Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why I Just Helped George Pritchett Raise $500 for His State Senate Campaign

I just helped former Garland County Justice of the Peace George Pritchett raise $500 for his race for State Senate District 14 against establishment-crony Republican Bill Sample of Hot Springs.  Some may recall that this month I reported that I also gave $500 to Marc Rosson for State Representative in his race for the seat presently held by Nate Bell of Mena.  As for any other candidates who smell my monetary blood in the water since I have now donated to two candidates- don't bother. My wife says I can stop donating money to people running for public office now, and I am going to take her hint.

It is not just that Bill Sample was rated by our panel of activists as one of the worst legislators in Arkansas.  Pritchett is a good candidate, and there is every reason to believe he will continue to be a good legislator in office.  You see Pritchett is running as an Independent.  He is not plugged into a party machine that is powered from Washington D.C. with special interest money from global (not even strictly American) corporations.   He does not have divided interests.  If elected, he will owe only the people of his district, not a party label or a party machine.  He will represent only the people of his district, not a party.

I have long held this up as a better model for governing than the two party model.  I think almost all legislative offices ought to be filled by independents backed by local citizens groups.   If you think about it, the system of checks and balances put in place by the Founders gets short-circuited when the same party controls candidates from both the executive branch and the legislative branch.  Nor can the states balance the feds when the same DC parties provide the politicians for both state and federal offices.  Ultimately they are in the same club.   No wonder American government is in the state that it is in!

I believe it is important that independents start winning elected office, particularly in the legislature.  It is important structurally for our government.   Pritchett is a trade up from Sample, in terms of limited government, and avoiding cronyism.   This race is important.  I and my friends at Neighbors of Arkansas would like you to help if you can.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seeing Things Coming

What does it mean to be "credible?" What makes someone "credible" when they advocate for a certain course of action or make a prediction about future consequences? Is getting lots of face time in the establishment media what makes one credible? Is saying what the herd says and staying within the bounds of "mainstream" thought what makes one credible?

I suggest to you that the fairest test of who is credible and who is not is to look at their history. That is, go back and look at what they said, look at what their opponents said, and then see who turned out to be correct. The one who was most often correct is the credible person, the ones who turned out to be frequently wrong are not credible, regardless of who the corporate media tells you that you ought to listen to.

Special credit should be given to the person who makes predictions that are outside of conventional wisdom which later turn out to be correct. Here is an example: Suppose "everyone", the political and media leadership on both sides, say "we ought to do X". One person, or a few, says "We should not do X because doing so will cause Y to occur." The herd shouts down the contrarian and dismisses them as a "nut". Later, the policy "X" turns out to have been a bad idea because it causes "Y" to happen. The rational response to such an occurrence is to give the herd leaders less credibility and give the contrarian more credibility. It would behoove us next time to listen to the one person who saw it coming rather than simply following the herd leaders who led us astray last time.

Sadly, that does not happen very often these days. If I turn on the news, I see the same people who have been wrong for years being asked by the media what we should do next. Sometimes there are fresh faces, but I don't hear any fresh ideas. Anyone who goes outside the narrow range of what the media tells us is "mainstream" thought is dismissed, even if they are repeatedly correct and their critics repeatedly wrong. And too often we have accepted their message without critical consideration. When we change this for the better, we will change our lives and country for the better.

Sorry to post what amounts to an "I told somebody so" list. I have been blessed with a good life so no worries. It is just tiresome to be called names for making predictions that short-sighted dullards think are crazy, but when my predictions come to pass people forgetting that I called it a long time ago. Meanwhile, the dullards are still condescending and name-calling. If the establishment media ignored or dismissed your predictions, but then kept pumping up as experts the people who were wrong about most or all of these things then you might get irritated with it too!

So here are some examples...
No Child Left Behind:

I predicted the failure of the Bush-Kennedy education plan "No Child Left Behind" way back in 2006. Republicans like John Boozman backed the plan. Democrats like Mark Pryor backed the plan. The whole establishment on both sides thought it was a wonderful idea. State governments from coast to coast thought it was a wonderful idea. I said it was crazy and it would fail. Now not one state has met the goals of the program and most states have applied for "waivers". It's quiet pseudo-death will not stop the next effort to centralize control of education- Common Core.

That the Deal With Beebe to Fund the Insurance Dept. While "Blocking" the Launch of an Obamacare Exchange would end in an exchange being constructed anyway:

In the 2011 session when Republican legislators wanted cut a deal with Gov. Mike Beebe I warned them that this would lead to the establishment of an Obamacare exchange in this state. They were sure they had reached a bargain that would allow them to fund the insurance department and still block the exchange. At the time, I expressed the view that they had been "taken." I said once Beebe and Co. had the money, they were going to set up that exchange with or without their approval. "We will still have legislative oversight" one of them opined. I replied that they were about to find out just how worthless that was dealing with people like this.

Over the next few months the Beebe administration tried everything they could to lure some Republicans into going along with the idea of going forward with an exchange, but they did not budge. Every time Beebe spent some money to advance the exchange concept, the legislature asked him what he thought he was doing. For a while, it looked like I was wrong. I then did what honest men do when they are wrong. I fessed up to being wrong and congratulated them for threading the needle between keeping the Insurance Department funded and still blocking the Health Care Exchange.

Well, it turns out that I was wrong about being wrong. And the Republican legislators who thought they could manage this thing? They were just wrong. Beebe kept working with the feds and started using regulation and policy to implement the Exchange, even without the benefit of a law authorizing it. The legislature could not stop him from setting up a "partnership" exchange once he had the money. Over the next three years Beebe leveraged that deal to back them into one corner after another until finally the Republicans themselves voted to authorize the state to set up a "Partnership" exchange with Obamacare in a bill sponsored by a Republican (Mark Biviano of Searcy).


That Gov. Mike Beebe was playing politics with the budget numbers.

I long complained that Mike Beebe's budget department was playing games with the numbers. At one point I even wrote "the budget is projected to be either up or down, depending on what is convenient to Governor Beebe."

By 2009 some legislators were beginning to catch on to what I had been warning about, but the lengths to which State Budget would go to tell legislators anything to scare them into what they wanted them to do was still not fully apparent. 

Here is an example: When I drafted some legislation that would have helped children suffering with autism, but gave too much control of the money to parents for the bureaucracy's liking, we got a full dose of the deception.

In 2011 they claimed the bill would cost the state zero extra dollars, but would endanger federal funding. We showed in an interim study that this claim about federal funding was not true. What was true was that under static budgeting assumptions (which is what they normally use) the bill would not cost the state any extra money. In 2013 we ran the same bill. This time they claimed the same bill they said would cost nothing in 2011 would now cost $84 million over two years! They used bogus accounting and we called them on it, but the bill still failed by one vote to make it out of committee (it actually would have passed out of committee at one point in the proceedings, but two legislators against the bill walked out of the room, preventing a quorum).

Now the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has released a chart that shows which states used how many of the five best budgeting transparency practices. Arkansas was the only state in the union to use ZERO of the five "best practices". As I had been saying for years, they have politicized the budget process in Arkansas.

That implementing Obamacare by expanding Medicaid in Arkansas (and the "Private" Option is Medicaid) would strain the safety net in ways that could cost people their lives.....

Here is what I wrote in January of 2013: " Rather than providing longer life to more people, an unsustainable attempt at expansion might cost more years from more lives than doing nothing. Leftists may be literally betting the lives of those currently on Medicaid that Obama knows what he's doing. If one's confidence in the Resident does not rise to that level, then caution is advised."

Meet 14-year old Chloe Jones of Walnut Ridge, who appears to be one of the first three people in Arkansas who will die as a result of the sort of strains I was talking about. You see since the feds are paying (at first) for a higher share of Medicaid dollars spent on Obamacare than they are for the Medicaid program we had for poor children which existed before Obamacare, the financial incentive for the state is now to deny dollars to poor children in order to pay for insurance for abe-bodied adults.

But this girl's untimely death will be a mere harbinger of what is to come if we don't back out of Obamacare soon, because the financial stresses of loading the social "safety net" beyond the carrying capacity of those supporting the net will only cause more to be pushed out or, God forbid, the net to fail catastrophically. Another concern, though some evidence indicates that the launch of Obamacare was so rocky that the poor are still using many private health clinics, is the fear that the pre-existing network of medical clinics and infrastructure which served poor people before Obamacare will go away and then Obamacare will crash.

That doesn't even count the immediate issue of the perverse disincentives that Obamacare provides- funding for able-bodied adults is matched by the feds at 90%+, for children and the disabled Medicaid is good for maybe 65% from the FEDS. So the state is trimming the latter to give more money to the former!

Raising the Natural Gas severance tax by 1,600% would cost the state money.

Governor Beebe had a plan in 2008, which many Republicans went along with, to raise the tax on extracting natural gas in Arkansas 1,600%. I predicted at the time that the state would lose money by raising taxes. The drilling companies would just go elsewhere. I meant overall money, because even if government gets more tax money, the economy as a whole can lose money because some people shut down operations in the state due to the tax hike. I did not know how right I was at the time though- the following year revenues from the tax were down 10%. How bad does underlying business have to collapse when you raise the tax rates for an industry 1,600% yet the tax revenues from that industry decline 10%?

How many jobs and dollars of economic activity had to be lost in order for tax collections to go down 10% after tax rates went up 1,600%? The Schlumberger yard in Conway is still pretty much empty while the other states with large gas deposits are having a boom.

A Veteran opposed to the invasion of Iraq from the beginning, long before it was understood to be a titanic miscalculation costing us much blood and treasure.

I don't have any blog posts to document my opposition from the beginning because I started the blog in 2005 and it was focused on Arkansas issues at first anyway. But I was the State Chairman of the tiny Constitution Party in those days (before I went to a national convention and figured out that I did not want those folks in charge either). The Constitution Party opposed the war from the beginning. By 2008 I was an official campaign spokesman for Ron Paul in Arkansas. Like me, he was against that war before being against it was cool.

Though there are some diehards who continue to claim "weapons of mass destruction" were the reason for the war, and worth the One Trillion Dollar and 5,000 American lives with ten times that disfigured cost, most Americans now accept the reality that we were mislead. The war was a huge negative for the country, though not for the Military Industrial Complex President Eisenhower warned us about.

George W. Bush and company heard only what they wanted to hear (an Iraqi cab driver posing as a chemical engineer and taking money to tell them the lies they wanted to hear) and twisted the information from more credible sources to spin a tale about the state Iraq's programs for weapons of mass destruction. Not that Saddam had zero capability to build such weapons because the United States, with approval from the federal government, sold Iraq that capability. Is selling a nation this capability and then borrowing one trillion dollars from the Chinese to make war on them because they have it a rational way to conduct foreign policy? Only if your goal is to maximize the profits of the Military Industrial Complex at the expense of the nation.

But then none of this quibbling over what Iraq had really answers what ought to be the real question. Are we going to keep borrowing money from the Chinese to make war on wide portions of the world in an effort to keep them at a pre-1945 level of military technology? Make that a pre-1914 level of technology if you count mustard gas as a "weapon of mass destruction." I submit to you that this policy is neither wise, nor sustainable, and will result in a world full of people who are very angry with us and are just waiting for the time China tells us "no more loans" for bomb-building to do something about it.

We have been bombing Iraq pretty much continuously since 1991 and the place is a bigger mess now than when Saddam was in charge. Rational Americans from across the political spectrum now realize that we can't impose good government at gunpoint on alien cultures. If military action can help, the Iraq should have been helped, instead of a giant mess.

That the Arkansas Lottery Would be an Embarrassing Mess:

Closer to home, let's talk about the dysfunctional Arkansas State Lottery. Who could have predicted that the Arkansas lottery would be such a cesspool of looting and corruption? Ahem. Well, as it turns out I predicted it even as the proposal was on the ballot back in 2008. But who listens to me? I am just an extremist nutjob who makes crazy predictions - which later prove to be correct. But let's not get hung up on who later events actually proved to be right or wrong, let's focus on who the establishment media tells you is or isn't "credible."

On Counting on Federal Highway Funds to Service Bond Issues is Risky:

In 2011 I dueled with State Rep. Nate Bell (R) Mena over his support of a measure to float more debt for routine road maintenance. The bonds would be funded by pledging our Federal Highway Fund dollars for the next umpteen years to bond payments. Around forty percent of our federal highway dollars would go to bond fees and interest. I wanted it all to go to roads. But I also warned that relying on a bankrupt federal government to fulfill their commitments was a mistake, especially since Arkansas taxpayers would be on the hook if the Feds failed to come through with all the money they promised over the next 15 years.

Lo and behold, the fund has gone broke as I warned it might. Congress has temporarily patched over the problem largely by having the bankrupt fund borrow from other funds. Obviously, that is not a real solution and will only make the problem bigger next year and every year after that. Clearly the prudent thing to do is for the state to ween itself from the practice of relying on this money to fund bond issues for routine highway maintenance.

That FOX News is not the friend of Americans Who Believe in Limited Government instead of Globalism:
I maintained for years that FOX News (who I have taken to calling "FAUX" News") was not the friend of limited government folks at all, or any other Americans except for a few globalists. Obviously not everbody has caught on yet, but increasing numbers of limited-government folks who used to watch FOX news are now wise to them. I think their core audience is mostly people who don't get informed from the internet and lean fascist but think they are conservative.

That the state needed to change its ballot access laws before they got a smackdown in Federal Court

I maintained back in 2005 that state ballot access laws were unconstitutional. The issue was that one could get on the ballot for a state-wide office as an independent with 10,000 signatures but the hurdle for running for the same office as the candidate of a new party was more than double that and growing. I even drafted a bill that would bring the state into compliance with federal court rulings on the issue. That bill was sponsored by then-State Senator Jim Holt. The Senators on the State Agencies committee decided to defy the federal courts (remember that the next time they tell you they can't) and the bill died for lack of a second. They were supported by Attorney General Mike Beebe. His office chimed in that their view was that existing ballot access law complied with all federal court rulings and did not need to be changed.

The next year the Green Party of Arkansas sued the state on the exact basis I predicted someone would. Before the case I predicted the Green Party would win that case hands down, and they did. Current ballot access law has an equal signature hurdle regardless of how one wants to get on the ballot- just like the bill I drafted in 05 said it should be.

(PS- I am part of a small group suing the state over other recent anti-constitutional changes the legislature has made to the ballot access laws. We expect to prevail on this one too.

Not public policy but I advised the Arkansas Razorback on some personnel matters....

A few years back I decided to give some fan advice to offensive genius (but life choice idiot) Coach Bobby Petrino. I told him he was starting the wrong guy at tailback, and that he had other, better choices available. Three or four weeks later the coaches saw it too, and took Green out of the starting lineup. Petrino did have one trick up his sleeve that I did not see though. Instead of making Green a blocker he decided to use him as a goal line back and as a 4th quarter back. Green was successful in these rolls as it is hard for tired defenses to bring down a big strong guy who comes in with fresh legs even if he is not shifty.

I also said that former University of Texas washout QB Garrett Gilbert had a shot to be one of the best college quarterbacks in America at SMU. Sure enough, his senior season he generated eye-popping statistics and set ten team records despite having little help. You probably never heard of him after his Texas days, but Gilbert was fourth in the nation in total offense when he got hurt in the ninth game of his senior season. Despite the injury, Gilbert was drafted by the Rams in the sixth round in what was widely considered a bargain.

Science Being Politicized Due to it Being Funded by the Government:

I wrote years ago about the threat to real science that government funded science has become. As science becomes corrupted that which is called science is transformed into something else even while it steals the name and credibility of the original. It goes from being a tool to understand the world around us into just another government program with an agenda. The "answers" coming from politicized government funded "science" are increasingly those answers which are convenient to government itself. Now others are complaining about the threat to real science that government-funded "science" has become. As a former science teacher and a practitioner and admirer of real science, I take strong offense at the phony government-funded corruption of actual science.

"Global Warming":

Speaking of science issues, I told folks that "Global Warming" was a hoax long before it became obvious. I even warned how it can distract from real environmental issues. Proponents of increasing government funding and control of your life have now crab-walked away from the term, trying to use the phrase "Climate Change" instead of "Global Warming" so that no matter if it gets hotter or colder, the "solution" to the "problem" is that you need to give them more money and power. The powers that be told you that it was "settled science" that man-made "Global Warming" was coming. I told you years ago that a multi-decade cool spell was coming.

PS- Here is a good link that puts the politicizing of science and global warming fraud together. U.S. Government funded scientists altered climate data to make it appear that the earth was warming.

That DOMA was not enough if one wanted to stop the courts from imposing state recognition of homosexuals relationships as "marriages."

Hey, I know a lot of you younger readers think I am an old fuddy-duddy or worse in my belief that no one has a "right" to public approval for their relationships. Well, just give it some time before you throw me to the wolves on that one. With my track record, haven't I earned a little leeway?\\\

At any rate back in 2006 Senator Blanche Lincoln said that she opposed a marriage amendment because we had the Defense of Marriage Act and that was plenty enough to protect marriage. I said it was not. That unless we had a federal amendment the judges would conjure up a brand new "right". No matter how you feel on the issue, Blanche Lincoln told people the wrong thing. I told them the right thing.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why I Just Donated $500 to Marc Rosson for State Representative

I am not a rich man.  We are a one car (2008 Ford Escape) family who live in a small and modest home. I don't have a 401K or own any stocks.  Nor do I live anywhere near district 20, which is around Mena and points south.   I have not spoken with Marc Rosson in years.  Yet, with the concurrence of my wonderful wife, I just donated five-hundred of our family's hard-earned dollars to the Marc Rosson campaign.   If you would give me a couple of minutes, I would like to explain why.

First, let me tell what is not the reason why I donated $500 to the Marc Rosson campaign.  It is not about revenge on the incumbent Nate Bell.  That would be an unworthy motive and if it were so I would not be writing this column, for I would be ashamed of my motive.  It is true that, from a positive beginning, Bell and I have clashed on several issues. These include  the use of debt for routine highway maintenance and his flip-flop on voting for the so-called "private" option version of Obamacare.

Our latest clash involves a change to the ballot access laws via a bill whose sole co-sponsor was Bell.   Readers may know that I am of the opinion legislatures should be filled via independent candidates who don't owe their office to a political party based in D.C. but rather understand that they owe only the people of their district.  Further, the system of checks and balances our Founders set up simply cannot work properly when the same political clubs control ballot access for both state officials and federal officials, for both Executive Branch and Legislative Branch.  That is why I helped form "Neighbors of Arkansas" to encourage people to run for the state legislature and local offices as independents.   That group is currently suing the state of Arkansas over the changes in the law instigated by Bell, which make it much harder for people to file as independents.

Still, the scripture says "never take your own revenge."  I had made up my mind to stay out of Bell's race.   I did not even bother to find out who the candidates running against him were, until recently when a prominent Republican who is tired of Bell's antics called me and said "who is the Libertarian candidate running against Nate Bell?  We may need to support them."   Only then did I offer to find out, but it occurred to me that if the candidate was a good person then helping them win that seat and ridding the legislature of Nate Bell would be doing a service to almost all Arkansans.   It would be a plus for the Republicans in that it would improve their brand, it would be a plus to the Democrats who are no doubt tired of his abrasiveness, and it would be a service to independents who want access to the ballot for other alternatives on equal terms.

When I discovered that the "Libertarian" candidate was Marc Rosson, I was fired up.  When I tell you how I know him, you may understand why.  Years ago, when the Tea Party came on strong and was a hot item, I helped start one in my county.  We were going to hold a big candidate forum, and all the candidates for Senate and Congress wanted to come.   We voted that as a condition to attend the forum that they had to answer a Candidate Questionnaire put together by our evaluation committee, which I chaired.

The questionnaire consisted of 44 questions from the eight or nine members of our committee, most of them multiple choice.  Half of the questions were over the subject of what it meant to keep one's oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  If you want to see those questions, here is the article I wrote which complained that none of the candidates (except unknown Fred Ramey) were willing to have their answers to those questions revealed.  That is right, all of those great statesmen balked at having their answers to those questions revealed.  That includes Senator John Boozman, Congressman Steve Womack, and Former state Republican Chairman Gilbert Baker.  

They all balked and lobbied the Chairman heavily to get out of it.  The Executive Committee took two more votes to confirm that answering the questionnaire was a pre-condition to be included in the forum.  At that point the Chairman, who they got to, announced that he had the surveys (not the person they were supposed to be sent to) and that he had promised the candidates that he would never reveal the answers to anyone.  He said he was going to "dig in his heels" about his unilateral decision to keep the answers concealed.  I left the group in disgust.  The big forum never happened, nor did much else of note happen.  Since that time, the group has collapsed on its own uselessness and is now being rebuilt by new leadership.

Right after that another candidate came to my attention- a guy in South Arkansas willing to jump in the race, back then as a Republican, against Congressman Mike Ross at the height of his popularity.   The guy was Marc Rosson.   Marc volunteered to take the quiz without any restrictions against making his answers to any question public.  And he made an "A" on the questions.   We don't agree on every issue, but big picture, he gets it.  In my book, that makes him a better man than those others.  I think he's a better man than Nate Bell too.    Bell is a stinker and I don't know which side will breathe a bigger sigh of relief when he goes, Democrats or Republicans.  But I did not give Marc Rosson $500 just because Nate Bell has gone so bad.  I did it because Marc Rosson is that good.  If you can afford to do the state a favor, would you send him a little something too?