Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Slant a Study

A recent study has challenged the idea that certain abstinence programs are effective. A close look at the way they did this shows how the left is rigging studies- or the way the results of the studies are presented to the public, to promote their agenda. The result of these machinations is partly the advance of their agenda, and partly the loss of confidence in science itself (which surprisingly enough also seems to be a part of their agenda).

To see why this is so, we need some important background for context: The classical mindset believed in a single law-giver God. This type of mind invented science (because they believed they could count on the rules being the same in different locations and times, it made sense to test for cause and effect). Pagans who thought a posse of gods made conflicting "rules" that applied only in the places or seasons that deity was strong did not have the type of mindset that could produce modern science.

Unfortunately, the predictive power of such science made Western man arrogant much like the person who "forgets where they came from". The Modern mind put all its faith in the tools of science that the classical mind devised. They separated the process of science from the classical view of the world that created the process. The Modern Mind is strictly naturalistic, no hint of Divine Intervention can be allowed, even if the evidence is clear that no natural process can explain an event.

While the Modern mind has some short comings, it is the picture of sweet reason compared to what a naturalistic view produced- the Postmodern mind. The post modern mind does not believe in anything in the traditional sense. The modern mind trusted the human brain and senses (and no divine guidance) to be a reliable guide to the truth. The post modern mind realizes that if we are all just the chance products of evolution, then there is no truth for our brains to discover. Even if there was, there is no reason to believe that our perceptions and brains are capable of understanding it. We just each see the world in our own way, have our own "truth". This "truth" is ultimately decided by how we "feel", not what the alleged "facts" are.

The postmodern mind does not believe in science, but they use the label as a propaganda tool. This includes using claims of "science" as ammunition to advance their feelings-driven agenda.

I am way long here, and I am going to bring this around to the study by Janet Rosenbaum claiming that pledges for abstinence don't help (and further used to attack abstinence programs in general).

(continued on the jump, click WEDNESDAY below and scroll down for rest of story).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Russian Analyst Predicts Imminent Break-Up of U.S.

Igor Panarin is a top-level Russian analyst. His prediction of the soon-coming break-up of the United States is in the Wall Street Journal. To those who think things will always continue to be as they have been, his predictions will seem outlandish. I am not so sure.

Even if there is a break-up coming, I believe his map has the lines wrong. There is no way South Carolina is going to join the E.U. for example. It is much more likely that southern Cal will split from the rest and it be dominated by Mexico rather than China having inordinate influence over Arizona. His lines reflect a cultural ignorance, but his point deserves discussion. Is an amicable parting of the ways better than red-blue nation conflict?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Homosexual Marriage Case Gives Lesson of History (2004)

A judge says that the state of Louisiana must list both homosexual men as the "father" of their joint adoptive baby.

That is because they are, in the eyes of some judges, legally "married" in the state of California. You see, other judges threw out a ban on homosexual marriage there, claiming it was "unconstitutional". Voters responded to the attempt to re-define marriage by judicial fiat by overwhelmingly passing proposition 8. That proposition changed the California constitution so that it banned homosexual marriage. The radical judges there are now trying to find a way to declare the constitution to be unconstitutional!

Before the ban was enacted, a number of homosexuals used the first ruling to get "married" in California. That brings us to the case in our neighbor to the south. The court in Louisiana said that the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the U.S. Constitution means that Louisiana must honor the "marriage" in California as valid. They said it was so obvious that they did not even need to take the matter to trial.

That leads me to the top three reasons we are so badly misruled in this country. The number one reason is that the population has lost the virtue required to successfully maintain self-government. The number two reason is that the other branches of government have absolutely let the judiciary walk all over them. This is likely because most of them are posers who pretend to endorse mainstream values but secretly applaud the court's efforts to undemocratically force us left without the consent of the governed (even though the Declaration says that is the only legitimate source for all government power)

The third reason we are so mis-governed is that (with the help of a complicit corporate media who redirect our attention) the public has a short memory. This impacts our ability to learn the lessons of history and dooms us to repeat them.

For example, let's go back a mere four years to 2004. That seems like ancient history in the politics business, but in the essential art of statecraft it is a mere flicker. Senator Blanche Lincoln was challenged by an upstart State Senator named Jim Holt. The state print media clucked about how bad a choice Holt was compared to Lincoln. Even some of the establishment Republicans wrote Holt off as a lightweight.

At the time, Bush was pretending to care about religious conservative voters. Because lawless judges were attempting to use the courts to re-define marriage, conservatives warned that we needed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage. Holt supported that amendment. Lincoln opposed it, saying that they had passed a "defense of marriage act" that was all the protection we needed. Holt warned that the "full faith and credit clause" of the U.S. Constitution would be used to cram nation-wide acceptance of homosexual marriage down our throats if even ONE state allowed them.

So let me ask the fair-minded reader, who did history prove was right? Isn't it crystal clear that the alleged rural "light-weight" Holt had it exactly right and the well regarded incumbent was either ignorant or duplicitous in her answer? The best candidate is the person who understands the times and the law the best, not the one who can kiss up to the papers and raise the most corporate cash.

Blanche Lincoln is coming up for re-election in less than two years. She voted for the bail-out, which alone (in this writers opinion) disqualifies her for further public service. Will the diminished GOP be able to find a credible candidate to oppose her? They don't look like it so far. Will another party step forward?

Free people, in order to remain so, must learn the lessons of history. Don't keep voting for the same people who have already demonstrated their incompetence just because you know their name! Taking an even wider view, how many times will both Republicans and Democrats let us down before we consider the need to support candidates of an alternative party?

The hour is late, and the price of a failure to learn the lessons of history will soon become so dear that my countrymen will no longer be able to pay it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kudo and Uh-Oh

Regarding the lottery, State Senator Johnny Key said in a recent Baxter Bulletin "I was not a supporter, but I think the voters were clear in their vote, so now our job is to implement the lottery system that is going to have the best effect and do the least damage when it comes to government being involved in that kind of business."

Of course, the voters were clear on term limits too, but somehow that issue keeps getting revisited (as with a proposed amendment a couple of years back that would weaken term limits). And despite dire warnings from 20 year legislators about what would happen without 20 year legislators, things have gone, well, no worse than before. Even in the article Key mentions that it was the "smoothest session in some time" last go-around.

The people were mis-informed by a complicit state print media when they voted in that lottery proposal. It is going to be a disaster which heaps funds in what is already one of the most over-funded areas of state government. In a representative democracy, people count on their representatives who study issues in more depth to separate good ideas from bad. All they voted to do with this amendment was empower the legislature to create a lottery if they thought it was a good idea. Within the framework of the passed amendment, its is a terrible idea.

Some legislators are so anxious to spend the money they are going to con from the poor suckers of this state that they are in a hurry to abdicate their responsibilities in a representative republic. There is no need to blunder into this fiscal ambush.


On the other hand, Speaker Steve Harrelson's excellent blog draws our attention to the intent of representative-elect Duncan Baird to not accept any gifts from lobbyists. In effect he is going to try to have a personal "not one cup of coffee" rule like the one proposed by former State Senator Jim Holt. It was not a popular idea with other legislators and Speaker Harrelson's post gives us some idea why as he discusses the difficulty in staying gift-free in an environment where free meals and gifts permeate the culture.

You show up at an event to learn about an issue, and they are serving a meal. You open your mail box, and it contains an unsolicited gift. (Maybe he can re-gift some of the best stuff to a hard working blogger?). Kudo's to Baird for even making the effort. We hope he gets a little help in the way of stricter ethics rules which tamp down on gift-giving to legislators.

SWAT raid on food co-op 'entrapment'; Badgered by agent to 'sell' eggs

In Ohio, a SWAT team raided the Stower's farm because they were suspected of selling eggs without a state license. The details of the case go beyond "entrapment".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace Toward Men On Whom His Favor Rests

<< Luke 2:14 >>

International Standard Version (©2008)
"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!"

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those who have his good will!"

King James Bible
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

American King James Version
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

American Standard Version
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

Bible in Basic English
Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Darby Bible Translation
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men.

English Revised Version
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

Webster's Bible Translation
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.

Weymouth New Testament
"Glory be to God in the highest Heavens, And on earth peace among men who please Him!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"An Armed Society......... a polite society" some wag once noted. That tends to be true because there is a potential cost for abusive behavior in such a place. I say all this because a certain old-guard print journalist known for his abusive writing has gotten himself a real blog, one that permits reader feedback. And his writing there is not abusive. In fact, it is downright introspective and self-effacing so far. Regular readers here will know who I mean.

Of course in this case he uses his real name. I find that almost all of the problem on the internet re lack of civility is from people who don't use their real names. They write things that they would never put into public words if their name was on them.

A blogosphere where people use their real names will tend to be a polite society. I say TEND to be because there are real wrongs and real wrong doers in this world and there does need to be a reservoir of courage to confront such wrongdoers publicly. Politeness must be highly valued, but it is dangerous when it is the HIGHEST value. The same can be said for "tolerance", btw.

Still, using your name on written confrontations means you better be able to back it up. It is almost the same as "saying it to their face".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not Funny: Franken Stealing Senate Election

Al Franken is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. The election board seems ready to hand the Senate seat (and with it authority over our lives) to this man.

Fox News documents the theft here.

More on New Duggar Baby

We had a report on the latest Duggar baby, Jordyn-Grace, that included exclusive details here. MSNBC gives us this report, and mentions that their special will be on TLC tonight.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Vs. New Media : Peace in Our Time?

Neville Chamberlain, the former British Prime minister who declared in 1938 that there would be "peace in our time" because he and Hitler came to an agreement regarding which small countries the British would let the Nazis victimize. Here Chamberlain holds up a copy of the treaty signed by Hitler as "proof" of peace.


Sir Winston Churchill, one of the most unpopular public figures in Britain in 1938. His warnings that the Nazis would not stop their aggression were widely ignored until events proved him correct.
Hitler used the respite to consolidate his power before striking.

So am I saying that the Old Media are Nazis? No. They are the bad guys, but they are not that bad. Here is what I AM saying.......(on the jump, click SUNDAY below and scroll down).

Friday, December 19, 2008

18 and Counting (New Duggar Baby)

(click HERE for more photos).

The Duggar family has just given birth to child number 18, Jordyn-Grace Maykia Duggar. The delivery was by C-section because the baby was transverse.

Please excuse the personal note, but it impacts on this story: My wife and I were blessed with our first child just days before Jordyn-Grace was born (I guess I am no Jim Bob) and we used the same obstetrician as Michelle Duggar. She was also delivered by emergency C-section. Our obstetrician is a woman who is married to a man who is also an obstetrician. In our case husband was on duty and did the delivery while his wife assisted. We think that both of them are wonderful doctors.

The wife doctor of this team is known for working with women who want to give birth naturally even after they have had a C-section. With most doctors, once a woman has had a C-section they want her to keep having them that way, even if everything is fine. Michelle Duggar expressed a desire to birth naturally even though she had a C-section with a previous birth, and she expressed how glad she was to have this female doctor who would work with her on that. In the event Michelle had to change plans on account of medical circumstances, just as we did.

PS- We hope that two daughters born days apart become life-long friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lottery Wars: Beebe vs. Halter

Arkansas Mike Beebe takes issue with Lt. Governor Bill Halter on lottery money.

John Lyon reports that Governor Mike Beebe and Lt. Governor Bill Halter are at odds over how to implement a lottery proposal. Halter was the lynch pin behind the lottery amendment that was passed last November. With the session opening soon the topic turns to possible enabling legislation that is required before a government lottery begins cranking out tickets.

The Governor waited until the last day to take a position on the amendment, then voted against it on election day. Now the disagreement is guessed it, THE MONEY. It's always about the money, right? Well, money and who gets the credit for the money.

Beebe wants any proposed lottery revenue folding into existing state scholarship programs like, well, the Governor's Scholarship Program! Halter wants the lottery money to have its own scholarship program, and counters that current SURPLUS scholarship money should be diverted to the lottery scholarship program until the ticket money can build up.

What's that you say, SURPLUS scholarship money? Why yes, to the tune of 53 million dollars this year. There is already more money available than there are quality Arkansas students who want to access it. So why the need for a lottery dedicated solely to college scholarships? THERE IS NO NEED PEOPLE. That is what I have been trying to tell you. All either one of them can do with it is lower the standards so that slackers can get some free money for a while. We already have the U of A talking about opening a recruiting office in Dallas Texas for crying out loud.

Mark my words, if they pass enabling legislation they will be embarrassed, the amendment was that poorly written. Money will pile up in this fund while the rest of the state goes hurting. It will lead to absurd unintended economic consequences. The smartest thing the legislature could do is to not enable the thing.

Police State Update: Marines Man Checkpoints in AZ

Historically, the military has not been used for law enforcement in this country. The old protections are falling fast. Here is the latest example, Marines to man checkpoints in Arizona. The crooks who are ripping us off for trillions must think that the serfs are going to get restless. They are bringing in the military to keep the boot on the necks of the people, er... I mean "put down civil unrest". Gee, whatever would people be unrestful about?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fayetteville City Council Votes Against Coal for State?

Thanks to eLWood for pointing us to this picture of the huge hole in the middle of downtown Fayetteville. The incompetent amateurs who are running the city government failed to insist that the developer they gave this project to was committed and bonded to finish it. When the real estate market worsened he walked away after leaving this giant and unsafe eyesore right off the town square. Getting the guarantee up front is part of "good local government 101".

Regardless of their demonstrated incompetence in performing their local duties, the Fayetteville City Council has decided to expand their reach by issuing proclamations that they would apply to the entire state. They voted 7-1 to issue a statement saying that they were opposed to coal-fired electric plants in Arkansas. Not just Fayetteville mind you, but the entire state. Councilman Ferrell was the lone voice of reason. Not co-incidentally, he was the only one to oppose a giant fee hike for water hook-ups.

The Dustin Tracy article documents how Ferrell attempted to use facts, logic, evidence, and reason to sway the other board members against telling the rest of the state how they should generate their electricity, but those tools did not seem to leave a trace on the hardened brain-cases of the leftists on the council. When he suggested taking a tour of the local coal-fired plant before they voted on the proposal to examine for themselves the new cleaner coal burning technology, one of the members spoke for the rest when they said that they did not need the tour. Sure, you don't know what you are doing as concerns your actual duties, so why bother knowing what you are babbling about on things that are not your business!

Most Arkansans do not have an extra 30% to pay for electric bills. We need the most efficient method possible, and right now that is coal. Don't concern yourself about global warming. Despite the media hype, average global temperatures have not increased since 1998 and the Sun is headed toward a decades-long quiet phase.

Natural Hazards "Death Map" and the Natural State

Link to original article with a large map here.
Researchers have put together a map which shows how likely you are to die of a natural event, such as flood, drought, lightning strike, freezing to death etc... Unfortunately the Natural State does not fare too well. The red areas on the map indicate a death rate two standard deviations above average. The blue areas are safer than usual counties.

I noticed that areas with Indian reservations fared very poorly. I figured that is a function of lifestyle choices that lead them to spend more time outdoors alone or in small groups. This may explain some of the reason for Arkansas' poor showing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Supreme Court Refuses to Rule on Obama Eligibility

Those of you who follow this blog know that we have been following the court cases challenging the Constitutional eligibility of Barack H. Obama for the office of President. The case is extremely strong that Obama is not constitutionally eligible- so strong that the authorities are apparently unwilling to look at it. Today WND reports that the court website has a note saying that they will not be reviewing the case and providing no further comment.

Guest Blogger On "The Christian World View"

Yours truly has a guest piece on David Wheaton's site, "TheChristianWorldView.Com". The article will be of more interest to pointed-headed academic types like me than to regular human beings, but here it is if you care to look.

The premise of the article is that the way advanced degrees are awarded in History and Theology subtracts from, rather than adds to, the sum total of mankind's knowledge. "Educating Toward Heresy" is the title David Wheaton gave it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Arson Destroys the Church Sarah Palin Attends

Image of Wasilla Bible Church in Alaska from the story here.
Could the Wasilla Bible Church have been targeted for arson because of the politics of one of its members? So far this is the only motive that has been advanced for the attack.

If that checks out, this is a very disturbing event. Never mind that there is no rational justification for such domestic terrorism, there is no rational goal for the attack. What could they hope to achieve? It will not intimidate Palin from further political action, and may even rally more support to her. Of course, that will only be a function of media coverage of the attack, which has been on the light side.

So why do it? Unfortunately I think we are dealing with a post-modern mind. To such a mind, there is no such thing as "objective reality", all they know for sure is what they feel. Because of that, there does not need to be a rational connection between their act of violence and a desired outcome. When you reject objective reality, you reject reason, hence "rational outcomes" are pointless. Under this scenario, they burned the church down because they were mad at Sarah Palin and they wanted to lash out.

To some on the left, Palin may appear to be a far-right religious zealot. To me and a whole lot of people I know, Palin is a nice lady who lacks a coherent world-view (Christian or otherwise) and is thus too statist and leftist. If post-modern God-haters want to burn her church down because she is unacceptably "Christian Right", just imagine what they want to do to the likes of me and my friends. Not to change my mind, not to win the debate, not to advance their cause, but simply to indulge their rage at people who believe in absolutes. Scary times indeed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Webb New GOP State Chair

Doyle Webb has been elected chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas. Webb is a former state senator who also served as chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Winn Rockefeller.

Jason Tolbert at the Tolbert Report has all the details, including video.

Tolbert says the race between Webb and Fayetteville businessman Joseph Wood was extremely close. Wood impressed the delegates and was elected to the Treasurer position. There may be an attempt at public office in his future.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama Eligibility: Why It Matters

Paling around. Obama and Blagojevich.


Today the Supreme Court hears an important case challenging Barack Obama's eligibility for President of the United States. Contrary to the misinformation you hear from the corporate media, the case that Obama is not constitutionally eligible for the office is so strong that I don't believe the Supreme Court has the moral courage to hear it. They are people like the rest of us, and if it seems like there is an easy way out of facing an unpleasant duty most of us are tempted to take it.

At work recently a young man summed up what many of you are thinking to me. "I don't care if he is constitutionally eligible or not, as long as he can fix the mess we are in".

The problem is that when we shove aside the law for the sake of a man we forfeit the protection of the law. That is to say, if we all agree to ignore what the Constitution says because Obama is popular, then what do we do when he says "you should not have these guns and ammo"? What happens when he says "These websites and radio stations critical of me are hate speech, and this must be stopped!"? It does no good to protest then that these actions are unconstitutional, for you have already agreed that the Man is bigger than the Law.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paul on the Auto Bailout

Paul hits a home run. Meanwhile, more Arkansas manufacturing jobs are lost and no one is talking about a bailout for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dillard's Woes Continue, Family Hunkers Down

Arkansas-Based Dillard's department stores are, like almost every retailer, having a rough time these days. Although it is incorporated, the Dillard family has kept a firm grip on the company. Now investors are making demands and want more input into how the company is run. It does not appear that the Dillard family is acceding to those demands so a show-down may be in the works.

My instinct is to cheer for an Arkansas-based business that is still family run. This is balanced by a sense of responsibility I would feel to someone who invested in my company. At the same time, capitalism unbridled by Christian morality is just as savage as the jungle- anything for a buck no matter what it does to my neighbor. In today's corporatist world, you'd better do it to your neighbor before the other company does and puts you at a competitive disadvantage.

On the other hand, it has long been rumored that the Dillard's family used their local pull to keep rivals like Macy's out of the state. In other words, they were doing on a state scale what the giant corporations do globally, use government rather to tilt the playing field their way rather than win business in the free market by serving people better. If THAT is true, then the real losers have been Dillard's customers in the state.

No answers on this one friends, just musings.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest

The state Republican and Democratic parties will elect new Chairmen this weekend, and for some reason I can't muster up any interest in the outcome. I don't see the direction of either organization changing with any of the likely candidates.

David Sanders did say a few things that caused the synapses to fire a bit in his recent column. He noted that the GOP gained state house seats in a terrible year for Republicans nationally. He attributes the success to not wasting resources battling for expensive Congressional seats they can't really win and instead focusing on smaller races.

Maybe that was the plan, and maybe it was from an inability to recruit candidates for those tough big races. I also note that although it was a bad year for Republicans nationally McCain did well in Arkansas. Apparently some Arkansas Democrats did not vote for the guy who vanquished Hillary.

Whether it was the original plan or it became the plan, it was and is a good strategy for the reeling state GOP or any new alternative party that might rise up. The key mistake new alternative parties make is swinging for the fence and wasting resources on offices that are too big relative to their political firepower.

Keep Your Enemies Closer: Corporate Media Gives Paul Air Time

After ignoring Ron Paul as long as they could when he had a chance to win the Republican nomination, the corporate media is suddenly giving Ron Paul lots of face time. He has been on MSNBC and CNN repeatedly.

Why, after a near total blackout of coverage, are they seeking Paul out for interviews? Is it that he proved to be right in his predictions of a looming financial crisis? Is it conscience? Is it ratings?

I believe two factors are in play here. One is that they were losing credibility with the more aware members of the public with their extreme efforts to keep Paul off the air. This is an attempt to get some of that credibility back and assure that group that the media is fair after all- at least once the elections are over and it no longer matters.

The other factor is that the Ron Paul supporters put together a very effective communications network centered on internet distribution of content. If you think about it, this is just what the corporate media does- they run a communications network. A continued blackout of Paul might induce him to do what he ought to do- continue to develop a communications network to end-run the ones controlled by global corporations. If they give him plenty of face time now, it might lure him to think that there is less need for such an alternative. He would then blow his millions on other things.

Don't take the bait Doctor. Take their coverage, but build the alternative anyway. The nation needs it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Snookered by Big Brother on REAL ID

Some of us who fervently try to stay up on issues and try to fulfill a mission of being watchmen on the wall have been snookered big time with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Real ID is to be implemented by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) which creates standards for a national driver license. This ID will be used as identification for "official purposes." Through this Act, citizens of the United States are being enrolled without their knowledge in a single global system of identification.

I learned a few years ago to look carefully at what the liberal government officials are saying up front because behind the scene they are doing just the opposite of what they are proclaiming from the roof top to be the truth. This same principle was applied perfectly to the REAL ID Act. The REAL ID ACT fooled both sides of the political spectrum: ACLJ and conservative organizations, as well as the ACLU.


Rarely do I ever agree with the ACLU and don't ever remember quoting from them before, but after they were brought into the battle, they got it right this time by saying "Since its enactment, the Real ID Act has troubled people across the political spectrum [Anti REAL ID has been introduced in all but eight states according to ACLU]. It was enacted through procedural trickery out of keeping with the spirit of democratic process vital for such a sweeping measure…amounts to a hidden tax increase, invades everyone's privacy, and embodies the worst excesses of bureaucratic government…The single interlinked database of drivers' personal information mandated by the REAL ID Act will be an irresistible honey pot for identity thieves" [Letter from Washington State Legislative Director, ACLU Larry Frankel February 7, 08]

ACLU member Calabrese alluded to a classic George Orwell novel in voicing his opposition to the Real ID Act. “It’s going to be ‘1984’ — just a little later, in 2008,” he said.

In testimony opposing REAL ID before a Congressional Hearing April 29, 08 Caroline Fredrickson, ACLU Director of Washington Legislative Office stated: REAL ID "offers only the fiction of security, while in fact threatening our security, vastly increasing the incidence and severity of identity theft, and changes our culture irrevocably without any significant, measurable benefits to the American people….and would lead to the building of a National ID card system over the next decade or more.

In this ACLU testimony, Fredrickson also says, "The very creation of a "REAL" Id will entice criminals and terrorists to acquire them so as to freely move throughout our society … When criminals and terrorists obtain Real ID licenses under assumed names they will walk through our society without scrutiny – just as the 9/11 hijackers."

ACLJ's Concerns With REAL ID

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the very conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) headed by Jay Sekulow is just as adamantly opposed to the REAL ID Act. ACLJ is specifically dedicated to protecting religious freedom of rights and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court and Federal Court of Appeals, In ACLJ's document opposing REAL ID, they express the following concerns in a document dated January 31, 08.

(1) Citizens of the United States being enrolled in a single global system of identification and financial control.

(2) "The extent of international involvement in the proposed REAL ID database system implicates national sovereignty issues in addition to the concerns expressed by many Americans that their personal information and biometric data will be made available outside the United States, without the citizen's knowledge or consent."

(3) [The REAL ID ACT of 2005 places the design and control of state issued ID documents in the hands of international organizations enrolling U.S. citizens into a global biometric ID system.]

(4) Concerns that this REAL ID driver license will become a national ID for "official purposes" stating, "The term 'official purposes' has been left intentionally vague, leaving great discretion to Department of Homeland Services (DHS) to add more activities in the future as it deems necessary and prudent." ACLJ is concerned that this ID may be required in the future for other areas of "official purposes" like gun purchases, voting, and certain banking transactions.

(5) "The Act prohibits [although it is not supposed to be mandatory] any federal agency from 'accept[ing], for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by the State to any person unless the State' meets certain requirements." (Some of those requirements include scanned birth certificates into permanent electronic storage along with a biometric photo, full legal name and birthday, social security number and principal residence. All this information must be put in a form compatible with UN standards.) ACLJ expresses concern that thee biometric identifiers could be expanded to other areas like the use of DNA make-up and voice recognition which are now under development.

States Rebel Against REAL ID

This REAL ID Act is so bad that states are moving en masse to reject it, and many states are refusing to comply. Eight states have passed statutes prohibiting implementation of REAL ID. Ten states have passed a Resolution Denouncing REAL ID or asking for the repeal of REAL ID. In eleven states anti REAL ID legislation has passed at least one chamber. In seven states anti REAL ID has been introduced. "In all, only eight states have not seen the introduction of anti-Real ID legislation," according to ACLU. See maps and text.

This is Part I of a six page article. For the rest of article where the following are discussed see this link:

Arkansas's Involvement in REAL ID (which might surprise you)
Cost of REAL ID
The views of the Stop Real ID Coaltion who brought ACLU and ACLJ together to battle this issue
The history of REAL ID,
The present status of REAL ID

Tough Line On Education: Am I Wrong For That?

Arkansas House Majority Leader Steve Harrelson has an excellent blog for covering state issues called "Under the Dome". Occasionally I comment on it, but this time I got into such a dialogue that I found myself doing more writing there than here. Now that's not right!

So what I am going to do is transport the dialog over here. Let me do the set up first. Steve posted an article on education reform. Someone lauded the KIPP school, which is a charter school for children from educationally challenged backgrounds that has very high standards. I will start with the poster I will call "The Utopian", because it was their remarks I was responding to. The Uptopian was down on KIPP and was for the current educational model.

"One of the things that charter schools do is take students who want to succeed, work hard, and keep their noses to the grindstone and educate them without the distractions of the not-so-motivated students. Regular public schools do not have that luxury...they have to educate any and all comers. They really cannot send those less motivated students somewhere else...they MUST do their best with them.

What happens is that charter schools take those that can and leave those that don't really want to do much for the regular schools to deal with. For the students (usually lower income) who do not have parents who are willing (or, who are able) to transport their children to a charter school and who do not have parents who are able to provide the parental input and support usually required in charter environments, they are left to get along as best as possible with all of the rest of the less-desired students in a district. That is not fair.

Charter schools never tell how many dropouts they have who start the year and fail to finish...or how many are sent back to the public schools for not "abiding" by the contract they initially sign when they enroll.

If charter schools had to take all comers, not allow any to drop out, and deal with the same problems as regular public schools, you would see the same results.

They are perpetuating a hoax on everyone as to their success rate and how it is achieved.

If all the time, money, and effort that is being expended on charter schools (and yes, I'm talking about KIPP, too) were applied to making the local regular schools work, they would perform better, do better, and show better results. As for me, don't even talk about charter schools being the end all to our problems in educating our children, as I am a non-believer."

My response and the dialog is on the jump. Tell me folks, am I being unreasonable Monday below and scroll down.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Unborn Has Right to Privacy, But Not Life

My wife is due to give birth to our daughter any day now, perhaps today. I recently went down to our local hospital to pre-register for us. The attendant had me sign privacy forms which said that it was OK to share medical information with family members who were in the delivery room and things of that nature. The hospital had to get our legal permission to waive our "privacy rights" to our medical information.

I signed one as the representative of my wife, and then the attendant gave me a second set of forms. This one was for my as-yet-unborn daughter. She too had her privacy rights, and her representative could give or with-hold permission for the doctor to discuss medical information with unauthorized persons.

Under the madness that is Roe v. Wade and our current intrusive yet irrational supreme court polices this child is still a candidate for abortion. So there is no law against butchering her, just discussing her medical information to others without the express consent of her representative! Her privacy rights are protected, but her life is not!

This is the kind of law and reasoning that gets produced by a morally, intellectually, and fiscally bankrupt society that has turned its back on God. When will we repent, turn around, and conform our lives and culture to the truth rather than expecting truth to conform to our sin natures? Will it be after our false prosperity vanishes and we are left with ashes and dust? Will it be after there is nothing for our children to eat but the bitter fruit of our wickedness? I am afraid that those days draw near, yet we will still refuse to change our ways.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lotto Memo Outlines Practices, Raises Questions

Roby Brock over at Business Talk reports on a memo that House Speaker Bobby Wills is circulating on the proposed lottery.

This lottery proposal is a bad idea on many levels. In extensive coverage of the issue I have often remarked that the state media has been absolutely derelict in its reporting of the problems with the bill, and speculated that they may be looking for a payoff in the form of lottery "advertising" when the thing gets running.

Rep. Wills' memo did not do much to alleviate my concern that there is a quid pro quo in the works. While one part of the memo suggested that "operating costs" should be kept to a meager 3.9% of "proceeds" for administrative expenses it was unclear whether advertising would be a part of that or separate, or whether "proceeds" was defined before or after marketing costs were included.

In addition, of the seven "best practices" points, five of the seven made references to advertising and/or promotions. It certainly sounds like a huge chunk of money is going towards media buys and explains why the state's media kept its mouth shut about the trip mines the way this proposal is set up.

One of the "best practices" was to basically have "instant winners" instead of waiting for a jackpot, so I guess people can gamble with the state every day now until their last time is gone.

Deconstructing Brummett on the New Media

Old Media Sounds Off About New Media
Arkansas columnist John Brummett has launched a new series of attacks against the new media, the latest of them here. The center of the dispute is with KATV’s “Choose Your News” whiz kid Kristin Fisher, but as in previous screeds, Brummett lashes out at various new media which do an end-run around him and his gate-keeper buddies.

Most of his criticisms are childish attempts to pin on the new media things that the old media has also been guilty of to some extent. He writes....

"The other day voters by the thousands elected a Channel 7 story for the next day on C-SPAN's big truck coming to Arkansas. As if that were news. But the big truck got snowed in up north. Uh, oh. They chose nonexistent news. I suspect it wasn't the first time."

So has there never been a time an editor sent a reporter to cover something that turned out to be a non-event? Sure. It happens every day. Why is it only a problem when it happens to the new media? My guess is because John Brummett is grasping at any straw to support his delusions that it will be a terrible tragedy if the news and opinion business gets decentralized.

He writes;"Children need to be made aware that interactivity, which is the supposed virtue of choosing your news, did not begin with the modern advent of the Internet with its cowardly anonymous personal attacks in the comment sections of blogs. "

Again, the old media does character assassination on a regular basis. They are just upset because now someone else has a chance to do it, or even defend themselves from old media character assassinations- which to the old media may be even worse! Remember that weasel Carl Cameron from FOX news last month breathlessly reporting that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent rather than a county and assorted other astounding instances of ignorance? Cameron was using " an anonymous aide high up in the McCain campaign" as his supposed source.

It turned out the stories were either gross distortions or outright fabrications, and the unvetted source was an imposter who did not work for McCain. The left does it too, for example remember Dan Rather and the "Fake but accurate" documents he insisted were newsworthy? In that instance, it was the bloggers of the new media who held that icon of the old media accountable for his fraud and led CBS to partially and temporarily clean up its act.

Newspapers use anonymous sources, and editorial pages issue unsigned attacks (though you can usually narrow down who wrote the attack) all the time. In addition, there is more than one way to issue a "cowardly attack". You can do it using anonymity, or you can do it by attacking someone who is unable to fight back because Brummett has a newspaper and they don't.

(I am going to need room here, the rest is on the THURSDAY below)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Big Tobacco:"Please Tax Me More"

Word is that the tobacco lobby in Arkansas is going to come out IN FAVOR of a tax increase on smokeless tobacco. Why would they do that? The answer is very instructive in the story of how big business has shifted from being part of the "leave me alone" coalition that favored small government to a powerful force for government growth. They no longer seek a "level playing field" with a friendly business climate, but rather seek to use government to tilt the playing field in their interests at the expense of the average citizen.

The tobacco lobby is funded by the brand names, not the generic labels. The lobby knows that its consumers are mostly hooked, and that price changes will not effect total consumption much, but rather act to change brands within the product. They have come out against a sales tax increase for smokeless tobacco which would tax the premium brands relatively more, but are pushing hard for a dry-weight tax on smokeless tobacco. That way a $2.00 can of the low end stuff gets the same .50 tax increase as the $4.00 premium label. This has the effect of making the premium label relatively more attractive, since in percentage terms the price increase on it will be lower than on the generics.

This is but a small example of the kinds of angles that business lobbies play every day in the halls of government. Big business has learned that the surer route to prosperity is not pleasing customers so much as it is influencing government to enact policies that favor them.

The unintended consequence of government growth is that at some point it gets so big that businesses follow the profits and start working harder to please government than they do the consumers. Just today my company decided they would not offer the product display boxes we make for retail sale even though customers liked the boxes and were willing to pay for them. The reason? Liability issues. There are stringent standards for all products now, right down to the number of gallons of water the toilet tank in your home is permitted to hold. A small company can't afford to track all the laws, better to not offer the product and please the government regulators rather than the customers.

The problem is particularly acute here in the Natural State where in their folly our leaders think the way to prosperity is to tax all businesses more in order to gather funds to bribe outside businesses here. The new business coming in (for a while) makes headlines. The negative effect such policies have on business climate does not make headlines.

A tax and business policy group recently rated all the states for business climate. The only thing that kept Arkansas out of the bottom ten is our low wages and our relatively unfriendly laws concerning unions. Word is out that the latter is shifting as Gov. Beebe keeps his commitments to core democratic groups to the chagrin of the big business interests in the NW part of the state who shifted sides to elect him. The low wages? That's not likely to change. Not with a general business climate that scrapes the bottom ten.

Brummett Goes After New Media

John Brummett does not like the new media, with its decentralization and emphasis on free choice. He prefers the good old days where if people wanted to know what they were supposed to care about the only option was to pick up a newspaper. There they could read about only what he and his elite group of co-conspirators wanted them to know.

This time though, Brummett is not lashing out at his usual helpless victim, but at a TV reporter with a platform of her own to answer him back. Kristin Fisher is a channel seven news reporter who answered him on her own blog.

No matter. The internet genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Technology is here to stay, and the old media is going to have to be able to defend its story selection, claims, biases, and intellectual premises. This time we live in can be a wonderful day for the furthering of mankind's knowledge and understanding. We have only to overthrow the old gatekeepers who have tried to hold us back. And we do that simply by continuing to do what we do- and what they do, better and faster than they do it.

John Brummett has harsh words for Fisher and many others over the years. T-Rex was once King, but the King is dead. Brummett is just a media dinosaur shaking his fist angrily and impotently at the approaching asteroid.

In a grudging nod to the new media, the word is that Brummett is going to have another go at his own blog. There is more than one definition of "blog", but I think most would agree that it is not a full blog if it does not allow readers to respond to the content of the blog host. Brummett did not have the moral courage for that last time he tried a blog and I doubt he has gotten it since then. We will see.

Duggar Book Goes On Sale Today

"Twenty and Counting" is the title of the book about this hyper-large, hyper-wholesome Arkansas family. MSNBC has a piece on it too.

Does anyone have a copy? Anything beyond the excerpts on MSNBC? What do you think?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Legislators Sort Out Lottery Issues

One of the major concerns legislators have in setting up a lottery, according to this Rob Moritz article, is that the money raised be spent on actual scholarships and not administrative expenses and salaries for lottery personnel.

I am glad they are concerned about it, but history tells us that they can't stop it from happening when the structure they are using for it is a constitutionally protected government monopoly. Remember the "Heros of 911"? The city of New York asked for and got $1 billion from Congress in order to set up a special insurance company just to deal with emergency response personnel claims from the attack. According to Susan Edelman of the NY Post the fund has paid out just $320,000 to five workers, but has spent over $127 million on legal fees and administrative overhead. The ruling elites really know how to milk a cash cow and take advantage of a sentimental public, eh?

What starts off as a noble cause inevitably becomes a jackpot for looters when a big institution is involved. This seems to be true especially true when the institution is government, but also applies to the heads of large corporations looting the company or even large religious institutions. I will say that the Catholic Church has done fairly well at combating this powerful pull. Maybe there is something about a life of celibacy that discourages the looters from worming their way in to an organization.

I expect that no matter what they do, at the end of the first year or two of operation, they will find that the money spent on administrative "expenses" exceeds the amount given out in scholarships. For one thing, millions and millions of dollars of print and other media ads must be purchased as a reward to the newspapers of this state for their complicit silence about the massive flaws in the lottery proposal.

The papers smelled this big payday all along, thus their refusal to act in the public interest. Guess what, they are not obligated to act in the public interest, they are going to act in their own interest like just about everybody else. They just want you to think they are acting in your interests because, well, that's in their interest too!

This is why the discussion of how to run it; straight government office; quasi-public, or private group subcontracted by the government, makes no difference and bores me. Keeping it all within the government is socialism, and the "public-private partnerships" are corporate-cronyism that approach fascism, at least in philosophy. If they had really wanted to do this in a way that would minimize waste and looting they would have set down the rules for permitting private lotteries, then taxed the earnings and the winnings. That is a free market approach that will minimize waste and maximize returns, since the groups competing against one another to sell lottery tickets will have an incentive to trim their waste. Not so with a government monopoly with constitutional protections, regardless of how it is run.

But the free market approach is often not how one makes money in our current (and failing) looters economy. It is not how Bill Halter made his money. Hence, the lottery creators had no interest in a free market approach, and so they will get another opportunity to learn the hard lessons of economic reality. Unfortunately when government is involved, the hardness of the lesson falls on the citizens, and therefore the legislators tend to take a pass on learning the lessons.

On the other side of the coin, lets say that due to excessive purity of heart and wisdom on the part of folks the legislature picks to run the lottery, they actually do make 100 million dollars and the great majority of it goes to college scholarships. They will then find that there is simply no place to stick the money. Colleges already spend up to 30% of their budget on scholarships. We are simply running out of worthy young scholars to throw money at! Already, our colleges are recruiting in other states to get good students to come get an education at our expense, and then likely leave on graduation to return home where the suitable jobs are. That is not a path to prosperity for Arkansas, but a suckers route to continued economic under performance. We under perform because our leadership under performs. Impenetrable groupthink substitutes for analysis.

But maybe the money the colleges spend on scholarships could be shifted to other things! If that even passes a court challenge, which is iffy, what would they spend the money on? The U of A Fayetteville President just spent seven million taxpayer dollars on his residence. At Conway, they have residences they can loan out as favors to well-connected people. If you look at the campuses of most colleges in this state, they are nicer than the average residences. Higher education is one of the most over funded areas of state government. If they do somehow manage to cram another almost 100 million dollars into it while we are on the verge of a depression then the recriminations will be bitter and long. In other words, I think the lottery will blow much of its revenues, but even if it does not, the money will not be well spent.

Like the lottery itself, the best way to win the game is not to play it. The legislature should not pass a lottery bill that is a lose-lose for the state.