Saturday, July 06, 2013

4th of July DUI Checkpoint abuse in Rutherford County

At over a million and a half views already, this video filmed in Rutherford County of the police violating the right of a young man is going viral. It occurred on Independence day. The sheriff deputies know they are abusing their authority and admit so on camera. I know that this is routine but it should not be. The officers should be disciplined and the kid should be paid for any dog scratches to his car and he should get an official apology. Police are not "the law" and they should not be above the law.

"...but he's perfectly innocent and he knows his rights. He knows what the Constitution says."

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Council Meeting of July 2 with commentary and video

I am posted this video of July 2 Council meeting late, because Metro Channel 2 only posted it yesterday. At only 36 minutes, this is a very short council meeting. The Council meeting could be even shorter if they would just put the whole agenda on the "consent agenda" and pass it with a single vote.  Even shorter would be to just assume everything on the Agenda passes unless someone calls in an objection. Since almost nothing every gets rejected and since all forty member think exactly alike, the Council is kind of superfluous and could be replaced with a rubber stamp.

To link to the agenda and agenda analysis follow this link.

All of the Mayor appointees to Boards and Commissions are approved unanimously as I expected they would be.

Bills on Public Hearing:
Most of the pubic hearings on zoning matters would interest only neighbors of the proposed rezoning. The Sylvan Park rezoning  however does address an issue that is affecting all of the hip neighborhoods of Nashville such as 12th Ave South and Five Points and if what has happened in those neighborhoods continue, it will impact more of us.

The city is approving more and more nodes of commercial development in residential neighborhoods. That makes our neighborhoods more vibrant and means one does not have to drive far away to dine. The thought is that neighbors will walk to these restaurants and they will serve the neighborhoods they are in. That is not what really happens. People still dive to restaurants. There was a time when the City had strict parking requirements and for x number of square foot of restaurant space, for instance, you had to have x number of parking spaces. That was not conducive to the development of vibrant communities and was more suitable to suburban development. However with the way development is occurring now in our neighborhoods, people parking on the street are taking the parking spaces of the residents of the neighborhood.

I was going to go to 12th Ave Pub one evening on a weekend recently and their parking lot was full and I drove blocks away and never found a parking space and gave up.  With 12th Ave Pub, Mafioso's, Urban Grub, the barbecue place, and others along 12th Ave, parking takes the available parking spaces for blocks around.  If you were a resident of one of those streets, and you come home in the evening your parking space is gone. You may have to park six blocks away!  That would be bad enough but if you had a trunk load of groceries in your car, you would be highly perturbed. Or, if you wanted to stay home and have guest over, they would have to park blocks and blocks away.

I like the vibrancy of Nashville and think Nashville is becoming an even greater place to live. However, we must figure out some way to accommodate growth and keep our neighborhoods livable for the people who live there. I had at one time hoped, Douglas Corner on 8th Ave would get some nice restaurants and become more vibrant, now I am hoping it doesn't because I wouldn't have a place to park.

Resolutions on the Consent Agenda:
None are pulled. They all pass by a single vote. Among those is a resolution urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is controversial in Congress and the Country but not in our council it passes unanimously. Not a single council member thinks we ought to secure the borders first (read the resolution and more about this at this link).

Everything else on the Agenda passes with no dissenting votes or discussion.

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Friday, July 05, 2013

Rand Paul featured in Lamar Alexander's new 'Right to Fish' ad

Announcer: "Tennessean's prize our freedom to fish below our dams. The Corps of Engineers thought they knew better."
Lamar: "We don't want a government, that's strong enough, to make our lives risk free. We can do that for ourselves."
Announcer: "Lamar talked fishing to most every Senator and on June third, Senator Lamar Alexander's Freedom to Fish Act became the law of the land."
Rand Paul: "Nobody wants to say 'no' to Lamar Alexander."
Announcer: "I'm Lamar Alexander and I approve this message."
Senator Rand Paul was a co-sponsor of the "Right to Fish" bill.  I would assume this is an attempt to boost Lamar's conservative credentials, thinking that having Rand Paul in his ad will do the trick.  I also assume that starting ads so early in the campaign that he is hoping to scare off any potential challenger from the right.

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Metro Council voted unanimously Tuesday night for Comprehensive Immigration reform

Metro Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to urge Congress to “make meaningful and substantive reform to our immigration policies” this year. While the Council did not vote for a specific version of comprehensive immigration policy and while the Council resolution did not say what they wanted included in a comprehensive immigration policy, the comprehensive immigration bill that recently passed the U.S. Senate includes a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. Many consider that amnesty.

The House of Representatives is likely to reject the Senate immigration bill. Many in the House do not want "comprehensive" immigration reform.  They want to secure the borders first.  Our Metro Council however wants comprehensive immigration reform. Unanimously means everyone in the Council. That is Robert Duvall, Duane Dominy, Josh Stites and the other conservative members of the Council. I can only assume that is what they really believe since that is the way they voted.  Actually, I believe that way too. I think it is time for comprehensive immigration reform and after the Corker-Hoeven amendment, I think the immigration bill before us should be passed.  I think it beats the alternative of the status quo. However, I am just surprised that not a single council member believes otherwise. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is controversial. There are two sides to the issue. I am just surprised that all forty Council member think alike on a controversial issue that divides the Country and the Congress.

The resolution the Council passes says our current immigration policy does not reflect the fundamental values of  Tennesseans. Below is the text of the bill the Council passed.


A resolution urging the 113th Congress of the United States to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

WHEREAS, over the last decade, Tennessee was the state with the third-fastest, and Nashville was the city with the fastest, growth of foreign-born residents in the country; and

WHEREAS, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County has a proud history of being a welcoming community where new families, new businesses, and new community institutions are celebrated and valued; and

WHEREAS, Nashville understands that diversity is a cultural strength and immigrants in our community are an engine of economic growth who enrich our civic, social, and cultural life; and

WHEREAS, the current immigration policies of the U.S. government do not reflect our fundamental values as Tennesseans and Americans; and

WHEREAS, the failure of the United States Congress to enact broad immigration reform has had deep and far-reaching impacts on the economic, cultural, and political lives of our communities; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council of Davidson County is calling on the 113th Congress of the United States to make meaningful and substantive reform to our immigration policies in 2013; and

WHEREAS, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County will benefit from changes to our immigration policies that allow all new Tennesseans to fully participate and contribute to our communities.


Section 1. That this Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as urging the 113th Congress of the United States to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

Section 2. That the Metropolitan Clerk is hereby directed to send a copy of this resolution to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Representatives Jim Cooper and Marsha Blackburn, Senator Lamar Alexander, and Senator Bob Corker.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Steve Glover, Fabian Bedne, Megan Barry, Jason Potts, Chris Harmon, Jerry Maynard, Jason Holleman, Burkley Allen, Karen Johnson, Peter Westerholm, Brady Banks, Emily Evans, Frank Harrison, Walter Hunt

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'How to Get Rich and Combat Global Warming,' writes Steve Chapman

I know that many on the right remain global warming skeptics. I am not. I long ago accepted the majority scientific theory of global warming. I do think there are global warming alarmist however, and hustlers and con artist. And, I think there are those who see global warming as their Trojan Horse to advance a big-government, redistribution-of-wealth agenda. While the right has basically said "what problem?" the left has offered nothing but non-solutions.

Much of the anti-global warming activist have wasted energy in promoting insignificant feel-good measures, such as turning off your computer when not in use and properly inflating your tires. These things may make you feel virtuous but are not a solution. The same people who do these feel-good measures may do other things that leave a big carbon foot print, like enjoying their personal car just like the rest of us or owning a dog. A large dog is as about as bad for the planet, it has been calculated, as is owning a small car, yet Earth Day in Centennial Park is full of dogs. Most of the anti-global warming activist, in my view, are not doing anything that will make a difference.

Other anti-global warming activist offer nothing but the big-government power-grab solutions. Cap and Trade, as proposed a few years ago, would have transferred too much authority into the hands of the government to pick winners and losers and would have grown government and produced greater poverty. Opposing the Keystone pipeline, simply means the oil will go to the Pacific Coast instead of the Gulf and it will be purchased by China. It will not stay in the ground. Many of the environmentalist also oppose fracking which has released trapped clean natural gas and done more to reduce American Co2 emissions than anything else. They also oppose nuclear energy. While many on the right do not believe the science of global warming theory, those on the left appear not to believe in technology, economics and markets.

I believe the solution to combating global warming lies in three areas: (1) clean energy such as nuclear and natural gas, with the environmentalist-activist-favored wind and solar playing a minor role; (2) big bold technological advances involving geoengineering such as solar radiation management and carbon removal; and (3) use of market forces such as peak load pricing for energy consumption and most importantly, a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Unfortunately, the most ardent environmentalist who are liberals don't embrace these solutions and many conservative who should embrace them don't see a problem in need of solving.

Steve Chapman is a conservative syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune and has written articles that have appeared in Town Hall, National Review, American Spectator, and the Weekly Standard. In the article below, he argues that properly pricing fuels to account for their negative effects would reduce consumption of those fuels. A revenue-neutral carbon tax would give us more of what we wand such as production and savings and less of what we don't want which is Co2 emissions.  He argues that a carbon tax is pro-environmental, pro-growth, and pro-market.

by Steve Chapman,Town Hall, July 04, 2013- So the president will act to curb emissions as best he can through heavy-handed regulation and extravagant subsidies of "clean" energy. The trouble with these clumsy remedies, says economist Adele Morris of The Brookings Institution, is that they often impose higher costs than the benefits they yield.

They would not be needed if the government taxed fuels according to their environmental side effects. Raise the price of gasoline and Americans would buy more efficient cars, drive less and take the occasional bus. Make coal more expensive and businesses would switch to fuels that pollute less. These adjustments would occur through the natural operation of markets, a process that favors the cheapest solutions. (link)

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Madison Project Looking for Primary Challenger to Lamar Alexander

Press Release, Washington, DC – The Madison Project announced today that it will be working with Tea Party leaders in Tennessee to find a viable conservative challenger to Lamar Alexander in next year’s primary.
“The Senate amnesty bill is one of the most destructive bills to come before the Senate in years, yet Senator Lamar Alexander betrayed conservatives and helped secure its passage,” said Drew Ryun of the Madison Project.

“Last year, Tennessee voters strongly rejected Obama’s agenda, but Lamar Alexander voted for Obama’s most important priority of his second term. The amnesty bill is the Obamacare of immigration policy, as it exacerbates the current system, creates a permanent cycle of amnesty, ties the hands of law enforcement, and grants enormous discretion to Obama’s bureaucrats. Even the hollow promises of enforcement will not be implemented until 10
years after amnesty is granted.”
“We look forward to backing a candidate who prioritizes the American taxpayer and the rule of law over the desires of special interests,” said Daniel Horowitz of the Madison Project. “Whether it’s amnesty, tax increases, debt limit increases, energy subsidies, or liberal judicial nominees, Alexander has stood on the side of Democrats and special interests over the conservative values of his Tennessee constituents. It’s time for Tennessee to have at least one senator who stands for bold colors instead of pale pastels.”
The Madison Project supports and raises money for conservative candidates that have demonstrated a
commitment to full-spectrum conservatism. The Madison Project website can be found at
# # #

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Nashvillenext meeting Monday July 8th

Community meetings will begin next Monday, July 8, to help decide what our city should focus on as we create a plan for Metro Nashville's future.
Everyone is welcome - six meetings will be held around the city during July.

Help decide what our city should focus on as we create a plan for Metro Nashville's future - by joining the discussion at a series of public meetings around Metro Nashville during July.  All meetings except the last one will be held from 5:30 - 8:30 pm.

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Thursday, July 04, 2013

"What July Fourth Means to Me," by Ronald Reagan, 1981

For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.

 Somewhere in our [youth], we began to be aware of the meaning of [important national] days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.

The day of our nation's birth in that little hall in Philadelphia, [was] a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.

[On that day] 56 men, a little band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.

What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough.

John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find his wife dead, his children vanished, his property destroyed. He died of exhaustion and a broken heart.

Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships, sold his home to pay his debts, and died in rags. And so it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston and Middleton. Nelson personally urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.

But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea. Five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep, three million square miles of forest, field, mountain and desert, 227 million people with a pedigree that includes the bloodlines of all the world. In recent years, however, I've come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation.

It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.

Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.

Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.

We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Dean bribes 'Nashville' to keep filming in Nashville. Council will rubber stamp it.

The show Nashville has agreed to keep filming in Nashville after the State gave a grant of $12.5 million as an "incentive" to the producers.  The State's "investment" was contingent upon the city of Nashville kicking in a half million. The Mayor agreed. The Council has not appropriated the money nor has the Council passed a memorializing resolution promising they would be willing to do so. This will be the very first time the city has spent money to entice a company to film a TV program or movie in Nashville. The Mayor can confidently pledge the money because he can take our rubber-stamp Council for granted. They always do what the Mayor wants. It will probably be approved without a dissenting vote.

I am not sure where the money will come from.  It is not in the budget which just passed.  I do not think this is something that can be spend out of the 4% Fund. I am not adamantly opposed to it if we have the money. Nashville reportedly generates $40 million in local spending, not to mention that it is a weekly hour-long commercial for our city. 'Nashville' will probably help fill the new convention center and boost tourism. I think I could be persuaded to support it. I am disappointed, however, that the Mayor can make such a commitment without consulting the Council. To read more about this, see the article in the Tennessee Watchdog which reported this.

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Senator Mark Geen is not withdrawing support from Alexander.

Senator Mark Green who was previously scheduled to be at a public appearance with Lamar Alexander in Smyrna on July 20th cancelled his appearance and rumors spread that he was withdrawing his support of Alexander. Senator Green's office has said he cancelled his appearance because he has out of town family coming to visit. (link)

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Rivals DesJarlais, Tracy, Carr all oppose Senate immigration bill

All say, Secure the border first
WBIR-TV - The Daily News Journal asked U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg and two of his Republican primary challengers, state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, to provide statements about their positions on the ...(link)

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Marriage is too fundamental to let it be rotted away

by Gene Wisdom

The assault on marriage continues unabated and now reinvigorated with the Supreme Court officially taking the position of the homosexual lobby’s shock troops: “If you oppose us it is because you hate us.”

The Defense of Marriage Act was an attempt to preserve and protect not simply the Constitution but an institution—the institution—central to not just Western civilization but to civilization itself. Marriage between a man and a woman (which I will refer to as traditional marriage) is not just defined in that way, it is what marriage is. It is true across the world, across cultures, and throughout history. Even in classical Greece, where homosexuality was widely accepted, marriage was then what it is now. Until the last ten years. But what are centuries against right now? Until zealots, both feminists and homosexual activists began pursuing a drive to bring down the institution of marriage. The institution was attacked as patriarchal by militant feminists and then became a vehicle for the promotion and acceptance of a lifestyle that is completely contrary to marriage’s purpose. It became one more target of modern liberalism in its project to re-make society and human nature.

When a man and a woman get together, children are often the natural outcome. No debate on that, right? This natural product of that union has nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with government and neither can do anything about it (though the militants are happy to do so through legalized abortion). Human babies are helpless. They require parents to live, to thrive, and to become independent, law-abiding adults who contribute to the stability of society. Again, nothing to do with government. Where government has a role is to recognize these facts and to do what it can to promote that framework. It does this through laws that preserve marriage and ensure that these responsibilities to children are carried out. Marriage is a pre-political institution. And by the work it completes in the upbringing of children ensures the success of a democratic form of government and a free market. I would say that that makes it vital and to be very careful of any attempts to change it or modernize it.

Its importance, however, is what paints a target on marriage for the modern liberal who seeks to re-make society. The family is the anchor of virtue and freedom? Then it gets in the way of the modern welfare state and an atomistic society dependent on government. The modern liberal, back to Rousseau and Hobbes, looks to destroy those intermediate associations, such as the family, that stand between the individual and the State. Karl Marx argued for abolition of the family in The Communist Manifesto, that it would fade away come the Revolution. Modern liberalism, of which Marxism is but an offshoot, is a corrosive influence on society.

Modern liberalism, in all its variants from the welfare state to Communism, whether of the Soviet, the Cuban, the Korean, or even the Chinese model, also seeks to re-make man, to change his nature. We see this in modern education, in the envisioned New Soviet man, and in feminist gender deconstruction. And we see it in same-sex marriage. To say that marriage could as easily involve two men or two women is to argue that marriage or being a man or woman is fundamentally irrelevant to who one is. As both Robespierre and Lenin said, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Marriage, the family, and free society are but broken shells to Rousseau’s children, whether they man the guillotine, the concentration camp, school classrooms, or Hollywood.

Oh, but it’s nothing as drastic as a plot, as a conscious effort, surely, some would say. Many of those in favor of overturning marriage through bringing in homosexuals argue that marriage is already weak, that divorce and the welfare state have made protecting marriage less relevant somehow. This is an argument? You don’t judge whether traffic laws make sense by the fact that there are bad drivers. You don’t make a weakened institution stronger by making it weaker. Or by “re-defining” it.

And yes, that is what is happening. It is being “re-defined” out of existence. Section 2 of DOMA, which was challenged in this case, simply sought to preserve, to defend, the fundamental pillar of our free society by making traditional marriage the accepted definition in federal law. As the Court’s majority complained, the House Report on that legislation concluded “it is both appropriate and necessary for Congress to do what it can to defend the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage.” Well, we can’t have that, can we?

This is a very bad decision and more for what they based it on than the outcome, though the outcome is bad enough. They argued, based on Romer v. Evans, that DOMA was based on an animus against homosexuals and that such hostility is unconstitutional, arguing that “the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage.”

Leaving aside the question whether they could possibly read the minds of the overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress and a President who made it law, Justice Scalia will be proven correct in arguing that this finding of an unconstitutional animus, will lead to the striking down of state one man-one woman marriage laws. “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.” Chief Justice Roberts will be proven a fool in taking the majority at their word in denying this intent or outcome (and perhaps I was a fool in coming to his defense, as still “one of us” despite his opinion finding in favor of Obamacare.)

And Scalia has a pretty good track record of foresight on this issue. In Lawrence v. Texas (the Texas sodomy case that struck down laws against homosexual sodomy) the majority said that decision would not lead to same-sex marriage. “Don’t believe it”, he said. And sure enough, the first case that legalized same-sex marriage, in Massachusetts, cited Lawrence.

Bottom line: last week's decisions, especially the DOMA case, will prove to be a disaster. Marriage is too fundamental to let it be rotted away like this. It is time for a U.S. Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It is sad too that it is necessary now to change the Constitution so drastically because the Supreme Court so botched their job, or rather continued their position in the culture wars.

Omelettes anyone?

Gene Wisdom is an Alabama native but has lived in the Nashville area since 2007. He, his wife Vicki, and their dog Savannah live near Nolensville.  Gene is a conservative activist and leads the Conservative Fusion Book Club. 

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John Passmore's The Perfectibility of Man is available on-line for free at this link.

John Passmore's The Perfectibility of Man is available on-line for free at this link.

One of the basic differences between liberals and conservatives is their view of the nature of man. This book explores the concept of the perfectibility of man and how it has been interpreted and applied. Below is a summary of the topic of the book.

A reviewer of the original edition in 1970 of The Perfectibility of Man well summarizes the scope and significance of this renowned work by one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century: “Beginning with an analytic discussion of the various ways in which perfectibility has been interpreted, Professor Passmore traces its long history from the Greeks to the present day, by way of Christianity, orthodox and heterodox, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, anarchism, utopias, communism, psychoanalysis, and evolutionary theories of man and society. Both in its broad sweep and in countless supporting reflections, it is a journey through spiritual scenery of the most majestic and exhilarating kind.” Thoroughly and elegantly, Passmore explores the history of the idea of perfectibility - manifest in the ideology of perfectibilism - and its consequences, which have invariably been catastrophic for individual liberty and responsibility in private, social, economic, and political life.
Conservative Fusion Book Study group will be discussing this work at the July 17 meeting at 7PM. Read the book for free and join the discussion. For location contact Gene Wisdom at this address.

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Is Governor Haslam turning Tennessee into Saudi Arabia?

You better get fitted for your burqa, because Governor Bill Haslam is rapidly imposing Sharia Law in Tennessee. That is, if you believe the wacko-nut-jobs. The piece I am posting below came from a small blog called Bradley County News. It would be little noticed except it is being reposted on sites like the Tennessee Eagle Forum Facebook page and Tennessee Federation of Republican Women Facebook page. National sites such as Creeping Sharia, post equally bizarre stuff. I am not sure how many people believe this stuff, but there are some.

One of the lead posters of right wing fringe paranoia conspiracy theory stuff in Tennessee is Rosine Ghawji, co-chair of the Memphis Tea Party but there are several others. Other fringe stuff concerns Agenda 21, Common Core, and FEMA concentration camps. I don't know how many Republicans buy into the nutty stuff; I hope not many. Certainly some of the issues the nut fringe promotes can be legitimately criticized. One may have legitimate concerns with Common Core or Agenda 21, but to see them as all part of a diabolical plot all interconnected is the thinking of a nut-job.

I don't want to attack other Republicans. I would rather focus on defeating Democrats but Republicans must call out the nut jobs and marginalize them from time to time. We can not let the loudest voices dominate the conversation. We should not let the fringe represent the movement or the party.

I am not sure I should repost this because by calling attention to it is to promote it. On the other hand, I want those who may not know how the nut-jobs are attacking our governor and how they are spreading irrational fear to see an example of what is being spread.

Governor Bill Haslams deliberate attempt to make Tennessee Sharia compliant- The Timeline 

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has made it clear by his repeated actions that he will pursue a policy that promotes the interest of Islamist and their radical ideology as long as he is governor.

The attempted takeover of our great state by the left, the progressive or the communist was expected. What was not expected was the underhanded approach by Governor Bill Haslam to dismantle our sovereignty one step at a time, methodically, making our state Sharia compliant with his policies.

Republican In Name Only Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has done all within his power to provide the venue for our demise.

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Budget & Finance Committee Meeting of July 1, 2013

Discussion and explanatiion of bills generally takes place in committee. The most important of the Council committees is Budget and Finance.

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Monday, July 01, 2013

Opponents push back against Bus Rapid Transit via West End Avenue featuring Rick Williams

Nashville political consultant Rick Williams leads opposition to the Bus Rapid Transit Amp down West End Avenue from Five Points. "Most businesses on West End don't know this is happening," he told East Nashville Conservatives. "If you drive a car your travel time will double the day BRT opens up on West End." An alternative Williams could live with is a route down Charlotte rather than West End. He pointed out more people ride the bus on Charlotte and the area needs economic development. Williams expressed concern about the lack of environmental, safety and historical study of the West End route. Proponents of the project expect $75 million federal money and $35 million state money in support of Metro's $30 million BRT investment.

This video and report is the work of Dru Fuller and first appeared on Dru's Blog. I am legally reposting it from Facebook. Rick is a good guy and I have known him for a long time. This presentation was made at a meeting of Caffinated Conservatives, an East Nashville conservative group that meets once a month at Portland Brew East, 1921 Eastland Ave. Rick is an advocate for saving the fairgrounds, an opponent of limousine price fixing and a conservative Democrat who is gradually leaving the dark side and becoming a Republican. He is not really my cousin.

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Tennessee Charter School Student Growth Among the Nation's Strongest

New study finds Tennessee’s charter schools tied for highest student learning gains for reading in the country 
Nashville, Tn. — Tennessee is among eleven states in which charter school performance has outpaced traditional public school growth in both mathematics and reading, according to a newly published study by the independent Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

 The study, titled National Charter School Study 2013, evaluated charter school performance in 26 states and New York City. Tennessee’s charter school students, in comparison to their traditional public school counterparts, were found to gain the equivalent of an additional 86 days of learning in reading and 72 days in mathematics, results among the highest of all schools studied. Tennessee is tied with Rhode Island among states studied for the highest growth in reading.

“The Tennessee Charter Schools Association believes that growth is the most significant measure of how well a school is serving its student population, so we are truly pleased to see that Tennessee’s charter schools are making such a strong impact on student gains,” said Tennessee Charter Schools Association Executive Director Matt Throckmorton. “This study reaffirms the fact that strong accountability for charter schools at the district and state level in Tennessee leads to positive results for our students.”

In a press release regarding the study’s publication, Dr. Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO at Stanford University, is quoted as stating: “The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students.”

This fall, Tennessee is projected to have an estimated 70 charter schools serving more than 16,500 students. The majority of the Tennessee’s charter schools serve students in the state’s largest urban areas, Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga.

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updated: What's on the Council Agenda for June 2 with analysis and summary

Council to vote in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and it will pass by a unanimous vote. To pass the Barnes fund for Affordable housing. To unquestionably approve all Mayor appointees.

Updated 7/1/2013. Staff analysis has been reviewed.

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. You can get your copy of the Metro Council Staff Analysis at this link: Staff Analysis.

At this time, the Metro Council Staff Analysis had not been posted on-line. I will try to update this post once the Council staff analysis is available. Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just boring.

Confirmation of Appointment:
There are nine appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda, but they might as well not be, because our rubber-stamp Council never turns down a Mayor's appointee. Questioning appointees, asking them if they would, for example, vote to fire the CEO of Nashville Electric Service for his malfeasance would give the Council influence over how this city is governed, but the Council never exerts its authority.

I would like for the Council to reject all appointees to the Human Relations Commission who support the Commissions sponsorship of a Youth Pavilion at the annual Gay Pride event, but not a single Council Member even asks the HRC appointees their view of this policy.

Bills on Public Hearning: There are eight bills on public hearing. They are all local zoning bills and not of general interest.

There are fourteen resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is likely to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda but I don't expect that to happen. 
RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-757 is the only resolution that I see that may be controversial. It approves the charging of a fee for collection of excess garbage. If one has a third garbage container, the city charges an extra annual fee of $75. This is unpopular with those who must pay it, however I doubt they have enough clout to generate any support in the Council. Next year, Public Works proposes charging the fee for the second garbage container but that will come before the council then.
Bills on First reading almost always pass. They are considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There are nineteen bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: 
It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. Here are the ones of interest: 
Bill NO. BL2013-476 (the boot bill) makes it easier to "boot" your car and raises the fee booting companies can charge from $50 to $75. This bill was deferred from last council meeting.

BILL NO. BL2013-487 establishes the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to assist in providing affordable housing to residents of Davidson County and it appropriates an initial sum of $2,279,040 to the fund, and establishes the Metropolitan Housing Trust Fund Commission to oversee the fund. The money appropriated to the fund is from a variety of sources including funds from repayment of Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) loans. Most of the money that will fund this program is money that was supposed to be spend in a "pocket of poverty" to benefit low-income people. Most of the money has been used to bribe (crony capitalism "incentives") business to come to Nashville or expand in Nashville or not leave Nashville (HCA, Lowes Hotel). I think this program is a better use of the money. This program will not require funding from property taxes and will not impact the city budget. The money repaid from UDAG can not be used for general government operating cost but must to used for affordable housing or economic development. I support this program. I expect this to pass but would not be too surprised to see it deferred a meeting. This is a big deal and has been advocated for a long time. 
Bills on Third Reading:
Third Reading is the final reading. If a bill passes third reading it becomes law unless it is vetoed by the Mayor, which has only rarely happened. There are ten bills on third reading and I don't expect any of them to generate controversy. The only one I find of any interest is this one:
ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-433 requires that all fees collected for having an extra garbage cart be used to fund the recycling program. I do not know why recycling should have a designated source of funding. In my view, funding for recycling should be subject to the Mayor's and Council's budgetary process just like everything else. There are seven memorializing resolutions. 
Memorializing resolutions:
Memorializing most often do such things as honor someone on their retirement or honor a sports team for a victory. However, a memorializing resolution does represent the will of the Council. There have been several instances where the Council passed memorializing resolutions endorsing very liberal policies and not a single one of the conservative council members objected.

An example is that there was a resolution a few months ago declaring that global warming was in fact occurring and that it was man-made and it called for the EPA's strict enforcement of a specific parts per million concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and it praised the EPA for their enforcement. I accept that global warming is occurring and is man made, but I would have opposed that resolution because Congress never gave the EPA authority to regulate CO2 and the EPA acts as law enforcement agent and judge of their own actions. They are abusive. There is no cost benefit analysis involved in their decisions. I suspect some of the Council members who voted for this resolution do not really believe the way they voted. I suspect some of them are global warming sceptics. Why did they vote for it? They didn't know what they were voting on. They weren't paying attention. They hadn't read the agenda and it was included in the consent agenda. Or, they did not have the courage of their convictions to be the lone "no" vote.

Another incident was a resolution praising some young people who demonstrated against a State bill that some considered anti-gay. Would we have praised the young people had they been demonstrating outside an abortion clinic? No. Why praise them for pro-gay activism? Yet, our council voted for the resolution unanimously. Here is a memorializing resolution that should generate some discussion and maybe some "no" votes. I bet no one will object.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-760 urges Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. I favor compressive immigration reform, myself. Reading this bill, I do not see anything to object to. It is general and does not endorse any specific piece of legislation. However, I wish someone would amend it to include language that calls for strict border enforcement. The bill should urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform "that includes strict border enforcement." There is an argument to be made that immigration reform should not be comprehensive but taken up piecemeal, first securing the border. It will be interesting to see if 100% of the Council members support comprehensive immigration reform. If no one objects, memorializing resolutions become part of the consent agenda. If no one ask to be recorded as voting "no," then they have voted in favor. 

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The Beacon Center's Eighth annual Pork Report exposes $511 million wasted

The Beacon Center released its eighth annual Tennessee Pork Report last Wednesday. This year’s report exposes numerous examples of  ridiculous government wasteful spending including $8.5 million in incentives for the “Nashville” television show, $101 million in state spending on the shuttered Hemlock Semiconductor plant near Clarksville and $73 million in overpayment of unemployment benefits.To view the full 44-page 2013 Pork Report, click here.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Schermerhorn Concert Hall not to become Music Clity Mosque

Maybe you never heard the rumor, but it you did, rest easy. The Nashville Symphony's beautiful Schermerhorn Concert Hall, which was rescued from a bankruptcy sale at the last minute will not become a mosque. Before being rescued from bankruptcy, it was not going to become a mosque. The symphony has not subleased the hall or part of the hall to a group to use as a mosque. Or, at least some of the people who were saying this are now saying it was all a hoax.

In emails and Facebook postings an alarm was being sounded that people needed to organize to stop The Schermerhorn from becomng a mosque. This rumor was starting to pick up steam even beyond conservative activist in Nashville. It was reported on Michelle Backman's facebook page and the Michael Savage facebook page and other sites.

I did not report on this.  I would have been hesitant to join the cause anyway. If it went on the auction block and an Islamic group bought it, I would not be happy about that but I would not be terribly alarmed and would see no grounds for opposing that development. I might would have urged greater effort to find a solution that saved the Hall from the action block, and might would have made a modest financial contribution to efforts to save the Hall, but would have not joined law suites or street demonstrations.

If the Hall could not have been saved from the action bloc, and a Muslim groups  bid was the highest, so be it. While not joining a movement similar to the effort to stop the Murfressboro mosque, I would have reported on it. I am glad I did not. It was a hoax. Or, apparently it was all a hoax. Some of the people who were spreading the alarm now say they were the victim of a hoax, so I assume the whole thing was a hoax.

It was a pretty convincing hoax. The hoaxers created a good looking website that said, "Welcome to the Al Hussein Music City Mosque and Islamic Center, opening November 2013 at The Schermerhorn Symphony Center."  The site has a mission statement and list as their activities: 

* Five daily prayers * Friday khutba in English and Arabic And Somali * Islamic education classes in Arabic, Somali and English. * Weekned school for youth and children * Family serives (Marriage, counselling...) * Homeschool *Ramadan activities include: daily iftar, Traweeh, Tahajud, Eid prep. eid party. etc. *
I almost posted this, but something just did not smell right so I held off. I am glad I did not spread the rumor. It is reported that the hoax originated with a disgruntled Symphony employee, but that is not confirmed either. To view the website, follow the link. If there is more to this story than what I have reported, please let me know.

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