During a committee meeting a few months ago, Republicans Senator Janice Bowling and Rep. Mary Littleton perpetuated the myth that there are students in Tennessee identifying as cats and using “litter boxes” to go to the bathroom in some Tennessee schools.

The lie is part of a wave of misinformation intended to harm public education by giving public schools a bad reputation, and also to target LGBTQ people. As SALON puts it:

“The first notable instance of furry panic occurred when right-wing activists pushed a false claim about schools in Michigan placing litter boxes in bathrooms to allow furry students to use them, and the bogus rumors about furry infiltration into the public education system have only grown from there.”

Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire, known for his transphobia, talked about it in an anti-trans propaganda film he made, and Joe Rogan helped add fuel to the fire before eventually admitting he had no evidence of it.

That brings us back to Janice and Mary. Since their comments were made when the legislature was out of session we didn’t have a chance to ask them about it until yesterday, when we finally caught Senator Bowling coming out of Day 1 of the Tennessee state senate.

We asked her if being featured on an NBC NEWS debunking was enough to get her to admit she was wrong and apologize.

Surprise! She would not.

Instead, Janice doubled down. Senator Bowling repeatedly insisted the myth of furries in schools was not a lie, but instead of “litter boxes in schools”, which is what she initially claimed, she now said it was “LEASHES” in schools – meaning kids were walking around attached to leashes intended for pets.

The natural question: “Where is this happening?”

“Franklin County schools,” Janice said, claiming she talked with the superintendent, who told her about all of these leashes and furries and such.

The thing is, Franklin County Schools has telephones. The superintendent’s name is Stanley Bean.

So we called Mr. Bean and asked him ourselves about Janice Bowling’s accusations that his schools had children walking around on leashes.

Mr. Bean’s response: “There are no litter boxes in our schools. There are no students on leashes. I don’t know where Senator Bowling is coming up with this stuff.”

Apparently Mr. Bean was made aware of Bowling’s lies about furries and litter boxes in their schools back when she initially talked about them in committee, when the superintendent of Tullahoma schools, who is a friend of Bean’s, told him Senator Bowling was claiming such things were going on in their district.

Superintendent Bean says he called Senator Bowling himself and asked her where she was getting that information. Bowling told him it was coming from parents, so Mr. Bean did the logical thing and asked Senator Bowling to bring the parents to a meeting with him so they could talk about what they had seen, and where.

Bowling agreed.

When the time came for the meeting, Senator Bowling showed up, but there were no parents to be found. “She told me they were afraid to tell me in person,” Bean said. “So I told her that without any evidence she needed to retract what she had said about out schools. She said she would.”

Bean says the next thing he knew, Bowling was on local radio – but instead of retracting and apologizing, Senator Bowling was claiming to have put a stop to all the furrying and litter boxing and what-not, by issuing an order to Mr. Bean to put a stop to it.

Bowling made herself sound not like a fool who had fallen for a lie, but a hero.

Bean was angry. But he decided to let it go.

Unfortunately for Senator Bowling, letting things go isn’t something we at the Holler are very good at. So yesterday we asked Bowling about it at the legislature, and instead of apologizing, she insisted Mr. Bean told her there were kids on leashes in Franklin County Schools, and angrily told us we simply couldn’t handle the truth.

As it turns out, it’s Senator Bowling who very clearly has trouble with the truth.

There are no furries in Franklin County Schools. Or Leashes. Or Litter Boxes.

Senator Janet Bowling has been duped, but instead of admitting her mistake, she childishly and irresponsibly added to the problem by piling lie after lie on top of it – behavior unbecoming of anyone, but especially of a sitting state Senator who is supposed to be representing her constituents and her local school districts, not lying about them and defaming them.

At least Meow we know the truth.


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It has to feel weird to be one of those MAGA folks out there calling themselves a “strict constitutionalist” these days while supporting a defeated ex-president who just called for the constitution to be “terminated” because of a Twitter thread with no actual news in it.

To bring you up to speed, new Twitter chief Elon Musk, who has been embracing the far right lately in a big way – bringing even the worst Nazis and insurrectionists back into the Twitter fold and even posting Nazi memes himself (and amplifying Kanye West hours after he expressed his love for Hitler) – teased the release of what he called the “TWITTER FILES”.

Elon said it would be a series of internal docs that delivered the goods on the company’s throttling of the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the 2020 election. Instead the thread (posted by Matt Taibbi, who has a problematic history of misogyny that goes back to his time in RUSSIA, of all places) really just showed that Twitter was making a good faith effort not to allow yet another attempt at election tampering by foreign actors to sway a presidential election in Trump’s favor AGAIN.

Was it the right decision? Maybe, maybe not. But was it understandable that Twitter was wary of allowing that sketchily-sourced story that originated with Rudy Giuliani, who was up to his eyeballs in lies and surrounded by shady foreign players, not to proliferate on their platform? It absolutely was.

To this day it’s still unclear what the source of the laptop really was, and the mac store guy – who will only talk to Newsmax, etc. – has changed his story more than once. 🚨This Extremely IMPORTANT piece from wash post (with NO PAYWALL) reminds us how shady the sourcing of the Hunter Laptop was/is, and why Twitter and other outlets had EVERY REASON to be suspicious of the Mac store dude, Giuliani, etc — EVEN FOX PASSED ON IT.

None of that context was included in the thread. Instead it was couched as evidence of government interference in an election, even though as FRANKLIN, TN conservative DAVID FRENCH points out the Biden campaign was not the government, so the tweet Taibbi posted of an email where they ask to have Hunter’s dick pics removed was by definition NOT “government tampering”.

French says “Elon Musk & Tucker Carlson Don’t Understand the First Amendment”  – and he’s right. Twitter is a private company—not the federal government, which means they are allowed to make editorial decisions with an eye towards their bottom line.

It’s not a free speech violation, it’s capitalism.

FRENCH: “no amount of misguided rhetoric can transform a Twitter story into a government scandal.”

Ultimately nothing in the Taibbi thread was really news. We knew Twitter had agonized over what to do about the laptop story. We’ve even heard their executives concede that throttling it may have been the wrong thing to do. What it really showed was a company stressing over how to do the right thing.

The lack of revelations led to Rolling Stone calling it a  “SNOOZEFEST” 💤 😴 and NBC rightly framing it as a “rehashing” of old news.

🎯 Another conservative Tim Miller sumned it up by saying “In reality, all they really had was a digital erection.” – pointing out that nobody has a constitutional right to share Hunter’s dick pics.

The problem is, none of these criticisms will pierce the bubble. It’s already being taken for granted in MAGA circles that this thread is the smoking gun, because their Dear Leader Trump has told them as much – and is now literally saying the constitution must be “TERMINATED” over it, so he can be installed as president once again.

As LIZ CHENEY says. “No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.” 🇺🇸

Project Lincoln (former/current Republicans) rightly say “Trump’s comments should have been immediately condemned by every Republican in the nation… Trump and the MAGA movement must be defeated of the 🇺🇸 experiment will come to a crashing end.”

🔥Yet as Conservative Charlie Sykes points out, he is still the 2024 GOP frontrunner: “The last 2 weeks: Trump pledged solidarity with 1/6 rioters, dined w/ fans of Hitler, called to terminate the Constitution— And remains the clear GOP nomination favorite. No wonder they’d rather talk about Hunter’s dick pix.”

Meanwhile Elon Musk is out there acting like he’s some sort of hero of free speech, even though he just banned Kanye West for posting a Swastika, and he won’t reinstate Alex Jones because he personally lost a child and knows how that feels.

Elon didn’t pay $44 BILLION to erase the lines around free speech. He did it so he can be the one to draw them.

Question for FOX NEWS — Does this count as election theft also or is it only when it happens against Trump? We’ll hang up and listen.

Yet again, the silence from Republicans as their party’s standard-bearer shows his authoritarian streak is as strong as ever makes them complicit. We will continue to point that out at every turn.

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P.S. – Stop for a second and imagine how we would view this from afar if this was happening in another country. 🇺🇸


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OH HEY TUCKER: As they go after Hunter for his laptop/emails, important to remember one of them is Tucker Carlson asking him to help his kid get into college.

NORTH CAROLINAAfter a gunfire attack on electrical substations caused a regional power outage, the sheriff answers “anything’s possible” if it was related to a drag show happening at the time.😳 BUT THE SHOW WENT ON 🗣️👇🏽🏳️‍🌈 ❤️


WHAT IS “WOKE” ANYWAY?: Y’all— Desantis suspended a state attorney for being “WOKE”, so his lawyers had to define it. Their answer: “The belief there are systemic injustices in 🇺🇸 and the need to address them.”🤔 Translation: they’re fighting to suppress an OBVIOUS TRUTH.

NOT PRO-LIFE🇺🇸 has higher maternal mortality rates than other countries (because we don’t have universal health care) — and Tennessee is at the bottom (because we haven’t expanded Medicaid) If you don’t support those policies, stop calling yourself “pro-life”

HAMILTON COUNTY: “It hurts… but I’m not leaving. I want a better future for my children.” HAMILTON COUNTY in the national news for extremist School board member Rhonda Thurman calling Latino students a “burden” — leading to harassment & threats towards families.

SECRETLY WOKE SOUTHERN MEN: We can’t get enough of these “Secretly Woke Southern Men” videos from Shane Hartline, please never stop 😂😂.

HOSPITAL STATEMENT: “a temporary pause to review current practices” Methodist Le Bonheur in MEMPHIS finally goes public with why they suddenly canceled treatment for transgender patients (as Republicans attack them).

HAMILTON COUNTY JUDGE: “THIS IS ABSURD… I WILL NOT SIGN THIS.” Remember road raging Michael Harvey, who followed a woman & son home and threatened them? DA Coty Wamp’s office tried to give him a plea deal the victim was against (and he blamed Crohn’s disease🤔)

ALSO IN CHATTANOOGA🤔CHARGES DROPPED — DUI, drug possession charges against Davis Lundy (ex-adviser to Hamilton  County Mayor Weston Wamp DROPPED despite an open bottle of wine, failed test, 23 grams of what he says was CBD. Wamp’s sister Coty Wamp is the DA. She handed it off to Marion County ADA Cara Sapp.

Seems Rep. Matt Gaetz did not get a warm welcome in Nashville this weekend…

Can someone ask Marsha Blackburn if we’re supposed to credit Biden with this? Or does he only get blame when it goes up? Just so we’re all on the same page.

Ruth covers authoritarianism for a living.

Stuart worked on 5 Republican presidential campaigns 👇🏽

PSA: If you can’t see how true this is, you’re probably not a moderate. 🎯

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OP-ED: “TN Republicans Ducking Debates Shows They Know Their Ideas Aren’t Popular”

This op-ed by Holler editor Justin Kanew was originally printed in the Tennessean

In recent weeks we’ve seen Republicans debate Democratic challengers all over the country, in both red and blue states.

Even GOP incumbents like Gov. Abbott in Texas and Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin stood on stages next to Beto O’Rourke and Mandela Barnes respectively and let the citizens hear from the candidates side by side. An essential moment in any thriving democracy.

Yet here in Tennessee, it’s crickets from Republicans. Whether it’s incumbents like Governor Lee or incumbent Republican members of Congress (i.e., Mark Green, Tim Burchett, etc.) or candidates for an open congressional seat like Andy Ogles.

Tennessee Republicans are ducking their opponents, hiding from debate requests, and counting on Tennesseans to elect them purely because of the “R” next to their name.

Here are a few ideas about why they won’t debate

What are they so afraid of? Clearly they don’t actually think their ideas are very popular, and don’t have a whole lot of confidence in themselves to convey those ideas. One can only conclude they believe they have more to lose than to gain by actually letting the voters hear what they have to say.

They must know their draconian positions on things like their “no exceptions” abortion ban even forcing raped teenage girls to carry to term – would not sound good out loud next to a Democrat fighting for women to have control over their own bodies.

Or maybe they don’t want to have to yet again declare that even after the Jan. 6th hearings proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the election was not stolen from Trump — with his own team telling us he knew he lost all along and had planned to say the election was stolen as far back as July 2020 — that they won’t accept that President Biden was “legitimately elected” (Governor Lee recently dodged the question from The Tennessean yet again).

It would be embarrassing to concede on a debate stage that they’ve been running cover for an insurrection by minimizing the tragic events of that day ever since, casting doubt on an electoral process so many Americans gave their lives to preserve. That anti-American, fascist position, where you don’t accept the results of elections unless you get the one you want, would not look good next to a Democrat who respects our democracy regardless of the outcome.

Not all Tennesseans are feeling the prosperity that is touted

Then there are other pesky facts they may not want Tennesseans to hear – like the fact that we’ve lost $22.5 billion not expanding Medicaid while we lead the nation in medical bankruptcies. Or that we’re at the bottom in per pupil spending, poverty, infant and maternal mortality, and violent crime.

Democratic candidates for the fifth, sixth, and seventh congressional districts Clay Faircloth (sixth), Heidi Campbell (fifth), Odessa Kelly (seventh) and Randall Copper (seventh) respond to questions during a primary candidate forum hosted by The Tennessean at George Shinn Events Center on Lipscomb University's Campus Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Those facts hurt the narrative Republicans here want us to believe, which is that everyone in Tennessee is thriving — when it’s really just those at the top who fund their campaigns who are doing well, while many (especially rural) parts of our state struggle to stay afloat.

They also wouldn’t want you to hear that it’s the Democratically-run cities that prop up the statistics about Tennessee’s economy they love to tout, or that we get 40% of our state budget from the federal government they love to vilify while simultaneously taking money from.

It would be one thing if they were actually working to fix these problems, but they’re doing the opposite. Lee and Green and Burchett and Sen. Marsha Blackburn love to bemoan inflation, and gas prices, and health care costs, yet on a national level our Republicans oppose every effort to address these issues, from a cap on price-gouging at the pump, to a cap on insulin prices, to a bipartisan infrastructure bill (they shamelessly go around taking credit for anyway), to taxing the super-rich.

All citizens lose when candidates don’t debate

The truth is, Tennessee Republicans believe you don’t care. They think all that matters to you is that they have an “R” next to their name, which means they can continue to oppose any effort to actually address our problems and improve our lives without ever being held accountable.

Justin Kanew

So they’ll rob you of the chance to hear from them on a debate stage or go years without having an in-person town hall (like Marsha Blackburn), and we’ll continue along this tragic trajectory.

Until that changes — until we start voting for the person, and the ideas, rather than the letter next to their names — our state will continue to be at the bottom in virtually every important category.

Not every county is Williamson County, governor. Every candidate should debate, regardless of party. When Tennessee Republicans refuse to debate, it’s Tennesseans who lose.

Justin Kanew runs The Tennessee Holler. He ran for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in the old District 7 (Rep. Mark Green’s seat) in 2018.


“People are Crazy and Times are Strange” – Bob Dylan

Never did those lyrics strike closer to home than here in Tennessee where recent FBI data now ranks this state as having the 3rd highest rate of violent crime, robbery, aggravated assaults and homicides. Fortunately, the November 8th election provides Tennessee voters an opportunity to change those frightening statistics by electing a new governor together with state and federal legislators.

Around the country other states will be doing the same, the results of which will decide which political party has majority control over the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This election will be definitive in determining the values, direction, and type of government American voters wish to have and which political party they feel best serves those interests. It’s not mere hyperbole to state that now more than ever, democracy is on the ballot.

However, equally notable is Tennessee’s poor record for voter participation – 46th worst in 2020 – as highlighted by an abysmal 17% voter turnout in the August mid-term elections. Such voter apathy may well come back to haunt Tennesseans since according to analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, it
can be expected that should MAGA-Republicans maintain legislative control in Southern states, particularly those with diverse racial populations, more restrictive voting laws will be enacted in an effort to decrease voter turnout among those most likely to vote for Democrats.

With that in mind, it’s important to note that despite the fact that 62% of Americans remain in favor of abortion, Republican lawmakers, beholden to their far-right religious base and emboldened by their success in outlawing abortion in half the country, have now set their sights on making criminalization of abortion the law of the land. Therefore, the outcome of November’s election will be critical to protecting the lives and well-being of millions of Americans, men and women alike since passage of the legislation needed to restore reproductive privacy and freedom of choice hinges on the election of a Democratic congressional majority.

So what can we expect should a Republican majority take control of both houses of Congress? Undoubtedly in typical fashion they will continue obstructing whatever bills Democrats might propose, regardless the benefits to the American public. Additionally, we shall see ongoing attempts to “stack” the judicial system and the Supreme Court with unqualified, but like-minded conservative judges.
However, their first order of business will likely be the disbanding of the January 6th Committee and the dismissal of further investigations, accountability and/or prosecution for those responsible in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

There is also a cockamamie scheme to impeach President Biden for unspecified “high crimes and misdemeanors.” More disturbing are Republican threats to cut the programs at the heart of our social welfare system: Social Security and Medicare. Republicans have also said they would pass a law to make the 2017
Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate entities permanent, which economists say would further exacerbate inflation.

Then there are ongoing threats to refuse to raise the debt ceiling serving as a cudgel to enable the “reform” of Social Security and Medicare including raising the age of eligibility. And should they achieve a legislative majority, Republicans are also signaling withdrawal of support for Ukraine.

It should also be remembered that this GOP, nationally and locally, aided by Fox News, continues to cast aspersions on the sanctity of our electoral process by clinging to and promulgating the Big Lie that Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election, despite widespread and definitive evidence to the contrary.

Reflective of an increasing atmosphere of social and political intolerance are legislative attacks on Tennessee’s LGBQT community by extremist Republican legislators which helps to foment and encourage anger and hate-mongering as seen by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent report ranking Tennessee 2nd highest nationally for number of hate groups.

All of which increases the importance of who will be Tennessee’s next governor. Governor Bill Lee is campaigning for reelection on the basis that he has helped Tennessee families. Sadly, that seems remarkably disingenuous when one considers that Tennessee’s lack of gun safety laws have resulted in a firearm mortality rate which is 10th highest nationally. Indeed, Everytown reports that guns and gun violence are the leading cause of death for Tennessee children and teens. Lacking sensible gun control, those numbers continue to climb.

Under this administration, aided by an extreme ultra-conservative legislature, the well-being of Tennessee families has garnered scant attention since NoKidHungryTN reports that more than 19% of children in Tennessee live in “food insecure” homes.

World Population Review figures for 2022 rank Tennessee as having the 10th highest rate of poverty and the 2nd highest number of minimum-wage workers laboring for $7.25 an hour. Certainly not figures to be proud of.

Also alarming is the fact that while Tennessee families struggle to feed, house and educate their children as a means to escape a life of poverty, this governor is committed to creating a religious autocracy which includes siphoning off tax-payer dollars from our public schools to for-profit charter schools which emphasize a conservative “Christian”curriculum.

These are just a few of reasons why it’s critical for Tennesseans to vote in this
election. Early voting runs from October 19 through November 3rd. Election Day is November 8th.

Voter information can be obtained at and at the League of Women Voters’ nonpartisan website

Vote as if your life depended on it. It very well may.

Chloe Cerutti lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Alan Levine Lashes Out At Phil Williams Over “Conflicts of Interest” Piece

These are the times we save receipts for. Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine took the time to lash out at Phil Williams for calling out the conflicts of interest of Governor Lee’s handpicked charter schools appeal board – but Phil is absolutely right.

Levine is hardly the best messenger for this, having been the subject of a 60 Minutes medicare fraud piece when he worked at HMA.