Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What’s the purpose of partisan media?

"It’s not to inform, lord knows. It’s not really to persuade, either. Fox News and MSNBC may get a few “leaners” from the other side tuning in from time to time, but spend an evening watching their prime-time lineups and you’ll see that they’re not geared toward reasoning with the center. They know where their bread is buttered.

The purpose of partisan media is to validate the beliefs of readers or viewers, especially their belief that they’re morally superior to their opponents." The Dispatch, Boiling Frogs, Nick Catoggio,  Apr 23, 2024

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Only two of Tennessee's Eight Republicans voted for aid to Ukraine. I am very disappointed in Congressman Mark Green.


by Rod Williams, April 23, 2024- On Saturday, the House passed aid to Ukraine after a six-month delay. It may be too late to save Ukraine; I hope not. 

The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. However, more Republican voted against the aid package than voted for it. Every single Democrat who voted, voted for it. 

 Of Tennessee's nine representatives, only three voted for the aid packet. One was Democrat Steve Cohen and the other two were Republicans Chuck Fleischmann and David Kustoff. 

Rep. Mark Green
voted against aid to
I am not surprised about Andy Ogles and Tim Burchett. I did not expect better. The others I did not know had become such ...? Such what? Isolationist? America Firsters? Peaceniks? Trumpinistas? Doves? Appeasers? I don't know a neutral term to describe them. In the not-too-distant past I would have thought of one who cast a vote against aid to a Democracy resisting aggression from a totalitarian neighbor as a liberal or a leftist. Now, most of the press, and I think most people, consider those who vote this way as "ultra conservatives," or "hard right." 

To say the least, I am disappointed. I am most disappointed in Mark Green. I have always liked Mark. I have contributed to his campaign, attended his campaign functions and his annual fish frys, have heard him talk at functions such as First Tuesday, and I subscribe to his newsletter. I thought I knew him. I viewed him as a level-headed, smart, solidly conservative, defense hawk. I was proud to have him as my congressman. I sort of feel betrayed. It almost makes me miss Jim Cooper. 

This vote further alienates me from the Republican Party and what passes for contemporary conservatism these days. I had already discontinued by financial support for Republican Party organizations. If Tennessee had party registration, this would be the vote that would cause me to change my registration from Republican to Independent. I am out of step with the modern Trump-era Republican Party. I don't feel at home in the Republican Party. I feel orphaned. My tribe moved off and left me. 

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales Blast Fellow Republicans: "I serve with some real scumbags”

Rep. Tony Gonzales

“It's my absolute honor to be in Congress but I serve with some real scumbags. Look, Matt Gaetz — he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties. Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi. These people used to walk around with white hoods at night. Now they're walking around with white hoods in the daytime.” - Rep. Tony Gonzales (link)

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Trump’s Save America leadership PAC spent almost $3.7 million on Trump's Legal Bills in March

 Trump’s super PAC has helped foot his legal bills.

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Don't Freakout about the Proposed Amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code

Scary fear-mongering image used by Tennessee Stands to
generate opposition to updating the Uniform Commercial Code
by Rod Williams, April 7, 2024- Tennessee Stands, the rightwing organization headed by Gary Huble, is raising alarm about proposed amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code. The organization has already convinced 15,000 people to take action urging their lawmakers to vote against the bill adopting the amendments. I doubt that very few of the people motivated by Tennessee Stands to take action know what they are talking about. 

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a comprehensive set of laws governing all commercial transactions in the United States. It is not a federal law, but a uniformly adopted state law. As the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) explains, uniformity of law governing commercial transaction is essential for the interstate transaction of business. Because the UCC has been universally adopted, businesses can enter into contracts with confidence that the terms will be enforced in the same way by the courts of every American jurisdiction. The resulting certainty of business relationships allows businesses to grow and the American economy to thrive. For this reason, the UCC has been called “the backbone of American commerce.” (1)

The ULC was established in 1892 and has been working to harmonize state laws governing commercial transactions since then. Usually, the work of the ULC is not controversial. ULC is a private organization that develops the UCC and then each state may adopt the code. The code was first published in 1952 and forty-nine of the states have adopted it.   The UCC is from time to time amended to reflect innovations in commercial transactions. When it is amended then the amendments are submitted to the states for adoption. Usually this is routine.

A recently proposed update of the UCC has proven controversial. The attempt to modernize the UCC is in response to the impact of new technologies on commercial transactions over recent years including digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. The proposed amendments in short redefines money. This was in response to El Salvadore and Central African Republic adopting Bitcoin as legal tender. As CATO explains, "Because Bitcoin is legal tender in those countries, it should be considered money within the current version of the UCC since it is a “medium of exchange…authorized or adopted by a…foreign government.”

This is a problem. "If Bitcoin is money within the UCC, then it changes how someone would go through the necessary legal steps to secure an enforceable legal claim on Bitcoin as collateral for a loan. Likewise, it changes how jurisdiction is determined, as the location of the money in question is where the UCC assigns jurisdiction. Before Bitcoin became legal tender and thus money within the UCC, the jurisdiction would simply have been wherever the debtor in question was located." (2) This gets complicated, and some argue that this is a good thing for Bitcoin. To dig deeper into this, see the CATO article

Some view the redefinition of money as paving the way for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). There very well may be privacy concerns with CBDC's. However, as CATO concludes, "while the risks posed by CBDCs should not be understated, this change to the UCC does not appear to be the Trojan Horse that it appears to be at first glance."

For more on this issue see, Why Ron DeSantis and Others Are Wrong on UCC's Role in Crypto and CBDCs - Barron's (barrons.com) To read the bill and the legislative analysis see, Tennessee General Assembly Legislation (tn.gov)

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Ethics Complaint filed against Carol McCoy by Arts Commission Employee, dismissed.

Carol McCoy

by Rod Williams, April 18, 2024- Things just seem to not improve at the Metro Arts Commission. I don't see how they could get much worse, but they are not getting better.

The last thing to occur is that an ethics complaint was filed against Carol McCoy, a member of the Metropolitan Arts Commission. The way it looks to me is that she was doing nothing but doing her job as a conscientious member of the Arts Commission. 

Carol McCoy is the former Davidson County Chancellor, who served two decades on the bench. She was first elected Chancellor of the Chancery Court, Part II, Davidson County Tennessee in August 1996 and re-elected Chancellor in 1998, 2006 and 2014. She has an impressive resume and has served on various boards for nonprofit organizations in Nashville.  She was the first female President of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and a founding member of the Lawyers Association for Women. 

Carol has served as a Commissioner on the Tennessee Arts Commission as well as Trustee for Watkins School of Art, Film, and Design. She was appointed to the Metro Arts Commission by Mayor Freddie O'Connell in April 2023, along with three other new commissioners. 

The ethics complaint is that McCoy discussed and voted on matters not on the agenda of Arts Commission meetings thus violating open meetings rules, publicly humiliated a Black female Arts Commission employee by questioning her qualifications and made racist and classist remarks concerning certain members of the arts community.

As to humiliating a Black employee, the employee was the new Director of Finance for the Arts Commission introduced to the Commission during the meetings of November 16, 2023.  The complaint says McCoy "aggressively" asked, "You’re the director of Finance? What qualifications do you have?”. The Complaint says she challenged the qualifications of the Black female employee but not the qualifications of the two White female employees, and this caused the Black employee to become visibly upset and exit the room in tears.

As far as making racist and classist remarks, one of the examples to support that charge is that during a meeting she said the following:

I have been a member of many nonprofits. I don't think I've ever been on a micro agency that has a budget of $25,000. That is not even enough to pay one staff person, so it occurred to me that if you give money to a micro agency or to an individual, how do you do it in such a way it can be accounted for and properly used.

The other evidence to support the charge of racist and classist remarks is that she said this:

People who come in who just want to start a new venture. Their application is woefully poor, you wouldn't award anyone that money until you thought it would be handled properly... The one I remember was the Chinese New Year's festival, it was a little group of people getting together and I think they asked for $5,000 but the grant was just so poorly written, maybe if they'd gone to the center for nonprofits they might have gotten some help.

I can't believe it. In the above examples it sounds like someone simply doing their job. Those are the kinds of questions and comments I would expect from a responsible board member. 

The Metro legal department concluded the complaint, if true, did not violate ethical standards and should be dismissed. On April 5th, the Board of Ethical Conduct unanimously voted to dismiss the complaint (1). 

This is just the latest in the drama that has been going on at the Arts Commission for years. For more on the topic, see the following:


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Mayor Freddie O'Connell's transit plan.

Nashville Banner Executive Producer Demetria Kalodimos interviews Mayor Freddie O'Connell on his transit plan and the November referendum.

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Busy week awaits for Tennessee Legislature

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, April 19, 2024- Several pieces of Tennessee legislation could see action in the next week, with the bills either held from long calendars or intentionally delayed for further discussion.

The state’s amended $52.8 billion budget bill, however, passed both the House and Senate.

The reduced budget comes as Tennessee beat its budgeted tax collections by $17.6 million in March but remains $420 million behind budgeted estimates for the first eight months of the fiscal year.

Next year's budget is $10 billion less than the budget for this fiscal year.

“After years of record-high revenue growth, the state’s revenues have normalized,” said Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson. “We’ve tightened our belts and kept recurring expenses low to alleviate future financial burdens. Despite declining revenues, this budget maintains low taxes while also providing services to those in need, particularly disabled and vulnerable populations.”

Conference committees were named to debate the different House and Senate versions of a franchise tax repeal and rebate with the House version refunding $713.6 million or one year of franchise tax while the Senate passed a version worth three years of franchise taxes for an estimated $1.6 billion.

The House version also requires the companies receiving a refund to be named on the website of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development and those companies to first use any department tax credits to offset the refund amount.

Reps. William Lamberth, R-Portland, Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville and Larry Miller, D-Memphis will be joined by Sens. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, Watson and Ken Yager, R-Kingston.

Progress on statewide educational savings accounts slowed to a halt, with the bills held in Senate and House Finance, Ways and Means without progress and with reports that the bills are close to not moving forward this session.

Meanwhile, a concealed carry bill for school employees on school grounds passed the Senate before the House held the Senate version on the desk.

Changes to the state’s certificate of need laws will next be discussed in the Senate as soon as next week. 

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