Category Archives: Tennessee

What $46,000 Can Buy

Apparently, a super crappy logo:

7835634_G - Version 2

Seriously, our state government just paid $46,000 for that? Excuse me, I got so bored looking at it that I fell asleep. Someone wake me uuu… oh wow, I did it again.

This is a seriously shitty logo in every way a logo can be shitty, chief among them being it’s so generic it could be Indiana if they just added a bottom to the “T.” It also kinda looks like the LP Building Products logo, which not coincidentally the marketing company that designed the state’s new logo also represents. I wonder if they designed their logo, too. This logo is so utterly lacking in any creativity that I have to think there’s another agenda at play. Like someone’s favorite PR company needed some work to do, or some big donor’s daughter needed a class project.

I can’t imagine what was wrong with our old logo:

th

I liked this. According to Wikipedia, the three stars represent East, Middle and West Tennessee. It’s distinctive. The circle and stars is our state flag. It’s simple but we all know what it means.

So, why change what ain’t broken?

[UPDATE]:

Reaction has been swift:

CFkcaECVEAEkDlY

[UPDATE]: 2

This being the age of social media, the new logo has a Twitter account. A sample:

logoHaslam

I’ve also seen some funny logo parodies. For instance:

CFlOH6FUkAAv0XO

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Filed under Tennessee

Oh Lookie, Tennessee Grew A Terrorist & He’s Been Arrested

Oddly, I haven’t heard anything about this in our Tennessee news media, and a part of me wondered if it weren’t some weird hoax. But then, it’s Tennessee, and nobody does crazy like we do:

An American man who stood in elections for the US Congress has admitted plotting to attack a Muslim community, shooting residents and burning down a mosque.

Robert R. Doggart, 63, was arrested by the FBI before he could carry out the plan to “utterly destroy” Islamberg, a village in New York state.

Posts on his Facebook page, tapped phone calls and conversations with police sources revealed the plot to attack on 15 April, setting fire to key buildings and killing anyone who resisted with guns or machetes.

According to a plea agreement filed at the US District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doggart wrote a Facebook post in February saying: “Target 3 [Islamberg] is vulnerable from many approaches and must be utterly destroyed.”

He met several co-conspirators in different parts of the state, justifying the carnage by claiming that residents were “planning a terrorist attack”, legal documents published by Heavy said.

They planned to burn down buildings including a mosque, a school and a cafeteria, shooting anyone who tried to stop them.

In a phone call to an FBI source on 6 March, Doggart was recorded saying: “Those guys have to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better.”

He issued advice on guns, telling people to arm themselves with AR-15 and M-16 rifles.

Doggart, who ran as an independent candidate for the 4th Congressional District of Tennessee in 2014, admitted planning to carry an M4 carbine and offered to arm the FBI source with “the meanest shotgun on Earth”.

Doggart ran for Congress in 2014 to represent Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district, the seat currently heald by Scott “abortion for me but not for thee” DesJarlais. According to Ballotpedia, Doggart only got 9,238 votes. He’s apparently an engineer in the energy industry and spent 17 years with TVA.

His platform reads like your typical Fox New-watching Tea Party wackaloon:

Doggart said his platform calls for the integrity of the Constitution, the protection of the people, land and form of government by the military; fair distribution of appropriations; reversal or revision of the Roe vs. Wade court decision allowing abortion on demand; limiting immigration or amnesty to reasonable numbers supportable by the economy; and full disclosure related to the Benghazi incident.

So, you know, just your standard-issue Tennessee Republican. Off to slaughter Muslims in Islamberg, New York. Looks like Tennessee has its own home-grown terrorist now, plotting to attack a community in New York. Of course, if the local media ever does get around to reporting on this story, do you think they’ll use the “T” word? I’m thinking …. not.

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Filed under Islam, right-wing hate, Tennessee

Tennessee Out-Crazies Texas With Wingnutty Homeland Security Group

So, who is this weird “Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security” claiming it has a “mandate” from the Tennessee legislature in its fundraising letters and on its website?

The group in fundraising literature describes itself as a “non-profit publicly funded and operated body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by various acts of terrorism.”

The legislature, for its part, is distancing itself from the group, saying,

[…] the group “does not function in any official capacity.”

and,

[…] it would be “erroneous” to claim the group had been endorsed by the General Assembly.

As an side, I’m curious, what do they mean by “publicly funded and operated”? Do they get public appropriations? Or are they saying they get money from the general public? I ask because on their website they say they are,

[…] a non-profit privately funded body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by key terroist entities.

Which one is it? Privately-funded or publicly-funded? Do they even know?

I wanted to know more about this strange group that doesn’t know where its money (or mandate) comes from. Let’s ask the Great Gazoogle. Here’s a story from March of this year in which they held a private “briefing” for legislators. Their spokesperson is Jeff Hartline, the Tea Party wackaloon who unsuccessfully ran for Jim Cooper’s Congressional seat:

The group is chaired by Jonna Z. Bianco, formerly the vice president and director of the congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus.

Yes, I’ll stop you right there, buckaroo. The Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus is a delusional sci-fi conspiracy popular with the WingNut Daily crowd. As Salon.com explains it, the fear is that some Dr. Evil-type will detonate a nuclear weapon in the upper atmosphere, which:

[…] sends gamma rays flying in all directions, which produce high-energy electrons, which create an electromagnetic pulse that will damage electronic systems. According to the Federation of American Scientists, to create an EMP that would affect the entire country, the malefactor in question would have to detonate a “large device” some 400-500 kilometers over Wichita – roughly the altitude at which the International Space Station orbits earth.

Alrighty then. So maybe technically possible but realistically bullshit. So this is the group “briefing” our Tennessee state legislators in a closed-door meeting to which the media were excluded. Why am I not encouraged that the legislature is making very weak noises about not being associated with these crazies? The fact that they’re even listening to what they have to say is alarming enough. And they do seem to have found a kindred spirit in notorious Agenda 21 wackaloon Rick Womick.

From the March Nashville Post story:

Legislators said, off the record, after the closed meeting the information shared by the task force was interesting, but some details appeared taken out of context.

Hartline said aspects of the group’s message include organized crime, illegal weapons transferred in and out of the state, human trafficking, and electromagnetic pulse devices. “That’s a piece of it,” Hartline said about EMPs, “because that does present a clear and present danger to the ongoing of commerce in Tennessee.”

In 2013, state Rep. Rick Womick claimed in a legislative hearing that an electromagnetic pulse bomb was set off outside of Shelbyville, an attack local authorities said they had no record of.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

So who is Jonna Z. Bianco, this group’s “chair”? Again, to the Great Gazoogle:

Jonna Bianco is the president and founder of the American Bondholders Foundation (ABF), an organization that seeks to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable for its debt obligations to U.S. investors dating back to the first half of the 20th Century.

Ms. Bianco brings an encyclopedic understanding of this matter, and achieving liquidity for ABF’s bondholders has been her sole professional focus since 2001.

She also sits on the following related boards:

• United States Congress’s EMP Caucus “Task Force on National and Homeland Security”
• Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic)
• Prague Security Studies Institute (Washington D.C.)
• National Defense University Foundation
• Center for Security Policy (Washington D.C.)
• Tennessee Freedom Coalition (Nashville, Tennessee)

These are interesting groups. The Tennessee Freedom Coalition has been labeled an anti-Muslim hate group by the SPLC. The Center for Security Policy is Frank Gaffney’s fearmongering anti-Muslim organization. See a pattern here? The rest are some lower-tier Neocon think tanks and free-market groups operating on the fringes of the foreign policy apparatus. What’s interesting is that I couldn’t find any supporting documentation that Bianco actually sits on some of these defense boards. However, I did find this interesting lawsuit related to her work with the American Bondholders Foundation.

This “Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security” is starting to exude a strong stench of merde. Yes, kids, I’m starting to think the whole thing may be an elaborate scam. And it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a Tea Party-affiliated group was just an elaborate money-grubbing hoax.

I’m not sure we’re any clearer on who the Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security is. Quite honestly, I’m not sure even they know who they are. One thing I’ve learned about the Tea Party is that organizationally it is like a hydra that continually spawns new crazy groups with which to fleece the gullible. And that’s exactly what this group looks like: a bunch of tin-foil hat paranoiac grifters who will ultimately embarrass this state worse than Jade Helm 15 has tarnished Texas.

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Filed under Tennessee

Tennessee: Where Conservatism Has Come To Die

National conservative groups are focusing their activities (and money) on Tennessee, and I find that very odd:

Most prominent in enhanced spending are three national organizations that have dramatically expanded their Tennessee activity within the past three years:

* Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington, Va., was founded and — at least initially — mostly funded by businessmen and philanthropist brothers David and Charles Koch with the proclaimed aim of advocating for free enterprise. AFP’s Tennessee operation reported spending more than $1.1 million in Tennessee lobbying last year. AFP reported spending less than $10,000 in all prior reports filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission since it became active within the state in 2012. AFP reported no explicitly political spending, but state Director Andrew Ogles says the lobbying report covers “educational” ads that sometimes criticized or supported legislative candidates.

* The American Federation for Children, based in Washington, D.C., advocates education reforms involving “school choice” for parents. The AFC’s state organization reported spending between $75,000 and $150,000 on Tennessee lobbying in 2014 to the Ethics Commission and reported a total of $606,345 in political spending by the political action committee set up by its state affiliate, the Tennessee Federation for Children, to the state Registry of Election Finance during the 2014 election cycle, including 2013. The state PAC was launched in 2012.

* StudentsFirst, based in Sacramento, Calif., and founded by Michelle Rhee, a former District of Columbia school superintendent, also advocates expanded options for education, including school vouchers. The organization reported spending between $100,000 and $200,000 on lobbying in 2014 — plus a $13,907 reception for legislators — and reported spending of $573,917 within the state during the 2014 election cycle by its state PAC, which was launched in 2012. (Rhee was formerly married to Kevin Huffman, who served four years as Tennessee’s education commissioner.)

These groups set up shop in Tennessee fairly recently and started building a “grass roots” network of state resident members, although much of their funding still comes from outside the state — substantial chunks of money transferred from national headquarters in the case of StudentsFirst and AFC.

The article also mentions other national conservative groups actively lobbying in Tennessee, such as the National Rifle Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to lobbying, I know that all of these groups have been buying up beaucoups amount of local TV air time, too — at least in the Nashville market.

And I find this very odd. Republicans have a supermajority in Tennessee. Our legislature is as hard-right, Teanutty wackadoodle as it comes. Why do the Koch Brothers and Michelle Rhee need to set up an office here and spend over a million dollars in one year lobbying a Republican legislature already friendly to their ideas? Why devote so much time and money and energy to a state that should be a gimme? Shouldn’t they be focusing this kind of intensity on more “purple” states where they could make some headway, not a deep-red state where they’ve ostensibly won the fight?

How is this not a sign of retreat? Would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Oh, and this from the article made me laugh:

But Harwell said legislators can be trusted to look to the interests of their constituents, not of the lobbyists.

Riiight. Harwell is the one who voted “present” instead of “no” on controversial guns-in-parks legislation, even though she said “my district doesn’t want it.” Great representation, lady.

[UPDATE]:

Related: A Heartfelt Breakup Letter to Tennessee: This Is Why I’m Leaving.

Good read.

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Filed under conservatives, Tennessee

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Someone check the campaign donations to Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander and see if there are any ceiling fan manufacturers on that list:

I can’t pass this up: Tennessee must have quite the ceiling fan lobby. As we mentioned earlier this week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn has introduced measures to defund DOE’s work to improve the efficiency of ceiling fans in recent years. So, it stood out to ME that one of the bills on the ENR agenda today is one from Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to “remove the authority of the Secretary of Energy to amend or issue new energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans.”

Yes, we absolutely must have inefficient ceiling fans. Because freedom. And reasons.

BTW, wonder if Marsha was able to unload all those inefficient lightbulbs she was handing out for Christmas one year.

(h/t to Jamie in Comments)

[UPDATE]:

Ah, thanks to Joe in comments, I found this in the 2013 memory hole:

Ceiling fans: Big government, or just hot air?

While making homes more energy-efficient is a legitimate, even vital goal of federal policy, government agents aren’t about to pry inefficient fans from the ceilings of American homes. That didn’t stop Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, from pushing a measure to block any new federal energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans — or from defending that measure in overheated terms. “We’ve already seen the federal government stretch their regulatory tentacles into our homes and determine what kind of light bulbs we have to use,” Blackburn said on the House floor. “Now they’re coming after our ceiling fans. It is a sad state of affairs when even our ceiling fans aren’t safe from this administration.”

Actually, it was President Bush and a Republican Congress who called for national efficiency standards in 2005 as a way of preempting state regulations; the Department of Energy began taking steps to implement national rules this year. As well it should have: Home appliances represent a huge opportunity to reduce energy consumption, and many ceiling fans use technology that is decades old.

And for all Blackburn’s zealfor liberty, it’s also noteworthy that one of the nation’s top ceiling fan companies, Hunter Fan, is in her home state. Roll Call reported that the company has already complained about the potential costs of new rules to the Energy Department and asked for a delay “until there are further advances in fan technology.”

None of which has stopped Hunter Fans from saying all the right “green” things on its website, such as:

It’s a promise—your Hunter ceiling fan can have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

“It’s a promise”? Really? That promise is looking pretty damn empty.

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Filed under Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

Too much gun news to keep track of these days. We’ve had a couple of accidental shootings — one in a park, go figure! — and the usual craziness. Enjoy.

• April 23, 2015:

1- A Kentucky man walking in a park in Henry County accidentally shot himself in the thigh. And they said this would never happen!

A 19-year-old Calloway County man was treated at Henry County Medical Center Wednesday night for an accidental gunshot wound to the leg.

According to a report at the PPD, the Murray resident was treated at the emergency room for a gunshot wound to the upper right thigh.

The man told Henry County Sheriff’s Deputy Stacey Bostwick he had been walking across a field in the area of Paris Landing State Park that afternoon with an unfamiliar handgun at his right side.

As he walked, his finger slipped off the guard and hit the trigger, causing the weapon to fire.

The man went to a friend’s house before coming to the emergency room.

Henry County Sheriff’s Capt. Damon Lowe said this morning the shooting had been confirmed as accidental by investigators.

Freedom!

2- Gun Report Update: a Coffee County grand jury has indicted the father of a toddler who was shot in the head by his 3-year-old brother with a handgun back in March.

3- A Lincoln County 8th grader brought a gun to school.

• April 22, 2015:

A Memphis-area teenager was accidentally shot by another 18-year-old who was playing with a gun. He died.

• April 18, 2015:

In what has become a regular occurrence, there was a shooting inside a Nashville sports bar on a Saturday night. Yee haw.

• April 17, 2015:

Was it a full moon on the 17th? We’ve got a bumper crop of gun lunacy on this day.

1- Someone forgot their loaded 9mm Ruger when they tried to board a plane at Nashville International Airport. Isn’t that responsible, y’all!

And then there’s this:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A loaded gun was discovered in a traveler’s bag at the Nashville International Airport Friday morning.

According to airport officials, 20 guns have been found at the airport this year.

In 2014, a total of 48 guns were found at checkpoints.

Note the date, people. Just sayin’.

2- A Greeneville woman who was holding a gun to her own head also got charged with child endangerment for doing so with a 4-year-old in the apartment. And speaking of suicide:

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, HSPH Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Matthew Miller, Research Associate Deborah Azrael, and colleagues at the School’s Injury Control Research Center (ICRC), found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower.

3- A Clarksville man with no criminal history got into an argument with two other people and fired a gun at them in an apartment. Armed/polite, etc.

4- Armed/polite vol. 2: in Knoxville, two men got in a verbal argument and so one shot the other in the leg.

5- Gun nuts are pissed that Tim McGraw is headlining a benefit for Sandy Hook Promise, an organization formed by the families of victims of the Newtown mass shooting.

6- Too many people with too many guns who too often think pulling a gun is the answer to everything. This story’s out of Jackson:

Aaron Morgan said he and family members were gathered for a wake for his sister who passed away last week.”We out here having a good time, we out here laughing you know wasn’t nothing going on, just having a good time,” he said.

Morgan said two uninvited guest showed up and that’s when the argument started. “Somebody had drunk a little too much and asked a question like why you doing this and it started an argument,” recalled Morgan.

When he tried to get the men to leave, Morgan said that’s when he was shot. “They yell he got a gun, so when I seen it i started back pedaling and trying to get away but I slipped and when I slipped, that’s when he shot me,” he said.

Sheriff’s deputies rushed to the house on Pipkin Road around 9:30 p.m. Investigators believe alcohol played a part in the violence. Morgan agreed. “You got some people that drink, and can’t hold their liquor and they say anything at that moment,” he commented.

Yes, blame the alcohol, by all means. But if a gun hadn’t entered the mix, then things wouldn’t have escalated the way they did. But this is American gun culture. Bring a gun everywhere and by all means be sure to pull it out at every occasion.

• April 16, 2015:

The Chattanooga airport set a new record last year for the number of firearms discovered at airport security. What kind of fucking moron doesn’t know you can’t take a gun through security? For God’s sake, people. You still can’t take goddamn liquids through.

• April 13, 2015:

1- A Memphis mom with a gun in her diaper bag accidentally shot up the Bargain Hunt. Woopsies!

2- Someone fired a gun at Nashville’s West End Synagogue.

Police say they heard two stories: it fired when it fell to the floor and it fired when a child pulled it out of the bag.

Shoppers say they don’t care how it happened.

“There should be some kind of repercussions,” Joshua Braswell said. “If you’re going to carry make sure you do it safely. That could have been my kids in there”

Silly Joshua! That would give the Tennessee Firearms Assn. some big sadz and we can’t have that! Gun negligence will not be prosecuted!

• April 1, 2015:

A Shelbyville high school senior was permanently paralyzed from the wait down when a friend shot him in the back with a pellet gun:

Police said Castillo looked through the scope, pointed at his friend’s back and pulled the trigger, thinking the safety was on.

It wasn’t.

“And it struck him in the spine,” Phillips said.

Kyle Burnett, an 18-year-old high school senior, immediately lost feeling from the waist down. He was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Wednesday morning, Burnett managed to move his right foot a little, but doctors are unable to remove the pellet and said the outlook isn’t good.

“They were playing around, joking, and it may cost this guy to be paralyzed for the rest of his life,” Phillips said.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Holy Loophole

IMG_1649I just love this story: A swinger’s club which had operated without incident for years near Nashville’s oh-so-hot Gulch neighborhood was recently forced to move because of a new mega-development going in. So they were going to relocate to a building in Madison, north of town. And the good Christian folks up there got wind of it and decided they didn’t want no swingin’ sullying their neighborhood and would someone please think of the children and so the Tennessee State Legislature and the Nashville Metro Council passed laws that prevented “social clubs” from being in certain neighborhoods (small government alert!), and so now the swinger’s club is reopening as a church. Whose members all pay dues to the swinger’s club:

On paper, at least, plans have changed dramatically for a Madison property where a swingers club tried to open before city and state policymakers moved swiftly to block it.

The owners now plan to open a church — a church that honors the paid memberships from the swingers club.

The United Fellowship Center at 520 Lentz Drive will honor memberships to The Social Club, according to a member newsletter, but baseball caps, bandanas, skull caps and sagging pants won’t be tolerated.

The center was “founded on the basic belief that we are all children of the same universe,” the newsletter says. “Every individual is free to practice their religion in the manner of their choosing, as mandated by the First Amendment, so long as that expression does not impinge upon the rights or freedoms of others and is in accordance with the government’s laws.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ….

By the way, I spotted the decal above on a mailbox outside a bbq place here in town during the height of the swinger’s club controversy. I thought it was pretty funny. I just love how we’re all in favor of small government here until sex gets involved and then it’s like OMG WE GOTTA PASS A LAW. I mean honestly, I do not care what people do in their bedrooms, who (or how many) they share a bed with, who marries whom, etc. It simply is not my business. As long as it’s all consenting adults, I really would prefer to not even know about everybody else’s sex life.

I used to live in a small town in Kentucky and let me say, you would be shocked at how many of these fine Christian folks who were so downright upright were also taking trips into Nashville on the weekends to indulge in carnal entertainment. I’d place bets that some of those passing laws targeting this “social club” have indulged in a little swing time themselves.

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Filed under culture wars, Nashville, Tennessee