Good morning, everyone.
In yesterday's newsletter, Megan covered Tuesday night's council meeting, which was punctuated by the passage of the six-month License Plate Reader (LPR) pilot program. The meeting brought out the big guns: both District Attorney Glenn Funk and Police Chief John Drake showed up to support the program which aims, in the words of Drake, “to identify criminal suspects who flee from scenes and vehicles.”
Despite Councilmember Rosenberg's protestation that the LPR program is just "red meat", akin to the border wall, for a paranoid right-wing hungry for tough-on-crime initiatives, the program was almost universally supported by Nashville Democrats.
Funk and Drake are both Democrats, as are the vast, vast majority of our loony bin councilmembers, Rosenberg included. The program passed with this crowd in charge, not our red-blooded state legislature.
Speaking as someone who's been mailed a speeding ticket before as a result of these cameras, I have little faith that the Metro brass will resist the temptation to unleash these things on the unwitting public in an effort to bring in more revenue for MNPD. At present, they will not monitor for traffic violations, but come on. How long do you think that will last?
When safety is on the line, privacy and freedom concerns are trivial. You don't want more children to die, do you? Drake even employed this overwrought concern, stating: "We want to help find children who are missing, and our senior citizens who are missing as well."
There's a boatload of thinkers who have written extensively on the tradeoff between safety and freedom– a moot discussion these days because most have willingly surrendered their freedom for the safety they gain in return. In the digital age, privacy concerns come off as entirely superficial. Think about how much information we voluntarily surrender to the digital world in return for unnecessary services like social media.
We don't have this kind of discussion anymore in America. It's over. We shook the devil's hand, looked him in the eye, and accepted his terms. My mentioning it even now is self-incriminating in a way (I care about the government providing for my safety less than the average person) and will do nothing to revive the discussion. It’s finished. Done. Kaput. When given the choice between freedom and safety, people will choose safety one hundred percent of the time.
I've mentioned this before, but Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek is quoted as saying that those born after 1914 (the eve of World War I) will never understand freedom. His observation rings truer every single day. I’m not even sure I understand freedom.
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❏ WILL UNVACCINATED MILITARY BE VINDICATED?
Though many Republicans are ready to take the win after news that the military’s vaccine mandate was removed as a stipulation of the NDAA this week, restoring the dignity of unvaccinated service members is a bit more complicated than the preemptive victory lap indicates.
TENNESSEE OFFICIALS TAKE THE LEAD
In the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s executive summary for fiscal year 2023, it’s made clear that the secretary of defense must “rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19.” According to a Tuesday press release by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the senator was involved in introducing two key measures to the act: one which ensures both National Guard and reserve members maintain access to pay and benefits while their requests for religious or health accommodation are pending, and another which “[prohibits] involuntary separation of any service member for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine until each Service achieves its end strength authorized by last year’s NDAA.”
As was the case with last week’s joint statement issued by Governor Bill Lee, Senate Republicans made sure to emphasize the issue of military readiness:
“In the United States, the number of new service members joining the military is reaching a near record low. The United States needs a strong military to protect our country against the growing threats facing our nation. We are pleased that the final conferenced bill includes language mirroring our amendments’ efforts to protect troops from being fired due to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate without fair appeal and to the harm of service readiness,” said Senators Blackburn, Marshall, Hyde-Smith, Braun, Fischer, Ernst, Tuberville, Crapo, Daines, Hoeven, and Risch.
The FY’23 NDAA passed with bipartisan support by the House on July 14 by a vote of 329-101 and was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 16 by a vote of 23-3. However, there was more work to be done: after months of negotiations, House and Senate members ironed out the final version of the act this Tuesday.
While the vaccine mandate on the military is set to be dropped, questions still loom regarding the reinstatement and reimbursement of servicemembers. As mentioned above, the language released by Blackburn implies that involuntary separation of service members for refusing the vaccine is prohibited only until numbers are back up to the “strength authorization” standard expressed in last year’s NDAA.
While many are cheering this as a step in the right direction, Blackburn has already made clear that it is just the first of many actions she and her colleagues plan to take in order to restore the dignity of these men and women. “We are continuing to work through this issue, and to be certain that people are made whole will be important,” the senator told Fox News, “But right now it is getting this lifted, and once we have done that, we will be able to move forward."
NOT ALL GOP IN AGREEMENT
During a press conference yesterday, Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) discussed the ‘23 NDAA and called for a “short-term, continuing resolution to reject the Pelosi-Schumer spending spree.” Senator Mike Lee took a hard line on his stance, making it clear that, in his view, service members affected by the vaccine mandate deserve more than what’s offered by the NDAA terms: “We owe it to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces to reinstate members dismissed for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine WITH back pay,” Lee tweeted. He also added a clip from the presser, where he stated: “I’m going to continue to honor the promise that I made in signing a letter with a couple dozen of my colleagues that I’m not going to vote for cloture on this thing unless we’re given a meaningful opportunity to address this issue in this bill.”
LONG ROAD AHEAD
Tennessee military members have been struggling with the repercussions of the vaccine mandate since it was instated, livelihoods have been uprooted, career paths were cut short, and tales of debilitating vaccine complications were tossed aside by the top brass . . If you’d like to delve deeper into this issue, read a first-hand account from a Tennessee Guard member.
- Area sees home sales plunge once more (Post) The Nashville area saw 2,493 home closings in November — a 38 percent decrease from the mark of the same month in 2021. This follows an October with 2,824 home closings, a 30 percent drop from the figure of the previous year’s same month, according to a Greater Nashville Realtors release
- Report gives Tennessee high marks for economic freedom (Center Square) Tennessee was ranked second for the lowest taxes (the Volunteer State has no state income tax, as it is in seven other states), third for labor market freedom (Tennessee is a right to work state), but only 13th for government spending.
- Tennessee awarded $13 million in JUUL settlement (WSMV) Tennessee will be awarded about $13 million from JUUL Labs., Inc. as part of a multi-state, $434.9 million settlement with the electronic cigarette maker, state attorney general Jonathan Skrmetti announced Wednesday.
- Investigation finds Tennessee domestic violence nonprofit retaliated against whistleblower employee (WPLN) A federal watchdog has found that the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence unlawfully retaliated against and then forced out an employee who blew the whistle about potential misuse of federal funding.
- Pietown Is Slated For A 32-Story Mixed-Use Tower In Downtown Nashville (Now Next)
- Developer CRG Enters Nashville Market with 2.8M SF Industrial Park In Lebanon (Now Next)
- Mixed-Use Development Proposed On White Bridge Pike In West Nashville (Now Next)
- Airport-area apartment property sells for $9M (Post)
- Spring opening tapped for Gulch brewery (Post)
- Ice cream shop business to expand headquarters (Post)
- East Nashville industrial site on river sells for $16.2M (Post)
❦ CHANGE OF HEART
When Gender Transitioners Turn Back
As growing numbers of former transgender youth turn their backs on transition, a trail of seemingly well-meaning affirmation lies in their wake. They look back on a chain of authority figures, peers, and influencers that spun their pubescent insecurities into a self-fulfilling narrative of being born in the wrong body. For these “detransitioners,” it took a series of painful consequences to realize they had made mistakes, which for some, cannot be undone.
Gender nonconformity has always existed, as has a vanishingly small cohort of youth whose disconnection from their assigned sex was severe enough to warrant treatment. But, by the mid-2010s, acknowledging this reality wasn’t enough. To accept “trans kids” was to affirm their identities and support them, no matter what — even if they hadn’t started puberty. Even if it meant placing them into a medical pipeline that begins with social transition and ends with elective surgical intervention. But now, in the aftermath of numerous medical scandals, a number of critics — including medical professionals, psychotherapists, and a group of former trans people known as “detransitioners” — argue that a line has been crossed.
This September, Vanderbilt University Medical Center faced a firestorm of criticism after reporting by the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh uncovered that the Clinic for Transgender Health had been performing gender-affirming surgeries on minors as young as 14 years old. In one of the videos posted by Walsh, Dr. Shayne Taylor, a physician at the clinic, explains that the surgeries are “huge money makers” because they are labor intensive and require many follow-ups.
Within 24 hours, VUMC denied claims that they were acting unethically, stating that they require parental consent for anyone under 18 before temporarily disabling the clinic’s web page. Two weeks later, after mounting pressure from Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers, VUMC announced that they are pausing surgeries for minors to “review their practices.”
Since then, Senate Leader Jack Johnson and House Leader William Lamberth have respectively filed the assembly’s first bill of the upcoming session in January 2023, which seeks to prohibit gender transition surgery for minors. The move follows Florida's ban on gender-affirming care for minors. It’s hard to imagine this happening three years ago, when the aforementioned clinic celebrated its first year in business and Merriam-Webster chose as its Word of the Year the singular pronoun they. All the while, a burgeoning community of transgender people who have turned heel on their decision has begun to make itself known. These "detransitioners" have been subject to mockery, intimidation, and even death threats for exposing holes in the conversation surrounding trans issues.
It looks as if a new wave of public awareness around the excesses of gender ideology is finally cresting. But how did we go from apparently harmless notions of acceptance to full-blown obsession over allowing minors to surgically alter their bodies for life?
⌘ STAT OF THE DAY: TRANSIT RIDERSHIP
One rarely mentioned side effect of lockdowns has been the reduced ridership that public transit across the country has experienced. Transit carried 63.7 percent as many riders in October 2022 as in October 2019. Reflecting falling fuel prices, this was a drop from 66.8 percent in September– the highest point in the recovery that transit has made since the onset of lockdowns. Where did all the riders go?
Source: Transit Carried 63.7% of 2019 Riders in October
The Antiplanner, Randall O'Toole, 7 December 2022, Read Online
𝓧 CHART OF THE DAY: PROPERTY TAXES
⚔ MISSIVES ⚔
- 💉 The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress, ending a directive that helped ensure the vast majority of troops were vaccinated but also raised concerns that it harmed recruitment and retention.
- 🔋 Vanguard Group Inc. is walking out of the world’s largest climate-finance alliance, marking the coalition’s biggest defection to date as US Republicans step up their threats against firms deemed hostile toward the fossil-fuel industry.
- 🏛 The House of Representatives passed legislation with bipartisan support on Thursday that would codify same-sex marriage protections.
- 📰 Hundreds of journalists and other employees at The New York Times began a 24-hour walkout on Thursday, the first strike of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years.
- 🇩🇪 German police rounded up dozens of people including a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a former judge Wednesday, accusing the suspects of discussing the violent overthrow of the government but leaving unclear how concrete the plans were.
- 🚨 A nonprofit group has discovered 48 new overseas police stations with ties to China’s communist regime, including two previously unknown facilities in Los Angeles and New York City. The newly identified sites are among more than 100 police outposts that are spread out across 53 nations.
- 🏀 American basketball star Brittney Griner was released from Russian custody Thursday in a prisoner exchange after being detained for months for allegedly bringing illegal substances into the country.
- 📈 The Securities and Exchange Commission signaled plans to issue four proposals next week that aim to help small investors get better prices on their stock trades.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
👨🏻🌾 See your best options for winter farmer's markets on our farmer's market guide
🎧 Listen to the Pamphleteer's Picks on Spotify, a playlist of our favorite bands in town each week
🌮 Nashville Taco Week is running from the 5th to the 11th. Help nominate the best taco in Nashville.
🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info
🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info
🎸 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
🕯 Handel's Messiah @ The Schermerhorn, 7p, $25+, Info
+ 18th-century choral masterpiece, tracing the life of Jesus Christ
🌌 Ryan Scott @ Dee's Lounge, 8p, $10, Info
+ space folk
✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: 12/8-12/15
The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this weekend.
OLIVIA COLMAN OSCAR BAIT
Empire of Light Sam Mendes follows up 1917 and two Bond entries with this ode to faltering movie palaces set in the early 80s. A bipolar theatre manager (Olivia Colman) navigates affairs with her boss (Colin Firth) and her black employee (Michael Ward) as the crew prepares for a provincial premiere of Chariots of Fire in the midst of her mental break. The Thatcherphobia is comical, but Colman makes the whole shebang enough of a worthwhile tribute to the power of movies to make one ask why reviews are so tepid for a flick in which skinheads do some bush-league BLM-style property damage.
Now Playing in Theatres.
IRANIAN EDGE OF SEATER
Holy Spider A journalist (Cannes-winner Zar Amir Ebrahim) uncovers the nocturnal activities of a bubbly patriarch (Mehdi Bajestani) who cruises the streets to gut sinful sex workers in this impeccable Iranian film that could go toe to toe with The Silence of the Lambs. The week’s essential viewing.
Now playing at The Belcourt
2nd Chance Fresh from his Oscar nom for The White Tiger, indie darling Ramin Bahrani probes a controversial body armor entrepreneur’s rise and fall with the customary open-mindedness of someone who teaches at Columbia and premieres side projects at SXSW when not working for HBO or Netflix.
Now playing at AMC Thoroughbred 20.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed Legendary photography provocateur and ex-addict Nan Goldin goes to war against an OxyContin manufacturer that also serves as one of the country’s most prominent art benefactors. From Laura Poitras, director of Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour.
Now playing at The Belcourt
Now playing at Regal Hollywood 27.
- In Conversation: Texas Slim (The Beef Initiative) (Listen)
Around the Web
The story of Bitcoin has certainly had its fair share of nefarious characters, criminal activity, bad haircuts and worse wardrobes, and yet our anti-hero du jour has seemed to outdo them all. Sam Bankman-Fried, better known by the three letter acronym SBF, burst onto the scene at the peak of the 2017 bubble, founding Alameda Research that September, just four years after graduating from an internship into a full-time position at one of the world’s largest market makers, Jane Street Capital.
SBF is the son of Stanford Law professor and founder of left-wing super PAC Mind The Gap, Barbara Fried, and Stanford professor Joseph Bankman, an expert on tax shelter laws and government regulation. At the start of 2018, SBF had struck digital gold while taking advantage of the arbitrage opportunity presenting itself between a higher demand for bitcoin in the Asian market, colloquially known as the “kimchi premium”. By the end of the year, and after amassing a considerable fortune from this high-volume bitcoin/dollar spread, he officially moved to Hong Kong, formally founding the derivatives exchange FTX in the following spring.
The Bitcoin network that SBF rode from rags to riches and back again was partially launched in direct response to the fiat money experiment rearing its ugly head in the subprime mortgage, real estate and eurodollar crises that culminated into what is now known as the Great Financial Crisis of 2007 to 2009.
Source: SBF, FTX, and other Three Letter Agents
Bitcoin Magazine, 7 December 2022, Read Online
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Words of Wisdom
“Asceticism means that a man resolves to live as a man.”