Mayor Andy Ogles on Moving Past COVID with Trace Adkins and MuleFest

Mayor Andy Ogles on Moving Past COVID with Trace Adkins and MuleFest


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 Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio who detailed the upcoming performance by Trace Adkins at MuleFest and moving on from COVID.

Leahy: In studio, our very good friend, the mayor of that bastion of freedom, Maury County, Andy Ogles. This is my fault because it’s just so much fun talking to you but we got a little bit off track.

We are going to start at 6:05 talking about MuleFest, and we’ve talked about it on the edges. But now let’s really talk about exactly what’s going to be happening this Friday down at the square in Columbia. Tell us everything about MuleFest.

Ogles: MuleFest is a music festival taking place in Maury County this weekend. It’s hard to believe that it’s here. But Friday and Saturday, we’ve got three stages, a couple of dozen bands.

It starts at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, and we’ll run till about 10:30 Friday night. We have a couple of hundred vendors, food vendors, crafts. I mean, it’s going to be amazing. You’ll be able to get a wristband for those who want to partake of some of the artisan beers and brews that we have.

And you’ll be able to walk around from the various stages. And then Saturday morning, we have a parade at 11 o’clock. The stages fire back up at 10 a.m. in the morning and run until four o’clock in the afternoon.

And then in the evening, all of the restaurants and the breweries and such, they all have live music as well. On Saturday you’ll be able to come starting at 10 in the morning until about 10, 11 o’clock at night and hear live music.

And you’ll have a dozen different choices as to what you might want to listen to. And, of course, the main event is Trace Adkins. He’s performing Friday evening. It’ll be huge. I’m expecting a tremendous crowd.

And then Saturday, he’s the Grand Marshal in the parade. It’s a lot of fun and a huge event. The community is pumped and our small businesses. It’s been a tough year. And this is a way to just kind of spike the football, if you will, to say, hey, we’re moving past COVID.

We’re opening our economy. Keep in mind, Maury County never shut down, but we’re ready to come together as a community and celebrate. Memorial Day is about our veterans in particular it’s about those who have fallen in service to the country.

We’ll have some time there in the middle where we will have a service to honor those who have fallen serving this great country that we have.

Leahy: Trace Adkins is at what time?

Ogles: We’ll do the ceremony for our veterans around 7:55-8  o’clock. And then he’ll be right after right after that.

Leahy: And that’s just around sunset, right?

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: You got all the lights in the stages set up.

Ogles: Oh, yeah. It’s going to be amazing. And this is a full production. And when we first started talking about this and planning it. I was thinking maybe scale down an acoustic type of set, but they literally bring in a tractor-trailer that’s a stage. And then on either side of the stage, there’s these, like, 10 by 22 TVs.

Leahy: Really?

Ogles: Real monitors on either side.

Leahy: This is going to be something.

Ogles: This is big.

Leahy: So it seems to me, though, that this is the kind of stuff that people in the support people in the music industry have done for years and years and years are very good at it. They really haven’t been able to do it during COVID. But now I think in a way, this is a signal to the entire country live performances are back.

Ogles: When you look at some of the unintended consequences of the shutdowns and the closures, et cetera the entertainment industry has been decimated.

Leahy: Absolutely.

Ogles: Obviously, you have your big stars. They make a lot of money and have a lot of money. But you have all these layers of folks that put on these productions, from the person that rents the speakers to the guy that loads them into the back of the van, to the people that are working the concert, and everything in between.

All of that support staff, they’ve been out of work for a year. But you’re starting to see some of your more outspoken performers, like Trace and others, are getting back on the road. A lot of states have started to lift the restrictions.

They can kind of go out there, and you have now opportunities for them to perform in a stadium safely, et cetera, and put people back to work.

Leahy: And the key to all this, I think from a public health perspective, has been the widespread availability of vaccines.

Ogles: Oh, sure. Even Maury County, I refused to shut everything down. Last year, most of your county fairs, state fairs, were canceled. We had ours. That was during the summer peak. That was during September. It was an outdoor event.

There were no vaccines at the time, but with social distance, and we had hand sanitizer. And the Tennessee Department of Health said it was not a spread event. Now you had the CDC coming out and saying, oh, by the way, your chance of getting covet and an outdoor event is, like less than one percent.

And that’s basically if someone sneezes in your face. It’s one of those things that the data was there back in September when I made that decision. But the media got in the way of the truth. And the economic consequences are immeasurable.

Leahy: Absolutely. Well, here’s the thing, Andy. You use common sense and you look at the data. You are unusual for a political leader today because they all seem to be following the wind of whatever Dr. Fauci is saying at that moment in time.

Ogles: As a county mayor, I’m very active. I’m very accessible. I think I told this story before when we knew COVID was coming. It was jumped upon and then you have cases in Washington and New York, and it’s going to spread through the states.

And so you’re anticipating that first case in Tennessee or that first case in your community. And ultimately, when I made the decision to work with the Superintendent to close schools because ‘it was here.’ That evening, I went to the grocery store.

So up into that point, everything had been normal in Middle Tennessee and Maury County. So I held a press conference, and we announced that we were going to close schools and for the remainder of the year because, again, of the unknowns.

Everybody was terrified in March and April if you think back to the beginning of COVID. So that evening, I went to Kroger Walmart and all this, and it was sheer panic, literally had people just grabbing armfuls of cans and cereal, having no idea what they just picked up.

And we’re dropping it in buggies. I remember Walmart distinctly that I looked at the meat department. There were like three packages of liver on the far end. And that was it. That’s the only meat that Walmart had.

People were scared. But the data started coming in very quickly from Europe, out of Asia, not China, but out of Japan and South Korea. But the media doubled down on Fauci and they doubled down on fear, and they doubled down on just hyping this thing up.

And you hate to veer off into the conspiracy, but they had an intent to affect an election. And they did.

Leahy: Yeah, they sure did.

Ogles: Whether you believe it was stolen or not, that’s a conversation for another day. But there’s no denying that what the media did during COVID and they’re guilty, guilty as charged had an effect on the election.

Leahy: Yeah, no question about that. But now it’s May of 2021.

Ogles: And MuleFest!

Leahy: Not March 22.

Ogles: And it’s MuleFest.

Leahy: And so old Trace is ready to give an outstanding and energetic life performance Friday night, about eight o’clock.

Ogles: What’s great about Trace is he’s just a great American. And I’m not just saying that to promote the event, I’ve gotten to know him. And so even during some of this shutdown, and there weren’t a lot of venues to perform at, he was still going around to bases and performing for soldiers just because he loves our country, and he loves our troops.

So you may not be a country music fan or even a Trace fan, but if you want to come to support just someone who loves this country, believes in Liberty and freedom he’s the guy to get behind because his actions reflect what he believes and he supports our troops.

Leahy: Now, this about Trace, I did not realize this, but he’s actually done quite a bit of acting as well. He was in The Lincoln Lawyer, the Michael Connelly thriller in 2011.

Ogles: And then he has a TV show on Paramount or one of the cable networks. I think they’re looking at another season. So he’s getting some TV time.

Leahy: Very interesting. Plus, he can sing like the dickens.

Ogles: Well, he’s a great entertainer. And again, he’s a big dude. He’s a big personality. He’s got a big heart.

Leahy: He’s America! He’s American.

Ogles: He’s fun to be around. I’m so excited about the concert.

Leahy: I am, too, because Let’s get out of this COVID craziness. Let’s have some fun!

Ogles: I think for a lot of people, this is going to be one of those moments when they’re just a big sigh of relief.

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.











Misrule of Law Blog Creator Mark Pulliam on His Recent Article Addressing the Renewal of COVID Restrictions Post Vaccination

Misrule of Law Blog Creator Mark Pulliam on His Recent Article Addressing the Renewal of COVID Restrictions Post Vaccination


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 retired attorney and blog creator of Misrule of Law Mark Pulliam to the newsmakers line to discuss his recent piece regarding the outrageous constraints that are now wearing thin on American citizens and the continuation of after vaccination.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by a good friend, Mark Pulliam from East Tennessee. He is a California and now Texas refugee. I guess you could say. Texas California and ended up in Tennessee making good upward movement all the time. Mark Pulliam, thanks for joining us here on The Tennessee Star Report.

Pulliam: Good morning, Michael. I’m happy to be here.

Leahy: So you had an article that first appeared yesterday at Law and Liberty. Obedience Fatigue got a lot of attention Instapundit and Powerline. John Hinder Acker friends up in Minneapolis intended. Of course, the great constitutional law Professor at the University of Tennessee, Glenn Reynolds, are good friends there. And then Real Clear Policy also featured it.

I could not agree with you more. The headline on your commentary here is Obedience Fatigue. And the subtitle is Over a Year of CDC flip flops and credibility Straining Pronouncements leave a compliant public, skeptical. Vaccinated Americans yearn for normalcy. What caused you to write this?

Leahy: Well, we’ve all suffered through this last year of uncertainty with our public health officials literally terrorizing us with the specter of a deadly pandemic. And if we even go outside and breathe any fresh air we will drop dead instantly. And this from the very beginning seemed dubious, and a lot of people questioned it.

But we are an obedient people. We do what we’re told by and large and particularly when the public health authorities are united in their recommendations. And so everybody was wearing masks. Everybody complied with these social distancing and stay-at-home orders. And it literally wrecked our economy and inflicted incalculable damage. Schools were shut down. It was horrific. It was unprecedented.

But people went along with it because they trusted their government. And now, after a year, it’s become clear that that trust was completely misplaced and that even after the vaccine has been rolled out and half the public has been vaccinated, and a good portion of the remaining half was infected and didn’t even know it, and therefore had the antibodies and was immune from reinfection, they continue as if this didn’t happen.

And every time we make an advance they moved the goal posts. So now they’re still saying people should wear masks even vaccinated people should wear masks outdoors. They just came out with some summer camp guide.

Leahy: Yeah, it’s crazy.

Pulliam: It’s insane! And at some point, people have to say, Dr. Fauci, we are not listening to you anymore. This is bogus. And I think it’s almost an experiment on their part to see how far they can push the public and get them to go along with it.

Leahy: Yeah, I think you’re probably right in that regard. It looks like they’re trying to exercise their power to control the public by being outlandish. It appears that way to me. Dr. Fauci is really, to me, a power hungry megalomaniac. That’s what it looks like to me.

Pulliam: And he’s got the whole deep state and the swamp behind him. But the summer camp thing, can you imagine everybody that went to summer camp and the whole point was to be with a bunch of people and do activities that you’re not ordinarily doing. They’re saying that kids who are basically at no risk at all from the Coronavirus have to wear masks every minute there at camp except when they’re swimming and eating.

They have to maintain six foot social distance. They can’t mix with other campers. They can’t share items like games and books and so forth. That’s crazy. They are literally trying to destroy these basic experiences that generations of youths have enjoyed. Just like they try to destroy an entire year of public education and wipe out many small businesses without any scientific justification.

And so now that many people have been vaccinated and a lot of people had the antibodies already, I think people are beginning to realize this doesn’t make sense anymore, even if it originally makes sense. And I’m not convinced that any of it ever made sense.

Leahy: The mask thing. Now, this is from the very beginning. I’m talking over a year ago when the first emergency was declared. And the science behind the efficacy of wearing masks simply is not there. There’s no study that I’ve seen that wearing a mask or mandatory mask-wearing has had any effect on limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Are you familiar with any scientific studies that say when they compare mask-wearing versus non-mask wearing, where they can demonstrate in a significant way, statistically, that wearing a mask actually improves the situation in terms of Covid-19?

Pulliam: I’m not aware of any such data. And I think scientists are united that wearing masks outdoors is completely outlandish and has always been outlandish. The Wall Street Journal last week did an article about the Asian flu epidemic in 1957. Everybody talks about the Spanish flu back in 1918. But this Asian flu epidemic in 1957 is much closer in time.

And it was a pandemic of an airborne respiratory virus that affected the entire United States. But nobody wore masks. It was not declared a national emergency that if you were sick you stayed home until you got better. And we have become from 1957 to now a different nation. And we’re a nation that’s led around that accepts things uncritically and that surrenders their freedom. People being told for a year you cannot go to Church?

This is insane. In hindsight, we should look at this as a horrible experiment that went wrong and something that we can never allow to happen again in the United States.

Leahy: Let me play a little bit of Devil’s advocate on this with you, Mark. Perhaps you could respond to a bit of mystery. I think in the way people look at this, if you look at polling of the public about attitudes towards mask-wearing, and this has been consistent, I think, pretty much from the beginning, even though I am in a crowd that says there is zero zip, not a shred of scientific evidence to show that this wearing of masks has any impact limiting the spread of COVID-19 and whether it’s indoor or outdoor, this is just my view on it.

The public, when you do polling on it, about 60 percent favor regulations wearing masks. Here’s my theory on that. I think it’s just simply because it’s a visible action, right? I don’t know what to do, but I can wear a mask. And they tell me it has a good impact on limiting the spread, even though it’s not backed by science.

I think that’s what the Democrats are doing. They understand that the public perceives that it has a positive effect, and that’s why they keep supporting it, even though the science doesn’t back it. What’s your thought on that?

Pulliam: Well, I agree with that. I think the nation has become deeply polarized, and during the Trump administration became more polarized than ever. And so the nation kind of divided into two camps. The camp that is going to treat COVID almost like wearing a mask was political resistance. If the President discounts it, then we have to treat it as if it’s even more important.

And then also, the thing that’s happened between now and 1957 is that we have this concept of virtue signaling. People want to show that I’m sanctimonious I follow the rules of it’s almost become like a religion, like Catholics wearing ashes on their forehead. It’s a symbol of fealty to the big state.

So you put all these things together, the natural obedience that we have as part of our patriotism. You’ve got this polarization that the people doing it as a political symbol, the virtue signaling. And it’s sort of taken on a life of its own. And also, I think these Karens who want to scold people, that’s something that we didn’t use to have.

Leahy: Karen’s are all over the place.

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







Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and Author of Unschooled Kerry McDonald Talks About the Rise of Homeschooling and Debunks Myths

Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and Author of Unschooled Kerry McDonald Talks About the Rise of Homeschooling and Debunks Myths


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 author and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute Kerry McDonald to the newsmakers line to discuss her book Unschooled: Raising, Curious, Well Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom showing an increase in its popularity post-pandemic.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by Kerry McDonald, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising, Curious, Well Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report, Kerry.

McDonald: Oh, it’s great to be with you this morning, Michael. Thanks.

Leahy: We have a couple of things in common. You are raising your children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Is that right?

McDonald: That’s right.

Leahy: I know it well went there, went to Harvard as an undergraduate. What part of Cambridge do you live in?

McDonald: We do live right in between Harvard and MIT. And I went to graduate school in education policy at Harvard.

Leahy: Ah ha! I know it well, I know that area very well. It’s warming up a little bit now. The winters get pretty cold there, don’t they?

McDonald: They do. But our daffodils are sprouted. And so it’s starting to feel like spring a bit.

Leahy: I’m also a big fan of the Foundation for Economic Education that was founded back in 1947 by Leonard Read.

McDonald: 1946. Yes, our 76 year anniversary this year.

Leahy: The author of I, Pencil a great 3,000-word essay on how free markets work was Leonard Read. In a tribute to him in 2012, I wrote a little ebook for Harper Collins Broadside Books imprint called I, Light Bulb: A Deathrow Testimonial for the Incandescent Light Bulb.

McDonald: (Chuckles) Yeah, iPencil is the classic essay on spontaneous order and the ways in which free markets help people who’ve never met, who will never meet, who may not speak the same language or share the same values, to come together in mutual cooperation to create the things we want and need.

Leahy: What prompted you to write Unschooled: Raising, Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom?

McDonald: So the book came out in 2019, published by Chicago Review Press. And it was really a way of spotlighting the modern homeschooling movement since its rise in the late 1960s early 1970s starting from the liberal left and the kind of hippie commune of families deciding not to send their kids to school. And then growing throughout the 1980s, particularly with a conservative right and the religious right and then looking at where homeschooling is now with such diversity and such is much more of a mainstream acceptance.  And of course, that was 2019.

And then 2020 when all of a sudden schools were shut down as part of the pandemic response, the book sales jumped and more families were interested in knowing how to manage to homeschool and what this would be like. And sure enough, the Census Bureau just coming out a couple of weeks ago with data now showing that the rate of independent homeschooling parents who have unenrolled their children from school for homeschooling has tripled from about three and a half percent before the pandemic, based on federal data to now over 11 percent. So we’re talking over five and a half million students are now being independently homeschooled in the U.S.

Leahy: Do you think that will be a permanent post-pandemic trend?

McDonald: I think we’ll definitely stay elevated whether we stay at the 11 percent mark or not or slip a little bit, I think, is debatable. But I think we will definitely be closer to 10 percent, then closer to three percent because so many parents have realized a few things. One, when schools shut down last bring many families realized what exactly their kids were learning.

They had this close-up view through Zoom school of the curriculum that their kids were being exposed to, maybe what they weren’t learning and what sort of ideological bent they might be seeing in the curriculum. And I think a lot of parents said we can do things better. A lot of parents were thinking about homeschooling for quite some time, but lack that catalyst to make it happen. And then the school shut down provided that.

And then I think the second thing is now, over the course of this academic year, as families have been frustrated with school reopening plans or find remote schooling to be a disaster for their kids, they’ve settled into a sort of a rhythm with homeschooling and realizing that they can live and learn alongside their children with support from so many online resources, as well as community resources to help facilitate their child’s education.

Leahy: I see that Professor Peter Gray of Boston College wrote the forward to your book. We know of him through Lenore Skenazy, the author of Free Range Kids. Sounds like you’ve got a group of sort of intellectuals who support liberty for children and liberty for parents through homeschooling.

McDonald: That’s right. So both Peter Gray and Lenore Skenazy are on the board of Let Grow, which is an organization that really focuses on providing children with more freedom and opportunities for play, things that we sort of took for granted when we were kids because we had so much more able to kind of go out in our neighborhoods and explore without parents always hovering.

And so they’re trying to bring that back in meaningful ways. And then certainly Peter also has his passion. He wrote a book, Free to Learn. So he has a passion for encouraging self-directed education and expanding opportunities for children to learn outside of a conventional classroom.

Leahy: So for our listeners who are right now, considering this, perhaps on the edge of removing their children from K-12 public schools, what would be your best advice for them?

McDonald: I think the first thing is just to realize how many online learning resources are available. So when the pools first shut down last spring, I posted, I’m also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and I posted on the Cato Institute website a whole list of free online learning resources that parents could take advantage of. There are also many low-cost resources as well. You look at curriculum platforms such as Khan Academy, which is the leader, and free online learning videos for kids used in a lot of classrooms across the country, particularly for their math education resources.

And that’s entirely free to parents, and they’ve really ramped up their resources during the pandemic response to provide lesson plans and all kinds of tips and techniques for families to help them to guide their children’s education. So that would be one thing. There are other resources like, which is a low-cost online Zoom learning experience. But it provides customized learning videos and learning topics for kids of all ages, really high-quality stuff there.

So I think that there are just tremendous opportunities for parents to take advantage of these resources and realize that they don’t have to be the ones sitting at home kind of the stereotypical vision of homeschooling families of sitting around the kitchen table with their textbooks all day and going through the process of replicating school at home. And instead of that they really can connect their kids to all kinds of different resources that are available to them.

Leahy: How is it working out with your own kids?

McDonald: So I have four children who have never been schooled. And I will say when the school shut down last spring, I did have a lot of people say, well, things must be the same for you. You must not have experienced any kind of disruption. And nothing could be further from the truth. I often say that our kids spend more time outside of our home than inside. So when we were, like everyone else, forced to be confined into our own homes and disconnected from our larger communities, it was really a challenge, and it continues to be here.

Our library is still closed. Museums are just starting to reopen. A lot of classes and programming for home school kids is still not happening, similar to the lack of schooling resources for other kids. So it has been a challenge. But that’s where I think it’s really remarkable that the impression that the public has for homeschooling has actually become more favorable during school shutdowns.

EdChoice, for example, last April came out with one of the first surveys soon after school closures, finding that more than half of parents said that they had a more favorable view of homeschooling since the pandemic shutdowns. And that’s only increased every month since they’ve done that survey. So even as recently as February, now it’s up to 63 percent of parents say they have a more favorable view of homeschooling than they did prior to the pandemic.

And I say, gosh, if you think this is good homeschooling when still so many things are inaccessible to you, just wait till the real thing when you can really be immersed in those people, places, and things around you.

Leahy: Now in terms of your own life, are you the one responsible in your family for organizing the four kids and teaching them and then doing all your work with Foundation for Economic Education? How do you manage all that?

McDonald: No. My husband and I both work, and we both share the responsibilities of working and guiding our children’s education and connecting them to all kinds of mentors and online learning resources. And when we’re able to, resources in our communities and class programming and so forth. So it’s really a joint effort. And I think again, that’s where the pandemic response has been able to maybe open up homeschooling to more families.

As telecommuting and working from home has become more acceptable, the Brookings Institution came out with a report last summer saying that they expect teleworking will continue long after the pandemic response ends. So I think that as parents have more flexibility in their work schedule, they want to grant that same flexibility to their kids with regard to their education.

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.





Craig Huey Reflects on a Recent Trip to California Where Fear and Oppression Are in the Air

Craig Huey Reflects on a Recent Trip to California Where Fear and Oppression Are in the Air


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 the creator of the Huey Report and direct mail expert, Craig Huey, in-studio to discuss what he saw in California on a recent trip citing limited amounts of liberty and freedom and an environment of fear.

Leahy: We welcome to our studios our good friend, a California refugee, a smart man who’s come to Nashville, Tennessee. Has a business in Nashville and lives in Williamson County now, Craig Huey. Good morning, Craig.

Huey: Michael, it’s great to be with you.

Leahy: Did we send you off on a reconnaissance mission back to your home state of California recently?

Huey: Yeah. I snuck back into California, and I got to tell you, it is pretty oppressive.

Leahy: It’s gotten worse in the years since you left.

Huey: Oh, my gosh. Over 12 months, I officially left in June. I bought a place out here back in March of last year. And so I’ve been back and forth. And the devastation is unbelievable. So back in California, I was there just when they started opening up the restaurants after 12 months.

Leahy: You went back to Los Angeles or Orange County.

Huey: The Los Angeles area in San Bernadino area. That area.

Leahy: Did they require that you show an ID before you got on the plane?

Huey: They did require it. How about that?

Leahy: Was it Delta or some other airline?

Huey: This one was Delta.

Leahy: So let me just be clear.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: Delta Airlines, which is a virtue-signaling opposition to the Georgia law election law that requires an ID to get an absentee ballot.

Huey: That’s right.

Leahy: The same people that cheered on Major League Baseball, moving the All-Star game from 50 percent Black Atlanta.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: To 10 percent Black Denver, where they have the same election laws.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: This company, Delta Airlines, would not allow you to get on the plane unless you show them your ID.

Huey: Michael, the hypocrisy is so clear and so damning. But you know what? The hypocrisy extends throughout California. You take a look here in Tennessee. I see a booming economy. I see people in restaurants. I see people in churches. I see people going about their lives. I see more and more people being free from the fear that has happened over the last 12 months. And in California, the fear is real.

Leahy: So let’s track your journey. So you show your ID.

Huey: Yes.

Leahy: You get on Delta Airlines. They don’t allow you to get on unless you show that ID.

Huey: That’s right.

Leahy: You wear your mask the whole time.

Huey: Oh, I have to.

Leahy: Got to wear the mask. You land in California, at LAX, probably.

Huey: LAX.

Leahy: Los Angeles International Airport. You get out. Describe what you see after you land.

Huey: I get out. And as soon as I walk through the airport, it’s so much different than the Nashville airport. You feel a feeling of fear and oppression just on the people themselves. In Nashville, I can kind of have the mask down and not have it fully on. In LA people will turn you in.

Leahy: They’ll turn you in? Where’s that? Were there people out there looking for Craig Huey to see if he wasn’t wearing that mask ready to turn you in?

Huey: There were people looking to see and make sure they had it over their noses. And so I get into the car and the car is taking me to my place there.

Leahy: Okay. You’ve got a driver.

Huey: I have a driver. Super nice guy. And let me tell you what this driver goes. I say, in Tennessee, I go to the market and we go to a store and people aren’t really wearing masks. People are at concerts. People are doing different things. But out here, they’re not. And he goes, I can’t believe that. He had no clue that people weren’t living in fear and in a lockdown-type society.

He had not been to a restaurant in 12 months. He doesn’t go outside his home without a mask. And even if he’s walking the street alone, even if he’s in the car alone, he’s got the mask on in fear. Because, first of all, Dr. Fauci told him and President Biden told him to do so. And second, he doesn’t want to have the neighbors turn him in.

Leahy: He doesn’t want to have the neighbors turn him in.

Huey: That’s right.

Leahy: Another good reason to leave California. Your neighbors are crazy.

Huey: Crazy. Well, I went down to the place called Manhattan Beach. Absolutely beautiful.

Leahy: It’s in Southern Los Angeles County, almost into Orange County, right on the beach.

Huey: That’s where I grew up. In that area. I was surfing in that ocean throughout junior high.

Leahy: And by the way, just for our listeners, Craig Huey is the ultimate California kid. Craig Huey was a surfer boy.

Huey: Love it.

Leahy: When the Beach Boys got started, you were part of that crowd.

Huey: I was part of that crowd. That was my music. So I go down to Manhattan Beach and I’m not wearing a mask. And somebody on what’s called the Strand which is a walkway along the beach comes up to me, says, you can’t do this. You don’t have a mask on. I said, what are you talking about? They’re going to give you a ticket.

They’re giving thousands of tickets to people who don’t have the mask on or properly. $500 tickets. They have an army of people out there making sure everybody’s regulated when they’re out in the fresh air when they’re maybe by themselves, and they may have nobody around them, they have to be obedient.

Leahy: And there’s no science that backs up any of that stuff. And by the way, so I looked at the latest COVID stats from free states like Texas. No masks. And Florida, no masks. You’re free to roam about the state. They have lower cases of COVID.

Huey: Yes. Lower cases, hospitalizations, and death.

Leahy: In those free states. Unlike California, New York, Michigan, all of the blue authoritarian control you’ve got to wear a mass state.

Huey: Yes. It’s the principle of freedom and personal responsibility versus collectivism statism where the government’s telling you what to do. And there’s not individual freedom being respected in a state like California or New York or Connecticut. But in Florida, in Texas, and here in Tennessee, we have liberty. We have choices to make. And our choices are something where you see it in unemployment. In Florida, the unemployment rate is around three percent. In California, it’s close to 10 percent.

In California, half the restaurants are closed forever. In Florida, I was down there with my wife in Florida at a conference, a full-on conference mind you, with people there in the conference. I was down there in Florida about a week ago, and the restaurants are expanding. They’re booming. They’re full. People are back. And that’s freedom and in action. That’s freedom working. And in California, it’s like, I don’t know if I can go to a restaurant. I’m afraid.

Leahy: It’s kind of crazy. By the way, this is new information for you, but it fits our theme here. So I was down in Tallahassee and about a week and a half ago and cooking up a little expansion of the Star News Network. As you know, I’m the majority owner of Star News Digital Media. We operate the Star News Network. We currently have six conservative, state-based news sites. The Tennessee Star, The Georgia Star News, The Virginia Star, The Ohio Star, The Michigan Star, and The Minnesota Sun. And on April 21 we are opening The Florida Capital Star. How about that?

Huey: Congratulations. That’s awesome.

Leahy: Then then wait for it. Wait for it. In May, we’re gonna open up The Texas Lone Star. Do you like that?

Huey: I love it.

Leahy: And what is our theme here? Our theme is liberty. Yes, we are featuring state, state-based pushback to federal usurpations. Right now ironically, Craig, if you look at our new sites, we get a lot of traffic from California.

Huey: I’m not surprised. Let me tell you, the exodus out of California is huge. Where I live, in my community, out in Williamson County I would say the neighbors are from California. I was at church. A car pulls up next to me and a family gets out. I look at the license plate. It’s like mine. (Leahy chuckles) It’s from California. They had just moved out just a couple of weeks ago. And we’re seeing Californians making a decision to leave family, friends, work, and places they were born to venture out in freedom and get away from the oppression of California.

Leahy: Famously, in 1876, a newspaper publisher and presidential candidate who did not succeed, Horus Greely famously said, Go West Young Man. I think now, go away from the West of California is the theme.

Listen to the 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