RALLIES ACROSS TENNESSEE #BansOffOurBodies

This weekend Tennesseans all over marched in support of women’s rights. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Here were some of the best moments and signs we saw.

LIVE: BUSTING REPUBLICAN ABORTION MYTHS (with Francie Hunt)

Francie Hunt of TN Advocates Planned Parenthood joined us to walk through a Republican talking points memo on abortion and set some things straight.

PODCAST HERE.

OPIOID CRISIS-ENABLER BLACKBURN THREATENS GOV SHUTDOWN OVER RACIST HARM REDUCTION FREAKOUT

By now you’ve probably seen the blaring “BIDEN OFFERS FREE CRACK PIPES TO BLACK PEOPLE” headlines all over the right wing fever swamps. Fox, Shapiro, the whole crew is marching to the beat of the same misleading, racist drum.

Well, it’s deeply misleading, and not a little racist. The source of the issue is a $30 million “Harm Reduction” program grant the Biden administration released, based on evidenced-based science that shows those programs do work, which is targeted at addicts struggling mostly with the opioid epidemic.

Below we’ll let Hayes Brown explain the program and the “racist, callous, cruel and counterproductive” spin being put on it – but we wanted to direct your attention to one particularly disingenuous player in this ugly game: MARSHA BLACKBURN.

Marsha is now threatening a government shutdown over this, saying it’s a “slap in the face to communities and first responders fighting against drugs flowing into our country”.

Does she think we’ve forgotten that she was one of the main culprits in allowing the opioid crisis to rage on, by carrying a bill to make it harder for the DEA to fight the opioid crisis?

Does Marsha really think we don’t remember how much blood she has on her hands?

As for the issue at the root of this,  Hayes Brown breaks it down here:

For the past week, conservative media has been yelling about the Biden administration supposedly spending $30 million on “crack pipes” for poor Black neighborhoods. The hysteria is a real throwback to the 1990s and that era’s barely coded racist panic about people who use crack, given the drug’s prevalence in and strong association with Black communities — and it does nothing to help the millions of people addicted to narcotics.

At the center of the uproar is a Department of Health and Human Services grant that funds harm-reduction programs. A departure from policies that stigmatize addiction and force people who use drugs into hiding, these programs provide community-based support that includes having staff available to prevent overdoses, offering counseling on addiction and swapping out syringes to prevent the spread of HIV.

He adds:

Nowhere in the grant are pipes mentioned — but from the blog’s report, it was off to the race-baiting. “Joe Biden’s latest idea is to pay Black people to smoke more crack,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Tuesday. Fox News’ website also leaned into the racial angle in its reporting, noting that the grant request document from HHS referenced an executive order focused on advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities.

Spinning a program meant to save lives into a program solely devoted to making crack more accessible in Black neighborhoods doesn’t happen by accident. It can only happen purposefully. It’s an echo of the mandatory minimums that for years made sure possession of crack cocaine drew harsher sentences than powder cocaine. It’s a remnant of the failed “tough on crime” approach to drug policy that has left hundreds of thousands incarcerated over the years and many, many more dead.

It also does nothing to help address the opioid crisis that Republicans accuse President Joe Biden of ignoring. There are millions of Americans out there who need help with their substance use disorder, enough that the grant HHS is distributing should be at least 10 times as large as it is. The attempts we’ve seen this week to prevent such people from getting that help are not just racist, they’re also callous, cruel and counterproductive.

And Marsha’s piling on this racist firestorm is especially hypocritical.

VIDEO: “THE PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE STATE”

VIDEO of the protestors who showed up to make their disapproval of Governor Lee known at the capitol this week.

 

 

INTERVIEW: ARSON AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD KNOXVILLE with ASHLEY COFFIELD

OPINION: I SPEAK FOR MYSELF, REP. TIM RUDD

Earlier this year, President Biden announced that employers with 100 or more employees will need to mandate COVID vaccines or weekly testing for their workers. Although this was intended to help ease the effects of the pandemic, many people believe this new mandate crosses the line; including TN representative Tim Rudd (R-MURFREESBORO).

Rudd, who wrote an opinion piece in The Tennessee Conservative in September, claims Biden isn’t helping anybody with this mandate, especially Tennesseans.

I, an East Tennessean with medical professionals in my family, am here to tell you that Rudd is wrong.

Nearly four months after this mandate was first implemented, a new variant of the virus has moved into our country, and (according to USA Facts) there is a daily average of 2,437 COVID cases in Tennessee. I do not believe the 20,000+ deaths my state has witnessed are something that should be politicized. My community, my family, and my friends are all suffering from COVID in different ways; I am not embarrassed to admit that my state needs help controlling the pandemic and its fatalities.

But, like Rudd, some of us feel this mandate couldn’t possibly be helpful since it was put in place by a Democrat. Rudd explicitly states that “you are either on Biden’s side or the side of Tennesseans”, and it is quite evident by his language that he believes Tennesseans don’t want to abide by this mandate.

While his beliefs are not far-fetched, Rudd has forgotten that Tennesseans, regardless of their political identification, do not want their voices muffled by politicians.

Tim Rudd does not speak for me or for other Tennesseans. We speak for ourselves. Our opinions, regardless of what they are, are special to us. We pick and choose our own battles, and we allow ourselves to have respect for one another.

Rudd’s willingness to assume that all of us feel threatened by a vaccine is insulting, and quite frankly, humiliating to myself and others that I know. His promises to protect all Tennesseans might as well be empty, as he seems to care only for certain groups of people.

His opinions, though not the same as mine, are ones that I respect. I ask that Rudd treat opposing views with the same respect that I offer him.

COVID is something we all wish would cease to exist. Nobody enjoys living in a global pandemic, especially one that has changed our realities so drastically, but it is our responsibility to take steps that protect ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody should have the opportunity to feel safe and to protect their communities, and in my opinion, this mandate helps to make that happen.

It is within all of our best interests to help protect each other and to acknowledge our differences instead of ignoring one another.

Lauren Barton is a sixteen-year-old writer living in the Knoxville area. She is the founder of Tectonic Magazine and often writes about local politics. You can follow their Twitter: @laurenbarton03

TODAY’S HOLLER: TRUMP VS. HIS BASE, GOV. LEE COOL WITH GUNS ON PLANES

TRUMP VS. HIS OWN BASE
When the former president revealed to Bill O’Reilly that he was in fact vaccinated and boosted (as are ALL the Fox News hosts who rail against the vaccine every night), and did his best to take credit for the rollout, his base was very upset. They can forgive insurrection against the country, stealing from his own charity, cheating on his pregnant wife, trying to overturn the election, and generally being the most corrupt president this country has ever seen… but telling the truth about a life-saving medicine? THAT SHALL NOT STAND. 

New Nashville resident Candace Owens tried to come to his rescue to give him a chance to retract, but to his credit, he didn’t. TRUMP TOLD CANDACE OWENS: “The vaccine worked… PEOPLE AREN’T DYING WHEN THEY TAKE THE VACCINE… if you do get it it’s a very minor form.”

He’s right. The vaccine is working as intended. The VAST majority of COVID hospitalizations are now unvaccinated people.

Of course, his base can’t handle the truth. They went nuts over this. ALEX JONES RIPPED TRUMP, saying he is “either completely ignorant or one of the most evil men who ever lived” 👀

Candace Owens then took to social media to say Trump was just too old and out of touch to use the internet to get *REAL* information from the Facebook fever swamps – we’re betting Trump didn’t like that one AT ALL. 

Of course, not everyone was upset with him. People who understand that the vaccine is working as intended were more than willing to credit Trump with getting this right. Even White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed Trump’s COVID vaccine recommendation… a sentence we never thought we’d type. 😷

But the backlash to Trump by his base for saying positive things about the vaccine has been severe. It seems the only thing they can’t forgive him for is telling even the slightest bit of truth about this life-saving medicine. Perhaps this is because many have lost their jobs or even gotten arrested over their refusal to take this life-saving medicine, clearly viewing it as a loyalty test, a way to show they support Trump to the bitter end.

But what do you do when even Trump doesn’t agree with taking that stance?

Life must get pretty confusing when you devote yourself to a grifter whose only true commitment is to himself.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We’ll be following this story closely. Please consider chipping in monthly if you’re not yet doing so, even if it’s just a few bucks – the monthly support truly keeps us going. 

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and here’s to a great New Year.

TODAY’S HOLLER:
LEE COOL WITH GUNS ON PLANES: Q: “Would you support guns on planes?” GOV. LEE: “That’s up to airlines.” 😲😳 Q: “Yet private companies can’t require employee vaccines?” LEE: “…uhhhh I didn’t agree with the bill I signed 🧐🙃…” How many different ways can Lee pander to extremists and fail to lead?

WAR BUDGET GOES UP EVEN DURING PEACE: 5% increase ($768 BILLION/year, $7.7 TRILLION/decade) to the war budget DURING PEACE — The GOP will vote for this but reject 1/5th of it for child care, pre-k, health care, climate, housing, etc? They care more about defense contractors than people.

Hospitalization rate by vaccine status… blue is unvaccinated… green is vaccinated… Get vaccinated. 😷

WHAT A SCHMECK: “I meant no disrespect” 🧐 – Jared Schmeck, who said “fuck you” by another name to Biden after a very cordial call in front of children, including his own, says he meant no disrespect, when in fact he meant only disrespect… Doing it is classless. Trying to walk it back is cowardly. Don’t be a Schmeck.

SCHMECK: “Trump is my president, the election was 100% stolen.”🙄 After saying he wasn’t a Trumper and “meant no disrespect”, the ex-cop who said “Fuck You” to Biden by a different name on a Santa call with kids (but says he’s a “Christian” first 🧐) sings a different tune to Bannon.

DEAD VOTER CLAIM DIES: “False claims thousands of ballots cast in the names of dead Georgia voters can rest in peace… Election investigators found just 4, all returned by relatives… latest in a series of unsubstantiated claims of fraud since debunked…”

It’s good that Georgia only found 4 ballots sent by relatives after death, but also— why are they getting fines when Crystal Mason (a black woman) got 5 years in Texas for thinking she could vote and casting a provisional vote that wasn’t even counted? Obscene.

LAWSUIT: “2 Georgia election workers who were the target of vote-rigging conspiracy theories sued far-right OANN & Giuliani for allegedly spreading lies about them…” (One is Ruby Freeman, who Kanye’s publicist and a Trump aide tried to pressure)

🚨BIDEN: “I support making an exception on voting rights for the filibuster.” #SaveDemocracy 🇺🇸

VP HARRIS: “Half of the senate (all the Republicans) REFUSE TO EVEN DEBATE voting rights legislation… Stand up before the American people. Defend your position. See if it stands up to logic and reason.” #EndTheFilibuster 🇺🇸

👂LISTEN: “Probably because you keep touching them, you nasty perv!” – CLEVELAND, TN televangelist Perry Stone interrupted during service 11/30 – he is accused of sexually harassing multiple ministry members. There is a federal investigation.

Paid for by taxing those who can afford it — thanks for the breakdown, Fox! imagine thinking these are bad things. 🧐🙃 #PassThePeoplesBudget

UNITED MINE WORKERS TO MANCHIN: “REVISIT YOUR OPPOSITION TO BBB” – America’s largest coal mining union that reps West Virginia miners is urging Senator Manchin to support Biden’s bill AND get voting rights legislation passed. 🇺🇸 🗣 

A fair question for Senator Schumer…

LEE WANTS THE RNC HERE IN 2024: Oh boy – this is just what we need around here. 🎪

LEE PUTS PRISON GUARDS OVER TEACHERS: Perhaps nothing shows Governor Lee’s misplaced priorities like his decision to have entry-level correctional officers earn what it takes a teacher with a bachelor’s degree TEN YEARS to make… budgets are moral documents.

LAKELAND COUNTY:  Anti-LGBT parents threaten to pull their kids out if the school board allows a GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCE to exist… board says it can’t pick which clubs to allow.🏳️‍🌈

MADISONVILLE: Officer Wes Martin for Monroe County Commission 1st District arrests a Latino man for “HOOTIN’ & HOLLERIN’” because he says he disturbed his coffee, then arrests the man filming it. They say he was annoyed the waitress played their music. Cops on power trips is a danger to us all.

UNDERCOVER KKK INFORMANT: “came across dozens of police officers, prison guards, sheriff deputies, other law enforcement officers involved with the klan and outlaw motorcycle groups…” – How many more must there be?

OFFICER FANONE RESIGNS: “Clearly there are some members of our department who feel their oath is to Donald Trump and not to the Constitution… I no longer felt like I could trust my fellow officers.” 😳 — Be alarmed. 🚨

FORCED BIRTH ACTIVISTS HAVE NO ANSWERS: Anti-reproductive freedom activists have very few answers as to why they also support cutting programs (Medicaid, food stamps, child care, etc.) that help women feel they can afford to go through with a pregnancy.

🎯 🇺🇸

NASHVILLE STRONG: Nashville restaurants Rodizio Grill & The Melting Pot post notes about the Christmas bombing 1 year ago: “A lot was lost but we remain grateful nobody was injured.” 

😳🌎

In case you’re wondering, this is what we got everyone we know for Christmas…

And while we’re talking about Marsha, let’s always remember this little gem…

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BOWLING & REPUBLICANS PEDDLE VACCINE DISINFO IN COMMITTEE

 “IT’S IN THE INTEREST OF THIS COMMITTEE TO NOT GIVE DISINFORMATION”

As TN GOP legislators (especially Janice Bowling) peddle blatant vaccine disinfo to resist OSHA rules, saying it doesn’t work/isn’t a vaccine, etc…  Democrats Johnson, Campbell, Stewart push back.
Dangerous nonsense from elected officials.

INTERVIEW: JB SMILEY JR., CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR

We’re joined LIVE by JB Smiley Jr., a Memphis councilman running for governor of Tennessee as a Democrat.

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW below. CLIP HERE. Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE: GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE:

GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

At Governor Lee’s press conferences, in the presence of statewide media and TV cameras, he presents himself as someone who personally believes masks work. It’s not that he shares the opinion of anti-mask extremists who think masks are tyranny, he assures us – it’s just that he believes people in Tennessee should have the final say over whether or not their kids wear masks to school.

Clearly he has done the polling and decided that middle ground is the safest place for him to live.

Not firmly on either side. One foot in each camp. Tell the pro-mask parents they’re right about the efficacy of masks, while telling the anti-mask parents they’re right about “freedom” and all that.

His opt out executive order was the legislative manifestation of this wishy-washiness – not a “mask mandate ban” by name, but one in spirit. It allowed the anti-maskers to feel like they had won, while allowing Lee to pretend he hadn’t actually banned mask mandates – even though he had (as a judge in Memphis seems to have figured out).

But underneath it all, Lee’s attempt to present himself as a personal believer in masks doesn’t pass the smell test. He may have spent state money on a “mask up” ad campaign… his Health Department may have “recommended” them… but if Lee really thinks they work, why isn’t he wearing one?

Why with cases skyrocketing and hospitalizations at all time highs was he just recently pictured with kids, inside a school, maskless? And why did he POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, as if to say it was the right way to behave? Why even bother pretending to think masks are the right thing to do if he’s not going to lead by example?

The truth is, Lee is either an anti-masker at heart, or a coward.

If he truly believes wearing masks are the right thing to do, he should be doing it. But doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do is not in Lee’s DNA.

Leadership is simply not in his bag of tricks.

Lee has shown us time and again he will always say the most politically convenient thing in the moment. He will always follow the way he thinks the polling goes.

But leaders aren’t supposed to follow the way the wind is blowing. Leaders are supposed to lead.

And because our state doesn’t have a leader, but instead has a man in charge who is first and foremost worried about pandering to extremists, 27 school districts are closed, at least 8 teachers are dead, our hospitals are pleading for help, and we have the worst outbreak in the country (one of the worst in the world)

We are paying a heavy price for Lee’s failure to lead.

Setting a bad example comes at great cost.

Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler