Stockard on the Stump: Congresswoman Greene to headline Wilson County Trump Day dinner

By: - June 18, 2021 5:01 am
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's comparison of wearing masks and vaccination labels to the persecution and murder of Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust drew a rebuke from GOP colleagues. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comparison of wearing masks and vaccination labels to the persecution and murder of Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust drew a rebuke from GOP colleagues. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, fresh off an apology trip to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, is slated to be the guest speaker at the Wilson County Republican Party’s Trump Day Dinner in October.

Terri Richman Nicholson sent a Facebook message to members this week notifying them the party is “excited” to have Greene to speak at the Oct. 7 event at the Wilson County Expo Center. 

The message elicited responses such as “Date Saved. I will be there!!” and “Great speaker,” and “Democrats are so stupid. Removing her from committees made her a national figure. They multiplied her platform a hundred fold. Even if she is a bit bizarre.”

For those who sleep under rocks, Greene is the Georgia Republican who, among other oddities, compared COVID-19 vaccination cards and masks to Nazi Germany’s forcing Jews to wear a gold star as they perpetrated the Holocaust.

She might have been taking a jab at the Biden Administration. But the question remains: What does getting a vaccination and trying to avoid a deadly disease have to do with human extermination, one of the worst crimes in history? The answer is: nothing.

Greene, the Georgia Republican who, among other oddities, compared COVID-19 vaccination cards and masks to Nazi Germany’s forcing Jews to wear a gold star as they perpetrated the Holocaust, will be coming to Lebanon in October.

Before that bit of strangeness, the House stripped Greene of her committee assignments because of comments she made casting doubt on the Parkland school shooting, supporting violence against Democrats and for embracing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. She’s been a QAnon follower, too, though she later said she was “allowed to believe things that weren’t true,” according to reports. Those views are so bizarre they aren’t worthy of repeating.

Greene recently issued an apology over her COVID-19/Holocaust comparison after visiting the Holocaust museum. I’ve made apologies to my wife, too, after making stupid statements, mainly about why I should play golf every Saturday. 

But her pattern of weirdness is a problem because she represents tens of thousands of Georgians, casting votes that affect American laws and policies. Apparently, some people continue to believe in her, no matter what. And the Wilson County Republicans are falling in line, trembling in anticipation.

This is not surprising. After all, these are the same voters who keep re-electing Republican Rep. Susan Lynn, who has been linked to Qanon in some reports, and Republican Sen. Mark Pody, who introduced legislation this year allowing people to opt out of vaccinations for religious reasons and, two days ago, chastised the state’s health commissioner for encouraging teens to be vaccinated.

Obamacare to stand

Tennessee took a loss this week in the courts when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a lawsuit led by Texas to dismantle Obamacare.

In a 7-2 ruling, the justices rejected the challenge by Republican-led states and the Trump Administration to block the 2010 law, determining they didn’t have the legal right to file the lawsuit.

The court found opponents of the law suffered no harm because Congress already eliminated the penalty for people who fail to buy health insurance.

Craig Fitzhugh, Mayor of Ripley, Tenn. (Photo: Facebook)
Craig Fitzhugh, Mayor of Ripley, Tenn. (Photo: Facebook)

Great news Tennessee! Expand Medicaid Now! A 1 day special session for joint resolution and the Guv can request expansion, pick up a quick billion dollars, save lives and ensure 300,000 working people get insured who can't afford it now.

– Ripley Mayor Craig Fitzhugh on Twitter

“They have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority, which included recent Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. No doubt their backers are in disbelief.

Michele Johnson, executive director of Tennessee Justice Center, called the ruling a “huge victory for all Americans, including the 31 million who were in immediate danger of losing their health care in the midst of a deadly pandemic.”

Johnson said people can “breathe easier” knowing their health insurance won’t be disrupted. She pointed out the Affordable Care Act protects others besides those receiving coverage directly through the marketplace, including people with pre-existing conditions and those who’ve faced barriers to care.

“It is still appalling that our state chose to participate in this lawsuit, which received widespread criticism from legal experts and leaders of both political parties,” Johnson said in a statement.

Tennessee was one of 17 states that joined the lawsuit, and Attorney General Herbert Slatery had this to say in response: “The Court did not address the constitutionality of the ACA, only the procedural posture of this specific case. While we are disappointed that the fundamental constitutional issue remains unresolved, we respect the majority’s opinion and the Court’s commitment to the rule of law.”

Former House Democratic Caucus Leader Craig Fitzhugh tweeted this: “Great News Tennessee! Sup Court says Obamacare is here to stay! Expand Medicaid Now! A 1 day special session for joint resolution and the Guv can request expansion, pick up a quick billion dollars, save lives and ensure 300,000 working people get insured who can’t afford it now.”

Plenty in the pot

The state will end the fiscal year with more money in the coffers than expected as May revenues came in at $1.6 billion, some $432 million more than projected. They were $587.3 million more than in May 2020, a growth rate of 59.8%.

Last year, people were staying home as the pandemic took off, killing the economy. With people taking shots and shrugging off COVID-19, the rate of infection is low statewide and people are ready to put the pandemic in the potty.

“May sales tax revenues, reflecting April taxable sales activity, grew across all industries except for groceries and food stores, which experienced a minor reduction,” Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley said in a release.

Tennessee is flush with money, in large part because of federal bailouts and budget-cutting. Banks also have so much cash they don’t want to take on the burden of more federal funds getting ready to flood the state’s cities and counties. Nor are they enthused about taking on those massive deposits because they have to pay interest on them and won’t be able to make much money considering the slim margins connected to free federal funds.

The biggest problem on the horizon, though, could be inflation. Building costs are beyond ridiculous, driving up the expense of home construction. Consider that one 2-by-4 at Lowe’s costs more than $13, compared to just a couple of dollars not long ago, and there’s no doubt some sort of correction coming. 

More Ketron complaints

Rutherford County resident Joe Liggett is asking District Attorney General Jennings Jones to audit the mayoral campaign of County Mayor Bill Ketron because of financial discrepancies.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron speaks to residents in a March address on COVID-19. (Photo: rutherfordcountytn.gov)
Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron. (Photo: rutherfordcountytn.gov)

Liggett filed a complaint this week seeking a “full independent” investigation of the mayor’s finances, contending the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance “has done some auditing but people aren’t sure how much of it can be trusted …”

Ketron, a former Republican state senator, already faces $135,000 in civil penalties from the Registry board for 470-plus findings in audits of his Senate, Quest PAC and mayoral campaigns. Liggett and many others aren’t satisfied.

The complaint points out Ketron’s annual year end supplemental report for 2017, which was amended April 13, 2021, shows the account had $54,118 but that the Registry of Election Finance audit shows the mayor had $36,265 in his campaign fund, a difference of $17,852.

“I understand that some payments may be outstanding at this time. If there is missing money, though, where did it all go? Why can’t the taxpayers get anybody to give accounting of where all of the money went from beginning to end? Will you please audit to the beginning to explain to people why there is such a discrepancy,” Liggett’s complaint says. 

He also asks for the release of all of Ketron’s bank records and a more exhaustive audit of Ketron’s Senate and PAC accounts stretching back in time.

In addition, the complaint requests a closer look at “anonymous” donations Ketron’s mayoral account received and Capital One payments, plus payments to UII, which could stand for Universal International Insurance, Ketron’s former business.

“People want answers and truth,” Liggett’s complaint says.

The Registry of Election Finance is set to look at Ketron’s case again in July. But whether DA Jones will take up Liggett’s complaint is unclear. Jones was not available for comment this week, and more than likely he would recuse himself and farm it out to an unsuspecting district attorney, if he takes any action at all.

A new Carter in town

The wife of the late Rep. Mike Carter was sworn in this week to fill his District 29 seat until a replacement is elected in Hamilton County.

Joan Carter took the oath of office Tuesday to serve in the House of Representatives.

“Proud to welcome Rep. Joan Carter as the newest member of our General Assembly. We are grateful that Joan has answered the call to carry on Mike’s incredible legacy of public service. We know she will serve her community honorably and with the utmost integrity!” House Speaker Cameron Sexton tweeted.

Two people qualified to run by Thursday at noon in the special state primary election to fill the seat: Democrat DeAngelo Jelks, executive director of Never Leave a Fallen Comrade, and Republican Greg Vital, co-founder of Morning Pointe Senior Living.

Brooks is back

Gov. Bill Lee is inviting country music fans to set a new Nissan Stadium attendance record at Garth Brooks’ concert on July 31 and to include the Volunteer State in summer travel plans. The governor often says he wakes up each morning thinking about tourism and other ways to make people’s lives better, though expanding Medicaid isn’t among them.

Garth Brooks is the top-selling solo artist in history and holds attendance records in more than 75 cities, but this will be his first appearance at Nissan Stadium, according to the governor’s office.

Gov. Bill Lee says he wakes up each morning thinking about tourism and other ways to make people’s lives better.

“Music City is roaring back, and it’s about to be louder than ever thanks to renowned artist Garth Brooks,” Lee said in a statement. “Get your tickets, buy the boots and help us set an all-time attendance record at Nissan Stadium. Let’s show the world that Nashville is open and country music is stronger than ever before.”

The COVID-19 crisis is over, according to Lee, and it’s now just a situation. Time to cram into stadiums and sing and spit all over each other.

 

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

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