Reflect on those things that make America great
Americans today will reflect upon the solemn anniversary of the vicious attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that shook the nation and led the United States into an ongoing war.
The occasion also provides an opportunity to meditate upon the euphoric unity that the tragedy quickly engendered so that we might feel that once again.
Recent terrorist attacks have led people across the world to declare: “We are Paris,” “We are Brussels” and “We are Orlando.”
In 2001, we – the whole world – were all Americans. Could we say that again today?
That sense of purpose behind the values that define us – a commitment to embracing and expanding freedom and welcoming outsiders to join in that cause – is needed now more than ever.
The 2016 presidential election has become a contentious and divisive affair.
Friendships in the real and virtual worlds have been lost. Raw emotion has, at times, replaced thoughtfulness, curiosity and humility. The result has been a corrosion of civil discourse and a loss of respect for one another that is critically necessary for this nation to live up to its promise.
However, it is not too late. Americans are resilient. They persevere. They heal. They push boundaries and make sacrifices. They want to do the right thing.
On this day, let us reflect upon those who make America great today, such as the first responders, the warriors, the medical professionals, among others. The celebration of Marine Week in Nashville this past week has given us a powerful visual cue to witness and experience sacrifice in the flesh.
Reflect upon those who suffer and have not fully realized the American Dream because of poverty, racial injustice, or other forms of oppression and lack of privilege. Take time to re-read and share the message of the preamble to the United States Constitution, a document so powerful that the Founding Fathers knew it would have to be frequently amended in order to achieve the goal of forming “a more perfect union:"
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
May we all now say, “We are all Americans?”
Opinion Engagement Editor David Plazas wrote this editorial on behalf of The Tennessean editorial board.
Nuclear plant for sale at fraction of cost
After spending more than 40 years and $5 billion on an unfinished nuclear power plant in northeastern Alabama, the nation’s largest federal utility is preparing to sell the property at a fraction of its cost.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has set a minimum bid of $36.4 million for its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and the 1,600 surrounding acres of waterfront property on the Tennessee River. The buyer gets two unfinished nuclear reactors, transmission lines, office and warehouse buildings, 8 miles of roads, a 1,000-space parking lot, and more.
Initial bids are due Monday, and at least one company has publicly expressed interest in the site with plans to use it for alternative energy production.
But the TVA says it isn’t particular about what the purchaser does — using the site for power production, industrial manufacturing, recreation, or even residences would all be fine with the agency, spokesman Scott Fiedler said.
‘‘It’s all about jobs and investment, and that’s our primary goal for selling this property,’’ Fiedler said. The TVA hopes to close the deal in October. - The Boston Globe (subscription)
Trump’s outreach efforts gaining little traction with African-Americans
In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain got 4 percent of the black vote compared with President Barack Obama’s 95 percent. Four years later, Republican nominee Mitt Romney bested McCain by pulling in 6 percent of the black vote.
Recent polls show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with an 80 percent favorable rating among African-Americans.
“I think she is the best choice between the two of them. She is very well qualified, she has worked her way up to this point. She has been through the ranks,” Sadie Heaston, a retired teacher, said. “We’ll get two-for-one or three-for-one. She has expertise plus her husband has expertise. And our president, who I have confidence in, endorsed her. I think she will get his help as well.”
Meanwhile, polls have put Trump’s favorable ratings with African-American voters at anywhere from 0-to-2 percent. - The Tennessean (subscription)
More Tennesseans are organ volunteers
Vanderbilt Fights Policy That Could Result In Fewer Liver Transplants For Tennesseans
Tennessee is a place with such healthy organ donation rates that Apple founder Steve Jobs bought a home in Memphis when he needed a liver so he could be double listed in Tennessee and California, where patients tend to wait longer for a donor.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which performs the most transplants in Tennessee, even touts the fact that the state is a good place for transplant patients in a promotional video.
Currently, a Tennessee patient gets first dibs on a Tennessee liver. Then there's a sequence of offering it to some neighboring states and then anywhere in the nation. But the agency that governs organ transplants — the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) — says it shouldn't matter where a patient lives. The proposal, which was intended to increase fairness, would move away from local priority, meaning New York and California — which have lower rates of donation — would be net recipients of livers from places with higher donation rates.
Vanderbilt claims that because of one-on-one counseling with the families of dying patients, 95 percent of them agree to donate the organs of their loved one. Seth Karp, who chairs the Vanderbilt Department of Surgery, argues UNOS should not "redistribute" organs to places like New York, which have a 53 percent donation rate.
"Local efforts in the community have been very successful in increasing the number of donors," Karp says. "If this system were to go through, then the local communities would have very little incentive."
Karp also believes the redesign could become a logistical headache, with organs regularly being flown hundreds of miles to reach a recipient. A liver from Tennessee, for instance, could easily wind up in Chicago.
The change is up for public comment through mid-October. - WPLN
Yes, he will.
Will Jeremy Durham Embarrass Republicans One Last Time?
By Betsy Phillips, Nashville Scene
One thing I really admire about Joel Ebert’s writing at The Tennessean is that he has an elegant economy of words. Things sometimes get obfuscated when you go on about them too long. You can, for instance, almost convince yourself that Jeremy Durham’s behavior was not-so-bad when people try to place it in historical context or ask his buddies to comment on it.
Ebert simply says:
"Haslam said it was up to lawmakers on whether to include expelling Durham, who is accused of inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women, in discussion of the special session. Unless lawmakers remove Durham, he is set to receive a lifetime pension."
At least 22 women. These folks sat back and did as little as possible for as long as possible to protect the people who work at the state Legislature from this guy and now they’re on the verge of letting him receive a lifetime pension.
It’s almost breathtaking when you think that’s what it comes down to — the taxpayers of Tennessee had to pay Jeremy Durham’s salary while he apparently treated Legislative Plaza as his personal Playboy Mansion. We literally paid him to (allegedly) sexually harass almost two dozen women. And now, unless these folks who have so far shown no willingness to act against Durham somehow grow a spine, we’re going to be rewarding him again for the time he spent here in Nashville playing a creep.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but my list of things I’d like my tax dollars to go to has approximately a billion things on it ahead of “pay Jeremy Durham for the time he spent dicking around, literally, dicking around.”
If Republicans want to prove that they’re good fiscal stewards of the state, getting our money out of Durham’s pocket is a good place to start. It remains to be seen if they have the guts to do it, though. - Pith in the Wind, Nashville Scene
Tenn. lawmakers to get $16 bump in daily stipend
Most state legislators will soon get a $16 per day increase in the daily stipend they are paid while engaged in lawmaking endeavors, but not in time for the special session that begins today.
Legislators' general "per diem" expense payment is currently at $204 per day, but will increase to $220 per day effective Oct. 1, according to Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration. Under state law, the payment rate is adjusted each year, based on what the federal government pays its employees for spending a day away from home in Nashville.
The federal formula is based on two parts — one for the average cost of spending a night in a motel; the other for the average estimated daily cost of meals for a Nashville visitor. Starting Oct. 1, Ridley said the formula pegs the daily meal cost at $59, the same as now. But the motel cost average is up to $161, a $16 increase.
Thus, legislators living more than 50 miles from the state capitol complex will get $220 per day, a $16 increase. Middle Tennessee legislators living within a 50-mile drive will still get just $59.
All legislators get 47 cents per mile for driving a vehicle from their homes to the Legislative Plaza. Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, has the longest commuted, listed as 588 miles round-trip on the Legislature's website for a $276.36 payment. Rep. Harold Love Jr., D-Nashville, has the shortest, six miles round-trip for $2.83. - Tom Humphrey in the Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)
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Clinton recovering after health episode, cancels Calif. trip
An ill Hillary Clinton abruptly left a 9/11 anniversary ceremony Sunday and needed to be held up by three people before she appeared to stumble off a curb and was helped into a van. Several hours later, her campaign revealed she had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday and advised to rest.
Less than two months from Election Day, it was an unwanted visual for Clinton as she tries to project the strength and vigor needed for one of the world's most demanding jobs. Republican rival Donald Trump has spent months questioning Clinton's health, saying she lacks the stamina to be president.
In a statement, Clinton's doctor said the former secretary of state had become overheated and dehydrated at the event in lower Manhattan. "I have just examined her and she is now rehydrated and recovering nicely," Dr. Lisa R. Bardack said.
The physician said Clinton has had an allergy-related cough, and that during a follow-up examination Friday, the candidate was diagnosed with pneumonia, put on antibiotics, advised to rest and modify her schedule. - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)
This election’s faith-based candidate
This is the inversion election, a contest in which so many of our familiar mental categories have been turned upside down.
This year, it’s the Republican presidential candidate who says the United States isn’t great anymore and the Democrat who insists it is. The Republican says that the former KGB agent presiding over Russia is a better leader than the president of the United States. The Democrat condemns him for it.
But last week reminded us that there is another role reversal in this election. There is one candidate who is authentically religious, who has thought seriously about what the Scriptures teach, and whose own view of the world was changed radically by her engagement with faith. Her name is Hillary Clinton.
Clinton’s religious views, I’d argue, are organically connected to many of the choices she has made in her life.
“The Scripture tells us that faith without works is dead,” she said. “The Epistle of James tells us we cannot just be hearers of the Word, we must be doers.” Clinton explained that she embraced “an activist social justice faith , a roll-up-your-sleeves and get-your-hands-dirty faith.”
This is not the only kind of Christianity, and it would be sinfully arrogant to doubt the authenticity of the beliefs of more conservative Christians whose deepest commitments lead them to conclusions quite different from Clinton’s on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In American history, Christians have argued passionately among themselves over what Scripture and tradition teach about a wide range of public questions, including slavery.
What I do doubt is the depth of the conviction of politicians whose religious commitments seem to have little connection to their lives. They paint themselves as religious by either pushing the social conservatives’ hot buttons or, as Trump did Friday at the Values Voter Summit, appealing to their sense of victimhood. He spoke about religious liberty and criticized a media culture that “mocks and demeans people of faith.”
Conservative religious people have every right to test liberal believers by their willingness to defend the role of faith in our public square. But liberal believers have a comparable right to test conservatives by whether what the Gospel teaches about love, justice and our obligation to the poor has any relationship to their public actions and the policies they promote.
Another test is humility, a hard virtue to come by in an election campaign. Thus did Clinton tell her Baptist audience that “we’re not asked to love each other, not urged or requested. We are commanded to love. Indeed, Jesus made it his greatest commandment. When I used to teach the occasional Sunday school class, I often taught on that lesson. That’s a hard commandment to obey. Some days it’s really hard for me.”
Clinton also spoke of “the awesome responsibilities of power and the frailties of human action.” I do prefer politicians who follow Kierkegaard’s lead in approaching the burdens of governing with a certain amount of “fear and trembling.” I see at least some of that spirit in Clinton. I wish I could find it in Trump. - E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post (subscription)
Who has the biggest?
Donald Trump Boasted His Building Was Tallest After Towers Fell On 9/11
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged that his building was the tallest in New York City hours after the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001.
Audio of the real estate mogul’s comments was obtained and published by Politico reporter Michael Kruse on Saturday. In the middle of a 10-minute conversation with local television station WWOR, Trump took the opportunity to plug his 71-story skyscraper located in the financial district, just blocks away from the doomed towers.
“40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest — and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest,” he says in the clip, as footage of the towers falling rolls on screen.
Trump has a habit of stirring up controversy regarding the Sept. 11 attacks. The New York billionaire has previously called the newly built 1 World Trade Center “disgusting” and “a piece of junk.” Last year, he claimed, without offering evidence, that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. And he has a very long history of trying to make Sept. 11 all about himself.
Donald Trump’s Most Despicable Tweets About 9/11
Donald Trump has a very public history of trying to make 9/11 all about himself, and also about attacking his own personal and political enemies. Furthermore, the GOP presidential nominee has a penchant for straight-uplying about what happened on September 1, 2001. (To say nothing of the fact that one of his closest allies and friends in media, right-wing radio host Alex Jones, is a 9/11 “truther.”)
Nowhere are Trump’s crass 9/11-related tendencies more prominently displayed than on his verified Twitter feed. On this solemn occasion, here are the 10 worst @realDonaldTrump tweets concerning 9/11.
10. Trump uses 9/11 to go after libertarian icon Ron Paul and The Donald’s foe Rosie O’Donnell.
9. Here’s Trump tweeting, and approvingly retweeting, about scores of “militant Muslims” in America delighting in the carnage of 9/11.
8. “...all kinds of youtube videos...”
6. Did you know that Donald Trump predicted the 9/11 plot?
5. There was also when he used 9/11 to bash Obama and the president’s supposed “good friends in Libya and Egypt.”
4. For those searching for an emphatically pro-torture 9/11 tweet…
3. The Infowars link is what makes it.
1. And finally, never forget:
Billy Moore Reports from Washington
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's new book, The Long Game: A Memoir, describes his career of perseverance and patience. McConnell is running out of patience with House partisan dithering over funding government in the new fiscal year and is moving forward to prevent an October 1 shutdow.
The House Republican Conference will continue internal discussions, without consulting Democrats, about a Continuing Resolution's length, spending rates and policy riders. McConnell is negotiating with Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid and the White House. If he can he can make a bipartisan deal, the Senate would pass the bill next week and leave town, giving Representatives a choice: pass the Senate plan or shut the government down.
The Senate plan would fund government through December 9, setting up a Lame Duck omnibus appropriation. The deal would fund the Zika virus fight without the House poison pill that excludes family planning clinics from the program.
President Barack Obama invited the bipartisan congressional leaders to a Monday meeting at the White House to discuss the September agenda, including the CR.
While seeking a deal, the Senate will continue debate of a water resources bill. The House will vote on impeaching Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen and blocking the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay into the next presidency. Last week, Representatives passed legislation to ease financial services regulations and cleared Senate legislation for the White House to allow 9/11 victims? families to sue Saudi Arabia that President Obama may veto. Conferees met on an energy policy bill and signaled a deal is unlikely until the Lame Duck session.
Hillary Clinton's national lead over Donald Trump in the national polls has narrowed, even as she maintains her Electoral College advantage. Democrats remain likely to reduce the House Republican majored by 10-15 seats, but are only about 50-50 to take Senate control.
Billy Moore is a partner at ViaNovo, a strategic consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, Dallas, Austin and Mexico City
Thought for the day:
"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong.
All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on 'I am not too sure.'" -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (12 Sep 1880-1956)