Burch: Dark matter detected in Tennessee!

Friday, April 5, 2013 at 12:25pm
By Michael R. Burch

Scientists may be getting close to verifying the existence of “dark matter.” But I’m way ahead of them, as I have detected massive amounts of dark matter here in Tennessee ... lurking deep inside the super-dense skulls of conservative legislators.

Conservatives by definition want to “conserve” things. What right-wing Tennessee legislators want to conserve above all things is the money of their rich patrons, regardless of how many ordinary Janes and Joes may end up suffering or dying as a result. Now that Tennessee’s Republicans have an oxymoronic “super majority,” they seem to be bent on killing off as many “unproductive” citizens as quickly as they can, by advancing “business friendly” legislation that strips us of our rights and legal protections.

Take, for example, tort reform as it applies to Tennessee nursing homes. The elderly residents of nursing homes are “unproductive” and thus in the crosshairs of trigger-happy Republicans.

At the same time that Tennessee has been moving toward less rigorous (i.e., more lax) regulation of nursing homes, new caps on legal damages are making it much harder for patients and their families to sue negligent operators. A possible — perhaps likely — consequence is that more elderly nursing home patients will suffer and/or die prematurely.

Tennessee tort law, revised in 2008, 2009 and 2011, currently caps pain and suffering claims against nursing homes at $750,000, with a higher $1 million cap applying to limited types of cases.

According to Nashville attorney Randy Kinnard the updated law “has made it virtually impossible, in some cases, for attorneys to recover a reasonable amount of money for the victims and their families.”

Mark Geller, a Memphis lawyer, said that the law allows nursing home operators to calculate the value of a patient’s life (and death) in advance: “A person’s life is worth $750,000. That’s it.”

There has been a recent push by Tennessee legislators to reduce the cap to $300,000. Because investigations of nursing home deaths can be very expensive, and because the damages remaining after expenses must be split between plaintiffs and their lawyers, many cases that went to court in the past would undoubtedly fall by the wayside under such a ridiculously low cap.

And the problem is not limited to nursing homes. According to John Day, a prominent Nashville attorney, the Tennessee legislature “is determined to change the rules of tort litigation for the benefit of defendants and those who would be defendants.” Day points out that medical malpractice claims filed in Tennessee are already down about 20 percent “mostly as a result of changes to the health care liability laws in 2008 and 2009.” Day predicts that filings “will continue to decrease given the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2011, which places artificial caps on damages in all tort cases and makes other anti-patient changes to our law.”

Meanwhile, Tennessee nursing homes already rank near the bottom nationally in important statistical categories such as registered nurse hours per patient per day, according to data compiled by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report published in August 2009, Tennessee is the worst state at identifying poorly performing nursing homes. In a 2008 report, the GAO’s auditors found that Tennessee inspectors missed 26.3 percent of serious deficiencies: those that either caused actual harm or placed patients in immediate jeopardy.

Without the threat of lawsuits things may get even worse, according to people in the know, such as the advocates and lawyers who work on behalf of the victims of nursing home negligence. Furthermore, many Tennessee nursing homes now require patients and/or their families to waive their rights to trials as a prerequisite to admission.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s election campaign collected more than $28,000 from the state nursing home association PAC. Speaker Beth Harwell’s campaign took in $11,000. And so it goes.

Dark matter may help hold the universe together, but here in Tennessee it seems more likely to make things fly apart.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

28 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 4/5/13 at 11:22

This Governor and Legislative Branches have hurt the average Tennesseans much more than they know. But as time goes on, more and more will know when they are denied when the bottom line is given to them. Haslam has protected his family and businesses well. Every bill that he has signed takes care of his family and their wide-interests. Tort reform was one that he could not sign fast enough.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/5/13 at 1:56

Anyone who enters a nursing home and that includes Richland place (nursing home to the wealthy) without Alzheimers is subjecting him or herself to cruel and unusual punishment.

Then again anyone who considers him or her self a productive and self supporting American and considers Mike Burch a worthwhile human being should get a 10 year sentence to a nursing home.

By: govskeptic on 4/5/13 at 2:35

So, another bad situation the sole fault of the GOP and their voters who are all
accused of only being for the rich. The top 2% of wealth are made up of as
many Democratic voters as Republican voters, but according to Mike's weekly
logic the GOP voters constantly vote against their own interest. Makes sense
since a majority of those votes are against their own financial interest, but
based on many other serious reasons and issues.

By: Loner on 4/6/13 at 7:05

In the Bible Belt, the right to life only applies to the unborn....once born, you have the right to keep and bear arms .....and that's about it.

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 7:33

Don't you think everyone should abide by our Constitution, Loner? Read a little more history, Loner. History, plus what others have said (including his wife and himself) will tell you Barry Soetoro aka Barack Obama is a usurper.

If you think "your man" was officially elected, you need to re-study the politics of civics. You must be eligible to run in a race..., any race; political or foot.

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 7:36

Bye the way, Loner, did you see Michele Obama comment about being a single mother? Was that comment as wrong as her saying they got 'shots' to go through Africa to his "home country" Kenya?

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 9:28

Interesting, Loner. Want to compare Bush with Obama on today's issues? Go to

By: dargent7 on 4/6/13 at 11:09

As Obama is President to 320 million people pulling at him at every turn, Michelle is like a 'single mother". He's always out of town.
As far as shots, maybe all Kenya tourists/ VISA get shots to protect from malaria, dysentary, mad cow...whatever.
By the time you pull your head out of your ass, he'll be reading at his presidential Library.

By: Ask01 on 4/6/13 at 11:33

There will be a reckoning eventually.

Probably when those who blindly support the current trends in Tennessee government find themselves the victims of the legislation they so rabidly defend.

Perhaps when a loved one is the victim of shoddy care at the only facility they can afford and they are informed their loved was not worth enough to be treated. Plus, they can sue, but can only recover a maximum of a $1.98 per the Tennessee legislature.

Better yet, when they are rendered unable to work due to a botched medical procedure and told the law will only allow them to recover a pittance. Sorry for the pain and suffering. If you try to get better painkillers, we'll arrest you for seeking relief. Oh, by the way, we are denying your claim for benefits. We must protect the corporate profits and you aren't worth the expense.

This would be a wonderful turn of events except many who opposed the legislation would suffer also. If we could limit the damage to only those blinder wearing middle class toadies who fantacize they are part of the upper class and rail against the poor, unemployed, and less fortunate, I could support that legislation.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/6/13 at 1:36

Ask01, I think there will be a reckoning alright. Perhaps it will be worse than you have predicted when all of these fringe right wingers find themselves in Left Field and in the middle of a storm. The result will be much worse on them, because they were not prepared for what their masters will unleash on them.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/6/13 at 1:41

By: dargent7 on 4/6/13 at 12:09

By the time you pull your head out of your ass, he'll be reading at his presidential Library.

That will never happen d7, because his head has been buried up there for so long, it has become one component. He scratches his butt, his nose bleeds.

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 3:15

Do you mean he's going home to Kenya when they complete his library, dargent7? I sure hope you're tight. I hope he doesn't stay here usurping the office two times. And maybe the Electoral College and the Senate will go home with him for helping him pull his usurpation off.

By: pswindle on 4/6/13 at 3:57

Yogi, are you my mean old Uncle? You sound just like him. We put him in a home years ago. He still thinks that the Nazis are coming. Remember, the Nazis tried to rid the human race of people that they considered "impure."

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 4:20

True, pswindle, they did. But they failed, didn't they? Have you ever wondered why they failed if they was so right? Could it have possibly been because they were so wrong like you all are on the Obama situation?

Haven't you ever stopped to wonder why Obama has never shown his true identity?

My only thoughts can be you and your fellow posters on this site are in the party with him and I don't mean the democratic party even though it's basically not for a democracy any more.

You had better wake up and try to do a little thinking, pswindle.

You know, it's funny, y'all constantly ridicule me for my postings calling them ridiculous and claiming you have "told" me several times he won the office legally. But you constantly refuse to repeat your remarks to prove to me you are right... one more time.

Yet, I have constantly given all kinds of evidence he is in that office illegally by quoting him, his wife and the wording in his autobiography.

So which one of us is right? Give me your "proof" again... if you have any.

By: pswindle on 4/6/13 at 4:53

I have read your websites, but they are written without proof. They are opinions, and that makes them fiction. I have read books on the President and his Mother, and they are full of facts. You have to broaden your readings.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/6/13 at 5:02


If it doesn't pictures he is lost. Maybe that is it....he was on the Lost island.

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 7:01

What kind of proof do you want, pswindle? Don't you even believe his auto biography?

And you obviously haven't seen him or his wife on TV making the statements I have heard.

I've given all kinds of evidence but you don't seem understand what evidence is.

You and your "buddies" on this site had better wake up, pswindle, unless you want him as your dictator in a communist nation.

Question: Why did he advertise he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii?

What law made him a naturalized citizen after he became a citizen of Indonesia?

Again, do you even know who that man is? Didn't think so.

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 7:04

By the way, pswindle, what books have you read on Barry and his mother? I'd like to read them, also. Will they give more facts than his autobiography?

By: yogiman on 4/6/13 at 7:41

Another point, pswindle: If Barack Obama, Sr. was Barack Obama II's father, he could not get more than dual citizenship.

As has been brought forth, and highly possible, Frank Marshall Davis could be his father. If he was, and he was born in Hawaii, he would have been a natural citizen; but when he was adopted by his Indonesian stepfather, he lost that status. If he repatriated back to his American citizenship, he could only become a naturalized citizen; certainly not a natural born citizen.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/7/13 at 6:37

Speaking of. "dark matter" I have always wondered why "Africans" were chosen for slavery by the Euros as opposed to other races?

By: yogiman on 4/7/13 at 6:56


I believe they were chosen as slaves because of their lack of education and the ways they lived in the jungles of Africa in that time frame.

According my "old" history lessons, the tribes fought among themselves with the winners taking the losers as slaves. They kept some and sold some, which brings the question: Where did they spend their money? What did they take as pay for them?

By: Rasputin72 on 4/7/13 at 8:59

Yogi, Are you saying that Africans had a culture that lent itself to potential slavery?

By: yogiman on 4/7/13 at 9:13

From what I read in history 75 years ago, Rasputin72; yes. There was tribes in Africa who fought like it was their normal way of life. I guess you could say it was like the sports competition of today. You win, you get the benefits. And their benefits back then was slaves to be used or sold.

By: pswindle on 4/7/13 at 9:44

Go on the internet and type in books by and about President Obama and Family, including his Mother. There will be several to pick from. But even better, read them all.

By: yogiman on 4/7/13 at 11:21

Which one(s) have you read, pswindle? Which one(s) do you consider better (more accurate) than his autobiography?

By: yogiman on 4/7/13 at 1:32

Which book would you like to refer me to, pswindle; "The Making of An American Dictator" by Terry L. Coonl, "The Secret Life of Barack Hussein Obama" by Mondo Frazier, "Barack Hussein Obama - The Unauthorized Diary of A Muslim President" by Martin and Patricia Reott or "Islam and Barack Hussein Obama; A Handbook on Islam by Stephen M. Kirby, Ph. D.

Or do you have another you prefer... like 'Barack Hussein Obama, He's My Man Anyway He Can'?

By: Rasputin72 on 4/7/13 at 11:50

Yogi, This little forum has only about 13 regular posters. At least six of them would vote for Attila the Hun if he,she or it preached financial and social parity for every citizen.This as close to success as they have ever had in their lives.

They do not care about the birthplace of Barack Hussein Obama, his race, or his politics. What they are for is free stuff and anything that hurts productive America.

By: yogiman on 4/8/13 at 7:00

His race is the only reason they could vote for him, Rasputin72; because they didn't even know who his legal name. And, of course, the freebies.