Tag Archives: Tom Humphrey

Bullying, Organizing And The Hidden Power Of A Super Pac

The TNDP held a summit over the weekend withKatherine Archuleta, Political Director for Obama’s re-election campaign, as the keynote speaker. The Tennessean has the story with the TNGOP reaction. LINK

In many ways, the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Latino Summit on Saturday was everything someone might expect heading into an election year.

There were discussions about how to register people to vote, calls for volunteers to get involved with different aspects of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and reminders about upcoming Tennessee Democratic Party events.

But this wasn’t a typical political function. It was the Democratic Party’s first-ever summit specifically targeting the Hispanic community, and, for party Chairman Chip Forrester, it was something that was long overdue.


Ted Rayburn at the Tennessean has words of wisdom in regards to bullying in the state. LINK

Adults have a job to do. Teachers and administrators, for example, can no longer turn a blind eye to bullying that occurs on school grounds. And lawmakers, such as in the Tennessee General Assembly, should support strong anti-bullying measures instead of watering them down in a way that actually could encourage bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

As reported recently, conservative lawmakers want to amend laws to say that anti-bullying programs cannot promote a political agenda or focus on the “characteristics of the victim rather than the conduct of” the bully. This would be sort of like changing the laws against armed robbery to allow it depending on whether the bank is made of brick or concrete.


Susan of Memphis writes about how she plans to change this year when it comes to politics. LINK

I’m taking the old saying about all politics being local to heart this year. I’m concentrating on local and state issues first, national issues second. I figure if we get the local solved, the national willsoon follow. I’m going to support public servants rather than politicians. I’m going to keep pushing the idea that one’s personal religious views do not get to dictate public policy.

I will be a politician’s worst nightmare: An informed voter.

Tom Humphrey has the story about PACs in Tennessee where in some way it appears, according to the story, that the Republicans might have been working on this for awhile. LINK

While the national media has reported at some length on the powers of the new “Super PACs” in presidential politics, state Sen. Bill Ketron may have illustrated that Tennessee leadership PACs have some super powers, too. Maybe previously unappreciated.

“PACs are like people,” said Drew Rawlins,executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, which oversees state PACs and campaign spending generally.

Like corporations, Super PACs are people insofar as campaign finance goes. The Super PAC situation allows wealthy individuals or corporations to spend millions helping their candidate of choice.


Dr. Gene Davenport who is former Professor Emeritus from Lambuth explains how that Stephen Colbert’s satire about Super Pacs is vital and important. The column in the Jackson Sun is called “When Reality Becomes Its Own Satire”. LINK

To ridicule these decisions, in September, Colbert set up his own 501(c)(4) organization with the stated purpose of educating the public. The organization can legally donate to his Super PAC and engage in all sorts of political activity provided campaigning is not its primary purpose. Originally, Colbert called his organization the “Anonymous Shell Organization” (think “shell game”), but then was officially registered as “Colbert Super PAC SHH Institute” (think “shh” for secrecy).

Some, no doubt, will say that electing a president is far too serious a matter to have jesters entering the process itself. 

But what Colbert is showing is that the system itself has become ridiculous.

Quick Hits

  • Nashville activist Chris Sanders has a video addressing the suicide of a gay teen in Gordonsville in Smith County. He says its up to adults to protect young people and that Tennessee bills need to be addressed not only statewide, but locally in communities. LINK
  • Not necessarily Tennessee-related, but this blog post by Danny Brown makes a lot of sense and is agreat read. Anyone in politics or who is a political junkie will enjoy this although it can apply to everything. LINK
  • Is Sen. Bill Ketron going to primary Scott DesJarlais or is he going to wait due to the congressman’s extensive campaign chest? LINK
  • Morristown scribe Joe Powell has found a presidential candidate that wants mandatory toothbrushing law and will give everyone a free ponies if you vote for him. He also wears a boot on his head. Meet Vermin Supreme for today’s best laugh. LINK

Tennessee Writers Respond To Redistricting


Tennessee Talking Points goes district by district in the House writing of whom may be in trouble and who might not with comprehensive analysis. LINK

After looking at the map, I’ve gone through each incumbent 
Democrat’s district and spelled out what these new lines actually mean for their re-election chances. These opinions are my own,based on my knowledge of the state. I don’t have any info other than what’s on the GA’s website. By my calculation, we have 4-net losses in the House.
This article by Tom Humphrey on redistricting is why he is called The Dean. LINK

Whether the work product now on display and ready for rocketing through the Legislature this week meets that standard is as debatable as whether Fox News is “fair and balanced” asrepeatedly proclaimed by the network – at least on the fairness front.

Fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. Or maybe the beholder’s political mindset.

On an objective basis, it’s reasonable to say the redistricting plans are fair enough to make their fairness debatable. Going beyond that is a matter of partisan opinion.


Eric Schelzig wraps up the entire redistricting process around the state. LINK

With the dust settling on Republican plans for redrawing legislative districts in Tennessee, lawmakers from both parties are assessing their future plans.

Democrats say they will offer amendments to the state House and Senate maps unveiled last week, but with vast Republican majorities in bothchambers, it appears unlikely that the proposals will change significantly.

But House members unhappy with the new maps may take heart in the experience of 2002, the last time redistricting occurred in Tennessee with Democrats holding a 57-42 advantage over Republicans in the 99-member chamber. Republicans now hold 64 seats in the House.


Pat Nolan at Capitol View Commentary writes about the presidential debates and redistricting in Tennessee. He finds putting House Reps. Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart in the same district quite curious. LINK

However I would say the case of putting two long-time Democratic lawmakers (Sherry Jones & Mike Stewart) does seem a little strange. Republican leaders said they had to do in order to meet the changing demographics and population increase is southwest Democratic where a new open district has been created which has a combined minority population (black & Hispanic) that presents an opportunity to increased representation for those groups (as they put in redistricting language).

OK, but when you look at the map, you have to wonder why Jones who lives well south of the Cumberland River was drawn into a district with Stewart who lives east of the river. In fact, it appears there is just a little sliver of land encompassing the area that Stewart lives that was moved into the district where Jones is as well. That doesn’t look like demographics, it looks like politics. That’s fine, just call it that; call it an effort to pit two leading Democrats in the Nashville delegation, to try and get rid of one of them from the General Assembly (unless somebody moves quickly).


Sen. Lowe Finney has released a statement on the redistricting process bringing a few things to light. LINK

“The Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting contained no Senators. This process is not something that should be taken lightly, and yet Republican leadership in the Senate seems to be fine with keeping Tennesseans in the dark. We need a more thorough review process that provides the kind of time, attention and open discussion that our local communities deserve.”
Steve Steffens is not happy that the new congressional district has shifted sharply in the city of Memphis. LINK
However, what the GOP has done is to crap on those people who 

have supported Steve the most over the years. It is frightening to me that the 8th District is only six blocks away from my houseand not ten miles away, as it SHOULD be.  Stephen Fincher should have NO part of the City of Memphis; the eastern suburbs will vote for a GOP candidate even if it were RuPaul, but not the CITY.
Given that the GOP did this in secret, they need to be held accountable. 

Quick Hits

  • Last Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam threw a $500 a couple fundraiser for Sen. Kerry Roberts. The next day, he became one of the sacrificial lambs under friendly fire from the GOP redistricting plan. Michael Cass has the story. LINK
  • A new blog from Northwest Tennessee is spotlighting issues indicative to that area. Shehas a question for former Rep. Mark Maddox. LINK
  • I write at Newscoma that we need to start campaigning yesterday and that we may need to think outside of the box this election cycle when it comes to messaging, narrative and strategyLINK
  • The Tennessee Equality Project’s Michelle Bliss and the Family Action Council’s David Fowler went head-to-head on CNN on Friday over the proposed anti-bullying bill being proposed in the state right now. LINK
  • There is a connection between the now-defunct Tennessee Tea Party and box store Hobby Lobby. It’s all in the deeds and JR Lind has the story. LINK

Eight Votes

One brief note this morning and it will be a rather quick commentary. For people who don’t think voting matters let us take a gander at the Iowa Caucus. Eight votes separated presidential candidates Mitte Romney and Rick Santorum to win the caucus. To translate that to our state which has seen several tight races over the years, it’s more important now than ever to get our friends and neighbors to vote. 

The main question to follow is how are we going to do that? 

The political stories from around the state in the web world are focusing on redistricting maps that will be released this morning in Nashville. Several reporters have gotten the scoop and commentary came immediately from Tennessee online scribes last night. R. Neal calls it the Spoils of a (Political War) quite aptly.

Here is what we are hearing:


An early story from Tom Humphrey lays out the “concept” maps that will be present this morning at 9 a.m. These could change. The story is worth reading with commentary from house leadership which Tom has included but this is the meat of what democrats and republicans are looking at as of right now. It could change on a dime. LINK


They include Reps. Tommy Brown and JoAnne Favors of Chattanooga and Reps. Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones of Nashville. The other two districts are in Shelby County and pair Reps. Antonio Parkinson and Jeannie Richardson in one while Reps. Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway are paired in another.

The pairings assure that the number of black representatives in the House will be reduced by at least two, Turner noted. Brown, Favor, Cooper and Hardaway are black.
He said that was a legally questionable move under federal voting rights law.

-In one new district, incumbent Republican Jim Cobb of Spring City is paired with Democratic Rep. Bill Harmon of Dunlap. Turner said some Republicans were unhappy with that move and the Cobb-Harmon pairing could change.

-Five new no-incumbent districts are created, all apparently intended to lean Republican. One is in northwest Knox County, including the Hardin Valley and Karnes area. The others are in Davidson County, Hamilton County, Rutherford County and Williamson County.

From WLPN where Rep. Mike Turner says that the African American caucus looks like it is in trouble. LINK


Democrats knew they would lose ground in the Republican-controlled state House, but Democratic Leader Mike Turner says he’s more concerned about black representation under the GOP plan.

“The African-American population – under any circumstance, under their map, it appears they’re going to lose two members.”

 Sean Braisted says it looks ugly but puts it into perspective and speak the truth. LINK


Of course, all of these are subject to change before the maps are released and voted on later this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there is a legal challenge to these map…but absent successful challenges, this map will cause a lot of heartburn and infighting among Democrats in the next few months.


Steve Steffens at Left Wing Cracker offers ideas about how redistricting might happen and ideas on how to change the narrative. LINK
Rural West Tennessee, which has experienced serious reductions in population as jobs have left the area, is expected to be equally hard-hit.  Given that this was once the heart of the Democratic brain trust of the late Governor Ned McWherter (Dresden), the late Lt. Governor John Wilder (Mason), and Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (Covington), this will be rather depressing news.
Democrats have to find a way back.  One of those ways, in my opinion, is to stop trying to govern and start OPPOSING.  I realize that, after 140 years of power, it is still very difficult to come to grips with a reduced station in life.  However, that cold, hard reality is still better than being deluded that you have any voice at all right now.  
What Democrats need to do is show how they are DIFFERENT.


Brandon Gee has a story that might make you cringe a bit. I recommend you read it carefully. LINK

Tennessee’s Supreme Court justices soon must wrestle with the thorny issue of 

whether, and to what extent, the state’s legislature can overrule its high court.The question comes as judges and judicialsystems across the country are taking shots from lawmakers and politicians for being unaccountable and out of touch with mainstream America, and after a year that saw the Tennessee General Assembly pass two laws explicitly aimed at overturning state Supreme Court decisions that lawmakers didn’t like.

Joe Lance wonders about a new concept to get legislative news in this state to local small town newspapers across the 440 miles. He brings up several good points. LINK


According to the marketing text on the company’s site, CapitolNewswatch.com, the company offers small papers “customized, unbiased articles about their legislators’ bills and votes – as well as his or her reaction to proposed statewide legislation – direct from the capitol in Nashville.”

I can say it’s an interesting concept, but I haven’t found any examples of it working yet. Were it to live up to its stated ideals, it could be good for providing the kind of information that so often gets neglected in favor of more revenue-friendly coverage.

But among other questions is this one: how will these reporters-for-hire compare to ones that know the audience they’re writing for back home, and who have the time to cultivate a relationship with the legislative delegation? 



Quick Hits


  • Betsy Phillips writes about the reported rape of a young man in Franklin and offers wisdom about that anyone can be raped and we all need to put aside the blame game. LINK
  • I talk about at my personal blog about the road ahead that everyone is facing and the importance of local politics and the relevance of understanding policy in local communities.LINK 
  •  For the details on this morning’s meetings on redistricting, head to Dru Fuller’s website for the details. The meeting starts early. LINK
  • As expected, three Shelby County commissioners have filed a lawsuit regarding redistricting. LINK
  • Just a little newspaper geek news here in which the Des Moine Register did something you don’t hear very often. Someone yelled “Stop the Presses!” to include the headline about Romney only winning by eight points. Old school, campers. LINK 



The Living Wage And Disclosure


Bill Haslam is now dealing with what most folks have to go through every day. LINK


As a national discussion on taxes and the rich continues to heat up, a report from the Memphis Commercial Appeal has revealed Gov. Bill Haslam overstated his personalincome tax rate during last year’s campaign. 

Instead of disclosing personal income from family-owned business Pilot-Flying J, the 11th largest private company in the nation, the investigation showed that Haslam only offered reporters a summary of $28.5 million in non-Pilot incomes earned between 2003 and 2008. 

While the governor claimed at times his tax rate topped 48 percent, it turns out his effective federal tax rate was much lower.

Yet, there is also this for Gov. Haslam on the living wage from Jeff Woods. LINK

“I’m not a fan of the living wage,” our gazillionaire governor told reporters. But asked whether he’s for state legislation to handcuff cities and counties, Haslam said: “Governments should be able to decide for themselves if they want to do that.”

That state legislation is the brainchild of Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, who lastsession gave us the law invalidating Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance. His new idea would bar local governments from passing not only living-wage laws but also health-care coverage and family-leave allowances that go beyond the requirements of state law.

Haslam signed Casada’s anti-gay bill into law. So the governor’s comments today caused reporters to cock their heads in puzzlement. Why would Haslam oppose Casada’s new legislation if he was OK with the anti-gay bill? The principle is the same: State legislators shouldn’t impose their political will on the elected representatives of cities and counties.

Southern Beale is talking about things about mountain top removal. LINK

Remember Don Blankenship, the Simon LeGree of coal mining? The man Rolling

 Stone called “the dark lord of coal country”? The guy who called the Upper Big Branchmine disaster that killed 29 mine workers “an act of God” and blamed mine safety regulations for the disaster?

Photo of Zeb Mountain


 This has been going on for a couple of years. Go see Vibinc here on Mountain Top Removal from posts from session this year when the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Bill was in subcommittee. LINK

A living wage should be something we all should be having a conversation about. Compassion is a groovy thing. LINK

A living wage has been one of the rallying cries for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but some Tennessee state lawmakers are making a move to prohibit cities from forcing businesses to implement one.

The plan would prohibit cities from requiring businesses to implement any wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It would also keep them from requiring any insurance mandates or family leave beyond state and federal law.

Opponents say it’s not only an issue of people not being able to live on their salary, it’s also part of a trend they believe is disturbing.

Biz Girl has a question at Knox Views. LINK

Why are there so few women running for political office in Tennessee?
So, are we gonna let people starve? Tom Humphrey with the presser. LINK
Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) announced that “Stop Rewarding States for Recruiting Additional Food Stamp Recipients” was the winner of last week’s YouCut program. The congressman is now in the process of drafting legislation that will prevent the 
federal government

 from issuing bonuses to states for signing up additional food stamp recipients.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) pays state governments bonuses – with taxpayer dollars – for recruiting additional people to sign up for food stamps. 

Quick Hits

  • The Southern Political Report highlights congressional races in Tennessee focusing on Eric Stewart and Roy Herron. LINK
  • Depending on where you read it, the living wage debate can be a bit confusing. LINK
  • Sean Braisted schools Gov. Bill Haslam.
  • Not a lot can explain thisLINK
  • A letter to Newt Gingrich from a Tennessee blogger on the politics of fear. LINK
  • Rep. Chuck Fleishmann has more competition in the GOP Primary. Joe Lance has the update.  LINK

Yesterday’s Election And Looking At 2012



Knoxville has a new mayor. LINK

With all precincts reporting, and more than 21,000 votes counted,
Madeline Rogero netted 58.6 percent of the vote to become Knoxville’s 68th mayor – and the city’s first woman mayor.

An interesting project from the Knoxville News Sentinel had folks in the community live tweeting election day and the mayors race between Rogero and Mark Padgett. Results were extremely timely from voters points of view. You can see the entire stream at the LINK

Betsy Phillips pontificates on what could behind recent polling on Rep. Beth Harwell and a run against Congressman Jim Cooper. These are interesting times for moderate republicans. LINK

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.

Southern Beale give Gov. Bill Haslam a wag of her finger on his new statements regarding a gas tax and brings up a bit of history. LINK

This is not an issue unique to Tennessee. I’m just not seeing the urgency here. And pardon me for saying this but the Haslam Administration doesn’t have a good track record

Unless… well, unless Gov. Pilot Oil has something else in mind. I do think such cynicism is warranted, based on the governor’s past actions. After all, Gov. Haslam, you did leave your Pilot Oil holdings out of your “blind” trust by pretending to not understand  the entire point of a blind trust. 

And you did play all innocent when your freeze on new state regulations meant the family’s chain of truck stops could skirt an environmental rule affecting fuel storage tanks. You batted those baby browns and gave us that aw-shucks grin and said, “who, me? Did I do that? Well, I do declare!”

A federal lawsuit has been filed in Knoxville regarding waterways. Tom Humphrey has the story. LINK

Environmentalists have sued coal mining interests in federal court in Knoxville seeking to enforce pollution limits.

The Sierra Club, the Tennessee Clean Water Network and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment claim National Coal LLC is violating legal limits on its selenium, iron and manganese discharges into local waterways.

The Tenn Dem has a new calendar you might want to check out and get your events on. It’s a good way to spread the word statewide of what is happening in different communities across the state. It’s as nifty as a pocket on a shirt. LINK

Quick Hits

An Overview From The Weekend


The governor’s office has once again declined to release a full financial disclosure. Tom Humphrey has the story and says Gov. Bill Haslam is remaining mum on the issue. LINK

In response to a recent request for similar information on his 2009 and 2010 income, the governor replied with a firm no, relayed by Alexia Poe, his communications director.

“We just don’t see the public good in ongoing stories about his income,” Poe said. “The sources of his income are known. He has complied with the law.

Has the American Dream changed within the last two generations? I ask the question at Newscoma. LINK

In the last few years and this goes back 10 years in my opinion, that message has been watered down due to what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is also mine if I can take it from you. And as my friend SW says, the opposite of progress is regress. The Tea Party has morphed into the Party of Regress.

Rep. Mike Turner writes in the Daily News Journal that a colleague of his in the House was wrong. LINK

I felt it was necessary to respond to a “press conference” held by state Sen. Bill Ketron recently regarding the new voter ID law here in Tennessee.

Not only is this law unneeded and politically motivated, but Ketron also feels it is necessary to single out one Rutherford County citizen, who made a terrible mistake almost 30 years ago. This is nothing more than an effort to validate his shortsighted Voter ID Act.

Tennessee Democratic Leadership announced a seven point jobs plan last week. LINK 

Democrats lead proposal is to spend $15 million for new equipment and expansion of the state’s 27 technology centers. These centers have an average completion rate of 75 percent and a job placement rate of 85 percent, but the educate only about one in 20 higher education students in Tennessee.

You just need to see this and make your own conclusion over at Knox Views. LINK

Redistricting is coming together according to a report from Chas Sisk at the Tennessean. LINK

House GOP leaders are nearing completion of their redistricting plans, and they have begun presenting conceptual drawings to their Democratic counterparts of the shapes that districts could take for the next decade, members of both parties said.

Tom Humphrey has more on redistricting as well. There may still be time for some public input. LINK

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey are urging citizens to submit proposals for changing the boundaries for state legislative districts, while the Tennessee League of Women Voters is holding a contest for plan submissions.

This isn’t a good report for those who are unemployed. LINK

Businesses would have to start hiring much faster before a larger proportion of the long-term unemployed would find work. Many employers see them as riskier than other potential hires. Some might need additional training. Companies aren’t likely to take such risks until the economy shows consistent strength.

Get It Right And Get The Message Across



“Now it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there…” And so, the die was cast.

Minutes after saying those words to supporters the night of June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy laid mortally wounded in the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The next day, he was gone, and that summer, I became a Kennedy Democrat.

The closest you could come to the Kennedys in Tennessee was John Seigenthaler, editor of The Tennessean. When I got a job working for him in 1975, it was, as we now say, the bomb.

John’s years with the Kennedys are well documented. So is his storied career as a sentinel for justice and one of the leading journalists of our time. I have known him as boss, antagonist, protagonist, mentor and friend.

I carried so much away from my years working for John, but four words of his still come to mind again and again: Pity the poor reader.

In John’s newsroom, you had to grasp this or go home.

Truth won’t set anyone free if it is not delivered in a fair, clear and compelling way. Get it right, and get the message across, or you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Under John’s leadership, Nat Caldwell went undercover (literally) in a nursing home to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning expose. Jerry Thompson donned the white hood to tell of the Klan from the inside out.

But neither of those legendary investigations, and many more conducted during John’s tenure, would have ever made a flip had he not demanded that they resonate. No matter how great the message, it is useless if you fail to breathe life into the words you use to deliver it. Pity the poor reader.

We, as Tennessee Democrats, might take John’s words to heart.

It doesn’t matter how important our message about jobs or education or health care is. If we don’t connect with the folks in Sylvan Park as well as the ones in Selmer, our words ring hollow, and we go home, leaving Tennessee to those whose message is: “The board room comes first.”

As a young Kennedy Democrat from Tennessee, I was so blessed to work with and learn from John Seigenthaler. As an aged-in-the-wood Kennedy Democrat from Tennessee, what he taught me matters more now than ever.

(Terry Reuther Quillen worked for more than 30 years at The Tennessean, much of that time as editor of the oped page and Sunday political section. She is currently a communications consultant. Seigenthaler will be a featured speaker on Saturday at Jackson Day.)


Tuesday Roundup


An editorial in the Tennessean says that poverty in the South is devastating and we are at a point where we have nothing to lose. LINK

In January, MDC’s State of the South report called this a year of reckoning. “No one can enter the year 2011 without a sobering sense of progress and equity at risk,” the report said. The latest figures show the danger was worse than imagined. Not only has poverty increased, but the nation’s median income has gone down as well, signifying that the stress is not just at the bottom, but in the middle class. The median household in Tennessee makes $3,089 less than when the recession began.

Erik Schelzig writes the governor is saying that his brother has the right to lobby for Pilot. LINK

Gov. Bill Haslam is endorsing his brother’s right to speak out against privatizing interstate rest stops, a move opposed by his family’s truck stop chain.

The Republican governor has recused himself from handling issues that could affect Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J, but says brother Jimmy Haslam as president and CEO has a responsibility to try to influence politicians on matters that affect the business.

Southern Beale writes that the majority of people in this country voted for bipartisanship, something they aren’t getting in Washington. LINK

We don’t need a third party. We need the people in Congress to do what they were elected to do: represent the people, not the coporations. We need them to just say no to lobbyists every now and then. We need some election finance reform so that money loses some of its grip over our politics.

Jeff Woods at Pith in the Wind has some words of advice for Sen. Lamar Alexander regarding health care and as usual, he is direct and  doesn’t stutter. LINK

People signing up for a life-saving benefit that they’re actually already entitled to receive-that’s what Alexander is complaining about. Here’s the question he should ask: If there are so many people out there entitled to Medicaid who don’t know it, why isn’t the state already trying to let them know? In the long run, that would save money by curtailing the number of uninsured who go without care until arriving at hospitals for the most expensive treatment.

At Newscoma, I write that politics are local and working on things you have some measure of control over is crucial in a post called Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport. LINK

National interest groups want people to be angry because it goes two ways. It either paralyzes or it is a call to action. If it is a call to action, working on what we can in our own backyard can be effective. Everyone may have a different message and that’s okay, but then again we don’t need to get into a game of  “my message or cause is more important than your message or cause.”

State democrats ended a six-day job tour of Tennessee on Saturday. In a story from TN Report, they say they garnered a great deal of information. LINK

“We’ve talked to a lot of people. Jobs are what’s of concern for Tennesseans,” Craig Fitzhugh, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, said at a stop Saturday in Cookeville. “We’re just trying to get ideas about what we can do as a Legislature to increase the jobs. We’ve got some good ideas.”

The Great Divide

photo from Poverty in America
photo from Poverty in America


There are some fundamental facts that shouldn’t be ignored. We have 9+ percent unemployment in this country and people are scraping by. Last week, I saw a man but exactly $3.41 in his car. It paid for exactly one gallon of gas. He looked exhausted. I watched him count the change carefully before giving it to the attendant at the store, who he apparently knew. All he said to the man behind the register was that it had been a tough week. It appeared that amount of change had been budgeted into the day’s travel.

These stories are not unique. These are the real faces of people who have had to sacrifice.

There is this story from yesterday that made the online rounds which is worth noting from Rep. John Fleming (R-LA). You can also see the video at the website of several statements that the congressman made.

Fleming is himself a businesses owner, so Jansing asked, “If you have to pay more in taxes, you would get rid of some of those employees?” Fleming responded by saying that while his businesses made $6.3 million last year, after you “pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment, and food,” his profits “a mere fraction of that” – “by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over.”

And that is the chasm and divide that exists in this country. No one I know begrudges people that have means. What does bother them is when legislators willfully take food off their table while keeping the extra bank in their own pockets citing that is fair.

Addicting Information analyzes some of the frustration with Fleming’s comments quite pointedly.


Fleming told the Wall Street Journal that “he spends very little time on day-to-day management, though he weighs in on broad strategy decisions. I monitor the reports. I’m certainly in communication with the managers.” In other words, Fleming is lazy and sits on his a** while his employees do all the work to make him rich. Meanwhile he’s in Congress fighting to lower average household income for the middle class and fighting to kill Social Security and Medicare. At a time when most average Americans are struggling to pay their bills and feed their own families, Fleming has the audacity to complain about having only $400,000 in his fancy wallet after feeding his own. Does this make you angry?


This is a good example of the haves and the have nots, and being out of touch with real Americans who were asked to sacrifice. The bottom line is that everyone was asked to do their share, not just one cross-section.

On to today’s links:

Tennessee Roundup


Cup of Joe Powell tells us not to be fooled by national stories regarding Pres. Barack Obama and gives a lesson that most politics are local. Much of this is coming from ALEC, he writes, and we need to have an eye on legislators in our own backyards.

And as always, Americans most often forget that the decisions made at the state and local level are the ones which determine much of the way we run our education and economic systems. Blaming all ills on one single elected official is juvenile, whether the blame is aimed at a Democrat or Republican. Our job forever remains holding the highest standards of performance and accountability for all our elected officials.



ALEC, photo ID voting mandates and Tennessee’s push comes from interests that go back to 2006, according to this story by Tom Humphrey.

“I think they’re genuinely trying to disenfranchise people they think tend to vote for Democrats,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “It’s a national Republican thing. I guess it’s something people of wealth and power have always tried to do.LINK

Rep. Stephen Fincher has won a dubious title that I don’t believe he is probably very proud of which is one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington. LINK Memphis blogger Steve Ross delves in deeper looking at some of Fincher’s legislation. LINK

Tennessee House and Senate democrats were in parts of west Tennessee yesterday and will continue to the northwest portion of the state tomorrow on its Tennessee Job Tours. The Jackson Sun caught up with them in Haywood County.

The four state leaders were joined by Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith and Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne as they drove through the 1,741 core acres of the megasite and viewed construction of the solar farm. Monday’s group hopes the megasite can attract an industry that could bring 1,500 to 2,000 jobs to the area within the next five years. The megasite is off Interstate 40′s exit 42 and is bisected by Tennessee 222. LINK

A new strong voice from the west side of the state at a website called Yeah and Another Thing breaks down the recent funding shuffling of Planned Parenthood to another entity. She also talks about civility in public discourse and keeping mindful of mainstream media.

I don’t believe we’re a nation of extremes. I really don’t. Squeaky wheels get press. People who believe passionately in something but who are rational and level-headed don’t get the air time zealotry does. How many people know who Michelle Bachmann is? How many know who Elizabeth Warren is? I’d love to see that poll.

By the way, as I sit here writing this, something interesting came up in my Twitter feed. A CNN poll shows 78% of the country is pro-choice. So it just goes to show you that even though the anti-choice voice might be loud and well-funded, it’s not the majority’s voice.

Read Bergsie and put her in your RSS feed because she is knocking out of the ballpark. LINK


Photo credit here.

Quote of the Day

You must accept that you might fail;then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried.  

If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk. 


Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter



The Rutherford County Democrats are holding a True Blue event Thursday night at Fanatics at the

DoubleTree Hotel in Murfreesboro.

 This month we are privileged to have Murfreesboro’s finest, The Eclectics, entertaining us courtesy of Carl and Carol Berning. 

Suggested donations are $10 and $5 for our “younger” Democrats which all goes to the support of our RCDP.

For more information, contact 615-962-7594  


 The Madison County Democratic Party

 is proud to host
the West Tennessee Regional Mini-Summit
September 24, 2011 at
Lane College
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

For more information about this event on Saturday, call

 For more information:

call 731-423-3300


Trace Sharptracesharp@gmail.com

Quick Hits


A few state-based websites to keep our eyes on in the future which are wonderful resources on politics, legislation and issues. If you know of online entities that are concentrating on what is happening in the Tennessee, be sure to send them to us so we can add them to our reader on the website or that we can aggregate on the Buzz. These are just a few on the wonderful resources that we have across the state.

  • Joe Lance has designed a voters guide at the Tennessee Ticket that we might want to keep an eye on this upcoming election year. As redistricting is going on around us, this should be as handy as a pocket on a shirt on keeping voters abreast of the new lines now being debated in Nashville. LINK
  • Tennessee Citizen Action keeps up with not only consumer rights legislation, but long-term coalition building. The organization is very active throughout the state. LINK
  • KnoxViews keeps a running tally in its sidebar of continually updates feeds from progressive writers statewide, media from east Tennessee and national perspectives. Several writers blog daily and the information is always fresh. LINK
  • Hispanic Nashville is an amazing resource of civil and political issues from around the state. Edited by John Lamb, this is one of the most comprehensive online guides that is a wealth of information regarding the Latino community. LINK
  • Grand Divisions focuses on LGBT issues all across the state. LINK
  • MLIS Rachel Walden is the author of Women’s Health News, which focuses on women’s health and political legislation. LINK 

These are just a few of many. Please send us your favorite websites or if you start your own blog, let us know. We primarily concentrate specifically on politics, legislation and issues impacting Tennesseans.


It’s a good way to bring all of our collective and diverse voices together.




Monday Roundup


The State House and Senate Democratic caucuses are holding a jobs tour this week all around the state. The presser is at Vibinc with the details. There should be quite a bit of media on this and to follow what is happening on Twitter, the hashtag they are using is #TNJobsTour LINK

Gov. Bill Haslam is complimentary about the tour, unlike Sen. Mark Norris who made some snarky comments about the statewide effort when it was announced a few weeks ago. LINK

Jeff Woods has a story this morning at the City Paper about photo ids, ALEC, Steve Cohen and what the republicans are saying about new voter laws. LINK

Subsidies for Electrolux in Memphis will run roughly $152,000 a job. This is rather complicated and Tom Humphrey breaks it down. LINK

Meet Zack Poskevich from Henderson,  the man who will be going after Sen. Bob Corker in the GOP primary, in an interview with James Harrison at Nooga. LINK

The Commercial Appeal begins charging for digital content this week. The story is here. LINK

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will fade away tomorrow. Diatribes and Ovations has a post about what it comes down to for the military. LINK

Preparing For The Worst

I think it goes without saying that Republican leadership is preparing us for the worst when it comes to budget cuts.

Lucas Johnson with the AP breaks down some of the numbers.

In his letter, Emkes wrote that national credit rating agencies have asked the state to present plans on how it will respond to the cuts in federal funds, which make up about 40 percent of Tennessee’s $30.8 billion annual budget.

Tennessee agencies’ plans were released Tuesday. In the worst case scenario, 5,131 positions would be eliminated.

Those with the most proposed cuts are the Department of Human Services with 1,595 positions, and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with 1,152.

As we discuss reductions, we also need to keep in mind that one crucial element in asking for the worst case scenario of potentially a 30 percent slash is that these are real people who are going to be impacted. TN Reports has the report.

“They’re never pleasant. I don’t want to see them come, but everybody’s got to step up to the plate,” said Harwell, R-Nashville. “They do give us that opportunity to take a critical look at what we’re doing with our money, with the taxpayers’ money.”

We can discuss job plans, budget cuts and initiatives all day long, but the harsh reality is that we never need to forget the faces of the currently and future unemployed in this state. These men and women are not statistics, they are people.

Thursday Round-Up

Tom Humphrey has the latest on Voter Identification laws that require photographic proof and the dialogue around the issue. LINK

In a letter to the editor at the Tennessean, a Brentwood resident asks why politicians want to turn back the clock. We may not agree politically, but can’t we all at least agree this is 2011 and the rest of the world is quickly leaving us behind? LINK

Wendi C. Thomas writes at the Commercial Appeal that as Labor Day approaches, it’s been a brutal year for workers and the unemployed. LINK

Frank Cagle writes at Metropulse that the Ronald Reagan’s Big Tent is shrinking. The middle-class voters out here also see that nothing has changed on Wall Street. Jobs are scarce, wages are in decline. The gap between the very rich and the middle class grows wider every day. And when they see the Republicans as standing in opposition to closing tax loopholes or raising taxes on the very wealthy, they wonder who’s looking out for them. When Republicans quite rightly raise questions about an alarming debt, we are sympathetic. But we also remember that it was the Republicans who spent a trillion dollars on two wars and another trillion on a Medicare prescription drug entitlement without paying for any of it. LINK

Gov. Bill Haslam isn’t ready to comment about potential budget cuts. Several issues were brought up from rural health care to reductions in services for the poor and disabled. There was also mention of gas prices. The governor declined to speculate when asked by a reporter whether a $273 million reduction in the state’s transportation budget would require an increase in the gas tax to help keep the state’s infrastructure intact. LINK