Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Some Political Trends are Headed in the Right Directions as Wokeness is in Decline.

by Rod Williams, June 12, 2024- It is hard to find political developments to be encouraged about these days. The Republican Party has become a Trump cult and abandoned principled conservatism. Republicans and Democrats do not only disagree; they hate each other. They think the other side is not only wrong, but evil. Political divisions mean Republicans and Democrats cannot be friends or often even worship in church together. 

We are losing control of the seas, and it is doubtful we could counter an aggressive China. As we head for a financial cliff, no one it seems is concerned about the national debt or entitlement reform. Republicans oppose aid to Ukraine and would let Russia just take it and Democrats hand out aid too slowly and with too many restrictions to let Ukraine win. Regardless of who wins the 2024 election, we will likely experience violence and chaos. I could go on, but most news is bad news and I see little to be encouraged about.

Despite the above tone of gloom and doom and list of reasons to despair however, there are a few developments that are encouraging. With so many bad political developments, some trends in the right direction have gone almost unnoticed and uncommented upon, yet to me these developments seem significant. It appears that political wokeness is in retreat. The pendulum is swinging away from recent extremes. Below are some examples.

Defund the police is out. 
Following the George Floyd murder and the subsequent BLM and Antifa riots that swept the county, "defund the police" became a rallying cry across the nation. Liberals wanted to eliminate or drastically reduce police departments and divert resources from police to social workers. This insanity has come to an end. No where did a city actually dissolve their police departments, but in some places, budgets were reduced and underfunded police departments did not get the funding they need to do their job. 

This effort to defund the police was primarily a utopian vision of White liberals. They saw the police as propping up a racist society. Disparity in who had unpleasant encounters with the police, to their minds, did not indicate a dysfunctional Black culture but indicated systemic racism.  As it turns out, most Black residents of crime infested communities wanted a greater police presence in the communities not a lesser police presence. 

Now, almost no one is calling for defunding the police and cities which cut police budgets have, for the most part, restored them. For a report on how the defund the police movement played out in Minneapolis, follow this link. Do a search engine search and the similar stories are common. It seems that now the only people wanting to "defund the police" are Republicans wanting to cut the FBI and Homeland Secuity. 

Colleges are dropping DEI. 
In recent years to promote "diversity, equity, and inclusion" universities compelled student applicants to include a statement on their applications as to what they would do to promote DEI. Compelled speech is contrary to living in a democratic society and is a hallmark of totalitarian and authoritarian societies. We long ago accepted that people cannot be forced to pledge allegiance to the flag, but somehow forcing students to pledge fidelity to DEI seemed acceptable. Not only did students have to say they supported and would promote DEI, but potential professors also had to do the same. This had the effect of eliminating conservative viewpoints from the university.

Quietly, colleges are dropping DEI. One example of where this requirement is being dropped is MIT which you can read about at this link. Some of this cutting of DEI programs and illuminating of DEI gatekeeper questions on applications is the result of red state legislation, but it is often also happening elsewhere. In many places it is the Board of Governors banning the practice. Many large ivy league private universities are dropping the policy. As an example, Harvard’s Largest Faculty Division Will No Longer Require Diversity Statements. 

In addition to requiring students and potential staff to say they support DEI and would promote it; many colleges had created DEI promotion positions on their campuses to monitor DEI efforts and hear complaints of inadequate vigor in carrying out DEI mandates. Quietly, colleges are ending these stand-alone offices. Whether it is bowing to political pressure or responding to donor pressure are simply recognizing that compelled speech is incompatible with the ideas of higher education, this is a welcome trend.

ESG is losing ground as investors push back.
A development of the last few years is the push to make Environmental, Social and Governance a factor for investment decisions. Some state and city pension plans required companies to have a good ESG score to be eligible for investment of public funds. The ESG metric scores a company on a variety of factors such as having policies to fight climate change, promoting sustainable policies, paying for abortions for their female employees and various other liberal objectives. Liberal investor activist have successfully exerted pressure on companies to make ESG a factor in their operations because often few investors take an interest in company's policies and few attend annual stockholders' meetings. This is changing. 

According to Forbes, interest in ESG peaked in 2023 and its sharp decline seemed to have begun. Firms have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholders’ wealth and ESG makes other objectives a priority. Attorney Generals of several U.S. states have sued financial companies that employ ESG. Also, stockholders are pushing back. According to the Wall Street Journal, shareholders have voted on 70 measures opposing traditional ESG initiatives at S&P 500 companies through the end of May this year, up from 30 two years ago and seven in 2020.

Reclaiming the language.
For years now, liberals have perverted the language and instead of saying the word "mom," they say things like "child-bearing people." They come up with such silliness as using the plural pronoun "they" as a single pronoun for a person who does not think of himself or herself as a "he" or "she." The list goes on and on. It is most pronounced in promoting a trans agenda that denies there is such a thing as men and women, but it is also prevalent in other contexts. This is now waning, and it is being made the subject of ridicule. 

The Atlantic is one of the journals to which I subscribe. It is liberal but it is not Mother Jones or The New Republic. Much of the content is not political at all and contains some excellent writing but I think anyone would say the publication is liberal. In a recent issue it had an article The Moral Case Against Euphemism. The subtitle of the article is "Banning words won't make the world more just." 

In the article they report that Sierra Club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. "The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”"

The article goes on for multiple pages reporting on how the language police get sillier and sillier. As an example, one should not use "marginalized" as an adjective. It is acceptable to say, "historically marginalized" but not "marginalized people." That The Atlantic points out what has happened and disapproves is encouraging. 

I have also seen others quietly return to normal. I get the communications from the Tennessee Democratic Party and for a long time, the letter writer of a communication always ended their letter with the writers preferred pronoun following the writer's name. Suddenly, a few months ago, they just stopped the practice.  While most comics are liberals, I have recently seen some slip into their humor jabs at political correctness language and related silliness.

Given the discouraging trends we are seeing in politics and society, these trends may not amount to much, but they are something. I welcome steps in the right direction no matter how small. 

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Courtney Johnston could emerge as the rare primary challenger who outraises the incumbent

Courtney Johnston
Axios Nashville, June 12, 2024- Nashville Councilmember Courtney Johnston has quickly seized on U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles' campaign finance snafu and turned it into fodder for a fundraising drive.

Why it matters: Ogles entered the race with the incumbent's advantage over primary opponent Johnston in terms of name recognition, as well as the endorsement of former President Trump.

Driving the news: Johnston tapped prominent Republican fundraiser Kim Kaegi to raise money for her primary challenge of Ogles. Kaegi previously handled fundraising for top Republicans such as Gov. Bill Lee, former Gov. Bill Haslam and former Sen. Bob Corker. (link )

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Sunday, June 09, 2024

Nashville's Zoning Stupidity and the Wall to Nowhere.

by ALEX PEMBERTON, The Nashville Scene, JUN 4, 2024 - Admit it, East Nashville. We’re all thinking
the same thing: What’s up with the new Dunkin’ on Gallatin and its weird wall to nowhere? 

Is it a future mural canvas to bait bachelorettes with Instagram Moments™? No. Maybe some sort of backdrop for avant-garde performance art? No. 

No, the answer is way more stupid: zoning. 

Zoning for the site dictates that buildings must be built within 15 feet of the sidewalk, and the building facade must extend across at least 60 percent of the parcel’s frontage, with windows making up at least 40 percent of that facade. 

But get this: It turns out the zoning rules don’t require anything behind the facade. (link)

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AG Skrmetti Leads Coalition of 21 State AGs Demanding American Bar Association Stop Requiring Law Schools to Engage in Illegal Racial Discrimination

Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti
June 03, 2024, NASHVILLE – Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and 20 of his fellow state attorneys general sent a letter today to the American Bar Association (ABA) demanding the group immediately stop requiring law schools, as part of the accreditation process, to treat students and faculty differently based on race. The ABA serves as the accrediting body for American law schools.

The ABA's policy is set out in Standard 206 of its Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools 2023–2024. The letter explains that Standard 206 cannot be squared with the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (SFFA). The ABA is considering revisions to that Standard in light of SFFA, but the proposed changes continue to include the unlawful requirement that law schools engage in race-based admissions and hiring. The AGs' letter urges the ABA to comply with federal law and with the ABA’s stated commitment to set the legal and ethical foundation for the nation.

“The rule of law cannot long survive if the organization that accredits legal education requires every American law school to ignore the Constitution and civil rights law,” said Attorney General Skrmetti. “The American Bar Association has long pursued the high calling of promoting respect for the law and the integrity of the legal profession, and we call on the organization to recommit to those ideals and ensure that its standards for law schools comport with federal law. If the standards continue to insist on treating students and faculty differently based on the color of their skin, they will burden every law school in America with punitive civil rights litigation.”

The letter highlights that law school accreditation rests on a tightrope walk between Standard 206’s commands and the requirements of federal law. Furthermore, the letter discusses the harms that flow from depriving people of educational and employment opportunities solely because of their race. The letter concludes with the bottom line that no matter how benign the intent behind Standard 206, it cannot lawfully be implemented in its current or revised forms. The Supreme Court has made clear that well-intentioned racial discrimination is just as illegal as malicious discrimination.

Joining Attorney General Skrmetti in this letter to the American Bar Association are attorneys general from the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousisana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

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Skrmetti’s dedication to upholding the rule of law.

by MEGAN PODSIEDLIK, reposted from The Pamphleteer, June 9, 2024 - Last month, in the wake of his decision to sue the federal Department of Education over its “dangerous overhaul” of Title IX, Attorney General Skrmetti found himself at odds with GOP hardliners. Amidst the Biden administration's efforts to redefine “sex” to include “gender identity,” introducing gender fluidity in locker rooms and youth sporting events alike, the AG encouraged Tennessee schools to comply with the changes until the matter was clarified in court, upsetting and confusing his base.

“It is unconstitutional and you know it,” said one commenter on X.  “Your oath is to the constitution. Obeying Biden's dictatorial decree is a betrayal of that oath, and as described in the constitution, ‘the people.’” While those on the right of this issue have expressed disappointment over Skrmetti’s by-the-book approach, many on the left have categorized the AG as acrusader for the “radical right” throughout his short tenure. But there’s a bit more to glean from Skrmetti’s dedication to upholding the rule of law.

“Obviously, we want to get clarity on that quickly, because if the rules aren't going into effect, people don't need to be spinning their wheels trying to create new policies to comply with them,” Skrmetti told The Pamphleteer during a phone interview. “We have a hearing on our preliminary injunction request coming up in June, and so we should know in June whether or not these rules will be going into effect on August 1st.”

The AG wasn’t dismissive of the state of limbo created by the pending litigation. “We try to get injunctions quickly, and that way at least they're not under the burden of the illegal rules during the pendency of the case,” he said. Skrmetti was also optimistic that his office might get some answers before the changes take effect in the upcoming school year. “We've got a judge that I think recognizes the need for clarity and has a pretty expedited schedule for us.”

At the end of the day, the AG said, Tennessee schools can set their own guidelines. “...It's largely a spending policy issue,” he said of the new mandates. “It's not really a matter of not complying, it's a matter of, ‘Are you going to take this federal money or not?’”

That being said, Skrmetti plans to fight Biden’s changes to the bitter end. “Under this radical and illegal attempt to rewrite the statute, if a man enters a woman’s locker room and a woman complains that makes her uncomfortable, the woman will be subject to investigation and penalties for violating the man’s civil rights,” reads a statement released by his office after he announced the suit in April. “Federal bureaucrats have no power to rewrite laws passed by the people’s elected representatives, and I expect the courts will put a stop to this unconstitutional power grab.”

Skrmetti’s battle over Title IX is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting today’s youth. The AG also told us he hopes the US Supreme Court will take up the L.W. case, which addresses Tennessee’s “prohibition on juveniles getting hormone treatments, puberty blockers, or surgeries for gender transition purposes.” 

“Over and over, the federal courts had held that states could not pass these laws,” he told us. “We were the first state to win. We filed an emergency stay motion with the Sixth Circuit and got an opinion saying states do have the authority to regulate, limit, and prohibit pediatric transgender treatments. We got an even better opinion from Chief Judge Sutton when they went back and heard the case more thoroughly.”

His hope is that a ruling from the nation’s highest court might provide clarity when it comes to dealing with future gender identity cases. “The Bostock case is pretty narrow and deals with sex discrimination in the employment context, and explicitly excluded a lot of other considerations,” said Skrmetti. “There's still open questions about how the equal protection clause of the Constitution might apply. I don't know that the Supreme Court will take this, but if they don't take this case, they have to answer some of these big questions. Hopefully soon, because there's a lot of litigation going on that would be resolved with more clarity from the court.” 

Rod's Comment: Excellent reporting! The Pamphleteer is a local conservative voice of sanity at a time when many on the right have lost their mind. Please subscribe at this link

Skrmetti takes a lot of heat from the left, but unfortunately there are loud voices on the right who think anyone not ready to fire on Fort Sumter is a sell-out to the Deep State. We are fortunate to have Skrmetti as Tennessee's Attorney General.

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