‘American Greatness’ Contributor Josiah Lippincott on Washington Post Columnist Max Boot’s Slanderous Attack

‘American Greatness’ Contributor Josiah Lippincott on Washington Post Columnist Max Boot’s Slanderous Attack

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 American Greatness contributor and Marine veteran Josiah Lippincott to the newsmaker line to talk about his latest piece, which received slanderous retaliation by Washington Post columnist Max Boot.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line, Josiah Lippincott, who you may not have heard of, but apparently The Washington Post has heard of. Welcome, Josiah to The Tennessee Star Report.

Lippincott: Hey, awesome. Thank you so much for having me on, Michael.

Leahy: So, Josiah, you are a Marine veteran. When did you start to serve and in what capacity did you serve?

Lippincott: Yeah, I served between 2016 and 2020. I was in the Marine Corps and I served in the artillery, specifically the rocket artillery with HIMARS. So I was a platoon commander and then did liaison work.

So I did a lot of reaching out to other units, deployed to Okinawa, and then traveled around the Pacific working with fires. Integration is what we called it.

Leahy: Well, J.C. Bowman, who’s in-studio with us here, is also a Marine veteran, and I think you probably have two words for him.

Bowman: Semper Fi. (Laughter)

Lippincott: Yes. Exactly right.

Leahy: So now you’re a graduate student at Hillsdale. What are you studying?

Lippincott: Yeah, so I’m interested in foreign policy and war, and that’s largely a byproduct of my time in the Marine Corps and what I saw while I was in, and some of the criticisms I have of the military establishment and wokeness.

But my interest extends to political philosophy in general. I think philosophy means a love of wisdom, and I think we need a lot more wisdom in this country.

There’s a lot of insanity. I thought it was important to take seriously the old books and to think clearly about new ideas.

Leahy: Last year, a major general, I think he was in the Army, Patrick Donahoe, posted a message encouraging soldiers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This is the same COVID-19 that Pfizer just admitted that, yes, we didn’t have any evidence that it’s going to stop transmission of COVID-19.

And to me, this policy is really more designed to limit the number of people actually in our armed forces. That’s my view, not yours. My view. And it’s all part of the wokeness of the Biden maladministration.

So you wrote in response to that, that, “The lockdowns, liberty restrictions, quarantines, and general disruption of service members’ lives is a way bigger killer than the virus.” Yes, I would agree with that.

But this major general engaged in an online back-and-forth with you, and he ended up really demeaning and insulting you and Hillsdale. He said, hey, Hillsdale, come get your boy.

Lippincott: Yes, General Donahoe and a lot of people are misstating my comments now because it’s in the news, and I’m sure we’re going to talk about that now, why the story is back in the news.

But basically, I pointed out that at the time, there had been 26 COVID deaths in the entire American military. Yet in one quarter of 2020, in the fourth quarter, the increase in suicides – not total suicides – the increase in suicides was 26 across the entire service.

And so what I pointed out was, okay, we have a massive increase in the Delta when it comes to suicidal ideation among service members.

And the most obvious reason is their lives have been upended by these crazed policies that are not backed up by any kind of common sense or scientific evidence. And the general’s response was petulant.

It was snarky, it was offensive and insulting, and it was demeaning to his own rank. But it was par for the course for a group of military officers on Twitter collectively known as Military Twitter.

And they’re extremely liberal, extremely woke, and very much pushing diversity, equity, inclusion, transgenderism feminism, and liberalism; basically acting as open partisan defenders of Joe Biden and the liberal regime.

And so I took issue with that. And so I ended up being one of the most prominent critics of this section of the internet, and that has ended up being a pretty newsworthy item over the last year or so.

Leahy: So this character, Max Boot, who fashions himself a military expert, I don’t believe he’s ever served in the military. I could be wrong about that, but he’s a columnist for The Washington Post, and he wrote a piece last week defending this major general and criticizing you. What’s your reaction to Max Boot?

Lippincott: Well, it was to savage him in my own column at American Greatness. And I pointed out, look, this guy is a noted drag queen show enthusiast, a defender of the Iraq war, a warmonger, and he’s also a Never Trumper. So those things, of course, all go together. Actually, those are far more related than I think a lot of people understand.

What Boot said was that I was a troll who was part of the far-right forces trying to subvert American democracy, which is absolutely ludicrous. What I’m trying to do is make sure we have a military that actually serves our interests, and someone like Max Boot is interested in having the American military serve the interests of literally everyone else in the world.

Someone like Max Boot thinks the most important thing the military does is fight wars in Asia or give money to the Ukrainians. And I think the most important thing our military should do is protect Americans and protect our rights and liberties. And this is a major point of departure between me and Military Twitter, and it’s worth noting, like, why is this story coming up now?

It’s that General Donahoe’s retirement was put on pause because of an army investigation into his activities on social media. He attacked Tucker Carlson. He engaged in improper fraternization with a junior officer, which means favoritism to a young woman within, I think, his chain of command. And the point that the Army made is they’re putting his retirement on pause.

I have no doubt that General Donahoe is going to end up collecting millions of dollars in money and his pension from the American military before all is said and done. But I think it’s damning to look at the ramifications of a career like that of Patrick Donahoe and that of a public columnist like Max Boot, people who are consistently wrong and have overseen failure after failure. So, yes, I guess I’m trying to subvert that kind of failure. But I’m not a troll. I’m a very serious, very serious critic of what I see as gross incompetence by people in power.

Leahy: So here’s the problem as I see it – and I did not serve in our military, but I certainly support all our armed forces. And I think we should have a strong military under the Biden maladministration.

I think we have a weak military and it is led by a bunch of propagandists who are promoting woke ideology. That’s the problem. And the vaccine mandate is pushing veterans or service members out. Our recruitment is down. How do we fix this?

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Max Boot” by U.S. Naval War College. CC BY 2.0.

Hillsdale College’s Assistant Vice Provost Kathleen O’Toole Discusses Barney Charter School Initiative Coming to Three Counties in Tennessee

Hillsdale College’s Assistant Vice Provost Kathleen O’Toole Discusses Barney Charter School Initiative Coming to Three Counties in Tennessee


Live from Music Row Friday 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 Assistant Vice Provost of Hillsdale College, Dr. Kathleen O’Toole, to the newsmaker line to talk about the Barney School Initiative that will be brining public charter schools to Tennessee’s Rutherford, Shelby, and Madison counties.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Dr. Kathleen O’Toole, the Assistant Vice Provost at Hillsdale College. Welcome, Dr. O’Toole.

O’Toole: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Leahy: We are delighted to have you here. Very good news. I saw in Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State Address on Monday that he proposed a partnership with Hillsdale College to bring public charter schools to Tennessee that focus on classical curriculum.

Tell us a little bit about what Hillsdale College has done with charter schools. I think it’s called the Barney School Initiative you’ve been doing for I think about a decade. Tell us what that is and then tell us a little bit about how you’re going to be working with folks here in Tennessee.

O’Toole: Absolutely. Here at Hillsdale College, we are a 175-year-old institution, and we’ve been working with K-12 schools for over 30 years.

For the last 10 years, we’ve been working with public charter schools to bring classical education, which is the education that used to be commonplace in this country, to children across the country.

Through the Barney Charter School Initiative, we assist local groups of citizens in establishing public charter schools. We help them build these schools from the ground up, and we provide them with a rigorous liberal arts classical curriculum and teacher training because, after all, success in school is not just guaranteed by a rich curriculum, but you need excellent teachers who really know what they’re talking about and really know how to be effective in the classroom.

Leahy: For clarification, the name Barney Charter Schools – that’s not named after the cartoon dinosaur character. It’s named after a family named Barney?

O’Toole: (Chuckles) Yes. The initiative was made possible by a man named Steve Barney, who made a major gift about a decade ago that makes all of our work possible. Everything that we provide to these schools is given to them for free.

Everything we do is made possible by friends of the college who want to see a revival in American classical education and improvement in public education in this country. And so these schools apply to work with us.

If we accept their application we give them classical curriculum, teacher training, and teacher observations. And they come and attend conferences here in Hillsdale. And all of that is available to the schools at no cost to the schools themselves.

Leahy: Right now, how many Barney Charter Schools are there around the country?

O’Toole: We are working with 50-plus private and charter schools across the country. Some of those schools we have helped found through the Barney Charter School Initiative and some of them are schools that have come to us saying we want a more excellent curriculum – can you advise us?

And so it’s a nationwide effort. It serves students in every type of neighborhood in this country. And it’s a really exciting thing to see.

Leahy: One of the things I love about your curriculum – I’m very familiar with Barney Charter Schools – is your focus on civics, American history, and the Constitution. The curriculum in that is first-rate. Tell us why that is so important in the Barney Charter Schools curriculum.

O’Toole: Absolutely. In classical education, we study the liberal arts and sciences. Our goal is to help students understand about human nature and the natural world. And our study of the liberal arts and sciences does those two things.

If we’re interested in human nature, which we as human beings all are, we’re asking ourselves, “who are we and what should we be doing with our lives?” How do we make choices that will give us the thing that all human beings want, which is happiness?

And to answer that question, we need to know about history. History gives us a lens into what human life has been like beyond our own time. And especially the rich and rigorous study of American history is important because we live in a country that is unique.

Our founding is unique. As the Federalist Papers say, it’s the product of reflection and choice, not accident and force. In other words, a group of smart people got together and thought about how a government should be structured and what the relationship between the government and the citizens ought to be. And that yielded the United States of America.

That means that if we want to understand ourselves, we can do it by understanding our founding first and foremost. And so we studied those things in Hillsdale-affiliated schools.

Students emerge from their K-12 education with a deep knowledge of American history, economics, American government, and also moral and political philosophy. All of these things help us understand how to be great citizens.

Leahy: Let’s talk about Tennessee. How many Barney Charter Schools are we likely to see over the next couple of years? And secondly, if somebody listening to this program says, “hey, I’d like to start a Barney Charter School where I live in Tennessee,” what should they do? Those are our two questions for you.

O’Toole: Yes, great. We’ve applied through an organization called American Classical Education for three charter schools in Tennessee. And those applications are with the local districts right now.

Leahy: Where are those charter schools?

O’Toole: It shows in three counties in Tennessee and we think that there’s a lot of possibility in the state.

Leahy: Which of those three counties do you recall?

O’Toole: We’re in Rutherford County. Let me look them up for you. And we’re encouraged by the governor’s excitement about it.

Leahy: Yes, he was very excited about it. I think that’s great. Rutherford County is in our listening audience. We’ve tracked a lot of reports about Rutherford County. The school board actually has turned down another charter school application there.

As you know, in Tennessee, and I don’t know what the school board is going to do with your application, but then if they turn it down, it goes to another higher education statewide group that would almost certainly approve it. When did you file that application with Rutherford County and what’s the status of it?

O’Toole: It’s just recently filed. Just in the last week. The applications are with Rutherford, Madison and Montgomery County.

Leahy: Ah-ha! Those are really great choices and I’ll tell you why. Rutherford County is a suburban county here in the Metro Nashville area. Montgomery County is also on the sort of the Northwestern suburban area. I think that you would have good chances there.

And Madison County is in the Jackson, Tennessee, area which has had, if you look at the three worst performing counties education-wide in Tennessee, they are Shelby County, Memphis, Davidson County, Nashville and Madison County, Jackson. So, I think you’ll have good luck in Madison. That’s my guess.

O’Toole: We’re really hoping for the best. We’re excited to introduce this model of education to the citizens of Tennessee, and we’re encouraged by the performance of our schools all across the country.

Leahy: As well you should be, Dr. Kathleen O’Toole, Assistant Vice Provost at Hillsdale College. I’m going to invite you to a little project. We’ve got a nonprofit here that does the National Constitution Bee every year. And we give away educational scholarships. We’d invite every Barney Charter School in the country to send kids there. This will be our 6th National Constitution Bee, with $10,000 to the winner in an educational scholarship. How about that?

O’Toole: Wonderful.

Leahy: And we know Hillsdale has big programming and content and curriculum on the Constitution.

O’Toole: Absolutely.

Leahy: Will you, Dr. O’Toole, will you be coming down to Nashville soon?

O’Toole: At some point, yes.

Leahy: Let me invite you to come into the studio. When are you coming here?

O’Toole: Well, no plans right now. I’m having a baby at the end of April.

Leahy: Take care of that first. (O’Toole chuckles) Thanks for joining us and good luck with your baby in April.

O’Toole: Thank you so much.

– – –

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 “Kathleen O’Toole” by Hillsdale College. 















Dr. Matthew Spalding of Hillsdale College Talks 1776 Commission Curriculum and New Resources for K12 Parents

Dr. Matthew Spalding of Hillsdale College Talks 1776 Commission Curriculum and New Resources for K12 Parents


Live from Music Row Monday 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 Dr. Matthew Spalding, Vice President of Hillsdale College and the Executive Director of the 1776 Commission to the newsmakers line to discuss the dismantling of the 1776 Commission by the Biden administration and new resources for parents of K through 12 students.

Leahy: We are joined now on the newsmaker line by Dr. Matthew Spalding. Kirby, Professor in Constitutional Government at Hillsdale College and Dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government. Welcome, Dr. Spalding.

Spalding: Great to be with you. Good morning.

Leahy: The Hillsdale 1776 curriculum has been released. Tell us about it and its relationship to the 1776 Commission formed by President Trump and then disbanded immediately upon inauguration by Joe Biden.

Spalding: Well, a quick succession of things. The 1776 Commission, which was formed by the President, I took a leave and was Executive Director of that and we put out in 1776 Report, which you pointed out was immediately acknowledged by executive order because the Biden administration wanted to go in the direction of equity and pursue its racial policies, including things like critical race theory or various versions of that in the federal government.

What they were getting rid of was a traditional approach to looking at the founding, looking at the Declaration, and the Constitution in ways that saw those as driving the narrative of American history. And that’s what they couldn’t abide by. We are in a debate between what seems to be two versions of American history.

They want to go in a completely political direction to pursue their current racial objectives and policy. The report called for new curriculums and Hillsdale, which has been working on teaching and doing teaching and curriculum for decades.

And the college for over a hundred, almost 200 years now has been working on a curriculum. It’s been released two months ago. The 1776 Curriculum and it’s already had 50,000 downloads in a very quick amount of time.

It’s about civics and history meant to fill this immediate void and eventually draw out a full curriculum for anybody who wants to use it.

It’s all free of charge and we’re putting it out there to have an alternative to the absolute absurd curriculum and things being put out by public schools, by critical race theory, and what is going on over the country.

Now there actually is a great alternative for homeschoolers, private schools, public schools, and anybody who wants to use it.

Leahy: Where can people go to download this curriculum? You can go to the main college website, Hillsdale.edu. There’s also a K through 12 website that has other materials for people who teach and have kids. K12.hillsdale.edu.

Any of those you can download, click and there’ll be easy ways to find it and print it off yourself. It’s whole health and pages, all the lessons, questions, and everything would need to teach these materials from K through 12.

Leahy: How many public school teachers have downloaded this and are using it in their classrooms?

Spalding: It’s hard to tell immediately when people are downloading it, but I think probably the people who are downloading and using it immediately are the ones we talked to the most.

Charter school teachers, private school teachers, and home schoolers. But I can tell you we have some evidence and suggestions for people calling and talking with us that there are public school teachers who are stuck in these schools.

They’re being used to transfer this critical race theory stuff. There are some good people still in some of those schools who are looking for alternatives, and they’ll look to this whether public school will adopt this formally or not.

That’s another question. But now there’s something else that you look to in order to offset what they’re trying to make them teach. And let me just reiterate where to go to download this fantastic curriculum. K12.hillsdale.edu.

Leahy: Dr. Spalding, we have this little event here. We call the National Constitution Bee based upon a book that I co-authored, A Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students. This will be our fifth year. We have some experience in interacting with public school teachers.

And I can tell you it’s not been encouraging in terms of their interest in having traditional American constitutional civic values taught. And it seems to me that this is a systemic problem.

State legislatures around the country have laws that say you should be teaching the Constitution. I’m not seeing it implemented at K12 public schools. Do I have this right? And if I do what can be done to turn it around beyond making this great curriculum from Hillsdale available?

Spalding: No, I think in general, you’re absolutely spot on that’s correct. And you actually alluded to a very important thing that’s the key to the solution here. The federal government under the Constitution and by federal law has no role in curriculum.

As matter of fact, by law, the Department of Education is prevented from getting involved in curriculum. It’s a state matter. States have all the power. State legislatures can give guidance to their departments.

They create the curriculum, they control the public schools, and that goes from the states all the way down to school boards. The most important thing to change the politics of what is going on right now, because I think the debate in curriculum and K through 12 is a cultural manifestation of our national debate is get involved in those things.

If you have the where with all to be involved in a state legislature or have ways to get involved in anything all the way down and especially in school boards, where the decisions made about adopting curriculum are crucially important.

And there states and local communities and school boards have a lot of authority. Don’t want to assume the settle government is taking us over and can fix it, or is the problem.

You can’t think about it. Get involved in those things. It’s going on all over the country. We need more of that because that’s what going to upset the apple cart.

And I think there in those debates, people who are concerned and want to see a more traditional curriculum have not only a foothold but in many ways a great advantage given the people there.

The most interested are the ones that have the children who care for them as opposed to the teachers who often don’t and are merely implementing these bad curriculums.

Leahy: It seems to me that the way to go, if you want to have this great curriculum in your school is to go directly to teachers, directly to the school board, and directly to administrators and present it to them. K12.hillsdale.edu, that’s the short term. The intermediate-term would be by your state legislature to accept and promote this. What are your thoughts on that?

Spalding: No, I think that’s right. The immediate is a school board debate. State legislatures. There are a lot of states. I’ve been very involved in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, other states here in the process that either have and now they’re implementing or they’re changing their city rules and looking ahead.

Departments of Education, that is where the real higher-level political battle is going on and they make those decisions. They can’t then be overridden by the federal government. The federal government has no role here. So that battle is the battle that needs to be won.

Leahy: Why do so many school administrators promote a left-wing, we hate America version of the country?

Spalding: I think the answer there gets into the long-term effect, which, unfortunately, and many people have not been focused on are the teachers’ unions and the effect through the academy of shaping teachers and the creation of curricula.

And then what’s going on in state legislatures. As long as the progressive elements of liberalism, either intellectually or politically or through unions control the process, they’ve been working on this for some time, I think this critical race, which is a bridge too far to say the very least, has revealed what has been going on.

And with COVID we saw our children getting this stuff first hand at home, and I think it’s really kind of pulled back the curtain. Now we see this debate for what it is and have our opening despite the fact that they’ve been working on these things for some time.

Listen to the second hour here:

– – –

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
















Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman Discusses His Recent Article in The Wall Street Journal on Gerrymandering

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman Discusses His Recent Article in The Wall Street Journal on Gerrymandering


Live from Music Row Friday 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 former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman to the newsmakers line to discuss the elements of his recent Wall Street Journal article addressing gerrymandering in the state.

Leahy: Steve Markman is now on the phone. He’s with Hillsdale College and he had an article about, now let’s see if I got this right. I’ve said gerrymandering, I think maybe technically it’s gerrymandering, but Steve, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Markman: But I think most people use gerrymandering, but I don’t think either way is any big problem.

Leahy: What is the correct pronunciation, Jerry or Gerry?

Markman: Well, I thought Gerry was the name of the great founder whom the term has been named, but I don’t know.

Leahy: Exactly. Either is acceptable. I think you’re right. I think the founder who found this was named Elbridge Gerry back in the 1800s. Didn’t he represent both New York and Massachusetts at different times?

Markman: Well, you may have more insight on that than I do. He certainly was engaged in Act of a founder, but I don’t know the history of his representation.

Leahy: So tell us about your article in The Wall Street Journal. Tell us where you’re from and why this topic is of such great interest to everyone today.

Markman: I’ve been a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court for more than 20 years. I retired at the end of last year because I was too old under our Constitution to continue to sit. But I’ve also taught at Hillsdale College, a small college in Southern Michigan.

Leahy: Let’s just stop for a moment about Hillsdale. A, we love Hillsdale. One of our reporters at The Tennessee Star, our ace reporter, Corinne Murdock is a graduate of Hills Dale College. And, of course, we’re good friends with John Miller, who runs the journalism program up at Hillsdale College. One of the best colleges in America.

Markman: Yes. I’m very proud to be associated with it. It really reflects the values that I I believe in. And I certainly know John. John is a great a great scholar. And, of course, he writes a great deal for a wide variety of publications around the country. I’m very pleased that you think so well of Hillsdale.

Leahy: I think everyone in our listing audience thinks well of Hillsdale. How could you not? It’s such a great institution. Tell me a little bit, 20 years on the Michigan Supreme Court, and then you bye the Constitution you had to leave because of age. Really? I didn’t know that was in the Michigan Constitution.

Markman: Yes, it certainly is. I don’t want to tell you what the age is, but nonetheless, I reached the limit, I’m afraid.

Leahy: How does that feel to constitutionally not be allowed to continue? I’m kind of in favor of the lifetime appointment thing for judges which we have in the federal judges and the Supreme Court justices.

Markman: Ironically, I’m not really hostile to the idea of an age limit. I think there are good, many people, and I like to think I’m one of them who could continue to serve the public well after that age.

But there are a growing number of people after a certain age who might slow down a little bit. Maybe they don’t realize that. Perhaps I don’t realize that I’ve slowed down to a certain extent, but I think it’s a balance. But our Constitution is very explicit that there is an age limit.

Leahy: I’m 66. So if I were to serve, which would never happen, I would feel that if at my age, I was limited in doing something, I would say, hey! I still got game! That’s what I’d feel like.

Markman: Oh for the days when I was 66. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: Now, that’s a great line. That is a great line. How did you become a Michigan Supreme Court Justice?

Markman: I was a chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, and I served them in the Justice Department during the, believe it or not, Reagan administration quite some time ago.

Leahy: That’s when we really had a Justice Department. Asterisk we’ll come back to that in a bit. Judge Markman, would you mind sticking through the break here? Because we want to get into the meat of this Wall Street Journal article, which was really terrific.

And we appreciate your getting up so early this morning to talk with our listing audience. Can you hang through the break?

Markman: Sure. Thanks for having me.

(Commercial break) 

Leahy: You had a great article at The Wall Street Journal last week and you were pushing back against the University of Michigan guide to gerrymandering. They set forward a very weird idea that you rejected in a very, basically direct and concise manner.

Tell us why they put a guide to gerrymandering together and why you pushed back and what’s going to happen?

Markman: Well, thanks for asking Michael. It was three years ago, the people of Michigan enacted a new constitutional amendment that removed responsibility for the redistricting process from the state legislature to a new citizen’s commission.

As I’m sure your listeners know, the redistricting process is the process every 10 years by which our congressional and state legislative districts and their boundaries are reconfigured. It’s an extraordinarily important process in terms of setting forth the building blocks for our system of Democratic and representative government.

Right now, the commission is engaged in deciding how its procedures are going to be established and how it’s going to operate. And the critical issue involves a debate between two fine educational institutions, but institutions with very different educational missions.

The University of Michigan and Hillsdale College, the latter being the considerably smaller of the two institutions. The University of Michigan is proposed what it calls a new theory of representation.

And indeed, it is. The theory has to do with the phrase communities of interest, which are to be the building blocks of the new redistricting process. The University of Michigan would define these building blocks, these communities of interest, basically on the foundation of interest groups, affinity groups in identity groups.

Whereas Hillsdale proposes instead that the commission continue to rely upon what has always been before understood as communities of interest. Namely, geographical communities, counties, cities, townships, and villages.

So that’s the debate that’s taking place right now. How do we understand the building blocks of the system of redistricting in Michigan? Do we understand it to be a means of giving priority to favored and preferred interest groups and identity groups?

Or do we understand it as it’s more traditionally been understood to mean actual communities, counties, cities, and so forth?

Leahy: Let me just give you a quick reaction to the University of Michigan proposal. I personally think it’s insane. And I’ll tell you why.

Markman: (Chuckles) I was saying that’s a very straightforward reaction. I appreciate it.

Leahy: Well, you know, the criticism we’ll use this pronunciation of gerrymandering, is instead of having districts that are basically the same shape and include defined municipalities that have a common economic trade zone, shall we say, they sometimes look like meandering snakes, and they’re designed by state legislatures to put all the Republicans in one district so that it’s a safe district for Republicans.

And then draw the state’s congressional and legislative district so that one party, the party power gets more districts and more representation. I’m telling you what. If the Michigan proposal, which is insane, as I’ve said, is implemented, they will go in and the map of every district will look like a crazy snake because they’ll go out and they’ll go in and they’ll pick this interest group.

And they’ll try to group all these interest groups together. It will violate the basic principle of organizing these districts sort of around economic communities of interests. Economic communities and areas that have special trade zones and communities that have a distinct personality. What are your thoughts on that? Do I have that right?

Markman: I think you put your finger on the pulse of the problem. When you have districts based as they have always hitherto have been based on geography it’s very easy to have regularly design districts, non-gerrymandered districts.

And this is, of course, one of the principal purposes of this reform the people voted for several years ago. When on the other hand, these communities of interest are not based upon geography.

They’re not based upon real communities. They’re based upon interest groups and so-called affinity groups, then you’re exactly right. You do have to snake around, and you do have to engage in a much more creative exercise in order to put together individuals who are not necessarily geographically close to each other.

You have to be very exotic in the kinds of irregular and squiggly districts that you inevitably put together. So there you’ve got one of the principal purposes of this reform undermined. You have the same thing undermined in terms of the people’s interest I believe in getting rid of an overly politicized process.

You just moved the politicization issue from Republicans versus Democrats to which of these interest groups are going to be favored and disfavored. It’s a zero-sum game as you know, when you benefit one group, you necessarily prejudice another group.

And this process is going to be an extremely politicized process, no less than the present process in Michigan. So, again, I think you’ve defeated another purpose of what the people thought they were getting at by this reform.

Leahy: I think it will be worse. I think it will be even more political. You’ll have all these special interest groups lobbying, hiring attorneys, and doing statistical analysis. You’re a judge, if they adopt this insane University of Michigan approach won’t there be court challenges to it?

Markman: Well, there may well be court challenges. I think the amendment is written insufficiently in broad terminology, overly broad terminology, in my view, for a constitutional provision such that the commission could probably adopt either the University of Michigan or the Hillsdale point of view.

It’s written in a very broad language. And, in fact, we haven’t even spoken about the interest of the people in ridding the system of partisanship by the identity focus of the U of M understanding.

We also run the risk that in the guise of racial, ethnic, and religious considerations which are explicitly set forth by the University of Michigan, we’re basically we’re going to have partisan considerations, although of a more camouflaged sort.

Leahy: Yes. To me, this codifies the Balkanization of America.

Markman: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re right about that. It is a Balkanization. And I don’t know why we would be introducing for the first time ever in the history of the state of Michigan, explicit consideration of these kinds of polarizing identity considerations.

This ought to be a unifying process. In my view, the people of Michigan, when they voted for this new constitutional amendment in 2018, didn’t mean for it to be a more unifying process. You’re exactly right, Michael Patrick.

Leahy: Justice Stephen Markman, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan, currently a Professor of constitutional law at Hillsdale College. Justice Markman, I’m going to suggest something for your consideration.

You may not know this, but for five years we have been hosting here in Tennessee, the National Constitution Bee. And it’s based upon a book that I co-authored. I’m not a judge. I don’t play one on the radio.

But it’s a book called The Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students. And this will be our fifth year. Kids can earn educational scholarships. 10,000 bucks to the winner.

And we have about 50 students. So I would like you to consider this. It’s going to be in October. I’d like you to consider coming down to visit Nashville and being one of our judges for that event.

Markman: Well, that’s kind of you to mention that. I’d be honored to participate. That’s a wonderful exercise and civic education. And particularly in these days when there are so many contrary ideas of education that are being communicated. I think that’s a wonderful exercise. I’d be honored to participate if that was something you were interested in.

Leahy: Well, we are and we’ll talk off-air about the details of that. It’s October 23 of this coming year. It’s really a great event. And we would be honored to have you as one of our judges. Justice Stephen Markman, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

Markman: Thank you again. And thanks for allowing me to focus some attention on this issue. It’s important to the state and I think other states as well because a lot of states are looking to the Michigan experience.

Leahy: Thanks so very much.

Listen to the full interview here:

– – –

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

Executive Director Matthew Spalding of the 1776 Commission Urges Parents to Run for Local School Boards and Stop CRT

Executive Director Matthew Spalding of the 1776 Commission Urges Parents to Run for Local School Boards and Stop CRT


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 Dr. Matthew Spalding, vice president of Hillsdale College and the executive director of the 1776 commission to the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Spalding informed listeners that the commission was still meeting to combat the racist curriculum being peddled by the federal government at the state level. Later in the segment, he urged parents to run for their local school boards and for communities to start their own local 1776 commissions.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by Matthew Spalding, executive director of the 1776 Commission and vice president of Hillsdale College. Heading up their graduate school of government at the  Washington, D.C. campus. Welcome, Matthew.

Spalding: Good to be with you. Thanks for having me.

Leahy: You were just in D.C. with our good friend, vice chairman of the 1776 Commission, Nashville’s own Carol Swain who is a frequent guest on this program.

Spalding: Yes. The commission, which had made its report on January 18, 2021, and abolished two days later decided to continue meeting. And so we met at our Washington, DC, campus on Monday to talk about what’s going on in the country and continue to think about how we can try to influence that debate.

We issued a statement and plan to continue meeting and participating in what we think is probably one of the most important debates going on in our country right now about education, especially as it relates to how we understand our country.

Leahy: I saw three key action steps coming out of your statement. Number one, you encourage parents to run for local school boards. Number two, you oppose this new Department of Education.

A proposed rule that’s basically going to codify Critical Race Theory across the United States in public schools. And number three, you encourage people locally to form their own 1776 commissions. Tell us about that.

Spalding: Well, let’s start with the race theory question first. The essence of the 1776 report and if you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to read it, mainly because what the media reports and the critics turn out they really just hadn’t read it.

It’s a report about the importance of teaching straight, accurate and honest history, including all the things about our past, like slavery and those horrendous institutions that were eventually abolished.

But through that, history warts and all, we can still see the principles, the founding and why this country is worth preserving. We study it and teach its principles to our students.

The report also talks about how there’s been the rise over just in the last decade or so, a number of radical arguments which instead of emphasizing that all men are created equal, with regard with Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln and many, if not most, of the American founders.

The argument is that we should look at it through the eyes of race. We should teach students to consider the race of their fellow students and of history and everything they look at. We think that is itself a form of racism because you’re teaching racism and unjust.

And that’s what a lot of the practical debate is. The federal level in many states trying to impose Critical Race Theory, set aside from what we call, equity out of history, is about teaching race as the essence of our educational system.

That at the federal level in the form of Department of Education regulations and states, it’s got to be stopped. We strongly mind everyone but the states, state government, state legislatures and localities, local school boards are the most important thing for controlling curriculum.

So we strongly encourage Americans, especially parents with children in schools run for the school board. Get control of those school boards. Prevent this from happening. Institute good curriculum. And in order to do this broadly, this is a public debate now, we encourage states and localities to create their own 1776 commissions.

Just because we were abolished, we’re going to continue meeting. This is an important question. We are citizens. We encourage others to do the same. So we’ve got to engage in the national conversation.

Leahy: If people here in Nashville want to form their own 1776 Commission, what should be the first step they should take?

Spalding: I think the first thing you might want to do is contact their governor or someone in the state. If you’ve got a good governor, it’s always good to have the legitimacy of that, because then you can work with your Department of Education and get good appointments.

But having said that, you could have a city create a 1776 Commission. A group of private citizens could. But I think it’s important to have a very clear concept of what’s pulling you together.

Perhaps you want to center around which we would encourage the principles of the 1776 report. There’s a pledge being pushed out there called 1776 Action that citizens can sign up to pledge to uphold these principles and stop Critical Race Theory.

It’s really got to be pulled together around those things. What is it you want to prevent, which is important to prevent, but also what is the alternative? And the alternative I think we all think and this is true forever on the left and the right, conservative, liberal is 1776.

The principles of the Declaration of Independence played out in our history through our constitutional system. And that’s got to be what holds together. Find your fellow citizens who are concerned about that.

Figure out how you can come together. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to focus on? Is it a local school board? Are you’re working with a local school or university? Working with a legislature or someone who has the authority to pass and create curriculum?

Leahy: We’ve been doing a little bit like that here at The Tennessee Star. We set up our own little educational foundation, the Star News Education Foundation. We have for five years now been doing a National Constitution Bee based upon the book that we wrote called the Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students.

And we give away the winners, actually get educational scholarships. We do it every October. In fact, Carol Swain was present at our last National Constitution Bee. And I would like to invite you to come down and take a look at it.

Spalding: I think you find it very interesting that’s a wonderful example of what folks should be doing. For the longest time, there are lots of people who are concerned about these questions.

This is not something new that we’ve invented at the 1776 Commission. But I think now that all of that work takes on a new meaning and new importance and a new intensity and we need more of it.

And we need to understand that this has implications for our politics because the education of our students now forms the citizens of tomorrow. And we’ve got to focus on these questions.

Leahy: Tell us a little bit about this U.S. Department of Education proposed rule. I think it’s in the final stages. What is it? Where is it going and will it be implemented?

Spalding: Well, here are the two big things to keep in mind. There’s a massive piece of legislation in the United States Congress that plans to spend about a billion dollars a year for five years. $5 billion on civics education.

That’s a massive amount of money. What the regulators at the Department of Education have signaled to us very clearly is that the administration, through a regulatory process, wants to direct that money to things like Critical Race Theory that has passed the comment stage and the regulation will now go forward.

If that legislation passes Congress, you’ve now got the Biden administration pointing as much of that billion dollars a year towards these forms of education which actually are teaching our students racism.

Leahy: That proposed rule has gone through the next step and it’s been approved?

Spalding: It’s gone through what is called the comment period that is now closed. We issued our comment last week. That means that they can now implement that regulation if they choose to proceed.

Leahy: Well, of course, they’re going to choose to proceed because that’s their view.

Spalding: We presumed they would proceed. Exactly.

Leahy: Why have a comment period if you’re going to just do it?

Spalding: In theory, you’re required by law of a comment period in case you want to adjust it. But I assume they are going to make no adjustments. This is going to go forward. If they then have that money which Congress is on the verge of wanting to pass, they’re going to be able to direct a lot of money towards really bad things.

Leahy: Will Congress pass that bill?

Spalding: I sure hope not. There’s been a lot of uprising against it. But having said that, it’s got sponsorship by Republicans and Democrats.

Leahy: Which Republicans are sponsoring that bill?

Spalding: Unfortunately, Senator Cornyn from Texas. He’s the chief sponsor.

Leahy: Oh, my goodness. What’s the name of the bill?

Spalding: It is called the Civics Secures Democracy Act. It’s a very generic name. But look it up and you should tell people to call and try to prevent that from passing.

Leahy: Last question for you. Do you think that the federal government should have a role in funding K12 public schools?

Spalding: That’s a great question. Another big theme in our statement and in the report itself. The federal government has no role in shaping curriculum. That was not only not and was intentionally given to the states.

States control curriculum. Do you remember the debate? I think we all remember this huge debate we had on Common Core a number of years ago when the federal government tried to influence the curriculum.

That’s what’s going on again with civics right now with that bill I mentioned and what the administration is

Leahy: The parents are going to have to really move on this aren’t they Matthew Spalding, Executive Director of 1776 Commission. Thanks so much for joining us.

Spalding: And that’s exactly why. Thank you so much.

Leahy: And come down to the Constitution Bee.

Spalding: I would love to.

Listen to the full second hour here:

– – –

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