Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Republican Party no longer believes America is the essential nation

 How the GOP went from isolationism to internationalism and back again

The Economist, Oct 28, 2023- Except for an admiration for Ronald Reagan and tax cuts, it is hard to see how the Republican Party of Donald Trump resembles the Republican Party of George W. Bush just two decades ago. In place of the “compassionate conservatism”, which aimed for a grand bargain to settle the status of illegal migrants, is a paranoid nativism. In place of a foreign policy that saw America as a protector of freedom and democracy is a new doctrine of America First that shuns allies (barring Israel) and would give up on the Ukrainians fighting off a Russian invasion, even when no American soldiers are at risk. The free-traders in the Bush administration entered into trade deals with 13 new countries and tariff rates remained close to zero; Mr Trump wants to put a 10% tariff on all imports.

.... much of the party is balking at the prospect of sending arms to Ukraine, which Reagan and both Bushes would surely have done. What happened? The obvious answer is: Mr Trump. But to make sense of this bewildering shift, it helps to look beyond a bit further back. ....

One of the reasons that the berserker caucus of the Republican Party defenestrated Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House, was their strong opposition to continued military aid to Ukraine. Mr Trump has pledged to end that war on his first day in office—presumably by promoting capitulation. In one recent vote on a bill that would fund training for Ukrainian military officers, a majority of Republicans in the House were opposed. ...

Although Reagan remains beatified within the party, the institutions he was aligned with have changed. The clearest example is the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think-tank that once functioned as the external brain for the Reagan White House. It is seeking to reprise the role for a possible Republican administration in 2025, preparing detailed policy manifestos and pre-screening personnel—but with a much more populist orientation. Heritage is still concerned about the size and cost of government spending generally and welfare programmes specifically. But the old free-trade agenda now has a large, China-shaped caveat. Once an exceptionally hawkish outfit, and among the most fulsome supporters for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Heritage is perhaps the most influential organisation in Washington that is rallying against additional American spending on Ukraine. 

... After the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the anti-communist rationale for conservative free-market economics disappeared. ... When Mr Trump launched his campaign for the White House in 2015 he was relying on a mix of old ideas—protectionism, isolationism and nativism—that seemed novel in the post-war Republican Party. (Read More)

Rod's Comment: This article explains why I feel more and more estranged from the modern Republican Party.  I have not changed, but the Republican Party has changed. I still believe American is the essential nation. In foreign policy, I am more aligned with Democrats than Republicans. I am not prepared to leave the party, however. I can never feel at home as a Democrat. I still believe deficits matter and cannot be part of a party that advocates gender affirmation care for minors, supports open borders, "equity" policies, and any number of other positions advocated by Democrats. I am still a Republican but feel like a person in a bad marriage. I hope that the Republican Party will come to its senses and again become the party of Reagan. 

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Friday, October 27, 2023

Committee will dig deep on costs of federal education funding in Tennessee

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Oct 27, 2023 – As members of a committee sit down to analyze the
impact of federal funding on Tennessee’s K-12 schools, they will be diving in depth into numbers that include more than just funding totals.

They will also be looking at the documentation requirements and costs that go with that funding and also the restrictions the state must follow to accept it.

The new Federal Education Funding Working Group will meet between Nov. 6-15.

A Tennessee Department of Education report created in February on House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s request breaks down all of the federal grants Tennessee schools received between 2019 and 2023 along with the requirements that followed the funding.

Funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act, for instance, including a requirement that states submit a plan describing how funds will be utilized and how certain requirements will be met.

The state is required to send specific reports on how funding from at least 23 separate grant programs is spent.

The funding comes in different forms and sizes and significantly fluctuates year to year, especially with additional COVID-related funding in recent years.

Tennessee received nearly $24 million in one-time grants in 2019, $151 million in 2020, then $548 million in 2021 and $3.9 billion in 2022. Including the $4.3 million already in 2023 at the time of the report, that amounted to $4.6 billion in one-time grants over the span.

Entitlement grants for items such as nutrition, head start, low income and state assessments were more consistent over the span with $1.1 billion in 2019, $979 million in 2020, $1.2 billion in 2021, $1.4 billion in 2022 and $1.1 billion in 2023.

In all, Tennessee has received $10.4 billion in federal education funding since 2019.

The distribution of federal funding also has a wide range across the state as districts received an average of $7.9 million in funding led by Shelby County schools receiving $192.5 million. Single-school Richland City Special School District in Marion County received the least at $311,000.

Tennessee Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson said it doesn’t hurt to examine the spending but it’s important to keep the funding source in proper context, Tennessee Lookout reported.

“But what everyone needs to understand is that federal tax dollars that come back to Tennessee are Tennessee taxpayer dollars, and so if you elect not to take those dollars, which we could do, you have to realize you’re sending that money somewhere else, and that’s Tennesseans’ tax dollars,” Watson told Lookout.

A spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Education told The Associated Press earlier this year that students need more funding, not less, to combat the youth mental health crisis.

“This political posturing will impede the basic education of young people throughout the entire K-12 school system and limit opportunities — particularly for students most in need — to access tutoring and academic support, afterschool and summer programs, school counselors, mental health professionals, and other assistance,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Poll: Tennessee voters support Trump, Blackburn

Poll show Tennessee voters prefer Marsha Blackburn
 and Donald Trump
By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Oct 26, 2023- Tennessee voters would support Robert F. Kennedy more than Joe Biden in a race where they would lose to Donald Trump for president in a new Beacon Center poll.

The nonprofit policy center that supports free market solutions to public policy polled 1,181 potential Tennessee voters with 59% supporting Trump and 29% supporting Biden in a head-to-head race. In a three-way race, Trump polled at 48% with Kennedy at 22% and Biden at 18%.

Biden, however, was favored 75% to 9% for Kennedy amongst voters who identified as Democrats.

Trump was favored with 64% to Ron DeSantis’ 16% in a potential Republican primary.

There was strong support from 50% of voters to install a maximum age of 75 for president with 24% somewhat supporting and 12% neither supporting nor opposing the proposal.

In a potential Senate matchup, Marsha Blackburn was favored with 43% support against both Marquita Bradshaw and Gloria Johnson but Bradshaw had 32% support while Johnson had 27% in potential head-to-head races against Blackburn.

Of those polled, 44% identified as Republican, 24% as Democrat and 13% as neither. Meanwhile, 67% said they would definitely vote, 13% would probably vote and 14% would maybe vote.

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Tennessee AG sues HHS over more than $7M in denied, diverted Title X funds

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Oct. 27, 2023– Tennessee is suing the federal government over its denial of Title X family planning funding to the state.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in September it would send Tennessee’s allotment of $3.9 million each to both the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and Converge Inc. in Mississippi to expanded services into Tennessee.

HHS denied Tennessee its Title X funding earlier this year after issuing a notice letter. It did the same with Oklahoma.

“Title X recipients must follow all federal regulatory requirements regarding nondirective options counseling and referrals, including providing referrals for abortion upon client request,” the letter from HHS’ Office of Population Affairs said.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti argues in this week’s complaint HHS was attempting to coerce states into pro-abortion policy with the funding denials.

“We are suing to stop the federal government from playing politics with the health of Tennessee women,” Skrmetti said. “… Our lawsuit is necessary to ensure that Tennessee can continue its 50-year track record of successfully providing these public health services to the neediest populations.”

The complaint says Tennessee voters have shown an interest in valuing life by restricting elective abortions and promoting women carrying to term.

Skmetti’s office cited a 2022 review of the Tennessee Department of Health from HHS that said it is “the only agency with the capacity, staff, and expertise to administer Title X funds with integrity and without a gap in services in the state.”

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Poll: Tennessee voters even on support of publicly funding sports stadiums

Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. is the home of the Tennessee Titans
 and is expected to be replaced by a $2.1 billion domed stadium.
By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Oct 26, 2023 - Tennessee voters were even on their opposition or support of publicly-funded stadiums in a new Beacon Center poll.

The nonprofit policy center that supports free market solutions to public policy polled 1,181 potential Tennessee voters and found that 35% support publicly funding stadium such as the Tennessee Titans and Minor League Baseball stadiums in Knoxville and Chattanooga. Another 34% oppose the funding with 22% saying they are neutral and 8% unsure.

East Tennessee voters showed more support for public stadium funding at 39% with those in Middle Tennessee at 35% support and West Tennessee at 30% support.

The Titans are scheduled to open a new $2.1 billion stadium in 2027 using $1.2 billion in public funding for construction and a $3.1 billion tax capture to pay of Nashville’s bonds and pay for future infrastructure and maintenance.

The state also approved tax capture deals for the Chattanooga Lookouts and Tennessee Smokies in Knoxville while Memphis is looking for more than $600 million in total to renovate stadiums while building a new soccer-specific stadium.

The poll also asked if voters approved of new name, image or likeness (NIL) college sports rules that allow athletes to get paid through sponsorships with 52% approving and 19% against the rules.

Of those showing interest in college football in the poll, 74% are Tennessee fans with 7% Alabama fans and 4% each fans of Georgia and Florida.

Voters with also asked which fanbases are the most annoying or obnoxious with Alabama leading with 30% and both Florida and Tennessee finishing with 18% of the vote. 

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Mayor Ken Moore wins in a landslide, beating Trumpinista Gabrielle Hanson

Mayor Ken Moore (right) wins reelection,
beating challenger Gabrielle Hanson (left) in a

by Rod Williams, Oct. 23, 2023- Gabrielle Hanson got swamped in her race to become mayor of Franklin.  Mayor Ken Moore won by a landslide getting 12,822 votes or 79% of the vote, compared to Hanson's 3,322 votes or 21%.  In anybody's book, that is a landslide. 

I am relieved. I thought the race would be close. I thought Hanson might win. It should not have been close and I should have not expected it to be.  However, Gabrielle Hanson's supporters were energetic and loud. They also thought God was on their side.  I wasn't buying the God connection; I'm not quite sure God is a Trump Republican. Her supporters were so sure of victory; however, I thought maybe they had reason to be. 

Actually, my source of information was limited, only hearing from a few people in person and a few more on social media.  However, the press treated it as a close race, and I never saw any polling. Given, that the Williamson County Republican Party has been taken over by the Trumpinistas, I thought maybe that portended a trend. Another reason I wrongly thought the race might be close, is that The Pamphleteer, a local source of news and analysist that I respect, had published a piece called The Battle of Franklin, in which they, in detail, laid out the path to victory for Gabreille Hanson. Wow, they got it wrong.  I will be less trusting of their analytical skills in the future. 

If Franklin would have elected Hanson, it would have indicated that there was no hope for what until Trump were considered mainstream Republicans. It would have indicated that the party was beyond hope of redemption.  If a person like Hanson could have won in Franklin, then the worst of the Trumpinistas could win in any place that was not solidly Democrat. The story of this race had already made national and international news.  A Hanson win would have told the world that Trumpism was not only a national phenomenon at the top but had sunk deep roots to where little Trumpinistas could win anywhere.  If the wealthy, educated, well-governed, decent, conservative, well-mannered people of Franklin had elected Hanson, the message would be that America had truly changed. 

The race between Mayor Ken Moore and Gabrielle Hanson could not have been a clearer choice facing Republicans.  Both Moore and Hanson were Republicans running in a non-partisan race. Moore had been a successful mayor serving since 2011. In 2018 the Tennessee Municiple League named him mayor of the year. He is an orthopedic surgeon and has served as president of the Tennessee Orthopedic Society. He is a member of the Franklin Rotary Club, Building Lives Foundation Board, TMA Group Board, Williamson County and Franklin Chamber of Commerce Board, and chairman of the Columbia State Foundation Board. He is a Sunday school teacher at the Franklin First United Methodist Church. He is a solid citizen and a good man. 

Hanson had numerous scandals surrounding her. She was once arrested for abetting prostitution. She made opposition to the city granting a permit for a gay Pride event a major part of her campaign, then it was revealed that a few years earlier in Chicago, her husband marched in a gay Pride parade wearing nothing but American flag Speedos. She posted a picture of her at an event which she claimed was her with her supporters.  The people with whom she was pictured were not her supporters and it was not a campaign event.  She associated with self-identified neo-Nazis and White nationalist and refused to denounce them. She floated bogus conspiracy theories about the Covenant School shooting. And there was more, but it appeared it did not seem to daunt her support. Hanson is a defender of White nationalist, a hypocrite, and a con artist. Thankfully, she lost. There is hope for the Republican Party, and America. 

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Nashville is ranked as the 71st cheapest of 152 cities, to purchase a home.

by Rod Williams, Oct. 23, 2023- An organization called Scholaroo recently conducted an analysis of 152 cities throughout the nation to unveil the cheapest places for purchasing a house, considering crucial elements such as median home price and property taxes. It is no surprise that Nashville is not among the cheepiest. Neither, however, is Nashville among the most expensive of the 152 cities analyzed. 

Nashville is ranked as the 71st cheapest of 152 cities to purchase a home. Knoxville is 51st, Memphis is 33rd, and Chattanooga is 59th. 

I have recently read articles that list Nashville, along with Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas, as popular cities to which those fleeing California flock. Houston is cheaper than Nashville, ranking number 66th cheepiest city to buy a home. Pheonix is more expensive ranking 74th, and Dallas even more expensive ranking 93rd cheapest. 

Key findings of the study:.
  • Of the top ten cheapest cities to buy a home this year, nine are in the South. The only exception is Fort Wayne, Indiana, which ranks 9th overall;
  • Alabama stands out for having three cities – Montgomery, Birmingham, and Mobile – as the cheapest places to buy a house in the whole country;
  • 8 out of the top 10 costliest cities to purchase a home are situated within California, and among them, San Francisco stands as the second-most expensive in the nation;
  • Yonkers and New York City, despite their high real estate costs, are expected to experience minimal growth in the upcoming years, with projected increases of only 0.2% and 0.43% respectively.
To see the full report follow this link

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