Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eminent domain vs. property rights

City is being used for private profit

By COUNCILMAN MICHAEL CRADDOCK, The Tennessean, July 31, 2008

Twenty-three Music Circle E. is a very small parcel of real estate that is owned by Mrs. Joy Ford, a country music songwriter and producer. Her name is on the deed.

I am sure that as I write this article, Mrs. Ford feels like her world is crumbling around her. After all, she is being forced to defend her private property rights against the 800-pound gorilla commonly known as the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. (link)


It's not always about money; it is about respect for ownership

Our View, The Tennessean, July 31, 2008

Nashville's Music Row was once a place where individualism was valued.

Large record labels have always been an important part of the Row, it's true, but they co-existed with small publishers and other cottage industries, all taking their chances at success.
The Row, and Nashville as a whole, could lose that reputation if the Metro Development and Housing Authority is allowed to seize a small-business owner's property to be handed over to a large commercial development.

In June, MDHA sought Circuit Court approval to declare Joy Ford's building at 23 Music Circle E. "blighted," which would enable the agency to claim the property under a redevelopment district set up in 1999. (link)

Comment: The entire Opinion Page of today's Tennessean is devoted to this topic. At the same link as listed above, you can also find the article "Such districts save Nashville from decay" by MDHA's Phil Ryan, and "Lionstone project will bring jobs, revenue city needs" by Lionstone's Doug McKinnon. Both make the case in defense of condemnation.

I am pleased and pleasantly surprised to see The Tennessean take such a bold stand for private, property rights. Often The Tennessean seems to me to be wishy-washy and moderately liberal, sort of the local version of USA Today. In this case however, The Tennessean has taken a strong position and one with which I happen to agree. In their editorial, they stated "There are limits to what urban redevelopment should do, and taking someone's property against their will for purposes that are not expressly for the public good is simply going too far." Congratulations to The Tennessean!

Congratulations, also, to Councilman Michael Craddock for showing leadership on this issue.

The fight is not over. Maybe justice will prevail. What can we do to help?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The House of Representative Apologizes for Slavery

The House of Representatives today formally apologized to African-Americans “on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow.” (link) The resolutions says that Africans forced into slavery "were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage" and that black Americans today continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws that fostered discrimination and segregation.

If I were in the Congress, I would have went along with this resolution and mumbled an "aye", not that I think it does any good or really means much but it does no harm. The vote was by voice vote so no one in the Congress can be disproved it they say they voted for it or against it or say they simply didn’t vote. Congress is routinely passing resolution that commemorate this or that or recognize people for their accomplishments, or express a sentiment of the House on some topic, so one more resolution expressing the will of the House of Representatives will do no harm.

What does it really mean? It is an apology to “African-Americans” “on behalf of the people of the United States.” Well, African Americans are some of the “people of the United States” so African-Americans who are the descendants of slaves are included in the apology to African Americans. How logical is that?

What if you are the descendant of immigrants who were not even here during the era of slavery? What if your ancestors never owned slaves and maybe were abolitionist, or died fighting against slavery, or marched for civil rights? It doesn’t matter; Congress just apologized for slavery on your behalf.

I would like to have seen the bill expanded to include an apology for other sins against African-Americans. The Congress should have apologized for the “fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery, and Jim Crow, and the welfare enslavement, dependency and destruction of the Black community caused by the Great Society and other welfare enactments.” I could have enthusiastically supported such a resolution.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Taxpayers On Hook To Bail Out Fannie, Freddie

by John McCain

Americans should be outraged at the latest sweetheart deal in Washington. Congress will put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It's a tribute to what these two institutions -- which most Americans have never heard of -- have bought with more than $170-million worth of lobbyists in the past decade.

With combined obligations of roughly $5-trillion, the rapid failure of Fannie and Freddie would be a threat to mortgage markets and financial markets as a whole. Because of that threat, I support taking the unfortunate but necessary steps needed to keep the financial troubles at these two companies from further squeezing American families. But let us not forget that the threat that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to financial markets is a tribute to crony capitalism that reflects the power of the Washington establishment.

Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from lending institutions and reissue them as marketable securities -- creating a liquid market for mortgage debt that lowers borrowing costs for prospective homeowners. The two institutions have easy access to borrow at low interest rates because they were originally government agencies and continue to be viewed as being backed by the government. The irony is that by bailing them out, Congress is about to make that perception a reality, even though government backing is no longer needed for their original mission. There are lots of banks, savings and loans, and other financial institutions that can do this job.

Fannie and Freddie are the poster children for a lack of transparency and accountability. Fannie Mae employees deliberately manipulated financial reports to trigger bonuses for senior executives. Freddie Mac manipulated its earnings by $5-billion. They've misled us about their accounting, and now they are endangering financial markets. More than two years ago, I said: "If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose." Fannie and Freddie's lobbyists succeeded; Congress failed to act. They've stayed in business, grown, and profited mightily by showering money on lobbyists and favors on the Washington establishment. Now the bill has come due.

What should be done? We are stuck with the reality that they have grown so large that we must support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the current rough spell. But if a dime of taxpayer money ends up being directly invested, the management and the board should immediately be replaced, multimillion dollar salaries should be cut, and bonuses and other compensation should be eliminated. They should cease all lobbying activities and drop all payments to outside lobbyists. And taxpayers should be first in line for any repayments.

Even with those terms, sticking Main Street Americans with Wall Street's bill is a shame on Washington. If elected, I'll continue my crusade for the right reform of the institutions: making them go away. I will get real regulation that limits their ability to borrow, shrinks their size until they are no longer a threat to our economy, and privatizes and eliminates their links to the government.

It's time to get America on the right track by creating the jobs that will build a strong foundation under our housing markets. We need to address the high cost of gasoline and other energy sources, and transform health care to be cheaper, higher quality and built around the needs of patients. But most of all, we need to reform Washington and wrest control from the special interests that have created this problem.

Commentary
I have wrestled with trying to come to terms with my position on the question of the bailouts. As a housing counselor, I see first-hand the problems in the mortgage industry. The fact that lenders were making loans that should never have been made was not a surprise to anyone who works in the field. I saw it coming and knew it was lunacy.

I see very few pundits who support the bailouts. Many progressives oppose it as a bailout for the rich. However, in truth, there is no way to bail out the homeowners with bad loans that does not also bail out the lenders, unless the government assumes extraordinary power and essentially nationalized the financial sector of the economy. Such action would destroy our economy and result in untold misery. Only the most radical of socialist and the most financially illiterate would advocate such a move.

Many conservatives oppose the bailouts because they believe that in a market economy the government should not protect companies against failure. If the tax payers bail-out these financial giants, they argue, the prospect of failure will be removed and the evaluation of risk will be skewed in making future, financial decisions. In theory, I agree with the free market absolutist, however, as a pragmatist I believe we cannot allow these financial giants to fail. A failure of these giants could lead to a meltdown in the economy and a depression on the magnitude of the Great Depression. The responsible thing to do is stop the economy from a slide into chaos.

I agree with John McCain. We should go ahead and grant these investments and make loans available, should they become necessary. However, strings should come attached; their influence should be curtailed, and a policy should be pursed that, overtime, privatizes these financial giants.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Music Row land grab should be condemned


photo by Jeanne Reasonover/The Tennnessean
Joy Ford pictured above, owner of Country International Records, explains how the city closed a public alley which means her property can no longer accommodate artist tour buses.
by Gail Kerr, The Tennessean, Sunday July 27, 2008

City officials have closed her alley. Her property is barricaded on three sides. But inside the little brown brick building on Music Row, songwriters are still making music under Joy Ford's tutorage.

The Metro Development and Housing Agency is trying to take Ford's business and land. Not for a road or a bridge or some essential service. For a 225,000-square-foot office and retail high-rise for a private out-of-state developer. (link)

Commentary
The city is out to take Joy Ford's property. They have offered her large sums of money, they closed the alley that accesses the back of her property and they have started condemnation proceedings. It is an outrage.

This is an excellent article by Gail Kerr. It not only explains the current circumstances surrounding the effort to take away Joy Ford's property but gives a brief summary of other past cases of government abuse of property owners in Nashville. The article also provides some local flavor. Despite the role of the multinational corporate interest in the music business, there are still many cottage industry players like Joy Ford. Unfortunately, the city fathers are ready to kick the Joy Fords to the curb, take their property, and turn it over to the big developers.

Nashville is still a small town, despite being a big city, so someone will probably send this post to Gail Kerr of the Tennnessean and to Phil Ryan of MDHA. I have known both Gail and Phil for many years, both from the days I was a member of the Metro Council and from my roll in the non-profit housing sector. If anyone is reading this who knows Joy Ford, please send her a copy.

Dear Gail,
This is an excellent article. I always read you columns and enjoy them immensely. I am somewhat critical of the quality of the Tennessean and think that it, like many newspapers across the country, has consistently gotten worse over the years. I think you, however, have emerged as a great writer. I am pleased to see you cover this story. You bring a human element to it. Please continue the coverage and don't let the story die. I give you my "amen."

Dear Phil,
I know you are not a bad person and you are only doing your job, but you disappoint me. I am generally proud of the work that MDHA does. We have had one of the nations few successful HOPE VI programs. We have well-managed public housing. We have had a lot of success in expanding homeownership and affordable housing. Down down development has been impressive. I am especially pleased with the development in the gulch. A lot of the credit for the impressive development of Nashville goes to you and you have a difficult job. However, Phil, you are the bad guy in this. It is simply wrong to take another's property just because you have a better use for it. This little piece of property is not charming, but it is not "blighted." That a big development would increase the tax base is insufficient justification for taking what is not yours. Please back off. Let the development of this area be delayed a few years. Let the development wrap around Ms Fords property. Why? Because as Joy Ford says, "This is America."

Dear Joy,
I don't know you, but I feel like I do. Hang in there. If you have a fund set up to help you with your legal fees, let me know. I will make a small contribution and post the information on this blog. Also, do you have a petition we can sign. Should I contact my Councilman? Please keep me informed. What can I do to help?

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Better Planet: Nuke Power is Earth's Friend

It’s time to replace coal power with wind and, yes, nuclear.

by William Sweet, Discover

Using coal to make electricity accounts for about a third of America’s carbon emissions. As a result, tackling emissions from coal-fired power plants represents our best opportunity to make sharp reductions in greenhouse gases.

Fortunately, we already have the technology to do that. Unfortunately, right now the United States is addicted to coal, a cheap, abundant power source. Burning coal produces more than half the country’s electricity, despite its immense human and environmental costs. Particulates and other air pollutants from coal-fired power plants cause somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. Fifty tons of mercury—one-third of all domestic mercury emissions—are pumped into the atmosphere annually from coal plants. In addition, the extraction of coal, from West Virginia to Wyoming, devastates the physical environment, and its processing and combustion produce gigantic volumes of waste.

For the last decade, coal-burning utilities have been fighting a rearguard action, resisting costly antipollution measures required by environmental legislation. At the same time, they have been holding out the prospect of “clean coal”—in which carbon is captured and stored as coal is burned. But clean-coal technologies have yet to be demonstrated on a large scale commercially, and by the admission of even the president’s own climate-technology task force, clean coal doesn’t have any prospect of making a big dent in the climate problem in the next 15 to 20 years.

By comparison, nuclear and wind power are proven technologies that emit no carbon and whose environmental risks and costs are thoroughly understood and which can make an immediate difference for the better. (link)

Commentary
For those of us who accept the science of global warming and think we must find a way to curtail greenhouse emissions, we have reason to be disheartening. Meaningless, ineffective measures such as higher CAFE standards and ethanol mandates have been passed which do next to nothing to solve the problem. Our President for the last 8 years has shown no leadership on the issue and has silenced those who wanted to warn us of the seriousness of the issue. Cynical Democratic leaders advocate combating global warming and advocate lower gas prices in the same sentence. A terribly flawed Cap and Trade bill, which would have transferred vast amounts of wealth, perhaps destroyed our economy and done virtually nothing to curtail greenhouse emissions, was wisely defeated but promises to be brought up again next year. "Green" has become a chic identity, a lifestyle, and a fashion statement but not a call for action.

Yet, the solution is at hand, if only there was the political will. The three most important things we could do are (1) pass a carbon tax, (2) embrace nuclear energy, and (3) promote wind power. By most accounts we have 10 to 15 years to solve the problem but time is running out.

Wind power alone, the most popular of the options, will not solve this problem. Nuclear energy is a major part of the solution, yet is opposed by most environmentalist and we lack political leaders who will advocate for it.

New nuclear power plants are much safer than the generation of power plants of the past. Opponents of nuclear energy always trot out Chernobyl as a reason not to build nuclear power plants, when Chernobyl was a plant that would never have been approved anywhere except Russia. The problem of nuclear waste disposal is exaggerated and is offered as another reason not to pursue nuclear energy. Many opponents of nuclear power cite nuclear proliferation as a reason to oppose nuclear energy. Does anybody honestly think that whether Tehran or Pyongyang produces atomic bombs depends on how many reactors the United States decides to build in the next 10 to 20 years?

The best friend global warming ever had may be the environmentalist. However, they are wasting valuable time and energy preaching the virtues of properly inflating your tires and turning down thermostats, while standing in the way of real solutions. The environment is too important to be left up to environmentalist. Those of us who take the challenge of global warming seriously must not let the environmentalist stand in the way of policies that can save the planet. It is time to go nuclear.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Obama Star


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Great Obama Satire from the UK

From The Times, July 25, 2008, by Gerald Baker

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow. (link)

Comment: This is a great piece of writing. It is very clever and captures the messianic adoration being bestowed upon Obama.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The seven dwarfs always left to go work in the mine early each morning.
As always, Snow White stayed home doing her domestic chores.


As lunchtime approached, she would prepare their lunch and carry it to the mine.


One day as she arrived at the mine with the lunch, she saw that there had been a terrible cave-in.

Tearfully, and fearing the worst, Snow White began calling out, hoping against hope that the dwarfs had somehow survived.

'Hello!...Hello!' she shouted. 'Can anyone hear me? Hello!'

For a long while, there was no answer.
Losing hope, Snow White again shouted, 'Hello! Is anyone down there?'

Just as she was about to give up all hope, she heard a faint voice from deep within the mine, singing . . ...


'Vote for Barack Obama! - Vote for Barack Obama!'

Snow White fell to her knees, crossed herself and prayed, 'Oh, thank you, God! At least Dopey is still alive...



This was plucked from a chat group where it was posted without attribution. Author unknown. For you people who may not realize this is a humor, there is no use searching Snopes to see if it is really true. It is not. It really didn't happen. IT IS A JOKE.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is Nuclear Energy Our Best Hope?

by Gwyneth Cravens, Discover

Despite its negative image, nuclear energy may be the most efficient and realistic means of meeting the rapidly-growing demand for power in the United States. by Gwyneth Cravens

Four years ago this month, James Lovelock upset a lot of his fans. Lovelock was revered in the green movement for developing the Gaia hypothesis, which links everything on earth to a dynamic, organic whole. Writing in the British newspaper The Independent, Lovelock stated in an op-ed: “We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear, the one safe, available energy source—now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.”

Lovelock explained that his decision to endorse nuclear power was motivated by his fear of the consequences of global warming and by reports of increasing fossil-fuel emissions that drive the warming. Jesse Ausubel, head of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, recently echoed Lovelock’s sentiment. “As a green, I care intensely about land-sparing, about leaving land for nature,” he wrote. To reach the scale at which they would contribute importantly to meeting global energy demand, renewable sources of energy such as wind, water, and biomass cause serious environmental harm. Measuring renewables in watts per square meter, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors.”

All of this has led several other prominent environmentalists to publicly favor new nuclear plants. I had a similar change of heart. For years I opposed nuclear power, but while I was researching my book Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, my views completely turned around. (link)

Commentary

If one accepts the scientific consensus, as I do, that global warming is a very serious problem and must be addressed and be addressed soon, there is little to be encouraged about. Kyoto has been a dismal failure. The world's output of greenhouse gases continues to increase rather than decrease. The carbon trading and carbon off-set mechanisms are scandal-ridden and are ineffective. In 2007 the US passed new CAFE standards, which will take years to have any impact and then, only minimal. In 2008 the US Congress considered, and wisely rejected, a seriously flawed Cap and Trade bill. If the next Congress should revive and pass the bill, it will enrich some, at the expense of others. It may also very well destroy the economy, while having minimal impact on our carbon output. The G-8 summit passed a very weak declaration to do something about global warming, someday and even that was rejected by India and China. The promise of ethanol turned out to be false. Ethanol has led to higher food prices, increased starvation in the undeveloped world, and has done little to curtail greenhouse gases.

Looking for bright spots in a gloomy picture, gas prices have increased, which for the first time ever has resulted in Americans reducing the amount of driving they do. The bad news is that politicians of both parties are pandering to a public which wants lower gas prices. Another piece of good news is that, thanks to the efforts of oilman T. Bone Pickens, there is a major push to promote wind power. This renewable resource looks like a viable, alternative energy source. Wind power alone, however, can not meet our energy needs.

Nuclear energy may be our best hope. Nuclear energy may be able to curtail global warming in time to avoid a calamity. This energy source would definitely have to be coupled with other alternative sources of clean energy; policies that curb carbon consumption, and futher investment in some promising new technological developments in carbon sequestration. Nuclear is not without its problems, but not using nuclear energy is more threatening than using it. In the above article, the author makes this argument. Unfortunately, many of the people who are most passionate and proactive about global warming are also the same people most passionate about stopping nuclear energy development.

James Lovestock, one of the world's most prominent environmentalist, has gone from being an opponent of nuclear energy to a proponent. This article explains why Lovestock and other rational environmentalist are now supporting nuclear energy as an important part of the strategy for stopping global warming.

Nuclear energy supplies only 20% of America's energy needs. That percentage is constantly slipping, and no new nuclear plants have been built in America in 30 years. America's energy demand continues to increase, and the US is the world's greatest contributor to global warming. If we are serious about combating global warming, we need to embrace nuclear energy.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Can Al Gore be Taken Seriously?

Al Gore's "A Generational Challenge to Repower America" Speech

Al Gore made a major speech recently and about the economic, environmental and national security crisis that we face as a result of global warming.

He could not have painted a bleaker picture. “The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk”, says Gore. “And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake.”

He says the climate crisis is getting worse quicker than predicted. He says that within five years there is a 75% chance that the North polar ice cap will disappear during the summer months.

He advocates a program of producing 100% of our electricity from solar, wind and geothermal power within ten years, and he is convinced that we have only ten years to act. “The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution, lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis.”

I respect Gore for his tenacity and sincerity. I have no clue as to whether we have only ten years to act or not. Gore had me nodding in agreement when he said we should speed up the transition to clean energy by "insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes.” I agreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Gore when he said, “I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.”

I am very skeptical, however, that even with a complete replacement of the income tax with a carbon tax and a massive government development program, that we can achieve a transition to unproven technologies and a replacement of an infrastructure based on coal and oil in such a short period of time. The expense is incomprehensible.

I also think he downplays the sacrifice that would be required and paints a rosy picture of the economic benefit of the transition. He might also just be outright saying something that he does not really believe when he says, “The way to bring gas prices down is to end our dependence on oil and use the renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline”.

I think he lost all credibility with the “$1 per gallon gasoline” argument. Also, I think Mr. Gore would be more believable if he recognized a role for nuclear energy in his proposal for addressing the global warming crisis. How can one totally ignore the role of clean nuclear energy in addressing the energy needs of the world? In France, nuclear supplies 70% of their energy needs. In contrast, nuclear currently supplies only 20% of America’s energy needs. Gore seems to pretend it does not even exist.

While I hope this speech leads to serious discussions about this important issue, Mr. Gore’s speech struck me as something more like Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” rather than a serious, practical proposal.

To go to the Gore website where you can view the video and read the text of his speech, click here: link.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Japanese Music

For all you beer drinking county music fans who are never going to consume another Bud because they are owned a Belgium company: Stop consuming country music.

One of the biggest players in the music industry in Nashville is Sony Music. Sony owns Columbia, RCA, and Epic. Sony owns the copyrights to a lot of music including the former Tree music catalogue, which was one of the biggest county music publishers. They also own the Acuff-Rose music catalogue which includes all of the Hank Williams penned tunes. Your favorite county song is probably owned by Sony.

Do you know who owns Sony? The Japanese.

Think of all the great songs written by Willie Nelson and all the great songs written by Hank Williams. Think of He Stopped Loving Her Today, Crazy, I Saw the Light, and I Walk the Line. Are these songs any less American because they are owned a Japanese company?

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Bud's For You

Are you mad as hell that Anheuser-Busch was sold to foreigners?

Are you determined never to drink a Bud again? OK, Anheuser-Busch makes about forty brands of beer including Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra, Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice, Natural Light, Natural Ice and others. Don’t drink any of them.

Ok, switch to Miller. Well, Miller is owned by SABMiller which is a South African company. Miller makes all of the following brands so mark them off your list: Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Olde English 800, Milwaukee’s Best, Mickey's, Icehouse, Hamm's, Red Dog, SouthPaw Light, and Leinenkugel's.

Ok, you say, I will drink Coors, good old Colorado Kool-Aid. Sorry, Coors is owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company, a Canadian company.

OK, Pabst Blue Ribbon? Sorry, they are also owned by SABMiller.

Schlitz? That is another SABMiller company.

Rolling Rock? I like Rolling Rock. When I don’t drink Corona, unless Pabst is cheaper, I drink Rolling Rock. Rolling Rock, brewed in Latrobe Pennsylvania by Rolling Rock Brewery, was American before InBev bought it, then Anheuser-Busch bought it from InBev, and now InBev has bought Anheuser-Busch. So, Rolling Rock is now a foreign owned beer, again; I think.

Don’t despair. If you really want to drink American there are lots of American beers. The largest of the American brands is Samuel Adams, and there are many smaller American breweries and there are many local brewpubs across America.

But, why do you care if the parent company of your favorite beer is a foreign owned? I don’t. I am concerned about the falling value of the dollar which makes some of these acquisitions possible. But, I am just as concerned that falling dollar makes oil and other foreign good expensive, as I am that it makes American goods and companies a bargain for foreigners. I am also concerned about our tax policy that over taxes American businesses and puts them at a competitive disadvantage with foreign companies. But, I do not despair when an American icon falls into foreign hands.

Some years ago, many American’s were outraged when Rockefeller Center was purchased by a Japanese company. I think since then however, it is back in American hands. But, as far as I can tell, it did not affect me one way or the other.

Mercedes purchased Chrysler about ten years ago, and to listen to some pundits you would have thought America’s days were numbered. We are still here.

I see consolidations, changes in ownerships, and greater world wide economic integrations as the normal evolution of capitalism and see it as a positive development. It is a natural development that capital and labor will cross national borders and that the world will get smaller. Worldwide investment and trade is lifting people out of poverty and making the world a safer place. I suspect that Wal-Mart has lifted more people out of poverty than all the economic aid ever handed out. I suspect that China is less of a doctrinaire Communist state, partly due to Wal-Mart.

I have this theory: If prior to Peal Harbor, Japan would have had the same level of investment in Hawaii as they have today, Japan would have never attacked Pearl Harbor.

So, let us not despair about multi-national corporations owning your favorite beer. If it really bothers you, maybe you can invest some money in a mutual fund that invests in foreign companies including InBev. That way, you can be part owner of your favorite beer.

Let us all join hand: Red, Yellow, Black, and White; Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jew. Let us lift a bottle and toast the multi-national corporation, capitalism, free trade and the withering away of the nation state: “This Buds for you.”

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Budweiser Sold to Belgian Company

And I Don't Care.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Cover, Obama and Michelle


OK people, lighten up. Does someone have to spell it out for you? This is satire. Does someone need to put across the top of the page, "THIS IS SATIRE"? Notice the American flag in the fireplace? See the picture of Osama Bin Laden over the fireplace of the oval office? This is funny. This is clever.

The New Yorker is generally a liberal publication. Who reads that magazine? Not Joe Six-pack. I know some of you enlightened liberals or saying, "I get it, but I'm afraid the rednecks in Tennessee, won't." Well , you are elitist assholes. OK, there are some rednecks who want get it. As about as many as there are brothers who will say, "Why they dis'en my man Obama?" I know, I know, maybe we need to keep the discourse on a sixth grade level.

I can't believe Obama called the piece "tasteless and offensive," and that John McCain agreed with him. It is "tasteless and offensive" but most humor is tasteless and offensive. That is what makes it funny. For those of you who don't get it, the cover is ridiculing the rumors that say Obama is a Muslim terrorist and similar stuff. I thought it was clever.

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Poor kids' teachers earn less in Metro

By JAIME SARRIO, Staff Writer, The Tennessean

Some of Nashville's hardest-to-educate students are taught by the district's least-experienced, lowest-paid teachers, an inequity education leaders have struggled for years to address.

A Tennessean analysis of teacher salaries and experience levels shows a clear pattern: The district's top earners with the most experience and education are more likely to work in schools with fewer poor and minority students.

Nashville's not alone. For years, urban districts around the country have been experimenting with hiring bonuses and performance incentives to try to level the playing field. Some cities, including Chattanooga, have made marked gains.

Metro Nashville has been slower to address the issue, said state officials, partly because of a historically tense relationship with the teachers union. Now the district faces state intervention because of consistently low standardized test scores for poor, black and foreign-language-speaking students. (link)

Commentary

Teachers Unions Stand in the Way of Educational Improvement

Nashville it a great city in which to live. We have a diverse economy, great parks system, and numerous universities and colleges. We have grown rapidly, but for the most part responsibly. We are big enough to have almost anything one would want but still small enough to feel like one unified city. We have a mild climate and are centrally located in a beautiful part of the country. Our downtown is booming and the city has a vibrancy and energy about it. The music scene and arts community give Nashville its own distinctive flavor. What Nashville does not have is good public education, not that it is uniformly bad. We have some schools that are excellent but we also have some absolutely terrible schools. Our school system is considered a failing system and will be taken over by the state.

The above article looks at an aspect of the problems with Metro schools. It is very well written with lots of examination of data and figures. The writer does a good job of explaining the complexity of the problem. The title sums up the story: The worse performing schools have the lowest salaried teachers. If you have an interest in the Nashville schools and missed this story, I urge you to click the above link. If you are not connected to Nashville, you may want to read it anyway, because more than likely the same situation, maybe to a lesser degree, exists in your community.

The following except from the story is very telling:


“Until this year, Metro could not offer bonus incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools because it violated the rules of the teacher contract, and the district and union couldn't agree how to do it. Now, a state law that takes effect this school year requires every district to offer incentives, and Metro will pay $4,000 to teachers willing to teach hard-to-staff subjects like math
and special education in a high-need school.”

No doubt there are various reason why poor students perform poorly. Poor students may not have had parents who read to them. They may not have good role models. They may not have parents who encouraged, disciplined, and motivated them. They may not have books and computers in the home. Everything is not equal. That being given, however, does not mean we should further handicap poor students by giving them the least experienced and lowest paid teachers.

The MNEA (Metro Nashville Education Association), like teachers' unions across America, has fought every meaningful education reform, every opportunity they had to do so. Incentive pay is common in the private sector; shift workers get shift differential pay. Jobs in high demand, demand higher salaries. Yet, the teachers unions have fought incentive pay at every opportunity. Teachers in math and science need to be paid more than teachers of literature. It is a harder course of study, and the private sector competition is higher for people with those skills.

The new bonus incentive plan mentioned above is a step in the right direction but does not go nearly far enough. Any teacher teaching in a high-needs school should earn more than a teacher teaching in the middle class suburbs. In my view, those teachers serving in majority black, inner city schools should get combat pay. There should be a special designation and specialized training and considerably higher pay for teachers who will devote themselves to serving the students that no one wants to serve.

It is time for the teachers' unions to stop being the obstacle to improvements in education, and it is time to bring the logic of economic incentives to the field of education.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Woman Shoots Herself While Trying to Kill Mice

July 08, 2008

A Mendocino County woman who was trying to kill mice in her trailer with a gun ended up shooting herself and another person.

The 43-year-old woman pulled out her .44-caliber Magnum revolver after she saw the mice scurrying across the floor of her trailer on Highway 20 in Potter Valley, sheriff's officials said.

But she accidentally dropped the gun, which went off as it struck the floor. The bullet went through the woman's kneecap, bounced off the keys sitting on the belt loop of a 42-year-old man in the trailer and grazed the man's groin before ending up in his coin pocket. Authorities did not release the shooting victims' names.

The mice escaped the shooting unharmed.

Commentary

The above is not a joke. It is a true story. I've known some people that that could happen to.

If you try to kill mice in your trailer by shooting them with a 44 Magnum, you might be a red neck.

Here are some other signs you might be a redneck.

1. You let your 14-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.

2. The Blue Book value of your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it.

3. You've been married three times and still have the same in-laws.

4. You think a woman who is "out of your league" bowls on a different night.

5. You wonder how service stations keep their rest-rooms so clean.

6. Someone in your family died right after saying, "Hey, guys, watch this."

7. You think Dom Paragon is a Mafia leader.

8. Your wife's hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.

9. Your junior prom offered day care.

10. You think the last words of the "Star-Spangled Banner" are"Gentlemen, start your engines."

11. You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded right off its wheels.

12. The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than your spouse.

13. You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.

14. One of your kids was born on a pool table.

15. You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House of Tattoos.

16. You can't get married to your sweetheart because there's a law against it.

17. You think loading the dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

What would Jesus fly?

I guess that ever since there has been religion there have been religious charlatans. It never seems to change. A Jim and Tammy Faye Baker fall in disgrace and there are several Benny Hinns to take their place.

World Magazine reports that all six of the televangelists under investigation for potential abuse of their tax-exempt status by the Senate Finance Committee own corporate jets. In addition, there are about 25 other churches ministries that own luxury jets. I don’t know that owning a luxury corporate jet makes you a crook, but it does seem that in most cases a corporate jet is an indulgent luxury. If you are a for-profit corporation answerable only to your stockholders, or a rock star: Go for it. Churches should be held to a different standard.

Jet airplanes do not come cheap. According to this report an entry level used jet cost about $2 million dollars and a top of the line jet goes for about $50 million. Neither are they cheap to operate, costing anywhere from $2000 to $10,000 an hour. One of the ministries, Crenshaw Christian, flew 700 trips between Los Angeles and New York City in a five-year period yet these two cities are connected by more than 20 commercial flights a day. Kenneth Copeland’s ministry owns three jets, including a Cessna 750 the fastest civilian airplane available in the world.

I can understand the caution that Congress has traditionally taken in investigating religious institutions. Separation of Church and State and freedom of religion are important liberties in America. I don’t want the government telling Churches how they can spend their money or what beliefs are acceptable. There is always the danger that government may be selective in investigating those ministries that take unpopular positions. Just because there is the danger that government may overstep its bounds and abuse its power however does not mean that government must take a hands-off approach.

Just because an organization calls itself a church does not mean they should be allowed to avoid taxes unless they are legitimately functioning as a church. There must be rules to determine what is a legitimate religious organization. If ministries are to have tax-exempt status, they need to be held to the same standards as other tax exempt organizations. Investigating religious institutions is a delicate undertaking but one that needs to occur.

Working most of my life with poor people, I know some of the people who are sending these televangelists their money. It is little old ladies living on $850 a month social security and skimping on their medicine so they can support these ministries. The televangelist flying around in their corporate jets and living in mansions owned by their ministry have no shame. If there is a judgment day, I hope the charlatans using religion to prey on the weak, ignorant and gullible are judged harshly.

To read the World magazine article, click the title.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barack Obama: Jesse Jackson apologises for comments

Jessie Jackson: "See, Barack been talking down to black people on this faith based ... I want cut his nuts off ... Barack ... he's talking down to black people."

It seems that Jessie Jackson is unhappy with Barack Obama because in a Fathers Day speech, Barack called upon Black men to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the children they bring into the world. It seems that Jackson would much prefer for Obama to talk about "collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy." The way Jackson sees it, if you talk about personal responsibility that is "talking down to Black people."

If Black people accept that it is their own self-destructive behaviour that is a major contributing factor to the social problems, crime rate, and poverty in the Black community then they may not follow a demigod like Jackson who wants to blame all the problems of the Black community on racism and the White man.

To see the video of Jackson making the statement quoted above and read the story, click on the post title above.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Biofuels May Be Even Worse than First Thought


More and more corn is ending up in fuel tanks rather than on plates.With soaring food prices high on the agenda for next week's G-8 Summit in Japan, World Bank President Robert Zoellick has been clear that action needs to be taken. "What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster -- a silent tsunami or a perfect storm," he wrote in a Tuesday letter to major Western leaders. "It is a man-made catastrophe, and as such must be fixed by people."

According to a confidential World Bank report leaked to the Guardian on Thursday, Zoellick's organization may have a pretty good idea what that fix might look like: stop producing biofuels.

The report claims that biofuels have driven up global food prices by 75 percent, according to the Guardian report, accounting for more than half of the 140 percent jump in price since 2002 of the food examined by the study. The paper claims that the report, completed in April, was not made public in order to avoid embarrassing US President George W. Bush. (link)

Commentary

While World Bank officials tried to downplay the report and said it is just one of several reports on the impact of biofuels and was not intended for publication, they agree that biofuel is a factor in pushing up world fuel prices.

Oxfam, the environmental group, has said that biofuels have contributed to a 30 percent increase in food prices. While it is undeniable that biofuels have increased world food prices, it is doubtful that it has reduced greenhouse emissions. Growing food for fuel has led to the cutting down of rain forest which act as carbon sinks. Also some fertilizers used in food production release nitrous oxide which is another greenhouse gas. In addition, the net energy gain from biofuels is minimal. It takes almost a BTU of energy to create a BTU of ethanol energy.

It is time to admit that ethanol was a mistake. Congress should immediately end the subsidising of biofuels and repeal the mandate requiring ethanol blended gasoline.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Tennessee felons want voting rights back

Presidential race generates more interest

By JANELL ROSS Staff Writer

Tennessee is on track this year to double the number of felons who saw their voting rights restored, a sign some experts and ex-offenders say demonstrates an eagerness to vote in November's historic presidential election.

And, if a pending voting rights lawsuit succeeds, the number of people banned from voting after serving their sentences could shrink even further. The suit challenges the constitutionality of Tennessee's felon voting rights law, which bars ex-offenders from voting if they owe child support or court-ordered restitution. (link)

Commentary

By Darrell Massie

I read The Tennessean article, “Tenn. felons want voting rights back,” July 2. The article stated that ex-felons, who have served their time but still refuse to pay child support or other forms of court-ordered restitution, are particularly interested in getting their “voting rights” back this year.

The inference was clear that the majority of these ex-felons, if not all, want to use their vote to influence the election for Barack Obama.

The ACLU, of course, is leading the charge to get them their just dues. I am breathless with anticipation. I can’t wait to see all those bumper stickers start showing up on the highways: “Felons and deadbeat dads for Obama.”

Darrell Massie is a from Whitehouse , Tennessee. This commentary was a published letter-to-the-editor and is reprinted with the author’s permission

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Deja Vu All Over Again -- Eminent Domain And The Music Circle Case

by Gene Hawkins

Over on Music Circle, there’s some disharmony. A big developer from Houston, Lionstone, wants to build something. It promises to be a great asset for the city. But there’s a little problem. Lionstone doesn’t own all the land they need. Ms Joy Ford of Country International Records owns a crucial parcel, and she doesn’t want to sell it.

In response, Lionstone has requested that the city of Nashville use their power of eminent domain. They want Metro to seize Ms Ford’s property (with compensation, of course) and turn it over to them. In order words, take property from one private owner, and cede it to another private owner, because they can build something bigger and grander on it.

To Nashvillians of a certain vintage, this has a familiar ring. As the ever eloquent Yogi Berra once said, it’s “deja vu all over again.” A quarter century ago, another big developer from Houston asked Nashville to do exactly the same thing.

The Houston firm in that case was named Murphee. Back in the early eighties, they wanted to erect a new skyscraper on Church Street. It was to house the headquarters of Third National Bank, and promised to be the tallest building in Nashville.

But Murphee had the same problem then that Lionstone is facing now. There was one parcel of land they hadn’t been able to acquire. That parcel was occupied by a men’s clothing store, Petway Reavis. Its owner refused to sell it. And it stood squarely front and center of the proposed Third National tower.

When they were unable to purchase the property, Murphee asked the city of Nashville to use their power of eminent domain, seize it, and turn it over to them. Sound familiar? Deja vu all over again.

The Murphee/Third National case wound up in the Metro Council. After much debate and discussion, the Council determined that this was not an appropriate use of eminent domain. To its credit, the Council said no.

Having been turned down by the city, Murphee redesigned their building to wrap around the holdout parcel. By this time the property owner relented and decided to sell after all. But the revised design was judged better than the original, and the developer stuck with it.

And that is why the big building at Church and Fifth (now the Fifth Third Center) is built in a U-shape.

Now fast forward a quarter century. Another Houston developer is asking the city of Nashville to do exactly the same thing. There’s an additional wrinkle this time. A few years ago a developer wanted the city of New London Connecticut to seize property for a private development there. There were lawsuits, and the case made it to the US Supreme Court. In its 2005 Kelo ruling, the Court gave its Supreme blessing to this use (or misuse) of eminent domain.

To some people, this seemed Robin Hood in Reverse -- take from the poor, and give to the rich. Some people might also say this is just orthodox Republican theology. But rightly or wrongly, there is now a legal precedent for Lionstone’s request.

So in 2008, Metro has a tough decision to make. Is seizure of private property an appropriate use of eminent domain, when the property is ceded to another private entity for a larger development? A quarter century ago, the Council showed courage when they said no to this question. It will be interesting to see what happens in the current case. Will Metro’s decision, like the case itself, be deja vu all over again?

Guest blogger Gene Hawkins is a longtime resident of Nashville's Woodbine community. He's retired from the Air Guard base at Berry Field, and more recently has worked at the Bike Pedlar bicycle shop in Hermitage.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Obama certainly is the candidate of change

...the candidate of the change of mind.


I don’t think that always sticking to one's original position is necessarily a virtue. Circumstances change or one gets new information. I have changed my mind on several important issues over the years.

Some years ago, I was a global warming skeptic but as I studied the issue and gained more knowledge I began to accept the prevailing scientific opinion. Now, I think global warming may be the most important issue we face and think we must develop polices that address it.

I was once a supporter of isolating and punishing Cuba, but that was when Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union. Circumstances changed and I think we should change our policy. I see our current policy as irrational and counterproductive

I once helped mount a local campaign to stop a one-cent sales tax on gasoline; now I favor a nationwide carbon tax. So, I am certainly tolerant of those who change their mind.

I understand that a campaign to get your party’s nomination is a different campaign and a different audience than the general election campaign to win the office. Candidates often move toward the center in the general election. Obama, however, must be setting a new record for rapid change of positions. He is making a radical transformation before our very eyes.

Quite frankly, I like the new Obama much, much better than I liked the old Obama. If Obama would only “clarify” and “refine” his position on national health care, I might even be able to vote for him. I might be able to bring myself to vote for him if I could believe him. I am just not sure the new Obama is the real Obama. Would the real Obama please stand up?

On the FISA compromise bill, which would give the phone companies immunity for helping the government engage in illegal wiretapping, he did a complete reversal. Did he not once say that he would not support any retroactive immunity for the phone companies? He flip-flopped with this simple explanation: "My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."

On Iraq, during the primary, it seems that Denise Kucinish, Bill Richardson and Barack Omaba were competing to see who could promise to get out of Iraq the fastest and damn the consequences. I seem to recall Obama saying something about being out within 16 months.

Recently he said, “I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed. And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

That is reassuring. That is reasonable. I was fearful he really meant he would have all troops out in 16 months.

On Iran, during the primary he certainly seemed to reassured war-weary, Bush-scared voters that he would never attack Iran. More recently he said the use of military force should not be taken off the table when dealing with Iran and he called Iran "a threat to all of us."

One of the biggest flip flops of all is his rejection of public campaign financing. His campaign’s claim that he does not need the public funding because he is racking in mass amounts of cash from small contributors is bogus. He is getting the corporate money and the funding from the well-connected. I am not a supporter of public campaign finance myself, so I don’t criticize him for opting out of public funding, but do not see how he can do it with a straight face. It is reassuring to see that Obama is not the Messiah, but just another lying politician.

He has also reversed his position and endorsed the Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty and gun control without adequate explanation. He has also said he would not only continue but would expand the Bush faith-based intuitive. And, during the primary wasn’t he saying something different about NAFTA than what he is saying now? Have you noticed that he has started wearing every politicians favorite fashion accessory, the flag lapel pin?

Obama has been able to do all this without apparently angering his most “progressive” supporters. Of course, they have no place to go. They are not going to vote for McCain and I don’t see them jumping on the Ralph Nader bandwagon. Still, they must feel betrayed. Don’t you know many of them are feeling like they should have went with their first instinct and voted for Kucinish? If you consider yourself a “progressive”, do you not feel betrayed?

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I Can’t Drive 55

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., has indicated that Congress may want to consider reimposing a national speed limit in an effort to curtail gasoline consumption. I have been expecting this. He has asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide the optimum gasoline efficiency. He has asked if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.

In 1974 in response to the Arab oil embargo Congress set a national 55 mph speed limit. The speed limit stayed in effect until 1995.

In about 1987 I went through a divorce and my ex-wife moved from Nashville to McKenzie, Tennessee, a distance of about 125 miles. She had custody of our five-year-old daughter but I had liberal visitation. I was determined I would not lose contact with my daughter so I continued to exercise my visitation despite the distance. For about the first year after her move out of town, when my daughter was six, I continued my every other week visitation and the every Wednesday night visitation. Later I reduced the Wednesday night visits to the alternate Wednesdays when I did not have weekend visitation. A couple years later I discontinued the Wednesday night visitations all together. I thought while she was young, that the regular continued contact was important. And, it was certainly important to me.

I had the greatest car I ever had during this period. It was a 1986 Pontiac 6000, Sports Touring Edition. It had a sunroof, a great stereo with controls on the steering wheel, rack and pinion steering (what ever that is) and something called “engineered ride control.” The shocks would pump up and adjust to how fast you were driving and the amount of weight you were carrying. The car seemed glued to the road and the steering was real responsive. I loved that car!

I bought the absolutely best radar detector money could by and I burned up the road. Every Wednesday I would leave work early, drive to McKenzie, visit my daughter and drive back. Riding the same route every Wednesday night, I got to know every bump in the road and I learned where the state troopers usually hid. I would crank up the radio, and make the trip and did not mind the drive at all. After a while, it seemed like the car drove itself. I would leave McKenzie and when I hit the interstate I went into an almost trance-like state. I would enjoy the music and in no time at all it seemed like I was home.

I routinely drove at about 85-90 MPH. Sometimes my speed would creep up to over 100. The radar detector kept me from getting numerous tickets but radar detectors are not fool-proof. I had some friends in high places at the time and I got a couple tickets “dismissed.” A couple times, highway patrolmen cut me a break and gave me a warning or wrote the ticket for a lower speed than I was really driving. After about the fourth ticket however and notice that one more ticket would cause me to lose my license, I slowed down. By that time, I was ready to discontinue the Wednesday night trips anyway.

I hated driving 55. I hated driving 75. If I would have obeyed the speed limit, I would not have been able to visit my daughter. In a good car, Interstate driving at 80 is not so bad; interstate driving at 55 is hard work.

A 55 MPH speed limit will bring back CB radios and disrespect for the law. Like Sammy Hager says, "I Can’t Drive 55!"


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Message on the Observance of Independence Day

Ronald Reagan, July 3, 1986

Like all great holidays, the Fourth of July brings to mind the traditional ways we celebrate: dazzling fireworks displays light the skies; march music fills the air; parades with flags and floats and blaring bands brighten the broad avenues of our cities and the main streets of our small towns; families get together with friends and neighbors for picnics and barbecues; patriotic songs stir the heart. These are the images -- glad, bright, and touching -- that we have come to associate with the Fourth of July from the time we were children.

It is altogether fitting that we should celebrate this day with great joy, because it is the birthday of our beloved country. It is especially fitting that it should be celebrated as a family holiday and a community holiday, because it commemorates our solemn bonding together as a new nation -- the American Family.

It is a day not only for celebration but also for reflection -- a day to ponder what it was that forged 13 diverse colonies into an unbreakable union that has endured and grown and prospered for more than two centuries. What was the secret that emboldened a loose confederation of some two and a half million settlers on the Eastern rimland of the New World to challenge the might of the most powerful colonial empire on earth?

Quite simply, it was the courage and the vision of our Founding Fathers. They seized the unique historical moment Providence had placed within their grasp. Determined to protect and guarantee fundamental human rights, they felt called upon to bring our nation into being.

In order to give that new nation shape and direction they drew freely on the riches of the Judeo-Christian tradition with its central affirmation that God, not chance, rules in the affairs of men, and that each of us has an inviolable dignity because we have been fashioned in the image and likeness of our Creator. The Founding Fathers established a nation under God, ruled not by arbitrary decrees of kings or the whims of entrenched elites but by the consent of the governed. Theirs was the vision of a striving, God-fearing, self-reliant people living in the sunlight of justice and breathing the bracing air of liberty.

As the years unrolled, generations of Americans painted that vision across the broad canvass of the continent. It has always been the secret of our progress, our power, and our prosperity. Whenever we have allowed it to fade we have done so at our peril. Whenever it has burned bright we have amazed the world with our inventiveness, our daring, our achievements, and our magnanimity.

Through the years, America's promise of liberty and justice for all served as a magnet, drawing to our shores millions of people yearning to breathe the heady air of freedom. They flocked here from every continent, bringing with them the riches of their customs and their cultures; precious strands of every color, tone, and texture, to be woven into the rich tapestry of America.
And still they come, drawn by the promise of liberty under law, guided still by the beacon light of liberty whose most majestic symbol -- newly refurbished this year -- is the Lady with the Lamp who stands in New York harbor. Her high-held torch beams forth the same message that the Liberty bell rang out more than 200 years ago, the message of Leviticus:

``Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.''

As we celebrate this day, let us draw closer to all of our fellow citizens in common purpose guided by a common vision. Let all Americans like one grateful family honor our Founding Fathers and all who have worked and fought and died to keep their dream alive. Let us renew our commitment to the message and the meaning of the Declaration of Independence:

``That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . ''

Let us sing again the great patriotic songs:

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night, with a light from above.
Let the words ring out loud with conviction and with joy:

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

To all my fellow Americans -- Happy Fourth of July!

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Obama promises, "No New Profits."

WASHINGTON (IP) — Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday said as president he would strengthen government oversight of energy traders he blames in large part for the skyrocketing price of oil.

"Read my lips: No New Profits!"

"Some people blame low oil supplies or high oil demand for the recent spike in gasoline prices," said the presidential hopeful, "but these are just outdated economic theories. The real cause is speculative trading in the oil futures market. Trading by unscrupulous, unpatriotic profit-mongers. My administration will put a stop to this by making it illegal to sell oil futures for more than was paid for them. Without the market distortion caused by the so-called 'profit-motive' , our energy market - under the prudent and level-headed guidance of the federal government - will once again become both free and fair."Obama said that he intended to implement his "No New Profits" pledge within his administration' s first 100 days, promising to expand his economy-saving plan to other markets as his tenure progressed.

"Although I've long stood against the 'excessive' profits made by oil companies," said Obama, "the fact is that ALL profits are inherently excessive. That's why I vow to extend this program to other markets as well. Food, precious metals, stocks, bonds - all will eventually be both bought and sold 'at cost'. With all price fluctuations banned by the force of law, America will finally have a stable, sustainable, plannable future, unmarred by the evils of fear or uncertainty.

"The Democratic contender, however, reassured his audience that this new stability would not interfere with the creation and implementation of new government programs. "Some of my critics contend that without profits, we would be unable to collect the new taxes necessary to implement important new government programs like Universal Health Care, but we will find a way to make the wealthy pay their fair share. They'll just have to sell off their mansions and limousines."

"At cost, of course," he concluded.

Commentary: This speech by Obama should appeal to the Democratic base, many of whom are socialist at heart. Unfortunately, I also run into people who drive SUV's and are not necessarily die-hard Democrats or very political at all who will also find this rhetoric appealing. There seems to be a lot of people, even otherwise educated people, who simply have no understanding of economics. An increase in the price of their favorite commodity or a loss of a job and they are ready to tax away an industry's profits, embrace wage and price controls, and nationalize companies. You may recall, California Representative Maxine Waters called for "the government taking over and running the oil companies" back in May. Despite the repeated failures of socialism, there are many who still find it appealing.

OK. For you people in Antioch, the Obama speech is a parody. That is not a real story and he really didn't say those things. I don't want this to become one of those Internet rumors that are repeated as the truth. Unfortunately however, as bizarre as it may sound, Maxine Waters did call for oil company nationalization.

Author unknown, I plucked this from a chat group. Commentary is mine.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

City Starts To Seize Music Row Property

To learn more about this story and see a Channel 5 news report click the title above.


Does this look blighted?
It is not pretty. It is not even charming; but would you call it blighted? This is the home of Country International Records, and it is in the way of a new high rise. Metro wants to take it and sell it to the developer.

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Agency's property grab on Music Row is 'blighted', all right

By PHIL VALENTINE

Blighted. That could very well be one of the most powerful words in America today.

It strikes terror in the hearts of those on the receiving end of it. It's wielded like a sword by power-crazed municipalities. Its interpretation is widely subjective, and those who are the first to utter it often own the power of its definition.

That sword is being wielded against a Music Row business of a quarter century that just happens to be sitting in the way of a Houston developer who wants to build a hotel/condo complex on the Music Row Roundabout.

Comment:
To read the rest of the above article click the title.

What is happening in Nashville is an outrage. I agree wholeheartedly with Phil Valentine when he says, "This whole notion of taking someone's property just because you think it can be used in a better manner runs contrary to every principle we hold near and dear as Americans."

Our newly elected mayor could stop this. We have a forty member metro council. Any one of them could speak up for private property rights and try to stop it. If a council member was not able to stop it, he could at least make the Council go on record and this would allow us to know who does and who does not, believe in private property rights.

I am a pragmatist and do feel there are times when use of eminent domain is necessary. Sometimes we need to widen roads or take property to build a school. Sometimes, it may even be necessary for slum and blight clearance, but it should be used very sparingly. The property discussed in this article is not blighted! It is simply in the way of a private developer who wants it.

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