Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lamar Takes Lead GOP Role at Health Care Summit Showcasing His Own Hypocrisy

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Republicans turned to Tennessee's Lamar Alexander to make opening remarks at today's big health care summit in Washington. One of Alexander's main objectives was to discredit the idea of using the "reconciliation" process to garner a simple majority in the Senate and avoid filibusters:
You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right. But it's never been used for anything like this.
It took the Washington Post's Ezra Klein only a few minutes to shine a light on the sophistry of Alexander's claim:
Lamar Alexander said that reconciliation has never been used for anything as big as health-care reform. Health-care reform has a 10-year cost of about $950 billion. The Bush tax cuts, which passed through reconciliation, had a 10-year cost of about $1.8 trillion. Lamar Alexander voted for them.
There may be good reasons to avoid the reconciliation process, but the notion that it hasn't been used for major legislation is not one of them.

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Ugly Wins: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last in College Sports?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 11:09 AM

From Scene intern Mark Wheeler: Oregon sports has hit the big time. Not with the football team's recent trip to the Rose Bowl, or their famous Nike sponsorship -- but rather with the four unsavory arrests of players in 2010, including star running back LaMichael James. While former Vols coach "He Who Must Not Be Named" (cough Lane Kiffin cough) demonstrated in 2009 that you can have players arrested and still have a lackluster season, there does seem to be a disconcerting correlation between arrests in the program and winning percentage.

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Umbrella Boy Issues His Guiding Principles

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 9:40 AM

A featherweight candidate? Bill Haslam promises to prioritize when times are bad.
  • A featherweight candidate? Bill Haslam promises to prioritize when times are bad.
We're so sorry about calling Bill Haslam clueless in today's Scene. Little did we know he was about to issue his "Ten Guiding Principles for Conservative Fiscal Leadership." Not since he opened that red umbrella have we been so impressed. Gail Kerr is probably already on the phone with Tom Ingram taking dictation for her next column. Haslam's weighty principles would make Winston Churchill proud.
Mayor Haslam's 10 principles are: 1. First ask the question, should state government actually be doing this? 2. Always ask the question, is this the most efficient and effective way to do it? 3. Manage conservatively and spend less than you take in 4. Hold the reins when times are good 5. Prioritize when times are bad 6. Avoid debt 7. Keep taxes low 8. Ensure Tennessee remains a state WITHOUT an income tax 9. Ensure every initiative of state government is producing a measurable, positive outcome 10. Be a faithful steward of taxpayer dollars
OK, it took a little too long to get to No. 8. (We hope these principles aren't in order of importance.) And Nos. 9 and 10 sound pretty much the same as Nos. 1 and 2, plus there's no need for No. 4. And there's nothing about how, in following his guiding principles, he will manage not to close schools or release murderers from prison. But all in all, this tells you all you need to know about how Haslam would govern Tennessee. And don't you just love those red umbrellas?

Morning Roundup: Lamar, Vandy, Gibson, and Fish Tanks in Barbershops

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Were Vanderbilt students spied on by university management when they met with campus workers to talk about their low pay and working conditions? ... Lamar Alexander explains why he voted yes for the bill he said a day earlier was a "partisan proposal" that "ignores key benefits for unemployed Americans" ... Gail Kerr cuts bait on Rep. Ty Cobb's efforts to stop the exclusion of fish tanks from barbershops ... That bill to prohibit "drive-through" beer sales has passed out in committee ... How much have black Nashvillians profited from stimulus money? The Tennessee Tribune reports: not much ... Hurray! Tennessee ranks No. 11 in the country! Oops! It's for reported STDs ... Vital signs for the developing downtown med mart: a partnership with Lipscomb to create an incubator for new health-care companies within the facility ... To make up snow days, Metro school days will run a half-hour longer starting next month ... More sour notes in the press for Gibson Guitar: Moody's lowered its credit rating, expressing concerns about the guitar giant's liquidity ... A Scene restaurant review triggers an online tussle between vegans and carnivores ... UPDATE: How could we have missed WSMV-Channel 4's exposé of "Bic" Lineweaver and his campaign-season purchase of 20,000 self-embossed pens on the taxpayer's dime? Hat tip: the vigilant Mr. Woods.

Scientists Defy Brentwood Bizpigs, Insist World Is Warming

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 7:34 AM

In addition, we'd like to take this opportunity to inform Ramsey and Wamp that the earth isn't flat.
  • In addition, we'd like to take this opportunity to inform Ramsey and Wamp that the earth isn't flat.
Attn: Zach Wamp, Ron Ramsey and all SUV-driving Brentwood Chamber of Commerce members: Despite the cold winter, global warming really is happening. That's the unfortunate verdict of scientists who actually know what they're talking about.
"It's not warming the same everywhere but it is really quite challenging to find places that haven't warmed in the past 50 years," veteran Australian climate scientist Neville Nicholls told an online climate science media briefing. "January, according to satellite (data), was the hottest January we've ever seen," said Nicholls of Monash University's School of Geography and Environmental Science in Melbourne. "Last November was the hottest November we've ever seen, November-January as a whole is the hottest November-January the world has seen," he said of the satellite data record since 1979.
So let's review: Wamp and Ramsey may shiver sometimes and it has snowed occasionally in their general vicinity this winter, but that doesn't mean the world isn't warming. Even Brentwood will have to deal with it eventually. We know it's a difficult concept for you to grasp, but please try. You can do it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tennessee Loses Top Billing in Crazy Gun Law Competition

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 7:27 AM

Here's an idea: Let's legalize machine guns mounted on our pickups
  • Here's an idea: Let's legalize machine guns mounted on our pickups

The New York Times printed another story today about the rush to loosen gun laws around the country and, for once, Tennessee didn't get top billing. In part, that's because some states are only now catching up with what our legislature did last session in the Year of the Gun in Tennessee. But we have to admit it--some legislatures are ahead of us in finding new and innovative ways to let gunmen prowl unimpeded around their states.

Too bad the Times didn't know about our legislature's upcoming "machine-gun shoot." We do merit notice in the article along with Montana for our Firearms Freedom Act. A first-of-its-kind-law, it purports to exempt this state from federal firearms regulation (but doesn't really because that's unconstitutional).

For cutting-edge gun laws, though, Arizona and Wyoming are the hands-down winners. Their lawmakers are considering letting residents carry concealed weapons without any permits at all. Now that's firearms freedom!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fact-Checking Bill Haslam's TV Ad

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 5:56 PM

While some in the media go gaga over the red umbrellas in Bill Haslam's first TV ad, others are checking the spot's facts. One of Haslam's rivals, Bill Gibbons, already has pointed out that it's more than a little misleading for the ad to claim Haslam brought Knoxville's lowest property tax rate in 50 years when he raised property taxes by 15 percent as mayor. Now, Knoxville's Channel 6 notes the ad's claims about jobs are shaky too. The conclusion:
So does the ad pass the truth test? While the claims are based on facts, some of the statements are misleading. But like most campaign ads, there's truth and there's spin. This ad has a little of both.

Another Play Date at the Gun Range for the Tennessee Legislature

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 1:32 PM

At last year's play date, Ron Ramsey pretends he's a bad ass.
  • At last year's play date, Ron Ramsey pretends he's a bad ass.
Our hard-working Tennessee legislature is getting excited about taking a little time off from the people's business to go play with guns next week. Yes, it's the legislature's annual play date with firearms courtesy of Hero-Gear and Barrett Firearms. Last year's event was perhaps the most successful yet. No fewer than 75 lawmakers interrupted their all-important work at the Capitol and made a mad dash for the firing range where they shot various kinds of weaponry and acted like tough guys. Last week, Jeffrey T. Malotte, Esq., the House Judiciary Committee research analyst, sent an email to members posing this question: Since just about everyone's going on this field trip, why bother to schedule a committee meeting to vote on stuff? Here's his email:

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We Should Have Had a Citywide Betting Pool on This!

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 8:50 AM

Man, just think how much money the Scene could have raised if we'd hosted a citywide pool on how long it would be until we had our first new convention center scandal. Shoot, if only we'd been smart enough to start taking bets way back when the thing was proposed. We could have broken it into segments, handed out prizes for whoever predicted the timing of the "What's a few hundred thousand dollars between friends?" PR scandal and had another prize now for whoever had "less than a week" for "How long between the time demolition begins and the discovery of some embarrassing fiasco?" It'd be fitting for us to start making money off of the ridiculous failures of the convention center, a nice mirror to The Tennessean's embarrassing $15,000 giveaway to the convention center. But, fine, we can't actually run a citywide illegal gambling game (though we totally know the people who could set it up). I don't think that should stop us from making predictions about what and how soon the next dust-up will be. Winner gets bragging rights. Make your best guesses in the comments.

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Morning Roundup: Down with the U.N. Rights of the Child

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 7:36 AM

The United Nations can't tell us how to raise our children, state senators say. They join the House in calling for Congress not to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. ... Unexpected federal money could lessen TennCare cuts. ... Capitol Hill police go to diversity training after a state trooper accidentally sends an e-mail proclaiming white pride to 787 state employees. ... Senate adopts bill to make it easier for deployed troops to vote. ... Packing sidearms while bow-hunting is legal under this bill. ... Lawmakers balk at helping more moderate-income Tennesseans pay their home heating bills this winter. ... Cold, not pollution, blamed for fish kill.

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