A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Yager awarded for help with jail overcrowding

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We have not previously published much laudatory verbiage concerning Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul, but his recent accomplishment has shown that he has inherited at least some of his daddy’s political skills. We refer, of course, to his day-long filibuster.

As regular readers know, we have long objected to what has been called a filibuster, when not a word is uttered by the purported filibusterer. And we have criticized Harry Reid for not enforcing the ancient and historical precedent whereby in order to filibuster a senator, or group of senators must take the floor and hold it, thereby bringing the senate to a stop until such time as the floor is surrendered.

Somewhere in the capitol building there is a room containing enough cots to accommodate all the senators for round-the-clock sessions during a real filibuster. The late Strom Thurmond once held the floor single-handedly for a full twenty-four hours.

Although Sen. Paul talked for just over half of Thurmond’s record, it was so impressive, so novel, so refreshing that he has received encomia from various unlikely sources, including this writer. In view of his reception, we suspect that his performance will be emulated by several of his younger colleagues.

There may be hope for the Senate yet.
The faithful reader will recall that a few issues back we titled our column, “What mischief will legislature produce?”

Well, since that time there have been several interesting developments giving a partial answer to our query. For instance, the News Sentinel in its issue of 11 March, in a front-page article by the paper’s Nashville Bureau chief, Tom Humphrey, ran this headline: “Haslam opposes 22 pending bills.”

It seems that the governor has already found that 22 proposed laws pending in the Legislature, which the governor’s own party has absolute control over, are what he and his spokesman, David Smith, said are philosophically objectionable. Considering some of the things that the governor has gone along with, these 22 must be real “corkers!” It will be interesting to see whether the Republican senators and representatives pay any heed to these philosophical objections by their party’s leader.

Then there is the matter of whether grocery stores can be licensed to offer wine for sale, in addition to their offerings of those other types of “soft” alcoholic liquors: beers, ales, stouts, etc. Despite the fact that both legislative houses are dominated and controlled by the Republican members, and the Republican speakers of both houses are ostensibly in favour of the wine sale bill, their members declined to follow their lead. (This seems to be a popular methodology in their party, as U. S. House Speaker John Boehner can testify.)

We would love to know just how much money has changed hands to secure legislative votes for and against this measure. The fact that what the Chattanooga Times Free Press referred to as “the legendary lobbyist for The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, Tom ‘Golden Goose’ Hensley watched proceedings intently” alerts long-time legislative observers to the fact that this was not a “low budget” endeavour on either side.

Government by the people — ain’t it wonderful?

But one of the real “bought-and-paid-for” pieces of legislation that may well have the most direct, and most hurtful, impact on real people who don’t have the money nor influence to stop the corporations and insurance companies from working their will on the law, is the proposed radical change to the Workers Compensation Law.

This new law will deny access to the courts to determine the relief which injured workers are to recover and instead establish a new bureaucracy to make that determination.

It will also change the definitions of work-related injury, and dictate treatment guidelines. The supporters, Republicans, including Gov. Haslam (whose company will no doubt benefit from reduced payouts and lessened insurance premiums) and other business interests claim the changes will make the system more cost-efficient, fair and predictable.

We think that two out of these three characterizations are true — it will cost less, because injured workers will get less money, and it is certainly predictable: one wouldn’t need a crystal ball to predict that the workers will come out on the short end of the stick, and the business and insurance interests will make a mint from it.

The third thing, about being fair we don’t buy, but these folks have their own ideas about what’s fair. If they are getting the lion’s share of the money, they regard that as eminently fair!

Another prong of the legislative weaponizers plan has now raised its unlovely head.

Not satisfied with their guns in bars, guns in schools, guns anywhere, and guns everywhere efforts, they have now decided that knives should also have their legislative imprimatur of approval. We assume this will include swords, switchblades, shivs and stilettos.

Next will probably be brass knuckles, billy clubs, maces, spears, cross-bows and battle-axes.
And so civilization advances apace.
We understand that our former representative in the Congress, Dr. Scott Dejarlais, the crown jewel in the Republican congressional derogatory was to have a major fundraiser in Washington, D.C., this past Tuesday.

We know not how successful this effort was, but it probably pulled in a mint of money, especially since several of the power-house committee chairmen were to host the event.

Of particular interest to us was the fact that the lead host was Rep. Darrell Issa, who is (and here one is tempted to insert Jack Paar’s favourite line, “I kid you not!”) chairman of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. Reform and Oversight are not two activities that one connects with the doctor, are they?
Another curious item touching on the subject of a recent column, viz. the recent front-page story about how our new jail is already overcrowded, holding more prisoners than it is certified for, caught our attention in this past Monday’s News.

This was a picture on page six showing our Sheriff and our Senator together with other unidentified, but official looking men above a paragraph of text which read: “State Sen. Ken Yager was recently recognized by the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association for his public safety efforts, particularly in helping to alleviate county jail overcrowding.”

We would be eternally grateful if either the High Sheriff or Senator Yager would explain to us common peons, who pay their salaries, just exactly what the Senator has done “to alleviate county jail overcrowding.”

We look forward to a full report.