Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tony Shipley: International Man of Intrigue

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:16 AM

click to enlarge Tony Shipley: Standing Guard for America!
  • Tony Shipley: Standing Guard for America!
In an audacious play for notice in the mighty Pith's Kook Power Rankings, Rep. Tony Shipley has adopted a bold new persona. No longer an ordinary Christian goofball homophobe, he's now Tony Shipley: Secret Agent Man.

Shipley is offering important legislation to stop terrorism in its tracks. His strategy? Give Tennessee law officers basic carte blanche to go after terrorists before they come after us. Under his bill, search warrants could be obtained for terrorist hiding places when there's only "reasonable suspicion," not the "probable cause" now required. In other words, police could burst into your house if they sorta have a hunch you're a terrorist.

Much to Shipley's surprise, even the rubes on the House Judiciary subcommittee were a little taken aback by his bill's implications.

"Tell me exactly what brought this bill to you?" the curious chairman, Eric Watson, asked. Shipley replied that he'd love to answer that question but, if he did, he might have to kill the entire subcommittee.

"Mr. Chairman and members, there are situations in the state of Tennessee, and I would be happy to provide that information to you under a different circumstance. But let me offer this somewhat scrubbed explanation. There are circumstances in the state of Tennessee where we have individuals that are pseudo preparing in that environment. It sounds a little tacky. I'm trying to walk around this issue without getting into law enforcement's business and the sensitivity of that information. It simply empowers us under circumstances where terrorism activity or training is occurring to intervene a little more quickly."
The subcommittee decided to delay voting on the bill to give time for the attorney general to think about whether it's OK if the legislature trashes the Fourth Amendment.

Red State Update: Legalize Drugs, Save Mexico

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bar Gun Bill Stalls in House in Fight Over Curfew

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM

The guns-in-saloons bill has stalled in the state House tonight with lawmakers fighting over whether they should set a curfew for customers to surrender their weapons. The sponsor, Rep. Curry Todd, thinks handgun carriers should have to give up their guns at 11 p.m. "The NRA was OK with this," Todd told the House. The House voted 62-29 to add the curfew to the bill. But many Republicans objected even to this restriction on Second Amendment rights, and Rep. Brian Kelsey then offered an amendment to strip the provision. After Todd could muster only 32 votes to table that amendment, he withdrew the bill from the floor. He said he'd try again next Monday. The House had been expected to adopt the bill by a large margin. There are 46 sponsors, and a cocky Todd said at one point, "If I asked all the co-sponsors to come up here, there wouldn't be anybody in their seats." He claimed his bill would curtail shootings presumably because criminals would quake in fear of all the licensed gunmen ready to spring into action. "I challenge anyone to tell me where they've had a shooting in a restaurant in any state that's passed this law," he said.

Phil Valentine Cares Not For Your Hate-Speech Label

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 2:24 PM

click to enlarge Eat it, haters. Phil's back.
  • Eat it, haters. Phil's back.
Phil Valentine's normal column didn't run in last Sunday's Tennessean. In related news, the weather was unseasonably warm and the world continued to turn. The end.

Thankfully for Phil fans everywhere, the man himself has returned. And he's ready to tackle another pressing issue of national import with the kind of vague, detail and logic-free reasoning we've all come to expect and perversely crave. Take it away, Valentino!

I have detected a disturbing trend in the tenor of the debate now coming from the left.

In the business, they refer to this as Phil's Spidey-sense. The man's a goddamn Geiger counter when it comes to criticism. Remember when people started claiming that President Bush started the second war in Iraq because he wanted to get even with Sadaam? Phil felt that premonition way back in 1998, in the form of a noiseless fart he passed during an episode of Friends.

Blogs, phone calls to talk radio and letters to the editor all ring with the same theme. Anything that is remotely critical of our president or the Democrats in Congress is now being characterized as "hate speech."

Really? This is happening? Because our President is black? Because Barney Frank is gay? Because Nancy Pelosi once stopped to tie her shoe outside of a mosque? Criticizing our political leaders is the duty of all Americans. Surely anyone who labels it hate speech must be kidding themselves. No worry, though. Phil will hit us with the specifics.

Liberals have even been emboldened to shout at me across busy floors of public commerce.

Bam. Right there. You want obtuse? Phil will show you obtuse. The best part about a line like "busy floors of public commerce" is that it contains absolutely no detail whatsoever. Someone might've shouted "asshole" at Phil while he left the Dillard's at Green Hills. Or in Dubai. It's anyone's best guess.

The other disturbing trend to watch: Mere mortals are now "emboldened" enough to shout at Phil. Next thing you know they'll want to look him in the eye when they're giving him back his change at Mapco or exchange pleasantries before servicing him at his favorite glory hole. The nerve of these folks...

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Doris Kearns Goodwin is Senior Day Speaker at Vanderbilt

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Doris Kearns Goodwin

Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor

The question If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead... needs revision. It should now read: If you could take three people to Melrose for Tuesday night trivia, who would they be? At the top of the list: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Vanderbilt's 2009 Senior Day Speaker.

Goodwin is America's preeminent presidential historian (eat that, David McCullough). As the author of a Pulitzer-prize winning book on FDR and 2005's Lincoln-centric Team of Rivals, Goodwin is a mortal lock for any U.S. history question. Add in the fact that she wrote a memoir about her childhood love of the Brooklyn Dodgers and you have yourself a true double-threat.

Goodwin's May 7th talk to Vandy seniors and their families won't be open to the public. But the university says they hope to put it up on YouTube. No word on her post-speech plans. Pith will be hanging around 8th Avenue, just in case.

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Foreclosure News: Bank of America Says Screw Cancer Patient Molly Secours and Obama

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 12:03 PM

click to enlarge Molly Secours
  • Molly Secours
Pith readers may recall the plight of Molly Secours, a Nashville filmmaker, writer and activist who has dedicated her life to helping empower those less fortunate. (She's the woman behind the documentary The Faces of TennCare: Putting a Human Face on Tennessee's Health Care Failure.) After a long, stressful and painful fight with uterine cancer (thankfully, she's in remission), Molly was informed that First Franklin (which has been swallowed up by Bank of America) would foreclose on her home because she was having trouble making the payments on her 9.8 percent mortgage. Yes, I said 9.8 percent! (I'm guessing Bank of America will soon be opening some payday loan/check-cashing joints on Gallatin Road.) On Feb. 12, we posted our first story about her plight, followed two weeks later by a letter to President Obama. After weeks of trying to contact the company and being stonewalled at every turn, she finally received a communication from Bank of Scam-erica--a notification that her house would be foreclosed in 30 days. And this to a woman who has told B of A that she would happily refinance at a reasonable rate (and could afford the payments), but who has been ignored at every juncture. Didn't it used to be that delinquent debtors avoided banks? Now it seems to be delinquent banks who avoid debtors. Molly has written a letter to B of A CEO Ken Lewis, making it clear that she's not going to be steamrolled silently. And Bank of Shame-erica, you have noooo clue who you're messing with. And I'm betting you'll regret it. The complete text of Molly's letter after the jump:

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Gun Nuts Blasting Away in House Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM

click to enlarge oie_saloon.jpg
House cave man Curry Todd says he's running with his anxiously awaited guns-in-saloons bill in this evening's session. The agenda shows the bill has collected 46 sponsors. Does anyone think it won't pass? Yeeeehaw! It's the new Republican majority finally unleashed to give us what we've all been demanding: The right to go armed to defend ourselves at O'Charley's and elsewhere. The sponsors: *Todd, *McCord, *Tindell, *Evans, *Fincher, *Watson, *Faulkner, *Eldridge, *Rowland, *McCormick, *Bass, *Hackworth, *Cobb C, *Carr, *Matheny, *Mumpower, *Floyd, *Bell, *Lollar, *Casada, *Rich, *Lynn, *Harrison, *Shipley, *Dean, *Johnson C, *Johnson P, *Niceley, *Tidwell, *Shepard, *Hill, *Ramsey, *Halford, *Haynes, *Swafford, *Maggart, *Hensley, *West, *Montgomery, *Dennis, *Brooks H, *Matlock, *Dunn, *Hawk, *Lundberg, *Weaver.

Governor Comments on Democrats' Woes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 7:48 AM

click to enlarge Democrats spot a backbone.
  • Democrats spot a backbone.
Gov. Phil Bredesen is commenting on the Democratic Party's troubles today in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He acknowledges he was upset when the executive committee picked Chip Forrester as chairman and really hacked off when Forrester named Bill Freeman as treasurer.
"I am a little concerned about what's happening with the party."

"When you have the Democratic governor who's not unpopular at the moment and virtually all the Democratic congressmen having some strong preferences on the thing, you'd think people would listen to that a little bit, but they didn't."

"The person they chose to be the treasurer worked very hard against me. So he's not somebody that immediately when he calls up and says, 'I now want your help raising money,' that you say, 'Oh, OK.'"

Forrester says he isn't sure whether Freeman's resignation will smooth things over or merely whet critics' appetite for his own head. He's hoping though. He really is.

"I would hope that with Bill's resignation and some of the concerns that people had about Bill that that might open up things and make things a little easier. That's certainly my hope."

The Tax Hike of 2012: What's It Gonna Be, Income or Sales?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 5:58 AM

click to enlarge A meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in 2012
  • A meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in 2012
It's 2012. The federal stimulus money is all but gone. Because each year purchases of taxed goods become a lesser part of the economy -- replaced by purchases of untaxed services -- state revenues continue to decline.

But Tennessee has already cut all it can from education, government services, and infrastructure. If we slash any more, people are going to start referring to us as the White Zambia. Which would be kind of cool if you think about it: White Zambia will take possession at their own 43 yard line, down by 6 to Jacksonville here in the first quarter.

So if history is any indicator, the state will once again be forced to raise taxes. It does so roughly every eight years. The problem this time around is that we've already pushed our sales tax to stratospheric heights. We have the highest food tax in the nation. Residents near border states are already crossing over to buy cars, groceries, and clothes. The math no longer works.

Finally, the legislature will be forced to confront life on the cheap. And unless there's an economic miracle, there won't be many options.

Move Over, McDonald's: Applebee's and Outback Suck More at Nutrition

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 5:54 AM

click to enlarge You're looking good, Nashville
  • You're looking good, Nashville
Not that you, America's Manliest City, would care about something like this. But just for your reference, McDonald's does not peddle the most nutritionally unsound food in America. That distinction belongs to Applebee's, Outback, TGI Friday's and IHOP.

So says Men's Health, America's Leading Gay Magazine for Straight Guys Who Haven't Quite Figured it Out Yet. In a study of the nation's unhealthiest restaurants, the common-wisdom king doesn't even rank. The real peddler of keg-abs and oatmeal butts goes to the sitdown chains that line suburban boulevards.

While the aforementioned offenders received an F on the Men's Health report card, Macaroni Grill got a D-, Chili's received a D, and Denny's, Ruby Tuesday, Carl's Jr. and Dairy Queen all scored a D+.

We just thought you should know. Fishing season is upon us, after all. You don't want to take off your shirt at the lake, only to have bystanders giggle that your beer gut's too small to have its own nickname, do you?

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