Saturday, August 06, 2011

This Sharia Law business is just crap…

“Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy!” “This Sharia Law business is just crap… and I’m tried of dealing with the crazies."

Way to go, Governor Christi! Too many Republicans are being intimidated by the crazies who think the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. We need more Republicans willing to stand up for the First Amendment and common sense instead of pandering to the bigots the way Herman Cain did during his recent visit to Murfreesboro.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

What did you think about the election?

People want to keep the Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds won by 71%. That is an overwhelming response. Some tried to argue that we should not clutter the Charter with mundane issues. People were not swayed by that argument. Emily Evans laid that argument to rest in a recent column where she explained that the fairgrounds is already addressed in the Charter and the Charter already establishes the rules governing the fairgrounds. Therefore, it is appropriate to modify the rules governing the fairgrounds by amending the Charter. Most people were probably not exposed to Evans argument, but they just knew it was wrong to take such an important part of our community and identity and destroy it to create another soulless office park, or whatever the mayor had plans to build there. The win for the fairgrounds was major repudiation of the Mayor's leadership.

Being a Republican is not the Kiss of Death. There was a time in Nashville, when no one running for public office would dare admit to being a Republican. The Civil War was a long time ago and few people are still holding a grudge because the Union Army occupied Nashville once upon a time. Times have changed. Republican supported candidates and self-identified Republican candidates did very well. Two of the races I were most involved in were that of Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy, both strongly identified as Republicans. Duane last year ran for a State House seat as a Republican.  Also, Karen Bennett, who is on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party won in her district. Other candidates identified as Republicans such as Charlie Tygert, Sheri Weiner , Josh Stites and Dave Patterson, either won their seat or made it into a run-off. 

The power of incumbency is hard to overcome. Look at the five at-large races.  Every one of the incumbents was reelected!  I did not expect that. I honestly expected Megan Barry and Tim Garrett to win without a runoff and I thought we would then have a run-off for the other three seats. In addition to the other incumbents, Ronnie Stein, Jerry Maynard, and Charlie Tygard, I thought Eric Crafton and Ken Jakes, would make the run-off and maybe Vivian Wilhoite or Renard Francois. I was really pulling for Eric Crafton and Ken Jakes. Eric came in, in sixth place but yet there were over 4,000 votes separating him and the fifth place winner.  With 18 candidates in the at-large race, it is amazing that all five incumbents could meet the 10% threshold and win without a runoff. If you look at the other races, most of the races where an incumbent was challenged, the incumbents won. Only in district 16 where Tony Tenpenny eked out a victory over Anna Page and district 30 where Jim Hodge barely lost to challenger Jason Potts did incumbents lose reelection bids.

The Mayor’s opposition may help one's election efforts. Look at Robert Duvall, Duane Dominy and Jason Holleman. In these three races the mayor went the extra mile to help the challenger. He sent out mailers touting the accomplishment in those districts, picturing himself with the challenger and attempted to give credit for the accomplishments to the challenger. I think this backfired big time. In the case of Duane Dominy, the Mayor attempted to give credit for a 4-way stop sign getting installed at a dangerous intersection to Dominy's opponent. Channel 4 called his hand on it and told the truth saying that Dominy's opponent was at none of the Traffic and Parking Commission meetings advocating for the stop sign and Dominy was there doing so. They showed constitutes thanking Duane for his effort in getting the stop sign installed and expressing unhappiness with the Mayor's effort to distort the facts. Dominy got face-time on TV making his case. Dominy's appearance as the lead story on the evening news gave him much more exposure than the Mayor's mailing gave Dominy's opponent. It is hard to estimate the value of being the lead story on the evening news. 

The same thing happened in Robert Duvall's district where the Mayor tried to give credit for the Antioch fire hall to Duvall's opponent. Maybe the best think that can happen to boost one's reelection is have the Mayor's opposition.

I am glad Jerry Graves lost. I am glad he was clobbered, not that I liked the incumbent, but I disliked Jerry Graves.

I am glad Holleman won and glad he won handily.  Lodge had the Mayor, the former Governor and lots of people from out of state and people with big name and big money behind her campaign. This was a race between two liberal democrats but Jason Holleman dared disagree with the Mayor on some issues and the Mayor came after him with a vengeance. Also, the more traditional faction of the Democratic Party was supporting Holleman and the Jeff Yarbro progressives were lined up behind Holleman. I am delighted Holleman won.  

The Mayor has been weakened. The mayor had some wins and some losses, but he did not get a rubber stamp council. He will probably not be able to destroy the fairgrounds. If, in the future, he runs for Governor or Senator, he will be running with less of an aura of invincibility.

Constituent Service may be the most important factor in getting elected to Council. I heard a very conservative Republican lady say she was voting for an incumbent who is a Democrat and voting against the Republican challenger, because the incumbent was responsive when she had complaints and he always returned her phone calls promptly. I still think, more important than a candidates position on taxes, or the fairgrounds, or the convention center, or one's political identity, is the record of constituent service or how a voter thinks a candidate will provide constituent service.

Zoning matters are important. On zoning matters, people want someone who will listen to the wishes of the community and hold lots of community meetings and work to find solutions to community objections to zoning proposals. Voters want someone who will fill the potholes and get 4-way stop signs at dangerous intersections and show up to commensurate when the neighborhood is flooded and pitch in cleaning up after the flood. They want someone who will answer his phone and return a phone call the same day he is called. Nothing beats being approachable, responsive, working hard and providing constituent service.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Please Don't Vote for Ben Griffin!

Tomorrow is Election Day. Please Don't Vote for Ben Griffin! If you were going to vote for Ben Griffin, please don't vote. Let me tell you why.

There is no Ben Griffin.  I mean, there is probably a Ben Griffin somewhere, but he is not a candidate running for Metro Council in the August 4th race tomorrow. Two political scientist at Vanderbilt University, Cindy Kam  and Elizabeth Zechmeister conducted a study a few weeks ago to test name recognition and voter preference. The following except from a Vandy press release explains it:

Kam and Zechmeister had the fictitious name “Ben Griffin” printed on political yard signs and placed on the lawn of a cooperating homeowner. The home was located on a street near a local elementary school. The researchers had previously determined that about half of all school traffic would pass by the location of the fictitious signs.
Three days after the signs were posted, the nearby school’s Parent Teacher Organization, which was cooperating with the professors, emailed the school’s parents a link to a short internet survey. Parents were asked to complete the survey in order to earn $5 per family for the school.
Survey respondents were asked to select their top three choices for the county’s at-large council seats. The seven options included the five actual incumbent candidates running for office along with two fictitious candidates, one of whom was Ben Griffin.
Kam and Zechmeister found that nearly a quarter of the respondents who had driven by the signs for the fictitious Ben Griffin placed him among their top three choices for the at-large council seats. Kam and Zechmeister found that nearly a quarter of the respondents who had driven by the signs for the fictitious Ben Griffin placed him among their top three choices for the at-large council seats. Meanwhile, only about 14 percent of the respondents in the control group (those who would not have driven by the fictitious candidate signs) placed Griffin among their top three choices.
“The 10 percent difference is sizable given the small number of days we carried out the experiment and how unobtrusive the yard signs were,” Zechmeister said.
Please, please, if you are going to vote based solely on name recognition, if you have not studied the candidates, if you don't know why you are going to vote the way you will vote, let me tell you who to vote for or do everyone else a favor and just don't vote!

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Please vote FOR RATIFICATION on the Charter Amendment

Hello Friends of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds!

The time to VOTE to Save the Tennessee State Fairgrounds is here. Election Day is finally upon us. Please vote FOR RATIFICATION on the Charter Amendment. Please ask your friends, neighbors and co-workers to do the same.
Election returns will be updated on this site throught the night as they become known:
PLEASE BOOKMARK the site as we will post updates from the Election Commission as they come in. Thank you for all of your support for the Fairgrounds! None of this would be possible without your support!

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Election Day August 4th and August 5th.

Notice: Election day for Republicans and Independents is August 4th. 
Democrats vote on August 5th.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Reflections on the Debt Limit Compromise

The debt limit crisis is over. We dodged a bullet and I am glad.  I was worried.  Not only was I worried for our nation, but I was worried about the impact a default would have on me personally.  I am approaching retirement age and I did not want to see my life's savings tank. I am also glad to see that we avoided the crisis that would have ensued if Congress would have failed to raise the debt limit and Obama would have invoked the 14th.  Had he done so, we may have witnessed the largest Constitutional crisis since the Civil War. Had he invoked the 14th, I believe there would have been blood flowing in the streets. So, while I am glad Congress reached a last minute compromise that avoided a calamity, I am not popping any Champagne  corks.  I do not feel like celebrating.

Essentially, we have kicked the can down the road. We have bought a little time. I wanted to see larger spending cuts and a long-term solution like the CAP Act which would limit Congress's spending and a constitutional amendment that would force a balanced budget. This agreement, while it reduces future spending, it did not actually cut spending; it cut spending from the level that spending would have otherwise been if we had done nothing. Only in Washington is a spending increase called a spending cut.

Nevertheless, I think we have made a move in the right direction. The conversation has been changed from how much more can we spend to how much can we cut. That is a good thing.  I also like the debt commission created by the compromise, however one Congress can't bind a future Congress. In fact, a current Congress is not even bound by its own actions. It can repeal or modify anything it passes. There is nothing in the act that would force Congress to act responsibly. Congress has gone on record now however, and it will not be easy to undo what has been accomplished. This is a step in the right direction, but it is like turning an ocean liner; it can't turn on a dime.

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Mayor Dean's Front Group Endorses 15 Candidates!

Mayor Karl Dean's "Building Nashville Together" has mailed voters a slick, heavy-duty, full-color piece with a slate of 15 Metro Council Candidates he is endorsing. Dean is not mentioned in the piece nor associated with it in this mailing.  It is paid for by Building Nashville Together, but everyone who is politically aware knows this is Dean's baby.  I got mine when I came home for lunch today.

The whole complete list of pictured candidates is a list of people I would suggest voting against, with the exception of Sandra Moore and that is only because her opponent is such a worthless human being that I think she is the lesser of the two bad choice. These candidates are the Mayor's lapdogs. We do not need 15 rubber stamps in the Metro Council.

Here are the Building Nashville Together picks:
Megan Barry, At-large
Jerry Maynard, At-large
Ronnie Steine, At-large
Brady Banks, District 4
Nancy Vanreece, District 8
Anna Page, District 16
Sandra Moore, District 17
Buddy Baker, District 20
Senna Brandmeir, District 22
Chris Harmon, District 26
Tanaka Vercher, District 28
Fabian Bedne, District 31
Markeith Braden, District 33
Bo Mitchell, District 35

Vote Against these Candidates!

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Council Member Emily Evans explains the Fairgournd Charter Amendment.

I found this on Emily Evans blog and am reproducing it in full.  I assume she would not mind. This is a great explanation of why we need to vote for the Fairgrounds Charter Amendment and what the amendment would do. Rod

by Emily Evans

There is but one amendment to the Metro Charter on the ballot this Thursday. Known as the "Fairgrounds Amendment," this change to the charter would require two things.

1) The Metro Board of Fair Commissioners will be required to continue to conduct all activities held at the Fairgrounds as of December 31, 2010. Those activities shall include but not be limited to the Tennessee State Fair, the expo activities (lawn and garden show, Christmas Village, etc.) flea market and auto racing; and

2) The Fairgrounds property will not be demolished unless it is approved by 27 votes of the Metro Council.

Some have raised the rather specious argument that the question of the Fairgrounds does not rise to a level of importance necessary for inclusion in the Metro Charter. They are, of course, ignoring the fact that the reason we have a State Fair in the first place is because we are directed to do so by the Metro Charter.

Way back in 1909, the State of Tennessee determined that each county in the state should have a divisional fair. The state set about obtaining locations and sponsoring fairs. After a few years in the fair business the State realized that sponsoring a fair in each county was a load of work and they decided to shift the burden to the counties themselves. So, through Chapter 515 of the Private Acts of 1923, all the counties were enabled to obtain control of their fairgrounds from the state, hold a fair and, if necessary, levy a small property tax to pay for it. This last feature, more than the other, expresses the State's strong support of fairs that exhibit the agriculture and industry of the great State of Tennessee. The only other entity that can levy property taxes in Davidson County is the Metro Council.

When Metro was formed in 1963, Chapter 515 of the Private Acts of 1923 along with the earlier Chapter 490 of the Acts of Tennessee for 1909 were incorporated by reference along with additional language about how Fair Commissioners would be selected and provisions on payment of personnel. The Charter further states that the Metro Council can adopt any ordinance providing for additional duties of the Fair Board. So, it is both proper and appropriate that an amendment to the Charter pertaining to the duties of the Fair Board be brought to you for consideration at the ballot.

The first part of the amendment requires that the activities held at the Fairgrounds as of December 31, 2010 be continued. Unfortunately, the language does not make clear that these activities are to be conducted on the property we know as the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. So, if you ignored the rowdy debate last winter or just moved here from Cleveland, you might not fully understand the intent which is to continue the operation of the Fairgrounds in south Nashville as they are today.

The second part of the amendment prohibits demolition of the Fairgrounds structures unless there are 27 votes. The purpose of this section is in direct response to an effort, which ultimately failed, to demolish the historic auto short track at the Fairgrounds.

So, how you vote on this charter amendment will really come down to how you feel about fairs and the Fairgrounds. There is little doubt that the Tennessee State Fair and the Fairgrounds are not living up to their potential. The place has been plagued by bad politics, bureaucratic indifference and poor management for many years. On a more macro level, the last 50 years or so have seen Nashville, and to a lesser extent, the State of Tennessee put some distance between its urban/suburban present and its agrarian past.

I think it is the latter trend that prompted some folks to view the Fairgrounds as a place to realize their real estate development ambitions. It is the promise of "mixed use" (which most real estate development experts find unlikely) that motivates them. There has also been some chatter about unspecified jobs and economic impact that makes them think we should dispense with the legacy that is the State Fair and the Fairgrounds.

Its checkered past does not mean the future for the State Fair cannot be a bright one. Appreciation for local agriculture is once again on the rise. A few weeks ago, I went to a "cheese" dinner at a Hillsboro Village restaurant. The dinner featured cheeses made in Tennessee. CSA's like Bells Bend and Avalon Acres are becoming more and more popular for people who don't like to speculate on how far their food travels. Tennessee's contributions to industry continue to increase. The Smyrna-built Nissan Leaf is just one example of the innovation that could be put on display at a Tennessee State Fair.

The motto of the State of Tennessee is "Agriculture and Commerce." As Senator Douglas Henry likes to point out, "Agriculture" comes first. Like it or not, we are the capital of the State of Tennessee and with that honor comes some responsibilities and activities that are pressed upon us by our unique status - like the Tennessee State Fair.

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Underwhelming Spending Cuts from Congress and Obama

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why in 823 Days have Dems not Passed a Budget?

Jeff Session, ranking member of the US Senate Budget committee sets the record straight and explains:

Durbin's claim is incorrect for three reasons. First, budget law states that budget resolutions are privileged, meaning they cannot be filibustered, only require a simple majority vote for passage, and can be brought up by the majority party (which controls the Senate floor schedule) at any time. Second, for a large portion of last year, Democrats controlled 60 seats in the Senate, and still chose not to pass a budget plan for the nation. Finally, Senate Democrats have not even written or introduced a budget plan this year, much less passed one out of the Senate.
This is an outrage! Pass a damn budget!

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The House Black Caucus are also pleading with Obama to invoke the 14th amendment

The chorus keeps rising. The House Black Caucus are also pleading with Obama to invoke the 14th amendment.

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Nothing But the Truth Candidate Endrosements

African-American conservative local radio talk show host Carl Boyd has issued his endorsements for the upcoming election. He interviewed many of them on his local radio program on Nothing But The Truth on WMDB 880 AM.  Where we share an endorsement, I have highlighted it in red. Carl Boyd's endorsements are listed below.

Mayor- James Keeton
Vice-Mayor James Baxter
Council at Large: Sam Coleman, Ken Jakes, Donna Crawford, Don O'Donniley and Eric Crafton
District 1- David Phillips
District 2- Gloria M. Jones
District 4- Dave Patterson
District 5- Scott Davis
District 6- Dave Rich
District 7- Anthony Davis
District 8- Nina Ground
District 11- William Guthoerl
District 13- Josh Stites
District 14- James Stanley
District 16- Tony Tenpenny
District 17- Jerry Graves
District 19- Bob Ries
District 20- Gower Mills
District 22- Sheri Weiner
District 23- Emily Evans?
District 24- Jason Holleman
District 25- James Kaminski
District 26- Brock Parks
District 27- Michael Leftwich
District 28- Duane Dominy
District 29- Will decide by Election Day
District 30- Jason Potts
District 31- James L, Widrig
District 32- Will decide by Election Day
District 33- Robert Duvall
District 34- Carter Todd
District 35- Tonya Jones

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Obama Better Not Dare Invoke the 14th Amendment!!

There is a rising chorus of voices calling on the President to raise the debt limit unilaterally by invoking the 14th Amendment. Rep John Larson of Connecticut who chairs the Democratic caucus;  Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, the assistant caucus chair; Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic leadership; Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Senator Barbara Boxer; Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former President Bill Clinton; The Huffington Post, Salon; and hundreds of liberal bloggers and pundits are urging the President to do so.

The post-Civil War 14th Amendment gave citizenship right to the newly freed slaves by guaranteeing citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States and it also contained a provision to keep the representatives of southern states readmitted to the Union from renouncing the civil war debt. That section say, “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

So far, the White House has rejected resorting to invoking the 14th should congress fail to raise the debt limit but the administration has stopped short of saying the president will not invoke the amendment.  White House spokesman Jay Carney has said the President, “does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling."  I hope Congress can find a way to raise the debt limit.  If they do not, I hope the President does not suddenly change his mind and use the 14th Amendment option.

Should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling we will have a crisis. However, raising the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th will not solve the crisis. It does not solve a problem. It will create a bigger crisis. The legality of the new debt limit will be in question.  That will not calm the markets. It will not create confidence in the debt instruments of the United States. The House will most likely appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may or may not take up the case. There can be little doubt that the House will move to impeach the President, although it is doubtful the Senate would remove him from office.

And, it would radicalize many Americans.

I myself, while committed to free market principles, the Constitution, limited government,  and the rule of law, have in practice considered myself pragmatic and moderate. I have reasoned, that in America, if we were using a football analogy, we are all playing within the 40 yard lines.  Sometimes we move left; sometime we move right. They win one; we win one.  Essentially we have different priorities and we have our disagreements but we agree on the big stuff.  I no longer feel that way.  I believe with President Obama's election there was a fundamental effort to remake America in the image of a European socialist state.

While I have considered myself part of the tea party movement, I have never viewed the tea party as monolithic and some fringes in the movement have embarrassed me if not offended me. Much of the mainstream media have focused on those fringes to try and smear the movement.  However, I have found myself becoming more and more partisan and ideological, the longer President Obama stays in office. The more radical elements in the tea party are starting to sound more reasonable.

The pushing through of Obamacare legislatively with no margin to spare and engaging in the buying off of Nebraska, Louisiana and Florida to do so deeply offended and angered me. It did not seem legitimate. For the first time ever, mandating that one engage in a particular commerce, I think, violates the Constitution. By granting thousands of waivers from the provisions of Obamacare to his friends, violates the fundamental principle of rule of law. He further exhibited his attempt to rule by fiat when he tried to regulate greenhouse gases without congressional authority. Obama’s refusal to seek Congressional approval for his military adventure in Libya was his most egregious offence.   It seems to be an impeachable offense and yet he gets by with it.  I do not believe we have ever seen such abuse of power. 

Should the President, invoke the 14th amendment, I will become radicalized. As the saying goes, that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I will feel we have an illegitimate government. Invoking the 14th will be the equivalent of declaring martial law  I don't know that I will act differently. I would not be ready to man the barricades, but I think I would cheer for those who do.  Invoking the 14th would be very close to an act of war against the American people. The Obama Presidency would be the Obama dictatorship.

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"Save The Whole House Or It Will All Burn Down"

This is a very powerful speech by Senator Marco Rubio.

Excerpts from the speech.

"It says, "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I, therefore, intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt." A quote from a tea party extremist, right? No. This is a quote from March 16 of 2006 from Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

"I found another extremist quote. This one says, "Because this massive of accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against a debt limit increase." Well, that must be from a tea party extremist member of the House, right? No. This is March 16, 2006, from Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

"And last but not least, here's a quote from September 27 of 2007. It says, "I find it distasteful and disturbing to increase the debt limit yet again. Clearly we need to change course and this debt limit bill is just another reminder of that." And that is from the distinguished Senator from Nevada, the majority leader. On that date in 2007.

"And yet now these same quotes in this context, what we're talking about raising the debt limit more than has ever been raised in one vote, is extremism? This name-calling is absurd and it sets this process back.

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