Monthly Archives: March, 2016

Another Milestone for Rocky Top

1/3 Million Views.

We clean forgot about the recent 2-year anniversary of the creation of “The Blog No One Reads” (but that everyone can seem to quote). Yes, it was way back in March 17th 2014 that our stinking little bag of flaming truth hit the political front porches of the previously-insular politico bigwigs of the Volunteer state.

Since then, over 330,000 people have tuned in to our irresponsible and sometimes incoherent diatribes, lapping up our revelations, rumors, analyses and snarky commentaries. There is obviously no accounting for good taste or good judgement.

cakeSo the crew at RTP organized a belated celebration of our longevity down at Swett’s in Nashville last week, complete with a little cake and everything. It even gave us a chance to meet the new hubby of the Hot Chick – one of our most valued crew members. It was noted that since the Hot Chick is now married for the sake of decorum and political correctness we should stop referring to her as “The Hot Chick.” We agreed.

She will now be known as Mrs. Hot Chick.

Then we all retired to a bar to get drunk.

It’s what we do.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

10:30am showdown today in House State Government committee

All eyes on Lamberth, Sanderson and Todd

About one hour after this posting the House State Government committee will meet.  On their agenda this morning is the Refugee Resettlement lawsuit resolution that has already passed out of the Senate 27-5.  Over 70 members of the House have signed their names in support of the resolution carried in the House by Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver, including all but one of the House GOP caucus members (Rep. Bob Ramsey — who is “coincidentally” the chairman of the State Government Committee).

The stakes on this vote go far, far beyond the laudable merits of the resolution.   Simply put, will a committee of just ten people thwart the public will of the huge majority of House members who want the opportunity to vote on the floor on this resolution?  More specifically, will just three swing votes (Sanderson, Todd and Lamberth) be the deciding vote?

  • Will Sanderson get weak-kneed like he reportedly did in the State subcommitte?
  • Will Lamberth suddenly realize he has to leave right before the vote because, as he did last week, suddenly discover he is “needed next door to form a quorum” or some other excuse?
  • Will Curry Todd try to amend the resolution to protect liquor store owners? (okay, we’re just kidding about that last one.  We think.)

And what about the Speaker’s ability to break a tie if that happens in committee.  Will she do it?  She had better…

Tune in and watch the drama.  If this resolution fails in committee, look for all hell to break loose.  If that happens, there will be political casualties everywhere, beginning with the GOP caucus’ confidence in the Speaker’s leadership

High Noon at the State Govt. Committee Corral

Let’s Get Ready to Resolution Ru-u-m-m-mble!

Will Harwell break a tie vote?  If she doesn’t, will it result in the end of her speakership?

Will a House committee insult the retiring Ron Ramsey by defeating his last big legislation?

Will Sanderson wilt under pressure and flip flop?

Will Gov. Haslam end all hopes of having any sort of a relationship with legislative Republicans?

At noon Tuesday the House State Government Committee will meet.  #7 on the docket is consideration of Senate resolution SJR0467 regarding the proposed lawsuit against the feds over control of refugee resettlement in Tennessee.  RTP whipster-tipsters say the vote is currently 5 in favor, 4 against (Chairman Bob Ramsey and the 3 committee Democrats), leaving Rep. Bill Sanderson as the Nervous Nellie in the middle.  If it is a 5-5 vote, and Harwell doesn’t step in to break the tie, the resolution will fail and all hell will break loose.

Keep in mind, there is a document with over 70 House Republicans’ signatures calling for the lawsuit.  The one obvious holdout — Bob Ramsey.  Will Sanderson and Bob Ramsey pull a “Kent Williams” and screw over the overwhelming majority of their caucus?

The fallout on this vote could extend far, far beyond the question of refugee resettlement.

Let’s start with Sanderson.  Sanderson appeared to get the vapors over the subcommittee vote, but he finally sided with moving the resolution Sandersonforward.  This is not the first time Sanderson has threatened to go all squishy.  A couple of years ago a legislator introduced legislation for Tennessee to take a more cautious approach to refugee re-settlement and illegal immigration, Sanderson worked himself into a complete snit.

But by the time of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attack, Sanderson had done a complete turnaround, taking to Facebook to declare:

“Today I sent a request to Governor Haslam requesting the state suspend all efforts to settle any Syrian Refugees in Tennessee. It is essential the U.S. Department of Homeland Security complete a full review of security clearances and procedures. After the recent terrorist attacks in Chattanooga, Paris, and throughout the world, many in the state and federal legislatures are looking for new ways to ensure safety.”  — Rep. Bill Sanderson Nov. 16, 2015

Well Bill, here’s your chance to make good on that.  Everyone is watching what you do.

The other legislator facing high stakes is the Speaker herself.  If Harwell allows this vote to go down in the committee — with or without her making a tie-breaking vote — she is in deep kimchi.  It was through her actions alone (reportedly at the request of the governor) that the resolution was run through as many committee as possible to increase the opportunities for its defeat.  But then a petition got circulated and quickly received over 70 Republican signatures.  If Harwell cannot work the will of her chamber — and with a overwhelming majority of her own caucus — it will difficult if not impossible for her to retain control of that same caucus when it comes time for a vote for Speaker later this year.

Members are already quietly seething that she mishandled the Durham Debacle and doubting her leadership as a result.  By the way, guess who may be one of the deciding votes on the committee.  Durham.  Wow, the irony….

And last, as well as least,  Gov. Bill “The Kid” Haslam.  Inexplicably, Haslam has defended the Obama Administration’s vetting of the Syrian refugees at the very same time the Obama Administration’s Homeland Security Dept. was saying they could not properly vet the refugees.  Oops.

Haslam is about to become the lamest of lame ducks.

The stakes are huge on this one.

 

 

 

Here’s looking at you, Kid.

Ramsey and Haslam

Pity Bill Haslam. Our friendly governor has been casting about looking for relevance in an increasingly hostile political environment. He is constantly beset with bitter opponents who disagree with his ideology and his most deeply held beliefs. They counter him at every turn in an attempt to undermine an agenda they frequently find so unacceptable.

And that’s just the Republicans in the legislature.

But now Haslam has lost his most effective friend in the General Assembly. Someone who could also be his most implacable enemy – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.  Ramsey announced last week he is retiring from the senate. To say he will be missed is an understatement.

Ramsey at first treated Haslam like a brother – trying to accommodate Bill when possible while also trying to teach him about the legislative process. Ramsey’s first rule: don’t ever try to force the legislature to go somewhere they don’t want to go (i.e., Common Core, Insure TN, etc.). But like many kid brothers, Haslam could not break away from the shadow of the older more experienced, more effective political sibling.

Time after time, despite Ramsey’s attempts to guide and counsel him, Haslam tried to impose an agenda out of step with the conservative Republicans who increasingly dominate the caucus. And despite his affable demeanor, Billy “the Kid” Haslam could not resist throwing a hissy fit when he didn’t get his way. Case in point: Haslam’s disastrous attempt to elect allies and defeat incumbent Republican legislators in the 2014 primaries through his Jobs4TN PAC and the infamous Advance TN PAC set up by his chief-of-staff, Mark “Booger” Cate. Ramsey stayed out of the fracas that focused primarily on the House, watching with amusement while conservatives in that chamber gave Haslam the political equivalent of a “swirly” (look it up – it involves someone’s head in a toilet.)

Haslam could never seem to measure up to brother Ron, even when the clues were all around him.  Ron pushed the Refugee Resettlement lawsuit resolution through the Senate by a 27-5 margin.  Then Bill came out after the fact and declared he had a problem with it, even though the House GOP caucus had weighed in with a petition to pass the Senate resolution with over 70 signatures on it.

Ramsey shortcomingsRamsey has not been shy about exploiting Haslam’s shortcomings, particularly when he could get a “two-fer” by outmaneuvering both the governor and the Speaker of the House at the same time:

In case after case in recent years, Ramsey — and the Senate — prevailed over the wishes of Haslam and Harwell, most notably in 2011, when Ramsey insisted on attaching the abolition of collective bargaining to the governor’s education-reform package.   — MemphisFlyer 5/9/2013

Yep, like the older brother who moves away, Bill Haslam is sure going to miss Ron.

After all, who is going to give the governor a “noogie” when he’s got it coming?noogies

 

It’s Official: Kasich is Kaput.

bring out

Tom Ingram joins John Kasich’s presidential campaign. 

Clear sign that Kasich’s campaign is about to implode.

Tom! Ingram

Tom! Ingram

Yesterday, it was announced that Gov. John Kasich had added Tom Ingram to his campaign team.  Wow, Kasich just can’t catch a break, can he?

Ingram has a long history of playing key roles in presidential races.  He also has a long history of presidential candidate clients who crash and burn.

First there was Lamar! for President.  Ingram was his campaign manager.  Lamar! didn’t make it past New Hampshire.

Next came Gov. Jon Huntsman.  You all remember President Huntsman right?  Under Ingram’s guidance, Huntsman didn’t make it past the So. Carolina primary.

But Ingram was not finished.  Oh, no — not when there was a hopeless candidate with lot’s of moola that Ingram could access.

Ingram was hired last year to work for Jeb! for President.  After spending $130 million, Bush didn’t even make it past Super Tuesday earlier this month.  Ingram said he was hired to round up delegates for Bush.  And how many delegates did Jeb! get from Tennessee?  Exactly zero.

But poor Jeb’s political body wasn’t even cold when Ingram jumped to Kasich for President.  As a result, the stench of death has descended on the Kasich campaign

Maybe Tom! can find another self-funder to milk.  Look for Ingram to be a floor manager for Mitt Romney if we end up with a brokered convention in Cleveland.

Too bad for Mitt.  He might have been a contender.

Harwell on the spot over Refugee Resettlement Resolution

refugee cartoon

It’s amazing what 71 signatures on a piece of paper can do.

The resolution to sue the federal government over illegal refugee resettlement programs is working its way through the state legislature. It overwhelmingly passed in the Senate and a petition supporting the lawsuit circulated in the House got the signature of every member of the GOP caucus, except one.

But while the resolution was making its way from the Senate to the House, Gov. Bill Haslam weighed in with his opposition. Seems Bill thought his buddy Barack was doing a spiffy job vetting refugees from terrorist countries and then dumping them on unsuspecting states like Tennessee, even though Obama’s own Homeland Security office was warning that they had little ability to detect terrorists which are almost certainly embedded among the migrants.

So today, the House State Government committee voted out the bill to the full committee. It was a voice vote, naturally (wouldn’t want to actually go on the record with a roll call vote on something like this, would we?). Word from those there was that Chairman Bill Sanderson got all weak in the knees, but in the end sent it on to the full committee.

The chairman of the full committee is Rep. Bob Ramsey – the one Republican who refused to sign the petition in favor of the resolution. Ramsey says his religious beliefs don’t allow him to turn Muslim refugees away. No word on whether his beliefs extend to the Christians from the Middle East who are being beheaded, sold into sex slavery, etc. The Obama administration is trying to let in Muslim “refugees” to the almost complete exclusion of persecuted Christians. Rep. Ramsey seems to be practicing situational empathy.

This is where it gets a little dicey for Harwell. If for any reason the resolution gets bottled up in Ramsey’s committee and does not make it to the House floor for a full vote – and passed — you will see a huge revolt by the rank and file in the House GOP caucus. And that’s why Harwell is on the spot. Her leadership will be questioned – again – if she cannot deliver a victory on legislation that has 71 Republican legislators on record as being for the resolution. Just because Bill Haslam thinks the Obama administration is doing a great job dumping Muslim refugees in Tennessee without our permission doesn’t mean Harwell can drop the ball.

Not on this one. Not now.

Congressman from Lagos or Pacific Palisades? Take your pick.

DesJarlais to face two opponents who were born and raised in foreign lands.

yomi 2

DR. FAPARUSI

Dr. Oluyomi “Yomi” Faparusi announced he is running for Congress in the 4th District. You may remember Yomi from the 2012 race when got a whopping 284 votes, but in so doing became Sen. Jim Tracy’s eternal enemy by scooping up votes that could have gone to Tracy, who lost to Scott DesJarlais by only 36 votes.

Faparusi is a highly educated and accomplished individual who, based on his resume, probably deserved a better showing than he received in 2012. But it is doubtful he can relate to the fine folks in the 4th District, who probably can’t figure out how growing up in Nigeria is relevant to the concerns of Tennessee voters.

FAR OUT 2

GRANT STARRETT

But to be fair, it would be no less difficult for someone from Fayetteville or Dunlap to relate to that other “foreigner” in the 4th District race – Grant Starrett – who was born and raised in Pacific Palisades and graduated from college in California and who moved into the district a few months ago.

To the voters of the 4th District, the “Left Coast State of Fruits & Nuts” is every bit as foreign as Nigeria.

 

 

No Expiration Date On Greed.

Rep. Curry “Armed and Loaded” Todd and his lobbyist buddy, David McMahan, are at it again.

Having lost their first attempt at rigging the free market to protect liquor stores by sneaking in an amendment to the Wine in Groceries law, they are now pushing for reconsideration of the bill that Todd pulled when he lost a key committee vote a couple of weeks ago.

Rep. Todd – who was arrested for driving while drunk and carrying a loaded weapon while drunk – is bellying up to the bar for his lobbyist buddy once again trying to rig the system in favor of liquor stores.

Is it just us, or does anyone else see the putrid ethics with such a collaboration?

This new attempt will take 12 votes to pass the committee. That means Todd and McMahan will need to hold all their original nine votes and come up with another three. But will every one of those original votes stick with the Dynamic Duo? Specifically, will Reps. Charles Sargent and Gary Hicks – both who are facing serious primaries – risk losing their election by voting for the Todd amendment?

Hicks has never been actually elected (having been appointed to fill the seat after Mike Harrison resigned) so he’ll be facing voters for the first time. You can see the ad in the primary now:

Narrator: “Before he even cast his first vote as an appointed legislator, Gary Hicks took a $500 contribution from a liquor lobbyist, then voted against free-enterprise competition to protect liquor store owners. And now he wants us to elect him to a full term? Why — does he need more liquor money?”

Yep, after being appointed to his position, Hicks accepted a $500 check from McMahan before he even cast his first vote as a legislator.  Somebody needs to check that boy’s priorities.

Sargent nearly lost his race two years ago after some inconsiderate jerks revealed his campaign was being run by the wife of a lobbyist. (Oh, wait. That’s right. WE were the jerks who revealed his campaign manager was the wife of a lobbyist). Sucking up to a liquor lobbyist and an odiferous sweetheart deal doesn’t seem like very smart “strategery” for your re-election, Chuckles.

 

Mark Cate: Political Booger.

Once Again, Rocky Top tipsters “out” Cate.

Cate still posing as a staff member for Haslam, even though he supposedly left state government months ago.

You remember when you were a kid, and after digging around in your nose, you tried to get rid of the evidence by flicking it off the tip of your finger, but it just kept sticking around, grossing everyone out?

Yeah, that’s just like Mark Cate.

Ostensibly, Cate resigned as Bill Haslam’s chief of staff back last summer. We know that is the case because the governor’s office sent out a big ol’ press release and everything. We’re told there was even a going away party, with cake and everything.   Yes, Mark was leaving to make oodles of dollars in the private sector. At least that’s what Haslam and Cate told everyone.

whack a moleBut quicker than Bill Haslam could slip a personal check under the table to Tom Ingram, up pops Cate like a Whack-a-Mole.  A couple of weeks ago he showed up at the Washington, DC meeting of the Republican Governor’s Association (a favorite watering hole for thirsty consultants and lobbyists). Mark was trolling for existing and potential clients who might need his services (as if a bunch of companies would just be dying to hire a complete jerk who had successfully pissed off the entire Tennessee state legislature).

But what was different this time was that instead of getting in the “lobbyist/contractor” line, Mark went directly to the “staff” credentials table and picked up a pre-printed card with his name on it that was authorized by the governor’s office. Check out this photo (zoom in to see Cate’s title printed on the nametag).

Cate edited 2

If it looks a little fuzzy, it may be because you’ve been drinking like, well, a lobbyist at a DC reception.  But here is the translation:

Mark

Cate

Tennessee

GOVERNOR STAFF

Wait – didn’t we get rid of this booger months ago? Why is he still posing as a member of the governor’s staff? Did the state pay for his registration? His hotel? His travel? Did he fly on the governor’s plane?

This administration is so mobbed up with business cronies it’s impossible to tell the difference between staff and lobbyist. But we guess that was exactly what the Governor intended all along. “Incestuous” doesn’t even begin to describe these people.

Nonetheless, RTP will keep trying to flick off this political booger just as long as Mark keeps digging.

Trumped Up.

On Tuesday Californian Grant Starrett, running in the 4th District for Congress, finally got to vote in the 4th District for the very first time.

Until Tuesday, Grant hadn’t lived in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district long enough to actually vote in an election.

Congratulations, Grant! Did you have any problems finding your polling place?  Hope not.

But before you unpack your carpetbag and surfboard, dude, a word of caution.

You know that whole strategy thing on how you were going to run for Congress to the right of Scott DesJarlais? But then DesJarlais became the first Tennessee congressman to endorse Donald Trump? And then Trump turned out to be wildly popular in the 4th District? Yeah, you’re going to need a new strategy there, Champ.

Trump won the 4th Congressional district by nearly 50%, running in some 4th District counties as much as 17% ahead of his statewide totals. Grant’s candidate won by – oh wait, that’s right – Grant refused to endorse anyone. Hell, son even Bill Haslam, that paragon of political courage, endorsed Rubio (which Marco found about as useful as mud flaps on a turtle).

Hard to say, but we here at RTP think that siding with a candidate who is wildly popular among Republicans in your district just might be a good thing when those same Republicans show back up in the August primary to vote again for Congress. When they do, they will have a clear choice: Des Jarlais, who endorsed the person they voted for for President — or you,  someone who ducked taking a position and sat on the sidelines.

Of course if Grant was actually from here, he might have figured that out. But guess they don’t teach Tennessee politics at Stanford.

Score a big one for Des Jarlais over the boy from Pacific Palisades.