Pat Nolan:Capitol View CommentaryIt looks like those predicting (and lamenting) the advent of high dollars judicial election campaigns are fulfilling their own prophecy.
The Keep Tennessee Courts Fair organization, a bi-partisan group backing the retention (vote yes) of three State Supreme Court justices on the August ballot, says it has already collected $600,000 and has done so in just a few weeks’ time.
Now it’s up to Republican Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and the business groups he’s reportedly organized (to build a no vote to oust the Democratically-appointed Justices) to show the color of their money in a contest that appears the most hotly contested matter on this summer’s ballot.
Hold on to your wallet on both sides!
And then comes the state constitutional questions up for a vote in November. They include another hot judicial matter (the appointment and retention of state appellate judges) as well as another amendment that strips the constitution of any right to an abortion and gives the state legislature more powers to regulate those procedures. Both issues could attract and pump hundreds of thousands if not millions of additional dollars into Tennessee’s political economy (and likely generate still more controversy).
In the meantime, there’s another sign of how contentious and potentially partisan this ouster effort is becoming. It occurred this past week when Republican State Senator Mike Bell (Lt. Governor Ramsey’s roommate during session) announced his Senate State Government Operations Committee will be holding hearings soon about why an ethics complaint he filed against Chief Justice Gary Wade (one of the justices targeted for ouster), was dismissed by the state’s Judicial Performance Commission.
Senator Bell claims says positive comments made by the Chief Justice to a Knoxville newspaper about the other two Supreme Court judges up for the August retention vote (Connie Clark and Sharon Lee) amounted to a candidate endorsement and therefore violated judicial ethics standards. Justice Wade denies that and says he commented only on the overall work product of the judges and was not telling voters how to cast their ballots.
Members of the Judicial Performance Commission sided with Wade and dismissed the complaint 9-0 meaning charges by Lt. Governor Ramsey that the body reprimanded the Chief Justice over the issue are apparently not true. Click Here For More
TN Republicans want to block Obama carbon rules
President Obama’s ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by power plants faces a lot of hurdles, reports Michael Collins, and Tennesseans are among those trying to erect some of those hurdles.
States will be required to submit their own plans showing how they will meet emission targets set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But lawmakers in several states, including Tennessee, are resisting and threatening legal action. The coal industry and other businesses have indicated they also may sue.
Republicans in Congress and some Democrats from coal-producing states also are promising a fight. A bill introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — and co-sponsored by Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — would bar the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions on new and existing power plants unless multiple agencies certify such regulations won’t hurt jobs, the economy and electricity reliability.
…Under the 645-page proposal, which will be finalized next year, Tennessee will have to cut its power plant carbon emissions by 39 percent from 2005 levels. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to most of the state, has said it already meets and is on track to exceed the targets. Click Here For More
It's Easy to be For Coal Power and Against the EPA When You Live in Williamson County
There's a certain kind of argument that gets made pretty frequently by politicians in this state — we saw it with Amazon, it's here in this discussion, and you even see it when people criticize all the social bills we try to pass instead of focusing on jobs — that somehow all jobs, any jobs, are worth protecting, even if the work doesn't pay that well, is back-breaking, and dangerous. So, we end up in this bizarre situation where we rely heavily on a form of power that costs people's lives — both in terrible accidents and health issues — and, instead of being relieved that there's pressure to find new, less dangerous ways of bringing us power, men like Glen Casada are angry.
This is dystopian — like something right out of The Hunger Games. How many asthmatic kids is your cheap electricity worth? How many dead or injured miners? If I can pay a little more and rest assured that another community isn't going to lose 29 people in one swoop, I will. If I can pay a little more and know that people will literally breathe easier, I'm happy to do so.
Why would you fight against this? I genuinely don't understand what moral or political philosophy a man like Casada has that would drive him to demand our state have the right to continue to poison our children and put the people who dig the coal out of the ground in danger. It's especially galling from a man living in one of the richest counties in the country — far away from the plants he's so concerned with protecting. Of course it serves him to try to thwart the EPA. If he loses, all that happens is his power bill goes up a little. If the EPA loses, there's a real human cost. Click Here For More
Gov. Bill Haslam looks over horizon as he runs againTwo months before the Aug. 7 primary and five months before the November general election, Gov. Bill Haslam doesn't sound like his sole focus is on winning a second term.
He sounds like a candidate looking farther out than that.
In his first speeches since officially hitting the campaign trail, Haslam has leaped over small matters — such as what he'd do if re-elected — to big themes such as the direction of the Republican Party and the nation at large.
Haslam seems to want to get in on the conversation being led by major Republican figures such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who barnstormed the state a few days ago; Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentuckian known to drop into Nashville on occasion; and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
While those people court the presidency, Haslam says he's not interested in running for anything beyond governor. But don't believe it. His most recent speeches indicate a politician who wants to keep his options open — if not for 2016, then for 2018 and beyond.
Haslam can help his re-election bid by looking past the immediate horizon. With no major challengers from Republicans or Democrats, Haslam faces little pressure to defend his record in his first term. Click Here For More
Role reversal campaign for Fincher, attacked as Washington insider by challengersFor his part, Fincher says the past four years in the House have been frustrating at times, yet nonetheless productive. Asked to list his accomplishments, he cites the passage of a bipartisan bill that makes it easier for small businesses and startups to raise capital and approval earlier this year of a five-year, $956 billion farm bill.
Still, “We’ve got much, much more to do,” Fincher said. “Our constituents still are hurting.”
On paper, the primary for the 8th Congressional District seat doesn’t look like much of a race at all.
Neither Mills nor Matheny has ever run for public office. Not only do they lack the name recognition that can sometimes give a political newcomer a fighting chance against an incumbent, they don’t have the money that it usually takes to get out a campaign message.
Neither had reported raising any campaign money through the end of March, the most recent period for which reports are on file with the Federal Election Commission. Fincher, by contrast, had more than $2.3 million in the bank during the same reporting period. Click Here For More
How the NSA can ‘turn on’ your phone remotelyEven if you power off your cell phone, the U.S. government can turn it back on.
That’s what ex-spy Edward Snowden revealed in last week’s interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. It sounds like sorcery. Can someone truly bring your phone back to life without touching it?
No. But government spies can get your phone to play dead.
It’s a crafty hack. You press the button. The device buzzes. You see the usual power-off animation. The screen goes black. But it’ll secretly stay on — microphone listening and camera recording.
How did they get into your phone in the first place? Here’s an explanation by former members of the CIA, Navy SEALs and consultants to the U.S. military’s cyber warfare team. They’ve seen it firsthand.
Government spies can set up their own miniature cell network tower. Your phone automatically connects to it. Now, that tower’s radio waves send a command to your phone’s antennae: the baseband chip. That tells your phone to fake any shutdown and stay on.
A smart hack won’t keep your phone running at 100%, though. Spies could keep your phone on standby and just use the microphone — or send pings announcing your location. Click Here For More
Colleges are full of it: Behind the three-decade scheme to raise tuition, bankrupt generations, and hypnotize the mediaThe price of a year at college has increased by more than 1,200 percent over the last 30 years, far outpacing any other price the government tracks: food, housing, cars, gasoline, TVs, you name it. Tuition has increased at a rate double that of medical care, usually considered the most expensive of human necessities. It has outstripped any reasonable expectation people might have had for investments over the period. And, as we all know, it has crushed a generation of college grads with debt. Today, thanks to those enormous tuition prices, young Americans routinely start adult life with a burden unknown to any previous cohort and whose ruinous effects we can only guess at.
On the assumption that anyone in that generation still has a taste for irony, I offer the following quotation on the subject, drawn from one of the earliest news stories about the problem of soaring tuition. The newspaper was the Washington Post; the speaker was an assistant dean at a college that had just announced a tuition hike of 19 percent; and the question before him was how much farther tuition increases could go. “Maybe all of a sudden this bubble is going to burst,” he was quoted as saying. “How much will the public take?”
Oh, we would take quite a lot, as it happened. It was 1981 when the assistant dean worried in that manner—the very first year of what was once called the “tuition spiral,” when higher ed prices got the attention of the media by outpacing inflation by a factor of two or three. There was something shocking about this development; tuition hadn’t gone up like that during the 1970s, even though that was the heyday of ascending consumer prices. Click Here For More
Thanks to loophole, Whole Foods already selling wine in TennesseeBy the time Gov. Bill Haslam had signed the wine-in-grocery-stores bill, Whole Foods had been selling wine in Memphis for a little more than two months and in Nashville for even longer.
The grocery chain found a loophole in the controversial Tennessee law prohibiting the sale of wine in grocery stores: In Memphis, they opened The BBQ Shack, an i n-house restaurant at the city's new whole foods.
The loophole is known as "cork and carry." A restaurant – including ones in grocery stores – can sell wine bottles that have been uncorked and tasted to customers with a grocery or restaurant food item on their ticket. Click Here For More
Crockett Policy Institute