Why Government Regulations Matter

Today’s Wall Street Journal featured a story by Rhea Lana Riner. Mrs. Riner founded Rhea Lana’s in 1997. It is a consignment company for secondhand children’s clothes. The company began in her living room and soon expanded. In 2008, the company converted to a franchise model and now has 80 locations across 24 states.

The article at The Wall Street Journal explains what has happened to the business in the past two years:

Rhea Lana’s operations are similar to more than a thousand other consignment event businesses in the country. Our locations host two sales a year, each running two to eight days. Before a sale, consignors list their clothes and toys on our website, along with their asking prices. On the day of the event, they bring the items to the location and set them up for display. Consignors keep 70% of the proceeds.

They can also volunteer before and during the event—doing everything from setting up display racks, to checking out customers, to helping buyers carry heavy purchases to their cars. As a perk, volunteers are allowed to shop before the general public, and they are sometimes given preferential treatment on display locations for their own items.

But such mutually beneficial exchange is apparently a foreign concept to the federal government. In January 2013 the Labor Department audited our employment practices. Four months later the bureaucracy concluded that our volunteers are actually “employees.” As such, we were told that we were in violation of Sections 6 and 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding minimum wages and overtime pay. I was told this during a face-to-face meeting, without any accompanying written complaint or advance notice of allegations.

This is a business that helps mothers buy beautiful clothes for their children at reasonable prices. The business model includes volunteers. These volunteers are in no way coerced into volunteering–they are people who want to help who may not be able to commit to the regular hours of a job.

The article further explains:

The case raises questions about what it means to volunteer in the 21st-century economy. Some—including, apparently, the Labor Department—believe it is illegal for a private business to receive an ounce of help without providing financial compensation. But as our business model shows, there are situations in which volunteering is mutually beneficial, even without money changing hands. Besides, if someone wants to spend a weekend helping families find affordable clothes and toys, why on earth would the federal government stop them?

If a friend of mine opens a store and I volunteer to paint the walls for him, am I breaking a law? This is clearly an example of government overreach. Hopefully the courts will eventually decide this in the right way, but it is a shame that the government has chosen to harass  Mrs. Riner for her efforts to help make children’s clothes more affordable.

Last Night You Were Robbed

This video was posted on YouTube last night.

Protecting Social Security from the Thieves in the Night This is how it happens. Last night while you were sleeping the Senate voted to steal $150 billion dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund. I joined 34 of my colleagues in a vote to prevent this raid. I would like to thank Senator Rand Paul for leading the fight to protect to Social Security from the thieves in Washington, who seem to think that if they steal from the American people at night while they are sleeping that they will get away with it. I was proud to vote with Senator Paul on his point of order that would have protected Social Security, and I ask you to help me shine a light on what Washington has tried to hide from you in the darkness of night. If everyone who sees this message shares it, it will reach millions of Americans. As someone who has been fighting for years to reform our broken government in Washington, I know it is exhausting, I sympathize with your frustration, and I understand your impatience. But don’t give up. Washington wants you to give up. Just remember, a vote to raid social security in the middle of the night in a desperate attempt to perpetuate an unsustainable spending addiction isn’t a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness.

Posted by United States Senator Mike Lee on Friday, October 30, 2015


Gruesome, But Necessary, Knowledge

Please do not read this too carefully if you have a weak stomach. I am posting this because I think it needs to be posted. I am simply posting the link. The title of the article is “Why Planned Parenthood Prefers Babies Feet First.” At some point America is going to have to realize that the way we treat unborn babies is no less savage than what ISIS is doing in the Middle East.

The Internal Struggles In Iran Have Impacted Another American

Fox News is reporting today that Siamak Namazi, 40-year old Iranian-American has been arrested by Iranian security forces as he was in Iran visiting his family. So why is Iran arresting Americans when they are still in the process of putting together a nuclear agreement with the western nations?

The article reports:

Namazi’s arrest suggests that hard-liners in Iran could be trying to create tension with the United States in the wake of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the Associated Press reported Friday. That agreement reached earlier this year promises Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Iranian hard-liners are opposed to moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s strategy of attempting to improve ties with the West. Internal domestic struggles over the direction of Iran appear to be intensifying ahead of February’s parliamentary elections.

The Washington-based National Iranian American Council said it was troubled by reports of Namazi’s arrest and denied suggestions that his family had a leadership role in the organization, through it acknowledged “Namazi has known members of NIAC’s staff.”

“NIAC is very concerned by the continued detention of multiple Iranian Americans by the Iranian government, and is deeply troubled by the reports that Mr. Namazi may also have been detained,” it said.

The arrest of an unnamed Iranian American businessman was first reported by IranWire, an online publication, on Oct. 15.

I really don’t understand any of President Obama’s foreign policy agenda. We need a President who will stand up and increase sanctions until Americans are released. We also need a President who will not negotiate until American prisoners held in Iran are released. It is becoming obvious that having a weak President endangers Americans all over the world.


Closing Guantanamo–One Prisoner At A Time

The Washington Examiner reported today that Shaker Aamer was released Friday from Guantanamo Bay Prison and returned to London. That leaves the number of prisoners remaining at Guantanamo at 112.

The article reports:

Though his supporters claim he was cleared for release by the Bush administration eight years ago, a case file prepared in November 2007 classified him as a high risk, noting that he was captured in Jalalabad after fighting with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the group’s last Afghan stronghold of Tora Bora.

Detainee is a member of al Qaeda tied to the European support network. Detainee is a close associate of Osama bin Laden and has connections to several other senior extremist members. Detainee has traveled internationally on false documents and is associated with al Qaeda terrorist cells in the US. Detainee is a reported recruiter, financier and facilitator with a history of participating in jihadist combat,” the file said.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported today:

It was understood he (Shaker Aamer) would go through standard immigration checks but officials declined to say whether any further arrangements would be put in place.

Campaigners spoke of their concerns that the father of four will be tagged or monitored by security services upon his return.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Press Association: “The state cannot arbitrarily place restrictions upon him.

“It would be quite wrong to demonise him because there is no evidence to justify demonising him in 2015.

“I am sure there will be state authorities here who would like to interview him in the hope that he will provide them with some assistance in securing the safety of the public in this country.

Time will reveal the wisdom or folly of this policy. Frankly, I am not optimistic.

Why The Government Needs To Get Out Of Healthcare

CBS Local in New York is reporting today that the New York State Health Exchange gave out  $325,000 in overpayments to the deceased throughout the 2013 fiscal year.

The article reports:

Auditors said flaws in the eligibility process also resulted in New York enrolling 21 dead people for Medicaid, while continuing government-funded health coverage for 333 others who died.

The state comptroller’s office says its auditors found overpayments of $3.4 million in total for the year starting Oct. 1, 2013.

The Health Department says it’s been awaiting a new federal system to verify deaths. It confirmed 321 people cited in the audit were dead, four are still alive and it’s checking the other 29.

This might be one way to cut the cost of Medicaid–make sure the people claiming to be covered under it are alive.

The article further reports:

The NY State Health Exchange launched in Oct. 2013, but many faced confusion and other issues like lost insurance coverage and high premiums though the initial enrollment process.

The exchange was established under the Affordable Care Act in an effort to extend coverage to uninsured New Yorkers.

Medicaid now covers about 6 million New Yorkers and costs $60 million annually.

The department notes state enforcement efforts in 2011-2012 recovered $1.73 billion.

It’s time to get the government out of healthcare!

Some Thoughts On The Republican Debate

Late last night The Weekly Standard posted an article about the Republican Debate last night. The debate on CNBC was a tutorial on media bias. The questions were ridiculous, and the candidates called out the moderators on the silliness.

The article reports:

The three winners of the night were pretty obvious: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.

Rubio ended Jeb Bush’s campaign with the kind of body shot that buckles your knees. That’s on Bush, who never should have come after Rubio in that spot for a host of strategic and tactical reasons. But what should scare Hillary Clinton is how effortless Rubio is even with throwaway lines, like “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.” Most people have no idea how fearsome raw political talent can be. Clinton does know because she’s seen it up close. She sleeps next to it for a contractually-obligated 18 nights per year.

Cruz was tough and canny—no surprise there. He went the full-Gingrich in his assault on CNBC’s ridiculous moderators. He did a better job explaining Social Security reform than Chris Christie, even (which is no mean feat). And managed to look downright personable compared with John Harwood, whose incompetence was matched only by his unpleasantness. If you’re a conservative voter looking for someone who is going to fight for your values, Cruz must have looked awfully attractive.

Then there was Trump. Over the last few weeks, Trump has gotten better on the stump. Well, don’t look now, but he’s getting better at debates, too. Trump was reasonably disciplined. He kept his agro to a medium-high level. And his situational awareness is getting keener, too. Note how he backed John Kasich into such a bad corner on Lehman Brothers that he protested, “I was a banker, and I was proud of it!” When that’s your answer, you’ve lost the exchange. Even at a Republican debate.

And Trump had a hammer close: “Our country doesn’t win anymore. We used to win. We don’t anymore.” I remain convinced that this line (along with his hardliner on immigration) is the core of Trump’s appeal. But he didn’t just restate this theme in his closing argument. He used it to: (1) beat up CNBC; and (2) argue that his man-handling of these media twits is an example of what he’ll do as president. It was brilliant political theater.

I am not a Trump supporter, but I am supporter of the way he handles the press–he doesn’t back down. He’s not afraid of calling them out when they lie.

The article at The Weekly Standard regards the six candidates with an actual shot at winning the nomination as Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and possibly Fiorina and Christie. I think they are on to something. I will say that whoever wins the nomination will have some really smart potential cabinet members to choose from.

Attempting To Fight Corruption

Hot Air posted an article yesterday about the House of Representatives’ move to impeach John Koskinen for his blocking the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) practices regarding conservative groups.

An article at Townhall reports the charges:

Specifically, Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust in the following ways:

-Failed to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence. Commissioner Koskinen failed to locate and preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena and an internal preservation order. The IRS erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails – key pieces of evidence that were destroyed on Koskinen’s watch.
-Failed to testify truthfully and provided false and misleading information. Commissioner Koskinen testified the IRS turned over all emails relevant to the congressional investigation, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. When the agency determined Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing, Commissioner Koskinen testified the emails were unrecoverable. These statements were false.
-Failed to notify Congress that key evidence was missing. The IRS knew Lois Lerner’s emails were missing in February 2014. In fact, they were not missing; the IRS destroyed the emails on March 4, 2014. The IRS did not notify Congress the emails were missing until June 2014 – four months later, and well after the White House and the Treasury Department were notified.

The article at Hot Air also reminds us that a federal judge has already threatened to hold Koskinen accountable for his obstruction of the investigation into the IRS.

The article at Hot Air reports:

According to the rules of play, the House can bring the charges with a simple majority vote. Easy enough this year. But the trial is held in the Senate and requires a two thirds vote to convict. (If this is treated as a partisan issue and all the Democrats abscond in their duty it would be impossible.) Also, Joe Biden gets to preside over the trial. Many seem to think that it would be John Roberts, but he would only preside in the case of impeaching the President. That’s a tough hill to climb. In all of US history there have been seven successful impeachments and all of them were judges. The only cabinet official to ever be impeached was William Belknap, Secretary of War under President Grant, but he wasn’t convicted. The only two Presidents to be impeached were not found guilty, as were the various Senators brought to stand before the wheel.

Politically this is a losing battle. Legally it is a necessary battle. What this process will do is eliminate any doubt as to which Senators put party loyalty over honesty. There is no way Koskinen would be acquitted in a fair trial, but Congress (and the Justice Department) are not really focused on doing what is right at this point.

The Problems With The Budget Deal

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about the budget deal recently reached by Congress. He strongly suggests that Republicans do not approve the deal.

The chart below from the Heritage Foundation is included in the article:


As you can see, there are no immediate spending cuts and no significant cuts until 2025. We all know what happens to budget cuts in the distant future–somehow they never materialize. There is also the matter of this Congress trying to bind a future Congress to a budget it had nothing to do with.

In an article posted yesterday, The New York Times described the deal as follows:

The deal is the policy equivalent of keeping the lights on — hardly the stuff of a bold fiscal legacy. But it achieves the main objective of his 2016 budget: to break free of the spending shackles he agreed to when he signed the Budget Control Act of 2011, an outcome, the president allowed Tuesday, that he could be “pretty happy” about.

I don’t want to see the government shut down, but this is not a compromise–iti’s a cave. This budget deal is an example of why John Boehner is being replaced as Speaker of the House.

An article at Daniel Mitchell’s website states:

Moody’s Investors Service announced Monday that, despite dire warnings from the Treasury Department, the government would find a way to pay money owed on its debt, regardless of whether lawmakers agree to raise the $18.1 trillion borrowing cap. …”Even if the debt limit is not raised, …the government will order its payment priorities to allow the Treasury to continue servicing its debt obligations,” says Moody’s Senior Vice President Steven Hess.

Raising the debt limit is not really required despite what the big spenders are telling you.

I think Senator Jeff Sessions said it best:

“Once again, a massive deal, crafted in secret, unveiled at the 11th hour, is being rushed through Congress under threat of panic.  Once again, we have waited until an artificial deadline to force through that which our voters oppose.

At its core, this deal with President Obama does two things: First, it lifts federal spending caps for the next two years – including a $40 billion increase in spending on the federal bureaucracy.  Second, it waives the federal debt limit through March of 2017, allowing for approximately $1.5 trillion to be added to the debt – ensuring no further conversation about our debt course or any corresponding action to alter it.

It appears this deal is built on the same principles as the Ryan-Murray budget deal from 2013.  It exchanges instant increases in federal spending for distant savings, as much two decades down the road, that are likely to never materialize.  It funds increased spending through increased revenues – violating a core budget principle by collecting more money to expand an already too-large federal bureaucracy.  And it trades the termination of today’s spending limits for the promise of new spending limits ten years from now.

The spending caps in law today were pledged as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act agreement to lift the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion.  It represented a bipartisan commitment to cap spending at a fixed amount.  This deal shatters that commitment by spending $80 billion more than we promised over the next 2 years.

The deal also uses a common gimmick where alleged savings in an entitlement program are used to boost unrelated spending in the federal bureaucracy.  Any savings found to entitlement programs faced with insolvency must be used to shore up those programs – not to surge spending somewhere else.  Yet this deal claims illusory savings from Disability Insurance and increased pension insurance fees in order to boost bureaucratic budgets.  Perhaps even worse, the deal attempts to stave off the shortfall in fraud-ridden Social Security Disability by plundering from the Social Security Trust Fund for retirees.  One hundred and fifty billion dollars in funds will be siphoned from Americans’ payroll retirement contributions and redirected to the mismanaged disability program….

Republicans in Congress need to vote against this budget deal.


Do As I Say–Not As I Do

Yesterday Last Resistance posted an article about a California group that is working to establish a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

The article reports:

An advocacy group out of Modesto, Calif. pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage posted a job ad Thursday offering to pay $12 an hour. Below what it is demanding others pay their workers.

The Craigslist post was for a job opening at the local Fight for $15 campaign. On the national level, the organization has spearheaded the push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The post was signed by Steven Applebaum who lists his affiliation with the Modesto Fight for $15 campaign.

“Do you make minimum wage?” the posting asked. “Can you afford your bills and expenses? Do you hope and pray that you won’t ever face a medical or car bill because you don’t have the savings to cover it?”

Evidently this is not an isolated incident. The article further reports:

Fight for $15 is not the first group caught offering less than what it claim people need. Cody McLaughlin replied in June to a job posting on Facebook for Working America. The group is an affiliated with the AFL-CIO. It was hiring field recruiters as part of its campaign to get a $15 minimum wage. When he asked if it paid $15 the group said the group could offer him  $12.25 per hour.

Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders has been one of the more vocal lawmakers in support of the living wage. He has even introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This despite the fact he only pays his own interns $12 per hour.

How about practicing what you preach?

Ending Poverty In America

The War on Poverty has been a massive failure. Mostly because it never got near the root of the problem. Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article that might help us successfully fight poverty and also grow the economy.

The article stated:

States with the highest share of married-parent families are better off than states with the lowest share of such families. They have $1,451 more in per capita GDP, 10.5 percent more upward mobility for low-income children, a 13.2 percent decrease in child poverty, and $3,654 more in median family income. (The researchers controlled for factors such as education, a state’s racial composition, tax policies, and education spending.)

This is the graph included in the article:


The numbers are convincing. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan stated his concerns about the disintegration of the black family in 1965. Since then, welfare programs have a negative impact on families of all races by limiting benefits to two-parent families. The way out of poverty is not giving away more money–it is reasserting the value of the family and creating a culture that encourages intact families.  Television and movies could play a positive role in that if they chose. Until Americans begin to support families and encourage marriage and monogamy, we can expect to spend more money on social programs and get less results.

Our First Amendment Rights Are In Danger

Yesterday PJ Media reported that the Federal Election Commission is considering a rule which would require non-profit organizations to provide a list of donors. This would mean that pro-life groups, Tea Parties, etc. would have to disclose donors. If this seems innocent to you, I would like to remind you of an incident that happened in California last year.

In April of last year I reported:

The Foundry is reporting today that Mozilla Corp. co-founder Brendan Eich has resigned as CEO after a week of public criticism for his support of Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 was the ballot initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Brendan Eich had been at Mozilla for 15 years.

I have a few problems with the forced resignation of Mr. Eich. How does anyone know he contributed to a campaign supporting Proposition 8? Is that public information? Since when did supporting traditional marriage cost you your job? Aren’t Americans allowed to contribute to things they believe in?

The article at PJ Media points out:

Harassment of financial donors to conservative causes has become one of the standard tactics of the militant left. Speech regulations issued by the Federal Election Commission are therefore a necessary component of snuffing out financial support for conservative causes through harassment campaigns.

A half-century ago, liberal groups understood and respected this. The landmark case of NAACP vs. Alabama saw the Supreme Court protect the NAACP from having to disclose supporter information because of the harassment campaigns that would follow.

Now, with perfect hypocrisy, the PAC that issued the petition which triggered the FEC to consider rulemaking which would force disclosure of information does not disclose the full name of its leader. On the page detailing who runs Make Your Laws PAC, Inc., the founder, treasurer, and director is listed merely as “Sai”:


The Public Interest Legal Foundation (of which I am counsel) has already submitted comments to the FEC opposing new federal powers over political freedom. Those comments can be found here. If you also oppose more power for Washington bureaucrats to pry private information from groups who speak out, you can add your own comments at this link.

If you value your First Amendment rights, please leave a comment at the link in the previous paragraph. This is truly a threat to free speech.

There Are A Number Of Possibilities Here

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article about American concerns that Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications

The article reports:

In private, however, commanders and intelligence officials are far more direct. They report that from the North Sea to Northeast Asia and even in waters closer to American shores, they are monitoring significantly increased Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce.

Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.

This is part of Vladimir Putin’s muscle flexing. It is the result of Putin’s knowing he will not meet resistance from President Obama. We can expect this sort of cat and mouse game to continue until America gets a stronger President. It is also quite likely that the Russians have tapped into our communications lines, just as we have done to them in the past.

The article further reports:

Attention to underwater cables is not new. In October 1971, the American submarine Halibut entered the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan, found a telecommunications cable used by Soviet nuclear forces, and succeeded in tapping its secrets. The mission, code-named Ivy Bells, was so secret that a vast majority of the submarine’s sailors had no idea what they had accomplished. The success led to a concealed world of cable tapping.

And a decade ago, the United States Navy launched the submarine Jimmy Carter, which intelligence analysts say is able to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on communications flowing through them.

The story of the Halibut is told in a book called, Blind Man’s Bluff, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew. It is an amazing book that details some of the exploits of American submarines during the 1970’s.

The Republican Congress Did Actually Accomplish Something This Year

On Friday, The Daily Signal posted an article about the payments that were supposed to bail out insurance companies for their losses under ObamaCare. When the health insurance companies initially balked at the provisions of ObamaCare, President Obama sweetened the pot by demanding that everyone have insurance, providing subsidies to make insurance affordable and expanding Medicaid.

The article explains:

The law also created two back-end bailout programs designed specifically to benefit insurers selling Obamacare plans in the individual market. Goody No. 1 was a reinsurance program that reimburses Obamacare plans for most of the expenses run up by people with high annual claims. Funded by a tax on everyone with non-Obamacare coverage, the reinsurance program shoveled nearly $8 billion to Obamacare insurers last year.

The second bailout provision was a “risk corridor” program designed to collect payments from insurers who made excess profits—as determined by the federal government—and make payments to insurers with excess losses. If the government didn’t collect enough from profitable insurers to cover the compensatory payments, taxpayers would be stuck with covering the “shortfall.”

The design amounted to a double bailout, with taxpayers on the hook for subsidizing insurance company losses on the back end as well as for the front-end subsidies and mandates that benefited insurers.

Jeff Sessions, R-Ala, led the effort to block the subsidies to insurance companies.

The article further reports:

In January, Sessions’ committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee had identified that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked an appropriation for bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridors. They asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. That September, the GAO issued its legal opinion: the administration would need an appropriation from Congress to make outgoing payments.

Congress decided that the taxpayers should not be responsible for bailing out the insurance companies, and the taxpayers saved $2.5 billion this year.

The Republican Congress can say that it accomplished at least one thing this year.

The Problem With Syrian Refugees

On September 21, 2015, the Israel National News posted a story about an ISIS recruiter posing as a refugee at the Stuttgart Germany refugee center.

The article reports:

At the same time, a German finance ministry spokesman has acknowledged the seizure of “boxes” of fake Syrian passports, destined for sale and distribution to the new refugees from Syria and elsewhere.Bulgarian police confiscated 10,000 fake Syrian passports on their way to Germany.

As I reported on October 7:

Senior FBI officials recently testified that they have no idea who these people are, and they can’t find out what type of backgrounds they have — criminal, terrorist or otherwise — because there are no vetting opportunities in those war-torn countries.

Syria and Iraq, along with Somalia and Sudan, are failed states where police records aren’t even kept. Agents can’t vet somebody if they don’t have documentation and don’t even have the criminal databases to screen applicants.

The article in the Israel National News further reports:

Regarding the Syrian passports, an article in the German Tagespiegelreported that it is not only Syrians who are interested in them: “Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan want to become Syrian in order to secure their recognition as asylum seekers in Western Europe. According to press reports, nine out of ten refugees who came from Macedonia to Serbia claimed they were Syrians.”

The EU frontier police chief, Fabrice Leggeri, recently told Europe 1 TV that the trade in fake Syrian passports originated in Turkey. “There are people who are now in Turkey, buying false Syrian passports because they have obviously realized that it is a windfall, since Syrians get asylum in all Member States in the European Union,” he said.

This tide of refugees needs to be examined very carefully. Refugees are people leaving horrible conditions in their home countries seeking a better life in another country. The unsaid part of this is that they will assimilate into their new countries and become peaceful citizens of their new country. We are already seeing some problems with this concept. On September 19th, I posted an article about Muslims who initiated a petition on Change.org urging the City of Munich to end the Un-Islamic Oktoberfest. That is not assimilation. The proper refugee behavior would be simply not to attend the festival–not immediately to attempt to change the culture of the country they fled to.

Refugees who want to assimilate into western countries should be welcomed. Those refugees who want to create Islamic enclaves in western countries should be sent back to other Arab countries in the Middle East. Otherwise–this is not a refugee crisis–it is an invasion.

Are We Being Played?

It looks as if Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House. That is not horrible news, but for the average conservative, it really isn’t great news. Paul Ryan is very smart, he understands the budget better than almost everyone, and he is well respected. However, he is not a strict conservative. The upside of Paul Ryan as speaker is that he can explain positions and articulate ideas very well. He will be good at contrasting differences between Republican and Democrats on most issues. The downside is that he is not really a strict conservative. So why are we getting Paul Ryan as Speaker?

There is such a thing as the ‘political class.’ There is also such a thing as the ‘donor class,’ the people who supply large sums of money to election campaigns. According to Rush Limbaugh on his show yesterday, Paul Ryan’s position on immigration appeals to both the Republican and Democratic donor class. The Democrats want voters and the Republicans want cheap labor. Therefore, Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House.

The Daily Caller also posted an article about this yesterday.

The Daily Caller concludes:

Politics is messy. And while members of the Freedom Caucus are hard core conservatives, they do not share the same passion that animated the people who were most actively opposed to a Speaker Ryan. Additionally, Ryan has assured them he will not seek immigration reform while President Obama is in office.

Once you get past the “amnesty” issue — which was a deal breaker for some — Ryan is obviously the most conservative candidate who could ever realistically get the job. And a super majority of conservatives in the House, it seems, agree.

As usual, there is no perfect solution. The question in my mind is whether or not the people have a say in this process. Have we reached the point where the political class and the donor class unite to overrule the people’s class? We will see in the future whether or not this was an acceptable solution.

Reinventing The Wheel

On Monday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC).

The Academic Standards Review Commission was established by General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013 Session Law 2014-78 Senate Bill 812.

SECTION 2.(c) The Commission shall:

(1)    Conduct a comprehensive review of all English Language Arts and Mathematics standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education under G.S. 115C-12(9c) and propose modifications to ensure that those standards meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Increase students’ level of academic achievement.
  2. Meet and reflect North Carolina’s priorities.
  3. Are age-level and developmentally appropriate.
  4. Are understandable to parents and teachers.
  5. Are among the highest standards in the nation.

(2)   As soon as practicable upon convening, and at any time prior to termination, recommend changes and modifications to these academic standards to the State Board of Education.

(3)   Recommend to the State Board of Education assessments aligned to proposed changes and modifications that would also reduce the number of high-stakes assessments administered to public schools.

(4)   Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.

The Commission shall assemble content experts to assist it in evaluating the rigor ofacademic standards. The Commission shall also involve interested stakeholders in this processand otherwise ensure that the process is transparent.


The Commission has worked hard, but unfortunately, the Commission has been trying to re-invent the wheel rather than draw on what has already been successful in North Carolina and other states. A group of educators has put together the North Carolina Education Plan, which is based on standards that were successful in other places. Minnesota (pre-Common Core) math standards have proven to be successful and Massachusetts (pre-Common Core) English standards have proven to be successful. The North Carolina Education Plan builds on these successes. Parents have expressed their dissatisfaction with Common Core–the excessive testing have created unnecessary stress in young children and children who loved going to school now dread going. There is also the issue of data mining, privacy violations and unfunded mandates in terms of electronic equipment in future years.

Common Core is a horrible program backed by some people with very large sums of money. It is time for parents to get together and make their voices heard.

Lady Liberty also attended the ASRC meeting. These are a few of her comments:

An initial draft of the ASRC’s recommendations for both ELA and Math was presented. There were 8 ELA and 11 math draft recommendations.

Of note in the draft ELA recommendations was recognition that the Common Core as it stands is not age/developmentally appropriate, “ELA standards need to be revised or rewritten to be developmentally appropriate for the students“.

Of note in the Math recommendations had several items of note, with quite a few centering on the Common Core’s inability to provide a decent math experience for high schoolers:

“A return to the sequence of studying Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II is strongly recommended.”

“High school math standards in their current form appear to be not only repetitive but also give no clear set of standards or curriculum for each of the three courses.”

Overall, the consensus has been that the integrated math under Common core is not only confusing but insufficient for students wishing to advance to a four year school.

For the K-8, the recommendation is to totally chuck Common Core.

“For K-8 Math, it is recommended that the Minnesota standards be adopted. These standards meet the benchmarks of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel whose findings were released in 2008; Common Core does not meet these benchmarks, nor does any other state’s standards. NMAP was specifically created to study how mathematics instruction in the U.S. could be made world competitive again.”

The ASRC would do well to take a good look at the North Carolina Education Plan. It would save the state a lot of money and the parents in the state a lot of aggravation.


Equal Justice Under The Law?

This isn’t a surprise, but it is extremely disappointing. The Daily Caller is reporting today that the Justice Department will not file criminal charges against Lois Lerner. Ms. Lerner, as the head of the Internal Revenue Service, routinely discriminated against conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.

The article states:

“Substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime,” the letter reads, according to CNN.

The Justice Department opened its investigation of Lerner, then the director of IRS’ exemptions unit, after it was discovered that she had flagged a disproportionate number of conservative groups’ tax-exempt status applications. Lerner was placed on a leave of absence from the IRS in May 2013 and resigned in September of that year.

Just for the record, it wasn’t a belief that conservatives were targeted.

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Report:

The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Ineffective management: 1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued. Although the processing of some applications with potential significant political campaign intervention was started soon after receipt, no work was completed on the majority of these applications for 13 months…. For the 296 total political campaign intervention applications [reviewed in the audit] as of December 17, 2012, 108 had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, none had been denied, and 160 were open from 206 to 1,138 calendar days (some for more than three years and crossing two election cycles)…. Many organizations received requests for additional information from the IRS that included unnecessary, burdensome questions (e.g., lists of past and future donors).

We have reached a very dangerous place in America–where people who disagree with the Democrats in power can be targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. When Richard Nixon, a Republican, attempted that, he was impeached, as he should have been. We have come a long way. Understand that if Hillary Clinton is elected, there will be a new enemies list (the Clintons had one the last time they were in office), and the people on that list can expect to be harassed by the government. Please consider that before you vote.

If Your Premise Is Secure, You Don’t Mind Debate

People who are sure of what they believe usually handle opposing opinions well. People who are unsure of their facts tend to want to silence opposition. That is something to remember as you listen to some of the people claiming that climate change is going to kill us all in two years (or five years, or ten years, or whatever the latest claim is). As you listen to the hysteria, remember that in 1985, the cover of TIME magazine warned us about the coming Ice Age.

Well, one fear mongering climate change proponent has a new idea–bar global warming skeptics from high public office. So much for free speech and the right of the people to choose their candidates.

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article yesterday about John Kerry’s speech at the  Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum.

The article quotes John Kerry’s speech:

“But when I hear a United States senator say, ‘I’m not a scientist so I can’t make a judgment,’ or a candidate for president for that matter, I’m absolutely astounded. I mean, it’s incomprehensible that a grownup who has been to high school and college in the United States of America disqualifies themselves because they’re not a scientist when they’ve learned that the Earth rotates on its axis, but they’re not a scientist; where they’ve learned that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and it does so 24 hours a day; and you can run the list of things that we know science tells us happens, and we accept it every single day.

“And to suggest that when more than 6,000-plus peer-reviewed studies of the world’s best scientists all lay out that this is happening and mankind is contributing to it, it seems to me that they disqualify themselves fundamentally from high public office with those kinds of statements.”

The authors of the article’s response:

As is often said at children’s parks all over the country, two can play this game. So we propose here that no climate change alarmist or uncritical believer in the man-made global warming story should hold high, medium or even low public office. It makes sense. Almost all of those who meet these descriptions are either: 1) political opportunists who are simply saying the right things to a voting bloc or some other group whose support they’re courting, or 2) the sort of folks who haven’t given the issue enough thought, in most cases because they don’t want to.

Spare us the nonsense about “6,000-plus peer reviewed studies” and the new perennial favorite “97% of scientists say man is warming the planet.” The first is either a poorly done study or con job, and the second is … either a poorly done study or con job .

Actually, we don’t mind if those who believe in man-made global warming hold office, as long as they came by their views honestly. What we do mind is believers using office to hector us all incessantly about our prosperous lifestyles, and enact policies that won’t change Earth’s temperature one bit but sure will overwhelm developed economies. The rest of us shouldn’t have to pay the price of their opinions.

For the best scientific information on the truth in climate change, I recommend wattsupwiththat.com.

I Think This Is The First Time I Have Even Seen A CNN Commentator Stunned

The video below was posted on YouTube yesterday. The thing that caught my attention was the reaction of the newscaster to Mrs. Smith’s comment about not being an immediate family member. Whether or not she is an immediate family member could actually be discussed, but courtesy says that because she has acted like an immediate family member (and is a close family member), she could easily be treated as one. A little compassion on the part of Mrs. Clinton is in order here.

This is the video:

One Way To End Common Core In North Carolina

I have been to most of the Academic Standard Review Commission (ASRC) meetings in the past year. I have listened as the committee went over the same territory multiple times and unsuccessfully attempted to reinvent the wheel. It is a shame that they are wasting so much effort when the wheel has already been invented and is pretty much free for the asking. The North Carolina Education Coalition has created the North Carolina Education Plan  (NCEP) based on successful standards used in other states. The standards in the North Carolina Education Plan have been endorsed by Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, two people who worked on the Common Core standards but were so unhappy with the final product that they refused to endorse it. While the ASRC is reinventing the wheel in Raleigh, other states are examining the NCEP with a view toward implementing the plan. The NCEP is based on standards with proven results. We won’t truly know the results of Common Core for another ten years; and frankly, the initial test results are not encouraging.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the head of the Department of Public Instruction is an elected position. That position is currently held by Dr. June Atkinson, a very nice southern lady who strongly supports Common Core. It is assumed that Dr. Atkinson will run for another four-year term. However, there is another, very interesting candidate in the race.

Yesterday The Daily Haymaker reported:

To extend her stay in Raleigh, ol’ June (Atkinson) will have to slip past Dr. Rosemary Stein of Burlington.   Stein, a Republican, has been a vocal opponent of Common Core AND ObamaCare.     (She starred in a national advertisement critical of ObamaCare.)   Her issue positions include support for phonics education, for increased parental involvement, and for classical education.

Her position  on English as a Second Language courses (ESL) will surely play into the current debate about immigration and amnesty.  She traveled as a child to Canada to enroll in a French-only school.  She mastered the language via immersion, and believes this is a much better route than the current policy of yanking kids out of regular classrooms for special ESL sessions.

Dr. Stein comes from a long line of teachers and school administrators, and is a trustee at Alamance Community College.  She and her husband run a pediatric practice in Burlington.

Dr. Stein is what we need to ensure that the children of North Carolina get a good education. As a pediatrician, she is involved with children and parents on a regular basis. This gives her a clear understanding of the issues in our schools. It also allows her to understand some of the problems in Common Core related to age-appropriateness of the material.

If you live in North Carolina and are concerned about your children’s education, Dr. Stein is a good choice to bring a new vision into the Department of Public Instruction.


There Really Is No Free Lunch

There really is no free lunch (unless your parents or grandparents provide you with one!). Unfortunately, a substantial percentage of American voters have not figured that out yet.

The following video is posted on YouTube. It is from “This Week with George Stephanopoulos“:

George Stephanopoulos rightly observed that all of the free things Bernie Sanders was promising would cost money.

An article at The Libertarian Republic quotes the response:

“I think if you’re looking about guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, which virtually every other major country has… that will require a small increase in the payroll tax,” Sanders said.

“That’s going to hit everybody,” the host remarked.

“That would– yeah, that would,” Bernie acknowledges.

Of course, when you’re calling for $18 trillion in new spending (around $2 trillion more than the nation’s entire GDP), you are going to get inventive with how to pay for it. Bernie will raise taxes on everyone and that’s just the kicker. If Sanders were to become president, he would severely devalue our dollar to enable spending, the results of which would be inflation and a higher cost of living for everybody.

Bernie! You’re supposed to promise them free things– now you’ve spilled the beans that people will have to pay for these things. Think of how disillusioned you supporters will be when they find out you want to tax them more

The average low-information voter would probably find a way to blame the Republicans!

This Might Be The Reason The Investigation Is Taking So Long

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that the State Department gave the House Select Committee on Benghazi 1,300 pages of new emails from Ambassador Chris Stevens. There have been seven Congressional committees that have investigated the attack in Benghazi, and this is the first time the State Department has turned over these emails. I don’t know if this sort of behavior is typical of the State Department, but it is definitely typical of the Obama Administration. We saw the same thing with the investigation into the politicalization of the Internal Revenue Service–stall, stall, and stall some more, and then claim that the investigation is dragging on because it is political or that the investigation is old news.

Unfortunately I believe that Hillary Clinton will walk away from her day in Congress unscathed. I believe that there is a reason she insisted on a public hearing. She is going to say that the investigation is political and cite as her proof the fact that thus far there is no smoking gun. Somehow the fact that the information needed to do the investigation has been withheld from the Committee will be overlooked.

The article concludes:

Gowdy (South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the Select Committee) gave a different characterization of the emails during his interview on Sunday, however.

He said that Stevens’ communiques show that he began requesting additional security in June 2012, when he was appointed ambassador. Instead of receiving help, though, Gowdy said that State Department officials asked Stevens to help craft “public messaging advice” on the precarious situation in the north African country.

Gowdy said that other emails show that one of Clinton’s top aides, Jake Sullivan, asked Stevens to vet an intelligence report written by Clinton’s longtime friend, Sidney Blumenthal.

In a statement to TheDC, Benghazi Committee press secretary Matt Wolking says that the release of additional Stevens emails proves that the committee “is breaking new ground despite the Obama administration’s many delays.”

It is up to the voters to hold their elected officials accountable. The behavior of Hillary Clinton in regard to Benghazi is unacceptable. Remember–the only person to serve jail time for the attack on Benghazi was the person who made a video that had nothing to do with the attack and the Obama Administration lied about the role of the video in the attack.

Teaching Our Children Really Bad Political Practices

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about political correctness run amok. The story was about an election at a San Francisco middle school.

The article reports:

A student government election at a San Francisco middle school had its results ignored after a principal decided the candidates elected were too white.

Elections were held at Everett Middle School Oct. 10, but on Oct. 14 principal Lena Van Haren sent an email to parents saying the results were being ignored, without being made public, because those elected did not reflect how diverse the school is. While Everett is more than 80 percent non-white, Van Haren said the election results “weren’t representative” of that.

“That is concerning to me because as principal I want to make sure the voices are all heard, from all backgrounds,” Van Haren told local KTVU News.

The students voted. No one twisted their arms. There was no illegal registration or restriction of the vote. The students chose who would represent them.

Stop and think for a minute. Teenagers know who has it together and who doesn’t. They probably picked the most popular, the best looking, and someone they thought was the smartest. Isn’t that true equality–you pick the person that meets the standards you set, regardless of race, color, religion, looks, height, sex, etc.?

The article further reports:

“The organizers are saying things like, ‘we want everyone’s voice to be heard,’ but in truth, the voters’ voices are not being heard,” seventh grader Sebastian Kaplan told KRON, another local news station. “The whole school voted for those people, so it is not like people rigged the game, but in a way, now it is kinda being rigged.”

Van Haren went on to say that she is considering a variety of fixes to the problem, including appointing several new positions in order to ensure more minorities are represented without kicking out those who actually won the election.

So the principal is simply diluting the voices of the children who were elected in order to reach her idea of ideal racial balance. What lesson does that teach the children?

The Wrong Solution To The Problem

On July 1, 2015, Kathryn Steinle was murdered in San Francisco. Her murderer was  Francisco Sanchez, an illegal alien from Mexico, who claimed to have found the gun. Later it was determined that gun had been stolen from a federal agent’s car. Mr. Sanchez had been previously deported from the United States five times and had several felony convictions. In March 2015, federal authorities had turned Mr. Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities due to an outstanding drug warrant.

The Wikipedia page describing the incident explains:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had issued a detainer for Sanchez requesting that he be kept in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up. As a sanctuary city, however, which limits cooperation with ICE only when active charges against the immigrant are identified, San Francisco did not honor the detainer and released him since they found no active warrant for his arrest.[19] San Francisco officials transported Sanchez to San Francisco County Jail on March 26, 2015 to face a 20-year-old felony charge of selling and possessing marijuana after Sanchez completed his latest prison term in San Bernardino County for entering in the country without the proper documents.[13] He was released from San Francisco County Jail on April 15, and had no outstanding warrants or judicial warrants, as confirmed by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.[17]

Essentially, because San Francisco is a sanctuary city, Mr. Sanchez was let out of jail and killed Kathryn Steinle with a gun he had no right to possess. There are two things to pay close attention to here–tighter gun control laws would not have prevented Mr. Sanchez from having the gun–it was stolen, and had America enforced its border, Mr. Sanchez would not have been in the country. Better border security and better policies for deporting illegal immigrants would have saved Ms. Steinle’s life.

The Washington Times posted an article today about the Obama Administration’s response to the shooting of Kathryn Steinle.

The article reports:

The Senate was prepared to hold a test vote later Tuesday on the sanctuary city bill, which would strip some federal grant money from locales that refuse to cooperate with deportation agents. The bill would also clarify that local police can legally hold an illegal immigrant based on a request from a federal agent. Several court cases have called that into question.

The Obama Administration has a different solution:

The White House on Tuesday vowed to veto a bill designed to prevent sanctuary city deaths like the July killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, saying the solution is to legalize illegal immigrants, not to force cities and counties to cooperate in deporting them.

Legalizing Mr. Sanchez would not have accomplished anything, just as making it impossible for him to acquire a gun legally accomplished nothing. I am sure Mr. Sanchez would not have been able to pass a background check for a gun license, so what would stronger gun laws have accomplished? What would making Mr. Sanchez a citizen accomplished? He was in no danger of being deported–he was in a sanctuary city.

Common sense should rule on this issue–if an illegal alien commits an additional crime in America (he has already committed one crime–he is here illegally), he should immediately be sent home, and our border should be secure enough to keep him from finding his way back in.