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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Musings on the Nature of the Trinity

For more detail about one God as a higher-ordering being resolving the paradox of the Trinity please see my previous post on the nature of the Trinity.

I had written earlier about how man is made in God's image so that what we have in a body (and mind), soul (emotions and basic desires) and a spirit (a life force which animates and connects the two, and values connection to the Divine) are mere shadows of God's version of these features, so that with Him each of these things is a complete personality, separate in will but united in Nature.  In fact the root word for "image" where it says in Genesis Chapter 1 that man was made in God's "image" is the word for "shadow".

Man is a "flattened" version of the original.   You might imagine us as two-dimensional representations of what was three dimensional.   The features you see on the image won't be as complete, won't have all of the same texture and capabilities, as the 3D original.    The soul of Man is a flattened (and now unfortunately marred by sin) image of who God the Father is.  Our body and LOGOS, the reasoning principle of the mind is a flattened image (again marred by sin) of God the Son, who can be in absolute service to the Father because His emotions and intentions are all Holy (since ours are not, our reason is often at war with our intentions and emotions).  Our desire to connect with others, especially the perfect fellowship of the Divine, on the deepest levels, is a flattened image of God the Spirit.   It is opposed by our Flesh, which wants to turn the focus away from such fellowship and subordinate it to other appetites.  Since God has no Sin Nature, He has no counterpart to our Flesh.  All of His appetites are subordinated, or I should say in perfect agreement with, those of the Spirit- the desire for perfect fellowship is pre-eminent.

Muslims sometimes say that Christians worship three Gods.   This is of course not true.   Our dispute with them is not over the number of Gods, but the nature of God.   He is a higher-order being than we are.  We are mere shadows or images of what He truly is, and the parts of the image must necessarily have less depth and texture as their corresponding parts on an original expressed in more dimensions.  Note this does not apply when an image is made of an image.  That is, when the Bible says someone had a son "in their image" the loss of texture and dimension argument does not apply because you are making an image of an image (no dimensionality is lost) whereas when God made man that was creating an image of an original (dimensionality was lost).  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Herd Closes Ranks in Garland County

I had written earlier about how activists in Garland County were trying a magnificent experiment- they were reverting to self-government!  Instead of accepting whatever candidates they are offered from either half of the one party with two-faces (and here) that has so mismanaged the country, they picked their own candidates.   Then they helped them get on the ballot as independents.   One of those candidates went down to defeat, but the other, Mike McCormack, is in a run-off with Republican Fred Hawthorne for Sheriff of Garland County.

McCormack is the former Chief of Police for the city of Hot Springs, by far the largest in Garland County.   Hawthorne is a corporal in the Sheriff's Department.   While both seem to be good men, qualification gap in the two is as wide as the Grand Canyon.  McCormick is running on his qualifications.  Hawthorne seems to be putting his chips on herd-identification.

Look at that list of Republican office holders who have endorsed Hawthorne.  Tom Cotton, Bruce Westerman, Asa Hutchinson, Tim Griffin, Leslie Rutledge, Dennis Milligan, John Thurston, and then some local ones.  Maybe he used their names without permission.  That is not all that unlikely considering Hawthorne ran an ad in the paper right before voting began that claimed he had a poll showing him with 68% of the vote.  His actual vote was 43%,

Why did the Hawthorne campaign spend good money to propagate this falsehood about his support levels?  There is a certain weak-minded segment of the voters who will vote for whoever they perceive is winning.  These people are losers, a drag on good government, who somehow feel that  it will make them into "winners" if they vote for the one who wins.  In what looks to be an effort to fool such herd-thinkers, Hawthorne ran an ad claiming he levels of support over 50% greater than the support he actually had.

If those candidates did give permission for their names to be used, then it is pretty clear what their priorities are.  It would mean that each would rather their political tribe win one local election than see the citizens of Garland County have a well-qualified Sheriff.  That's party over principle, and party over people even.  At least people outside their clique.  

This is the problem with party spirit.  It can't admit the truth.  It forces even the good ones to take up for the bad ones.   That is why it is so morally corrosive.  Not only can they not admit to the simple fact that McCormick is the better candidate, the worse their candidate is relative to the competition, the harder they must work to prop him up.   You don't see the good candidates for Sheriff around the state advertise the list of state-wide and federal politicians who endorse them.  They can stand on their own feet.  When one can't, the party rallies to support them, and thus actively works against good government.

I hope that the citizens of Garland county can see past "celebrity endorsements" from just-elected politicians who have done nothing for them, representing the interests of a political party which has done nothing for them, and simply vote for the best candidate on the ballot regardless of labels.   I applaud the activists in Garland county who decided to try reverting to self-government.  We at Neighbors of Arkansas believe there should be more of us who are sick of the way the two parties are destroying America (or if you like, one destroys America and the other pretends to be the opposition to it but never really does anything about it) and are willing to do something about it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Arkansas Senate Republicans Can Avoid Enraging Their Base, Even With Dismang as Pro Tem

I am not sure that the Republican party is even interested in pleasing their base anymore.   Though professional excuse-makers try to spin it, there is now there is plenty of evidence to suggest they are merely the controlled opposition for one pro-government party which has two faces, even if not all of their officeholders are in on the deception.

The Arkansas Senate is a good example of the profound disrespect the Republican political class routinely displays for those who fought hardest to put them in office.   The message of not only the base but the people of Arkansas generally, was that they rejected the Democrats and they rejected Obamacare. This includes the so-called "Private" option endorsed and funded by the majority of Republican Senators in 2012.

The "Private" option (which is not even really private, it just has private entities benefiting from a government program) is nothing other than the exact method by which the Republicans in Arkansas caved to the Democrats on Obamacare. Pro-"private" option Republicans were rejected by the voters in election after election.   In spite of this, the Republican State Senators are about to march down to Little Rock and vote for one of the architects of the Republican cave on Obamacare as the President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Johnathan Dismang was elected the designated President Pro Tem by the previous Republican Senate- one which had five more pro-"private" option Senators than the current Senate does after the voters did some house-cleaning.   Back then the choices were Dismang and Johnny Key, who was also for Obamacare.   The new crop of senators are mostly acting like they are somehow bound by the actions of the prior, more liberal, Senate in their choice of leader.

Conservative Senators Gary Stubblefield has tried to mount a challenge to this odd choice, but he can't seem to get enough votes. Even some of the more conservative holdovers are acting like they vowed to back Dismang no matter what last year, instead of just selecting him in preference to the other choice at the time- someone who made even more bad calls than he did.

If Dismang had changed, these Senators might be able to argue that they could keep their word to the voters to oppose the "Private" option version of Obamacare even while voting him in as President Pro Tem, but there is little evidence to suggest he has and much to suggest that he has not.   This excellent piece by Conduit for Action explains some of the particulars on that, both in the House and the Senate.

So far I have just outlined the problem.  That is always the easy part.  Fortunately a solution is also available, should the Republicans have any interest whatsoever in pleasing their base, listening to the message the people as a whole just sent at the polls, or even simply keeping their oaths of office.   You see, Dismang is about to be elected to the office of "President Pro Tem" of the Senate.  The "tem" is Latin for "acting" or "temporary".   This raises the question, who is supposed to be "President Pro Permanent"?

According to the Constitution of the Great State of Arkansas, the Lieutenant Governor is to be the President of the Senate.   When Arkansas was a one-party state and that party was the Democrats who tend to a herd mentality even more than the Republicans that did not matter so much. It was all "good ole-boy" stuff so it did not matter how power was divided on paper.  Then Mike Huckabee got elected Lt. Governor and the Democrats changed the rules of the Senate so that the Lt. Governor was stripped of almost all of his power.  If Huckabee had been interested in hanging around as Lt. Governor he might have challenged them on it, but since he was angling on being Governor soon anyway there was no motive for him to press the question.

Other states, such as Texas, have very similar wording in their state constitutions as to the role of the Lt. Governor and in those states the office is very powerful, some would say the most powerful in the state except for Governor.  The difference is not in the wording of the Constitutions, it is that in Texas and other states they follow their state constitution on this question and in Arkansas we have not.   Then our chattering classes in the media make snide remarks about how "useless" the office is.  Well, yes I suppose any office would be "useless" if the legislature made an extra-constitutional move which had the effect of stripping away its most important function, but that does not mean the office is worthless, it means the legislature is derelict.

Our state at one time thought it important that at least one chamber of the legislature be presided over by a person who answered to all of the people of the state, not just a single legislative district.  That is why we need a Lt.Governor.   We saw what happened in the House last year, when Davy Carter went crazy and tried to make the house vote on the exact same bill, day after day until they gave him the vote that he wanted.   I was disgusted by it, but he was not "my" legislator and did not answer to me.  At least one chamber of the legislature should be run by someone who answers to the whole state, and that is what the Lt. Governor is for.

It is interesting to note that some senators have talked of sponsoring a bill that would ask people to vote to abolish the office of Lt. Governor.  And with Amendment three passing (using deceptive language that it would "establish" term limits when it was in fact greatly weakening them) Dismang could wind up as President Pro Tem not for one or two sessions, but for many years.  My position is that a man who wants that much power should have to answer to the whole state, not just one Senate district.

Look, I am not a Tim Griffin fan, to put it mildly.  People who read my stuff know that, but this is not about my personal preferences, this is about the Rule of Law.  The fact is he is Lt. Governor and the Constitution says that the Lt. Governor is the President of the Senate.   He ran on the idea that the Lt. Governor is President of the Senate.  He should be making all of the decisions that the "President Pro Tem" has been making in our recent history, including who chairs what committee.

All of those Senators who won't back Stubblefield over Dismang because they  "gave their word" that they would vote Dismang for Pro Tem can still vote Dismang for Pro Tem, but if they want to also "keep their word" to the voters to oppose the "private" option and uphold their oath to the state Constitution then they should do two more things.  They should vote to repeal the rules the Senate put in after Huckabee was elected which stripped the Lt. Governor of power the state constitution says he should have and replace those rules with ones that comport with what the Constitution says.   Then they should call up Griffin and ask him to get to work.

Amendment 6, section five of the Arkansas Constitution reads...

5. Qualifications and duties of Lieutenant Governor - Succession to the governorship.
The Lieutenant Governor shall possess the same qualifications of eligibility for the office as the
Governor. He shall be President of the Senate, but shall have only a casting vote therein in case
of a tie vote.

In Robert's Rules of Order as they were at the time, it was typical that the Chairman or whoever was presiding over a voting body only vote in the case of a tie.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Rush an Excuse-Making Machine for the Controlled Opposition

 'The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.'- Lenin

Rush Limbaugh got on the radio today and said that the Republicans might get a mandate tonight, but he is not sure that they even want one.   I don't think they do either.  He also asked "a mandate to do what" since they have no message and have not said what they would do differently if they win.

The answer to that one is obvious, though Rush Limbaugh did not say it and most Americans are in denial about it anyway.  They would not do anything differently.  Nor have they done anything differently in decades.  Name one major policy difference between G.W. Bush and Barack Obama.  There is none.  Even "Obamacare", the expansion of socialized medicine, was just Bush's Medicare Part D program writ large.   Bush expanded socialized medicine more than anyone since LBJ and Romney developed the template that Obamacare was based on.  Those running both parties want the same thing.  The Republican Establishment does not want to stop Obama.  They share many of his goals, so long as their friends are sufficiently cut in on the loot.   

We have one party with two faces.  Once you accept that, what before was confusing becomes clear.  The one party wants to expand government, because government has become a looting machine for the insiders.  The bigger it gets the more loot it generates.   So the one face of the party has one side that expands government, and the other face pretends to be opposed to them.  They are the controlled opposition.  They don't exist to stop the other face of the party, they are there to absorb the energy and commitment of the people who want to stop it.  They do so in order to control those people, lest their energy and desires become a part of a movement which really wants to do what they only pretend to do.

Of course not all members of the controlled opposition are aware of what they really are, otherwise it would not work.  The ones that are not in on the ruse are attacked mercilessly by the "leadership" of their own party if they ever make a moves that threatens to seriously slow down the looting machine from its smooth operation and constant expansion.    The leadership of both faces of the One party get along with each other much better than they do the outsiders- those not privy to the fraud- in their own party.

Rush Limbaugh keeps saying things about the Republicans like "they seem afraid to boldly express conservative ideas."   That is pathetic excuse making.   They are not afraid of expressing those ideas, they don't agree with those ideas.  They have a distaste for espousing them.   He says things like "we just don't have anybody who is articulate in defending conservatism like the left has."  Do you think out of a Congress and Senate half made of Republicans they could not find one articulate person?   The excuses are absurd.  They are only thrown out there so Americans can keep denying the reality that there is only one party in Washington.

If the Republic is going to be salvaged, people who right now are trying desperately not to see the truth about this subject are going to have to find the courage to face it.   Then they are going to have to look around and find others who have also done so and start the real work of selecting and electing candidates locally.  They are going to have to actually revert to self-government instead of continuing to outsource the job of selecting their leaders and guarding their interests to these thieves in Washington.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

State Senator Bryan Kings Explains Why the PO has Cornered Future Legislatures

State Senator Bryan King of Green Forest has twice made the Arkansas Watch list of Top Ten Legislators.  One reason is that he tells his constituents the truth, even when it paints members of his party in a negative light.  That is a refreshing change from the typical pattern where even the good ones feel obligated to cover for the bad ones.   Here Senator King calmly and rationally explains what a horrible position future legislatures have been placed in by the actions of his Obamacare-loving colleagues. ......

Expanding Obama care in Arkansas has put future state budgets in the red
For the past biennium the architects of the private option have been telling everyone that the health care plan is a good deal for Arkansas. The reality is that the private option implemented Obamacare in Arkansas and is threatening to put future state budgets in the red.
Many voters and legislators have given the benefit of the doubt to the architects of the private option, in large part because we haven't yet had to pay for it.  Even people with the best of intentions may change their minds when the bills come due.

In the case of the private option, Arkansas doesn't have to begin matching federal funding until Fiscal 2017. That presents a grim financial prospect for the freshmen class of legislators who will be elected in November. In January they will take their first oaths of office, and before they complete their legislative careers they will have to figure out how the state can possibly afford hundreds of millions of dollars in additional expenses brought on by the private option.
Based on the state’s economic performance over the past five years, it’s reasonable to assume that state government revenue will grow at a rate of 3.14 percent over the next five years. However, we should keep in mind that assumptions of a 3.14 percent growth rate are an optimistic “best case scenario.”
State revenue growth is slowed by a downturn in the economy, which could result from any number of possibilities – a crisis in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East or a sudden spike in inflation rates, for example.
But if we are willing to assume that nothing unexpected happens in the Middle East or on Wall Street, we are looking at growth in Fiscal Year 2020 of $184 million over the previous year. This year’s freshmen legislators will be the General Assembly’s veteran leaders in the regular session of 2019, when the budget for Fiscal 2020 must be approved. Their duty will be to distribute that $184 million in projected growth to the state agencies that provide vital services.

Traditionally, growth money is distributed to public schools from kindergarten through grade 12, to colleges and universities, to prisons, to health care services and to the many smaller agencies that make up state government. Each entity gets a percentage of the total revenue, which is their traditional “piece of the pie.”
Long-standing tradition may come to an end when budgets for Fiscal Year 2020 are written because the private option is on pace to eat up almost all of the projected growth in revenue. That means schools, colleges, universities and prisons will have to live on less.
Under the provisions of the Arkansas private option, as it’s now written, in Fiscal Year 2020 almost every penny of growth money will be obligated to paying for the private option. Why? Because in Fiscal 2020 the state will have to contribute 10 percent of the total costs of the health plan. Even though 10 percent may not sound like much it will amount to $181 million.
In other words the state Department of Human Services, which administers the private option, will get $181 million of the $184 million in total growth money available in Fiscal 2020. That leaves only $3 million for the entities that have traditionally received a share of each year’s growth - public schools, higher education, cities and counties, prisons, law enforcement and economic development.
Public schools will fare better than others because the Arkansas constitution mandates that the legislature provide for an adequate education. However, the constitution has no similar mandate for higher education, so state-supported colleges and universities are looking at stagnant budgets in Fiscal 2020 and beyond.
If our economy continues to perform as it has for the past five years, and if the private option remains in place, higher education can count on annual increases in their state aid of only 0.22 percent over the next five years. Colleges and universities will have to pay for any increase in operating costs by raising tuition and fees.
Budgets for prisons, drug courts and parole systems are projected to increase at a rate of 2.4 percent a year, again if we base assumptions on the performance of the past five years. The Human Services Department would grow almost twice as fast under this scenario. Its budget would increase by 4.7 percent, mainly because of the necessity of paying for the private option. Arkansas prison officials are pleading for revenue to build more facilities to house the steady and dramatic growth in the inmate population, but there will be no additional funds if the private option absorbs all growth.
If we experience an economic slowdown the private option will become an even greater burden on the public treasury. In that event, state government will have to slash budgets and cut services.

Everyone wants transparency and accountability in government, and everybody has different ideas about how to achieve them. One way is for policy makers to open their eyes and honestly face the issues. We have bought something and soon we will have to pay for it. The architects of the private option have an obligation to look at the numbers and consider the long-term fiscal security of colleges, universities, prisons and the numerous state agencies that stand to lose a share of their state revenue while Human Services receives an ever greater share.
Denial of reality is not constructive and it’s an unwise policy for governing. It’s like throwing your credit card bills in the trash instead of paying them, in the hopes they’ll go away.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Who to Vote for in Fayetteville City Council Races and Why

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.

The city council election in Fayetteville might be the most important election in the state this year.  This is not only because Fayetteville has been a great city, a jewel in the crown of our state, but also because the contrast between the candidates is so vast.  The political distance between even Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor is not so vast as the distance between the liberal-fascist slate of candidates and the "conservatarion" slate.

Fayetteville has had a leftist city council for years.  Most residents put up with it as long as they restricted their activities to pedestrian level incompetence and issuing toothless proclamations about how much better they are than the rest of the state.  The new breed of liberal is not so harmless because the new left does not look much like the old left- rather it looks a lot like the old fascism.

The council passed Ordinance 119.  This measure would set up a commission with the power to fine private businesses $500 per day if the commission felt that the private business was not being accommodating enough to commission-favored groups. Expect the commission to function similar to the one in Colorado who demanded that a baker make a wedding cake for a homosexual "marriage" even if it violates his conscience.   The same thing happened in Oregon. Once privately owned businesses had the right to refuse service to any customer.  Now, that is only true if the customer is not a member of a special class of citizens.

Opponents of 119 say that the ordinance could lead to mandating that businesses allow patrons to use their restrooms according to what gender they claim to identify with, rather than the restroom appropriate to their sex.   Supporters of the measure scoff at these claims, but let me ask you, did any of you think 15 years ago that cake makers would be forced out of business simply for choosing not to make wedding cakes for homosexual "marriages"?

What seems outrageous and outlandish today is what happens a few years down the road.  I can remember when homosexuals were only asking for their acts to be made legal on the basis of "what happens in my bedroom is not the public's business."  I don't want my daughter to have to deal with males lurking about inside the women's restroom at the mall, and based on the history it is not far fetched at all to see that happening under 119 in a few short years.

Look, the "conservatarian" slate is much more conservative and religious than Fayetteville on average, just as the present city council is more authoritarian, aggressively anti-Christian and leftist than Fayetteville on average.  This is a consequence of the big middle not getting very involved in politics.   The media is going to try to tell you that the one side should be disqualified because they are too extreme in their views while failing to inform you that the other side is at least as extreme on the other side.

That is ignoring the important question.  The most important question in this race is not who is the most extreme in their views, but rather who is the most willing to use government force to impose those views on you.  The fascist left wants the machinery of government to impose their views, the libertarian-leaning right have their own views, but they don't want to use the machinery of government to impose them on you- they want to destroy the machinery.  The conservatarians who are running are not running so that they can seize control of this "Civil Rights" commission and start using it to beat up on businesses which discriminate against Christians.  Rather they are running so that they can abolish this commission altogether.

So this election, citizens of Fayetteville, is not a question of who is left or who is right.  It is not even a question of whether homosexual marriage should be recognized by the state.   It is an election between freedom and fascism.   Those who want fascism simply because today the machinery favors their cause are fools, for it may favor a cause which they oppose tomorrow.   The best policy is freedom from government interference so that voluntary choices between individuals defines our society.   Dismantle the machine so that none of us have to worry about it being seized by this faction or that one and used against us or our neighbors.

With that being said. here is the Freedom Ticket....
Paul Phaneuf for the Ward One  (south half of town) seat held by incumbent Adella Gray.
Josh Crawford for the Ward Two seat (central part of town between I 49 and Hwy 45) held by incumbent Mark Kinion.
John La Tour for the open seat in Ward Four (west of I 49) left by departing Alderwoman Rhonda Adams.

Fayetteville voters can consult this map for more details about what ward they live in.


Mark is an advocate of a philosophy of government called Localism.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

You Sound Whiney When You Complain Holding Your Nose

John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House by the permission of every Republican Congressman including those here in Arkansas, is out raising large sums of cash for homosexual Republican candidates across the nation.  This is while judges that Republicans appointed continue to assist the forces of darkness in the insane war on natural law that is the push for state approval of homosexual "marriage". Meanwhile, Karl Rove "The Architect" of George W. Bush's two Presidential wins is out raising money to destroy the Tea Party.

This and countless other data points clearly shows conservatives that the GOP establishment is trying to get rid of them.   Indeed the Republican establishment will spend millions to support candidates which will disrespect conservatives, and also spend more millions attacking candidates who do respect them.   In spite of this, in what has to be one of the most stunning displays of willful ignorance and refusal to face reality in American political history, many of my conservative friends will in the next month trudge down to the polls and vote for a straight Republican ticket.

As I said, many of these people are my friends.  I have known them for years.  But if you are one of them and you go vote straight Republican ticket again I really don't want to listen to your whining and complaining about the Republican party over the next two years.  You are the one responsible for their behavior because you still voted for all of their candidates.  You enable them, so your constant complaining about what they do after you continue to enable them is becoming beyond tiresome.  It is reaching the point of a mental disorder.   Face the reality about what they are, and then DO something about it.   I guess this is sort of an online intervention.

The evidence is obvious that continuing to do what you have been doing has not worked and there is a strong case to be made that doing government this way cannot work.   Government cannot work as the founders intended with the tight monolithic political system we now have.  But I don't want to put too much on you now.  We should talk over the next two years about what to do next time so that we are not in this same situation again.  For now, let's take baby steps to real self-government.

Pick a Republican who is not worthy of your vote (if you are realistic you will have several to choose from) in an office where there will be the least amount of consequences and show your displeasure at the party forcing your to hold your nose on all the others by NOT VOTING for that candidate.  Maybe you can vote for the Libertarian as a further protest vote or maybe you just leave the race blank.  It does not matter.  What matters is that you free yourself from the neurotic compulsion to vote for every single candidate offered by a party whose leadership holds you in contempt.

I suggest Lt. Governor.  After all, Congressman Tim Griffin is a very close Karl Rove associate.  He would never be where he is if not for Rove.  The Club for Growth put him on their list of "Tea Party Betrayers" but I disagree with that label only because Griffin has never been anything other than an establishment Republican.   The office he is running for is not very important- it has been unfilled for about a year with no apparent consequence.   Even if the Democrat wins, John Burkhalter is the kind of Democrat who will bring embarrassment to the Democratic party for lots of reasons.    Where is the downside for conservatives expressing their displeasure with the establishment's offerings in this race?   There is not one, but I am afraid some people are like that internet picture of the horse tied to a plastic lawn chair.  It stays put because it has been captured in its mind even though it could exercise freedom at any time.

Look, it does not have to be that race. Pick your own.  But please, in the name of all that is good and right, don't go down there and vote for every one of those sorry expletives again and then spend the next two years complaining about the way they do nothing while the country is being destroyed around us.  They could not get away with it unless you did nothing about it first.