Saturday, December 09, 2023

Trump Vows to Destroy America's Institutions of Higher Learning and replace them with the "American Academy."

by Rod Williams, Dec. 9, 2023- It did not get a lot of attention, but Donald Trump announced that in his second term he will in effect nationalize American higher education. He says he will tax, fine, and sue large private universities and wipe out their endowments. With the money collected, he will endow a new institution to be called the American Academy. 

This new institution will "make a truly world-class education available to every American, free of charge." And he says he will do this "without adding a single dime to the federal debt."  Here is more of what he says about this new institution:

This institution will gather an entire universe of the highest quality educational content, covering the full spectrum of human knowledge and skills, and make that material available to every American citizen online for free.

Whether you want lectures or an ancient history or an introduction to financial accounting, or training in a skilled trade, the goal will be to deliver it and get it done properly, using study groups, mentors, industry partnerships, and the latest breakthrough in computing. This will be a truly top-tier education option for the people.

It will be strictly non-political, and there will be no wokeness or jihadism allowed—none of that's going to be allowed.

He provides a little more information about this new institution, but not much. He does not say how it would be governed. You can read more about it on Trump's website

This is really big!  This is revolutionary.  Can you imagine how we on the right would react if this had been a Democrat proposing this?  The right's collective head would explode. 

This proposal would destroy America's greatest institutions of higher learning and replace them with a government one-size-fits-all system of higher education. Part of the justification for doing this is the leftward tilt of higher education in America. He says, "Americans have been horrified to see students and faculty at Harvard and other once-respected universities expressing support for the savages and jihadists who attacked Israel." I agree. That has been disgusting. It does not justify this radical proposal. 

Trump says, "We spend more money on higher education than any other country, and yet they're turning our students into Communists and terrorists and sympathizers of many, many different dimensions — we can't let this happen." That is over the top. Many do become liberal or progressive and some no doubt do graduate accepting a Marxist sociology perspective. That does not justify this radical proposal.

I join those who criticize many American universities for being too timid in protecting free speech, too tolerant of anti-Semitism, and too woke.  The solution is not to nationalize American higher education and establish a new massive higher education bureaucracy.  

I also think we are long overdue for education reform that would take advantage of computer technology and lower higher education cost. For many college courses, there is little or no advantage gained from sitting in a classroom to learn the course material. Reform needs to occur but that does not justify creating a federal government controlled "American Academy."

Conservatives might like the new academy when conservatives are in power, but conservatives won't always be in power.  If Trump were to create this new "American Academy" that would be "strictly non-political" with "no wokeness or jihadism allowed," what would keep it that way when Trump was no longer in office?

Can you really believe that it won't add "a single dime to the federal debt?"  Really?

This proposal is anathema to conservative ideology.  To intentionally use the power of government to destroy private institutions is not conservative.  This is the kind of program I would expect from a left wing politician. This is dangerous. After the universities, what next? 

The problem with the leftward tilt on college campuses did not happen overnight and cannot be corrected overnight.  Things need to change. However, we do not need to turn higher education over to the government. We need to be shrinking government, not expanding it. There are other less drastic tools that can be used to begin to correct the problem that has been identified. We don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we don't need to nationalize higher education and create another permanent entitlement. We don't need to ruthlessly destroy American higher education. We don't need to embrace authoritarianism. 

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Friday, December 08, 2023

Former Republican candidate Michelle Foreman slapped with $100,000 in court sanctions

Michelle Foreman
BY: J. HOLLY MCCALL, Tennessee Lookout, DECEMBER 6, 2023 - A Nashville judge has ruled that former two-time Republican legislative candidate Michelle Foreman must pay $100,000 in sanctions to a former Metro Nashville council member to deter Foreman from future lawsuits intended to chill public participation. 

Circuit Court Judge Lynne Ingram ruled in favor of Dave Rosenberg, who served on Metro Council from 2015-2023, finding Foreman’s actions constituted a strategic lawsuit against public participation, known as a SLAPP suit. 

The ruling stemmed from a May case in which Foreman filed a $300,000 defamation suit against Rosenberg, after Rosenberg referred to her as a “a truly-unhinged politician who is a COVID denier, anti-vaccine, supports Jan. 6 and election conspiracy theories, and is a pathological liar” in an October 2022 newsletter. (continue reading)

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Congratulations Bill Lee on being elected Chair of the Republican Governors Association

Press release, WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/7/2023 – The Republican Governors Association (RGA) today announced Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has been elected to serve as RGA Chair, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp will serve as RGA Vice Chair for 2024. The election occurred at the end of RGA’s 2023 Annual Conference, and both governors will assume their positions immediately, serving for a one-year term.

“Republican governors are reminding the nation that common sense, conservative policies drive economic prosperity and expand opportunity, security and freedom — changing lives for the better,” said incoming RGA Chair Governor Bill Lee. “I thank Governor Kim Reynolds for her exceptional leadership as RGA Chair over the past year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to support incumbent Republican governors and elect more to our ranks.”

“I’m honored to be elected to this position and to work with my colleagues to ensure the RGA’s efforts in 2024 are successful,” said incoming RGA Vice-Chair Brian Kemp. “RGA has consistently been the most effective political organization in the country, and under Governor Lee’s leadership I know we will continue to take our message to every state on the map. I’m looking forward to working with him in the effort.”

Joining Governor Lee and Governor Kemp in RGA’s 2024 leadership are the following governors who will serve on RGA’s 2024 Executive Committee: Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will serve as Policy Chair.

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Thursday, December 07, 2023

Former disgraced Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announces her run for Congress challenging Mark Green.

By Rod Williams, Dec. 7, 2023 - In case you missed it, former disgraced Nashville mayor Megan Barry has announced she is running for Congree, challenging Mark Green for the 7th Congressional District seat. Above is her announcement. 

Yor may recall that Barry, who served as Nashville's mayor from 2015 until 2018, resigned in disgrace after it was revealed, she spent nearly $175,000 of taxpayer money carrying on a two-year affair with her bodyguard, and used taxpayer resources and vehicles to facilitate the affair at the Nashville City Cemetery. With Nashville so deep blue, I doubt most Nashvillians will be bothered by her conviction for corruption. It seems neither party is much bothered by corruption these days. 

Fortunately, most of Mark Green's constituents are not Nashvillians. More than half of the district's vote is cast in either Montgomery County or Williamson County.

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Chris Christie warns about the threat of Donald Trump to American democracy.


by Rod Williams, Dec 7, 2023- Please watch. I agree with Gov. Cris Christie.  Donald Trump has told us what he will do if reelected. Unfortunately, most Republicans don't believe him or don't care.  If Trump is reelected, he will not have traditional Republicans to urge he moderate his impulses. His staff and cabinet will be all Trump "yes men." Trump will surround himself with loyalist, not people loyal to the Constitution but loyal to Donald Trump. I fully believe Trump will become a dictator if reelected. Trump is a threat to our democracy. 

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Feds say Tennessee violated ADA by enforcing law against prostitutes with HIV

By Brett Rowland, The Center Square, 12/5/2023 – Tennessee's enforcement of its aggravated prostitution law against people living with HIV violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday, warning that continued enforcement could result in a federal lawsuit.

The Justice Department said the state, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office violated the ADA, the landmark 1990 federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Tennessee's Attorney General could not immediately be reached for comment after hours on Friday. 

The Justice Department's investigation found that the state and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office "subject people living with HIV to harsher criminal penalties solely because of their HIV status, violating Title II of the ADA." Tennessee is the only state in the U.S. that requires lifetime registration as a violent sex offender if convicted of aggravated prostitution, regardless of whether the person knew they could transmit the disease. 

"Tennessee's aggravated prostitution law is outdated, has no basis in science, discourages testing and further marginalizes people living with HIV," said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "People living with HIV should not be treated as violent sex offenders for the rest of their lives solely because of their HIV status."

The Justice Department findings were detailed in an 11-page letter to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.

"The State and the [Shelby County District Attorney's Office] discriminate against individuals with disabilities by enforcing Tennessee's aggravated prostitution statute, which elevates to a felony conduct that would otherwise be a misdemeanor, solely because the individual charged knows they have HIV, regardless of any actual risk of harm," according to the letter. "Aggravated prostitution is also categorized as a 'violent sexual offense' mandating registration on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, in most cases for life."

The state's aggravated prostitution statute is a felony. A person convicted of aggravated prostitution faces three to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A person convicted of a misdemeanor prostitution charge faces a sentence of no more than six months and up to a $500 fine. The aggravated prostitution statute applies statewide, but the Justice Department said it has been enforced most frequently in Shelby County, the largest county in the state.

The state's Sex Offender Registry restricts registrants from living or working within 1,000 feet of any school, childcare facility, or public park or playground. The Justice Department said this leads to increased homelessness.

"For those living in densely populated cities like Memphis, where the aggravated prostitution statute is most enforced, these requirements make it difficult for people on the SOR to find anywhere they can live or work without violating the [Sex Offender Registry's] requirements," according to the letter.

The Justice Department said the treatment of both HIV and AIDS has changed since the state's aggravated prostitution law was passed in 1991.

"There has been significant progress in the understanding of and treatment of HIV. Beliefs and assumptions that individuals with HIV will spread it, or that having HIV is a death sentence, are now outdated and unfounded," according to the letter.

The Justice Department said the state must stop enforcing the aggravated prostitution law, including the sex offender registration requirements triggered by aggravated prostitution convictions. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must take people convicted of aggravated prostitution off of the state's Sex Offender Registry. It also listed other actions for both the state and TBI to fix the problem. 

"We hope to work cooperatively with the State and the SCDAG to resolve the Department’s findings. If either the SCDAG or the State declines to enter into negotiations, or if our negotiations do not succeed, the United States may take appropriate action, including initiating a lawsuit," the letter said.

The Friday announcement coincided with World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS.

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Sunday, December 03, 2023

A Disgruntled Republican's end-of-year Giving Guide

by Rod Williams, Dec 3, 2023- I recntly completed by end-of-year giving and am posting below a list of organizations to which I contribute and which I think are worthy of support. Also, I am sharing some of my thoughts on giving. This is kind of awkward to share because to discuss my giving is kind of immodest.  I don't want a pat on the back for being charitable but hope that I cause someone else to think about their own giving. 

I am not a wealthy person, but I am retired with a paid for home, don't spend much, don't care about driving a new car, have some savings, and have more disposable income than I ever have had.  I am also old.  I hate to admit it, but I am. The way I figure it, my money will outlive me.  I only have one child and have helped her considerably already and will leave her a decent inheritance, so I am more generous with my giving than ever before. If you are in a similar situation, you may want to think about what you do with your money.  You can't take it with you.

In addition to the list below, I have two individuals who I financially help. One is a tenant who lives in the little rental house I own.  I could rent the house for much more than I do or just sell it.  By keeping this unit of housing affordable, I am providing a home for someone who would be unable to afford paying more for rent. I know something about this person's hardships and challenges, and I know my only charging a modest rent makes a big difference in his life.

The other person is a close friend with a disability whom I help from time to time. When her car breaks or she needs help to keep the utilities form being cut off, I help out.  She is good person and does the very best she can.  I think this personal giving is every bit as important as giving money to raise awareness of a disease or supporting a charity that feeds the homeless.  If you have a family member or an acquaintance who you could help, that may be where your charity should begin. If people helped other people directly there would be less demand for the welfare state. Personal giving like this creates a community bond. Often churches help fellow church members in this way. 

If you look at my list, some may say that this is not charitable giving but much of it is support for political organizations.  To my way of thinking, there is no better use of my money than in helping to conserve  the American Founding.  I want to leave the world a better place than I found it and I want future generations to know the blessings of liberty, justice, individualism, a free-market economy, limited government, and a world not dominated by authoritarian and totalitarian tyrants.  Freedom is the greatest gift we can leave our descendants.  Also, the free market is the greatest mechanism to lift people out of poverty. I do not make a distinction between political giving and charitable giving. 

Unfortunately, sometimes charity does more harm than it does good, both foreign and domestic charity. A good documentary that makes this point is Poverty Inc. Before giving, I ask myself if this organization just perpetuates dependency, or does it respond to a crisis, or support actions that really help people long-term. Sometimes it is hard to know. 

I don't want homeless people freezing on the streets, so I support organizations like The Salvation Army and The Nashville Rescue Mission but do not support The Contributor which really is not much more than a permit to beg. In fact, I favor adopting the policy of Brentwood which prohibits solicitation in the right of way.  I never give money to beggars holding signs on the side of the road. They may be scamming you and I don't want to subsidize bad behavior. I am not trying to pick a fight if you disagree, but this is my view.

I also do not contribute money to organizations that insult my values. For several years, I gave money to an organization that saves places of natural beauty in Tennessee and preserves critical habitats.  I still think they do a worthwhile job doing what they do. However, in one of their email communications a couple years ago, they went off-topic and expressed their support for Black Lives Matter, and I seem to recall that they pledged a commitment to equity and diversity, and social justice.  I support tolerance, equality, and non-discrimination but not modern woke concepts of social justice and equity. I marked them off of my giving list. I am not going to support any organization whose values I do not share. If it is not germane to what the organization does, then it does not seem wise to ostracize some of your supporters.  Their website does not contain that same statement of commitment to BLM and DEI and sticks to explaining their mission.  I may or may not add them back. I am for now, going to skip another year. 

I join some organizations with only the modest membership fee. I am a member of Friends of Fort Negley and Friends of Percy Warner Park, for example. A few months ago, right after it opened, I took my grandson to the new Mill Ridge Park. It has a fantastic playground.  I was going to join the "Friends" group but when I went to their website, this is what I saw: "Our work is guided by an organizational value of the following: Healthy and active living, Inclusion, diversity, culture, shared space, Equitable access to outdoor space and recreation, Environmental protection, nature conservation, Historical reservation, Sustainability, Partnership, Agriculture."  Mabe throwing in the DEI helped them attract more "friends." I chose not to be a friend. 

My giving list changes from year to year.  Sometimes my passion for a cause simply wanes.  My wife died of an Alzheimer's-like condition three years ago and was sick with it for many years. For several years I gave to the Alzheimers organization.  I have stopped. Not because I have had any falling out with the organization but because my focus just changed.  I myself have had cancer last year, but I have not developed any passion for supporting the Cancer Foundation. Giving is a personal thing and to each his own, but I am more motivated by other values than contributing to the awareness of or supporting research for a particular illness.

Much of my giving is political. As explained above, promoting freedom and making the world safe for democracy is as important to me as any other use to which I could put my money.  In the past I used to give to various Republican organizations. In my view, electing Republicans to political office was the best way to preserve the American founding, avoid a financial collapse, and promote prosperity. With many Republicans supporting the big lie of the stolen election and opposing the peaceful transfer of power, I can no longer just blindly support the Republican Party.  I am no longer giving to the RNC or the Republican Governors Fund, or the Senate or House Republican fundraising organizations. I do not want to support Trumpism. I don't want to support people who would cut funding to Ukraine. I don't want to help elect to office people like Marjorie Taylor Green and other Republican conspiracy theorists and nut-jobs, so I have suspended most of my financial support for the Republican Party.  I still give to good candidates.  Durning the last local campaign season I gave contributions to Alice Rolli and several candidates of the Metro Council and contributed to several races across the country. If you routinely support the Republican Party, please stop and ask yourself if the Party still represents your values. 

An organization I supported as late as year before last, which I have now removed from my giving list is The Heritage Foundation.  For many years I held this organization in high esteem.  I probably have been giving to this organization since its founding almost fifty years ago.  Even in my years of poverty, I managed to send the minimum fee for an annual membership. They were a free-market, pro-national defense, anti-communist, limited government think-tank. They had top conservative scholars analyzing public policy issues and issuing position papers.

A couple years ago or so they established a grassroots political wing called Heritage Action. I get the local newsletter called Nashville Sentinel. It is Trumpinista, critical of our policy toward Russia's Putin and support for Ukraine, and flirts with various conspiracy theories. It is sad to see this once great organization descend into Trumpinista populist ignorance. 

Another organization that I supported for many, many years which has gone Trumpinista-populist is The American Conservative Union. They are the organization that puts on the annual CPAC events. Twice I attended CPAC. It was informative and motivational. It is sad to see the change in this once outstanding organization, but the ACU no longer represents my values. 

Some people support museums, or the symphony, or their alma mater. Some may criticize one for supporting local ballet instead of starving children in Africa.  I don't. The world needs culture and beauty too.  I encourage you to follow your heart and give but give some thought to it before writing that check. Make sure your giving represents your values.  Also, there are charlatans that raise a lot of money to live a lavish lifestyle, and little goes to the cause they supposedly support.  A few years back several televangelists were exposed as frauds. A couple good resources for seeing how honest, transparent, and efficient an organization is Charity Navigator and Charity Watch

If you are looking for a place to give, please consider the following.

Rod's End-of-Year Giving List

The Beacon Center is my favorite non-profit and gets the largest single chunk of my charitable giving.  It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free-market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee.  Time and time again, Tennessee is recognized for being one of the most fiscally responsible and economically free states in the union.  Much of the credit for these honors is due to the work of the Beacon Center.  The Beacon Center has worked to ensure the Right to Work by pushing to overturn professional licensure laws that serve no purpose but to keep out the competition. They have worked to prevent local government from banning work-from-home opportunities like recording studios in homes in Music City. They have stopped local government from forcing homeowners to build public sidewalks when they remodel their home. Beacon is responsible for enshrining the protection against being forced to join a union in the State constitution.  Beacon gets much of the credit for the advancement of educational choice in Tennessee.  Beacon produces the annual "Pork Report," highlighting the most egregious examples of government waste in Tennessee.

Nashville Rescue Mission: A Christ-centered community committed to helping the hungry, homeless, and hurting byproviding programs and services that focus on a person’s entire life-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social. We are devoted to restoring the whole person through a Christian approach that helps the homeless and addicted learn how much God loves them and gain the biblical insight they need to lead a productive life in and for Christ.

We provide emergency services that meet immediate and practical need for people experiencing homelessness, hunger, disappointment, and regret. By meeting these most basic and immediate needs, not tied to any expectations, we provide “hope for today” in a nurturing environment that reflects the love of God in tangible ways.

Guests are cared for in a safe, supportive environment where they can find refuge and rest. Once their basic and immediate needs are addressed, case managers work one-on-one with each person to identify next steps, including healthcare and treatment options with a goal of helping them change unhealthy patterns of behavior.

If you or someone you know is in immediate need of food, clothing, or shelter, Nashville Rescue Mission serves three hot meals a day and is open 365 days a year. You are welcome here.


The Mercatus Center: A research center at George Mason University that advances knowledge about how markets solve problems and help us lead happier, healthier, and richer lives. For more than 40 years, Mercatus has supported leading talent and scholarship in the mainline economics tradition, applying rigorous research to real-world concerns. Through our continuing efforts to bridge the gap between theory and practice, we strive to realize a world where markets operate at their full potential to increase abundance, civility, and well-being. Your gift to the Mercatus Center ensures free-market ideas are championed in public policy, the academy, and the broader public discourse. 100% of your donation supports educating tomorrow's academic leaders as well as generating peer-reviewed research on today's most pressing issues.

Doctors without borders: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) translates to Doctors without Borders. We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. Our teams are made up of tens of thousands of health professionals, logistic and administrative staff - bound together by our charter.  Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality. We are a non-profit, self-governed, member-based organization. MSF was founded in 1971 in Paris by a group of journalists and doctors. Today, we are a worldwide movement of nearly 63,000 people.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee opened its doors in 1978 with commitment from several community leaders. The purpose of the organization was to provide a central distribution center for companies, groups, and individuals who wished to help provide food for hungry people in Middle Tennessee. During my years of working for a non-profit agency, we were a Second Harvest outlet.  This organization provides food, mostly bread, that would otherwise be thrown away, to needy people.   

The Fund for American Studies: (TFAS) is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit that is changing the world by developing leaders for a free society. Our transformational programs teach the principles of limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership to students and young professionals in America and around the world.

By offering a portfolio of more than 20 different academic programs, fellowships and seminars, the TFAS Journey helps cultivate future leaders from high school, all the way through to their university studies and professional careers. 

Today, there are more than 42,000 TFAS alumni making the difference in their communities and throughout the world by championing the values essential to the preservation and success of a free society.

Truth in Accounting. Founded in 2002, Truth in Accounting believes truthful accounting is the key for citizens, legislators, and the press to clearly understand the truth about government finances. To be knowledgeable participants in their governments' financial decisions, citizens need accurate and complete financial information. Our work has focused on encouraging public entities to produce financial reports that are comprehensive, clear, and transparent; and informing the public of the importance of truthful accounting.

The Salvation Army has Been Serving Nashville For Over 125 Years Through Much Needed Social Services And Programs. A 90-bed Adult Alcohol and Rehabilitation Center for men was opened in 1900 and served the community for over 100 years. In 1940, The Salvation Army built and opened the “Red Shield” Community Center – rebuilt in 1984 as the Magness-Potter Community Center which offered Army-administered youth and adult leisure activity programs. Now, the community center houses the United Way-sponsored Family Resource Center, the Red Shield Kids Club after-school and summer day camp programs, the Life Skills Learning Center, the Second Harvest Food Pantry, and the Emergency Services Program.  In 1980, the Area Command facility was moved from Demonbreun to Dickerson Pike, receiving the name the “Center of Hope”, and opened a 75-person transient shelter, an emergency shelter for men, and a day and night child care center serving homeless and other families in urgent need. Today, the Center of Hope and the Magness-Potter Community Center, along with the three worship centers, serve Nashville by being strategically placed in the neediest areas of the community. Our services are provided to all of Davidson County, as well as Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Williamson, and Sumner Counties. Your donation will directly impact your community.

The Salvation Army has been many things over the years as communities’ needs have changed over the years, but today, the focus of the Nashville Salvation Army is to fight poverty and prevent homelessness in our community through a myriad of comprehensive programs designed to bring a holistic approach to the individual’s or family’s need.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) is an educational, research, and human rights nonprofit organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.

Institute for Justice: IJ is a nonprofit, public interest law firm. Our mission is to end widespread abuses of government power and secure the constitutional rights that allow all Americans to pursue their dreams. Donations to the Institute for Justice enable us to represent our clients at no cost to them—and to stand with them no matter how long their cases take. And when we win for our clients, we secure precedent that protects the rights of all Americans. IJ’s work is powered by nearly 10,000 supporters from across the country who believe in the Constitution and its ideals. 70% of our funding comes from individuals like you. Please join our fight for freedom and justice today. 

IJ has been involved in several high-profile fights over the years in Nashville. IJ defended a small music studio owner from efforts of the city to take her property by condemnation for no other purpose than to provide room for expansion of a bigger neighbor.  In the pre-ride-share days of Uber and Lyft, IJ defended an innovative entrepreneur who wanted to provide cheaper limo rides. IJ has defended homeowners who wanted to work from home.

The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. The work of our scholars and staff advances ideas rooted in our belief in democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of our society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.

The Center Square. The disappearance and decline of journalism concern me.  Nashville went from two daily papers to one newspaper that is only a shadow of its formal self.  While there are lots of people, like me, blogging and sharing opinions, without staff they can seldom break stories.  Journalism needs paid boots on the ground. News, especially local news, most often comes down to shootings, car wrecks, sports, and reposted press releases.  There are far too few outlets looking for scandals and corruption.  The watchdog of democracy has died.

The Center Square is conservative but without the rancor, sensationalism, and conspiratorial mindset of what defines many so-called conservative news sources today. 

"The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues. As a result of this approach, our readers are better informed about the focus of state and local government and its cost to the citizens whose tax dollars fund governmental decisions.

The Center Square is staffed by editors and reporters with extensive professional journalism experience. We engage readers with essential news, data and analysis – delivered with velocity, frequency and consistency. We distribute our journalism through three main channels at no cost to our partners or readers: a newswire service to legacy publishers and broadcasters. The Center Square is a project of the 501(c)(3) Franklin News Foundation, headquartered in Chicago."

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Pre-Born! are both organizations that partner with life-affirming pregnancy clinics all across the nation. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, several states where abortion is still legal have become key destinations for vulnerable women seeking abortions. Planned Parenthood is working to place mobile abortion units on the borders of states where abortion is illegal. 

Both of the above-sited organizations provide ultrasound equipment to pro-life pregnancy crisis centers.  Data shows that when an expectant mother sees an ultrasound image of her baby and hears the heartbeat, she most often decides to keep the child.  I don't know which of these organizations is most efficient at what they do, so for now I am supporting both.

National Review Institute. Your support ensures that NRI will continue to preserve and promote the legacy of William F. Buckley Jr. and advance the conservative principles he championed: limited government, free markets, individual liberty, personal responsibility, a strong national defense, and the rule of law. Your philanthropic investment is a vote of confidence in our mission and our methods. 

Foundation of Economic Freedom. FEE's mission is to inspire, educate, and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society. These principles include: individual liberty, free-market economics, entrepreneurship, private property, high moral character, and limited government. Here are some highlights from 2021: We broke a world record for the largest online economics lecture. We made 95 mainstream media appearances. Our videos received 11 MILLION views and over 1.8 MILLION shares. On TikTok, we went from reaching 65,000 people to over 2 MILLION in just seven months! We reached over 83 MILLION Gen Z online.

Tennessee Eagle Forum: The TN Eagle Forum is a nonprofit organization that supports pro-family and conservative values. 

917 Society: The 917 Society is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization passionate about encouraging young people to
know the rights given to them by the U.S. Constitution as citizens.  As a not-for-profit organization with tax-exempt status, we do not align with, endorse, or support any particular political candidate, organization, party, or platform.  We support our Constitution and the democratic process and encourage civic engagement. Any accolades made in favor of the 917 Society are not solicited politically. The 917 Society provides pocket constitutions free of charge to middle school classrooms across the country. 

Americans for Prosperity Tennessee: AFP’s grassroots, policy, government affairs, communications, political, and education and training capabilities make us the best organization to change the policy landscape in America.

The Pamphleteer: The Pamphleteer is an arts, culture, and politics publication based in Nashville, TN. Corporate and
progressive media dominate the landscape in the state of Tennessee. The word "independent"—typically associated with legacy brands such as the Nashville Scene—means less and less as time goes on. Many of the perspectives from local media outlets you read come from an almost identical perspective, inseparable from the tone and tenor of politics at the federal level. 
The Pamphleteer seeks to reinvigorate local discourse by offering fresh, regional perspectives on local topics. It is our hope that through our work, we can challenge readers to engage more earnestly in local politics and motivate leaders to reach higher and farther in their efforts to make Nashville a world-class city.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public on issues with significant fiscal policy impact. Our bipartisan leadership comprises some of the nation's leading budget experts, including many past heads of the House and Senate Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Government Accountability Office. 

As an independent source of objective policy analysis, we regularly engage policymakers of both parties and help them develop and analyze proposals to improve the country’s fiscal and economic condition. These efforts have reinforced the Committee’s role as an authoritative voice for fiscal responsibility and an educational resource for policymakers and the general public. We are also a trusted budget watchdog that assists journalists across the country in understanding fiscal developments in Washington.

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MNPS board chair Anne Elrod lashes out at Gov. Lee's proposed Education Saving Account program expansion.

by Rod Williams, Nov. 29, 2023- MNPS board chair Anne Elrod has lashed out at Gov. Lee's proposed Education Saving Account program expansion. She calls the program "moral and fiscal malpractice." While the ESL has been available only to low-income families in Memphis and Nashville, Lee has proposed expanding the program across the state and eventually making it available to any student in Tennessee, regardless of income. 

One of the arguments against the program is that it siphons off dollars that would otherwise go to a local school district.  It is true that when a district educates fewer children, they receive less money. However, it cost more to educate a child than the amount of money the local district receives in tax revenue so actually, for every child leaving the local district the district is financially better off. 

Of course, if one is more concerned with having a large organization to manage than with insuring students get a good education, then opposition to the program makes sense.

I understand some of the opposition. Part of it is people simply don't like change. People like doing things the way they have always done them. Also, there are vested interest in continuing to do things the way they have been done. Teachers fear losing their job if the number of students enrolled in a district decline. And there are vendors and others with an interest in maintaining an educational monopoly. In some counties the local school system is the largest employer in the county. 

I also think many people with a concern for minorities and the "marginalized," see the government monopoly of education as a way to achieve equity.  If there is school choice the most promising students will leave the system and the traditional public schools will be left with the mediocre students. Those who leave will excel and by comparison those left in the traditional public schools will look worse. Some would prefer a mediocre average than some students achieving excellence. 

Passing this state-wide will not be a slam dunk. In some smaller counties, the local high school and its football team provide community identity. This will have to be sold.  If this is passed, there will be growing pains. It will take a while to put in place all of the safeguards to ensure accountability. Also, there must be safeguards to assure financial accountability while ensuring the State does not get in the business of dictating curriculum. However, this is the right thing to do, and the time is now. 

Below is Ms Elrod's statement. 

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