Representative David Hawk

I have some thoughts. I wrote some of them up at Pith. Here are some others.

1. The next time Mike Turner goes at him, I’d prefer he didn’t bother to apologize.

2. Hawk has a track record. His ex-wife had to take a restraining order out against him.

3. While I’m certain Hawk thinks that telling everyone his wife pulled a gun on him will make everyone think that she’s a nutter and just making this all up, I would like to ask you to focus on the location of their child. Neither party disputes that the baby was in Hawk’s wife’s arms at one point or that Hawk left the house with the baby. Mrs. Hawk is severely bruised in the face. I will not be surprised if she pulled a gun on him, but judging by the fact that it is unlikely that a person is going to beat the shit out of someone holding a gun, I think it’s likely that, if she did pull a gun, she pulled it in order to stop the assault.

4. This is another prime example of why I will never recognize these people as having any moral authority over me. Stalk your last wife? Beat your current wife? And you think you can tell me how to run my life? Fuck no. Get your own house in order, asshole.

Where are the Police Reports?

Over on Twitter, I see that the Republicans are accusing the Occupy Nashville people of having peed on staffers. Now, my patience is thin for the Occupy Nashville people, but really? Someone fucking peed on your staffer and you… what? Why am I hearing nothing about police reports? I mean, of course, I don’t believe anyone peed on anyone. But my god, if someone peed on me in the course of my work day and I complained to my boss and nothing happened? Like he didn’t call the police or anything?

I would have the shittiest boss on the planet.

Don’t they get what a bad light this paints them in?

The Difference

I have been wondering why this is the thing conservatives are turning on Campfield about and last night I realized what it is.

No matter how conservative you are, no matter how much you want your kids to wait until they’re married to have sex, when your teenage son comes home with his first girlfriend, when you think about what he might get up to with her even though you have taught him not to, are you hoping Campfield’s words about how regular heterosexual people can’t get HIV ring in his ears or are you hoping that he remembers the advice of evil liberals to always wear a condom?

I think even conservatives who believe most people who get HIV somehow deserve it, are not quite willing to have their kids believe that only people who deserve it get HIV.

When It’s Someone You Love

I wrote a little about “tolerance” at Pith today. But I do just want to reiterate that, if you believe your personal beliefs or your religious beliefs compel you to hurt me or people I love, to lie about me and people I love, to dismiss my pain and the pain of people I love–in other words, if you believe you need to be able to harm me in order to satisfy your God or your conscience–I cannot tolerate you.

There is no “no harm, no foul” area in which we can agree to disagree. You believe you should be able to harm me and I believe you absolutely should not.

I think the mistake I keep seeing people on the other side of this issue making is that, rhetorically, they’re acting like this is just a difference of opinion and people like me are being assholes because we won’t “tolerate” a difference of opinion. But all along the way, Campfield is acting on his opinions. He drafts legislation based on his opinion that men should be in control of women and that women should not be able to do things with our bodies without male sanction. He drafts legislation based on his opinion that homosexuality is a lifestyle that must be kept hidden from children. And, based on his belief that no regular guy is going to get HIV from a regular girl (with all the bullshit packed into “regular” there), he gets up repeatedly in front of microphones and on his blog and tells his audience that they, “regular” people, don’t have to worry about HIV. It’s only for the deserving.

It takes seconds to put on a condom. You don’t have to play the odds or guess whether the person in front of you is “regular” or if she might have fucked an African or shot up in her wilder days or whatever.

It takes no effort to say “Hey, everyone can benefit from practicing safe sex.” Or, if you can’t say that because of your religious beliefs, you can say “I’d just like to remind everyone not to have sex until you’re married and to get tested and make sure that your fiancee is tested before you do.”

But notice that Stacey Campfield, who demands the right to hurt gay people because of his religion, isn’t fervently insisting that nobody have sex until they’re married.

Funny that.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. My point is that, even if Campfield’s religious beliefs are such that he thinks homosexuality is wrong and that straight people are very unlikely to get HIV, there are ways of making that point that don’t endanger straight men. That don’t dismiss the suffering of families who’ve lost “regular” people to AIDS. But, even within his own framework, he doesn’t not hurt people.

So, I think it’s clear why someone like me–a freak who loves freaks–would be grossed out by Campfield and would find the idea that I should tolerate someone who’s actively trying to hurt me and the people I love to be hilariously evil. But I wonder if it’s starting to dawn (or what it would take to get it to start to dawn) on people who are ostensibly on his side that he is fine with their suffering, too.

I wonder if it starts with lying to people about something that could get them very sick.

Regular Man, Regular Woman

From WBIR:

10News sat down with the senator where he confirmed his statements, but said it was taken out of context. He said that he acknowledges that heterosexuals can contract the virus. He meant that certain groups are at much higher risk for AIDS.

“A lot of people trying to gloss over and say it’s an every person disease but really it’s just those high risk people that are most likely to contract or spread that disease The odds of a regular man getting it from a regular woman are very low,” he said.

We asked, “What do you mean by ‘regular?'”

He said, “someone who is not from Africa, someone who is not a homosexual, someone who is not an IV drug user, someone who is not sleeping with someone who is one of those things.”

Africans aren’t regular people? People who sleep with Africans aren’t regular people?! This jackass wanted to join the Black Caucus and he doesn’t think people from Africa are regular people?

I am floored. It’s not that I can’t believe he thinks this. I truly do.

I can’t believe that it’s this incident that finally makes him just bald-face say what those of us who’ve been following his political career have long said is obvious subtext.

But here it is.

Yes, Those Monkey-Screwing Airline Pilots. I Hate Those Guys.

What we can learn from this Metro Pulse post.

1. Stacey Campfield has some strange ideas about what airline pilots get up to in their free time.

2. While I don’t believe you should fuck Stacey Campfield just out of general principle, you should for sure now not fuck Stacey Campfield, because he doesn’t understand how sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted. And he is a grown up. With internet access. And he doesn’t think straight people can get AIDS. And he’s an elected official. In charge of making the laws that govern us. People, he’s MY AGE!!!!

3. He’s not ashamed to be out in public spouting his monkey-fucking airline pilot giving gay people AIDS which heterosexual people cannot get from heterosexual sex conspiracy theories.

My mind continues to be boggled by this nincompoop.

Well, This Is Sad

Richard Floyd and David Fowler are confused about why their violent, vile bigoted rhetoric is being met with hostility. Fowler actually says, “The unfortunate thing in our culture is that we’re getting to the point where oftentimes we can’t say anything without it becoming uncivil and getting off the merits of the discussion.”

Fowler, everything you say is uncivil and little of it has any merit.

It’s high time everyone just treated you like this was so, rather than playing nice hoping that you’d treat them nicely in return.

Honestly, it’s Floyd and Fowler who make you realize just how revolutionary something like “Treat others as you’d like to be treated” is. These dumb jackasses are literally braying in alarm that they’re actually being treated how they treat everyone else.

Did they think that Jesus just issued that dictate for fun?

Hint: No.

It’s basically a law of human nature that people will treat you how they see you can be treated. And one of the ways they learn how you think you can be treated is to see how you treat others. Run around talking shit about everyone you think you’re better than and eventually the people who think they’re better than you are going to talk some shit about you.


You Should Absolutely Not Have John Ragan over to Dinner

I read this post today and by the end of it, my all-consuming thought was that no, Johnson should NOT be inviting Representative Ragan over to dinner because, clearly, there is not much keeping Ragan from being a danger to himself or others. Holy shit. Look at this part of the letter he wrote her:

Given that you identified yourself as a college student in political science preparing for law school, I am sure your instructors have emphasized that logic, as a decision methodology, is a far superior all others. Therefore, let’s examine some issues you raised with logic. Additionally, please attempt not to “read anything into my remarks or questions” as being my positions or thoughts beyond that which I explicitly identify as such.

Logically, homosexuality is defined by behavior, i.e., unless one engages in sexual activity with a member of the same sex, he, or she, is not a homosexual. (The term sexual orientation is a description of feelings.) Feelings do not control the behavior of a mentally healthy adult human being.

By way of emphasis, let’s examine a few questions: If a person “feels” so angry with another that he or she “feels” like killing the object of their anger, is that person “controlled” by that “feeling?” Alternatively, can the possessor of that “feeling” choose not to act on it? If that person fails to act on that “feeling,” is he or she still referred to as a “murder?”

Can a person feel so much lust toward another that he “feels” like committing rape? If such is a possibility, is that person “controlled” by that “feeling” or can he choose not to engage in that action? If that person fails to act on that “feeling,” is he still referred to as a “rapist?”

Can a slender person “feel” like overeating, but choose not to do so? Is that person still called “fatty?” Can someone “feel” like not going to work, but get up and go anyway? Is that person still called “lazy?” Can a nun “feel” like engaging in sexual relations, but choose to remain celibate? Is she called a “whore?” Can someone “feel” like committing adultery, but choose not to do so? Is that person still called an “adulterer?”

Can a parent feel so upset with the misbehavior of a child, that he or she “feels” like “beating” that child? Alternately, can a distraught parent choose to merely “discipline” a child with a lecture, a “time-out” or a “grounding” (dependent upon age) to reinforce a prohibition against poor, or dangerous, behavior.

The list of questions about “feelings” that do not control people could go on and on. However, the point is sufficiently made. Mentally healthy adult human beings are not “controlled” by their “feelings.”

Let me just say that I can see why he’d add the “Additionally, please attempt not to ‘read anything into my remarks or questions’ as being my positions or thoughts beyond that which I explicitly identify as such,” because dude has issues.

And let me also just say that this is one way in which I feel really bad for men. Most men don’t rape women or children. They don’t beat their loved ones or seriously entertain the idea of killing people. But the men who do seriously entertain these ideas–who sit around asking things like “but what if she was really drunk, then would it be okay?” or “but what if he said something that made me really mad, then could I hit him?”–as if identifying some circumstances in which any man might be backed into doing what the serious entertainers want too do all the time reaffirms for the serious entertainer of these vile ideas that they have wide-reaching community support, even when they don’t.

You see what I’m saying? With rape, this is really obvious how this dynamic works. A guy whose m.o. is to get women too drunk to fight him off and isolated so that he can do what he wants to those women without being stopped hears discussions about guys who are concerned about times when both people are really drunk and maybe the guy didn’t get an explicit yes, but she seemed into it, as being not about miscommunications between sex partners and a true hope that one’s partner is having a good time, but about reaffirming that all men will have sex with women without caring if the women want to have sex.

But you also see it in discussions about spanking (though theses become fraught enough quickly enough that you see it less than you used to), where people who are having a discussion about a swift swat to a kid’s backside made from a place of fear and panic are joined by someone who believes in blanket-training small infants or hitting children with plumbing equipment. To the people who physically punish their kids every day, talk of the time you just lost control and spanked your kid who tried to, say, kick you in the head in Kroger, it just sounds like they are doing what’s normal because you’re doing it sort of, too.

But I read Ragan’s letter and I think, you know, even if a nun were having sex with sixty guys, I wouldn’t call her a whore. I wouldn’t think to call her a whore. For me, there’s no hypothetical situation I’d recount where I’d call a nun a whore, even in the furtherance of “logic!”

It would also never occur to me that any man might look at a woman with lust and decide to rape her, because most men I know, even if they felt lust toward someone, would not enjoy having sex with someone who didn’t want to have sex with them. The fear and hatred, possibly sobbing, would be a turn-off.

Likewise with murder. Yes, I have, as everyone has, joked about wanting to kill so-and-so. But even feeling enraged at someone would never make me seriously consider killing someone. And, if it ever happened that I had to kill someone, I know I would find that momentously traumatic. I knew a woman once who was in a car accident, which was not her fault, and the other driver died. Not her fault. Couldn’t have done anything to prevent his death. And she still struggled tremendously from the guilt.

So, I have my sincere doubts about the kind of person who could even hypothetically envision that all that’s holding most people back from doing these things is that they don’t act on their feelings.

No, dude, honestly. Most people don’t have the urge to hurt other people.

It’s not to say that people don’t hurt other people. People are jackasses. But if you’re operating from a paradigm in which everyone is vile and depraved and it’s only “logic” or “reason” that prevents us from acting on it, I think you have both those things wrong. And I am a little afraid of you.

I’m also struck by again the lesbian loophole. Everything that he says is wrong with being gay is wrong with being a gay man. It’s as if lesbians don’t exist. But honestly, in all his descriptions, there are some really problematic things about female desire. I’m not sure he even realizes that it’s a thing.

Plus, since he doesn’t believe in homosexuality as a state of being, but only of acting–“Logically, homosexuality is defined by behavior, i.e., unless one engages in sexual activity with a member of the same sex, he, or she, is not a homosexual. “–it can’t be just gay men who have such high rates of AIDS and suicide and such. Following his own statement, there is no such thing as sexual orientation, just sexual action. So, Ragan’s defining certain behaviors and traits as more prevalent among “gay” men fails under his own logical framework, in which there are no such thing as inherently gay men. So, those behaviors and traits can’t be limited to the “imaginary” group of “gay” men, but must be assumed to be traits all men have.  But I notice Ragan isn’t volunteering to quit life and go down and sit at the police station where he can be constantly monitored just in case he ever loses control.

So, while he argues for a world view in which we are all just monsters tightly-reigned in, he seems pretty confident in his reigning-in abilities. I find that perplexing.

Honestly, this is one reason I wish my dad weren’t so homophobic. Because I’d like to have a better idea of how Middle America white guys born in the 40s were socialized. Was the pressure to get married so enormous for so much of your life that you literally never had to confront or consider whether you were sexually attracted to women, because, even if you weren’t, it didn’t change the trajectory of your life (unless it just completely obliterated your whole life)? So, if you couldn’t imagine moving away and losing all contact with and support from your family, you couldn’t imagine a deliberately non-married life?

I mean, I’m trying to understand what it means when someone argues that just feeling like you’re gay doesn’t mean anything unless you act on it.

Does it mean that, within their own understanding of their sexuality, they do what they were told to do, whether it’s what they want or not? I mean, I don’t think that everyone who has these ideas is secretly gay.

But I do wonder if they’re all married to the people they want to be married to, frankly.

I’m going on way too long–I’m drinking a lot of Diet Dr Pepper because it makes my throat feel better and it’s got me a little wired–but, when I look at Ragan’s letter, I do see a guy for whom gay marriage is a threat.

Because getting gay married means, at core, choosing to marry the person who you want to marry, even if the state refuses to recognize it, even if it breaks your families’ hearts.

It means putting your feelings ahead of logic and reason.

And I imagine, for a lot of people who set aside their feelings to do the “right” thing, the discomfort and jealousy from seeing people who took another way can feel like a threat.

It’s one thing to do the “right” thing, even at great sacrifice, if it’s recognized by society as being good. But when you are in the middle of your difficult, “right” thing that has caused you to make great sacrifices and society turns away from your performance and goes to celebrate with the folks who are throwing their lot in with foolish feelings like “love,” that’s got to burn.

What I’m saying is that I respect that it feels like a loss to you.

But it is not even in the same ballpark of loss as what Phillip Parker’s family, for instance, is going through this week.

You should have been able to marry who you wanted, or not marry at all. You deserved real, open love with a person who saw you as a partner, not a bully or a burden. You deserved to not have to contort yourself into someone who thinks his own gender makes him vile in order to fit your community.

And I am genuinely sorry that your own writing seems to show that you did not get that.

But not sorry enough to let you carry on without noting how fucked up it is.

Beth Harwell Needs to Put Her Boot in Floyd’s Butt

The more I think about this, the more grossed out I get. If you read the Times Free Press article, it’s even clearer how fucked up this is. First of all, it’s fucked at the level of “does my legislation do what I seem to want it to do?” Floyd heard about an incident in Texas where a woman was fired from Macy’s for refusing to let a teenager she considered male use the women’s changing room. Floyd’s response to feeling outrage over that (rightfully or not) is to introduce legislation to make it a crime to use the bathroom or changing room in a public place of the “wrong” gender?

Macy’s isn’t a public place. Floyd’s bill wouldn’t even address the scenario he’s so outraged about.

For starters, Harwell should read him the riot act for that–piss-poor legislation writing that doesn’t do what you want it to do.

But that needs to be followed up by something and I’m not sure what. Dude hears about a kid doing something he doesn’t like clear in Texas and his response is to file this piece of shit legislation that doesn’t even do what he wants it to do and then he fantasizes about how he’d kill a person like that (and let me point out, apparently in violation of the law he wants to enact, since he’d have to go into the dressing room to do it), in public, to reporters. Yes, under the guise of “protecting” his family.

But Christ, I have to tell you, the list of people I now believe are in physical danger from Representative Floyd based on his words and behavior yesterday is transgender people–especially transgender women, gender non-conforming people of any sort, and his family. And I frankly wouldn’t know how to rank those. I believe his vitriol toward transgender women is clearly at the point where it’s affecting his judgment about whether he’s acting appropriately and affecting his behavior, but he is around his family all the time.

I’m not saying that folks don’t fantasize about killing people. I’m saying that when you’re bragging openly about it to reporters, that’s the time when your boss needs to step in and do something. I can’t think of any other scenario in which a person with a job that requires some kind of public service would be allowed to tell reporters about how he fantasizes about killing certain members of that public and he’d still be allowed to keep his job without any repercussions.

This is a dude whose own words reveal that he is coming unmoored from acceptable social behavior. We live in a state where we’ve had some horrific high-profile murders of transgender women and their killers have never been caught. So, we live in a place where Floyd has reinforcement for his belief that murdering a transgender woman would be repercussionless. I don’t know if he’s a bomb waiting to go off, but dear god, who wants to wait and see? He’s said what he’ll do. And he’s proud of it. I think we have to take him at his word about that.

For the safety of our community, there needs to be some kind of intensive intervention. And I don’t know who other than Beth Harwell can do it.

Will she?

I don’t know.

I’m Going to Spend My $2.84 on Peanut M&Ms, I Can Tell You Right Now

Oh lord, Governor Baby has announced his big tax break for working Tennesseans. He wants to lower the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries from 5.5% to 5%, which Jim Voorhies points out will save each of us $2.84 a year.

Believe me, I find this funny just at the level of “guy who’s never been poor a day in his life ‘helps’ by lowering taxes but so slightly that it shows how out of touch he is.”

But I do feel a little bad for Republicans. I mean, you can’t expect people to take your desire to lower taxes seriously when you’re lowering them by an amount of money most of us have on the floor of our cars. This isn’t tax reform. It’s tax “reform.” It’s a soundbite disguised as doing something to help people.

And, when people see that $18 million dollars, spread across all of us is $2.84, it really seems like an insult.

And fucking Craig Fitzhugh is agreeing with this? Dude, keep my $2.84, buy me a shake at Sonic and we’ll call it even.

Honestly, it’s as if they have no idea how to fix the state, so they’re just handing us each three dollars.

Um, thanks, I guess.

And, frankly, releasing news that each of us will get three dollars in a move that will cost the state $18 million on the same day that you announce you’re going to lower the estate tax in a way that costs the state $14 million and that benefits about 200 people (meaning they’ll all get an extra $70,000 a piece) is so boneheaded I almost think Haslam should fire his communications staff. I get three bucks, but some dead rich person’s daughter gets $70,000 just because of who her dad is?

It’s hilarious. They’re so populist until push comes to shove. Then we get three bucks and the special people get $70,000.

The governor’s the baby, but I’m the one who feels like pitching a fit.

I Laugh to Keep from Crying

Though, honestly, when I read these assholes speculating that poor Jacob Rogers killed himself because he was gay and not because he was bullied about being gay, I do laugh. I laugh because we have such small cowards ruling us. And it’s not just that they’re afraid of gay people and women and poor people and illegal immigrants. They’re afraid of the generosity of their own hearts.

Any person who is in touch with his own soul would be shaken by the suicide of any young person. One might expect any self-professed Christian to be filled with grief and compassion.

But not these small fuckers. No, they want legal protections for bullies as long as they’re bullying because of their religious–read: Christian–beliefs.

People, just sit with that a while. Followers of Jesus, yes Jesus Christ, want their religious right to bully people protected. It’s not “turn the other cheek.” It’s “force the people we hit to turn the other cheek.”

You have to laugh. Granted, it’s a Kurt Vonnegut laugh, but it’s a laugh.

Okay, Tennessee Republicans. It’s Time for Someone to be the Grown-Up Here.

I know, I know. It’s the holidays. You’re busy with family. You’re enjoying the thought of poor people who don’t have jobs struggling under the burden of providing Christmas for their families. Why do I want to so cruelly ruin that by asking you to do right by the State.

Well, I’m sorry. But honestly? This?

“[Campfield] estimated the costs could be kept to ‘only $4 or $5’ by limiting the tests to ‘hardcore illegal drugs’ such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.”

We’ve suffered through Campfield’s “keeping bitches in line” legislation. We’ve suffered through “Can’t say gay.” And, really, I think the public scorn we’ve earned as a state has been more than enough.

One of you has to educate Campfield about pot. Obviously, it’s not going to be Ron Ramsey, which should be mortifying to Ron Ramsey, but fine. One of the others of you has got to step up. I don’t care how you do it. A phone call in which you explain to him that here in the real world, marijuana isn’t a hardcore drug or you slip him some pot brownies, wait for him to get the munchies, and then ask him if he feels like a social deviant. Whatever.

Just please. Let us not be the state–when the whole rest of the country is moving toward at least a semi-reasonable stance on marijuana use–that becomes known for our “Reefer Madness” levels of naive paranoia.

Honestly, normally I get pissed off at Campfield, but this? This is just sad.

At the least, we now know that all the libertarians who run around “Oh, Campfield’s a good guy. You’d like him if you met him.” don’t actually trust him.

Didn’t the Republicans Win?

I have to say, there’s a certain something that, once Southern Beale pointed it out, I’ve not been able to unsee: the rise of the unnamed, put-upon Republicans.

In Beale’s post, there’s a quote from Ron Ramsey: “Most people don’t want to be cited publicly. … They are dealing with the Department of Revenue, the Department of Environment and Conservation, and think there will be repercussions.”

Then Jeff Woods has this quote from Governor Baby:

But after drawing withering criticism in the media and elsewhere for his crackdown, Haslam is biding his time and walking gingerly around this topic. The public swamped the governor’s office with complaints about the arrests. Of 400 emails to the governor’s office, only 11 supported Haslam. He now acknowledges both sides in the controversy and casts himself as caught in the middle.“

You know, this is one of those that there’s a lot of opinions on. I have a lot of people who thought that when we went in and tried to implement a curfew that we were wrong,” the governor told reporters last week. “I’ve had a whole lot of people say I can’t believe that’s happening on that property. If I went and set up a tent there four weeks ago, would you have let me stay? So there’s a lot of passionate feelings around it on both sides.”

(Now, let’s just acknowledge that it’s a bit strange, when you find yourself between 400 people on one side and 11 people on the other, to cast yourself as being in the middle of any thing. But more importantly, note the “whole lot of people” who remain nameless.)

And then over at Pith, Rick Womick is telling Steve Gill about more nameless people: “As for my fellow legislators, I’ve gotten multiple phone calls of support and text messages of support. Those who are not wanting to speak out publicly are not wanting to come out and condemn me either. They are quietly supporting me in the background.”

Here is my question: Didn’t the Republicans win? Do we not live in a state where the Democratic party is a hopeless clusterfuck of “As long as I get mine, fuck the rest of you” and well-meaning people who get burnt out throwing themselves against the immovable wall of the “I got mine” folks?

So, why are so many Republicans, who seem to be thrilled with the behavior of prominent Republicans, not willing to come forward and say so in public? If these are popular and wide-spread opinions, if the majority of Tennesseans put you in office, why are so many Republicans not willing to say “Yes, I believe this”; “Yes, I saw this”; “Yes, I, too, experienced this” and put their names on it?

The Republicans are in charge. The Democrats are in disarray. Who are these Republicans afraid of?

Is this really such a state full of chickenshits that even when the political costs could not be lower, Republicans still won’t step up and own their positions?

It’s Not an Orgy, It’s an Episode of The Conservative Soap Opera

Previous seasons of The Conservative Soap Opera have included storylines “Fucking Roger Abramson, How Does He Work?” (Sadly, we couldn’t talk to no scientists, because they motherfuckers lying and getting us pissed.) and “The Gal Who Helped Me Fuck My Wife Over Seems to Have Helped Her Boyfriend Fuck Me Over. How Could This Have Possibly Happened? Oh, Right, Because I’m a Creepster.” (This storyline, obviously, is ongoing.)

And now, it’s obvious that Occupy Nashville is another storyline in The Conservative Soap Opera. You have to groups of rich folks–one group is really, really rich and they all talk like Nebraskans and are loosely affiliated with the oil industry and then there’s their arch enemies, the less rich, but still very rich “populists” mostly from East Tennessee who didn’t go to fancy-pants colleges and who love the coal industry. Not that the oil industry or the coal industry have any particular thing to do with this storyline. Yet. Who knows? Maybe the rich populists will start driving coal-fired steam-engine cars between their homes and Nashville in order to stick it to the “Elites” and the EPA. Oh, man. That would be marvelous. Please, let there be coal-fired steam-engine cars at the end of this.

Anyway, I was wondering why Ramsey didn’t come out in support of the protesters in order to stick it to Haslam. But I should have guessed that he’d be waiting for this moment, when the governor decided to drop all charges against the protesters and the media. Now that Haslam seems to have gone soft on the liberals, here’s Ramsey with his “I think they ought to be removed. I do. I’ll bet you that if I took a Boy Scout troop up there and camped out over the weekend, they wouldn’t allow them to do it. That’s just my opinion. I think they’ve gone way too far.”

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha. Really, Fake Governor? Now you’re speaking out?! No, no, it gets better. He also says

“The allegations that have been there that have gone on, with sexual misconduct, things of that nature, there is a limit to this, and I do think this is a public place, and everybody has their First Amendment rights, but I think they’ve overstepped their bounds, I do,” Ramsey said of the protesters.

And there it is. The “sexual misconduct” that Ramsey’s buddy Mumpower heard from a legislative assistant who, for some reason, didn’t report it to her legislator.

So, yes, it’s a two-pronged approach. Both gangs of conservatives are happy to pick on liberals, until they get their asses handed to them by the courts (and notice that Ramsey says nothing about the fact that Haslam’s hand has been forced by the courts. In Ramsey’s world, I guess the Governor can just defy whatever court orders suit him and toss journalists in jail with impunity.) but the rich populists are more than happy to try to make it seem like Haslam is just standing by while people are writhing around naked on the War Memorial Plaza like something out of Sodom and Gomorrah before God got pissed.

Never mind that there’s not one single picture of this “orgy,” not one single witness who has come forward without his or her words being filtered through the rich populist camp. In other words, so far all we have is the rich populist camp saying “I heard someone saw an orgy,” waiting a few minutes and then saying, “Oh my god, even more people are saying someone saw an orgy.” Um, yes, you are those more people. And you are the first witnesses. Conveniently.

See, pictures would discredit Occupy Nashville.

Rumors and innuendo discredit Haslam. So, that’s why the rich populists are going with rumors and innuendo in the absence of pictures.

It’s not about Occupy Nashville, it’s about the soap opera.

Interesting Republican Problems

We were talking about Mitt Romney at lunch yesterday and it seems to me that he represents a real problem for the Republican establishment. The base isn’t thrilled about him, but he’s so obviously the best candidate. Here’s what I think the Republican dilemma is. There are large segments of the American public who consistently vote Democrat who would be more at home with the Republicans–church-going Hispanics and Blacks, especially rural church-going Hispanics and Blacks–except that the Republicans have been such obvious odious choads to Hispanics and Blacks that they can’t gain a foothold in those communities. Mormons are, speaking broadly, an enormous and growing conservative base. They vote and vote Republican.

If the Republicans run Mitt Romney and Republicans don’t vote for him, it’s not just a matter of them losing their best shot against Obama. They risk losing Mormons. If Mormons feel that they can’t run for national office as Republicans because the Republican base objects to their religion, that’s going to be yet another growing segment of obviously conservative voters who can’t be comfortable in the Republican party.

And I think that’s part of the panic on the part of the Republican Party. If we just looked at the Republican candidates objectively–Romney would be the obvious choice. But can they afford to run Romney now and risk that his loss will alienate Mormons? Or do they ask him to wait four years and see how much attitudes have changed by then?

I also think the Beth Harwell problem is interesting. I mean, it makes sense to me that someone is polling to see how she’d run against Cooper. Harwell’s bright, she appeals to urban conservatives, and she holds the leadership of the State House. Of course she looks destined for bigger things. Yes, she was just elected Speaker of the House, but that’s the problem (and also why I’d bet $10 that the national GOP is behind the polling). Harwell should have a long political career ahead of her. I’m not sure she could beat Cooper now, but she definitely will NOT be able to beat Cooper if she becomes too closely associated with the anti-gay, anti-urban, anti-First-Amendment, pro-woo-hoo-we’re-idiots agenda of Tennessee Republicans. And as the leader of the House, she’s a really visible face to their movement.

So, the problem the GOP has is figuring out how long she can sit as Speaker and not become tainted beyond electability when they need her for bigger and better things.

The interesting thing about them polling to run her against Cooper now is that it indicates that the GOP believes that window is quite small.

Ron Ramsey Thinks Times aren’t Bad Enough

Honestly, it’s as if Ron Ramsey were like “Oh my god! Governor Baby is getting all this attention for being a big dick. I had better go on out there and be a big dick myself, lest anyone forget that I exist.” (Note: Ron Ramsey doesn’t actually use words like “lest” because he hates the elites. He also, as you’re about to find out, hates poor people. It’s not wonder he has to hang out with mining companies. Otherwise, he’d be very lonely here in Tennessee, where our two biggest natural resources are poor people and snobby assholes who talk like Nebraskans.)

So, Fake Governor Ramsey thinks that unemployment has become a lifestyle and that people would rather sit around and earn $285 dollars a week than work. “There are jobs out there. … It may not be the job you want, but there are jobs out there,” Ramsey says. Okay, then Fake Governor, maybe you should set up a website that lists those jobs, since apparently people are having some difficulties finding them on their own.

But even more telling are the examples of jobs that are empty that Ramsey gives, “He cited a trucking company that wants but can’t find drivers and a heating and cooling firm with unfilled technician positions.”

So, get this, people. Let this sink in. These are good jobs. And they can’t find people to fill them. And Ron Ramsey doesn’t think for three seconds about why that might be. No, the conclusion he jumps to is that people must prefer to sit at home on $285 a week than to drive a truck or work on HVAC units. Let me reiterate: what a fucking dick.

But Ramsey has inadvertently told Tennessee something useful–we seem to have no way for people with no money to get the training and credentials they need to do the jobs that are open. You might be a great truck driver, but if you can’t get licensed, you can’t do the job. Same thing with HVAC technician. It doesn’t matter if you’re perfect for the job, if you don’t have the training you need to do it. And if you’ve been out of work for a long time, how do you have the money to get trained? Can the trucking company or HVAC firm afford to train you? Obviously not or they would be.

So, instead of acting like he’s so much better than regular Tennesseans who are supposedly so damn lazy, why doesn’t Fake Governor Ramsey work in the next session to set up some kind of program that would allow people to apply for grants or low-interest loans to get the training they need to take the jobs that are open? Maybe work with the employers who need trained workers so the employers could hire them now, the employees could go for training on the state’s dime, the employees could work and slowly pay the state back.

If he’s heard what the problem is, why doesn’t he work to help change it, rather than taking this as an opportunity to talk shit about people who are suffering?


Governor Baby’s Version of Reality is More Beautiful than Ours

Jonathan Meador has the story of his arrest in this week’s Scene. I think he does a really good job of expressing the terror and confusion that people who aren’t used to being thought of as problems by the police feel when all of a sudden they are. If you are used to being seen as a problem, his confusion and fright might seem a little quaint. Still, good story.

I think Jeff Woods has the best quote of the whole thing, though.

“Our purpose is to provide a safe environment,” Haslam said Tuesday after speaking to higher education officials in Franklin. “If we can come up with rules to make that happen, then that’s what we’re for. Our goal is not to remove people from the plaza. Never has been, never will be. Period. Our goal is to provide a safe environment. That’s not just our goal. That’s our legal responsibility.”

If it didn’t actually hurt people, it would be hilarious how often Governor Baby’s hands are simply tied in ways that means he has to dick over the very people he should be protecting. His goal wasn’t to remove people from the plaza. All those protestors just fell into the handcuffs the THP were holding out to demonstrate how they worked. It was all just a horrible misunderstanding. Just like he didn’t want to have to strip Nashville of home rule in order to dick over gay people, but gay people live here. He’s powerless.


Another Person on the Internet is Wrong

This time it’s Ben Garrett. He says:

There are limits to everything, as there very well should be. In the case of the Nashville protestors, they were not prohibited from protesting or assembling themselves at the Plaza during the day. They were simply told that they had to go home at night and come back the next day, a demand that they chose to defy. There were various reports of criminal activity and littering on the Plaza, which calls public safety into question.

This is wrong. They were told they’d have to apply for a $65 permit every day and carry a million dollars in liability insurance (which can run you hundreds and hundreds of dollars). That’s not “simply” being told to go home at night and come back the next day. That’s “no one can protest at night” and “no poor people can protest during the day.” Couple that with the fact that they blatantly and forthrightly said that they’d let TPAC visitors and other people who were deemed okay trespass on the Plaza at night and you have a pretty arbitrary rule obviously designed to affect only Occupy Nashville.

But I also keep seeing this idea that there were “various reports of criminal activity and littering.” The only verified reports of criminal activity were against the Occupy Nashville people. If these are the only reports, then Haslam is rounding up and arresting crime victims solely because he’s annoyed that they’re crime victims. This is a worrying precedent.

But let’s talk about these “various reports.” Why hasn’t anyone named names? Why isn’t there one person, one person at all to come forward and say “I’m John Smith and I saw human poop” or “I’m Representative Smith from Smithville and I saw people having sex.” Or whatever. I want to know who actually complained and what their specific complaints were.

Because otherwise, it’s the same people who insist that Jonathan Meador was arrested for being drunk in public, even in the face of video in which it shows him being arrested for… oh wait… they have to come up with something… better hit him with resisting arrest, who are insisting that there’s actually some kind of public safety issue.

And guess what?

Those people’s credibility is shot.

So, I’m pretty flabbergasted at the amount of journalists who want to keep finding reasons why maybe this wasn’t quite so egregious as it looks.

I will try to see things from the Haslam administration’s perspective when the Haslam administration stops lying about what their perspective is. But that’s just me.

Paul Stanely Continues to be a Creepster

Dear Paul,

You seem to be floundering with how best to explain your decision to fuck a girl who worked for you. You keep saying things like “I think [the gal you continue to blame for your wrongdoing] is too – to a certain extent – a very troubled young lady.” Really, you think a girl whose boss knew “The moment I laid eyes on her” that he was going to fuck her might end up being troubled?

I have to say that, yes, young women whose bosses lay eyes on them for the first time and think “Yep, I’m going to fuck that one” tend to be troubled by the experience. This is one of the reasons bosses don’t fuck their young employees.

I’m going to continue, for the moment, to assume that you’re just a moron trying to make a story in which you behaved like a total douchebag at every step of the way into a story in which you were some suave lothario victimized by an unscrupulous harlot.

But a bit of advice–much like you should stop telling stories that make it sound like you had other affairs, you should stop telling stories in which the “troubled” young woman you had an affair with seems not to have had a real opportunity to consent to your relationship. I had been thinking that you were just a fool who didn’t see that anyone willing to help a man betray his wife would also be happy to betray him, but now I’m wondering what you deciding the moment you saw her that you were going to fuck her felt like to her–whether she felt like she had any choice in the matter. You know, Paul, it makes me wonder if she felt her boyfriend was getting even with you for the shitty thing you were doing to her. That seems to me like something you don’t want people wondering.


p.s. It is beyond tacky to continue to bring this woman up. I know that your whole new life is predicated on a book in which you committed this terrible “sin” with this woman. But I ask you, sincerely, at what point are you going to stop harming her? Because, it seems to me that, from the moment you laid eyes on her until this latest round of publicity for your book, you’ve done nothing but screw her, one way or another. I’m no expert on sinning, but I’m pretty sure that, before you can be forgiven, you have to, you know, actually stop what you’re doing wrong.

Here’s the Question I’d Have if I were Just a Normal ‘Pro-life’ Person

It’s obvious from comments that the Governor has made and David Fowler has made that they always intended to defund Planned Parenthood across the state. This has been in the works for a long time and been their dream for even longer.

So, here’s my question. It’s a question that would give me great pause if I were just a normal ‘pro-life’ person and it gives me minor pause as a pro-choice person. Why didn’t these guys have a big fundraiser for CCHS this spring? Then, heck, another one planned for right now? They know how much money it takes to provide free healthcare to poor people in Memphis because they know how much the Title X grant is–$400,000.

So, why didn’t they just raise that much money for CCHS in the spring? Let them start offering full-service healthcare that fits their philosophy? Give them a chance to gear up on their own terms for going after that Title X money? That way, there wouldn’t be this gap between when Planned Parenthood’s money ran out and CCHS was ready to see patients.

I mean, sure, $400,000 is a lot of money, but you get a lot of regular pro-life people giving $10, churches maybe taking up a special offering, and, oh, I don’t know, some rich businessman governor to cover the rest and it’s pretty easily taken care of. Shoot, maybe you’d only have to raise $200,000, since you’d just be covering the time from the spring fundraiser until CCHS took over the Title X program.

You think that between the Republican party apparatus and David Fowler’s network, they can’t raise $200,000?

So, why didn’t they?

Why not fund a pro-life free health clinic and let the people of Memphis decide which one they wanted to use while the Title X stuff was getting hashed out?

I have my theories why. But I’m curious as to whether this tickles uncomfortably at the back of any ‘pro-life’ person’s head? Are you, as a person who thinks abortion is wrong, starting to worry that, for folks like Fowler and Haslam, this is more about punishing political enemies than helping women have healthy children?

I mean, there’s David Fowler, crowing about what a great victory this is, apparently completely unbothered by people not having access to needed healthcare right now.

Just makes you wonder what their agenda is, exactly.

Someone Go Help the Republicans, Please

Ugh, fine. I will. TNGOP, come closer. Not that close. No, I’m not trying to have an affair with you. Put that beer back in the fridge! You have to drive home. Is someone pushing me? TNGOP, go stand over there! With your hands where I can see them.

Now listen up. Here’s how to play the whole voter ID thing. The only way. Whenever you are asked about it, whenever someone brings up problems with it:

“We are just trying to ensure that the person voting is who he or she says he or she is. The system for getting people IDs has not been as smooth as we had hoped, but we are working with local authorities to make sure that wait times aren’t ridiculous and that the paperwork requirements are clear to everyone before they come in, so that no one has to make multiple trips. That’s my comment. Thank you.”

Then you turn and walk away. Or hide in the bathroom, I don’t care.

What you’re doing–accusing a black woman who had to live through the onerous bullshit of the Jim Crow South in order to vote in her youth, who watched people die so that she could do basic citizen things like vote and go out in public and eat wherever the hell she wanted, of being exploited? It is so dumb that it hurts my heart. It’s literally causing me to advise you to stop doing things this stupid and I want you to lose. I’ve had to set aside my own best interest in order to try to convince you to stop being such dumbasses.

You know what old people don’t love? Having it insinuated that they’re too stupid to know their own minds. That they don’t come to the voting booth or to your bullshit rinky-dink efforts to make it difficult for them to vote without decades of experience in exactly your type of patronizing bullshit.

It’s deeply condescending to say that Dorothy Cooper is being exploited. She’s just old. She’s not an idiot.

So, shape the fuck up, assholes.

Planned Parenthood Memphis

Honestly, I find this so disheartening I can’t even think too much about it. And to see Ron Ramsey gloating about it on Twitter literally made me want to throw up. It is the case now that, if you are poor and you need certain types of health care, you have to get it from the Christians. You have to go to church to get it.

And they don’t have to provide all the kinds of health care you might need because they are a religious organization.

And yet, that’s where you have to go if you can’t afford anywhere else.

And that’s considered a good thing by our state’s administration–forcing people to rely on healthcare from groups that will impose their religious beliefs on the administration of that healthcare.

People will try to tell you that what goes around comes around. But it rarely does. All those men will forever be able to send their wives, daughters, mistresses off to doctors who will give them whatever they need and that will never ever change and they will never lose a night’s sleep over the hypocrisy.

And poor people will suffer.

And women will have to sit here knowing that we don’t have the ability to make legal decisions over our own bodies.

And people will still try to tell me how “nice” Ron Ramsey is or how “thoughtful” Bill Haslam is.

And they won’t understand how it feels to know that you are not quite a legal person. I don’t give a shit how nice and thoughtful either of those men are if they can’t respect my right to my own god damn body.

And yet, they don’t.

So fuck them.

Edited to Add: This.

Just a Little More on Curry Todd

He was driving so shitfaced drunk that you can smell the alcohol on his mug shot down 21st Avenue?! He is so very, very lucky he didn’t hit a pedestrian. So very lucky. If he thinks things look grim now, he should imagine how grim they’d be if he’d hit a Vanderbilt or a Belmont student. Or hell, imagine the headlines if he’d have hit the parents of some kid sick in the Children’s Hospital, who’d gone out to eat after their suffering child had fallen asleep.

The other thing that pisses me off about this is that he’s clearly bringing a loaded gun to at least the garage the legislators all use, and he’s gone out of his way to secure the ability to carry in bars and so on, but you and I can’t carry into his work place.

This bullshit of “I live by one set of rules, but you live by another” really irritates me.