Saturday, December 10, 2022

Republicans Abandon Any Pretense of Fiscal Responsibility. Republicans sign up to "bring home the bacon."

by Rod Williams, Dec. 10, 2022- I still prefer Republican policy positions over those of Democrats, but it is not because Republicans have stood firm with principled positions. In fact, it is hard to know what Republicans actually believe any longer.  Republicans have moved away from a party committed to conservative principles and toward populist positions of simple anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism. They have become the party of those, "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."

Anger and resentment have replaced reason. To a large extent, the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson is hardly recognizable as the same party as that of Ronald Reagan and Williams F. Buckley, Jr.  The Republican Party only looks good compared to the Democrat Party which has moved further left and embraced Critical Race Theory,  "equity" over equality, and a gender ideology that pretends gender is fluid and nothing but a social construct. 

One area in which Republicans have blurred what it means to be a Republican is by the abandonment of fiscal responsibility. The following article from the Wall Street Journal examines this development. 

The GOP Spending Poseurs

House Republicans prove themselves unserious by refusing to ban earmarks.

By Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2022 - ... Leader Kevin McCarthy in September unveiled to great fanfare the party’s Commitment to America, which vowed that Republicans would “curb wasteful government spending” that feeds inflation and the national debt. Hundreds of Republican candidates stormed their districts, waving Commitment pocket cards and pronouncing on fiscal discipline and oversight.

Then came Wednesday’s first test of whether this was all hot air, and it turns out a fleet of dirigibles wouldn’t have held the gas. California Rep. Tom McClintock moved to repeal the recent party rule allowing earmarks. The caucus routed his motion, voting it down 158-52. Commitment to America? More like Commitment to Spoils.

The vote came despite a vigorous campaign by independent conservative groups. “Earmarks are one of the most corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful practices in the history of Congress,” read a letter signed by representatives of 15 groups, including Heritage Action, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform and Citizens Against Government Waste. The groups told lawmakers it was “your first opportunity to demonstrate to taxpayers that the election of a Republican majority in the House will be accompanied by a serious effort to restore and maintain fiscal responsibility.” So much for that.

The GOP swore off earmarks in 2011, when it stood for something other than investigations. But when a Democratic Congress in 2021 announced intentions to bring them back, GOP trough-feeders rushed to sign up. At least in March 2021, the vote was closer: 102-84. But that was before members got hooked on the earmark drug. Some 120 Republicans partook in the subsequent earmark free-for-all, snorting up nearly $5 billion for their states and districts. And the addicts aren’t interested in rehab. ... 

... 41 House Republicans on Thursday voted with all Democrats to give the Justice Department $50 million to hand out in grants to create re-entry programs for former prisoners. ... grant making has become the “third-biggest expenditure of the federal government, behind only Social Security and national defense”... $1 million for the St. Louis Symphony (Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt) or $650,000 for feral swine management (Arkansas Sen. John Boozman) or $4.2 million for a sheep experiment station (Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson). (read it all)

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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Report gives Tennessee high marks for economic freedom

By Steve Wilson, The Center Square,  Dec 7, 2022 -  A recently released report by a Canadian-based policy group says Tennessee is one of the freest states in the nation.

The report, "Economic Freedom of North America 2022," by the Fraser Institute ranked the Volunteer State as one of the freest, along with Florida, South Dakota and Texas. At the bottom of the list for the U.S. was New York, California, Delaware and Hawaii. 

The report ranked U.S. states, Canadian provinces and Mexican states by three criteria: Government spending, taxes and regulation.

Tennessee was ranked second for the lowest taxes (the Volunteer State has no state income tax, as it is in seven other states), third for labor market freedom (Tennessee is a right to work state), but only 13th for government spending. 

Tennessee's score in the annual Fraser report on government spending might worsen next year. 

The state's tax revenues have skyrocketed despite a moratorium on registration fees for automobiles and autocycles. In the last fiscal year, tax revenues were $4.6 billion over estimates.

With more revenue, state agencies are asking for spending increases, including $350 million for education and $202.5 million for more incentives to lure industry to the state. The state is also planning to spend $500 million in taxpayer funds to build a new $2.1 billion stadium for the NFL's Titans in Nashville. 

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TN GOP Senators Look To Expand Eligibility For Education Savings Accounts

By Jason Vaughn, The Tennessee Conservative, Dec. 8, 2022- Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10) has filed legislation to expand Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts to bring the same opportunities now afforded to families in Shelby and Davidson counties to many who have children in other struggling schools. ... Public Chapter 506 established the Tennessee Education Savings Account (ESA) program, which allows eligible students in Shelby and Davidson counties to use state and local Basic Education Program (BEP)  funds toward expenses, such as tutoring services, fees for early postsecondary opportunity courses and examinations, and tuition, fees, and textbooks at approved private schools. ...

The current rules of State Board of Education Chapter 0520-01-16 for Education Savings Accounts can be found HERE. (read more)

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You might be a Rino, if ...

 by Rod Williams, Dec. 8, 2022- ... you fail to claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen, if you doubt the Arizona and Georgia mid-term elections were stolen, if you are not holocaust-denier-friendly, are not White-supremacist-friendly. and do not support terminating the constitution.

For more on this topic see these posts: 

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Every GOP loss is due to "election fraud?"

WH Bernstein
by WH Bernstein, Reposted from Facebook, Dec. 8, 2022 - Getting sick of hearing that every GOP loss is due to "election fraud."  It's bullshit.  And as long as people push that story, the GOP will continue to lose.  Never mind it undermines this country more effectively than the Russians or Chinese could.

Let's look at Georgia: In the general election, Kemp got 2.1M votes. Walker got 1.9M votes.

If every Kemp voter had also voted for Walker, there wouldn't have been a runoff.  Walker would have won outright.  But they didn't.  I suspect some Kemp votes were Democrats unable to stomach the anti-gun Abrams.  And I also suspect that many Republicans simply could not hold their nose enough to vote for Walker, who was just a crappy candidate.

And the proof is that in the runoff, Walker got only 1.7M votes.  If he had merely gotten all the votes he did in the general he would have won.  But his subsequent campaigning didn't help him with voters.  And the fact that the Senate was already 50-50, with Democrats controlling it, didn't encourage people to turn out.

Rod's comment: Well said. I agree.

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Monday, December 05, 2022

There is no way to pick this up by the clean end. What Donald Trump said about suspending the constitution.

Some Trump supporters are claiming Trump's call for abrogating or suspending or "termination" of the constitution is taken out of context. The above is what he said. The highlighting is mine. There is no way to sugarcoat this. Trump is a wannabe dictator. 

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Some Trump Jewish Allies at Breaking Point After Kanye West, Nick Fuentes Meeting

By Aaron Zitner, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 2022 - “It is over, it is finished,” Mr. Hikind, whose 36-year run as a state lawmaker ended in 2018, said of his support for the former president. “Right now, he’s doing so much damage. He has disqualified himself from any of us supporting him ever again.”

Republicans have tried for decades to boost their generally tepid support among the nation’s Jewish voters, who gave President Biden nearly 70% their vote in 2020 despite Mr. Trump’s argument that they should reward his stalwart backing of the Israeli government. Now, some prominent Jewish leaders say that Mr. Trump has both damaged his nascent 2024 presidential campaign and hampered his party’s outreach as a result of his dinner with the rapper Kanye West and the white nationalist Nick Fuentes, as well as his refusal to apologize for hosting them at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Many Jewish leaders, including Mr. Hikind, say a spate of anti-Semitic violence and harassment around the country has created an elevated sense of threat from hateful speech—and that the image of any political leader will suffer for failing to sever ties with Mr. Trump. ...

... Mr. Trump won 30% of the Jewish vote, compared with President Biden’s 69% in 2020, the VoteCast survey found, and 33% of Jewish voters backed a Republican House candidate this year. Republican candidates drew higher support in some states, such as Florida, where GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis drew 45% of Jewish voters in his successful re-election campaign. In New York, Mr. Zeldin, who is Jewish, drew 46% of Jewish voters in his unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Some Jewish groups said that the Republican Party was the more welcoming party for Jewish voters, citing what they view as anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli positions on the political left. The challenge that Democrats face in navigating Israel policy was on display in 2019, when the party’s House leaders struggled to respond to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), whose comments about people who “push for allegiance to a foreign country” was viewed as an accusation that Jews who support Israel are disloyal to the U.S. The House passed a broad measure condemning hate in all forms, which Ms. Omar voted for and which critics said insufficiently called out anti-Semitism.

“The reality is, ‘I stand with Israel’ isn’t an applause line at the Democratic-base rallies, but it is at a Republican rally,” said Norm Coleman, the national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former Republican senator from Minnesota. (read it all)

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At-large Nashville Council member Sharon Hurt announces mayoral campaign

Sharon Hurt
by Cassandra Stephenson, The Tennessean, Dec. 5, 2022- 

  • Sharon Hurt has served as an at-large member of Nashville's council since 2015.
  • Hurt was president and CEO of Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (JUMP) for 23 years before retiring last fall.
  • Hurt joins District 19 Council member Freddie O'Connell and economic development veteran Matt Wiltshire in the candidate pool for the 2023 mayoral race.
  • Metro Council member Sharon Hurt is entering the 2023 race for Nashville's next mayor.
  • Hurt has served Nashville as an at-large council member since 2015 and announced her mayoral campaign Monday.

"It's about taking care of our people, and as I look at this city, we have a tale of two cities here and I want there to be more equity and inclusion brought into the fold so Nashville can have a balance and be the best that we can be," she said. "As the next mayor, I will work my heart out to restore hope and prosperity on every forgotten block of our city." ....

Hurt joins District 19 Council member Freddie O'Connell and Nashville economic development and affordable housing veteran Matt Wiltshire in the growing candidate pool. First-term Mayor John Cooper has yet to announce whether he plans to run for reelection, though campaign finance disclosures show he has continued to fundraise. Nonprofit leader Hal Cato contemplated a mayoral run for months but declined to launch a campaign this fall. ...

During her Metro Council tenure, Hurt has been an outspoken advocate for the inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses and supported the creation of an equal opportunity program for businesses seeking to contract with the council. ... She said she was proud to support the creation of the Community Oversight Board to oversee Metro's police department. ... She carried legislation asking Nashville Electric Service to round up electricity bills to the nearest dollar (unless customers opt out) to contribute to Home Uplift, a program providing weatherization for homeowners with limited income. That program went into effect in January. (read more)

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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Trump calls for suspending of the Constitution in order to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

by Rod Williams, Dec. 4, 2022- Trump has now said it. We know he tried to subvert the constitution in order to hang on to power, but now he has publicly called for suspending the constitution and returning him to office.'s 

Surely, this should be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is time for Republican leaders to unmistakeably say Donald Trump is unfit to hold office. It is past time for Republican leaders to issue mealy-mouthed statements that say they will support the Party's 2024 candidate whoever that might be. It is time to stop being a timid follower with a finger to the wind and be a leader. It is time to denounce Donald Trump in the strongest terms.

Hell will freeze over before I will ever vote for Donald Trump.  He is a disgrace and a traitor. 

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“Racism, antisemitism and denial of the Holocaust have no place in the Republican Party and are completely un-American.”

by Rod Williams, Dec. 3, 2022- A couple days before Thanksgiving, Donald Trump had a private dinner with Kanye West and alt-right leader Nick Fuentes. This has created a firestorm.

During Trump's presidency and campaign, Black rapper Kanye West had become an outspoken admirer of Donald Trump. Kanye West has recently seen his star fade, however. He has lost lucrative business deals and has become somewhat of an outcast for making antisemitic remarks and praising Hitler. He is no longer welcome in polite society. It appears to many that West may suffer from mental illness.  

I have never cared for Kanye West. Of course, I find rap music disgusting and harmful to society, and have a hard time admiring any rapper.  I know that is a generalization and there may be some wholesome rappers who are good people but in general, the music glorifies thuggery and objectifies women.  It is crude and offensive.

When I think of Kanye West I remember West interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2019 to say that her video didn't deserve an award. He said instead the award should have gone to Beyoncé.  My thought at the time was, "what a jerk."

Why Trump chose to have dinner with Kanye West, (who now goes by the name "Ye"), I don't know.  I do not see an upside to Trump meeting with him. Possibly, Trump's association with Ye will improve his standing in the Black Community, but maybe not.   I don't know if the Black community is standing by Ye or not. 

It may make Trump more popular with anti-Semites, but there are not that many of them.  They are not a significant voting block. Maybe Trump just likes the guy; maybe Trump likes anyone who is loyal to him and will sing his praises. Maybe Trump is not that calculating.  Maybe Trump was not going to ditch a friend when he was down and thought it would be a quiet non-public, non-eventful dinner.

If so, then why also have dinner with Nick Fuentes?  The way it is being reported is that Kanye simply showed up with Fuente and Trump did not know him.  That is hard to believe.  Trump has Secret Service protection.  Trump is a hated figure.  One would think that his dinner guest would be vetted. Hard as it is to believe that Trump was unaware and that Ye just showed up with Fuentes, it looks like that is what happened. NBC news is certainly no fan of Donald Trump and it reports that that is what happened.  To read the NBC report of the dinner, follow this link

The agenda of West and Fuentes appeared to be to criticize Trump for not doing more to support those arrested in the Jan. 6th insurrection and to implore Trump not to abandon his base. Trump fumed afterward that Ye had betrayed him by ambushing him. 

Ye may be a pathetic figure, not very well educated, and one who suffers from mental illness. Fuente is beyond a doubt the real-deal racist and antisemite, however.  This is an excerpt from a piece in National Review and what it had to say about Fuente:

Fuentes. He once called a writer a “race traitor” because he “work[s] for Jews.” He opposes interracial marriage and has praised segregation.

“Enough with the Jim Crow stuff. Who cares? Oh, they had to drink out of a different water fountain, big f***ing deal. Oh no, they had to go to a different school,” Fuentes said in one video. “It’s better for them, it’s better for us.”

“I’m getting really sick of world Jewry — that’s what it is! what it is! — running the show, and we can’t talk about it,” he said in another video.

In yet another video, he joyfully promoted grotesque claims denying that millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Smirking and laughing, he read a question from a viewer who was obviously comparing murdered Jews to cookies and Adolph Hitler to Cookie Monster: “If I take one hour to cook a batch of cookies, and Cookie Monster has fifteen hours working every day for five years, how long does it take Cookie Monster to make six million batches of cookies?”

“The math doesn’t seem to add up there,” Fuentes says. “Maybe two-hundred to three-hundred thousand cookies,” he adds before making several more references to bits of propaganda cited by Holocaust deniers. 

So, Trump had lunch with a White Nationalist and a holocaust denier. So what?  Does that mean Trump is a white nationalist or anti-semite?    I don't think so.  Trump's son-in-law is an orthodox Jew and Trump has long had close friendships with African Americans and Jews.  

Unfortunately, Trump has repeatedly put himself in a position to be identified as friendly to bigots and anti-Semites. He falsely accused Barack Obama of not being a natural-born citizen, and he categorized most Mexican migrants as rapists and drug runners, instead of denouncing the support of David Duke he claimed not to know who he was, and during the Tiki torch Unite the Right rally Trump said there were many good people on both sides. 

Back during the 50's when the modern conservative movement was formed, leaders such as William F. Buckley worked hard to purge anti-Semites, racists, and nutty conspiracy theorists from the movement.  Now, unfortunately, almost seventy years later those unsavory elements have again found a welcoming environment in the Republican Party.

Trump should, in unmistakable terms, denounce bigotry and anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, Trump is one to never back down or admit that he is wrong.  Call him a bigot for a mistake he has made and he won't back down but will double down.

Anti-Semitism and bigotry is not exclusive to the right, of course, Prominent Democrats will share a stage with and show respect to notorious anti-Semetic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is an established anti-Semetic figure in Congress, yet the Party shows no inclination to censor her or strip her of her committee assignments. So, while both parties tolerated anti-Semites, the Republican Party gets the White Nationalist.  Also, while both parties may tolerate anti-Semites and bigots, it is the leader of the Republican Party that sits down and has a meal with them. 

While I wish more Republicans and especially conservative commentators and media would take the Trump dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes as an opportunity to condemn bigotry and antisemitism, I am pleased with those who have spoken out. Below is an excerpt from National Review article, listing some of the Republican responses. 

Georgia Republican governor Brian Kemp, fresh off a resounding reelection victory, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Racism, antisemitism and denial of the Holocaust have no place in the Republican Party and are completely un-American.”

“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,” Louisiana GOP senator Bill Cassidy wrote on Twitter on Monday. “These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.”

Former vice president Mike Pence said in a NewsNation interview: “President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite, and a Holocaust denier, a seat at the table and I think he should apologize for it. And he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”

Florida’s senior GOP senator Marco Rubio told reporters in the Capitol on Monday that Fuentes is an “evil . . . a**clown” who was “legitimized” by Trump’s meeting.

“There’s no room in the Republican Party for white supremacists and antisemitism, so it’s wrong,” Florida’s junior GOP senator Rick Scott said. “I think Republicans should all condemn white supremacy and antisemitism.”

Utah GOP senator Mitt Romney said: “There’s no bottom to the degree which he’s willing to degrade himself and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting.”

Montana GOP senator Steve Daines said: “We cannot tolerate antisemitism. Period.”

Maine GOP senator Susan Collins said: “I condemn white supremacy and antisemitism. The president should never have had a meal or even a meeting with Nick Fuentes.”

On Sunday, Nebraska GOP congressman Don Bacon told reporters: “I am appalled.”

Arkansas GOP governor Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday: “This was not an accidental meeting. It was a set-up dinner with Kanye. . . . You have to disavow it. It is as simple as that.”

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said: “This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump.”

This is great as far as it goes.  However, many are going to be dismissive of Susan Collins, Chis Christie, and Mitt Romney as out-of-touch RINO never-Trumpers.  I want to hear from Ron Desantis, Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham, Nicki Haley, and Tim Scot denouncing this normalization of bigotry and antisemitism. I want to see Tucker Carlson condemn it and many more conservative pundits and new conservative media personalities condemn it.  And, I want to see my Facebook friends denounce it. 

I believe in a 'big tent" conservative movement, but not big enough for Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. Anti-Semitism, denial of the Holocaust, and White nationalism should have no place in the Republican Party.

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