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No. 124: The Possibilities of an Island

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Bend the Ear · Always an Island · Missives · Stats · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Wandering the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. makes it clear what traditions the US draws influence from. From Titian to Rembrandt to Cezanne to John Singer Sargent, the lineage of the nation rests on that of its European forbears. It's something that is impossible to ignore as you wander the National Mall, look at the architecture, and take in the art. America is distinct from Europe in many, many ways, but its origin still lies across the pond. More on this soon.

Below, we ask the daring question "Who do Tennessee lawmakers really represent?", skim the local headlines, explore a permit fight in the English Channel which reveals some interesting side effects of Brexit, and much, much more.

Thanks for reading.



Who do Tennessee lawmakers really represent?

In the lead up to the Covid Extraordinary Session III, House Speaker Cameron Sexton had been championing the session for months. Triggered by the chaos of varying Covid related protocols along with push back from parents who desired to regain control over school Covid policies, the Tennessee General Assembly finally convened for the special session last week.

Though prompted in large part by concerned Tennesseans, the conversations during the three-day assembly notably revolved around the interests of different coalitions. This begs the question: who, exactly, has the ear of Tennessee lawmakers and what does that communicate to their constituents?

Tennessee legislation has a track record of supplementing Tennessee’s economy by catering to the needs of business sustainability and growth within the state. Therefore, it is no surprise that our state’s newest big business venture, Ford Motor Company, was mentioned multiple times during the Covid special session discussions.

Worried about new laws prohibiting the requirement of vaccinations for employees and the prevention of mask mandates in the workplace, Ford made their sentiments known. Legislators were bombarded with letters and texts from the company strongly urging them not to interfere with their workplace policies. In the end, a carve out was made that left Ford’s workplace mask mandates intact but the Tennessee General Assembly only wavered on their resolve to prevent vaccination mandates by creating special exemptions.

Another Oft Parroted Special Interest Group: Music Venues

On multiple occasions legislators advocated on the behalf of small and large music venues that operate in Tennessee.

From the Floor:

“What happens to our small entertainment venues when artists decide they don’t want to play anywhere if they’re not going to be protected?”

Rep. Clemmons (D-55th district)
“You know in my district I have a lot of music venues and a lot of these music venues have artists that require a covid free zone to perform.”

Rep. Beck (D-51st district)

Why did this drum up more special attention than the interests of other businesses and groups? During the pandemic the Music Venue Alliance Nashville (MVAN) was created. The MVAN is a local coalition made up of 15 local live music venues. Nashville music venues are also plugged into the newly launched National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) which was formed to lobby on behalf of its members.

The message to Tennesseans: Making a fuss might get you a session, but money and lobbying send stronger messages.

Starting in the 60s, Tennessee began transforming into the predictably red state we know today. One can even argue that it is currently made up of citizens who have a more “live and let live” approach to governmental affairs. Due to a combination of necessity and politics, the government reached farther into the everyday lives of Americans during Covid. When it became clear that the governing powers that be might not take their hands back out of the cookie jar, Tennesseans started to take notice.

A good example of this is the Williamson County Moms For Liberty movement. Though the group isn’t even a year old, it has already been smeared by media across the country but they have no intention of rolling over and yielding to the “new normal” of government overreach.

The group recently launched Williamson Families, a PAC created to help their voices be heard. Their mission was made crystal clear during an address made by Robin Steenman during Williamson Families’ PAC kickoff on Tuesday:

When you give to this PAC it will be used to course correct the county. For those that are wanting to run for school board and commissioner... and I want the diamonds in the rough. I don’t need more politicians. I want statesmen that are doing this out of their civic duty. They see a need for leadership in their county with conservative values and that that’s why they do it. Not for political power and not for personal gain.

Though the citizens of Tennessee who helped motivate the call-to-action that led to the Covid Extraordinary Session III didn’t quite make it into the conversations on the floor as frequently as other special interest groups, it’s clear that Tennesseans are planning to be part of the conversation going forward.

In the words of Robin Steenman, “...for those that are rooted in God, in family, and country, when the storm comes our roots get deeper.”



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  • Midtown apartment building sells for $37.96M (Post)
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Many times we forget that at the root of political action—most notably war—is the fight for control of resources. From opium to furs to oil to lithium, control and access to resources that enable the flourishing of a nation sit front and center. This fact tends to be more apparent when talking about international alliances. One such example is the row over Taiwan. Taiwan sits at a crucial chokepoint for Chinese maritime shipping activity, and additionally, sits as a subtle reminder of the now defunct People's Republic of China (PRC). Another is the US's involvement in the Middle East whose origins lie, obscured or not, in seeking greater control over the oil supply.

Across the pond, another "mini-Taiwan" style situation plays out around the UK's control of the Channel Islands which sit Northwest of France. Since Brexit, a sticking point has been the UK's repossession of its coastal waters from its former EU partner nations like France. As the UK enforces its sea borders and subtly begins to push French fishing ships away from its own territory, Macron and the French Parliament cry foul exacerbating the sleeping giant of French/English animosity.

At center of the debate is the granting of fishing licenses to French ships. The UK government has slowed its role on this front as has Jersey Island which is the largest of the Channel Islands. Jersey, similar in its relation to the UK as Puerto Rico, gets 95% of its power from the French mainland. The French government has accused it of refusing to grant additional licenses to French fishing vessels. In response, the French threatened to cut power to the island before walking back the ultimatum. Though UK officials claim they have granted 96% of licenses requested—according to the UK press—by French fishing boats, Macron and Co. remain convinced that they are getting shafted.

So, why has so minuscule and technical issue that accounts for 0.0000025% of French GDP begun to fester like the bite of a brown recluse? It appears there are two things going on. On the one hand, Boris Johnson, ever the populist, sees the row as an opportunity to stir up anti-French sentiments in his base to provide a convenient out should Brexit prove less than ideal. By sowing discord here, Johnson has begun to build the case for a convenient scapegoat should things go South.

On the other side of the Channel, France wants to ensure that the UK does not retain the benefits of being in the EU while offering nothing to its partner nations. Johnson's populist play makes the EU into a convenient foil for him to play off of leaving Macron to feel used and abused.

At its core, the tensions between the two nations exemplify many of the political divides in the US. On the one hand, you have the Brexiteers in the UK who have made a strong bet on national sovereignty against the "chauvinistic liberalism" of France which seeks to further establish the neoliberal world order best expressed through the EU. France is stuck in the position of representing itself and the EU in its protracted conflict with the UK, while the UK is free to represent only its own interests.

It's likely that the UK witnesses the benefits of leaving the EU in much the same way as a young Steve Jobs might have as he became disillusioned with the concept of Communism while living on an apple orchard—the origin of the name, Apple Computer—during his youth. In Walter Isaacson's biography, Jobs recounted how members of the commune would sneak into the kitchen at night and steal food for themselves. Later, it would turn out that the leader of the commune would go on to become, both figuratively and literally, a gold miner which only justified Jobs' instinctual rejection of movements later culminating in his elimination of Apple's philanthropic programs after taking back control of the company in 1997.

The experience shaped Jobs's view of people and made him skeptical of the "promises" of ideology. After this experience, Jobs embarked on his own venture founding Apple Computer which this newsletter is typed on every morning. Let's hope the UK can find a similar renewal as it rids itself of the delusions of the EU's global order.



  • If Tuesday's election night thriller showed us anything it's that Trump's clout is less necessary for Republicans to beat their opponents when they run on issues like education and stripping back Covid restrictions.
  • Biden blamed expensive oil on OPEC+, but he shut down the Keystone pipeline on his first day in office and offered little to no help in resolving the Colonial Pipeline hacking.
  • The US's First Amendment makes the regulation of political advertisements difficult whereas in much of Europe, political ads are regulated with little pushback from citizens. In the UK, there are no political ads on TV, for example.  Now the EU is stepping into to control "micro-targeted" ads


🖼 The Frist Art Museum has an exhibit celebrating ascendant Art Deco art from the 1920s and 1930s running until January.

🥃 Whiskey Jam @ Winner's Bar, 8p, Info


  • Frist Organizes First Major U.S. Exhibition Devoted to Medieval Art in Bologna—Opening Nov. 5 (Read)
Pure Cinema The first in Jerod Hollyfield's series explores the history of The Belcourt and its place in the city's zeitgeist (Read)

A Brief History of Nashville's Parks William Harwood kicks off his series exploring the parks of Nashville with a timeless view from Luke Lea Heights tracing the origins of the city, its park system, and possibly even life itself (Read)

✻ Three Takeaways from Special Session Tennessee Republicans draw a new line against federal overreach in Tennessee’s most recent special session (Read)

It's Not What You Think San Francisco's soft on crime initiatives border on neglect (Read)
Around the Web

♂︎ After 30 Years of Breeding Condors, a Secret Comes Out ‘Virgin birth’ might be more common in animals than we thought.

⦿ MLB Just Tried a Bunch of Experimental Rules in the Minors. How Well Did They Work? Several minor leagues served as the guinea pig for ideas that could improve the pace of play, including robo umps, pushing the mound back, and bigger bases. Were they effective?

♠︎ The new rules of medicine The pandemic has ushered in significant new changes to how the medical community operates. These "new rules" put an end to the inefficiencies and errors that have hampered scientific progress.

Political Theater Highlight Reel
  1. Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin sends a fruit basket with a 'thank you' card to the Lincoln Project who set up the fake "white supremacist" farce leading up to the election
  2. Lt. Gov of Virginia Winsome Sears challenges Joy Reid to have her on MSNBC if she's 'woman enough'
Good to Know

📊 The Virginia election was largely decided by white women:

Virginia 2020 —> White women
50% Biden (D), 49% Trump (R)

Virginia 2021 —> White women
57% Youngkin (R), 43% McAuliffe (D)

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Words of Wisdom
“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Thomas Jefferson