Saturday, July 30, 2022

Will Senator Josh Hawley's Manhood meet expectation?

by Rod Williams, July 30, 2022 - This is laugh-out-loud funny, and I just have to share it. 


I assume you know who Josh Hawley is? He is the Senator from Missouri who when walking into the Capitol on January 6th gave a fist pump to the already rowdy crowd of Trumpinista insurrectionists being held back by Capitol police. It is reported his fist pump further riled the mob. Later he is filmed running 
for his life in the Capitol trying to flee the angry mob. (link)

Well, Josh Hawley has a new book to come out in May of next year called Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America NeedsJohna Goldberg of The Dispatch has some fun at Hawley's expense.  Here it is:
Sen. Josh Hawley has a book coming out titled Manhood. I would love to see the internal discussions at Regnery about how to market Josh Hawley’s Manhood. How many times did the editors say, “Let’s keep it short,” or, “Hawley’s Manhood is running implausibly long.” When his Manhood goes on sale, eager customers will go to the store to grab Hawley’s Manhood at full price, others will wait until it ends up at Costco where his Manhood will be available for cheap, and others will simply say that Hawley’s Manhood is cheap at any price and always for sale. 

Critical reviewers will suffer from a literary version of Peyronie's disease and bend whole paragraphs toward declaring the prose in Josh Hawley’s Manhood limp and his reasoning less than rigid and hard to grasp. Favorable reviewers will strain to avoid calling the insights of Josh Hawley’s Manhood seminal. His comms people will gird their loins for his Manhood’s first sales reports. Will Hawley’s Manhood have a soft debut? If so, they will hold out hope that demand will eventually swell. If Hawley’s Manhood rises to the occasion and stores sell out of his Manhood, eager buyers will go out to search in vain for Hawley’s Manhood.

Now, that's funny.

 

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Nashville committee receives overview of legal obligations for Tennessee Titans stadium repairs

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, July 30, 2020-  Metro Nashville’s East Bank Stadium Committee heard an overview of its obligations for stadium repairs, including the legal department’s definition of the key "first-class condition" term at its most recent meeting.

The terminology is key as the committee evaluates the city’s options related to the current Nissan Stadium and the Titans’ proposal for a new $2.2 billion stadium, which could include as much as $1.5 billion in public funding.

Margaret Darby, the Director and Special Counsel in the Metro Nashville council’s legal office, said on Thursday that the lease requires Nashville to keep the stadium in compliance with the law, in good condition and repair with normal wear and tear expected and having the level of improvements and technology "from time to time found at a reasonable number of comparable facilities."

Those stadiums are any completed within 10 years before or after Nissan Stadium was completed on July 30, 1999.

"Whenever I hear normal wear and tear accepted, my mind immediately goes to carpet," Darby said. "You’re going to walk on the carpet and you’re going to have normal wear and tear. That’s not something that would have to be done in order to keep something in a first-class condition."

Darby said that the new technology clause applies to new technologies that are in a majority of the comparable facilities.

"I think the main gist of this is that we are not required to pay for things that are early adopter-type technology," Darby said. "So, if the new thing was to have a screen in the back of every seat so you can watch it while you watch the football game, that would not be something that we would be required to pay for until a majority of the comparable facilities had done it."

The lease terminology has become key after Titans CEO Burke Nihill estimated at a sports authority meeting in May that the city is obligated to pay $1.839 billion in repairs and upgrades before the end of the team’s current lease.

Metro Nashville plans to hire Venue Solutions Group for at least $250,000 to conduct a study, due to be completed in November, on those obligations after the group estimated in 2017 that the city would need to complete $293.2 million in capital improvements over 20 years on the stadium.

"(In 2017), I believe that VSG was just doing an assessment of the systems in the facility to determine what types of systems were in there and the life of those systems and when they might need to be replaced," Darby said. "… I’m not sure they were looking at it from the lease perspective as much as they were just … here’s a building, here’s what’s in it and here’s what future maintenance and repairs and improvements and replacements might look like."

The city plans to attempt to obtain revenue bonds to pay for its estimated $1 billion in funding, which will come from state and local sales taxes at the stadium and surrounding district along with a 1 percentage point hotel-motel tax increase.

Council member Sean Parker added that any revenue bond shortfalls would be Metro Nashville’s responsibility to pay using general funds.

Committee Chair Bob Mendes noted that the city will not go to a referendum before obtaining bonds because that ability only comes from general obligation bonds, not the revenue bonds that have been proposed for the stadium project.

The committee is scheduled on Aug. 18, when the group will look at the city’s repair obligations under its current lease.

On Aug. 31, Mendes plans to invite Mayor John Cooper’s office and the Titans to the committee’s meeting to provide an update on the potential stadium deal.

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. The underlining in the above post is that of the publisher of Disgruntled Republican. 

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Friday, July 29, 2022

How Metro Codes destroys affordable housing, tramples property rights and due process and victimizes Blacks, the elderly, and the poor and facilitates and accelerates gentrification.

by Rod Williams, June 29, 2022- The Nashville Scene is the type of publication that could use the term "birthing person," with a straight face if publications had faces. To read the Scene you may need to refer to the Liberal Speak Translation Guide, but it can be worth the effort because despite its trendy, super-woke, snarky, elitist, condescending tone, the Scene does, on occasion, do good journalism. It does so in its most recent issue with an analysis of the Metro codes department in an article by Radley Balko called, "Code Snitching: Nashvillians Are Weaponizing Metro Codes Against ‘Undesirable’ Neighbors."

The article lays out how codes enforcement leads to an unjust war against the poor, how it contributes to the loss of affordable housing, how codes rules are arbitrary and people are prosecuted without legal due process and the Environmental Court is a joke and runs roughshod over people because most people facing a codes complaint and taken to court are not the type people with money to hire a lawyer. I have long thought and sometimes said much the same thing. The Scene article backs it up with facts and figures and analysis of lots of data. If you care about justice, affordable housing, or the plight of the poor, you need to read this article.

Having spent the bulk of my working years helping low-income people become homeowners, I am deeply concerned about the issue of affordable housing, but oppose any approach that would mandate that private developers be required to build affordable housing. Thankfully the State legislature has prevented the city from going down that path. While I do not outright oppose the city building or subsidizing the building of affordable housing, I recognize that it is a drop in the bucket of what is needed and will have very little impact.  Also, the price point of most "affordable housing," is still way above what poor people can pay. The most important thing the city could do to advance affordable housing is to do no harm. And, the city does lots of harm by destroying affordable housing and restricting the housing supply which pushes up prices.  I explain some of how the city destroys affordable housing in a blog post, "My advice to the new Mayor Cooper appointed Affordable Housing Task Force."

One way the city destroys affordable housing is by the use of codes. Let me tell of my own experience. I own a rental house. It is the house I lived in prior to where I live now.  It is a modest 2 bedroom, 1 bath house in Woodbine in the Radnor subset of Woodbine.  I rent the house for a modest $900 a month. I am sure that I could sell it for close to $275,000, or I could put $10,000 in it, get a new tenant and raise the rent to $1600 a month. I don't, because of a couple reasons.  

One, I don't make a good evil money-grubbing landlord. I still have the heart of a social worker, I guess.  My tenant is an American citizen who came here as a Cuban refugee on a raft. Despite living in this country for a long time, he speaks with a heavy accent and does not have a high school diploma. He works picking up and selling scrap metals. At times he barely scraps by.  He always pays his rent on time, however, and never complains about anything. He would have a difficult time paying a higher rent. 

In addition to being compassionate, another reason I don't sell the house or improve it and raise the rent is simply because of inertia.  I have gotten to where I don't want to deal with stuff unless I have to.  I would rather just coast. And, I don't need the extra money.

I get phone texts, phone calls, postcards, letters, and emails all of the time, sometimes a dozen or more a week, wanting to make me a cash offer on the house.  I also occasionally get turned into codes.  I suspect,  but don't know, that developers ride around looking at houses that look a little unkept or not up to date and turn the house into codes. This article provides other people's experiences that reinforce my belief that code complaints are used as a weapon by developers to accelerate gentrification.  If a person like me knows he is losing money on his house and is kind of tired of being a landlord anyway, and received a code compliant, that may be all it takes to push him into selling the house for a cash offer or to call a realtor and put in on the market.  If you don't need the rental income, who needs the headache of dealing with codes? I have no doubt codes is destroying more affordable housing units than the city can ever build. 

The Scene article covers so much ground, I am not going to try to summarize it but will provide some excerpts:

... From the street, or even the front yard, you’d be hard-pressed to understand why, according to Benford, inspectors from the Metro Codes Department have visited the couple more than 50 times. Or why, he says, they’ve racked up $3,500 in fines. Or why in 2016, just a few years after the couple finally paid off their mortgage, the city put a lien on their home — one that remains in place today. ... the first problem is the small fishing boat the couple has parked on a trailer in their front yard. That apparently isn’t allowed. ...you can’t have tools that aren’t put away. He said I can’t have the work bench. ... Everything you see out here, they told me I can’t have.” 

... Nashville prohibits residents from keeping inoperable or unregistered vehicles on residential properties unless they’re stored in an enclosed garage. Paradoxically, the city also forbids residents from making major repairs on their own vehicles ... the same Codes inspector has repeatedly shown up at his home over the years solely to demand that Benford prove that the car is operable. “I lost count of how many times he made me do that,” Benford says. “More than 20.”

“Think about who a system like this targets, and who it benefits,” ...“Poor people don’t typically call Codes on their neighbors, because poor people don’t trust the legal system. The people who benefit from complaint-driven systems are people for whom the legal system already works perfectly. Wealthy people. White people. Developers. And they usually use it as a weapon against people who don’t have the means to fight back” 

Tennessee in general is among the worst states in the country when it comes to predatory fines and fees. Environmental courts, which exist only in Davidson and Shelby counties, can add another layer of harassment. Nashville and its leaders also have strong incentives to keep the system as it is. “Want to know who benefits most from gentrification?” Hollin asks. “It ain’t developers or landlords. It’s the city of Nashville. For all the talk about affordable housing you hear from the Metro Council, remember that every time a poor family has to sell their house and move out of a ‘desirable’ neighborhood, what happens? A bigger house goes up. The property value goes up. And the city gets more tax revenue.” ...

“I’d compare it to anti-loitering laws,” ... “You have these vague laws that are wildly open to interpretation, that essentially make everyone a potential criminal. But then you have this added component where everyday people become the enforcers, with no accountability for false reporting. So everyone is a potential criminal, but the only people actually criminalized are those who happen to have neighbors who don’t like them.”

... “It shows that low-income people tend not to call Codes on other low-income people, and few people call Codes on wealthy people. It’s usually newer, wealthier residents calling codes on older, poorer people who have lived in these neighborhoods for years.”

... the inspector assigned to our case, ...  told me every plant on the slope longer than 12 inches would need to be removed. He threatened me with a fine of $50 per day, per weed, if we didn’t comply. 

Jamie Hollin recounts the first time he visited Davidson County Environmental Court, ... “I was stunned and appalled,” he says. “And frankly, to call it a court gives it way too much credit. It’s a sham. A joke. A predatory body. Here’s the common denominator among the people I saw in that room: poor, Black and elderly. Ninety-five percent of them didn’t have a lawyer. And their rights were being trampled.” ... Environmental Court is Hollin’s latest battle. He wants it abolished. 

I commend the writer of the Scene article for a job well done.  And, I commend former Metro Councilman Jamie Holin for his fight for justice.  I know Jamie Hollin is a progressive, but labels don't matter if you are fighting the good fight.  I might disagree with Hollin on some other issues, but we are certainly on the same page on this one.  I also am pleased to see The Institute for Justice, one of the recipients of my financial support, join this fight for justice in Nashville. Over the years they have fought the city over several issues when the city tried to deny people the use of their property, or the right to work, or were the victims of eminent domain abuse.

What should be done? In my view, the codes department should be required to draw up less ambiguous codes, so one would clearly know what is and is not a code violation, the Environmental Court should be abolished, anonymous complaints should be abolished, and the codes budget should be cut. 




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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Rep. Sam Whitson Earns NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award

NFIB State Director Jim Brown presenting the award to Representative Whitson Whitson. 
FRANKLIN (July 28, 2022) -- The Tennessee office of NFIB, the state’s leading small business advocacy organization, has presented its coveted Guardian of Small Business award to state Rep. Sam Whitson (District 65). Representative Whitson had a perfect NFIB Voting Record in 2021-2022, joining only 15 other Tennessee state representatives with that distinction. NFIB State Director Jim Brown made the presentation yesterday to Whitson on Tom Lawrence’s morning radio show on WAKM 950 AM in Franklin. 

The Guardian of Small Business award is the most prestigious honor that NFIB bestows on legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business. The NFIB Tennessee Leadership Council, an advisory board comprised of NFIB members, voted to present the award to Representative Whitson for his outstanding leadership on small business issues.  

“Sam Whitson is an exceptionally strong supporter of small businesses in Tennessee, not just with his words but through his many actions,” Brown said. “His leadership as chair of the House Transportation Subcommittee and as a member of the Finance, Ways & Means, Health, and Transportation committees has greatly helped small businesses in his district and across Tennessee. 

“Sam is well regarded in the legislature for many reasons, including his open-mindedness and willingness to hear from all sides of any issue. He is a key leader in the House and a great friend of small business committed to reducing burdens on our state’s entrepreneurs,” Brown said. 

“It’s a very high honor to receive the NFIB Guardian of Small Business award,” Whitson said. “I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing in the Tennessee House to promote strong job growth and to cut red tape, which have made Tennessee one of the friendliest states for small businesses. I look forward to advocating for more policies that help maintain the welcoming, predictable business environment that Tennessee’s entrepreneurs appreciate.” 

NFIB is the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization. To learn more about NFIB in Tennessee, visit www.NFIB.com/TN.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please email ALL COUNCILMEMBERS with your comments asking them to SAY YES to the RNC !

Robert Swope
by Councilman Robert Swope, July 27, 222- The ordinance to approve the contract between the RNC and Metro to host the 2024 Republican National Nominating Convention has been re-filed with the Metro Clerk to be heard by the Metro Council on August 2nd.  Additionally, we have filed a Resolution alongside the ordinance welcoming the RNC and DNC conventions to Nashville and welcoming a discussion with the State of TN enabling Development Impact Fees to be implemented in Davidson County, like they are in 93 of 95 TN counties.

Now is the time to ACT.      And WE NEED YOUR HELP!   Please email ALL COUNCILMEMBERS with your comments asking them to SAY YES to the RNC !

The direct email to all members is:  Councilmembers@Nashville.gov.

Both pieces of legislation will be considered at the August 2nd Metro Council meeting, and here are countless reasons to say YES, including:

  • Nashville, Tennessee has recently been named by National Geographic magazine as being the Number One place in the World to visit, furthering our international status as one of the greatest cities in the world, and has, for decades, been globally recognized as one of the most Welcoming Cities in America;
  • Nashville has flawlessly executed enormous citywide events including the NFL Draft, the 4th of July Celebration, the NRA Convention, the News Years Eve Bash, and numerous other events bringing tens of thousands of guests into the downtown area without incident;
  • Nashville has the unique and esteemed opportunity to host the 2024 Republican National Committee National Nominating Convention in the summer of 2024 and the opportunity to host the 2028 Democratic National Committee National Nominating Convention in the summer of 2028.  
In consideration of this opportunity, a contract between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County has been negotiated that fully indemnifies Metro from any and all financial obligations as the host of the 2024 RNC Convention.  The estimated revenues from hosting this convention are estimated to exceed $200 Million dollars net to the Metropolitan Government, and will further create additional and considerable revenue for the entire middle TN region.  The Federal contribution for this convention is $50 Million, the State of TN has committed $25 Million, and the Nashville Host Committee has agreed to cover any and all additional expenses Metro may incur;

Regarding security, it is common practice for any National Nominating Convention (RNC or DNC) to supply over 5000 additional police, fire and EMT personnel to assist in the security of these conventions, and will operate under the direction of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department;

In our capacity to host world-class events, Nashville can further its stellar reputation for welcoming respectful civil discourse on an international stage by welcoming these conventions.

PLEASE email the Metro Council, Invite your friends and family to do the same.   This is a one-time vote to show we are the Welcoming City we claim to be!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

I support Republican candidate Kelli Phillips for District 4 School Board

Why are you running for this office?

The vast majority of our school board are out of touch with the views and needs of parents, so I'm running to put parents back in control of our schools. I'm for scrapping mask mandates, focusing on better grades and banning extreme politics in our classrooms such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and discussions on topics that should be addressed at home.

Parents have been rallying against unscientific mask mandates in class that have become a huge barrier to learning - especially for children with learning needs like my son, who has a speech disorder. To see our kids unable to compete in their sports when neighboring counties were back in the field was heartbreaking.

As a proud "momma-bear" of three kids that are use our public schools, I will speak-up for the many parents who want our schools to get back to basics and focus on getting grades up for math, writing, reading and science - rather than wasting time on political issues like Critical Race Theory.

The tip of the iceberg is that across 36 of our schools, less than 10% of students are testing at grade level in Math. Of those 36, 19 schools have less than five percent of students testing at grade level. This paper reported to readers that last summer that Metro Schools saw a 6.3 percentage point drop from 25.9% in 2019 to 19.6% of students resting on track in reading. Despite the hard work of students and teachers, this cannot go on and we need change at the top with leaders prepared to focus on core subjects and vocational skills that lead well-paid and sorely needed trade jobs.

Visit her Facebook page at this link. The donate box is to the left beneath "info."
 




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I support TODD PEMBROKE Republican Candidate, MNPS District 2 School Board

 

Why am I running for School Board?

The most influential people in my life are educators. Both of my parents retired after teaching at public schools for more than 40 years, and my wife is a former MNPS school teacher of 4 years.

My biggest reason: I'm a dad. As my three young daughters begin their academic journeys, with my eldest starting Kindergarten this fall at our neighborhood MNPS school, I have a vested interest in making Metro Nashville Public Schools as strong as it can be. 

I feel compelled to run for School Board, not as a political stepping stone, but because this is where change needs to occur in order to ensure the brightest future for our children, society, and country. I've lived in District 2 for twenty years and have deep roots in this community. I share the concerns of my friends and neighbors about the chaos and mismanagement seen in MNPS during the pandemic, but I need to do more than complain or worry. It's time to be part of the solution.

If elected, I would herald the voice of parents, advocate for all children, and support our teachers and staff with steadfast resolve.

Visit his website: Todd Pembroke.

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Davidson Co. Democrats pour $70k into 4 contested school board races

By Vivian Jones, Main Street Nashville, Jul 25, 2022 - Executive committee members of the Davidson County Democratic Party voted Friday to spend $70,000 supporting Democrats in four contested school board races — nearly as much as has been spent by all candidates of all parties combined so far this cycle. (See fundraising totals and read more of this article)

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I support Senator Jack Johnson

 


Jack Johnson grew up in a small town in Texas, but has proudly called Middle Tennessee “home” since graduating from Texas State University with a degree in Education.

Jack and his wife Deanna, the Circuit Court Judge for the 21st Judicial District, are raising their three children in Franklin. Jack and Deanna met over 30 years ago at a Young Republican function, sharing the same conservative values and the same dream of a future filled with faith and family.

Jack was first elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 2006. Since his first day in office he has proudly represented Tennessean’s conservative values. Jack knows that conservative values are Tennessee values, which is why he always fights to lower taxes, defend constitutional rights, secure our southern border, protect our most vulnerable and ensure parents’ always have a voice in their children’s education.

Jack was proud to cast his first vote in the Senate for the first Republican Lieutenant Governor in 140 years.  After only two years, he was appointed as Chairman of the Government Operations Committee.  A year later, he was named Chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee.  He served as Commerce Committee Chairman for nine years until December of 2018, when he was elected by his Republican colleagues as the Senate Majority Leader.

Jack Johnson has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the financial industry, beginning his career with Third National Bank (now SunTrust).  Over the last few years, Jack worked as the Vice President of Public Affairs for an internet start-up company based in Brentwood.  More recently, Jack serves as the Senior Vice President for Studio Bank in the Cool Springs area.

Senator Johnson proudly represents the 27th District, which includes most of Williamson County. When the day’s work is done, Jack enjoys spending time with his family and playing guitar.

Visit his website: Jack Johnson, State Senate.


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So, is the Tennessee Conservatives PAC which is attacking Andy Ogles a Left-wing Pac, or a Trumpinista PAC, or a California Billionaire RINO PAC?

... And, do I care?

by Rod Williams, June 26, 2022-  The Tennesee Conservatives PAC had previously supported Trump's favorite candidate for the 5th Congressional district, Morgan Ortagus, before she was disqualified to run as a Republican by the Tennessee Republican Party.  Now the PAC has been running attack ads against Andy Ogles, a candidate for the 5th Congressional District nomination. The PAC is also supporting Tennesee State Senator Jack Johnson's opponent. Andy Ogles called the PAC, a "left-wing PAC." That seems to me, frankly, to be out of left field. The online publication and organization Tennessee Conservative says the PAC is funded by a California billionaire and Tennessee RINOs.  Despite labeling it as such the details of the article reveal the deep ties and financial funding from Donald Trump.

So, which is it? Conservative? Left-wing? RINO? Trumpinista? My conclusion from all of this is that the terms "left-wing," "Conservative," and "RINO," have no meaning when used by one Republican to describe another except to signal condemnation or virtue depending on how they are used. To call yourself a "conservative," may mean you are a right-wing nut job or Trump worshiper as opposed to what the term used to mean. To call someone "left-wing," may mean they don't support you. And, of course, the term "RINO," is the catch-all term to describe any Republican with whom you may have a difference of opinion. 

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Monday, July 25, 2022

Judge temporarily blocks White House directives on transgender use of bathrooms and Sports. For now, boys can still be prohibited from playing girls sports.

By Mark Moore, The New York Post, July 17, 2022 -​A federal judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing directives that would allow transgender students and workers to use bathrooms and locker rooms and play for sports teams that correspond to their gender identity.

Judge Charles Atchley Jr., of the Eastern District of Tennessee, ruled in favor of 20 Republican state attorney generals who sued last August, arguing that the federal directives would make it impossible for states to enforce their own rules about transgender athletes participating in girls’ sports or accessing bathrooms.

Atchley issued the temporary injunction until the matter can be resolved in the courts. (read more)

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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Former pro-Trump media calls Trump "unfit." "Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again."

 Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning

By New York Post Editorial Board, July 22, 2022 - There has been much debate over whether Trump’s rally speech on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted “incitement.” ....  What matters more — and has become crystal clear in recent days — is that Trump didn’t lift a finger to stop the violence that followed. ... He was the only one the crowd was listening to. It was incitement by silence.

Trump only wanted one thing during that infamous afternoon: to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to decertify the election of Joe Biden.  ... He thought the violence of his loyal followers would make Pence crack, or delay the vote altogether. ... he instead further fanned the flames by tweeting: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

His only focus was to find any means — damn the consequences — to block the peaceful transfer of power. It’s up to the Justice Department to decide if this is a crime. But as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.

#

The President Who Stood Still on Jan. 6

Even as the riot raged at the Capitol, Trump wouldn’t tell his supporters to stop.

By The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2022 - Shortly after Mr. Trump urged protesters to march on the Capitol, he was told violence was breaking out. At about 1:30 p.m. he went to the dining room, where he stayed until 4 p.m. There is no official record of what he did, and the photographer was told no pictures. 

All of MAGA world was texting Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that Mr. Trump needed to call off his supporters. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone testified that he argued internally “there needs to be a public announcement, fast, that they need to leave the Capitol.” He added that Mr. Meadows joined those calls throughout the day, as did Ivanka Trump. ... At 2:24 Mr. Trump issued his tweet saying Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage” to stop the electoral count. ... 

Still, the brute facts remain: Mr. Trump took an oath to defend the Constitution, and he had a duty as Commander in Chief to protect the Capitol from a mob attacking it in his name. He refused. He didn’t call the military to send help. He didn’t call Mr. Pence to check on the safety of his loyal VP. Instead he fed the mob’s anger and let the riot play out. ...

Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr. Pence passed his Jan. 6 trial. Mr. Trump utterly failed his.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Rediscovering America with Dr. Ben Carson, July 28th

 

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Moms for Liberty Williamson County School Board endorsements.

 





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Ten books every conservative should read

by Gene Wisdom, reposted July 23, 2022, Originally posted Oct. 2, 2017 - As a conservative reader and student of this outlook called conservatism I have developed a passion for helping others to “turn that light on”, to make that discovery of a set of ideas that would bring them perfect understanding, intellectual nirvana, of our political world.  No, no, not a grasp of political strategy and the correct stance between RINO’s and Tea Partiers, and how insiders operate.  Not even a policy guide presents a checklist of the issues important for conservative voters. 

 First published in 1976, and revised in 1996,
George H. Nash’s celebrated history of the postwar
conservative intellectual movement has become
the unquestioned standard in the field. This new
edition, published in commemoration of the volume’s
thirtieth anniversary includes a new preface by Nash
 and will continue to instruct anyone interested in
how today’s conservative movement was born.

(Amazon link)
No, I’ve long believed that as conservatives we need, we require, a better understanding of the ground beneath our positions.  Because I believe that conservatives are rooted both in the truth and in the knowledge that there is truth, we should hunger for it to feed our minds, to secure us to the ground and thereby protect ourselves from liberal flights of fancy.

So my friend Rod Williams tasked me to do what I’ve been tumbling around in my head for several years: present a list of the top ten books for conservatives.  I’ve got to admit, I had to kind of round out the group as the first three or so were automatic, works that I have been repeatedly sharing on Facebook and with friends, urging “Conservatives, you must read this!” 

Number one, then, is the one I have probably most worn a groove in my Facebook timeline with, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, by George H. Nash.  It is no exaggeration to declare that it is the place to start for anyone who wants to understand conservatism and who seeks to grasp the roots and foundations of modern conservative thought.  Nash explores the three-legged stool of conservatism: libertarianism, traditionalism, and anti-Communism.  And no, these legs aren’t simply marijuana legalization, the Christian right, and kill-a-commie-for-mommy.  He examines the postwar thinkers behind each of those elements and those, like William F. Buckley, who sought to bring their often disparate ideas together into a movement. 

(Amazon link)
Another standout is the second one on my list, James Burnham’s Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism.  While I believe that conservatives must be grounded in conservatism as a set of ideas and must understand their philosophical history and roots, I am convinced that we should no less seek to understand our opponent in the realm of ideas, modern liberalism.  Burnham investigates key areas such as the liberal’s view of human nature, the liberal order of values, their attachment to universalism and internationalism, their devotion to equality, and their sense of guilt.  If we do not understand the bases of their beliefs we WILL NOT understand where they seek to take us. 

A particular longstanding favorite is Men and Marriage, by George Gilder, described back in the day as Ronald Reagan’s “intellectual guru” for his landmark book, Wealth and Poverty.  For me, a key insight is Gilder’s exploration of the fact that marriage civilizes men.  He argues that single men are the bane of civilization for the destructive—and self-destructive—influences and impulses they wield in society. 

A companion that must be mentioned with Gilder’s work is Charles Murray’s blockbuster Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980.  This book is often credited as being the inspiration behind the “Clinton welfare reform” (actually the Republican welfare reform that Clinton vetoed several times before finally signing it) and its premise is that welfare policy has been a miserable failure, that the War on Poverty became instead a war on families.  He builds on Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s insight from two decades earlier, that the War on Poverty contributed to the dissolution of black families in the United States and was beginning to have the same impact on white families while expanding its destruction to blacks.  By the way, Murray carries forward and expands his contributions in his recent Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010

Because it embodies so many of the truths of conservatism our American Constitution is rightfully honored by people of various stripes on the Right and it embodies both the love of liberty and the rich history and tradition of our British forbears.  In order to understand its principles and protections we properly look to the period of its writing to understand the Framers.  

In my opinion, one of the best sources on the struggle to ratify the Constitution, a controversy which should shape how we view its provisions, is Library of America’s two-volume, The Debate on the Constitution, a collection of both Federalist and anti-Federalist arguments, for and against the Constitution, including several of Publius’s writings in The Federalist Papers.  Here I’ll throw in what I believe is another indispensable read and a reference.  In my opinion, many conservatives and liberals err in understanding what our Founders were seeking to hammer out, misunderstanding that could be allayed by simply reading James Madison’s Notes on the Convention.  James Madison was present every day of the Federal Convention and took copious notes of the proposals, debates, and votes.  

A reference that belongs on the shelves of every student of the Constitution is Liberty Fund’s The Founders Constitution, a 5-volume oversize collection of writings that both informed the Founders and contemporary understandings, and does so, clause by clause for the Constitution and the first twelve amendments. 

Rounding out the gotta have’s is a primer, and so a placeholder for an explication of its principles, Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, that timeless work on free-market economics.  We all laugh about how little liberals understand about the basics of economics.  But how much do we know?  One of the three legs of the conservative stool, as Nash detailed, is libertarianism.  And there is nothing in libertarianism that is built on so rigorous and studied a system as the principles of the Austrian school of economics, developed by Carl Menger, Eugen Bohm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek.  Modern libertarianism has degenerated, due to some unfortunate influences from the 60’s, into a hippie “if it feels good, do it and keep the government’s hands off me” and has largely left behind these pillars.  I doubt if more than a handful of my libertarian friends has read one of those classics, even Hazlitt’s introduction. 

And, speaking of Hayek and being forgotten by modern libertarians.  Another work that merits top-shelf consideration for any conservative is Hayek’s The Mirage of Social Justice, which is the second volume of his 3-volume Law, Legislation, and Liberty.  The centrality of that concept in the lexicon of modern liberalism (and thereby into modern political policy discussions) merits the place of this work for modern conservatives.  Hayek lays bare the utter meaninglessness of the concept and crumbles one of modern liberalism’s fundamentals.  Not a small contribution from someone who in another essay explained “Why I Am Not a Conservative” and contributed so many other major works to our understanding, including The Road to Serfdom, The Constitution of Liberty, and The Counter-Revolution of Science

The attack of the cultural Left on morality and Western civilization has required the shoring up of our philosophical foundations.  This became clear to me as I began to explore natural law (Thomas Jefferson’s “laws of nature and of nature’s God”) as the underpinning, the philosophical roots, of conservatism, of society.  For myself, that study began with the reading of Heinrich Rommen’s The Natural Law, which provided a basic understanding of both the concept and its philosophical history.  This opened the door to such modern natural law scholars as Robert George (whom the New York Times called America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker”), J. Budziszewski, and Hadley Arkes.  Start with Rommen, though. 

The next book is really more of a genre than a single work.  And I almost left it out of this listing.  One of the three legs of the conservative stool identified by George Nash is anti-Communism.  As an element of the movement it was the unifier that often bridged the warring divide between libertarians and traditionalists.  There is a long list of go-to books for understanding the subversive influence of Communism in America.  The first two I would suggest are legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Masters of Deceit and You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists) by the Founder of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, Frederick Schwarz.  One corrective to the historical smears that make up liberal revisionism is Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein.  In this blockbuster, Weinstein set out to prove Alger Hiss was not a Soviet spy and wound up making the definitive case for Hiss’s guilt. Another is Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, by M. Stanton Evans, an icon of the conservative movement.  There are easily a dozen other books that recommend themselves in this area. 

The reason I almost left these in history’s dustbin is that modern conservatives have seemingly forgotten that there is true evil in the modern world.  The evil of Communism is one of the “gifts of the Left” and is part of the poisoned progeny of Jean Jacques Rousseau.  It is therefore the ideological cousin of modern liberalism and that kinship explains why Burnham in Suicide of the West found that, for modern liberalism, there are no enemies to the Left.  While Communists were often contemptuous of their cousins as “useful idiots”, liberals seem to have a warm spot in their hearts for their murderous kin.  I also fear that modern libertarianism shares some traits with liberalism, viz, a belief that human nature is good, an attachment to rationalism over traditionalism, and the hyper-rationalists’ over-confidence in the ability to remake society on these bases. 

As starting points for a couple of social conservative issues (issues because the Left’s agenda has forced them on us and not even through democratic means), the best place to start, to learn the best grounding for the pro-life/anti-abortion position is Francis Beckwith’s Politically Correct Death: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights.  Though the title is rather emotionally-charged this book lays out in very clear and logical terms the scientific/medical arguments against abortion.  A close second in this category is The Moral Question of Abortion by Stephen Schwarz

The other issue of the day for social conservatives is of course the attack on the institution of marriage posed by the push to legitimize same-sex marriage.  While there are other works on this subject, the author to look for is Ryan Anderson, who has become the go-to expert in presenting these arguments for preserving this core institution of Western civilization.  Anderson was a force of one around the country and often cited, including by Justice Alito in his dissent in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court decision, by proponents of preserving this institution.  Anderson’s first book on this issue, as one of three co-authors, was What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, which began as an article for The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, a Federalist Society online publication.  His second is a compelling critique of that decision, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, which explores the ramifications for our First Amendment liberties. 

OK, like the dessert list, I couldn’t limit myself.  There are probably a few more than ten above but I believe they make a good starting point for anyone seeking to better understand the political thought of the Right.  As I suggested earlier, there are different elements of conservatism and in fact it can be broken down further than the three listed in Nash’s history.  And neoconservatism and the New Right were barely making their appearance when his book first appeared and so he added them in a later edition.  

Gene Wisdom, a retired naval officer, is a lifelong conservative Republican and is active in local conservative organizations.  He is a native Alabamian but has lived in the Nashville area since 2007.  He formerly moderated the monthly Conservative Fusion Book Club. 

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

That "left-wing PAC" Mayor Andy Ogles is suing for defamation is the Trump-backed "Tennessee Conservative PAC."

From The Daily Lookout, ...  The 5th Congressional District GOP primary continues to unload a trove of campaign news. In the latest, candidate and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles has filed a lawsuit against Tennessee Conservatives PAC for defamation. 

In a press release, Ogles referred to the PAC as a "Left-Wing PAC," and said it supports one of the other candidates in the race, without naming which one. The PAC released an ad accusing Ogles of failing to pay property taxes, a claim that is not true. 

Rod's Comment: Watch out, when someone calls someone or some organization "left-wing;" they may actually be conservative. Or, if an organization calls itself "conservative;" it could actually be left-wing.  Confusing, I know, but in today's world words don't have meanings. Maybe Tennessee Conservative PAC should sue Andy Ogles for defamation for calling it "left-wing."

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Attack ads against Andy Ogles funded by Trump backed super PAC.

by Vivian Jones, Main Street Nashville, Jul 18, 2022 - A super PAC behind hit ads targeting Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the Republican primary for TN-05 has few ties to Tennessee but significant connections with former President Donald Trump, campaign finance disclosures show.

The Tennessee Conservatives political action committee spent $130,683 total on the attack ads bashing Ogles that hit the airwaves on Friday, according to disclosures filed over the weekend with the Federal Election Commission. The PAC spent more than $100,000 in April supporting now-disqualified candidate Morgan Ortagus, who’d nabbed Trump’s endorsement. (link)

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Moms for Liberty Davidson Co. endorses candidates for school board.

 


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Tennessee Republican Assembly Endorses Eleven Middle Tennessee Candidates.

 


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An announcement of the Tennessee Freedom Summit; not an endorsement.

 


by Rod Williams - As publisher of A Disgruntled Republican, I often post items that I think may be of interest to the conservative, Republican, libertarian, or the greater community. Posting of a press release or an announcement of an event does not necessarily indicate an endorsement. 

Of the above personalities, some I have very little knowledge of and no impression of. Some I have a favorable impression, such as  Tori Venable of Americans for Prosperity. One of the personalities, I have a very negative impression of.  That is Laurie Cardoza Moore.  

If you recall when a Muslim congregation was attempting and eventually was successful in building a mosque in Murfreesboro, Laurie Cardoza-Moore was a leading opponent trying to stop that from happening.  The argument against it was that Islam is not really a religion and that Muslims were going to be building a terrorist training center in Murfreesboro.  I am not comfortable with someone who claims the world's largest religion is not really a religion and who wants to deny First Amendment protection to other Americans. The First Amendment also applies to Muslims. 

Today, I am more cautious of groups or people that identify as "patriotic" or "conservative," just as I am cautious of groups that promote "social justice." A lot of people labeling themselves as "patriotic" or "conservative" may be people promoting nut-job conspiracy theories, spreaders of the big lie of the stolen election, or bigots.  

It is my hope that the conservative movement will denounce nut-jobbery and bigotry and return to a movement promoting the timeless truths of conservatism.  Conservatives should not share a stage with people like Laurie Cardoza Moore.



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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tennessee Right to Life Endorses Michelle Foreman


 

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"‘It’s the accumulation’: The Jan. 6 hearings are wounding Trump, after all." I hope Trump will just fade away.

by Rod Williams, July 20, 2022 - In a Politico article by David Siders today, he wrote that while the conventional wisdom about the Jan. 6 committee hearings was that no single revelation was going to change Republican minds about Donald Trump, that what instead has happened is "a slow drip of negative coverage," that was damaging the former president.   

Six weeks into the committee’s public hearing schedule, an emerging consensus is forming in Republican Party circles — including in Trump’s orbit — that a significant portion of the rank-and-file may be tiring of the non-stop series of revelations about Trump.

The fatigue is evident in public polling and in focus groups that suggest growing Republican openness to an alternative presidential nominee in 2024. The cumulative effect of the hearings, according to interviews with more than 20 Republican strategists, party officials and pollsters in recent days, has been to at least marginally weaken his support.(link)

I hope this is so and believe it is.  Die-hard Trumpinistas will always believe the stolen election lie. Faith is hard to shake.  We will always have true believers among us.  While I would like to see Trump brought to justice and believe no one should be above the law, I think the best thing that could happen is if Trump just fades away.

Indicting Trump is problematic.  While we know without a doubt he promoted the fake electors scheme and he tried to pressure State officials to change election results, the allegation that he plotted the Jan. 6th attack on the capitol is kind of weak. I am not sure they found the smoking gun. There is circumstantial evidence but not absolute proof, based on what has been made public so far. He may be morally culpable but not legally. 

Another problem is that if he is indicted and announces his run for the Presidency, it will be unseemly for the Biden Justice Department to be prosecuting a case against Biden's opponent.  This would fuel madness among Trumpinistas. Many other former Trump supporters who are not quite Trupinistas would be persuaded that the deck was stacked against them and the charge that the prosecution of Tump was politically motivated would appear persuasive.

And then, what happens if Trump is found "not guilty?" It only takes one jury member to keep from there being a verdict of guilt. Trump's supporters would see "not guilty" as vindication for everything Trump did. The belief in the stolen elections would be stronger than ever. We do not need a more deeply divided country. 

I hope Trump's support continues to fall and he sees the writing on the wall and does not run, or if he does announce, he will see his support fading and he will drop out of the race. I fear, however, that Trump is so delusional and has such an ego that he will not believe the poll numbers and if he runs and begins to lose primaries he will allege the primary elections were fixed. If so, we can deal with it.  Even an angry Trump alleging he was robbed of the nomination may not doom Republican chances in 2024. More and more Republicans will see the emperor has no clothes and Trump's support will continue to fade if he tries to rally supporters to a stolen primary narrative. Chances of victory will look good for 2024 and Republicans will get over Trump.

I want the Party to heal and return to sanity.  I will be willing to rally behind someone like DeSantis who is seen as a Trump ally.  He may not be my first choice but he is not Trump,  If he is the nominee or if some other Trump ally is the nominee, as long as he is not an extremist nut, I will support him. That is to say, I will support almost any Republican unless it is Tucker Carlson or one of the few really nutty Republicans.  I don't expect the rabid Trump supporters to ever admit that Trump attempted a coup. I don't expect them to admit the 2020 election was not stolen.  They don't have to. We can look to the future rather than the past. 

I hope Trump will just fade away. 

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Monday, July 18, 2022

Congressional 5th Republican Primary Smear Campaign

by Rod Williams, July 18, 2022- The 5th Congressional Republican primary campaign is getting dirty.  I did not receive these texts myself, or if I did I didn't open them.  I get so many texts, usually from Donald Trump asking for money or other Republicans asking for money, that I delete unread texts from people I don't know. This was sent to me by a friend who is politically active.

My message to people running for office is, "Play nice."



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Confessions of a RINO

by Rod Williams, July 15, 2022- I have always been a conservative and a Republican.  I was raised by parents who were Republican. My dad was a fundamentalist Christain conservative and a lot of my early values were tinged with that perspective.  You would have to be of my generation to know who these people were, but when my dad drove me to school each day we listened to the Reverend Carl McIntire, almost every day.  I also remember occasionally hearing the Reverent Billy J. Hargus and the Christian Crusades on the radio and reading his newsletter and a book by him. Also, my dad being in the ministry as a gospel singer, most of his associations were with other religious conservatives. As a youngster, I traveled with him often on the weekend and I often went to town with him where I would hear his conversations with colleagues and acquaintances. These conversations were most often not political, but when they touched on current events or politics, I knew which side my dad was on. These were some early influences.

While these conservative voices from the religious conservative fringe were some early influences, by no means were they the only influences, however. I also remember listening to Paul Harvey on the radio.  We subscribed to Knowville's afternoon newspaper, The Knoxville Journal, which had a conservative editorial policy. In those days, papers routinely carried nationally syndicated editorial columnists and I regularly read Joseph Alsop, James J. Kilpatrick, Jr, William F. Buckley, and others whose names I cannot recall.  

Neither of my parents even finished high school but both were smart, stayed well informed and read the daily newspaper and watched TV news and issues of the day were discussed around the dinner table. Also, I was taught solid values, which while not necessarily exclusively conservative values are essential values valued by conservatives, such as morals, respect for institutions, respect for the military and law enforcement, honesty, the importance of hard work, responsibility, and the importance of family, and love of country.

In high school, I became more and more interested in politics and was captivated by the 1964 candidacy of Barry Goldwater.  The Conscience of a Conservative was an influence on me. I was so disappointed when my father, who in many ways was a staunch conservative, concluded Barry Goldwater was too reckless to be elected president. We disagreed.

The first campaign I worked on was for the election of a Republican as the local sheriff. My dad was his campaign manager. Really, dad was campaign manager in name only.  Dad was a gospel singer of some renown and dad did some work for the candidate and put on a rally and performance on the courthouse square but was not in effect a manager of the campaign. Nevertheless, I did attend some campaign strategy sessions with my dad and was around local active Republicans during that campaign.  I was only seventeen but worked for the guy, putting up signs, and doing other campaign activities. That was the first of many campaigns on which I have worked.

While still in high school I began educating myself in history and political philosophy, beyond what was just taught in the classroom or assigned reading.  I started reading serious books. As soon as I began earning money, I started sending money to causes and organizations in which I believed and getting newsletters from these conservative organizations deepened my understanding of issues and grounded me in sound conservative beliefs. 

Also, however, I was getting influenced by the more bombastic and sensationalist conservative personalities and organizations.  The mid 60's was a time when the radical right was a big influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.  Much like the Tea Party period of a few years ago, enthusiasm brings out the fringe.  While I never joined the John Birch Society, I read and was influenced by the organization.  Later, after more mainstream conservative influences and learning of the nutty JBS grand conspiracy theory, I moved in a more mainstream conservative direction.

Another early influence was reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I was 18 when I first read it.  Much of the book was over my head at the time, but it stirred in me a passion for individualism, private property rights, limited government and freedom. I saw the distinction between those who see man as existing to be a slave to the interest of others and those who see that one’s obligation is to seek one’s own happiness. I saw a difference between those who wish to tamp down the human spirit and those who want to celebrate it. I clearly saw the distinction between those who lay claim to the wealth of others and those who are the creators of wealth and claim a right to what they create. The efficacy of the marketplace was clear, but so also was the moral argument for capitalism. 

After reading Atlas Shrugged, I  read other books that leaned in the libertarian direction. While I never became a libertarian, this early strain of political thought became one of the building blocks in my political development. I was always too pragmatic to be a real libertarian but nevertheless, I incorporated some libertarian ideas into my belive system. 

It was while serving in Vietnam in 1968 that I was first given a copy of National Review. While having a political discussion with other airmen, one asked me if I read National Review. I had never heard of it. He gave me a copy, I read it, and then subscribed.  NR has been a major influence on my political development and I have subscribed almost constantly since reading that first issue and still subscribe today.

After military service, I enrolled in college and studied political science and economics. I was one of those students who the professors would often call on to explain a point and to challenge me to disagree with him.  Although most of my college professors in political science (but not in economics) leaned left, they seemed to like having me in their classroom.  I was a serious student. While attending college, I also established and led a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and wrote a regular conservative column for the college newspaper.

My education did not stop with college.  My political engagement continued as did my education.  I have been a life-long learner and have deepened my knowledge of history and philosophy. A lot of political books by politicians who are thinking of seeking the presidency are actually pretty shallow. I read serious books by serious thinkers.

I have remained active in politics and ideas since college.  In the early 80's I ran for Metro Council, won, and served for ten years where I was a leading but lonely conservative voice on the Council. Then, as now, there were few conservatives serving in the Metro Council.  

Serving on the Council, I advocated for lower taxes and was an advocate for privatization of government services and government modernizations that saves money. I also was a critic of the Department of Human Relations, which then, as now, serves no purpose except to advance a liberal agenda.  A tight budget year and a director of the department who went too far in his advocacy and even angered some of the more moderate liberals on the Council, led to successfully defunding the department for several years.  

I also led the unsuccessful effort to stop Nashville from having auto emission testing. I successfully led an effort, along with my friend Roger Bissell, head of the Davidson County Libertarian Party at the time, to stop a gas tax to fund mass transit.  This gave the two of us an opportunity to advocate for privatization and non-government solutions to public problems.  We each appeared on several news reports, spoke at public forums and had a chance to advance a conservative agenda bigger than just the issue of a small additional tax on gasoline. 

Over the years I have also worked in many campaigns, working the polls, working phone banks, knocking doors, putting ups signs, and doing what needed doing. I also worked for the local Republican Party. In the 2010's I established about a dozen republican breakfast clubs across the county, teaching volunteers how to conduct meetings, securing locations, recruiting speakers, and coordinating activities.  Since 2007 I have published The Disgruntled Republican hoping it contributes to the conservative cause. 

I have also financially supported conservative causes ever since I was a teenager.  I have experienced periods of poverty in my life and at times my financial contributions were meager but I always supported causes I believe in.  In recent years, as I am more financially secure, I have increased by giving and currently give in excess of ten thousand dollars a year to causes and candidates I support.  While there are many who give more, for a man of my modest means, that is significant.

I have said all of the above not to pat myself on the back but to establish that I am not a Johnny-come-lately to Republican politics or the conservative movement. I am a bonified Republican and have paid my dues. For most of my life, those who know me would have called me a staunch conservative. 

Recently, I find myself at odds with many other Republicans.  I do not feel I have changed my positions or beliefs. There have always been fringe Republicans such as those who follow Alex Jones or members of the John Birch Society.  They were fringe, however, not the mainstream. Staring with the Tea Party we began seeing a lot more tolerance for the fringe. We began seeing fringe positions become mainstream and even succeed in fringe theories given platform planks in the Republican Party. Then, when  Donald Trump came on the political scene the Party changed even more.  Both in tone and substance, the Party has changed. Republicans used to be moderate in tone and quite frankly, sometimes boring. Republicans were the party of reason. Republicans were the adults at the table. Republicans defended institutions and advocated balanced budgets, smaller government, and a strong national defense. 

America has become more polarized in recent years and both parties, in my view, have embraced the fringe. Along with the polarization has come a lot of anger.  It seems the more angry and bombastic a commentator or Republican leader becomes, the more popular they become. Compromise is a dirty word and to many Republicans, Democrats are not the loyal opposition who may be nice people but simply wrong; they have become the enemy. I also think many Democrats view Republicans much the same way. 

Republicans also seem intent on pushing people out of the party rather than welcoming them in.  I have always believed the Republican Party should be a "big tent" party. There should be room for various points of view as long as we agree on the big stuff. 

As I witness the Republicans embrace the fringe, it is not, in my view a more conservative party.  It is a more populist-nationalist party. In fact, many of the tenants of the modern Republican Party are at odds with conservative principles.  Republicans have not only embraced the fringe but in many ways have moved left. 

Many Republicans now embrace industrial policy and reject the traditional laissez-faire of the recent past. Also, Republicans seem to be embracing a pro-family welfare state. Free trade was a long-time principal of the Republican Party but more recently, Republicans are turning to protectionism.  Instead of opposing state power, Republicans now seem to embrace it. They just want to use it for different ends. Republicans seem okay with state power if it is used to remake the economy and society into something they desire. In Tennessee, we saw an example a few years ago when Republicans moved to deny employers the right to tell employees firearms were banned on their premises. The former Republican Party supported the Second Amendment but did not support micromanaging businesses and the old Republican Party supported property rights. 

As I have expressed opinions that deviate from the position of many contemporary Republicans, I have often been denounced as a liberal. The most common epithet thrown my way, however, is that I am a RINO. I guess most readers of this blog know what RINO stands for.  It is, "Republican in name only." The current party has "RINOs" and "Real Republicans."  RINO is a handy epithet to throw at any fellow Republicans with whom you disagree. You don't have to disagree on many things, just one or two will do. 

In my view, it is the modern Republican Party that is the party of RINOs. It is the fringe and the advocates of increased state power and rejection of traditional Republican principles that have become dominant in the Republican Party.  Republicans of a previous generation would not recognize today's RINO Party. 

Everyone wants to claim the Reagan mantle but Ronald Reagan would not be welcome in today's Republican Party.  After all, it was Reagan who enacted amnesty for illegal immigrants and gave away the Panama Canal, supported an assault weapons ban, and took other positions that today's Republicans would not like. Reagan would be denounced as a RINO.  

Richard Nixon? It was Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency. RINO! Even our most recent presidential and vice presidential candidates are denounced as RINO. Mit Romney: routinely denounced as RINO. Paul Ryan: RINO! John McCain: RINO! Sarah Palin: not a RINO.  She has characteristics that make her not a RINO but a "Real Republican."

I think today's "Republicans In Name Only are actually the current crop of Donald Trump worshipers and not the party's former mainstream activists and not the party of our former candidates for president and vice president. However, the majority, or at least the dominant perceived majority, are calling the shots. So, given that the fringe is now the mainstream, they get to decide who is a RINO.  

I have been denounced as a RINO time and time again, on social media and sometimes in person.  While I think I am a Real Republican and the current populist-nationalist in charge are the RINOs, I have decided to embrace the term. So, based on who is in charge now and who is defining the terms, I confess to being a RINO.

So what makes one a RINO?

If you do not believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen and Trump won by a landslide, you are definitely a RINO. Despite no evidence of a stolen election, it is an article of faith among Real Republicans.

If you have not embraced the Trump cult of personality, you are a RINO. 

If you are a well-read and educated person or respect well-read and educated people and value study and reflection you may be a RINO.  Resentment and distrust of educated people is nothing new among populists.  Anti-elitism is a mainstay of populist movements. During the days of George Wallace, he denounced "pointy-headed intellectuals." 

If you read or reference conservative news and opinion sources like  National Review, The Spectator, The Dispatch, or The Wall Street Journal, you must be a RINO. In one Facebook exchange, I had someone call National Review a liberal publication.  RINOs read sources like these conservative sources cited above; Real Republicans get their insight from Tucker Carlson and Shane Hannity. 

If you even read mainstream or liberal news sources, well, you must be a RINO. I read a lot of sources. I know they have a liberal bias but just because something is reported by AP, or The New York Times, or The Washington Post, or NPR does not mean it can not be true. Maybe you read The Atlantic or Vanity Fair from time to time to know how the other side thinks. If you do, know that you are a RINO. Real Republicans get all the news they need from Fox news. Real Republicans only want to hear what is in the echo chamber.

If you think rather than simply emote you are likely a RINO.  If you depict reality as it is and defend timeless conservative values you are likely a RINO. 

If you support arming Ukraine and believe that if Ukraine falls it will lead to more Russian aggression and you think that is a problem, you are probably a RINO. If you think America should be "the arsenal of Democracy," you are probably a RINO. If you believe we must increase military spending to be able to counter Chinese expansionism, you may be a RINO. If you support NATO and believe we should absolutely honor our commitments, you might be a RINO.

If you think people who disagree with you on some political issue have simply reached another opinion but can still be decent honorable people, you are probably a RINO. 

If you are not absolutely certain of the correctness of your opinion you may be a RINO.  I myself sometimes study an issue and reach a certain conclusion after I have weighed the pros and cons and concluded the pros outweigh the cons. Maybe it is close and I am only 51% certain of my position and if presented with new facts or am persuaded by another's argument that I have mistakenly weighed the factors in reaching my decision, I may change my opinion. That is what RINOs do. Real Republicans never rethink an issue.  Their motto is, "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts."

If when discussing an issue, you ever say, "on the other hand," you may be a RINO. If you disagree with another's point of view but understand it, you may be a RINO.

If instead of supporting letting our roadways crumble or funding roadway maintenance with general revenue funds, you support letting those who use the roads, including those traveling through our state, pay for roadway maintenance in the form of a user fee, collected in the form of a gas tax, then you are a RINO.  User fees used to be the preferred conservative policy, but that has all changed.

If you support free trade, you are now a RINO.  The theory of comparative advantage advanced by Adam Smith explaining the benefit of free trade used to be an accepted conservation principle.  Now, if you think Trump was wrong to ban steel imports from Canada, well, you must be a RINO.

To accept climate change as a reality and to argue that certain steps should be taken to address it, makes one for sure a RINO.  I am not talking about embarrassing climate change alarmist solutions grounded in fairy dust and Kumbaya and turning the clock back to before the industrial revolution. We have made so little progress in addressing climate change because the realist and those who understand economics have not been at the table. Only liberals have been advancing climate change policy. Advancing relatively conservative solutions such as a carbon tax with a cross-border tariff adjustment, increased fracking to produce more natural gas to replace dirty coal, advocating for nuclear energy, or advocating for research and development to bring hydrogen to market as a major energy source will get you branded a RINO. Even suggesting that it is time to begin adaptation and accommodation to a changing climate gets one labeled a RINO. Real Republicans believe climate change is a hoax,

If you do not believe that everything from shady sidewalks, to bike lanes, to reintroducing wolves into the wild is part of the Agenda 21 plot to kill 97% of the world's population, then you might be a RINO.

If you recognized that America is an outlier when it comes to mass shootings and do not think that we need to just accept this as normal, you might be a RINO.  One does not have to be an enemy of the Second Amendment to earn the epithet. Simply believe that reasonable steps should be taken to keep guns out of the hands of crazy and violent people and you are a RINO.

Believe that the First Amendment also applies to Muslims and they have a right to build a mosque and you might be a RINO. 

I confess, I am a RINO. 

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