Saturday, April 11, 2009

Landree Brotherton New Hamblen County Democrat Chairman

I've seen no local reports about the newly elected chair of the Hamblen County Democrat Party, Landree Brotherton although the newly designed state party website ran a feature on him and his work for the party:

Landree Brotherton has been interested in politics for as long as he can remember. However, his first leadership position resulted from being at the right place at the right time. Brotherton recalls, “Our county party saw the need for a Young Democrats group and began the process of creating one. I happened to see the ad in the local paper and decided I would go to the meeting. A couple meetings later, I found myself as the treasurer of the newly minted Hamblen County Young Democrats.” During the 2004 election cycle, he knocked on doors, stuffed envelopes, put up yard signs, and worked the polls for a local Assessor of Property race and for State Representative John Litz. From that point on, Brotherton was hooked on politics.

As a Freshman at Tusculum College, he and a few friends founded a chapter of the College Democrats, was elected Vice President of the Chapter, and later served two terms as President. Brotherton also became involved with the Tennessee Federation of College Democrats (TFCD) and was twice elected as the TFCD Membership Director on the State Executive Board.

During the 2005 Hamblen County Reorganization, he was elected to the Executive Committee, and in 2006, Brotherton served as an intern for Harold Ford, Jr.’s Senate Campaign in Northeast Tennessee. He also worked extensively with Rick Trent, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 1st District. During the 2008 election cycle, he served as campaign manager for Rob Russell, 1st District nominee for Congress. He also managed the Hamblen County Democratic headquarters and worked tirelessly to elect Barack Obama.

When asked why he is a Democrat, Brotherton replied, “[Because] Democrats believe in equal opportunity for all citizens, affordable healthcare and K-College education, maintaining a strong economy while being fiscally responsible, in protecting social security, and in being stewards of our environment. Finally, I’m a Democrat because Democrats believe in honoring our veterans, in maintaining a strong national defense, and in politics of inclusion - bringing ALL Americans together.”

Brotherton believes he has the energy and the enthusiasm to make a difference in our county by engaging a younger generation of Democrats in the party in various ways. He points to the dedicated core of party activists in Hamblen County as the base upon which to build the party and notes that they don’t “hesitate to embrace change or younger folks coming in.” Though he admits that their weakness, like that of many other county parties, is fundraising (especially given the current economy), he stresses that the Executive Committee is very creative and has already begun working on a number of fundraising ideas.

Brotherton concludes, “Overall, I am excited about the job ahead. I know there is a lot of work to do, and as I said in my acceptance speech, ‘It begins today!’”

Brotherton also mentioned the new county Democrat web site here. (Note: I did see mention of this story on PostPolitics in Nashville too.) Brotherton is also writing the Hamblen Democrat page on the state web site as well.

Others elected in the local party gathering include:

Vice Chair - Dr. Micah Westmorland

Secretary - Andrew Cox

Treasurer - Lisa Litz

Chairman Emeritus - Stephen Bales

Candidate Recruitment Committee - Jack Horner, Chairman

Advertising Committee - JB Elmore, Chairman

Friday, April 10, 2009

Camera Obscura: Dollhouse Still Here; 'The Hangover'; 'Extract'; A Salute to Hank Worden

First some news and then a tribute to one of the great character actors to ever hit the screen.

A Twitter comment from actress Felicia Day caused a mini-storm with a claim the new Joss Whedon show "Dollhouse" was about to be canceled. It is not - though Fox has no love for Whedon's work, the episode Day was in was not meant to be aired but will appear on the already planned DVD set. Of course, since Fox is prepping the set may well mean all we'll get is one season. Holding any decent ratings on a Friday night is tough - but the show is absolutely better and better each week.

Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune has the skinny on the fan furor and the odd episode counting Fox is doing. Plus, she offers some advice to Whedon which I'd like to see him consider:

My take is this: If "Dollhouse" is canceled, for the love of all that is holy, creator Joss Whedon should get out of business with the broadcast networks.

Whedon needs to make his next show on cable. End of story."


Speaking of odd TV decisions, I did watch the season finale of "Life On Mars", as ABC decided to cancel it abruptly. The writers created an ending for the series, which was vastly different from the way the original BBC series ended. The story of the show was about a policeman who is injured in the present and wakes up in 1973 working as a cop there too. He blends right in with everyone, he's trying to figure out what the heck happened and in the last episode he wakes up from a cryo-sleep chamber on a spaceship about to land on Mars. All the folks in his "dream scenario" were his fellow astronauts. That had to blow a few minds of viewers. When the DVD of this show comes out, it's worth a view, plus it has some absolutely fantastic music from the early 70s. And it has Gretchen Mol.


Here's the most recent nominee for Terrible Ideas for a Remake - Tom Cruise and John Travolta want to remake "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".


Two new comedies on the way look very promising. In fact, the response to just the trailer for the new comedy "The Hangover" has been so strong they are already working on a sequel. It's from the director of "Old School" and the preview does show great promise. Check it out here.

Also on the way is the new comedy from Mike Judge. If you haven't seen his first movie "Office Space", do it immediately. It's one of the best comedies in the last 10 years. His previous movie "Idiocracy" is worthy of its cult following. His new one is called "Extract" and here's the trailer:


No other actor has a resume as diverse as Hank Worden. Born in 1901, he turned to acting after a short run as a rodeo rider - in fact some 25 years after he left the circuit and was already a regular in the movies, a doctor notified him that his neck was broken from a fall off a horse during the rodeo days.

Most often, he played cowboy roles, usually in B-features, but when he made friends with director John Ford, he became a staple in all of Ford's westerns. He's likely most famous to movie fans for the role of Mose Harper in the classic "The Searchers". His character goes somewhat mad in the head after an Indian attack and longs for just a rocking chair and a roof over his head. But his dialog and his unusual style of halted speech transforms him into a near-Shakespearean character, a jester who dispenses wisdom and warnings.

As with many character actors in the early 60s, he moved into television work and the list of actors he worked with is astonishing: Brando in "One-Eyed Jacks", Clint Eastwood on "Rawhide", just to name a few. In TV, he was often on "Daniel Boone", "Green Acres", "Bonanza", and "Knight Rider", just to name a few. And he kept plowing away - his face, his voice, his mischievous eyes and grin were unforgettable.

One TV role I remember was an episode of Rod Serling's "Night Gallery". It was a short bit, about a hippie who winds up in Hell, and Hell turns out to be a single room, with a jukebox playing an annoying song over and over. And there in the corner, in a rocking chair, is Hank Worden, droning on and on about odd stories, like the winter the "baby got the croup", or what he's been reading in the Farmer's Almanac.

And Worden kept making movies - he's in the very awful "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Every Which Way But Loose," "Runaway Train" -- and he concluded his career on "Twin Peaks", during the second season where he played a waiter in 4 or 5 episodes (see image below). Who else can boast a career like that? Hank died in 1992 and The Movie Morlocks blog at TCM has a great post about his career you can read here.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nifty 'Tea Party' Slogan Distorts History

In tough economic times, it's pretty easy to call for the populace to be angry - it's a sport about as challenging as shooting fish in a shot glass. The recent media-induced frenzy (spurred by the FOX News network) however is another opportunity for the angry to show off how little they understand their own nation's history.

Bob Cesca points out the problems in his recent post:

Let's recap. It began with the on-air rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by the Coward Rick Santelli -- "coward" because he's apparently too afraid to go on The Daily Show and, instead, Jim Cramer went on and took a beating for something that Santelli basically started. Nevertheless, according to one of the official tea bag websites, Santelli is credited as the patron saint of the movement.

And unless I'm mistaken, the basic idea of the tea bag revolution is to protest against government bailouts and in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans. Ultimately, the tea baggers (can I call them that?) appear to be against allowing the Bush's tax cuts to expire. Strangely, they also appear to be against President Obama signing into law the largest middle class tax cut in history. They're also against helping middle and working class "losers" keep their homes. (By the way, your neighbor's mortgage is your problem. Just watch your property values plummet as soon as there's just one foreclosure on your block.)

This series of Obama policies, they say, portends tyranny in America. Of course none of the policies of the Bush administration were considered tyrannical by many of the current tea bag leaders. You know the list of Bush trespasses. The illegal searches and seizures, the illegal electronic eavesdropping and torturing. The suspension of habeas corpus, the record deficits, the doubling of the national debt and so on. None of that was tyrannical. But allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent to expire is absolutely the vanguard of totalitarianism.

So the organizers of the movement have picked up on Santelli's tea party reference and are rebelling against higher taxes for the rich and corporations by purchasing thousands of tea bags and dumping them into various waterways.

To sum up: higher '90s-era tax rates for the wealthy and corporations? Tyrannical. Tax cuts for the middle class? Also tyrannical. Therefore, emulate the Boston Tea Party as a means of underscoring these positions.

Here's the problem.

The Boston Tea Party was ultimately precipitated by a massive corporate tax cut.

In 1773, the only major multinational corporation at the time, the British East India Company, was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. According to that obviously liberal organization, the Boston Tea Party Historical Society, one solution was to bail out the corporation by offering it a government loan. But instead, at the urging of the East India Company's powerful lobbyists and supported by King George III, Parliament passed the Tea Act which almost entirely eliminated the duty -- the tax -- on British tea exported by the East India Company to the American colonies. How do we know this? Well, the actual subtitle of the Tea Act, for one:

An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

The rationale was that lower taxes meant lower prices, which meant the East India Company would sell a lot more tea. Your basic free market precursor to Reaganomics and supply-side economics in action. In other words, the British government's solution to the East India Company's financial crisis was, in effect, a tax cut. A big one. Exactly the same economic solution that's been pushed by congressional Republicans and the tea bag revolutionaries 236 years later.

The tax cut was viewed by colonial patriots as another example of British tyranny against smaller merchants whose business would be severely undercut. Consequently, political activists and, most famously, the Sons of Liberty, organized a boycott against the East India Company's tea. And later that year, when the Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor were docked in Boston harbor, the Sons carried out their famous protest.

So. Whoops.

It turns out that that the tea baggers, led in part by Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds and the Coward Rick Santelli, are politically more in line with the tax policies of King George than the views of the Sons of Liberty and the colonial patriots. The tax baggers emulating a protest against a corporate tax cut -- but, oddly, in support of tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Furthermore, King George was against a corporate bailout loan. And so are the tea baggers. And I don't think it'd be a stretch to suggest that many of the tea baggers are recipients of the president's middle class tax cut.

Not only that but the tea bag revolutionaries are being urged to buy thousands of corporate tea bags, rather than horking them from Lipton trucks -- Griffin's Wharf style. Sam Adams would be so proud. Then again, to be fair, the revolutionaries are being urged to get the proper government permits for their revolution against the, you know, government. We shouldn't expect that such law-abiding revolutionaries would seek out pilfered tag bags.

So in keeping with a long, embarrassing history of ill-conceived, contradictory or just plain self-defeating marketing ploys, the tea baggers seem to have adopted a concept that completely and utterly contradicts what they claim to stand for. Don't misunderstand me, though, they absolutely have a right to protest or do whatever the hell they want. They also have a right to be ridiculously and hilariously inconsistent. In a strange way, consider this column as helpful advice to the tea baggers. Perhaps it's time to quietly abandon the whole tea bag thing.

Unfortunately, I doubt they'll listen. Last week, with crocodile tears streaming down his punch-me face, Glenn Beck urged his viewers to: "Believe in something -- even if it's wrong. Believe in it!"

The loopy sure seem to hate America - or as Jon Stewart says, being in the minority for a mere 10 weeks is not the definition of tyranny.

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Morgan Keegan Mess Continued - Unanimous Approval By State

More bloggers today take up the NYTimes tale I wrote about yesterday about how one investment bank, Morgan Keegan, was allowed to be both sales force and underwriter for municipal bonds issued across the state (and in other states too), in a world-class example of conflict of interest and how it has damaged communities and individuals.

Andy Axel at KnoxViews
ACK at PostPolitics
Aunt B, at Tiny Cat Pants
Gov. Bredesen via Nashville Scene

And the fiction writers at the TNGOP claim it was all Gov. Bredesen's fault -- despite the fact that the process which gave MK the approval to work they way they did was passed by the state legislature in 1999, with unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate. Bill Hobbs and crew might want to bone up on some history and recall that Republican Don Sundquist was governor at that time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Morgan Keegan Investment Advice Takes TN Towns Down

Communities like Claiborne County and Lewisburg, TN are finding out the investment advice they received from the Memphis-based Morgan Keegan is costing them far more than they bargained for. Today's NYTimes published a report today on how the firm has been working the state as educator, advisor, and investor all with state approval.

The municipal bond marketplace was so lightly regulated that in Tennessee Morgan Keegan was able to dominate almost every phase of the business. The firm, which is based in Memphis, sold $2 billion worth of municipal bond derivatives to 38 cities and counties since 2001, according to data compiled by the state comptroller’s office.

After The New York Times made inquiries, the Tennessee comptroller, Justin P. Wilson, ordered a statewide freeze on bond derivatives and a review of the seminar taught by Morgan Keegan and others.

Representatives of Morgan Keegan pointed out that they saved cities and counties money for years by delivering lower interest rates, and that the economic decline that created the turmoil in the bond market was beyond their control. Moody’s credit rating agency on Tuesday issued a negative outlook for the fiscal health of municipal governments."
"Unlike most states, Tennessee was one of the few where the legislature passed a law intended to regulate the sale of these complicated municipal bond derivatives to local governments. But the profusion of those deals and the various roles of Morgan Keegan have left leaders of those cities and counties furious at both the firm and the state.

Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, officials said they were recently told by Morgan Keegan bankers that extracting themselves from a municipal bond derivative would cost $3 million, a sum the poor county cannot afford. “I told the Morgan Keegan man here in my office, ‘It seems to me, you are all trying to slip paperwork by us like a small, shady loan company,’ ” said Joe Duncan, the mayor of Claiborne County."
"Municipal bond experts say they know of no other state where a firm was allowed to wear three hats; several states prohibit a single firm from acting as both adviser and underwriter. In Pennsylvania, which has such a prohibition, federal prosecutors are investigating accusations that investment banks and financial advisers conspired to sell bonds with inflated fees to school districts.

“It’s like the lion being hired to protect the gazelle,” Robert E. Brooks, a municipal bonds expert and a professor of financial management at the University of Alabama, said of the situation in Tennessee. “Who was looking after these little towns?”

Morgan Keegan said local officials were unfairly blaming them for the economic downturn. “People are upset; we’re upset, too,” said Joseph K. Ayres, the firm’s managing director. “We’ve been very successful helping a lot of communities try to weather this storm. Obviously, there are going to be a few disappointments. People are going to look to find a scapegoat. We’re big boys and girls. We understand that.”

Mr. Ayres denied that the firm had a conflict in advising municipalities and underwriting bond derivatives. He said that Morgan Keegan had taught the seminar at the request of the state and that they had offered unbiased descriptions of municipal bond options. He added that the firm had not marketed products during the sessions."
"In many corners of Tennessee, the first anyone heard of interest-rate swaps was from C. L. Overman, a vice president of Morgan Keegan who assured officials that the deals carried little risk, city and county officials said. “He told us it would be a good thing and there wasn’t much downside,” said Mayor Duncan of Claiborne County. He then laughed, adding, “When everything went belly up, of course, they told us it wasn’t their fault.”

"Earlier this year, Claiborne County officials were told by Mr. Overman that they had only a few weeks to refinance an $18 million bond or pay a quadrupled quarterly payment of $700,000. Mr. Overman declined to comment for this article. In Lewisburg, after Mr. Overman pitched the swap idea for the sewer project, Kenneth E. Carr, a city official, attended the class. “The seminar was dull and boring,” said Mr. Carr, who still has a copy of the book, stamped with the state seal of Tennessee on every page. “I thought, ‘Well, this is approved by the state because they put their seal of approval on it."

Morgan Keegan is also facing an ever-growing number of legal fights with investors:

"One industry source said that level of activity, coupled with the fact that there may be more than 100 pending arbitration claims related to the RMK issue, means Morgan Keegan has still spent several million dollars so far defending itself against the claims, not counting the awards on behalf of claimants.

In Stoltmann’s recent case, he said the Fitzgeralds were brothers who inherited family money and were looking for safe, conservative investments.

Craig McCann, a former economist for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said he believes Morgan Keegan misrepresented the risks of investing in six RMK funds that cost investors $2 billion in 2007. McCann, who has served as an expert witness in some of the arbitrations, released a paper late last year titled “Regions Morgan Keegan: The Abuse of Structured Finance.”

Also the firm has been ordered to repay $267,000 to one investor in California:

"The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ordered the Memphis-based company to pay a San Francisco-based investor all losses plus interest and court costs, said Chicago-based arbitration lawyer Andrew Stoltmann, who handled the case.

The award – which is the largest arbitration award against Morgan Keegan’s bond funds as of late – set a precedent for pending arbitration lawsuits against the company, Stoltmann said.

“There has been some nefarious stuff that (has) come out in the last two months that has changed the dynamics of these cases and made them better,” he said. “An award like that is a real clear sign that the arbitrators were upset with what they heard.”

The “tide has turned” in favor of the plaintiffs because it has been established that 10 percent to 15 percent of the funds were being misclassified as safer investments, Stoltmann said."

More on the story from Enclave and from KnoxViews and this NYTimes blog.

According to a press release from Morgan Keegan dated Jan. 29, 2009, the firm is ranked among the Top Ten Underwriters of 2008:

"We begin the New Year in a strong position as a top ten national underwriter,” said Rob Baird, president of Morgan Keegan’s Fixed Income Capital Markets division. “Through a continued focus on providing relationship and idea-oriented investment banking services to issuers throughout the country, we expect to further grow our market share and remain a top ten underwriter in 2009.”

Additionally, for the 16th consecutive year, Morgan Keegan dominated municipal bond underwriting in the South Central U.S. The five-state region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Serving as senior manager on 219 issues with a par value of $4.9 billion, the firm’s market share in the region jumped from 15 percent in 2007 to 24.8 percent in 2008.

Morgan Keegan was also the leading municipal bond underwriter, in terms of number of transactions, in the Southeast and Southwest regions of the country. In the 10-state Southeast region that includes Virginia, the firm senior managed 226 issues with a par value of $5.6 billion."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

State OKs Guns On The Menu

The new Republican majority in Tennessee's legislature, aided by some Democrats as well, have been hard at work to make sure a person who has a permit to carry a gun can do just that when they go out to eat. Who knew going out for a bite to eat had become an exercise in danger?

The state House voted 70 to 26 to allow folks to carry their weapons into an eatery that serves alcohol - as long as they don't consume any alcohol.

Just exactly how will owners determine if someone who orders a drink or two is carrying a weapon? Will diners have to take a lie detector test? Maybe they'll just have to pinky swear.

Who voted vote for the new law?

Representatives voting aye were: Barker, Bass, Bell, Borchert, Brooks H, Brooks K, Campfield, Carr, Casada, Cobb C, Cobb T, Coleman, Coley, Curtiss, Dean, Dennis, Dunn, Eldridge, Evans, Faulkner, Ferguson, Fincher, Floyd, Ford, Fraley, Hackworth, Halford, Harrison, Hawk, Haynes, Hensley, Hill, Johnson C, Johnson P, Kelsey, Litz, Lollar, Lundberg, Lynn, Maddox, Maggart, Matheny, Matlock, McCord, McCormick, McDaniel, McDonald, McManus, Montgomery, Moore, Mumpower, Niceley, Odom, Ramsey, Rich, Roach, Rowland, Sargent, Shepard, Shipley, Swafford, Tidwell, Tindell, Todd, Watson, Weaver, Windle, Winningham, Yokley, Mr. Speaker Williams -- 70.
Representatives voting no were: Armstrong, Bone, Brown, Camper, Cobb J, Cooper, DeBerry J, DeBerry L, Favors, Gilmore, Hardaway, Harmon, Harwell, Jones S, Jones U, Kernell, Miller, Naifeh, Pitts, Richardson, Shaw, Sontany, Stewart, Towns, Turner L, Turner M -- 26.

Just what was the critical problem this new law resolves?

At the least, you might think the Legislature would create some method for making sure that people who have a court order to hand over their weapons after being cited with an order of protection. Sadly, such a program does not exist.

UPDATE: Some of the current laws which carve out exceptions to gun laws and which point out numerous contradictions here, via R. Neal:

Commercial Appeal's analysis of problems with TN handgun permit process:

Dozens with violent history have gun permits

But instead of legislators trying to fix it, we get stuff like this:

HB 2081 by Towns: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, authorizes persons over 65 to obtain a gun carry permit without having to complete a handgun safety course. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

*HB 2157 by Towns: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, waives handgun permit fees for persons over 65. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

HB 0489 by Tidwell: Criminal Offenses - As introduced, allows person who has permit to carry a handgun to carry gun in place where alcohol is served for consumption on premises if person is not consuming alcohol or is not otherwise prohibited by posting provisions. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

HB 0521 by Rich: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, allows persons with handgun carry permit to carry in public parks, public postsecondary institutions, and restaurants where alcoholic beverages are being served; allows judges and district attorneys to carry firearms where law enforcement can carry if they have permit or appropriate training. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13 and Title 70.

*HB 0798 by Campfield: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, authorizes full-time faculty and staff at public colleges and universities in Tennessee to carry handguns if not otherwise prohibited by law. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

*HB 0960 by Tindell: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, authorizes person with handgun carry permit to possess firearm in local, state, or federal parks. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13 and Title 70.

*HB 1395 by Evans: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, prohibits employers from prohibiting persons possessing a handgun carry permit from transporting and storing a firearm out of sight in a locked vehicle on any property set aside for vehicles. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

HB 1781 by West: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, restricts information required to be submitted by a participant in a handgun safety course and corrects reference to federal law; requires that documents required to be submitted for purchase of firearms that must be registered be executed by chief law enforcement within 15 days of request. - Amends TCA Title 4; Title 36, Chapter 3; Title 39; Title 40, Chapter 35; Title 45; Title 57; Title 58, Chapter 1 and Title 58, Chapter 2.

HB 1785 by West: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, requires persons licensed to sell firearms to adhere to the guidelines prescribed by the federal "Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act"; removes state prohibition against sales of firearms to certain persons. - Amends TCA Title 39. (Note: allows purchase of gun if prior felony was pardoned, set aside, or the felon had civil rights restored.)

SB 0554 by Norris: Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, deletes requirement that the purchaser of a firearm give a thumbprint as part of background check process and that the TBI furnish thumbprint cards and pads to firearm dealers. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

HB 1801 by West Handgun Permits - As introduced, provides that "handgun carry permit" may be used interchangeably with "weapon carry permit" where applicable, thereby imposing any rights or duties that apply to persons with a handgun carry permit to persons who carry a lawful weapon. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13.

Monday, April 06, 2009

State Ignores Own Laws, Demands You Verify Right To Vote

State legislators led by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron thinks you, as a voter, needs numerous checks and verification just to cast a ballot. You just can't be trusted, he says, you must be pure:

Senator Ketron claims he introduced the bill to “protect and purify” the ballot. And it will do just that - but not in the American “this is a democracy and we should be removing barriers to voting instead of creating them” kind of way.

As Senator Haynes said, we already have laws in place to punish those who commit voter fraud. Why do we need to erect additional barriers. Especially, I would add, when the incidences of voter fraud cases is virtually non-existent?

And if this law disenfranchises one person, then that is one person too many." via Liberadio(!)

Newspaper editorials cheer this legislation, comparing it to getting food stamps:

"Opponents claim Sen. Ketron’s legislation will somehow discourage voters from participating in the political process and unnecessarily stigmatizes those who would have to obtain a free photo ID by signing a pauper’s oath. By that reasoning, the federal government shouldn’t issue EBT cards for food to the needy because it identifies them as being poor.
Indeed, honest, open elections are the best protection society has against those who would try to subvert and steal political power."

So, voting, backbone 'o Democracy, depends on yet another ID, apart from the one you get when you apply to register to vote under existing state rules. And these new IDs are somehow linked to getting food stamps. Bottom line: voters cannot be trusted. Nor can the poor and needy.

Also, requiring a verifiable paper trail on all votes cast in an election is just evil, unnecessary, and Republicans in Tennessee are fighting against such accountability:

In 2008, the Tennessee General Assembly passed bi-partisan legislation that would require optical scanning voting machines for all 95 counties in the state by 2010. Governor Bredesen signed it into law in June of ’08.

According to that bill, the estimated cost would be approximately $25 million and at the time the bill was signed into law, it was reported that Tennessee had approximately $31.4 million of the HAVA (Help America Vote Act) money available to make this upgrade. For more information on this check out Knoxviews at:

But now that the Republicans have taken control of the General Assembly and in turn will have the majority members on the County Election Commissions, and will also have the ability to replace the current Democrat Election Administrators in 95 counties with Republican Administrators, they want to stall the purchase of verifiable voting machines until 2012.

How can anyone who depends on elections to hold a job question the absolute necessity of insuring that every vote is accurately counted? And furthermore, how can those of us that vote stand by quietly and allow anyone to deny us the voting mechanisms that will insure that our votes are counted accurately. I don’t know about you, but if I have an important document on my computer, one that is not duplicated on paper anywhere else, I make a hard copy and file it. Some of us even pay for safe deposit boxes at local banks where we keep really important documents. What is more important then the validity of your vote on Election Day? (Via OpenPen)

The implication is that only voters are guilty of nefarious acts of deceit (though such proof isn't documented), while the state government just needs to herd you into groups easily managed and manipulated. Refusing to implement to already legislative-approved standards of HAVA shows that the real goal of Sen. Ketron's plan is to exempt election officials from creating a system which could eliminate fraud, and instead blame imaginary acts of voter fraud