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No. 581: Reading the News
Photo by Vedrana Filipović / Unsplash

No. 581: Reading the News

📅 Today, Davis reads the tea leaves, and Megan looks at the AG's fight with ICE and O'Connell's solar agenda.

Good afternoon, everyone.

While Freddie O'Connell is busy tweeting about bus lines, I thought it'd be a good time to read the tea leaves of some national headlines.

Occasionally, the generally scatterbrained drip of news stories congeals into something with shape. One recent story that's had a weird resonance is the PR-manufactured relationship between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce (sorry, girls).

With Kelce—referred to as Mr. Pfizer by Aaron Rodgers—shilling vaccines, Swift promoting voter registration, the Tennessean hiring reporters specifically to write about her, and op-eds with headlines like 'If anyone should be worried about Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce, it’s Trump' circulating, it's hard not to wonder if there's some other agenda at play here. 

A wholly different, but not entirely unrelated, assortment of stories broke this week and point in a similar direction:

  1. On Monday, Yellen conceded that the US is too reliant on China.
  2. On Tuesday, Matt Gaetz launched a successful ouster of Speaker McCarthy.
  3. On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced its intent to complete the border wall.
  4. The same day, Newsmax published an article about the FBI monitoring Trump supporters.

Taken in toto, you can wring a narrative out of this collection.

Following Kevin McCarthy’s removal from his position as Speaker of the House, Democrats and moderate Republicans clearly have some concerns about the MAGA faction’s growing power. Democratic opposition aside, members of the GOP have even started to turn on Gaetz.

In light of this concern, it’s notable that Yellen's remarks and the Biden administration's sudden urgency regarding the border both represent planks of the MAGA agenda: build the wall and become less reliant on China.

If, as the Newsmax story suggests, there is serious concern in DC about the violent impulses of Donald Trump's army of MAGA followers, then both Yellen's concession and the administration's sudden decision to secure the border could indicate an attempt to quell what the government perceives to be simmering unrest.

I have no idea how serious or unserious these concessions are, nor do I believe the government will actually act on either concern; but, taken in light of the successful disruption of official proceedings in Congress by the small but vocal MAGA contingent, it's hard not to see these developments as the federal government finally acceding to MAGA’s core demands.

With the above in mind, the Kelce-Swift relationship could be a way to take on MAGA from another angle, tugging at the group’s "vaccine hesitancy" and mitigating their mistrust in companies like Pfizer and institutions like the CDC by partnering with the most successful tight end in NFL history who is now dating the world's biggest pop star on a mission to liberate her music catalog from the evil clutches of George Soros (yes, I'm serious).

As formerly interesting columnist Rick Reilly puts it in that WaPo column, "What if they decided a fun couples thing to do would be to… I don’t know… save democracy?" Get a hobby, Rick. You're not good at this anymore.

In something of a Faustian bargain, maybe Swift cut a deal with Soros to “get out the vote” in order to regain control of her art. The Kelce relationship is merely a way for her to expand her reach into the MAGA hinterland of NFL fandom.

With some token concessions and well-placed celebrity endorsements, Democrats are setting the table for 2024 just in the nick of time.

All conspiratorial thinking aside, this poses an interesting question: if the Biden administration adequately addresses the concerns of ardent Trump supporters, will they even realize it or care?

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters," Trump joked back in 2016. For a certain contingent, that is certainly still true and reveals that politics is quickly becoming existential in the US.

The delicate arrangement that holds political disputes in the balance is quickly giving way to a more primal reality: politics is war and neither coalition will be satisfied without complete and total victory.


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On Monday, General Skrmetti filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s  “publicized plan to transport adult noncitizen detainees—many with dangerous criminal histories—from Louisiana detention facilities and release them into Tennessee.”

Back in December of 2022, Governor Lee caught wind of ICE’s plan to dump “single adult detainees”— illegal immigrants—  in the Volunteer State. He then joined Senators Hagerty and Blackburn in demanding the Biden administration reverse the plan.

“This is irresponsible and a threat to the safety of Tennesseans,” Lee wrote in an official statement. “Furthermore, we already have a national security crisis at our border, and the Biden administration’s attempt to revoke Title 42 will only incentivize more illegal crossings.”

Since then, state officials submitted multiple FOIA requests in an effort to determine what the federal government was doing in Tennessee: the suit filed on October 2nd against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and the Deputy Director of ICE Patrick Lechleitner, is a follow-up.

“ICE’s rejection of transparency is all the more troubling because of the humanitarian crisis resulting from ICE’s misdirected priorities,” said the AG in Monday’s press release. “No federal official is exempt from public accountability.”


On Tuesday night, Mayor O’Connell delivered a speech during the first meeting of Metro’s new council, emphasizing his intent to actively pursue the “fifteen fixes” he outlined on the campaign trail.  

Most of the time, campaign promises are services, insincere gestures that fall flat; however, it seems O’Connell plans to stick to his fifteen fixes. We’re already witnessing his devotion to a “frequent transit network,” which he described as expanding on transit in Davidson County by bringing it “closer to communities, [extending] hours and frequencies, and [introducing] more technology.”


Let’s take a look at one of the more ambitious, potentially controversial fixes: converting all Metro buildings to 100 percent solar by 2027. O’Connell developed a renewable portfolio plan to revamp Metro’s energy policy and make the transition possible.

It’s worth noting that multiple donors to O’Connell’s campaign were connected to solar and clean energy initiatives. Notable companies such as Silicon Ranch, a “full-service solar and carbon solutions company”; Pattern Energy, which operates across North America to “develop, construct, own, and operate high-quality wind, solar, transmission, and energy storage projects”; and RenUSA, which lobbies for “new, utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects,” just to name a few.


Middle Tennessee city ranked among best small cities in America (WSMV) Not only did Brentwood make the top 10, but this suburb of Nashville was ranked No. 3 behind Carmel, Indiana and Lexington, Massachusetts.

After inflation's boom, here's how Nashville ranks for affordability (NBJ) Inflation has soared over the past two years, but Nashville remains relatively affordable with one notable exception: the cost of housing. Nashville ranked as the 38th most affordable among the nation's 100 largest metros.

Blackburn more than doubles Johnson’s fundraising haul in third quarter (TNJ) Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood landed $2.7 million in contributions in the third quarter, more than doubling the $1.3 million haul announced by Democrat Gloria Johnson earlier on Wednesday.


  • The Union Station Nashville Yards Completes Signature Room Renovations (Now Next)
  • Boat Manufacturer Announces $75 Million Investment Project in East Tennessee (Star)
  • Brooklyn honky-tonk concept set for East Nashville (Post)
  • East Nashville restaurant, sports bar to open second location (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and our 2023 southern festival guide and 🎥 2023 movie guide.


🥁 Makaya Mcraven @ The Blue Room, 8p, $38.83, Info
+ prolific jazz drummer

🎸 Gregory Alan Isakov @ Ryman Auditorium, 7:30, $39.50+, Info

🎸 Oz Noy feat. Dennis Chambers & Jimmy Haslip @ The Underdog, 9p, $30, Info
+ funk, rock, blues & jazz guitarist

🪕 The Slocan Ramblers @ Station Inn, 9p, $15, Info

💀 Madball @ The End, 6:30p, $23, Info
+ legendary based NYHC band

🍀 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
+ vet community here

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 580: The Rump of History
📅 Today, Davis talks about Kevin McCarthy getting ousted, Tyler Hummel talks with David Payne whose one-man-show Churchill plays at TPAC this week, and Megan recaps last night’s council meeting.
No. 579: The Worst Candidate in History
📅 Today, Davis talks about the mayor’s race in Franklin, we revisit Jano’s piece on mental illness, and Megan previews tonight’s Metro Council meeting.
No. 578: It’s Below My Line
📅 Today, Davis talks about priorities, Miles recaps the Vols victory on Saturday, and Megan summarizes Freddie O’Connell’s inaugural address.
No. 577: Everyone Knows What’s Coming
📅 Today, Davis ponders if the new Metro government knows what’s ahead, Megan takes a look at some key players on the council, and Jerod furnishes his weekly film rundown.
No. 576: Is Tennessee Breaking Up with D.C.?
📅 Today, Davis talks about states distancing themselves from D.C., Jerod gets us ready for the 54th Nashville Film Festival starting today, and Megan takes a look at the latest analysis from the Sycamore Institute.


  • 🚬 A conversation with David Payne ahead of his sold out one-man-show Churchill at TPAC (Read)
  • 🎓 Franklin Filmmaker Ryan Whitaker offers a much-needed respite from the dominant Christian movie mode by refusing to shy away from grappling with belief. (Read)
  • 🎞 The Pamphleteer's Fall 2023 Streaming Guide (Read)
  • 🧠 The rise of mental illness as a trendy identity marker in America's social media era (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.