Good morning, everyone.
Well, we're a week on in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and no better informed on what the likely outcome is to be. What's clear from observing Western media's reaction to the conflict is they are desperate to portray Russia as the evil bad guy and Ukraine as the blameless good guy as if both sides fall along an even good/evil axis straight out of a Marvel movie. I'm not here to settle any scores between foreign nations whose internal politics and history present enough material to consume a lifetime, nor to mount a defense of either nation, but to draw a comparison between what we know as Democracy and what we know as Autocracy.
As we often discuss here, a defining feature of autocratic government is leaders separating themselves from the people. In the modern world, think Vladimir Putin ensconced in his Golden Palace delivering polemics to rile up an international conflict and Joe Biden offering terse, scripted updates while refusing questions from reporters and haunting the halls of DC like the Phantom of the Opera with the demeanor of a cow who has just received a bolt from a stun gun.
Democracy, on the other hand, is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the street fighting alongside his fellow citizens. Seems likely that Zelenskyy is not actually on the frontlines, but that it’s a media campaign to gin up popular support for Ukraine in the instance that NATO intervention is actually required, but the distinction, whether real or not, should be indicative enough. Tyrannical leaders hide. Democratic leaders don’t.
For Americans and the rest of the Western world, the lesson from this conflict is quite simple: dependence on foreign energy leads to war. To further pursue green energy initiatives at the expense of domestic production is a fool's errand.
Today, we discuss the potential upgrades to the Titan's stadium, take a look at the Supreme Court and the changes that have beset it over the years, and look, yet again, at how insane housing prices are in some parts of the country.
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✮ DIRT ROADS SHOULDN'T LEAD TO NEON CITIES
There have been conversations circulating in Metro Nashville about making a significant upgrade to Nissan Stadium. So far, the main concern of the taxpaying public is that the plans seem to require a reallocation of infrastructure funds. Right now, it looks as though money would be funneled away from much needed infrastructure maintenance and directed towards an upgrade to the stadium. What, exactly, does the upgrade entail? That’s anyone's guess at this point — though Councilman Bob Mendes patched together a comprehensive breakdown of the different ideas that are being thrown out there in an informative blog post.
The real goal of the stadium upgrade would be to attract sporting event opportunities to the city. Glorious daydreams of hosting the Super Bowl have Nashville vendors, Metropolitan politicians, and NFL fans drooling over the idea. But questions remain: Will an upgrade paid for by the taxpayers truly make the difference, and can the city handle the upgrade without other necessary upgrades to the city?
Let’s quickly look at a few facts. If Nashville were to truly become a viable host for the Super Bowl, the current NFL rules would require our stadium to have a retractable roof or dome. Why? Because of the warm weather rule. The NFL won’t allow Super Bowls to be held in temperatures less than 50°F unless the field is completely covered. Is this doable on Metro’s infrastructure budget? The other fact is that many funding models that have brought new opportunities through the building of new stadiums or upgrades to existing stadiums have been successfully privately funded.
The most recent Super Bowl was held in SoFi Stadium, the privately funded home of the Las Angeles Rams. In Nashville, the construction of a new soccer stadium is also a privately funded endeavor that hopes to draw World Cup action to Middle Tennessee.
The closest deal to compare the Nissan Stadium upgrade to would have to be the upgrades to the Nashville Motor Speedway. $75 million dollars in renovations will be financed by 30-year revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority. The main difference between this sort of deal and the Nissan Stadium is that Nascar hasn’t raced in Nashville for decades and these upgrades will bring the franchise back to Music City — a guarantee the Nissan Stadium “upgrades” can’t deliver.
When all is said and done, Nashville continues to capitalize on the city’s ever growing popularity. While the attraction brings fresh dollars to the city’s economy, it’s important for our leaders to take care of the more mundane necessities of a metropolitan area. When assessing how the Nissan upgrade is handled, remember that dirt roads shouldn’t lead into neon cities.
- Report finds reasons for Middle Tennessee worker shortage (WPLN) Many residents are pursuing gig work and remote opportunities in pursuit of a more favorable work-life balance. Some would-be-workers are also still without reasonable childcare, even as the pandemic starts to slow.
- Predators retire Pekka Rinne's No. 35 (Post) For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have a retired jersey hanging in their rafters. There’s only one Pekka Rinne, so it’s only fitting that no future Nashville Predator will ever wear No. 35 ever again.
- Nashville mayor promises improvements to trash pickup process (WSMV) According to Metro officials, the local waste provider, Red River, has consistently been unable to meet its residential service obligations. As a result, Waste Management will take over up to 12 daily trash collection routes servicing 49,000 homes under a new, 120-day emergency agreement.
- Music Row property sells for $1.8M (Post)
- Residential project planned for east side (Post)
- Site near The Nations eyed for residences sells for $5.75M (Post)
⌘ WHAT'S FAITH TO A JUDGE?
In the wake of Joe Biden's appointing of Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court after pledging to select a black woman for the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, it's worth observing how the makeup of the Supreme Court has shifted rapidly over the past thirty years. The importance of identity in Jackson's selection is not altogether unique to the selection of justices. Reagan, for example, selected Sandra Day O'Connor to gin up support from American women.
Race aside, one dimension of the Supreme Court that has changed most apparently is the religious diversity of those on the bench. In total, there have been 115 Supreme Court Justices in the United States. Justice Jackson, assuming she is confirmed, will make 116. Of the 115 justices, 91 of them have been broadly Protestant, led by Episcopalians, who account for 33, and Presbyterians, who account for 18. At present, however, there are no Protestants on the Supreme Court — though Gorsuch is a complicated and potential exception to this — and the last Protestant to receive the nomination was David Souter in 1990.
Today, the Supreme Court is represented by 7 Catholics and 2 Jews. Breyer, who is Jewish, will step down. Jackson, his replacement, has not revealed anything about her religion. Her credentials make it difficult to discern. She is an active presence on the National Council of Jewish Women which suggests she is Jewish, but has also served on the board of a Christian school in Maryland.
The fact of one's faith has been expressly excluded from qualification for public office as outlined in Article VI of the Constitution which declares that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The Jewish Dianne Feinstein famously scorned this restriction in her questioning of the Catholic Amy Coney Barrett in 2017 claiming that “dogma lives loudly within you” in reference to Barrett's faith and stance on abortion, so it's clear that one's religion colors their qualifications in some ways, but using religion as a rubric to fill the bench is prohibited. Using race and gender as a rubric is not prohibited.
Nonetheless, it's worth wondering how the Supreme Court went from an institution that represented the majority to one in which minority groups fight it out while the majority is expressly excluded — NPR even goes so far as to speculate that Protestant Americans are ill-suited for the position because their Catholic and Jewish brethren are more intellectual.
What's most likely is that minority coalitions have found it easier to claim positions in the Judiciary than they have in the Legislative or the Executive branches. Protestants continue to overwhelmingly dominate the House and Senate. Additionally, the Catholic Joe Biden is only the second non-Protestant President, the other being the Catholic John Kennedy. The pipeline to the Supreme Court for Catholics and Jews seems to be the most developed and promising route to claim a position of serious authority in the American political system in the absence of majority support. For now.
What's interesting is that as the Judiciary has become the bastion of various minority groups in the US, it has also gained an outsized presence wherein rulings laid down by the court have received the same treatment as laws passed in the legislature. The balance of power in the three branches of government overwhelmingly favors the Executive, at present, but the Judicial branch's influence has begun to color the directives of the Executive moreso than the Legislative branch which basically functions as an extension of the Executive branch at this point.
Many issues, such as gay marriage, find more of their grounding in court rulings from the Civil Rights Era than they do in Constitutional law as passed through the legislature. This may help to explain why minority policies, which by definition lack support from the majority, find their place in the courts against the popular will of the people as expressed through the Legislative branch. Much to say about this...
➫ TODAY IN NUMBERS: HOUSING PRICES
Contrary to expectations at the outset of the pandemic which predicted a collapse of the housing market, the price of a new home shot up by 20% between February 2020 and September 2021 in the US. However, there has been great variability across the US.
Due in part to lower inventory and rapid relocations around the US in response to the growth of remote work, areas such as Boise, ID have seen housing prices increase as much as 30% since the beginning of the pandemic while NYC and SF have seen a price increase of around 5% which reflects the general tendency of workers to relocate away from urban centers and into less populated mid-sized cities.
Source: Why, and Where, are Housing Prices Rising?
EconoFact, February 2nd, 2022, Read Online
⚔︎ MISSIVES ⚔︎
- ☢️ White House and NATO officials on Sunday responded to a statement issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would activate his strategic deterrence forces, which includes his country’s nuclear arsenal.
- 🎭 The House of Representatives is lifting the House floor mask mandate in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
- 🦠 Scientists found genetic material owned by Moderna in the COVID-19's spike protein. They identified a tiny snippet of code that is identical to part of a gene patented by the vaccine maker three years before the pandemic.
- ✅ Donald Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll on Sunday, with 59 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the former president in the 2024 presidential primary.
- 👾 America’s biggest microchip company is investigating a potential cyberattack that has taken parts of its business offline for two days. Nvidia’s email systems and developer tools are understood to have been suffering from outages over the last two days, after what is believed to have been a malicious network intrusion.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
Notable events this week
- TN Brew Works is serving 2,000 lbs of boilt crawfish on Saturday and Sunday
- Supertalk 99.7 is hosting a State of the Union watch party at the lively Bold Patriot
- Black Dynasty Ramen is serving up high-quality ramen with guest chef, El Maizestro
- Jordan Peterson is speaking at the Ryman on Wednesday — The Pamphleteer will likely catch up with him at Robert's on Thursday.
⚜ Nashville Mardi Gras celebration guide
🖌 At the Cheekwood, Spanning the Atlantic, The Arts and Crafts Movement, an international trend in the decorative arts that originated in the British Isles during the 19th century.
🎩 History Class @ Bold Patriot Brewing, 5:00, Info
🎸 Harry Fontana @ American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info
💃 Swing Dancing Lessons @ The Bold Patriot, 8p, Free, Info
🌊 Blood Tide @ Full Moon Cineplex, 9p, $7, Info
+ 1982 British adventure/horror film
🎹 Jazz Jam @ The Villager, 11p, Free, Info
⏚ TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE GROUND: KELLY'S HEROES
The Pamphleteer spent Saturday night at Robert's Western World watching Kelley's Heroes, a Pamphleteer favorite and the greatest show on Broadway. They're a honky tonk trio who consistently whip their crowd into a frenzy of dancing, stomping, hollering, smooching, hat tossing, and other joyous outbursts. That's the reaction you get when you develop your show as Barnum & Bailey would. I've seen them around 30 times over the past two years and every time I go, I see something new. Pay attention to their cover of Fire on the Mountain by Marshall Tucker, it's a performance years in the making.
GET 'EM WHILE YOU CAN
🌕 Full Moon Cemetery Lantern Tour (03/18) @ Montgomery Bell State Park, 7:30, $10, Info
🎸 Buddy Guy (03/26) @ The Ryman, 7:30p, $80, Info
🐷 Primus a Farewell to Kings tour (05/09) @ The Ryman, 7:30p, $55+, Info
🎸 My Morning Jacket (9/23) @ Ascend Amphitheater, 7p, $40+, Info
FROM LAST WEEK
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Around the Web
↘ Bring Back Risk Our increasing aversion to taking chances creates dangers of its own.
❏ You Can't Fix the Housing Crisis with New Houses We need new cities.
Political Theater Highlight Reel
- John Kerry worried Ukraine invasion will divert attention from Climate Change
- Nikole Hannah-Jones claims that 'Europ is not a continent' and that it is a 'geopolitical fiction' used as a racist dogwhistle.
- In Los Angeles, a city audit found the city spends $837,000 to house one homeless person
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Words of Wisdom
"Our republics cannot exist long in prosperity. We require adversity and appear to possess most of the republican spirit when most depressed."
Dr. Benjamin Rush