Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bizarre Happenings in District 90 State Rep. Republican Primary

Published on Jan 29, 2016
This audio has been edited. We've all been been in situations where we wonder if our present circumstances might look like stalking. It's a completely normal question I'm sure most people ask themselves every single day. In this situation State Rep. Jana Della Rosa's mother, Patsy Wootten (Conservative Arkansas Executive Director), thought she heard a Rogers police officer tell her to follow Randy Alexander. Based on the audio from the Rogers Police Department that does not appear to be correct. What's more obvious is Patsy Wootten does not like Randy Alexander personally. "Cuz he is a jerk frankly."

Full unedited audio here

Randy Alexander, the candidate being followed and seen in the image above putting out signs, made this statement about the matter on his FB page...

"Yesterday was an interesting day on the campaign trail: it seems I’ve picked up a stalker! As my son and I put out campaign signs a car followed us from place to place. I recognized the driver was my opponent’s mother. Isn’t she the Executive Director of Conservative Arkansas? Maybe if I had responded to their survey Conservative Arkansas would have endorsed me! What do you think?"

Della Rosa, Alexander. and Jayna Starr are competing in the March 1st Republican primary.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hot Springs Residents Initiate Recall Vote Petitions

City Council has plans for an annexation of 600 acre tract. Legislature just passed a law allowing cities to move more aggressively.

Rapert vs. Wikipedia and Reason vs Presumption

Senator Jason Rapert (R) Conway, is involved in a messy squabble with Wikipedia over the page which describes him. Apparently he thinks the page falsely paints him as a racist due to its inclusion of a link describing some comments made at an event where he told the audience "we're not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in"

One can't even tell if he was even referring to racial minorities, or the ongoing dispute where hard-left courts are using government force to impose their own novel ideas of what marriage is on a less-than-receptive population. Plus the page mentions his missionary work in Ghana, so I don't get that the page is painting him as a racist, except among that sliver of the population which sees racism hiding under every bed and reads it into any statement even possibly connected to the subject.

But the bigger issue as I see it is that Rapert's reaction here is not an isolated incident. It's S.O.P. for him. Add to it that whenever people disagree with him he has a strong tendency to not only react like this, but to play the martyr. That is, he attributes the "attacks" he is getting to the fact that he is such a courageous Christian who is suffering "persecution" for his stand for righteousness.

Look, I am a Christian, and I know Christians can and have been persecuted for their faith. While what we experience in America is only a fraction of what is happening overseas, I will say that it even happens here. In very small ways I have probably been treated in a way that I would say falls short of "persecution" but is headed that direction. Still, that is far from the norm.  I am not being "persecuted", or anything like it, every time I get criticized, whether by believers or unbelievers. Sometimes, most often in fact, the reason I am being criticized is that I have done something wrong, made a mistake, or acted like a jerk! I find it very odd that brother Rapert never seems to acknowledge any of those other circumstances for himself. Instead, I find that when he discusses causes he invariably attributes the reason for the attacks to his great spiritual stature and bold stand for Christ.

That brings me to my next point, and that is his reaction. If someone is in fact persecuting him because of his stand for Christ, you would think that his reaction to such slander would be more like the reaction Christ-followers were instructed to have in those circumstances;

Matthew 5

10"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

He claims this is what is happening to him, but he does not respond as he has been commanded to respond. It is almost as if he were an example of a member of the Republican party trying to use the name of God to shield themselves from fair criticism of their actions.

Someday I hope America gets a real Christ-led political movement. I have a strong instinct that it won't look much like the lame attempts to exploit the name of Christ for political purposes that we have seen from both parties but primarily the Republicans. In the mean time, I would urge citizens off-put by politicians who try to use the name of God to blunt themselves from criticism to not judge Christ by those who attempt to exploit His name for political reasons. He said that many would come in His name, but not really represent Him. This is what we see even 2,000 years later. Rather than use the self-serving actions of politicians who use His name but don't do what He told them to do as an excuse to dismiss Christianity, consider that what is happening today is just what He said would happen. That it is still happening 2,000 years later is evidence that He is who scripture claims Him to be.


The first thing I did when I posted this article was to ask Sen. Jason Rapert for comments. He replied that there was no point since I had already put the story up. I replied that it was likely no one had seen the story but him, and that I pulled it and put it back into draft status to give him 24 hours to respond.

Those 24 hours are up. The response I got was unfortunately about what I expected:

"Some of your comments were very misinformed and very off base. You really should just take a pass rather than doing their dirty work.
I pray God prompts you."

"Their" being the Arkansas Times, who I agree is run by Max Brantley who has shown he is willing to distort the truth, or even outright lie, if  he needs to. The thing is, I was not linking to Max, I was linking to the Senator's own interaction with Wiki, If it was over something Ark Times originally reported, even that was based on video of Sen. Rapert himself speaking. It really gets tiresome when politicians repeatedly dismiss any criticism without explanation if they can find three degrees of separation leading back to the Arkansas Times. This story is about Rapert's interactions with Wikipedia and me, not anything the Arktimes has said about him. It is about the way Christian Right politicians are responding to criticism vs. the way Christ said to respond. How is that an Arktimes story?

If my comments are indeed "misinformed and very off base" then reasonably explain why it is so. In Isaiah God said "Come, let us reason together."  Even God Himself is willing to stoop to reasoning with mere men in order to show them where they have gone wrong. Why is Jason Rapert above doing so? And not just him, its becoming an increasingly common mind-set. People feel like they don't have to explain their actions or their policy positions anymore. Reason is out the door, replaced by a "respecter of persons" mind set based on emotion: If you question them, why you are against God's chosen, so you are misguided at best and possibly even evil. 

This is a very dangerous mindset to have, especially for politicians. True faith supports liberty because the politicians understand they are accountable to a higher power outside of and beyond themselves. This knowledge is supposed to humble the official, and lead them to critical self-examination. Empty religion undermines liberty because those in power no longer have to act with humility or introspection once they come to believe they are God's man of power for the hour. Not only is there no critical self-examination, but examination from the outside is also dismissed as religious "persecution" of God's chosen. "Repentence" is a religious concept, but there is no room for it, or any of the other Christian practices I have referenced in this article, in the false religious mind set which is corrupting our politics.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

There is Simply No Way Ted Cruz is a "Natural Born Citizen"

We can either put our powers of reason to work trying to discover what is true, or we can put them to work rationalizing whatever we wish to believe whether it is true or not. There is simply no way Ted Cruz, who was also a citizen of Canada two years ago, is a "Natural Born Citizen" of the United States. Here is an article which refutes point by point, the claims of those who say that he is. Those determined to believe what they wish whether it is true or not will probably dismiss the facts cited in the article because "its from Salon so I don't have to listen to a leftist source." Never mind that I concur with the salient facts in the link and I am very traditional, some would say ultra-conservative.

I actually think Cruz is ineligible from the 14th amendment too, but the Harvard Law professor makes a devastating case from the facts surrounding the original Constitution.

I know many Arkansans are fans of Mark Levin, and Levin says that Cruz is a Natural Born Citizen, but I can't help but notice that the quality of Levin's argument's are lacking. He mostly throws up strawmen (such as confusing "citizen" or a "citizen at birth" with NBC) or casts childish insults and shouts down dissenters. That is volume over reason, and it works, but never for long.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Stunning Growth in Budget as FEDS Pay Arkansas DHS to Adopt Out Foster Care Children

When you ask you will be told that the State of Arkansas does not get paid by the Federal Government for bringing children into the Arkansas foster care system. This is not quite true. They do not get paid on in-take. The payment comes on an adoption placement.

In 2013 the State of Arkansas received $2.3 million from the Federal Government. See the link below. This is paid in increments of $4,000 to $6,000 per child that is adopted out the DCFS system. Further, you can see that this $2.3 million figure in 2013 is up from $60,000 in 2007. This is incredibly aggressive growth. These payments are made in accordance to the "Adoption and Safe Families Act." passed by President Clinton in 1997.

This is particularly disturbing because there are several cases where Arkansas DCFS has rushed to terminate parental rights without following their own procedures.

It would be reasonable to ask if $2.3 million is a material sum of money for a state government agency. This is the same agency that worked very hard to influence Gov. Hutchinson to pledge $8 million for new caseworkers. I doubt they would easily walk away from 29% of that sum.…/…/cb/adoption_incentive_history.pdf

According to Arkansas DHS records, in 2015 there were 29,084 child maltreatment investigations. Think about that. 80 per day if you work 365 days per year; and keep in mind that government does not work 365 days per year.

Of these investigations only 26% were decided as True findings. Perhaps they could better prioritize their energy to focus on the obviously significant cases.

Further, of the True findings that were appealed 45% were overturned.

Imagine if you failed at your job at that rate; 45% of the time.

One particular State Police Investigator in Garland County, Kathy Finnegan, is overturned 70% of the time. I believe she still has a job.

Further, keep in mind, many families do not have the resources to appeal the decisions against them. The cost to our family was thousands of dollars, months of time and a massive emotional and mental toll. If families have the resources you can only imagine that the 45% number would skyrocket.

A Guest Post by Wilson Kannady

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wal-Closing Stores, Laying off Workers

269 stores will be closed, 154 in the United States, and 11 in Arkansas. Only a few of them will be super-centers or Sam's Club stores. Story from CNN here.

What does Nate Bell know about Corruption in AR-GOP that he is not telling?

The pugnacious Bell, who left the GOP to become an Independent in the Arkansas legislature (but is not running for re-election) says in a FB post that there is significant hidden corruption in the AR-GOP. He further says that it was so deep that it drove him out of the party. Details on the Arkansas Neighbor's Website.

Arkansas Coach Bielema to get Reality Show

Will Arkansas Head Football Coach Brent Bielema appear in his own reality TV show? It appears so. Maybe they found an eggnog make willing to sponsor. Trailers on the link above.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hot Springs Area Residents Fight Annexation

There is a serious moral problem with state laws on annexation in Arkansas. The entity to be swallowed up does not get its own vote on whether it wished to be swallowed! The votes of the entity proposing to swallow up some small place are combined with the votes of the proposed victim in order to determine whether the annexation is to occur.

It seems to me that the citizens of both the place to be swallowed up and the place taking them in should both have to approve such a move. Arkansas' current law on the issue is a law Adolph Hitler would have loved. He could have legally gobbled up all of those little countries around Germany.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Blue Cross Product Outside of Obamacare Sees Rate Drop

I shared some time ago that Arkansas Blue Cross offers a health insurance plan that is outside of Obamacare. It does not cover maternity, but covers the other things one might expect. We had some up charges, but my family of five pays about $700 a month for a plan with co-pays for doctor's visits, and a $5,000 deductible. We are satisfied with the coverage.

I mention it because January is the month that people typically re-up. If many members of your family are healthy, you might want to "split them off" from the Obamacare plan in favor of this plan.When I spoke to my agent when I re-upped, she said that the premiums on my plan were decreasing, while Obamacare plans had seen some heavy rate increases. The Obamacare plans cover gender-reassignment surgery and a lot of mental health stuff. Also, people can just wait until they get cancer and THEN sign up for Obamacare and its covered. So they see a lot of people pulling stuff like that.

On Medicaid Expansion (Again)

The legislature is about to meet for a special session where they will vote to change the name of their Obamacare Medicaid Expansion program from "the Private Option" to "Arkansas Works". The idea is that the old waivers attached to the same program will be replaced by "new and improved" waivers. The centerpiece of the new waiver request is a requirement that recipients of the benefits are required to work or seek work. Remember that the population that got covered by Medicaid Expansion was able bodied adults. Children and the disabled were already covered under other Medicaid programs.
The re-branding is part of an extremely dishonest attempt to provide cover for a lot of lawmakers, mostly Republicans, to break their campaign promises. Most of them were elected on a platform of repealing Obama's Medicaid Expansion. Just like they did with the original Private Option, many of them are going to claim that if they add a "work requirement" to Medicaid Expansion that it is not Medicaid Expansion anymore. They will rely on the "Big Lie Theory". That is, if authority figures tell a big enough lie often enough and act very confident that they are telling the truth then people will believe it is true. This is because normal people simply can't accept that "respected" public figures would look them in the eye and so brazenly lie to them. They will. They already tried it on the original Private Option, but they mostly failed to pull it off.

In a way they are already trying it. They pretended to have this "process" where a panel would try to find other options. It was all theater, not statecraft. It served the purpose of placating the grassroots just a bit longer with the possibility that this panel would recommend that we get out of Medicaid Expansion before the bills start showing up and crippling our state budget. The truth is that they had already decided the exact tactics they wanted to use to deceive you over a year ago. Here is an article from then where Dismang floats a trial balloon that sounds just like what the panel came up with. It was all a show.

The work or "seek work" requirements is also merely a show. And that's even if the two DC-parties had not colluded with global corporations to make a tax code which rewards them when they send manufacturing jobs overseas and have such lax immigration standards that 17% of workers in America right now are immigrants. Both parties are globalists who are globalizing the labor pool at our expense. But even if they had not crashed the economy, here is what I said about their "work requirement" in the link two from above: 
I think most of us who have worked at large employers saw what happened when unemployment benefits got stretched to 99 weeks.  Even more people came in and wasted HR's time by "applying" for jobs that they had no intention of taking if offered.  I remember one place I worked at some years ago that these people would show up for the "application" dressed in filthy rags and obviously high just to make sure they did not get hired, but by golly they met the requirement of "actively seeking" work!  If one did get hired by mistake, they would not show up for work.
Businesses started retaliating by moving to online-only applications, or even saying you could not apply for a job with them unless you were already working!   They started saving the serious applications and not taking any new ones.  FEDGOV responded with their usual ham-fistedness- telling employers they could not keep applications more than a short period of time so that HR would have to take "applications" from more deadbeats, wasting everyone in the private sector's time but keeping that government paperwork flowing smoothly. 
No, adding such a requirement to Obamacare does not "dramatically" change the "private" option.  Voting for a "private" option with a work or seek work requirement is not voting for anything meaningfully different than voting for the original "private" option.  Dismang may be trying to float the idea that it is so that those who told you they would vote against the "private" option can vote for it anyway and then come home and tell you that they did not vote to fund the old private option they campaigned against, they voted to fund something "dramatically" different because it added the "work or seek work" requirement.  If any politician insults your intelligence by looking you in the eye and telling you this I hope that you will have the moral courage to tell them to their faces that they are liars.  I know I will.

OK Mark, but the fact is that the Feds now take a lot of money from Arkansans which is spent on Medicaid Expansion. If we don't participate, how can we get our money back much less other people's money which we are doing now because we expanded Medicaid? What would your approach be?

I have been asked by legislators before what I think should be done about this or that. They invariably want a solution that does not put their personal political career at risk, embarrass the members of their party who are not willing to fight the good fight, and avoid friction with the Federal government. There are policy solutions available, but at this point there are no solutions that don't involve those things. When they get to the point where they are willing to be real negotiators instead of pushovers, when they are willing to really challenge the madness of Obamacare, we should talk. I negotiate for a living, and I can tell you they are doing it wrong.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Another Evolution Post- The Absurdity of Crediting Chance for Multicellularity

I know this blog is supposed to be about Arkansas-related matters, but I barely have time keep this one up, much less to found another one for my science interests. I read an article with a fascinating experiment which traced how a protein meant to be used in cell division could have been adapted to permit single-celled organisms to become multiple celled ones. The evolutionary path he described, when viewed by itself, seemed plausible enough. There was the small matter of his calculations showing that the other version of the protein, the one that allowed multi-cellular animals, had been around for perhaps hundreds of millions of years before the multi-cellular animals themselves.

I find this frequently in "evolution." Something that they think is a revolutionary new function is actually just the activation of a latent function which the organism had the potential for all along. Here for example, is an article about a group of fish who can change within a few generations from salt to fresh water species. The article refers to this ability as "evolution", but its really just the activation of a latent trait which as far as we know, fish of this type have always had.

The other problem I had with the article was the naturalistic (nature is all that there is) pre-suppositions of the researchers.  Dr. Thornton claims that is was just by "chance" that the one protein used for mitosis was also able to attach to the anchors from other cells which allows multi-cellular animals to exist. That is not a scientific statement, its a philosophical statement. It is naturalism posing as science again. He can't, scientifically, know whether the shape of the protein working out so that multi-cellular animals can exist is mere happenstance as he believes or the result of an Intelligent Designer.

An actual examination of the process by which cells line up into tissues, as outlined in the article itself, in my view make it highly unreasonable to believe that these abilities came about by unguided chance. And further, while the description of what might have happened to one particular protein sounds plausible when viewed in isolation, the idea that all of the changes needed to bring about multi-cellular animals occurred by the same processes does not. Below is an excerpt from the article, so you can see what I mean:

 To form and maintain organized tissues, cells must orient the direction in which they divide relative to their neighbors. In the flat tissues that line organs, for example, cells divide within the plane of the tissue; otherwise, malformations and cancer can result. Cells accomplish this through a structure called the mitotic spindle -- a network of protein filaments that pulls freshly duplicated chromosomes to opposite ends of the cell before it splits into two.
In cells from a broad range of animal species, the spindle is rotated relative to surrounding cells by a protein scaffold known as the guanylate kinase protein interaction domain (GK-PID). It acts as a kind of molecular carabiner by binding to two different partner molecules: an 'anchor' protein on the inside of the cell membrane that indicates the position of adjacent cells and a motor protein that pulls on mitotic spindle filaments. Once hooked together by GK-PID, the motors pull the chromosomes toward the anchors, orienting new daughter cells in line with neighboring cells.

PS- there is a big difference between multi-cellular organisms with tissues and a group of the same kind of single celled animals operating together as a colony, which is what this study looked at but extrapolated into conclusions about the development of the former.

Monday, January 04, 2016

State Pension Plans are Underfunded

The good news for Arkansas: A relatively small percentage of our state revenues would be needed to make our pension plans viable. The bad news for Arkansas: The amount we are actually paying in now is a smaller proportion of what we would need to pay in to make our plans viable. 

Those two things show up on the graph as our total bar being short, but the proportion of the bar that is orange vs. blue is high for our state. In Arkansas, teacher retirement plans are separate from state employee plans. Our teacher retirement pension is much more fiscally sound. What I fear, and what retired teachers around the state should fear, is that the politicians will try to merge the two systems into one. This will mean that teachers will be stuck with a pension fund that is less sound in order to cover the irresponsible decision to under-fund the state employee plan.