Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Better Way to Do Politics: Mark on the Paul Harrell Program

Go to 25:40 at the link below to catch my segment:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Womack as Chair Dashes Hopes of Anti-Trump Movement at Convention

Arkansas Congressman Steve Womack was the Chairman of the Rules Committee today. As Chairman, he acted to end the hopes of those Republicans seeking an alternative to Donald Trump as their party's nominee. He did so by blocking a motion for a vote to have a roll-call vote on another motion to "un-bind" delegates. That is, many delegates are bound by party rules to vote for Trump on the first ballot even if they personally would prefer someone else.

UPDATE: New story with more details here.

Womack as Chairman declared that the voice vote was for keeping the delegates bound. A state delegation from the floor challenged that determination and asked for a roll-call vote. A majority of delegates from seven states are required to force a roll-call vote. Womack told the Colorado delegation that only six states supported it. The Colorado Chair said that ten state delegations had agreed to support it, and wanted to know who the states were so he could tell who did not keep their word. Womack refused to tell him and tried to go on with business. The state delegation for Colorado walked off in protest.

Arkansas Republicans seem to be the staunchest supporters of Donald Trump in the Union. The Governor is speaking at the convention, as is the Attorney General and Senator Tom Cotton. Ex-Governor Mike Huckabee will also be speaking. And now Congressman Womack uses his Chairmanship to deny a roll-call vote on what would have been the most controversial issue of the night. I am amazed how fast the top of the Arkansas Republican party went from cool towards Trump to carrying more water for him than anybody.

Libertarians to Field Candidate in Special Election for State House

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Max Brantley Has His Own Facts on Gas Bust

I was amused to see this today on Arktimes:

Fact: A higher severance tax wouldn't have discouraged exploration in the boom years and it didn't prevent the exodus of the exploration companies when market forces dictated it was time to go. The tax was always a marginal issue, except in what it could have produced for lasting benefit in the state.

Well, no. Those are not facts at all. They are opinions. Ill-informed opinions at that, and placing the word "fact" in front of ill-informed opinions does not make them any more factual.

The facts on Arkansas' severance tax for natural gas are outlined here. We had a very low tax rate for natural gas extraction when the boom started. Once the companies came here Gov. Beebe and his cohorts in crime increased the tax rate 10,000%. How do you think any business considering expanding to our state would think about that? If you saw the state of Arkansas increase tax rates on a specific business 10,000% in one year as soon as that business had sunk a lot of capital expenditures into the state would you be in a hurry to come here?

The massive increase in tax rates combined with a fall in gas prices and the profile of most of our gas wells all contributed to a 10% decline in revenues the following year. Can you imagine how much economic activity had to drop in order for revenues to go down from a tax whose rate had increased 10,000%? Brantley asserts as "fact" that the tax rate was "always a marginal issue" but even if it was, a lot of business deals are decided on the margin. If you are going to make ten cents on the dollar spent, but Arkansas wants five cents of that dollar in new taxes, then you just lost half you profit. Why not go next door and use your capital to dig wells over there?

I will say I agree that more attention needs to be paid to the environmental protection part of the equation, and also that Right of Way laws in Arkansas can be embarrassingly favorable to the corporate entity which wants to come through and very lax in upholding the rights and interests of property owners- unless you are one of the good ole' boys I am sure. Then allowances will be made. In short, my opinion, which I do not confuse here with fact, is that there may need to be some law and policy changes regarding energy distribution in Arkansas, but raising the gas severance tax is not one of them,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

GOP Convention Speaker's List Heavy on Arkansas Ties

Now I see an even longer list of speakers has appeared, with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton on it as well. It looks like the Arkansas Republican Establishment has bought into "Making America Great Again"

The Republican Party has released a list of speakers for their convention in Cleveland. While many prominent Republicans have refused to attend the convention, three of the 67 speakers have Arkansas ties. Former Governor (and current Florida resident) Mike Huckabee, current Governor Asa Hutchinson, and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge are on the speaker's list. Hutchinson has been quoted as saying he will be given a "prime time" spot. That despite is strong endorsement of Marco Rubio during the campaign.

Here is the whole list.....

Pastor Mark Burns                                                     
Phil Ruffin                                                               
Congressman Ryan Zinke                                        
Pat Smith                                                                  
Mark Geist                                                                
John Tiegen                                                             
Congressman Michael McCaul                                 
Sheriff David Clarke                                                 
Congressman Sean Duffy                                        
Darryl Glenn                                                            
Senator Tom Cotton                                                   
Karen Vaughn                         
Governor Mike Huckabee                                       
Mayor Rudy Giuliani                                              
Melania Trump                                                         
Senator Joni Ernst                                               
Kathryn Gates-Skipper                            
Marcus Luttrell                                         
Dana White             
Governor Asa Hutchinson   
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge    
Michael Mukasey 
Andy Wist          
Senator Jeff Sessions        
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn   
Alex Smith         
Speaker Paul Ryan    
Congressman Kevin McCarthy 
Kerry Woolard .
Senator Shelley Moore Capito 
Dr. Ben Carson
Co-Chair Sharon Day

Natalie Gulbis
Kimberlin Brown
Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Peter Thiel
Eileen Collins
Senator Ted Cruz
Newt Gingrich
Michelle Van Etten
Lynne Patton
Eric Trump
Harold Hamm
Congressman Chris Collins
Brock Mealer
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Governor Mary Fallin
Darrell Scott
Lisa Shin
Governor Rick Scott
Chairman Reince Priebus
Tom Barrack
Ivanka Trump
Attorney General Pam Bondi
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
Chris Cox
Senator Mitch McConnell
Tiffany Trump
Governor Chris Christie
Donald J. Trump Jr.
Governor Scott Walker

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The Price of Deception in Arkansas is Now $150 Million per Month on Arkansas Works

Obamacare in Arkansas has been sold with one lie after another for the last three years. I started to go back and add links to all the deceptions, distortions, bribes and falsehoods which have been used to keep Arkansas in this program, but my life is too full for that. Most people who want to know it already know it anyway. Those who don't want to know it cannot be convinced with more facts. Their hearts are hardened to the truth and the heart problem must first be addressed before they become willing to admit truth. For those few who truly have not heard, here is one article demonstrating that our ruling class had to engage in massive welfare fraud in order to make the scam that we call the "Private" Option or "Arkansas Works" look somewhat reasonable for a while.
Most of the deception has come from Republicans, since Democrats don't normally need any lies to sell this program. They are up for using the state to loot their wealthier neighbors and impose generational slavery through debt anytime. It is the Republican voters that needed to be lied to, and the Republican Party of Arkansas through its elected officials has dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to that task. There are a few exceptions, like State Senator Bryan King with the rest of The Magnificent Seven in the Senate. For most of them though, its been shuck-and-jive to their constituents for the last three years.
In this case though, they were given mis-information. How can they vote correctly if the information on which they based those votes was incorrect? I am accustomed to the legislature, the supposed "People's Branch" being treated like mushrooms. They would vote based on one set of numbers, and then as soon as the vote was over we would learn that another set of numbers was closer to the truth. In April they voted to fund this program. Then numbers came out in May which when investigated closely reveal just what a farce the "savings" from this program were. Now we learn that even the numbers which came out in May underestimate the true costs of this program by $300 million over five years. 
This is false advertising. The legislature votes in April based on one set of numbers, then another set of numbers immediately comes out which shows that they voted on bad information, but two months later more numbers come out which shows that even those numbers were too generous. 
Would it have changed the votes of any legislator? Not if they wanted to be lied to, and I think that is where a lot of them are. A lot of them want the Governor's office and the Stephen's group to provide them bad information if that is what it takes to support this program. They want to be lied to because it helps them lie to you. 
But before you get indignant toward them because they want a comforting lie instead of the painful truth, ask yourself a hard question: are we doing the same when we expect the Republican Party to say "no" to this sort of wasteful government spending? Do we just play a game with ourselves when we say "we voted for them and they fooled us again?" How many times must we be fooled until it is our fault for continuing to vote for their candidates instead of facing the truth about what they are, even if its hard? 
I have long supported the idea of candidates for the state legislature running as independents, and local groups banding together to get our own access to the ballot under our own label. Republican legislators will normally feel some pressure to cooperate with a Republican Governor rather than the folks back home. Your legislator should work for you, not the Governor. Self-government is work. That is the truth. But it is a truth that we need to face