Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wine in grocery stores will not happen this year

wine red, white, and food

Support wine sales in Tennessee retail food stores
Dear Red White and Food members,

Thank you for your hard work and dedication this year. You are part of more than 15,000 Tennesseans who have joined and supported the Red White and Food campaign.
Wine in grocery stores was one of the most talked-about issues on Capitol Hill again this year. Not since the income tax debate of the late 1990s has a group of citizens worked so hard to make their voices heard -- and legislators have noticed.

As you have probably learned by now, our House bill sponsor, Rep. David Shepard, withdrew the wine in grocery stores legislation from consideration during Wednesday's meeting of the House State and Local Government Committee. You can read more about his decision to do so here:

Read The Tennessean's coverage

This does not mean that the bill is dead. Unfortunately, it does mean the bill will not pass this year. We are disappointed the Tennessee General Assembly has chosen not to listen to the overwhelming number of Tennesseans who want this change.

At the same time, we believe the legislation will return at some point. Accomplishing this change was going to be difficult in the best of circumstances because of the strong opposition from wine wholesalers and retailers. We just have to keep at it.

The most important outcome of this year's effort is that legislators are talking seriously about overhauling what they believe are antiquated liquor laws. They realize there is a lot of work to be done to make our state's alcoholic beverage laws fair for everyone involved, especially consumers.

We expect to share more information about the legislation in the weeks to come. We will provide you with updates as they become available and will share ways in which you can continue to make your voice heard.

Thanks again for your support.


The Red White and Food Team
Oh well, maybe next year. In Tennessee, when the Babtist and the liquor industry join forces they are to beat. The tide will turn. Tennessee is becoming less Babtist all the time and more people who have lived elsewhere are finding our arcane liquor and beer laws ridiculous.

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Me at the Tea Party

Rod Williams at the Tea Party Nashville
I really was at the Tea Party. The next day, I opened The Tennessean and the Tea Party was front page news with a large picture. I casually scanned the picture to see if I recognized anyone in it, and there I was. They got about two-thirds of my face. My lovely wife, unfortunately, was hidden by the sign.

The Tennessean said about 3000 people attended the event. I think there were a lot more than that. I counted a block of 100 people (ten across, ten deep) and then did some quick calculating and there were about 250 on the steps adjoining the stage on each side of the stage and about another 200 on the hill behind the stage. So, that is 700 people either parallel with the stage or behind the stage. And, the plaza was packed with people spilling into the side streets and into the courtyard of the Memorial building. The plaza is a park about the size of a half city block. It can hold a lot of people. There may have been as many as 8 to 9,000 people there. I certainly think 3000 is a low estimate.
In addition to the people on the ground, there was a constant steam of cars circling the site, blowing their horn in support. Also, there is no way to know how many people would have attended if there was not a shortage of parking. On a work day, Nashville has a shortage of parking, within walking distance. There is a limit to how many extra people can park downtown on a work day. There was no organized shuttle from satellite parking facilities. In any event it was a capacity crowd, well in excess of The Tennessean's estimate of 3000.

If I am not at an event and only read about it, here is my rule of thumb for interpreting news accounts of crowd estimates: If the event is a liberal cause, I cut the reported estimate by a third; if it is a conservative cause, I multiply by three. If it is a non-political event I figure the estimate could be between 50% and 200% correct. Estimating a crowd is difficult no doubt, but I certainly think they underestimated the size of this crowd.

Here is the The Tennesseans coverage of the event:

Riled Tea Partiers rip government spending

By Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • April 16, 2009

Nearly 3,000 protesters gathered outside the state Capitol on Wednesday to take part in a nationwide "Tax Day Tea Party," the latest and largest version of a widespread conservative effort to protest taxes and government spending. [full article]

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Obama’s Gitmo

The Next Guantánamo
The New York Times, Editorial, April 12, 2009

The Obama administration is basking in praise for its welcome commitment to shut down the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay. But it is acting far less nobly when it comes to prisoners held at a larger, more secretive military detention facility at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. [full article]


As a Senator and as a presidential candidate, Obama repeatedly and forcefully said that he thought prisoner held at Guantanamo deserved the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court. Now on the same issue, but a different facility, he is singing a different tune.

Recently the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that non-Afghan detainees at the US Bagram Prison in Afghanistan captured outside Afghanistan had the same due process rights that the Supreme Court last year gave to prisoners at Guantánamo. At issue were three prisoners at Bagram, two from Yemen and one from Tunisia, held by the U.S. military at the Bagram facility in Afghanistan without charges for more than six years. The Court ruled they have a right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The Obama administration is appealing the ruling.

I am not quite sure how I feel about the whole issue of giving captured prisoners due process rights. I oppose extending constitutional protection to captured POW’s. We should follow the Geneva Convention and established rules of war. However, in an unconventional war, how does one determine if someone is an “enemy combatants” or someone who just got rounded up accidentally? When the enemy is not the army of an opposing nation and wears no uniform, it makes the rules a little murky. I don’t want to turn loose terrorist to kill again, however we should not hold indefinitely people who may be innocent. While the issues are not simple, the Court has ruled narrowly and I think wisely. I think the Bush administration was wrong and the Court was correct.

The issue regarding Bagram is exactly the same as at Guantanamo and the position of the Obama administration is exactly the same as the position of the Bush administration. Obama is appealing the ruling and arguing that the ruling would “impose serious practical burdens on, and potential harm to, the Government and its efforts to prosecute the war in Afghanistan.” Does that sound familiar?

The NY Times has taken issue with Obama on his reaction to the court ruling, but most of the establishment is keeping quite. It seems Obama can do no wrong even when his position is indistinguishable from the Bush position on the same issue. Where are all of those voices that condemned Bush? Were they expressing a principled conviction or just anti-Bush? Do I detect some hypocrisy? Either Bush and Obama are right; or, Bush and Obama are wrong.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Am I an Enemy of the State?

The Department of Homeland Security Report Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment (read the PDF file here) is a piece of propaganda that identifies those who hold views contrary to the politically acceptable liberal position as potential terrorist. Those concerned about the threat to their second amendment rights, those who are concerned about illegal immigration, those who oppose free trade, returning war veterans, and those who oppose abortion are profiled as potential terrorist.

Imagine if a similar report had identified gay rights activist, pro-choice advocates, peace activist, and environmentalist as potential terrorist. What would be the response of civil libertarians and the mainstream media?

I am actually somewhat moderate on several of the positions listed in this report. I am pro free trade and I advocate comprehensive immigration reform, nevertheless I feel a chill. I love my country but I am beginning to fear my government. I assume the purpose of this report is to intimidate those who hold views that differ from those of the administration. It contains nothing that could be of value to law enforcement.

A report in the Washington Times says that a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, confirmed that the department's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties raised objections about some of the language in the nine-page report before it was sent to law enforcement officials nationwide, yet it was issued over their objections. This report should concern anyone who loves liberty.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Report from the Nashville Tea Party

Nashville Tea Party Photo from Bob Krumm

What a Party!
4/15/2009 4PM
My wife and I attended the Nashville Tea Party today and it was great! It was a cool, overcast day in Nashville and thousands of people turned out for the event. I was down near the front, near the stage which was on the north side of the plaza with the capitol building in the background. From where I was located, it was hard to estimate the size of the crowd, but the plaza was packed with people, there were people across the street behind the stage on Capitol Hill looking down on the event and people spilling out of the plaza onto the sidewalks and side streets.

Rousing speeches, loud applause, cheering crowds, waving American flags, and home-made protest signs marked the event. The event was peaceful. There had been a fear that planted provocateurs would make an effort to cause embarrassment or foment violence, but the event went off without any significant disruptions. While people were serious about the reason for the protest, the event was festive and cheerful. The crowd ranged in age from toddlers to elderly and was a cross section of Nashville with everyone from men in business suites to a sprinkling of beaded bikers and young people in ragged jeans. The signs ranged from the standard anti-tax message signs, to humorous, to a handful that addressed everything from border security to ant-abortion to abolishing the Federal Reserve, and the esoteric signs that referenced Atlas Shrugged and John Gault. I saw a couple people in full revolutionary war soldier uniform and several people wore funny hats with teabags hanging off of them.

It was a fun event that sent a serious message. I anxiously await to see if the press will give the event the coverage it deserves. This is probably one of the biggest protest ever in Tennessee. This movement has been pretty much ignored by the mainstream media, and I ran into someone last night, who is generally an informed person, who did not even know the event was occurring today. Bloggers and talk radio have made this event possible. The day when the mainstream press can pick what is newsworthy is over, thank goodness.

Photo from Bob Krumm

For more on the Nashville Tea Party:

The People have turned to themselves for leadership

Beneath a cold steel sky, between two and three thousand protesters gathered on Nashville’s Legislative Plaza this April 15th Tax Day to protest high taxes and even higher government spending. The Nashville Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party was part of a nationwide movement of at least 500 Tea Parties, a name that harkens back to the 1773 Boston tax protest that ushered in a decade of lasting and significant change. [Full article]

Nashville Tea Party (view from the capitol building)

Here is another report from the Nashville Tea Party posted on Webutante:

Nothing Prepared Me For the Tea Party Turnout in Nashville Today

IF SOMEONE HAD told me of the enormous turnout that could be expected today at Legislative Plaza in Nashville, I simply would not have believed them. But I would now. This Tea Party was the most heartening, energizing event I've been to in years---if ever. Simply stupendous. [full article]

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Am I a National Security Threat?

Do I fit the profile? I respect the Second Amendment. I am a war veteran. I believe in federalism. I am pro life. I never thought I would see the day, when I would fit the profile of a dangerous domestic terrorist. I even thought government profiling was somehow an unacceptable activity.

I am beginning to fear we may be witnessing the dawn of the American police state. By temperament I am moderate. I don’t normally agree with conspiracy nuts. I don’t think I am paranoid. I don’t want to be alarmist. Nevertheless, I am becoming more and more concerned about what is taking place since Obama has been elected.

The government’s attempt to gain authority to close down the Internet, the plan to restrict talk radio, curtailing the secret ballot, taking control of General Motors, the massive growth in government debt, and various other proposals and trends are making me fearful that the freedom we have known as Americans is slipping away. The latest development by the Department of Homeland Security, that profiles those who advocate conservative positions, as potential domestic terrorist is chilling. Before I panic, I want to learn more about the latest from DHS, but I feel that Big Sister is watching. Maybe it is time to be alarmed.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Tea Party

Tea Party In Nashville at noon the Tea Party will be held at Legislative Plaza in front of the State Capitol. I will be attending. I hope you can join me.

To find the TEA PARTY near you in Tennessee click Tennessee Tax Day Tea Party .

To find a TEA PARTY anywhere in the nation near you click , FIND YOUR STATE HERE .
Tea Party

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Today is Tax Freedom Day

American Spectator - [excerpt] Although paying taxes is never fun, there is some good news this year. Americans stopped paying for government before they had to file their taxes. The Tax Foundation figures that "Tax Freedom Day" (TFD) arrived today, April 13. But enjoy your freedom while you can. Today's tsunami of government spending ensures a much higher tax burden in the future. [full article]

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Blessed Easter

Christ Church Cathedral

I went to Church this morning and the earth didn’t swallow me or the roof didn’t fall in. I do not regularly attend church and have not done so in some years. This being Easter I wanted to attend. Without young children to hide Easter eggs for if you don’t go to church, Easter is just another day. For the last few years on those rare occasions when I do go to church, I attend Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal church in downtown Nashville.

My spiritual journey has been all over the map. I was raised in a small country Baptist church where the minister and church leaders were uneducated if not ignorant men. I was taught a very legalistic, literal, fundamentalist brand of Christianity. The King James Bible was the only acceptable version, alcoholic beverages were absolutely forbidden, the earth was only six thousand years old, and evolution was an evil theory.

My father was a gospel singer and I often had the opportunity to travel with him. His ministry was non-denominational and I was also exposed to a lot of charismatic and Pentecostal churches in addition to Baptist. In our home, we had regular prayer and Bible reading. Despite being immersed in religion, I started doubting my faith about the time I turned 16 or so.

As a young adult, while in Vietnam and especially afterward while in Thailand, I was exposed to Buddhism and began studying Buddhism and began to doubt that Christianity had the exclusive claim to the truth. I never became a Buddhist but admired and respected the religion. I simply could not believe that all of those kind devout Buddhist I came to know in Thailand were destined to hell.

For a few short years I considered myself agnostic. For a very short period of time, actually only a few months, I called myself an atheist. This was about the same period in which I also called myself a libertarian.

Later, after getting married I drifted back into church and for about eight years or more became quite religious. I attended, in succession, two charismatic, modern, non-denominational, Pentecostal-type churches. I still had my doubts, but simply chose not to try to reconcile my doubts. I lived by faith and ignored reason. These churches believed in the “gifts of the spirit” and I experienced religious joy which some might dismiss as mere emotionalism.

When my marriage ended, I found it difficult to live a life that conformed to what I thought was an acceptable standard of moral purity. As a single guy with a sex drive I got tired of going to church and feeling guilty, so I again found myself unchurched.

If I had to describe my religious faith now, I would say that I am simply secular. I would not call myself an atheist or even an agnostic. I don’t reject that part of my culture and heritage. I don’t object to displays of religious faith. I am not angry with God. I like the ceremonial aspect of religion. I like the religious component of Christmas even if I do think it is myth. I like public prayer at important occasions. I think it adds a solemnity and seriousness to the occasion. I don’t mind if someone wants to start a meeting with prayer or have prayer prior to a meal. I am respectful of the faith of other and not offended by expression of religious faith. If I am experiencing some struggle or hardship and someone says they will pray for me, I appreciate it. I myself just ignore religion and don’t think about it very much. I would say that I am a generic liberal Christian who simply chooses, for the most part, to ignore religion.

When I do attend Christ Church, I really enjoy it. I love the incense, the beautiful pipe organ, the robes, the choir, the special music, the responsive reading, the kneeling and standing, the ceremony, and the structure and formality. I like it that no one tries to convert me. Most of all, I love the beautiful building. Christ Church is, I think, my favorite building in all of Nashville. I feel like I am in the presence of God just walking in the door. The beauty of the building ministers to my soul and makes me feel blessed and awed.

The building build in 1894 is built of sandstone and is of gothic design. It has gargoyles and beautiful stained glass windows. Inside there is a rich dark wood ceiling and ornamentation and polished granite columns. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful.

Today, I feel like I have been to church. I had a blessed Easter. I may go to church more often.

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