

    When jockeying for position among the “relegation spots” of state rankings, you can’t be taken seriously unless you come up with a folksy metaphor comparing your state to the next worst. (“Texas is Mississippi with good roads” is a favorite of mines, as building roads in TX is so much easier than MS.)

    • But we ARE where conservatism has gone to die. We’re the home of the Tea Party movement, we’re one of just three (or were we the ONLY? I can’t remember?) state to get MORE red after the 2008 presidential election. The black hole has centered over Tennessee and is drawing all the deep-red Republicans here. And here they will die, because demographics are not in the Republicans’ favor. The nation — the WORLD — is getting more diverse, more inclusive, and here sits stubborn ol’ Tennessee, the last bastion of white male privilege.

      • Ivan Ivanovich Renko

        Conservatism, unfortunately, will not die. From 1850 to the present day, “conservatives” are still intent on their hateful course. A high-school classmate (still a Nashvillian, of course) un-friended me on Facebook because I conflate conservatism with Confederacism and pinned the Tea Party and its associated Trumpmentum on the conservative movement. And dared mention that conservatives will never accept a black man as being competent at anything, anywhere, anytime (well, they may give one of us credit for being able to run with a football, but that’s about it).

        “I am so tired of you insulting me because I am white and not a liberal,” he said.

        Unfortunately, he’s just a typically stupid, over-privileged southern white man with delusions of intellectual ability– despite not knowing a goddamn thing about history or science or statistics or….

      • Jim

        “we’re one of just three (or were we the ONLY? I can’t remember?) state to get MORE red after the 2008 presidential election.”

        Now to be fair, several states have become more red since the 2008 election. Just reference the 2010 mid term election results.

      • But is that true? Did state legislatures get more red? I guess they did, I’m just not sure. I know some Governorships went to Republicans but did state houses that were blue go red?

      • ThresherK

        But we ARE where conservatism has gone to die.

        Part of me agrees, and part of me thinks every state in the South and rural West is still competing for the title. To fill the space left by Molly Ivins’ departure, I’m just in search of that folksy comparative.

        And as a Yankee, I won’t pretend to contruct one for anyplace but my own. A bit verbose, but: “Connecticut is New Jersey without the governor who beats his kids to look like a big man in front of his Beltway friends.”

      • Jim

        From the Huffington Post:

        “The sweep in midterm elections turned huge swaths of the Midwest and South to a solid Republican Red as the legislatures in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Alabama all came under full GOP control.”

        “The magnitude of the Republican gains at the statehouse level was stunning, said Tim Storey, an elections expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

        “It looks like they are close to a 700-seat pickup, far beyond what they did in 1994,” Storey said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s going to be the most Republican legislators in state legislatures since 1928.””

      • I couldn’t remember. Well, TN went more red in an election that everywhere else went more blue. I consider the 2010 midterms an anomaly. They were midterms, for one thing; they were characterized by a galvanized opposition and a lackadaisical Dem base. So I stand by my assessment that TN is where the conservative movement has gone to die. I don’t think 2010 will be repeated in 2012. I think everywhere, save Tennessee, we’ll see a backlash against TeaPartyism and GOP overreach.

      • Jim

        Here is some more information on the Republican gains of 2010:

        “Prior to 1994, only 16 years ago, there was not a single legislative chamber in the South with a majority of Republican members. Now, 19 chambers in the South belong to the GOP, including five which switched this year: the House and Senate in Alabama, the Louisiana House, and the House and Senate in North Carolina.

        In addition to those five chambers, 17 other chambers saw a party control change, including the Oregon House, which went from a 36-24 Democratic advantage to a 30-30 tie. On average, 13 state legislative chambers change hands in every two-year election cycle. In this cycle, the following 21 chambers all moved to the Republican column:

        Alabama House & Senate
        Montana House

        Colorado House
        New Hampshire House & Senate

        Indiana House
        New York Senate

        Iowa House
        North Carolina House & Senate

        Louisiana House
        Ohio House

        Maine House & Senate
        Pennsylvania House

        Michigan House
        Wisconsin Assembly & Senate

        Minnesota House & Senate

        Other chambers where Republicans made notable gains but fell short of winning the majority included the Arkansas House, where they added 17 seats, and the Connecticut House, where they added 15. In the Texas House, Democrats had actually hoped to win enough seats to take control, but wound up losing 24 seats in the body and now hold only 51 of the 150 total Texas House seats. The most Republican legislature is now Wyoming at 84% GOP, jumping over Utah and Idaho. Hawaii leapfrogged Rhode Island to become the most Democratic legislature and is now 87% Democrats. ”

        TN is not even in the top 3 of most Republican legislatures.

      • Yes but big deal, there were huge state gains for the Democrats in 2006. Not as big as for the GOP in 2010 but the conservative base was mobilized and the liberal base was not. Big deal. We’re a polarized country and we’re seeing huge flip flops every election.

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