SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 2023
...on programs like Morning Joe: Everywhere President Roosevelt looked, he saw a constellation of human conditions—conditions which actually matter.
Also, he saw "a challenge to our democracy." This was part of FDR's second inaugural address:
ROOSEVELT (1/20/37): But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. But it is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope...
That's what President Roosevelt saw everywhere he looked. By way of contrast:
Everywhere we look, we see lazy, multimillionaire "journalists" spilling from clowncars on programs like Morning Joe.
Millions of American children are still growing up in difficult conditions. Millions of other people are trying to enter the country, trying to escape worse conditions elsewhere.
You'll rarely hear about such matters on programs like Morning Joe. Instead, you tend to hear a lot of uninformed clowning and Storyline-scripted guff—as, for example, on yesterday morning's show.
The program had just aired videotape of a fleetingly accurate public statement made the day before.
The fleetingly accurate public statement concerned the types of people who haven't been expelled from the Tennessee House. Knowing nothing about the topic, but Joe and Mika reacted:
JOE (4/7/23): You listen, and you find out, the people who committed domestic violence—
MIKA: Yeah. And sexual abuse.
JOE: —and other abuse, allowed to stay in there. Even if you urinate in a fellow member's chair, you get promoted in Tennessee to the leadership.
So cool! It made for wonderful messaging—but to what extent was it accurate?
You can of course be fully certain the Joe and Mika had no earthly idea. They were drawing on the public statement by Rep. Justin Jones, and they were assuming that what Jones had said was accurate.
The show had just played tape of Jones' statement. This is what he had said:
REP. JONES (4/5/23): Let's talk about expulsion. For years, one of your colleagues who was an admitted child molester sat in this chamber: no expulsion. One member sits in this chamber who was found guilty of domestic violence. no expulsion.
We had a former Speaker sit in this chamber who is now under federal investigation: no expulsion. We have a member still under federal investigation: no expulsion.
We had a member pee in another member’s chair in this chamber: no expulsion. In fact, they're in leadership, in the governor's administration.
We can't honestly say that Rep. Jones is a stickler for perfect accuracy. After lengthy attempts at fact-checking, we can't say that he described any of his five examples in a reasonably accurate way.
Inevitably, Joe turned to the exciting statement about the member who urinated in his fellow member's chair. It made for wonderful messaging—but has any such thing ever happened?
As best we can tell, no member of the Tennessee House has ever been accused of such conduct, let alone found to have done such a thing. The reference seems to take us back to the summer of 2019, to a semi-accusation which seems to have been floating around about Michael Lofti, a legislative staffer.
In a failed attempt to report this matter, Business Insider described the incident as stated by Rep. Gloria Johnson, who seems to be even less reliable about such matters than Rep, Jones. At any rate, Business Insider said this:
[Rep. Johnson] also called out a lawmaker who was accused of peeing in the seat of another legislator, saying that no one was punished. The lawmaker accused of urinating on the seat has denied the allegations.
So Johnson's version of the story flowed! Sadly, Business Insider linked to this August 2019 news report in the Nashville Tennessean as the source for this claim. The news report makes a fleeting reference to Lofti's denial.
Having said that, alas! Apparently, Business Insider hadn't noticed. But despite what Jones and Johnson have said, Lofti wasn't and isn't a lawmaker / legislator / House member, though he does now work as a staffer to the governor.
Presumably, Lofti couldn't have been "expelled" from a seat in the House which he never held. Beyond that, there seems to be no apparent evidence that any such urination episode ever really occurred.
It's always possible that some such incident did take place. But Tennessee journalists have made no attempt, down through the years, to report or discuss the alleged, and long-forgotten, apparent non-event.
Needless to say, Scarborough didn't know any of this as he swung into action. He simply proceeded with Storyline, in the insultingly stupid way our own tribe's message teams do.
Credit where due! In the (Nashville) Tennessean, Vivian Jones has written a lengthy, fair-minded report about this week's unfortunate events. As you can see below, she named two of the people to whom Rep. Jones referred in the statement we've posted above.
In our view, she seems to have glossed her accounts of those matters in a way which favors Rep. Jones. She skipped past other cases where the accuracy of Rep. Jones' claims might be harder to defend.
Still, two or more cheers for Vivian Jones! Along the way, her reporting conveyed the way civility has possibly ceased to exist within the Tennessee House.
VIVIAN JONES (4/7/23): Former House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, is currently under federal indictment on corruption-related charges. He did not run for reelection amid the federal charges, but no action was taken to remove him from his seat. No action was taken against former Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, who faced child sexual abuse allegations from decades earlier.
In response, Rep. Sabi “Doc” Kumar, R-Springfield, accused Jones of having called him “brown face” after a recent committee hearing.
“In all those 53 years in America, I have never encountered a racial slur. I’m really not sure any of that applies to me. I live a good life,” Kumar said. “Yet, you on tape called me a ‘brown face.’ Yes, sir. It’s on tape. It’s on tape. You called me that after a committee meeting on that same day. … You shoved your finger in my face and said, ‘Kumar, they will never accept you.’ You said it twice, and you were so intimidating that the sergeant at arms without my invitation came in to intervene between us.”
Jones later explained from the podium that he had said Kumar “put a brown face on white supremacy.” Kumar is the only non-white member of the Republican caucus.
It seems to us that Vivian Jones may have glossed her accounts of the Casada and Byrd matters. Concerning the "one member [who] sits in this chamber who was found guilty of domestic violence," we're assuming that was a reference to Rep. Torrey Harris, who hasn't been "found guilty of domestic violence," but who was arrested on two related counts in July of last year.
Rep. Harris is 32. He's a gay black man from Memphis. He was arrested with respect to a very trivial incident involving himself and a former boyfriend, and the pair's pet dog.
According to the Daily Memphian, the case against Rep. Harris was "retired" in January of this year. That said, he's a young gay black Democrat from Memphis—and, in spite of his arrest on those two charges, he wasn't expelled from the legislature by the Republican super-majority.
(Presumably, he's the person Joe was referring to when he clucked about "domestic abuse.")
Meanwhile, Rep. Jones hadn't called Rep. Kumar "brown face." He had merely said that Rep. Kumar "put a brown face on white supremacy." Or so Rep. Jones has said!
At any rate, things have come badly undone in this body, as is true elsewhere around the nation. Events of the past week seems to have made that clear.
In our view, the lazy rote conduct of people like Joe and Mika doesn't especially help. Meanwhile, blue tribe members shouldn't assume the accuracy of the various Storyline Tales we receive from the people the corporation has taught us to think of as friends.
Over the course of the past dozen years, nationwide messaging has increasingly mixed the red and the blue with the black and the white. Given the brutality and the emotional power of global and national racial history, it's a dangerous way to play the game—and no, you can't necessarily believe the things our political heroes and corporate tribunes will be inclined to tell us.
We hope the two reps get reinstated. We hope Rep. Harris prospers. That said, we return to yesterday's looming questions:
Who the heck lost Tennessee? Aside from repeating stupid stories, how do we get it back?