Saturday, February 01, 2020

Senator Lamar Alexander explains his crucial vote in the impeachment trial.

by Rod Williams - Noah Weiland, a reporter with the New York Times has  been sending out daily

Lamar Alexander
email blast summarizing and offering commentary on the day's impeachment developments. In the report yesterday he reported that the Senate voted not to hear from additional witnesses or consider additional evidence saying that vote virtually assured President Trump's acquittal.

As anyone who has been paying attention now knows, that crucial vote to hear additional witnesses failed by a vote of 49 to 51. All Democrats voted in favor and all Republicans were opposed, except for Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney who voted with the Democrats.

Weiland noted that several Republicans issued statements explaining their vote. He found four of them of interest.  The four were Marco Rubio of Florida, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The thing that made these four explanations interesting is that they each admitted Trump's wrongdoing but argued that it did not rise to the level of removal from office. This is what he said of Alexander.
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in a statement last night that Mr. Trump did what Democrats accused him of, and that those actions were “inappropriate.” He said that “there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.” (Ben Sasse of Nebraska said that “Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us.”)
He went on to elaborate on Lamar Alexander's vote.
My colleague Carl Hulse interviewed Mr. Alexander in a small private office on the third floor of the Capitol this afternoon. There, the outgoing senator offered more detail on how he thought about his “no” vote on witnesses. Why call them, Mr. Alexander asked, “if you are persuaded that he did it.”
I called Carl to ask about what Mr. Alexander’s decision can tell us about how Republicans came together to effectively end the trial.
Carl, I was struck by the political-cultural argument behind his vote. He said removing Mr. Trump from office would “pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.” Why did he frame his decision that way? 
He thought it would just be too disruptive, that even if you add up all this conduct, it just isn’t of the level for which you’d remove a president at such a volatile moment.
He thought that this close to the election, doing something so drastic as pushing the president out of office would have sparked what would basically be a rebellion. People wouldn’t have accepted the election, he thought. He talked to me about what would happen to the primary ballots Mr. Trump’s name is on already. 
What does he think the “cultural fires” are? 
He thinks of it as the divide between urban and coastal America and the rest of the country, and that people outside of the coasts would go crazy if Mr. Trump was thrown out. The president is the embodiment of the Republican Party and its position now. Conservatives identify their conservatism with Mr. Trump. Senate Republicans challenge him at their own risk. 
In your interview with Mr. Alexander, he said: 
“Whatever you think of his behavior, with the terrific economy, with conservative judges, with fewer regulations, you add in there an inappropriate call with the president of Ukraine, and you decide if your prefer him or Elizabeth Warren.”
He’s presenting the impeachment case as a kind of one-off incident, the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s president, amid the glory of a conservative political agenda. Ukraine was just one part of Mr. Trump’s record, he’s thinking. They have to weigh it against what Mr. Trump would say are his biggest accomplishments. Mr. Alexander thinks if you do that and you’re a Republican, you’ll still vote for Mr. Trump. To him, Ukraine is part of an overall record that people can consider in ten short months.
I agree with Senator Alexander and am pleased that he explained his vote.  I do not think the president did "nothing wrong."  I do not think the call was "a perfect call." It appears to me he did attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.  I don't reach a conclusion that the president was motivated by a desire to harm the reputation of Joe Biden and influence the next election, but think that may have been at least part of the motivation. In any event, I do not want to impeach the President over this issue. His record of accomplishments out weighs this one inappropriate action. 

Below is Senator Alexanders full statement he released to the media and public explaining his vote.

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.

“There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.

“The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.

“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.

“Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.” ###

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Survey: Nearly 60% of Tennesseans oppose removal of Trump

Survey: Nearly 60% of Tennesseans oppose removal of Trump

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

How Council Members voted in calling for a new generous employee benefit.

Steve Glover
by Rod Williams - At the January 21st Council meeting the Council passed a memorializing resolution commending Governor Lee for an executive order that authorized most State employees to be eligible for 12 weeks paid leave due to the birth of child or some other family emergencies. The resolution also called upon Metro Government, including Metro Schools, to offer the same benefit.

Governor Lee claims this new benefit will be paid for by taking a little from this fund and that fund to pay for it and that it will have minimal fiscal impact. I am not buying it. It is not possible to provide such a generous benefit without a price tag.

There may be a way such benefit could be paid for without increasing government cost. Such a benefit could possibly be paid for by a reduction from the employees retirement account. I would not oppose studying the issue but I oppose this resolution just called for Metro to provide it. If no one has noticed, Metro is broke. The city had to scramble to cut cost and had to raise water rates to make the budget balance. In the next budget session I expect a call for a major property tax increase. 

While a memorializing resolution when expressing a point of view or a desired policy is pretty much meaningless when directed toward State or Federal government, when the Council goes on record expressing a desired Metro government policy it does mean something since the Council is the legislative body of Metro government.

Russ Pulley
I think this resolution was fiscally irresponsible. Below are the sponsors of the resolution:

Sponsor(s): Colby Sledge, Nancy VanReece, Sean Parker, Zachary Young, Joy Styles, Kyonzté Toombs, Gloria Hausser, Ginny Welsch, Thomas Cash, Russ Bradford, Bob Mendes, Tonya Hancock, Emily Benedict, John Rutherford, Sharon Hurt, Delishia Porterfield, Antoniette Lee, Freddie O'Connell, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara.

Here are how members voted:
Voting Yes (34): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Robert Swope, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Robert Nash, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Lee, Angie Henderson, and Rosenberg.

Above I have underlined the names of those who disappoint me by there vote.I did not expect better from the other "yes" votes.

Voting No (1): Steve Glover;
Courtney Johnson

Voting Abstain (2): Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston.

Not voting: Two members were absent from this meeting Jonathan Hall and Tanaka Vercher. That means this person may have been distracted, out of the room or could have just set on their hands or possibly could have arrived for the meeting late.  The missing not voting member is Joy Styles. I am not giving Styles any credit for not voting since she was one of the sponsors of the resolution. 

I commend Steve Glover, Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston for their fiscally responsible vote. 

Below is the text of the resolution:
Resolution RS2020-172

A Resolution commending Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for Executive Order 11 regarding paid family leave, and calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government to implement paid family leave policies equal to or greater than the paid family leave outlined in the aforementioned executive order.

WHEREAS, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 11 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order 11 allows for more than 38,000 Tennessee state employees associated with departments with the state’s executive branch to begin taking up to 12 weeks’ paid time off for qualifying family and medical situations under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, starting March 1, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Tennessee state lawmakers have indicated they will pass legislation in 2020 that will apply the provisions of Executive Order 11 to an additional 3,100 Tennessee state employees; and

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Civil Service Commission adopted a paid family leave plan in 2017 that allows up to 6 weeks’ paid time off if they are full-time Metro government employees who have worked for Metro for at least six months, are new parents, or are caring for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child; and

WHEREAS, several areas of Metro government, most notably Metro Nashville Public Schools, do not have a paid family leave policy; and

WHEREAS, Nashville is home to several large employers who offer similar or more generous paid maternity and paternity leave; and

WHEREAS, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has indicated she will call for a paid family leave policy for Knoxville government employees similar to that of Executive Order 11; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of Metro government to ensure its employees are provided adequate paid family leave for the health and well-being of Metro employees and their family members, to reduce taxpayer costs of employee turnover and attrition, to create an attractive work environment for prospective employees, and to uplift Metro government employees as valued members of Nashville and Davidson County.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as calling for the expansion of Metro Nashville’s current paid family leave policy from six weeks to at least 12 weeks, as outlined in Executive Order 11; and further goes on record as calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, to implement a paid family leave policy equal to or greater than the policy outlined in Executive Order 11.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Boot Camp for Conservatives with Steve Deace, Sat. Feb. 15th

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As Mayor Cooper says MLS stadium infrastructure costs are 'doubling,' the path forward remains unclear

The Tennessean, ...   Speaking at the Nashville Business Breakfast last month, Cooper said fairgrounds projects cost around $43 million, not the slated $25 million. In October, Cooper told WSMV that the city has already spent the $50 million approved for both fairground upgrades and stadium infrastructure.

“We have spent close to our $50 million already on the buildings, and that is before our infrastructure obligations to prepare for the stadium,” the mayor said.

Under the approved project plan, the city would pay $225 million in revenue bonds for the 30,500-seat stadium while the team would chip in an initial $25 million capital contribution. The team has committed to cover all stadium overrun costs, and separately is tasked with covering a $150 million expansion fee with MLS.

....If sales and $1.75 ticket tax revenues fall below $4 million for the first five years of operation, or $3 million in years six through 10, Metro would be on the hook to make up the different from non-tax revenue sources. (link)

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Trump Jr. to visit Gallatin to boost Hagerty US Senate bid

Trump Jr. to visit Gallatin to boost Hagerty US Senate bid

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Can a Republican beat Jim Cooper?

by Rod Williams - On the wish list of every local Republican I know, is that Jim Cooper be voted out of office and be replaced by a Republican.  What are the changes of that happening? In thinking about the prospects of beating Jim Cooper, one place to start is looking at how Republicans have done in the past

Previous Challengers of Jim Cooper have not done well.
Note that the 5th Congressional District includes portions of Cheatham and Dickson Counties and Republican candidates do better in those counties than Davidson County.

In the 2018 election, the Republican got 32% of the vote. If you look at Davidson County only, he only got 29% of the vote. 


In 2016, the Republican got 37% of the vote and in Davidson County only 34% of the vote.

In 2014, the Republican got 36% of the vote, but in Davidson County only, only got 33% of the vote.

In 2012 the Republican got 33% of the vote but in Davidson County 32%.


In 2010 Republicans were really fired up.  That was the time of the tea party movement and there was a lot of energy among conservative.  There had been a spirited primary with a bunch of good Republican candidates. David Hall worked as hard as I think any candidate could work.  The Republican candidate got 42% of the vote and Jim Cooper got 56% of the vote.

However, one factor in Republicans doing better in 2010 than in years since is that the District 5 boundaries were more hospitable to Republicans. Wilson County made up a significant portion of the district.  Between 2010 and 2012 there was a new census and lines were redrawn to make the 5th even more favorable to Democrats.

If one looks at the returns one would have to conclude that the chances of a Republican beating Jim Cooper are pretty slim.  However, lets look at other factors before reaching that conclusion.

Other Republicans have not done will in Davidson County.
In the 2010 governor's race, Bill Haslam did not carry the County but came close. He got 75,381 votes compared to 76,427 for Mike McWherter.
In the 2012 presidential election Romney got 39.7% of the vote and Obama got 58.2% of the vote.
In the 2016 presidential  race Donald Trump only got 34% of the vote and Hillary Clinton got 60% of the vote.
In the 2018 governor's race, Republican Bill Lee got only 34% of the vote and former mayor Karl Dean got 66%.

However, sometimes Republicans do win in Davidson County but not often. 
In the 2014 Governors Race, Bill Haslam running for reelection got 71,661 votes compared to Democrat challenger Charlie Brown's 47,438. Brown did not present much of a challenge, however. I think that Nashville has changed so much since 2010 that is not helpful to look at races earlier than that year.

There are a lot of "yellow dog Democrats" in Nashville.

One reason it is difficult for Republicans to compete in Davidson County is that there are a lot of people who will vote Democrat no matter what. "Yellow Dog Democrats" was a political term applied to voters in the South in the past who voted only for candidates who represented the Democratic Party.  That was all these voters needed to know about a candidate, that he was a Democrat. These voters would "vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for a Republican."  Well, there are still a lot of "yellow dog Democrats in Nashville. Consider the Senate election of 2012 when the candidates were Republican Bob Corker running for reelection and Democrat challenger M. E. Clayton.

Of the votes cast in this contest 48% voted for Bob Corker and 45% voted for Clayton. A few votes went to other candidates.  Corker won Davidson County but not by much. M. E. Clayton had no qualifications for office, raised no money and did not campaign. He was associated with a group that some called a hate group, Public Advocate of the United States. The Democratic Party disavowed his candidacy and urged candidates to write in a candidate of their choice. State wide Corker got more than twice as many votes as Clayton but not in Nashville.  If Nashville Democrats will vote for M. E. Clayton, they will vote for any Democrat. That is a build in advantage.

There are a lot of new progressive Democrats in Nashville.
I don't have stats to back this up but observing local politics convinces me this is so. These are the mostly younger voters, many who may identify as socialist.  In the last election for Council several local affiliates of national organizations such as Code Blue, Democracy Now, National Justice League, LGBTQ Victory Fund, Women for Tennessee's Future, and Laborers’ International Union of North America were active in our election. These young progressives bring energy and manpower to an election and that does not bode well for a Republican candidate.

In conclusion, it will be very difficult to beat Jim Cooper.
As the district line are currently drawn, a Republican simply cannot beat Jim Cooper today. Republicans can get about 34% of the vote and that is it.  However, if certain thinks happen, Jim Cooper could be beatable.

What could make Jim Cooper beatable?

1. If Cooper is beat or weakened by a progressive candidate in the Democratic primary, a Republican would have a chance. Jim Cooper has picked up three challengers in the Democratic primary, all to his left, the most formidable of these is 24-year-old Vanderbilt divinity student and activist Justin Jones.  He is the person who threw coffee on Glen Casada at the State capitol building and was arrested. He is the person who at a Marsha Blackburn event, during a moment of silence to honor fallen victims of a mass shooting, yelled out "racist" and had to be physically removed from the building.  He was also arrested for that event. He has gained a following.  Many progressives in Nashville think it is time to beat Jim Cooper.  In addition to progressives who want to beat Cooper, many more mainstream Democrats are not really fond of him.  He is not a warm person.  Many consider him aloof and arrogant. By all accounts he does not have much of a grassroots organization.
 In normal times one would think a person like Jones would not stand a chance but if a bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be elected to Congress, anything is possible.  If Jones got the nomination, I believe a Republican  could beat Jones.  If Jones does not win the nomination but comes close in a bitter campaign, then progressives may choose to not vote for Cooper in November.  They, of course, will not vote for a Republican but may sit out the election. 
2. If Jim Cooper's leftward move is exploited he could be beatable. I have never thought of Jim Cooper as a conservative but he at one time at least talked about the dangers of the national debt.  Recently he endorsed the Green New Deal. I suspect many voters have heard of the Green New Deal but are not really aware of what it calls for. I suspect many who are concerned about global warming, think the Green New Deal is a positive thing.  Once they learn what radical changes it calls for and the price tag, they will turn against politicians who endorse it. 
3. If the above two things happen, the right Republican could stand a chance of winning. Despite the case I build above that it will be difficult for a Republican to win a seat in Davidson County without redrawing the district, I do not think it hopeless. Here are some reasons why.  1.)Nashville is not as liberal as it first may appear.  John Cooper ran for mayor on a platform of fiscal responsibility and defeated an incumbent mayor who wore a pussy hat to protest Trump's election and advocated that Nashville be a Sanctuary city.  2.) The voters voted against a new tax to fund mass transit.  3.) The voters elected  Steve Glover, an avowed conservative and Republican to one of the five at-large Council seats.  These were all non-partisan votes but it does indicated that Nashville is not hopelessly liberal.
If Jim Cooper had been weakened or beaten in a primary the right Republican could stand a chance. It would still be an uphill battle but the district could be competitive.  The candidates who have challenged Jim Cooper are all good people and I would be pleased if any of them were serving in Congress but they were not well know prior to running and they were not adequately funded. A Republican can not unseat Jim Cooper without a lot of money. I don't know how much but just a guess is about $1.5 million. In Megan Barry's successful race for mayor, she raised $1.1 million. The right Republican candidate needs to be someone who has previous success in their career and is known in the community already and someone who is moderate in rhetoric and demeanor. 
4. By far the most important thing that would help a Republican win Jim Cooper's seat if the district was redrawn to make it competitive for a Republican. Every ten years the State has to redraw district lines so that each district represents about the same number of people. The State legislature will redistrict this year. There is no reason Davidson County could not be split. The 5th Congressional District is surrounded by solidly Republican districts that Republicans win by big margins. District could be redrawn so that a Republican could have a chance in Davidson County. In 2020 there will be a new census and district lines will have to be redrawn with new district boundaries in effect in 2022. Republicans in the house could split the Davidson County vote among two or three districts. This could be done in such a way that Republicans now in office would not in danger of losing an existing seat but that a Republican would have a chance in Davidson County. 
I know there are some smart people with political insight reading this blog.  If you have insight on this topic, I would appreciate hearing from you.

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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Amy Frogge receives national hero treatment for her Nashville anti-school choice role.

Amy Frogge
by Rod Williams - Nashville's leading opponent of school choice, school board member Amy Frogge, is receiving national recognition for her anti-reform efforts and is being treated as a hero.

Diane Ravitch, education historian, education policy analyst, former Assistant Secretary of Education, and author has profiled Amy Frogge in a new book, “Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools.”  The book profiles several people who have, in Ravitch's words, "successfully fought off the people she calls 'Disrupters,'  those who were trying to privatize America’s public education system."

Ravitch's profile of Frogge has been excerpted in Ravitch's blog, and the Washington Post and several other sites. One excerpt reads, "She courageously stood up to the right-wing governor, the legislature, the state commissioner, and Mayor Dean, who were all pushing for more charters in Nashville." That "right-wing governor" Ravitch is referring to is Bill Haslam.

Another except says, "The local newspapers criticized her as “divisive” and “shrill” for taking a stand (these are the words applied to women who speak out but not to men, who are seen as “forceful” and “strong”). The newspapers grew tired of her complaints about the large amounts of outside money that poured into school board races." Those newspapers accused of anti-women bias have to be The Tennessean, The Scene, and maybe some others.  They are not named but to refer to our liberal newspapers as having a anti-women bias and implying a conservative bias is a joke.

I wish Amy Frogge success on the national stage.  Maybe if she is successful she will resign from the School Board and leave Nashville.  To read more of the fawning, distorted, one-sided writing,  follow one of the referenced links above.

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37208: Zip code has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Update.

According to a study by the Brookings Institute, zip code 37208 has the highest incarceration rate in
the country.  This study was made public a few months ago. Since then a committee of the Council has been studying the issue. Community meetings have been held and community leaders have identified a need more economic development, jobs, affordable housing and better schools as a means of addressing the issue. Follow this link for the News Channel 5 report on the story.

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Vanderbilt University is the 7th hardest university to get into.

From Travel Trivia:



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