A Tennessee Political Primer

If you are an ideologue, living in Tennessee can be maddening.  For all the talk about our fair state being a “red state”, such labels are superficial and do not tell any kind of meaningful story.  We do not, nor have we ever run super-hot or super-cold.  When it comes to political passions, Tennessee has always been lukewarm.  A cursory look at our history bears this out.

  • Although not a state at the time, the citizens of what would become Tennessee were divided about the Revolutionary War. 
  • Tennessee did secede from the union in 1861, but did so tepidly.  It was the last border state to do so.  It was also the first state to rejoin the union.  Because Tennessee had ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it was the only one of the formerly seceded states that did not have a military governor during the Reconstruction period.
  • For all of our bible-thumping conservative misogyny, Tennessee became thirty-sixth and final state necessary to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provided women the right to vote.
  • The TVA and segregation guaranteed that politics in Tennessee would be dominated by the Democratic party throughout most of the 20th century.  Yet, even that must be understood in the context of machine politics, specifically Memphis Boss Ed Crump.  The state has had a political division by geography since before the civil war.  As one heads west, Republican control cedes to Democratic control (with the exceptions of the donut counties around Memphis and Nashville).
  • Starting in 1970, the governorship has ping-ponged back and forth between the two parties:  Ellington (1967-71) D,Dunn (1971-75) R,Blanton (1975-79) D,Alexander (1979-87) R,McWherter (1987-95) D, Sundquist (1995-2003) R ,
    Bredesen (2003- ) D
  • Our state legislature is split.  And, even when Republicans first took control of the state Senate in 2005, they still elected John Wilder (D) speaker.
  • Although it could be argued that Tennessee is very conservative religiously, such a statement is relative.  Compared to, say, Connecticut?  Certainly.  Compared to Alabama?  I don’t think so.  You can point to Stokes Scopes (that’ll teach me to write a post before two cups of coffee…) all you want, and you’d be showing your ignorance.  The Scopes monkey trial was a publicity stunt – a way to spur economic development.  Not to say we don’t have our share of fundamentalists.  But, even our fundamentalists are lukewarm.

There are many examples I’m leaving out, but, you get the picture.  Check out this page for a really cool timeline of TN political history, starting in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

To understand politics in TN, you need to look at power.  The most powerful Republicans are moderates, the most powerful Democrats are moderates.  Tom Tancredo and Cynthia McKinney would not cut it here.  We have our occasional Campfield and Cohen, but you will never see a mercurial type like that ascend to the top of their party here.  They are distractions. 

Tennessee is, no matter what the two parties try to claim, a moderate state.  I like it that way.

How About A Cheap Trip To Spain?

Later in the year, maybe the fall when Lintilla has some time built up, we might seriously consider this program.

From a Kiplinger’s article  about it:

I never thought my foreign-language deficiency could be an asset. Not speaking Spanish helped me and my wife, Alice, land a free week at a four-star resort in western Spain. All we had to do was talk — in English.

Madrid is headquarters for two companies that recruit English speakers to help improve the conversational English skills of Spaniards, most of whom are employees of multinational corporations. These are English-immersion programs, so the companies prefer that the instructors not know Spanish. English speakers aren’t paid, and we had to pay for our airfare.

A four-star resort in Spain, for talking?  Where do I sign up?  With the dollar at incredible lows against the euro, any trip to Europe would be out of the question, otherwise.

AND, once you’ve “graduated” from this program, you can sign up to go to Italy (which is where we really want to go).

Yes, you have to work to earn your keep, but that work is talking.  Something Lintilla and I do entirely too much, naturally.

Lots Of Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts for your Thursday.

Things around my house are slowly getting around to normal.  For those of you who know me personally, sorry I went off the deep end lately.  I need to remember the number one rule of swimming: if you are drowning, stop flailing.

In my house, Jesus Christ is savior.  He does however, have a new assistant: Effexor.  Hopefully, my insurance will pay for it (right now, they are balking).

Lintilla is officially back to her job today.  This is her first day doing actual patient care, after 3 months of being away from it.  She promised me she’d take it easy.

Jesus’ other assistant is snow.  My kids were so excited to be out of school yesterday, they got along the entire day.

Lost in my own drama is the incredible story of my friend Mark Mills.  If you haven’t yet, go to Ginger’s site and read it.  When it comes to prayer, God may not be an ATM, maybe we can’t name it and claim it, but sometimes, I think, He uses prayer (and answers them) to remind us of His awesome power, if we will only bend our knees to Him.

You may not like Michael Medved, but this post is very wise.

Note to Tennessee liberals: YOU are supposed to be the “intelligent” ones.  Why do you allow your “lessors” to play you like a cheap violinevery presidential election cycle?  Lots and lots of people who didn’t know Obama’s middle name do now, because of your very vocal outrage.  It doesn’t matter if you are “right”, and that this is a dirty trick.  You guys better get out in front of the “Obama is in league with or will be soft on Islamists” meme, or you will lose.  I don’t care how outraged you are.

Update – Read this article  for context.

My ambition overcame my phobia last week.  I actually picked up the phone, dialed a number, and after a few days of phone tag, talked with a producer at NPR about an Ugly Betty story they are doing.  (No, they aren’t featuring ME, although they should – my task is to find fans in the LA area for them to interview).  It was during this conversation that I realised I have an “NPR” voice.  I don’t use it very often, but it’s funny how I have many different “voices” I can pull out like tools from a toolbox.

Can’t the Preds play defense anymore?


I find it weird that our sexual attractions age with us.  Yesterday, while watching some commercial for this or that wonder-drug, one of the smiling faces was a partially white haired, fifty-something woman.  And it shocked me when the thought popped into my head:  “She’s pretty hot!”  Later, the news did a story on the MTSU poll, and it showed the students conducting the poll. 

Now, in my world, “college girls” and “girls who are pleasing to look at” were synonymous.  But yesterday, I looked at the young ladies and saw little girls.  To be attracted to them would make me feel like a dirty old man.  What the heck is happening to my brain?

That’s all I’ve got right now.

Just A Little Clarification

I have a menopausal wife, aging parents, and two kids who are entering adolesence. 

I don’t see how you could have any questions, but I’ll continue.

It’s all drama around here, all the time.

I hit a moment yesterday, when I had just completed a horrible day at work.  Our kids’ school presented us with an unexpected bill for $1600, which we do not have right now.  I’ve never, in my entire adult life, had someone tell me I owe them money, and not be able to pay it immediately.  We also just paid a $450 electric bill.  That’s not a typo.  We’ve  had car repairs, extra doctor bills, kids that need shoes.

Our finances are so screwed up, we’re two months behind on our tithe.  Don’t worry, I’ve worked out a debt repayment plan with God.  In fact, we’ll catch up with everything in time.  But it’s a punch in the stomach in the here and now.

So, back to yesterday.  All of this is simmering in the back of my mind, and I’m exhausted from the hard day at work,and I’m frantically trying to get the kitchen clean and get dinner ready, while at the same time trying to get a post done for UBN (I have to get six done per week), and watching the clock because I had to be somewhere at 6 and I knew I wouldn’t be back home till after my normal bedtime. 

I have to be somewhere or host someone for the next 7 nights.  Then it begins again.  I just can’t say no, and somehow I end up volunteered to be somewhere every night.

Anyway, the kids were fighting and yelling and screaming at each other, like they have been doing nonstop for the last 6 months or so.  Lintilla called, and started in on me like she has for the past couple of months.  The doctors will not let her take hormone replacement therapy, and she’s been wildly emotional for quite a while now.  I know it’s not her fault, but it’s tough being on the receiving end of it all the time., with everything else going on.


I had a meltdown.

My mind simply refused to allow any more stress into it, so it just shut down.

I’ve have a really weird habit since I was a kid: when folks I love are upset or mad, I cook, clean, and do laundry.  I’ve been doing a lot of this lately – but the people in my household are still constantly upset.  Like my mother, I’m wired so that my happiness is directly tied to the happiness of the people I love.  I’ve run myself ragged trying to will three people (whose hormones are all out of whack) into happiness.  And I’m making myself miserable in the process.  See what’s wrong with this picture?

I’m stretched so thin, you can see through me.

And I feel guilty for feeling this way, because I know many have it far worse than I do. 

Funny, my mom absolutely lost her mind when she was about my age – and I’m just like her.

So anyway – I can’t go on like this indefinitely.  I can’t do ALL of the housework, and all of the cooking, and be responsible for the happiness of each member of the household, and be ‘the man’ at work, and fully devote myself to band and church and ministry, and play peacemaker to every friend and family member, hell, every person on the planet.  There just isn’t enough me.  I have to draw some lines.

So, I need to take a step back, to find a way to undo my wiring that causes me to be depressed when any member of my family or any of my friends is anything but happy, to finally get the kids to help around the house, to tell church, or the band, or my kids’ school every now and then that I just can’t make some event or other without feeling guilty.

I can go forward this way or that way, but what I cannot do is continue going the way I was going.

That’s what I meant.

On a happier note: Warrior is home already!  6 days in the hospital – it’s a miracle.  How can I be upset in the face of that?  I’ll post more on that tomorrow.

Sorry about the vague post earlier.  I hate those.  I hope I’ve cleared some things up.

Dear Life, You Win

There are two things I am absolutely sure of.

1) In all of history, there has only been one person capable of absorbing all the pain and troubles of the world and making everything right.

2) I’m not Him.

I need to do some thinking.

As It Should Be

The Hannah Montana movie will be filmed in Tennessee.

If you don’t have a tween, especially a girl tween, you may have no idea how big a deal this is.  A celebrity just can’t get any hotter than Miley Cyrus is right now.  Is she primed for overexposure?  With adults, yes, but there’s no such thing with 9-12 year olds.

Her Dad used to live not two miles from my mom and dad’s old place.  I wonder if he still owns that Sneed Road property?  Maybe they can do some filming there.  Paging Sista?

Will this mean there will be Brooke Shields sightings in Nashville? 

Mark my words – if they film a concert sequence at the Opry, there might be riots over tickets.

Posted in Movies. 6 Comments »

Just Peachy

I’m pretty much a zombie today. At about 2:45 am this morning, our dogs went insane. They started barking a bark of immediacy, so I had to get up to make sure everything was all right.  Was it an intruder?  A fire (God forbid).  Something wrong with one of the children?

I looked the house over from end to end, and found nothing out of the ordinary.  but my dogs would not stop barking.  Then I noticed that our oldest dog, Missy, was “speaking” with a bark that was rather strange:  mixed into about every third yelp was a snort.  Even in my Ambien-induced stupor, I could tell that her heightened sense of smell was setting off an alarm in her.

So I stopped using my eyes, and started using my nose.  And sure enough, it was unmistakable: Pepe Le Pew had left a calling card in our front yard.

It’s a good thing I didn’t let the dogs out during all of this.

The dogs were inconsolable; we couldn’t stop the barking.  We don’t have a huge house, but the rooms are quite big, and have hardwood floors.  Every noise echoes, and it is impossible to ignore barks. 

So this went on for about 30 minutes.  It’s a good thing our neighbors didn’t call the police on us.

So, now we have not only coyotes and a fox to worry about (along with a groundhog we don’t worry about – he’s too fat to hurt anything), we have a skunk setting up residence in our neighborhood.  Great.

Our dogs do not do leashes well (neither do we), and invisible fences might keep our dogs in our yard, but they don’t keep critters out.  Looks like we’re going to have to put up an unsightly chain-link fence this spring, if not sooner.

Living in West Meade is wonderful, but sometimes being surrounded by little mini-forests, and the critters that live in them, is a little rough.