A City Recognizes Freedom Of Religion

On Sunday I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) about Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained ministers who run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.

I quoted a Daily Signal article which reported:

Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

It seemed to me that the ruling did not respect the Knapps right to practice their religious beliefs freely. Evidently the town in Idaho had second thoughts on the decision and has changed its mind.

The Washington Post is reporting today:

The city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers doesn’t have to perform same-sex marriages….

[City Attorney Michael] Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.

“After we’ve looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation,” Gridley explained.

One has to wonder who the city attorneys talked to before they decided that the ministers were not breaking any laws.

The article concludes:

As I’ve argued before, I think more than just religious freedom is at stake here — the Free Speech Clause protects the right not to participate in verbal ceremonies, whether religious or otherwise, and whether they are pledges of allegiance (even ones without “under God”) or the conducting of wedding vows (even ones that are secular). A secular freelance writer, for instance, has a Free Speech Clause right to refuse to write news releases for religious groups that he disapproves of (even if he generally takes commissions from the public), or articles praising ceremonies that he disapproves of. Likewise, a wedding officiant has a Free Speech Clause right to refuse to lead wedding ceremonies that he disapproves of. But at least I’m glad that, in this instance, the city has agreed that the ordinance doesn’t apply.

I believe that the freedom to practice religion is under attack in America. The Bible is very clear on the subject of homosexuality, and those Christians who believe in the Bible should be free to practice their religion. If the state chooses to marry homosexuals, that is a civil matter. If the state orders Christian pastors to perform gay weddings, the state is then infringing on the rights of Christians.That is the problem with the homosexual agenda–it discriminates against people who have a Christian worldview.

Facing A Real Problem In New York City

Recent mayors of New York City have been concerned with such things as decreasing the size of soft drinks, taking salt shakers off the table at restaurants, and taking the carriage rides out of Central Park. Generally they have been involved in trivial pursuit instead of dealing with some of the major problems the city has. Well, now they have a genuine problem to deal with.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Craig Spencer, a doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.

The article reports:

While officials have said they expected isolated cases of the disease to arrive in New York eventually, and had been preparing for this moment for months, the first case highlighted the challenges involved in containing the virus, especially in a crowded metropolis. Dr. Spencer, 33, had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night, visited a bowling alley in Williamsburg, and then took a taxi back to Manhattan.

If the Center for Disease Control is correct and the Ebola virus cannot be contracted from anyone until they start having symptoms, the virus may be contained at this point. Hopefully that is the case.

I hope that the mayor and public officials of New York City will give this situation the attention it deserves. It is frightening to think of the consequences of an Ebola epidemic in New York City.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

CBN News posted an article today about the release of Republican Sen. Tom Coburn‘s annual “Wastebook” report, which lists 100 examples of wasteful government spending totaling $25 billion.

The article reports:

Examples of wasteful federal spending include the following:

$10,000 to watch grass grow at a Florida reserve

$19 million in paid vacations for government workers, about a third of whom were placed on “administrative leave” for disciplinary reasons, including criminal offenses

$350 million to build a launch pad tower that was mothballed immediately because the rockets it was designed to test had been scrapped years ago

The report also found the State Department used part of its $3 million counterterrorism communications budget to debate terrorists on Twitter.

Why are we debating terrorists on Twitter? Why not use their smart phones to located them and deal with them in a way that prevents terrorism (use your imagination)?

This is another reason we need a new Congress that will put a stop to this foolishness.

Socialism Doesn’t Work

In November of last year, the government of Venezuela seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services. The company had shut down the rigs because the Venezuela oil monopoly was behind on payments.

On November 3, I posted an article about the takeover (rightwinggranny.com):

Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has not taken over any industries during the six months he has been President of Venezuela. This is the first move he has made in that direction. When Hugo Chavez began taking over industries, one news analyst observed that it would be difficult for him to keep those industries running at their profit levels without the knowledge of the companies that owned them. The seizure of these two rigs, which are repair rigs, is an illustration of that point.

So where are we now? The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that despite being an oil-rich nation, Venezuela has now introduced food rationing.

The article states:

Here at Maracaibo’s supermarkets, hot and cranky consumers who were waiting in line recently pointed to the irony of Venezuela, a country with $114 billion in oil sales last year, having to ration toilet paper.

“It sort of makes me want to laugh, but I can’t,” said Nayibi Pineda, a hotel housekeeper. “How is it possible we’ve gotten to this extreme?”

Shoppers said the time waiting in line can stretch to more than five hours, a delay they chalk up to malfunctioning fingerprinting machines.

“I’ve spent hours standing in line, suffering in the sun,” shrieked a tearful Luzmarina Vargas, clad in a bright pink robe typical of the area’s Wayuu Indians.

Salvador González, the Zulia state finance director who oversees machines, said officials were requiring machines to be installed at each checkout point in order to shorten lines. Supermarkets must bear the cost of the machines, around $150 each.“Our objective is to guarantee cheap food,” he said in an interview.

It isn’t just food that’s rationed here. Officials shut off water to homes for up to 108 hours a week, say residents, because of problems with the water delivery system.

In the birthplace of Venezuela’s oil industry—the first well was drilled here in 1914—the sale of gasoline is also tightly controlled. Scanners read bar codes that are required on car windshields to limit drivers from filling up their sedans more than twice a week. The measure is designed to curb the sale of Venezuela’s heavily subsidized gasoline—which costs less than a penny per gallon—in neighboring Colombia, where a gallon goes for $4.50.

America learned in the days of the Pilgrims that communal property was not a good idea. The Free Republic has an article entitled “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims” on its website.

The article states:

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

 At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.
So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.” The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.

The system became self-policing. Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder. He could know that his additional efforts would help specific people who depended on him. In short, the division of property established a proportion or “ratio” between act and consequence. Human action is deprived of rationality without it, and work will decline sharply as a result.

There are a number of basic principles that can be followed by a country that lead to prosperity. One of these principles is private property rights, another is free markets. When the government attempts to control the economy of a country, they find that they are in charge of an increasingly shrinking economy. Human nature says that people work the hardest when they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. If governments want financially successful countries, they need to remember that.

Even The Census Bureau Is Fudging Numbers

Yesterday the New York Post reported that workers in the Census Bureau in the Los Angeles area have been have been manipulating the economic data.

The article reports:

Contact information for the veteran Census worker — who reached out to me by e-mail recently and whom I interviewed by phone — has been turned over to congressional investigators who are looking into data falsification in other parts of the country.

“Everybody knows falsification is going on,” the whistleblower told me, adding the malfeasance in the LA region is so obvious that it’s hard to miss.

She said she’s coming forward now because she “applauds” the others who have spoken up already.

Census employees have blown the whistle on the Denver and Philadelphia regions. A Denver whistleblower recently turned over information to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Part of the problem here is that Americans have evidently grown tired of answering surveys and have become very wary of anything that might invade their privacy. Meanwhile, some of the Field Service Areas (FSA’s) are reporting a 100 percent response to their surveys–something that is highly unlikely at any time.

Why does this matter? Aside from the obvious fact that our government is lying to us, why is this important?

The article explains:

The stakes are high, of course. The Bureau of Labor Statistics requires a 90 percent success rate for interviews that go into the Current Population Survey, which Census conducts on BLS’ behalf. It’s those results that are used to calculate the nation’s monthly unemployment rate.

“To be perfectly honest, the BLS should be questioning the data, not just you alone,” the LA whistleblower said.

Who knows what the real unemployment rate actually is.

Sometimes Facts Are Simply Inconvenient

Yesterday the Washington Post published the following chart:

Obamatons

The graph was also posted at Power Line by Scott Johnson. So what is the value of this graph?

The article at Power Line reports:

On two occasions this campaign season, against all the odds, President Obama has said something useful and, even more improbably, something true. On those occasions he advertised the fact that the Democratic Senate candidates running for election or reelection in states such as Colorado, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, and Arkansas are in the bag for him. When their vote is needed, Obama can count on it, and when they tell the voters of their states they wake up every day thinking how best they can protect their interests, as Jeanne Shaheen did last night in her debate with Scott Brown, they are playing the voters for chumps. 

The article at Power Line also includes the following footnote:

FOOTNOTE: The layers of fact checkers and editors at the Post apparently failed to observe that the Colorado Senator’s first name is Mark, not Tom (who is Mark’s first cousin and the Senator from New Mexico). Tom Udall is not to be confused with Mark Udall. Tom Udall only votes with Obama 94 percent of the time.

The current Democrat party does not allow for voting independence on the part of its elected officials–they are required to follow the party line. If we want a Congress that represents the people it is supposed to represent, we need to change our voting habits.

Terrorism In Canada

CBN News is reporting today that a recent convert to Islam purposely drove his car into two Canadian soldiers on Monday.

The article reports:

Police say the suspect, 25-year-old Rouleau, sat in his car outside a veterans’ support center for at least two hours before hitting the two Canadian soldiers and leaving the scene.

Police chased Rouleau for a few miles before he lost control of the car, which rolled over several times.
    
Investigators say the suspect waved a knife when he got out of the vehicle. Police then opened fire, killing Rouleau.
    
Royal Canadian Mounted Police say authorities knew Rouleau, and he recently had his passport seized.

“He was part of our investigative efforts to try and identify those people who might commit a criminal act traveling abroad for terrorist purposes,” RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said
    
Paulson also said Rouleau was one of 90 suspected extremists in the country with the goal of joining fights overseas or who have returned to Canada.

It is becoming very obvious that there is a strain of Islam that is not peaceful. We need to find a way to discourage those Muslims who feel that they should follow the Koranic instructions to kill the infidel. The Muslim community also needs to learn to stand up against those who practice terror in the name of Islam.

Voters, Beware, Things May Not Be What They Seem

Fox News is reporting today about a very unsettling early voter mishap. Early voting has already begun in Illinois, and on Monday Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to cast his vote in the Schaumburg Public Library. When he attempted to vote for himself, the machine cast a vote for his opponent.

The article reports:

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

Moynihan offered this gracious lesson to his followers on Twitter: “Be careful when you vote in Illinois. Make sure you take the time to check your votes before submitting.”

Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service and tested.

“This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said. “When Mr. Moynihan used the touch-screen, it improperly assigned his votes due to improper calibration.”

I hate to be cynical, but I really do wonder if that is the only machine in Illinois that has a calibration error. This makes me very concerned about voting in America. I am ready to go back to paper and pencil if that’s what it takes to have an honest election. The fact that this happened in Cook County makes me even more suspicious.

An Inspiring Evening

Tonight there was a meeting of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) at the Stanley Ballroom in New Bern. The guest speaker was E.W. Jackson, Sr. He is an inspiring speaker and will be speaking at the Foundation Life Fellowship Church tomorrow night at 7 pm. I am sure it will be another amazing evening.

Rather than try to encapsulate Reverend Jackson’s speech, I am going to share the statement in his brochure for Staying True to America‘s National Destiny (STAND), an organization Reverend Jackson founded:

The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. It is time to take a STAND.

We are blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation the world has ever known. We have experienced more liberty and opportunity than any people in history. Ours has been a nation of industry and innovation; of opportunity and prosperity; of decency and generosity; of noble ideals and courageous people. We have always been a nation of faith and freedom. Today however, we are a nation at risk.

The foundational truths which created our country will also preserve it, but we must restore those foundations and stand up for truth. We must restore respect for life, liberty, marriage and family. We must respect every citizen’s God-given right to pursue happiness, but no one should demand a guarantee.

Those who are being lured into a life of government dependence can be awakened to their tremendous potential, but we must engage them. Those who have been told that they are victims can unleash their God-given talents and abilities, but we must liberate them. This is a land of unlimited opportunity for all, but we must show them.

It is time for a rebirth of the freedom for which so many have fought and died. Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor establish this nation. We must be willing to do the same to keep it. It is time to take a STAND.

This is no longer business as usual. This is an emergency. It is time to unify as “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.” I am asking you to join me in what may be our last opportunity to save this nation. Together, let us make this the Century of America’s greatest achievements–economically and culturally.

This is a message we all need to hear and take to heart.

With Friends Like These…

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about an amazing statement by President Obama. President Obama’s current approval rating according to Real Clear Politics is averaging about 41.4 percent this month (somehow the mainstream media is not reporting this fact). Keeping that in mind, consider this quote from a recent speech:

“Well, look, here’s the bottom line,” said Obama, “We’ve got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn’t win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turn-out. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. They are on the right side of minimum wage. They are on the right side of fair pay. They are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure. They’re on the right side of early childhood education.

“So, this isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. And I tell them, I said, you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn up.”

If you were a Democrat candidate running for Congress, how would you feel about that statement?

Why We Need A Repubican Senate

CBN News posted an article today about what has been happening in the United States Senate since Harry Reid has been in charge. Harry Reid’s main goal as Senate Majority Leader has been to ensure that the Senate stays in the hands of the Democrat party. One method he has chosen to to do that is to make sure Senators do not have to vote on anything that might be controversial for Democrats.

The article reports:

The Institute for Liberty’s Andrew Langer points out Americans are often leery of Congress passing new laws, especially when it involves their tax dollars.

“They don’t want the government to take any more of that money,” Langer said. “So it’s not a bad thing that it’s not passing bills to reach its hands into their pockets and steal their money.”

But he points out that Reid is not only blocking votes — often on very important issues — he’s allowing votes on questionable measures, like a recent one that critics say would have restricted the free speech of political interest groups.
 
“So Republicans have passed bill after bill after bill that have simply languished because Harry Reid refuses to bring them to the floor, while he brings idiotic bills like the bill to go after free speech of groups,” Langer said.
 
According to Hart, the mainstream media would have you believe the Republican majority in the House are just as bad at stifling legislation sponsored by Democrats. But he says the numbers in the Senate prove otherwise.
 
“Since July of 2013, there have been 14 votes on Republican amendments and hundreds and hundreds filed,” Hart said of the Senate. “And in the House you have a Republican speaker who’s allowed almost 200 votes on Democrat amendments.”

What we need are Congressmen who put the good of the country above their own quest for power or the quest for power for their political party. When you vote in two weeks, ask yourself, “Do I want a Senate who represents the people who elected it, or do I want a Senate controlled by one person who thinks only of his political party?”

It’s Only Unfair When The Other Guys Do It

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a video  Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, has done for the Democrat Senatorial Campaign. The video warns that if the Republicans take over the Senate, they might use a “tricky, little-known maneuver” to “ram through” their “right-wing policies” with only 51 votes, instead of the 60 votes “usually required” in the Senate. In case you have forgotten, that ‘tricky little-known maneuver’ is called reconciliation and was used by the Democrats to pass ObamaCare.

On October, 18, 2011, James Capretta posted an article at National Review which stated the following:

Without reconciliation, Obamacare would not have become law at all. It’s true that the main Obamacare structure was passed by the Senate in December 2009 under normal rules for legislative consideration. That’s because Democrats at that time had 60 votes (including two independent senators who caucus with them). They didn’t need to resort to reconciliation to pass the bill as long as  all 60 of their senators stuck together and supported passage, which they did.

But then Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race in January 2010; the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority and could no longer close off debate on legislation without the help of at least one Republican senator.

At that point, the president and his allies had two choices. They could compromise with Republicans and bring back a bill to the Senate that could garner a large bipartisan majority. Or they could ignore the election results in Massachusetts and pull an unprecedented legislative maneuver, essentially switching from regular order to reconciliation at the eleventh hour, thereby bypassing any need for Republican support. As they had done at every other step in the process, the Democrats chose the partisan route. They created a separate bill, with scores and scores of legislative changes that essentially became the vehicle for a House-Senate conference on the legislation. That bill was designated a reconciliation bill. Then they passed the original Senate bill through the House on the explicit promise that it would be immediately amended by this highly unusual reconciliation bill, which then passed both the House and Senate a few days later, on an entirely party-line vote.

The article at Power Line states:

Reich knows all of this, but he is secure in the knowledge that the Democrats’ rank and file, including the donors to whom MoveOn’s video is addressed, are ignorant of the most basic facts of government and do not have memories that reach back to the distant past of 2010. So there is no effective constraint on dishonesty if you are a Democrat bent on fundraising.

In order to survive, a representative republic needs an informed electorate. It is unfortunate that at the moment America does not have one.

An Exercise In Futility

On July 16, 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified SB812 (follow link for full text). The bill charges the State Board of Education with the task of conducting a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards adopted under G.S.115C 12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards will improve the students’ level of academic achievement, meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities, and other goals. The law sets up the Academic Standards Review Commission composed of eleven people who are charged with reviewing  current standards and making recommendations. Unfortunately the way the law is written, the Commission is simply going through the Common Core standards line by line (by hearing a presentation of the Department of Public Instruction [DPI], which supports Common Core). There is no objectivity in the presentation, and there is no factual information at this point that indicates Common Core does anything to raise academic standards.

In May of last year, I wrote an article about the introduction of Common Core in Massachusetts. The article cited a Wall Street Journal article detailing the changes in Massachusetts education during the 1990’s. Education in the state was reformed in 1993, and SAT scores rose for thirteen consecutive years. In 2005 Massachusetts scored best in the nation in all grades and categories on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. They have repeated that performance every time they have taken the test.  Massachusetts is doing very well educationally right now.

On October 1 of this year, I wrote another article about Common Core in Massachusetts. The article was about the Lincoln-Sudbury School Board‘s decision to decline a chance to offer the PARCC (Common Core) to students next spring, sharply criticizing the standardized test that could end up replacing the MCAS in the state.

That article quotes a Massachusetts newspaper article that states:

One board member equated the trial run of the exam as making “guinea pigs” out of students, whom he said wouldn’t see any worthwhile benefit from the dozens of hours they would put into practicing for and taking the test.

Lincoln-Sudbury, like all public high schools in Massachusetts, had a choice to administer the PARCC, short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, in ninth and 11th grade later this year. The new test, which was introduced in a small pilot roll-out this past spring, was developed by a consortium of states to closely conform to the new Common Core standards adopted by most schools in the nation.

…Several committee members also bemoaned the PARCC’s potential effect of putting increased emphasis on standardized testing, arguing Lincoln-Sudbury on its own is able to come up with much more effective measures of students’ grasp of learning standards.

No matter how hard the Department of Public Instruction tries to sell it, Common Core is untested. If the Commission is truly concerned about the education of North Carolina students, they will look to other states that have successfully improved the academic achievement levels of their students. I am sure there are many communities in Massachusetts who would be willing and able to help with this task.

Meanwhile, today’s meeting was a biased, self-serving presentation by the Department of Public Instruction–a department that was not interested in changing anything (except possibly the name Common Core). That is unfortunate.

If the parents and grandparents of North Carolina students are truly concerned about their students’ education, they need to get involved very quickly. There will be a meeting next month in which the DPI will do a presentation of the mathematics section of Common Core similar to the one they did today on the English Language Arts section. So far there has been no public examination of any set of standards other than the unproven Common Core standards. If that continues, the students of North Carolina will be the victims of an exercise in futility that accomplished nothing.

 

 

What About The Right To Practice Your Religion?

The Daily Signal posted an article yesterday about Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained ministers who run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.

The article reports:

Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

I hope the Knapps have good lawyers working on this–it is blatantly unconstitutional.

The article explains the balance that is needed in this case:

States must protect the rights of Americans and the associations they form—both nonprofit and for-profit—to speak and act in the public square in accordance with their beliefs. It is particularly egregious that the city would coerce ordained ministers to celebrate a religious ceremony in their chapel. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion arguing that this action “violates [the Knapps’s] First and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, substantive due process, and equal protection.”

Citizens must work to prevent or repeal laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We must also insist on laws that protect religious freedom and the rights of conscience.

It is not my concern whether or not homosexuals marry. It is my concern when the rights of Americans are violated in order to give special privileges to any group. We need to get back to the place where the rights of all Americans are respected–the rights of religious people and the rights of homosexuals.

 

 

 

 

This Is Just Unbelievable

Last month a website called qpolitical posted a story about Somali Muslims in America demanding a food bank that meets their religious standards.

The article reports:

I think I am even more confused. Not only do they want an American program to change due to their islamic standards, they also expect $150,000 for it. Oh and keep in mind that’s only to start the food shelf up. There isn’t a plan yet, get this, on how much will sustain it.

Keep in mind that this is a government program being asked to bend to religious requirements. Would the government do this for Christians, Jews, or any other religion? If the Islamic community wants free food that meets their religious requirements, they need to be responsible for setting up their own food banks. If they want Islamic food, they also have the option of finding a job and earning the money to buy it.

The article includes a video:

Big Government Protecting Itself

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has quietly transferred 500 of his managers into the state public employee union. Governor Patrick will be leaving office after the upcoming election and the governorship is expected to be turned over to the Republicans. This move prevents the Republicans from downsizing the Massachusetts bureaucracy. Placing the managers in the state public employee union will also qualify them for a series of 3 percent raises and insulate them from firing when the next governor takes over.

The article reports:

While smaller clusters of management positions have been converted into union positions in the past, this is the largest sweep into the union in at least two decades, according to administration and union officials.

Rolling the managers into the 22,000-member union will effectively protect them from any house-cleaning that might occur when the next governor takes office in January — a particular likelihood if Republican Charlie Baker were to take over after eight years of Democratic leadership.

Union employees generally have to be removed “for cause,” while managers serve at will.

Obviously, this move will make downsizing the Massachusetts state government more difficult for the new governor. It will also increase the cost of state government, although Patrick administration officials have stated that the cost to the state would be “less than $500,000.” When did we reach the point where $500,000 was not significant?

A Congressman I Respect

If you read this blog regularly, you know that it has been almost a year since I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. I am still learning about North Carolina politics and the people involved in them. Today I had the privilege of being part of a small group that met with Congressman Walter Jones. I was thoroughly impressed.

Congressman Jones believes in the United States Constitution. He votes in Congress based on what the Constitution says.

One of Congressman Jones’ concerns is the rapid increase of America’s national debt. He states that he believes we need to stop raising the debt ceiling and begin to bring government spending under control. He pointed out that the last time the debt ceiling was raised, it was done in a way that did not require the House to vote on increasing the debt ceiling until March of 2015, regardless of how much the debt had risen by then. He reminded us that just as you would not run your household budget that recklessly, the United States budget should not be run that way.

Congressman Jones is currently seeking another term in the U. S. House of Representatives. Based on what I saw today, I will happily vote for him. He stated that he sees serving in the House of Representatives as both an honor and a privilege. It is an honor to be represented in Washington by a man who loves his country and respects the United States Constitution.

Preserving The Integrity Of Our Elections

There have been some real questions as to the integrity of American elections as of late. Many private organizations who have examined voter rolls have found thousands of people in some areas who are registered to vote but who are not legal voters.

Judicial Watch has been one of the groups working to restore integrity to our elections. In a recent newsletter, Judicial Watch cited a Pew Report published in 2012 that stating:

“nearly 2 million dead people are still registered to cast ballots, about 3 million eligible to vote in two or more states and millions more that are inaccurate, duplicate or out of date. The alarming figures were published recently in a report issued by the non-partisan Pew Center on States. It reveals that approximately 24 million active voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or have significant inaccuracies. The problem, apparently, is an outdated registration system that can’t properly maintain records.”

Texas has been fighting a battle to keep its elections honest. Fox News is reporting today that the Supreme Court has allowed Texas to enforce its new voter identification law in the coming election.

The article reports:

In a rare weekend announcement, a majority of the high court’s justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit Texas from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo ID to cast ballots. Three justices dissented.

The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold.

The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday.

Quite frankly, I don’t believe the judge’s numbers. We live in a world where identification is required for almost everything. If you are collecting Social Security, you needed identification to sign up, so the elderly population would have the necessary identification. If you are collecting government assistance, you needed identification to sign up, so poor people would have the necessary identification. If you have ever boarded an airplane, cashed a check, bought alcohol or cigarettes, rented a video, entered any federal building, visited a doctor, picked up a prescription, or entered a hospital, you have had to show identification. Most Americans have done at least one of those things at one time or another.

We need honest elections. I cannot figure out why there are people in our government who are refusing to acknowledge that fact.

Is Washington Really Interested In Dealing With This Problem?

The Daily Caller reported today that President Obama has appointed Ron Klain, as White House Ebola response coordinator. I don’t question the need to put someone in charge of handling the spread of Ebola in America, but I do wonder about the appointment of Ron Klain.

Mr. Klain was one of the senior White House officials who advised that President Obama should visit solar power company Solyndra in 2011, despite an auditor raising red flags about the company’s finances. Mr. Klain has previously worked for Vice-President Al Gore as chief of staff and as Vice-President Joe Biden as chief of staff. Mr. Klain has no medical background.

It seems that in keeping with the pattern that has developed in handling Ebola in America, the President has chosen someone to handle to political angles rather than the medical angles. I suspect that this choice means that the government will continue to make decisions that are politically expedient but do nothing to protect the lives of Americans from this deadly virus.

This Is Lunch?

Yesterday tpnn news posted the picture below. This  is lunch under Michelle Obama‘s Nutrition Guidelines:

Chickasha-lunch

Just for the record, the Obama daughters attend the Sidwell Friends School. The article reports on lunch at that school:

Their lunches are prepared fresh by Meriwether Godsey, a catering company. The menu consists of such items as all natural rosemary chicken, fresh herb risotto, cheese tortellini, crusted tilapia, and fresh baked muffins, just to name a few.

“Let them eat cake.”

The Keystone Kops Battle An Epidemic

There is nothing comical about Ebola, but right now it looks as if the Ebola virus is being fought by the Keystone Kops. If you were to make a horror movie about a world-wide epidemic spread by incompetence and a lack of common sense, the current Ebola crisis could easily provide the script.

This article is based on a number of articles. I am only including small parts of each article and strongly suggest that you follow the links back to the original articles to get the full story.

The New York Post is reporting today that a worker in the Texas hospital that cared for the first Ebola patient is now in quarantine on a cruise ship. What in the world was she thinking?

The article reports:

The Carnival Magic was being held off the coast of Belize on Friday until the hospital worker could be removed from the ship and returned to the United States.

“At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew,” Carnival said in a statement. “It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution.”

The Belize government, however, turned down a request by the United States to evacuate the worker through the international airport in Belize City.

She is not showing any symptoms or feeling ill, but knowing the risk, why are we letting hospital workers who may have had contact in some way with the disease travel?

From the New York Post yesterday:

A passenger died on a Nigeria-to-JFK flight after a vomiting fit Thursday — and a top lawmaker said officials gave the corpse only a “cursory” exam before declaring that the victim did not have Ebola.

How does one detect Ebola after a cursory exam? Again, what is the likelihood of someone vomiting and dying on an airplane other than from some serious illness–whether it be Ebola or something else?

The New York Daily News reported today:

The World Health Organization has admitted that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information.

“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in a draft internal document obtained by The Associated Press, noting that experts should have realized that traditional containment methods wouldn’t work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems. 

Despite the admission, the U.N. health agency officially declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Senegal and the organization commended the country for its diligence in putting a stop to the transmission of the virus.In a statement Friday the WHO said the sole introduced case was confirmed Aug. 29 in a young man who had travelled to Dakar, by road, from Guinea, where he had had direct contact with an Ebola patient. 

The statement called Senegal’s response “a good example of what to do when faced with an imported case of Ebola.”

It said Senegal government’s response included identifying and monitoring 74 close contacts of the patient, prompt testing of all suspected cases, stepped-up surveillance at many entry points and public awareness campaigns. 

But the U.N. health agency acknowledged that, at times, the bureaucracy in its organization was a problem.

Note the stepped-up surveillance at many entry points. The bigger the bureaucracy, the less efficient it is.

These are just some of the examples of the departure of common sense in the handling of Ebola. Unfortunately, many people may die because of bloated bureaucracy and a total lack of common sense.

North Carolina Voters, It’s Up To You To Uphold The Constitution

The following is taken from Michael Speciale’s website:

On the November ballot you will be asked to vote on a change to the North Carolina Constitution. The change is to allow individuals who appear in Superior Court, in cases where the State is NOT pursuing the death penalty, to waive their right to a trial by jury. With the approval of the Judge, they will go in front of a Judge only. The question on the ballot will be as follows:

[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional Amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior Court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial Judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.

To some, the proposed amendment seems benign. It seems like no big deal, until you look at the ramifications, the precedence being set, and the liberty safeguards being forfeited.

Next to our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, whose inclusion into the Bill of Rights was intended to ensure that we the people had the ability to fight a tyrannical government, our 6th Amendment right to trial by jury is the next most important right that we have.

This right is another measure to ensure that we can overcome a tyrannical government because juries have the power to judge the law as well as the facts of a case.

What would be the purpose of this amendment? I can only reason that its purpose is intended to clear the backlog of cases. On whose backs will this come? The State would like to cut down on costs for providing legal defense to the indigent. Sadly, they will be the ones targeted because disposing of their cases by a Judge alone is generally quicker and cheaper than dragging out a Jury Trial.

Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios to determine what could happen:

   1. Promises and Coercion: The indigent defendant is sitting in their cell awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail. They are approached by an officer of the court and the conversation goes like this: “It will likely be months before we can get you in front of a jury, but if you sign this waiver, we can get you in front of Judge so-and-so in a week or two. He’s usually pretty lenient in cases like yours.” What do you think the defendant is likely to do? He wants out of the cell; he wants his freedom. He is likely to sign the waiver under the belief that he will be out of there quicker, and with a lighter sentence. It is not likely that all will go as promised.

   2. Juries have the right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case. That means that, even though you may be guilty of violating a law as written, the jury may choose not to convict you because they believe the law to be a bad one, or they believe that the law simply should not apply in your case due to mitigating, extenuating, or exigent circumstances. This is called Nullification, and a Judge is not likely to consider this.

   3. What about Justice? The powerful and the politically connected commit crimes like everyone else. Picture a Senator or other powerful individual manipulating the system by choosing to waive his/her right to a jury trial in order to get in front of a Judge that he/she knows, such as a friend, a supporter, or someone who owes a favor. Justice would not be served in this case.

   4. When the government gets their ‘foot in the door’ the next step is to kick it wide open. Think of the seat belt law. In order to calm public opinion when the seat belt law was being considered, we the people were told that this would be a secondary offence. In other words, we would not be pulled over just for a seat belt violation, but we could be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if we were pulled over for another offence. The reality is that shortly after the law was passed, it was changed to make it a primary offence. Just like that, once this amendment is passed, after a short time I can easily envision a change making it no longer a choice in certain cases, but a mandate. I can envision the law being changed to state that if you are charged with certain crimes, those particular crimes will no longer allow trial by jury, but will be tried in front of a Judge only. Can you see it?

We are losing our rights by the day, and we should not just give them away. I voted NO on the bill to put this on the ballot.

I recommend that you vote NO on the amendment.

Representative Larry Pittman has released the following statement:

[...] Last year, all of us except Rep. Michael Speciale messed up on a bill
that was brought to the floor for a vote when some of us had never
seen it. It was heard in committee that morning and brought to us in
the afternoon session.

I really didn’t get a chance to study it for more than a few minutes.
Sometimes there are just so many bills in the

queue, especially the last few days of the session, that if you are
trying to study as many as you can as closely as you can, there will
be some you don’t get to study that closely before they go through
committee. So you listen to the debate and try to read the bill as it
is being debated, and make the best decision you can, based on the
debate presented.

On this one, there really was not much of a debate.
We were told by its House sponsors how great it was and how it would
enhance the rights of the accused in court proceedings. It was SB 399.
The whole Senate, and everyone in the House except Rep. Speciale,
voted for it. You will see it as a constitutional amendment on your
ballot in the election this November. I am asking you to correct our
mistake and vote NO on this proposed amendment. Thank goodness for Rep. Speciale for seeing through it and pointing
out to me how bad it actually is. I just wish he could have had the
chance before it was too late for the vote. I guess he didn’t speak
against it on the floor because he thought it was so bad it didn’t
have a chance to pass. Our District Attorney here in Cabarrus County
has also spoken out publicly against this very bad amendment. Please
vote against it.[...]

We as the voters have a chance to vote against this amendment. Many of our legislators and state officials are now speaking out against the amendment, saying that it takes away a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Please vote no.

Why People Don’t Trust The Government

Right now most Americans are very concerned about the risk of the Ebola virus in America. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not seem to have a consistent message regarding how to prevent the virus from spreading, and meanwhile although caution is being recommended, there have been some mistakes in dealing with the virus that are simply the result of a lack of caution.

The Daily Caller posted an article today that stated:

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the federal government’s Models of Infectious Disease Agency co-funded a September 2 analysis on the threat of Ebola’s spread to countries including the United States, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported. The analysis was circulated among federal government officials prior to its September 2 publication date.

The analysis found a nearly 25 percent “probability of Ebola virus disease case importation” to the United States within 3 to 6 weeks.

On September 16th, the President stated that according to ‘experts across our government’ the risk of Ebola in America was very low. Either President Obama was unaware of the report, or he was lying. Either way, there is a problem. Hopefully, the Ebola virus in America will be contained, but even if it is, the lives of three people and their families have been impacted in a very negative way because America had been lulled into a false sense of security. Common sense says we should make an effort to stop people from coming into America from places where the virus is active, but so far the President has not been willing to do that. We need to apply some common sense to this problem. For some reason that is not currently  happening.

Slowing Down Human Trafficking In Columbia

The Blaze is reporting today on a sting operation in Columbia that rescued fifty-five victims of sex trafficking–one as young as eleven years old.

The article reports:

Colombian officials acted in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement authorities, who arrested a man in the United States who allegedly traveled to Medellin to have sex and film himself with underage prostitutes.

Two U.S. nonprofit groups dedicated to eradicating sexual exploitation of children, Breaking Chains and Operation Underground Railroad, assisted with the case.

Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, was part of a sting operation that apparently caught alleged sex trafficker named Marcus Bronschidle on video bartering over the price of sex with young girls. Ballard is also a former CIA agent and former U.S. Homeland Security investigator specializing in child sex trafficking cases.

The article goes on to explain how the criminals were set up and what their possible jail terms in Columbia will be. Frankly, I think this is a crime where the death penalty should be enforced worldwide.