Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama Bypasses Phil Bredesen for Cabinet Post

Posted By on Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Kathleen Sebelius beats out Bredesen
  • Kathleen Sebelius beats out Bredesen
You knew it would come to this, but now it's official--or at least official under Washington's standards for very obvious leaks. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be named secretary of Health and Human Services on Monday.

Though Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen was talked about as a potential candidate, in the end, Sebelius seemed the far better pick. Writes the Associated Press:

Sebelius, 60, is seen as a solid choice to head HHS because as a governor responsible for the Medicaid program in Kansas, she faced the pressure of rising health care costs directly, and saw how hard it is to expand coverage, particularly in bad economic times. She is also familiar with the insurance industry, a key interest group in the health care debate. Before becoming governor, she served as insurance commissioner, and her fellow state commissioners selected her to be national president of their association.

Bredesen, by contrast, seemed a man who time had passed by. His slashing of the TennCare rolls made him Public Enemy No. 1 to the left. And though his conservatism may play well here, Democrats elsewhere viewed him as something of a caveman. He tossed out huge welfare packages for relocating companies, but seemed to balk every time aid was considered for regular people. His recent announcement that he may forgo stimulus money for unemployment likely cemented his reputation for owning a tin heart when it comes to helping the everyman.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Single Ladies Own Many Homes in Nashville; Cause: Deadbeat Musician Boyfriends

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 1:33 PM

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The Tennessean reported today that 23 percent of homes purchased in Greater Nashville are purchased by single women. That figure is higher than the national average.

Here's my theory, culled from an exhaustive examination of the most highly respected journals of sociology and mating behavior: I posit that the root cause of this phenomenon can be directly linked to a higher concentration of musicians in Nashville. See, most musicians don't make any money, forcing them to work at Subway and snooty record shops, all but eliminating any possibility of home ownership or even the vaguest semblance of financial stability. That's why only 7 percent of single men own homes in Nashville, compared to a national average of 10 percent.

This in turn forces our local women to become the providers. It will be their names inked on the mortgage payments, while the significant other, who may play for an innovative but struggling indie rock band, contributes to the band-mate-crashing-on-the-couch quotient. Now, this can all get very arcane and scientific, so I'll try not to muddy the waters with too much of the research I've done, but that's essentially the nuts and bolts of the struggling musician/exasperated girlfriend dynamic.

Here are the conclusions of my study:

Male Musicians--Nashville ladies step up! Can you say Sugar Mama?

Ladies--Don't date musicians.

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Washington's Already Expressing Buyer's Remorse Over Haynesworth

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Usually the signing of a Pro Bowl lineman is cause for celebration. But in Washington, they've seen this dance before, and it hasn't turned out well. So forgive Washingtonians for not getting too excited about the signing of Albert Haynesworth.

Only hours after the announcement, the Washington Post's Jason La Canfora was already on the board questioning the move. He writes:

This is a guy who has never played a full season, and who has never played more than 65 percent of the snaps. He is someone who has had off-the-field issues and someone who has been an underachiever for much of his career. Keeping fit and motivated has been an issue, and it isn't clear how he'll respond with this kind of guaranteed money in his pocket. The pressure on him is enormous as well; he must elevate the entire defense, be an MVP type of performer and play with consistency -- at a time when the team has eliminated 45 employees who were paid far, far less.

While Albert may have got the money to bolt Nashville, it may soon become apparent that it can't buy him love. As a parting gift, we offer one last airing of his most stellar moment, the Stomping on a Guy's Head video above.

STOP THE PRESSES! TN MEDICAL REGULATORY AGENCY ACTUALLY DOES ITS JOB!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 1:18 PM

In what may be the most significant turnaround in Tennessee health and business regulation in years, a state medical regulatory agency, designed to look after the best interests of Tennesseans, actually sided with those same Tennesseans over the interests of the business they're supposed to be regulating. The agency in question is the Tennessee Health and Services Development Agency. On Wednesday, the agency denied the HCA hospital chain's request to move a number of neonatal beds from Southern Hills hospital--a facility that serves poor, working class and immigrant families--to StoneCrest Medical Center in wealthy, bucolic Rutherford County. HCA wanted to close the neonatal center at Southern Hills altogether, claiming that they could not find doctors to replace the ones who'd been moved to StoneCrest. But a group of doctors from Medicos Para La Familia, a family practice clinic near Southern Hills, had been trying to reach out to HCA for months, asking for medical privileges at the hospital. At the hearing, Dr. Conception Martinez, who works at Medicos, said that he'd been shot down repeatedly by HCA when he tried to get his foot in the door at Southern Hills.

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Too Bad His Car Wasn't in the Capitol's No-Gun Zone

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 1:08 PM

A state legislator guards the capitol in case any Jews show up.
  • A state legislator guards the capitol in case any Jews show up.
In our continuing saga Guns Don't Kill, People With Guns Do, we turn your attention to Alabama, where the combination of a bad economy and lots of guns has turned the auto repossession business into the equivalent of 1970s Cambodia.

Meet Jimmy Tanks, a 67-year-old railroad retiree who heard someone meddling with his car  one night. Tanks went outside and confronted the supposed auto thieves with his manly gun. What he didn't know is that they were repo men, there to collect is Chrysler Sebring.

Had this occurred on Capitol Hill, where guns are banned, the men would have been forced into a physical contest highlighted by aimless roundhouses and tired grappling, followed by a break for exhaustion where they sat down for a cig and a long drink of water.

But since they had guns, they started shooting. Tanks ended up dead.

It's a problem that's expected to rise in a country where 1.6 million autos were repossessed last year. The company involved in the Tanks shooting has three shootouts on its books last year.

Albert Haynesworth bolts to Washington

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 11:33 AM

As the immortal Donna Summers says, "He works hard for the money."
  • As the immortal Donna Summers says, "He works hard for the money."
That didn't take long. On the opening day of NFL free agency, Titans tackle Albert Haynesworth bolted for the Washington Redskins. The deal was for seven years at a staggering $100 million, with $41 million guaranteed.That put Albert into star quarterback money, and out of range for the Titans.

It's a good deal for Albert, but not so good for the Redskins. For $14 million a year, they'll be getting an aging, heavyset man prone to injury. The Titans defense won't be the same, but our guess is this deal will come back to haunt Washington. 

Morning Roundup: A Little Good Economic News for a Change

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 7:52 AM

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We find our place in the sun ... and we're in a good position now to land more solar industry jobs. Matt Kisber: "The governor and I have become quite the fans of all things German." ... VW appropriations bill clears the Senate. ... Lawmakers looking to reshape higher education. ... Now the bad news: More layoffs at the Commercial Appeal and more on the way. ... Unemployment rate up three points in a year. ... University of Tennessee is raising tuition 9 percent and cutting 326 jobs.

Bredesen Desperately Trying to 'Clarify' Position on Jobless Benefits

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 7:23 AM

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There's a story in the New York Times today about how the governors of nine states are thinking about rejecting federal economic stimulus money for laid-off workers, and "there is growing anger among the ranks of the jobless in those states that they could be left out of a significant government benefit." From the Gray Lady:
The Republican governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, along with Alaska and Idaho, have raised protests, saying that expansion could eventually require them to raise taxes. On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee became the first Democratic governor to express reservations on the issue.
It's unfortunate timing for Bredesen because this is also the day that newspapers are reporting Tennessee's unemployment rate jumped to nearly 9 percent in January. And then there's that health and human services job that our governor covets. To win a spot in Obama's Cabinet, it's not exactly a great PR strategy to appear in the national media disrespecting the president's stimulus package along with such governors as Sarah Palin. Maybe that's why Bredesen has been hopping on cable TV lately at every opportunity to try to explain himself.

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Trip to Memphis Changes House Speaker

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 7:06 AM

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House Speaker Kent Williams lives in Carter County, which is 97 percent white. He went to Memphis last weekend for the first time, and it was like some kind of Road-to-Damascus experience. After a tour of Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, a stopover for runaway slaves, Williams was so moved he apologized for slavery and the oppression of blacks. During a speech at the Civil Rights Museum, "he issued a personal apology--not as the House speaker--for the transgressions against the black race, for not just slavery but for the oppression that followed. He got a standing ovation," Rep. G.A. Hardaway, a Democrat from Memphis, says in Rick Locker's story in the Commercial Appeal today.

Back in Nashville Monday, Williams listened as Rep. Steve McManus, R-Memphis, gave an 11-minute lecture against the federal stimulus package. From the podium, Williams responded:

"I was in Shelby County this weekend and I probably met with a different group than you met with. I met with a group that really wasn't concerned about IRAs because they didn't have any. They weren't concerned about retirement, because they didn't have any. They were concerned about getting food on their table and some of them, the elderly are worried if they are going to die if they don't have their medications. So there are two sides to this issue."

Pith in the Wind hereby demands mandatory tours of inner-city Memphis for every wingnut in America.

Capitol Cowards: Guns OK on Playgrounds But Not at Legislature

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 5:37 AM

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In one of the worst hypocrisies of the World Capital of Hypocrisy--a.k.a. the Tennessee General Assembly--politicians are pushing legislation to let gunmen go all over the place, even onto city playgrounds. But guess which bill has yet to be introduced? That would be the one letting people carry their 357 Magnums into the Legislative Plaza. There are signs up all over the place here, in fact, warning that guns are prohibited.

Long ago, a senator tried to amend a gun bill to let people take weaponry into the Capitol. Suddenly, the Senate's many Second Amendment champions decided that actually (ahem) the government can restrict gun rights under certain extremely limited circumstances, namely when a politician's own safety is at stake.

Pith asked one of the House gun nuts, Rep. Henry Fincher, a Democrat from Cookeville, whether he'd favor opening the Capitol to gunmen.

"I personally, as a handgun carry permit holder and certified handgun carry permit instructor, don't have a problem with people bringing them up there," Fincher said. "Some of my colleagues might. That'd be a good debate. We license people to carry all over our society now. ... I feel like handgun permit holders are very responsible, are trained in both the use of firearms and the laws of self-defense, and I don't fear a law-abiding citizen who chooses to carry a handgun for personal protection. I fear the law-breakers who use them to take advantage of citizens, to rob citizens and to kill 'em."

Why then hasn't someone introduced a bill to allow guns into Legislative Plaza? we asked. "I'd urge you to contact your legislator," Fincher replied.

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