Saturday, April 22, 2023

So far this year, 349 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville,

Metro Press Release, April 19, 2023- The MNPD strongly encourages Nashvillians to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables---especially guns, and remove the keys.

So far this year, 349 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville, 19 were taken from autos just last week. The total number of guns stolen this year in Davidson County is 452, which means that 77% of guns stolen so far in 2023 have been taken from automobiles.

Going hand in hand with vehicle burglaries is vehicle theft. A review of last week’s stolen vehicle reports in Nashville shows that 42% of the automobiles taken (28 of 67) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves.

Just like guns taken from vehicles, these stolen autos are also routinely involved in criminal activities, including carjackings and robberies.

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From Tennessee Big City Mayors to Gov. Lee: Recommended Policy Actions to Reduce Gun Violence in Tennessee

April 19, 2023

To: Governor Bill Lee, Speaker Cameron Sexton, Lt. Governor Randy McNally

From: John Cooper, Mayor, Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County; Lee Harris, Mayor, Shelby County; Tim Kelly, Mayor, City of Chattanooga; Indya Kincannon, Mayor, City of Knoxville.

Subject: Recommended Policy Actions to Reduce Gun Violence in Tennessee

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Tennessee has the 12th highest rate of gun deaths in the country over the past four years. Tennessee ranks 9th in total deaths by firearms. Nearly 1,300 Tennesseans die each year from guns, and it is the leading cause of death among children and teenagers.

Nationwide data shows a clear correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and the rate of gun violence. For example, the six states with the strongest gun laws each rank among the eight safest states for the rate of gun violence.

Tennessee can save lives by implementing gun laws that have proven to be successful in other states. While evidence suggests that banning assault weapons should be a primary policy consideration, this memo outlines ten common sense policy recommendations we believe should earn bipartisan support to enact this legislative session.

We are encouraged by Governor Lee’s recent support for extreme risk laws after the tragic murders a few weeks ago at The Covenant School. Now is the moment to turn statements of support and sympathy into action. We can incorporate these policies into legislation immediately. Working together, we can keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them, and out of circumstances that are likely to result in more dead Tennesseans.

1. Require background checks for all gun purchases.

Tennessee should require point-of-sale background checks for all gun purchases, including rifles and shotguns.

This requirement would help close a loophole that currently allows felons and other people who are prohibited from possessing firearms to bypass a background check by buying a gun from an unlicensed seller.

A mandatory background check would screen to make sure the buyer is not legally prohibited from owning firearms due to criminal history.

20 states currently require background checks. Those state laws are associated with lower rates of homicide and suicide by firearm.

A recent poll showed that 88% of Tennesseans support background checks for gun sales.

2. Implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

Known as a “red flag” law, an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) empowers law enforcement and family members to intervene and temporarily prevent those at extreme risk of harming themselves or others from possessing guns.

Law enforcement and immediate family members could petition a civil court for an ERPO to temporarily remove guns the possession of those at serious risk of harming themselves or others. If a judge finds that there is sufficient evidence, that person is temporarily prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns. The guns they already own will also be held by law enforcement for the duration of the ERPO.

Once the immediate threat of harm to an individual or others is removed, individuals can petition to have the ERPO removed to ensure proper due process.

Tennessee should allow law enforcement to petition a civil court for an ERPO. Petitioners could also include immediate family members and medical professionals. 20 states have already implemented ERPOs.

A recent poll showed that 71% of Tennesseans support adopting red flag laws.

3. Enhanced safety of the concealed carry law.

Recognizing that Tennessee legislators support concealed carry without a permit, action can still be taken to protect Tennesseans without undoing our state’s overall policy on concealed carry. Tennessee should prohibit individuals who have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor offense from carrying a concealed firearm.

This policy change would follow states like Florida, which eliminated its permit requirement this session while still prohibiting people convicted of violent misdemeanors from carrying in public, but would stop short of banning gun purchases for violent misdemeanants (a law that 15 states including Alabama have in place).

The right to carry a concealed firearm should not be extended to members of society who have proven themselves to be violent. Tennessee should become the 24th state to bar concealed carry by people with violent misdemeanor convictions.

4. Establish a statewide minimum age for purchasing firearms.

Under Federal law, a gun buyer purchasing from a licensed firearm dealer must be 21 years old to buy a handgun and 18 to buy a long gun. Federal law prohibits someone under 18 from possessing a handgun, but there is no minimum purchase age for long guns bought from an unlicensed seller.

22 states have adopted higher minimum age laws for purchasing firearms. Florida is one of seven states that set the minimum age at 21 for all firearms purchases.

Tennessee should establish a minimum age of 21 to purchase handguns or any centerfire semiautomatic long gun. All other rifles (including .22 rimfire rifles) and shotguns could be purchased at 18 years of age. This policy will make sure that the firearms most likely to be used in violent crimes and mass shootings are less easily attainable for young people.

5. Require and enable secure storage of guns.

Secure storage laws reduce gun violence and firearm accidents. 25 states currently have laws to prevent children from gaining unauthorized access to firearms.

Tennessee should adopt a secure storage law that penalizes gun owners if a child (under 18 years old) or person prohibited from possessing firearms gains access to a firearm.

A recent poll showed that 82% of Tennesseans support adopting a safe storage laws.

The State of Tennessee should also provide funding to any city or county government interested in operating a distribution program for mailing gun locks to residents who request a lock. For example, Shelby County has given out 600 gun locks so far in 2023 at a total cost of less than $10,000.

6. Limit gun thefts from cars.

Gun thefts from cars are a common problem in Tennessee and contribute to further crime. Tennessee should take action to limit thefts of guns from cars by requiring cars containing a gun to be locked and for the gun to be stored inside a locked compartment within the vehicle.

7. Ban high-capacity magazines.

Limiting magazines to fewer rounds of ammunition requires a shooter to reload more often, thereby making it more difficult to inflict mass casualties. For reference, the shooter in the Covenant School shooting fired 152 rounds using high-capacity magazines. In the 2019 Dayton, Ohio shooting, the shooter used a drum magazine holding 100 rounds.

High-capacity magazines are typically defined as greater than 10 rounds. 14 states have laws banning high-capacity magazines. States with a ban on high-capacity magazines experience mass shootings at less than half the rate of states without restrictions.

8. Protect women by prohibiting convicted stalkers from owning guns.

Stalking is linked to the murder of women. 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder. 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers. (Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center)

People convicted of misdemeanor stalking in Tennessee can currently still own a gun. Tennessee should pass a law that prevents convicted stalkers from possessing a firearm. 20 states have laws that ban convicted stalkers from owning guns.

9. Provide funding for school threat assessment teams to keep schools safe.

School threat assessment teams are trained to identify warning signs and intervene before students commit acts of violence. Such programs are unanimously recommended by school safety experts. In 77% of school shootings, at least one person, most often the shooter’s classmate, had prior knowledge of the shooter’s plan.

Nine states require school threat assessment programs including Kentucky, Florida, and Texas. Numerous other school districts, such as Metro Nashville Public Schools, have implemented threat assessment programs even if not required by state law.

Tennessee already has a law that enables Local Educational Agencies (LEA) to adopt policies to establish threat assessment teams (Section 49-6-2701). The State of Tennessee should now provide funding for school districts who want to form school threat assessment teams to keep their students safe. Additional funding for SROs is helpful to this effort, but it is important to note that school threat assessment teams’ scope goes beyond law enforcement.

10. Require reporting of lost and stolen guns.

15 states require gun owners to promptly report to law enforcement if a gun is lost or stolen. These reporting requirements allow law enforcement to investigate and track down gun trafficking operations. Laws requiring reporting of lost and stolen guns can reduce illegal gun movement by 46%, according to one study.

Tennessee should require gun owners to report a stolen or missing gun within 72 hours of the incident. Such a law would not restrict gun rights, but evidence suggests it would reduce illegal gun sales by preventing people from claiming a gun was stolen or missing only after it was used in a crime.

Rod's Comment: I support many of these recommendations, especially those related to safe storage of guns and limiting theft from cars and required reporting of lost or stolen guns. I can support a red flag law if it contains due process protections. All of these proposals seem to be moderate common-sense proposals. All of these recommendations are worthy of consideration, study, and debate.  

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Tennessee Legislature approves ESA expansion after Knox County removed

By Jon Styf , The Center Square, April 21, 2023- Tennessee’s educational savings account pilot expansion will now include just Hamilton County after a discrepancy between the state’s House and Senate led to the removal of Knox County from the program.

The Senate did not concur on the House version of the bill and then, on Friday, the House voted to remove Knox County from its version of the bill before the Senate version passed 57-27. The bill now expands the program to just Hamilton County.

Senate Bill 12 will now head to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee.

“This is a disappointing and unacceptable outcome,” said Tori Venable, Tennessee State Director for the Americans for Prosperity. “Once again at the last minute, Knoxville parents and students are left out in the cold while educational freedom is expanded in other parts of the state. Americans for Prosperity – Knoxville parents – won’t forget who is responsible for this vote.”

Knoxville was considered as part of the original 2019 voucher program but later removed. The pilot ESA/voucher program originally passed in 2019 but was blocked in the court system until late last summer.

The Senate passed the bill in March while the House version was later amended to include Knox County.

“It’s disappointing to say the least,” said AFP East Tennessee Grassroots Director Mike Sweeney. “Lawmakers need to think of all the parents they let down by eliminating Knox County at the 11th hour once again.”

Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, said 500 students in Davidson and Shelby counties have enrolled in the first year of the pilot program while 1,500 other families have applied.

Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, objected to the Hamilton County expansion and told White he believed the county was only included because Senate sponsor Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, had requested it.

The two versions do not change the number of students who can be admitted to the statewide program each year, which started with 5,000 this year then is 7,500 in the second year before growing to 10,000, then 12,500 and 15,000 students in the fifth year.

Families must have an annual household income that does not exceed twice the federal income eligibility guidelines for free lunch to be eligible. They also must attend a school district with at least three schools identified as a priority school in 2015 and 2018 and must have been among the bottom 10% of schools as identified by the Department of Education in 2017.

The first ESAs were estimated to be worth $7,572 in the first year and then grown to be $8,684.

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What is the ESA program and who is eligible

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VIDEO: Gov. Lee Calls on General Assembly to Pass ‘Order of Protection’ Bill to Strengthen Safety, Preserve Constitutional Rights

Wednesday, April 19, 2023  

Full transcript: 

 Tennesseans, I want to share an update with you. 

The past few weeks have been some of our most difficult as a state. We’ve been working really hard on solutions and have reached a pivotal moment, and I want to speak to that today. 

There have been times in American history when great tragedy caused those who are elected to serve to come together and respond with thoughtful action…action to improve laws, preserve rights and protect communities. We hear stories of pragmatic leaders who collectively stepped outside of their party lines to do what they thought was the right thing, changing the course of history for the better. But what the history books don’t always capture is the difficulty of those moments when leaders are standing at a crossroads, choosing between the easy path and the right path. I believe we find ourselves at that moment today. 

We are standing at a crossroads. Tennesseans are asking us to set aside politics and personal pride. They are depending on us to do the right thing. 

Since the tragedy at Covenant, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to pass our school safety legislation by wide bipartisan margins. I signed an Executive Order to make sure that law enforcement, the judicial system, and mental health professionals are sharing information effectively, so the background check process works like it should. I also called on legislators to come together and find a solution for the most difficult challenge of all.

We all agree that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons. And that should be done in a way that requires due process and a high burden of proof, supports law enforcement and punishes false reporting, enhances mental health support, and preserves the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens. 

Tennesseans agree with this. Legislators agree with this. Second Amendment advocates agree with this. And so, throughout the last couple of weeks, I have worked with members of the General Assembly – constitutionally minded, second amendment protecting members – to craft legislation for an improved Order of Protection Law that will strengthen the safety and preserve the rights of Tennesseans. 

To be specific, I’m proposing that we improve our state’s law so that it protects more Tennesseans and reaches more individuals who are struggling and in need of mental health support. 

There is broad agreement that this is the right approach. It should be that simple…but sadly, it’s not. Political groups began drawing their battle lines before the bill was even completed. These are the moments for which the people of Tennessee elected us to listen and to act. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible when we’re talking about the safety of our children, our teachers and innocent lives. The only thing standing in our way is politics – on both sides of the aisle. 

National politicians and pundits – even the White House – are calling our proposal something that it’s not. “Red flag” is nothing but a toxic political label meant to draw lines in the sand so nothing gets done. This is about Tennessee and the unique needs of our people. It should be reviewed on its own merits – not lumped in with laws from other states, many of which, I believe, don’t strike the right balance of preserving rights and protecting society. And some advocates of the Second Amendment say something called “involuntary commitment” is the answer, but that would restrict all kinds of constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment. It’s not the best way. Efforts like the ones I just mentioned don’t deliver the right results. They don’t actually preserve the constitutional rights of Tennesseans in the best way possible, and they don’t actually get to the heart of the problem of preventing tragedies. 

This is hard. I’ve said that all along. But in Tennessee right now, if a husband threatens to hurt his wife, an Order of Protection would temporarily restrict his access to weapons to protect the spouse. If that same man threatens to shoot himself or a church or a mall, our proposal will provide that same level of protection to the broader public. We have a proven solution that gets to the heart of the problem – an improved Order of Protection law to save lives and preserve the Second Amendment. 

This is a pivotal moment. But both sides are at risk of standing in the way of a thoughtful, practical solution.  Why? Politics. Division. But we cannot give up. We cannot shy away from the hard decisions. And so, once again, I’m asking the General Assembly to take a vote on this improved Order of Protection proposal before they end the legislative session. 

We owe Tennesseans a vote. The tragedy at Covenant didn’t create the problem. Rather, it has shown – more clearly than ever before – that we can do more to protect students, teachers, communities and Constitutional rights. This moment doesn’t have to be defined by tragedy alone. It can also be defined by hope – and results. We’ve done this before – the Governor’s office working together with the legislature to rise above politics and lead through division…to search our hearts and do that which I believe Tennesseans have elected us to do. Tennesseans are depending on us. I believe we live in the greatest state in the country, and this is our chance to show it once again.

Rod's Comment: 
The legislature adjourned at the close the day on Friday without acting on this bill. The legislature had no choice but to adjourn. The Constitution provides that the legislature can meet 90 legislative days in regular session over a two-year assembly period. The clock ran out. Getting presented the bill on Wednesday, it would have been very rushed to act on the bill by Friday.  The bill needs committee hearings and expert testimony and calm deliberation. I do not fault the legislature for failure to act. The governor has called a special session to consider the bill.

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Gov. Lee to Call Special Session on Public Safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  April 21, 2023– Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that he will call for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene a special session to pass legislation that will strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights. Gov. Lee will release additional details and issue an official call in the coming days. 

“After much input from members of the General Assembly and discussions with legislative leadership, we have decided to call a special session to continue our work to protect Tennessee communities and preserve constitutional rights,” said Gov. Lee. “There is broad agreement that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons. We also share a strong commitment to preserving Second Amendment rights, ensuring due process and addressing the heart of the problem with strengthened mental health resources. I look forward to continued partnership with the General Assembly as we pursue thoughtful, practical solutions to keep Tennesseans safe.”

Rod's Comment: I think some sort of red flag law is desirable, and I support Governor Lee's effort. However, even the best red flag law is useless unless someone uses it.  I wonder how often a parent or spouse would actually use the law to cause the disarming of a loved one. I want to see data from states that do have such laws.  

Also, there must be safeguards in place to prevent an ex-wife or someone from using the law as a weapon to harass someone.  People can be vindictive, and I can see the law being misused. 

I hope the legislature does not take a knee-jerk dead-on-arrival approach, but neither should they rubberstamp such a proposal. 

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Friday, April 21, 2023

Tennessee's Attorney General Jonathan Skimetti is guest speaker at May 2 First Tuesday

Jonathan Skrmetti

May 02, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Brentwood, 330 Franklin Rd Suite 226B, Brentwood, TN 37027

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Thursday, April 20, 2023

Nashville Conservatives Breakfast Club, Saturday, April 22, featuring United Women Foundation founder Gloria Giorno

Gloria Giorno
 The next Nashville Conservatives Breakfast Club meeting will take place this Saturday morning, April 22, at the Hermitage location of Golden Corral (315 Old Lebanon Dirt Road). Come enjoy the breakfast buffet at 8am and the meeting, featuring United Women Foundation founder Gloria Giorno. Dia and Rae are also lining up mayoral candidates to visit this summer's meetings. You won't want to miss them!

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President Biden to meet with "Tennessee Three" on Monday, White House announces

by Rod Williams, April 20, 2023- The Republicans shot themselves in the foot by the ouster of Democratic Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson and Democrats and pro-Democrat news media are not letting the story die. The story has been reported all over America in local newspapers, they have been featured on the most important news shows in America like Meet the Press, This Week, and Face the Nation.  The story has been reported by the press in many foreign countries. Kamela Harris came to Nashville to meet with them and now the two Justins and Democratic Representatives Gloria Johnson, who avoided expulsion by one vote, are going to Washington for a White House meeting with President Joe Biden. 

In a CBS news story published yesterday, this was reported:

"I'm pleased to share that the president looks forward to welcoming Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson to the White House this coming Monday," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at Wednesday's White House press briefing. Jean-Pierre said that the president had already spoken with the three lawmakers following their expulsion votes earlier this month.

"The president thanked them for their leadership in seeking to ban assault weapons and standing up for democratic values, and the three lawmakers thanked the president for his leadership on gun safety and for spotlighting the undemocratic and unprecedented attacks on them in a Tennessee state House," she said.

There is no doubt this has been a big win for Democrats. The two who were expelled where quickly sent back to the House to fill the vacancy created by their ouster, special election will cost a lot of money and the Justins are certain to win those election. The two who were expelled did not even miss a single vote.  Republican made international heroes out of three unknown representatives. The announcement that the President will meet with them was reported in all the major media.  Then when they do meet with the President that will be another major story. I expect that in 2024 at the Democrat Convention, one or maybe both of them will have speaking rolls. This is such a big win for Democrats. Republicans played into their hands. It was unnecessary.

Also see How Republicans handed Democrats a major win with expulsion of Jones and Pearson and Ouster of Tennessee Dems catapults lawmakers to national fame and left-wing heroes.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

What does Fox News' $787 million settlement of Dominion’s defamation case mean for the future of conservative-leaning news programing.

by Rod Williams, April 19, 2023- There was a time when I liked Fox News. I found it to be a breath of fresh air.  My perception was that most major media had a liberal bias, and reported only the 'news that fits' a liberal agenda. With Fox News I felt like I was getting the full story. I also felt like I was getting fair and balanced reporting from someone who shared my values. Even most good liberal reporters who tried to be balanced could not hide their contempt for the conservative point of view. 

At that time, Fox had some top-notch reporters and insightful commentators. Most of them are gone. Two of the most erudite and insightful commentators on Fox News were George Will and Charles Krauthammer. These men were brilliant and were in the tradition of William F. Buckly.  They did not belittle someone who held a different point of view.  They educated and persuaded.  

Fox also had Jonah Goldberg. Jonah Goldberg was serious and insightful and principled but also peppered his commentary with a little humor. I would have watched Goldberg if he was simply reading recipes. He made the complex or the boring interesting. Goldberg says his breaking point with Fox came when Tucker Carlson did a three-part series on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which relied on fabrications and conspiracy theories to exonerate the Trump supporters who engaged in the attack. The series not only lied about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack but created a narrative that all of the forces of government were aligned for persecution of conservatives. (link)

Chris Wallace left Fox News, he said, after people at the news organization began to question matters of truth, like the Jan. 6 riot and whether the 2020 election was stolen. “I just no longer felt comfortable with the programming at Fox," (link)

Shep Smith left and said Fox became untenable as opinion shows on the network spread falsehoods that hosts knew were lies. “Opine all you like, but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there,” Smith said. “When people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing: Those of us who are so honored and grateful to have a platform of public influence have to use it for the public good.” (link)

Other good people who are no longer at Fox are Stephen Hayes, Bret Hume, Megyn Kelly, and a whole bunch of others.  What is left are mostly conspiracy theorist, and bombastic loud mouths whose sole purpose it seems is to keep people outraged. They routinely lie and exaggerate and create false impressions of what is really going on in the country. There is very little insightful appeal to rationality and little quality straight-up news reporting. The most-watched journalist in America and the star of Fox News is Tucker Carlson.  That says it all. 

The Dominion lawsuit revealed what goes on behind the curtain at Fox. Rupert Murdoch says Fox 'stars' 'endorsed' lies about 2020 and he chose not to stop them. (link)

How anyone can still trust Fox News is beyond my comprehension.  Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion in a settlement. You do not do that if you are able to present evidence that proves allegations against you are not true. It is actually quite hard to win a defamation case against a news organization. The First Amendment goes a long way to protect the press, even if they spread a lie. Simply getting the facts wrong does not qualify. Giving free rein to someone else to lie in a news story does not qualify. To win a defamation lawsuit against a news organization, one must prove the news organization acted with reckless disregard for the truth. This is the “actual malice” standard established in a 1964 Supreme Court case. 

One thing that came out of the lawsuit is that the host of Fox News shows do not even believe the things they are saying. They are cynical showmen. While they were reporting that the election was stolen, this is what they were really saying to each other:

Tucker Carlson said Powell was "lying" and called her a "fucking bitch." Laura Ingraham said in a group text with Carlson and Hannity that Powell was "a bit nuts." Hannity said he "did not believe it for one second" when he heard Powell's claims. (link)

So, where does this leave Fox News?  I don't know how deep the pockets are of Fox News, but there is another similar lawsuit pending from Smartmatic asking for $2.7 billion.   Smartmatic, another voting technology company, alleges Fox broadcast lies that “decimated” its business. Smartmatic alleges that Fox News knowingly made “over 100 false statements and implications” about the company. (link) I don't know how many hits like this Fox can take but it has to hurt. What would really hurt Fox News is if people stop watching.  I don't know that that will happen.  Maybe some will awake to the fact that Fox is not really news but propaganda and showmen selling snake oil, however much of the viewership of Fox News seems either totally bamboozled or simply does not care about the truth. 

What I would like to see happen, is that Fox change leadership at the organization, apologize for knowingly lying and deceiving people, fire Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and a few others, and bring back some departed talent like Chris Wallace and George Will and introduce some new talent that is responsible and principled. 

Is this likely to happen? No. Fox would not fire the most watched political commentator in America.  He would immediately be hired by a company like Newsmax or One America News and that organization would pick up Fox viewers. 

If Fox continues its current path but just careful enough to avoid more major lawsuits, then probably Fox will continue not much changed.  I expect, however, the truth does matter to some Fox viewers and Fox may lose its position as the most watched news channel in America. 

One thing that could come out of this is that one of the other major news organizations becomes more balanced and hires more talent that leans conservative. When George Will left Fox he was picked up by NBC.  Some other former Fox talent have found homes elsewhere.  Some News organization, maybe CNN, will realize that it may be advantageous to move toward the center and pick up the viewers who left Fox News. Alternatively, there may emerge a new conservative leaning news organization that resembles what Fox used to look like. I don't know how much, but I expect some good to come out of this.

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Nashville council to remain at 40 members for August election; State won't appeal injunction

Nashville council to remain at 40 members for August election; State won't appeal injunction

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“What Would A Free and Flourishing Society Look Like?" May 2nd,

AIER's Bastiat Society of Nashville invites you to join us on Tuesday, May 2nd at 6:00 pm for an event with William Ruger, President of the American Institute for Economic Research.

Freedom has been a touchstone word in America since well before our Revolutionary War. But what is freedom and what is the proper role of government in a free society? How is freedom connected to a flourishing world and are certain values and institutions required to sustain a free society? Is freedom part of the solution to what seems like a certain decay we see around us in our communities - and in America more broadly - or is freedom part of the problem? Dr. William Ruger, the President of the American Institute for Economic Research, will address these critical questions and others that reveal the foundations of a free and prosperous society.

This event is open to the public. Registration Required.

Let us know if you're coming. Register here

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Sunday, April 16, 2023

How Republicans handed Democrats a major win with expulsion of Jones and Pearson.

by Rod Williams, April 16, 2023 - I opposed expelling what have become known as the "Tennessee Three." Not because I did not think that their actions in leading a protest from the well of the chamber was not despicable; I firmly believe we must have decorum in legislative bodies in order to have a working Democracy. I opposed expulsion because I did not want to elevate the status of the three law makers. On April 4th, I wrote the following:

There should be an expected level of decorum. However, ousting is a drastic step and less severe measures should be taken first. The Speaker should call attention to the behavior of Jones and his colleagues from the podium and admonish them and warn that a repeat of such behavior will result in more drastic action.  

I know Jones is an activist and does not respect decorum. I was once at a Marsha Blackburn event where he disrupted the meeting during the prayer and had to be physically removed from the room. Then there was the time when a House Representative was engaged in dialog with protestors and Justin Jones threw a cup on hot coffee on the Representative.  I understand that the leopard is unlikely to change his spots with a mere warring and admonition from the speaker. 

Still, I would support something less drastic than ouster. To oust him will make him a martyr and a hero to the left. He may become an in-demand radical like Al Sharpton and get his own show on MSNTV and a teaching job at TSU.  I would support a resolution censuring the three and stripping Jones of his committee assignments. 

It has happened. They have become national figures. They got encouragement and praise from the President, the Vice President came to Nashville for a photo-op, they have been featured in numerous TV news shows, and their story has become world-wide news.  They are now back in the same seat from which they were ousted without missing a single vote. Republicans shot themselves in the foot.

Writing in The Tennessean, Vivian Jones says "experts" call the ouster, "a political misstep that has energized state and national Democrats and propelled the expelled lawmakers onto the national stage, while affording no clear victory for Republicans."  I think it is difficult to not agree. 

She writes that Oscar Brock, a Republican National Committee member from Chattanooga, said "the expulsion votes and ensuing national rancor was a political miscalculation that could have long-term ripple effects."  Quoting Brock, Jones writes:

"They did overstep, they clearly overstepped: I don't think anyone is arguing they didn't,” Brock said of the lawmakers who violated House rules.

But Brock said Republican lawmakers may have overreacted.

“What I suspect they failed to take into account was that by treating them as harshly as they chose to, they would lift these three to national prominence in very short order and enable them to bring voice to an issue that many people are passionate about on both sides,” Brock said.

She writes that the expulsion has energized the Democrats and helped frame the debate about gun control. 

Also, Republicans lost the public opinion poll on the expulsion. Jones writes, "51% of Americans consider the move to expel Jones and Pearson an “anti-democratic abuse of power,” while 42% viewed expulsion as “an appropriate way” to discipline lawmakers."

In Jones's piece, there is more evidence and informed opinion saying that Republicans came out the loser on this episode.  Also, it will cost about $600,000 for special elections which Jones and Pearson are sure to win. Face it; the ouster achieved nothing, it made heroes of these radicals, it energized gun control activist, it made Tennessee look bad, and it wasted money.

Republicans acted emotionally rather than rationally and handed Democrats a win. Republicans shot themselves in the foot. Maybe Republicans in the House needs some anger management training. 

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