Friday, January 01, 2016

150,0000 people welcome the New Year with Nashville's Bash on Broadway

News Channel 5: NYE Bash On Broadway Draws Record Crowd
The Tennessean:  Bash on Broadway draws record New Year’s crowd

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Brian Kelsey's 5 Priorities for 2016

Dear Rod,

I hope that your family enjoyed a blessed Christmas season, and I write to wish you a Happy New Year.  A new year means a time for renewal for many.  It's a chance to start over with new resolutions and the prospect of an upcoming year better than the last.  For me, a new year means leaving home to spend much of the next four months working hard for you in Nashville. Here's a preview of what I'll be working on.

1.  Criminal Justice Reform
During the 2016 session I will be pushing for reforms to our criminal laws that keep Tennesseans safer by keeping violent offenders behind bars longer. I will also seek to save taxpayer dollars by considering alternative penalties for nonviolent offenders.
2.  Opportunity Scholarships
As new jobs are brought to Tennessee and Shelby County, we must have a ready supply of educated workers to fill the ranks.  Opportunity Scholarships will allow low-income students to escape the bottom 5% of schools in the state and use the funds that we are already spending on them to instead attend private schools.
3.  Hall Tax Repeal
The oppressive Hall Tax on interest and dividends discourages saving and investment and disproportionately impacts senior citizens and those on fixed incomes.  Opponents to my efforts to repeal the tax can no longer claim the need for offsetting, additional state revenue. With the state sitting on a $600 million surplus and economists' projections of future surpluses, we can repeal the Hall Tax, keep paying local governments their share of the revenue, and not have to cut one dime from state or local government.
4.  De-annexation
Now that we have successfully brought an end to forced annexation, it is time to provide a fix for those communities annexed against their will in prior years.  Legislation allowing certain communities a vote to de-annex will bring much needed economic growth to neighborhoods like Cordova and Southwind.
5.  Judicial Confirmation
I was honored to sponsor two successful amendments to the Tennessee constitution: one to forever prohibit a state income tax and another to adopt a Founding Fathers model for selecting appellate judges. I hope that the first few days of session will see implementation of the latter amendment and confirmation of the most conservative Tennessee Supreme Court in my lifetime.
May you have a blessed and prosperous 2016!

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Marsha Blackburn's 2015: A year in review.


Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and your 2016 is off to a great start! The year upon us promises to be an exciting one and I’m looking forward to leading the fight for reduced government spending, protecting our most vulnerable, and ensuring American families are safe.

Before we look ahead, I want to take a few minutes and celebrate what we accomplished in 2015. We fought and had many successes in the battle for faith, family, freedom, hope, and opportunity. I’m not giving up that fight in the new year and hope to look back at 2016 with many more successes for the Conservative cause.

Fought for Tennessee taxpayers. This year I achieved permanent tax relief for Tennessee families. Language in this year’s tax extenders bill made permanent the ability of Tennesseans to deduct their state and local sales tax from their federal income tax. I, along with Congressman Kevin Brady, have been leading the fight in the House on the issue for over a decade. Making these deductions permanent is vital to Tennessee families and small businesses as it will allow millions of dollars to be pumped back into our economy.

Fought to cut out-of-control spending. As I have in every Congress in which I’ve served, I  offered my colleagues a choice of spending reduction bills: HR 39, to make 1 percent across-the-board rescissions in non-defense, non-homeland-security, and non-veterans-affairs discretionary spending for each of the fiscal years 2015 and 2016, HR 49, to make 2 percent across-the-board rescissions in non-defense, non-homeland-security, and non-veterans-affairs discretionary spending for each of the fiscal years 2015 and 2016, and HR 58, to make 5 percent across-the-board rescissions in non-defense, non-homeland-security, and non-veterans-affairs discretionary spending for each of the fiscal years 2015 and 2016. You will remember we were successful in having the 2% cut included in the Budget Control Act of 2011. That one provision has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions since implementation.

Fought for national security. It seems everyone but our President is very concerned about the security of this country and the American people. Recently, DHS Secretary Johnson admitted that ISIS could ‘exploit’ our refugee program to conduct attacks here at home, something my colleagues and I have been saying for weeks. We must do everything in our power to eliminate terrorist threats – which is why I introduced legislation this year that would temporarily defund the refugee resettlement program until certain conditions are met. We must confront the danger of radical Islamic extremism. Senator Sessions is leading this effort in the Senate.

Fought to protect you and your data. We cannot afford to sit idly by as malicious hacker groups, and the countries that sponsor them, devise more sophisticated and effective ways to attack our citizens, businesses, and government institutions. I introduced HR 1770, The Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015, which would protect consumers by improving data security provisions and setting a national breach notification standard for industry. The private sector and government should be working together to share information about threats. This legislation has successfully moved through the committee process and is ready for a vote by the full House.

Fought for Fort Campbell. Fort Campbell is the most heavily deployed Army post in the country, providing both the personnel and capabilities to respond and to protect our national interests. When Fort Campbell suffers a troop reduction, it is felt by our entire nation. I worked hard to ensure Fort Campbell was not hit hard by this year’s troop reduction. Additionally, I secured a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes funding for the “Army and Air Force flying hours program,” to provide training and flight hours at 100% levels for military aviators. Military installations across the country are facing budget constraints that will have an impact on military readiness programs. I have worked tirelessly to ensure the vital flying hours program provides the training necessary for mission success and the safety of our soldiers at Fort Campbell.

Fought to improve healthcare. Health care costs continue to rise and have become unsustainable for American families. Obamacare has not delivered upon the promise of access to healthcare. Millions of people have been given insurance cards, but find their deductibles and copayments make the insurance unaffordable and unusable. It is truly too expensive to use. Thousands are left without healthcare as they find it more difficult to find providers who are on the narrow Obamacare networks. My office hears regularly from constituents about the expense and the difficulty with the website and the bureaucrats who run the program. We also hear from businesses that are facing enormous fines because they want to provide better coverage to their employees than what is mandated by the misnamed Affordable Care Act but are being told no. Obamacare must be repealed and replaced with what we know works. Patient based reforms that use market forces to give consumers leverage is the best way to provide access to quality, affordable healthcare. One part of the solution is legislation I authored, HR 543, the Health Care Choice Act of 2015, which would allow Americans to buy insurance policies across state lines. The bill would allow insurance companies to compete for your business, offering plans with the benefits you want at a price you can afford.

Technology is all around us on our smart phones and watches. And these technologies are one key to improving healthcare access and outcomes. We must be sure our federal regulators are in the right lane when it comes to new technologies and their application in healthcare. The FDA is the agency charged with assuring the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical devices. But data is not a drug or device and it makes no sense to regulate it as such. However obvious that is, it hasn’t stopped the FDA from trying to make medical device law fit health IT. Medical device legislation was enacted in the 1970s. Leisure suits were popular and floppy disks had just been invented. We need to modernize the FDA authorities to reflect the new reality of health IT. That is why I introduced, HR 2396 the SOFTWARE Act. My SOFTWARE Act was part of a larger piece of legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act. The 21st Century Cures Act is landmark legislation that will speed treatments to people who have illnesses ranging from Alzheimer’s, autism, ALS, to zoonotic diseases and everything in between. This legislation has passed the House and is in the Senate waiting for action.

Fought for our seniors. You have worked hard for your social security dollars and they should be there when you need them. The federal government should not treat social security as a fungible source to shore up bad programs in the budget. My bill, HR 603, the Save Social Security for Seniors Act creates a true trust fund for those social security dollars so that they may not be appropriated for other uses. I also introduced HR 4090, the Health Care Choices for Seniors Act, legislation that would allow seniors to choose private insurance over Medicare without penalty. Due to the mandates of the federal government, seniors are given no option but to join Medicare. This legislation establishes a pathway that allows seniors to retain control of their healthcare decisions, stay with their current doctors and decide what’s best for them.
Fought for our military and veterans. This year’s defense bill passed both the House and Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The NDAA includes increased pay and benefits for our troops, safeguards our military personnel by allowing them to carry firearms on military bases and in recruitment facilities, improves access to child care on military installations, and provides our military with the resources needed to protect our country against the ever growing threat of terrorist groups such as ISIS. Thank you to Friends of Fort Campbell for the great job you have done in helping me secure some of these wins.

Fought to protect the life of all yet to be born. Every life is precious and we must work to build a culture that respects the right to life. The use of taxpayer money to fund big abortion businesses is both morally indefensible and fiscally irresponsible. I’m so honored to have been named as Chairman of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. This select committee is tasked with gathering information and getting the facts about medical practices of abortion service providers and the business practices of the procurement organizations who sell baby body parts Additionally, I wrote HR 3494, the Protecting Infants Born Alive Act, which would amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to ban any provider proven of violating the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act from participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP and will allow states that suspect any violation of this law to ban those suspected from the state’s Medicaid program.
Fought to keep the internet free. I have been leading the fight against the Obama Administration’s net neutrality regulations since they were first proposed in 2010 by Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski. Despite being struck down by a Federal Appeals Court in January of 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the FCC had once again adopted new Net Neutrality rules on February 26, 2015. In response to this announcement from Chairman Wheeler, I reintroduced legislation I first authored in the 112th Congress to block the FCC's efforts to implement new net neutrality rules. Additionally, I introduced HR 1106, the States' Rights Municipal Broadband Act of 2015, which would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overriding state and local municipal broadband laws. This fight over the control of the internet is a First Amendment issue and we will continue to use every legislative means to block government control of the Internet.

Fought to close and protect the border. Secure countries have secure borders. Today, every state is a border state and every town is a border town. Since coming to Washington, I’ve worked to ensure that our immigration policies are in sync with this new reality. My legislation, HR 2964, the CLEAR Act of 2015, a reintroduction of legislation we first filed in 2006, gives law enforcement the tools they need to help the Federal government deport criminal aliens from our country and withholds certain funding for sanctuary cities. In addition, I’ve led the fight in the House to stop President Obama’s executive amnesty. I passed an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill in January to freeze the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

Fought for energy independence. Cheap and reliable energy is crucial to restoring our economic strength. We need to pursue clean, economical and responsible energy options that ensure we have access to the energy we need – including natural gas, nuclear, and coal. We should not allow ourselves to be hamstrung by the environmental lobby that pushes winners and losers at the expense of the American people. This year I introduced HR 1273, the Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act of 2015, which increases transparency and cost-effectiveness in the development of model energy codes, which set the baseline for energy efficiency in buildings. This legislation was successful and passed the House with inclusion in HR 702, common sense legislation that will help promote our energy security, economic security and national security by lifting the ban on crude oil exports. The four decades old ban on exporting crude oil was outdated policy that needed to be updated to reflect current realities.

Fought for Tennessee’s creative community. The Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act, HR 1999, is bipartisan legislation that would condition the ability of broadcasters to opt for retransmission consent payments on whether radio stations they own pay performers for their music. Further, a provision that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from imposing radio chip mandates for mobile devices has been added to the bill. Internet radio pays music creators fair market value for their performances, Satellite radio pays music creators for performances, Cable and Satellite TV/radio stations pay music creators for their performances. Everyone but AM/FM radio pays. This is a basic issue of fairness that must be addressed. In addition, I’m leading the effort in the House to ensure music creators receive fair compensation for their work as the lead co-sponsor of HR 1733, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

It’s been a busy year. Thank you for staying in the fight with me and I look forward to celebrating many more successes with you.


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Senator Alexander dissapoints on his support for an Internet tax. It is time for Alexander to retire.

Lamar Alexander
I have remained a supporter of Senator Lamar Alexander's despite many of my Republican friends saying he is far too liberal for their taste. I do not think "working across the aisle" and compromise and bi-partisanship are bad things. I have liked Alexander's moderate demeanor and temperament.  I like that he is polite and thoughtful. I have also liked his support of the great outdoors. I admire his successful effort to finally replace No Child Left Behind with a program that is less federally intrusive.

However, on more and more issues I find myself in disagreement with the positions of Senator Alexander. An example is his recent vote on the omnibus spending bill which he supported. The bill was not all bad and there were a few victories for conservatives in the bill but on balance, I think the proper vote was a vote against it.

Unfortunately, Lamar Alexander is disappointed me on another current issue and that is his position in favor of an Internet tax. I am not speaking of a sales tax on things you buy on the Internet but a tax on the Internet itself.  If you use the Internet or email, he wants local and state governments to be allowed to tax you for Internet service. 

Alexander is not only favoring allowing such a tax by local or state governments but is the lead opponent in stopping a current ban on the tax from becoming permanent. The Internet Tax Freedom Act banning a tax on Internet service was first passed in 1998 and has been renewed every year since.  Now there is a move to make that ban permanent. Alexander argues that Congress has no right to interfere with the states’ abilities to levy taxes.  He says to allow state and local governments to tax Internet access is a case of federalism. I'm not buying it.  The Congress does have a right to interfere with the ability of state and local governments to tax when a state in attempting to tax interstate commerce. They not only have a right, but a duty to do so The Constitution says only Congress can regulate interstate commerce. It is one of the enumerated powers given to Congress and says Congress has the power, "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

The Internet is interstate commerce. If you have email and email a message to someone out of state, that is interstate commerce. To pay a tax on that email use would be much like buying a bus ticket in Nashville and paying a sales tax on the full ticket price even though the trip is to Chicago and most of the travel will be outside the state.  There are nuances and various court cases that interpret and apply the Commerce cause and I am not the expert, but the way I understand it, use of the Internet should clearly be considered interstate commerce.

The Wall Street Journal has editorialized in opposition to Alexander's position of allowing state and local government to tax the Internet. Below is an excerpt:
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) R., Tenn.) is leading the Senate dead-enders who are once again holding hostage the popular ban on Internet-only taxes. The House has passed a permanent ban several times, most recently as part of a larger customs bill. But Mr. Alexander and friends are blocking Senate action until Congress also votes on a more controversial measure to give state and local governments more authority to force out-of-state merchants to collect online sales taxes. Sen. Alexander tells us that his opposition to the Internet Tax Freedom Act is a “simple matter of federalism,” and that it’s “none of Washington’s business” whether states and localities want to apply new taxes online. The Senator is mis-defining federalism to justify more taxing. (link
I have supported Lamar Alexander ever since he first ran for governor.  Back then, Tennessee was a predominantly Democrat state. East Tennessee was solidly Republican but the rest of the state was Democrat. Winfield Dunn had been elected governor in 1971 but was the first Republican to win that office in fifty years. At that time Governors could only serve one term. Following Governor Dunn, Democrat Congressman Ray Blanton ran for and won the office of Governor. It was not long into his term as governor that the accounts of corruption began being rumored. It was the selling of pardons and paroles that finally brought him down.

Governor Blanton did not seek a second term and the Democratic nominee in 1978 was Jack Butcher.  During that campaign, candidate Lamar Alexander walked the length of the state from Mountain City in the northeast corner of the state to Memphis in the southwest corner, wearing a red plaid flannel shirt. Along the way he gained attention and popularity and in the general election defeated Butcher.

Learning that Goveror Blanton  was planning a last minute pardon of a large number of prison inmates, Democrats such as U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin, Lieutenant Governor John S. Wilder and State House Speaker Ned Ray McWherter looked for a way to prevent that from happening. They found that the state constitution was unclear as to when a newly elected governor could actually take office and they swore Alexander in three days before the traditional inauguration day. That was high drama at the time.

On the day of the ceremonial swearing in, I walked with hundreds of other people in a parade up Charlotte Avenue to the Capitol building led by Lamar Alexander where he was sworn in. I went and bought myself a red plaid flannel shirt for the occasion. I also wore a button, which I think I still have somewhere, that had on a red plaid background the message, "I walked a mile with Lamar," or something like that. Even since, I have been a fan and supporter of Lamar Alexander.

Over the years, on occasion I have disagreed with votes he has cast but on balance have approved of his service. In recent years however, Lamar has disappointing me more and more often. His effort to stop a ban on a tax of the Internet, may be the final straw that makes me no longer able to support him.  I still like Lamar and don't want to vote against him. In the last election I voted for him, contributed to his campaign and had his bumper sticker on my car.

If he runs again it will depend on who is primary opponent is as to whether or not I support him, of course.  If he was running again against someone like Joe Carr, I would still vote for him despite some recent disagreements with him including his current stand on taxing the Internet. Elections are often about selecting the least objectionable candidate and if the race was between Joe Carr and Lamar Alexander, Alexander would still be the least objectionable candidate and I would still put a Lamar bumper sticker on my car.  Carr was too far outside the mainstream of conservative thought for me to vote for him. He subscribed to the discredited theory of nullification, he believed the First Amendment does not apply to Muslims and that the Second Amendment should allow one to carry a gun onto the private property of another regardless of the desires of the property owner.  Also Carr did not strike me as that competent or smart.

However, if someone who was solidly conservative and rational and smart (someone like Senator Mark Green for instance) was running against Alexander, I think I would have to vote against Alexander. I hope I don't get that chance. I hope I don't have to make that decision.  I really do not want to cast a vote against Lamar Alexander.  I hope that Alexander does little damage between now and the next election and then retires with dignity while still admired and respected. In July he will be 76 years old. He has served as governor, president of the University of Tennessee, Secretary of Education, and Senator. He should retire with dignity and be the beloved elder statesmen.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year Tips from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

Happy New Year!

It is that time of the year again will more people will be driving drunk than any other night of the year.   Unfortunately a lot of inexperienced amateur drunk drivers will on the road. A lot of people will have their judgment impaired and think they are perfectly capable of driving  but they will be drunk and the police will be out in force.

This  guide from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving is provided  to help you improve your drunk driving skills and enjoy the new year.

(1) Don't Drive drunk. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else. Don’t do it. If you are lucky and don't kill someone or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children, a lot of money, and maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you. If at a friend's house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night. 

Use the peer-to-peer livery services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient. You page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until you're drunk to try to download the app. Here is a link to the Uber app.

(3) Use Sober Ride. Sober ride is a service of the Sheriff's office. They will drive you home and there is no reporting or penalty for using the service. This is the 32nd year the Sheriff's office has been offering this service. Those in the downtown area who need a sober ride should go to the pick-up location at Second Avenue and Church Street. Volunteers took more than 500 people home last year. Drivers will take people home or to a hotel but not to another party or bar, and serves Davidson County only. Operating hours are from 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve until 2 a.m. New Year’s Day and no reservations are accepted.
(3) Pick the designated driver before you start drinking.  If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people then have a designated driver. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.
Despite the above advice I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk.

I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are possibly driving impaired I am providing these below tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(3) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. See the above. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(4) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” That is what often happens. If  for New Years you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner liquore with coffee, and a champagne toast at midnight, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.

On occasion I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight in a four hour period, but it has happened.

A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(5)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. When I go to the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway to party, I never park on Broadway. I live on the south side of town, so I park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. This means I do not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(6) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are may have had enough to register drunk and use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Be aware of this.

(7) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate
to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling "Happy New Year" out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(8) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(9) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(10) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(11) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

 (12) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk straight and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop. (link)

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(13) If you are seeing double, close one eye. 
I have never been arrested for drunk driving but I admit I have been guilty of it. I guess I have been lucky. As a young adult I was more often guilty of it than I have been as an older adult. Nevertheless, from time to time, I still have probably technically met the blood alcohol level for being drunk.

Stay safe. Don't drive drunk. Drive careful. Happy New Year.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Get state out of the marriage business altogether, proposes State Rep. Rick Womick

 In the past I have often disagreed with some of the positions taken by Representative Rick Womick. Now however, I think Womick has come up with an idea that has merit and that is that the State should simply stop issuing marriage license. There is nothing that I am aware of that requires the state to issue marriage license.  The Supreme Court has said the State can not refuse to issue a marriage license to two people of the same sex.  However, what would happen it the State did not issue any marriage license?

People could still go to the local court house and have their marriage recorded, just as they can have a prenuptual agreement, a will, or a mortgage lien recorded. By recording something, the State bears no responsibility for its accuracy.  If Donald Duck and Micky Mouse want to have a marriage license recorded, the recording authority is simply recording the data, not validating it. It three people want to record a "marriage" that does not in and of itself make it legal or condoned by the State. If people want to get married and not bother recording the marriage, that would be fine too; they would still be married. I like what Womick is saying.  Unless I hear a persuasive agreement as to why this is not a good idea, I am for it.

I am not one who believes in the discredited theory of nullification. However, not cooperating with the Federal government is not the same as defying the Federal government. The U. S. Constitution does not even mention marriage.  Surely there is no way the Federal government could force a state to issue marriage license if the state decided to get out of the business of  doing so.

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25 Surprising Facts About Religious Rights in Public Schools

From time to time we hear anecdotal stories of the public school systems prohibiting students from expressing their Christian faith. Certainly it does happen, but if challenged, the public schools system often backs down. Also, schools systems often try to purge schools of any recognition of the dominant Christian culture in which we live by doing such things as changing "Christmas break" to "winter break."  Because of a separation of  church and state, school boards do not have to pretend that the school break that happens at the end of the year is not a "Christmas" break.

One reason secularist and politically correct bullies often win is because Christians are so damn meek and mild. Christians do have rights. If you don't stand up for your rights however, you will lose them.

The following list of "25 Surprising Facts about Religious Rights in Public Schools" is copied from an email I received from Tennessee Eagle Forum. Eagle Forum got if from Liberty Institute. To view the 33-page book that contains this list and other information about religious liberty in public schools see the  Religious Liberty Protections Kit for Students and Teachers.

1. Students and educators do have First Amendment religious rights inside public schools.

2. Students can speak about their faith even when teachers must be neutral.

3. Schools cannot treat religious activity differently than other activity.

4. Students can pray during lunch, recess, or other designated free time.

5. Students can pray silently during a school's moment of silence.

6. Students can read the Bible or other religious materials at school.

7. Students can share their faith with fellow students.

8. Schools can acknowledge religion.

9. Students can pray, either individually or as a group, at school athletic competitions, student assemblies, or other extracurricular activities when school officials are not involved.

10. In many cases, a school district can allow student- led prayer before an athletic competition (such as a football game), a student assembly, or other extracurricular event as part of the school program.

11. Students can pray at graduation ceremonies or include religious content in their speeches.

12. A public school can refer to "Christmas" and have a "Christmas party" if the intent is not to advance Christianity.

13. A public school can display Christmas decorations if the intent is to teach and not part of a religious exercise.

14. A public school can include religious Christmas music, art, or drama in a school play or performance if it is used to teach history or cultural heritage and not advance a particular religion.

15. Students can give out Christmas gifts with religious messages at school parties.

16. Students can incorporate their faith or religion in classroom and homework assignments under normal and appropriate circumstances.

17. A public school district cannot be hostile toward religious beliefs.

18. Teachers and other public school employees can discuss religion with students under many conditions.

19. Teachers and other public school employees can discuss religion with other teachers or other school employees.

 20. A public school or a teacher cannot limit religious speech by students unless they limit other speech.

21. Students can have a religious club at their school.

22. Religious student groups can meet on campus whenever other non-curricular clubs can meet.

23. Religious clubs can use the same school resources available to non-religious clubs (e.g., school facilities, bulletin boards, public address system) to promote or facilitate club events.

24. In most states, teachers or other public school employees may attend a religious student group's meetings in a supervisory role.

25. Members of religious student clubs can distribute flyers about meetings and events just like non-religious clubs.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Veterans are actually underrepresented among the homeless.

An article in The Tennessean on December 22 reported on the status of the homeless in Nashville. Among the things reported in the piece was some demographic information telling us who the homeless are. Among homeless adults in Nashville, 11 percent are severely mentally ill, 29 percent are employed, 19 percent are victims of domestic violence, 12 percent are veterans, and 7 percent are HIV positive.

Thirteen percent of the US population are veterans so veterans are under represented among the homeless. Veterans are not underrepresented by much and statistics are not static and they are often  approximations with a margin of error, but veterans are certainly not over represented among the homeless.

I find this interesting because there seems to be a narrative and I think many people believe, most or at least a lot of the homeless are veterans. Part of this is caused by the homeless who as part of their panhandling appeal hold up signs that say, "U.S Veteran, Please Help," or something similar. There is no way to know if the person claiming to be a veteran is really a veteran, but it creates an impression.  Also, those raising money to help solve the problem of homelessness choose sympathetic representations of the homeless to help the effort.  People are more likely to contribute to help down and out veterans or children than they are crack-addicted whores.

I don't know that this narrative that says many of the homeless are veterans is carried out with a political agenda or not.  If it is to promote a political agenda, I am not sure what that agenda is. Also,
I don't know how many people believe it but I have heard people casually say things that leads me to believe that they believe a large number of the homeless are veterans. They believe that somehow as a nation we have failed our veterans.  On Facebook, people will post photos of homeless veterans with a statement such as, "as long as we have homeless veterans we should not admit any refugees," as if somehow their was a relationship between the two issues. They will also use homeless veterans as an excuse for not dealing with other issues as if homeless veterans ought to be of higher priority than any other issue.

I actually think our country does a pretty good job caring for veterans.  If they serve as little as 20 years they retire and get a very nice military pension. While serving, military personnel earn pretty good money now and should have some savings when they leave the military even it they do not make military service a career. Also veterans get benefits such as the G.I. bill to go to college and preferential mortgage terms through the VA. Wounded, or veterans who may have health issues resulting from agent orange or other toxic exposures or possibly suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome, often get pensions and the VA provides free medical care to veterans with a service connected disability.  I know there have been some problems with VA health care in some places, but I have a relative who is cared for at the Nashville VA hospital and has nothing but praise for his level of care. I have also heard others give good reports about local Veterans Hospital health care.

When thinking about veterans, anyone who served honorable in the armed forces is due respect. We should keep in mind however that being a veteran does not mean the veteran saw action in time of war. I would bet most veterans never served in a war. Some veterans had cushy jobs in interesting places and their service was no more stressful than going to the office every day and it may have only lasted two years.  I have nothing but respect for real warriors, but even among those who may have served in a war zone, more people performed support services than engaged in killing the enemy.  The Marine taking and holding territory was the exception, not the rule. 

I favor any charity that is reaching out to help homeless veterans.  There may be among those some who could qualify for a disability pension is they had an advocate. Some my be suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. We should help them.  We should not assume however that being a veteran is the cause of a veterans homelessness. Bad things may have happened to them or they may have made poor choices or became alcoholics or drug addicts and that may have had nothing to do with being a veteran. Just because someone was once a veteran it does not mean the government should protect and support them the rest of their lives. I suspect that of the 12 percent of the homeless who are veterans, they would be homeless anyway even if they were not veterans.

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