After eloquently discussing the benefits of blowing the tops off our mountains, the inaptly named House environment subcommittee adjourned for the year today without voting on legislation to stop coal companies from doing it.
That effectively kills the bill for the third straight year, which is a really good thing if you believe what its opponents say.
Take Zeb Mountain, which has been flattened by mountaintop removal mining. The once-proud peak in the Upper Cumberland looks devastated but, according to Tennessee Mining Association president Chuck Lane, it's a tourist attraction now:
"We're creating tourism places. Those of you who have visited Zeb Mountain, you've seen what we're doing to Zeb Mountain. We've taken that from a cesspool and, within a year, it'll have trees growing. It'll be green. The intent of the owner is to sell houses up there. You couldn't sell anything up there prior to this."
That's right, they should erect signs on the interstate: See the Amazing Ecological Disaster. Three-toed Frogs. Winged Salamanders. Zeb Mountain: Share the Wonder!
It's a rite of spring: birds chirp, flowers bloom, and state lawmakers start killing all remaining pieces of progressive legislation. The sponsors have been writhing in agony all session with their bills languishing in committee. Against the odds, they hope they might persuade at least a few of the legislature's many knuckle-draggers to vote yes. It never happens.
This morning, the House Agriculture Committee struck down Rep. Janis Sontany's bill to make cruelty to farm animals a felony instead of a misdemeanor, just like cruelty to pets like cats and dogs. Despite a mighty Scene crusade in favor of this bill, Sontany couldn't even coax a motion for passage out of this committee of hillbillies, much less a second. Our influence over public affairs is overwhelming, isn't it?
The Farm Bureau hated this bill, and the legislature is the lapdog of the Farm Bureau. (No pun intended.) Recall that last week, the committee's Frank Niceley suggested that to stop the suffering of horses, we should eat them.
Location: Happily, right around the corner from the Dairy Queen
Approximate Age of Patrons: Mostly 6-8 year olds
Topics of Conversation: "I got some new shoes."
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: Trucks and family vehicles
Perceived Safety: Very high
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: It's not dog friendly
Number of pitbulls sighted: Just mine
Incorporation of Local History: None
Recommended Patrons: Ball players
For once, Tennessee makes the top two in something education-related: the $500 million "Race to the Top" program. ... J.R. Lind addresses overnight changes at Post Politics. Good luck, ACK. ... The white-supremacist numbskull who plotted to kill President Obama pleads guilty to eight counts of related idiocy. ... A North Nashville man opens his door, has a brief conversation, then is shot multiple times. ... Gail Kerr says Margaritaville reps and downtown historic preservationists are meeting quietly to hammer out a compromise. Some people claim that there's a -- aw, skip it. ... Tennessee Republicans launch their quest to drive a stake through the heart of a state income tax once and for all. Making up that predicted $75 million shortfall should be a snap. ... A motorcyclist dies after attempting to pop a wheelie on the Old Hickory River Bridge. ... Will he or won't he: Conservative Murfreesboro businessman Ira Brody considers a run against Rep. Jim Cooper, evidently thinks better of it for now. ...
The car-sharing program "WeCar" prepares to make its Music City debut as part of Nashville's alternative-transportation efforts. ... Just days after the death of Dr. Christ Koulis, his attorney files to eliminate the deceased doctor's homicide conviction. ... What will the new health care bill mean for Tennesseans? Here's a breakdown. ... Two online poker buddies go all in and get married on their first date. ... At Bites, Nicki Wood checks out the new, improved Yazoo Brewery space downtown. ... Film fanatics, meet your new best-friend-slash-timesuck: Trailers from Hell, via Dennis Cozzalio's awesome blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. ...
SouthComm announced today it has laid off seven people in response to the loss of a significant client.
"With the decision of one of our clients that ran a significant amount of foreclosure notices with us to move that business to another paper, we were left with no choice but to make cost adjustments," SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell said. "Unfortunately, in our business that mostly means reducing staff. We will be working with the people we are having to let go to help them through this process as much as we can."
Ferrell also said none of the company's nine publications is at risk, adding that the company as a whole remains strong.
Founded in late 2007, SouthComm now employs 141 people, the majority of them in Middle Tennessee.
Pastor Maury Davis, Middle Tennessee's own Jesus magnate, may have gone off the deep end in a recent sermon on the Antichrist. No, not off the deep end like last time. But even compared to his sermon inciting hatred toward Muslims, this one seems firmly rooted in an alternate reality.
A strange Tweet led Pith to this cache of crazy. Let's take it point by point, shall we?
"(The Antichrist's) first promise will be something that people bite at, and yet they have been seduced into being ensnared like a fish that looks at a lure and misunderstands it. What he thinks is good is actually the death of him. There'll be a promise of something like 'Change you can believe in.' "
I do believe Davis just semi-obliquely compared the president to the Antichrist.
"And now Americans are saying this is change we don't want. But because you bit the lie, we're in a struggle for the future of our nation because we have moved from our Judeo-Christian biblical truths that you need to be responsible for you and you need to put your faith in God and no other, because we have moved away from individual responsibility to an entitlement mentality."
Is that what America is saying? I wonder how God feels about Davis turning church into a Republican rally. And this message: I'm responsible for myself and myself alone. Screw the meek! So much for Leviticus: "If one of your countrymen is poor and unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident ..." Jesus, as Davis tells it, was a Reagan Republican!
I wonder what happens when a person heretofore committed to not filling out the census sees this video from Kirk D. Lyons, chief trial counsel of the Southern Legal Resource Center?
Do you still not fill out the census because Obama and his minions will use the information to round up white people and put us all in socialist reeducation camps staffed exclusively by illegal immigrants? (And is there, I wonder, going to be a double layer of anger? We're angry that we're being reeducated into commie socialist Hitler clones, but we're also pissed that the job of reeducating folks into commie socialist Hitler clones doesn't go to "real Americans"?)
Below, Ron Wynn surfs the week's TV offerings, skimming from Law & Order: Criminal Intent's farewell to Vincent D'Onofrio to the new CSI-style scalpel opera Miami Medical.
I often find that space constraints and the logical progression of stories leave out fascinating details -- juicy, homeless little thought-nuggets. What to do with them? Dump 'em on Pith, that's what. So here's the overflow from an interview I had with Rep. Jim Cooper, the subject of a City Paper piece today on health care reform and its politics. You'll find Cooper's take on Republicans as so-called fiscal conservatives, his reaction to Biden's F-bomb at the bill signing, and the state of health insurance:
On Republicans: "They decided pretty early on at the start of last year that they didn't want to participate. I was talking to Republicans as recently as last week who really wanted to vote for the bill but they were terrified of the consequences. One friend of mine...his son was begging him to go down in history as doing the right thing. The dad chickened out. These are good people. You shouldn't fault them, but they feel like they're in a straitjacket and they're terrified of some of these right-wing groups. This guy's a hardcore Republican -- lifelong, card-carrying Republican."
On Ted Kennedy: "The irony is it might have been a more moderate bill if Ted Kennedy were still living. He was a more self-confident liberal who didn't mind compromising with Republicans."
Brantley Hargrove has a compelling analysis of how Rep. Jim Cooper handled the health-care vote like a champ. ... Great try, Vols. ... How drastic will Metro's budget cuts be? Mayor Karl Dean is meeting with various department heads this week to see. ... On PostBusiness, E. Thomas Wood has a fascinating tidbit from Michael Lewis' new book (via Vanity Fair) on how a former VU doctoral student at Saint Thomas ended up a billionaire thanks to the collapse of the economy. ... Haiti's ambassador tells a Nashville congregation his immediate concern is sheltering 500,000 displaced people before the rains come. ... If you want a say in the North Nashville Community Plan, you've got two more chances. ...
Kleinheider uses an aphorism from the Coen brothers' Miller's Crossing to illustrate the downfall of Jason Mumpower. ... Hickman County parents want the head of the bus driver who dragged an 11-year-old girl 30 yards down the road. ... Is a Murfreesboro deputy's dyslexia becoming a campaign issue as the Rutherford County Sheriff's race heats up? ... In case you missed it: a very funny public apology from the screenwriter of Battlefield Earth. ...
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