Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Young Republicans March Meeting, Tuesday, March 9.

 
For Facebook page follow this link

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Why the lights went out in Texas. It wasn't just because of windmills. It wasn't even mainly because of windmills.

by Rod Williams - When the hard freeze, snow, and ice hit Texas in mid February and the lights went out, some, almost gleeful, climate change skeptics said, "See, see, windmills don't work."  My Facebook page was full of these type comments and memes.

Some windmills in Texas did freeze up, but that was only a minor part of the problem.  Even where there was a windmill failure in Texas that does not prove that windmills are a failed technology, as many of my Facebook friends wanted to claim.  In Texas, windmills are not designed to withstand days of sub-zero temperatures and freezing rain. Below about 4 degrees and they shut down. There is a reason why wind turbines in New York keep working in bitter cold weather unlike the ones in Texas. If you care to know why, follow the above link.

In less detail than the story linked above, the Wall Street Journal, explains it more succinctly: "Given the state’s normally warm climate, not all of Texas’ power plants are fully equipped with winterization measures—protections plants use to prevent freezing of pipes, sensors, motors and other components. In northern climates, many winterization measures are permanent and plants are housed within entire building structures for protection from the cold. But experts said that because of Texas’ summer heat, plant operators need to keep components exposed."

The same reason windmills failed in Texas is the same reason a nuclear power plant failed and natural gas failed.  They were not designed for that kind of weather. Actually, natural gas, not wind turbines, was the main driver of the Texas power shortage.

In Texas a lot of things happened to cause the power system to fail. A system that was not designed for days of below zero weather was a major part of the problem and not only windmills failed but so did one of Texas' two nuclear plants and natural gas plants.  Also, however, there was a more complex reason, involving having the wrong financial incentives in place for utilities and an inadequate power grid and regulatory failure. It is explained fully for anyone who wants to actually read an article rather than just consume individual factoids that support one's predetermined opinion or someone who wants to dig deeper than simply have their prejudices reinforced by a cute meme. 

Anytime, I post anything that looks at the nuances of a policy or disagrees with what Rush Limbaugh or some other dogmatic conservative talk show host has said on a subject or something Donald Trump may have said, I am denounced as a liberal or a RINO.  What happened to conservatives?  I know there are ideologically-driven, close-mined, and even conspiracy-believing people on the left, but I think the right end of the political spectrum, has them beat.  I used to think conservatives were so much more rational and reasonable than liberals; not so much anymore.  I don't think it is me that has changed; conservatives have become the know-nothing party of stupid people.  My friend Mark Rogers the other day said of something conservatives were arguing as, "crazier than a gang of QAnon worshipers trying to play Trivial Pursuit."  I love that and think it describes a lot of conservative reasoning these days.

If I reference a source other than one of the new simpleton right wing media publication, the source is rejected. If it is a mainstream source, forget it.  The Washington Post or New York Times or any other liberal mainstream source is simply dismissed as "fake news."  Even long established respected conservative journals are dismissed as "establishment," "RINO," "never Trumpers," "neo-con," or simply "liberal." The other day I referenced an article that appeared in Reason, and a commenter called Reason a liberal publication.  I often disagree with the editorial position of Reason. They are libertarian and I am a mainstream conservative, but they do publish well researched, thought-provoking articles.  I am afraid many opinionated Trump-type populist conservatives don't know the difference between "libertarian," and "librarian." 

Back to the topic at hand. Below are four articles that explain what went wrong in Texas. There are two articles from the Wall Street Journal and one from National Review.  These should be sources conservatives trust.  The other is from The Economist, which you may not know.  They have a more liberal position on some issues than I do, but they are rational, very data-driven, and provide deeply detailed in-depth reporting.   Rather than a journal of opinion, they are a weekly news magazine for people who want to be well-informed.  They are my favorite source for just hard news.

WSJ: Texas Spins Into the Wind

WSJ: The Texas Freeze: Why the Power Grid Failed  

National Review: Ask an Engineer

The Economist: The freeze in Texas exposes America’s infrastructural failings

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Proposed constitutional amendment which would give legislature a hand picking attorney general advances.

By Rod Williams - Currently in Tennessee, the state's chief law enforcement official, the attorney general is appointed to an eight-year term by the Supreme Court, behind closed doors in secret session. This is the way it has historically been done. However, for most or our history, the Supreme Court was elected which at least resulted in some degree of making the process democratic. Now, the Supreme Court is appointed, yet the process of selecting the attorney general has not changed. 


Under a proposed change which would require amending the State constitution, the Supreme Court would make the appointment to a six-year term but it would be made in open court with a recorded vote. Then, the appointment would be subject to confirmation or rejection by the state legislature within 60 days of the appointment.

I tend to favor this change. For more on this issue follow this link

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Tax dollars to mismanaged cities and states is like giving crack to a crack addict.

by Rod Williams - There is a lot to not like in the Biden $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. The plan calls for sending another $1,400 per person to eligible recipients. This would be in addition to the $600 payments that was approved by Congress in December and would make for a total of $2,000. The new payments would go to adult dependents over the age of 17. So a dad, mom and a couple dependents over the age of 17 could mean one household gets $8,000. That is money the government borrows.

Also, now, illegal aliens could also get the money if the illegal alien is married to a citizen. In my view we should not be giving any of this funding to illegal aliens.

One of the worst things that luckily will not be in the bill is increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Senate parliamentarian ruled congress could not do that through reconciliation.  That makes what is still a terrible bill only a little less terrible. 

There are various things in the bill to increase government dependency, such as increasing by 15% the food stamp allowance, increasing the federal addition to a state's unemployment benefit from the current $300 a week to $400 a week, $25 billion in new rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households on top of the $25 billion approved in December. It also includes a lot of money to help people pay utility bills and extends the moratorium on eviction. These generous benefits may slow the recovery. If people are better off not working than working, they may not be in a hurry to return to work. 

There is something for almost everybody in the bill. There is money for schools, for small business, more subsidy for health insurance, Indian tribes, NASA, the military, money for transit systems, $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the list goes on and on.  Congress just kept hanging shiny ornaments on this Christmas tree.  A lot of the money will not help with economic recovery because much of it will not have to be spend until years in the future.  For a detailed list of what is in the bill, follow this link.

In my view, one of the worst things in the bill is $350 billion for states and cities to meet budgetary shortfalls. "To meet budgetary shortfalls," means a city or state has to need the money to get the money.  Essentially, this is a bailout for failing red states and big cities dominated for years and years by Democrats.  Republican ran cities and states are not having the same budgetary shortfalls as Democrat cities and states.  Many of the cities in dire financial straights are in that condition as a result of many years of spending more money than they were taking in. One of the worst failures is to adequately account for pension fund deficiencies and unfunded retiree health care obligations. Most of these cities and states were deep in debt before the coronavirus ever hit.  This bill will in essence make well managed city and states bail out mismanaged cities and states. 

In an article from Taxpayer Education Foundation titled Let Illinois State Government Fail, the authors examine this issue using Chicago and Illinois as the example. According the Truth In Accounting’s (TIA) analysis, Illinois ranks 49th in the country with a grade of “F” for health in finances, while Tennessee is the fifth highest ranked state with a grade of "A."  Illinois did not get their "F" overnight and neither did Tennessee earn its "A" overnight. 

In economics, there is the concept of "moral hazard." That is the likelihood of investors to take greater risks because of the knowledge that losses incurred as a result of those risks will be covered by another. Why act responsibly if I know the government will bail me out if I act irresponsibly?

In the article referenced above a Chicagoan is quoted as saying, "Like any kind of addict, the worst thing you can do is continue to feed the addiction. If the federal government bails out city and state governments, those governments will get away with their outright abuse of the taxpayers they purportedly represent.”

You don't help a crack addict by giving them more crack. 

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Monday, March 1, 2021

Did mainstream Republicans becoming captive to "extreme Libertarian ideology?"

by Rod Williams, 3/1/2021- Commentary in Nashville Star says mainstream voters in both parties feel that neither major party represents them, and that their opinions and wishes hold little sway over government policy.  "Establishment Republicans failed the average American by becoming captive to extreme Libertarian ideology," says the article.  

What??? I didn't notice that. Mainstream Republicans, nor Trump Republicans, did much to reduce government dependency, to legalize marijuana, to end civil asset forfeiture, or do much else that I would consider "extreme libertarian." If anything, I see mainstream Republicans as insufficiently libertarian.

Trump eased some burdensome regulations by executive order and got a tax bill passed that cut taxes and instituted some minor criminal justice reform,  so if that was "libertarian," that was Trump Republicans; not mainstream Republicans. 

Can anyone give me an example of mainstream Republicans becoming captive to "extreme Libertarian ideology? " I can't think of any.

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Analysis: Nashville should ban facial recognition technology

by Coleman Harris, Nashville Outlook - In 2017, the Metro Nashville Council overwhelmingly passed an ordinance 25-2 taking steps to limit the use of surveillance technology by the city government. The resulting law, Section 13.08.080, requires council approval when placing surveillance devices onto public rights-of-way, with “surveillance” covering technology from biometric software to RFID scanners. 


In short, the law does not prevent the use of technologies like facial recognition. ... does not apply to the Nashville Electric Service, the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. ... does not apply to surveillance conducted by law enforcement... it is often inaccurate and biased (read the article)

Rod's Comment: Technology can be helpful in catching the bad guys but so can illegal searches and seizures, beating confessions out of suspects, and violating due process. I am not willing to sacrifice liberty for the sake of more efficient law enforcement. This issue needs to be revisited and debated.  

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The Davidson County Election Commission spent $214,000 to keep the the Nashville Taxpayers Protection Act off the ballot.

by Rod Williams - The Davidson County Election Commission spend more than $214,000 in 2020, to keep the Nashville Taxpayers Protection Act off the ballot. The Commission hired Bill Koch, a former Tennessee Supreme Court justice, to make their case before Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, who ruled that the proposed referendum was “facially unconstitutional.” Instead of using Metro legal for this purpose the Commission hired Koch on a no-bid contract.


Since then, the anti-tax measure has been reworded to address the concerns of the court, yet still accomplishes the same thing. The measure would revert the property tax rate to its 2019 levels before the 34 percent increase. Other things it would do are these:
  • Hold property tax increases to 3% per year
  • Make it easier to remove Metro officials by reducing the number of signatures needed to force a recall election. 
  • Abolish lifetime health insurance benefits for Metro Council members and other elected officials. 
  • Preserve voter-approved charter amendments by changing the charter itself to say those amendments could only be repealed by future voter referendums. 
  • Make it harder to give away Metro property by requiring 31 Metro Council votes to approve land conveyances instead of the current requirement of 21 votes. 
  • Revert pro sports stadiums and the surrounding developments back to taxpayers in the event a team leaves town or fails to play in its venue for 24 straight months.
Currently the sponsor of the anti-tax measure is gathering signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The last effort generated over 21,000 signatures, which was more signatures than needed. This time, the bar is higher. More than 32,000 good signatures are needed. Copies of the petition have been mailed to voters to sign and return. Time is running out. All petitions must be returned by March 5th. 

If you have a petition and have not signed and returned it. Please do so now. Do it today! 

Despite making the changes necessary to satisfy the court, if enough signatures are gathered to get the petition on the ballot, we will likely see the Commission make new arguments to try to keep the proposal off the ballot. A spokesman for Mayor John Cooper has indicated such would be the case. Metro charter experts allege that the renewed proposal remains legally flawed. I am not an attorney but I have spoken to Jim Roberts who is behind the proposal effort and he has assured me, the new language satisfies every objection of the Court. Also the new proposal is severable, meaning if one part of the proposal is ruled invalid the other provisions are not automatically thrown out. 

For more on this issue and source material see link, link, and link

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

The danger of an Article V convention and why term limits are a bad idea.

by Rod Williams - There is a bill introduced in the Tennessee House that makes application to Congress to call an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the U. S. Constitution setting term limits for members of Congress. This is something that some on the right brings up from time to time.  I oppose both and Article V convention and term limits for Congress.  

My primary objection to term limits is that it would empower and strengthen the bureaucracy at the expense of the voice of the people.  We already have a problem with unelected bureaucrats having too much power. I wish we had a smaller government with less authority, but that is not the reality.  For any member of Congress to become an expert on all of federal governance is simply too much to expect.  For new congressmen there is a demanding steep learning curve.  

The staff on an agency of government who understands all of the nuances of a policy can "snow" a new member of congress. We need members of congress who have institutional knowledge and know how policies came about and why things are done the way they are done.  Fewer members of Congress with time on the job means a greater reliance on bureaucrats and a greater reliance on lobbyist. Also, where tried, as an example at the local level with our own Metro Council, I do not think term limits has resulted in better governance. 

The below analysis and suggested reading on this topic come from Tennessee Eagle Forum. Many of you may know Bobbie Patra the long-term president of the organization.  Tennessee Eagle Forum is a source I look to for trusted information and analysis of what is going on in the State legislature. They are an organization deserving of one's support. To subscribe to the Tennessee Eagle Forum newsletter or make a contribution follow this link


 ARTICLE V CONVENTION FOR TERM LIMITS:


HJR 0008 by *Todd ,  Eldridge, Mannis, Garrett, Zachary, Doggett, Calfee, Williams, Ogles, Bricken, Hurt 
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to Congress for the purpose of calling an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution to set a limit on the number of terms to which a person may be elected as a member of the Congress of the United States.

Looking around at the world in which we are living today, this sounds like a great idea. But.....an Article V convention is completely  uncharted territory and there really are important things to know about:

 THREE CONSIDERATIONS:
1. In today’s political climate, with the way this election cycle played out, with Sen, Chuck Schumer and Cong. Nancy Pelosi in charge of the US Senate and the US House and the main stream media being their allies, do we really think it is a good idea for Congress to ‘call’ for a Constitutional Convention and think they can be controlled beyond what they want to see happen???
2.  Problems with calling an Article V Constitutional Convention
3. Problems with Term Limits - we have Term Limits - they are called elections, every two, four and six years.

Eagle Forum has long opposed taking this risky action in spite of the assurances that everything would be all right - that is speculation since we have never had one since the convention to amend the Articles of Confederation. This is a very important subject with significant consequences.  Please look at the articles linked below to learn the details. 

States Likely Could Not Control Constitutional Convention on Balanced Budget Amendment or Other Issues

Don’t Be Fooled by Article V Conventions

TWENTY QUESTIONS ABOUT A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

The Problems with ARTIFICIAL Term Limits

Five reasons to oppose congressional term limits


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Friday, February 26, 2021

Bellevue Breakfast club meets March 6. Special guest speaker State Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson

Greetings Breakfast Club Members, 


We have another pandemic month behind us as we inch closer to normalcy in the great state of Tennessee. 

We have a great guest speaker this month, as State Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson, has agreed to join us this month. We will be meeting back at River Art Studio, at 8329 Sawyer Brown Rd., in River Plantation, next to Plantation Pub. Unfortunately we will not have refreshments, and we will be following CDC protocols. 

Please join us. March 6, at 830 am. as we welcome Spring and Senator Jack Johnson.  

See you then, 
Lonnie

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