Friday, June 10, 2022

More take-away from The House January 6 Committee hearings.

As reported by The Dispatch:

The House January 6 committee held its first televised hearing last night, presenting a blow-by-blow account of the post-election assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters trying to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory. In her opening remarks, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney revealed a number of previously unreported developments: that a number of Republican members of Congress sought preemptive pardons in the wake of the assault for their roles in attempting to overturn the election; that it was Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, who assumed the task of marshaling federal law enforcement to respond to the attack; and that Trump had mused during the assault that the rioters threatening violence against Pence might have the right idea.

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I agree. Rod Williams

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Robby Starbuck is off the Republican Primary ballot. Supreme Court rules against him, vacates the Judge Perkins ruling of June 3rd.

Robby Starbuck
by Rod Williams, June 10, 2022- Robby Starbuck had until 10AM Thursday to file a response with the Tennessee Supreme Cout to a petition requesting that the Court of Appeals vacate Judge Perkins’ June 3rd that placed Starbuck back on the primary ballot last week and ruled that the Tennessee Republican Party violated the Open Meetings Act by holding a closed-door meeting to kick him off of the ballot. 

Starbuck responded in a timely manner. In his response, Starbuck argues that the petition should be denied because the factual basis for it is incorrect and that "it is doubtful that this Court has jurisdiction to grant such a petition." 

The Supreme Court ruled against Starbuck. Here is the Court's conclusion:

The order of the trial court granting Mr. Starbuck a temporary injunction is vacated,
and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this 
opinion. The Appellants’ motion to stay the injunction pending appeal, as well as the State 
Officials’ petition for a common law writ of certiorari and supersedeas, are denied as moot. 
This Opinion is not subject to rehearing under Tennessee Rule of Appellate 
Procedure 39, and the Clerk is directed to certify this Opinion as final and to immediately 
issue the mandate. Costs on appeal are taxed to Mr. Starbuck, for which execution may issue if necessary.

So, Robby Starbuck will not be on the Republican primary ballot. Of course, if he chose to do so, he could run as an independent.

To read the ruling follow this link.

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Take-aways from the January 6 Committee prime-time hearing

by Rod Williams, June 10, 2022 - I watched the Jan. 6th hearing last night.  I know many Republicans did not. Fox News, the network of choice of most Republicans, did not even carry it. A lot of Republican elected officials and right-wing talk show hosts vowed they would not watch it. The mindset of many Republicans is that the election was stolen, the insurrection was justified, my mind is made up, and don't confuse me with facts. 

So if you missed it and are the least curious about what was revealed, here are excerpts from a post by Jim Geraghty appearing in National Review today.

By and large, the committee told us what we already knew: Donald Trump simply could not accept any scenario in which he legitimately lost the 2020 election; he was — and judging by the furious statement he issued last night, still is — in an all-consuming state of intractable psychological denial. He immediately concluded that Biden’s win was illegitimate, with no evidence, and set about doing everything possible to disrupt the transfer of power. He wouldn’t listen to any evidence or facts, even when those facts were presented by longtime allies, and he would listen to anyone who told him what he wanted to hear, no matter how self-evidently unhinged they were. 

I found one of the most compelling portions of the hearing the testimony of former attorney general Jim Barr.  He was in office at the time of the riot. In his testimony, Barr says he told President Trump the idea of a stolen election was "bullshit."  He said he looked for evidence and could find no evidence of significant electoral fraud. He couldn't find it then and nothing in the last year and a half has changed his mind.  Also, I found it interesting, that Trump's daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump said she accepted Barr's conclusion that the 2020 election wasn't stolen.

More from the Geraghtsy piece:

Wyoming representative Liz Cheney reminded viewers that President Trump never expressed any disapproval of the bloody riot on Capitol Hill that day; in fact, he justified it, and contended on Twitter that lawmakers on Capitol Hill deserved it: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” 

What I get from the Jan. 6th hearing is that Trump approved of the attack and if the mob would have murdered Mike Pense, as some were set on doing, Trump would have applauded the action. Future hearings are likely to make the case that the attack was planned in advance and that there was coordination between the Oath Keepers, The Proud Boys, and the Trump administration. 

I am convinced that Trump is guilty as hell of trying to subvert our Democracy.  Geraghty raises an important question, however.

The current contention is that Donald Trump led an insurrection against his own government, attempted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, and brought violence and bloodshed to the legislative branch — but somehow, he did all of that without violating any U.S. laws.

If a U.S. president tries to disrupt the actions of another branch of government through brute force and the direction of enraged mob violence, is the proper consequence a prime-time congressional hearing where various lawmakers and witnesses denounce him? Or is the proper consequence charging him with a crime?

I urge Republicans to watch the hearings. 


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Thursday, June 09, 2022

Update on the Robby Starbuck ballot access battle. Robby’s legal team has until 10:00am in the morning, Thursday, to file a response to move to vacate the June 3rd order.

by Rod Williams, June 8, 2022- Here is an update on the Robby Starbuck ballot access saga.

As it stands now, the Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, and Commissioner of Elections, Mark Goins, on June 7th filed a petition for Common Law Writ of Certiorari and Supersedeas, requesting that the Court of Appeals vacate Judge Perkins’ June 3rd order. That was the order that placed Starbuck back on the primary ballot last week and ruled that the Tennessee Republican Party violated the Open Meetings Act by holding a closed-door meeting to kick him off of the ballot. 

Further, concurrent on the 7th the Tennessee Republican Party filed a motion for the TN Supreme Court to Assume Jurisdiction pursuant to the Court’s Rule 48. Earlier today the Supreme Court granted the motion for them to assume jurisdiction of the case.  They have given Robby’s legal team until 10:00am in the morning, Thursday, to file a response.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2022

House Passes Democrats’ Gun Measures as Senate Talks Continue. House Votes to Increase Semi-Automatic Rifle Purchase Age to 21

by Siobhan Hughes, Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2022 -WASHINGTON—The Democratic-controlled House passed a broad package of measures intended to reduce gun violence, while parents and other witnesses shaken by mass shootings in their communities beseeched lawmakers at a congressional hearing to act to prevent further deaths.

The House bill, approved 223 to 204 largely along party lines, pulls together a series of gun measures that have backing in the Democratic Party but little support among Republicans, making the proposal a nonstarter in the evenly split Senate, where 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. Senate negotiators are working on a narrower set of proposals, centered on school security, supporting state red-flag laws and adding juvenile records to background checks, to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. (link)


House Votes to Increase Semi-Automatic Rifle Purchase Age to 21

National Review, June 8. 2022- On Wednesday, as part of a slate of bills aimed at curbing mass shootings and gun violence, the House voted to increase the age required to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.

The vote was 228 to 199, with ten Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the measure. Those GOP members were Representatives Fitzpatrick, Gonzalez, Jacobs, Katko, Kinzinger, Malliotakis, Salazar, Smith, Turner, and Upton. (link)

Rod's Comment: I support increasing the age to purchase AR-15 type weapons to age 21. I will have more to say on the issue in a future post. It is time for sensible legislation to reduce gun violence. 

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Metro Council meeting on new schools budget highlighted by emotional employee testimonies

 By Rebecca Cardenas, Jun. 8, 2022, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Nashville mayor’s budget proposal will face another vote before it receives final approval and dozens of Nashvillians voiced their input on Tuesday night.

The nearly 5-hour Metro Council meeting adjourned after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, with nearly two hours taken up by public comment. Story after story of Metro employees struggling to make ends meet in an increasingly expensive city were told.

As it stands, the nearly $3 billion budget includes a fully funded school budget, affordable housing, cost-of-living increases for Metro employees and additional funding for the Department of Transportation. (link)

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State Supreme Court granted an appeal of a lower court's decision that put Robby Starbuck back on the Republican primary ballot. Robby is probably going to get kicked off the ballot again.

Robby Starbuck
by Rod Williams, June 8, 2022- Today the State Supreme Court granted to the State of Tennessee an appeal of a lower court's decision that put Robby Starbuck back on the Republican primary ballot. The appeal was filed yesterday and granted today. Starbuck was placed back on the primary ballot last week after a county court ruled that the Tennessee Republican Party violated the Open Meetings Act by holding a closed-door meeting to kick him off of the ballot.

Signatories on the petition include Tennessee Republican officials such as Attorney General Herb Slatery.

Now, I assume Bobby Starbuck will answer the appeal quickly and the Supreme Court will quickly reach a decision. I suspect the decision will again remove Starbucks from the ballot. 

Stay tuned for an update. 

While Robby Starbuck did not gain former President Trump's endorsement, Robby seems more Trumpinista than the candidate Trump did endorse. Starbuck has the support of Senator Rand Paul, was a speaker at CPAC, and has appeared on Fox News and other national talk shows. There is national interest in his campaign.

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06/07/22 Council Announcements and Meeting including Budget Public Hearing.

by Rod Williams- Budget hearings start at timestap1:05.  First, is the Capital Improvement Budget which is actually not a budget and appropriates no money but is a prioritized wish list with sources of funding identified. Nevertheless, it is an important piece of legislation. If the public or a Council member wants a project developed, it must first be in the Capital Improvements Budget. 

Following the CIB there is the hearing on the operating budget. The budget proposal for $2.97 billion is a no-tax-increase budget but is an increase of 12.1% in spending over the current year's budget. The budget reflects $319.6 million in new revenue. 

Surprise, surprise, a lot of people want Metro to spend more money. Having served in the Council and observed the Council for decades, I have observed that liberals are always active and speak out for more funding and support higher taxes while conservatives only attend the public hearings and call for austerity and cutting waste when there is a large tax increase on the table. 

No wonder local government grows bigger and bigger all of the time and at a rate of growth bigger than the population growth.  I wish there was a local equivalent of the Beacon Center, which operates at the State level, to monitor Metro government and advocate for common-sense reforms, privatization, improved efficiency, and lowering of taxes.  

All of the interest and firepower are on the liberal side of the equation. The advocates of more taxes and spending have a build-in constituency consisting of Metro employees and their families. This general constituency for bigger government then has its pressure groups such as the teachers union, the Firefighters Union, and the Fraternal Oder of Police. Then, each interest has its advocacy groups such as Friends of the Library or Friends or the Parks or a particular park, or parents groups. Also, often the Better Business Bureau and the League of Women Voters can be advocates of greater spending. Now, we have a bunch of progressive local organizations, many with ties to national organizations, pushing for more government. There is no advocacy group for cutting taxes, greater government efficiency, and cutting waste.

While conservatives often mouth platitudes quoting Thomas Jefferson, "The government closest to the people serves the people best," they don't act like they believe it. Liberals make things happen at the local level and ensure that we continue to waste local money and always ask for more;conservatives stay home.

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Social Security Benefit Cuts Coming by 2035 | Craig Eyermann

Social Security Benefit Cuts Coming by 2035 | Craig Eyermann: Good news! Instead of going broke in 2033, Social Security's Old Age and Survivors' Insurance (OASI) trust fund will run out of money in 2034. If the program's Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund is diverted to pay retirement benefits, it will last until 2035! That's the latest projection from Social Security's trustees, who released their 2022

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In Nashville the median price for a residential single-family home was $498,785 in May, up from $400,000 a year ago.


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Tennessee files petition to appeal a lower court's decision that put Robby Starbuck back on the GOP ballot

Robby Starbuck
By Madeleine Hubbard, Just the News, June 7, 2022 - The State of Tennessee filed a petition on Tuesday to appeal a lower court's decision that put Robby Starbuck back on the Republican primary ballot. Starbuck was placed back on the primary ballot last week after a county court ruled that the Tennessee Republican Party violated the Open Meetings Act by holding a closed-door meeting to kick him off of the ballot.

Signatories on the petition include Tennessee Republican officials such as Attorney General Herb Slatery. (link)

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Monday, June 06, 2022

Gov. Lee Issues Executive Order to Enhance School Safety

 State will evaluate school security and use of resources, encourage parents to engage

Office of the Governor Press release, June 06, 2022 , NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will sign an executive order directing accountability measures for school safety and an evaluation of training for Tennessee law enforcement. The order also establishes additional resources to support parents, teachers and law enforcement in improving school security practices.

“Parents need to have full confidence that their children are safe at school, and thankfully, Tennessee has built a firm foundation with our practical approach to securing schools, recognizing crisis and providing confidential reporting of any suspicious activity,” said Gov. Lee. “This order strengthens accountability and transparency around existing school safety planning and assures Tennessee parents that our efforts to protect students and teachers will continue.”

Governor Lee will sign Executive Order 97 to enhance school safety across Tennessee and promote engagement with parents, schools and law enforcement.

For Parents

Creates a School Safety Resources and Engagement Guide to provide parents with information regarding how to effectively engage and advocate for safe conditions at their child’s school, including how to report suspicious or concerning activity through the SafeTN App, access mental health resources for their child and inquire about building security and compliance at their child’s school.

Encourages parents, families and the local community to engage in school safety and partner with law enforcement to promote the habits and practices that help ensure school building security against unauthorized intruders. By implementing simple practices, such as ensuring a single point of entry and multiple points of exit, securing vestibules and other access points, and reporting suspicious activity, communities have the ability to vastly increase the security of their local school.

For Schools

Directs Tennessee state agencies to provide additional guidance to help local school districts (LEAs) implement existing school safety law, which requires that each public school conduct an annual school security assessment and submit a school safety plan to the Tennessee school safety center. This guidance will include:

  • An increase in periodic audits of Tennessee local school security assessments and school safety plans, including but not limited to random in-person verification by state officials of a school’s implementation of the approved assessment;
  • A set of best practices for school leaders to enhance building security and safety against an unauthorized intruder; and
  • Information for district and local government leadership regarding financial resources for school safety available through state programs and the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act (TISA).

Updates the state School Safety Plan Template for LEAs to be published no later than July 1, 2022 and include greater detail on:

  • A description of deficiencies identified by the LEA when conducting the school security assessment;
  • A description of district spending on building security and other school safety initiatives and how such expenditures mitigate the identified deficiencies; and
  • Designation of the district’s single point of contact for school safety matters.

Ensures LEAs receive guidance from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and other state agencies regarding how to appropriately improve school building security, while maintaining emergency egress and safeguarding of life and property from the hazards of fire and explosion.

Directs the Department of Education to request permission from the federal government for districts to use existing federal ESSER funds to conduct a fulsome, independent safety assessment, including the identification of necessary facility upgrades. The Department will report to the Governor on which districts utilize that flexibility, if approved.

Directs the Department of Education to identify regional staff to support school safety in LEAs through repurposing existing staff to focus on safety, mental health, and family and community engagement.

Develops additional training and educational materials regarding school safety for educators, school leaders and staff, no later than August 1, 2022.

For Law Enforcement

Directs the Department of Commerce & Insurance, through TLETA, to evaluate and assess law enforcement training standards and recommend expansions, improvements, or enhancements to existing training for active-shooter scenarios, and provide a report to the Governor, no later than July 1, 2022, with recommendations to expand its availability to local law enforcement agencies and related education stakeholders.

Directs the Department of Commerce & Insurance to review the use of armed security guards in non-public schools and, with the Department of Safety & Homeland Security, report to the Governor regarding the need for active-shooter training for armed guards.

Calls for new strategies to expand local and state law enforcement agencies by increasing the number of Tennesseans exploring and pursuing careers in law enforcement.

Previous actions to strengthen school safety:

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Sunday, June 05, 2022

National Geographic names Nashville a top place to visit in June

by Rod Williams, June 5 2022- I am a proud Nashvillian and feel pride when Nashville is recognized and honored. I must admit, however, that I wish so many people had not discovered Nashville. I liked it better maybe ten or fifteen years ago. Still, it is a great place to live. There are other places, I would like to visit, maybe visit for six months, but there is no other place I would rather call home.  I love this town. 

I love country music and the music scene. I don't do it as much now as in the past, but I have followed the music scene for decades and have been blown away by the discovery of new artists or cover bands that have mastered the classics while giving the songs their own interpretation. There is always a good concert and undiscovered talent playing small bars and writer's nights where you can hear the songwriters sing their songs before they are hits by someone else.  While lots of locals, express hatred of lower Broadway, I love it.  I like the crowds, the energy, the music, the neon, and the bridesmaid's parties and I don't mind the party buses and pedal taverns, nor the scooters.  I like seeing people have fun. I may be an old man, but I am still young at heart.

I love that we are the State capital and one is close to where the big decisions in our state are made. Despite being dominated by a liberal power structure and becoming increasingly woke, there is a vibrant conservative political scene with seminars, breakfast groups, First Tuesday, Bastiat Society, Jack Johnson's Barbeque, Mark Green's Fish Fry, Beacon Center events, various fundraisers, workshops, seminars, rallies, and demonstrations.  I thrive on politics and ideas. Here my desire for intellectual stimulation and my desire to be part of making a difference is met.  I am currently not doing much of that due to a health condition keeping me mostly at home, but I look forward to soon rejoining the world.  I would be bored in a town without the political environment of Nashville. 

I like the art scene and the art crawls and the galleries and museums. I like our beautiful parks and greenways and lakes. I like the big band dances in the park, I like the neighborhood celebrations, the Celebration of Cultures festival, the Centennial Park Craft Festival, the Southern Festival of Books and more.  I love food and Nashville has about any kind of food you would want and plenty of it, and award-winning chefs. I like the craft breweries and coffee shops. I like the colleges and universities where you can hear a concert, or watch a play, or just walk through a beautiful campus and feel smarter by osmosis. 

If one wants to complain there is plenty to complain about; much of the new residential architecture is ugly and replaces stately homes, the cost of housing, homelessness, high taxes, pandering to criminals, celebrations of deviance, crime, and poor schools. However, to keep some of that in perspective, among our poor schools are some excellent schools and one can live in the Nashville area yet live in an adjoining county where schools are generally much better.  Poor schools admittedly are a drawback for parents of school-age children. It kind of comes with the territory in a liberal city I think and I am not so sure that our schools are worse than other cities our size. 

The price of housing is not only a Nashville problem but a problem among all developed countries. Part of the problem is government-created, but when you live in a desirable city and lots of people with money want to live there, housing prices go up. Our homeless problem is not nearly as bad as some other cities our size.  I am concerned as we get more "woke," the problem will get worse, but so far we have done better than many places our size in dealing with the problem.

One could focus on these problems and high crime and high taxes, but I still think overall, Nashville is a great place to live. And, it is a great place to visit. Nashville came in at the top of the list in National Geographic's Where to travel in June: five of the best destinations.

Look what company we are in. Here's the list:

  1. Nashville, TN
  2. Pembrokeshire, Wales
  3. Malaysian, Borneo
  4. Sweden
  5. Cusco, Peru

That is some pretty fine company. Note that we are the only US city to make the cut. The article praises CMA Fest, Bonnaroo, and Musicians' Corner.  

I am proud of this recognition.  However, sometimes I wish we would get less recognition. I met a new neighbor yesterday. In making her acquaintance I asked what brought her to Nashville. She told me she had a job where she could work from home and live anywhere.  A couple years ago, she came to Nashville as a tourist and fell in love with the city. When thinking of where to settle down, she said she visited several other cities and didn't find any place she liked as much as Nashville.  

I have a fear, that as we get more visitors we will find more people who fall in love with the city and move here. I have a concern that at some point so many newcomers will be here, that the city will change and lose its character. I hope it does not become a generic big city without a soul. With growth may come even more taxes, more traffic congestion, higher housing prices, and more crime.  Also, many of the liberal woke moving here may make Nashville more like the place they fled.

Maybe all of this recognition is not a good thing. Still, I cannot help but feel pride. 

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