Tag Archives: Southern Beale

When Did The Koch Brothers Move To Tennessee?

The Tennessee GOP Is Happy With Their Koch Overlords

The Tennessee GOP Is Happy With Their Koch Overlords

Ahh, the Koch Brothers never disappoint and by me saying never disappoint, I mean they do the exact opposite.

Hey KIDS, the Kochs and their baby, Americans For Prosperity, are in your legislature doing all the things.

Let’s make a list:

From Think Progress: 

The Tennessee Senate passed a bill last week that, if approved, would broadly ban mass transit projects in the region, an anti-transit effort that’s gotten some help in the state from Charles and David Koch.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Senate passedSB 2243, which includes an amendment that “prohibits metropolitan governments and any transit authorities created by a metropolitan government from constructing, maintaining or operating any bus rapid transit system using a separate lane, or other separate right-of-way, dedicated solely to the use of such bus rapid transit system on any state highway or state highway.” The amendment is aimed at Nashville’s proposed $174 million rapid bus system called the Amp, but would apply to any mass transit system proposed in Tennessee’s cities.

The Amp, a proposed 7.1-mile bus rapid transit system that would cut commute times along one of Nashville’s major corridors, has been staunchly opposed by the Tennessee branch of Americans for Prosperity, a lobbying organization founded in part by the Koch brothers. AFP’s Tennessee director told the Tennessean that SB 2243 was the result of a conversation he’d had with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Tracy. In addition, AFP pushed the Senate to vote on the bill — efforts that led to StopAmp.org, one of the lead groups opposing the Amp, thanking AFP in a press release after SB 2243 passed the Senate. The transit system’s opponents say it would create traffic problems and safety issues due to its middle-lane location, a claim that a spokesman for the Amp Coalition disputes.

Holly McCall, Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority’s spokesperson for the Amp project, told ThinkProgress AFP has kept a low profile throughout the campaign for and against the Amp. She said she’d suspected AFP was involved in the Amp’s opposition, but didn’t know for sure until StopAmp.org thanked the group in their press release.

“It’s pretty tough to fight that kind of money — AFP gets funds from the Koch brothers, and they’re billionaires,” she said. “We continue to work our local campaign, and we’re probably going to make some tweaks to the design — we’re interested in compromise, because if we don’t, our entire future transit plan is going to be dictated by people who live out of state.”

The theme I see is pretty simple. Why should, or would they care about mass transit in this state? But wait, there is more.

From The Tennessean (subscription)

By the time this session of the Tennessee General Assembly comes to an end, Tennesseans understandably should feel a little like the animals used in laboratory experiments — at least the ones that survive.

Our state, thanks to the dominance of a single political party, has been selected for a series of not-so-scientific experiments. The objective? Whatever Charles and David Koch want it to be.

The billionaire Kochs do not live in Tennessee and never have. That is not important, as they, through their group Americans For Prosperity (AFP), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), also not Tennessee-based, are increasingly deciding what laws the General Assembly should impose on the people of our state.

The Kochs are famous nationally for using their fortunes to advance causes that promote their interests or simply their philosophy, and increasingly they are getting involved in state legislatures. Invariably, their agenda is anti-worker protections, anti-environmental regulation, anti-health care reform. In other words, “anti-” the kinds of laws that majorities of Americans tend to support. And ALEC’s lobbyists have been busy in Tennessee for a few years now, usually drafting so-called model legislation such as the failed attempt to emulate Arizona’s unconstitutional 2010 immigration reforms and trying to spread fear of Muslims with anti-Shariah legislation.

I wrote a couple of years ago about the Koch Brothers interfering in local government and in state affairs. Southern Beale has written about them as well as Vibinc.  Competing with the money that the Koch Brothers, or many members of our elected leaders in Nashville has (looking at you, Governor) can be daunting, but we need to speak to power with what we have.

And we have our voices.

I wrote this a while back and I haven’t changed my mind so please let me repeat myself:

All of this talk about ALEC isn’t sexysauce, it’s not, but it is important to know and it is crucial to understand the actual words being used. Tort reform is not tort reform, it is caps-on-damages in lawsuits, for example. The National Federation of Independent Business, well you might want tocheck on that one as well because words matter when it comes to these organizations. Take a few minutes and watch this short video that lays out very effectively how ALEC is trying to obtain influence in statehouses.

I’ve written about ALEC before (man, it was quite spirited in the comments at times,) but the bottom line for me at least is that I don’t want my elected officials being ventriloquist dummies spouting off model legislation that wasn’t even written in this state. And a great deal of this model legislation is pretty much mean rubbish.

Tennessee deserves better and we can’t count on anyone but ourselves at this time. Start talking about legislation that doesn’t pass that sniff test. Take a few minutes to figure out who is working in your best interest and who isn’t.

Guys, we talk more about national government than we do in our own back yards. I know this is a long post, but be mindful that local control of government is being stripped away one piece at a time.

Urban, Rural or Suburban local governments know their communities better than the Koch Brothers do, or Nashville for that matter. How is this legislation going to hit your community?

It’s something to think about before we lose more than we already have..

Happy Hour – Tired Fingers Edition

I keep this image handy in case I forget

I’ve been a posting fool today y’all. Actually, I started writing last night, but I shouldn’t pull the veil back too far, you might see all my secrets.

Anyway, as I am a fairly violent typist, my fingers are killing me. What I mean by violent, is that I type very hard on the keys. If I didn’t have this plastic cover over my keys I probably wouldn’t have to do that, but since I don’t like drinks in my computer, the plastic cover stays. Got it?

But that doesn’t help my fingers, so there ya go.

Anyway, I know that Saturday I said that posting would be sparse this week, but I’m taking the opportunity to post while I can now. Just know that after 1pm on Thursday, I’m out until Saturday or Sunday.

Ok, I’m off to rest my weary fingers, but you look like you could use a drink.

It’s Happy Hour, get to it!

You think early voting turnout was good statewide? Check out the numbers in Dyersburg, 25%. WOW!

Southern Beale thinks we should leave the flag burning to the crackpots, even if it is the Confederate flag.

Two Gubernatorial Candidates have new TV ads out. One on the Democratic side and one on the awww damn look at that side.

Elderly Conservatives plan to attack Roy Herron. Word is they’ll chase him on their Jazzies and throw stale cookies at him.

A C thinks you should spy on your neighbors, especially if they don’t have an AC. That town in Arkansas to the west of us isn’t having it’s night out because of the heat. It’s hot out there, we need to look after each other.

Polar Donkey agrees that the TN-09 race will be a rout, just not for Herenton.

Don’t forget to tip your bartender. Cheers!

Missed Opportunities

Wednesday, the day after the US Department of Justice announced its suit against the state of Arizona, politicians all across the state rose their press operations in protest.

It started with the more conservative crowd in TN-03, then the inevitable announcement from Ron Ramsey, and finally the surprise of the day Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Mike McWherter, who released the following statement:

“I think the administration is wrong on this one. Arizona’s trying to get a handle on the immigration policy because of Washington’s total failure to deal with the real problem. Immigration has become another political football in Washington and this lawsuit only continues the game, rather than solve the problem. We need to control the border, crack down on businesses that employ illegal workers, and give businesses the tools to quickly and reliably verify a job applicant’s status.”

This means that every candidate for Governor in the race favors Arizona on this issue.

Or maybe not.

McWherter stopped short of saying he supported having a similar bill in Tennessee. Further, he didn’t place blame on the people who are illegally crossing, but the Federal Government, whose job it is to deal with immigration policy, and the employers who hire illegals.

This is an important distinction. Its one thing to say that the Federal Government has failed in its duty to protect the borders, but quite another to say that we should build a legal moat filled with alligators around the state.

That, however, was not the message that came across on a day that could have gone in so many other directions.

Reaction has been strong and relatively swift from the left side of the ‘sphere, starting with Aunt B and Braisted, followed by LWC and Southern Beale.

Then, yesterday the TNGOP released this little gem, which was both predictable and probably intended to distract from their other problems.

While the meat of McWherter’s statement isn’t really all that different from what he’s said before, by invoking Arizona at all he, at least gave many the impression that his position was indistinguishable from the three Republicans in the race.

The fact is, McWherter didn’t come out in support of the Arizona law, and hasn’t voiced any support for trying to enact such a law in Tennessee. McWherter said that the Feds were misdirecting their attention in the case of the lawsuit, that’s it.

But such nuance is lost in most cases, as Al Gore and John Kerry can attest. People rely on contrast to make decisions, and while McWherter’s statement is different, he effectively framed himself as supportive of the law and made himself indistinguishable from the Republican candidates in the minds of those precious few voters who are actually paying attention right now.

I understand that this is an emotional issue for many people in the state. I also understand that this issue probably polls very high among the electorate of the state. But folks, seriously, even the Republicans couldn’t figure out how to get a largely ceremonial joint resolution passed in the legislature on this issue. McWherter could have simply repeated his prior position without invoking Arizona, in doing so he would have remained consistent with previous statements, and not pissed off a bunch of people who already feel marginalized.

So that, in my mind is a missed opportunity, but it’s not the only one.

On that same day, reports of per diem abuses hit the news, as did the TNGOP FEC violations, and reports of questions about the citizenship of two Puerto Rican born children in Dyersburg. Talk about opportunities to offer distinctions!

I know these things are usually planned out far in advance, and that some of that news broke after the McWherter statement, but I wonder about the value of issuing such a statement in an echo chamber of seemingly similar statements from decidedly different political positions. It seems to me that on wedge issues such as this one, if McWherter wants to distinguish himself from the Republican field, he should give them the opportunity to beat the hell out of each other, then strike the final blows, at least until the Republican Primary is decided August 5th.

Hindsight is 20/20, I understand that, but in a melee such as this, the last man standing is the guy who throws the last punch. In this case, that may be the biggest missed opportunity of them all.

Practicing The Golden Rule

Southern Beale is taking on national bloggers Digby and Atrios this morning in a post about Christianity and the reaction of national liberal bloggers regarding statements made my Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle.

Oh for Chrissakes, people. That’s not what she’s saying, okay? That’s not what Christians mean when they say “God has a plan,” and “have a little faith,” alright? I swear, are you folks being intentionally obtuse for the sake of scoring a cheap political point or are you really just that out of touch with the faith community that you don’t know what Christians mean when they say “God has a plan”?


Look, no one is saying it’s God’s plan for war or for a woman to be raped, or for anyone to be sexually molested. What they are saying is that even though these horrible things may happen, God has a plan to pull us through. God will make it right. God will create a blessing where humans create tragedy. That is what it means to say “God has a plan” and “have a little faith.” Every Christian regardless of their political persuasion knows what that means. Twisting the words around to make them horrible does not help your cause, it just makes you look like asses. It makes you look intolerant. And ignorant.

Liberal Christians do exist. I tend to keep my faith to myself although I’ve written about it before at Newscoma. I do think that So. Beale is making a very good point here.  We as progressives might want to remember that we don’t want to dismiss others and skew their words because we don’t want that done to us.

The Golden Rule isn’t a bad one. And honestly, the things that Angle and Palin said are, as SB put it, Christianese.  For Christians, it reverts back to faith.

Finding myself defending two women I wouldn’t vote for ever boggles my mind as well, but not everyone is the same. If we want there to be light shed on issues such as the Mosque in Murfreesboro, we have to be tolerant of those with different viewpoints  us as well. We have bigger things to contend with than tearing apart Christianese. It accomplishes very little.

Honestly, you can be a progressive and a Christian.  I suggest you take a look at John Shuck. His blog represents that point everyday.

Morning Coffee – Hop on Pop Edition

Father's Day is a time to thank dear old dad, or as Dr. Seuss suggests in this title, brutally assault him physically and emotionally while laughing hysterically

Tomorrow is Father’s day, and since I wrote a whole post about Mother’s Day last month, I gotta do the same thing for dear old dad, lest he get jealous or feel left out or something.

According to Wikipedia, Father’s day was established in 1910 by a daughter who felt that, in the wake of the popularity of Mother’s day that fatherhood needed some props too. It gained first national recognition by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

Of course, there was a lot of scorn, fear, and laughter about the holiday in the early days. Congress resisted passing a law recognizing it for fear that it would be commercialized, which is exactly what happened in the late 1930’s. The first real national proclamation honoring Father’s day came in 1966 by President Johnson, and President Nixon made the day official in 1972 by signing a bill passed by Congress making it official.

So, there ya go. Take some time to thank dear old dad for all the good times, like that time he built the swing set and there were way too many pieces and parts left over making it as safe as a North Korean sweatshop, or that time he tried to make breakfast for the family, only to nearly burn the whole house down, which resulted in a family tradition of going to the Shoney’s breakfast bar.

Ahh memories. Ok, it’s time for some coffee.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. As Trace noted yesterday, there has been some consternation expressed about the timing of TNDP press releases. Do I have an opinion about it? You betcha, but I’ll follow their advice and wait until Monday or Tuesday to do it. /snark

Southern Beale is all over the TVA for shuttering a successful program for being too successful.

Even if this poll is done by a conservative outfit the results are unsettling.

A referendum for single source funding? Sounds like a good idea, but…aww just read the article.

The Clarksville Coffee Party meets today.

And finally, if you’re in Memphis and looking for something to do, stop by the Memphis Zoo. They’re on tap to have over one million visitors this year. Wouldn’t you like to be the one millionth?

Enjoy Father’s day tomorrow, and have a great weekend. We’ll be back on Monday, rip, roarin’ and ready to go!

Morning Coffee – Your Weekend Begins Now Edition

via toothpastefordinner

I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for the weekend that I’m seriously considering just blowing this day off and taking a break. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Too many things to get done.

That doesn’t mean I’m still not considering blowing off today, it just means that the consequences of doing blowing off today would be dire.

I’m not sure I’m willing to deal with those consequences.

Oh well, I guess I should get it in gear then. Maybe some coffee will give me the inspiration that I need to power through this Funky Friday…

Newsweek makes a booboo and leaves off a great school from Memphis.

Zack McMillin with a look into the worldview of suburban Shelby County Voters.

The Madison County branch of TEP launches.

And finally, Southern Beale has a good commentary and one of the scariest photos I’ve seen in some time.

Your weekend is just 8 hours away. Don’t watch the clock too much!

Morning Coffee – First Week Without the Lege Edition

This session left the state battered and bruised, but still breathing

It seems that its milestone time around here. Last week we passed out 1000th post, then we had our first speaking gig and now we have our first full week without the shenanigans of the legislature.

While that may seem like a big change for a little blog that’s spent a lot of time talking about state politics, I think all of us are glad the state is out of harms way…for now.

Like I’m sure someone said last week, (though my hazy mind can’t remember who) this means we’re in full on campaign mode. With just 7 weeks until state and federal primary elections the action is just starting up, particularly in the Republican Gubernatorial primary race.

But we’ll get on with that later, right now it’s time for some coffee!

Like we said, the race is on, but hopefully unlike the George Jones song, the winner won’t be losing all.

Here in the Shelby County race for Mayor there was some action. TNDP Chair Chip Forrester called a poll released by Republican Mark Luttrell bogus, and said that Luttrell was posing as a Democrat. An independent poll disputes the poll released by Luttrell and says the race is all tied up.

Grand Divisions the blog of the Tennessee Equality Project is trying to whip up awareness of the upcoming primary.

Richard at Mediaverse notes a rumor that has CA Editorials Editor leaving to become Chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. That’s a pretty huge move. Regardless of how it works out, we wish him well.

And finally, this isn’t really political, but deals with the other subject you’re not supposed to talk about in a bar, religion. Southern Beale has an interesting post on what happens when we die.

Al-righty folks, the week’s just getting started. Make it a good one!

News Lessons To Be Learned From The Flood

Southern Beale dissects a Washington Post editorial by Howard Kurtz regarding the lack of media attention on the Nashville flooding situation.

The good news is that the story did get out nationally (the fact that the Washington Post did this column is evidence of that). Not on the traditional national news outlets but on blogs, social media, Twitter. There were shocking photos and compelling videos and wonderful writing. And our local news media, once they figured out that the story was not in the Doppler Radar color blobs but on the ground, in real

SouthTown Flood In Dyersburg

life, did a good job, too.

The national news media seems to be saying a collective “we’re sorry,” and frankly, I don’t give a damn. Because the fact that you overlooked our story isn’t bad for us. It’s bad for you. It’s just another example of an outdated media model involving gatekeepers and a centralized hierarchy of decision makers that control the information flow which is completely at odds with the current, decentralized model taking hold among actual consumers. The Nashville flood story showed the limitations of the national news media in the internet/wireless/cellular age.

She makes several points but I want to add one thing. Now that the water has somewhat cleared all across the state, there were lapses of media attention/neglect from all over, and of course our focus was watching our friends and family in middle Tennessee while desperately seeking information for west Tennessee. Online scribes made it their mission to continue the story, to get the message out, and it came down to their knowledge of knowing which “audience” they were writing to.  From a west Tennessee standpoint, finding critical news regarding the tornadoes and flooding was extremely frustrating for us at Speak to Power, and at times, it was lonely business.

The flooding focused on the dreaded term “hyper-local” at it’s highest order. And I do believe that Internet citizen journalists (and the fantastic job that several of the news stations did in Nashville should not be overlooked because they did step in from all appearances of looking on the outside in.) But So. Beale makes the point that sadly, it wasn’t enough.

For MSM to say “Whoops. Sorry” is fine and good. But in many ways it wasn’t enough. We saw the advantages, and disadvantages of a smaller, more concentrated audience in online communication.

It’s a start, but there is a part of me that wonders if we were to have another flooding situation, or an earthquake, how would it be handled? Are the tools in place to handle another need for media attention. I don’t have any answers but I do believe it is a conversation that will continue and definitely needs to be addressed.

Betsy Phillips at the City Paper also takes on this topic as well this morning.

Morning Coffee – All Work and No Play Edition

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Oh hi, didn’t see ya there. Kinda snuck up on me. Yeah. Whatcha doin? You know, you shouldn’t sneak up on people like that. Never know what they might be doin…


The other day some people were talking on Twitter about the movie “The Shining”. Seemed kind of a strange time of the year to be talking about one of the best, and most quoted horror flicks of all time, but hey, who am I to judge?

The Shining has lots of things going on in it, aside from the supernatural freakiness that, on the face of it, drives the film. Themes of isolation and the disappointment of not meeting expectations, whether those expectations are yours, imposed upon you by someone else, or some combination of the two, dominate the film.

That, and the notion that sometimes the very thing you seek, in this case, peace, quiet and isolation, are the very things that drive you over the edge of madness.

It’s something to consider in this age of supercharged hustle and bustle.

I don’t know about you guys, but the past two weeks has been brutal for me, both on a personal and professional level. My schedule, in this time, has been so over the top that I often don’t know what I have on tap for the next day without consulting the calendar.

It doesn’t look like this is going to change until sometime after finals in early May.

In the process I’ve been falling further and further behind. It’s an irritating scenario, but at least I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can, take some time for yourself and clear your schedule for the day. Put those unrealistic expectations that you’ve imposed on yourself, or that you feel others have imposed on you aside for the day. Chances are, you not only deserve it, you need it.

On to the Coffee…

Knoxviews reports on the pollen situation and reinforces what my nose has been telling me all week…the stuff is THICK.

Some folks in Memphis take to the streets to highlight the problem of domestic violence. Men in red heels? You read it right.

Southern Beale says goodbye to a dear friend. I’ll admit it, I teared up.

Constance McMillen is getting her prom.

Y’all have a good day out there. Looks like it’s gonna be beautiful.