Wednesday, September 22, 2021

LGBTQ pride float sparks controversy at Williamson Co. school board meeting

FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - A LGBTQ  pride group at Independence High School in Thompson’s Station is now the center of controversy after a video from the homecoming parade was posted on social media. ... The Twitter video shows the moment two students kiss on a parade float. That moment sparked backlash at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. ... The video, posted by Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County, said students on the float were “kissing and groping” in front of younger kids. ...  Others at the meeting defend Indy Pride, ...  “It was a quick peck ...  “Making out and French kissing on top of a float in front of our children from kindergarten to sixth grade, eighth grade, is uncalled for,” .. Mom’s for Liberty calls out Indy Pride for passing out what they call “recruitment” cards. 

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Wilson County Conservative Republicans Sept. 25th



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Monday, September 20, 2021

Get real about Climate Change. Part 3: Why are efforts to combat climate change such a failure?

 by Rod Williams, Sept. 21, 2021 - I am convinced that climate change is real and we are running out of time to address it and that thus far our efforts to do so have been anemic, ineffective, symbolic, and even counterproductive.  Why is that the case?

In a family email exchange recently on the topic of climate change, a close relative who is passionate about the issue of climate change said we were destroying the planet and she blamed, "Republicans and Fox News."  A am sure there are many of her persuasion who would agree with that simplistic explanation.  After all, President Donald Trump said he believed that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to deter American economic growth.  Donald Trump however is the exception.  Most significant Republicans accept the reality of climate change and few Republican skeptics have been as blunt as Trump. Most Republicans have been silent or have opposed bad policies that needed to be opposed.

Republicans have been in opposition to many liberal climate change proposals and with good reason. Many of those efforts would wreck the economy and some were simply symbolic and would accomplish little while costing much.  It does nothing to combat climate change for America to forgo energy independence, as an example. We simply replace the oil not produced in America with oil from authoritarian mid-Eastern regimes.   Some liberal environmentalist positions, such as opposition to nuclear energy and fracking, actually increase the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

Beyond the legitimate practical policy reasons for opposing ill-conceived liberal responses to the challenge of climate change, however, those who blame Republicans for lack of progress on climate change have a point.  In America, most climate change skeptics have been and still are Republicans. So, as long as liberals can blame "Republicans and Fox News," for the failure to respond to the challenge of climate change they do not have to look very hard at why the response to the challenge of climate change has been such a failure.  As long as they can blame Republicans they can excuse themselves for failure to put forth real solutions to the ongoing challenge.

The Republican opposition to action on climate change is not all because of disagreement about how to approach the issue, however.  There is genuine climate change skepticism, what the liberal mainstream call climate change "denial."  While I was convinced a long time ago of the validity of the climate change theory, many have not been convinced.  If one is not convinced, then one sees no reason for any action at all.  

Many have been unconvinced because of the voice of influencers like the late Rush Limbaugh who ridiculed and lambasted the theory and was entertaining while doing so.  Rush was the original personality who gave voice to and influenced the thinking of the conservative masses, and in his wake came many others, such as Nashville's own, the late, Phil Valentine. Those who came on the scene behind Rush continued to promote climate change skepticism.  

Following the popularization of climate change skepticism pushed by Limbaugh and then a whole host of other conservative commentators and influencers who followed, it seems to me that conservative voices that could have entered the debate were simply silent. I don't think most Republican leaders were ever as staunchly skeptical as the Rush Limbaughs of the world, however.  

In fact, there have been leading Republican voices who recognized climate change as a serious problem and who took meaningful action to combat it. President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State George Shults negotiated the Montreal Protocol, which phased out the use of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Those chemicals also are potent greenhouse gases, so the agreement also makes him the negotiator of one of the most effective global climate treaties ever.  Following George Shultz was James Baker as Secretary of State who advocated strong action on climate change.  Other prominent Republicans followed. 

You may recall the 2008 commercial that featured Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gringish sitting close together on a loveseat and the two political foes say concern about climate change is the one thing they have in common. “We do agree,” Gingrich says. “Our country must take action to address climate change.”

Up until the election of Donald Trump climate change skepticism was not a prominent position among establishment Republicans. That changed with Trump.  Trump did not only not hide his skepticism or keep quiet he used it to rally his populist base who had been raised on Rush Limbaugh. Trump was not the only Republican pushing skepticism, however.  Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, and Congressman Steve Scalise, Republican Of Louisiana were among the most vocal of Republican skeptics. 

In an environment where climate change skepticism was the norm among much of the Republican base and where there were popular Republican politicians advocating skepticism, if you were a Republican politician who actually accepted the theory of climate change as valid, then there was nothing to be gained by saying so.  And, the liberal response to the challenge of climate change was so misguided that one could oppose liberal climate change positions on legitimate grounds of opposing bad policy and never have to advocate skepticism nor have to offer alternative proposals of one's own. Liberals made it easy for conservatives to oppose liberal environmental policies. To stay in good graces with the Republican base, all a Republican had to do was oppose liberal lunacy.

Since Republicans were mostly absent from the debate, why didn't Democrats and passionate environmentalists come up with policies that would actually accomplish something? Why have responses to the challenge been so feeble or why have policies even been advanced that made global warming worse?

I contend it is because liberals have inherent blind spots and beliefs that make it difficult for them to offer real solutions. Here is some of what I see as to why liberals have failed to advance policies that address the issue. 

Liberals are at heart romantics.  They exhibit strong emotions, have awe of nature, reject modernity,  and they rebel at rationalization.  They see the battle to stop climate change in almost spiritual terms.  If we all simply loved mother earth enough and would renounce the modern world the problem would be solved. 

Many liberal environmentalists can not separate their general left-wing policies from their desire to do something about climate change. There is a term "watermelon" used to describes certain environmentalists as green on the outside and red on the inside.  That may be too strong of a term, and it certainly does not help to further dialogue to actually refer to an environmentalist with that term but it is, I think, useful to keep in mind.  Failure to separate their other liberal believes from a desire to deal with climate change is, I think, one of the reasons why we have not made real progress on combating climate change.  

The proposed $93 trillion (yes "trillion") Green New Deal is an example. It would massively expand the scope of the Federal government and have an army of bureaucrats dictate details of how the economy functions.  It relies heavily on central planning.  From Cuba to Venezuela to the old Soviet Union central planning has been a failure.  China, while still engaging in central planning, does not do so nearly to the extent it did in the era of Mao. China has let prices, for the most part, allegate resources. 

In addition to central planning of the economy, the GND also calls for things like single-payer health care and guaranteed national income.  These are proposals that go way beyond saving the planet. Often environmentalists talk about environmental justice and social justice and equity.  Failure to stay focused on just climate change makes their proposals unacceptable for reasons that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. 

Liberal environmentalists are  "economics deniers."  If climate change skeptics qualify for the pejorative term "climate change deniers," liberal environmentalists certainly qualify for the term "economics deniers."  They either do not believe in economics or are ignorant of economics.  One has to look no further than the proposed $90 trillion Green New Deal to see this.  Consider that the current GDP of the United States is about $22 trillion.  The current public debt of the United States is $28.5 trillion and growing and equals about 108% of GDP.  The Green New Deal proposal is like a household making $22,000 a year, already in debt $28,000, and proposing they buy a $90,000 boat.  How can anyone take environmentalists seriously when this is their proposal?

Beyond the fact that the math doesn't work, environmentalists do not recognize the superiority of the role of markets in allocating resources over command and control and central planning. People resist command and control and central planning usually fails.  Not only that but command and control economies with central planning have a worst environmental record.  Also, it seems liberal environmentalists never submit their proposals to cost-benefit analysis.  It appears to me that most liberal environmentalists are incapable of thinking in economic terms and weighing alternatives.  Their enthusiasm, or evangelical zeal, or certainty of the righteousness of their cause, makes them see concern over how one will pay for it or how a proposal will work in practice, look vulgar and mundane. 

The more rational liberals fear their base and the zealous enthusiast are in the driver's seat.  Just as on the right, the more rational voices are being drowned out by the loud populists and politicians fear to disagree with the base, I think the same is happening on the left. Liberals who might see the folly of the GND or recognized that to surrender American energy independence does nothing to solve the problem of climate change are simply too intimidated to disagree with the enthusiast. 

With these limitations, liberals are never going to put forth proposals that would make a difference.  What is needed are people who are realists sitting at the table discussing the issues.  We need people who are not starry-eyed utopians and romantics. We need people who are focused on the issue at hand and not using environmentalism to push a socialist or social-justice agenda.  And, we need people who understand economics and can think rationally.  We need realists to join the debate. 

Fortunately, there are some rational voices advancing solutions to the climate change challenge. Unfortunately, those voices are faint.  In a future essay, I will explore what a realist climate change policy would entail and we will hear from some of the advocates of climate change realism. 

For other essays in this series, see the following:

Get real about Climate Change. Part 1: Climate change is an established fact and time is running out to do anything about it.

Get real about Climate Change. Part 2: So far what we are doing about climate change is ineffective, anemic, symbolic, and counterproductive.

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Get real about Climate Change. Part 1: Climate change is an established fact and time is running out to do anything about it.

by Rod Williams, Sept. 5, 2021 - I have never been a climate change "denier."  I don't know any climate change "deniers;" I know some climate change "skeptics." I think the term "denier" is used in order to put climate change skeptics in the same category as Holocaust deniers.  I am not a climate change "denier," nor a "skeptic," however.  I accept the theory of climate change.

I was a skeptic early on but that was a long long time ago when I did not know much about the topic.  Since about 2007 or so I have accepted the dominant scientific consensus that the earth is warming. I also accept the theory that human activity is a contributing factor.  I have posted on the topic many times.  If one cares to read what I have written over the years, follow this link.  

If I were to meter my acceptance of the theory that the earth is warming and that human activity is a contributing factor, my acceptance meter since about 2007 would range somewhere between about 65% to 95%.  The only exception to this range of acceptance was that it dropped below 50% briefly during the Climategate scandal of 2009 in which hacked documents from Britain’s Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia showed that a who’s who of climate scientists destroyed evidence, used tricks to modify data that shows the earth is cooling, corrupted the peer review process, withheld data that did not support their findings and conspired to pressure and punish skeptical scientist. You may remember the term "hide the decline" from this period. 

Following that scandal, my acceptance meter rebounded when I concluded that Climategate was not the final word and that the preponderance of evidence still supported the global warming theory. So while I accept the theory of climate change with a great degree of certainty, I do not think skeptics are evil people with no basis for skepticism. I find it difficult however to be generous to those skeptics who do not think the earth is even warming.  I can be more generous to those who think it is warming but question the degree to which human activity is a contributing factor.

Last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report on the status of climate change. This is the most alarming report ever. It tells us time is running out to do anything about global warming.  This was a preliminary report on the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and a draft version. The final AR6 report will be released in September 2022.  It calls climate change clearly human-caused and “an established fact.” This body makes more precise forecasts of a greater rate of warming for the future than it did last time it was issued in 2013. It warns we will reach the calamitous level of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels sometime in the decade of the 2030's.

The report says that the estimates of global emissions even if we meet the ambitions goals of the Paris Agreement would lead to global greenhouse gas emissions insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  The only way we can avoid the calamity of warming above this level is if there is a decline in CO2 emissions well before the year 2030. (link)

The path we are on does not indicate that will happen.  Given the path we are on, I see no reason for optimism.  I see all of those companies and nations with pledges of being carbon-neutral by 2030 as engaging in either rosy scenario thinking or lying. It is much like Congress promising that a certain new program will only cost so much when it always costs much more.  Some of those CEO's or national leaders know that they will not be around when the date by which they promised to be carbon-neutral arrives. It is easy to promise improvements in the future and then kick the can down the road. I think that is what is going on. 

Even those who really believe their own propaganda can't account for public resistance to the policies necessary to achieve their goals. People profess concern for climate change, and I don't doubt that they are sincere, but when it comes time to radically increase the price of energy or make changes to their lifestyle, they balk.  Just look at the yellow vest protest in France last year. When the government imposed a modest increase in the fuel tax, part of that tax being a carbon tax on diesel and gas as part of a plan to decrease consumption, mass protest erupted.  The protest was not organized by a political party or ideological movement.  It was primarily fueled by social media and protestors came from across the political spectrum.  We have picked the low-hanging fruit of carbon reduction. Future efforts to impose restraints on consumer choice and increase consumer costs will be met with resistance.

Another reason to be pessimistic is that there are not good accounting standards to measure a company nor a nation's carbon footprint. I suspect that a lot of claims of greenhouse gas reduction are due to fuzzy math instead of real reductions.  

 In 2017 Microsoft Corp. said it was responsible for 22 million metric tons of carbon.  In 2020 it said it was responsible for only 11 million tons.  What changed?  Not much except the way Microsoft calculates its carbon emissions.   Should carbon calculations be a production calculation or a consumption calculation?  How are subcontractors' and suppliers' carbon emissions to be calculated? I suspect that many companies to show they are producing less carbon are simply changing the way they calculate the amount of carbon they are producing.  I also suspect that carbon off-sets are overstated and inflated. Until rigorous standards, equal to financial accounting standards,  are adopted with uniform means of measuring carbon production and carbon offsets then claims of such should be taken with a grain of salt.

Also, don't pop a Champaign cork when some company or politician issues a press report about how they have made drastic improvements that will reduce their carbon footprint. Cities or companies or nations often pat themselves on the back and brag about their carbon reduction when all they have really done is replace an obsolete factory or vehicle fleet with a newer model. When Nashville passed mandatory routine updates of the city building codes last year, Mayor Cooper issued a press release making it look like it was a big deal. It was not.  One should be skeptical of claims of improvement and of the tendency to engage in "greenwashing." It is often smoke and mirrors. 

Another reason to be pessimistic is that while the advanced economies of the world are making some significant reduction in critical greenhouse cases, our advances are being negated by developing countries, primarily China and to a lesser extent, India.  Other undeveloped countries, in order to improve their standard of living, are also likely to industrialize and increase their production of greenhouse gases. A recent WSJ article illustrates this. 

Steel production accounts for 7% of the world's production of Carbon Dioxide, more than any other industrial sector.  Seventy percent of the world's steel is produced by the more-than-a-century-old blast furnace process, in which coal is burned at high temperatures to reduce the oxygen in iron ore, turning it into steel.  American and European steel producers have cleaned up their act. Some steel mills now rely on recycling steel rather than making steel from scratch, which produces much less CO2.  The blast furnace process is being replaced by electric arc furnaces and we are beginning to see steal mills that use hydrogen rather than coal. Real strides are being made in making clean steel.  Meanwhile, China produces about 57% of the world’s steel, and of that, about 90% is made using blast furnaces. And, China’s furnaces are also relatively new, with an average age of 12 years. China will not be updating its steel mills for years to come and they can produce steel at much cheaper prices than can America and Europe.  

It is clear that efforts so far to address climate change have failed and that the path we are on is the path of destruction.  Efforts have been insufficient in many cases, phony in some cases, and even sometimes counterproductive. 

Please look for my next essay on this topic where I share my thoughts on how we are to move forward and get serious about addressing the issue. 

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Update. Words or terms that I wish I would have created or coined: Rainbow-washing

by Rod Williams - Below is a list of words or terms that I wish I would have created or coined.  Some of them you may be familiar with and others may be new.  These are terms I find useful to describe some situation or development that is currently prevalent in society.  When I come across a new one, I will add it to the list. 

Wishcycling: This is what people do when they throw something they think should be recyclable into the recyclable bin, such as a plastic frozen food tray when our recycling policy for plastic only accepts bottles and jars. The item has the universal plastic recycle symbol or says "recyclable," on it so even though it is technically possible to recycle the item, our system does not recycle it.  I guess people think that by putting it in the recycle bin, they will somehow force Metro to recycle it.  Or, maybe they have developed such an aversion to tossing something that is technically recyclable into the garbage container then putting it in the recycle bin causes them moral anguish so they put it in the recycle bin out of an irrational compulsion and to avoid pain. (Sorce link)

Crybully: A crybully is someone who tries to manipulate others into silence by displaying their anguish when someone disagrees with them.  This is how it might work. If you say to an environmentalist crybully that maybe fracking to produce natural gas so we can replace coal-fired power plants with cleaner natural gas-fired power plants is a good idea, the crybully does not engage you in a discussion and tell you why you are wrong. The crybully gets emotional and tells you how hurt they are that you want to destroy the earth.  This tactic can be used to shut up those who disagree with a progressive about healthcare, gun control, racial justice, or almost any topic. The crybully's sensitivity, fragility, and righteous certainty is used to make those with opposing views, keep those views to themselves.  I have seen it in action.

Greenwashing:  Greenwashing is taking public relations credit for a policy that is supposedly "green," when in fact the policy was simply an effort to improve productivity or profit or was simply complying with some mandate.  An example of "greenwashing" was Mayor Cooper touting his environmental record for simply adopting an updated mandatory building code to replace an obsolete building code. 

Rainbow-washing: Pandering to the LGBTQIA+ community by going out of your way to show your support for the community and also, usually, to make a buck.  An example is Burger King wrapping its Whopper in rainbow-colored foil. 

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Get real about Climate Change. Part 2 : So far what we are doing about climate change is ineffective, anemic, symbolic, or counterproductive.

by Rod Williams, Sept. 12, 2021 - In my last essay on the topic of climate change, I said that climate change was an established fact and that time was running out to do anything about it and that given the path we are on we are facing a climate disaster. I said very little real progress is being made and expressed pessimism that any real progress would be made unless something changes.   Companies and nations cook the books to show progress when progress is not really happening, political leaders and titans of industry engage in meaningless greenwashing, and while the world's advanced countries make some progress it is dwarfed by increased production of greenhouse gases from developing countries, primarily China and to a lesser extent India. 

So much of what we are doing about climate change is ineffective, anemic, wasted effort, simply symbolic, and counterproductive.

Take an example from California for instance.  Forrest fires rage across California with increased frequency.  A management tool to combat forest fires is to have prescribed burns in which managed fires are set to reduce the fuel load available for wildfires. This is a proven strategy for reducing wildfires. It works.  Wildfires are terribly destructive, displacing populations, costing billions of dollars of loss of property, and loss of human life.  In addition, wildfires produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gases.  

California is the most aggressive state in the union in attempting to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and it calculates the volume of greenhouse gases produced in the State. Under California's calculation of greenhouse gas emissions, a prescribed burn is considered a human-caused source of emissions and included in the calculation while greenhouse gas emissions from a wildfire are not.  Think about that.  Is that logical? Apparently, environmentalists and California politicians cannot see that this policy not only leads to the loss of property and lives and causes misery and economic loss, but it actually increases the emission of greenhouse gases. This is insanity. (link)

Another example of how environmental activism leads to policies that if successful would lead to the production of more greenhouse gasses is the opposition to fracking. The improvement in the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is primarily the result of coal having been supplanted by natural gas. Both coal and natural gas are fossil fuels and both produce greenhouse gases but natural gas produces far lower emissions than coal when used to produce electricity.  Power companies have been replacing aging coal-fired plants with natural gas plants, not because they have to but because it is profitable. In many cases, they are retiring coal-fired plants earlier than necessary to reap the benefits of cheaper and cleaner natural gas.  In 2016 natural gas passed coal as being the leading source of power plant fuel. 

The change that occurred to make this transition to natural gas possible is the result of fracking. Without fracking, natural gas would be too expensive and in too short of a supply to replace coal plants with natural gas.  Fracking, as readers probably know, is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks in order to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Environmentalist activists have fought fracking from day one. I support reasonable safety precautions to ensure that fracking does not harm water tables, but any negative consequences of fracking have been minimal.  Any negative consequences from natural gas production by fracking are probably less than the environmental consequences of coal production. 

If it was up to the environmentalist community we would not see this transition to cleaner natural gas. This improvement in greenhouse gas emission came about in spite of environmentalists and was the result of good old fashion market forces or  "greed," as liberals like to call it. The effect of opposing fracking is to support a higher level of greenhouse gas emissions. While President Biden initially took action to ban fracking on public land, he has taken no action to ban all fracking, and since his initial action, his administration has allowed fracking on public lands to resume.  Thankfully. Biden has not kept his campaign promise.   

One of the most highly touted efforts to combat climate change has been the Paris Agreement. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has continued to rise. The goal of the agreement was to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2° above preindustrial levels and to reach global net-zero emissions by sometime in the second half of the current century. Under the agreement, each country is supposed to develop a carbon emissions reduction plan every five years and then evaluate its own progress. While this is a treaty, it has no mechanism to force a country to do anything and no penalties for not making progress.  It may be better than nothing, but not much better.  It amounts to not much more than a promise to do better.  

There are numerous other examples of the ineffective, anemic, wasteful, simply symbolic, and counterproductive measures adopted in the name of stopping global warming. The environmentalist's ten-year effort to stop the Keystone pipeline is one example.  For now, it is stopped but lawsuits are continuing that may start it back.  If it stays stopped, however, it will do nothing to reduce or slow the growth of climate change.  Some of the Canadian oil will still reach refineries but by the more environmentally dangerous trek by truck, rail, and ocean tanker.  What does not reach refineries will be replaced by oil imported from often unfriendly, mid-Eastern, authoritarian countries. Stopping Keystone was a feel-good symbolic victory that made no difference in the effort to combat climate change. 

A requirement that gasoline contains 10% ethanol is another primarily wasted effort that makes people feel good but accomplishes little. In fact, the growing of all of the corn necessary to produce ethanol has serious environmental harmful impacts. To learn much more about The Ethanol Fallacy,  see this link

A current misguided feel-good effort that will accomplish little is the development of plug-in hybrid cars. An article in the Wall Street Journal calls them "an Illusion of Eco-Consciousness." Real electric or electric-gas hybrids have their environmental problems and may not be as eco-friendly as they make the owner of such cars feel but they reduce carbon emissions.  The new generation of battery-powered cars, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) may do nothing to reduce emissions.  They are "compliance babies." They provide plenty of power but have the battery to either meet the fleet requirements of regulators or industry public promises or to make the purchaser of such cars feel righteous.  They may actually be harmful to the environment. This excerpt from the WSJ article explains:

PHEVs may yet have a bigger problem: NOX, or nitrous oxide, a hazardous smog-forming product of combustion. At a workshop in May, CARB officials raised concerns about PHEVs’ excessive NOX emissions during full-power cold starts, as when an IC engine kicks on after a period of electric driving. One probable explanation: Emission-scrubbing catalytic converters in exhaust systems only work after they are well heated by the exhaust stream, typically requiring 20 seconds or so. It’s most cars’ dirtiest seconds; PHEVs often spend them with wide-open throttles.

There is much more that illustrates that our effort to combat climate change so far has been characterized as wasted efforts on things that don't really address the issue, anemic policies, pure stupidity, and policies that make the problem worse.  In part three of this series, I will share my thoughts on why our efforts have been so feeble and misguided and what I think needs to change to put us on a track to really address this serious issue. 

To see the first essay in this series see, Get real about Climate Change. Part 1: Climate change is an established fact and time is running out to do anything about it. 

Update, 9/17/2021- This excerpt from a Spectator article, further explains how we are failing in the effort to combat climate change:

The first 20 years after the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change saw carbon dioxide emissions rise 60 percent. From 2012 to 2019, they rose a further 5.4 percent. However this is dressed up, it’s failure.

Meanwhile, the West’s energy emissions have been more or less flat for nearly three decades and on a downward trend since 2007. Emissions from the Rest of the World account for all the growth in global emissions, suddenly accelerating in 2002 from an average of around 1 percent a year to nearly 5 percent a year in the 12 years until 2014.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Memphis Gave IKEA $9.5 Million While Several Smaller Furniture Stores Went Under

Memphis Gave IKEA $9.5 Million While Several Smaller Furniture Stores Went Under. by JOHN STOSSEL, Reason, 9.15.2021 - ...

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Republicans don't like telling businesses what to do ...

... unless it is telling them what kind of sign they must have on their bathrooms, or telling them they cannot prohibit their employees from bringing guns onto their property, or telling them they may not require their employees to have certain vaccinations. 

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Republicans still snatching defeat from the jaws of victory; Lesson from California.

by Rod Williams, 9-16-2021 - I think there are lessons to be taken from the defeat of the Governor Gavin Newsom recall effort in California.  Some of these lessons should have already been learned but Republicans are slow learners.  We should have won the two Georgia senate seats that caused us to lose control of the Senate, but when Trump went to Georgia and made the election about Trump, when he attacked other elected Georgia Republican leaders, and when he spread doubts that one's vote was likely to be counted, he tamped down Republican turn-out and handed Georgia to the Democrats on a silver platter.

In California, It was an uphill battle to recall Newsom, but not impossible.  Republicans made sure it wasn't going to happen. I hope Republicans can learn some important lessons between now and the mid-term.  We should win the mid-term, but if we do things the way we have been doing them, we won't. The mid-terms need to be a referendum on Biden; not Trump. 

Here is what I take away from the California recall:

  • If we make the election about Donald Trump, we lose.  
  • We can't win with candidates that fire up the base but have no cross-over appeal.
  • The myth of the stolen election is toxic.
My friend Mark Rogers shared an insight about the California recall election yesterday on Facebook. While I may not express it so bluntly as Mr. Rogers, I generally concur.  I am reposting his Facebook comment below. 

This insightful analysis from Rich Lowery appears in Politico today and explores the same concerns. Opinion | The Stolen-Election Myth Has Become an Albatross for the GOP. It is well worth reading. 

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There is no reason three Republican House seats could not be carved out for Davidson County.

by Rod Williams, Aug. 23, 2021- At the last meeting of First Tuesday, First Tuesday host Tim Skow made a presentation and displayed the map shown on this page. What the map shows is that there are Republican voters in Davidson County and they are clustered in contiguous neighborhoods.  This should make it possible to create rational house districts that are winnable by Republicans. 

We know that Davidson County is a Democrat county.  Davidson County and Shelby County are the only two islands of blue in a red sea that is the state of Tennessee.  Davidson County, however, while predominantly Democrat, is not totally devoid of Republican voters. In the most recent presidential election, Trump got 32% of the vote in Davidson County.  In Hagerty's race for the U. S. Senate, he garnered 34% of the Davidson County vote and in the race for governor, Bill Lee won 36% of the Davidson County vote.

If Republicans represent about a third of the voters it seems reasonable that about a third of the statehouse seats should be held by Republicans. If these Republican votes were evenly dispersed throughout the county, it would be difficult to create districts winnable by Republicans, but they are not.  

There are parts of town, such as the Black districts of North Nashville, the areas around the college campuses, and East Nashville that are overwhelmingly Democrat districts. It is hard to find a Republican in some of these districts. It is a fact that people tend to live in neighborhoods with people like themselves.  So, while there are parts of the county, that are overwhelmingly Democrat, there are also parts of the county where Republicans dominate or where Democrats and Republicans are almost evenly split.

Look at the following map.  This map is a map of council districts and precincts.  Precincts are the subdivision of council districts.  They simply divide a district into convenient voting areas.  They are designed to designate clusters of voters who vote at the same location. There are 162 presents in the county.

This map shows precincts that Trump won and those where he came close to winning and the percentage of the vote Trump received. The number is red is the percentage of voters in that precinct who voted for Trump. 

Here is a close-up of part of the above.

This map shows the same as shown in the first map above with the Republican precincts or precincts where Republicans can be competitive colored in.  Don't hold me to the boundaries being exact, but it is a close enough approximation to show that there are contiguous areas of the county that could be carved out as Republican house districts. The districts may have to cross county lines in some cases and may represent voters in Davidson County and some voters from adjoining counties but there is nothing wrong with doing that.  There are many seats in the Statehouse and Senate where the districts cross county lines.

Nashville has had house seats and a senate seat held by Republicans in recent years.  Representative Beth Harwell, Senator Steve Dickerson, Representative Jim Gotto all represented parts of Davidson County. Now, however, there are no Republicans representing Davidson County.  By contrast, Shelby County has three Republicans in the Statehouse.  

There are ten house seats representing Davidson County in the State House of Representatives. Redistricting could carve out at least three seats winnable by Republicans.  It is doable. There is no reason it couldn't be done. I will be disappointed it is not. 

Also, see  the following: 

It would not be hard to dilute Democratic votes in Nashville by splitting them up among several districts.

 Metro Planning Readies for Redistricting, Launches Website and Survey

Bloomberg Law says Republicans could split Davidson County into four districts, endangering Cooper’s hold. I say, "Do it!"

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

About 300 Afghan refugees will be coming to Nashville, ...

 ... I say let us welcome them with an open heart and open arms. (For more on the story, see this link.)

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Metro Council bill seeks to regulate, require permits for Nashville's party vehicles

Fox 17 -A new Metro Council bill seeks to regulate Nashville's party buses amid recent pushes to make Music City's streets safer. 

Anyone who's been to Lower Broadway has probably seen them: buses, mobile hot tubs, tractors and more, filled with partiers. Councilman Freddie O'Connell said his new bill would regulate transpotainment in the city with things like limiting open containers and requiring local permits for vehicles and drivers. (read more)

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Friday, September 10, 2021

It is “not about me,” says Congressman Cooper has he pleads with House redistricting committee to keep his seat safe from a Republican challenger.

Read more.

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Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn was featured by the New York Times

by Rod Williams - Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn was featured by

Penny Schwinn
the New York Times in a lengthy feature titled, "How Will America Recover from a Broken School Year?" She is one of six experts who discuss the consequences of missed learning. Below are some excerpts from this article.
How Have Kids Fared? ...
Penny Schwinn: It’s really difficult. It’s also no one’s fault. Educators did herculean things through the year, and still students’ scores went down and achievement went down. In our state, among all our economically disadvantaged students, third through eighth grade, one in seven is on grade level in language arts and one in 10 is on grade level in math. Among the biggest drops we saw occurred in districts that also had the longest periods of remote instruction in the last school year. This has no doubt exacerbated achievement gaps that have existed in our state for years. For example, I’ve got only 3 percent of low-income students in Memphis who can do math on grade level in eighth grade. ...

Should Schools Test Kids Academically? ...
Schwinn: In Tennessee, the Legislature came back and did a special session to ensure that student testing would take place. The bill promised no negative consequences for any district, school or teacher as long as 80 percent of students took the assessment. We knew how important it was to have the cold, hard facts, and we knew that families really wanted to know how their kids were doing academically after a pandemic school year. Now that student scores are available, we’ve had more parents logging into our online family portal than we expected — all to find out how their child’s scores compare to their previous scores. 

Unless we have this good data that shows how our students are doing, we can’t make informed decisions to ensure those students receive the additional support they need. And candidly, the business community is very important here. When they see the testing data, and they understand what it indicates for their future work force, they’ve pushed on the academic front and for the support that enable academic success — in opinion columns and conversations with legislators, for example.
Read the full article at this link.  The above highlighting is mine. 

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Nashville school board pledges to fight white supremacy culture, homophobia, and ethnocentrism, and all other forms of prejudice and discrimination amid critical race theory ban

by Rod Williams - In May the General Assembly passed a law banning the teaching of Critical Race theory in Tennessee schools and the Metro Nashville School Board has passed a resolution to defy, or sort of defy, the State. The State legislature did not call CRT by name but banned the teaching of certain tenets of CRT.

The Metro School Board postured as if this is a ban on fighting White supremacy. 

Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline developed in the 90's based on identity Marxism. Traditional Marxism is based on dialectic materialism pitting workers against capitalists. Reform and rising standards of living and the failure of Communism, the gulags, the show trails, and the fall of the Soviet Union led to the failure of traditional Marxism to gain any meaningful foothold in America.  Americans never developed any real class consciousness.

Marxists however did not give up their goal of radically transforming society and advanced newer interpretations of Marxism that substitutes race for class. For a long time advances in civil rights and racial equality resulted in CRT failing to gain adherents.  Marxist however did not give up and for about the last decade the Marxist CRT has been gaining more adherents. Playing on White guilt, adherents of CRT found many "useful idiots," and CRT found its way into institutions and public education.

There are many definitions of CRT, but this one from Britannica summarizes it nicely. 
... intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.

With this dogma, equality is not a desirable outcome but  "equity" is the goal.  America is an irredeemably racist society the theory teaches.  Even to deny one is a racist is a proof that one is a racist. All White people are racist and people should not be judged by any objective standards but only race.  Any difference in outcomes of one group from another from homeownership rates to college graduation rates to incarceration rates to attainment of wealth to death from disease or violence is the result of systemic racism.  The cure is a great leveling.  Equal opportunity is not what is desirable but equal outcomes.  This requires abolishing private property and any system that rewards merit.

The theory has entered the mainstream with corporations and institutions and governments instituting indoctrination sessions to enlighten people on the racist attitudes they hold and to raise the consciousness of the oppressors and the oppressed. Recently the theory has worked its way into public education instruction.

In response to the worming of its way into public education, the State of Tennessee banned the teaching of the tenets of CRT. This is the relevant portion of the law that bans the teaching of the tenets of critical race theory:

(a) An LEA or public charter school shall not include or promote the following concepts as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or allow teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote the following concepts:

(1) One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; - 13 - 008140
(2) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously; 
(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex; 
(4) An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex 
 (5) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; 
(6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex; 
(7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex; 
(8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist; 
(9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government; 
(10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people; or 
(11) Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex.

The law not only bans these concepts from being taught but goes to pains to make sure the law is not misunderstood by saying what is not banned

b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), this section does not prohibit an LEA or public charter school from including, as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or from allowing teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include

(1) The history of an ethnic group, as described in textbooks and instructional materials adopted in accordance with part 22 of this chapter; 
(2) The impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history; 
(3) The impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region; or 
(4) Historical documents relevant to subdivisions (b)(1) - (3) that are permitted under § 49-6-1011. 

Why the Metro School Board took such strong exception to this law is beyond me but they did. The Metro School Board has pushed back against the state by passing a resolution pledging to fight white supremacy, homophobia, and ethnocentrism.  Here is the way the press is reporting the issue:

Nashville school board pledges to fight racism, white privilege amid critical race theory ban

by Meghan Mangrum, The Tennessean - Despite Tennessee's new ban on teaching topics related to critical race theory, Nashville's school board has pledged to help eradicate institutional racism and white supremacy culture. 

Eight members of the Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday in support of "a multicultural education" for the district's more than 80,000 students. 

"The Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education will advocate for research and implementation of social and educational strategies that foster the eradication of institutional racism and white privilege perpetuated by white supremacy culture," the resolution reads. "[And will] furthermore, stand behind teachers who teach the Tennessee Academic Standards in a factual manner that represents the truth of this country’s history." (read more)

MNPS Pushes Back Against Critical Race Theory Law With Resolution 

by  KELSEY BEYELER, Nashville Scene, AUG 25, 2021 -  The Metro Nashville Public School board at Tuesday's meeting presented a resolution that pushes back against a recent law regarding what has come to be known as critical race theory. 

Through critical race theory itself is a concept most commonly taught in law school and very rarely in K-12 public schools, the state legislature passed the law in May, limiting what teachers can and cannot teach regarding topics like race and sex. 

The law itself is vague, and until more specific guidance from education commissioner Penny Schwinn came out earlier this month, teachers didn’t know how it might affect in-classroom instruction. Both parents and teachers have repeatedly addressed the matter with the school board. While some have supported the law, most do not. 

Teachers have asked the school board for protection, and the Metropolitan Nashville Educators Association — the teacher’s union — specifically asked for the resolution. (read more)

Below is the full text of what the school board passed:


WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Board of Education believes a multicultural education should promote the recognition of individual and group differences and similarities in order to reduce racism, homophobia, ethnocentrism, and all other forms of prejudice and discrimination and to facilitate the development of self-esteem as well as respect for others among all students; and 

WHEREAS, more than 70% of Metro Nashville Public Schools’ students are students of color, and the overall student population represents 139 countries of origin; and  

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Board of Education believes that educational materials and activities should accurately portray the influences and contributions of ethnic and other minorities, women, and world religions; and  

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Board of Education believes that academic freedom, which includes the rights of teachers and learners to explore and discuss divergent points of view, is essential to the teaching profession; and  

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Board of Education recognizes that the Tennessee State Social Studies standards require providing students with opportunities to explore current events by drawing connections between the past and modern day, develop and defend their opinions, and analyze multiple points of view; and  

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Board of Education believes that, in order to achieve racial and social justice, educators must acknowledge the root causes of institutional racism, structural racism, and white privilege; and  

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Public Schools Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion exists to address issues of racism, homophobia, ethnocentrism, and all other forms of prejudice and discrimination within Metro Nashville Public Schools; and  

WHEREAS, all students deserve to see accurate representations of themselves in their education, and learning about the contributions, successes, and challenges of non-white people is critical to long-term educational development and understanding.  

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION will; advocate for research and implementation of social and educational strategies that foster the eradication of institutional racism and white privilege perpetuated by white supremacy culture.  

FURTHERMORE, stand behind its adoption of curricular materials that adhere to the Tennessee Academic Standards;  

FURTHERMORE, stand behind teachers who teach the Tennessee Academic Standards in a factual manner that represents the truth of this country’s history;  

FURTHERMORE, support and defend teachers’ use of materials that incorporate diverse, accurate viewpoints that are representative of the student body in their classrooms;  

FURTHERMORE, ensure that individual teachers who teach the Tennessee Academic Standards are not punished for teaching accurate information.  

ADOPTED BY THE ELECTED METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION, on the 24th of August, 2021, with this Resolution to take immediate effect, the public welfare requiring it.

My take on this is that Metro has not said exactly that they will defy the state and teach CRT despite the ban. This looks like some virtue signaling to the woke and some grandstanding.  It does tell me however that parents need to watch Metro Schools like a hawk.  I expect some teachers to try to push the envelope and get as close as they can to teaching CRT without crossing that line or cross the line and hope it is not noticed.  If a teacher does cross the line, Metro Schools and the teachers union will defend the teacher.

One thing I take away from this is that we need more sensible less woke people serving on the School Board.  Another is that parents need to know what is being taught in their child's school.  Teachers can not be trusted to follow the law and Metro Schools cannot be trusted to ensure they do.  I think it is time to have cameras in every classroom. 

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Nashville man peacefully protesting at the Capitol during the mostly peaceful riot caught on camera smoking in a non-smoking area.


Nashvillian Christopher Michael Cunningham was identified as one of those inside the capitol during the mostly peaceful Jan 6th protest at the Capitol. He is charged with entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so, "with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions."  Looking at this photo it looks like he is smoking.  The news reports do not report that he is also charged with smoking in a non-smoking area. (link)

I think the attack on the Capitol was despicable. However, it was no more despicable than the hundreds of BLM riots across the country last summer.  Many BLM rioters were never arrested.  Many who were had their charges dropped or got very light sentences. I think those non-violent protestors who entered the Capitol should be punished comparable to the punishment we handed out to BLM protestors who committed similar offenses.  It looks like Cunningham was just somewhere where he was not supposed to be.  The charges should be dropped. 

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Majority of Tennesseans believe public education is on the wrong track, new poll finds

" ...student performance plunged after a year of school closures and disruptions. Only 29% of Tennessee students tested on grade-level in English language arts last spring, and even less — 25% — are on grade-level in math. ...the pessimism crosses partisan lines. ... Nearly 62% of respondents believe the public education system is failing to prepare young people for employment and adult life, with 59% of registered Republicans lacking faith in the system compared to 60% of Democrats." To read this Tennessean story, follow this link.

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No more drinking on party buses? Someone is having fun! We must stop them!

Metro is intent on killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs. It seems Metro government is determined to destroy the Nashville entertainment industry.  I also really believe there are some people who are not happy if someone somewhere is having fun.  I agree with the comment of my friend Mark Rogers. To read the reverenced article follow this link

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Metro Council passes indoor mask requirement resolution

 It is a resolution, not an ordinance.  It request Metro Health to mandate a mask requirement for indoor public spaces for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. An ordinance that would also require the same thing is working its way through the Council. The sponsor of both the resolution and the ordinance is Council member Joy Styles.

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Saturday, September 4, 2021

This week in coronavirus: Tennessee climbs to the top of the worst list

This week in coronavirus: Tennessee climbs to the top of the worst list

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In Tennessee, only 53% of educational funding makes it into the classroom, 7% below the national average.

by Rod Williams - The Beacon Center has released a report showing how the state of Tennessee spends tax dollars on education. The report examines the ways Tennessee is currently spending money and where improvement is needed. Here are some of the highlights of the report: 
  • In Tennessee, only 53% of educational funding makes it into the classroom, 7% below the national average.
  • Since 2012, after inflation, the average teacher’s salary has actually decreased by 1.5% while the average superintendent’s salary has grown by 8.3%. 
  • Tennessee taxpayer investment in K-12 education has grown and now sits at nearly $11 billion, yet the percentage of money that makes it into the classroom continues to shrink. 
  • Since our last report in 2018, administrative spending has increased by a whopping 13.5% while total spending has only increased by 3%. /
  • Tennessee taxpayers spend $11,391 per student. That number is five times more than surveys show school parents believe is spent. 
Beacon Center Research Associate and co-author of the report Jason Edmonds stated, “There is a lot to be desired when it comes to how the state of Tennessee is spending our tax dollars on education. While we keep hearing how education is underfunded, the real issue right now is that the money isn’t making it into the classroom. It’s unacceptable that only 53% of the $11 billion Tennessee spends on education makes it into the classroom, a figure that is nearly 7% lower than the national average. We continue to spend more and more on administration and systems rather than funding students and teachers.”

To read the full report follow this link

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Mayor Cooper picks controversial Finance Director with ties to city contractor; Metro Council members voice concerns.

Nashville mayor's finance director pick has ties to controversial city contractor.

Saul Solomon
by: Phil Williams Sep 03, 2021  (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper's pick as interim finance director -- the man in charge of the city's checkbook -- faces new controversy. That nominee, former Metro legal director Saul Solomon, is a lawyer who's been fighting efforts to force a major engineering firm to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nashville taxpayers. Solomon's connection to that firm, Collier Engineering, has raised eyebrows about Cooper’s decision to nominate him to the city's second most-powerful position.

"It is about perception and perception matters - especially in government," said Metro Council Member Angie Henderson, who has been a frequent critic of Collier's business practices. 

Collier Engineering’s involvement with millions of dollars in the city’s road and sidewalk construction programs has been filled with controversy, especially revelations of its efforts to wine and dine city officials with controls over city contracts. (read more

Metro Council members voice concerns over Saul Solomon's finance director appointment. 

by Cassandra Stephenson, The Tennessean-  Metro Council members are scrutinizing Nashville Mayor John Cooper's suggested appointment of attorney and former executive Saul Solomon as the city's interim finance director. 

Among their concerns: skepticism that Solomon's extensive legal and executive experience equates to the level of financial experience required by Nashville's charter, and worries that Solomon has a conflict of interest due to his past legal representation of Collier Engineering, whose contract with Metro is under years-long investigation. 

"I think Saul has a great reputation as a manager. I think he's got a great reputation as a lawyer. I think he's got a great reputation as a lawyer for municipal government," At-large Metro Council member Bob Mendes said. "But the charter is pretty specific about what's required, and ... it's not clear to me that he meets the criteria of the charter to be finance director." 

...Solomon's appointment to the role will go before the Metro Council for approval on Tuesday where it will need votes from 21 of Nashville's 40 council members to pass. 

..Solomon will fill the role in an interim basis until the city hires a permanent replacement, the charter does not provide for an interim appointment, meaning Solomon's appointment as finance director would not be limited by an interim timeframe. (link)

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Friday, September 3, 2021

NFIB Urges U.S. District Court in Tennessee to Uphold Decision to End COVID-19 Unemployment Supplements Early

NFIB press release, NASHVILLE (Sept. 3, 2021) – The NFIB Small Business Legal Center has filed an amicus brief with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in the case of C.M. v. Lee, supporting Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to end federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits early. Click here to read the brief.

“The federal unemployment benefit was always intended as a temporary fix to last year’s sudden downturn,” NFIB State Director Jim Brown said. “Some people might be staying home to care for young children or older relatives or because they’re looking for a specific job, but ending the federal benefit early clearly has encouraged more people to return to work and kept Tennessee’s labor shortage from being worse.” 

Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, said, “Governor Lee clearly has the authority to end Tennessee’s participation in a federally funded program that he believes discourages some people from reentering the workforce and frustrates the state’s economic recovery.” 

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Robby Starbuck on Fox News: Warning To Biden For Leaving Americans Behind on Fox News

Robbie Starbuck is a candidate for Congress looking seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Jim Cooper.  


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Free Public Records and Open Meetings Training

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Open Records Counsel (OORC) is conducting three 2-hour virtual training seminars in the month of October for government employees, elected officials, media, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Tennessee’s public records and open meetings laws. 

Open Records Counsel Lee Pope will lead each class through a variety of topics including public records laws and procedures, open meetings requirements, and exceptions to the Tennessee Public Records Act. Qualifies for Certified Municipal Finance Officer, Certified County Finance Officer, and Utility Commissioner training credits. 
Oct. 7, 2021 - 1-3 p.m. CDT 
Oct. 12, 2021 - 1-3 pm. CDT 
Oct. 20, 2021 - 1-3 p.m. CDT 
For more information, click here.

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Dr. Ming Wang to be keynote speaker at Bedford County Regan Day Dinner.

On Thursday, September 16th, the Bedford County Republican Party will host its 2021 Reagan Day Dinner featuring keynote speaker, Dr. Ming Wang.  $40 per person. For more info, follow this link

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Constitution Day Celebration Sept. 17th

 Follow this link to order tickets. 

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Williamson County GOP Mix and Mingle, Wednesday, September 15, 2021

For more information, follow this link

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Davidson County rep feels ire of motorists over emissions testing

BY: SAM STOCKARD, Tennessee Lookout, AUGUST 31, 2021 -State Rep. Darren Jernigan is getting an earful from constituents wondering why they have to keep testing car emissions while neighbors in surrounding counties won’t when 2022 rolls around. ... as of January 2022, Davidson will be the only county in the state to test emissions after surrounding counties opted out of a voluntary program approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ... Following passage of a 2018 law giving counties the opportunity to get out of the emissions testing program – pending approval by the EPA – surrounding counties such as Sumner, Rutherford, Wilson and Williamson voted to drop emissions testing. Nashville’s Metro Council, though, voted in 2018 to maintain the program. (link)

The following counties will not require emissions testing in 2022:  
  • Hamilton 
  • Rutherford 
  • Sumner 
  • Williamson 
  • Wilson

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Nashville rents have increased 3.0% over the past month, and have increased sharply by 12.8% in comparison to the same time last year.

by Rod Williams - As reported by Apartment list, currently, median rents in Nashville stand at $1,208 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,393 for a two-bedroom. This is the seventh straight month that the city has seen rent increases after a decline in January. Nashville's year-over-year rent growth lags the state average of 15.3%, but exceeds the national average of 12.4%.

For the full report, follow this link. 

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Memphis could lose legislative seat as census reveals plummeting population

Memphis could lose legislative seat as census reveals plummeting population

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The 911 Event, September 11th, Lebanon, TN


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20th Anniversary of 911 - A Salute to First Responders


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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

New Report Ranks Tennessee's Teacher Pension Plans Second Best in the Nation, Most Get a Failing Grade.

By Kaitlin Mulhere, Money,  August 31, 2021 -  Roughly three-quarters of states offer teachers a retirement plan that isn’t making the grade, according to a ranking released Tuesday. Just 13 states received either a B or a C grade overall in Bellwether Education Partner’s latest look at teacher retirement plans. None received an A. 

South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Utah and New York scored closest, topping the nonprofit organization’s new ranking.  Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Kentucky New Jersey and Illinois rounded out the bottom five states. (Read more)

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Judge rules short-term rental law unconstitutional

by CARLEY GORDON, WSMV, AUG 30, 2021  A judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional not to allow short-term rentals in Hendersonville. The ruling could have consequences across the state. (link)

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Tennessee Democrats will pay $103K fine to FEC

Audit findings stem from 2016 election cycle 

by STEPHEN ELLIOTT, Nashville Post, AUG 31, 2021 -  The Tennessee Democratic Party will pay a civil penalty totaling $103,000 to resolve a series of issues federal regulators had with the party’s financial reporting during the 2016 election cycle. The Federal Election Commission found that the party improperly reported millions of dollars' worth of contributions during the cycle, much of that transferred from joint fundraising accounts with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The party later accounted for most of the contributions. ...

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Tennessee says lack of applications to blame for small distribution of rental relief money

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Aug 25, 2021 – Tennessee has disbursed only $17.2 million of the

$383.4 million worth of Emergency Rental Assistance program money the state received in the first wave of funding for the COVID-19 relief program. 

Nearly $2 million of the amount has been paid out in the past two weeks, but it still pales in comparison to the total money available, with $312 million more applied for and received from the state in Phase 2 of the program, called ERA2. 

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency distributes the rental relief in 91 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, while some larger counties, such as Davidson and Shelby counties, distribute the funds through their own local agencies. 

“In Tennessee and many other states, the number of applications for COVID rent relief are far fewer than expected,” THDA spokesperson Rebecca Anderson said. “THDA is continuing outreach efforts to landlords, tenant groups, social service agencies and non-profits. THDA is also working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to make those who are facing eviction aware of the program.” 

Only 12% of the federal rental assistance funds had been distributed nationwide as of June 30. Only five states had distributed more than 20% of their funds, and only 10% of localities distributed more than 50%. Tennessee ranked 31st in the nation in the amount of funds distributed through the end of June.  

To combat the low fund distribution rates, the Biden administration has continued to ask states to do what they can to simplify and speed up the process of fund distribution.  

“For months, the administration has worked to speed up state and local grantees’ delivery of ERA and help keep American families stably housed,” the White House said Wednesday in a news release. “As the president has made clear, no state or locality should delay distributing resources that have been provided by Congress to meet families’ critical needs and prevent the tragedy of unnecessary eviction.  

“Most notably, today, Treasury is providing even more explicit permission for grantees to utilize self-attestation without further documentation in order to speed the delivery of assistance to households in need during the public health emergency.”  

The lack of fund distribution also directly impacts landlords.  

Gary Heath, president of Good Landlords in Louisville, Tennessee, said no landlord wants to have to evict a tenant who cannot pay rent.  

“It is usually a last resort to resolve an undesired situation. It’s expensive and time-consuming and leaves a landlord with an empty unit to repair and restore,” Heath said. “Many landlords are small operations with only a few units. When a tenant or two doesn’t pay their rent as expected, it may put the owner in a dire condition. They have mortgages to pay, taxes and insurance and other cost any property owner has to deal with. Any homeowner with a mortgage who suddenly loses their income would probably struggle with the same emotions many landlords feel today.  

“I understand politicians and uninvolved citizens wanting to protect tenants who are truly having a hard-time at no fault of their own, but I wish they wouldn’t ignore how their decisions affect a struggling property-owner.”  

Heath said he has referred a few tenants to the rental relief program but several have struggled to acquire payments.  

“Sadly, some of the people who need the help don’t have access to the internet, a few don’t even have an email address,” Heath said. “When they called the number, they were told they’d have to apply on line. Online is still unknown territory to many uninformed individuals who need the help.”  

The THDA's Anderson encouraged those who are struggling to receive benefits to call the THDA Rent Relief call center at 844-500-1112.  

The White House said it is encouraged that July’s distribution numbers look better than previous months. In July, 341,000 households received rental and utilities assistance, up from 293,000 in June and 157,000 in May, the White House said.  

Anderson said the TDHA is looking continuously for ways to increase its distributions.  

“To name just a few improvements made, THDA has decreased the amount of uploaded documentation required by an applicant and simplified the process for obtaining prospective rent payments for eligible applicants,” Anderson said. “We will continue to monitor and evaluate the program and make adjustments, when appropriate, to help better serve Tennesseans in need of this funding.”  

A nationwide eviction moratorium ended at the end of July, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the moratorium shortly after it ended. However, a ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined the moratorium did not apply in Tennessee and the surrounding states that it serves.  

“Has the eviction moratorium affected me and other landlords in the state? Of course, it has,” Heath said. “When a tenant doesn’t pay their rent, it disrupts the chain of commerce. It could cause a ripple that affects banks and suppliers. It puts the entire burden of supporting these tenants in the laps of the landlords.”

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