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Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed

OPINION: Country Stars Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed

By

Justin Kanew

By now most of you have seen the recent video of Morgan Wallen using the “N word” in Nashville, which shook the country music world.

His label dropped him. Radio stations stopped playing his songs. The fallout was significant. 

This opinion piece by Charlane Oliver of the Equity Alliance tackles the racial significance of the incident as it pertains to country music. It’s a worthwhile read.

Now this week we heard from another country star, Luke Combs, who says “there’s no excuse” for his use of Confederate flag imagery in his performances, and acknowledges the hurt and pain it caused.

Both artists are apologetic, and seek forgiveness. But apologies are easy. There’s another step they could take that would help bring about some actual progress – not only in country music, but in Nashville specifically, Tennessee in general, and America as a whole.

They could speak out about the KKK Grand Wizard statue that still sits prominently in our capitol.

Yes, you heard that right – Tennessee still holds a statue of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, in a place of prominence in the state capitol building. Forrest was a Confederate General who led the Fort Pillow Massacre, during which many black Union soldiers were slaughtered even after surrender, then went on to become the KKK’s first Grand Wizard.

Defenders of the Forrest bust claim he was eventually reformed. That he changed his tune in his later years. Regardless of the veracity of that claim, they can’t erase the harm he caused, and what he represents to the many black Tennesseans who have been calling for the statue’s removal.

Legislators like Rep. Mike Sparks, who refuses to even admit the Civil War was fought over slavery, say they’re against “whitewashing history” – ignoring the fact that it’s the statues themselves that whitewash history, treating Confederate generals who rose up against our country as heroes.

There’s a reason KKK members posed proudly with the statue when it was erected.

The fight to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue has been going on for years. There have been countless protests. Pastors, students, activists, and legislators have all made their voices heard… but still it remains.

Last year a big hurdle was overcome, as the Tennessee State Capitol Commission finally voted to move it despite “NO” votes from Senator Jack Johnson on behalf of the TN Senate Republican caucus and Rep. Matthew Hill on behalf of the TN House Republican caucus.

The next step was supposed to come this week, when the Tennessee Historical Commission was scheduled to vote on the Capitol Commission’s recommendation, but because of the cold weather it has been delayed until March 9th.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Randy Mcnally and Speaker Cameron Sexton have been busy trying to delay it even further, claiming the issue isn’t properly before the Historical Commission and asking the attorney general to weigh in with an opinion.

Delay, delay, delay. It’s obvious Mcnally and Sexton and their caucuses are doing all they can to keep this hurtful statue in place because the cries of black Tennesseans and their allies are not enough.

But what if they were to hear from entirely different voices? What if Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs were to show they truly do understand how much pain their words and actions have caused, and speak out about the bust, encouraging Mcnally and Sexton to drop their challenge to its removal, and asking the Historical commission to vote to remove it once and for all?

It would be a healing moment for country music, our state, and their souls.

“These elected officials aren’t listening to black Tennesseans,” says Pastor Chris Williamson of Strong Tower Bible Church, who has been involved with the statue issue for quite some time, and recently spoke out about it at a hearing. “They aren’t even listening to their black colleagues who have to walk by that statue every day and be reminded of what it represents. Maybe white country music stars are exactly who they need to hear from. Words of encouragement from Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs for them to do the right thing could go a long way.”

A long way indeed.

Taking a position on this controversial topic probably wouldn’t be easy for country music stars like Wallen & Combs. But very often doing the right thing isn’t.

 

Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler. Foller him on Twitter here.

Tennessean Insurrectionists and the Importance of Antifascism

Journalists Abby Lee Hood and Matt Bastin join to talk about Tennesseans’ involvement in the undemocratic coup attempt by MAGA insurrectionists that took place at our Capitol last week. We explore the moment we are in and where to go from here, including how it is more important now than ever to include antifascism into everything we do. Not only is supporting antifascism the right thing to do, but we will never pass a Green New Deal or any other progressive legislation if we don’t both practice antifascism and push for democratic reforms.

Read Matt and Abby Lee’s piece in Tennessee Lookout that inspired this episode

Support Abby Lee

Support Matt

Read Angela Davis’ Abolition Democracy Beyond Empire Prisons & Torture

Sunrise Tennessee Interest Form

Join DSA

Volunteer for The Equity Alliance

Find out what Native Land you are living on

Follow Sunrise Tennessee on Twitter and Facebook.

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

TN’S MEDICAID BLOCK GRANT: A CAP IS A CUT

TN’S MEDICAID BLOCK GRANT: A CAP IS A CUT

by Kristen Grimm

In the waning days of the Trump administration they have just now approved Tennessee’s request to turn our Medicaid funding into a Block Grant, putting the health care of our neediest citizens into the hands of Governor Lee and the TN GOP. Lee and the GOP in our state have shown us in recent years they are comfortable with human suffering by refusing to expand Medicaid, rejecting $1 Billion yearly in health care funding, and we’ve seen them sit on over $700 million in TANF funds, so putting this giant sum of money into their hands with fewer strings attached is entirely unjustified and unwise.

A block grant would be a cap in federal funding to Medicaid. And let me be clear: A cap is a cut. The idea that the block grant approval will expand coverage is politically deceitful and sinister.

During the Trump administration’s attempt to cut Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, they also tried to pass block grants to drastically cut funding to Medicaid.

Healthcare advocacy organizations and people like myself fought hard to protect this nation’s Children’s Hospitals and Medicaid recipients from suffering the potentially catastrophic consequences of capping the federal funding structures to Medicaid.

Block grants were so dangerous to children’s hospitals, the Children’s Hospital Association publicly came out against block granting our federal Medicaid program.

At the time of the cuts, 54% of impatient revenues for all our nation’s children’s hospitals were paid for by Medicaid and 63% of all our nation’s emergency department revenues were paid for by Medicaid.

What we see here was a measure that is so dangerous that the Children’s Hospital Association had to fight against it because every children’s hospital in this nation was at risk of being catastrophically harmed. When there is a capped concrete ceiling for federal Medicaid funding there’s absolutely no way you can expand services in a boxed measure of fiscal containment.

Block grants being proposed by the Trump administration were one of the cruelest measures that they have tried to invoke upon our nation’s federal departments.

This shows us the nature of Governor Lee and the Trump administration’s immorality that they would mess with children’s hospitals. But this is what the Republican leaders are doing. They are not only putting our children’s hospitals at risk, but they are also harming the elderly and vulnerable people all across this state. Thankfully it looks like the Biden administration will be able to reverse this measure before TN has time to do any harm to the most vulnerable in our state.

Kristen M. Grimm
Medicaid and Medicare Advocate
Founder and President
Mothers for Medicare for All

Marquita Bradshaw on Where to Go From Here

“We can look toward Georgia, but I was taught if you want your grass to be green, you need to fertilize and water your own grass.” – Marquita Bradshaw talking with Wade Munday on #ACaseOfTheMundays about where to go from here in Tennessee.

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

GUEST COLUMN: “BIG DATA ON ELECTION NIGHT”

Mark D. Harmon is a professor of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee

“BIG DATA ON ELECTION NIGHT”

From the Not-So-Farfetched File…

RACHEL MADDOW: Good evening, and welcome to MSNBC’s Election Night 2020 coverage.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We still have two hours to go before voting locations close on the East Coast, but we do have public opinion polling to give us some fascinating insights into the electorate.

MADDOW: For that we go to Steve Kornacki at the big board.

KORNACKI: That’s right, Rachel and Brian. We’ve been able to use what data experts call common reference points to link standard election polls to all sorts of other Big Data information. Let’s start with comparisons to 2016.

Donald Trump is down ten points among pick-up truck drivers, but up two points among drivers of vehicles with slogans or female images on mud flaps. Joe Biden’s commuting habits seem to be paying off for him. He is winning three-to-one among people who’ve ever traveled by train, two-to-one among those who as a child had model trains. He’s also winning big among those who ever watched Soul Train, or can sing at least some of the words to “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

MADDOW: You have other information about Georgia as well?

KORNACKI: Yes, we discovered that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, known for his botched response to coronavirus, is now less popular than the virus itself.

WILLIAMS: But he’s not on the ballot this time around.

KORNACKI: That’s right, but our numbers indicate he would lose a recall effort by roughly twelve to one.

MADDOW: Any other big surprises?

KORNACKI: Yes, going back to 2016 comparisons, turnout overall could be up by as much as ten percentage points. Those who think it’s okay to cast a third-party protest vote is down 93 percent.

WILLIAMS: I understand you also have social media data.

KORNACKI: Oh, large amounts of social media data. Trump and Biden overall are dead even among Facebook and Twitter users-with Trump holding a strong lead among first-time users from foreign domains.

Looking at just Twitter users, Trump leads among those with spelling and grammatical errors in their posts, and with those who use multiple exclamation points, or who link to conspiracy sites. Biden leads only among those who link to established news and information sites. And to draw users into reading such content, these people may have used growth services like Upleap or buzzoid to ensure that they can boost the number of followers that they have to their account. Trump and Biden may also do this if they get given the chance.

We have even more on tweets. Song birds that tweet daily are breaking big for Biden. Parrots are tilting toward Trump. We’re pretty sure Big Bird, and most of Sesame Street-excepting Oscar the Grouch-will be going for Biden. Trump, by the way, scores well among vultures and all creatures who feed on dead flesh.

MADDOW: Wow, that’s a broad database.

KORNACKI: Yes, it is. We even have foreign data. Biden is doing much better than Trump with Americans living in France, those who ever have visited France, and among French people who wish they could vote in this election. Trump leads only among those who can’t find France on a map.

WILLIAMS: You also have some other data you’ve told us is hard to categorize.

KORNACKI: Correct. Trump is down ten points among those who use “summer” as a verb, but he’s up five points among residents of mobile homes who have thought about bleaching their lungs or admit to snorting Lysol.

We can’t give away too much, but I can say all indications are this election night will please a lot of people who shop on Thursdays, post photos of children, and drive automatic transmissions.

Mark D. Harmon, a professor of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee, is an award-winning freelance columnist.

VIDEO: “OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS BROKEN”

WATCH a health care pricing expert tell the TN House Insurance Committee health care costs – particularly hospital costs – far outpace inflation, PRICE VARIANCE is a huge problem… but NOT with Medicare & Medicaid. #M4A #ExpandMedicaid

It’s almost like downward pressure on costs is a good thing.

Of course, the legislators only see it as those programs offer lower reimbursement rates – but at least everyone is covered, and as we learn from this expert’s testimony often the hospital prices are skyrocketing to make up for uncompensated care — which means Tennessee not expanding medicaid and rejecting $1 Billion each year IS COMING OUT OF OUR POCKETS ANYWAY.

From the TN HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE yesterday… Hospital service costs are increasing at 5x inflation:

Hospital price variance is wild, depending where you go (less competition = higher cost – hello Ballad Health!) the “equivalent of paying $14 PER GALLON for a tank of gas”

 

Governor Lee To Sign Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill That Targets His Own Sister

You’ve probably heard that yesterday the TN Senate started off the legislative session by passing a bill which targets LGBT people and allows state-supported adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people.

The bill will now head to Governor Lee’s desk, and Lee has said he will sign it.

What you may not know is Governor Lee’s own sister is married to a woman, and therefore is a part of the LGBT community targeted by his party’s bill.

Here’s @ScoopNashville’s tweet about Cynthia Lee’s wedding:

And here’s Cynthia Lee with Bill’s wife Maria outside his campaign headquarters in Franklin:

Tennessee is #1 in medical bankruptcies, #2 in rural hospital closures, gets an “F” in education funding, and has the maternal mortality rate of a third world country… yet this is what the TN GOP and Bill Lee are focused on?

Here’s how they voted — GREEN means they voted for the bill. Red against.

Cynthia and her wife deserve to be treated just like everyone else in America, and should not be targeted and made to feel less than by our laws.

This adoption bill is especially ugly because it would have the effect of robbing loving homes from children who might otherwise not be able to find one.

If you agree Governor Lee should VETO THIS BILL, Holler at him HERE.

 

INTERVIEW: KEEL HUNT – Tennessean Columnist & Former Special Asst. to Lamar Alexander

Holler co-founder Justin Kanew interviews KEEL HUNT, Tennessean columnist and former Special Assistant to Lamar Alexander who recently spoke out about the need to speak up in the time of Trump in this poignant column: “I’m Done Being Quiet”.
PODCAST on iTunes. (13 mins)
CLIP:  “I think it’s fear that leads to silence.”
Full FACEBOOK LIVE interview.

VIDEO: IMPEACHMENT EVE IN TENNESSEE

Patriots braved the cold at rallies across TN on the eve of an historic vote to #DefendOurDemocracy. ‬

‪This is about country, not party. Nobody is above the law. That’s what makes America Great. 🇺🇸

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TN Dems Call On Rep. Curcio & Speaker Sexton To Keep Their Word, Hold #ExpelByrd Hearings

Tennessee still has an admitted child sex abuser sitting in a State Rep seat.

Now that the Attorney General has said expelling him would be constitutional, it’s time for Tennessee Republicans to stop harboring him.

HOLLER AT THEM HERE:

[email protected] 615-741-3513 

[email protected] 615-741-2343