Friday, March 9, 2018

Megan Barry's Scarlet A

It is not for Adultery, which is presumably over and done with, but for Arrogance, which lingers long after the circumstance.

In an individual human being, arrogance is marked by an attitude that the rules of the universe do not apply to them. It is no different in a mayor. Those of us who didn't care much for Mayor Barry recognized it before the big scandal and did not like what it was doing to Nashville - not to lay the blame completely on her.

There have been mayors and governors and chamber of commerce types all alike who have displayed their arrogance by looking at Nashville more as a brand than a hometown. That's how we lost Opryland for Opry Mills, how we have ended up wasting millions upon millions of dollars on sports teams and convention centers and other debacles which drive up property and sales taxes while roads are full of potholes, schools are little better than prisons, codes and zoning laws to protect the integrity of neighborhoods are regularly skirted, and crime spikes.

The mass transit plan is one more such debacle. The MTA even now is run in an arrogant and oxymoronic manner, wasting millions and clogging traffic rather than relieving congestion. (See my article, "Nashville M.T.A. - Get Your B.A. Buses Out of the Right of Way!") Knowing that Mrs. Barry has shown her colors in her affair with Mr. Forrest, it is not inconceivable that in her haste to bring the mass transit billions her way she similarly wasted tax resources making bike lanes and stop lights and pedestrian crossings and such actually to clog our roads worse, thus better justifying "mass transit." (See my article, "TDOT, Metro Waste Money, Endanger Lives on Charlotte Pike.")

Acting Mayor David Briley parrots the same talking points as Megan Barry and the tourist office crowd but I hold out some hope for him as a better mayor. For one thing, he grew up here, and he grew up when Nashville was really in its prime, so he knows what a great place Nashville can be to live. For another, his grandfather Beverly Briley was a truly dynamic mayor, ushering in county and city consolidation to make Metropolitan Nashville and solidifying its place as one of the leading lights of the South. So maybe this Mayor Briley will have his feet on the ground and though he says he is in favor of the mass transit plan, he might ultimately see it for what it actually is.

If not, there will be another mayoral election soon. And in the meantime, I hope and pray that the voters of Nashville will run the transit plan out on a rail in the referendum just as Megan Barry and her arrogance were driven from office in criminal court.

Books by John Arra:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Nice art, dumb idea.

Charlotte Pike across from Cohn High School.
A wish and five pennies will just barely get you a nickel. Affecting the tangled webs of human folly takes hard work, persistence, dedication, and most of all what's obviously missing here, prayer.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Churchill, Obama, and the Protests in Tehran

One of the first things Barack Obama did as the new president in 2009 was to have a bust of Winston Churchill removed from the Oval Office. Conventional wisdom suggests that in Obama's way of thinking, Churchill represents the colonial exploitation of Africa by Europe. Replacing Churchill's bust with one of Martin Luther King was Obama's typically passive-aggressive way of giving the finger to the colonialists - while blunting any criticism as racist because he replaced it with MLK.

Maybe. But I believe it goes deeper than that and in the streets of Tehran and other cities in Iran right now, we can see the connection between two dots separated by decades of turbulent history - Churchill and Obama.

I think it's no coincidence that anti-government protests have erupted in 2017 in Iran. The last time serious dissent spread in Iran was indeed in Obama's first year, 2009. He did nothing to encourage the movement. It was quickly snuffed out by the police state the ayatollahs have created which makes the Shah's regime look tame. Perhaps Obama already had in mind that trading nuclearization of Iran for "peace" with Iran would be his legacy. If the grip of the Islamists on Iran was released or even just weakened, Iran's nuclear program would be neutered and the effort would be moot.

On the other hand Obama encouraged revolts in other parts of the Middle East - Libya and Syria and Egypt most significantly - where removing strong leaders suited his aims. Egypt has regained a tentative hold on a civil society thanks to a counter-coup by a relatively benevolent dictator, but Libya is in shambles and Syria is still in the midst of a civil war and hemorrhaging refugees thanks to Obama's miscarriage of leadership. ISIS, of course, is the bastard child of all this buggering, and only in the past year have we, the U.S. with its allies, all but obliterated it from the huge swath of Syria and Iraq that it took over during Obama's tenure.

Iraq & Iran - side by side the Cradle of Civilization and the home of the Persians. The Persian Empire was the one great counterbalance to classic Greek and Roman civilization. These nations' historical significance is so overarching that it even shows up in modern pop culture, from Stevie Wonder's opening to "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" in 1973 to Alan Jackson's tribute to 9-11, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." The superpowers all focus on this region, not just for the oil, but for its cultural and religious significance, smack dab next to Israel, just below Europe, the western of terminus of the Silk Road, across the gulf from India. Now Iran has a relatively democratic and stable Iraq next door to it, and even Saudi Arabia and Israel have lately been working together to thwart its threat. The cauldron is bubbling.

So what does this all have to do with Churchill, who stepped down as a global actor over sixty years ago?

While it is still in theaters, I highly recommend you go  see "The Darkest Hour." It is not an action movie by any means but it is a perfect representation of a man of action, of leadership, and of how much it matters to stand strong for the best angels of western civilization. And, conversely, it is a historically accurate portrayal of the politically calculating appeasers Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax, who for the sake of "peace" would have bequeathed the world a fascist Europe.

Inspired by Churchill, the people of Great Britain with all odds against them stopped the advance of Axis powers when the blitzkrieg had all but completely overrun the European mainland. Churchill's resolute action in the face of withering political opposition - he was deemed a drunkard, senile, crazy, warmongering, populist, and incompetent by his detractors - gave hope to the resistance in France and eventually led to the United States entering the war to stop and ultimately obliterate the Nazi menace.

Like him or hate him, the United States has another such leader again in the Oval Office. The hysterical allegations of collusion with the Russians and his big ego's ambitions of tyranny have so far proved to be, in Hillary Clinton's famous terminology, nothingburgers. But the world has taken notice that there is a man of action and conviction in the White House now, including the Persian people.

I can't predict where the current demonstrations in Iran will lead. But there is no question that the Iranian people, suffering under the thumb of four decades of Islamist repression, are trying again what failed in 2009 because they see hope for support from the United States again. The tyrants ruling Tiananmen Square and the Kremlin, Rocket Man and the ayatollahs, have all taken notice of this, too. The Arab Spring was a complete bust, but the Persian Spring may just be the beginning of a rebirth of freedom from tyranny throughout the world.

It is a good thing for freedom that Churchill's bust is back in the Oval Office.

Books by John Arra:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A very suspicious outcome.

When I called it a night about 9PM central time, 70% of the precincts had reported and Roy Moore was leading Doug Jones by over 60,000 votes. This morning they say Jones won by some 20,000 votes. That means that the Democrat precincts were held for counting until the end. If the election results were corrupt, that's exactly what the manipulators would have done: waited to the end to see how many votes they needed to manufacture.

I don't know much about Roy Moore. I am not a passionate supporter. But I don't like trial by innuendo. I've been in that position myself before. And I don't like the good ol' boys network. From my perspective that's exactly what teamed up against Jones to do him in by whatever means necessary, the boys being McConnell and Schumer and Ryan and Pelosi and their puppets.

The fix was in on Roy Moore from the beginning, just as it was on Herman Cain before him, and Bernie Sanders, and Fred Thompson, and maybe going all the way back to Al Gore, though I shed no tears for him. Before that I think we had vulnerable but overall reasonably honest elections.

Today, I'm not so sure.

Books by John Arra:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Think Tank: Top Troubling Trends of 2017

The Erin-Tops Think Tank, where
thoughts are getting deeper all the time.
The new witchcraft: harassment allegations.
I thought I liked Al Franken's work on Saturday Night Live, but I was confusing him with Albert Brooks. Albert Brooks was funny. Al Franken came later and he's just a snarky stooge. He didn't rate on SNL and he is way out of his depth in the Senate. But I have to say that the kinds of things he's accused of should have been solved with a sharp slap to the face or a pounding from a boyfriend. On the other hand if someone commits actual sexual assault, they should be tried and convicted. Anything less is just passive aggressive persecution and steals the thunder of true victims. Doesn't anyone read The Crucible in school anymore? And for that matter, going a little further back, read Genesis 39, the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife? Women can sometimes be just as devious as men are doltish. There's no more reason to believe an unproved allegation now than there was then. But rushing to judgment seems to be the new norm in this era of fake news.

The rise of fascism. Not that fake Antifa stuff; real fascism.
The greatest murder mystery of our day has to be the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He had more adversaries with motive to kill him than Harvey Weinstein has accusers. Though from opposing political parties, Kennedy and his predecessor, Ike Eisenhower, had one principle in common: a mistrust of what Eisenhower called in his farewell address the military-industrial complex, a marriage of government with big corporations. That is exactly what fascism actually is. It has nothing to with racism; it just so happens that the Nazi fascists were also history's worst racists. Fascism is what Hitler used to propel an utterly devastated Germany after the first world war into a superpower by the time of the second world war. Today we are seeing more and more consolidation of huge corporations which work with government hand in glove not just to capture market share, but to write the laws and suppress competition. The victims are small businesses and the consumer. I don't know the details of the justice department's opposition to the AT&T-Time Warner merger, but I'm all in with the justice department on this one. The merger can have only one result: less free market competition and more government corruption. They are one and the same.

Mockery of faith.
It is important always to keep this in mind: religion is of man, faith is of God. My own Catholic religion lost my faith with the epidemic of pedophile priests and one need only look at its flagship university in the U.S., Notre Dame, to see how far the church has wandered into the secular wilderness. But worse than that is the current assault on all forms of faith (except, curiously, the most heinous religion of all, Islam, that homophobic, misogynistic, fascistic perversion of Ishmael's descendants). The supposed separation of church and state in the Constitution is a red herring; there is none. The Constitution simply prohibits states from discriminating on the basis of religion and prohibits Congress from making laws affecting religion. But for years the anti-faith crowd has been pushing their dogma using this false principle to try to drive religious morality from the public square in the cause of everything from infanticide (abortion) to homosexual marriage. They are succeeding. The derision of faith practices and the antagonism to faith principles is pervasive. I've even heard from a substitute teacher in one of Metro Nashville's public schools that they are leading the children in the Pledge of Allegiance leaving out the phrase, "under God." My faith tells me that God is love (1 John 4:7-8). Going against God, then, is hateful. And there's a whole lot of hate going around...

The Erin-Tops Think Tank will soon
make way for a reflection pool. Here
a local artisan prepares the sign.
Willful Ignorance.
From Alexander Pope (1688-1744): "A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again." Now maybe I'm just an uppity white boy, but it seems to me that millionaire athletes protesting racism by disrespecting the national anthem skipped a few too many American history classes. America fought a war to free the slaves. A black citizen in the U.S. has better opportunity than anywhere else in the world, and at any time in history, and no less than any other race. Not just in theory, but by law. One truth being missed here is that history is not linear. It is a very muddled story. Mary Todd Lincoln's family were huge slaveholders. One of the largest slave owners in antebellum South Carolina was a black man. The object of so much statue-topping hatred, the former slave trader and military genius Nathan Bedford Forrest, himself renounced the Ku Klax Klan and spent the last years of his life working actively to help freed blacks. It is perplexing that in this age of universal connectivity, smart phones and Google and Wikipedia and all the information of the world at virtually everyone's fingertips, our culture seems only to want to skim the surface of learning. No wonder fake news is so successful. Let's hope we heed the advice of the Temptations: "Beauty's only skin deep." Yeah. Yeah Yeah. And further on the song: "Don't judge a book by its cover." The protesters disgust me in their willful ignorance. Instead of celebrating ascendancy, the example they set is one of wallowing in repression. If I were a black man I would be proud to be black, proud to be an American... and if I were earning an NFL salary, I'd not just be proud, but double-damn proud!

Ok, all that being said, 2017 hasn't been such a bad year, really. Even you Trump-haters have to agree that the stock market is doing dandy, that no new wars have started, that ISIS is on the run, and that no illegals have been hanged, drawn, and quartered as feared by the hate-mongers in the media. I believe that as bad as some of these trends are getting, better things lie ahead of us. Godspeed to one and all as we enter the Christmas season and look forward to 2018!

Books by John Arra:

Monday, October 30, 2017

Corker is quackers & so is Flake.

Bob Corker changed his status as a senator to lame duck last week amid a furious flapping of wings and loud quacking about Trump's incompetence, childishness, etc. He was soon followed by another Republican poser announcing his decision not to run again, Jeff Flake of Arizona.

At first blush it is a head-scratcher how predominately conservative states like Tennessee and Arizona and South Carolina elect such mushy senators like Corker and Lamar Alexander, John McCain and Flake, and Lindsey Graham. But of course, these are guys who rival Baal for deception politically, wearing a staunch conservative coat while running for office, then shedding it once in office.

Corker and Flake have figured out the jig is up on that.

Corker, however, did what Carly Fiorina and some of the other candidates in the 2016 Republican primaries figured out was the way to get himself maximum publicity on his way out - he picked a fight with Trump. It later came out that Corker is considering a run against Trump in 2020. That explains that.

I look on the Republican Party with near equal disdain as the Democratic Party. They are both corrupt. They are machines for keeping the status quo in power. I look at Trump as a six-foot middle finger to the Establishment and thus support him despite his occasional gaffes or miscues, which may well be calculated for all I can tell. The problem is, the Republican Party has been for a long time the only place where at least some candidates pretend to be conservative, so I've had to vote Republican as the lesser of two evils.

With quackers like Corker and Flake dropping out, maybe that's about to change?

Books by John Arra:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

N.F.L. = Not For Long

At a glance, it is cloaked as, and it looks like, a protest over some vague notion of racial discrimination, but all this kneeling in the N.F.L. by both players and owners is just a prelude to a players strike.

Why else would a supposed tough guy like Jerry Jones be making a fool of himself by having a P.D.A. with his players, a Kumbaya group-hug? It's not to spite Donald Trump, although that is a money sport in itself among the entertainment industry. It is because N.F.L. owners all share one thing in common: not love of winning, not love of America, but love of money. The last thing they want is a players strike and they see in the kneeling thing just the vehicle for pitting players against owners, both groups of whom are completely drunk on too much money.

I have never paid close attention to professional football but living in Nashville I have not been able to avoid it. Nashville sold its soul to have an N.F.L. team. We got one, and we got the owner, too, Bud Adams. I can't imagine a crasser, uglier human being. No amount of having his coaches and players insert themselves into local charities could mask that. His family still owns the team and I guess the apples don't fall far from the tree. Instead of standing up for country, the team hid in the locker room during the anthem Sunday.

By turning their backs on their country and on common sense, the owners may keep their golden goose on life support by avoiding a strike, but the fans will find other diversions. The kneeling thing is repulsive. The easiest solution is to turn the channel.

Actually, maybe the death of the N.F.L. would be the best thing ever for the sport of football. It is a bunch of grown men playing a kid's sport. It's gotten ugly.

On the contrary, there's no better way to spend a Saturday morning than watching little kids play football in oversized helmets or than spending a cool Friday night with a couple of hot dogs, a marching band, and two high school football teams playing their hearts out. I think football will live on better at these levels where the players are playing for love of the sport, not love of the money, and no Bud Adams or the like can monetize that.

Books by John Arra: