Tag Archives: Tennessee

America’s Trigger Happy Traumas

14 Jan

880-from-my-cold-dead-handsToday marks the one month anniversary of  the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, America seems poised to look at gun violence with fresh eyes. Vice President Biden is preparing to release a set of proposals from a panel he has led to discuss the issue this week. Gabby Giffords has founded a new organization to take a fair and balanced look at what weapons are reasonable and how they should be regulated. Media attention and statements from members of Congress seem focused on solutions rather than distracted by the insane posturing of the NRA. Perhaps, this time there is hope.

Or maybe not. The mere whisper of gun reform has the pry-it-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands crowd gnashing their teeth and rushing to the stores. Gun sales began to spike when President Obama was re-elected. Racists, home-grown terrorists, and conspiracy mongers — not at all a mutually exclusive list — took that as enough of a sign that their ability to fire off insane amounts of ammo in minutes might be curtailed. Sadly the deaths of 20 school children caused no reflection, just more fear.

Gun stores across the country have shut down online vending due to low inventory. Prices on high-capactiy magazines and semi-automatic rifles have more than tripled. Background checks for weapons purchases are up nearly 60% over a year ago. The arms race (predominantly white folk) is on, and the losers will be more innocent victims. Slate magazine is tracking gun deaths since Sandy Hook. Even with the necessarily incomplete information, over 800 people have been killed by guns — nearly 30 a day. Most of those deaths were caused by legally purchased guns. And yet there are those who maintain we have no problem and that military-style weapons belong in our homes and schools.

Perhaps the poster child for this mania is James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a gun advocacy and training company in Tennessee. In a viral video, Yeager fretted about the government taking away his weapons, saying

I’m not going to let anyone take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.

Yeah right, Yeager really needs to have a gun! Still think there is not a problem here? When asked to clarify his statements in an interview, Yeager maintained that he would open fire on anyone who entered his home if he thought they wanted his guns. Fortunately, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security revoked his handgun carry permit, citing “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public.” Unfortunately, that just gives the NRA another martyr to the cause as paranoia and gun mania sweep the land.

Bigot of the Week: January 11, Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black of Tennessee

11 Jan
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

An elephant may never forget but it appears that many Republican members of Congress never learn. Two members of the House of Representatives, both women from Tennessee, have decided to renew the war on women and attack Planned Parenthood on the first day of the new Congress–always sad to see internalized misogyny. Ignoring the election’s clear message in support of policies that promote women’s health and the fact that the vast majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood for its breadth of services, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Diane Black have both introduced bills to block use of government funds for organizations that provide abortions as even a small part of their operations.

Rep. Blackburn is the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the issue. She lifted a failed bill from the last Congress written by former Rep. Mike Pence (R – IN). (He went on to be elected Governor of Indiana, the home of Richard Mourdock. Not a woman-friendly state…) The bill — clearly targeting Planned Parenthood — would restrict the use of Title X money. Says Blackburn,

As a woman, I believe America deserves better than abortion.

Rep. Black purloined the same Pence-penned poison pill and put it forth herself. Even being from the same state and the same party, these two couldn’t communicate around a single bill, apparently. In the name of scoring Tea points, they both ignore the wide range of services most health care providers offer. They ignore the fact that without Planned Parenthood millions of women would have little or no access to critical health services and that the impact would be particularly hard on minorities, the poor, and rural women — all populations present in large numbers in Tennessee. How pathetic to see such self-loathing women pursue such a hateful agenda.

Dishonorable mention this week comes courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey, who pointed me to some additional misogyny. Odious evangelist Pat Robertson managed to outdo himself in a broadcast this week. Responding to a question from a youth who was concerned that his father was spending too much time online, Robertson laid the blame firmly on the mother.

It may be your mom isn’t as sweet as you think she is. She may be kind of hard-nosed […] It’s easy to blame the mother! You always have to keep that spark of love alive. It just isn’t something to just lie there. ‘Well, I’m married to him so he’s got to take me slatternly looking.’ You’ve got to fix yourself up, look pretty.

Just when you thought he couldn’t sink any lower, Robertson manages to astound again; this man is one big ball of crazy and hate.

Bigot of the Week Award: October 12, Rep. Scott DesJarlais

12 Oct

Bigot of the Week

Even in the great gathering of hypocrites that lurk in the BWA, this week’s winner is a titan. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R – TN) has managed to abuse his power on every level while demonstrating an amazing “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. DesJarlais is a licensed physician and a “family values” tea partier; he’s dedicated to oppressing gays and women and radically opposed to freedom of choice. He certainly plays the prefect stereotypical white hetero privileged male Republican. How does he live up to those “principles”?

It turns out that he practices family values by cheating on his wife (repeatedly). That includes one mistress who was one of his patients! So much for medical ethics… When this woman became pregnant during one of their dalliances (perhaps they got over-excited reading Ayn Rand?), how did DesJarlais respond? According to excerpts from phone conversations provided to the Huffington Post, he puts his convenience above his principles.

  1. If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let’s do it.
  2. We’ve got to do something soon. And you’ve even got to admit that because the clock is ticking right?
  3. You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one!
  4. Well, I didn’t want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours.

My he is charm free! What a despicable creature. It looks like he will face a disciplinary hearing regarding his medical license. Sadly, his bright red district will likely reward his misdeeds with re-election.

Thanks go to my friend Jennifer Carey for this week’s dishonorable mention. David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, sent a surprising email to his employees Monday. It said that if President Barack Obama wins re-election and raises Siegel’s taxes, he will have to lay off workers and downsize his company — or even shut it down. Siegel used similar intimidation tactics in 2008. When confronted this week, he responded:

I wanted to inform my employees of what their future would hold if they make the wrong decision. I wasn’t threatening any of the employees.

No, just promising that their jobs were at stake while violating federal laws regarding voter intimidation. Abuse of power seems to be the theme of the week.

Hero of the Week Award: August 19, Harry Burn

19 Aug

Hero of the Week

August 18, 2011 marks the 91st anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote.  Tennessee’s Rep. Harry Burn was the deciding vote to help grant full Suffrage.  While TSM celebrates Burn, I would be remiss not to acknowledge Burn’s mother and all of the women who dedicated their lives to the Suffrage Movement.

Suffragists from all over the country knew it was coming down to the vote in Tennessee.  Carrie Chapman Catt and others went to Nashville to push for ratification.  Apparently, men wearing yellow roses in their lapels were for suffrage and the men wearing red roses were anti-suffrage.  It was clear from the number of red roses that it would be a close deciding margin.

Burn wore his red rose into the Capitol in Nashville. Upon receiving a telegram from his mother, Febb Ensminger Burn, urging him to “vote the right way” and support suffrage, Burn offered his “yea” instead of “nay,” thus giving women in the United States the right to vote. Burn immediately encountered a hostile mob of misogynistic men when he changed his vote. Burn escaped the angry men by climbing out of the third floor window and hiding in the attic of the state Capitol until the mob went home.

On a side note, Michele Bachmann and the other insane Teahaddists might do well to remember that the Constitution is a living document and evolves to enfranchise the citizens of the United States.  History lesson anyone?  I’m rather saddened by the pool of Republican candidates for President that seem to have no sense of history and who are currently working so hard to disenfranchise the LGBT community.  Regardless of how they feel about the LGBT community, they do not have the right to deny us our civil rights. TSM offers a sincere “Thank You” to the Harry Burnses of the 21st Century who stand up for rights for all citizens despite pressure from their peers.

Hero of the Week Award: June 9

10 Jun

Hero of the Week

When my husband shared this video that Sean Chapin made about the proposed law that would make it illegal to use the word gay in that state, I could not hold back my tears.  Sean’s song “The Don’t Say (Gay) Song”, is about the homophobic, idiotic law that would make it illegal to even talk about one’s parents.  Yes, the state of Tennessee really is that backwards!  I guess the Scopes trial was not embarrassing enough.  Sean Chapin also made videos for marriage equality, Prop 8, and DADT.  Chapin’s video about the currently proposed legislation in Tennessee earns him this week’s HWA.  I strongly encourage you to watch his video.

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