Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mayor Barry Remarks after DA Funk’s Announcement in Officer Lippert Investigation

Office of Mayor Megan Barry press release, May 11, 2017- To all of the many men and women who have diligently investigated the shooting on February 10th that claimed the life of Jocques Clemmons, I want to thank you for your hard work and your resolve to seek the truth about what happened on that fateful day.

And as Mayor, I know that decisions about justice must be made impartially and based on the facts and on the laws.

I know General Funk has thoroughly reviewed this case through a lens to ensure that if any criminal wrong-doing took place, it would be appropriately punished. General Funk has gone further than any prosecutor before him in ensuring that a shooting death caused by an officer be independently investigated as a way to promote the trust and confidence of the entire community.

Throughout this process, myself, Chief Anderson, and General Funk have been very intentional in not drawing conclusions until the case could be thoroughly investigated and the facts established.
Now that the District Attorney has closed the criminal case, there will be an administrative review of Officer Lippert’s actions to determine if the situation was handled appropriately and whether any disciplinary action is warranted, or if there needs to be any changes to policies, training, or procedure as a result of this incident.

This has been a challenging time for our city.

Over the last few weeks and months following the shooting, I’ve met with members of the community – from the family of Jocques Clemmons, to the NAACP, to clergy, to business people and African-American youth. One message has been consistent - a desire for positive actions – not just in the area of policing – but in equity and inclusion, opportunity and empowerment, in knowing that leaders in our government care - and want to do the right thing.

There are some in our community who are fearful or distrustful of the police, and we still have work to do as a government to promote greater support and trust and transparency – which we are seeking to address through accountability initiatives such as body-worn cameras and through community policing initiatives such as foot patrols to promote more familiarity between police officers and citizens.

General Funk has also outlined some suggested initiatives that may or may not be directly related to this case but he feels should be further reviewed going forward - Some of which we have already begun addressing.

We’ve established an MOU with the TBI, MNDP, and DA so that in the future, police shootings that result in a death will be investigated solely by the TBI.

We have taken action to promote more diversity and inclusive hiring practices within the MNPD so we have a force that better reflects the composition of our city.

The mayor’s office, along with the Police Department, has been working closely with Judge Sheila Calloway on Restorative Diversion programs for our youth.

But we can always do more and we can always do better – as a government, as a community, as a people - to be a more equitable and to be more inclusive and to make sure that every citizen IS safe, every citizen feels safe, and every citizen has trust in our Police Department and government to serve them and to protect them equally.

Many people, including me, acknowledge that there are systemic issues in our criminal justice system that need to be addressed. Often - interaction with our police is a person’s entry point into the criminal justice system, and that is where we should begin to look at reform.

I, however, see a bigger picture. The majority of crime is rooted in poverty, and while we have to begin to reform the criminal justice system, we also have to make bigger and better strides to reduce and eliminate poverty in our most vulnerable communities. Improving policing is part of the solution and is important, but providing access to quality, affordable housing, providing access to better jobs and financial empowerment, providing access to high quality education - can greatly reduce everyone’s chances of having a law enforcement encounter with a police officer.

And since I came into office 19 months ago, we’re focused on just that – the bigger picture.
General Funk’s decision not to bring criminal charges against Officer Lippert does not close or end those conversations. We must endeavor to ensure that all voices and opinions are heard regarding the laws and policies that govern us all. There are no easy or quick answers, and the conversations can sometimes be difficult and painful, but I have confidence in our Nashville community that we can move forward in a way that makes us a stronger city for all.

Thank you.

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Hope for the American Health Care System

by Phil Roe, M.D.,  U. S. Representative 1st District of Tennessee, May 12, 2017- Last Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives took a giant step toward fulfilling our promise and President Trump’s pledge made to the American people that we would repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered, free-market health care. The House-passed bill, H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), will take away power from Washington bureaucrats and return it to the American people.

I’ve been opposed to Obamacare from the start, in large part because as a doctor, I’ve seen first-hand what happens when you take power out of the hands of patients and their doctors and centralizes it in the hands of government bureaucrats. In Tennessee, we had our own experiment with universal access to care under TennCare. What happened? Costs exploded, forcing the state to remove people from the rolls, which resulted in one of the most stringent systems in America.

Across the country, Obamacare is failing, especially in East Tennessee. While it was welcome news that on May 9 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee announced it would offer a plan option for residents of the Knoxville marketplace, one plan option is not real choice. In 2016, premiums across Tennessee increased an average of 46 percent, with many individuals seeing their premium increase more than 60 percent. These increases were on top of the explosion of deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, which make it extremely difficult for the middle class to afford necessary medical care. You can see that with how hospital systems in our area are now are seeing 60 to 70 percent of their uncollectible debt coming from people with insurance. That’s why we are acting.

One thing I’ve heard consistently since this debate started is how much people are concerned about losing their health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. There’s no doubt about it: the last thing you want to be doing when your loved one is sick or dying is worrying about whether you are covered. As a doctor, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have to jump through all the bureaucratic hurdles to get life-saving care approved. I want to protect people with pre-existing conditions – but we believe there is a better way to achieve these protections without driving up the cost of health insurance and making coverage unaffordable for millions of Americans.

That’s why I’m proud to say, despite a great deal of misinformation being circulated, the AHCA continues strong protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The AHCA requires insurers to cover individuals regardless of their health status, while also prohibiting insurers from charging higher premiums because of one’s illness. Individuals who maintain health insurance will be protected by a “community rating” that prohibits charging higher premiums, and individuals who don’t maintain continuous coverage will have to pay a 30 percent surcharge – instead of taxing you on the front end if you fail to purchase government-approved coverage.

We also added an amendment to give states the flexibility to experiment with better plan designs that can lower premiums, stabilize the insurance market or improve conditions for people with pre-existing conditions. If you look at the experiences of states like Maine and Wisconsin, we know it is possible to lower costs for everyone – including people with pre-existing conditions – when states are given the opportunity to opt out of Obamacare’s strict regulatory structure.

Aside from the continued protections for pre-existing conditions, the AHCA should be a welcome improvement over Obamacare’s status quo. We create a refundable tax credit which helps bring parity to individuals who purchase health insurance on their own with individuals who receive health insurance through their employer. We expand health savings accounts, which incentivize high-deductible health plans. Because studies have shown Medicaid doesn’t improve health outcomes over being uninsured, we give states the ability to restructure their Medicaid programs, improving access to care for millions of beneficiaries.

Now, it is the Senate’s turn to act. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: AHCA is a great start, but it’s not a perfect bill, and I hope our Senate colleagues will try to build on the work the House has done. One thing is certain – we cannot afford not to act. I look forward to helping East Tennesseans obtain the affordable health care coverage they deserve.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Tennessee Right to Life Applauds Haslam Support for Pro-Life Bill

Nashville, May 12, 2017- The state's oldest and largest pro-life organization publicly thanked Governor Bill Haslam on Friday for signing into law the Tennessee Infants Protection Act (SB 1180). The bill strengthens protections for unborn children and abortion-vulnerable women and girls by preventing elective abortions, except in rare instances, after an unborn child is determined to be viable (able to survive with or without medical assistance.) The provision also establishes a presumption of viability at 24 weeks of pregnancy (LMP) and requires a medical assessment to gauge viability of any unborn child when an abortion is sought beginning at 20 weeks of gestational age.

"Tennessee Right to Life thanks Governor Haslam for his demonstrated commitment to doing everything possible constitutionally to defend and protect vulnerable unborn children," said Brian Harris, the organization's president.  "His administration has been tireless in supporting common-sense measures which affirm the dignity human life in our state and pro-life Tennesseans are clearly very grateful to the Governor," Harris said.

Earlier this month, the pro-life measure was overwhelmingly passed by the state Senate 27-3 and in the state House 69-18. The Tennessee Infants Protection Act will take effect July 1, 2017.

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2017 Legislative Session: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

BY LINDSAY BOYD,  The Beacon Center, May 11, 2017 -

Now that the 2017 legislative session has come to a close, we can reflect upon the efforts Beacon advanced this year and how they will impact Tennesseans moving forward.

Follow along below to find out what happened this session on our key issue areas of occupational licensing, homesharing, educational choice, and criminal justice reform.

 Good: Licensing
Over the past several months, Beacon has filed two lawsuits challenging occupational licensing schemes. We first sued the state cosmetology board for the law requiring a license to wash hair. Then we discovered that two horse massage therapists had their business shut down by the state veterinarian board, which had passed a rule declaring animal massage as the practice of veterinary medicine.

Despite not proposing to repeal any licensing laws during this legislative session, our lawsuits caused plenty of stir at the Capitol. As a result of our shampoo lawsuit, Gov. Haslam proposed a repeal of the shampoo licensing scheme, and it passed overwhelmingly. And after hearing about our horse massage case, the legislature temporarily repealed the veterinarian board’s animal massage rule. We will now work with the board and our clients to craft a sensible alternative to full-blown veterinary licensing for animal massage therapists.

Good: Criminal Justice Reform
In fall 2016, Beacon announced a partnership with the ACLU, Goodwill, Nashville Chamber, and Tennessee County Services Association to launch the Coalition for Sensible Justice. This coalition is committed to pursuing meaningful criminal justice reforms that promote greater public safety, save taxpayers money, and allow those leaving prison to become productive members of society.

The coalition filed four pieces of legislation this session: drivers’ license revocation reform, juvenile expungement and notification of eligibility, and the creation of a task force to study issues faced by our local jails. While the bill to establish the summer task force ultimately stalled due to lack of space resulting from the legislature’s move to a new building, the three remaining reforms passed both chambers and should be signed into law by Gov. Haslam in the coming weeks.

Because of these successful efforts, Tennesseans exiting the criminal justice system will no longer have their drivers’ licenses automatically revoked if they are unable to repay their court fees within one year of their release. Instead, they can retain a hardship license for the purposes of commuting to work, church, and transporting their children to or from school. Additionally, juveniles with minor status offenses such as truancy or delinquency will have the opportunity to expunge their record at 17 rather than 18 years of age, improving their chances of getting their lives back on the right track.

Bad: Educational Choice
Beacon began the session with the aim of shifting conversations on educational choice towards a fresh approach with education savings accounts (ESAs). These accounts would operate like health savings accounts by placing the money we already spend on each child in a secure account monitored by the Department of Education and managed by parents. In doing so, parents are encouraged and empowered to be involved in their child’s education at the ground level, while the account dollars can be applied to a variety of approved expenses at any participating public or private school, online, homeschool, or any combination thereof, as well as other services such as tutoring and educational therapy.

While the concept of ESAs resonated favorably in the halls of Legislative Plaza, lawmakers opted to take another stab at passing an opportunity scholarship program in the form of a five-year pilot offered to eligible students in Memphis. This effort eventually stalled in the House Finance Subcommittee. While we are disappointed that the legislature once again failed to provide Tennessee families with the educational opportunities many so desperately need, we are nevertheless encouraged to hear from a growing number of lawmakers that there is mounting interest in bold educational choice initiatives like ESAs moving forward.

Ugly: Homesharing
This year, we supported a bill that would have prevented cities from banning Tennesseans from participating in the homesharing economy using services like Airbnb, while still allowing them to impose reasonable regulations. Unfortunately, dozens of taxpayer-funded lobbyists successfully whittled the bill down, consistently ensuring legislators that their cities would not move to ban the practice. But Nashville did just that.

A few weeks ago, the Nashville Metro Planning Commission voted to phase out permits for those who don’t live in their home. Homeowners who have obtained their permits, paid their taxes, and complied with the law will now have the rug ripped out from under them. The state House recognized that this is patently unfair and contrary to what they had been promised, so it stepped up and passed a new version of the original bill that would overturn Nashville’s actions. Sadly, the bill failed to advance in the Senate. Read our statement about the bill and what should happen going forward here.
Our successful reforms this year will make Tennessee freer and more prosperous. As for the few setbacks, we are committed to making those a continued priority. To stay informed about these issues and more, sign up for our email alerts.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Nashville DA: No charges for police officer in fatal shooting

Nashville DA: No charges for police officer in fatal shooting

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Beacon Statement on the Homesharing Bill

BY JUSTIN OWEN,  The Beacon Center, May 10, 2017 - It’s disappointing for Nashville homeowners that, despite the House voting to protect them, the support simply was not there to do the same in the Senate yesterday. The bill to address homesharing, amended down to apply only to Nashville as a result of its current attempts to ban the practice, was delayed until 2018.
Fortunately, senators expressed concerns about Nashville’s actions and called on the city to take a more reasoned, balanced approach to regulating homesharing without banning it outright. If Nashville – or any other city for that matter – fails to heed this advice, it should be to its peril. 

We live in a society where government cannot and should not tell its citizens they can do something, and then pull the rug out from under them. Nashville homeowners who rent out their homes to tourists visiting our city have obtained permits, complied with the rules, and paid their taxes. The ordinance pending before the Metro Nashville Council would break its prior promise that as long as homeowners abide by the rules, they could continue to serve tourists. That is antithetical to the American way.

What makes this situation even worse is the way this bill was delayed. Standing in the way of this bill moving to the Senate floor were hoards of taxpayer-funded lobbyists working against the very taxpayers they are supposed to represent. Homeowners who rent their homes on a short-term basis had to fork over their hard-earned tax dollars so that their cities could hire lobbyists to fight against their right to participate in the homesharing economy. Forcing Tennesseans to pay for taxpayer-funded lobbyists against their will is immoral and should be stopped.

Hopefully, Nashville government officials will come to their senses on homesharing and focus on punishing bad actors, while enforcing sensible rules and regulations to protect our neighborhoods. But if they continue to trample on property rights at the behest of a powerful hotel industry and with taxpayer-funded lobbyists doing their bidding, then we will be back in full force at the General Assembly next year to stand up for the homeowners they failed to protect.

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Jocques Clemmons Shooting: Officer Justified, MNPD Says; DA Plans Press Conference

An internal report from Metro Police released Thursday includes a previously undisclosed eyewitness account of the Jocques Clemmons shooting

By J.R. Lind (Patch Staff) - May 11, 2017 - NASHVILLE, TN — An internal affairs investigation says Joshua Lippert, the Metro Police officer who shot and killed Jocques Clemmons in the James Cayce Homes in February, was justified in firing his gun. (link)

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Short-term rental bill targeting Nashville dead for the year

The state legislation that would have prevented Nashville from banning homesharing (Airbnb, STRP) has been delayed until next year.  Originally the bill which would have applied state-wide, passed the House but was deferred to next year in the Senate.  Then, the bill was revived and amended to apply to just the four largest cities.  Still, not getting enough support to pass, the bill was amended in the House to apply to only to Nashville.  According to The Tennessean, that effort ran into difficulty in the Senate.  Some questioned the appropriateness or even the constitutionality of making the bill apply to only Nashville.

While the bill did not pass the State legislature has sent a warning to Nashville. Several Senators, including Nashville's Sen. Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville warned cities to be "even-handed" in their policies going forward.

The sponsor of the bill is quoted as saying, "I think the General Assembly at least gave some indication that any overreaching (ban) by the Metro Council could result in repercussions next year if it steps over the boundary that the state's unwilling to go beyond."

The Metro Council is scheduled to vote a bill banning most Short Term Rental Property on May 16th. In addition to a strong likelihood that any ban passed by the Council will be reversed by the State Legislature in 2015, there is also a likelihood than any ban will be challenged in the courts. Homesharing is helping meet the need for visitor lodging in Nashville and is also drawing tourist to the city who would not otherwise visit Nashville.  The hotel industry is pushing the effort to ban homesharing in Nashville.

To read The Tennessean article on today's development, follow this link. For a link to numerous blog post on the topic of Short Term Rental Property, follow this link.

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Nashville Has Poked the Bear on Homesharing

by Justin Owen, The Beacon Center, May 2, 2017 - There was a bill moving through the state legislature this year that would have preempted local governments’ ability to regulate homesharing on services like Airbnb and VRBO. Beacon supported these efforts. While leaving things up to local governments is often the best solution, when those locals trample on our constitutional rights, it’s time for the state to step in and act.
Nashville in particular seemed to get the hint, refraining for awhile from pursuing more hostile measures to limit homesharing. But it appears the city was just waiting for the bear to go into hibernation. The bill was watered down to strip out any preemption of local regulations on homesharing. Instead, it amounted to nothing more than a tax bill to streamline tax collections from these services. With the legislative session ticking down and efforts to rein in cities’ homesharing regulations seemingly at bay, Nashville struck.

Last week, the Metro Planning Commission (chaired by the chief lobbyist for the hotel industry no less) passed an ordinance that will rip the rug out from under those renting their homes short-term if they don’t live in the home. Thousands of Nashvillians have bought homes or kept their home after buying a new one, expecting to be able to rent the home on Airbnb or a similar site. They made this decision after the city told them this activity was legal. Now, if the proposed ordinance passes the Metro Council, those homeowners will have their permit stripped away in 2019 and will be banned from participating in the homesharing economy.

This egregious violation of property rights should not go unpunished. Local governments should not be able to tell someone he or she can do something, and then strip that right away once that person invests money and time in that endeavor. Nashville has proven that it cannot be trusted to balance average citizens’ property rights against neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their property. It is only interested in protecting the hotel industry’s bottom line. Only the legislature can step in and fix this mess.

Nashville has poked the bear. It’s time for that bear to wake up and eat its dinner.

To read about the role the hotel lobby is playing in the opposition to homesharing, click here.

My Comment: I agree with the above. Since that was written, the bill mentioned above has been resurrected but amended to apply to only the four largest Tennessee cities. This will likely improve its chances of passage but time is short as the legislature adjourns very soon.  To read about this development as reported by The Tennessean, follow this link. To read numerous other post on this blog that address the issue of short term rental property, follow this link.

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High Drama in the House as Rogue Republicans Team up with Democrats to Bust the Budget

State Representative Susan Lynn - Passage of the budget did not come without tension and drama.  A persistent false rumor started weeks ago that the Democrats had received a $250 - $300 million pay-off from the Governor in exchange for their vote on the IMPROVE Act was exposed as fake news when the final budget released on Wednesday revealed that no such initiative for the Democrats was included in the budget.  A small band of House Republicans had believed the rumor to be true despite repeated denials by the Governor, House Republican Leadership and Republican members of the House Finance, Ways and Means committee.  These same Republicans were additionally disappointed to find that the conservative budget did not contain any of their $285 million in requested earmarks to the budget. 

The situation boiled over on Wednesday and culminated in an attempted power play as the small group of House Republican’s decided to caucus with the House Democrats in order make a plan to hi-jack the budget on the House floor on Thursday morning.  Prior to House Session the group filed over $1 billion in budget amendments in order to send the budget out of balance and attempt to strong arm pet projects for their districts. 
Their efforts were fought by House Republican Leadership and House Republican Finance, Ways and Means Committee members but the coalition of 28 House Republicans and all of the Democrats was successful at adding nearly $400 million in earmarks to the budget.  As tempers flared the Republican Leadership and Republican Finance, Ways and Means Committee members decided to adjourn the Session and suspend the budget vote until the next morning. 
A compromise was achieved the next morning.  The rogue Republicans agreed to strip all of the $300+ million in earmarks from the budget bill in exchange for $55 million that was to kick-off the IMPROVE Act being redirected to the county state-aid road fund – a fund that counties can use for projects on local state roads. 
The Senate is expected to vote on the budget on Monday and accept the $55 million compromise. 

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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Reflections on the Trump presidency after more than 100 days

by Rod Williams, May, 17, 2017- I did not vote for Donald Trump.  I still think he was the least attractive Republican candidate competing.  While I did not vote for Trump, if we would have had a national election for president however, where the popular vote mattered, which thankfully we do not, I would have voted for him.  I do think he was the less bad choice of two bad choices.  Due to the certainty that Donald Trump would get all of Tennessee's eleven votes, I had the luxury of not choosing the less bad of bad choices.

Since Trump has been elected, I have rallied to his defense, primarily out of disgust at the anti-Trump people who display Trump Unacceptance and Resistance Disorder. The violence of inauguration day and the massive demonstrations the day after and many since has led me to feel absolute disgust with the opposition. If Hillary would have won, we would not have seen the same reaction from those unhappy with the outcome. There would have been a period of respect and civility. Even on a personal level, I have experienced being ostracized and shunned by some who were so upset at the election outcome that they could not tolerate being in the presence of a Republican. The snowflakes who had to have their safe spaces and cry-ins have left me appalled. The rise of liberal fascism on college campuses prohibiting conservative voices from being heard, concerns me.   So, I may have displayed more Trump support than I sometimes felt due to a disgust with Trump opponents and a polarization that pushed me further into the Trump camp.

During the campaign, the one reason I did not support Trump is because I perceived him to be a liberal at heart.  He had a history of supporting Democrat politicians and socializing with liberal elites. He had donated heavily to Democrat candidates and helped elect Harry Reid. He had contributed much, much more money to Democrats than Republicans over the years.  He had also contributed $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He had also switched parties several times and at one time toyed with running for President on the Reform Party ticket.  I saw no reason to believe he was a real Republican.  I can understand one seeing the light and changing parties.  Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat.  Trump, however, has changed too often for me to believe he has had a conversion.  He seems to not know what he believes.

In addition to giving money to Democrat candidates and causes, he has espoused liberal policies.  He has praised single-payer health care, has opposed entitlement reform, has taken a more protectionist trade position than most Democrats and has said complementary things about Planned Parenthood.  He campaigned on a plan to spend $1 trillion dollars for infrastructure spending and promised a new paternal leave entitlement and child care entitlement. Those are hardly conservative positions.  I perceived Trump, if not be be a liberal, to be a populist without core values.  He struck me as the type of leader that determines which way the mob is running and works himself to the front of the pack. He says what people want to hear.  He is charged by the roar of the crowd.

It is not just Trump's support for Democrat candidates and liberal positions and a believe that he has no core values that turned me off on Trump, but also his demeanor.  He acts like a bully and he is crude.  It is one thing to refuse to be seduced by the liberal establishment and changing who you are in order to be liked and bending to political correctness, but is something else to be offensive and impolite and crude.  Ronald Reagan was a strong unbending conservative, but he was a gentleman.  I do not perceive Trump to be a gentleman. Maybe he is simply a product of the times and the nation has become more crude and plain spoken, but I don't like it. I know we are not electing a father or a pastor when we elect a President, but I still want to elect a good person. 

I am also concerned about Trump's temperament. He has a fragile ego and is easy to take offense and seems to speak before he thinks. He focuses on petty stuff like the size of the crowd at the inauguration. He picks fights with celebrity personalities that are insignificant. Trump's impromptu comments and style of governing, causes me unease.  I fear Trump may make an off the cuff comment that could be misunderstood by an adversary and lead to an avoidable war.  Trump is like a bull in a China Shop. He does not instill confidence.  He is not thoughtful and says what's on his mind without thinking and that scares me.

Since Trump's election I have been relatively pleased with the way he has governed.  I am delighted that Neil Corsuch has been placed on the Supreme Court. I am pleased with Trump's cabinet.  I am pleased to see America again take a leadership role in the world.  I approve of the US responding to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I fear that if Hillary had been elected, both North Korea and Iran would become functional nuclear powers.  I feel that is less likely to happen under Trump and the world will be a safer place.  I am pleased to see us rebuilt the American military.  I am pleased to see that Trump is proposing tax reform which has the potential to increase economic growth. I am pleased to see stepped up immigration enforcement and illegal border crossings down by 40%.  I am pleased to see the Keystone pipeline given the green light. I am pleased to see Trump use executive orders to reverse the excessive executive orders of President Obama.  There is much to be pleased about.

I still am waiting to see what he will do with the promised new entitlements and the proposed trillion dollar infrastructure program.  New entitlements should be resisted. There are ways to provide infrastructure spending without increasing the deficit, but if Trump proposes to simply borrow and add to the national debt, infrastructure spending should be resisted. I am concerned that his policies will balloon the national debt and I am convinced that America's deficit spending may be as big of a threat to national security as a nuclear armed adversary. Without entitlement reform we can not make significant debt reductions.  We can not tax our way out of the debt problem; increase taxes leads to decreased growth. While growth can help, neither can we grow ourselves out of the $21 Trillion hole we are in. We must bite the bullet and reduce spending. Entitlements must be on the table.

Syndicated columnist George Will recently wrote what I think was an insightful analysis on Donald Trump and expressed what I feel but have not been able to put into words. Almost every time Donald Trump speaks, I am fearful he will say something really stupid. I often cringe when he says something that is simply not accurate or shows a lack of understanding of the issues.  His defenders will point out that Trump is held to a different standard than Democrats. They will point out Hillary's various misstatements of fact or Obama's saying he had visited all 48 states as examples. That is a good defense but I think there is more to Trump's misstatements and the way he talks that cannot be explained as a biased press that is out to get him.

Trump is an embarrassment. He displays the vocabulary of a fifth grader. He speaks less to explain and more to reinforce opinions. He doesn't try to win over the undecided as much as he speaks to reinforce the opinions of the already convinced. Issues are simply presented as simply issues. I watch a lot of CSPAN and I read journals of opinion.  I know what a thoughtful and informed person sounds like and it is not Donald Trump. Even some people I disagree with, I can respect their grasp of the issue, ability to explain the complex, and use of logic.  I do not respect Donald Trump's intellect. 

George Will wrote that, "it is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Donald Trump's inability to do either."  He said, "Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation's history."  "The problem isn't that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something." I think I agree with George Will. I wish I could respect Donald Trump and I wish I could trust his leadership, but I can do neither.  I just hope we can muddle through the next four years without a major disaster.

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