Wednesday, August 31, 2022

15-year-old Zacchaeus Johnson is charged in Juvenile Court with shooting death of another young teen. Yes, it is a gun problem.

by Rod Williams, Aug. 30, 2022- Metro Nashville police report that 15-year-old Zacchaeus Johnson is charged in Juvenile Court with criminal homicide for Sunday’s 5:50 p.m. fatal shooting of another young teen, Antonio Baker Jr., 16, in a parking lot in the 500 block of South 5th Street in the James Cayce public housing development. A drug-related robbery motive is under investigation.

Baker, of Dew Street, was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center where he died. Johnson, of Summer Place, fled the scene but was later taken into custody in Clarksville, Tennessee. The investigation continues into others who were present at the time of the shooting.

The police do not speculate as to how a 15-year-old got access to a gun. It is so common that young thugs are armed that it is not noteworthy. It is not difficult for teens to acquire guns. So far this year, 912 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville. Eighteen guns were stolen from cars and trucks last week.  Guns are sold and traded among young criminals. 

Responsible gun owners do not leave an unsecured gun in a vehicle and certainly not an unlocked vehicle. Unfortunately, there are a lot of irresponsible gun owners. Guns are expensive and why people would leave them unsecured in a vehicle, especially an unlocked vehicle I do not know. 

In my view, it is time to make it a crime to fail to properly secure a weapon. Many gun rights advocates will oppose such a suggestion.  When such is proposed, they will say that the reason weapons are left in vehicles is because there are so many places one can not take a gun, such as schools, and airports, and bars, and banks, and courts, and places of employment, that gun owners have no choice except to leave their guns in their car.  They may advocate that such restrictions be lifted and prohibited.  My view is that those are reasonable places to restrict guns or, in the case of employers it is a decision properly made by individual employers.  Also, I would doubt that many of those guns are stolen from the parking lots of airports or courthouses or some of the other locations mentioned.   Most likely they are stolen from cars in driveways or from cars parked on the street in front of the owner's home. 

Another response is that instead of restrictions on guns we should focus on arresting criminals as if insufficient policing is the problem.  One may disagree about the number of police we need and how policing should be focused but that is simply an evasion to avoid recognizing the problem of irresponsible gun owners being the suppliers of weapons to street criminals. 

Another response of opponents of any rules regulating the securing of weapons is to wax nostalgic. When they were in high school, they will tell you, they kept their hunting rifle in the locker at school or on a gun rack in their pickup truck parked at school and there was no problem. 

Opponents of rules mandating the proper securing of weapons may advocate we need to return prayer and bible reading to the classroom.  They may blame the rise in crime on the welfare state and out-of-wedlock births.  I may agree with some of their diagnosis of society's ills but that does not mean we should not deal with the real immediate problem of too many guns easily finding their way into the hands of criminals. Pining for "the good ole days" does not address a real problem we have today.  

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Irresponsible gun owners armed up to 912 thugs in Nashville so far this year.

Metro Press Release, Nashville, August 30, 2022 - The MNPD strongly encourages Nashvillians to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables---especially guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.

So far this year, 912 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville. Nearly 70% of ALL guns reported stolen in 2022 (1,324) were taken from vehicles. Last week, 18 guns were stolen from cars and trucks.

Going hand in hand with vehicle burglaries is vehicle theft. A review of last week’s stolen vehicle reports in Nashville shows that 70% of the automobiles taken (50 of 71) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves.

Just like guns taken from vehicles, these stolen autos are also routinely involved in criminal activities, including carjackings and robberies.

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Nashville rated as one of top 5 places to buy a home in the U.S.

 By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Aug.30, 2022 - Nashville was rated as the fifth-best real estate market in the country in a new report from WalletHub.

The finance website rated the country’s top 300 cities based upon 17 factors to gauge the current environment based upon everything from building permits to property appreciation to affordability.

Nashville’s current market was ranked fifth but its affordability was ranked 77th. Murfreesboro, meanwhile, ranked 13th overall with the 17th best market for real estate and ranking eighth for affordability.

Knoxville was 97th and Memphis was ranked 220th on the list.

Overall, the national real estate market is slowing as home sales dropped 19.3% year over year in July, according to Redfin. Meanwhile, the pace of increasing home prices has slowed to 7.7% after two years of double digit percentage increases.

"Nashville, where 32.3% of homes for sale had price drops, represents the typical metro area in July: Half the metros in this analysis had a higher share of price drops, and half had a lower share of price drops," Redfin’s report said.

Knoxville, meanwhile, saw 28.3% of its homes drop in price while Memphis had 28.0% drop its price.

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Gov. Lee Announces School Safety Actions


NASHVILLE, Tenn., Tuesday, August 30, 2022 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released a video update on key actions the Lee administration has taken to enhance school safety following Executive Order 97, which directed state agencies to engage parents, increase transparency and collaborate with local law enforcement and school districts. 

“Our administration has taken meaningful steps to further strengthen school safety in Tennessee by engaging parents, evaluating security measures and strengthening partnerships with law enforcement,” said Lee. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and I thank Tennesseans for doing their part as we continue our coordinated effort to protect students and teachers across the state.” 

The Lee administration has taken the following actions to further enhance school safety across Tennessee and promote engagement with parents, schools and law enforcement: 

Engaging Parents · 
  • More than 10,000 Tennesseans are using the Safe TN app, a free resource to quickly and confidentially report safety concerns at a child’s school, with a record 2,000 downloads this month
  • Expanded School-Based Behavioral Health Liaisons to cover all 95 counties
  • Mobile crisis providers are available to families across the state and can be reached by dialing ‘988’ 
Securing Schools
  • Every Tennessee school has completed a physical school security assessment – a total of 1,838 schools · More than two-thirds of school districts – 104 districts – have participated in school safety training
  • Frequent, unannounced checks are being prioritized to see that school doors latch and precautions are in place
  • Every school district has received an updated School Safety Plan Template 
Partnering with Law Enforcement
  • State and local law enforcement have collaborated to provide proven, hands-on active shooter training courses in each Grand Division 
  • Updated training has been provided to more than 600 School Resource Officers
  • Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers are building stronger relationships with local school leadership 
In the coming months, additional resources will be made available to support parents, teachers, and law enforcement in improving school security practices. Future actions will include
  • Tennessee parents and schools will have access to a new School Safety Resource and Engagement Guide
  • School districts will receive updated building security standards 
  • State and local law enforcement will be supported through improved recruitment and training efforts

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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Student loan debt relief could worsen inflation and 5 Reasons Why Student Loan Forgiveness Is a Bad Idea

by Rod Williams, August 25, 2022- It is immoral to tax poor people who never went to college to pay the debt of wealthier people who borrowed money to go to college and that is what student loan forgiveness does. The research has been done and that is a fact.  Student loan forgiveness is unfair to the parent who sacrificed to send their child to college. It is unfair to the students who worked their way through college, or the students who borrowed but repaid their student loans. 

Forgiving the debt of students who went to college for four or more years and partied and made unwise decisions about what to study is a moral hazard.  A "moral hazard' exists when an incentive increases one's exposure to risk because one does not bear the full costs of that risk. If someone chooses to take on massive amounts of debt to get a worthless or nearly worthless degree, they should pay the consequences of that decision. If not, then there is no incentive to make wiser decisions.

In my view, there needs to be massive reform of higher education.  While the student experience is a fun and enriching experience, it is not necessary to attend college on campus in a traditional setting to master the course material.  Higher education, in my view, should take advantage of technology and encourage more online learning and testing at testing sites. I am a lifelong learner and have taken many of the classes offered by Great Courses.  The world's best teachers teach many of these courses. By taking online courses such as those offered by Great Courses, along with supplemental reading, online or phone consultation, and testing one could become every bit as educated as the student who sits in a classroom. One does not have to be in a classroom to learn.  A campus experience is still desirable but should be an option instead of mandatory. A combination of online learning and campus learning should evolve as a new norm. 

The more student loans the government guarantees, the less incentive educational institutions have to hold the line on cost and the less incentive there is for education reform. Not everyone should qualify for a student loan. The qualifications for a student loan should be risk-based. Student loans should be evaluated for the risk the same way car loans or home loans are evaluated. Also, not everyone should be shamed or persuaded to attend college. Trade schools should be presented as a respectable alternative to traditional college.

In addition to the moral hazard of student loan forgiveness, the incentive it provides for increasing the cost of higher education, and the basic unfairness of it, there are other reasons.  Recently, Congress passed a bill called The Inflation Reduction Act, which may or may not reduce inflation but most likely will have minimal impact.  If it actually would reduce inflation, as some argue, then student loan forgiveness underminds any inflation reduction in the bill.  

Fox Business News reports that Larry Summers warns student loan debt relief could worsen inflation. Larry Summers is a Harvard University professor who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations Here is an excerpt from that article:

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers on Monday warned the Biden administration against "unreasonably generous" student loan relief, arguing that additional spending could exacerbate the ongoing inflation crisis. ...

"I hope the Administration does not contribute to inflation macro economically by offering unreasonably generous student loan relief or micro economically by encouraging college tuition increases," he wrote in a series of tweets.

Writing in Forbes, Zack Friedman gives 5 Reasons Why Student Loan Forgiveness Is A Bad Idea. Zack Friedman is a highly credentialed Wall Street money manager, best-selling author, and the Founder & CEO of Mentor (mentormoney.com), a leading online financial marketplace.  In the article, he concurs with and summarizes the analysis of Senator Roy Blunt who gave a speech on the Senate floor opposing President Biden's proposal for student debt forgiveness.  I am not going to give the details of each of the five reasons, but am listing them below. For details, follow this link

1. Student loan forgiveness disproportionately benefits wealthier Americans.

2. Biden doesn’t have the legal authority to cancel student loans

3. Biden has shown no commitment to wide-scale student loan forgiveness

4. Biden should lower inflation rather than cancel student loans, which can increase inflation

5. Student loan forgiveness won’t lower the cost of college

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The Bastiat Society of Nashville presents "How Covid Exposed a Moral Sickness- and Almost Everyone is Infected."


AIER’s Bastiat Society program in Nashville will host an in-person event with Ben Bayer, Fellow and Director of Content at the Ayn Rand Institute.

During the Covid pandemic, people on the political left generally favored stricter pandemic controls (lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, etc.) and other statist economic measures in the name of the public good and usually criticized their opponents as “selfish.” The evidence suggests their policy decisions were not driven by any corruption or conspiracy, but by the moral values they openly championed. Importantly, this doesn’t mean their policies were justified or excusable. If those policies were unjust and destructive, it’s a sign that there is something flawed about the moral values that actually motivated them: the values of selfless sacrifice that are regarded as commonplace on both the left and right. This talk will explore how the Covid pandemic put pressure on American politicians, left and right, to reveal their true core values, what it really means to act on those values, the fundamental problems with these values, and a rational alternative.

Schedule:

  • 6:00 - 6:30 pm: Networking
  • 6:30 - 7:15 pm: Presentation
  • 7:15 - 7:30 pm: Q & A

Ticket Prices:

  • $0 for Founding Members
  • $10 for Annual Members
  • $20 for Non-Members
  • $0 for Actively enrolled university students who register with a .edu email address. Those who register with a non-.edu email address will be unregistered and asked to purchase tickets at full price.

Location: Richland Country Club, 1 Club Drive, Nashville, TN 37215

More about the speaker:

Ben Bayer is a fellow and director of content at the Ayn Rand Institute. He teaches in the Objectivist Academic Center and gives talks and interviews for ARI. He writes and edits for ARI’s online publication, New Ideal. Bayer holds a PhD in philosophy (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and among other positions, was a visiting assistant professor at Loyola University in New Orleans for seven years. His writing focuses primarily on the application of philosophy to contemporary cultural and political controversies.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

 


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Canceling Student Debt Would Undermine Inflation Reduction Act

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Aug 16, 2022 - The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will reduce budget deficits by roughly $275 billion while pushing fiscal policy in the right direction to assist the Federal Reserve in its fight against inflation. However, a possible announcement from the White House to offer across-the-board student debt cancellation could undermine the bill’s disinflationary gains and deficit reduction.

Simply extending the current repayment pause through the end of the year would cost $20 billion – equivalent to the total deficit reduction from the first six years of the IRA, by our rough estimates. Canceling $10,000 per person of student debt for households making below $300,000 a year would cost roughly $230 billion. Combined, these policies would consume nearly ten years of deficit reduction from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Debt cancellation would also wipe out the disinflationary benefits of the IRA. The Congressional Budget Office, Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Moody’s Analytics all found the IRA would have virtually no effect on inflation in the near term at the macroeconomic level. Our analysis is somewhat more optimistic since the bill’s micro-economic effects and side deals related to permitting and energy explorations can put downward pressure on prices.

However, debt cancellation would boost near-term inflation far more than the IRA will lower it. We previously estimated that a one-year pause could add up to 20 basis points to the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) inflation rate. Using a similar analytical method, $10,000 of debt cancellation could add up to 15 basis points up front and create additional inflationary pressure over time.

Although there was no inflation in the month of July, inflation has surged at record levels over the past year and core inflation remains well above target.

The IRA gave Washington an opportunity to show it was finally serious about helping the Federal Reserve tackle inflation and begin to address our $24 trillion national debt.

Broad student debt cancellation – whether by extending the pause, forgiving balances, or both – would undermine the benefits of the IRA and demonstrate a lack of seriousness in addressing our nation’s economic challenges.

Rod's Comment: I opposed the Inflation Reduction Act for several reasons and doubted it would do much to reduce inflation. I had reservations about hiring 87,000 new IRS agents was one reason I opposed the IRA.  I did think, however, that the rhetoric coming from some on the right was over-the-top and histrionic. Several organizations which I think of as fiscally responsible offered luke-warm support for the IRA including The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Other ogranizations I think of as fiscally responsible opposed it but without wild histrionics. They concluded it would do little to decrease inflation and might actually be mildly inflationary. 

Another reason I opposed the IRA is because the supposed additional revenue was on the back end and the increased spending was on the front end.  I had no confidence that a Democratic Party government would continue responsible spending.  Well, it has not. It now appears the Democratic Party is still committed to increased unpaid for government spending.  Since the spending included in the IRA is front-loaded, if student loan forgiveness passes or even is again deferred, the effect of the Inflation Reduction Act will be more inflation; not less. For more analysis of the IRA follow this link, this link and this link.  

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The Inflation Reduction Act won’t bring 87,000 new IRS agents with guns to your front door despite the memes you saw on Facebook and what right-wing radio pundits told you.

By Laura Saunders, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2022 - ...Some of the funding’s opponents have said the 87,000 hires will be armed. According to an IRS spokesman, the only agency staffers allowed to carry guns are 2,100 special agents in the criminal investigation division, and they make up less than 3% of the total current IRS workforce of about 80,000.

According to Natasha Sarin, a Treasury official overseeing the IRS, about 1,000 of the hires will be special agents, with many replacing departing agents. In the late 1990s, the agency had 3,500 special agents. (To read more of what is really in the Inflation Reduction Act as regards new funding for the IRA, follow this link:What $80 Billion More for the IRS Means for Your Taxes.)

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Monday, August 22, 2022

Nashville stadium committee members spar over use of taxpayer funds for $2.2B dome

By Jon Styf | The Center Square,  Aug 19, 2022 -  Thursday’s Nashville East Bank Committee Meeting was scheduled to be about the city’s capital improvement obligations at Nissan Stadium.

But a portion of the meeting was ultimately a preview of a central point of the Metro City Council’s ultimate debate on approving nearly $2 billion in bonds that will be paid for with an estimated $1.5 billion in public funds for a new estimated $2.2 billion stadium.

"One thing I do want to just insert back into the conversation is that Metro’s liability, as I understand it today, is sales taxes and hotel taxes per se, and so it’s not that Metro taxpayers themselves are being asked to pay for all of that," said Council member Brett Withers, who represents the area that includes the stadium. "I just wanted to clarify what our obligation for the city is the sales tax and hotel tax."

But committee chair and at-large council member Bob Mendes quickly objected to that characterization of the planned funding for a new stadium, saying the committee members had reached an agreement to use the committee as an information-gathering resource for the council and not a place to advocate for or against a deal.

"Three-quarters of $1 million of G.O. (general obligation) bonds in the CIB and 130 acres where half our sales tax will go and some of that sales tax is going to be moving out of one capture down on this side of the river to another capture on the other side of the river," Mendes said. "So the notion suggested in your comment that it’s essentially free to taxpayers is not really accurate."

Mendes was referencing the explanation given by economists that sales and dollars spent at a new stadium in district would not be new spending in Nashville but instead would be spending transferred from other areas of the city, where those sales taxes are currently collected and are part of the city’s budget.

The bonds are expected to be paid for by Nashville’s portion of taxes for sales at the stadium and half of the taxes from sales on 130 acres planned to be developed outside the stadium. Tennessee has conceded a 5.5% sales tax at the stadium and 2.75% sales talks in the future development outside the stadium while also approving a 1 percentage point increase in a hotel-motel tax in Davidson County.

Discussion also centered on how long a new stadium would be expected to be usable after the current Nissan Stadium, which opened in 1999, has been open just 23 years.

"The original MOU (memorandum of understanding) on the current stadium called it a 50-year stadium," Mendes said. "So I think we’re going to have to kick the tires extra hard. Just calling it a 50-year stadium doesn’t make it so. At least last time it didn’t."

Council member Kevin Rhoten agreed, stating that a new stadium better have a longer lifespan.

"If I’m going to pay $2 billion for something and put a roof on it, I expect it to last 50 years," Rhoten said. "If it’s a house or any building downtown, you expect it to last 50 years."

Metro Nashville Sports Authority Executive Director Monica Fawknotson spoke to the committee, saying that an agreement with Venue Solutions Group on a Nissan Stadium city obligations study expected to cost at least $250,000 has not been finalized but is close.

In late July, Metro Law Deputy Director Tom Cross said that it would take VSG an estimated 14 weeks to complete its work once a contract was finalized.

The study is aimed at providing the city with an independent opinion after Titans CEO Burke Nihill estimated the city’s repair obligations for Nissan Stadium under its current lease would be $1.839 billion.

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Report: Cost of renovated speedway at Nashville Fairgrounds has increased to $100M

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Aug 16, 2022  - A deal to renovate the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is still not complete and will now cost $100 million instead of $75 million, according to a report from the Nashville Banner.

Much of that funding is expected to come from $17 million directly appropriated from the state in this year’s budget and by the state and Metro Nashville giving all sales tax funds back to the speedway. In 2021, the speedway was purchased by Speedway Motorsports, which owns tracks across the country including Bristol, Charlotte, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

The Banner also reports that Nashville’s Convention and Visitors Bureau will make $1 million annual payments toward the fund to pay off the bonds for 20 days per year of use of the speedway.

According to a financial audit, the Convention and Visitors Bureau received $10 million from Metro Nashville and nearly $5 million in federal grants as part of its $21 million in funding in the fiscal year ending in June 2021. The Tennessean reported in 2018 that most of the Convention and Visitors Bureau funding then came through hotel taxes.

According to the Banner, the change in cost will require the bond debt payments to increase from $4 million to $5 million per year.

The sales tax deal on purchases at the speedway went into effect more than a year ago after it was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.

According to the fiscal note on that bill, the track currently brings in $65,400 in taxes per year but that number could grow to an estimated $734,000 per year if a NASCAR Cup Series race comes to the fairgrounds.

If a Cup Series race came to Nashville, it would lead to an estimated $14 million in taxable revenue.

Economists have shown, however, that taxes collected a new sports stadiums are not new money but are instead displaced spending from elsewhere in a community.

So those sales taxes currently collected elsewhere in Nashville that would go to the state and city would instead go to the speedway in the future to pay the debt on the renovation.

"When it comes to collecting tax money for stadiums, there is no found revenue," sports economist J.C. Bradbury from Georgia’s Kennesaw State University previously said. "When you introduce a new tax, it’s mainly local people who are paying it, so they’re just not spending it somewhere else. There’s not a free lunch.”

The Banner reported that both Bristol Motor Speedway and the city commissioned studies on the revenue potential for a redeveloped track but nothing studies have been made public and neither entity would release those studies.

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Friday, August 19, 2022

Williamson County DA Secretly Indicts Connie Reguli for Aggravated Perjury

by Peter White, The Tennessee Tribune, August 17, 2022, FRANKLIN, TN – Williamson County

District Attorney Kim Helper has escalated the prosecution of family law attorney Connie Reguli. Helper issued an arrest warrant against Reguli last Thursday for aggravated perjury. Reguli surrendered herself at the Williamson County Sheriff’s office Friday morning. She was booked and released on her own recognizance. She did not get a copy of the indictment when she was booked.

Williamson County District Attorney Kim Helper issued an arrest warrant for Connie Reguli on Thursday, August 11, but did not file the charges with the Criminal Court Clerk until Monday, August 15.  The Tribune has had trouble getting a copy of the charges. ... Secret communications between judges and prosecutors, called ex parte, are illegal. Reguli has accused DCS of wrongfully taking children from their families via ex parte removal orders when parents and their attorneys are not properly notified. Reguli said that is what happened in her case.  ... Family advocates like Reguli say that common practice violates due process guarantees of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (read more)

#

Brentwood attorney Connie Reguli indicted on aggravated perjury charge following legal battles

By Matt Masters,  Williamson Home Page, Aug 18, 2022 -Embattled Brentwood attorney Connie Reguli has been indicted on a new criminal charge stemming from a lawsuit she filed against Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson earlier this year. 

A Williamson County grand jury indicted 70-year-old Reguli on the charge of aggravated perjury, a Class D felony.

According to the indictment, Reguli allegedly intentionally made a false statement or submitted false information under oath, specifically a claim that Reguli "reimbursed CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocates] for $3,145.50." (read more)


Rod's Comment: August 19, 2022- If you are active in conservative circles in the Middle Tennessee area, you are probably aware of Connie Reguli.  She is active in several conservative groups and most recently ran for Juvenile Court judge as a Republican in Williamson County. While readers of this blog may know her primarily as a political activist, Connie Reguli is known by many others, as a champion of parental rights. 

I have long had an interest in this issue, stemming from my own experience as a divorced father who had to fight for his right to have regular visitation with his young daughter. While I never got entangled with DHS or had my parental rights or visitation rights revoked, I had to fight to have regular visitation enforced. During this time, I got involved with a couple of parents' rights groups, one called DAD (Dads Against Discrimination) and another called PARENT (I can't recall the acronym). While in these groups, which were as much self-support groups as political activist groups, I heard many stories of the system abusing parental rights and acting in what certainly did not seem to be the best interest of the child. Many of these stores were heartbreaking.  Thankfully, since that time, there has been meaningful reform that levels the playing field for fathers who want to remain active in their child's life. 

Unfortunately, there is still much that needs to be done to protect the rights of parents who simply want to have a loving relationship with their children. I have a close friend who has been cut out of her child's life.  I have learned the details of her case and am convinced that justice has not been served. My view is that the legal system often abuses parents and children.  Often a vindictive parent can win by simply having the means to outspend the other parent on legal fees. 

I have a favorable view of Connie Reguli. I am glad that there is someone focused on the rights of parents and someone willing to fight the abuses of DHS.  That is not to say, that I have not heard some criticisms of Connie Reguliand. I don't know all of the ins and outs of some of the controversies in which she has been involved.  I know that sometimes, maybe often, in issues involving visitation, custody, and parental rights, justice is not served. Connie Reguli is in my view a fighter for justice. I wish her well.

Below are a couple links to other posts of mine concerning Connie Reguli.

Friday, July 16, 202, Connie Reguli, Middle Tennessee attorney, DCS critic, active Republican, goes on trial July 12.

Friday, July 16, 2021, Wendy Hancock found guilty of custodial interference. Attorney Connie Reguli will now go on trial.

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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Metro Council Forbids License Plate Reader Data To Be Used For Immigration Enforcement

By Paula Gomes, The Tennessee Conservative, August 18, 2022– Metro City Council in Nashville voted Tuesday night to prevent License Plate Reader data from being used to enforce immigration laws. The measure passed in a vote of 32-1 with only council member Robert Swope opposing. ... When it is operational, local law enforcement will not be allowed to share data from the cameras with federal authorities in order to identify, apprehend, detain or remove illegal aliens. 

However, state law requires local police departments to cooperate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify or report a person’s immigration status.

State leaders including Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton have criticized the council’s decision saying that Metro “doesn’t get to decide which state or federal laws they enforce.”(link)

Rod's Comment: If not for the State, Metro Nashville would be the San Fransico of the South. The State needs to keep Nashville on a short leash and tug on it every once in a while. 

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A clarification: The "super-rich" probably won't be the ones benefiting from the EV tax credit in the IRA.

by Rod Williams, August 17, 2022- Recently I posted a piece titled, The Democrats’ Unserious Climate-Change Deal. I excerpted portions of an article by Kevin Williamson that appeared in National Review. This article addressed the environmental policy portion of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act. One of the article excerpts I posted was this:

Its environmental program is mainly one of subsidies for politically connected business interests engaged in the so-called green-energy trade and handouts to upper-middle-class urban progressives who enjoy getting a $7,500 tax benefit when they buy a new Mercedes.

In my own comment in that post, I called the $7,500 tax credit for purchasing an electric vehicle "a subsidy for the rich." Calling it a subsidy for the "upper-middle-class" may be correct but a subsidy for the "super-rich' probably is not. 

On the one hand, the bills takes away some tax credits that only benefited the super-rich. The bill does away with today’s tax credits for super pricy electric vehicles such as the Hummer EV, Lucid Air, and Tesla Model S and Model X. There are also new caps on how much vehicles can cost. For SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans, the cap is $80,000. For most other vehicles, the vehicle can not cost more than $55,000. So, while the "upper-middle class" may benefit more, the "super-rich" will probably benefit less.

The IRA also provides a credit of up to $4,000 on used electric cars so some middle-income people may benefit also, not just the "upper-middle-income." 

Another provision of the environmental portion of the IRA eliminates the tax credits for vehicles not assembled in North America, including the BMW i4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Toyota bZ4X. (1). These tend to be the more affordable EV's, so this provision makes the subsidy unavailable for people who can only afford a lower-priced electric vehicle. 

This provision above sounds like a policy Donald Trump would love.  It sounds very "America First." or at least "North America First."  While I do not want us to be dependent on our adversaries for critical goods and while I recognize there have been some supply line issues, I still believe in free trade and do not want to see the dismantling of the established world order of commerce, and the role of international agencies such as the World Trade Organization.  I accept the law of comparative advantage and think trade makes a better quality of life for most people of the world, for a more interconnected peaceful world, and is the means to lift people in undeveloped countries out of poverty.  

I do not support policies that give an unfair advantage to consumer goods being made in America, including cars. That reduces consumer choice and increases costs to consumers and contributes to inflation. While designed to protect American jobs, it can actually cost American jobs.  The provision requring that only North-American-made cars are eligible for the tax credit has the effect of subsidizing North-American production of cars. A subsidy for American-made products is equivalent to a tariff on imports. Other countries will be less inclined to lower their tariff on American imports if we subside the American production of the same things they export to America.  I am becoming more and more of a minority in my view of trade, however, and it seems both parties have embraced protectionism and advocate some sort of industrial policy.

The bill's provision on the source of battery material however is wise in my view.  China's Belt and Road initiative is getting a stranglehold on critical materials around the world. "Starting in 2024, if any minerals or components are sourced from “foreign entities of concern,” including China or Russia, the vehicle will not qualify for any tax credit. An analysis this year of the EV supply chain from the International Energy Agency shows that the vast majority of minerals, components, and battery cells are currently sourced from China.(2)" 

Limiting the tax credit to a fewer number of cars, which will be more expensive because they are produced in America may make the tax credit less of a boon to car purchasers. A credit on a more expensive car may not be that much of a bargain. The bill also only includes enough funding for about 11,000 EV's in the first year. That is fairly insignificant.  

There are some elements of the climate policy included in the IRA of which I approve, such as restrictions on methane gas emissions and subsidies for cleaning up methane leeks. I am very pleased to see that nuclear energy is finally being treated as a carbon-free energy source as worthy of subsidy as wind and solar.  There seems to be a slow realization that environmental policy to address climate change must be more than feel-good measures. There seems to be an element of rationality seeping into climate change policy. 

So, while the Inflation Reduction Act probably won't do much to reduce inflation, and while I don't like the hiring of an additional 87,000 IRA agents, the IRA is not all bad. I am not sure it will live up to the hype of being a game-changer in America's response to climate change but some elements of the climate change policy make sense. My view is that the IRA will not do much good or much harm and there is both good and harm in the bill. Also, the beneficiary of the tax credit to purchase an electric vehicle will most likely benefit the upper middle class, not the super wealthy. 

For those who are going to take a principled position that the government should not use tax policy as a vehicle for social engineering, that train has already left the station.  We use tax policy to encourage different desired outcomes at different times and promote every sort of desired outcome from marriage to having children to homeownership to education to job training to good health. I think we should do less social engineering via tax policy than we do, but this use of tax policy as a vehicle for social change is nothing new. 

For more on the issue of the environmental component of the IRA, I  suggest reading, The climate bill will make cleaner energy cheaper for everyone, from The New York Times. For specific information on the vehicle tax credit see a piece that appeared in Consumer Reports and reposted in Yahoo News, Which EVs Qualify for the New Electric Vehicle Tax Credit? It’s Complicated.

In this post and in many articles and in everyday conversation people speak of the "middle-class," the "rich," and the "super-rich."  The U.S. government doesn't have an official definition of middle-class income. The Pew Research Center considers a household to have "middle-income" if it's between 67% and 200% of the median household income. The below chart is the closest thing to an official classification of income groups. However, "middle-income" in Lower Alabama is different than middle-income in Los Angeles. There are sources that list a middle-income for each state if you look for it. 

It should also be pointed out that some people may be rich but also low-income. Not many for sure, but wealth and income are not the same thing. People may have lots of accumulated wealth and live off of that wealth. The accumulated wealth may also be growing in value as the asset appreciates but produces little current income. The income it does produce may be tax sheltered so it is not reported as income. 



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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Victory In Tennessee! Court Strikes Down Law Allowing Warrantless Spying on Private Land

by Joshua Windham, Institute for Justice - One of Tennessee’s most intrusive surveillance practices has finally been hunted down. For decades, a state law empowered Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officers to enter private land and spy on its owners without a warrant. But in March, IJ clients Terry Rainwaters and Hunter Hollingsworth persuaded a state court to declare that law “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unenforceable.” 

The decision comes as a huge relief for Terry and Hunter, who own farms in rural Benton County. They sued TWRA after finding hidden cameras its officers had installed on their land. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Discovery revealed that TWRA officers have long treated Terry’s and Hunter’s farms like public property—entering repeatedly without permission, sneaking around for hours dressed in camouflage, and taking hundreds of secret photos and videos, all without a warrant.  

TWRA had no shame about it. The agency invoked a statute that allows TWRA officers to “go upon any property, outside of buildings, posted or otherwise,” to look for evidence of hunting violations. And TWRA defended the statute under a longstanding U.S. Supreme Court rule—the “open fields doctrine”—that says private land gets no Fourth Amendment protection.  

Watch the case video here!

But IJ knew better. The Tennessee Constitution protects “possessions” from warrantless searches and forbids “general warrants.” When the Tennessee Constitution was adopted, it was widely held that a person could possess land. And general warrants—broad orders to search property without limiting the scope of the search—were among the causes of the American Revolution. 

Armed with Tennessee’s distinct constitutional text, IJ argued that TWRA’s warrantless searches, and the statute authorizing them, were unconstitutional. 

The Benton County Circuit Court agreed. The court, relying on the Tennessee Constitution, held that Terry’s and Hunter’s farms are the sort of properties that “quintessential[ly]” get protection from warrantless searches. The court found “compelling [the] comparison of the statute to a general warrant, which of course is also constitutionally prohibited.” And based on these holdings, the court struck down TWRA’s authorizing statute and declared it “unenforceable” statewide. 

The decision will have an immediate impact, both in Tennessee and beyond. The vast majority of land in Tennessee is privately owned. Now landowners across the state can confidently tell the government, “Come back with a warrant.” Not only that, but 16 other states have constitutions that similarly protect “possessions” from warrantless searches. (That includes Pennsylvania, where IJ is currently litigating this same issue.) Courts in these states can, and should, look to Tennessee as a model for how to interpret their constitutions in a way that honors landowners’ right to be free from warrantless searches. 

Like all IJ victories, this is the start of something far bigger. For one thing, TWRA may choose to appeal, which would provide an opportunity to enshrine these important constitutional protections in Tennessee’s appellate courts. But our victory in Tennessee also serves as a key building block in IJ’s broader national effort under our recently launched Project on the Fourth Amendment to ensure that landowners everywhere get the constitutional protections they deserve.

 Josh Windham is an IJ attorney. 

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Monday, August 15, 2022

Monday night Constitution Class.

From DCRP:

On Monday, August 15th 6:00 pm we will continue our Constitution Alive series (doors open at 5:30).

We have just two more sessions left of our Constitution Live class and then we will break from Monday Night History until January, 2023. This Monday we examine how Locke and Montesquieu influenced the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Click this link below or the image below for a preview of our Constitution Alive series:

►► Constitution Alive ◄◄

John Quincy Adams once famously said, "The Declaration of Independence was the platform upon which the Constitution of the United States had been erected. The principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence were embodied in the Constitution of the United States."

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States must be studied together and on August 15th we continue that journey.



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A comprehensive look at Trump's 2022 endorsement record

by Ryan King, Washington Examiner | August 11, 2022 - Former President Donald Trump has loomed large over Republican primary races across the country, embracing a kingmaker role to steer the GOP's trajectory with his coveted endorsement. ...

In total, Trump has eked out 185 wins and 18 losses so far, per the Washington Examiner's tally of his endorsement record as of Aug. 5.

The tally is largely based on endorsements announced from his Save America PAC. His endorsements have ranged from safe bets on incumbents and uncontested contenders such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to riskier picks, such as Katie Arrington, who was unsuccessful in her primary challenge to Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC). At least 53 of his endorsement triumphs came from races that were not contested.

Here is a look at who Trump has endorsed and how those candidates fared in their primary contests. (click here to see the complete list)


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Standing Against Pronoun Interrogation at School

by Linda Harvey, Reposted from Tennessee Eagle Forum newsletter, Aug 15, 2022- The first few weeks of school are hectic but also exciting. New backpacks, new outfits, new friends, new pronouns....

Wait, no. Hopefully not. Hopefully, your child's teacher won't demand affirmation of "woke" ideology from your son or daughter and will show respect for settled science and biology.

But the unthinkable may occur. Will your child's teacher be one of the insulting ones who insist every student declare his/her pronouns during class introductions? It's already happening and we've written an article if you want to know how likely this scenario is during the coming school year.

If your child's classroom transforms into a propaganda session, your daughter or son needs to be ready, equipped for this line-in-the-sand moment.

Because that's what it is. If you have your kids in the public schools (or even certain private schools), now is the time to train and equip them to be ready to take a stand for sanity and for God's binary design of male and female which still (unsurprisingly) works just fine.

And forget the "neutrality" con job wokesters will recommend. "Just have them say 'he/his' or 'she/her' and don't make a scene!"

But no. That is not neutrality. Any student at school who cooperates with this exercise is saying, "Yes, children posing as the opposite sex is a perfectly fine option." It's not fine, it's not normal and it's not healthy. Gender deviance is an insult to common sense, decency and long-term well-being. It violates the design of Almighty God and the distinction Jesus clearly explained in the Gospels (Matthew 19, Mark 10 and elsewhere).

Are we advocating being impolite or cruel to those students who, sadly, display gender confusion? Of course not. 

But when asked directly, it's time to make a scene, hopefully only a small one. Yet enough to get the point across.

I asked readers of my e-newsletter and other trusted friends to send me their thoughts about how children might respond during a pronoun exercise. So here are some of the responses along with ideas of my own.

For grade schoolers:

  • "I was born a boy (or girl) and I'm happy to announce that I will remain that way."
  • "My parents filled out a form when I started school. Please use that information."
  • "I am a girl (boy) and that's something that will never change."
  • "My mom and dad (or mom, or dad, etc.) said they don't want me discussing this and if you have any questions to please call them."
  • "I just want to learn school lessons, not this pronoun stuff." 
  • "My dad (mom) says there are only boys and girls and that's how God made us."

For middle and high school:

  • "I believe there are only two genders, and only two sets of pronouns for people."
  • "I'd really like to enjoy my childhood/youth/last year of high school (etc.) and not delve into such matters."
  • "Is this a legal requirement?"
  • "Is this in the school handbook?"
  • "My birth certificate (make a copy for the child to take to school - for 'show and tell') says that I am a 'male' (or 'female' ) and any medical intervention will not change that fact."  

One grandmother suggested students make their faith known: "I am to be known as a servant of the Lord." 

Here's another bold faith statement: "Do you know what Jesus would say if you asked Him about pronouns? He would remind you that in the beginning God created people as male and female. Two types of humans. That's it."

And then there were the humorous ideas:

  • “I don't participate in this pronoun stuff for the same reason I don't follow the Zodiac signs.”
  • "You don't know I am a girl and yet you are supposed to be my teacher this year?"
  • "My I have the family attorney get back to you?"
  • "My preferred pronoun is antidisestablishmentarianisticaimeraineraimer, and I will be very upset and squawk and scream and report you to the principal and the ACLU if you refer to me by any other word."at random?”
Rod's Comment: I agree. Every student not the child of a woke progressive should be prepared to refuse to answer. Parents should be prepared to make an issue out of this. 

  • “I have a box here with slips of paper. Should we all just pick our pronouns 

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World Health Organization responds to Monkeypox by renaming it. WHO wants to avoid derogatory or racist connotations.

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization is holding an open forum to rename the disease monkeypox, after some critics raised concerns the name could be derogatory or have racist connotations.

In a statement Friday, the U.N. health agency said it has also renamed two families, or clades of the virus, using Roman numerals instead of geographic areas, to avoid stigmatization.

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Tennessee Republican Leaders React to Attorney General Garland’s Statement Approving Raid on Trump’s Home

Tennessee Republican Leaders React to Attorney General Garland’s Statement Approving Raid on Trump’s Home

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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Flashback: Sen. Graham: 'Crazy' Donald Trump is unfit for office. I think he is a kook. I think he is crazy. He is not a Republican.

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Flashback: We were warned. Ted Cruz: Donald Trump Is a 'Pathological Liar.'

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Mar-a-Lago raid could be a grievous blow to the Justice Department’s legitimacy

 The FBI kills a mosquito with a howitzer

by Eli Lake, The Spectator,  August 10, 2022 -  ... This is not to say that there are no circumstances under which Trump should be charged with a crime. But that crime must be serious, like conspiring to foment the January 6 riot, and the evidence must be overwhelming. If Trump is instead charged with violating the Presidential Records Act or mishandling state secrets he had the power to declassify as president, Garland will have dealt a grievous blow to the Justice Department’s democratic legitimacy. (link)

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The FBI Should Release the Trump-Raid Warrant

 By ALEXANDRA DESANCTIS, National Review, August 9, 2022 - ... While much of the response from GOP leaders expressed support for Trump, the most common refrain in the commentary thus far has been concern over the lack of clarity about the reasons for the raid — and the fear that this is just another example of a Democratic administration using executive agencies to harass or punish its political opponents. ... much of the commentary and reporting seems to have presumed that, because the FBI executed this raid, it must’ve had a good enough reason to do so. That may well be true, but there’s little evidence yet that this was the case. (read more)

Rod's Comment: I agree. The Justice Department should release the warrant and do it today! Also, the Justice Department should hold a press conference and answer hard questions. 


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First Tuesday welcomes Andy Ogles

 


RSVP

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Americans deserve an explanation of why the FBI’s raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

by Rod Williams, August 10, 2022- If one reads this blog or follows me on Facebook, you know that I am no fan of Donald Trump.  I think he is a delusional egotistical jerk or an evil person or both.  Yes, I am pleased he closed the border, gave us energy independence, gave us a Supreme Court that went a long way toward restoring the Constitution, and did some other positive things.  But, Mussolini made the trains run on time.  The good Trump did does not make up for his attempt to subvert the outcome of an election and to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  He is a dictator-want-a-be. He is a dangerous man.

However, I am not comfortable with the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. For one, it seems politically unwise. and secondly, it seems an abuse of power.  As stated in some of the articles below and elsewhere, this has made some of Trump's supporters who may have been ready to move on from Trump rally around him. This confirms for them that the "insiders" and "deep state" are in charge and will do anything to silence a man who tries to "drain the swamp."  This deepens the divide that was already deep. It is a big boost to Donald Trump's remaining relevant. The Justice Department poked a bear that was beginning to look sleepy. This has reenergized Trump's supporters. 

Given the lack of FBI action on Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton, and others, and the history of the FBI and the Steele dossier, and the agency either being duped or knowingly willingly being used to tarnish and spy on Trump, this raid looks suspect. Even if the raid was not politically motivated, it sure looks like it to a lot of people. Unless it is explained, it will look that way to me too. 

Some on the right, including my "friends" on Facebook, are saying it is time for an armed rebellion.  A lot of people are riled.  I hope they get a grip and take a deep breath, but there are a lot of crazies on the right these days. There are those who believe school shootings are false flag operations, that we have a planned imminent food shortage crisis, that Hillary Clinton is part of some Satanic cult, and all kinds of other nutty stuff. Some of them may take up arms and start killing people.

No one should be above the law.  Justice should be served. However, I can not help but ask, was this armed raid necessary?  Trump had been in conversation with the Justice Department about those missing documents. He had already returned a lot of them. If this was about missing documents, then they could have recovered them without an armed raid. I suspect something else is going on.  Maybe the people at the justice department thought they would find 'smoking gun' evidence tieing Trump to the January 6 coup attempt.  If so, they need to say so.

I wish we had a mainstream press that could see this raid as something that needed to be explained.  I wish they would demand answers and keep this on the front page until they got them. Unfortunately, the mainstream press is as polarized as the rest of America. They are going to protect liberals and turn a blind eye to liberal wrongdoing and liberal abuse of power. There are no 'fair and balanced" media outlets in America with enough clout to make a difference. Fox News will run this story for weeks, but unfortunately, Fox news only reaches people who already agree with them. 

I wish there could be a genuinely bi-partisan congressional inquiry into this raid, but that is not going to happen, either.  Congress is correct to want the truth about Trump's attempt to illegally hold on to power and prevent the peaceful transfer of power. I just wish they were equally as concerned about abuse of power when the abusers are Democrats. 

This has not made me want to support Trump but has made me more sympathetic to his supporters. For the good of the country, the Justice Department needs to explain why this raid was necessary.  If they have something major on Trump they need to arrest him or indite him quickly.  They need to act or have a good explanation as to why this raid had to happen. 

#

Americans Deserve an Explanation on FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search

By THE EDITORS, National Review, August 10, 2022 - The United States is a land of propositions. One of those propositions is that no man — not even the president — is above the law. Another proposition is that those who temporarily wield power must not use it to harass or disadvantage their political opponents. Occasionally, these propositions can come into tension. Monday night’s FBI search of Mar-a-Lago provides us with one of those occasions.

There is nothing wrong per se with the investigation or prosecution of political figures. Indeed, that the most powerful and popular people in the country may be held responsible for their crimes serves as the very definition of equality. But, because the perception of impropriety can be so damaging to the political order, the occupants of positions of power have a special obligation to tread lightly when dealing with their ideological opponents. The difference between a free republic and a banana republic is not whether the powerful can be held to account, but whether the powerful are held to account legitimately, in a manner that is not a transparent pretext for ulterior motives. Does the Department of Justice understand this? The jury is still out.

... But after the Steele dossier, the FISA surveillance of Carter Page, the Mueller report, and the near endless web of implications and insinuations that tied up American politics for the first two and a half years of Trump’s presidency, one can no longer fall back on such reflexive credulity. If the government has a case, it must make it as bluntly as it can — and it must make it now. .... President Biden must explain why it was necessary for his administration to stage an unannounced search at the home of a potential presidential rival. (Read more)

#

SHAPIRO: The Day The FBI Raided Donald Trump

By  Ben Shapiro, DailyWire.com, Aug, 10, 2022- ...We have not yet seen the warrant for the raid, the warrant application, or the underlying evidence; presumably, the head of the FBI and the head of the DOJ, Attorney General Merrick Garland, would have had to sign off on the raid. And, to put it mildly, the basis for such a raid – a raid authorized by a current presidential administration on the leader of the prior administration and frontrunner for the nomination in 2024 – seems extraordinarily weak. In 2015, former Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger only received a misdemeanor charge for stuffing classified documents down his pants; in 2016, the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails but certainly never raided her home or offices, despite finding that it was “possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account,” complete with access to classified information. President Trump, by contrast, was president – which means he had plenary authority to declassify any document. Yet it was Trump who was raided.

If the basis for the raid is anything less than bedrock-solid, therefore, the most serious questions of political legitimacy will be on the table. After all, this amounts to the current administration authorizing a raid on the head of the prior administration; it apparently centers on a matter unrelated to events surrounding January 6 and the aftermath of the 2020 election. It seems, on its face, pretextual. We won’t know whether it isr isn’t until we see the underlying documentation. But without the sort of trust the FBI has fai oled to cultivate over the past few years, the clamor for such documentation will rightly be deafening.

Suspicions are certainly in order, given the behavior of the FBI over the course of the last few years. (read more

#

Trump Can’t Be ‘Disqualified’ Over Documents

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, Wall Street Journal,  Aug. 10, 2022- The warrant under which federal agents searched Donald Trump’s Florida home hasn’t been made public, but press leaks suggest that it was related to the former president’s suspected mishandling of official documents. That has prompted speculation that Mr. Trump could be prosecuted under a law governing the misuse of federal government documents, which includes a provision for disqualification from federal office. According to this theory, if Mr. Trump is convicted, he would be ineligible to serve a second term as president. It won’t work. The theory is deficient on both statutory and constitutional grounds. (read more)

#

The raid on Mar-a-Lago could shake America’s foundations

The Economist, by Lexington, Aug. 10, 2022- The raid had conjured a Trumpian Eden: the nation’s eyes were riveted upon him once again; Republican legislators who had been edging away rallied behind him, as did potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination; some of his supporters were again calling online for a civil war to defend their champion. Mr Trump was able to present himself in his favourite light, as the victim of dark, partisan forces out to protect the establishment by dragging him down. Having trashed the fbi and Department of Justice for years, he had prepared not just his core believers but probably half the country to suspect that the rule of law was being undermined, not honoured.

For these reasons and more, the raid is a nightmare for America. Merrick Garland, the attorney-general, would have anticipated that. ... If Mr Garland made the decision himself to proceed, as seems likely, he must have concluded that evidence pointing to criminality was so overwhelming he had no choice. ... 

Mr Trump was already expected to run a third time for president. He seems certain to do so now. Imagine that the raid yields evidence of criminality, leading to his indictment. ... Even a speedy trial and conviction would be less likely to bar a Trump candidacy than to start more rounds of litigation. The constitution, which spells out the qualifications for serving as president, is silent on the question of a criminal record. ... 

Lawmakers who crawled back to Mr Trump after the January 6th insurrection are not likely to abandon him over a crime like making off with classified documents, particularly given a president’s vast power to declassify information. 

The raid on Mar-a-Lago may have been necessary to serve justice. A prosecution may eventually prove necessary as well. The hope is that the rule of law has weight enough to survive the contest. (read more)

#

The Mar-a-Lago raid is pure political intimidation

by Amber Athey, The Spectator, Aug. 8, 2022- ... One would assume the bar should be exceedingly high for the Department of Justice to execute a search warrant on a man who was previously the leader of the free world. That is not the case here. Nor, sadly, is it surprising, given the seemingly endless fishing expedition that Biden and the Democrats have subjected Trump to over the past year and a half. ... The decision to send agents into Trump’s home over a quibble about document retention reeks of political intimidation. .... When Bill Clinton was found to have inappropriately kept gifts and furniture from the White House, he returned the items and the situation was treated as a misunderstanding. The Clintons’ home was not raided by the FBI. Why was Trump’s? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that violating the Presidential Records Act can bar someone from running for political office again. 

Naturally, Trump’s critics will celebrate the FBI’s raid. They will be blissfully unconcerned that the gratuitous and unjust investigation of political opponents is just the kind of authoritarianism they warned would be ushered in by the Trump administration. Remember, the Biden administration is going to restore our norms and institutions! (read more)


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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Monday, August 8, 2022

"Far-right" local Heritage Sentinel group criticizes Fox 17 for calling Andy Ogles a "far-right mayor" when that is also what "far-right" Breitbart News called Andy Ogles.

by Rod Williams, August 8, 2022 - When I saw the post to the right today, I was a little taken aback.  Breitbart is about as "far right" as you can go without wondering into the la la land of Alex Jones. When Breitbart called Andy Ogeles a "far-right mayor" I did notice. 

Usually "far right" is considered a derogatory term. I was wondering if Breitbart was going to embrace the term and proudly be "far right" instead of running from the term.  We see this sort of thing sometimes.  We see it when rap performers and Black comedians use the term "nigger."  We see it when homosexuals embrace the term "queer."  Some on the left, instead of denying they are socialist, are embracing the label.

After reading the article and again looking at the headline, I noticed that the tone of the article was not the normal tone of a Breitbart piece. It sounded like a mainstream liberal article.  I then noticed that the article had an AP byline.  I just assumed that Brietbart just ran the article the way it came to them from AP and did not change it or the headline. I did not think this a bid deal, but found it mildly interesting.

Also, I wondered, who is that in the picture? It is not Andy Ogles.  I still don't know.

Later on, while going through my email, I came across a posting from Nashville Sentinel which is the newsletter of the local chapter of the Heritage Foundation. A partial screenshot of that posting is to the left. Note that in this posting they are offended by local station Fox 17 calling Andy Ogles a "Far-right mayor."  "I guess if a candidate is for God and Country, your considered "far-right,'" they say.

Heritage used to be one of the most widely respected research and educational institutes in the world engaging in serious scholarship. In recent years they became less thoughtful and conservative and more populist and activist. At one time I ranked them with The American Enterprise Insitute or the Cato Institute as thoughtful voices on the right. Recently their tone has changed and I seldom see serious think pieces and policy advocacy pieces but a lot more of what is typical bombastic and simplistic right-wing rhetoric. The organizations seem all in for Donald Trump.

Someone should tell Heritage Sentinel that the headline they find so offensive is the same headline Breitbart News used. In fact, not only does Breitbart use this very same headline, but if you do a search engine search for "Far-right Mayor wins GOP Primary for Nashville," this same headline pops up again and again. 

This is really not that important, I know, but I find it amusing.  


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The Democrats’ Unserious Climate-Change Deal

By KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON, National Review, July 31, 2022 - The corporate-welfare “climate-change bill” ... is a bad piece of legislation for any number of reasons. ... 

... The Biden administration says it would like to see the United States reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide by 50 percent or more by 2030. Advocates of the Manchin folly say that its provisions could enable a reduction of 40 percent by 2030. ... when they say, “40 percent reduction in emissions,” they mean a 40 percent reduction from 2005 levels. Thanks in large part to the economic displacement of coal by natural gas in electricity generating — which is to say, thanks to fracking — the United States already has cut emissions by about 20 percent from where they were in 2005: We’re halfway there, having done not very much, and the trend line already is pointed downward ... 

.. Its environmental program is mainly one of subsidies for politically connected business interests engaged in the so-called green-energy trade and handouts to upper-middle-class urban progressives who enjoy getting a $7,500 tax benefit when they buy a new Mercedes.

What these subsidies amount to is a reverse carbon tax. ...  ... the proposition that we are going to get the outcomes the Green New Dealers want simply by shoveling great heaping gobs of money to Democrats’ political allies without any painful new regulation or taxes is one that deserves a great deal of skepticism.

... By the most economically relevant measure (emissions per unit of GDP) the United States is about twice as carbon-intensive as Germany. But it is Germany, not the United States, that is getting ready to fire up coal plants.

Policy proposals are constrained only by the utopian imagination; policy outcomes are constrained by physics, geography, and technology, among other inconvenient exogenous factors. At a sufficient level of subsidy, wind and solar are economically viable alternatives to coal and gas, but they are intermittent, and it is likely that their role in total electricity generation will always be a limited one. 

Completely decarbonizing electricity is a long ways off, in reality something that probably isn’t going to happen and probably doesn’t need to happen — but consider that electricity is the low-hanging fruit: It is not want of forward-looking policy but physical and technological realities that fortify the central role of hydrocarbons in transportation

The case for a carbon tax is that current U.S. practice does not put any price on the externalities associated with burning hydrocarbons. ... we should not delude ourselves into thinking that there exists some “clean” source of energy capable of sustaining modern life. ...

The more batteries are used in transportation and utilities, the more battery manufacturing and disposal are going to be major environmental problems. Petrochemicals and petroleum-derived polymers are used in manufacturing solar cells, wind turbines, batteries, and much else that is “green.” When it comes to rare-earth minerals, many of the relevant geopolitical facts are geological facts. ... There is no escape from the environmental effects of modern life, only management and mitigation. 

Rod's Comment: The US's and the world's response to the problem of climate change has been unserious and continues to be based on wishful thinking, fairy dust, and Kumbaya. Also, unfortunately, many people are still in denial that there is even a problem. It is unfortunate that serious voices are not at the table. 

The new Inflation Reduction Act will do little to combat inflation and little to combat climate change. To read the above complete article follow this link.

An organization called The Bipartisan Policy Center has this to say about the bill: "Recent modeling by Rhodium Group highlights the substantial emissions reduction impact of these provisions. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the United States is on track to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by between 24% to 35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Should the IRA become law, this would increase to between 31% to 44% by 2030."

One has to believe the model's assumptions to believe that this level of reduction will be achieved. There is too much uncertainty about too many factors to have much confidence in model assumptions. Does inflation continue to clime or is it brought under control? Does Russia wins or lose in Ukraine? Does China strenghtens its control over critical metals or not? Does China attack Taiwan and cut off the supply of microchips? What happens in South America where climate change policy and energy policy are in turmoil? Is the mid-East stable or at war? These things will impact our success at greenhouse gas emission reduction. There are some known unknowns and a lot of unknown unknowns to trust assumptions with any degree of confidence. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will create a Methane Emissions Reduction Program, which will reward companies that cut their methane emissions and punish those that do not. That seems to me to be a positive development. This is a serious policy. As far as climate policy is concerned that seems to be the best part of the bill.  Also, however, the support for nuclear energy could have some positive results. 

The subsidy for purchasing electric vehicles is a waste and should be an outrage. This policy includes plug-in hybrids which are a con game and a subsidy for the rich.  Plug-in hybrids are for the most part gas-guzzlers except for the first few miles when they run on stored electricity.  If I were betting, I would bet that many owners of plug-in hybrids will not even bother to charge them overnight.  The only reason buyers buy these super expensive luxuary vehicles is for the subsidy. If not getting the first 20 miles or so running off of a charge, the plug-in hybrids get less gas mileage than the all-gas version of the same vehicle due to the extra weight of the batteries. 

The "Off Duty" section of the Wall Street Journal reviews luxury cars in each weekend edition of the paper. To learn more about plug-in hybrids, I suggest reading the WSJ vehicle reviews. This subsidy for the purchase of luxury vehicles is an unserious policy. 



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It City or Snitch City?

BY JASON EDMONDS, Reposted from The Beacon Center of Tennessee Blog, August 8, 2022 - Nashville has many nicknames: “Music City”, “Athens of the South”, the “It City”, and the “Bachelorette Capital of the World”. Yet there is a new one coming on the scene and it’s arguably worse than the incessant hollers of the “woo girls” on Broadway. In a recent Nashville Scene cover story, Metro earned the title of “Snitch City” for its unfortunate trend of weaponizing the Codes department by targeting low-income and minority populations. 

In addition to the codes department fees and citations, Metro Nashville is only one of two areas in the state with an environmental court, which enforces the violations. A yard full of junk cars and trash covering a property may be the first thought when you think of code violations, yet one Nashville resident was subject to a codes inspector who would show up of his own volition for nearly two decades. Codes enforcement and violations ranged from proving a classic car was running (on approximately 20 occasions), orders to remove a mini-fridge from a garage, and even to put away an open can of soda the resident was sipping on.  

It would be safe to assume an upset neighbor made all of these anonymous complaints to the Codes Department, yet a former Metro council member stated in the article that “…the number one source of Codes complaints is the Metro Council.” He also uncovered the city attorney, who would go after short-term rentals for violations, owned a short-term rental herself. She committed the same violation she was going after.

Weaponizing a city department to punish residents should be egregious in anyone’s eyes. What’s more unsettling is the growth of the Codes department. While total full-time equivalent employees for Metro Nashville have grown 25.3 percent from Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 to the FY 2023 budget (6,731.33 to 8,439.59 FTE), the Codes department positions have grown nearly 81 percent in the same timeframe (89 to 161 positions). The largest increase was seen just recently, adding 35 positions to the department in the 2023 budget. This increase in positions and enforcement is also costing taxpayers more, with the FY 2023 Metro budget saying the codes department will cost $21.46 per capita, compared to $13.75 in FY 2013.

Repairing your vehicle on the weekend while enjoying a cold soda on a hot day shouldn’t bring a city inspector to your door. Income, race, or personal vendettas shouldn’t determine whether or not the government will choose to enforce their rules. Nashville needs to be a city where residents don’t live in fear of anonymous complaints that send the government to their property to issue fines for everyday actions. These poor local policies threaten the very residents that call Nashville home and make the city unique. Unfortunately, these policies are also likely to blame for why Nashville saw the 12th largest population decline in the country, from 2020 to 2021.

Rod's Comment: See my own blog post at the topic, "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."

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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Thursday's primaries clearly show that the Republican Party is the Party of Trump. I have some soul searching to do.

by Rod Williams, August 7, 2020- I had been anticipating the recent primaries across the country to see if Trump's grip on the Republican party was still strong.  It appears it is.  I wish it were not, but it appears it is.  

Trump did some padding of his wins by picking some incumbents who were expected to sail to easy wins anyway.  He made some endorsements in noncompetitive races days just days ahead of the primaries. This increases his look of invincibility but he also won some races where it was Trump that made the difference. There really is no other way to spin it: Trump’s candidates won GOP primaries at an impressive rate. 

While some of Trump's wins were Republicans who simply avoided making the 2020 election an issue, some of Trump's wins were candidates who made the claim that the 2020 election was stolen and the targeted incumbent denied the election was stolen.

In Michigan, Trump scored a big win with the primary defeat of Rep. Peter Meijer who was one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump supported John Gibbs who won. Gibbs repeated Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election claiming it was "rigged," and a result of "massive voter fraud. He was also a conspiracy theorist who promoted tales involving Hillary Clinton and satanic rituals (1) (2). 

Trump also scored another Michigan win in his support of Tudor Dixon in the Republican primary for governor. She beat out four other primary contenders. She is a conservative commentator and former online news host who claims the 2020 election was stolen. (3)

Trump also claimed victory in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary, where state Attorney General Eric Schmitt came out on top in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Trump won big in Arizona when former news broadcaster Kari Lake won the GOP primary for Arizona governor. She has been an outspoken election denier, conspiracy theorist and bombastic personality, She once said on a Twitter post, “The Media is the Enemy of the People. And frankly — the right hand of the Devil.(4).” She has also spread weird theories about Covid-19.

Trump also had an Arizona win with Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters who won the nomination.  Masters once used a quote by Nazi official Herman Goering to argue against U.S. intervention in foreign conflicts. He also once reportedly compared a hotel chain’s decision not to host a speech by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Holocaust. (5) (6).

Other big Trump wins were Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and J.D. Vance in Ohio.  For a detailed look at where Trump won and lost, see this article in Politico, and this one in The New York Times.

It should be noted that Trump had some help for his candidates from an unexpected source. Democrat-aligned PACs poured millions of dollars into campaigns to support Trump-backed candidates (7) (8). This cynical ploy was based on an assumption that Trump-backed candidates would be easier to beat in a general election. One would think that would be so.  If campaigning on the lie that the 2020 election was not enough to lose them votes, then favorably quoting Nazis and theorizing that Hillary Clinton engaged in satanic rituals should cause a candidate to lose votes.  I wouldn't bet on it.  Just look at Marjorie Taylor Green. One can not get much nuttier than MTG and yet she easily won her most recent reelection and she is so respected that the Wilson County Party chose her as their keynote speaker at their annual fundraising dinner. Democrats may have just helped put in office in critical positions, people determined to destroy American democracy.

Given Trump's victory in Thursday's primary, I have some soul searching to do. I was hoping Trump would fade away and the Republican Party would return to sanity.  It has not happened yet. I definitely will not continue to support the Republican Party if Trump is the 2024 nominee.  I am not ready to jump ship yet, however.  I am going to stay engaged and work for the nomination of anybody-but-Trump. At a time in my life when I could greatly increase my financial support for the Republican Party, I am going to curtail my support. If the only way we can win the House and the Senate is by supporting nutjob candidates who want to subvert our democracy, I do not think winning is worth it.  I do not want to help elect people to the office of governor in some of these states who would be inclined to help Trump steal a 2024 election. So, I will not be contributing to the  Republican Governors Association. I am going to be more judicious about all of my giving to Republicans. If I think any of my financial contributions would help elect Trumpinistas, I am not making that contribution. 


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