The Unbearable Pandering Of Gov. Haslam

Hey Gov. Haslam: You know what else is higher in Tennessee than the national average? Unemployment. When are you and your fellow Republicans going to get us some damn jobs in this state?

Gov. Haslam’s broad plan to lower crime focuses on prevention
Multi-pronged plan aims to make Tennessee’s crime rate plummet

Citing Tennessee’s record of higher-than-average crime, Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday released a plan to increase penalties for certain violent crimes, tamp down on drug offenses and revamp how felons are supervised in the state.

“While we’ve seen an improvement, Tennessee continues to have a violent crime rate that’s above the national average and that none of us find acceptable,” Haslam said. “This plan not only addresses many of the underlying factors that lead to crime in our state, it takes a comprehensive approach to addressing public safety issues.”

The plan focuses on three broad areas: reducing prescription and methamphetamine drug abuse, decreasing violent crime and cutting the rate at which criminals commit new crimes. It aims to do so through new legislation calling for tougher penalties for gang and drug-related crimes, new administrative moves, an increasing reliance on alternatives to prison and the shifting of some 66,000 felons from the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole to the Department of Correction.

Let’s just call this what it is: blatant pandering to Corrections Corp. of America. I mean c’mon, crime is actually down in the state — as it is nationally. So fearmongering about “crime” might be a good diversionary tactic, but those of us who actually read the damn news aren’t buying it.

Here’s a news flash:

• The TBI announced last year that crime was down for the third year in a row.

• Looking at the past 10 years, the TBI found violent crime rates are at their lowest level, hate crimes are down 50% and property crimes are down 9%. Not surprisingly, credit card fraud is up 135%.

• 2011 marked Nashville’s lowest murder rate in 45 years, with “just” 51 murders recorded. That’s the lowest since 1966, when there were 49 murders.

“Crime” is the lazy politicians’ gambit because it plays into the general fear that crime is “out of control” in our communities (it’s not) and “getting tough on crime” is the kind of thing that everyone is for. I mean, it’s like saying you think puppies are cute and trees are pretty in autumn. Oooh score one for Gov. Haslam! Way to roll up your sleeves and tackle the tough issues!

I called bullshit on this idiocy when then-candidate Haslam released his ridiculous “how can we EVER reduce crime in Tennessee” campaign ad. I wrote then:

These are nice agenda items of the industry-funded ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, which I wrote about here.) I’m sure Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America approves of that message, hell they paid for it. It’s also a nice little dog whistle that plays into peoples’ fears and the “conventional wisdom” that we live in a crime infested land filled with bogey men who want to steal your white women and your flat-screen TV. The fact that crime has been dropping across the state (and the nation) for the past few years is a little inconvenient for this message. Oh well, don’t let facts stand in the way of some fun little pandering.

And of course, Haslam has done more than just pander to CCA, miraculously “finding” $31 million that we apparently don’t have for TennCare or education to keep CCA’s Hardeman County Correctional Facility open. It’s a miracle, I tells ya!

Gov. Haslam, you’re a fraud. You mouth pablum about crime in our state while handing taxpayer money over to the corporate cronies who funded your campaign. But stuff that’s important to people — stuff that’s hard to do, like bringing jobs to our state — forget it. You’ll just pretend the unemployed are lazy and call it a day.

Pretty damned contemptible, if you ask me.

1 Comment

Filed under Bill Haslam, CCA, Tennessee

One response to “The Unbearable Pandering Of Gov. Haslam

  1. Randy

    “You’ll just pretend the unemployed are lazy and call it a day.” Or, in the alternative, have them arrested and placed at CCA so they can get their per diem.