Saturday, July 25, 2020

"Not Real," looks at the fake news of the week.

by Rod Williams, 7/25/2020 - In economics, there is a law, "bad money drives out good money." In information, I fear "false news drives out real news."

I have at times applauded the decline of the major news networks and the rise of alternative sources of news. However, over the last twenty years or so, and at an accelerating rate, we are seeing a dumbing down of America. Part of this can be blamed on the education establishment that has gone from sound education to indoctrination. Most of it however, is more organic and cultural. People are simply not as informed as in a previous age. They have shorter attention spans and they want news that reinforces what they already believe.

We may have the world at our fingertips but people know less about what goes on in the world than in previous generations. We have several 24 hours news channels but if you actually watch them, there is not much news on the news channels. If is across the spectrum too. From far left MSNBC to Fox News, most of the time is taken up with talking heads giving their take on the news of the day. It is bombastic or snarky TV personalities promoting a point of view and demonizing the other side, or a panel of "experts" spending hours talking about something that may be pretty inconsequential.

I think what has happened is that newspapers declined because reading a news paper is reading yesterday's news. CNN is instantaneous news. The format of TV news however is such that people want visuals. As people watch more TV news, their attention span shortens. TV has no time for deep explanations the way a newspaper story can cover the news. As people quit reading newspapers, revenues fell and newspapers had to cut staff and could do less in-depth reporting, so even more people dropped their subscription. Most cities now only have one newspaper and some large cities have no newspapers. That is not good for a democracy.

It is nothing new that a lesser important story gets knocked off the front page when a more important story happens, but it seems to me, that we have reached a point at which we can only pay attention to a couple topics at a time. Take the current news climate. About all we are hearing about is the civil unrest or Covid-19. Those are for sure important topics. But, that is not all that is happening in the world. What is the daily news out of Hong Kong? We are witnessing a democracy with a population of seven and a half million people on the verge of being taken over by a despotic regime. If this happens, we may see millions sent to reeducation camps and thousands killed. There may not be anything we can do about it, but we ought to know about it. We ought to witness it.

When is the last time you saw a news story about Venezuela. It is still there. The last I heard there was a stand off between the dictator and the person the National Assembly declared to be the president. What is the latest? Months ago people had resorted to eating cats and dogs. A recent story I saw on BBC says the fuel shortage is so severe that funeral homes are having trouble getting fuel for hearst to drive bodies to cemeteries. This is a major drama playing out in our backyard and we don't know it.

Back in the decade of the 80's I served in the Metro Council. At that time we had The Tennessean and the Nashville Banner and they would compete for stories. They had real investigative reporters. In addition, each of the three local TV channels had news reporters and radio stations WSM and WLAC had reporters. At an event, there would be a gaggle reporters trying to get a quote. Reporters competed for the "scoop." Now it seems that the coverage is so superficial and the news is mostly press releases sent to the papers. There are not many investigative reporters left.

Local TV news has gotten bad along with the newspapers. If you watch the local news you will see a lot of sports, a weather lesson when all I want to know is it going to rain tomorrow, and a car wreck and a crime. There is very little delving into issues or exposing corruption or scandal.

While news has been on the decline, what has been growing is "fake news." I am appalled at the things reposted on Facebook. And, more and more people get most of their news from social media. People believe lots of things that are simply made up.

A new feature from AP and Nexstar and carried locally by WKRN called "Not Real," looks at the fake news of the week. Here are the fake news items of the past week. You probably saw these stories on Facebook. I saw most of them.

  • There is no coin shortage. Coins get recirculated, they don’t just disappear. The government is trying to usher in a cashless society.  
  • Former President Barack Obama signed the law authorizing federal agents to “snatch” protesters off the streets in Portland, Oregon. 
  •  A video from a 1985 hearing exposes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for using the N-word, stating: “We already have a n—– mayor, we don’t need any more n—– big shots!” 
  • Black tour buses wrapped with “Black Lives Matter” were seen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bringing in Black Lives Matter and antifa rioters for protests. 
  • In a July 17 tweet, President Donald Trump says he is “SO MAD” the Pentagon abolished the Confederate flag and calls the flag a symbol of love. 
  • NASA has officially announced a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, after discovering a new constellation, meaning your zodiac star has changed. 

Don't believe someting just because you read it on Facebook. Check out the source. I try to be careful, but I have on occation clicked "share" without checking a source. If I do post something false, I welcome having it pointed out and if it is false, I will remove it. None of us should want to be gulity of spreading lies.

Stay informed and stay skeptical.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Continued selective enforcement of Covid-19 rules.

by Rod Williams - As of yesterday, Nashville police gave 6,704 mask mandate warnings. Wearing a mask is now mandatory when leaving home according to Order 8 and all gatherings of over 25 people are prohibited (link).

However, enforcement is selective and arbritary.  The rules are not enforced against protestors or anything related to the cause of Black civil rights. Last night there was a  'I miss my baby' vigil held for Daniel Hambrick who was killing in an altercation with police two years ago. Photos show people not wearing mask and the gathering was of more than 25 people.

When laws apply to some and not to others based on the official approval of disapproval of the cause, then this breeds contempt for the law.  Equal protection of the law and impartial justice is a halmark of respect for law and order.  The police may still be able to impose their will on pepople by brute force and intimidation.  They may gain compliance but it is out of fear of the consequences of non-compliance, not the voluntary compliance due to respect for the law.  Law needs to be applied impartially.

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Class action lawsuit filed after robocalls push for recall of Mayor John Cooper, property tax hike

Class action lawsuit filed after robocalls push for recall of Mayor John Cooper, property tax hike

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Tennessee GOP U.S. Senate primary remains heated as Sethi challenges Hagerty to debate

Tennessee GOP U.S. Senate primary remains heated as Sethi challenges Hagerty to debate

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Effort to roll back property tax hike fails in the Council

by Rod Williams - At last night's council meeting there was a resolution sponsored  by Robert Swope on the agenda that asked Mayor Cooper to submit a new tax levy by August 15th.  This would not have changed the budgeted dollar amounts. It would have cut no services or programs. It called for rolling back the tax levy to an amount that "dollar for dollar" for what the city is receiving in unrestricted relief funding.  That is, money received from the Federal government for Covid 19 relief that does not have to be spend on Covid-19 expenses.

It failed! This should have been an easy vote. This should have been an no-brainer. What is wrong with our Council? Stay tuned.  I will post how members voted.

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Four Bills aimed at "reforming" Metro police, including the tear gas ban bill, were withdrawn in Metro Council.

by Rod Williams, 7/22/2020 - Four separate bills aimed at changing local law enforcement practices were withdrawn at last night's Council meeting.  One by Councilman Colby Sledge would have banned use of choke holds.  Another bill sponsored by Sharon Hurt would have allowed people interacting with the police the right ask the police officer if his body camera was on and would have required police to answer, “The video is on. How may I serve you?”. Another sponsored by Sharon Hurt would have required police to have annual implicit bias training.

A bill by Emily Benedict would have banned use of tear gas. It only barely passed first reading so was obviously doomed for defeat. Police argued it would take away an important deescalation tool.

For more on this topic see below.
Nashville council withdraws slate of police reform legislation
Metro Council debates several police reform bills and related matters in a lengthy meeting
Nashville council members hear from law enforcement as they weigh police reform bills

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Metro Council appoints Berthena Nabaa-McKinney to Metro Nashville Board of Education

See the source image
Berthena Nabaa-McKinney
by Rod Williams, 7/21/2020 - Tonight the Council had four candidates to choose from to replace Anna Shepherd on the Board of Education. Anna Shepherd passed away in June leaving a vacancy. The race was looked at as a toss-up between community activist John Little and longtime educators Stephanie Bradford and Berthena Nabaa-McKinney.

Little has drawn attention in recent weeks, after State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D Memphis, wrote to the council urging members not to appoint Little. Little is a proponent of school choice. Not surprisingly, the Council did not appoint Little, instead the Council appointed Berthena Nabaa-McKinney.  As is our school board, the Metro Council opposes school choice.

After three rounds of voting Nabaa-McKinney was appointed by a vote of 25-14. The appointment is only for a short time.  In November the remainder of Shepherd's term comes to an end and there will an election to fill this seat.

The candidate with the most union support was Stephanie Bradford. She had the support of the teachers unioin (MNEA), the Service Employees International (SEIU) Union Local 205, and the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

For more on this story see:
Metro Council appoints Berthena Nabaa-McKinney to Metro Nashville Board of Education
Metro Council to choose between former educators, charter school advocate for empty school board seat Tuesday
State Rep. Parkinson urges Metro Council not to appoint John Little to school board

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Who are the 3 Dems seeking the nomination to challenge Steve Dickerson. Can a Dem beat Dickerson?

by Rod Williams - Three candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Senator Steve Dickerson in November.  They are Heidi Campbell, Kimi Abernathy, and Zaia Thombre.  Heidi Campbell is the mayor of the satellite city of Oak Hill and is the most qualified and appears the front runner in the primary election.

Steve Dickerson may be vunerable.  Like the rest of Nashville, the 20th Senatorial district is becoming more liberal.   Hillary Clinton beat out Donald Trump in 2016 in the district and in 2018 Democrat Bob Freeman picked up the House seat in the District that had been Republican Beth Harwell's for many years.  Democrats are salivating over the prospects of picking up this seat. 

In an article in Tennessee Outlook the candidates are profiled and the race analyzed. See, Closely contested Democratic primary foreshadows November showdown for Senate District 20.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

This is who is running for school board and none of them deserve a vote.

by Rod Williams- Our schools are failing. As population has grown in Nashville, the number of children enrolling in Metro Public Schools has been shrinking. Families with school age children are fleeing Metro Schools.  The number of schools on the State list of failing schools is growing.  We had the terrible experience of having Dr. Shawn Joseph as director and the scandals surrounding his administration. And, our School Board routinely votes against school choice. 

We have a School Board election coming up August 6th and five of the nine districts will be electing school board members.  Don't look for things to get better.  I expect things to get worse.  I have listed below the members running for school board and what information I could find about them.  I see no reason to vote for any of them.  When only presented with bad choices, do not feel compelled to vote.  I would recommend skipping these contest or writing in one's own name.


BARRY BARLOW. Barlow was a 2019 unsuccessful candidate for District 3 of the Nashville Metro Council. I cannot find any more information about him.

Sharon Gentry
SHARON GENTRY. Gentry is the chairman of the School Board and is seeking reelection. She was first elected to the Board in 2008. Gentry is the director of clinical informatics strategic development, innovation, and integration at HCA. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Xavier University of Louisiana, a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee State University, and a doctoral degree in education from Tennessee State University. She and her husband have two daughters.

She has overseen the decline in the quality of education and has a record of opposing public school choice and does not deserve to be reelected. See her campaign Facebook page at this link.

Robert Taylor
ROBERT TAYLOR. Robert Taylor was born in Washington, D.C. He attended Fisk University. Taylor's career experince includes working as a Rule 31 Medinator, not that I know what that is. I got this off of Ballopedia. You can visit his website at this link.

SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 3 (This is the seat formerly occupied by Jill Speering.)

Brian Hubert
BRIAN HUBERT. Visit his website at this link.  He say, "I will fight against vouchers, budget cuts, and the neglect of our teachers."  That is a reason I would tend to not support him. His website says he is a 2003 graduate of Hunters Lane High School and does not mention any higher education.

Emily Masters
EMILY MASTERS. Visit her website at this link. She is endorsed by the Metro Nashville Education Association, Central Labor Council of Nashville & Middle TN, SEIU Local 205, and Women in Numbers. She served on the PTO board of Dan Mills
Elementary for 7 years. She works as  a freelance fundraising consultant.

Christiane Buggs

CHRISTIANE BUGGS. She is seeking reelection running unopposed. She has two Master’s degrees in Education—one in Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University and the other in Urban Education from Vanderbilt University.  Visit her website at this link.


Freda Player-Peters
FREDA PLAYER-PETERS. She is seeking reelection, running unopposed. In September 2019, she was elected to the School Board by the Metro Council to complete the term of  Will Pinkston who resigned his position. Freda Player-Peters was at the time serving as the Nashville Mayor's Office senior legislative liaison.  For more information see this link. To visit her website, follow this link.


RUSSELLE ANN BRADBURY. To visit her website, follow this link. She has a masters degree in Social Work and a good record of volunteerism. She has the endorsement of Run For Something. FRS "endorses candidates who deeply value inclusion, diversity, and constituent voices, and run grassroots, all-in, progressive campaigns that reflect these values." That is all I need to know.

a master’s degree in education and is a former teacher. She commits to fully fund Metro Schools, which means give them whatever amount they ask for. I am not engaging in hyperbole; that is really what that means. She says she will oppose charter schools and vouchers. She has the endorsement of the teachers union (MNEA). To visit her website, follow this link.

There is not much information about these races and candidates are not doing much to distinguish themselves. From what I have learned about the candidates, I do not want any of them elected.

These are the candidates endorsed by SEIU: District 1 – Dr. Sharon Gentry District 3 – Emily Masters District 5 – Christiane Buggs District 7 – Freda Player-Peters  District 9 – Abigail Tylor. This is reason enough to not vote for them.

As to who has the money in these races, as reported in Dad Gone Wild, District 3 candidate Brian Hubert reports $5349.26 in small donations and District 9 candidate Russelle Bradbury is reporting $11,381.59 in contributions.

For more information, see these stories:
Metro Nashville school board candidates discuss reopening, equity, charters during forum
Replay: Nashville School Board candidate forum

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Dr. Manny Calls For Hagerty to Stop Hiding and Debate

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Dr. Manny Sethi today invited Ambassador Bill Hagerty to join him for a public debate on major issues facing our state and our nation.

 “Early voting has begun, and voters want to hear directly from Ambassador Hagerty and myself, discussing our differences,” said Dr. Manny. “It’s simple, it’s time for Ambassador Hagerty to debate. This is a tight race, and with COVID limiting voter interactions for the last few months, most folks haven’t been able to hear from the candidates directly. This is a great way to allow that to happen, so they can make an educated and informed choice. I look forward to debating him soon.”

“Bill Hagerty is spending millions smearing Manny Sethi. He should stop hiding behind his Super PAC’s false attack ads and face Dr. Sethi like a man,” said Chris Devaney, Campaign Chairman.

Rod's Comment: I have not endorsed a candidate in this race. I think we have two good candidates and would be pleased to have either one of them represent me in the Senate. I don't think you could see daylight between their ideological positions.

"Insider" is a term the less experienced candidate often uses to label a more experienced candidate. I do not find it helpful in telling me what I need to know about a candidate to help me make up my mind about how I will vote. By labellng Hagerty an "insider," Sethi is not winnng any points with me. I have never been persuaded that experience is a bad thing.

In the last race for governor, my vote was Diane Black's to lose and she lost it. I am sick of candidates smearing good people with nitpicky attacks making mountains out of molehills. I normally to do not vote early and doubt I will this time. I will be watching the campaigns. Rather than one of two good candidates wining me over, I suspect that one of the candidates will drive me into the camp of the other by his use of negatives attacks.

The above being said, I must commend Dr. Sethi for being accessible and criticize Mr. Hagerty for not being seen. I have seen Dr. Sethi speak twice at Fist Tuesday and a couple other times at other events and have had other opportunities to see him speak if I had wanted. Hagerty has not spoken to First Tuesday, nor am I aware of other opportunities to see him speak since he announced his candidacy for Senate.  Hagerty may lose my vote simply because he has not been seen.

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