Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Article V Amendments Convention Debate

This is a debate from the Arkansas Tea Party Alliance Meeting. The topic is whether or not now is the time to ask Congress to call an Article V convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution. I represented the "No" side. Mark Alspaugh of the Convention of States project represented the "Yes" side.

I was mostly satisfied with the results, though my opponent got the last word to make some incorrect assumptions that I had no opportunity to counter. For example, he dismissed my evidence that George Mason was dissatisfied with the final form of article V by saying that "Article V was approved unanimously" as if that meant Mason must have been for it. But votes in that convention were not counted by delegate, but by state delegation. So for example, if the three federalists in the Virginia delegation voted to approve Article V then the vote for Virginia would be "yes" even if Mason and Randolph had voted against it. Mason's comments at the next to last day of convention provide ample indication that he did not trust the article V process to correct what he saw as weaknesses in the document. That may be a tempest in a teapot anyway because today's ruling class does not care what the founding fathers thought an article V convention ought to look like.

Tea Party Alliance Meeting Musings on the Worst Congressmen

I recently had the pleasure of attending part of the "Liberty, Does it Matter?" meeting hosted by the Arkansas Tea Party Alliance. I was there on the request of Eagle Forum to make the case that the conditions are not right for Arkansas to ask Congress to call for an Article V Convention to propose amendments to the constitution. Here is the video of the debate.

The Tea Party in Arkansas is at an identity crossroads. The Tea Parties have the challenge of staying in the "sweet spot" of political activism. On the one side, they must stay honest watch dogs without turning into reflexive attack dogs. But if they go too far the other way, they can wind up as lap dogs. They become irrelevant if they devolve into mere cheerleaders of, maybe not the most establishment  Republicans, but a second group who are merely playing a role as outsiders while really doing nothing to challenge the system. The Tea Party needs both good cops and bad cops working together to demand accountability from politicians, not merely access.

For what can happen when a Tea Party over-emphasizes access at the expense of accountability, see the story of what happened to the Benton County Tea Party at the end of this report. I hope the Tea Party alliance leaders have the wisdom needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities of their position. Ultimately "relevance" must depend on staying relevant to the conservative base which must form the ranks of the Tea Party rather than being "relevant" as a player in a political establishment which their base is increasingly coming to detest. At the same time, they can't just represent people who are have directionless belligerence. There has to be a policy direction on which to base satisfaction or dis-satisfaction with a given politician. It is a difficult course to navigate and we should pray they receive wisdom equal to the difficulty of their task.

At this particular event, much was made of the fact that Congressman Steve Womack was not there- as in he was an establishment guy and would not dare show his face at a Tea Party event. This was contrasted with Congressmen Bruce Westerman and French Hill, who showed up and entertained the faithful during lunch with their joint talk. They are supposed to be the good guys that the Tea Party is on amicable terms with.

The two did get asked a pointed question by the Heritage Foundation guy. He asked if either one of them were members of the Republican Freedom Caucus and if not why? The Republican Freedom Caucus is widely considered responsible for forcing corporate sock puppet John Boehner out of the Speaker's seat. The establishment tried to trade him in for another obvious tool, Kevin McCarthy, and they blocked that too. It appears they have been induced to settle for Paul Ryan, who is still awful but at least the Republican Freedom Caucus was fighting. If any group in Congress represents the interests of the Tea Party, its that group.

So when asked if they were members, and if not why, it was a real defining moment. They hemmed and hawed and danced around a bit and confessed that neither of them was in it. Westerman downplayed his lack of participation by saying that there were all kinds of caucuses for all sorts of things on Capitol Hill. I turned to my companion and said "yeah, that one is for freedom, and you two are not in it."

So here were Hill and Westerman serving as sort of a "bridge" between the Tea Party and the establishment members such as Womack. They were not critical of Womack. They were not taking any action they were willing to share against the establishment of their party. They were just serving the role of keeping the party tolerable in the eyes of the conservative audience. They were doing this by charm more than substance, since they were doing nothing to oppose the establishment that most people in that room think is ruining the GOP and America.

That got me thinking about who the "worst" congressman might be. Is it one like Womack, who openly represents international business with little pretense of listening to his constituents? At least Womack is being straightforward about who and what he is. Is that worse than what Westerman and Hill were doing? Is it worse to openly identify with the establishment or serve as the faces that keep grassroots connected to that establishment when they seem to have no intention of confronting it? Is it not true then that they simply serve the same establishment monster in a different role? They may not openly do its bidding, but they keep people connected to the political brand that empowers it while doing nothing to oppose it. I don't have any answers on this one, just musings.

********** After Story ****************

An example of what I am talking about is the experience I had in my own local tea party, from this article on Captured Institutions and the Collective.

A recent example of the process I am talking about can be found in the story of my own County Tea Party. I was one of the three people most responsible for getting it started by uniting a number of city groups. In a rare act of nobility, I deliberately arranged things so that I could not be elected Chairman, or any other "big" office. Unfortunately, it was almost immediately "captured" by the local Republicans, and the new team was more interested in hob-nobbing with politicians than holding them accountable to the precepts of limited government and upholding their oaths of office.

What happened over the next three years happened automatically, organically, and beautifully. As the new County Tea Party was merely an appendage of the local county Republican Committee, it had no real function other than that which was better done in the Republican Committee itself. It became afraid to take a stand on any issue because there were always some Republicans who would take the wrong side of any issue. Even though there were well over one hundred patriots in the room the night it was founded, and it grew for a while after that, over time its numbers began to dwindle. The Tea Party in the next county down stayed true to its function of Watch Dog instead of settling down to the comfortable but dull life of a Lap Dog. More and more patriots from my county drove the extra distance to attend the Tea Party in the adjoining county until at present half its board and membership are made up of persons from my county!

Finally and most recently, the so-called "Tea Party" in my county collapsed on its own uselessness. The "Executive Committee" that ran it into the ground declined en mass to stand for re-election because no one else wanted to play anymore. An enterprising friend of mine encouraged a few of his friends to sign up, seeing this coming, and got himself elected Chairman and his friends on the board. Now, I am re-joining and I suspect many others will too. This is the beauty of small institutions. In our current environment, big institutions are indefensible against the push of the collective, but small institutions resist it almost automatically. Adam Smith's invisible hand of the free market is our secret, and powerful, Ally.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wal-Mart Stock Takes Biggest Hit Yet

Or at least the biggest drop in 17 years. Strangely, they are blaming a strong dollar on their woes. It seems to me that if Wal-Mart were still an American corporation buying goods made overseas for sale to Americans, then a strong dollar would be good for Wal-Mart. Methinks Wal-Mart is now a global corporation, not an American one, and therefore they suffer as the world suffers from deflationary forces unleashed by our dollar being the best looking horse in the fiat currency glue factory. Article on Zero Hedge.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Senate Chairman Pledges Further Reviews of Private Option

Senator Bryan B. King of Green Forest, the chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee’s Medicaid Subcommittee, said Friday that he intended to look more deeply into the problem of potentially thousands of ineligible recipients receiving Medicaid benefits.

“Quite a few of my colleagues have urged me to renew my inquiries, so there is definitely legislative support for a more thorough review of Medicaid’s verification process,” King said.

“When you consider the tremendous cost to taxpayers of a typical Medicaid service, it’s imperative that we determine the extent of payments made for invalid claims submitted for ineligible recipients,” King said.

King’s discussions with other legislators were prompted by this week’s release of the findings of the Stephen Group. The consulting firm has a contract with the Health Reform Legislative Task Force that is working on recommendations to bring to the full legislature for an overhaul of the Medicaid system.

The Stephen Group’s final report revealed that more than 42,000 people on Arkansas Medicaid rolls actually have addresses out of state. More than 6,700 have no record of living in Arkansas. Their study revealed that 367 Medicaid recipients were dead, and 261 had been dead for more than two years. Also, 128 enrollees in the private option were dead before being authorized, and of those 82 had been dead for more than two years. (page 183 of the report).

King said that his concerns were twofold. First, the cost to taxpayers is likely in the millions of dollars. Secondly, he wants to know whether employees at the Department of Human Services (DHS) were entirely forthcoming with auditors two years ago. As a former Senate chairman of the Joint Auditing Committee he was instrumental in ordering an audit of Medicaid expansion. Auditors asked DHS officials about the methods they used to determine eligibility and medical need.

The committee ordered its audit in November, 2013, and auditors released their findings on January 29 and 30, 2014.

“The Audit Committee likely would have taken stronger actions last year, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars, if legislative auditors had known that thousands of recipients were deemed eligible, although they had out-of-state addresses or had been deceased for months,” King said.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Religious Right is Lost, Because They Quit Being the Christian Right

Check out the details on the Localist Blog.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Medicaid Fraud in Arkansas

Birds did not evolve from Dinosaurs

Here I go with another non-Arkansas specific story. It is just so hard for me, as a former science guy, to see this hidden revolution in the data go unmentioned by the media. While pop culture keeps pushing the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, the evidence continues to pile up that birds were around so long ago that one wonders if the reverse is more probable- certain types of dinosaurs "evolved" from birds. That is, if either derived from the other at all.

I used parenthesis around "evolved" because from birds to some dinos who look like birds which have lost powers of flight represents a loss of function. While losing function and complexity may be considered "evolution" on some level, a better word for that might be "devolution" because you can't get from molecules to man by losing complexity. There are a lot of folks who see loss of complexity and just assume it also goes the other way. I am not convinced.
Anyway, here is an article where they are surprised to find that the soft tissue and muscle attachments of a 125 million year old bird look like those of modern birds. The skeletal features were not quite like those of modern birds- most modern birds have lost their teeth for example, but these were definitely birds. That was smack-dab in the middle of the age of dinosaurs- and it wasn't the earliest critter that looks very "birdy". It is really difficult to say at this point if the feather-covered bird looking but ground dwelling dinosaurs came first or if what are essentially birds came first with the ground-dwelling versions coming later, or even both at the same time.
UPDATE: OK are "scientists" really this ignorant about their own field or are they deliberately misleading us? Here is another story where a bird-like dinosaur has flight feathers and uses them as an ostrich uses them, for thermal regulation. The scientists gushes that flight feathers must have evolved before flight because of what he found on this 66 to 100 million year old fossil of an ostrich like dinosaur. Of course I just linked above to a 125 million year old fossil of a bird with flight feathers that could fly. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Just Another Ridiculous Bias in Evolution Research Article (on plants this time)

So scientists who were studying just how plants could make the incredible evolutionary leap from ocean to land found a big surprise. It turns out that ancient alga already possessed the suite of genes necessary for them to adapt to land and a co-dependent relationship with fungi.

"However, scientists were not clear how the algal ancestor of land plants could have survived long enough to mediate a quid pro quo arrangement with a fungi. This new finding points to the alga developing this crucial capability while still living in the earth's oceans!"

So what did they have to do to adapt to this new environment? Well, nothing genetically. The genes they needed to make the leap were already present. Here is a quote from lead researcher Dr. Delaux:

"Our discovery shows for the first time that the alga already knew how to survive on land while it was still in the water. Without the development of this pre-adapted capability in alga, the earth could be a very different place today."

Ok, so what evidence did they present that this "pre-adapted capability" actually "developed" via evolution instead of being created by an Intelligent Designer? Well, none is presented, and none need be presented, because macro-evolution is true because macro-evolution is true. No other options need be considered by government-funded naturalism posing as science. Even when, especially when, the evidence they do find is far more supportive of the Intelligent Design Theory than a Macro-evolutionary hypothesis. They can never question the paradigm. It is getting to the point where science's capture by the philosophy of naturalism is really starting to hold back discovery and progress.

The whole idea of "pre-adapted capability" in animals who have no use for it is anti-evolutionary. Capability is supposed to grow in fits and starts only in response to the environment. It isn't supposed to just show up in case it is needed for something later.

I cannot keep up with all of the articles coming out about research whose results are perfectly in line with what one would expect if Intelligent Design were true and the opposite of what one would find if Macro-Evolution were true. The case for Macro-evolution seems to grow more difficult each and every week that passes- it is too bad post-modern "science" is not permitted to re-examine the strength of that case.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Obama Uses Deception To Exploit Tragedy

So the Resident thinks the way to prevent another tragedy like the one that just occurred in a place where the public was banned from having guns is to turn the whole country into a place where the public is banned from having guns.

Meanwhile, government gets to keep theirs, after which they can treat us any way they wish without consequences. I believe the latter must be the real point. The logic of the stated reason for banning guns makes no sense whatsoever. What I suspect is the real reason for banning guns makes perfect sense from the perspective of a parasitical class of ruling elites who are nervous about how an armed America will react once we discover how thoroughly we have been looted.

Christian were singled out by the shooter in this most recent tragedy. If it had been a "Christian" targeting non-believers I assure you that this angle of the story would have been played up. The template would have been that we have to do something about all of these Christian haters. Since it was a secular person hating Christians, the media never even mentions that its hate. The phrase "hate crime" is not used when Christians are the target, only when groups favored by the establishment are the target. When Christians are the target the issue for the media is not the need to deescalate the rising anger against them, but rather they use the occasion to call for a government monopoly on the tool of force used by the perpetrator.

When someone attacks a government official, even if they are not politically motivated but just an insane person under the influence of powerful psychotropic drugs, the media broadcasts the message that we should "tone down the rhetoric" . See the problem in that situation is there is just too much free speech. For government, and its media, the problem always seems to be that us peasants have too much freedom. Freedom to criticize them, freedom to bear arms capable of protecting ourselves from them, and so on. And their media- because the global corporations who own the mass-media in America are owned by the same folks who own the politicians, supports this narrative relentlessly.

While we are on that subject, did I just miss it or did Big Media refuse to even tell people that the Pope met with Kim Davis until the Pope released a statement saying his visit was not an unqualified show of support for Davis, and that he also met with an openly homosexual former student and his "partner"? Once the story was not "Pope supports Davis" the media went into overdrive pushing THOSE stories. It is weird. They would not put out the original story out but they put the refutations of the original story out.

The bottom line is that the big corporate media is a cultural pathogen. It is a catalyst to make our culture sick with their unwillingness to tell the truth. And they are in league with the politicians that they propped up.