Without your well-placed tax dollars, the Tea Parties would have to rescue their own kittehs.

Without your well-placed tax dollars, the Tea Parties would have to rescue their own kittehs.

Proving that all hypocrisy is local, the Tennessee Tea Party is organizing a rally this Friday to protest “big government” at the Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium – a venue funded and maintained by the taxpayers of Davidson County.

You can view the history of Municipal Aud and see just how much “big government” has put into the building to make it safe, comfortable, and affordable so organizations like the TN Tea Party can protest its intrusion into our lives. For example, in 1978 the Metro Council designated $200,000 to paint the interior and update seat upholstery. In 1993 they allocated $1.159 million in repairs and renovations for the auditorium. And in 2001, a brand new one-million dollar sprinkler and fire alarm system was installed.

In other words, Tennessee Tea Partiers, it’s not about “big government,” it’s about smart government. And without a smart government believing that it’s a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars to keep conventioneers from being burned to a crisp, the Tea Partiers wouldn’t have a safe place to peaceably assemble.

We won’t hold our breath waiting for a “thank you.”

UPDATE: Mark NoChaser expounds: “While we’re at it, Mary, let’s not forget that the Teabaggers will drive to the auditorium on taxpayer-funded roads. While they’re at the event, their cars will be protected by taxpayer-funded police officers. They will scurry home Friday night and bang out blog posts claiming the Municipal Auditorium was filled by 3 MILLION protesters. Of course, their lights and their computers will be run on taxpayer-subsidized electricity.”

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Not taking it anymore.

Not taking it anymore.

What’s the difference between the loud white guys on the radio yelling me that “it’s not about race, we just hate his policies” and this loud white guy telling me that, in the words of Jimmy Carter, the “intensely demonstrated animosity towards Barack Obama” certainly is about race?

This loud white guy backs up his assertion with, you know, actual facts put into context:

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If you listened to the radio or watched the cable yesterday you were hit with the false equivalency Olbermann outlines: if you say that anything critical of President Obama is racial then your words will be twisted into, “all criticism of Obama is racial.” Then if the deniers find one instance that isn’t racial, they will exaggerate that lone proof into proof that all criticism isn’t racial.

That’s how the screaming tightie righties roll. Twisted. And so you got to ask, which of the President’s policies do comments like Glen Beck’s “Obama is a racist” and Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” and Michael DelGiorno’s “Obama is the antichrist” address? Which policies are they arguments for or against?

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Antiracist writer and educator (and Tennessean) Tim Wise gets some air time on CNN to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “when will Republican leaders take a stand against the kind of rhetoric that stokes white racial resentment?” Or, I might add, are they so desperate for power that they will continue to allow the most radical fringe to speak for them?

LEMON: OK. So we are going to continue our discussion now over the health care rallies and the tone of what’s going on in the country. Tim Wise joins us. He’s frequent here on the show. The author of “Between Barack and a Hard Place” and among the most prominent anti- racist activist in the country. Thank you, sir. Always good to see you.


LEMON: You heard the chairman from Florida say no, it is not race.

WISE: I did.

LEMON: It does a disservice. You heard David Sirota say it is the elephant in the room.

WISE: Right. Well like I said in the show before, it is the background noise of a lot of the opposition, not all of it but a lot of it. You know, when you have someone like Glen Beck saying as he did about a month ago that the health care debate isn’t really about that. It is just reparations for black people, where you have Rush Limbaugh yesterday on the air saying first that community service is the first step towards fascism, which is bizarre even for him.

And then almost immediately after that saying one of the problems with America is too much multi culturalism [This is one of local talker Michael DelGiorno's favorite lines!]. You wouldn’t say that unless you are trying to stoke white racial resentment. And so when you say those things, I want to know when are Republican leaders going to condemn that kind of rhetoric because that is where race is being interjected. It is interjected by us, it’s interested by the leading talk show hosts in this country.

Read the rest of the transcript.

Hat tip: Crooks and Liars

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The job of Secretary of State Tre Hargett is to conduct fair elections in Tennessee. So why is hiding behind a bush-league legal opinion based soley on website research and refusing to do his job instead of implementing a law that would give Tennesseans secure and verifiable elections?

In 2008, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (TVCA), which mandates replacing the 100% unverifiable touch-screen electronic voting machines we use now in 93 out of 95 counties with paper ballots by the 2010 election. Despite efforts to gut and delay the TVCA during this year’s session, the law still stands – and it’s Tre Hargett’s job to carry it out.

But Secretary of State Hargett says he can’t. Why? Because a legislative attorney did some research on the Election Assistance Commission website and said that he couldn’t [pdf].

In other words, instead of using legal statutes for the basis of a legal opinion on the TVCA, the legislative attorney used “…references on the [EAC] website….” And it’s that flimsy website-based legal opinion – not an opinion based on legal research as he recently stated [pdf] – that Tre Hargett is using as an excuse to not follow the law.

And here is what will happen as each day ticks by and Mr. Hargett is not held accountable for not doing his job and hiding behind this flimsy legal opinion. First, he will continue to delay implementation claiming that “it is impossible to implement” right up until the General Assembly goes back in session in January. At that time, legislators will once again carry bills that will attempt to gut and then delay the Voter Confidence until 2012. If they fail and session ends, then State Election Coordinator Mark Goins will cry that he no longer has enough time to implement the law before the November 2010 election.

Tre Hargett is using a dubious and improperly sourced legal opinion as his basis for not doing his job and carrying out the law that would give Tennesseans secure and verifiable elections. Both Mr. Hargett and Mr. Goins both know that hiding behind such a flimsy and easily dismissed legal opinion is a useful delay tactic. And they know how their delay will play out. In fact, they are betting the next election on it.

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Those of you in Tennessee already knew that. But today when she speaks at the 9-12 March on Washington she will clue in the rest of the world.

“Revolution.” “Succession.” “A New Civil War.” It’s all part of a days work (cha-ching!) for the sponsors of the march. And, apparently, for Blackburn.

Frankly, I’m not surprised. Congressman Blackburn was more than willing to appear on the local mouthpiece of the most extreme wing of her party, Michael DelGiorno, who every day demonstrates how irresponsible he is as a broadcaster by insinuating that the President is a very scary man who is working towards a dictatorship, trying to indoctrinate your children, and using the tactics of imperial Japan and Nazi Germany to overthrow the government. Oh, and Harry Reid is coming to kill you and Barack Obama is the antichrist.

Frankly, Congressman Blackburn is exactly where I would expect her to be today – cozying up to the most extreme members of her party who are so afraid of Barack Obama’s “otherness” that they bring guns to his public events and scream “You lie” to his face in very inappropriate settings.

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Here’s more from Rachel Maddow:

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Summary: Guest Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education, and our Celebration of Labor!

Celebration of Labor – Part 1 A brief history of Labor Day, advice from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and stories of labor from our listeners and Freddie’s Moms. And Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education, joins us to discuss the real meaning behind President Obama’s Back to School address to the kids. Hint: It’s about personal responsibility and staying in school. Plus, why our public school kids need a boost and why it’s important to not just roll your eyes at irresponsible broadcasters, but to hold them accountable. [24MB download mp3]

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Celebration of Labor – Part 2 Will the Republican leadership – not to mention elected officials – continue to allow radical cable news and talk radio hosts to control their party? If not, then where is the push back against the mounds of inflammatory misinformation foisted upon the American people in their name? And why are some leaders actually joining in the fray? Chuck Grassley promoting Glen Beck’s book? Really? Plus, what the President has to say about health security for all when he addresses the joint session of Congress on Wednesday and all we are saying is the “give’em enough rope” theory is back! [24MB download mp3]

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Here are the prepared remarks for President Barack Obama’s Back to School Event tomorrow.

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The latest fad in wingnuttery is to be aghast that the President of the United States would have the audacity (ha!) to address our nation’s schoolchildren. I know I’m going to step on the new third rail–reality–a few times during the course of this post, but please bear with me.

While Roger can rewrite my hypothetical historical outlook all he wants, I wasn’t outraged that George W. Bush wanted to read to students. Or that his wife Laura was heavily involved in literacy programs. It’s perfectly and naturally acceptable for the elected leaders of our country to encourage us all to be good students. My dad used to argue that education was tantamount to homeland security.

This is from the fact sheet regarding the President’s address:

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

Reviewing the fact sheet, the following items are not in it:

  • We were wrong to go to war with Iraq.
  • My ruse was successful: I was born in Kenya.
  • You’re looking at your new communist dictator.

One of the principal reasons that these items are not going to be included in the address is because the address is going to be about PERSISTING AND SUCCEEDING IN SCHOOL. (The other principal reason is that most of them are untrue.)

Here is where continuing to thread the needle gets tricky because I’m going to bring race into the discussion. As you might’ve noticed, Pres. Obama is African-American (sometimes referred to as “black”). Reviewing both census data and NCES data, we find that the percentage of black students enrolled in public schools (2006) exceeds the percentage of blacks as part of the overall population (2000). “But wait,” I can hear you saying to yourself, “17% of public school populations versus 12% of the overall population isn’t that big a deal.” And I’ll actually even ignore the urban/rural distribution differences for now and highlight the aggregate data that makes Obama’s address a bigger deal: data on reading and math proficiency broken down by race, especially in the high school years. The racial differences in math performance are particularly striking.

If you didn’t have occasion to see the effect of exposure to Obama the candidate on black youth during the campaign of 2008, the basis of my entire post is likely to be lost on you. And, frankly, the socio-racial aspects of the argument are not as data-driven as the rest of why an Obama address is a good idea. I even thought about proposing a compromise address that included Michael Steele, Chair of the RNC. But as I continued to think about it, I continued to think about the magnitude of the impact for an elected black President to address black schoolkids who would have the opportunity to discuss the event with their parents, grandparents, etc. And I think the impact would be profound. And I think it would be profound for Obama to join with Steele at some point for a similar event focused on the importance of education. And possibly with Justice Sotomayor.

For large groups of people (often demographic groups) who have never had access to specific roles, firsts are important. The first people to hold those roles can have tremendous impact in terms of shifting, reducing, or eliminating barriers. I live in a majority-minority neighborhood, and I can tell you unequivocally: race continues to matter in America. There’s a certain irony, though: I would expect people who oppose affirmative action to be supportive of the notion of an Obama address. Non-white students will hear remarks from someone non-white who was able to achieve because of his education. There are worse things than opportunities for underperforming non-white students to do than hear someone in the position of greatest prominence in the entire world speak to them about performance. And when the generation of all students who heard Obama and listened to him grow up and enter the world, they will do so with the benefit of the lessons of good education that came from being good students and they will have, I think, a more profound understanding of what equality of opportunity is. By leveraging the ways in which race matters right now in America, Obama has more opportunity than most to make it matter less in the future.

So, frankly, I’m looking forward to the address, and I’m embarrassed at local policymakers around the country who are seeking to prevent it from happening in schools near them. Heck, I’d look forward to it even more if he admitted and acknowledged the ways in which his own private education benefitted him and how that relates to our broader system of education, although that might politicize the darned thing.

UPDATE: Clive Crook writing a few months ago on the urgent need for education reform, another compelling reason to not get in a bother but rather to be ebullient about Obama’s upcoming address. If you’re one opposing Obama’s address, note the stats on America’s standing in the world in education and ask yourself if you’re fighting the right fight.

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Suck it, Franken Haters

Because Minnesota is lucky to have him as their Senator. Watch him defuse rhetoric and go on to have a healthy, reasoned dialogue on healthcare.

(h/t Dan Lehr at NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga)

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Since I posted yesterday about Michael DelGiorno, the embodiment of irresponsible talk radio broadcasting, agitating parents with propaganda and sending them to your kids’ schools, I’ve heard from several conservative friends and acquaintances. They tell me they don’t have a problem with President Obama addressing public school kids next week and encouraging them, in the words of Republican Congressman Congressional Candidate Tim Gobble, “to work hard and stay in school to succeed.”

OK. I’ll buy that. A Tweet here, an email there, a random blog post, all saying that the loud voices you hear equating President Obama’s address and indoctrination don’t speak for them. And I totally believe them. I totally get that it’s a very, very, very vocal minority. But where are conservatives leaders on this? Why are they so silent?!

Are they silent because they are afraid they’ll have to apologize to Rush 24 hours later? Or are they so “disciplined” that they can’t even break ranks to condemn this over-the-top demonization of the President’s intent?

Where is Mitch McConnell? And John Kyl? Hello, Olympia Snowe? This would be a perfect time for Lamar Alexander to peak out from behind the curtain. What about John McCain? Or Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, the ranking member on the Senate Education committee? What about all the elected Republicans who sponsored and/or voted for No Child Left Behind? I know Lindsay Graham has some humanity left in him. And David Brooks and George Will must think this is totally redonk.

Is it true? Are the inmates running the asylum? Are the most thoughtful and/or high-profile conservatives afraid to cross the cable news/talk radio cabal?

Edited: Tim Gobble is not an elected official, he is running for Congress in Tennessee’s 3rd District.

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