Thursday, March 05, 2015

New School Standards Mean the Eviscertation of US History

Want to know what your students are learning in public high schools?  Just take a look at the new Arkansas Department of Education frameworks or requirements for high school graduation. 
The new 2016 graduation requirement for United States History calls only for teaching American History since 1890.  Early American history is no longer necessary.  No Jamestown Colony in Virginia.  No Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.  Gone is the expectation that the students learn the reasons for the American colonies to separate from Great Britain to form a new country called the USA.  Gone is the need to study the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Jefferson presidency, including the Louisiana Purchase.  Apparently we don’t need to know about the rise of laissez-faire capitalism and the 1776 book entitled Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.  
No more studying of the War of 1812 or the Monroe Doctrine.  Age of Jackson? – poof!  Gone.  Doesn’t matter anymore.  Westward expansion of the United States and Manifest Destiny – nope, not part of the new Arkansas program.  The Civil War – Lincoln – Reconstruction of the South?  Not important either.  We will also skip the study of failed experiments of utopian socialism.
Our students will also not learn about the Second Industrial Revolution with the advancements in technology and transportation.  No study of the steam engine, canals, highways, railroads, the telegraph and telephone, barbed wire fences, the Oliver plow, or the McCormick reaper. 
The year 1890 started a period of American history known as Progressivism.  Apparently learning about Progressivism is a critical place to start for the decision-makers at the Arkansas Department of Education. 
It is not only U.S. History that is seriously being dumbed down.  A high school course in American Government is no longer a graduation requirement.  Civics is still required – and that course is usually taken in 8th or 9th grade.  No longer will there be intensive study of the U.S. Constitution, and the powers of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government.  No more study of the checks and balances that were put in place to curb governmental excesses.  An intensive study of the Bill of Rights is no longer deemed necessary.  The major U.S Supreme Court cases that have changed the course of America prior to 1890 are now consigned to the dustbin of history.
But wait, there’s more!  Advanced Placement (AP) courses are designed to grant college credit to students who do well on the end-of-course exams.  My Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) students were the top performers in the state of Arkansas in 2014.  Unfortunately, APUSH is now aligned with Common Core.  As a result, the learning of facts has been de-emphasized.  The new focus is on process – analyzing and comparing documents to come up with meaning.  The new dumbed-down approach is so controversial, that the State of Oklahoma is moving to eliminate APUSH from its public school offerings.
Oh, one other thing.  The new 2016 Arkansas graduation requirement calls for World History to cover only the period from 1450 to present.  No more study of the Babylonian and Chaldean Empires.  No study of the ancient civilizations of China, India, or Egypt.  Can’t be bothered with the Greco-Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great.  No need to study the Roman Empire either.  And we can conveniently skip the founding and violent spread of Islam, the Dark Ages of Medieval Europe, the conquering hordes of Asia that penetrated Europe, the Vikings, William the Conqueror of Normandy, and the signing of the Magna Carta. 
Apparently learning all the stuff I listed is considered to be just too much for Arkansas students.  Or perhaps there is another agenda at work here.  The fewer facts that Arkansas students know, the easier it is to manipulate them as adults.  Removing the understanding of the foundations of American government allows future adults to be deceived regarding the function of government. 
Does the Arkansas Legislature have any idea about what the State Department of Education is doing?  Does the governor know?  How can we be comfortable producing educated but ignorant students?  We do know this much – that if the Legislature and the Governor do nothing to fix the rewriting of history and government educational requirements for high school graduation, then by default they approve of the new dumbed-down standards. 
                                                                                                                   – Brutus
“Brutus” is a former businessman and newspaper columnist who is now an Arkansas high school teacher with classes in American History, American Government, and Economics.  He has a B.A. in Economics and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, with graduate studies in Law.  He was a state legislative intern as a college student and has worked on several political campaigns.  He has also served as a school board member and a city council chairman.   
“The bottom line is the farther  decisions are made from home, the more tyrannical those decisions become.” – Brutus

Monday, February 16, 2015

It is Better to Know Nothing at all About State Government than to Know Only What Steve Barnes Tells You

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” 
― Thomas Jefferson

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” 
― Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson reasoned that a person who reads nothing at all at least does not have a head full of misinformation which would have to be swept away before the actual facts of some matter were learned, but a person who read only the newspapers would first have to be disabused of all of the errors and mis-education which they had acquired via reading the newspapers.  After reading the recent Steve Barnes column "Arkansas to end Alternative Obamacare Program for the Poor" I know what ole' Tommy Jeff meant. I don't have time to break down all of Barnes' inaccuracies, so I will just deconstruct the first two paragraphs for you, just to give you a taste of how bad it is.
Barnes writes: "Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has signed legislation that will end by 2017 the state’s innovative but controversial adaptation of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided nearly 190,000 residents with health coverage."
Well, Asa Hutchinson is serving as Governor, so there is some fact in there.  But the "state's innovative but controversial adaptation" of Obamacare was already slated to end by 2017.  The state was granted a temporary waiver to build this facade in front of Medicaid Expansion to give it the look and feel of private insurance.  The temporary waiver expires at the end of 2016 and the bill does not change that. So the bill, SB 96, does not tear down this facade any earlier than it would come down anyway.  

What the bill does is say that if the state cannot agree on how to build a new facade in front of the state's Medicaid Expansion, then the underlying Medicaid expansion goes away as well. Some legislators are beating their chests saying that the vote for SB 96 is a vote for "ending Medicaid expansion" but a more holistic look at the bill paints a different picture. While it does establish a possible end-date for Medicaid Expansion eventually, it does so only after doing everything possible to build political momentum to a new facade so that Medicaid Expansion will be retained. More details on what SB 96 really does here.

When Barnes writes that the Affordable Care Act "has provided nearly 190,000 residents with health coverage" he at least gets part of the story right.  The act itself did not provide the coverage though, rather the act authorized spending money that the government did not and does not have to pay for the coverage.  The money was borrowed from the next generation, so it may be more complete to say that the Act authorized the confiscation of the future earnings of todays babies and children in order to pay for the health care of able-bodied adults today.  

His phrasing, while typical of today's media, seems to ascribe God-like powers to a piece of legislation to actually provide things. Instead it merely did what all legislation does- describe who gets goodies and who has to pay for it. The next generation is who should get the credit for providing health care coverage to today's able-bodied adults.  The Affordable Care Act, via the "private" option, is just the means by which those kids are being robbed to pay for the coverage. 

That leads into his next paragraph, which continues to erroneously describe the Affordable Care Act itself as magically providing the money for the healthcare.....
Arkansas' "private option" plan uses federal funds from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to purchase medical insurance for some low-income individuals, rather than assigning them to the state's Medicaid program.
Not only that, he implies that Arkansans who sign up for the "private" option are not a part of the state's Medicaid program.  In doing so he repeats the falsehood of those legislators who insisted that the "private" option was not Medicaid expansion.  The so-called "private" option is a Medicaid program, just one which has a couple of waivers from the traditional Medicaid program.  It is like when Blue Cross offered HSA insurance in addition to their traditional product.  Customers who signed up were still with Blue Cross, just a different program.  

In the same way people who sign up for the "private" option are still on Medicaid, just a different Medicaid plan that the traditional one.  The new plan has a facade built in front of it to make it look and feel like private insurance, even though its Medicaid money (ironically, Arkansas Blue Cross is one of those companies forming the facade, and getting a cut in the process) Because Barnes seems unwilling to admit that the "private" option is really just the Medicaid Expansion called for under Obamacare dressed in a hat and sunglasses he has to write like these are two different things.  

It is no wonder Arkansans are picking the kind of people they have for public office, if this is the kind of mis-information and mis-education they are getting from the state media. (For a more humorous look at my views on Arkansas newspapers click here) We are not going to get better government until we either get a better media, or quit listening to the one mis-informing us.

Forum Over Article V Convention, Mark Moore vs. Randy Alexandar

Recently the Washington County Tea Party had a forum over whether they should support an Article V convention to amend the constitution.  I argued against it until we had both a state legislature and a Congress we could trust.  Former State Representative Randy Alexander argued that the time is now. Here is the link to the main part of the meeting.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Article V Convention Debate: Conventions, Courts, Constitutions, and Congress

Thirty minute audio...

Mark visits with Antone Blansett about both Article V conventions in general....and the specific proposal from "Compact for America".

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Asa Care and Celebrating Generational Looting

It looks like the Governor is among those Republicans who believe they are the first ones in history smart enough to make socialism work.  But as Margaret Thatcher observed, the problem with socialism is that pretty soon you run out of other people's money.  The solution today's politicians have hit upon is to use the next generation's money to finance their extravagance.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sorting Through the Noise on SB 96 and THE REAL PROBLEM

"When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” - Thomas Sowell

I would ask you to keep the above quote in mind, my fellow citizens, and forgive me if some of the things I write today have too fine a point. I ask that you look past any discomfort my words may cause.  Judge me not according to any sting you might feel from what I say. My words are true and my motives in writing them are not to hurt you, but to help you.  If you must judge me, I ask that you do so on that basis.

First of all, Governor Asa Hutchinson's plans set the stage for continued Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Arkansas. I think what he wants is going to be something halfway between Romneycare and the Obamacare program which it inspired. He has not said this outright, but if you think this through, as we will together later on, then it is clear that he does. For those supporters of his who would protest that I should not put words in his mouth, I will keep it short:  He has only himself to blame. If the man does not want people speculating about what he wants then he should get off the fence and say what he wants in plain English.

So, the answer from our ruling class, after all of this, is more government. This even though the voters have made it crystal clear in multiple elections that they did not want into Obamacare to begin with, and they have voted to take us out of it ever since. This continues a long tradition of the Democrats expanding government, and Republicans elected to reduce it instead deciding they should expand it too, but more efficiently. There is your choice America, And you say we don't really have self-government anymore.

When you look beneath the shell games, this Medicaid expansion simply borrows money from the next generation in order to subsidize health insurance for able-bodied adults.  Further, the program is not sustainable because the money to pay for it does not exist and never existed. When today's politicians max out the credit capacity of your children the world will quit loaning us money and this and other unaffordable government will end (badly). The hospitals, the Obama administration, and others who are raking in the extra money love it.

If you think this is good public policy, you should support the Governor's program, if you think its a bad idea you should oppose it.  The only thing I would fault you for is if you supported something (or were silent about something) that you were formerly actively against just because now the Governor wants it.

The administration and many legislators are going around telling people that Hutchinson's plans will "end the private option."   Much like when Bill Clinton said that he did not have "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky, they are not technically lying, you just have to listen to them really, really, closely.  The so-called "private" option was a specific set of temporary waivers applied to Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  Those waivers are temporary and go away anyway at the end of 2016.  If nothing else replaces them, then as it stands we go to the standard Medicaid expansion without any special waivers.

When conservative grassroots objected that the "private" option was Medicaid expansion, certain Republican legislators swore up and down that it wasn't.  Over time, it became obvious they were not being honest about that.  Now the Hutchinson plan comes along and says that we should get a study group together so that when the collection of temporary waivers known as the "private" option expire they can ask for a different set of waivers.  If the legislature accepts those waivers, Medicaid expansion stays, they just change the tweaks attached to it.

If that happens, everyone upset at the "private" option should still be upset.  That is because they were not upset at the tweaks to Medicaid expansion called the "private" option, they were upset at what was being tweaked- Medicaid expansion.  Keeping the same program with different tweaks does not address the underlying objection, but some legislators are using a verbal shell game to mislead their constituents about what is really going on.

But does the Hutchinson bill, SB96 run by his close relative Senator Jim Hendren, really aide the cause of Medicaid expansion, or does it provide a path to end Medicaid expansion?  There have been claims both ways.  What is the answer?  Like the Governor's intent, it is opaque and difficult to sort out, but I believe the best answer is that the bill provides a possible way to end Medicaid expansion a few months before it would end anyway at the potential risk of providing it a pathway making it permanent (at least until it helps bankrupt us).

Sen. Hendren argues that his bill is the only way to repeal Medicaid expansion that can get enough votes to pass.   If you are not thinking it through, his claim sounds plausible, and it may well be that he himself believes it.   Consider that the legislature has three main factions on this issue now.  One is mostly the Democrats, who will agree to any Medicaid expansion that the Obama Administration will approve, including one without special waivers.   There are a lot more Republicans than Democrats in the legislature but they are split between a second group, those who take the position of most voters in this state (no to any sort of Obamacare Medicaid expansion) and a third group who feel that they are the first people in human history smart enough to make socialism work.  That last group consists of what is left of the group that supported the Private Option and others who think that while those waivers did not work out, maybe others will.  I believe the Governor to be in this category as well, and so a lot of legislators who were in the firm "no" category are going over to the "let's grow government smarter" category.

So is Hendren right?  Is SB 96 the best way to end Medicaid expansion given the make up of the legislature? Here is the flaw in that thinking: His bill funds Medicaid expansion until the waivers required to pass it in the first place end anyway.  Hendren says that without the repeal in SB96 that once the waivers expire we will be stuck with standard Medicaid expansion with no tweaks (waivers).  I would answer "for how long though"?  Only until the next legislature sat down in January of 2017.   If the Governor's office said "no waivers" then the Democrats would be isolated.   The group of Republicans who opposed this from the start, and the group who would only vote for Medicaid expansion if they got to tinker with it, would be against going on with the program.  The Republican party would be re-united, and in a way that pleases the majority of the voters.

The provision in Hendren's bill to shut down Medicaid at the end of 2016 is little more than a fig leaf.  It gives those who really want to shut it down next to nothing, while the rest of his bill undermines them terribly.  A glance at the bill shows that supporters of the original "private" option will pick the lion's share of the "Task Force" members who will give recommendations. A best case scenario for Hendren's bill would be if it shut down the Medicaid expansion a couple of months earlier than would happen anyway without his bill.   The worst case scenario seems more likely- that it keeps factions one and three above working together and isolates those who are listening to the voters and want to end this thing now.

Further proof that Hutchinson wants some sort of Medicaid expansion and that those who support SB 96 are (wittingly or unwittingly) helping him, is the way they have blocked alternative bills that really did wind down Medicaid expansion.  I am talking about SB 144 by Linda Collins-Smith and a similar measure in the house sponsored by Donnie Copeland.   Those bills never got out of committee.

Senator Hendren says a bill that Private Option supporters can vote for is the only kind of bill that can pass. Even if that is true, if Senator Hendren really does want to shut down Medicaid as he claims, then he and the rest should do everything they can to get those bills re-filled and voted on by the full house and senate.  If he is wrong and one of those bills passes, Medicaid expansion is gone sooner, before it further distorts our medical infrastructure.  But even if he is right and the bills fail, having a vote will give the voters valuable information on who they need to target.  We can't tell a thing about all those freshmen or potential flip-floppers by how they vote on SB 96, because as the Senator himself says, it is a bill that even those who want Medicaid to stay swollen can vote for.  We the People can get him the most help if there is a floor vote on those kinds of alternatives.
And now we get to the real point of the article.  The part you may not care for because it may require change of you, and not just them.  The aspect of this drama that is most shocking to many people watching is the speed and even ferocity with which many of the formerly most steadfast opponents of Medicaid expansion are lining up behind the Governor's plan, even though that plan is, when properly analyzed as above, pro-Medicaid expansion.  Why are they flipping, or at the least, why are they so reluctant to see what the rest of us can see?

The answer is simple, the Governor is of their own party now.  It was bad when a Democrat was doing it, but now that it is a member of their own party doing it, well, as Upton Sinclair once noted "it is hard to get a man to see something when his salary depends on him not seeing it."  There place in the party hierarchy, in being in "the club" depends upon them not seeing it. That explains why some legislators have been lashing out at people who point to the widening gap between how these legislators wish to see themselves and what they are actually doing. 

The point is that when a legislator's party holds the Governorship or the Presidency, the typical response of legislators is that they don't really need constituents anymore- they work for the Executive branch. Thus it is that the People's Branch, that entity most accessible to the citizens, becomes lost to them. This is how the unitary party system, where the same organization sends up candidates for all branches of government at all levels of government, undermines the formal system of checks and balances established by the Founders to protect the American people from their government.

The bottom line is that if you want your legislators to represent you instead of the Governor, you are going to have to quit electing them via the same political organization which elects the executive branch.   You will have to elect them as, for example, independents.   Until you do, the effect you see right now on this issue will keep happening over and over and over.  I am a part of Neighbors of Arkansas, a group which helps independent candidates who answer only to their constituents and not a party label run from DC. I ask you to consider signing up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Sidebar Ad

This is our clunky way of uploading the image for the new sidebar ad.

Friday, January 02, 2015

"Hypocrite of the Year" Nominee Nate Bell

Nate Bell (R) Mena - Don't you just want to hug him?

I know it is only January 2nd, but it looks like Representative Nate Bell has already separated himself from the field in the race for "Hypocrite of the Year".   Last year's hypocrisy was bad enough, like his vote for the "Ethics Reform" measure which was unethically worded to fool people into believing that it was a measure to "establish" term limits when it really weakened existing term limits laws to the point that they are all but meaningless.  But most legislators did that. Yet even in a group capable of passing off something sleazy as an "ethics" bill, Nate Bell stands out.   His actions are so over-the-top ridiculous that I can't see anyone else passing him up for "Hypocrite of the Year", and that is with 362 days left.  

Nate Bell ran for office telling people that he was against the "private" option- the version of Obamacare that Arkansas Republicans crafted which enabled the federal Medicare money to pass through an extra private set of hands, hands which donated to them.  He later flipped and voted to spend the money on it anyway, all the while claiming he was still against it.  He voted for it because he was against it? What helped him is that the money he voted to spend is mostly federal money.  It will be borrowed federal money of course, because we can't fund all of the federal government we have now without debt, much less expand government without debt.   But again that was last year's hypocrisy.  Since then he has upped his game to a whole new level. 

Nate Bell just filed a resolution calling for a convention for the purpose of adopting what he calls a balanced budget amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution.  Yes friends, that is correct.  After  voting last year to authorize spending FEDGOV money that FEDGOV does not have,  Representative Bell urges an amendment to the constitution for the alleged purpose of stopping FEDGOV from spending money that FEDGOV does not have.   Denial is not just a river in Egypt- its Nate Bell's attitude toward his own brazenly contradictory actions.  The man has simply crafted himself into the Rembrandt of B.S. artists.

He is telling FEDGOV that they need to be made to stop doing something that he just voted for them to do!   It is like lecturing people that they need to get their finances in order while using their credit cards to go on a buying binge!   Bell and I have tangled on debt before, like when he wanted to borrow $575 million dollars for routine road maintenance (that one is worth a read for many reasons).  This is a man who loves debt in practice.  That is the truth about who he is.  Yet he will look you right in the eye and proudly tell you that he is a "fiscal conservative".   

But maybe he is consistent after all, the consistency being an elaborate facade of conservatism concealing a core of big-spending statism so long as its the next generation who will be stuck with the bills.  A close look at the proposed amendment reveals it to be, much like its sponsor, mostly a fraud.  For one thing the debt limit set by the amendment could be over-ridden by a two-thirds vote of the state legislatures.   

Let's see, Arkansas has a budget of around $25 billion and our state taxes cover about $5 billion of that with most of the rest coming from FEDGOV. FEDGOV prints money out of thin air, lays the debt on our kids, then uses the money for various programs to bribe state government into doing what the elites want instead of what voters in the state want.  In other words, just like they did with Medicaid expansion for able bodied adults with the "private" option.  Do you really think state legislators are going to vote to cut what has become their own budgets?  Not as long as we have guys like Bell himself in there. Bell was part of the super-majority who voted to spend that money, so how much of a deterrent will this be again?  

But it goes on.  While it does say it takes a super-majority of congress to raise income tax rates, a simple majority is all it takes to eliminate deductions under the proposed amendment.  The deductions for children and homes will be prime targets when the money runs out.   The other loophole it leaves open is the so-called "fair" tax or national sales tax.   That would be a disaster for a whole different set of reasons which are beyond the scope of this article.  Basically if you think its bad that the IRS can audit your income, wait until they start auditing your spending.

So the whole thing looks like a show so big-spenders like Nate Bell can beat their chests about how they want a "balanced budget amendment" while their own votes are part of the reason why FEDGOV's budget is not balanced.   To cover for this they loudly offer a phony proposal with a good title.   Normally this sort of preening is disgusting for its self-serving disingenuousness but otherwise mostly harmless.  This time however, Bell is proposing messing with the U.S. Constitution as part of the ongoing effort to kid you, him, or both about what kind of legislator he really is.    

What they are doing is calling for an Article V convention to amend the constitution.  They think they can control and limit this process to a balanced budget amendment, but that's just their hubris talking.  They can't and here are some reasons why, and also here.  With the congress and courts we have now this process is extremely risky, and since the proposed amendment won't solve the problem it purports to solve there is no real upside, just a gigantic risk that those who get this ball rolling won't be able to stop it from running over the Constitution.  That is too much to risk just so Nate Bell can continue to pretend to himself and some of you that he is a fiscal conservative.  

Look changing the constitution is not the answer when the problem is they are ignoring the one we've got.   You can't make enough rules to force rascals to use power justly, what you have to do first is quit electing rascals.  With our current captured two-party system weeding out people of integrity who listen to the voters rather than the elites, that is very hard to do.  That's why I advocate a return to self-government where local people recruit and nominate their own candidates to run as independents who don't answer to the system, who don't answer to the party, and who don't answer to the John Boehner's of the world.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dismang's Tungsten Balloon on Obamacare

Senator Jonathan Dismang is the President Pro Tem elect of the Arkansas State Senate.  He is one of the architects of the dishonestly-named "private" option - Arkansas version of Obamacare in which the Medicaid money passes through the hands of GOP-friendly special interests on its way to providing welfare to able-bodied adults in the form of heavily subsidized health insurance.   It is all done with borrowed federal money until 2017, at which point Arkansas has to start chipping in.  The money to pay for all of these promises does not exist.  It only looks like a "good deal" now because for the first few years the feds are passing all of the bills for it to the next generation.

Most Arkansas Republican legislators rewarded their base who worked so hard to get them re-elected by immediately confirming pro-Obamacare Dismang as Pro Tem.  That was sarcasm in case you missed it, and more on that sorry episode can be found here.  For several elections now, the people of Arkansas have voted against candidates who supported the state's continued entanglement with Obamacare.  But while the citizens are on one side, the lobbyists are on the other.  The special interests want the "free" (i.e. stolen from the next generation) money to continue flowing.  So no matter how many Republicans who claim that they want to end the "private" option version of Obamacare that people vote in, pro-Obamacare guys like Dismang wind up in charge and the "private" option keeps getting re-authorized.

A new session is about to start with an even larger crop of candidates elected on a platform of ditching the "private" option.   At some point, continuing to fund the private option when it only takes 25% + 1 vote of the legislature to stop it just gets downright embarrassing.  Everyone who is not a willing dupe or brain dead will at last figure out that those who want a limited-government conservative party will have to start one themselves.  Voters don't want the "private" option, Republican County Chairmen don't want the "private" option, but even though a small minority of the legislature could block it at any time it just keeps getting authorized and funded.  If they don't stop it this time then it just becomes too obvious that voters don't control that party, nor do county chairman control it- they only get their good names tarnish and their efforts toward public service wasted when it only answers to special interests or party headquarters in Washington.

So what is needed, from the view of the political class on the Republican side, is some way to give cover to their set course of blowing off their own grassroots, local chairman, and voters generally. Five days ago, while normal people were busy with Christmas, Dismang floated his trial balloon, no doubt hoping that the failure of the people to take notice and be outraged would provide the political cover he needed.  This idea would empower him to lean on people elected on a platform of stopping the "private option" to break their word to their constituents and vote to fund it anyway.

What he suggested was that adding a requirement that those able bodies adults receiving "free" (paid for by your kids since it is financed largely by debt) health insurance under the "private" option be required to either work or be "actively seeking" work.   This appears to be what he considers "dramatically" altering his version of Obamacare.

What an intense insult to our intelligence this farce of a proposal is. I think most of us who have worked at large employers saw what happened when unemployment benefits got stretched to 99 weeks.  Even more people came in and wasted HR's time by "applying" for jobs that they had no intention of taking if offered.  I remember one place I worked at some years ago that these people would show up for the "application" dressed in filthy rags and obviously high just to make sure they did not get hired, but by golly they met the requirement of "actively seeking" work!  If one did get hired by mistake, they would not show up for work.

Businesses started retaliating by moving to online-only applications, or even saying you could not apply for a job with them unless you were already working!   They started saving the serious applications and not taking any new ones.  FEDGOV responded with their usual ham-fistedness- telling employers they could not keep applications more than a short period of time so that HR would have to take "applications" from more deadbeats, wasting everyone in the private sector's time but keeping that government paperwork flowing smoothly.

No, adding such a requirement to Obamacare does not "dramatically" change the "private" option.  Voting for a "private" option with a work or seek work requirement is not voting for anything meaningfully different than voting for the original "private" option.  Dimang may be trying to float the idea that it is so that those who told you they would vote against the "private" option can vote for it anyway and then come home and tell you that they did not vote to fund the old private option they campaigned against, they voted to fund something "dramatically" different because it added the "work or seek work" requirement.  If any politician insults your intelligence by looking you in the eye and telling you this I hope that you will have the moral courage to tell them to their faces that they are liars.  I know I will.

At some point, the people we elect simply must do what they said they would do when they ran.  They must quit acting shocked and offended when we expect them to do exactly what they said they would do when they ran.  When they lie to our faces, they have no right whatsoever to expect us to speak of them as anything but liars.   If they do not wish to be called liars then they should stop lying.  It really is that simple.

My expectation is that they will fund the private option, they will continue to brazenly ignore the voters and even their own local party folks. Then they will aggravate this profound multi-year display of disrespect by giving some DOA, fundamentally dishonest excuse like the one I outlined above.  They will do this for as long as you the voter will accept it and continue to hold your nose and vote for them.  In that sense, they don't deserve all of the blame for lying to you, some of you deserve part of the blame for allowing yourself to continually be lied to and disrespected while still supporting their party in general and voting for them in particular.

I suggest we start our own grassroots groups to locally elect independents to the state legislature, and for county offices.   This experiment we have been trying where we outsource the job of representing our interests to this DC based organization whose candidates have been lying to us so often is a complete failure.   We should revert to self-government.  Is that more work?  Sure, but freedom is worth it, and we are not going to stay free any other way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fayetteville First City to Reject Gay Agenda Ordinance

A national campaign by the so-called "Human Rights Campaign" to pass city ordinances that would enact punitive measures on businesses which did not submit to the homosexual/transgender agenda met its first defeat in Fayetteville last night. The measure, largely the brain-child of "Human Rights Campaign" founder and accused child rapist Terry Bean, called for a city commission to assess daily fines on local businesses which failed to accommodate homosexuals and transgendered persons to the degree an appointed commission felt they should.

In other cities, this has included forcing business owners to permit patrons to use whatever restroom they felt they identified with that day rather than their actual sex.  Opponents pointed to several reports of predatory males using the cover of the ordinance to gain access to women's restrooms in order to victimize women.   It was the battle over the same type of ordinance which led the lesbian Mayor of Houston Texas to attempt to subpoena the sermons of five area churches.

The Human Rights Campaign had targeted 200 cities. mostly with large universities like Fayetteville, where they set a goal of seeing the ordinance enacted.   Though the ordinance remains controversial in many cities they were more than halfway towards accomplishing that goal without a single defeat, until now.   In Fayetteville's case, they persuaded the City Council to vote it in over the protests of those who felt it should go to the ballot.   A provision in the city charter allowed citizens to place a repeal of any ordinance on the ballot if they got the required signatures.   Opponents did so, and the special election was held last night.  Despite an all-out effort of the city council, and the far better organization of the pro-ordinance side, the ordinance was repealed by a 52% to 48% vote.  This makes Fayetteville Arkansas the first such city to reject the proposal.

Not only was this noteworthy because it represents the first time in the nation citizens have successfully pushed back against this aggressive effort to use state force to demand compliance, but several other noteworthy things occurred.

One was that this was the first time I have ever seen a side down so much in early voting come back and win.   Early voting was heavy for the type of election it was, and the pro-ordinance side (due to their superior organization) had a twelve point lead.   They went from being up by twelve in early voting to losing by four overall.   I have never seen that happen.   The overall results are virtually always within three points of the early voting.

The second notable from this event is what led to the first:  Churches were actually being churches.  Local churches stepped up and told their congregations about the special election and urged them to go to the polls and vote to repeal the measure.  Readers of this space will know that I am not a fan of churches being captured by politicians or political parties, but speaking the truth on issues is one thing they ought to be doing.   That is why the pro-ordinance side won early voting, but lost big on election day.  Most voters for the pro-freedom side did not even know there was an election until Sunday.

The third notable was that the Republican Party did not accomplish this repeal, it was local citizens reverting to the novel concept of self-government.   The local Republican Party had no role, they basically sat this one out, though some of the best workers in the repeal effort were also members of a Republican Women's group.  I stopped by the victory party and saw all kinds of people there, Republicans, Democrats, and Awake.

The last notable is the decption.  The proponents of this measure were all about the homosexual agenda, but they masked what they were doing as a campaign for "equality" and "civil rights".   They tried to hide in a crowd of other groups, groups not based on behavior such as race, where there is still guilt and a stigma to racism.  I have to believe that many people who voted for this ordinance to stay in place did not really understand what they were voting for.  They just heard the right buzzwords.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

A Better College Football Playoff System

The results on the field this year have created a perfect storm for the new four-team college football playoff system.   It is a nightmare, a near worst-case scenario which will result in calls for changes to the system,  For how to fix it, real on....

Problem: too many places worthy contenders can come from relative to the number of playoff spots.  There are ten Division One FBS conferences in America, five "Major" conferences and five "Mid-Majors" such as Conference USA or the MAC.   There are also a few independents floating around out there, most notably Notre Dame and BYU.   With five major conferences, the present four team playoff system was bound to leave one of the major conference champions out of the play-offs.  If Notre Dame or Boise State had been strong, then they may have knocked another major conference champion out of the playoffs.

The mid-majors and the independents did not pose any problems this year, but they could in future years, and everything else that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  One of the major conference champions, probably a very impressive Ohio State team, will not get a chance to compete.  Then add to it the wild-card - the so-called "Big 12" only has ten teams left in it, so they don't have a conference championship game.

The worst thing in the Big 12 that could happen for the four-team playoff would be that two of those teams are awesome and that when they played each other during the regular season it was a super-close game with the home team narrowly winning (making people wonder what would happen if the game were replayed on neutral turf).    That was just what happened, because both Baylor and TCU look good enough to deserve a shot in the playoffs.  To make it worse, Baylor won the head to head with TCU, but TCU appears to be the one going to the playoff.

Look, it is college, so you want to keep the playoffs as short as possible.  The thing is, four games is too few to really resolve this, and with five major conferences and a couple of strong independents and many mid-majors out there they should have realized it.

How would I fix it?   You have to have three games.  The conference champions from each of the five Majors would have a slot.  The sixth slot would be the wild-card, filled by either the highest ranked independent team, or a rare outstanding team from the mid-majors, or a situation like the one we have now in the Big 12 where it looks like a conference has two worthy teams.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Judge Baker Squanders More Judicial Branch Credibility With Marriage Ruling

I see that Federal Judge Kristine Baker has struck down Arkansas' amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.   She did so on the basis of the claim that  to"deny consenting adult same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry in violation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Don’t think that I am an enemy of the judicial branch or contemptuous of the law. The truth is just the opposite. It is my love for our system of government, with checks and balances and high-minded concepts like Due Process, which makes me so incensed at their cheapening. We are headed for tough times in this nation. It will not be my doing, I am only foretelling. We are going to need a judicial branch that has credibility and moral authority to help hold our society together in the coming hard times. 
That is why I object so strongly to doctrinaire leftists squandering the credibility of the judiciary by making ill-informed decisions such as the one Judge Baker just imposed on the people of this state, though to her credit she stayed implementation of her ruling pending an appeal.

Before I explain why she (like most recent courts) are using a new, novel, and erroneous, definition of the terms "equal protection" and "due process", let me point out something about the 14th amendment.   It is a mess. It turns most of the Bill of Rights on its head by putting the feds in charge of the states when the Bill of Rights were originally given to limit the federal government's power over the states.  But even then the judges are not using it right, because they often simply ignore the last clause "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

So you see judges are not supposed to use this amendment to manufacture new and novel "rights" out of thin air on the basis of the 14th, because the amendment itself says that the Congress, not the courts, have the power to enforce the provisions of the article.   Congress has passed no law mandating state recognition of homosexual "marriages".   If Congress has done anything to speak to the issue, it has done the reverse.  It has tried to say that for federal purposes marriage was the union of one man and one woman.  Yet perversely, the courts have thrown that law out too, on the basis of what they (judges) feel the 14th says despite the clear language of the article that any enforcement of the article must come from legislation passed by Congress.

But even if that provision did not exist, she would still be getting it wrong because she gets "Due Process" and "Equal Protection" wrong.  By "wrong" I mean she uses the new meanings of the term that judges have created for themselves to leverage their power and destroy self-government rather than the traditional definitions back when judicial restraint was more appreciated and practiced.

Let’s start with “Due Process”. In our system, everyone is entitled to it, but what is it? In the traditional view it means that agents of the government must act within the law when they enforce the law. For example, if they search your home without probable cause and without a warrant, they have violated your Due Process rights. The same goes if the arresting agents attempt to beat a confession out of you. If you are not allowed access to legal council when they try you, they have violated your Due Process rights. If they attempt to convict you of a felony without giving you the right to a trial by jury, they have violated your Due Process rights. 

In each of these cases, the point of Due Process is to make agents of the government follow their own laws when meting out justice. This view of Due Process is the traditional one, but radical activist judges have expanded judicial power by claiming that “Due Process” can be used to void the substance of laws, not simply validate the procedures used to enforce them. 

If I could give a more concrete example, suppose there was no law in Arkansas against driving while under the influence of alcohol. The people corrected this by passing such a law via ballot amendment. If the law said that police can arrest people and assign them 30 days in jail without bail and without seeing a judge, then this procedural aspect of the law would be a violation of Due Process. If throwing that provision out was all Baker did, that would be good, its how judges are supposed to protect us. But that is not what she has done. What she has done is the equivalent of saying that the people do not have a right to determine who can drive on public roads based on their behavior. It’s like claiming that people have a fundamental right to drive even if they drink up, shoot up, or snort up. It further claims that this “right” trumps the rights of any of the rest of us to try and protect ourselves and others by putting up legal barriers to behavior we have good reason to suspect will cause damage to innocents. 

The very term “Due Process” makes it clear that it is the procedures used by government agents that judges are authorized to rule on, not the substance of what the law determines is legal or illegal. 

Words mean things. "Equal" means something. It means "of the same value". Two men having sex may be "equivalent" to a man and a woman having sex, but it is not "equal". Two people shacking up together does not have the same social value as two people who have committed to one another before God and Man in marriage. Claiming that those two things are “equal”, that is, of equal value, devalues that choice which is really of greater value by pretending that it is not. Thus a logical case can be made that treating co-habitation as equal to marriage unjustly de-values marriage. Equal protection should not mean that all choices are equal, just that the law will protect even people who make disfavored choices or belong to disfavored groups.

Equal protection means just that, protection. It has nothing to do with what activities the law condemns. It has everything to do with the government protecting the victims of crimes by punishing those who victimized them. If crimes against blacks or gays were not investigated, or prosecuted, then they don't have equal protection. They should, that is what Equal Protection is all about.

For that matter, even drug dealers and muggers should be protected by the law. If someone just decided to blow them away because “they were criminals anyway” the law would take offense. And it should take offense because even those whose behavior is in disfavor in one area still have the right to Equal Protection under the law. As applied to this case, it does not mean that the People don’t have the authority to decide what we want to honor and recognize as a valid marriage. 

So in summary, Due Process is not a blank check for activist judges to throw out the substance of laws passed by the People. Rather it means that agents of the government should follow their own laws in enforcing the law. Equal protection does not mean that the law must treat all choices, marriage, co-habitation, necrophilia, drug-use, etc…., as equal as regards to eligibility to adopt children. It simply means that that the law should protect disfavored groups equally, even while the People retain the right to make certain choices and activities illegal or legally disfavored.