“Alexander’s Rag-Tag Bland Is A Sour Tune” By UT Professor Mark Harmon

Alexander’s Rag-Tag Bland

Is A Sour Tune

By Mark Harmon

            For roughly a dozen years I was a writer and bit player for Knoxville’s Front Page Follies, a gridiron-style show mocking local, state, and national politicians with satirical songs.  Follies is gone now; the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists mothballed it because of declining fundraising numbers for journalism scholarships.  I miss Follies, and still pen a ditty or two—e.g., a Dylan-esque Like a Roger Stone.

If I were still writing bits, I might try my hand at Alexander’s Rag-Tag Bland, a variation on Irving Berlin’s bouncy song Alexander’s Ragtime Band.  It would be tough, however, because recent actions from the senior Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, are less comically flawed than maliciously tragic.

The Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of national treasure Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly led to a weekend of speculation whether enough Republican U.S. Senators would balk at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s nefarious and hypocritical plan to rush through a Trump replacement nominee in record time.

Lamar Alexander recently has offered only flickering indications he might be willing to reject lockstep Trumpian extremism.  His 2019 Americans for Democratic Action 2019 progressive/liberal voting score was just five percent, meaning 19 times out of 20 key votes he took the right-wing position.  His career American Conservative Union score over 17 years has been 72.12 percent, though lately non-conservative fraction has been inflated by missed votes.

Those with deep memory (or extensive reading) might know of January 17, 1979, when Alexander did his most famous bipartisan act in the public interest.  He cooperated with Democrats to get sworn in three days early as Tennessee Governor, effectively ending an accused “cash for clemency” scam by the exiting Democratic governor.

Alexander long has trumpeted bipartisanship.  He widely has been quoted saying, “The goal with a big piece of social legislation is to have a bipartisan result, so the country will accept it.”  You’d think a critical lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court would meet the same consensus standard, but Alexander brazenly has taken the opposite view.

Ginsburg’s body was barely cold when Alexander released a statement he would join McConnell’s ploy.  He even had the temerity to say the voters expect the Senators to do it.  Nope.  Public opinion overwhelmingly favors waiting until the January inauguration.  Alexander lamely tried to draw a distinction between now and 2016 when McConnell refused to take up President Obama’s nomination of the moderate jurist Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  That nomination came 237 days before the election.  Trump’s selection of Amy Coney Barrett comes just 37 days before Election Day.

Alexander bloviated that the Senate “has refused to confirm several [Supreme Court nominees in election years] when the President and Senate majority were of different parties.”  Huh?  So, the ethics of the matter depends on the partisan composition of the branches?  That dog won’t hunt.   The better historical reference is to Abraham Lincoln who waited upon his 1864 re-election before filling a vacancy when Chief Justice Roger Taney died just 27 days before voters went to the polls.  In 2020, many voters are going to the polls now.

If Alexander thinks the Trump presidency and Republican control of the Senate imply some sort of mandate for these shenanigans, he is sorely mistaken.  Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by more than 2.8 million votes, and during his presidency consistently has been well below 50 percent approval.  Senate Democrats tallied 18 million more votes than Republican ones in 2018 and ten million more in 2016.

It would be the height of irresponsibility to force through a Supreme Court nominee before the election or in a lame-duck session in which it is possible, even likely, that a group of Senators rejected by the voters could push through on a party-line vote the extremist nominee of an impeached president rejected by the voters.  At this late date, we must let the people choose the president, and let that president fill the vacancy.

Alexander, 80, is retiring from the Senate.  He could have ended his career with as bold a stance against abuse as when he became Tennessee Governor.  That could have been his legacy.  Instead, compiling this action with his cowardice on impeachment, means he slumps away from public office as a hack who once had a plaid-shirt gimmick.  Alexander’s rag-tag bland statements are too sad to be funny.

 

Mark D. Harmon is a professor of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee, and a regional vice chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

           

Mark Lee, Alleged Student-Harassing Overton County Teacher, Sues Accusers

If you’ve been follering us for any amount of time you’ve likely seen us talk about OVERTON COUNTY teacher Mark Lee, who taught at Livingston Academy until his recent 90-day suspension without pay and eventual transfer – which was supposedly tied to years worth of sexual harassment allegations by multiple students stretching back to 2003. (He’s tenured, so he’s likely back on payroll now)

Here’s our interview with 2 of the girls and their mothers:

It was also discussed at an Overton County school board meeting, during which multiple parents expressed their disgust that the school board had done little to protect the girls, and in fact had plans to transfer Lee to an elementary school until people hollered about it – yes seriously.

There was also talk of him being placed at an Alternative School, which is almost worse because that’s often where the most vulnerable students end up.

The District Attorney Bryan Dunavant, who we spoke with, says he didn’t bring charges against Lee because he had no proof of physical touching (although one of the girls says he rubbed his head on her stomach). He also told us he “wouldn’t want his daughter in Lee’s class.

A mother of another one of the alleged sexual harassment victims of the LIVINGSTON ACADEMY teacher (Mark Lee) in OVERTON COUNTY Says she spoke up since 2017, nobody listened. Multiple girls signed sworn affidavits on that occasion, including a cop’s daughter.

Lee is now suing the families and those who have stood up for them for “damages arising out of the defendants’ pattern of intentional, malicious, tortious false and defamatory statements impugning the plaintiffs’ character and reputation and published to the world on social media” as well as “invasion of privacy”.

This guy has some nerve.

HERE IS THE LAWSUIT if you’d like to read it. It includes the posts below, which it cites as defamation.

As a reminder, the director of schools suspended him for 90 days related to all of this.

If you or anyone you know has stories about Lee, or witnessed any of his behavior, feel free to holler at us on social media or at thetnholler@gmail.com – and follow The Cookeville Holler for developments

UT-Knoxville Student: “If Anyone Dies, Blood Is On Her Hands.”

“I have read people say, kind of cynical people I think, young people won’t do it, College students won’t do it. They will not stop partying.”

On the 21st of August the UT Knoxville YouTube channel uploaded a video of Chancellor Plowman addressing her student body. This video is meant to reassure students that she believes in us, and that she thinks that we can make this work.

What she does not acknowledge is the fact that these ‘cynical people’ are the student body she’s trying to ‘inspire’.

To be fair, I see where she’s coming from. There is not one person in this generation that I know who is not sick of older generations thinking we are too lazy or entitled to care for others. If you want to pander, this is a good way to do it, especially for ‘cynical’ people.

What this message fails to realize is that those cynics are not the ones who need to be inspired to follow the guidelines. The students who need to be inspired are the ones who do not care, as the consequences don’t have real impact for them.

I am one of those ‘cynical’ people who does not think that is going to work. I would love to be proved wrong, but I cannot afford to be optimistic when it could have dire consequences for those I care about.

What I do not think the chancellor is taking into account is the very real lived experiences of the students she is supposed to serve.

I am currently lucky enough to have all online classes, however one of my roommates isn’t so lucky. The problem is, I am now exposed to the campus environment even if I don’t set foot on campus at all this semester. I also have to work, and so does my roommate, which means we are both at a bigger risk of being infected.

We have been told that there will be consequences for students who do not adhere to guidelines, and that these students could get expelled. This would be great, if this was not a virus with a two week incubation period. By the time these students are facing consequences students who are immunocompromised will also be facing consequences of the now-expelled-student. If it were me, and my life was now on the line, I would not be happy with that student simply being expelled.

I am so scared to go home, my brother has asthma, my dad just beat cancer, and my mom was a smoker for so many years. If I brought COVID-19 home, and someone in my family passed away because someone who had the virus decided to come out and not isolate, Chancellor Plowman expelling them would mean nothing to me.

That doesn’t bring my family back.

Risking students’ lives, their families lives, and other citizens of Knoxville, so the university can play football and make money from that is horribly unethical. This chancellor has lost a lot of my respect even bringing us back to campus. If she keeps us here, she will not be redeemable.

If anyone at UT dies, their blood is on her hands.

Rainey Dinsmore is a student at UT-Knoxville

SCRAPPY TIME – Healthcare Crisis in Tennessee

On this episode of Scrappy Time, Jay meets with State Representative Gloria Johnson to discuss the healthcare crisis in Tennessee and what we need to do to fix it.

Also on deck for this episode is Lola Jack and Buddy for this week’s Dem Dogs segment. These two hounds were both rescued and are loving their new lives! Consider donating to the local animal shelter. They’re really struggling during the pandemic and need your help.

This episode is also available on Representative Johnson’s podcast “Standing Tall,” and you can listen on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you like to listen.

SCRAPPY TIME – NextGen

Tonight on Scrappy Time Jay spends some time with Kylie Sliger, an 18-year-old first-time voter who has been volunteering on political campaigns for several years, and Ali Lawson, a 22-year-old senior business analytics major with a blue-collar background. These young people break down what motivates them to participate in politics and what issues they think will drive more young people to the polls to vote.

We also have some fun playing a game with Blount County elementary students Ella Russell, Kija Burr, Sunny Burr and their mother Stephanie. The game is called “Where’s the Moon?” and it’s a hoot!

SCRAPPY TIME – Education

This week on Scrappy Time, Jay Clark asks Blount County Teacher Rebecca Dickenson how we can help support teachers this school year when COVID-19 made an already difficult job dangerous to their lives.

Standing Tall meets Scrappy Time

Gloria Johnson’s STANDING TALL collides with Jay Clark’s SCRAPPY TIME in this latest episode!

Representative Johnson and Jay Clark chill and chat in Gloria’s luxurious pool talking healthcare, the upcoming special session, and our Governer’s refusal to meet with the peaceful protesters occupying the plaza outside the State Capitol.

Jay is running for State House in District 8 and has his own show “Scrappy Time,” which y’all should be on the lookout for because Jay is joining The TN Holler Podcast Network!

You’ll see Gloria and Jay on “Scrappy Time” THIS WEEK, stay tuned! 📺

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

“Rocky Top Sunrise” – A Better World with Matthew Park

Hosts Isabella Killius and Cassie Jackson interview Matthew Park in a special episode! Matthew is a candidate for State House running in District 15 in Knoxville. Sunrise believes he is one of the most thoughtful and inspirational candidates running in Tennessee right now, and he’s the only candidate to be endorsed by Sunrise Tennessee’s statewide coalition because of his strong stances on climate and his progressive, moral vision for what Tennessee could be.

Follow Sunrise Tennessee on Twitter and Facebook.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts and wherever else you like to listen.

STANDING TALL PODCAST – Behind the Ballot Box

A new episode of  STANDING TALL with Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson on The Tennessee Holler Podcast Network is LIVE!

In this episode, Representative Johnson chats with Knoxville County Election Commissioner Tammy Kaousias about the ins and outs of the voting process and how to vote with confidence in the upcoming elections.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.