Saturday, April 18, 2015


           Sarah has a huge school project coming up in which she has to portray Helen Keller before an audience.  Last night we went out for pizza and she surprised me by starting a conversation with Cindy (my lovely and dangerous wife) in sign language. They both know the sign language alphabet, and were spelling their little fingers off all through the meal.  

           I used to think it was annoying when a kid interrupted every conversation two hundred times with questions and comments.  But when said kid pokes your arm to deliver her questions and comments one letter at a time (and you simply must watch intently, even if it makes no more sense than semaphore flags) it can be even more annoying.

          Proud of her initiative, even though I'm pretty sure they were "talking" about me... lots of giggles and hidden smiles during their conversation...

           On the plus side, talking with one's fingers frees up more pizza for the guy who uses actual words.  And Old Chicago pizza is the bomb...


Friday, April 17, 2015



Want to see a conservative's head explode?  

All it takes is one Volunteer State legislator with a set of balls. 

Someone at the Legislative Plaza should suggest this book for our official state book.

Given our history (Scopes Trial of Dayton TN) it's quite fitting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


             I don't know how many seats are available on the Pander Express in Nashville, but they're going fast...

             A couple of weeks ago a committee in the state Senate voted to kill "Insure Tennessee", a  Medicaid expansion program that would rely on complete federal funding.  It has been estimated that over 280,000 low income working Tennesseans would benefit from the plan.  Currently, millions of dollars of state taxes flow daily out of Tennessee to Washington, and from there they are used to fund the Medicaid expansion programs of other states, state's whose governors and legislatures weren't terrified of being associated with Obama's Affordable Care Act exchanges.  Rural hospitals are closing because of a lack of available state funds.

             But Republicans in our state Senate won't bring the matter to the floor for an open debate, so they quickly and quietly killed the bill in committee.  When questioned about his vote to deny Medicaid expansion to needy Tennesseans while simultaneously taking a state funded subsidy for his own health insurance, one Senator called his constituent an "asshole" for even asking.  That's the level of political discourse in the Volunteer State these days.  Protesters have taken to the state capital to hold sit-ins, but they were threatened with arrest if they didn't leave quietly.

              Meanwhile, the state's House of Reprehensibles has been busy, busy, busy!  Lately they've been working to get some new abortion restrictions in place, and before that they were hard at work making sure the NRA convention goers in Music City didn't find themselves inconvenienced by silly ol' laws forbidding handguns in our various parks and bars.  Wrinkles in those bills are still being ironed out, but it's only a matter of time before the gun lobby gets exactly what they're paying for at our Legislative Plaza.

              But that's not why I called you here today...

              The matter that's generating the most heat in our state House today is the revival of an effort to name the Holy Bible Tennessee's "official state book".  Because we don't have one, you see?  And I guess "Atlas Shrugged" has already been taken by some other libertarian tea-bagger infested state legislature.

               I'm having trouble ignoring the irony of this dichotomy.  Good Christians in our legislature want to flaunt their religious bona fides by getting their particular holy book enshrined in our state's ledger.  Meanwhile, the "least among them" beg for lawmakers to make critical life and death medical care insurance available to low income families.  And make no mistake about it... their failure to expand Medicaid coverage in Tennessee has and will contribute to the deaths of hard working Tennesseans.

               It's hard to put a visual out there for the number of people who need Insure Tennessee's enactment.  A quarter of a million people is a lot of folks.  I like to dumb things down to visuals local people can relate to, so I tell them that's about three Neyland Stadium's worth of your friends and neighbors, some of whom are dying for lack of adequate medical care.

               But no one seems all that interested in forcing our reticent legislature's hand on Medicaid expansion.  They're a LOT more concerned that some in our General Assembly don't seem to think the Holy Bible is worthy of being named our official state book.

               So the House is debating the bill again.  A full floor debate.  Any representative can speak, for or against.  And in the end they'll all get to weigh in with an official vote, a vote for or against the Holy Bible.  Imagine how that will play in Bean Station...

               Life and death legislation is as dead as some of the people who need it.  And an argument of which holy book is named "official" rages on.

               I just checked the web, and guess what?  Our House has voted 55 to 38 in favor of naming the Bible our state's official book.  The bill now moves on to the Senate.

               You can't make up shit like this... no one would believe you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


           A bill is making its way through our legislature here in Tennessee that would make it possible for a person to purchase a $500 lifetime handgun carry permit, instead of paying $50 per year for renewals.  Given the fact that so many ammosexuals end up killing themselves or one another, this sounds like a great way for the state to make money.  After all, a dead person probably isn't going to renew his permit and cough up another $50, but a LIFER will have paid his or her dues in advance.

            While reading that article, I noticed a little tidbit tossed in at the end of the story.  According to state records, 500,000 Tennesseans currently have valid handgun carry permits.  I pulled up "population of Tennessee" just for shits and giggles, and found the 2014 census listed Tennessee with a population of just over 6.5 million, including children.  Now, I'm not good with numbers, but that's something like a handgun permit for one out of every 13 people in the state.  If you factor out the kids, that ratio climbs even higher.

             So I ask, "What's everyone so afraid of?"

             Several years ago, it was a rare thing for someone to apply for a handgun carry permit.  A person had to come up with a compelling reason to need a concealed weapon on them in public.  A business owner who routinely carries cash late at night, for example, might have a valid reason to arm himself.  A woman who lives alone in a high crime neighborhood might be able to convince the authorities of her need to pack heat.  

             But one out of every thirteen people?

             We're not talking about 2nd Amendment rights to keep a weapon in your home for personal protection, or for hunting purposes.  We're talking about carry permits that allow concealed handguns in public.

              So here's the other question I like to ask whenever I'm face to face with someone who says they simply must be armed at all times:  "Have you ever needed a gun to defend yourself?"  Invariably the answer is "Well, no.  But..." and that's followed by any of a thousand great stories of rape, murder, mayhem, and robberies that might befall them if they ventured out without a gun.

              My follow up question is this:  "Do you even know anyone personally who has had to defend themselves in public with a handgun?"  and they usually don't know anyone who's been in that situation.

              So, few of us have needed a gun in public, and most of us don't even know anyone who has  needed a handgun for protection.

               And yet, there we are, armed to the teeth as we push our shopping carts through the grocery store.

                For some reason, knowing one out of every dozen folks I see in public might be carrying a loaded gun doesn't make me feel any safer.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"OH, SHE'LL NEVER GO TO THAT LAKE WITH YOU. IT'S MUCH TOO DANGEROUS! NO...." (with all the helping hands out of her way, the kid gets her feet wet...)

              A couple of weeks ago, we took our nine-year old niece to meet friends of ours at their Center Hill Lake house, and Sarah got her first official boat ride.  Afterward she told us, "It was just like being in a race car!"

              Sarah's not been allowed to do much of anything in her short lifetime.  Her grandmother was terrified of dark water, and because SHE couldn't swim, Sarah wasn't allowed to go to the lake.  Since moving in with us back in December, we've tried to mark more life experiences off of her lengthy bucket list, and though there are a lot of things yet to do, she's getting little doses of what every kid should have the chance to experience.  We've yet to take her to the ocean, and she's not yet been on a camping trip.  But those things are coming.

              Last Saturday we went back to the lake to meet our friends, and were amazed when Sarah agreed to hop into a two-person kayak with their youngest son.  She started the kayak ride with a white-knuckle death grip on the sides of the boat, but before long found her own paddle and helped move the kayak around the cove.  After a boat ride to another cove, she jumped into the shallow water right alongside their boys.  

              It's a lot like watching a caterpillar leave the chrysalis...  you just know there's a beautiful butterfly waiting to take wing.