Sign up for newsletter >>
No. 654: There's Another Way
Photo by Ricardo Ardon / Unsplash

No. 654: There's Another Way

📅 Today, Davis lays the ground for Jano Tantongco's excellent piece on political developments in El Salvador, and Megan talks about efforts to by legislators to push back against federal overreach.

Good afternoon, everyone.

We’ve got a great piece today from Jano Tantongco on political developments in El Salvador. Jano’s mother fled the war-torn country in the ‘90s to come to the United States. I’ve talked about El Salvador here before, so President Nayib Bukele’s efforts to crack down on gang activity will be familiar to many of you.

The piece does an excellent job revealing the diaspora’s feelings toward their former home. Many of them have elected to return; others make more frequent visits. Bukele and his party, Nuevas Ideas, seem earnestly concerned with citizens’ quality of life.

Aside from wiping out gang violence, Bukele’s other celebrated initiatives include the construction of a hydroelectric dam, the completion and maintenance of the country’s roads, and the repair of a long-neglected hospital. Cheap political sloganeering and virtue signaling are almost entirely absent from his public messaging.

Bukele’s success shows that America could deal more effectively with the migration crisis by encouraging and enabling stability in countries like El Salvador. But his triumph has not come without its detractors. Just yesterday, Rep. Ilhan Omar led a coterie of other congressional members in urging the Biden Administration to “address ongoing threats to democracy and human rights in El Salvador ahead of next month's elections.” By all accounts, Bukele and his party’s success has occurred through purely democratic means.

More than anything I’ve read on this topic, Jano’s piece makes this abundantly clear. Salvadorans love what he has done for their country. It makes them proud to call it home. We can only pray, at this point, for such a leader to emerge in the US.

“It’s hard to argue with the people’s will, as well as Bukele’s clear-cut results,” Jano writes. “But, if we put ourselves into the shoes of his critics—the NGOs, obsolete media, and establishment bureaucrats—it’s clear to see what they’re afraid of: if the people understood how simple (simple, but not necessarily easy) it was to fix society’s problems, they would not want anything else.”




President Nayib Bukele’s Historic Transformation of El Salvador

A revolution has taken place in a small Central American nation. Once gang-infested streets are safe. The economy is flourishing. Volcanoes are powering Bitcoin miners.

Up until just a few months ago, you may not have heard about El Salvador at all. Geographically, it’s the smallest country in Central America, about the size of Massachusetts, with a population of about 6.5 million. Its national dish—stuffed tortillas known as pupusas—idyllic beaches, and kind-hearted people might be better known if the country weren’t held back by extreme violence and instability—until now.

Like much of South America, the history of the country is characterized by political instability and extreme violence. In 1980, a bloody 12-year civil war sparked between the right-wing nationalist government — which had just taken power in a coup d’etat — and a coalition of left-wing rebel groups, the culmination of escalating tensions, stark poverty, and skirmishes over territorial control. And even after the civil war ended in 1992, it wasn’t long before gangs rose to power with horrific brutality, including the infamous MS-13.

By 1990, more than one million people were displaced in the war, with many migrants crossing the border into the United States. My mother was one of them.

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

Yesterday was the last day for House Reps to timely file their bills, and today is the Senate’s deadline. As legislators scramble to dot all their i’s and cross all their t’s, we’re keeping our eye on a bill introduced to protect state sovereignty. 

As reflected by Governor Greg Abbott's recent actions to tackle the crisis at his state’s border,  securing sovereignty has re-entered the public consciousness. Last year, Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) and Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) put forward the "Restoring State Sovereignty Through Nullification Act." Though it garnered wide support in the House, earning 16 co-sponsors, it failed in Senate committee last March. 

This year, it seems the notion has morphed into a new proposal: on January 26th, Sen. Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun) filed the “Tennessee State Sovereignty Act of 2024.” Yesterday, the Senate bill gained its companion in the House, sponsored by Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski). The main difference between the old bill and the new is largely bureaucratic. 

Lowe’s legislation would create a 10-member committee, something last year’s bill did not include. The committee, made up of both House and Senate speakers and their appointees, would meet bi-annually or by request of the chairs to “monitor and review federal acts, laws, orders, and regulations that may impact the jurisdiction, governance, sovereignty, or civil liberties of the residents of this state.” 

There are four ways a complaint regarding the federal government can be brought before the committee: 

  • Through a people’s petition: signatures of at least 100 residents from no less than twenty counties. 
  • By the General Assembly: signatures from at least fifteen representatives or three senators.
  • By the governor: an executive order.
  • By the Attorney General: upon special request.

The committee would determine whether there is a violation via a simple majority vote; if the committee decides to take action, they would draft a “resolution of noncompliance” or “a declaration of resistance.” The piece of legislation would then go before the state legislature for vote, either during a regular or specially called session.


During yesterday’s Health and Welfare Committee meeting, senators heard from Andrew Thibault, a documentary filmmaker who won a pro se FOIA suit against the FDA which allowed him access to “700 drug adverse event reports” withheld by the agency in which “homicide… was reported as the medication side effect.” 

“The Davidson County Medical Examiner requested what's known as an ELISA test,” Thibault said in regards to Audrey Hale’s toxicology report. “It really amounts to an employment screening.” Thibault went on to compare Hale’s toxicology test with that of Connor Sturgeon. “To put it in context, the amount of Alprazolam–- which is also known as Xanax— that was found in Sturgeon’s toxicology was 15.9 nanograms per milliliter,” he explained. “That's seven times lower than what would have been detected by the ELISA test.” 

Thibault called the county’s test request for Hale’s toxicology report scandalous. “It was NMS labs that conducted the test,” he said. The private laboratory, known for conducting a variety of esoteric toxicology reports, also “did the test on Stephen Paddock, the Vegas shooter, and they did what's known as an HPLC, or high performance liquid chromatography, which has a much higher sensitivity and detected three metabolites of Diazepam in his system.”

The laboratory also tested Connor Betts, the Dayton shooter, “and found Alprazolam. In that case, they used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. So, I would argue that the ELISA test is the answer to a question that nobody is asking. It amounts to an employment screening.”

Throughout his presentation, Thibault called for transparency and for the legislature to consider all information when prescribing policy solutions. 


'Missing middle' housing targeted in Nashville zoning reform push (Post) Broadly speaking, the goal is to get the private sector to build more homes for middle-income residents by making it easier to build different types of housing across the city, in turn allowing Metro to redirect its own efforts to those in severe need.

92 Tennessee counties saw lower unemployment in December (Center Square) Unemployment rates dropped in 92 of Tennessee’s 95 counties in December. Overall, the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate sits at 3.5% while the national rate is at 3.7%. That meant that Tennessee’s rate remained between 3.1% and 3.5% throughout 2023.

A Tennessee congressman is drafting a TVA accountability reform bill (WPLN) The bill would address TVA for its lack of public participation, accountability and transparency, such as how it calculates and publicizes the estimated costs of new energy sources or potential for sources like demand response programs and wind energy.


  • Music Row commercial building sells for $2.25M (Post)
  • Giarratana to reinvent closed Gold Rush on Elliston Place (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.


🎸 Josh Rouse Residency @ The 5 Spot, 6p, $20, Info
+ melodic folk singer-songwriter

🪕 Jason Carter @ Analog at Hutton Hotel, 7p, $10, Info
+ renowned fiddler

🎸 Ryan Scott @ Dee's Lounge, 9p, $12.51, Info
+ groovy guitar driven rock n roll

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. 653: Push Polls and Automobiles
🗓 Today, Davis talks about how much citizens in Nashville rely on cars and Megan reports on a TEA push poll regarding the proposed ESA program.
No. 652: The Sting
📅 Today, Davis talks about sting operations and Megan introduces Metro’s new lobbyist.
No. 651: To blame, or not to blame
📅 Today, Davis talks about gun thefts from cars, Miles previews the Super Bowl, and Megan updates us on the governor’s office and looks at what Justin Jones has been up to.
No. 650: No one likes the TSA
📅 Today, Davis dismantles the TSA, Jerod reviews The Iron Claw, and Megan rounds up the latest from our two senators and the mayor’s office.
No. 649: Constitutional Crisis?!
📅 Today, Davis talks about the border, Hamilton joins us to talk about the promise of nuclear energy in a small Middle Tennessee town, Megan thinks about transit, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.


  • 🤼 The Iron Claw is a Heartland epic. Of course it isn’t an Oscar contender. (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.