Monday, January 07, 2008

And the first shot is fired

When the Democratic Leadership in Nashville are afraid that they aren't going to get their way and that the public may turn against one of their prerogatives, they nearly always lash out and accuse those who speak out against them of being "partisan," while they themselves are the guardians of decency and bi-partisanship. The political weapons of the majority are old, tired, and are growing increasingly ineffective in this age of the New Media and a clearly Republican-leaning Tennessee political blogosphere. Nonetheless, the constant accusation of the opposition being "partisan" is yet again being levied by the Democratic Speaker of the House:
As you can imagine, the differences between Democrats and Republicans can be as stark as day and night. While we do have some House Republicans who act responsibly, there are a few who choose to let distorted partisan motives rule their every move, regardless of the merits of important issues.

Yet when it came time to provide the necessary funding, a number of House Republicans didn’t have the stomach to do the right thing. In all twenty-two House Republicans decided that funding Tennessee’s teachers and students wasn’t quite that important. However, thanks to a majority of Democrats and a few even-minded Republicans, we passed the Schools First Act and made sure the teachers and students of Tennessee got the funding and resources they need to succeed.

What Jimmy Naifeh does not mention, of course, is that one of the prime reasons those Republicans voted against the BEP funding money is because in the end, many Tennessee children would be (and are) getting the short shrift under the Governor's plan. Kids in rural counties are being given far less of the pie than children in Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, and Shelby Counties. Those of you who live in those counties may think the revised BEP is fine and dandy, but if you live in a rural county like I do you see the results of a State system that disproportionately favors urban schools in a State where a very large number of our children still live in a rural or semi-rural setting. That wasn't the only reason that many Republicans voted against the BEP funding-the other reason was because the Governor's tax projections turned out to be way off, as many Republicans knew they would be.

Republicans aren't free to be themselves in the world of Naifeh, for if they vote against his plans they are being "partisan," but he was not being partisan in the least when he listed the names of the 22 Republicans who stood up to vote against him-most of those people are on his hate list anyway, as he is well aware that those folks often use him as a campaign ploy to great effect. Jimmy Naifeh can't stand it that with every Republican who dares to stand against him, his influence is eroded. With former Lieutenant Governor John Wilder (D-Mason) replaced by Republican Ron Ramsey of Blountville last year, Naifeh's nearly absolute power over the affairs of this State was significantly checked by a cognizant Senate Speaker. Since Naifeh, like most legislative Democrats on the Hill, has known nothing in his career or his lifetime but Democratic majorities, the notion that Republicans effectively control the State Senate (and that is likely to be solidified in November) horrifies him. He can no longer expect that Democratic bills-particularly his initiatives-will get a free ride through the General Assembly. Naifeh's only hope for restoring his bygone influence is to significantly increase the thin Democratic majority in the House.

Far from being "bipartisan," Naifeh demonstrates that he is, in fact, extremely partisan. He rewards those "Republicans" who sell out and support him with goodies and choice committee appointments, and ostracizes anyone of either party (but especially Republicans) who dare oppose his will. He is King Jimmy, and we the peons must bow before his whim.

With the second session of the 105th General Assembly due to convene tomorrow, Jimmy Naifeh has fired the opening shot in what is certain to be an election-year partisan war in which he will attempt to bring down those with enough guts to stand up to his thirst for even greater power. I hope our Republican Leadership stands up to Naifeh and fights him with every ounce of vigor we have.

Jimmy Naifeh has launched the first salvo upon us-let the forces of justice return fire with an unquenchable zeal.



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