Burch: Haslam and the Holy Rollers

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Bill Haslam continues to have high approval ratings — 68 percent overall in a recent Vanderbilt University poll. Haslam is popular with independents (62 percent) and Democrats (60 percent). So unlike reactionary right-wingers who seem to hate moderates and liberals on sight, the majority of Democrats and independents are able to appreciate reasonably sane Republicans. (During the most recent Democratic national convention, Bill Clinton pointed out that he never hated his Republican detractors the way they hated him.)

The Tennessee General Assembly, however, is another story, failing to earn the approval of the majority of Democrats (44 percent) and independents (49 percent). And that’s no wonder, as Mother Jones recently ranked Tennessee’s legislature dead last among the 50 states.

Mother Jones — which sarcastically called its rankings “purely scientific” — suggested that our state legislature is either first or last on the “crazy” meter, depending on whether one prefers to live in an insane asylum.

The magazine mentioned a sex education bill approved this year that referred to “gateway body parts.” This was presumably a blushing attempt to avoid terms like “sex organs” and “genitals.” Also cited were a failed bill to fine citizens for using restrooms that don’t match their birth certificate sex and a conspiracy theory email forwarded by a state legislator that said President Obama planned to stage a fake assassination attempt for political gain.

But this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Tennessee’s legislature is packed with Holy Rollers who seem intent on creating a perfect storm of “thou shalt not” morality bills.

Many Republicans who claim to believe fervently in two things — Jesus Christ and a much smaller, less intrusive government — in reality act nothing like Christ and create bill after nonsensical bill in an attempt to legislate their medieval “morality” on the masses.

As Nashville Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, recently said, “They’re preoccupied with sex up here. We’re about ready to put the turbans on and put the women in burkas, if we keep going at this rate.”

Haslam has also criticized the bizarre bills emanating from the suspiciously Taliban-like reactionaries now occupying Capitol Hill.

But the Holy Rollers are undeterred and hence we have a steady stream of “no hand-holding” and “don’t say gay” and anti-evolution bills that make Tennessee the laughingstock of the nation and the foil of late-night comedians.

And then there are guns. According to the Bible, Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” and “turn the other cheek.” But the Holy Rollers continue to demand the right for citizens to carry loaded weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol — an obviously combustible mix.

Now they want guns in parks, parking lots and universities. And they’re not satisfied with Colts and Magnums. In American bigger is better. So the next logical steps, so to speak, will probably be assault weapons in high schools, grade schools, kindergartens, pre-schools, Sunday schools and maternity wards.

Where the legislature’s madness will end, only God knows.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices

158 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 9:29

I do remember nuns diagramming sentences...long ones....the diagram took up two whole blackboards at times...we copied it into our tablets....dunno if they diagram sentences anymore...it was dry and boring, but we learned from it....they used flash cards a lot too....all kinds of flash cards.

Spelling and handwriting were taught and graded.

The nuns view of history was distorted, of course...but we got a good grounding in the social studies, biased though it was.....they loathed the Bolsheviks....loved the Israelis.

There were no blacks or Hispanics in my school....since my dad was not Polish, I was considered a half-breed...tolerated....my surname was the odd one in the group...I never felt fully assimilated....my Dad was raised as a Protestant....in those days, that fact was a big deal....my Dad converted, but it did not take....he backslid...all the way into agnosticism.

By: bfra on 12/14/12 at 9:30

Loner - Obama says recreational marijuana should not be federal priority. Does that mean he is on your side?

By: yogiman on 12/14/12 at 9:31

Let's say I'm wrong, B2. If so, why doesn't Barry Soetoro (his last officially known legal name) aka Barack Hussein Obama simply throw the proof on the table and say; Here it is, damnit, let's get this crap over with?

It looks like our founders were stupid when they wrote that paper they called our Constitution and they did make two bad mistakes. They allowed slavery to enter this nation and we've been paying for that booboo ever since. And they didn't specify what was required to be a natural born citizen: In words, only.

But the issue has been brought forth several times in the past and determined both parents mush be citizens of the nation in which the child is born in every case. Hell, even our 2008 Senate said John McCain was a natural born citizen because he was born on an American Naval base in a US territory where his father was stationed in service and because both of his parents were American citizens.

So why did they agree Barack Obama was a natural born American citizen with a Kenyan British subject father and American citizen mother? Isn't natural born a little different from a native born? I think so. Convince me I'm wrong.

And actually, where was Barry born? You really don't know, do you?

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:33

I read that nemo...and guess what, now Republicans are saying that he's ignoring the law...which indicates to me that no matter what he does, they detest the man.

That's right, the states-rights advocates who think the Feds should not interfere are now complaining that Feds will not interfere.

Brain damage is the only explanation.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:34

sorry, should have directed that to bfra, not nemo.

By: bfra on 12/14/12 at 9:34

Loner - As far as your wording & writing skills go, those nuns did an outstanding job & I have never seen you comment with nothing but respect for them. That's great!

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 9:35

Obama is a reneger, Bfra.....he promises one thing, does another...if he cracks down on CO and WA, then he's no better than the Republican presidents...like Clinton, the image of BHO as a flaming liberal is complete BS....Clinton signed DOMA into law....both Clinton and BHO had opportunities to reform or end the drug wars....they went with the status quo.

I voted for the Libertarian candidate...the only one to address the failed drug wars.

By: bfra on 12/14/12 at 9:36

gdiafante - In what regards should you have directed that to me?

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:37

You misunderstand, Loner. He's saying that the Feds aren't going to make prosecuting recreational marijuana a priority in the states that passed the law.


By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:37

About Obama not prosecuting the recreational marijuana. I thought nemo wrote that.

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 9:38

Can you source the Obama comment on recreational Cannabis, Bfra?

By: bfra on 12/14/12 at 9:40


By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 9:45

Thank you, Bfra, for the very kind words in your 9:34 post. Over the years, my attitude towards the nuns has mellowed...I was not always grateful and I regret my ingratitude.

The nuns took 3 vows: Poverty, Chastity & Humility. And they stuck to their vows. They were excellent teachers and they worked for subsistence wages....in retrospect, it's now plain to see, they were living saints.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:47

Looks like there's been a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut...WTF is wrong with our society?

By: Captain Nemo on 12/14/12 at 9:49

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 9:34
sorry, should have directed that to bfra, not nemo.

Thanks for clearning that up. For a moment I thought that I was going dargent. ;-)

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 9:59

Thanks for the link, Bfra.

The headline reads: "Recreational marijuana should not be top federal priority: Obama"

That's misleading and ambiguous...a better headline might be: "Obama: Cracking down on recreational marijuana states should not be a top federal priority." Or something along those lines.

Bravo, BHO! Congress needs to amend the law and let the states decide....the feds have enough to enforce already.

By: Mike Burch on 12/14/12 at 11:00


I'm pretty good at math. I own and operate a computer software company. In college I won a scholarship award for having the highest grades in the math/physics/computer science department. That was competing against the smartest students on campus. I said that at 44% and 49% the state legislature FAILED to earn the approval of the majority of Democrats and Independents, respectively. I believe that is a correct statement, both mathematically and logically.


By: Mike Burch on 12/14/12 at 11:03


If this isn't the American you grew up in ... is that because the America you grew up in was Puritanical about sex, racist, sexist and homophobic?

Some of us call moving away from such things "progress."

By: Mike Burch on 12/14/12 at 11:05


You raise a good question. If being able to carry loaded assault weapons everywhere we go is an important, God-given right, why don't judges and government officials let us point loaded assault weapons at them when there are disagreements?

They are perfectly happy if our kids get caught in the crossfire at a beer-serving pizza joint, but they themselves are not brave enough to stand in the crossfire.

Are they "Christians" or raging hypocrites?


By: slacker on 12/14/12 at 11:10

Looks like Mikey.. Tennessee's self-appointed director of ''how it outta be''.. is longing for the days of the Democratic intelligentsia, leading us ignorant, gun loving, carb.eating, but sometimes loveable simpletons.

Gone is the deep-thinker himself.. the honorable Jimmy Naifeh. Gone is the annual Naifeh Family Coon Supper. Gone is the annual push for a state income tax.. yes those were the days, and they're gone.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 11:15

longing for the days of the Democratic intelligentsia, leading us ignorant, gun loving, carb.eating, but sometimes loveable simpletons.

It doesn't matter who's leading, TN will always be largely ignorant, gun loving, carb-eating, loveable simpletons. It's been that way for 150+ years, why stop now?

By: Mike Burch on 12/14/12 at 11:15


If you ask the unanswerable questions about Jesus, to the American Taliban that is like denouncing Mohammed, and once they gain control they will no doubt put an end to such heresies. People who are wrong about everything seldom want to hear their irrational beliefs questioned.

That's why the last election was pivotal, and hopefully indicates that the religious fanatics will not be able to win the presidency as the American public continues to evolve away from blind superstitions.

No one can explain how Jesus can be full of love and compassion, all-powerful, and all-knowing, and yet allow billions of children over 2,000 years to be misled into growing up to participate in holy wars, inquisitions, witch hunts, heretic burnings, the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, slavery, sexism, homophobia, and the events that led up to 911 and the subsequent wars.

I think A. E. Housman may have said it best in his "Easter Hymn":

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.

By: Mike Burch on 12/14/12 at 11:31

Everyone, I don't think Loner is "against" the South, but probably just wants to see things improve here. I don't criticize the South and Republicans because I "hate" them, but because I would like to see things improve. After all, I live here with my family and friends.

I agree with Oscar Wilde who said that only sin was stupidity. The South is full of people who should worry less about other people's love lives, and more about the immorality of bringing children into a world full of guns, violence and wars because macho right-wingers have turned Jesus and the apostles (who were flaming liberals) into a cult of Rambos. If anyone disagrees with Jesus, or fails to believe in him, he sends them to hell. This strange belief led to Native Americans being slaughtered en masse, especially in South America, because if they failed to convert they were going to hell, so what did it matter what happened to them in this life.

When one of the queens of England was asked why she was burning "heretics" at the stake, she pointed out that she was just doing for a few minutes what God would do for all eternity.

Should we be surprised that the disciples of such a mad, violent, unjust God raise their children to commit mad, violent and unjust crimes against Native Americans, African Americans and today Palestinians and other Muslims?

Should we be surprised that the "faith" of the South led to 911 and two catastrophic wars, when so many people believe that God is a racist who favors Jews over non-Jews and will "return" at the end of time to defend Israel by destroying most of the world?

Is there any real likelihood that Jesus, a compassionate man and a man of peace, will return to earth as the greatest mass murderer in the history of the earth, to defend a nation that practices apartheid, ethnic cleansing and what appears to be a slow, grinding genocide of the Palestinians?

I, for one, find it highly unlikely, even if Jesus does exist in another dimension.


By: slacker on 12/14/12 at 11:32

Hey Burch.. you dropped that heavy resume, and it landed on my foot, almost breaking it.
But its ok.. I forgive you.

-The Holy Roller

By: slacker on 12/14/12 at 11:34

Gotta go clean my guns.. hope everybody has a good weekend.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 12:02

Oh god, they're saying that over 20 people were killed in the Connecticut school shooting, including at least 10 kids. I really hope that's not true...This is horrible.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 12:06

I was just reading CNN. Maybe the right will think that if all those other kids had guns to defend themselves this wouldn't have happened. *facepalm*

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 12:07

TN will now starting working on Guns In Schools legislation.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 12:11

As a father of an elementary student, I can only imagine what the parents are going through...your worst nightmare come true.

This has got to stop. We can't just act like there isn't a gun problem in this country.

By: yogiman on 12/14/12 at 12:17

In the American I grew up in, Mike, you kept sex in your bedroom, not in the movies nor on the radio (we didn't have TV back then). It was considered personal and private. But as they say; The times they are a changing so I guess you like to be more 'open' with yours in today's attitudes about it.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 12:20

In the American I grew up in,<?I>

I always knew he was an a$$hole, just didn't realize he lived in one too.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 12:20

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 12:24

Update: 27 killed, 18 children, one entire Kindergarten class still unaccounted for. The gunman was the father of one of the students and walked into a classroom and started shooting.

I have no words...

By: bfra on 12/14/12 at 12:33

gdiafante - There are no words. My compassion goes with the families of these people. Just innocent children.

By: yogiman on 12/14/12 at 12:49

Can any of you "gun lovers" name one situation when a law abiding citizen intentionally pulled a gun one someone and shot them without cause? Didn't think so.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 12:49

Wow......that's beyond words for me....unbelievable......

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 1:11

Yeah, no thoughts about the dead, the parents or anything, let's just score political points. What a worthless SOB...

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 1:15

I was about to type the same thing. No condolences for the families or town, just a bunch of BS about guns. What an effing a**hole.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 1:16

But I'm sure he's a "good christian."

By: yogiman on 12/14/12 at 1:22

To take that dumb remark (to you) a little further, have you ever heard of a law abiding citizen pulling a gun to protect someone else who was being "put in harms way" by a criminal?

Just wondering: What would any of you do if you got in a situation and no one else could help you. Run like hell? Well, unless you can run faster than lightening, you can't outrun a bullet.

Being a man isn't enough for fighting a bullet, kids. If people were only killing others with a gun you may have a slight argument. So should knives also be outlawed? What about ball bats. What about automobiles?

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 1:24

Shut your mouth, yogi. Children were massacred today. I'm not in the mood to hear about your dumbass beliefs or thoughts. Just go away.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 1:26

You have no class at all do you, yogitard? Shut up.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 1:27

Law enforcement sources in Washington said the gunman was in his early 20s and was the father or another relative of one of the children. He had four or more weapons and was wearing a bulletproof vest.

A weapon was recovered at the scene.

According to sources, the event began with an argument with the principal. Some of the staffers were shot first, then the gunman advanced on a classroom, shooting.


By: dargent7 on 12/14/12 at 1:30

The shooting in Conn. by a 20 year old with a .223 rifle (souds lethal) killed 27, 18 children in an Elementary school. What's that age group? 5-9 years old?
And yogi is buying a "unit" for his daughter for Christmas. How poignant.
Guy's 82 and people on this bored actually address his posts.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 1:30

Why in the world would someone intentionally shoot a classroom of kids? I don't know if I will ever be able to wrap my head around this.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/12 at 1:30

18 of the victims were children.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 1:48

I heard that a father of a student was the shooter, well the mother taught there. Apparently her class was the one he started shooting up. That probably explains how people would let him in, it doesn't explain how anyone would let someone in wearing a vest and carrying four weapons.

I doubt that school had much security. My daughter's school is much more tight...the doors are locked, you have to be buzzed in. Then, you have to give your license to the office and there's a security guard there. Amazingly, earlier this year they actually ran a "shooter in the library" scenario with the kids.

My guess is that in Newtown, Connecticut, they didn't think this was an issue.

By: gdiafante on 12/14/12 at 2:02

Scratch that, now I'm hearing only two weapons. I suppose all these preliminary reports will be corrected as the day goes on.

All I can say is that if you have kids, hug them. Tell them you love them.

By: dargent7 on 12/14/12 at 2:03

It's all over all news agencys.
He was 24 and the son of a kindergarden teacher there.
The other parent was found dead at home.
He was found dead at the school.
Again, how much hate can reside in a human to kill 18 children?

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 2:04

I just got back to the keyboard...the Connecticut school shooting ....what can one say....it's beyond tragic.