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 [ Text Menu: Today's Stack of Stuff | Audio | About Ralph | Contact Ralph | Ralph Rant! ]July 29, 2014 
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$17 billion VA reform deal reached
  House and Senate negotiators on Monday announced their agreement on a $17 billion bill to reform the Veterans Affairs Department, including $10 billion for veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities. Another $5 billion would go toward hiring additional medical staff at Veterans Affairs facilities, and let the department enter into leases to use other medical facilities at 27 sites around the country. The $17 billion bill is about half the cost of the initial Senate bill, which the Congressional Budget Office said could add $35 billion to the deficit. But most of the bill’s costs also are not offset with other spending cuts, something Republicans in the House had been looking for. The deal says that $12 billion would be emergency mandatory spending. The other $5 billion would be offset by other spending cuts within the Veterans Affairs Department.

The Hill: $17B deal reached on vets bill
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GOP grapples with border bill
  In an attempt to win conservative votes, House Republican leaders are shrinking their border crisis bill to a stop-gap solution for the remainder of this fiscal year ending Sept. 30—not the rest of calendar 2014. It would reportedly spend less than $1 billion, but it would not include any change in policy. Given the political impasse over proposed changes in immigration policy, it’s not clear that either the House or Senate can pass a bill before the August recess begins. If lawmakers opt for the short-term House solution, it elevates the importance of the continuing resolution debate that will face Congress as quickly as it returns after Labor Day. President Obama on Monday begrudgingly endorsed the Senate version of the border bill, which spends $2.7 billion on the crisis, $1 billion less than that the President wanted. It includes no change in policy – either the 2008 law providing protection for minors trafficked from non-contiguous countries – or the 2012 Obama Executive Order providing deportation relief for most young illegal aliens in the U.S. Time Magazine reported Friday that Obama not only has no plans to rescind the executive order, he promised advocates in a June 30 meeting that he intends to expand it to protect several million more, starting with the parents of the first group. Sen. Jeff Session urged Congress to vote against any bill that does not specifically prohibit the administration from taking such action.

politico.com: GOP cuts cost — and timeline — on border bill
 
GOP: Border patrol handcuffed by Interior Dept.
  Republicans in Congress say federal land protections are hampering efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across the border. The Interior Department controls about 800 miles along the dividing line with Mexico, or about 40 percent of the total, with other land in the region owned by the Forest Service. GOP lawmakers argue federal regulations intended to protect land and wildlife have become an obstacle for Customs and Borders Protection officers because they restrict their ability to drive near the border, build infrastructure or install surveillance technology. A House Republican working group this week recommended prohibiting the Interior and Forest Service from in any way hampering border patrol. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), complained in a hearing that officers sometimes cannot build roads or even trails on federal land. Democrats aren’t buying the GOP’s argument. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said conservation issues should not “fall victim” to the current crisis.

The Hill: GOP: Border patrol agents handcuffed by wildlife rules
 
$17 billion VA reform deal reached
  House and Senate negotiators on Monday announced their agreement on a $17 billion bill to reform the Veterans Affairs Department, including $10 billion for veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities. Another $5 billion would go toward hiring additional medical staff at Veterans Affairs facilities, and let the department enter into leases to use other medical facilities at 27 sites around the country. The $17 billion bill is about half the cost of the initial Senate bill, which the Congressional Budget Office said could add $35 billion to the deficit. But most of the bill’s costs also are not offset with other spending cuts, something Republicans in the House had been looking for. The deal says that $12 billion would be emergency mandatory spending. The other $5 billion would be offset by other spending cuts within the Veterans Affairs Department.

The Hill: $17B deal reached on vets bill
 
Isreal warns of 'prolonged' campaign against Hamas
  Israel's prime minister warned Monday of a prolonged campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with the military urging residents in parts of the embattled territory to evacuate ahead of a broadening of the three-week war. "What is coming will be worse," the Israeli military said in phone messages targeting Gaza militants. With attacks mounting from both sides Monday, and Israel and Hamas far apart on terms for a truce, a cease-fire appeared elusive, at best. Israel said it sent text messages and phoned residents of northern Gaza— urging them to flee their homes and move toward Gaza City.

myway.com: Israeli PM warns of prolonged campaign in Gaza war
 
Tank shell takes out fuel tank at lone Gaza power plant
  Israeli tank shells hit a fuel tank of the Gaza Strip's only power plant on Tuesday, forcing the plant to shut down. According to the spokesman of the electricity distribution company, the shells hit one of three tanks in the plant compound that currently store fuel. Even before the strike, Gaza residents had electricity for only about three hours a day. The strike is bound to reduce supplies even further. Israeli aircraft and tanks also struck symbols of Hamas control in Gaza overnight and into Tuesday, their heaviest bombardment of the densely populated coastal territory since the war between Israel and the Islamic militants began more than three weeks ago. The pounding came just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a televised speech of a "prolonged" campaign in Gaza.

myway.com: 2 tank shells hit fuel tank at Gaza power plant
 
Social Security Disability fund drying up fast
  The trustees of Medicare and Social Security reported Monday that the Social Security disability fund will be able to pay only 81% of benefits starting in late 2016 unless Congress intervenes. Roughly 11 million Americans collected a total of $140 billion in Social Security disability benefits last year, up from 7.9 million people collecting $78.2 billion in 2004. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Monday for the first time endorsed a policy change that would allocate more payroll-tax revenue to disability benefits, diverting money from Social Security's main program, which gives monthly benefits to retirees. If Congress makes the change, the combined funds would exhaust their reserves by 2033. Without the change, Social Security retiree reserves would last a year longer, and run out in 2034. The Medicare trust fund is in slightly better shape than a year ago, and will be able to continue paying full hospital benefits for its elderly or disabled clients without any changes in the law through 2030—four years later than last year's estimate.

Wall Street Journal: Medicare, Social Security Disability Fund Headed in Different Directions
 
Judge allows $2 billion Clippers sale
  Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. In allowing the deal to go forward, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided Monday with Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, who negotiated the record sale after the NBA banned the 80-year-old billionaire for allegedly making offensive remarks about blacks. Shelly Sterling sought the probate judge's approval to ink the deal after taking over the family trust that owns the team because doctors found Donald Sterling had signs of Alzheimer's disease and couldn't manage his affairs. [So now we know that not only did his girlfriend deliberately provoke him into saying something allegedly offensive (and you’ll remember from the tape that he repeatedly sounded confused about why she was asking and saying some of the things she was saying) now we know she did that to an old man with Alzheimer’s. And every NBA official, most of the media and now a judge have condemned him without a trial to banishment from the NBA and a forced sale that will cost him hundreds of millions in taxes - on top of the personal humiliation and deprivation of the enjoyment of his now former property. This is one of the most scandalous things that has ever happened in sports – and shame on almost everyone in America for tolerating – or encouraging it.]

myway.com: Judge OKs record-setting $2B sale of Clippers
 
Just a poor ($65 million a year) Country boy
  Calling country musicians “America’s new rock stars—commercially, at the very least,” Forbes has just released its annual list of the top-selling acts in the genre. Toby Keith tops the list for the second consecutive year, earning $65 million in the latest tracking period, according to Forbes’ calculations, and a whopping $335 million over the past six from his various business interests. Just slightly behind Toby in second place is Taylor Swift, who earned $64 million not just from her music-related businesses, but also from endorsement deals with Diet Coke, Keds and CoverGirl. Kenny Chesney took third place with $44 million, despite playing only 29 shows in Forbes’ scoring period. Jason Aldean is fourth with $37 million.

Newschannel 5: Toby Keith remains country music’s highest earning star, according to Forbes
 
Lamar dodges amnesty question
  July 28, 2014 - The audio version of a Ralph Rant by the same name.
Rafael Cruz to rally Nashville Tea party crows
  July 16, 2014 - Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, prepares for his starring role in the Nashville Tea Party "We the people" rally.
Laura Ingraham to stump for Carr in Nashville
  July 16, 2014 - National talk show host Laura Ingraham discusses why she's coming to Nashville next week to stump for Joe Carr in his race against Lamar Alexander.
Carr defends Haslam against 'lying' charge
  April 4, 2014 - Rep. Joe Carr to VW. If you have proof Haslam has gone "all Sopranos' on you, have the courage to come forth yourself.
'Minimum'is not 'living'
  March 27, 2014 - This is for those who believe they are "stuck" in a minimum wage job, and think a higher minimum wage is the solution.
What is a free market?
  March 17, 2014 - Everyone talks about the free market, but exactly what is it?
Organized business v. Common Core Opponents
  March 17, 2014 - Here's my analysis of the campaign by organized business to protect Common Core.
Rep. Mathew Hill updates fight to repeal Common Core
  March 14, 2014 - Rep. Mathew Hill (R-Jonesborough)discusses the floor fight in the Tennessee House over Common Core, and where the fight goes next.
Looney defends Common Core
  March 14, 2014 - Williamson County School Supt. Dr. Mike Looney defends Common Core, even as he professes ambivalence about the program. He begins by answering that some central planning of the economy, and education, is beneficial.
Womick leads 'war on core'
  Mar. 11, 2014 - Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rutherford Co.) takes questions about his effort to repeal the Common Core education standards - with Common Core supporter Mark Hill, chief policy officer with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, joining the discussion about half-way through the program.
Mr. Obama, tear down these walls
  Jan. 31, 2014 - Here's a "reenactment" of my rally rant on the occasion of President Obama's visit to Nashville.
Carr accuses Lamar of protecting Obamacare
  Jan. 24, 2014 - State Rep. Joe Carr, running for U.S. Senate against Lamar Alexander, accuses the senior senator from Tennessee of siding with the defenders of Obamacare.
Sen. Stacy Campfield - Is Lamar in trouble
  Dec. 4, 2013 - State Sen. Stacy Campfield of Knoxville discusses why he thinks Sen. Lamar Alexander is running scared.
Matheny seeks 'vertical' ammunition industry in Tennessee
  Nov. 26, 2013 - Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) discusses the heightened Congressional interest in the problem of terrorists coming to the U.S. through our refugee program. He also introduces the prospect of recruiting a "vertical" ammunition industry in the state, to "guarantee ammunition to Tennesseans for generations to come."
RNC plots to squeeze out South
  Nov. 5, 2013 - A Daily Beast report makes it sound like the RNC is trying to squeeze Southern voters out of the presidential selection process. Listen and see if this makes sense to you.
Lamar ad - what he should have said
  Nov. 15, 2013 - A few people wanted to hear this again.
Matheny leads refugee cost investigation
  Oct. 2, 2013 - Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, discusses the fiscal, security and federalism issues surrounding a large population of refugees from war-torn Muslim countries.
Black, Blackburn balk at Obamacare defunding plan
  Sept. 13, 2013 - Middle Tennessee Rep. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn are not on board with a "shutdown showdown" with President Obama over funding for Obamacare.
Taxation Townhall highlight
  April 12, 2010 - Author, historian William Federer was a big hit at our Taxation Townhall Meeting on April 9th, 2010 . Here's his 3-minute lesson on the history of concentrated power. [I'm re-posting by popular demand.]
Obama v. Obama - on red lines
  Sept. 4, 2013 - No need to elaborate.
Gowdy says public, media needed for scandal justice
  Sept. 3, 2013 - South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, discusses the Obama administration scandals and Obama's plan to bomb Syria. He strongly suggests Congress needs more compelling witnesses and media interest for justice to be served in the scandals - and he's very skeptical of a national interest in Syria sufficient to put American lives at risk.
DeMint argues for Obamacare defunding plan
  Aug. 9, 2013 - Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, in the first of two live interviews, argues the plan to defund Obamacare is the last, best chance and only workable plan to stop or repeal the President's signature healthcare law, which DeMint believes is uniquely destructive to America.
Heritage Action locks horns with Corker
  Aug. 7, 2013 - Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler rebuts Sen. Bob Corker's position that efforts to defund Obamacare are "silly" and "political."
Corker dismisses Obamacare defunding effor as political
  Aug. 7. 2013 - Sen. Bob Corker called into the program Weds. morning and continued the running debate over efforts to defund Obamacare.
The AMP - an experiment in public transporation
  Aug 3, 2013 - A Nashville's Morning News report and analysis on the issues involving a proposed Bus rapid transit system, The AMP, which would dramatically effect traffic and business on one of Nashville's busiest city streets. And that's just the beginning. [long download][runs 23 minutes]
Ralph Rant: Get to the 'top' of this
  May 22, 2013 - To preserve the Republic, Republicans in Congress cannot stop until they get, not "to the bottom of this," but "to the top of this."
ABC Analyst: IRS decision goes close to Obama
  May 21, 2013 - ABC political analyst Trey Hardin talks about his blunt assestment of the origin of the IRS scandal. “I can say with a very strong degree of certainty that people very close to the president not only knew but authorized that,” said Hardin, and much more.
Opponents rise against BRT
  May 15, 2013 - In this premeditated Ralph Rant, I break the news of a new group that has formed to oppose Nashvill'e planned Bus Rapid Transit on West End Ave.
Rick Williams, BRT opponent, speaks out
  May 15, 2013 - Rick Williams is a member of the steering committee for TNResponsibleTransit, the group opposing the planned Nashville Bus Rapid Transit on West End Avenue. You can reach him at TNResponsibleTransit@gmail.com. This is the group's debut media interview - in its new campaign to stop BRT.
Tennessee Tea Party leaders respond to IRS scandal
  May 13, 2013 - Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party and Mark West, President of the Chattanooga Tea Party, respond to the IG report that busts the IRS for targeting Tea Party Groups for harassment in 2011, prior to the 2012 election.
Sen. Rand Paul on guns, immigration, taxes
  April 18, 2013 - U.S. Sen. Rand Paul discusses the failed gun bill, the immigration reform bill ahead, and the right strategy on taxes.
Leahy launches 'The Real Conservative National Committee'
  April 4, 2014 - Author, Breitbart correspondent and tea party activist Michal Patrick Leahy discusses a new organization formed to improve the ground game needed to help elect more conserative candidates to Congress, starting in 2014 with the GOP primary for U.S. Senate
Alexander on coal regs - Round 2
  June 14, 2012 - Sen. Alexander returns to respond to some of the reaction to his stand on new coal plant regulations.
Alexander defends coal regulations, says he will run again
  June 13, 2012 - Sen. Lamar Alexander defends his stand in favor of new coal plant regulations - explains why he belives Medicaid is to blame for higher college tuition - and says he intends to run for reelection in 2014.
Exclusive: The first hand account of "The Last Man to Die"
  May 11, 2012 - A 92-year-old Cookeville, TN WWII veteran solves a 67-year secret behind one of the most famous WWII photographs.

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Ralph Bristol is a 30-year veteran of radio and TV broadcasting. He is a US Air Force veteran and holds a BS degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Ralph was a radio and TV reporter, anchor and news director in Missouri and Illinois before joining WORD Radio in Greenville/Spartanburg, SC in 1995.

In the spring of 2007, Supertalk 99.7 WWTN beckoned Ralph to Nashville. Ralph defies political labels, and has no partisan loyalties, but can best be described as a libertarian/conservative. Ralph writes and speaks extensively on education, tax and economic issues. In his spare time, Ralph terrorizes golf courses, invents useful things with sharp tools and dead wood, and entertains audiences with irreverent humor and contrarian insight. Invite him to speak to your group at your own risk.