Risk Avoidance 

Tennessee Democrats ignore the issue of this election year

Tennessee Democrats ignore the issue of this election year

Just a little unsolicited tip for Tennessee Democrats: Get your heads out of your collective rear ends. Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators have taken advantage of the hot-button issue of same-sex unions by attempting to bar their legal recognition in the Tennessee. For their efforts, liberal-leaning editorial boards have criticized them, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has verbally reproached them and legislative Democrats have vilified them. The persistent and unifying theme has been that these Republicans have no business pushing this issue in the state legislature.

To which the proper response should be: Huh?

Ever since President Bush announced his support for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, the consensus among Democrats and others of a left-of-center pedigree has been that this particular issue should be left to the individual states to decide for themselves. Well, lo and behold, some Republican state legislators try to do just that, and everyone acts like they never saw this coming.

Whatever their political position on the matter, reasonable people would have to agree that if you start demanding that the issue be decided at the state level, you shouldn't be too surprised when people on the state level start trying to, you know, decide it. So far, though, all the Democrats have done is lamely accuse the Republicans of pushing "wedge issues" and "political posturing," which is what you say when you don't know how to deal with an issue but want very much for people to think you do.

Say this for the Republicans' position on same-sex unions: At least they have one. The Democrats' stance seems to be that since they don't have a position, no one else should either. That's just not going to be a winner in this election year, when all indications are that this issue will weigh heavily on many voters' minds one way or the other. Just sitting around whining about the Republicans is not going to impress voters very much. They are looking for some kind of guidance and leadership. So guide and lead already.


If anyone has noticed a sudden surge in government productivity since mid-January or so, it might be because the city has installed a filter to block Metro employees from surfing to "unauthorized" Web sites on their office computers.

Called "Websense," the program prohibits Metro employees from accessing gambling, pornographic or "hate" sites on government computers. In the first week alone, Websense blocked over 6,000 (yes, 6,000) attempts to surf to sites falling into these categories. If we suppose that the average time spent at one of these sites is, say, five minutes, that comes out to 500 hours of time playing in virtual casinos or checking out a scantily clad Anna Kournikova on the taxpayers' dime. That's a lot of yanks on the one-armed bandit (so to speak).

Most folks are cool with the new system, but local trial court judges are afraid that the filter interferes with their online legal research. So, at the behest of trial court administrator Larry Stephenson, court information technology guru Ted Wallace has been lobbying Metro to free the Robed Ones from the shackles of the Websense filter. Metro is doing its best to comply with their wishes despite a few technological hurdles.

This only makes sense. After all, gambling, sex and random acts of hate are three big reasons why courts are necessary in the first place.


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