According to some conservative commentary, political correctness has run rampant in a couple of enclaves within the Tennessee governmental bureaucracy recently, namely an arm of the state Supreme Court and a branch of the University of Tennessee.
Actually, UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Administrative Office of the Courts blundered into foolishly offending the real political correctness that prevails today in Tennessee politics. Let’s call it Tennessee Conservative Political Correctness, or CPC.
In case you’ve missed the recent raging:
n UT’s Diversity office posted on its website a call for UT personnel to use gender-neutral pronouns — “ze,” for example, instead of “he” or “she” — to promote inclusiveness and avoid offending those who have chosen a sexual identity inconsistent with birth certificates and such. No less a conservative authority than Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey declared this “the clearest example of political correctness run amok that I have seen in quite some time.”
n Someone within the Administrative Office of the Courts decided that forms filed in all divorce cases involving custody of children should list the parties as “parent 1” and “parent 2” rather than “mother” and “father.” Fox News promptly quoted Kendra Armstrong, a Memphis lawyer, as declaring the move “political correctness gone absolutely amok,” with members of the state Legislature’s Republican supermajority echoing the sentiment. The Administrative Office of the Courts, once its political faux pas was pointed out, backpedaled immediately. Continue reading →
With the state Senate Education Committee planning hearings on Common Core, Frank Cable has some thoughts on what’s to come: Gov. Bill Haslam’s education reforms hit a couple of speed bumps this past legislative session, but his reforms may hit a brick wall come next session. A major battle is brewing over the direction of the state’s schools pitting Haslam, Bill Frist, Bill and Melinda Gates, and the state’s business establishment against conservative groups and the legislators who listen to them.
It’s about the Common Core Curriculum, a term you may not have run across. But it has begun to rank with Obamacare as a program reviled by conservative groups.
…I have hundreds of pages of a report introducing the Common Core Curriculum. So far it just makes my head hurt. I suspect the debate in the Legislature will be based on political positions and alliances with different groups rather than on legislators actually studying those hundreds of pages.
The business community and Haslam are determined to raise educational standards. It is entirely possible for the educational reform effort in the state to get derailed over arguments about “liberal ideas” replacing traditional “American values.”
The hearings will be important. The business establishment had better be ready to handle the questions raised. Both sides of the issue need to have “truth squads” to separate fact from fiction. It is the most important issue facing our state at the moment. Let’s don’t screw it up.
A former top Internal Revenue Service official said Monday that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan stretched the truth when the former vice presidential candidate mentioned a Chattanooga nonprofit to bolster the idea the IRS favors liberal groups over conservative groups, reports Chris Carroll. In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Marcus Owens, who oversaw tax-exempt groups at the IRS between 1990 and 2000, said the Wisconsin Republican overplayed the facts to score political points.
“It’s different rules, different activities, different applications,” said Owens, now a Washington-based attorney. “I think he was stretching things.”
In a statement, Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert did not dispute Owens. He said the congressman merely wanted to highlight “discrepancies in treatment by the IRS.”
At a House hearing last week, Ryan cited Chattanooga Organized for Action as an example of a left-leaning nonprofit that was cleared for tax-exempt status faster than tea party organizations targeted and delayed because of their conservative ideology.
The Chattanooga Tea Party was among the right-leaning groups singled out by the IRS for extensive questioning and a drawn-out application process.
“The IRS was doing this because they were concerned about political activities by nonprofits. That’s the debate that seems to be taking place here,” Ryan told former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller. “Some of these that were approved were Chattanooga Organized for Action … and the Progressive USA. If you were concerned about political activity, did you have targeting lists that contained words like ‘progressive’ or ‘organizing’ in their names?”
Left unsaid by Ryan: Chattanooga Organized for Action experienced a lengthy IRS review itself. Additionally, its leaders sought a completely different tax designation than the Chattanooga Tea Party and other groups caught up in the scandal.
Roane County Tea Party (in the News Sentinel)
Gary Johnston thought the questions the Internal Revenue Service was asking seemed overly intrusive, even for an agency known for being irritatingly meticulous.
When he showed the federal tax agency’s demands to an accountant, her response confirmed his suspicions. “Her first question was, ‘Who did you make angry?'” Johnston recalled. “She said, ‘There is something wrong here. A lot of these questions are illegal.'”
Johnston feels absolutely certain that his organization, the Roane County Tea Party, was one of dozens of conservative groups the IRS has admitted to singling out for extra scrutiny when reviewing their applications for tax-exempt status. Today and Friday, he will be in Washington with other tea party officials from across the country to draw attention to their tangles with the tax agency.
Johnston said it took the Roane County Tea Party roughly 37 months to be granted non-profit, tax-exempt status — a process that normally should have taken about four months.
A few months after he submitted the paperwork in 2009, Johnston, the group’s co-chairman, got a package from the IRS demanding answers to roughly 80 questions.
Full story, HERE.
The Tennessee Conservative Union is launching a statewide media campaign in support of a bill banning “mountaintop removal” coal mining, warning the Volunteer State has “become the first state in America to permit a communist Chinese company to destroy our mountains.” From Andy Sher’s report: “The Tennessee Conservative Union is 100 percent Pro-Coal, but our organization does not support destroying our mountain heritage,” TCU Chairman Lloyd Daugherty “Mountaintop removal mining kills jobs because it takes fewer workers to blow up a mountain.”
The ad alludes to a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch article from last May which revealed that China-based Guizhou Gouchuang Energy Holdings Group said it had raised $616 million in a private placement to be used mainly to acquire and develop Triple H Coal Company in Jacksboro, Tenn.
That would make Guizhou Gouchuang the first Chinese company to invest in coal in America, MarketWatch reported.
It also quoted an unnamed top executive at Shenhua Group, a wholly state-owned Chinese company, saying Tennessee coal mines were attracting great interest in China as energy companies look at U.S. coal mines.
— Note: TCU’s video ad on the issue is HERE.
The news release is below.
Complex state insurance plans, constitutional hurdles and political consequences have all kept the University of Tennessee from delivering health insurance and other benefits to unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples, reports the News Sentinel, citing a letter UT leaders sent faculty members earlier this month. In the letter, Chancellors Jimmy Cheek and Larry Arrington acknowledged that the school’s biggest challenge is a conservative Legislature that could react with a heavy hand — particularly when it comes to funding — should the school attempt to offer benefits for same-sex couples.
“As we have expressed to you in person, the political issues are the most challenging,” the two wrote. “As leaders of a publicly funded institution, we are responsible for acting in the best interests of the entire institution. For this reason, we ultimately concluded that the University is not in a position to pursue the Faculty Senate’s resolution.”
The letter, dated Jan. 10, is the second such response requested by faculty hoping to open a dialogue about the possibility of offering insurance, bereavement and education credits to unmarried couples.
…”If that truly is what is behind the issues, I understand where that fear could come from. But I think that you’re deciding not to act based on something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Keith Kirkland, chairman of UT’s Commission for LGBT People.
“You have to allow people to react to things. This is something that needs to be done because it is the right thing to do.”
Kirkland said he is discouraged that he has not had a conversation with Cheek or even exchanged emails since becoming chairman of the commission last spring.
Former congressional hopeful and vocal Tennessee income tax opponent Steve Gill is ending his nationally syndicated radio show after 15 years on the air, reports The Tennessean. The Steve Gill Show will broadcast for a final time on Jan. 31 or Feb. 1, Gill said. Gill, a Brentwood attorney, said he is ending the show so he can focus on other business ventures, including speaking engagements and consulting, through his company Gill Media Inc.
He said he also wants to continue as a political analyst on News 2 WKRN.
“We’d been looking over the last several months at what we were going to do past the New Year,” Gill said. “We’ve got some other business ventures and opportunities to pursue and we thought this would be a good time.”
He said the growing corporate influence on radio also has made it more difficult for small broadcasters to thrive.
“When we started 15 years ago, radio was a different animal,” Gill said. “The way corporations work, it’s difficult to have a grassroots, listener-focused show right now.”
Democratic President Barack Obama won a bit more than 39 percent of the vote in losing Tennessee to Republican Mitt Romney last month. After the same election, however, Democrats hold just 21 percent of state Senate seats and 28 percent of state House seats.
Why the discrepancy? The most likely suspect, in a word: redistricting. The GOP controlled reapportionment this year for the first time since Reconstruction and when the election arrived, increased the majorities they had already under the old Democratic-engineered districts.
In the Senate, Democrats were reduced to seven of 33 seats; in the House, to 28 of 99.
Now, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey had some additional thoughts when asked about this the other day, the gist being that the Republican legislative election machinery is superior not only to its Democratic counterpart, but also to the GOP presidential campaign.
“We ran a campaign and he (Romney) didn’t,” said Ramsey. “It’s all about organization.”
But he conceded redistricting was a factor.
Both national presidential campaigns ignored Tennessee equally, Democrats writing it off and Republicans taking it for granted. So that playing field was pretty level.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union on Tuesday called for Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais to resign after reports that include the congressman once urged a mistress to terminate a pregnancy.
Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said in a release on Tuesday that DesJarlais’ actions have “reached a level of hypocrisy that is simply untenable.”
“He has repudiated the beliefs of the Fourth Congressional District, rejected the long held core values of the state of Tennessee, shamed the Republican Party and accomplished something incredibly difficult,” Daugherty said. “He has embarrassed the United States Congress.”
DesJarlais, who opposes abortion rights, has argued he was using strong language to try to pressure the woman to admit she was not pregnant. The woman was also under DesJarlais’ care as a Jasper physician.
The chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union said Monday he’s talking with other Republican-leaning groups and exploring whether to demand U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., resign from Congress.
Reports the Chattanooga TFP: The move comes as the 4th Congressional District lawmaker and candidate finds himself under growing fire following revelations that as a physician 12 years ago he pressed a former patient with whom he had been involved sexually to get an abortion.
Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty in an interview declined to identify the other organizations with which he has been speaking. He said his goal is building a “coalition” in support of the congressman’s ouster.
“We’re very upset that he’s broken his medical creed and the trust of the citizens of his district,” said Daugherty, who two years ago endorsed then-U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., whom DesJarlais beat in an upset.
The group usually backs Republicans.
In a statement Monday night, the Jasper lawmaker said his Democratic opponent, Eric Stewart, “supports Barack Obama for president and thinks Obamacare is great for Tennessee.”
“I’ll stand on my conservative record of lower taxes, reduced deficits, and repealing Obamacare. Mr. Daugherty supported Lincoln Davis last election cycle, so Eric Stewart would be a consistent choice for him — but not for true conservatives.”