Washington Post 2/14/2015
Hysteria! Madness! Assholes everywhere! Oh, the humanity!!
The Tennessean, leader of left-wing thought that permeates the state’s newspapers, seems to be having a nervous breakdown over Tennessee’s ObamaCare (Medicaid) expansion efforts. How else to explain their latest conniption fit in this past Sunday’s massive page one editorial against the heathens in the legislature who dared not toe the line and expand socialized medicine in the Volunteer state.
Their straw man in this case was Sen. Todd Gardenhire. The Tennessean editors practically swooned on their way to the fainting couch when they learned Gardenhire used the word “asshole” when he responded to an “activist” who had followed the senator to the men’s room, screaming questions at the legislator. Those of us at RTP who know Gardenhire personally think the poor dears at the Tennessean should be thankful he didn’t use even more descriptive language. RTP thought Gardenhire was the model of restraint when he chose to just call the guy an asshole. Decking the scum bag would have been just as appropriate.
The Tennessean has also dropped all pretense of unbiased coverage of the Insure TN issue. They have run what seems to be an article a day about what morons the state legislators are, chronicling all the people they say will die if we don’t take money that we got along without well enough these last few years. They largely ignore the fact that it was a Democrat governor (Bredesen) who removed hundreds of thousands of these same people from the public teat not that many years ago. But now that the Republicans are in charge and having to make some similar difficult decisions — well you would have thought the world was coming to an end. Obviously someone must be accused of such perfidy! For example, with every story they now print the names, phone numbers and addresses of every legislator who recently voted “no” on the expansion. What’s next? The names of their children and where they attend school?
Here at RTP, we view the list of elected officials the Tennessean names as villains from a different perspective. These are representatives who have demonstrated the courage to step forward and vote their convictions. On second thought, maybe the Tennessean “hit list” does serve a good purpose — now we know where to send the thank-you notes.
What has happened to the Tennessean? Many theories abound as to what precipitated their frenzy: perhaps it is the “Vapors,” or nostalgia for the glory days of the 60’s, or too many reporters with degrees in Medieval women’s studies, or the anniversary of Saul Alinsky’s birthday… who knows? But they are quite obviously engaged in some serious political hyperventilating over this disturbing turn of events.
The brain trust here at RTP has discussed the situation in detail, and while we have not completely dismissed the possibility of hallucinogenic substances, we believe the answer is much simpler – and much more profound as it relates to politics in Tennessee.
The last two mega-issues for the left — Common Core and Obamacare (Medicaid) expansion — have been crushed in Tennessee. This, despite “all the right people” throwing millions of millions of dollars at the issues. This despite all the top-flight consultants such as Tommy Griscom and Tommy Ingram, along with the lower-level talent of Joe Hall and a host of others being put on the payroll to jam this down the throats of Tennessee taxpayers. This despite the leadership of a billionaire governor whose most substantive connection to average Tennesseans is through their gas tank. This despite the combined effort of the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Sons of the Pioneers and the Wartburg Ladies Quilting Club all swinging into action in support.
No, what is going on here is the growing realization that the old political paradigm, while still useful on occasion, can no longer dictate the outcome of every rape & pillaging of the taxpayers that comes down the pike. When Advance TN PAC cannot elect more than one or two legislators, when Bill Gates and Bill Frist cannot move the body politic on Common Core after spending millions on their propaganda and their operatives, and when the big hospitals cannot have their way despite every bogus scare tactic they could muster, then you know something has changed.
What sends the folks at the Tennessean and others like them into heart palpitations is the reluctant realization that the “torch has been passed to a new generation” (we couldn’t resist the citation from their patron saint, JFK). What is particularly galling to them is that the “new generation” is comprised of an electorate that is more fiscally and socially conservative than their running buddies of the past 50 some-odd years. Weren’t they taught at Bryn Mawr and Harvard that this could never happen? Didn’t their well-worn copy of “Rules for Radicals” provide the antidote for such Neanderthals as Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh? How could this happen after the Chosen One was elected president in 2008?
It is a soft and not so soft corruption that leads many to believe their business success coincides with their ability to extract money from the public treasury; from the Pearsons looking to make a buck off the public education of our children to the hospital conglomerates for whom Medicaid expansion would return them a near 900% return on investment, courtesy of the taxpayers. Those living off the taxpayers along with those in the media are apparently suffering from PTSD brought on by having their most cherished values and expectations smashed by the Great Unwashed taxpayers and are now probably asking themselves: “Where shall we go? What shall we do?
Frankly, my dears, we don’t give a damn.
Recently, the freshman legislators of both parties held a joint meeting to foster communication and bipartisanship. Leaders of the effort were Republican Brian Terry and Democrat Bill Beck. Terry’s generosity of including the Democrats was quickly abused.
The incident involved the appearance of former UT basketball star, Allen Houston, who was invited to talk about his foundation and its efforts to promote fatherhood and family unity in minority communities. Unbeknownst to Houston or Terry, shortly before the meeting Beck and TEA union lobbyist Jim Wrye conspired to crash the event by having Lee Harrell rush to the podium after Houston finished and deliver a rant against vouchers. Republican freshmen sat stunned at the rude takeover of their meeting.
What is it with Jim Wrye? It seems with this Alabama transplant we are always waiting for the other sheet to drop. First there was the revelation that Wrye directed TEA campaign funds away from minority legislators, the union’s most loyal supporters.
And now the union operative from the home of George Wallace has the bad judgment to crash the event of a bona fide Tennessee African American hero, and that speaks volumes about how and where Wrye learned his politics.
Wallace & Wrye have a lot in common. George Wallace spent a career trying to keep minorities out of better schools and Jim Wrye has spent his career trying to keep minority students locked up inside bad schools.
They both stand in the school house door. One facing out, the other facing in.
The last year has not been kind to the Haslamists and their fearless leader. After the governor’s ham-handed plan to raise a quarter of a million dollars (chump change to the wealthiest elected official in America) to defeat members of his own party (and came up with a net gain of zero seats for his legislative agenda), he followed that up with his Insure TN special session debacle. Then his idea for a gas tax got punted to next year. Later this week, despite his attempts to spin it as a positive, his cherished Common Core is likely to be dramatically revamped and shifted to true “Tennessee standards” after the guv and his cronies spent millions trying to foist the Obama-style education program on reluctant taxpayers. Then he tried to bring back Insure TN and was humiliated a second time.
So when the Haslam forces selected Rep. Ryan Haynes for state party chairman, they were finally rewarded with a demonstration of their awesome power and superiority.
Okay, okay, so Haynes only won by 3 votes. Let’s not quibble here. This is Haslam’s very own “Triumph of the Will,” if you will. After the bad year he has had, this a big effin’ deal (at least to the guv).
So let’s offer a big, hearty round of one hand clapping on his historic political victory.
Oh, and congrats to Ryan Haynes. After all this time he is finally fully employed.
… or “Getting away Scott free”
Like a thief in the night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker waltzed into the State Capitol last week and danced out with a huge number of state legislators endorsing his candidacy.
The Dean reported that 22 Republican legislators endorsed Walker on Thursday. But RTP’s indefatigable leakers say the number is now at 27 and growing. New recruits include Reps. Mike Carter, Eddie Smith, Debra Moody and Ryan Williams.
No word yet from the Bush, Jindal, Christy, Santorum, Huckabee, Cruz, Perry, Paul, Rubio, Graham, Kasitch, Trump or Carson campaigns. At last count, the combined total of Tennessee legislators who have publicly endorsed them is, well, zero.
Chip Saltsman, call your answering service. The Huckster wants to see you in his office first thing Monday.
Is it just us or does the stink of corruption and inside dealing reek with this administration?
C’mon guys. The governor gives tacit approval to a $20 million fuel tax break for FedEx (Chairman & Founder: Fred Smith) – the same Fred Smith who sits on the board of directors of the governor’s family fuel business, Pilot/Flying J. The bill’s sponsor, Mark “Whitey” White, says it is needed to keep FedEx from moving some of its business to other states with lower tax rates on the aviation fuels business.
Now RTP always likes to get us some of them tax breaks whenever possible, but this is nuts. Following “Whitey’s” logic, we should just take a look at any industry in another state, reduce our tax rate on that industry to something lower than their home state, then sit back and watch the jobs just come pouring in. Admittedly, the stratagem worked wonders during Prohibition, when bootleggers lowered the tax rate on hootch to zero and saw the unemployment numbers plummet when a thousand gap-tooth hillbillies cranked up moonshine stills along every crick and holler in East Tennessee. But we doubt the efficacy of such a move like the one with Fed Ex.
Maybe “Whitey” is on to something, though. After all, it was said some of that stuff they used to (used to?) brew up in Cocke County could power a jet airplane while getting you higher than a kite. Of course the Cocke County Del Rio brand of aviation fuel was actually drinkable — unlike the rotgut in Trimble they want to pass off as “Tennessee whiskey” these days.
But we digress.
Did anyone stop to think this was possibly the least bit fishy? We do not give a crap about the merits of whether FedEx “deserved” the tax break. However, the political optics of such a deal are unquestioned: they suck.
And where is the vaunted news media on this story? Give Richard Locker credit for writing the story of the tax break, but to our knowledge, neither he nor anyone else in the MSM has bothered to note the 5,000lb conflict-of-interest sitting in the corner of the room. Are you guys lazy, incompetent or just in the tank for the governor (pick one)?
We are growing used to and exasperated with the governor’s inability/refusal to recognize even the most basic political perceptions. There were the putrid JonesLaSalle deals, the under the table payments to his lobbyist/advisor Tom Ingram, the targeting of and attacks on legislative incumbent members of his own party, the InsureTN debacle that the governor brought up twice in one session, the petulant refusal to allow state troopers to make an extra off-duty buck at this weekend’s NRA convention. This list goes on and on and on.
There have been nearly a dozen federal felony convictions so far for the infamous “manual rebate” scheme conducted by Pilot/Flying J. You would think someone in the governor’s office would have noticed the similarities to the latest scam and connected the dots.
After all, $20 million is one hell of a rebate, manual or otherwise. Just ask the folks in Cocke County.
[Editor’s note: For the delicate flowers at the Tennessean or one of the voices inside Gordon Bonnyman’s head who think the above references from the movie “The Sierra Madre” are somehow offensive to the millions of illegal aliens streaming across our border, we can only point out that the quote came straight from the HQs of Pilot/Flying J.
Ask the governor how much he made off the illegal “manual rebates.” Then get back to us, por favor]
RTP has done an unscientific, biased and contrived poll (just like Speaker Harwell’s district survey on Insure Tennessee, or just about any poll conducted by the Tennessean) focused on tomorrow’s state GOP chairman’s election and we have come to some conclusions which we graciously share with you now.
Actually, our intrepid band of operatives did fan out and gently ask a number of SEC members and those close to said SEC members about how they think the election is going to go tomorrow. Here are some observations:
The race seems to be between Rep. Mary Littleton and Rep. Ryan Haynes, while there are a multitude of other candidates, including the intrepid Dr. Carol Swain, the executive committee members seem to believe it will come down to essentially a two-person race. As the balloting proceeds and as candidates drop out either by rule or personal decision, somewhere around the third ballot it will effectively be a race between the two state Reps.
Both Littleton and Haynes have had their legislative allies calling SEC members on their behalf and our survey indicated that Littleton has had significantly more legislators calling to support her efforts. Littleton also benefits from her long service to the party as a member of the SEC, with a majority of long-time veteran members leaning to her and only a handful who are supporting Haynes.
A wildcard in the race is the role of the governor and/or his representatives. There are a number of accounts by members who say they have been contacted by those purporting to represent the governor’s interests and that he wants Haynes to be anointed. In years past, the state executive committee was the personal playground of incumbent Republican governors and whichever crony the guv (or in some cases, a U.S Senator) wanted to be chairman, got the job. This happened under Sundquist (when he named his campaign driver Chip Saltsman to be chairman). During the second (and highly unpopular) second term of Dandy Don, Sen. Fred Thompson stepped in and hand-picked Rep. Beth Harwell for the post. During the Lamar! years, the governor picked every state party chairman, including one individual who was reputed to be a not-so-in-the-closet Democrat to the lead the GOP.
Those days are gone and the SEC is now a largely independent body with many on the committee taking the “long view” and operating under the knowledge that Gov. Haslam is largely a lame duck at this point and that they have a greater obligation to the state party than to just rubberstamp the governor’s preference. This has led many to believe that as Haynes is increasingly seen as Haslam’s boy, it only strengthens Littleton’s chances.
We here at RTP believe our analysis is absolutely correct and unassailable.
Unless it’s not.