Our governor has received the Snark Bites treatment again from Scott McNutt, who sees a trend toward self-censure developing among politicians inspired by the recent reprimand of Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders. Hearing of Anders’ planned self-remonstrance, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced he was forming a team to study the feasibility of a gubernatorial self-censure because his agenda to transform Tennessee into an autocracy suffered a series of humiliating setbacks recently.
Haslam’s latest gaffes that merit self-censure include:
– His administration was found to have violated the First Amendment rights of Occupy Nashville protesters in 2011, in a judge’s strongly worded ruling.
– His scheme to lay off more than 200 state workers was thwarted by a judge’s restraining order.
– His administration’s decision to award a $330 million contract to a company in which he once invested is raising red flags among legislators.
– His practice of paying a political consultant who also lobbies the administration has raised questions from Democrats on the arrangement’s propriety.
– He had to again admit that, “Yes, Jimmy is my brother,” candidly.
To address these embarrassments, the task force will make recommendations about the self-censure’s appropriateness as a way to distract from the governor’s increasingly ugly track record in conducting the people’s business.
“I will study the task force’s recommendations, and then ponder, ponder, ponder and ponder,” he said. “And then ponder some more, until maybe the public has forgotten whatever it was I was pondering for.”
Also, President Barack Obama is now said to be considering a self-censure for letting his administration’s controversies control its news narrative, rather than vice versa, while promising “never to let it happen again.”
Bashing the Tennessee Legislature and legislators has become quite popular in some national media circles, but the state’s homegrown writers are pretty good at it, too – as illustrated in two Sunday pieces from opposite ends of the state. Scott McNutt’s satire blast begins thusly: As time runs out on the Tennessee General Assembly’s 2013 session, some lawmakers are pushing for Tennessee to secede from the current century.
Although much legislation that would have thrust Tennessee backward in time failed this time around, lawmakers advocating temporal secession argue that the fact that they keep promoting these regressive, time-warping bills only proves how awful the present is and, by extension, how wonderful the past was,
And here’s one excerpt: Tennessee’s ostensible lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, R-Happy Days, informed titular Gov. Bill Haslam that he had decided not to dissuade the Legislature’s time-secession movement.
Ramsey said, “I’m going to let them loose. We might land in the 19th century. It might be the 20th. We might overshoot and hit the ‘Land That Time Forgot.’ The governor said he’d prefer the ‘Land of the Lost,’ but I can’t control them.”
Haslam said that, while he liked some of the anachronistic legislation lawmakers had proposed, he was still taking time to study the possibility of considering the potential feasibility — while weighing the advisability — of determining if it were within the realm of theoretical probability that he might perhaps decide before the end of the century whether any 21st-century secession bills were plausible contenders for his veto.
“Or not,” he added firmly.
Over in Memphis, Wendi C. Thomas compares the Tennessee General Assembly to the Mississippi legislature – and not favorably. The Mississippi legislature waited until February to formally ratify the 13th Amendment, which in 1865 abolished slavery.
A 148-year-old oversight is embarrassing.
What the Tennessee legislature has done to the poor and working class is reprehensible.
Thomas mentions in her piece a fine example of Tennessee-trashing on the national level, which appeared in Salon.com (HERE). It begins: If you’re worried about where America is heading, look no further than Tennessee. Its lush mountains and verdant rolling countryside belie a mean-spirited public policy that only makes sense if you believe deeply in the anti-collectivist, anti-altruist philosophy of Ayn Rand. It’s what you get when you combine hatred for government with disgust for poor people.
This session, the Tennessee General Assembly’s output of insane bills may become the jobs-producing legislation the lawmakers thus far have failed to produce, says satirist Scott McNutt. An excerpt: The state legislators’ batty bill creation has been so prodigious the past few sessions, other states are looking to Tennessee to supplement their own absurd, offensive lawmaking, and Gov. Bill Haslam sees a potential windfall in their interest.
Haslam’s staff learned that, for a bill Arizona Republican Rep. Judy Burges introduced in her state this year, she borrowed language from Knoxville Republican Rep. Bill Dunn’s successful 2012 “academic freedom” legislation. That so-called “thoroughly modern monkey” bill encourages teachers to teach that scientific theories, like evolution, global climate change, relativity or gravity, are controversial.
Before Tennessee passed its monkey bill, Louisiana was the only state in the union with such a regressive law. But Haslam thinks Tennessee’s leadership in the field of backward thinking can be profitable.
“We figured, ‘If our Legislature has us on the leading edge of a backward charge, why not demand a fee from those who want to follow our trailblazing?’ ” he said. “We’ll sell our ditzy bills to other states, instead of them copying them. Given our zany lawmakers, exporting crazy legislation may just become the engine that drives Tennessee’s economy.”
Indeed, despite a 15-bill-per-legislator limit, Tennessee lawmakers are churning out obnoxious bills, ranging from homophobic to paranoiac to xenophobic, at a rate that may make states formerly considered more backward than Tennessee green with envy — and state leaders would like to turn that into the folding kind of green.
“Look at the subjects of the bills we’re working on,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said. “Gun freedom, workers’ compensation curbs, federal law nullification, United Nations prohibitions, religious objections to performing counseling, freedom from motorcycle helmets — and that’s just off the top of my head. If you’re a legislator looking to lead your state back to the past, we’re already miles ahead of you. And for a price, you can follow our lead.”
Still, Tennessee is currently a net importer of silly bills, with groups like the National Rifle Association nd the American Legislative Exchange Council contributing language to, or providing blueprints for, loony legislation, such as this year’s NRA-approved guns-in-trunks bill and previous years’ anti-Islam and anti-union legislation, largely authored by ALEC. But other leading legislators agree that Tennessee can grow to be a top kooky law exporter if it nurtures its native talent for ridiculousness.
Scott McNutt turned his satire guns on Gov. Bill Haslam Sunday, this time with vouchers as a topic a day before his “state-of-the-state” speech. The piece starts like this: Gov. Bill Haslam confirmed that, in his annual State of the State address tomorrow, he will introduce his own proposal to create a program in Tennessee to transfer more public money to private hands, beginning with a school voucher system. He declined to elaborate about which private concerns he would make eligible for taxpayer dollars.
The Republican governor told reporters that the tentative title for his plan is the Money Officially Obligated to the Citizenry Hijacked as Earmarks for the Right Schemes (MOOCHERS) program.
“Our MOOCHERS bill is similar to what we did last year with the Business Recruitment Incentivization with Banknote Enticements (BRIBE) system, which allows my administration to fast-track bundles of cash to private businesses that might relocate to Tennessee,” he said.
Haslam last year appointed a task force to study school voucher proposals and other options for allowing public money to transfer to private enterprises. He had previously been undecided about whether he would take the lead on a MOOCHERS proposal or if he would let lawmakers control the professional mendicant measure.
…The governor said his plan will be paid for through the state’s tax dollars. He also ruled out funding vouchers and other MOOCHERS ventures by replicating tax-credit programs created in states like Florida, which offset corporate donations used for similar MOOCHERS programs.
“Sure, we could set up a program where big businesses get tax rebates for funding business welfare projects we favor, but that means they have to wait longer for reimbursements, and we’re looking for the simplest way of transferring taxpayer money directly to private organizations,” Haslam explained.
— Note: the wrong link was used on this post initially; it has been corrected.
Scott McNutt’s satire gun is pointed this week is pointed at the tourist industry… but it’s sort of a shotgun approach with several targets taking pellets. So far, Haslam’s only tourism accomplishments are securing regular, annual tourism funding, promising to have marketing proposals by year’s end and replacing the tourism slogan used for the last eight years (“The Stage Is Set for You”) that no one knew existed with a slogan used from 1987-1995 (“We’re Playing Your Song”) that no one knew existed, either.
That is why, say the anonymous sources, Haslam wants to promote Tennessee’s most recognizable attribute: our embarrassing, headline-grabbing extremist officials.
“After U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., alleged the impossibility of women getting pregnant from ‘legitimate rape,’ Missouri’s tourism rate probably shot up 30 percent just from journalists rushing there to leech onto that sound bite,” noted one anonymous committee member.
He said regular citizens seeking “alternative” vacations also would be lured by such objectionable remarks. “They think, ‘Wow, I thought our state’s politicians were the most ignorant, offensive jerks, but he’s worse. This, we got to see!’ ” he explained.
Another committee member believes Tennessee is well-positioned to tap that potential alternative market.
“Tennessee has the assets to profit from people yearning to personally affirm that their politicians aren’t the nation’s worst,” the second source said. “Tennessee is blessed with an abundance of jack-in-office jackanapes, like Knoxville’s state Sen. Stacey Campfield and U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn.”
This week’s Scott McNutt Sunday satire targets the state Democratic Party “security breach” that allowed Mark Clayton’s election as U.S. Senate nominee. Unlike the recent embarrassing incursion at Oak Ridge’s Y-12 nuclear facilities, in which three aging peaceniks broke through security and vandalized property and that led to a massive personnel shake-up and the removal of the manager there, state Democratic management has stated it will keep itself in place while working to oust the invader who exposed its shortcomings.
Regarding the incident, state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said, “I have the strongest possible confidence in Chairman Forrester. I also firmly think that nobody could have anticipated the breach of the party. And I’m confident Mr. Forrester will do everything humanly possible to plug the hole in our security and evict the infiltrator — that tea partier in donkeys’ skins — from our precincts. Let me say in conclusion: Heck of a job, Chippy.”
Puttbrese confirmed that his confidence in himself remained undiminished as well, although he declined to add, “Heck of a job, Brandy.”
…For his part, Clayton says he’s not trespassing, that the Democratic Party is his home and he has every right to stay.
“Because my conservative social beliefs dovetail with the Republican platform, people ask me why I didn’t run in their primary,” Clayton said. “Some of my views may be extremely Republican-like, but the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of inclusion, acceptance and tolerance. So why should a Republican be barred from running as a Democrat?”
In response, Democratic officials referred to the tolerance paradox: that tolerance mustn’t tolerate intolerance.
Scott McNutt uses a comment by Courtney Rogers — that she’s not going to be a one-issue legislator after beating House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart — as a starting point for a satire salvo targeting politicians, the National Rifle Association and allies.
A Snark Bites excerpt: Cox suggested that the solution was for the NRA to appoint its own officials to state government.
“It’s less expensive, and we’d no longer have to go to the regrettable lengths of making examples of more of you — as our dear friend John Harris, president of the Tennessee Firearms Association, put it — with high-profile political crucifixions, as we were forced to do with poor Debra,” Cox explained.
Cox added that gun-advocate groups “probably represent a larger constituency than your Democratic counterparts in your so-called two-party system.”
Harwell responded that the Legislature’s leaders would do their utmost to respect the rights of gun zealots and find ways to coexist peacefully with them within the legislative structure.
“We will always do what is best for the state of Tennessee’s government,” Harwell said. “We are always open to discussion, but our job is to upend, er, uphold the Constitution and do what’s best for the state government’s officials. And if allowing the NRA to appoint its own government members is what’s best for us, you can rest assured they’ll be appointed, lickety-split.”
Cox said that, whether it was accomplished through sponsored legislators or NRA-appointed government officials, the organization would be passing a bill in the next legislative session to guarantee that weapons could await their owners in their owners’ vehicles parked at work, regardless of employers’ wishes.
…”In the next session, we plan to bring bills for guns in kindergartens, guns in nursery schools, guns in maternity wards and for emergency guns being installed in public places next to fire alarms with instructions reading, ‘In case of emergency, pull trigger,’ ” he explained. “Such emergency kits would have prevented some of the recent tragedies where innocent firearms were wrongly used.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam reacted cautiously to the dialogue between the gun activists and Harwell, saying he didn’t yet know if he would now pay fealty to the NRA’s Cox.
“It’s a little early to comment on whether I’ll be genuflecting to perform the traditional kissing of the NRA’s ceremonial rifle butt,” Haslam said. “But does this guarantee that we’ll be talking about how I might appease the NRA next year? Yes, it does.”
Scott McNutt has a vision of what things will be like when Republicans achieve a “super majority” in the Legislature after this fall’s post-redistricting elections
that manages to skewer Democrats as well as the GOP.
An excerpt from the laugh-out-loud read: House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Mission Accomplished, said matters important to constituents would be quickly addressed, including bills expanding on legislation passed this session.
“We plan crucial bills on mandatory student suspender installation, gun suffrage, promoting alternative evolutionary theories such as the flat Earth theory and the world-on-a-big-turtle’s-back theory, means testing for voting — ‘those of means get to’ — and issuance of scarlet letters for women on birth control,” she explained.
Given the Democrats’ likely electoral annihilation, one bill Republican legislators intend to launch will relocate the rival party’s survivors to a wildlife refuge.
“Some memorial to the state’s two-party system is necessary, so people can still get a taste of the bad old days,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Arc de Triomphe, said.
The plans include carving out a replica Capitol on one of Tennessee’s beautifully strip-mined scenic vistas. There, the remaining Democratic officials will oversee a lifelike but nonfunctional government, so sightseers can observe how government with liberal policies once operated.
The superfluous functionaries would live on food stamps and unemployment benefits — a grim homage to the perils of big government.
“Voters will see free-range liberals in their natural habitat, wantonly taxing and spending other people’s money, except that it’s Monopoly money. We hold the true monopoly,” said Harwell.
Scott McNutt turns to philosophical musing in his Sunday satire column. It starts like this: In the 11th century, St. Anselm proposed the ontological argument for the existence of god: God is that which nothing greater can be conceived.
In the 21st century, the Political Philosophers Guild has postulated the ontological argument for the nonexistence of Tennessee politicians: Government in Tennessee is the joke of which nothing sillier can be conceived, and therefore Tennessee politicians can’t be for real.
The silliness of Tennessee’s government makes clear that its politicians are intended for amusement purposes only, the PPG argues.
PPG member Sophie Stree says a number of actions by Tennessee’s government prove its lack of reality.
“Gov. (Bill) Haslam will take a position on an inane subject like encouraging Peyton Manning to play for the Tennessee Titans, but won’t take a position on something important, like mountaintop removal; how silly is that?” she said. “Likewise, the state Legislature spends its time issuing bills trying to provide cover for teaching nonscientific theories in school science classes with a new, thoroughly modern ‘monkey bill’ and railing against specious one-world-government plots. Now, that’s entertainment, not politics.”