Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sock It to Me

Ever read one of those news-of-the-weird stories about a guy caught smuggling 14 live birds in his pants and thought, “how??”

Well, Smoking Gun has the photo to answer that question:

Joe the Backstabber

The GOP's Cindy Sheehan strikes again:

Joe the Plumber, tells TIME he's so outraged by GOP overspending, he's quitting the party

Like Sheehan, he may have been a bold voice once, but now he's all ego and self-righteousness. Hopefully, he'll keep stabbing the Republicans in the back for years to come.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beware ManSheepMonkey!

Japanese scientists are growing monkey organs on sheep -- but they have a really good reason, I promise!

They’re trying to learn how to grow human organs on sheep for transplants, including hearts, livers, pancreases, and skin. Pretty cool, huh? Thousands and thousands of lives saved.

All thanks to the horror of stem cells.

(Too bad none of these stem cell breakthroughs ever happen in the US. Hopefully, that’s about to change.)

"Party of No" Tries to Block Election Reform in Tennessee

The law says Tennessee has to switch to paper ballots by 2010. Not so fast, says Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville). They’ve got a bill to postpone paper ballots for cost reasons.

Today, the TNDP issued a press release calling on Tennessee to stick to the original plan:

"It's true that the economy has forced everyone to cut back," [TNDP Chair Chip] Forrester said. "And I recognize that our county commissioners are concerned about the cost of implementing [paper ballots]. But the new optical scan machines will be paid for by $25 million in federal funds from the Help America Vote Act. Plus, other states report that switching from DREs to paper ballots actually saves money in the long run."

Does this issue have traction in Tennessee?

It gets the Democrats riled up, that’s for sure. Yeah, I know paper ballots are less easy to tamper with and vital for recounts. And I support them wholeheartedly. But I worry that people who bring up the issue look like conspiracy nuts and parties that bring up the issue look like they’re making excuses for losing.

But who cares about the issue! That’s not what’s important here! The law is already signed and on the books. And once again the Republicans are being the party of “no,” trying to stand in the way.

That’s the message. That’s the opportunity. That’s what the TNDP needs to be saying. This is a great time to point out that Republicans do nothing but stand in the way.

Unfortunately, the TNDP press release doesn’t go that direction at all. Too bad.

Take the headline:

TNDP Calls for Implementation of the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act

Sounds like a chapter title in the most boring text book ever. Who knows what the “Tennessee Voter Confidence Act” is? No one, so keep it out of the headline.

How about this:

Don’t Let Republicans Block Fair Elections in Tennessee

Now that’s a headline that makes you wonder what it’s about. Don’t want to get that “in your face”? Try this:

The “Party of No” Strikes Again in Tennessee

See, you don’t even have to mention elections or voters or laws or anything like that. You just have to intrigue the reader.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tennessee Taxpayers Get a Bailout (Along with Everyone Else)

Not a fan of the stimulus? Consider this:

State and local governments collected 2.9% less in tax money in Q1 of this year than in Q1 of 2008. Fortunately, the federal government stepped in to bail them out.

Thanks to quick bursts of stimulus money from Washington, the total cash available to state and local governments is 1.6% more than the first quarter of last year. Not quite enough to keep up with inflation, but still a huge help. Without the stimulus, the states would be in a deep, deep mess.

Thank goodness we are one nation, indivisible. And thank goodness the Republicans didn’t get to stand in the way.

With the dramatic upswing in money from Washington and downturn in various tax revenues, federal funds are now the biggest individual source of income for state governments for the first time ever.

Another interesting tidbit from the same article:

State sales tax revenues are down 2% nationwide because of the economic crisis.

But state income tax revenues are down 11%.

I still believe an income tax is a stronger, fairer system but I'm not going to close my eyes (or my blog) to interesting facts just because they're inconvenient to my position.

Free Money for Mad Scientists

90 per cent of the projects might fail, and there might even be the odd charlatan trying to apply for a grant.

But if 10% succeed, wow! It’ll be worth every penny. Especially since it’s Bill Gates’s money, not mine. Hit the link to see all the wacky, zany science that just might save your life some day.

More Reasons to Eat Chocolate

Uncle Sam is willing to shell out $4,500 for your brand new car. That’s the new plan President Obama worked out with Democrats in the House today. You just have to trade in an old gas-guzzler for a nice, modern gas-saving model.

And might I suggest one that runs on Willie Wonka’s trash?

Scientists today unveiled a racecar that can go 145 miles per hour on the vegetable oils and chocolate waste that candy manufacturers call garbage.

Conservative Humor

Think this is funny?

Then check out this.

Yeah, it’s about as funny as Columbine jokes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cute Overload

It's a bunny and a piglet, and they're best friends.

Many more pictures here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Now That’s What I Call Science! Vol. 1

[Researchers at Harvard University] searched the internet site Youtube for videos of animals dancing to music - including parrots, dogs and cats.

From more than 1,000 videos, they found evidence that 14 species of parrot and one species of elephant can move in time to music. Chimpanzees, dogs and cats appeared to have no sense of rhythm. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

“For a long time, people have thought that the ability to move to a beat was unique to humans,” added Dr Schachner. “After all, there is no convincing evidence that our closest relatives, chimpanzees and other apes, can keep a beat, and there is similarly no evidence that our pet dogs and cats can line up their actions with a musical beat.”

Yeah, so, for my research, I'm gonna, like, watch a bunch of YouTube videos of, like, animals and stuff, and see if they can, like, dance or whatever.

There's Nothing We Can't Face... Except for Bunnies

Showjumping rabbits are a real thing. Who knew?

Uh-oh, looks like we might have to deduct some points for knocking down one of the bars...

More a-freakin-dorable photos here.

Okay, Here's the Plan...

What’s the Republican game plan for winning back the Senate? We now have the answer. The NRSC just threw its cards on the table for everybody to see.

In fact, Sen. Lamar Alexander was shouting it out with a bullhorn in yesterday’s press release when he said:

Yesterday a member of our Republican side moved his desk to the other side, potentially giving that side of the aisle 60 votes and raising the prospect that we would have no check and balance on one-party rule – the genuine risk of what de Tocqueville called ‘tyranny of the majority.’

(emphasis mine)


And in addition, there is the prospect of no check and balance on one-party rule, which risks what the perceptive young Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, said in the early 1800s was the greatest threat to the new American Democracy: the ‘tyranny of the majority.’"

Of course, I didn’t realize that what I was hearing was the NRSC’s exciting new 2010 strategy until I heard pretty much the same catch phrases from NRSC head Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX):

the complete absence of any checks and balances in Washington could have a significant impact on next year's midterm elections.


...the dangerous ramifications of unbridled, one-party rule in Washington. Come November 2010, this may ultimately be viewed as a positive development in the Republican Party's climb back to power.

Think I’m putting two and two together and getting twenty? Nope, Sen. Cornyn assures us in plain, straight-forward English that this is, in fact, the big plan:

This is a message our Senate candidates will carry across our great country as we work to rebuild the Republican Party in November 2010.

Good luck with that.

Yes, it’s true that voters often check the power of the executive branch by putting the other party in charge of the legislative branch, or vice versa, but it’s not because they consciously think, “Hey, I’m going check the power of the executive branch by putting the other party in charge of the legislative branch.”

You can't just say "vote for me because I'm in the opposite party" and expect to win. You actually have to play out the election scenario that leads to that outcome, not just announce it as a reason in and of itself.

It's just as ridiculous as if the Republicans strategy was to straight out say, "vote for us because it's an off-year election and the Democrats hold the White House." That's what voters usually do for a variety of reasons, but not because they actually say to themselves, "you know what, I'm going to vote for the party that doesn't hold the White House."

I should also point out that the NRSC strategy is essentially to tell the voters that they’ve been having their way a little too much and it’s time to let Republicans stand in their way.

I wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue this strategy right up until election day. But they couldn’t really be that stupid, could they?

PS: Great big hat tip to Whiskey Fire for collecting those Cornyn quotes -- and for pointing that’s not what "checks and balances" means. It’s all about the three branches of government keeping each other in check, not the two political parties.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

Lamar Alexander is quickly losing his faith in democracy. It seems the voters picked too many politicians from one political party. Bad voters!! It’s all your fault!

According to Alexander’s latest press release, those stupid voters are “raising the prospect that we would have no check and balance on one-party rule – the genuine risk of what de Tocqueville called ‘tyranny of the majority.’”

(He even uses that phrase four separate times including the title)

Let me give you a clue on this one, Senator, since you clearly don’t have one. When the overwhelming majority of voters choose the other side, it’s not the voters’ fault. It’s not even the Democrats’ fault. It’s all on you.

You see, in America, you don’t get to lead because you really, really want to or because you’re so darned sure you’re right. You actually have to convince the voters that you’re right. And you failed. Miserably. In fact, you chased them right into the arms of the other party.

You want more control over Congress? Earn it. Go win some seats back. We’ll have elections next year and two years after that. Don’t just sit there and whine that the other side keeps winning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Republicans Are Willing to Believe the Most Stupid, Disgusting Things

That whole “Matthew Shepherd was killed for being gay” thing is just a hoax, says U.S. Rep Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

Best Burger in Tennessee

The Food Network names the best burger in each of the 50 states. If you didn’t guess that Tennessee’s is Rotier’s, you must be new around here. I ate there just last night. So freaking good.

Watch Your Stories. It's Good for You.

TV shows make you happy. Science says so.

Study participants felt down when asked to recount real-life moments of social rejection, but they perked right back up again when asked to recount their favorite TV episodes and characters. Who cares if one's real and one's fake? Not your brain.

Might I suggest Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Seasons three, five, and six are the best. Also try Sports Night.

"National Park" Goes Missing

Okay, I thought this was funny. Here’s the latest headline from Gov. Bredesen’s website:

Governor Bredesen Attends the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains

And those Bible-hating scientists say mountains take millions of years to create. I knew we couldn't trust them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Been to the Mountaintop

The Golden Girl gets answers on the issues:

This morning I received an email from Ward Cammack spokesman Mark Brown, who assures me that Cammack will ban mountaintop removal mining as Governor. It's a high priority for him and he will work to get an outright ban through the General Assembly.

She also has a rant well worth reading on the governor's race and what it means to be a Democrat in Tennessee.

"Leans Republican"

Swing State Project rates the 2010 Tennessee Governor’s race as “Leans Republican” with this review:

Democrats have been slowly losing their downballot grip on Tennessee over the past decade; Republicans now have outright control of the state Senate, and are more or less tied with Dems in the House. With Phil Bredesen term-limited out of the governor's office, both the Dem and GOP fields are large, but they also both lack serious star-power. For the Dems, former State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan, state Sen. Roy Herron, businessman Ward Cammack and beer distributor Mike McWherter (son of former Governor Ned) are in the hunt, while Congressan Zach Wamp, Memphis DA Bill Gibbons, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey round out the GOP field. Based on Tennessee's recent trend, we have to give the early edge to the GOP, but it's not an insurmountable one.

We're #1 (for #2)

Nashville hotel's bathroom named best bathroom in the U.S.

Dude, I have totally been in that bathroom, and yes, it totally rocks.

Of Course I'll Still Go See It Anyway

Okay, I admit I was excited about the new Wolverine movie. But then I saw the commercial where Ryan Reynolds swings his ninja sword and cuts in half a bullet that’s flying at his head so that the two halves of the bullet kill two bad guys standing behind him.

This may be the stupidest movie ever.

58 + Specter + Franken = 60!

Looks like Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is going to abandon the Republican Party and caucus with the Democrats. I think Lamar should be next...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do You Hate Your Co-Workers?

The Hill polled our current 99 Senators about who is the easiest and hardest person to work with on the other side of the aisle.

Strangely, Lamar Alexander ranked high on both lists.

When the votes were counted, five Democratic Senators named Alexander among the most bipartisan, putting him in a tie for #12.

But he scored much higher on the bad side – being ranked the #5 most partisan.

Bob Corker, despite his grandstanding in the auto industry bailout, got six votes for being bipartisan, tying for #8 with Arlen Specter (R-PA), among others.

Stay Civil

Speaking of gay marriage, I recently had the chance to raise the issue with two Democrats running for governor in 2010.

First, Ward Cammack talked about the importance of civil unions to provide gay couples with equivalent rights under the law as heterosexual married couples. He then volunteered his ardent support for adoption rights for gay couples.

In a seperate conversation, former State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan came up with a similar answer, espousing* civil unions as something Tennesseans might accept because gay marriage was a bridge too far around here. Then I asked her about adoption rights and got a very personal reply. McMillan herself is adopted and couldn’t care less if an adoptive couple is gay or straight so long as they’ll provide a loving home.

So no distance between the candidates there, but good to know where they stand.

*Take time to appreciate my clever use of language.

Two Horsemen Arrive South of the Border

First swine flu and now earthquakes… what, did they just legalize gay marriage in Mexico City or something?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What, Not All Government Is Evil?

The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has way too long of a name. They also have a list of the top 50 spiffy “government innovations” of 2009.

Two are from Tennessee!
Creating Homes Initiative
State of Tennessee
Tennessee’s Creating Homes Initiative combines state leadership, regional housing development/funding experts, and local partnerships to develop affordable, supportive homes for people with mental illness. Since 2000, $250,000,000 has been leveraged, resulting in the development of 7,200 housing units.

Higher Education Initiative
City of Kingsport, TN
The Higher Education Initiative revitalized an ailing economy in the northeastern Tennessee city of Kingsport by improving the overall education level of its labor force.

Very cool.

So what’s this “government innovations” list all about? According to the website:

The Innovations in American Government Awards was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness. The awards program acts as a significant force in restoring public trust in government by promoting public sector creativity and excellence.

Willie or Won't He?

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to primary a fellow Democrat in the 2010 Congressional race, taking on incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen.

No word yet what issues Herenton has with Cohen's performance in Congress, but statements from both men can be found here. I'm sure the immediate speculation is that Herenton (an African American) thinks he can knock off the white guy in a predominently black district, but I'm not jumping to conclusions.

You can pencil me in on the Cohen side of this one. Even though I consider Cohen a bit of a kook, I don't see any reason to oust him yet.

UPDATE: TNDP Chairman Chip Forester just commented on this issue on a conference call with bloggers. He said there's "not any clarity that Mayor Herenton will be challenging Steve Cohen" and attributed all the speculation to an "offhanded comment" by the Mayor.

I understand why the party chairman wants to skirt this issue for now so I'll cut him some slack, but according to The Memphis News, Herenton issued the statement in writing and "has formed an exploratory committee to run for Congress in the 2010 elections."

Still, let's keep our fingers crossed that Chip is right. Hopefully this will all turn out to be nothing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Do You Pronounce "Gliese"?

Scientists have found a planet only 1.9 times the size of Earth around a star only 20.5 lightyears away! Even a competing group of planet hunters calls this "the most exciting discovery" yet in the search for new worlds.

Dude, Where's My Warrant?

Five-four decisions are nothing new for this Supreme Court, but since when are those five Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, plus Scalia and Thomas? Very strange.

The five majority judges agreed that cops don’t have blanket authority to search your car just because you happen to be in your car when they arrest you. In other words, if you’re busted for driving without a license, they can’t search the car randomly looking for any other violations such as possession of marijuana.

However, the cops still can search your car if they think there might be evidence related to the offense at hand--presumably meaning that if you’re getting arrested for DUI then they can still search the car for booze (and bust you for anything else they find in the process).

I’m not sure where I come down on this issue. Obviously it’s a weird and confusing one to split the Justices like that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Can Has Antz?

Wanna see an aardvark in a purple sweater? Click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yea, Obama!!

President Barack Obama has accomplished at least one task that had appeared all but impossible just a year ago: He's put The Dead back on the road.

Oh noes!! Zombeez!!

Boo, Obama!!

President Obama is wussing out stem cell research, allowing federal funding only for research involving embryos from fertility clinics rather than those created specifically for scientific research. This is the same plan favored by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN).

Granted, it’s a hell of a lot better than President Bush’s policy to only allow research on existing lines of stem cells and no new ones whatsoever.

But there are important reasons why scientists want to clone embryos for stem cells for scientific research, which apparently Obama will not allow funding for. Among them, scientists want the stem cell DNA to exactly match patients to avoid rejection and other problems.

This is a big disappointment, Mr. President.

Pilot School

The scripts to a ton of TV pilots, both made and unmade. Very cool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Enjoy Retirement, John!

You will be missed!!

What could you do with $676?

I don’t know about you, but $676 is a big deal to me. It’s a huge chunk of change. It’ll feed me for a month and a half. It’ll gas up my tank for six months. It’s five days in Florida this summer.

It’s real money that would make a big difference to most Americans.

But to the TNGOP, it’s chump change. It’s meaningless. They think “most Americans” don’t need it or want it or couldn’t do anything with it.

Here’s the deal – According the TNGOP itself, the “Obama tax credit” is worth $676 “to most Americans, this year.”

Of course they try to hide that fact with a little math. They take that $676 and break it down to “$13 per week,” which they scoff at and ridicule.

Well, sorry, I’m not an idiot. I can handle a little multiplication. $13 x 52 weeks. That’s $676 this year, and that’s not meaningless to most Americans.

And if you don’t get that, no wonder the Republican Party keeps losing elections.

But hey, thanks for pointing out that Obama just cut taxes for most Americans. Please keep pointing that out.

That's Backwards, Morons!

Like so much else in life, the TNGOP has it backwards. Check out their whiny, lame, black-and-white bumper sticker:

That's the TNGOP version. Apparently they expect a lot of local Republicans are getting free mortgages from the government and want to brag about it.

The real version of the bumper sticker looks like this:

See the difference?

Isn't that Special

12% of Metro-Nashville students have been declared “special needs,” but only 1% of non-English speaking students get that designation. Clearly the school system is failing to properly test and diagnose “special needs” in non-English speaking kids. The Nashville City Paper looks at why.

(Just ignore the obnoxious stock photo that goes with the online version of the story.)

As Goes Vermont...

Wildly unpopular New York Gov. David Paterson (D) announced today he’s going to re-introduce legislation to legalize gay marriage in the Empire State, just like they did in Vermont. The exact same bill stalled in the New York legislature in 2007.

Someday it’ll be Tennessee’s turn. Not someday soon, unfortunately, but someday.

You Don't Say

Where the Boys Aren't

Reproduction without sex is fairly common in the ant world, but the Mycocepurus smithii is the first known to be a male-free species. The phenomenon takes the stress out of finding a mate and may help keep the peace in colonies, the scientists believe.

And this isn't some tiny, obscure species of ant in a neglected corner of the rainforest. These little guys, er, girls run the length of South America from Panama to Argentina.


A stem-cell repair technique that has already been used to fix hundreds of injured race horses is to be tested for the first time in people with damaged Achilles tendons.

This one doesn't involve embryonic stem cells so no controversy here, just good news.

Oh Ship

Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.

Full story.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hypocrisy (Lamar vs. the Stimulus, Pt. 3)

“As I listened to the president I thought he wanted to change the way Washington works,” he says. “[We should] talk to one another and come up with something that both Republicans and Democrats agree on, not just, ‘we won the election, we will write the bill, and see if we can pick off two or three senators.’”

The hypocrisy of a Republican saying “hey, he promised he wasn’t going to do things the way we did things” aside, no, wait, let’s take a second to focus on the hypocrisy of a Republican saying, “hey, he promised he wasn’t going to do things the way we did things.”

Besides which, it’s total bull.

Every Republican that wanted a seat at the table got one. Democrats were cutting things out of the stimulus bill right and left every day, just to accommodate Republicans. The bill is 40% tax cuts to start with, just to accommodate Republicans. That $15,000 incentive to buy a new house? Just to accommodate Republicans.

It’s your fault if you didn’t join in on the fun. But you decided to play the obstructionist. And at the end of the day, no matter what the Democrats did, the Republican refuse to acknowledge that Democrats were doing any compromising at all.

Was it because there’s no political advantage for Republicans to sign onto a bill the American people would associate 100% with President Obama anyway? Especially when it’s not a silver bullet anyway?

You could have put your fingerprints all over it if you wanted to, Senator. The changes were coming fasts and furious. But you didn’t want to.

But the deficit! (Lamar vs. the Stimulus, Pt. 2)

“There is no doubt about the fact that it increases our national debt,” he says. “The debt is not some abstract thing. Our national debt is $10.7 trillion.”

Okay, deficit spending is bad. I’m with you there, Senator. I consider myself a huge national debt hawk.

But raising that argument right now is kind of like arguing for water conservation when the house is on fire. You’ve been in the Senate for six years now supporting George W. Bush; you’re one of the ones who was playing with the matches.

Short-Term Thinking (Lamar vs. the Stimulus, Pt. 1)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) raises some good points about the Stimulus Bill but comes up with the wrong answers.

“It borrows an unprecedented amount of money – $1.2 trillion – spent mostly on projects that don’t create jobs in the near term,” he says. And he defines the near term as “in the next few months.”

Okay, the sooner the better on job creation, sure. I’m with you there, Senator.

But we’re going to need those new jobs in six months or a year, too, unless you’ve got a magic wand to wave. This economic catastrophe isn’t going away any time soon. Long-term thinking is a good thing.

If you’ve got a stimulus idea that’ll generate jobs in a matter of weeks, I’m sure the Democrats would love to throw it in there! At least they would have last week, but you let that train leave the station – not them. You’ve got a phone, Senator. You get yourself involved.

Listen, I know you can’t wait for 12 months to pass so you can turn around and pretend the 2009 economy was all Obama’s fault. We all know it’s coming. Whatever, that’s politics. But in the meantime, stop whining and get to work!

If it takes several months to stimulate job growth (and it does), then we better get cracking now! It’s not like the Democrats deliberately left out projects that cause immediate job growth. They just didn’t limit themselves purely to short-term goals.

And thank goodness! There’s no way to dig our way out of George W. Bush’s mess(es) in just a few months. You know it, I know it.

But I’ll make you a deal… We’ll still let you blame Obama a year from now even if you don’t act totally worthless now.

I promise!

Almost Worth the Money

Are you a card-carrying member of the Tennessee Republican Party? Well then you’re not a real Republican, dammit! Real Republicans who love America give $25 to the state party in exchange for one of these nifty cards you can keep in your wallet:

Membership cards. Just another way the TNGOP creeps out moderates.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Give the Order, Mr. President

No Executive Order on stem cells yet, but this is encouraging.

27 Days Too Many

The Tennessee Republican Party held the majority of both houses of the state legislature for 27 days until they voluntarily abandoned their one-seat majority and their claim on the Speaker's chair this morning.

Some would argue that the Speaker, one Rep. Kent Williams (I-Carter County), actually abandoned the party first in everything but name only. Well, okay, kind of.

Either way, it's nice to see 49-49-1 rather than 50-49.

There's a lesson to be learned here, and the TNGOP won't, which is why I don't mind spelling it out to them. If the moderates don't feel comfortable in your party, your days in power are numbered. (I never would have guessed that number was 27, but so much the better.) Driving out Williams for his impurity is more symbolic than the TNGOP will ever realize.

Good thing for the Democrats that Republicans think it's a moral failing to honestly wonder, "How did it come to this?"

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Still Don't Get It

Maybe, maybe, if I understood how you could think an $600 million tax cut to the auto industry would stimulate the industry, the economy, job creation, and apple pie, but spending $600 million on American cars wouldn’t stimulate anything or create any jobs, then maybe I could understand how Republicans view the economy.

But I’m pretty doggone happy I can’t.

Here’s the deal, guys – selling products is good. It’s important to the economy. It’s helps people keep their jobs. There’s nothing better that can happen, economically speaking. Even tax cuts.

And, heck, it’s good for the federal government, too. They actually get some nice cars out of it. It’s not just a handout. Pretty cool, huh?

Too bad Rep. Marsha Blackburn doesn’t get it.

Chip In - Victory!

Via R. Neal at

At close of business Eastern time (and the unofficial offical end of the blogathon), here are the totals:

Page views: 1,671
Donors: 92
Total: $3,640.40

And it's still #1 on the ActBlue front page Hot Pages list.


Secretary Bredesen

Is Gov. Phil Bredesen a good choice for HHS? Eh, I’ve never thought of Bredesen as a big change/bold thinking kind of guy. He’s an excellent steward of government, I think, but not much of a visionary. If Obama really wants dramatic reform of the American healthcare system (and hope he does!), Bredesen is not the guy.

I heard Bredesen speak at a medical convention a couple of years ago, and he was fine. Solid but not inspiring. The one speaker at that conference who really impressed me was Colin Powell. I know healthcare isn’t his field, but if Powell is on board with Obama’s healthcare plan, then the President should give the general a good, long look. Just think how much pull Powell has with independents and moderate Republicans. The PR value of putting him in charge of the reform effort would be huge. Plus, the guy is brilliant and capable.

So, Mr. President, if you’re reading this, and you know you are, think about it.

Nice to Hear from You!

Wow – the new guy already has more news announcements up on the revamped TNDP website than the old crew had in the past three months.

The most prominent message they’ve pitching right now is that they want your ideas. They’ve set up an email address just for that purpose ( and you’ll find it everywhere on the new website.

Keep up the great work, guys.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

About That Stimulus Bill

“As it stands, there are no new jobs in this bill, no new ideas, just new spending.”

So says my U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Let’s compare that to reality:

The White House released figures Wednesday saying the package would boost employment in every state, including saving or creating 75,000 jobs in Tennessee over two years.

But you don’t trust the government, do you? Bunch of liberals.

David Penn, a Middle Tennessee State University economist, said the Obama administration's projection seems achievable.

But you don’t trust economists, do you? Bunch of liberals.

Gregory Brown, who teaches economics at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn., considers the White House estimate of jobs a conservative one. He expects the stimulus to save at least 100,000 jobs over the two-year period and create another 25,000 to 30,000 positions.

But you don’t trust academics, do you? Bunch of liberals.

Still, a number of business and industry leaders in Tennessee laud Obama's stimulus concept as a way to create jobs and head off an even deeper economic crisis, reports the Tennessean.

But you don’t trust the media, do you? Bunch of liberals.

Well, damn, I guess the only people left to trust is Marsha Blackburn herself. So lets see what she says just two sentences later in the same press release:

Included in the new spending; is $600 million to buy new cars for government workers, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, and $335 million for STD education and prevention.

Um, Congressman? Who’s gonna make those cars? Who’s gonna sell those cars? Who’s gonna ship them to Washington? What about the artists and art supply stores and art supply manufacturers and museum owners, etc.? What about the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies and printing companies that get to print out all those clymedia brochures?

Yeah, that money doesn’t just vanish, Congressman -- IT GOES INTO THE ECONOMY!! And even if your whining made any sense, which it doesn’t, you’re only talking about 0.118% of the bill. Is that really the best you’ve got?

(Why the heck is there a semi-colon in that last Marsha Blackburn snippet? But who cares what grammar teachers say anyway. Bunch of liberals.)

If There's a Problem, Yo, I'll Solve It

Check out the Tennessee Democratic Party's homepage today!

Yeah, that's the Chipster's signature! These new guys see a problem and they actually fix it! I like this new approach!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

How lucky you are is closely tied to how observant you are, according to a scientific study. Two groups of people were given a newspaper and told to tell the researcher how many photos were in it. One group was full of people who claim they’re generally pretty lucky, and the other group said they were generally unlucky. Neither group knew that the newspaper contained a message in large print saying, “Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $50.”

The people who considered themselves lucky were much more likely to notice the secret message and collect the $50. Luck has a lot to do with spotting unexpected opportunities.

Trivia: Dirty Harry never actually said, “Do you feel luck, Punk?”


$16 away.

And it's the #2 hottest page on ActBlue today!

Don't Give Me No Sass(er)

Okay, I’m lovin’ the lovefest over Chip Forrester and everything, but I’ve just gotta laugh at this.

On the front page of the Tennessee Democratic Party website is the speech given by the Chipster after his election to party chair. And it’s signed “Gray Sasser, Chairman.”

Dudes!! Get your shit together!

Chipster: TNGOP "Racist" and "Liars"

Damn. The new guy doesn't hold back.

Finally, I want to put the Republican Party on notice. The Democratic Party will no longer sit quietly by while the Republican Party runs racist, demagogic falsehoods against our values, our principles, and our candidates as they did this year against President Barack Obama, Nathan Vaughn, and other legislative candidates. When you lie about our candidates, our office holders, we are going to call you out as liars. There is no place in politics for such conduct. Robin Smith, Jason Mumpower, Bill Hobbs, and Chip Saltsman I tell you now: You are put on notice. As Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party I will not stand by and see this happen without a full frontal attack on the racist, smear tactics that you have used in these past campaign. Decent men and women in Tennessee are demeaned by your racist bigoted attacks and I will not stand for it and neither will the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Does he mean it? Here's hoping!

Blame Obama

The company I work for has just about 100 employees. Or it did until last week, when just over one-in-ten of them were shown the door.

Fortunately I survived the layoff. Two people on my hall didn’t. Two more people I worked with pretty much every day are gone as well.

Marketing agencies often grow and shrink with the economy, but this time I didn’t see the layoffs coming. Neither did most of the people that got the axe. Work had been slowing down, but we hadn’t experienced the sudden, major downturn that usually precedes a layoff. It’s just that things kept slowing and slowing until it all added up.

Apparently the bosses had been holding off on things until after Christmas… both to spare people until after the holidays and hoping against hope that things might suddenly turn around in time. No such luck.

The layoff happened on Obama’s watch, so it’s Obama’s fault. Or at least statistically speaking it counts against him.

Oddly enough, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so busy at work. It’s not because I’m picking up work from the people who are gone, but just because my clients happen to be particularly active right now. That’s the main reason I’ve been unable to post anything on the Planet lately. Never a spare second when I’m at my desk.

Just when I finally build up a regular audience larger than the number of people I can guess the names of, that’s when I suddenly go a week and a half without an update. I hope all those would-be readers find their way back here.


Wow – $1,000 in just over four hours?

Almost $2,000 in eight?

The progressive blogosphere has more power (and credit cards) than I thought. A big congratulations to R. Neal at for pulling this together! He’s the brains behind the big “Chip In” effort that all the local lefty blogs are getting in on.

It’s all to show support for new Tennessee Democratic Party chair Chip Forrester. Okay, it’s mostly for that, but also a little bit about getting his attention. Bloggers are chopping at the bit around here. Chipster needs to harness that enthusiasm.

We’re ready to cheer on the TNDP if the TNDP is ready to do something worth cheering about. So how ‘bout it, Chip? Let’s start kicking some ass!

This is the first time I’ve ever donated directly to the state party. Chip, you can thank R. Neal for that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sen. Alexander Backstabs Hutchison

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 today. He calls the bill a bailout for the trial lawyer industry.

That’s cute. In reality, it guarantees women access to the courts if they’re unfairly getting paid less than male co-workers.

Both Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker are hiding behind Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s amendment to the bill, which would’ve set a 180-day time limit for women to file a lawsuit after they discover pay inequality.

“I fully support Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,” says Alexander.

One problem -- today Hutchison voted FOR the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, even without her amendment.

Oops. Sorry, Sen. Alexander. No political cover for you.

When her amendment failed, Hutchison voted with the Democrats rather than allow the law stand as is.

That’s called putting your country above your party.

Alexander and Corker couldn’t be bothered to do that. They’d rather let a bad law stand. It took them less than 24 hours to go from “fully supporting” Hutchison to accusing her of voting to bail out trial lawyers. Ouch.

Here’s my position – It’s a bad idea to knowingly block legitimate lawsuits out of fear of frivolous ones. Also, if the Lilly Ledbetter Act does turn out to spur frivolous lawsuits (which is pure partisan speculation at this point), you can always add a time limit later. The worst possible solution would be to just leave the bad law on the books.

Kudos to Hutchison for understanding that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I'm calling it! 11 precincts left and an 9,000+ margin = defeat for English Only!

It's not even close!

Nothing but Reruns

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) continues to waste time filing pointless bills in Congress.

H.R. 378 demands a 1% across-the-board spending cut on everything but defense and homeland security. H.R. 377 makes it 2%. H.R. 381 makes it 5%.

Congressman Blackburn has introduced these bills during each of her three previous terms, she brags in a recent press release.

Well, thanks for nothing, Congressman! You’ve failed all three times on all three bills already, and now you’re going for a fourth. What is the point to this crap?

First off, if she were serious, she’d pick a damn number and fight for it. She’d have one bill and a strong argument for it. Instead, she takes the file-it-and-forget-it approach. They exist with her name on it, and that’s good enough.

These bills are going nowhere. They exist only so she can put them on her website and in her taxpayer-funded newsletter. They’re not even political grandstanding, which I can at least appreciate as spectacle; they’re tokenism. A slight nod at fiscal responsibility so she doesn’t have to put any actual work into it.

Hey, Rep. Blackburn, are you actually going to fight to control spending or is this it? File the same pointless bills every two years until you retire?

Giving Women Access to the Courts

Sen Bob Corker (R-TN) announced today he’s voting against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

The Act would guarantee women the right to sue if they’re not getting paid as much as their male co-workers. What, you thought they are already had that right? Not so much.

According to the current Supreme Court, women who aren’t getting paid as much as their male coworkers have a strict 180-day time limit to file a lawsuit -- no exceptions -- and if they don’t discover the pay inequality until after 180 days, they’re screwed. It’s too late, and they have no right to file a lawsuit at all.

How stupid is that?

So stupid that even Republicans want to change the law. They want the 180-day clock to start ticking from the time the woman discovers the pay discrimination. And they’ve appointed openly female Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to lead the charge.

The Republican version is okay. The Democratic version is better. It gets rid of the clock all together. That’s the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Bob Corker is against it. He speculates that it would clog up our court system with frivolous lawsuits. For some reason, he thinks that’s bigger and scary than denying women access to the courts when they’ve been discriminated against.

Corker would rather the law stay like it is -- even though he knows it’s wrong. Even though he knows it’s screwing over women. Even though he knows it’s blocking real-life, legitimate claims of discrimination. That’s worth it to him because maybe there might be some frivolous cases too.

How stupid is that?

Go Vote!

If “English Only” fails today, it will be one of the most spectacular failures of a Nashville politician in decades. Metro Councilman Eric Crafton will be proven wrong on every level a Council member can go wrong.

Failure as an Issue: Crafton will have anointed himself as the champion of an issue the people of Nashville did not want -- proving himself completely out of touch.

Failure of Leadership: Crafton will have failed to win over the skeptics or motivate his supporters -- proving himself incompetent as a leader.

Failure of Politics: Crafton deliberately forced an early election believing the odds of victory to be greater. If he’s wrong, he’ll prove himself an embarrassment as a political strategist.

Failing the Taxpayers: This special election will cost the city of Nashville up to $300,000, possibly more, in a time of fiscal crisis. If the measure passes, maybe you can argue that it was worth the money to enact the will of the voters. If it fails, it will be a total waste of taxpayer money on the vanity project of a deluded politician.

For these reasons, if “English Only” fails today, I call on Metro Councilman Eric Crafton to resign immediately. This is a long, divisive, expensive path he has forced us down -- and if it all turns out to be folly and hubris, he should step aside.

I have no idea whether “English Only” will pass or not. Crafton may well be vindicated by victory. I hope not.

If you haven’t voted, GO VOTE NOW!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Si Se Puede

Well, tomorrow is election day here in Metro Nashville. At stake: whether the Metro government will be considerate or obnoxious to people who don’t speak English.

The typical argument for being obnoxious is that it’ll force people to learn the language. And if everyone speaks the same language, we’ll be more unified and prosperous as a city. Plus, it’ll save the government some money in translation services.

These arguments are stupid.

For one, it won’t encourage anyone to learn English. They’ll just have a harder time dealing with the city government--schools, libraries, permits, etc. They’ll learn to avoid them and they’ll make due without.

Which means they’ll have less privileges, less opportunities, less prosperity. They’ll stay poorer, longer. They’ll also be more isolated. So that unified and prosperous city thing is out the window too.

And any money we save in translation services will be overwhelmed by other costs associated with the “English First” amendment, not the least of which will be trying to defend it and losing miserably in court.

(Here’s the thing: Councilman Eric Crafton has a Constitutional right to say anything he wants in any language he wants when he’s on the job in a Metro Council meeting, and no one can take that Constitutional right away from Councilman Crafton -- least of all some pissy, fear-mongering councilman like Eric Crafton.)

Furthermore, those arguments aren’t just stupid; they’re crap.

No one supports the “English First” amendment because they think it’d be good for the immigrants and Spanish speakers. That’s spin and happy talk. The real reason is that the demographics of Nashville (and the U.S.) are changing. You don’t have to be racist to think that sucks.

You do have to be ignorant and shortsighted, but racist – no, not necessary.

Either way, get over it. Demographics are changing, technology is changing, culture is changing. You can’t stop it no matter how much it all scares you.

You can’t write modern American culture into law so that future generations have to live just like you do today. It’s obviously a fool’s errand. And that’s all this “English First” stuff is. It’s a bunch of people wanting the future to conform to the past, and it’s never going to happen -- whether this stupid amendment passes tomorrow or not.

All “English First” is going to do is embarrass us and cost us a lot of money until it’s finally thrown out.

But, having said all that, there’s something bigger and more important at stake here. Our government should serve all its citizens equally. No one is a second-class citizen, no matter what language they do or don’t speak. This is America.

So please, vote NO tomorrow.

Vote NO on Amendment 1.

Vote NO on Amendment 2.

It’s a weird mid-January election so turnout is going to be low. Whoever turns out the most people wins. Don’t let it be fear and ignorance that wins tomorrow.

The Name Game

While you were all worried about who was taking over the White House yesterday, Governor Phil Bredesen (D) was busy appointing a bunch of people you’ve never heard of to a bunch of advisory boards you’ve never heard of.

For example, Mether Joe Jones is now officially a member of the Tennessee Board of Barber Examiners. So, you know, good job there, Mether.

Did you know that the state of Tennessee has a Polysomnography Professional Standards Committee?

Polysomnography is “a diagnostic test during which a number of physiologic variables are measured and recorded during sleep.” It is most commonly found in sitcoms.

These are the kind of things you will only learn here at the Planet.

I would also like to point out that Governor Bredesen appointed someone named Happy Birdsong to the Keep Tennessee Beautiful Advisory Council because once you found out there was someone named Happy Birdsong, how could you not?

It's Been Way Too Long without Photos

Maalim, the rescued black rhinoceros calf, trots after his keeper all day, scared to let him out of his sight. Awwwww!
Apparently abandoned by his mommy, Maalim now lives at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, just outside Nairobi, Kenya.
He’s only three weeks old.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Message from the Tennessee Democratic Party

Apparently elated and filled with energy over the Obama inauguration this morning, the Tennessee Democratic Party has finally replaced its happy holiday message with these inspirational words:

The Tennessee Association of Democratic County Chairs & the State Executive Committee will meet on Saturday, January 24th in Nashville.

The Association of Democratic County Chairs will meet at 9:00 am CST in Room LP 16 at the Legislative Plaza.

The State Executive Committee will meet at 1:30 pm CST in the House Chamber at the State Capitol. The Executive Committee will elect a new Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Both meetings are open to the public.

Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, but much like my mother when I've gone too long without calling, I'm just happy to know they're not dead.

Almost There...

3 hours, 7 minutes

Monday, January 19, 2009

Remembering Martin Luther King

The Tennessee __________ Party salutes and praises the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Can you fill in the blank and guess which party bothered to put that message up on their Web site today? (Hint: We’re now at 75 days without a press release, Web update, or blog entry from the Tennessee Democratic Party, other than a happy holidays message.)

So True

According to the TNGOP: “Rep. Williams belongs to the party of liars, deceivers, and traitors.”

Yes, but you guys are about to kick him out.

So Close

17 hours, 27 minutes

Congratulations to President George W. Bush

On the last full day of the Bush presidency, let me extend my congratulations to our President for fulfilling every expectation placed upon him when he first ran for our nation’s highest office. Specifically, he didn’t cheat on his wife.

When Bush said he’d restore honor and dignity to the White House, did anyone think he was talking about public policy? No, he meant no interns under the desk.

And I have every reason to believe he fulfilled that sacred promise.

We must remember that Bush did not run as a policy wonk, or visionary, or commander-in-chief. He ran as an alternative to the morally permissive (and promiscuous) ways of the Democrats, as exemplified by Bill Clinton. He ran as someone who would freak-the-hell-out if Janet Jackson’s nipple was exposed on television.

Our nation got exactly what it was promised: a dull person, in every since of the word.

We got a bland mind in bland body. Someone with the ingenuity and sex drive of a 1950s sitcom. A placeholder in history who could occupy the Oval Office for four (or eight) years without once forcing Tom Brokaw to utter the phrase “oral sex.”

Unfortunately, history happened to our placeholder president. He got caught with his pants down.

He got caught with his pants down on 9/11.

He got caught with his pants down on Iraq. And Afghanistan and Hamas and Iran. And North Korea and Cuba and Venezuela.

He got caught with his pants down on Katrina.

He got caught with his pants down on the economy. On spending and the deficit. On reforming Social Security and healthcare. On jobs and regulations.

Hopefully our nation has learned something from this experience. That the president needs to be more than a “nice” guy who won’t cheat on his wife. That we need a president with intelligence and vision and ambition.

I think we did learn it. That’s why we looked past race and elected someone who wants an active government tackling real problems.

Of course, I don’t think it’ll take too long before we forget it again. Before we grow complacent. And distracted. History is cyclical after all. But don’t count me as cynical. We’re here now, with President Obama ready to take the oath of office tomorrow, and I for one intend to rejoice in this moment in history for as long as it lasts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

To Spend or Not to Spend

It’s always interesting when Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker vote on opposite sides.

Last night, Sen. Corker voted to block the incoming Obama Administration from getting the second half of the $750 financial industry bailout passed in October of last year.

But Sen. Alexander agreed with the Democrats that the money should be released and spent as planned.

Quoth Alexander:

“I voted today the same way I did in October because both the current president and the incoming president have said this is an essential insurance policy against financial catastrophe. This is not spending; this is lending money with interest that taxpayers should get back. I would not have voted this way if President-elect Obama had not assured us that he will use this money as it was intended: to keep credit flowing by strengthening financial institutions and housing markets, and not for new industry-by-industry bailouts.”

Corker, on the other hand, says:

“This was a painful vote for me. […] I voted against releasing any additional TARP funds because I am concerned that we are treating the symptoms and not addressing the root problem.

“I voted for the TARP legislation in October because I felt we needed a systemic approach to restarting the engines of our financial system. The initial infusion of capitol from the TARP program was allocated in an ad-hoc way and there remains significant stress in our credit markets. We need to restore confidence to our financial system through a prescriptive and clear path forward.”

Corker’s argument is that Obama shouldn’t get the money because the Bush Administration is incompetent. Well, duh. You knew the Bush Administration was incompetent when you voted “yes” to the bailout last October (or at least you should have known), but now it’s time to give the Obama economic team (who you claim to “greatly respect”) a chance to do the job right.

If we refuse to let the Obama Administration do anything the Bush Administration was bad at, well, we might as well shut down the entire Executive Branch right now.

I applaud Alexander for his bi-partisan vote.

I worry that Corker is turning into a kneejerk obstructionist/partisan hack (especially after becoming a GOP darling for his leading role in blocking a GM bailout) -- which may be good for his career in Washington but bad for America. It’s too soon to know for sure, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lamar Alexander vs. Tennessee’s GOP Congressmen

Tennessee’s five Democratic congressman voted to expand S-CHIP to 11 million uninsured children in the United States this week.

All four of Tennessee’s Republican congressmen voted against it – including Zach Wamp, who thinks he’s ready to be our governor.

What does Sen. Lamar Alexander think about his GOP colleagues who try to block the S-CHIP bill?

“I disagree with it. I think the children’s health insurance bill is good for Tennessee — 127,000 Tennessee children need it,” [said Sen. Lamar] Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.

That’s 127,000 Tennessee children that our Republican congressman are fighting to keep uninsured. So who’s side is Sen. Bob Corker on?

In a joint release, Alexander and Corker said SCHIP reauthorization would boost Tennessee’s efforts to provide coverage for the state’s neediest children and help compensate Tennessee hospitals that treat a large number of patients who are unable to pay their bills.

Looks like Corker is siding with the kids. Good for you, Senator.

Both Corker and Alexander voted for S-CHIP and against President Bush’s veto three months ago, so I’m sure we can count on their continued support next week when the bill goes back up for a vote in the Senate. This time, President Obama will sign it into law.

Go, Obama!

(Okay, okay, that stuff in italics up there is from October and refers to Bush's veto - but you're telling me it doesn't apply now? What changed?)

Somebody Is Gonna Pay!

Governor Phil Bredesen issued another executive order related to the TVA toxic ash disaster:

The Order…requires TVA’s cooperation with the state in supporting independent assessments and inspections at Kingston and other TVA coal-waste sites around the state as well as the development of a corrective action plan detailing the steps TVA will take to clean up the Kingston site and ensure safe operations in the future.

Okay, sounds good. Plus:

This Order requires TVA to reimburse the Department of Environment and Conservation for expenses incurred overseeing cleanup and further investigative activities.

Okay, that sounds good, but isn’t that just shifting the burden to TVA customers? Which is pretty much everyone with electricity in nine states. Still, I guess it’s the right decision, even if it’s a sucky one.

Hopefully, the federal government will step in and cover TVA’s costs on this (since TVA is owned 100% by the federal government) rather than passing the costs on to consumers. After all, it wasn’t the consumers that caused this problem but the people in charge of TVA (again, the federal government). Maybe the Bush Administration shouldn’t have blocked all efforts to regulate and fix this problem for the past eight years. It's not like they weren't warned.


Still not a peep or press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party. Must be a slow week in local politics.

That’s 71 days of silence (other than a happy holidays message) since November 5.

Silly Republicans!

Right-wing blog is getting involved in the Tennessee House brouhaha, demanding that Republicans all across the nation snail-mail some silly putty to House Speaker Kent Williams’s office in Elizabethton. What they hope accomplish besides giving Williams a good laugh and perhaps hours of family fun is beyond me.

But anything that stimulates the economy and wastes Republicans’ time and money is a-ok with me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You Brought It on Yourselves

Moderate Republicans should have stood up to Mumpower, and they should have done it long before yesterday. It should never have been Mumpower who was up for the job. A consensus pick could have won it. Someone a handful of Democrats would have voted for. But no.

The hubris and self-righteousness of the far right demanded nothing less than Jason Mumpower, and that’s why they failed.

And by the way… If Mumpower went into that vote not knowing he was going to lose, then he doesn’t deserve to win. He’s not ready to be Speaker of the House. Vote counting, consensus building, cajoling, and knowing damn sure who stands where is a huge part of the job.

New TNGOP Rule: Republicans Politicians Only Represent Republican Voters

There’s a great American tradition that no matter which ticket you run on, once you’re elected, you represent everyone in your state and your district.

The TNGOP is giving up any pretense of that noble tradition. They won’t even pay it lip service.

Instead, TNGOP mouthpiece Bill Hobbs claims that Speaker Kent Williams (R-For Now) was “elected by Republican voters in the historic 2008 elections” and that he “chose to betray” them.

Gosh, I thought he was elected by Tennessee voters, and that’s where his loyalties belong. Too bad the TNGOP doesn’t see it that way. In fact, TNGOP chair Robin Smith makes it plain that her party represents only its own supporters and self-interest:

“This challenge [to Williams’s membership in the TNGOP] will move swiftly to honor the character and integrity of the 49 members of the Republican House Caucus who stand committed to the Republican principles and the voters who support them.”

(Emphasis mine, of course.)

One more thing: apparently Smith still hasn’t figured out just who the heck Williams voted for yesterday. (Hint: himself.)

“He cast his vote for a Pro-Tax, Pro-Gay, Pro-Abortion, Anti-Gun Liberal Democrat to preside in leadership against all 49 of his Republican colleagues,”
says Smith.

Um, wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to take them seriously. Or at least these stupid Hobbs press releases.

The Real Question

With Rep. Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) promising to inundate the State House with extreme anti-evolution, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant legislation… why was there only one Republican who said no?

Where were the other moderate Republicans? Was no one else willing to stand up to the brash and divisive political grandstanding that Mumpower represents? No other Republican with the backbone to say that’s not the right direction for our state – as a government or a people?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Absolute Chaos"

Here’s what I’m hearing from Legislative Plaza…

In the last election, a bunch of belligerent right-wing radicals tried to bully Rep. Kent Williams (a moderate Republican) into taking far-right stands – going so far as to threaten boycotts on his family business, etc.

Well, Rep. Williams had had enough of bullies and blowhards destroying the Republican Party from within. And the Democrats knew it. So the Democrats approached Rep. Williams about being the new House Speaker.

Rep. Williams said, “yes,” and history was made, just minutes ago.

Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville), who grew up in Williams’s district in Carter County, nominated Williams, calling him, “A man who epitomizes putting principle over partisanship.”

House Speaker Williams promises to select committee chairs based on “ability and seniority – mostly ability” (my source’s words, not necessarily Williams’s).

Sounds like we can definitely expect some Democrats to hold chairmanships. No one saw that as a remote possibility just two hours ago – except maybe the engineers of this shocking political twist.

A lobbyist at Legislative Plaza is calling it “absolute chaos” up there right now.


How humiliating for Tennessee's elected Republicans. You better get your own house in order before you try running the State House.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm Trying to Savor Your Fail

Why do young people overwhelmingly vote Democrat these days? Because to be young Republican, you have to be stupid enough to believe this crap:

You can see how they’re only winning over the morons.

Then Why Do Republicans Worry so Much about Homeland Security?

Joe the Plumber has finally put his finger on why no Christians have ever been killed by war or terrorism. When asked if he was concerned for his own safety while pretending to be a “war correspondent” in Israel, he said:

"Being a Christian I'm pretty well protected by God, I believe."

So all those soldiers killed in Iraq? Not real Christians apparently. No Christians in those planes on 9/11 either. And don’t get me started on those heathens in the buildings.

Luke 4:12

Boys Will Be Girls

Science news:

Treating a baby boy like a girl and vice versa can change the way their brains work, new research suggests.

It had previously been thought that such things were decided long before birth.

That second sentence is a bit overstated. People who study genetics certainly thought so; sociologists, not so much. Still, fascinating research.

UPDATE: A more respectable news source was requested, so here you go. This one also has better information on what the research might mean for humans.

About that Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has a Hebrew-language website, read mostly by Israelis. The homepage cycles through photos mostly of manly soldiers doing manly things:

The IDF also has an English-language website, read mostly by Israel supporters outside Israel. The homepage cycles through photos mostly of hot Israeli military chicks:

(Those are painted bullet tips, not colored pencils.)

I just thought that was interesting.

What, you thought I was going to comment on that whole military action thing? What are you nuts?

Turning a Blind Eye

It’ll be nice to have a functioning EPA again:

The Environmental Protection Agency eight years ago said it wanted to set a national standard for ponds or landfills used to dispose of wastes produced from burning coal.

The agency has yet to act.

Eight years, huh? That’s a pretty telling number.

The notion that the Bush Administration neglected an issue that would have been uncomfortable for the energy industry will surprise no one. The idea that if the Bush Administration had bothered to act, the TVA ash disaster in East Tennessee might have been averted will be lost on deliberately blind-eye Republicans like Rep. Zach Wamp.

Once again the Bush Administration failed to foresee or prevent a disaster that they had been explicitly warned about. Leaving President-elect Obama to deal with this:

Millions of tons of toxic coal ash is piling up in power plant ponds in 32 states, a practice the federal government has long recognized as a risk to human health and the environment but has left unregulated.

An Associated Press analysis of the most recent Energy Department data found that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to the one that collapsed last month in Tennessee.

Only 11 more days until the White House is once again the head of the federal government instead of its primary obstacle.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Goodbye Goody's

Goody’s is gone. The retail chain employs 9,800 people, including 800 in Knoxville, where the company is headquartered. All those people are about to be unemployed.


When Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) called the TVA ash disaster a “Katrina-like event” today, I was ready to cheer him on. Yes! It’s huge! It demands immediate action on a massive scale! The media and the federal government should be all over it!

But then I kept reading

“I think it's time that the federal government look at an incident like this as more of a disaster like Katrina, as opposed to malfeasance by anyone or neglect by anyone," he said.

Wait a minute. So when he says “Katrina-like,” he’s not talking about the scope of the disaster or the urgency or the need for sweeping solutions. He’s calling it an act of nature that no one is really to blame for. He’s brushing aside the need to investigate or hold anyone accountable. Typical Republican garbage.

Sigh. I thought, just maybe, running for governor had forced Rep. Wamp to actually show himself as a take charge leader who’s ready to get things done for Tennessee. But no – he’s still just a partisan hack content to play games rather than find solutions.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. I hope Rep. Wamp proves everything I just wrote to be wildly off base.

This is an opportunity, Rep. Wamp, to take ownership of a problem no one wants to touch and prove yourself to be a true leader. Are you ready to take a chance and do something big? If so, I’ll sing your praises.

If not, you’re not ready to be governor.

Ghost Mall

Is there anything left in Bellevue Mall besides Macy’s? Let me rephrase: Is there anything left in Bellevue Mall at all? Because that Macy’s is being put out of its misery. Unfortunately, that means 76 people in Nashville are losing their jobs.

Overall, Macy’s is closing 11 stores in 9 states, laying off 960 people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We Screwed Up. Here's the Bill.

To cover the cost of cleaning of TVA’s little environmental disaster, the utility's 9 million customers in Tennessee and six surrounding states will bear the brunt in higher electricity rate hikes in the future, TVA Chairman Bill Sansom told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Free Money

How ‘bout some love for Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) for trying to block Congressional pay raises while tax revenues are in such dire straits?

Tennessee’s other Congress critters should jump on board, Democrat and Republican.

Christmas is Over

The TNGOP never once wished me a happy holidays or merry Christmas on its website. I’m not sure why they hate religion so much, but if they were good little Republicans, they’d be showing off their Christianity prominently - if not belligerently.

How’s that for a weak, throwaway attack on the other side? Blah. Oh well, it’s all I got because the TN Democratic Party website has steadfastly refused to say anything other than happy holidays for over two months. The party blog is likewise silent.

(Here’s a hint, guys: it’s no longer the “season of giving” and McCain’s already lost the election, so why don’t you go ahead and push that junk off your homepage?)

If the TN Democratic were paying attention or showing any signs of life, maybe they’d say something about that nice Tennessee fellow who thinks racist songs are funny, just so long as Rush Limbaugh says so?

Or how about that little oopsy-daisy near Knoxville that’s poisoning all the water? No comment on that? Don’t see any opportunity to push the importance of environment responsibility or alternative energy? Or maybe you think the people of Tennessee are already so far to the Left they don’t need to hear it?

Hey, why don’t you praise Gov. Bredesen for that $80 million the State is getting from the Department of Health and Human Services for a low-income home energy assistance program. I’m pretty sure he’s a Democrat.

Or you could praise Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) for that $1.65 million loan and a $400,000 grant from the USDA to construct new water distribution lines and replace leaking water lines in Putnam County.

There is a crap-load of stuff going on out there, you lazy schmucks!!!

Say something!!!

Hot Teen Sex

Tennessee ranks #8 in the nation for teenage pregnancy. That’s down from #6 in the previous round of numbers.

Those slutty teens in Oklahoma and Nevada surged past us in the latest statistics, just released by the CDC. Nationwide, this is the first time teen pregnancy has gone up from year-to-year since 1991.

In Tennessee, our numbers dropped from 54.9 Junos per 1,000 teenage girls to 54.7, which is considered statistically insignificant so we’re holding steady. The national average is 41.9 - a 3% jump.

Of course, the prevalence of teen pregnancy doesn’t mirror the prevalence of teen sex; rather, it mirrors the prevalence of unprotected teen sex.

So, parents, teach your kids about condoms. Even though your precious little snowflake is (of course) not engaging in anything naughty, they can at least pass along the information to their promiscuous friends (you know the ones) because you know they’re talking to each other about s-e-x.

By the way, 4,265,555 people were born in the U.S. in 2006 (the year all these brand new statistics come from). And 31.1% came out cesarean style.

The birth rate for unmarried women shot up 7% that year (up 16% since 2002). Unmarried women account for 38.5% of all births (a new record).