The Tennessee Legislature has spent much of the past few years focusing on conservative Christian-based “education” bills, and has become so much of a joke that Governor Bill Haslam recently was forced intervene, and suggest they shelve the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The Governor has chastised the media for actually covering all the archaic, religion-based bills that have made a mockery of the institution itself, bills like one that would classify hand-holding “gateway sexual activity,” and bills that preach abstinence-only sex education. Even a cyber-bullying bill was debated, but of course did not pass after one lawmaker was upset that students who literally bullied classmates to death might become criminals, claiming thatÂ poor parenting and not bullies are the cause of gay youth and teen suicides.
Fortunately, today is the final day of the Legislature’s session.
Last week, lawmakersÂ supporting the “Don’t Say Gay” bill compared same-sex marriage to bestiality, then Republican state Rep. Steve Cookson, the bill’s sponsor in the House,Â grew upsetÂ and said he felt misunderstood when Tennessee citizens expressed anger.Â TennesseeÂ stateÂ Senator Stacey Campfield, then sponsor of the Senate’sÂ “Don’t Say Gay” bill has claimed (falsely) it’s virtually impossible to contract HIV through heterosexual sex.
The fate of the infamous Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would make it illegal to discuss anything related to homosexuality, is now in doubt. One of the sponsors of the House version reportedly has decided he will not bring the bill to the floor today, although until the session is officially ended, he still can.
“An education measure known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was posed for final action in the House, despite Haslam’s call for lawmakers to focus on other education issues,” the Knoxville News Sentinel reported:
But Republican Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald told The Knoxville News Sentinel on Sunday night that he won’t seek a vote on the measure in exchange for a pledge from state education officials that they will send a letter to all state schools “telling them they cannot teach this subject in grades kindergarten through eight.”
“With that assurance and the opposition of some people who didn’t want to vote on it, I’ve decided simply not to bring it up,” said Hensley.
Perhaps what was most embarrassing for supporters of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was its sheer and utter uselessness. Aside from the fact that there are civil liberties issues at stake, and that the bill would demonize homosexuality even more, the bill, it turns out, was drafted to fix something that did not exist.
The “Don’t Say Gay” billÂ was placed on hold last month after lawmakers realized that the bill was not only unnecessary from their own standpoint, but counterproductive as well. In grades K -8, the bill would have made it illegal to discuss homosexuality in any manner at all, and allow only the discussion of heterosexual reproduction.
Lawmakers in the House put a hold on the bill upon learning â€” after more than two years of debate â€” that Tennessee does not have sex education classes in grades K â€“ 8.
“We found out there really is not sex education curriculum in K-8 right now,â€ GOP Rep. Bill Dunn, one of the billâ€™s sponsors said.
In Tennessee, yet another ludicrous and poorly-drafted bill, the “embryo bill,” has became law. Miscarriage is now murder in Tennessee, under certain circumstances, which the bill insufficiently defines.
Earlier this month, the legislature passed a “monkey law” bill that protects teachers who teach creationism, and those who welcome â€œdebateâ€ on culture war issues, like global warming. The Governor was too embarrassed to sign the bill, but allowed it to become law anyway.
The Tennessee House last week passed a bill that would force thousands of Tennessee children every year to take a â€œmaturity testâ€ to enter kindergarten. The Senate did not act on the bill.
Senator Stacey Campfieldâ€˜s bill requiring drug testing â€” presumably, urine tests â€” for welfare recipients last week passed in the Senate by a 24-9 margin. The House did not take up the measure.
The Legislature also passed the now-infamous hand-holding-is-gateway-sexual-activity bill, “drafted by a conservative Christian organization,” and it’s on it’s way to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk. Will he sign it?
Image viaÂ Flickr.
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Peter Doocy Admits No ‘Concrete Evidence Joe Biden Personally Profited’ From Hunter’s Business
In a report focused on House Republicans’ plan to vote on a resolution to open an official impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy told viewers there is no evidence of impeachable offenses.
“The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business but they are going to try again with this impeachment inquiry set to start next week,” Doocy, who often criticizes President Biden in White House press briefings, said Friday on Fox News Business.
Other news outlets this week have also stressed Republicans have come up empty-handed.
The right-leaning news outlet The Hill, reporting on the resolution Thursday, noted Republicans’ current investigation “has struggled to connect President Biden to the activities of his son, and they’ve failed to prove their most salacious allegation — and the one that would be most key for impeachment: that the president accepted a bribe.”
One of the main pillars of Republicans’ allegations against President Biden, the “narrative that President Biden pushed Ukraine to fire its prosecutor to help his son, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burimsa, has largely been refuted,” The Hill also reported.
“Republicans have engaged in wide-ranging inquiry into Mr. Biden for months,” The New York Times reported Tuesday, “hunting for evidence to back up their allegations that he corruptly profited from his family members’ overseas business dealings and accepted bribes. To date, they have failed to deliver compelling evidence to back up their boldest claims.”
Watch Doocy below or at this link.
Peter Doocy: “The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business.” pic.twitter.com/a5N44hIRrQ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2023
Jobs Report Forces Fox News to Admit Biden Economy ‘A Lot Stronger Than Anybody Understands’
The monthly jobs report released Friday morning is being heralded as “robust,” “upbeat,” and “stronger than expected,” as unemployment again dropped to a near-50-year low (3.7%) while the economy added another 199,000 jobs.
“It’s the little engine that could, and this little locomotive keeps a chugging along…” declared professor of economics and public policy scholar Justin Wolfers.
“So the last three months have seen jobs growth at a very healthy average rate of +204k per month,” he added. “For context: Average monthly job growth from Jan 2000 to Dec 2019 was +87k.”
“If I had asked you a year ago to sketch what you thought a soft landing might look like,” he said, praising America’s post-COVID pandemic economy, “it’s likely you would have pretty much drawn the current economic data.”
On Thursday, Wolfers had discussed the incongruence between what economic data consistently shows about the strength of the U.S. economy, and what Americans are telling pollsters.
“There’s no question people are telling pollsters they’re miserable about the economy. But riddle me this,” he asked, “Why can’t we find evidence of this pessimism in anything other that public opinion polls? Every non-poll based indicator of confidence suggests folks are optimistic.”
Heather Long, The Washington Post economic columnist, offered this view in response to Friday’s jobs report.
“Step back for a minute and look at this US job market,” she wrote.
“4.7 million more jobs than pre-pandemic
Below 4% unemployment for two years
Wages growing faster than inflation
Women (ages 25 to 54) at an all-time high for labor force participation”
Even Fox News was forced to deliver positive comments while reporting on Friday’s monthly numbers.
“Overall you’ve got to look at this report as a big positive,” admitted pro-Trump Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “We’ve got more jobs created than expected.”
Speaking to the former chief economist of The White House National Economic Council under President Trump, Bartiromo said, “Joe LaVorgna, you’ve been saying this, the economy is a lot stronger than anybody understands.”
Watch below or at this link.
it’s time for my favorite Friday tradition — Maria Bartiromo having to cope with announcing another strong jobs report pic.twitter.com/bsOIQToEwe
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2023
Right Wing Evangelicals Are ‘Marinating’ in ‘Information Aimed at Making Them Fearful, Hostile’: Journalist
Rather, he argued, it is part of a deliberate campaign to radicalize and terrify them into loyalty — and part of what’s driving that is a “disproportionality crisis” of the information they are receiving.
““If you go to church on Sunday morning, you are going to be in the word with your pastor for, you know, 30 minutes, maybe 40, 45 minutes, and you sing some songs, and you say the prayers, and then you are out in the world for the rest of the week,” said Alberta. “And for most of these folks, as they’re out in the world, they are marinating in talk radio, in cable news, in social media—all of this information that is aimed at making them angry, fearful, hostile.”
Whereas they may hear Jesus’ message of tolerance, love, and forgiveness “on Sunday morning for 45 minutes, but then for 4, 5, 6, 10 hours during the week, you’re hearing the exact opposite. And it’s that ratio being so far out of whack that I think is really at the heart of the crisis here.”
And that’s assuming they’re at a church that will even give them messages of love and forgiveness in the first place — many pro-Trump pastors, like Greg Locke of Tennessee, have messages that are far angrier.
“[Trump] may not share their views, he may not sit in the pews with them, he may not read the good book like they do, but in some way, that’s his superpower,” Alberta explained. “He is free to fight in ways that are, you know, unrestrained, unmoored from biblical virtue. And that relationship with Trump has obviously evolved over the last eight years. What started as this very uneasy alliance for a lot of evangelicals with Trump has now morphed into this situation where, look, desperate times call for desperate measures. The barbarians are at the gates and we need a barbarian to keep them at bay.” This means that Trump’s increasingly dictatorial rhetoric is a natural outlet for the rage and frustration these evangelical voters are being fed.
None of this is to say that Trump has completely unified the evangelical world. Cracks have appeared in recent months, with prominent evangelical leaders like Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis out of concern about Trump’s electoral viability.
Editor’s note: Tim Alberta is an award-winning g journalist, a staff writer for The Atlantic, and author of “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” and “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”
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