Saturday, February 20, 2016

Marco Rubio to visit Franklin on Sunday.

The Tennessean, by Dave Boucher  - Fresh off the Republican primary vote in South Carolina, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is set to bring his presidential campaign to Franklin on Sunday.
Rubio will host a 1 p.m. rally in the ballroom of the Embassy Suites in Franklin.

It will be his first event after the South Carolina GOP primary on Saturday, said campaign spokeswoman Micah Johnson. Doors open at noon, and the event is open to all. Johnson said anyone who wants to attend needs to RSVP, either online or at the venue, if space is still available.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Haslam Endorses Rubio In Tennessee Primary

Haslam Endorses Rubio In Tennessee Primary

“To win in November, conservatives need a candidate who inspires Americans from all backgrounds,” Haslam said. “With Marco standing next to Hillary Clinton on a debate stage, the choice between the future and the past will be clear to every American.”

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Fox News TV Host Sean Hannity and Ted Cruz in Nashville THIS Friday Feb 26th at 11:30AM

From Nashville Tea Party:

Sean Hannity
Ted Cruz
URGENT NOTICE - Join National Talk Radio Host and Fox News TV THIS Friday Feb 26th at 11:30AM at Rocketown in downtown Nashville. The address is 601 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN and here is a link to a location Map:

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Meet Jackson Miller - Candidate for School Board District 7, Saturday Feb. 20th.

Jackson Miller
Meet Jackson Miller - Candidate for School Board District 7, Saturday, February 20 at 9 AM Red Bicycle Coffee, 2519 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN.   

Join Jackson Miller for a cup of coffee and learn more about him and why he is running for School Board in District 7. Stop by at anytime between 9-11 to chat with the candidate. For more information follow this link

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Kasich to host Nashville rally, Thursday Feb. 27th.

John Kasich
The Tennessean - Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will host an open rally Feb. 27 in Nashville as part of his campaign's three-stop trip to Tennessee ahead of the March 1 primary. Kasich's townhall is set for 11 a.m. at Rocketown, a popular venue for GOP presidential contenders recently in downtown Nashville. The event is free and open to anyone. Attendees can RSVP online, according to local communications official and Kasich's state coordinator John Crisp.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What happended at the 2/16/2016 council meeting: new conservation overlay for part of Inglewood, other important items deferred.

At less than an hour long, this is a short meeting. There is not much of importance on the agenda but to find the agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary follow this link. There is no drama in this meeting and not much point in watching it. Here are the highlights:

  • BILL NO. BL2016-99 which would strengthen the Human Relations Commission by removing the term limits for members of the Commission  is substituted and passes without objection. This is a minor change and not terrible important but in my view this useless agency should be abolished instead of strengthened. This agency serves to indoctrinate people in  political correctness. Any thing of value they do could easily be done by other agencies. I am disappointed that no member of the Council took this opportunity to speak against the HRC. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-123  which would give the Council more information on the status of Tax Increment financing in the Rutledge Hill Redevelopment District is deferred to the second meeting in April.  
  • BILL NO. BL2016-117 which would impose a proximity distant requirement on alternative  Financial service establishments is deferred. This refers to those business such as pawn shops, title loan companies, payday lenders and check cashing places. It would require them to be 1320 feet apart.

Here is the Tennessean's report on the meeting: Council approves building restrictions for part of Inglewood.

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How Charter Schools transformed New Orleans public schools.

There is undeniable proof that charter schools can transform public education and yet liberals work tirelessly to stop this common sense reform.  If one were skeptical of liberals motives one might think that liberals want to keep poor people, and especially Black people, poor and ignorant so they will continue to be constituents for the liberal welfare state. One might conclude they do not want them escaping the liberal plantation.

There are examples all over the country where kids that would have ended up dropping out of school and on a road to single motherhood or reform school, instead are on a road to college and the middle class. In New Orleans there has been a big scale experiment that shows how charter schools can transform a failing education system.

In New Orleans in the aftermath of the 2005 Katrina hurricane,  instead of rebuilding a traditional public school system where roughly two in every three schools were “failing,” the city transformed almost all of its traditional  public schools into charter schools. Under this new structure, attendance zones were eliminated, union control of education was weakened and parents were given a choice in where they would send their kids to school.

Today, 92 percent of students in New Orleans attend charters. Instead of graduating roughly 54 percent of its students, as New Orleans did before the storm, the city’s public schools  now graduate 73 percent of students, even beating the national average in male graduation rate.  Last year at Cohen College Prep, one of the city’s worst-performing schools before Hurricane Katrina hit, 100 percent of its students were accepted into college. 

The above includes excerpts from a longer story one can find at this link

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Nashville fair board sticks with gun show decision

Nashville fair board sticks with gun show decision
The Tennessean, ...the largest gun show operator at the city-owned fairgrounds says a lawsuit against Metro is likely. ..Metro Department of Law Director Cooper,.... unveiling his formal legal opinion for the first time, said no law requires Metro to hold gun shows at city-owned facilities such as the fairgrounds. .

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The educational schism among Nashville "progressives"

TN Edu-Independent- I believe much of the debate over education reform and charter schools today in Nashville is actually more divisive among competing camps on the "left" side of the political spectrum than it is with the traditional right vs. left divide. I'll be honest in that I'm totally confused by this. If it helps clear up where I'm coming from (so that you can try to assume my biases), politically I'm an Independent and have voted for Democrat, Republican and Independent candidates in the past.

Traditionally, I've heard the Democratic party as the party that claims to be for the underdog and the under served in our society, often poor and minority families and individuals. The party claims to be about providing policies and avenues for poor and under served individuals to make it into the middle class, and to strengthen and grow the middle class that already exists (there are many middle class claims by both major parties).

I share that ethic, and I see many "progressive" Democrats doing this work every day in classrooms and schools (charter and traditional public) with that goal very much front and center in what they do -- to bring greater equality and justice to neighborhoods and communities in Nashville. I really have a lot of respect for this brand of "progressive."

BUT I've also seen many cases of other "progressive" Democrats who do things and say things that are very counter productive towards this supposedly stated platform of justice and equality, and being for the under served and marginalized of our society.

A question I've often heard posed when it comes to improving public education in Nashville, a historically urban Democratic center is:

"when it comes to education, what sort of Democrat are you, really?"

This debate is also playing out in other cities and on a national level.

One example I'll point to is New York City. Mayor de Blasio, a Democrat was elected in 2013 with more than 73% of the vote (that's not a close election).

During the campaign, and shortly after being elected, Mayor de Blasio struck a fairly loud anti-charter tone:

"In September 2013, de Blasio voiced his opposition to charter schools, maintaining that their funding saps resources from classes like art, physical education and afterschool programs. He outlined a plan to discontinue the policy of offering rent-free space to the city's 183 charter schools and to place a moratorium on the co-location of charters schools in public school buildings. He said, "I won't favor charters. Our central focus is traditional public schools."

Hmm....where have I heard that line before?  "[charter school] funding saps resources..."  (The argument is intellectually dishonest and has been proven false a number of times. Nashville charter schools are actually saving the district money by MNPS' own analysis, and are also providing a much higher quality level of education.)

There was significant push back to de Blasio for his heavy anti-charter tone that saw large protests from charter school parents and supporters in New York City and at the state capitol in Albany.

There are estimated to be 95,000 students attending charter schools in New York City, with 42,600 students on waiting lists. See also: Charter schools enroll record 95G students, forcing expansion to meet demand.

Maybe de Blasio recognized that it's harder and harder (and foolish politically) to be anti-charter and continue to oppose so many parents in the City who value what th charter school is offering their child.

Flash forward to the beginning of the school year, and we see somewhat a different message, with de Blasio's Superintendent of schools touring some charter schools on the first day of school for the year: NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña Praises Charter on Visit.

The loud anti-charter tone is understandable for election seasons. The teacher unions are a powerful lobby in New York City (much more powerful than Nashville or in Tennessee). Yet when it comes to governing, it seems that Mayor de Blasio has shifted to a more reasonable approach when it comes to the issue of charter schools.

If you relate New York City's example to the issue of education reform and charter schools (not one in the same), it's also worth noting for our context in Nashville that Southern Democrats have taken an absolute beating politically in recent years (this trend has also occurred in Tennessee, more at the state level).

The chart below shows the Percentage of governors’ mansions, senators’ seats and state legislative bodies held by Democrats in the South outside Florida and Virginia:

For Southern Democrats in general, given that they've largely been voted out of favor from the governing political class, former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen has some good insight and wise words on this:

“I come out of the business world. If you have a product that’s not working, you don’t say, ‘Our customers are lazy’ or ‘Our customers don’t know what’s best for them.’ The ones that are successful say, ‘I need a better product.’”

“We’re just trotting out the same old nostrums: a little class warfare here and a nod to labor unions there and more money for X, Y and Z programs,” said Bredesen. “People are looking for a vision.”

Applying this to the issue of education and the pretty intense discord that I see among Democrats in Nashville, here are some thoughts:

  • Any objective look at the educational outcomes of students in this city clearly shows that K-12 education is not at the level of rigor where it should be, at all (somehow there's disagreement on this point among the differing "progressives"). 
  • When you drill down specifically to look at the educational outcomes of poor and minority students in this city, the outcomes are completely shameful. If the same outcomes were present in the K-12 public schools located in Green Hills or West Nashville, that would never be tolerated, and you'd see a complete overhaul of this city's elected leaders. 
  • For some of these Democrat "progressives" that are in the habit of being loud and telling the parents of now 8,000 students in Nashville who are enrolled in a charter school this year that "they're making the wrong choice by choosing a charter school," this seems completely naive at best, and likely going to be a very unsuccessful strategy. 
  • There is a reason that Nashville charter school enrollment has seen a near parabolic rise in enrollment in the last 7 years or so. There is NO WAY that the parents of 8,000 public school students are willfully ignorant or dumb enough to be duped to not know what they're choosing (or staying in) when it comes to enrolling their child in a Nashville charter school. 
 I think many voters are confused by Democrats in Nashville, at least on the issue of improving education, and that issue tends to touch nearly every voter. I identify with many self-proclaimed "progressives" on the what and how to improve public education, but then I'm so far away from this other camp of "progressives" in their what and how discussions on public education. For this second camp of Nashville "progressives," to claim that this many public school parents are being duped or shammed by some dark shadowy ulterior motive that supposedly lies beneath efforts to improve public education in this city (charter schools being one approach), this seems really far-fetched, and not anything close to the "vision setting" and execution of said vision that governor Bredesen references above.

There is warfare largely being waged between competing camps of "progressives" on the issue of education in Nashville.

Perhaps what's most confusing about this schism is that so many "progressives" from one camp, those that are likely to align politically on other issues with "progressives" in the other camp, are many of the ones that are heavily engaged in and doing the actual work to improve public education.

Some more reading on this topic can be found at the following:

Howard Dean's "Neoliberal corporate education reform"?: Howard Dean on Teach for America, teachers' unions and the politics of false choices.

Why liberals should learn to love charter schools.

The above was reposted with permission. To view the original blog post follow this link.  

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President Obama’s Budget: A Mountain of Debt, Regulation & Taxes

Phil Roe
by Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. 1st District Tennessee - President Obama unveiled his proposed $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal year 2017 this week, and it’s clearer than ever the president’s priorities don’t align with those of the American people. His proposal increases spending by more than $2 trillion, never balances and raises taxes by $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years. President Obama said that this budget is about looking to the future, but the only thing that would move forward under this proposal is the skyrocketing debt owed by future generations. I have some good news to share though: the president’s budget is dead on arrival here in Congress.

Among the short-sighted priorities outlined in his budget, the president wants to double funding for clean energy projects from $6.4 billion to $12.8 billion over five years and proposes a new $10-per-barrel tax on crude oil, which could translate to 24 cents more per gallon at the pump. In East Tennessee where people rely on their vehicles to get to and from work, school and other activities, a steep increase in the cost of gas could send an already struggling economy further south.

I was also disappointed that, in some areas where there could be common ground, the president appears to ignore good, bipartisan work that’s been done in Congress. For example, the president’s proposal would increase funding for cancer research by $1 billion with the goal of developing a cure for cancer. I wholeheartedly agree we should increase funding to research better treatments and cures for diseases, which is why I supported the 21st Century Cures Act when it passed the House last July. However, given the fact there are 10,000 known conditions and diseases and we only have cures and treatments for 500 of them, these investments must be strategic and smart. I hope that the president will work with Congress to get the 21st Century Cures bill across the finish line.

On education, the president’s budget pushes new, expensive proposals rather than focusing on the implementation of important reforms that have already been agreed to in Congress. The president said that real opportunity begins with education, and I couldn’t agree more. A high quality education is critical for our children and grandchildren’s future, and I was proud to have helped develop the bipartisan bill the president signed to get the federal government out of the classroom, replace No Child Left Behind and stop Common Core. There is still much work to do to move these important reforms forward, but the president would rather spend billions of dollars on new programs.

Finally, while I’m glad to see the president request an increase in funding for the Department of Defense, I’m still extremely concerned that the president has yet to present a clear, concise plan to defeat ISIS and to position the U.S. as the leader on the world stage. Under President Obama’s watch, the threat ISIS poses to the United States at home and abroad has grown, and we’ve seen aggressors like Russia and North Korea attempt to grow their influence on the world stage. As I’ve said before, we live in the best country in the world, and it’s time we start acting like it and stand up to rulers like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

Overall, the president’s budget proposal is filled with one disappointment after the other. The picture on the cover of his budget is a mountain, and I can’t think of a more appropriate symbol. This budget fails the American people and will leave our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt, regulation and taxes. This kind of reckless spending is what caused our national debt to skyrocket, and I will continue to oppose the president’s budget and support proposals that fund conservative priorities while cutting spending and balancing the budget.

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If you commit any minor driving infraction in Tennessee, you can be pulled over. Also, you’re a criminal.

Supreme Court of Tennessee Blog, By Daniel Horwitz - Tennessee drivers beware: stray outside your lane – even an inch, and even for just a moment – and you’re subject to being seized and arrested by law enforcement. Also, you’ve just committed a crime that can land you in jail for up to a month.

In a pair of companion cases handed down by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon, the Court observes that “[o]ur legislature has chosen to criminalize the common driving infraction” of crossing lane lines. Moreover, the Court explains, the fact that “drivers in Tennessee [] cross lane lines ‘all the time’” makes no difference. No matter how minor the offense, if you’re suspected of having committed any driving infraction of any kind anywhere in the state, then neither the Fourth Amendment nor the Tennessee Constitution will protect you. is now a fact of life that virtually any driver in Tennessee can be stopped and jailed anywhere and at any time simply on an officer’s whim for no reason other than that it is impossible to drive perfectly within one’s lane at all times.(link)

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Liberty on the Rocks Feburary 18th, 5:30PM

Who: A group of people, numbering anywhere between 8 and 25, who love liberty and who range in age from 18 to 80, and who vary in occupation from students to laborers to attorney's and businessmen, who are generally labeled "right of center" and may call themselves, libertarian, tea party, Republican, conservative, constitutionalists, Objectivist, and  an occasional anarcho-capitalist.

What: Liberty on the Rocks which is a get-together that involves eating and drinking and talking and respectfully disagreeing and exchanging of ideas usually about some political topic (but not always) which could be the news of the day, or foreign policy, or the monetary system, or the roll of the family and gay marriage, or legalization of drugs or prostitution, or privacy and the NSA, or the welfare state, or education reform, or criminal justice and prison reform, or the death penalty, or immigration policy, or morality, or the upcoming presidential primary or just whatever topic one brings up. There is no program.

When: Thursday, February 18 from 5:30 until everyone leaves which usually people start leaving about 9:30, but sometime later but you can come as late or leave as early as you please.  

Where: Mafiaoza's on the patio, 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN.

Why: For the enjoyment of good conversation with like-minded people. 

To RSVP follow this link

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Rep. Andy Holt Introduces Welfare Reform Legislation

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Press Release, Feb. 16 2016— Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has introduced legislation that will require able bodied, job ready Tennessee citizens  to prove they have been searching for a job before receiving certain welfare benefits. Benefits applicants will be required to apply for at least three separate jobs and provide verifiable documentation of their job applications to the State.

“We’re seeing a lot of welfare abuse in the State of Tennessee, and something has to be done about it. During the recession, the federal government vastly extended welfare benefits. Today, many people are still receiving benefits that shouldn’t be,” said Holt. “This abuse has taken resources away from people that actually need help, and is a massive burden to Tennessee tax-payers. In fact, current law virtually allows an individual to commit unemployment fraud for up to 8 weeks before actually being disqualified. That’s unacceptable.”

Holt’s legislation seeks to change or strengthen the law in three ways:

  1. Currently, people claiming unemployment are asked to provide proof to the Department of Labor that they have contacted at least 3 potential employers per week. However, compliance is only measured by random audits. Holt’s legislation will require that all able bodied, work-ready individuals receiving benefits are verified rather than randomly audited.
  2. Next, if an individual is caught  defrauding the system, they can currently do so for up to 8 weeks without even losing their benefits. “That’s just ridiculous, says Holt. “If you’re caught committing unemployment fraud, and are taking away resources from those that need them most, I don’t care if it’s for one  day. You’re out. So, we’ll be removing that 8 week window that basically legalizes unemployment fraud.”
  3. Finally, the law currently allows someone to be compliant as long as they are searching for a job ‘within their usual occupation’, rather than actually searching for any job that may be available. “Under current law, I can say that I’m an underwater basket weaver and simply cannot find a job. Therefore, I still get unemployment,” Holt said. “If there is an available job out there, you should be applying so long as you are able of doing the work.”
State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will carry the Senate version of the bill.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day: Falling in love.

I had been in love before I fell in love with Louella. I had been married twice  and was in love both times and I had also been in other relationships were I felt I was in love. In the past, I would date someone and over time feel affection and then feel I was in love. Also, to be perfectly honest, sometimes I think I could not separate love from lust. Also, I am not sure I could separate simple enjoyment of companionship and intimacy and desire not to be alone from love. With Louella I experienced something different. I experienced love in a flash.

After losing a good job because the company I worked for went out of business, I went through a period of unemployment and underemployment and was seeking any work I could find and got a part-time job as a field representative with the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS is the agency of the federal government that produces the Consumer Price Index, which measures price changes over time. The CPI is generally thought of as a measure of inflation. My job was to monitor and report the prices of items or services over time, of a market basket of goods that included everything from new cars, to funerals, wedding dresses, medical procedures, rent, tools, grocery items, clothing and several other things. The methodology for selecting the item and for substituting an item was very specific and complex.

As training for my new job, in May 1992 I had to go to a several-day training session in Annapolis, Virginia and it was there that I met Louella. She was one of the trainers in the class I was taking. I met her due to one of those silly ice-breaker games that you often have to play at events like that. At the start of the first day's session, everyone was asked to list on a piece of paper their favorite book, beverage and broadcaster, then the answers were read aloud and participants had to guess who the person was who provided that answer. I listed my favorite book as Atlas Shrugged and so did Louella. Atlas Shrugged is the novel  by Ayn Rand which lays out a philosophical argument for capitalism. I wanted to meet this other person who had also listed Atlas Shrugged as their favorite book. During a break we spoke and agreed to meet for drinks after class that evening.

We met after class and got to know each other and immediately liked each other and found we had a lot in common. Despite each of us listing Atlas Shrugged as our favorite book, neither of us were libertarians but each fairly mainstream conservative Republicans. Our drinks in the hotel lounge turned into several drinks and then dinner. We talked for hours. After dinner a band took over the lounge and the lounge filled with people partying. The music was extremely loud and appealing to neither of us and we still tried to carry on conversation by shouting in each others ear. We gave up after a while and I walked her back to her rooms and we shook hands and said goodnight.

I returned home after the training and over the next several weeks Louella and I emailed and talked often. Louella was the only person I had ever met who knew the same things I knew. Not only were our politics in alignment but Louella and I had read many of the same books and studied the same subjects. It was invigorating to meet someone I could actually talk to about important things. We also engage in a lot of good natured arguing. It is fun to argue with someone with whom you are in basic agreement, playing the devil’s advocate. It is like a game of chess and strengthens your reasoning skills. Louella could hold her own. Not only did we share the same political philosophy but we shared an appreciation of so many other things. We both liked travel and art and architecture and good food and wine and found humor in the same things and had read much of the same literature that was not political. I looked forward to our email exchanges and conversations. I think we were both hungry for someone that understood us and to whom we could relate.

A couple months after first meeting Louella, I returned to the Washington area for part two of my training. This training was in Baltimore Maryland and was for two weeks. Louella and I spend a lot of time together and we got to know each other better and had lunch and dinner together several times.

I fell in love in a little mini park in Baltimore. It was a long time ago and I don’t recall clearly the setting, but it seems it was in a park no larger than a single building lot. I don’t recall if there was a fountain or not but it seems there was, but I know if was a pretty setting with meandering brick paths and nice landscaping and benches.

We were sitting on a park bench and Louella was telling me about her experience of watching a bull fight on a trip she had taken to Spain. She described the pageantry leading up to the actual fight. She described the matador as being graceful and handsome and his movements almost like that a of ballet dancer. And she described the powerfulness of the bull and how it snorted and pawed the ground. She said she knew the bull would be killed and she wanted to look away but could not. She said she was both attracted to the spectacle and repulsed at the same time. As she told me about this experience, she was animated and expressive and intense.

While watching her tell me of her experience watching the bull fight, I was listening intently and taking in what she was telling me but part of me was also watching her as she told me of the experience. While I was listening to what she was saying, I was also thinking how pretty she was and how much I liked her and how special I thought she was and I wanted to take her and hold her and never let her go. I remember saying silently to myself, “I could love this women.” I was not looking for a relationship and had pretty much given up on love, but it happened and it happened in that instant.

If you were to represent what happened, it was at that monument that cupid pulled back his bow string and let loose and I was smitten and fell in love.

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