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No. 314: What We Mean When We Say "Witch Hunt"

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Witches · Metro Council · EV Prices · Polarization · Much More!

📰Today, we consider what we mean when we say "witch hunt," preview tonight's Metro Council meeting, and take a look at the latest attempt to force you into an electric vehicle.

Good morning, everyone.

A "witch hunt" is generally understood to be the pursuit of a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. You might remember the most famous American witch hunt, the Salem Witch Trials, which careened through colonial Massachusetts during the summer of 1692 and culminated in the hanging of fourteen women and five men.

Putting the supernatural components aside, the mechanisms which caused the hysteria in Salem in the 17th century and the means by which the trials were carried out are remarkably similar to what we're witnessing in regards to January 6th and D.C.'s dogged attempt to prevent Donald Trump from running for President again with One Clever Trick.

When the people of Salem became convinced that witches were operating in their community, their first step was to establish a special court to resolve the issue. Purportedly, normal laws were not sufficient to find and prosecute the parties accused of practicing witchcraft. That should've been the first sign that things were headed off the rails; a special court erected exclusively to find a solution to one problem will always find a solution to that problem in order to justify its existence. This is about as close as you get to an axiomatic political statement.

The strange part about the way the special court operated was that it set those who admitted to practicing witchcraft free—as it proved its own validity—and found guilty those accused who refused to confess.

What's even stranger about the events is that one of the more prominent citizens in the trials was Salem minister Increase Mather's gifted son, Cotton. Paul Johnson in his History of the American People describes Cotton as a "learned man and a keen scientist. He was not only awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Glasgow University but also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, then the leading scientific body in the world." Cotton Mather was among the first to popularize the views of Copernicus in the Colonies, which placed the sun and not the Earth at the center of the solar system.

By all accounts and with the benefit of over 300 years of perspective, one would assume Cotton Mather would be the sane, reasonable one—given the popular modern belief that the "view from science" provides a clearer, more reasonable perspective than that offered by religion. But, Johnson says, "It was in fact precisely Cotton Mather's scientific interests which made him such an enthusiastic witchhunter. He believed that the trials, if pursued vigorously enough, would gradually expose the whole machinery of witchcraft and the operations of the Devil, thereby benefiting mankind enormously."

Everything calmed down immediately when Increase Mather returned from a trip to England and intoned that the real work of the devil was the hanging of innocent women. It was the outwardly religious father who calmed the hysteria of his outwardly scientific son. Under Increase Mather's direction, the special court was soon dissolved, the 150 people imprisoned and awaiting trial were released, and the area moved on immediately after coming to its senses and quickly confessing to its errors.

Of Salem's rapid 180º and frank admission of its faults, Johnson notes, "In the late 17th century it was perhaps more remarkable than the hysteria itself and a good augury for America's future as a humane and truth-seeking commonwealth. The rule of law did indeed break down, but it was restored with promptness and penitence."


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Also, be sure to check out our podcast. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

⧖⧗⧖ Bar Hours ⧗⧖⧗

Join us! This Thursday night for our forum at Lucky's 3 Star Bar where lively banter and drinks flow freely.

Where? Lucky's 3 Star Bar in Wedgewood-Houston

When? The third Thursday of every month from 6-8 PM

First ten people get drinks on the house!



The Nashville Metro City Council never sleeps. Here is what’s on the docket for tonight’s meeting.


A bill on third reading that will require companies to provide out-of-state abortion transportation and accommodations if they apply for economic and community development incentive grants and payment in lieu of taxes (“PILOT”) incentives is set to pass. (Read more about this in the The Pamphleteer.)


A resolution is up for vote to accept a grant up to $6,473,474 from the State of Tennessee Department of Health for the Metropolitan Board of Health “to promote the proper use of all recommended vaccines and respond to vaccine preventable diseases in collaboration with the CDC and other partners.”

During the August election, Davidson County voted to ratify Charter Amendment No. 3 proposed by the Metro Council. The Metropolitan Board of Health must now seat a doctor; a mental health expert; a nurse; two other medical professionals; and two non-medical professionals, but no longer requires the Director of Health to be a medical doctor.


A resolution to double the grant money from the Tennessee Department of Human Services to the Metropolitan Board of Health to “conduct immunization record audits for child-care centers, drop-in centers, and group child-care homes.”


A resolution to adopt the NDOT Vision Zero Action Plan and Vision Zero Five-Year Implementation Plan. Both plans are designed to support Metro’s goal to achieve zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on Nashville’s roadways.

The License Plate Reader (LPR) bill,  designed to prevent the use of the technology to identify illegal immigrants, is on third reading. The original bill, as written, ran into problems with Tennessee State law and its definition of sanctuary cities. Council Member Bob Mendes amended the bill last meeting to avoid this. The language now includes that Davidson county LPRs can be used by law enforcement in the “apprehension, detention, or removal of any person in connection with the immigration laws of the United States, except to the extent the use of the LPR system or LPR information is sought to verify or report the immigration status of any person.”


The battle between Entertainment Board bills continues. A  bill on second reading presented by Robert Swope and others is up against a  bill on third reading presented by Joy Styles and others, both outlining provisions to create a Nashville Entertainment Industry Board.

Contact the council at [email protected]




  • Proposed Church St. Towers Will Further Redefine The Midtown Skyline In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Camden Property Trust tees up 'Camden Nations' apartments (NBJ)
  • Historic downtown structure could offer STR (Post)
  • Police substation slated for Garth Brooks building (Post)
  • Details emerge for East Bank project (Post)
  • SoBro property eyed for project sells for $35M (Post)
  • Giarratana preps purchase of small downtown structure (Post)


After a $7,500 tax credit was promised to new electric vehicle buyers, GMC and Ford took advantage of the opportunity and raised the price of some models. Ford announced that its F-150 Lighting will see a price increase of around $7,000 for new buyers, bringing the price of the truck from $40k to $47k.

GMC touting one of the most expensive EVs on the market, the Hummer EV, will see an increase of $6,250 on the model's base price. Both vehicles are on the higher end of the EV market, which only bolsters the argument that the tax credits will largely go to those who don't need them.


Graphic representing how often politicians vote with those in the opposing party (More Info)


  • 🤡 Attorney General Merrick Garland deliberated for weeks over whether to approve the application for a warrant to search former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, people familiar with the matter said.
  • 🗳 Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is widely expected to lose her re-election bid Tuesday, the last House Republican to face a primary who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
  • ❌ An agreement between the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union and the school district states that White teachers will be laid off before teachers of color, regardless of their seniority.
  • 🗺 Border Patrol agents have made about 1.82 million arrests at the southern border so far in the government’s fiscal year, which runs from October to the end of September. The number beats the record set last fiscal year, which was 1.66 million apprehensions in the year ending September 2021.
  • 🚢 The U.S. has identified intensifying technological competition with China as a top national-security threat. But a Commerce Department-led process that reviews U.S. tech exports to the country approves almost all requests and has overseen an increase in sales of some particularly important technologies, according to an analysis of trade data.
  • 🇨🇳 China announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to renew tensions between Beijing and Washington after a similar recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.


View our full calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours this week at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab. We do Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month

🎪 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.

🎭 Shakespeare in the park is every Thursday through Sunday from August 18th till September 11th

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


🎸 Olivia Jean (Opener) @ Exit/In, 7p, $38, Info

🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Two step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p

🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street


🚘 Demolition Derby @ Williamson County Fair (8/26-27), $10, Info

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

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info
+ Motorik post-rock synth avant-pop surrealist prismcore

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

⚔️ HELMET @ Marathon Music Works, (9/24), $35, Info
+ 90's alternative metal band from NY, a Pamphleteer favorite

🏜 ZZ Top & Beck @ First Bank Amphitheater, (9/27), $49+, Info

👾 Flamingosis @ Basement East (9/29), $20, Info

🎻 Gustav Holst's The Planets @ Schermerhorn (9/29-10/2), Info
+  Early 1900's orchestral suite, each movement is named after a planet

🕺 Remi Wolf @ Brooklyn Bowl (10/6), $30, Info
+ Young talented funk/pop/hip-hop singer, one of the few

🎻 Mozart & Tchaikovsky@ Schermerhorn, (10/28-29), $25+, Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info
+ 90's alt-rock from Chicago

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

🎺 Too Many Zooz @ Basement East, (10/31), $20, Info

🌶 The Gypsy Kings @ The Ryman (11/1), $39.50, Info
+ The roving band of flamenco guitarists



Nashville’s Best Margaritas
Your guide to finding the best version of this “pairs well with the beach” cocktail in our landlocked state
Traversing the Food Pyramid
USDA Guidelines Over 100 Years
Small Farmer, Big Beef
Beating the USDA at its own game
In Defense of Raw Beef
Just Try It Once


  • Blood Money in U.S. Schools (w/ A.J. DePriest) (Listen)
  • Regenerative Agriculture and Animal-Based Skincare (w/ Charles Mayfield) (Listen)
  • The Problem with American Agriculture (w/ William Wheelwright) (Listen)
  • Hillsdale's Charter School Program (w/ Dr. Kathleen O'Toole) (Listen)
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❍ My Advice to the Young Quite often, I am asked for my opinion. You might think that the topic would be politics, or history, or perhaps business, but usually, it is not.

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Today's newsletter is brought to you by Megan Podsiedlik (Nashville), Edward Landstreet (Local Noise), and Davis Hunt (everything else).