Saturday, April 30, 2005

Big Government

Posted By on Sat, Apr 30, 2005 at 9:40 PM

Is today Government Intrusion Day? Is that always the day after Labor Day? I can never keep track of minor holidays.

First I learned that lapdances -- one of the things that make America great -- will be effectively outlawed in Nashville come August 1. Then I headed to the drugstore and discovered that -- thanks to the "Meth-Free Tennessee" Act -- in order to get the perfectly legal over-the-counter medication necessary to stave off the near-constant sinus headaches that are my reward for having moved here five years ago, I must now request it from the pharmacist personally, show ID and sign a form.

So by about 6 o'clock today I had learned that my city government assumes I'm a sexual predator who can't be trusted to get within a yard (literally) of a nearly-naked female, while my state government figures I must be a meth fiend if I'm buying Tavist-D. Nice.

Then I saw Guy Clark at Kroger and thought, hey, Nashville isn't so bad -- at least I get to shop for my Diet Coke and Soy Crisps next to the man who wrote "Desperados Waiting for a Train."

I just hope he didn't have a sinus headache. The pharmacy was closed.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Up or Down?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2005 at 7:06 AM

I beg to differ with one key point raised in the Scene's otherwise solid editorial this week on Frist and the judicial filibuster. The editorial says:


Constitutional experts don't agree on whether the doc's prescription for judicial up-or-down votes actually flies in the face of what James Madison and his cohorts had in mind. After all, it's a Senate rule Frist wants to change, not the Constitution, which says simply that the U.S. Senate is charged with "the advice and consent" on such nominations.


The constitution is unmistakably clear (Article 1, Section 5) that the Senate determines its own rules of procedure. Those who read into the advice and consent clause (Article 2, Section 2) a voting procedural requirement that supercedes the Senate's autonomy to make its own rules are choosing phantasm over reading comprehension. This is political expedience, not expertise. I challenge pro-nukers to find a single reputable constitutional scholar who argues that the constitution mandates a senate floor vote on nominees, but allows senators to use committee procedures to kill nominations, as Republicans did dozens of times during the Clinton administration.

While I'm at it, a couple of other filibuster links:

A detailed but engaging exchange of views on the filibuster and its use for judicial nominees in the form of a back and forth between two experts appeared in the magazine Legal Affairs three months ago.

Also, those who agree with Frist but missed conservative pundit George Will's column on the filibuster back in March should check it out.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Church and State, Fully Merged

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2005 at 2:08 PM

Check out the home page for the official web site of the city of Lebanon, Tennessee, read the letter posted there from the mayor, Don Fox, and tell me Thomas Jefferson James Madison is not rolling over in his grave. It is not a sin (if you'll pardon the expression) for an elected mayor to sing the praises (if you'll pardon the expression) of a legislatively proclaimed national day of prayer, but this is way over the line, especially the part where he exhorts his fellow citizens to "come together as Christians." Mayor Fox is free to spout off about his personal religious convictions, but doing it in this manner on the city's web site under the heading "the mayor's news log" is nothing short of astonishing.

Wal-Mart Just Doesn't Get Jokes

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2005 at 11:59 AM

Looks like Daniel Papasian learned the hard way that the World's Largest Retailer* has very little tolerance for playful criticism from college students. So much for supporting education.

*ΠWal-Mart Stores, Inc. Used without permission.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blogging By Request

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 11:50 AM

A regular PITW reader asked me to post a link to the Metro Council Ethics Task Force's draft ordinance, which was released not long ago. I haven't yet read the 19-page policy document—are you still paying attention?—but word is it proposes some significant changes to the way council members do business. Look for a link to download the pdf file on the right side of the Metro Clerk's web site.

Also, ethics fans: I hear Rep. Frank Buck may be included in the Scene's summer swimsuit issue. Word is he'll only do it if he can wear his trademark leather vest—and nothing else.

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On second thought, maybe we'll let Frank stick to ethics reform.

Marriage Protection and Constitutional Protection

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 10:32 AM

In the Scene out today, Roger Abramson critiques the ACLU of Tennessee lawsuit mounting a procedural challenge to the attempt to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. As one of the individual plaintiffs in that lawsuit and an ACLU-Tennessee board member, I will refrain from commenting on specific legal strategy, leaving that to the lawyers. But I will respond to one of Roger's main points. (read on...)

Continue reading »

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Confederates Against State-Sponsored Pre-K

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2005 at 10:19 PM

I don't know what's more comical about this story: the fact that the five or six members of the "League of the South" pulled this stunt or the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center apparently classifies them as "neo-conservative."

UPDATE: The copy writer at WKRN seems to have made an error. The SPLC labels the League of the South as "Neo-Confederate."

UPDATE II: This was an AP story picked up by WKRN, which doesn't say much for the AP.

Sexual Solidarity

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2005 at 3:58 PM

American women send vibrators to Iraqi women, along with thoughtful notes such as this one:


As the bombs and molten death rain unmercifully upon your homeland, know that there are those of us, in various corners of the world, who sympathize with what you are going through.

Although there is very little that I myself can accomplish to stop the invasion of our homeland, know that I am helping to send you various sexual toys and well-wishes in a show of solidarity.


I am inclined to disbelieve the article, although I can find no proof that it's fake. It's from a little known magazine called Harper's, which just started up a hundred and fifty years ago.

Harper's has lots of other interesting things on its Lifestyle page. I'd list them all here (especially the one about the Ayatollah Khomeini), but then I'd just be copying the entire website, and what's the point in that?

You've gotta take up the tax before you can take up the carpet

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2005 at 9:25 AM

Kudos to The City Paper for its front pager this morning highlighting Metro Council's most recent inanity: the (non-binding) resolution passed last week requesting Mayor Bill Purcell to propose a no-tax-increase budget. Especially silly in the resolution is this preambulatory paragraph:


Whereas, in light of the public's opinion regarding a potential tax increase, it is fitting and proper that the Mayor not include a tax increase in his proposed fiscal year 2006 operating budget.


What measure of "the public's opinion" would that be? Do they just make this stuff up? Although this resolution had the taxophobic zealots giddy ("it took courage for The Metro Council to stand up and be the voice of the taxpayers"), courage is hardly the word to describe the legislative malpractice involved when lawmakers ask for a certain kind of budget without first bothering to look in detail at the city's financial condition and program needs.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Proud Moment for Schools and Law Enforcement

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2005 at 12:23 PM

Everyone is talking about the five-year old girl taken away in handcuffs. You can watch the whole thing at the link, and probably everywhere else on the Net.

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