Network of Enlightened Women Founder and President Karin Lips Discusses Her Motivation and Helping Conservative Women Find Their Voice on College Campuses

Network of Enlightened Women Founder and President Karin Lips Discusses Her Motivation and Helping Conservative Women Find Their Voice on College Campuses


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the founder of the (NeW) Network of Enlightened Women, Karen Lips to the newsmakers line to discuss what motivated her to start NeW and how she intends to help conservative women find their voice in college communities.

Leahy: We are joined now by Karin Lips who’s the founder of the Network of Enlightened Women. A very brave person. Karin, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report this morning.

Lips: Good morning. Thank you for having me on and thank you for your kind words.

Leahy: So 2004 you are a student at the University of Virginia. I’ve been there, by the way, Charlottesville. Nice town.

Lips: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Leahy: It’s very beautiful of course. went to Monticello and went up and looked at to all around to the great historic facilities there. And of course, the campus is beautiful as well. But the intellectual freedom atmosphere not quite so beautiful. Tell us about your experience there in 2004 when you came back and told the officials at the women’s center that you wanted to start a conservative women’s group there?

Lips: Well, like many young people I had the experience of interning in Washington D.C. for my home state senator, Senator Lugar. I really appreciated the chance to be surrounded by smart and ambitious women who wanted to talk about the issues of the day and wanted to include conservative voices. I went back to UVA for my third year of college and sought out that environment. And unfortunately, as you hinted, the women’s groups weren’t open to more conservative voices.

I even went to our women’s center which is in a building right near the center of campus and had a tour with a faculty member there at the end. She had been recruiting me for all kinds of programs there. And I asked if they would be interested in co-sponsoring a group for conservative women. She looked at me like I was crazy, chuckled, and said not here. That was my experience.

Leahy: Yeah that’s the way it works isn’t it?

Lips: Yes, at a major public university. The woman’s institutions just weren’t open to more conservative voices. And as a result, I ended up starting the Network of Enlightened Women known as NeW and as a book club so that women could read the stories and hear conservative policies from conservative women.

I started that 16 years ago and it is continuing to grow one chapter at a time. And I’m excited to share that. We are on campuses across the country. We’ve got an active presence in Nashville with some awesome women from Belmont. A very active group. And we are going to be hosting our leadership retreat for our top leaders around the country in August in Chattanooga. I’ve never been and I’m really looking forward to it.

Leahy: Chattanooga is a wonderful place. And by the way, send all of your Belmont University chapter members here to The Tennessee Star Report. We’ll have them in the studio on the program. And I noticed you have media fellowship opportunities. We are always looking for great writers at the Star News Network. We have six conservative news sites in states around the country like Tennessee and Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. And so right now here on the air, I will tell you any intern you send our way, we’ll work with them.

Lips: Well, I appreciate that kind offer. And you mentioned our student media fellows program. That’s a program we started because we truly believe that women are the future of freedom. and for women to be great advocates we’ve got to help train them. So this is a program where we help college students learn to write their first op-ed and do their first radio interview with the goal of getting them trained so they can become advocates of freedom and America’s founding principles and speak out for those.

Not just while they are students on campus but in the years to come and their communities. We think that’s just so important to get them trained because it seems like women on the left are pulling us further left like AOC and her Democratic socialism. They’re pulling us further left. And we need strong advocates on the right. And so that’s why we’ve got programs like our student media fellows training college women to write and be great messengers.

Leahy: Well, the other thing that I noticed is the huge peer pressure to be a brain-dead leftist on campuses today is I think unimaginable compared to what it was like years ago. How do conservative young women survive with that kind of intellectual onslaught against them?

Lips: It’s tough out there. We should not minimize that It’s just tough on college campuses. And that’s why I knew one of the things we needed to do is to create a community. We find college women that want that community and that want that intellectual home. Many of them feel very alone. One of the things in my job I get to see is we find these amazing women on these college campuses and a common theme is they just feel very alone.

So we create that community to bring them in. And then we are also working to make it socially acceptable might be a way to phrase it for women to self-identify as conservative and speak out. This year 2021 we deemed it the year of the conservative woman. And so as part of this program, we’re celebrating conservative women and really creating that national community. Each month we’re doing an online Facebook live discussion with a conservative woman leader.

In March Kay Coles James president of the Heritage Foundation on for a lively conversation. So we are highlighting and celebrating and promoting conservative women across our platforms. We are on Instagram where a lot of college students are trying to give them the chance to see that there are a lot of strong conservative women out there that they can aspire to be like.

Leahy: We are talking with Karen Lips the founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women. My impression Karin is that the left on campuses today is bullying, intolerant, and mean-spirited towards anyone who says something other than what’s out there. We got about a minute left. Am I right? Am I wrong? What’s the outlook for the future?

Lips: Well in 2018, we published our first book. She’s Conservative: Stories of Trials and Triumphs on America’s College Campuses. And a theme that emerged is that conservative women were making a decision before they even stepped foot on campus to keep their views quiet. Not just because they worry about their grades but because they are worried about making friends. That social pressure and the atmosphere on campus needs to be fixed. And it’s a real problem if conservatives are deciding to self-censor before they even step foot on campus.

Leahy: Well, that’s a great story and a great effort. We wish you the best of luck Karin. Will you come into Nashville sometime and visit with us in studio?

Lips: I’d love to get to Nashville. What a great place. I’d be happy to stop in.

Listen to the full first hour:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Karin Lips” by Network of enlightened Women. 










Conservative Comedian and Writer Adam Yenser Talks Career Path, Success, and a Typical Day as Writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Conservative Comedian and Writer Adam Yenser Talks Career Path, Success, and a Typical Day as Writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed conservative comedian and writer for the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Adam Yenser to the newsmakers line to discuss what it’s like be a conservative in Hollywood and how he got his start in the business.

Leahy: We are joined by the rarest of the rare conservative comedian funny guy Adam Yenser. Adam thanks for joining us.

Yenser: Hey, Michael. Thanks for having me. How’s it going?

Leahy: Well, you’re a conservative comedian and you’ve written for Ellen DeGeneres. Tell us about that. That’s a combo.

Yenser: (Chuckles) Yeah, openly conservative and making it in Hollywood. It’s tough. I’ve been at Ellen for 10 years now. I started in the industry working for Conan O’Brien and then started doing stand-up. And I’ve always been pretty openly right-leaning. I somehow managed to not get cancelled and still chugging along. I don’t know when it’ll happen. But it’s something you’ve got to be careful of.

Leahy: So you’ve been writing for the Ellen DeGeneres talk show for 10 years Adam Yenser. You’re on the credits. Now, there’s been a little bit of controversy about that show.

Yenser: Yeah, I can’t get into a whole lot of that. But I’ve had a good experience there. I’ve been there 10 years and those sort of rumors that came out those rumors have been around since before I started working there. So I kind of heard that it was a tough place to work. But I still went for it. I enjoy writing there. And as far as where the shows at now I still feel that I like working there. It seems like a lot of that stuff came up because Ellen did that monologue about being friends with George W. Bush and then it seemed like there were people who had sort of been aware of these rumors, but really kind of dug into them.

Leahy: That’s interesting. So I think you’re probably right. After hanging with George W. Bush all of those things came out. Tell us what your day is like writing for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. And then tell us how you go about and do your comedy gigs. I see you’re going to be performing this month in Colorado and Oklahoma and a couple of other places. And oh, by the way, when are you coming to Nashville?

Yenser: (Chuckles) I would love to come to Nashville. I was actually in Chattanooga two weeks ago and had a great time there.

Leahy: Did you have a gig there?

Yenser: Yes at The Comedy Catch in Chattanooga right next to the choo choo.

Leahy: The Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Yenser: It was great. I would love to come to Nashville and I hope I’ll make it there at the end of the year. I’m just sort of starting to get back on the road now because things are opening up elsewhere not here in California. Here still pretty like that. I think right now it’s legal here to eat outside as long as the waiter causes your food and then you pull down your mask and catch it in your mouth.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Thank you, Gavin Newsom.

Yenser: Exactly. He’s allowed to go inside. He’s allowed to go inside the restaurants to make Tiktok videos and hang out with his friends. But the rest of us are not.

Leahy: Will Governor Gavin Newsom be recalled? what’s going on with that recall out there?

Yenser: It looks like the recall will be successful as far as getting it, you know to the ballot. I think it’s it’s an uphill battle I think to replace him with someone from the other side. But the recall effort seems to be gaining a lot of momentum because the people on both sides are annoyed with him right now because the people who are sort of against the lockdowns have been opposed to him for a year now. And the people on the left who support the lockdowns have now seen him as a hypocrite because he’s not even following his own orders.

Leahy: So as a writer for the Ellen DeGeneres Show what do you do? I mean, what do you do? What’s your typical day like?

Yenser: Our typical day is we get our assignments a week before whether writing monologues or comedy segment. And then in the morning, we have a meeting with the producers and with Ellen which is all taking place over resume right now. and then we get notes from them. We revise our scripts. We have a rehearsal in the afternoon and then we have like an hour or so to make changes.

Sometimes after rehearsal, everything goes smoothly and we go right into the show that script, and then sometimes every now and then everything gets reworked, and were scrambling to come up with new material in an hour. But we always get it together in time for the show. and then usually tapes in the afternoon and airs the next day. So we tape one day to air the next day.

Leahy: Where does the show tape? And is there a live studio audience?

Yenser: So we don’t have a lot of studio audience right now because it’s all over Zoom. For a while back in the fall, we were having a mix of a few socially distanced audio audience members and other people zooming in on TV screens. right now it’s all over Zoom and I think they’re kind of just following the guidance in the state right now as far as what we’re allowed to do with live audiences.

Leahy: Now, do you work like is your job like Monday to Friday doing that stuff and then you get on a plane and fly off to Chattanooga, and Colora Springs and Tulsa’s out what happens

Yenser: That’s exactly what happens. And it’s been it’s fun, but it’s been draining for a few weeks. I was flying to Chattanooga last weekend and working for Ellen all week. I had a few stand-up shows here at outdoor bars. last weekend I flew to Oregon. flew back on Monday morning from 7:00 a.m. to 9 a.m. And then at like 9:30, I’d be on a Zoom meeting writing for Ellen. So I’ve been working from morning to night and now It’s 5:30 here. So this is I think the earliest I’ve gotten up for anything in the whole pandemic right now.

Leahy: Well, we’re just delighted that you’ve got up so early for us. I’ve you are you have you had your coffee? Are you awake or are you having it right now?

Yensewr: I’m having it right now.

Leahy: So it’s rough getting up so early. It’s now 539 there out in LA do you live right on the ocean? Do you have your house right on the beach or are you like it somewhere in the San Fernando Valley with thousands of other people?

Yenser: I’m in the valley with a few other people. We tape at Warner Brothers. I don’t know if you are familiar with Burbank.

Leahy: Yes I am. And so so where are you from originally Adam?

Yenser: I grew up in Pennsylvania originally lived there most of my life up until College. then I lived in Brooklyn for three years. That’s where I started working for a Conan O’Brien out of college. and then I moved out to LA when Conan took over The Tonight Show. So I was there for all of the Conan why no drama and then I moved with Conan to the TBS at the Warner Brothers lot where he films his TBS show and that’s where the Ellen Show is also. And I heard about the writing job there and moved over to Ellen.

Leahy: Where are you from in Pennsylvania?

Yenser: Allentown.

Leahy: Yeah, I know it well.  Right next to Easton.

Yenser: It’s where my family still is.

Leahy: So you grow up in Allentown. Did you tell your mom and dad I want to be a comedian?

Yenser: I did and they were very supportive of it. I hear some people that you know, there are parents kind of balk at that but they were they were supportive of from the start. They still come out to shows whenever I go back home, which is always interesting because I work, I describe myself as a mostly clean comedian. NOt squeaky clean.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Mostly clean.

Yenser: Exactly. But my family and my aunts and uncles will come out to see me and cousins and relatives and I’m like I’m clean but I don’t know what else I’m exposing you to with these other comics.

Leahy: So you are from Allentown. I’m going to guess, did you go to Penn State in Lehigh?

Yenser: I went to Penn State.

Leahy: I thought so. You are a Nittany Lion.

Yenser: Yeah, I went there. Most of the family went there and my mom worked there. Both my brothers went there.

Leahy: The big question. Have you ever seen a Nittany Lion?

Yenser: Just the sort of dilapidated stuffed one they have in the library.

Leahy: Are there really Nittany Lions? I guess it’s a mountain lion.

Yenser: Yes, they are mountain lions. There are rumors that they are still roaming around like Sasquatch.

Leahy: Well, it’s a great nickname and of course Lehigh Valley football is big time. So you get out of school. How did you get the gig with Conan?

Yenser: Actually while I was at Penn State, I got an internship at his show for so the first semester that I applied to internships in the city in New York. I knew I wanted to get into television writing. I applied to like my first choices like SNL and Daily Show and Conan and Letterman. And the only place that I heard back from was the Maury Povich Show.

So for one semester, I interned at the Maury Povich Show taking calls with a call from the people that wanted to like get tested to see who is their baby daddy was. So I did that for an entire summer at the Maury Povich Show. And then after I had that on my resume, I applied again the next semester and got the internship at Conan.

And I basically just interned at Conan for three semesters. There’s a point in my senior year in college where I was taking classes four days a week in central Pennsylvania, then driving back to Allentown Thursday night and taking a bus to New York on Friday morning to keep interning at Conan. Then I got hired there as the receptionist and intern for

Leahy: Adam, we’ve got to close out here. Try and get a gig here at Zanies Comedy Club.

Yenser: Yes. I love Zanies. I played the one in Chicago. I’ve got to come to Nashville. Thanks a lot, Michael.

Leahy: Adam Yenser. A conservative comedian from Hollywood. Thanks for joining us.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Adam Yenser” by Adam Yenser. 














Washington Correspondent Neil W. McCabe Weighs in on His Latest Exclusive and Outlines the Dangers of Biden’s Foreign Policy

Washington Correspondent Neil W. McCabe Weighs in on His Latest Exclusive and Outlines the Dangers of Biden’s Foreign Policy


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line weigh on his recent exclusive at The Tennessee Star and the different stylings on foreign policy between the Biden and Trump.

Leahy: We are joined by our good friend our longtime colleague the Washington correspondent for the Star News Network, which is The Tennessee Star, and five other state-based news sites. Neil McCabe with another breaking exclusive story on American foreign policy with the founder of the Gold Institute, Eli Gold. Neil, how do you keep getting breaking these exclusives? And what did Eli Gold tell you about Biden’s foreign policy?

McCabe: Eli Gold is an amazing guy who started the Gold Institute because after spending about 10 years in the sort of Washington think tank community he decided that nowhere was anybody actually doing things. They were creating a lot of policy, but nobody was ever getting anything done. And he wanted to create a place where there are practitioners, who are actually advising the decision-makers. And I guess I’ll let the cat out of the bag Mike. I am a media fellow at the Gold Institute. And so I just called Eli and I talked to him.

Leahy: Well, of course, that’s how you get these things. It is up now on The Tennessee Star. Exclusive: Gold Institute Founder Says Biden’s Foreign Policy Rejects Trump’s Successful Style, Substance. Tell us more about that Neil.

McCabe: Mike, if you look at it, I just made a quick list of 12 countries. Mexico, England, China, India, Japan, Canada, Russia, North Korea, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Afghanistan. And in every single instance, the Trump foreign policy was better than what was going on before Trump. And that’s not just Obama but Bush and everyone else that actually our posture towards those countries or with those countries was better under Trump.

And so what Eli was saying is that there are two things at play with the buying foreign policy vis-à-vis Trump. number one. He is bringing back sort of the left-wing establishment way of doing business. So the policies are going to be different. But almost more importantly the second thing is that Biden operates in a different way than Trump. Trump was revolutionary. Trump broke the mold.

And what he means by that is that is the Washington National Security foreign policy establishment believes or acts as if the rest of the world acts like they do in Washington. so the way you get things done in Washington is the way you get things done with the world. And so you talk to foreign leaders just like there are groups of congressmen trying to help you get through a farm bill. And it just doesn’t work.

And it never worked. and so what Trump did is Trump brought a personal one-on-one type of diplomacy. One that he honed as a New York City developer. He developed personal relationships. He got personally involved and he figured out how to get things done. And the key example for that in the article is what’s called mesa which was it was proposed as the Middle East Strategic Alliance.

And that was going to be sort of an Arab NATO and that came out of the Riyadh Summit which was you  Trump’s first trip to Saudi Arabia. Trump signed off on it. He talked about it at the Riyadh Summit. They got things going and then the state department just sort of muddled through it. And the state department basically was just telling these countries to sign on to this thing and then we’ll figure out later what it is.

And countries were saying no, we’re not going to sign something and then find out later what it is. Like Nancy Pelosi saying you have to pass Obamacare to figure out what it is. And Trump got personally involved. He saw what was good, what was bad, what was working and not working. And out of what was supposed to be the Middle East Strategic Alliance Trump’s personal involvement led to what’s called the Abraham Accords.

And that’s where you know he was able to get Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to sign agreements recognizing Israel and sure of dropping that sort of War posture that these Arab countries have had with Israel. And in the second term, obviously, the big enchilada was going to be Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords.

But this is sort of a result of Trump’s personal involvement. Whereas Biden is not personally involved. Biden wants to run everything by a committee. He wants to go back to the old ways and that’s why you’re seeing a sort of muddle through foreign policy. I think people can feel it where we are 40 days into a Biden administration and there just isn’t the speed and the action that we were used to in a Trump administration Mike.

Leahy: Well Neil, here’s my take on it. Just looking at it from afar. You are the expert on this. You deal with all these Washington foreign policy people. It strikes me that what we have now with the current occupant of the Oval Office the legal but not legitimate president of the United States Joe Biden. It looks to me like we have Neville Chamberlain with early-onset dementia surrounded by a bunch of third-rate lefty propagandists. Tell me where I’m wrong about that Neil.

McCabe: No. You’re absolutely right to the extent that I think you’re being a little unkind to Neville Chamberlain. (Leahy chuckles) I think he would stack up a little better next to Biden. But you know, this is one of the problems with a monarchy, right? Because the reason why is kind of like the son succeeds the father kind of monarchy because a civil war every time the King dies is not worth it.

And so sometimes you get a great king and sometimes you get a stooge but it’s better than a civil war and then maybe the next son will do alright. And we sort of watch this in England. But one of the problems is what if you have somebody who is not mentally functioning properly. And we saw that the other day maybe it was yesterday the day before yesterday Biden is doing this live stream with House Democrats and somebody says hey Mr. President will you take questions?

And he says, sure I’ll take questions. And as soon as he offered to take questions the White House shut the feed off. They just shut it off. Who knows what it’ll be like if you ever had to take a real press conference. We saw President Trump speak for 90 minutes with 150 international reporters from the U.S. And when he was in Europe, he would take all comers and he would keep taking questions until the reporters were tired.

And I’ve been in situations where Trump just keeps talking and talking and talking. Whatever questions are coming up he’ll take it. Even when someone’s nasty he’ll take the questions. Biden doesn’t take questions. It’s almost like those game shows where he’s in the soundproof booth. The president has to be protected from himself Mike

Leahy: Neil McCabe our Washington correspondent for the Star News Network. A big final question for you. How much damage will this somnambulant Biden administration’s foreign policy do to Americans’ interest? And will we survive it after the next three-plus years of the Biden/Harris administration?

McCabe: Yeah, Mike, I think that some severe damage can be done. If you look at the way President Biden’s administration is trying to reboot what was really becoming an American Iranian Alliance in the Middle East. You’ll see what he’s trying to do with China. Who knows what’ll happen the NAFTA. You have the negotiations for free trade with England. There’s a lot of things on the table. You have Germany, which is supposed to be like the heart of Europe is really absent without leave from NATO.

And Trump was pressuring Germany to step up and pay more for its defense. In the meantime, Germany got rid of its draft. Germany is giving billions of dollars to Russia, the country wearing NATO to defend Germany against. And these are the kinds of things that Biden is going to roll with. And if you go down that list of 12 countries, he’s every single one of them is postured to get worse. The Americans are going to lose out and it’s not good Mike. I’m not optimistic Mike.

Leahy: Neil McCabe the best investigative journalist in Washington, D.C. He’s our Washington correspondent for the Star News Network. We look forward to talking with you again next week on The Tennessee Star Report. Always look forward to your exclusive stories Neil. Thank you so much for joining us.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio













Tennessee State Rep. Chris Todd Joins Host Leahy to Speak About His Role in the House and Keeping in Touch with Constituents

Tennessee State Rep. Chris Todd Joins Host Leahy to Speak About His Role in the House and Keeping in Touch with Constituents


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Representative (R), Chris Todd of Jackson, to the newsmakers line to describe his background and discuss upcoming legislation in the House of Representatives.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to the newsmakers line, State Representative Chris Todd a Republican from Jackson, Tennessee. Good morning, Chris.

Todd: Good morning, Michael. How are you guys today?

Leahy: We’re great. You have a very interesting background here. You are a graduate of Union University which is one of the very best smaller colleges in America right there in Jackson. You have a degree in biology and you have an erosion control business. I guess that is what your main line of work is.

Todd: That is correct.

Leahy: How long you been doing that?

Todd: Well in our own business probably about 25 years. Two or three years prior to that with another company that I helped start this line of work with. And then prior to that. I was with TDEC. The Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation as a regulator for about four and a half years.

Leahy: What is that business like these days in the land of COVID is it hard easy the same different?

Todd: The greatest challenge we have is getting employees and employees to show up for work. When the government is paying them to sit at home that makes it really tough.

Leahy: That’s a very interesting comment. And so what I love about our state legislature here is it is basically citizen legislators. You are paid to come up here a modest amount. But most legislators are working for a living. Many on the Republican side are small businessmen. Does that frame your political ideology coming from a small business perspective?

Todd: Without question it does. As a matter of fact, I never really thought of being in public service like this most of my life. And then in the last 10 or 12 years got involved with the National Federation of Independent Business. As a small business owner, I found that they represent small businesses in our voice and not only in the state House but in Congress and found out how well-respected they were because they listen to their members.

They are member-driven. Completely member-driven. So that got me involved in certain issues like income tax, gas tax, and other things over the years. And that involvement and learning how our state legislature works really tweaked my interest. And then when my representative, Jimmy Eldridge decided not to run again I had some folks encouraging me just kind of out of the blue to run for office.

And I prayed about it and considered it and of course when I went home and told my wife that we need to pray about this. She said oh no, I’m sure the Lord wouldn’t lead you in anything like that. (Leahy chuckles) After a week or two of discussion and prayer with some friends as matter of fact, that joined us in that we all felt for some reason. I was supposed to run for office never really thinking I was necessarily supposed to win.

But it has been a true blessing to be able to serve people in a different capacity while still running a business and staying in touch. And being in the General Assembly is such an honor. Being in the House of Representatives you have to stay in touch with people. When I was running my wife, and I were knocking on doors day after day. Sweating through the summer months, meeting people, and going to things constantly.

She said y’all got to change this if we have to do this for two years I don’t know how we can do this. But once I was there for just a brief period of time I realized how wise it was to have the House elected every two years. Because you cannot get out of touch with the people and get reelected. You have to stay involved. You have to stay in front of the people and be accountable to the people. So it’s a level of accountability our founders put in place. It was very very wise.

Leahy: You are the chairman of a House subcommittee. Agriculture and natural resources. That seems like a very smart place for somebody with a biology degree and erosion control business to be placed. What’s the big agenda there?

Todd: I don’t know that there is a big agenda but generally pokes in that position have had an agricultural background, which is fantastic. Agriculture is such a huge part of our state’s economy. I bring to the table something a little bit different. Something from the environment side from the natural resources side and understand a decent amount of that part of our regulations and laws.

And so it’s just a different angle that I can bring a level of expertise to. As I tell people a lot I know a lot about very little things and then I know a little about several things. So where I can put that knowledge of my career choice to best use is where I wanted to serve if our Speaker wanted me there and he apparently did.

Leahy: We’re talking with Representative Chris Todd from Jackson. Chris, what are your personal priorities for this session of the Tennessee General Assembly?

Todd: I think if I were to put that at a 10,000-foot view, it would be to restore any infringements. Remove any infringements of citizens’ rights. And that comes under several categories. One in the area of the U.S. Constitution Second Amendment where the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Well, we’ve infringed on it over the years an awful lot.

And so trying to remove those infringements is a big deal to me. Also when it comes to emergency powers. I believe we have several laws on the books that are truly unconstitutional never been challenged and never been tested. But I think this General Assembly is making some strides toward streamlining that and making those emergencies powers apply to what they were truly meant to apply for. And not have the administrative part of our government the too overbearing and take too many of our liberties away.

Leahy: I’m reading into that. It sounds to me like you’re saying or it sounds to me like the argument there would be that the governor has overreached on his emergency powers and probably in giving powers to certain county mayors he’s overreached. Am I characterizing that correctly?

Todd: In one respect. And that is in respect to comparing those decisions to what the Constitution says not what’s on the law books. I believe he has followed the law. But I don’t believe those laws that we have on the books all are completely constitutional. And that’s what I wanted to assess this General Assembly and try to make right.

Leahy: Does that require a statutory change or is that an issue of a court challenge? And how would you make it right?

Todd: I think statutory change is where it’s at. There may be court challenges out there. I don’t know. I’ve not seen anything on that. but I think going through the process of what we’re doing day-to-day right now people have proposed bills of all types. Everything from regulating the local health departments all the way to the emergency powers of the governor. And I think that’s where it really starts.

That’s where we can have the debate, have the discussion, and make the changes that are necessary but still give the governor the powers that he needs to have in a true emergency. I don’t think anyone ever dreamt that those laws on the books would actually apply to an illness. And especially in illness on this level. But they have chosen to apply them and I believe under the law they have been correct. I just don’t think some of those laws are constitutional.

Leahy: Is there any specific bill that’s before a committee right now that would address the statutory problems of emergency powers?

Todd: I believe there are. I know one that Representative Jason Zachary has deals with the health departments. the six regional health departments were and I enjoy one of those health departments in my district. But the specifics of that and how it’s being amended. I couldn’t go into that. That’s not something I’m watching on an hour-to-hour basis.

And I know this week it has gone through at least one committee and probably will go through another committee next week. And so things as you well know as the legislation moves along sometimes there are tweaks to it with amendments to make it better. And so I believe it has passed its first hurdle this week.

And so I will be watching it a little more closely watch it goes a little further. But there are many others. I’ve been focused on the 15 bills that I have on my list to carry. And it’s such a scramble this time of year to get things put on notice and be at the right committee at the right time and present your bill and know what you’re talking about. And it’s a really interesting gig to try to keep up with on a daily basis.

Leahy: During session do you stay in Nashville, or do you commute from Jackson?

Todd: I’m here on Monday and right now while we’re in budget hearings. I’m here Sunday evening through Thursday afternoon.

Leahy: Well, one of these mornings why don’t you come by in studio, and we can chat here live in-studio on the Tennessee Star Report.

Todd: I’d like to do that. We may schedule that here very shortly. Maybe on a Monday morning or something before our budget hearings.

Leahy: Let’s do that. Hey, thanks so much for joining us state representative Chris Todd, Republican from Jackson. We look forward to having you in studio. Thanks again for being with us.

Todd: Thank you, Michael.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio













State Rep. Michael Sparks Talks About His New Bi-Partisan Bill Making Amazing Grace Tennessee’s Official State Hymn

State Rep. Michael Sparks Talks About His New Bi-Partisan Bill Making Amazing Grace Tennessee’s Official State Hymn


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Representative (R) Mike Sparks of Smyrna to the newsmakers line to discuss the motivation to introduce his bi-partisan bill which would make Amazing Grace into the official Tennessee state hymn.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by a good friend State Representative Mike Sparks. Last time we talked Mike you were in the studio. You had braved the sleet and the snow and the ice and made it into the studio at 5 a.m in the morning. It’s a little safer this morning than it was back then. but you are a brave man to make it through all that snow and ice.

Sparks: Yes sir I had a great time and I got stuck out front on music row for just a few minutes. The only fear I got here is if my coffee gets a little lower I’ll stub my toe here on my chair. (Leahy laughs) But I appreciate you having me in. I had a great time.

Leahy: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. So now you’ve got a very interesting bill that we want to talk about. Tell us about what you want to do here.

Sparks: Well House Bill 938 it’s asking for the hymn Amazing Grace to be an official state song or hymn if you will. A lot of folks at first glance may not think this is important. You see a lot of things that get in the news and sometimes I just shake my head at some of the things that the media covers. But I see the media a lot of time stirring up the pot trying to create a race war. Trying to create so many problems.

And that’s not an attack on 1510 or other stations. I don’t see that with you all. But I see the false narratives. I see what I call the agenda-setting theory. But where this originated at MTSU about four years ago I spoke about some of the histories to all the protesters out there at MTSU. And I just start talking about history. And I talked about John Newton who was a former slave ship captain.

He had a redemptive story, a powerful story of redemption. And he influenced the lawmaker named William Wilberforce in Great Britain and they fought tirelessly to end slavery. And it just shocked me that all these students that have a college degree or about to have a college degree didn’t know anything about history. And it’s just really surprising.

But was kind of cool and this is what I call this a God thing. the main protestor I’m talking to main Hellraiser. You just go to YouTube channel five and you could probably pull them up. He comes up with two frat brothers. He’s with Alpha Phi Alpha and he says representative is that why there’s William Wilberforce University in Ohio? And I said well, I would think so.

He said it was created by abolitionists. He said can I be your intern can I work for you as an intern? It was an odd question from the protester and I was like, yeah, let me check on this. And I checked around and somebody that interned a year earlier said  I think that young man is searching. I think he’s searching and didn’t really have a father in his life.

And so we just kind of connected. but I told him I said if you’re going to protest don’t do that crazy don’t be part of no buildings or tearing up police cars. And we just hit it off. And we got along great. and I just see the state of affairs in America that worry me and concern me as a Christian. I think that we got to get back to some basics and it’s not just me saying so it’s others saying it. That’s kind of the essence of the bill.

Leahy: And so how many states have state hymns. Do you know?

Sparks: I’m not aware of state hymns. There are 10 different state songs in Tennessee and very few of your listeners have probably ever sung any of them. I think Tennessee Waltz and Rocky Top. But this song right here almost everyone has sung.

Leahy: Let’s hear Amazing Grace here. We’ve got it ready to go. Here it is.

(Amazing Grace plays)

Leahy: And State Representative Mike Sparks. That’s the beginning of Amazing Grace sung by Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton. Love that song.

Sparks: Amen. Yes.

Leahy: So are you introducing this bill? Is it to become the 11th state song of Tennessee or is it to become the official hymn of Tennessee?

Sparks: Well, we have it written as an official hymn. and the idea for Dolly Parton and it really wasn’t even my idea my assistant who’s a young African-American guy he’s not but about 26, Marvin Williamson it was really his idea because we kept thinking who out there? Because I wanted to make sure I covered everybody like Elvis, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Richard III, Oak Ridge Boys, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, and the Memphis Spirit of the Memphis Quartet.

And I had a lot of famous people in here that’s mentioned in here as well as Dolly Parton. And my assistant brought up Dolly Parton. Another news source called me from Atlanta and I won’t say their name. But I didn’t really care to do the interview, but I just left them a recording and hopefully, they’ll be fair. But as I said the idea for Dolly Parton, it really wasn’t my idea. That was his idea.

Leahy: When you say Dolly Parton is Dolly Parton mentioned in this bill particularly.

Sparks: Yeah, it is. It just says Amazing Grace by John Newton and as sung by Dolly Parton as an official hymn of the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: Oh, okay. So it’s as sung by Dolly Parton.

Sparks: With the words and because I guess I’ve heard that there are different words that could be different in different ways people have sung the hymn. So we want to kind of nail that down.

Leahy: Did you see the movie that came out on Amazing Grace about 10 or 15 years ago?

Sparks: About William Wilberforce?

Leahy: William Wilberforce.

Sparks: Yes. It’s a powerful story these stories are powerful and stories that need to be told especially one that’s enriched with a strong conviction of John Newton. Because I had a choir come up and sing this about four-five years ago. And the story if you’ve watched the movie talks about John Newton being so bad that he could out cuss any sailor. And he was even sold into slavery himself and had to be bought back from his father. They sent a crew down to Sri Lanka if I’m not mistaken. But it’s a powerful story if folks want to know more just go to YouTube and type in Amazing Grace and Wiliam Wilberforce it should pop up.

Leahy: And by the way, I bring that up because there was a songwriter I think they were from Nashville who was commissioned in that movie to write a couple of new verses of Amazing Grace, which was quite a thing to do. Those new verses I thought were quite good. But what’s interesting to me and to ask you State Representative Mike Sparks is this. What sort of opposition is your bill to make Amazing Grace as sung by Dolly Parton the official state hymn of Tennessee? What sort of opposition is that bill receiving?

Sparks: Great question. None so far. But what concerns me is is the media because I’ve seen them create fake news. I’ve seen them lie. I shared with you Michael that I’m going back to school to MTSU to learn journalism to combat some of the fake news some of the false narratives out there. But I’ve always said, the good Lord will direct you if you really call on him. And at MTSU I’ve got to give Dr. Greg Reish some kudos. He’s with the MTSU Center for Popular Music. I reached out to him for some advice.

Leahy: The Center for Popular Music is a great center there at Middle Tennessee State University.

Sparks: They are. And I brought this up last year that I wanted to look at doing this. So this wasn’t some knee-jerk reaction. This was going back last year. But the book that he recommended me to get if anybody wants to get this, it’s called Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Beloved Song by Steve Turner. Well, I didn’t know who Steve Turner was so I got the book and I started reading the back of it.

Well, Steve Turner had written it for Rolling Stone Magazine. But I want to give you a quote real quick Michael and you’ll trip out when you hear who this quote is from. It says, “Steve Turner is a tough-minded poet with an ear for the psalms and an eye for the miracles in the mundane and an understanding of how despair can break the ground for joy to take root.” Guess who said that?

Leahy: Willie Nelson?

Sparks: No. Bono.

Leahy: Bono!

Sparks: Yes, of U2. I went to YouTube pull it up and I just typed in Bono Amazing Grace and here’s where I got confirmation. Bono is singing Amazing Grace in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, I’ve reached out to Bono and sent a little email.

Leahy: Do you think Bono might be a little upset that it’s Amazing Grace as sung by Dolly Parton and not sung by Bono?

Sparks: He might. (Leahy chuckles) It’s sad we have to be aware that somebody will try to take something and turn it into a negative. That young man, that protester really, it was the hymn that connected us. I’ll argue that that hymn has probably turned more hearts and more lives around than any other song ever sang.

Senator Akbari out of Memphis is carrying it. She’s an African-American Democrat, so and I didn’t even ask her. She stepped up to do it. And Malik her assistant has been involved with it. And so I just want to thank Malik and my assistant Marvel Williamson for their efforts to be so supportive. They are a group of young believers.

Leahy: It sounds like it’s bipartisan.

Listen to the full first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.






The Great Dilemma for America: Crom Carmichael on the Democratic Party of Grifters and Looming Inflation

The Great Dilemma for America: Crom Carmichael on the Democratic Party of Grifters and Looming Inflation


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in the studio to breakdown the potential of inflammatory effects on America’s economy from COVID and Democratic grifters.

(Chuck Schumer clip plays)

Leahy: That is perhaps one of the most dishonest grifters in American political history. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York trying to explain why they should pass a $1.9 trillion giveaway to big blue cities and big blue states and he’s using a false claim.

Carmichael: Yes. As Mitch McConnell pointed out one percent of the bill, which is, by the way, one percent of 1.9 trillion.

Leahy: It’s one percent?

Carmichael: One percent goes directly to COVID. Goes directly to COVID.

Leahy: And then eight percent indirectly?

Carmichael: Indirectly. But 91 percent doesn’t go to COVID or anything related to COVID.

Leahy: Either directly or indirectly.

Carmichael: But one percent of one point nine trillion is still $20 billion. So that is still $20 billion.

Leahy: One point nine trillion, one percent of one point nine trillion.

Carmichael: Did I get my math wrong?

Leahy: You are correct.

Carmichael: I am correct.

Leahy: You are correct sir because 10 percent of one point nine trillion would be 190 billion. One percent is 19 billion. You are correct in your math.

Carmichael: So it’s a very very large amount for COVID. And so what Schumer’s doing is what all grifters do. He’s just making stuff up. And if it were not for the willful complicity of the media you couldn’t get away with this. This is the great dilemma for our country. You have now Big Tech and big media that is in bed with the Democrat Party and in bed with all their policies.

And so you have about probably 20 to 25 percent of the population that benefits from all this grifting. And the balance of the population gets hurt. Now deficits do matter. And one of my great pet peeves is when politicians say these deficits are going to hurt our children and grandchildren. That’s false. They’re hurting us now. And what they do is they act kind of like a wet blanket.

And what they do is if productivity is growing at four percent then you ought to have real income rising at four percent. But if you have deficit spending that’s equal to more than four percent of the economy, then you may see a rise in your paycheck. But you’re going to see inflation in some of your basic goods. For example in housing prices. housing prices now across the country are going up because you see commodity prices like lumber, copper, and many of the materials that go into a home are rising at very very high rates.

And so the inflation is almost hidden. But it’s there. Let’s just say that inflation affects you at $1,000 and infects everybody at $1,000. Well, somebody’s making $50,000 dollars a $1,000 is two percent of their income. If you’re making a million dollars then $1,000 is imperceptible. If you’re a multi-billionaire, you’re making far more money on the increase in the value of your stock than you are worried about the effects of inflation.

Leahy: So I’ve got some data here. This is from a website called The Balance. It looks at the deficit as a percentage of the gross domestic product. And it’s been quite high. When Ronald Reagan took office ’19 in 1980 It was two point six percent that fiscal year. Of course, he took office and it would have been fiscal in 81 when it was two point five percent. When George H.W. Bush took office it was three point seven percent in 1990. Then we fast-forward.

It was actually a surplus during the last years of the Clinton administration. And that was due to the sort of the internet bubble. George H.W. Bush and the crash of 2008. In fiscal 2009, 9.8 percent of GDP. the deficit. it’s been really really high pretty much ever since it went down to three-point four percent in 2017. It shot back up in 2020 at 17.9 percent because of the COVID impact. And it’s going to be about 10 percent in fiscal 2021 except probably more than that now.

Carmichael: It will be more than that if this bill passes. And then they’re talking about another great big bill in behind it. And so the aging of the baby boomers is going to affect Medicare in the coming years. So under Trump the deficit as a percentage, I think you said it got down to like three-point six percent.

Leahy: Yes. Under Trump in 2017, it was three point four percent.

Carmichael: What was it in ’18?

Leahy: In ’18, it would be three-point eight percent.

Carmichael: Okay, what was it in fiscal ’19?

Leahy: Up to four-point six percent.

Carmichael: Okay. All right. And so then it was in fiscal 2010 that it exploded. So part of ’19 perhaps had something to do with COVID. I don’t know.

Leahy: No it would have been ’20.

Carmichael: All fiscal year ’20?

Leahy: Because fiscal year ’20 goes from September to October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.

Carmichael: But here’s what’s interesting. With all of those numbers in there, I think that the federal government is doing a very poor job of collecting the right data to understand productivity gains. I think there are a lot more productivity gains due to technology than that is being captured. I think the productivity gains that they’re capturing are in an old-school way. And productivity gains are much different now.

Leahy: That’s a very good point. Despite COVID productivity gains probably have limited the depth for people that that are involved in certain jobs it’s had less of an impact.

Carmichael: If we come out from the other side of COVID a lot of the changes that were made because of COVID will enhance productivity. If I can do a Zoom meeting and make a sale and I don’t have to go do a business trip to make that same sale then I can make perhaps three or four sales calls a day and not spend any money in doing so.

Leahy: And not travel.

Carmichael: And not travel and do all that. And so that would actually be a gain in productivity.

Leahy: In certain segments. But for instance restaurants. Making stuff in a manufacturing facility that kind of thing got hurt badly. At least on the restaurant side.

Carmichael: That’s not a manufacturer, that’s a restaurant. So what you’re seeing is that if there are a lot fewer business lunches and dinners then that hurts the restaurant business. But in terms of the macro, if people are doing things more efficiently and accomplishing the same goal then there’s a particular…

Leahy: Because one thing that you and I are not Crom, we are not Luddites. (Laughter) Luddites were the people that wanted to go in and break all the new machinery that made it easier to manufacture clothing and other things back in 19th century Great Britain.

Carmichael: So what I’m saying is that if you have a productivity gain of four percent and you have deficit spending four percent more or less than increase the money supply, then theoretically you’d have an inflation rate of close to zero. But if you have productivity gains and four percent and you have an increase in the money supply of 10 to 15 percent and that’s done consistently at some point that catches up with you and it doesn’t affect the wealthy nearly as much as it affects middle and lower class demographics.

Leahy: You’re exactly right and the people that are being hurt by all of this deficit spending really middle-class Americans.

Carmichael: And lower-income people.

Leahy: You are exactly right.

Carmichael: And all these policies the Democrats’ the school policies, in particular, they hurt lower-income children far more than they hurt anybody.

Leahy: They absolutely do. We’ll close that talk off.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio