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No. 290: The Great Debate

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Plagiarism · Debate · Drought · Twain Phone · Health · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

As we detailed a week or so back, Nashville native and Princeton professor Kevin Kruse has found himself in a pickle after his Ph.D. thesis turned up multiple instances of plagiarism. The situation was all the more ironic because of Kruse's graduation from Montgomery Bell Academy (this writer's alma mater as well) which builds its curriculum around an honor system, specifically instructing students on what is and isn't plagiarism. In other words, Kruse knew better.

Just to be frank, Kruse is insufferably woke, and in recent years, his scholarship took a backseat to writing hysterical MSNBC columns and contributing to the 1619 Project. That about sums up where he stands. What's more, his schizophrenic fascination with and revulsion for his own upbringing—greatly expressed by pieces like 'How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam'—seems to have led to his demise as more evidence comes forth that Kruse's plagiarism habits are pathological. If only he had heeded the teachings of where he came from instead of channeling his disdain for "white suburban life" into activist scholarship that'll be forgotten in a couple of years when the fever dream breaks.

What's more, Princeton fired distinguished Classics professor Joshua Katz this May for voicing disapproval of the "anti-racist" policies sweeping through its campus. As Kruse is on the vanguard of these policies, it will be interesting to see if Princeton will punish him or not.


Today, we reflect on last night's TN-5 debate hosted by The Epoch Times, consider drought concerns, look at what Mark Twain thought of the telephone, and ask again what makes Americans so unhealthy.

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Thanks for reading.


New Episode Transmission No. 9: On The RNC, the New Right, and All Politics Being National (ft. Lafayette Lee) (Listen)

⧖⧗⧖ August Voter Guide ⧗⧖⧗

Checkout out our Davidson County August Voter Guide below. The best and easiest way for you to prepare before you head to the polls.

View Voter Guide



Last night, The Epoch Times hosted a debate at the Grand Lodge of Tennessee for three of Tennessee's fifth congressional district candidates: Jeff Beierlein, Andy Ogles, and Tres Wittum. Beth Harwell and Kurt Winstead were both invited, but absent.

It sounds conspiratorial to host an event at the Grand Lodge, but the Free Masons of Tennessee give guided tours of the building and have begun opening their 1500-person auditorium to public events, such as this one. I was there. I'm not a Freemason. I didn't witness anyone bloodletting goats or whispering about the New World Order.

All three Tennessee Presidents (Jackson, Johnson, and Polk) were Masons, as were many of the Founders. Additionally, in recent years, membership has dropped 75 percent from a high of more than 4.1 million in 1959 when almost 4.5 percent of American men were members. The function of the Masons seems on the wane as evidenced by their adopting a more public-facing posture.

Now that I've cleared that up...

The format, as expressed by moderator Roger Simon and Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek, was conceived in an attempt to bring civil discussion back to campaign events. The TN-5 debate was a beta test—if successful, the format could be used for Presidential debates or other high-profile events.

To accomplish this, the Times gathered six experts who led rounds of questioning on their area of expertise. Among these were Jeffrey Tucker, who led a line of questioning on the economy; Nashville's own Carol Swain on education; Ronaldo Vitello on immigration; Dr. David Bell on healthcare; Hans Von Spakowsky on election integrity; and Gordon Chang on foreign policy. The expert would open with a question, then ask a follow-up after a candidate gave his answer. After a round of questions, each candidate was given time to opine generally on the topic.

The format cranked into life as Jeffrey Tucker opened up about the national debt to the first candidate, Jeff Beierlein. Before answering the question directly, Beierelein opted to poke and prod the absent Kurt Winstead, quipping, "This is the first time in Tennessee history the generals ran from the fight." The audience ooed and awed before Beierlein proceeded to answer Tucker's inquiry. All three candidates had a warm admiration for one another, and each had their moment over the course of the debate.

Ogles, who looks more and more every day like the lovechild of Donald Trump and Aaron Sorkin, engaged in frequent and rousing calls to action, getting notable responses when he asked the audience, "Anyone miss Donald Trump?!" Later, when speaking on energy policy, he trotted out what's become a signature campaign statement of his regarding drilling, declaring, "By George, you can drill in my backyard if there's oil there!" It's not hard to imagine the political hijinks such a statement welcomes.

The setup invited a depth generally absent from these kinds of things, particularly toward the end when Spakowsky took to the lectern to ask about election integrity.  The candidates responded in turn with in-depth answers, which focused on the particulars of apportionment and possible government reforms which would better reflect the will of the people. Spakowsky did a good job of veering away from a populist line of questioning, asking candidates to give specific answers in order to gauge what they actually knew about the topic.  

Tres Wittum took the opportunity to discuss his desire to repeal the 17th Amendment and expound on how technology—such as the blockchain—could aid in running more secure elections.

Each candidate had their style, and all of them have their merits, but Wittum's responses rang fresher and more forward-thinking than those of his opponents. His hypothetical response to inflation was, for example, to address supply chain concerns by mitigating the inefficiency of the ports. Throughout the debate, he probed and educated the audience on the perils of unimpeded public-private partnerships. At one point, his remarks drew an audible gasp as he relayed how Operation Warpspeed shoveled money into the pockets of Big Pharma, doctors, and insurance companies. Whether due to his age (35) or general interest in technology, Wittum brought up issues and concerns around tech and representation one rarely hears in mainstream political discourse.

Running just over two hours with only three candidates instead of the anticipated five, the debate was not without its faults. It seems that something will need to be done to speed things up, though it's possible familiarity with the format will remedy this issue. The final few experts breezed through their sections at a faster clip than the first few. With two candidates (such as during a Presidential debate), one can imagine the structure being more manageable.

To keep candidates on task, the follow-up question to each participant after his first answer is crucial to ensure he doesn't duck out of a response. If done correctly and efficiently, this debate set-up can reveal a side of a candidate beyond the stump speech-style misdirection these things typically invite. In other words, an audience can actually get a sense of how much a candidate knows—something people across the fruited plain at least claim they desire.

At the end of the night, underscoring the U.S. House of Representatives' position as the People's House, Andy Ogles drove his wife home in his F-150, parked in a public lot across the street from the venue.

You can watch the debate in full here with a subscription to the Epoch Times.




  • Developer, nonprofit agree on CBA for East Bank project (Post)
  • Former home of legendary local BBQ joint listed for sale (Post)
  • Music Row building once owned by Oak Ridge Boys listed for sale (Post)
  • Mixed-use project eyed for North Davidson County (Post)
  • Progress made on Hyatt hotel set for Gulch (Post)


Drought continues to be a major concern across the world. Italy just declared a state of emergency in five northern regions, threatening more than 30% of its agricultural production. The Hoover Dam is near deadpool—the point at which it can no longer produce power—after 23 years of drought in the Colorado River Basin, bringing the level of Lake Mead from 1,200 feet at its height to its current level of 1,050 feet. It continues to lose about a foot a day. At 950 feet, the dam will be completely inoperable. Homeowners in areas such as Scottsdale, Arizona find themselves worrying about access to water as a result.


  • US Drought Monitor (Link)
  • USGS Water Data for the Nation (Link)


Mark Twain notes an encounter with a telephone in his own home:

You hear questions asked; you don't hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise, or sorrow, or dismay. You can't make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.

He goes on to relay a whole conversation he overhears complete with pauses.

Source: A Telephonic Conversation
The Atlantic, June 1880, Read Online





You can view our full calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month (July 21st) at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.

⚔️ Knights in Armor at the Frist starting July 1st: European arms and armor from the renowned collection of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy.

🎼 Listen to the Pamphleteer's Picks, our playlist of bands playing in Nashville each week.

🍔 Burger week in Nashville. $7 burgers at participating restaurants all week. Vote for your favorite at the end of the week.


🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🌕 Super Full Moon Hike @ Mound Bottom State Park, 8p, $15, Info

🎹 Steely Dan @ First Bank Amphitheater, 8p, $31+, Info

🎸 Mark Thornton & The Sidekicks @ Dee's Lounge, 8:30p, $5, Info

🎸 De3ra @ 5 Spot, 9p, $10, Info

🍸 Electric relaxation @ Bar Sovereign, 9p, Free, Info


🏜 Hiatus Kaiyote @ Marathon Music Works, (8/14), $35+, Info

🐂 Professional Bull Riding @ Bridgestone, (8/19-21), $20+ Info

🐖 Roger Waters @ Bridgestone, (8/27), $39, Info

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info

⚔️ HELMET @ Marathon Music Works, (9/24), $35, Info

🎻 Gustav Holst's The Planets @ Schermerhorn (9/29-10/2), Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info

🎸 The Doobie Brothers @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/12), $43+, Info



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