This Really Isn’t A Surprise

Reuters is reporting today that Britain has told a United Nations panel in charge of sanctions on Iran that there is an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms.

The article reports:

“The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it ‘is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)’,” the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran’s compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime.

KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities.

Iran, which is has been under sanctions for years, has a long history of illicit nuclear procurement using front companies and other methods of skirting sanctions.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Iran is not an honest negotiator, and America needs to break off talks with them at least until the American prisoners they hold are released.


How Spontaneous Are These Demonstrations?

How spontaneous are the demonstrations in Baltimore, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C? I don’t know, but having seen help wanted advertisements in the past advertising for paid protestors, I am wondering. I am sure many of the people protesting are protesting because they think injustice has been done. I am also sure many of the people are protesting because it is an excuse to behave badly.

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about the protests in Baltimore, New York, and other cities. The article includes a lot of pictures of the protests. Please follow the link above to read the article. Often the British press does a better job of reporting on America than the American press does.

The article sums up events in Baltimore:

Enforced by 3,000 extra police and National Guardsmen, the streets that had been rocked by massive unrest were quiet following the ending of the curfew at 5am with no reports of disturbances in the early hours.

Indeed, going on the numbers alone, the curfew was a resounding success.

On Monday, 235 people – including 34 juveniles were arrested, 19 buildings set ablaze, 20 police injured and 144 vehicles torched.

On Tuesday, 10 people were arrested and one police officer was injured.

But life is unlikely to get completely back to normal anytime soon.

Attempting to keep expectations low, Governor Larry Hogan said that along with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake they can’t promise that respect for the rule of law has returned to the city.

‘You can’t ensure that there’s not going to be any unrest. I’m not a magician,’ Hogan said to the Baltimore Sun . ‘What I can assure you is that we will put all the resources that we have at our disposal to make sure that disturbances don’t get out of hand.’

Let’s back up and look at this for a moment. It is unfortunate that a black man died while in police custody, but obviously that is not the whole story. When the facts eventually came out in Ferguson, it became obvious that the person killed was guilty of a number of things, including attempting to take the policeman’s gun and shoot him. Again, what happened was unfortunate, but the actions taken by the policeman involved were not totally unjustified. I wish there were more gentle ways to handle criminals who don’t listen to the police, but I also wish there were not criminals who don’t listen to the police. Both wishes are unlikely to come true.

This is one picture from the U.K. Mail article:

Protesters in Washington DC also marched on Wednesday from the Chinatown neighborhood to the White House in Washington DC

Note that the majority of the signs in the picture are professionally done. It is interesting to me that all of the protestors had the time (and the money) to get these signs printed up in such a short time.
I don’t like conspiracy theories, but I have noticed that sometimes people of all races die in encounters with police. It seems as if the victims who are not black just don’t get the publicity and reaction that we have recently seen. I  haven’t seen any “White Lives Matter” posters, and both white and black lives do matter. It seems odd to me that when America has its first black President, there is more racial tension in the country than there has been since the Civil Rights Movement. We need to examine the source of that tension carefully and look for the money behind it. The destruction and anarchy that is evident in these protests is being led behind the scenes. It would be to our advantage to know who is doing the leading.

While We Are Preparing To Sign A Nuclear Arms Treaty…

Yahoo News is reporting today that Iran has seized the Maersk Tigris cargo ship in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz. Yesterday the U.K. Telegraph carried the story.

The Telegraph reports:

The vessel had apparently declined to change course and steer towards the Iranian coast. Warning shots were then fired across the bridge and the ship was boarded by personnel from the naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and steered towards the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

The container ship was travelling from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai. It was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and chartered by Rickmers Ship Management, a company based in Hamburg. The vessel is owned by Maersk, the Danish shipping and trading conglomerate.

…Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency, described the ship as a “trade vessel” which had been “seized by the Iranian navy” at the request of the country’s Ports and Maritime Authority.

Fars added: “The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation.” No further explanation for Iran’s actions was offered.

The idea of simply seizing the ship and the innocent people aboard the ship does not seem like the appropriate response to the court action.

Meanwhile, Yahoo News reports:

Iran’s foreign minister told a New York City audience on Wednesday that Tehran respects freedom of navigation in the Gulf, a day after Iranian patrol boats seized a Danish container ship in one of the world’s busiest oil shipping lanes.

“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline … We will respect international navigation,” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said during a discussion hosted by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and the think tank New America. “For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must.”

This doesn’t sound like freedom of navigation.

Yahoo News reports:

Maersk said in a statement that it was in communication with the Danish Foreign Ministry and trying to ascertain why the Maersk Tigris had been diverted.

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said a court had ordered the ship seized after ruling against Maersk Line in a case about debts brought by Pars Talaie, an Iranian company.

Zarif told the audience on Wednesday that Maersk was required to pay damages on the basis of a court order. He said the legal proceedings had been going on for some 14 years.

“Simply, our naval forces implemented the decision of the court,” Zarif said in New York, characterizing Maersk’s actions as “peculiar.”

Tasnim, an Iranian news agency, quoted a Pars Talaie lawyer as saying the debt involved a cargo that Pars Talaie had hired Maersk to take from the Iranian port of Abadan to Dubai more than a decade ago but which never arrived.

This is another example of what happens when America has a weak President. There were American warships in the area, but Iran had no reason to fear them. This is also an example of the lawlessness of Iran.

Sometimes The Earth Just Doesn’t Cooperate With The Scientists

The Daily Caller posted an article today about some recent occurrences involving Arctic ice.

The article reports:

For years, scientists have been warning the Arctic was in a “death spiral” and could soon be ice-free during the summertime and shrink to unprecedented levels due to man-made global warming. Such ice loss could be “irreversible,” some scientists claimed.

But new research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography says that predictions of an ice-free Arctic are based on “oversimplified” theories. Scripps researchers, who were co-funded by the Navy, found that the Arctic sea ice may be “substantially more stable than has been suggested in previous idealized modeling studies.”

I should probably point out at this point that I am not in favor of dirty water, dirty air, or any other sort of pollution. I just have serious doubts as to whether the earth is warming or whether man actually has anything to do with any climate change that is occurring.

There were many predictions saying that Arctic Ice would be gone by 2030–the levels of ice had decreased in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and some scientists were saying that the ice would not come back. However, that is not what has happened.

The article concludes:

NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center) and European satellite data show that multi-year sea ice made a big comeback in 2013 and 2014 — increasing from 2.25 to 3.17 million square kilometers during that time and making up 43 percent of the north pole’s ice pack.

In fact, Arctic sea ice extent as a whole seems to be stabilizing despite this year’s record low maximum in February. NSIDC data shows Arctic sea ice extent is currently within the normal range based on the 1981 to 2010 average extent.

“Global sea ice is at a record high, another key indicator that something is working in the opposite direction of what was predicted,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told the U.K. Express in January.

“Most people think the poles are melting… they’re not,” he said. “This is a huge inconvenience that reality is now catching up with climate alarmists, who were predicting that the poles would be melting fairly soon.”

Global warming is not a proven fact. Until it is, it would be foolish for industrialized nations to cripple their economies to accommodate faulty science. Again, we need to cut down on pollution simply because it is a bad thing, but we do not have to go overboard to create a result that is questionable at best.


Unfortunately Money Can Buy Things It Shouldn’t

On Monday, Wicked Local Scituate posted a story about teachers in Massachusetts fighting the adoption of Common Core in their state. Scituate is a beautiful town on the Massachusetts coast about 25 miles from Boston. The median income in the town between 2000 and 2011 was slightly over $100,000. In February 2015, the average price of a house in Scituate was $545,000. I mention this just to give you an idea of the town that publishes the paper involved. I should also mention that in Massachusetts the word ‘wicked’ is frequently used as an adjective. Please follow the link above to read the entire article.

The article states a few facts about the pre-Common Core successes of education in Massachusetts and reminds us of the actions of two courageous members of the validation committee who refused to sign off on Common Core:

According to many of its critics, early childhood experts, teachers, parents, and local school committees were barely consulted during the inception of the Common Core and were inadequately represented on its validation committee. The only two educators on the panel, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, perhaps the nation’s preeminent ELA (English Language Arts) specialist (and a former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education) and Dr. James Milgram, a mathematics professor from Stanford University, refused to sign off on the Common Core validation statement because they did not support the Common Core’s standards or the program itself, on the basis that the Common Core standards were not research-based, rigorous or internationally benchmarked.

The writer of the article gathered his information about Common Core from a friend who is an early childhood expert of 20 years, a private school teacher, and mother of a third-grader, and who was lobbying against Common Core in Massachusetts.

The article reports:

So why did Massachusetts, which in 2007 was nationally ranked in the 90th percentile for student achievement in standardized testing, adopt a curriculum that had little transparency or accountability and choose to rate teachers not by how well they taught their content area, but instead on students’ scores on a test of dubious value? Why did the Commonwealth replace its top-notch English and math standards with the weaker national standards of the Common Core? As far as my friend is concerned, the answer is “Cha-ching!”

In 2010, the Massachusetts education commissioner relied on reports from Achieve Inc., the Thomas Fordham Institute, and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education to support and justify a recommendation to adopt the Common Core. These private organizations had one common thread—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested more than $200 million dollars in promoting the Common Core curriculum.

The article goes on to explain some of the other financial dealings related to Common Core.

The article concludes:

There is no regard for individual and collective aptitudes and motivations within a particular classroom, or for the presentation of developmentally appropriate content. Teachers cannot celebrate or assess the different learning styles of their students, because all students must learn and test the same way. We have gone from educator-created content and teaching methods to a state of test takers and test teachers, who are forced to adhere to a one-size fits all model of standardization.

My friend and her allies in the education community are seeking to convince the state’s political leaders to reinstitute the education standards and testing regime, which prevailed prior to the adoption of the Common Core. Time will tell whether those efforts are successful, but their voice is growing louder, and I can’t see them giving up without a fight.

These are the same objections we are hearing from teachers and parents around the country. It is time to fight the moneyed interests that are promoting Common Core and do what is best for our children.


Why Congressional Investigations Can Take A Long Time

It seems that there have been so many scandals involving the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton that it is hard to keep track. After a while it seems as if the investigations never seem to end. Well, there’s a reason the investigations seem to drag on–sometimes the information needed to conduct the investigation can be hard to get.

The Hill reported yesterday that thousands of emails from Lois Lerner have magically appeared.

The article reports:

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) said it found roughly 6,400 emails either to or from Lerner sent between 2004 and 2013 that it didn’t think the IRS had turned over to lawmakers, the panels said. The committees have yet to examine the emails, according to Capitol Hill aides.

…But a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the committee hoped the new emails would bring the panel closer to releasing the findings of its IRS investigation. Committee aides have said the panel was close to finishing its report when the IRS said it couldn’t locate the Lerner emails last year.

“These emails will be carefully examined as part of the committee’s bipartisan IRS investigation,” the spokesman said. “After TIGTA produces their report regarding the missing data later this year, the Committee hopes to follow suit and move forward with the release of its bipartisan report on this issue.” 

If the IRS had produced the emails when they were originally asked to, the investigation would be over. I also can’t help wondering if the emails have been tampered with in any way.

Would You Give To Any Charity That Gave So Little To The People It Was Claiming To Help?

The Clinton Foundation has been in the news a lot lately. There are some real questions as to what some of the donations actually bought or why they were given. Now there are some real questions as to how wisely the money was spent.

Yesterday posted an article about the expenditures of the Clinton Foundation. The article reports:

Charity Navigator, who we have on the show all the time, placed the Clinton Foundation on a watch list,” she ( Fox Business Network’s “The Willis Report,” host Gerri Willis) continued. “They think there are problems with this non-profit.” She added, “Any Democrat—they say what a wonderful charitable organization it is doing to help people in need, people who are hungry, people who have AIDS. Listen, 6 percent of the money it collected in 2013, 6 percent — $9 million, of the $140 million in total it collected, went to help people.”

Washington Free Beacon’s Liz Harrington weighed in saying, “The numbers just don’t add up. One of the biggest offenses of the Clinton Foundation came out yesterday — 88 percentof the their expenditures go directly to their charitable programs. That is just simply not true. As you mentioned, they raked in $140 million. They only spent nine million on direct aid. Most of their money goes towards salaries, bonuses, to close friends, folks tied to the Clinton campaign.”

Willis read the $140 million 2013 spending breakdown from the New York Post, saying, “Here is a list of foundation spending—where the money goes: $30 million on payroll expenses, $9.2 to conferences and meetings, fundraising — $8 million. Nearly $8.5 million on travel.”

Unfortunately this problem is not unique to the Clinton Foundation. It is a good idea to do some research before you give to any organization in order to find out how much of your gift will actually be spent on the mission of the organization. Charity Navigator rates charities according to their financial transparency and overhead. For example, Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey is rated at 89.62, the American Red Cross is rated at 85.25, and Operation Blessing is rated at 92.12. The Charity Navigator has placed the Clinton Foundation on a watch list. That says it all.

The Fight To Be Heard

One of the frustrating things about watching the political scene right now is the feeling that only rich people and lobbyists are being heard by our elected officials. I am willing to admit that I often have that feeling. However, sometimes the obstacles that keep average Americans from being properly represented come from the parties that claim to represent them.

I spent today in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the state legislative buildings. I was part of a group that spoke with a number of state representatives and senators. I also attended a committee hearing on education issues. So what did our group accomplish? First of all, I need to explain that we were a group of eleven Republicans from the 3rd Congressional District of North Carolina. We went to Raleigh to talk to our representatives about a number of issues.

The North Carolina legislature is structured in such a way that if a House of Representatives or Senate bill does not make it out of its committee by April 30th, the bill will not be heard in this year’s session. Because it is April 28th, the legislative building was a very busy place. There were an awful lot of lobbyists running around. We were a group of unpaid, ordinary citizens. However, we did speak to a number of legislators.
One of the issues our group was concerned about was the date of the Republican Presidential Primary Election in North Carolina. The primary was originally scheduled for one week after the South Carolina primary, which would have put it in February. The Republican National Committee told the State of North Carolina Republicans that if their primary was held before March 1st, they would have 12 delegates attending the Republican National Convention, rather than the 72 they were originally assigned. The State Republicans were told that if they held their primary before March 15th, the delegates would be distributed proportionally according to the results of the primary election. If the primary were held after March 15th, it would be a winner-take-all primary. Currently a bill has passed out of committee in the North Carolina House of Representatives to hold the Republican Primary on March 8. Many North Carolina Republicans are hoping the date on that bill will be changed to March 22–the first Tuesday after March 15th. So what is this all about? An article posted by National Review on September 3, 2014, explains exactly what is going on in its headline, “Proportional allocation of delegates in early-voting states will make it hard for non-establishment candidates to rack up leads.”

That is the game being played, and that is the reason that grass-roots candidates are having such a hard time in the Presidential primaries.

The article reports:

This is a potential death sentence for the conservative candidate. Most of the highly conservative southern states traditionally hold their primaries inside of the March 1–14 window. If that occurs again in 2016, a conservative candidate will probably not gain many delegates over the establishment choice by winning the states in his base. Even if a southern state in the window allocates, as many non-southern states do, three delegates to each congressional district on a winner-take-all basis, the proportional allocation of the statewide delegates will place a conservative statewide winner at a severe disadvantage. He or she will then have to compete in less hospitable states that have the freedom to select all of their delegates by winner-take-all methods.

The article shows how the new rules could prevent a conservative from winning the nomination:

The 2016 preliminary lineup already foreshadows this danger. According to the website, ten of the 15 southern or border states (including Texas, Virginia, and North Carolina) are currently scheduled to hold their contests before March 14. Three other caucus states where conservatives traditionally do well (Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado) are also scheduled to hold their contests before the window closes. Conservative Utah is also in this group, as are the two midwestern states where Rick Santorum did best in 2012, Michigan and Ohio.
Under the RNC’s new rules, a conservative could run the table in these events and yet barely open up a delegate lead. The establishment choice could easily make up ground and then some in less conservative states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

The Republican Party is signing its death warrant if it continues to attempt to shut out conservative voters and conservative candidates. The energy in the party has come from the conservative movement, and the boots on the ground have generally been conservative. The establishment wants to hold the power, but they are not generally the ones doing the groundwork.

I am hoping the North Carolina legislature will move the Republican primary to March 22, but I am not optimistic.

Is Free Speech The Same As Destruction Of Property?

Is destruction of property a part of free speech? Evidently in Baltimore it is. Baltimore has recently been hit with protests as a result of the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody,

The Blaze reported yesterday:

Protests over the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, took a violent turn on Saturday, resulting in dozens of arrests and widespread property damage. During a recent press conference, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed that the protesters were being given “space” to “destroy.”

“While we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on,” the mayor said of the protesters. “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw.”

Someone needs to explain to me how destroying someone else’s property in any way accomplishes anything. Protesting is a right of every American; however, violence and property destruction are not a right–they are a criminal offense. Those who sought to destroy should have been promptly taken into custody–not given space to do so. The message sent to the people of Baltimore is that the police will not defend their businesses. This is not a good message to send. I suspect we will see many businesses move out of Baltimore in the near future because it is not safe to stay there. Also, what impact will the statement of the Mayor have on the cost of insurance for businesses in the affected area.

If You Misunderstand The Cause Of The Problem, You Probably Won’t Get The Solution Right Either

I have been following the story of the California water crisis for about five years now (rightwinggranny), including posting vacation pictures of the destruction the environmentalists have caused to the Central Valley farmers in the name of saving the Delta Smelt. Well, today The Wall Street Journal posted a story about the Delta Smelt. The Delta Smelt is not doing well, despite the fact that in order to protect the smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008.

The article reports:

The agency (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) acknowledges that its “existing regulatory mechanisms have not proven adequate” to arrest the fish’s decline since its listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 and that “we are unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible.”

Let me get this straight–the environmentalists have dumped 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008 in order to save the Delta Smelt. The article reminds us that the amount of water dumped would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years.

The article gives a more plausible explanation for the decline of the fish:

The smelt’s decline might not seem such a mystery today had government regulators more closely examined the science. For instance, a 2008 study by San Francisco State University researcher Wim Kimmerer—a paper used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to support its pumping restrictions—found that the sporadic population losses attributed to pumping during the winter and spring when smelt are spawning failed to take into account “subsequent 50-fold variability in survival from summer to fall” when the young fish are growing.

Other studies have noted that the biggest driver of species abundance in the delta is precipitation, which may explain why the smelt population has plummeted over the past four years of drought after rebounding in 2011—a wet year.

California should be a case study of what happens when extreme environmentalists demand drastic solutions to problems they do not fully understand. The damage they have done to the Central Valley, the former breadbasket of America, may be permanent, and all Americans have been negatively impacted by higher food prices as a result of government policies based on false conclusions drawn by extreme environmentalists. As these same environmentalists declare that global warming is caused by man and is an immediate threat to all of us, we should remember how flawed their science was in regard to the Delta Smelt. It’s time someone stood up for people and their right to exist.

This Really Does Not Seem To Be An Innocent Mistake

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that the head of the Clinton Foundation has stated that the Foundation made mistakes in the way donations to the Foundation were reported.

The article reports:

Pally (acting Foundation CEO Maura Pally) wrote that the foundation didn’t list individual donors to its Canadian arm because national law requires charities to gain permission from individuals before disclosing them.

She also acknowledged mistakenly combining government grants with other donations in tax filings, although she said the grants were still publicly available on the foundation’s financial statements posted online.

The donations to the Foundation are in the news right now, but the more interesting part of the Clintons financial story is the exorbitant speaking fees President Clinton began to collect from foreign countries after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Again, it is questionable as to what laws (if any) have been broken, but there is certainly the appearance of dishonesty. That appearance is aggravated by the disappearing emails, which would have either provided proof of total innocence or guilt.

The Clintons have amassed a tremendous amount of wealth while serving in public office. Unfortunately, that is not unusual at the present time. The question is whether they did it by cutting the usual corners or they did it by inventing a few new corners to cut. I do know that if you or I acted in the way that they are acting, we would find ourselves in jail for a very long time.

The Middle East Gets More Complicated

Yesterday the Center for Security Policy posted an article about the recent alliance between Iran and Hamas. This is an interesting alliance as Iran represents the Shiite branch of Islam and Hamas represents the Sunni branch of Islam. So why are they working together–their common purpose is the destruction of Israel.

The article reports:

Earlier on Free Fire we spoke about continuing Iranian support for Hezbollah as well as Hamas. Reports state that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have resumed transferring tens of millions of dollars to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. The funds were transferred under direct orders of Qasem Soleimani, the head commander of the elite Quds Force, who also created an annual budget devoted to funding Hamas.

Allegedly the funds are primarily to fund the rebuilding of Hamas’ tunnel network that was severely damaged in the Israeli counterstrike to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli cities, as well as purchase more missiles for future attacks. Despite the sectarian differences between Iran and Hamas, both organizations are dedicated to the destruction of the Israeli state.

…In response to Iran’s closer ties with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has urged Saudi Arabia to take a more active and stronger stance against Hamas, even going so far as to request the Saudis launch an attack on the Gaza Strip – despite Hamas condemning Israel for committing war crimes when Israel did the same last year. With Hamas terminating the unity government with the PA back in November, relations between the two organizations are at an all time low. Perhaps Iran and Saudi Arabia will expand their proxy war from Yemen to Israel next.

This is an example of what happens in the world when America has a weak President–Iran is running wild and Israel is at risk.

Distracting From The Real War

The Democrats have consistently blamed the Republicans for a ‘war on women.’ However, they have been waging a war on religion. I am not talking about a war on Islam–I am talking about a war waged on all deeply held religious beliefs, whether they be Islamic, Christian, or other.

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an excerpt from a Hillary Clinton speech at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit :

“Laws [about reproductive health care and safe childbirth] have to be backed up with resources and political will,” Clinton said. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

This can be loosely translated as ‘the church needs to get over its problem with killing babies.’ Obviously, Mrs. Clinton also has a problem with those who hold a Biblical belief about homosexuality.

The success of American politicians who hold ideas that are contrary to Biblical Christianity shows that it is time for the people in the Bible-believing churches to get involved in politics. If Christians do not get out of their pews and get involved, they will soon find themselves not allowed to speak out in their own churches. The Internal Revenue Service is already moving in that direction (see rightwinggranny).

North Carolina And The Certificate Of Need

I recently was part of a group that traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to hear a legislative committee meeting about the Certificate of Need that is required to open a medical facility in North Carolina.

The following write-up of the hearing can be found at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) Website:

The Certificate of Need (CON) hearing was on HB200, a bill sponsored by Representative Marilyn Avila that would remove several types of operating rooms (including those for ophthalmology procedures and colonoscopy) from the list of medical facilities which are required to apply for (a lengthy, expensive, difficult process) and get a CON before they can be set up.

It is our Legislative Action Committee’s position that hospitals have managed to have a monopoly on CON’s for years, have used them to shut individual physicians out of competition, and have used them to drive the cost of procedures up (people who pay for their own health care, and people who are experiencing higher and higher co-pays see this very clearly). This has resulted in higher salaries for some members of hospital staffs and very high retained earnings for some hospitals including the one here in New Bern.

The hearing was fast paced, enormously interesting, and did nothing to dispel our view.

Representative Avila introduced the bill, said a few words about it, and then explained that the group would hear from one person who was in favor of passage of the bill and a second person who was against it.

Connie Wilson, a lobbyist for a group of physicians, spoke first. She was followed by a lobbyist for a group of hospitals. They each spoke for about ten minutes.

Connie speaks fluidly. She’s very clear, concise, and straightforward. She builds her case with facts. She uses charm and humor. (Can you tell I was REALLY impressed?) She made the bill seem like the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

The fellow who spoke for hospitals used platitudes, veiled warnings about what “might” happen if some CON requirements were lifted, and tried to create fear. He did a respectable job for someone who had to defend an indefensible position, but I found myself constantly annoyed by things he said.

Then the questions began.

We’d been given to understand that 5 Representatives were of particular concern to folks who want the bill to pass, and every one of them was at the hearing, and each of them asked one or more questions that seemed to be from a negative perspective.

I’m going to tell you who each of the 5 is, what district he serves, what his contact information is, and then ask you a favor. Here they are…

Representative John Szoka is a Republican serving NC House District 45. His home is in Fayetteville. His office is in Room 2223 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-9892. His email is

Representative Josh Dobson is a Republican serving NC House District 85. His home is in Nebo. His office is in Room 1006 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-5862. His email is

Representative Brian Brown is a Republican serving NC House District 9. His home is in Greenville. His office is in Room 604 of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-733-5757. His email is

Representative Kelly Hastings is a Republican serving NC House District 110. His home is in Cherryville. His office is in Room 1206 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-715-2002. His email is

Representative Nelson Dollar is a Republican serving NC House District 36. His home is in Cary. His office is in Room 307-B of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-715-0795. His email is

If you live in the district of one of these folks, please go to see them, give them a call, or email them (expressed in the order of preference), and ask them to support HB200. Do this as quickly as you can. This bill needs to be reported out of the Health Committee, be heard by 2 other committees, and be voted on on the House floor by “crossover” on April 30 in order to remain viable.

Jay Singleton, DO, FACS, spoke at a recent CCTA meeting in Stanly Hall in New Bern, North Carolina. He is an eye surgeon who is supporting repeal of the Certificate of Need (CON). He sums up the issue as follows, “The CON law is one of the few existing laws that has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Hospitals have used this law for nearly forty years to become too big to fail in our state.  Many members of the general assembly have been duped by the hospital association and its lobbyists into believing healthcare would collapse and the sky would fall without this dubious law.  Do not fall for the chicken little argument.”

As a resident of Massachusetts, I had cataract surgery on each eye. The first surgery was done in the hospital at Boston Eye and Ear. That is an outstanding hospital, although it has limited available parking and is in the middle of city traffic. The second surgery was done at Surgisite in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was easier to get to, parking was available, and the experience was much easier and less stressful (aside from being much cheaper). Based on my personal experience, I would strongly suggest that the North Carolina legislature repeal the CON law and allow the free market to lower the cost of medical care in the State of North Carolina and to give people the option of receiving quality medical care in small local facilities that specialize in specific areas rather than exclusively in large hospitals.


Dashing To Protect Transparency In Government

Generally speaking, Congress is totally out of control. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge, Congress is out of control.

Yesterday mrctv posted an article explaining how some unpopular bills are getting through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The article explains:

Most Congressional bills are passed in a nearly empty chamber, and Massie (Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)) explained to the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Cincinnatimembers of Congress like to use voice votes to pass unpopular bills.

There’s two reasons Congress loves the voice vote: the first is that because there’s no record of who voted, they can’t be held accountable when the bill passes.

The second reason is that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has sole discretion to decide if there is a “quorum” (218 congressmen) present in the room sufficient to take a voice vote. Massie says frequently there’s only ten congressmen present. All Boehner has to do is squint and say that there’s a quorum present and he may hold a voice vote.

As long as no one requests a recorded vote, Boehner is free to do this.

Congressman Massie explains that the distance between his office and the House of Representatives floor is about 500 yards. When Speaker of the House Boehner begins a voice vote, Congressman Massie dashes down the hall and demands a recorded vote. A recorded vote requires an actual quorum. Congressman Massie’s actions have stopped some bills in their tracks. I wish we had more Congressmen willing to stand up for the American people.

The Impact Of No Effective Immigration Policy

I am not opposed to immigration–it is what built America and part of what keeps it great. I am opposed to illegal immigration because I believe that a country should control its borders. Our legal immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed so that more legal immigrants can come to America. We need an efficient immigration system that allows skilled workers and people seeking refuge to come to America. However, we also need to allow the people who come here time to be assimilated. We also need to encourage them to assimilate. We also need to make sure that we protect Americans and their jobs.

The Daily Caller posted an article yesterday about the impact of immigration during the past forty years.

The article reports:

Wages and share of income for the bottom 90 percent of American wage-earners declined over the past 40 years, as the foreign-born population increased dramatically, data requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee shows.

Since 1970, the foreign-born population of the U.S. increased 325 percent, the Congressional Research Service found, while wages for the bottom 90 percent of earners decreased by 8 percent and their share of income by 16 percent. (RELATED: Media Ignores Evidence Americans Want To Reduce Legal Immigration)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker weathered sharp criticism from Democrats and some conservatives this week after saying immigration policy should put American workers first.

We seem to be the only country in the world that has abandoned the responsibility of protecting its borders. If Americans were sneaking into Mexico through the Mexican border the way illegal immigrants are sneaking into America through the Mexican border, they would be arrested and deported (or jailed) promptly. I don’t understand why that doesn’t happen on both sides of the border.

The article at The Daily Caller includes the following graph:

Source: Congressional Research Service Report

It also includes a very disturbing chart:

Source: Center for Immigration Studies

There is nothing wrong with allowing legal immigrants to enter America, but immigration needs to be regulated with the needs of Americans taken into consideration.

An Interesting Statistic

The American Lands Council posted the following on Facebook today:

In his opening statement today, Federal Lands Subcommittee Chair Tom McClintock advocated for better management of our national forests. He pointed out the fact that the 80% reduction in timber harvested from our national forests directly coincides with a dramatic increase in acreage destroyed by catastrophic wildfire. McClintock stated, “All excess timber comes out of the forest one way or another: it is either carried out or burned out. But it comes out.”

This is the link to their home page. This is their organizational statement:

American Lands Council is a non-profit organization of individuals, counties, business, and organizations that was formed in 2012. The Mission of the American Lands Council is to secure local control of western public lands by transferring federal public lands. ALC is leading the charge by giving leaders the knowledge and courage to battle for the only solution big enough to ensure better access, better health, AND better productivity through the Transfer of Public Lands (TPL) to local stewardship. 

The federal government is not managing public land in a way that serves the public. Lumber is a renewable resource.

Here’s One Place We Can Cut Government Spending

The Washington Examiner posted a story today about Medicaid fraud. Medicaid is the federal program that provides medical care to people who can’t afford it.

The article reports:

Healthcare providers banned from Medicaid may have been reimbursed $213 million in federal money, thanks to a state agency oversight, a government watchdog reported.

Valid identification numbers — identifiers that ensure providers are eligible for Medicaid reimbursements — were missing from 800,000 Colorado claims in 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general reported Wednesday.

The state reimbursed the providers $424.4 million for the claims, of which, $213 million was federal money.

Regardless of how you feel about government-provided healthcare and whether or not it is constitutional, a $213 million dollar savings in federal spending would be nice. If one state has that much Medicaid fraud, how much do the other states have?

The article goes on to explain that the computer system in Colorado was not able to alert officials to missing or incorrect identification numbers and that the problem would not be corrected until 2016. However, the agency is now denying claims with invalid or missing numbers. It sounds like Colorado is working with the same programmers that designed the ObamaCare website.

Sometimes The Source Is More Interesting Than The Story

There are two recent stories in the news about some of the large donors to the Clinton Foundation. The first is a story from last week posted at Hot Air, relating back to a Newsweek article. The second story is from a New York Times article posted today. The Newsweek article deals with the fact that one of the large donors to the Clinton Foundation was trading with Iran despite the sanctions imposed by the United States.

The Newsweek article states:

Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years – in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine.

Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation, whose aims include the creation of “economic opportunity and growth”. He also has links to the Tony Blair Foundation and represented its biggest single donor in 2013.

The fourth richest man in Ukraine, Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.

Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.

Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.

Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.

Follow the link to the Newsweek article to read the whole sordid story.

The New York Times article reports:

The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Again, follow the link to the New York Times to read the entire story.

So what is this about? The mainstream media is actually reporting scandals related to the Clintons. Theories abound. One of the more interesting theories espoused on Rush Limbaugh today is that the media is quietly hinting to Hillary to step aside of they will expose more of her questionable dealings. Another theory (which I believe is more likely) is that the media is trying to get all of this out of the way so that it is old news next year when people begin to pay attention.

Either way, there are some basic facts here. The Clintons have never been known for being squeaky clean in their financial (or political, or personal) dealings. Americans may well be faced with a decision next November as to whether or not they want to endure the drama of another Clinton in the White House. These stories are important, if only to remind us of the angst that comes with electing a Clinton.

Another Reason The Internal Revenue Service Needs To Go Away

I posted an article earlier today about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) monitoring what is said in churches, but another story illustrating the problems with that organization has surfaced in the Washington Examiner today. It seems that money given to the IRS for the purpose of helping taxpayers with income tax questions was diverted to other things.

The article reports:

“Spending decisions entirely under the IRS’s control led to 16 million fewer taxpayers receiving IRS assistance this filing season,” said the report (House Ways and Means Committee report), which was prepared by majority staff of the tax-writing House panel chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

“Other spending choices, including prioritizing employee bonuses and union activity on the taxpayer’s dime, used up resources that otherwise could have been used to assist another 10 million taxpayers,” the report said.

Budget cuts that Congress has imposed on the IRS in recent years resulted in part from “waste and misconduct” at the tax agency, including nearly $50 million spent on employee conferences that critics say were extravagant and unnecessary. Congress has reduced IRS funding by $1.2 billion since 2010.

The article goes on to explain many of the mixed-up priorities of the IRS. It seems to me that if the IRS cannot properly allocate the funding it is given, we should not give it any more money. There are a number of tax proposals out there that would abolish the IRS. I think it is time we looked at them more closely.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

A friend of mine writes a column for the Beaufort Observer. Her most recent column was particularly relevant to today’s news. Here it is:


April 21, 2015

The story goes that after the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Franklin responded: “A Republic – if you can keep it.”

These days no one is openly clamoring for a monarchy, but few talk much about our Republic, other than in the pledge of allegiance to the flag. In fact, most people think we are a democracy, even though our founders went to great lengths to determine that not so. James Madison clearly spoke of the problems of a democracy when he wrote: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”.

The word democracy was seldom used in this country before the presidency of our old friend, Woodrow Wilson. He used the slogan “making the world safe for democracy” as a battle cry to get the US into World War I. It became such a bone of contention that the government itself through various means attempted to clarify the matter. The US Army’s Training Manual of 1928 contained a section explaining in detail the difference between a democracy and a republic in the original, historical sense. However, the cat was out of the bag as schools and the press routinely used the word democracy to identify our form of government, and now it is a generally accepted term.

James Madison explained a republic in Federalist Papers, No. 39: “We may define a republic to be…a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during [the people’s] pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior”. (That good behavior part presents a serious problem.)

The left loves to attack the Constitution by stating that at the time of its ratification our country was small and mainly agrarian, but it is no longer suitable for an industrial huge nation. Madison addressed that point specifically in Federalist Paper, No. 14: “In a democracy the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy, consequently, must be confined to a small spot. A republic may be extended over a large region”. How and where the people live should not affect the type of federal government required – unless the government wishes to control every aspect of the lives of the citizens.

The real reason the left does not like the Constitution is that it does not allow for a Federal government that would contain a Department of Labor, a Department of Agriculture, A Department of Education, a Department of Energy, and hundreds of other agencies not enumerated within the Constitution. The basic truth is this: the Constitution would never have been ratified if there had been even the slightest hint of a central government with one tenth the power which it now embodies. The Federalist of 1787 (those supporting a strong Federal government) would identify with those currently called strict Constitutionalist (known in some circles as far right wing nut jobs and whacky birds) and the Anti-Federalist (those wanting a weaker central power) would probably move to a South American island.

More and more it appears as we have been unable to keep our Republic. The question as to what comes next is still open to debate. Will more Americans accept slavery to the state or will a new spirit demanding liberty arise from the ashes?

Which Party Is The Party Of Old Politicians?

The Republicans have the reputation of being the party of ‘old white guys,’ but in this presidential cycle Democrats are becoming the party of ‘old white candidates.’ Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner last Thursday entitled, “Why is the 2016 Democratic field so old?” That is an interesting question. The presidency of Bill Clinton did not boost the influence of the Democrat party, despite the fact that he was generally a popular President. Despite his personal failings, Bill Clinton is a person most people would enjoy having a beer with. Barack Obama has also not increased the power of the Democrat party. Again, despite the failure of many of his policies, Barack Obama is a person most people would enjoy having a beer with. So why are the potential candidates for President in the Democrat party so old?

The article reports:

“It’s the snuffing out of young talent by the strength and size and sheer velocity of the inevitable nominee,” says a well-connected Democratic strategist. “The Clintons took all the air out of the collective Democratic room. There are a lot of people who would be running who are much younger, but they’ve got their future in front of them, and they don’t want the Clintons to ruin it, in this campaign or after this campaign. So they’re waiting for a moment when there is enough oxygen to run.”

“If Hillary Clinton weren’t running, we’d have a field that looks like the Republican field — young and vibrant and diverse.”

Dynasties are not a good thing in a republic–they tend to discourage young talent from rising through the ranks.

The Inmates Have Obviously Taken Over The Asylum

Yesterday Bizpacreview reported that ROTC members were forced to parade around the Temple University campus in Arizona in red high heels. I am not talking about female ROTC members–I am talking about male ROTC members. The exercise was supposed to raise awareness about assault against women. I suspect that the only awareness they raised was an awareness of how miserable your feet feel after doing a lot of walking in high heels.

This is one of the photos:

rotc article

The article reported:

For every social media proponent of the event, there were many more who voiced their opposition.

“Who’s the rocket scientist that thought this up and how much did it cost the taxpayers and the soldiers?” said one Facebook user.

“Extremely offensive,” read another.

“I don’t get the point here,” wrote a frustrated Facebook user, and added possibly the most relevant question of all, “How does forcing a person in uniform to wear high heels relate to sexual assault against women?????”

The sound you hear is that of the Founding Fathers turning over in their graves.

The Internal Revenue Service Continues Its Attack On The First Amendment

On Monday, National Review reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has decided that it has the right to monitor what is said in the pulpits of America‘s churches.

The article reports:

It was bad enough, as I wrote here last August, that the Internal Revenue Service appeared to reach an agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. What’s worse is that the IRS, directly counter to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements, steadfastly has refused to make public key documents pertaining to that decision.
So the IRS, acting with the whole power of government behind it, seems to be saying it can monitor and presumably punish churches for the content of their sermons, but the churches can’t know exactly if, how, and why they are being monitored.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on April 9 requesting the release of the IRS documents.
The article concludes:
Completely apart from the administrative law-breaking, it is that First Amendment right that remains the nub of the underlying case. The public has been bombarded in recent weeks with stories of battles about the limits of private expressions of faith in the business world. What the IRS apparently is doing, at the atheist group’s request, attacks faith at an even more fundamental level than that: inside the churches’ own doors, at their very pulpits.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1808, “I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, disciplines, or exercises.”
Surely, if a government agency is monitoring religious institutions in a way that could lead to such intermeddling, the public deserves an explanation of how, why, when, and where such monitoring is taking place. But this is Obama’s IRS. It seems to think it answers to nobody. The courts must disabuse it of that virtually criminal notion, with every power at the courts’ disposal.

If the churches and the organizations affiliated with them do not step up to defend our religious freedom, no one will. This should be a wake-up call to every church to get involved in the political process–not shy away from it. My message to pastors is, “Don’t preach party politics–preach the principals that built this country.

Something Is Wrong With This Picture

PJ Media today posted an article by Roger Simon about an open letter to President Obama written by the nephew of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Please follow the link above to read the entire letter, but here are some excerpts:

Dear Mr. President

I am presenting this open letter as one of the serious opponents of the Islamic republic of Iran on behalf of the like-minded opposition groups and myself. Because of my knowledge of this regime, especially of Ali Khamenei who is my uncle (my mother’s brother), I see it as my duty to inform you about this regime and the issue of nuclear negotiations with the Islamic regime of Iran.

Let me at first inform you that the regime that falsely calls itself a republic came to power in 1979 by deceiving Iranian people and the world through provoking Iranian people against the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and gaining the support of the world community.

Obviously Dr.Mahmoud Moradkhani (the author of this letter is not a supporter of the current Iranian regime).

He also states:

We can find a historical example of this kind of deception prior to the Second World War. Hitler manipulated and deceived German people and European countries and the hesitation in addressing the problem with Hitler led to a great disaster.

Due to the changes in time, the domain of the disaster might become limited now but breach of human rights is the same, regardless of the number of people who become victimized in the process.

Ali Khamenei and his collaborators know very well that they will never become a nuclear power. They certainly do not have the national interest of Iranian in their mind; they just use the nuclear issue to bully the countries in the region and export their revolution and middle-aged culture to other countries. Obviously, you and European countries do not give the Islamic regime any concession unless you are certain that they comply with the agreement. The Islamic regime of Iran will certainly prolong the verification period the same way that they have delayed and prolonged the nuclear talks. It is in this period that the wounded regime will retaliate with its destructive policies.

The countless breaches of human rights violations, spreading of Islamic fundamentalism, intervention and creating crisis in the Middle East are all unacceptable and contrary to democratic and humane beliefs of yours and ours.

I would love to know why he believes that Iran will never become a nuclear power. I expect that Israel will not allow that to happen, but I am not sure that is what he means.

What we currently have in the Middle East is an all-out war between the Sunnis (led by Saudi Arabia) and the Shiites (led by Iran). The nuclear deal reached with Iran by the Obama Administration in its current form would simply fund the Shiite effort in that war. That is one of many reasons why this treaty must be kept from taking effect.