The Means to be Mean


PIECE OF CAKE. Lately, and this is disturbing, I’ve been thinking about Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, as Marie Antoinette, complete with a powdered wig and a cute little stick-on beauty mark, running up and down the halls inviting the poor to eat cake when they run out of bread. But these are not the halls of her Petit Trianon in Versailles at the time of the French Revolution. These are the halls of the state capitol in Nashville at the time of the super majority.

Marie/Brian would not only deny the expansion of Medicaid/TennCare in Tennessee, he would make that expansion illegal. He would deny Tennessee over $6 billion from the federal government to make a point, make the poor even poorer and their healthcare poorer still, and make our county hospitals cut jobs and services to endure $1.3 billion in Medicare payment cuts with no help from the state. A recent study quoted in The Commercial Appeal said all of that would multiply to a $2.3 billion negative impact in Shelby County over the next 10 years. While Marie/Brian plays in the palace/state capitol, some of the poor and some of our hospitals won’t survive this purge.


Maybe Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, could help me pray away these disturbing thoughts – set me straight, as it were – to think about more important things like never ever saying – no matter what – gay.

Oh, damn, I said it. Gay. Gay. Gay. There I go again. Might need professional counseling.

Oh, damn, Campfield’s making that illegal, too.

Maybe Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, could help me reform my thinking – educate me, as it were – by passing education laws that make thinking illegal and benefit their small, well-heeled constituency to the huge detriment of everyone else in Shelby County, and now, the entire state.

Oh, damn, they’ve already been there, done that, and bought the federal court date.

And they’re at it again, proposing laws more narrowly crafted to hit Memphis than our local beers, and more greased for fast passage than the fried chicken at Gus’s in Collierville.

Maybe, even by the time you read this, our ever-so-timid Governor Haslam will have decided to expand TennCare and rain on Marie/Brian’s Tea Party. Maybe he’ll stand up to his own party’s super majority to stop some of the super stupid silliness in Nashville. After all, he’s on the record as being against much of it, flagging proposed laws over and over. And then he signs them.

Oh, damn.

So what should the poor do when targeted legislation contains and isolates them? What should teachers and students do when targeted legislation limits what they can teach and learn? What should people do when targeted legislation tells them who they can like, love – even who they can be? What should the disenfranchised do when targeted legislation denies them the vote? What should the marginalized do when targeted legislation increases the margin?

Let them eat cake.

I’m a Memphian, and this is all very disturbing.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at