Monday, February 24, 2014

Beebe vs. Martin on True Political Compromise and Principled Governance

Governor Mike Beebe got Medicaid expansion passed through the Senate by acceding to the wishes of a single legislator (Sen. Jane English (R) of Little Rock) as to how tens of millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent, and diverting several million dollars from the "Rainy Day Fund" and "General Revenues" without the specific approval of the overall legislature.

If all that is legal, it shouldn't be.  What a chicken-scat way to run a state government.  Just do whatever gets you what you want now, regardless of how much damage the precedent will do to the state in the future.

The bill has not passed the house as I write this, but Beebe minion (even though he is a Republican) House Speaker Davy Carter is forcing the House to vote on the exact same bill over and over until it passes.  Again, what a chicken-scat way to run state government.   Obviously, they are working to see who they can bribe or bully into voting for the exact same bill the member opposed four times before.

OK, Mark, you say they are doing it the wrong way.  What is the right way to do it?  If you claim they are unprincipled in the way they pass legislation, then what is the principled way?  Here I will defer to a definition provided by our Secretary of State.  Secretary of State Mark Martin understands what "compromise" on legislation means under principled governance:
True political compromise is not achieved by individual politicians abandoning or changing their principles due to positive or negative incentives external to the bill being considered. True political compromise is only achieved when the bill being considered is sufficiently changed to reflect the principles of a sufficient number of politicians the electorate chose. To insist upon re-voting on the exact same bill repeatedly is to insist that those voting compromise their principles rather than the bill itself compromise to reflect those principles.
"Principled Governance" is something this state has never had a surplus of, and it is scarcer now than ever.     The ruling class in this state has consistently gotten bills passed in unprincipled ways.  It is worse here than in many states, in my view.  Certainly the bribery with tax dollars is more open here than elsewhere.  

Corruption has consequences.  Arkansas should be one of the most prosperous states in this nation.   We have a wide array of natural sources, including oil, gas, and timber.   We have a hard working population with below-average wages and cost of living.   We are centrally located and have an excellent system of waterways.  When any entity underperforms over a long period of time, it is invariably the fault of those who are running it.   The ruling class of Arkansas has been holding the state back.   The private option fiasco has been just one example.

In an atmosphere of taxpayer-financed payoffs it costs a lot more money than it should to get anything passed.  This is because the expectation is that there will be pay-offs external to the bill being considered.  This only encourages more hold-outs to make even more demands.  This drastically drives up the cost of governing even as it reduces the efficiency of governing.  In the short term it looks like Gov. Mike Beebe "got something done".   But he did it in a manner which accelerates the structural rot in our whole system.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Accepting the Left's Premises on Medicaid Expansion (Private Option)

If you are already familiar with the background, you may want to skip down to this point "*****".

The Arkansas Legislature is in a dead-lock over whether to fund a key component of Obamacare- the expansion of Medicaid.  In Arkansas, this is being done via a Medicaid plan which routes the Medicaid money through insurance providers first rather than directly to the providers of medical services.  This scheme is deceptively called the "Private Option".  So far it seems to combine the worst of Socialism and Crony Capitalism in one un-affordable package.

All of the Democrats support funding the expansion.   Almost all Republicans were elected on a platform of opposing it, but more than half have caved and decided to vote to fund it anyway.  The federal government has arranged funding to conceal and mis-state the cost of this expansion of government in the short term.    When Gov. Mike Beebe says rejecting the "Private Option" will leave an 89 million dollar hole in the budget here is what he means:  The feds would not borrow 89 million more dollars on the taxpayer's account and give it to Beebe and the legislature to spend on expanding Medicaid, with Arkansas Blue Cross taking a cut on the way.   

Several polls have been cited showing that the public is split fairly evenly on whether to expand Medicaid, even when the poll mentions it is part of Obamacare.  Still, all of the polls on the subject are extremely slanted in favor of the expansion for this reason- none of them mention how the expansion will be paid for.  They all say something like "do you favor expanding Medicaid so that uninsured adults have access to medical coverage?"  

Well, if there is no price tag attached to it, what kind of ogre would be against that? Sure, health care for everyone!  But that is not a fair question because it asks if people want to give someone else a benefit while never mentioning who will be stuck with the bill for it.  If the question was stated giving both costs and benefits rather than just benefits it would be more like "do you favor expanding Medicaid so that uninsured adults have access to medical coverage to be paid for by sending the bill to the next generation via increased government borrowing?"   I am confident that most Arkansans do not want to steal from children to pay for government hand-outs, but the questions are never asked that way.

Fortunately a 3/4ths majority of the legislature is required to pass appropriations bills.  Two votes have been held, and the forces that want to fund it appear to be short and getting shorter of the number required.  The conservative Republicans, the ones who have been keeping their campaign promises, have mostly resisted the pressure.   

They don't have to do a thing other than what they have been doing to win.  Despite his childish threats to hold the same vote over and over until its passed, the clock is ticking against House Speaker Davy Carter.   But unfortunately, the conservatives have recently fallen into a trap.  They have accepted the false premises of their enemies.   Unless they start taking on these false premises instead of trying to accommodate them, they are going to wind up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Oh, they may get re-elected a time or two more, but only by continuing the policies which are destroying the country.  


The question they have been asked over and over again by the media is "what are you going to do for the 100,000 Arkansans who have already signed up for insurance through the Private Option?  Are you just going to take their insurance and leave them with nothing?" Another version of this is "well, you are just saying 'no' to everything, what is your alternative?  What is your plan to make certain that all adults have access to medical care?

Their (Sen. Jim Hendren and Rep. Bob Ballinger did most of the talking for a large group of conservative legislators) response to this pressure can be seen at this press conference held at noon today.   They say they don't want to take any health insurance away from those who have already signed up.  Their solution is to freeze enrollment in June, and fund it at that level until next March, when the next legislature can decide whether to re-open enrollment or defund the program.  This course of action will require a waiver from the feds, which if not granted would result in the defunding of the program after June.

In advancing this proposal, they have walked into a policy trap.  The left started by making an unreasonable demand, fund this all now, and they feel like they have to "compromise" and offer something in the middle (fund much of this now and decide later whether to fund the rest of it).  They have basically surrendered to negotiating on a Hegelian basis, which cannot produce an end result of truth.

I negotiate for a living, and they are doing this wrong.  They are doing this wrong if the goal is to defend conservative principles.  If they have a goal of rescuing a floundering gubernatorial candidate of their political party then they may be doing it right.   But that would just be more fodder for the idea that all legislators should be elected as independents rather than go through a D.C. based party.   That way they would owe only the people in their districts, not a party label. Instead of changing their views to do whatever is in the interest of the Governor when he is in their party, they can just worry about what their constituents want.

Reporters immediately asked Ballinger and Hendren about people who had not signed up by the end of June.  Why leave them without health insurance? And if they did not want anybody to lose their health insurance then why only fund it until this time next year when, presumably, if the legislature fails to re-fund it, then all those same people who will lose their health insurance this July (when current funding runs out) would lose it just the same next March?

All good questions if one accepts the premise that the government should provide health insurance to every able-bodied adult.  But that's the problem.  It is a false premise.   It's not up to them to provide an alternative way for the government to provide able bodied adults with health insurance, because it is something the government should never be doing for many reasons.   

What is the conservative alternative to "ensure" people have health care?  We have no plan to do that, nor should we have a plan to do that, because it is a plan which cannot be done without taking money and freedom from whoever we force to pay for it all (in this case, the debt for the next generation, stealing from children with no vote to defend themselves).  

What's my alternative? Freedom, that's my alternative.   I will take it further because the choice is not really between government provided health care and freedom.  The long term choice will be between the illusion of government-provided health care and freedom.   Choose the former and you will lose freedom, but in the long run you will not gain health care.   Europe and Japan are broker than we are after one generation of trying it, and that was with us shouldering most of what should have been their defense spending.   We are even not paying for the government health care we have now- Medicaid and Medicare are drowning us in debt.  

Something is going to ration scarce resources, and no man-made law can undo that iron law of economics.   With government health care, instead of your family budget deciding how much health care you will have, a government bureaucrat will decide.  When scarce resources are being allocated, there will be a rationing process.  That may be painful, but its reality.  Lying, thieving politicians sell people on the idea that they don't have to face that reality if they just give up their freedom, but its another lie.  Reality will have to be faced - either now or once our national credit card is maxed out and we are in an even worse position to deal with it.

Some people are complaining that we can't give 100,000 people health insurance and then take it away from them when the funding runs out in June.  It was written right into the law that it was not an entitlement and they could lose it, so why can't we? Plus, it never should have been given in the first place.

If every day I take a dollar from you and give it to Joe, am I doing Joe wrong by telling him that come July I am going to quit taking a dollar from you and giving it to Joe?   Of course not. Joe had no right to your dollars in the first place.  Joe gets six months worth of benefits from the deal.  If he loses them, well, he is losing something that he never should have gotten in the first place.  Not that we are denying one single person health insurance,  What we are doing is denying them access to other people's earnings to pay for health insurance.

It never should have been funded in the first place.  The answer is not to freeze it in place for a year, the answer is to undo the mistake and de-fund it.   By accepting all of the left's premises, they are going to wind up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Government does not have the means to fulfill their promises of what they will do for you if only you give them control of your health care.  And they don't care that they can't keep the promises they are making, they are just saying whatever they have to say to get control.

This thing was sold with lies ("if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period"), it was passed in Arkansas with lies ("a vote for the Private Option is a vote against Obamacare") and now it is being sustained with lies as they tell us we just can't simply end a program that did not exist six months ago even though they assured us then that it was written into the law that it was not an entitlement and could be ended at any time.

I urge conservatives in the legislature to re-consider and reject this path to defeat whereby you want to freeze enrollment but continue to fund it.  Once you surrender on the premises you surrender on the argument.   Instead, if you must offer "compromise", delay all of the funding until March of 2015.  That is, when it ends in June it ends for eight months.  We stop stealing dollars and giving them to Joe.  Then the next legislature can decide in Jan. and Feb. of 2015 if they wish to resume stealing dollars and giving them to Joe.

Obama himself has unilaterally delayed certain aspects of the law with his name on it for a year.  He delays implementation whenever he wants.   The Legislature should do the same and defer this decision until after the elections so that the people, the real rulers of this state, can break this dead lock in a way that will have some legitimacy.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mad Man Takes Legislature Hostage!

News Flash: Mad-man holds legislature hostage! The vote to fund the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare failed in the house today by five votes.   House Speaker Davy Carter says he is going to keep calling for the same vote until he gets the result that he wants! Is this the way the Republic is supposed to work? Someone call hostage rescue! Really, read this and see if you can come to another other conclusion.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Legislature Shoots Its Own Foot, AG then Hands Gun to Martin

There is more going on in Arkansas government right now than whether or not to fund the mis-named "Private Option" Medicaid expansion (not that it will be funded with much besides borrowed dollars).   Take for example, this next story, which ought to serve as evidence that our legislature is not competent enough to undertake a major expansion of anything.

With Act 1413 of 2013 the legislature made it much harder for grassroots activists who want to pursue ballot initiatives to get them on the ballot.   The law also made changes to the way the three referred amendments are done.  Each regular session, the legislature can refer three suggested amendments to the people for approval.   This time their package includes an an amendment which will weaken Arkansas' term limits provisions. This amendment is deceptively crafted to make it look like an ethics reform amendment which establishes term limits. 

They may be sneaky devils, but they are not competent ones.   Act 1413 also took from the Attorney General the power to give popular names to referred amendments and gave that power to the legislature.  Too bad for them they never bothered to provide the names. The legislature failed to provide such names, yet they gave themselves alone the power to do so.  And courts have ruled that referred amendments cannot go to the ballot without such names. Oops.

There has been pressure on Secretary of State Mark Martin's office to create names, or use names suggested by the Attorney General, in order to get those amendment questions from the legislature placed on the ballot.   His office asked the Attorney General if they even had the legal authority to do that.   The AG's office produced a stream of convoluted verbiage which told him that he could go ahead and open that can of worms.  This places the Secretary of State in a no-win position.  

 After reviewing the Attorney General's memo I am more convinced than ever that there is no legal authorization for Secretary Martin to supply popular names to any referred amendment. Whatever he does in this matter will position him for criticism from some quarter. Therefore the only choice he will have is whether he will be criticized for acting justly, or unjustly. Should he take upon himself a power not given to him by law, he will be criticized justly. Should he act with restraint and fidelity, having care not to exceed his lawful authority in the name of expediency (which is ever the excuse of the over-reaching executive) the criticism he will receive will be unjust.

It is often harder to abide by the particulars of the law, than to take creative license to disregard them. Still, if one is to expect regular citizens to abide by the particulars of the law it is my belief that the Executive must set the finest of examples and do the same, even on occasions where doing so is inconvenient. After all, the citizens often find the law inconvenient as well, but are not allowed to set it aside on that account.

In the last State of the Union Address, a man many consider to be the President of the United States spoke of using his pen and phone, not to veto law, but to create it- filling in new powers by Executive fiat where the legislature did not grant him the course most in accordance with his wishes. This is most rightly recognized as an abuse of power by fair-minded and reasonable persons.

Should Secretary Martin ask for clarification from one or both of the other branches of government before he acts, it would be a shining example of how a respectable Executive branch office-holder ought to comport themselves. Should he push on and act without such clarification, he would be guilty in a small way of the same trespasses against divided government that Barack Obama means to do in a great way.

As to the memo from the Attorney General on the real question at hand, if one looks closely, it subsisted entirely of personal opinion and appeal to necessity unsupported by either law or court precedent. First, let's look at where the opinion gave ample evidence for its conclusions....

The opinion provided ample evidence that referred amendments do not require ballot titles so long as they have a sufficient popular name. They cited the court precedents for that, even though they acknowledge several statues refer to both. Let's say for the sake of argument that this covers for one half of the double failure of the legislature on SJR7. This still leaves us with their failure to provide a popular name on all three of the issues.

They offered ample evidence that the Secretary of State is authorized, and even has a duty, to enumerate the issues. He is to provide the issue numbers.

They offered ample evidence that issue numbers alone do not provide enough differentiation to constitutionally place issues on the ballot without a popular name.

All of the above takes us to the second half of page six and then page seven in the opinion. All the rest of the letter up until this point does not even speak to the real trouble at hand- that the legislature gave itself and itself alone the power to give popular names to referred amendments, and then failed to provide them.

Is there anything on the second half of page six or page seven like a law authorizing the Secretary of State to take it upon himself if the legislature fails to act? No, as the opinion itself says in the center of page six “But, as noted above, no official has been expressly assigned the duty to prepare either a popular name or a ballot title when the joint resolution does not designate one”.

To what do they appeal then when they offer the opinion that Secretary Martin might seize the pen and write where the legislature has failed to do so? They appeal to necessity, that father of Executive over-reach, when they write “There is, nevertheless, a practical necessity of sufficiently identifying legislative proposals on the ballot.”

Oh, they do cite Article 19: 22 of the State Constitution, which outlines the process. Surely the Secretary of State has a duty to place a properly referred amendment on the ballot, but to say that means he himself may therefore cure improperly referred amendments is to beg the question. The issue constitutionally, is the last sentence of article 19:22 : Proposals are to “be so submitted as to enable the electors to vote on each amendment separately.”

The process of submitting a proposal in that manner has many components, some of which are in fact the responsibility and duty of the Secretary of state. Composing popular names is simply not one of them. Article 19:22 does not say that the Secretary of State has responsibility for this process (in fact, the SoS is not mentioned anywhere in 19:22). Rather the legislature, in taking the power to issue ballot titles and popular names themselves, have specified that they have the power to perform that component of the job of preparing the proposals so as to “be so submitted as to enable the electors to vote on each amendment separately.”

The courts have ruled (per the cites in the AG's memo) that the popular name is a part of the process of getting the proposals to “be so submitted as to enable the electors to vote on each amendment separately.” There is a duty to produce these names to properly get proposals on the ballot, but the subset of that which involves devising the popular names is not Mark Martin's duty. It's the legislature's duty. Where the legislature gives themselves the power, they give themselves the duty. Listing all the duties the Secretary of State does have in the submission process does not alter one whit the duties which he does not have. He does not have the duty, or authority, to devise popular names for referred amendments. The legislature explicitly gave that power to themselves, not him.

Given that, the case from the AG rests on nothing but an argument from necessity, not propriety, along with mere unsubstantiated belief. Take this quote from page seven for example:
“....ideally this will be expressly addressed by the General Assembly, either in the joint resolution
proposing the amendment or by statute. Absent legislative clarification, however,
I believe the Secretary of State has the power, if not the duty, to ensure that proper
submission to the electorate occurs. I believe this reasonably follows from his
significant statutory role in the submission process”

The Secretary of State does have a significant statutory role in the submission process, but devising popular titles for referred amendments is simply not one of those statutory roles, no matter what the AG's office “believes”. To the contrary, that role is specifically and by statute reserved to the legislature by Act 1413 of 2013.

The AG's memo does not even attempt to claim that the old law applies to these proposals because they were passed a few days before Act 1413 of 2013 became law. That argument may or may not fly in court. After all, 1413 had no grandfather clause, but did have an emergency clause making it law immediately on passage, nor were the popular names selected by the AG prior to the law's change. If the AG's office didn't even make that case, I don't know why your office should.

So what to do now that the legislature has failed to perform? The legislature is in fiscal session, with a super-majority vote they could fix this problem, which is only fair since their actions made it their responsibility. They could amend 7-9-204 to say “....may designate in the joint resolution proposing and amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, or elsewhere,” Then they could pass another resolution giving the popular name of each proposal. Or they could authorize the Secretary of State to provide popular names and ballot titles for referred amendments if the legislature fails to do so.  

I call on the legislature to do the right thing and fix part of the mess they made when they gave themselves new authority yet failed to fulfill the responsibility which came with it.  The people are weary of government breaking its own rules when convenient to itself even while it devises ever more laws and regulations to which we are expected to abide.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Fellowship of the Realistic

The left in Arkansas is howling that "only nine state Senators" are standing in the way of funding the "Private Option (i.e. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare). The real scandal is that there are only nine public servants standing against something most Arkansans don't want. Why is the whole system, bent on expanding government and increasing debt when most of us think its a bad idea? That these nine are standing firm is not the scandal. The scandal is that this ever got far enough that these nine had to take a determined stand to stop it.

Here are the nine holding back the debt-driven fiscal darkness, should any of them go to the dark side, Obamacare will continue its destructive work in Arkansas.   Resources will be misallocated in an unsustainable program until the maximum number of people are dependent on it, then it will collapse.

Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers
Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale
Jim Hendren, R-Gravette

Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs
Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View
Bryan King, R-Green Forest;
Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch
Jane English, R-North Little Rock
John Cooper, R-Jonesboro

Monday, February 10, 2014

Defund Medicaid Expansion Now

My message to hospitals, insurers, fellow-citizens and legislators who still want to fund the expansion of Medicaid deceptively known as "The Private Option" is simple: Keep your thieving hands out of our children's pockets.  Government officials and hospitals are using scare tactics to try and sustain their access to your children's future earnings.  Hospitals, I hope you stay open.  But if you need more government debt laid on my children's future in order to stay open, then I say shut your doors right now.  If that's the price, you don't deserve to stay open.

At some point, our economy has to start operating on a sustainable basis. It is just not sustainable for industries and institutions that can't stay afloat without the government writing a bunch of IOUs to keep operating.  Find a way to operate within your means or sell out to someone who can.  Don't expect my kids to pay for your desire to escape painful adjustments to the market.

One of the original positive claims about the so-called "Affordable Care Act" was that it started out very close to budget neutral.  That is, it would not add very much to the crushing debt burden that our generation is selfishly, irresponsibly, and unsustainably running up for all manner of "free" government goodies.  Because America's credit was good, too many of us have been corrupted.  We have gone from responsible citizens to a mob demanding "free" stuff from the government.  Nothing is free of course, its paid for by someone, and unprincipled politicians soon arose to cater to the demands of an unprincipled population.  The goodies were handed out, and the bills were passed onto the next generation.   May God forgive us!

There cannot be a more cowardly or feckless way to pay for vote-buying than through the use of debt.  Little children and the unborn, who have no vote to defend themselves against the looting of their future earnings, are robbed by low-life politicians who pass off their sickening child abuse as some sort of noble act.   And the Free Stuff Mob believes it is free because they want to believe it.  They believe the lie for the reason most lies are believed- because facing the truth involves short-term discomfort.  We as a society are not just failing a test of character here, we are failing the next generation.

Originally, Obamacare was to cost just under $1 trillion taxpayer dollars for the first ten years and was to pay for that amount mostly through raising $500 billion in taxes and cutting $491 billion from Medicare.   Those numbers assume that millions of young healthy people with good jobs sign up for coverage and pay highly inflated premiums.   Should that fail to happen, the cost goes much higher.   It is mostly failing to happen, because most healthy young people don't have good jobs.   Those who do are loaded down with debt from college and cannot afford to pay the enormous costs of the "Affordable" care act.

But even if things go as planned, in the second ten years, the cost goes up to $2.85 trillion, and we don't know where we will get the extra money.   And as for the proposed $500 billion in tax increases, Obama has already blinked on the bulk of it when he unilaterally changed the law without authorization from the legislative branch and delayed the "Employer Mandate" for at least one year.  We will see after tax time what happens with the individual mandate.  The rest of the taxes that are supposed to pay for it come from taxes on medical equipment.   On a highly inelastic good paid for by the government, those increases in taxes are going to go right back into increases for medical treatment.  In other words, those taxes are a sham.   They will just drive up the cost of care that much more than anticipated, leaving the net effect of the tax at zero.

And what about the $491 billion in cuts to Medicare?  Most of it has not happened yet.  They back-loaded the cuts and front-loaded the spending, as the almost always do, to get a final number that sounded better.  Many of those "cuts" they counted were things that have been repeatedly scheduled in the past, but never followed through on.   Reimbursements to physicians is the big example.  If they push that one too much harder, people will have coverage, but won't have access to care.  That is already starting to happen with Medicaid.

So Obama has blinked on some of the taxes already, and others will simply drive up medical costs and thus do nothing to fund Obamacare on net.   The cuts are almost all in the future and most of them are things that Congress has consistently backed down on cutting at the last minute and would harm access to care if they were cut anyway.   And even if all that had worked out, there is no plan to pay for the increases for the following decade.  Basically, Obamacare is now on track to be just another debt-financed expansion of government.

It may be hard for some voters to sort all this out, because of the brazen way in which some politicians and media in this state are repeating the claim that the "Private Option" is not Medicaid expansion.  This is false.  The so-called "Private Option" is Medicaid expansion. They have a temporary (expires in 2016) waiver from the Obama administration to direct the flow of money a little bit differently than the traditional way Medicaid money has flowed in the past, but it is still a Medicaid program, funded with federal Medicaid dollars, subject to Medicaid guidelines, and directed by the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, just like the regular way of doing Medicaid. This is Obamacare in a hat and sunglasses, and in 2016 the hat and sunglasses can come off.

We will not reduce the number of our population on Medicaid by implementing the so-called "Private Option", we will greatly increase it, mostly with able-bodied adults.  Instead of one Medicaid program we will have two, the traditional one that pays providers directly, and another which uses insurance companies to stand in the middle and take a cut.  The total population in the two programs will be much higher than the population in the one previous "traditional" Medicaid program.

I am just amazed at the brazen way in which some Republican legislators have tried, and are still trying, to make the false claims that the "Private Option" is not an expansion of Medicaid and that it somehow undoes or opposes Obamacare. One hundred percent of the Democrats in the state legislature voted to fund the Private Option.  Would they have done that if it really was opposition to Obamacare?

The latest in all this is the claim that there was nothing they could do to stop the implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas because it was "already the law." That was not what they said when they were running for office on a platform of opposing the expansion of Obamacare, but its their story now and some of them are sticking to it, much to the disgust of those of us who have taken the time to find out what is really going on.

They could not have stopped some things about Obamacare, but they could have stopped the key part of Obamacare which entailed expanding Medicaid.  This was not a part of what was "already the law", that they had no choice about.  They had to agree to expand Medicaid.  And they did agree to it, some of them are just not honest enough to admit that this is what they did when they came up with the "Private Option" label.

You are witnessing the "big lie theory" put into practice when they make these claims. There was and is much that states can and have done to block the implementation of much of Obamacare in their states. Most of the Republicans in Arkansas just decided to rework the split of the looting so that big insurance and the hospital systems got a bigger cut and go with a plan which combines all of the worst features of Obamacare and crony capitalism.

Obamacare was structured so that if states expanded Medicaid they got what looked to them like "free money" for a few years.  Since most politicians can't see past the next election, it looked like a good deal to them.  On the long term though, it commits Arkansas citizens to increased costs not just as federal taxpayers but as state taxpayers.   Obama structured the funding to be like the bait on a fish-hook, and they took the bait.   The state numbers will look good for a couple of years as the federal numbers look worse, then they will both look worse.

The economy stinks right now.  Past government overspending has put a debt-overhang on the economy that is dragging us down.  I understand that some people are in  a desperate situation.  If you have to use it, use it.  But even if you have to take the coverage, I implore you to vote against the politicians who put it in place.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Neighbors of Arkansas Sues State Over Change in Ballot Access Laws

Note: I am a member of this group.

A grassroots group which helps Independent candidates running for public office is suing the state for recent changes to ballot access laws. Neighbors of Arkansas ( filed their suit in federal court this week. The complaint alleges that changes made to ballot access laws after the 2012 election cycle discriminate against independent candidates in comparison to candidates from the major parties, and that this difference in treatment is a violation of the 1st and 14th amendments.

Tom Mayfield of Elkins is a spokesman for the group. When asked about the group's purpose, Mayfield said that some members have a belief that national parties will always tend to get a life of their own and over time fail to represent the interests of the rank and file. Other members just don't care to associate with the major parties in their current state. Almost all of them think that the idea of routing candidates for state, or especially local, offices through a political party headquartered in Washington DC is counter-productive. “Why outsource the job of vetting political candidates to these out-of-state organizations? “ Mayfield asked rhetorically. “It doesn't make sense, it hasn't been working well for us, and its time politicians answered only to the folks back home, and not a political party.”

With regards to the reason for this lawsuit, Mayfield cited the changes in the law in 2013 making it harder for Independent candidates to get on the ballot after a record of eleven independent candidates filed for seats in the state legislature in 2012. “It is like the parties know that people are frustrated with them both, and they could either fix that by starting to listen to people, or they could just change the law so that no matter how fed up people are, they have to keep going through them. It seems like that is the course they are taking.”

Petitions signed by the voters are required in order for an Independent candidate to be placed on the ballot. The number of signatures varies depending on the size of the office sought, but the maximum for a state-wide office is 10,000. In the past, candidates could go file in the filing period and then go get the signatures. Now they are required to have the signatures with them when they file (March 3rd is the final filing day). They must obtain the signatures within a 90 day period, so that means signature gathering must now occur in the dead of Winter with reduced daylight hours, cold weather, and the Christmas holidays.

The suit asks the court to throw out the changes in the law which make citizens who seek public office subject to more restrictions and fewer options than those who obtain access via one of the two major parties. “One of the people in our suit ran as an Independent candidate last time, and he and his wife did not make the decision to run until the night before the last full day of the filing period. That guy (Mark Moore of Pea Ridge who garnered 39% of the vote in a bid for House Seat 95) could not make that same decision according to the law today that he made in 2012. Only people in the parties can make a last minute decision to file for the state legislature now, because now an independent would have to show up with about 400 voter signatures on a petition. In 2012 Mark got those after he filed.”

The state of Arkansas has lost numerous lawsuits with regard to ballot access in the last two decades, but Mayfield says that certain patterns seem to repeat themselves. “At one time signatures had to be turned in by March the 1st, and the courts ruled that was too early, so it was changed to May 1st for a few years (including 2012). Now the Republicans and Democrats in the legislature have moved it back to early March. I have a feeling the courts are not going to appreciate that.” said Mayfield.    

Log Cabin Democrat Has it Wrong With Cradduck and Open Carry


April 14 2016 - I have emailed an apology to Mr. Joe Lamb of the Log Cabin Democrat for this article. In this article I unjustly assumed that Sheriff Cradduck's position was somehow misrepresented by the Log Cabin Democrat. Recent events have shown me that it at least as likely that Mr. Cradduck said one thing to them and another to me. I sincerely apologized to Mr. Lamb, and I am going to leave this article up as a reminder to myself to be more cautious about whose story you accept as true.


What do I call police chiefs and Sheriffs in Arkansas who are still willing to arrest otherwise law-abiding citizens who are carrying a firearm? It would not be proper to call them "Law Enforcement Officers" because what they would be enforcing would not be the law at all, since Act 746 clearly states that open carry of a firearm in itself is not a crime. Maybe we should call them "personal preference enforcement officers" (PPEOs) since what they would be enforcing is their own personal preferences and not the letter of the law itself?
At any rate, I was glad to discover that, despite a media report to the contrary, that Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck is not in the PPEO category and continues to enforce the law as written. This report in Conway's "Log Cabin Democrat" claimed " Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck and Garland County Prosecutor Steve Oliver say that “open carry” is still illegal in their jurisdictions."
I asked the Sheriff about this by asking: "This article claims that it is your position that open carry of firearms is still illegal in Benton County even after act 746. Is that in fact your position Sheriff?"
Craddock set the record straight by replying "No, open carry will be allowed."
I am not surprised that the Log Cabin Democrat got that wrong, because I have noticed that they get quite a bit wrong in what they cover and also what they fail to cover when they should.
At any rate, as a Benton County resident I for one am pleased to know that I can disregard the misinformation put out by the state's establishment newspapers and continue to vote Cradduck.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Trouble in Conway: Trash for Cash

There are allegations that Conway Mayor Tab Townsell raided the sanitation fund to spend money elsewhere, then called for a huge increase in sanitation fees to cover the shortfall.   Details here

We will see what happens, but I do know that city officials rarely say something like "if this tax increase does not go through, I am going to have to lay off my wife's idiot cousin in Welfare and Rec."  No, they always claim a loss of essential services, like police, fire, or trash.

It now appears that the Townsell administration in Conway has been using bogus data to justify its sanitation budget.   They have said that the sanitation trucks had to be replaced every five years when the industry standard is more like twelve years of service.

The commenters on the link above show a great awareness about the town's establishment newspaper.  Establishment media does not exist to inform the public, it exists to protect the establishment.  The scam can only continue until people figure it out.  In Conway, they are figuring it out.

When blogger Nick Horton blew the whistle on Conway's $130,000 Christmas tree and the Log Cabin Democrat attacked him for it rather than the city officials who overpaid, that told me all I needed to know about the Log Cabin Democrat.  They demonstrated the true function of establishment media everywhere.