Sunday, October 9, 2016

In the spirit of Halloween...

...there are horrifying things coming out in this presidential election.

But don't be too quick to cast the first stone if you're a normal healthy heterosexual male. Or married to one. Or mother to one. Or sister to one. Or anyone.

Male or female, if you had a hidden microphone on you 24/7 and you're a human being, you would eventually say or do something that shouldn't see the light of day. Maybe about your spouse. Or a parent. Or a sibling. Or a rival. Or your boss. Or that good-looking thing that just walked through the door! Whoa!

From the Democrats, feigned horror over Donald Trump's "lewd" comments is expected. But the priggish hypocritical Republicans who denounce him publicly are the really disgusting element here.

Remember, even fundamentalist Baptist Jimmy Carter confessed publicly to lusting in his heart after other women. There are few men in this world who don't, truth be told, maybe a saint here and there, but just check out Saint Augustine's life story to see what a struggle that can be. It just so happens Donald Trump wears his heart on his sleeve.

He will survive this like every other arrow slung at him. Or stone thrown at him. In fact, I think it humanizes him more than ever and will as before bring him unexpected, visceral support from people who find "Chucky" Clinton's manufactured candidacy to be the real horror show here in this election.

Monday, September 26, 2016

If you still hate Donald Trump... probably wouldn't have supported the election of another bombastic, self-promoting, narcissistic, party-switching, love-him-or-hate-him candidate for one of the world's highest offices.

If Twitter had existed in his day he would have set hyperspace on fire with his infamous insults.

He was aristocratic, a chain smoker, and hated by the pseudo-intellectual elite. Speaking of which, one of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to have his bust removed from the White House.

Yes, Winston Churchill was quite a cad except for one thing: he was right when the best "minds" of western civilization were wrong. He called a spade a spade. When he looked at Adolf Hitler, he saw a psychopath dead set on dominating the world through any means necessary. All of free world politics was about post-World War I pacifism, so Churchill was mocked for his relentless push to build up the military.

The pre-war prime minister Neville Chamberlain publicly proclaimed that his 1938 Munich Accord with Hitler brought the world "peace in our time." Hitler, however, promptly invaded Czech territory in complete disregard for their agreement, then proceeded with one unchecked aggression after another. In short order the folly of Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler was undeniable. He stepped down and thankfully for western civilization, in 1940 Churchill took his place and guided the Allies to victory in World War II.

So... maybe we don't need a Mr. Nice Guy as president, polished and politic and a poet with words. Maybe in this time of chronic terrorism, a Middle East in more turmoil than ever before after eight years of Obama as president and Clinton and Kerry at State, and an economy that's wearing a straight jacket of anti-capitalism and rapacious federal regulation, we could use a plain-if-not-eloquently spoken leader who will clear the decks.

Maybe he's no Churchill. But he is Trump. And he's your only choice - and quite likely in my opinion, a damn good one - if you want America to have a chance of getting out of its spiral into failure.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nashville MTA - Get Your B.A. Buses Out of the Right of Way!

At first glance, you might logically think this picture shows a passenger a little full from the buffet, slow to stand up and get on the bus stopping there in front of the Shoney's on White Bridge Road.

Not so. Put on your progressive thinking cap and think again.

It's the DRIVER of the bus. Taking a break. From all the stress of driving around a bus full of, oh, maybe on a heavy trip, a dozen passengers, but typically no more than a handful.

That bus is STOPPED. On White Bridge Road. During rush hour on a Thursday morning. With vehicles streaming off Charlotte Pike and Briley Parkway forced to merge from three lanes to two because this is an MTA approved break room for the drivers.

Any moron would know that this practice not only makes the congestion worse on roads that are already over used, but is also major a safety hazard. When you pull up behind the bus, thinking it will move on, it doesn't. So then you have to get around its B.A. (my then-adolescent son informed me one day that the "B.A. Burger" at Krystal does not actually mean "Big Angus." Think about it.) Try darting into the traffic flow on White Bridge road from a full stop. You are taking your life into your hands.

This B.A. B.S. goes on all day long. Just take a look at the next picture taken later in the day and you will see how these buses that are supposed to be reducing Nashville's emissions have fouled the road surface, sitting there idling while their drivers are idling. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

When I called MTA about this shituation, they were adamant that it was a safe practice (according to the safety director, I was told). Moreover, they pointed out, they had been doing it for fifteen years.

My office has been a block away from this location for over fifteen years. I can tell you, traffic now is NOTHING like it was fifteen years ago. You could have lined up rickshaws there fifteen years ago and no one would have cared. Oh that traffic were still like that!

Now MTA has come out with a new plan to spend billions of dollars on mass transit (CLICK HERE for a news bit about it; CLICK HERE for the MTA B.S. about it). Given the stupidity shown at White Bridge Road and Charlotte Pike, if I were mayor instead of Dingbat (who is no better than our former mayor Meathead) I'd pull the plug on the whole operation.

But no. Instead while we're waiting breathlessly to waste billions more, let's waste a scant million dollars on new bus stops like the one below (according to Beacon Center's 2016 Tennessee Pork Report; CLICK HERE to see - the expense of the new shelters is mentioned on page 12).

My question is, what is that deodorant applicator doing to the left of it? I can guarantee it won't do a thing for how much this waste of taxpayer money stinks. Note also the black thing hanging down from the ceiling. It's an electronic ticker tape board that, I suppose, is designed to make you think you might actually be in a gate at the airport. Note also that there is NO BENCH. But there is a handy bar you can tie your horse to while waiting for the bus.

Come on, folks. Did you not learn anything from the AMP debacle?


No one except a few liberal Vandy and Belmont students and professors who will take great delight in riding their bicycles to the bus stop, tying up traffic while they mount them on the nose of the bus, and then enjoying their choice of seats because no one else is on the bus. I can't cite my source for this, but I've heard that MTA only operates at 15% capacity. I'm not sure if that's seat capacity or mental capacity, but it ain't much capacity either way.

The other people who ride the bus don't do it because they want to, they do it because they HAVE TO. I feel for these people and I do believe it's in the community's interest to help them get where they need to be for jobs, childcare, etc. Here's an idea that will be much cheaper: subsidize Uber and Lyft service for them. Everyone will be happier.

And we won't have to follow behind MTA's stinky, slow, B.A. buses. Now that's an idea for mass transit!

Monday, July 11, 2016

TDOT, Metro Waste Money, Endanger Lives on Charlotte Pike

Finally the state has repaved Charlotte Pike from White Bridge Road to just past Old Hickory Blvd. Long overdue, the paving corrected what was rivaling Baghdad's Airport Road for worst road surface of the universe. I can't quite recall when it was paved before, but I know Nashville West went up in the meantime, and that's been there how many years now? Maybe ten?

Too bad they ruined a beautiful paving job with an insane paint job. It's like the camel that was meant to be a race horse but was designed by committee.

I was so perturbed after a few days of weaving through the uneven lanes, too-narrow lanes, swerving lanes on straight-ways, bicycle lanes, and other lanes that seem to go nowhere and do nothing that I called the TDOT commissioner's office. I got hold of a polite and intelligent-sounding young man who mentioned something about federal directives. "Screw the feds," I said, "I want to know who's responsible for this locally." He gave me a name and an email address. I wondered why anybody polite and intelligent would choose to work for a state agency, but then I remembered private sector hiring has all but been snuffed out by the leftist regime. "You didn't build that..." Anyway, here's the email I sent:

I am a lifelong resident of Davidson and now lately Houston County, and I own and operate a business in Nashville, so I am paying local, state, and federal taxes at both points and in between going to and fro, not to mention the various property, personalty, and income taxes, among other head scratching fees and surcharges too prevalent to enumerate.

So I am more than a little sensitive to egregious wastes of taxpayer money and less than sympathetic to excuses that they are caused by federal directive because the government money at all levels is all coming out of the same pot which has a direct pipeline from my wallet.

The recent repaving of Charlotte Pike was certainly overdue and is appreciated, but the Salvador Dali-like paint job done on it afterward is a slap in the face both to good stewardship of taxpayer resources and common sense. The bicycle lanes, now becoming as omnipresent as green bottle flies, are a particular waste. They are hardly used, they crowd the road, and besides their initial engineering cost, they will cost a fortune to maintain.

I would like to know that someone in state government is standing up to say this emperor has no clothes and to push back against the waste of resources. There are numerous real problems with our roads, of which I am sure TDOT is only too well aware, to which funding could effectively be allocated.

If there is such a Diogenes in state government and you are not it, then please at least pass my letter along as support to the right person who might be working to stop such waste.

I did get an answer, believe it or not, and it was well written and thoughtful, not a form letter, from a young lady functionary who again actually seems pretty sharp. Too bad all these good minds are being wasted diffusing wealth instead of creating it. I won't identify her by name as I am sure she did not write the letter intending it to be publicized. And I don't think it should necessarily be taken as an official TDOT or Metro response. But here's the gist of it: Some study found that over a TEN YEAR PERIOD (caps for emphasis are mine) there were THREE bicycle injury crashes and TEN pedestrian injury crashes on this stretch of road. So the state working with Metro decided bike lanes were in order and piggybacked that cost onto an already-planned repaving.


Obviously there's an agenda here to force bovine scatology "improvements" like bicycle lanes on the motoring public. Some call it Agenda 21, but I won't get into all that. The fact is, blue and bluish local and state governments, prodded by and with entangling seed money from the feds, are candy coating disgraceful abuses of city planning with flashy projects like bicycle lanes, greenways, roller coaster art, fireworks shows, fat smelly buses, and boondoggle commuter trains and the like that solve nothing, all the while bending planning and zoning that's been in place for decades in order to overcrowd the city, all to the purpose of expanding the tax base. Just look at the apartment houses that are springing up all up and down Charlotte. They're cheap, they're firetraps, and they're your real problem with traffic on Charlotte Pike.

I first became familiar with how all this works maybe twenty years ago when the Walmart Supercenter went up at Charlotte and Davidson Drive. I lived in the neighborhood at the time. I have nothing against Walmart, but I knew that if the zoning requirements were waived to allow that development, it was Katie bar the door against anything else. I had a nice little five minute commute back then. The city bent over and the Walmart property developers got their way. The rest, as you can see with your own eyes now, is history. There are now about a half a dozen added traffic lights on that old commute of mine.

But back to the point. The bicycle lanes are an abomination. I have seen one cyclist using them in all of my daily commute down that stretch since they went in. It was an aging hippie type, straining up one of the hills, long white beard flowing and in some danger of getting entangled in the spokes of his front tire. I felt kind of sorry for him. It was hot as Hades. And by the way, he was going against traffic. And not wearing a helmet, not that anyone should have to. But I and many others have noticed that bicyclists, whether the hippie type, or kids, or the kind in the little tight pants (spare us, please, especially those of you who are broader of beam than your figure-slenderizing mirror suggests) are the most arrogant, rule-breaking, dangerous folks on the road, running red lights and stop signs, jumping off and back onto the sidewalks, weaving through traffic, blocking lines of traffic while spasmodically pedaling uphill, etc.

Be that as it may, the next "bicycle injury crash" is on the state, not the cyclist. The bicycle lanes offer a false sense of security to the cyclists and they are anything but secure routes to travel. Just look at that picture above. That is a bicycle lane painted RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE of the Charlotte Pike, River Road, and Walmart driveway intersection. What madness. Some poor soul is likely to go careening down that lane and get smacked head on by a Metro Public Works truck making a turn there. Well, actually, all it will take is a Smart Car to take out a cyclist.

Such an accident will be on you, Metro, and you, State. God forbid it's a fatality.

Better to leave the cyclists to their own devices. Have them cross traffic when the light allows like pedestrians, then go on their way. Don't lure them into the maelstrom.

Not wanting merely to criticize, let me offer some helpful suggestions for better use of highway funds:

1. Lose the bicycle lanes. See above.

2. Lose the informational signs on the freeways that have all the cute little rhymes most of the time. There is an amazing modern invention called the radio. They even have them in cars now. They give excellent traffic reports. Sell those signs to New Jersey. They love that stuff.

3. Lose the lane reflectors where there are street lights. Lane reflectors are another feature installed on that stretch of Charlotte now, and I noticed the other day they are also all the way out Harding Pike to Bellevue. Where there are no street lights, reflectors are a great safety feature. Otherwise, some vendors who make and install them are getting wealthy with a lot of unnecessarily spent taxpayer money, and call me cynical, but I'm guessing some intermediary along the way is pocketing a percentage as well.

4. Lose the mileage markers on the freeways every tenth of a mile. Of course, as with other things, the money is already spent. But for goodness' sake, don't replace damaged ones.

5. Lose the big TDOT sign painted on the exit off I-40 down around Jackson. What is that a sign of really anyway, delusions of grandeur? You're a highway department, not the Titans.

6. Lose the signs that say "First State Highway" and similar. Who besides TDOT cares enough to spend any money on that? Better to spend the money on speed limit change warning signs for all the absurd 30 m.p.h. zones on state highways now. Why 30 m.p.h.? For safety? I don't think so. I think that every level of local government is loving getting the $100 and $200 tickets for speeding in these absurdly slow zones, not to mention their cuts of the traffic safety class fees. I'll have more to say about that in another post. But TDOT, if you have such a sign fetish, at least do drivers a favor by warning them of speed traps.

I could go on with cost saving suggestions, but let's cut to the chase. Safety is your first priority, right?

Three rollovers in a month at the 24/40 split?

TDOT, Metro, I think you have more important priorities that you've been ignoring than the frivolous bicycle lanes you've put so much resource into. How about doing your real job? Provide good, safe roads for the motorists who pay for them and leave the window dressing to interior designers.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

They're Lyin' and We're Dyin'

To my way of thinking, nice people hold the world together, but difficult people make it go round. So Donald Trump's and Ted Cruz's prickly personalities don't bother me one bit. They are putting it out there and you know they're hitting a nerve because the professional protester class is reacting like crazy. The protesters have had plenty of practice under Obama's reign, from the Occupy movement through Black Lives Matter. Now they are getting to show out in full measure at Trump's and Cruz's rallies.

I'm also glad that Trump and Cruz aren't just being prickly, but are going after each other like two cage fighters. It is uncomfortable sometimes. But I want somebody who is out to win at virtually any cost short of unlawfulness. We cannot have another mealy-mouthed, do-nothing Republican establishment candidate like John McCain or Mitt Romney, or closer to home, Lamar Alexander or Marsha Blackburn. They talk a good game but melt away like butter from a real scrap. Not Trump or Cruz.

I still believe that Trump has the best chance of winning the general election because he can get the less informed voters. Cruz will have a steeper climb to get their attention and the leftist media will score more effectively by mocking and marginalizing him as they are wont to do. That kind of stuff just falls off Trump. Cruz has mostly been spared this so far thanks to Trump's taking the lion's share of attention.

What is most disappointing to me is how unhinged conservative luminaries like Glenn Beck and Mark Levin have become over Trump's candidacy. They are being foolish and short-sighted. Trump is no ideological conservative, but there is no doubt he loves this country and has the C.O. Jones to turn it back on the right path by the power of his personality if not his logical or rhetorical skills. The details will work themselves out later. If those such as Beck and Levin think this country is ever going to get back to true conservatism again they are delusional. Refocusing on border, language, and culture is the best we can hope for, and plenty to cheer, to borrow the ironically more pragmatic Michael Savage's wording.

For it is the snakes in the grass, the passive-aggressive Obama and Clinton types who are the greatest threat to our individual liberties and our national sovereignty. They have championed the lyin' government we are living under now where the government messages from the unemployment rate to the GDP to climate change temperatures to crime rates to Benghazi are all demonstrably false or at the least, misleading. The deception is a rot that is killing everything that makes America exceptional.

My experience is that the people who make us uncomfortable, the prickly, difficult people who get under our skin the most, usually have that effect because they force us to face uncomfortable truths.

A little truth from the government would be a shock. But may well be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

All the King's Men & Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's a surprise crossing of paths by historical figures.

(For another, see my previous post, "Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe.")

I have just finished a re-reading of Robert Penn Warren's novel, All the King's Men. Like all great novels, it is worth reading over and over again, at least once a decade. I think the first time I read it was perhaps for a college course, then again when I was doing a lot of business travel close to age 40. This reading at age 57 was probably the most moving of all.

Warren just blows me away with his metaphorical, allegorical writing that comes straight out of the southern way of talking and thinking fused brilliantly with erudition so that you hardly even notice the theological and philosophical lessons he reveals through his storytelling. If you've never read the book, you have not really read the greatest American literature has to offer. Not to mention a story whose characters you believe are flesh and blood, whose words and sins and achievements rattle around in your head long after the story ends. But enough about that. Read it.

I got more curious about the author, Robert Penn Warren. I knew he had spent a good deal of time in Nashville at Vanderbilt. I have read a lesser novel based partly in Nashville, A Place to Come To. And I've read some of his poetry, especially a brilliant short poem about an old man waiting on the phone to ring that I saw one time perhaps in "The New Yorker" and I've never  been able to find again. But I wanted a clue about how he came to probe the human soul and the meaning of life and to express his findings on the subjects so well through his art in All the King's Men. I'm still wanting more about that, but what I found about him and Martin Luther King, Jr. was a revelation in itself.

I suppose most people today mainly know of MLK through his "Dream" speech, the iconic picture of his aides pointing in the direction of his assassin from the hotel balcony in Memphis, and maybe a snatch of news footage here and there. But if you want to get to know the man MLK rather than just the legend, I found just the thing, an hour-long interview that Robert Penn Warren did with him in 1964. CLICK HERE to hear the audio.

You can judge for yourself, but I'll just point out a couple of things. One, MLK had more common sense than most high profile civil rights leaders of today put together. Another, he regrets several times in the interview the bitterness of may of his contemporaries. That, unfortunately, has only grown worse with time as the race-baiters running things in Washington these days exploit division instead of promoting the unity which MLK so urgently sought. He was probably fortunate in one sense not to be around to grapple with the mess busing made of things in our schools, but as for the progress America made in the last part of the century that he missed, he would have felt vindicated.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a proud American and an exceptional man, whatever his faults. Warren's interview with him is the proof in the pudding.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ted Cruz, lose the VAT tax.

All presidential contenders put out tax plans. The details are virtually irrelevant. Whether Ben Carson wants Americans to tithe to their government or pay 15% doesn't matter because it will never happen. By the time any plan gets through Congress and the lobbyists, it will inevitably be so bastardized as to be unrecognizable from a candidate's proposal or party platform.

What a tax plan reveals, however, is the philosophical bent of the candidate. I like Ted Cruz because he proposes to abolish the IRS. But for some perverse reason, in doing this he proposes a VAT tax. The problem is that a VAT tax requires a huge bureaucracy to enforce it, so even if you did eliminate the IRS you would have to replace it with another monster of the same dimensions. The floating of a VAT tax as a reasonable idea should be on par with pre-Obama proposals of national health insurance. Best not to go there at all.

But first of all, what is a VAT tax?

VAT stands for "Value Added Tax." It is a consumption tax, not an income tax. That means it is assessed on what you buy, not what you earn. That is good. But the problem is, it is levied on every transaction, not just the last transaction (i.e., sale to the end-user or consumer, as in a sales tax). In practice VAT taxes are typically around 15% from my experience.

So, for example, if you make a product from scrap and sell it for $1.00, you owe 15 cents to the government. Then, if the wholesaler who bought it from you sells it for $2.00, he owes another 15 cents to the government (because $1.00 of value has been added to the product). The retailer who sells it for $12.00 owes $1.50 to the government (because $10.00 of value has been added).

That's a lot of transactions to keep up with. The example above puts VAT taxes in the simplest of terms, and I'm ignoring the typical deduction of taxes paid in each stage. But in reality there end up being a million exceptions and rules and a lot of ambiguous arguments about what is really "value added."

I had experience with a VAT tax when I had a business in Mexico. It is a pain in the neck. Every business there, no matter how small, has to have an accountant come in at least weekly just to keep up with the VAT taxes. (Yes, I know "VAT tax" is redundant, but it's clearer that way.)

Besides all the accounting, the VAT tax allows government reach into a business's pricing and marketing practices which should be confidential. It also overburdens small business which cannot afford the accounting cost more easily absorbed by large corporations. And a VAT tax is just one more way government has of control, and any way you slice it that means loss of individual freedom.


Given human nature, any tax bureaucracy is going to be corrupt because the more onerous it is, the harder people will work to skirt it, and the more likely it will be used as a political weapon as we have plainly seen in administrations from Nixon to Obama.

The only ways to tax effectively and "fairly" (meaning, collecting taxes but keeping the government out of everybody's business) are the ways we as a country started out doing it: with tariffs, fees, and sales taxes. This would eliminate the tax exemption on internet sales, for example. And states should be in charge of collecting taxes and passing on the federal portion of what they collect. In return for this power gain by the states, property taxes should be outlawed so that no level of government can confiscate property for any reason, returning America to the ideal of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." You will know that that last phrase "pursuit of happiness" was substituted for "private property" if you've learned your history well. If not, then you've just learned.

So Sen. Cruz, lose the VAT tax. Scrap your plan and start over. If you had not been in law and government all your life, you'd know better than to propose such an albatross for us here in the real world of commerce.

Otherwise, I think you're a great candidate.