Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey denounces all those pointy-headed intellectuals who actually understand constitutional law.
"We're the volunteer state in the state of Tennessee. We're not going to listen to what some New York scholar says. We need to battle this."
The tea party has hijacked state government. Today as angry activists clogged the hallways of Legislative Plaza, giving lawmakers the stink eye and generally acting out, a House subcommittee passed, not one, but four measures purporting to overturn national health care reform.
None of these proposals would actually accomplish anything because all of them are obviously unconstitutional or silly or both. Two of them are identical--both bills that supposedly would nullify the law's mandate that all Americans buy insurance. There are two of these bills because their respective sponsors, Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Mae Beavers, are running against each other in August's primary and anxious to take sole credit for this monumental achievement. Two other measures are state constitutional amendments proposed by Lynn, one to ban the individual mandate and the other to decree that the free enterprise system will live forever in Tennessee. They all passed by voice votes to loud cheers from tea partiers.
The state Senate just voted 28-2 to force medical offices where abortions are performed to post this sign in 40-point type:
"Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person's relationship to you, to coerce you into having or to force you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened criminal offense to coerce an abortion."
The bill, which is on the House floor this afternoon, fines clinics $2,500 and physicians $1,000 for every day the sign isn't posted conspicuously in patient waiting areas.
Tuesday was the Obesity Task Force Day on the Hill. I'll admit that I hadn't really thought much about them -- other than to make fun of whether they were going to help obese people such as myself do tasks, or if they were going to assign tasks to us.
But then I saw that the Obesity Task Force has goals like encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables and to exercise more and to breastfeed. And I began to suspect that this was a task force made up of people who are not obese but staring in from the outside.
After randomly sampling the list of members, then googling them and looking up all the heads of committees, I saw some people you might describe as "plump." But I saw no one you'd describe as obese.
This is unsurprising for two reasons.
An attempted hit on a Bloods gang member results in a gunfight outside a coin-op laundry at 28th & Clifton near Swett's. This level of violence -- in broad daylight, in a popular Nashville commercial district -- sends the chilling message that gangs think they rule the city ... One of the Belmont neighborhood's most beautiful historic homes goes up in flames. No one is injured, but the million-dollar home suffers massive damage. ... Legislators to Tennessee's environment and abused horses: Drop dead. ... Why can a nonprofit religious charity discriminate against non-Christian employees? Because it's a nonprofit religious charity, that's why. ... Meanwhile, a Baptist worker at an East Tennessee Lowe's sues because the store makes him work Sundays. ... A Brentwood security firm threatens to sue a woman who was raped by one of its former employees. ... New details about the suicide of an accused Clarksville murder suspect in his cell last year. ... Will Kim McMillan exit the governor's race to run for mayor of Clarksville? ...
Things Are Tough All Over Dept.: Even Council members face losing their phone lines. ... Jennifer Justus has a great piece on taking Chef Thomas Keller to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. ... For the cost of roughly 5,000 gallons of organic milk, you could own a Nissan Leaf. ... Great news: The Franklin Theatre gets a $3.2 million loan for renovation, thus assuring the historic theater's survival. ... Have you reserved your copy of the supposed Mindy McCready sex tape? ...
If you don't keep up with The Onion AV Club's awesome monthly "Wrapped Up in Books" feature, you should. This month: Stephen Dobyns' The Wrestler's Cruel Study. Our humble suggestion for future AV Club study: Eric Kraft's marvelous Herb 'n' Lorna and the surrounding Peter Leroy books. ...
Here's Sen. Mae Beavers giving a scary interview in which she displays an alarming ignorance about state and national issues. As her interviewer murmurs "uhuh, uhuh" indulgently, the chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee begins by explaining her legislation challenging national health care reform:
"You would have a choice as to whether or not you want to take the national health care or your own insurance policy," she says as if there actually is a "national health care" that somebody's forcing us to buy.
It's "more or less telling the federal government, stay out of our business, let us buy our own health care," she adds.
Later, she offers her meandering thoughts on the state budget, bizarrely claiming we once enjoyed a $1.5 billion surplus and now suffer a $1.2 billion shortfall--both of which are false.
"It seems kinda crazy when we look at three years ago we had a $1.5 billion surplus. I voted against the budget then and said we need to save that money and also at that time gave huge increases to some of the commissioners and now we're cutting some of the employees. ... This year we're looking at a $1.2 billion shortfall. So I think we've got to be very careful not knowing what the future holds."
Bill Haslam's back on the air in the governor's race, this time with a 30-second TV ad. The ad itself isn't available yet on YouTube, but here's the script:
"What kind of man knocks on doors? Pouring rain, or sun is shining, to talk about being governor. The kind that marries his college sweetheart, loves her even more twenty-nine years later. Bible study every week. A father of three, helped raise 'em right. Coached a lot of kids sports teams. That's Bill Haslam. That's Tennessee."
Wow! He knocks on doors and loves his wife and goes to Sunday school. That's all we need to know. He'd make a great governor. We think it's a safe bet that a red umbrella appears somewhere in this spot. (Cue the Gail Kerr gushing.) Here's another pretty easy prediction to make: Haslam is up on television for the duration now, and his standing in the polls is about to start a steady incline.
Update: What's the buy? We asked campaign flack Dave Smith and here's his reply: "Cable only. Statewide." So the campaign is going cheap for some reason. That's confidence for you. No need to blow out the opposition so early. Why bother? As for whether Haslam is up to stay, Smith says, "We have a plan and we're working our plan."
In a startling development today in the governor's race, Mike McWherter finally stopped cowering in the corner, stood up on his hind legs and called out Republicans for all their ridiculous grandstanding against national health care reform. He even mocked Zach Wamp's signature line in which the Wampster vows to meet President Obama at the state line if he comes here to confiscate our weaponry or make us buy health insurance or whatever.
Gov. Phil Bredesen may think this lawsuit by some states to block health care reform is legit and reasonable, but at a candidate forum, McWherter disagreed. He called the health care overhaul "the law of the land" and criticized Republicans for demanding that Tennessee join the lawsuit against it:
"Access to affordable, adequate health care is something that every Tennessean ought to have. And this should not be an issue that we politically grandstand about. Wamp is about to tell you something about you can meet them at the state line and how he's going to fight this issue all the way through. But that is not how you solve problems."
Call us crazy but we think we hear a real Democrat talking in Tennessee. What's McWherter thinking?
No pigtails Pink, just pig.
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I'd be willing to take your money. Bitch.