Beth Harwell on Career as Speaker, Illegal Immigration, and Cultivating Pride of America

Beth Harwell on Career as Speaker, Illegal Immigration, and Cultivating Pride of America


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 former Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell in studio to discuss the importance of being proud of America and the economic consequences of illegal immigration.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by the former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Beth, it is really great to have you in studio.

Harwell: Thank you. It’s good to be here. It truly is.

Leahy: When you were a speaker, we just didn’t have the opportunity for an extended conversation because that’s a pretty hectic job from what I can tell.

Harwell: It is. It is. It’s a great job. I enjoyed it tremendously, worked hard at it, and wanted us to have a successful state government and always tried to be a speaker, unlike the one we have at the national level, Nancy Pelosi. Whatever she was doing, I tried to do the opposite. (Laughs) 

Leahy: Don’t even get me started on her. Let’s talk a little bit about your career. You were born in Pennsylvania.

Harwell: Correct.

Leahy: Moved here to Nashville to attend David Lipscomb.

Harwell: That’s correct.

Leahy: Did you along the way, when you graduated from Lipscomb, did you get a Ph.D.?

Harwell: I did. From Vandy. And I have taught for a number of years at Belmont University science and government and how that is.

Leahy: What was your Ph.D. in?

Harwell: Political science. And I enjoyed teaching, especially at the college level. Teaching young people about the basics of government and the history of our great nation. And that’s something that’s lacking in our curriculum today.

Leahy: You think? (Laughs) I don’t know if you know this. We do a National Constitution Bee here. We have a little foundation and we do it and the winners get educational scholarships. Claudia Henneberry now is our executive director for that. We’re going to do it again in October in Brentwood.

Harwell: Wonderful.

Leahy: And you’re more than welcome to attend. Maybe we’ll talk you into being a judge.

Harwell: There you go.

Leahy: But what we found is most public schools – is – that I think they’d rather teach Critical Race Theory than the Constitution.

Harwell: Isn’t that sad?

Leahy: It really is sad.

Harwell: We’re taking a generation of young people and teaching them to be embarrassed that they’re Americans instead of proud of being American.

Everybody knows the country has its flaws, but there’s no other country in the world that I see people fleeing, trying to get into like they are the United States.

Leahy: Well, illegals, according to the Tucker Carlson report, last night, we’ve had one million illegal aliens cross the border into the United States since January, and since the legal but not legitimate current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue took office.

Harwell: I saw that segment last night.

Leahy: Did you see that segment?

Harwell: Yes. And I thought to myself, he’s spot-on on two things.  Number one, what they find administrations doing is illegal.

They don’t have the authority to do what they’re doing. And two, when you don’t have your borders, you don’t have a country. And we’re losing our borders. It’s scary.

Leahy: The specifics that Tucker Carlson uncovered and reported since, is that in January of this year, the U.S. Air Force, the military from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas has been flying unvaccinated illegal aliens who haven’t been tested for COVID into the heartland of America.

Some of them apparently have been flown in the dark of night into Tennessee, among other places.

Harwell: And they have the footage of it. And we know that it’s happening. What we all have to be aware of is citizens, and no one wants to be cruel, but on the other hand, this is a tremendous burden on our economy. These people come here and they have to be educated. They don’t have work. You’ve got to provide health care. It is a true burden on the state government as well as the federal government. But we can’t afford it. We simply can’t.

Leahy: And while you were a speaker back in 2015, I believe the House and the Senate passed a resolution basically suing the federal government on Tenth Amendment grounds on the NFIB Sebelius case that said it was taking from the citizens of Tennessee to force them to pay for all these benefits for illegal aliens placed here, though not illegally. But through the refugee program that they didn’t want.

Harwell: Right. I absolutely believe that was a valid lawsuit. The Tenth Amendment reserves the rights to the states, not the federal government. And we’ve got this reverse. We’ve allowed the federal government to get way too powerful. And that was never the intention of our founding fathers.

Leahy: Federal courts threw the case out. And I think it was because they said that the Tennessee General Assembly didn’t have standing because the governor at first was Governor Bill Haslam. And then it was Governor Bill Lee who refused to sign on to the lawsuit. Do I have that right?

Harwell: I believe that is correct. And that was a disappointment because I really did think the legislature had taken the right step.

Leahy: Did you have a conversation with then-Governor Haslam and say, you know, you ought to sign on to this. How did he respond?

Harwell: He’s a wonderful man. He was a very good governor for our state. He just philosophically disagreed with us on this. As did Governor Lee. I mean, Governor Lee could have had the opportunity under President Trump to get us out of it as well. And he didn’t.

Leahy: Yeah. That really rankles me, by the way. It was a big mistake on their part. That was a very significant thing that you did there as speaker. When were you first elected to the Tennessee House Representatives?

Harwell: 1988. So a long time. I was speaker for eight years.

Leahy: You were a speaker from 2011-2019. That’s a long time as speaker.

Harwell: Right. It’s a political position, and it’s a tough territory. The House is unique. It’s a rowdy body. But again, I wouldn’t have done anything else. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Leahy: And the House seems to be more active and the Senate is sort of laid back and staid, shall we say. (Laughter)

Harwell: Right.

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.















All Star Panelist Roger Simon Talks Knowing Tucker Carlson and Who’s Who in Mainstream News Media

All Star Panelist Roger Simon Talks Knowing Tucker Carlson and Who’s Who in Mainstream News Media


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 senior editor-at-large at The Epoch Times, Roger Simon, in studio to talk about his friendliness with Tucker Carlson.

Leahy: Roger Simon, all-star panelist. We were talking during the break and that right now, the most important, the most significant conservative media personality is Tucker Carlson.

Simon: Without a doubt. In fact, there’s nobody close except for you, Michael. (Laughter)

Leahy: Well, thank you, Roger.

Simon: No. I mean, there is nobody close, and he’s done a remarkable job. He is the most-watched, most interesting guy on TV.

Leahy: He’s a fact-based guy, and he reports facts, which makes him all the more powerful. You’ve known Tucker for some time. Tell us about how you first met Tucker.

Simon: I’ll tell you how I first met him and then I’ll tell you how he’s gotten me into trouble. (Laughter) I actually don’t remember the first time we met, but when The Daily Caller was being started by Tucker.

Leahy: 2009 or 2010?

Simon: This was earlier, I think, particularly with PJ Media. We were earlier than that.

Leahy: PJ Media was much like 2000.

Simon: No, it was for 2004. All of us sort of knew each other. I knew Breitbart.

Leahy: You knew Andrew.

Simon: And Tucker. Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit over here at Knoxville.

Leahy: Glenn, of course, was a key part of PJ Media.

Simon: Oh, he still is.

Leahy: With Instapundit. Great guy.

Simon: Oh, he’s a fantastic person.

Leahy: Lives in Knoxville.

Simon: So we all kind of knew each other. So that’s how it happened, really. And then we keep bumping into each other at event after event.

So I don’t know Tucker that well, but I know him pretty well. We text back and forth.

Leahy: You text him.

Simon: That’s how he gets me in trouble. As many listeners know, the NSA apparently has been looking in on Tucker’s text. So, therefore, the NSA is listening in on my texts.

Leahy: Uh oh.

Simon: And I wrote a little bit about this at The Epoch Times, and I sent this over to Tucker. He really got a chuckle out of it. I said you are outing me at the NSA.

Leahy: As a conservative!

Simon: I think they already knew. The problem with the whole NSA thing is that there’s a book called The Puzzle Palace, written in 1988 about the NSA. It tells you that in 1988 they were able to access virtually all our communication.

Leahy: Way back in ’88. And it’s gotten much worse ever since, hasn’t it?

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: So you had lunch with Tucker recently?

Simon: But I can’t talk about that too much because Tucker has security issues, as people know because Antifa types were at his house.

Leahy: Bad guys. They threatened his family and his poor wife was there. They were knocking on the door and she didn’t know what to do. That’s awful.

Simon: So he has to live a life a little bit under the radar, and I don’t blame him.

Leahy: Let me tell you something about Tucker Carlson. I’ve met him just once, but I’ve had a few communications with him. Not a lot. He’s a very nice guy.

Simon: He is a terrific person.

Leahy: I met him back in 2012 when I was doing the book tour for Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement and I was on Fox News coming on Fox and Friends and did the whole tour.

I was actually on Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough. I got to tell you about that here in a second. But I was on Lou Dobbs’ show, and he was on the panels.

Lou came off and chatted with me briefly. Very nice. He’s much taller than you would think. He’s about 6’1. He’s not super tall.

Leahy: He’s taller than me.

Simon: Well, everybody’s taller than we are. (Laughter) It’s the sad truth.

Leahy: So if you want to hear my Morning Joe story?

Simon: Yeah, I do. One of the least likable people.

Leahy: No, there’s somebody even less likable than him. You know who it is?

Simon: His wife.

Leahy: Yes. Mika! So I’m going to go into name-dropping city here. Name dropping alert.

Simon: Okay.

Leahy: I had a friend who was never a professor of mine at Harvard, but was a Ph.D. student there. He was a Ph.D. student of American History. His name was Alan Brinkley, the son of the great David Brinkley.

Alan is a very nice guy. He was a biographer of Franklin Roosevelt. Now he’s kind of a liberal. But a very nice guy. And so back then, I was a liberal.

We used to have these when you go to college and when you know everything. When you go to college, you’re also an Ivy Leaguer. Don’t tell anybody.

The expanses of New Hampshire at Dartmouth. You’d have lunch, and then you’d just sit around and just talk for hours about how much …

Simon: How much you know.

Leahy: Look at how much I know. Anyways, but this was fun. And so I got to know him. He would come and we’d chat. Very nice guy. Alan Brinkley.

So then fast forward – I don’t know – 35 years. He wrote a kind of nasty critique of the Tea Party movement. And as you know, I was involved in the launching of that movement.

I took exception to it. And I wrote him and I laid out all of his errors. And he responded. He was kind. And he said, well, okay, I get your point.

And we started talking about that. It turns out he was pals with – of course, because of his dad – Tom Brokaw. And so I got a call before the 2010 elections from Tom Brokaw to interview me about what the Tea Party was.

And, of course, this was before all the big Republican victories. Say what you will about Tom’s ideology, but he’s really probably one of the best interviewers that I’ve ever met.

He was very good. So he interviewed me. Tom got me on Morning Joe. I had a 12-minute segment there and Mika was there.

Joe was very nice to me by the way, back in 2012. Mika, let me just say if looks could kill, (Laughs) I would not be here today.

Because we got the Brokaw introduction she didn’t have permission to kind of go after me, but she wanted to. She really wanted to. I could tell her she just totally hated my guts.

Simon: Speaking of my life as a hypocrite, that duo is right up there. Joe and Mika, they’re right up there because they were all over Trump and then all of a sudden, Trump is Satan.

Listen to the full third hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Tucker Carlson” by Tucker Carlson Tonight. Background Photo “Fox News Studio” by Inside Cable news. CC BY 2.0.