Good morning, everyone.
We sometimes give you a big, beefy wall of text to read. The best approach is to pick and choose what you're interested in and discard the rest. There will always be another day, but we try and include at least one thing that will pique your interest depending on what you have going on when you open this email. Be sure to check out the sections we curate at the bottom of the newsletter for interesting links and other oddities we curate from the broader internet.
Below, we talk about the persistence of blood shortages in Tennessee and elsewhere, dig into the latest emergency requiring massive action, and suggest some shows for you to check out.
Thanks for reading.
✚ BLOOD SHORTAGES PERSIST
Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, America’s blood supply has taken a dramatic hit. American Red Cross blood drives collect nearly 40% of the nation’s blood supply and are traditionally set up in public locations, such as college campuses that experienced shutdowns due to Covid-19 protocols. Inevitably, the blood supply went down with the shutdowns. Unfortunately, donor numbers have yet to fully recover and factors contributing to the nationwide blood deficit have continued to snowball from there.
The need for blood donations following the devastating tornadoes of this past weekend focused the spotlight on the blood supply shortages that were already there. Hospitals across Tennessee have been continuously stressing the severity of the blood supply shortage since the summer. Even before the severe storms of December 11th hospitalized Tennesseans in need of lifesaving care, doctors in major hospitals across the state preemptively outlined contingency plans for blood rationing if their supplies ran out.
It’s Not Just About Donations
At this point, the problem has shifted from just being a low supply problem to being a low supply and high demand problem. During the pandemic, elective surgeries were postponed due to hospital capacity, staffing, and precautions. This led to an elective surgery surge when hospitals began to allow them again. An uptick of cancer patients and other patients is also contributing to the increased demand on the blood supply as people are back to attending regular checkups with their doctors and receiving diagnoses.
Blood Transfusion Hang-Ups
Covid-19 diminished people’s already low comfort levels with donating blood and receiving blood transfusions. As far as receiving blood goes, respiratory viruses, including Coronavirus, are not known to be spread through blood transfusions. It’s also worth noting that there are no documented cases of Covid-19 that’ve been transmitted through blood transfusions. Additionally, a study conducted in April 2021 concluded that any risk of contracting Coronavirus through a transfusion is negligible.
On the flip side, now deep into the pandemic’s vaccination era, some patients who did not get the vaccine are weary of receiving a blood transfusion from a vaccinated donor. This is a more nuanced obstacle to hurdle. Typically, the blood received by patients getting a blood transfusion only contains red blood cells. Professor of medicine and infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Shmuel Shoham explains that antibodies and white blood cells are separated from the blood that is prepared for transfusion. That said, the American Red Cross donor guidelines still require patients who received vaccinations and boosters to provide the name of their vaccine/booster manufacturer.
No Positive Effects, Either
Just as Covid-19 is not known to be transmitted via blood transfusions, there is no documented benefit from receiving a blood transfusion from a person who has Covid-19 antibodies. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, plasma from donors who had Covid-19 immunity (plasma is made up of proteins, hemoglobin, and other components that are separated out from red blood cell transfusions) were thought to have the potential of helping combat the viral load of Covid-19 patients. The push for plasma donations from those who had Covid-19 antibodies was abandoned with the conclusion that plasma transfusions had no detectable benefits for severely ill patients. Though plasma with antibodies does help when used as a therapeutic during the early onset of Covid-19 symptoms (similar to the therapeutic use of monoclonal antibodies outlined in this Pamphleteer article), prioritizing the practice in hospitals where patients are most likely experiencing severe symptoms already was found to be impractical.
There Truly is a Dire Need for Blood in Tennessee
When all is said and done, donating your blood in this time of great need will absolutely help save a life. If you’d like to donate blood, you don’t have to go to a blood bank and wait. Instead, you can set up an appointment with Blood Assurance. All blood donated through Blood Assurance stays within the state.
Depending on the timing, you can also do a quick google search and see if any donation drives are doing giveaways. The American Red Cross has been doing raffles, giving away gifts cards, and more for donating.
- Metro health officials recommend ending emissions testing program (Main Street) During a joint committee meeting Monday evening, officials from the Metro Public Health Department recommended council members end the program and replace it with a $4 fee for each vehicle registration, part of which could go toward air pollution mitigation efforts.
- Employers predict having to raise pay in 2022 to compete for workers (Channel 5) According to The Conference Board’s latest survey, employers predict base pay to increase by an average of 3.9%.
- Right-to-work amendment a Tennessee Republican focus for 2022 (Center Square) A Beacon Center survey in 2019 reported 68% of Tennesseans favored the right-to-work policy, while 13% opposed and 19% were undecided.
- Tennessee Lawmaker Files Bill To Stop State Funding Of Students In U.S. Illegally (Conservative News) Tennessee state Rep. Bruce Griffey has filed a bill that would allow public schools to deny enrollment and the state to not fund education for students who are deemed to be in the country illegally.
- Marathon Village-area commercial building sells for $1.9M (Post)
- Ex-brewery site in Gulch sells for $5.5M (Post)
- Development company plans mixed-use building for Gulch (Post)
- Competitors still opposing VUMC’s Rutherford plans (Post)
- Building once housing famous clothier’s business sells for $6M (Post)
- Better Sidewalks & Tree Canopies; See What’s Now & Next On 1st & 2nd Avenues In Nashville. (Now Next)
➣ WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY
We hear a lot about emergencies these days. From the "climate emergency" to the "covid emergency", it would seem we are constantly beset by emergencies that warrant special responses from ourselves and our governments. More often than not, these emergencies mean that citizens, in some way, have rights stripped from them in an attempt to ward off or prevent the certain calamity on the horizon.
We've become all too familiar with the demands made of us in response to Covid and have become increasingly intimate with the demands made under the guise of averting a climate emergency. The enforcement of measures to ward off the specter of these emergencies is often not dictated and carried out by the state but enforced through fear and implication. Sure, you can go out to a bar without being vaccinated, but you're a selfish prick if you do and everyone will lose freedom if you do it. Additionally, you can eat that steak, but consider how selfish it is of you to contribute to the industry most responsible for methane gas production.
When the state does react to these emergencies, it is often in ways that supersede Democratic principles. Just yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected religious challenges to NYC's vaccine mandate for health workers. As Neil Gorsuch — one of three votes against the rejection — argues in his response to yesterday's ruling, "We do all this even though the State's executive decree clearly interferes with the free exercise of religion — and does so seemingly based on nothing more than fear and anger at those who harbor unpopular religious beliefs." In this instance, a right enshrined by the US Constitution and an integral component of the success of the United States in pioneering universal rights plays second-fiddle to the demands of the present "health emergency".
This is life now. We all know it. Love it or hate, the demands of these emergencies increasingly drive politics.
If you thought this was the last emergency we'd encounter this year, you were wrong. The New York Times declared a new "democratic emergency" run by a new anti-democratic movement. Taking the steady drumbeat of 2020 election fraud claims that have since been channeled into a revival of GOP participation in politics, the NYT claims that reform efforts in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin threaten the foundations of Democracy. Sounds pretty serious, right?
The measures mostly involve a spate of Republican candidates running against their Democratic counterparts. In Arizona, categorized as one of the most egregious moves towards "anti-democracy", measures involve transferring power over election lawsuits from the Secretary of State, who is a Democrat, to the Attorney General, who is a Republican. A number of other minute reforms that don't seem that different from previous years pepper the Times' assessment of this latest "threat" to Democracy that actually sounds a lot like actual Democracy and not governance under a constant state of emergency that many politicians want to perpetuate ad infinitum in order to bypass the consensus demands of a Democracy.
What the Times seems most worried about is that a coalition is emerging over which they have no sway. In effect, regardless of whether you buy into election fraud claims, the result has been a giant groundswell of political engagement among political circles across the spectrum, and more often than not, outside the circle of influence outlets like the Times think they own.
In our neck of the woods, James Garrett, the Davidson County GOP Chairman, indicates that increased engagement has not come from outreach, but genuinely interested volunteers who want to get involved. Garrett indicates the enthusiasm is higher than it's ever been from volunteers. Would the Times categorize this development as anti-democratic or merely concerning because it is something over which they have no sway?
Implicitly, the concern is that the Big Bad Republicans and their puppet Master, Big Bad Orange Man Drumpf, are going to fraudulently run elections. This is an accusation pioneered by Stacey Abrams who discovered that it was a useful way to keep herself in the public eye and garner notoriety for "protecting election integrity" without actually doing anything.
At The Pamphleteer, we're willing to admit that election fraud is about as American as apple pie. Since the end of the Civil War and the emergence of the two-party system, American elections have been rife with fraud to varying degrees since the Founding. It's a natural process for a Democracy to encounter then snuff out electoral fraud and what we witness currently is no different. It is far from a "democratic emergency" which implies some supra-democratic response to protect democracy — the height of irony.
For the Times to direct this accusation at their partisan counterparts is transparently political and says nothing more about the truth of the matter than if Tom Brady were to throw the ball to himself on every play.
- 🏛 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an emergency bid to block enforcement of New York’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers. The legal challenge was filed by a group of 20 doctors and nurses who argued that the state’s vaccine mandate violates the First Amendment to the Constitution because it fails to include a religious exemption.
- 🌪 Biden calls on EPA to investigate role of climate crisis in deadly tornadoes. Experts say tornadoes with such intensity are rare later in the year during colder seasonal weather. When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
- 📈 Federal Reserve officials meet today and tomorrow for the first time since Chairman Jerome Powell said last month that the central bank needed to shift its focus toward preventing higher inflation from becoming entrenched and away from fostering a rapid rebound in hiring from the pandemic. Something to monitor.
- 💸 Biden aims to win pivotal Democrat’s support for $2T spending plan. The backing of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin would be crucial for passage of the social-policy and climate bill called Build Back Better. Manchin is likely to remain unfazed.
In Nashville this week, there is a large selection of people posing as artists making sounds that imitate music. I often seek refuge from these posers at Robert’s Western World, the best honky tonk in Nashville. Robert’s has resisted the degeneration of the U.S. Music industry. They’ve maintained their greatness while everyone around them is “upgrading.” Let’s hope the Schermerhorn can hold out, it’s been looking like a desert over there recently.
𝄞 WEEKLY PLAYLIST
In other news and notes, check out the 🎶 Spotify playlist we compile 🎶 at the bottom of this article (or slap that link) to give you a sample of what you can get from the calendar this week.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🎄 It’s a Wonderful Life is playing at the Belcourt from the 17th - 24th.
⭐ Cheekwood’s Christmas lights exhibit is running until January 9.
🖼 At the Frist, Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City is running until January 30 and American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939 until January 2.
🐅 Nashville Predators vs. Calgary Flames @ Bridgestone Arena, 7p, $24+, Link
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ Texas Two-Step from 5-7p, Cowpokes @ 8p.
Around the Web
ℤ Gen Z Is Done With the Pandemic Though the specter of a new variant hangs over the holidays, young people have no plans to lock themselves down again.
☲ Bitcoin Embodies Nikola Tesla's Vision for Peace and Energy Abundance As an arbiter of truth for the most reliable and cheapest forms of energy, Bitcoin can enable Nikola Tesla’s vision of a peaceful, abundant energy future.
Political Theater Highlight Reel
- Ron DeSantis proposes $8M in the Florida budget to relocate illegal immigrants to Delaware, Martha’s Vineyard
- Germany plans to shut down 11 coal-fired power plants, and the last 3 remaining and most modern nuclear power plants by the end of 2022. Electricity prices in Germany continue to climb at an exponential rate.
- Mark McGowan (MP in Australia): “Covid finds the unvaccinated. You might live in the middle of the desert, but it will find you”
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Words of Wisdom
May it not be true, as has been well said, that ‘the belief in democracy presupposes belief in things higher than democracy’? And is there really no other way for people to maintain a democratic government than by handing over unlimited power to a group of elected representatives whose decisions must be guided by the exigencies of a bargaining process in which they bribe a sufficient number of voters to support an organized group of themselves numerous enough to outvote the rest?
Friedrich Hayek, 'The Political Order of a Free People'