KANEW: “TENNESSEE REPUBLICANS ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON DEMOCRACY”

TENNESSEE REPUBLICANS ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON DEMOCRACY

On November 3rd Donald Trump lost the presidential election. I know it’s hard for some people to hear that, but that’s all the more reason it needs to be said. It was close in some key swing states, but President-Elect Joe Biden is now up by tens of thousands of votes even in those states, and Republican secretaries of state across the country are telling us there is zero real evidence of widespread fraud. 

Obviously that hasn’t stopped President Trump from refusing to accept defeat. He told us he would only accept the outcome if he won before the election, and he has followed through. He now tweets incessantly, day after day about how he has been cheated – pointing to vote counts being changed, dead people voting, Republican observers not being allowed into the counting rooms… all of which have been debunked one by one by one. Trump is tweeting about fraud publicly while his lawyers admit in court, under oath, that they are not actually saying any such fraud took place.

Simply put, there is no evidence of widespread fraud. He is lying. There is no debating that. 

What is up for debate is why. Is it simply so he can drag this out as long as possible to give himself more time to milk money from his supporters? Money which he claims is going to help him fight the lawsuits he keeps losing, but which the fine print tells us he is stuffing into his own pockets

Or does he really think he can take this all the way to the end and overturn this election with the help of Republican-held state legislatures, who would have to turn their backs on democracy, throw out the results of the election in their states, and assign their electors to him without any justification for doing so?

One would hope he knows the latter is an impossibility, since it would essentially mean the end of The American Experiment.

One would hope he would understand that even Republicans in his party would deem that to be a bridge too far.

But would they? If they’re anything like the Republicans in Tennessee, perhaps not. 

So far here in Tennessee, the only prominent Republicans who have been willing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is president-elect are ex-Senators Bob Corker and Bill Frist. Senator Lamar Alexander has said nothing. Governor Lee has expressed his support for Trump’s efforts, as have Senator Marsha Blackburn, senator-elect Bill Hagerty, and both chambers of the Tennessee supermajority legislature. The Tennessee Republican delegation of congressmen have also gone right along with the charade, including Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who told a news network “what we’re seeing is fraud,” but when pressed for specifics pointed to Nevada – where the 3000 ballots in question had already turned out to be mostly military families who had been transferred.

Is this what it has come to, Republicans? One can only imagine the outrage they would be demonstrating had Hillary Clinton refused to concede, especially if she had a 5 million vote deficit in the popular vote rather than the 3 million advantage she ended up with (in fact, they did rip her viciously for even just having questions in the aftermath of 2016).

Or worse yet, imagine their reaction if Obama were doing any of this. 

Perhaps they think they’re just humoring Trump, and that at the end of the day this will have no lasting impact after he inevitably leaves the White House. But that’s shortsighted. Tennessee Republicans had a chance to stand up, finally show some leadership and backbone, and say enough is enough. Instead, they signed up to join this circus and help Trump trash our election process, a favor to our anti-Democracy enemies that ultimately means Trump’s loyal following of millions of Americans will now forever believe this was a rigged election. 

Nobody knows what lasting impact that will have in the days, weeks, and years to come, but what we do know is Tennessee Republicans have shown us they put their loyalty to Trump and their own self-preservation ahead of their commitment to the democratic process that undergirds the very notion of America, and that in itself is the opposite of patriotism.

Free and fair elections, respecting the will of the people, is what makes us who we are as a country. Republicans love to invoke the Founding Fathers when convenient, but any objective reading of their intentions makes it clear they set up our constitution to guard against efforts to drag us back towards the authoritarianism our country was established in opposition to, the tyranny they fought and bled to keep us away from in favor of the freedom to elect our own leaders and center the people’s voice. A freedom many brave Americans have since died to preserve.

This is a dark path we’re heading down, one few would have believed possible even just a few short years ago. This has already become a black eye on our nation’s history, and the further down this road we go, the bigger the stain will be on the reputations of this crop of Tennessee Republicans – a stain which will not soon come off.

Justin Kanew is the Founder of the Tennessee Holler

TORREY HARRIS, MEMPHIS TN House Candidate

MEMPHIS TN House candidate Torrey Harris talks about running against ex-Democrat John Deberry and being an openly gay candidate in Tennessee.

www.TorreyHarris.com

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

KANEW TO WILLIAMSON COUNTY: CANCEL CASADA

“If values matter, if we’re trying to teach our kids to do the right thing, we need to #CancelCasada like his own Republican caucus did.”

Watch The Holler’s Justin Kanew help WILLIAMSON COUNTY remember why ex-speaker Glen Casada had to resign in shame.

Here’s his op-ed in the Tennessean.

TN Senate Candidate GLENN SCRUGGS

Assistant Police Chief Glenn Scruggs on his opponent Senator Gardenhire’s “FRIED CHICKEN” comments and more.

PODCAST

FRANKLIN REQUIRES PERMITS TO PROTEST

In a deeply disappointing decision Franklin just voted to require permits to protest. All protests in Franklin have been peaceful.

The resistance was bipartisan. Mayor Ken Moore broke the 4-4 tie.

OP-ED: GOP REP. MIKE SPARKS Distorts MLK’s Words to Justify A Racist, Oppressive Agenda

Mike Sparks is facing an extremely difficult election this cycle.  Brandon Thomas is a young, black man with a progressive platform and widespread support, particularly among young people. He’s energetic and has put in the work to make personal connections with a huge swath of the district’s electorate.

Sparks, by contrast, has spent much of his time defending the bust of KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forest in the state’s capital and claiming to the Tennessee Holler that he doesn’t know why the civil war was fought.

He even took some time out of this busy schedule to pen an Op-Ed for the Murfreesboro Voice in defense of Trump loving Ex-Democrat John DeBerry.

In it, he claims that DeBerry is some kind of victim for having been ousted from the Democratic ticket over his litany of absurd statements and positions. This is, of course, absurd, as the Democratic Party is a political organization with every right to decide not to lend its apparatus to a candidate who does not fit with their values. Unlike Sparks’ Republican Party, which seems to jump frantically from one ideology to another in pursuit of power, the Democrats seem to have at least some standards.

I don’t find myself overly disturbed by Sparks’ defense of DeBerry, however. This is run-of-the-mill culture war nonsense that Republicans always gin up a month or so before an election to drive out their base. It’s ridiculous, but it comes with the territory. I do take issue with Sparks’ appropriation of the language of resistance, which he does so brazenly that I can only assume that he is as ignorant of its context as he is of our own state’s Confederate history.

The absurdity begins as he mentions the iconic anti-fascist poem by German pastor Martin Niemoller, “First They Came…” Sparks doesn’t actually quote any lines from the poem, likely because the very first line of the poem’s most famous form is “first they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a socialist.”

This isn’t a poem about a wealthy, longtime state representative being removed from his party for supporting a fascist president. It’s about the ways in which authoritarian governments divide their population and attack those in the political, religious, and racial minorities while assuring all others that they’re safe as part of the majority.

It’s a critique of the “Us versus Them” mentality.

Does this sound familiar? One example might be an authoritarian president building a campaign on the claim that a large portion of Mexican immigrants are dangerous criminals, or banning a religious minority from entering the country.

Another example could be a clownish Governor and entrenched supermajority passing laws that target protestors and strip them of their voting rights for the crime of daring to speak up in defense of black life. I wonder what Mike Sparks would have to say about events like that?

It’s the excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which is the most egregious, however. Unlike the poem, of which one could give Sparks the benefit of assuming ignorance, he adamantly claims to have read this document, and yet his understanding of it seems to be on the level of someone who skimmed Dr. King’s work for quotes that could be construed to agree with him.

He goes with the oft-quoted warning that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” This is a remarkably convenient line for Sparks, and is so removed from its context as to be nearly meaningless. However, to find this line, he was forced to sift through a mountain of criticism for laws that look identical to the anti-protest bill that he just voted for!

For an obvious example, Dr. King says that “there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.”

This speaks to a greater tendency among the right to quote Dr. King while categorically refusing his key claim that all actions must be viewed within the context which has given rise to them. This is what Dr. King meant when he said that “riots are the language of the unheard,” and it is absolutely central to his brilliant understanding of opposition to hierarchy and oppression.

While Brandon Thomas travels the district meeting constituents and accepting endorsements from workers unions and activist groups, Mike Sparks spends his time defending the racist authoritarians of the past like Nathan Bedford Forest, and the racist authoritarians of today like Donald Trump.

He is a voice for the powerful against the powerless, an advocate for order at the expense of justice.

He is what Dr. King would call “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.’”

No man who votes to protect a bust honoring a KKK Grand Wizard or strip voting rights from peaceful protestors for “camping” should be using the words of Dr. King or Pastor Niemoller. We cannot allow the defenders of power and authoritarianism to co-opt the language of true, profound resistance to such horrors.

We should learn from our history, so that men like Mike Sparks aren’t able to distort it for their own agenda.

 

Brendon Donoho is a student at MTSU, president of MTSU Young Democratic Socialists of America, and a resident of Rutherford County

MURFREESBORO Locals Protest Johnny Reb Statue on the Town Square

Locals Protest Johnny Reb Statue on the Town Square

Protesters See Statues as a Remnant of a Painful Time

by Brendon Donoho

            Murfreesboro’s town square is quite a sight to behold. An assortment of local boutiques and restaurants fill its outer rim, bustling with crowds of locals and visitors alike while at its core sits a magnificent courthouse which has commanded this location since 1859. The Courthouse sits as the central jewel of the square with each of its corners adorned with a unique monument.

There is the monument to Revolutionary War General Griffith Rutherford in the Northwest, a rather touching tribute to veterans of the two World Wars in the Southeast, and a simple but elegant pillar in the Southwest commemorating the city’s short time as the Tennessee state capital. Recently, however, it’s the Northeast corner of the courthouse grounds which has found itself at the center of public debate.

On Friday, a handful of Murfreesboro locals gathered on the square to once again ask for the removal of the city’s statue and monument honoring “the valor of Confederate soldiers who fell of the great Battle of Murfreesboro.” Incidentally, nearly 900 Union Soldiers also died in this combat, though they’ve been left mysteriously unnamed on this quite garish memorial. Near the statue, there is also a tablet teaching readers about “The Square During Occupation,” bizarrely referring to the American military as an occupying force which was bravely defeated by the Confederates.

In addition, the courthouse itself is dedicated, by a plaque near its front door, to General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General who is often also credited as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. This plaque was placed in 1912 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, a Nashville-founded group which venerated the Klan and mass-produced Confederate statues at the turn of the century in support of Jim Crow laws.

Michael Sangetti, who planned the day’s protest, had quite a bit to say about the statue. “We definitely want to draw attention to the statue here. It’s representative of the laws that we still use today to oppress black people in our current policing system… It is a symbol of intimidation and hate and not history.”

Sangetti started his protest on Thursday and doesn’t plan to stop until he’s seen the change he’s asking for. “I plan on coming as many days as possible.  I’d like to stay out here, honestly, until the statue comes down. Until the mayor and city council can address the needs of the Black community here in Murfreesboro who are over policed and over arrested.”

Ultimately, he sees these statues as the most public face of the underlying systemic racism which has plagued the United States, and particularly the South, since before the nation’s founding. “Without saying anything, it is a visual representation of white supremacy and hate…I’ve heard from my black friends that they would notice it every day and every time they pass by it. My aunt would notice it every time she was on the square.”

Sangetti was joined on Friday by a handful of Murfreesboro residents who felt it important to make their own voices heard.

Darla Gates said “I’m just gonna use my white privilege to stand up and say that this is wrong. That’s what it’s gonna take. All of us supporting the Black and Brown communities for them to know that this has got to change.”

The protesters are asking for the removal of the statue and other Confederate monuments around Murfreesboro as the first step toward reconciling the deep history of racism and oppression which unfortunately checkers this nation’s past. Friday was the second day of protests and, according to the protestors, the reaction has been mostly positive.

“I think the general response is about Sixty-forty. Sixty percent are usually behind it.

It seems like older people are not so much behind it, younger people are.” Said Sangetti, “We’ve had people bring us water today. Some younger girls came and offered to buy me ice cream. I had one guy come and shake my hand yesterday.”

While the protestors are correct to point out the history of systemic oppression and racism which lies at the bedrock of our nation, I couldn’t help but think, as I spoke to the small, sign holding group on the town square, that there is also another tradition here in America. This is the tradition at play when a handful of local citizens decide that a decision by their city has upset them and find their way to the streets in protest. It’s the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., of Malcolm X, of Woodie Guthrie, George Meany, and every other American who has taken to the streets in an act of radical democracy to make their voices heard.

This is a practice which has finally made a return to modern American society, and it is alive and well in Murfreesboro, as it is everywhere else.

PARKINSON RIPS LAMBERTH’S ANTI-RIOTING BILL

Watch Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) Rip House GOP Majority Leader William Lamberth’s anti-rioting bill for completely ignoring the ROOT CAUSE of the reason people are upset.

 

Bill Freeman: “State Sen. Joey Hensley Should Be Replaced”

Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, Nashville Post and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County. 

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Sen. Joey Hensley, MD Should Be Replaced Following News of his Unethical Behavior

(NASHVILLE, Tennessee) – As the season to elect the next representatives for the 112th Tennessee General Assembly is beginning, it is important to remind voters of the pressing importance that our elected officials represent our values and exhibit the ethics necessary to serve as a member of our state legislature.

Tennessee Senate District 28 is shamefully represented by Joey Hensley, MD, who has been publicly found to be lacking in the morality and decency expected of an elected official.

He was brought before a hearing of the state medical board due to factually-based allegations that he had provided medical treatment and controlled substances to immediate family members. Even worse, it was stated that he had engaged in a sexual affair with his then-nurse while also serving as her physician and prescribing her controlled substances. The board found that there was significant merit to these factual allegations to warrant a full hearing to constitute disciplinary action on the part of the board. The full hearing, according to public record, was scheduled for September 18, 2019.

However, no information is yet available in his license information as regulated by the state licensure verification. In this system, they give their full endorsement. There are no actions reported by a state regulatory board. There are no disciplinary actions taken by a hospital. There are no criminal offenses listed, and he still holds privileges at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville and is licensed to accept BlueCare.

How can a medical professional be found responsible for these gross ethical violations yet have no public information to inform his patients and, equally as importantly, to inform the residents he was elected to represent?

What are the findings of the full hearing? The information publicly investigated by multiple media outlets certainly documented enough salacious information to fuel the plot of a soap opera for months.

When the facts were made public of Hensley’s multiple failed marriages, his participation in extramarital affairs and his grossly improper medical care to immediate family members, to employees and to his then-married second cousin with whom he had a sexual affair while in his employ, you would think that public outrage would have resulted in an immediate censure, licensure revocation or other appropriate action by the state regulatory boards or by the General Assembly.

But nothing has occurred at all.

What will it take for a radically conservative politician in the state of Tennessee to be removed from office? We have found that employing cocaine addicts bragging about sexual conquests while in session and in government offices isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to have compelling testimony and public witness of your sexual predatory behavior toward teenage girls while their high school basketball coach. Is it enough to prescribe opiates to your married second cousin who’s both your nurse and your sexual affair partner? She testified in court that they even had sexual intercourse at his medical practice in Hohenwald. How can this get any seedier? Were these encounters during business hours? Were patients in the waiting room or already called back to see the doctor that day?

These grossly inappropriate actions have brought public embarrassment to the state of Tennessee, and they must be particularly embarrassing to the residents of Senate District 28, which includes the six counties of Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry and Wayne Counties.

We need to know the findings and disciplinary actions of the state medical board from their full hearing. It is unconscionable that a medical doctor can be found responsible for these actions and be unaffected. Even worse, it is downright unfathomable that an elected representative— particularly one who is doggedly championing radically conservative causes to the point of bringing national attention and embarrassment from his proposed legislation—to be still in office.

Is there is anyone in the entire six-county region that elected Hensley to office who might consider throwing his or her hat in the ring?

The time is now. The filing deadline is April 2, 2020. And to those voters in this district, please consider these serious and concerning allegations. It isn’t right that Hensley is representing you. He’s never won a landslide election, and they’ve all taken place before these facts have become public.

It’s time to do the right thing. I am certain that there are plenty of upstanding leaders in Pulaski, Linden, Columbia, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg, Hohenwald, Waynesboro and every part in between who are willing to serve this fine region. All of Tennessee should call upon this district’s business leaders, community servants and everyday citizens to protest his blackened record and replace state Senator Joey Hensley.

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ABOUT BILL FREEMAN

Bill Freeman is a Democratic Party fundraiser, the former treasurer of the Tennessee Democratic Party, a member of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, a member of the Board of Trustees for Tennessee State University and was appointed to serve on the advisory board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also serves as chairman of Freeman Webb Inc., a real estate investment, management and brokerage company based in Nashville, which he co-founded in 1979. He is also the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Post, the Nashville Scene, Nfocus and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.