Senator Hagerty Introduces the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act as Illegal Immigrant Children Are Flown into Tennessee

Senator Hagerty Introduces the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act as Illegal Immigrant Children Are Flown into 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. –  host Leahy welcomed TN (R) U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the illegal immigrant minors being flown into Chattanooga, Tennessee, and his proposed legislation to prevent this from continuing.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by United States senator from Tennessee, Bill Hagerty. Senator Hagerty, welcome back.

Hagerty: Great to be back with you. Thanks.

Leahy: Well, lots going on in terms of what the Biden administration is doing with flying illegal alien migrant children into Tennessee. The governor says he doesn’t want them, but the Biden administration is doing it. You’re going to do something about that. Tell us what your plan is.

Hagerty: Senator Blackburn, Representative Fleishman and I introduced new legislation yesterday called the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act that’s going to prevent this from happening again.

We’ve got to ensure that Biden administration is transparent with us, that Secretary of HHS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security consult with state and state local officials or any jurisdiction that’s going to be impacted by something like this.

And what they’re doing right now is flying these folks in under the cover of darkness. fAnd they’ve got to be able to tell us exactly how many people they intend to bring in to transport or relocate. Are these people being tested?

Do they have COVID or other health crises or illnesses? How many people because our schools, our hospitals, our law enforcement are going to have to deal with all of this. Our schools are going to be overwhelmed by what could be happening.

So we have an incredibly important right to know. And for them to be behaving in this manner is doing exactly what you’re not talked about before Michael. They’re turning every town in America into a border town.

Leahy: Senator Hagerty, I don’t know if you saw this. So Peter Ducey of Fox News was at a press conference yesterday with Jen Psaki, the press Secretary of President Biden, and he asked, well, the governor said we don’t want them in Tennessee.

And she said, well, they’re really just passing through. Passing through at 1:30 a.m. I don’t know. That doesn’t seem very credible to me or transparent.

Hagerty: It doesn’t. It doesn’t to me. And if you hold on a second, Michael, I’m going to read you a text that one of my friends sent me just the other day. He was flying on a commercial flight from Dallas to Chattanooga.

He talked with the escort on the flight, the adult that was escorting these young people. The guy spoke to him in English and he said that he was bringing these young people, again on a commercial flight.

This is not the fourth that was filmed in Chattanooga by the news station there. This is a different flight. But my friend said there were eight to 10 young unaccompanied minors. Let me just read you what he texted me when he saw it.

Good morning. My wife and I were on a flight from Dallas to Chattanooga last Tuesday. We landed in Chattanooga around 1:15 p.m. At the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, I spoke in the adult males that were escorting eight to 10 unaccompanied minor males that were on the flight. He told me he was taking them to a shelter in Chattanooga.

Leahy: That’s where you go. That’s not exactly passing through, is it Senator Hagerty?

Hagerty: It’s not exactly passing through. And we’ve been hearing rumor after rumor about this Temple dormitory facility there that know that’s been rented. It’s being set up. They’re running advertisements for bilingual people.

It certainly seems that that is a location where they’re housing these folks. And they’re not being transparent whatsoever with the local community or with Governor Lee, obviously. And we have demanded the right to know what’s happening.

Leahy: Senator Hagerty, what’s going to happen with your legislation? What committee does it go before? And what are the odds of passing?

Hagerty: We’re pushing it through right now. Again, its committees with jurisdiction over Homeland Security and HHS. I think there are a lot of senators that are concerned about this. Tennessee is the first to uncover it.

But the crisis is one that the Biden administration has caused because they caused our borders to collapse. This is going to put more pressure on them and I intend to put a tremendous amount of pressure on them to address the border situation.

Now, you know, we talked about this. I flew down to Guatemala and Mexico City just a couple of weeks ago to meet with the President of Guatemala, to meet with a foreign Minister in Mexico.

I met with a foreign Economic Minister to let them know this is a matter of utmost urgency to us. The Senate controls the power of the purse here in the United States of America. And I let them know loud and clear that we need this border crisis fixed now.

We need it fixed urgently because what it’s doing is not only increasing the flow of these migrant children, other migrant adults across the border. But it’s increasing illicit drug trafficking in Tennessee.

You talk to any sheriff, they’ll tell you that overdoses are up. Death from fentanyl is up since the borders collapse. We’ve got human trafficking in our state. This is precipitating crime throughout America, and we’ve got to bring it to an end.

Leahy: But Senator Haggerty, the President to Biden has said that Vice President Kamala Harris is right on the job. She’s been doing it for more than 45 days, I guess, is in charge of solving the border crisis. Has she done has she gone to any of these countries? Has she gone to the border? I don’t think so.

Hagerty: She’s scheduled to follow my footsteps next month.

Leahy: Next month.

Hagerty: I am a full month ahead of her. And I led the very first official delegation from the United States Senate since the Pandemic shut everything down. I don’t know why the White House has not been able to have a greater sense of urgency.

Leahy: I’ll give you one possible hypothesis to explain it. They want this crisis. They don’t want to solve it. They want it to continue. That’s my hypothesis.

Hagerty: I think your hypothesis has a high probability of being correct.

Leahy: (Laughs) Said with great caution, but accuracy by Senator Hagerty. (Hagerty chuckles) What does Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer say about your legislation?

Hagerty: Schumer is going to be under pressure from his members. Think about Mark Kelly, who’s in Arizona. He’s going to be up this cycle. He’s already criticized President Biden for his treatment of the border situation.

We need to make more and more senators understand that just like Chattanooga towns and their jurisdictions are going to turn into a border town too. They’re going to be overwhelmed the same way we are. Does their school have the capacity?

Do their hospitals have the capacity or will they be overwhelmed again? Law enforcement certainly wants to know what’s happening on a local basis. So everyone is going to be affected across the nation.

I predicted this when Biden let the border-collapse. We’ve got to go back to the policies that we’re working under the Trump administration. We’ve got to secure our border first, and then we can look at the longer term, the medium-term issues that are causing problems in those countries. But we cannot deal with that as long as this border is open.

Leahy: Have you asked Democrat Senator Mark Kelly from Arizona, to co-sponsor your bill?

Hagerty: We just put the bill out last night. Senator Blackburn and I did. And I think that is a great suggestion. Our teams are working right now to get co-sponsors today.

Leahy: Have your office let us know.

Hagerty: We’ll do it.

Leahy: He’s up for reelection in 2,022, isn’t he?

Hagerty: He is. And I think this is going to be a real issue for the people of Arizona. They’ve seen it manifest at the border. But now we’re seeing it manifest right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Leahy: Do you see perhaps Kristen Sinema, another Democrat Senator from Arizona, have you talked to her about possibly supporting those?

Hagerty: I talked with her last night. She is one of the people who tend to see things more as we do from time to time. Joe Manchin similarly. We get a couple of those Democrats sentence those who have voters more like our voters in Tennessee.

We may be able to get the type of bipartisan support that we need. But just as a matter of principle, as a matter of fairness, the administration shouldn’t be operating this clandestine transit operation under the stealth of night.

These people are entering our country illegally, and it’s not that Tennesseeans don’t have a heart. It’s not that we don’t care for people, but we need our laws followed. We don’t want to encourage illegal activity.

And by doing this and by continuing to make the border work like a turn style and resettle people in the interior of our nation, we’re just putting a big magnet at our Southern border, attracting more and more of these illegal activities to continue.

Leahy: When you talked last night with Senator Sinema, the Democratic Senator from Arizona about this, bill, what did she say?

Hagerty: She didn’t commit, but she was interested in hearing about it. What’s happening in Chattanooga is what I think has got a lot of people’s ears perked.

Leahy: That sounds like Senator Sinema. She’s very smart but very cautious. And she’s a Democrat. She didn’t commit, but she listened. I would be very curious to see what Senator Sinema says in the future and Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona. Are there any other Democrats you think might support this bill?

Hagerty: It’s going to depend on how the situation evolves over the next week or two. But what we’re seeing in Chattanooga has sensitized the rest of America to what can happen.

And I’ve got to believe that this is not the only situation. So as this unfolds  I’m going to be aggressively reaching out to those senators that are affected, just like we are in Tennessee.

Leahy: Senator Bill Hagerty, I think this is a great bill that you’re introducing. Thanks so much for joining us today and talking about it. And please come back again and talk about what you’re doing up there in Washington.

Hagerty: Certainly. All the best. Thank you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWF’s Carrie Sheffield Weighs in on Wokeism, Critical Race Theory, and the ‘Manifestation of a Liberal Wishlist’

IWF’s Carrie Sheffield Weighs in on Wokeism, Critical Race Theory, and the ‘Manifestation of a Liberal Wishlist’

 

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 IWF’s Senior Fellow Carrie Sheffield to the newsmakers line to discuss the woke agenda and implementation of critical race theory into public schools and how the Biden infrastructure plan will hurt the lower 20 percent of earners in the U.S.

Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend, whom we’ve never met but we’re glad to meet her now, Carrie Sheffield. Carrie, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Sheffield: Hey, Michael, great to be here. How are you?

Leahy: I’m great, Carrie. We have so many friends in common. You are a BYU grad. You went to Harvard, got a master’s in public policy there. And did you know a Professor there by the name of Dutch Leonard when you were at Harvard? He’s probably retired by now because he was an undergrad teacher of mine.

Sheffield: Okay.

Leahy: But you also started as a reporter with Politico and The Hill. You’re an entrepreneur. You started Bold TV for millennials. That’s a great venture. Most recently, you’ve been the White House correspondent for our good friend John Solomon’s Just the News and have left now to join as a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. Carrie, you’ve had a very, very productive and busy life.

Sheffield: Hey, thank you. That’s so kind of you. I have taken a breather right now. Being a fellow, I’m just delving into the policy and I love it. And Yes, John Solomon, and thanks for the plug for that. He’s fantastic. Go to justthenews.com, amazing content.

Leahy: Well, you know, my sense on this is that although you have been a reporter for a long time, I think there’s something in you. You’re a thinker about issues and I think you want the time to reflect. Do I have that right?

Sheffield: You know what? You hit the nail on the head, Michael. Yes, that’s kind of why I jumped back into the think tank. And that’s what we do at Independent Women’s Form, where we really break down the policy. And I love that. At Just the News it is just the news and I wanted to make sure to keep that firewall. And so I have a lot of opinions and at the Independent Women’s Forum, I’m allowed to share those opinions.

Leahy: A very good point. I know you have several topics you want to hit, but let’s talk about this problem of wokeism in our public and private schools today. It seems you cannot turn around without seeing it. And we have a story here in Williamson County a suburb of Nashville, where they’re introducing critical race theory into the K-12 schools here. They’re saying it’s not critical race theory, but parents are saying my kids are coming home saying, I hate myself because I’m white. That’s going on everywhere.

Sheffield: It really is. And we did some reporting about an elite school in New York City as well called the Brearley School, which is a private school. Very often you think of the private school system as a kind of relief from public schools, but not so in this one. They’re doing the same thing. They’re doing the critical race theory, and it’s coming in everywhere, the public schools, and private schools.

And it ultimately is a rejection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, which was that we don’t judge people by the color of their skin. We judge them by the content of their character. And what critical race theory is teaching is this narrative of suppressors and being victimized. And if you’re white, you have no choice but you are part of the suppressor class.

And there is just the slicing and dicing of America based on race. And it’s tribalism at its very worst. And it’s really toxic and tragic that this is taken over our school system. And if you even try to say something, I’m white, and oftentimes when I’m talking to liberals and I try to mention Dr. King, I’m not allowed to even say that because I’m white and that by its very definition, is racism.

Leahy: How can we fix this problem, Carrie? Because you talk to state legislators and we talked to a lot of them here in Tennessee but really, they’re not setting the tone for the schools. This critical race theory curriculum has seeped everywhere. Teachers do it independently. The school boards put it in. The school directors put it in. What’s the solution?

Sheffield: I think the parents should absolutely fight back. It’s a different topic, but there was a success. For example, in California, when it comes to school choice, the parents were the ones who took the leadership there to allow for school choice. So I would recommend to parents to be vocal about it and to push back and say, I am not going to allow my child to be indoctrinated, to hate people of other races, or to feel ashamed of their family background. This is just fundamentally anti-American. I think parents should not be afraid to speak out about this. I interviewed Dennis Prager earlier this year, and he said his solution is to take your kids out and to home school them. So that’s always an option, too.

Leahy: Well, it’s interesting because we have a bunch of parents who met last night in Williamson County in the suburb of Nashville here, and the school director refused to show up. One of 12 school board members showed up and said pretty much the same thing, tell everybody you don’t like this. The problem is the parents that do tell folks this don’t get much relief. The institution, to me of K-12 public education, seems to be corrupted beyond repair. That’s my view.

Sheffield: You know, it is local. That is the beauty of America. And we are seeing at a macro level people migrating out of these liberal States like California, and like out of New York. I was reading data from the U.S. Census Bureau and I think it was 16 states that lost population in 2020 just through that census in 10 years. And so that’s the other option. You can always vote with your feet if it really is that bad. And I know a lot of parents do move for schools. You can go to a state where this toxic critical race theory is not allowed.

Leahy: The only state that I see that happening Carrie right now is Florida. That’s not been pushed back here against in Tennessee. And people are moving to Tennessee because we have low taxes and it’s a great place to live.

Sheffield: Right. Well, I think also a lot of it can happen at the local level. I don’t know in particular if this is coming down from the state of Tennessee as opposed to the local level. But I do know that local districts often will respond to parents. And so I think there are options, whether that’s petitioning, maybe putting things on local referendums, or putting things for a vote. There are options.

Leahy: You also want to talk about Joe Biden’s infrastructure program which looks like anything but infrastructure. Where does that stand right now?

Sheffield: I like to say it’s like that phrase, where’s the beef? Where’s the infrastructure? (Chuckles) And Newsweek was reporting it’s only about six percent of his plan overall. This is even according to a White House fact sheet that it was proposing only 115 billion or ‘modernizing the bridges and roads that are in most critical need of repair.’

But the vast majority of this is really just a liberal grab bag of many other things. In terms of the answer to your question of where things stand, the word on the street is that Republicans have their alternative plan they said they want to do. The price tag here for Joe Biden is out of control. He says he wants to do it in two different ways and in two different packages, and it could be upwards of four trillion dollars when you slice and divide them up.

But about two trillion for the first one. What it honestly is is a move to try to unwind what the Republicans did with their tax reform that was passed in 2017. What this bill would do is hike the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. And what that would do is make us the highest-taxed nation within the OECD.

The developed countries put our tax rate to 32.34 percent and that’s going to cause people to lose jobs. And you know, what’s sad is it the bottom 20 percent of earners the poorest among us are going to see a 1.5 percent drop in their after-tax income in the long run according to the Tax Foundation if this bill is passed. So it really doesn’t have hardly anything to do with infrastructure, it really is just a manifestation of a liberal wish list.

Leahy: Last question for Kerry Sheffield, a senior fellow with Independent Women’s Forum. When are you coming to Nashville so we can have you here in studio with us?

Sheffield: Oh, I would love that.

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.
Photo “Carrie Sheffield” by Patrick Ryan. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. Mark White Discusses Critical Race Theory Federal Grants in Tennessee for Public Schools and Why Division in Soceity Does Not Make Things Equal

Rep. Mark White Discusses Critical Race Theory Federal Grants in Tennessee for Public Schools and Why Division in Soceity Does Not Make Things Equal

 

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 Tennessee State Rep. Mark White to the newsmakers line to discuss the implementation of critical race theory in K-12 schools encouraged by grants given to the Tennessee Department of Education by the Biden administration.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newspaper line by our good friend state Representative Mark White from Memphis. Good morning, Representative White.

White: Good morning, Michael. How are you today?

Leahy: Are you up here in Nashville closing out the session?

White: Yes, we’re up here in Nashville. We probably got about two more three and a half, two and a half more weeks ago it looks like.

Leahy: Well, it’s been a busy session before we get to a summary of the session I want to follow up on a conversation I had earlier today with State Senator Jack Johnson. It’s relevant, of course, because you are the chairman of the House Education Administration Committee and a former teacher. There’s a story that we have at The Tennessee Star and I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but let me just read it to you. The proposed Education Department rule would prioritize funding critical race theory grant applications. The Biden administration is wasting no time promoting highly controversial critical race theory, anti-racism concepts into K-12 curriculums nationwide.

They’ve got a proposed rule that would prioritize funding grants to support this kind of curriculum. The proposed rule sites anti-racism Professor Ibram Kendi and The New York Times’s 1619 Project as positive examples of civic education. As the chairman of the Education Administration Committee, when you hear the Biden administration is proposing such grants, what is your reaction?

White: Well, as an opponent of critical race theory I’m a big student of history. One of my majors in college was history. And critical race theory I think this flies in the face of a lot of history. I think it’s divisive in so many things. I’m not supportive. And so we’re looking at ways in Tennessee where we can make this known amongst all 147 districts. And looking at legislation a lot of times is tough when things come down to the federal government, but it’s a concern to Tennesseeans. And we will oppose this at every measure we can.

Leahy: So it’s interesting because we talked about this before the odd spot that state legislatures are being forced into by the 10 percent of K-12 public school funding that comes from the Department of Education nationally at the federal level. They seem to be wanting to force all of these things on state governments. And it seems to me they are usurping the authority of the state legislature in that regard.

White: Well, they are. And, of course, that’s the time we live in right now that we’ve got to deal with a lot of these issues. What we’ve come to in so much in our current society today is that we want to divide, thinking that makes equal and it doesn’t. When you try to redefine history and the hard work that all people of all backgrounds and nationalities have made to make this country great I think that’s divisive. And I heard a story the other day where a second-grader who was exposed to this, and one of our districts came home as the mother am I racist? Doing that to a second grader I just think it’s bad for society, it’s bad for us, school-age children, and especially our younger children.

Leahy: So here’s what’s troubling to me. Representative White, I think that the vast majority of the Tennessee General Assembly does not want this taught in K-12 public schools. Yet, as you just pointed out, I hear anecdotally what you heard that many K-12 and second graders are being exposed to critical race theory right now in public schools. Why is it that public schools are apparently now in Tennessee able to do this? And what kind of legislation is the Tennessee General Assembly contemplating to stop it?

White: Well, that’s why we’re looking at it that way. We already passed legislation that we have Tennessee standards. We need to stay to those Tennessee standards. We have a Textbook Commission that we put in place that works to guard against that. And then we also have a piece of legislation that we’ve gotten a lot of pushback on supplemental materials that we never defined.

You can bring supplemental materials to teach to the standards, but that could be anything. And so we understand why teachers want the flexibility of supplemental materials. But then we have issues like this that we have to deal with. So we’re looking at legislation on how do we control what supplemental materials the teacher brings in. And I know that aggravates a lot of teachers and districts when I say that, but that’s why we are where we are because of a tremendous push from the federal government and other areas where we allow things like this to come into our system.

Leahy: As I read this, this is a rule for grants, and they’re asking for public comment. There will be a lot of public comment opposing it. They will pay no attention to it at the Department of Education and they will start exercising or delivering these grants to K-12 public schools. What is to prohibit any public school in Tennessee from applying for one of these critical race theory grants from the Department of Education and taking the money and implementing it in his curriculum?

White: Well, I think that we as a state have control of a lot of money that our districts get also. And so we can also, by the same token, they won’t take federal money for such things. And we can withhold state money. We can play that game both ways. It’s just sad that we’re at a time in our society where we’ve become so divisive and teaching this basically into our K through third K through six, even K through 12 is in my opinion divisive, and it does not help anything.

Leahy: Well, let me just generally suggest that this would be an area, even in the next few weeks of the session, that perhaps the Tennessee General Assembly should consider the very specific prohibition of school districts in Tennessee from taking these critical rate theory grants and using them in the classroom from the Department of Education. I think that would be something worth considering.

White: Absolutely. And to that point, we closed our education committees in the House out last week. But yesterday, the chairs, vice-chairs, and sub-chairs of the committees and education, there are seven of us, we met to talk about what we need to accomplish this summer and fall while we’re out of session before January of 2022 when we go back in. What are the issues? And this is one of the issues we discussed to put together as we have to legislation dealing with these issues.

Leahy: Well, that’s interesting. So what you’re saying is there may be a possibly not this session, but next session for some more comprehensive legislation to address that. Is that correct?

White: Absolutely. When we’re in session, January through first May this year, we have the issues, and we’ve passed everything we can pass constitutionally while we’re in session. Education committees are closed as of now, but we’re still a lot open for business. We’re in a two-year session, and we will put things in place as needed.

Leahy: What would you say have been the big accomplishments of the Tennessee General Assembly this session so far?

White: Some of the biggest things we did were one reason I was able to get our committees closed as of last week is a special session. What we dealt with the main issues facing education because of the disruption we’ve had for a year and in some ways, continue to have a disruption in education due to the virus is making sure that this summer we put in place summer tutoring programs and summer bridge programs to get our children back to the classroom to catch up and make sure they’re ready to go in August 2021 as we start the school year.

We are very focused on making sure that all our schools are back in person. The virtual has gone on long enough. I’ve talked to too many children, and I even talked to a college student a day. The virtual has its place when you have to use it, but it is not a replacement for a child being back in the classroom with a qualified teacher.

Leahy: I think everybody would agree with that State Representative Mark White.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Security Expert Bill Gertz Weighs in on Leaving Afghanistan, Department of Defense, and the Woke Military

National Security Expert Bill Gertz Weighs in on Leaving Afghanistan, Department of Defense, and the Woke Military

 

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 author and The Washington Times correspondent on national security Bill Gertz to the newsmakers line to discuss Biden’s recent decision to leave Afghanistan, the U.S military, and the continued threat of China.

Leahy: We are joined on a newsmaker line, our good friend, Bill Gertz the well-known Washington columnist, an expert on National security, and an expert on China. Good morning, Bill.

Gertz: Hi. Good to be on the show.

Leahy: Well, we’re three to four months into the Biden administration. How is the Biden administration doing in terms of foreign policy?

Gertz: Well, it’s still a work in progress. They’re kind of getting their people in positions. They’ve got Tony Blinken the Secretary of State is kind of leading the foreign policy effort there Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon. I think it’s they’re battling now. The agenda is not so much between Democrats and Republicans, but between Liberal Democrats and radical Democrats in terms of policy fights.

The bright spot is that the China threat, which, again, is my big issue with things that I’ve written books about and in The Washington Times about is that the Trump administration pretty well boxed in the new Biden administration on a lot of China issues. So they’re really doing pretty much a lot of the things that the Trump administration was doing. Take Taiwan, for example.

Right now, we’ve got a real threat. The Chinese are stepping up tensions with Taiwan. They appear to be testing the Biden administration. And then on the other side of the world, the Russians are also testing the Biden administration by saber-rattling against Ukraine. So it’s going to be an interesting few weeks going forward to see how those two hot spots play out.

Leahy: The big news foreign policy-wise yesterday was President Biden’s announcement that the United States will be withdrawing entirely from Afghanistan. We’ve been there almost 20 years now, I guess 18 years. It’s not seemed to of made much progress. But is this a wise move? Will it create a power void in that area?

Gertz: Well, I think this is going to pit the political leadership and the Biden administration against the military. The military’s view is that we’re not done. We can’t leave now because the threat posed by the Taliban remains. I think it’s the right choice. I mean, if you’re not winning, you’re losing and they’ve been losing there. We don’t have a department of nation-building in the U.S government.

And the military, their job is to fight and win wars. You’ve got a low-level insurgency now. The Taliban controls quite a bit of territory in Afghanistan. So timing the departure to September 11th, though it may not be a good idea because it’s going to give the enemy a chance to just delay things and really step up its activities.

It’s not looking good for Afghanistan I can tell you that. The government there, I think it’s got problems with corruption and problems with governance. Afghanistan is not really a nation. It’s a bunch of tribes that are often fighting. And now you’ve got the Taliban to deal with. It’s a terrorist organization.

Leahy: What about the symbolism of selecting September 11th as a day to leave? That struck me as an odd choice by the Biden administration.

Gertz: Yes. I don’t know where that came from, but again, certainly, 9/11 was one of the reasons we went in there because Al Qaeda had managed to operate from redoubts within Afghanistan. There are still terrorist groups there. ISIS is there and Al Qaeda’s there. But according to the latest intelligence assessment that was just released this week by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the terrorist threat is there, but it’s been degraded significantly by years of U.S military activities. A lot of our special operations people have been doing excellent work and really making the terrorist threat diminished.

Leahy: Is the Biden administration’s decision to leave Afghanistan, is that any different than what President Trump would have done had he been reelected?

Gert: Yeah. President Trump had tried to do that and kind of ran into opposition from the military leadership. The military’s view on it is basically no military leader wants to be the last one to say, hey, we didn’t win. And we’ve spent a lot of treasure and lives trying to solve this problem of Afghanistan. I think pretty much Trump definitely was trying to get out and the military push back. I think it was General Mattis when he was the Secretary of Defense. He quit in protest over the decision to pull out of Syria, where we have special ops people working there.

Leahy: In retrospect, was that war ever winnable?

Gertz: Well, I guess it was if there was a way to establish a stable Afghan government. And again, we spent trillions of dollars trying to do that. And yet it’s just a really difficult problem. Nation-building is not easy to do.

Leahy: Absolutely. Let me ask you this question about the difference between state and defense now. So we had Mike Pompeo, very powerful. I thought he was very much aligned with President Trump’s policies. And now we have this fellow who’s last name is Blinken. Tony Blinken. So he doesn’t seem to be a very powerful figure. He seems to be kind of a return to, I don’t know Jimmy Carter type foreign policy. Am I giving the guy a short trip there? Is there more to him than that?

Gertz: I don’t really know him, but I do know his background. He’s basically a Senate staffer, so he doesn’t bring a lot of vision and a lot of individual thought and strategy to the position. As you mentioned, I think Mike Pompeo is one of the best Secretaries of State that the U.S has had, especially when it comes to China.

He did groundbreaking work in really reorienting the entire U.S government position on dealing with the threat from China. Tony Blinken has inherited that and hasn’t really moved to change it. Again he’s adopting a lot of the Liberal left policies and climate change and personnel diversity. I don’t know how that’s going to affect American foreign policy.

It’s kind of one of those political issues, but so far, he has done pretty well on the China threat. And one thing I would give him credit for was he did not back down from the legal designation by the State Department of genocide by China of the ethnic Uhygers in the Western part of China. And I think I’d give him credit for that.

Leahy: I’m trying to figure out what on earth is going on at the top levels of the Department of Defense. The way it’s operating seems to me to be so woke, so progressive, so interested in equity and diversity and so disinterested in winning wars. This is just my view. What’s the story with Lloyd Austin, the new Secretary of Defense?

Gertz: Yeah, he’s basically following the Biden plan which is the new issue that the Pentagon is doing. They did what they call a stand down on extremism in the military. This is really a red herring issue. There’s not a lot of extremists. There may be a very small percentage of people, but it’s not a big problem and yet they’ve tried to make it a huge problem.

And they forced every military and defense component in the Defense Department to do a so-called stand down on extremism which is ill-defined. They haven’t defined it. And it looks to a lot of critics, I included, that this is some kind of a political purge to try and politicize the military, which has traditionally been a very conservative institution.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sr. Advisor to Governor Lee John DeBerry Talks Top Agenda Items and Establishing a Rapport with Washington D.C.

Sr. Advisor to Governor Lee John DeBerry Talks Top Agenda Items and Establishing a Rapport with Washington D.C.

 

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 newly appointed sr. advisor to Governor Bill Lee and former Tennessee State Democratic Representative John DeBerry to the newsmakers line to discuss his pastorship, cabinet role, and agenda moving forward for the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend, former state Representative John DeBerry who is currently serving as a senior adviser to Governor Bill Lee. Good morning Mr. DeBerry!

DeBerry: Good morning, sir. How are you doing?

Leahy: I am great. Hey, I have a question for you. You are still a preacher at Coleman Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis is that correct?

DeBerry: Yes, sir. Every Sunday.

Leahy: I’ve got to come down and listen to your sermon sometime. Our family’s Church of Christ. I converted to it. My wife was a Church of Christ, and I saw the light and converted before we got married. But how big is your congregation down there?

DeBerry: Well, we are a small congregation. We are usually somewhere between 225. But now, since COVID we have maybe about 150 who are in the building and then many others who are still online.

Leahy: Are you seeing the beginning of an uptick in in-person attendance on Sunday services?

DeBerry: Oh, yeah. It gets better a little bit each Sunday. We have a building that’s large enough to separate everybody and folks feel comfortable. And I think that there has been fatigue over COVID for the last year. And I think the people are ready to get back in person and to be around each other again. And I’m looking forward to becoming more and more increased each week.

Leahy: What time are your services down there?

DeBerry: Our services begin at nine o’clock.

Leahy: Okay. I’m going to come down in the next couple of months. I’m going to come down and listen to your sermon someday because I need help. (Laughs)

DeBerry: I would love to have you and you can say something to the congregation while you’re there.

Leahy: I’ll just say hello and the preacher is a great guy. (DeBerry chuckles) That’s what I’ll say. So you have served in the State House from 1995 until just this recent election. And you are now a senior adviser to Governor Bill. Tell us what that’s like.

DeBerry: Well, it’s very different when you’re a legislator. Of course, you have a legislative agenda and you have your own staff and you have a district, and you have the concerns of that one particular district as well as others who call on you. And you’re kind of a lone ranger dealing with the problems that are brought to you by the folks of your district and your legislative agenda for that particular year.

Being an advisor and on the governor’s cabinet and staff, we are working with the governor’s agenda. The things the governor wants to accomplish. The bills he wants to get passed. The laws that he wants to either strengthen or having enacted. And you’re basically working to support the legislative agenda and to help take care of all the people of the state of Tennessee. And it’s very different, but it’s also very rewarding.

Leahy: Do you like this job as a senior advisor? And is it easier or harder than your job as a state representative?

DeBerry: Well, it’s very different. As I said, you are supporting the governor and working with the governor. So it’s different. I love the job in that it allows me to deal with a lot of different problems that maybe I didn’t think about as a legislator. Being a legislator was very rewarding. But I like this job because I like this governor, and I enjoy working with him.

Leahy: What are the big surprises that you found issues in your new job as a senior adviser to Governor Lee?

DeBerry: One of the things that I think is very surprising is how many issues that we have to deal with. And you have to deal with the federal government. And now that there’s a new administration there are different challenges as you deal with Washington, D.C. You have to deal with all the mayors in the various cities.

You have to deal with the superintendents of the various school districts. So the problem, as are many and they are diverse and they come from all over the state and all over the country because the state of Tennessee is a very popular state. We are very prosperous state, a very well run state. And so we reach out all over the country and all over the world. And so you just have a lot of different issues coming from so many different directions.

Leahy: Who’s easier to deal with? The Biden administration, the county mayors, or the county superintendents?

DeBerry: Well, I think the local people are always easier to deal with because they’re very specific in what they need. They’re very sincere about what they are asking the state to do. And usually most of the people of the state of Tennessee we are a very proud people. And folks that work hard. They volunteer, which is what our motto is.

And I think that when the people of the state, the mayors, the superintendents, and the county legislators when they ask for something, it’s because they really need it. And most of them are willing to work with the state government and work with the governor. The Washington agenda is totally different. And especially now with a different administration, it’s not the same place that it’s ever been. The country is is changing. The administration has changed. And I think that there are challenges in dealing with Washington right now.

Leahy: Can you give us an example of dealing with a Biden administration and any issue? Just pick any one that’s gone well, poorly, or could be improved.

DeBerry: Well, I think that right now education is a big issue. There’s a tremendous amount of money that’s coming from Washington as far as education is concerned. But we also have issues when you start looking at this, you have to look at the population of our school. We have more immigrants that are coming in. There are challenges with many of the immigrants that are coming in. You have undocumented minors who are coming in and that’s going to put a tremendous strain upon our school systems.

So I think that the education issue is one that is going to be challenging. But right now, with a new administration, you really can’t tell how they’re going to go on something. So it’s still a learning experience in dealing with the Biden administration as to how they’re going to conduct themselves on various issues now that they are there. They’re new so we are kind of standing by to see what happens on a lot of issues.

Leahy: So when you call somebody in the Biden administration at whatever level they are, do they return your calls? Are they nice or do they like you have to chase them?

DeBerry: Well, we have our COO, Brandon Gibson. We have Blake, who is the governor’s chief of staff. Lang Wiseman, who is the deputy governor, and the governor’s legal individual. They will contact Washington on a constant basis. And I think that right now because they are new because the people that they’re dealing with that had dealt with the Trump administration for four years there were relationships that had been built. There was trust that had been built.

There was comraderie. You knew who you were talking to. You had already dealt with many issues with these people. But now that there are new individuals in all of the various cabinet positions and the various secretary positions, I think that right now what’s happening is just basically building relationships and learning the rules of engagement from that particular administration right now.

Leahy: Now that’s spoken like a very kind person who’s giving the benefit of the doubt to the federal administration. (DeBerry chuckles) You’re laughing. You know what I’m talking about, aren’t you? (Laughter)

DeBerry: I know what you are talking about.

Leahy: Mr. DeBerry, what do you think is going to be the biggest issue that you’re going to be dealing with over the next several months?

DeBerry: I think that we’re going to have to deal with getting the state back in business and getting the state open. The governor is working every day to get the state back open, to get businesses open, to get people out, spending money, to get folks hired at jobs, to get the churches back open, and to get the schools back in person. These are the things that he wrestled with every day. We pray over it. We meet about it.

And I think until we get the state of Tennessee open for business, Nashville and Memphis and Knoxville and Johnson City and Jackson and all of these various places, until we can get people confident to come out of their homes to work in their businesses, we’ve got to get people minds away from waiting on a stimulus check to getting back in line and becoming gainfully employed. We’re having a hard time finding people who want to work right now.

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