Category Archives: Tennessee 3rd District

Campaign Postmortem


I spent ten dollars on this campaign: Gas money for a candidate forum in Polk County. So I spent just over 4/10 of a cent per vote, so I’m confident that I had the best return on investment.

I am truly humbled by the fact that so many people who I have never met voted for me. I have received many private messages and emails from strangers telling me they voted for me and thanking me for running, because I was a candidate they could actually support. I wish that I could represent these people in Congress, because they deserve better than what they are getting.

I sent Chuck Fleischmann a congratulatory email late last night. He did what he had to do to win. Many people are frustrated with him, and rightfully so, but I am certain that he is acting in what he feels is the best interests of the 3rd District, and a majority of the voters agree with him. I would be happier if he voted against the GOP platform every so often.

I was embarrassed last night that I had lost to Rick Tyler, but I am not now. I am embarrassed that 5,091 voters thought that his “Make America White Again” platform was acceptable in 2016, but I am relieved that he spent thousands of dollars on his campaign and probably killed his family business to get to that number.

I thought before the election that Fleischmann would get about 65% of the vote, and I had predicted that I would get between 2,000 and 2,500 votes–although I jokingly predicted that I would get 1,984–so I’m happy with my prognostication skills.

I never thought Melody Shekari was playing to win, but was rather playing to win far down the road, like in the 2022-2024 time frame. In any case, I think she ran a pretty awful campaign–but I don’t think she was really running it. I expect we will see her running again for a while, unless the local Democratic Party decides that 29% is too low to warrant giving her another chance.

I signed up for this election in the belief that there was a chance that Fleischmann’s support of Trump would result in a backlash. I told my potential donors to wait until that happened to send me money. I do not feel comfortable wasting people’s money, and fighting a battle that is doomed to fail because the opponent is too popular and too well-funded would be a waste of money. I could fight against a million-dollar war chest if his popularity had taken a hit, but it never did.

I don’t know if I will run again. I’ll stay informed and involved and see where the wind takes me.

Thank you so much for your support, your kind words, and your belief in me. I am truly honored to have been your choice for Congress.


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Filed under Stuff About Me, Tennessee 3rd District

November Election Analysis

Early voting in Hamilton County starts tomorrow, so it’s time for my election analysis. So, here goes…


We have seven candidates on the ballot. I am evaluating them in the order in which they appear.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence

I can’t make this any simpler or any more blunt: There is no good reason to vote for Trump. He’s reckless, he lies constantly, he thinks he knows and understands more than he does, he’s a horrible role model, and he cannot be trusted. I’ve heard people say that they are voting for him because they don’t trust Clinton to make acceptable Supreme Court nominations, but this argument doesn’t hold water. First, the GOP will not have fewer than 41 senators, so they will be able to block anyone Clinton nominates–and the leadership is indicating that they will do just that. (I’m putting aside the dereliction of duty argument.) Second, there’s no reason to believe that he will keep his word and nominate judges acceptable to the right anyway.

Where Donald Trump truly frightens me is in the area of nuclear weapons. He doesn’t seem to grasp why we don’t use nuclear weapons–if we use them, other countries, such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea will see their use as fair–and he doesn’t understand even the most rudimentary things about our nuclear arsenal. Yes, Russia has more warheads than the U.S., because we agreed to that in numerous treaties, because they know and we know that U.S. delivery systems are more accurate and more reliable than Russian delivery systems. (The Bulava missile has about a 40% failure rate, for one example.) Putin’s rapid modernization of his nuclear arsenal needs to be considered with the fact that Russia did almost nothing with their nuclear arsenal from 1990 to 2010. It will take him a long time to catch up, and the Russian economy isn’t exactly robust.

But if there’s anyone I like less than Trump, it may be Mike Pence. Pence is so far right that he signed a bill as Governor of Indiana that requires mothers who miscarry to bury or cremate the fetus. He’s advocated for government resources for conversion therapy for homosexuals. When in Congress, he voted against raising the minimum wage to $7.25. He’s solidly anti-science, denying climate change, evolution, and repeatedly voting against most environmental legislation. He’s as far right and away from mainstream America as any politician out there.

Like I said above, there are seven candidates on the ballot here. Trump and Pence are my seventh choice. Given some of the ones I describe below, that’s an achievement.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

If this were just about the issues, my choice would be a no-brainer: I would vote for Hillary Clinton. Of the four major candidates, she is the only one who is consistently pro-science in her policies, which is pretty important for me. I want candidates who vote based on research, not gut feelings or blind faith. And there is a scenario in which I will vote for her: If the polls in Tennessee get close–right now they show Trump with a ten to twelve point lead–but the national polls show the electoral vote remaining close–currently FiveThirtyEight is predicting 343 for Clinton to 194 for Trump–I will vote for Clinton just to make sure that Trump isn’t elected. Otherwise, I will cast my vote for a third-party candidate as a protest vote to show my disgust with the Republicans and Democrats and their failure to work together on anything.

My problem with Clinton is based on two things. First, she has changed her position on many important issues. This, in itself, is a net positive. I want candidates who will change their minds when they learn new information. My problem is that Clinton consistently lies about having changed her mind. The most egregious example is her position on gay marriage. For years she said she was opposed to it, now she’s in favor of it, but she says that her position hasn’t changed. (I haven’t changed my position on gay marriage: I have believed, for as long as I can remember, that government should get out of the marriage business. Where my position has changed is that I now believe that sexual identity and orientation should be a protected class under civil rights laws.)

Second, I believe that Clinton is too entrenched with the establishment to necessarily do the right thing, even when she knows it to be right. She’s obviously pragmatic and knows who supports her–*cough* Goldman Sachs *cough*–which makes her more pro-big business than she probably should be. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for the status quo. The status quo is better than what we would get with Trump, but I can’t give anything better than a room temperature endorsement. If you are in a swing state, please vote for Hillary Clinton, because Donald Trump is literally World War III-level dangerous.

“Rocky” Roque De La Fuente and Michael Steinberg

Rocky is an interesting character, and the Reform Party nominee. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Florida this year as a Democrat, and his policies–where I can find them–have a left-leaning tilt. Having said that, he does seem to be a moderate Democrat, but, like the other candidates, he has had some ethical problems. His policy pages are a series of “what if?” questions, which really don’t say what the answers are.

He doesn’t stand a chance of getting elected, but he’s more moderate than the other independents, as you will see below. As such, he might get my protest vote.

Gary Johnson and William F. Weld

Johnson is the Libertarian candidate. In general, I like Libertarians on spending issues and civil rights issues and dislike them on foreign policy, and things are no different here. Johnson is far too isolationist for my liking, wanting to detangle the U.S. from international commitments, except in the area of trade. In an era of increasing isolation and nationalism worldwide, disengaging from the world stage is a path to regional or even global conflicts. As I consider foreign policy to be the single most important job of the president, I have a hard time voting for Johnson.

Beyond that, my problem with Johnson is my general problem with Libertarianism: It is a philosophy of extremes. President Johnson would have a hard time working with either party in Congress, but his positions are far right in some areas and far left in others, so he wouldn’t be the man-in-the-middle helping to get things done. Johnson and Weld are Republicans running as Libertarians, and their policies don’t differ significantly from Trump and Pence. Having said that, if you’re a Republican looking for a better option than Trump and you can’t bear voting for Clinton, you could do much worse than Johnson.

Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart

Kennedy is a former coal miner who is the candidate for the Socialist Workers Party. Her campaign is a textbook anti-capitalist rant, including holding up the Cuban Revolution as a positive example.

Still, not as bad as Donald Trump.

Mike Smith and Daniel White

Mike Smith is, for lack of a better description, a Tea Party candidate. Unlike many of the Tea Party people I have met, Smith doesn’t seem to have any of the underlying racism, and he seems like, underneath it all, a good person. His positions mostly fit within the Republican platform. As such, I don’t agree with much of what he supports, because of his desire to change policy to integrate religion into public life through the expansion of school vouchers and allowing businesses to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

Still, not as bad as Donald Trump.

Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka

Stein is the Green Party candidate for President. In the past, I have supported some Green Party candidates, because they tend to be pro-science and pro-environment. Stein cherry picks which science she supports, and some of her stances result in anti-environmental positions, such as her opposition to nuclear power and GMOs. Stein is solidly isolationist in her foreign policy, which, as with Johnson, deeply worries me.

Stein wants to ban GMOs until they have been proven safe, but that’s not how science works–and a doctor should know that. GMOs have been extremely rigorously tested, and there is absolutely no evidence that they are any more harmful than their non-GMO counterparts. As far as they can be, GMOs have been “proven” safe. Stein is not against vaccinations, but she has pandered to anti-vaxxers by softening tweets where she has expressed support for vaccinations, saying things like

In the US, however, regulatory agencies are routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the US. So who wouldn’t be skeptical? I think dropping vaccinations rates that can and must be fixed in order to get at the vaccination issue: the widespread distrust of the medical-industrial complex.

Of the eighteen members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, two work for pharmaceutical companies, while eight come from academia, four are government researchers, with the remainder being private researchers or work for hospitals. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, she has weakened her support of vaccines to bring anti-vaxxers into her tent.

Still, not as bad as Donald Trump.


Right now, I’m still undecided. I will not vote for Trump, Kennedy, Smith, or Stein. I will only vote for Clinton if there’s a reasonable chance for her to win Tennessee and those electoral votes matter in the election. Of the two remaining candidates, I’m leaning toward Rocky, but I might swing over to Johnson.

House of Representatives, 3rd District


Yeah, I’m voting for myself.

Now, if I weren’t running, who would I vote for? Well, I can rule out Rick Tyler, obviously. If you held a gun to my head and made me vote for a Republican or Democrat, I would vote for Fleischmann over Shekari, because, while I agree with Shekari on more issues, Fleischmann has significant seniority on the House Appropriations Committee, and as he gains seniority, that brings money to the district. Yeah, sometimes power matters. But, frankly, it’s a choice between a party loyalist lawyer and a party loyalist lawyer. I really haven’t seen anything from either one of them that makes me think they are the least bit independent.

That leaves the other independent, Cassandra Mitchell. We had a good Skype call a few months ago, and I recently inaccurately portrayed her as a Green Party supporter. She is, but she’s not just that. She tends to lean socialist on a few issues, such as thinking price controls and rent controls are necessary, while we are in agreement on the need to raise the minimum wage. We agree on far more than we disagree on, such as access to real sex education and contraception and legalization of marijuana. She is more pro-government than I am, certainly. Most importantly to me, she’s a fellow gamer, a qualification for which I have a significant bias. Gamers, in my experience, tend to think more strategically than non-gamers and, because of the diversity of characters in games like Dungeons & Dragons, they tend to place a higher value on diversity of skills and backgrounds, which are good traits for a politician.

So, if I weren’t running, I’d probably vote for Cassandra Mitchell. But I’m also under no illusions: Fleischmann is going to be re-elected, barring a massive explosion in the Republican Party, and there’s very little Shekari, Mitchell, Tyler, or I can do about it.

If you’re thinking about voting for Tyler, do us all a favor and stay home on Election Day. Every Election Day.

Tennessee Senate District 10

Khristy Wilkinson (D) is challenging incumbent Todd Gardenhire (R). Wilkinson is a leftist Democrat and Gardenhire is a right-wing Republican. I tend to lean a bit left of center when compared to the majority here, so I agree with more of Wilkinson’s positions than Gardenhire’s, but that’s not why I will be voting for Wilkinson. Like I said before the August primary: Gardenhire isn’t terribly tolerant of those with opposing views, and I’m not a big fan of name callers.

I recommend that you join me and vote for Khristy Wilkinson as well.

Ordinance No. 13007 Amendment

This one seems to me to just be a paperwork clarification on city employees needing to live in Chattanooga. I can’t find any reason to oppose it.

Ordinance No. 13039 Amendment

This amendment eliminates a requirement for the city to hire a “management analyst.” Yeah, we can do without that, so voting for the amendment makes sense.



I hear people say all the time that if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain. Despite the fact that I vote in every election–barring a couple of minor elections where work crises kept me from the polling place on election day–I don’t agree with this. I know exactly how this election is going to turn out. Trump is going to win in Tennessee, Fleischmann and Gardenhire will be reelected, and both amendments will pass. None of these races will be close. I wish I was wrong, but I know I’m not. I’ve been doing this for a long time.

I wish that I could get everyone to do their research and vote. That’s not realistic. Most people are too busy living their lives to put sufficient time into educating themselves about the candidates and issues, so they trust their trusted news sources, which are always biased. (I’m biased, so believe what I say at your own risk.) As a result, I think many voters make bad, or, at least, ill-informed decisions.

Please do your research and vote. If you can’t, I won’t hold it against you, and I will never say that you don’t have the right to complain about the government if you don’t. Some people will say that if everyone has that attitude, we’ve lost before we started. Maybe they are right, but we can’t and shouldn’t force people to vote, especially if they don’t take that responsibility seriously.

I hope that you find this analysis helpful. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or if you think I got something wrong, please let me know.


Filed under Chattanooga, Tennessee 3rd District

Sorry for the Silence

Life has been a bit crazy for me, and, obviously, for the election as a whole. I had much more time during the summer, when I didn’t have quite so many school-related activities on my plate.

When I originally signed up for this campaign, my concern was that Chuck Fleischmann’s support for Trump would come back to haunt him. Despite the avalanche of negatives against Trump, this still doesn’t seem to have swayed 3rd District voters a huge amount: Trump is still leading in Tennessee by double-digits–although we will see what happens with the latest sexual assault claims. (So, Chuck, still supporting Trump?) Fleischmann’s only tweet today was to wish the Navy a happy birthday, so no change in position so far.

This week is my daughter’s fall break, and as is our tradition, we took a road trip to various National Park Service sites. On this trip we visited Fort Donelson near Nashville (site of Grant’s first major victory and a win that opened the South to Union troops), the Lewis and Clark Trail Center in Omaha, Herbert Hoover’s birthplace in West Branch, Iowa, Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Lincoln’s Home in Springfield, Illinois, and Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site near St. Louis. I like taking trips like this with Zari, as we both learn much about the history of the U.S., and, more importantly, we learn that almost no one is all good or all evil. Herbert Hoover was unquestionably a great humanitarian, but some of his policies helped lead to the Great Depression. George Pullman was an innovative businessman–whose practices toward his workers were often abusive. (As we were leaving Pullman, Zari told me that she couldn’t decide if George Pullman was a good man or a bad man. I said, “Good. That shows you’re thinking.”)

I was supposed to attend a League of Women Voters event in Oak Ridge next Tuesday, but since Melody Shekari and I were the only ones to RSVP, they cancelled the event. I understand, but I would have liked the opportunity to interact with Oak Ridge voters. (I’m looking for another opportunity: Stay tuned.)

Last Monday, I was interviewed by the editorial board of the Chattanooga Times Free Press so they could make an informed decision about who to endorse in the election. I don’t expect their endorsement, but I think I, at least, made a good impression. I enjoyed our discussion and hope that they saw that I wasn’t a normal candidate.

As a general practice, I don’t watch debates, preferring, instead, to read transcripts, because I don’t like being swayed by the performances. I broke my rule for the second Presidential debate, because, frankly, that election is over. As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight gives Hillary Clinton an 86.9% chance to win the election, and the trend is going the wrong way for Trump. I’m not a fan of either Clinton or Trump, but I liked Clinton’s answers better than Trump’s. I was watching with a few Twitter fact-checkers going on my phone, and, according to them Trump lied or twisted things much more often than Clinton did. I was left with my impression that, while I don’t like Clinton–an opinion she could change quickly by admitting that she has changed her positions on some issues–I think Trump is reckless and dangerous. His answers on Russia and Syria showed a naivete (sorry for the lack of accents–I’m on an unfamiliar tablet) of Carterian proportions. (Jimmy Carter may be the best human being we’ve ever had as President, and has done great things as an ex-President, but his foreign policy while in office was incredibly naive.) I thought the only good answer Trump gave all night was his last answer, where he talked about Hillary’s tenacity. On the other hand, I wasn’t thrilled with Clinton’s performance. Her continual smiles of disbelief at Trump’s statements were understandable, but seemed to diminish the gravity of what he was saying.

I am still undecided. There are seven candidates on the ballot, and I’m not enamored of any of them. The candidates are:

  1. Hillary Clinton – Democrat
  2. Donald Trump – Republican
  3. Gary Johnson – Libertarian
  4. Jill Stein – Green
  5. Alyson Kennedy – Socialist
  6. Rocky de la Fuente – Reform/American Delta Party
  7. Mike Smith – Independent (Conservative)

I won’t vote for Trump (dangerous), Johnson (Libertarian isolationism is also dangerous), Stein (her anti-nuclear, anti-GMO, and pandering to anti-vaxxers–note that I didn’t say that she was an anti-vaxxer, seem to indicate that she’s too anti-science for me), Kennedy (I’m pretty free-market), or Smith (too far right for me). This leaves me with Clinton and de la Fuente. Rocky’s position pages seem to be an endless series of “What if?” questions without any actual answers–but in this case, not knowing may actually be helping him. I agree with Clinton on more than I disagree, but I have a laundry list of problems with her–the aforementioned reluctance to admit a change in a position, her extreme pro-choice stance on abortion (completely legal until birth), and I wasn’t terribly impressed with her term as Secretary of State.

I don’t see myself voting early, if for no other reason than I need to know if my vote matters. Right now, it doesn’t. If Trump is still polling with a double-digit lead here, then I may vote for Rocky as an anti-two-party system vote. If the race somehow becomes close here but looks like a landslide nationwide, I may still vote third-party. But if the race nationwide is close, I may hold my nose and vote for Clinton. I only see about a two percent chance of that happening, but I believe that Donald Trump really is that dangerous.

As usual, I welcome your comments and questions. Have a great day!


Filed under Stuff About Me, Tennessee 3rd District

Back to Work…

I have had a very busy couple of weeks, with having a sick kid, taking same kid back and forth to Louisville, and catching a bit of her bug myself. I did vote on Thursday, but, as is normal, I did not vote for candidates who actually won.

I did learn that 70.35% of the primary voters in the 3rd District voted for Republican candidates, and that the Democratic nominee, Melody Shekari, ended up with under 2% of the potential voters in the district (8,651 votes of an estimated 541,000 residents over 18–I dropped foreign-born people from the Census number, figuring that while many of them became U.S. citizens and were registered to vote, we probably lose a roughly equal number of felons). The level of voter apathy is disheartening, to be certain.

So now we are down to five candidates in the 3rd District:

  1. Chuck Fleischmann – Republican Incumbent
  2. Melody Shekari – Democrat
  3. Rick Tyler – Independent “Make America White Again”
  4. Cassandra Mitchell – Independent (Green Party/Jill Stein supporter)
  5. Me

If we were to create a continuum from right to left views, we get something like this:


Obviously, this is my opinion, based on their positions on their websites. Fleischmann votes with the GOP almost all of the time and the GOP is trending right. Shekari is a Clinton Democrat, not a Sanders Democrat, so she’s more moderate. I had a long Skype conversation with Cassandra Mitchell, so I feel pretty confident in that analysis. Tyler had a very positive reaction from the Roane County Tea Party, so I feel that he is to the right of Fleischmann. I put myself in the middle because I’m all over the spectrum, depending on the issue. On most social issues, I’m pretty liberal, but on many fiscal issues I am pretty conservative. And I didn’t give myself a logo because I’m not part of any group. I have had a few groups try to get me to join them, but I think I would better serve as a true independent.

I have had a few people on Twitter ask for my support on various bills, and how I handled those should be an indication of how I would handle things if elected:

  • Read – Read the proposed legislation and related documents
  • Listen – Listen to people on all sides of the issue
  • Think – Does this bill adequately address the problem without creating more problems? How much does this bill cost? Does this bill benefit one class of people at the expense of another?
  • Vote

Currently, because of the abysmally low voter turnout, the tone coming from both sides in the presidential race, and the general level of fear in society overall, I am not in the most optimistic mood regarding the future of our country and the world. The problem, of course, is that I am having a hard time balancing the concerns I hear from people with the actual facts, which suggest that we are on the verge of an incredible future.

There are two interesting trends that most people don’t get. I remember growing up and seeing the world population graphs that suggested we were having a population explosion–and we were. But now the story is quite different. The rate of world population growth has been declining since 1970. There are varying estimates of the continuing rate of decline, but if we have a constant rate of decrease based on what has happened the past thirty years, the population will stop increasing around 2065. There are good and bad reasons for the decrease in birth rate: Improved education for women–women have fewer children if they know what causes pregnancy, improved accessibility to birth control, and population management methods (most notably the draconian measures taken in China).

While this is happening we are seeing a simultaneous dramatic growth in the Gross World Product. Since 1950 the GWP has grown by a factor of eight, while the world population has grown by a factor of three. Here’s what things look like from 2010 to 2100:


Right now the per capita GWP is around $10,500 per year. So if we went pure communist and divided the world’s production evenly, each person would have $10,500 on which to live. This is just below the U.S. federal poverty line for individuals ($11,800), but above the line for couples ($16,020 vs. $21,000) and families. Of course, if we went pure communist we would also kill the GWP growth rate.

Where things get interesting is around 2060, where if we tax at 30%–which is about what the average person pays now in combined income, sales, and property taxes–we end up with enough money to put everyone above the poverty line. By 2100, the amount is enough to provide almost $40,000 in benefits to everyone. The bottom line is pretty simple:

For the first time in human history, resource scarcity won’t be important.

As such, we really need to think about public policy differently. I think we need to focus on three areas:

  1. We need to act so that we do not screw up the world population trend. Keep increasing educational opportunities for women in poorer countries and make sure that birth control is accessible and affordable.
  2. We need to make sure we don’t screw up the world economy. We need to continue to promote trade–which includes trading labor via immigration–and avoid isolationism. We need government investment in basic scientific research so that private industry can apply that research to new products. We need government investment in infrastructure to encourage commerce.
  3. We need to make sure we don’t screw up the planet in the next hundred years while we wait for technology to catch up with human needs.

If we stay the course, we are going to end up with a pretty incredible world. If we are smart about our course corrections, we can make this happen decades earlier. If we are stupid and greedy–if people interpret “Make America Great Again” as “Make America Great and Screw Everyone Else”–we can make the trendlines we saw in the 1950s and 1960s true again.

As such, I will work to steer policy in that direction. I will look to steer foreign aid toward projects that educate women. I will vote for legislation that increases funding for basic scientific research–as the return on investment tends to be at or near break even for the government anyway, and I will vote for intelligent infrastructure investment. I will vote for good environmental legislation: legislation that protects the environment while improving reporting and record-keeping requirements to lessen the burden on businesses. None of this is a zero-sum game: We can help people, business, and the environment at the same time. If we steer a smart course, we will all end up winners.

I will get back to my review of the GOP platform tomorrow. Thanks for reading–and feel free to tell me how horrible my new website header graphic is.


Filed under Environment, Stuff About Me, Technology, Tennessee 3rd District

Tea Parties and Muslims

Last night I went to a candidate forum hosted by the Roane County Tea Party. Also attending were Allan Levene, Michael Friedman, George Ryan Love, and Rick Tyler.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the audience seemed to relate best to Tyler’s message.

I did spar with Tyler a bit–his comeback when I brought up the Jefferson Bible and told him to look it up was “You look it up!”–and had some good discussions with the audience, particularly on gun control. I’m not so naïve as to think that any minds were changed. I’m not even sure anything I said actually caused anyone to actually think.

One audience member asked the candidates how many enumerated powers were in the Constitution. None of us knew, but neither did the questioner. She claimed the answer was eighteen, which is, in fact, the number of enumerated powers listed in Article I, Section 8. However, amendments have given Congress additional enumerated powers, such as

  • The power to free slaves (Amendment XIII)
  • The power to make sure all citizens have due process under the law (Amendment XIV)
  • The power to enforce the validity of the public debt (Amendment XIV)
  • The power to enforce the right to vote on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Amendment XV)
  • The power to collect income taxes (Amendment XVI)
  • The power to enforce the right of women to vote (Amendment XIX)
  • The power to ban poll taxes (Amendment XXIV)
  • The power to enforce the right to vote on the basis of being eighteen years of age (Amendment XXVI)

So that brings us to at least twenty-six, although I’m quite certain many Tea Party members would be fine with dumping a few of those created by amendments.

The biggest applause for the night came when one audience member suggested that all Muslims should be deported–going even beyond Trump’s desire to keep Muslims from entering the U.S. This is problematic on so many different levels. First, in deference to Mr. Tyler, I’ll go back to “What Would The Founding Fathers Do?” That’s pretty simple: The first country to recognize the United States, in 1777, was Morocco, a Muslim nation. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, signed in 1876, is the longest unbroken treaty in the U.S., and it was signed by Thomas Barclay, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and King Mohammed III. Muslims are, quite literally, the oldest friends of the United States.

Letter from George Washington to Mohammed III: "Great and magnanimous friend"

Letter from George Washington to Mohammed III: “Great and magnanimous friend”

Second, the human brain has a desire to simplify things. People want to believe that the Muslim world is a monolith standing against Christianity and Western civilization, but that is just not so. First, just as Christianity is fragmented into Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, and many others, Islam is split into Shi’a, Sunni, Sufi, Khawarij, Baha’i, and others. Much of the conflict with ISIS is between Salafism (a Sunni sect) and almost all other sects of Islam. The vast majority of ground troops fighting ISIS are Muslim, whether Sunni Kurds, the Free Syrian Army, and the Iraqi Ground Forces. Almost everyone leaving Syria is running because of ISIS: they are Muslims who hate ISIS more than any American.

Finally, many Americans fear Sharia. Well, guess what: So do many Muslims. One does not have to support Sharia to be a Muslim. It is not one of the Five Pillars of Islam. But even in most countries with Sharia, it is usually only applied to family law: things like marriage, divorce, and inheritance. It is only in a few countries, like Saudi Arabia, where it is also applied to the criminal justice system. Frankly, given the severity of criminal punishments under Sharia, I am surprised more Tea Party members haven’t embraced it.

Listen – especially to those who disagree with you. (I met with a Tea Party, knowing they would disagree with me on many issues.)

Read – especially from sources that challenge your ideals. (I read the blogs and websites of all of my opponents.)

Think – for yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what you should believe (Even me!). No one represents you unless you choose them to represent you.

Then Vote.

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Filed under Listening, Religion, Tea Party, Tennessee 3rd District

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I really wish I could have thrown a For A Few Dollars More post into the mix before skipping to the third film in the trilogy, but yesterday’s events screamed for this title. So…

The Good


Last night I attended a candidate forum hosted by the United Community Action Alliance. The UCAA is an organization devoted to helping inner city Chattanooga people and businesses get the resources they need to succeed, both in grants and in government assistance. They are a recent creation–only about a year old–but they are off to a good start. Last night was their first candidate forum.

There were a dozen candidates at the forum, running for five different races: House of Representatives, State Senate District 10 and 28, School Board District 4, and Hamilton County Assessor of Property. School Board is a non-partisan race, but all of the other candidates present were Democrats. As such, there wasn’t a huge amount of disagreement last night. I was a definite outsider, but that’s the role I want to be in.

During the question and answer section, one audience member asked the Congressional candidates if the losers in the primary would support the winner in the general election. All of my opponents said yes, but I waited a moment and said “No…obviously,” which got a few chuckles. I do think that Michael Friedman, Ryan Love, or Melody Shekari would all be a significant improvement over Chuck Fleischmann, since Fleischmann has done very little in his time in the House.

I do think that it was cowardly and irresponsible of all of the Republican candidates not to attend. (Note: I believe the forum organizers only invited Chattanooga-based candidates, so I would not expect Geoff Smith, Allan Levene, Cassandra Mitchell, or Rick Tyler to attend.) If you are going to represent everyone in your constituency, you need to listen to everyone in your constituency. Ignoring those who oppose you on some issues means that you miss opportunities to find common ground elsewhere. It increases divisiveness.

I was reminded, during the school board introductions, that people who send their children to schools the state considers to be failing schools don’t consider them to be failing schools themselves. In a very important sense, they are correct.

State testing is deeply flawed in that it cannot measure how effective schools and teachers are. By only conducting end-of-course exams all you get is one data point. To know whether a teacher is effective, you need to test what the students know at the start of the year, test again at the end of the year, and compare the difference. Currently, a student scoring 65% is judged as a failure, while a student scoring 85% is passing, but if you know the first student started at 20% and the second at 83% you would know that the first student’s teacher is likely much more effective. Howard and Tyner may be great high schools with great teachers, but we don’t have any data to support or refute that.

What I learned last night is that we have a bunch of people running for office who want what is best for their constituents, and I think Chattanooga would be well-served by electing any of them. I’ll do more in-depth analyses of each race before primary early voting starts next month.

The Bad


I stayed up far too late last night listening to BBC Radio 5’s coverage of the Brexit vote. I won’t go into too great of detail here–I think the voters got it wrong–because I want to focus on what this means for US politics.

The Leave campaign used people’s frustration with their personal economic situations to convince them that leaving the EU would bring back jobs that had left for Eastern Europe. What I think may have pushed them over the top was a fear of immigration and immigrants and, perhaps, some racism. Until the results started coming in, most people thought the Remain campaign would win a narrow victory.

It’s easy to see why many pundits have compared the Leave campaign to the Trump campaign, and it provides us with a cautionary tale: If you look at current Electoral College projections, Clinton has a significant lead…

Sabato's Crystal Ball, June 23rd, 2016, University of Virginia Center for Politics

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, June 23rd, 2016, University of Virginia Center for Politics

…but I have been predicting for a while that Trump will make a sharp left turn after the convention. If he can peel off enough of the Leans Democrat states, he can win.

Don’t think that Trump can’t win, and, unfortunately, don’t think that appealing to reason will work. Fear is what is driving people toward Trump, so if you want to fight Trump, fight fear.

The Ugly


Rick Tyler posted a message last night. As his website is currently unstable, I have posted the message in its entirety. I will insert my comments where appropriate.


by Ezra Tyler

Let me begin by thanking everyone that has gotten involved in the controversy spawned by the “Make America White Again” billboard on Highway 411 in Polk County.  I am persuaded that the overwhelming majority of you are sincere and well intentioned.   Obviously, there are the “frothing at the mouth lunatics” who react in a completely irrational, emotional, Pavlovian dog fashion.  Fortunately, they are a small percentage of the whole—and even they are passionately sincere albeit ignorant, misguided and lacking in self control.

Nice of him to start with the name-calling.


Be assured, the response that has been engendered by the billboard is precisely what was expected and hoped for.  You see… this is not a mere publicity stunt, but rather a calculated maneuver to dispense hardcore truth while simultaneously doing an end run around the iron curtain of censorship.  As Orwell stated, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”    Unfortunately, a globalist cartel has long held power in our nation, and in effect, there has already been a soft revolution wherein lawful constitutional government has been supplanted by a rogue band of oligarchic criminals.  Those who seek to set things aright are actually counter-revolutionaries, endeavoring to facilitate the restoration of lawful, constitutional government.

“(I)ron curtain of censorship”? Really?

I think I may need to create a conspiracy theory buzzword bingo board for Mr. Tyler’s posts. I will freely admit to being a globalist, but I’m not a member of any group, much less a cartel. I believe that isolationism was a significant contributing factor to both the Great Depression and World War II, and global cooperation has kept us from having another world war. I do grudgingly agree with Mr. Tyler that Citizens United has led to an oligarchy having too much political power.

Whether you realize it or not, you are all participating in this counter-revolutionary exercise irrespective of where you stand on the matter!
Indeed, the brainwashing may well be too far advanced, and there may be no chance of restoration, rejuvenation, and revival in our once great nation.   Like the watchman spoken of in Ezekiel 33, some of us must sound the warning of the advancing and ominous peril that is encroaching upon our civilization as a whole.  Like Nineveh, there could be great repentance and revival in America.  If not, we will succumb to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I knew he would get to his Biblical fear mongering sooner than later. OK, Mr. Tyler, put the Old Testament down. Try rereading the New Testament. Start with Matthew 6:5-6.

For those who are posturing in a high and mighty stance of ostensible moral superiority, I would caution you against falling into the trap of modernism and the liberal watering down of truth.  Your fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers would have been entirely sympathetic and supportive of the preservation of a white super majority in America.

No, your fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers would have been entirely sympathetic. Many of my ancestors were actually decent human beings.

They would have been utterly hostile to the concept of the mass nonwhite immigration that has ensued over the past half century.  They would have never acquiesced to the schemes of forced racial integration foisted upon the states by a usurpatious federal government.  By capitulating on these and other related issues, you are dishonoring your fathers and mothers of old in a flagrant and treacherous violation of the 4th Commandment.  In the fulness of time, God will surely hold you accountable for this violation of his sacred law.  As Isaiah 5:20 states, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Fortunately for us, the Bible is not the law of the land. But even if it was, the prescribed ways to honor parents after death are to pray, study the Torah, and donate to charity in their names. Ancestor worship via clinging to outdated and immoral societal prejudice is not included in that.


The charge of “racism” is the most flagrant and abusive canard of our time.  Absurdly, those who bandie about the charge never bother to define its meaning.  Is a racist one who harbors antipathy toward someone simply based on their ethnicity?  If so only a foolish person would fit such a description.  If, on the other hand, we are talking about someone who demonstrates greater affinity for his own racial family  (your race is the extension of your biological family) then the charge would be truly preposterous.  Ethnocentricity is completely healthy and normal and all races, except the white race, are encouraged to engage in and express it.  The glaring double standard is all too obvious.

No, ethnocentricity is not healthy. It may be normal, unfortunately, but that doesn’t make it right. All races are not encouraged to engage in and express ethnocentricity, but people are encouraged to have pride in themselves and to not feel inferior to others because of their ethnicity. There’s a big difference between embracing the traditions of your ancestors and declaring yourself to be superior to others because of them.


The “Make America White Again” billboard is a takeoff on Donald Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again.”  In a nutshell, it is stating that the “Leave It to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Mayberry” America of old was vastly superior to what we are experiencing today.  It was an America where doors were left unlocked, violent crime was a mere fraction of today’s rate of occurrence, there were no car jackings, home invasions, Islamic Mosques or radical Jihadist sleeper cells.
Additionally, government was much smaller, responsible, and accountable to the people.  Yes, that Norman Rockwell America was immensely preferable to the rapidly deteriorating culture now engulfing us.  Only the ignorant and misguided would resist its restoration and resuscitation.  As set forth on the Tyler for Congress website, ( a moratorium on nonwhite immigration and the abolition of policies that subsidize nonwhite birth rates would be two constructive actions toward beginning the long journey back toward sanity and stability in our beleaguered and foundering nation.

Violent crime was not a mere fraction of today’s rate of occurrence. First, FBI statistics are much more thorough than they were in 1960 (the earliest year for which data is available), because all local law enforcement agencies didn’t report crimes to the FBI. Even considering that, violent crime in the US is at its lowest level since 1970, and property crime is at its lowest level since 1967–and both are on a sharply downward trend. (Source)


It is no coincidence that every nation being inundated by the teeming multitudes of the third world is a white nation.

Um, no. In the case of Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have all accepted at least twice as many refugees as the first “white” nation on the list (Germany). Most refugees prefer to stay closer to home rather than traveling to Europe or the US, as they would like to return home when the conflict ends.

It is indisputable that the white race has achieved infinitely more in the way of technology, culture and innovation than the nonwhite civilizations of history.

I’ll dispute it. Algebra was invented by Al-Khwarizmi and algebraic geometry by Omar Khayyam. The printing press was invented in China during the Song Dynasty long before Gutenberg got around to it in Europe. The printing press would be worthless without paper, also invented in China. Gunpowder was also invented in China. I would argue that much technological development was disrupted by colonization imposing white culture on advanced societies. Today, most inventions are created by diverse teams–and, in the past, white “leaders” often stole ideas from minorities and took the credit.

As far as white culture being superior to non-white culture, no. I like fish and chips as much as anyone, but I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t eat tamales, sushi, and goat saag. I like classical music, but I enjoy jazz, reggae, and rock. I appreciate Van Gogh and Leonardo, but I also like Hokusai and Diego Rivera. It’s the diversity of cultures that makes life interesting. Many of the best parts of “white” culture are the things it appropriated and adapted from other cultures.

The racial component of this phenomenon is all-important.  In a blind, suicidal manner modern man overlooks this profound truth while plunging headlong toward destruction.

Diversity is critical for survival. On a genetic level, inbreeding often leads to devastating illness. When creating or innovating, a diverse team will create better ideas due to the larger pool of starting concepts. The only time diversity is bad is when you want to make sure everyone agrees with you–which is often a pathway to destruction.


The Caucasian race has been inordinately blessed and favored by the God of scripture.  It was among this people that the new covenant gospel of Jesus Christ took root, blossomed, and flourished.  Western Christian civilization evolved in the ensuing centuries leading to the eventual rise of our beloved America of yesteryear.  As time progressed however, our nation and people lost their way.   America forsook the God of her fathers and turned to the false gods of the heathen world.  Now we are a people under divine judgment with a very grim future staring us in the face.

The Tyler for Congress candidacy is a last ditch effort to challenge the descendents of America’s founders to “return to the ancient landmarks.”  Scattered throughout the land are the proverbial seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.  (I Kings 19:18)  The remnant of God may not be large enough to facilitate restoration of that which has been lost…  but we will proceed to carry the torch in the hope of miraculous and divine intervention.

The incumbent lawyer and representative of the 3rd Congressional District voted for the 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill in December; which among many nefarious expenditures allocated funding for the importation of 100,000 Syrian refugees,  a large number of which are straight off of the Jihadist battlefield.  A full-blown Muslim invasion is underway while a criminal, runaway federal government gobbles up what remains of liberty at breathtaking speed.

Yes, the Syrians are often “straight off of the Jihadist battlefield”–because they are running for their lives from an ISIS that they fear and loathe.


Amazingly, while being oblivious to the aforementioned circumstances plaguing our nation, a substantial number of low information citizens are easily whipped into a frenzy by the mythological enemy of “racism.”  Sadly, it never occurs to the reactionary mob that they in fact, are guilty of the grievous sin of rejection of truth.  Yet, just as Jesus was able to miraculously give sight to the blind, God is still in the business of peeling the scales off of men’s eyes.  Yes, he gives grace to the humble but resisteth the proud.  (James 4:6.)

Concerning the hostility emanating from various directions I would say the following:

We believe in Libertarian principles of free speech and freedom of association.  All are free to go where they desire as well as refrain from going where they do not want to be.  Of course, these same individuals will continue to patronize all manner of franchises and national chains that truly are the embodiment of corruption and exploitation.  Yet another example of hypocrisy and double-standards.

Will the Rick Tyler for Congress campaign gain traction and become a force to be reckoned with? Only time will tell.   When all is said and done however, the truth will prevail.   Of that we can be assured.

Tyler’s truth simply isn’t true. He sees the world he wants to see and wants people to accept his fears as realities. He is afraid that his shenanigans will lead people to stop patronizing his restaurant and destroy his family’s way of life. He complains that “franchises and national chains…are the embodiment of corruption and exploitation” but I cannot imagine him calling for an increase in the minimum wage or other legislation to help end this.

Rick Tyler’s campaign will not gain traction. I was pleased to see all of my opponents last night express their revulsion for his billboard and his beliefs. I have reached out to the Republicans and Cassandra Mitchell for comments.

Now I need to go wash my hands.

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Filed under Chattanooga, Democrats, Tennessee 3rd District

Two Upcoming Events…and some random thoughts

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, between work and taking a family trip to Las Vegas, including a long delayed side trip to visit Death Valley National Park.

Enjoying 110°F heat at 10 am. (Photo by Zari Kersting)

Enjoying 110°F heat at 10 am. (Photo by Zari Kersting)

In the meantime, I have been invited to two candidate fora. (Yes, I know most people prefer “forums” for the plural of “forum,” but I’m not normal.)

  • The United Community Action Alliance is having a Meet The Candidates event at Kingdom Hall (740 E M L King Blvd, Chattanooga) on June 23 at 6 p.m. The UCAA is a community organization involved in trying to get their community more involved in politics. My limited research indicates that the leadership leans left, which I hope I will find refreshing after mostly speaking with conservatives.
  • The Roane County Tea Party is having a Congressional candidate forum at the Kingston Community Center Banquet Hall (201 Patton Ferry Rd, Kingston) on July 21 at 7 p.m. This should prove interesting, because my last Tea Party meeting was. Geoffery Smith will have the home field advantage here, but I won’t go into this not knowing what to expect.

Now that the primaries have determined that the major party candidates are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I feel that this South Park episode is even more relevant today than it was twelve years ago. I can understand why many Sanders supporters have posted this meme:


Unfortunately, because of the Electoral College, I am reasonably confident that my vote won’t matter, as Trump has a significant lead over Clinton in Tennessee. Votes in most states are insignificant because the states are so far to the right or left. Only thirteen states are truly toss-up states that will determine the election.


In specific election news:

  • Chuck Fleischmann’s campaign signs started popping up Memorial Day weekend. Other than that, he hasn’t done much. Color me surprised.
  • Allan Levene’s website is up. His listed address is a UPS Store in Signal Mountain, as he doesn’t actually live here. He’s originally from England, having moved here when he turned 21. He is a Trump supporter. He recently sent letters with pacifiers to every member of Congress, in an attempt to get them to stop acting like babies. The link to what he will do about China overtaking the U.S. is a broken link–possibly problematic for a guy in the IT business.
  • Geoff Smith’s signs have also started popping up around Chattanooga.
  • Michael Friedman announced part of his economic plan to expand high-speed internet and transportation infrastructure to rural areas. This directly addressed concerns brought up in the candidate meeting in Polk County. He does portray this as a Republican vs. Democrat issue, but there are Republicans on both sides of the issue, at least where the EPB broadband expansion was concerned.
  • George Ryan Love posted a link to the Sanders campaign on his Facebook page. I wonder if/when he will start supporting the Clinton campaign….
  • Melody Shekari has done a major update on her website. We finally can see where she stands on the issues–barely. Her issues page is still pretty threadbare and vague. Besides knowing that she wants to raise the minimum wage and maintain Obamacare, there’s not much substance. My gut feeling is that she’s the candidate of the party machine here, so her platform is fundamentally “I’m a Democrat: Vote for me!” I did see her in the stands at a recent Chattanooga FC match, but it seemed like she was far more interested in socializing and her phone than in the match itself.
  • I did locate independent Cassandra Mitchell’s Facebook page. She likes Jill Stein and Isa Infante, meaning that she’s probably more Green Party than independent. I do like that she’s a fellow gamer, listing Dungeons & Dragons as one of her favorite activities. Most of the stuff on her page is from her 2014 run, which puts her firmly left-of-center politically.
  • Rick Tyler has gone all-in with his white supremacy. He stood behind me at the Polk County gathering, but I’m pretty sure he said the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ll have to ask him about that whole “indivisible” part next time I see him.

Hors d’oeuvres

  • Meg Whitman, current HP CEO, former eBay CEO, former Republican gubernatorial candidate, and bully, compared Trump to Mussolini and Hitler and is likely voting for Clinton. From personal experience, her time at eBay was one of tremendous growth despite regularly finding new and creative ways to abuse small business sellers. Her endorsing Clinton almost makes me question my disgust with Trump. Almost.
  • I’ve seen variations on a meme saying Trump wasn’t called racist until he entered politics. Two minutes of research proved that incorrect, with examples going back to anti-Japanese rants in the 1980s. He continues to demonstrate a severe disrespect for anyone not purely European, as shown by his comments regarding the judge in the Trump University case and calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”
  • Early iterations of Trump’s website use the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again,” which was originally used by Ronald Reagan for the 1980 election. I’m guessing he dropped the “Let’s” so he could trademark it and make money.
  • The Stanford rapist, his family, and the judge in the case are loathsome. If someone is incapacitated, regardless of whether or not it is self-inflicted, you help them. If someone didn’t show any interest in you before they got drunk, don’t take advantage of them when they are. No means no, and nothing at all doesn’t mean maybe.
  • I would prefer that all bathroom stalls be designed for maximum privacy, but the bottom line is you shouldn’t peek at anyone else’s parts in a public restroom. Go into the stall, do your business, wash your hands, and leave. Touching anyone against their wishes is a crime, whether or not they are the same gender or you and regardless of where it happens.
  • As an independent, I find the heavy-handed pressure exerted by both parties to get their members to endorse their nominees disgusting. I saw an interview of John Kasich on Fox News this week where he pointed out that he disagreed with Trump on almost everything, so he didn’t have any reason to support him. Likewise, Sanders is undergoing a tremendous amount of pressure to drop out and support Clinton, when he’s clearly said for quite some time that his objective is to help mold the party platform. Once he concedes he becomes far less relevant. If you want people to support you, give them a reason.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. As always, if you want to ask me about anything, drop me a line.

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Filed under Events, Tea Party, Tennessee 3rd District