Today marks the 10th anniversary of the start of The Iraq War. The prolonged debacle was premised on the idea that Saddam Hussein was stashing apocalyptic weapons in some dark corner of his kingdom, but for eight years, eight months and three weeks, it turned out that our war itself was the only Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
A decade later, I am not in much of a position to adequately sum up one of the longest wars in American history (shorter only than Vietnam, and the one still ongoing in Afghanistan). I was 14 when American forces invaded Iraq in 2003. I remember watching Shock and Awe — the cable-news-ready name of the initial assault — on CNN with my dad, and believing we must be going to get the bad guys. Like nearly all of us, I have never served in the military. The closest I ever felt to the bloody conflict was watching it begin between commercial breaks. I doubt mine is a unique experience.
The occasion was marked today in Iraq by a wave of bombings that killed 65 people and left more than 240 wounded. A devastatingly fitting event on the 10th anniversary of the start of a war that claimed the lives of 4,488 Americans, and, according to conservative estimates, over 150,000 Iraqis.
Among the fallen were 97 Tennesseans. Airman First Class Christoffer P. Johnson, 20, from Clarksville. First Lieutenant Andrew K. Stern, 24, of Germantown. Army Staff Sgt. Morgan D. Kennon of Memphis.
The list goes on and on.
With that astonishing comment from the rookie state representative, a House committee voted today to strip college student IDs from the list of acceptable photo IDs for voting under new legislation.
Unwittingly or not, Durham was only saying out loud what everyone knows Republicans have been trying to accomplish with their restrictions on voting rights. "The right people" are the ones who vote Republican. Unfortunately for college students trying to exercise their voting rights, we've learned from recent focus groups that many young people are rolling their eyes at the party of stuffy old men.
In the name of preventing nonexistent voter impersonation, the bill also bans Memphis library cards as acceptable voter photo ID. We don't need focus groups to know Memphians aren't "the right people" either.
Appalachian Voices doesn’t necessarily agree with every sentiment in this advertisement. It doesn’t matter if somebody is from Beijing or Bristol, we don’t think they should be blowing up mountains. We certainly don’t agree with the Conservatives Union on many important issues related to energy and the environment, but the fact that the Tennessee Conservatives Union is stepping up to stop mountaintop removal shows that the breadth of support for protecting Tennessee’s mountains ranges all the way from left-to-right, odd-to-even, and low-to-high.
The legislation (SB609/HB1000) does have some salutary features. Requirements that the resellers (be they ticket brokers or online marketplaces such as StubHub) disclose on their websites the face value and exact location of seats offered for sale, and say whether or not tickets are actually in their possession and ready for delivery, strike me as eminently reasonable. Regulating the industry by having brokers register with the state may also be an improvement, although the requirement that a registered broker "maintain a permanent office or place of business in this state" seems a tad 20th century.
As originally introduced it was a terrible bill, but the bill may be shedding some of its worst parts. A Senate committee last week approved an amended version that omits absurd provisions eliminating ticket holders' property rights and giving venues and original ticket issuers (such as Ticketbastard) unbridled power to monopolistic control over the resale market. A House committee takes up the measure later this week.
Two anti-immigrant bills are on tomorrow's legislative committee agenda: One by Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Mike Sparks is an English-only driver's license measure. It would eliminate translations of driving exams, sending a decidedly unwelcome message to the international community and hindering the operations of major state employers such as Volkswagen.
Another by Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Rick Womick requires the Tennessee Office of Refugees to reimburse the state for the cost of a refugee child's public education.
"Whether a child is from Arkansas or Somalia, educating children is an investment in our state, not a burden," says the refugee rights coalition's Eben Cathey in a message to supporters. "In a mean-spirited effort to pit vulnerable communities against each other, the sponsors of this bill included a provision to give the money they take from refugees to persons with disabilities. "
In a shocker, some Tennessee conservatives are joining the tree-huggers and moonbeams trying to pass a law banning coal companies from blowing the tops off our mountains. But conservatives aren't in it necessarily for any pussbag reasons like saving the environment. No, theirs is a manly purpose: Stopping Red China from dynamiting our sacred highlands and stealing our coal!
This ad—part of the newly launched media campaign by the Tennessee Conservative Union—references reports that we have become the first state in the nation to let a Chinese-owned company buy mineral rights and extract Tennessee coal. Triple H Coal Company, based out of Jacksboro, Tenn., was acquired by Guizhou Gouchuang Energy Holdings Group last year.
“Every Tennessean, regardless of political affiliation, should be appalled by the idea of allowing the red Chinese to destroy the very mountains crossed by Daniel Boone.” Tennessee Conservative Union chairman Lloyd Daughtery says. “We are calling on elected officials of both parties to stand up for Tennessee’s mountains and against the exploitation of our resources by a communist country. Tennessee is a proud red state, but the Tennessee Conservative Union is not willing to go that red.”
Legislation to ban this environmentally devastating method of coal mining is on the agenda in legislative committees tomorrow. For umpteen years, lawmakers in the back pockets of the coal companies have killed this bill, despite preachers and their congregations fervently praying for its passage.
The Glass Mounds are important because they're some of the largest remaining traces of the Woodland people who lived in Tennessee 2,000 years ago. These particular mounds date to between 200 and 500 A.D., and the cooperating organizations were hoping to show that aside from some damage done by earlier excavations, the mounds are intact. The good news is that this is the case.
Aaron Deter-Wolf, from the state, showed the small crowd how you could see a clear difference in the soil from where the top layers had been farmed and eroded and the actual structure of the mound, made up of wavy layers of baskets full of dirt. Most of us are more familiar with the later Mississippian culture with their stone box graves. But these Woodland people were a full millennium earlier. So, no stone box graves, no great ceremonial complexes. But the scant information we have on them suggests some cool stuff about the history of the area.
In the annals of Weird Tennessee Legislation, SB0469 is probably not at the top, or even in the middle, of the list. But it is a little strange.
State Sen. Frank Niceley and state Rep. Dale Carr want to exempt some coins — those made of precious metals — from sales tax. For instance, if I wanted to buy a Mercury dime from you and you wanted to charge me 5 or 10 bucks, which is obviously well over the face value of the dime, there'd be no state sales tax. But if you wanted to sell me a steel penny for, say, 15 cents, under this bill it appears that still might be taxable. (You'll see in a second that this isn't clear.)
Now this bill is obviously aimed at the American Eagle coins, which are sold in gold, platinum, and silver and sell for roughly the market value of the metal they're made of. On Monday when I looked, the gold 1-ounce American Eagle coin was going for about $1,600, and the price of an ounce of gold was about $1,600 per ounce. And it makes sense to me that, if you have a coin that's worth $1,600 and I give you paper money for $1,600, then there shouldn't be a tax on it. After all, I'm not really buying your coin any more than someone is buying my $10 bill off me if they give me 10 ones.
But this bill seems designed to mostly for the good of dumbasses:
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