Christian Right ramrods anti-abortion amendment through state House 

Up against the wall, mothers
The Christian Right is crowing over its big victory in the state House on Monday night on SJR127, the anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution. Proponents defeated a Democratic attempt to make exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, passing the amendment by a stunning 76-22 margin.

Family Action Council chief David Fowler's email to supporters breathlessly hails the vote: "The results were beyond surprising. Some might even say that death was swallowed up in victory."

Ha! That's a good one. Fowler neglects to point out that SJR127 does nothing to advance the pro-life cause, since abortions will remain legal as long as Roe v. Wade is law. That little fact might have escaped mention in his long missive because it's counterproductive to what this whole debate is all about: Politics! Republicans and their conservative Christian allies are trying to excite their squirrelly base. Here's Fowler again on that very issue:

"Yesterday's vote...is not the end of the issue. The General Assembly that is elected in 2010 will have to vote on the Resolution again....Then, if the Resolution receives the required number of votes, there will be a two-year public education campaign to make sure the amendment passes when on the ballot in 2014."

More to come: A slew of fund-raising emails to pay for that "public education campaign," some of which might also supplement Fowler's salary. JEFF WOODS

Ethics, shmethics
The state's ethics czar, Bruce Androphy, has just been fired. As Androphy watched glumly, the Ethics Commission voted 5-1 Monday for his dismissal, claiming the agency's executive director is running an inept and inefficient operation.

"I'm trying to leave with my head held high," Androphy said afterward, declining to cast any aspersions at his critics.

The entire commission soon may join Androphy in joblessness. The legislature is thinking about abolishing the commission, which was formed after the Operation Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal to enforce new ethics laws and regulate lobbying. Unless both the Senate and House act to extend it, after June 30 it will cease to exist and its duties merge with those of another agency, the Registry of Election Finance. Legislation to keep it alive was put off last week by the government operations committees in both houses.

Androphy, hired from New York in 2006, long has feuded with two commission members—Linda Knight and Dianne Neal. But he enjoyed the support of the four other commissioners. This year, though, new members have replaced three of his backers.

"I had a good job in New York," an obviously stunned Androphy said during the meeting. "I feel I came here to do a job. I certainly did the best job I think was possible. I'm very proud of the work that was done here."

A new commissioner, Charles Farmer, led the move to fire Androphy. "This is my third meeting and we've been dealing with the same things over and over," he said. "...There is obvious friction between members of the commission and members of the staff. When I see a problem with staff, the accountable person is the manager of the staff."

Everyone, including the six commission members, agrees the agency is screwed up. When lobbyists or lawmakers pose ethics questions, commissioner Nathaniel Goggans said, the agency's response often is "inaccurate, obstructive, untimely or not even an answer at all." Commissioners squabble among themselves and routinely engage in endless hand-wringing over minutiae. The issue is who's to blame—the staff or the commission itself. At today's meeting, commission chairman Larry Brown, Androphy's only supporter, blamed his fellow commissioners.

"I do not believe this commission has given the staff the authority to do their job," he said. JEFF WOODS

The Devil went down to Georgia
According to Ed Hindson, host of syndicated TV show The King Is Coming (no, it's not about Elvis or LeBron James), our state is too lame even to give birth to the Antichrist.

The details of the Toronto Star story are sketchy: Apparently there was some sort of Global Warning conference in Cartersville, Ga. (get it? Global Warning!), where evangelical clergy members gathered to map out a strategy for taking on the Antichrist.

According to Hindson, they're not sure who the Antichrist is, but they know who he is not:

"Some people say it's President Obama—that's just wild-eyed speculation. It's not Nero, it's not Charlemagne, not Napoleon, not Hitler, Stalin or Kennedy. It's not Khrushchev. I've heard people say it's Al Gore—trust me, nobody from Tennessee is going to conquer the world."

Ouch! The double whammy! Not only does he feel our already embattled hometown hero lacks the cojones to go full-Satan—he's snubbing the whole state.

At least I think it's a snub, right?

And this from a guy who is a professor of eschatology at Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell. In layman's terms, he's a professor of Judgment Day and the End Times. As soon as I finish my Ph.D. in gremlinology, I'll gladly debate him. Anyone who thinks Ol' Rocky Top isn't capable of producing someone conniving, sinister or deceptive enough to bring the entire planet to its knees clearly hasn't been following our state legislature. JACK SILVERMAN

Find more stories daily online at blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw.

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