Guest Host Ben Cunningham and AFP’s Grant Henry Impressed With Tennessee Legislature, Encourage Citizens to Reach Out and Get Involved

Guest Host Ben Cunningham and AFP’s Grant Henry Impressed With Tennessee Legislature, Encourage Citizens to Reach Out and Get Involved


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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry in studio to discuss the proficiency of the Tennessee legislature, getting involved, and grassroots training offered by AMF.

(Andrew Cuomo clip plays)

Cunningham: That was the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, trying to save his political career and life. Whether or not he will be able to is questionable at this point after the AG report came out yesterday. They didn’t charge him with anything. She’s leaving that up to the DAs.

I think there is one DA in Albany that is investigating, but the charges of sexual harassment or any criminal activity have not been brought yet. That was just a report which was pretty damning. And it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out. He is trying to hold on.

I don’t know whether he will be able to at this point. There was some talk yesterday about impeachment proceedings. So real interesting, interesting political drama playing out there in New York and all among Democrats. (Chuckles) This is a Democrat state, and they will be hashing that out in the coming days.

It’ll be fascinating just as political bystanders to see what happens there. I think yesterday even the president said, yes, he ought to resign. So we’ll see what happens with that. We’ve got a little political drama playing out in Nashville.

Cameron Sexton, the speaker of the House, was on yesterday with us talking about the news conference that he and the governor and Jack Johnson and the commissioner of education had basically said to school systems, you guys got to get your act together and get kids back in school. There is a report that I guess it’s Speaker McNally.

Henry: That’s right.

Cunningham: In the Senate, it’s basically saying, hold on here. Let’s not rush into this. And that’s been fairly typical of the dynamic down at the legislature. Speaker McNally tends to be a little bit more of a slow walk on these kinds of issues and doesn’t join in sometimes.

But I think the governor is the one who calls a special session. So if he wants to call a special session, if these schools persist in masking up and staying remote. And the Democrats are really pushing back hard yesterday in Davidson County and Shelby County in saying we’re not going to go along with this, especially with the Delta variant.

So they were pushing back. It’s going to be really interesting to see how all that plays out at the legislature. The legislature is an interesting place. (Henry laughs) You’re down there a lot more than I am.

I used to be down there a lot, but I’m not. But you’ve got 132 people that you’ve got to kind of get going in one direction if you want to get something done. And, boy, it’s difficult to do sometimes.

Henry: Yeah, it absolutely is. And I will say out of the 132 people, I would say the overwhelming majority, if not every single one of them, that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with wants nothing but the best for the state of Tennessee. And I say that sincerely Ben, honestly.

I’ve lived and done politics in several other states. Kentucky and Virginia. I’ve been around a little bit doing the political thing and I will say wholeheartedly those folks that have a true servant mentality in Tennessee are unlike any others. They really want the best for their constituents, for their state, and they want to lead the nation in liberty principles.

I truly do believe that. It is somewhat perplexing that these two men are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to how to approach this particular problem. But what do I know? I’m some random guy in radio and these guys are actually up there doing the job.

So I don’t know. We read the headlines and we see what they are. But like you said, I think ultimately it’s up to the governor as to whether or not to call a special session if need be. And we’ll see how that happens.

Cunningham: And they do react to the citizens and to the pressure of citizens. And you can call their office anytime. They’re not in session now. But if you feel strongly about this, you can call or go to the legislative website.

We do have a really good legislative website, and it’s fairly easy to find legislation to research. And you can go to the Tennessee legislature. Just go to Google and type in Tennessee legislature, and you’ll go right to it.

But they’ve got a good search where you can do searches on past legislation, on the code, on just about anything you want to. I think Tennessee legislative website has won several awards and they deserve it. It’s just a good, fairly easy-to-use website.

And their cold hard reality is not very many people ever interact with elected officials. That’s the cold hard reality. And if you do choose to interact with them, you’ll have an influence because you’ll be one of a very few people that ever do that.

Henry: Statistically speaking, that’s accurate as well. I said it yesterday, and it bears repeating today. The adage goes, we don’t have a democracy. We have a democracy of those that participate. Now, I get it. We have a constitutional republic. But you understand what I’m saying?

Cunningham: Absolutely.

Henry: Unfortunately, Tennessee has the second-lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation behind, I believe, Louisiana. Thank goodness for Louisiana. But it goes to your point statistically.

If you are involved, if you call your legislators, if you send them an email, if you go up there and meet with them personally, if you set meetings with them out of session, your voice is thereby amplified that much more than it would be in any other state because so few people are involved in the political process in this state.

Cunningham: And it is even more so at the local level. You go to most county commission meetings and you’ll see. Unless there’s some hot button issue like a dump area. Or a tax issue or something like that. Or zoning. Typically, there are very, very few people sitting there in the audience.

And, boy, I mean, it just makes a huge difference. If you go to these meetings, and you go up to the county commissioners afterward, you talk to them. You can have an extraordinary amount of influence.

And if you want to run for office, the county commission area, or the school board for $3,000 or $4,000, you can win some of these local races if you’re very strategic about choosing races.

Because people peel off of these bodies fairly regularly at the local level. I don’t know the statistics. I would guess, though, the turnover at these local bodies is more than it is at the state and the federal level.

Cunningham: And if you want to run for county commission, three or four grand and some shoe leather will get you elected – and going door to door.

Henry: (Chuckles) Shoe leather. Which is no small thing. I met with a guy, had done some politics out in California, and he was telling me in the county that they came from just a city council race alone, you’re talking six figures at a minimum.

A minimum of six figures to run for the city council race out there. So a couple of grand here, plus hitting the pavement, knocking some doors, I mean, hey, you can be a major influence in your area.

Cunningham: And speaking of grassroots, the young man is sitting across from me, Mr. Grant Henry with Americans for Prosperity is the grassroots director of Americans for Prosperity. It’s a statewide group that advocates and lobbies for free-market principles and have done some really great things in this state.

And you guys are always at the legislature every year. We want to talk more in this segment and the next segment about what you’re doing. But just kind of tell us, what are you working on and how you are looking forward to the legislative session that will be coming up in January of next year?

Henry: So we have two main things, I think, prior to getting to the legislative year next year. Two main things we’re focusing on right now, one of which we covered extensively yesterday, the – stop infrastructure spending, both the $1.2 trillion and oncoming $3.5 trillion infrastructure package.

We really want to do as much as we can to stop that. And again, big thanks to Senator Blackburn and Senator Hagerty for standing strong here. If you want to thank them personally: 202-410-2685. That number is a switchboard that takes you directly to them.

And just say, hey, look, I appreciate you guys for standing strong, and stand strong even more in this upcoming reconciliation bill. We’re really trying to get the word out. Tag those folks on social media too.

Let them know that you’re there and that you’re supporting them. They like to see that. And they do check that stuff. I promise you. And another thing that we’re setting up over the upcoming months here, Ben, is some grassroots training. And it’s exactly like it sounds.

We can tailor this training to what your specific group needs or we have a baseline, what we call Grassroots Leadership Academy training. There’s a couple of different things I’m trying to set up across Middle Tennessee, some of the southern parts, Middle Tennessee, maybe even up in Davidson County, if we can get enough people there.

But it kind of trains you to do what I do for a living. Figure out how to break down governmental barriers, figure out how to create a cause, figure out how to find organic social change entrepreneurs, and move that up to the legislature.

If you want to figure out how to do that in your area, here’s my personal cell phone number: 615-330-4569. Give me a call or just shoot me an email. It’s Trying to set up those grassroots training seminars.

Cunningham: It’s a great way to get people kind of over the hump.

Henry: It’s free of charge, too. No charge to ya’ll.

Cunningham: A little bit of nudging to get people to that comfort level. And that’s what AFP does such a great job on. They can do anything they want to once you train them. You’re not trying to corral them into something.

Henry: We just want them to take part in the process.

Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely.

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.









Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Weighs in on the Infrastructure Spending and the Use of Budget Reconciliation

Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Weighs in on the Infrastructure Spending and the Use of Budget Reconciliation


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry, who weighs in on infrastructure spending and budget reconciliation in a partisan Democratic Congress.

(Mitch McConnell clip plays)

Leahy: That’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I have two thoughts on his statement. First, it’s very obvious that inflation is a problem. Second, we need to have him here in the studio, and I need to give him a cup of the TriStar Trio coffee because he sounds like he’s asleep. (Laughter)

Ogles: Unlike the rant we just heard a moment ago.

Leahy: Unlike the three of us who are duly caffeinated and ready to rock and roll. Grant Henry, grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee. This infrastructure bill.

I can’t see any other direction – the consequence of this infrastructure bill – other than to dramatically continue the increase of inflation. What’s your thought on that?

Henry: Milton Friedman told us that inflation is essentially taxation without legislation and typically hits the lower-income individuals. Von Hayek told us that he said this: “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say history is largely a history of inflation. Usually, inflation is engineered by governments for the gain of governments.”

Leahy: Okay, now let me pause. People know who Milton Friedman is. You say it like he’s your best buddy, von Hayek, (Laughter) and he probably is your best buddy.

Friedrich von Hayek, a great, great economist. His famous work, The Road to Surfdom. That’s the guy you’re talking about there, right?

Henry: That is correct.

Leahy: And he is your best buddy.

Henry: (Laughs) Sure. Let’s say that. Let’s go with that.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, I look at what they’re trying to do, and there are a couple of elements here that really strike me. Number one, I don’t see how this is at all consistent with the American tradition of the legislative process. What’s your reaction to that, Andy?

Ogles: I mean, anytime you’re using budget reconciliation to legislate, it’s a slippery slope.

Leahy: Let’s talk about that. Explain to the audience what we mean by budget reconciliation. The Senate has a procedure by which they can essentially allocate monies and appropriated dollars for things that otherwise did not go through the normal legislative process. That’s a simplified version.

Leahy: And they’re supposed to be able to do it once, maybe twice a year, right?

Ogles: Yes. Look at legislative intent. This is something that should be done only as of the option, of last resort, and where there’s something that has to be done at the last minute. Otherwise, that could not flow through the normal process.

But what’s happened is that Congress is so partisan that it now is just the normal course of business, which is now stripping we the people of our normal representation. Because whoever is a majority controls the purse strings.

Leahy: Right. And it’s not a give-and-take legislative process. It’s my way or the highway with no give-and-take whatsoever from the Democrats. That’s what it seems like to me.

Ogles: The Senate has a lot of very formal rules that they can use, like the filibuster and things like that. And so it’s now become an issue of which side is better manipulating the rules to control what happens in the Senate.

Leahy: Grant Henry, you’re a graduate of law school, and my question to you is, the parliamentarian plays a role in the Senate.

Are you familiar with what their job is and how they can determine whether or not something should be included in this budget reconciliation process?

Henry: I’m not as familiar as I should be. And frankly speaking, I think there are very few people out there that are qualified to comment on that. There are a few.

Leahy: I may not be qualified, but I’ll comment on it. (Laughter)

Henry: But here’s what I’m saying. I think Mayor Ogles is correct that in the early 1970s we had this process of a reconciliation that was introduced primarily because we said, look, if we’re entering the day and age of partisan politics, we still have to pass a budget. We still have to spend money and make the government operate effectively or at least at all.

Leahy: This is a very interesting point because before the 70s and before the 80s, Congress ran through what they called regular order. That is, all bills would start at a subcommittee, and then they’d be vetted and then they’d to move up to a committee, and then they’d be vetted, and then they’d be going to the rules committee to see if they could go to a vote.

At each step back and forth continued, and then there would be a vote on the floor. Regular order has been disbanded by the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi in particular. And so they’re just in the land of the jam-through is what it seems like to me.

Henry: Yes. And I think that jam-through, which you really see a lot of times, is coming through this thing called the Byrd Rule, which is where this sort of parliamentarian is supposed to play a major role.

Leahy: Now the Byrd Rule, we’re talking about the former Ku Klux Klansmen, Robert Byrd, right?

Henry: I believe so.

Leahy: From West Virginia. He’s a Democrat by the way and his big ally in the Senate, Joe Biden.

Henry: So the primary thing about the reconciliation process that people need to understand and why your voice matters so much now is that the reconciliation process does not require 60 votes in the Senate. You can get it through with just 50 votes. And a Kamala Harris flip, right.

That’s the point of the reconciliation process that you don’t need bipartisan support to push something through. This Byrd Rule is a process by which Republicans should – in big air quotes in the studio here – should be able to say these certain things that are included in your $3.5 trillion package have nothing to do with what said that we’re spending money on.

That being if you’re gonna spend $3.5 trillion or rather, $500 billion on healthcare spending and call it an infrastructure spending, we’re gonna cut that out of your spending package through this Byrd Rule.

Now, much of that, I think, is left up to this sort of parliamentary procedure or that one individual to say what is and is not considered a part of the spending within that overall proposal or package.

That’s again, why I personally believe your voice matters so much now, to contact those senators, contact your legislators. Let them know if it’s this razor-thin, listen to me now more than ever.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, so there is a parliamentarian, and that recently appointed parliamentarian has ruled, that you can do it once and maybe twice, but only with certain circumstances.

What do you think Chuck Schumer is going to say if the parliamentarian says, you know what you want to do in that reconciliation package on the infrastructure bill? You can’t do it. What do you think Chuck Schumer is going to do?

Ogles: Well, just my opinion, but I don’t think they’ll care. The question is, can he move forward without an official ruling? I’m not a huge Mitch McConnell fan, I won’t go into the details. But all that to say, he has been a master of the Senate rules, which is why he’s been such an effective leader over the years.

This is where the Republicans are going to have to use the rules to their favor to try to block this, because, again, they’re not trying to pass a basic budget.

They’re not trying emergency spending for troops that are overseas or something that really necessitates this emergency action. And I think that’s really how you should look at budget reconciliation.

This is, again, the option of last resort. It should only be used where, again, you’ve hit gridlock to the point where basic functions of government are no longer working.

Leahy: The problem with that is that the Democrats have abandoned the concept of bipartisan cooperation. It’s my way or the highway.

Ogles: And they’ve abandoned the Constitution altogether. Look at what they’ve done during COVID.

Leahy: Minor point. Minor point. Actually a very good point.

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.



















Mayor Andy Ogles and Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Discuss the Cuban Protests and the Fight for Freedom

Mayor Andy Ogles and Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Discuss the Cuban Protests and the Fight for Freedom


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in studio to review false narratives regarding the Cuban protests and questioned whether Americans value their freedom as many were seen marching with American flags.

(Antony Blinken clip plays)

It shows that they simply are not hearing the voices and will of the Cuban people: People deeply, deeply, deeply tired of the repression that has gone on for far too long, tired of the mismanagement.

Leahy: That’s the current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the poster child for the beta-male of American foreign policy under the maladministration of Joe Biden, formerly with that esteemed law firm Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Obviously, the guy is not ready for primetime. All these things going on in Cuba and all you hear from Biden and Blinken is, don’t do that.

Don’t do that. Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida, hitting back a lot harder. I don’t know why it’s so hard for the Biden administration to criticize Marxism.

Grant Henry and Andy Ogles in here. Grant, with Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee and Andy, mayor of Maury County. Here’s the story, Grant. I want to get you reacting to this report. Communists beat a dissident Cuban priest, drag him through the streets.

A Cuban priest reportedly remains in police custody as of Monday after police beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stripped him in his native Camagüey, Cuba for supporting peaceful protests. What do you make of this, Grant?

Henry: Here’s my statement. I actually wrote it last night. May God bless the brave Cuban freedom demonstrators standing up to their totalitarian Communist government.

It’s quite telling, actually, to watch Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the hard left who normally comment on everything, who say nothing now.

And it’s ridiculous to see mainstream medicine shortages and high prices. Note, the American flags, the anti-Communist, pro-freedom signs at the protest.

This is the grassroots uprising by courageous people who are risking prison, beatings, and even death in the hope of freedom.

I say, “what an inspiring sight.” And that’s a quote I got from a great man who shall not be named Michael. But I think it’s quite fitting for right now.

Leahy: (Laughs) Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County. Bernie Sanders, a great proponent of communism and socialism – the guy that spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union.

That gives you the idea of what kind of guy this was. He’s praised the Castro regime in the past. Where is he on all of this?

Ogles: I think when you look at the current education system in the United States and why critical race theory in this new agenda of propaganda that’s crept into our schools is such a problem because by rewriting history, we don’t learn from history.

And so you look at when the Bolsheviks, and the revolution that took place between 1917 and 1923, were revolting against the oligarchy.

And then the moment they seized power, they destroyed everything that they talked about. You fast forward to 1934, the three-day purge, the Night of the Long Knives, and when fascism swept Germany. We know how this story ends. It’s like the Bible. I read the end. I know the outcome. And you look at Russia, you look at Germany, you look at Venezuela, and you look at Cuba.

Marxism, socialism, and Faucism, whatever you want to call it, does not end well for freedom. And we’ve got to stand up to these governors that are more interested in photo ops. And they are a substantive change and fighting and are destroying our country by their complacency.

Leahy: There’s a story at Breitbart by my colleague Alana Mastrangelo. Over the years, there’s been no shortage of woke left-wing celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry, who have vacationed in Communist Cuba normalizing and spending their money in a country with a government that controls the flow of money as well as brutalizes and murders its own people.

Grant Henry, with Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee, what’s your reaction to that?

Henry: Look, I think we’re in a time of the Orwellian sort of foreshadowing of prediction that the heresy of heresies is common sense.

Do you know what I’m saying? We’re now in the time where even to question something in the realm of common sense is a heresy.

And I think that’s part of the allure. Conservatives would do ourselves justice to admit the fact that communism on paper is a presentation of a utopia.

That’s what we’re fighting against. What we’re fighting against is the lie of a utopia that will never really come to be. But I promise you all, I promise you, one of the reasons why I really love working for Americans for Prosperity – because our pitch is this:

Look, you are not a perpetual victim. You are not some liability that needs to be taken care of. You do not have to constantly and continually subsist upon the handouts of the government.

You can do it yourself. You are empowered. You are strong. You can start that small business. I personally believe the creator of the universe has chosen you specifically for this time here now to have a talent that only you can do. If you plug that in properly, incredible things can happen.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, a little touch of irony here. Do you want to jump in here?

Ogles: I just want to say, “Amen, man.”

Leahy: Amen, brother. Preach it! Preach it, Grant Henry! Are you sure you’re a political guy?

Henry: What he’s calling me to.

Leahy: A little touch of irony here, Andy. Again, another story by Alana Mastrangelo, my colleague. She’s great, by the way, at Breitbart.

Twitter, I start off Twitter commenting on what’s going on in Cuba, already I’m laughing. Twitter describes the Cuban anticommunist hashtag as people, “helping to spread awareness of coronavirus.”

While thousands of Cubans were taking to the streets on Sunday to demand an end to the 62-year-old Communist regime and the #SOSCuba was trending, Twitter falsely described the hashtag as “people are helping spread awareness on the impact of COVID-19 in Cuba as cases hit an all-time high in the country.”

Ogles: I remember back in the day reading Huxley’s A Brave New World or Orwells 1984. And it was like, this is science fiction, right?

This is a parallel universe that could never come to pass. Then here we are in this era of COVID and we’re romanticizing Cuba?

Have you not been paying attention since the 1950s? That place has gone from a robust economy to devastation. And you’re going to blame America?

And it should be noted that the people that are in the streets crying for freedom, they’re waving American flags.

Leahy: Here’s another story from Breitbart. They were on a roll last night by my colleague Wendell Husebo. Grant, I want to get your reaction to this.  Joe Biden’s Cuba statement doesn’t mention beatings, shootings of protesters.

President Joe Biden issued a statement on Monday claiming to, “Stand with the Cuban people” against their repressive Communist regime, but failing to mention widespread reports of public gang beatings and live fire against unarmed protesters on the part of state security.

Henry: This is the Communist playbook, too. And not just what you mentioned. In the Communist playbook, you can see actually tracking data where the state government has completely cut off phone lines and Internet lines as well. And from something that Mayor Ogles just mentioned here a second ago – that they’re waving American flags.

Not just in Cuba, but they did the same thing in Hong Kong. It gets me at my core. It’s a guttural reaction that I think sometimes are we worthy of that.

Honestly, has anyone listened to this programmer of Americans, step back and really ask yourself, are we truly worthy of other people fighting for freedom in the name of our flag?

Do we honestly believe in freedom that much? That’s a thing that will get you to your core if you really think about it enough.

Ogles: And part of this, too, is again, going back to Critical Race Theory. This is a big deal. It’s destroyed our country as part of that supplemental material here in the state of Tennessee.

In Tennessee is George versus George,  George Washington versus King George. And the villain in the book is George Washington.

Leahy: This is a curriculum endorsed by Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn, the UC Berkeley graduate with very little classroom teaching experience appointed by Governor Bill Lee.

Ogles: So we’re teaching children in America in the state of Tennessee, in Williamson County and in Middle Tennessee, to hate America.

Leahy: Well, I think a lot of the kids that graduated from those kinds of schools go on to report for The New York Times. Here’s another story at Breitbart.

They were on a roll last night. The New York Times on Cuba protests. Freedom is an anti-government slogan. The New York Times described the chance of freedom as thousands of strong, peaceful protests in Cuba on Sunday as one of several ‘anti-government slogans popular among the congregated.’

The Times also erroneously reported the protests were about ‘food and medicine shortages.’ Grant, what do you think?

Henry: Again, that type of narrative is either purposely misleading, purposefully misleading at best, or malicious at worst. You get what I’m saying.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, here’s another one. In Cuba, police leave an AP photographer bloody after a public beating. Cuban authorities have cracked down on the international free press and mass demonstrations against the Communist regime, with police assaulting reporters and photojournalists in the crowd. Your reaction.

Ogles: You look at the state of our country and you look at people not wanting to respect the flag or to stand for the anthem and meanwhile, in Cuba, Venezuela, Hong Kong, China, and other parts of the world, they waive the flag because it means something.

It means hope. It means the opportunity. You have the right to disagree and not to be persecuted for it. And that’s the problem with the left, this double standard.

We are a Republic of free States. I’ve said this many times, I support California’s right to be liberal, to be socialist leaning. But at the same token, if you’re in Tennessee or South Dakota or South Carolina or Florida or Texas, you have the right to be conservative.

But they will persecute you, and they will censor you. They will try to silence you because that’s not how they view the world, nor do they value the Constitution.

Leahy: We’ll be back with more later. By the way, these Cuban protests, there are thousands in at least 16 cities who took part in these peaceful protests on Sunday.

So there is a movement going on in Cuba for freedom! Not a bad word. Freedom. That’s what we support here.

Listen to the full third hour here:

– – –

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 “Cuban Protesters” by BBC. 














Andy Ogles and Grant Henry Discuss Big Tech Censorship and Its Potential Status as a Public Utility

Andy Ogles and Grant Henry Discuss Big Tech Censorship and Its Potential Status as a Public Utility


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 Mayor Andy Ogles and Grassroots Engagement Director for AFP Grant Henry in studio to weigh in on Big Tech’s censorship and whether or not they should be considered a public utility.

Leahy: We’re just having too much fun here in studio. Grant Henry, the grassroots director of Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee, and Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County, that bastion of economic freedom and the turbocharged engine of economic growth. I had to get that in again, Andy. (Chuckles)

Ogles: Absolutely.

Leahy: You like it?

Ogles: Truth is truth.

Leahy: Can’t say it enough, can we? We’re just having a lot of fun here. Grant, I’ve got a story here about Big Tech bullies. It’s got a local angle.

Our very good friend and all-star panelist Carol Swain. We have a story about her written by Chris Butler. I’ll read the story and then, Grant, I’d like to get your reaction to this.

Carol Swain says Facebook has shadow banned her politically conservative post. Carol Swain said Facebook staff members shadow banned her last week and restricted her from communicating her ideas with more than 77,000 social media followers.

Shadow banning occurs when someone posts something that the same person can see what he or she published on a social media network.

No other person ever can see or respond to the post. Swain said she saw her published post and asked her friends if they also saw the post.

They did not. Swain, a public figure who ran for mayor, frequently appears on Fox News, and she’s been an all-star panelist here for some time – good friend.

The shadow banning persisted for about seven days. Swain said, “Clearly, they are doing something to suppress the reach of Conservatives and I am on their radar screen right now, I would say. And for me, I think it has to do with my visibility around Critical Race Theory.”

That’s what Carol Swain told The Tennessee Star. Grant, Big Tech bullies? It can’t be!

Henry: You know that there’s a change in the political wins when Justice Clarence Thomas is coming out with new coined opinions that are starting to lean in a different direction. Here’s the headline actually I’m reading, “Spurred by Clarence Thomas, Ohio AG Wants Google Declared a Public Utility.”

I’m not kidding. Just last month, the state of Ohio sued Google in an unusual complaint that seeks a legal declaration that Google is a common carrier and a public utility into Ohio law.

You understand what they’re going for here? Obviously. Right now, here’s my thing that, Michael, it’s going to be a little bit out of left field, maybe something that’s controversial in the room that we’re sitting in now.

The super uber limited government side of me wants to say, look, man, if Facebook wants to create a terrible product and run that product on the ground, by all means, do so.

Now, Clarence Thomas is disagreeing with me. Clarence Thomas is saying, however, we have a problem here where it should be deemed as a public utility.

And if you’re keeping elected officials off the platform, then clearly it’s something in the realm of let’s say, not just a public utility, but an arena by which we have this conversation.

Again, let me make a call to my conservative brethren, though. If we truly believe in this limited government philosophy and letting businesses do is they want to, stop using the product!

And I know that’s the thing that we can’t exactly get our heads around right now, but I would make the effort. There’s a clear, overt, unadulterated bias on behalf of all these social media companies.

Stop using their product! Stop giving them your money. Stop promoting them. They’re just going to keep doing what they’re doing unless we answer with our dollars, unless we answer by moving to something else.

Unless some benevolent billionaire gives us a different option, we can’t keep playing their games.

And not just Facebook, it’s Twitter and it’s all of them. They’re working in a cohesive unit together.

Leahy: Andy, our free-market guy here, Grant Henry, says he agrees with Justice Thomas that Google should be regulated as a utility. Do I have you right on that, Grant?

Henry: I’m going back and forth here. (Leahy laughs) I’m honestly conflicted. I’m honest.

Leahy: Our conflicted friends.

Henry: I respect the man so much, but I’m also a free-market guy.

Leahy: So you’re uncertain. You’re conflicted. Are you conflicted on this, Andy?

Ogles: If you go back to January of this year, I wrote a letter to the governor and to the Speaker of the House, and the Lieutenant Governor, asking them to follow Florida’s lead.

I’m a fellow with Club for Growth. Club for Growth is a conservative organization. And one of my colleagues, who is also a fellow down in Florida, who is a state legislator, wrote a bill that would penalize Facebook and Twitter and such for censoring anyone.

But Conservatives in particular. And so I called on our General Assembly to do the same and I got no response. But now you’re seeing that taking place, of course, in Florida and across the country.

They censored our president. It’s taking place in Tennessee because our governor and General Assembly did not take action.

And I would agree. So there’s a point at which I’m a free-market guy, for sure, but when you have a business get so large that they then control all the entry points into a marketplace, that changes that conversation somewhat.

And so how do you manage that? Part of it is you could have governors stepping in and pushing back against this censorship.

And then also, all of your states are institutional investors. So what does that mean? Tennessee has billions of dollars under management.

And if they pulled all of those investment dollars out of Twitter, out of Facebook, and out of the tech companies, look, you and I stop using Facebook or Twitter.

It has minimal impact. They really don’t care. Tennessee pulls a billion dollars out of their stocks, they care, and they will change how they do business.

But it’s going to take leadership from not just one state like Florida and Ron DeSantis, oh, by the way, who’s a fantastic governor.

It’s going to take, like, a chorus of governors working together to push back against social media. Otherwise they’re going to steal another election from us. Period.

Leahy: Governor Bill Lee is not singing in harmony with that Conservative chorus it seems to me. A little bit off-key. (Laughs) That’s my view.

Ogles: I was going to say something, and then I just stopped. Because it’s probably better.

Leahy: Grant, you’re dying to say something here, aren’t you?

Henry: No, just hanging out. I’m just reveling.

Leahy: Reveling in the fun we’re having.

Henry: That’s right.

Leahy: Let me go personally on the record, and I disagree with Justice Thomas. Probably the first time in a long time. I don’t think it should be regulated as a utility, because then you’ve got the government sanctioning their activities.

I think they should be broken up. I also want to bring to your attention a great article at The Wall Street Journal by a fellow by the name of Vivek Ramaswamy.

He lives in Cincinnati. We’ve tried to get him on the show. He’s like a biotech billionaire and about 35 years old. Very conservative.

Here’s the article: Trump Can Win His Case Against Tech Giants. You know, last Wednesday, President Trump and the America First Institute announced that he’s suing Google, Facebook, Twitter, and their CEOs in a class-action lawsuit.

By the way, I don’t know if I mentioned this to you. Our own Laura Baigert of The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network was there at Bedminster Club of the Trump National Golf Club there and asked one very good question that the former president responded to.

And, oh, by the way, Laura Baigert of The Tennessee Star will be at the rally in Arizona that the former president is holding in Phoenix next week.

And we’ll be reporting live from that. It’s going to be an offering of the Star News Network wire service. So lots of local folks are participating in that.

Here’s what Vivek says: It’s true, the First Amendment ordinarily applies to the government rather than private companies. But the central claims in Mr. Trump’s class-action lawsuit that the defendants, Google, Twitter, Facebook, should be treated as state actors and are bound by the First Amendment when they engage in selective political censorship has precedent to back it up.

Their censorship constitutes state action because the government granted them immunity from legal liability, threatened to punish them if they allowed his favorite speech, and colluded with them in choosing targets for censorship.

I buy that argument. Grant Henry, will the courts buy that argument?

Henry: I don’t know, honestly. I’m not sure. And if I’m going to be pushed gun-to-head type thing, I’m probably going to say they may not buy that argument.

They’re probably going to wait and let the legislature move on Section 230 before they jump and preempt or circumvent the legislator.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County. Will the federal judiciary take a knee, shall we say, on that issue?

Ogles: I hope not. I think one of the legacies of Donald Trump is the Supreme Court, but also the federal judiciary and the changes in the employment of judges there. And, hopefully, we can bring some common sense into this conversation.

Listen to the 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.













Americans for Prosperity’s Grant Henry Talks Communism and Its ‘Useful Idiots’

Americans for Prosperity’s Grant Henry Talks Communism and Its ‘Useful Idiots’


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 Grassroots Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry to the studio to discuss his in-laws’ experience with real communism and how Americans are born with liberty and freedom in their DNA that is being diluted by left-wing government propaganda its useful idiots.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our good friend Grant Henry, the grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, Tennessee. Good morning, Grant.

Henry: Good morning, sir. I’m happy to be back.

Leahy: Well, the fourth of July. You take a look at this fourth of July. The public demonstration seemed to be a little different than in the past.

There was a report that several members of the US women’s National Team turned away from the American flag as a 98-year-old World War II veteran played the National anthem on his harmonica.

And then Democrat Cori Bush went out and said, America’s a terrible country on the Fourth of July. Not exactly the way I think we should celebrate the Fourth of July. Grant, how did you celebrate your Fourth of July?

Henry: Completely opposite from that. I celebrated my Fourth of July, obviously spending time with friends and family. And in particular, having a conversation with my in-laws. My wife is her entire family is from Romania.

Leahy: Romania. Formally under Communist dictatorship. What? Ceaușescu is a terrible guy who was running it while the Soviets were they were part of the Soviet block.

Henry: Yes. And to hear them discussing it is an enlightening conversation, to say the least. And I’ll say right now if you have never had the pleasure of doing so, I would strongly recommend having a conversation with anybody you know in your life that may have fled communism.

My wife’s family did. My wife was the only first person in her family born in America. The rest of them grew up under communism. They fled Communism.

Leahy: Her parents were born in Communist-controlled Romania?

Henry: Well, obviously born in Romania prior to Communist control.

Leahy: Prior to Communism.

Henry: Prior to Communist control. And then tell stories about what that overtake looks like.

Leahy: That happened from the period of 1945 post World War II.

Henry: 1947 is when it started.

Leahy: When did the communist regime end there? 1990?

Henry: ’80 something. Don’t quote me on that but around that.

Leahy: So they were there during the period of the Communist take over. What was that like for them?

Henry: They told me a story yesterday in particular which somehow stumbled across this. Obviously, we were talking about July four th what it means to be an American.

We stumbled across this conversation of a term I’m sure everybody has heard before called a useful idiot. Which is a strange thing to bring up during the July Fourth conversation.

Leahy: Well, it’s a phrase. First, I think Vladimir Lenin wrote about useful idiots and he talked about people who were well-intentioned but ill-informed, and they advanced arguments that help Communists take control of Russia.

Henry: My father-in-law, his father owned a farm, and in the community was large enough that it actually fed the rest of the community with vegetables.

Leahy: Really? That’s a pretty large farm.

Henry: It is. And unlike other farms in the area, we just feed your own family. He said, right after the Communist take over, the strangest things started happening where one day a judge came back and just happened upon his farm.

And he said, hey, listen, I was just fired yesterday. I can’t find work anywhere. Can I have work at your farm? A couple days later, a couple of weeks later, a University Professor came back. Same exact story.

I was just fired from the University, and I can’t find work anywhere. Can I work at your farm? Eventually, a high-level banker came back.

Exact same story. And he realized that across the nation, the nation’s most intelligent had been fired from their positions and replaced by people that would not ask questions.

They had been replaced by people that certainly were not qualified for those jobs, but simply followed orders. And I’m telling you, Michael, it illuminated this term useful idiot for me in a way that I had never heard before.

He followed this story by saying, listen, Grant. You see, he has a little bit of broken English, though. But he said, you see, there’s something that you Americans tend to forget.

You Americans have liberty and freedom in your DNA. You are born with it. You’re born into it. You’re all born with the will to fight for what’s right. And it caused me to think. We’re missing this message.

Leahy: Well, that DNA, each generation is being diluted. It seems to me. And intentionally being deluded by all the folks on the left who are promoting the falsehood that America is bad.

America is actually the greatest country in the world. But they are making it so that kids going to K-12 public schools feel embarrassed about their country.

Henry: And we need to tell people again, this is one of the reasons why I love working with Americans for Prosperity. We find social change entrepreneurs.

We need to pitch the message that you are not a liability that needs to be taken care of or not some type of victim that constantly needs to rely upon the government for some type of handout or hand up. You can do it on your own. You are empowered.

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.