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.