At The Top, Common Sense Is Far From Common

March 13th, 2020

Upside Down USTN Flags

(published in The Daily Memphian)

common sense | ˌkämən ˈsens | noun

good sense and sound judgment in practical matters

Seen much of that lately?

Your governor is pushing a law to make abortions illegal before women even know they’re pregnant – a law already shot down in other states and as sure to be challenged in court as, well, virtually everything else he’s proposing.

His school voucher scheme – giving your tax dollars to private schools – is already in court, in fact, twice. Memphis and Nashville are suing and parents in both cities are suing. The law he strong-armed to get vouchers rolling smells so bad, the TBI and FBI are having a sniff at the tactics employed to pass it. The money he used for a no-bid contract to administer the program came as an unwelcome surprise to the legislature, and the legislature is investigating the source of that funding ... and the governor is their guy.

Meanwhile, as his vouchers strip money from public schools, he’s asking for some $68 million to fund a mandatory return to a long-abandoned approach to teach reading in public schools by phonics – requiring already stressed teachers to be recertified. Sounds like somebody who’s into phonics has been in the governor’s ear.

And then there’s this.

Despite the loud, righteous and informed outcry of law enforcement in the urban areas of our state, in fact, without ever speaking to law enforcement at all, Governor Lee has proposed putting a gun in the hands of anyone who’s met the stringent requirement of becoming 21 years old without going to jail. No training. No license. Anyone. The two guys arguing over the last roasted chicken at Costco. The idiots weaving in and out of your lane and theirs. The one over there screaming at a waiter or a clerk. The one over here screaming at a spouse, or at someone in a parking lot, or a parent screaming at another parent picking up or dropping off kids at school. Armed and dangerous. Locked, loaded, and carrying legally. 

Unbelievably, it appears this new gun law might have been offered to the legislature because the governor wanted them off his back about family medical leave, refugee resettlement, and maybe vouchers. You know, let me alone, and I’ll let you make having a gun easier than buying peppermint vape.

Last week and at least a month late, Governor Lee got around to announcing a Tennessee task force on coronavirus. That announcement came a couple of days after St. Jude had closed its campus to new visitors, and long after health professionals here and around the world began scrambling for answers based on real science. The task force is a nice list of folks and looked good in the press release, but that task force can’t reopen all the rural hospitals across the state that the denial of Medicaid expansion and the consequential cuts in resources have closed. That task force can’t make sick people stay at home with symptoms when they don’t have insurance and can’t miss work. We have 300,000-plus working Tennesseans we’ve put in that situation. That task force can’t undo what years of science denial, funding slashes in basic services, and the steady march backwards has done to public trust in our institutions.

Yesterday, he declared a state of emergency in Tennessee. I’ll say.

Tennesseans don’t trust Tennessee to take care of them anymore than they trust Washington to take care of them. The same people are in charge in both places.

Tennesseans – hell, all Americans – have been lied to every day from the very top on down about this virus – hell, about everything – so where’s the credibility for the state effort? They see what a cluster the national task force on coronavirus has become, and the bad Saturday Night Live skits they call press conferences, so what chance does Lee’s bunch have?

President Trump actually blamed President Obama for the shortage of coronavirus test kits. In his address to the nation on Wednesday evening, he referred to coronavirus as a “foreign virus,” never missing an opportunity to blame and demonize.

We’re going to have to use our common sense to get through this, and, no, I don’t mean coronavirus. I mean the glaring incompetence, mind-boggling deceit, and spectacular self-absorption of the people running our state and country. Coronavirus is the latest potential crisis to shine a bright light on our dark and dangerous reality. 

Last week as searches continued for the missing in the post-tornado rubble of downtown Nashville and Cookeville, your legislature met to advance draconian laws against women and wild west gun access.

Common sense dictates that the priorities of those leading us aren’t worth following.

I’m a Memphian, I’m being had, and I’m mad.

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