Sign up for newsletter >>

Today's Takes: Thursday, September 2

Vol. I, No. 81 • A Journal of Freedom • Buccaneer • Based Heartland • Woke-acracy • TN Infrastructure • Changing Diets • Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Earlier this week, Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) tried to fly over to Afghanistan to get five Americans—a mother and her four children—out of the country. How did he plan to do this? Well, he wanted to smuggle cash across the Tajikistan border and charter a helicopter to deliver them to safety.

After receiving a firm no from the US Ambassador to Tajiikistan, John Mark Pommersheim, Mullin disappeared for a bit. People wondered if he'd gone missing only for him to resurface on Instagram, reassuring followers that he was safe, that the mission wasn't over, and how disappointed he was with the Biden administration leaving behind so many Americans.

Predictably, outlets across the nation cried foul. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy shrieked disapproval while jokes piled up declaring Markwayne Mullin the male version of the eponymous Karen. "Can I speak to the manager of Tajikistan?"

But to the contrary, what Mullin set out to do is an incredible act of courage and creativity—the kind of thing that many believe has gone extinct. This is a story one imagines hearing as a young boy and reenacting.

All the best words like piratical, swashbuckling, and buccaneering come to mind. Mullin, a former college wrestler who inherited his father's plumbing business, comes from a far different background than the pale, paunchy bureaucrats producing policy at the State Department. Mullin is not some James Bond-like international spy dropping out of helicopters on the regular. Mullin is "just a guy" who lives and grew up in landlocked Oklahoma. A state absent vegetation and whose highest point is basically just a rock that sits 5,000 feet above sea level.

Just consider for a second the logistics and chutzpah required to fly half-way across the world with the hair-brained plan of enlisting the US Government's help in assisting him to smuggle a pallet of cash across the border so he could pay a helicopter pilot to airlift a family out of one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Mullin was not a Navy SEAL. This is not an ordinary impulse. When people talk about "doing something", it's usually throwing a paltry donation at a charity or talking about the issue on social media to signal to everyone that you are thinking about said issue.

Markwayne Mullin's trip around the globe expresses a life-affirming, positive vision of the world in which good conquers evil and in which a citizen can take into his own hands responsibilities a government fails to uphold. Such an attitude sits at the root of America's founding. To the contrary, the bureaucrats and journalists decrying him reflect a decidedly nihilistic, life-denying role wherein any unnecessary expression of human desire or will has to be properly analyzed and contextualized to fit within some pre-approved narrative. Mullin broke outside of these bounds and acted creatively.

We can compare Mullin, a blue-class, middle American type, to the more distinguished birth of Anthony Blinken, the Jewish son of a Hungarian ambassador. Blinken was educated at Harvard and Columbia and has worked in D.C. since finishing school. Presumably developing an "expertise" in foreign relations over the course of his schooling, Blinken supported the Iraq War in 2003 and after Obama left office, parlayed his intelligence and state department connections into a consulting service that connected Silicon Valley companies to defense contractors. Blinken is a great example of a D.C. technocrat who clings to the rotting bureaucracy and wrings it dry of all its worth.

It's easy to see how incentivized Blinken is to perpetuate wars abroad. Of course, this is just business as usual up on the hill. Upon taking on the role of Secretary of State, Blinked absolved himself of all involvement with his consulting firm and another private equity vehicle he started to invest in defense, government service, and aerospace industries as well as COVID-19 relief. Blinken, after the Biden presidency ends, will likely return to these posts where he'll continue to make money hand over fist encouraging the maintenance of some low-level fear that'll be profitable for him and his partners.

Experts like Anthony Blinken would probably burn up like a paper doll in the Afghan heat. Blinken grew up under the buzz and flash of fluorescent bulbs shuffling papers and opining on topics he had no material knowledge of outside of a couple of books he read on the topic. For perspective, consider the now-deposed leader of Afghanistan, Ashraf Gahni who literally wrote a book titled Fixing Failed States. Seems he didn't know as much as he lead on.

Richard Hanania writes a great essay on the failures of expertise where he gets into how ineffective the promotion of people within the American bureaucracy is. He compares our system of promotion to France which requires that aspiring leaders pass aptitude tests on their way up the ladder as they outcompete others seeking the same role.

American politicians climb the ladder by writing papers on narrow, abstract matters and through self-serving nepotism which seeks to consolidate power in fewer and fewer hands while enriching anyone who plays ball and doesn't appear too capable. Not difficult to see how such a system might produce a war as inane and useless as the war in Afghanistan. If we're to use Blinken as a case study, we at least understand what incentives lead them there: money.

Mullin, on the other hand, expresses the self-sufficient, foolhardy independent attitude that Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at when he wrote his classic Democracy in America in 1835. I'll leave with a quote from that book:

The very desire to be free. Do not ask me to analyze that sublime desire; you must feel it. It finds its way into great hearts that God has prepared to receive it. It fills them; it inflames them. To mediocre souls that have never felt it, one cannot hope to make it comprehensible.


📰 Today's Front Pages

  • Reuters: New York, New Jersey declare emergencies, at least 9 reported dead in record rains (Read)
  • New York Times: At Least 8 Dead as Ida Swamps New York City Area (Read)
  • Wall Street Journal: At Least Eight Killed as Ida Remnants Batter Northeast (Read)
  • Fox News: Ida remnants bring death, destruction to Northeast, days after storm slammed Gulf Coast (Read)
  • CNN: Ida triggers massive flooding across Northeast (Read)
  • NPR: Supreme Court Upholds New Texas Abortion Law, For Now (Read)
  • Breitbart: Pro-Life Win: SCOTUS Lets Texas Six Week Abortion Ban Stand (Read)
  • HuffPost: Supreme Court Declines To Block Extreme Texas Abortion Law In 5-4 Ruling (Read)

🏛 On the Hill

  • Biden pressured Ghani to create ‘perception’ Taliban weren’t winning (NY Post)
    • That the tape leaked shows the intelligence agencies and military brass seem to hate Biden as much as they did Trump.
  • Humorless politics a sad sign of our times (The Hill)
    • Funny anecdote: "My favorite story is the one Udall used to tell about the politician who was visiting an Indian reservation right before an election. If they voted for him, he promised a new hospital for the reservation: “Goomwah, Goomwah,” the tribe responded. Udall said the politician then added if they voted for him, they'd get a new school: “Goomwah, Goomwah” was the enthusiastic reply. As the self-satisfied politician was leaving by the horse corral, Udall said, the tribal chief cautioned him to be careful not to step in the goomwah."

🏜 From the Based Heartland

  • What’s Really in the Texas Voting Law (WSJ)
    • The law actually increases the number of hours the polls are open.
    • "The Texas bill isn’t a blockade of the ballot box. The two most-cited provisions will ban 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, practices that weren’t even used until last year, when one county tried them in a pandemic. It isn’t crazy to think polling sites are likelier to attract trouble, or at least suspicion, at 3 a.m."
  • Texas law banning abortion as early as six weeks goes into effect as the U.S. Supreme Court takes no action (Texas Tribune)
    • Cringe Take: "The Taliban would love the Texas abortion law." (@StephenKing)
  • Constitutional carry law now in effect in Texas (News 4 SA)

💸 It's Not About the Money

Valuing companies based on something other than their actual financial performance is an attempt to upend centuries of acquired knowledge about money and markets. Below are two examples of the recent push to separate stock performance from reality.

  • Cathie Wood’s new Ark ETF has no place for banking, oil or sin (Fortune)
    • The fund’s holdings will be determined based on transparency scores, which will consider the company’s adoption of certain transparency standards, legal proceedings, and reputation.
  • Sustainable shoemaker Allbirds files for IPO and reveals continued losses (CNBC)
    • "The company is conducting what it calls a Sustainable Public Equity Offering, which means it’s holding itself accountable to hit certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) targets."
    • Allbirds hasn’t made money since it was founded, nor does it envision becoming profitable in the near future.

🦄 Woke-acracy

  • As US Schools Prioritize Diversity Over Merit, China Is Becoming the World’s STEM Leader (Quillette)
    • "In 2017, the National Foundation for American Policy estimated that international students accounted for 81 percent of full-time graduate students in electrical engineering at U.S. universities; and 79 percent of full-time graduate students in computer science."
  • Federal Judges Dismiss ‘Frivolous’ Leftist Case Arguing Postage Stamps Are ‘Jim Crow’ Poll Tax (Federalist)
    • “Voting always involves some cost, whether that cost is measured in time, gasoline, bus fare, or a postage stamp,” Dimino said. “It is inconceivable that every cost of voting is an unconstitutional ‘poll tax or other tax,’ within the meaning of the 24th Amendment.”
  • White supremacist praise of the Taliban takeover concerns US officials (CNN)
    • Uh, oh. People are saying mean things on the internet again.
  • It's 'White People' (The Root)
    • One of the more racist articles I've read in a while.
    • That crick in your neck? Yep. That's White People.

🚮 Veggie Burger in Paradise

  • The ‘Hedonistic Altruism’ of Plant-Based Meat (NYT)
    • Question that wasn't asked: "What is the difference between dog food and Beyond Meat?"

Original Essays

👋 Tell Them Phil Valentine Said, “Hey”: As legacy media revels in the COVID-related death of Nashville’s conservative talk-radio legend, we should remember his legacy of personal and governmental accountability.  (Read)

In case you missed it

  • Masked Dereliction by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)
  • Total Recall: California’s September election by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)
  • Entourage's Last Stand by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)
  • 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' and the Evergreen Ills of American Politics by Jerod Hollyfield (Read)

Tennessee Infrastructure

🌉 These charts show which states will get the most money from Biden’s infrastructure bill (CNBC)

Nashville Politics

  • Metro Arts Staffers Allege Mistreatment, Racial Bias by Agency Leadership (Scene)
    • In short, a woman who seemed to not like her job, often showed up late, and is prone to associate words like 'angry' with white supremacy (no, I am not joking), was subject to a performance review. She quits before the performance review comes because "racism" or something.
    • For example: “In my experience and research,” Tribble wrote, “I identify the term ‘angry’ and phrases ‘lacks professionalism’ and ‘don’t want to be here’ as dog-whistle phrases, racial microaggressions and covert threats.”

Nashville News

  • Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan show at Bridgestone Arena postponed (Tennessean)
    • Because ol' Joe got COVID.
  • MNPS will not provide COVID-19 sick leave for unvaccinated teachers, staff (Main Street)
  • 11 Bridges Damaged In Flood, Some Need Total Replacement (WPLN)
  • Tootsie's owner offering $500 incentive for employee vaccinations (WSMV)
  • Rep. Tim Burchett Cosponsors Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to East Tennessean Killed in Afghanistan (Star)

Nashville Development

  • Here’s why 5 headquarters relocated to Williamson County (Post)
    • "Alone, these relocations represent 980 jobs and more than $11 million in area investments."
    • Four factors influenced the moves: the size and education level of the labor pool, cost of living, state and local tax structures and the ease of doing business within the community.
  • State vote looms for Oracle's $65M grant (Biz Journal)
    • "Oracle has scouted downtown offices for as much as 100,000 square feet or more of interim space, according to multiple sources. The state grant would be one of the largest on record."
  • Texas, Tennessee snag the most California HQs as exodus accelerates, study finds (Biz Journal)
  • E Spaces slated for The Nations (Post)
  • Image released for Ferrari dealership (Post)
  • Pie Town property sells for $9.5M (Post)
  • Leaders weigh in on Nashville's office market after $46 million sale (Biz Journal)
  • Society Nashville – A Newly Proposed Mixed-Use Development In the Gulch (Now Next)
  • New Renderings Provide More Context Into the Proposed ‘Novel Belle Meade’ At Lions Head Village (Now Next)

Nashville Life

🪓 The Sword @ Mercy Lounge, 8:30p, $18 (Info)
🎸 Musician's Corner: September Sundown @ Centennial Park, 5p, FREE (Info)

COVID Gutter

🦠 End the Case Count


  • COVID-19 Hospital Admissions Fall for First Time in Weeks Across US: HHS (Epoch Times)
  • CDC Director Walensky Tells Unvaccinated People: Don’t Travel Over Labor Day Weekend (Epoch Times)
  • 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated (Axios)
  • California Assembly drops proposal for statewide vaccine mandate (KTLA)
  • Art Basel gets complicated: Swiss authorities will not accept Astra Zeneca vaccine while US issues ‘do not travel’ advisory (Art Newspaper)
  • In Israel, Being Fully Vaccinated Now Means Three Shots (WSJ)
  • US Centers for Disease Control Urges Americans to ‘Reconsider’ Travel to Canada (Epoch Times)
  • Virginia Tech Disenrolls 134 Unvaccinated Students (Epoch Times)


  • The Left’s Hysteria About Kids And COVID Is Much Worse Than QAnon (Federalist)
  • The Crumbling Justification for Vaccine Passports (NR)

The Modern American Diet

🥖 What’s on your table? How America’s diet has changed over the decades (Read)

Have a great Thursday