Thursday, June 02, 2016

American Conservative Union Endorses Brian Kelsey

DSC_3392(1).jpgRod --

Founded in 1964, the American Conservative Union is the nation’s original conservative organization.  For more than fifty years, ACU has served as an umbrella organization harnessing the collective strength of conservative organizations fighting for Americans who are concerned with liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and strong national defense.  As one of America's premier conservative voices, ACU promotes a conservative vision on issues before Congress, the Executive Branch, State Legislatures, the media, political candidates, and the public.
“Brian Kelsey led the successful fight in 2014 to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax and this year co-sponsored the bill in the State Senate to phase out the Hall Tax on interest and dividends,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.  “It is not surprising that Brian Kelsey and his colleagues helped Tennessee to win the ACU ‘We The People’ award as the most conservative legislature in the country for 2015.  Brian Kelsey will bring those leadership qualities to Congress. I urge all conservatives to vote for Brian Kelsey in the 8th District Republican Primary on August 4th.”

Sen. Kelsey said, “I am honored to receive this endorsement. The American Conservative Union has been the standard bearer for the conservative movement for over fifty years. This endorsement reinforces what voters are learning all across West Tennessee: that I am the only candidate in the race with a proven conservative record.”

Kelsey for Congress

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Scott DesJarlais Spends More Taxpayer Dollars Than Any Other Republican Member of Congress in Q1 2016

More than quadruple the amount of all other 8 TN Congressmen combined; 2nd of all voting Members of Congress, only trailing a Democrat defeated in an April election, indicted and standing trial on 29 racketeering charges

Press Release, (MURFREESBORO, Tenn.) – An investigation by the Knoxville News Sentinel just posted, detailing how Scott DesJarlais spent more money on taxpayer-funded communications than any other Republican Member of Congress in the country for the first quarter of 2016, totaling nearly $67,000. Compared to the same time period in 2015, he spent a fraction of that amount--$5,600.

Also, astonishingly, DesJarlais spent more than every other member of Congress from the State of Tennessee combined during Q1 2016. In fact, DesJarlais spent more than quadruple the amount of all other Tennessee Members combined.

In an abuse of power, ever since Grant Starrett entered the race, Scott DesJarlais has dramatically increased his taxpayer-funded spending. Ironically, DesJarlais is spending the taxpayer's money to defend his votes to misspend taxpayer money on things like $700 billion in Food Stamps.

Read the article here:
"Scott DesJarlais, In Re-Election Battle, Ramps Up Spending On Taxpayer-Funded Communications"

DesJarlais comes in 2nd of all voting Members of Congress only to Democrat Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, who is at the moment of this writing standing in a federal courthouse trial for 29 racketeering charges including "a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests" according to the Assistant Attorney General. Fattah was also defeated last month in his Democratic primary.

Here are the Mass Communications disbursements with taxpayer dollars for TN Members of Congress from January 1 - March 31, 2016:

1. Scott DesJarlais - $66,639.50
2. Diane Black $5,432.80
3. Steve Cohen $2,890.96
4. Phil Roe $2,743.90
5. Marsha Blackburn $2,600.00
6. Chuck Fleischmann $2,021
7. Jimmy Duncan $0
8. Jim Cooper $0
9. Stephen Fincher $0

Statement from Tommy Schultz, Campaign Manager for Grant Starrett for Congress:

"In an abuse of power, Scott DesJarlais is clearly spending Tennesseans' hard-earned taxdollars to fund his re-election campaign, plain and simple. No other Tennessee member, Republican or Democrat, is spending taxpayer dollars like DesJarlais is. DesJarlais is scared that Grant Starrett's campaign is knocking on thousands of doors each day, exposing DesJarlais' bad votes in DC from the past six years. So now DesJarlais is pumping our taxdollars into a re-election campaign. DesJarlais spent more than every single other Republican Member of Congress and was only beat out by 2 Democrats -- one named Chaka Fattah from Pennsylvania who is on trial for racketeering charges for using federal tax dollars inappropriately, and the other is Pedro Pierluisi, the non-voting commissioner from Puerto Rico. DesJarlais has clearly abused the power and responsibility of the people's seat, a common sickness that grows on too many of the political class in DC."


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Are State-Supported "Legislative Updates" Crossing The Line?

These "Reports" Look More Like Campaign Mail Pieces
By Jeff Hartline, Executive Director, Tennessee Spotlight - With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, most re-elections campaigns for State House and Senate seats are in full swing.

But wait, now comes a "Legislative Update" sent to constituents before Incumbents can "begin" campaigning for re-election.  That's right.  This week, four-color direct mail pieces that look very much like Campaign Direct Mail began appearing in voter mailboxes all across Tennessee.

These "Direct Mail Campaign for Re-election" pieces were sent under the protection of state law that allows members of the General Assembly to send one "Legislative Update" to voters after the end of session.

And the best part?  You get to pay for it.  You pay for the design, raw materials, printing and postage.

Now let's review a few things.

First, the session will have seen over 1,000 bills filed and hundreds of committee hearings and hundreds of floor votes and hundreds of bills stalled by those in Leadership who do not want them to move forward.  (You see, some bills that never see the light of day on the floor, like the Bathroom Bill, Constitutional Carry, Insure Tennessee, etc. are just as deserving of attention as Skunk County getting its hotel/motel tax raised to pay for a new Skunk Habitat.)  So, there is no way to give a legitimate "update" on an 8" x 11" four-color card stock, especially when the Legislator wants to get some real good pictures on there, too.

Second, these "updates" are, in fact, nothing more than claims of what the General Assembly got done during the three months it labored, in between parties catered by Lobbyists.  It mattered not what the real issues were for the people of Tennessee.  What mattered is that the recipient got the strong impression that Mr./Ms. Legislator is sparing no expense to inform the voter that they actually got the budget balanced in time to get back home to start campaigning for re-election and raising money (which they are prevented from doing until after May 15 if they are still in session).  "And don't forget that I love children and the elderly and Tennessee's economy is great!"  (Let's not talk about contentious issues while I'm trying to get re-elected.  The questions are so hard!)

Third, note that most of those missives come more than six weeks after the close of session and less than seven weeks before the start of early voting.  If it was so all-fired important to get this information out to voters, why didn't they get these juicy details out a month ago?

Fourth, as a consultant to numerous campaigns, I recognize a Campaign Direct Mail Piece when I see one.  The "duck" principle is full view here.

Fifth, one wonders why the need to "spruce up" the "update" when the local TV Stations, Radio Stations, and newspapers have been chasing these people around for months trying to get just this "hot-off-the-press" story.  Newspapers all over Tennessee give FREE SPACE to lawmakers to give reports of their activities and successes.  Many already take advantage of that.  Radio hosts beg them to come on and discuss the topics that people want to hear about.  (That would not include 75% of what goes on in Legislative Plaza.)  TV stations in the larger markets run all over these cities looking for interviews for usable video.

Sixth, the return email address on many of these is the official state email address.  This smacks of using State Assets for personal campaign benefit.  (We're gathering examples from all over the state.  Perhaps our next Spotlight will "spotlight" some of them.)

The power of incumbency is already out of control.  These mail pieces force voters who support other candidates to pay for the campaign mail of their opponents.  Perhaps lawmakers would be willing to place some limits on this abuse of taxpayer money and promote more election fairness.

Maybe some incumbents will run on that platform.  Stay tuned.

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Haslam says Trump’s attack on fellow GOP governor ‘not helpful'.

Image result for Haslam
Gov. Bill Haslam
By Richard Locker of The Commercial Appeal, Nashville - Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday he doesn't believe Donald Trump's harsh criticism last week of New Mexico's governor — Haslam's successor as chairman of the Republican Governors Association — is helpful to the candidate or the party.

 At a rally last week in Albuquerque, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee attacked GOP Gov. Susana Martinez in a speech, saying she "isn't doing the job," blaming her for the city's unemployment rate and apparently erroneously asserting that she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in New Mexico.

Martinez, the highest elected Hispanic woman in the country, has criticized Trump's campaign rhetoric over the last several months, had endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before his withdrawal from the presidential race, has not endorsed Trump and did not attend the rally.

Although fellow Republican governors rushed to her defense, Trump's top campaign aide, Corey Lewandowski, repeated his boss's criticisms of Martinez in an exchange on Fox News Sunday. "The governor is not doing the job," he said. "We stand by our statement."

Asked about the Trump attack on Martinez on Wednesday, Haslam said: "At the end of the day, I don't think that's helpful. I think you have a lot of Republican governors who would like to see the next president be Republican and we want to help. (link)

My Comment: "Not helpful," indeed! What is wrong with Donald Trump?  It is hard enough to attract Hispanics to the Republican Party without insulting the highest ranking Hispanic female elected official in the nation. We need some of the Hispanic vote this election to win the White House and hold the Senate, but long-term the future is very bleak if things do not change.  By 2040, America will be a majority minority country. We cannot grow the Party by needlessly insulting the few Hispanics who are already Republican. 

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Jim Poe Chides Opponent On Budget Claims

Reminds Voters That Balancing The Budget Is A Constitutional Mandate

Press release, PARIS, TN -  Today, Jim Poe, Conservative Republican candidate for State House reacted to the “Legislative Update” sent out by his opponent.  District 75 voters received a four-color, cardboard update filled with pictures of Poe’s opponent and declarations of accomplishments for the past General Assembly.

Chief among those “accomplishments” was touting the fact that he had been a part of producing a balanced budget. Unfortunately for Poe’s opponent, the Tennessee Constitution mandates that the General Assembly pass a balanced budget each year.  This duty is not subject to alteration or change by law.

“For my opponent to claim some moral superiority for doing his Constitutional duty smacks of an attempt to deceive District 75 voters.,” said Poe.  “Claiming credit for balancing the state budget is tantamount to claiming that you didn’t run any stop signs on the way home from work and expecting to get a pat on the back from your neighbors for doing so.”

Poe continued, “What we don’t hear about the budget is that it increased from $32 Billion to $34.9 Billion.  My math tells me that’s an increase in one year of 8.5%.  I doubt you’ll find many people in District 75 who saw their own incomes rise that much in one year.”

During the past two years, Tennesseans have overpaid their tax bills by over $1,000,000,000.  Only $10% of that amount was scheduled to go into the State’s Rainy Day Fund and there has been no movement to return any of that overage to Tennessee taxpayers.

Poe concluded, “Rather than crow about doing the very minimum for taxpayers, we ought to be working to find ways to stop the rate of the growth of government.  Returning these overpayments and allowing local taxpayers to churn hundreds of millions of dollars back into their local economies rather than keeping the money in Nashville seems to be a better use of those dollars if they are not going to be moved into our Rainy Day Fund.”

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Karl Dean running running for Governor maybe.

By Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, May 31, 2016 - Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean traveled to Chattanooga and Memphis last week to talk to leaders in both cities as he explores a Democratic run for higher office, including a possible bid for governor.

In an interview with The Tennessean, Dean characterized these trips — and visits to other cities on the horizon — as educational and part of the process to determine whether to run for office in 2018 when two statewide seats are up for grabs.
He declined to say specifically whom he met with in Chattanooga and Memphis, calling them a “broad range of people.”

“I think for this calendar year, it’s a time for me to see whether I have something to contribute,” Dean said of a possible run for state higher office. “It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about the state and it’s also an opportunity, frankly, to see whether something like that is doable.That's really all I'm doing.

Dean, whose two terms as Nashville mayor concluded in September, is more frequently discussed as a possible Democratic candidate in 2018 in what will be an open governor’s race to replace Bill Haslam. In addition U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee — who has received recent speculation as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — will be up for re-election the same year.

Following his time in the mayor's office, Dean has spent the past eight months teaching at Belmont University and Boston University, as well as chairing a new education nonprofit called Project Renaissance.

Other Democrats bandied around as possible options for governor include Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

The Republican list of possible gubernatorial candidates is considerably longer and includes U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.; U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd; state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville; former ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty; House Speaker Beth Harwell; Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville; and businessman Bill Lee, chairman of Franklin-based Lee Company.  (link)

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Columbia Tennessee resident, lawyer, NR writer David French may be independent conservative alternative to Trump

David French
ABC News  - A source involved in the effort to draft a third-party candidate tells ABC News that Iraq War veteran and constitutional lawyer David French has had serious discussions about agreeing to run. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

The possibility of a breakout independent presidential candidate has followed the 2016 campaign since the beginning, when Donald Trump used the threat of separating from the Republican race as a way to win establishment support.

Prominent Republican Bill Kristol, who is the editor and founder of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, has been actively predicting another person will run.

In addition to his role as a staff writer at the National Review, French is an attorney with a concentration in constitutional law and the law of armed conflict, and a veteran of the Iraq war, according to his biography at the National Review. He currently lives and works in Columbia, Tennessee, according to his biography at the National Review. He did not immediately respond to request for comment from ABC News.

His wife, Nancy French, has worked as a ghostwriter for Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin.   (link)
David French, Proposed Conservative Alternative to Trump, Draws Tepid Response

David French, Proposed Conservative Alternative to Trump, Draws Tepid Response

The Wall Street Journal · 2 hours ago
Republican political donors and strategists seeking a conservative alternative to Donald Trump in the presidential race …

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Libertarians do not want my protest vote.

"WTF?," was my immediate reaction upon seeing this video and while I  occasionally may utter a profanity or vulgarity, I don't make it a habit.  "WTF" is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when I am dismayed or disgusted, however, it seems fitting. I am appalled and flabbergasted.  I am certainly not a prude or easily shocked, but "WTF?"
This year, the Libertarian Party may have had a chance to be taken semi-seriously.  I can not vote for Hillary and don't think I can vote for Trump. I know I cannot stand Hillary. She would be an Obama third term.  However, I don't think I can vote for Donald Trump.  Maybe Trump is not a neofasist, but he is a egotistical, boorish, opportunistic, narcissistic, authoritarian with no known political values.  What we know of his political values would cause us to suspect he is liberal. He has supported use of eminent domain, contributed to liberal candidates, been pro-choice and been anti-second amendment and he has had complementary things to say about Russia's Putin. He seldom speaks in favor of limited government or constitutional limits on government power.  He scares me. He almost scares me more than Hillary.  I don't suspect Hillary would start a trade war and fear Trump might do so.  I have almost concluded the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. I know what to expect with Hillary, but I don't know what to expect with Trump.

Since I dislike Trump and Hilary, I was leaning Libertarian despite serious reservations about their isolationist views and some of their social policy positions. I was ready to vote Libertarian as a protest vote. However, this is not the actions of a party that wants my protest vote. That could have at least offered a fig leaf of respectability and seriousness. They did not have to be in-your-face offensive. The Libertarian Party is a joke. The Libertarians are showing themselves to be the frat-boy, Animal House Party. 

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New Poll Shows Tennesseans Extremely Opposed to Corporate Handouts

Press release, The Beacon Center, NASHVILLE – In a recent statewide survey conducted by icitizen polling among registered voters in Tennessee, the Beacon Center included several questions related to corporate handouts. The responses made it clear that Tennesseans are fiercely opposed to the practice of giving taxpayer money to big corporations.

Among the results, an overwhelming 69% of Tennesseans do not believe that the state government should be using taxpayer money to give handouts to certain businesses. Only 15% of Tennesseans believe it is the government's job to give businesses handouts. In addition, a whopping 72% of Tennesseans agree that the state government is not transparent when it comes to giving incentives to corporations, which includes 77% of Democrats.

Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham stated, "We could not be more pleased with these poll results and they echo what we have been hearing from around the state. People are sick and tired of their hard-earned tax dollars going to big corporations at the expense of small businesses. It's an unfair system."

Cunningham went on to note, "It's not the government's job to pick winners and losers. Whether it's Regal Cinemas in Knoxville, Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, or one of the many hotels getting big money in Nashville, businesses should succeed on what they provide consumers, not who they know in government. We have already started educating the public on what corporate handouts really entail, and this poll shows our efforts have already started to pay off. We have a multi-year plan to educate the taxpayers of Tennessee on the downfalls of corporate favoritism that will hopefully lead to the end of this corrupt practice once and for all."
Russell P. Reeder, CEO and co-founder of icitizen discussed the findings of the survey. "Voters are clear that they are wary of corporate handouts and want government to be more transparent with the incentives it provides to corporations. It calls for more openness and communication between the people and their government. We are happy to provide organizations such as the Beacon Center with reliable, cost-effective polling to understand public opinion.”

You can read the full results of the poll by clicking here.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Robert Swope gets the Courageous Maverick Lone Ranger award for .....

... being the only councilman to vote against banning smoking at the outdoor Ascend amphitheater. (link)

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Last Days in Vietnam

Last Days in VietnamLast night I watched the documentary, Last Days in Vietnam. It was inspiring and gut-wrenching. For anyone who served in Vietnam, lost a loved one in Vietnam, was vested in the war in some way, or just has an interest in history, I highly recommend it.  It is currently available on Netflix.

I served in Vietnam in 1968-69 and was there during the period of the Tet offensive.  I was not a warrior and only engaged in one short exchange of gun fire with the enemy. I was Air Force Security Police, serving in security, as opposed to law enforcement.  I rode patrol and stood guard duty and manned bunkers and guard towers. We came under rocket or mortar attack something like 60 or 80 times, mostly clustered within a few-week period of the Tet offensive.

Vietnam was not a terrible experience for me. I took advantage of experiencing a foreign culture as much as a I could given the limitations of the war.  I was young and foolish and adventurous and actually enjoyed a lot of my Vietnam experience. I know other people had different experiences.

I was always supportive of the war effort.  I still think it was a noble cause.  I think we should have been allowed to win. If we would ever have been "all in" we could have won the war, but restriction on where we could bomb and frequent cease fires and rules of engagement, prevented a victory. In 1975 when Saigon fell, I stayed clued to the TV and cried. I feel like the fall of Saigon was a personal betrayal. I felt losing the war was a shameful thing. I believe we who served in Vietnam were stabbed in the back, and the United States stabbed Vietnam in the back.  I felt we lost he war, not in the jungles of Vietnam, but on college campuses in America and the halls of Congress. I viewed the war protesters as Vietcong dressed up like college students. I hated them.  I still hate Jane Fonda and our Secretary of State John Kerry.  I do not think we should have ever let the  draft dodgers come back home without severe punishment. I was very bitter for a long time. Given the passage of time the bitterness is less intense but my opinion has not changed.

For many years after our defeat in Vietnam, I avoided watching any programs about Vietnam or reading any books on the subject. It was like grinding salt in a wound. I just wanted to avoid it. It has now been 47 years since I served in Vietnam and 41 years since we abandoned Vietnam and I can watch this documentary without it being terrible upsetting. It still leaves me a little sad and  melancholy, but I am glad I watched it and recommend it.  

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Contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives

Monday, May 30, 2016
By Constituting America Founder & Co-chair Janine Turner 

On this Memorial Day weekend, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country.

Sometimes it is beyond reach to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and feel, to the most heightened sense, what it would be like to say goodbye to our loved ones for perhaps the last time. Do we take the time to feel empathy for the soldier who has to walk away from his family - mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, son - to be potentially killed out in the field - to die away from family - in perhaps some distant land, in enemy territory, on foreign soil? How frightening this would be.

It is difficult in our daily lives that are hectic with work, pressures, commitments and family responsibilities to really pause to think about the sacrifice our men and women in uniform have made and are making to protect us. Our men and women in uniform were and are the brave, the special, the few and the truly great patriots. Without these soldiers, we, America and Americans, would not be here - plain and simple. The air we breathe, the land we walk, the sky we sketch, the country we call home, is because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. 
Click here to read more. 

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Some gave all.

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