Haslam agenda? What Haslam agenda?
Picture this: You are walking down the middle of State Street in Bristol, headed west, with your trusty Glock holstered over your left shoulder, under your jacket. According to the very liberal attorney general of Virginia, are you legal or not? If you turn around and retrace your steps heading to the east, are you legal or illegal? The distinction is important: If you are headed west on State St., your gun is in Tennessee. If you head east, your gun is in Virginia.
Silly question? Not at all. Virginia AG Mark Herring, a liberal anti-2nd Amended activist, recently made national headlines by revoking concealed carry reciprocity with over 20 states, including Tennessee. That means if you have a legal conceal permit in Tennessee and you and you gun venture into the Old Dominion, you will be subject to arrest.
Lt. Gov./Speaker Ron Ramsey has put Herring on notice: Keep acting like a jackass and the good citizens of Virginia are going to be in trouble once they pass the welcome station on I-81 headed south. He has promised he will address the Virginia early and forcefully in this year’s General Assembly session.
Ramsey’s spirited defense of Tennesseans’ 2nd Amendment rights is but one example of his taking the political agenda of the state away from the hapless Bill Haslam.
It is increasingly difficult to identify one major initiative proposed or considered by Haslam that has not been or will be rejected by the Tennessee legislature in this session. Remember InsureTN? Yeah, Ramsey said that ain’t gonna happen. How about a new gas tax in 2016? The scion of Pilot Oil is so impotent, he said last week that he was not going to propose it, despite spending thousands in statewide tours trying to gin up support for it. Apparently Haslam was the last to get the memo. Ramsey had already publicly stated any administration gas tax bill would be D.O.A.
Maybe Ramsey should pass legislation that requires Virginia Tech to spot UT a touchdown before the big game this fall. Now that’s reciprocity even AG Herring can understand.
So the new question is: If you are Bill Haslam, and you are walking down State St. or any other street in the Volunteer state, is there any direction you can walk to avoid having Ramsey kick you in the butt?
Yes, time now for one of RTP’s patented 20-20 hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking assessments of the recent drama at Legislative Plaza. Operating under the dictum of “actions have consequences,” there is more than enough to go around. Let start with our favorite – The Losers:
Beth Harwell – by engaging in her hands-off, ignore-the-problem until it metastasizes into an even bigger problem that must be addressed, Harwell put her entire caucus through a painful – and needless – exercise. She absolutely has known for months about most of the rumors swirling around Rep. Durham and yet she did not have the courage or leadership ability to simply call him into her office and tell him to cut the crap. Instead, she hid behind staffer Connie Ridley, who had a brief and cryptic meeting with Durham, allowing Beth to later to try and claim she had done something. The result of her lack of leadership was the cascade of events that led to yesterday’s caucus meeting.
Gerald McCormick — By instantaneously jumping on the anti-Durham bandwagon, and by encouraging other members to ramp up an internal, personal imbroglio, McCormick launched the actual mechanisms that ended up with yesterday’s caucus. GOP members need to remember that any member is at potential risk if all it takes to whip the political tar out of someone is over-hyped articles in the Tennessean and Gerald McCormick getting a couple of members to write a letter. Gerald’s personal temper tantrums and public and private berating of members of his own caucus are the stuff of legend down at the LP. Maybe Beth should get Connie to “have a conversation” with Gerald about this lack of professionalism. Or maybe even call a caucus meeting to discuss his nasty attitude.
Mary Mancini – Mancini’s attempt to make the Tennessee Democratic Party relevant has now entered the comical/pitiful stage. She trots over to the Capitol to condemn the GOP and Durham, while ignoring the 5,000 pound ethical gorillas inside her own party. There is Rep. Joe Armstrong: indicted and standing trial. Hillary Clinton: being investigated by 150 FBI agents for criminal conduct. Bill Clinton, who is laughably being rolled out as the moral standard for sexual harassment activists. (Come to think of it, Bill could teach Jeremy Durham and Ryan Williams a thing or two about the proper use of fine cigars, but decorum does not permit us to elaborate here.)
Mancini is living proof that bat-shit crazy is no way to run a political party.
GOP House Leadership in general – All told, the lack of actual leadership among the leadership is a damning indictment of their ability to manage events in the House. Say what you will about Jimmy Naifeh, but does anyone believe for a second that he would have allowed events to spin so out of control so fast?
The Tennessean – By far the biggest loser was the Tennessean, who didn’t even attempt to disguise the hit-job on Durham as actual journalism. They took a couple of stories and proceeded to repeat them nearly two dozen times in 30 days, rarely adding anything new to the story – just repeating it ad naseum. This “new journalism” is rising like a cancer on their profession, dropping any pretense of impartiality or fairness in pursuit of a liberal ideology.
Instead, the Tennessean has become something of a joke inside the Capitol, with even detractors of Jeremy Durham expressing disgust at the way the Tennessean conducted itself. The Tennessean devolved into a bunch of rumor-mongering political hacks hiding behind a journalism byline, trolling the halls of the LP asking for dirt on anyone.
[Editors’ note: Okay, okay, we know what you’re thinking. Exactly how is hiding behind a byline and exposing political shenanigans any different than what RTP does every day? Well, for one thing, unlike the MSM none of us pretend to be journalists and any attempt to infer that we are journalists would make our mothers cry and our fathers disown us. We also have the courage to admit we are opinionated muckrakers, while the MSM haughtily makes the increasingly absurd claim they are unbiased and fair. Plus, unlike the Tennessean, we at RTP are almost invariably right…]
By the end of yesterday’s proceedings, the MSM had slipped into parody territory. Check out these tweets from outside the caucus room:
@Dave_Boucher1 (The Tennessean)
“Well, what do you think: Should the GOP remove Durham as House Majority Whip?
( ) Keep as whip
( ) Remove as whip
Yeah, nothing says “objective and unbiased journalism” like conducting an unscientific twitter poll while the news event is still unfolding….
@JillCowan (The Tennessean)
“This is what it looks like when a bunch of reporters get booted from a real important meeting. #tnleg”
Strangely, that’s also what it looks like when no “real important meetings” are taking place. Of course, reporter Cowan is from California, which would explain a real lot about what she considers real important, or even real journalism.
@AndreaZelinski (Nashville Scene)
“Where I’m at. What is going on in there?”
Ya know, Andrea, one could stare deep into your eyes and ask you the very same question.
Special Category: Winner and Loser
Jeremy Durham – Durham dodged a bullet yesterday, so in that sense, he is a winner. If he takes away the proper lessons from all this, and matures, he may yet see a revival of his political fortunes sometime in the coming years. But if he thinks this was some sort of “vote of confidence” and a license to business as usual and he finds himself in a similar situation in the future, he will find his defenders hard to find.
And now for the Winners:
None come to mind.
No, RTP is not talking about Rep. Jeremy Durham. His fate will (or will not) be addressed Tuesday morning. But while reporters for the Tennessean and the Nashville Scene are lined up tonight, huddled around campfires and camping outside the Capitol doors like a bunch of Occupy Wall Street bums, we offer a little entertainment.
It was way back in 2015 (early December, to be exact) and the idiotic UTK political correctness war on Christmas was in full swing. At the center of it all was this man – “diversity” honcho Rickey Hall:
The ensuing outrage that came from the legislature was led by none other than Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey:
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said if UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek approved the post, he should resign. If not, Ramsey said, “the entire staff of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion should be dismissed.”
“If the University of Tennessee cannot keep its house in order the General Assembly must shift funding to the University of Memphis, ETSU or other institutions of higher learning that don’t embarrass us nationally on a regular basis,” Ramsey said.
Over the Christmas Break (known at UT as the “Secular Mid-winter Interlude for LGBTQs and Other Non-white People”) one of our intrepid RTP tipsters came to us with the info that UT lobbyist Anthony Haynes was overheard at a “holiday” function saying that Ramsey’s bloviating would make no difference. Once everything calmed down, everyone would keep their jobs, Haynes was reported to have boasted. Well the new semester starts this week and Jimmy Cheek and Rickey Hall are still drawing a salary and spending taxpayer money on making sure the precious little snowflakes at UT are protected from both gender-based pronouns and the cogitation of any original or rational thought.
So was Haynes correct in asserting Ramsey was full of crap? Will no one lose their job? To add insult to injury Haynes is a Democrat who spent eight years in the Clinton Administration in Washington. Brave words from a man who spent the majority of his career hating Republicans.
When Haynes makes his obligatory visit to Speaker Ramsey to start the new session, the biggest question is who will be the “pitcher” and who will be the “catcher” in that encounter. If anyone wants to read anything politically incorrect into that description, they are welcome to do so.
For the crew at RTP, we bet it will be Haynes who will be walking funny after that meeting.
Helpful Bonus Feature from RTP
Where we post a periodic running reminder that the political correctness police at UTK are still spending millions of our money telling us how to think, act and educate our kids:
Day #38: Rickey Hall still on the taxpayer payroll.
By now, all you political junkies out there have heard numerous rumors about the alleged extra-curricular goings on involving Rep. Jeremy Durham. Let us just say that if only a portion of them were true, then Jeremy would have already been thrown out of his church, his house or, at the very least, had a statue erected in his honor on Frat Row at UTK.
No, only Durham can answer for whatever he may or may not have done. The crew here at Rocky Top makes no rush to judgement, for or against Rep. Durham.
But in case you were too busy titillating yourselves at the expense of Jeremy, let us shine a little light on the actions of those who appear to have vested interests in the outcome and the implications those actions may have on other members of the legislature.
Let’s start with the Tennessean. In what was an obvious, carefully-timed placement of stories designed to deliver maximum pain to the politically conservative Durham, the Tennessean led everyone to believe that he was some sort of drug abusing child-porn advocate. Was the Tennessean’s barely-concealed glee over their pursuit of Durham the result of their liberal bias and self-serving desire to protect what remains of a left-leaning Haslam administration and it’s shrinking number of allies in the legislature? Nah, of course not.
Any legislator, especially a conservative, who gets caught shacking up with a cute young thing can count on the progressives at the Tennessean being all over it. Of course, when the Tennessean’s reporter assigned to the Durham story was outed for shacking up with a News Channel 4 reporter covering the same story and playing off of each other’s coverage, well, heck, that was just journalistic excellence in action. If they give Pulitzers for pillow talk, the Tennessean is a cinch to win that category.
Then came majority leader Gerald McCormick – an early rider on the kangaroo court bandwagon – who leaped at the chance to take a shot. Could Gerald’s instantaneous condemnation of Durham have anything to do with Durham occasional publicly musing that he might challenge McCormick for the majority leader post? Nah, of course not.
And then we have Speaker Beth Harwell, who apparently couldn’t summon the intestinal fortitude to personally speak to a wayward caucus member herself. Instead, she sent a legislative staff member to “talk to” Durham about the rumors – an act which neatly covered her derriere when the news stories broke. Never mind that Durham has not been charged nor has there been any complaint filed against him. Contrast that with when Rep. Curry Todd got arrested armed with a loaded gun while drinkin’ & drivin.’ Beth took her own sweet time to getting around to doing something about the transgressions of her political ally (whom she recently rewarded with an appointment to the panel that oversees police procedures and training – a little irony with your tea, Madame Speaker?). When Todd resigned his chairmanship, Harwell said the resignation was only “temporary.” It wasn’t until 7 months later, when Todd was indicted, that Harwell finally got around to saying the resignation was likely not temporary, but permanent.
But the bigger question: What the hell was she doing sending a lowly staffer to try and do what she could have quickly accomplished by calling Durham into her office for a two-minute meeting (“Jeremy, I’m hearing a lot of talk that you are screwing up. If it’s true, then stop it immediately or I will make your life miserable and will try to have your ass thrown out of the caucus. Capiche?”). Problem solved.
Instead she sent a staffer to do a leader’s job. Yeah, a real profile in courage. Just the kind of character flaws we look for in our next governor.
No, this article is not about Durham. But it is sure as hell about something. And that something is the establishment’s ongoing war against conservatives and the tactics they seem more than willing to embrace to accomplish their goals.
If recent events are the new standard for conduct, investigation and punishment, then practically every member is at risk. After all, everyone is guilty of something in their lives. If rumor, innuendo and MSM hatchet pieces is all it takes to remove someone from office, then everyone in Legislative Plaza needs to watch their back. That would include the married senior legislator who has been screwing around with his staff member for years (you know who you are). Who wants to cast the first stone? And if this is directed primarily at conservatives, then Rep. Rick “Bombs Away” Womick will be correct that it could create an all-out war that would leave the caucus and numerous political careers in shambles.
Durham is cannon fodder, delivered by either his own hand or by the hand of others with ulterior motives. If Durham has screwed up, let him pay the consequences. But the same goes for his detractors if they are proven wrong.
In the interim, RTP has a suggestion for everyone: Put down the rocks and step back into your glass houses. Present the evidence, act on it accordingly, then go back to the job people elected you to do. And let the Tennessean go back to doing what it does best: losing circulation.
You can take the boy out of Beverly Hills, but you can’t take the Beverly Hills out of the boy.
Now that Rocky Top has emerged from our “long winter’s nap” (induced by copious amount of Egg Nog and Jack Daniels) we were pleased to find that the Jolly Old Elf had left us one last Christmas present.
Fresh from his Christmas card debacle that managed to mention himself seven times but not word one about our Lord and savior, our favorite Californian running for office in Tennessee has shown his inability to relate to actual Tennesseans was not limited to greeting cards. Grant Starrett has just sent out a fundraising email saying, among other things, that he was hoping for bowl victories for Tennessee and Stanford.
You can forgive the good citizens of Tennessee’s 4th congressional district if they were a mite confused over why someone – anyone – sitting in Rocky Top Territory would be rooting for an expensive private college in California. If Grant felt compelled to root for an elitist, over-priced, snob-infested institution of higher learning, we have one right here — Vanderbilt. Of course, now that it appears the universe has self-corrected and Tennessee is re-emerging as a national power, we assume the “new normal” will be the same as the “old normal” and that Vanderbilt will only get to go to a bowl game once very two decades or so. Alas.
RTP stands ready to clear up the confusion. You see, young Grant spent about 80% of his young life in La-La Land (California) before deciding to carpetbag into Tennessee and run for Congress on money primarily provided by Mummy and Poppy and their southern California Hollywood friends. Before leaving the Sunshine state, he matriculated (not as dirty as it sounds) at Stanford.
Grant has tried to ingratiate himself into what for him is the foreign culture of Tennessee, but with little success. Maybe one of the reasons he has failed to do so is because he keeps coming up with genius moves like this:
Yep, that’s actually Starrett’s campaign car. In our opinion, nothing says solidarity with the good folks of Tennessee like driving a car with a Stanford license plate. We so look forward to what happens to Grant the day he rolls into Knoxville with a “Roll Tide” sticker on his Prius.
All this makes us wonder who Grant would pull for if it was MTSU vs. UT in a bowl game. Even better, what if Tennessee plays Stanford in a bowl game next year (an actual possibility)? Do you think Grant-baby would cheer for the Big Orange?
Yeah, neither do we.
UDATE: In his ill-advised email on Dec. 30th, Starrett said he was “$4,957 away from hitting a big number” before the next campaign financial disclosure deadline. We are assuming he was talking about the $1 million mark. Since Starrett has raised the overwhelming majority of his money from California and states outside of Tennessee, RTP suggests he set another milestone: Let us know when you raise more than just 5% of your money from inside the district you seek to
buy uh, represent.