Saturday, March 15, 2014

When the truth is offensive nothing changes

We can't address the problem of inner city (Black) poverty if we will not admit the problem. The problem is not lack of jobs or discrimination that will not give African Americans a chance, but is the sick culture of crime, dependency, and values that make it OK for single girls to become mothers at age 15.

Paul Ryan recently got chastised by the Congressional Black Caucus for this remark:

 There is a "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value of work."
Representative Barbara Lee of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Ryan's remarks a "thinly veiled racial attack." "Let's be clear, when Mr. Ryan says 'inner city,' when he says, 'culture,' these are simply code words for what he really means: 'black'," Lee said in a statement. (link

Well, yes, "inner city" generally does mean Black community. I think Ryan knew that when he said it. Instead of Ryan sticking by his guns he backtracked and said he was "was inarticulate." "I was not implicating the culture of one community, but of society as a whole," he said. "We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity."

If we are so afraid of offending people, if we can not tell the truth, we are not going to address the root cause of "inner city" poverty. In the inner city, a young man has a better chance of going to prison than to college.  Children drop out of school barely able to read and write.  Many are unemployed because they are unemployable.  They have no skills, are not dependable, have no work ethic and an attitude. There are communities of blocks and blocks of public housing units where almost no one works and  there are no fathers.  Generations of children grow up with no role models of intact nuclear families where the parents go to work every day. In a lot of the inner city, the "baby daddy" comes and visits about the time the welfare check is delivered and this is normal.  By thirteen the young men are in juvenile and by15 the young girls are pregnant.  The highest aspiration of many young girls is to get pregnant so they can qualify for a public housing unit of their own and move out of momma's apartment. "Inner city" poverty is caused by pathological degenerate behavior. The cure for inner city poverty is for Blacks to start "acting white." There, I said it. That is what Paul Ryan should have said.

I know it is not easy to change a culture. Welfare reform was a start and progress was being made but that experiment was abandoned.  I am not for neglecting the problems of poverty. I think we should have an anti-poverty program that encourages work and families.  We should phase out public housing as we know it all together.  We should encourage and promote charter schools and school choice.  We should resurrect the concept of enterprise zones. We should think outside the box. Maybe we should pay children a bonus if they reach age 18 and have never been pregnant or in trouble with the law.  I am for doing something about poverty, but finding remarks that tell the truth "highly offensive" and the truth teller backing down from the remarks is going to ensure that we dance around the edges of the problem of inner city poverty and fail to address it.

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For profit charter schools are on the way. Bill appears set for passage.

Rep. John J. DeBerry JR.

HB1693, the bill that would allow for-profit management of charter schools advanced in the house this week. The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis was approved on a voice vote in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday and is scheduled to go before the House Education Committee on March 18. The Senate companion bill (SB1684) passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and is referred to the Calendar Committee. This bill could still be sidetracked, but it appears it is on its way to passage.

The way things are now, when a charter school is approved, the board of directors must hire a staff to run the school. The teachers and staff draw a salary.  If this bill passes, the board of the charter school could contract for a management company to run the school.  This makes so much sense but liberals, mostly white liberals,  are very much against it.  Somehow they think it is immoral to make money.  They especially think it is immoral to "allow companies to make a buck on the backs of Tennessee’s public school kids," as Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr said recently

Why they think this, I am not sure. Is it that education is so important that we should educate kids without making a profit? No one educates kids for free. Teachers and principals in pubic schools earn a salary.  Why is a dollar earned in salary considered clean respectable money, but a dollar earned in profit thought of as dirty money?  We do other things that are just as important "for profit."  We have for-profit hospitals, for-profit companies managing prisons, and most of our housing, transportation and food comes from for-profit companies. Without food you die, yet do liberals think food is so important it should be provided without anyone making a profit? Is it immoral to make a profit off of food?

 Maybe opponents of for-profit charter schools think that profit is just an added cost to an item or service.  Maybe they think that without the profit, things would cost less. Non-profit organization are not necessarily less costly than government or non-profit entities.  In many cases things are much less costly when provided by a for-profit company than a not-for-profit company. A bottom line forces companies to look at how money is spend. It creates different way of looking at things. It forces companies to be efficient. Innovation seldom originates in government agencies, but in for profit companies. Does anyone think a Big Mac would cost less if McDonald's was a non-profit?

Communist Russian, the cold war Eastern Block countries, and China prior to economic liberalization, were countries where making a profit was forbidden and the whole country was ran as a non-profit. Even prior to the collapse of Communism they backed off from austere dogmatic communism and allowed people to make a profit in limited circumstances. Without private garden plots and local markets, the State Farms and cooperatives could not feed the people. Even Cuba, one of the two remaining real Communist countries,  has realized they need for-profit taxi cabs if they are going to be able to serve the visitors coming to Cuba.  Comparing those countries to the capitalist west should cause someone to think that maybe the profit motive is an important component to delivering goods and services.

Maybe the reason liberals think that for-profit management of charter schools would be so bad it that they think the for-profit management would skimp on materials or teacher salaries and children would get short changed. That is not how markets or charter schools work. Charter schools can lose their charter if they do not produce a good product and if they are not producing a good product, they won't attract clients. People go to charter school because they want to, not because that is where they are assigned to go and are forced to attend.

Maybe the real reason liberals oppose the idea of for-profit charter schools is that it will lead to many more charter schools. Once professional school management companies are the norm, it will be easier for people to apply for new charters. Professional companies will write the application and offer their expertise in getting the applications approved and being on a board of a charter schools will be less time consuming for parents who want a charter school.  Maybe liberals fear that once there are large companies managing schools across the nation, then the inefficiency and failure of traditional public schools will be revealed. Maybe they just don't want the competition. 

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Tennessee Charter School Authorizer Bill Dies in Senate

Press release from Tennessee Charter Schools Association, March 14, 2014, Nashville, TN - The Tennessee Charter Schools Association (TCSA) released the following statement upon the Senate's refusal to hear HB 702/SB 830, the charter school authorizer reform bill:

"Along with our partners in education reform, TCSA is disappointed that the Senate refused to vote on SB 830 (HB 702) today. Unfortunately, the concept of broadening educational options for Tennessee students has once again become the victim of politics, despite thoughtful consideration over the bill through ten committees and passage in the House yesterday with a vote of 62 to 30. This legislation, which earlier in April received funding in the Governor's budget, has been championed throughout the legislative session by education reform stakeholders including the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, Students First - Tennessee, Stand for Children - Tennessee, and Democrats for Education Reform - Tennessee.

"Strong public charter schools are leading successful education reform in our state, with many delivering the best results of all Tennessee public schools. This bill sought to strengthen the charter school authorization process, drawing the focus of decisions toward merit and expanding the possibility of excellent public charter schools throughout the state.

"TCSA is grateful for the strong leadership of House Speaker Beth Harwell, Representative Mark White, Representative Harry Brooks and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in supporting this bill and working tirelessly to improve educational options in Tennessee. We will continue to work with community and state leadership toward improvements in the law that will make great public charter schools a possibility for Tennessee families in need of options."

The Tennessee Charter Schools Association, founded in 1998, serves quality public charter schools by educating communities, empowering supporters, and promoting legislation to create an educational landscape of excellent options for all students.

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Federalist Society meeting to present Bringing Constitutional Order to Tennessee’s Judicial Selection

The Nashville Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society
 Bringing Constitutional Order to Tennessee’s Judicial Selection
 Judge Holly Kirby
 March 18, 2014 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
 The Law Offices of Waller Lansden, Dortch & Davis, LLP Nashville City Center 511 Union Street, Suite 2700 Nashville, Tennessee 37219

 Lunch Will Be Served If you’d like to join us, please pay $15 by noon on March 17 via this link.

The Honorable Holly Kirby is Governor Haslam's nominee to the Supreme Court. She will be talking about Amendment 2, then taking questions. We welcome conservative non-attorneys interested in constitutional courts. 

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Daniel Horwitz: Meth users need treatment, not prison

by Daniel Horwitz, The Tennessean, March 14 - Before debating the proper response to Tennessee’s crippling addiction to methamphetamine, there are two universal truths that must first be acknowledged. First, nobody has ever grown up with dreams of becoming a meth addict. Second, if you learned that a loved one had become addicted to methamphetamine, your solution to that problem would not be to have that person arrested and hauled off to Riverbend.
Tennessee doesn’t need new laws criminalizing further what we have already been unsuccessfully criminalizing for decades. What we need is a dramatic rethinking of our approach to drug policy that focuses on treatment rather than punishment, and we need it soon. Meth addiction in Tennessee is a problem that affects all of us. People’s lives — all of our lives — hang in the balance. (read more)

Daniel Horwitz is an attorney in Nashville and a 2013 graduate of Vanderbilt Law School.
My Comment: This is a thought provoking article from Daniel Horwitz. I am in general agreement that people should not be locked up for drug use. I think addicts should be treated rather than imprisoned. And, we should realize that not every casual user of recreational drugs is an addict needing treatment.  I support legalization of marijuana and small fines for other drugs deemed socially harmful. We should look to the success that decriminalization of drug use has had in Portugal and apply that lesson to the U.S. The "war on drugs" is not working.

Meth, however, seems to be so addictive that I wonder if drug treatment programs can work.  People apparently can become addicted to meth after only one use and are willing to abandon their children, steal from their parents, and destroy their health for the next high. It is not a victimless crime. Can users get off meth in an out-patient treatment program? I don't know.  I would want information that shows that out-patient treatment can work.  Maybe, the only way someone can get off  meth is by locking them up and keeping them away from the drug. However, law enforcement has not been able to stamp out meth use and in some parts of the state it is a terrible epidemic that not only destroys the user but contributes to a crime wave and abandoned children.  If law enforcement has failed, it may be time to try another approach. Maybe if other drugs were more easily available, meth would have less appeal and its use would dwindle.

The process of producing meth however is so dangerous that I would not favor reducing the penalty for production of meth.  Meth cooking can cause explosions and fires and danger to the health of children and other people living in the house where meth is produced and it leaves behind an environmental hazard.

At CPAC this year, issues of prison and sentencing reform were a hot topic.  Issues such as mandatory sentencing, restoring voting rights of convicted criminals who have served their time, real job training and rehabilitation, removing restrictions on what careers and professional licensing ex offenders can pursue, use of drug courts, and drug policy were topics of  speeches and panel discussions. Several organization had exhibition booths advocating reforms.  I think there is a realization on the part of conservatives and the public in general that we lock up too many people in this country and that "tough on crime" and mandatory sentencing has failed. One speaker said prisons are training grounds for criminals and he explained how people convicted of minor offenses can come out of prison socialized to be hardened criminals.  One speaker who had spend a career in law enforcement then ran afoul of the law himself and went to prison, said that before he himself went to prison, he thought all people in prison were bad people.  He said he served time with one person who was in prison for selling a whale's tooth on ebay.

I am not sure what we ought to do about meth users but we should explore alternatives to imprisonment and we need to take a hard look at our whole sentencing and imprisonment system.

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Alexander: Raising the minimum wage is not the way to fight poverty. There are better ideas.

Lamar Alexander
Washington, D.C., Press Release, March 12 – At a hearing today of the Senate labor committee, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, the committee’s senior Republican, said there were better ideas with bipartisan support to reduce poverty than Democrats’ proposal to increase the minimum wage by nearly 40 percent, which would cause a loss of 500,000 jobs, according to a balanced view by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

“I believe families shouldn’t live in poverty but the idea of raising the minimum wage to address that is a stale, bankrupt, ineffective policy,” Alexander said. “According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will cost low-wage workers 500,000 jobs, make it harder to create more jobs, and give 80 percent of the benefits to families above the poverty level.”

Alexander said there are a number of amendments and proposals “that Republican senators would like to offer to this bill when we have an opportunity to amend it—proposals that will create a pro-growth economy with more good jobs.”

“There are better ideas,” Alexander said. “Reform refundable tax credits to benefit all low-income workers, replace long-term unemployment compensation with job training, change Obamacare’s work week definition from 30 hours to 40 to encourage full-time jobs, and use existing federal education dollars to give children of low-income families a $2,100 scholarship to choose a better school.”

At the hearing, in response to Alexander’s questions, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf testified that the CBO projects job losses as a result of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could reach as high as 1 million, or as little as a very slight decrease, and that 500,000 losses was its “central estimate.”

Elmendorf also testified that just one in five of the dollars earned from the increase will go to workers who are members of families below the poverty level, and that nearly one-third of those families that would benefit from the minimum wage increase already earn more than three times the poverty level.

Alexander said today: “My hope is that if we were going to continue to consider this proposal about jobs, that we would be allowed to offer amendments that would do better than cause a loss of 500,000 jobs—according to a balanced view by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office—and would provide benefits to a greater share of Americans living below the poverty level than the 2 percent this proposal would help—also according to the CBO—and that would not make it more expensive to create jobs, which would seem to me to be exactly the opposite of what we should be doing in a period of time when we’ve had such longstanding unemployment among so many people.”

He added: “We would like to raise family incomes. We would like to help people move up the economic ladder. But we have a different philosophy. We’d like to take the big, wet blanket of rules and regulations off the economy that has been put on in the last few years and offer specific amendments that would that would create more growth in our economy, more jobs.”

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Update: Parents stand up to Amy Frogge; defend Nashville Prep. School Board meeting of 3/11/2014.


Below is the Tennessean's coverage of the meeting:

Dozens of Nashville Prep parents defend charter school to school board

The Tennessean, March 12, 2014, by Joey Garrison - Nashville Prep parents showed up in full force before the Metro school board Tuesday to defend a place they say is demanding yet fair — and their choice — as they sought to quash a board member’s call for an investigation of the charter school.

“I’m here because I believe it’s imperative that the voices of the parents of scholars at Nashville Prep provide the information that tells the Nashville prep story,” said Michelle Lane, whose son attends the third-year charter.

“It’s rigorous, structured and hard, but that’s a large part of why we chose Nashville Prep.”

Earlier in the day, the district’s Alan Coverstone had already found “no actionable items” after board member Amy Frogge last month asked that MNPS explore “disturbing” complaints from two parents that centered on Nashville’s Prep’s disciplinary procedures. Their children no longer attend the school. (link)

Below is the Nashville Scene's coverage: 

Will Pinkston vs. Tennessee Charter School Center

After a contentious school board meeting Tuesday night where flyers from charter supporters attacked board members Will Pinkston and Amy Frogge (pictures of the flyers with those links), Pinkston has fired back.

In a letter to the Metro Council, the former Bredesen administration official blasted the Tennessee Charter School Center.
Honorable Metro Council Members: Regarding the below email exchange ... Consider the following facts about the Tennessee Charter School Center:

1. Despite claims to the contrary, the Tennessee Charter School Center is not interested in respectful or collaborative dialogue. Last fall, this multi-million-dollar "nonprofit" organization flew in out-of-town activists to protest at Bransford Avenue after the Nashville School Board had the temerity to raise budget concerns about the unabated growth of charter schools. In case you missed it, attached is news coverage of the Center's astro-turf protest.

2. The Tennessee Charter School Center is the leading proponent of legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly that would strip the Nashville School Board, and Davidson County taxpayers, of the ability to approve or reject charter schools. This organization is a linchpin in the legislature's broader agenda to take away local control from Davidson County's elected officials.(link)

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New improved anti-AMP bill passes Senate and House Transportation Committees

A bill which would kill the AMP has passed the transportation committees of both chambers of the state legislature. If the bill wins final approval, AMP will be dead. Previously the bill would have required the AMP's design to get specific approval from the General Assembly. This was a criticism of the bill that Mayor Dean made in his email blast urging people to lobby against the bill.

"This legislation is an overreach of state authority that could set a dangerous new precedent that would prevent Nashville and other growing communities in Tennessee from making local decisions on how to best meet important infrastructure needs," wrote Dean.

While I emailed legislators asking them to support the bill, I did have reservations about it.  I think the city of Nashville should be allowed to develop a mass transit system with dedicated lanes without requiring specific state legislative design approval. However, my desire to see the AMP derailed overrode that concern about the bill.

Well, the bill has been amended to remove the provision  requiring specific approval from the State legislature of any proposed dedicated lanes use for mass transit, but the bill still accomplishes the objective of killing the AMP. The bill was amended to prohibit loading and unloading passengers in the center lane of any state highway.

State Senator Jim Tracy was the sponsor of the amendment that improved the bill.

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Video of the derailment of Common Core | Nashville News, Weather House voted Thursday to delay further implementation of Common Core standards and related testing for two years in a display of unity between conservative Republicans and Democrats that marked a sound defeat for Gov. Bill Haslam and his education allies.

The votes emerged from a convoluted and heated House floor fight – the terms “fiasco” and “shenanigans” were hurled by critics during debate – that bypassed committees where anti-Common Core bills have been corralled for weeks without a hearing. (link)

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Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, March 20,

Thursday, March 20, 2014, 5:30PM to 9:30PM
 Mafiaoza's. 2400 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN (map), ask the hostess to direct you to our sectoin.

Liberty on the Rocks is a great place to meet other people, have a beer and some great food. We promote thoughtful and rational discussion on a wide range of topics.

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TN bill to dial back Common Core standards fails

(AP) A proposal to dial back the implementation of Tennessee's Common Core standards has failed this session. The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville was defeated 7-2 in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

 The standards are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce. They have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states. Tennessee adopted them in 2010 and began a three-year phase-in the following year. The standards were fully implemented this year. (link)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I will not be atttending the anti-Common Core Rally 1:30 - 3 pm Wednesday at Legislative Plaza

There will be an anti-Common Core Rally 1:30 - 3 pm Wednesday at Legislative Plaza. I will not be attending. Many on the right including Eagle Forum, The Heritage Foundation,and  Americans for Prosperity are opposing Common Core, but I support it. I hate to be on the opposite side of  an issue with these groups with whom I am usually in alignment, but I think they are simply wrong on this issue and their arguments are weak. While I have had some concerns about common core they are primarily privacy concerns. A law working its way through the state legislature addresses those concerns. An argument against Common Core is that a national standard somehow violates a state's sovereignty and any standardization is suspect. I think some conservative would be happier if a foot was 13 inches in some states but only eleven inches in other states and we didn't all drive on the right hand side of the road.

On balance I think Common Core is a needed reform. Today, only a quarter of U.S. students who graduate from high school are ready for college.  U.S. students have fallen to 14th in the world in reading and 25th in math. Over $3 billion is spent annually on remedial education to teach college kids what they should have learned in high school.  Thirty percent of high school graduates can’t pass the U.S. military entrance exam.

Common Core will provide a more rigorous objective standard and we can truly see how students are  performing.  America is too mobile of a country not to have an education system that is not similar from state to state. An "A" student in Tennessee should not be a "D" student in Indiana. Military families move about every 18 months. It would be nice if the same common core of knowledge that was being taught in the fourth grade in one school was the same common core of knowledge being taught in another school.

I was in five different schools in the first five years of grammar school. I remember when I entered the fourth grade in South Knoxville we were given a math work sheet and I thought this is easy and I finished quickly. The problem was that the worksheet was multiplication problems, not addition problems.  In the fourth grade I entered, the students had learned multiplication in the third grade. In the third grade I had attended it was not even introduced. I think it is reasonable that nationwide there be a standard of when children are taught multiplication and other subject matter.

If you are a conservative activist, you have been inundated with arguments against Common Core.  Some of them are points of view about which reasonable people may disagree.  Some of the argument put forth against Common Core get off into the tin foil hat territory, however. There is a lot being said about what common core curriculum includes and how terrible it is when there is no such curriculum.  Some of the criticism, such as opposition to word math problems that requires a child to use reason to understand the problem, I do not understand at all.  I urge you to consider the arguments in favor of Common Core. Below are some articles and sites that explain why common core is a positive development and why we should welcome and embrace it.

Conservatives for Common Standards.

Common Core: conservative to the core. Six arguments for an idea that arose from the States by  Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli, Finn served in the Reagan administration; Petrilli served in the George W. Bush administration. Both are affiliated with the Hoover Institution.

The Political Right and the Common Core Strawman

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Rally to Stop the AMP Wednesday 12:30 PM

From Kathleen Starnes:

If you are available Wed (March 12) at 12:30 come to Legislative Plaza to support the House Bill 2156. Wear Red.. 

hey gang.. here is the list of House Reps that will be voting on House Bill 2156 tomorrow (Wed) We want them to pass HB2156
This bill will block the AMP for running down the middle of the State Hwy 1 (West End)
.Please email and call the following house members
BE POLITE..but firm...
The opposition is being nasty!!
Please vote YES on HB 2156   741-4295  741-1934    741-1721    741-6877   741-4317  741-3893  741-6829  741-2192
My Comment: Mayor Karl Dean is urging people to engage to stop HB2156. To see the mailing I received from Mayor Dean follow this link. I will try to be there for the anti-AMP rally if I can get away and will call or email the listed Representatives.  I actually think it is time Nashville started building an improved mass transit system, but taking three lanes of West End and spending $175 million to do so seems like the wrong approach. Taking roadway capacity will slow traffic on West End not speed it up. The AMP is the wrong approach on the wrong roadway.

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Big news from Florida. Republican takes Democrat Senate Seat.

From National Republican Senatorial Committee:

Big news from Florida tonight. A Republican won a special election that all the experts predicted would go for the Democrats. The reason? Just like Senate Democrats Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieau, and Mark Udall – this Democrat candidate embraced Obamacare. Tonight, she delivered her concession speech.

In the words of political analyst Chuck Todd, “Most of the Senate battles are in a lot LESS friendly places for Dems than #FL13.”
This is a good sign. We may actually take the Senate! It is time for Republicans to open their wallet and win the Senate. Here is a link to make a contribution to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

More on the Florida win from Politico:

The Florida special election Tuesday was supposed to be an ideal chance for Democrats to show that 2014 isn’t a lost year. Instead, they were dealt another body blow, further weakening their prospects for this year’s midterms.

 Democrats couldn’t have asked for a more golden opportunity. They had the right candidate matchup: Alex Sink, a respected former statewide official who nearly won the governorship in 2010, up against a former lobbyist, Republican David Jolly. They had the right district: A swing region of Florida that appeared poised to elect a Democrat after more than four decades of GOP representation. And they certainly had the money: In a year of staggering GOP spending, Sink far outraised her opponent and got nearly $4 million in help from outside Democratic groups. (Read more)

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"Stop App Think" anti-Amp song.

This is a great song and message. In Nashville there is song for every thought and emotion. For more on Darryl MacQuarrie, check him out on Facebook.

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News from Caffeinated Conservatives. Group to meet Saturday March 22.

From Caffeinated Conservatives:

Hi everybody,
I've come across some news you can use and some events this month you may like. If anybody has anything else good to share, please let me know.
1) Toni Eaton for Davidson County Clerk campaign kick-off event: Tuesday March 11th from 6 - 8PM at the Dairy King (306 E Thompson Lane, Nashville), come show a genuine and good person that you're ready for a Republican as County Clerk, so we can stop showing up in the news for County Clerk corruption and kick-back stories! Since the Clerk's office brings in a lot of money for the County, Toni is working on a plan to cut expenses and serve us, instead of looking at us to serve the Clerk! Throw her a link on Facebook while you're at it:
2) Southeast Nashville Conservative Breakfast monthly meeting: Saturday March 15th from 8:30 - 10 AM at the Shoney's at Bell Road and Cane Ridge Road in Antioch (it's the Bell Road Exit off I24E, you can't miss it). This month, Robert Duvall and Pat Carl have Heritage Action for America's Regional Coordinator Stephen Siao will be speaking about how the different candidates and elected politicians make the grade on being conservative or liberal.
3) Tennessee Firearm Association monthly meeting:   Tuesday March 18th from 6 - 8 PM at the Golden Corral in Hermitage, come have a good time with friendly gun-lovers, hear an interesting speaker, and then hear TFA Executive Director John Harris give the scoop on all things 2nd Amendment happening on the State and Federal level.
4) Caffeinated Conservatives March Meeting: Saturday March 22nd from 12 - 2 PM at Bagelface Bakery (700 Main Street), come talk with Metro Council member and Chairman of the Davidson County GOP Robert Duvall! Besides being a military veteran, Robert Duvall is as thick as you can get in Nashville politics and he has a plan to turn our Democrat county a deeper shade of Republican. Join us to pepper him with your questions and thoughts, and to find out how to get involved!

1) As many of you remember from our meeting with Courtney Rogers and John Jay Hooker, we Tennesseans have been denied our constitutional right to vote for many of our judges by our State for decades now. The Tennessean explores the issue in this article:
2) The Mayor continues to push the $210 million bus system so he can tear out the three center lanes of West End called "the AMP", but if you want to keep downtown from being wrecked with nightmarish traffic and your property taxes from going up to pay for this boondoggle, THIS WEEK you can help the State of TN stop the AMP. There are two bills in the legislature that you can help pass by emailing, calling, or visiting the people on the House and Senate committees, and you can get all the details at the wesbite:!call-to-action/c138c
3) My favorite local politics blogger Rod Williams went to the annual conservative CPAC convention, and he has all kinds of coverage for those who want to see what conservative political leaders are planning for the future.  You can get his coverage at his excellent blog here: In particular, I encourage you to watch British delegate to the European Union Parliament Daniel Hannan talk about how our ideas of liberty and freedom are not universal and have to be maintained by those who want them or we will join the rest of the world in tyranny:
4) While the news falsely implies that the FTA has awarded $27 million to the AMP project (Metro hasn't even completed the application, so it can't be awarded any money), Lt. Gov. Ramsey was pretty clear that the AMP is a terrible idea that he's not going along with:

Stephen Clements
Caffeinated Conservatives

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Joe Carr's Loyalty oath bill dies in committee

NASHVILLE -- A bill aimed at reducing crossover voting in Tennessee primary elections failed by voice vote in the state House Local Government Committee today.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, would have required each voter in a primary election to check a box agreeing that the party election "I am voting in most closely represents my values and beliefs." (link)

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Snapshots from CPAC

Dr. Ben Carson

Sarah Palen gave the closing keynote address

Rod Williams (that's me) shacking hands with Allen West

I attended CPAC with my good friend Gene Wisdom.
Gene with Senator Rick Santorum

A panel discussion on, "More Guns, Less Crime. How Law Enforcement is Begging to Embrace a
Well Armed Civilian Population." Left to right: Chris Cox, Ex. Dir. National Rifle Association; Emily Miller, Senior Opinion Editor The Washington Times; David Clarke, Sheriff Milwaukee County  Wisconsin, The Honorable Sandy Adams, former U.S. Representative. Sheriff Clarke made a persuasive argument that an armed citizenry was an aid to law enforcement.

Not many state legislators were panel members. Second from the left is Senator Mark Green of Tennessee on a panel discussing "Healthcare After ObamaCare: A Practical Gide for Living When No On Has Insurance and America Runs Out of Doctors."  He did us proud. 

Judge Jeanine Pirro speaking at The National Security Action Conference
Ann Coilture seated on the right. She is sassy and funny and biting.
I like her much better in person than on TV
Rod Williams (me), a costumed Patriot, and Gene Wisdom
There is more to CPAC than the official program. This car parked right outside
the front door of the Gayload Convention Center could not be ignored. It got
a lot of attention and a mixed reaction. 
Lynda Farley of Kentucky, Liberty Van artist and owner, has put over 300,000
 miles on the Liberty Van using it to promote conservatism and smokers rights. 

The Car won Best of Show at a Houston "Art Car" show in
the "Free Speech" divison. I did not know there was such a
thing as an "art car" show. Visit the web site "The Liberty

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Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) 2014 Annual Conference MARCH 29, 2014

PictureTennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) 2014 Annual Conference

Assessing America's Risk of Economic Warfare and CollapseMARCH 29, 2014       10:00 AM - 2:00 PMMillennium Maxwell House, Nashville, TN

Mark your calendar and get your tickets for this year's TRA conference.  This will be a must see event as it will cover many of the threats that we as a nation face both internationally and domestically.

The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) 2014 Annual Conference features three topical experts on physical and economic threats that we face as a nation.  The title of this year’s conference is “Assessing America’s Risk of Economic Warfare and Collapse.”   World leading expert on economic warfare and financial terrorism Kevin Freeman will lead us in a discussion on international threats.  Kevin is the Best Selling Author of SECRET WEAPON and most recently THE GAME PLAN and is a frequent guest on Glen Beck’s show The Blaze. 

Kevin will be signing his latest book before the event. 

Center for Security Policy founder and President, Frank Gaffney will provide us an overview of national threats.  Frank is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program “Secure Freedom Radio”  and is a weekly columnist for The Washington Times,, and Newsmax.

Michael Del Rosso will present on Grid Security and the threat from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.  Michael is a Research Fellow at the Clairmont Institute and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy.  He also is Senior Member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Past Chairman IEEE-USA Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee. Michael co-authored “Shariah: The Threat to America: An Exercise in Competitive Analysis.”

The day will also include an interactive panel discussion including Tennessee Freedom Coalition founder,Andrew “Andy” Miller and extended Q&A segment.

Former WLAC radio host Steve Gill will be our Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon.
The event will include a box lunch and there will be plenty of vendors on hand to promote their organizations and services. If you are interested in becoming a vendor please let us know as space is limited.  Email us at for details.
My Comment: While attending the CPAC convention in Washington, I attended a seminar on the topic of the threat from an EMP attack. I am convinced that this is a real threat and America is very vulnerable. 

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Special Meeting of the Metro Nashville Council's Budget & Finance and Education Committees on March 10, 2014


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Monday, March 10, 2014

Notes from The National Security Forum not at CPAC. What should be America's role in the World?

CPAC was great! At CPAC you hear from all of the top tier conservative politicians. I heard rousing speeches by Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Newt Gringirch, Sarah Palin and many others. There were also panel discussion on gun rights, health care, prison and sentencing reform, the budget crisis, marijuana legalization, the roots of the conservative movement, the libertarian and conservative tension and fusion, and more.

In addition there were movies and entertainment and an exhibit hall with dozens of booth manned by people promoting their cause, viewpoint, product, organization or publication. Despite CPAC being great however, it was not as great as last year. My only complaint is that this year there were fewer small break- out session. I like the cheer-leading and rah rah political rally and theater, but I also want sessions of substance that make me think and sessions where I learn something. The break- out session provide a greater opportunity to ask questions and interact with a panel of experts and see famous scholars and authors up close. They provide an opportunity to delve into more detail on a topic on interest.

One thing I wanted was a more in-depth discussion of foreign policy and America's role in the world. CPAC did have some panel discussion on this topic but they were in the big room with thousands of people. Unless you were up close, it was almost like watching it on TV.  Also, the panel session are short and may only last thirty minutes and have five people on a panel. That is hardly time to get in-depth on a topic. I ending up not being disappointed however. I got my fill of discussion of foreign policy issues, but I got it from a source that was not officially part of CPAC.

Across the street from the Gaylord where CPAC was taking place, at the Weston Hotel, Breitbart News Network hosted an event called "Uninvited: The National Security forum during CPAC." The event included a full day of events with top conservative leaders, scholars, ex- generals and other foreign policy experts and it was free to anyone attending CPAC. The speakers had impressive credentials and were well respected scholars and experts in their field and had  distinguished careers. They provided in-depth exploration of the security threat facing the world, America's national interest, and America's role in the world.  Panels included: "The Muslim Brotherhood and their enablers," "Amnesty and Open Borders," "Behghazigate,"  "The Case of Peace through Strenth,"  "Crisis in the Ukarine," and more. Ted Cruz spoke at the event and the closing address was by Judge Neanne Pirro.

While I do not think America can be the world's policeman and we cannot solve every conflict, neither do I think we can disengage from the world. I am convinced that President Obama's weakness and attempt to solve the worlds problems by simply being nice and "leading from behind" has inviting aggression on the part of our adversaries.  The cutting of America's military strength to pre World War II levels will only invite further aggression. While I opposed the invasion of Iraq and think the neo-conservative policies of George W. Bush were a mistake, and while I do not think we can spread Democracy everywhere and nation-build in countries that do not have the prerequisites for Democracy, neither do I think we can ignore the expansionist desires of Russia and China and the threat from radical Islam and the nuclear danger posed by North Korea and Iraq. We need to have a thorough debate about America's role in the world and develop a realistic foreign policy. Barack Obama is leaving the world a much more dangerous place than he found it. We must again realize the World is a dangerous place and take a leadership role in maintaining the peace. This was a thought provoking and insightful conference.

Herman Pirchener shown speaking, Frank Gaffney the moderator, Clare LopezSebastian Gorka, Ariel Cohen, and Joel Pollack (not shown) discuss "Crisis in the Ukraine: Putin's Bid for USSR 2.0 and the needed U.S. Response."

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Ben Carson at CPAC: I won't let the PC police shut me up!

“I will continue to defy the PC police who have tried … to shut me up,” said Carson, a former neurosurgeon, to the CPAC audience. “I still believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” “Of course, gay people should have the same rights as everyone else. But they don’t get extra rights,”

This was the first time I had ever heard Dr. Carson speak in person. He was great!.  

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Senator Marco Rubio Fires Up CPAC with Speech Defining America’s role in the world

Remarks by Rubio at CPAC:

If you inherit a world where the Chinese gets to decide who gets to ship products to the South China Sea and all the countries in that region or tributaries to them… If you inherit a world where North Korea can blow up California or the West Coast of the United States with a nuclear weapon… If you inherit a world where Iran can reach the east coast of the United States or can wipe Israel off the face of the earth with a nuclear attack…

What I’m trying to say to you is that without American engagement the world I just painted to you is not just a possibility, it is a real probability.

That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be involved in fifteen wars or that American foreign policy needs to involve armed conflict with every corner of the planet, it also doesn’t mean we can solve every conflict.

We do not have the luxury of seeing the world the way we hoped it would be, we have to see the world the way it is, and we must address these issues before they become unmanageable.

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Rand Paul was a crowd favorite at CPAC. He brought down the house!

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Palin Re-Writes Dr. Seuss: 'I Do Not Like This Uncle Sam, I Do Not Like His Health Care Scam'

Sarah Palin was wonderful! I had a great seat in the center four rows back. To see more of the Sarah Palin speech follow this link.

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Rest in Peace Ted Welch 1933-2014

Ted Welch
I don't recall how it came about that I first met Ted Welch. I don't know if someone made the introduction and got me the appointment or if someone simply suggested he was someone I ought to go see and I made a cold call, but in 1980 when I decided to run for Metro Council I remember meeting with Ted Welch. Almost everyone told me I didn't stand a chance running for Council. At the time I did not have deep roots in the Woodbine community and one almost had to have the support of Sheriff Fate Thomas and Mack Smith to get elected and I did not. Also, the former council member for the district I was running in, who was then a Councilman-at-large, who was wealthy and well known in Woodbine was supporting my opponent. My chances looked very slim. Most people told me I did not stand a chance.

Ted Welch encouraged me, gave me good advice and a contribution. I will be forever grateful to Ted Welch. I did not know at the time what an important person Ted Welch was or how important he would become. By then he had already helped Winfield Dunn and Lamar Alexander get elected to high office. Later he would become important to helping Presidents get elected. Ted Welch became  one of the most influential people in the Republican party and one of the party's largest fundraisers. Over the years I would occasionally meet Mr. Welch at functions. He struck me as a caring, principled person. He was always humble and gracious. He was never arrogant or puffed up with his own importance. He was someone you immediately liked. He was a good person and a patriot.

Below are tributes and obituaries of Ted Welch:

Corker Statement on Passing of Ted Welch 
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) released the following statement today on the passing of Ted Welch.

“Ted Welch's passing marks the end of an era in Tennessee Republican history,” said Corker. “Not only will Ted be remembered for his energy, loyalty and drive but also for being a friend to many, admired by many and a powerhouse in Tennessee and across the country.”

Alexander Statement on Ted Welch
MARYVILLE, March 8 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the passing of Ted Welch:

“Ted Welch raised millions to support candidates for public office, symphonies and other charitable causes and, in my experience, never asked for one thing for himself in return. He was tireless. As a volunteer, he traveled with me to 250 presidential campaign fundraising events during one year.  The most feared seven words among those who knew him were, ‘Ted Welch is holding on line one.’ Honey and I will miss him greatly and extend our sympathies to Colleen and to his family.”

Chairman Devaney Statement on the Passing of GOP Giant, Ted Welch 
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement after learning of the passing of his friend, Ted Welch. “It was sad to hear this morning about the passing of our friend Ted Welch. Ted did so much for the Republican Party, both in Tennessee and nationally. Ted lived the American Dream and his positive, can-do attitude, was contagious. When I took over as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, Ted was the first person I sought out for advice in how to get our Party prepared financially for the upcoming election. His advice was crucial to our success. “Ted was a generous man, with a big heart and a servant of Tennessee. He will truly be missed.”

Ted Welch, Tennessee GOP fundraising giant, dead at 80 The Tennessean, Mar. 8, 2014 -
Ted Welch, the pre-eminent fundraiser in Tennessee Republican politics for four decades, whose unmatched ability to turn phone calls into big bucks for governors, senators and U.S. presidents made him a giant in the GOP, died on Saturday.

He was 80.

Mr. Welch died around 6:30 a.m. at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a result of complications from a December fall, said his wife, Colleen Conway-Welch.

A onetime door-to-door Bible salesman and longtime Nashville commercial real estate investor, Mr. Welch became a political money man of the South, helping the likes of Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Mitt Romney and others. (link)

Ted Houston Welch Obituary 
From the Tennessean, Nashville, TN- Ted Houston Welch, Nashville businessman and longtime fundraiser for the Republican Party, passed away Saturday, March 8th, 2014. Mr. Welch passed away at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Colleen Conway Welch. Ted had 3 adoring daughters with Joanne C. Thornton. He is preceded in death by his parents, Hilda Houston, his father, Louis Welch; his sister, Patsy Welch Peach; brother, Fred Welch and his oldest daughter, Kala Welch MacLeod of Nashville.

He is survived by his daughters, Terri Welch Schmidt-Fellner and Alicia Welch Davenport, both of Atlanta. He left behind sons-in-law, Don Macleod, Blair Schmidt-Fellner and David Davenport. He is also survived by his sister, Mae Welch Phy of McEwen; loving friend, Gwen Collier; his sisters-in-law, Peggy Conway, and Kathy Conway and her daughter, his goddaughter, Lexi Woop. Ted had 5 grandchildren, Lauren MacLeod, Meredith Macleod, Tee Schmidt-Fellner, Alex Schmidt-Fellner, Pierce Schmidt-Fellner, and many nieces and nephews. He will be greatly missed by his adored dogs, Sarge and Little Bit, and his cat, TC.

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, March 15th at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 2:30 p.m. After the service, the family will be receiving visitors at the Welch residence.

Honorary Pallbearers include: Senator Lamar Alexander, Janet and Jim Ayers, Russell Boac, Julie and Dr. Frank Boehm, Senator Bill Brock, Jean and Denny Bottorff, Dr. Daniel Claassen, Gwen Collier, Charlotte and Tom Cone, the Honorable Lew Conner, Senator Bob Corker, David Davenport, Governor Winfield Dunn, Senator Bill Frist, Bill Hagerty, Governor Bill Haslam, Jim Haslam, Spencer Hayes, Nancy and Billy Ray Hearn, Debbie Hill, Darlene Holland, Gordon Inman, Dr. Kathy Kunkel, Sandra Lipman, Don MacLeod, Rob McCabe, Rick Michaels, Susie Overman, Dr. John Peach, Bob Perkins, Blair Scmidt-Fellner, John Seigenthaler, Mary Ruth and Bob Shell, Susan and Luke Simmons, Steven Smith, Ellen Smogur, Bobby Thomas, Ben Wilkenson, Howard Wilkins and Steve Woodard. (link)

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