Saturday, August 22, 2015

Octopus Genome Reveals Surprises for Macro Evolution

Just one of many news stories about the sequencing of the Octopus Genome. It turns out that even though their nervous system is totally unlike ours they are the only known invertebrates to have hundreds of genes otherwise only found in vertebrates such as humans. This poses a dilemma for macro-evolution (and proponents will concoct a just-so story to "resolve" it). Did the hundreds or thousands of genes exist in the common ancestor of vertebrates and invertebrates? If so, why did such a primitive creature need the genes later used in advanced organisms and why did every other invertebrate lose such genes?  The other possibility, almost too improbable to mention, is that by chance the exact same genes that showed up in vertebrates also evolved in octopi.

This is hardly the only example of large numbers of genes showing up in one primitive species and advanced animals and nothing in between.

Julie and Medicaid Expansion



The plight of a 53 year old Rogers woman shows what is wrong with Medicaid Expansion. Not just the eligibility verification process, but the whole program.

And for a video breakdown of the Governor's keynote address on Medicaid Expansion, and why his plan violates most of his self-proclaimed "principles" and why his plan is unworkable and guarantees many more snafu's like the eligibility verification mess, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Outside My Comfort Zone on Medicaid Mess

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of sticking up for Gov. Asa Hutchinson twice in the same month. I don't consider the mess in Medicaid eligibility renewals to be his fault at all, though his admin. is drawing heat for it. It was Gov. Beebe who failed to make even a minimal effort to confirm eligibility for two years that created a huge backlog. That plus Central Planning always fails and frequently manifests in just these sorts of bottle necks. That is, the fault is not the administrations, but the so-called "Private" option itself. Obamacare in all forms is finding these kinds of snags everywhere, not just in Arkansas.

Data From Bird Genomes Disfavor Macro Evolution but We Can't Go There

Absurd. Here the data clearly points to Intelligent Design over evolution, but when Naturalism poses as Science then the most unlikely naturalistic explanation must be accepted over the most obvious super-natural one. Here is what was found: "the Uppsala researchers have found that, for instance, a cuckoo can be more closely related to a hummingbird than a pigeon in a certain part of its genome, while the opposite holds true in another part. The study found numerous examples to corroborate the existence of the phenomenon."

C'mon. That finding would be no surprise if you believe an Intelligent Designer created the various families of birds and cut and pasted code across genetic boundaries. For macro-evolution, its a problem that requires we throw out Occam's razor and come up with an unverifiable evolutionary "just so" story.


Here is a link to the Science Daily article.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why the Early Primaries Take the South Out of GOP Nomination Picture

The Arkansas legislature made the decision to move Arkansas' party primaries up to a ridiculously early March First of 2016. This necessitated a filing period in November of this year for a general election which does not take place until the following November. If that were not bad enough, other recent changes to the law require independent candidates to start collecting signatures now for an election not due to occur until the November after this one.

Neighbors of Arkansas is suing over that "early signature" business for independents, but even if you are in a third party, or seeking to find a challenger within one of the major parties to a terrible incumbent working, then the extremely early red line dates in the process make it much harder. It is hard to recruit someone to run for a local or district office over a year early. Some have chided the move as the "incumbent protection act."

The rational for the move-up was so that Arkansas could have "a say" in who the Republican Presidential nominee is going  to be. With only 2% of the national population, there is only so much say you can have unless you are New Hampshire. The more I look at the rules and the lineup the more I realize though, that the national party guys have conned our state legislators- who should have been listening to us instead of them anyway.

The move is not going to make Arkansas or the South more relevant. Its going to make us less relevant. The effect is going to take us mostly out of the game. If someone asked me to design a primary process that would look fair but subtly hand the nomination to Jeb Bush then the process which I would have designed would look exactly like the one which we have.

In this field, with these rules, the primary line-up looks tailor-made to hand the nomination over to Jeb Bush. And our legislature, like those of other Southern States, walked right into the trap.

Consider that by the rules, any state which has its primary from March 1st to March 14th is obligated to used "proportional" representation in awarding delegates. For example if seven candidates are on the ballot, and the leading candidate got 25% of the vote, then they would wind up with about 25% of the delegates. States holding primaries from March 15th onward can use a "winner take-all" process. That is, if there are seven candidates, and the top vote-getter has 25% of the vote, they get 100% of the delegates even though 75% of the voters did not vote for that candidate. John McCain and Mitt Romney both got a huge chunk of their delegates by getting basically 100% of the delegates from states in which they got less than 50% of the total vote. The establishment has now fine-tuned this playbook, with the full cooperation of the duped legislatures of the Southern states.

Here is the primary calendar. I do not count Florida as a southern state for the purposes of this exercise because this is not about Florida being in the south, its about it being the place where Jeb Bush was the Governor. If he continues to falter, the establishment has Rubio as back-up plan #1. Notice from the calendar that the South gets one week of glory at the cost of awarding proportional representation in what will surely be a crowded early field. That is to say that no one will come out of that process with an overwhelming share of delegates. And after that week, the media can easily shift attention elsewhere as Michigan has also slipped into the mix early.

There will not be an over-whelming winner on "Super-Tuesday" in terms of delegates, because of the rules. And they will only be a big winner in terms of coverage for six days- until March 8th when Michigan votes.

All of the other big states are holding back until March 15th and beyond so that they can award their delegates on a winner-take all basis. Look, whoever wins "Super Tuesday" is going to have to share delegates with all of the other candidates who lost on "Super Tuesday". Whoever wins Florida on March the 15th (the first day they can vote "winner take all") is going to come home with all of the Florida delegates. I can see Jeb Bush or Rubio being way down in the delegate count on March 14th, let's say sixth or seventh, and then leading in delegates after the dust dies down on March 15th.

But even if someone else is still leading in delegate count, the South has emptied its magazine. The lineup after that is northern, and states like Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and New York will award their hefty delegate loads on a winner-take all basis.  That means someone needs the money and staying power to last a long time and buy media all over the nation to win. If someone who is not acceptable to the establishment is winning, the media will talk about what a long way there is to go and count on this process to wear down those without access to titanic amounts of cash. If someone acceptable to the establishment leads then the media will declare the race over and talk about how its time for the Republicans to get behind one candidate lest they lose to the Democrat.

Consider also that these votes do not determine who all of the delegates are. Of the roughly 2400 delegates, only 1,700 or so come out of this process. The other roughly 600, or one fourth of the total, are something very much like "superdelegates" connected directly to the party itself in some fashion. So an "outsider" candidate has to get their 51% of the delegates out of 75%, not 100%. And bear in mind that these party delegates want to avoid a second ballot.

The wildcard in all of this, the one with the potential to annihilate these well-laid plans, is of course Donald Trump. I do not write this as an endorsement in any way, merely as an objective assessment of the facts. He has his own agenda, and the establishment can't count on him. He has the money to campaign all the way, he has support outside the south, and he will not sit down and be a good "team player" if he leads in elected delegates but is cheated out of the nomination by the superdelegates freezing him out. This is why the establishment and its media organs are going to such extremes to destroy his campaign that their obvious bias endangers their own credibility.

Again, I don't say this as a fan of Donald Trump per se, just his ability to expose the fraud of our political system for what it is. Maybe once it happens, more of my fellow citizens of virtue will face the facts about how broken our candidate selection system is and finally begin the long-overdue work of building a new one instead of continuing to get all exercised about a noisy spectacle that markets itself as an open process but is meant to be a rigged game.





Friday, August 14, 2015

Hutchinson's Common Core Letter Signals No Real Change to Program

Talk Business has an article about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's letter to the state board of education on the subject of the recommendations from his Council on Common Core Review. They did a good job of citing relevant quotes from the letter, but did not really provide any analysis of what it means. Today I will fill that gap: What it means is that there will be no substantial change.

For example, Hutchinson wrote: “I have reviewed the recommendations with Commissioner (Johnny) Key, and I understand that the Department of Education will initiate revision of the English Language Arts and Math standards according to Arkansas Code Annotated 6-15-101 and ACTAAP Rules 4.0.,”
The original standards for Common Core had no requirements to teach U.S. History prior to 1890 in High School. That would mean the only time students would learn about, say, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and even the Revolutionary and Civil Wars was in Middle School. Minds that young are not fully able to grasp many of the most important concepts from those documents and events. Some would say an article on Neighbors of Arkansas helped draw the legislature's attention to that omission. The legislature added a requirement for pre-1890 U.S. history back in High School. That's good, but it is not any change that was a result of this Common Core Review. It happened during the legislative session. 

Isn't it good that Arkansas can add a little something to Common Core standards? Well, its better than not being able to add anything, but the problem isn't that we can't add a thing or two to what these unelected and unaccountable experts say ought to be taught to our children. The problem is that we can't take anything away from their list of demands - which on a practical basis also serves to severely limit what we might wish to add. My and other's objection to Common Core is not that we can't add a little of what we want to it- its that we must include all of what they want. This of course leaves us only a little room to add what our own state and its people think should be in there while giving us no leeway to omit things that we think are useless or even objectionable. 

Saying this is an Arkansas-based program because we can decide to add a standard or two of our own is like saying you are self-employed because you can do what you want on your 15 minute break. 

As for the testing, its true Arkansas switched from the PARCC to the ACTAAP, but the two tests will still be measuring the same things - Common Core standards. The issue is who picks the standards to which students in Arkansas will be educated towards? The answer appears to be, except for the small amount of local tweaks we have room for, that whoever writes the standards for Common Core will be deciding those standards, not Arkansas parents, teachers, or school boards. Once the standards are decided, who writes the test to measure them is of lesser importance, and plenty of evidence suggests that the same company, Pearson, is behind both incarnations of Common-Core centered tests.

The Governor's letter further states “The process allows the ADE to seek feedback from the public on the current and revised standards, and it allows the Content Revision Committees ample time to review and revise the standards as necessary.” 

Just because ADE is "allowed" to seek feedback from the public does not mean they will even do it, much less take is seriously. Who is going to be on the "Content Revision Committees an how much authority do they have to "revise" standards? Can they "revise" a politically-correct standard until is reflects more traditional viewpoints or may they only change the wording around the edges so long as they don't change the actual intent of what the delivered standard is attempting to convey? Once you centralize this much power, there are going to be a lot of groups fighting to insert their agenda into the standards. That is why the purest and best way to do it is to allow local school boards to pick their own standards. Good ideas will win over time because the market will reward them for being good. Government coercion leaves little to no room for feedback from reality.

One thing that might change is the name. Since Common Core is copyrighted, an Arkansas version with its own little additions and tiny tweaks might run afoul of the owners of the Common Core standards without a new name. Giving it a new name however, does not change the fact that it is essentially the same program, regardless of the number of people who wished to be fooled into believing that it does.

He also said he wanted the state to "continue to utilize safeguards" to protect student data, which implies that current efforts are adequate and once again no real change needs to be made.  I do think privacy of student data is important, and that as long as you have a standardized program that information is going to be a tempting target for some group to try to exploit. This is simply another reason we should move away from all standardized programs.  The ultimate problem with Common Core for me is that it takes the power to decide what your children should be educated toward further and further away from you and gives that power to some distant unknown persons. None of these superficial reforms come anywhere close to addressing that basic objection.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Lawsuit Alleges Commissioner Kerr Got a Pass

Talk Business comments on a long developing story. It has been alleged in court that Arkansas Insurance Commissioner and former state representative Allen Kerr of Little Rock got favorable treatment from the state insurance department run by Gov. Mike Beebe and the former director, Jay Bradford. Kerr was among the Republican legislators who "flipped" and voted to fund Obamacare in Arkansas in 2013 via the deceptively named "private" option.

What seems to be missing in all of these reports is the $64 question. Was there a quid pro-quo between Beebe and Kerr, with Kerr changing his vote in exchange for being able to keep his insurance license even after State Farm parted ways with him in circumstances which might normally warrant a lost of license?

During the original debate in 2013 I heard a story from more than one legislator that some other legislator was threatened with the loss of his professional license if he did not flip his vote on the "private" option. I always took that legislator to have been Kerr, but soon after Republican legislators quit dropping such hints. I always wondered why. The sudden silence would be explained if they later discovered that what they thought was extortion - taking the license unjustly unless the vote was flipped, turned out instead to be bribery. That is, letting him keep a license he might be expected to lose if he flipped his vote.

This theory is supported by the fact that Beebe openly cut what was in less shameless times called a 'backroom deal' with Senator Jane English. Only this deal was done on the front porch and amounted to a bribe to direct the spending of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in a way English wanted in exchange for her flipping her vote. Maybe he crossed this line as well.

Just to emphasize how bad the one-party with two faces establishment in this state is, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson chose Kerr to be his Insurance Commissioner. Of all of the insurance people in this state, why pick one who was jettisoned by his agency, Farmers, for at best sloppy or at worst unethical work? Why does he have to be the guy? Between that hire, and the saga surrounding the hiring of Johnny Key, and hires of that nature,  you start to get the idea that having a cloud over one actually helps them get a good paying state job- so long as they did what the system wanted when they were in there they get "taken care of."


Sunday, July 19, 2015

USA Today Propaganda Instrument of Ruling Class Posing as Newspaper



I was travelling and the hotel I stayed in offered free USA Today "news"papers. I found them to be over-priced. It is no wonder our nation is in the state it is in when much of the population is manipulated into thinking that they are being "informed" by reading such blatant propaganda. The above the fold article is a story about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush talking about Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton running against each other for President. This was the July 10-12 2015 issue.

Excuse me, aren't they getting ahead of themselves? The primaries are months away and almost nobody likes either of those two people, yet the paper pretends like its a done-deal and November will come down to "Jeb" and "Hillary". It is a puff-piece for the safe establishment favorites, plain and simple.

The center story is celebrating the Confederate flag coming down. For a nuanced, thoughtful look at that story, don't look at USA Today. Even my blog post on the issue has more substance.

The far right column claims that the "Feds Foil July 4 Terror Plots".  Almost all the terror plots "foiled" on American soil appear to be some government informant enticing an idiot into trying to do something they otherwise would not or could not do. This is often so the informant can get a reduced sentence for other crimes.  Thus, FEDGOV manufactures much of the "terrorism" it claims to stop

It appears to be more of the same here with their "10 plus suspects." The FBI told of one "plot" which consisted of three men having a conversation about building a pressure-cooker type bomb. No word if they ever took any steps to actually build such a bomb, much less made any plans to hurt anyone with it. They mentioned another suspect, Fareed Mumuni, who attacked an FBI agent with a knife during a search of his apartment. That man said he intended to leave America and "had intended to join ISILs ranks abroad." If he was unable to travel he "intended to attack law enforcement officers." OK, he is a dangerous man no doubt, and I am glad he is under arrest, but I am not sure his vague ideas that he had apparently not taken any steps to execute qualifies as a "terror plot."

The rest of the arrests were so week the Feds would not even give any details. The spokesman "suggested some of the arrests involved lesser charges than actual terrorism offenses, as investigators sought to quickly disrupt the alleged activities." Please, the first three guys just talk about building a pressure cooker bomb, and the other guy spontaneously attacks an agent searching his apartment. The rest of the "terror suspects" apparently did not even do anything that rose to that level. But since the FBI had warned us about terror attacks they had to come up with something right? 

Meanwhile, below the fold (not visible in the picture above) is a story about homicide rates surging in many American cities. Milwaukee for example, has had 84 homicides so far this year. I think that's a little bigger deal than a conversation about what it would take to build a pressure cooker, and maybe even a bigger deal than a suspect "losing it" and going after an FBI agent during a search of his apartment. 

The police chief was quoted as saying that "absurdly weak" gun laws contributed to the increase in killings. The story cited increases in other cities too, some with strong gun control laws and some with weak ones. Chicago for example, has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation and homicides have risen their by 19% this year. The article did not point out that cities with oppressive gun control laws have also seen increases, they just let the comment by the Police Chief stand.

Friends, when it comes to anything you read or hear from national media entities like USA Today, please remember Moore's Media Maxim:'The establishment media does not exist to inform the public, it exists to protect the establishment.' And its corollary: 'Any nation which has businesses which are "too big to fail" is going to have big media which is "too connected to the system to tell you the truth".'

Here is Greg Hunter's analysis of USA Today, which he calls a "thought-control rag".

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Rapert vs. Hutchinson

Senator Jason Rapert sends a frank email to Governor Asa Hutchinson over the latter's tepid performance on freedom of conscience / religious liberty issues. I am just going to have to swallow hard and agree with the Senator (I feel so dirty saying that) on this one. Full story here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Symbols, Victims, and Civilized Adulthood


"Anybody can become angry- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way- that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." - Aristotle

Yet another mass-murder by yet another prescription-drug addled young misfit has led to a storm of outrage in America. It is entirely proper that there be a storm of outrage, along with great admiration for the display of Christian forgiveness from the families of many of the victims. I have said before that the victims in the Church have performed well their Godly mission of displaying God's Mercy.  Soon it will be time for the state to perform their Godly function of displaying God's Justice -  by executing Dylan Roof. I say this though I have less confidence in the state's resolve to do their Divine Duty these days, for government has left off its proper duties and has instead set itself to meddling in a host of other things which are not its rightful business.

The rest of the nation has not done so nobly as the victims from the church in their response to this brutal crime. There has been outrage all right, but not rational outrage, not reasonable outrage that makes sense and has a logical outcome of preventing more of the same. The fury of America seems concentrated against a symbol the killer posed with in a photograph- the main battle flag of the Confederacy. 

Here are some of the responses: Amazon and Ebay have quit selling merchandise bearing the symbol of the flag. This is even though they still peddle merchandise with the Nazi Swastika on it! Warner Brothers has even stopped making toys of the car "General Lee" from the iconic 80's TV show "Dukes of Hazard" because the car features an image of that flag on the roof. Suggestions have even been made that Arkansas get a new flag because ours has elements in it which look too similar to the Confederate battle flag.

Look, I have never owned the "Stars and Bars" as it is called. I have never had it on a hat or worn it on an article of clothing. I consider it impolite to display such a flag in public because of the large number of people who (with good historical reason) consider the flag to be a symbol of racial oppression. I already make enough people mad just by telling the truths that some don't wish to hear, I don't want to unnecessarily offend people by wearing a symbol that I can take or leave. That being said, I am uncomfortable with misplaced and disproportionate angry driving us to such lengths over symbols.

Symbols, and I am particularly referring here to abstract symbols such as the "Stars and Bars" and the Swastika, have no power in themselves. They don't even have any meaning in themselves. The only meaning they have is that which has been ascribed to them by those who either use the symbol or see it. It is true that both of those symbols were used by people who were violently anti-social toward those of other races, but not everyone who uses those symbols ascribes that meaning to them. 

Even the swastika, symbol of the repugnant Nazi party, is also used in Hinduism and by Native American tribes as a sacred symbol. The people I know who wear the "Stars and Bars" have more animosity toward the Ku Klux Klan than they do towards blacks. To them, it is a symbol of their southern rural way of life, not racial oppression.

One of the things that makes me most uncomfortable about this is that the outrage which we feel, which we ought to feel, is being directed toward abstract symbol which has no objective meaning either good or bad and is incapable of causing harm in itself. The "right anger" which Aristotle spoke of can be a good thing, but useless anger does nothing to make us better people, or more reasonable ones. The symbol the shooter posed with in a picture did not cause these shootings. There have been over 1,000 shootings in Chicago this year alone, and the symbols the shooters used did not cause them either.

I noticed that a young friend of mine posted on social media a comment to the effect that anyone who displayed the Confederate Battle flag should just "unfriend" him and save him the trouble because they were a "racist piece of {vulgarity deleted}." I have been following this person's comments on social media a long time and at no point did they ever say that anyone who supported abortion being legal should unfriend them. 

Yet unlike the Confederate Battle Flag, whose meaning is subjective to the observer, abortion actually ends innocent human life. One million babies are being torn to bits every single year by abortion, yet there is more outrage over an abstract symbol with no objective meaning than there is over someone supporting spilling rivers-worth of innocent blood. If every American between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains were butchered today, it still would not equal the number of beating hearts stopped by abortion in America. 

Abortion is just one evil. America has dropped a lot of bombs on a lot of countries that did not attack us. We have a political system that is looting the middle class and the next generation to enrich global banksters. None of that injustice evoked the least response from my young friend, yet his rage against this symbol was visceral.

I realize what Aristotle realized, that not everyone is capable of "right anger". Some are just too young to have properly developed their sense of appropriate anger. Some will never reach that place and will live as perpetual adolescents. I don't say that everyone should see it like I do, because like Aristotle I understand that this is not within everyone's reach. But I don't think policy should be driven by those whose anger is irrational. I don't think the rational should give way before the irrational as a matter of course. It is an unproductive, even destructive, road to take which can never make us better only worse. 

Instead we should make appropriate use of our anger. It should help us insist that the right questions be asked. For example, every one of these recent mass murderers have either been on or just come off of certain types of prescription drugs. Are such psychotropic drugs over-used? Are they really safe? Americans are the most medicated people on the planet, and we haven't really had a national discussion about how normal it should be to have a nation operating on mind-altering drugs. 

 I get the idea that big pharma  has a lot to lose if people ever start asking too many questions about that. So do institutions in this nation which medicate a lot of people- like our government itself as a matter of fact. But big media doesn't talk about that - instead it gets us stirred up about things that, if not irrelevant, are at least relatively unimportant.  

Some abstract symbols have a history associated with racial hatred, and so out of respect for the feelings of those who take that symbol to be associated with that hatred I choose not to display the symbols. But the abstract symbol is not the problem. I am not obligated to hold their beliefs about what any particular abstract symbol means. And while I may choose to respect their feelings on it, I refuse to be a slave to those feelings. Their feelings about things should not control my behavior because while I may choose to defer to them from time to time ultimately their feelings about what they believe an abstract symbol stands for are their problem, not my responsibility. 


To take any other position will hasten us down the path where everyone seeks the role of aggrieved victim because claims of "victimhood" are the basis for power claims over one's fellow citizens. There was a time when people had too much dignity to seek out the role of "victim", but that was before it became the smoothest path to getting one's way. This will lead to a degenerate society where those with the least dignity will have the most power. That is what I urge you dear reader, to resist.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to File for Office as an Independent

I am affiliated with Neighbors of Arkansas, a group which believes that state politics should be disconnected from the dysfunctional national party system which is controlled by two private political clubs. That means electing candidates which are independent of any national party and answer only to the people they are supposed to be representing, not a hierarchy which ends in D.C.(or worse, ends in the global interests which fund them both).

Americans have been so seduced into out-sourcing the job of selecting their candidates to these two corrupt entities that they have mostly forgotten what it means to self-govern. Even though we have gone from the richest nation on earth to the most indebted nation on earth in a single generation while Team Red and Team Blue took turns following increasingly similar policies, most of us don't seem to know how to go about taking things back into our own hands. If we wanted to end-run this terminally corrupt system which has so mismanaged the country, what would we do?

You do this: Get a few friends together locally and recruit someone to run for public office (such as state legislature or county office) as an independent candidate. Then help them get on the ballot and win. You don't need thousands of dollars for a filing fee- you would not pay anyone a filing fee. It does not take millions of dollars to win these races, nor hundreds of thousands.  Rather it only takes sums which are well within reach of a decent candidate. A $100 contribution to a campaign for a state office is essentially free with the use of the state tax credit for modest contributions.

It is not like it would take much to improve on what we have now. For example, consider the ten worst bills that became law last regular session. If you can find a candidate who would vote against most of those bills, the odds are very strong that they would be better than what you have now.

Is following the instructions below a hassle? Yes. More than they should be, but far, far less than what our forebears went through in order to grant us the heritage of living in freedom. Let's not be the generation that loses it because we could not be bothered to wade through some paperwork!

Here is a rundown of what it takes to get on the ballot this cycle:

1. For state legislature and county offices, you have 90 days, starting August 11th and ending noon on November the 9th to collect voter signatures from the district equal in number to 3% of the vote for Governor in the last election within the boundaries of the office in question. The signatures are to be gathered on the petition form on page 51 of this book for state legislative offices or the petition form on page 52 for county offices.

For state legislative district boundaries, look here. For County JPs district boundaries, check your County Clerk's office.

How many good signatures does it take? For State Representative seats, usually around 380. For State Senate Seats, it takes 800 or so good signatures. The Elections Division of the Secretary of State's office has a duty to provide the exact number for any state office. Here is their contact information.

Phone: 501-682-5070
Toll Free outside the Little Rock area:  (800) 482-1127
Email: electionsemail@sos.arkansas.gov

For County offices, the number of signatures required will vary widely depending on the population of the County. Your County Clerk has a duty to provide that data. We can help you did it up if they refuse their duty. Remember that you need at least 20% more signatures than the minimum because some of them could be disallowed because they are not registered voters or don't live in the right district. The SOS website has a place where you can pre-check your voters to see if they are valid.

2. So let's say you start August 11th and get the required voter signatures by September 30th. What is next? Next is that you file for office between noon on 2 November and ending at noon on November the 9th. If you are filing for the state legislature, you take your signatures, along with a few other docs we will mention, to the Capital Building in Little Rock and file. If you are filing for a county office you take them to the County Clerk. No filing fee is required as an Independent. You just bring signatures saying that voters want you on the ballot, you don't have to pay thousands of dollars to a private political club to get on the ballot.

3. What other forms do you need to file for office besides the petitions?
A. The "Notice of Candidacy" on page 48
B. The "Affidavit of Eligibility" on page 47
C. A "Political Practices Pledge" which is discussed on page 38, but no sample form is given. We suggest you create one which meets the standards described on that page just in case there are none available when you file (the SOS Office normally makes up such forms and has them on hand during the filing period).
D. A "Statement of Financial Interest" from the Ethics Commission

and....

A new requirement has been snuck into the law books for independents filing for office, one that it appears has not yet made it to the SOS Candidate Handbook. That is found on the second page of this new law. It says you have to include another affidavit saying that the signatures on the petitions were produced lawfully and within the prescribed times. I would anticipate the SOS Office will have the new forms available, along with a notary to vouch them, during the filing period. Many court houses may not know about the law though, so I would create a form from the wording on page two and sign it in front of a notary just in case.

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That wraps up what it takes to file for public office. Running and winning is another question. If you want to help someone get elected and want help from Neighbors on the process, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Document links:
Arkansas Secretary of State's Candidate Handbook "Running for Public Office". This is the key publication.

Find the district lines of a particular state legislative district.

Election Dates Calendar for 2016.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Ten Worst Bills that Became Law in the 2015 Regular Session

The Worst Legislation of 2015

In years past we have had a list of "Worst Legislators" to go with our list of "Ten  Best Legislators." This year we are going to change it up some on the "Worst" side. So many legislators were so disappointing that it probably would not be fair to the readers or the legislators to narrow it down to the worst ten legislators.

Instead, we decided to list the ten worst bills that became law in the regular session. That way instead of making it personal and saying "X is a terrible legislator" we can say "here is a bill that most of the legislators voted for, see if you agree with us that this is a bad bill..."  This will also allow readers to look at the votes. I think some of you will be surprised at the bills that "your" legislator voted for. (Note: The special session had its own terrible bills and deserves separate coverage.)

Members of the panel were particularly down on bills which were misleading in nature. This is a natural consequence of the tiresome series of deceptions which members of the legislature have perpetrated in recent years, such as the claims that the "Private Option" was "not Medicaid Expansion" and "the furthest thing from Obamacare", as well as Referred Amendment 3 from 2014. That last one described itself as an "Ethics Reform" bill which would "Establish Term Limits" when in fact it greatly weakened existing term limits laws and left mile-wide loop-holes for the unethical behavior it purported to stop to continue. The bottom line is, while they can fool some of the people most of the time, we are not fooled and are increasingly repulsed by the dishonesty.

The Ten Worst Bills that Became Law in the 2015 Regular Session

1. SB 967 Senator Jon Woods (R) Springdale and Rep. Warwick Sabin (D) Little Rock

This bill makes it essentially impossible for the ethics commission to catch anyone taking bribes, since if they do get caught, the new law says if they just give the money back within 30 days the Ethics Commission is powerless to sanction them. Yes, its that bad.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?
House    Senate

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2. SB 96:  Senator Jim Hendren (R) Gravette and Rep. Joe Farrar (R) Austin.

The fake bill to "end the Private Option" and reverse Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare in Arkansas. It was sold as a way to end Medicaid expansion, but Conduit for Action summed this bill up as "Medicaid Expansion Continues." The "Private Option" was built on temporary waivers from the Obama Administration that would route the Medicaid expansion money through an extra set of private hands. Those waivers were always set to expire at the end of 2016 so "ending" the PO when it was set to end anyway was meaningless.  The bill then pretends to obligate a future legislature to end the underlying Medicaid expansion- which is of course also meaningless because the acts of a previous legislature don't bind future legislatures.

The rest of the bill, the heart of it really, establishes a panel picked by those who saddled us with the "Private" Option in the first place to find a way to tweak and re-brand it so that the same basic Obamacare program lives on with another name. The "Private" Option has been discredited, but even if it had not been the fact is that neither the state nor the federal government has the money to sustain this program. The panel was incensed at the continued deception used to try and keep alive a bad idea that must fail anyway once our credit runs out.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?
House  Senate

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3. HB 1402 Matthew Shepherd (R) El Dorado.

Exempts capital gains of over 10 million dollars from capital gains taxes. It is just not right. It's not right that when your mom and dad sell their home to downsize for retirement that they have to pay a higher rate on state capital gains taxes than Walton billionaires do when they harvest a $100,000,000 dollar gain on stocks or property. I have heard the argument made that the big boys can make the moves to evade the tax if we don't give them a lower rate. It is still wrong.

The right answer is to give everyone a lower rate so that its not worth the trouble to evade them and your mom and dad have more for retirement. But to really reduce taxes it is necessary to reduce government spending, and few in the legislature seem willing to do that anymore. This bill means that once you get through all of the shell games, the real reduction in taxes in the Hutchinson tax program goes to those who obtain capital gains well in excess of ten million dollars. The income tax cut passed this session, which may or may not actually happen starting next fiscal year, is largely funded by increases in capital gains tax rates on that same group of people (middle and upper middle class). It is a disgraceful tax policy which confirms every negative stereotype about the Republican Party.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?
House  Senate

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4. SB 810 Senator Joyce Elliot (D) Little Rock and Rep. Mary Broadway (D) Paragould –

DHS must to investigate calls of “educational neglect” from an anonymous hotline even if they have not gone through due process. The issue of children being taken from their homes and families being harassed by DHS for not living a life that meets all the conditions on a government check list is an explosive one. Even if the children are not taken, just getting a visit from DHS and being subjected to their demands and inspections can be disruptive, and even damaging for a family. That's why it should only be done when there is probable cause of real harm occurring. Due process is supposed to be among the government recognized rights anyway, but government is increasingly reneging on its agreement with The People. This bill is another example of that.

All the legislators who claimed to be "conservative" should have known better than to vote for a bill sponsored by Elliot. I am not saying that she can't have a good idea, just that when Elliot is the sponsor of a bill it already has two strikes against it, the third pitch is on the way, and the batter forgot to bring their bat.

How did your legislator vote on these bills?

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5. SB 975  Senator Jeremy Hutchinson (R) Little Rock and Rep. Bob Ballinger (R) Hindsville

The “religious freedom” bill that overall goes backwards on “religious freedom”, to the extent it does anything, and mirrored a federal measure so worthless that even Obama supported. Even more disgusting was the speed with which the Governor and the Legislature hopped to it when Wal-Mart called. They did not want the originally proposed "religious freedom" bill which contained a provision which might have actually protected religions freedom. The Governor and the legislature then fell all over themselves pulling the original bill and substituting this facade. For the long version of the story see this. Jeremy Hutchinson later admitted he sponsored the bill because of “cowardice.”  It was actually brave of him to admit it, but it was still a fake bill and we are furious with fake, and the way it went down.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?
House  Senate

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6. SB 101  Sponsored by ‘Joint Budget Committee''( How is that for evasion of responsibility?).

This was the bill which funded the "Private" Option- i.e. Obamacare in Arkansas. What makes it particularly galling is that only 25% of either chamber could have stopped this bill because appropriations bills require a 3/4th majority. Surely the state founders put such a measure in our constitution for exactly such an occasion as this- to block a massive spending bill opposed by most of the voters but supported by powerful lobbies. Blocking it would have forced the rest of them back to the table to negotiate a compromise, or maybe even do what most of them ran on- ending Obamacare in Arkansas. Of course that is not a tactic which should be used by a party interested in growing government, and that's both of them now so the tactic goes unused.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?

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7. SB 343  Another one by Governor Hutchinson's nephew, Senator Jim Hendren (R) Gravette

The fake bill to “eliminate” the Obamacare Exchange which took the steam out of the strong bill to do so. It allowed politicians to claim they voted against finishing setting up an Obamacare Exchange while actually voting for a bill which would allow the opposite. Don't be fooled by the double-talk, Mary Bentley's bill on the subject was the real "End the Exchange" bill, this was a fake one to provide cover while the kept it going. Details here.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?

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8. SB 681 Senator Alan Clark (R) Lonsdale

The bill weakens requirements for Education Commissioner so political appointee and Common Core supporter Johnny Key could get the job.  Why is Key so indispensable that the law had to be changed to accommodate his lack of qualifications? I don't know, but he is on the wrong side of two major heads of the same Education Hydra- Workforce Education and Common Core.

How did your legislator vote on this bill?

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9. SB 891 Senator Jane English (R) Little Rock

Work Force education is Socialism. It is a Planned Economy with respect to labor inputs, and it will misallocate resources just like planned economies always do (detailed rant here). It is not being sold as that, because even though planned economies always fail, they do succeed in redirecting resources to those closest to the central planners. Beyond that though, this bill reminds us of Senator English directing the path of her bribe money.  Maybe it is her nerve in directing the spending of this money so soon after she took an open bribe, in the form of money for this program, to change her vote on the PO that bothers me.

How did your legislators vote on this bill?
House Senate

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10. SB 956 Senator David Sanders (R) Little Rock, again.

The bill had some changes that made it less repulsive, but that was not Sander's idea! He called it "The Health Care Transparency Act”. In Sanders-speak, “transparency” means the government sets up an Orwellian health data collection system so they can know more about you, not you knowing more about them. This is not the public's real need for transparency in medical care. The need for transparency in medical care is for consumers to be able to easily get pricing information from medical providers before treatment so they can comparison shop based on price like they do with any other product. Of course, that is pointless under the socialized medicine plan even the Republicans seem to be pushing us all toward.

How did your legislators vote on this bill? 

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Wildcard: One we suspect belongs on the list but do not yet know how to rate-

HB 1665 by Charlie Collins (R) Fayetteville. If what we fear is right, this bill will result in a substantial increase in utility rates for homeowners and small business in order to finance a rate cut for the largest corporate users and pay larger dividends to stock holders who were already doing OK relative to the low rates on bonds and CDs (which is a comparable investment to utilities). Or maybe it won't do much of anything. Time will tell.

How did your legislators vote on this bill?
Senate: Unanimous
House

The worst bill which failed to become law:

Panelists were asked to select bad bills that actually became law- with one wildcard. Our panelists were allowed to pick one bill to put on the "worst" list that did not become law. The hands-down winner of that one was HB 1006 from the regular session. This bill actually passed the house (see vote) but was stopped in a Senate Committee in large part due to the legislator who was #1 on our "Ten Best Legislators" list- Senator Bryan King of Green Forest.

Why was the bill rated so awful? It would take half an hour to begin to describe it all, and if you have that half an hour, here it is in detail. The bill was a particularly bad way to bring about what is, with our present Congress, a particularly bad idea- an Article V convention to propose amendments to the federal constitution.

 I know some people are keen on an Article V Convention to propose amendments. I and the rest of the panel are strongly opposed to giving today's ruling class, and that would be who would be running the thing, a chance to re-write the constitution. If the problem is that they are ignoring the Constitution that we have, then amending it can't be the answer.

Still, not all proposals to amend the constitution are the same. This one was the worst of the bunch and plenty of people who are open to an Article V convention could find a lot not to like about this particular approach to it. Again, listen here for details, but the gist of it is, the plan for a compact is unworkable without the approval of Congress anyway, and the so-called "balanced budget amendment" would not be a catalyst for a balanced budget so much as it would be a catalyst for a change in the tax code to something highly favorable to global corporations at the expense of what is left of the American middle class. Its a tax change bill posing as a balanced budget bill.

I know that many folks out there are favorable to what they call a "fair tax", but even if they back the policy honest people should be against packing into an amendment to the constitution that claims it is about balancing the budget, not changing the tax code. In addition, the so-called "Fair Tax" is not all its cracked up to be (hear this for details) and the version in the amendment was one of the worst forms of so-called "fair tax". It was a retail sales tax that would have allowed corporations that have been outsourcing production from decades to bring all of their stored-up foreign profits home without paying a penny of tax on it while crushing Americans on fixed incomes or with limited ability to increase their income.

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Conclusion:

I have no idea what brings these legislators, who seem so normal and even pleasant in person, to vote for all of this terribly immoral legislation, and then to hold it up to be something other than what it is. They don't seem like villains, yet they act like them. I am reminded (in a very small way, the bills were bad but there is no comparing the two in terms of degree of evil) of the shock writer Hannah Arendt experienced watching the Adolph Eichmann trial.  I am not comparing the legislators to Eichmann, but rather my reaction to Arendt's on witnessing a person who seems urbane and "OK" embracing something very wrong. Eichmann embraced the genocide which he helped carry out. When she went to his trial she expected to see a monster. But he appeared to be a normal, sane human being who simply chose to embrace evil. Seeing this terrified her even more than seeing the monster she expected, because it showed how even people we might think of as civilized and normal can chose to follow the darkest of paths.

What to do? The human evil part has no cure other than repentance. We have to pray for revival, one that is not just a "church thing" but one which renews one soul at a time our whole sick culture. For the broken system part, our view is that the system is so rotten that it is time to bypass the national party system altogether and revert to self-government. Most Americans have no idea what that means any more, even though it is our heritage and our birthright. That means replacing most of these legislators, those who close their hearts to repentance, with independents that we recruit and support through local citizens groups which you form for that purpose.