Sign up for newsletter >>
No. 655: Jones Fails to Walk the Line

No. 655: Jones Fails to Walk the Line

📅 Today, Davis gives Justin Jones free PR, we visited the Forging Freedom event in Putnam County, and Megan reports on the mayor's transit initiative.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Rep. Justin Jones declined to say the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor yesterday. "I couldn’t bring myself to join their performative patriotism as they continue to support an insurrectionist for president and undermine liberty and justice for all," Jones tweeted after the fact, further emphasizing how alienated he is from the particular concerns of Tennesseans.

There are a lot of obvious jokes to make and things to say here, but I don't want to dignify his hijinks any more than I already am by bringing it up. It's self-evidently Jones' latest effort to grab a headline. Having shown no real interest in doing the job traditionally expected of an elected official, he instead chooses to fall back on the activist antics he knows best.

To those with unvarnished disregard for the state’s Republican supermajority, Jones is a welcome presence: a human wrecking ball disrupting the corrupted halls of power. His appeal to Democrats isn’t all that different from disaffected Republicans’ view of “insurrectionist” Trump.

But Jones’ abilities are limited. He’s a bit of a one-note harpy with no detectable capacity for humor. Trump has a bit more range and a couple of different registers, and most importantly, he makes people laugh.

Jones’ ability to earn coverage from us and outlets like us indicates his presence, like Trump’s, is infuriating enough to critics, but distinct from Trump, they aren’t really scared of Jones. You can’t say the same for Trump.

Jones is more a nuisance than a threat—even if he uses insurrectionary language to try and scare members of the House into doing what he wants. It’s a strategy that’s unlikely to work, but hey, at least he got a write-up about it. Wonder how his PR team bills for that.




Forging Freedom brings grassroots energy to the outskirts of Middle Tennessee

The Bloomington Springs Community Center sits at a near dead end about three miles from the Love’s just off I-40 in a far corner of Putnam County. It's the perfect place for church revivals and chili suppers in an unincorporated area in which a little under 1,400 people reside. It’s also a place out of time, far removed from the political hijinks of Legislative Plaza and the politicos of the surrounding rural counties who have made waves in the General Assembly continuing on its rightward march.

And that’s exactly why podcaster and musician Connor Buckingham chose it for the site of his “Forging Freedom: Christians in the Public Sphere” event the last weekend of January, an evening of frank talk about the intersections of politics and the church featuring Tennessee Stands founder Gary Humble and former state representative Terri Lynn Weaver. 

A Washington native who moved to the Cookeville area a few years ago to work in church ministry and teach music, Buckingham is also the co-host of Forge and Anvil, a weekly podcast with the goal of “Hammering out uncomfortable conversations about culture and politics to sharpen ourselves for the race set before us.”

Since the show began in 2022, Buckingham has made a name for himself in local political discourse. He’s a young father with a passion for the church and a quiet rage over our deteriorating cultural landscape free from the stodginess of elder media personalities and the theatricality of his millennial contemporaries who profit handsomely from stoking the culture wars. 

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

“It might be taking about another week longer,” said Mayor O’Connell when asked about his transit referendum at this morning’s media roundtable. The delay, O’Connell explained, is because WeGo and NDOT are still working on their respective fiscal analyses. 

When asked if there’s a possibility he could say no to a transit referendum this go ‘round, O’Connell said yes, but he’s “still very optimistic.”


A bill aimed at ensuring hospital visitation privileges may have a chance of making it through the House and Senate this year. 

During the pandemic, many families lost access to their hospitalized relatives. Even cases wherein one held the power of attorney, visitation could be barred. As these isolating circumstances took their toll, legislators gathered at the capitol in October 2021 for a COVID-related special session. At the time, Dr. Wendy Long, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association, expressed concerns over the legislature loosening hospital visitation restrictions. Two years later, some lawmakers are still fighting to prevent excessive patient isolation from happening in the future.

Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Rep. Kip Capley (R-Summerton) have sponsored a bill that would allow a person holding power of attorney to have “at least one in-person visitation with the principal for each day the principal is in a hospital.” What makes the bill distinctive isn’t just its visitation allowances, but its insistence that visitors shouldn’t be subject to invasive safety protocols (e.g. shot requirements) before visitation.

Though the bill has picked up a couple of co-sponsors in the Senate, the Tennessee Hospital Association keeps moving the goalposts regarding the bill’s language. During Pody’s presentation before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, the association’s Zach Blair thanked the bill sponsor for his collaborative efforts, then promptly opposed the bill. Next in line to speak was Holt Whitt, the Department of Health’s assistant commissioner for legislative affairs. Whitt told the committee the administration opposed the bill because the limits it places on the governor’s authority during an emergency “could be problematic in the future.”

Despite being zero for two when it comes to garnering support from the THA and the governor, the legislation is far from dead. Many legislators are pledging support of the bill in both the Senate and the House. 


Nearly 600 immigrants could travel to Middle Tennessee, Homeland Security says (WSMV) The notice sent by DHS was titled: Intended Destination of Noncitizens Processed at the Southwest Border. It detailed the department’s processing of noncitizens at the border, what happens once they’re released from custody after processing, and their travel to listed intended destinations following their release.

King cotton: Tennessee continues to expand its growth (Lookout) While the crop is still a major contributor to the economies of Mississippi, Alabama and other southern states, Tennessee is the only state expected to grow the number of acres planted with cotton.

Tennessee awards $21M in federal funds for EV chargers (Center Square) Of the 167 applications from 23 applicants, Tennessee will award 10 of them grants to build 30 new charging stations across the state. Tennessee will be receiving $88 million in federal funding over five years for the project.

Governor Bill Lee Appoints Judge Mary L. Wagner to the Tennessee Supreme Court (Star) Then-Governor Bill Haslam first appointed Wagner to the circuit court in 2016. She was re-elected to the position two years later in 2018 and again in 2022. The Tennessee Supreme Court also appointed Wagner to be a special judge for the Tennessee Workers Compensation Appeals Panel.


  • 12South building previously housing bike shop to see update (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.


🎺 Crooked Rhythm Band No. 1's @ The Blue Room, 8p, $19.41, Info
+ performing music in the style of West-African luminaries like Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango and Fania All-Stars

🎹 Clyne, Mozart and Prokofiev @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $25+, Info

🪕 Stillhouse Junkies @ Station Inn, 9p, $25, Info

🪕 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info

🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info


The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week.

Argylle No, our copy editors didn’t make a mistake. That’s how this espionage comedy about a thriller writer (Bryce Dallas Howard) who realizes her work is a little too true to life when she’s brought into a web of spies is spelled. Kingsman helmer Matthew Vaughn directs a cavalcade of stars, including Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa, Sam Rockwell, John Cena, Bryan Cranston, and Samuel L. Jackson. Now playing in theaters

Swoon: A Love Series: The Belcourt is the ultimate Valentine’s Day destination with a host of classic romances like Casablanca and City Lights as well as  beloved contemporary entries, including weepfest The Notebook and Richard Linklater’s restored Before Trilogy. Those sick of love even have a chance to ruin the vibe with the slasher classic My Bloody Valentine. This weekend brings His Girl Friday–the ultimate studio era Hollywood comedy that finds Rosalind Russell as a hardscrabble reporter and Cary Grant as her dapper editor. Monday is reserved for Harold and Maude–Hal Ashby’s May/December stunner set to the sounds of Cat Stevens.

January Giallo with Footprints/Torso Record snow staved off the bloodletting for a few weeks, but no longer. In the former, a translator wakes up and tries to piece her life together Memento-style in a world with abstract perspective and a dour Klaus Kinski. The latter follows a group of college kids fleeing their university town for a remote cabin after a string of eviscerations on campus only to find the killer may have followed them there. Avoid concessions and see the films that influenced every slasher released since. Playing this weekend at the Belcourt.

See full list
In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

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.
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.


  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • 🤼 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)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.