Saturday, March 30, 2024

Biden Proclaims Easter Sunday ‘Trans Day of Visibility’. Trans is in; God is out.

Biden Proclaims Easter Sunday ‘Trans Day of Visibility’ ... Easter egg submissions “must not include and questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes, or partisan political statements,” according to the flyer. link

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Friday, March 29, 2024

Half of Nashville’s public charter schools outperform every comparable district school on state testing

by BY SKY ARNOLD, Tennessee Firefly, MARCH 28, 2024 - ... A Tennessee Firefly analysis of
Tennessee Department of Education Report Card data released this week found middle school students at Nashville Classical outperformed every district run middle school in the Stratford Cluster in every subject but social studies.  That includes proficiency rates 10 points higher in English language arts and 18 points higher in math.

The K-8 public charter school also posted proficiency rates in every subject 20 points or higher than the district run elementary school located right across the street.

Nashville Classical’s success is part of a larger trend of public charter school students in Davidson County producing proficiency rates higher than their traditional and magnet school peers.

Firefly staff compared each MNPS public charter school’s performance on the Report Card to traditional and magnet schools serving the same age students in the same school cluster. Half of those charters outperformed every comparable district run school in a majority of subjects. (read more)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories


From Megan Podsiedlik, Reposted from The Pamphleteer, March 29, 2024- Yesterday the sun
set on one Tennessee State University board and rose on another.  Around 9:00 a.m., the comptroller released two reports: a
 financial and compliance audit of the university for FY 2022 and a contracted forensic audit that reviewed its financial records, transactions, and processes from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023. The latter uncovered the following discrepancies, among numerous others: 
  • TSU’s president was paid $32,640 above her contracted base salary, a pay bump that wasn’t approved until after it had been received. 
  • Student scholarships increased by almost 250 percent, from about $22.1 million in FY20 to approximately $55.5 million in FY23. This level of spending was deemed unsustainable.
  • The university lacked supporting documentation and criteria for awarding the aforementioned scholarships.
  • Between the above dates, TSU paid for seven transactions totaling $3,952.92 that could not be substantiated as university business.
  • Not only were students with unpaid account balances allowed to enroll, TSU failed to charge a minimum of $1.46 million in tuition or fees for students registered in graduate classes. 
Less than two hours later, the House passed a bill ousting the entire University board. Governor Lee swiftly signed the bill into law before appointing eight new board members—all before dinner time:
  • Trevia ChatmanPresident, Bank of America Memphis
  • Jeffery Norfleet, Provost and Vice President for Administration, Shorter College
  • Marquita QuallsFounder and Principal, Entropia Consulting
  • Terica SmithDeputy Mayor and Director of Human Resources, Madison County
  • Charles Traughber, General Counsel, Division of Real Estate, Retail, and Financial Services at Bridgestone Americas
  • Dwayne TuckerCEO of LEAD Public Schools
  • Kevin WilliamsPresident and CEO of GAA Manufacturing
  • Dakasha Winton, Senior Vice President and Chief Government Relations Officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
Along with assisting in real estate, construction, and environmental matters for Bridgestone, Traughber is also the second Vice Chair of the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission. We also clocked Tucker, who is CEO of LEAD, Nashville’s “largest homegrown charter school network.”
The new board is set to hit the ground running, first by choosing TSU’s new president. Just a few days ago, the old board announced the three finalists to replace President Glenda Glover. As of this writing, it’s unclear how the hiring process will proceed.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, March 28, 2024

So, Who Really is Responsible for the Baltimore Bridge Collapse?

 by Rod Williams, March 28, 2024- As soon as I heard of the collapse of the Baltimore bridge, my first thought was, "What a terrible accident." The first thought of a lot of people, however, was, "who did this?"  Or the first thought might have been that the Deep State is stepping up their attempt to destroy the country.

I just knew this was ripe for conspiracy theories. Let me say that I do believe America is ready for a terrorist attack.  With about 250,000 people a month illegally entering the United State, from over 160 counties, and about half of them being single military-age men, I expect we have terrorist cells in this country, and we are overdue a terrorist attack. I expect something to happen here like happened in Russia recently. However, I still believe accidents happen. 

Actually, I have not heard any conspiracy theories firsthand. I seldom watch Tucker Carlson, so I don't how he is spinning this tragedy. Not that I would expect him to clearly state a conspiracy theory as a fact. His mode of operation is to kind of lays out a few "facts," and spreads doubts about the accepted story, and lead people to reach a certain conclusion on their own.  

I seldom watch Fox News anymore and do not watch Newsmax or One America or Alex Jones, and I unsubscribed from some of the on-line Trumpinista website I was getting, so I may be missing the conspiracy theories. Also, I have sort of changed by circle of acquaintances.  I am attending less Trumpinista-type events and have "unfollowed" a lot of my Facebook "friends," who constantly post bombastic, or pro-Trump stuff, or weird conspiracy theories. So, I think I am less attuned to what is happening in right-wing world than I have been in the past. Also, however, the attack only happened on Tuesday and today is Thursday, so the theories may not be in wide circulation yet, but according to reports the theories are simmering and circulating. 

Various news sources report that conspiracy theories are spreading rapidly across the internet generating tens of millions of views on social media. CNN reports that within just a few hours of the incident, an entire alternate reality, devoid of facts, had been created around the bridge’s collapse. 

Andrew Tate, the misogynist, online personality with millions of followers, who is currently being detained for various alleged crimes in Romania said, without offering any evidence, that the ship had been “cyber-attacked” and deliberately steered toward the bridge.

Alex Jones on his show, showed clips of the collision said, “Looks deliberate to me. A cyber-attack is probable. WW3 has already started.”  

Marjorie Taylor Green did not say it was the result of Jewish Space lasers, as she said of the California wildfires last summer, she simply asked the question, “intentional attack or an accident." Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, suggested it was not an accident. He said, “This is a BLACK SWAN event." "Black Swan event," among right-wingers is a term used to describe a rare event carried out for the purpose of acquiring more power by the Deep State or to distract people from other nefarious things going on. It is similar to a "false flag event." Some theorize the Obama's may be involved, somehow some blame the Covid 19 vaccine or Covid lockdowns, and some blame Israel. A Fox News host somehow linked the bridge collapse to "wide-open border." Some blame it on the DEI culture.

As for me, I think it may have been the work of the lizard people, if there are lizard people.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The True Faith. Bible-thumping for fun and profit, but mostly profit.


By Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch, Mar 27, 2024 - The closest I get to liking Donald Trump is when he evinces contempt for those who idolize him.

I feel guilty about that, as one shouldn’t sympathize with con artists. But you know how it is with scams: At a certain point of extreme gullibility, the mark starts to seem more contemptible than the person preying on them. If you’re still falling for “Nigerian prince” emails in 2024, the problem lies chiefly with you, not with the flimflam man responsible.

The sheer laziness with which Trump has courted evangelical voters since 2015 has always betrayed a degree of sincere disdain for them that’s unusual in a man not otherwise known for honesty. It would have been trivially easy for him to brush up on Christian dogma after he entered politics in the name of convincing the Republican base that he’d seen the light after a dissolute adulthood. But … he couldn’t be bothered to do so.

He’s never cared enough about the faith espoused by most of his supporters to even pretend to take it seriously.

That’s how we ended up with him once famously rendering “2 Corinthians” as “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians.” And listing “an eye for an eye” as his favorite Bible verse instead of something from the Gospels. And admitting at an evangelical forum that he couldn’t recall ever having asked for God’s forgiveness. (read it all)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tennessee bans Lizard People from serving on School Boards

by Rod Williams, March 27, 2024- Not really. I just made that up. 

The Tennessee Senate however did pass a bill to protect us from chem trails. Of course, at this point it is not a law. It would have to pass the House and be signed by the governor or pass the House and become law without his signature to become law. That it passed the Senate however is cringe-worthy and embarrassing. 

This is from the language of the bill: "The intentional injection, release, or dispersion, by any means, of chemicals, chemical compounds, substances, or apparatus within the borders of this state into the atmosphere with the express purpose of affecting temperature, weather, or the intensity of the sunlight is prohibited."

The proposed ban would not be a bad thing to do if chem trails were really real. Just as I would favor banning lizard people from serving on school boards if there really were lizard people, I could support this bill if chem trails were a real thing.  However, if releasing chemicals or compounds into the atmosphere could combat the global warming gases put into the atmosphere, I could be persuaded it was a good thing to do if it had been fully vetted and proven harmless and effective. However, it is not happening. It is not real.

The bill does not say for certain that chem trails are real. This is what part of the "whereas" section of the bill says:
WHEREAS, it is documented that the federal government or other entities acting on the 
federal government's behalf or at the federal government's request may conduct geoengineering experiments by intentionally dispersing chemicals into the atmosphere, and 
those activities may occur within the State of Tennessee; and

The italicizing above is mine.  This language does not excuse this bill. In fact, this is confusing. How can something be "documented" that "may" exist? This would be like saying, "It is well documented that lizard people, if they exist, are seeking to get elected to school boards." This is pure pandering to the crazies. I don't know for sure that it is pandering. Maybe the sponsors really believe it. I don't know which would be worse. 

If you are not familiar with chem trails, you are not connected to the right wing of the political spectrum. If you look up into the sky and see the water vapor trailing an airplane, chem trail theorist do not believe it is water vapor, but chemical trails.  I have had otherwise sane and reasonable people try to talk to me about chem trails at Republican or conservative functions. I just try not to roll my eyes and I just change the subject or move away. 

How did the right get so nutty?  I don't know. I have always believed conservatives were the smart people. I believed conservatives were the adults in the room.  It was people of the left who could believe that America's drug problem was the result of a CIA plot to kill Black people for some reason. It was the left that could believe that Katrina was a result of the government blowing up the dikes to flood New Orleans. It was the left, so blinded by hatred of their country, that they could believe any nutty conspiracy theory about our government. 

Now it is people on the right who will believe the most bizarre of things. You may recall when some people believed Govenor Bill Haslam was attempting to impose Sharia Law on Tennessee and when some Republican legislators believed a mop sink in the legislative office building was a Muslim foot bath. You may recall when many on the right believed that everything from shady sidewalks to reintroducing wolves into the wild was part of nefarious plot called Agenda 21, intended to kill 98% of the world's population by poisoning them with aspartame and fluoride.  There is nothing too bizarre not to be believed. The likes of Q-Anon and Alex Jones and promoters of the most bizarre of groundless theories find fertile ground on the right. 

It is perplexing, disgusting, and disturbing. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Here’s the Real Reason Young People Can’t Afford a Home

 The housing crisis is fundamentally a supply and demand problem.

by Patrick Carroll, Foundation for Economic Education, March 24, 2024 - Like so many millennials these days, Charles Bryant has been having a rough go of things in recent years. The 39-year-old New York native had a good job as a hotel manager in Delaware, but things changed quickly when the pandemic hit.

“I was one of those guys that had a five-year, 10-year plan,” Bryant recently told Fortune. “I wanted to be at a certain place.” Unfortunately, those plans dissolved when he had to take a pay cut and eventually made the hard decision to leave his hotel job. “The pandemic halted all the positive momentum I had built professionally in the 10 years prior,” he said.

After searching for new opportunities, Bryant finally found a job as an operations manager for a major retailer, a position that has helped him through these trying times. But while he may have avoided the worst, his life is still far from where he wants it to be. He has $42,000 in student debt and lives with his parents, an arrangement of necessity given the skyrocketing price of homes.

In a lot of ways, Bryant’s story reflects some growing trends. Many young people have had to change course in recent years; many are saddled with student debt, and many are living with their parents. Indeed, roughly 58 percent of 18-24 year-olds were living with their parents in 2021, as well as roughly 17 percent of 25-34 year-olds.

The reason for the trend is not hard to pin down. “A staggering 70 percent of Americans between the ages of 23 and 40 who want to buy a home say they can’t afford to,” writes Peter Rex in a recent Newsweek column, “and those who can are doing so at a later age than their parents.” In all, only 43 percent of millennials are currently home-owners. And with house prices up nearly 120 percent since 1965 (adjusting for inflation), that number will likely remain low for quite some time.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

So why are housing prices so high? It’s a question that everyone is asking, but few seem to have a good answer for.

Some blame greed, but that argument really doesn’t hold water. People haven’t suddenly become more greedy than they were a few decades ago. Another explanation is that money printing from the Federal Reserve is causing inflation, and that is certainly part of the problem. The Fed’s purchases of Mortgage-Backed Securities in particular may be inflating housing prices above what they would otherwise be. But with housing prices ballooning so quickly, inflation likely doesn’t account for the lion’s share of the price-hikes.

What does account for it is good-old supply and demand. Simply put, the primary reason housing prices are soaring is because the supply is being limited while the demand is growing.

With respect to supply, there are basically two ways to expand: up and out. On the one hand, cities can build taller, higher-density residences. On the other hand, they can build on new land at the outskirts of the city.

The problem is that both of these options are seriously unpopular. With respect to building up, many people are fiercely opposed to high-density developments in their local communities, and as a result, most municipalities have strict zoning laws that prevent or at least limit these kinds of initiatives.

If you suggest building out, however, you quickly encounter the wrath of environmentalists who are on a mission to mitigate urban sprawl, and the environmentalists have passed many land-use regulations, too. The Greenbelt in Ontario, for instance, is a 2,000,000 acre swath of land surrounding Toronto that is permanently protected from development because of environmental considerations.

The Greenbelt in Ontario, Canada

Red tape is another huge barrier to housing development. Permits, building codes, and all sorts of other regulations make it far more expensive to build new homes than it needs to be, and those expenses make it that much harder to increase the supply of homes on the market.

The demand for housing is, of course, largely determined by population. Generally speaking, the more people there are in a country, the more demand there will be for housing. Population changes are in turn determined by two factors, the natural growth rate (accounting for births and deaths) and net migration (accounting for immigration and emigration).

In the US, which currently has a population of about 334 million, the natural growth rate and net migration rate are both positive, so they both contribute to the increasing demand for housing. Historically, the US population has grown by about 0.9 percent per year on average. It’s not a particularly high rate, but it’s enough to put some constant pressure on the demand side of the equation.

It’s All About Trade-Offs

So, now that we’ve identified the problems, the solution should be obvious, right? Unfortunately, that’s not quite how economics works.

The point of going through the factors affecting supply and demand wasn’t to identify potential solutions, but potential trade-offs. As we’ve seen, there are many ways that housing prices could be brought down, but if you look closely, every single one of them requires that we sacrifice something.

We could relax zoning restrictions, for instance, but then people would have to sacrifice the character of their neighborhoods. We could stick it to the environmentalists and embrace urban sprawl, but then we would have to sacrifice the environment and the benefits that come with preserving it. We could relax permits and regulations, but we would sacrifice oversight and assurances of safety.

Similar trade-offs exist on the demand side. Though few would be in favor of government interference with the natural growth rate, many people are open to changing immigration policy, and it’s not hard to figure out that fewer immigrants means less demand. The trade-off, however, is that you lose the economic and cultural benefits that come with free movement, which can be fairly significant.

Grappling with these trade-offs helps us put the housing price problem into perspective. It’s easy to want more affordable housing, but the question is, what are you willing to give up to get it. The character of your community? Environmentalism? Oversight? Immigration? You have to pick something. If you don’t, prices will just keep going up.

Having said that, it’s important to note that recognizing these trade-offs is not the same thing as making a moral judgment about these policies. For instance, the fact that lower immigration would lead to lower housing demand does not mean that lowering immigration is what we should do. The point is just to recognize that there’s a tension between all of these things, and that something always has to give. Now, there’s room to choose what it is that we sacrifice, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. As Thomas Sowell said, “there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.”

The First Lesson of Politics

Having established the inevitable trade-offs that exist in a world of scarcity, the question then becomes why haven’t we figured out a better trade-off yet. Surely the status-quo isn’t our best option, is it?

The answer has to do with the nature of the political system. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity,” said Sowell. “There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

The fact of the matter is, politicians hate acknowledging trade-offs, and as a result, they spend little time considering them. They want to talk about what they will give people, not about what they will take from them. “We will lower the price of housing” is a winning platform. “We will lower the price of housing by increasing the density of your communities and allowing urban sprawl” is more accurate and balanced, which is precisely why it’s political suicide. Remember, the first lesson of politics is to ignore the trade-offs.

But “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored,” Aldous Huxley reminds us. “You can avoid reality,” Ayn Rand says, “but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

In other words, trade-offs still exist, whether we want to acknowledge them or not.

Thus, real solutions, or shall we say improvements, need to begin by acknowledging the trade-offs. The essence of any political position is not only what you want to get, but what you’re willing to give up to get it. That is the discussion we need to be having if we want to make any progress on this issue.

Personally, I’m not a fan of restricting immigration, and I also have a soft spot for the environment. That’s fine, but if I still want lower housing prices, it means I’ll need to accept either fewer regulations or increased density, or some combination thereof. Fortunately, I happen to think most housing regulations and zoning laws are unnecessary and immoral anyways, so I’m happy to champion getting rid of them as a step toward housing affordability.

Now, you might choose a different trade-off, and values like property rights will hopefully play a role in that decision, but the point is just that something always has to give. Of course, you could refuse to make any sacrifices related to supply and demand, but then by default the thing that gives is the price.

So what’s the real reason young people can’t afford a home? Simply put, it’s because most people are not willing to give up any of the values they hold that are restricting supply and increasing demand.

As long as that remains true, prices will continue to soar.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Yesterday's The Tennessee Conservative’s Protect Tennessee’s Borders Rally kind of Fizzled.

by Rod Williams, March 21, 2024- Yesterday's Protect Tennessee's Borders Rally kind of fizzled.  The Tennessee Conservative, the sponsor of the rally said "over 200" people attended. The event had speakers including Sen. Janice Bowling, a spokesman for Mom's for Liberty, Pamela Furr from Americans for Prosperity, Sen. Mark Pody, Rep. Bryan Richey, someone from The Tennessee Conservative, and others. It takes a certain amount of people to put something like this together, to make signs, set up the sound system, man info tables and more. So, with at least 8 parties putting this on, they and their staff or family or co-workers make up a sizeable chunk of those in attendance. And, there are always a few mildly curious at an event like this, and some people who just wander by and stop to see what is going on, So, subtract organizers, speakers, mildly curious and accidental attendees and that leaves only a handful of people attending who make up a public there in support of the rally's agenda. Rallies and protest are fun and yesterday was a pretty day, so I would say the rally was not a success.

I didn't attend it. I had more important things to do. I might have dropped by to observe if I would not have had something more fun to do but was not very motivated to attend.  For one, while I know there is a crisis at the southern border, I did not see a specific focus of this rally. Secondly, I looked at some of the speakers, such as Sen. Janice Bowing who is sponsoring and promoting a nutty piece of nullification legislation, and just did not think these are the type of people I feel an ideological kinship with anymore. Also, I do not identify as part of the same movement as The Tennessee Conservative. I have not documented and cannot enumerate my disagreements, but the organization seems too bombastic, insufficiently thoughtful, and too Trumpinista for my taste. Their reporting conveys a kind of paranoid, conspiratorial mindset.  

Also, the rally's ire was aimed at Governor Bill Lee and a couple other people. I don't know the specifics of the complaint against Lee as it relates to the crisis of illegal immigration. It would take some convincing to convince me he is supporting or facilitating illegal immigration in Tennessee, and I have so much else to read and such little confidence in The Tennessee Conservative's opinion that I have not bother to read their case against him. 

It looks like the rally fizzled and I am not disappointed. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Where a $250K income goes furthest. Memphis is # 2; Nashville #10.

by Rod Williams, March 16, 2024- Money goes a lot further for a person earning $250,000 a year in Memphis and Nashville than in a whole lot of other cities. This is from Stacker. It is shocking how little is left of a $250,000 income in some cities, not that I have ever had to personally be concerned about that.  

"Manhattan residents lose 72% of their income to taxes and cost of living. At the $250K income level, Manhattanites face a 36.8% tax rate. Adjusting for a cost of living that's 125% higher than average, the income yields an estimated $70,133 of purchasing power." Other cities where taxes and a higher cost of living gobble up most of one's money are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D. C., and Boston.

Of Nashville, the article says, "Nashville, with a cost of living that is 4.1% below average and a tax rate of 27.4%, offers an adjusted purchasing power of $189,203 for a $250,000 income. This allows high earners to retain 75.7% of their original income."

No wonder a lot of people with money are flocking to Nashville. 


Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

‘If I run, I intend to win’ — Courtney Johnston Considers Challenging Rep. Andy Ogles in GOP Primary

Council Member
Courtney Johnston

By Stephen Elliott, Nashville Banner, March 18, 2024 - ...  His exaggerated résumé, behavior in Congress and response to the Covenant School shooting are among the reasons cited by some for continuing to oppose the incumbent. Still, party leaders like U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty and former President Donald Trump have stuck with Ogles. 

... One potential primary challenger to Ogles is Courtney Johnston, Metro councilmember for Nashville’s District 26, including the Nashville Zoo and Crieve Hall. 

“The people of Middle Tennessee deserve better than Andy Ogles,” Johnston told the Banner. “We need a tested conservative leader who can deliver and not just talk. I am taking a very close look at the district and am talking to voters. If I run, I intend to win.”

Johnston has been a reliable fundraiser, having brought in more than $50,000 for a 2023 reelection that ultimately was uncontested. On council, Johnston has been a conservative voice who has at times sought to avoid overly partisan conflicts. 

​​“A lot of my colleagues are further left-leaning, but we agree more often than not because good policy is good policy,” Johnston told the Nashville Scene last year. “I’m not out here fighting abortion or LGBT anything, like some conservative-leaning groups want me to and have pressured me to do. That’s not what I’m here to do. But we can all agree on fiscal responsibility.”

Others Weighing, Have Considered a Run

Baxter Lee, a local businessman who comes from a prominent Knoxville family, likely is being kept off the ballot for a second cycle in a row after the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee voted to fast-track a new, stricter bona fide standard for GOP candidates in the state. ...

Tom Guarente, a Nashville-area cybersecurity company executive, has filed paperwork to run as a Republican. He moved to the area six years ago from Ohio, where he briefly ran for Congress a decade ago. 

Rod's Comment: If she runs, she has my vote. Johnson is smart, hardworking, and conservative. She is also reasonable and sane. While being sane should go without saying, in today's Republican Party being sane cannot be taken for granted.  Andy Ogles has been an embarrassment. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories