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Live Together, Die Alone

November 19, 2014 - Author: newscoma

live_together_die_alone__lost_wallpaper__by_fiqs13-d6g7tgz

I was reading recently about sometimes people try too hard. I mean, our entire lives we’ve been told not to put the square peg in the round hole because it just won’t work. Since the election, I’ve heard a lot of people say we need to work harder. I know a lot of people worked hard this election, so I have some thoughts on that statement.

I have another idea, why don’t we figure out what we are going to do in two years now instead of waiting 10 days before the filing deadline. Don’t get me wrong, there were people out there doing just that but we lost in areas 20 years ago we would have won every box. Let’s talk communication strategy in rural and urban areas now instead of seeing what sticks. There are candidates for the TNDP chair’s race that realize that rebuilding the TNDP is going to take a lot of different elements to head into the right direction. The TNGOP has Red To The Roots, why can’t we build something that is Blue To The Bone. (Or whatever. You can call it Fred or Dennis if you want to as long as it is effective.)

I realize I’m preaching to the choir. I know this. I also know that there are some fantastic people out in this state who want to help. There may be people that don’t know that with the Republican Supermajority massive power right now, we are already seeing them eat their own. (Looking at you Womick and Harwell.)

This can be an exciting time. It can without a doubt because the dry-erase board is empty and there are a lot of good ideas that can be discussed in the coming weeks.

I like what my dear friend Steve Ross is doing right now, just a little more than two weeks after the polls closed. In full disclosure, Ross and I have been having these discussions for years to the point that we have preached them until our throats were raw, bloody remnants because in some ways, we have been yelling in a tunnel made of jello. He has a skill set and he’s using it to go in depth over particular issues that are prominent in our state right now. (PLEASE INTERVIEW JOHN JAY HOOKER BECAUSE YOU WON’T REGRET IT.)

Those of us who are passionate about politics know there is more to public service than holding elected office. What is your skill set and what do you want to do maybe a question to ask yourself.

Let’s ask ourselves the hard questions of what we are willing to do even if it’s hard, and that includes me, and then see what we can do for the common good to rebuild the party in this entire state from Memphis to the North Carolina line.

Yeah, it was a Lost reference in the photo. 

 

 

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An Ode To Mabel

November 14, 2014 - Author: newscoma

mable

She was a good friend. She was.

And I cried when she died. It was time. She was 17 years old. The stroke is what got her. My father called me and asked me what I wanted to do.

I knew. You always know. She was ready, but I’ll tell you, I wasn’t. My dad was a hero. A big damn hero, we need more of those big damn heroes.

I cried so hard that my friend Jeannie asked me if I was okay on a day that I couldn’t get my eyes to quit leaking. I couldn’t stop. I was full. I needed her and I felt I left her. Damn, having to move. Just damn. She was so great. She was the best.

I wasn’t. I just was not okay. Thank you Jeannie.

When I left Hoots, every time I would go home when I had to leave her I just lost it. I wasn’t allowed to have a dog in my new apartment and so I just bawled. I would cry from Dresden until Huntington and I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. She was precious and lovely and we loved each other. I’m not sure that any creature has loved me so wonderfully.

I sat alone in Nashville and she was not with me. She was with Steph for several months until Steph came up later. Timi took care of her while I was in Nashville. I know she learned to love her too. She was just about love. She loved everyone.

Mabel was a damn good friend. She was. She was also my daughter. By the time I got settled in Nashville, it would have killed her to move her here and we all knew it. She was free-range. I couldn’t stand the thought about putting her on a lead. And she became my sis’ friend and my nieces’ joy. I couldn’t do that to her.

She was a love. She was. Dammit, I loved that dog.

She died three and a half weeks ago. I was working on a campaign. My candidate called and asked if I was okay. I wasn’t. I said I was. I appreciated his kindness.

Mabel was our friend. She got more votes than I would have if I ran for office. She was amazing and kind and good.

I’m finally getting to grieve.

She got to meet Harper. They were friends. That makes me happy.

Goodbye, Mabel. Damn I loved you. Know that.

She was our friend.

mabel-on-the-shelf

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Reserved Seating In Tennessee Politics

November 13, 2014 - Author: newscoma

reserved theater seats

Well, the people have spoken and if you think it was hard to get a seat at the table before last week’s election, it’s now pretty damn impossible.

Our view will be from the back row because right now our government only takes reservations. Just think, the voters have spoken that women’s rights (who needs ‘em except, you know, women), student debt is unimportant and the only thing that is truly worthy of our elected public officials is that money rules the roost. My snark is high today, campers.

Reserved seating if you can afford it.

In a couple of months, we will have a new TNDP chair and administration. There are some very qualified people running for the post and I’m going to throw my two cents in as this is my blog and I can do that. ‘Murrica and whatnot …

  • The TNGOP had a plan with their Red to the Roots program in engaging rural outreach. It was staffed and the state party and its leaders were committed to it. The bench was being built and name visibility as well as structured fundraising was set into motion.
  • Not everyone is getting political news across the state. It’s important to remember that there are gaps of coverage happening across the 440 miles which Tennessee covers. I am now a Nashvillian, but I do understand the thing I’ve been preaching for the nine years I’ve been doing this blog and that is there are voters outside of urban areas. If folks aren’t getting the news, then having dedicated field offices and operations is imperative. The GOP has been very successful in ruling through fear, which reminds me: Go read Bruce right now.
  • Grassroots activism is important. Grasstop outreach is also crucial. Bring people together on a regular basis because networking is key. And I believe it is also important for people to know everyone’s skill sets and strengths.
  • Raise money and use it during the off-season to grow and educate the base. No hoarding of funds for a rainy day because we are in a monsoon right now.
  • My mother used to say to me that life was a journey. The most important lesson was to learn what to do, but it was much more valuable to learn what not to do. I’ll just leave that right there and you can make of it what you will.
  • As Christian Grantham so eloquently stated this morning on Twitter, elected officials are so busy fundraising they are losing touch with their constituents. Yet I would add, we can make those connections ourselves. It’s okay to step up to the plate.
  • Gov. Ned McWherter used to say “Stay on offense. If you are constantly playing defense, the team will never get the ball into the end zone.” Good advice if you ask me.

I guess I will end, as I haven’t blogged in awhile and need to get my sea legs back, but it’s crucial to be mindful that the TNGOP doesn’t want you to have a seat at the table. They like reserved seating just fine because they are in control. It’s time to kick the legs out from under their seats and the only way we can do that is taking back the message.

I mean, when was the last time you heard someone mention Ebola since November 4th.

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Rage Virus

June 4, 2014 - Author: newscoma

Why yes I click baited, dear remainder of readers I have with the header. I have no apologies except I do need a shower now.

Here’s what’s on my mind …

The problem is that I’m not sure what is real and what is not in news right now. I mean, there are journalists and columnists I trust that what they are reporting is accurate.  I do believe that is true. I’m talking about actually finding news that isn’t rage-based or filled with peanut butter and jelly globs of outrage on four-day old slices of white bread. What bothers me is there is so much noise with political talking heads that I’ve even taken a bit of sabbatical from Twitter because complicated issues, for example Eric Snowden or Bowe Bergdahl, have so much political static surrounding them that I feel like I need more time to process what is real and what is not.

Much of the time in trying to determine what is going on, I want to be cautious not to be outraged for the sake of being outraged. It’s difficult when we, as a society, want our news quick so we can pick it up in the drive-through line (NO WAITING) instead of taking a few moments to let the information be investigated.

I may be reading too much to try to educate myself.  Sometimes you can do that where the lines become blurred. So much is out there, but what is accurate and what is bullshit? Yet what bothers me goes deeper than those two men I mentioned above. What concerns me is I don’t trust much of any news anymore due to the partisan blasts from both sides of the aisle. In Tennessee, for another example, why are only a couple of media outlets talking about Gov. Bill Haslam’s affiliation with Jones Lang Lasalle? I find that important but I’m a political geek and you may not be which is fair. I’ve seen a lot of information about Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s and his mission of trying to upend the supreme court judicial system of retention, but many times those stories are behind paywalls. It’s hard to find them if a person isn’t looking. If the courts go partisan, that’s a bad thing, campers.

We have real problems in this country. We do have income inequality, housing discrimination, different standards for men and women, VA hospitals making men and women who fought for our country wait for healthcare and the list goes on.

But let’s all be addicted to the outrage, shall we? Or let’s not, because it makes my head hurt. That’s what makes money because that’s how mainstream news makes the dough-re-mi. If the public has a rage virus, to quote a friend of mine, we all become zombies.

Sounds about right.

 

 

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Annoying Autobiographical Pause – Three Months Out

April 29, 2014 - Author: newscoma

enjoy-every-sandwich_design

I took a break. I didn’t have anything to say and was trying to figure out what to do here at Casa Coma. These things happen, sometimes you just have to figure things out. I’ve just felt that maybe I had said everything I need to say. I put things that amuse me on Twitter and FB now, so that era is over of “blogging” the silly. And when it comes to politics, when I have something to say I am putting it up over on Speak to Power.

The last year has been one that has been challenging. You get through what you have to get through when it comes right down to it. The last five months, I would say I’ve been on a learning curve. I turn 50 next year. Other than a few aches and pains I didn’t expect but had heard about from the old-timers, I still feel basically the same way that I did when I was 30. I’ve always felt like I worked on the second-unit in a film shoot, but that I always miss the big scenes in first-unit. That hasn’t changed in 30 years.

So there have been some things happening for you guys who are still hanging around that I thought I’d update you on.

  • I cracked my tailbone falling over a cat two weeks ago. If you guys want to know a burning discomfort, busting your tailbone (aka ass) is one of them. It’s not like getting burned with kerosene, but it ain’t fun.
  • We are apartment hunting again, which is cool. We’ve had some lovely co-living situations in the past year, but we are looking for a 1 BR (If you have a lead, let us know) that takes pets because:
  • We have adopted a corgi mix named General Harper Lewellyn. She ran away the first night but she’s back with us and seems to be digging us. Poor girl lived in three houses in one week and was just overwhelmed but the entire community helped us find her. We really like her and her personality is starting to show, and she’s been playing with Zeus non-stop. She is going to meet Mabel on the 16th of this month. She is also a cuddler, a Corgi plus!
  • I’ve been spending more time in Hoots. The niece, formally known as Asa Corn on this blog, is graduating from high school later this month and has been accepted to Hoots University. I am so proud of her.
  • I was not here in Nashville during the flood, but I’m not going to lie, I watched the creek behind the house yesterday very warily. Because I’ve got two dogs and a cat in the house, I contacted some hotels that take pets just in case things got wiggy. Campers, I’m not scared of weather but I’m also not stupid. No one expected the flood back then either and I’m used to Hoots flooding, which usually hits farmland.
  • As you know, I’ve been a big fan of Craig Ferguson for years. He was a pop culture person that got me through a tough year when I was having to make tough decision (I’d watch YouTube for every clip he’s basically done and would zone out to the wonderful insanity) and it occurred to me that he is one of those people that has made it easier for middle-aged folks like me to be okay with being middle-aged, silly and that is okay to have fun. He isn’t going away, I’m sure of it.

Still looking for some p/t gigs, so if you know someone who needs a Trace, you can find me at 867-5309 or at my email address.

And I offer you a helpful tip, don’t break your ass bone. It hurts like a mutha.

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Running For Office In Tennessee

January 21, 2014 - Author: newscoma

Petitions are being pulled and if they haven’t been, then consideration is being given on whether the time is right to commit to running a campaign this election year. Some folks come right out of the gate while others wait until the last minute before deadline. Both methods are fine. Questions are being asked. Teams are forming behind candidates. Polls, if they are affordable which is not always the case in smaller house and senate races, are being bought and studied.

The big thing about deciding to run is pretty simple. Are you ready and do you have a plan?

John Jay Hooker said on the occasion of his 8oth birthday when he was honored on the floor of the Senate that one thing to know about him is he wasn’t afraid to lose. And he didn’t win the two times he ran for governor for a variety of reason but he also added something quite valuable for anyone running for office: you don’t always have to win to make a contribution. (The video is here and his statement starts about the 1:45 mark.)

I think that is important. It used to be that people would wait their turn to run for office. Those days are over as we live in a new world order when it comes to modern politics. There are no “annointed ones” anymore waiting their time to serve.

You are going to need money and call time is crucial in the early days of getting those financial commitments. Can you do that on your own or do you need help? It’s something anyone running for office needs to think about. (A guide/series that is quite helpful for anyone thinking about throwing their name into the mix was written last year by Joe Lance of Chattanooga. Go grab a cup of java and read every word he has written. It’s thought-compelling stuff.)

If you aren’t ready to run for elected office, and some people aren’t because God knows a person has to be in it for the long haul, there are other things that can be done. Run for executive committee for the Party because the more people that run gives interest to a race that isn’t going to cost you very much and that will teach you the ins and outs of running a campaign. (Just a little food for thought.)

Just a couple of things:

1. You can’t do it all by yourself. You are going to need support staff. When you are doing call time remember, your campaign is only as good as its weakest link. Make sure each one of your staff members is ready and you ARE going to need staff. Can you afford a couple of folks that will make your transition from call time to candidate seamless and that will take care of you because you are going to need that. It’s important. Once again you can’t do it all by yourself and trust is very important as it is not their name on the ballot, it’s yours. You might also want to ask yourself, is your campaign team in it for the paycheck or do they believe in you. The answer, quite frankly, is usually both because folks have to eat but if they believe in your message they will work harder for you during the election year.

2. Give a clear and concise example to voters on why you are the best person to serve in that district and for pete’s sake don’t talk at people, talk to them and listen. Your message matrix needs to be on topic. And keep your stump speeches short. One big problem that happens during campaign/speech season is that people want to be able to have a sense of who you are and what you can do. They don’t want a monologue that rivals Othello’s and leaves them without a clear message.

3. Talk to people that have worked campaigns before, and even if you can’t hire them full-time because money is everything these days, it’s worth your time to get honest and clear feedback from a professional who knows the ropes. It’s even worth a limited, hourly consulting fee if you have it to talk to someone who has had some skin in the game.

4. Don’t be a robot in your social media if you are doing it yourself. Be a person that folks want to know. A good example is Gloria Johnson, Andy Berke or even Cory Booker on a national scale for that matter. And be sure to interact with your followers. Keep your personal message flowing that you control or I can guarantee that someone else will hijack what your matrix is. You don’t want that.

5. National issues will come up but don’t go down that rabbit hole. Plants closing in your area, talk about that. Is your hospital closing due to the lack of Medicaid expansion? Talk about that. Unemployment going through the roof in your district? Talk about that! Talking about Chris Christie when you only have about 15 minutes will eat up your time and accomplish nothing except helping/hurting a governor who is a day and a half drive from Tennessee.

Those are just a few things on my mind. Right now is the time candidates (especially the new ones I’m thinking about) begin the journey to elected office. Running the race is just as important as getting to the finish line. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Good luck!

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Maybe It’s Time To Pick A Fight

January 9, 2014 - Author: newscoma

The story that so many folks are talking about right now are frozen geese rescued at Centennial Park, Chris Christie writing his own comedy skit aka today’s presser and a look at the Tennessee General Assembly’s time machine on what our robot overlords are going to be throwing at us this session.

So you might have missed Ed Arnold’s story this morning in the Memphis Business Journal  which I think needs to be discussed.

According to Stateline, Tennessee will be among the slowest when it comes to job creation this year. Stateline is predicting that the state will be 44th in overall job creation with a growth rate of 1.23 percent in jobs, adding only about 34,000 new jobs in 2014.

The pill is even harder to swallow when compared with the state’s neighbors in the south, which are predicted to have some of the best job creation numbers in the nation.

Mississippi placed 20th on Stateline’s list while Arkansas placed 24th and Kentucky 22nd.

Hey kids, Tennessee stands at a stellar (sad trombone) #44!

Now let’s head back to Andrea Zelinski’s story in today’s edition of the Nashville Scene.

With the next election a short 10 months away, state lawmakers are hoping to spend as little time as possible at Capitol Hill this spring so they can kick off the campaign season.

The Republican-led legislature plans to descend on Nashville Tuesday, Jan. 14, to draft new state policies and spending plans until what many expect to be mid-April — if not sooner.

She has a comprehensive list of what our GOP legislators are scheming for this year and nowhere on the list is there any discussion of jobs. Nada! Nothing! It is an election year so basically elected folks want to get out early so they can fund-raise because you can’t do that during session.

Discussing unemployment and poverty isn’t sexy, campers. It’s not but it is important to remember that these, as well as other issues such as infrastructure, school funding, jobs etc. is the reason why we elect people. Instead we are going to be listening to political babble about guns in trunks for what feels like the 20th year.

And if you are running for office in a statewide capacity, and right now it looks like Haslam and Co. are going not going to have much competition, we need to talk about all the rural, community hospitals that are going to close. Write it down, it’s going to happen.

I’ll let Frank Cagle from Metropulse explain:

So the conservative Republicans in the Legislature can posture and tell like-minded constituents that they oppose Obamacare. But they don’t have to pay a price. They don’t have to vote to refuse a billion dollars in health care this year for the working poor. They don’t have to explain to the voters back home that they voted to close the community hospital. They are getting a free ride.

It is an election year. If legislators had to vote to kill their local hospital, or deny care to people who work at low-wage jobs, you might be surprised at the number of them who will hold their nose and vote for the Medicaid expansion.

But we won’t know that because the governor won’t make them vote on it.

A leader might be able to galvanize his party members to support him on a crucial vote, if Haslam were that kind of leader. A Ned McWherter or a Phil Bredesen. You won’t find anybody in the current Legislature who is afraid of voting against the governor. They do it with impunity. They know that he is not constitutionally capable of punishing them for defying his wishes.

But sometimes a leader needs to do the right thing even with only a long shot at success. He needs to do what’s right and force the members of his party to do the right thing or suffer the consequences.

This is happening.

I can’t tell you to vote this year but I wish you would. As Bruce VanWyngarden wrote today it’s still harder than hell to get a photo ID although that issue has also been put on the backburner because the state GOP won that one.  I probably should rephrase that if you can vote, I wish you would contemplate it.

The forecast for this session looks bleak for another year in a row. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to pick a fight for regular Tennesseans who stand to lose more than they will gain this session. Chris Christie’s saga this week which will own the headlines for a bit of time or Phil Robertson dominating the airwaves during the holidays are interesting, but those folks don’t have anything to do with what is happening in Tennessee’s backyard.

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Mabel For Governor, Again?

January 2, 2014 - Author: newscoma

Well the news is in and to the surprise of two elderly raccoons with rabies living in Spring Hill, Sara Kyle is not going to challenge Gov. Bill Haslam.

Ahh, the joys of seeking a position as a public servant in the modern age has once again reared itself. I don’t blame Kyle, I know what it is like to have to take care of a parent with cancer. It’s not easy and running for statewide office is a challenge even in the best of circumstances.

So I guess it’s up to Mabel. Again.

ready-willing-and-mabel

No, I haven’t updated her campaign poster from 2010 as I haven’t spoken to her recently. And, of course, as she is roughly 16 years old in dog years so let’s just say she isn’t as spry as she once was. On a more serious note, when we have a governor who is being scrutinized for some very serious ethics issues, it would be nice to have a candidate that can take on the corporation politics in this state right now aka Haslam.

Granted, it’s going to take a ton of money to run a viable campaign for governor in this state. And messaging (and more importantly the distribution of said message when it comes to real Tennesseans) across this state is abysmal.

With that said, if there is one thing Mabel knows is that it takes each and every part of the state to make sure there is a victory. She has spoken to Steve Ross about this. (Well, her spokesperson has on occasion.)

Rural Communities – If there’s one thing that guaranteed the GOP’s victory in 2010, it was the support of rural communities. Which is why its puzzling that rural communities are getting screwed over so hard under GOP rule. I mean, screwing over Nashville and Memphis (and soon Chattanooga and Knoxville), that’s a no-brainer. But when most of your elected officials owe their position to rural folks, screwing them over as well is…well…ballsy to say the least. But that’s what’s happened. Unemployment is high, hospitals are closing their doors, and the only opportunity right now is the opportunity to move or continue to suffer.

The worst part is, there are no signs folks in rural TN see the connection. They’re still buying in to it being Washington’s fault.

Why is this happening? Simple, and I wrote about some of the problems over my eight years of blogging and my time in the newspaper business as well as talking about it a bit in a post from this morning. It’s about messaging. And it’s about a commitment to messaging to everybody all across the state.

Who is going to do it? A campaign gets the message out. And being afraid of Haslam money is valid, but we need a brave soul who isn’t afraid to throw some coconuts at what is going on in Nashville.

Mabel is just waiting to see. She might try to talk Zeus into it as he is in his glory years. He could walk across the state in a red flannel shirt, no problem.

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

 

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Gov. Bill Haslam Needs To Be Accountable

- Author: newscoma

Let us go and say AMEN BROTHER to Steven Hale on this:

1. We hope that the Media will learn not to chase every red (headed) herring:

Don’t get us wrong. Here at Pith, we’re well-aware that we have Stacey Campfield to thank for thousands of clicks, retweets, and shares. But in 2014 we hope that we, and the rest of our friends in the news racket, realize that not every thought or word that comes out of the wayward state senator from Knoxville is worthy of all the ink so often spilled in his name. Mark it down. Campfield will say and/or propose some nutty things this year. Some of them have to be covered, because he intends to make them law. Some of them, though, are shiny objects, distracting us from God only knows what else the legislature is pushing through at the same time.

Of course, Hale is our spirit animal/human today.

So speaking of what is going on in the legislature in plain sight, feast your eyes on the quality work that Newschannel 5 in Nashville has been working on in regards to some questionable activity in the governor’s office.

The sad thing about living a state that is 440 miles long tip-to-tip is that news such as what is happening to Tennessee tax dollars sometimes gets put under the carpet. There are large gaps of prime real estate that aren’t getting what is happening on the Hill here in Nashville. As someone who was a rural Tennessee liberal for many years before moving to mid-state, when I go home to Hoots, it disturbs me that there is a lot of news not making it over the Tennessee river. I hear Fox News talking points but that is about it. Most of the “local” television news comes from Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. I’m not talking Memphis or Jackson, I’m talking smaller communities that aren’t getting Tennessee political news and are just drinking from the fountain that cable news has created. You aren’t going to be hearing about Jones Lang Lasalle, Tom Ingram or Bill Haslam on national news outlets unfortunately.

It is still a compelling investigation that needs to go viral. We don’t know Haslam’s personal interests in companies that are getting contracts without much of a bidding process and he has been adamant about not releasing his personal finances.

We have a few state democrats such as Sen. Lowe Finney, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep Craig Fitzhugh and Rep. Sherry Jones (you can hear them in the video available at the link above at Newschannel 5 as well as some skeptical members of the GOP) staying on top of these contracts but this is one time to remember that this aren’t partisan issues. We have a handful of media and political bloggers watching the chain of events, but as long as Haslam keeps getting a pass in the media that reaches all Tennesseans on all these issues that he has been either inactive on or that have been haggled over behind the eyes of the public, our state is going to keep floating aimlessly with legislation that will take years to fix.

This is about state money and I don’t know about you guys but $330 million isn’t anything to sneeze at. That is money we can use elsewhere instead of lining the pockets of consultants and lobbyists.

It’s just a matter of common sense.

 

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Unnecessary Damage

December 30, 2013 - Author: newscoma

 

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery.”  ~Aldous Huxley

Steve Ross is doing a series on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when it comes to politics. It’s a good, comprehensive list worthy of your attention.

I think the only thing I can add to his analysis is that this year has buried deeper seeds of regular folks becoming more and more suspicious of government, which is a shame. Let’s not forget, citizens are the boss although nothing is going to happen if we put more attention on pop culture celebrities instead of government. Pundits aren’t journalists, they are side-show barkers selling snake-oil and are paid for by the highest paycheck.

Government should make sure our bridges aren’t going to fall into rivers, that roads can get us to school and work and that we have a workforce ready for a changing and ever evolving market. Instead we have seen politics at its worst where public service has been dismissed and replaced with electroshock therapy in not only our media, but in our daily lives. Why do we need to find a villain?

Victims are put into a category of not being worthy although many times things are not their fault but they are blamed anyway. It has become a game of who can play offense and who is good at blocking.  We have forgotten our lessons with it comes to social studies (how is that for a throwback term) and replaced it with outrage without a concrete floor. We don’t need to “Plow Congress” as Rep. Stephen Fincher campaigned on.

We need to make sure that government is effective.

Tom Humphrey basically called this the year that nothing happened and I can’t help but agree it could have been worse due to some of the very intrusive legislation presented this year.

The year 2013, thus, was a follow-up, step-along-the-way year of passage in Tennessee politics from the monumental transition from Democratic rule to Republican rule.
In past years, that actually meant that some things were accomplished, as in instant approval of GOP agenda matters such as “tort reform” and the like.

The “new normal,” to echo phrase used by Haslam in his first inaugural address, is a stalemate in the squabble between the establishment Republicans and their more populist-oriented former allies — tea party people, if you will.

Nothing happened this year. There’s always next year, but the suspicion is that a pattern has been set. And considering some of the things that could have been done, maybe nothing is not so bad.

I go back to we need effective government without a lot of hand-wringing over things that really do not help day-to-day lives of Tennesseans. I can’t help but return to something that has troubled me in the past couple of years watching Tennessee politics and it is simple: we have lost our empathy.

Jack Neely writes:

Most of our powerful do some sort of generous good. There’s a pervasive feeling, especially among established interests, that when people are basically good, if they’re important to the community, support good things, we should let them cause a little harm now and then. They giveth and they can taketh away. It’s their right.

A lot of folks understand that, as if it were the simplest sort of math. These people are so good that when they do something bad, our job is to take it like a man. Not all philanthropists or corporate executives or institutional administrators are expert in everything, like urban design, architecture, American history, or transportation. But our job is to respect them as if they are.

They don’t need to explain, or have any tin-pot reporters cross-examining them or their motives or solutions.

Anybody that complains about their unnecessary damage, it’s assumed, must be ungrateful, or out to get somebody.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded by a friend sometimes we miss that people are drowning because it is so much more palatable to think they are just waving. And when they tell you they are drowning, why are they so easily dismissed? There is no, as Neely writes, reason to think that the Gotcha Monster has come yet he is right, that is today’s society’s reaction to too much these days.

Politics is a funny thing. It always has been. We are so busy complaining though we forget we are witnesses to seeing bad things happening to good people.

And it is happening in plain sight.

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Annoying Autobiographical Pause: Closing Down The Holidays

December 28, 2013 - Author: newscoma

There are things you might know about me. There are things that you probably don’t. That’s good. We can have a beer or a cuppa and be friendly. You don’t need to know all the details. If I share things with you, in my mind it is a gift. I have thought about that a lot lately.

If we live in a Buzzfeed world, here is a dumb list but it’s my list so there:

1. I survived Christmas. I was a cheerful chipmunk but next year I’m just renting a cabin where everyone can just chill together. I missed that this year. I spent too much time alone this year.

2. I tried to buy a bra today. This, of course, means I hate America because American fashion hates me. It’s okay! No really, asshats. And I love walking through the maternity section to find a DAMN TOP! Thanks for the reminder that I don’t need a maternity outfit as I’m just a fabulous, yet poor chubby gal who is reminded daily that clothes for me are as a short person I’m a second class citizen. Ain’t pregnant campers, just marvelous and if you don’t think so, that’s okay.  I’m asking for an affordable bra, not a new Kia. This also means that jeans are out of the question.

3. I look like a hobo because of #2.

4. An eccentric hobo … so that’s good. I like being an eccentric hobo when it comes to fashion.

5. I cried in a restaurant today after my family left today and no one noticed. I think that’s good. I’m not good at the crying stuff, but someone came over to me and was very nice. That is of the good. Our hearts are filled with many things and sometimes the eye dams leak.

6. My youngest niece picked out the worst movie to watch on On Demand last night and we decided to do Mystery Science Theater 3000 with it. We laughed so hard that we cried and I had the best sleep I’ve had in eight months. Laughing is my favorite part.

7. Saw the class pictures for my graduating niece and they were more than beautiful.

8. She does not look like a hobo. She is smashing. She is going to make herself, and then someone she chooses in the future, very happy not only because of her charm and beauty, but because she is damned smart.

9. 2014, I am getting my best heavyweight boxing stance on for you this year. We can do this sweetly or I will fight you like a bear. I am not afraid. Write that shit down.

10.  Hated to miss the Nashville is Talking reunion, but family … you know … family is everything.

And there you go. Back to doing whatever the hell I do here next week.

 

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Grubs, Soap And Cell Phones

December 26, 2013 - Author: newscoma

In a society where we constantly react, it seems to me we have lost the ability to absorb what is in front of our own two eyes. There is so much stimulation going on in our lives from the constant pings of our cell phones to the latest celebrity train wreck that we forget the basics. I’m as guilty as anyone, yet this holiday I spent a lot of time alone. It was good though as I had a lot of time to reflect on this past year to what is to come as I head toward 50. (It’s coming.) We all have our paths to walk and the journey usually is taken alone. It is the way it has always been. We walk alone yet we find interesting people and painted hills of green and blue while we are on our odyssey.

While everyone is yelling about a War on Christmas (which I have never seen as it appears that Bing Crosby threw up a White Christmas at my house) or Duck Dynasty, there was a child that lost a father, a mother who lost a son, a holiday spent in a hospital, a new love filled with possibilities, a lost soul seeking answers without knowing the questions and fire mixed with ice.

My grandfather did not have running water when he was growing up. I woke up this morning and had a glass of water that I didn’t have to go fetch from a well. When I think about this at its very core.  I did not have to get up before dawn to harvest cotton fields by hand.

I’m lucky indeed.

There are people much less fortunate. You see, we are heroes to some, villains to others but the bottom line is that mainly we sit somewhere in the middle. We are pleasant or annoying diversions to people we meet who then go about their day wondering what they want to watch on TV when they get home.  Yet there are times that each and every single one of us want our voices, whether it is quiet or a loud roar of raw pain, to be heard. Listening and absorbing everything, we grow and we find solace and empathy. Everyone want to be heard through the billowing noise of daily life.

It’s human nature.

I’ve thought about experiencing things that are joyful if we are can’t absorb the beauty of not only the magnificent, but the mundane. Life is not always filled with feelings of being buried in dirt covered in grubs, there are also times of exquisite understanding with  the welcome wind in our hair as we had on our first solo bike ride when we were children. We are missing both of those things.

We all have bones in our closet.  Everyone does, but there is a balance. I need to remember this.  Creating a soap opera to drink from the drama only leads to your mouth tasting like soap.

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