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THE GROUP BEHIND THE ANTI-MUSLIM AD ANSWERS QUESTIONS

Yesterday  the Tennessean made national news when it ran an extremely Islamophobic ad warning that Islam was going to Nuke Nashville, which the Tennessean has now called “utterly indefensible” by their own admission.

It actually ran twice. They say they’re investigating how it happened, but Channel 5’s Phil Williams fairly wonders why an investigation would be necessary into how an ad got into their own newspaper

They now say they’ll be donating the revenue to AMAC, but much of the community is deeply offended, and many say they’ll be canceling their subscriptions.

We won’t encourage you to do that, because it hurts the reporters at the Tennessean who are themselves also upset about this, but we do understand the sentiment.

We reached out to the Tennessean for answers, but have not heard back.

We did however hear back from the Seventh Day Adventists who placed the ad – an End Times prophecy group who insist they’re simply warning people of what will be happening July 18th.

Here’s our exchange with Jeff Pippinger, the apparent spokesman of the group, which calls itself “Future For America”. He says the ad placement was strictly transactional, and it doesn’t seem like the Tennessean asked many questions – although he told another publication a printer they planned to use to do a mailer wouldn’t send out the flyers… which is even more embarrassing for the Tennessean and their obviously flawed process.

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HOLLER: We were wondering how much you paid for your full page ad about July 18th in today’s paper, and if there was any hesitation in running it on The Tennessean’s part? Would you consider yourselves anti-Islam in general?

Thank you for anything you can tell us.

PIPPINGER: The Tennessean has backed out of the contract to run the ad, so am unsure what the ultimate cost will be. They were to run it more than twice. I think they should refund the entire amount. They broke the contract, not us.
I have no idea of the editorial process that takes place at their organization. We consider ourselves to be Christian and the Bible teaches that Islam protects Christians in the final crisis. Those responding to the ad and the warning on the website, that are doing so simply from thier own political or religious bias’s are reading too much into our motivations. We are simply sharing what we understand the Bible to be identifying. Soon enough it will be evident whether we have read it correctly or not.

HOLLER: Thank you. And when you sent in the ad, did they question you about the content at all? Or was it a strictly transactional process? Also – did you attempt to place the ad in any other newspapers that would or would not run it?

Do you understand the concerns people have about how it could serve to enflame anti-Muslim attitudes and lead to violence?

PIPPINGER: It was strictly transactional. Did not try any other papers, may have had they turned us down, but they didn’t.

The concerns you mention are based upon the misguided premise of “political correctness”, and your question implies that you yourself accept that flawed social concept. Whether you do or don’t it appears that by asking the question you are either blind to the fact that you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth, or that you are being purposefully deceptive.
We identify July 18. Twenty-six days to see if this is a foolish prediction or not. In the mean time you raise the issue of violence and enflaming anti-Muslim attitudes.
So which is it my friend. Am I some religious whack job that is lost in my own little world of paranoid delusion? If this the case than how can your question possess any logical weight? Who would believe the claims of a religious nut job? Yet you present your question as if you are speaking to a child. “Do I understand the concerns…?”
Yes I understand that when a person bases their world view upon political correctness, then the work of the “PC Police” is to place the subject of Islam above a citizen of the USA right to excercise free speech, especially in the realm of religious conviction.
The only way any of these circumstances would be connected to a backlash against Muslims is if what we have warned about actually happens. At that point it will not be me that has caused the backlash, but Islam.
You can’t have it both ways, simply because you echo political correctness. I am either a deluded fool, which by definition precludes my warning from being a point of reference for anything, or I am not. July 18 will clear all of this up, but I reject your inference that I should surrender my right to express my religious convictions because the PC Police have defined me according to their misguided world view.
The Tennessean had a choice here. Someone needs to be held accountable, and they need to make sure this never happens again.

KANEW: “What Republicans Really Mean By Socialism”

This op-ed by Holler co-founder Justin Kanew first appeared in the Tennessean.

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WHAT REPUBLICANS MEAN BY “SOCIALISM”

The Tennessean recently published an op-ed from mega-rich Republican donor Lee Beaman saying we should be “concerned” a recent Gallup poll shows 4 in 10 Americans now “consider socialism a good thing”.

Setting aside the goings-on in Beaman’s personal life that may or may not have made publishing his musings on socialism – or anything, for that matter – the morally decent thing to do, Beaman’s article provides an opportunity to define what he and other Republicans mean when they attack everything they don’t like as “socialism”.

“Socialism is not merely free healthcare and education,” Beaman richsplains, it “causes hunger and economic instability.”

But here’s the problem – when Americans “consider socialism to be a good thing,” they’re not talking about “government-owned and operated businesses” – Venzuela-style SOCIALISM, as Beaman implies.

They’re talking about “democratic socialism” (or “democratic capitalism” as Pete Buttigieg calls it), adding elements that work in other democracies to balance the runaway greed and corporate takeover of our government – as evidenced by the outsized influence Beaman himself has over our TN legislature – to meet public needs, rather than profits for a few.

The decision is not between “CAPITALISM” and “SOCIALISM”, as they’d have you believe. There’s a spectrum. Having free public libraries is a “socialist” idea, but it doesn’t make us a socialist country. Nor does having public roads, or public schools, or a fire department, or a military, etc.

It’s about balance. The middle class is disappearing. Tennessee leads the nation in medical bankruptcies, rural hospital closures, opioid abuse, % of minimum wage jobs, and we rank near the bottom in health care access, infant mortality, mental health facilities, life expectancy, obesity, per pupil spending, poverty…. the list goes on.

This is the real state of the state – the utopia the “Greed Over People” GOP supermajority has led us to. Republicans brag about our fiscal stability ranking, but they never mention these.

Medicaid expansion would help 300,000 Tennesseans get health insurance. They call it “socialism”, yet don’t attribute the same tag to the $16 Billion farmer bailout to ease the pain Trump’s Tariffs have caused – bailout money that comes from FDR’s New Deal, which provided support for the unemployed, youth, the elderly, and included new constraints on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen.

Think these same Republicans would’ve called the New Deal “Socialism”? Of course they would have.

Beaman describes “socialism” as standing in opposition to “freedom”, but what he really means is the freedom to maximize profits no matter the cost:

Regulations to protect our children from dangerous chemicals? “SOCIALISM!”

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect us from predatory lenders? “SOCIALISM!”

Medicaid expansion/Universal Care to protect our vulnerable & control costs? “SOCIALISM!”

Minimum wage increase to help those who work to support their families? “SOCIALISM!”

Paid family leave to help new parents? “SOCIALISM!”

Unions to help workers protect themselves? “SOCIALISM!”

The list goes on. It has lost its meaning.

But these ideas are not “socialism” or “communism” (Beaman conflates the two, either out of ignorance or intentionally). These are programs that work in other democracies, and they’re the path to a better America – an America that works for more than just those at the top.

We’ve entered a second Gilded Age – to Beaman’s benefit – but America wasn’t founded on unbridled greed and concentrated power and wealth, it was founded IN OPPOSITION TO THOSE THINGS.

So when Americans “consider socialism a good thing”, it’s not because they’re un-American or against freedom or hard work, it’s because we now have a rigged system where the government responds to the needs of big donors rather than those of the people.

That’s the real “insult to those who’ve given their lives to protect our freedoms”.

America has evolved over the years, and she will continue to. By pushing back against that evolution, Beaman isn’t “standing beside her and guiding her”, he’s trying to control her and maintain power over her.

Tennessee Star Attacks Trio of Women Reporters

The Tennessee Star, the far-right, Koch Brothers-funded “news outlet” has a problem with women – particularly smart, young women – as evidenced by their recent spree of attacks on Tennessean reporters.

In the last week, the Star, which likes to refer to itself as the alternative to Nashville’s daily paper of record, accused the three reporters of bias in their reporting, posted photos of the women taken from personal social media pages, and used language from far-right movements to characterize them.

Amelia Knisely, Elaina Sauber, whose name the Star misspelled twice as ‘Stauber’, and Emily West all cover Williamson County for the Tennessean’s local Williamson section. Knisely covers education, Sauber covers municipal issues in Brentwood, and West covers Franklin city issues.

Staff at the Star, including writer Chris Butler, whom Knisely says called her and “aggressively” demanded her sources on a story, were apparently triggered by coverage of a recent flap over cultural competency training for teachers in the Williamson County School System. Knisely has been covering the story for the last few weeks.

But, it seems no coincidence all three reporters are women, and women who are 30 or under. Although the Tennessean has male reporters covering similar topics for other municipalities, the Star has remained mum on criticizing men.

Last week wasn’t the first time the Star aggressively trolled one of the Tennessean’s female journalists. In August 2018, writer Chris Butler, the same reporter who harassed Knisely last week, wrote a story accusing reporter Natalie Allison of being “chummy” with “left wing activists.”

Those accusations came following protests of private prison giant Core Civic. The Star’s report said “Allison signaled likely coordination with the protestors” citing her use of the protestors’ hashtag during her live tweets of the protests.

The Star posted a photo of an angry-looking woman, with veins standing out on her neck, at the head of the Knisely story, published March 19.  Although the photo is not Knisely, it is meant to imply to readers it is, and abuts a headline accusing Knisely of “rage tweeting.”

Photo intended to represent Tennessean reporter Amelia Knisely, taken from Tennessee Star, March 19.

On March 25th, the Star referred to Sauber and West as “social justice warriors” – a right wing term intended as a pejorative – in a headline and lambasted them for using Twitter to interact with readers about stories. The attack on Sauber resulted from the reporter providing a list of racial incidents that have occurred in Williamson County schools over the last several years as proof the cultural competency training is needed. 

Here’s Tennessean reporter Amelia Knisley describing her conversation with Tennessee Star reporter Chris Butler:

A source close to the group of reporters say at least one has received death threats since the Star’s harassment began.

FALSE ALARM: Lt. Gov. Mcnally Almost Backs Medicaid Expansion By Mistake

On the Tennessean’s Grand Divisions podcast with Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison this week, Tennessean writer Natalie Allison asked what bills will be most controversial this session, and after listing Medical Marijuana (like that you can see on https://www.canadacannabisdispensary.co/) and school vouchers Lt. Gov. Randy Mcnally went on to mention Medicaid Expansion:

Mcnally told the Tennessean:

“On Medicaid Expansion… Senator Bailey is working on some different ideas to take and work with the governor on and try to get an amendment through that would address the population that’s below 138% of the poverty level. And address it on a sliding scale voucher type thing, health savings accounts, there’s a number of different options that we haven’t really fleshed out yet.”

“Under 138% of the poverty level” is where Medicaid expansion would draw the line. What Mcnally was talking about sure sounded a lot like Medicaid expansion. So Natalie Allison asked him about that:

“So will Republicans be pushing a bill to expand Medicaid in some instances, or…?”

Still sounding a bit confused, Mcnally went on:

“Well we’ll be I think looking at an effort to… a lot depends on what we think we can through CMS, but we’re looking at an effort to address the population that probably was most in need of insurance but was left out of health care… Our hope is it’s not expansion of Medicaid, it’s not Obamacare, and that’s – we’re just trying to take care of sick people that lack insurance mainly because they’re incomes are not at a rate that they can afford it.”

So it’s not Medicaid, or Obamacare, it just attempts to do the exact things Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare was trying to do… JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T CALL IT MEDICAID EXPANSION OR OBAMACARE.

This might be a good time to point out that Medicaid Expansion is popular in Tennessee.

Still confused because Mcnally was sounding pretty pro-Medicaid expansion, the Natalie Allison pressed further:

So… you’re saying it’s not Medicaid expansion?”

At this point Senator Jack Johnson swoops in, noticing Mcnally is flailing and maybe almost about to support something that would actually help a lot of people, which would be truly awful.

Sen. Johnson:

“It absolutely is not… I want to be very clear about that, it’s not a proposal to expand medicaid. It’s a proposal to give us more flexibility with our existing medicaid dollars, ok? And if we’re given that flexibility we believe we can generate savings that will generate additional dollars with which we might be able to cover some additional people, or provide better services- better quality services. That’s one conversation and that needs to stay in its lane right there. Any conversation of drawing down additional federal dollars is a totally different conversation, ok? And I think maybe during some of this those two things have gotten interwoven.”

So if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans without coverage, good news – maybe what they’re proposing might cover some other people if they can scrounge up some loose change somewhere, but as for the $26 Billion over 10 years the federal government wants to send us to cover you, that’s a still big NO THANK YOU — because who wants that?
They know they need to seem like they’re trying to help people get the care they need – but actually helping people would be a bridge too far.
Basically their block grant proposal is to take the money that is supposed to go towards health insurance for low-income people in a lump sum, and trust that the guys who up until now haven’t seemed to care that vulnerable Tennesseans can’t get the care they need will A) make sure it goes to the right place, and B) Be able to make those dollars go further somehow.
That’s some plan.
The Tennessean reporters then went on to commiserate about how confusing the whole thing was. Natalie Allison:
“All the reporters sitting there were pretty confused. We thought he was saying Republicans were going to launch a medicaid expansion effort this session. We eventually realized that wasn’t the case and went on to talk about the block grant program.”
She then pointed out that it remains to be seen how they would actually secure coverage for those currently in the coverage gap:
“When we asked them how they were going to pay for that, there isn’t really a clear answer… the bill itself is pretty vague.”
As Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Gloria Johnson say in the video below, the Republican-proposed block grants may not even be legal, won’t cover anyone new, and won’t help rural hospitals.
It doesn’t fix the problem.
It’s time to expand Medicaid like most of the country already has. It would help a lot of people, and pay for itself. Let the Republicans call it whatever they want, let’s just do it.
Holler at Governor Lee if you agree.

TENNESSEAN: Racist Williamson GOP Email is Racist

The Williamson County GOP recently sent out a racist email to their people, demeaning Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mexicans at the same time. When the backlash inevitably came, instead of doing the adult thing and apologizing the Williamson GOP, led by Deb Deavers, doubled down, using their handy publicity tool the Tennessee Star to proclaim that the fault lies not with them, but with the Tennessean for “stoking liberal bias”.

Now David Plazas of the Tennessean has answered calling for the Williamson GOP to grow up and see this for the teachable moment it could be, if only the Williamson GOP were able to do some introspecting. We won’t hold our breath, and neither should you David.