Star News Digital Media’s CTO Christina Botteri Discusses ‘Morality Bureau’ Facebook as Publisher Versus Platform

Star News Digital Media’s CTO Christina Botteri Discusses ‘Morality Bureau’ Facebook as Publisher Versus Platform

 

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 Ben Cunningham welcomed Star News Media’s CTO Christina Botteri in studio to discuss Big Tech censorship and the concept of publisher versus platform.

Cunningham: Christina Botteri is across the table. Cristina, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

Botteri: Great to be here.

Cunningham: Chief Technology Officer of Star Media and Grant Henry with Americans for Prosperity. Grant, thank you so much for joining us, too. Two days in a row here. Thank you.

Henry: I’m available for three if you need it.

Cunningham: I’m actually a little bit more alert this morning than it was yesterday, so I don’t know, maybe I’m acclimating a little bit. I was a little foggy yesterday. We were talking about Facebook and Project Veritas and their disclosures from a Facebook insider that Facebook has been censoring the people who have vaccine hesitancy.

That sounds like a disease itself. And it’s extraordinary the hubris that the corporate leaders have to come out and tell Americans, we’re not going to allow you to say that. That is not allowed speech on the Facebook platform.

That’s scary as the devil. And if they’re censoring something like that, you know, they’re censoring other stuff. What other speech on Facebook is censored? And I get messages every day about people that got a 30-day suspension for this or a seven-day suspension for that.

This literally is like some morality bureau where they are sitting up there and punching the button and the floor falls out from under you and your chair goes down in a hole. (Botteri laughs)

And nobody knows where you’re gone and you’re never to be heard from again. It’s almost like that, you know? And the arrogance of these people that believe that they can censor our speech. And obviously, there are lots of people concerned about this.

And Marsha Blackburn, in particular in Congress, is saying we need to revise Section 230. Grant, you were talking about Section 230. What does that involve? Where would that get us if Facebook became not a publisher? That’s what you were talking about, right?

Henry: Yeah.

Cunningham: They would not be a publisher, they would be?

Henry: A platform, basically. This all started, obviously, in the tech bubble wave, and we’re in the 90s into the 2000s. And the idea was if we have a website that has a message board or a forum, if you will, you can’t hold the website accountable for any random individual that would jump on there and just post whatever they want to.

Especially if there’s no process by which you vet this information before it gets on there. It’s logical. And to not stifle the growth of the Internet itself, the great frontier of information you have to give them some elite as some allowance, is that you wouldn’t give a normal publisher.

And to be fair, Facebook has always said that we’re not going to be in the game of dictating what is and is not true. We’re just going to let you get out there and have an interaction. But I will say, Ben, whether it’s from Twitter, say, censoring the information of the Hunter Biden story during the election.

Or whether it’s from Facebook censoring this vaccine information right now and whether it’s from Google shutting down stories about this Wuhan Lab leak, it seems to be fairly ubiquitous that we have a problem with access to information.

If I could be so bold as to play Devil’s advocate for a minute here, there are several libertarian-leaning Conservatives that will make the argument, or should I say just conservatism in general that will make the argument of, hey, this is a free company.

They can do what they want. A private company, let them do what they want with their own product. If Facebook wants to create a terrible product and drive its revenue into the ground, then, by all means, let them do it.

Something else to come up and take its place. And I don’t know, I’ll throw it out there to the audience to see. I have my own personal opinions on this, but it is something that Conservatives are left in a little bit of a conundrum to figure out how to deal with. Part of our world uses the free market. The other part says this is a major, obvious, objective problem we have here.

Cunnigham: Christina, what’s your take on that?

Botteri: (Chuckles) Well, you are wrong. People who think, oh, we’ll just wait until something better comes along. And the problem with that is that, as you mentioned, in the early days of the whole tech boom in 1999, I’m old enough to remember 1998, let me tell you something. (Laughter)

Cunningham: Cry me a river.

Botteri: At that time, the Internet was this grand frontier. That’s a wonderful way to put it. And special deals, carve-outs were provided for these new companies, these new endeavors that were going to connect people across the globe.

So Section 230 was sort of one of those special deals. And so companies like Facebook and Google and others, Twitter, and MySpace at the time got these special exemptions. And they grew and they prospered for the most part. (Laughter) They did. They grew.

They prospered. And because they knew what they were doing, and they improved as the technology improved. I’m thinking of Facebook in particular, Twitter, especially, they were able to effectively create a monopoly of instant communications and a freely available communications monopoly on the basis that they were going to be a platform.

And so when they start picking the winners and losers, they very quickly do not become a platform. They are a publisher. I think it’d be really tough for anybody and I’ll go nose to nose with anybody on that one.

Cunningham: And Facebook owns Facebook, of course, huge. They own Instagram. They own WhatsApp. And those are probably three of the biggest social media platforms around. And Microsoft owns LinkedIn. I can tell you that from first-hand knowledge because the Nashville Tea Party was thrown off of LinkedIn with 40,000 followers three weeks before the 2020 election.

And we asked, why did you throw us off? And they said, well, you were trying to influence the election. Us and like 100 million other people were trying to influence the election. It was just an absurd, absurd thing. They obviously didn’t like our politics and that I think they are beginning to respond.

The creation of this board where they decided about whether that they should keep Trump off is at least a PR attempt to create transparency. But they’re going to have to create a whole lot more transparency about how they handle these complaints.

Henry: Well, this is always what happens, right? The law always takes a prolonged period of time to catch up with technology. You certainly understand that. And I think that’s where we are.

But I will say ever the optimists, at least this morning, let me tell a quick story about what happened in the Tennessee legislature just this past session. Representative Mike Sparks, actually carried a bit that was fairly similar to what DeSantis just signed in Florida, and his ability to crack down on Facebook and social media’s quite obvious bias that’s going on right now.

Now, I don’t believe it made out of sub-committee. I’m almost certain it didn’t make it out of committee, but Representative of Michael Curcio made a fairly interesting argument in subcommittee, something to the effect of…

Cunningham: For or against?

Henry: Against.

Cunnigham: Good. Thank you for that.

Henry: Yeah, he made your arguments against why this shouldn’t pass. And his argument went something like this. He said, hey, I was just hanging out with my nieces over the past weekend, and I asked them something about Facebook.

And they almost give me this stunned, stoned perplex look on their face like they didn’t know what it was. They just don’t know what Facebook is. They’re not on there anymore. They don’t use Facebook.

So Curcio’s point was given another five years, and this entire argument itself will be moved. It will be obsolete because the product itself will no longer be used by the upcoming generation.

There are such a plethora of things to choose from nowadays, whether it’s Snapchat or Twitch, or TikTok. I can’t even remember all of them. And here’s the point that I’m making. Conservatives, here’s the optimism thing.

Conservatives, we believe in free-market choice, and we are doing that. If we can’t get the legal side, we are making the act of choice. Look what we did with Parler. We pushed that to the moon and back.

We pushed it so far that they shut it down and you can’t download the app anymore. Conservatives, we do believe what we say. We believe to some extent. And I think we actually go out there and use the alternative forms of media if we’re being censored on the other one.

Now, I think there is some conjunction use between making the legal aspect there. I mean, understandable fair, and free and at the same time, forcing free-market decisions to hold Facebook accountable at the same time.

Botteri: I’m sorry, but the thing of it is that when you have behavior that is unacceptable where a platform is, behaving like a publisher, you need to enforce the law.

Cunningham: Yes. I don’t think there’s any question. Something’s gotta change. Somebody has got to feel some pressure for free speech. And hopefully, that will evolve into something that’s useful to everybody.

Listen to the full second 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Answers the Question of the Day, What Is Infrastructure?

Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Answers the Question of the Day, What Is Infrastructure?

 

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 Ben Cunningham welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the infrastructure spending, budget reconciliation, and the filibuster.

Cunningham: Neil McCabe, who is the Washington correspondent for Star Media and probably the most connected person in Washington, D.C., is on the line with us. Neil, good morning.

McCabe: Hey. Fantastic to be with you. I hope you had a good, long weekend.

Cunningham: We did. We did. Al Gore was in town, so it was cold. (McCabe laughs) So, unfortunately, we had a cold weekend, but I actually got in the water. I stayed in about 30 seconds, and then I got out. All right, Neil, we’re going to ask you the question of the day here. What is infrastructure? (Laughter)

McCabe: What isn’t infrastructure. (Laughter)

Henry: That’s the answer.

Cunningham: What can you tell us about the huge package? I mean, he announced this week the package where he throws everything into this thing but the kitchen sink. How is this thing going to fare? Are Republicans going to stand up at all, or are they just going to pass this thing via reconciliation and it’s going to be over quickly?

McCabe: There are a number of different Republican senators that have made their way to the White House to try to cut deals, and all of them are sort of the usual suspects that you would expect, like Mitt Romney.

But also, you know, John Cornyn, I think the person to really watch is Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia. She is a full-on Trump hater. This, of course, was after the election, and she sort of played nice with Trump during his presidency. But once the results were sort of put in stone, she has come out as a full-on Trump hater.

She’s also someone who uses Paul Ryan’s fundraiser. And I wrote about this for The Tennessee Star. She is completely linked in to this GOP resistance that’s being run by Paul Ryan. And this crowd is trying to push for an infrastructure bill. And who knows what’s even in it. Republicans are saying 900 billion. And that’s, like, their compromise.

Cunningham: Yeah, thanks a lot.

McCabe: But what’s even in it, right. The only thing we know that’s not in it is a wall on the Mexican border, which was, frankly, even throughout the campaign, that’s like, the biggest applause line Trump ever had.

And so what they’re going to do is the Biden White House needs to get this thing done. And they’ve told the Republicans that they have a week to sort of get their act together. And if they want to participate in this thing, the translation is the Biden and Democrats say we’re going to pass this.

And if you want your pork projects, if you want your swimming pools, your bridges, and all this stuff for your districts and your states. If you want all your goodies and Christmas presents put into this bill, you have to get on board now.

And they think they can pass it. They might be able to do a reconciliation, but they might not. The Senate is not lock solid. It’s a 50-50 Senate. And there are Democrats who are in trouble.

Cunningham: Has Manchin come out one way or the other on the whole budget?

McCabe: Manchin is a stoic vote for the Democrats. But what he won’t do is he will not go along with the filibuster and he may not go along with reconciliation. Now they may do reconciliation with the permission of the Parliamentarian. This reconciliation rule basically makes the budget exempt from a filibuster.

And the idea is you can’t to stop the government from being shut down by a filibuster. And so you’re only supposed to have one budget a year hence, you can use reconciliation one time. And you can only use reconciliation when it deals with taxes or something connected to the budget.

This is why sometimes a tax bill can go through with reconciliation. But we saw in 2017, you can’t do a lot. It has to be kind of revenue-neutral. And so Manchin may or may not go along with this. My feeling is that Manchin will vote with the Democrats on their bills like this one.

He will not try to disrupt the rules of the Senate. You’re looking at in Arizona, you have Sinema and Mark Kelly, who may be no votes. Obviously, Hassan in New Hampshire is looking at Chris Sununu.

And you have this specter of inflation, which was like something people were whispering about. They were whispering about it six months ago, three months ago, two months ago.

Cunningham: Now it’s real.

McCabe: Now people are saying, holy mackerel, we are going to blow up this economy with inflation. And the idea that Biden just announced another six trillion dollar bill. And people are like, whoa, guy, what are you doing?

Carmichael: Neil, let me ask you a quick question. Didn’t the COVID bill the Democrats passed, didn’t they pass that with reconciliation?

McCabe: I’m not sure if they use reconciliation.

Carmichael: Well they had to because no Republicans voted for it.

McCabe: So if they did, that was their one-off. The Parliamentarian rules that you can use reconciliation twice, then basically it’s game over. Then the filibuster is over. But the specter of inflation is becoming very, very real. And for the first time, the Republicans are getting political traction against the spending, not because of the debt, but because of this inflation.

Carmichael: Neil, let me ask a question. I’m going to make a statement, and you can correct me. I was under the impression that reconciliation could be used for taxes and spending.

But if you are going to pass another bill, for example, the ProAct or the Senate version of the HR1 that requires 60 votes, but the taxes and spending did not require 60 votes that you can pass that with a majority. Am I wrong about taxes and spending?

McCabe: No, you’re absolutely right. The reason why you have this reconciliation allows for one privileged motion a year in the Senate that is not subject to filibuster. But that’s because of the need to get the budget done.

You can’t change the voting age. You can’t regulate guns or de-regulate. You can’t do gun legislation. You can’t make Puerto Rico estate using reconciliation. If it’s connected to the budget, you can use reconciliation.

But even then, there’s not a lot you can do because you have to be relatively budget neutral or revenue-neutral, which is why the 2017 tax bill was passed with reconciliation. But it couldn’t go to the far extremes, which is why they had the House bill repealing the estate tax, and Republicans put the state or death tax back in. Specifically, Mike Rounds from South Dakota, personally put the estate tax back in.

But the excuse was that we needed to push revenue back in so we can get this bill passed. Biden’s in trouble. Let me just say. And I’ve said it over and again. Biden is in trouble and he’s losing control of the Senate, but he’s also losing control of the House.

And whatever he doesn’t get done by July 4 will not get done. We’ve already crossed Memorial Day. They know that they have between now and July 4 to get something done.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newly Elected Davidson County GOP Chair Jim Garrett on Top Priorities and Hope for Conservatives of Middle Tennessee

Newly Elected Davidson County GOP Chair Jim Garrett on Top Priorities and Hope for Conservatives of Middle Tennessee

 

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. –  official guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed newly elected GOP chair for Davidson County Jim Garrett to the newsmakers line to discuss his priorities moving forward and his optimism for conservatives.

Cunningham: We’ve got a great guest now, and it’s a guy that has a big challenge. Jim Garrett is the newly re-elected chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. Jim, good morning.

Garrett: Good morning, Ben. Good morning, Grant. How are you all?

Cunningham: We’re doing great. Thanks so much for getting up early with us. We really appreciate it.

Garrett: Since I’ve retired a couple of years ago, I have generally taken the sixth and the seven off of my clock. (Cunnigham chuckles) Well, we are doubly impressed that you’re with us.

Thanks so much and congratulations on the re-election. I think the term is the reorganization was this weekend and you were elected chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. And congratulations on that.

Garrett: Thank you very much. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Cunningham: I know you are a dedicated conservative. And being a dedicated conservative in Davidson County is not an easy job because Davidson County is one of the blue counties that conservative Republicans in Tennessee, you have to deal with and along with Shelby County and a few others. But Davidson and Shelby are the two biggies.

What is it like being the chair of the Republican Party in a blue County? What are the challenges you guys are facing?

Garrett: The challenges we face are those very similar to what the Republicans across the country they’re facing. We’ve got a very energized opposition. The Democrat Party is very energized here in Davidson County.

They are somewhat organized and they’re in charge. So they killed us with COVID. Our reorganization normally would have happened in the first quarter of an odd number of years. We do it every two years.

But because of what John Cooper and his Health Department were doing, we had to postpone and postpone and postpone and finally got it done in May much later than we would have normally done it.

Cunningham: I hadn’t even thought about that. All the code restrictions affected, obviously, your ability to come together, didn’t it?

Garrett: We couldn’t have more than eight people for most of our meetings. So we’ve been doing Zoom meetings the last several months we have been in person, but we did spend all 2020 year in Zoom meetings meeting every month for our executive committee. And the restrictions, yes, they hurt us quite a bit.

Henry: Hey, Jim. Grant Henry here. I have a question based on reports I’ve been reading in reports and you get this general sense and an almost palpable feeling that there’s a conservative resurgence happening here in Middle Tennessee.

Tomi Lahren moved to town. Candace Owens lives here now. Ben Shapiro up and moved the entire Daily Wire crew and 85 employees to Nashville. You get this feeling almost that for some of the under 40 conservatives it’s the place to be in this happening city?

Do you think that’s going to have an impact at all on how the GOP operates in Davidson County? Or is that just a little bit too naive of me?

Garrett: It is not naive at all. On my end of the telephone, I get three or four calls a day from people wanting to get involved. Our website gopnashville.org has got buttons on there for volunteering and contributing.

But the volunteer button three or four times a day. I’ll get an email from the website saying that this person or that person wants to do it. And it’s just fun to watch. Of the 14 members that we elected to the office of the executive committee this time, five of us there are 15.

But five of us are returning people who’ve been around for a while. 10 of them, though, are people relatively new to Davidson County. They’ve got a great experience where they did live in the Republican Party.

They work with state legislators, state offices. They were chairman of their parties out in California, up in New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia. And they bring with them a vast experience. And energy that I haven’t seen before here in Davidson County. I’m excited. I’m not excited a bit awed of where I think we can go and what we can do.

Cunningham: Jim, the people talk all the time about the Metro Council and the fact that basically is, except for Steve Glover and a few others, it is pretty much a bastion of the far left. How do we crack that nut, so to speak?

Garrett: We have a chance right now. We’re going through that here in the state with the 2020 census and the redistricting. We’re looking at redistricting. I set out the beginning of this year with four objectives basically based on each quarter.

My first quarter was the reorganization. We got that done late, but we got it. The second quarter is working with the General Assembly on redistricting for our state House seats here in Davidson County and our state senate seats here in Davidson County.

But then recruiting candidates in the third quarter for 2022 and in training those candidates in the fourth quarter for 2022. But that brings us to 2023. And again, we’ll go through a redistricting for 2023 and the council race.

We are going to be working to try to get lines drawn that would give us a chance in certain areas. We have good Republican people here. Trump got 100,000 votes or something like that in Davidson County.

So we’ve got a body of people. They’re also silent. They’re also quiet. They’ve been beaten down, but I think if we can energize them, the council race will change. I don’t expect this to get a majority of 21 people out of that 40.

I don’t expect that at all, but I would like to see us get 10 to 15 solid Republicans in there. And if we do that, we can certainly change what this Metro Council does what direction they go.

Henry: Jim, you may have just answered this question with that statement you just made, but if someone were to call in, if they’re listening right now, if they’re thinking, Hey, I just moved to Davidson County and I want to get involved in local GOP group.

What’s your top priority issue? What’s the thing you need them to work on the most? What do you need the most help with right now? Is it those council races?

Garrett: No. Council races are 2023. It’s 2022 that we are focused on right now, and we need candidates for state House. We need some representation in the state house here, and we’ve got 10 state House seats and none of them are a Republican right now, and we’ve got to change that. So our next main focus will be candidates for the 2022 race.

Henry: Jim, do you see any one seat more vulnerable than the others say within Davidson County at the state house level?

Garrett: There are some seats that are not vulnerable at all, and we probably won’t touch them. But there are other seats that are. You’ve got five who have decided not to run again. That seat is going to be uncontested.

I think Bo Mitchell in House seat 50 is at risk. The people out there don’t like Bo. Bo is the only legislator that I’ve been down to the capital that has actually got up and walked out of his office. He insulted me at a time.

And I just got up and walked out of the meeting with him. That man is an evil man, in my opinion, but I think he’s vulnerable out there. There’s probably a couple of others.

Cunningham: Obviously, Mayor Cooper has been a disappointment. A lot of conservatives had faith in him that he would be a fiscal conservative, but that faith has been completely blown away.

Garrett: Oh, absolutely. I was at a friend’s house when we had to get together and Cooper was there talking about how conservative he was and it was a bi-partisan race and that he’s basically a conservative.

And then the first thing he does out of the pot is to raise our taxes 34 or 37 percent depending on where you live. I think Cooper right now with this referendum that’s going on, is scared to death that it will pass and we will get that voter list and get the voter numbers turned down because he’s vulnerable for a recall. And I do believe he is vulnerable for a recall.

Cunningham: Well, Jim, we are up against the break. Give us that website one more time if you would before we leave.

Garrett: Gopnashville.org.

Listen to the full second 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 “Davidson County Republican Party” by Davidson County Republican Party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC’s Shaka Mitchell Discusses the Mechanics of ESA Vouchers and His Upcoming School Choice Rally

AFC’s Shaka Mitchell Discusses the Mechanics of ESA Vouchers and His Upcoming School Choice Rally

 

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 Cunningham welcomed Tennessee Director of the American Federation for Children Shaka Mitchell to the newsmakers line who explained in detail the purpose of ESA’s and how there is a large amount of parental support for the initiative. He also advised of the upcoming rally in Legislative Plaza this Thursday at 8 a.m.

Cunningham: One of the threats is the continuing erosion of parental authority in education and parents’ ability to make decisions about where they’re going to send their children and what curriculum there’s going to be taught to their children. Shaka Mitchell is with the American Federation for Children and is the state director. Shaka, good morning.

Mitchell: Hey, good morning. Thanks for having me.

Cunningham: Thank you so much for getting up early. We appreciate it. Tennessee has passed the ESA, the educational savings account legislation, but there are some threats to it coming up. There’s a hearing with the Tennessee Supreme Court coming up. Tell us about that.

Mitchell: Yeah. Thanks, Ben. So you’re absolutely right. The state legislature or General Assembly passed the Tennessee Education Savings Account pilot program back in 2019 actually.

It passed in 2019, and there are nearly 3,000 students signed up for the program. And those are students in the Metro Nashville Public School system and Shelby County School system, which are our two biggest districts in the state.

They account for about 20 percent of the state’s children just in those two districts. Well, it always polls so well that to me, that’s no surprise that parents are responding that way because when you ask parents about educational choice, always they always say, yes, we want control over how our children are educated.

Mitchell: Yeah, that’s right. And frankly, that polling has only increased over the past year. The Tennessee General Assembly was ahead of the curve because we passed that ESA law before COVID.

Imagine what happened after you have had a year of many kids in Nashville and Memphis who haven’t been in a school building in a year and a half. So you can imagine how frustrated parents are.

And, so of course, parents are saying, yeah, I’d much rather more control over where my kids learn, what they learn, and how they learn than these districts who haven’t done right by our kids for decades.

Cuningham: Tell us just about the basic mechanics of the ESA. How does it work?

Mitchell: The ESA works a little bit like a health savings account. I’m sure people are getting ever more familiar with that. I won’t bore you to death with education financing because, frankly, you need a Ph.D.

Cunningham: It’s too early in the morning. (Laughter)

Mitchell: But suffice to say, the state government put in just over $7,300 per pupil for every student who attends public school in the state of Tennessee. That’s the state portion alone, not the local, not the federal amount. $7,300.

If a family says, you know what? We want our child to find a different alternative because the zone school is not working for whatever reason, it’s not working for our kids we can take the state funds, and we can use them at a qualifying private school, which just means that there’s some accreditation.

If there’s money left over, you can use the funds for tutoring, for digital tools, like a laptop or Kindle, and that kind of thing. You can roll it over into a college savings account. You can use it for a whole host of educational expenses and you would do that at the parents’ decision.

It’s not this nine-member Pollett Bureau that we like to call the school board. It’s the parents making this decision.

Henry: Hey, Shaka, this is Grand Henry. While I’m here today in my own capacity, I do work for Americans for Prosperity and honestly, let me tell you, on behalf of the 4,600 grassroots folks that we work within Americans Prosperity, we cannot thank you enough.

And American Federation for Children for what you all do for education and particularly with this ESA bill. We had a lot to do with the fight as well, and we loved it. And all of our people love it as well.

I know there’s something coming up with Supreme Court this week on Thursday. What do you need from us? Is there a call for grassroots action? What’s the biggest point of concern? What should we be paying attention to on Thursday?

Mitchell: This is a great question, Grant. And you’re absolutely right. American Prosperity was a great partner and has been for parent choice, educational freedom across Tennessee. This Thursday, two days from now, the Tennessee Supreme Court is going to hear this case, which we’re excited about because as I mentioned, 3,000 kids had already signed up.

Well, after those kids signed up, the city of Nashville and Shelby Counties challenged Governor Lee’s program in court. They basically halted the program, which is a terrible tragedy.

But finally, this thing is up to the Tennessee state Supreme Court. We’re excited about that. So arguments are 9:00 a.m. Central time on Thursday. They will be streaming so you can catch the live stream.

It will be on YouTube. You can go to our website. We’ll have up there Schoolchoicetn.com. Grant, I bet that Americans for Prosperity can get that link out to your followers. And maybe even The Tennessee Star Report can, too. Thursday, we are having a rally downtown at Legislative Plaza. The capital is right there.

The Supreme Court building is right there because we think it’s important for the justices to know this isn’t a hypothetical case. This is the educational future for 15,000 students. This is what’s at stake

Henry: And Shaka, that rally, tell me if I’m wrong here, but it starts at 8 a.m. June 3 at Legislative Plaza.

Mitchell: Thursday, June third. That’s absolutely right. 8:00 a.m. at Legislative Plaza. There’s no need to you don’t need to register anything. Looks to be nice weather. We may get a little bit of rain tomorrow, but I think we’re going to get some nice weather. Listen, we even canceled the cicadas for everybody.

Henry: (Laughs) Was that ya’ll?

Mitchell: That was us.

Henry: We appreciate that.

Mitchell: But I think again, we’ve got to make sure the courts know, hey, this is real. And parents want to have the right to choose their schools, and we think they’ve got the constitutional right.

The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that time and time again. We just need these districts to get out of the way. If you all can’t get the job done, get out of the way and let parents have some agency.

Cunningham: Could you expand on that a little bit? Who are the people that oppose giving parents more authority? Who in the world would do that?

Mitchell: It’s a great question and without trying to call anybody any names I think, frankly, it’s the districts who are so satisfied with the status quo. They are satisfied with the status quo because if you are Metro Nashville Public School year after year, you can put out a product that fails students. Three out of four kids in Nashville don’t read on grade level. Three out of four kids.

Cunningham: 75 percent.

Henry: Wow.

Cunningham: My government school math is right.

Mitchell: That’s right. And yet, year after year, the kids keep coming back. They’re not coming back because they’re satisfied with what’s happening or because their parents are satisfied they’re coming back because there’s no other option.

And school choice has always existed for people who can afford it. And you can either afford it because you can pay for the school or you move to another area. But what about for the hundreds of thousands who can’t afford it?

Not that this show would get political or anything, but this year, we seem to be throwing money out the door. Throwing money at all types of different problems. Yet in K-12 education, I believe, because of the Teachers Unions, they have said, you know what, the status quo is still fine.

We’re giving money for PreK. We’re giving money for higher ed. We’re giving money for all different types of things and saying, hey, spend it how you want, but not for K-12. We think that’s got to change.

Henry: Shaka, obviously, with everything going on in the public school system, especially as far as it relates to Tennessee here. And we have one minute left. So I ask this question quickly. Some parents could obviously understand.

Hey, I have more of a reason now to educate my child than ever been before. But there is real statistical evidence behind this ESA being a better version of education. It’s not some animus towards public educators, correct?

Mitchell: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. I know that I’m giving the stats, right? But I’m not making up stats about the public education system. These are facts. My own kids go to a public school.

Listen, if the public school is working for you, that’s excellent. But don’t block someone else in their ability to find a school that works for their child.

Cunningham: Shaka, thanks so much for joining us this morning. It’s always too short. We really do appreciate it. Your rally is Thursday at 8 a.m. And give us your website one more time.

Mitchell: Schoolchoicetn.com.

Listen to the full 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 “Shaka Mitchell” by Shaka Mitchell.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Cunningham on Marxism: ‘One of the Most Treacherous and Murderous Ideologies Ever to Come Along’

Ben Cunningham on Marxism: ‘One of the Most Treacherous and Murderous Ideologies Ever to Come Along’

 

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. – guest host Ben Cunningham contemplates the results of the Marxist ideology and the effect upon young generations who don’t understand the consequences in the pursuit of their natural need of purpose.

Cunningham: I’m with the Nashville Tea Party. You can find us at nashvilleteaparty.com. And at Facebook. We hope we are still on Facebook. They take us off from time to time when we do naughty things. They did throw us off LinkedIn completely. We’ve just got back on LinkedIn, so hopefully, we’ll stay in their good graces for a little bit.

Henry: Who did you have to pay to get back on that one?

Cunningham: Yeah, (Chuckles) we may have to at some point. Free speech may have a monetary price. Grant, Henry, in this morning, we are co-hosting and trying to fill the big shoes of Michael Patrick Leahy, who’s away on vacation. But my goodness, the threats to the American experiment and what we think of are all these foundational documents, foundational ideals are. I know we say this a lot. This time in this place, we have more threats to the American experiment than we’ve had in a long time.

Henry: It’s paradigm-shifting time.

Cunningham: It is.

Henry: It really is.

Cunnigham: We have this critical mass of people in academia who believe in some form of Marxism, and that’s what we were talking about earlier. And it’s just depressing and pathetic that this great country where people can come and be anything they want to be.

And you pull a ship up to any port across the world and say, we’re going to take you to America. You fill up that ship in 10 minutes. And it is a beacon of hope. And yet we’ve got this toxic, toxic Marxism and all its varieties.

Henry: My wife’s family rather fled communism from Armenia.

Cunningham: Oh, really?

Henry: So they will tell you endless stories about not just what it’s like to flee. That not just what it’s like to live under that, but the selective history that we choose to remember here in America. It baffles them and blows their mind that we just can’t remember anything past about 40 or 15 years ago.

Cunningham: And in so many ways they don’t teach that in the schools. And that’s what’s depressing. And then we have this Critical Race Theory coming along now is in fact just very thinly veiled Marxism trying to divide us up into virtuous victims and evil oppressors.

Deroy Murdock, one of the great Black conservatives wrote a great article in The Daily Signal. And I just want to quote this because it just encapsulates it so beautifully. Critical Race Theory may be the Democrat left’s filthiest ugliest big lie.

It defines America as inherently and irredeemably bigoted denounces all whites as racial oppressors and diminishes all Blacks as racially oppressed victims. Lies, lies, lies. The third lie is the worst.

Black Lives Matter, the diversity, police, and other systemic racism mongers relentlessly claim that white privilege and white supremacy blockade Black success. Blacks think, yes, we can.

The Democrat left replies, no, you can’t. And that really is the essence of Critical Race Theory again dividing us up instead of what Marx said, the proletariat and the bourgeois. This divides up by race and says, if you’re white you’re an evil oppressor.

And if you’re Black, you are a victim. And it just is absolutely antithetical to everything, and it will ruin this country if we allow it to. And you were talking earlier about all of these utopian visions couched in good intentions and that so many young people love that they love being identified, and it gives their lives some meaningful purpose.

Henry: Purpose.

Cunningham: Marxism is an awful way of governing, but it’s a hell of a way of selling an ideology. I mean, Marx, he personally was just a wreck of a human being. He didn’t even attend his own wife’s funeral.

And he was just an awful person. He basically was a kept person. He had other people that supplied his income. Probably the reason he came up with this idea that the state can provide for you.

And it’s just awful every time it’s been tried. And one of the great quotes, I just wanted to get this in real quick. One of the great quotes that always impresses me is from Pol Pot. Pol Pot was one of the Marxist dictators in Cambodia. One of the many Marxist dictators.

He actually traveled. Not us dung he thought owned the moon. And he traveled to China before he came into power with the Khmer Rouge. And they were just in power for four years and killed 2 million people.

A quarter of the population of Cambodia destroyed them. And some journalists found him out in his jungle hideaway after he had been run out of town, basically. And they asked him, they said, your government has killed a bunch of people.

What do you have to say to this? Pol Pot still said this. He said he was asked by journalists to comment on reports of mass killings during his period of power. Pol Pot replied, “Our policy was to provide an affluent life for the people.”

Henry: Wow.

Cunningham: His motivation in terms of his good intentions after he killed 2 million people. And it’s just mind-boggling. And it is so instructive with all this utopian thinking by these young folks.

They never think about what the results are. They think about the moment and identifying with something that’s noble and worthy. It is one of the most treacherous and murderous ideologies ever to come along.

Henry: The ideology to itself become so pervasive as you’re seeing now, whether it be through Critical Race Theory infecting all the way through primary education, or whether it be something at the university level or even with our careers right now.

I think if you’re still asking yourself, what is the allure? How are so many people drawn to this? Look at what Victor Frankel said. So we’re talking about motivating human beings. Adler said You motivate a human being through their desire for power. Maybe.

Jung said you motivate a human being through their desire for pleasure. Well, that’s just Hedonism. And we’ve tried that before. Victor Frankel was a philosopher who was a member as a Jewish individual in the Holocaust.

He didn’t have an opportunity to do either power or pleasure, clearly. So he distilled his worldview down to you really motivate a human being through their desire for purpose.

That’s why they feel like they have a purpose in this fight. But I’m telling you one more time then and right now, I truly believe conservatism has that real motivating purpose behind it. That’s what we need to get back to.

Cunningham: Absolutely. And we need to be unapologetic and courageous in stating it.

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.