Good morning, everyone.
Journalism and literature go hand in hand — or at least they used to. Many of America's greatest writers — Hemingway, Twain, Whitman, etc. — first honed their craft as journalists. The journalism we have now, and this could be a source of the sickness, comes not from a literary angle, but a bureaucratic, almost technical angle. The "story" has been sacrificed for the narrative. The narrative doesn't come from the writer but from the publisher, the editor, and the board. Narratives do not allow for nuance or literary flourishes. Narratives enforce boundaries onto a story that writers cannot move outside of.
Were literary influences more apparent in modern journalism, we might see journalists wryly poke fun of Joe Biden's nakedly visible health issues due to old age instead of the New York Times writing off his ticks as "something he does when he gets impatient". In the modern, technical art of journalism, the writer must never run against the narrative. Narratives are against a free press. Stories are in favor of it.
Below, we discuss what the vaccine mandate could mean for Tennesseans, brush up on the latest drama in the Metro Council, and consider the farmer and our relationship to the land and soil.
Thanks for reading.
﹅ VACCINATE OR TERMINATE
As of yesterday, OSHA will officially begin using their “enforcement discretion” to cite businesses who do not comply with their ETS (Emergency Temporary Standard) regarding Covid-19 vaccination status. This standard mandates businesses of 100 personnel or more to require vaccines or have a weekly testing protocol in place for those who are unvaccinated. The Biden Administration’s Executive Order also requires all federal contractors to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. This requirement does not allow for a testing protocol. For Federal contractors, the relationship is vaccinate or terminate.
Both orders have pending court cases that will determine if these mandates are Constitutional. The Supreme Court has heard oral argument and is expected to rule on this any day now, but the wait leaves employers, employees, and state officials in limbo.
What Does This Mean For Tennesseans?
Tennessee’s legislature passed a mandate against the Federal vaccine mandates and vaccination passports in their Covid Special Session omnibus bill. Though the bill pushed back against the Biden Administration’s efforts to force vaccination, there is a loophole. In an attempt to prevent certain Government funded businesses from losing their funds from the Fed, the Covid Special Session bill has exemptions for businesses that get funding from the Federal government. Therefore, in Tennessee, Federally contracted workers still face vaccination requirements.
What Are Tennessee Officials Saying?
- The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office issued a statement that the state is taking legal action against both mandates.
- Mayor of Maury County, Andy Ogles, issued a statement that he'd "willfully go to jail" before forcing county employees to get the shot.
⚙︎ FAIRGROUND FIASCO
After a long, arduous journey, the Nashville fairgrounds finally has a board. City administrators continue their efforts to perfectly calibrate Nashville's administrative positions to match the exact line and length of the population, and the fairgrounds has provided an opportunity to observe what future appointments may look like.
After first appointing two Black women to the fairgrounds' board, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman was immediately rebuked by the Minority Caucus for not appointing someone Hispanic. In March of 2021, Schulman's first candidate, former Councilmember Sandra Moore, served the district around the fairgrounds for eight years, but her skintone was not correct. Councilmembers reminded Shulman of their demand that a Hispanic member man the board. Shulman apparently didn't get the message because, five months later, he brought up another Black woman for the role who was summarily shot down by the Minority Caucus — all of whom are Black except for Sandra Sepulveda who is Hispanic.
Then, in November of last year, board chair Erin McAnally (who is a White woman for those keeping track) announced she would be stepping down on account of her spending less time in the city. This opened up another board seat for councilmembers to squabble over.
Yesterday, as reported by WPLN, it was officially announced that Mario Avila and Jasper Hendricks will occupy the board positions. Curiously absent from WPLN's announcement is any information on the two men beyond their race, noting only that "a Latino and Black man will now join what was an all-white decision-making body." Mayor John Cooper, who would typically oversee board appointments as Mayor of the city, sat this one out citing COVID, the threat of state financial takeover, the tornado, and the Christmas Day bombing.
- ✅ The rise and fall of a House Speaker (Lookout) Sam Stockard chronicles Glen Casada's rise and fall in a way only an ink-stained journalist can. Two and a half years removed from resignation as House Speaker and a year from an FBI raid, Rep. Glen Casada continues to grapple with the reason for his exit...
- The Nashville split is on (TNJ) House Speaker Cameron Sexton is confirming plans to carve up the heavily-Democratic 5th Congressional District in Nashville to give Republicans a chance to pick up an eighth of the state’s nine congressional seats.
- Nashville is finalist for 2024 Republican National Convention (NBJ) The Republican National Committee said via email Friday that it is excited to continue its site-selection process and that it narrowed the list to four cities: Milwaukee, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.
- Star cluster visible for two week span (WSMV) January brings Middle Tennessee stargazers the chance to see the Pleiades Cluster, which will be visible during the night sky starting January 11th through the night of January 25th.
- Vanderbilt, other top colleges sued for alleged antitrust violations (Post) Five former students filed suit in federal court Sunday alleging that top colleges, including Vanderbilt University, have engaged in price fixing and unfairly limiting aid.
- Local company buys Great Escape home for $17M (Post)
- Start looms for North Nashville townhome project (Post)
✸ WORKING THE LAND ✸
Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both enthusiastic farmers. In Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, he declares that "those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God." Both men believed that the virtue and strength of a nation started with its soil, and thus, both fervently experimented with and advocated for ways to ensure the preservation of the virginal dirt of the young nation.
Many of the original settlers were drawn to America by stories of fresh soil and the promise of bountiful yields — visions that drew on the Christian understanding of the Promised Land. In keeping with this common understanding, the soil sat at the base of civilization, and any civilization that abandoned and destroyed its soil was bound to do the same to itself and the people that comprised it. It's cliché to say, but the present American Empire has definitively abandoned its soil, ignoring common sense knowledge like "the best fertilizer is a farmer's footsteps" in favor of top-down reforms meant to maximize agricultural output and reduce the cost of food at the expense of everything else. Yes, food is cheap — for now — but what did we trade to get here?
Beyond ignorant agricultural attitudes, the population has become divorced from its civic duties and browbeaten into ignoring common sense in favor of the dictates of an unelected "expert" class whose interests often diverge from those of the people they claim to serve. These trends also indicate the depleted nature of the American cultural soil. The present situation is the antithesis of the self-reliance and civic duty expressed through our founding documents. Many would have you believe such virtues are lost and of a world that no longer exists — or, is a figment of one's imagination. After all, the new world has minted new values in the place of the old that render an attachment to the land irrelevant, and thus, all values springing forth from the land are also irrelevant.
You'll hear words like "reactionary" or "Luddite" lobbed at you should you try to advocate for cultivating a first-hand understanding of the soil through working it. These are foolish proclamations, of course, and far from attempting to return to some halcyon dream world where the soil was black as night and the corn as tall as a ship's mast, developing a relationship with the land is simply to develop a relationship with that which will persist long after us. Understanding the land under your feet is a timeless endeavor that men have devoted their lives to and been all the better for. Unfortunately for the forces of commerce, people with strong ties to the land are not easily manipulated or moved about. With entrenched interests in the land come entrenched beliefs and entrenched cultures that gain their strength from being in a particular place at a particular time and from working a particular piece of land. As we've learned over the past few decades, it's far more profitable for business if people do not develop ties to a particular place or piece of land.
Back to Jefferson's statement. Stated otherwise, Jefferson elevated farmers as the chosen people of God. The virtuousness of farming has largely disappeared from the modern zeitgeist except in rare moments such as during Super Bowl commercials and the occasional country song that skips the whole beer, trucks, and girls schtick for a Hollywood-like recreation of rural life. Our vision of what farming is has even been transformed as industrial-scale agriculture clouds our view of what farmers actually do. Stewarding the Earth has been commoditized and transformed from using your hands to care for a plot of soil into what products you purchase, what car you drive, and who you vote for. These new virtues are shallow reproductions of the original virtues first expressed by Virgil in his Georgics and later repeated by Washington and Jefferson and barely deserve the designation virtue — "brand loyalty" would capture these values better.
As for the role of modern man compared to his agrarian forebears: in the 18th-century, "farmer" was a label applied to more than just those who grew food or raised animals. Famer referred broadly to "a state of mind" and to those who "extolled the virtues of orderliness and Godliness [and of] working with one's hands." Farmers were "self-reliant souls upon whom the democratic republic was based." The virtues of the farmer are accessible to us all regardless of whether we drive a plow into American dirt.
⌁ A THRILLING ESCAPE...
LAPD Officers displayed heroism and quick action by saving the life of a pilot who made an emergency landing on the railroad tracks at San Fernando Rd. and Osborne St., just before an oncoming train collided with the aircraft (Watch)
⚔︎ MISSIVES ⚔︎
- The world's top-ranked men's tennis player, Novak Djokovic, expressed gratitude that an Australian judge overturned his visa cancellation on Monday.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a budget proposal on Monday that would include expanding the state’s Medi-Cal health coverage to all low-income illegal immigrants in the state.
My friend Mike David says, when having a laugh at someone's expense, yes, one person may suffer, but think about all the joy being brought to those doing the laughing. We're just to ignore this? Now, this sentiment doesn't really gel with a lot of people, but who cares. Let's have a laugh at the expense of these bands over their poor name choices.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🖼 At the Frist, Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City is running until January 30th.
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ Texas Two Step from 5-7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p.
🍻 Trivia Night @ The Bold Patriot, 7p, Free, Info
🐅 Predators vs. Avalanche @ Bridgestone Arena, 7p, $38+, Info
NEW THIS WEEK
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Around the Web
☀ ‘Dear John’ Review: Ballistic Missives The breakup letter from a woman at home to her man in uniform overseas has long been considered to hold a special destructive power.
☁︎ How Expert Worship Is Ruining Science Big tech and big media are betraying the truth—and the people.
◉ A cowboy’s place in the sustainability conversation Cattle producers have a place in the sustainability conversation. You might say they’re key to the whole picture.
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Words of Wisdom
Six hours' sleep for a man, seven for a woman, and eight for a fool.