Summary: Featuring guest Neal Darby, Jr., Senior Partnership Specialist Team Leader with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Don’t Confuse Your Census with Your 1040, Part 1 The Liberadio(!) “To Do” list is long this week and includes marijuana jokes, coveting the Seattle Center Monorail (and flume ride), and a historic march. Plus, love him or hate him, you know Barney Frank would never try to bite the head off a baby bunny – or would he? And we are disgusted with Sarah Palin’s unchallenged and unrelenting display of disrespect for the highest office in the land and chagrined – again – at what Tennessee Republicans and, therefore, Tennessee Democrats have decided is going to be the issue to talk about in this campaign. Then, we begin the breakdown of what’s going on with voter roll purges in Benton County. [28.14MB Click on the arrow below to listen or download mp3]

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Don’t Confuse Your Census with Your 1040, Part 2 We talk to Neal Darby, Jr., Senior Partnership Specialist Team Leader with the U.S. Census Bureau and he answers all our questions about the 10 questions. Then, we continue our discussion about the controversial Benton County voter roll purges – who was affected, why, and why can’t we locate the laws that the election administrator said were followed during the purge process? [19.82MB Click on the arrow below to listen or download mp3]

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The Main Stream Media’s Conservative Bias

Sarah Palin Taking Cues from her hand.NPR has really been pissing me off lately. You may have noticed it too – an overcompensation borne of decades of being accused by the conservative movement of being harbingers of a non-existent media bias. And it’s not just NPR – it’s every major mainstream media outlet.

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters nails it – using this past weekend’s tea party festivities as a example – in his essay on the “media double standard that favors Republicans over Democrats.”

And Karl Frisch, a Senior Fellow at Media Matters and Liberadio(!) media correspondent, said on our show on Monday that the responsibility for correcting this, er, “overcorrection,” rests solely in our hands:

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“For 40 years, the right has been pushing the idea of liberal media bias, and since Palin is one of the most popular people on the right, the press – because of the pressure they get from every level of the conservative movement from the lowliest volunteer to the presidential candidate – they get immense pressure to bend-over backwards and be “fair.” And by “fair” I mean not correct the public record. The left has only come into its own in terms of coming after the media to get things correct for about 5 or 6 years now in any kind of organized fashion. And even then it’s still not from the lowliest of campaign activists to the tip-tops of the presidential candidates.

It was surely something when the White House started becoming critical of Fox News because we had not seen that before from the left. But this is something that has to be ingrained in the psyche of the progressive movement that you must challenge the media when they get something wrong. Because then, at least, we can bring the press back to a natural center where they’re bending over backwards perhaps for both sides but in the end we’re getting a better news product.

As it stand right now, everybody on the Right complains about the media. Every day. On every issue. That doesn’t happen on the left. And that’s why Joe Biden ends up being charicatured in the way that he’s charicatured but since the campaign nobody has said – I hesitate to say nobody – but, by and large, for all the gaffes Sarah Palin has had, since exiting the campaign trail, she’s certainly not held to the standard that other politicians would be if they were quite as dumb as Palin on the stump.”

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C’mon guys. This is getting ridiculous.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy
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Summary: Featuring guests Judy Norsigian, Our Bodies Ourselves co-founder and Executive Director; and Karl Frisch of Media Matters for America.

Links: Our Bodies Ourselves, Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research, Media Matters for America

A Black Eye, Part 1 The intro, the end of the world on celluloid, recounts possibilities (or impossibilities), Republican hypocrisy in Sumner County, plus the Media Matters for American Smackdown with Karl Frisch, in which he packs a whole lot of Sarah Palin in a short time. [38.3MB download mp3]

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A Black Eye, Part 2 A really big “oopsie” followed by a whole lotta backpedaling by Tennessee’s U.S. Senators Alexander and Corker, political performance art by Palin and her friends insults truth, justice and the American way, more health insurances woes keep us from the American dream, and our interview with Judy Norsigian, a hero of the women’s movement. [36MB download mp3]

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Summary: Our guests include District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson and Wendell Potter, Senior Fellow on Healthcare at the Center for Media and Democracy.

Part 1 – Freddie Quits Liberadio(!) Freddie may be joking, but Sarah Palin isn’t. We get right into the current news droppings, both national and local, then onto the to-do list. [17.11MB download mp3]

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Part 2- Governor Quitty McQuittersons Once upon a time, Freddie was on the Al Franken Show and had a brush with greatness. But did he quit? No! Not like Sarah Palin who is a big quitter. [20.33MB download mp3]

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Part 3- Interview with Councilman Mike Jameson Mike Jameson joins us as we continue our discussions on zoning and development in Nashville including the Convention Center, the Downtown Plan, and the May Town Center. [29MB download mp3]

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Part 4- Hear It From Sarah PalinWe play a few interesting clips of Almost-One-Term-Governor Sarah Palin explaining herself…kinda sorta. [15MB download mp3]

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Part 5 - Interview with Wendell Potter After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Potter left his job last year at CIGNA to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals. He’s blowin’ the whistle and you gotta hear it. [22.6MB download mp3]

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Part 6 - We Take Your Calls On Healthcare We take your calls on your experiences with healthcare in America. Its getting so bad that other countries wouldn’t want to deal with our system if they had it. We also talk about the surprising differences between healthcare in England/Cananda and France/Netherlands. We end the show with a little more Palin talk, and we’ll see you next week. [39.59MB download mp3]

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Keeping that Pesky Stork at Bay

Keeping that Pesky Stork at Bay

Freddie and I had a conversation on this morning’s show called, “Don’t they have anything better to do?,” in which we tried to figure out why Republicans, who are in complete control of both the Tennessee House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction, have nothing better to do than introduce legislation that infringes on the reproductive health of women. Is that what Tennesseans voted them in to do, we asked? Or did we want something to be done about our bottom-of-the-barrel health, safety, and public service statistics?

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You know what we mean. Every time a study is released that statistically ranks the states, Tennessee is always in the bottom half and most likely in the bottom third. For instance, Tennessee is 37th in Child Abuse Fatalities, 39th in Children in Poverty, 40th in High School Graduation, 48th in infant mortality, and 49th in violent crime

Well, we didn’t have to wait too long or look too far for answers. Colby Sledge gave us the skinny in today’s Tennessean – Rep. Mumpower and his wobbly majority have a culture war agenda and they’re not afraid to use it.

And so, tomorrow it begins. Resolutions HJR61 and HJR66 – proposed amendments that would constitutionally take away the right to abortion in Tennessee – will be heard at 4:00 p.m. in the House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee.

So why are there two resolutions? Well, even though both begin with “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” HJR61 by Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville), calls for exceptions for rape, incest, and the heath of the mother and HJR66 by Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville), does not. The Democrats call their bill “compromise legislation that they hope brings hot-button topics closer to the political center.” The Republicans say theirs is “not to lay the groundwork to ban abortion altogether, but rather to begin efforts to restore regulations rendered null and void” by a 2000 ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court affirming a woman’s right to private health care decisions.

Since 2001, this kind of resolution, which has passed 4 times in the Senate, has failed in the House subcommittee. But Democrats no longer control the committee – it’s now split 4-4 – and newly-crowned Speaker of the House and legislative committee tie-breaker Kent Williams (R-Elizabethton) has said he would swing his mighty gavel and vote to pass the anti-abortion resolution – without the exceptions.

A pox on you Speaker Williams.

And a double-pox on you Rep. Maggart. “No exceptions?” How did you even conceive of “no exceptions?” I must request verification that you are, indeed, a woman because sponsoring legislation like this as a woman can get you kicked out of “the club.” And while we’re at it, I’d like to see your birth certificate, too.

More disturbing still is that both the Democrats and Republicans know that a Constitutional amendment – with or without exceptions – will do nothing to reduce the number of abortions performed in Tennessee. Which begs the question, are they really looking to do that?

Did you know that although Tennessee is ranked 20th in providing family planning public funding (publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies), we’re ranked 42nd in family planning laws and policies (whether laws and policies are likely to facilitate access to contraceptive services and information), 30th in family planning service availability (how well states meet existing need for subsidized contraceptive services and supplies), and 40th in births to teen mothers ages 15-19.

Disconnect, much? If the members of the Tennessee legislature wanted real solutions, they would do two things. First, they’d be honest and admit that there are already a number of Tennessee laws which regulate abortion – including parental consent, a ban on late-term abortions and patient informed consent. Then, they would focus on researching and providing the most effective education and resources that would actually, you know, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

Between now and 4:00 PM tomorrow, please members of the House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee as well as your state representatives, and ask them to put their valuable time and energy into real solutions for Tennessee’s problems.

Tell’em the newly enlightened Sarah Palin and her daughter, Bristol, sent you.

UPDATE: Today’s meeting of the subcommittee has been postponed. They will reschedule to hear all bills pertaining to reproductive health rights at one time. I will keep you posted.

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The anti-choice movement still refuses to compromise (check out this one-sided Talk of the Nation round table discussion for proof) – which is unfortunate because they are now moving us even further backwards – away from “safe, legal, and rare” and towards demonizing birth control! Additional evidence of the no-uterus crowd’s war on contraception was seen more recently with the trivialization of an affordable contraception provision contained in the economic stimulus package and the demonization of President Obama’s reversal of the Global Gag Rule.

One of Liberadio(!)’s recent guests, Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation, insists, and rightly so, that this cannot stand. We have to get the conversation back to one that is reasonable and rational she said, let’s stop making the lives of women a political football and move the conversation towards the importance of freely available and affordable contraception, women’s health issues, and reducing the number of abortions.

Little did Ms. Smeal know when she spoke to us at the beginning of the month, that her agenda would be advanced by Fox News, Greta Van Susteren, Bristol Palin, and Bristol Palin’s mom.

Bristol Palin – who discovered herself pregnant at 17 – now understands from personal experience that abstinence only is “not realistic at all” and that the pregnant one is the one who ultimately makes the difficult decisions:

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you read any of the tabloids?

BRISTOL: I’ve seen some of them, and I think people out there are just evil because they don’t know what was going on at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: What didn’t anybody get? What didn’t people understand?

BRISTOL: That — there’s a lot of things. They thought that, like, my mom was going to make me have the baby, and it was my choice to have the baby. And it’s just — that kind of stuff just bothered me.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of your mother making you have the baby, I mean, the whole issue of, I guess, the right — the right to life and choice and things like that.

BRISTOL: Yes. Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: But this is your issue. This is your decision.

BRISTOL: Yes. And would have — doesn’t matter what my mom’s views are on it. It was my decision, and I wish people would realize that, too.

And Governor Sarah Palin, who has a definite populist appeal, now understands – also from personal experience – the consequences of abstinence only education and that not everyone who finds themselves pregnant at too young an age is lucky enough to have Bristol’s support system:

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, but it’s — I mean, you look at this, and it’s joy in this family. You know, and some families aren’t…

SARAH PALIN: Oh, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, some families don’t have the broad family support. I mean, she’s got the brothers and the sisters and the parents and the grandparents.

SARAH PALIN: We have five (ph) generations helping right now. And Bristol — maybe she got to talk to you a little bit about that, that we have a very large network of family, so a lot of support. And Bristol’s in — maybe she’s a bit of an anomaly in this situation, in that she has a lot of support. She has it perhaps easier, if you will, than other young mothers. But many, many, many young parents have been successful in raising their children and have raised healthy, happy, contributing members of our society.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it’s not just an issue of abstinence. That’s one issue. But once we get beyond that — you know, because when you have the discussion of abstinence, it’s almost — I always sort of feel badly because there’s a wonderful child here and talking abstinence sounds — I mean, it sounds…

SARAH PALIN: (INAUDIBLE) naive (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it doesn’t even — it doesn’t even sound naive, but it doesn’t sound very nice because this is a wonderful young boy.

SARAH PALIN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I mean, and so I hate to have that topic…

SARAH PALIN: I hear (ph) you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, the bigger topic is, OK, now the situation — the bigger question is, like, now — you know, how to make it go right.

SARAH PALIN: Exactly. Exactly. So you get behind that, that ideal of, yes, abstinence, you know? Hey, don’t get pregnant. Well, get beyond that when it happens, and then you deal with it. Life happens. Life happens and you deal with it, and Bristol’s dealing with it wonderfully.

In the Palins, who have the country’s collective ear and seem to now get that there are no absolute, clear-cut, answers to reproductive health issues, Ms. Smeal might have found just the spokespeople to fulfill her wish of leading the abortion conversation out of the wilderness and back to the “reasonable and rational.”

As an aside, though, I do have to wonder why Governor Palin couldn’t muster up enough empathy before Bristol’s pregnancy to figure out why people in the real world – too many, in fact – find themselves in these situations all the time. Was it her lack of imagination? No natural curiosity? Hubris? Blind faith? Pure political calculus? But I digress…

Elleanor Smeal is quite an able spokesperson for what is reasonable and rational, as you can tell by the following audio gleaned from her recent appearance on Liberadio(!), but she just might find that it’s the Palin women, and not she, who will be invited on the TV and radio. If she’s smart, she’s already picked up the phone.

Eleanor Smeal on:

Global Gag Rule and its Reversal – The Global Gag rule meant that family planning groups around the world couldn’t talk about abortion if they received aid from the US. That meant less gynecological services for women (70,000 women die of botched abortions in the third world and over 500,000 die of maternal illnesses). It also meant the cutting off of condom shipments to 20 countries during the time of a full-blown AIDS epidemic in Africa. Link to mp3 (1:58)

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The United States Restored Partnership to United Nations Population Fund – We are just one of the donors but by cutting off aid we caused much suffering. Link to mp3 (0:58)

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On the Abortion Debate – How to make progress with a group who now wants to make birth control controversial. Which begs the question, wouldn’t access to birth control reduce the number of abortions? Link to mp3 (1:36)

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On Sarah Palin’s Feminist Cred – Does she have any? How could she not! Link to mp3 (0:46)

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An “I Probably Shouldn’t Be Telling You This But” Moment
The signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act was the first time women’s rights advocates have been in the White House in 8 years. Link to mp3 (0:54)

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What She’s Hoping to Work Very Hard to Get Accomplished During the Obama administration – A convention to eliminate all forms of discrimination around the world, the paid family medical leave act, and then some. Link to mp3 (2:16)

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Listen to the Full Interview
Link to mp3 (12:30)

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Jon Stewart Apologizes to Sarah Palin

Jon Stewart apologizes to Sarah Palin:

Here’s why he felt the need:

Take this quiz to see if he should apologize to you, too:

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If Sarah Palin believes she has the Lord is on her side, how does she explain 150 million dollars raised in September, 100,000 people at a rally in St. Louis, and the endorsement of Colin Powell?

“So North Carolina, I appreciate you all so much, who are here who already get it. You know, maybe I’m preaching to the choir a little bit here, but being here encourages me because I know that I’m not alone and I’ll send this message back to John McCain also. At those times on the campaign trail when sometimes it’s easy to get a little bit discouraged, when, you know, when you happen to turn on the news when your campaign staffers will let you turn on the news,” she said, prompting laughter from the group. Usually they’re like ‘Oh my gosh, don’t watch. You’re going to, you know, you’re going to get depressed.’

“But yeah, sometimes you do get depressed watching what it is that they’re reporting and the spin and some of the distortion of what our message is and what we stand for. Sometimes that, that gets draining,” she continued. “But it’s at events like these and our rallies that we are so energized and inspired and we know that we are not alone. We feel your strength and we feel the power of prayer, so many of you tell us that you are praying for us and praying for our country and that’s why we so appreciate you being here.”

“We even saw today, thank the Lord, we saw some movement.”

I’m just sayin’, if you wanna play that game, it looks like Barack Obama’s Lord is winning.

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Tonight I watched John Seigenthaler moderate a debate between Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam and Congressman Jim Cooper on the steps of the parthenon as part of the Youth Presidential Debate 2008. This was a great collaboration of Montgomery Bell Academy with the Mayor’s Youth Council and Metro Nashville Public Schools.

It was a cool early fall evening, and the doors of the parthenon stood open, providing a glimpse of the chambers of Athena behind the debaters. Haslam stood in for McCain-Palin, and Cooper stood in for Obama-Biden. Each fielded a number of previously submitted questions from area students. As Jim Cooper said in his opening remarks, “We don’t inherit this country from our ancestors; every day we borrow it from you.”

Here is a sampling of the questions with answers captured impressionistically by me:

  1. On nuclear energy

    Haslam: Three point answer: 1) drill more, 2) use less, 3) pursue alternatives, including nuclear (cited France)

    Cooper: Coal has a role. “We’re the Saudi Arabia of coal.” Mentioned support of nuclear, which is not always safe in Democratic-leaning areas.

  2. On campaign finance (in light of both candidates receiving significant financial support from Wall Street)

    Cooper: There is a problem with the way we finance elections.

    Haslam: Noted that there is “all sorts of influence,” not all of it monetary.

  3. On the draft

    Haslam: Gave strong assurances that McCain didn’t support a draft. POW! Strong military volunteerism in family. Slipped and cited “George Wallace” when he meant “George Washington,” but quickly corrected himself.

    Cooper: Claimed that Iraq was the first all-volunteer war. Supported a civilian service corps because service is the only thing that fosters “true humanity, true community.”

  4. On presidential blame for the financial crisis

    Cooper: Pointed out that Clinton gave us the first (footnoted) surplus since the 1920s. Cited the independent Federal Reserve, the role of Congress, and the power of the bully pulpit.

    Haslam: Cautioned that “government is not a magic box. You get out what you put in.”

  5. On going green (at the suggestion of pop culture)

    Haslam: Indicated that it transcended pop culture. Asserted that whether climate change is man-made or not doesn’t matter. Conserving and cutting costs “makes sense.”

    Cooper: Said he’s learning from his daughter, who is a “localvore.” Said the spirit of conservation connects her to the old ways of her grandmother, who saved material things (string, paper) for later reuse.

  6. On Iran

    Cooper: Suggested that the “young people” read Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books as a method of better understanding other cultures. Referenced Israel’s complicated relationship with the international community and the complications of Shia versus Sunni.

    Haslam: Suggested that there is no black/white. That there is lots of “nuance.”

  7. On containing the costs of universal healthcare

    Haslam: Suggested that market controls will be the most effective method.

    Cooper: With “all due respect,” suggested that this was “a terrible question” because it was asked with the assumption that universal healthcare would be more costly than the status quo, which is incredibly expensive with little value comparative to other industrialized countries. Recommended Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer for further reading. Promoted the Healthy Americans Act. Cited need to stop bad incentives.

  8. On working families

    Cooper: Repeatedly stated that Obama’s tax plan lowers taxes for 95% of Americans and suggested that it’s time for people to “upgrade your stereotypes.”

    Haslam: Suggested that Obama’s promises can’t be kept just by increasing taxes on 5% of Americans.

  9. On joining the International Criminal Court

    Haslam: Claimed McCain would consider joining if American soldiers could be adequately protected and not “second-guessed” during combat. POW!

    Cooper: Contra McCain, most Republicans have not been open-minded on this issue. Cited America’s damaged international reputation.

  10. On offshore drilling

    Cooper: Noted that previous ban had expired as of today and that drilling is now allowed within 3 miles of American coastline except for West coast of Florida.

    Haslam: Didn’t hear Cooper state what Obama’s position was. Reiterated McCain’s position of drilling as a partial requirement for energy security.

  11. On the DREAM Act

    Haslam: Admitted that he was unable to find McCain’s position on this issue and turned the floor over to Coop, who said, “He supports it.” Said he finds it’s better to admit it when one doesn’t know the answer to a question.

    Cooper: Explained the bill, which offers a path to higher education for the children of illegal immigrants. Said McCain’s support for this bill, likely to be lost as his “maverick” status fades in the presidential race, sets him apart from his party. Called it a “question of elemental fairness to young people.”

  12. On schools

    Cooper: Pointed out that until recently, 95% of education policy was state/local. Referenced some of the “stupid rules” of No Child Left Behind.

    Haslam: Generalized the notion that the more government is local, the better it is.

  13. On Islam

    Haslam: Recommended avoiding a “broad paintbrush.”

    Cooper: Called Islam a “completely legitimate” religion. Compared characterizing terrorists as “Islamic extremists” with characterizing the KKK as “Baptist extremists” or “Church of Christ extremists.” Referenced Clausewitz’s first rule of war: “understand the enemy.”

  14. On the role of faith in public life

    Cooper: Against state-based religion, as well as discriminating on the basis of religion. Cited Romney’s Mormonism, a “perfectly legitimate faith,” but that contributed to Romney’s loss because of intolerance among conservative Christians.

    Haslam: “Faith should be welcome in the public square.”

In closing, Haslam advocated trust in what someone has done over what someone says. Coop ended with, “Once every few generations…” and issued a call to young people that was already underway.

The questions were impressive, revealing a level of student engagement far surpassing my own and that of most of my peers at that age. I heard questions from MBA, Harpeth Hall, McGavock, Maplewood, and St. Cecilia.

In my opinion, Haslam and Cooper represent the best each party has to offer in Tennessee. Each is likable and thoughtful and unlikely (in my experiences with each thus far) to dodge questions and replace them with careful messaging. Both men are as close to candid as modern politics allows. Each acquitted himself well and gave a thorough and thoughtful presentation of contrasting ideas that help to illustrate the difference in Democratic and Republican ideologies without the bluster and negativity so common on television. For students interested in politics and policy, this served as a great introduction.

Seigenthaler, whose moderation was mostly confined to giving a gravelly cadence of wisdom to the enthusiastically earnest words of Nashville youth, paused the debate at one point to note the civility, especially in contrast with the national version of this debate that is unfolding. At the end, he expressed his “profound honor” to be in the company of “young men” such as these (Haslam and Coop) and praised the “ingenious idea” of Brad Gioia, headmaster of MBA.

Several of the mayor’s staff and the mayor himself showed up to support the engagement of the Youth Council. Chris Henson (interim Director of Schools) and Alan Coverstone (member, Board of Education) were also present. Alan teaches and is an administrator at MBA.

I’m hopeful that we’ll get the opportunity to speak with Mayor Haslam on the show at some point if he’ll accept.

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